From the New York Times, a city on the brink:
Syria Border Town, Kobani, Falling to ISIS, Leader of Turkey Says
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey said Tuesday that the Syrian border town of Kobani, under siege from Islamic State fighters, was about to fall to the militants despite United States-led airstrikes on the group.
Asserting that aerial attacks alone may not be enough to stop the fighters’ advance, Mr. Erdogan called for more support for insurgents in Syria who are battling the Islamic State, and reiterated Turkey’s earlier call for a no-fly zone and a buffer zone along the border. Yet he stopped short of committing Turkey to any ground operation, something he has long said would require an international agreement and a no-fly zone.
His comments highlighted a key sticking point between Turkey and Washington: President Obama wants Turkey to take stronger action against the Islamic State, while Mr. Erdogan wants the American effort to focus more on ousting Syria’s president, Bashar al-Assad. Turkey has long supported the armed opposition to Mr. Assad.
One reaction, via Reuters:
French discussing Kobani action with Turks: minister
France said on Tuesday it was vital to act in order to stop Islamic State’s advance on the northern Syria border town of Kobani, and was discussing with Turkey what could be done.
“A lot is at stake in Kobani and everything must be done so that the Daesh terrorists are stopped and pushed back,” Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius told the French parliament.
“A tragedy is unfolding, and we must all react.”
And another reaction, via BBC News:
Kurds protest against Turkey as IS advances on Kobane
Kurds across Turkey have vented their anger at the government’s lack of military support for the defenders of the Syrian border town of Kobane being attacked by Islamic State militants.
Police used tear gas and water cannon as unrest spread to at least six cities. At least three protesters died.
Turkish troops and tanks have lined the border but have not crossed into Syria. Fresh US-led air strikes have tried to repel IS, but Turkey’s president warned Kobane was “about to fall”.
Kurdish protests weren’t limited to Turkey, as RT reports:
Kurds storm EU parliament, stage rallies across Europe demanding crackdown on ISIS
Dozens of Kurdish protesters have stormed into the European Parliament building in Brussels, demanding swift military action against militants from the Islamic State group to save the majority-Kurd Syrian town of Kobani from annihilation.
Another reaction, via the Guardian:
Battle between Isis and Syrian Kurds for Kobani sparks unrest in Turkey
- President Erdog(an says ground operation necessary to defeat militants as thousands protest over government’s inaction
Fighting between Kurdish forces and Islamic State (Isis) militants for the Syrian border town of Kobani fuelled rising tensions inside Turkey on Tuesday as thousands of protesters took to the streets to voice anger and frustration about the inaction of the Ankara government.
In a graphic illustration of the domestic and regional impact of the deepening crisis, demonstrations turned violent and Turkish police used teargas and water cannon. Curfews were imposed on several towns in the province of Mardin.
Following a warning from the Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdog(an, that Kobani was “about to fall”, one man was reported to have been killed by a bullet to the head in Varto in the eastern province of Mus when police allegedly fired live ammunition.
And from the Associated Press, a latest domestic terror alarm:
FBI: Militants may be working on plan to strike US
An al-Qaida cell in Syria that was targeted in American military airstrikes last month could still be working on a plan to attack the United States or its allies and is “looking to do it very, very soon,” the head of the FBI says. “Given our visibility we know they’re serious people, bent on destruction,” FBI Director James Comey said.
The Khorasan Group, a small but battle-hardened band of al-Qaida veterans from Afghanistan and Pakistan, was the target of U.S. strikes near Aleppo, Syria.
In an interview broadcast Sunday on CBS’ “60 Minutes,” Comey said the militants were “working and, you know, may still be working on an effort to attack the United States or our allies, and looking to do it very, very soon.”
Another one across the Atlantic, via BBC News:
Arrests ‘may have foiled terror attack planning in UK’
Four men have been arrested in London as part of an investigation into Islamist-related terrorism, Scotland Yard has said.
Whitehall officials told the BBC the arrests “may have foiled the early stages” of a plan to attack the UK. The four men, aged 20 and 21, were arrested on suspicion of being involved in the commission, preparation or instigation of terrorism.
Met Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe said it was a “quite serious case”.
And the latest from Japan via Kyodo News:
Man allegedly trying to join Islamic State planned trip Tues.: sources
A 26-year-old Japanese university student who police suspect planned to go abroad to join the Islamic State militant group as a “fighter” made a travel plan to leave Japan for Syria on Tuesday after giving up a trip in mid-August, investigative sources said.
The student, who is on a leave of absence from Hokkaido University and lives in Tokyo, was questioned Monday on a voluntary basis by the Metropolitan Police Department’s public security bureau, which also conducted a raid on several locations in Tokyo.
