Category Archives: Geopolitics

InSecurityWatch: War, hacks, drones, threats


We begin by droning on with RT:

Spy with it & Kill with it: New drone era undermines privacy & security concepts

Program notes:

Drone technology has become so accessible these days that some people have resorted to making their own remote-controlled machines and are having fun with it.

Another drone, another casualty, via United Press International:

Important al-Qaida member Umar Farooq believed dead after drone strike in Pakistan

  • At least five people were killed in the suspected U.S. drone strike

A drone strike was reported in the North Waziristan region of Pakistan on Sunday, and it is believed an important al-Qaida member was killed.

The strike was aimed at a hideout for soldiers in the village of Khara Tanga, according to local media, and two missiles killed at least five and injured at least two.

Pakistani intelligence officials have informed CNN Umar Farooq was killed, who has been an al Qaeda spokesman and was believed to be an integral leader in the group, possibly running al Qaeda’s operations in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

The U.S. military has claimed no drone strikes occurred in Pakistan on Sunday.

An interesting claim, via the Guardian:

Israeli jets bomb Syria, says Damascus

  • Syrian state TV claims Israel has bombed two installations, one near Damascus and one near the Lebanese border

Syria accused Israeli jets of bombing two installations inside the country on Sunday, one near the capital, Damascus, and the second in a town near the Lebanese border.

The report by Syrian state television described the attack as “an aggression”. It said the air raids occurred near Damascus’s international airport and in the town of Dimas.

The state news agency Sana said: “The Israeli enemy attacked Syria by targeting two safe areas in Damascus province, namely the Dimas area and the area of Damascus international airport.” It said no casualties were reported.

There was no immediate comment from Israeli officials.

The Guardian again, with a handover:

US military hands over senior Taliban commander to Pakistan

  • Latif Mehsud among three detainees transferred to Pakistan
  • Move highlights improving relations between US, Pakistan and Afghanistan

The US military in Afghanistan says it has handed over three Pakistani detainees to Islamabad, including one who Pakistan intelligence officers say is a senior Taliban commander.

The US did not name the prisoners but two Pakistani intelligence officials say Latif Mehsud was among them. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.

The US said in a statement Sunday that the transfer happened Saturday.

CBC News covers Canadian incitement:

John Maguire, Ottawa man fighting for ISIS, urges attacks on Canadian targets in video

  • Identified as Abu Anwar al-Canadi, Maguire calls for lone-wolf attacks

ISIS has released a video featuring an Ottawa man calling on his fellow Muslim countrymen to carry out lone-wolf attacks on Canadian targets.

John Maguire, who was already reportedly under investigation by the RCMP after travelling to Syria to join ISIS as a foreign fighter in January 2013, appears in the slickly produced six-minute, 13-second video. The 23-year-old is identified in the video as Abu Anwar al-Canadi and speaks in English.

Standing in the ruins of an unidentified area, Abu Anwar warns Canadians that the country’s participation in the U.S.-led coalition fighting the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria group will lead to revenge attacks.

Another lone wolf via the Guardian:

Dubai stabbing suspect inspired by ‘terrorist ideology’ found on the internet

  • Crimes are ‘the result of a personal instigation and a lone terrorist act’
  • Investigation shows woman planned to attack a foreigner at random

A United Arab Emirates woman who killed an American teacher was inspired by “terrorist ideology” acquired through the internet but investigators have found no links to militant groups, a state news agency reported on Sunday.

Attacks on westerners are rare in the UAE, a wealthy western-allied oil exporter and tourism hub, but concern has been rising following a spate of attacks in neighbouring Saudi Arabia and after a warning in October about a jihadist web forum calling for attacks on American teachers in the region.

Police on Thursday said they had arrested the UAE national last week after the kindergarten teacher, identified as Romanian-born Ibolya Ryan, a mother of 11-year-old twins, was stabbed and killed in a toilet at an Abu Dhabi shopping mall.

The unidentified woman also placed a makeshift bomb outside the front door of an apartment of an Egyptian-American doctor living in the UAE less than two hours after Monday’s killing, police said, adding that the bomb was safely dismantled.

And the Guardian again, with allegations:

Britain accused of complicity in Kenyan death squad terrorism suspect killings

  • Kenyan intelligence members also claim they receive training and intelligence from Britain’s military and officials

Britain is facing fresh allegations of complicity in the executions of terrorism suspects carried out by Kenyan death squads.

The claims come from members of Kenyan intelligence and special police units who say they carry out extrajudicial killings. They also say they have received training and intelligence from Britain’s military and other officials as part of their fight against terrorists.

The members of the so-called death squads are speaking out not as whistleblowers because they believe the killings are wrong, but because they believe Kenya faces little choice as it faces a vicious Islamist insurgency.

The claims come in an al-Jazeera investigation programme to be broadcast on Monday.

Sky News covers insecurity in Athens:

Hundreds Of Anarchists Held After Greek Riots

Police arrests nearly 300 people after a night of violent protests to mark the anniversary of the police shooting of a teenager.

Greek police have rounded up 296 anarchists in connection with violent riots that ripped through the Greek capital and five other cities across the country overnight.

The violence – among the worst witnessed in years – erupted from what initially looked like a peaceful protest march marking the sixth anniversary of the fatal police shooting of an unarmed teenager, Alexandros Grigoropoulos.

Black-clad anarchists penetrated the march, launching attacks against riot police and going on a rampage in the centre of Athens.

From the Guardian, an overseer:

Watchdog named for Australia’s new national security laws

  • Former judge Roger Gyles to fill the vacant role of independent national security legislation monitor, with his first task examining whether the laws with impact on journalists

A former judge with more than three decades’ legal experience has been named Australia’s new watchdog for national security legislation.

Roger Gyles will fill the vacant role of independent national security legislation monitor and begin examining the federal government’s new counter-terrorism legislation as soon as possible.

His first task will be to examine whether the first suite of laws – introduced in response to the rise of Islamic State in Iraq and Syria – will impact on journalists.

Pyongyang plays cute with the hack of the year, via the Japan Times:

North Korea denies ‘righteous’ hack of Sony but hints at ‘supporters’

North Korea denied involvement Sunday in the cyberattack on Sony Pictures Entertainment, but praised it as a “righteous deed” potentially carried out by its supporters to protest a film featuring its leader Kim Jong Un.

“The hacking into the Sony Pictures might be a righteous deed of the supporters and sympathizers with the (North) in response to its appeal,” the North’s top military body, the National Defense Commission, told the state-run KCNA news agency.

“The Interview” — a comedy by Sony involving a fictional CIA plot to assassinate Kim — has infuriated Pyongyang, which has warned of “merciless retaliation”.

The NDC slammed Sony for producing the film and “abetting a terrorist act while hurting the dignity of the supreme leadership of the (North).”

On to Hong Kong as the Occupy eviction draws closer, via South China Morning Post:

CY Leung says authorities ready for ‘furious resistance’ ahead of Occupy clear-out

Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying warned yesterday that “furious resistance” is expected from some protesters in the Admiralty Occupy camp when police help bailiffs execute a court order to clear part of the protest site.

He also rejected a student leader’s call to restart the political reform process, saying it would effectively mean overturning Beijing’s controversial framework for the 2017 election. But Joshua Wong Chi-fung, convenor of the student group Scholarism, insisted such a move would not violate the Basic Law.

A police source said the exact date for executing the injunction order and whether officers would clear areas not covered by the order are to be decided tomorrow in a joint meeting with the plaintiff and bailiffs, though it could take place as early as Wednesday.

Police recently estimated that the number of protesters remaining in Admiralty between 8am and 9am was just over 100. The source said 1,000 to 2,000 officers would be deployed to clear the site during the bailiffs’ working hours between 9am and 5pm.

Insular legality from Want China Times:

Retired PLA general urges soldiers to study international law

The scenario of a Chinese takeover of disputed islands in the East and South China seas was discussed in a new book written by retired Chinese general Zhu Wenquan, the former commander of the People’s Liberation Army’s Nanjing Military Region, according to our Chinese-language sister paper Want Daily.

Facing rising tensions with Japan, Vietnam and the Philippines, China needs to establish new strategies to successfully pull off a takeover, Zhu writes in The Theory of Island Warfare. He also said China’s military must know its enemy well before the outbreak of conflict, a common trope taken from the ancient Chinese military handbook The Art of War.

Zhu said China must change its traditional strategic thinking which favors fighting on the ground. He believes that it is time for China to establish an advanced information integration platform. This will improve the coordination between the PLA air and naval forces in battle. The retired general said that it is very important for landing forces to become familiar with the location of any amphibious assault it plans to launch.

And Global Times covers culture war:

China releases online videos documenting Nanjing Massacre

China’s State Archives Administration (SAA) released a 10 minute video on its website on Sunday documenting the Nanjing Massacre.

The video, which includes residents’ diaries and photos taken by foreign residents at the time, is the first of a seven-part video series scheduled to be released one per day. Sunday’s video also features photos taken by invading Japanese troops at the time.

The archives are valuable documents revealing Japanese troops’ crimes against humanity, which urge the world to permanently end anti-human atrocities, an accompanying statement said.

And it’s not just video, as CCTV America reports:

World’s first encyclopaedia on Nanjing massacre released

Program notes:

China will mark its first National Memorial Day for Nanjing Massacre Victims on Dec.13. China’s State Archives Administration is releasing a series of seven-part videos one per day documenting the Nanjing Massacre from Dec.7 to to Dec.13.

