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01.18.15

Microsoft, the Back Doors Company, is Gradually Dying and Trying to Embrace the Competition

Posted in Deception, GNU/Linux, Microsoft at 5:15 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Microsoft bug report

From documents just released by Der Spiegel, via Edward Snowden (click to zoom)

Summary: The world is leaving Microsoft’s common carrier (Windows) behind, so Microsoft, which is shrinking, tries to conquer Free software and GNU/Linux

Microsoft Windows has been facilitating/enabling GCHQ (like ‘NSA UK’) and NSA with back doors, including — perhaps passively — so-called ‘crash reports’, as revealed by new documents (published over the weekend). Microsoft bug reports are now being used against their reporters, selecting “targets” using this ‘volunteering’ effort. How nice is that? No wonder China is banning Microsoft software while Russia heads down a similar path (abolishing x86 in government).

Recently in the news there was some noise from Microsoft boosters and sympathisers who spoke about giving Microsoft control over GNU/Linux servers. It is a dangerous and dumb idea as it’s more or less like a Linux-to-Windows migration, merely self-serving (to Microsoft) and dangerous to one’s freedom. We already responded to this noise last week, but it carried on until the end of the week. It is clear why Microsoft is so eager to take control over GNU/Linux and Apache. Despite the fact that Netcraft is being gamed by Microsoft, Netcraft still shows that Microsoft continues with its losses on the Web (see January 2015 Web Server Survey) [via], declining to almost single-digit market share. It is also evident that Microsoft as a company is shrinking (people inside Microsoft tell us that) and Gates-funded papers like this one from Seattle help spin staff backlash:

A group of workers employed by a Microsoft contractor successfully organized a union — a rare feat in the tech industry — and is now bargaining with its company over a contract.

A reader told us that Microsoft is basically “still doing the permatemp thing” that helps hide layoffs. The above article from the Microsoft-friendly press does not tell the full story. Microsoft has basically outsourced a lot of its labour and put it on contract, so there is no termination, no layoffs. There is no long-term obligation to such staff.

“Microsoft has basically outsourced a lot of its labour and put it on contract, so there is no termination, no layoffs.”Finally, speaking of Microsoft spin, Adrian Bridgwater calls “Community Service” Microsoft indoctrination of students. We don’t know if he is being deliberately thick or just trying to entertain readers. This relates to what we wrote some days ago about Microsoft preying on children. Microsoft is trying to fill GitHub with .NET projects, even at the expense of CodePlex. There is a charm offensive over this and Microsoft's booster Mr. Anderson wrote that “Program Manager Kasey Uhlenhuth explains that the Roslyn team is not only moving the repository, but also switching to git internally.”

Just wait until propagandistic firms like the Microsoft-connected Black Duck claim that .NET and Microsoft-centric licences are on the rise, based on some figures from GitHub. That’s just a case of Microsoft infiltrating its competition.

Battistelli’s Latest Propaganda War Tries to Convince EPO Staff That Željko Topić’s Many Criminal Charges Don’t Exist

Posted in Europe, Patents at 4:36 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Forgiving Topić for his abuses, covering up the embarrassments

Benoit Battistelli

Summary: Battistelli’s right-hand man, Željko Topić, is now facing real danger of prosecution and possibly arrest in his home country, so Battistelli rushes to defend this thug’s reputation

“The Propaganda War at the EPO is escalating,” told us a source. Citing this piece/exhibit [PDF], it sure looks like legal threats may have been made by Željko Topić, forcing a journalist to retract. Battistelli quickly exploits this. Two months ago we wrote about the disappearance of an important article about Topić (alas, one of very many articles). Allegations were made by people from Croatia that there had been something odd and that the article was probably removed with some pressure. Days ago we received “a quick update on EPO matters” from one of our many sources “as there have been some interesting developments on the Balkan front.

“As you might have heard,” said this source, “the second and final round of the Croatian Presidential election took place last Sunday (11 January).” The BBC’s article, a puff piece titled “Grabar-Kitarovic elected Croatia’s first woman president”, provides some background.

“Ivo Josipovic who has held office as President since 2010 was ousted,” stressed our source. “According to the Croatian press, Josipovic has been one of Topić’s key “protectors” in Croatia.

“The incoming news from Croatia seems to have unleashed a panic reaction on the upper floors of the EPO’s Isar building” and the latter about is basically some “Communiqué” from Battistelli which only “appeared [a week ago] (12 January) on the EPO Intranet.”

“Wouldn’t it be hilarious if Battistelli marched in Paris for free speech and freedom?”Time for whitewashing perhaps. Reusing old stuff, too.

The letter above refers to the recent “Apology to Zeljko Topic” written by Zeljko Peratovic — a free-lance Croatian journalist who operates his own personal blog site 45lines.com. In the “Communiqué” from Battistelli, Peratovic is described as “an editor-in-chief in Croatian media” [sic.] and this basically ignores dozens of other sources that wrote about criminal charges against Topić or explained his abuses. So, in other words, this is Battistelli’s latest publicity stunt. He is trying to pretend that Croatian sites that wrote about Topić’s crimes are all wrong. Sadly for Battistelli and his gang, we are going to work hard to bring into English many of the facts about Topić (translations to German and English would keep him awake at night), hopefully before he ends up ousted or in prison (in Croatia, with or without help from the German police).

“There is a lot of speculation about what exactly motivated Peratovic to publish this “Apology”,” wrote our source. “Some people are of the opinion that he was paid off, maybe from Battistelli’s “caisse noire” at the EPO. Others think that may have been put under pressure by Topić or his attorney. Amidst all the conjecture, one thing is certain: there is something very fishy about this “Apology”.”

A month ago a source told us more about this odd withdrawal of an article. A lot of people seem to have noticed it, including people in Croatia. “There has been a strange new twist in the Topić story at the EPO,” told us the source. Have a look at this part that says “I am ready to have this apology translated to English in order to point out the wrongful use of my persona in the dispute between The Union of EPO Employees and the current president Battistelli and vice-president Topić.”

Who would write such a thing unless under great pressure? Techrights has had that done to it in the past, with legal threats made against the site. The bullies want an apology printed in order for them to later link to it.

“We suspect that this is some kind of “paid advertising”,” told us a source. “We can’t say for sure but maybe someone in Croatia has more information,” the source added. “The Croatian version of his original English article which Peratovic claims to have been translated and published without his knowledge or permission is still freely accessible on the Internet and his name is still on it. It alleges corruption and presents documents.

Meanwhile, as noted by another blogger, Battistelli is collapsing/coalescing all independent bodies, ensuing there is no scrutiny at all and all opposition is ousted, intimidated, discredited, or perhaps even bribed (we cannot prove that last one but all the rest are factually true). “On the one hand,” says Merpel, “it is clear that Mr Battistelli, the President of the EPO, would like to bring the Boards of Appeal more within the ordinary management structure of the Office, according to his comments suggesting that “Alicantation” is the correct path forward” (for him at least).

Just half a year ago we saw Battistelli working hard to also abolish the rights of his staff, basically rejecting strikes:

In a letter sent to staff and seen by WIPR, EPO president Benoît Battistelli said it could not go ahead because it might “create confusion” at a time when new staff representatives are being elected.

Wouldn’t it be hilarious if Battistelli marched in Paris for free speech and freedom? Battistelli is not Charlie; he is more like the assassins, seeking to shut up the messengers by all means possible. Those who subscribe to the philosophy of Charlie would have to fight hard to stop him, even at risk to their careers (not lives). As for Topić, he has so much to be afraid of (a closet full of skeletons) that he cannot do much to defend himself; that’s just seemingly Battistelli’s spiel these days.

Incidentally, another source recently came forth to us, perhaps easily bamboozled by what Battistelli claims about Topić.

“The Croatian journalist revoked,” this source wrote, “as you know.” Well, but the revocation does not discredit any specific claims which were made. “I hope you are OK,” said the source, “and not put under pressure in any way.” To be fair to Topić and Battistelli, neither of them has threatened us. This may mean that they have no effective way to rebut what we have shown over the past 4 months. Our source sent us his/her “thanks for making the EPO more transparent.” He or she said that the “initiative hurts them.” Lastly, said this source: “Please make sure not to become a target yourself (by being too critical).”

“Before the article disappeared,” said a source of ours, someone “took the precaution of making a PDF copy.” Referring to the recent “Apology to Zeljko Topic” written by Zeljko Peratovic, one of our sources has just received information that a party in Croatia (Vesna Stilin) has submitted a rebuttal to Zeljko Peratovic’s 45lines.com website requesting that it be published and linked to the “Apology”.

At the moment, the text of the rebuttal is only available in Croatian but we expect an English translation to become available some time during the coming week, so we will publish a copy of the English version of the rebuttal when it becomes available.

