02.09.14

Human Rights Relativism

Posted in Deception at 10:54 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Putin
Putin in KGB uniform

Summary: Roundup of news about foreign policy that puts in perspective Russia’s own human rights abuses

Russia-hostile coverage of the Olympic games in Sochi is of course politically motivated. Coverage in the Western press is openly Russophobic, meaning that it’s actually driven by suppressed fear (phobia). Russia is definitely not good when it comes to human rights, but the press in the West may no longer be in a position of moral high ground. It takes many angles, such as gay rights, surveillance, and scepticism of US undercover agents [1,2]. Don’t pay too much attention to the hypocritical aspects of it all. The US, when it comes to many of those angle (including counter-terrorism and espionage), is hardly any better. Let’s look at some of the recent examples from the news.

“Russia and China are not extrajudicially assassinating thousands of people with air-to-ground missiles, neither domestically nor overseas.”First of all, trials over the “no fly” list prove to be a sham [3], and secret agents show that they simply don’t obey the law [4] and don’t think that they need to [5]. To them, even protests can now be viewed as “terrorism” [6]. This is what we should expect from Stalin, not the US. It’s a shame because the US used to stand for higher moral values.

Moving on down the news, Lithuania orders probe of CIA torture [7] and Poland too gets involved [8]. Bush started this tradition of torture 12 years ago [9] and Obama continues the tradition, which is beyond controversial, even among US citizens [10] (the US population hardly endorses this). A former CIA analyst who became a critic of the CIA recalls the important role played by Rep. Otis Pike, who is now dead [11]. Back when some elements of Congress and the White House ‘dared’ to confront the CIA (as Kennedy did before he was assassinated) Pike played an important role in fighting the NSA, CIA, etc. His death at this stage is somewhat poetic. The voices of opposition [12] are dying away, especially in the government. According to “Republican” Web sites (masquerading as “news”), the CIA has been grossly lying about Benghazi [13-15]. So-called “Democrat” Web sites are interested in keeping their clients in Congress, so they hardly bother reporting it.

In a Democrats-friendly newspaper, the New York Times, one writer asks “How Many Non-Combatants Are Killed by Drones?” [16]

This is a meaningless question because it uses the nebulous term “combatant”, which according to another (years older) report from the New York Times just means “adult male” (same as “militant”). In Pakistan, the CIA halted assassinations for about a month now [17-23] because an alternative approach is being attempted, not the extrajudicial assassination (by CIA) of people on NSA-gathered lists. After war crimes in Iraq [24] and growing hatred due to drone strikes in countries like Yemen [25] it seems reasonable to give peace a chance. It would not be beneficial to CIA budget (and NSA’s too), but it would at least respect people’s lives and help regain some consent/approval from the public. South Sudan has oil now, so expanders of militarism now eye this other region [26] (we covered this before). Opposition to drones has grown strong enough (with movies [27,28], protests [29] and articles [30-34]) to potentially ground (not crash [35]) the drones, but as the CIA-connected paper put it [36], it will be hard to cut budgets. The army-friendly press says [37] that “an international agreement before the U.S. modus operandi becomes the international norm.”

So, going back to Russia, put in perspective this older superpower’s policy. It is not necessarily the worst abuser of human rights. Russia and China are not extrajudicially assassinating thousands of people with air-to-ground missiles, neither domestically nor overseas.

What’s needed right now — universally –is respect for human rights, digital rights (like privacy) and other types of values. What we don’t need is hypocrisy, partisanship, and political manipulations by propaganda.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. CIA And FBI Agents Are Not Welcome At This Restaurant Outside Sochi
  2. Sochi restaurant won’t cater to FBI, CIA agents
  3. Entire Court Discussion Of Feds Blocking US Citizen From Flying To No Fly List Trial… Redacted

    We already wrote about the release of Judge Alsup’s ruling in the Rahinah Ibrahim case. However, I wanted to do a second post, concerning one of the issues that first grabbed our attention about the case — the fact that Ibrahim’s daughter, a US citizen, was put on the no fly list and blocked from flying to the US to be a witness at the trial. The DOJ insisted that this was untrue and the daughter had simply missed her flight — claims that were later proven to be outright lies. At the time, it appeared that Judge Alsup was not at all happy about this, and we hoped that this would result in some sort of sanctions or punishment for the federal government lying to a federal judge.

