04.19.15

Links 19/4/2015: New KaOS (2015.04), Manjaro Linux 0.8.13 Pre1

Posted in News Roundup at 5:43 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Linux-Powered Endless Computer Raises $100k+ In A Few Days

    Launched this week on Kickstarters was Endless Computers, a $169 Linux PC for the developing world. Quite quickly the project has already surpassed its $100k USD goal.

  • Desktop

    • Congratulations to Endless Computer

      For everyone else out there I strongly recommend getting in on their kickstarter, not only do you get a cool looking computer with a really nice Linux desktop, you are helping a company forward that has the potential to take the linux dektop to the next level.

    • OMG! Desktop GNU/Linux in Bahrain Goes Critical

      According to the ITU, they are among the top countries in ICT development. Good for them. Despite being fabulously wealthy, they appear to be doing IT the right way with lots of FLOSS.

  • Audiocasts/Shows

    • WikiLeaks Release: US Recruits Hollywood to Boost ‘Anti-Russian Messaging’

      The latest documents released by Wikileaks reveal some uncomfortable – yet unsurprising – truths about the relationship between Hollywood and the US Government. In its propaganda efforts against Russia, the US State Department may have pressured Sony – and some of the biggest stars – into cooperating.

      The latest Wikileaks release includes thousands of documents which reveal ties between the White House and Sony pictures. It’s taking journalists a long time to comb through the weeds, but some troubling details are emerging.

  • Kernel Space

    • EXT4 In Linux 4.1 Adds File-System Level Encryption

      The EXT4 file-system updates for the Linux 4.1 kernel have been sent in and it features the file-system-level encryption support.

      Earlier this month we wrote about the newly-published patches for EXT4 encryption support coming out of Google and intended to land in the next major release of Android. Those patches for file-system-level encryption will now be landing upstream with the Linux 4.1 kernel update.

      Besides this native encryption support for EXT4, the rest of the updates for this merge window pull request equate to mainly fixes. More details via the pull request itself.

    • F2FS For Linux 4.1 Has New Features & Fixes

      New F2FS file-system features for this next kernel release include an in-memory extent_cache, an fs_shutdown feature to test power-off recovery, now uses inline_data to store a symlink path, F2FS is now shown as a non-misc file-system.

    • The Strained Relationship Between Systemd and Syslog

      World-renowned Unix master Chris Siebenmann has written an article entitled ‘I wish systemd would get over its thing about syslog’. It addresses the strained relationship between the systemd init system and the traditional syslog approach to logging used on many Linux systems.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

  • Distributions

    • Reviews

      • ChromeOS 42.0.2311.87 (Official Build) (64-bit) – A brief look

        ChromeOS is a crafty devil. If you are not paying attention you can miss the fact that you’ve received an update. Its a little like a dog near to a buffet table, turn away and it will have a cake off there and carry on as normal without you being any the wiser.

        I decided to pen a few thoughts on the latest build which has found its way through the interwebs and landed on my HP 14″. When I say land, the image I’d like to convey is not so much a smooth journey opening up a wealth of treats but more of a thump and an exercise in wasting my time.

        These are the things I’ve noticed within the first few hours of the update. There will be more.

    • New Releases

      • Tanglu 3.0 Alpha Out Now Based on Debian 8 Jessie, Offers GNOME 3.16 and KDE Plasma 5

        Matthias Klumpp announced today, April 18, the immediate availability for download and testing of the first Alpha version of the upcoming Tanglu 3 Linux operating system.

      • KaOS 2015.04 is here — Download the KDE-focused Linux distro now!

        There are too many Linux distributions nowadays. Choice and variety is wonderful, but in this case, it spreads resources very thin. Linux-based operating systems might be further along by now if more developers came together to work on projects. For someone new to Linux, finding a distro can be a daunting task. Many of the releases are simply noise, making it hard to find the quality operating systems.

        KaOS is one of those quality operating systems. It is a wonderful Linux distribution that focuses on KDE. Quite frankly, if you are a KDE purist, this should be on your radar. To cerebrate the two-year anniversary of the distro, the team releases 2015.04. Whether you are a Linux noob, or even an an expert, you should give it a try.

      • 4MRescueKit 12.0 BETA released.

        4MRescueKit provides its users with software for antivirus protection, data backup, disk partitioning, and data recovery. It is distributed in the form of a multiboot CD, which includes four (extremely small) operating systems.

    • Screenshots/Screencasts

    • Arch Family

    • Debian Family

      • skx-www upgraded to jessie

        Today I upgraded my main web-host to the Jessie release of Debian GNU/Linux.

      • Ardour 4 on Debian Jessie
      • Debian 8.0 Installer RC3 “Jessie” Officially Released

        Debian Installer, the official installation system for the Debian distribution since the Sarge release, developed the Debian Installer Team, has been upgraded to version 8.0 RC3 and is now available for download and testing.

      • Derivatives

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Flavours and Variants

            • Elementary OS Freya 0.3 review

              Elementary OS is a Linux desktop distribution that’s being primed as a “fast and open replacement for Windows and OS X.”

              It’s safe to say that that’s the goal of every Linux distribution. Some distributions have, to a large extent, succeeded, while some are partially or completely misguided. Elementary OS, even though it’s still just at version 0.3, belongs to the first group.

              Some of the design decisions make it slightly painful to use, but as a unit, the distribution is moving in the right direction. Will it ever get to the point where it replaces Windows and OS X for all users? No, because there’ll always be those that love Windows and Mac OS X no matter what. And there are still applications that have no real alternatives in Linux.

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • What Your CIO Needs to Know About Open Source

    Today’s businesses are becoming increasingly familiar with the many benefits of open source software. In fact, 74 percent of IT professionals, in the U.S. alone, agree that the software offers better quality of continuity and control than that of proprietary. However, some CIOs are still skeptical about adopting open source software into their IT infrastructure as they’ve grown accustomed to their proprietary software vendors.

  • How open source grew up

    When I was writing daily about Linux, the operating system and open source apps were already hard at work in data centres, on servers and on high-end workstations.

    The IT market was still moving away from a model where servers came with an expensive to buy and expensive to support operating system linked to the hardware maker.

    Some of those OSes were fully proprietary. Others were versions of Unix although they often had proprietary branding and non-open components.

  • Six months selfhosting: my userop experiences

    Debian brings peace of mind (for me)

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

  • Project Releases

  • Licensing

    • GitHub: Now Supporting Open Source License Compliance

      Ask any developer where to turn for access to the latest software code for open source projects, and you’ll likely be directed to GitHub—one of the largest providers of open source code online.

      While GitHub has always been a great site for developers to come together, network and share code, up until a few years ago, the website had a problem. Though it was easy for developers to share code, finding the right software license to go along with it was much harder. The majority of downloads on GitHub, therefore, were taking place without the critical software license component.

  • Standards/Consortia

Leftovers

  • Kansas senator’s ‘Frozen’ ring tone interrupts hearing, goes viral

    Sen. Pat Roberts of Kansas became an Internet sensation on Thursday when his cell phone went off in the middle of a senate finance committee hearing, filling the somber room with the first few bars of a song from Disney’s “Frozen.”

  • This incredible interactive graphic shows the second most common language in every country
  • The Independence Vote

    Nicola Sturgeon is to be congratulated for refusing to back off from the goal of independence, and the right of the Scottish people to self-determination, under pressure from Andrew Marr today.

  • I saw up close how an establishment closed ranks over the Janner affair

    A little over 24 years ago, as a young freelance journalist on the Independent on Sunday, I telephoned the Leicester office of Raymonds News Agency and arranged for a reporter to cover an imminent pre-trial hearing at the city’s magistrates court. It was the sort of mundane hearing that would not normally trouble the media. A few days before, in a Leicester pub, I had met a solicitor’s clerk, to whom I had been introduced by a source on a previous story. The clerk told me that at the hearing a former children’s home manager called Frank Beck, who stood charged of sexually abusing the children in his care, would claim the man responsible for the offences was actually Leicester West’s long-standing MP, Greville, now Lord, Janner.

    Events played out exactly as I had been told they would. At the hearing’s conclusion, Beck shouted out his claims and was duly wrestled to the floor by the clerk of the court, before being taken back to the cells. Rumours about Janner that had circulated in the city for some years were now recorded by the journalist I had placed there and thus out in the public domain.

    Last week, the director of public prosecutions, Alison Saunders, announced that the now 86-year-old Janner would not be facing any charges on the grounds that he was suffering from dementia and therefore unfit to stand trial. It required the CPS to add that “this decision does not mean or imply that… Janner is guilty of any offence”. In turn, Janner’s family issued their own statement praising the man’s “integrity” before adding: “He is entirely innocent of any wrongdoing.”

  • The Remarkably Unobservant Baron Carlile

    Rayner states “The establishment, in the shape of his fellow MPs, men such as Labour’s Keith Vaz, Tory David Ashby and the then Lib Dem MP now Lord Carlile, closed ranks.” In the 1991 House of Commons debate deploring accusations against Janner, Carlile played a prominent part, describing Janner as a man of “integrity” and “determination”. Carlile should have known Janner fairly well. They were both MPs, both QCs, both members of Friends of Israel, both patrons of UK lawyers for Israel. The appear still to both be patrons of the Friends of Israel Educational Foundation. They were regulars on the same parliamentary committees dealing with legal affairs. They were both to leave the Commons at the same time and both to join the Lords only slightly apart.

