And the deepening mystery of those missing Mexican college students, plus lots more. . .
We begin with the London Telegraph, and surely a wonderful thing — but in the hands of a police state, your worst nightmare:
Mind-reading device invented by scientists to eavesdrop on ‘inner voice’
- Scientists at the University of California were able to pick up several words that subjects thought using a new mind-reading device
It might seem the stuff of science fiction, but a mind-reading device is being developed by scientists which can eavesdrop on your inner-voice.
Reseachers at the University of California, Berkeley, have developed a machine and computer programme which converts brain activity into sounds and words.
Speech activates specific neurons as the brain works interpret the sounds as words. Each word activates a slightly different set of neurons.
Now scientists have started to develop an algorithm that can pick up the activity and translate it back into words in the hope it might help people who are unable to speak.
The war de jour from the Washington Post:
Airstrikes against the Islamic State have not affected flow of foreign fighters to Syria
More than 1,000 foreign fighters are streaming into Syria each month, a rate that has so far been unchanged by airstrikes against the Islamic State and efforts by other countries to stem the flow of departures, according to U.S. intelligence and counterterrorism officials.
The magnitude of the ongoing migration suggests that the U.S.-led air campaign has neither deterred significant numbers of militants from traveling to the region nor triggered a spike in the rate of travel among Muslim populations inflamed by American intervention.
“The flow of fighters making their way to Syria remains constant, so the overall number continues to rise,” a U.S. intelligence official said. U.S. officials cautioned, however, that there is a lag in the intelligence being examined by the CIA and other spy agencies, meaning it could be weeks before a change becomes apparent.
More from the Independent:
Isis in Iraq: Army’s triumph at Jurf Al-Sakhar lays bare the cost of defeating the militants
On Tuesday, hundreds of militiamen trundled out of Jurf al-Sakhar in trucks and buses, handing over control of the town and outlying villages and farms to Iraqi security forces. As flatbed trucks carrying field artillery waited to move out, Humvees and bomb disposal vehicles burned in streets that the insurgents had laced with explosives.
In the town centre, the smell of death lingered in the air. The Shia forces could not remain in the area, militia commanders said, as their presence would spark accusations of sectarian killings.
Already revenge attacks have been reported. As a convoy of trucks blaring religious music from loudspeakers drove out of the town, the men in the trucks were jovial and flashed peace signs, but the decaying body of an alleged insurgent was being dragged behind.
CBC News covers the recruiting ground:
In Tunisia, democracy triumphs but troubles remain
- Poster child for Arab democracy, Tunisia is also big source of recruits for ISIS
Today, Tunisia stands as the great Arab hope for democracy, the possible light in a region where the other Arab Spring countries have descended into civil war or military dictatorship.
Its parliamentary election this week — the second since the initial revolt — was notable for its transparency, and saw the more secular Nidaa Tounes party overtake the Islamist Ennahda party, which had been forced into a bi-partisan, unity government earlier in the year because of a long-running political crisis.
But with the swing of the democratic pendulum now comes the very real problems of governing.
“There are no jobs,” says Ayouni Nasreddine, an unemployed, 28-year-old university graduate who lives here. “That is why the revolution began in Sidi Bouzid. Many men are unemployed and have no money.”
And the Washington Post covers a domestic warning:
Pentagon security agency: Watch out for Islamic State attacks in the U.S.
Recent threats made against U.S. troops by the Islamic State call for vigilance, including varying routes to work, limiting social media activity and hiding Defense Department IDs while in public, according to a new warning from the agency that protects the Pentagon.
The warning was issued Oct. 24, and posted online by the Military Times newspaper chain Wednesday. It was issued by the Pentagon Force Protection Agency, a civilian-run organization in the Defense Department that is responsible for protecting occupants and visitors at the Pentagon and other facilities.
The Pentagon’s security warning referenced threats and recent attacks in Canada, Britain and France, and urges Department of Defense employees to exercise caution.
The latest drone strike from the Associated Press:
Drone strike kills 2 militants in NW Pakistan
Suspected U.S. drone-fired missiles struck a house early on Thursday in a restive tribal region in northwest Pakistan, killing two militants, officials said.
Two intelligence officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to media, said the missiles hit a house in Azam Warsak village in the South Waziristan tribal region.
The house, owned by a local tribesman, Ashraf Mahsud, was occupied by Arab militants affiliated with al-Qaida, the officials said but did not provide more details about those killed or the airstrike itself. Mahsud, who is known to be associated with Uzbek militants operating in other parts of the region, was not at the house at the time, the officials said.
According to one of the two officials, who is based in Wana, the main town of South Waziristan, most of the al-Qaida-linked foreign militants have left the tribal regions but some are still hiding in inaccessible pockets in the area.
From El País, citing the Bush doctrine in Spain:
Military court drops prosecution of soldiers who beat Iraqi prisoners
- Judges suggest inmates may not have been protected by Geneva Conventions
A military court has decided it will no longer pursue the prosecution of five soldiers who were under scrutiny for allegedly abusing two prisoners at the Spanish base in Diwaniya, Iraq in 2004.