  4. CIA confirms agency obliged to follow federal surveillance law

    The CIA has confirmed that it is obliged to follow a federal law barring the collection of financial information and hacking into government data networks.

    But neither the agency nor its Senate overseers will say what, if any, current, recent or desired activities the law prohibits the CIA from performing – particularly since a section of the law explicitly carves out an exception for “lawfully authorized” intelligence activities.

  5. CIA can do what it can do, can’t do what it can’t do, can’t say what it can’t do, it says

    Central Intelligence Agency Director John Brennan last week was asked at a Senate hearing if the agency is subject to the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, a law that protects computer networks belonging to the government and to financial institutions from unauthorized access.

  6. Spying and Social Control: U.S. Government Labels Dissent As Terrorism

    Indeed, the government arbitrarily labels anyone it doesn’ t like – including American citizens – as “terrorists”.

  7. Lithuania orders probe of CIA torture

    A Lithuanian court has ordered an investigation of the torture of a Saudi Arabian terrorism suspect by Central Intelligence Agency operatives at a secret prison in the small Baltic nation.

    Amnesty International reports the Vilnius Regional Court has ordered a probe into the torture of Mustafa al-Hawsawi, who was sent to Lithuania via extraordinary rendition after being captured in Pakistan and handed over to US authorities in 2003.

  8. Poland may seek access to Guantanamo suspects

    Polish prosecutors may seek access to terror suspects detained by the U.S. at Guantanamo Bay for direct questioning as part of an investigation into whether a secret CIA prison operated here in 2002-2003, an official said Thursday.

    The prosecutors would need U.S. permission to question prisoners held at Guantanamo and are weighing whether to make a request. Washington has provided little help to Poland’s investigation, which was launched in 2008, and has already denied an appeal from Warsaw for assistance in gathering evidence.

  9. Anniversary of Bush Military Order Marks Need for Torture Report Release

    Today marks the 12th anniversary of a Bush Administration Military Order accepting the advice of counsel that the Geneva Conventions would not apply to the conflict with Al Qaeda and that detainees are not legally entitled to humane treatment. This decision to violate international law would open the door to one of the darkest chapters in recent U.S. history: years of torture that we are still grappling with today.

  10. RFK, Jr. Confronts CIA Lawyer On Torture (VIDEO)

    Very little is known about many of the activities at the Central Intelligence Agency. Even the stories that are revealed in the press are not able to give us the entire picture of what this agency is doing behind the scenes. Ring of Fire co-host Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. discusses the murky history of the CIA with author and former CIA attorney John Rizzo.

  11. When the CIA’s Empire Struck Back

    In the mid-1970s, Rep. Otis Pike led a brave inquiry to rein in the excesses of the national security state. But the CIA and its defenders accused Pike of recklessness and vowed retaliation, assigning him to a political obscurity that continued to his recent death, as Lisa Pease recounts.

  12. Fort Hollywood: ‘Lone Survivor’ and the Rush to ‘Remember’ What is Not Over

    As a former soldier and war resister, I no longer suffer from a military fetish. I’m not interested in war porn, not aroused by excessive on-screen violence. As a veteran, it might surprise you to hear that I am not interested in how Private Ryan was saved, or how the Brothers became a Band in the killing fields of Europe by killing the proverbial ‘bad guy’. I’m more interested in learning what brought these men to the killing fields. The background story, the political dimension; why these old men in Washington sent these young men to slaughter and die, and who profits from the carnage. But these inquiries hardly ever survive the cutting room floor.