  • Science

    • The Nanda Devi mystery

      Fifty years after deadly plutonium was lost on India’s second highest mountain, the enigma continues

    • How the Computer Got Its Revenge on the Soviet Union

      In 1950, with the Cold War in full swing, Soviet journalists were looking desperately for something to help them fill their anti-American propaganda quota. In January of that year, a Time Magazine cover appeared that seemed to provide just the thing. It showed an early electromechanical computer called the Harvard Mark III, and boasted the cover line, “Can Man Build a Superman?”

    • We’re teaching our kids wrong: Steve Jobs and Bill Gates do not have the answers

      Money has infiltrated our schools through another portal as well. Bankers and businesspeople have decided that they are the ones to improve our schools. In 2010 the educational historian Diane Ravitch did a dramatic about-face regarding educational testing and the promise of charter schools. Having been a loud and influential proponent of both (among other things, she worked in the administration of George H.W. Bush), in recent years she began to see that the national obsession with tests was in fact corrupting rather than improving the process of education in our schools. She also began to think that charter schools were sucking the lifeblood out of the public school system as well as allowing business interests to shape what was happening in classrooms. In her book “The Death and Life of the Great American School System,” she documents some of the ways that people in business and finance have been wielding their influence and sidelining the input of parents and teachers. The signs of this influence are not always subtle or ephemeral either. They can be seen and heard within the halls and classrooms of schools all over the country.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • US to Blame for Spike in Opium Production in Afghanistan

      The production of opium increased 40-fold in the 13 years of the U.S. intervention in Afghanistan and thanks to CIA covert aid.

    • Suspicion slows dangerous work to eradicate polio in Pakistan

      The Pakistani branch of the Taliban, the TTP, has seized on evidence that the vaccination campaign was used as cover by the CIA to gather intelligence. The US government said last year that the practice had stopped and the CIA director had instructed the agency “to make no operational use of vaccination programmes, which include vaccination workers”.

    • Fear of doctors, vaccines in California and around the world

      Modern society deeply depends on doctors. Which is why recent international reactions against doctors – from mistrust to outright attack – represent a disturbing trend that can not only lead to an immediate threat to global health workers but also precipitate that all-feared outbreak of an uncontrollable epidemic.

    • U.S. Blocked Declaration of “Right to Health Care”, Says Bolivia’s President at OAS Summit

      Said Mr. Morales: “One point (in the drafted declaration) was important: health as a human right, and the U.S. government did not accept that health should be considered a human right … President Obama did not accept” that concept.

      The 8-point draft had resulted from four months of negotiations between the participating countries prior to the Summit in Panama, which was held on April 10-11. There was such strong sentiment for declaring health care to be a right, so that this provision was included in the draft despite Obama’s opposition to it.

      A report from the Latin American television network Telesur (majority-owned by the Venezuelan government, which Obama unsuccessfully tried to overthrow via an aborted February 2015 coup, announced at the start of the conference, that, “The Seventh Summit of the Americas begins Friday in Panama without a final declaration because the US Government has expressed its disagreement with some of the clauses, which blocked agreement.” Furthermore, this was personally done by U.S. President Obama: “This information was confirmed by Foreign Minister of Argentina, Hector Timerman, who described the event as ‘a debate among presidents.’” That’s how personal, and top-level, the ideological disagreement here was.

  • Security

  • Defence/Police/Secrecy/Aggression

    • The shroud of secrecy around US drone strikes abroad must be lifted

      It’s been over two years since President Obama promised new transparency and accountability rules when it comes to drone strikes, yet it’s become increasingly clear virtually no progress has been made. The criteria for who gets added to the unaccountable ‘kill list’ is still shrouded in secrecy – even when the US government is targeting its own citizens.

    • ‘Civilization has no place for drones’
    • Should human-killing robots be allowed to exist? The UN is deciding once and for all

      They’re terrifying machines – capable of operating without human control and built with a vicious streak that could steal the lives of thousands of humans in a split second.
      As artificial intelligence develops and improves, who’s to say the killer robots we put together with our own hands won’t one day cause serious devastation to the human race and maybe even turn against us?

    • Still No Accountability for US Drone Kills

      If the US wanted Rizzo and Banks prosecuted we could do it ourselves. We have the means. US drone strikes in Pakistan are unsanctioned by international humanitarian law because the United States is not engaged in an armed conflict with Pakistan; drones do not distinguish between civilians and combatants; and the staggering number of civilian deaths is vastly disproportionate in relation to the numbers of Taliban and Al-Qaeda killed. This qualifies drone strikes as “grave breaches” of the Geneva Conventions punishable under the US War Crimes Act. Since the US has decided not to prosecute Banks and Rizzo why should anyone believe the US will allow Pakistan to prosecute them?

    • Do Drones Really Reduce Civilian Casualties?

      Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), commonly known as “drones” have been the subject of heated debate in recent years. Without a doubt, the number of strikes has increased at an astonishing rate. Consider that between Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia, the U.S. government has launched over 1,500 known drone strikes since 2008. (This visualization of strikes in Pakistan is particularly illustrative)

    • The real significance of our drone war, and why you’ll hear little about it in Campaign 2016

      Nothing shows the decay of the Republic like our drone wars, almost mindless killing — now including execution of Americans by Presidential decree.

    • Obama Says He’d Rather Capture Terrorists Than Kill Them. Then Why Doesn’t He Do That?

      On Jan. 23, 2013, after an afternoon of hanging out with friends and chewing qat at a marketplace a few miles outside of the Yemeni capital of Sanaa, Saleem al-Qaweli, a 27-year-old university student, was approached by a group of six men who asked for a ride back to their nearby village in his truck. Saleem agreed, and asked his cousin Ali Saleh al-Qaweli, a 32-year-old schoolteacher, to come along. A little after 7:30 p.m., as the pickup passed through the village of al-Masna’ah, a U.S. drone fired four missiles into Saleem’s vehicle, obliterating it. Investigators on the scene would find bone fragments 150 meters away from the car.

    • Is Use Of Drones A War Crime According To International Criminal Court?

      The issue of drones or Unarmed Aerial Vehicles provides an intriguing legal debate as drones are increasingly being used in warfare and counter-terrorism. There are divergent views and opinions as to their legality in international law. Some argue that the use of armed drones by the U.S military for example in Afghanistan, Iraq and other countries is illegal under international law, while some argue that drones are an acceptable tool of war. The use of drones raises many questions. But for purposes of this article, the main question is whether their use amounts to a war crime.

    • Chemical Weapons Used by Saudi Arabia in Yemen Kill Scores of Civilians

      Civilians who were injured during the attacks said they have been suffering from suffocation, nausea and diarrhea since the start of the attacks.

    • U.S. drones keep Obama’s struggling war in Yemen alive

      When U.S. special operations forces exited Yemen last month, it was seen as a severe blow to the fight against al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, which President Barack Obama had previously held up as a success in the global effort against terrorism.

    • How Washington Adds to Yemen’s Nightmare

      Joining a growing list of U.S. foreign policy failures in the Middle East, including Iraq, Syria and Libya, Yemen is fast becoming a humanitarian disaster. Its indigenous conflict, cruelly fueled by Washington and Saudi Arabia, has killed hundreds of people, wounded more than 2,000, and displaced more than a quarter million people, according to the United Nations. All this at a time when 16 million of its desperately poor inhabitants are critically short of food, water and fuel.

    • Yemen needs all-out political process: OIC sec-gen

      An all-out political process is needed as soon as possible to ensure long-lasting peace in Yemen, says Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Secretary-General Tan Sri Iyad Ameen Madani.

    • Yemenis displaced, forced from homes as conflict worsens

      Street battles and air raids are driving more and more Yemenis from their homes, the United Nations said Tuesday as the worsening conflict forced the impoverished Arabian Peninsula country’s liquefied natural gas company to shut down production.

    • UN chief for immediate truce in Yemen

      UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has called for an “immediate cease-fire” in Yemen, where a Saudi-led coalition is conducting airstrikes against Houthi rebels, saying the impoverished country was “in flames”.

    • The Ineffective Campaign in Yemen

      Almost a month ago, on March 25, the Saudis launched what they called Operation Decisive Storm to stop the onslaught of the Iranian-backed Houthi militia in Yemen. It turns out that, to no one’s surprise, Decisive Storm isn’t actually decisive.

      The Saudis have been bombing rather freely, killing by UN estimates more than 600 people, at least half of them civilians. On March 31, for example, Saudi bombs hit a dairy factory killing 31 civilians, the kind of mistake that would be greeted with global outrage if it were committed by the Israeli Air Force but it is met with polite silence when it’s the Saudis.

    • Drone Strikes in Yemen Said to Set a Dangerous Precedent

      An investigation of American drone strikes in Yemen concludes that the Obama administration has not followed its own rules to avoid civilian casualties and is setting a dangerous example for other countries that want to use unmanned aircraft against terrorists.

