Category Archives: Intolerance

Two authors on American Black radical voices


Two authors have just penned books on on African Americans who challenged a racist and imperialistic status quo to call for broader vision of humanity incorporating the aspirations of the nation’s poorest and least powerful.

Here are two interviews, the first from Democracy Now! and the second from RT America’s Breaking the Set.

First, from Democracy Now!, Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez interview Princeton University Professor Cornel West about his latest book, Black Prophetic Fire:

Black Prophetic Fire: Cornel West on the Revolutionary Legacy of Leading African-American Voices 

Program notes:

The renowned scholar, author and activist Dr. Cornel West, joins us to discuss his latest book, “Black Prophetic Fire.” West engages in conversation with the German scholar and thinker Christa Buschendorf about six revolutionary African-American leaders: Frederick Douglass, W. E. B. Du Bois, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Ella Baker, Malcolm X and Ida B. Wells. Even as the United States is led by its first black president, West says he is fearful that we may be “witnessing the death of black prophetic fire in our time.”

Next, from Breaking the Set, an episode in which Abby Martin interviews journalist and broadcaster Tavis Smiley, author of Death of a King: The Real Story of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Final Year. Also featured is an interview with Arun Gandhi, grandson of Mohandas K. [Mahatma] Gandhi, about his new book, Legacy of Love: My Education in the Path of Nonviolence, about the impact of the Indian freedom activist’s legacy on his own life:

MLK & Gandhi: The Uncomfortable Truths History Books Won’t Touch

Program notes:

EPISODE BREAKDOWN: On this episode of Breaking the Set, Abby Martin speaks with television host Tavis Smiley, discussing his book ‘Death of a King: The Real Story of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.s’ Final Year’ which explores aspects of Dr. King’s life that have been whitewashed and back-paged in US history books. Abby then highlights the need to reflect on the message of Mahatma Gandhi to apply non-violence in current world conflicts, and speaks with the grandson of Mahatma Gandhi, Arun Gandhi, about how his book ‘Legacy of Love’ which outlines the most important lessons learned from his grandfather’s mission of peace.

EbolaWatch: Alarms, American angst, Africa


We begin with another illness, and just as scary via Reuters:

Outbreak of Ebola-like Marburg fever kills man in Uganda

A man has died in Uganda’s capital after an outbreak of Marburg, a highly infectious hemorrhagic fever similar to Ebola, authorities said on Sunday, adding that a total of 80 people who came into contact with him were quarantined.

Marburg starts with a severe headache followed by haemorrhaging and leads to death in 80 percent or more of cases in about nine days. It is from the same family of viruses as Ebola, which has killed thousands in West Africa in recent months.

There is no vaccine or specific treatment for the Marburg virus, which is transmitted through bodily fluids such as saliva and blood or by handling infected wild animals such as monkeys.

The health ministry said in a statement that the 30-year old radiographer died on Sept. 28 while working at a hospital in Kampala. He had started feeling unwell about 10 days earlier, and his condition kept deteriorating. He complained of headache, abdominal pain, vomiting blood and diarrhoea.

From the Observer, alarming words:

‘In 1976 I discovered Ebola, now I fear an unimaginable tragedy’

  • Peter Piot was a researcher at a lab in Antwerp when a pilot brought him a blood sample from a Belgian nun who had fallen mysteriously ill in Zaire

Why did WHO react so late?

On the one hand, it was because their African regional office isn’t staffed with the most capable people but with political appointees. And the headquarters in Geneva suffered large budget cuts that had been agreed to by member states. The department for haemorrhagic fever and the one responsible for the management of epidemic emergencies were hit hard. But since August WHO has regained a leadership role.

There is actually a well-established procedure for curtailing Ebola outbreaks: isolating those infected and closely monitoring those who had contact with them. How could a catastrophe such as the one we are now seeing even happen?

I think it is what people call a perfect storm: when every individual circumstance is a bit worse than normal and they then combine to create a disaster. And with this epidemic there were many factors that were disadvantageous from the very beginning. Some of the countries involved were just emerging from terrible civil wars, many of their doctors had fled and their healthcare systems had collapsed. In all of Liberia, for example, there were only 51 doctors in 2010, and many of them have since died of Ebola.