  13. CIA director: Benghazi rescuers required to sign non-disclosure agreements because contracts being updated
  14. Report sheds light on ex-CIA deputy director’s role in Benghazi talking points

    The recently-released bipartisan Senate Intelligence Committee report on Benghazi sheds new light on the role of Michael Morell, the CIA’s former deputy director, in the official “talking points” explanations put forward after the attack.

  15. Revelations of CIA involvement with Benghazi Cover-up

    Regardless of Barack Obama’s unwillingness to answer Bill O’Reilly’s questions in the pre-Super Bowl interview, the White House led cover up of the truth behind the Benghazi attack won’t die.

  16. How Many Non-Combatants Are Killed by Drones?

    Adam Schiff, a Democratic congressman from California, urged the nation’s intelligence leaders today to get behind an important idea: The Obama administration, he said, should publish an annual report on American drone strikes, showing how many combatants and especially how many non-combatants are killed by unmanned aircraft each year.

  17. Day 77: Protesters send back 15 suspected NATO containers
  18. US halting drone attacks will be beneficial for dialogue: Imran

    In the interview with Bloomberg, Khan said terrorism would be fueled if talks failed and a military operation followed.

    The peace negotiations between the government and the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan will probably fail and a resulting military operation would lead to more violence, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf chairperson Imran Khan told Bloomberg.

  19. U.S. sharply curtails drone strikes in Pakistan: report
  20. U.S. to Curb Pakistan Drone Program

    The Obama administration will narrow its controversial drone program in Pakistan to target a short list of high-level terrorists, and aim to end it during the prime minister’s current term, senior U.S. officials have told their Pakistani counterparts.

  21. U.S. said to curtail drone strikes in Pakistan as officials there seek peace talks with Taliban

    The Obama administration has sharply curtailed drone strikes in Pakistan after a request from the government there for restraint as it pursues peace talks with the Pakistani Taliban, according to U.S. officials.

  22. Is Pakistan drone strike hiatus linked to peace talks?

    Peace talks between Pakistani authorities and the Taliban (TTP) have been delayed or derailed at least four times since January 2013 because of US drone strikes on high-ranking militants, the Bureau has found.

    It is now 43 days since the last reported US drone strike in Pakistan – the longest hiatus in over two years. Rahimullah Yusufzai, a Peshawar-based reporter who is part of the team negotiating with the TTP on behalf of the Pakistani government, confirmed to the Bureau that Islamabad had asked the US for a cessation of drone strikes during the latest round of peace talks, which started today.

  23. Pakistan wants end to US drone attacks: FO

    Pakistan on Thursday said it wanted a complete end to US drone strikes and not a decrease in their frequency.

  24. The truth about the criminal bloodbath in Iraq can’t be ‘countered’ indefinitely

    The media cover-up has been a weapon in the crimes of western states since the first world war.

  25. In Yemen, questions and anger over U.S. drone targets
  26. US military steps up operations in the Horn of Africa

    The Pentagon’s recently created East Africa Response Force (EARF) is here. Its soldiers flew at short notice to South Sudan in December to protect the US embassy and its staff, a lesson learnt from the catastrophic attack on the poorly defended US consulate in Benghazi.

  27. Robert Greenwald turns his lens on drone warfare in ‘Unmanned’

    Greenwald embodies the populism of George Bailey and the sly delight of a spy handed a secret dossier. His Brave New Films has skewered Wal-Mart, Fox News (Bill O’Reilly despises him) and the conservative politics of billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch. Greenwald’s narratives have criticized the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, and his latest documentary condemns the Obama administration’s drone program for killing civilians in Pakistan and other countries in a misguided strategy to combat terror.

