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01.04.15

Just in: Fresh Call From Croatia to Arrest EPO Vice-President Željko Topić

Posted in Europe at 4:15 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Željko Topić is called a “corrupt Balkans gangster” amid many corruption charges against him in Croatia

The only EPO manager who can challenge his boss when it comes to corruption is Mr. Topić, who faces many corruption charges. In a new interview published by dnevno.hr [PDF] we are beginning to see what we were about to show in the coming weeks. Topić is a thug and probably a serious white-collar criminal; the fact that he managed to become EPO Vice-President says a lot about the EPO itself. For Topić this is just one among many battles. He earned notoriety and many enemies in his home country for legitimate reasons.

“The Croatian news portal dnevno.hr,” informs us a source, “recently had a big interview with the Croatian entrepreneur Rikard Frgacic who is involved in various lawsuits against the Croatian SIPO and Mr. Topić. and Lufthansa concerning the allegedly corrupt reassignment of a trademark (“Airplus”) to Lufthansa.

“The interview takes place against the background of the current Presidential election campaign in Croatia and it includes a mention of Mr. Topić.

“Here is the commentary that was forwarded from Croatia:

Enclosed you can find Mr. Frgacic’ interview for portal “Dnevno.hr” where, among other things, he mentioned T.:

“… Nadam se da ce tog korumpiranog balkanskog gangstera uskoro Njemacka policija uhititi i transferirati u Hrvatsku na suđenje zbog enormne štete i protuzakonitih radnji koje je pocinio na mjestu ravnatelja DZIV-a.”

Translation:

“I hope that German police will arrest this corrupt Balkans gangster and transfer him to Croatia for trial soon, because of the huge damage and unlawful actions which he did in the post of Director General of the SIPO.”

“It seems that dnevno.hr is currently being blocked by hackers,” [crackers] we are told, “but the interview is accessible on another portal, oko.hr.

The original Croatian text of the section of the interview where Topic is mentioned is as follows:

Kolika je procijenjena vrijednost brenda AirPlus?

To je dobro pitanje za dr. Ivu Josipovića i za njegovog prijatelja magistra Željka Topića, nekadašnjeg ravnatelja DZIV-a RH, trenutno zaposlenog u minhenskom EPO-u.
Nadam se da će tog korumpiranog balkanskog gangstera uskoro Njemačka policija uhititi i transferirati u Hrvatsku na suđenje zbog enorme štete i protuzakonitih radnji koje je počinio na mjestu ravnatelja DZIVa.

Kako neslužbeno saznajem, jedan od predmeta protiv nekadašnjeg ravnatelja DZIV-a istražuje i ŽDO u Zagrebu gdje jedan od tragova vodi prema Pantovčaku. Međutim, istražiteljica šokira svojim neinteligentnim ili protuzakonitim zaključcima, među kojima svakako fascinira jedna njena izjava kako naš muzikalni predsjednik ne bi bio izabran od strane naroda da nije pošten.

Dalje zaključite sami…

Uostalom, u dosadašnjem sudskom postupku protiv “Luftike” pristupile su mi dvije zločinačke organizacije s ponudom za preuzimanje spora, od kojih jedna vodi do suca Vrhovnog suda RH i njemačkog veleposlanstva u Zagrebu.

Zanimljivo pitanje koje bi se moglo otvoriti u tom kaznenom postupku bit će protuzakonita zapošljavanja osoba i u DZIV-u na poticaj gospodina Josipovića. Gotovo tri četvrtine zaposlenika DZIV-a čine polufabricirani kadrovi iz HDS-ZAMP-a. Zanimljivo je i to da se i sam predsjednik kitio tuđim perjem kada je u pitanju intelektualno vlasništvo i spominjanje imena Air-Plus.

This is not pure gossip. We are going to say more about Topić in weeks to come.

Yahoo! Search Toppled by Microsoft Downtime

Posted in Microsoft, Search at 3:39 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Mozilla receives another reminder of the threat of depending on Microsoft for search

YESTERDAY’s various news reports indicated that Microsoft’s heavily biased ‘search’ had collapsed. This had a knock-on effect on the Microsoft-occupied Yahoo because it had foolishly outsourced its search and essentially became dependent on Windows kludge from another company. Now that Mozilla’s Firefox search is dependent on this Windows kludge from a notorious PRISM company that works with the NSA (one that does not even fight back), expect it not to function sometimes. This should be a wake-up call for Mozilla. To quote the report from the British press (citing another source): “Microsoft and Yahoo!’s search engines may hold much smaller portions of the market, which is dominated by ad giant Google, but folk still noticed when the services went dark for a short period on Friday.

“This should be a wake-up call for Mozilla.”“Reuters, citing a person briefed on the outages, reported today that the search engines went titsup after Redmond mistakenly deployed a dodgy code update on its servers.”

Links 4/1/2015: Meizu M1 Note, Samsung Ahead of Apple in Customer Satisfaction

Posted in News Roundup at 3:24 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Desktop

    • CES: Acer introduces first 15.6″ display Chromebook

      “The Acer Chromebook 15 is a true powerhouse, it provides fast mobile performance and a large display to help customers accomplish more every day,” said Jerry Kao, president of Acer Notebook Business Group in a statement. “Acer has been a leader in the Chromebook market, from providing the latest in technology and trailblazing battery life to designing new form factors. We’re driving the category forward again with the world’s first 15.6-inch display Chromebook, the Acer Chromebook 15.”

    • Atom PC – Future PC

      It’s got enough computing power, graphics power and memory to be useful for all the kinds of tasks folks use a smartphone or tablet but it’s definitely a desktop-PC form factor. It has the instant supply of Android apps and the usability of a GNU/Linux desktop all in one package.

  • Kernel Space

    • Graphics Stack

      • The VIA OpenChrome DRM Still Might Be Kicking In 2015

        There hasn’t been much to report on in months for the OpenChrome DRM driver as there simply hasn’t been any new public patches to comment on. While it sort of looked like this VIA DRM Linux driver was dead, it seems work is possibly getting resurrected on this open-source driver.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • Kate5 on Mac

        Given that the KF5 based Kate works OK on Windows, I would like to get the Mac version up and running, too.

        As virtualization of MacOS X is kind of “forbidden” and not that nicely usable anyway, as no nice accelerating drivers are available for the standard vm solutions, I just went out into the world and bought some Retina MacBook.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

  • Distributions

    • North Korea Linux 3.0 Blatantly Rips Off Mac OS X, but It’s Really Not Bad – Gallery

      North Korea Linux 3.0 is the best and latest from the state of North Korea. The ISO images of this elusive operating system have been made available and everyone can get to test it. Knowing Korean is a plus, but you can get the idea even without it.

    • Screenshots

    • Debian Family

      • Derivatives

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Meizu M1 Note with 5.5 Inch Display to Launch with Ubuntu – Rumor

            We have yet to see any actual Ubuntu phones in the wild, but more rumors are popping up all over the place. This time it’s about the impending launch of the upcoming Meizu M1 Note with an Ubuntu system.

          • Robot, Is Being Programmed with Ubuntu

            Japan is the leader in the industry of humanoid robotics, although other countries have made significant progress. One of the best and easily recognizable humanoid robots that comes from Japan is Honda’s Asimo and it looks like the engineers are using Ubuntu for some of their tasks.

