And more, much more.
We begin with an official endorsement oif penal servitude from a very strange place, via BuzzFeed News:
California AG “Shocked” To Learn Her Office Wanted To Keep Eligible Parolees In Jail To Work
Lawyers for California Attorney General Kamala Harris argued releasing non-violent inmates early would harm efforts to fight California wildfires. Harris told BuzzFeed News she first heard about this when she read it in the paper.
Lawyers for California Attorney General Kamala Harris argued in court this fall against the release of eligible nonviolent prisoners from California’s overcrowded prisons — because the state wanted to keep them as a labor force.
Harris, a rising star in the Democratic Party, said she learned about the argument when she read it in the paper.
“I will be very candid with you, because I saw that article this morning, and I was shocked, and I’m looking into it to see if the way it was characterized in the paper is actually how it occurred in court,” Harris told BuzzFeed News in an interview Monday. “I was very troubled by what I read. I just need to find out what did we actually say in court.”
Next, the latest madness from Ferguson, via the London Daily Mail:
Navy veteran FIRED and ‘branded a terrorist’ for taking pictures of scores of Homeland Security SUVs parked at Ferguson hotel where he works – as town awaits grand jury decision on Michael Brown shooting
- Mark Paffrath worked for the Drury hotel chain in Missouri
- Paffrath, a Navy veteran, posted photos of dozens of vehicles marked with the logos of the Department of Homeland Security to his Facebook
- He was asked to take them down, then a day later he was fired
- Vehicles were located about a 30-minute drive from Ferguson, Missouri
A Navy veteran has been fired and branded a terrorist for posting Facebook pictures of Homeland Security SUVs parked at a hotel where he works near Ferguson.
Mark Paffrath, who worked for the Drury hotel chain, took photos and a video of dozens of vehicles marked with the logos of the Department of Homeland Security and Federal Protection Services which arrived in the parking lot of Chesterfield’s Drury Plaza Hotel last week.
The vehicles are parked about a 30-minute drive from Ferguson, Missouri.
More Ferguson madness, from AJ+:
These Guns Aren’t Being Sold For Hunting Near Ferguson
People living near Ferguson are worried. Guns sales have exploded since the killing of Michael Brown. Local gun store owners say customers are preparing for the worst by buying up home defense weapons.
And some context from VICE News:
Ferguson’s State of Emergency Proves America’s Social Contract Has Been Broken
In Ferguson, Missouri, a festering truth about the entire United States has come to light. It is not a truth about flagrant racism, police impunity, or the systematic quashing of free speech. It is not even the truth that, in the eyes of US justice, black lives don’t matter. These truths, while bolstered by events in Ferguson, have made themselves perfectly evident via prison populations and police statistics for decades.
What Ferguson has made clear, specifically, is that the social contract has been broken. With the expected grand jury non-indictment of Officer Darren Wilson likely to provoke renewed and righteous unrest, we are seeing nothing less than the state proving itself illegitimate.
I mean this in a very particular sense. When the decisions of a justice system are so repugnant to a significant mass of people that the state apparatus expects and must contend with popular unrest, then this political system has lost the grounds on which political legitimacy is based. When, on Monday, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon declared a state of emergency in Ferguson ahead of the grand jury decision, I like to think the ghost of Jean Jacques Rousseau looked on and whispered through the icy Missouri air, “Rise up.”
From the Guardian, the storm before the calm:
Critics of surveillance bill lash out hours before vote in US Senate
- Mitch McConnell: ‘worst possible time to be tying our hands behind our back’
- USA Freedom Act faces uphill battle despite ‘strong support’ of White House
- Privacy advocates believe bill lacks the teeth to end dragnet surveillance
Acrimony erupted in the US Senate over a major surveillance overhaul on Tuesday, hours before legislators are due to vote on moving it forward, as opponents labeled it a gift to terrorism.
The incoming Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, sharply warned that the USA Freedom Act, which, if passed, would be the first law to constrain the National Security Agency in decades, would cripple US intelligence against the Islamic State (Isis) in Iraq and Syria.
“This is the worst possible time to be tying our hands behind our back,” said McConnell, who will become majority leader in January.
“At the moment, we should not be doing anything to make the situation worse.”
And the outcome, from United Press International:
NSA reform bill dies in the Senate
- Under the potential legislation, the NSA would not have been able to collect phone records of Americans not suspected of a crime
The U.S. Senate on Tuesday narrowly defeated a bill designed to overhaul the National Security Agency by halting the collection of phone records of Americans who are not suspected of a crime.
The bill was two votes shy of getting the 60 it needed to pass the USA Freedom Act.
Minority leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., supported the defeat of the bill.
From Reuters, one in six hundred:
Top German spy says Berlin under cyber attack from other states
German government and business computers are coming under increasing cyber attack every day from other states’ spy agencies, especially those of Russia and China, Germany’s domestic intelligence (BfV) chief said on Tuesday.
Addressing a cybersecurity conference in Berlin, Hans Georg Maassen said that of an estimated 3,000 daily attacks by hackers or criminals on German government systems, around five were the handiwork of intelligence services. The latter are so sophisticated that they can easily be overlooked, he added.
“We have seen that there are ever more frequent attacks by foreign intelligence agencies on the German government IT infrastructure,” he said.
Imitation, flattery, and all that, via Want China Times:
PLA has set up Chinese version of PRISM in HK: Kanwa
The People’s Liberation Army has established a large-scale signals and information monitoring facility in Hong Kong similar to the US PRISM monitoring program exposed by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, according to the Canada-based Kanwa Information Center.
