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03.01.14

Deception Watch: AstroTurf, Lobbying, and Dirty Politics

Posted in Deception at 8:42 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Media Bias

  • BBC accused of political bias – on the right, not the left

    The BBC has been accused of yielding to political pressure since the last election and allowing a right-wing bias to emerge in its journalism.

    The serious criticism by a distinguished media professor suggests that the BBC has compromised its impartiality by depending too heavily on sources from business, the media, law and order and politics.

Covert Marketing

Politics

  • NY congressman threatens reporter at Capitol

    Rep. Michael Grimm, R-N.Y., is defending his actions after he physically threatened a reporter at the Capitol after President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address.

    The confrontation began Tuesday when Michael Scotto, a reporter for New York cable news station NY1, asked Grimm about a Justice Department investigation into his campaign finances.

    After cutting the interview short, Grimm told Scotto, “You ever do that to me again I’ll throw you off this (expletive) balcony.” He also threatened to “break (Scotto) in half.”

    NY1 posted video of the incident on its website.

  • Why Are the Franklin Center’s “Wisconsin Reporter” and “Watchdog.org” Attacking the John Doe?

    The Franklin Center for Government & Public Integrity (through its Wisconsin Reporter and Watchdog.org websites) has aggressively attacked the “John Doe” probe into possible campaign finance violations during Wisconsin’s 2011 and 2012 recall elections. Its outlets have also published new information about the apparent targets of the investigation, but they have omitted an important detail: Franklin Center has close ties to individuals and groups that may be caught up in the John Doe.

  • Fox News Editor Declares War on Pope Francis, Calls Him the Catholic Church’s Obama
  • Don’t Be Evil? Google Funding a Slew of Right-Wing Groups

    Google, the tech giant supposedly guided by its “don’t be evil” motto, has been funding a growing list of groups advancing the agenda of the Koch brothers.

    Organizations that received “substantial” funding from Google for the first time over the past year include Grover Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform, the Federalist Society, the American Conservative Union (best known for its CPAC conference) and the political arm of the Heritage Foundation that led the charge to shut down the government over the Affordable Care Act: Heritage Action.

South Korea

Revisionism

Consumerism and Distraction

  • Daddy’s Money

    This ad strongly promotes the values of consumerism, and implies that consumerism leads directly to happiness. In the ad, the girls bought these shoes, are wearing them, and are now fashionable, popular, and happy. This message encourages the belief that spending money and obtaining material goods is the only path to happiness for girls. This big lie will lower girls’ self-esteem and perhaps cause them to purchase unnecessary goods in their quest to appear cool and likeable.

  • Swartz, Fracking, Manning, GMO: 13 most underreported news stories of 2013

Finance Update: Bitcoin, the War on the Poor, AstroTurf by the Rich, and More

Posted in Finance at 8:35 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Bitcoin

US

  • Could Wal-Mart Be the Next Giant Failure in Retail?

    What’s worth keeping an eye on is whether the Sam’s Club layoffs are a symptom of much larger problems at Wal-Mart. The company has been a giant of retail for decades, but there are signs that its reign is coming to an end.

  • The Business Plan Of Wal-Mart Revealed

    Wal-Mart (WMT) reported today and by now, most people who follow the stock are aware of the highlights: EPS before special items, at $1.60, beat estimates by a penny; revenues fell short of estimates; same-store sales and traffic fell.

  • New York abandons plan to clear subways of sleeping homeless people

    A plan to clear homeless people from New York City subway trains in a pre-dawn Monday operation by police and transportation officials was abandoned amid pressure from campaigners.

    Dozens of homeless men and women sleeping on the seats of E line trains as they rolled into the World Trade Center terminal in the early hours were left alone, despite warnings that they would be asked to leave so cars could be cleaned.

    “It was postponed,” Kevin Ortiz, a spokesman for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, told the Guardian. “We decided not to go ahead. I can’t give you a specific reason why it was postponed. But it may well take place in the future”.

