Category Archives: Governance

InSecurityWatch: War, fear, law, hacks, spies


Plus more murders in Mexico, and more. . .

First, a hint of things to come from Techdirt:

If GOP Takes Senate Next Week, Expect The CIA Torture Report To Disappear

  • from the bye-bye dept

We’ve heard some mumbling about one of the main reasons that the CIA has been dragging its feet on declassifying the executive summary of the CIA torture report that the Senate Intelligence Committee put together: it knows there’s a decent chance that the Republicans will win the Senate next week, and suddenly the report may disappear from view. As you may recall, the Intelligence Committee (with support from GOP Senators) voted to declassify the 480 page executive summary of the 6,300 page report (which the Senate spent $40 million putting together). Multiple leaks concerning the report have suggested that it’s devastating and details how terrible the CIA’s torture program was, how it was completely ineffective and how the CIA lied about it all.

But most of the support for releasing the report is coming from the Democrats on the Senate Intelligence Committee, led by Dianne Feinstein (who sides with the NSA on plenty of stuff, but is more willing to challenge the CIA). But if the Republicans take the Senate next week, then the chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee will likely shift to Senator Richard Burr, who has made it quite clear that he’s on the CIA’s team and against the public interest.

“I personally don’t believe that anything that goes on in the intelligence committee should ever be discussed publicly,” Burr told reporters in March. “If I had my way, with the exception of nominees, there would never be a public intelligence hearing.”

On to the war zone with Homeland Security News Wire:

Foreigners from 80 countries are joining ISIS on “unprecedented scale”: UN

A report by the UN Security Council has warned that foreign jihadists are swarming into Iraq and Syria on “an unprecedented scale” and from countries that had not previously contributed combatants to global terrorism.

The report finds that 15,000 people have travelled to Syria and Iraq to fight alongside the Islamic State (ISIS) and other extremist groups. These volunteers come from more than eighty countries, the report states, “including a tail of countries that have not previously faced challenges relating to al-Qaeda.”

ISIS is estimated to have more than $1 million in daily revenues from oil smuggling operations alone. It controls territory the size of Texas in Iraq and Syria, a territory which is home to between five and six million people, a population the size of Finland’s. The UN reports says that ISIS’s treasury also benefits from up to $45 million in money from kidnapping for ransom.

From TheLocal.ch, another case of blowback?:

Swiss confirm European terror plot by three Iraqis

Swiss authorities confirmed on Friday that three Iraqis arrested in March are suspected of having planned a terrorist attack in Europe on behalf of the Islamic State group.

At the end of March, authorities “arrested three Iraqi citizens suspected of providing support to the criminal organization known as the Islamic State (Isis),” Switzerland’s attorney general said in a statement.

“They are thought to have been planning a terrorist attack in Europe,” the statement said.

Swiss news media reported the arrests at the end of September, saying Switzerland’s Federal Intelligence Service had been tipped off by a Western counterpart which intercepted the men’s phone calls.

Want China Times covers more trouble in China:

Xinjiang terrorists planning attack on Beijing APEC summit: report

Terrorists from northwest China’s Xinjiang Uyghur autonomous region are rumored to be planning an attack on the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Beijing next month, reports Hong Kong’s Oriental Daily.

Though there has been no confirmation of a suspected terrorist plot from official Chinese channels, it is rumored that the terrorists have already infiltrated north China’s Hebei province, which encircles Beijing, with the intent of striking domestic and foreign leaders attending the summit. The report did not specify what kind of attacks were being planned or how they might be carried out amid the intense security.

The Hebei provincial government has reportedly mobilized 1.5 million security volunteers, including 100,000 students from 15 military schools, the special police and armed police, to begin an intensive search of local households to check for suspicious individuals and items in the lead up to the event.

The searches will reportedly be carried out under the guise of checking household water meters.

The ongoing war in a familiar venue from the Express Tribune:

Fresh offensive in Khyber Agency displaces thousands

Over 150,000 people have fled from Khyber Agency after the military launched a fresh offensive against militants, officials said Friday.

Pakistan launched an operation in Khyber agency in mid-October against militants who had taken a sanctuary there after fleeing strongholds in North Waziristan where the military had launched a large-scale operation against them in mid-June.

“Since October 13, 171,559 people have moved from Khyber to Peshawar and Kohat,” tribal disaster management department spokesperson Haseeb Khan told AFP, referring to two cities that border the tribal region.

Khan said that a few of the displaced people had chosen to stay at government-run camps while most of them were staying with relatives.

Over a million people had fled flighting in North Waziristan when the army began their offensive against militants in June, codenamed Zarb-e-Azb.

From Vocativ, time for a scare:

NYPD: Terrorists Could Slap Guns or Bombs on Drones

There are plenty of respectable reasons why New Yorkers might not want drones hovering around office buildings and apartment complexes. First of all, it’s creepy. Second, if one should come crashing down to the street, it could potentially kill someone.

But the newest drone paranoia comes from the New York Police Department, which says drones might be used by terrorists.

This week, the NYPD’s deputy chief, Salvatore DiPace, told CBS that the country’s largest police force is concerned that terrorists might use drones in an attack on the city. “We look at it as something that could be a terrorist’s tool,” he said. “We’ve looked at some people that have jury-rigged these drones to carry guns, to carry different types of explosives if they wanted to; there’s just so many possibilities that we’re very worried about.”

More scare-mongering from News Corp Australia:

Threat to attack Australian teachers posted on jihadist forum

JIHADISTS are encouraging attacks on Australian teachers working abroad, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has advised expatriates.

DFAT on Friday night updated its terror threat advice in light of an online forum post, which urged attacks against teachers at international schools around the world.

However, DFAT says it’s not aware of any specific information to suggest an attack is being planned.

“A recent posting on a jihadist forum website encouraged attacks against teachers, including Australian teachers, at international schools around the world,” the advice said.

Legislative overstretch from the London Telegraph:

Sharia law or gay marriage critics would be branded ‘extremists’ under Tory plans, atheists and Christians warn

  • New Extremism Disruption Orders would class secularists or evangelical Christians alongside Islamic state or Boko Haram, campaigners claim

Anyone who criticises Sharia law or gay marriage could be branded an “extremist” under sweeping new powers planned by the Conservatives to combat terrorism, an alliance of leading atheists and Christians fear.

Theresa May, the Home Secretary, unveiled plans last month for so-called Extremism Disruption Orders, which would allow judges to ban people deemed extremists from broadcasting, protesting in certain places or even posting messages on Facebook or Twitter without permission.

Mrs May outlined the proposal in a speech at the Tory party conference in which she spoke about the threat from the so-called Islamic State – also known as Isis and Isil – and the Nigerian Islamist movement Boko Haram.

But George Osborne, the Chancellor, has made clear in a letter to constituents that the aim of the orders would be to “eliminate extremism in all its forms” and that they would be used to curtail the activities of those who “spread hate but do not break laws.”

After the jump, a common sense no-fly ruling, a Seal headed for prosecution, a pirate imprisoned for hacking, no Fifth Amendment protection for fingerprint-locked electronics, the latest on those missing Mexican students as cops are linked to murdered Americans in Mexico, as Western troops lead Afghanistan Chinese money moves in, a nuclear edge emerges in inter-Korean tension, American base polarizes Okinawan politics, and pressure from the right leads to World War II academic amnesia in Japan. . . Continue reading

EnviroWatch: Disease, drought, pollution


And nukes. . .

First, two horsemen ride together, via AllAfrica:

Nigeria Violence Pushes Refugees and Cholera Across Borders

West Africa is struggling to control a cholera outbreak that has spread from Nigeria to nearby countries, exacerbated by insecurity and waves of refugees fleeing an Islamist insurgency in the country’s north, aid agencies said.

Some 33,000 people in Nigeria and thousands more in neighbouring nations have contracted the disease, which has been overshadowed by an Ebola outbreak in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, medical charity Medecins sans Frontieres (MSF), said.

Cholera is an acute diarrhoeal illness caused by a bacteria that can cause rapid dehydration and death. Its victims are frequently infected through the ingestion of water and food contaminated by human faeces.

And a parallel warning from Médecins Sans Frontières:

Ebola in Liberia – Malaria must be treated too

Every year, malaria claims victims in Liberia. The disease is endemic there. However, with the Ebola epidemic, it has become very difficult, if not impossible, to obtain treatment. In response, MSF has begun distributing antimalarials in Monrovia. Approximately 300,000 people living in the capital’s poor neighborhoods will benefit.

On October 25, MSF’s teams began distributing antimalarials in the western part of Liberia’s capital city. This distribution is taking place in the poorest neighborhoods, where population density is very high and where access to care, which was already very limited before the Ebola epidemic, barely exists any longer.

To address the collapse of the health care system, MSF is distributing
antimalarials to 300,000 people in Monrovia. This treatment – artesunate and amodiaquine – is intended for children over the age of six months, but also for adults.

Another outbreak across the Indian Ocean from Vice News:

Amid Talk of Ebola, Australia Is Apparently Silencing Discussion of Tuberculosis Threat

While health officials across the world work overtime to contain the Ebola outbreak, another deadly disease long forgotten in the developed world is making a comeback in the Pacific: tuberculosis. But it appears that some authorities in Australia would prefer that the public not hear much of this.

“I listen to everything that’s going on with Ebola, but we have a crisis right on our front door,” Warren Entsch, an Australia legislator from the Far North Queensland electorate of Leichhardt, told VICE News.

The “front door” Entsch has in mind is the narrow passage of water between Papua New Guinea and Australia known as the Torres Strait. Papua New Guinea has the highest infection rate of tuberculosis outside of Africa — every two hours, a Papua New Guinean dies of the disease.

Mother Jones covers drought in the Golden State:

Scary maps show how bad California’s water shortage is

Just how bad is California’s water shortage? Really, really bad, according to these new maps, which represent groundwater withdrawals in California during the first three years of the state’s ongoing and epochal drought:

BLOG Drought maps

The maps come from a new paper in Nature Climate Change by NASA water scientist James Famiglietti. “California’s Sacramento and San Joaquin river basins have lost roughly 15 cubic kilometers of total water per year since 2011,” he writes. That’s “more water than all 38 million Californians use for domestic and municipal supplies annually—over half of which is due to groundwater pumping in the Central Valley.”