          • Ubuntu GNU/Linux Becoming Like That Other OS

            It’s the same old thing. An operating system gains reasonable popularity and it becomes godlike. It must not be criticized or the critic is declared mentally incompetent. That’s just wrong. If users become dependent on an OS and the developers of the OS go off on some tangent the users don’t like, that’s the developers’ problem, not the users. I long ago dropped Ubuntu because it didn’t work for me, breaking configurations with updates. I once had all my terminal servers drop out because the display manager would not run. My configurations were ignored. I went to Debian where users get much more respect. The policy that one package should not mess with the configuration of another protects users’ investments in their systems. Ubuntu thought it was fine that ~100 seats should be disabled when I installed a new set of icons, for Pity’s sake. For that, they overruled /etc/gdm.conf…

          • Flavours and Variants

  • Devices/Embedded

    • Phones

      • Android

        • Run Google’s Kit Kat Android on Your PC as a Linux Distro – Gallery

          Android-x86 is a port of the Android operating system for the x86 platform. The developers have just released a new update for it and version 4.4-r2 is now out and ready for download.

        • Top 10 Best Android Wear Apps and Faces Monthly – January 2015 Edition

          To get the New Year started, we’ve put together our regular pick of the Top 10 Android Wear apps from the past month. These could be good choices for your new smartwatch, or just something to get your brain moving before you have to go back to work. A lot of these new apps this month are watch faces, after all that’s what the latest Android Wear update to Android 5.0 was all about, and there are some great new additions available. As well as watch faces, apps many of us use on a daily basis have been upgraded with great Android Wear support and it’s a good time to be an Android Wear user.

        • Flappy Bird’s Android Wear App Challenges Apple Watch

          Just as Flappy Bird signalled the lopsided nature of the software market during the early months of 2014, its arrival on your Android Wear powered smartwatch points to the strengths of Google’s approach to wearables, and how it will contrast with Apple’s strategy.

          [...]

          Google’s vision of Android Wear is relatively clear. It is a second screen to your main Android device (be it a smartphone, phablet, or ultraportable), it will give you rich notifications you can act on from your wrist, and it will present you with relevant and timely information.

        • Samsung pulls ahead of Apple in consumer satisfaction

          Customers in 2014 who bought a Samsung smartphone are more satisfied than those who purchased an Apple device, according to a new report from the American Consumer Satisfaction Index.

        • Xiaomi is the world’s most valuable technology startup, worth $46 billion

          As we briefly mentioned a little earlier, Xiaomi has just officially rounded-off its latest round of fundraising, where the company generated $1.1 billion with of additional investment. This gives Xiaomi a valuation worth $46 billion, matching original estimates and making the Chinese manufacturer the most valuable technology startup around.

        • Man returns stolen Android tablet when he can’t work it

          Yes, I am sober. Please let me explain. A man from Sunderland in northern England stole an Android tablet from a charity store, according to court documents. Christopher Hooson apparently saw it in the window of the Jonny Kennedy store in Whitley Bay and thought: “I’ll have that.”

          There was one small problem. When he brought it home he didn’t know how to get it to work. It’s unclear why this was so. What is clearer is that, eight days later, Hooson took it back to the charity store and showed his deep good-heartedness. He tried to donate the tablet back to the store.

          This move was unwise. Even charity stores have CCTV. And so Hooson, age 33, ended up in court to defend himself.

        • The Interview download includes Android hacker attack

          Several weeks ago Sony Pictures was hacked by a group that claimed to have done so that The Interview would not be released. Once it was clear that the film WAS still going to be released as normal, they issued further threat that anyone who saw the film would be in danger of physical attack. Most recently there’s been a hack embedded within a torrent – that’s an illegal download, in this case, and it’s hitting Android users in South Korea specifically.

        • New Android-Powered Nokia C1 Renders Leak Along With Phone’s Alleged Spec Sheet

          Nokia, what’s left of it that is, surprised everyone by announcing an Android-powered Nokia N1 tablet back in November. Why was this surprising? Well, I believe you all know by now that Nokia’s Devices and Services department was acquired by Microsoft, which left this Finnish company in ruins basically. The vast majority of the company is now Microsoft-owned, but what’s left of it is trying to make their mark out in the market. Nokia is technically not allowed to manufacture devices until 2016, as per their contract with Microsoft, but they found a way to avoid that rule. Nokia N1 wasn’t manufactured by Nokia, Foxconn did that for them.

        • Last year’s most surprising hit Android phone may get Lollipop soon

          Android handset makers launched a wide variety of smartphones last year and a surprising number of flagship devices managed to stand out of the crowd. But one handset in particular really stood out from the pack because it literally came out of nowhere to generate buzz that was unprecedented for a small, unestablished company.

        • Android Circuit: Galaxy Note 4 Versus Galaxy S5, Android’s Lack Of Profit, Gingerbread Lives Again

          Taking a look back at the week’s news across the Android world, this week’s Android Circuit highlights a number of stories including the Galaxy S5 vs the Galaxy Note 4, the Note 4 LTE, Xiamoi’s 2015 strategy and financials, where is the profit in Android and can Samsung find it, is the Moto G the smartphone of the year, and is Android 2.3 Gingerbread a good OS in 2015?

Free Software/Open Source

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Why does Google Say Mozilla Thunderbird is Less Secure?

        Sometimes when you are looking for an answer to one thing, you end up finding something else rather surprising. Case in point, Google’s statement that Mozilla Thunderbird is less secure, but why do they say that? Today’s SuperUser Q&A post has the answer to a confused reader’s question.

  • Programming

    • Next-Generation PHP 7.0 Is Running Well But Will It Catch Up To HHVM?

      It’s been a while since I’ve last tried out the Git code for the next-generation PHP (phpng) that’s going to be known as PHP 7.0 when released likely later this year.

      The next major release of PHP is to be called PHP7 in order to avoid confusion with the now-defunct PHP6 unicode initiative. PHP 7.0 is likely to be released by the end of 2015 per the PHP7 timeline. If the release candidates begin on time starting in June, we could be looking at the official PHP 7.0 release around October of this year. However, it’s largely dependent upon the state of affairs at that point with the quality of the code.

Leftovers

  • Science

    • An asteroid striking Earth is a possibility, but we’re more likely to destroy ourselves

      Our solar system is littered with billions of pieces of debris, from the size of large boulders to objects hundreds of miles across. We know that from time to time these hit Earth. A Russian scientist has calculated that a mountain-sized asteroid — which crosses paths with the Earth every three years — could one day hit us with an explosion 1,000 times greater than the surprise 2013 impact of a bus-sized meteor in Russia.

      This is not the only doomsday scenario faced by our planet. Humanity may have already created its nemesis, according to Prof. Stephen Hawking. The Cambridge University physicist claimed that new developments in the field of artificial intelligence mean that, within a few decades, computers thousands of times more powerful than in existence today may decide to usurp their creators and end humanity’s 100,000-year dominance of Earth.

