Category Archives: Deep Politics

The Forbidden Bookshelf: Publishing amnesia


In this clip from Breaking the Set, Abby Martin interviews Mark Crispin Miller about a project we heartily endorse, Forbidden Bookshelf, which is bringing subversive [in the best sense] classics back to life.

While not mentioned in the clip, one of the books offered by the project is Dan Moldea‘s Interference, a remarkable expose of the dark side of the National Football League.

We’ve known Dan for more than three decades, and have even contributed some information and leads to him over the years. He’s a superb journalist, and we highly recommend his book.

That said, on with the show.

From Breaking the Set:

Why These 5 Books Are Censored from Your History Class | Interview with Mark Crispin Miller

Program notes:

Abby Martin speaks with NYU media studies professor, Mark Crispin Miller, discussing the addition of 5 books to the Forbidden Bookshelf, a project aimed at making important literature that has gone out of circulation once again available to the public.

Another book from their list is Christopher Simpson’s Blowback, which documents the use of former Nazi war criminal freed of responsibilities for their atrocities and whitewashed by the Central Intelligence Agency [and its predecessors] and military intelligence, then employed as scientists by the American missile and munitions programs or used as intelligence assets during the Cold War.

InSecurityWatch: Nukes, wars, threats, & more


We begin with the latest major move in Cold War 2.0 from the New York Times:

U.S. Ramping Up Major Renewal in Nuclear Arms

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A sprawling new plant here in a former soybean field makes the mechanical guts of America’s atomic warheads. Bigger than the Pentagon, full of futuristic gear and thousands of workers, the plant, dedicated last month, modernizes the aging weapons that the United States can fire from missiles, bombers and submarines.

It is part of a nationwide wave of atomic revitalization that includes plans for a new generation of weapon carriers. A recent federal study put the collective price tag, over the next three decades, at up to a trillion dollars.

This expansion comes under a president who campaigned for “a nuclear-free world” and made disarmament a main goal of American defense policy. The original idea was that modest rebuilding of the nation’s crumbling nuclear complex would speed arms refurbishment, raising confidence in the arsenal’s reliability and paving the way for new treaties that would significantly cut the number of warheads.

And on with the major MENA hot zone with Reuters:

Islamic State urges attacks on U.S., French citizens, taunts Obama

Islamic State urged its followers on Monday to attack citizens of the United States, France and other countries which have joined a coalition to destroy the ultra-radical group.

Islamic State spokesman Abu Muhammad al-Adnani also taunted U.S. President Barack Obama and other Western “crusaders” in a statement carried by the SITE monitoring website, saying their forces faced inevitable defeat at the insurgents’ hands.

The United States is building an international coalition to combat the extremist Sunni Muslim force, which has seized large expanses of territory in Iraq and Syria and proclaimed a caliphate erasing borders in the heart of the Middle East.

A response from North of the Border with Canadian Press:

Stephen Harper vows to do more at home and abroad to counter extremism as ISIS accuses Canada of meddling

Prime Minister Stephen Harper vowed to do more both at home and abroad to counter Islamic extremism Monday in response to a new threat levelled directly at Canada.

The Islamic State of Iraq and Al-Sham issued a new audio recording late Sunday calling for jihadists to kill westerners — military or civilian — from countries involved in the battle against ISIS in northern Iraq, including “Canadians.”

Security agencies have been tracking these events for some time, Harper told a news conference.

“We have, as you know, strengthened laws in this country to deal with these kinds of threats,” he said. “We are currently in the process of examining these laws and examining other means we may have to monitor and to take action against both organizations and individuals who may undertake activities that are potentially threatening to Canadians.”

Another response via the Associated Press:

UN to bind nations on new foreign terrorist rules

The U.N. Security Council is expected to adopt a binding resolution this week that would require nations to bar their citizens from traveling abroad to join terrorism organizations, part of a U.S.-led effort to galvanize the international community against what Obama administration officials call an “unprecedented” threat from extremists flocking to Syria and Iraq.

Obama administration officials touted the measure, which they said had been negotiated over several months, as a significant step in their strategy against the Islamic State group and other militant organizations that are drawing Europeans, Americans into their violent orbit. But they acknowledged that the UN resolution has no enforcement mechanism and that the international community has no single definition of what constitutes a terrorist group.

“This is really designed to sort of elevate the collective nature of the threat,” a senior Obama administration official told a group of reporters Monday, speaking under ground rules that she not be identified.

Channel NewsAsia Singapore covers another:

Australia says deploying warplanes to join Iraq campaign

Australian warplanes are being deployed to the Middle East to join the US-led campaign of air strikes on jihadist targets in northern Iraq, Defence Minister David Johnston said on Monday (Sep 22).

“We will provide a number of military platforms, up to eight Super Hornet aircraft to participate in a US-led coalition in delivering air strikes,” he told reporters in Baghdad after meeting Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott announced on Sep 14 that Australia would send fighter jets and forces to the United Arab Emirates as its contribution to the US-led military effort against the Islamic State (IS) jihadist group.

While Want China Times covers an ancillary front:

East Turkestan separatists training with ISIS, plan to return to China

Members of China’s East Turkestan independence movement are heading to the Middle East to train and fight alongside the Islamic State, the brutal jihadist group also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) or the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), reports the Global Times, a tabloid under the auspices of the Communist Party mouthpiece People’s Daily.