      The study, by the Open Society Justice Initiative, a legal advocacy group based in New York, was released on Monday at a time when Yemen has been engulfed in violence and American drone strikes have been slowed or halted. But its observations about the performance of American counterterrorism strikes from 2012 to 2014 remain relevant for assessing a novel weapons system that the United States has used in several countries and has now approved for export to a limited number of allies.

    • Open Society Justice Initiative Issues New Report on U.S. Drone Strikes in Yemen
    • Impunity, Death, and Blowback: Report Exposes Illegal US Drone War in Yemen

      The brother of a drone strike victim told researchers, “We had hoped that America would come to the region with educational and development projects and services, but it came instead with aircrafts to kill our children.” (Image via Open Society Justice Foundation/ Mwatana Organization for Human Rights)

    • Report documents carnage of US drone war in Yemen

      The first known airstrikes carried out by the Obama administration came on December 17, 2009, when a cruise missile loaded with clusters bombs slammed into the village of Al Majala in Abyan province. While purportedly targeted at an AQAP training camp, it killed at least 44 civilians, including five pregnant women and 21 children. A separate strike the same day killed four people in Arhab.

      Since then, there have been at least 121 drone and other airstrikes that have taken the lives of as many as 1,100 people, most of them officially classified as combatants. As a means of limiting the official civilian casualty count in any particular attack, President Obama approved the redefinition of a “combatant” as any male of military service age killed or injured by a drone strike.

    • Unmanned ‘Killer Robots’: A New Weapon in the US Navy’s Future Arsenal?

      The report further points out that real problems will arise holding people accountable for wrongful actions of autonomous weapon systems (e.g., striking the wrong target) – an “accountability gap” as the study calls it. Thus, technological problems may perhaps be only one obstacle to overcome before the future use of autonomous “killer robots” in the U.S. military.

    • Boston, Blowback, and Barack Obama

      Obama is a skilled murderer in a wide range of places. While his “cowboy” predecessor George W. Bush has him beat by far on total body count (thanks to “the American-led war in Iraq”), Obama takes the prize when it comes to geographical scope. According to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism last January, “At least 2,464 people have now been killed by US drone strikes outside the country’s declared war zones [Iraq and Afghanistan] since President Barack Obama’s inauguration six years ago.” The Nobel champion’s drones, bombs, missiles, and Special Forces have wreaked havoc in many more Muslim nations than were invaded by Bush’s troops, something that has helped Washington spread and intensify Salafist jihad across a much broader territory (including Libya, Yemen, Somalia, and Syria) in the Age of Obama

    • Obama Approved Illegal Drone Killings
    • Can the President Legally Kill Americans?

      Obama’s secret execution approval process denies citizens due process.

    • America’s New ‘Lend-Lease’ for Drones

      Lawmakers are pushing Obama take a page out of the World War II playbook—and let Jordan borrow Predator drones to keep the terror group at bay.

    • American violence from Ferguson to Fallujah

      It is the same professional methodical coldness with which the drone operator kills. In his book, Chamayou argues that assassination, combat, and law enforcement have become jumbled together in US counterinsurgency programs. He wants to re-separate them. He points out that the Obama administration has defended drone strikes as justified by both the laws of war and the norms of law enforcement, even though the legal frameworks regulating war and policing are quite different, indeed often opposed. Under the laws of war, combatants are excused from the usual prohibition against killing, but on condition that they kill in carefully circumscribed ways. The killing is of and by combatants, and must take place in a declared war zone, within which soldiers are free to kill their enemy counterparts at will, even shooting them in the back, unless the target is trying to surrender. Those engaged in law enforcement, on the other hand, can hunt criminals more freely across space, but killing them is considered a last resort, justified only by exceptional circumstances. Quoting UN Special Rapporteur Philip Alston, Chamayou writes that in law enforcement, “the use of lethal force should remain the exception … it is permissible only if it is the sole available means in the face of a threat that is ‘instant, overwhelming, and leaving no choice of means, and no moment for deliberation.’”

    • U.S. Law Students Criticize Architect of Obama’s Illegal Targeted Killing Program, Law Professors Defend Him, Repress and Intimidate Students

      The gravity of targeted killings via drones and the factual basis upon which we built our petition warranted this expression of disaffection. Academic institutions, after all, are supposed to be places for honest and critical debates. At times, we have known NYU Law to be such a place—that is, a setting where compassionate and thoughtful people confront, rather than dismiss uncomfortable facts.

    • ‘Kill Chain’ Author Andrew Cockburn LIVE

      Journalist Andrew Cockburn joins Alyona to discuss his new book, “Kill Chain: The Rise of the High-Tech Assassins,” and the evolution of technology in warfare.

    • Former US Drone Operator – Brandon Bryant

      Brandon Bryant’s story provides a rare glimpse into a secret world and raises questions about the nature of 21st Century warfare.

    • The Guardian view on robots as weapons: the human factor

      Drone wars signal a future in which weapons may think for themselves.

    • The Navy is Preparing To Launch Swarm Bots Out of Cannons

      The U.S. Navy will launch up to 30 synchronized drones within one minute, possibly from a single cannon-like device, in what marks a significant advance in robot autonomy. The drones, when airborne, will then unfold their wings and conduct a series of maneuvers and simulated missions with very little human guidance over the course of 90 minutes.

    • US Navy’s drone cannon

      The US Navy says its system will be able to launch a 30 drone ‘swarm’ in under a minute. They will then be able to fly together to carry out missions. The US Navy says the drones are a ‘new era in autonomy and unmanned systems for naval operations’.

    • I Just Asked Erik Prince To Stop Bribing Politicians

      “It’s bad enough to be creating more profit incentive for war,” I told former head of Blackwater Erik Prince, “but you recycle part of the profits as bribes for more war in the form of so-called campaign contributions. You yourself have given hundreds of thousands of dollars to political parties and candidates. The three of you,” I said, referring to Prince, another guest, and the host of a television show that had just finished filming and was taking questions from the audience, “you seem to agree that we need either mercenaries or a draft, ignoring the option of not having these wars, which kill so many people, make us less safe, drain the economy, destroy the natural environment, and erode our civil liberties, with no upside. But this systemic pressure has been created for more war. Will you, Erik Prince, commit to not spending war profits on elections?”

    • The US and Israel: Diverging interests

      It is often alleged that the basis for US-Israeli relations lies in “shared concerns and interests”. However, what really holds the relationship together is a systemic aspect of American politics: the system of special interest lobbying and the money that underlies it. That practice is just about as old as the country itself, and the Zionist lobby is a past-master at exploiting this system. With the Supreme Court rulings telling us that political spending and donations are forms of free speech, this rather perverse aspect of US politics is not going to change in the foreseeable future.

    • Here’s what would really happen if the US bombed Iran

      Last week, Republican Senator Tom Cotton criticized President Obama’s nuclear deal framework with Iran, saying Obama was refusing to admit that airstrikes against Iran’s nuclear facilities would only take “several days” and wouldn’t require any longer-term military commitment to be effective. Obama, he said, was offering a “false choice” between the deal and war.

    • Congress to Have Say in Iran Deal After Obama Backs Down
    • Culture and war

      The lead editorial in today’s New York Times titled “Iraq’s cycles of Revenge,” reminds me of my thoughts about sword-rattling in America before we invaded Iraq in 2003. It was clear that President Bush and his advisers were considering an invasion of Iraq, which I felt would be a grave mistake. Even in my wildest flights of the mind, however, I didn’t begin to imagine the damage that the American invasion of Iraq would cause. Even though I didn’t imagine the destruction that our invasion of Iraq would bring about I was right on one essential point. I understood that by intervening in Iraq we were exposing ourselves to the terrible risks of waging war in a part of the world where revenge is a main part of, if not the driving force within ,the overall culture.

    • The next US president could be dangerously clueless about foreign policy

      It’s already election season in the United States, and that means it’s time to start hearing from people who believe they’re uniquely qualified to run America’s wars, drones, nuclear deals, trade partnerships, and everything else.

      There are already a handful of front-runners. And when it comes to foreign policy, unfortunately for us all, they’ve each said things that are — to put it gently — a little out of touch with reality.

      Hopefully they’ll brush up on world affairs before really hitting the campaign trail. Until then, here are a few of the clueless things that they’ve said about the rest of the world.

    • War: It’s Human Nature only if Collective Suicide is Natural

      Now, we all know that resentment and blame are tools of war propaganda. So, in Mary’s defense and mine: neither of us called anybody a name in the presence of that person or proposed to harm any person or armed ourselves with massive machinery of death in preparation for books going missing or a basketball team losing. I didn’t put any Michigan State fans on a kill list and blow them and everyone near them to bits with hellfire missiles. Neither of us launched any invasions.

    • Peace: More Normal and Wonderful Than We Think

      If we want war to end, we are going to have to work to end it. Even if you think war is lessening – by no means an uncontroversial claim – it won’t continue doing so without work. And as long as there is any war, there is a significant danger of widespread war. Wars are notoriously hard to control once begun. With nuclear weapons in the world (and with nuclear plants as potential targets), any war-making carries a risk of apocalypse. War-making and war preparations are destroying our natural environment and diverting resources from a possible rescue effort that would preserve a habitable climate. As a matter of survival, war and preparations for war must be completely abolished, and abolished quickly, by replacing the war system with a peace system.