China Daily sounds another alarm:

Ebola could reach France and UK by end-Oct

Scientists have used Ebola disease spread patterns and airline traffic data to predict a 75 percent chance the virus could be imported to France by October 24, and a 50 percent chance it could hit Britain by that date.

Those numbers are based on air traffic remaining at full capacity. Assuming an 80 percent reduction in travel to reflect that many airlines are halting flights to affected regions, France’s risk is still 25 percent, and Britain’s is 15 percent.

“It’s really a lottery,” said Derek Gatherer of Britain’s Lancaster University, an expert in viruses who has been tracking the epidemic – the worst Ebola outbreak in history.

From the Los Angeles Times, expectation:

U.S. official ‘would not be surprised’ if new Ebola case emerges in Texas

The federal government’s top infectious disease expert said Sunday he wouldn’t be surprised if one of the people who had close contact with the Ebola patient in Dallas contracts the deadly virus.

But the official, Dr. Anthony S. Fauci of the National Institutes of Health, along with Dr. Tom Frieden, head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, appeared on four Sunday TV talk shows to stress that U.S. health authorities are taking aggressive steps to prevent an outbreak here even if another case appears.

The mixed message came as Thomas Eric Duncan, the Liberian who was the first person in the U.S. to be diagnosed with the virus that is suspected of killing more than 3,400 people in West Africa, remained in critical condition at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital.

“It’s really understandable that people are scared. It’s a deadly virus,” Frieden said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

From the New York Times, an update:

Ebola Patient in Dallas ‘Fighting for His Life,’ C.D.C. Director Says

The Ebola patient in Dallas is “fighting for his life,” but he remains the only confirmed victim of the disease in the United States, and public health officials remain confident about their ability to contain the disease, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Sunday.

While expressing such confidence about the American effort, the director, Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, said on the CNN program “State of the Union” that in Africa, “the virus is spreading so fast that it’s hard to keep up.”

As top public health officials worked to educate the American public about the highly deadly disease without fueling a sense of panic, Dr. Anthony S. Fauci of the National Institutes of Health said on Sunday that there was nothing to support fears that the disease is more readily transmissible than previously believed, or that American troops setting up medical facilities in West Africa could spread Ebola upon their return. Both possibilities had been raised by Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky.

CBC News sounds an alarm:

Dallas Ebola case: Officials seek ‘low risk’ homeless man linked to Ebola case

  • 50 people being monitored for signs of the deadly disease who may have had contact with patient

Officials in Texas are looking for a homeless man who may have had contact with an Ebola patient hospitalized in Dallas. The man, who walked away from a health facility Saturday after having his temperature tested, is considered at low risk.

“We have a great place for him to stay and we can attend to his every need. We just need him to be a hero to his community and to come forward,” Clay Lewis Jenkins, Dallas County judge, said at a news conference Sunday.

Jenkins added that police and other public officials are looking for the man, who is part of a larger group of 38 people who may have been around Duncan when he was showing symptoms of the disease.

And the Associated Press damps it down:

Officials locate possible Ebola patient contact

Authorities say they’ve located a homeless man who needs to be monitored because he may have had contact with the lone Ebola patient in the United States.

Dallas city spokeswoman Sana Syed said the man was located Sunday, a few hours after officials first said he was missing.

The person is not considered to be one of the 10 people who definitely had contact with Thomas Eric Duncan, who is in critical condition at a Dallas hospital.

Reassurance from the Christian Science Monitor:

CDC official: ‘We know how to stop Ebola’

Authorities around the country are investigating reports of Ebola-like symptoms among patients. But so far, there is just one confirmed case of the disease in the US, and the head of the CDC says, “We can stop it in its tracks.”

