Bonum Certa Men Certa

Links 2/5/2015: Robolinux 7.9.1, LibreOffice Numbering

GNOME bluefish



Free Software/Open Source

  • HashiCorp Debuts Open-Source Vault Project for Crypto Key Management
    HashiCorp, the vendor behind popular Vagrant developer tool, makes a big jump into security with the open-source Vault project.

    Open-source software vendor HashiCorp is getting into the security business with the initial release of the Vault project. HashiCorp is best known for its DevOps tools, particularly its widely used open-source Vagrant application that enables developers to reproduce developer environments easily.

  • Web Browsers

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice


    • Now available from GNU Press, the NeuG True Random Number Generator
      This week I had a chance to add a NeuG, a True Random Number Generator, to the Free Software Foundation network. The NeuG exclusively uses free software and was developed in Japan by NIIBE Yutaka. A random number generator (RNG) is a device used to generate random numbers for computers. Without getting into a philosophical argument, we humans tend to take the concept of entropy (randomness) for granted. If we wish to produce random data, we simply do so. Computers, on the other hand, do as we tell them to do. They follow a set of instructions provided by a programmer and follow each instruction precisely. So there is no way to ask a computer to give us a random number because we would have to tell the computer in advance what the number is. There are some ways around this. For example, we could use a system's current timestamp as a seed, or starting point, for producing random-seeming numbers by using an algorithm. This approach will create the illusion of entropy, but if someone else knows both the timestamp used for the seed and the algorithm used to generate the random numbers, the sequence of the random number generator can be calculated and predicted.

  • Project Releases

  • Openness/Sharing

  • Standards/Consortia

    • W3C India - A Road Ahead
      On 22nd of April 2015, I got an opportunity to attend W3C India Community Meet-up held in the CDAC office based in Mumbai. People from all over India and of different domains came Mumbai to participate in the event. Organised by W3C India, the event was of interactive in nature. The whole day event was divided in two parts - the first one was concentrated on 'Digital Publishing in India - Next Steps’. 'Web Payments landscape in India’ was the topic for second session. In the CDAC’s Juhu based beautiful office, the event was very much engaging and interactive.


  • Science

    • MIT paints grim picture for future of U.S. tech research
      In addition to the well-known challenge in supercomputing -- China's Tianhe-2 supercomputer has won top ranking for three years running -- MIT researchers looked at 15 different fields and highlighted the potential benefits of increased federal support for research in each area. "Investing in basic research has always paid off over time," Kastner said. "And even if the future payoffs are not as large, there is no doubt that we will suffer if we do not keep up with those nations that are now making bigger investments than we are."

  • Security

  • Defence/Police/Secrecy/Aggression

    • ‘Endangered Okinawa dugong’s habitat to be bulldozed for the sake of US military base’
      If the US military base in Okinawa is relocated to Henoko, the habitat of the endangered Okinawa dugong sea mammal, will be wiped off the map, said Peter Galvin of the Center for Biological diversity. The species is already down to a few dozen, he added.

    • AP: Americans Strongly Support Different, Imaginary Drone Program
      The headline on the Associated Press story is unambiguous: “AP Poll: Americans approve of drone strikes on terrorists.” And that’s true! According to the AP’s poll, 60 percent of Americans support the use of drones to “target and kill people belonging to terrorist groups like al-Qaida.”

      The problem is the U.S. drone program does much more than kill members of al-Qaida: it also kills a significant number of civilians, and drone operators often don’t even know exactly whom they’re targeting. So the AP’s own poll doesn’t show, as the story claims, “broad support among the U.S. public for a targeted killing program begun under President George W. Bush and expanded dramatically under Obama.” What it does show is broad support for a drone program that doesn’t exist.

    • The Drawbacks of Drones
      The shroud of government secrecy prevents meaningful congressional oversight over the executive branch and military. In addition, the secrecy associated with drones also prevents public discussion. Because of the lack of “boots on the ground,” the American public isn’t invested in drone strikes; the average American doesn’t know that the United States kills people everywhere from Pakistan to Yemen. Few Americans mention the “Pakistani War” — although the implications of American violence is just as important in Pakistan as it was in Iraq and Afghanistan. Drones let the United States kill people without the American public caring.

    • Warren Weinstein's death by drone is a wake-up call for America
      That makes eight American citizens who have been killed by drone strike during the Obama presidency. Weinstein isn't even the first innocent killed by mistake — that was the 16-year-old Abdulrahman al-Awlaki, son of Anwar al-Awlaki, the American al Qaeda propagandist and the only one of the eight who was killed deliberately. Obama did not even address Abdulrahman's extrajudicial killing, though former Press Secretary Robert Gibbs suggested he "should have had a more responsible father."

    • Who are the 8 Americans Killed by Drone Strikes?
      Since drones have been employed to kill terror suspects overseas, at least eight Americans have died in such attacks, seven during the Obama administration. Only one was specifically targeted, according to the U.S. government.

    • Double Standards and Drones
      American politicians and pundits genuflect to the theory of exceptionalism, which holds that the U.S. can do pretty much whatever it wants, but this lawlessness – best exemplified by drones raining down death on “terrorists” and civilians alike – makes more enemies than it kills, writes Marjorie Cohn.

    • Debating drones
      If Americans were still under the impression that drone warfare doesn’t pose risks to our national security, new revelations about the accidental killing of U.S. citizen and aid worker Warren Weinstein in a January drone strike over Pakistan should quickly end those delusions.

      President Obama properly has said that he accepts full responsibility for the death of Mr. Weinstein — a hostage of al-Qaeda — and that Americans deserve to know why he was mistakenly killed. But taking responsibility should mean more than apologizing for civilian deaths, American and foreign, after the fact.

    • Pakistanis accuse Obama of double standards on civilians killed by drones
      People in Pakistan who live under the threat of U.S. drone strikes see a double standard at work in Washington.

      Last week, President Barack Obama took the unusual step of acknowledging and apologizing for a highly secret US drone strike that accidentally killed an American and an Italian aid worker held captive by al Qaeda in Pakistan. The US government said their families would be compensated.

    • Letter: Oppose drones programmed to kill
      When Hamas sends a rocket into an Israeli city, it's labeled terrorism and deplored by all. A terrorist bomber in Boston receives a huge press following when he goes to trial for killing people during the Boston Marathon. That's terrorism. When President Obama orders "Team CIA" to take out a target, it's also terrorism. Historically, there has never been a drone strike where innocents were not killed. Maybe the administration feels that some lives are of little importance since they live in the Third World.

    • Obama’s Drone War: Indiscriminate Killing And Selective Apology
      Last week President Obama publicly apologized for the deaths of two Western hostages – one American and one Italian – killed accidentally by a U.S. drone attack on an al Qaeda camp in mid-January, somewhere in Pakistan. The widely publicized apology was heartening and disappointing at the same time. While American drones have so far killed thousands of innocent civilians and a handful of terrorists since 2004, the apology was disappointingly selective.

    • A Drone Killed My Friend, Warren Weinstein
      Instead of using drones to combat men who kidnap aid workers, let's support local movements that seek to prevent the men from taking such actions in the first place.

    • CIA’s torture experts and the secret drones programme
      The controversy over the CIA’s secret drone programme went from bad to worse last week. We now know that many of those running it are the same people who headed the CIA’s torture programme, the spy agency can bomb people unilaterally without the US president’s explicit approval and that the government is keeping the entire programme classified explicitly to prevent a federal court from ruling it illegal. And worst of all, Congress is perfectly fine with it .

    • CIA’s torture experts now use their skills in secret drones program

    • 'My grandmother wasn't a militant'
      Last week, US President Barack Obama acknowledged and apologised for a highly secretive drone strike that accidentally killed an American and Italian aid worker held captive by al Qaeda in Pakistan.