The source can’t say whether or not there might be legal issues if we were to post the original article online as one presumes that Peratovic has the copyright on the original article. We have checked our rights and presumably he could ask us to remove it. An interesting detail here is that a Croatian version of the Peratovic article is still freely available online. Only the original English version of the article which he published on his 45lines.com blog site has disappeared. Why does the EPO’s management worry so much about the English text being available? Maybe because far more people can read English. “It seems that what Topic is really worried about is any kind of journalistic coverage that is accessible to an audience outside Croatia,” a source told us, so some folks have generated a PDF using the text of Peratovic’s article but “wrapping” it as a translation of the Croatian article on Metro Portal. Here is PDF version of the text below [PDF] and the original with photos included [PDF]. The article which the EPO’s management does not want to exist is below, excepting the images (see second PDF).


A WRONG MAN SITTING AT THE EPO?

Date: 26 June 2013

The “Balkan Express” route of M.Sc. Željko Topić from Banja Luka to Munich via Zagreb.

The corruption scandal at the State Intellectual Property Office (SIPO) of the Republic of Croatia with M.Sc. Željko Topić, former Director of that Croatian institution in the main role, has crossed the administrative borders of the Republic of Croatia and is currently shaking the European Patent Office (EPO) in Munich, an international patent protection organisation, by an unprecedented affair to date.

The EPO with its headquarters in Munich is an institution of special importance for the EU. It has offices in The Hague, Berlin and Vienna and employs a considerable number of about seven thousand people. The basic EPO’s role is to regulate and strengthen cooperation among the European Member States in terms of protection of patent rights. In addition to 27 EU Member States, as well as Croatia from 1st July 2013, it also represents the patent interests of 11 non-EU Member States. When in March 2012 the EPO’s Management Board, with full support of President of the organisation, Benoit Batistelli, appointed a master of science from Banja Luka, Željko Topić, as one of the five Vice-Presidents, they probably did not have a clue who was coming to join them, a person with a number of criminal charges pressed against him and court proceedings in the Republic of Croatia and before the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.

NEW ADDITIONS TO ŽELJKO TOPIĆ’S BIOGRAPHY

In addition to all juicy stories published in the media about Mr. Željko Topić so far, there is also some new evidence, which characterises his work and actions at the Croatian Intellectual Property Office in Zagreb at the time as a sophisticated conflict of interest. More specifically, while Mr. Željko Topić was sitting, i.e. was working for the SIPO, in April 2002 he simultaneously founded an association called “Adepta” – Croatian Intellectual Property Association” and offered “cooperation” to the SIPO. He would send interesting “notes” to the then Director of the SIPO and propose cooperation but also ask for financial support for his “projects”. He introduced the association, falsely, as the first national association of its kind in Croatia, although the copyright protection had already been covered by the activities of the “Croatian Copyright Association” (CCA), whereas the intellectual property (industrial property and copyright with related rights) had been covered by the activities of a Croatian branch of the International Association for the Protection of Intellectual Property, the so-called “AIPPI – Croatia” as early as 1999.

However, to make things even more bizarre, Topić’s “second” office was registered at the address of a nearby coffee bar in Plivska 27 in Zagreb, a mere 50-odd metres away from the SIPO’s building. Many SIPO’s employees witnessed Mr. Topić signing and stamping the letters of the Adepta Association during his working hours at the tables in the aforementioned coffee bar.

Off the record, practically the entire SIPO was aware of the activities of the main character in our story, but nobody took any action. According to our sources, Mr. Topić, allegedly had an intention to use the SIPO’s national database for private purposes via “Adepta”.

“Adepta”’s Vice-President Branka Ljubišić, who also became Topić’s first deputy in 2004 when he became Director of the SIPO for the first time, left him after they had worked together for about a year at the foregoing positions and publicly accused him of incompetence. It would be useful to find out if Topić, when he became Director of the SIPO, gave financial donations to his own association given the fact that former Director of the SIPO, Hrvoje Junašević, refused to do so with resentment.

Topić’s CV, which he personally uploaded on the Internet and which is visible on the portal of the World Intellectual Property Organization – WIPO due to his membership in its professional bodies, indicates that he is the president of the Croatian branch of the AIPPI, which is not true. He was hiding behind a minor “Adepta”. Topić’s CV is riddled with false facts. In particular, one can single out Topić’s claim that he worked as an Assistant Director of the SIPO for 11 years (1992-2003). According to the information from the SIPO, the first Director of the SIPO, Nikola Kopčić, assumed his powers from the Government of the Republic of Croatia for the period of ten years, his entire mandate (1992-2002) and himself appointed the SIPO’s officials (his assistants) instead of the Government of the Republic of Croatia. Accordingly, Željko Topić worked as an Assistant Director of the SIPO for a short while, but not for 11 years, as stated in his CV. Furthermore, it is indicative that he attributes such nomination to himself as authorised nomination and simultaneously disputes identical nominations of others.

To our knowledge, it is still unknown if Mr. Batistelli, President of the EPO in Munich, is familiar with this important detail in the curriculum vitae of his assistant and if Željko Topić meanwhile followed the same pattern and set up a parallel association at an obscure kebab bar in the German territory, at the nearby Bahnhof (railway station) in Munich.

In his CV, Topić likewise indicated that he worked on the establishment of the national intellectual property system, that is, legislation of the SIPO of the Republic of Croatia, which is not true. It was the SIPO’s lawyers, and not him as an economist, who worked on that subject matter. He claimed to be an initiator, coordinator and main associate of the National Intellectual Property System Development Strategy in the Republic of Croatia, but it was a document he never observed, which can be demonstrated by his ignoring of the public lending right, a new right important for writers, whereby he caused them irreparable financial damage.

He claimed to be a national intellectual property coordinator in the EU accession process, but it was Professor Siniša Petrović from the Faculty of Law in Zagreb who had that role. He stated that he was a Croatian patent and trademark representative, but this function was attributed to him by his deputy (and vice versa) without any initial transparent procedure for others at the SIPO.

SIPO’S OFFICIAL AND SIPO’S REPRESENTATIVE AT THE SAME TIME

In addition to the „Adepta” Association, in March 2003 with Attorneys at Law Korper & Haramija from Zagreb Željko Topić founded a company called Korper, Haramija & Topić d.o.o. /a limited liability company/, whose activities inter alia also included representation before the SIPO. When in 2004 he became Director of the SIPO, his actions were illegal: the Korper, Haramija & Topić d.o.o. Company was not registered in the SIPO’s Register of Representatives since it would be a direct, visible conflict of interest. However, the powers of attorney submitted to the SIPO by that company for its representation of different entities together with the Topić’s name were processed, like any other case, represented by companies registered in the Register of Representatives. Only the companies registered in the SIPO’s Register of Representatives may engage in representation as an occupation, which excludes the Korper, Haramija & Topić d.o.o. Company and makes their powers of attorney invalid.

We are in possession of the powers of attorney of that company with Topić’s name and evidence of further proceedings, at the time when he was Director of the SIPO, as well as other documentation which corroborates our claims.

Additionally, if other representatives had found out that the SIPO’s Director represents other companies in line with the powers of attorney, they could have made a big legal scandal and pleaded a conflict of interest. Unlike the Adepta episode from the nearby coffee bar, some employees within the SIPO’s system must have been aware of this illegal business of Željko Topić since the foregoing documentation had to pass through their hands.

Whilst doing research into this topic, we also obtained some information that Mr. Željko Topić owns a document issued by the Croatian authorities that denies any serious proceedings instituted against him in the Republic of Croatia now or at least for the time being, that is, it indicates that all charges against him were dropped. This document is allegedly officially available at the EPO in Munich on its internal website signed by President of the EPO in February 2013. If this is true, then only the State Attorney’s Office (DORH) headed by Chief State Attorney Mladen Bajić could have issued that document to “master of science” Topić. At any case, it will be interesting to see how this story is going to develop after it has become established how this Balkan intellectual managed to go through the EU security system and get employed at the EPO in Munich. According to some unofficial German newspaper sources, Željko Topić enjoys the protection of President of the EPO, Benoit Batistelli. The motive or cause behind it is yet to be identified within the EPO’s security system.

As it is evident from the official website of the SIPO and the EPO, during the last year Željko Topić slowly started to recruit his resources systematically and to create his network within the ranks of the EPO: recently the current Director of the Croatian SIPO, Ljiljana Kuterovac, “suddenly turned up” there. A couple of months ago she was appointed as a member of the Supervisory Board of the EPO’s Academy in Munich for a three-year mandate. Many thus consider this international promotion of the current SIPO’s Director from Zagreb as a reciprocal favour to the person to whom Željko Topić assigned a private task to “watch his back” in court proceedings in Croatia and to be his informant on a daily basis.

EPO STARTS INVESTIGATION IN THE SRPSKA REPUBLIC

According to his official CV, Željko Topić started his career as a sales specialist at the Yugoslav Railways with headquarters in Banja Luka (former Yugoslav Republic Bosnia and Herzegovina) in the early 1980s, i.e. after he had finished his studies. He tried to get a job at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Yugoslavia in Belgrade before that, but he was rejected.

Off the record, according to the newspaper headlines and systematic internal reports at the headquarters in Munich, the EPO has started an official investigation in the territory of the Republic of Srpska, at the University of Banja Luka, to establish the credibility of his diploma, that is, his master’s degree. The findings of the EPO’s investigation team are still unknown, including the reasons why a master of science from Banja Luka when seeking employment at the EPO did not mention a number of criminal proceedings instituted against him in Croatia and two court proceedings in Strasbourg.

