Category Archives: Deep Politics

Chart of the day: Brutal costs of Greek austerity


From the just-released Statistics on Income and Living Conditions 2013 [PDF] from the Hellenic Statistical Authority [Elstat], dramatic evidence of the cost of Troika-imposed austerity on the Greek people:

?????G??? ?????????S ??? ?????????O?

InSecurityWatch: War, Snowden, cops, drones


And mores. . .

First, a stalemate, via Reuters:

Kurds hold off Islamic State in Kobani; fighters strike in Iraq

Kurdish defenders held off Islamic State militants in Syria’s border town of Kobani on Sunday, but the fighters struck with deadly bombings in Iraq, killing dozens of Kurds in the north and assassinating a provincial police commander in the east.

The top U.S. military officer suggested that Washington, which has ruled out joining ground combat in either Iraq or Syria, could nevertheless increase its role “advising and assisting” Iraqi troops on the ground in future.

A U.S.-led military coalition has been bombing Islamic State fighters who hold swathes of territory in both Iraq and Syria, countries involved in complex multi-sided civil wars in which nearly every country in the Middle East has a stake.

A predictable call for boots on the ground, via the Guardian:

McCain urges ground troops to defeat Isis: ‘They’re winning, and we’re not’

Republican senator says US needs ‘fundamental re-evaluation’ of strategy to defeat militant group in Syria and Iraq

Senator John McCain has warned that the Islamic State (Isis) is winning in Iraq and Syria, and that the United States needs to deploy ground troops if it is to stave off defeat.

The Arizona Republican urged a “fundamental re-evaluation” of US strategy on Sunday, as the extremist group, which is the target of US-led international air strikes, continued to advance into the Kurdish town of Kobani in Syria, near the border with Turkey, and towards the Iraqi capital, Baghdad.

“They’re winning, and we’re not,” McCain told CNN. “The Iraqis are not winning. The Peshmerga, the Kurds are not winning.”

And from the London Telegraph, a response to the idea:

Islamic State ‘eagerly awaits’ boots on ground

Islamic State (Isil) releases new video with British hostage John Cantlie, as victim Alan Henning is remembered at service in Manchester

Islamic State (Isil) “eagerly awaits” western boots on the ground in the Middle East, the British hostage John Cantlie has said in a video released by his captors.

In a video entitled “Lend Me Your Ears”, Mr Cantlie says it will be impossible for the west to conduct a war against Isil without getting their “hands dirty”, as he talks of the group’s strength.

The professionally-produced video was released as hundreds of people gathered at a Muslim heritage centre on Sunday night in memory of Alan Henning, a British hostage murdered by Isil.

In the film Mr Cantlie, a photojournalist, says: “One month ago Obama pressed the button on air strikes. Now we have to wonder how long his policy of no boots on the ground has left to live.

“As for [Isil], they eagerly await to see those boots”.

From the Associated Press, a shift:

US says Turkey OKs use of bases against militants

Turkey will let U.S. and coalition forces use its bases, including a key installation within 100 miles of the Syrian border for operations against Islamic State militants in Syria and Iraq, American defense officials said Sunday.

The Obama administration had pressed Turkey for a larger role against the extremists, and a senior U.S. official confirmed Saturday that Ankara had agreed to train and moderate Syrian rebels on Turkish soil. A Turkish government official said Sunday that Turkey put the number at 4,000 opposition fighters and said they would be screened by Turkish intelligence.

U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, who has been traveling in South America, has said the U.S. wanted access to the Turkish air bases, including one at Incirlik in southern Turkey, from which to launch strikes against the Islamic militants.

Advice from someone who knows, via TechCrunch:

Edward Snowden’s Privacy Tips: “Get Rid Of Dropbox,” Avoid Facebook And Google

According to Edward Snowden, people who care about their privacy should stay away from popular consumer Internet services like Dropbox, Facebook, and Google.

Snowden conducted a remote interview today as part of the New Yorker Festival, where he was asked a couple of variants on the question of what we can do to protect our privacy.

His first answer called for a reform of government policies. Some people take the position that they “don’t have anything to hide,” but he argued that when you say that, “You’re inverting the model of responsibility for how rights work”:

When you say, ‘I have nothing to hide,’ you’re saying, ‘I don’t care about this right.’ You’re saying, ‘I don’t have this right, because I’ve got to the point where I have to justify it.’ The way rights work is, the government has to justify its intrusion into your rights.

He added that on an individual level, people should seek out encrypted tools and stop using services that are “hostile to privacy.” For one thing, he said you should “get rid of Dropbox,” because it doesn’t support encryption, and you should consider alternatives like SpiderOak. (Snowden made similar comments over the summer, with Dropbox responding that protecting users’ information is “a top priority.”)

From the Guardian, old school:

Large haul of explosives recovered from farm near Northern Ireland border

  • Police claim discovery has prevented dissident republicans opposed to the peace process from causing severe harm

Irish republican dissidents appear to have been dealt a blow with the discovery of a large quantity of explosives on Friday in a border area of Northern Ireland.

The head of the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) described the explosives find as significant. It was uncovered during a security operation in County Fermanagh.

Chief constable George Hamilton said the operation had prevented dissident republicans opposed to the peace process from causing severe harm.

“The threat level is severe and has been for some time, I’m not sure we’re any more vulnerable now than we have been in recent months, and it is a concern to me,” he said.

“We do believe that violent dissident republicans are behind this activity in Fermanagh.”

From United Press International, a number marking a national shame:

Analysis finds young black males 21 times more likely to be shot by police than whites

  • The study focuses on black males between the ages of 15 and 19

A new analysis from ProPublica found that young black males are 21 times more likely to be shot by the police than their white counterparts. The analysis used the FBI’s Supplementary Homicide Report to analyze the over 12,000 police homicides recorded between 1980 and 2012. Between 2010 and 2012, they found young black males between ages 15 and 19 were killed at a rate of 31.17 per million, compared to 1.47 per million for young white males.

