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07.04.15

Links 4/7/2015: Mostly (Geo)Political Catchup

Posted in News Roundup at 9:45 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

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  • Security

  • Defence/Police/Secrecy/Aggression

    • Drones kill any chance of peace in Afghanistan

      The use of unmanned US drones in Afghanistan has stepped up since January. With the launch of the new US counterterrorism mission, Freedom Sentinel, the ongoing and intensifying drone campaign has reportedly killed around 400 people in Afghanistan over the last six months.

    • Two secret US drone bases found in Somalia

      Foreign Policy correspondent Ty McCormick found out that about 120 US military men deployed there strike Al-Shabab terrorists and reportedly cooperate with African Union peacekeepers.

    • US Running Drone Bases In Somalia
    • US Operates Top Secret Drone Bases Inside Somalia

      Already receiving fierce criticism for operating drone bases on foreign soil – sometimes without the host country’s knowledge – the US has begun expanding its operations in Africa. But according to reports, the Pentagon has been running a base in Somalia, completely in secret, to conduct drone missions and train elite Somali forces.

      [...]

      Copying an earlier CIA operation to create an elite Somali commando force, US contractors are currently using Baledogle to train a new squadron known as the Danab, or “Lightning.” The project is being overseen by Bancroft Global Development, according to Foreign Policy, but that company has denied any links with the US government.

      “We have nothing to do with the Americans,” an employee told Foreign Policy. “We’re in charge of training Danab. We have nothing to do with the Americans, and the Americans have nothing to do with us.”

      That’s because, on paper, Bancroft is responsible for training soldiers with the Somali National Army on behalf of the Ugandan government. Uganda is, in turn, reimbursed by Washington, to avoid a direct paper trail.

    • US elite forces operate a secret base in Somalia 24 years after they left the country
    • Exclusive: US Operates Drones From Secret Bases in Somalia
    • Somalia Is Home to Two Secret U.S. Drone Bases – Report
    • Somalia is home to two secret US drone bases – report

      Somali officials have confirmed a secretive US presence in the southern port city of Kismayo, according to Foreign Policy correspondent Ty McCormick. Another base, at the airfield of Baledogle near Mogadishu, is being used for both drone strikes and for contractors training Somali security forces.

    • Drones: A double edge sword in the fight against terrorism

      The U.S. Military has used drones in combat operations and counter-terrorism as early as 2002. Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicles (UCAV), commonly known as drones, and their operation have been shrouded in secrecy. The U.S. government refused to acknowledge the existence of a drone program until last year. The U.S. government argued that this was a matter of national security. Drones have proven to be a successful tool in eliminating high-value terrorist targets but their impact in combating insurgency and eliminating terrorism remains murky at best.

    • Shedding light on American drone attacks

      I’ve never lived in a place that was attacked in a drone strike. Never seen my parents or children blown to bits or had to collect their scattered, bloody body parts for a proper burial.

    • Drone war report, January – June 2015: controversial ‘signature strikes’ hit Yemen and Pakistan

      US drone and air strikes killed at least 207 people in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Somalia and Yemen so far in 2015, according to data collected by the Bureau.

    • Why People of Faith Oppose Drones

      From a range of Christian, Muslim, and Jewish perspectives, we jointly signed a letter urging the Obama administration and the U.S. Congress to halt its policy of lethal drone strikes. Despite the range of our different belief systems and ideas about warfare, we found that we shared many of the exact same questions and concerns about the drones program that led us to send this letter. Here are a few of those concerns.

    • Bomb Syria, and recruits will be rolling up to join Isis

      Michael Fallon thinks military action should be back on the table. But the past 15 years suggests use of force wouldn’t be just ineffective, it would make things worse

    • Machine ethics: The robot’s dilemma
    • 5 questions (and answers) about robots that kill people

      After sharing a story on Twitter about a robot who killed a man in Germany, Ryan Calo, professor of robotics and cyberlaw at the University of Washington School of Law, replied that it is not that unusual for robots to kill people. Naturally, I had a few questions. Here they are with Calo’s answers, including why robots aren’t going anywhere anytime soon.

    • Volkswagen worker crushed to death in robot maintenance accident

      A MAN HAS DIED in Germany after being crushed by an industrial robot. The 22 year-old worker at the Volkswagen factory in Baunatal, north of Frankfurt, was killed while a team of contractors was installing the robot.

    • Obama’s counterterrorism policy facing mounting criticism
    • New report claims F-35 outclassed by 40 year-old F-16, government disagrees

      The report, courtesy of War is Boring, describes a January 15 encounter between a single-seat F-35A in an older configuration and an F-16D Block 40. The Block 40 variant of the F-16 is newer than stock model, but still dates to 1989 — not exactly a spring chicken. The test in question was designed to measure the F-35’s ability to dogfight at high angles of attack and with aggressive maneuvering. The F-35 was flying clean, with no weapons in its bomb bays or mounted on the fuselage, while the F-16 was carrying a pair of external fuel tanks. This significantly impacts drag and limits the airplane’s overall maneuverability.

    • Presidential Follies: Torture and Drones

      My deep belief is that Presidents Obama and George W. Bush have done exactly this to our military. American taxpayer dollars have been used to encourage our intelligence officers to torture free from any risk of judicial or other consequences. If you question this assertion, you must read the Senate Intelligence Report on Torture and read for yourself what your money paid for. And as promised, no high-ranking intelligence officers have gone to prison for violating national and international laws.

    • Talking to terrorists

      Richard Jackson speaks to MEMO: “Once you listen to what their grievances are and try and address them terrorism subsides.”

    • Will your car decide to kill you?

      Imagine a fancy new autonomous luxury car is cruising down an Australian freeway at 110km, carrying a sole occupant playing Candy Crush on her smartphone.

      Meanwhile a beat-up people-mover with mum and six kids onboard blows a tyre, loses control and careers over the median strip into the path of said autonomous car.

    • Toward a Rational US Strategy (Part 1)

      The process of continuous alienation has shaped the world in which today we must live: clans gave rise to tribes; then to cultural and ethnic groups that coalesced into town and cities and in recent centuries merged into nations, of which in our times many have been hammered into states.

    • ‘Not This Clinic’: VA Calls Alleged Mistreatment of Veteran ‘Unacceptable’

      Dorsey then walks away from the counter, saying, “Wonder why 22 veterans kill themselves every day.”

    • War Crimes? Us???

      War is the business of killing the “enemy”, in order to impose your will on them.

      Therefore, “humane war” is an oxymoron.

      War itself is a crime. There are few exceptions. I would exempt the war against Nazi Germany, since it was conducted against a regime of mass murderers, led by a psychopathic dictator, who could not be brought to heel by any other means.

      This being so, the concept of “war crimes” is dubious. The biggest crime is starting the war in the first place. This is not the business of soldiers, but of political leaders. Yet they are rarely indicted.

    • Activists use court hearing to continue drone protest

      Activists cited with trespassing and interfering with traffic earlier this year at Creech Air Force Base used a court appearance today to continue their protest against U.S. armed drone strikes.

      “What do we want? Ground the drones. When do want it? Now,” protesters shouted outside the Regional Justice Center in downtown Las Vegas.

      Thirty-four people were cited March 6 at the base as protesters urged Air Force drone operators to refuse to participate in the overseas strikes.

    • The future of aerial warfare in South Asia

      To complicate matters further, the legality of the US’s aerial offensive is also highly questionable. Since 2004, only 4 per cent of all UAV strikes have resulted in Al Qaeda related casualties, whereas 76 per cent of deaths caused by drone attacks fall into a suspiciously termed legal grey area.

    • On Gaza attack anniversary; UK protesters to shut down Israeli drone factory

      A Staffordshire arms factory making engines for drones exported to Israel will be shut down by protesters on Monday 6 July, to mark the one year anniversary of Israel’s 2014 attack on Gaza.

    • Minute’s Silence For Tunisia Shooting Victims Is ‘Bulls**t’ Says Russell Brand

      Russell Brand has described the scheduled minute’s silence for the victims of the Tunisia massacre as “a minute of bullshit”.

      [...]

      A minute’s silence will be held in memory of the victims at noon on Friday, marking a week since the outrage. Flags are expected to be flown at half-mast over Government departments and Buckingham Palace.

