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Links 14/5/2014: More NSA Leaks, GCHQ Sued

Posted in News Roundup at 6:38 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

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Free Software/Open Source


  • Amazon bans seller after threatening to sue customer for negative review

    Happened to me more than once. In my attempt to treat myself with something nice from Amazon, I occasionally end up with the wrong product. Something that’s not exactly what I had in mind when hitting the “add to basket” button. Something that didn’t match my expectations or simply of inferior quality by my standards. It’s times like these I find myself contemplating whether I should leave a negative review or simply not bother. I usually go for the latter one. But had I known what an impact that decision can have, I might have gone the opposite way.

  • Watch a Congressman Pick His Ear and Eat It Live on CSPAN

    Here’s a great way to start your Tuesday: During a House Judiciary Committee meeting last week, Rep. Joe Garcia (D-FL) picked his ear, looked at the wax on his finger, and then ate it.

  • P&G Detergent Pulled in Germany Over Neo-Nazi Code Found On Packages
  • Science

    • The Science of Your Racist Brain

      When the audio of Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling telling a female friend not to “bring black people” to his team’s games hit the internet, the condemnations were immediate. It was clear to all that Sterling was a racist, and the punishment was swift: The NBA banned him for life. It was, you might say, a pretty straightforward case.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Did the CIA’s Fake Polio Vaccination Program in Pakistan Help Fuel a Global Health Emergency?

      The World Health Organization has designated the spread of polio in Asia, Africa and the Middle East a global public health emergency requiring a coordinated “international response.” Three countries pose the greatest risk of further spreading the paralyzing virus: Pakistan, Cameroon and Syria. In an unusual step, the WHO recommended all residents of those countries, of all ages, to be vaccinated before traveling abroad. The organization also said another seven countries – Afghanistan, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Iraq, Israel, Nigeria and Somalia – should “encourage” all their would-be travelers to get vaccinated. Until recently, polio had been nearly eradicated thanks to a 25-year campaign that vaccinated billions of children. In Pakistan, the increase in polio is being linked to a secret CIA ploy used in the hunt for Osama bin Laden. With the help of a Pakistani doctor, the CIA set up a fake vaccination campaign in the city of Abbottabad in an effort to get DNA from the bin Laden family. The Taliban subsequently announced a ban on immunization efforts and launched a string of deadly attacks on medical workers. We are joined by two guests: Rafia Zakaria, a columnist for Dawn, Pakistan’s largest English newspaper, who has been covering the rise of polio in Pakistan since the bin Laden raid; and one of Pakistan’s leading polio experts, Dr. Zulfiqar Bhutta.

    • Food Defenders Protest Corporate Takeover of ‘Organic’ Standards

      Champions of organic food brought the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) meeting to a halt on Tuesday as they raised their voices against what they see as the takeover of the organic standards by the corporate food industry.

    • Chernobyl: Capping a Catastrophe

      Against the decaying skyline here, a one-of-a-kind engineering project is rising near the remains of the world’s worst civilian nuclear disaster.

    • WHO Issues New Report on Antibiotic Resistance

      The World Health Organization (WHO) has issued a new report on antibiotic resistance (ABR). It details resistance to antibacterial drugs in different parts of the world, along with resistance data on specific pathogens such as the resistance of E. coli bacteria to third-generation cephalosporins and fluoroquinolones. The report outlines the health and economic burden due to antibiotic resistance and looks specifically at antibiotic resistance in food-producing animals and the food chain.

  • Security

  • Defence/Police/Secrecy/Aggression

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

    • Landmark Report Warns Time Is Running Out To Save U.S. From Climate Catastrophe

      The National Climate Assessment is the definitive statement of current and future impacts of carbon pollution on the United States. And the picture it paints is stark: Inaction will devastate much of the arable land of the nation’s breadbasket — and ruin a livable climate for most Americans.

    • Australia: Budget to cut youth off welfare

      In a little-publicised speech last Saturday, Social Services Minister Kevin Andrews confirmed that tonight’s federal budget will include draconian attacks on young people, especially those who are unemployed or disabled. Andrews announced that the Liberal-National government will enforce a system of “Earn or Learn”—extending measures that were introduced by the previous Labor government.