Some of the black males who are killed are very young, with 27 black males who were 14 or younger reported as killed for the duration of the records. Much of the records do not show why police killed the person. “There were many deadly shooting where the circumstances were listed as “undetermined.” 77 percent of those killed in such instances were black,” the study says. It also shows black officers kill people less than white officers, with only around 10 percent of reported killings being related to their actions, but they also kill mostly black people, who accounted for 78 percent of people killed by black officers.

The analysis states that black youth are being “killed at disturbing rates.” It also states that there needs to be more data, because many police departments across the country do not contribute shooting records to the database. Specifically, Florida police departments “haven’t filed reports since 1997,” it says.

Continued protest in Ferguson from the Washington Post:

Protesters take to St. Louis streets as part of ‘weekend of resistance’

There was no riot gear, no tear gas and no arrests when a crowd of more than 1,000 people surged through downtown St. Louis on Saturday, demanding justice for Michael Brown, the unarmed black 18-year-old shot and killed by a white police officer just over two months ago.

Instead, police kept their distance from the spirited morning march, which included participants from across the country.

The event was part of a four-day “weekend of resistance” and came as a grand jury is still considering whether to charge Ferguson, Mo., police officer Darren Wilson in Brown’s death.

More from the Washington Post:

Protesters stage surprise sit-in at St. Louis gas station; 17 arrested

In a symbolic and defiant act of civil disobedience, more than 100 protesters staged a sit-in at a QuikTrip gas station in St. Louis near the site of a police-involved shooting last week — prompting riot police to deploy tear gas and make arrests.

The mass arrest event was the first time that any demonstrator had been taken into custody this weekend, which has been branded Ferguson October. Just before noon Sunday, St. Louis police said they had made 17 arrests for “unlawful assembly on the parking lot of the QuikTrip.”

St. Louis Police Chief Sam Dotson took to Twitter to accuse the demonstrators of throwing rocks at officers. “There were no reports of injuries or property damage,” said Schron Jackson, the police department’s spokeswoman. “Chief Dotson himself was nearly struck with a rock thrown at him from the crowd.”

A mother takes the lead, via the Independent:

Ferguson October protest: Lesley McSpadden, mother of Michael Brown, leads protests condemning ‘terror on US soil’

The mother of Michael Brown, the unarmed black teenager whose death sparked weeks of protests in Missouri, led hundreds of people at the “Ferguson October” demonstrations this weekend, marching down the streets of St Louis in protest against police violence before taking stand outside the force’s headquarters.

Lesley McSpadden walked at the front of Saturday’s evening rally, held in the St Louis suburb, where more than 1,000 people eventually gathered in protest against the recent police shootings.

Ms McSpadden, whose 18-year-old son was shot and killed by police while he was unarmed on 9 August, has rarely participated in protests, but she took a prominent place in Saturday’s events, which were part of a weekend of planned demonstrations.

After the jump, the ongoing tragedy of murdered Mexican students including mounting anger, a presidential challenge, mass protests, parental anxieties, and more confusion over bodies in mass graves, Germany mulls extending boots on Afghan ground, Pakistani drone strike claims al-Qaida casualties, China and Iran strike a media deal, a noteworthy Sino/Iranian media deal, a Hong Kong mandate to protesters, pondering provocative moves and American response, a frank Chinese admission of military weakness, spy satellite questions, and secret Beijing/Tokyo talks. . . Continue reading

Edward Snowden on his motivations for leaking


A fascinating conversation with America’s foremost leaker on the reasons he decided to hand his files over to the press from the New Yorker magazine’s festival.

One of the most fascinating insights comes at the end when interviewer Jane Mayer is bidding adieu with a remark that Snowden can now go off for a shot of vodka. He responds that he’s a non drinker. “I’ve never been drunk,” he says with a smile.

From the New Yorker:

The Virtual Interview: Edward Snowden – The New Yorker Festival

Program note:

The New Yorker Festival presents Edward Snowden in conversation with Jane Mayer.

Glenn Greenwald: Why privacy matters


Yeah, it’s one of those TED talks, but in the space of 20 minutes, Greenwald hits the right notes in explaining why all that intrusive monitoring matters, even for those who say it doesn’t.

The talk was delivered Tuesday at the TEDGlobal 2014 conference in Rio de Janeiro.

From TED Talks:

Glenn Greenwald: Why privacy matters

Program notes:

Glenn Greenwald was one of the first reporters to see — and write about — the Edward Snowden files, with their revelations about the United States’ extensive surveillance of private citizens. In this searing talk, Greenwald makes the case for why you need to care about privacy, even if you’re “not doing anything you need to hide.”

InSecurityWatch: War, cops, spies, borders


We begin with a warning from the McClatchy Washington Bureau:

Nobel Prize winner Malala told Obama U.S. drone attacks fuel terrorism

The teenager who became the youngest person to win the Nobel Peace Prize Friday told President Barack Obama at a White House meeting last year that she worried about the effect of U.S. drone strikes.

The Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to Malala Yousafzai of Pakistan, as well as Kailash Satyarthi of India, for pushing for young people’s rights, including the right to education.

Malala, now 17, made international headlines after being shot in the head by the Taliban on a school bus two years ago for promoting education for girls in Pakistan. After recovering, she took her campaign for children’s education across the world, writing a book and even speaking at the United Nations last year.

Hysteria in Old Blighty, via the London Telegraph:

Security services monitoring ‘thousands’ of terrorism suspects in London, says Boris Johnson

  • Mayor of London discloses that threat from Isil and other terrorist groups is larger than previously known

The security services are monitoring “thousands” of terrorist suspects in London, Boris Johnson has disclosed, suggesting the threat from Islamist extremists may be far greater than has previously been admitted.

Until now, it was thought that the main danger came from around 500 jihadis who have travelled to Syria and Iraq from the UK to join Isil or al-Qaeda fighters, around half of whom have returned to Britain.

But the Mayor of London suggested the threat from home-grown terrorist plots was far more widespread than the relatively small numbers of extremists who have gone abroad to fight.

More from the Independent:

UK terror threat: Police put on special terror alert for their own safety

Britain’s 130,000 police officers were urged to be “vigilant for their personal safety” after counter-terror chiefs warned the threat level against them had increased in the past 24 hours.