      Brand, however, believes the move is: “An empty futile gesture part of a general policy of bullshit that our government can continue selling arms around the world and perpetuating a cycle where its own needs are met at the expense of its own citizens lives.”

      [...]

      Brand aired comments from David Cameron on BBC Radio 4 in the aftermath of the attacks, and accused the Prime Minister of propaganda, criticising him for refusing to link terror attacks with government foreign policy including bombings and drone attacks.

    • Russell Brand criticises ‘futile’ minute of silence for Tunisia shooting victims

      Brand said the source of the problem was British foreign policy, including drone attacks, arms sales to countries that abused human rights and “foreign activity in Muslim countries which obviously provokes this kind of response”.

    • Russell Brand condemns moment of silence for Tunisia attack victims as a ‘minute of bulls**t’

      …many countries had been identified as a threat by David Cameron, yet were still able to buy arms from the UK.

    • Paul Rogers: Don’t mention the war – silence over strikes on IS

      In the days after 52 people were killed in the 7/7 attacks, the Blair government was insistent that the war in Iraq had nothing whatsoever to do with the appalling massacre. That argument had to be rolled back eight weeks later when al-Jazeera screened a “martyr video” recorded by one of the bombers, Mohammad Sidique Khan.

    • Peace Convergence questions use of Heron drones usage

      THE Rockhampton Peace Convergence has condemned the use of Heron drones by the Australian Defence Force.

    • Delegates oppose drone warfare, debate Israel divestment

      Update: Delegate session leaders announced July 2 that the motion to table the Israel-Palestine divestment resolution for two years passed by a vote of 418 to 336, or 55 percent support.

    • Veterans Urge Drone Operators to Refuse Orders to Fly

      An increasing number of United States military veterans are counseling United States military drone operators to refuse to fly drone surveillance/attack missions – the veterans are even helping sponsor prime time television commercials urging drone operators to “refuse to fly.”

      In a letter released recently by KnowDrones.com, 44 former members of the US Air Force, Army, Navy and Marines whose ranks range from private to colonel and whose military service spans 60 years, “urge United States drone pilots, sensor operators and support teams to refuse to play any role in drone surveillance/assassination missions. These missions profoundly violate domestic and international laws intended to protect individuals’ rights to life, privacy and due process.”

    • On the US ‘Sensitivity’ to Civilian Deaths

      The only thing wrong with the Pentagon checking under its boots to see what and who all has been trod upon is the dishonesty of it. Two words that should not go together are “military” and “sensitivity” when speaking of dead and injured civilians. Sensitivity about the dead is for people who don’t know the victims, who had nothing to do with their demise. Does anyone require sensitivity of mass murderers, especially if they don’t appear to be interested in rehabilitation – that is, not repeating their crimes? How about stop killing people instead of being sensitive when you do?

    • Power Transitions In Saudi Arabia Spell Changes In Middle East – Analysis

      It will be deeply ironic if Yemen is the source of another king’s fall from grace.

    • Human rights in America: claims and reality

      Main concept of human rights is that all human beings have equal rights and these rights apply to everyone without interpretation.

    • Gulf News: United Nations envoy hopeful for pause in fighting despite deadly Aden clashes

      It comes after rebel rocket fire on a residential district of Aden killed 31 civilians on Wednesday and left more than 100 others wounded, according to a medical official.

    • Gulf News: United Nations envoy hopeful for pause in fighting despite deadly Aden clashes

      Rebel fire on a residential district of Yemen’s second city Aden killed more than 30 civilians Wednesday, as the UN declared its highest level humanitarian emergency in the war-torn country.

    • Inside Toronto’s secret Cold War History

      At the height of the Cold War, Toronto was the site of an elaborate game of espionage played between the U.S and the Soviet Union, declassified CIA documents show.

      The records provide new details about how the CIA and the KGB spied on the city’s growing community of eastern European immigrants.

    • The CIA’s Creation of “Islamic Terrorism” on American Soil

      The origin of these compounds for would-be jihadis dates back to 1979, when the Agency sent hundreds of radical Islamic clerics to the United States in an effort to recruit African American Muslims for the holy war against the Soviets in Afghanistan.

    • How a Dogged L.A. DEA Agent Unraveled the CIA’s Alleged Role in the Murder of Kiki Camarena

      In January 1989, Hector Berrellez reported to Los Angeles, handpicked by the head of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration to get to the bottom of a 4-year-old murder investigation that was a top agency priority. This wasn’t just another killing in the seemingly endless bloodshed in the Mexican drug wars; the victim, like Berrellez, was a DEA agent. Enrique “Kiki” Camarena had been kidnapped, tortured and murdered at the hands of a Mexican drug cartel four years earlier. The identity of the killers was clear enough; two cartel bosses had been convicted of the killings and were imprisoned in Mexico. But the DEA had reason to believe there were many more guilty parties in addition to the two capos behind bars.

    • CIA has paid millions to a consulting firm to help with reorganization

      The CIA has paid more than $10 million to a management consulting firm advising senior U.S. intelligence officials on a broad reorganization that agency Director John O. Brennan began earlier this year, current and former U.S. officials said.

      The agency also is requiring some of its departments to surrender portions of their annual budgets in an effort to collect enough money to cover other costs associated with the restructuring, officials said.

    • What I Signed on to

      We are not winning here — there is not even a promise of victory. Instead, ancestral ghosts are in formation for review. Is this still a beginning, or is it maybe a last hurrah for America? The spirit-soldiers are as stone-faced and grim as the winters at Valley Forge and the mountain fastness of the Wachtung had made them.

    • Guess How Many ‘Moderate’ Syrian Rebels Have Been Trained With Congress-Approved $500 Million?

      As with most foreign policy moves sold by the neocons and interventionists, grandiose promises of success have found themselves at odds with reality. Advocates of the program claimed that it would produce 5,400 US-trained and armed fighters per year. In fact since the money was approved last May, less than 100 are actually being trained and none has yet completed the course.

    • US Training for ‘Moderate’ Syrian Rebels Fails, CIA Can’t Find ‘Moderates’

      A crucial part of the United States’ plan to train moderate Syrian rebels to combat the self-proclaimed Islamic State terrorist group is locating those so-called “moderates.” The problem: those are becoming harder and harder to find.

    • Scott: The CIA can’t be trusted with unchecked power

      And surely it would be completely unreasonable to suggest that unlimited power might tempt our protectors to engage in things like abduction, torture and political assassination. Oh wait — the CIA has already done all those things.

    • Blowing the whistle in a war zone

      Hatley’s 2007 trial drew national attention because he was the highest-ranking service member at the time to be found guilty of premeditated murder. His investigation, arrest and conviction came to define military service for me. In the wake of the accusations, a kind of tribal mentality — “herd mentality” isn’t dynamic enough a phrase — connected many of the soldiers with whom I served. They came out strong in their defense of a leader who can best be described as a cross between legendary college football coach Bear Bryant and the Judge from Cormac McCarthy’s “Blood Meridian.” He’s huge, affable, violent, driven, competent and absolutely sure of himself.

    • Video of polygraph exam sought in Green Beret case

      The board deciding whether to remove a Fort Bragg Green Beret from service is attempting to obtain a CIA video of a polygraph exam that apparently details the 2010 killing of an Afghan bomb maker.

    • Panel urges ex-Green Beret hero out of Army with VA benefits

      An Army officer who was accused of tracking down and killing an unarmed bomb-making suspect in Afghanistan is being recommended for an honorable discharge even though a military panel that looked into the case determined his conduct was unbecoming an officer.

      The military panel at Fort Bragg reached the finding late Sunday concerning Maj. Mathew Golsteyn. Army Special Forces Command spokeswoman Maj. Allison Aguilar said Monday that if the decision is upheld by a review board Golsteyn would be discharged under honorable conditions allowing him to keep nearly all veteran’s benefits.

    • Former Russian spy who defected describes what it’s like to be broke and living in Oregon

      “I f—– up because I trusted the FBI,” Neumann told the Guardian about his past decisions. “Do not trust anything to do with the US government because they will lie to you. They promise but they don’t deliver. There is no sense in cooperating.”

    • Absolute Power

      Serving the nation means no more than doing what you’re told.