    • Here's why one former Taliban captive is calling for a halt to US 'signature' drone strikes
      Earlier this year, American drones equipped with heat sensors spent hundreds of hours scrutinizing a house in Pakistan's remote tribal areas. But despite the technology and time, the unmanned aircraft could only "see" so much before one finally attacked the house in January.

      "They thought there were four militants in the house, and the heat sensors only showed four militants," says Reuters investigative reporter David Rohde. "After the strike occurred, they watched the house, and I guess the CIA operators were stunned to see them pull out six bodies."

      The two unexpected bodies were those of American aid worker Warren Weinstein and his fellow captive, Italian Giovanni Lo Porto. Both were being held by al-Qaeda, and analysts now think the two captives might have been hidden in a basement or some sort of underground tunnel.

    • Your View: Brian Glyn Williams — CIA “Signature drone strikes” and the accidental killing of an American hostage
      The recent announcement by President Obama that the Central Intelligence Agency accidentally killed two hostages, an American and an Italian, in a drone strike carried out in mid-January on a Taliban compound in Pakistan’s remote tribal region where they were being held captive has caused a firestorm of controversy vis a vis the CIA’s murky drone campaign. Critics have cited the fact that the CIA fired on the compound where the hostages were being held, seemingly without knowing exactly who was inside it, as evidence that the program is indiscriminate and creates widespread “collateral damage” among civilian bystanders. Lost in the furor is an objective analysis of who is actually being killed in the covert drone campaign and what sort of intelligence and tactics/weapons are being deployed by the CIA and Joint Special Operations Command in drone operations. Instead, anti-drone voices seem to dominate the debate with wild claims that the majority of those who are killed by the drones are innocent civilian bystanders.

    • Guest Opinion: The illegality of high tech war
      Why has a Pakistani judge recently filed criminal charges against a former top CIA lawyer who oversaw its drone program and a former station chief in Islamabad over a 2009 strike that killed two people? The Islamabad High Court ruled CIA officials must face charges including murder, conspiracy, waging war against Pakistan and terrorism.

    • Smaller, Deadlier Drones Being Launched Despite Killing Innocents
      Despite admitting to killing three American citizens, at least one of whom was absolutely innocent and the victim of a drone strike, President Obama has no intention of dialing back on the deadly attacks that are the prime tactic in the “War on Terror.”

    • Death From Above
      There’s a reason for the recent dearth of news about drone strikes: There are far fewer of them now.

    • Other views: Drone policy must be scrutinized
      America is waging a war. And, for the most part, Americans are in the dark about it. We hear about it only on rare occasions, usually when the government chooses to let us know of a spectacular victory or when a tragic error forces authorities to break their silence.

      That happened when President Obama expressed regrets for the killings of two aid workers, one an American and the other an Italian. They were killed in Pakistan in January when a missile from a CIA drone came crashing through the roof. Warren Weinstein, the American, and Giovanni Lo Port, the Italian, were al Qaeda hostages. The CIA did not know they were in the building. President Obama told reporters, “I profoundly regret what happened. On behalf of the United States government I offer our deepest apologies to their families.”

    • The case against predator drones
      The program is secret, lawless, and unaccountable to Congress, the Supreme Court, and the American people.

    • Dangerous conditions at Djibouti base threatens US military pilots - Washington Post
      Conditions at an African base used by U.S. military pilots flying missions over Yemen and Somalia have become chronically dangerous, with fliers relying on local air-traffic controllers who sleep on the job and commit frequent errors, the Washington Post reported on Thursday.

    • Report: Djibouti Skies Dangerous for US Planes, Drones
      A published report says aircraft at the U.S. military base in Djibouti are often placed in danger because of hostile or lax civilian air traffic controllers who oversee the camp's runways.

    • Could German court halt White House’s ‘illegal’ drone war? An exclusive extract from Chris Woods’ new book Sudden Justice
      The debate over America’s use of drones to kill its own citizens has never been as intense. Last week in an unprecedented announcement, President Barack Obama admitted that CIA drones had killed three Americans in Pakistan in January, including al Qaeda hostage and aid worker Warren Weinstein.

      It is not just Americans who have been killed. As new research by the Bureau shows, Weinstein is one of at least 38 Westerners to have been killed in the US’s covert drone war on terror. Citizens of some of America’s closest allies – the UK, Germany, Australia and Canada among them – are among the dead.

    • Drones, Cops, and the Unaccountable Machinery of Death
      From signature strikes in Pakistan to police violence in Baltimore, the state is seemingly uninterested in even counting how many people it kills.

    • The Judge: Death Of Freddie Gray Was The Tipping Point For Baltimore
      They then moved on to the drone strikes and how Judge Napolitano thinks all Presidents of the United States should be charged with war crimes if an American is killed by a drone strike.

    • Andrew Napolitano Speaks On Unjustifiable Killings Of Americans In Baltimore And Overseas – OpEd

    • Due Process Shot Down by Drones
      Thomas Cromwell was the principal behind-the-scenes fixer for much of the reign of King Henry VIII. He engineered the interrogations, convictions, and executions of many whom Henry needed out of the way, including his two predecessors as fixer and even the king's second wife, Queen Anne.

    • Drone Operators, Not American Snipers, Rack Up the Biggest Body Count
      For all the macho posturing of the late Chris Kyle, gunned down at a shooting range by a PTSD-afflicted veteran, his prolific killing has nothing on the death and destruction rained from above by those who carry out US drone strikes in the Middle East. For all intents and purposes, former drone operator Brandon Bryant has Kyle beat by a long shot. According to Bryant, over 1,600 deaths were dealt by him through the technological terror that patrolled the skies of the Middle East for the past decade. Unlike Kyle, though, Bryant isn’t flaunting his skill as a State-sanctioned murderer: he regrets it. For six years, he flew the missions on orders from on high. Now he’s retired from it and is speaking out. Bryant was diagnosed with PTSD shortly after leaving the program, odd only because normal diagnoses involve situations of prolonged mortal terror. Air Force psychologists have referred to conditions similar to Bryant’s as “existential conflict”, or “moral injury”.

    • Drones’ Use and Misuse
      Militarily, killing people in foreign nations without Congress’ declaration of war or authorization of force violates the Constitution and Law of Nations. Using drones makes matters worse for diplomacy considering the secretive and distant approach to such unlawful intrusions. Controlling this, however, is difficult because the people have virtually no power in these matters. Perhaps Congress can – not a promising thought.

    • Reality check: Drones aren’t precision weapons [pro-drones]
      Every weapons system, from the bow and arrow to the intercontinental ballistic missile, sometimes kills the wrong people. So why has the revelation that a U.S. drone strike accidentally killed two al-Qaida hostages — a U.S. citizen and an Italian aid worker — created such a storm of drone “rethinking”?

      Part of the answer is that liberal critics of drone strikes, who’ve questioned their legality, are using the opportunity to repeat and reframe their criticisms. I’ve joined in some of that criticism in the past and stand by it.

    • Why We Need Persistent Questioning About Civilian Deaths by Drones
      According to a 2013 study, while most Americans approve drone strikes targeting high-level terrorist targets, they disapprove that recourse when there is the possibility of civilian deaths. In short, most Americans would disapprove the current use of drones if it were ever properly aired.

    • What the United States Owes Warren Weinstein
      The American hostage died in a "signature" drone strike. Those strikes should end.

    • Eugene Robinson: Strikes against morality
      Drone strikes, by their nature, are bound to kill innocent civilians. It is all too easy to ignore this ugly fact – and the dubious morality of the whole enterprise – until the unfortunate victims happen to be Westerners.

    • Critics blast Obama as new drone strike accidentally kills hostages
      The hostages were aid workers who had been kidnapped several years ago, one of them a 72-year-old man from Maryland who was working as a contractor for the U.S. Agency for International Development and had been captured in 2011, and the other being a 39-year-old Italian man who was captured in 2012, according to a McClatchy report.