  28. Killer robot flight: Video of UK’s autonomous drone released
  29. Why I stood in the rain for hours outside Brize Norton

    The UK and France have this funny relationship, but let’s not get into that. They’ve both signed a treaty to get rid of nuclear weapons but the UK government has already spent billions making the parts to renew Trident, our current nuclear arsenal, despite the vote on whether or not to renew it being in 2016. On top of this, at a time of huge cuts, austerity and job losses especially within local councils, our Prime Minister David Cameron met with French President Francois Hollande at Brize Norton RAF base to make a deal on a new, more autonomous drone, at a cost of £120m to the taxpayer. I stood outside with a banner.

  30. Drone Killing and Wars of Aggression are ILLEGAL!

    You have heard testimony that Weaponized Drones, including those flown from Hancock Air National Guard Base are on the front line of illegal wars in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia and other countries around the world. You have heard testimony that Armed Drones threaten civilian populations in these countries, and contrary to government assertions, kill indiscriminately, leaving a trail of dead civilians in their wake. Even the oft affirmed ‘militant’ target is a civilian in most cases, perhaps in every case depending whether American combatants can be said to be engaged in a legal war. According to Customary International Law and numerous treaties which I will now elaborate, these wars of aggression are illegal.

  31. Drones: From bad habit to terrible policy

    This culture of secrecy underscores the reality that real drone reform is on the verge of conclusively failing to launch. Despite months of political fury and negative press, the drone program and its worst impulse — to kill without accountability for who is killed and why — are poised to become a permanent part of the way the United States conducts counterterrorism.

  32. 6 Unanswered Questions About Obama’s Drone War

    On January 23, 2009, President Barack Obama authorized his first drone strike. The attack, launched against a compound in northwestern Pakistan, killed between 7 and 15 people—but missed the Taliban hideout the Central Intelligence Agency thought it was targeting. Over the next five years, the CIA carried out more than 390 known drone strikes in Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia. (The agency carried out 51 drone strikes between 2004 and 2009, during the Bush administration.)

  33. Former Bush AG Alberto Gonzales Says Obama’s Drone War Exceeded the Law

    Brace yourself: George W. Bush’s former attorney general, Alberto Gonzales, is arguing publicly that the Obama administration’s drone war exceeds legal limits on executive authority. As anyone with a memory of Gonzales’s tenure under Bush knows, this is more than a little ironic.

  34. Killer Robot: What Crosses the Line?

    Expect the activism to grow.

  35. Unmanned drone crash closes White Sand National park

    An unmanned drone from Holloman Air Force Base crashed at White Sands National Monument.

  36. Defense contracts are hard to kill. Does that show up in lobbying totals?

    Over the weekend, my colleague Marjorie Censer published a story that tells us a lot about why the U.S. military costs so much: Legislators won’t let the people in uniform spend less money, even when expensive programs outlive their usefulness. In this case, it’s the iconic tank, which BAE Systems has built in York, Pa., since the 1960s. Though modern warfare requires more long-range systems like drones and missiles than overwhelming force on the ground, Congress has continued to give the Army more money than it’s even asked for to keep building expeditionary fighting vehicles.

  37. Sign a Drone Treaty Before Everyone Does as We Do

    We need an international agreement before the U.S. modus operandi becomes the international norm.

Docker Grows Fast and Releases Version 0.8

Posted in Free/Libre Software at 10:06 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: The latest news about Docker, which can simplify GNU/Linux and unify it in the compatibility sense

Docker has released a new version [1] of its good software that’s already receiving honours and awards. It expands to more platforms [2], adds staff [3], and also attracts big funding [4,5]. This is actually a very important project that deserves more media attention.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. Docker Releases Faster, More Stable Version 0.8

    Even though this release does not focus on new features, there were still a few additions worth mentioning. Most of the features deal with making Docker faster, more efficient, and more stable. Docker added experimental support for the BTRFS (“butter fs”? “better fs”? I say butter) filesystem, which adds copy-on-write capability, and should open the door for more interesting functionality as development continues. The most intriguing new feature may turn out to be official support for running Docker on OS X. Apple has become very popular in the developer community in the past few years, especially among web developers. Official support for OS X will help the project gain even more traction.

