Category Archives: Intolerance

InSecurityWatch: Cops, spies, hacks, war, more


Including a widening war on the press. . .

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

Amanda Todd: police alerted to extortion suspect before her suicide

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

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

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

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

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

The Sextortion of Amanda Todd – the fifth estate

Program notes:

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

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

Workers hit the streets across US in growing minimum wage fight

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

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

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

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

The anatomy of a murder from the Washington Post:

Investigation: Afghan shooter ambushed slain Army general at close range

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

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

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

The NSA , doing its thing, via the Guardian:

NSA accused of intercepting emails sent by mobile phone firm employees

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

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

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

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

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

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

And from Deutsche Welle, explains a lot:

Witness: German intelligence helped NSA to tap Internet hub

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And from Sky News, the latest American legal travesty:

Eric Garner Chokehold Decision ‘A Travesty’

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

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

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

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

More from the Associated Press:

Police cases converge to stir national debate

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

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

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

From Reuters, hardly surprising:

More protests expected after no charges in New York chokehold case

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

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

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

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

While the Guardian questions a proclaimed preventative measure:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

BLOG Toles

The New York Times covers more of the usual:

Cleveland Police Abuse Pattern Cited by Justice Department

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And from RT America, inevitable:

Protests spread nationwide after NYPD non-indictment

Program notes:

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

From the London Telegraph, a nose for it:

Police use ‘nose telescope’ for cannabis odour mapping

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

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

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

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

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

And from RT, a cop shock Down Under:

Brutal police beating of model shocks Australia

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

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

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

A controversial figurative branding from TheLocal.fr:

French homeless forced to wear ‘yellow triangles’

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

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

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

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

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

An Afghan tragedy: One woman’s tragic struggle


From Iranian journalist Zohreh Soleimani and Berkeley’s own Center for Investigative Reporting, the story of an Afghani woman and her lover who face the constant threat of death because they dared to act on a love born out of a tragedy of tradition and circumstance.

Via Journeyman Pictures:

To Kill A Sparrow – “I will accept you under one condition: Kill your son.”

Program notes:

One of the defining totems of Taliban-era Afghanistan was the maltreatment of women. With the fall of the regime, many hoped for a reinstatement of women’s rights. As this stunning investigative report shows, this was not to be the case.

Lovers who court out of wedlock are pursued with derision and hatred, mothers with illegitimate children are thrown in jail and daughters who run away from arranged marriages are chased and killed by their own families. “For us it is nothing, it is like killing a sparrow” says one relative of a young girl, married off aged 6, who absconded from her arranged marriage.

But what about the lovers who are caught up in such a world? This documentary finds tender love stories caught in a Shakespearean nightmare of pain and violence. “Be strong, we have no choice” says Niaz-Mohammed, who in a desperate bid to free his lover, hands himself into police an the count of adultery.

This CIR film uncovers age old stories played out in Afghanistan’s battle between tradition and modernity.

Lest Americans pride themselves as culturally superior, remember that it was American bombs that shattered Afghanistan and furthered re-emergence of cultural extremism that had begun when the U.S. armed Wahhabi extremists to enmesh the S0viet Union in a long war that would lead to the fall of the Soviet Union. One of the casualties of that war would be a more culturally tolerant form of Islam which was once was [and still is to a considerable degree] the rule in large parts of the Islamic world.

Similar religious extremism is to be found in large parts of the United States, and could easily rise to the fore under extreme conditions.

Consider the following from the Independent:

US pastor Steven Anderson says gay people should be executed for an ‘Aids free Christmas’

A US Christian pastor has claimed that the world could be “Aids free by Christmas” if all gay people were executed.

In a sermon titled “Aids: The Judgement of God”, Steven Anderson told the congregation of the Faithful Word Baptist Church in Tempe, Arizona, that the Bible advocates genocide of LGBT people.

“Anybody who’s a homo or bi – it’s all the same category – sodomite is what the Bible would call them,” he said.

Speaking ahead of World Aids Day, which took place on 1 December, Anderson said the world had been “brainwashed” about the disease, which he claimed was in fact “the judgement of God”.

Here,s the clip, via Evil Liberal Agenda:

Quote of the day: Class war, California style


From former Secretary of Labor and currect UC Berkeley Professor Robert Reich, writing at his blog:

In early November, school officials in Orinda, California, hired a private detective to determine whether a seven-year-old Latina named Vivian – whose single mother works as a live-in nanny for a family in Orinda — “resides” in the district and should therefore be allowed to attend the elementary school she’s already been attending there.

On the basis of that investigation they determined that Vivian’s legal residence is her grandmother’s home in Bay Point, California.

Never mind that Vivian and her mother live during the workweek at the Orinda home where Vivian’s mother is a nanny, that Vivian has her own bedroom in that home with her clothing and toys and even her own bathroom, that she and her mother stock their own shelves in the refrigerator and kitchen cupboard of that Orinda home, or that Vivian attends church with her mother in Orinda and takes gym and youth theater classes at the Orinda community center.

The point is Vivian is Latina and poor, and Orinda is white, Anglo, and wealthy.

And Orinda vigilantly protects itself from encroachments from the large and growing poor Latino and Hispanic populations living beyond its borders.