      The paper pointed out that of nine Americans that have been killed by drone strikes since 2002, only one was actually a target. Although no hostages have ever been killed by a drone strike until now, unintended victims are not a new phenomenon, the paper wrote.

    • Calculating U.S. Bomb Tonnages Dropped on Laos and Cambodia, and Weighing Their Implications
      In 2013 David Rohde of Reuters reported that “Drone strikes do kill senior militants at times, but using them excessively and keeping them secret sows anti-Americanism that jihadists use as a recruiting tool.” As discussion continued over “How Drones Create More Terrorists,” Hassan Abbas remarked that in targeted areas, “Public outrage against drone strikes circuitously empowers terrorists.”

    • Ralph Nader on Bernie Sanders, Corporate Control of the White House & the U.S. Drone War
      As independent Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont announces his bid for the Democratic presidential nomination, we continue our conversation with former presidential candidate Ralph Nader, author of the new book, "Return to Sender: Unanswered Letters to the President, 2001-2015."

    • America is at War With Its Conscience
      In these early stages of the 2016 presidential election cycle in the United States, the race to proclaim America’s place at the zenith of “exceptionalism” among the nations of the world has only just begun.

    • Did drone strikes lose Yemen?
      At this point, the U.S. continues to refuse to recognize the impact of its drone program on civilian populations. But, at the very least, it should not export to other countries the secretive and possibly illegal model of drone warfare that it is using in Yemen.

    • 'Decapitation strikes' on terrorist groups may bolster attacks against civilians: study
      But what if the basic premise behind so-called “decapitation programs” (attacks that target the leaders of an organization) is wrong? What if drone attacks or other forms of targeted assassination using special operations hit teams leads to more terror attacks on civilians?

    • Autonomy Whether You Like It or Not
      Whether opponents realize it or not, weapon autonomy — to include the choice to kill — will win, and in some cases has already won, the drone debate. The false wall in the public’s understanding between “drones” and existing weapons is publicly cracking. Before long, military necessity will take over. In fact, it already has.

    • Why the US Should Support Damascus
      Before 2001 the U.S. had long pursued policies that supported a range of unpopular Middle East dictatorships.The spectrum ran from the Saudi Monarchy with its fanatical fundamentalist worldview to more secular dictatorships such as the one in Egypt. This practice identified us in the popular mind with bad people and bad governments and made us the enemy of those seeking liberty and democracy. In addition, we supported the Israeli oppression of the Palestinians and that made us unpopular with, among others, almost every Muslim on the planet. None of this was in the America’s genuine national interest but it certainly was in the interest of special interests such as Zionists, oil companies and arms manufacturers.

    • Challenging American Exceptionalism
      American exceptionalism reflects the belief that Americans are somehow better than everyone else. This view reared its head after the 2013 leak of a Department of Justice White Paper that describes circumstances under which the President can order the targeted killing of U.S. citizens. There had been little public concern in this country about drone strikes that killed people in other countries. But when it was revealed that U.S. citizens could be targeted, Americans were outraged. This motivated Senator Rand Paul to launch his 13-hour filibuster of John Brennan’s nomination for CIA director.

    • Our anger at executions should extend to deeper outrages
      The question is not why people are outraged by the killing of Chan and Sukumaran, but why aren't people outraged more often about other injustices and unjustified killings?

    • The Bali Nine, Indonesia and state-sanctioned violence
      Many Australians are understandably appalled by the brutal and pointless executions of Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran. The death penalty looks anachronistic and ineffective at the best of times, but to kill two people who had clearly made the most of their long periods of incarceration to transform themselves and make amends for their actions looks gratuitous and cruel.

    • The Bali Nine, Indonesia and state-sanctioned violence

    • Kenya’s sorrow: the U.S. connection

    • Tom Hayden on 40th Anniv. of Fall of Saigon: We Are Meeting the Pentagon on Battlefield of Memory
      It was 40 years ago today, April 30, 1975, that the Vietnam War ended with the fall of Saigon, today known as Ho Chi Minh City. North Vietnamese tanks smashed through the gates of the presidential palace in the South Vietnamese capital, and Communist soldiers hoisted their flag atop the building. Meanwhile, March marked the 50th anniversary of the first teach-in against the Vietnam War called "End the War Against the Planet.” The 1965 event brought together professors and activists at the University of Michigan to discuss what they called the truths and mistruths of the U.S. government’s involvement in the Vietnam War. Our guest, Tom Hayden, was there and brought with him a long history of antiwar activism. He was one of the founders of Students for a Democratic Society, and in 1962 he was the principal author of the Port Huron Statement, considered a seminal document of the New Left. As many of this year’s events marking the end of the Vietnam War are being organized by the Pentagon, this Friday and Saturday Hayden other longtime antiwar activists will join youth organizers for a conference in Washington, D.C., called "Vietnam: The Power of Protest. Telling the Truth. Learning the Lessons."

    • 40 Years After End of Vietnam War, Let's Not Forget Who Helped Stop It and the Vietnamese Who Still Suffer
      After decades of struggle against French and U.S. intervention, Vietnam was finally independent and at peace.
    • The Kingpin Strategy
      As the war on terror nears its 14th anniversary -- a war we seem to be losing, given jihadist advances in Iraq, Syria, and Yemen -- the U.S. sticks stolidly to its strategy of “high-value targeting,” our preferred euphemism for assassination. Secretary of State John Kerry has proudly cited the elimination of “fifty percent” of the Islamic State’s “top commanders” as a recent indication of progress. Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi himself, “Caliph” of the Islamic State, was reportedly seriously wounded in a March airstrike and thereby removed from day-to-day control of the organization. In January, as the White House belatedly admitted, a strike targeting al-Qaeda leadership in Pakistan also managed to kill an American, Warren Weinstein, and his fellow hostage, Giovanni Lo Porto.
    • How Assassination Sold Drugs and Promoted Terrorism
      No one can claim that plotting assassination is new to Washington or that, in the past, American leaders and the CIA didn’t aim high: the Congo’s Patrice Lumumba, Cuba’s Fidel Castro, the Dominican Republic’s Rafael Trujillo. The difference was that, in those days, the idea of assassinating a foreign leader, or anyone abroad, had a certain element of the taboo attached to it. Whatever they knew, presidents preferred not to be officially involved. The phrase of the era was “plausible deniability.” Top officials, including presidents, might approve assassination plots, but they didn’t brag about them.
    • Proof the U.S. is rotten to the core
      Story 2: David Petraeus, former hotshot media-darling general of the Bush and early Obama years, received a slap on the wrist — probation plus a $100,000 fine — for improperly passing on classified military documents to unauthorized people and lying about it to federal agents when they questioned him about it.

      Here we go again: more proof that, in the American justice system some people fly first-class while the rest of us go coach.

    • Hot Docs 2015 Interview: DRONE, Tonje Hessen Schei Talks Gamers And Geopolitics

    • Drone [Hot Docs 2015]
      The simply named Norwegian documentary Drone takes a serious and unflinching look at one of the things that truly changed the face of warfare: unmanned aerial devices, or, as they’re more commonly known, drones. It should go without saying that director Tonje Hessen Schei isn’t a fan. Ask the average person about drones, and you’ll probably get some mixed feelings on their use and the morality of using machines to rain fire on people by pilots who are safely ensconced in bunkers several thousand miles away. Schei wants to make the case that not only is drone warfare immoral, but it’s another example of how we’re letting technology outpace the legal and ethical framework to govern their use.
    • Weekly War Protest Enters Year 10
      When the U.S. invaded Iraq, a group of concerned Chelsea residents gathered at the corner of Eighth Ave. and W. 24th St. to protest the military action. Ten years later, Chelsea Neighbors United to End the War continues their weekly protest. Known as Chelsea Stands Up Against the War, it takes place every Tues. from 6–7 p.m. as the group holds banners, hands out newsletters and tells passers-by why war is ruining our country.