Famiglietti uses satellite data to measure how much water people are sucking out of the globe’s aquifers, and summarized his research in his new paper.

More than 2 billion people rely on water pumped from aquifers as their primary water source, Famiglietti writes. Known as groundwater (as opposed to surface water, the stuff that settles in lakes and flows in streams and rivers), it’s also the source of at least half the irrigation water we rely on to grow our food. When drought hits, of course, farmers rely on groundwater even more, because less rain and snow means less water flowing above ground.

And from Reuters, another drought far to the south:

Sao Paulo struggles with worst drought in 80 years

Program notes:

Residents of Sao Paulo struggle in worst drought seen in 80 years as one resident complains “A shower, a proper shower… nobody has that anymore.” Deborah Lutterbeck reports.

The Independent covers a major loss:

UN report: Climate change has permanently ruined farmland the size of France

The report, written by the United Nations University, highlights large areas of farmland in arid and semi-arid parts of the world, such as the south west of the US and Australia, which are suffering from a combination of heavy irrigation and poor to non-existent drainage systems. As a result, a thick crust of salt is forming across much of the world, which is costing £17bn a year in lost crop production in regions including China, India and Pakistan.

Water used for irrigation contains varying quantities of salt, which, in the absence of a good drainage system, is left behind when the water evaporates.

The effect can be intensified by groundwater – which also contains salts – and which rises to the surface as the water table rises following irrigation without drainage. In other words, drainage systems serve to flush the salt out of the ground by carrying it away from soil.

And the Guardian covers an ongoing planetary affliction:

Ozone hole remains size of North America, Nasa data shows

  • Antarctic hole in protective layer of gas stands around same level as 2010, 2012 and 2013, but scientists say recovery is on track

The Antarctic ozone hole, which was expected to reduce in size swiftly when manmade chlorine emissions were outlawed 27 years ago, is stubbornly remaining the size of North America, new data from Nasa suggests.

The hole in the thin layer of gas, which helps shield life on Earth from potentially harmful ultraviolet solar radiation that can cause skin cancers, grows and contracts throughout the year but reached its maximum extent on 9 September when monitors at the south pole showed it to cover 24.1m square km (9.3m sq miles). This is about 9% below the record maximum in 2000 but almost the same as in 2010, 2012 and 2013.

But scientists remain unsure why the hole has not reduced more since the Montreal Protocol agreement was signed by countries in 1987.

The Japan Times covers a toxic legacy from another war:

Japan, U.S. accused of failing Okinawa residents, veterans allegedly sickened by Agent Orange

A journalist who has documented the alleged existence of Agent Orange on Okinawa has accused Tokyo and Washington of side-stepping their responsibilities to local residents and military personnel who may have been exposed to the toxic defoliant.

Jon Mitchell, a research associate at Meiji Gakuin University’s International Peace Research Institute, said the Japanese government has failed to investigate whether military toxins contaminated local seafood farms, and U.S. authorities have dodged the truth about what happened to the more than 250 veterans who reported ill health.

“These people, they deserve better. These people deserve justice,” Mitchell told a press conference Thursday at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan in Tokyo. He was speaking on the day a Japanese translation of his book on the subject hit the stores.

And from Newsweek, an ongoing toxic legacy:

Calls to Ban Toxic Chemicals Fall on Deaf Ears Around the World

When Denis Bibeyran was diagnosed at the age of 47 with bile tract cancer – a rare form of the disease usually found in men at least 20 years older than him – his sister Marie put it down to bad luck. Around the vineyards of Bordeaux, where they lived and worked, cancer among men his age was common and cancer of the bile tract not particularly unusual.

In 2010, less than 18 months later, Marie Bibeyran’s seven-year-old daughter started puberty. By the end of the year, her breasts had developed to a size normally associated with girls twice her age. Soon after her period started but her physical growth slowed almost to a standstill. Doctors diagnosed a classic case of precocious puberty, a hormonal disorder that causes early sexual development – unusual in otherwise healthy young girls, but not unheard of.

Referred to collectively as endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs), they act by -tampering with the hormonal system. Over the past two decades, a flurry of scientific studies from around the world has shown them to cause problems very similar to the kind she was seeing in her brother and her daughter.

EDCs are everywhere, found in cosmetics, preservatives, medicines and countless household products such as shampoos and toothpaste, which are used every day by billions of people across the world. Some, such as the pesticide DDT and the “anti-miscarriage” medication DES, were banned years ago, leaving a legacy of health and environmental problems in their wake. Many others are still in use, though exactly how many no one knows.

Now, for the first time anywhere in the world, the Europe Union (EU) is attempting to regulate endocrine disrupting chemicals, setting down criteria to define, identify and, where necessary, ban EDCs. Already, this is sending shockwaves through boardrooms across the world because companies selling their goods in Europe will be forced by law to comply. Everyday goods may be taken off the market; industry could lose -billions. The emphasis is on the word “could” because the fightback has already begun. Already a year over deadline, the procedure has finally gone to public consultation, where it has met with uproar.

And another legacy of fossil fuel hunger from the Ecologist:

Lugworms suffer toxic impact of acidifying oceans

A common marine worm has alerted scientists to the likelihood that the effects of ocean acidification may be more widespread and severe than they had realised.

The lugworm (Arenicola marina) – common on the coasts of Europe and North America, where it can grow to 30 cms in length and is a bait popular with anglers – is being affected by rising levels of acid in the coastal seas. The acid is also reported to be affecting sea urchins.

This is further confirmation that ocean acidification is affecting species other than those that scientists call calcifying organisms – creatures that rely on calcium carbonate to form shells and similar structures.

The worm is also an important prey species for seabirds and waders that feed on coastal and estuarine mudflats. Any substantial reduction in lugworm numbers could seriously affect the birds that depend on it and wreak havoc on entire ecosystems.

And another toxic legacy from the Times of India:

Warren Anderson died unpunished, survivors of Bhopal gas tragedy say

Organizations working for welfare of survivors of the 1984 Bhopal gas tragedy on Friday alleged that former Union Carbide Chairman Warren Anderson died unpunished due to protection by the US government and deliberate negligence of Indian government in bringing him to justice.

The organizations held a meeting in front of the defunct factory of Union Carbide here after news of the death of Anderson spread.

“Due to the protection offered by the US government and deliberate negligence of Indian government in bringing Anderson to justice, the world’s worst corporate criminal died unpunished,” said a joint release issued by them on Friday.

The former chief of Union Carbide Corporation, who was wanted in India for the tragedy which claimed more than 3,000 lives in one of the world’s most lethal industrial accidents, died in the US state of Florida, aged 92.

And yet another toxic affliction from Frontera NorteSur:

Tijuana Border Dump Generates More Controversy

An old landfill in the northern Mexican border city of Tijuana continues drawing binational scrutiny. In a recent meeting, San Diego City Councilman David Alvarez expressed concern to a Mexican counterpart that the closed El Jibarito dump site could endanger public health on both sides of the border.

Felipe Ledezma, Tijuana city council member and president of the elected body’s environmental commission, said the possible run-off of contaminants from the dump in the direction of Playas de Tijuana and Imperial Beach in neighboring San Diego County was raised as an issue of concern.

Beach pollution is among numerous environmental hazards traced to El Jibarito. Situated adjacent to several working-class neighborhoods, El Jibarito was closed in 2002 but reopened in late 2013 by a private company operating under the new name Norbac until it was closed for business again last month. The waste facility has long been the target of protests waged by neighbors and the Agape group.

Activists have documented 800 cases of sick people, mainly women and children, who’ve experienced allergies, cancers, reproductive disorders, birth defects, respiratory problems, and anencephaly, a condition in which a baby is born without parts of the brain and skull.  Local residents blame the ailments on the dump.

After the jump, an Antarctic sanctuary sunk, frack-tious politics to get really dirty, on to Japan and raisin’ the root for Fuksuhimapocalypse Now!, assurance of non-radioactive rice, moving forward on restart of yet another Japanese nuclear power plant, an environmental lawsuit over an American nuclear complex, and aFrench nuclear plants droned again. . . Continue reading

EbolaWatch: Numbers, panic, law, & Africa


Always Africa, the latest headlines from the hot zone press — including gay-blaming — after the jump. . .

First, the latest numbers from Reuters:

Ebola death toll rises, fewer cases in Guinea than thought – WHO

The Ebola epidemic has killed 4,951 people out of 13,567 infected in eight countries, the World Health Organisation said on Friday, slightly revising downwards its figures for cases mainly due to “suspected cases in Guinea being discarded”.

The toll reflects a rise of 31 deaths since the United Nations agency reported its previous figures on Wednesday, while the number of overall cases fell by 136.

“Of the eight Guinean and Liberian districts that share a border with Cote d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast), only one in Guinea is yet to report a confirmed or probable case of Ebola virus disease,” the WHO warned in the statement.

The epidemiological curve from the European Centre of Disease Prevention and Control [click on the image to enlarge]:

BLOG Ebola curve

And from intelNews, an Ebolahobic Islamaphobe’s worst nightmare:

Are militant groups interested in weaponizing Ebola?

Does the Ebola epidemic present militant groups, such as the Islamic State or al-Qaeda, with the opportunity to weaponize viruses and direct them against Western targets? Earlier this month, United States Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson dismissed in strong terms the possibility that Ebola would be used by Islamic State militants to attack American targets.

Speaking to the Association of the United States Army, Johnson acknowledged that the Islamic State is a “very, very dangerous terrorist organization”, but added that his Department had seen “no specific credible evidence that [the Islamic State] is attempting to use any sort of disease or virus to attack” the US.