As concern mounts over Ebola, US officials in charge of dealing with the infectious disease have one basic message meant to address public fears:

“The bottom line here is we know how to stop it,” says Tom Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Speaking on NBC’s “Meet the Press” Sunday, Dr. Frieden explained his confidence: “It’s not going to spread widely in the US, for two basic reasons. We can do infection control in hospitals, and we can do public health interventions that can stop it in its tracks. We do that by identifying every possible contact, monitoring them for 21 days and if they get any symptoms, isolating and monitoring them as well.”

While the Washington Post looks at the bigger picture:

Out of control

How the world’s health organizations failed to stop the Ebola disaster

The virus easily outran the plodding response. The WHO, an arm of the United Nations, is responsible for coordinating international action in a crisis like this, but it has suffered budget cuts, has lost many of its brightest minds and was slow to sound a global alarm on Ebola. Not until Aug. 8, 4-1/2 months into the epidemic, did the organization declare a global emergency. Its Africa office, which oversees the region, initially did not welcome a robust role by the CDC in the response to the outbreak.

Previous Ebola outbreaks had been quickly throttled, but that experience proved misleading and officials did not grasp the potential scale of the disaster. Their imaginations were unequal to the virulence of the pathogen.

“In retrospect, we could have responded faster. Some of the criticism is appropriate,” acknowledged Richard Brennan, director of the WHO’s Department of Emergency Risk Management and Humanitarian Response. But he added, “While some of the criticism we accept, I think we also have to get things in perspective that this outbreak has a dynamic that’s unlike everything we’ve ever seen before and, I think, has caught everyone unawares.”

The epidemic has exposed a disconnect between the aspirations of global health officials and the reality of infectious disease control. Officials hold faraway strategy sessions about fighting emerging diseases and bioterrorism even as front-line doctors and nurses don’t have enough latex gloves, protective gowns, rehydrating fluid or workers to carry bodies to the morgue.

More from Reuters:

Aid workers ask where was WHO in Ebola outbreak?

In the first days of the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, as aid workers and health authorities battled to contain the deadly virus, Mariano Lugli asked himself a simple question: where was the World Health Organization?

Lugli, an Italian nurse, was among the first responders from medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) to reach the remote forests of Guinea in March where the hemorrhagic fever – one of the most lethal diseases known to man – was detected.

When the epidemic spread to the capital Conakry, Lugli set up a second Ebola clinic there. He encountered a foreign medic and a logistician sent by the U.N. health agency but saw no sign of a WHO official in charge of handling the escalating outbreak.

“In all the meetings I attended, even in Conakry, I never saw a representative of the WHO,” said Lugli, deputy director of operations for MSF Switzerland. “The coordination role that WHO should be playing, we just didn’t see it. I didn’t see it the first three weeks and we didn’t see it afterwards.”

More reality — and its lack — on the ground via the South African Government News Agency:

Fight against Ebola hampered by gaps in data, hidden cases

Ebola’s rapid spread through West Africa has been quickened by the difficulty of keeping track of the deadly disease, and filling in the huge gaps in knowledge about the epidemic is key to eventually containing it, health experts say.

UN and World Health Organization data show the number of cases across the region had reached 7 423 by September 29, including 3 355 deaths. That is widely agreed to be an underestimate.

Many patients are not counted because they never get medical help, perhaps hidden by fearful families or turned away by overwhelmed clinics. Some villages have turned into “shadow zones” where villagers’ resistance or the remote location makes investigating numerous deaths impossible.

In Liberia, a surge of previously unknown patients who appear whenever a medical facility opens “suggests the existence of an invisible caseload of patients”, the WHO said in August.

Last week, the U.S. Centres for Disease Control estimated there would be 8 000 cases reported in Liberia and Sierra Leone by September 30, but said the true figure would likely be 21 000 after correcting for under-reporting.

CCTV Africa covers another side of the ongoing public health disaster:

UN estimates there are almost 4000 young children orphaned by Ebola

Program notes:

Ebola outbreak is having a huge impact on children in the West African region. The UN estimates ebola has orphaned almost 4,000 youngsters already – and says the number could double in coming weeks. Many of the orphans are shunned – but for some, there is help.