  • Health/Nutrition

  • Security

    • The Biggest Security Threats We’ll Face in 2015

      As the clock strikes midnight on the new year, so begins the countdown to a new round of security threats and breaches that doubtless will unfold in 2015. But this year will be a little different. In the past, when we’ve talked about threat predictions, we’ve focused either on the criminal hackers out to steal credit card data and banking passwords or on the activist hackers out for the lulz (and maybe to teach corporate victims a lesson).

      But these days, no threat predictions are complete if they don’t address the looming threats posed by nation-state attacks, like the ones exposed by Edward Snowden. It’s been said repeatedly that when a spy agency like the NSA undermines a system to gain access for its own use, it makes that system more vulnerable to attack by others. So we begin this list with that in mind.

    • The Most Dangerous People on the Internet Right Now

      If only the internet had its own version of Lost in Space’s robot to herald every lurking hazard or menace with an unequivocal warning. Unfortunately Robot B-9 isn’t available. So in his absence we’ve compiled a list of candidates we consider to be this year’s most dangerous. We’ve taken a broad view of danger, though—it’s not just about who is potentially a danger to public safety, but also about entities who might be considered a danger simply because they rock the status quo.

    • Countdown to Zero Day: launching Stuxnet on Iran

      As you turn the last page of Kim Zetter’s new book about the worm and virus that sabotaged Iran’s nuclear program, don’t be surprised if you find yourself starting to mull over a career change.

  • Defence/Police/Secrecy/Aggression

    • Barack Obama must decide whether he will let the neocons keep pulling his strings

      Heading into the last quarter of his presidency, Barack Obama must decide whether he will let the neocons keep pulling his strings or finally break loose and pursue a realistic foreign policy seeking practical solutions to world problems, including the crisis with Russia over Ukraine, says ex-CIA analyst Ray McGovern.

    • Ukrainian Nazis Pay Private Military Company Academi (formerly Blackwater) for Training, Russian Report

      The Russian Government’s Tass ‘news’ agency is alleging that “The US private military company Academi (formerly known as Blackwater) … has confirmed to the Kiev authorities its readiness to start training an experimental battalion of 550 men as of January at the request of Ukraine’s General Staff,” according to an unnamed source, which source is probably one of the few remaining anti-nazi bureaucrats still remaining in the Ukrainian Government. The reported price of this Blackwater (a.k.a. “Xe,” a.k.a. “Academi”) training contract is $3.5 million.

    • Leaked Documents Show the US Used Drone Strikes to Target Afghan Drug Lords

      The latest documents leaked by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden reveal that US drone strikes in Afghanistan weren’t limited to just al Qaeda and Taliban leaders — they also targeted drug dealers accused of supporting the insurgency.

      The papers, obtained by German news magazine Der Spiegel, include a “kill list” that once contained as many as 750 names, including many mid- and lower-level members of the Taliban involved in drug trafficking.

    • The real politics behind the US war on IS

      In fact, it is all about domestic political and bureaucratic interests.

    • Der Spiegel Reveals Loose Standards Needed for Drone Assassination

      The German magazine Der Spiegel has published a revealing exposé about the loose standards by which the the Obama administration assassinated people, including many non-combatants, in Afghanistan. The December 28 story documented a quick-to-assassinate tendency which took the form of readiness to loosely classify anyone in the drug trade as a legitimate assassination target, as well as a readiness to accept large numbers of civilian casualties.

      The Obama administration accelerated the 2008 decision by the Bush administration to extend the war on terror to the drug war. “In the opinion of American commanders like Bantz John Craddock,” Der Spiegel reported, “there was no need to prove that drug money was being funneled to the Taliban to declare farmers, couriers and dealers as legitimate targets of NATO strikes.” The result was that many people who made the assassination list — hundreds of people at any time — were often several layers removed from actual Taliban terrorists, and may even have been unaware they were financing the Taliban.

    • Bush’s Enduring Theories of Martial Law

      The failure to hold anyone accountable for torture derives from extraordinary post-9/11 legal theories that made the President all-powerful during “wartime” and established what amounted to martial law in the United States, a condition that continues to this day, writes retired JAG Major Todd E. Pierce.

    • US Adding Names to Foreign Fighter Watchlist ‘Like a Ticking Odometer’

      Quoted in an article by the Washington Post‘s Greg Miller on Tuesday, an unnamed former U.S. intelligence official described how the NCTC—citing the threat of Europeans who may have travelled to foreign battlefields, particularly in Syria and Iraq—is actively placing thousands of people into the database nearly constantly, sometimes with (and often without) the full knowledge of European governments or their intelligence agencies. According to the report, the database already contains more than 15,000 names.

    • Afghan ‘kill list’ leak: NATO risked civilian lives by targeting low-level Taliban fighters

      Besides targeting top Taliban leaders, NATO forces in Afghanistan included low-ranking fighters and drug dealers on their list of “legitimate” targets, risking civilian lives in a wider airstrike campaign, Der Spiegel reported, citing Snowden archives.

    • Leaked ‘kill list’ shows NATO killed Afghan children, civilians in pursuit of low-level Taliban fighters

      Drawing information from top secret documents spirited away by former NSA analyst Edward Snowden, Der Spiegel reports that the “kill list” used by NATO forces in Afghanistan included low-ranking members of the Taliban along with drug dealers suspected of supporting them.

    • New Snowden Docs Reveal Wider Net of NATO ‘Kill List’ Targets

      The reporting also explains how the wide net of those targeted for assassination covered those deemed to be narcotics traffickers.

    • Pakistan Taliban: US drone ‘kills militants’ in tribal region
    • Suspected U.S. Drone Strike Kills Nine in Pakistan’s North Waziristan

      A suspected U.S. drone strike killed at least nine suspected militants in Pakistan on Sunday, government and security officials told NBC News. Pakistani government and security officials said the drone fired two missiles and struck a militant compound in the Shawal valley of the restive region of North Waziristan.

    • U.S. Drone Strike Said to Kill Militants in Pakistan

      At least six foreign militants are believed to have been killed in an American drone strike in the North Waziristan tribal region on Sunday morning, a Pakistani security official said.

      The Pakistani official said a drone fired two missiles into a compound in the Dattakhel subdistrict at 6.40 a.m. The area is close to the border with Afghanistan and to Miram Shah, the main town in North Waziristan and the site of the region’s administrative headquarters.

    • President Obama’s Hawaii vacation: Day 15

      Obama headed out to the beach to join his daughter Malia and friends at Bellows Air Force Station on a mostly sunny day. A dozen onlookers watched as the motorcade left the Kailua neighborhood, some holding signs that read “Drones Kill” and “Stop NSA Snooping.” A rainbow stretched over the mountains as the president made his way to the beach and its sparkling turquoise waters.

    • Obama: How Many Kids Did You Kill Today?

      In the 1960s, Lyndon Johnson was heckled this way. Anti-war activists targeted his Southeast Asian war they wanted ended.

      Obama way outdid his predecessors. With two years left to go. Bombing 7 countries in 6 years. More on this below.

      Plus subversion in unknown numbers of others. From its empire of bases. Its global embassies infested with CIA agents.

    • Chickenhawk Response No. 8: The Economic Realities (and Unrealities) of a Trillion-Dollar Budget

      I’ve spent most of the past two days reading through the ~ 1,200 emailed or paper-mailed responses I’ve gotten, most from past or current military people and most supportive overall if differing in degree. Obviously I can’t quote from (or unfortunately even acknowledge) all of them, but I’ll excerpt some as feasible in coming days. Again, I’ll assume that I am free to quote from incoming messages unless specified otherwise, but I won’t use real names unless you say so in advance.