Based on a joint interview with anti-terrorism authorities in China, Indonesia, Turkey and Syria, it is believed that the Chinese separatists — ethnic Uyghur radicals who want to establish an independent Islamic state in northwestern China’s restive Xinjiang Uyghur autonomous region — are sneaking out of the country to join Islamic State forces training and fighting in Iraq and Syria. Their aims are to earn more recognition from international terrorist groups, establish communication channels, and to develop “real combat experience” before taking their knowledge back to China, the Global Times said, adding that the international community, including the Chinese government, must cooperate and share intelligence to eradicate the growing global terrorism threat.

News of Chinese nationals joining Islamic State forces have been on the rise in recent weeks. Earlier this month, two photos posted on a Facebook page purportedly operated by the Iraqi Ministry of Defence showed a badly beaten man apparently captured by the Iraqi Army, along with a short message describing the man as a Chinese member of the Islamic State.

From the Guardian, a potential stumbling block:

MoD facing legal challenge over armed drone deployment outside Afghanistan

  • News comes amid claims RAF’s Reaper squadron could operate against jihadists in the Middle East

The government is facing a legal challenge over the deployment of its armed drones as British officials come before a United Nations inquiry this week into the legality of targeted killings.

Amid claims the RAF’s Reaper squadron could move from Afghanistan to operate against jihadists in the Middle East, Whitehall has been criticised for its reluctance to engage with the Geneva-based investigation.

The Ministry of Defence has repeatedly refused to state what it intends to do with the 10 Reapers – controlled remotely from RAF Waddington in Lincolnshire and a USAF base in Creech, Nevada – once UK operations in Afghanistan finish in December.

While TheLocal.it throws in a wild card:

‘Israelis support using atomic bomb against Isis’

The majority of Israeli citizens back using an atomic bomb in the fight against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (Isis), ex-Italian premier Silvio Berlusconi has claimed.

Speaking to supporters by the shores of Lake Garda, Berlusconi said there is “great anguish within the Israeli population” over the rise of Isis jihadists.

“I can’t reveal my sources, but I can tell you with certainty that at the moment the majority of Israeli citizens are thinking it’s correct to defend themselves with the atomic bomb,” he was quoted in Corriere della Sera as saying.

Motherboard has a blast from the past:

The CIA Used Artificial Intelligence to Interrogate Its Own Agents in the 80s

The CIA has notoriously been, well, “innovative” in developing new interrogation techniques (if you consider waterboarding an innovation, at least). Newly declassified documents reveal that willingness to experiment is nothing new: 30 years ago, the spy agency pitted one of its own agents against an artificial intelligence interrogator.

The documents in question, written in 1983 and titled “Interrogation of an Alleged CIA Agent,” describe a series of experimental tests conducted in the early 1980s in which the CIA repeatedly interrogated its own agent, referred to in the report as Joe Hardesty, using a primitive AI called Analiza.

The declassified document is both fascinating in its distinct retrofuture flavour and eerily prescient nature, because the US government is now set to use virtual entities to conduct national security interviews. It’s also kind of hilarious, because the interrogation transcript reads like a conversation with a really frustrating chatbot.

While the Washington Post finds the very curious in the nation’s capital:

Tech firm tries to pull back curtain on surveillance efforts in Washington

As a black sedan pulled into downtown Washington traffic earlier this week, a man in the back seat with a specially outfitted smartphone in each hand was watching for signs of surveillance in action. “Whoa, we’ve just been hit twice on this block,” he said, excitement rising in his voice, not far from FBI headquarters.

Then as the car passed the Federal Trade Commission’s limestone edifice, “Okay, we just got probed.” Then again, just a few minutes later, as the car moved between the Supreme Court and the Capitol, he said, “That’s the beginning of an interception.”

The man was Aaron Turner, chief executive of Integricell, a mobile security company. The specially outfitted smartphones, he said, are designed to act like high-tech divining rods that warn users of suspicious mobile activity, potentially indicating surveillance equipment used by police, intelligence agencies and others to track people and snoop on their calls.

Known as IMSI catchers, for the unique identifying phone code called an IMSI, the surveillance devices trick mobile phones into thinking they have logged onto legitimate cell networks, such as Verizon or AT&T, when in fact the signals have been hijacked.

A video report from RT:

Capitol Surveillance: Unidentified tracking devices found in Washington

Program notes

The US capital is flooded with phone calls and other data on a daily basis but all of it is being intercepted by sources unknown. RT’s Gayane Chichakyan reports.

From the Los Angeles Times, one surveillance camera we heartily endorse:

L.A. County sheriff’s deputies test 4 types of body cameras

As a patrol deputy at Carson station, Dennis Conway carried an audio recorder to document what happened when he stopped or arrested someone.

The recorder was his own — he was among a sizable group of Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies who carry their own personal devices to protect themselves from false allegations.

A few weeks ago, Conway exchanged his audio recorder for a high-tech camera pinned to his shirt that starts filming at the press of a button.

“It’s given me the peace of mind that the person I’m dealing with is not going to say the opposite of what happened,” he said. “It’s all recorded, and the transparency is there.”

Conway and other deputies have begun testing four types of body cameras as part of a pilot program that may eventually lead to the department-wide recording of everything from routine traffic stops to deputy-involved shootings. Until now, the Sheriff’s Department has not used in-car cameras or body cameras.

From the New York Times, good candidates for the same cameras:

Report Found Distorted Data on Jail Fights at Rikers Island

After years of teenage inmates being slashed, stabbed and maimed, it appeared that the jail for adolescents at Rikers Island had finally been brought under control. In April 2011, a new warden and deputy warden were named, and almost immediately, official tallies of inmate fights fell by two-thirds.