  • Angry Residents Wave Pitchforks, Torches In Protest Of Mayor’s Crackdown On Homelessness

    A group of fired-up activists in Portland, Ore., who were tired of seeing homeless people being mistreated staged the kind of protest that will be difficult for the mayor to ignore.

  • Robert Reich: WhatsApp is everything wrong with the U.S. economy

    The instant messaging service connects millions, but its record-breaking sale won’t generate new jobs

  • America’s “We” Problem

    America’s wealthy increasingly inhabit a different country from the one “they” inhabit, and America’s less fortunate seem as foreign as do the needy inhabitants of another country.

    The first step in widening the sphere of “we” is to break down the barriers — not just of race, but also, increasingly, of class, and of geographical segregation by income — that are pushing “we Americans” further and further apart.

UK

Central Europe

AstroTurf

  • A Portrait of Time Warner’s Active Role in ALEC

    Records obtained in 2011 from the office of Ohio Rep. John Adams, the ALEC public sector chair for the state, show how he worked closely with ALEC’s Ohio private sector chair, Time Warner Cable lobbyist Ed Kozelek, to raise funds for the national ALEC meeting held in Cincinnati in April 2011.

  • Simpson-Bowles anti-debt group is—pause to laugh—deeply in debt

    The gig is up for the everyone’s favorite deficit fetishists, Simpson and Bowles. It starts great with the headline: Anti-debt group finds itself in red.

  • Anti-debt group finds itself in red

    A year and a half after launching with much fanfare, a group affiliated with fiscal watchdogs Erskine Bowles and former Sen. Alan Simpson is nearly broke.

Misc.

Links 1/3/2014: Screenshot Galleries

Posted in GNU/Linux at 7:09 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Another Day of High-Level Abuses: Microsoft Kinect a Target of Spooks, Apple-PRISM Allegations, Ukraine Interventions…

Posted in News Roundup at 5:39 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: News from the past 24 hours about British and US surveillance, assassination, and outside intervention in East Europe

NSA/GCHQ

  • Nothing To Hide: An anti-stealth game in which you are your own watchdog

    Nothing To Hide is an “anti-stealth game,” in which you must carry cameras and spy gear to live in a world of self-surveillance and self-censorship. A world where you’re made to be your own watchdog. Released for The Day We Fight Back, the game is now seeking crowdfunding to complete the open source game—10% of what’s raised will first go to the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), Demand Progress, and the Freedom of the Press Foundation.

  • Let’s point a satellite at GCHQ and the NSA, and see how they feel

    Psssst! Wanna come in on a private satellite with me? They’re available, and they cost about $2m a year to run, so it would need an awful lot of us to club together via Kickstarter or some such.George Clooney’s got one. He trains it between Sudan and South Sudan, keeping a particular eye on the Hague-wanted president Omar al-Bashir, and uses the footage to draw attention to human rights violations. But in the wake of news that the Optic Nerve programme targeted and retained the webcam images of 1.8m UK internet users not suspected of wrongdoing, I’d like you to consider pointing ours somewhere pointed, such as the NSA or GCHQ. Just their car parks would do.

  • How to foil the NSA and GCHQ with strong encryption

    THE MOST INTERESTING DEVICE shown at Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona this week was the secure Blackphone developed by Silent Circle and Geeksphone.

  • This lecture is the one primer you need on NSA surveillance technology
  • Wiliest Ways to Keep the NSA at Bay

    “Whatever the level of cryptography you’re using, the NSA can probably break into your home network, install keyloggers and grab whatever they want — passwords, private PGP keys, screenshots, etc.,” said Cyril Soler, a developer on the RetroShare project. “This is always easier than breaking the encryption.” Their ability to do that is probably facilitated by backdoors.

  • Lavabit’s Ladar Levison on Snowden, Why He Shut Down, and How to Beat the NSA

    Levison was prohibited from discussing any details of the case until last October, when the court unsealed a portion of the documents. The unsealed records reveal that the FBI was demanding access to Lavabit’s Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) keys, which would essentially allow the agency access to all messages on Lavabit’s server. While the FBI was ostensibly targeting only a single user, Levison was unwilling to sacrifice the privacy of his other 400,000+ users.

