Onward, first with the single greatest global security threat from Al Jazeera America:
Global inequality is a rising concern for elites
- The worldwide wealth gap is the World Economic Forum’s trend to watch for 2015
Income inequality is now the number one global concern, according to the World Economic Forum (WEF) — an assessment supported by research suggesting even economic elites now fret over the impact on society of the growing wealth divide.
In an annual WEF report released last week, United Nations adviser Amina Mohamed warns that income inequality can have pervasive social and political consequences. The deepening gap between rich and poor, she writes, “reduces the sustainability of economic growth [and] weakens social cohesion and security.”
That perceived threat to social stability may be why income inequality has steadily climbed the WEF’s list of priorities with each new edition of it annual economic assessment. In its 2011 report, the WEF listed inequality as “the most underestimated” global trend. By last year’s edition, it had climbed to second place.
Al-Monitor covers hands across the divide:
Iraqi Shiites join Sunnis to fight Islamic State
Shiite authorities have assumed a prominent role in calming the situation and preventing their followers from having violent reactions that may have dire consequences. Iraq’s prominent Shiite cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, along with his spokesmen, has repeatedly said, “Sunnis are ourselves, not only our brothers.” Grand Ayatollah Sayyid Hussein Ismail al-Sadr regularly receives Sunni tribesmen and clerics from different parts of Iraq, an important step in the prevention of sectarian conflict between Sunnis and Shiites.
IS did not only target Shiites to drag them into attacking Sunnis, but also suppressed moderate Sunnis to rid the internal front from moderate perspectives and from those who coexist with Shiites. The group deals severely with Sunni tribes that preserve or seek to preserve good ties with Shiites. The Oct. 20 execution of several members of the Bou Nemr tribe in Anbar province is a prominent example. The group has killed 238 men from the tribe and a mass grave of 250 tribesmen was recently found.
These actions have resulted in adverse reactions that were not the group’s objective. The Sunnis sought help from the Shiites to get rid of the group. In an interview with Al-Hurra on Oct. 29, Bou Nemr leader and parliament member Ghazi al-Gaood called on Shiite leaders, particularly Muqtada al-Sadr and the head of the Badr Organization, Hadi Al-Amiri, to oppose the destruction of his tribe by this group. He said they were facing a genocide at the hands of a barbaric group that had no religious, moral or humane principles, and therefore they welcomed any force that could assist them, even if this meant resorting to help from Israel.
Ignorance, intentional or otherwise, via the Guardian:
Libyan former CIA detainees say US torture inquiry never interviewed them
US government preparing to defend its record on torture before UN panel, but fresh accusation reopens controversy over 2012 decision by prosecutor not to bring charges against anyone involved in CIA abuse
As the US government prepares to defend its record on torture before a United Nations panel, five Libyan men once held without charge by the CIA say the main criminal investigation into allegations of detainee abuse never even interviewed them.
The Libyans’ accusation reopens controversy over the 2012 pre-election decision by the prosecutor in the case not to bring charges against anyone involved in CIA abuse – an episode the US State Department has held up as an example of its diligence in complying with international torture obligations.
On Wednesday, a United Nations committee in Geneva is scheduled to hear a US delegation outline recent measures Washington has taken to combat torture. It will be the first update the US has provided to the committee since 2006, when the CIA still operated its off-the-books “black site” prisons. Human rights campaigners who have seen the Obama administration repeatedly decline to deliver justice for US torture victims consider it a belated chance at ending what they consider to be impunity.
Among the committee’s requested submissions, issued in 2010, is a description of steps the US has taken to ensure torture claims against it are “promptly, impartially and thoroughly investigated”. The committee specifically asked for a status update about the Justice Department’s since-concluded torture inquiry.
From the Intercept, inquiring minds want to know:
What Happened to the Humanitarians Who Wanted to Save Libyans With Bombs and Drones?
Almost without exception, war advocates justified NATO’s military action in Libya on the ground that it was driven not primarily by strategic or resource objectives but by altruism. The New York Times’ Nicholas Kristof wrote: “Libya is a reminder that sometimes it is possible to use military tools to advance humanitarian causes.” Former Obama official Anne-Marie Slaughter argued that intervention was a matter of upholding “universal values,” which itself advanced America’s strategic goals. In justifying the war to Americans (more than a week after it started), President Obama decreed: “Some nations may be able to turn a blind eye to atrocities in other countries. The United States of America is different.”