      God bless America. Flags wave, fireworks burst on the horizon. Aren’t we terrific? But this idea we celebrate — this nation, this principled union of humanity — is just a military bureaucracy, full of dark secrets. The darkest, most highly classified secret of all is that we’re always at war and we always will be. And war is an end in itself. It has no purpose beyond its own perpetuation.

    • Survivor of Israeli Attack on USS Liberty: It Could Not Have Been a Mistake (2/2)

      TRNN speaks to survivor Sgt. Bryce Lockwood and former CIA analyst Ray McGovern about the 1967 Israeli attack on the USS Liberty

    • WATCH: A Brief History of US-Iran Relations
    • Death to America?

      As the deadline for a nuclear deal between Iran and the United States looms, plenty of Americans are understandably skeptical. Many of them have probably watched images of Iranian mobs burning US flags and chants of “Death to America” at mass rallies in Tehran and wondered to themselves: “Why do they hate us?”

      Well, the good news is “they” don’t. According to the Atlantic Monthly, “A 2009 World Public Opinion poll found that 51 percent of Iranians hold a favorable opinion of Americans, a number consistent with other polls, meaning that Americans are more widely liked in Iran than anywhere else in the Middle East.”

    • Both Major U.S. Parties are Plagues on Humanity

      The two corporate parties have collaborated in knocking off countries targeted for invasion and regime change.

    • Review: The Nazis Next Door

      In the main, his book is about the CIA and FBI using and protecting ex-Nazis or former Eastern European collaborators who came to the United States, and the subsequent investigations of those people by the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) or the Justice Department’s Office of Special Investigations (OSI). The latter was formed in 1979 specifically to pursue Nazi perpetrators in view of the inadequacy of earlier efforts.

    • Ukrainian Govt. Acknowledges Some of Its Leaders Are Nazis

      On July 3rd, the Ukrainian newspaper Vesti headlined “The Ministry of Justice Acknowledges UNA-UNSO Collaborated with Nazis,” and reported that, “Ukraine’s Ministry of Justice has officially recognized that the members of the Ukrainian nationalist organization UNA-UNSO fought on the side of Nazi Germany during the Great Patriotic War.” It went on to note that, “On May 22 of last year, the State Registration Service renamed the party of UNA-UNSO as the Right Sector Party, which is led by Dmitriy Yarosh.”

    • Pentagon Calls Russia, China, Iran and North Korea Threats to Global Peace

      US military strategy includes “press(ing) forward with the rebalance to the Asia-Pacific, placing our most advanced capabilities and greater capacity in that vital theater.” It remains committed to NATO allies and Israel’s security.

      Ashton Carter replacing Chuck Hagel as defense secretary in mid-February signaled more war besides ones America was waging before his appointment.

      Obama’s naked aggression on Yemen followed weeks later. So did greater numbers of US combat troops operating in Iraq, continued bombing of its economic infrastructure on the pretext of attacking ISIS, and the same strategy ongoing in Syria – plus the Pentagon’s latest military strategy signaling endless US-initiated conflicts.

    • Secret CIA Heart Attack Gun Declassified

      As you’ll learn from the video above, the CIA has been using a heart attack gun for years. What you see in the video is a congressional meeting dating back to 1975. In it, politicians discuss the CIA’s use of the secret heart attack gun. Only recently did this information become declassified, and Your News Wire somehow dug up this video all about it.

      The way the gun works is that it shoots a tiny dart that can pierce through clothing and leaves no trace. But it causes a heart attack only seconds later. No, this is real life, not a James Bond flick!

    • Dirty tricks and regime change in nuclear-free Palau

      Thirty years ago today, Haruo Remeliik, the president of the world’s first nuclear-free state Palau, was assassinated. Investigative journalist Ed Rampell asks serious questions about a mysterious reign of terror in the Micronesian nation.

    • The Bushes, dirty tricks and regime change in nuclear-free Palau

      On June 30, 1985, 30 years ago today, Haruo Remeliik, the president of anti-nuclear Palau, had his brains blown out. What – if anything – did former CIA Director George H.W. Bush have to do with this and what does it say about who the Bushes really are?

    • Colombia: Top generals implicated in ‘false positive’ killings

      Declassified United States documents show the CIA knew about the practice since 1994 and was aware the Colombian army worked in coordination with paramilitary forces.

      The report shows that the false positive killings happened while US troops were deployed within Colombia, working together with the Colombian army. HRW demanded Washington explain if US troops knew of the killings.

    • Ecuador Reviews CIA Documents, Death of Late President

      The office of the attorney general in Ecuador is investigating if the death of former President Jaime Roldos was an assassination of Operation Condor.

    • ‘Historic step:’ Obama announces full diplomatic relations with Cuba

      Casting aside more than a half century of hostilities, President Barack Obama announced Wednesday that the United States and Cuba would restore full diplomatic relations and open respective embassies.

      Speaking in the White House Rose Garden, he called the rapprochement “a historic step” in efforts to bring the two countries and their people together. The president said Secretary of State John Kerry would soon travel to Havana to “proudly raise the U.S. flag over our embassy.”

    • Gülen’s lawyer refutes pro-government media claims that FBI, CIA trained him

      Nurullah Albayrak, the lawyer representing Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen, in a series of tweets on Wednesday slammed stories in pro-government media reports that claimed Gülen and his followers were trained by the CIA and FBI on how to overthrow the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government.

    • CIA station chief made mark in Indonesia

      Mr. Tovar, a native of Bogata, Colombia, and World War II veteran, became what Stein calls “a measured critic” of U.S. efforts to overthrow foreign governments.”

    • Hugh Tovar, CIA Operative at the Center of Cold War Intrigues, Dies at 92

      But it was Tovar’s tenure in Indonesia in 1965 that has drawn the most scrutiny. At the time, the country’s president, Sukarno, was leading a global “anti-imperialist” movement with the support of the Soviet Union and Communist China. Tovar, who had earlier worked against Communist guerrillas in the Philippines, was the CIA’s Jakarta station chief. In September 1965, a coup attempt by the Indonesian Communist Party, or PKI, failed, and the military unleashed a genocidal campaign against the PKI’s mostly ethnic Chinese followers. With the rebellion crushed and the military-backed Suharto regime now fully in power, the U.S. and other Western powers hailed the outcome as “the West’s best news for years in Asia,” as Time magazine put it.

    • Hidden cameras, invisibility cloaks in Israeli spy expo

      Hidden cameras, invisibility cloaks and mini-drones were among the gadgets on display Tuesday at an exhibition of Israeli surveillance technology, offering a rare peek into the secretive world of Israeli espionage.

    • 9/11 Terrorists Deserve Fair Trial With Evidence Access – HRW

      Human Rights Watch Senior National Security Counsel Laura Pitter claims that the September 11, 2001 terrorists who attacked the World Trade Center and the Pentagon deserve a fair trial in which they should have access to the evidence used against them.

    • Anti-Iran Lobby Steps Up Game Before Deadline For P5+1 Talks – OpEd

      The U.S. and Iranian nuclear negotiators have just announced a one week extension of their nuclear talks. If, as expected, there is an agreement next week, it will open a new stage of tension in the process leading to its final formal ratification by all parties. For then, the U.S. Congress will have 30 days to vote the agreement up or down. This vote, forced on an unwilling president by his own party’s Senate members several weeks ago, poses a new threat. For the Israel Lobby, it offers a new opportunity to sabotage the deal.

    • The Iranian George Washington

      On August 19, 1953, the US and UK overthrew Mohammed Mossadegh through an operation codenamed TPAJAX or Boot. Sections declassified in 2013 of the CIA’s internal Iran study admit the agency used false propaganda to undermine Mossadegh, induced the Shah to cooperate and paid demonstrators to ransack Tehran. In his 1954 report, Donald Wilber, the project executor, revealed how Iran’s lukewarm Islamists were galvanised against the PM. According to Wilber, local CIA operatives posing as pro-Mossadegh nationalists threatened the Shia clergy with “savage punishment” if they opposed him and thus fuelled anger in the religious community. The Shah, for his part, had already fled Iran after signing a royal decree dismissing Mossadegh.