Before his arrival at the EPO, on a few occasions Željko Topić also tried to apply for a job at the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) in Geneva, but he failed. He again falsified his personal data to embellish his CV based on unfounded and false facts.

Likewise, a mention should be made of the following piece of information: on his way to obtain the current position in Munich Željko Topić allegedly used some mysterious circles in Budapest. It is not known if the convicted former Prime Minister of the Government of the Republic of Croatia, Dr. Ivo Sanader, also travelled with him on the same train with the “INA-MOL” file on his person.

On the eve of Croatia’s accession to the European Union an issue remains open if there is a corruption link between the structures of the Croatian state institutions, individual associations and the attorneys’ lobby. An investigation of this issue has been avoided to date by the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of the Interior, the State Attorney’s Office (DORH) and the Anti-Corruption Office (USKOK), the bodies regulated by the Croatian Constitution to protect the legal order and legal security of the Republic of Croatia. It is a small wonder then that our country has been given such an unfavourable ranking in the international Corruption Perceptions Index according to the latest international surveys and that one of the main Croatian export products to be offered is the unacceptable carcinogenic and deviant social behaviour in the form of “intellectual corruption”.

Links 18/1/2015: Sailfish OS RoadMap, ownCloud Turns 5

Posted in News Roundup at 4:08 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Dear Computer Makers: I Want an Ubuntu Notebook!

    I want to buy an inexpensive, low to medium-end notebook that comes preinstalled with Ubuntu. I want it to have hardware that is supported by the latest Linux kernel so I can put any GNU/Linux distribution on it that I want. I want it to look nice, you know, like all those fancy HP Stream notebooks and Chromebooks that you’re selling. I want it to cost $300 to $450.

  • Desktop

    • Given The Choice, Consumers Prefer GNU/Linux

      We need that choice everywhere to make the world of IT a very different place. Go ahead, retailers, offer GNU/Linux and that other OS on more or less identical hardware and see what your customers want. Aren’t they always right? I believe when consumers first got a crack at GNU/Linux on the netbook, that movement should have spread to all PCs but was stifled by M$ and “partners”. It’s time that was revisited and the supply chain starts producing what the consumer wants.

  • Kernel Space

    • Linus Torvalds and the cults of niceness and diversity

      Sometimes in life YOU have to be the wolverine, and fight for what’s yours with tooth and claw! Reach inside and unleash your inner wolverine. It’s in there and it’s waiting for you to use it when the need arises to defend yourself or what’s yours. So if you go into open source or anything else, stand up for yourself when you need to and don’t let anybody walk all over you.

    • Handheld Linux Terminal Gets an A+

      Are you all thumbs when it comes to Linux? If you follow [Chris]’s guide to building a handheld Linux terminal, that particular condition could work to your advantage. His pocket-sized machine is perfect for practicing command line-fu and honing your scripting skills on the go.

    • Asynchronous Device/Driver Probing For The Linux Kernel

      While Google’s Chrome OS supports asynchronous device/driver probing, the mainline Linux kernel does not. However, patches are working toward this feat in order to speed up the kernel’s boot process for hardware/drivers that are slow at probing.

    • Graphics Stack

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • Improving KDE’s support for Korean (and other CJK languages)

        In addition to my usual work on things like Plasma and Konversation, I’ve been hacking away on bugs that pose barriers to the use of the Korean language and writing system in KDE/Qt systems lately (I took up studying Korean as a new hobby last year). As a bonus, many fixes also tend to help out users of other CJK (Chinese, Japanese, Korean) languages, or even generally of languages other than English.

      • GCI-2014

        These and more features and bug fixes are available on latest master version of Marble. It still needs some polishing and improvements but you can start using/testing it already.

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • First ownCloud lustrum

    This weekend ownCloud turns 5 (5 years old, not 5.0 :P), congratulations to Frank Karlitschek and the entire ownCloud community!

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

  • Public Services/Government

    • Castilla-La Mancha nurtures open source sector

      The government of Castilla-La Mancha (Spain) continues to strengthen the region’s free and open source ICT service providers. The region’s Technology Support Centre (BILIB) is helping companies pilot cloud solutions based on this type of software.

  • Openness/Sharing

    • Open Access/Content

      • ‘Open source’ textbooks provide many benefits

        When Professor Jonathan Tomkin went looking for a textbook to use in his introductory Earth Systems class, nothing was quite right.

        He couldn’t find a book that he felt was worth the high price tag for students. So he put one together with a few colleagues — for free.

Leftovers

  • Science

    • Why Some Teams Are Smarter Than Others

      We next tried to define what characteristics distinguished the smarter teams from the rest, and we were a bit surprised by the answers we got. We gave each volunteer an individual I.Q. test, but teams with higher average I.Q.s didn’t score much higher on our collective intelligence tasks than did teams with lower average I.Q.s. Nor did teams with more extroverted people, or teams whose members reported feeling more motivated to contribute to their group’s success.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • David Cameron and his freedom hypocrisy

      Before it was shadowed by the heinous attacks in Paris, France last week, it emerged that the NHS is in a grim state. Numerous hospitals across the UK declared major incidents.

    • A Drug Warrior’s Inside Look at the War on Afghanistan’s Heroin Trade

      One of the many messes the United States is leaving behind as it formally withdraws from Afghanistan is that it’s more or less a narco state. Despite the United States spending nearly $8 billion to fight the Afghan narcotics trade, the country is producing more opium than ever. It’s unlikely to get better anytime soon: Last month, the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction reported that counternarcotics efforts in Afghanistan “are no longer a top priority.”

  • Security

  • Defence/Police/Secrecy/Aggression

    • Months of Airstrikes Fail to Slow Islamic State in Syria

      Militant Group Has Gained Territory Despite U.S.-Led Strikes, Raising Concerns of the Obama Administration’s Mideast Strategy.

    • Evidence Points to Syrian Push for Nuclear Weapons

      At 11 p.m. on Sept. 5, 2007, 10 F-15 fighter bombers climbed into the sky from the Israeli military base Ramat David, just south of Haifa. They headed for the Mediterranean Sea, officially for a training mission. A half hour later, three of the planes were ordered to return to base while the others changed course, heading over Turkey toward the Syrian border. There, they eliminated a radar station with electronic jamming signals and, after 18 more minutes, reached the city of Deir al-Zor, located on the banks of the Euphrates River. Their target was a complex of structures known as Kibar, just east of the city. The Israelis fired away, completely destroying the factory using Maverick missiles and 500 kilogram bombs.

      The pilots returned to base without incident and Operation Orchard was brought to a successful conclusion. In Jerusalem, then-Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and his closest advisors were in a self-congratulatory mood, convinced as they were that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad was seeking to build a nuclear weapon and that Kibar was the almost-completed facility where that construction was to take place. They believed that their dangerous operation had saved the world from immense harm.

    • Gorbachev Interview: ‘I Am Truly and Deeply Concerned’

      In a SPIEGEL interview, former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev discusses the dangers of poor relations between Russia and the West in the Ukraine crisis, saying there is a danger that things could get worse. Germany, he says, has a significant role to play.

    • Chinese attacks cost U.S. Defense Department over $100M

      Chinese army hackers apparently caused more than $100 million worth of damage to U.S. Department of Defense networks, according to NSA research detailed in documents from the Edward Snowden cache.

    • White House to explain changes to NSA surveillance

      Notwithstanding the president’s endorsement, a legislative attempt at rewriting the rules for metadata collection and storage by way of Congress came two votes short of advancing when the USA Freedom Act failed in the Senate in November.

      According to Volz, however, the forthcoming report will indeed include details about what’s been accomplished as far as adjusting policies for metadata collection goes, along with information concerning a proposed technological solution to the dragnet surveillance issue described in a report released on Thursday by the National Research Council. That report – assembled in response to the Presidential Policy Directive 28 the White House issued one year ago in concert with Obama’s Jan. 17 remarks – concluded that “no software-based technique can fully replace the bulk collection of signals intelligence, but methods can be developed to more effectively conduct targeted collection and to control the usage of collected data.”

    • Former NSA Director Says US Private Sector Cyber-Retaliation Possible

      Allowing US private sector actors to conduct offensive, retaliatory cyber attacks deserve some consideration, former National Security Agency Director Michael Hayden said at a cybersecurity conference.

    • FBI considered recruiting blogger who was killed in drone attack

      A CIA drone strike that killed Anwar Al-Awlaki also killed another US citizen, Samir Khan – the FBI had considered recruiting him as al-Qaeda informant.

    • US drone strike kills seven in South Waziristan

      PESHAWAR: At least seven suspected militants have been killed while four others were injured in a US drone strike near the Pak-Afghan border in South Waziristan Agency.

    • U.S. airstrike in Syria may have killed 50 civilians

      The civilians were being held in a makeshift jail in the town of Al Bab, close to the Turkish border, when the aircraft struck on the evening of Dec. 28, the witnesses said. The building, called the Al Saraya, a government center, was leveled in the airstrike. It was days before civil defense workers could dig out the victims’ bodies.