But “turning a blind eye” to the ongoing – and now far worse – atrocities in Libya is exactly what the U.S., its war allies, and most of the humanitarian war advocates are now doing. Indeed, after the bombing stopped, war proponents maintained interest in the Libyan people just long enough to boast of their great prescience and to insist on their vindication. Slaughter took her grand victory lap in a Financial Times op-ed headlined “Why Libya sceptics were proved badly wrong,” Dismissing those who were telling her that “it is too early to tell” and that “in a year, or a decade, Libya could disintegrate into tribal conflict or Islamist insurgency, or split apart or lurch from one strongman to another,” she insisted that nothing could possibly be worse than letting Gaddafi remain in power. Thus: “Libya proves the west can make those choices wisely after all.”
Kristof similarly took his moment in the sun to celebrate his own rightness, visiting Tripoli in August and then announcing that Americans were regarded by grateful Libyans as heroes. While carefully larding up his column with all sorts of caveats about how things could still go terribly wrong, he nonetheless trumpeted that “this was a rare military intervention for humanitarian reasons, and it has succeeded” and that “on rare occasions military force can advance human rights. Libya has so far been a model of such an intervention.” When Gaddafi’s defeat was imminent, the White-House-supporting Think Progress blog exploited the resulting emotions (exactly as the GOP did when Saddam was captured) to taunt the Republicans: “Does John Boehner still believe U.S. military operations in Libya are illegal?” – as though killing Gaddafi somehow excused the waging of this war in the face of Congressional rejection of its authorization, let alone guaranteed a better outcome for Libyans.
Speaking of Libya. . .via BBC News:
Libya violence: Activists beheaded in Derna
Three young activists have been found beheaded in Derna, in eastern Libya.
The three, who had relayed information about the city through social media, had been kidnapped earlier this month.
Several Islamist groups are competing for control of the city, with some militants recently declaring allegiance to Islamic State.
Libya has been in a state of flux since Col Gaddafi was overthrown in 2011, with disparate tribes, militias and political factions fighting for power.
The Guardian covers a curious decision:
UK drops security claim blocking Pakistani’s lawsuit over ‘torture’
Government abandons argument that UK-US intelligence ties preclude letting Yunus Rahmatullah sue for damages
The UK government has abandoned its long-standing claim that relations with Washington would suffer if a Pakistani citizen who claims he was tortured by British and American troops was allowed to sue for damages in court.
Yunus Rahmatullah says he was tortured over a 10-year period after being captured by British special forces in Iraq and handed over to US troops in 2004. He was released by the US without charge in May.
The British government made the concession as a former American ambassador roundly dismissed the government’s case.
From the Express Tribune, an all-too-familiar story in Pakistan:
Drone strike kills six in North Waziristan
At least six suspected militants were killed, and three others were injured in a US drone attack in the Datta Khel area of North Waziristan on Tuesday evening.
Initial reports suggest that the drone fired two missiles on a vehicle and a residential compound. As a result of the strikes, the vehicle and a portion of a house were destroyed.
The identities of the killed have not been ascertained as yet, but local tribesmen claim that the killed were local and foreign militants.
Pakistan routinely protests against US drone strikes, which have been targeting militants in the tribal areas since 2004, saying they violate its sovereignty and are counterproductive in the fight against terror.
But most analysts believe the resumption of the drone programme after it was suspended at the start of the year — reportedly to give Pakistan space for negotiations with the Taliban — is evidence of collusion between the two countries.
Fearing Bombs That Can Pick Whom to Kill
Warfare is increasingly guided by software. Today, armed drones can be operated by remote pilots peering into video screens thousands of miles from the battlefield. But now, some scientists say, arms makers have crossed into troubling territory: They are developing weapons that rely on artificial intelligence, not human instruction, to decide what to target and whom to kill.
As these weapons become smarter and nimbler, critics fear they will become increasingly difficult for humans to control — or to defend against. And while pinpoint accuracy could save civilian lives, critics fear weapons without human oversight could make war more likely, as easy as flipping a switch.
Britain, Israel and Norway are already deploying missiles and drones that carry out attacks against enemy radar, tanks or ships without direct human control. After launch, so-called autonomous weapons rely on artificial intelligence and sensors to select targets and to initiate an attack.