A few days earlier, however, Forbes magazine had quoted Al Shimkus, Professor of National Security Affairs at the US Naval War College, as saying that the Ebola outbreak presented Islamist groups with the opportunity to use a low-tech bioterrorist weapon “to attempt to wreak strategic global infection”. Shimkus added that a group like the Islamic State wouldn’t even have to weaponize the virus’ it could “simply use human carriers to intentionally infect themselves in West Africa, then disseminate the deadly virus via the world’s air transportation system”, he said.

On Wednesday, a senior Spanish official told a parliamentary committee in Madrid that the government of Spain was “taking seriously” discussions in Internet forums linked to the Islamic State about using biological weapons against the West.

From Military Times via USA Today, militarizing the domestic response:

U.S. military to train more Ebola response teams

The U.S. military will train more medical personnel to respond to domestic cases of Ebola should they occur, a senior Defense Department official said Thursday.

Plans are under way to form more military Ebola medical response teams similar to the 30-member group that completed training this week at San Antonio Military Medical Center, Fort Sam Houston, Texas.

The official said the Pentagon is anticipating a request from the Health and Human Services Department for more medical personnel who would respond on short notice to civilian medical facilities should they need help treating Ebola patients.

And from Voice of America, as predicted in yesterday’s EbolaWatch:

Lawmaker Blasts US Participation in Cuba Ebola Meeting

One of Washington’s most vocal opponents of the Castro brothers’ regime in Cuba has blasted the U.S. decision to attend an Ebola conference in Havana this week.

Representative Mario Diaz-Balart called the participation of a mid-level official from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the two-day multinational meeting “a disgrace.”

The United States has no official diplomatic relationship with the Communist island nation.

Dr. Nelson Arboleda, Director of CDC’s Guatemala office and Regional Programs, represented the CDC at the conference that ended Thursday.

“It’s been a very rich technical experience in which we’ve learned all the different plans of all the different countries and that helps us, as a bloc, identify the needed areas to be better prepared in our region,” said Arboleda.

From the Los Angeles Times, cool on the coast:

Most voters not worried about Ebola threat in California

Despite an onslaught of news bulletins and some missteps in the nation’s response, a majority of California voters are unfazed by the Ebola threat and confident government officials and medical workers are prepared to handle outbreaks, a new USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times poll has found.

Nearly 70% of respondents in the statewide survey indicated they weren’t particularly concerned about encountering the deadly virus.

Thirty percent of registered voters said they were very or somewhat worried that they or someone in their family would be exposed to the virus. Those fears were most pronounced among Latinos, nearly half of whom said they were at least somewhat worried about Ebola exposure, the poll found.

At the same time, more than half of all respondents said they had a great deal or a fair amount of confidence that local, state and federal officials will be able to deal with Ebola, with nearly 70% expressing similar faith in local hospitals and doctors.

A legal rebuff from the New York Times:

Maine Judge Rejects Ebola Quarantine for Nurse

Less than a day after restricting the movements of a nurse who treated Ebola victims in West Africa, a judge in Maine has lifted the measures, rejecting arguments by the State of Maine that a quarantine was necessary to protect the public.

Within an hour of the decision, state troopers who had been parked outside the nurse’s house for days had left.

The order, signed on Friday by Judge Charles C. LaVerdiere, the chief judge for the Maine District Courts who serves in Kennebec and Somerset counties, said the nurse, Kaci Hickox, “currently does not show symptoms of Ebola and is therefore not infectious.”

The order requires Ms. Hickox to submit to daily monitoring for symptoms, to coordinate her travel with state health officials, and to notify them immediately if symptoms appear. Ms. Hickox has agreed to follow the requirements.

One key detail from the Guardian:

Maine nurse can leave home but must maintain 3ft distance from others, court rules

  • State obtains temporary court order forcing Kaci Hickox to follow CDC’s Ebola guidelines, but Hickox will not be subject to home quarantine

The predictable from Reuters:

Judge’s rejection of nurse quarantine ‘unfortunate’: Maine governor

Maine Governor Paul LePage said on Friday it was unfortunate that a judge rejected the state’s attempts to impose a strict quarantine on an American nurse who treated Ebola patients in West Africa, but said he will abide by the ruling.

The ruling appeared to end a stand-off between the state and the nurse, Kaci Hickox, who had defied officials by leaving her house and going for a bike ride.

“The judge has eased restrictions with this ruling. And I believe it is unfortunate,” LePage said in a statement. “However, the state will abide by law.”

And an exercise in self-control from the Associated Press:

US Ambassador Says She’s Monitoring for Ebola

The U.S. ambassador who just returned from the three West African countries worst hit by Ebola said Friday she’s self-monitoring for the virus like anyone else.

Samantha Power, the envoy to the United Nations, has been openly critical of the quarantine restrictions that some U.S. states have struggled to put in place as fear spreads over the worst outbreak of the disease in history.

She described herself as “low-risk” and said she had not gone into Ebola treatment units while visiting Liberia, Sierra Leona and Guinea. Now, following federal guidelines, she checks her temperature and calls health authorities twice a day. She also didn’t hesitate to shake hands Friday.

Another exercise in exclusion from the London Telegraph:

Ebola: Oxford academic banned from US conference

  • Piero Olliaro told he will be confined to New Orleans hotel room

An Oxford academic has had to pull out of a conference on Ebola and tropical diseases in New Orleans after being told he would be confined to his hotel room.

Piero Olliaro, a visiting fellow at Lincoln College, Oxford, was due to present several papers on research he had been doing on malaria and river blindness.

But Dr Olliaro, who is a senior figure at the World Health Organisation Special Programme Research and Training in Tropical Diseases, has fallen foul of Louisiana’s strict quarantine rules.

He is one of around a dozen experts who have had to withdraw from the conference – the world’s biggest on tropical diseases – because of Louisiana’s strict quarantine rules.

A Spanish patient’s lament from El País:

Ebola nursing assistant: “I don’t want any interviews, I want my dog back!”

  • Teresa Romero speaks on the phone with her husband about their euthanized pet

Thursday was a day of tears and rage for Teresa Romero, the Spanish nursing assistant who became the first Ebola transmission case outside Africa.

The first cause for anger is her dog, Excalibur, which was put down while she remained in intensive care at Carlos III Hospital in Madrid. Romero found out what had happened several days ago from her husband, Javier Limón, who was himself kept in isolation for 21 days because of the risk that he might have contracted the virus through contact with her.

Romero remains isolated at the hospital despite being officially free of Ebola after a second blood test came in negative for the virus. But one last test is being conducted before she is transferred to an ordinary ward to recover from the damage wrought by the virus, especially to her lungs.

Exclusionary excess from the Associated Press:

Ashes from Ebola victim’s apartment in limbo

It took a crew 38 hours to clear out the Dallas apartment where Thomas Eric Duncan was staying before he was diagnosed Sept. 30 with Ebola. Hazmat suit-clad workers piled shoes, carpets, mattresses, bed sheets, clothes and kids’ backpacks into 140 55-gallon drums. Only a few items were salvaged: a computer hard drive, legal documents, family photos, an old Bible belonging to Duncan’s grandmother.

The drums were packed, decontaminated and then carted away by Cleaning Guys environmental services employees. The contents were incinerated. But nearly a month later, the ashes sit in limbo at a facility in Port Arthur, Texas, according to Veolia North America, the company that owns the facility, as Louisiana officials fight to keep it out of a landfill there.

While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says incinerated Ebola waste poses no danger, Louisiana officials earlier this month asked a judge to block Duncan’s waste from entering the state, saying they wanted to determine for themselves that it was not dangerous. On Friday, state officials announced that Veolia has agreed to keep the ash out of the state’s landfill.

Another exclusionary exercise from the Canadian Press:

Canada won’t issue visas to residents of countries battling Ebola

Canada is following in Australia’s footsteps and is suspending visa applications for residents and nationals of the West African countries battling Ebola.

The federal government signalled it would stop issuing visas in the worker, student or visitor class and will not issue any pending permanent residency visas for people from those countries either. Any applications already in the system will also not be processed at this time.

The change, which goes into effect immediately, was announced Friday in the Canada Gazette.

A counterblast from BBC News:

UN chief defends returning Ebola aid workers

  • UN chief Ban Ki-moon says aid workers dealing with the Ebola crisis are “exceptional people”

UN chief Ban Ki-moon has said discrimination against aid workers who return home from the Ebola crisis in West Africa is “unacceptable”.

Strict quarantine rules are hampering aid efforts when more health workers are needed in order to deal with the crisis, he told BBC News in Nairobi.

International efforts have been insufficient but are now “catching up”, the UN secretary general added. “We have been really trying to mobilise in a massive way,” he said.

Japanese sharing from the Mainichi:

Gov’t to release flight info in cases of suspected Ebola infections

The government will release the flight information of any passengers suspected of being infected with the Ebola virus, under a new policy announced on Oct. 31.

Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Minister Akihiro Ota told reporters that under the new information dissemination policy, the government would be allowed to announce the flight number and the number of fellow passengers of those arriving in Japan suspected of being infected with Ebola. The person’s age bracket, gender and where they stayed during their trip could also be released.

Ota pointed out that information disclosure is a serious issue as airport staff and airline passengers are concerned about the spread of Ebola. The government would decide the timing of the announcement. The Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry will release the government’s final decision on the policy as early as next week.

The Diplomat mulls motivation:

South Korea’s Ebola Response

  • Are plans to send a team to two of the most afflicted countries in Africa driven by humanitarian or political motives?

Sub-Saharan Africa is increasingly within the political and economic sights of South Korean government strategy, a strategy designed to bring some measure of stability to South Korea’s fragile food and fuel supplies. Thus, the decision to send a medical team comprising civilian volunteers and military medics recruited by the Ministry of National Defense to help fight the devastating Ebola outbreak in western Africa could legitimately be viewed as something more than a response to an international plea for help. Rather, despite concerns for the team’s safety, it enhances the Park administration’s push to establish itself as a viable development partner for Africa over China or even North Korea.

This enhancement is arguably more pressing given the response by some sectors of the South Korean citizenry to the Ebola outbreak. It is also a useful offset to concern over the involvement of South Korean ships engaging in illegal fishing, which has driven a perception that South Korean engagement in the region is far from benevolent. According to a recent report, illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing has become a serious economic impediment in the region, with South Korea “increasingly being implicated as a lead villain in the growing controversy … (including) its role in dubious fishing policies in waters in East Africa and off the coast of Puntland.”