And another frightening number from Reuters:

Sierra Leone records 121 Ebola deaths in a single day

Sierra Leone recorded 121 deaths from Ebola and scores of new infections in one of the single deadliest days since the disease appeared in the West African country more than four months ago, government health statistics showed on Sunday.

The figures, which covered the period through Saturday, put the total number of deaths at 678, up from 557 the day before. The daily statistics compiled by Sierra Leone’s Emergency Operations Centre also showed 81 new cases of the hemorrhagic fever.

The overall death toll from the epidemic reached 3,439 out of a total of 7,492 cases in West Africa and the United States as of Oct. 1, the World Health Organization said last week. The U.N. agency’s statistics varied from those compiled by Sierra Leone.

TheLocal.se lends a hand:

Sweden boosts Ebola fight funds

Sweden has announced that it is boosting funds to be used in the fight against the spread of Ebola with most of the aid channelled through the UN and NGOs.

“If we don’t stop the spread of the disease we are heading for a catastrophe,” said Ewa Nunes Sörensson, Sweden’s ambassador to Liberia to the Dagens Nyheter daily.

Sweden has decided to boost its provision of aid funds from 35 million kronor to above 100 million kronor with most of the money to various NGOs such as Save the Children and Doctors Without Borders.

United Nations organisations such as WHO, Unicef and Unhas will also benefit from the funds.

The Los Angeles Times traces etiology:

From Guinea to Dallas: Tracing the Ebola threat

It began in a village deep in the forests of southeastern Guinea, when a 2-year-old boy named Emile developed a mysterious illness.

Nothing, it seemed, could stem the child’s fever and vomiting, and he died within days. A week later, the illness killed his 3-year-old sister, then his mother, grandmother and a house guest.

The grandmother consulted a nurse before she died. Friends and family gathered for her funeral, and soon the illness was spreading down rutted dirt tracks to other villages and towns.

Local health officials were alarmed, but it would take nearly three months from the boy’s death in December to identify the culprit: the dreaded Ebola virus. By then, the lethal virus had reached Guinea’s bustling capital, Conakry, and there were suspected cases across the border in Liberia and Sierra Leone.

Via New Zimbabwe, concerns in a country a long way from the West African hot zone :

Stop Ebola Scare Tactics, Parirenyatwa

HEALTH Minister David Parirenyatwa has urged health workers to partner the government in spreading information about the deadly Ebola virus but warned them not to scare the people.

Parirenyatwa told a gathering of pharmacists in Victoria Falls on Saturday that people had been misinformed on the symptoms of the epidemic sweeping across West African countries where 3 300 people have been confirmed dead so far since its outbreak in March this year.

“There is no Ebola in Zimbabwe contrary to reports going around and we hope we will remain free from it,” he said. “All you have to do is help spread the correct information to the citizenry that coughing and sneezing which people always associate with symptoms are not signs of the disease. “There must be contact first for one to contract the disease as it spreads through contact,” he said. Parirenyatwa, who is also chairman of Sadc Health Ministers, allayed fears of any outbreak in Zimbabwe saying the country was Ebola-free although it will remain on high alert.

Punch Nigeria covers a familiar process, the politcalization of peril:

APC frustrated by Nigeria’s success on Ebola containment -PDP

The leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party has lambasted the All Progressives Congress for what it described as its yet another failed attempt to discredit the PDP-led Federal Government and relegate its efforts in the containment of the Ebola Virus Disease in Nigeria.

PDP National Publicity Secretary, Olisa Metuh, in a statement in a Abuja on Sunday, said the APC was frustrated and unhappy because Nigerians are happy with the PDP-led Federal Government for “the speed and energy with which it tackled the scourge and brought it under control.”

“We know that the APC prefers that the Ebola scourge continued unabated in Nigeria so as to have what to blame the PDP-led government for. Now that it has been contained, the APC is frustrated because the people are happy with President Goodluck Jonathan and the PDP-led Federal Government for the proactive manner with which the disease was confronted and overcame,” the party said.

And from Punch Nigeria again, metaphor become reality:

Akon performs in giant bubble to avoid Ebola

In an effort to guard against contracting the Ebola Virus Disease, a United States-based R&B star, Akon, last Sunday climbed inside an airtight blow-up during a performance in Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo.