      Today’s theme: business aspects of what I call the chickenhawk economy.

    • You Can’t Run From This Course-correcting Bullet

      The U.S. Army has manufactured a bullet that can change direction mid-flight, according to a story reported in the Independent (U.K.).

    • Stay away from the Sentinelese. Either you’ll kill them or they’ll kill you

      The Sentinelese, a tiny island tribe in the Indian Ocean, have a tried-and-true foreign policy.

      [...]

      The Sentinelese have been derided as “savages” and “primitives” for failing to join the outside world. But their habit of killing intruders is nonetheless wise.

      Modern history is filled with sad sagas of indigenous peoples eradicated or decimated by diseases borne by European visitors. As in 17th-century America, epidemics can rapidly depopulate the land and leave it vulnerable to takeover.

    • Drones and questions of command for Obama

      There was a disturbing revelation contained in recent a New York Times’ front-page report. President Obama has empowered the CIA by “allowing its director, not the White House, to make the final decisions about targeted drone strikes” on foreign soil. These strikes number in the hundreds from Afghanistan to Yemen to Somalia.

    • Looking Backward, Looking Forward: 2014-2015

      Major events and policies in 2014 which have had a profoundly negative effect on the prospects for peace and social justice are equally numerous.

      (1) The US and EU installation of a puppet regime in the Western Ukraine (Kiev) and its conversion into an economic vassal state of the European Union and NATO outpost on Russia’s border is a major blow against democracy and boost to Ukrainian neo-fascist political leaders. The militarization of the Ukraine, as an adversary of Russia, threatens a global nuclear war.

    • Pakistan Fumes At Being Portrayed As Hellhole By US TV Show Homeland

      Pakistan has problems with the way it has been depicted as a military-dominated, terrorist-infested hellhole in the American television drama Homeland and has reportedly conveyed its unhappiness to the show’s producers.

    • Readers React: Why political gridlock isn’t always a bad thing

      To illustrate his point, Diamond blames the coup against Chile’s democratically elected Salvador Allende partly on Allende’s refusal to compromise, making no mention of the CIA’s role in bringing dictator Augusto Pinochet to power.

    • Strikes to Continue in Afghanistan Despite Mission End: Former Official

      Former CIA official claims that US drone strikes targeting the Taliban and other insurgent groups will continue despite the official end of NATO combat operations in Afghanistan.

    • The incredible US “peace plan” for Syria

      The Syrian people have won two successive wars in four years. Yet the country does not yet know peace. Not only are Washington “liberal hawks” doing everything in their power to prolong the crisis, but they have devised a plan to prepare a third war. Thierry Meyssan reveals here how they intend to use to their advantage the peace conference planned to be held in Moscow in late January 2015.

  • Transparency Reporting

  • Finance

    • Why a consumer society can’t fix the climate

      Policy makers throughout the industrialized world generally assume that humankind can solve serious global problems by adopting better technologies and regulations—without questioning the viability of consumer-capitalist societies. This faith is mistaken. The big problems, particularly climate change, are so serious that they cannot be solved without unprecedented and extremely radical change, including abandoning the obsession with economic growth, market systems, and high living standards.

    • Russia’s Putin praises Crimea’s ‘return home’ in New Year address

      Next year, the Russian economy is projected to fall by around 4.5 percent if the average price of oil remains near $60 per barrel, according to the central bank.

    • What are U.S. Objectives in Weakening Russia’s Economy?

      Larry Wilkerson and Paul Jay discuss the “tactical strength and strategic weakness” of Putin in Ukraine and whether the West is trying to turn Russia into another “Greece”

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

    • Marketing Madness

      If they really wanted to be freedom’s heroes, US filmgoers would be lining up at theaters that are showing the movie “Kill the Messenger,” an excellent drama based on a real story. It exposes how the CIA used its contacts and perhaps even paid agents who work inside the largest and supposedly “free and independent” corporate media organizations, to spread lies and destroy the reputation of Gary Webb, a two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who had exposed an incredibly cynical and criminal program by the CIA in the 1980s to facilitate the massive import into the US of cocaine from Latin America in order to raise money from the drug cartels which it used to fund arms for the Contra army fighting to overthrow the Sandinista government in Nicaragua.

    • The Interview to be air-dropped into North Korea using balloons

      Balloons have been used before to take propaganda and other items into North Korea.

    • Liam Neeson: Taken Has Put Americans Off Travelling To Europe

      The 62-year-old actor stars as retired CIA agent Bryan Mills in the action franchise and admits fans have written to him saying they’re frightened of travelling abroad due to the storylines in which his wife and daughter are kidnapped.

    • Mike Huckabee’s Worst Media Moments

      Fox News and Mike Huckabee are finally parting ways as the now former host explores a second presidential run. After serving as the governor of Arkansas and losing a 2008 presidential primary bid, Huckabee was hired by the network. His media career was rife with controversial comments and outright falsehoods.

    • Mike Huckabee Sold Out His Fans To A Quack Doctor, Conspiracy Theorists, And Financial Fraudsters

      Mike Huckabee, who is parting ways with Fox News, has profited from renting his Fox-promoted MikeHuckabee.com email list to a wide range of shady characters, including a medical quack claiming Alzheimer’s disease cures; a for-sale stock pundit that was fired from Fox; a financial firm that was fined by the government for engaging in “deliberate fraud”; and a survival food company that profits off of readers’ fears of being “herded into FEMA camps.”

      Huckabee has previously denied responsibility for his shady sponsored emails, telling Media Matters: “You are supposed to read the disclosure and the disclaimer that is a part of the messages. You know, we are simply the conduit to send messages, these are sponsored and I can’t always vouch for the veracity.”

    • The Interview reinforces a negative view of US journalists

      The Interview is a dangerous movie. The first victim was Sony, which had electronic files hacked in an intrusion that revealed shocking details: like the fact that one of its executives wanted to cast a black actor as James Bond, and that many people at Sony can’t spell. But another more serious group of victims haven’t yet been mentioned: journalists who work in dangerous parts of the world.

      The film, which was released over the Christmas holiday, depicts two goofy journalists, played by Seth Rogen and James Franco, who score an interview with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, and who are recruited by the CIA to kill him. Rogen’s character, the producer of a television interview program, was supposedly educated at my alma mater, Columbia School of Journalism, but seemed to have no qualms about crossing what I recall was one of the most indelibly-inked lines of journalism ethics: don’t do the bidding of the CIA.

    • 5 Absurd Right-Wing Moments
    • 2014 in review: The year according to Fox News

      The way the news is covered by Fox in the US can seem incomprehensible to the rest of the world – not to mention many Americans.

    • Benign Intent: Tools of Corporate Media Propaganda

      In a healthy society governed by democratic principles and the rule of law, news media would be analogous to a powerful telescope, a roving, scrutinizing eye from which little or nothing can hide. Corrupt societies — ones that require the vast majority of the population to be passive, obedient, misinformed, ignorant, distracted and consumptive — require instead a media that acts as a kind of prism, a distorting lens that presents a perversion of reality.