More Chinese perspective from Global Times:

Abe’s denial of history panders to ultra-right

The issue of “comfort women” has caused quite a stir within Japan. In early August, the Asahi Shimbun, one of Japan’s biggest left-leaning newspapers, made a public statement that its past reports on “comfort women” were based on false testimony by Seiji Yoshida. Therefore, the paper retracted the articles and apologized publicly. Inevitably, it has encountered fierce attacks by other Japanese media outlets and right-wing groups. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has also denounced this newspaper on many occasions.

In October, Japan required the amendment of a 1996 UN special rapporteur’s report on “comfort women.” This report described “comfort women” forced into prostitution in wartime Japanese military brothels as “sex slaves” and called on the Japanese government to apologize and pay compensation to victims. The Abe administration claimed part of the content was “false” and asked author Radhika Coomaraswamy to revoke it. But the request was denied.

It is Abe’s attitude toward the “comfort women” issue that has decided Tokyo’s frequent maneuvers in recent months. Abe believes the reports based on testimony by Yoshida solicited undue criticism from the rest of the world and therefore Japan must rehabilitate its reputation. To this end, he even tabled a plan to review the 1993 Kono Statement though he said previously he would not deny the landmark apology for sexual slavery before and during WWII.

And in Japan, insularity from Kyodo News:

Overseas experience viewed as negative for handling state secrets

The Cabinet Intelligence and Research Office warned government offices before a state secrecy law takes effect on Wednesday that people who have studied or worked abroad have a higher risk of leaking state secrets, government documents obtained by Kyodo News showed Sunday.

According to the 2011 documents released upon request by Kyodo News, the office of the Cabinet Secretariat, which supervises the controversial law to toughen penalties on leakers of state secrets, pointed to the need to check educational and employment records in examining which public servants are deemed eligible to handle sensitive information.

Under the secrecy law, which was enacted in December last year, civil servants and others who leak sensitive information on foreign policy, defense, counterterrorism and counterespionage face up to 10 years in prison.

To close, Furry terrorism? From the Guardian:

Furries convention interrupted by chlorine gas that sickens 19 people

  • Annual ‘Anthrocon’, where many attendees dress in costume to celebrate anthropomorphic animals, is evacuated as police suspect foul play

Chlorine gas sickened several people and forced the evacuation of thousands of guests from a suburban Chicago hotel early Sunday, including many dressed in cartoonish animal costumes for an annual furries convention who were ushered across the street to a convention center that was hosting a dog show.

Nineteen people who became nauseous or dizzy were treated at local hospitals, and at least 18 were released shortly thereafter.

The source of the gas was apparently chlorine powder left in a ninth-floor stairwell at the Hyatt Regency O’Hare, according to the Rosemont public safety department. Investigators believe the gas was created intentionally and are treating it as a criminal matter.

InSecurityWatch: Cops, spooks, hacks, war


And more. . .

First, resistance continues, via the New York Times:

Protests Continue in New York City on Friday

Protests continued for a third night in New York City over a grand jury’s decision this week not to indict a white police officer in the death of an unarmed black man on Staten Island in July.

Demonstrators gathered in Union Square, Columbus Circle and Rockefeller Center on Friday, with hundreds flooding the Apple store on Fifth Avenue, Macy’s in Herald Square and Grand Central Terminal.

Thousands of people across the country have protested since Wednesday, when a grand jury announced that it would not indict Officer Daniel Pantaleo, 29, over his fatal encounter with Eric Garner, 43. Mr. Garner was allegedly selling loose cigarettes on a sidewalk when he was put into a forbidden chokehold by the officer, after resisting arrest.

The protesters in New York came out despite chilly temperatures and a drizzling rain that was expected to continue on and off through the night. The demonstrations have largely been peaceful, though the police late Friday arrested some people who marched on the Franklin D. Roosevelt Drive.

And a California city that just beat back a Chevron-funded bid to control the city council takes a significant step, via the Oakland Tribune:

Richmond police receive body cameras, will be on every officer in 2015

Police body cameras have become an issue du jour in the wake of Ferguson and other controversies involving use of force by law enforcement, but Richmond’s Police Department first moved in that direction with a pilot program more than a year ago.

Police officials received a shipment of 120 body cameras this week, paid for by a U.S. Department of Justice grant, and police leaders expect to have all officers in the field outfitted with them by mid-January. The City Council approved the purchase in October.

“We are already thinking that more employees beyond sworn personnel may wear them in the future,” said Capt. Mark Gagan.

The FirstVu evidentiary cameras and support equipment, provided by Kansas-based Digital Ally, are the size of a matchbook and will be worn on officers’ lapels with a power source held in the breast pocket. Footage immediately transmits to a remote server and stores in the cloud, with no chance for modification or editing, Gagan said.

From BuzzFeed, the shame of a nation, Ohio style:

Cleveland Police Pistol-Whipped Suspects, Punched Juveniles, And Pepper-Sprayed Mentally Ill People

  • Inside the Justice Department’s shocking and appalling report on the Cleveland Police.

A one-year investigation by the Justice Department into the Cleveland Police Department found off-duty officers pistol-whipped suspects, assaulted a juvenile in the back of a squad car, abused the mentally ill, were reckless with Tasers, and fired their weapons when they didn’t have to.

Attorney General Eric Holder announced at a press conference this week that the investigation revealed a pattern of excessive force, reckless behavior, and poor training and accountability policies within the department.

The violations are so egregious that the CDP will now face government intervention mandating reform. The CDP is already in the midst of an investigation into the fatal shooting of 12-year-old Tamir Rice by Cleveland police.

From BBC News, a national rebuke:

Eric Garner death: UN fears over no-charge jury decisions

UN human rights experts have expressed “legitimate concerns” about US juries failing to charge policemen involved in the deaths of two black civilians.

It is part of a broader “pattern of impunity” concerning minority victims, the UN said in a statement.

Thousands of people have taken to the streets in protest over the deaths of two black men at the hands of white officers in recent months.

Grand juries in Missouri and New York failed to charge either officer.

“I am concerned by the grand juries’ decisions and the apparent conflicting evidence that exists relating to both incidents,” UN Special Rapporteur on minority issues, Rita Izsak, said in a statement.

The Christian Science Monitor raises a question of semantics:

US ‘terrorism?’ What’s not being said about Kansas City, Austin attacks.

  • The adoption of slogans like the ‘war on terrorism’ since Al Qaeda’s attacks on 9/11 was supposed to be about the tactic, not about the underlying beliefs of the attacker

Yesterday, a man in an SUV who’d been making online and in-person threats against the Muslim community ran down and killed a 15-year-old boy getting into the family car outside a mosque in Kansas City, Mo. At the end of last month a man with ties to extremist Christian groups and opposed to immigration fired more than 100 rounds at various targets in Austin, Texas, including the police headquarters, the federal courthouse, and the Mexican consulate, before he was killed.

In neither case has the word “terrorism” featured prominently in the coverage of the attack. And, if the US press and politicians stay true to what’s become the accepted framing for homegrown “terrorism,” it’s unlikely to appear much going forward.

The adoption of slogans like the “war on terrorism” since Al Qaeda’s attacks on New York and Washington in 2001 was supposed to be about the tactic, not about the underlying beliefs of the attacker. But in practice, terrorism carried out by Muslims is portrayed as far scarier, a far greater danger, than similar violent acts carried out by adherents of other faiths.

From the Intercept, oh, golly whillikers!:

White House Getting Cold Feet Over Exposing CIA’s Torture Secrets

After seven months of promising to release a report exposing CIA torture of terror suspects, the Obama administration Friday reportedly sent Secretary of State John Kerry to ask Senate Intelligence Committee chair Dianne Feinstein to consider holding off “because a lot is going on in the world.”

The White House has been negotiating with Feinstein since April over extensive CIA-requested redactions before making public a 450-page summary of the committee’s exhaustive investigation into CIA detention and interrogation during the Bush/Cheney years.

But the intelligence community never wanted its dirty secrets revealed. I suggested as early as six weeks ago that administration officials, doing the CIA’s bidding, were stalling negotiations until Republicans took over the chamber and killed the report themselves.

intelNews reminds:

NSA spies on every cell phone company in the world, new data shows

The United States National Security Agency has spied on virtually every cell phone manufacturer and provider in the world in an attempt to uncover security weaknesses that can be exploited for surveillance, according to newly leaked data.

It also appears that the NSA has worked to sabotage the technical security features of commercial telecommunications systems in order to be able to spy on their users.

From Network World, puns avoided:

US Senator introduces bill to block FBI backdoor access

U.S. Senator Ron Wyden on Thursday introduced a bill that would prevent the government from forcing companies to design backdoors or security vulnerabilities into their products to aid surveillance.

The Secure Data Act aims to preempt moves by the government to better eavesdrop over newer communications technologies, and is part of an overall bid by some legislators to place curbs on extensive government surveillance.

A key legislation that would put curbs on the bulk collection of phone records by the U.S. National Security Agency, called the USA Freedom Act, could not move towards a final vote on the legislation in the Senate last month, despite backing from the administration of U.S. President Barack Obama.

From United Press International superespiocypher power:

American intelligence agencies building new supercomputer

Current supercomputing utilizes technology that relies on tens of megawatts and requires large amounts of physical space to house the infrastructure and power and cool the components.

American intelligence agencies announced plans Friday to develop and build a new superconducting supercomputer, one which would increase current computing capacity while simultaneously reducing the energy consumption and physical footprint of the machines.

The Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity, a branch of the U.S. intelligence community, said in a press release that the agency has embarked on a multi-year research effort called the Cryogenic Computer Complexity program, or C3.

Current supercomputing utilizes technology that relies on tens of megawatts and requires large amounts of physical space to house the infrastructure and power and cool the components.

