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03.15.15

Links 15/3/2015: Linux Lite 2.4, OpenELEC 5.0.6

Posted in News Roundup at 10:29 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • Build your own Siri: An open-source digital assistant
  • Build Your Own Open-Source Digital Assistant
  • Researchers just built a free, open-source version of Siri

    Major tech companies like Apple and Microsoft have been able to provide millions of people with personal digital assistants on mobile devices, allowing people to do things like set alarms or get answers to questions simply by speaking. Now, other companies can implement their own versions, using new open-source software called Sirius — an allusion, of course, to Apple’s Siri.

  • Open Source: A Cross-Industry Hero

    Open source code is no longer exclusively used by eager web developers in the tech industry. In fact, global industries that serve the healthcare, education, and government markets are now experiencing the benefits of open source code as well. Once they become familiar with the specifics of open source software license management, non-technology businesses are easily able to improve industry specific practices in new, innovative ways.

  • HP Takes Reseller Role for New Line of Open Source Networking Equipment

    In a move that starkly reflects not only the changing market landscape for networking equipment but also HP’s willingness to adapt to new realities, the vendor will collaborate with Taiwan-based Accton Technology to develop and manufacture open networking switches and Cumulus Networks will provide the Linux-based networking operating system to drive the hardware.

  • Storify Founders Leave For Open Source, Baby

    They’re passing the reins to several original Storify members, who will keep the service running. Herman’s plan is to focus on raising his newborn son, while Damman will build out his open-source whisteblowing tool Tipbox.

  • OPNFV Summit to Showcase Open Source Networking Functions Virtualization

    OPNFV, the open source collaboration for Network Functions Virtualization (NFV), is extending its reach with the launch of a new conference, the OPNFV Summit, which project leaders hope will bring together networking companies, service providers and open source developers.

  • OPNFV schedules first event in push to foster an open source NFV platform

    The network virtualization revolution is set to gain a new event as the Open Platform Network Function Virtualization Project announced plans to host its first OPNFV Summit Nov. 11-12.

  • Renault-Nissan goes open source with GENIVI for infotainment

    Automotive industry group, the GENIVI Alliance, announced that Renault and Nissan will launch a new joint program to deliver a In-vehicle Infotainment IVI system based on software GENIVI software for low-to-mid and high-class Renault and Nissan vehicles globally and will be supplied by Robert Bosch GmbH.

  • Midokura Pushes Open Source SDN Forward

    Midokura is out this week with its Midokura Enterprise MidoNet (MEM) 1.8 SDN release, which is based on the open-source MidoNet 2015.01 milestone.

  • Bringing Telcos Into Open Source Culture

    I recently attended the Linux Foundation Collaboration Summit. There was a kick-off panel on the opening day and then a couple of days of working group style presentations around OPNFV. The work comes under the sponsorship of the Linux Foundation and hopes to establish a carrier-grade, integrated, open source reference platform that industry peers will build together to advance the evolution of Network Function Virtualization. (You can also read the ETSI definition of NFV). There’s a really good description of the intended work and architecture on the OPNFV site.

  • Engineers Bring A New Open-Source Siri To Life
  • Huawei looks to open source to build SDN ecosystem

    Collaboration with ONOS and ONF is aimed at accelerating the commercialisation of the SDN ecosystem.

  • An Open Source Drone Camera You Can Modify With Apps

    The company, called Percepto, is currently raising funds on Indiegogo. Percepto will offer a camera that can be mounted to your existing drone. You can then download apps to your mobile phone that can interact with the camera in different ways.

  • Why open source works

    Trying to explain why open source works, you can of course point to the Cathedral and the Bazaar by Erik. But the kernel development process shows it happening ‘in real time’, every day, and that’s a major reason why I so enjoy reading the weekly LWN.

  • Create a Self-Destructing Website With This Open Source Code

    Former head of product at Flickr and Bitly, Matt Rothenberg recently caused an internet hubbub with his Unindexed project. The communal website continuously searched for itself on Google for 22 days, at which point, upon finding itself, spontaneously combusted.

  • 1010data Intros Integration with Open Source R

    Company says its R1010 package gives data scientists a collection of statistical functions and a massively parallel Big Data discovery platform.

  • Pinterest Shoots ‘Pinball’ Into Open Source

    Pinterest announced yesterday that it’s making the workflow management software it developed to manage big data pipelines, called Pinball, available as open source. Now anybody can use the same technology that Pinterest uses to manage the flow of work on Hadoop and other cluster resources.

  • 4 reasons CIOs should give open source a second look

    Seeking out open source solutions is second nature for Red Hat IT. It’s in our DNA, and it’s what we believe in. And while our passion for open source is shared with many IT leaders, I still encounter CIOs who cite concerns about security, intellectual property, talent, and existing vendor relationships as reasons they aren’t comfortable with open source solutions. Here’s what I say when I hear IT leaders identify these as barriers:

  • Jenkins CI Open Source Project Passes 100,000 Active Users Worldwide

    The Jenkins CI community, which is made up of practitioners using open source Jenkins, has announced the Jenkins CI open source project has passed the 100,000 active user mark worldwide becoming one of the largest install bases of any open source continuous integration and continuous delivery platform.

  • Visio.M Automotive Service Bus goes open source

    Up to 80 different systems putter around in many cars. The complexity has come to a limit. Within the “Visio.M” research project, funded by the German Federal Ministry for Education and Research with a total of 7.1 million euro, scientists at the Technische Universität München have developed a two-tier IT system that reduces this complexity drastically. Now the researchers put their ‘Automotive Service Bus’ under an open-source license.

  • Events

    • Keen on meeting up with us in Copenhagen?

      The Varnish Software series 2015 is off to a great start and next stop is wonderful Copenhagen. To respond to last year’s popularity of the series in Scandinavia we decided Copenhagen would be one of the first cities we’d visit.

    • Open Source Promotion Event at Toc H

      The main events include an Opensource Olympiad (coding contest + open source quiz), Hardware Project competition and App Idea contest. Three workshops on – Mozilla Webmaker, Python and How to be a Maker (Arduino/Raspberry Pi based Development) will also be organised.

    • Kernel Developers Summarize Linux Storage Filesystem and Memory Management Summit

      A group of three Linux kernel developers kicked off the Linux Foundation Vault storage conference on Wednesday morning by hashing out proposed changes to the kernel and the stack from the Linux Storage Filesystem and Memory Management Summit (FS&MM), which took place earlier in the week.

  • Web Browsers

  • SaaS/Big Data

    • What eBay’s latest open-source project means for Hadoop

      The last few months have seen eBay Inc. move from the sidelines of the open-source analytics ecosystem into the heart of the action with the introduction of two projects that push the envelope on large-scale data science. The pivot mirrors a broader shift in the ecosystem that the most recent of the additions accelerates.

    • Mirantis & Google on Kubernetes & OpenStack

      Mirantis is a firm that calls itself a “pure-play” OpenStack company.

    • ownCloud Offers Support Subscriptions for its Open Source Community Edition

      With the rise of cloud computing, ownCloud has been getting a lot of attention for its flexibility, and because interest in private clouds is on the rise. There is a huge community of contributors surrounding the open source version of ownCloud, and ownCloud Inc. continues to serve enterprise users.