The correction commissioner at the time hailed the accomplishment at a City Council hearing and gave the men an award for their “exceptional efforts.” Within a month, both officials were promoted.

Then came the tip to Correction Department investigators: Violence wasn’t down. The data was wrong.

A dozen investigators eventually produced a confidential report, obtained by The New York Times, which concluded that hundreds of inmate fights had been omitted from departmental statistics; that the warden, William Clemons, and the deputy warden, Turhan Gumusdere, had “abdicated all responsibility” in reporting the statistics and that both should be demoted.

After the jump, Google malvertising and drones, Obama sells missiles to Poland and China sells ‘em to Saudis, a hint of a Zambian online crackdown to come, another kind of crackdown in Chad, spooky crisis capitalization and hints of domestic crackdown to come Down Under, protest provocation and flight contemplation in China, a stealthy development in Beijing, and a deadman’s switch for those who fear executive action. . . Continue reading

EnviroWatch: Climate, fires, water, nukes


We begin with climate coverage, starting with a headline from the Christian Science Monitor:

Why the UN Climate Summit will have a hard time doing anything

President Obama will address the UN Climate Summit, and more than 120 world leaders are expected to attend. But big emitters China and India will not be represented by their top leaders.

In New York on Sunday, hundreds of thousands of demonstrators demanded global action on climate change.

And on Monday, a new report found that global emissions of greenhouse gases jumped to new heights in 2013, with India alone increasing greenhouse emissions by 5 percent. Even the United States, which like many developed countries had seen its emissions fall in recent years, recorded an increase last year, according to the report from the Global Carbon Project.

Yet despite the mounting public pressure for action and new evidence of a continuing rise in heat-trapping gases, a United Nations summit Tuesday on climate change is given little chance of delivering much beyond dire rhetoric on the consequences of inaction.

From The Real News Network, a report on Sunday’s demonstrations:

Leading Activists Demand Climate Action at People’s Climate March

From the transcript:

MARY ROBINSON, FMR. PRESIDENT OF IRELAND, UN SPECIAL ENVOY FOR CLIMATE CHANGE: I think we have learned a lot since Copenhagen. First of all, this summit is taking place 15 months before the decision in Paris. Secondly, we know that there’s a lot happening all over the world on the climate issue. And there’s a New Climate Economy report that says that for every government now, it makes business sense for the government to reduce emissions, be more efficient, and move towards a carbon-neutral world. And that’s more jobs, better health, more equality, better for people. And that’s a big message.

So, at the same time, we need People’s Marches. We need everybody to demand of their leaders the kind of decision-making that is business as usual with a bit of greener touch. That’s not enough. We need to change course. We are on course for a four degree world, which would be catastrophic. We need to be on course to below two degrees. And that needs all the pressure that is here all over the world today, and we need to keep it up.

ANNIE LEONARD, GREENPEACE USA: Well, today’s march is not about a vague statement. It’s about a very clear demand, which is that we want climate solutions. And the reason that we don’t have one particular slogan we’re all agreeing to is that everyone’s coming to this march from very diverse places. But to me that represents a source of strength and diversity and inclusion that this March has that we haven’t seen before in the climate movement. So I’m excited that this is a real turning point and we’re going to start seeing some action following soon.

MARK RUFFALO, FILMMAKER: Implementing renewable energy is the greatest thing that people can do to give themselves power. Whoever controls your energy controls your destiny. And today we have renewable energy systems that are adoptable by any one person that over time will pay for themselves and will make their energy cheaper. It’s free. And that’s ready to go today. And so either our leaders are going to get it and then adopt it or people are going to adopted on their own.

DAME JANE MORRIS GOODALL, PRIMATOLOGIST, ETHOLOGIST, ANTHROPOLOGIST: It’s going to take more people to join the coalitions that are already being made by some of the big corporations, like Unilever, particularly pledging not to use oil palm from unsustainable use, because it’s the oil palm industry that’s destroying forests all over Asia. And it’s up to us the people to show our will. And that’s why a march like this is important.

WINNIE BYANYIMA, EXEC. DIR., OXFAM INTERNATIONAL: Climate change isn’t just an environmental issue. It’s a justice issue. We’re seeing the impact hitting the poorest people hardest, trapping people in poverty. It’s a food issue. It’s hitting the food system and denying people of food. It’s an issue of public health. It’s an issue of the survival of people.

The Guardian covers confrontation on Wall Street today:

Police face off with Flood Wall Street protesters in climate change march

  • At least one person is arrested as New York demonstration builds in city’s financial district, site of adversarial Occupy protests

Hundreds of people gathered in New York City’s financial district on Monday, many with the intent of getting arrested as an act of civil disobedience to bring attention to the perils of climate change.

Flood Wall Street demonstrators, primarily dressed in blue to represent climate change-induced flooding, marched to New York City’s financial center to “highlight the role of Wall Street in fueling the climate crisis,” according to organizers.

At least one person had been arrested on Monday afternoon, though the New York police department said it did not yet have official reports on the arrest numbers.

A video of the action from Mashable:

Cops, Activists Clash at #FloodWallStreet

Program notes:

One day after a huge climate march in New York City, activists gathered on Wall Street Monday to protest what they say is corporate and economic institutions’ role in the climate crisis. The protesters, many dressed in blue, scheduled a rally in Battery Park before marching to the financial district in Lower Manhattan, according to organizers of the protest, #FloodWallStreet.

From the Guardian, a California fire update:

Rain helps firefighters from across US contain California King fire

  • Wildfire about 60 miles east of Sacramento forced thousands to evacuate, destroyed 128 acres and worsened air quality for miles

Crews battling a huge northern California wildfire threatening thousands of homes braced for hotter temperatures and erratic winds Monday after cooler, wet weather helped them make progress over the weekend.