      “After the invasion of Iraq, a few of us said, ‘This is awful, we need to do something to speak out,’ ” recalled longtime member Bob Martin. “We got together for coffee at Paradise, and that’s when the idea of our weekly ‘stand-up’ started.”
    • Drone warfare
      The botched drone strike resulting in the death of two foreign hostages has once again brought the controversial nature of this tactic to the forefront. It is very sad that the death of two US men in a drone attack made headlines but other civilian deaths were swept under the carpet by describing them as collateral damage. The US does not realize the cost of these drone strikes and the resultant civilian causalities. These drone attacks are fueling the fire of radicalism in the Muslim world. Washington on and off expresses concern over the growing anti-America sentiments in the Muslim world but fails to identify the factors that lead to such a situation.
    • Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Launches Campaign to Stop Killer Robots After Winning Ban on Landmines

      In 1997 Jody Williams won the Nobel Peace Prize for her work with the International Campaign to Ban Landmines. In 2013 she helped launch the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots. "Who is accountable? Is it the man who programmed it? Is it Lockheed Martin, who built it?" Williams asks in an interview at The Hague, where she has joined 1,000 female peace activists gathered to mark the founding of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom. Williams notes how some "spider-like" robots that spray tear gas are now used for crowd control, but could be stopped before they become widespread. She recalls how she was previously able to "force the governments of the world to come together and discuss [landmines]. They thought they would fly under the radar … A small group of people can and do change the world."
    • The C.I.A. Does Not Want Us to Know How Many Civilians Our Drones Kill
      When President Barack Obama issued a public apology Thursday to the families of Warren Weinstein and Giovanni Lo Porto after a U.S drone strike accidentally killed the two al-Qaeda hostages in January, it provided a rare opportunity for the American public to see the faces of civilians who are killed in such incidents.
    • CIA's efforts stem scrutiny of strikes
    • Friends of Italian hostage killed by US drone strike plead for return of his body
      Friends of Giovanni Lo Porto, the Italian hostage killed in a US drone strike in January that targeted an al-Qaida compound, are pleading for his remains to be returned to Italy and demanding information about his death.
    • Our View: The upcoming U.S. policy review of hostage situations will be timely
      The recently revealed deaths of two al-Qaida-held hostages killed by an American drone strike were a terrible tragedy. The hearts of Americans go out to the victims’ families.
    • Obama’s drone war: too many mistakes, too little contrition
      An American citizen was among the victims of a US drone strike abroad. President Barack Obama did not take to the podium, did not give a laudatory obituary for the dead American, did not express his regret. In fact, the Obama administration took almost two years to even acknowledge its role in the death, but without any explanation other than to suggest, in anonymous comments to the press, that the American was collateral damage in a legitimate attack.
    • When CIA Drone Strikes Kill Innocent Westerners
      Obama, McCain, Feinstein, and Boehner all know that U.S. drone strikes have killed many hundreds of innocent people, often in circumstances far less defensible than this.
    • FBI Helped Facilitate Ransom for U.S. Hostage Killed in Drone Strike
      The FBI’s previously undisclosed role reveals a contradiction in the U.S.’s longstanding position against paying ransoms for hostages. While the White House sharply criticizes the practice in public and private, new details about the Weinstein case show how the FBI provides some families with guidance towards that end.

    • Dem proposes new ‘hostage czar’ after U.S. drone killed an American held by Al Qaeda
      Sen. John Delaney (D-Md.) is planning to introduce legislation that would create a new “hostage czar” position in the federal government, in an effort to try harder to locate and recover American hostages.

    • Maryland congressman proposes ‘hostage czar’

    • Democrat Calls For ‘Hostage Czar’ After Drone Strike Kills Aid Worker
      On Thursday, Barack Obama announced that a U.S. drone strike accidentally killed two hostages, prompting a congressional democrat to call for a “hostage czar,” a single point person who can coordinate with various agencies on hostage issues. Obama’s press secretary wouldn’t rule out the possibility.
    • $250,000 Ransom Paid To Al Qaeda For Warren Weinstein, Hostage Killed In Drone Strike
    • Family of US hostage gave Al Qaeda $250G before deadly drone strike, report says

    • Sen. Burr deflects questions about calling for drone killing
      Sen. Richard Burr of North Carolina, the Republican chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, declined on Wednesday to discuss whether during a closed-door hearing he called for a suspected terrorist to be killed.

    • Humanitarian Groups Say It Is Time For Obama to Acknowledge More Civilian Deaths in Drone Strikes
      Mamana Bibi was picking produce from her garden in North Waziristan, a remote, tribal corner of Pakistan, when her family says they watched a drone strike kill their 68 year-old grandmother.
    • Are All Innocents Killed by Drones Equal?
      While all death is tragic, one of the greatest tragedies is the killing of people who are completely innocent, so it was with much soul searching and question that we ponder the deaths of two innocent Americans killed in a US drone strike in Pakistan. The President has said he assumes all responsibility, but families have been shattered, lives have ended, and questions are being raised, as well they should. News stories indicate no individual was targeted in this strike; it was the specific building that drew the interest of the drone strike. This means we have no idea of who, or how many individuals were in the building, nor was it important; it is the building that was targeted and apparently everything else was irrelevant. Recently it was also disclosed that cell phones are frequently targeted by drones. Certain cell phones are targeted and we have no idea who is using the phone at the time of death. If an innocent somehow is using the targeted phone, he or she, is simply vaporized and blown to tiny bits. Every time an innocent person dies there should be in inquiry, investigation, and someone should be held accountable and punished. Mr Obama took full responsibility for the two dead Americans, so how can he not be responsible for the thousands of dead innocents that occur from drone strikes he ordered? The latest drone strike that killed two Americans demonstrates the complete hypocrisy of the American people and the President, for their total lack of empathy for any lost lives of innocents, be they children or women, except Americans.
    • Obama’s Drone Warfare: Assassination Made Routine
      But there was no challenge to the basic premise of the drone missile program: that the CIA and Pentagon have the right to kill any individual, in any country, on the mere say-so of the president. Drone murder by the US government has become routine and is accepted as normal and legitimate by the official shapers of public opinion.
    • Obama rallies intelligence staff after botched drone strike which killed hostages
      A day after revealing that the United States killed two Western hostages in a botched operation against al Qaeda, a mournful President Barack Obama assembled intelligence staff to pay tribute to their work and patriotism.

      “There may be those outside who question or challenge what we do,” a resolute Obama told officials at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence as he addressed the deaths of 73-year-old American Warren Weinstein and 39-year-old Italian Giovanni Lo Porto.
    • Do Drones Degrade al Qa’ida?
      In fact, drones may have led to an expansion of terrorism activity domestically and abroad.
    • View from the courtroom: Killing of US national brings drone strikes in the spotlight
      The killing of an American aid worker Warren Weinstein and Italian Giovanni Lo Porto, who were held hostage by Al Qaeda in Pakistani tribal area, in an American drone strike in January this year has again brought to limelight the issues related to such attacks. It has given birth to several questions regarding the legality of drone strikes in tribal areas as well as the intelligence gathering involved in it. An Al Qaeda leader, Ahmad Farouq, was also killed in that strike on Jan 15.

    • Obama-Authorized Murder by Drones
      Obama-authorized drone killings are cold-blooded murder by any standard - mostly affecting noncombatant civilians, innocent men, women and children in harm's way.