    • Gary Borders: Is America the greatest nation? Check the numbers

      And he proceeds to profanely and succinctly enumerate why he thinks so. Rather than rely on fictional television, I decided to search online. I found a site called Ranking America, maintained by a respected academic.

      [...]

      We do rank first in a number of categories. At $619 billion, the United States spends more on defense than the next eight countries combined, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. China ranks second, far behind this country with defense expenditures of $171.4 billion.

    • An Honest Evaluation of the War on Terror

      I have a new piece in Foreign Policy that proposes a The National Commission on the War on Terrorism, which would consist of ten former officials, diplomats, and experts—with no personal or financial interest in the outcome—who would comprehensively review, evaluate, and offer new policy recommendations. Such commissions are rarely meaningful or impactful. However, current government officials and congressional members are too personally and professionally vested to objectively evaluate current strategies, demonstrate strategic learning, or implement any new policies. In short, U.S. counterterrorism strategy is both failing and frozen. The National Commission on the War on Terrorism would cost less than $4 million, and could be included in an authorization bill today. It would then be formed in the fall, with its conclusions and recommendations made publicly available in January 2017, just in time to inform Obama’s successor and the 115th Congress. It is a low-cost initiative to rethink the war on terrorism, and one that this Congress should pursue.

  • Transparency Reporting

    • As Walker Announces, WI GOP Moves to Gut Open Records Law

      On the same day that Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker announced his run for president, the Wisconsin GOP has proposed a virtual gutting of Wisconsin’s open records law, long considered one of the best in the nation. The drastic changes were proposed in a last-minute, anonymous budget motion, with zero public input on the eve of a holiday weekend. The motion will be rolled into the state’s massive budget bill and voted on in the coming weeks.

    • WikiLeaks founder: A hero for many – asylum request in France rejected

      For many Americans, he is a hero; for the US government, he is a criminal. This is after leaking secret US government documents exposing anything from torture to illegal NSA wiretaps by United States authorities to the public.

      WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has now asked for political asylum in France. It came after the French government indicated that such asylum may be granted in the wake of revelations of alleged NSA surveillance of senior French officials.

    • Executing Justice: WikiLeaks Unmasks Saudi Arabia

      Saudi Arabia’s status as an oil-fueled U.S. ally is a major reason why the dire human rights situation in the country is of little concern to Washington.

    • Saudis jail Pakistani who allegedly criticized Yemen airstrikes

      A controversial Pakistani commentator has been jailed in Saudi Arabia and reportedly sentenced to receive 1,000 lashes for allegedly criticizing the Saudi government while on a religious pilgrimage.

      Saudi authorities have so far denied consular access to Zaid Hamid, who was arrested last month in the holy city of Medina while traveling with his wife.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

  • Finance

    • Greece has missed a $1.8 billion payment to the International Monetary Fund

      Greece has missed a $1.8 billion payment to the International Monetary Fund as it stands on the brink of a financial meltdown. The deadline coincided with the end of Greece’s international bailout, leaving it without an infusion of the money it needs to meet its obligations. On Tuesday, European creditors rejected a last-minute proposal from Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras for a new financial lifeline. Jeroen Dijsselbloem, the head of the Eurogroup of finance ministers, said a new bailout program could be negotiated, but only if the Greek government backs down from its rejection of austerity demands.

    • A Moment of Great Decisions

      Despite media misinformation and EU blackmail, anti-austerity forces in Greece remain strong ahead of Sunday’s referendum.

    • Newman government acted ‘like the KGB’ in mine bid, say traditional owners

      The former Newman government in Queensland acted “like the KGB, the FBI and the CIA all rolled into one” as it secretly drove a multinational mining bid now subject to a high court challenge, a senior Cape York figure has said.

      The Wik people of Cape York have asked the high court to overturn laws that allowed the former Liberal National government to favour Glencore’s proposal to gain a bauxite mining licence on their traditional land in Aurukun.

    • Rumbles of military coup as Greek workers demand end to EU austerity

      Just 24 hours before anti-austerity demonstrators flooded the streets of central Athens on Friday, a number of retired Greek military officers publicly called for a “yes” vote in Sunday’s referendum on the European Union’s demands, defying Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’s call for a “no” vote.

      The contrast between masses of workers denouncing EU austerity and the pronouncements of prominent military figures could not have been starker. Retired General Fragkoulis Fragkos, a former defense minister and one-time head of the Greek army general staff, called for a “loud yes on Sunday.” In 2011, Fragkos was cashiered by then-Prime Minister George Papandreou amid rumors of a coup.

    • As Referendum Looms, Troika Charged with Plotting ‘Regime Change’ in Greece

      On Thursday, Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis made the strength of his convictions known by saying he would “prefer to cut off his arm” than sign an agreement without debt relief. Meanwhile, the institutions representing the interests of foreign creditors—the European Commission, the IMF, and the European Central Bank—have indicated a ‘Yes’ victory would likely force Tsipras and Varoufakis to resign and the current government to dissolve.

      Some of the latest polling out on Friday shows that the ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ camps are virtually tied going into Sunday’s vote. Both factions also plan to hold large rallies in Athens on Friday night, but the stakes of the vote—whichever way it falls and presuming it takes place as planned—are now seen to reach far beyond the immediate outcome.

      Considering developments in Greece since the financial crisis began in 2008, alongside the behavior of the so-called Troika since the Syriza party came into power earlier this year, analysts suggest that powerful financial interests and elite political forces in Greece are executing a slow-yet-coordinated effort to push a democratically-elected government from power and smash populist opposition to corporate rule and austerity policies that have spread across the continent in recent years.

    • 9 myths about the Greek crisis

      As soon as Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras announced the referendum, François Hollande, David Cameron, Matteo Renzi, and the German Deputy Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel told the Greeks that a No vote would amount to Greece leaving the euro. Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the European Commission, went further: he said “No” means leaving the European Union. In fact the Greek government has stated many times that — Yes or No — it is irrevocably committed to the Union and the euro. And legally, according to the treaties, Greece cannot be expelled from either.

    • Why Won’t Greece Take a Deal?

      It may be ugly for a while: Stock markets will slide, Greece will have to re-invent its currency, and the economic depression Greece has endured may last several years longer. But the Greeks will survive, and so will everybody else.

      And despite their pain, the poor will know that their government did this for them. The Greek people will know that they weren’t beholden to the Germans or to the International Monetary Fund.

      It’s not just about the money. It’s about pride.

    • Greece – Risk of False-flagging Greece into Submission and Chaos?

      The weapon is finance; the instruments are the mega-banksters of Europe and Washington. They are like dehumanized missiles. The fight is no-holds-barred – all out, no scruples. The savages of Brussels have the audacity to call for Mr. Tsipras’ resignation in case the Greek referendum rejects the austerity package. – Can you imagine!

    • The Latest: 25,000 supporters of ‘no’ vote rally in Athens

      Greek police used pepper spray Friday evening to deter several dozen anti-establishment protesters…

    • ‘No more looting’: Thousands rally across EU to express solidarity with Greece

      Thousands of people have flooded the streets of EU cities in mass demonstrations expressing solidarity with Greece ahead of this weekend’s referendum on a cash-for-reform deal with its Troika of creditors.

    • South Korea unveils $14.3 billion stimulus package to support economy

      South Korea proposed on Friday a stimulus package worth 16.1 trillion won ($14.31 billion) to jump-start Asia’s fourth-largest economy as it fights to overcome the twin challenges of weak domestic and global demand.

    • South Korea unveils $19.3b stimulus package to support Mers-hit economy

      South Korea proposed on Friday a stimulus package worth 16.1 trillion won (S$19.3 billion) to jump-start Asia’s fourth-largest economy as it fights to overcome the twin challenges of weak domestic and global demand.

    • Famous Rothschild Banking Dynasty Facing Fraud Charges In France

      One of Europe’s wealthiest bankers faces questioning for fraud in France as part of a years-long case that accuses him of defrauding retirees.

      Baron David de Rothschild, one of the wealthy members of the famous Rothschild banking dynasty, was indicted last month over allegations that his company, Rothschild Financial Services Group, offered a fraudulent equity release loan program to about 130 retirees between 2005 and 2008. 20 British retirees living in Spain brought the fraud lawsuit, according to Olive Press, an English-language newspaper published in that country, but it’s taken five years of legal maneuvering to successfully force the Baron into court.