In a report obtained by CNA, Kanwa, which publishes a monthly magazine on Asian defense issues, said that intelligence experts have made the findings after observing the facility from the top of Tai Mo Shan, the highest mountain in Hong Kong with a altitude of 950 meters.
The facility was reportedly constructed in 2011.
Opting out with Network World:
Swedish ISP to let users shield Internet activity from police
Swedes have started to sign up for a free service from ISP Bahnhof to hide their Internet communications metadata from the police, and the company’s CEO is urging other European ISPs to follow suit.
The Swedish ISP will start offering a free VPN (virtual-private-network) service to its customers on Monday. That same day it will also resume retaining customer location and traffic metadata for law enforcement purposes to comply with Swedish law, something it stopped doing in May. By complying again with the data retention rules, the ISP will avoid a fine of 5 million Swedish Kronor, or about US$678,000.
The free VPN service will let customers be anonymous online and avoid being subject to mass surveillance, Bahnhof CEO Jon Karlung said on Tuesday. “It is an alternative. It allows customers to choose whether they want data retention or not,” he said. The ISP is launching the VPN service on the same day it starts to retain customer data again “so we can countermeasure the effect of the data retention.”
And on the the military from, first with Der Spiegel:
The ‘Caliphate’s’ Colonies: Islamic State’s Gradual Expansion into North Africa
Chaos, disillusionment and oppression provide the perfect conditions for Islamic State. Currently, the Islamist extremists are expanding from Syria and Iraq into North Africa. Several local groups have pledged their allegiance.
The caliphate has a beach. It is located on the Mediterranean Sea around 300 kilometers (186 miles) south of Crete in Darna. The eastern Libya city has a population of around 80,000, a beautiful old town and an 18th century mosque, from which the black flag of the Islamic State flies. The port city is equipped with Sharia courts and an “Islamic Police” force which patrols the streets in all-terrain vehicles. A wall has been built in the university to separate female students from their male counterparts and the disciplines of law, natural sciences and languages have all been abolished. Those who would question the city’s new societal order risk death.
Darna has become a colony of terror, and it is the first Islamic State enclave in North Africa. The conditions in Libya are perfect for the radical Islamists: a disintegrating state, a location that is strategically well situated and home to the largest oil reserves on the continent. Should Islamic State (IS) manage to establish control over a significant portion of Libya, it could trigger the destabilization of the entire Arab world.
The IS puts down roots wherever chaos reigns, where governments are weakest and where disillusionment over the Arab Spring is deepest. In recent weeks, terror groups that had thus far operated locally have quickly begun siding with the extremists from IS.
And then there’s this, from the Los Angeles Times:
Israel vows tough response in killing of 4 rabbis, 3 of them Americans
Israel vowed a harsh response after two Palestinian attackers slashed and shot to death four rabbis who were praying in a Jerusalem synagogue early Tuesday — an attack that horrified Israelis, drew international condemnation and threatened to further inflame Jewish-Muslim tensions that were already running high over a contested holy site.
At least seven Israelis were hospitalized in the wake of the attack, the deadliest in Jerusalem since 2008. The two attackers, shot dead by police units that converged on the scene within minutes, were identified as Palestinian cousins from predominantly Arab East Jerusalem, which has been a flashpoint for attacks in recent months.
The attackers — armed with cleavers and handguns and said to have been shouting “God is great!” — burst into the synagogue in the ultra-Orthodox Jerusalem neighborhood of Har Nof during morning prayers, witnesses said. Many devoutly religious immigrants to Israel have settled in the area, and three of the four rabbis killed held American citizenship, the State Department said. A fourth was a Briton, according to Israeli officials.
Next, corporate thuggery threatened, via the Guardian:
Uber executive apologises after suggesting the firm dig dirt on hostile journalists
- Emil Michael says his comments that a journalist should have her private life exposed after criticising the site ‘did not reflect his actual views’
Luxury cab firm Uber has been forced to apologise after a senior executive suggested the company hire a team of opposition researchers to dig up dirt on hostile journalists.
Speaking at a dinner in Manhattan hosted by the Uber consultant and political “fixer” Ian Osborne, the company’s head of business, Emil Michael, singled out Sarah Lacy, the editor of tech news site PandoDaily, as somebody who could be targeted by the researchers.
Ben Smith, the editor of Buzzfeed, reported the comments after he was invited to the dinner by the media columnist Michael Wolff. He writes that Uber’s Michael was particularly incensed by an article in which Lacy accused Uber of “sexism and misogyny” after the firm was reported to be working with a French escort service.
“At the dinner, Michael expressed outrage at Lacy’s column and said that women are far more likely to get assaulted by taxi drivers than Uber drivers,” says Smith. “He said that he thought Lacy should be held ‘personally responsible’ for any woman who followed her lead in deleting Uber and was then sexually assaulted.
“Then he returned to the opposition research plan. Uber’s dirt-diggers, Michael said, could expose Lacy. They could, in particular, prove a particular and very specific claim about her personal life.”
After the jump, peeping drones Down Under, a game-changing ruling for photographers who drone, a Colombian capture acknowledged, on to China and a Game of Zones proposal, an ironically timed Internet crackdown, a massive police rollout in preparation for an Occupy crackdown as the first moves are made while protesters stage an attack of their own, an Aussie submarine deal with Tokyo draws near, tensions rise over an American base relocation in Okinawa, and Abe’s militarists continue to deny the past. . . Continue reading