The servicemen, who are all current or former members of the elite military unit known as La Legión, were facing between 10 and 25 years in prison if found guilty, according to the Military Penal Code.
The case came to light in March 2013 when EL PAÍS released video footage showing three soldiers kicking two defenseless men inside a cell, under the watchful eyes of three other soldiers.
The suspects were a captain who now works at the National Intelligence Center (CNI), two corporals – one of whom is still with La Legión and the other with the Civil Guard – and two Civil Guards who were legionnaires at the time.
In a surprising interpretation, the court states that the Geneva Conventions on the protection of prisoners of war “in no way extends to terrorists” and that the victims of this particular crime could, in fact, be “the three alleged terrorists” who were transferred to the Diwaniya base on January 27, 2004 and thought to be involved in the mortar attack against Tegucigalpa Base, a US installation in Iraq.
The idea that the Geneva Conventions do not apply to alleged terrorists is nothing new. The doctrine was applied by former US president George W. Bush to justify the detention center in Guantánamo (Cuba). The US administration considered detainees in Iraq and Afghanistan “illegal enemy combatants” rather than prisoners, thus denying them the rights encoded in the conventions.
CBC News covers a high profile hack:
White House cyberattack confirmed by National Security Council
- Officials declined to say who was suspected of launching attack
An attack by hackers on a White House computer network earlier this month was considered so sensitive that only a small group of senior congressional leaders were initially notified about it, U.S. officials said on Thursday.
The officials said the Democratic and Republican leaders of the Senate and the House of Representatives and the heads of the Senate and House Intelligence Committees, collectively known as the “Gang of Eight,” were told last week of the cyberattack, which had occurred several days earlier.
Security experts said this limited group would normally be informed about ultra-secret intelligence operations and notifying them of a computer breach in this way was unusual.
Bernadette Meehan, a spokeswoman for the National Security Council, said, “Consistent with sensitive intelligence matters, the director of the FBI notified congressional leadership and the chairs and ranking members of the intelligence committees.”
And from the Washington Post, a verdict:
Murky Pentagon contract to build silencers ends in guilty verdicts
A Navy intelligence official and a California hot-rod mechanic were found guilty Wednesday on federal conspiracy charges stemming from a mysterious scheme to manufacture hundreds of AK-47 rifle silencers for a secret military project.
Lee M. Hall, a civilian Navy intelligence official at the Pentagon, and Mark S. Landersman, the mechanic, were convicted of conspiring to build 349 untraceable silencers — without a firearms license — and shipping them across state lines for a sensitive mission that was never fully explained in court.
U.S. District Judge Leonie M. Brinkema, who delivered the verdicts after bench trials in Alexandria, said she was unconvinced by defense attorneys’ assertions that the silencers were needed for a clandestine purpose and were necessarily obtained outside of normal channels.
Another drone story from Deutsche Welle:
France investigates mystery drones over nuclear plants
France has launched an investigation into unidentified drones spotted over several of its nuclear plants. The incident has reignited the debate about nuclear safety.
Unidentified drones seen over several of France’s nuclear reactors in recent weeks prompted the French government to launch an investigation on Thursday.
“Measures are being taken to know what these drones are and neutralize them,” French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve told France Info Radio.
According to the state electricity company EDF, the unmanned aircraft were spotted over seven nuclear plants across the country between October 5th and October 20th, without any impact on the plants’ safety or functioning.
It is not known who was behind the mysterious flights. Aircraft are not permitted to fly within a 5-kilometer (3-mile) radius and an altitude of 1,000 meters (3,280 feet) over nuclear plants.
Aspirational from Jiji Press:
U.N. Panel Adopts Japan-Led Resolution on Nuclear Abolition
The U.N. General Assembly’s First Committee on Wednesday adopted a Japanese-led resolution confirming U.N. member states’ “determination” to take “united action” for the elimination of all nuclear weapons.
The U.N. panel on disarmament approved the resolution by a vote of 163 to one, with 14 abstentions. Among the proponents were the United States, Britain and France, while such nations as Russia, China, India and Pakistan abstained. The only dissident was North Korea.
The First Committee adopted such a resolution for the 21st straight year. A record 116 countries, including Japan, the United States and Britain, jointly sponsored the latest resolution, Japanese officials said.
Panopticon on the march from Al Jazeera America:
With FBI biometric database, ‘what happens in Vegas doesn’t stay in Vegas’
- Agency officials defend police militarization and urge cops to adopt sophisticated technology to help identify suspects
The FBI has invested considerable energy in recent months in marketing a massive new biometric database to local cops, whom the agency will rely on to help feed it billions of fingerprints, palm prints, mug shots, iris scans and images of scars, tattoos and other identifiers.
But it took senior FBI consultant Peter Fagan just nine words this week to capture the ambitious scope of the agency’s aims with the new system, which is gradually replacing traditional fingerprint identification with facial recognition and other biometric identifier technology.