    • HP Refreshes Helion with Eucalyptus and an OpenStack Update

      It was all the way back in 2008 when OStatic broke the story about a cloud computing project at U.C. Santa Barbara called Eucalyptus, and recently we visited with Rich Wolski, the original UCSB Professor behind the cloud platform, for an interview. Fast-forward to today, and Eucalyptus Systems is under the wing of mighty Hewlett-Packard.

    • Getting started with big data doesn’t have to be expensive

      Analytics and big data are top strategic priorities for many CIOs, and rightfully so. Most organizations are sitting on a goldmine of data, but they have not begun to mine it to uncover the real transformative value. Unfortunately, many IT leaders remain on the sidelines because they think investing in analytics would be too costly.

    • Elasticsearch Changes Its Name, Enjoys An Amazing Open Source Ride And Hopes To Avoid Mistakes

      Elasticsearch is an open source search and analytics engine created by Shay Banon back in 2010. The solution uses a common interface and can be used to provide scalable search and is itself based on the Apache Lucene project which is a free open source information retrieval software library. Since starting the open source initiative, Banon’s Elasticsearch company has gone on to raise almost $105 million. Perhaps more importantly than the money they’ve raised however is the traction the project has seen – Elasticsearch sees some 700,000-800,000 downloads per months and has been downloaded 20 million times since the inception of the project.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

  • Education

    • Purdue expands use of open-source software, cuts costs

      Purdue, in its perpetual quest to cut corners and save money, is working to expand its use of open-source software, potentially saving students upward of $1 million.

      The software, developed by Michigan State University in 1992, is called the Learning Online Network with Computer-Assisted Personalized Approach, or more commonly known, LON-CAPA.

  • Healthcare

  • Business

    • Q&A: raw engineering on how open source ‘changed the world’

      Kurt: The concept of open source software has changed the world. Our platform wouldn’t exist in its current form without open source software. Every day, different components of our products run on Nginx, Node.js, Docker, MongoDB and many other open source technologies. Open source is very important to what we do.

  • Funding

    • Google Shrinks List of GSoC Open Source Organizations

      The list of mentoring organisations for Google Summer of Code 2015 has some surprising omissions. The Linux Foundation and Mozilla are among those missing from the list of just 137 open source organisations.

    • Open-Source Database Firm MariaDB Raises $3.4M from Russia’s Runa Capital

      Open-source database company MariaDB, has raised $3.4 million from Russia’s Runa Capital. In October 2013, the firm had secured $20 million in Series B round. Till date, including this round, the company has received a total capital of $31.9 million.

    • An Open Source Investment Realizes Sizable Results

      An open source project is getting significant investment from a major American corporation.

      Believe it or not Walmart, the mega retailer, has spent more than $2 million on the Hapi project, which is a “rich framework for building applications and services” that “enables developers to focus on writing reusable application logic instead of spending time building infrastructure” according to its website.

  • BSD

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

  • Public Services/Government

    • Open Source: More eyes, fewer vulnerabilities, greater security

      Future posts will dive deep into open source and its relationship to autonomous devices, but first, let’s take a few paragraphs to level-set why open source might be an ideal option. First, full disclosure: I’m an advocate of open source software, so I’ve seen proof that a community of shared ideas and projects that can be modified, improved, and distributed freely can be a better way to develop technology. Being able to see the code, learn from it, ask questions, and offer improvements is the open source way.

      While it might seem counterintuitive, open does not mean less secure. In fact, the opposite is often true. Because the development process is collaborative, bugs, flaws, and vulnerabilities can be found sooner, and more often, and fixed more quickly. By granting access to the code, more people can work to solve issues. It’s been said about open source that “given enough eyeballs, all bugs are shallow.” More eyes and greater transparency can lead to fewer vulnerabilities and greater security.

      As with any system, it’s important to only use well-maintained projects and to patch regularly to safe-guard against vulnerabilities. We’re all aware that hazards may linger in even the best of code. The fact is, in any system, open or closed, vulnerabilities exist and may actually be exploited by those with knowledge of their existence. It just seems logical that, with open source transparency, it’s likely to be more difficult to exploit something while everyone is watching.

  • Licensing

    • Open Source Licensing and Community Intent

      Christoph Hellwig, supported by Software Freedom Conservancy (Conservancy), has initiated a lawsuit in Germany against VMware for alleged violations of the terms of the GNU General Public License (GPL) version 2, an OSI approved license. If you aren’t following the case yet, it’s worth starting with the statements published by Conservancy, the Free Software Foundation, and VMware.

  • Openness/Sharing

    • After Open Source, Open Access, Open Data And The Rest, Here Comes The Open Jihad
    • The Open Jihad
    • The Open-Source Spies of World War II – War is Boring

      The open-source intelligence analysts of World War II had a huge advantage unavailable to their predecessors in previous wars thanks to the changing media landscape of the 1930s and ’40s.

    • Open source Mini-Farm Grow Box allows gardeners to grow greens in the home

      Food Rising has created a couple of videos to walk makers through the home build process and the print files needed to produce the necessary 3D-printable parts using a t-glase filament-compatible printer are freely available for download at Food Rising’s website, though pre-build systems are also being offered for sale. The non-profit is also raising funds to donate systems to 250 schools across the United States.

    • Open-source scientific research comes to Brazil

      Open-access research into drug discovery has arrived in South America, with a ground-breaking collaboration between leading scientists in North America, Europe and Brazil to provide completely free and open research results to the world.

    • Open-source health apps

      In the past, this has been expensive to do. Anyone wishing to create apps for the task would have had to hire a costly team of coders. But that has now changed. This week Apple—in an announcement a little more sotto voce than that of its watch—introduced the world to a suite of software called the ResearchKit, which will make it possible to create scientific apps that work with its mobile devices more easily and cheaply. The ResearchKit is “open source”, meaning anyone who wants to will be able to use it to design data-collecting apps that take advantage of the features of those devices. Because it is open source, people will be able to customise and share code, which will encourage innovation.

    • Should Open Source Intelligence Be Used For Policy Making?

      Last summer, we wrote about the rise of open journalism, whereby people take publicly-available information, typically on social networks, to extract important details that other, more official sources either overlook or try to hide. Since then, one of the pioneers of that approach, Eliot Higgins, has used crowdfunding to set up a site called “Bellingcat”, dedicated to applying these techniques. Principal themes there include the shooting down of Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 (MH17), and the civil war in Syria.

    • Open Source Control Tower for Drones, by 3D Robotics
    • Opening firmware source code (vhdl)

      Hope this will help for enthusiasts and developers to deeply understand hardware part of DVB card.

    • Open Source Drug Discovery and Universal Medicine

      How often have you taken a prescription drug during the last year to treat an illness? Did you pause to ponder what you would do if you had not had access to the drug? Or did you perhaps consider how long it took the drug to be developed, and how long it will be possible to use it for? In the case of antibiotics, there is a real fear that many well-known drugs will cease to be effective against bacterial infections as the bacteria adapt ‘around’ the drug. What about if you are in a developing country, in a remote area, or on the way to Mars — how would you get that new drug? Also, what about the promise of personal medicine? Soon we are going to know more and more about our individual medical needs, driven by personal data arising from personal genomics as well as the promise of cheap sensors that record our motion, behavior, vital signs, bio-chemical markers and so on.