C3 hopes to use recent breakthroughs in supercomputing technologies — “new families of superconducting logic without static power dissipation and new ideas for energy efficient cryogenic memory” — to construct a superconducting supercomputer with “a simplified cooling infrastructure and a greatly reduced footprint.”

A British spooky imprimatur, from BBC News:

GCHQ does not breach human rights, judges rule

The current system of UK intelligence collection does not currently breach the European Convention of Human Rights, a panel of judges has ruled.

A case claiming various systems of interception by GCHQ constituted a breach had been brought by Amnesty, Privacy International and others. It followed revelations by the former US intelligence analyst Edward Snowden about UK and US surveillance practices.

The judges said the case had been important in clarifying GCHQ’s policy.

Some of the organisations who brought the case, including Amnesty UK and Privacy International, say they intend to appeal the decision to the European Court of Human Rights.

Others raise a more fundamental point, via the Independent:

UK democracy undermined by police power to snoop, say MPs

Secretive snooping powers that have been used by police to blow the cover of whistleblowers are “not fit for purpose”, MPs warn today amid serious concerns about the use of surveillance in the UK.

British democracy is being undermined by the abuse of terror laws which saw the police sign off more than 500,000 requests last year to retrieve communications data, says the influential Home Affairs committee.

The current powers, which have also been exploited by councils to spy on ordinary citizens, must be overhauled urgently, the MPs argue in a report published just hours after judges ruled that GCHQ’s current system of intelligence collection is lawful.

After the jump, on to a Sony hack elevated by threatening emails to employees and a look at Pyongyang’s elite military hacker brigade, a warning of widespread vulnerabilities, another chain store credit card system hacked, preinstalled malware in consumer cell phones, France orders a Pirate Bay ISP blockade, on to the Mesopotamia war and optimism dashed, European homecoming fears, and Iranian confirmation of anti-IS airstrikes in Iraq, then on to Hong Kong and a final anti-Occupy sweep approaches, and China announces a military technology push while announcing a media drive for the approaching national day of remembrance of the Rape of Nanjing. . . Continue reading

InSecurityWatch: Cops, spies, hacks, war, more


Including a widening war on the press. . .

First, from CBC News, a new development in a trans-Atlantic online extortion that ended in a Canadian teen’s suicide:

Amanda Todd: police alerted to extortion suspect before her suicide

  • Police in Norway asked Dutch police to investigate Aydin Coban for alleged blackmailing another girl

An investigation by CBC’s the fifth estate and Dutch news program Zembla has found that police in the Netherlands were alerted to the online activities of the man eventually charged in the extortion of Amanda Todd, well before the teen committed suicide.

In October 2012, the 15-year-old from Port Coquitlam, B.C., committed suicide after posting a video on YouTube saying she had been blackmailed by an online predator after exposing her breasts using a webcam.

In January 2014, police in the Netherlands arrested Aydin Coban, 35, in relation to an investigation in that country involving Dutch victims and charged him with nine offences.

Here’s an earlier extended report from CBC News on the victim and the crime itself:

The Sextortion of Amanda Todd – the fifth estate

Program notes:

A year after her death, most people remember Amanda Todd from her YouTube video, holding up hand-written pages describing how one mistake in front of a webcam led to her torment by bullies at school and online. But beyond that viral video, the fifth estate reveals a more complex and disturbing story about what happened to the B.C. teenager driven to suicide in October 2012 – not just bullying, but the deliberate sexual extortion of a 15-year-old girl by online predators. the fifth estate host Mark Kelley goes deep into Amanda’s world, with never-before-seen videos and web chats from two personal laptops that her family shared with the fifth estate. With in-depth interviews from her mother, father and friends, Kelley reveals the untold story of The Sextortion of Amanda Todd.

From Al Jazeera America, protesting a growing source of domestic insecurity in the U.S.:

Workers hit the streets across US in growing minimum wage fight

  • Workers and supporters stage strikes, walkouts, demonstrations at fast-food restaurants, airports, gas stations

Fast-food workers and other low-wage employees in nearly 200 cities across the country took part in a strike and protests Thursday, demanding a base wage of $15 per hour and the right to form unions in the latest in a series of day-long labor actions coordinated through a nationwide coalition of workers’ groups.

The protests in cities including New York City, Chicago and Philadelphia — organized under an umbrella organization called Fight for 15 — are believed to be the most expansive of such demonstrations to date, increasing to about 190 cities from 150 in a similar event in September. No arrests have so far been reported, according to Reuters.

Strikes and walkouts at fast-food restaurants were staged by workers at McDonald’s, Burger King and Wendy’s locations as well as at major airports including New York City’s John F. Kennedy International Airport.  Organizers said gas station employees and home care workers were also joining.

The anatomy of a murder from the Washington Post:

Investigation: Afghan shooter ambushed slain Army general at close range

The mass shooting that killed a two-star Army general and wounded 18 other people in Afghanistan on Aug. 5 was carried out by a lone Afghan soldier who did not have any apparent ties to the Taliban and who simply seized “a target of opportunity,” according to a U.S. military investigation.

The investigation, released by U.S. Central Command on Thursday, found that Maj. Gen. Harold Greene, of Falls Church, Va., died immediately after being shot multiple times in the pelvis, head and neck by an army private named Rafiqullah, 22, who also was killed in the incident. The report found that Rafiqullah opened fire from a bathroom window in a military police barracks less than 15 meters away from the nearest person he targeted. He had previously expressed disdain for Americans.

Greene was the highest-ranking U.S. officer killed in a combat zone since the Vietnam War. The others wounded in the shooting included German Army Brig. Gen. Michael Bartscher and Afghan Brig. Gen. Miyan-Yar Gulalm Sahki. The names of the others wounded are redacted from the newly released documents, but they include 10 Americans, three Afghans and two individuals from Britain.

The NSA , doing its thing, via the Guardian:

NSA accused of intercepting emails sent by mobile phone firm employees

  • New claims against National Security Agency’s surveillance operations based on information obtained by Edward Snowden

The National Security Agency has reportedly intercepted emails sent by employees of mobile operators in an attempt to find security weaknesses in their networks that it could exploit for surveillance purposes.

The US government body has spied on hundreds of companies and organisations, including those in allies such as Britain and Australia, as well as in nations America regards as hostile. It plans to insert flaws into communications systems so that they can be accessed by their operatives.

The allegations, reported by the Intercept, are based on documents provided to the website and contained in material provided to them by Edward Snowden, the whistleblower and former NSA subcontractor who is now living in Russia.

A covert operation called AURORAGOLD that started in 2010, if not earlier, has monitored the content of messages to and from 1,200 email accounts associated with mobile operators to intercept relevant documents, the article states.

By May 2012, the NSA had collected technical data on about 700 of the almost 1,000 mobile networks worldwide.

And from Deutsche Welle, explains a lot:

Witness: German intelligence helped NSA to tap Internet hub

  • A German parliamentary inquiry has been told that German intelligence fed America’s NSA filtered data from an Internet hub in Frankfurt, after clearance from Berlin. The “Eikonal” project ended in 2008.

A witness told a German parliamentary inquiry on Thursday that America’s NSA was fed filtered data from an internet exchange point in Frankfurt, after an OK from the Chancellery in Berlin.

The Eikonal project leader within Germany’s BND foreign intelligence agency – identified only as S.L. – said the exchange’s own operator had legal doubts, but was convinced once confirmation came from the-then chancellery.

Germany’s federal intelligence service (BND) delivered filtered information from 2004 until 2008, when the “Americans saw that we could not extract anything more for them,” said the witness, who was quoted by Germany’s main news agency DPA.

Over that period, Germany was first governed by a center-left coalition headed by Social Democrat Chancellor Gerhard Schröder, and from October 2005 by Chancellor Angela’s first grand coalition cabinet.

If at first you don’t succeed, from the National Journal:

House Lawmakers to Reintroduce Bill to Limit NSA ‘Backdoor’ Spying

The measure passed the House earlier this year with major bipartisan support, but was cut out of ongoing funding negotiations.

House lawmakers are attempting to revive a popular bill that would limit the National Security Agency’s ability to spy on Americans’ communications data, a day after the measure was left out from ongoing government funding negotiations.

The measure, dubbed the Secure Data Act and spearheaded by Democratic Rep. Zoe Lofgren, would block the NSA and other intelligence agencies from compelling tech companies to create so-called backdoor vulnerabilities into their devices or software. Sen. Ron Wyden, also a Democrat, introduced a similar version of the bill earlier Thursday.

A Lofgren aide said the bill is expected to be introduced later Thursday with Republican cosponsors.

A broader form of the legislation overwhelmingly passed the House in June with bipartisan support on a 293-123 vote, in the form of an amendment tacked on to a defense appropriations bill. That previous bill additionally would have prevented intelligence agencies from engaging in content surveillance of Americans’ communications data without a warrant.

And from Sky News, the latest American legal travesty:

Eric Garner Chokehold Decision ‘A Travesty’

  • As civil rights leaders lash out, fresh demonstrations are held and a judge releases details about the Eric Garner grand jury

Civil rights leaders have condemned a grand jury decision not to charge a white policeman in the chokehold death of a black man as “a travesty of justice”.

Following a meeting at the New York City headquarters of Rev Al Sharpton’s National Action Network, they also announced plans for a summit on racial justice in Washington later this month.

Father-of-six Eric Garner, 43, died after he was restrained by police while being arrested on suspicion of selling untaxed cigarettes on Staten Island in July.

More from the Associated Press:

Police cases converge to stir national debate

From the White House to the streets of some of America’s biggest cities, the New York chokehold case converged with the Ferguson shooting and investigations out of South Carolina and Cleveland to stir a national conversation Thursday about racial justice and police use of force.