  2. Docker Brings Open-Source Container Virtualization to Apple Mac OS X

    The Docker 0.8 release introduces new features and a new release model as a popular new approach to virtualization ramps up.

  3. Why Red Hat’s Roger Egan Joined Docker

    Docker also is speaking with regional systems integrators to ensure customers can move workloads from on-premises to the cloud. “This idea of Linux-based containers is taking off,” said Egan. Obviously, Egan hopes channel partners will be along for the ride.

  4. Docker Raises $15M For Its Open-Source Platform That Helps Developers Build Apps In The Cloud

    The shift to scale out architectures and an app-centric culture has turned out well for Docker and its lightweight open-source “container” technology designed for developers to quickly move code to the cloud.

  5. Docker Raises $15M to Advance Open-Source Container Virtualization

Stallman’s Views: 10-Part Series of Opinions on Non-GNU Matters

Posted in GNU/Linux at 9:57 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Lemote
Photo by Pratheesh Prakash

Summary: Prelude to a series of video interviews with the father of Free (as in freedom) software

IT HAS been a while since we least released an episode with Stallman. We published 6 short videos where Stallman spoke about the early days of GNU back in the 1980s. There is a new comment from a valued reader who says “Linux has nothing to do with Stallman.”

“It’s not as though Apple and Microsoft would have thrown away their kernels to replace them with pre-1.0 Linux back in 1991.”It depends what one means by “Linux”. A lot of people use the word to refer to the GNU system which was extended by the inclusion of Linux. And even if they refer only to the kernel, where would if it be if had no system to be integrated into (the first person to do this was a colleague of mine in Manchester Computing)? It’s not as though Apple and Microsoft would have thrown away their kernels to replace them with pre-1.0 Linux back in 1991. In that sense, Linux is somewhat indebted to GNU.

A new post [1] shows a very deceiving timeline from the Linux Foundation, where Stallman only shows up some time around 1992, almost a decade after he started building the GNU system. This is revisionism and a distortion of history. It’s not the first and it motivates or justifies the need for rebuttals. In the coming weeks we are going to release several different videos of Stallman talking about non-technical matters or Internet matters which do not involve operating systems. Stallman explains, among other things, that he believes demonisation of him might be part of a paid campaign. Incitations against him are common and they are usually not hinged on facts.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. XX != Years of Linux

    There’s a big problem with this “20 Years of Linux” graph, and many “XX Years of Linux” graphs as most all show an incomplete history or timeline of events and milestones. The one below for example.

Apple Feels the Pinch of Linux and Starts Buying Its Own Stock

Posted in Apple at 9:37 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Apple follows Microsoft’s footsteps by trying to artificially elevate its value following huge pressure from Linux-based counterparts

OVER THE years we have covered Microsoft’s financial misconduct, including purchasing of its own stock to create an illusion. The creator of illusions still runs Microsoft and as ITWire put it, it’s not really Nadella in charge. He is just a public face, a marketing strategy of sorts. To quote Sam Varghese: “There are two reasons why Nadella (seen above with Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer) will find it difficult to guide the ship. One is bald, ebullient and named Steve Ballmer. The other still has hair, a whiny voice, and is named Bill Gates.”

“It is likely to hurt every large company that’s accustomed to total domination over users.”Another new article from ITWire says that “Tech giant Apple has shocked the stock market, repurchasing US$14 billion worth of its own stock in the last two weeks after disappointing first-quarter results, according to the Wall Street Journal.”

Apple — like Microsoft — has been suffering from Linux and Android for quite some time. We recently covered the mysterious deletion of Pear OS from the Web, which still makes some people wonder [1]. Given the hostile coverage of Red Star Linux in many pro-Apple sites (it’s not over yet [2]), Apple sure worries about the loss of its identity to GNU and Linux. According to [3], Apple is falling behind Android when it comes to hardware and not only Apple is concerned [4]. Google shares some of Apple’s concerns [5] (large companies take Android in another direction) and as Android becomes hugely important in the world’s largest/most populated nations [6] it seems likely that smears will be needed [7]. The matter of fact is, not only Apple is in jeopardy because of Android players [8]; a lot of the industry seems to be at ‘threat’ because of this thing called “Free software”, which spreads fast and clings onto everything.