      The scale of this distortion varies greatly around the world, with some — mostly independent — media (sometimes lone journalists) laudably aiming to shine a torch as best they can on state and corporate power. At the other extreme, dictatorships like North Korea use state media to portray a false reality to help control their people, who nonetheless are surely aware that their freedoms are strictly limited.

      Western corporate-owned media, however, is unique and quite remarkable in that while it depicts a reality as laughably false as that shown to the North Koreans, its readers/viewers — more accurately its consumers — are overwhelmingly unaware that they are being fed a pack of lies, that the picture given to them is — in key areas that concern corporate power and Western control of world resources — diametrically opposite to reality.

  • Censorship

    • Government red-faced after memos warning staff not to breach Official Secrets Act are leaked to the media
    • Government wants crackdown on violation of Official Secrets Act

      The government wants a crackdown on violation of Official Secrets Act through leakage of sensitive information in the media but its own communication seeking to curb the practice has come out in public domain.

      Aaj Tak has accessed a series of government notes highlighting concerns over the leakage of information to the media expressed by top security bosses. In a letter to Cabinet Secretary Ajit Kumar Seth on October 13, 2013, National Security Advisor (NSA) Ajit Doval pointed out that a news channel had broadcast a report on India’s nuclear submarine INS Arihant.

    • Ajit Doval, The NSA, Asks Ministries To Plug Classified Documents Leakage

      National Security Adviser Ajit Doval has asked ministries to take necessary steps to prevent leakage of classified information to the media and fix responsibility in case the leakage takes place.

    • NSA red-faced after memos warning staff not to breach of secrecy laws are leaked to media

      In a letter to Cabinet Secretary Ajit Kumar Seth on October 13, 2013, National Security Advisor (NSA) Ajit Doval pointed out that Aaj Tak channel had broadcast a report on India’s nuclear submarine INS Arihant.

    • Cuban dissidents arrested before free-speech demonstration in Havana

      Cuban police have detained at least three leading dissidents ahead of a planned free-speech demonstration in the Plaza de la Revolución.

      The arrests of Antonio Rodiles, Eliezer Avila and Reinaldo Escobar look set to be the biggest test yet of diplomatic relations with the US since they were restored earlier this month after 53 years of tension.

    • Putin just imprisoned an innocent man to silence his opposition-leader brother

      This morning, under the glare of worldwide media attention, a Russian court sentenced Oleg Navalny, an apolitical former postal worker, to three and half years in prison on embezzlement charges that are widely and correctly considered to be fictitious.

      Russia’s slide into authoritarianism has been so gradual, and accompanied by so many distractions such as Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine and his ban on American adoptions (not to mention his cartoonish image abroad), that many Americans have missed it. Yes, Russia does some bad things, particularly to gays, the common perception goes, but it’s still not quite a dictatorship.

    • The Bitter Education of Alexey Navalny

      It was the radicals—Russians call them the demshiza, formed from the roots of the words for “democratic” and “schizophrenic”—who insisted on talking about the fact that Putin had established a virtual state monopoly on media, jailed his opponents, most likely sent his cronies to London to poison a former secret agent, and enabled the murders of many more critics, cancelled elections, waged war on his own people in Chechnya and Dagestan, and annexed parts of Georgia and Ukraine. All along, Putin and his friends stole from state coffers and from their enemies on a scale that overwhelms the imagination. They were never just “crooks and thieves.” Navalny knows that now.

  • Privacy

    • Nico Sell: ‘To me, the NSA and Edward Snowden are just the tip of the iceberg’

      The founder of secure messaging app Wickr on privacy, why she always wears dark glasses in public and why girls make great hackers

    • Offshoring Data Won’t Protect It From The NSA

      The United States is the physical hub of the global Internet. Data from around the globe crosses gateways and servers in the United States. This basic fact, obscured by hazy visions of a borderless Internet cloud, is part of what accounts for global dismay at the revelations of extensive spying by the National Security Agency.

    • Storing data offshore won’t protect it from NSA, expert says
    • The NSA’s Ongoing Efforts to Hide Its Lawbreaking

      Every quarter, the National Security Agency generates a report on its own lawbreaking and policy violations. The reports are classified and sent to the President’s Intelligence Oversight Board. It’s unclear what happens once they get there.

      Those reports are now online dating back to late 2001.

      The NSA has posted redacted versions of the documents to its website. “These materials show, over a sustained period of time, the depth and rigor of NSA’s commitment to compliance,” the agency’s self-congratulatory introduction declares. “By emphasizing accountability across all levels of the enterprise, and transparently reporting errors and violations to outside oversight authorities, NSA protects privacy and civil liberties while safeguarding the nation and our allies.”

      These NSA characterizations are not credible.

    • Missouri Bill Bans Use of Local Resources for NSA Surveillance

      A bill filed late last month in Missouri would step into the breach left by a federal government unwilling to restrain the unconstitutional surveillance of Americans.

    • US Made Spyware Found on Merkel Aide’s USB Drive

      Reports out of Berlin today say that a top aide of German Chancellor Angela Merkel was targeted by advanced malware commonly used by the NSA and Britain’s counterpart, the GCHQ.

    • Cyber attack on Angela Merkel aide: Report

      The German chancellor’s office has fallen victim to a hacking attack, according to a German newspaper. The Regin malware in question has been linked to British and US spy agencies.

    • NSA spooks count on holiday distractions to hide misbehavior
    • Apple Says Has Never Worked With NSA On IPhone Backdoors

      Apple responded on Tuesday to Germany’s Der Spiegel reports that the National Security Agency had developed a system to hack into and monitor iPhones called “Dropout Jeep,” saying it never worked with the U.S. spy agency and was unaware of efforts to target its smartphones. Der Spiegel referred to it as a “trojan,” or malware that helps hackers get into protected systems. The report, which surfaced on Sunday, did not suggest that Apple had cooperated with the U.S. spying agency on so-called backdoors.

    • NSA Abused Power by Spying on Wives, Girlfriends

      The National Security Agency (NSA) was forced to admit on Christmas Eve how it wrongly spied on Americans in a list it released as a result of a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).

    • The Patriot Act Is Cannibalizing America’s Economic Edge

      The majority opinion prioritized protectionism—the idea that phone-record collection could stop threats like ISIS from endangering U.S. citizens—over economic growth. Such myopic attachment to the tools of defense, without consideration of their big-picture relevance, puts the $5.7 trillion U.S. IT industry in danger of losing its competitive advantage.

      Risking the second-largest industry in the country will pose serious long-term consequences—not only to the economy, but, by association—to national security itself.

      It’s time for legislators to ask themselves which laws matter most.

    • NSA Abuses Never End

      The NSA has posted redacted versions of the documents to its website. “These materials show, over a sustained period of time, the depth and rigor of NSA’s commitment to compliance,” the agency’s self-congratulatory introduction declares. “By emphasizing accountability across all levels of the enterprise, and transparently reporting errors and violations to outside oversight authorities, NSA protects privacy and civil liberties while safeguarding the nation and our allies.”

      These NSA characterizations are not credible.