A day after protests erupted in New York over the decision not to charge a white officer in the death of a black man, civil rights leaders pinned their hopes on a federal investigation. Demonstrators turned out in such cities as Denver, Detroit and Minneapolis. And politicians and others talked about the need for better police training, body cameras and changes in the grand jury process to restore faith in the legal system.

“A whole generation of officers will be trained in a new way,” New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said he and his police commissioner outlined previously announced plans to teach officers how to communicate better with people on the street.

From Reuters, hardly surprising:

More protests expected after no charges in New York chokehold case

A police union official on Thursday defended a white officer’s role in the chokehold death of an unarmed black man in New York even as protesters planned a new round of demonstrations a day after a grand jury voted not to bring charges.

New York City Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association President Patrick Lynch told reporters on Thursday that Officer Daniel Pantaleo had acted properly in restraining Eric Garner during an arrest attempt in the borough of Staten Island in July.

“He’s a model of what we want a police officer to be,” Lynch said.

Meanwhile, the Rev. Al Sharpton and other civil rights leaders called for the appointment of a special federal prosecutor to investigate suspected cases of police abuse, including the shooting death in August of unarmed teenager Michael Brown in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Missouri.

While the Guardian questions a proclaimed preventative measure:

Body cameras for police officers? Not so fast, say researchers

  • Obama supports the use of body cameras on police officers, but researchers say they’re unconvinced of the merits of the technology

In police departments across the country, body camera initiatives have been fast-tracked, aided by recent presidential backing. But among activists stung by a New York City grand jury’s refusal to indict an officer in the death of Eric Garner, an incident that was captured on video by at least three bystanders, body cameras are losing their appeal.

“There is a video of officer [Daniel] Pantaleo killing Eric Garner and the New York City medical examiner’s office ruled his death a homicide,” said Judith Browne Dianis, co-director of the Advancement Project civil rights advocacy group, in a statement on Wednesday. “Yet he walks free.”

As media reports have pointed out, body cameras devices may not help prosecute police officers – many episodes of apparent brutality are captured on camera, but charges against officers are infrequent. Still, some say the devices should not be dismissed.

“There are a lot of good reasons to think the technology could be a win-win,” said Jay Stanley, a senior policy analyst at the American Civil Liberties Union. The organisation is known for its right-to-privacy advocacy, but Stanley comes down on the side of the cameras. He argues they could make police more accountable to the public, “if the technology is done right”. “And that may be a big if,” he said.

Meanwhile, Washington Post editorial cartoonist Tom Toles has a suggestion for another way to use body cams:

BLOG Toles

The New York Times covers more of the usual:

Cleveland Police Abuse Pattern Cited by Justice Department

One week after the release of a surveillance video showing a Cleveland police officer fatally shooting a 12-year-old African-American boy who was holding a pellet gun, Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. flew here on Thursday to announce that a lengthy Justice Department civil rights investigation had found “unreasonable and unnecessary use of force” by the city’s Police Department.

The Cleveland abuses highlighted by Mr. Holder included many that have caused friction with the police in minority communities around the country. Those include excessive use of deadly force like shootings and using weapons to hit suspects on the head; the “unnecessary, excessive or retaliatory use of less lethal force” involving Tasers, chemical spray and fists; excessive force against mentally ill people; and tactics that have escalated encounters into confrontations where use of force became inevitable.

“Cleveland officers are not provided with adequate training, policy guidance, support and supervision,” the Justice Department concluded in its report.

A surprising decision, given the state where it happened, from the San Antonio Express-News:

Texas cop resigns after putting woman in chokehold while she filmed arrest

An off-duty police officer who used a controversial neck restraint on a woman after she refused to stop filming an arrest in a Corpus Christi parking lot has resigned.

Gary Witherspoon, an off-duty investigator for the Nueces County Attorney’s Office, resigned at about 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, according to a news release from Nuces County District Attorney Mark Skurka provided to the Corpus Christi Caller-Times.

“The termination is a result of his involvement and actions at an incident that took place on August 16, 2014, as well as other employment issues,” the news release said. “However, during the termination process, Mr. Witherspoon asked for and was allowed to resign in lieu of (termination).”

And then there’s this, from the U.N. Press Center:

US should respond to public demands for greater police accountability – Ban

In the wake of a grand jury decision in New York yesterday not to indict a police officer in the chokehold death of Eric Garner, an unarmed man, in July, United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has urged the United States to do “anything possible to respond to demands of greater accountability.”

“We are obviously aware of what is going on here in our backyard,” said UN spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric responding to questions at the daily press briefing at UN Headquarters. He said the Secretary-General’s thoughts are with the families of Mr. Garner, a Staten Island resident, and the people of New York.

“I think the case is again focusing on the attention of accountability of law enforcement officials,” he added, welcoming the announcement by the US Justice Department of opening a civil rights investigation in the case.

“I think I would just add that we’ve seen a lot of demonstrations here in New York. [Mr. Ban] would urge the [protestors] to demonstrate peacefully, and for the authorities for the respect of those demonstrators to do so peacefully,” the spokesperson said.

And from RT America, inevitable:

Protests spread nationwide after NYPD non-indictment

Program notes:

Thousands took to the streets of New York, Washington and other cities across the country on Wednesday night, protesting a grand jury’s decision to not indict a police officer who killed 43-year-old unarmed Eric Garner with a chokehold. Coming just over a week after the latest Ferguson, Mo. unrest, the decision touched a nerve with many who feel justice for victims of police brutality is not being served. RT’s Alexey Yaroshevsky and Manuel Rapalo have more details.

From the London Telegraph, a nose for it:

Police use ‘nose telescope’ for cannabis odour mapping

  • Police in Denver are using a nose telescope to tackle odours from the recreational use of marijuana

As more cities in America legalise the drug, attention has switched to the pungent smell that wafts from the joint itself.

Denver has passed a new “odour ordinance” with a potential $2,000 (£1,247) fine for anyone found guilty of polluting the atmosphere.

The need to draw up standards emerged because of the confusion over the legal position of whether somebody smoking marijuana in their own home could be committing an environmental offence when the smell seeps into the street.

Under the new law an offence is committed if the odour is detectable when the smoke is mixed with seven times the volume of clean air.

And from RT, a cop shock Down Under:

Brutal police beating of model shocks Australia

A video showing three Sydney police officers brutally beating a young woman has gone viral, with over 750,000 views on Facebook. During the clip, the victim is repeatedly hit with a police baton and appears to be kicked in the head by a male officer.

Police brutality has been hitting the headlines in the US, but now it seems the unfortunate trend has made its way to Australia. The woman in question, Claire Helen, who works as a model and actress and was on the receiving end of recurring blows from a police officer, said: “It was the most frightening and humiliating experience of my life.”

Law enforcement officers allege that Helen punched a policewoman in the mouth, as well as resisting arrest – an action that the model stringently denies. “They pushed me down. They hit me and kicked me. They pulled my dress over my head,” she said, speaking to Channel Nine. Onlookers could be heard shouting, “Let her go,” and, “She’s not resisting arrest.”

A controversial figurative branding from TheLocal.fr:

French homeless forced to wear ‘yellow triangles’

The city of Marseille has been blasted for using Nazi-era tactics to identify its homeless population by issuing them with ID cards, adorned with a yellow triangle. The cards detail their health issues and will be worn visibly.

Authorities in France’s second-largest city have come under fire for issuing its homeless with ID cards that detail their health issues.

Human rights groups and government ministers have slammed the “yellow triangle cards”, comparing them to the Nazi-era Star of David that was sown onto Jewish people’s clothes during the Holocaust.

“This is scandalous, it’s stigmatizing,” Christophe Louis, president of the homeless charity Collectif Morts de la Rue, told The Local.

After the jump, it’s on to the Hollywood hack of the year and a denial from Pyongyang, while suspicion remains though questions are raised, the leaks continue, and a malware signature is discovered, a gang of cybercrooks is broken, Chinese cybervulnerabilities proclaimed,  rottenness from an Apple and a Russian Apple ban contemplated, deadly message for a Sicilian journalist covering the mafia, politics behind Egypt’s jailing of journalists, a Liberian journalists fear a secret police death plot, Allegations of a British undercover provocateur’s incitement, a Pakistani lawyer threatened with gunshots and death for defending an alleged blasphemer, Indian bigotry empowered, a Chinese takeover of Taiwan predicted and a Taiwanese arsenal addition,  Vietnam jails a blogger critical of the government, China mulls an Obama criticism of the country’s president, China ends a gruesome recycling operation, remaining Occupy Hong Kong activists mull retreat, Beijing slams Washington’s agreement with an Occupy aim, Japanese police monitor anti-Korean hate group and the air force install cameras to monitor Chinese fly-bys, plus Tony Blair’s Henry Kissinger fetish. . . Continue reading

InSecurityWatch: Alarms, crime, hacks, war, more


From the Japan Times, the apocalyptic:

Hawking warns AI ‘could spell end of human race’

British theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking has warned that the development of artificial intelligence could mean the end of humanity.

In an interview with the BBC, he said such technology could rapidly evolve and overtake mankind, a scenario like that envisaged in the “Terminator” movies.

“The primitive forms of artificial intelligence we already have, have proved very useful. But I think the development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race,” the professor said in an interview aired Tuesday.

“Once humans develop artificial intelligence, it would take off on its own, and re-design itself at an ever-increasing rate. Humans, who are limited by slow biological evolution, couldn’t compete and would be superseded,” said Hawking, who is regarded as one of the world’s most brilliant living scientists.

And from Bloomberg News, servant of the apocalypse?:

Meet Your New Security Guard: A 300-Pound Robot

Program notes:

William Santana Li, chairman and CEO of Knightscope, and Stacy Stephens, vice president of marketing and sales, explain how the company’s K5 autonomous robot security guards work. They speak with Bloomberg’s Pimm Fox on “Taking Stock.”

