We begin today’s look at the world of the dark side with America’s sudden realization that America’s police forces look a lot like those of a police state.
First up, the San Francisco Chronicle looks at the impact on Bay Area cops:
How local police forces got outfitted for warfare
The paramilitary hardware that police in Missouri deployed against demonstrators angered by an officer’s killing of an unarmed black teenager has become commonplace in police departments in the Bay Area and around the country, thanks to billions of dollars in homeland security money and surplus military equipment that the federal government has showered on communities.
Big-city police departments have long had riot gear, shields and even lightly armored vehicles to deal with unrest. What has changed in recent years is the volume of military equipment finding its way to smaller, suburban police agencies like the ones that confronted protesters last week in Ferguson, Mo.
The federal programs that delivered heavy weaponry and armored vehicles to police there are the same ones that allowed the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office to obtain a decommissioned Coast Guard cutter. They enabled Concord police to acquire an armored personnel carrier that the U.S. military once used in Kuwait.
Police in South San Francisco, Vallejo, San Jose, Napa and Antioch now have specially reinforced armored personnel carriers like those that carried U.S. troops in battle areas in Afghanistan and Iraq, courtesy of a Pentagon program that distributes surplus war equipment to cities around the country.
From the Daily Dot, we hope it’s more than wishful thinking:
Social media may have turned the tide of police militarization
In many respects, last Wednesday night may turn out to be the single most important event in the history of American law enforcement in a generation.
For most of the week, the images flooding out of Ferguson, Mo., and onto social media resembled nothing so much as a military occupation. Officers from the St. Louis County Sheriff’s Department patrolled the streets in full body armor while toting machine guns, as millions of Americans started to suddenly wonder why law enforcement officials were outfitted as if they were going into a war zone.
When all you have is riot gear, even peaceful protests start to look like riots. By giving police officers the tools to use overwhelming force and military-style tactics at every opportunity, it creates a situation that may be safer for individual police officers, but is significantly more dangerous for society as a whole.
From Bloomberg of all places, confronting a real source of national insecurity:
Ferguson Unrest Shows Poverty Grows Fastest in Suburbs
A week of violence and protests in a town outside St. Louis is highlighting how poverty is growing most quickly on the outskirts of America’s cities, as suburbs have become home to a majority of the nation’s poor.
In Ferguson, Missouri, a community of 21,000 where the poverty rate doubled since 2000, the dynamic has bred animosity over racial segregation and economic inequality. Protests over the police killing of an unarmed black teenager on Aug. 9 have drawn international attention to the St. Louis suburb’s growing underclass.
Such challenges aren’t unique to Ferguson, according to a Brookings Institution report July 31 that found the poor population growing twice as fast in U.S. suburbs as in city centers. From Miami to Denver, resurgent downtowns have blossomed even as their recession-weary outskirts struggle with soaring poverty in what amounts to a paradigm shift.
On to the world of secrecy-cloaked acts of dubious legality with the Guardian:
UK ambassador ‘lobbied senators to hide Diego Garcia role in rendition’
- Rights groups claim that top-level talks were part of bid to redact link to Diego Garcia from report
Logs released under the Freedom of Information Act have reinforced claims that the UK lobbied to keep its role in the CIA’s torture and interrogation programme out of what is expected to be a damning Senate report.
They show that the UK ambassador to the US met members of the Senate select committee on intelligence 11 times between 2012 and 2014 – as they were investigating the CIA’s rendition programme. This included two meetings with the committee’s chair, Diane Feinstein, which took place as crucial decisions were being made regarding how much of its report into the programme should be made public.
The revelation has prompted fresh concern that the government lobbied for key parts of the report referring to Diego Garcia, a British territory in the Indian Ocean leased to the US as a military base, to be redacted. Human rights groups believe that the territory played a key role in facilitating the CIA’s extraordinary rendition programme – the movement of high-value terrorist suspects to “black sites” around the world without legal oversight.