  • Coviello ducks big questions and sticks to his script

    This year’s RSA Conference began with controversy. Even before Chairman Art Coviello took the stage to deliver his opening keynote, protesters unfurled banners on the Moscone Center reminding the world of RSA’s alleged complicity in enabling the NSA to access data that was believed to be secure.

    However, after an interview with Coviello, we are no closer to any meaningful information as he does a skilful job of obfuscating and avoiding questions regarding the NSA.

Webcams

Microsoft

  • Are the N.S.A. and G.C.H.Q. Trading Webcam Pictures?

    G.C.H.Q. was apparently also interested in tapping into Microsoft’s Kinect.

  • Xbox 360′s Kinect Evaluated as Surveillance Tool by British Intelligence Agency

    The Kinect for Xbox 360 was once considered for its potential use as a mass surveillance tool by the British Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), according to documents published by The Guardian.

    The GCHQ is the British equivalent to the United States’ NSA.

    The information comes from documents leaked by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. They document a program entitled “Optic Nerve” that collected images of users through their webcams, including users of Yahoo chats between 2008 and 2010.

Messaging

  • Tor developing anonymous instant messenger

    The instant messenger is still in the early planning stages, but Tor’s developers seem to be preparing to turn it around quickly. The messenger will be built on Instantbird, an existing open-source messenger, and development will largely involve adding in Off-the-Record Messaging encryption, making it send its messages over Tor, and stripping it of some automated logging and reporting features. Tor hopes to have its first step of work on the messaging app completed by the end of March, but it doesn’t draw a timeline for the project out from there.

  • Tor is building an anonymous instant messenger

    Tor, the team behind the world’s leading online anonymity service, is developing a new anonymous instant messenger client, according to documents produced at the Tor 2014 Winter Developers Meeting in Reykjavík, Iceland.

    The Tor Instant Messaging Bundle (TIMB) is set to work with the open-source InstantBird messenger client in experimental builds released to the public by March 31, 2014. The developers aim to build in encrypted off-the-record chatting and then bundle the client with the general Tor Launcher in the following months.

  • Goosestep Foot Forward

    Sutton displays precisely the mind-set of the security state, that led GCHQ to intercept the webcam chats of 1.4 million completely random British people, in the hope of finding Islamic terrorists. (They didn’t find any terrorists, but they did look at over 100,000 people masturbating). Sutton states that Begg must be a terrorist because ”a convicted Groupe Islamique Armé (GIA) supporter identified as ‘D’ ” had used Begg’s bookshop. And he calls me “conspiratorial”! The poor man must see terrorists everywhere. The fact that Moazzam Begg is now detained again, had been detained for years, has had everything belonging to him searched microscopically, and nothing has ever been found to justify a criminal charge of any kind, means nothing to witchfinder Sutton. That anti-Muslim bigot is plainly convinced of Moazzam Begg’s guilt, though as he has not been charged, of what is unsure.

Simon Phipps on Spying

  • Hope in Federations

    Facebook’s acquisition of WhatsApp gains them almost half a billion users worth of telephone data

  • Facebook’s Global Telco Dream

    Maybe there’s more to the Facebook acquisition of WhatsApp than just the centralised consolidation of users and user information that Simon denounced in his previous InfoWorld article . Perhaps this particular addition to their portfolio is Facebook’s move towards becoming the first truly global telco!

  • Surveillance Impact Not Just Personal

    Knowing we could be watched, as Jeremy Bentham observed, changes our behaviour; specifically, it chills our creativity. This in turn affects innovation and hence the economy. More directly, businesses (like RSA) are harmed by the disclosure of their for-profit collusion.

ORG

  • ICO Survey on the Code of Practice on Anonymisation

    Asking for comments and feedback on the code is a positive move, but the survey is not balanced to capture a variety of opinions. For example it asks whether the code explains the benefits of anonymisation, but not whether it explains the risks. And it doesn’t.