    • Open-Source Robotic Arm Now Within Reach

      For anyone looking for a capable robotic arm for automation of an industrial process, education, or just a giant helping hand for a really big soldering project, most options available can easily break the bank. [Mads Hobye] and the rest of the folks at FabLab RUC have tackled this problem, and have come up with a very capable, inexpensive, and open-source industrial arm robot that can easily be made by anyone.

    • 3 ways to increase transparency in your IT group

      If you’re looking to increase openness and transparency in your IT organization, chart a deliberate course. That’s particularly important if you join a company where IT is a four-letter word and hasn’t been set up to deliver. I knew I had my work cut out for me when I arrived at the American Cancer Society and our president said to me, “Half your job is going to be rehabbing the image of IT, and the other 100 percent is going to be delivering a world-class IT organization.”

    • Internet of Anything: An Open-Source Smart Home You Control

      Smart homes could make our lives easier. But they could also end up being a real pain. Devices from competing companies might not want to talk to each other. Your gadgets might collect personal data and sell it to advertisers without you knowing about it it. The company you bought your hardware or software could close down, rending the product you shelled out big bucks for practically useless. Your whole house could become a botnet.

    • Open Data

      • Open Data Platform Looms Large on the Hadoop Scene

        While it’s not on everybody’s radar just yet, the Open Data Platform, recently announced by Pivotal, is shaping up to be, well, pivotal in the Hadoop and Big Data market. Meanwhile, here have been a lot of rumblings about how Pivotal itself is radically shifting its Hadoop strategy.

    • Open Access/Content

      • Rutgers-Camden students pushing for free, open source textbooks

        Rutgers-Camden senior Moira Cahill tapes a note to a poster board, recording the amount one of her fellow students spent on textbooks this semester. Cahill is a member of the campus chapter of NJPIRG, which was advocating an open source alternative for textbooks in the school’s student center, Tuesday, Feb. 24, 2015. (Staff photo by Jason Laday | South Jersey Times)

      • MassPIRG report urges expanded use of open-source textbooks

        Four years into a campus initiative aimed at reducing textbook costs by making course material available for free online, University of Massachusetts students and staff are pushing for more faculty to use this option.

      • UMass students, librarians want more faculty to use open source textbooks to save students money

        About 65 percent of college students don’t buy textbooks because of cost, said Matt Magalhaes, the affordable textbook campaign coordinator for MassPirg at the University of Massachusetts.

        Textbooks can cost students $1,200 a year.

      • Code for India launches free, open source educational portal

        Yes, we can Google every question, search every bit of information by the click of a button. But if you are looking for a structured learning experience from experts and certified instructors, for instance, to learning the basics of engineering or simply a complete awareness course on Ebola, you now have a one-stop destination.

    • Open Hardware

      • Why use open hardware in the classroom?

        Over the past few years we’ve seen an explosion of “open” models, which emerged as a result of several different factors. The general motivation behind this movement includes the ability for the free sharing of resources and tools in an effort to promote economic efficiency by improving access to a much wider group of stakeholders.

      • HP Does Open Hardware with New Cloudline Servers

        It was only summer of last year when HP began making a lot of noise about its commitment to cloud computing overall, and the OpenStack platform in particular. Now, the company is moving its cloud strategy into high gear. It announced the HP Helion brand in 2014, and pledged to commit $1 billion over the next two years on products and services surrounding OpenStack, under Helion’s branded umbrella.

      • The Project Ara of Tablets Has Arrived, It’s Called the Click ARM One

        You probably heard of Google’s Project Ara endeavor, which aims to allow users to build modular smartphones, based on their own preferences and needs.

      • PiBook — A Wirelessly Powered/Charged Open Source 3D Printed Computer – Powered by Raspberry Pi 2

        Recently, we did a story on an engineer who had 3D printed a wirelessly powered Tesla desk lamp. Created by David Choi, it was able to be powered without any wires connecting it to the source. It was quite the clever creation, and Choi received a lot of positive feedback on his design.

  • Programming

Leftovers

  • How to turn your old phone into a basic PC for cheap

    Your old smartphone has a greater destiny than your junk drawer. Believe it or not, you can turn it into, say, a mini-PC or media streamer. Assuming it packs both USB On The Go support (OTG) and a Mobile High-Definition Link (MHL) compatible port, there’s a ton of additional functionality lurking under that its hood. Heck, you can even use a smartphone with a broken screen for this.

  • Open Letter to Mr. Cook (Apple Computers)

    As long as you stick to closed source software, DRM, restrictive licences and patent laws to maximise your profits, you heavily contribute to inequality and powerlessness around the globe.

  • Science

  • Security

    • OpenSSL Set For Major Security Audit

      A team of security consultants is set to undertake a major independent audit of OpenSSL as part of a multi-million dollar initiative by the Linux Foundation to improve the security and stability of core open source projects.

    • Critical remote code execution flaw patched in Samba
    • On Security in OpenDaylight

      It’s now been a bit more than two months since OpenDaylight dealt with the the “netdump” vulnerability reported in August. The good news then was that we fixed the vulnerability and we were able to fix it and ship a new release of ODL with the fix in four days once we knew about the vulnerability. I want to echo Dave Meyer’s comments in saying just how impressive that is and how well the OpenDaylight community comes together when something needs to be done. The list is much longer than this, but in particular, Robert Varga and David Jorm were absolutely critical in pushing things through quickly and efficiently.

    • Glitch in Dropbox SDK for Android Links Apps to Attacker’s Cloud Storage

      A vulnerability found in Dropbox SDK for Android can be exploited by an attacker to cause apps using the software development kit for Dropbox synchronization to upload the data to an unauthorized account.

  • Defence/Police/Secrecy/Aggression

    • C.I.A. Cash Ended Up in Coffers of Al Qaeda

      In the spring of 2010, Afghan officials struck a deal to free an Afghan diplomat held hostage by Al Qaeda. But the price was steep — $5 million — and senior security officials were scrambling to come up with the money.

    • CIA Money Landed in Al Qaeda’s Hands: Report

      About $1 million of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency’s money, given to a secret Afghan government fund in 2010, ended up in al Qaeda’s possession after it was used to pay part of a ransom for a diplomat kidnapped by the terror group, the New York Times reported on Saturday.

    • ‘Didn’t know they watch Fox in Russia’: Defiant ‘kill Russians’ US ex-general insists he told ‘truth’

      Seemingly unfazed by the outrage his comments on Fox Business Channel have caused, the former US general who thinks the only solution to the Ukraine conflict is to “start killing Russians” has defended his stance, again speaking to Fox.

    • Venezuela, the Latest ‘National Security Threat’

      And how exactly is poor Venezuela, a nation of 29 million, with a small military upon which it spends just 1% of GDP, one of the lowest rates in the world (the US spends 4.5% of GDP on its own bloated military), a threat to the US?

      Well, according to the new executive order, some of Venezuela’s leading officials have “criminalized political dissent” and are corrupt. That’s about it. There’s nothing in there about Venezuela threatening military action against the US, or promoting terrorism, or threatening Americans.

    • South America Rejects US Aggressions on Venezuela

      Venezuela received strong backing from the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) Saturday afternoon, at an emergency summit addressing the recent aggressions from US President Barack Obama.