The fire east of Sacramento had burned through 137 square miles as of Monday morning, an increase of about nine square miles from the day before. The expected weather shift could increase fire activity, fire spokesman Ryan Lubben said.

More than 5,000 firefighters – from as far as Florida and Alaska – managed to increase containment of the fire from 10 to 17% Sunday, said Captain Tom Piranio, a state fire spokesman. It was 18% contained Monday morning.

The Yomiuri Shimbun notes a number:

California logs 26% rise in wildfires

As of Sept. 6, there had been about 26 percent more wildfires in the state compared to the average for the same periods over the last five years, according to the state’s Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

Statewide, there have been 6,660 wildfires this year as of Sept. 15, burning an area equal to about 80 percent of Tokyo, already more than the average for the last five years.

The state fire department said the wildfire season in the western United States has become about 70 days longer over the last 40 years.

“Usually it [the peak fire season in California] would be in June to the end of November. But unfortunately this year we started having fires in January,” said Scott McLean, a spokesman for the department.

While USA Today offers cause for chills:

New lab incidents fuel fear, safety concerns in Congress

Scientists wearing space-suitlike protective gear searched for hours in May for a mouse — infected with a virus similar to Ebola — that had escaped inside Rocky Mountain Laboratories in Montana, one of the federal government’s highest-security research facilities, according to newly obtained incident reports that provide a window into the secretive world of bioterror lab accidents.

During the same month at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, a lab worker suffered a cut while trying to round up escaped ferrets that had been infected with a deadly strain of avian influenza, records show. Four days later at Colorado State University’s bioterrorism lab, a worker failed to ensure dangerous bacteria had been killed before shipping specimens — some of them still able to grow — to another lab where a worker unwittingly handled them without key protective gear.

Nobody was sickened in the incidents and the mouse was caught the next day. Yet in the wake of serious lab mishaps with anthrax and bird flu at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that prompted an uproar and a Congressional hearing this summer, these additional incidents are further fueling bipartisan concern about lab safety.

CBC News covers medicated water:

Drinking water contaminated by excreted drugs a growing concern

  • Researchers finding excreted drugs in drinking water

A Canadian study quietly released last month reported record-breaking levels of three pharmaceuticals in river water in southwestern Ontario.

Although the chemicals — the diabetic drug metformin, the acid reflux drug ranitidine, and the diuretic hydrochlorothiazide — are measured in nanograms per litre, and are extremely low, the levels detected have never been found before in North America.

When Health Canada sampled tap water across Canada, researchers found what they expected to find, traces of drugs in drinking water that comes from rivers and lakes, although that report has not yet been published.

And the Japan Times takes us to today’s Fukushimapocalypse Now!:

Fukushima cleanup going painfully slow

  • Opposition to waste storage complicates project

Three and a half years after Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power station spewed massive amounts of radioactive materials into the air and water, decontamination work in Fukushima Prefecture has yet to draw to an end.

The government initially hoped to complete the decontamination by the end of last March, but the process continues to lag far behind, prompting the government to push back the goal by three years to 2017.

Due to the slow progress, huge bags filled with contaminated soil can still be seen piled up at hundreds of temporary storage sites across the prefecture, and many residents are in limbo, unable to make up their minds about whether to return home in the near future or to relocate for good.

Jiji Press prepares to fire up the nuclear boilers:

Japan Sets Forth N-Reactor Restart Plan at IAEA Meeting

Japan set forth its plan for the restart of two reactors at the Sendai power station in the country’s southwest at a five-day annual meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency that began on Monday.

Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority has confirmed that enough safety measures have been taken for the No. 1 and No. 2 reactors at the power station of Kyushu Electric Power Co., Science and Technology Policy Minister Shunichi Yamaguchi said.

In a speech, Yamaguchi also noted that the Japanese government in April adopted a basic energy policy in which nuclear energy is regarded as an important power source.

JapanToday covers the propaganda front:

Industry minister tries to convince public on need for nuclear energy

Japan’s new industry minister Yuko Obuchi said Sunday the resource-poor nation should be realistic about its energy needs as the government tries to convince a skeptical public on the necessity of nuclear power.

More than three years after the disaster at Fukushima, where a tsunami sent reactors into meltdown, the Japanese public remains unconvinced of the safety of the technology.

The difficult task of winning them round has fallen to Obuchi, appointed the country’s first female minister of economy, trade and industry by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

NHK WORLD offers belated posterior-protecting:

Japan to step up Fukushima contractors oversight

Japan’s labor minister says he’s ready to strengthen government monitoring of companies that are dispatching workers to decommission the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

Yasuhisa Shiozaki visited a labor standards inspection office in Iwaki City on Monday. The office oversees areas surrounding the Fukushima plant.

His visit follows nearly 130 complaints from April to August alone of unpaid wages and inadequate safety measures for workers employed to decommission the Fukushima plant.

For our final item, a new nuke in Old Blighty from the Guardian:

Hinkley nuclear reactor project gains EU approval, leak reveals

  • Green groups condemn commissioner Almunia’s U-turn as he deems Hinkley Point C subsidies to be within state aid rules

British plans for a nuclear renaissance centred on a nuclear reactor in Somerset achieved a breakthrough when a nine-month European Union state aid investigation ended with a call for Brussels to approve the project.