      Former Obama White House press secretary Jay Carney lied calling drone strikes "precise, lawful and effective."
    • When drone strikes go wrong, not all civilian lives are equal
      The unusual announcement by President Barack Obama last week that a U.S. strike on an al-Qaida compound in Pakistan inadvertently had killed two hostages — one a U.S. citizen, the other Italian — came with an apology and the speedy pledge of monetary compensation for the families.
    • When US strikes go wrong, not all civilian lives are equal
    • When drone warfare is accepted as normal
      But there was no challenge to the basic premise of the drone missile program: that the CIA and Pentagon have the right to kill any individual, in any country, on the mere say-so of the president. Drone murder by the US government has become routine and is accepted as normal and legitimate by the official shapers of public opinion.
    • Blurry Covert Lines Limit Chances Of Drone Program Changes
      Covert actions, by definition, are not allowed to violate U.S. law or the Constitution, though the agency’s post-9/11 torture program -- which functioned under secret legal memos justifying techniques that were later qualified as torture -- illustrated the delicate legal tap dances that can skirt those requirements.
    • Life and Death of an Al Qaeda Spokesman

    • Obama gave CIA more flexibility to strike drones in Pakistan: US Officials
      President Barack Obama tightened rules for the U.S. drone program in 2013, but he secretly approved a waiver giving the Central Intelligence Agency more flexibility in Pakistan than anywhere else to strike suspected militants, according to current and former U.S. officials.

      The rules were designed to reduce the risk of civilian casualties. Mr. Obama also required that proposed targets pose an imminent threat to the U.S.—but the waiver exempted the CIA from this standard in Pakistan.
    • Anti-Flag Post New Lyric Video Addressing Drone Strikes, Comment on Unrest in Baltimore
      Anti-Flag have just released a lyric video for their song “Sky Is Falling” off their upcoming album American Spring, out May 26 on Spinefarm Records. The leftist Pittsburgh punk quartet posted the video to express its concerns over the killing of civilians by drone strikes ordered by the Obama administration.
    • Australia Needs to Be Transparent on Drones
      The Australian government should come clean on its role in the U.S. drone program, before buying its own.

    • Did Obama pledge to stop using 'signature strikes'?
      But the continued use of signature strikes goes against what President Barack Obama said he was going to do, said ABC News security consultant Richard Clarke, who spent 30 years working in government, including 10 years in the White House, before leaving in 2003.
    • Israel used Gaza as arms testing factory
      Sales figures in November 2014 showed that Britain approved an arms sales trade with Israel worth €£7 million in the six months before its offensive on Gaza last summer, including drone parts, combat aircraft and helicopters.
    • Israel’s Gaza Onslaught Targeted Children And UN Shelters
      As Israel faces mounting criticism over its killings of at least 44 Palestinians in six UN shelters and 547 children overall last summer, 100,000 in Gaza remain displaced as “not a single destroyed home has been rebuilt.”
    • Carter: Obama’s Orwellian language on drone strikes
      There is an eerie Orwellian cost to the Obama administration's refusal to use the term "War on Terror" to describe its ... war on terror. In his briefing after the White House's admission that two hostages — one American, one Italian — were killed in a U.S. "operation," press secretary Josh Earnest struggled mightily to avoid the word "war" to describe exactly what the up to. Finally he gave in and stated that under the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Terrorists, the nation is "at war" with al- Qaida.

    • A top fundraiser for Obama turns from Wall Street to drones
      In one camp are those who argue that drones are much more cost-effective than putting boots on the ground and are in general accurate and effective. The opposite camp maintains that the whole counterterrorism program needs to be revamped in favor of a “root causes of terrorism” method. Instead of spending billions of dollars on fighting terrorism, this camp argues that fighting the root causes of radicalization would be much more effective and cost-efficient.

  • Transparency Reporting

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

    • Azerbaijan-Armenia violence escalates, putting pipelines at risk
      Hostilities between Azerbaijan and Armenia are mounting 21 years after a cease-fire froze a conflict that flared in the dying days of the Soviet Union. During the relative calm, companies including BP poured billions of dollars into producing oil and gas in Azerbaijan and building pipelines to link the country with Turkey, Italy and the rest of Europe.

  • Censorship

    • CPJ report says self-censorship a new way to stifle Turkish media
      According to the CPJ's report published in December of 2014, seven journalists remain behind bars. Since then, STV network executive Hidayet Karaca and Taraf journalist Mehmet Baransu have been locked up for critical reporting, drawing international condemnation.

    • Self-censorship a new way to stifle Turkish media, CPJ says
      In its annual assessment of the media freedom worldwide, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has argued that Turkish authorities now consider declaring critical journalists as "unwanted" is a more efficient, cunning method of stifling the free press, rather than jailing them for their reporting, as daily Today's Zaman reports. "Erdogan seems to have realized that he no longer needs to resort to jailing journalists," the report entitled "Attacks on the Press" said, referring to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. According to the CPJ's latest report, there are seven journalists remain behind the bars. The Turkey section of the CPJ report, said the Turkish media has fallen into "full compliance with the structures of power," most notably those of Erdogan in the past five years.

    • CPJ underlines growing fear and self-censorship in Turkey's media

    • 2015 Jefferson Muzzles released, take aim at censorship
      The Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression in Charlottesville, Virginia, on Monday released its annual rogue’s gallery of those who sought to snuff speech over the past year. The center said many violent attempts to still speech happened on the global stage, including the bloody attack on the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris and violent threats against the opening of the movie parody “The Interview.”

    • CPJ Says Censorship In Azerbaijan, Iran Among World's Worst
      Eritrea and North Korea were named as the first and second most censored countries.

    • Cuba among 10 Countries with Most Censorship, CPJ Says
      Cuba, Iran and China are among the 10 countries with the greatest censorship, according to a list prepared by the Committee to Protect Journalists, where Eritrea, North Korea and Saudi Arabia occupy the three top spots.

      The study was prepared by the New York-headquartered organization based on research into tactics that range from imprisonment and repressive laws governing reporting to harassment of journalists and restrictions on Internet access.

    • Growing opposition to censorship of SEP (Australia) anti-war meeting
      Workers, students, academics, and young people from across Australia and internationally have sent letters of protest to Sydney University and Burwood Council, opposing the attempts by both institutions to block an anti-war meeting called by the Socialist Equality Party (SEP).

    • Australian Copyright Censorship Bill Could Block VPNs and Circumvention Information
      The steamroller that is the copyright enforcement machine continues to trundle along around the world, flattening obstacles such as fair use, privacy and freedom of expression in its path. One of its latest stops has been in Australia, where that country’s copyright site-blocking laws, first seriously mooted last year, were introduced into the Australian Federal Parliament last month. A public comment period on the legislation, the Copyright Amendment (Online Infringement) Bill 2015, closed two weeks ago, and EFF was amongst 49 experts, organizations and government departments who submitted comments.

    • This Chart Explains Everything You Need to Know About Chinese Internet Censorship
      What goes through a Chinese web user’s head the moment before he or she hits the “publish” button? Pundits, scholars, and everyday netizens have spent years trying to parse the (ever-shifting) rules of the Chinese Internet. Although Chinese authorities have been putting ever more Internet rules and regulations on the books — one famously creates criminal liability for a “harmful” rumor shared more than 500 times — the line between what’s allowed and what isn’t, and the consequences that flow from the latter, remains strategically fuzzy. And that’s just how Chinese authorities like it.

    • Scaling the firewall: Ways around government censorship online

      As countries such as Turkey, China, Ethiopia, and Bahrain block online content, people are discovering ways to get around Internet censors. Their methods depend on the kind of censorship they face and what they are doing online.

    • Censorship at Britain’s Southampton University
      Here is the situation: the threat of aggressive public protests against those assembling to critically discuss the behaviour of Israel has become an excuse to shut down such gatherings. The latest example of this tactic, which is really a form of blackmail to impose censorship, took place last week at the University of Southampton in the UK.

      An international conference entitled “International law and the state of Israel: Legitimacy, responsibility and exceptionalism” was scheduled for 17-19 April 2015 at the University of Southampton. It was to bring together lawyers and scholars to examine the legal basis for the establishment of the state of Israel and the rationales (or lack thereof) for its historical treatment of the Palestinian people. The standard by which these issues were to be judged was international law. The conference would also have examined the issue of exceptionalism when it came to the inadequate legal and diplomatic response to Israeli policies and behaviour. Conference participants were to include both those critical of Israel and those who would present a defence of Israeli practices.