Mark Rowley, the national lead for counter-terrorism at the Association of Chief Police Officers, refused to discuss specific intelligence but confirmed the threat level against detectives and support staff up and down the country had been “heightened”.

Police and the intelligence agencies are working around the clock to track hundreds of suspected British jihadists as they return from fighting with Islamic State (Isis) militants in Syria and Iraq.

Assistant Commissioner Rowley said: “The threat level to police officers and staff has been heightened, but we are used to confronting risk and danger; this is what we do on a daily basis, and we are well trained.

“We are informing our officers and staff of the heightened risk and reminding them to remain vigilant and alert to any possible dangers. We are asking them to follow existing policies and good practice. Measures are being put in place to increase the vigilance of officers and staff.

The Japan Times covers motivation:

Ancient prophecies of apocalypse give Islamic State jihadists hope

An infidel horde flying 80 banners meets a Muslim army at the Syrian town of Dabiq in an apocalyptic battle. The Muslims are decimated but ultimately prevail and conquer the world.

This ancient Sunni Muslim prophecy — mentioned in canonical accounts of the Prophet Mohammed’s sayings — has become a rallying cry for Islamic State jihadists in Iraq and Syria, especially since they seized Dabiq in August.

The town itself has negligible military value compared with the strategic Islamic State-controlled cities of Raqqa in Syria and Mosul in Iraq.

But as Islamic State jihadists come under a U.S.-led aerial onslaught to stop their advance, its importance as a symbol has become clear.

Reuters delivers a warning:

U.N. says thousands likely to be massacred if jihadists take Kobani

Thousands of people most likely will be massacred if Kobani falls to Islamic State fighters, a U.N. envoy said on Friday, as militants fought deeper into the besieged Syrian Kurdish town in full view of Turkish tanks that have done nothing to intervene.

U.N. envoy Staffan de Mistura said Kobani could suffer the same fate as the Bosnian town of Srebrenica, where 8,000 Muslims were murdered by Serbs in 1995, Europe’s worst atrocity since World War Two, while U.N. peacekeepers failed to protect them.

“If this falls, the 700, plus perhaps the 12,000 people, apart from the fighters, will be most likely massacred,” de Mistura said. The United Nations believes 700 mainly elderly civilians are trapped in the town itself and 12,000 have left the center but not made it across the border into Turkey.

From Deutsche Welle, a recruit on trial:

Young man confesses in Germany’s first IS terror trial

A 20-year-old on trial for involvement in a terrorist organization has confessed to fighting alongside the IS in Syria. In a statement, he said he saw it as his duty to defend Sunni Muslims from the tyranny of Assad.

A man on trial in Germany for his alleged involvement in the “Islamic State” (IS) war in Syria has confessed to having joined the militia and fighting in Syria. Twenty-year-old Kreshnik B is on trial for his alleged membership in a foreign terrorist organization.

Born in Hesse to a family from Kosovo, Kreshnik B admitted to going to Syria in 2013 to fight against the Assad regime in his third day of court on Friday, October 10.

In a written confession read out by his lawyer in Frankfurt on Friday, he said, “The inconceivable violence used by the Alawite Assad regime against the Sunni majority was enraging and bewildering. No one wanted to help the people there.”

On to the world of spies and hacks, first with SecurityWeek:

Hackers Show the NSA’s Capabilities Are Not Magic

A group of security researchers, hardware hackers, hardware developers and hobbyists have set out to demonstrate that many of the tools similar to those used by the United States National Security Agency (NSA) for surveillance operations can be reproduced on a low budget with open source software and hardware components.

The project, called the “NSA Playset,” came out of a collaboration between security researcher Dean Pierce and Michael Ossmann, founder of Great Scott Gadgets. Shortly after the NSA’s ANT catalog was leaked online, they recruited several others who had already implemented or were working on implementing capabilities that were similar to the ANT tools.

The ANT catalog is a 48-page classified document containing information on the technologies used by the NSA’s Tailored Access Operations (TAO) unit for cyber surveillance. The document is one of the many files obtained by the former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

On to the pros, via The Intercept:

Core Secrets: NSA Saboteurs in China and Germany

The National Security Agency has had agents in China, Germany, and South Korea working on programs that use “physical subversion” to infiltrate and compromise networks and devices, according to documents obtained by The Intercept.

The documents, leaked by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, also indicate that the agency has used “under cover” operatives to gain access to sensitive data and systems in the global communications industry, and that these secret agents may have even dealt with American firms. The documents describe a range of clandestine field activities that are among the agency’s “core secrets” when it comes to computer network attacks, details of which are apparently shared with only a small number of officials outside the NSA.

“It’s something that many people have been wondering about for a long time,” said Chris Soghoian, principal technologist for the American Civil Liberties Union, after reviewing the documents. “I’ve had conversations with executives at tech companies about this precise thing. How do you know the NSA is not sending people into your data centers?”

Here’s one of those delightful NSA grahpics accompanying the report:

BLOG NSA

From the Guardian, reunited:

Edward Snowden’s girlfriend living with him in Moscow, film reveals

  • Lindsay Mills, thought to have been deserted by Snowden before NSA revelations, appears beside whistleblower in Citizenfour

The mystery of the whereabouts of Edward Snowden’s long-time girlfriend is solved in a documentary that premiered in New York on Friday night: she has been living with the national security whistleblower in Russia since July.

The surprise revelation in the documentary, filmed by Laura Poitras, upends the widespread assumption that Snowden had deserted Lindsay Mills and that she, in a fit of pique, fled Hawaii where they had been living to stay with her parents in mainland US.

Since Snowden, a former NSA contractor, outed himself last year as being behind the biggest leak in US intelligence history, Mills has remained silent, giving no interviews or any hints of her feelings on the subject of her boyfriend or his actions.

From the London Telegraph, sadly, partly true:

Big companies snoop on public more than GCHQ, says spy chief

  • Sir Iain Lobban, Director of GCHQ, says private firms are the ones who know everything about you and share data

Private firms snoop far more on the public than the spy agencies, the head of GCHQ has said.

Sir Iain Lobban, Director of the intelligence agency, said it was the “commercial companies” who know everything about people and share the data with each other.

There is an ongoing row over the level of snooping powers the police and intelligence agencies should have.