The EU’s competition commissioner, Joaquín Almunia, had expressed scepticism that the Hinkley Point C scheme could satisfy the EU’s stringent state aid criteria after the UK government agreed to underwrite the project with a loan guarantee and a commitment on the price of the electricity generated by the power station.

But the commissioner appears to have been persuaded that the proposed £17.6bn of subsidies are legal under bloc rules, despite the lack of a competitive tendering process. Hinkley Point will be operated by EDF, the French state-owned company, while two Chinese state-owned nuclear companies have agreed to help fund the plant.

InSecurityWatch: Spies, war, threats, terror


First up, via the London Telegraph, opportunity knocks:

GCHQ employs more than 100 dyslexic and dyspraxic spies

  • The British intelligence agency uses dyslexics’ ability to analyse complex information in a ‘dispassionate, logical and analytical’ in the fight against terror

While many people with dyslexia struggle with reading or writing, they are often extremely skilled at deciphering facts from patterns or events.

IT specialist Matt, 35, chairman of the dyslexic and dyspraxic support community at GCHQ, told The Sunday Times: “What people don’t realise is that people with neuro diversity usually have a ‘spikyskills’ profile, which means that certain skill areas will be below par and others may be well above,” he said.

“My reading might be slower than some individuals and maybe my spelling is appalling, and my handwriting definitely is … but if you look at the positive side, my 3D spacial-perception awareness and creativity is in the top 1% of my peer group.”

From the Christian Science Monitor, hints of escalations ahead:

Obama vows to strike Syrian regime if US jets attacking IS are targeted

The Obama administration said it would destroy Syria’s air defenses if they fire on US planes attacking Islamic State militants inside Syria. The White House says it won’t coordinate airstrikes with Damascus.

The Obama administration has threatened to destroy the Syrian government’s air defenses if US warplanes flying missions to attack militants in Syria are targeted over the country’s air space.

The public threat is an example of the difficult waters Mr. Obama is wading into with his plan to “destroy” the self-styled Islamic State, which is fighting to unseat Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. The White House insists that its effort will neither help Mr. Assad nor involve his cooperation, more than three years into Syria’s civil war.

Syrian war-planes and helicopters are already flying missions against IS and other rebel groups, and without coordination between Syrian and US forces, the risk of accidental engagements is high.

Reuters covers an exodus:

Islamic State closes in on Syrian town, refugees flood into Turkey

Islamic State militants tightened their noose on a northern Syrian border town on Sunday as the United Nations said the number of Syrian Kurds fleeing into neighbouring Turkey may have topped 100,000 and was likely to go much higher.

Residents fleeing the frontier town of Ayn al-Arab, known in Kurdish as Kobani, and its surrounding villages said the militants were executing people of all ages in the areas they had seized to create a climate of fear and slavish obedience.

Kurdish politicians in Turkey renewed their appeal to young people in the country’s mainly Kurdish southeast to head to Kobani to help their ethnic kin push back Islamic State, which has seized swathes of Iraq and Syria in recent months and proclaimed a caliphate in the heart of the Middle East.

Deutsche Welle covers a consequence:

Security clashes with Kurds on Turkey-Syria border

Turkish troops have fired water cannon and tear gas at Kurdish demonstrators during clashes on the Turkey-Syria border. Some 70,000 Syrians fleeing the “Islamic State” have now crossed into Turkey, the UN says.

Kurds on the Turkey-Syrian border came under fire from water cannon and tear gas during clashes with Turkish security forces on Sunday. Turkish troops were attempting to disperse crowds of Kurds, which had gathered in support of fellow Kurds fleeing an “Islamic State” (IS) offensive across the border from Syria.

The clashes took place at a barbed wire border fence just five kilometers from the town of Ayn al-Arab, where Kurdish fighters are holding off jihadists.

Hundreds of young demonstrators responded by hurling rocks at security forces. Police said security forces had been trying to prevent Kurdish fighters entering Syria, but local television reported that Kurds had been trying to take aid into Syria.

An ex-spook’s reservation with the Observer:

UK urged to avoid direct military action in Syria

  • Former MI6 intelligence director Nigel Inkster warns against joining military action that could anger Assad allies

Nigel Inkster, a former deputy head of MI6, said that, although empowering rebel forces was sensible, the UK should not be tempted to join any potential military action in Syria which would antagonise the allies of President Bashar al-Assad, such as Russia. Britain has not ruled out air strikes in Iraq or Syria, but it has said targeting Isis positions in Syria would be complicated.

Inkster said: “Military activity that takes place in Iraq will take place with the consent of the Iraqi government. In the case of Syria, that is not the case … any such activity would technically be an act of war.

“You can be confident that Assad’s allies would be very quick to make this point. But from a military perspective the logic of such an engagement is inevitable because ultimately Syria is where this force needs to be defeated. The emphasis has to be on local actors, enabling local Syrian actors. They had some success previously [against Isis] but then they had logistical problems, running out of equipment just at the point Isis was acquiring new supplies.”

Another force has joined the fight against ISIS, Anonymous. The first half of this France 24 segment features an interview with one of the campaign’s organization’s [the other half is about the new iPhone, sorry]:

Anonymous Vs ISIS

Program notes:

This week #TECH24 brings you an EXCLUSIVE interview with Anonymous on why (and how) the collective decided to join the fight against the ‘Islamic State’ Group. Also in this edition: a test of the new iPhone6 and iPhone6 Plus.

ISIS continued its own war on the media report, with Sky News covering the latest barrage:

IS Releases Gruesome Full-Length Film

  • The 55-minute film, which uses special effects, graphics and slow-motion replays, shows captives digging their own graves

The propaganda war being waged by Islamic State militants has intensified, with the release of a full-length documentary-style film entitled Flames of War: Fighting Has Just Begun.