    • Long before drones, the US tried to automate warfare during the Vietnam War

      Fleets of assorted aircraft were deployed to circle day and night and relay radio signals from the sensors back to Nakhon Phanom, a military base on the west bank of the Mekong River in northeast Thailand that was so secret it officially did not exist.

      The base hosted a whole variety of unacknowledged “black” activities, but at its heart, behind additional layers of razor wire and guard posts, sat an enormous air-conditioned building, the largest in Southeast Asia, that was home to Task Force Alpha, the “brain” of the automated battlefield.

    • Nevada Protesters Say American Drones Are Killing Innocents

      A protest is underway near Creech Air Force Base northwest of Las Vegas. It’s centered on allegations that the United States Air Force is operating an anti-terrorism drone program that is killing innocent civilians.

    • Why robots will be granted a license to kill, in Japan and everywhere else

      A while back I attended a robot expo in Tokyo. It was actually kind of depressing.

      Robots are supposed to be sexy, but much of the technology on display was for old people — you know, intelligent dolls that sense when a dementia patient is trying to get out of bed, engaging them in simple conversation long enough for a human helper to arrive — that sort of thing. Even the cool stuff like powered exoskeletons was being marketed as a way to help young people lift invalid octogenarians into the tub.

    • Drone attack in Yemen kills suspected al Qaeda militants: sources
    • Why Are Drone Pilots Quitting In Huge Numbers?

      The U.S. drone war across much of the Greater Middle East and parts of Africa is in crisis and not because civilians are dying or the target list for that war or the right to wage it just about anywhere on the planet are in question in Washington. Something far more basic is at stake: drone pilots are quitting in record numbers.

    • Endangered ‘Nintendo Warriors’: America’s Drone War Could Be In MAJOR Trouble

      New reports indicate that America’s reliance on drone warfare in the Middle East could be in jeopardy, but not for legal reasons.

      It’s not politics or ethical investigations that are the latest threat, but the simple fact that drone operators are calling it quits in record numbers. Plagued by the trauma of civilian deaths and a heavy workload, drone operators are quitting faster than they can be replaced, and the Air Force is at a loss on what to do, TomDispatch reports.

      Currently, about 1,000 drone pilots work in the program, but the Air Force would ideally like to have 1,700. This goal has proven difficult to accomplish, though, since for every 180 pilots that graduate from training annually, 240 quit.

    • Drone pilot trauma should be studied
    • A chilling new post-traumatic stress disorder: Why drone pilots are quitting in record numbers

      A raft of data suggest our remote-controlled war games are taking a steep psychological toll on their players

    • Drone war pilots desert in droves

      THE US drone war across much of the Middle East and parts of Africa is in crisis — and not because civilians are dying, or the target list for that war or the right to wage it are in question in Washington. Something basic is at stake: drone pilots are quitting in record numbers.

    • Republicans are crossing a dangerous new line: sabotaging US foreign policy

      Throughout Barack Obama’s presidency, Republicans in Congress have deployed a strategy that has worked remarkably well for them: oppose, obstruct, and sabotage the Obama administration at every turn.

      “The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president,” Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell, then the Senate minority leader, said in 2010.

    • US to send Ukraine small drones and armoured Humvees

      White House concerned that Russian-backed separatists are violating cease-fire agreements in eastern Ukraine and keeping out international monitors

    • CIA Drone Campaign Demonstrates Need For Greater Intelligence Oversight, Accountability

      A year ago SISMEC pointed out that, although most of the victims of U.S. drone strikes have ostensibly been “militants,” the White House definition of “militant” is extremely vague (generally, any fighting-aged male). Moreover, the purpose of the program isn’t to target any and all possible combatants, but instead to eliminate high-value targets from international terror organizations who pose a substantial threat to the U.S. homeland. So the best measure of the “hit-rate” of the drone program wouldn’t be to compare the number of civilian casualties v. militants, but instead to ask how many of the total dead were the sort of high-value enemies the program is supposed to be targeting. If we approach the question from this angle, the hit-rate of the drone campaign is abysmal, despite the fact that most of its victims have been “militants.”

    • US Accused of Disastrous Drone Raid Which Left 44 Philippine Commandos Dead

      A United States drone was flying overhead as the Philippine military conducted a raid against alleged Islamic militants in an operation that ended with 44 police commandos dead in a field, according to reports.

    • American Drone Operators Are Quitting in Record Numbers

      An internal Air Force memo reveals that the US military’s drone wars are in major trouble.

    • The al Qaeda Files: Bin Laden Documents Reveal a Struggling Organization
    • Documents Seized at Bin Laden Killing Reveal al-Qaida Strategy

      Totaling more than 150 documents, the cache of correspondence is only the second batch of bin Laden letters released by the government. Offered up in evidence by U.S. attorneys in the Brooklyn trial of Abid Naseer, a Pakistani alleged to have been involved in al-Qaida bombing attacks in Manchester, England, in 2008 and ’09, the letters provide an insight into what life was like for bin Laden as he hid out while U.S. forces were trying to locate and kill him.

    • 34 Arrested while Protesting Drone Killing at Creech AFB

      A five-day anti-drone protest at Creech Air Force Base near Las Vegas, Nevada, last week culminated in a massive blockade on Friday of the two gates leading into the base, repeatedly blocking traffic for an extended time during the early morning commute. Over 150 activists from at least 18 states participated. Thirty-four were arrested and charged with trespassing or blocking the roadway into Creech AFB, the most critical U.S. armed drone base in the country.

    • Dozens Arrested in Protest to End Drone Warfare and Protect Soldiers’ Mental Health
    • While drones did not introduce targeted assassinations, 9/11 and new technologies have pushed the boundaries of the tactic’s acceptability.

      State-led assassinations are not a novelty in international affairs; they have been with us from medieval to modern times. What is significantly different today however is the systematic basis in which assassination is delivered from above the clouds via Predator drones. As a method targeted killing was supposed to be left on a dusty shelf, and revisited only during dire security crises when other means of changing the course of events have been fully exhausted. Instead, compiling kill-lists and striking specific individuals has evolved into a routine monthly event – a trademark US policy praised by the political elites and accepted by the American people.

    • Drone Theory: Provocative investigation on military drones

      The Americans turned an instrument of surveillance into a weapon, and they have become a hallmark of Barack Obama’s presidency. Yet the talk of “precision” is deeply problematic

    • Why domestic drones stir more debate than ones used in warfighting abroad

      John Kaag, coauthor of ‘Drone Warfare,’ says a ‘disturbing mix of provincialism and exceptionalism’ is the reason why Americans are more concerned about domestic drone usage than military drones used in targeted killing abroad.

    • RAAF wants $300m for attack drones

      The Australian government will spend $300 million to purchase several unmanned ‘Reaper’ drones from the US if the Defence Force case for the unmanned vehicles is accepted.

    • Death from above: Australia gets in on the drone strike game

      Australia has decided to follow the United States down the path of armed drones, capable of killing people across the world at the touch of a button.

    • Remember, Kill Chain

      Drone operators are not in immediate contact with the real world, literally, thanks to the phenomenon known as latency…

    • From soldier to peace activist: Russell Brown’s story

      By 1967, Brown was out of the Marines. Two years later, he joined Vietnam Veterans against the War. Brown said that, years later, his partner Cat recognized that he was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.