Keep an eye on ‘em, literally, via the Associated Press:

Obama wants more police wearing body cameras

President Barack Obama wants to see more police wearing cameras to help build trust between the public and police by recording events like the shooting death of unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown, but is not seeking to pull back federal programs that provide the type of military-style equipment used to dispel the resulting racially-charged protests in Ferguson, Missouri.

The White House announced the conclusions of a three-month review Monday as the president was holding a series of meetings with his Cabinet, civil rights leaders, law enforcement officials and others to go over the findings. At least for now, Obama is staying away from Ferguson in the wake of a racially charged uproar over a grand jury’s decision last week not to charge the police officer who fatally shot Brown.

“The president and his administration are very focused on the underlying issues that have been uncovered in a pretty raw way in Ferguson,” said White House press secretary Josh Earnest. But he wouldn’t say if additional training of Ferguson police would have resulted in different outcome in there.

Obama is proposing a three-year, $263 million spending package to increase use of body-worn cameras, expand training for law enforcement and add more resources for police department reform. The package includes $75 million for to help pay for 50,000 of the small, lapel-mounted cameras to record police on the job, with state and local governments paying half the cost. The FBI estimates there were just under 700,000 police officers in the US in 2011.

New York follows the cue, via BuzzFeed:

Some NYPD Officers To Start Wearing Body Cameras This Week

Mayor Bill de Blasio said Wednesday that the pilot program will begin in the next several days in six New York City precincts. Officers around the nation have begun wearing the devices to record their confrontations with people.

Officers in six New York City police precincts will begin wearing body cameras as part of a test program, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Wednesday, as scrutiny of how law enforcement officers interact with the people they are sworn to protect has increased in recent months.

Volunteer officers from the 120th precinct in Staten Island — where Eric Garner was killed with a police chokehold in July — the 40th precinct in the Mott Haven neighborhood of the Bronx, and Service Area 2, which patrols public housing in the housing bureau office tasked with patrolling public housing offices in northern Brooklyn, will begin using the cameras on Friday.

Next week, officers in three additional precincts will get the devices.

There are two types of devices: The cameras coming into circulation this Friday will start recording 3.8 seconds after an officer activates it. The cameras used starting next week constantly record video in 30 seconds intervals, and the officer can at any point choose to continuously record in the event of an incident.

More on Obama’s police agenda from the New York Times, with the positive spin:

Obama to Toughen Standards on Police Use of Military Gear

President Obama on Monday announced that he would tighten standards on the provision and use of military-style equipment by local police departments, but he stopped short of curtailing the transfer of such hardware or weapons to the local authorities.

After a review of the government’s decade-old strategy of outfitting local police forces with military equipment, the White House concluded that the vast majority of these transfers strengthen local policing, but that the government should impose consistent standards in the types of hardware it offers, better training in how to use it and more thorough oversight.

Mr. Obama announced the steps at a cabinet meeting that was called to deal with lingering tensions from fiery clashes between the police and protesters in Ferguson, Mo., which broke out after a grand jury declined to indict a police officer for fatally shooting an unarmed black teenager.

BuzzFeed takes a different slant:

White House: We Don’t Have A “Specific Position” On Police Militarization Legislation

The Obama administration is defending federal programs that send military equipment to local law enforcement, distancing itself from them, and promising some minor reforms to how they operate — all at the same time.

Administration officials noted repeatedly that “the vast majority” of surplus military equipment sent to local police forces is not former combat equipment and said they could not alter programs created by Congress.

Asked about proposed legislation to limit the availability of military equipment to local police, proposed by Democrats and Republicans in the House and Senate, the official said the White House had not reviewed the bills.

“I don’t have a specific position for you,” the official said.

“Our assumption is Congress has an intent here to support local law enforcement with the use of this kind of equipment,” the official said on a conference call with reporters Monday. “Our focus is on what kind of protections are in place to make sure it’s used properly and safely.”

From Deutsche Welle, too little and too late?:

US attorney general issues new racial profiling guidelines in wake of Ferguson

After the fatal shooting of Michael Brown, the US attorney general has announced new guidelines to limit racial profiling. President Obama has also ordered a review of military weapons in the hands of police

US attorney general Eric Holder on Monday announced he would soon release new guidelines to limit racial profiling by law enforcement.

Speaking at the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia, where 1960s civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. was a preacher, Holder said the guidelines would be announced in the coming days and that they would “codify our commitment to the very highest standards of fair and effective policing.”

The new guidelines would not pertain to local or state police forces, but to federal law enforcement.

Starting the holidays with a bang, from CNBC :

The right to bear arms—on Black Friday! Gun sales surge on retail holiday

Apparel and electronics are far from being the only things consumers seek out on Black Friday—many really like firearm deals as well.

Second amendment enthusiasts sent gun sales surging on Friday, according to a report from CNN.com. The federal government was on track to process more than 144,000 background checks for the purposes of gun ownership, a new record and the equivalent of 3 investigations per second, the report added.

A Federal Bureau of Investigation spokesman told the news organization that approximately 600 FBI and contract call center employees sift through thousands of requests within a 3 day span. Traditionally, Black Friday is a peak day for volume, but Friday likely topped last year’s requests of 144,758.

Segregation in the suburbs from Al Jazeera America:

‘Separate and unequal’: Racial segregation flourishes in US suburbs

  • New report shows suburban demographics resemble central cities’ of yesteryear, with the same social problems

America’s suburbs, now as diverse as large central cities were 30 years ago, are repeating the cycle of racial segregation and inequality that have haunted major cities for decades.

Ferguson, Missouri, a stark example of this suburban transformation in the St. Louis area, is at the heart of coast-to-coast demonstrations and a racially charged national debate over the relationship between police and black communities. And Ferguson may well be the first suburb to ignite unrest.

Protests that spark rioting have rarely started in suburbia and have almost always begun in major central cities, such as in Detroit (1967), Washington (1968) and Los Angeles (1992). But  in 2014, America’s suburban landscape has clearly changed.

“[It] isn’t a St. Louis ghetto,” segregation expert John Logan said of Ferguson, a suburb with about 21,000 people, more than two-thirds of them African-American. “It’s out in the suburbs, and it’s not the worst neighborhood, so why are people so steamed up?” Logan asked. “There is a high degree of segregation and steering in the housing market and divisions across racial lines.”

Droning on with Al Jazeera America:

San Jose police’s new drone prompts privacy concerns

  • Eleven months after buying a surveillance drone without public notice, the department is drafting policies for its use

San Jose could soon become the first Bay Area city to deploy a drone for police operations, despite pushback from civil rights groups and legal experts who say the invasive technology infringes on Californians’ right to privacy.

The San Jose Police Department (SJPD) purchased the drone in January without any public debate. In August a researcher with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) uncovered the purchase in city documents, which led to an SJPD apology for not opening the purchase to public debate.

“In hindsight, SJPD should have done a better job of communicating the purpose and acquisition of the Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) device to our community,” the SJPD said in a statement.

The police department is now developing a drone-use policy to present to residents on Dec. 6. Police officials say up to four officers could be trained to operate the drone. Initially, they say, only police department auditors will have access to details on how the drone would be used.

And the Oakland Tribune brings ‘em even closer to Casa esnl:

Alameda County sheriff buys two drones

After an uproar by privacy advocates foiled his plan to buy drones last year, Alameda County Sheriff Greg Ahern has found another way to acquire two unmanned vehicles that will hover over the East Bay during emergencies.

Ahern said Wednesday the drones will be for search-and-rescue missions, bomb squad operations and other emergencies, not surveillance, but the secrecy of the purchase has infuriated civil liberties groups.

“He’s acquired this drone in secret over public opposition,” said Linda Lye, staff attorney at the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California. “He is basically asking for a blank check, but when it comes to our privacy rights we deserve more meaningful safeguards.”

Precrime in Berlin with the Japan Times:

Berlin police mull crime-predicting software

Police in Berlin are considering deploying software that predicts crimes — and have even dubbed the project “Precobs” in a nod to a term used in “Minority Report,” the U.S. science-fiction film based on a similar premise.

Developed by a German firm, the software program predicts when and where a crime is most likely to occur, based on different data. It is being tested by police in the southern state of Bavaria.

“The Berlin police is first waiting for the results of the trial run in Bavaria” before deciding on on whether to acquire “Precobs,” a spokesman said in an email.

The name is a contraction of “Pre-Crime Observation System.” The “Precobs” title borrows deliberately from the “precog” term used in “Minority Report,” referring to psychics who predict crimes before they happen. That 2002 movie, starring Tom Cruise and directed by Steven Spielberg, was based on a story by Philip K. Dick.

And from the Washington Post, suspicions confirmed:

Police: Austin shooter was a ‘homegrown American extremist’

Larry McQuilliams had “let me die” written in marker across his chest when he fired more than 100 rounds in downtown Austin early Friday morning.

McQuilliams, who Austin Police officials called a “homegrown American extremist” with ties to a Christian identity hate group, was shot dead on Friday by a police officer outside the department’s headquarters.

Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo told reporters on Monday that officers who searched the gunman’s home found a map with 34 targets, including two churches. McQuilliams had fired bullets into Austin police headquarters, a federal courthouse and the Mexican consulate in downtown Austin on Friday. He also tried to set the Mexican consulate building on fire.

Police believe McQuilliams associated himself with the Phineas Priesthood, an anti-Semitic, anti-multiculturalism affiliation that opposes biracial relationships, same-sex marriage, taxation and abortion. Authorities found a copy of “Vigilantes of Christendom,” a book linked to the Priesthood, in the rental van McQuilliams used during the attacks, NBC Austin affiliate KXAN reported.