The 55-minute video uploaded to the internet celebrates the campaign in Iraq and Syria and shows captured Syrian soldiers digging their own graves before being shot dead.

A masked IS fighter with a North American accent addresses the camera and claims to be in a captured army base. “We’re here with the soldiers of Bashar, you can see them now digging their own graves where they were stationed,” he says.

More from Canada’s National Post:

ISIS urges jihadists to attack Canadians: ‘You will not feel secure in your bedrooms’

The spokesman for the Islamic State of Iraq and Al-Sham called for attacks on Canadians on Sunday in an apparent attempt to deter members of the military alliance that has formed to challenge the terrorist group.

In a 42-minute audio speech, Abu Muhammad Al-Adnani urged ISIS supporters to kill Canadians, Americans, Australians, French and other Europeans, regardless of whether they were civilians or members of the military.

“Rely upon Allah, and kill him in any manner or way however it may be. Do not ask for anyone’s advice and do not seek anyone’s verdict. Kill the disbeliever whether he is civilian or military, for they have the same ruling,” he said.

 

And the New York Times covers a certain mistrust:

Suspicions Run Deep in Iraq That C.I.A. and the Islamic State Are United

The United States has conducted an escalating campaign of deadly airstrikes against the extremists of the Islamic State for more than a month. But that appears to have done little to tamp down the conspiracy theories still circulating from the streets of Baghdad to the highest levels of Iraqi government that the C.I.A. is secretly behind the same extremists that it is now attacking.

“We know about who made Daesh,” said Bahaa al-Araji, a deputy prime minister, using an Arabic shorthand for the Islamic State on Saturday at a demonstration called by the Shiite cleric Moktada al-Sadr to warn against the possible deployment of American ground troops. Mr. Sadr publicly blamed the C.I.A. for creating the Islamic State in a speech last week, and interviews suggested that most of the few thousand people at the demonstration, including dozens of members of Parliament, subscribed to the same theory. (Mr. Sadr is considered close to Iran, and the theory is popular there as well.)

When an American journalist asked Mr. Araji to clarify if he blamed the C.I.A. for the Islamic State, he retreated: “I don’t know. I am one of the poor people,” he said, speaking fluent English and quickly stepping back toward the open door of a chauffeur-driven SUV. “But we fear very much. Thank you!”

From the Register, eavesdropping expectations across The Pond:

New UK.gov DATA SLURPING diplomat to push US telcos to share more subscriber info

  • When a DRIP becomes a flood

The British government has appointed a senior diplomat who will act as a go-between on overseas data access jurisdiction issues, to push communication providers – particularly those based in the US – to share more information with UK spooks.

The new post, created by Prime Minister David Cameron, comes after Whitehall pushed what it said was “emergency legislation” through Parliament in July this year.

At the time, Cameron convinced MPs that the rushed Data Retention and Investigatory Powers (DRIP) Act was needed to “preserve” surveillance tactics used by intelligence agencies and police forces in the UK.

From CBC News, the leaks continue:

Nude celebrity photo leak: More images posted to online forums

  • Leak appears connected to dozens of photos uploaded in early September

More nude photographs of celebrities were leaked online Saturday in what appears to be the second release of material from a hacker who posted intimate images of dozens of celebrities on an internet forum earlier this month.

Among the victims of the most recent leak were reality television star Kim Kardashian, actor Vanessa Hudgens and U.S. national women’s soccer team goalie Hope Solo. Previously unreleased photos of celebrities included in the last leak, such as Oscar-winner Jennifer Lawrence and The Big Bang Theory star Kaley Cuoco, were posted as well.

According to multiple media outlets, the images first appeared Saturday morning on the site 4Chan, and were also posted by users on Reddit, but were quickly deleted by site administrators.

And then there’s Texas, where King Leer reigns supreme. From Vice News:

Court Ruling Makes Taking Pictures Up Women’s Skirts Legal in Texas

The highest criminal court in Texas reversed a state law this week that prevented people from taking pictures up women’s skirts in public.

The law, which banned  “improper photography or visual recording,” with the “intent to arouse or gratify the sexual desire of any person,” was deemed an unconstitutional violation of First Amendment rights to free speech and individual thought.

The act of secretly capturing lurid photography, usually aimed up women’s skirts, is commonly known as “upskirting,” and the photos are sometimes called “creepshots.” Whatever the term used to describe it, the practice is now legal in the Lone Star State after an 8-1 ruling by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals.

After the jump, paramilitarizing police under investigation, an old school data takedown in Indonesia, Game of Zones trade consequences, a Sino/Iranian naval exercise, and an anti-American base protest in Japan. . . Continue reading

Quote of the day II: Loving the panopticon


From Andrew O’Hagan, writing in the London Review of Books:

The first thing that amazed me about Julian Assange was how fearful he was – and how right, as it turned out – about the internet being used as a tool to remove our personal freedom. That surprised me, because I’d naively assumed that all hackers and computer nerds were in love with the net. In fact, the smarter ones were suspicious of it and understood all along that it could easily be abused by governments and corporations. The new technology would offer the chance of mass communication and networking like never before, but lurking in all those servers and behind all those cameras was a sinister, surveilling machine of ever growing power. The US government sought omniscience – ‘a system that has as its goal the complete elimination of electronic privacy worldwide’ – and showed by such actions that it considers itself above the prospectus set out in its own constitution. The leaders of the NSA said, ‘collect it all,’ and the people put up with it.