He is suspected of violating a Penal Code provision that stipulates punishment by imprisonment between three months and up to five years for a person preparing or plotting to wage war against a foreign state in a personal capacity.
From the Guardian, a revelation and a complication:
Syria discloses four secret chemical weapons facilities, UN says
- News raises concerns Islamic State could get hold of remaining stockpiles a year after UN joint mission set out to destroy them
Syria has declared four chemical weapons facilities it had not previously disclosed, a special representative of the United Nations secretary general told the security council on Tuesday. The news heightened concerns that the Syrian government has not been fully open about its chemical weapons program.
Diplomats said Sigrid Kaag told them during closed consultations that three of the facilities are for research and development and one is for production, and that no new chemical agents have been associated with the four sites.
The US ambassador to the UN, Samantha Power, tweeted: “Must keep pressure on regime so it doesn’t hide CW capability.”
And from the Express Tribune, more U.S. drone kills in Pakistan:
US drone strikes in North Waziristan kill at least eight suspected militants
Missiles from US drones hit a gathering of militants and a suspected training camp in North Waziristan in two separate attacks on Tuesday, killing at least 8 people, intelligence officials said.
Attacks by US drones have intensified in recent months after a pause in the first half of this year. Tuesday’s attacks mark the third and fourth drone strike in three days.
In the first attack, three missiles from the unmanned aircraft hit a suspected training camp in the Shawal area of North Waziristan just after midday, two intelligence officials told Reuters. Six suspected militants were reported killed and nine injured, they said.
In the second attack, missiles hit a gathering of militants on a mountain in the Datta Khel region in North Waziristan, killing two people and wounding at least four on Tuesday evening, said intelligence officials.
The Intercept covers a reaming from Rahm:
Panetta Says Rahm Emanuel Cussed Him Out for Cooperating With Torture Inquiry
Former CIA Director Leon Panetta, in his new book, describes being summoned to a White House meeting and cussed out by President Obama’s chief of staff after he agreed to give the Senate intelligence committee access to documents chronicling the agency’s use of torture during the Bush administration.
“The president wants to know who the fuck authorized this release to the committees,” Rahm Emanuel, who served as Obama’s chief of staff and enforcer in 2009 and 2010, is quoted as saying while slamming the table for emphasis.
Panetta’s book, Worthy Fights: A Memoir of Leadership in War and Peace, is a blunt account of his time as Obama’s CIA director and, later, Secretary of Defense.
He describes being micromanaged and second-guessed by White House aides who seemed focused on political appearance over substance. White House pushback on the Senate torture inquiry, which came despite Obama’s pledge to run the most transparent administration ever, is in that way typical – as is Emanuel’s profane tirade. (Emanuel, as I’ve written before, saw even the most deeply moral and legal decisions in purely political terms.)
The National Journal covers spooky litigation:
The FBI’s Secret Surveillance Program Is About to Go on Trial
The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals will hear a case this week that could have seismic implications for how the government spies on Americans.
A federal appeals court this week will review whether the government can secretly conduct electronic surveillance on Americans without first obtaining a warrant.
The case, to be brought before a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit on Wednesday, could have sweeping digital-privacy implications, and it represents one of the most direct challenges to the legal authority for government spying in the post-Snowden era. Many observers expect the case to ultimately reach the Supreme Court.
At issue is whether the FBI can use so-called national security letters, or NSLs, to compel companies to hand over communications data or financial records of certain users for the purposes of a national security investigation. These letters permit the FBI to collect telephone and Internet data of suspects without court approval and they often place a gag order on companies, which prevents them from disclosing the government order.
The Guardian another spooky suit:
Twitter lawsuit seeks right to inform users of US government surveillance
- Company cites first amendment right to free speech
- ACLU says Twitter ‘doing the right thing’
Twitter has filed a lawsuit against the US government in which it asks to be allowed to publish information about government surveillance of users, the company announced today.
In the suit, filed in the US district court of Northern California, Twitter requests “relief from prohibitions on its speech in violation of the first amendment”.
In a blog post, Ben Lee, Twitter’s vice-president, legal, said: “Our ability to speak has been restricted by laws that prohibit and even criminalise a service provider like us.”
Currently, he said, Twitter is restricted by law from disclosing the number of requests it receives for user data through either National Security Letters (NSLs) or Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court orders – “even if that number is zero”.
On to the hacking front, first with the Guardian:
Jennifer Lawrence denounces nude photo hack as a ‘sex crime’
- Actor says websites are responsible and that the theft and online publication of photos are ‘a sexual violation’
Oscar winner Jennifer Lawrence has called the theft and publication of nude photos of her a “sex crime” in the actor’s first public comments since dozens of nude celebrity photos werestolen by hackers.