      Rothschild Financial Services Group is accused of falsely advertising the scheme, under which retirees were told they could reduce the value of their French homes in order to reduce the inheritance tax that their descendents would for those properties. According to the report, France’s “Tax Agency ruled that such a scheme constitutes fraud.”

  • Censorship

    • Russian censorship official is censored by Facebook — reports

      Facebook has removed an incendiary status posted by a high-ranking Kremlin official, Russian media has reported.

      According to Lenta.ru, deputy head of Roskomnadzor Maxim Ksenzov’s social media status was taken down over his use of the word ‘crest’ — a pejorative term for ethnic Ukrainians.

      Ksenzov, whose department is tasked with “supervision of telecom, information technologies and mass communications,” complained on his Facebook profile that he had been censored.

    • Wikipedia to battle EU over planned censorship of photos of public places

      Wikipedia, the world’s biggest public and free encyclopaedia, is preparing to challenge Europe over plans to revoke the right to use photographs of public spaces without restriction.

      It estimates that tens of thousands of images embedded in articles about buildings, art and other public places will need to be taken down.

      It is urging the public to act now and contact MEPs by email, phone or visit their constituencies to preserve what is known as the Freedom of Panorama.

  • Privacy

    • Theresa May named internet villain of the year

      The Home Secretary, Theresa May, has been named the UK internet industry’s villain of the year for pursuing “snooper’s charter” legislation without fully consulting the sector.

      The gong, part of the annual ISPA awards, was given for “forging ahead with communications data legislation that would significantly increase capabilities without adequate consultation with industry and civil society”.

      “With an investigatory powers bill due before parliament in the coming months, it is essential that ISPs are consulted,” the Internet Services Providers’ Association (ISPA) added.

    • WikiLeaks docs show NSA’s 10-year economic espionage campaign against France

      Franco-American relations have taken a further hammering on Monday after WikiLeaks revealed new documents showing that the NSA has been collecting the details of commercial deals in the Land of Brie for over a decade and sharing them with its allies.

    • Steinmeier hopes for swift clarity from US on fresh NSA allegations

      Germany’s foreign minister has called on Washington to swiftly clarify what is and is not true regarding the latest NSA snooping allegations. There are reports that it spied on several cabinet ministers.

    • Arthur I. Cyr: U.S. intelligence blunders go on, and on

      Last July, no-nonsense German police searched the home and office of a military employee accused of passing sensitive secrets to the U.S. At about the same time, a member of German BND intelligence was arrested and accused of selling an estimated two hundred documents to the CIA. They reportedly contained details of investigations by a German parliamentary panel into the vast electronic surveillance of European populations by the NSA.

    • WikiLeaks claims NSA targeted German ministers beyond Merkel

      WikiLeaks has published a list of German phone numbers that it claimed showed the US National Security Agency eavesdropped on senior German officials beyond Chancellor Angela Merkel.

    • Calls grow for govt to act on NSA spying

      Green Party security expert Konstantin von Notz told The Local on Friday that Chancellor Angela Merkel is failing to restore faith in the German-US partnership following fresh spying revelations.

    • U.S. NSA also spied on several German ministers, media reports say

      The U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) has spied not only on German Chancellor Angela Merkel, but also on numerous high-ranking government members such as the economy and finance ministers, German media reported on Wednesday.

    • Germany summons US ambassador over new spying claims

      Angela Merkel’s chief of staff has summoned the US ambassador to a meeting over allegations that the National Security Agency spied on German ministers.

    • Germany wants quick clarification of new NSA spy allegations

      Germany’s foreign minister said Friday that new allegations of U.S. eavesdropping on senior German government officials’ telephones need to be clarified “as quickly as possible” and that he hoped Washington would be forthcoming with information.

    • NSA’s spying on UN and others detailed in newly published documents

      A cache of documents from whistleblower Edward Snowden details spying targets, including the UN’s general secretary, according to a new report.

    • How the NSA searches the world’s intercepted private communications

      In a thorough, fascinating followup published in the Intercept, Greenwald and colleagues present a detailed look at the system as it stood in 2013, when it consolidated data from 150 field sites. The service uses your Google cookies and cookies from other services to link your activities across multiple sites and forums, making it possible to search for individual users who use different online identities for different purposes.

    • NSA Xkeyscore surveillance tool makes spying on someone as easy as Googling their name

      The US National Security Agency’s (NSA) infamous XKeyscore mass surveillance tool, first brought to light by whistleblower Edward Snowden, makes tracking people as easy as Googling their name, according to newly published documents.

      Details of XKeyscore were published on Wednesday (1 July) by The Intercept in one of the largest releases of NSA documents to date. The 48 top-secret documents relating to XKeyscore detail how around 150 field sites in the US and abroad sweep up people’s internet searches, emails, documents, usernames and passwords, and other private communications.

    • Revealed: The NSA’s tracking database

      If you thought that the National Security Agency needed warrants, proof and reason to look at your online history, you’re mistaken. It might be as easy as entering your name or email into a database much like Google.

    • It turns out the NSA was collecting voice calls, photos, passwords, documents, and much more
    • NSA’s hacking tool is apparently as easy to use as a Google search
    • Privacy Reforms among NSA XKeyscore Spy Chronicles
    • Snowden Documents Reveal New Details of “NSA’s Google”
    • XKEYSCORE global spy system detailed in new Snowden leaks
    • Who Will Watch The Watchmen?

      According to NSA documents leaked by Edward Snowden, a covert program called XKEYSCORE allows the US government to see almost everything you do online.

    • NSA’s Covert Tool for ‘Easy’ Sensitive Data Spying Revealed
    • NSA spied on German press, says report
    • NSA Accused of Spying on German Press
    • Obama administration spied on German media as well as its government
    • Report: NSA spied on German news outlets
    • Germany’s Spiegel weekly says it was spied on by US intelligence

      German news weekly Der Spiegel charged Friday that it was spied on by US secret services and said it had filed a criminal complaint with the country’s chief prosecutor.

    • US government allegedly spied on journalists in Germany

      Der Spiegel has filed a criminal complaint

    • CIA Outed Suspected Leaker to Retaliate Against Journalists

      In the summer of 2011, the CIA station chief in Berlin asked one of the most powerful intelligence officials in Germany to go on a private walk with him, the German newsmagazine Der Spiegel reports. The American spy had an important message to convey: one of Germany’s own senior officials was leaking information to the press.

      The suspected leaker, Hans Josef Vorbeck, had been in contact with Spiegel, the station chief told the German official, Günter Heiss. Head of Division 6, Heiss is responsible for coordinating Germany’s intelligence services. Vorbeck was his deputy.

    • Our view: Right to know

      Is Congress ready to recognize that protecting reporters’ sources protects the public’s right to know

    • Der Spiegel: US ousted our source in German govt, chancellery hushed up the spying

      In 2011 the US had a top German counterterrorism official sidelined over his contacts with the media, and the German government failed to act in response to illegal surveillance on home turf, Der Spiegel reports.

      The official was Hans Josef Vorbeck, deputy director of Department 6 in the German Chancellery. The department is responsible for coordinating the country’s intelligence services, and Vorbeck was responsible for counterterrorism.

      In summer 2011 Vorbeck’s superior, Günter Heiss, was called to a meeting with the CIA station chief in Berlin, who told him that Vorbeck had been leaking information to Der Spiegel. After the issue was also raised in June 2011, when Heiss visited CIA headquarters in Langley, Vorbeck was quietly transferred, sidelined to work in the archive section dealing with the history of the BND, the German national intelligence agency.

    • US Officials Defend Spying on German Media

      CIA Used Intercepts to Press Germany Over Officials

    • An American Tip to German Spies Points to a More Complex Relationship

      In the summer of 2011, American intelligence agencies spied on a senior German official who they concluded had been the likely source of classified information being leaked to the news media.

      The Obama administration authorized the top American spy in Germany to reveal to the German government the identity of the official, according to German officials and news media reports. The decision was made despite the risk of exposing that the United States was monitoring senior national security aides to Chancellor Angela Merkel.