    • BBC denies censorship claims over Andrew Turner footage
      CLAIMS of censorship, levelled against the BBC after it asked for footage of Tory election candidate Andrew Turner to be taken off YouTube, have been rejected by the broadcaster.

    • The Facebook Bug that Many Feared Was Censorship
      The whole thing began very quickly to look and feel like censorship, and people said as much. But was it actually limited to stories about Baltimore, or are stories about Baltimore just what many of us are sharing on Facebook right now? Some others soon chimed in with reports of being unable to post pictures of their kids, wedding photographs, and “completely unrelated science articles.” Social media company SocialFlow tweeted: “Facebook confirmed API issue starting at 5:15 EST. Looks like it’s now resolved and publishing is going back to normal. We are monitoring.” So, it wasn’t censorship after all — just Facebook being extremely glitchy. And lo and behold, by the time I finished writing this, my post with #BaltimoreUprising had been restored to my page.

    • Censorship has got worse: Patwardhan
      The session Free the Word, that began at 10.30am, saw filmmaker Anand Patwardhan and writers/journalists Manu Joseph, CP Surendran and Naresh Fernandes discuss the changing dynamics of the published word, freedom of expression and the increasing prevalence of censorship.

    • Censorship means book is a 'waste of effort'
      A "wonderful" book for teenagers is going to waste due to censorship, a former teacher says.

      Betty Robb, 76, borrowed Into the River by Ted Dawes from Glenfield Library in Auckland and was told by staff it was restricted to readers aged over 14.

      Betty says the librarian then added insult to injury by telling her she was not allowed to lend it to anyone under 14.

      "It is probably easier to steal a car and go for a joy ride than borrow a restricted book."

      Into the River is a coming-of-age novel that sees a 14-year-old Maori boy struggling to find his own way while battling with his cultural identity.

      He moves from small-town rural New Zealand to a prestigious boarding school in Auckland after winning a scholarship.

    • New film censorship board planned
      A new Cayman Islands film censorship board, with responsibility for rating movies to be shown in the territory, is being set up.

      The board will principally be responsible for censoring independent unrated movies, but also has the power to ban films and to reclassify mainstream movies already rated by international censors.

    • Canadian Pro-Lifers Tell Ontario: Stop Censoring Pro-Life People on Abortion

    • Pro-lifers launch Charter challenge against ‘anti-democratic’ Ontario law withholding abortion data

    • World Press Freedom Day: Tracking Censorship in Canada

    • Twitter begins heavy-handed censorship -- will force users to delete tweets
      Luckily, one such social media site, Twitter, has been putting a strong focus on curtailing bullying and offensive tweets. Today, the company is stepping up its efforts, but it seems to be going too far. What can only be described as heavy-handed censorship, Twitter will be deciding what is offensive and even forcing users to delete tweets. In other words, the company is attempting to unring a bell, by making users erase language that has already been communicated.

    • Twitter's new anti-abuse filter hides harassing tweets from your mentions
      The move comes after leaked internal memos from CEO Dick Costolo back in February showed the social network thought it should be doing more to reduce trolling on the service.

    • Would Malaysia really censor the Internet?
      Malaysia's elder statesman, Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, used a speech at a social media conference to advocate outright censorship of the Internet, a call that may worry investors as the country's economy falters.

    • Now Dr M backs internet censorship to combat pornography, subversive elements
      Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad today called for internet censorship in the country, claiming that the freedom that was granted has not been used to create “beautiful things”.

      The former prime minister, who made a pledge to never censor the internet during his 22-year tenure, said there are too many avenues where internet freedom can be abused to access “filth” such as pornography or learn how to build bombs and the like.

    • How PBS Censorship of Ben Affleck’s Slave-Owning Ancestors Could Damage the Network
      The publicly-funded PBS network is suffering harsh criticism over the revelation that it censored Ben Affleck‘s past in a show about ancestral roots.

    • Ben Affleck Reveals Slave-Owning Ancestor As PBS Investigates Possible Censorship

    • Portuguese media uproar over 'censorship' law proposal
      It comes at an awkward time as Saturday marks the 41st anniversary of the country’s revolution, which overthrew a regime that regularly censored the press.

    • Exhibit B 'human zoo' sparks art and censorship controversy
      According to the artist, "Exhibit B" is meant as a nod to the so-called "Human Zoos" which are an actual artifact of colonial history. But in the present day, "Exhibit B" has drawn a huge amount of protest. When a London institution, the Barbican, planned to show it last year, it ended up canceling because of protests.

    • University reconsidering decision to cancel Charlie Hebdo conference
      Queen’s University Belfast issues statement suggesting possibility of conference going ahead, after accusations of curbing academic freedom

    • Je Suis Charlie? Self-Censorship Symposium Censors Itself Over Security Concerns
      Queen’s University in Belfast has cancelled a symposium on Charlie Hebdo and free speech because of the security risk and concern for the university’s reputation.

      One of the main topics of discussion, which was titled “Understanding Charlie: New perspectives on contemporary citizenship after Charlie Hebdo”, was to be self-censorship after the attacks on the French magazine in January.

    • Censorship: the real Islamophobia on campus
      After coming under intense scrutiny, Queen’s University Belfast has reneged on its decision to cancel an upcoming conference entitled ‘Understanding Charlie: New Perspectives on Contemporary Citizenship After Charlie Hebdo’. The university called off the conference last week, citing security concerns. The original decision to cancel the conference was met with widespread condemnation, with philosopher Brian Klug, one of the prospective delegates, saying he was ‘baffled’ and ‘dismayed’ by the decision.

    • Queen’s Charlie Hebdo conference ‘approved’
      The university cancelled the event stating a risk assessment of the symposium had not been completed to allow it to proceed.

    • Charlie Hebdo event WILL go ahead at Queen's University after risk assessment carried out
      A conference on the Charlie Hebdo massacre will take place in Belfast after a U-turn by Queen’s University.

      The university cancelled the symposium last month stating a risk assessment had not been completed to allow it to proceed.

      The move sparked widespread criticism.

  • Privacy

    • Govt 'lied' to parliament about NSA spying
      The government has been accused of lying to the Bundestag (German parliament) after it emerged last week that Chancellor Angela Merkel's office knew German spies were conducting economic espionage on behalf of the Americans.

    • Airbus to sue NSA, German spies accused of swiping tech secrets
      European aerospace giant Airbus is promising legal action over claims its top blueprints were stolen by German spies and given to America's intelligence agencies.

      "We are aware that as a large company in the sector, we are a target and subject of espionage," the company said in a statement to the AFP newswire.

      "However, in this case we are alarmed because there is concrete suspicion of industrial espionage. We will now file a criminal complaint against persons unknown on suspicion of industrial espionage."

    • Coverup claims over revelation that Germany spied on EU partners for US
      Germany has been spying and eavesdropping on its closest partners in the EU and passing the information to the US for more than a decade, a parliamentary inquiry in Berlin has found, triggering allegations of lying and coverups reaching to the very top of Angela Merkel’s administration.

    • German Government Is Accused of Spying on European Allies for NSA
      Accusations that Germany’s intelligence service helped the U.S. spy on European allies have rekindled German outrage over American snooping and ensnared Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government in an espionage scandal.

    • Airbus to press charges on NSA/BND spying claims
      Airbus is not taking the latest NSA allegations lightly. The European aviation giant has requested information from the German government and plans to press industrial espionage charges against unknown persons.

    • German govt accused of lying to parliament about NSA spying
      Angela Merkel’s government has been accused of lying to the country’s parliament after it was alleged that it knew German spies were conducting economic espionage for the NSA. Revelations show that some spooks were even spying on German companies.
    • The NSA's greatest hiring strength is students, but resistance is growing
      For years the NSA has used the incentive of paid tuition to lure talented teens into employment with the agency. But in light of the Snowden leaks, students are organizing against what they see as just another invasion of their privacy rights

    • A Top-Secret NSA Site Draws Swipes, Shrugs
      The government built the giant facility known simply as the “Utah Data Center” on property controlled and secured by the Utah National Guard, which means the public has no access.