    • New Zealand refuses climate change refugees – mass action is now needed

      New Zealand’s court of appeal has refused refugee status to a family from Kiribati, a Pacific island which is quickly sinking beneath the sea

  • Finance

    • Private Prisons Eat Our Humanity

      Somebody figured out, once again, how to build a machine that can quantify the life of an African-American man and make money off him. They figured out how to use the value of his body to fuel their machine. They learned how to drive its engine, and how to turn a profit. They call it prison privatization. I call it mining black gold, and I have watched black gold be mined from the streets of my community every day.

      I make my home in Tennessee — and for too long, so has the Corrections Corporation of America. To a company like CCA, our country’s oldest and biggest for-profit prison corporation, each young black man that goes into the prison machine represents more than $20,000 a year. To CCA, a company that profits off of human bodies, mass incarceration equals mass profits. While their profits soar, we suffer.

    • It Could Cost Indiana $125 Million To Avoid The Common Core

      Indiana’s Legislative Services Agency released its report on the expected costs of implementing the state’s alternative to the Common Core and found they could be as high as $125 million.

      The reason for the high cost begins with the initial switch and development of the new standards, costing $26 million. This comes after the state already spent $6 million to adhere to the Common Core before Governor Mike Pence (R) signed the legislation rejecting the federal standards in March.

      The rest of the costs come from retraining programs for the state’s teachers, which could be as high as $2,000 a teacher. However, if adequate online resource are secured, as Fordham Institute notes, the costs could fall to $500 a teacher. This means the final price tag could range from $32.5 million to $125 million.

    • Labour reveals tax data showing UK economic growth ‘only helps top 1%’

      Party cites HMRC figures showing bottom 90% of taxpayers share less post-tax income but top 300,000 have more

    • Asian logging companies ‘use British islands for tax dodging’

      Calls for crackdown as investigation finds huge Indonesian corporations evading tax through network of secret shell companies in British Virgin Islands and other tax havens

    • After the crash, we need a revolution in the way we teach economics

      Students who claim that economics courses fail to explain the 2008 crash are gaining support from British business. Here, two Cambridge academics agree it’s time for a change

    • The Death of American Universities

      As universities move towards a corporate business model, precarity is being imposed by force.

    • No-boss Britain: entrepreneurs or out of options?

      Britain’s self-employed army can no longer be ignored. For the first time in the country’s modern history, a significant proportion of the labour market (one in seven) has no boss. According to official figures, the number of registered self-employed workers has risen by more than 600,000 since 2010 – an unprecedented increase of around 15 per cent that shows few signs of subsiding.

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

    • Top Six Facts in the Walker Dark Money Criminal Probe

      In the wake of a federal court’s recent ruling halting a state criminal investigation into spending during the 2011 and 2012 recall elections for Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and other candidates, misinformation about the investigation and court rulings has run rampant.

  • Censorship

  • Privacy

    • Glenn Greenwald to recount NSA story in new PBS Frontline film – live chat
    • The United States of Secrets

      Michael Kirk: There was an agency in the United States of America that had spied on and got its fingers slapped for doing it in the 1970s. The great bright white line at the agency, which was unbelievably powerful in its ability to surviel, eavesdrop, and wiretap, was never turn those eyes and ears towards Americans. And the people who worked there believed it. And then, this thing called 9/11 happened and (…) faster than you could imagine, the rules were changed. The lines were blurred, and the government, the National Security Agency, turned all of that power on the American people, and the people who did the turning, the scientists (…) witnessed it and many many of them worried about it, and talked to us.

    • NSA routinely tapped in-flight Internet, intercepted exported routers
    • NSA reform: lawmakers aim to bar agency from weakening encryption

      Concerned about weaknesses in USA Freedom Act, Zoe Lofgren and colleagues pushing to prevent NSA from weakening online encryption with new amendment

    • NSA Bill on Fast Track; Lofgren Preps Security Provision
    • IETF plans to NSA-proof all future internet protocols

      The IETF has taken the next small step down the long, long road of protecting user traffic from spooks, snoops and attackers, setting down the basic architectural principle that new protocols should resist monitoring.

    • NSA Reportedly Adds Backdoors To US-Made Routers
    • NY Times, Justice Dept. under fire for concealing info on NSA snooping

      The New York Times and the Justice Department are under fire for bowing to the National Security Agency and either hiding (the Times) or misinforming (DOJ) the public about crucial pieces of the NSA’s secret spying programs.