      Even the uninformed observer will be suspicious of the spy agency’s account upon learning that far from voluntarily releasing redacted versions of these documents, it was forced to do so by Freedom of Information Act requests filed by the ACLU. The NSA fought to continue suppressing these documents from the public, even though the redacted versions in no way harm U.S. national security. A court ordered the documents released.”

    • Kim Dotcom is back!
    • MegaChat Poised to Compete With Skype

      Kim Dotcom, an individual who has become known as an outspoken encryption enthusiast, and the man who attempted to stop the recent hacks against both Sony and Microsoft’s online services via the notorious hacker group Lizard Squad, has announced he intended to bring about a rival against Skype. Dotcom intends to release MegaChat, a fully-encrypted video call and chat platform for users tired of Skype on all of their devices. The service is said to support key features of most well known messaging platforms already, but with the promise of no back doors where the United States government can access chat logs from those using the service, reports Slash Gear.

    • Kim Dotcom serves up a Encrypted Chat service, Mega Chat ‘coming soon’
    • MegaChat encrypted Skype rival imminent says Kim Dotcom

      Outspoken encryption enthusiast Kim Dotcom has promised the imminent arrival of his Skype rival, Mega’s fully-encrypted video call and chat platform, which will be positioned as a pipeline for free-speech. The service, currently referred to as MegaChat, will support all the key features of existing popular messaging clients, only with the added promise of no backdoors being provided to the US government, Dotcom claims, pointing out that it’s already in fact been used in public by high-profile leakers Julian Assange and Edward Snowden. News of the app comes as fresh revelations from Snowden’s NSA documents finger several services as being targeted by the spy agency.

    • Kim Dotcom vows to KILL SKYPE with encrypted MegaChat

      Megaupload maestro Kim Dotcom says he will soon unveil an encrypted video calling and chat service that he claims will mark “the end of NSA mass surveillance.”

      In a series of tweets, Dotcom said the service, to be called MegaChat, will also doom Skype, the current king of online calling, which is thought to have been cooperating with US government snoops since at least 2011.

      “No US based online service provider can be trusted with your data,” the rotund refugee proclaimed. “Skype has no choice. They must provide the US Government with backdoors.”

    • Edward Snowden’s legal defence fund accepts bitcoin donations

      Whistleblower Edward Snowden is accepting donations in bitcoin to pay for his legal defence.

      Courage Foundation, which manages the former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor’s legal defence fund, launched a website, edwardsnowden.com, where people can donate to support Snowden via a number of means.

      The website accepts payments via paypal, credit cards, bank transfer and cheques in addition to bitcoins.

    • Big Brother Spying Program Is Stripping Away Privacy [Video]
    • When it comes to surveillance, there is everything to play for

      The UK passed “emergency” legislation, referred to as the Drip Act, expanding mass surveillance powers in the wake of European court judgments. In the US, modest reforms to domestic mass surveillance failed to pass Congress. Ireland retrospectively made legal UK mass surveillance efforts related to the country, while even Germany – one of the most outspoken nations on surveillance – has challenged Der Spiegel’s reporting of the tapping of Angela Merkel’s phone.

      [...]

      The technological backdrop is similarly mixed: in the immediate wake of Snowden, a flurry of new companies promising privacy arose, but there’s not yet a definitive app, while incumbents such as Tor have revealed several attacks and security breaches (since fixed). Conversely, though, major players are starting to regard privacy as a selling point: Google and others are encrypting ever more of their traffic, and even enhancing privacy controls over which information the search and social giants store.

    • Senate letter exposes FBI domestic warrantless cellphone data mining

      In a letter addressed to Attorney General Eric Holder and Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson this week, leading US Senators requested information about the use of “StingRay” and “dirt box” devices and other cell phone surveillance and data mining systems by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and other US government agencies.

    • The year of surveillance is finally over

      Whether it was the NSA, your cell phone company or some place where you bought pants a few months ago, it seemed everyone was after your data in some way in 2014. Here are some of the stories that shed light on the new ways you’re being tracked — and also some methods to keep your information safe from prying eyes of all sorts.

    • Why we should be worried about relinquishing our privacy to a secret state

      Ben Wizner is a director of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) Speech, Privacy & Technology Project — which is dedicated to protecting and expanding individuals’ right to privacy, as well as increasing the control that one has over their personal information, ensuring that civil liberties are enhanced, rather than compromised, by new advances in science and technology.

      Winzer has litigated numerous cases involving post-9/11 civil liberty abuses. These include challenges to airport security policies, government watchlists, extraordinary rendition, and torture. He has testified before US Congress, and also traveled several times to Guantánamo Bay, where he has met people who have been held against their will in secret prisons and tortured by the CIA.

      In July 2013, one month after the revelations about the NSA’s practices came to light, Winzer became Edward Snowden’s attorney. He was put in contact with him directly through the journalist Glenn Greenwald. I spoke to Wizner, focusing specifically on the issue of maintaining democratic accountability as technology advances.

    • The Real Constitutional Crisis Is Hidden

      It’s the Bush-Obama record of surveillance and lack of accountability—and not executive action on immigration—that ought to concern citizens.

    • Debate Over U.S. Government Surveillance Faces a Deadline

      Civil-liberties advocates and many lawmakers want stricter protocols for gathering information—in particular, limits on the mass collection of phone records by the National Security Agency—while opponents of such measures cite security threats that they maintain warrant the continuation of the bulk accumulation of personal data.

    • Anti-terror plan to spy on toddlers ‘is heavy-handed’

      Nursery staff and childminders are given ‘duty’ to report toddlers they suspect of being at risk of becoming terrorists under new Home Office measures

  • Civil Rights

    • Melville House Publishes Senate CIA Torture Report as Book

      Dennis Johnson, one of the founders of Melville House Publishing, called the CIA Torture Report “probably the most important government document of our generation, even one of the most significant in the history of our democracy” and announced the publishing of the report as an e-book and a paperbook.

    • CIA Torture Report Sells Out in a Day

      Melville House revealed plans to sell the CIA’s recently release torture report earlier this month, and it turned out to be a good idea.

    • Ferguson and CIA torture painful for Canadians

      Canadians know, by following their own and the US media, that race relations remain ugly in the United States despite gratifying progress and that the CIA tries to topple foreign governments, kill foreign leaders and tortures people to achieve its policy goals, for example in Guantanamo Bay.

    • Making torture legal

      The CIA, the executive hand of the president, has been involved, deeply, in every crime known to man — for decades!

    • Briton ‘lived’ Guantanamo torture

      The 47-year-old, who has been cleared for release from the detention camp since 2009, said he had not read the 6,000-page report but had been the victim of one of the measures outlined in it – “rectal rehydration”.

    • If Obama won’t bring U.S. torturers to justice, why not compensate torture victims for life?

      President Barack Obama has made it clear since taking office that no one will be punished for torture.

      As I have repeatedly written before, that’s reprehensible. But what about compensating torture victims?

      According to the recent report issued by the U.S. Senate Intelligence committee, torture under the Bush administration was more brutal and widespread than previously understood.

    • My Turn: Always and everywhere, torture is wrong

      As the child of an emigrant family that escaped from a Hungary ruled by a communist government, I heard many stories of relatives and friends enduring extreme cruelties and torture by that government. Perhaps this was the reason I joined Amnesty International 40 years ago.