    • ‘Americans used plane, not drone in Mamasapano’
    • PNP officials face more grilling at House

      Rep. Luz Ilagan of Gabriela said the executive session is important because she will be able to get answers to her questions related to the alleged involvement of the US in the Mamasapano operation.

      “The resource persons were very cagey . . . We can extract this info. Unfortunately it may not be shared with the public and the media,” Ilagan said.

      While matters discussed in the executive session cannot be divulged publicly, Pagdilao said these will have a bearing in the evaluation and result of the House inquiry.

      He added that the report should be finished by the time the ad hoc panel tasked to review the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) will resume its hearings.

      Over 60 people were killed in Mamasapano, Maguindanao including 44 members of the SAF who were in an operation to capture Marwan and his protégé Abdulbasit Usman. Members of the MILF and civilians were also among the casualties.

      The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has confirmed that the police commandos were able to kill Marwan.

    • Podcast: Tell us the whole truth about your drone killing program, ACLU chief warns White House

      The US government’s tactic of releasing details about its targeted killing programme in only a piecemeal way is “very dangerous”, the American Civil Liberties Union warns in this week’s Drone News.

      Jameel Jaffer, the ACLU’s deputy legal director, tells the Bureau’s Owen Bennett-Jones that for the sake of accountability it is vital to understand the reasons why targets are selected for execution – and this can only come through the fullest transparency.

    • Australian citizen on US drone “kill list”

      A front-page article in last Friday’s Australian reported that, for the first time, an Australian citizen—Mostafa Farag—had been placed on the Obama administration’s “kill list” for assassination by drone attack. The lack of any response, let alone criticism, from any section of the Australian political and media establishment underscores not only its support for Washington’s criminal actions but its contempt for democratic rights at home.

    • Drone Strike Kills al-Qaeda Cleric in Yemen—But are clerics lawful military targets?

      The initial reports of the death of al-Rubaysh do not state whether he was the target of the alleged U.S. drone strike. If he was, a key legal and moral question that major media outlets (AP, NYT, etc.) are not asking: is a cleric like al-Rubaysh a legitimate military target?

    • SC dismisses petition seeking halt to drone strikes

      The Supreme Court rejected on Monday petition filed against the federal government to put an end to the drone program launched by the United States in the tribal areas, Express News reported.

    • SC rejects petition seeking stoppage of drone attack

      The Supreme Court Monday dismissed a petition that sought direction to the federal government to stop drone attacks, which had killed hundreds of people in the Federal Administered Tribal Areas (FATA).
      A three-member bench headed by Justice Saqib Nisar, hearing the petition filed by Syed Muhammad Iqtidar remarked that the court could not issue a war order to stop the drone attacks, adding the petition did not fall under the jurisdiction of Article 184 (3).

    • Op-Ed: CIA-linked Libyan armed forces head General Haftar is untouchable

      There is ample evidence to show that General Khalifa Haftar is untouchable no matter what he does to directly snub his nose at the UN-supported peace talks promoted by the U.S. and other countries.

    • Military strikes not answer to Libya

      U.S. President Barack Obama and Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi on Friday urged a political solution to the conflict in Libya, saying foreign military operations were unlikely to solve the crisis there.

    • Libya stability key to migrant crisis: Renzi

      Restoring stability in Libya is the only way to solve the migrant crisis in the Mediterranean, Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi said Friday, as President Barack Obama warned re-establishing peace could not be achieved by military force.

    • Up to 700 feared dead after migrant boat sinks off Libya

      Twenty eight people were rescued in the incident, which happened in an area just off Libyan waters, 120 miles south of the southern Italian island of Lampedusa

    • Gunfire and explosions heard in Libyan capital

      Clashes broke out in a district and a suburb of Libya’s capital on Saturday, home to groups opposing an alternative government controlling Tripoli and parts of western Libya, residents said.

    • Turkish consulate comes under molotov attack in Greece

      The Turkish Consulate General building in the Greek city of Thessaloniki was struck by Molotov cocktails several times during a demonstration against high-security prisons Friday night, consulate sources told the Anadolu Agency.

    • Sale of U.S. Arms Fuels the Wars of Arab States

      To wage war in Yemen, Saudi Arabia is using F-15 fighter jets bought from Boeing. Pilots from the United Arab Emirates are flying Lockheed Martin’s F-16 to bomb both Yemen and Syria. Soon, the Emirates are expected to complete a deal with General Atomics for a fleet of Predator drones to run spying missions in their neighborhood.

    • Pakistani Court Rejects Petition to Stop US Drone Strikes
    • Pakistan top court denies petition challenging US drone strikes
    • Pakistan Could End Up Charging CIA Officials With Murder Over Drone Strikes

      A landmark case may open the door for a possible multibillion-dollar class-action lawsuit launched by relatives of the alleged 960 civilian victims of U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan

    • Americans with illegal Iraq War souvenirs go unprosecuted

      As the elected Iraqi government seeks diplomatic respect and struggles to save its ancient sites from the rampages of the Islamic State group, American military members, contractors and others caught with culturally significant artifacts they brought home from the war there are going largely unprosecuted.

      Years after the war, swords, artifacts and other items looted from Saddam Hussein’s palaces are still turning up for sale online and at auctions, and in some cases U.S. agents have traced them to American government employees, who took them as souvenirs or war trophies.

    • China, Taiwan, Japan and The U.S. In the West Pacific

      The pictures also show that China is building similar infrastructure in two other places, Johnson South Reef and Gaven Reefs. This naturally put the U.S. at extreme unease. The U.S. Office of Naval Intelligence has just published its first report on the Chinese navy since 2009, and says that China “appears to be building much larger facilities that could eventually support both maritime law enforcement and naval operations.”

    • Neocon ‘Chaos Promotion’ in the Mideast
    • The Kremlin and the Neocons

      According to Clark, Wolfowitz said: “We should have gotten rid of Saddam Hussein. The truth is, one thing we did learn is that we can use our military in the Middle East and the Soviets won’t stop us. We’ve got about five or 10 years to clean up those old Soviet client regimes – Syria, Iran (sic), Iraq – before the next great superpower comes on to challenge us.”

      It’s now been more than 10 years, of course. But do not be deceived into thinking Wolfowitz and his neocon colleagues believe they have failed in any major way. The unrest they initiated keeps mounting – in Iraq, Syria, Libya, Somalia, Lebanon – not to mention fresh violence now in full swing in Yemen and the crisis in Ukraine. Yet, the Teflon coating painted on the neocons continues to cover and protect them in the “mainstream media.”

      [...]

      A week after it became clear that the neocons were not going to get their war in Syria, I found myself at the main CNN studio in Washington together with Paul Wolfowitz and former Sen. Joe Lieberman, another important neocon. As I reported in “How War on Syria Lost Its Way,” the scene was surreal – funereal, even, with both Wolfowitz and Lieberman very much down-in-the-mouth, behaving as though they had just watched their favorite team lose the Super Bowl.

    • Ask Hillary and the GOP: Why Are We the Country of War?

      In 1952, the British government asked the U.S administration for assistance in removing the democratically-elected Prime Minster Mosaddeq. The CIA then covertly helped the MI6 take Mosaddeq out of power and funneled money to General Fazlollah Zahedi’s regime. Afterwords, the U.S and Britain put a pro-west leader, who they called the Shah, into power. Over the course of his regime, the Shah ruled brutally and implemented pro-western policies that caused disdain for his leadership.

      Then, in 1979, the Iranian people, fed up with the Shah, violently revolted against him in what is know as the Iranian Revolution. After the revolution, the Iranian people replaced the Shah with an Islamic Republic under the Grand Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. Soon afterwords, the U.S helped prop up Saddam Hussein and sold chemical weapons to him in order to fight Iran and their new Islamic Republic. This all escalated to what is now known as the Gulf War and the Iraq War.

      The last example is referred to as Operation Cyclone. During the Cold War, the Soviet Union tried to expand its control into Afghanistan. In order to prevent expansion, the CIA supplied and trained Islamic militant groups to fight the Soviet Union upon expansion. The most prominent group was called the Mujahideen. Operation Cyclone was one of the longest and most expensive CIA operations ever undertaken.

    • Reining In Soldiers of Fortune

      But fewer people remember the Haditha massacre of 2005, when a squad of United States Marines murdered 24 innocent Iraqis in a revenge killing spree. It started when one of their Humvees hit an improvised mine, killing one and injuring two more. The squad immediately killed five people in the street. They then went house to house, and killed 19 more civilians, ranging in age from 3 to 76. Many were shot multiple times at close range, some still in their pajamas. One was in a wheelchair.