      In 2002, the United States was preparing to go to war against Afghanistan, which caused Brown to feel anxiety. “I was very stressed out. I was working the graveyard shift in the post office. One night, I was seeing double. I tried to go outside but never made it.” Brown had suffered a stroke. After being taken to the Buffalo Veterans Administration Medical Center, Brown learned that he had a congenital hole in his heart. In addition, his blood pressure was very high. After recovering from his stroke, Brown worked at lowering his blood pressure by walking three miles quickly every day, he explained.

      One of the reasons that Brown chose to protest against UAVs is that “drone pilots get post- traumatic stress disorder. They hunt and kill people by day and then, in the evening, they go home to their families,” Brown said.

      Brown talked about the plans for the 107th Airlift Wing of the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station’s mission to change from C-130 planes to MQ-9 Reaper UAVs.

    • A Blueprint for Ending War

      The goal of this document is to gather into one place, in the briefest form possible, everything one needs to know to work toward an end to war by replacing it with an Alternative Global Security System in contrast to the failed system of national security.

    • Drone warfare: life on the new frontline
    • Firms see drone sales in Gulf surging after U.S. eases export policy

      U.S. drone makers are expecting a surge in sales of military and civilian drones to Gulf states after the State Department eased export rules last week, industry executives said on Tuesday.

      U.S. aerospace and arms companies have been pressing the U.S. government for years to ease restrictions on foreign sales of unmanned aerial vehicles – UAVs or drones – arguing that other countries such as Israel are overtaking them.

    • Killing Rights

      I began by asking when is it ever right to kill, and I answered that this is a question we would put to the state in which we have granted God-like powers. Yet, if the state, which is little more than men and women like ourselves after all, is granted the power’s of divinity how can mere mortals be trusted to wield the lightning?

    • Loving America Means Letting It Go to War

      This deeply false dichotomy between supporting terrorists or agreeing with any and all US foreign policy was one that the Bush administration leaned on in tough times. Nearly 14 years after 9/11, and 12 years since the war in Iraq started, the hamfistedness of the propaganda already feels a little anachronistic. But that’s only because so many people now agree that the war was bad. We’ve had mushy liberal pundits from Jonathan Chait to Ezra Klein offering their decade-later self-flagellation. And we’ve marveled that otherwise smart people like the late Christopher Hitchens, or unrepentant comic book villains such as former Vice President Dick Cheney continued to defend the war long after it had gone out of fashion.

    • Gary Olson: Is it worthwhile to send U.S. troops to fight Islamic State?

      First, why have elements within Saudi Arabia’s ruling elite provided financial backing to ISIS?

      Alastair Crooke, a British expert on political Islam, believes part of the answer is that ISIS ideology is virtually identical to the worldview embraced by many Saudis. In 1741, the Ibn Saud clan joined forces with Abd al-Wahhab, the founder of an especially fanatical version of Islam. Together, they brutally gained control over most of the Arabian Peninsula and judged all non-Wahhabist Muslims as apostates. In 1932, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia declared itself a nation with Wahhabist Islam as the state religion. Today, Saudi sources spend more than $100 billion promoting the Wahhabist brand within the Islamic world.

    • Why Obama’s Hopes of Decapitating the Islamic State Won’t Work

      Nevertheless, the mystique of “high value targeting,” especially when inflicted by supposedly unerring precision weapons or super-elite Special Forces commandos, isn’t going to go away any time soon. The public loves it of course, which comes as no surprise given our steady diet of Hollywood promotion in movies like Zero Dark 30, Lone Survivor, American Sniper. But so do our leaders, and they ought to know better. Decades of experience indicate that striking at enemy leadership in expectation of significant beneficial effect invariably leads not only to disappointment, but also to unexpectedly unpleasant consequences.

    • The Islamic State’s Atrocities—and Ours

      Drone attacks are no less violent or disturbing than the murder of Damiens. But they’ve been placed in a different context that makes them palatable to a majority of Americans (though not to most of the world). They’re not public spectacles. They are the natural extension of an omnipresent surveillance system. And they’re embedded in the rule of law (or so their supporters claim).

    • Kuwait reopens Yemen embassy in Aden, instead of Sanaa

      The three Gulf countries of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and UAE shut their embassies in Sanaa earlier this month

    • Amid Gains in Tikrit, Iraqi Forces Accused of War Crimes

      Iraqi officials say they are close to victory in an Iranian-backed offensive to reclaim the city of Tikrit from the self-proclaimed Islamic State. Iraqi forces and Shiite militias have reclaimed swaths of the city without the aid of U.S. airstrikes. The gains come as ABC News reports Iraqi military units trained and armed by the United States are under investigation by the Iraqi government for war crimes. Videos and photos on social media appear to show militia members and soldiers from elite units massacring and torturing civilians and displaying severed heads.

    • Afghan War Is Over, but U.S. Drone Strikes Continue

      The Bureau of Investigative Journalism (BIJ), a U.K.-based nonprofit, has been documenting U.S. airstrikes in Afghanistan since the beginning of this year. On Tuesday, the group reported five confirmed airstrikes that have killed between 35 and 44 people in 2015.

    • Drone attack case: Are thousands of Pakistani children being martyred insects, says IHC

      Islamabad High Court (IHC) has summoned IG Police Islamabad Tahir Alam today due to non registration of murder case against CIA chief and legal counsel under court’s orders in respect of two persons killed in drone attack in Mir Ali at South Waziristan in 2010.

      Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui has remarked “ thousands of Pakistani children are being martyred and no one sheds tears. Are they insects that no one is there to raise voice in their support.

      He further remarked “ if murder case of two persons killed in drone strike is not registered under court’s orders then contempt of court proceedings will be initiated against the IG Police Islamabad. The court job is to protect life and property of citizens.

      Mir Ali drone attack case came up for hearing in IHC Tuesday Advocate Mirza Shahzad Akbar and Zahoor Elahi appeared on behalf of the petitioner in the court.

    • Drone attacks case adjourned indefinitely

      The government through its report filed in the court has taken the plea that the matter of registration of murder case of two persons against the former chief station CIA and legal counsel, involves legal complications as it can affect Pakistan ties with foreign countries.

    • Secret CIA payments to Afghan officials used to free diplomat held hostage by Al Qaeda, funded group’s weapons stockpile: report

      Al Qaeda stockpiled weapons using covert CIA cash funneled to the murderous terrorist group by Afghan officials as part of a $5 million ransom for a hostage diplomat.

    • US Hides Civilian Casualties From Drone Strikes in Mid East- Anti-War Group

      Co-founder of CODEPINK anti-war organization Medea Benjamin said that the US government had been hiding the civilian casualties caused by the drone strikes in the Middle East, Somalia and Afghanistan.

    • CIA Director Describes How the U.S. Outsources Terror Interrogations

      In rare remarks about a sensitive issue, the director of the CIA confirmed today that the U.S. government works with foreign intelligence agencies to capture and jointly interrogate suspected terrorists.