    • U.S. Airstrike Inside Syria Reportedly Killed 50 Civilians

      Eyewitnesses and a Syrian opposition human rights organization claim an unannounced U.S. airstrike killed at least 50 civilians in in a government building located in a small city in the country’s north.

    • Drone strikes in Pakistan declined: Report

      The number of drone strikes carried out in Pakistan by the United States dropped by more than 32 per cent in 2014 as compared with the previous year, according to the Pakistan Institute of Peace Studies’ (PIPS) Pakistan Security Report 2014. A total of 21 strikes were reported last year, killing an estimated 144 and wounding 29 over a period of six months.

    • The CIA finds targeted drone murders counterproductive

      When the U.S. targets a person for murder, it kills 27 additional people.

    • While the world has been looking elsewhere, Boko Haram has carved out its own, brutal country

      You might not have noticed, but the world has acquired a new country. With its own capital, army and self-styled “emir,” this domain possesses some of the features of statehood. But don’t expect an application to join the United Nations: the consuming ambition of this realm is to reverse just about every facet of human progress achieved over the past millennium.

    • Drones create terrorists & media ignores 2,000 killed by Boko Haram (E161)
    • U.S. will investigate reports of civilian deaths in drone strikes against ISIL

      For more than a decade, there have been drone and aircraft strikes in countries including Yemen and Pakistan and allegations that hundreds, and perhaps thousands, of civilians have been killed. For the first time, the U.S. government has admitted that there may be civilian deaths in the campaign against ISIL as well. CCTV America’s Jim Spellman reported this story from Washington, D.C.

    • Assassination Nation

      Imagine living in a town or neighborhood where a serial killer is on the loose. The killer’s primary weapon is a pipe bomb filled with small metal projectiles like BBs and nails. The bombs are designed to kill and maim those in the vicinity of the explosion. The killer’s weapons are usually aimed at male targets, but quite often several others in the vicinity are also killed, including women and children. Oftentimes, a note is sent to the media after the attacks warning of future attacks unless the people being targeted give in to the killer or killers’ demands. The fact of the attacks’ unpredictability has created a perennial fear in the region, leaving every resident uncertain of their future and their family’s safety.

    • At least 10 killed in Niger protests against publication of cartoons
    • Tear gas used at banned protest

      Security forces in Niger used tear gas to disperse hundreds of opposition supporters taking part in a banned demonstration in the capital Niamey.

      The political altercation came after 10 people were killed in two days of violent protests against a French publication’s cartoon depicting Islam’s prophet.

    • Four dead and dozens wounded in protests in Niger against Charlie Hebdo cartoon
    • How Targeted Killing Has Become Tactic Of Choice For Both Governments And Terrorists

      The U.S. might at this point retain close to exclusive control over deadly drone warfare but it has neverthless created an easy to imitate model of targeted violence where the claimed legitimacy of the violence is not defined by its instruments or the authority of its perpetrators but simply by the idea that the targets are not innocent.

    • Mother ‘set fire to baby in road’

      A woman accused of setting fire to her newborn baby girl in the middle of a road has been charged with murder.

      Burlington County prosecutors said Hyphernkemberly Dorvilier, 22, of Pemberton Township, New Jersey, was in custody on 500,000 dollars (£331,000) bail. She tried to flee after starting the fire but was detained by residents, according to a witness.

    • Bad policies make us more vulnerable to terrorists

      From the end of the Cold War and the collapse of the Soviet Union until that crisp September morning of 2001, Americans lived without the specter of fear. Our sense of security was shattered on that day and our country has spent the better part of the past decade striving and fighting to restore what was lost.

    • What’s the Connection Between Suicide Bombers and Suicide Rates?

      Isolation and desperation are the likely cause of young men becoming “terrorists,” argues Larry Beck.

      The “terrorists” have struck again, offering up last week’s version of mindless violence in the name of some cause. When this happens, I am appalled at the violence, heartbroken that innocents usually die and always left wondering what it is about some causes that seemingly provide a framework for destruction. This is particularly so when I can’t figure out what the cause really is.

  • Transparency Reporting

    • FAQ: Investigative journalism now – and its future

      1. How would you describe the current situation of investigative journalism in the UK?

      I think it’s a mixed situation as always. There’s certainly a lot of interest in investigative journalism, with a lot of people taking the initiative to launch their own projects. The Bureau of Investigative Journalism has been particularly notable in that respect, but also the work of Brown Moses stands out.

      Crowdfunding in particular is playing an increasing role (one of my distance learning students at Birmingham City University raised over $6000 for her investigation), but also campaigners and activists publishing their investigations, and data journalism techniques being used by a wider number of people.

    • Charging Jeffrey Sterling but not David Petraeus captures the hypocrisy of government leaks

      One of the grossest hypocrisies of Washington officialdom is the willingness to denounce leaks of some classified information and to countenance leaks of other classified information. But the gap between indignant pretense and standard practice has widened into a chasm in recent years, with Barack Obama’s administration prosecuting leakers in record numbers while protecting its own. Selective prosecution of leaks in the name of national security has never been more extreme.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

    • Dallas Safari Club follows controversial rhino hunt with bids to shoot elephant

      A Texas hunting club was once again scheduled on Saturday to auction off a chance to kill a large animal whose numbers are dwindling, a year after it faced international criticism over doing the same with a permit to shoot an endangered black rhino.

    • Everything You Need To Know About Cyberterrorism In One Chart

      I don’t know how we missed this chart on its first go-around (it was created by Eli Dourado in May 2014, using data extrapolated from a 2013 op-ed by Jon Mooallem, who spent the summer of that year keeping track of power outages caused by squirrels), but it is everything, and you deserve to know that it exists.

  • Finance

    • Searching for Radical Democracy in the Ruins of Capitalism’s Economic Depravity

      The future demands a new political consciousness. We can’t just wait for neoliberal economics to tear apart society and then build from scratch. Cultural critic Henry Giroux published his thoughts in the Truthout analysis article Authoritarianism, Class Warfare and the Advance of Neoliberal Austerity Policies. Author and cultural critic Henry Giroux holds the Global Television Network Chair in English and Cultural Studies.

    • Majority of U.S. public school students are in poverty

      For the first time in at least 50 years, a majority of U.S. public school students come from low-income families, according to a new analysis of 2013 federal data, a statistic that has profound implications for the nation.

    • Mitt Flips On The Very Poor

      Nearly three years after he famously said he was “not concerned about the very poor,” former presidential nominee Mitt Romney told Republicans in a speech Friday night the party must focus on helping “lift people out of poverty.”

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

  • Censorship

    • Help! I’m censored on Famine sitcom by anti-censorship mag

      Here is what they say about themselves: “Index on Censorship is an international organization that promotes and defends the right to freedom of expression.”

      Reidy wrote a scathing article about me and others who dared to question the right of people to object to an Irish Famine sitcom. The idea for the sitcom was recently made public.

      Padraig waxed eloquently and with lots of anger against people who would dream of censoring such a remarkable project as a sitcom about Ireland’s Holocaust that Britain’s Channel 4 is considering.

      He continued his rant in the Irish Examiner newspaper during the week, slamming those who dared to think that the Famine was not a fit subject for humor.

      I decided to write a response to the Index on Censorship, given that he had certain facts wrong about my contribution, especially the one that I had called for the show to be banned.Help! I’m censored on Famine sitcom by anti-censorship mag

    • Turkey Is Blackmailing Twitter Into Censorship (Again)

      Twitter and Turkey have a bit of a love-hate-hate-hate-hate relationship, insofar as Twitter users love to publish unflattering facts about the government, and the government hates that and tries to get Twitter to censor messages. In this particular case, the government is threatening to outright block Twitter unless it takes down “offending” messages.

    • We must never censor ourselves for fear of offending the faithful

      On his way to the Philippines this week, the Pope was asked to pronounce on the question that has been on everyone’s minds: What limits should we draw around freedom of expression? The Pope answered, quite sweetly, that he would punch in the nose anyone who swore at his late mother. Then, more troublingly, he said, “One cannot provoke, one cannot insult other people’s faith, one cannot make fun of faith. … There is a limit.”

    • Censorship brings down democracy

      Regarding Leon Pitt’s letter (“The Interview,” Jan. 6 Review-Journal), it seems he would like some form of censorship for movies and how the media portray certain aspects of a war we did not ask for. The fact that he is able to express his opinion in a daily publication shouldn’t be lost on him.

      “Saturday Night Live” isn’t a movie, but every weekend since 1975, it has lampooned every sitting president, former presidents and many other elected officials. Although the show never did an assassination skit, the political skits aired on “SNL” would not be seen in North Korea — or many other countries, for that matter — because of the basic lack of freedom.

    • David Cameron: There is a right to cause offense

      British Prime Minister David Cameron said that “in a free society, there is a right to cause offense about someone’s religion,” taking issue with Pope Francis’ assertion that there are “limits” to free speech.

    • Mark Zuckerberg defends Facebook censorship despite Charlie Hebdo support

      Says his condemnation of Paris attack was to support freedom of expression but sees ‘tricky calculus’ in countries where that’s restricted

    • Facebook’s hypocrisy, between the Charlie Hebdo massacre and China’s censorship
    • China’s censorship of period drama cleavage provokes outrage

      China’s most popular television drama has been re-edited to get rid of the plunging necklines featured in the show.