    • Court Revives Defunct NSA Mass Surveillance Program
    • Secret court approves NSA bulk collection one last time: ‘Plus ça change …’
    • ‘Snowden’ Being Released on Christmas Day [Video]

      Snowden, a film by Oliver Stone, will be released Christmas Day 2015. With Stone running the show, the film is likely to be controversial. Open Road Films recently made a trailer available which showed the intensity of the movie. Based on the book, The Snowden Files: The Inside Story of the World’s Most Wanted Man, by Luke Harding, the film follows Edward Snowden from his time in the military to when he joined the CIA two years later.

    • Here’s the First Trailer for Oliver Stone’s Snowden Movie

      The Edward Snowden whistleblowing story has already been covered with the thrilling 2014 documentary Citizenfour, but now Oliver Stone has chose to take a crack at it as well. And all of it is set to a slowed-down cover of a familiar song, because that seems to be the thing to do these days. On that front, mission accomplished.

    • Haunting First ‘Snowden’ Trailer Released

      The sometime conspiracy theorist and master at shining a light on government hypocrisy, tragic irony and media manipulation is the director behind “Snowden,” about former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden, who blew the whistle on the NSA’s wiretapping program and has not been back to the United States since.

    • Project Whale Tale: the story of how the U-2 became an embarked reconnaissance aircraft.

      Still, none of these carrier-capable spyplane ever entered active service, being replaced by cheaper spy satellites.

    • Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff’s Flip-Flop on NSA Spying

      Two years after she cancelled her state visit to Washington in outrage over revelations that the U.S. had spied on her, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff is back in Washington, taking a decidedly more friendly approach to President Barack Obama.

    • Brazilians’ views of U.S. rebound as wounds of NSA scandal heal

      Revelations in September 2013 that the U.S. government had monitored the private communications of Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff had strained relations between the two countries. But Rousseff’s arrival in the U.S. this week for a meeting with President Barack Obama comes at a time when public sentiment about the U.S. in Brazil has almost fully returned to the overwhelmingly positive opinions held before the surveillance controversy.

    • Two years after Snowden, NSA revelations still hurting US tech firms in China: report

      Revelations of digital surveillance by American spy agencies could end up costing US firms billions of dollars in lost business and lawmakers in Washington are falling short in their duty to address the issue, a US think tank has said.

      Tech firms, in particular, have underperformed in foreign markets following the leaks by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden, according to a paper published by the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation.

    • ACLU to fight FISA court’s OK to NSA bulk data collection

      You thought bulk metadata collection had been quashed? Think again: Despite what looked like a last-minute reprieve, the secret court set up by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) has approved the NSA to continue. Judge Michael W. Mosman says things should stay the same, despite the shifting legal landscape.

      So the NSA gets another 180 days to slurp up phone records, and then it becomes the telcos’ job. The American Civil Liberties Union ain’t impressed, to put it midly.

    • US Senator Wyden Blasts ‘Unnecessary Resumption’ Of NSA Phone Records Dragnet

      US Senator Ron Wyden (Democrat-Oregon) criticized this week a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court decision allowing the NSA to resume collecting millions of Americans’ phone records.

    • Non-governmental organisations welcome the appointment of the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Privacy

      Privacy International and twenty-two other organisations from around the world welcome the appointment of Mr Joseph Cannataci as the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Privacy.

      Today, the President of the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) appointed Mr Cannataci to fill the post that was created by the Council in March 2015 to address the rising concerns about the enjoyment of right to privacy, particularly in the context of new communications technologies.

      Mr Cannataci’s appointment marks a significant step in the strengthening of the protection of the right to privacy at international level. It is also the culmination of a campaign by Privacy International and other NGOs to establish an independent expert on privacy within the UN human rights mechanisms.

    • NIST formally chops NSA-tainted random number generator

      The United States National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has revised its recommendations for methods used to generate random numbers, and formally removed an algorithm suspected to contain a National Security Agency (NSA) backdoor.

      Former NSA contractor Edward Snowden leaked documents in 2013 that suggested the NSA wrote the dual elliptic curve deterministic random bit generator (Dual_EC_DRBG) algorithm which became part of a NIST standard in 2006.

      Cryptographers feared that the involvement of the US spy agency in developing the algorithm meant encryption technology using Dual_EC_DRBG could be compromised.

    • NSA data gathering too big to be efficient: ‘Like having to drink ten liters of water at once’

      Bulk data collection has a very limited use and the US intelligence agencies’ problem is that they are gathering too much information to be able to use it effective, says former CIA and State Department official Larry Johnson.

      The US Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court ruled that the bulk collection of American citizen’s data could be resumed. Earlier the court passed a bill which ended bulk collections of telephone metadata – the Freedom Act – which also assumed a six month transition period to let the NSA move to the new rules.

    • Germany appoints senior judge to inspect list of NSA targets

      Critics have accused Chancellor Angela Merkel’s staff of giving the German BND foreign intelligence agency the green light to help the NSA spy on European firms and officials, triggering a scandal that has dented Merkel’s popularity.

    • Former judge to see NSA target list

      The Bundestag (German parliament) inquiry into spying by the US National Security Agency (NSA) has chosen a former judge to examine lists of targets given to German spies by the Americans.

    • WikiLeaks says NSA spied on top French companies

      The US wiretapped two of France’s economy ministers and spied on the country’s largest companies, French media reported citing WikiLeaks documents, just days after it emerged the US had spied on three of the country’s leaders.

    • WikiLeaks Says NSA Spied On 2 French Finance Ministers, Top French Companies

      WikiLeaks alleged that François Baroin and Pierre Moscovici, who headed the finance ministry between 2011 and 2014, were targeted by the NSA. Pictured: French President Francois Hollande (R) and Moscovici — then the French Economy, Finance and Foreign Trade Minister — take part in a meeting about economical relations with the Netherlands at the Parliament building in The Hague, on January 20, 2014.

    • Tougher encryption guidelines close a back door for NSA spies

      The US’ National Institute of Standards and Technology is more than a little worried that its encryption guideilnes have been creating back doors for spies, and it’s changing its tune in order to plug those security holes. The agency is no longer recommending an NSA-backed number randomization technique that made it relatively easy to crack and monitor encrypted data. In theory, software developers who heed the new advice won’t have to worry that they’re laying down a welcome mat for government surveillance agents.

    • Think it’s cool Facebook can auto-tag you in pics? So does the government

      State-of-the-art facial recognition technology, which had been the stuff of hypothetical privacy nightmares for years, is becoming a startling reality. It is increasingly being deployed all around the United States by giant tech companies, shady advertisers and the FBI – with few if any rules to stop it.

      In recent weeks, both Facebook and Google launched facial recognition to mine the photos on your phone, with both impressive and disturbing results. Facebook’s Moments app can recognize you even if you cover your face. Google Photos can identify grown adults from decades-old childhood pictures.

      Some people might find it neat when it’s only restricted to photos on their phone. But advertisers, security companies and just plain creepy authority figures have also set up their own systems at music festivals, sporting events and even some churches to monitor attendees, which is bound to disturb even those who don’t give a second thought to issues like the NSA’s mass surveillance programs.

    • Canadian Surveillance Agency Says Snowden Leaks Were Damaging, Because We Say So

      But what’s most interesting about the document is the part where Bossenmaier is advised on how to deal with any questions she might be asked by her overseers, should they request evidence to support her assertions.

      The section is headed: “IF PRESSED ON THIS OR ANY OTHER DISCLOSURE.”

    • 20-Plus Security Vendors On The NSA Target List (And Those Who Weren’t)

      This week, the latest documents from whistleblower Edward Snowden revealed in an Intercept report that the National Security Agency had targeted security vendors, reverse engineering their systems to learn about their capabilities and gain access to user data. According to the report by the Intercept, the documents revealed that, in addition to repeated-target Kaspersky Lab, the agency also targeted more than 20 other anti-virus vendors under Project Camberdada. From there, the agency could possibly learn the vulnerabilities of the solutions included in its “More Targets” list and exploit them for its own use.