As Nokia demonstrates, not every company which claims to be embracing Android is automatically Android’s friend. There are several silly articles urging Microsoft to dump Windows and fork Android — suggestions that are being slammed even by Microsoft boosters right now (no links needed). Then there’s Facebook, which is partly owned by Microsoft. The company that auto-uploads photos and gives all data to marketers and the NSA claims to bring “security” to Android phones.

Decentralisation of development is generally a good thing that prevents abuse of power. It is likely to hurt every large company that’s accustomed to total domination over users. Examples include Microsoft, Apple, and Google (the Nexus series is a disservice to user, unless it’s purchased only for the hardware and then reflashed).

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. The Case of the Missing OS, or Did Apple Eat Pear?

    Case in point: Pear OS. One day it’s freely available for download, offering a remarkably Mac-like experience that’s nevertheless based on Linux. The next day — specifically, last Monday — it’s gone.

  2. Supreme leaders prefer Apple: North Korea’s home-grown Red Star Linux switches to OS X
  3. Apple needs to catch Samsung, Amazon in displays, researcher says

    In a research note outlining the leading display technologies in 2014, DisplayMate Technologies Raymond Soneira claims Apple has some catching up to do.

  4. Google Is Clamping Down On The Android Open Source Project — Here’s Why

    The proliferation of these forked AOSP Android devices on the mainstream market is harmful to Google’s proprietary mobile services.

    Right now, any developer or company can use AOSP to create an alternative Android operating system that cuts Google off from significant OS revenue. Amazon’s Kindle Fire ecosystem is a prominent example. The foundation OS is Android but Amazon developed its own app store, content store, Web browser, and email services, essentially cutting Google out of several of its key services and potential revenue streams.

  5. Steve Jobs, Google CEO plotted ‘gentlemen’s agreement’ to keep wages down – report

    Two of the most powerful people in the technology world secretly and perhaps illegally coordinated business strategies in which they agreed not to poach each other’s employees, thereby keeping salaries low, according to emails unveiled in federal court.

    Apple founder Steve Jobs and Google CEO Eric Schmidt apparently kept a secret pact to institute a “no-hire” policy in which each executive promised not to recruit each other’s workers. Yet the tech superstars are just two of the business leaders to be implicated in the wink-wink agreement, which reportedly included Google, Apple, Intel, Adobe, Intuit, and Pixar.

  6. Android/Linux Is The Most Popular OS In India

    The world should hear that the number one OS for page-views in India is now Android/Linux. Thanks Google, Samsung and all the others that helped this happen. India is being freed from monopoly by Free/Libre Open Source Software and ARMed personal computers.

  7. Tim Cook: ‘Android is Like Europe’, Many Different Things Under One Name

    Apple CEO Tim Cook compared Android to Europe in his wide-ranging interview with The Wall Street Journal yesterday, saying that the PC and mobile platform wars couldn’t be compared. Cook said that Android is made up of many different things under one banner, as opposed to Windows which was one uniform platform.

  8. Will Amazon destroy the Apple TV with an Android console?

    Today in Open Source: Amazon preps Android gaming and TV console launch for later this year.

IRC Proceedings: December 22nd, 2013 – February 8th, 2014

Posted in IRC Logs at 7:13 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

IRC Proceedings: December 22nd, 2013-December 28th, 2013

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IRC Proceedings: December 29th, 2013-January 4th, 2014

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IRC Proceedings: January 5th-January 11th, 2014

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IRC Proceedings: January 12th-January 18th, 2014

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IRC Proceedings: January 19th-January 25th, 2014

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IRC Proceedings: January 26th-February 1st, 2014

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IRC Proceedings: February 2nd-February 8th, 2014

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