“What happens in Vegas doesn’t stay in Vegas anymore,” Fagan told a roomful of police executives at the annual International Association of Chiefs of Police Conference in Orlando on Tuesday.
He said that reaching the FBI’s goal of better tracking criminal suspects from town to town depends on local cops’ ability to adopt increasingly sophisticated new technologies and to share their data with federal law enforcement. He urged police to begin to “pack the record[s]” by collecting as many high-quality biometric identifiers from arrested criminal suspects as possible.
And the National Journal covers the QT:
The FBI’s Secret House Meeting to Get Access to Your iPhone
- The administration argues that encryption is making it difficult for police to catch dangerous criminals
The Obama administration is ramping up its campaign to force technology companies to help the government spy on their users.
FBI and Justice Department officials met with House staffers this week for a classified briefing on how encryption is hurting police investigations, according to staffers familiar with the meeting.
The briefing included Democratic and Republican aides for the House Judiciary and Intelligence Committees, the staffers said. The meeting was held in a classified room, and aides are forbidden from revealing what was discussed.
It’s unclear whether the FBI is planning a similar briefing for Senate aides.
From the Intercept, imagine that!:
Secret Manuals Show the Spyware Sold to Despots and Cops Worldwide
When Apple and Google unveiled new encryption schemes last month, law enforcement officials complained that they wouldn’t be able to unlock evidence on criminals’ digital devices. What they didn’t say is that there are already methods to bypass encryption, thanks to off-the-shelf digital implants readily available to the smallest national agencies and the largest city police forces — easy-to-use software that takes over and monitors digital devices in real time, according to documents obtained by The Intercept.
We’re publishing in full, for the first time, manuals explaining the prominent commercial implant software “Remote Control System,” manufactured by the Italian company Hacking Team. Despite FBI director James Comey’s dire warnings about the impact of widespread data scrambling — “criminals and terrorists would like nothing more,” he declared — Hacking Team explicitly promises on its website that its software can “defeat encryption.”
The manuals describe Hacking Team’s software for government technicians and analysts, showing how it can activate cameras, exfiltrate emails, record Skype calls, log typing, and collect passwords on targeted devices. They also catalog a range of pre-bottled techniques for infecting those devices using wifi networks, USB sticks, streaming video, and email attachments to deliver viral installers. With a few clicks of a mouse, even a lightly trained technician can build a software agent that can infect and monitor a device, then upload captured data at unobtrusive times using a stealthy network of proxy servers, all without leaving a trace. That, at least, is what Hacking Team’s manuals claim as the company tries to distinguish its offerings in the global marketplace for government hacking software.
And they’re surprised? Via the Washington Post:
After the Department of Homeland Security canceled a plan for broad law enforcement access to a national license-plate tracking system in February, officials established a policy that required similar plans be vetted by department privacy officers to ensure they do not violate Americans’ civil liberties.
Two months later, however, officials with DHS’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency bypassed the privacy office in purchasing a one-year subscription for a commercially run national database for its Newark field office, according to public contract data and department officials. In June, ICE breached the policy again by approving a similar subscription for its Houston field office. The database contains more than 2.5 billion records.
The policy was created after Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, who oversees ICE, canceled a solicitation that could have given ICE field offices across the country — more than 12,000 personnel — access to a national license-plate database.
From CNN, down and in:
Undercover sting: FBI agents posed as Internet repairmen
In sting operation last July, undercover FBI agents gained access to a hotel suite by disabling the hotel’s Internet, and then posing as Internet repair technicians.
Now one of the suspects who was charged in the sting is crying foul.
At Caesar’s Palace, a casino hotel on the Strip in Las Vegas, FBI agents deliberately cut off the Internet for a suite used by Paul Phua, a high-stakes gambler. Then, they showed up at the suite and made a bogus service call.
On their undercover video, you can hear the imposters asking their targets what the trouble is.
BuzzFeed covers dismay:
Senator Leahy Criticizes FBI For Creating Fake News Story
The letter comes after agents created a fake Associated Press article to nab a suspected school bomber in Seattle in 2007. This is the latest in a series of incidents in which cops have been criticized for pretending to be someone else.
Senator Patrick Leahy isn’t happy with feds pretending to be journalists online — even if they are going after dangerous suspects.
On Thursday, the Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee sent a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder asking him to review “all techniques involving federal law enforcement officials impersonating others without their consent.”
Leahy’s letter comes just days after the American Civil Liberties Union revealed that agents with the Federal Bureau of Investigation created a fake Associated Press article, as part of a 2007 operation to catch a potential school bomber.
After the jump, a Ferguson hack, and a massive hack of industrial vulnerabilities, malware in your magazine, credit card data theft refined, on to Mexico and those missing students starting with a violent protest at a gubernatorial manse, a presidential meeting fail, a mayoral resignation, global attention, and a parallel protest in Washington, violent dissent in Burkina Faso, an ominous declaration from Beijing, island-building by China and Vietnam in disputed waters, a Korean court hits a Japanese corporation with wartime reparations, and a French crackdown on creepy clowns. . . Continue reading