    • NSA and GCHQ Exploit Anti-Virus Software to Snoop on Citizens, According to Leak
    • nowden Docs: GCHQ and NSA Hacked Antivirus Software, Spied on Emails
    • NSA’s Betrayal of America’s Oldest Ally (Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Germany)

      France is the oldest ally of the United States; the French provided assistance to the colonists as far back as the Revolutionary War. This has not, over the centuries, led to a relationship similar to the intimate bond Washington maintains with Anglo-Saxon countries like Great Britain or Australia.

    • WikiLeaks: what Australia got from the NSA’s commercial spying
  • Civil Rights

    • Bahrain: Free Dr Abduljalil Al-Singace

      Police arrested Dr Al-Singace for his participation in the peaceful Arab Spring protests in 2011.

    • To Singapore, With Love DVD and streaming available outside Singapore

      Singapore filmmaker Tan Pin Pin’s controversial film about the country’s political exiles, which was given a “not allowed for all ratings” (NAR) classification by the Media Development Authority, is now available outside of Singapore.

      After touring the international festival circuit, the documentary To Singapore, With Love is now available on DVD and through video-sharing website Vimeo to viewers outside the country. Due to the classification, which amounts to a ban, the DVD cannot be sold and the film cannot be streamed in Singapore.

    • How China stopped its bloggers

      For a brief Chinese ‘spring’, the country’s bloggers exposed corruption, cheating and other abuses of power, writes Angus Grigg. Then the Party bosses took back the internet.

    • Singapore activists condemn treatment of anti-Lee teen

      Prominent Singaporean intellectuals, artists and activists Saturday criticised the government’s “harsh” treatment of a teenage boy behind online attacks on the late former prime minister Lee Kuan Yew.

      In an open letter to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, the former leader’s son, the 77 signatories said they were “aware of the negative aspects” of 16-year-old Amos Yee s pronouncements in a YouTube video and on his blog.

    • 55 days in remand for S’pore’s youngest prisoner of conscience

      “Amnesty International considers him to be a prisoner of conscience, held solely for exercising his right to freedom of expression,” the human rights organisation says in a statement released on Friday, 3 July, with regards to the case of Singaporean video-blogger, Amos Yee.

    • Is Singapore becoming a shamelessly hypocritical society?

      The highly opportunistic PAP-run government has repulsively destroyed many vocal critics and opposition members over the decades and it has brazenly used public-funded resources like the People’s Association grassroots network to promote and protect the Party and its MPs.

      Yet they have the audacity to prosecute powerless ordinary citizens and children (including sending teenager Amos Yee to a mental hospital) for defamation and even accuse them of being insincere and opportunistic?

      Click here to read how the lawyer for PM Lee, in the ongoing court case against blogger Roy, has framed his attack by accusing the writer of being an opportunist.

      Our government has launched Character building courses for students purportedly to teach them moral values. Yet the government leaders have time and again shown their own lack of integrity by twisting facts and telling half-truths and even lies just to make themselves look good (One big lie is calling Lee Kuan Yew our country’s Founder when Singapore was founded centuries before he was born).

    • Amos Yee’s Mom’s Heartbreaking Apology: “Sorry Son. Mummy is Wrong.”

      This is Mdm Mary Toh’s Facebook post in full:

      “Sorry Son.
      Sorry for telling you that you are in the safest country. You are feeling so insecure and scared now.
      Sorry for urging you to be a law-abiding citizen. The laws are doing you more harm than good now.
      Sorry for assuring you that you will be well-protected. You are being threatened and ill-treated now.
      Sorry for saying that our government provides us the best welfare. You are not even allowed to sleep at home now.
      Sorry for telling you that home is best. It is where you were arrested from.
      Sorry for encouraging you to be creative and expressive. You are regarded as crazy and rebellious instead.
      Sorry for not teaching you well. You could have been taught otherwise.
      Sorry Son. Mummy is wrong.”

    • Amnesty International calls for “immediate and unconditional” release of Amos Yee

      “Amnesty International considers him to be a prisoner of conscience, held solely for exercising his right to freedom of expression,” the human rights organisation says in a statement released on Friday, 3 July, with regards to the case of Singaporean video-blogger, Amos Yee.

      “As he is a minor, authorities must also ensure that his treatment is consistent with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child to which Singapore is a State party.”

      Regarding the possibility of the teen being sent to reformative training, which entails a minimum 18-month detention, Amnesty said:

      “According to the Office of the UN Commissioner on Human Rights, reformative training is ‘akin to detention and usually applied to juvenile offenders involved in serious crimes’ and was referred to in a recent Singapore district court decision as ‘incarcerative in nature and should be imposed cautiously’.”

      “Amnesty International calls for the immediate and unconditional release of Amos Yee.”

      It added that the authorities in Singapore “must also ensure that Amos Yee is safe from any security threats and is not tortured or otherwise ill-treated.”

    • S’pore authorities unnecessarily harsh with Amos Yee

      Suaram says Yee’s lawyers and family members have said that the teenager is deteriorating both physically and psychologically in Changi Prison.

    • Suaram calls on Singapore government to release Amos Yee

      Suara Rakyat Malaysia (Suaram) has called on Singapore authorities to release 16-year-old blogger Amos Yee Pang Sang and drop all charges against him.

      Its executive director Sevan Doraisamy said the blogger was currently being assessed on his suitability for the Reformative Training Centre (RTC) in the island republic.

    • Urgent appeal filed to release Amos Yee on bail, but is unsuccessful

      The Online Citizen (TOC) has learned that an urgent appeal was filed on Friday with the courts to request that Amos Yee be released on bail.

      The appeal was unsuccessful for administrative reason, TOC understands.

      The request was made after the mother of the 16-year old teenager, who is being remanded at the Institute of Mental Health (IMH) for psychiatric assessment, felt that conditions in the ward had become worrying for her son.

    • Release Singaporean teen blogger Amos Yee, Hong Kong student group Scholarism urges
    • Hong Kong students protest outside Singapore consulate, urge release of Amos Yee

      The 16-year-old was convicted on May 12 for uploading an obscene image in which the faces of Singapore’s late founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew and former British premier Margaret Thatcher were superimposed. He was also found guilty of deliberately hurting the feeling of Christians in a YouTube video criticising Mr Lee.

      [...]

      On why Hong Kong students were concerned about the issue, he said: “Our core value in Hong Kong is human rights, and we believe in freedom of speech and expression. We have a moral obligation to speak up especially for those who can’t do it themselves.”

      The HKU, along with the Lingnan University student union and the student group Scholarism, had earlier announced the plans for a petition in a Facebook post, saying: “Any act of trampling human rights and manipulating the freedom of thought must be condemned.”

    • Hong Kong students protest near Singapore consulate urging Amos Yee’s release

      University students in Hong Kong protested near the Singapore consulate in Hong Kong today (June 30), urging the Singapore government to release teen blogger Amos Yee.

      According to Hong Kong media reports, about 50 students from the University of Hong Kong, Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong Baptist University, Lingnan and Hong Kong Polytechnic were part of the protest. Singaporean blogger Han Hui Hui was also spotted at the protest.

    • About 60 demonstrate outside S’pore Trade Office in Taipei; call for Amos Yee’s release

      About 60 people demonstrated outside the Singapore Trade Office in Taipei on Friday morning, calling for teenage blogger Amos Yee to be freed.

    • Amos Yee concerned about rape threat made against him

      The mother of 16-year old video blogger, Amos Yee, says she is relieved that her son is eating once again while being held at the Institute of Mental Health (IMH).

      The teenager was ordered by the court to undergo a two-week assessment for possibly being within the range of autism spectrum disorder.

      A prior three-week assessment while being held at the Changi Prison saw Amos Yee being assessed as suitable for reformative training. However, the psychiatrist who conducted the assessment, Munidasa Winslow, also said the teen may be suffering from autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

    • Being a leader to bring light to this gloomy situation for Amos Yee

      Amos has succeeded in getting the world’s attention about the darker side of your father, and the more Amos suffers from unjust treatments, the more the government has helped Amos succeed in a more phenomenal way.

    • A Struggle without Borders: Charleston a Uniter or Divider?

      The fact is that according to the FBI, white people, not Black people, kill white people. In 2011, the perpetrators of 83% of white murder victims were Caucasian. An article entitled “9 Facts That Show White-on-White Crime Far Exceeds Black-on-Black Crime and How Media Outlets Conceal It,” said, “At the heart of an increasingly violent society is not a subculture among Blacks, but the violence and criminality of many Americans, and whites in particular.”