    • ‘New York Times’: CIA paid ransom to al-Qaeda
    • CIA money from secret fund ended up in hands of al-Qaida – report
    • US CIA chief says social media ’greatly amplifies’ terror threat

      SoCIAl media and other technology are making it increasingly difficult to combat militants who are using such modern resources to share information and conduct operations, the head of the US Central Intelligence Agency said on Friday.

    • CIA chief: Social media hampers fight against ‘terror’

      Social media and other technology are making it increasingly difficult to combat “extremists” who are using such modern resources to share information and conduct operations, the head of the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has said.

    • The CIA and America’s Presidents

      The CIA now is so firmly entrenched and so immensely well financed – much of it off the books, including everything from secret budget items to peddling drugs and weapons – that it is all but impossible for a president to oppose it the way Kennedy did. Obama, who has proved himself a fairly weak character from the start, certainly has given the CIA anything it wants. The dirty business of ISIS in Syria and Iraq is one project. The coup in Ukraine is another. The pushing of NATO’s face right against Russia’s borders is still another. Several attempted coups in Venezuela are still more. And the creation of a drone air force for extrajudicial killing in half a dozen countries is yet another. They don’t resemble projects we would expect from a smiley-faced, intelligent man who sometimes wore sandals and refused to wear a flag pin on his lapel during his first election campaign.

    • Russian Ex-Cop Gets 15 Years for Treason in CIA Spy Rock Case
    • EXCLUSIVE: New American-Russian spy crisis as Kremlin jails policeman for 15 years for ‘spying for CIA’ by handing over nuclear secrets in return for 37,000 euros concealed in fake rock

      This is the first picture of a Russian policeman jailed for 15 years for handing over Kremlin secrets to the CIA.

      Roman Ushakov, 33, from Krasnoyarsk, was found guilty of high treason for allegedly receiving 37,000 euros from his American handlers – hidden in a ‘fake rock’.

      The police major confessed to flying to Britain and other foreign countries to meet US agents after making contact with them via a CIA website.

    • CIA Whistleblower Facing 100 Years In Prison

      President Barack Obama has repeatedly promised to protect whistleblowers from prosecution and punishment, even though he has used the Espionage Act more than all previous administrations.

    • Ecuador Alerts Public to CIA Actions Across the Continent

      The Foreign Ministry is backing a new book outlining CIA actions in Ecuador to raise public awareness of interventions committed by the organization.

    • Ecuador Government Publishes Book about CIA Intervention in its Country

      The government of Ecuador wants its citizens to know all about the dirty tricks that the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) engaged in during the 1960s in their country. To this end, the Ecuador Foreign Ministry has published and distributed copies of the book The CIA Case Against Latin America (pdf), written by Philip Agee, Jaime Galarza Zavala and Francisco Herrera Arauz.

      Agee is a former CIA officer who exposed the spy agency’s clandestine operations in Latin America from 1960 to 1968 in his own book, Inside the Company: CIA Diary, published in 1975.

    • CIA Papers Suggest Murder of Ecuador’s Former President

      Newly revealed documents show that the Ecuadorean military was part of Operation Condor.

      After reviewing declassified CIA documents, the Ecuador’s Attorney General Galo Chiriboga revealed Wednesday that former Ecuadorean President Jaime Roldos could have been murdered, a theory that has surrounded the 34-year old case.

      President Roldos was the first democratically elected president after Ecuador’s last military dictatorship, which lasted from 1976 to 1979.

      Chiriboga made his claim after reviewing several CIA documents that show the Ecuadorean army participated in the Operation Condor, during the 1970s and 1980s.

    • CIA sought to mislead IAEA on Iran’s nuclear program

      Newly declassified CIA documents show that the United States tried to mislead the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) about Iran’s nuclear energy program through the provision of doctored evidence.

    • CIA’s Nuke Sting May Prompt New UN Review for Iran Nuclear Program

      Evidence emerging from a CIA leak case could change the outcome of United Nations’ assessments of Iran’s nuclear program, Bloomberg reported Friday.

    • U.S. Syria strategy falters with collapse of rebel group

      The Hazzm movement was once central to a covert CIA operation to arm Syrian rebels, but the group’s collapse last week underlines the failure of efforts to unify Arab and Western support for mainstream insurgents fighting the Syrian military.

    • Putin: Nuclear Weapons Were Readied During Ukraine Crisis

      In recorded comments made for a documentary of the accession of Crimea into the Russian Federation, President Vladimir Putin revealed that he had been readying Russia’s nuclear arms during the height of the Ukraine crisis.

  • Transparency Reporting

    • Julian Assange appeals to Sweden’s supreme court over arrest warrant

      Julian Assange is taking his appeal to Sweden’s highest court in a final attempt to persuade a Swedish judge that the arrest warrant against him should be lifted.

    • Swedish Court May Have Led to End of Assange Impasse

      Police monitoring of the Ecuadorean embassy in London all these years has cost “millions of pounds of British taxpayers’ money,” Pilger noted.

      While many have speculated whether the recent developments in Sweden would break the stalemate, Ratner said that Washington would play more of a role in his client’s fate.

      “Sweden is not Julian Assange’s problem,” he said. “His problem is the United States.”

    • Will Matt DeHart be the next victim of the war on leaks?

      The case of Matt DeHart, a former U.S. drone pilot turned hacktivist, is as strange as it is disturbing. The 29-year-old was recently denied asylum in Canada, having fled there with his family after — he claims — he was drugged and tortured by agents of the FBI, who accused him of espionage and child pornography.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

    • Reclamation Announces Initial Water Supply Allocation for Central Valley Project

      Unfortunately, many agricultural water contractors may face a second year of receiving no water from the project – an unprecedented situation. In addition, reduced amounts of water are expected to be available from the CVP for urban uses, although Reclamation anticipates having adequate supplies to provide for unmet health and safety needs for these water users.

    • Climate Change Denier on Fossil Fuel Payroll

      Wei-Hock “Willie” Soon, a solar physicist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA), received significant funding from energy companies while publishing studies that suggested solar activity, rather than human-generated greenhouse gasses, was causing dramatic shifts in global climate. Soon, whose work is frequently cited by conservative politicians to support their skepticism of the human role in climate change, accepted more than $1.2 million from fossil-fuel companies over the past decade, according to documents obtained by environmental group Greenpeace under the Freedom of Information Act. During that same period, Soon failed to disclose any the financial conflicts of interests to publishers of his scientific studies, violating journals’ ethical guidelines in several cases, The New York Times reported.

    • Network TV Continues Giving Climate Change Cold Shoulder

      FAIR examined ABC, CBS and NBC transcripts from January 25 (as the Northeast’s first blizzard approached) through March 4, looking at all mentions of cold, snow and ice. Over the same time period, we studied coverage of heat, warmth and drought across the West and Pacific Northwest.

  • Finance

    • The Case to Reinstate the Bank of Canada

      For over three years the Committee for Monetary and Economic Reform (COMER), an organization of Canadian citizens, has battled in court to return Canada’s Central Bank. The Bank of Canada’s initial purpose according to its charter was making interest free loans to municipal, provincial, and federal governments for “human capital” expenditures (education, health, other social services) and /or infrastructure expenditures. Yet for the past four decades it has acted as an interest-gathering agent for private global banking firms.

    • WaPo Lets Slip Why Dollar Is Over-Valued

      Regular readers of my blog Beat the Press know that the over-valuation of the dollar is one of my pet themes. There are two big issues with the over-valuation.