    • At US gov request, NYT’s Bill Keller spiked NSA spying story in 2004

      Part of that story is highlighted on PRI’s ‘The World’ radio show today. After 9/11, the National Security Agency wanted new ways to spy on electronic interactions in the US. “The Program, as it was called, spied on telephones, Internet connections, metadata from emails and almost every form of electronic communication.”

    • Open source tool encrypts Facebook chats

      Facebook’s messaging application doesn’t support encryption, but an open-source chat program, Cryptocat, has made it possible to chat with friends there over an encrypted connection.

    • The Move Toward Computing That Reads Your Mind

      Like many people in this modern world, I struggle with the tension between the conveniences offered by the latest technology and the loss of privacy that comes with them.

      Nowhere is this devil’s bargain more evident than in the blossoming field of so-called contextual computing.

      When I picked up my phone earlier this week, it told me — without a single tap on my part — that my estimated commute time was 51 minutes and that I had a lunch scheduled with a friend. The friend’s Facebook photo showed up next to the appointment.

      The phone also showed my other appointments that day and a customized feed of news and weather, and it gave me the flight status of an approaching trip.

      Sadly, it did not bring me coffee.

      My phone is trying to anticipate my needs based on what it knows about me — the context of my life. And what it knows seems like almost everything.

    • Silent Circle relocates to Switzerland
    • Tory ‘push’ to give MI5 more powers to spy on internet

      Conservative ministers are pushing for the security services to be given new powers to spy on people’s internet use amid claims they might have saved Drummer Lee Rigby

    • Privacy group takes aim at UK surveillance practices

      Privacy International files legal complaint that accuses GCHQ of installing malware on millions of devices without their owners’ permission.

    • Snooping tools GCHQ could use to hack your phone’s microphone, camera and keypad: Nosey Smurf, Gumfish and Foggybottom

      The civil rights group Privacy International has today launched the groundbreaking legal challenge at the Investigatory Powers Tribunal in London, claiming that GCHQ’s alleged use of such spying techniques is “incompatible with democratic principles and human rights standards”.

    • UK: GCHQ sued over ‘unlawful hacking’
    • Privacy International sues British spooks
    • GCHQ litigated over ‘unlawful hacking’

      UK Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) has been sued by Rights group Privacy International on Tuesday, demanding an end to surveillance programs deemed to be “incompatible with democratic principles and human rights standards.”

    • Blink bought out by Yahoo

      The makers of a mobile phone app that allows users to chat to each other and then destroy the messages have confirmed the sale of the business to Yahoo.

    • Making your email impossible to intercept will also make it useless

      Say you wanted to send an email more secure than any message that had ever been transmitted in human history, a message with absolutely no chance of being intercepted. How would you do it?

    • OPINION: US Use of Metadata for Targeted Killings Shocking Even for Intel Operatives

      The recent revelation by former NSA and CIA head Michael Hayden that metadata is used for targeting killings shocked many including fellow US intelligence operatives, Melvin Goodman, a former CIA analyst and fellow at the Washington-based Center for International Policy, told RIA Novosti Tuesday.

      “It was shocking to hear that confirmed at such a high level,” Goodman said, adding that Hayden’s smug manner had made the comments even worse.

    • New Spying Claims: Australian Spy Agency Sought Help of U.S. for More Surveillance on Australians

      Documents from a U.S. agency had revealed that Australia has sought the help of the Americans to increase surveillance on suspected terrorists. According to The Guardian, Australia’s intelligence agency needed the help of the U.S. spy agency to monitor Australians suspected of having ties with extremists.

    • Snowden docs: GCSB links to US spying programmes

      New documents released by whistleblower Edward Snowden show New Zealand’s GCSB closely enmeshed with some of the most controversial parts of the United States’ spying apparatus.

      The documents were released with journalist Glenn Greenwald’s new book No Place To Hide, which tells the story of Snowden’s National Security Agency disclosures and what they mean.

    • The CIA is Stalking Me…Online

      The NSA is the powerhouse agency for code breaking, and while such activities are beyond my capacity, others quickly figured out the simple letter substitution code. It reads, “Want to know what it takes to work at NSA? Check back each month to explore careers essential to protect in [SIC] your nation.” I’ll forgive them the failed grammar at the end given that they did have to code the whole thing.