    • There Should Be No Censorship for Anyone Above 16 Years of Age, Says Shekhar Kapur

      Filmmaker Shekhar Kapur said there should be no censorship for anyone above the age of 16. The director, who was in Delhi for a panel discussion with FICCI Ladies Organisation, said if a person can vote, he can censor a film too.

    • Sky News showcases Charlie Hebdo self-censorship in real time

      On Sky News, former Charlie Hebdo journalist Caroline Fourest was trying to explain how “crazy” it is that certain journalism mills in the United Kingdom won’t show the cover of the latest edition of the magazine. Well, Sky News provided a stronger explanation than Fourest ever could have. Watch some memorable seat-of-the-pants censorship, live.

    • The French are honoring the satirists of Charlie Hebdo by prosecuting satirists

      In the wake of the recent terrorist attacks in Paris, the principal message has been, quite rightly, to defend free expression and to condemn those who would use violence to respond to messages they dislike. Yet at the same time, the French Ministry of Justice has ordered prosecutors to enforce with “utmost vigor” a law that itself imposes violence, albeit of the state-sanctioned variety, on speech whose messages the French majority dislikes.

    • On Charlie Hebdo Pope Francis is using the wife-beater’s defence

      On the day another cartoonist victim was buried at Père Lachaise cemetery, the pope came as near as dammit to suggesting that Charlie Hebdo had it coming. “One cannot provoke; one cannot insult other people’s faith; one cannot make fun of faith,” he said.

      Oh yes, you can. You may not choose to. It may not be wise or polite or kind – but you can. And to show you can, without being gunned down, Charlie Hebdo has just gone on sale in the UK, in bolder outlets, proudly defiant with an image of Muhammad on the cover – though with a tear and a kindly thought: “All is forgiven.”

    • French Government Shows Stunning Hypocrisy on Free Speech

      Arrests for speech at a march in support of free speech? Mais oui!

    • ​Saudi Arabia flogs free speech, Nigeria’s corrupt legacy & CIA goes on trial

      Abby Martin discusses the flogging of a Saudi Arabian blogger for insulting Islam and the State Department’s non-reaction to the event, plus the hypocritical arrest of a French comedian for his controversial social media comments in the wake of a mass demonstration in Paris defending free speech.

  • Privacy

    • The Digital Arms Race: NSA Preps America for Future Battle

      The NSA’s mass surveillance is just the beginning. Documents from Edward Snowden show that the intelligence agency is arming America for future digital wars — a struggle for control of the Internet that is already well underway.

    • U.S. kept secret law enforcement database of Americans’ calls overseas until 2013

      The U.S. government amassed a secret law enforcement database of Americans’ outbound overseas telephone calls through administrative subpoenas issued to multiple phone companies for more than a decade, according to officials and a government affidavit made public Thursday.

    • Justice Department Kept Secret Phone Database
    • Court filing reveals secret database of phone records kept by Justice Department

      The database only stored metadata, which is the information regarding what phone number is calling where, when the call took place and the duration of the call. The content of the calls was not stored. The data was collected for the Drug Enforcement Administration to be able to monitor calls made by U.S. citizens connecting with people in countries “determined to have a demonstrated nexus to international drug trafficking and related criminal activities.”

    • The DEA secretly snooped on American phone records for 15 years

      Yet another secret U.S. government database containing the phone records of American citizens has been revealed this week.

      Disclosed in a new court filing, a database maintained by the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) is said to contain a record of calls made to and from foreign countries by Americans. Metadata from the calls are collected through the use of administrative subpoenas, which can be issued by the DEA without prior judicial oversight.

    • The New Imitation Game

      …fear that the spread of encryption globally would cause NSA to “go dark.”

    • Democracy in the digital era

      We live in remarkable, transformative times. We have the library of Alexandria at our fingertips; all the recorded knowledge of the world is being digitized and made available through the Internet Archive, a free, non-profit digital library offering universal access to books, music, knowledge, news and web pages.

    • The Criminalization of Cryptography

      Following the recent data breaches at Sony and the attacks at the Paris offices of Charlie Hebdo, certain politicians have wasted no time calling for increased government surveillance, broader anti-hacking statutes (with stiffer penalties), and, in the case of British Prime Minister David Cameron, a call to limit non-government use of encryption technologies. Oddly enough, a leaked cybersecurity report from the U.S. government pointed out just how important crypto is to everyday internet functionality.

    • Obama Sides with Cameron in Encryption Fight

      President Barack Obama said Friday that police and spies should not be locked out of encrypted smartphones and messaging apps, taking his first public stance in a simmering battle over private communications in the digital age.

    • United States intelligence Agency,NSA, laughing at the rest of the world in The New Snowden documents

      New Snowden documents show that the NSA and its allies are laughing at the rest of the world. National Security Agency and its allies are methodically preparing for future wars carried out over the internet.The new documents presented by Der Spiegel show that NSA surveillance programs are at the foundation of efforts to create sophisticated digita

    • New Snowden documents show that the NSA and its allies are laughing at the rest of the world

      A team of nine journalists including Jacob Appelbaum and Laura Poitras have just published another massive collection of classified records obtained by Edward Snowden. The trove of documents, published on Der Spiegel, show that the National Security Agency and its allies are methodically preparing for future wars carried out over the internet. Der Spiegel reports that the intelligence agencies are working towards the ability to infiltrate and disable computer networks — potentially giving them the ability to disrupt critical utilities and other infrastructure. And the NSA and GCHQ think they’re so far ahead of everyone else, they’re laughing about it.

    • The surveillance machine

      We meet a former FBI undercover agent, Edwards Snowden’s lawyer, and journalists including Andy Greenberg of Wired magazine and Amy Goodman of Democracy Now, who are publicizing his findings. Greenberg speaks of a cat-and-mouse game in which the “mice” are challenging the secrecy of the surveillance state. We also meet and hear from Snowden himself, as well as officials from inside the intelligence community.

    • Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf

      Incidentally, the NSA is only one of 16 US intelligence services, together employing perhaps some 200,000 spies.

    • Universal Surveillance

      When it comes to intelligence, everybody, be they democracies, dictatorships, or in between, wants it all.

    • Ex-NSA director: Support for insecure cryptography tool “regrettable”
    • The Fallout From the NSA’s Backdoors Mandate

      It’s difficult to establish an exact dollar amount, but “experts have estimated that losses to the U.S. cloud industry alone could reach (US)$180 billion over the next three years. Additionally, major U.S. tech companies like Cisco and IBM have lost nearly one-fifth of their business in emerging markets because of a loss of trust,” said Robyn Greene, policy counsel at New America’s Open Technology Institute.

    • NSA mathematician apologizes for agency’s support of flawed security tool

      ​A top NSA researcher has gone on the record to condemn the agency’s long-standing endorsement of a controversial cryptographic tool even after learning of its flaws – including a vulnerability that could be exploited by hackers and spies.

    • NSA admits ‘regret’ over backing dodgy cryptography standard

      The US National Security Agency (NSA) has offered some sort of apology for pushing insecure cryptography solutions to businesses, describing it as a “regrettable” move.

      Michael Wertheimer, former director of research at the NSA, made the admission about the agency’s support of the widely criticised Dual Elliptic Curve Deterministic Random Bit Generator (Dual EC DRBG) in a letter published by the American Mathematical Society (PDF).

    • Clegg: UK terror laws need update but snooper’s charter implies guilt on all

      DPM backs ex-MI5 chief’s statement that UK needs to ‘retain the ability to intrude on the privacy’ of terrorists but rejects blanket power to retain records of every website visited by general public

    • Indiana vs NSA: New Bill Would Ban “Material Support or Resources”

      With Congress not only failing to rein in National Security Agency (NSA) spying, but actually expanding its power in a recent funding bill, many privacy activists are looking to the states to take action to block warrantless surveillance programs. A bill filed this week in Indiana would not only support efforts to turn of NSA’s water in Utah, but have some practical effect in the Hoosier State should it pass.

    • NSA-Led Panel Says There’s No Alternative To NSA Data Collection

      Surprise! An academic advisory panel, chaired by director of national intelligence James Clapper — yup, the same guy who lied to Congress — has concluded that there’s no alternative to bulk data collection. Sorry, citizens.

    • Privacy advocates say NSA reform doesn’t require ‘technological magic’

      “The report doesn’t provide justification for continuing mass surveillance programs,” says Neema Singh Guliani, the American Civil Liberties Union’s legislative counsel.

    • NSA: SO SORRY we backed that borked crypto even after you spotted the backdoor

      The NSA’s former director of research Michael Wertheimer says it’s “regrettable” that his agency continued to support Dual EC DRBG even after it was widely known to be hopelessly flawed.

      Writing in Notices, a publication run by the American Mathematical Society, Wertheimer outlined the history of the Dual Elliptic Curve Deterministic Random Bit Generator (Dual EC DRBG), and said that an examination of the facts made it clear no malice was involved.