From the Guardian, honors deserved:

Edward Snowden wins Swedish human rights award for NSA revelations

  • Whistleblower receives several standing ovations in Swedish parliament as he wins Right Livelihood award

Whistleblower Edward Snowden received several standing ovations in the Swedish parliament after being given the Right Livelihood award for his revelations of the scale of state surveillance.

Snowden, who is in exile in Russia, addressed the parliament by video from Moscow. In a symbolic gesture, his family and supporters said no one picked up the award on his behalf in the hope that one day he might be free to travel to Sweden to receive it in person.

His father, Lon, who was in the chamber for what was an emotional ceremony, said: “I am thankful for the support of the Right Livelihood award and the Swedish parliament. The award will remain here in expectation that some time – sooner or later – he will come to Stockholm to accept the award.”

More from Deutsche Welle:

Snowden calls on UN to protect privacy and human rights

Former CIA systems analyst Edward Snowden has called upon the United Nations to take steps to ensure individual privacy and promote human rights. The whistleblower was honored with the Right Livelihood award on Monday.

The whistleblower received a standing ovation from the delegates as he addressed the gathering through a video link. The Right Livelihood award, also known as the “alternative Nobel,” recognized the “work of so many people,” Snowden said.

In his speech on Monday, the former CIA employee acknowledged that journalists, publishers and activists were among those who had put themselves in danger and could not go home because they feared arrest, just like he did.

“These are things that are unlikely to change soon. But they’re worth it…All the prices we paid, all the sacrifices we made, I believe we’d do it again,” Snowden said, calling upon the United Nations to propose new measures that would help secure the rights of individuals and the rights of all human beings.

After the jump, the curious world of the anti-terrorism algorithm, then on to the war of the moment an a surprise bombing suggested and an endorsement from Washington, an Iraqi telephonic shutdown, scores of death sentences in Egypt as insults to political orthodoxy is criminalized, a Kenya terror attacks leads to security shakeup, Venezuelan opposition leader charged in assassination plot, on to the hack of the year starting with multiple suspects, risks acknowledged in advance, a video report, an inventory of disaster, warnings of more to come, Sony’s own suspicions, suspicions of Iranian hacking, and malware on the market, veteran Israeli spook fears Netayahu’s political suicide bombs, Pakistani police beat blind protesters, and a Pakistani police debacle, then on to Hong Kong as Washington weighs in behind an Occupy goal and London weighs in, a Hong Kong court backs the evictions as Occupy leaders surrender to police only to be released without bail, then on to Japan with a controversial “Comfort Women” retraction, and the last major Nazi killer is gone. . . Continue reading

InSecurityWatch: Cop, hacks, war, drones, zones


And we begin with the cop, via Sky News:

Ferguson Officer Quit Because Of ‘Threats’

  • The police chief complains of “egregious” threats, as the mayor says Darren Wilson will receive no severance payment package.

The white officer who shot dead black teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, quit because of threats against the police department, his lawyer has said.

Darren Wilson’s resignation with immediate effect was announced on Saturday, four months after the confrontation that fuelled violent protests in the St Louis suburb and across the US.

Ferguson Police Chief Tom Jackson told a news conference on Sunday: “The threats (from protesters) have been egregious and counselling is available to the officers.” He was joined by Ferguson Mayor James Knowles, who said Mr Wilson, 28, received no severance payment package.

On to the war, via CBC News:

Gill Rosenberg, Canadian citizen, reportedly captured by ISIS in Syria

  • Canada ‘pursuing all appropriate channels’ to verify reports, is in touch with local authorities

The federal government is working to confirm reports that Gill Rosenberg, a Canadian citizen, has been captured by Islamist extremists in Syria.

According to the Jerusalem Post, websites “known to be close” to ISIS extremists reported the capture of the Israeli-Canadian woman, who joined Kurdish fighters overseas, on Sunday.

“Canada is pursuing all appropriate channels” to seek further information and is in touch with local authorities, a spokesman for the foreign ministry said on Sunday.

The newspaper said the websites give few details on the alleged capture, only that it occurred after three suicide attacks on sites where Kurdish fighters were holed up.

Another Bush/Cheney legacy from the Washington Post:

Investigation finds 50,000 ‘ghost’ soldiers in Iraqi army, prime minister says

The Iraqi army has been paying salaries to at least 50,000 soldiers who don’t exist, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said Sunday, an indication of the level of corruption that permeates an institution that the United States has spent billions equipping and arming.

A preliminary investigation into “ghost soldiers” — whose salaries are being drawn but who are not in military service — revealed the tens of thousands of false names on Defense Ministry rolls, Abadi told parliament Sunday. Follow-up investigations are expected to uncover “more and more,” he added.

Abadi, who took power in September, is under pressure to stamp out the graft that flourished in the armed forces under his predecessor, Nouri al-Maliki. Widespread corruption has been blamed for contributing to the collapse of four of the army’s 14 divisions in June in the face of an offensive by Islamic State extremists.

An upcoming visit via the News in Lagos, Nigeria:

EU delegation visiting Guantanamo Bay prison

A delegation of five European officials led by French former justice minister Rachida Dati will visit the US military detention center in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba this week, aides said Sunday.

Invited by the United States, the delegation’s informal visit is meant to help give Europe ideas on how it can help the United States shut down the controversial jail once and for all.

Dati and her delegation of European Parliament members will visit on Tuesday and will also have a chance to see inmates’ prison conditions, said Philip Kyle, her parliamentary attache.

The Canadian Press covers spookery to the north:

Disclosure of ‘sensitive’ telecom surveillance details worried feds: memo

A move by telecommunications firms to be more forthcoming with the public about their role in police and spy surveillance could divulge “sensitive operational details,” a senior Public Safety official warned in a classified memo.

Company efforts to reveal more about police and intelligence requests — even the disclosure of broad numbers — would require “extensive consultations with all relevant stakeholders,” wrote Lynda Clairmont, senior assistant deputy minister for national and cybersecurity.

Clairmont’s note, released under the Access to Information Act, provided advice to deputy minister Francois Guimont on the eve of his one-hour April 17 meeting with representatives of Telus Corp. to discuss specifically what information the company was allowed to tell the public about electronic surveillance activities.

Telus released a so-called “transparency report” five months later, revealing it had received more than 103,000 official requests for information about subscribers in 2013.

The Los Angeles Times covers a devastating hack attack:

Sony movies leak online as computer systems remain dark

If Sony Pictures employees return to work Monday after the Thanksgiving weekend without computer or email access, it will mark the beginning of the second week of blackout for the Culver City movie studio after a widespread hack.

And Sony’s headaches do not appear to have lessened. Pirated copies of some Sony movies have begun to appear online on file sharing websites in the days after the attack. It is not known whether the two problems are related.

Among the titles that have popped up are the Brad Pitt World War II drama “Fury,” the musical remake “Annie” and the upcoming film “Still Alice.” Copies of “Mr. Turner” and “To Write Love on Her Arms” have also surfaced.

From the Hill, expect more:

Corporate data breaches ‘inevitable,’ expert says

A cybersecurity expert said in an interview broadcast Sunday night that data breaches such as those at top retailers including Target and Home Depot are “inevitable.”

“Nearly every company … is vulnerable,” Dave DeWalt, Fire Eye’s chief executive, told 60 Minutes. “Even the strongest banks in the world — banks like JPMorgan, retailers like Home Depot, retailers like Target can’t spend enough money or hire enough people to solve this problem,” he added.

“This isn’t a lack of effort. Most of the large companies are growing their security spend — yet 97 percent, literally 97 percent, of all companies are getting breached,” DeWalt said.

DeWalt said it takes 229 days, on average, to discover a security breach, which are often blamed on poor passwords.

A rousing dronal endorsement from TechWeek Europe:

London Needs More Drones To Beat Its Traffic Problems, Says Boris Johnson

  • Drones could prove the answer to the hordes of delivery vehicles clogging the capital’s streets, Mayor believes

The skies of London could become much more crowded after the city’s Mayor called for airborne drones to take the place of road vehicles.

Speaking at an event in Singapore during his six-day tour of south-east Asia, Boris Johnson called on the capital’s technology firms, particularly the financial technology sector, to come up with a solution to the traffic problems that plague the city, and suggested drones could be the answer.

“We have a problem, folks – all this internet shopping is leading to a massive increase in white van traffic dropping this stuff off – 45 percent it’s going to go up in London in the next seven years,” he said. “That’s going to be terrible for congestion in our city and doubtless the same will be true of Singapore as well.

“I look out at this brilliant audience here today, bulging with ideas, and I ask you possibly to solve it. We need a solution … Is it, as I hope, going to be drones? I want to be controlling an app that enables my shopping not only to be click and collect … I want my own personal drone to come and drop it wherever I choose.”

From the Guardian, a source of domestic insecurity:

Begging prosecutions increase dramatically across England and Wales

  1. Number of cases rises 70%, prompting concerns that cuts in support and benefits make more people resort to begging

Prosecutions for begging have rocketed across England and Wales over the past year with dramatic increases recorded in many police force areas.

The number of cases brought to court under the 1824 Vagrancy Act has surged by 70%, prompting concerns that cuts to support services and benefits are pushing more people to resort to begging.

Some areas have spiked spectacularly. The number of charges for begging in the area covered by Merseyside police rose nearly 400% from 60 cases to 291 in 12 months, while Thames Valley, which covers relatively prosperous Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire, showed a similar rate of increase from 20 cases to 92.