      It’s both a sign of how hard agencies are working to try to land talent, a broader issue in general for the government and government contractors especially in the face of the bad publicity surrounding the Edward Snowden disclosures, and the evolving landscape of modern intelligence work. It used to be that a well-placed professor would recommend you to a recruiter, and a guy dressed like Dick Tracy would show up to take your temperature.

      I’m flattered, CIA, that you are interested. Really, it’s nice to be wanted. But admittedly I’m a bit squeamish. I prefer to work in a dying profession (journalism) as opposed to one which involves people dying.

    • NSA Gave Canada Money For Surveillance Program

      The National Security Agency paid Canada to help develop its surveillance capabilities, according to documents published by Glenn Greenwald in a new book.

    • Canadian spies receive U.S. money for research and surveillance, book says
    • Canada actively spies for NSA, Glenn Greenwald claims in new book
    • Glenn Greenwald says NSA bugs tech hardware en route to global customers

      American journalist Glenn Greenwald is accusing the U.S. National Security Agency of breaking into tech hardware to install surveillance bugs before the products are shipped to unsuspecting global customers, in a new book about the NSA’s mass surveillance practices.

    • The American Republic Is Dead
    • Glenn Greenwald wants to keep the leaks flowing

      GQ has a lengthy interview this week with the journalist who helped engineer Edward Snowden’s NSA leaks in advance of his book No Place to Hide. In true Greenwald fashion, he doesn’t hold back: he rips the The New York Times for acting like the government is on its editorial board, trashes Hillary Clinton as “banal, corrupted, drained of vibrancy and passion” and blasts Tim Russert, the late dean of Sunday political talks shows.

  • Civil Rights

    • Video: War On Terror Led To Worldwide Increase Of Torture
    • Rand Paul, save us from the criminal CIA

      Future American historians will marvel at how long the CIA engaged in such utter unconstitutional lawlessness as the torture of its captives and drone-plane executions of alleged terrorists – including U.S. citizens – without trials, using “kill lists” provided by President Barack Obama (“Obama’s kill list – All males near drone strike sites are terrorists,” rt.com, May 30, 2012).

    • Violence in Britain: how the war on terror criminalises ordinary people

      It is now accepted that the war on terror has generated an extensive repertoire of its very own terror. Drone strikes resulting in extrajudicial killings, rendition and torture – zones of exception like Guantanamo Bay come to mind, as does Britain’s complicity in extraordinary rendition and torture.

      Then there are the normalised, everyday forms of terror operational in Britain that rarely register as state-sanctioned violence because they are understood to keep us safe. This includes MI5 and police raids without charge, compulsory schedule 7 detention and questioning and stop and search of communities made suspect.

    • Even terrorism should not justify denying people citizenship

      Should your government be able to take away your citizenship? In the United Kingdom, the government has had the legal authority to revoke naturalized Britons’ citizenship since 1918. But, until the terrorist bombings on the London transport system in 2005, this power was rarely exercised. Since then, the government has revoked the citizenship of 42 people, including 20 cases in 2013. British Home Secretary Theresa May has said that citizenship is “a privilege, not a right.”Most of the 42 held dual nationality. Mohamed Sakr, however, did not. His parents came to the United Kingdom from Egypt, but he was not an Egyptian citizen. Therefore, by stripping him of citizenship, the British government made him stateless.

    • 2013 Stop and Frisk Numbers Underscore Need to Begin Reforms
    • 23 Cops Shoot Unarmed Car Occupants, And Each Other, 377 Times (VIDEO)
    • Calls to class far-right Jewish settlers as terrorists after Israeli soldiers attacked

      Senior ministers Tzipi Livni and Yitzhak Aharonovitch condemn ‘price-tag’ attacks as author Amos Oz calls militants neo-Nazis

    • The Declaration of Independence—Except for ‘Indian Savages’

      The most sacred document wherein the U.S. celebrates its Fourth of July holiday, the Declaration of Independence, is known for having some of the most revolutionary words in history in regards to the equality of men who at the time had been forever accustomed to having caste-like systems whether it be Empires, noblemen and serfs, or a monarchy rule the American colonialists lived under.