Cold War 2.0, via TheLocal.no:
Russian super-jets seen flying near Norway
Photo evidence of a new Russian fighter jet caught flying just outside Finnmark in North Norway were released by Norwegian security forces on Tuesday.
The images were taken by Norwegian air defence personnel at the end of October, but capture the might of the new aircraft technology Russian has at its disposal and threat to security posed by the re-emerging superpower state.
The images showed two of the new Russian Su-34 fighter jets, never before been seen flying in and around North Europe. The series of pictures were taken on October 29th this year, outside the coast of Finnmark, reported VG.
UK report warns about sexual entrapment by foreign spies
A leaked report issued by military authorities in the United Kingdom cautions British officials to be aware of attempts by Chinese and Russian intelligence services to compromise them using sexual entrapment.
The London-based Sunday Times newspaper said it had acquired a copy of the document, entitled Manual of Security, authored by the United Kingdom’s Ministry of Defence for use by senior officials. The manual warns that foreign intelligence services are known to employ sexual entrapment or romantic attachment as a means of compromising their targets.
The document singles out the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) and the Chinese Ministry of State Security as two adversary agencies that are known to employ sexual entrapment on a regular basis.
From the Intercept, dirty deeds scrutinized:
EU Scrutinizes Spyware Exports To Sketchy Regimes
The European Union will start paying closer attention to sales of invasive surveillance software, which has previously flowed from European companies to countries with questionable human rights records.
Under new EU rules issued recently, certain kinds of monitoring software will require a license to export. Those license applications would provide more transparency about where the software is going, and could potentially allow governments to block unsavory sales.
As The Intercept has reported, companies like Milan-based Hacking Team or FinFisher, of Munich, sell to countries where authorities appear to have used the software to spy on dissidents and the press. Hacking Team implants have been discovered on the devices of Moroccan and Ethiopian journalists, while leaked FinFisher documents showed that activists and political opposition members in Bahrain had been targeted.
German hacking the official sort, via RT:
German intelligence to monitor overseas social networks
Germany’s foreign intelligence agency plans to spend hundreds of millions of euros on surveillance technology designed to monitor foreign social networks, local media reported, citing a confidential document.
The Federal Intelligence Service (BND) will spend €28 million, in 2015 alone, on its Strategic Technical Initiative (SIT), the Sueddeutsche Zeitung newspaper reported.
According to a confidential report seen by the newspaper, the agency asked the Bundestag’s Budget Committee for a total of €300 million ($375 million) for the SIT program between 2015 and 2020.
The BND plans to set up an early warning system for cyber attacks, the report said.
The Diplomat covers cyberspooks:
Cyber Espionage and US-China Relations
Cyber issues are increasingly at the forefront of the U.S.-China relationship. The Obama administration places great emphasis on stopping cyber attacks on U.S. commercial interests while China decries the cyber espionage revealed in the Edward Snowden leaks. Dr. James Lewis, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, joins The Diplomat to talk about China’s (and America’s) cyber espionage activities, policy options for Washington, and what progress has been made so far.
From Nextgov, a win:
Federal Judge Says Public Has a Right to Know About FBI’s Facial Recognition Database
A federal judge has ruled that the FBI’s futuristic facial-recognition database is deserving of scrutiny from open-government advocates because of the size and scope of the surveillance technology.
U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan said the bureau’s Next Generation Identification program represents a “significant public interest” due to concerns regarding its potential impact on privacy rights and should be subject to rigorous transparency oversight.
“There can be little dispute that the general public has a genuine, tangible interest in a system designed to store and manipulate significant quantities of its own biometric data, particularly given the great numbers of people from whom such data will be gathered,” Chutkan wrote in an opinion released late Wednesday.
After the jump, Flash vulnerabilities redux, a South Korean hacker’s confession, seeking goose sauce for the hacked gander, malware downloads for your iPhone, NGOs and rights activists targeted by malware, the ongoing corrupt police assets seizure regime, more protests in Mexico over those slaughtered students, killer cops in Brazil, a provocative Russian nuclear move in Iran, on to Hong Kong, first with a greenlight for cops to clear away Occupy protesters [who are preparing to surrender] and an Obama denial, China strengthens its economic alliance, mixed signals between Washington and Beijing, China wows with a new stealth fighter as it seeks a greater Afghan role, and Japan asks for a hotline with Beijing, plus the new LGBT/African American/Jewish friendly Klan. . . Continue reading