Deutsche Welle covers a Colombian release:

Colombian rebel group FARC ‘frees kidnapped general, two soldiers’

Colombia’s president, Juan Manuel Santos, has confirmed that FARC rebels freed an army general captured earlier this month. General Ruben Alzate’s release may help restart Bogota’s suspended peace talks with the group.

The Colombian president wrote on his Twitter account on Sunday that the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) had also released two other hostages, Corporal Jorge Rodriguez and army advisor Gloria Urrego. Santos said General Alzate and his fellow captives would be reunited with their families soon.

“Freed … in prefect condition,” Santos wrote.

Fifty-five-year-old General Alzate was the highest-ranking Colombian military official ever to have been kidnapped by the Marxist group. Alzate, Rodriguez and Urrego were kidnapped by FARC fighters on November 16 when they were travelling to the remote area of Choco.

And from Xinhua, the Egyptian crackdown continues:

Egypt court jails Badie and 26 others 3 years for insulting judiciary

An Egyptian court sentenced the Muslim Brotherhood’s top official Mohammed Badie and 26 of the Islamist group’s leading figures to three years in prison for insulting the judiciary.

Badie and other defendants were in the criminal court of Cairo Sunday on charges of jailbreak during the 2011 uprising. The judge delivered the sentence after the group’s leaders offended the court during trial.

The trial of Badie and other defendants on the charge of escaping from jail has been adjourned to December 20.

After the jump, on to Asia and the ongoing Games of Zones, first with a seismic shift on a contested island, the crackdown on Occupy Hong Kong heats up with a city hall siege and a street-clearing, another Chinese crackdown, Uncle Sam ups the ante in the Game of Zones as China mulls missile sales and asserts insular singularity, Japan adds island-claiming amphibious boats, Tokyo stakes a secret documents claim, and Japan ramps up its cleanup of its chemical warfare effort in occupied China, plus odds on an apocalyptic scenario. . . Continue reading

InSecurityWatch: Protest, secrets, war, hacks


And more tensions in the Asian Game of Zones. . .

We begin in the U.S. with the Independent:

Ferguson protesters shut down malls across United States on Black Friday

US demonstrators appeared to shut at least three large malls in Ferguson yesterday as local residents took to the shops to protest against the Grand Jury’s decision.

The Missouri town has been struck with numerous – sometimes violent – demonstrations in the past week following a Grand Jury’s decision not to indict police Officer Darren Wilson for the killing of black unarmed teenager Michael Brown.

Stores in the Galleria Mall in Richmond Heights, a few miles south of Ferguson, lowered their security doors and locked entrances after the appearance of around 200 peaceful protesters.

And a march begins, via the Guardian:

NAACP chief: Ferguson civil rights march seeks justice for Michael Brown and systemic reform

  • Marchers set off on seven-day walk to Missouri state capital
  • Brooks tells Guardian mood is ‘serious but also expectant’

Hundreds of protesters in Missouri have a begun a week-long long march organised by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), in a move designed to inspire the spirit of the civil rights movement of 1950s and 60s, following a grand jury’s decision not to indict officer Darren Wilson for the shooting of Michael Brown.

“This march is predicated on civil rights history and the equal rights legacy of the Selma to Montgomery march, nearly 50 years ago,” said NAACP president and chief executive Cornell William Brooks, speaking from the head of the march in a phone interview with the Guardian.

“We are seeking both justice for Michael Brown’s family and systemic reform for an outraged community and an outraged country looking for a fundamental change in the way in which policing is conducted.”

A video report from CBC News:

Ferguson march to governor’s mansion begins

Program notes:

‘We believe that this march is another step forward in terms of bringing about fundamental, systemic reform of policing in the United States,’ says NAACP President Cornell William Brooks

And closer to Casa esnl, protests have continued. From the Oakland Tribune:

San Francisco protest over Ferguson leaves two officers injured

An unruly march Friday night by hundreds of protesters in San Francisco over the Ferguson shooting left two police officers injured and demonstrators arrested, authorities said.

The violence occurred around 9:30 p.m. after the protesters marched through downtown that was packed with Black Friday shoppers to protest the Missouri shooting of a black man by a white police officer.

Sgt. Monica Macdonald said one of the officers was taken to a hospital after a protester threw bottle at a squad car and the officer’s face was cut by flying glass. Another officer was struck in the chest by a brick.

Killing by stealth, from the Guardian:

Ohio Republicans push law to keep all details of executions secret

  • HB 663 would bar courts from access to essential information
  • State has experienced four botched executions in eight years

Republican lawmakers in Ohio are rushing through the most extreme secrecy bill yet attempted by a death penalty state, which would withhold information on every aspect of the execution process from the public, media and even the courts.

Legislators are trying to force through the bill, HB 663, in time for the state’s next scheduled execution, on 11 February. Were the bill on the books by then, nothing about the planned judicial killing of convicted child murderer Ronald Phillips – from the source of the drugs used to kill him and the distribution companies that transport the chemicals, to the identities of the medical experts involved in the death chamber – would be open to public scrutiny of any sort.

Unlike other death penalty states that have shrouded procedures in secrecy, the Ohio bill seeks to bar even the courts from access to essential information. Attorneys representing death-row inmates, for instance, would no longer be able to request disclosure under court protection of the identity and qualifications of medical experts who advised the state on their techniques.

On to the war with hints of more boots on the ground from BBC News:

Islamic State: Syria says air strikes not hurting group

Two months of US-led air strikes have failed to weaken Islamic State (IS) militants, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem has said. A US-led coalition has carried out nearly 300 air strikes in Syria since September.

Mr Moualem told Lebanese TV the only way to tackle IS was to force Turkey to tighten border controls to stop foreign fighters crossing into Syria.

IS controls large swathes of both Syria and neighbouring Iraq.

And while Western media have devoted extensive coverage of young Westerners headed to fight for ISIS, CBC News focuses on another groop of foreign volunteers:

Canadian vets fighting ISIS spark warnings, concern

  • Desire to battle extremists poses problems

They are driven to arrive on the front lines of a war that is not their own for a variety of reasons: frustration with what they call Canada’s inadequate military response, anger prompted by grisly beheading videos and stories of brutal treatment at the hands of ISIS.

For some of the Canadian military veterans who have volunteered to join the Kurdish battle against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, it is also about relieving boredom that has descended since their last battles in Afghanistan.

The volunteers will not be paid, so they are not mercenaries. But their decision to join up does present a host of potential problems — legal and practical — for Canada.

Al Jazeera America looks at another group of one-time volunteers who’ve had second thoughts, American GIs who followed in the wake of war resisters of another era by seeking refuge in Canada:

Marked for deportation, Iraq war resisters fight to stay in Canada

  • Up to two dozen military deserters would likely face stiff penalties upon return to US

For more than five years, former U.S. soldier Rodney Watson has lived as a prisoner, confined to a church that serves a poor neighborhood here.

Wanted on charges of desertion in the United States and marked for deportation from Canada, he’s invoked the protection of sanctuary. Following a tradition established in medieval times, the Canada Border Services Agency officers have refrained from entering the church. Watson is safe from arrest as long as he stays within its walls.

There are as many as two dozen men and women like Watson living in Canada today. Self-described conscientious objectors or resisters to the 2003 Iraq war, they have applied to Canadian refugee and immigration boards, but their applications have been stalled in courts for years. They remain in various states of legal limbo.

Most live with their families and are awaiting the outcome of immigration appeals. A few have work permits, while others are forced to sit idle. Some have exhausted legal options and have gone into hiding.

And from Network World, Merkel gives the nod:

BlackBerry’s deal to buy voice crypto company Secusmart blessed by German government

BlackBerry is now free to integrate German security vendor Secusmart’s voice encryption technology on its smartphones and software, after the German government approved its acquisition of the company.

BlackBerry CEO John Chen still wants his company to be the first choice of CIOs that want nothing but the best security as he works to turn around the company’s fortunes. The acquisition of Secusmart lets the company add the capability to encrypt voice and data communication to government security standards.

In this post-Edward Snowden world, cross-border acquisitions of security vendors have become even more touchy than before. Since Secusmart’s technology is used by the German government—including chancellor Angela Merkel , according to the company itself—it was extra sensitive.

After the jump, Pyongyang suspected in Sony hack, European demands for Big Tech to reveal tracking habits, Mubarak charges dropped in protester deaths and violent protest ensues [with video], an Indian cabinet minister hurls allegations at Pakistan, more violence in Muslim China, Chinese ships cross a Japanese line, plus allegations China claims are baseless. . .   Continue reading

InSecurityWatch: Disorders, crime, cops, hacks


Plus war, the Game of Zones, and much, much more.

From the Guardian, no place for esnl:

China bans wordplay in attempt at pun control

  • Officials say casual alteration of idioms risks nothing less than ‘cultural and linguistic chaos’, despite their common usage

From online discussions to adverts, Chinese culture is full of puns. But the country’s print and broadcast watchdog has ruled that there is nothing funny about them.

It has banned wordplay on the grounds that it breaches the law on standard spoken and written Chinese, makes promoting cultural heritage harder and may mislead the public – especially children. The casual alteration of idioms risks nothing less than “cultural and linguistic chaos”, it warns.

Chinese is perfectly suited to puns because it has so many homophones. Popular sayings and even customs, as well as jokes, rely on wordplay.

But the order from the State Administration for Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television says: “Radio and television authorities at all levels must tighten up their regulations and crack down on the irregular and inaccurate use of the Chinese language, especially the misuse of idioms.”

From the New York Times, challenging the imperium:

U.N. Panel Cites Concerns With U.S. Security Practices

The United States needs to make numerous changes to bring its security policies and domestic law enforcement practices fully into line with an international treaty banning torture and cruel treatment, a United Nations panel said Friday.