But Sir Iain’s comments came as it emerged three of the UK’s main mobile phone companies automatically provided data on customers to the police if asked.

The Los Angeles Times covers cops misbehavin’:

LAPD ghost cars: Cops lied about officers on patrol, report finds

Los Angeles police deliberately deceived senior officials by artificially inflating the number of officers on patrol, according to an investigation by the LAPD’s independent watchdog.

In a report released Friday, the inspector general for the Police Commission found evidence that officers in at least five of the department’s 21 patrol divisions were said to be patrolling city streets in cars when, in fact, they were at station desks.

The report’s findings bolstered allegations made by union officials that patrol commanders around the city were using the so-called ghost cars to mask the fact that they did not have enough officers on patrol to meet mandatory staffing levels.

And yet more hacking, via United Press International:

Massive Snapchat nude photo leak targeting everyday people underway, Snapchat blames users

“We can confirm that Snapchat’s servers were never breached and were not the source of these leaks,” Snapchat said.

Hackers posting in the online forum 4Chan are actively leaking at least 100,000 nude or compromising photographs obtained from users of mobile picture message app Snapchat.

Initially suspected to be an elaborate hoax by trolls posting on 4Chan, Snapchat confirmed the leak on its official Twitter account and denied any responsibility for security breach, saying the pictures were lifted from third-party apps that allow users to save photos sent via the history-less mobile app.

“We can confirm that Snapchat’s servers were never breached and were not the source of these leaks,” the company tweeted.

Network World covers another hack attack:

Dairy Queen stores hit by ‘Backoff’ malware, payment card data stolen

Dairy Queen said Thursday the “Backoff” point-of-sale malware infected systems at 395 of its stores, stealing payment card data.

The company, which has 4,500 independently owned franchises in the U.S., said in a statement it believes the “malware has been contained.” Most of the stores, including one Orange Julius location, were affected for between three weeks to a month starting in early August, according to a list.

“We deeply regret any inconvenience this incident may cause,” wrote CEO and President John Gainor.

PCWorld covers another one:

Kmart hacked, exposing customers’ card numbers

Sears Holding Corp. said Friday the payment systems at its Kmart retail chain had been breached as a result of malware, compromising shoppers’ credit and debit card numbers.

The U.S. retail chain’s payment systems were infected with a form of malware that went undetected by its anti-virus systems, Sears said. There is no evidence that Kmart shoppers’ personal information, PIN numbers, email addresses or Social Security numbers were stolen, and the malware has since been removed, Sears said.

A forensic investigation indicates that the breach began in early September, Sears said. Kmart’s IT team discovered the breach only this Thursday.

After the jump, Japan orders Google amnesia, more unrest in St. Louis after police shooting, protests in Ferguson, more violence in St. Louis, protests in Ferguson, military misbehavin’ comes home to roost, digital crime in the police station, on to the deepening mystery of the mass graves and missing Mexican students, parental vigils, a missing mayor, and a hunt for masterminds, more murderous criminality, this time military, violence in Brazil, on to Asia and a bloody border battle, a Korean Coast Guard killing of a Chinese fisherman sparks a diplomatic row, Hong Kong protesters hit the street, and Taiwan lends its support. . . Continue reading

InSecurityWatch: Wars, spies, hacks, drones, more


From the Associated Press, another current in the war of the moment:

Turkey, Kurd tensions worry US in fight for Kobani

Even as it prods Turkey to step up in the global fight against Islamic State militants, the United States is worried that Ankara might use military action to target Kurdish fighters who are the last line of defense against extremists trying to take over the Syrian border town of Kobani.

In a careful-what-you-wish-for scenario, U.S. officials acknowledge that drawing Ankara into the war could open a new line of attack against a Kurdish movement that has for decades sought greater autonomy inside Turkey.

At the same time, Americans officials fear Turkey could simply choose to remain out of the fray, and let two of its enemies — the Islamic State group and Kurdish guerrillas — fight for Kobani. That would give the militants an opportunity to do as much damage to the Kurdish fighters in Syria as possible.

A parallel development from BBC News:

Turkish action against IS in Syria ‘unrealistic’

Turkey’s foreign minister says it cannot be expected to lead a ground operation against Islamic State (IS) militants in Syria on its own.

Mevlut Cavusoglu also called for the creation of a no-fly zone over its border with Syria after talks in Ankara with new Nato chief Jens Stoltenberg.

Turkey is under intense pressure to do more to help Kurdish forces fighting IS in the strategic Syrian town of Kobane.

From Reuters, the focus of the storm:

Islamic State seizes large areas of Syrian town despite air strikes

Islamic State fighters seized more than a third of the Syrian border town of Kobani, a monitoring group said on Thursday, as U.S.-led air strikes failed to halt their advance and Turkish forces looked on without intervening.

With Washington ruling out a ground operation in Syria, Turkey said it was unrealistic to expect it to mount a cross-border operation alone to relieve the mainly Kurdish town.

The U.S. military said Kurdish forces appeared to be holding out in the town, which lies within sight of Turkish territory, following fresh airstrikes in the area against a militant training camp and fighters.

However, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Islamic State, still widely known by its former acronym of ISIS, had pushed forward on Thursday.

The Associated Press covers the newest player:

Australia launches first airstrike in Iraq

Defense officials say an Australian jet fighter has made the country’s first airstrike against an Islamic State target in Iraq since the Australian government committed its air force to combat missions last week.

An Australian Defense Force statement said on Thursday: “Two bombs were dropped from an F/A-18F Super Hornet on to an ISIL facility” overnight.

It added that: “All aircraft exited the target area safely and returned to base.”

And from intelNews, a spooky discovery:

Secret Russian spy base in Syria seized by Western-backed rebels

Rebel forces aligned to Syria’s Western-backed opposition have announced the seizure of a joint Syrian-Russian spy base, which observers say reveals the extent of Russia’s intelligence cooperation with Syria. The base is located at the base of the Tel Al-Hara Mountain, in southern Syria’s Golan Heights region, just south of the border crossing with Israel in the now largely destroyed Syrian city of Quneitra.