    • A French Patriot Act? How not to pass anti-terror laws

      Metadata collection also failed to prevent attacks such as the Fort Hood shooting of 2009 and the 2013 Boston Marathon attack, and has proved massively detrimental to public trust.

    • FBI Uses E-mail Communications Collected by NSA without Warrants
    • Report: The FBI Oversaw the NSA’s Email Surveillance

      The 231-page report, obtained by the New York Times, explains that “in 2008… the F.B.I. assumed the power to review email accounts the N.S.A. wanted to collect through the “Prism” system.” It also developed the protocols that were used to ensure that the email accounts that were targeted didn’t belong to U.S. citizens.

    • US drug squad cops: We snooped on innocent Americans’ phone calls too!

      Much like the secret NSA and FBI databases, the DEA got its information under subpoena from American telecommunications companies, irrespective of whether or not the target had committed any crime. The dialing and receiving number were stored, along with the data and time of the call, and who it was billed to.

    • DEA maintained secret database of Americans’ phone calls

      The Drug Enforcement Administration formerly maintained a secret database of Americans’ telephone calls to some foreign countries, the Justice Department revealed this week.

    • No, the NSA Isn’t Like the Stasi—And Comparing Them Is Treacherous

      Calling the Stasi “secret police” is misleading. The name is an abbreviation of STAatsSIcherheit, or State Security. Founded in 1950 as the East German Communist Party’s “sword and shield,” it never hid the fact that it was spying. By the late 1980s, more than 260,000 East Germans—1.6 percent of all adults in the country—worked for the organization, either as agents or as informants. (If the NSA employed as many analysts to spy on 320 million Americans, it would have 5 million people on the payroll.) It wanted you to constantly wonder which of your friends was an informant and, ideally, tempt or pressure you into the role of snitch too.

    • The D.C. Public Library can teach you how to avoid NSA spying

      Do you want a hands-on lesson on staying clear of NSA snooping? If you live in the Washington, D.C., area, you’re in for a treat. Later this month, you could be part of a seminar on how to keep your personal information private.

    • Want to hide from the NSA? Washington, DC public library can help

      Do you want to use the Internet without fear of the National Security Agency or other government operatives snooping on your business? The public library in our nation’s capital is here to help.

    • Why David Cameron’s crusade against encryption could backfire on business

      A secret US cybersecurity report warned that government and private computers were being left vulnerable to online attacks from Russia, China and criminal gangs because encryption technologies were not being implemented fast enough.

    • Charlie Hebdo shows why the NSA always wins

      As Sargent says, the Patriot Act is coming up for reauthorization this year (which may or may not be necessary to keep operating the dragnet). It would be relatively straightforward to design an NSA reform (or better yet, a top-to-bottom reorganization of the whole intelligence community) that preserves the ability to surveil genuine suspects while protecting innocent Americans’ constitutional rights. Indeed, there is a strong case that doing so would improve the quality of their work.

    • Will NSA bulk phone records program continue after June 1?
    • Contractors ‘raping’ government for profit, & do sanctions on Russia work?
    • UK Banking System Sitting Duck For Cyber Attacks

      Although today’s agreement between the US and the UK to step up intelligence-sharing to defend their financial services sectors against cyber-crime, it is ironic that it is the taxpayers of both countries who are – once again – forced to step in and save the bankers, who have left themselves wide open by outsourcing data to save money and make profits.

    • US, UK agree to closer collaboration on cyberwarfare

      The countries’ intelligence agencies will work together and conduct cyberwar games later this year to test the security of financial institutions.

    • UK And US To Stage Cyber War Games To Test Banks
    • UK startups join Cameron in Washington as he talks cyber warfare with Obama

      UK security startups like Darktrace and Surevine have been invited on the trip to discuss cyber terrorism and grow their businesses in the US.

    • Cambridge company advises Obama on cyber security
    • UK cyber security firm Darktrace to open US HQ early after Sony hack drives demand

      One of the UK’s fastest growing cyber security companies has pushed forward plans to open its US headquarters after seeing a surge in demand following the Sony cyber-attack.

    • NSA, GCHQ plan to step up cybersecurity cooperation efforts in 2015
    • GCHQ, NSA cyber war games will test bank security
    • NSA leaker to speak via video
    • NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden to speak at Hawaii conference

      NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden lived in Hawaii before leaking classified information about the government’s secret surveillance programs.

    • NSA Whistleblower Snowden to Speak at ACLU Hawaii Conference
    • Boehner Credits NSA Wiretap for Capturing Cincinnati ‘Jihadist’

      The FBI claimed the man, Christopher Cornell, plotted to bomb the Capitol building, and had cited “tipsters” who told them about Cornell’s Twitter posts, crediting their own informants for the arrest. They never mentioned the NSA.

    • “Shut it Down!” Fourth State to Consider Resource Ban to NSA, South Carolina

      A bill filed in South Carolina this week would not only support efforts to turn off NSA’s water in Utah, but would have practical effects on federal surveillance programs if passed.

      South Carolina Sen. Tom Davis (R-Beaufort) introduced the South Carolina Fourth Amendment Protection Act on Jan. 13. S.275 would ban “material support or resources” from the state to warrantless federal spy programs, making it the third state to introduce legislation similar to a bill up for consideration in Utah this year.

    • Missouri Action Alert: Help Nullify NSA, Support HB264
    • MN bill would ban NSA, local agencies from seizing electronic data without a warrant
    • Leaked NSA document shows how GCHQ trailed iPhone users

      Leaked documents from the U.S.-based National Security Agency (NSA) published in a German weekly have shown that data from the famously malware-resistant iPhone can be accessed even when the device itself has not been compromised.

      The documents detailing ways employed by the British GCHQ to track targets through their phones revealed that when an iPhone syncs with a compromised computer, any data on the phone can be pulled out, reported The Verge.

    • Court rules NSA doesn’t have to divulge what records it has

      The case served as an early test of the limits for researchers who had hoped to use the National Security Agency’s phone records collection program as a treasure trove for their efforts. But Judge James A. Boasberg, sitting in the federal district court in Washington, D.C., said the NSA is within its rights to refuse to say what kinds of records it has, and unless researchers can specifically prove the agency has them, the NSA doesn’t have to comply with Freedom of Information Act requests.

    • Terrorists made their emails look like spam to avoid detection

      The NSA was obviously aware of the trick, and Wertheimer says they are constantly changing their algorithms, which means it is likely that nowadays spam email is the domain of bad marketeers rather than jihadists.

    • Minnesota Legislation Would Send Question of Electronic Data Privacy to Voters
    • Minnesota Bill Would Ban NSA Activity Called The “Biggest Threat Since The Civil War”

      Introduced by Sen. Branden Petersen (R Dist. 35), SF33 stipulates that “a government entity may not obtain personal identifying information concerning an individual without a search warrant

    • Leaked Palantir Doc Reveals Uses, Specific Functions And Key Clients

      Since its founding in 2004, Palantir has managed to grow into a billion dollar company while being very surreptitious about what it does exactly. Conjecture abounds. The vague facts dredged up by reporters confirm that Palantir has created a data mining system used extensively by law enforcement agencies and security companies to connect the dots between known criminals.

    • Here’s What Really Goes On Inside Palantir, The Secretive Data Analysis Company Used By The NSA And FBI

      Leaked documents obtained by TechCrunch have shed new light on Palantir, a secretive data analysis company whose tools are used more than a dozen U.S. government agencies, including the NSA and FBI.

    • Leaked documents: Bernie Madoff convicted thanks to mysterious Palantir technology
    • ProtonMail Is Making ‘NSA-Proof’ Encrypted Email A Reality

      Privacy has never been so important, but in a digital age where personal information made public is easily retrievable, and even private data isn’t necessarily safe, what alternatives have been produced to respond to the growing demand for online solitude?

    • Obama Supports U.K. Request to Pressure Tech Giants on Security Cooperation

      During a joint press conference with Prime Minister David Cameron on Friday, President Obama agreed with his plan to pressure U.S. tech companies to cooperate with intelligence and law enforcement agencies in fight against terrorism.

    • ​NSA develops cyber weapons, ‘attacker mindset’ for domination in digital war – Snowden leaks

      Mass surveillance by the NSA was apparently just the beginning. The agency is now preparing for future wars in cyberspace, in which control over the internet and rival networks will be the key to victory, documents leaked by Edward Snowden reveal.

      The National Security Agency’s aim is to be able to use the web to paralyze the enemy’s computer networks and all infrastructures they control – including power and water supplies, factories, airports, and banking systems, Der Spiegel magazine wrote after viewing the secret files.

    • Patriot Act Idea Rises in France, and Is Ridiculed

      The arrests came quickly after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. There was the Muslim man suspected of making anti-American statements. The Middle Eastern grocer, whose shop, a tipster said, had more clerks than it needed. Soon hundreds of men, mostly Muslims, were in American jails on immigration charges, suspected of being involved in the attacks.

    • Justice Department Declassifies Additional Portions of Inspector General Reports on Using Patriot Act Section 215 for Business Records Collection

      In response to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit by The New York Times, the Justice Department has declassified additional portions of these two inspector general reports about the government’s use of Section 215 of the Patriot Act, which is the legal basis for the once-secret National Security Agency program that systematically collects records in bulk about Americans’ domestic and international phone calls.