The Register looks at hacking made easy:
Who needs hackers? ‘Password1′ opens a third of all biz doors
- GPU-powered pen test yields more bad news about defences and passwords
Hundreds of thousands of hashed corporate passwords have been cracked within minutes by penetration testers using graphics processing units.
The 626,718 passwords were harvested during penetration tests over the last two years conducted across corporate America by Trustwave infosec geeks.
The firm’s threat intelligence manager Karl Sigler said in a post that half of the plundered passwords were cracked within “the first few minutes”.
While Computerworld rings an alarm:
Microsoft urges customers to uninstall ‘Blue Screen of Death’ update
- One of last week’s security updates has bricked an unknown number of PCs running Windows 7
Computerworld – Microsoft on Friday quietly recommended that customers uninstall one of last week’s security updates after users reported that it crippled their computers with the infamous “Blue Screen of Death” (BSOD).
The update, identified as MS14-045 in Microsoft’s numbering, was one of nine released on “Patch Tuesday,” Aug. 12, was designed to fix three separate flaws, including one related to a font vulnerability and another in the Windows kernel, the heart of the operating system.
Within hours of its release, however, users reported that MS14-045 had generated a Stop 0x50 error on some systems, mostly on Windows 7 PCs running the 64-bit version of the OS.
Off the Asia, first with South China Morning Post:
More than 20,000 rally in Islamabad, calling for Sharif to resign as PM
- Cleric Qadri and cricket star turned politician Khan lead rallies in capital
More than 20,000 anti-government protesters flooded the centre of Pakistan’s capital yesterday, vowing to stay in the streets until Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif resigns.
The numbers were far below what protest organisers expected, but the power of protesters to paralyse the central business district has presented the biggest challenge yet to the 15-month-old civilian government.
The unrest has raised questions about Pakistan’s stability, at a time when the nation of 180 million is waging an offensive against Pakistani Taliban militants and when the influence of anti-Western and sectarian groups is growing.
More from the Express Tribune in Karachi:
Govt to form separate committees to negotiate with Imran, Qadri
Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan has said that the government is willing to listen to each and every constitutional demand of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and the Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT), Express News reported.
“As a goodwill gesture, we have decided to constitute two separate committees to negotiate with PTI and PAT,” said Nisar while addressing a press conference late Sunday night. “We are ready to hear all their constitutional demands,” he added.
Earlier in the day, PAT chief Tahirul Qadri and PTI chief Imran Khan reiterated their demand for the resignation of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in separate addresses to their supporters, with the latter announcing the launch of a civil disobedience movement.
Reuters covers another form of protest:
Pakistan opposition leader calls for tax boycott in anti-government protest
Leading opposition politician Imran Khan urged Pakistanis on Sunday not to pay taxes or utility bills as a protest against the government and vowed to force the country’s “corrupt” prime minister to step down this week.
“After two days … your time is up,” Khan shouted to thousands of supporters at a rally in central Islamabad.
Police estimated on Sunday that around 55,000 people have occupied two streets in the center of the Pakistani capital as part of separate protests led by Khan and cleric Tahir ul-Qadri.
From the Diplomat, walking a fine line of the subcontinent:
India-China Border Engagement
As India races to catch up on infrastructure, its military is increasingly engaged with the PLA.
For the Indian military, this is a time of some fairly fundamental changes.
After decades of pursuing Pakistan-centric war planning, the Indian Army and the Indian Air Force are recalibrating their sights towards the hitherto neglected northern frontiers with China, giving a hard push to improving its war-fighting capabilities against its more powerful neighbor and at the same time, increasing on-the-ground interaction with the People’s Liberation Army (PLA).
This two-track policy, outcome of the experience of the past five years, is aimed at preventing any unnecessary flare ups along the Line of Actual Control (LAC), as the contested border between the two countries is known.