The Western-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA) said it took over the spy base on Sunday, following several weeks of fighting against rival groups, including Syrian government soldiers and members of Jabhat al-Nusra, al-Qaeda’s branch in Syria.

The FSA said the base, referred to as “Center C” by Russian intelligence, had been under Russian command until it was abandoned at a time and for reasons that remain unknown.

The Mainichi covers Japanese war tourism:

Ex-SDF member took part in battle for Syrian rebel group in 2013

A former member of Japan’s Self-Defense Forces (SDF) has revealed that he previously joined an Islamic militant group in Syria as a fighter and took part in combat there in 2013.

Yoshifumi Uzawa, a 26-year-old resident of Tokyo’s Ota Ward, said he returned to Japan about two months after joining the rebel group, having suffered heavy injuries, including gunshot wounds to his legs, when he came under attack from an armored vehicle.

Uzawa joined the SDF after graduating from junior high school. When he subsequently succeeded in his own business selling organic vegetables door-to-door, he decided to go to Syria. “I was satisfied with my life, but I wanted to take one more step forward. I don’t have any political or ideological beliefs. I thought I would be able to see something if I became a fighter having a brush with death,” he said.

Domestic InSecurity from the New York Times:

Protests in St. Louis After Police Officer Kills Black Teenager

An off-duty police officer shot and killed a black teenager in St. Louis on Wednesday night, setting off a demonstration just days ahead of long-scheduled protests in Missouri about the use of lethal force by the authorities.

The St. Louis police chief, D. Samuel Dotson III, said at a news conference that the teenager had fired at least three shots toward the officer, a six-year veteran who was working in the city’s Shaw neighborhood for a private security firm.

Chief Dotson said that the officer had fired 17 rounds, but that he did not know how many times the teenager had been hit.

The teenager was identified as Vonderrit D. Myers Jr. by Peter M. Cohen, a lawyer who said had been representing Mr. Myers on charges that included unlawful possession of a weapon.

More from CBC News:

Man killed by off-duty St. Louis officer was unarmed, mother says

  • Police say man had gun, fired three shots at officer

A state senator and other black leaders in St. Louis are calling for the Justice Department to investigate the fatal shooting of a black 18-year-old by an off-duty police officer.

St. Louis Police Chief Sam Dotson says the 18-year-old, identified by his mother as Vonderrit D. Myers, shot at the officer Wednesday night. Dotson says the officer returned fire. He didn’t identify the 32-year-old officer.

The shooting led to an angry protest.

Syreeta Myers told The Associated Press by phone Thursday that her son wasn’t armed, as police contend.

At a news conference on Thursday, Democratic state Sen. Jamilah Nasheed questioned why the officer approached Vonderrit Myers in the first place. She called it a clear case of racial profiling.

From the Washington Post, the latest Ferguson revelation:

Ferguson police continued crackdown on protesters after federal, state interventions

Despite federal and state attempts to intervene during the two months since 18-year-old Michael Brown was shot and killed, the Ferguson Police Department continued — and even accelerated — efforts to suppress peaceful protests using arbitrary and inconsistently applied arrest policies, according to Justice Department officials who are investigating the department and county police officials who have since taken over for the city.

A Washington Post review of county and state arrest records, and interviews with Justice Department officials, Ferguson and St. Louis County police chiefs, dozens of protesters and several civil rights officials reveal that:

Hundreds of protesters have been arrested since August for violating unwritten rules and committing minor offenses, such as failure to disperse or unlawful assembly, and for violating a noise ordinance. Many have been taken to jail without being told what charges they may face and are often released without any paperwork. For weeks, officers employed a “five-second rule” under which any protester who stopped walking was subject to arrest — a policy ruled unconstitutional by a federal judge this week.

On to the spooky realm with Network World:

Judges spar with attorneys on national security data requests

Federal judges challenged attorneys on Wednesday to clarify the rationale and constitutionality of government data requests, in a line of questioning that may ultimately introduce greater transparency into what is now a tightly cloaked process.

The hearing, held in a federal appeals court in San Francisco, focused on National Security Letters, or NSLs, a type of data request commonly used by the Federal Bureau of Investigation to obtain information from companies, ostensibly for the purposes of investigating national security matters. The government issues these data requests to telecommunications and Internet providers such as Google and Verizon without any review by a court, and the letters almost always have a gag order attached to prohibit the recipients from saying much about them.

Wednesday’s hearing followed a ruling last year by the U.S. District Court for Northern California, in which the judge struck down the gag orders as being unconstitutional. The plaintiff in that case, the digital rights group Electronic Frontier Foundation, represented an unnamed service provider that argued the NSL it received restricted its free speech rights and was served without adequate oversight. The government appealed the ruling, arguing that the standards around NSLs are in fact constitutional.

The Intercept covers priming:

How The NSA Plans To Recruit Your Teenagers

Kids across America no longer have to wait until college to plan on being a part of the National Security Agency. In fact, they could start preparing for their NSA careers as early as age 13.

The NSA has begun sponsoring cybersecurity camps for middle and high school students, agency recruiter Steven LaFountain told CNBC’s Eamon Javers in a recent interview. Six prototype camps launched this past summer, and the NSA hopes to eventually have a presence in schools in all 50 states.

The camps, LaFountain told CNBC, teach “low-level programming… where most cybersecurity vulnerabilities are” and sponsor activities like a “wireless scavenger hunt” in which 10th graders were dispatched to hunt down “rogue access points.” The general idea is to eliminate “threats out there on the Internet”

“The students are really, really into it,” LaFountain added.

TechWeekEurope covers embarrassment by hackery in Old Blighty:

UCL Students Receive Thousands Of Spam Emails In ‘Bellogate’

  • Student added to mailing lists of PornHub and UKIP as email addresses are compromises in Bellogate

Students at University College London (UCL) were subject to thousands of unsolicited emails after spammers gained access to an all-student mailing list.

UCL was forced to shut down the mailing list at 9:30 this morning following complaints from students who say they were signed up to mailing lists from the likes of the UK Independence Party (UKIP), One Direction fan groups, and PornHub.