“It is not a scandal. It is a sex crime,” Lawrence told Vanity Fair contributing editor Sam Kashner in an interview to promote new movie Serena. “It is a sexual violation. It’s disgusting.”
“The law needs to be changed, and we need to change. That’s why these websites are responsible. Just the fact that somebody can be sexually exploited and violated, and the first thought that crosses somebody’s mind is to make a profit from it. It’s so beyond me. I just can’t imagine being that detached from humanity. I can’t imagine being that thoughtless and careless and so empty inside.”
The Verge covers spooky evasion:
Surveillance drives South Koreans to encrypted messaging apps
- Millions of users have fled the country’s largest chat program after new crackdown on speech
Two weeks ago, Kakao Talk users in South Korea users got an unpleasant surprise. After months of enduring public criticism, President Park Geun-Hye announced a crackdown on any messages deemed as insulting to her or generally rumor-mongering — including private messages sent through Kakao Talk, a Korean messaging app akin to WhatsApp or iMessage. Prosecutors began actively monitoring the service for violations, promising punishment for anyone spreading inappropriate content.
In response to the crackdown, South Koreans have voted with their feet, heading en masse to encrypted chat programs hosted outside the country, particularly an app called Telegram known for its encryption features. Based in Germany, Telegram reports roughly 1.5 million new South Korean users have signed up in the past seven days, giving the app more than 50 million users worldwide. Telegram’s Markus Ra says it’s not the only country where government controls have made Telegram an attractive option. “People frequently come to Telegram looking for extra security — some of them from countries with censorship issues,” Ra says. “What really makes us happy is that the users stay when the privacy scandals have died away.”
Telegram offers an option for “secret chats” that use end-to-end encryption, which means that the company facilitates key exchange but doesn’t hold the keys itself and can’t decrypt any of the messages. Created by Russian-born entrepreneur Pavel Durov, the app’s offshore location makes legal compulsion much more difficult for South Korean prosecutors. Telegram’s South Korean user base is still just a fraction of Kakao’s 35 million users — the vast majority of cell-phone owners in South Korea — but the rapid growth shows how much privacy features can pay off in the face of high-profile censorship.
From the Associated Press, there’s an ap for that:
US investigators expand kid predator-catching app
An iPhone app designed to enlist the public’s help to catch fugitive and unknown suspected child predators led law enforcement officials to a suspect less than 36 hours after it became available. A year later, they are hoping to greatly expand their reach by making the app available in Android and Spanish versions, officials announced Tuesday.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations introduced the “Operation Predator” app for Apple products in Sept. 2013.
“This app is one piece of our commitment to ensuring child predators have absolutely nowhere to hide,” Acting ICE Director Thomas Winkowski said in a statement about the expansion.
From the Los Angeles Times, a victory in Ferguson:
Police in Ferguson can’t forbid protesters to stand still, judge rules
Officers in Ferguson, Mo., violated the Constitution by requiring peaceful protesters to keep moving rather than stand still during demonstrations that followed the Aug. 9 police shooting of an unarmed man, a federal judge said Monday.
U.S. District Judge Catherine D. Perry issued a preliminary injunction ordering Ferguson authorities not to adopt such a policy again. Perry emphasized that police are free to place reasonable restrictions on protests and “to use the full range of lawful means” to control and disperse crowds and to protect people from violence and vandalism.
The ruling stems from a lawsuit brought by Mustafa Abdullah, an ACLU worker, against St. Louis County and the superintendent of the Missouri Highway Patrol.
And from intelNews, curious:
Estonia arrests Russian ex-KGB intelligence officers
Authorities in Estonia have announced the arrest of two Russian citizens, said to be former employees of the Soviet-era KGB, who allegedly crossed into Estonian territory without a permit.
The men have been identified as Alexandr Ladur, 54, and Mikhail Suhoshin, 64, and are reportedly retired intelligence officers. Estonian border police said the two men were apprehended while sailing on the river Narva, which flows from Lake Peipsi into the Baltic Sea and forms part of the border between Estonia and Russia.
The two Russian citizens are being held on charges of illegally entering Estonian territory and resisting arrest.
After the jump, the latest on the Mexican student murders and the arrest of suspects in a congressional slaying, Morocco going to pot, Cold War 2.0 heats up both in the under and beneath the waves, an Indo/Pakistani border dispute turns violent, on to Hong Kong with fading protests as businesses grow restive and both sides agree to Friday talks, the two Koreas trade shots at sea, Japan seeks U.S. help in the Game of Drones against China, Japan pushes a submarine deal Down Under, Washington aims a jab at Japan over Comfort Women revisionism, and Taiwan launches its own submarine program. . . Continue reading