Quote of the day: On the eurocratic elites


From  Antonis Karakousis, writing in the Athenian paper To Vima:

Europe is being governed by an army of political officers and well-educated bureaucrats, with a similar political direction and almost common culture.

They are paid well, live the life of Riley in Brussels, Strasbourg, Frankfurt and elsewhere, they have deified neoliberalism and tend to resemble bank and multinational business group executives who felt like little kings before the bubble burst, believing that the groups they served belonged to them rather than shareholders.

Dominated by the riches, self-indulgent life and unique power, the European elite feels that Europe belongs to them, forgetting that it belongs to its people and that this cycle only exists to serve them. The distortion is obvious, apparent to the naked eye.

This is apparent from the uniform fatwas that they occasionally issue, which do not take into consideration the peculiarities or special circumstances of each country. In many cases, hidden behind the thick and complicated lines, are malicious and lawless pursuits, which subvert the European ideal.

Read the rest.

InSecurityWatch: Spooks, hacks, war, weapons


For the first item in today’s compendium pf the world of spies, snoops, cops, crimes, wars, geopolitics, hackery, and the like, we turn to reassurance from the Guardian:

CIA chief: ‘If I’ve done something wrong, I’ll stand up and admit it’

  • John Brennan expresses frustration with Senate and media while decrying lack of trust in agency at intelligence conference

The director of the Central Intelligence Agency expressed frustration with his Senate overseers and the media on Thursday, even as he and his fellow heads of US intelligence agencies pledged to win back the trust of a skeptical American public.

“I certainly believe having the public’s trust makes all of our jobs much easier and better,” Brennan said on a panel at an intelligence conference, where he was joined by his colleagues at the helms of the National Security Agency, the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency and the Defense Intelligence Agency.

But ahead of an impending clash with the Senate intelligence committee, which is due to release a public version of a report into CIA torture in the coming weeks, Brennan rejected “the narratives I see floating around the media.”

From Gigaom, someone’s takin’ a bit out of the Apple:

Apple’s “warrant canary” disappears, suggesting new Patriot Act demands

When Apple published its first Transparency Report on government activity in late 2013, the document contained an important footnote that stated: “Apple has never received an order under Section 215 of the USA Patriot Act. We would expect to challenge such an order if served on us.”

Writer and cyber-activist Cory Doctorow at the time recognized that language as a so-called “warrant canary,” which Apple was using to thwart the secrecy imposed by the Patriot Act.

Warrant canaries are a tool used by companies and publishers to signify to their users that, so far, they have not been subject to a given type of law enforcement request such as a secret subpoena. If the canary disappears, then it is likely the situation has changed — and the company has been subject to such request.

Now, Apple’s warrant canary has disappeared. A review of the company’s last two Transparency Reports, covering the second half of 2013 and the first six months of 2014, shows that the “canary” language is no longer there.

From the Register, score another one for Edward the Leaker:

Snowden’s NSA leaks have galvanised the storage world

  • Vendors raise their game after gov securo-busting revealed

In a recent CyberArk survey of 373 C-level and IT security executives across North America, Europe and the Asia-Pacific, 37 per cent of respondents said Snowden’s breach of NSA security had influenced their security strategy more than any other incident over the past year.

Difficult decisions are having to be made across industries. Where and how to store data tops the list of priorities. Who to trust has also become a pertinent question when it comes to access management and procurement processes. Storage and security have become sexy again.

Indeed, one of the material outcomes of Snowden’s leaks has already been realised: inspired by renewed consumer and business interest in privacy, technology is becoming more secure.

From the New York Times, oversharing reported by James Bamford:

Israel’s N.S.A. Scandal

In Moscow this summer, while reporting a story for Wired magazine, I had the rare opportunity to hang out for three days with Edward J. Snowden. It gave me a chance to get a deeper understanding of who he is and why, as a National Security Agency contractor, he took the momentous step of leaking hundreds of thousands of classified documents.

Among his most shocking discoveries, he told me, was the fact that the N.S.A. was routinely passing along the private communications of Americans to a large and very secretive Israeli military organization known as Unit 8200. This transfer of intercepts, he said, included the contents of the communications as well as metadata such as who was calling whom.

Typically, when such sensitive information is transferred to another country, it would first be “minimized,” meaning that names and other personally identifiable information would be removed. But when sharing with Israel, the N.S.A. evidently did not ensure that the data was modified in this way.

Mr. Snowden stressed that the transfer of intercepts to Israel contained the communications — email as well as phone calls — of countless Arab- and Palestinian-Americans whose relatives in Israel and the Palestinian territories could become targets based on the communications. “I think that’s amazing,” he told me. “It’s one of the biggest abuses we’ve seen.”

From RT, bloody irony:

GTA-ISIS: Militants hooking youngsters with ‘Jihad video game’ trailer

Islamic State (IS) militants have released a jihadist video game trailer in which the aim is to destroy Iraqi and US forces, Arabic media report. The game, styling itself as a Grand Theft Auto adaptation, appears specifically aimed at young people.

The recruitment propaganda video trailer aimed to “raise the morale of the mujahedin and to train children and youth how to battle the West and to strike terror into the hearts of those who oppose the Islamic State,” according to the media wing of the IS (formerly known as ISIS), cited in Arabic media.

“The content includes all of the organization’s military tactics against its opponents,” the Islamic state said.

Homeland Security News Wire covers an intelligence failure:

U.S. intelligence, leaders unclear on exact danger posed by ISIS

Considerable discrepancies in the reporting from U.S. intelligence services regarding the strength of the Islamic State (IS) have led critics to the conclusion that the U.S. intelligence community knows little about the terrorists’ actual strength as the United States is in the process of developing a military strategy to defeat the Islamist organization.