      The first is macroeconomic: An over-valued dollar makes US goods and services less competitive internationally. If the dollar is over-valued by 20 percent against other currencies, then it has the same impact as if we were to impose a 20 percent tariff on all our exports and give a 20 percent subsidy on imported goods. Needless to say, this leads to a much larger trade deficit than would be the case if the currency were not over-valued.

    • Robert Samuelson’s ‘Golden Age’ Mythology

      Finally, the story of the “Big Scare” doesn’t quite fit the data either. Saving as a share of disposable income is now lower than at any point except the peaks of the stock and housing bubbles. By the measure of how much consumers are spending, they do not appear scared. Similarly, the investment share of GDP is back to its level of 2005-06, a period in which firms were not obviously scared.

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

  • Censorship

    • Reddit imposes ban on non-consensual sexual content

      If you want to post naked pictures or videos of people on Reddit without their consent, you only have a couple of weeks to do so. As of March, the site is imposing a ban on content of an explicit nature that the subject has not given permission to be posted.

    • No sex on Blogger please, we’re Google

      Blogger users risk having their blogs removed from public listings if they feature graphic nudity or explicit content. Starting on March 23, any Blogger blog found to contain offending pictures or videos will be converted into a private blog that can only be seen by the owner and those, erm, explicitly invited to see it.

    • ‘I am Charlie’ exhibit forced to close in Helsinki

      In all three cases, the building owners had asked to have the show closed because of safety worries – particularly following last week’s attacks in Copenhagen.

      On Tuesday the organisers are meeting to decide where to go from here.

      The director of Library 10 told the paper that the building’s owners and police are studying the security issues surrounding the show, and that it may still be possible for it to re-open at the library.

      The exhibit includes work by 10 leading Finnish cartoonists, including well-known names such as Pertti Jarla and Milla Paloniemi.

  • Privacy

  • Civil Rights

    • Fort Lauderdale police officer caught on camera slapping homeless man

      A homeless man is speaking up after an officer responded violently to his request to use a restroom Sunday.

      A witness caught the incident on a cellphone camera. In the footage, the man, Bruce Laclair, is seen walking near a Downtown Fort Lauderdale bus station. An off-duty Fort Lauderdale Police officer, Victor Ramirez, trails Laclair while putting on rubber gloves. “I’m not [expletive] around with you. Don’t [expletive] touch me,” Ramirez is heard yelling while pointing at Laclair.

    • Study After Study Shows The DHS Has An Intense Morale Problem That Can Apparently Only Be Solved By Study After Study

      The DHS is in the (relatively) newly-minted business of securing the homeland against all comers — mostly terrorists of the foreign and domestic varieties. Whether it’s done out of paranoia or just the overwhelming need to look busy every time the national budget nears a vote, the DHS has gone overboard in its assessments of potential threats. The shorter of the two lists it has compiled by this point would be titled “Not Terrorists.” Over the years, the DHS has conjectured that terrorists are hiding in food trucks, using hotel side entrances, exercising their First Amendment rights, possibly years away from graduating high school… etc.

    • Prison Phone Companies Have Found Yet Another Way to Squeeze Families for Cash

      On a chilly Sunday evening in December, a smattering of parents and small children trickled into a graffiti-covered concrete building on the grounds of the DC Jail. It was the last day to visit with prisoners before Christmas Eve, and some of the visitors were wearing Santa hats or bearing presents. The only thing missing was inmates. Three years ago, Washington, DC, eliminated in-person visitation for the roughly 1,800 residents of its jails and installed 54 video-conferencing screens in this building across the parking lot from the detention facility. The screens were installed, at no expense to taxpayers, by a Virginia-based company called Global Tel*Link (GTL), which had scored a lucrative contract for the facility’s phone service.

    • The disappeared: Chicago police detain Americans at abuse-laden ‘black site’

      The Chicago police department operates an off-the-books interrogation compound, rendering Americans unable to be found by family or attorneys while locked inside what lawyers say is the domestic equivalent of a CIA black site.

    • The Guardian Details The Horrors Of Chicago Police’s ‘CIA-Style Black Site’

      The practices undertaken at the Homan facility are alleged to include detaining people without documenting their arrest, beatings, keeping detainees shackled for hours at a time, refusing attorneys for detainees access to the facility, and detaining people while refusing them legal counsel for up to a full day. These practices, by the way, weren’t reserved for the mature, but were happily visited upon minors, because when you’re going to go evil there is no point in half-assing it. Do these types of practices sound familiar to you? Would it help if the detainees were in orange jumpsuits and had the tan of a Cuban sun upon their skin? You get the point.

    • Battlefield: Hardline – is it a problem to play war as a cop?

      A helicopter swoops over a palatial mansion as armed gunmen burst in, jamming cartridges into their shotguns, preparing for an epic firefight. Pretty soon bullets are tearing up the interior as bodies crash through glass walls, and grenades pass the camera in slow-motion arcs. Quickly, the action cuts to a high-speed car chase, with vehicles plummeting along LA’s iconic storm drains. The shooting never stops.

    • The Rise and Fall of RedBook, the Site That Sex Workers Couldn’t Live Without

      Until last summer, pretty much anyone buying or selling sex in the San Francisco Bay Area used myRedBook.com. For more than a decade, the site commonly referred to as RedBook served as a vast catalog of carnal services, a mashup of Craigslist, Yelp, and Usenet where sex workers and hundreds of thousands of their customers could connect, converse, and make arrangements for commercial sex. RedBook tapped into the persistent, age-old, bottomless appetite for prostitution and made it safer and more civilized. The site was efficient, well stocked, and probably too successful for its own good.

    • Voting Rights Shall Not Overcome NYT Reporting Like This

      Actually, if we shall not overcome partisan rancor, it will be because of reporting like this, which duplicates and does not investigate the claims made about voting reform. Will voter ID and restrictions on early voting “help prevent voter fraud,” or is such fraud “nearly nonexistent”? The Times can’t say, but can only say what others say, as if there were no objective reality that the paper could report on directly.

    • ‘Freedom in jeopardy’: Thousands rally across Canada against new anti-terror law

      Thousands of demonstrators have united across Canada to take action against proposed anti-terrorism legislation known as Bill C-51, which would expand the powers of police and the nation’s spy agency, especially when it comes to detaining terror suspects.

    • JUSTICE FOR SALE – PART 4: Corruption and Abuse, the Remnants of Greed

      This is the fourth article (PART1, PART2, PART3) in a five-part series examining the US legal system. The series collectively argues that corporate media and political rhetoric have made Americans acquiescent toward corruption in the US legal system. This piece uses Coalinga State Hospital in California to illuminate the corruption that is taking place inside the justice system’s institutions.

    • Senate Torture Report: An Exception In CIA Oversight

      In February 2009, the Senate intelligence committee gathered in a soundproof room to learn the stomach-churning details of the brutal interrogations the CIA conducted with its first important al-Qaida prisoners.

      Committee aides distributed a report based on a review of messages to CIA headquarters from two of the agency’s secret overseas jails. Included was a 25-page chart with a minute-by-minute description of 17 days during which the first detainee, Abu Zubaydah, was kept awake, slammed into walls, shackled in stress positions, stuffed for hours into a small box and waterboarded to the point of unconsciousness.