Chart of the day II: Essentialist racism still endures


From the Washington Post:

BLOG Black

InSecurityWatch: Cop, hacks, war, drones, zones


And we begin with the cop, via Sky News:

Ferguson Officer Quit Because Of ‘Threats’

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

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

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

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

On to the war, via CBC News:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Another Bush/Cheney legacy from the Washington Post:

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

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

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

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

An upcoming visit via the News in Lagos, Nigeria:

EU delegation visiting Guantanamo Bay prison

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

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

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

The Canadian Press covers spookery to the north:

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

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

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

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

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

The Los Angeles Times covers a devastating hack attack:

Sony movies leak online as computer systems remain dark

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

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

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

From the Hill, expect more:

Corporate data breaches ‘inevitable,’ expert says

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

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

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

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

A rousing dronal endorsement from TechWeek Europe:

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

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

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

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

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

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

From the Guardian, a source of domestic insecurity:

Begging prosecutions increase dramatically across England and Wales

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

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

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

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

Deutsche Welle covers a Colombian release:

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

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

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

“Freed … in prefect condition,” Santos wrote.

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

And from Xinhua, the Egyptian crackdown continues:

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

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

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

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

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

Is Barack Obama really that ignorant of history?


Sometimes we really have to wonder, as in the case of a remark he made Tuesday which are being played up in Japan for all the wrong reasons:

If you go to — I was just traveling in Asia — you go to Japan, they don’t have problems with certain folks being discriminated against because mostly everybody is Japanese.  (Laughter.)  You know?  But here, part of what’s wonderful about America is also what makes our democracy hard sometimes, because sometimes we get attached to our particular tribe, our particular race, our particular religion, and then we start treating other folks differently.

Is Obama really that ignorant of the plight of Japan’s Koreans, or of the native Ainu people?

Consider this from a 7 October 2013 BBC News story:

A Japanese court has ordered an anti-Korean group to stop “hate speech” protests against a Korean school, in a rare ruling on racial discrimination against ethnic Koreans.

The group, Zaitokukai, was also told to pay the school in Kyoto city 12 million yen ($123,500, £77,100) compensation.

There are hundreds of thousands of ethnic Koreans in Japan.

Many are descendants of those forcibly brought to Japan during its 1910-1945 colonial rule of Korea.

Korean residents – who make up Japan’s largest minority group – still face discrimination in the country.

And this from a 16 May 2013 Wall Street Journal article:

As Japanese nationalism is fueled by friction with neighbors over territories and World War II legacy issues, hostile demonstrations against the country’s Korean residents are gathering steam, raising concerns among political leaders and setting off soul-searching among Japan’s largely homogeneous population.

While attendance at the rallies is small and such extreme actions are far from entering the mainstream of Japanese politics, the demonstrations of nationalist activists using hate speech and intimidation have grown in size and frequency in recent months. One target has been the central Tokyo neighborhood of Shin-Okubo, known for Korean restaurants and shops selling South Korean pop-culture goods. Starting in February, groups of 200 or so demonstrators have descended on its busy weekend streets, waving Japanese flags and carrying signs that read “Roaches” and “Go Back to Korea.” They shouted in unison: “Let’s Kill Koreans,” language that passersby told local television they found shocking.

The majority “ethnic Japanese” population is itself an artificial construction based on geography, not origins [genetic analysis reveals today’s Japanese to be descendants of Chinese and Korean settler from before historic times, while the Ainu folk are the island nation’s original inhabitants].

The later arrivals treated the Ainu much as European colonizers treated to original inhabitants of the Americas and elsewhere in Asia, seizing their lands and homes and relegating them to inferior status.

It wasn’t until 1997 that the Ainu were finally accorded legal recognition as a people, and prejudice has been by no means abolished in a nation with a starkly racial self-identity.Whatever Obama’s reasons for his conspicuously ignorant remarks, they can only further inflame the militarists in the increasingly revanchist administration of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, a government conspicuously working to erase the war crimes perpetrated by Japan’s armed forces on the people of Korean for nearly a half-century of occupation.

InSecurityWatch: Disorders, crime, cops, hacks


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

From the Guardian, no place for esnl:

China bans wordplay in attempt at pun control

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

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

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

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

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

From the New York Times, challenging the imperium:

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

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

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

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

More from Deutsche Welle:

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

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

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

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

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

From the Guardian, a shrewd political move:

Ferguson protesters in LA released on Thanksgiving in goodwill move

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

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

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

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

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

Shopping mauled, via the Associated Press:

Ferguson protest closes huge St. Louis-area mall

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

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

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

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

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

Some Bay Area train service restored after Ferguson protest shuts station

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

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

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

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

More from the Oakland Tribune:

West Oakland BART shut down by protesters

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

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

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

From the Guardian, striving for crepe soles on jackboots:

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

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

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

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

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

From TheLocal.de, German spooks, making exceptions:

BND spied on Germans living abroad

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

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

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

BBC News covers Austrian apprehensions:

Austria arrests 13 suspected jihadi recruiters for Syria

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

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

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

From the Guardian, a phenomenon of distance:

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

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

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

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

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

From the McClatchy Washington Bureau, twice victimized:

Former al Qaida hostage recounts nightmare – of dealing with FBI

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

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

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

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

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

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