Considerable discrepancies in the reporting from U.S. intelligence services regarding the strength ofthe Islamic State (IS) have led critics to the conclusion that the U.S. intelligence community knows little about the terrorists’ actual strength as the United States is in the process of developing a military strategy to defeat the Islamist organization.

From the Associated Press, The Most Transparent Administration in History™ flunks the test, again:

Journalists view Obama administration’s transparency as much worse than Bush’s

Editors and reporters meeting in Chicago raised concerns Wednesday about what they described as a lack of access and transparency undermining journalists’ work, several blaming the current White House for setting standards for secrecy that are spreading nationwide.

Criticism of President Barack Obama’s administration on the issue of openness in government came on the last day of a three-day joint convention of the American Society of News Editors, the Associated Press Media Editors and the Associated Press Photo Managers.

“The White House push to limit access and reduce transparency has essentially served as the secrecy road map for all kinds of organizations — from local and state governments to universities and even sporting events,” Brian Carovillano, AP managing editor for U.S. news, said during a panel discussion.

James Risen, a New York Times reporter who is facing potential jail time as he battles government efforts to force him to testify at the trial of a former CIA officer accused of leaking classified information, also spoke at the conference. Risen said intense pressure on reporters and their sources is having a chilling effect on newsgathering.

He spoke of scaring one source just by going to his home and knocking on the front door. “He opened the door and he turned white,” Risen said. “He marches me back through the kitchen [to a back exit] and said, “‘Go out that way.’”

Guns beat butter again, via the Guardian:

UN to cut food aid to Syria

Without more money, World Food Programme warns food rations will be reduced and voucher schemes slashed

The UN warned on Thursday that it will be forced to cut food rations for more than 6 million Syrians from next month unless it received more funding.

The World Food Programme said that while it still expects to reach almost 6 million Syrians inside the country and in neighbouring states in October and November, there will be significant cuts to the amount of food delivered. The WFP said it had no money for programmes in December.

A WFP official told Reuters that the food basket for Syrians could shrink to 825 calories, well under half the daily recommended intake.

From the Associated Press, bordering on sanity:

Border Patrol to test wearing cameras

The U.S. Border Patrol will begin testing body-worn cameras on agents next month, the head of its parent agency said Thursday, a step toward seeing if the technology should be used in the field as the government seeks to blunt criticism about agents’ use of force.

R. Gil Kerlikowske, Customs and Border Protection commissioner since March, said a variety of cameras will be tested beginning Oct. 1 at the Border Patrol’s training academy in Artesia, New Mexico.

He didn’t say when or even if cameras will be introduced to the roughly 21,000 agents in the field.

From Sky News, making a good point:

Assange: ‘Google Like A Privatised NSA’

  • Julian Assange tells Sky News the search engine gathers and files information just like America’s National Security Agency.

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has accused Google of behaving like a “privatised version of the NSA” in the way it collects and stores information about people.

He told Sky News the internet giant was not doing anything illegal but its behaviour was highly questionable. “It is not doing things which are illegal, what it is doing is legal,” he said. “It is collecting as much information about people as possible, storing it, indexing it, and using it to create profiles of people and then selling that to advertisers and others.

“Those are the same procedures that security agencies go through. That is why the NSA has latched on top of what Google is doing. Since 2009 the NSA had been engaged in the Prism system where information collected online is available to it.”

The accompanying video from Sky News:

Julian Assange ‘Will Leave Embassy With Asylum Intact’

Program note:

Sky’s Sarah Hewson talks to Wikileaks founder Julian Assange inside the Ecuadorian embassy in London.

From BuzzFeed, and reminding us of the a high school joke about the cat, who crept in, crapped, and crept out:

U.S. Company Distances Itself From Egyptian Surveillance System

  • And the website of its Egyptian affiliate is taken down.

The U.S.-based Blue Coat company has issued a statement distancing itself from a project to monitor Twitter, Facebook, and Skype in Egypt, following a BuzzFeed News report.

Egyptian officials had told BuzzFeed News that a company called See Egypt had won a tender to begin providing the government with a surveillance system that would allow them to comb through data from Skype, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, among others. In interviews, the Egypt-based SeeEgypt called itself a “sister company” to Blue Coat, and listed the company as one of their affiliates.

Now, Blue Coat has issued a response saying that their products are not being resold to the Egyptian government.

From the Dissenter, gee, are we surprised:

Email Suggests Manufacturer of Stingray Surveillance Equipment May Have Lied to FCC

The American Civil Liberties Union has accused the manufacturer of StingRay surveillance products of providing inaccurate information and possibly even lying to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), which is the agency that is supposed to regulate communications over cable, radio, satellite, television and wire.

Harris Corporation is one of the leading manufacturers of StingRay technology. The technology was “initially designed for the military and intelligence community” and “operates by mimicking cellular service providers’ base stations and forcing all cellular phones in range to register their electronic serial numbers and other identifying information,” according to the ACLU.

The ACLU of Northern California chapter managed to obtain a series of emails from 2010 between the FCC’s Office of Engineering and Technology (OET) and Harris Corporation employees, where the “equipment authorization application for law enforcement use of Harris’ StingRay line of products” is being discussed.

After the jump, a death sentence for an Iranian blogger, beating the messenger in Russia, Plasticopalypse Now!, a horrifying traffic scenario suggested, China bases more claims in troubled waters, and a top cop’s curious pal. . . Continue reading