    • Drone Theory by Grégoire Chamayou, review: ‘highly readable’

      The dream of flight, even from its earliest days, was shadowed by the desire for power. Before the First World War, in 1911, the Italians were dropping bombs out of early wooden aircraft on north African villages. In the Twenties, the British sought to control ungovernable desert dwellers in their Middle East territories by hurling explosives from biplanes. Today’s objections to drones – crewless aircraft piloted via computers, and used to fire missiles – are to do with the fact that they swerve any liberal sense of justice. Their technology may be astounding, but the fear and outrage they evoke is more than 100 years old.

    • Bush White House’s Repeated Torture Denials Led CIA Torturers to Seek Repeated Reassurances

      The Bush administration was so adamant in its public statements against torture that CIA officials repeatedly sought reassurances that the White House officials who had given them permission to torture in the first place hadn’t changed their minds.

      In a July 29, 2003, White House meeting that included Vice President Dick Cheney and National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, CIA Director George Tenet went so far as to ask the White House “to cease stating that US Government practices were ‘humane.’” He was assured they would.

    • CIA spy ‘fired for falling in love with undercover colleague 21 years his junior’ sues agency for $25 million
    • Spy: CIA Kept Me From My Soulmate

      On January 5, 2010, the chief of the CIA’s secretive paramilitary operations division accused one of the agency’s elite undercover operatives of financial shenanigans and getting too friendly with a female colleague.

    • Chelsea Manning: Prosecute the CIA’s torturers

      Newly minted Guardian columnist Chelsea Manning, the Army whistleblower currently serving a 35-year sentence for divulging classified military documents to WikiLeaks, argues in a new column that the officers behind the Central Intelligence Agency’s post-9/11 torture and detention program must be held criminally accountable, contending that U.S. intelligence personnel were complicit in a torture regime that was “unethical and morally wrong,” as well as “very illegal.”

    • John Brennan and Restructuring the CIA
    • The CIA’s torturers and the leaders who approved their actions must face the law

      Successful intelligence gathering through interrogation and other forms of human interaction by conventional means can be – and more often than not are – very successful. But, even though interrogation by less conventional methods might get glorified in popular culture – in television dramas like Law and Order: Criminal Intent, 24 and The Closer and movies like Zero Dark Thirty – torture and the mistreatment of detainees in the custody of intelligence personnel is, was and shall continue to be unethical and morally wrong. Under US law, torture and mistreatment of detainees is also very illegal.

    • Paying for torture

      The CIA tortured suspected terrorists on Polish soil.

    • ‘No parliament support’: Lithuania drops CIA prison inquiry

      The Lithuanian legislature decided against a new inquiry into a secret US torture facility in the country, despite a damning US Senate report released three months ago which indicated its existence.

    • Lithuania says will not renew CIA prison parliamentary enquiry

      Lithuania’s parliament will not hold another parliamentary inquiry into alleged CIA prisons in the Baltic country after the U.S. Senate published a report on torture, the speaker of the parliament said on Friday.

    • Lithuanian Parliament Refuses to Pursue Investigations into CIA Black Sites

      The Lithuanian Seimas will not renew a parliamentary inquiry into alleged CIA prisons, despite evidence in a US Senate Report suggesting that the Baltic nation kept a secret prison.

    • CIA attempted to contact Hamas despite official US ban, spy cables reveal

      The CIA tried to gain access to Hamas through backchannels despite a US government ban on contact with the Palestinian Islamist movement, the spy cables show.

    • ‘Spy Cables’ Reveal the CIA ‘Desperate’ to Contact Hamas

      The leaked cables show that Obama threatened the Palestinian president because the PLO was seeking to upgrade its U.N. status.

    • CIA asked South Africa for help contacting Hamas: leaked files

      According to the Al-Jazeera report, a Central Intelligence Agency agent was “desperate” to make contact with Hamas in 2012, according to intelligence files leaked to Al-Jazeera.

      Al-Jazeera reported that the US listed Hamas as a terrorist organisation and had no contact with the group officially.

    • Film About Psychologists Behind CIA’s Torture Techniques In Works At HBO

      The December release of the U.S. Senate Select Intelligence Committee’s so-called “torture report” shocked the nation with the gruesome accounts of extreme interrogation tactics employed by the CIA in the war on terror.

    • CIA scandal that got lost amid our obsession with Monica Lewinsky: Kill the Messenger is reminiscent of All The President’s Men, writes BRIAN VINER

      A powerful political thriller in many ways reminiscent of All The President’s Men, Alan J. Pakula’s 1976 film about the Watergate conspiracy, Kill The Messenger tells the true story of a dogged investigative reporter for an unfashionable Californian newspaper, who uncovered what he called a ‘dark alliance’ between the CIA, Nicaraguan rebels and cocaine traffickers.

    • US Government Classifies Term “America’s Battle Lab’ in War on Terror” in Pentagon Report

      The Department of Defense, after consultation with the CIA, the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Defense Intelligence Agency, has released via Mandatory Declassification Request an early Pentagon study of intelligence operations at Guantanamo (along with accompanying slide presentation). It is very heavily redacted, with whole pages blanked out.

  • Internet/Net Neutrality

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • The White House Doesn’t Want You to Know the TPP’s Looming Effects on U.S. Copyright Laws

      As the White House doubles down on its attempt to pass legislation to fast track secret trade agreements like the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement, their oft-repeated refrain about these deals’ digital copyright enforcement provisions is that these policies would not alter U.S. law.

    • Congress’s Copyright Review Should Strengthen Fair Use—Or At Least Do No Harm

      The Internet is celebrating Fair Use Week, and it’s a great time to look at what Congress might do this year to help or hurt the fair use rights of artists, innovators, and citizens. After nearly two years of U.S. House Judiciary Committee hearings and vigorous conversations within government, industry, and the public, it seems like we might see some real proposals. But other than a few insiders, nobody knows for sure whether major changes to copyright law are coming this year, and what they might be.

    • Trade Agreements Should Protect An Open Internet, Not Kill It

      For a few years now, we’ve been writing about the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement, and how we’re quite concerned by many aspects of it. In particular, we’re quite concerned about the intellectual property provisions — which leaks have shown are tremendously problematic — as well as the corporate sovereignty provisions, which negotiators like to call “investor state dispute settlement” (ISDS) because it sounds so boring. Of course, the biggest concern of all is that these deals are negotiated in total secrecy, with the various negotiators refusing to reveal the agreed upon text until it’s a done deal and the public is unable to comment on it or suggest changes and fixes.

    • Copyrights

      • Apparently The Best Way To Decrease Movie Piracy Is To Get Rid Of The Oscars

        As you may have heard, last night was the Oscars — Hollywood’s favorite back-patting celebration. However, as a recent study found, films that were nominated for Oscars saw the number of unauthorized downloads and streams surge, as people wanted to make sure they had seen these celebrated films. Films like American Sniper and Selma saw a massive increase in unauthorized downloads after being nominated. The company that did this study, Irdeto, argues that these unauthorized downloads represent a major loss for the films’ producers — but it seems like there’s another explanation: the MPAA really ought to be targeting the Oscars for encouraging infringement.

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