    • Plundering Our Freedom with Abandon – Robert Scheer on Reality Asserts Itself (8/10)

      PROF. ROBERT SCHEER, JOURNALIST AND AUTHOR: But why are they snooping? They’re snooping because they say we have enemies everywhere. And why do we have enemies everywhere? Because we put ourselves up as this nation that can determine everything for everyone. Okay? And we lost sight of the essential wisdom of the American experiment, you know, which was our framers, which is do it here, do it for your own people, and if it’s good, others will follow it. If we have a way of respecting each other, of solving our problems, if we can develop cohesion, right, it’s what everyone who ever came and intelligently observed our society, de Tocqueville most famously, and said, they care about each other or they know how to work with each other.

    • Prisons Without Walls: We’re All Inmates in the American Police State

      Stop and frisk searches are taking place daily across the country. Some of them even involve anal and/or vaginal searches. In fact, the U.S. Supreme Court has approved strip searches even if you are arrested for a misdemeanor—such as a traffic stop. Just like a prison inmate.

    • Former UK ministers urge Obama to free Shaker Aamer from Guantánamo Bay

      Boris Johnson has placed himself at the head of cross-party group, including a former Tory attorney general and a Labour leadership contender, who are calling on Barack Obama to secure the release of Shaker Aamer, the last British resident held in Guantánamo Bay.

    • Open letter to Barack Obama requesting the return of Shaker Aamer to the UK

      More than 90 signatories including politicians, celebrities and activists – such as Boris Johnson, Russell Brand and Natalie Bennett – challenge the US president to release last British Guantánamo prisoner

    • Despite White House pledges, Gitmo closure remains long-term goal

      The newly appointed Special Envoy for Guantánamo Closure is “under no illusions” that closing the U.S. prison “is going to be easy.”

      Lee Wolosky is filling a State Department position that has been vacant for the last six months. He served in the Bill Clinton and George W. Bush administrations — working on the National Security Council staff.

      Wolosky understands the difficulty of the task ahead of him. The status of the controversial facility, along with its inhabitants, remains mired in delays, appeals and political dramas that make shutting the prison increasingly difficult to imagine.

    • David Swanson: Human experimentation is a CIA habit

      At Guantanamo, the CIA gave huge doses of the terror-inducing drug mefloquine to prisoners without their consent, as well as the supposed truth serum scopolamine.

    • Despite setbacks, international justice makes headway

      The recent hurried departure of Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir from South Africa, where African Union heads of state were convening, spared him arrest, for now. But the Pretoria High Court order that he defied, which enforced a warrant from the International Criminal Court charging him with genocide and crimes against humanity, marked a step forward in the fight against impunity.

    • CIA lagging in recruiting, promoting minorities, study finds

      The Central Intelligence Agency is falling behind in recruiting racial and ethnic minorities and promoting them to its highest ranks, according to an internal study the agency released Tuesday.

      Minorities make up less than 24% of the CIA workforce, and only 10.8% of its top Senior Intelligence Service. Among the most experienced employees whose ranks feed into the leadership jobs, known as GS-15s in the parlance of government pay scales, minorities make up 15.2%.

    • ‘The CIA Is Not Committed to Diversity,’ Says the CIA’s Own Diversity Study

      There are too many white people working for the CIA, according to the results of a CIA-commissioned study released Tuesday — and the lack of racial diversity has contributed to past intelligence failures.

    • CIA Lags in Recruiting Diverse Workforce, Reports Finds

      The Central Intelligence Agency’s efforts to bring more minorities into its workforce haven’t been as effective as hoped, according to a new internal report.

    • New Evidence on CIA Medical Torture: Injection “to the Bone” on Former Black Site Prisoner Majid Khan

      Quite recently, U.S. authorities allowed the declassification of notes from Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) attorney Wells Dixon that described what his client, high-value detainee Majid Khan, told him about his torture at the hands of the CIA. Khan, a Pakistan citizen, is currently at Guantanamo, and awaits trial by military commission.

    • Guantánamo Defense Lawyers Ask for Access to 14,000 CIA Photos of Secret Prisons

      Attorneys representing terrorism suspects at Guantánamo Bay have asked judges overseeing the military tribunals for their clients to see an enormous cache of photographs taken of “black sites” operated by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

      The images, which total about 14,000, show both the interiors and exteriors of CIA secret locations where detainees were held and interrogated last decade. The photographs reportedly do not show detainee interrogations, “including the torture of some suspects who were subjected to waterboarding and other brutal techniques,” according to The Washington Post. But they do include images of detainee cells, bathrooms, naked prisoners at the time of transport, confinement boxes that held detainees for hours at a time, and a waterboard in the “Salt Pit,” the largest CIA detention facility in Afghanistan.

    • CIA photos of ‘black sites’ demanded for 9/11 trials
    • Torture in Our Own Backyard: Chicago’s Story, America’s Dilemma

      As June ushered in rising temperatures, the month also brought about focus to a unique and controversial topic: torture. June was Torture Awareness Month and in light of this, Chicagoland held major events to advocate and encourage an end to its use in any form and on any governmental level. Amnesty International, the world’s largest grassroots human rights organization, hosted a rally on Friday, June 26 at Federal Plaza, which brought together individuals to celebrate recent victories in the fight against torture’s use and created an open space to highlight different narratives of torture, both international and domestic.

    • Embarrassing reputation of US prisons

      Criminals remain unpunished …

      If we look at the statistics provided by “Washington Post”, we can see yet another interesting fact. Forty percent of victims of police violence were unarmed. Criminal proceedings were instituted only in three out of 385 cases. Experts believe that this is a testament to a biased attitude of the US judiciary to the rights of the black population.

      Embarrassing “reputation”

      The fact that the situation in US prisons is far from ideal is understandable. Human rights in US prisons are grossly violated and black inmates are faced with a campaign of prejudice. This results in serious revolts in prisons. One such revolt took place in a Kentucky prison two years ago, as 250 people were injured.

    • Torture ‘not okay’: Former FBI agent

      “Just because somebody murdered, somebody raped, does not mean it is okay to torture that individual,” says ex FBI agent Ali Soufan in an interview with Channel NewsAsia’s Conversation With.

    • There’s No Reason to Hide the Amount of Secret Law

      Whether the government may keep some legal interpretations secret from the public is a debate that is certain to continue for some time. But there is no justification for keeping the public in the dark about how much secrecy exists. After all, we’re no less safe as a nation for knowing that there’s a PPD-29, and we’re able to have an informed discussion about whether too many presidential directives are kept secret. We should be able to have the same informed discussion about OLC memoranda, FISC opinions, and other manifestations of secret law.

  • DRM

    • Some Apple Music Users Report iCloud Music Library Deleted iTunes Content

      Apple Music rollout seems to have been hit by glitches that are causing the deletion of songs and playlists from the iTunes library of several users. The problems seem to occur only when users turn on iCloud Music Library (a feature introduced in iTunes 12.2 and iOS 8.4) with Apple Music, an option that is meant to provide features like offline caching. Other users report problems like the substitution of bad artwork and metadata, apart from the replacement of files with DRM-protected ones.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • Pirate Bay founders: FBI has Prenda Law under investigation

        A federal judge referred the lawyers behind the Prenda Law “copyright trolling” scheme to investigators in 2013. Since then, there’s been no indication of what stage an investigation is at, or if it’s happening at all.

        Now, two co-founders of The Pirate Bay have said they have reason to believe that an investigation is underway. Peter Sunde and Fredrik Neij each independently told the website TorrentFreak that Swedish authorities questioned them during their recent imprisonment.

      • Police Let Seized ‘Pirate’ Domains Expire, Some Up For Sale

        A range of domains seized from ‘pirate’ sites by the UK’s Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit have been released back into the wild. After displaying a banner declaring them criminal operations and racking up millions of hits, many domains are up for grabs once more while others display ads.

      • Rumblefish claims it owns “America the Beautiful” by United States Navy Band?

        Ok, so we posted a video of an Arduino rotating in front of an American flag with the public domain “America the Beautiful” by United States Navy Band as the music. We immediately received this from YouTube.

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