Designs for a Chinese screen from CCTV News:

Beijing holds drills to detect travelers with Ebola

On Thursday, Beijing authorities held an Ebola preparedness drill in which a subject had to be identified and quarantined in the quickest, safest manner. Thursday’s scenario involved an individual passing through the Beijing International Airport while being suspected of having the Ebola virus.

The subject was immediately quarantined and transferred to a designated hospital equipped with special facilities to treat and secure the suspected Ebola patient and the medical staff taking care of him/her.  According to procedure, following a preliminary check, the details of the case were reported to China’s disease control department.  Samples were taken and the patient continued to undergo monitoring.

Authorities say that the drill was performed to further familiarize hospitals with the procedures necessary for treating suspected Ebola cases that could show up at a hospital at any time.

And the accompanying video report:

Beijing holds drills to detect travelers with Ebola

Program notes:

On Thursday, Beijing authorities held an Ebola preparedness drill in which a subject had to be identified and quarantined in the quickest, safest manner. Thursday’s scenario involved an individual passing through the Beijing International Airport while being suspected of having the Ebola virus.

After the jump, it’s on to Africa, first with a new pledge from China, charges of failure to aid, an anti-exclusion plea from Nigeria, on to Liberia and a a new facility opens and challenges the Aussies, superpowered survivors, presidential confidence expounded while others take a less confident view of her, a video look at a burial detail, an official cremation espousal, and, finally, scapegoating gays from the pulpit. . . Continue reading

Chart of the day: Soaring public college inflation


From Demos:

BLOG College

InSecurityWatch: Spies, lies, hacks, laws, drones


And the deepening mystery of those missing Mexican college students, plus lots more. . .

We begin with the London Telegraph, and surely a wonderful thing — but in the hands of a police state, your worst nightmare:

Mind-reading device invented by scientists to eavesdrop on ‘inner voice’

  • Scientists at the University of California were able to pick up several words that subjects thought using a new mind-reading device

It might seem the stuff of science fiction, but a mind-reading device is being developed by scientists which can eavesdrop on your inner-voice.

Reseachers at the University of California, Berkeley, have developed a machine and computer programme which converts brain activity into sounds and words.

Speech activates specific neurons as the brain works interpret the sounds as words. Each word activates a slightly different set of neurons.

Now scientists have started to develop an algorithm that can pick up the activity and translate it back into words in the hope it might help people who are unable to speak.

The war de jour from the Washington Post:

Airstrikes against the Islamic State have not affected flow of foreign fighters to Syria

More than 1,000 foreign fighters are streaming into Syria each month, a rate that has so far been unchanged by airstrikes against the Islamic State and efforts by other countries to stem the flow of departures, according to U.S. intelligence and counterterrorism officials.

The magnitude of the ongoing migration suggests that the U.S.-led air campaign has neither deterred significant numbers of militants from traveling to the region nor triggered a spike in the rate of travel among Muslim populations inflamed by American intervention.

“The flow of fighters making their way to Syria remains constant, so the overall number continues to rise,” a U.S. intelligence official said. U.S. officials cautioned, however, that there is a lag in the intelligence being examined by the CIA and other spy agencies, meaning it could be weeks before a change becomes apparent.

More from the Independent:

Isis in Iraq: Army’s triumph at Jurf Al-Sakhar lays bare the cost of defeating the militants

On Tuesday, hundreds of militiamen trundled out of Jurf al-Sakhar in trucks and buses, handing over control of the town and outlying villages and farms to Iraqi security forces. As flatbed trucks carrying field artillery waited to move out, Humvees and bomb disposal vehicles burned in streets that the insurgents had laced with explosives.

In the town centre, the smell of death lingered in the air. The Shia forces could not remain in the area, militia commanders said, as their presence would spark accusations of sectarian killings.

Already revenge attacks have been reported. As a convoy of trucks blaring religious music from loudspeakers drove out of the town, the men in the trucks were jovial and flashed peace signs, but the decaying body of an alleged insurgent was being dragged behind.

CBC News covers the recruiting ground:

In Tunisia, democracy triumphs but troubles remain

  • Poster child for Arab democracy, Tunisia is also big source of recruits for ISIS

Today, Tunisia stands as the great Arab hope for democracy, the possible light in a region where the other Arab Spring countries have descended into civil war or military dictatorship.

Its parliamentary election this week — the second since the initial revolt — was notable for its transparency, and saw the more secular Nidaa Tounes party overtake the Islamist Ennahda party, which had been forced into a bi-partisan, unity government earlier in the year because of a long-running political crisis.

But with the swing of the democratic pendulum now comes the very real problems of governing.

“There are no jobs,” says Ayouni Nasreddine, an unemployed, 28-year-old university graduate who lives here. “That is why the revolution began in Sidi Bouzid. Many men are unemployed and have no money.”

And the Washington Post covers a domestic warning:

Pentagon security agency: Watch out for Islamic State attacks in the U.S.

Recent threats made against U.S. troops by the Islamic State call for vigilance, including varying routes to work, limiting social media activity and hiding Defense Department IDs while in public, according to a new warning from the agency that protects the Pentagon.

The warning was issued Oct. 24, and posted online by the Military Times newspaper chain Wednesday. It was issued by the Pentagon Force Protection Agency, a civilian-run organization in the Defense Department that is responsible for protecting occupants and visitors at the Pentagon and other facilities.

The Pentagon’s security warning referenced threats and recent attacks in Canada, Britain and France, and urges Department of Defense employees to exercise caution.

The latest drone strike from the Associated Press:

Drone strike kills 2 militants in NW Pakistan

Suspected U.S. drone-fired missiles struck a house early on Thursday in a restive tribal region in northwest Pakistan, killing two militants, officials said.

Two intelligence officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to media, said the missiles hit a house in Azam Warsak village in the South Waziristan tribal region.

The house, owned by a local tribesman, Ashraf Mahsud, was occupied by Arab militants affiliated with al-Qaida, the officials said but did not provide more details about those killed or the airstrike itself. Mahsud, who is known to be associated with Uzbek militants operating in other parts of the region, was not at the house at the time, the officials said.

According to one of the two officials, who is based in Wana, the main town of South Waziristan, most of the al-Qaida-linked foreign militants have left the tribal regions but some are still hiding in inaccessible pockets in the area.

From El País, citing the Bush doctrine in Spain:

Military court drops prosecution of soldiers who beat Iraqi prisoners

  • Judges suggest inmates may not have been protected by Geneva Conventions

A military court has decided it will no longer pursue the prosecution of five soldiers who were under scrutiny for allegedly abusing two prisoners at the Spanish base in Diwaniya, Iraq in 2004.

The servicemen, who are all current or former members of the elite military unit known as La Legión, were facing between 10 and 25 years in prison if found guilty, according to the Military Penal Code.

The case came to light in March 2013 when EL PAÍS released video footage showing three soldiers kicking two defenseless men inside a cell, under the watchful eyes of three other soldiers.

The suspects were a captain who now works at the National Intelligence Center (CNI), two corporals – one of whom is still with La Legión and the other with the Civil Guard – and two Civil Guards who were legionnaires at the time.

In a surprising interpretation, the court states that the Geneva Conventions on the protection of prisoners of war “in no way extends to terrorists” and that the victims of this particular crime could, in fact, be “the three alleged terrorists” who were transferred to the Diwaniya base on January 27, 2004 and thought to be involved in the mortar attack against Tegucigalpa Base, a US installation in Iraq.

The idea that the Geneva Conventions do not apply to alleged terrorists is nothing new. The doctrine was applied by former US president George W. Bush to justify the detention center in Guantánamo (Cuba). The US administration considered detainees in Iraq and Afghanistan “illegal enemy combatants” rather than prisoners, thus denying them the rights encoded in the conventions.

CBC News covers a high profile hack:

White House cyberattack confirmed by National Security Council

  • Officials declined to say who was suspected of launching attack

An attack by hackers on a White House computer network earlier this month was considered so sensitive that only a small group of senior congressional leaders were initially notified about it, U.S. officials said on Thursday.

The officials said the Democratic and Republican leaders of the Senate and the House of Representatives and the heads of the Senate and House Intelligence Committees, collectively known as the “Gang of Eight,” were told last week of the cyberattack, which had occurred several days earlier.

Security experts said this limited group would normally be informed about ultra-secret intelligence operations and notifying them of a computer breach in this way was unusual.

Bernadette Meehan, a spokeswoman for the National Security Council, said, “Consistent with sensitive intelligence matters, the director of the FBI notified congressional leadership and the chairs and ranking members of the intelligence committees.”

And from the Washington Post, a verdict:

Murky Pentagon contract to build silencers ends in guilty verdicts

A Navy intelligence official and a California hot-rod mechanic were found guilty Wednesday on federal conspiracy charges stemming from a mysterious scheme to manufacture hundreds of AK-47 rifle silencers for a secret military project.

Lee M. Hall, a civilian Navy intelligence official at the Pentagon, and Mark S. Landersman, the mechanic, were convicted of conspiring to build 349 untraceable silencers — without a firearms license — and shipping them across state lines for a sensitive mission that was never fully explained in court.

U.S. District Judge Leonie M. Brinkema, who delivered the verdicts after bench trials in Alexandria, said she was unconvinced by defense attorneys’ assertions that the silencers were needed for a clandestine purpose and were necessarily obtained outside of normal channels.

Another drone story from Deutsche Welle:

France investigates mystery drones over nuclear plants

France has launched an investigation into unidentified drones spotted over several of its nuclear plants. The incident has reignited the debate about nuclear safety.

Unidentified drones seen over several of France’s nuclear reactors in recent weeks prompted the French government to launch an investigation on Thursday.

“Measures are being taken to know what these drones are and neutralize them,” French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve told France Info Radio.