    • A guide to state surveillance, the ‘snoopers’ charter’ and government hacking

      A major row between the political parties is brewing over demands by David Cameron and the intelligence services for even more surveillance powers in the wake of the terrorist atrocities in Paris last week.

      David Cameron has promised new legislation so that terrorists no longer have “safe spaces” to communicate.

    • David Cameron preying on our fears after Charlie Hebdo massacre with encryption ban calls

      Cameron is essentially calling on companies like WhatsApp and Apple to install backdoors in their systems to allow the UK authorities access them whenever they want.

      Not only is this a huge invasion of people’s privacy, it will also mean that such services will now be much more vulnerable to attack from everyone from cyber-criminals to hacktivists.

    • Cameron Seeks Obama’s Help in Crackdown on Online Encryption
    • Edward Snowden is an American hero

      The USA is called the land of the free, but there is no freedom in the analysis of a citizen’s conversation.

    • StingRay, Dirtbox Tracking Order Template Authorizes U.S. Marshals to Investigate Any Identified Cell Phone

      The document at issue is not an order issued by a judge, but an order template used by law enforcement in San Bernardino County (CA) to draft anticipated order applications seeking authority to operate cell site simulators. It is common practice for law enforcement to create order applications from templates prepared by state or federal prosecutors. These templates have wording such as “Detective Name” and “Crime Definition,” which are replaced with case-relevant information before filing the applications in court. Requiring law enforcement to use templates, rather than letting them write their own legal documents, allows prosecutors to use preset legal strategies while defending the legitimacy of the resulting orders in court.

    • Has terrorism already claimed its next victim in Britain: our right to privacy?

      Following last week’s tragic events in France, the world has spoken out in solidarity against religious extremism, and in support of the freedom of expression. But alongside this, another narrative has emerged. In the name of safety, British officials have begun arguing in favour of stronger powers for the security services to intercept personal data.

    • DEA kept secret record of Americans’ phone calls before NSA program

      The US Department of Justice has been maintaining a secret record of all phone calls in and out of United States even before the start of its National Surveillance Programs, according to a new report.

    • DEA kept records of US phone calls for nearly 15 years

      The NSA isn’t the only American government agency keeping track of phone call metadata… or rather, it wasn’t. A Department of Justice court filing has revealed that the Drug Enforcement Administration maintained records of every call made from the US to Iran and other nations for nearly 15 years, stopping only when the initiative was discontinued (prompted at least partly by leaks) in September 2013. The DEA didn’t get the content of those calls, but it also didn’t get court oversight — it used administrative subpoenas that only required the approval of federal agents. And unlike the NSA, this program was meant solely for domestic offenses like drug trafficking.

    • The question of traitor or hero is pointless

      When the rights of a people are violated, what do you do? Do you do nothing, or do something, even if that something is unpopular or illegal. Edward Snowden chose to do something, making information that needed to be known public. In doing so he opened the eyes of the American people to living in a “fishbowl of constant surveillance” (Turley). Though many believe the leaks to be dangerous, the release of data was reviewed and contained little that could damage national security. It also opened debate on the legality of unconstitutional spying. But the discussion quickly switched to Snowden’s personality, an irrelevant and distracting subject. Whatever his personal motives, the information Snowden divulged will have ramifications for years to come.

    • The Guardian view on mass surveillance: missing the target

      Kalashnikovs trained on free speech, police protection for Jewish schools and 10,000 troops out on “sensitive” streets in Britain’s nearest neighbour. The last few days in Paris stir searching questions about the nature of European society, the values it holds dear, and the right way to protect them. One might hope for answers reflecting fresh thinking, but the emerging response of SW1 is drearily familiar – mass surveillance on the assumption that “the gentleman from Whitehall knows best”.

      [...]

      The Paris gunmen had been on watchlists for years. Building up extra intelligence on all 66 million residents of France would not have helped; keeping an unflinching eye on the few thousands who provoke serious fears might have done. If the question were resources, the spies would deserve a fair hearing. But they seem more interested in the power to add hay to the stack, a perverse way to hunt the needle. For all the claims made for untargeted sifting, the sole “plot” that the US authorities can hold up as having been disrupted by it is a taxi driver’s payment of a few thousand dollars to al-Shabbab. Terrorists, from 9/11 to the Woolwich jihadists and the neo-Nazi Anders Breivik have almost always come to the authorities’ attention before murdering. Society can’t afford too many scruples about the privacy of those who provoke such suspicions.

    • UK PM wants to ban unbreakable encryption! OK but only if …

      Presumably for anyone to use encryption in Cameron’s world would require escrowing decryption keys so the government could examine any and all communications as they pleased.

      [...]

      If Western governments want that kind of control over their citizens then it has to be symmetrical which would mean that all government activities other than those that could be proved to be truly in the national interest (for example, how to make nuclear bombs) should become, in turn, completely transparent. That means every government committee meeting, every government memo, every government phone call, every donation to any politician, every political deal, all of it … completely and immediately transparent with severe consequences for any kind of evasion or failure to do so. No more backroom deals, no more horse trading, no more obfuscation. And along with that all surveillance by a government would have to be justified and authorized and documented.

    • Ecstatic NSA spooks delight in spying on spies who are spying on spies

      A trenche of fresh Snowden leaks published in Der Spiegel by Laura Poitras, Jacob Appelbaum and others detail the NSA’s infiltration of other countries’ intelligence services, detailing the bizarre, fractal practices of “fourth-party collection” and “fifth-party collection.”

  • Civil Rights

    • On press freedom, Eric Holder makes the right call

      On Wednesday, Mr. Holder announced revisions in Justice Department guidelines for issuing subpoenas and search warrants to journalists or for their newsgathering materials. The revisions are being made to an earlier update of the guidelines, an effort that followed the uproar over leak investigations involving the Associated Press and Fox News. The new revisions reflect nearly a year’s discussions between the Justice Department and a coalition of news organizations and journalists, including the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, the Newspaper Association of America, the Associated Press and this newspaper, among others.

    • CIA manager testifies more than 90 knew about covert mission

      A CIA manager testified under cross-examination in a trial near Washington that more than 90 people knew about a covert Iranian mission that was leaked to the media.

    • Caning of Saudi Blogger Is Delayed Amid Protests

      A lawyer in Saudi Arabia who founded a human rights group was sentenced to 15 years in prison. His wife, a women’s advocate who won a courage award from the State Department, says she is barred from leaving the country. Her brother, a writer who ran a liberal online forum, is also in jail and was sentenced to be caned regularly in a public square over the next few months.

      International condemnation of the writer’s sentence, which also included a prison term and a heavy fine, has mounted since a video of him receiving his first round of blows appeared on YouTube, and the State Department and the United Nations have called for the caning to stop.

      The Saudi authorities did not administer the second round of blows as scheduled on Friday. But the case of the writer, Raif Badawi, has nonetheless drawn new attention to the Saudi government’s harsh treatment of dissidents for acts that are considered anything but criminal in the West.

    • Woman Is Publicly Beheaded in Saudi Arabia’s Tenth Execution of 2015

      Gruesome footage circulating on social media shows Saudi authorities publicly beheading a woman in the holy city of Mecca earlier this week. The execution is the tenth to be carried out in country in the last two weeks; setting 2015 up to be even more bloody than last year, when 87 people were punitively killed by the state.

      Rare video of Monday’s killing shows the woman, a Burmese resident named as Lalia Bint Abdul Muttablib Basim, screaming while being dragged along the street. Four police officers then hold the woman down before a sword-wielding man slices her head off, using three blows to complete the act.

      In the chilling recording, Bashim, who was found guilty in a Saudi Sharia court of sexually abusing and murdering her seven-year-old step-daughter, is heard protesting her innocence until the very end. “I did not kill. I did not kill,” she screams repeatedly.

    • Al-Marri’s End and the Failed Experiment of Domestic Military Detention

      In the coming days, Ali al-Marri, former enemy combatant, is scheduled to be released from federal criminal custody, clearing the way for his removal by immigration officials to Qatar, and thus ending a legal odyssey that began more than 13 years ago with Mr. al-Marri’s arrest by the FBI in Peoria, Illinois. [Disclosure: I served as al-Marri’s lead counsel in his habeas corpus challenge to his military detention]. Al-Marri’s case raised issues central to the war on terrorism, including the distinction between combatants and civilians, the legitimacy of responding to terrorism through a military, as opposed to law enforcement, approach, and the geographic scope of the armed conflict itself. Above all, al-Marri’s legal challenge raised the important question—never definitively resolved—whether the president’s detention authority under the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) extended to individuals lawfully present in the United States. Below, I offer some lessons to be drawn from his case and suggest why it provides a cautionary tale against domestic military detention.

    • Israel lobbies foreign powers to cut ICC funding

      Israel is lobbying member-states of the International Criminal Court to cut funding for the tribunal in response to its launch of an inquiry into possible war crimes in the Palestinian territories, officials said on Sunday.