While the Times of India invokes dubious imagery:
I’m Hitler for thieves misusing funds, Telangana CM says
A crucial meeting between two warring chief ministers of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana failed to bring about a change of heart as both chose to remain on the warpath over several issues, including the Governor’s special powers in Hyderabad and the controversial household survey, on Sunday.
Governor ESL Narasimhan had brought K Chandrasekhar Rao of Telangana and N Chandrababu Naidu of AP to the negotiation table, for the first time since the bifurcation of the state. But the two chief ministers stuck to their guns, with KCR threatening to be a “Hitler” for those who allegedly misuse government’s schemes and funds, ahead of the controversial household survey.
“There is nothing wrong in being a Hitler for the people’s cause. I would like to be a Hitler for those who want to misuse the government schemes and funds. Yes, I am a Hitler for thieves,” he said after the meeting.
And Deutsche Welle covers another protest, this tiem one against another protest:
Tens of thousands stage Hong Kong pro-government rally
A protest march with tens of thousands of participants has taken place in Hong Kong. The rally was organized in response to a planned pro-democracy disobedience campaign in the former British colony.
Tens of thousands of people protested in Hong Kong on Sunday against plans by pro-democracy activists to shut down the semi-autonomous Chinese city’s financial district with a mass sit-in unless China allows electoral reforms.
The Alliance for Peace and Democracy, which organized Sunday’s rally in sweltering heat, claims that most people in the city of seven million do not support the pro-democracy campaign run by the Occupy Central group.
The Alliance says it has so far collected almost 1.5 million signatures – including that of leader Leung Chun-ying – from people opposed to the Occupy campaign on the grounds that it would tarnish Hong Kong’s reputation and harm business.
From Reuters, another spooky saga:
Chinese national charged with hacking U.S. defense contractors
A Chinese businessman has been indicted in California on charges he hacked the computer systems of Boeing Co and other U.S. defense contractors and stole confidential plans for military aircraft, federal prosecutors said on Friday.
According to the indictment in federal court in Los Angeles, Su Bin traveled to the United States at least 10 times between 2008 and 2014 and worked with two unidentified co-conspirators based in China to steal the data.
Prosecutors said the trio stole plans relating to the C-17 military transport plane and F-22 and F-35 fighter jets, and attempted to sell them to Chinese companies.
The Japan Times orders:
U.S. military told troops not to visit Yasukuni Shrine
- Trip to war-related shrine canceled before Obama visit in April
U.S. military leaders in Japan advised against a planned visit by some of their troops to war-linked Yasukuni Shrine in early April, before President Barack Obama’s visit to Tokyo, apparently out of consideration to South Korea and China, an American military source said Saturday.
U.S. Forces Japan headquarters warned against the visit to the controversial shrine by more than 20 troops, leading to the trip’s cancellation, according to the source.
The Shinto shrine honors past Japanese leaders convicted as Class-A war criminals, along with millions of war dead. Beijing and Seoul consider it a symbol of Japan’s past militarism and wartime aggression and bristle when Japanese politicians make state visits viewed as glorifying the war.
From SINA English, another play:
Japan freezes assets of N Korean shipping firm for smuggling arms
Japan has frozen the assets of the operator of a North Korean ship seized for smuggling arms, the Foreign Ministry said, just as Tokyo is engaged in talks with Pyongyang to return Japanese citizens kidnapped by North Korean agents decades ago.
The sanction against Ocean Maritime Management, which operated the ship detained near the Panama Canal a year ago carrying Soviet-era arms, follows similar steps by the United States and U.N. blacklisting of the North Korean firm in July.
It is not immediately clear how much assets, if any, Ocean Maritime Management holds in Japan, the Finance Ministry said Saturday.
The Diplomat poses a scary question:
Nuclear Weapons for South Korea
Under threat of a possible fourth North Korean nuclear test, should South Korea develop its own nuclear weapon?
Nuclear tensions are again ratcheting up on the Korean Peninsula, with Pyongyang threatening a fourth nuclear weapons test in what one U.S. analyst described as its new “allergic reaction” to routine military exercises by South Korea and United States scheduled to start on August 18.