According to the state electricity company EDF, the unmanned aircraft were spotted over seven nuclear plants across the country between October 5th and October 20th, without any impact on the plants’ safety or functioning.

It is not known who was behind the mysterious flights. Aircraft are not permitted to fly within a 5-kilometer (3-mile) radius and an altitude of 1,000 meters (3,280 feet) over nuclear plants.

Aspirational from Jiji Press:

U.N. Panel Adopts Japan-Led Resolution on Nuclear Abolition

The U.N. General Assembly’s First Committee on Wednesday adopted a Japanese-led resolution confirming U.N. member states’ “determination” to take “united action” for the elimination of all nuclear weapons.

The U.N. panel on disarmament approved the resolution by a vote of 163 to one, with 14 abstentions. Among the proponents were the United States, Britain and France, while such nations as Russia, China, India and Pakistan abstained. The only dissident was North Korea.

The First Committee adopted such a resolution for the 21st straight year. A record 116 countries, including Japan, the United States and Britain, jointly sponsored the latest resolution, Japanese officials said.

Panopticon on the march from Al Jazeera America:

With FBI biometric database, ‘what happens in Vegas doesn’t stay in Vegas’

  • Agency officials defend police militarization and urge cops to adopt sophisticated technology to help identify suspects

The FBI has invested considerable energy in recent months in marketing a massive new biometric database to local cops, whom the agency will rely on to help feed it billions of fingerprints, palm prints, mug shots, iris scans and images of scars, tattoos and other identifiers.

But it took senior FBI consultant Peter Fagan just nine words this week to capture the ambitious scope of the agency’s aims with the new system, which is gradually replacing traditional fingerprint identification with facial recognition and other biometric identifier technology.

“What happens in Vegas doesn’t stay in Vegas anymore,” Fagan told a roomful of police executives at the annual International Association of Chiefs of Police Conference in Orlando on Tuesday.

He said that reaching the FBI’s goal of better tracking criminal suspects from town to town depends on local cops’ ability to adopt increasingly sophisticated new technologies and to share their data with federal law enforcement. He urged police to begin to “pack the record[s]” by collecting as many high-quality biometric identifiers from arrested criminal suspects as possible.

And the National Journal covers the QT:

The FBI’s Secret House Meeting to Get Access to Your iPhone

  • The administration argues that encryption is making it difficult for police to catch dangerous criminals

The Obama administration is ramping up its campaign to force technology companies to help the government spy on their users.

FBI and Justice Department officials met with House staffers this week for a classified briefing on how encryption is hurting police investigations, according to staffers familiar with the meeting.

The briefing included Democratic and Republican aides for the House Judiciary and Intelligence Committees, the staffers said. The meeting was held in a classified room, and aides are forbidden from revealing what was discussed.

It’s unclear whether the FBI is planning a similar briefing for Senate aides.

From the Intercept, imagine that!:

Secret Manuals Show the Spyware Sold to Despots and Cops Worldwide

When Apple and Google unveiled new encryption schemes last month, law enforcement officials complained that they wouldn’t be able to unlock evidence on criminals’ digital devices. What they didn’t say is that there are already methods to bypass encryption, thanks to off-the-shelf digital implants readily available to the smallest national agencies and the largest city police forces — easy-to-use software that takes over and monitors digital devices in real time, according to documents obtained by The Intercept.

We’re publishing in full, for the first time, manuals explaining the prominent commercial implant software “Remote Control System,” manufactured by the Italian company Hacking Team. Despite FBI director James Comey’s dire warnings about the impact of widespread data scrambling — “criminals and terrorists would like nothing more,” he declared — Hacking Team explicitly promises on its website that its software can “defeat encryption.”

The manuals describe Hacking Team’s software for government technicians and analysts, showing how it can activate cameras, exfiltrate emails, record Skype calls, log typing, and collect passwords on targeted devices. They also catalog a range of pre-bottled techniques for infecting those devices using wifi networks, USB sticks, streaming video, and email attachments to deliver viral installers. With a few clicks of a mouse, even a lightly trained technician can build a software agent that can infect and monitor a device, then upload captured data at unobtrusive times using a stealthy network of proxy servers, all without leaving a trace. That, at least, is what Hacking Team’s manuals claim as the company tries to distinguish its offerings in the global marketplace for government hacking software.

And they’re surprised? Via the Washington Post:

ICE twice breached privacy policy with license-plate database

After the Department of Homeland Security canceled a plan for broad law enforcement access to a national license-plate tracking system in February, officials established a policy that required similar plans be vetted by department privacy officers to ensure they do not violate Americans’ civil liberties.

Two months later, however, officials with DHS’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency bypassed the privacy office in purchasing a one-year subscription for a commercially run national database for its Newark field office, according to public contract data and department officials. In June, ICE breached the policy again by approving a similar subscription for its Houston field office. The database contains more than 2.5 billion records.

The policy was created after Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, who oversees ICE, canceled a solicitation that could have given ICE field offices across the country — more than 12,000 personnel — access to a national license-plate database.

From CNN, down and in:

Undercover sting: FBI agents posed as Internet repairmen

In sting operation last July, undercover FBI agents gained access to a hotel suite by disabling the hotel’s Internet, and then posing as Internet repair technicians.

Now one of the suspects who was charged in the sting is crying foul.

At Caesar’s Palace, a casino hotel on the Strip in Las Vegas, FBI agents deliberately cut off the Internet for a suite used by Paul Phua, a high-stakes gambler. Then, they showed up at the suite and made a bogus service call.

On their undercover video, you can hear the imposters asking their targets what the trouble is.

BuzzFeed covers dismay:

Senator Leahy Criticizes FBI For Creating Fake News Story

The letter comes after agents created a fake Associated Press article to nab a suspected school bomber in Seattle in 2007. This is the latest in a series of incidents in which cops have been criticized for pretending to be someone else.

Senator Patrick Leahy isn’t happy with feds pretending to be journalists online — even if they are going after dangerous suspects.

On Thursday, the Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee sent a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder asking him to review “all techniques involving federal law enforcement officials impersonating others without their consent.”

Leahy’s letter comes just days after the American Civil Liberties Union revealed that agents with the Federal Bureau of Investigation created a fake Associated Press article, as part of a 2007 operation to catch a potential school bomber.

After the jump, a Ferguson hack, and a massive hack of industrial vulnerabilities, malware in your magazine, credit card data theft refined, on to Mexico and those missing students starting with a violent protest at a gubernatorial manse, a presidential meeting fail, a mayoral resignation, global attention, and a parallel protest in Washington, violent dissent in Burkina Faso, an ominous declaration from Beijing, island-building by China and Vietnam in disputed waters, a Korean court hits a Japanese corporation with wartime reparations, and a French crackdown on creepy clowns. . . Continue reading

EbolaWatch: Politics, quarantines, Africa


But we begin with another aspect of the crisis from the World Food Program:

Ebonomics: The Price Of Keeping The Ebola Crisis From Becoming A Hunger Crisis

Program notes:

WFP’s Chief Economist Arif Husain visits West Africa to analyse how the outbreak affects the overall economy, particularly the food sector, and explains what types of assistance WFP is offering to different communities depending on their needs.

From Reuters, expectations:

Americans may still see some Ebola cases, Obama says

President Barack Obama said on Wednesday that Americans may continue to see individual cases of Ebola in the United States until the outbreak in West Africa is contained.

Obama said it was essential the United States and other countries work to stop the Ebola outbreak at its source in Africa.

Until the outbreak is stopped, he said, “we may still continue to see individual cases in America in the weeks and months ahead.”

“We can’t hermetically seal ourselves off,” he said at the White House.

From the Associated Press, impasse:

Maine in standoff with nurse over Ebola safeguards

Insisting she is perfectly healthy, nurse Kaci Hickox again defied the state’s Ebola quarantine Thursday by taking a bike ride with her boyfriend, and Maine health authorities struggled to reach a compromise that would limit her contact with others.

Hickox, 33, stepped out of her home on the remote northern edge of Maine for the second day in a row, practically daring authorities to make good on their threat to go to court to have her confined against her will. On Wednesday evening, she went outside for an impromptu news conference and shook a reporter’s outstretched hand.

By evening, it was unclear whether the state had gone to court or whether there had been any progress toward ending the standoff that has become the nation’s most closely watched clash between personal freedom and fear of Ebola. The governor’s office and Hickox’s lawyers would not comment.

More form the Los Angeles Times:

Maine fails to reach quarantine compromise with nurse Kaci Hickox

It’s the type of battle made for flinty New England, where personal liberty vs. the government’s interpretation of public good has been a frequent theme. A nurse, hailed by some as a hero for helping treat Ebola patients in Africa, has defiantly rejected the power of Maine officials seeking to quarantine her in the name of protecting the public from a virus that the healthcare worker insists she doesn’t have.

Maine health authorities so far have failed to reach a compromise with nurse Kaci Hickox that would require her to keep her distance from other people. Hickox has personified the closely watched clash between personal freedom and fear of Ebola since she arrived at Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey last Friday and found herself in quarantine.

Early Thursday, Hickox stepped out of her home in Fort Kent, at the remote northern edge of Maine, and took a bicycle ride with her boyfriend. It was the second time in as many days that Hickox had flouted the state’s rules that she stay away from the public until Nov. 10, the end of the 21-day incubation period for the Ebola virus.

Complications from Reuters:

In U.S. Ebola fight, no two quarantines are quite the same

In the U.S. battle against Ebola, quarantine rules depend on your zip code.

For some it may feel like imprisonment or house arrest. For others it may be more like a staycation, albeit one with a scary and stressful edge.

If they are lucky, the quarantined may get assigned a case worker who can play the role of a personal concierge by buying groceries and running errands. Some authorities are allowing visitors, or even giving those in quarantine permission to take trips outside to walk the dog or take a jog.

A month after the first confirmed case of Ebola in the United States, state and local health authorities across the country have imposed a hodgepodge of often conflicting rules.

Politics from CNN:

State Department denies it has a secret plan to admit foreign Ebola patients

The State Department discussed plans to transport non-U.S.citizens infected with Ebola to the United States for medical treatment, but decided to shelve the proposal and insists it was never considered at senior levels.