    • The Nasty Blowback from America’s Wars
    • ‘Mission Accomplished’ (Yet Again)

      Today, we know that those combat operations had barely begun. Almost 12 years later, with the Obama administration pursuing a bombing campaign in Iraq and Syria against the Islamic State, they have yet to end. On only one thing was President Bush right: with the invasion of Iraq, a new era had indeed been launched. His top officials and their neoconservative allies imagined the moment as the coronation of a new order in the Middle East, the guarantee of another American half-century or more of domination. Iraq, that crucial state in the oil heartlands of the planet, was to be garrisoned for decades (on the “Korea model”); the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad was to be brought to heel; and above all, fundamentalist Iran was to be crushed. That country’s rulers were to find themselves in an ever-tightening geopolitical vise, with American Iraq on one side and American Afghanistan on the other. (A quip of the moment caught the mood of Washington and its high-flown hopes perfectly: “Everyone wants to go to Baghdad. Real men want to go to Tehran.”) The Bush administration would ensure that the great blemish on the American half-century in the region, the reversal of the CIA’s coup by Ayatollah Khomeini in 1979 and the humiliation of having American diplomats taken hostage for 444 days in Tehran — would be wiped away. The regime of the Ayatollahs was soon to be history.

      Of course, it all turned out so unimaginably otherwise, leaving us today knee-deep in the chaos of that “new era.” Shock and awe, indeed! The American half-century has been swept away as definitively as was the Soviet Cold-War version of the same before it. Someday, the disastrous invasion of Iraq will have its historian and we’ll understand more fully just what that moment really launched, what forces already building in the region it let devastatingly loose. It certainly blew a hole in the heart of the Middle East in ways we have yet to come to grips with and prepared the ground, as dynamite does a construction site, for the disintegration of both the European and the American versions of “order” in the region, as well as for the building of we know not what… yet.

    • Why extremists hate us

      But both terrorists themselves and those who study them present a dramatically different explanation. Osama bin Laden himself, for example, said the 9/11 attack reflected his deep anger at America’s Middle East policies. He was appalled by the hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children who died from lack of food and medicine due to American sanctions and resented the deployment of American forces throughout the Gulf states, particularly in his own homeland, Saudi Arabia. He repeated such sentiments many times.

      American authorities did not consider them mere propaganda. Michael Scheur, the CIA’s top Middle East specialist, accepted that Mr. bin Laden “has been precise in telling America the reasons he is waging war on us. None of the reasons have anything to do with our freedom, liberty, and democracy, but have everything to do with U.S. policies and actions in the Muslim world.”

    • Rand Paul In 2011 Book: U.S. Intervention Increased Threat Of Islamic Terrorism
    • US Drone Strike Kills Four in North Waziristan

      Slaying anonymous tribesmen has been mostly without consequence for the US drone program, apart from growing anti-US sentiment in the area. One exception was a 2009 strike which killed three civilians, and which has led to murder charges against a former CIA station chief.

    • Former chief of staff to Powell: U.S. involvement in Iraq disturbed “balance of power,” Iran key to region’s stability

      Two days before he’d tell the United Nations that Iraq was training al-Qaida operatives to use chemical weapons, then-Secretary of State Colin Powell dragged his chief of staff into a private room at Central Intelligence Agency headquarters in Langley, Va.

    • American spies could have ordered Yemen airstrikes killing dozens of innocent civilians

      American spooks may have been partly to blame for horrific civilian casualties in Yemen, human rights campaigners claimed.

      Dozens of non-military Yemenis were slaughtered and at least 11 injured in Saudi Arabia’s air-strikes on local factories last month.

      But it is suspected that US special forces and CIA officers on the ground may have helped call in the strikes last month by Saudi warplanes.

    • Euromaidan Was Special Operation by US, Poland – Polish MEP

      A European MP and leader of Poland’s conservative KORWiN party said that the 2014 Euromaidan riots in Kiev were organized by the CIA and also by Polish spooks.

    • From Utah to the ‘darkest corners of the world’: the militarisation of raid and rescue

      The evocative imagery used in militant activism fails to address the historical underpinnings of trafficking and slavery while reinforcing neo-colonial representations of the ‘saviour’ and the ‘saved.’

    • ISLAM, A FORGOTTEN HOLOCAUST, AND AMERICAN HISTORICAL AMNESIA

      In a September 2014 address to the nation, President Obama attacked ISIL (or ISIS) as “terrorists… unique in their brutality. They execute captured prisoners. They kill children.”1 But of course such terrorism in the last half-century is hardly “unique.” Nor is it unprecedented. Still less is it confined to America’s foes. In fact the first major Muslim extermination campaign against civilians killed without trial for their “Westernness,” occurred a half century ago, on a far, far vaster scale, and with active American support and encouragement.

    • US ‘handed Cambodia to butcher’, ambassador recalls

      Twelve helicopters, bristling with guns and US Marines, breached the morning horizon and began a daring descent toward Cambodia’s besieged capital. Residents believed the Americans were rushing in to save them, but at the US Embassy, in a bleeding city about to die, the ambassador wept.

      Forty years later, John Gunther Dean recalls one of the most tragic days of his life — April 12, 1975, the day the United States “abandoned Cambodia and handed it over to the butcher.”

    • Today in history, and birthdays
    • Vietnam in the Battlefield of Memory

      On the war’s 50th anniversary, peace activists will be challenging the Pentagon’s whitewashed history.

    • Forty Years Ago: Victory In Vietnam! History and Reflections

      Over four million were killed in Washington’s aggressive war upon a very poor largely peasant society beginning in the mid-1950s when the U.S. took over from the defeated French colonialist armies. France had occupied and oppressed Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia (Indochina) for over 100 years, then it became America’s turn. U.S. bombings killed at least a million more people in Laos and Cambodia.

    • Rory Kennedy’s Oscar-Nominated ‘Last Days in Vietnam’ Finds Some Nobility Amid the Ruins

      It is one of the iconic images of the Vietnam war: a line of desperate citizens climbing to the top of a building to board one of the last American helicopters leaving before the North Vietnamese invade Saigon. Though most remember it as a photograph of the U.S. Embassy, it was actually a neighboring building, and most of the men and women were CIA station personnel, not civilians, “but it indicated to what extent chaos had descended on this entire operation,” says Frank Snepp, a CIA analyst who was there that day. Even our shared memories of the Vietnam War are wrong.

    • Ward Just Looks Back at Writing Career Full of Secrets

      “There was a certain amount of lying going on,” he says. “But what I thought much more interesting was the wishful thinking … people who looked into the maw and said “it’s gonna be alright,” just out of sheer belief,” he says.

    • Journalist Richard Engel’s 2012 kidnapping account was part of drive to war with Syria

      In December 2012, NBC chief correspondent Richard Engel and five other members of a news team were allegedly kidnapped in Syria near the Turkish border. According to Engel, the gunmen claimed to be Shiite supporters of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad. After five days, the NBC newsman said at the time, the news team was rescued by anti-Assad Sunni rebels in a gun battle.

    • Time for Washington to be held accountable for war crimes in Iraq – Sponeck

      The term “regime change,” widely used among the United States’ policy-makers has no basis in international law; US-organized “regime change” operations have never solved international conflicts but have only led to incessant civil wars and fierce internal strife, Hans von Sponeck, former UN humanitarian coordinator for Iraq, noted, according to Sputnik.

      “Following years of clandestine co-operation between US spies and Iraqi opposition groups, the US Congress came out into the open by approving the Iraq Liberation Act, which stated that US policy should seek to ‘support efforts to remove the regime headed by Saddam Hussein’.”

      Curiously enough, the Act was signed by US President Clinton on October 31, 1998, and five years later a full-scale military campaign was launched by George W. Bush under an utterly false pretext.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

    • Five years after spill, Gulf Coast waits for fine money

      Five years after the massive BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill, Gulf Coast communities are still waiting for the billions promised to help them recover from the nation’s worst environmental disaster.

      Local officials and environmentalists from the five affected states — Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas — have taken steps to identify which projects would be financed with fine money paid by BP.

    • The Drought Isn’t California’s Only Water Problem

      In 1997, this little fish was listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. It made an easy target: dry faucets, fallow fields, and dessicated lawns all to save a fish the size of a newborn’s pecker. Don’t judge. These farmers and cities have been worried about California’s water situation for a lot longer than you’ve been wringing your hands over almonds. Actually, you know what? Delta smelt is the almond of endangered species.

    • OPEC Global Oil Wars Threat to US Energy Advantage and Security

      The Organization of Petroleum Export Countries (OPEC) increased oil output strategy was a direct retaliatory strike at the massive U.S. oil boom not seen since the 1970s. The main feature of the war is about political dominance, relevance and survival. But while one side sees this was war the other sees it as a private matter. By flooding the market, OPEC cut international prices in half from $115 last June to $57 per barrel as of today.

    • Drought is not just a California problem

      With all the attention focused on California’s water woes, an observer might conclude that the Golden State’s drought is the exception. It isn’t. Forty states expect to see water shortages in at least some areas in the next decade, according to a government watchdog agency.

  • Finance

    • America’s political system is broken

      I have been arguing for years that the American political system is broken. Not in the way that everyone else says it is — the Democrats and Republicans unable to compromise or get anything done. Given what happens when the two major parties cooperate — “free trade” agreements that send American jobs overseas and cut wages for those that remain, wars we have no chance of winning, and tax “reform” that only benefits the extremely wealthy and the corporations they control — we could use a lot more Washington gridlock.