The singer rolled over the crowd, pushed along by the outstretched hands of 60,000 screaming concert-goers while performing at a concert.

The performance was part of a larger free concert held by charity, ‘Peace One Day,’ to help promote and support the United Nations’ International Day Of Peace.

Akon was, however, accused of going to extreme lengths to avoid catching Ebola during a concert in Africa by crowd-surfing inside a giant plastic bubble.

CCTV Africa covers voluntary confrontation with peril:

Liberia’s ex- police chief joins Ebola fight

Program notes:

The raging Ebola outbreak has taken more than two thousand lives in Liberia. This has prompted some people to divert their careers from the usual path, as part of joint efforts to contain the spread of the deadly disease. Former Police Commissioner Samuel Nimley is usually in charge of police work involving Interpol matters.

From TheLocal.fr, another Northerner saved:

French nurse cured of Ebola

A French nurse who contracted Ebola while volunteering for Doctors Without Borders (MSF) in Liberia has been cured of the deadly virus, the French health minister said Saturday.

The nurse, who has not been identified, “is now cured and has left hospital,” Marisol Touraine said in a statement.

The first French national to be infected with the virus was airlifted back to France on September 19 and received experimental treatment at a military hospital on the outskirts of Paris.

From Raw Story, the merger of Ebola and GOP extremism focused on black people:

Former SC GOP director: Execute anyone who comes into contact with Ebola — ‘it’s just math’

The former general counsel and executive director of the South Carolina Republican Party is coming under fire for the novel solutions to the Ebola epidemic he is posting on Twitter.

The vehemently pro-life Todd Kincannon began by arguing that anyone who contracts Ebola should be summarily executed.

Schadenfreude alert: Setback for a troll


An old friend forwarded an email to us this week, and the body of the text was brief:

Bulldog Reporter has filed for bankruptcy and has closed its’ door for good as of today. It has been a rough road for us and will be an even rougher road ahead for Jim.

The Jim is James Sinkinson, and Bulldog Reporter was a newsletter for the public relations industry, full of tips on how to cozzen an already enfeebled press into reproducing corporate, political, and NGO press releases in the news media.

More on the bankruptcy from O’Dwyer’s:

Bulldog Reporter, founded in 1979 and which has covered PR and the media for the Infocom Group since 1986, has ceased operations, it was announced by Jim Sinkinson, publisher.

He said that many of the website’s key products and services have declined in profitability and it is winding down its relationships with clients and vendors.

Legal assistance has been retained to assess options in bringing the business to a close.

Some of the 11 members on the masthead of the publication are in the job market.

Sinkinson is also a militant Ziocon, and one of the three main instigators of a ruthless campaign that finally cost the Berkeley Daily Planet many of its advertisers, hastening the newspaper’s demise as a print publication and leaving the city without a non-collegiate newspaper.

Sinkinson and his partners smeared the paper and its publisher with the brush of antisemitism and made all manner of false charges, which we debunked in an extensive investigation.

Sinkinson wrote each of the Daily Planet‘s advertisers and warned them that should they continue to buy ads, they would create backlash in Berkeley’s richest neighborhoods, where the city’s Jewish population is concentrated.

In addition, militant acolytes would show up in businesses, and one advertiser told us she had been left frightened for her well-being after one such visit and would, therefore reluctantly have to discontinue her ads.

Back in 2009 when his campaign was running at fever pitch, Hamilton Nolan of Gawker wrote this about Sinkinson and his war on the newspaper:

Jim Sinkinson, the publisher of Infocom Group and owner of Bulldog Reporter, which many of you PR people subscribe to in an effort to more effectively influence journalists, is currently leading a campaign to put The Berkeley Daily Planet, a liberal weekly, out of business, because he doesn’t like the fact that they publish “letters and other commentary pieces critical of Israel.”

“We think that [Daily Planet editor Becky] O’Malley is addicted to anti-Israel expression just as an alcoholic is to drinking,” Jim Sinkinson, who has led the campaign to discourage advertisers, wrote in an e-mail message… “If she wants to serve and please the East Bay Jewish community, she would be safer avoiding the subject entirely.”