      ICC prosecutors said on Friday they would examine “in full independence and impartiality” crimes that may have occurred since June 13 last year. This allows the court to delve into the war between Israel and Hamas militants in Gaza in July-August 2014 that killed more than 2,100 Palestinians and 70 Israelis.

    • Former NSA Condoleezza Rice testifies at CIA leak trial

      Sterling denies leaking any information to Risen. Defense lawyers say the leak could have come from anywhere and that Sterling has faced unfair suspicion because he sued the CIA for racial discrimination.

    • Feds Paint Dark Image of Suspected CIA Leaker
    • Saudi blogger’s wife says global pressure could force his release

      The wife of imprisoned blogger Raif Badawi has called on the international community to pressure the Saudi Arabian authorities to release her husband, after his public flogging was postponed this weekend.

    • The New CISPA Bill Is Literally Exactly The Same As The Last One

      The definition of insanity is trying the same thing over and over expecting different results. That’s a cliche, but politicians often follow the hoariest routes to power, and attempting to enact change by doing the same thing repeatedly is one of them.

    • The police rely on fear and lobbying to defeat reforms. Protestors can’t let them do so again

      For the first time in a long time, American police departments are on the defensive. They’re on the defense in New York, where, after the NYPD’s open insurrection against the mayor, 69% of New York “voters, black, white and Hispanic” disapprove “of police officers turning their backs on Mayor Bill de Blasio at funerals for two police officers” according to a Quinnipiac poll – and now, even some cops have started openly airing their disgust with their own union leadership. They’re on the defense in Washington, where they’re “on the hot seat” at President Obama’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing. And they continue to be on the defense in municipalities across the country, as every new police shooting sparks intense national scrutiny on social and in traditional media.

    • Obama: Europe must better integrate Muslims

      “Our biggest advantage, major, is that our Muslim populations – they feel themselves to be Americans,” Obama told a joint press conference with British Prime Minister David Cameron.

    • The Paris March of hypocrisy

      Indeed, there are so many legitimate reasons questioning the moral credibility of the huge march.

    • British complicity in US drone war could be ‘one step from illegal act’, warns MP David Davis

      Senior Conservative MP David Davis has issued a stark warning about Britain’s possible role in the US’s secret drone war against militants in Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen.

      The former Shadow Home Secretary told the Bureau that any British complicity in the US drone campaign is “in the same moral space, as far as I’m concerned, as collusion in torture”.

    • Nobel Laureate Mairead Maguire with Love Peace and Nonviolence

      It is particularly appropriate that we are gathered here around International Human Rights Day and our theme is Peace and Living It. I believe that Peace is a Human Right for everyone, and its presence is necessary in order to protect and sustain all the other rights enshrined in the U.N. Universal Declaration of Human Rights. I am sure we can agree that although we have a Universal Declaration, we have a long way to go to ensure that our Governments implement and uphold all these rights. In spite of this I am full of hope because I believe that we, the human family, are at a turning point in history.

    • EXCLUSIVE: Screenwriter mysteriously killed in 1997 after finishing script that revealed the ‘real reason’ for US invasion of Panama had been working for the CIA… and both his hands were missing

      When the skeletal remains of Hollywood screenwriter Gary Devore were found strapped into his Ford Explorer submerged beneath the California Aqueduct in 1998 it brought an end to one of America’s most high profile missing person cases.

    • Scottish police demand uncensored version of CIA torture report

      The police are poised to tell US authorities they want to see the uncensored version of a CIA torture report as part of their investigation into extraordinary rendition flights.

      Lord Advocate Frank Mulholland, Scotland’s top prosecutor, has confirmed that the force has been “instructed to request and consider the unredacted version” of the US Senate study.

      SNP MSP Kevin Stewart urged the US authorities to co-operate fully with Police Scotland and “hand over an unadulterated copy”.

    • CIA exonerates CIA of all wrongdoing in Senate hacking probe
    • CIA board clears staff of snooping Senate computers
    • CIA investigates CIA, says CIA did nothing wrong
    • Behind whitewash of CIA spying: The trail leads to the White House
    • White House Knew CIA Snooped On Senate, Report Says
    • CIA finds no wrongdoing in agency’s search of computers used by Senate investigators
    • The CIA Will Not Discipline Anyone For Spying On Senate Torture Probe
    • The US has no excuse not to prosecute CIA torturers
    • Revealed: Only 29 detainees from secret CIA torture program remain in Guantánamo Bay
    • A list of the 28 detainees held by CIA’s detention program in 2006 – its ‘final’ year
    • CIA torture programme cast a wide net

      Less than a quarter of the 119 detainees named in the US Senate’s summary report into the CIA’s secret torture programme remain in the military prison for the most ‘hardline’ terror suspects—Guantánamo Bay—the Bureau of Investigative Journalism has established.

    • The Revenge of the CIA

      Hearing the testimony from CIA operatives, it’s clear that the agency is extremely eager to make an example of Sterling. Despite all the legalisms, the overarching reality is that the case against Sterling is scarcely legal — it is cravenly political.

    • CIA-Friendly Jury Seen in Sterling Trial

      When the trial of former CIA officer Jeffrey Sterling got underway Tuesday in Northern Virginia, prospective jurors made routine references to “three-letter agencies” and alphabet-soup categories of security clearances. In an area where vast partnerships between intelligence agencies and private contractors saturate everyday life, the jury pool was bound to please the prosecution.

      In a U.S. District Court that boasts a “rocket docket,” the selection of 14 jurors was swift, with the process lasting under three hours. Along the way, Judge Leonie M. Brinkema asked more than a dozen possible jurors whether their personal connections to the CIA or other intel agencies would interfere with her announced quest for an “absolutely open mind.”

    • Times Reporter Prevails in Three-Year Fight Over CIA Leak

      New York Times reporter James Risen prevailed over the U.S. government in its three-year effort to force him to testify at trial about a confidential source as part of a CIA leak prosecution.

      The request by prosecutors that Risen be dropped as a witness capped a longer battle to avoid revealing his sources. The fight reached the U.S. Supreme Court, focusing attention on the Obama administration’s aggressive pursuit of leaks. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder reacted to the controversy by issuing guidelines last year restricting the use of subpoenas and search warrants for journalists.

    • US reporter will not have to testify in CIA leak case
    • The New York Times’ James Risen Won’t Go To Jail For Reporting This Spectacular CIA Screwup

      For the past seven years, New York Times journalist James Risen has been embroiled in a legal battle with two presidential administrations over his refusal to reveal an inside government source.

    • Guantanamo Bay staff sergeant claims three men believed to have committed suicide were actually tortured to death
    • Guantanamo guard claims CIA killed detainees, made it look like suicide
    • Ex-Army Sergeant Claims CIA Killed Gitmo Detainees, Called It Triple Suicide (Video)
    • How US Prison Officials Rubber-Stamped a CIA Torture Chamber
    • New Evidence Shows CIA Held Prisoners In Lithuania
    • CIA Held Detainees at Lithuania Black Site, Investigators Claim

      The CIA held prisoners in a secret Lithuanian prison despite official denials, a detailed investigation by human rights investigators claims to show.

    • The CIA’s Willingness To Lie About Our Torture Regime: The Architecture Of Unbelief

      In the most recent New York Review Of Books, there’s an excellent interview about the now-largely-forgotten report from the Senate about how the United States government’s regime of torture was developed, and about how it was operated, with Mark Danner. Along with Marcy Wheeler, Jane Mayer, Charlie Savage and very few other reporters, Danner was one of the people who thought that this country’s decision to torture people — in contravention of treaties, American law, and over 200 years of military custom — was worthy of extended acts of journalism. In one of the more striking passages in the interview, Danner explains how a complicated infrastructure of mendacity was constructed and how it became equally as vital to the torture program as were the waterboard and the rectal feeding tube. Not only did the CIA arrange this infrastructure in order to lie to the American people about what was done in their name, but also the CIA built this infrastructure to provide an institutional basis for the American government to lie to itself.

    • Local artist protests CIA torture, arrested in D.C.

      For the last three years, Bozeman artist Deb Vanpoolen has taken part in an annual fasting and protest against torture and perceived American imperialism in Washington, D.C. This was the first year she got arrested for it.

    • Letter: Shut down the CIA

      You just renewed your oath to support the Constitution. Please make sure that things get done which are constitutional.

    • Iranian Global Centre To Support Human Rights Exposes U.S. CIA Torture

      Human rights campaigners criticise American media hypocrisy

    • Is Torture As Ineffective As It Is Abhorrent?

      As with the two protestors arrested on a “Torturers Tour” outside Dick Chaney’s residence on January 10th, we must place our hopes that Hoffman won’t be easily silenced, and he will be equally ruthless and fearless should the accusations against the APA hold true, whether the torture techniques were effective or not.

  • Internet/Net Neutrality

  • DRM

    • Movie DRM fails again as Oscar DVD screeners appear on torrent sites

      Remember when the entertainment industry was thrilled about its temporary defeat of the Pirate Bay? Well, the victory – such as it was – hasn’t stopped the pirates from removing the DRM that was supposed to protect this year’s Oscar movie screeners. Yep, the pirates simply stripped the watermarking and uploaded the files anyway to many other torrent sites.

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