      The organization is dedicated to helping the victims of human rights abuses and supporting the abolition of torture worldwide. After my family became American citizens, I never imagined that my new adopted country would engage in torture and abuse of prisoners. But in the 1970s, the investigations by Sen. Frank Church revealed that the CIA was not only attempting to assassinate some leaders of South American and Central American countries but that they were also assisting in torturing prisoners in those countries and training the torturers.

    • ​80% whistleblower retaliation claims ignored in biased, ‘Trojan horse’ system

      The number of whistleblowers being retaliated against is increasing every year as former federal workers warn it’s almost impossible to raise grievances through official avenues within the government, a new report reveals.

      Among the employees and contractors working for the United States military and the American intelligence community, more than 8,700 have filed claims since 2001 in which they allege having faced reprisal for raising objections about supposed instances of waste, fraud or abuse, McClatchy reported on Tuesday.

      According to the report, an analysis of whistleblower retaliation claims made with the Pentagon suggests the number of workers who say they suffered for speaking out has been “increasing virtually every year” since September 11, 2001.

    • Judge Okays Condé Nast Payout of $5.85 Million to Former Interns

      Onetime interns will each get payouts of up to about $1,900 for their time with the publisher

      Condé Nast appears likely to pay $5.85 million to thousands of former interns who have accused the magazine publisher of underpaying them for their work.

    • Terrorism “Insurance” Expires

      The April 2013 issue of The Atlantic recounts the U.S. Senate testimony of a young man named Farea al-Muslimi, a Yemini. He attended English classes in Yemen before going to high school in Rosamond, California, then college in Beirut— all funded through U.S. State Department scholarships. One day a drone strike hit his remote home village of Wessab. Seven of his siblings died from injuries they sustained. During his testimony to the Senate, he said he has met dozens of civilians who were injured during drone strikes and other air attacks in Yemen. “The killing of innocent civilians by U.S. missiles in Yemen is helping to destabilize my country and create an environment from which AQAP benefits. [Drone strikes] are the face of America to many Yemenis.” (He was quoted using the acronym for al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.)

    • Is it not time to dismantle the CIA?

      It’s not as if we weren’t warned about the CIA. Some 50 years before the Senate Intelligence Committee issued its 500-page report on torture, former President Harry Truman published an opinion piece in the Washington Post asserting that the CIA was out of control and calling for it to be broken up.

    • CIA should pledge to a ban on recruiting journalists

      According to a recent series of investigative reports, oil-rich Azerbaijan — wedged between Russia and Iran — is ruled by a virtual kleptocracy. It is illegal for Azerbaijan government officials to own businesses, but the law does not apply to their families. So while President Ilham Aliyev’s control of the nation’s oil industry remains cloaked in layers of deceptive legality, the facts about his two daughters’ hefty stake in the mining, financial services, construction, and other industries have become public knowledge.

      These facts were unearthed by a brave journalist named Khadija Ismayilova. On Dec. 5, Ismayilova was jailed; on Dec. 26, the Baku office of her employer, the US-funded Azeri language service of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL), was raided and ransacked.

      For months, the ruling party has been accusing Ismayilova of spying for the CIA. But she has not been formally charged with espionage, and weeks of interrogations and searches by the legal authorities have not produced a shred of evidence to justify such a charge. Yet sadly, America has a history of providing a pretext to authoritarians and other adversaries to discredit independent journalists in this manner. This needs to end.

      When RFE/RL was originally established in 1949, its purpose was to break the information monopoly of Communist regimes in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union — and its funding came covertly from the CIA. In 1967 this covert funding was exposed (by investigative journalists), and in 1971 it was terminated. In 1972, Congress voted to fund RFE/RL openly as an independent media company under the supervision of the Board for International Broadcasting, a new entity created to serve as a firewall between RFE/RL and the government.

    • How To Read the Senate Report on CIA Torture

      Despite its rich fund of hard-won detail, the Senate report has, at best, produced a neutral outcome, a draw in this political contest over impunity. Over the past forty years, there have been a half-dozen similar scandals over torture that have followed a familiar cycle – revelation, momentary sensation, vigorous rebuttal, and then oblivion. Unless we inscribe the lessons from this Senate report deeply into the country’s collective memory, then some future crisis might prompt another recourse to torture that will do even more damage to this country’s moral leadership.

    • The ‘Espionage Den’: American ghosts in Tehran

      After the hostage crisis, the Revolutionary Guard used it as a training centre, eventually opening a museum, variously called the Espionage Den or Den of Spies. Provocative murals and posters on peeling walls are updated regularly to reflect US invasions since then (Afghanistan and Iraq). One startling frieze is a parody of Michelangelo’s “Creation of Adam” showing Uncle Sam handing dollars to a greedy banker. The perimeter walls feature a number of anti-American murals commissioned by the government of Iran, notably a Statue of Liberty with the slogan “Death to America!”

    • The UN Anti-Nazi Resolution, the Prague Declaration and the History of “US Accommodation with Nazism”

      On October 27, 2014, the front page of The New York Times reported: “In Cold War, U.S. spy Agencies used 1,000 nazis.” What the headline fails to say is that the U.S. employed and protected men whom they knew were among the most barbaric nazi war criminals. “When the Justice Department was preparing in 1994 to prosecute a senior Nazi collaborator in Boston, named Aleksandre Lileikis, the CIA tried to intervene. The agency’s own files linked Mr. Lileikis to the machine-gun massacres of 60,000 Jews in Lithuania.

    • LETTER: Pro-torture column really way off base

      Mr. Justin Smith’s over-long pro-torture piece in Sunday’s Daily News Journal (Dec. 21) was way off base.

      Characterizing water-boarding as “minor dunkings” is an error of the first order. CIA water-boarding is way worse than anything done in training for U.S. service personnel in Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape classes, where the exercise is carefully regulated and controlled.

      CIA water-boarding has no such controls, is real and not practice, and in its excesses approaches and crosses over into the water torture for which we condemned war criminals after World War II.

    • Over 100 deaths by abuse in Egyptian prisons in 2014: Report

      An end of year report by the El Nadeem Center for Rehabilitation of Victims of Violence has documented an apparent spike in torture and abuse across Egyptian prisons in 2014, recording at least 100 deaths in custody.

    • All those who OK’d torture should be held accountable

      As chief of the CIA’s Directorate of Operations, Rodriguez ordered the destruction of 90 videotapes showing interrogations of Abu Zubaydah. Those tapes might have settled two questions: Were prisoners “tortured” and did “enhanced” interrogation techniques really provide “actionable” intelligence”? Why were the tapes destroyed, if the CIA is telling the truth?

      More disturbing is Joseph Reisert’s column (“Blatantly partisan tenor ensures CIA report serves no good purpose,” Dec. 12). You might expect a “professor of American constitutional law” to focus on the legal issues raised by the CIA report. Surely Reisert knows that torture is illegal under both American and international law.

      Japanese soldiers were charged with war crimes for waterboarding American POWs during World War II. “Just following orders” was not a defense.