Please, take a moment to reflect on the unapologetically gangster philosophy behind that quote. Reflect, also, on the fact that Sinkinson objects to the paper publishing submitted items that are not even part of the paper’s own editorial output. In other words, this “media relations” mogul objects to free speech, and is an asshole of the first order.

“Serve and please”? Really?

So we will dedicate the following video to Sinkinson, via graphic artist Shane Koyczan:

Troll — Shane Koyczan

Program note:

From the album and Graphic novel, ‘Silence Is A Song I Know All The Words To’ available for purchase, here.

We do hope those 11 folks who lost their jobs will find new employment.

Chart of the day III: Racism behind the badge


From the Public Religion Research Institute’s American Values Survey, dramatic evidence that an increasing number of American’s see police treatment of minorities as racially biased:

BLO Race

H/T to Sociological Images.

InSecurityWatch: Bombs, hacks, drones, zones


From The Intercept, making the connections:

Syria Becomes the 7th Predominantly Muslim Country Bombed by 2009 Nobel Peace Laureate

The U.S. today began bombing targets inside Syria, in concert with its lovely and inspiring group of five allied regimes: Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, and Jordan.

That means that Syria becomes the 7th predominantly Muslim country bombed by 2009 Nobel Peace Laureate Barack Obama—after Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, Libya and Iraq.

The utter lack of interest in what possible legal authority Obama has to bomb Syria is telling indeed: Empires bomb who they want, when they want, for whatever reason (indeed, recall that Obama bombed Libya even after Congress explicitly voted against authorization to use force, and very few people seemed to mind that abject act of lawlessness; constitutional constraints are not for warriors and emperors).

A headline from Bloomberg makes a similar point:

Who Still Thinks Obama’s a Pacifist Hippie?

The Los Angeles Times with pals:

5 Arab nations support U.S. in strikes inside Syria

The White House ordered air attacks on Islamic State militants in eastern Syria within 72 hours after five Arab allies agreed to participate in the attacks, the Pentagon’s top officer said Tuesday.

Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs, said the Arab governments only gave assurances they would join the operation over the last three days, prompting President Obama to give the order to commence the operation.

“The coalition came together quickly,” Dempsey told reporters traveling with him in Europe. “Once the coalition came together, that was the condition the president was most interested in.”

The White House withheld approval for strikes in Syria until Arab allies joined the attacks in hopes of showing that major Sunni regimes in the region were uniting against the Sunni extremist group after months of indecision, officials said.

The Independent notes an irony:

Syria air strikes: America’s attacks on Isis may help Bashar al-Assad keep his regime alive

  • But the Syrian leader will be watching with concern as the US’s use of air power spreads to include more targets outside its original stated aim

The moment America expanded its anti-Isis war into Syria, President Bashar al-Assad gained more military and political support than any other Arab leader can boast. With US bombs and missiles exploding across eastern and northern Syria, Assad can now count on America, Russia, China, Iran, the Hezbollah militia, Jordan and a host of wealthy Gulf countries to keep his regime alive. If ever that creaking old Arab proverb – that “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” – contained any wisdom, Assad has proved it true.

In his Damascus home, the Syrian leader can reflect that the most powerful nation on earth – which only last year wished to bomb him into oblivion – is now trying to bomb his most ferocious enemies into the very same oblivion. Sunni Saudis whose “charity” donations have funded the equally Sunni “Islamic State” now find their government supposedly helping the US to destroy it. As Shia Iran and its Hezbollah protégés battle the Sunni executioners and throat-slashers on the ground, US bom

More from the Associated Press:

Assad backs efforts to fight terrorism

Syrian President Bashar Assad said Tuesday he supports any international effort against terrorism, apparently trying to position his government on the side of the U.S.-led coalition conducting airstrikes against the Islamic State group. Damascus said the U.S. informed it beforehand that the strikes were coming.

Assad’s remarks came hours after the opening salvo in what the United States has warned will be a lengthy campaign aiming to defeat the extremists who have seized control of a huge swath of territory spanning the Syria-Iraq border.