But Congressional Republicans are seizing on an internal State Department memo outlining a possible joint State-Homeland Security department program to provide Ebola care at U.S. hospitals for non-Americans. They say the memo is evidence the Administration was working on a new plan but wasn’t being transparent about it.

The memo, obtained by CNN, is labeled “SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED – PREDECISIONAL” and drafted by State Department officials. It recommends that the two federal agencies come up with a system to admit into the United States non-citizens “as long as they are otherwise eligible for medical evacuation from the Ebola affected countries and for entry in the United States.” It outlines the steps the U.S. government would need to take to contract with a commercial aviation company that specializes in bio containment. It also mentions other non-governmental agencies the U.S. is working with to assist with medevacing health care workers out of West Africa to European countries.

More of the political from the Washington Post:

Politicians fueling Ebola fear before midterms

Program notes:

Polling shows the public is worried about an Ebola outbreak in the U.S. — and politicians on both sides of the aisle are feeding into the fear, just weeks away from the midterm elections.

Strategizing from the Associated Press:

Nations in Americas join in battle against Ebola

Countries from around the Americas have agreed to work together in their response to Ebola, adopting similar procedures in such things as the establishment of epidemiological monitoring centers and coordinating the transport of biological samples.

About 200 epidemiology experts and health officials from 24 countries, including the United States and Canada, met in Havana on Wednesday and Thursday to discuss their response to the epidemic.

A document from the meeting lays out “lines of action” that the countries say they’ll follow to combat the disease.

And a walkout from the Contra Costa Times:

National Nurses Union plans strike to demand greater protections against Ebola

Stepping up demands to protect nurses from Ebola, the national nurses’s union said Thursday that nurses coast-to-coast are planning a National Day of Action on Nov. 12 that includes strikes at 21 Kaiser Permanente facilities in Northern California.

Zenei Cortez, co-president of the California Nurses Association, which is part of National Nurses United, said Kaiser nurses plan to strike Nov. 11-12.

When it comes to Ebola, “the message that nurses have been getting around the nation is that we are expendable,” said Deborah Burger, co-president of National Nurses United and president of the California Nurses Association. “At first there was shock, then anger — and now we want action.

“They don’t have the appropriate training and protection,” she said of nurses in her organization and nationwide, urging that hospitals provide nurses with hazmat suits, proper protective equipment and training to safeguard against Ebola. “These are human beings. We’re talking about our nurses that are heroes and take care of this country.”

Genetics from the Japan Times:

Ebola symptoms may hinge on gene functions: U.S., Japanese researchers

Ebola’s symptoms may differ depending on whether certain genes in the victim are active or not, a U.S.-based research team said in a paper published in Science magazine on Thursday.

The findings from experiments on mice are likely to help understand why Ebola manifests itself differently from one case to another. They may also aid the treatment of critical patients, the researchers said.

Led by Michael Katze of the University of Washington, the research team includes Japanese scientist Atsushi Okumura and members of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the U.S. National Institutes of Health.

More from the London Telegraph:

Ebola outbreak: Ebola may not be a deadly disease for everyone, scientists find

  • Researchers have found that natural immunity may exist to Ebola, after discovering that some animals get over the disease quickly, without major symptoms

Ebola may not be a deadly disease for everyone, after scientists discovered that some people are likely to be naturally immune to the virus.

A study in mice showed that genetic variations govern how ill victims will get after contracting the disease.

Some completely resist the disease, while others suffer only a moderate illness. However many still succumb to bleeding, organ failure and shock.

The research was conducted in a highly secure, state-of-the-art bio lab in Montana, US.

Researchers found that all mice lost weight in the first few days after infection. However, nearly one in five of the mice not only survived, but also fully regained their lost weight within two weeks.

The Los Angeles Times covers the seriocomic:

When an Ebola joke becomes a crime

An Ohio man was arrested and jailed after he told a dealer at a Cleveland casino that he was there, ha ha, to keep his distance from his ex, who had come back from Africa with Ebola.

The charge against Emanuel Smith:  “felony inducing panic.” Smith is alleged to have broken a law that in part bans “initiating or circulating a report of an alleged or impending fire, explosion, crime or other catastrophe, knowing that such report or warning is false.”

In Ohio, if a crack about Ebola causes a panic or costs a business money, you could face criminal charges.

Smith’s ex-wife, of course, didn’t have Ebola, but after the remark was reported to management, the casino cleared out the pit where he’d been gambling, which meant lost revenue, and according to the law in Ohio, the more money is lost by the “panic,”  the more serious the felony.

Another joke gone bad from RT:

‘Ebola’ coffee cup puts plane on lockdown at Dublin Airport

An unidentified man who scribbled an Ebola warning on a cup of coffee caused quite a stir on a Dublin-bound flight. After putting the plane on lockdown for nearly an hour in the Irish capital, authorities determined that it was all a hoax.

The incident occurred on Air Lingus Flight EI 433, which had set off from Milan on Thursday. Upon arriving in Dublin, passengers were held onboard for roughly 50 minutes until paramedics were able to investigate the matter.

“Following a minor security incident on board an Aer Lingus flight from Milan to Dublin, passengers were held on board the aircraft after it landed at Dublin Airport just before 1pm today,” a spokesperson for Dublin Airport Authority told the Irish Independent.

From USA TODAY, harkening to the days of the “Dark Continent”:

Ebola fears spark claims of racism in Europe

Italian mothers in suburban Rome recently organized a petition drive to keep a 3-year-old black girl from attending kindergarten after her family traveled to Uganda — a country thousands of miles away from the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.

In Germany, soccer fans chanted “Ebola, Ebola” when Charles Atsina, a black player from Ghana, came onto the field to play.

Two British landlords refused to rent an apartment to a black Sierra Leone radio newscaster, Amara Bangura, who was moving to England to study. The landlords feared he might bring the deadly virus with him.

As Americans debate quarantining health workers returning from Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone or banning travelers from those countries — as Australia has already done — fears of Ebola have also gripped Europe. And that fear is giving some people license to vent racist attitudes.

Entry not denied from Science:

Ebola researchers still welcome at European infectious diseases meetings

As ScienceInsider reported yesterday, the state of Louisiana has told researchers to stay away from the world’s biggest tropical medicine meeting next week if they have been in contact with Ebola patients in the past 21 days—or even if they’ve just visited Liberia, Guinea, or Sierra Leone, the three nations where the epidemic is raging. Many scientists object to the policy; the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene (ASTMH), which organizes the event, disagrees but accepts Louisiana’s decision, says incoming president Christopher Plowe.

But Ebola is a hot topic at many special sessions and late breakers these days. Are scientists who may have been exposed to the virus still welcome at other infectious diseases meetings? Here’s a quick sample.

People returning from West Africa are definitely expected, and are welcome, at the European Scientific Conference on Applied Infectious Diseases Epidemiology, held next week in Stockholm. Sweden currently does not have travel restrictions for people coming from affected countries, says a representative for the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), which organizes the event.

From Voice of America, a map of countries placing some restrictions on trvel from the hot zone:

BLOG Ebola travel

After a ban, back in the hot zone from FrontPageAfrica:

Back to Ebola Zone – Washington Post Duo –DuCille and Bernstein Return

Just days after he was barred from a teaching workshop class at Syracuse University over fears that he may have been infected with the deadly Ebola virus following his recent assignment to Liberia, Washington Post Photographer Michel duCille is heading back to the epicenter of the outbreak. DuCille, along with health reporter Lenny Bernstein will arrive in Monrovia Friday for a second assignment stint since the outbreak in March.

Michel DuCille, a three-time Pulitzer prize winning photographer received the shock of his life recently when he was disinvited by the university over fears that he had Ebola after covering the virus outbreak in Liberia, even though he is symptom-free and has been in the United States for more than the recommended incubation period. FrontPageAfrica’s Newsroom Chief Wade Williams received similar news the same day when she too was disinvited from a previously-arranged speaking engagement at the University of Georgia.

DuCille did not hide his disgust of the University’s decision to disinvite him when he told Time: “I am disappointed in the level of journalism at Syracuse, and I am angry that they missed a great teaching opportunity. Instead, they have decided to jump in with the mass hysteria. They missed a great teaching opportunity here for the students; to show them how to report the facts and practice good journalism Instead they went the alarmist route.”

Asian readiness from Reuters:

In Guangdong, nervy Chinese ramp up Ebola watch

Chinese authorities have identified the southern province of Guangdong, home to Asia’s biggest African population, as a frontline in their efforts to prevent the deadly Ebola virus from entering mainland China.

The province bordering Hong Kong has proven susceptible to infectious diseases in the past, shouldering a large share of SARS and bird flu cases, prompting local authorities to take no chances with Ebola.

Local authorities say they have expanded testing procedures at provincial entry ports and 27 hospitals have been designated to handle possible Ebola cases. Travelers arriving from Ebola-affected nations must leave their contact details.

“The central government has asked Guangzhou to strengthen preventative measures,” Mao Qun’an, a spokesman for the Ministry of Health, told Reuters. “Of course in Guangzhou, there are many people from outside China’s borders.”

And another warning from the Japan Times:

Chinese risk of Ebola outbreak ‘not rocket science’: expert

A scientist who helped to discover the Ebola virus says he is concerned that the deadly disease could spread to China, given the large numbers of Chinese workers traveling to and from Africa.

Peter Piot, director of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said Thursday it’s not “rocket science” that with many exchanges between the two regions the disease could spread.

“The concern I have is that I don’t think you can really stop people from traveling. These patients will show up in any country in the world, but China is quite vulnerable,” Piot said.

“The issue is: What is the quality, the standard of infection control? In public hospitals in China, the ones that I’ve visited, the level of infection control is very poor,” he said.

Unprepared from NHK WORLD:

Hospitals in Japan not fully prepared for Ebola

An NHK survey shows that most hospitals in Japan designated to treat Ebola patients are not fully prepared.