    • Exclusive: Found after 500 years, the wreck of Christopher Columbus’s flagship the Santa Maria

      Shipwreck found off coast of Haiti thought to be one of the most significant underwater discoveries in history

    • Noam Chomsky and the Public Intellectual in Turbulent Times

      Noam Chomsky is a world renowned academic best known not only for his pioneering work in linguistics but also for his ongoing work as a public intellectual in which he has addressed a number of important social issues that include and often connect oppressive foreign and domestic policies – a fact well illustrated in his numerous path breaking books.(1) In fact, Chomsky’s oeuvre includes too many exceptionally important books to single out any one of them from his extraordinary and voluminous archive of work. Moreover, as political interventions, his many books often reflect both a decisive contribution and an engagement with a number of issues that have and continue to dominate a series of specific historical moments over the course of 50 years. His political interventions have been historically specific while continually building on the power relations he has engaged critically. For instance, his initial ideas about the responsibility of intellectuals cannot be separated from his early criticisms of the Vietnam War and the complicity of intellectuals in brokering and legitimating that horrendous act of military intervention.(2) Hence, it becomes difficult to compare his 1988 book, Manufacturing Consent, coauthored with Edward S. Herman, with his 2002 bestseller, 9/11. Yet, what all of these texts share is a luminous theoretical, political, and forensic analysis of the functioning of the current global power structure, new and old modes of oppressive authority, and the ways in which neoliberal economic and social policies have produced more savage forms of global domination and corporate sovereignty.

    • Global crisis on torture exposed by new worldwide campaign

      “Governments around the world are two-faced on torture – prohibiting it in law, but facilitating it in practice” said Salil Shetty, Amnesty International’s Secretary General, as he launched Stop Torture, Amnesty International’s latest global campaign to combat widespread torture and other ill-treatment in the modern world.

    • Guest blog: Estonia and the risks of internet voting

      Two reasons: Firstly Estonia is regularly held up as a model of e-government and e-voting that many countries, including the UK, wish to emulate. Secondly, after years of e-voting being off the UK agenda (thanks in part to ORG’s previous work in this area), the chair of the Electoral Commission recently put the idea of e-voting for British elections back in play.

    • Harvard’s Kennedy School Adds Privilege-Checking to New-Student Orientation
    • Florida Couple Fined, Threatened with Jail for Feeding Homeless
  • Internet/Net Neutrality

    • Canada Won’t Escape the FCC’s Gutting of Net Neutrality

      Yesterday, sources told the New York Times that the FCC wants to allow internet service providers to jack rates for higher speed delivery of certain content like online video, which will likely create a tiered system: those who can pay to deliver their content in the fast lane, and those who can’t. In an email, Canadian digital policy expert Professor Michael Geist didn’t mince words: “If the reports are true—the FCC is [vaguely] denying it tonight—it guts net neutrality in the United States.”


      As Geist explained to me, there isn’t “a practical difference between deliberately slowing some traffic and deliberately speeding up other traffic.” To him, the end result is unavoidable: “A two-tier Internet based on payments from content owners that can afford it. That strikes at the heart of net neutrality.”

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • US Expelled Saudi Students For Using Pirate Software, Official Says

        The head of copyright issues in the Saudi Arabian Ministry of Culture and Information says that U.S. authorities expelled 34 Saudi students from the United States after they were found using pirated software. Forty other citizens were denied entry into the U.S. on the same grounds, the source claims.

      • Hadopi Recommends Super Injunctions to Keep Pirate Content Down

        Today, French anti-piracy agency HADOPI handed the government a long-awaited report on the development of “operational tools” for dealing with online piracy. Several key areas are outlined, including the creation of a new type of takedown notice designed not only to take content offline, but keep it offline for up to six months.

      • Commander Hadfield’s Amazing Cover Of David Bowie’s Space Oddity Disappears Today, Thanks To Copyright

        A year ago, we wrote a whole post looking at the copyright questions raised by Canadian astronaut, Commander Chris Hadfield, doing a cover version of David Bowie’s “Space Oddity,” along with an astounding music video in space, as he prepared to return to earth. Hadfield, for months, had been a great ambassador for the space program, using a variety of social media to communicate with folks back on the planet about what his day was like. The “Space Oddity” video just cemented his place as a key figure helping to generate interest in the space program through regular public communications with everyone in a very accessible way.

      • “U.S. Prisons Play Pirated Movies to Inmates”

        The former operator of USAWarez.com and USATorrents.com, who has served more than two years in prison for copyright infringement, has outed several prisons for showing pirated movies to their inmates. One of the prisons mentioned says that the matter is still under investigation.

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