One Syrian activist group reported that dozens of Islamic State group fighters were killed in the pre-dawn strikes, but the numbers could not be independently confirmed. Several activists also reported at least 10 civilians killed as well.

Still more from RT:

Airstrikes alone won’t help US to fight ISIS – Syrian FM to RT Arabic

Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Moualem says he is “confident” that those airstrikes will not be “effective, if there is no coordination of actions on the ground and if no ground military operations are carried out.”

“The US is mocking the whole world when they say that they are going to coordinate their actions not with the Syrian government, but with the moderate Syrian opposition. This is funny. What moderate opposition are you talking about?” Moualem told RT Arabic. “This moderate opposition is killing Syrians just like al-Nusra or ISIS.”

If the US wants to have positive results in their “fight with terrorism” they should “immediately” change their approach, he said.

TheLocal.at piles on:

Austria joins US-led coalition against Isis

Austria’s Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz has announced that Austria is now part of the US-led coalition against Islamic State (Isis) militants.

Kurz said that Austria’s participation will be political, but not military and that as a neutral country it will provide mainly humanitarian assistance to persecuted religious minorities such as Christians and Yazidis in Iraq and Syria.

As does Nikkei Asian Review:

Japan, US affirm cooperation in fight against Islamic militants

Japan’s foreign minister on Tuesday expressed support for U.S.-led airstrikes against the Islamic State in Syria, offering humanitarian aid to refugees fleeing the Sunni militants who have terrorized the region.

In a meeting here with Fumio Kishida, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry explained the airstrikes conducted jointly with European and Arab nations and plans going forward.

In response, the Japanese foreign minister pledged Japan’s cooperation, noting that he understands that the action was taken to prevent the situation from worsening. Kishida said he hopes “the latest action will lead to a weakening and the eventual defeat of the Islamic State, which poses a serious threat.”

While News Corp Australia sounds the latest alarm:

Terror threat from al-Qaeda veterans in Khorasan eclipses that of the Islamic State, US intelligence officials say

As the world reacts with horror to the Islamic State, the United States raised an alert over an “unholy mix” of militants specifically targeting the West.

As al-Qaeda fragments after the death of its leader Osama bin Laden, one of its many offshoots in the Middle East has named itself Khorasan. It asserts the sole reason for its existence is to attack the United States and Europe.

The White House believes them. The US military launched air strikes in Syria on Tuesday, targeting the Khorasan group.

From United Press International, if they told you what it was for they’d have to. . .:

Invertix wins place on Army intelligence services contract

  • Army taps Invertix for global intelligence support.

U.S. Army has selected Invertix Corporation to provide it with global intelligence support services.

Invertix, a subsidiary of Altamira Technologies Corporation, said it is one of a number of large businesses on the indefinite-delivery/indefinite quantity contract, which is for the Army Intelligence and Security Command.

The contract’s estimated period of performance is through September of 2019. Its ceiling value for all recipients is more than $5 billion.

The Wire takes one small step for mankind:

U.S. Will Ban Deadly Landmines (Outside of Korea)

The U.S. announced on Tuesday that it will halt its use of anti-personnel landmines with one major exception – their ongoing deployment on the Korean peninsula.

Officials had said in June that in accordance with the 1999 Ottawa Convention, the U.S. would stop producing or acquiring “anti-personnel munitions,” and they characterized Tuesday’s announcement as another step in that process.

As part of the change, the U.S. also will not assist or encourage other nations in the deployment of deadly landmines and would destroy all landmines “not required for the defense of the Republic of Korea.”

Xinhua catches the bug:

Suspected NSA listening post discovered in Vienna

A series of photos of what is believed to be an NSA-operated listening post on top of a skyscraper in the Austrian capital of Vienna have been circulated by Austrian media Tuesday.

The IZD Tower building is situated next to the Vienna International Centre that hosts the United Nations Office at Vienna (UNOV), with media reports speculating the suspected listening hut atop the building, which at first glance appears to be a maintenance hut, is used to receive signals from bugs installed at the UN premises.