NHK surveyed 45 designated medical institutions across the country, and received responses from 39. Regarding preparedness to accept Ebola patients, 32 hospitals, or 82 percent, said they are not fully prepared.

As for the reason, 75 percent cited insufficient training for doctors, nurses and other health workers. 53 percent said they have not yet carried out drills for accepting Ebola patients. 38 percent cited a lack of supplies such as protective suits to prevent secondary infections of health workers.

Channel NewsAsia Singapore takes it all the way:

North Korea orders Ebola quarantine on all foreigners

Britain, which has an embassy in Pyongyang, issued a travel advisory on its government website on Thursday (Oct 30), detailing the quarantine order which was apparently issued to all foreign missions in the North Korean capital

North Korea has announced it intends to quarantine all foreigners entering the country for 21 days, no matter what their country of origin, as a measure against the spread of the Ebola virus.

Britain, which has an embassy in Pyongyang, issued a travel advisory on its government website on Thursday (Oct 30), detailing the quarantine order which was apparently issued to all foreign missions in the North Korean capital.

According to the advisory, travellers to North Korea from regions or countries that Pyongyang considers affected by the Ebola virus, will be quarantined for 21 days “in a government-appointed hotel under medical supervision”. Travellers from any other country or region will also be quarantined in hotels appointed by the organisation hosting their visit.

After the jump, on to Africa and more World Bank loans for the hot zone, Chinese military help, Nigerian helpers bankrolled, a prescription of trust, and a sad colonial heritage, and a funereal solution prescribed, on to Sierra Leone and cremations enforced, a plea for help from a Japanese volunteer, scenes from a crisis center, a plea to end air embargoes, a campaign against misinformation, and official optimism, then on to Liberia and cremation confusion, waiting in limbo, and the plight of a the multiply victimized, thence to Guinea and ravaged agriculture, Gambia next and actors enlisted for prevention, plus a warning form the World Bank. . . Continue reading

InSecurityWatch: Robots, terror, hacks, drones


And a lot more.

We begin with a threat to jobs, one that will only get worse and lead to yet more global instability. First, from TheLocal.ch:

Nestlé to ‘employ’ robot clerks in Japan stores

Swiss-based food giant Nestlé says its Japan unit is hiring 1,000 robots as sales clerks at stores across the country.

The first batch of the robots — a chatty humanoid called Pepper — will report to work by the end of this year at outlets that sell coffee capsules and home espresso machines.

“From December, they will start selling coffee machines for us at big retail stores,” said Nestlé Japan spokeswoman Miki Kano.

“We are sure that our customers will enjoy shopping and being entertained by robots.”

More from PCMagazine:

Lowe’s Hires Robots for the Holidays

Lowe’s is hiring some new workers for the holiday season, but they’re not human.

The hardware store just announced plans to test customer service robots, which will be able to help you locate items in the store, and share real-time information about product promotions and inventory. Dubbed OSHbot, the robots can speak multiple languages and remotely connect with expert employees in other locations to answer project-related questions.

Unfortunately, the robots won’t yet be making an appearance at Lowe’s stores nationwide. Lowe’s will deploy two of the bots at its Orchard Supply Hardware store in San Jose, Calif. to see whether customers and employees embrace the technology.

The OSHbots roll right up to you, say hello, and ask what you need. They also feature 3D-scanning technology, so you can bring in a spare part, scan it under a 3D-sensing camera, and OSHbot will identify the product, tell you how much it costs, and then guide you to where you can find it on store shelves.

And another robotic development that’s particularly spooky, via United Press International:

Israeli company showcases manned/unmanned patrol boat

  • A patrol boat for homeland security applications that can operate autonomously or by personnel on board is being highlighted by Israel Aerospace Industries at an exhibition in France

A manned/unmanned patrol boat for homeland security and other applications is being highlighted in France this week by Israel Aerospace Industries.

The vessel being shown at the Euronaval International Naval Defense and Maritime Exhibition is the Katana, which the company launched earlier this year.

The Katana can operate autonomously through the use of an advanced command-and-control station or controlled by personnel on board.

On to the crisis of the year, via BBC News:

Islamic State crisis: Peshmerga fighters head to Turkey

Iraqi Kurdish forces are travelling to Turkey, from where they plan to cross into Syria to battle Islamic State (IS) militants besieging the town of Kobane.

Officials said a plane carrying 150 Peshmerga had left Irbil. Their heavy weapons will be transported by land.

Turkey agreed to the deployment last week after refusing to allow Turkish Kurds to cross the border to fight.

Earlier, the Turkish prime minister rejected claims that he was not doing enough to end the jihadists’ assault.

More from Reuters:

How the West buys ‘conflict antiquities’ from Iraq and Syria (and funds terror)

“Many antique collectors unwillingly support terrorists like Islamic State,” Michel van Rijn, one of the most successful smugglers of antique artifacts in the past century, told German broadcaster Das Erste this month.

And smuggling is booming in Iraq and Syria right now. In Iraq, 4,500 archaeological sites, some of them UNESCO World Heritage sites, are reportedly controlled by Islamic State and are exposed to looting. Iraqi intelligence claim that Islamic State alone has collected as much as $36 million from the sales of artifacts, some of them thousands of years old. The accounts data have not been released for verification but, whatever the exact number is, the sale of conflict antiquities to fund military and paramilitary activity is real and systematic.

Grainy video from soldiers fighting for President Bashar al-Assad’s regime at Palmyra, an ancient capital in what is now Syria, shows delicate grave reliefs of the dead, ripped out, gathered up and loaded into the back of their truck. The soldiers present the heads of decapitated statues to the camera. Other stolen Palmyrene treasures were exposed by an undercover reporter for The Sunday Times. Sculptures, pillar carvings and glass vessels were found to be on sale for knock-down prices in Beirut, Lebanon. Roman vases had been robbed from graves and were being sold by the box.

And this from Der Spiegel:

Interview with an Islamic State Recruiter: ‘Democracy Is For Infidels’

  • How does Islamic State think? How do its followers see the world? SPIEGEL ONLINE met up with an Islamic State recruiter in Turkey to hear about the extremist group’s vision for the future.

The conditions laid out by the Islamist are strict: no photos and no audio recording. He also keeps his real name secret as well as his country of origin, and is only willing to disclose that he is Arab. His English is polished and he speaks with a British accent.

He calls himself Abu Sattar, appears to be around 30 years old and wears a thick, black beard that reaches down to his chest. His top lip is shaved as is his head and he wears a black robe that stretches all the way to the floor. He keeps a copy of the Koran, carefully wrapped in black cloth, in his black leather bag.

Abu Sattar recruits fighters for the terrorist militia Islamic State in Turkey. Radical Islamists travel to Turkey from all over the world to join the “holy war” in Iraq or Syria and Abu Sattar examines their motives and the depth of their religious beliefs. Several Islamic State members independently recommended Abu Sattar as a potential interview partner — as someone who could explain what Islamic State stands for. Many see him as something like an ideological mentor.

And on a related note, via Reuters:

U.S. boosts security at government buildings, citing calls by terrorist groups

The United States is stepping up security at government buildings in Washington and other major cities in response to “calls by terrorist organizations for attacks on the homeland and elsewhere,” Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said on Tuesday.

“Given world events, prudence dictates a heightened vigilance in the protection of U.S. government installations and our personnel,” Johnson said in a statement.

From Reuters, a reminder of an earlier regime change venture:

Libya near ‘point of no return’, U.N. says as fighting toll rises

Factional warfare in Libya is pushing the oil producer “very close to the point of no return”, the U.N. special envoy to the country said on Tuesday with efforts to bring about a ceasefire and political dialogue showing no result.

The death toll from two weeks of street fighting between pro-government forces and Islamist armed groups in the eastern city of Benghazi has risen to 170, medics said. Seven people were killed alone on Tuesday, 15 on Monday.

The North African country has had two governments and parliaments since a militia group from the western city of Misrata seized the capital Tripoli in August, setting up its own cabinet and assembly.

From BuzzFeed, can you say “Hubris”?:

Blackwater Founder Blames “Anti-War Left” For The Convictions Of Guards Who Killed Iraqi Civilians

“In the Vietnam War, the anti-war left went after the troops and this time they went after contractors and Blackwater represented anything they love to hate.”

The founder and former CEO of Blackwater Erick Prince blamed the anti-war left Tuesday for the conviction of four former guards for the 2007 shootings of more than 30 Iraqis in Baghdad.

“There’s a lot of politics that surrounds the event,” Prince said on NewsMax TV’s Midpoint. “The government spent tens of millions of dollars after this one case and a lot came after that Nisour Square event.”

“The bureaucratic attack the company withstand because of this. It’s all wrapped into the anger of the Iraq War. In the Vietnam War, the anti-war left went after the troops and this time they went after contractors and Blackwater represented anything they love to hate.”

Panopticon pervasiveness from the Guardian:

GCHQ views data with no warrant, government admits

  • GCHQ’s secret “arrangements” for accessing bulk material revealed in documents submitted to UK surveillance watchdog

British intelligence services can access raw material collected in bulk by the NSA and other foreign spy agencies without a warrant, the government has confirmed for the first time.

GCHQ’s secret “arrangements” for accessing bulk material are revealed in documents submitted to the Investigatory Powers Tribunal, the UK surveillance watchdog, in response to a joint legal challenge by Privacy International, Liberty and Amnesty International. The legal action was launched in the wake of the Edward Snowden revelations published by the Guardian and other news organisations last year.

The government’s submission discloses that the UK can obtain “unselected” – meaning unanalysed, or raw intelligence – information from overseas partners without a warrant if it was “not technically feasible” to obtain the communications under a warrant and if it is “necessary and proportionate” for the intelligence agencies to obtain that information.

The rules essentially permit bulk collection of material, which can include communications of UK citizens, provided the request does not amount to “deliberate circumvention” of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (Ripa), which governs much of the UK’s surveillance activities.