Some students have exacerbated the situation by replying to emails or clicking ‘unsubscribe’ to others

Selfish selfies thwarted by Tehran, via the Guardian:

Iran blocks Instagram account of ‘rich kids’ showing off wealth in Tehran

  • The richkidsoftehran group flaunts lifestyle of young Iranian elite, featuring sports cars, luxury goods and expensive homes

Iran has blocked access to an Instagram page devoted to the lifestyle of Tehran’s young elite that stirred indignation and spawned a rival site on how the majority live.

Richkidsoftehran, created in September on the photo-sharing service, attracted almost 100,000 followers, with its contributors saying they wanted to show a different image of Iran from the stereotypes in the west.

Its photo gallery was filled with Ferraris, Maseratis, luxury watches, expensive homes in upmarket northern Tehran – “all the accessories a Persian boy needs”. It also showed parties and women in western dress, despite the ban on alcohol in Iran, where women are obliged to wear headscarves.

Beijing takes exception, via Reuters:

China angered after FBI head says Chinese hacking costs billions

Speaking on CBS’ 60 Minutes program on Sunday, FBI Director James Comey said Chinese hackers were targeting big U.S. companies, and that some of them probably did not even know they had been hacked.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei, asked about Comey’s remarks at a daily news briefing, said China banned hacking and “firmly strikes” against such criminal activity.

“We express strong dissatisfaction with the United States’ unjustified fabrication of facts in an attempt to smear China’s name and demand that the U.S.-side cease this type of action,” Hong said.

“We also demand that the U.S. side cease its large-scale systematic internet attacks on other countries. The United States tries to divert attention by crying wolf. This won’t succeed.”

And from the Guardian, censorship of another sort:

China bans actors with a history of drug use from film or TV roles

  • A state crackdown leading to several arrests is aimed at removing actors who ‘corrupt the social atmosphere’

Chinese stars with a history of drug use or involvement with prostitution will be banned from appearing on film or television in the latest fallout from Beijing’s ongoing moral crackdown, reports Foreign Policy magazine.

Officials from the state administration of press, publication, radio, film, and television (SARFT) are said to have ordered cinemas and TV networks to halt all screenings of movies featuring stars with “morally dubious” pasts. The move follows the 17 September arrest of Jackie Chan’s son, Jaycee, for allegedly smoking marijuana at his apartment. The actor Huang Haibo and director Wang Quan’an were arrested in May and September respectively on suspicion of having sex with prostitutes.

Citing a piece on the Chinese website Netease, Foreign Policy reports that more than 40 performing arts organisations in Beijing have also agreed not to employ actors with an alleged history of drug use. SARFT said it has introduced the new regulations because actors “corrupted the social atmosphere” through their behaviour and created a “detrimental influence on the development of many young people”.

Network World covers a worm infestation:

Android SMS worm Selfmite returns, more aggressive than ever

A new version of an Android worm called Selfmite has the potential to ramp up huge SMS charges for victims in its attempt to spread to as many devices as possible.

The first version of Selfmite was discovered in June, but its distribution was quickly disrupted by security researchers. The worm—a rare type of malware in the Android ecosystem—spread by sending text messages with links to a malicious APK (Android Package) to the first 20 entries in the address book of every victim.

The new version, found recently and dubbed Selfmite.b, has a similar, but much more aggressive spreading system, according to researchers from security firm AdaptiveMobile. It sends text messages with rogue links to all contacts in a victim’s address book, and does this in a loop.

After the jump, more graves found in missing Mexican students mystery as protests mount, another conviction in Argentina’s Dirty War, more U.S. drone death in Pakistan and two more Pakistani journalists killed, Fourth Estate murders in Pakistan, and an increasingly bloody cross-border engagement with India, Hong Knong cancels talks with protesters and how demonstrators avoid social media shutdowns, plus a new call to action, a Chinese cybermilitary defensive move, major Chinese missile plays, speculation about a curious absence, and a push to pujt Pyongyang before a war crimes tribunal. . . Continue reading

InSecurityWatch: War, Hacks, drones, & zones


First, from the Washington Post, bombs away:

Intensified U.S. airstrikes keep Kobane from falling to Islamic State militants

The U.S.-led coalition stepped up airstrikes around the Syrian border town of Kobane on Tuesday after Turkey appealed for help, enabling Kurdish fighters to reverse the advance of Islamic State militants for the first time since the extremists launched their assault about three weeks ago.

The strikes followed the request by Turkey for intensified U.S. efforts to prevent the predominantly Kurdish town, known as Ayn al-Arab in Arabic, from falling to the Islamic State, Turkish officials said. Turkey has lined up tanks and troops within view of the Syrian Kurdish fighters defending Kobane but has not sought to intervene — for a tangle of reasons bound up with its complicated relationship with Kurds and its doubts about the goals of the international coalition fighting the extremists.

Turkey insisted, however, that it does not want the town to fall, and a senior official said Ankara asked the United States on Monday to escalate strikes.

Sky News qualifies:

US Military Says Airstrikes Alone May Not Stop IS

  • Islamic State fighters could take control of more towns and villages despite an increase in coalition airstrikes, officials warn

Airstrikes alone may not be able to stop the advance of Islamic State fighters in Syria, US officials have warned.

Barack Obama met military commanders to discuss the campaign against IS in Syria and Iraq amid fears troops would be needed on the ground.

“Our strikes continue, alongside our partners. It remains a difficult mission,” the US President said. “As I’ve indicated from the start, this is not something that is going to be solved overnight.”

Al Jazeera English adds another complication:

Turkish-Kurdish relations threatened by ISIL

  • The stakes are high for Turkey if ISIL took over Kobane, say Turkish analysts

According to analysts, Turkey does not believe that ISIL poses such a major threat.

“ISIL is not Turkey’s concern,” said Soli Ozel, a Turkish political analyst and journalist. “It’s more interested in dealing with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and the Bashar al-Assad regime. Turkey considers this as an opportunity to accomplish its goal in the region: deal with its two major enemies, and ISIL is not one of them.”

Kobane is a strategically located town, covering a large swathe of land stretching from the Turkish border to Raqqa, the self-proclaimed capital of Syrian Kurdistan (aka Rojava) on the Euphrates river in Syria.