    • Meet The Woman Who Attacked Mario Draghi: In Her Own Words

      The biggest star of today’s ECB’s press conference was not Mario Draghi but 21-year-old German feminist, Josephine Witt, an ex-Femen activist who jumped on Draghi’s desk wearing an “ECB Dick-tatorship”, a slogan she repeatedly screamed as she was led away by security guards. She threw paper copies of her demands at Mr Draghi, while showering him with confetti that were created from her finely chopped up manifesto.

    • WikiLeaks’ emails show Cuomo’s fundraising push at Sony

      The emails drew criticism because New York offers the most generous film-tax breaks in the nation, and Cuomo reportedly took in $900,000 from Hollywood for his political campaign since taking office in 2011.

      In one email dated Jan. 6, 2014, a Sony executive urged CEO Michael Lynton to have the company raise $50,000 by July for Cuomo’s re-election bid.

    • Thousands March Against TTIP in Germany

      The mobilization day organized by alterglobalization movement Attac found great success in Germany. Over 200 German cities held protests Saturday against the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) currently being negotiated between the European Union and the United States.

    • Obama nominates Szubin as Treasury undersecretary for terrorism, financial crimes

      Szubin has been director of the Treasury Department’s Office of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence since 2006, where he played a key role in devising U.S. economic sanctions against Iran and Russia.

    • Obama taps Adam Szubin as sanctions czar

      Szubin, nominated Thursday to be undersecretary for terrorism and financial crimes, would if confirmed by the US Senate be the third Jewish undersecretary in the role.

    • Raul Castro’s Photo-Op With a War Monger

      Obama speaks with his usual florid lexicon about “an historic turning point”. But the fact is that the US still maintains its economic stranglehold on Cuba. This American boot on Cuba’s neck has been condemned around the world in the forum of the United Nations General Assembly and among Latin American nations. Yet still the American boot remains firmly in place. Obama will be long out of White House and the gung-ho US Congress will ensure that the strangulation of Cuba will continue.

    • Obama’s «Diplomacy» Masks His Bullying at Jamaica and Panama Summits
    • Ben Bernanke is going to advise one of Wall St.’s biggest hedge funds

      As Fortune predicted (tongue-in-cheek), it looks like blogging alone isn’t going to pay Ben Bernanke’s bills for long.

    • On welfare in Kansas? These are taboo

      Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback signed a bill Thursday instructing poor families about what they can’t spend their state cash assistance on.

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

    • US revives MSM propaganda arm in ‘big way’ against Russia

      The US media industry has been the arm of the government for decades, but now the Cold War tool is being resurrected in a “big way” to tackle any Russian influence on the information flow, foreign affairs expert Richard Becker told RT.

    • 10 Shocking Conspiracy Theories Which Were Actually True

      A lot of theories are written off as conspiracy by the public because they are just too wild to believe, or if they were to be true, they are too shameful and shocking to comprehend. Sometimes these theories spread like wildfire because they sound so crazy, but a recent study by political scientists Eric Oliver and Thomas Wood showed that 50% of Americans believe in at least one conspiracy theory. Though they may seem unreal, some of these conspiracy theories end up being true, and test the limits of possibility. Here are ten of those theories that, as it turns out, weren’t just a figment of someone’s imagination.

    • Tell Us No Lies

      John Pilger, an Australian based journalist and filmmaker in London, has been subjected to persistent abuse, in Britain and his native Australia, for his reportage that spreads over last 50 years across Vietnam, Cambodia, East Timor, Burma and Palestine. One of his books ‘Tell Me No Lies’, is an anthology of write-ups from diverse people like Edward Said, Seymour Hersh, James Cameron and some committed reporters. The book ranges across many of the critical events, scandals and struggles of the past, exposing the lies perpetuated through media by the people in power.

    • Fresh Air Remembers Historian Stanley Kutler

      We’re going to remember historian Stanley Kutler. He died Tuesday at the age of 80. Kutler helped uncover some of the dark secrets of the Nixon administration. Some of Nixon’s secretly recorded White House tapes were released in April 1974. Nixon resigned that August.Nixon tried to prevent the release of the remaining tapes, but in 1992 Kutler and the advocacy group Public Citizen sued the National Archives which led to the 1996 release of about 200 more hours of Nixon White House tapes. Those recordings detail how the Nixon administration tried to destroy Daniel Ellsberg who leaked the Pentagon papers and how the group of former CIA agents known as the Plumbers broke into the office of Ellsberg’s psychiatrist looking for incriminating information.

  • Censorship

    • Prof. Andrew Pessin is latest victim of anti-Israel thought police

      Every time I learn about the latest antics of the anti-Israel thought police on university campuses, I find myself offering silent thanks that they are, for the moment, just thought police. Because if these kids and their faculty supporters ran a real police force, the pro-Israel students and academics they didn’t manage to arrest would be driven underground.

    • Censorship has got worse: Patwardhan

      Sunday saw the city host the second edition of Litmus Festival, and the weighty speakers ensured that Bengalureans went home intellectually satiated.

    • BuzzFeed’s censorship problem

      Earlier this week, Gawker broke the news that BuzzFeed Beauty Editor Arabelle Sicardi has resigned from the site. She wrote a piece last week criticizing a Dove soap advertising campaign that BuzzFeed deleted and later republished at the direction of Editor in Chief Ben Smith. Her resignation is the latest chapter in the evolving “DoveGate” scandal.

    • 15 Feminist Artists Respond To The Censorship Of Women’s Bodies Online

      In March, artist and poet Rupi Kaur uploaded an image to Instagram, depicting Kaur curled up on the bed in sweats and a t-shirt. She’s also on her period, and the blood has dripped through her pants onto the sheets. The image was flagged and removed from Instagram — twice.

    • Climate censorship gains popularity in states

      Various people in Florida and Wisconsin might find climate censorship as humorous but other states have not been seen laughing over it. Contrastingly political and environmental experts have asked this news to be used as a model.

      Florida Gov. Rick Scott became the leader of this potential trend last month when news emerged that he had ordered environmental staffers not to use the terms “climate change” or “global warming” in communications or reports. Wisconsin established a similar policy this month, voting to ban staffers who manage thousands of acres of forests from working on or talking about global warming.

    • A Poster Child for Misguided Censorship

      Two weeks ago, a group of Harvard College students launched Renegade, a magazine that seeks to provide an outlet for students of color on Harvard’s campus. This past week, the Crimson reported that several posters parodying the publication had been posted in Pforzheimer House. The House Masters subsequently issued a statement condemning the fake posters, while also indicating their intention to remove the satirical posters

  • Privacy

    • SEC Boss Can’t Keep Her Story Straight On Whether Or Not SEC Snoops Through Your Emails Without A Warrant

      For many years now, we’ve been writing about the need for ECPA reform. ECPA is the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, written in the mid-1980s, which has some frankly bizarre definitions and rules concerning the privacy of electronic information. There are a lot of weird ones but the one we talk about most is that ECPA defines electronic communications that have been on a server for 180 days or more as “abandoned,” allowing them to be examined without a warrant and without probable cause as required under the 4th Amendment. That may have made sense in the 1980s when electronic communications tended to be downloaded to local machines (and deleted), but make little sense in an era of cloud computing when the majority of people store their email forever on servers. For the past few years, Congress has proposed reforming ECPA to require an actual warrant for such emails, and there’s tremendous Congressional support for this.

    • A CIA-backed company may be scanning all your Facebook chats

      If you thought your Facebook chats are safe from prying eyes, you’re apparently wrong. Bosnadev says that Facebook’s chats are being scanned by a CIA-funded company, a discovery Bosnadev made after looking into some unusual activity on a website triggered by a link present in a Facebook chat.

    • Facebook Chats Are Safe? New Reports Reveal It’s Monitored By CIA-Funded Firm

      According to the post, the group built an app that was never published and posted its link in Facebook through a private chat box. They then noticed some unusual activity after keeping track of any attempt to access the link.

      “During the testing of an application we’ve set up in a non-published area we have noticed some unusual activity,” said Bosnadev. “The link for the app was sent via Facebook chat and afterwards comes the interesting part.”

    • Your Facebook Chats Are Being Monitored By CIA-Funded Agencies

      Recorded Future is an American-Swedish firm which identifies real-time online risks through web-based source collecting and analyzing. These include analyzing links that have never been published anywhere else.

    • Recorded Future Explains Why People Thought It Was Crawling Your Facebook Chats

      The public site Recorded Future is referencing is Pastebin. A commenter on the original post laid out what happened: Some time after the URL was published, it was posted to Pastebin, which is a public text repository, like imgur. There, it was crawled by Recorded Future.

    • Recorded Future Has Raised $12M for Its Cyber-Threat Web Crawling Service
    • Mass surveillance can never prevent terrorism fully: Snowden

      “Even the most extensive monitoring system would never be able to make us perfectly safe from terrorism,” Snowden said, while taking part in a debate via video link, which was broadcasted by Ansa News agency.

      “Yet, mass surveillance is often used by intelligence agencies to spy on citizens regardless if a crime is being committed or not,” he added.

    • Burner promotion shows how much phone numbers reveal

      It can be unsettling to watch a computer spit out your personal information before it even knows your name. Especially when the information appears in a terminal font, superimposed over a map of your area.

      That’s probably what you’ll see if you take the Burner Challenge, which uses your phone number to show you just how much information those digits can reveal – everything from names of acquaintances, to lists of old employers, to your current and previous addresses. And it’s all gleaned from public sources.