A fourth nuclear test could further influence the debate in Seoul and Washington over whether South Korea should consider the “nuclear option.” Such a decision – if South Korea were to seriously consider it – could upturn the 60-year South Korean-U.S. alliance, global nonproliferation efforts, not to mention dozens of international obligations that tie one of Asia’s wealthiest nations to the global economy.
Even talk of “going nuclear” has some in South Korea’s political class worrying out loud that the debate has already moved from the political fringe to occupy center stage.
From Want China Times, bulking up:
China considers buying four Russian Amur-Class AIP submarines
China reportedly signed two military sale frameworks with Moscow, of which Russia will jointly build four Amur-Class AIP submarines with China and sell them to the country while China will buy 24 Su-35 fighters from Russia, reports Sina’s military news portal.
It is the first major military procurement China has made with Russia in 10 years, said the report. China needs submarines to counter threats from India’s fleet and build a fleet to resist America’s influence, said the Voice of Russia, the Russian government’s international radio broadcasting service. A manager for a Russian national defense export company said Moscow and Beijing have been negotiating over submarine technologies. China has not revealed how many submarines it wants to buy and has not scheduled to sign a supply contract.
It is natural for India and China to show interest in Russia’s Amur-Class submarines, said a retired Russian Navy general named Sivkov. The submarine is superior to the export version of China’s 877 submarine and China would want the Amur-Class vessel since India has them. The Russian submarine can also effectively fight against American submarines and destroy Los Angeles and Virginia-class nuclear-powered submarines from long distances.
Jiji Press bolsters the borders:
Japan to Strengthen Analysis of Information on Foreigners
Japan’s Justice Ministry will set up an intelligence center at the Immigration Bureau to strengthen the ability to analyze information on foreigners in preparation for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games, informed sources said Sunday.
The ministry will seek about 220 million yen in related expenditures as part of its fiscal 2015 budget request, the sources said.
By 2020, the government aims to boost the annual number of visitors to Japan to 20 million, about double the 10.36 million in 2013.
From the Japan Times, learning from the University of California:
Japan plans fund to develop military technology with universities
- Ministry plans fund to aid schools engaged in military research
The Defense Ministry plans to set up a fund to develop military technology by aiding research projects at universities and other civilian institutions, government sources have revealed.
In a move aimed at keeping down development costs and bolstering civilian-military cooperation, the ministry plans to seek roughly ¥2 billion for the fund in its budget request for fiscal 2015 beginning next April, raising it to ¥6 billion in three years, the sources said Saturday.
The fund, which will be modeled after the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, is part of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s drive to expand the nation’s military capabilities. It will finance promising projects in such fields as surveillance radar technology and aviation materials.
The Japan Times again, with another sort of education:
Japan to hold seminar to pitch defense equipment exports to ASEAN
The government plans to hold a seminar in late September attended by officials from ASEAN countries to make a pitch for exports of Japanese-made defense equipment to those Asian nations, government sources said Sunday.
It will be the first gathering of Japan and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations to hold full-fledged discussions concerning such exports since Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Cabinet decided in April to ease restrictions on arms exports.
During the seminar in Tokyo, the government plans to discuss how Japanese equipment and technology could help enhance the defense capabilities of ASEAN nations, as it seeks business opportunities to export Japanese defense equipment.
And for our final item, JapanToday covers box office militancy:
Film on 1597 victory over Japan breaks Korean box office records
A film depicting a famous 16th century naval victory against Japanese invaders has set records at the South Korean box office, drawing the largest audience and becoming the first local movie to take more than $100 million.
“Myeongryang” (“Roaring Currents”) attracted 13.62 million viewers as of Saturday after 18 days of screening, distributor CJ Entertainment.
The previous frontrunner, Hollywood blockbuster “Avatar”, drew 13.61 million Korean cinema goers over a span of four months.