If Kobane falls entirely under ISIL control, it will not just mark another territorial gain for the group but the acquisition of a key border crossing. ISIL has already taken the industrial regions including Maqtala al-Jadida and Kani Arabane in eastern Kobani after violent clashes with Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) fighters. In Syria, ISIL has control over most cities along the Euphrates River, including Deir el-Zor, Raqqa and al-Aqim in Syria.

From Homeland Security News Wire, hmmmmm:

Four arrested in London in plot to behead people on city streets

Officers from the Metropolitan Police counterterrorism unit early yesterday arrested four young men in London over a suspected terrorist plot to grab people on the streets of London and behead them. One of the four arrested was said to have links to Syria and Islamic State (ISIS). Security analysts have said that ISIS would likely seek to retaliate against the United Kingdom in response to British fighter planes joining the U.S. and Arab states in bombing raids on ISIS targets in Iraq.

Officers from the Metropolitan Police counterterrorism unit early yesterday arrested four young men in London over a suspected terrorist plot to grab people on the streets of London and behead them. One of the four arrested was said to have links to Syria and Islamic State (ISIS).

Counter-terrorism officials said one of the four had access to weapons and, accordingly, the officers who raided his address were heavily armed. This one suspect was subdued by a Taser gun.

From the Associated Press, more bombs on their way:

Canadian Parliament authorizes air strikes in Iraq

  • Following a request from the U.S., Canada’s Parliament has voted to authorize airstrikes against the Islamic State militant group in Iraq

Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Conservative Party introduced the motion last week and it was debated this week. Harper has a majority of seats in Parliament so the vote was all but assured. The motion passed Tuesday 157-134.

The motion authorizes air strikes in Iraq for up to six months and explicitly states that no ground troops be used in combat operations.

While the Canadian Press covers Northern anxieties:

RCMP investigating dozens of suspected extremists who returned to Canada

Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney says the RCMP is investigating dozens of Canadians who have returned from fighting extremist wars overseas.

A recent federal report said the federal government knew of more than 130 individuals with Canadian connections who were abroad and suspected of supporting terror-related activities.

Blaney also told the Commons public safety committee Wednesday that the government will bring forward new measures to help monitor suspected terrorists, but he offered no details.

And the Washington Post looks South:

Tom Cotton: Terrorists collaborating with Mexican drug cartels to infiltrate Arkansas

There’s been a ton of chatter to the effect that Republicans are on offense against Democrats on immigration and national security alike. Yet to convert these issues into political gain, some Republicans apparently believe they need to go to extraordinary lengths to conflate terrorism and illegal immigration into one giant, terrifying, hydra-headed threat to the country.

Exhibit A: GOP Rep. Tom Cotton, who is running for Senate in Arkansas. The Congressman told a tele-town-hall meeting that the Islamic State is actively working with Mexican drug cartels who are looking to expand into the terrorism business — and that the groups, working in tandem, could infiltrate the country and attack people in Arkansas.

While the McClatchy Washington Bureau chills out:

No Islamic State fighters coming from Mexico, Homeland Security says

The Department of Homeland Security is trying to shoot down reports that terrorist fighters are operating in Mexico and that some already have been caught attempting to cross the United States’ southern border.

Homeland Security officials said Wednesday that there was no truth to reports that fighters affiliated with the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, have been apprehended on the border.

“The suggestion that individuals who have ties to ISIL have been apprehended at the southwest border is categorically false, and not supported by any credible intelligence or the facts on the ground,” Marsha Catron, DHS press secretary, said in a statement.

From RT, bringing the war home to Europe:

Pro-ISIS radicals with machetes, knives attack Kurds in Germany

Peaceful protests against IS in Syria and Iraq organized by Kurdish nationals in several German cities ended with serious clashes with pro-jihadist Muslims in Hamburg and Celle. Police had to request reinforcements to restore order.

Police in Hamburg, a port city of 1.8 million people, used water cannons, batons and pepper spray late Tuesday to disperse crowds of warring Kurds and pro-jihadist Muslims, armed with knives and brass-knuckles, following a protest against Islamic State militants who are attacking the Kurdish town of Kobani in Syria near the Turkish border.

In most of the cities, protests went off peacefully and were virtually trouble-free, but in Celle police failed to prevent clashes.

The first brawl between about 100 Kurds and Muslims on each side took place Monday, but police in Celle, a town of 71,000, with the help of colleagues from Hannover, Oldenburg and Wolfsburg, prevented serious clashes between the two groups.

On Tuesday, however, the two sides, armed with stones and bottles, attempted to break through police lines to attack each other.

intelNews covers a mystery:

Iran silent about deadly blast that ‘lit up sky’ near Tehran

The government of Iran is refusing to comment on a reported blast at a secretive military facility that some sources say “lit up the sky” last week. The blast is said to have taken place on Sunday night at the Parchin military complex, located approximately 20 miles southeast of Iranian capital Tehran.

The semi-official Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) reported on Monday that the explosion had been caused by a “fire [that] broke out in an explosive materials production unit” east of Tehran, and that two people had died. Interestingly, however, the news agency did not specify the precise location of the blast, nor did it identify the “explosive materials production unit” in question. There was also no mention of the cause of the fire that allegedly resulted in the blast.

A few hours later, the Iranian-language news site SahamNews, which is politically linked to the Iranian opposition, claimed that the blast happened at Parchin and that it was a “massive explosion” that “lit up the evening sky” and caused windows to shatter as far as 9 miles away from the complex. It is worth noting that the blast was reported just hours after Israeli officials accused Iran of conducting nuclear implosion tests at a host of nuclear facilities, including Parchin.

From CBC News, covering up to the north:

Federal scientists muzzled by media policies, report suggests

  • Defence scores highest for openness, while Natural Resources Canada among lowest

Canadian government scientists face far more restrictions on talking to the media than their U.S. counterparts, a new analysis has found.

The study of media policies from 16 federal departments was released today by Evidence for Democracy, a non-profit group that advocates for evidence-based public policy. The group organized rallies across the country in support of federal scientists in 2013.

The analysis, led by Karen Magnuson-Ford, a researcher at Simon Fraser University who has a master’s degree in biology, found that all but one department performed worse than the average for U.S. government departments in similar analyses in 2008 and 2013.