    • Groups push to end NSA spying before June

      The National Security Agency’s authority to collect the phone records of millions of people is scheduled to end on June 1, and a bipartisan privacy coalition of 39 organizations wants to make sure it stays that way.

    • Congress May Scrap Patriot Act’s Data Collection Program
  • Civil Rights

    • Is This Justice? Charging an Eighth Grader with a Felony for “Hacking”

      A 14-year-old eighth grader in Florida, Domanik Green, has been charged with a felony for “hacking” his teacher’s computer. The “hacking” in this instance was using a widely known password to change the desktop background of his teacher’s computer with an image of two men kissing. The outrage of being charged with a felony for what essentially amounts to a misguided prank should be familiar to those who follow how computer crimes are handled by our justice system.

    • When Bolivia Tried to Murder a US Folk Legend

      Uruguay was polarized between between revolutionaries and a militaristic right wing. Nueva Cancion performers and other musicians rooted in the working-class struggle were heavily repressed alongside political activists and suspected guerrillas. The members of Camerata and Daniel Viglietti were arrested, and singer Mercedes Sosa was banned from the country entirely. Singer Braulio Lopez was arrested and tortured there before being sent to prison for a year in Argentina.

    • Sen. Dianne Feinstein Urges Pentagon To End ‘Unnecessary’ Force-Feeding At Guantánamo

      Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the vice-chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, recently sent a letter to Ashton Carter, the new defense secretary, urging him to “end the unnecessary force-feedings of detainees at the Guantánamo Bay detention facility.”

    • Why Failure Doesn’t Daunt the National Security State

      Years ago, Chalmers Johnson took a term of CIA tradecraft, “blowback,” and put it into our language. Originally, it was meant to describe CIA operations so secret that, when they blew back on this country, Americans would be incapable of tracing the connection or grasping that the U.S. had anything to do with what hit us. The word now stands in more broadly for any American act or policy that rebounds on us. There is, however, another phenomenon with, as yet, no name that deserves some attention. I’ve come to think of it as “blowforward.”

    • Newman/My Turn: Fiction that rings too true

      The Chicago police, America has learned, operate a secret interrogation facility in a nondescript warehouse called Homan Square. Prisoners — both adults and juveniles, some as young as 15 — are disappeared there, often shackled for endless hours, denied their right to counsel, and beaten. At least one man, found unresponsive in an interview room, later was pronounced dead.

    • Chicago offers $5.5 million to police torture victims

      Mayor Rahm Emmanuel and several Chicago aldermen are offering a $5.5 million reparations package for people who were tortured during the tenure of former police commander John Burge.

    • How Chicago Is Finally Coming To Grips With Its Dark History Of Police Torture

      More than 30 years after he was brutally tortured by Chicago detectives, Darrell Cannon may finally see what he calls a “measure of justice.”

    • Prison Labor Company Features Promo Video Touting “Best-Kept Secret in Outsourcing”

      Searching for the “best kept secret in outsourcing,” one that can “provide you with all the advantages” of domestic workers, but with “offshore prices”? Try prison labor!

      That’s the message of Unicor, also known as Federal Prison Industries, a government-owned corporation that employs federal workers for as little as 23 cents an hour to manufacture military uniforms, furniture, electronics and other products.

      Though FPI markets itself as an opportunity for inmates to obtain skills training, critics have attacked the program as exploitative. Small business owners have also complained that FPI’s incredibly low wages make it impossible to compete.

    • I Spent Seven Years Locked in a Human Warehouse

      I was found not guilty of the charges against me, by reason of insanity. But with the way our society operates, I may have been better off had I been motivated by evil, anger, greed or malice and been found guilty. Society understands malice. We understand retribution. But we do not understand mental illness and are often unable to see the humanity in those with mental illness. Thus, instead of being locked in a prison for three years, I was locked in a mental hospital for seven years. And I am one of the lucky ones. I know many others who have recovered from their illness but still have spent decades, even their whole lives, locked inside mental hospitals, simply because we choose to fear rather than understand mental illness. It is just so much easier and more convenient to throw people away. Many people with mental illness would love to have the rights that are given to convicted criminals.

    • Assange Calls on Obama to Revoke Executive Order on Venezuela

      WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has added his name to a growing list of Australian journalists, academics, politicians, trade unionists and solidarity activists calling on U.S. president Barack Obama to revoke his executive order against Venezuelan . On March 9, Obama issued the order which imposed sanctions on a number of Venezuelan state officials and deemed Venezuela to be an “unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States.”

    • Affleck demanded PBS program hide his slave-owning ancestor

      Ben Affleck insisted on censoring the fact that one of his ancestors owned slaves from PBS show “Finding Your Roots,” the Sony email hack has revealed.

      In a hacked Sony email from July 22, 2014, now available on WikiLeaks, the show’s host, Henry Louis Gates Jr., writes to Sony USA chief Michael Lynton asking for advice: “One of our guests has asked us to edit out something about one of his ancestors–the fact that he owned slaves. Now, four or five of our guests this season descend from slave owners, including Ken Burns. We’ve never had anyone ever try to censor or edit what we found. He’s a megastar. What do we do?”

      Lynton’s advice was to take Affleck’s family secret out of the show, as long as nobody would find out. The Sony chairman and CEO writes, “On the doc the big question is who knows that the material is in the doc and is being taken out. I would take it out if no one knows, but if it gets out that you are editing the material based on this kind of sensitivity then it gets tricky.”

    • Ben Affleck Pressured PBS to Edit Out Slave-Owning Grandfather in Ancestry Doc
    • Ben Affleck Demanded PBS Suppress His Slave-Owning Ancestry
    • Batman star Ben Affleck hid his family’s slave-owning past in TV documentary
    • Ben Affleck Reportedly Asked PBS To Censor His Slave-Owning Ancestor
    • Ben Affleck asked PBS not to reveal ancestor owned slaves – hacked emails
    • Ben Affleck ‘wanted details of slave-owning ancestors removed from documentary’ claims leaked Sony emails
    • PBS Defends Ben Affleck’s Finding Your Roots Episode, Refutes Claims That They Censored Slave-Owner Ancestry
    • Leonardo DiCaprio the ‘eco warrior’ flew on a private jet from NY to LA SIX times in SIX weeks, Sony hack documents reveal
    • Former FBI Agent Speaks Out: ‘I Was Not Protected’

      Robyn Gritz spent 16 years at the FBI, where she investigated a series of major national security threats. But she says she got crosswise with her supervisors, who pushed her out and yanked her security clearance.

      For the first time, she’s speaking out about her situation, warning about how the bureau treats women and the effects of a decade of fighting terrorism.

    • FBI can’t cut Internet and pose as cable guy to search property, judge says

      A federal judge issued a stern rebuke Friday to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s method for breaking up an illegal online betting ring. The Las Vegas court frowned on the FBI’s ruse of disconnecting Internet access to $25,000-per-night villas at Caesar’s Palace Hotel and Casino. FBI agents posed as the cable guy and secretly searched the premises.

      The government claimed the search was legal because the suspects invited the agents into the room to fix the Internet. US District Judge Andrew P. Gordon wasn’t buying it. He ruled that if the government could get away with such tactics like those they used to nab gambling kingpin Paul Phua and some of his associates, then the government would have carte blanche power to search just about any property.

    • The Future Of International Law

      We need a sense of the unity of all mankind to save the future, a new global ethic for a united world. We need politeness and kindness to save the future, politeness and kindness not only within nations but also between nations. To save the future, we need a just and democratic system of international law; for with law shall our land be built up, but with lawlessness laid waste.

    • British judge: Respect women’s right to wear veil in court

      Supreme Court president Lord Neuberger said judges must have “an understanding of different cultural and social habits,” as part of their duty to show fairness and impartiality in trials.

      [...]

      His speech comes after nearly a year after the European Court of Human Rights upheld the April 2011 ban on niqab in British courts.

    • FBI overstated forensic hair matches in nearly all trials before 2000

      The Justice Department and FBI have formally acknowledged that nearly every examiner in an elite FBI forensic unit gave flawed testimony in almost all trials in which they offered evidence against criminal defendants over more than a two-decade period before 2000.

    • Rendition expert fears police were too quick to clear CIA over torture flights landing in Scotland

      DR SAM RAPHAEL wants to know if the flights which landed at Prestwick and Glasgow Airports violated Scottish law and if Holyrood or Westminster was aware of what was going on on board.

    • Police find no evidence Scots airports used for CIA torture flights

      A Police Scotland probe into CIA flights is yet to find any evidence Scots airports were used to transport terror suspects.

    • Dying CIA Agent Claims He Assassinated Marilyn Monroe

      Dying CIA officer Normand Hodges claims he assassinated 37 people, including Marilyn Monroe. The 78-year-old said he worked for the CIA for 41 years as an operative. He also admitted to acting as a hitman for the governmental agency.

    • Dying 78 Year Old CIA Agent Admits To Killing Marilyn Monroe

      When people are on their deathbed, they have nothing to lose and nothing to gain. One of the most awe inspiring stories from the entertainment industry is that of Marilyn Monroe and the 78 year old retired CIA officer, Norman Hodges, who made some of the most ground breaking confessions ever noted from an ex CIA officer.