    • Turned Backs, The Mayor and the Police

      The funeral of Officer Ramos on Saturday, Dec. 27, turned into a Fascist spectacle as many in the ranks of the police turned their backs on NYC Mayor de Blasio—a Fascist spectacle because, already heavily militarized, already implicated in wanton killings of blacks nationwide, the police, many coming from far and wide, used the funeral to demonstrate their demand for acting with impunity and their contempt for authority to reign them in. The funeral symbolized the police as enemies of the rule of law, unable and unwilling to bear scrutiny for lawless acts of an ongoing nature but brought to national attention through a sudden condensation of events over the last several weeks. We stand in fear of our own public servants, just as we do toward the CIA on the international plane, a militarization of American life which internalizes, collectively, the repression America as a nation presents to and imposes on the world and internally demands of itself lest its global/domestic Power be questioned.

    • Failures of torture well documented

      Michael Nutkiewicz’s recent letter to the Journal (Dec. 20) about the futility and danger of torture was spot-on correct. I spent 25 years in the Federal Bureau of Investigation and retired in 2009 as the Special Agent in Charge (SAC) of the FBI for New Mexico. Prior to that I was SAC for the FBI in Alaska for four years. My heart does not ache, and I face no moral dilemma, for those chosen to undergo enhanced interrogation techniques (EIT). My issue with EIT and torture in general is that it just doesn’t work and is, in fact, counterproductive. Mr. Nutkiewicz correctly notes studies have shown valuable intelligence overwhelmingly being collected through simple and direct interrogation techniques.

    • Hector Avalos: A torturing faith?

      According to Hayden, the CIA’s program is “built on the particular psychological profile of the people we have and expect to get — al-Qaeda operatives. Perceiving themselves true believers in a religious war, detainees believe they are morally bound to resist until Allah has sent them a burden too great for them to withstand. At that point — and that point varies by detainee — their cooperation in their own heart and soul becomes blameless and they enter into this cooperative relationship with our debriefers.”

      So what sorts of sufferings might you inflict on these Muslim detainees to persuade them to cooperate, and yet remain sinless in their religion?

      Aside from waterboarding, which brings victims to near drowning, “interrogators used ‘rough takedowns,’ described as taking a naked detainee outside of his cell, placing a hood over his head, and dragging him up and down a long corridor while slapping and punching him.”

      Another was “the technique known as ‘hanging,’ involving handcuffing one or both wrists to an overhead horizontal bar… one detainee was apparently left hanging for 22 hours each day for two consecutive days to ‘break’ his resistance.”

      Then there was “forced rectal feeding,” which the CIA said was “medically necessary” for those refusing to eat. For example, a detainee named Majid Khan, was “subjected to involuntary rectal feeding and rectal hydration, which included two bottles of Ensure. Later that same day, Majid Khan’s ‘lunch tray,’ consisting of hummus, pasta with sauce, nuts, and raisins, was ‘pureed’ and rectally infused.”

    • Commentary: A long overdue nod to Latin self-determination

      Fidel Castro would survive 11 U.S. presidents, at least eight CIA plots to assassinate him and a few premature obituaries, and live to see world’s most powerful country finally give in and recognize—in principle at least—Cuba’s right to national self-determination.

    • Can The Cuban Revolution Withstand The Normalization Of Relations With US?

      On Dec. 17, the United States and Cuba carried out an unprecedented — but not unforeseen — prisoner swap: USAID subcontractor Alan Gross and an unidentified U.S. intelligence asset were released by Cuban authorities in exchange for the three remaining members of the “Cuban 5” being held in the U.S.

      [...]

      The Cuban 5, on the other hand, were imprisoned for attempting to safeguard the small island nation from terrorist activities that intensified following the 1976 bombing of a Cuban passenger plane by former CIA agents Luis Posada Carriles and Orlando Bosch. In 1998, they were charged with a number of crimes in the U.S., including conspiracy to commit espionage, conspiracy to commit murder, and acting as agents of a foreign government.

    • Torture Reports: Brazil and the United States Release Reports Documenting Systematic Human Rights Abuses

      One day after the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence released its Executive Summary of the CIA’s detention and interrogation program exposing a policy of torture applied in the War on Terror, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff unveiled her country’s investigatory National Truth Commission Report, identifying human rights atrocities committed in Brazil between 1946 and 1988.

    • Al-Qaeda terrorist suspect dies days before his trial in New York

      Nazih Abdul-Hamed al-Ruqai was diagnosed with advanced liver cancer after U.S. commandos and FBI agents captured him in 2013, outside of his home in a suburb of Tripoli, Libya.

    • Perspectives: Torture, stop defending the indefensible

      For instance, of the 119 detainees tortured by CIA agents and contractors, 26 individuals were mistakenly held. This means that completely innocent people were detained and tortured for months. Not all of them survived their captivity.

    • Torture Doesn’t Save Lives, It Costs Them

      In 1995, I swore an oath to support and defend our Constitution — a document proclaiming basic human rights and prohibiting the U.S. government from inflicting “cruel and unusual punishment.” After taking this oath, I became a military intelligence officer and, four years after that, a counterintelligence officer with interrogation training.

    • Was revenge the hidden rationale for torture?

      The widespread rhetoric of evil and fear surrounding terrorism suspects has created a large risk that individuals who are detained for interrogation will automatically be seen as inherently bad. For example, in a “Meet the Press” interview the Sunday after the torture report was made public, former Vice President Dick Cheney described the CIA’s targets as way: Unlawful combatants who committed unlawful acts of war against Americans.

      My research has serious implications: Public support for the use of severe interrogation may well have less to do with a quest for information than with a subconscious human instinct for vengeance, even though that is not the expressed purpose of interrogation.

    • Brain-Washing the American Way

      2013’s “Zero Dark Thirty,” about the capture and murder of Osama bin Laden, made the false point that torture works.

      Both Sony films depict and promote State Department and C.I.A. narratives, and were vetted and approved by those government agencies—yet, the truth of each narrative is questionable, at best, and their effect on audience understanding of history is frightening.

    • Police increasingly use
      torture, says Kontras

      Based on the CIA torture report recently disclosed, the bombshell report revealed that the American government had approved the torture of prisoners, some of whom were wrongfully imprisoned and held without due process or even public acknowledgment. An earlier report found that some detainees were held indefinitely at least in part because the CIA about the circumstances of their detention.

      When we allow fear and uncertainty to drive our policy, the consequences can haunt us forever. In the saddest news of all, of the world’s nations helped run the program.

      The Senate report makes it clear that “enhanced interrogation techniques” is simply a euphemism.

      Interrogators also staged executions and made threats to hurt detainee’s children or rape and murder their mothers, a common form of psychological torture that has been a mainstay of totalitarian regimes for centuries.

  • Internet/Net Neutrality

    • Who’s the true enemy of internet freedom – China, Russia, or the US?

      Recent reports that China has imposed further restrictions on Gmail, Google’s flagship email service, should not really come as much of a surprise. While Chinese users have been unable to access Gmail’s site for several years now, they were still able to use much of its functionality, thanks to third-party services such as Outlook or Apple Mail.

      This loophole has now been closed (albeit temporarily – some of the new restrictions seem to have been mysteriously lifted already), which means determined Chinese users have had to turn to more advanced circumvention tools. Those unable or unwilling to perform any such acrobatics can simply switch to a service run by a domestic Chinese company – which is precisely what the Chinese government wants them to do.

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