      The city’s mayor, Derk Timothy, who helped negotiate a contract last year to sell the Utah Data Center 56 million gallons of water for $300,000, has spent more than a year defending the agency’s presence with locals, saying the NSA has brought in jobs and helped develop the rural area’s infrastructure. He said he has no idea what goes on there, but he thinks that is for a reason.
    • NSA-restraining US law edges closer to reality, leaves just 6.81 billion under mass surveillance
      A law bill to mildly curb the NSA's blanket surveillance of innocent Americans has taken an important step toward being passed.

      On Thursday, the US House of Representatives' justice committee voted 25 to two in favor of a revised version of the USA Freedom Act – the original was killed last year in the Senate.

    • ACLU: NSA phone dragnet should be killed not amended
      The U.S. Congress should kill the section of the Patriot Act that has allowed the National Security Agency to collect millions of phone records from the nation’s residents, instead of trying to amend it, a civil liberties advocate said Friday.

      Section 215 of the Patriot Act, which allows the NSA to collect phone records, business records and any other “tangible things” related to an anti-terrorism investigation, expires in June, and lawmakers should let it die, said Neema Singh Guliani, legislative counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union.
    • NSA snooping program on last legs after anti-Patriot Act vote
      The House Judiciary Committee put the NSA’s phone-snooping program on the path to being scrapped Thursday when a bipartisan majority voted for major reforms to the Patriot Act.

    • Bill reforming NSA collection of phone data advances in US House
      After falling two votes shy of earning a floor vote in the US Senate last year, lawmakers are once again trying to pass a bill that reforms the way the National Security Agency gathers the phone records of American citizens.
    • NSA reform bill imperilled as it competes with alternative effort in the Senate
      Final push in the House for USA Freedom Act is welcomed by White House but opponents push to retain sweeping surveillance powers of pre-Snowden era


      More directly related to the Section 215 debate, the USA Freedom Act will extend the Patriot Act powers until 2019.

    • Germany's BND 'helped' NSA to snoop on European firms and politicians
      Germany's intelligence arm, the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND), allegedly helped the US National Security Agency (NSA) in spying on hundreds of European companies, regional entities and politicians.
    • Germany's BND 'helped' NSA to snoop on European firms and politicians

    • Why the N.S.A. Isn’t Howling Over Restrictions
      For years after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, even as the National Security Agency fiercely defended its secret efforts to sweep up domestic telephone data, there were doubters inside the agency who considered the program wildly expensive with few successes to show for it.

      So as Congress moves to take the government out of the business of indiscriminate bulk collection of domestic calling data, the agency is hardly resisting. Former intelligence officials, in fact, said Friday that the idea to store the data with telecommunications companies rather than the government was suggested to President Obama in 2013 by Gen. Keith B. Alexander, then the N.S.A. director, who saw the change as a way for the president to respond to criticism without losing programs the N.S.A. deemed more vital.
    • Secret law is a 'direct threat' to Americans' privacy, says NSA whistleblower
      It's not often you walk out after having lunch with a polite and intelligent retiree and know that you're probably now on a government watchlist.

      On Wednesday, I spoke with William Binney, a former National Security Agency official turned whistleblower, at a lunch event hosted by Contrast Security founder Jeff Williams.

      Binney, who spent more than three decades at the shadowy intelligence agency, left a month after the September 11 attacks in 2001 when he saw that the foreign intelligence gathering program he helped develop was being turned domestically. After blowing the whistle to Congress, his house was raided by the FBI, though he was never charged with a crime. Binney remains one of the foremost thinkers in the agency's modern history. Edward Snowden said he was inspired in part by previous leakers and whistleblowers, a list that includes Binney.

    • NSA is so overwhelmed with data, it's no longer effective, says whistleblower
      A former National Security Agency official turned whistleblower has spent almost a decade and a half in civilian life. And he says he's still "pissed" by what he's seen leak in the past two years.


      That, he said, can -- and has -- led to terrorist attacks succeeding.
    • US states take aim at NSA over warrantless surveillance
      The particular target of his ire is the Texas Cryptologic Center, an NSA facility located near San Antonio. He has proposed a state law cutting off the building's access to public utilities - water and electricity - until the agency ceases what he says is unconstitutional warrantless data collection.

    • RSA: Panel calls NSA access to encryption keys a bad idea
      Some of the world’s best known cryptographers – veterans of the crypto wars of the 1990s – say government access to encryption keys is still a bad idea, but is an issue that will never go away because it’s something intelligence agencies crave.
    • NSA Surveillance on U.S. Citizens Just as Bad If Not Worse Since Snowden, Survey Says
      The RSA Conference is one of the largest cybersecurity business events in the world. The conference just wrapped up on Friday in San Francisco, where it brought together a collage of industry experts, programmers, industry developers, hackers and investors, in one spot to discuss the current and future atmosphere of 21st century security. Washington, D.C.-based cybersecurity startup Thycotic was one of those companies in attendance — and they came away with a host of new answers. According to a survey conducted by Thycotic at RSA 2015, 94 percent of participants believed that citizen-targeted NSA surveillance had increased or at least remained the same since the Snowden revelations of June 2013.

    • RSA 2015 survey: 48 percent believe NSA surveillance has increased
      At RSA Conference 2015, a group of more than 200 attendees were surveyed regarding their thoughts about government surveillance in the wake of Edward Snowden leaks. Among the participants, nearly half, just over 48 percent, believed that the National Security Agency (NSA) had increased its surveillance of U.S. citizens, while around 45 percent felt NSA's surveillance efforts remained the same since June 2013, when the whistleblower Snowden began leaking classified information.

    • 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.

    • Congress, Crypto and Craziness
      Crazy is never in short supply in Washington. Through lean times and boom times, regardless of who is in the White House or which party controls the Congress, the one resource that’s reliably renewable is nuttery.

      This is never more true than when that venerable and voluble body takes up a topic with some technical nuance to it. The appearance of words such as “Internet”, “computers” or “technology” in the title of a committee hearing strike fear into the hearts of all who use such things. This is the legislative body, after all, that counted among its members the late Sen. Ted Stevens, who so eloquently described the Internet as a “series of tubes.”

    • What would it cost to store all phone calls in Norway?
      This is the cost of buying the storage. Maintenance need to be taken into account too, but calculating that is left as an exercise for the reader. But it is obvious to me from those numbers that recording the sound of all phone calls in Norway is not going to be stopped because it is too expensive. I wonder if someone already is collecting the data?

    • 2 members of Supreme Court 'targeted by U.S. spies'
      U.S. intelligence agencies have “harvested” the personal and private data of “hundreds of federal officials and judges, including Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg,” charges a legal brief filed by Larry Klayman, the attorney who has come to be known as “the NSA slayer” for his successful legal battles against the National Security Agency.

    • Missouri House Committee Holds Hearing on Bill to Ban Resources to Mass NSA Spying
      Last week, a Missouri House committee held a public hearing on a bill that would ban “material support or resources” from the state to warrantless federal spy programs.

      Rep. Keith Frederick (R-Rolla) sponsors House Bill 264 (HB264). The Missouri Fourth Amendment Protection Act would ban the state and its political subdivisions from assisting, participating with, or providing material support or resources “to enable or facilitate a federal agency in the collection or use of a person’s electronic data or metadata without such person’s informed consent, or without a warrant, based upon probable cause that particularly describes the person, place, or thing to be searched or seized, or without acting in accordance with a legally-recognized exception to the warrant requirements.”