    • In 1960, CIA stopped Miami Herald scoop about Bay of Pigs invasion

      There were a lot of bad days during the Cold War, but 54 years ago this weekend was one of the worst, at least for the United States. President John F. Kennedy sent an army of anti-Castro exiles backed by the CIA onto the beach at Cuba’s Bay of Pigs to suffer bloody, catastrophic defeat. It was “the beating of our lives,” the despondent Kennedy would say a few days later as he wondered aloud why nobody had talked him out of it.

    • ‘Some good men’: Alabama airmen killed at Bay of Pigs to be honored today at Forest Hills Cemetery

      Four Alabama airmen killed during the ill-fated Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba will be honored by the Alabama Air National Guard in a ceremony at Forest Hills Cemetery today at 3:30 p.m., according to a news release from the Guard’s 117th Air Refueling Wing.

    • The CIA in Hollywood: How the Agency Shapes Film and Television by Tricia Jenkins

      Though everyone would surely prefer otherwise, public relations crises are part of the CIA’s ordinary business. The fact that so much of its work is classified puts the Agency in one of those tricky, plumber-like governmental roles: when it does its job right, no one should notice. But when it screws up, there’s a mess, and things smell awful.

      The nature of any covert enterprise is rigged against popularity: the Agency can’t ordinarily brag about its hard-won successes or even update Americans with news of general competence. The FBI, by contrast, gets to issue press releases detailing high-profile arrests and convictions. But with rare exceptions, the CIA hits the front page only when something has gone badly sideways.

      This asymmetry naturally gives rise to an image problem, so the CIA needs a way of loopholing if it wants to shape public perception. Fiction about the Agency—particularly television and movies, the most potent and culture-shaping mediums—has turned out to be that loophole. But it has its risks.

    • CIA Declassifies 99 Documents On Dr. Zhivago’s Publication

      The CIA just released 99 documents which laid out its plan to publish “Doctor Zhivago” in Russian for the first time in 1958, which experts believe might have been part of an agency plot to reveal the shortcomings of Soviet life.

    • US, UN Fight To Keep Rape Allegations Against Them Quiet

      As violators of human rights move to issue stronger guidelines for selective recourse and expect victims to comply, reports on past human rights violations offer invaluable testimony on the link between power and abuse. At the helm of various forms of abuse, including sexual violence, are U.S. military personnel and United Nations-affiliated personnel involved in peacekeeping operations.

      Even in instances in which it’s not been directly involved in acts of sexual violence, the United States has certainly ensured the backing of dictatorships that have committed severe sex crimes. A prime example of this is Chile under the U.S.-backed dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet from 1973 to 1990.

    • Claims of Dalai Lama’s ties to CIA reincarnated by Xinhua

      A white paper published by the Chinese government on Wednesday accused the Dalai Lama of receiving armed support from the CIA and urged the exiled Tibetan Buddhist leader to relinquish his attempt to divide China and achieve independence for Tibet, reports the state propaganda service Xinhua.

    • From diplomacy to disillusion with the Dalai Lama’s big brother

      Perhaps of greatest interest to Tibet-watchers is his account of his early involvement with the CIA, and the agency’s encouragement, sponsorship and eventual abandonment of anti-Chinese resistance inside Tibet.

    • Dalai group has got armed support from CIA: white paper

      The Dalai Lama group has got armed support from the United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), says a white paper issued on Wednesday.

    • Xinhua Insight: China issues white paper on Tibet, denouncing Dalai Lama’s “middle way”

      The Chinese government on Wednesday issued a white paper on southwest China’s Tibet Autonomous Region, lauding its development path and denouncing the “middle way” advocated by the Dalai Lama.

      The white paper, “Tibet’s Path of Development Is Driven by an Irresistible Historical Tide”, holds that Tibet’s current development path is correct.

    • China issues white paper on Tibet, denouncing Dalai Lama’s ‘middle way’

      According to the report, during the armed rebellion in Tibet in the late 1950s, the United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) not only sent agents to help the 14th Dalai Lama flee Tibet but also trained militants to support his forces and airdropped a large quantity of weaponry.

    • Pakistan’s first Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan was assassinated by America

      Nawabzada Liaquat Ali Khan, Pakistan’s first Prime Minister, was assassinated on October 16, 1951 while addressing a public meeting in the garrison city of Rawalpindi. His assassin, later identified as Saad Akbar Babrak was shot dead on the spot. Saad Akbar Babrak was an Afghan national and a professional assassin. For more than 63 years controversy continued about the motives and perpetrators after the assassination of Liaquat Ali Khan. Conspiracy theories abounded with little to substantiate. However, the controversy is now coming to end as declassified documents of the US State Department disclosed that Americans murdered the first elected prime minister of Pakistan through the Afghan government.

      The US documents, released several years ago but highlighted recently by the Pakistani media and social media.

      A leading English newspaper of Pakistan, the Nation and also the Express News reported on April 17: The United States wanted to get contracts of oil resources in Iran. Pakistan and Iran enjoyed cordial ties and Afghanistan used to be the enemy of Pakistan during 1950-51. The neighboring Afghanistan was the only country that didn’t accept Pakistan at that time.

    • Focus: Why the International Criminal Court Remains Silent [on torture]?
    • ‘Any reader of Orwell would be perfectly familiar’ with US maneuvers – Chomsky to RT

      Major American media organizations diligently parrot what US officials want the public to know about global affairs, historian Noam Chomsky told RT. To US leaders, any news outlet that “does not repeat the US propaganda system is intolerable,” he said.

    • Revisionist history

      Jeffrey, in a somewhat ingenious tactic but meretricious strategy terminated his discourse by concluding “a strategy much wider in scope had to be developed for alliance alone could not bring down the PPP.” Tucked away at the beginning 14 lines earlier his analysis did identify 1961 as the year in point, artfully omitting that in 1964 a post-electoral alliance, stage-managed by the USA/UK via the Governor of British Guiana did oust the PPP from government. This fact is made clear in a stunningly researched publication, US intervention in British Guiana: a Cold War story by Stephen G Rabe, Professor of History at the University of Texas, authographed and presented to me in 2009 by a former Senior Vice-President in the Burnham government, a Guyanese of rare erudition and universal recognition.

    • Deindustrialization, NATO-Style

      NATO’s bombing campaign against Yugoslavia in 1999 was the deliberate targeting of factories and manufacturing plants.

  • Internet/Net Neutrality

    • Net neutrality to aid Digital India drive: DoT

      After telecom and information technology minister Ravi Shankar Prasad backed an open internet three days ago, a note prepared by the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) for a meeting of the committee on net neutrality said the concept may help the government’s Digital India programme and ensure equitable and inclusive development.

    • Mark Zuckerberg Can’t Have It Both Ways on Net Neutrality

      Mark Zuckerberg says Internet.org and net neutrality “can and must coexist,” despite a backlash against his organization, which aims to bring free internet access to the developing world.

      It can’t, at least not from where users sit.

      The trouble started this week when several Indian publishers decided to remove their services from the Internet.org app, claiming the app violates the basic tenets of net neutrality. The app offers users in developing countries access to a select group of services, like Facebook, news sites, and health information, without paying data charges. That’s possible because, in the countries where Internet.org operates, the group has negotiated these terms with local carriers. The Indian publishers took issue with this setup, often referred to as “zero-rating,” arguing that giving away some services puts those services that aren’t available on the app at a disadvantage.

    • COAI calls for a debate on Net neutrality

      The Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI), whose members have been at the receiving end of the Net neutrality campaign, on Sunday called for a debate on the issue from an Indian perspective.

      “The association urges all stakeholders to have a comprehensive and informed debate on the subject of Net neutrality keeping in mind the requirements of India and its citizens,” a statement said. A subject as important and complex as Net neutrality should “not be left to the opinion of a few.”

  • DRM

    • Bill Introduced To Fix Broken DMCA Anti-Circumvention Rules

      It’s no secret that the DMCA’s section 1201 is extremely problematic. It’s the “anti-circumvention” part of the law, that makes it illegal to circumvent “technological protection measures” even if it’s for non-infringing purposes. This is a mess — especially in an age of DRM trying to lock up everything. Try to get around it, and it’s a violation of the law — even if you’re not trying to infringe on the underlying material. This is why Cory Doctorow is running a new effort to eradicate DRM with a target placed firmly on Section 1201.

    • Hacked Sony emails reveal that Sony had pirated books about hacking

      Sony doesn’t like pirates—except, perhaps, when Sony feels like pirating.

      Hacked Sony Pictures Entertainment emails, published in full on Thursday by WikiLeaks, reveal that Sony had pirated ebooks on its servers. This is particularly notable because Sony has engaged in aggressive and even illegal anti-piracy actions in the past.

    • Leaked: The MPAA’s iPad Piracy Potential Analysis

      It’s been five years since the launch of Apple’s iPad but how was the device initially received by the Hollywood studios? A leaked analysis reveals the MPAA’s hopes and fears for the ground-breaking tablet, with a few spot on predictions and a notable shift in the piracy landscape it simply didn’t envisage.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

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