Apple

[First, watch AOL promoting the fiction that iMessage is secure. It’s not alone.]

Alexander

  • Limit surveillance to ‘terrorist communication,’ says outgoing NSA boss

    General Keith Alexander, the soon-to-be departed chief of the NSA, admitted Thursday in front of a congressional committee that the massive intelligence agency may be open to extracting less, or more targeted metadata from communication companies.

    Classified documents leaked last summer by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden revealed that the intelligence agency currently compels at least three major telephone providers – Verizon, Sprint, and AT&T – to turn over call information on millions of Americans. Among that information, known as metadata, is the duration of the call, the time the call was made, who the phone call was to, and where it originated.

Ukraine and Intervention

  • Vicky Nuland Gets Her New Government in Ukraine

    “Yats is the guy,” said Obama’s potty-mouthed Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, Victoria Nuland, in a recorded and widely disseminated discussion with the U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine earlier this year. She was referring to Arseni Yatsenyuk, the former foreign and economics minister who was confirmed as the interim Prime Minister of Ukraine today.

  • Ukraine was a Playbook CIA Coup d’état

    The very first act of the western-backed insurrectionists which represent a small percentage of the population and have managed to overthrow the government was to attempt rob Russian speakers in Ukraine of their language.

  • Armed Men Seize Control of Airports in Crimea, Ukraine

    Yanukovych is now in Russia and is expected to hold a news conference today. Meanwhile, the United States is rejecting claims that the change in power in Ukraine constitutes a coup. On Thursday, White House spokesperson Jay Carney said Yanukovych had “abdicated his responsibilities” and “undermined his legitimacy” by fleeing Kiev. Carney outlined U.S. plans to work with the new government.

  • Former pilot for Air America talks about work in Laos during Vietnam War

    But the secretive agency is no newcomer to American combat zones. In Vietnam, a war without battle lines, it played a behind-the-scenes role in advancing American interests.

  • What Does a Soviet Submarine Have to Do With U.S. Government Secrecy?

    Soon, intrepid journalists get wind of the operation and file Freedom of Information Act requests for more information. A CIA lawyer — operating under the cover name Walt Logan — thinks up a novel way to keep the mission secret without telling an all-out lie: refuse to confirm or deny whether records about the Glomar Explorer’s mission exist. One journalist sues over this confusing non-response, and a battle over government secrecy follows in court.

    [...]

    There are limited circumstances in which a Glomar response may be necessary to protect veritable government secrets, but as I’ve written before in The New York Times (with Jameel Jaffer) and in the NYU Law Review, it has been deployed far beyond acceptable bounds. Perhaps most disturbing is the way the government uses Glomar to facilitate selective and misleading disclosures. Government officials often “leak” information to the press that paints controversial programs in a positive light on the condition that the press withholds their names. But when asked to officially release records under FOIA, those officials clam up and hide behind the Glomar response. The result is an absurd double standard, and our democracy suffers for it.

Civil Rights

Drones

  • The Clear and Convincing Standard and Citizen Drone Strikes
  • I Was Beaten, Tortured: Pakistani Anti-Drone Activist Karim Khan on Being Abducted by Masked Men

    Pakistani anti-drone activist Karim Khan was abducted February 5, just before he was due to travel to Europe to speak out about U.S. drone strikes. He joins us to describe how he was held for nine days. During that time he says he was repeatedly tortured and beaten. In 2009, a U.S. drone killed Khan’s brother and son. He joins us from London, where he traveled to to meet with British lawmakers to raise concerns about the U.S. drone program. “They attacked our mosques, they attacked our schools, they attacked our schoolchildren, they attacked our teachers,” Khan says. “So everything is completely destroyed by these drone strikes.” We also speak with Khan’s lawyer, Shahzad Akbar. “This is what the human face of the victim is, and it is important that the American people are told about who these people are,” Akbar says. “They are being targeted in the name of national security, [but] what we see on the ground is that it is not really serving the national security interests of anyone.”

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