    • Former NSA director, whistle-blower to keynote ITWeb's Security Summit in Johannesburg

    • ITWeb Security Summit features former NSA director, turned whistle-blower
      Bill Binney, a former director of the National Security Agency (NSA) and whistle-blower, will be the opening keynote speaker at the ITWeb Security Summit 2015, taking place at Vodacom World from 26 to 28 May 2015.

    • President Bernie Sanders Would Dismantle NSA Spying
      Bernie Sanders is running for president for many reasons, and you're going to hear about a lot of them on the campaign trail.

      Income inequality. Campaign finance reform. Universal health care and climate change.

      But quietly—at least relative to his wonk-laden sermons on economic populism—Sanders has for years also been one of the Senate's fiercest critics of the National Security Agency's secretive surveillance operations. And, unlike Hillary Clinton, he's been remarkably clear about where he stands.

    • Declassified report points to flaws in post-9/11 NSA wiretapping
      Stellar Wind not so stellar? Say it ain’t so! Good heavens, are you saying that infringing on people’s constitutional rights may not only be unconstitutional but also ineffective???

    • Report shows U.S. officials struggled to assess usefulness of post-9/11 warrantless surveillance
    • NSA's Stellar Wind Program Was Almost Completely Useless, Hidden From FISA Court By NSA And FBI
      A huge report (747 pages) on the NSA's Stellar Wind program has been turned over to Charlie Savage of the New York Times after a successful FOIA lawsuit. Stellar Wind has its basis in an order issued by George W. Bush shortly after the 9/11 attacks. Not an executive order, per se, but Bush basically telling the NSA that it was OK to start collecting email and phone metadata, as well as warrantlessly tap international calls into and out of the United States.

    • Secrecy, Legal Questions Hurt NSA's Stellar Wind Spy Program: US Watchdogs
      Top U.S. intelligence officials struggled to determine whether one of the National Security Agency's most treasured surveillance programs actually stopped any terrorist attacks, according to a newly unsealed report prepared by five of the highest-ranking inspectors general in the government half a dozen years ago. The officials were divided over the legality and usefulness of the program, dubbed Stellar Wind, in part because it was shrouded in secrecy.

    • The NSA, Surveillance, And What CIOs Need To Know
      As Opsahl puts it, "After 9/11, President Bush unleashed the full powers of the dark side." A mix of existing laws to monitor foreign communications and new powers given under the Patriot Act allowed for a vast expansion of the power for the NSA to collect and store communications data.

    • US Freedom Act to Reform ‘Secret’ NSA Oversight Court -Digital Rights Group
      The new version of the US Freedom Act will reform the process by which a secret court authorizes the US National Security Agency’s (NSA) spying activities, a digital rights watchdog organization said in a press release on Thursday.

    • U.S. Avoids Trial On Ex-Qwest CEO's NSA Claims With $18 Million Tax Refund Deal
      Significantly, with its stipulation, the government has avoided a trial in which the 65-year-old former executive planned to air what he says was his refusal, in 2001, to allow Qwest to participate in a National Security Agency program he believed was illegal. That trial might have attracted some media attention, given revelations over the past two years about the NSA’s illegal collection of metadata on U.S. phone calls and its other once secret programs—disclosures based on documents taken by NSA contractor turned whistleblower Edward Snowden, now living in Russia. Nacchio contends he was prosecuted only because he refused to go along with the NSA and that his criminal trial was unfairly influenced by his inability to introduce certain classified information. As the combative, Brooklyn born ex-con put it in a CNBC special on white collar criminals that aired this week: “My crime was a political crime. It dealt with saying `no’ to an intelligence agency doing illegal surveillance.”

    • NSA, NGA lead in clearance rejection
      The National Security Agency rejected the largest number of initial applications for security clearances, while the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency led the Intelligence Community in revoking already-issued clearances, according to a new report from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.

    • Whistleblowers Back “Surveillance State Repeal Act”
      There is no sign of an end to the erosion of Constitutional liberties that began under George W. Bush after the 9/11 attacks and continues under Barack Obama, a group of seven national security whistleblowers said Monday.

      “The government chose in great secrecy to unchain itself,” said Thomas Drake, who was working at the National Security Agency in 2001 and said he saw lawlessness spread under the name of “exigent conditions” during the Bush presidency.

    • A Call to End War on Whistleblowers
      Seven prominent national security whistleblowers on Monday called for a number of wide-ranging reforms — including passage of the “Surveillance State Repeal Act,” which would repeal the USA Patriot Act — in an effort to restore the Constitutionally guaranteed Fourth Amendment right to be free from government spying.

    • Why the N.S.A. Isn’t Howling Over Restrictions
      “If this bill passes, the N.S.A. will continue unaddressed surveillance programs and will secretly torture the English language to devise novel justifications for spying on Americans,” said David Segal, executive director of Demand Progress, a group that has fought for more civil liberties. “We won’t even know the details until a new whistle-blower comes forward a decade or two from now.”
    • Paranoid about the NSA? The case for dumping cloud's Big 3
      Internet Service Providers (ISPs) may be the most important public cloud providers of the next decade. Hosting your data with an ISP has a number of advantages over choosing the dominant American cloud providers: advantages that run the gamut from technical to political.

      ISPs have been in the co-location business practically since the internet began. Many have offered hosted services (typically e-mail and web server space) for at least as long as the World Wide Web (and the browsers required to interpret it) have been around.

    • The big boys made us do it: US used German spooks to snoop on EU defence industry
      Germany's BND spy agency spied on European politicians and enterprises at the behest of the NSA for over a decade.
    • Germany spied on France for US's NSA, reports
      Germany's BND secret services spied on French and other European companies and officials for the US's National Security Agency (NSA), German newspapers have reported, sparking a scandal in Berlin but no official reaction in Paris.

    • The NSA made a coloring book for kids
      Last week we met Dunk, the NSA's captivatingly weird Earth Day mascot, and now it looks like he's not the only anthropomorphic creature in the NSA family. Dan Raile at Pando Daily went to the RSA security conference last week, and returned with a prize: an NSA-themed coloring book.

    • Spying is cool? CryptoKids appeal to children in NSA coloring book

    • NSA Gadget Transfer Program Turning Local Cops into Spies
      With the media spotlight shining on police militarization, most Americans know something about the federal 1033 transfer program that enables police departments to get military equipment like armored vehicles, high power weapons, grenade launchers, and even bayonets. But most Americans don’t realize that local law enforcement agencies can also acquire spy gear from the feds.

      The NSA transfers electronic gadgets to a variety of agencies including local law enforcement, and it is as simple as catalog shopping.

      This is yet another example of the tangled web of cooperation between state and local law enforcement, and the feds – a phenomenon quickly devolving America into one massive interconnected surveillance state.

      These transfer programs have largely gone unnoticed. However, the most recent NSA tech catalog was recently released and sheds some light on the program.

    • Allow full debate on NSA spying bill
      Back in January, when this Congress was brand new and Mitch McConnell was taking the reins as majority leader of the Senate, he pledged “to get committees working again.”

      It’s surprising, then, that, in late April, McConnell moved to bypass the committee process to fast-track a five-year extension of the government’s authority to conduct mass surveillance of U.S. citizens’ phone calls.

      McConnell’s move, which seems to violate his pledge to pass bills through committee, also is a blow to a bipartisan effort in both chambers to enact some curbs on the collection of phone records.

  • Civil Rights

  • Internet/Net Neutrality

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • Kim Dotcom Avoids U.S. Clutches For Three More Months

        Kim Dotcom's upcoming extradition hearing has been delayed by three months. The procedure was set to go ahead in just four weeks but the High Court says that would give the entrepreneur insufficient time to prepare his case. It will now take place no earlier than September 1, 2015.

      • Torrents Are Good for a Quarter of All Encrypted Traffic
        Encrypted Internet traffic is surging according to data published by Canadian broadband management company Sandvine. A new report reveals that 25 percent of the encrypted downstream traffic in North America is consumed by BitTorrent transfers, second only to YouTube.

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