Delivering its findings after two days of hearings in Geneva attended by government representatives this month, the panel monitoring compliance with the treaty cited serious concerns. Among those concerns included the rules of interrogation, a failure to fully investigate allegations of torture during the administration of President George W. Bush, police shootings of unarmed African-Americans and the use of solitary confinement in prisons.

“There are numerous areas where there are things that should be changed to be fully compliant” with the United Nations Convention Against Torture, a panel member, Alessio Bruni, told reporters in Geneva as the panel released a 16-page document of findings and recommendations.

More from Deutsche Welle:

UN calls on US to comply with anti-torture treaty, stop ‘racial profiling’

  • The UN torture watchdog has lambasted the United States for police brutality and harsh prison conditions. A report said the country needed to improve in order to comply with a treaty it signed in 1987.

“The committee is concerned about numerous reports of police brutality and excessive use of force by law enforcement officials, in particular against persons belonging to certain racial and ethnic groups,” the committee said in its report, published days after the country was shaken by a grand jury decision to not indict a white police officer who fatally shot six times a black, unarmed teenager in Ferguson, Missouri over the summer.

The panel said it was “concerned about numerous, consistent reports that police have used electrical discharge weapons against unarmed individuals who resist arrest or fail to comply immediately with commands, suspects fleeing minor crime scenes or even minors” and called on the US to review its use of electric taser guns, which US authorities claim are non-lethal, but which activists say have killed over 500 people.

Friday’s report urged the US to “promptly, effectively and impartially” investigate all cases of police brutality and excessive use of force and to bring perpetrators to justice and ensure compensation for victims.

From the Guardian, a shrewd political move:

Ferguson protesters in LA released on Thanksgiving in goodwill move

  • Amid 338 arrests, chief praises LAPD’s ‘extreme restraint’ – but some demonstrators say they were held illegally

Police in Los Angeles released jailed Ferguson protesters in time for Thanksgiving dinner as a goodwill gesture. Some, however, complained that they should not have been arrested in the first place, calling their detention illegal.

Charlie Beck, chief of the LA police department, ordered about 90 protesters who remained in custody on Thursday afternoon be released on their own recognisance following the arrest of 145 people the previous night.

“We have every legal right to keep them until they post bail,” Commander Andrew Smith told the Los Angeles Times. “But in light of the holiday … [Beck] called and said he wants everybody who is eligible for release to be released by dinner time.”

The freed detainees did not have to post bail money but were obliged to sign a promise to appear in court, where most were expected to face a misdemeanour charge for unlawful assembly.

Shopping mauled, via the Associated Press:

Ferguson protest closes huge St. Louis-area mall

Officials temporarily closed a large shopping mall near St. Louis amid a protest triggered by a grand jury’s decision not to indict the police officer who fatally shot Michael Brown in nearby Ferguson.

At least 200 protesters gathered on one of the busiest shopping days of the year Friday at the Galleria mall in Richmond Heights, about 10 miles south of Ferguson.

Several stores lowered their security doors or locked entrances as protests sprawled onto the floor while chanting, “Stop shopping and join the movement.”

The protest prompted authorities to close the mall for about an hour. Similar protests were being held in several states.

From the Los Angeles Times, covering just up the tracks form Casa esnl:

Some Bay Area train service restored after Ferguson protest shuts station

Partial train service to San Francisco was restored after authorities arrested protesters angry over the Ferguson, Mo., grand jury decision who forced the closure of a Bay Area Rapid Transit station in West Oakland, triggering delays across the region’s busy rail system, officials said Friday.

About 15 to 25 protesters – who appear to be part of a nationwide movement using the social media hashtag #BlackLivesMatter – chained themselves to a train at the station, said BART spokeswoman Alicia Trost.

The protest caused “major delays systemwide,” she said.

Eventually authorities removed a handrail from the BART train and arrested demonstrators, officials said. Though partial service to San Francisco was restored, only one of the two station’s platforms are now open to passengers.

More from the Oakland Tribune:

West Oakland BART shut down by protesters

More than 100 demonstrators opposed to recent police killings of black males, including some protesters who chained themselves together inside trains, shut down the West Oakland BART station for more than two hours Friday, stopping service to and from San Francisco.

Fourteen protesters were arrested for interfering with a railroad operation and trespassing and hundreds of passengers had to use AC Transit buses and other means of transportation to get to San Francisco, officials said.

The well-organized and peaceful protest began about 10:30 a.m. at the station. Abut 100 protesters gathered outside the station in what they called a “healing circle,” chanting, singing, praying and handing out fliers about why they were there.

From the Guardian, striving for crepe soles on jackboots:

Labour seeks checks and balances for fast-track counter-terror laws

  • Opposition’s concerns over security bill focus on powers to seize passports of terror suspects and temporary exclusion orders

The official opposition’s concerns over home secretary Theresa May’s sweeping new counter-terrorism and security bill centre on the proposed powers to seize passports of terror suspects travelling to Iraq and Syria and over the introduction of temporary exclusion orders on those who want to return to Britain.

Their concern follows reservations from the official terror laws watchdog, David Anderson QC, over the lack of any judicial check on the use of temporary exclusion orders that can last up to two years. “The concern I have about this power and the central concern about it is: where are the courts in all of this?” he told parliament’s joint human rights committee.

Anderson also raised concerns about the need for compulsory de-radicalisation programmes to be introduced for returning jihadists and those at risk of being drawn into extremism in Britain and said there was an issue of academic freedom involved in the proposal for ministers to force universities to ban extremist speakers.

From TheLocal.de, German spooks, making exceptions:

BND spied on Germans living abroad

The Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND), Germany’s foreign intelligence service, spied on some citizens living abroad, a former lawyer for the spies told MPs on Thursday.

Dr Stefan Burbaum, who worked at the BND from 2000 to 2005, said that some Germans were targeted as “office holders”, a legal loophole the spies used to circumvent the law that protects Germans citizens from being spied on by its own intelligence agency.

Normally, the intelligence agencies must overcome high legal hurdles laid out in the so-called “G10 law” to spy on German citizens, including when they live abroad.

BBC News covers Austrian apprehensions:

Austria arrests 13 suspected jihadi recruiters for Syria

Police in Austria have arrested 13 people suspected of radicalising young people and recruiting them to fight in Syria, prosecutors say.

Reports in the Austrian media said 500 police were involved in searches at mosques, flats and prayer rooms in Vienna and the cities of Linz and Graz. Authorities also seized “terrorist propaganda material”, prosecutors said.

It comes amid a European crackdown on fighters who have joined jihadist forces in Syria and Iraq.

From the Guardian, a phenomenon of distance:

Support for Isis stronger in Arabic social media in Europe than in Syria

  • Analysis of 2m online posts found those originating in Europe were more favourable to Isis than those from frontline of conflict

Support for Islamic State (Isis) among Arabic-speaking social media users in Belgium, Britain, France and the US is greater than in the militant group’s heartlands of Syria and Iraq, a global analysis of over 2m Arabic-language online posts has found.

In what is understood to be the first rigorous mass analysis of those for and against the world’s largest jihadist organisation, Italian academics found that in a three-and-a-half month period starting in July, content posted by Arabic-speaking Europeans on Twitter and Facebook was more favourable to Isis than content posted in those countries on the frontline of the conflict.

In Syria, Isis appears to be dramatically losing the battle for hearts and minds with more than 92% of tweets, blogs and forum comments hostile to the militants who have rampaged through the east of the country and western Iraq, seizing large tracts of territory and declaring the establishment of a religious state.

From the McClatchy Washington Bureau, twice victimized:

Former al Qaida hostage recounts nightmare – of dealing with FBI

The only thing as bad as being tortured for months as a captive of jihadists in Syria was dealing with the U.S. government afterward, according to one former American hostage.

Matt Schrier, 36, a freelance photographer held by extremists for seven months in 2013 until he escaped, has told McClatchy that the bureaucracy he endured upon his return home was a second kind of nightmare following the months of abuse he suffered while he was a hostage.

“I never thought it would get this bad,” Schrier said.

The FBI never told his father that he had been kidnapped. It waited six months into his capture to produce a wanted poster, and only after his mother prodded. It allowed jihadist forces to empty his bank account – $17,000 – with purchases on eBay, even as the government warned hostage families not to pay ransom so as not to run afoul of anti-terrorism laws.

After his escape, the government made him reimburse the State Department $1,605 for his ticket home just weeks after he arrived in the United States. The psychiatrist assigned to help him readjust canceled five appointments in the first two months. And when he had no

After the jump, Syrian hackers crack Western news sites, a Sino-American anti cyber-terror initiative, new malware infiltrates point-of-sale transactions, Danish cops bust illegal seller of mobile device spyware, China busts an exam spyware cheating ring, hackers claim a major haul from Sony, and airport raids target holiday ticket cybertheft, and back to non-digital crime with the good ol’ all-American lone wolf, Denver cops videoed beating hapless victims then seize the tablet and erase the video only to be foiled by the cloud, allegations of a murderous cabal of Thatcherite kiddie-diddling Members of Parliament, an anti-austerity nationwide general strike in Greece, 120+ killed in Nigerian mosque suicide bombing, Israel mulls a bounty on Arab citizenship surrender, privatized security booms in Latin America, Indian fundamentalists battle to censor the stage, an Indonesian fuel price rice fuels deadly disorder, China blasts U.S. missile defense system sale to Seoul while Russia sells air defense missiles to China, Beijing wages a Taiwan-focused conversion campaign, A Chinese writer tried for protesting media censorship, China pushes oilfield development in troubled waters, a Japanese paper folds on Comfort Women reportage, and Abe holds the line on remilitarization agenda while seeking a crisis containment system with Beijing. . . Continue reading