Onto the world of spooks and hacks, first with The Hill:

Google chief on NSA: ‘We’re going to end up breaking the Internet’

The integrity of the Internet could be at risk if Congress does not act to rein in the National Security Agency, Google head Eric Schmidt warned on Wednesday.

Speaking alongside other tech executives and Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) at a Silicon Valley event, Schmidt said the revelations about U.S. surveillance could prompt countries to wall off their networks.
“The simplest outcome: We’re going to end up breaking the Internet,” Schmidt said, “because what’s going to happen is governments will do bad laws of one kind or another, and eventually what’s going to happen is: ‘We’re going to have our own Internet in our own country, and we’re going to do it our way.’ “

“It is fundamentally about breaking the Internet,” echoed Facebook General Counsel Colin Stretch. “The Internet is a medium without borders, and the notion that you would have to place data and data centers and the data itself [in a particular location] … is fundamentally at odds with the way the Internet is architectured.”

The Guardian covers the reality of Gitmo:

Guantánamo use of olive oil in force feedings ‘astonishing’, doctor tells court

  • Testimony on second day of court challenge to force feedings focuses on long-term health effects on detainees after procedure

The methods used by the US military to feed inmates in Guantánamo Bay against their will presents a long-term risk to their health, a federal court heard on Tuesday.

Steven Miles, a doctor and professor of medical ethics at the University of Minnesota, told a courtroom that lubricating the feeding tubes at Guantánamo, used on hunger-striking detainees, can cause a form of chronic inflammatory pneumonia, and questioned whether the force feeding was medically necessary.

The condition, resulting from olive oil reaching the lungs due to misplaced insertions, would be hard to detect by physicians for released or transferred detainees, as it might look on x-rays like tuberculosis or lung cancer, Miles testified, calling the olive oil lubrication “astonishing to me”.

“There’s simply no debate about this. All the medical literature I’ve found said the [lubrication] had to be water-soluble. One doesn’t have to make very many salads to know olive oil is not water soluble,” Miles said.

And Threatpost covers hacking at the money spot:

Tyupkin Malware Infects ATMs Worldwide

Criminals in Eastern Europe have evolved their attacks against automated teller machines, moving beyond solely targeting consumers with card skimmers that steal debit card numbers, to attacks against banks using malware that allows someone to remove money directly from an ATM without the need for a counterfeit or stolen card.

Researchers at Kaspersky Lab, in conjunction with Interpol, today said they have detected the Tyupkin malware on more than 50 machines; only ATMs from a particular manufacturer running a 32-bit version of Windows are impacted.

Most of the Tyupkin submissions to Virus Total are from Russia (20) with a limited number of samples (4) reported from the United States.

From Network World, hooking up:

Windows XP flaws help Russian ‘Qbot’ gang build 500,000 PC botnet

The Russian gang behind the obscure Qbot botnet have quietly built an impressive empire of 500,000 infected PCs by exploiting unpatched flaws in mainly US-based Windows XP and Windows 7 computers, researchers at security firm Proofpoint have discovered.

A year or two ago, what the Qbot (aka Qakbot) campaign has achieved in the roughly half dozen years the actors behind it have been operating would have been seen as a major concern. Recently, standards have gone up a notch.

These days Russian hackers are grabbing headlines for altogether more serious incursions such as the recently revealed attack on US bank JPMorgan Chase, and botnets sound like yesterday’s problem.

And then there’s spying of another sort, a Windows on your soul, perhaps. From TechWorm:

Microsoft’s Windows 10 has permission to watch your every move

As more and more users are jumping the queue to download the Windows 10 through the Windows Insider Program, almost all of them have forgotten to check the Privacy Policy and Terms and Conditions users accept while downloading the Windows 10.  If you study the privacy policy you will be startled at the amount of freedom you are giving Microsoft to spy on you.

“Microsoft collects information about you, your devices, applications and networks, and your use of those devices, applications and networks. Examples of data we collect include your name, email address, preferences and interests; browsing, search and file history; phone call and SMS data; device configuration and sensor data; and application usage.”

The above stuff may or may not be used against any user and forms the standard of any privacy policy by any Applications maker but study a bit further and you may get more and more surprised.  In a way by accepting the Windows 10 Technical Preview installation you are giving Microsoft unhindered access to your behavioural habits

“We may collect information about your device and applications and use it for purposes such as determining or improving compatibility” and “use voice input features like speech-to-text, we may collect voice information and use it for purposes such as improving speech processing.”

More of the same from DeepLinks:

Adobe Spyware Reveals (Again) the Price of DRM: Your Privacy and Security

The publishing world may finally be facing its “rootkit scandal.” Two independent reports claim that Adobe’s e-book software, “Digital Editions,” logs every document readers add to their local “library,” tracks what happens with those files, and then sends those logs back to the mother-ship, over the Internet, in the clear. In other words, Adobe is not only tracking your reading habits, it’s making it really, really easy for others to do so as well.

And it’s all being done in the name of copyright enforcement. After all, the great “promise” of Digital Editions is that it can help publishers “securely distribute” and manage access to books.  Libraries, for example, encourage their patrons to use the software, because it helps them comply with the restrictions publishers impose on electronic lending.

How big is the problem? Not completely clear, but it could be pretty big. First, it appears Adobe is tracking more than many readers may realize, including information about self-published and purchased books. If the independent reports are correct, Adobe may be scanning your entire electronic library. Borrowing a copy of Moby Dick from your public library shouldn’t be a license to scan your cookbook collection.

After the jump, more on those student murders in Mexico including eyewitness accounts, pressure on government, and Uncle Sam’s own ties to the killers, death squad target Colombia reporters, Raging artillery and an exodus on the Indo/Pakistani border and a ceasefire demand from New Delhi, a protest fizzle in Hong Kong, Japanese/American military plans move forward and China reacts, while an Abe aide hints government will nullify the Comfort Women apology, another official act of historical revisionism, and the foreign press reacts to a government refusal to disavow racists, a Stalinist admission from Pyongyang, and Seoul arrests a Japanese reporter for lèse majesté. . . Continue reading