And from National Journal, we’ll show you yours if you’ll show us ours:

British Spies Allowed to Access U.S. Data Without a Warrant

Newly released documents from the British government reveal a lack of judicial oversight for how it sifts through communications data collected by the NSA and other foreign governments

British authorities are capable of tapping into bulk communications data collected by other countries’ intelligence services—including the National Security Agency—without a warrant, according to secret government documents released Tuesday.

The agreement between the NSA and Britain’s spy agency, known as Government Communications Headquarters or GCHQ, potentially puts the Internet and phone data of Americans in the hands of another country without legal oversight when obtaining a warrant is “not technically feasible.”

The data, once obtained, can be kept for up to two years, according to internal policies disclosed by the British government. GCHQ was forced to reveal that it can request and receive vast quantities of raw, unanalyzed data collected from foreign governments it partners with during legal proceedings in a closed court hearing in a case brought by various international human-rights organizations, including Privacy International, Liberty U.K., and Amnesty International. The suit challenges certain aspects of GCHQ’s surveillance practices.

Threatpost covers the bottom line:

Cyberespionage: ‘This Isn’t a Problem That Can Be Solved’

“This isn’t a problem that can be solved. Don’t think it has a solution,” Joel Brenner, former head of national counterintelligence at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and former senior counsel at the NSA, said in a keynote speech at the Kaspersky Government Cybersecurity Forum here Tuesday. “We are economically interdependent with the Chinese in an extraordinary way.”

Brenner pointed out a number of factors that have hoped lead to the current state of affairs, including the interconnection of virtually every conceivable asset and what he says has been the stasis in defensive thinking and operations in the last 10 years or so.

“If you thought the state of cyber defense had become substantially better in the last ten years, you’d be wrong,” he said. “We’ve been walking backward on cybersecurity for more than a decade and we’ll continue to walk backward unless and until we can address the core issues. The defensive stance needs to change from filter and guard to hunt and kill.”

From the Japan Times, the high price of apocalyptic security:

Imminent U.S. revamp of nuclear weapons, subs and planes is too costly, some say

Over the next 30 years, Washington will have to overhaul or replace much of its nuclear arsenal, an effort that experts say could cost as much as a trillion dollars. The problems will lie in choosing what is truly indispensable, and in how to pay for it.

The congressionally mandated National Defense Panel put it bluntly in a July review of the Pentagon’s defense plans, saying the effort to build a new triad of nuclear bombers, missiles and submarines is “unaffordable” under present budget constraints.

With legislation in 2011 putting in place a decade of budget spending cuts, analysts say the White House will ultimately have to delay some systems, trim others or find more money. Most likely, it will have to do all three.

Gee, they’ve got mail! From the New York Times:

Report Reveals Wider Tracking of Mail in U.S.

In a rare public accounting of its mass surveillance program, the United States Postal Service reported that it approved nearly 50,000 requests last year from law enforcement agencies and its own internal inspection unit to secretly monitor the mail of Americans for use in criminal and national security investigations.

The number of requests, contained in a 2014 audit of the surveillance program by the Postal Service’s inspector general, shows that the surveillance program is more extensive than previously disclosed and that oversight protecting Americans from potential abuses is lax.

The audit, along with interviews and documents obtained by The New York Times under the Freedom of Information Act, offers one of the first detailed looks at the scope of the program, which has played an important role in the nation’s vast surveillance effort since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

The Kansas City Star’s Lee Judge offers his take on the snail mail “hack”:

BLOG Mailer

And they’re looking for more, via the Guardian:

FBI demands new powers to hack into computers and carry out surveillance

  • Agency requests rule change but civil liberties groups say ‘extremely invasive’ technique amounts to unconstitutional power grab

The FBI is attempting to persuade an obscure regulatory body in Washington to change its rules of engagement that would grant it significant new powers to hack into and carry out surveillance of computers throughout the US and around the world.

Civil liberties groups warn that the proposed rule change amounts to a power grab by the agency that would ride roughshod over strict limits to searches and seizures laid out under the fourth amendment of the US constitution, as well as violating first amendment privacy rights. They have protested that the FBI is seeking to transform its cyber capabilities with minimal public debate and with no congressional oversight.

The regulatory body to which the Department of Justice has applied to make the rule change, the advisory committee on criminal rules, will meet for the first time on November 5 to discuss the issue. The panel will be addressed by a slew of technology experts and privacy advocates concerned about the possible ramifications were the proposals allowed to go into effect next year.

South China Morning Post has the latest plumbing news:

FBI net closing on ‘Edward Snowden-style’ leaker of terror watch-lists

The net is closing on a second “Edward Snowden-style” whistle-blower who has reportedly been identified by the US Federal Bureau of Investigation, it emerged yesterday.

Agents had identified an employee of a US contracting firm who was suspected of leaking a US government watch list of terrorists to a journalist linked to Snowden, Yahoo News reported.

Agents had reportedly searched the suspect’s home and a criminal investigation had been opened by prosecutors in the US state of Virginia. However, no one had been arrested or charged, the report said.

It is believed that the suspect was inspired by Snowden.

From the Associated Press, pressing the issue:

AP, Seattle Times object to FBI’s fake news story

The Associated Press and The Seattle Times are objecting after learning that the FBI created a fake news story and website using their names to catch a bomb threat suspect in 2007.

Police in suburban Lacey, near Olympia, sought the FBI’s help as repeated bomb threats prompted a week of evacuations and closures at Timberline High School in June 2007.

After police interviews of potential suspects came up empty, the agency obtained a warrant from a federal magistrate judge to send a “communication” to a social media account associated with the bomb threats, with the idea of tricking the suspect into revealing his location, according to documents obtained by the San Francisco-based Electronic Frontier Foundation.

The “communication,” which contained a software tool known as a “computer and Internet Protocol address verifier,” turned out to be a link to a phony AP story about the bomb threats posted on a fake Seattle Times webpage. The 15-year-old suspect clicked on the link, revealing his computer’s location and Internet address, and helping agents confirm his identity.

The boy was arrested.

Defense One covers hackery:

NATO’s Take on Cyberspace Law Ruffles China’s Feathers

Recent revelations by a group of security researchers of another China-based hacking group, reportedly more sophisticated than Unit 61398, is likely to set off the usual recriminations and denials, but have very little impact on the U.S.-China bilateral relationship. The Chinese embassy has already responded that “these kinds of reports or allegations are usually fictitious,” a response that Robert Dix, vice president of government affairs for Juniper Networks, colorfully and baldly describes as the Chinese giving “a big middle finger to anybody in the United States that’s tried to out them or point fingers in their direction.”

The report on the group, called Axiom, describes a six-year campaign against companies, journalists, civil society group, academics, and governments, and may preclude any real discussion on cyber issues between Chinese President Xi Jinping and U.S. President Barack Obama at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit next week. There was, however, very little chance that their sidebar discussion was going to lead to major progress. The differences between the two sides are deep.

An article that ran last week in the People’s Liberation Army Daily [Chinese] criticizing the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and efforts to develop the laws of armed conflict in cyberspace shows just how deep the differences are.

And from CNET, most interesting:

People trust NSA more than Google, survey says

  • In a result consistent with previous polling, a new poll has respondents claiming they’re more concerned about Google seeing all their private data than the government

People don’t always say what they think. Especially in business and love.

Please, therefore, consider this question: whom would you trust more with your private data: the NSA, a company like Google, or your mom?

I ask because I’m looking at the results of a survey, conducted between October 9 and12, that asked just that. It asked simple questions, to which its sponsors hoped to get simple answers.

The results went like this. On a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being “I am shivering uncontrollably with fear”) the idea of Google or a similar concern having access to all your private data got a concerned score of 7.39.

The idea of the NSA having its eyes and hands all over you? 7.06. What about your boss snooping? That merited a mere 6.85. While the notion of your parents knowing it all got a 5.93.

From PandoDaily, another reason to make you hinky about da Google:

You can run, but you can’t hide: Google expands its real-world surveillance system with Google Fit

The company has developed an application that allows Android smartphone owners to collect health-related information in one place. It’s called Google Fit, and besides challenging Apple’s HealthKit service, it also represents Google’s efforts to gather real-world data to complement the information it already has about the digital world.

It’s no longer enough for companies to track someone’s activity across the Web by monitoring their emails, analyzing their browsing history, or keeping tabs on their online searches. All that information now needs to be supplemented with data about what someone’s doing in the real world, whether that’s demonstrated through location tracking or through a health application.

Why else would so many companies rush to help people track their steps, count their calories, or collect other health-related information? It’s not just about making self quantification more convenient for the few self-obsessed consumers who actually use that information. It’s also about increasing the amount of information that can be offered to advertisers — maybe not today, and maybe not tomorrow, but certainly as soon as these companies can get away with it.

From the Daily Dot, can you hear them now?:

Verizon is launching a tech news site that bans stories on U.S. spying

  • Verizon is getting into the news business. What could go wrong?

The most-valuable, second-richest telecommunications company in the world is bankrolling a technology news site called SugarString.com. The publication, which is now hiring its first full-time editors and reporters, is meant to rival major tech websites like Wired and the Verge while bringing in a potentially giant mainstream audience to beat those competitors at their own game.

There’s just one catch: In exchange for the major corporate backing, tech reporters at SugarString are expressly forbidden from writing about American spying or net neutrality around the world, two of the biggest issues in tech and politics today.

Unsurprisingly, Verizon is deeply tangled up in both controversies.

After the jump, killing the Fourth Estate with impunity, blood on the newsroom floor, White House hackery, a major hack of a cell-phone-based electronic payment system, millions of Californians lose personal data to hackers, a major malware breach of Gmail Drafts, hacking arrests to come at an amoral media baron’s Old Blighty holding, feds crack down on stadium droners while others drones may carry heart-zappers, cops arm for violence in Ferguson, sending a battlewagon to bust grandpa, On to Mexico and probing for graves in the search for missing Mexican students as more arrests ensue and parents confront a president, a police purge in Venezuela, droning up Down Under as civil rights take a hit, an assassination plot in Bangldesh, on to Hong Kong and pressing the fight, two bizarre tales from North Korea, a call for a purge in a Japanese shrine, and those threatening clowns and trolls of Europe. . . Continue reading