Erich Moechel from radio station FM4 reported that the hut has an air conditioning unit, suspicious in that this is unusual for a maintenance hut, and may indicate that either the hut is manned, or there are electronics situated inside that need protection from excessive heat during the summer months.

Details from TheLocal.at:

ORF journalist Erich Möchel believes he has identified the listening station – located on top of the 140 metre high IZD tower in Vienna’s 22nd district – not far from the UN headquarters.

A series of photos that were leaked to the journalist show a hut on the roof that is enclosed by solid steel bars and monitored by ten cameras. It cannot be seen from the street.

Möchel writes that it looks like “a maintenance building” but speculates that there may be equipment in the hut that can monitor mobile networks.

He adds that together with the US Embassy in Vienna’s 9th district and the ‘NSA villa’ in Pötzleinsdorf which is also assumed to be a listening post, the NSA could be spying on the whole city – as far as Schwechat.

The US embassy declined to comment on the allegations, as did the Interior Ministry.

While Assange was played on the big screen by Benedict Cumberbatch, a star of a different type has been picked to play NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. From the Guardian:

Joseph Gordon-Levitt to play Edward Snowden in Oliver Stone’s NSA whistleblower movie

  • Dark Knight Rises star to take central role in one of two duelling versions of account of National Security Agency files leak, adapted from Guardian journalist’s book

Joseph Gordon-Levitt has agreed to take the lead role in Oliver Stone’s forthcoming biopic of the NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, reports Variety.

Negotiations on the deal have not yet begun, but both men are keen on making it happen. Production on The Snowden Files, titled after the book by Guardian journalist Luke Harding, is due to begin late this year or in the early part of 2015.

The film, which Stone is writing and directing, now looks likely to be based on two books, Harding’s account – full title The Snowden Files: The Inside Story of the World’s Most Wanted Man – and Time of the Octopus by Snowden’s lawyer, Anatoly Kucherena. Stone recently picked up the screen rights to the latter tome after optioning Harding’s book in June.

And whilst on that personage portrayed by Cumerbatch, News Corp Australia assuages Assange:

Swedish prosecutors say it is ‘far-fetched’ to think WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange will be extradited to the US

SWEDISH prosecutors say it is “far-fetched” to think that fugitive Wikileaks founder Julian Assange could be extradited to the United States if he returned to Sweden.

It was the first time that Swedish prosecutors, who want to question the 43-year-old Australian on allegations of rape and sexual molestation, commented on the likelihood that he could be sent to the US.

Assange refuses to return to Sweden and has been holed up since 2012 in London in the embassy of Ecuador, which granted him political asylum the same year.

More from TheLocal.se:

Swedish prosecutors made their statement in a written reply to arguments made by Assange’s lawyers, who have appealed a decision by a Swedish court in July this year to uphold the arrest warrant against him.

The Court of Appeal in Stockholm is expected to announce its decision within the next week.

If it scraps the European arrest warrant against Assange, it could mean that he would be able to leave the Ecuadoran embassy.

The arrest warrant was issued to enable Swedish prosecutors to question Assange about charges brought against him by two women in their 30s. Assange denies the accusations.

And to complete the circle, uniting the interests of both, via RT:

A state within a state at an alarming rate: Assange says NSA just keeps on growing

In his book ‘Cypherpunks: Freedom and the Future of the Internet,’ Assange says that opponents of WikiLeaks aim to try to distract attention from actual revelations, rather than trying to provide answers to the questions posed.

“If we go back and look at what the US military is: Robert Gates and General McMullan said our publications were hypothetical and maybe they would cause harm. Our publications documented their involvement at a case-by-case level in the deaths of more than 20,000 people in Afghanistan and more than 108,000 people in Iraq. Those are the mistakes that we are talking about. Not only is this the dissolution of two societies, but also the deaths of over 100,000 people. So when you want to distract from this, you just make the same accusation to the person that is making the accusation against you. In 2013, in the trial of Chelsea Manning – who was subsequently sentenced to 35 years for giving information to the media and only for giving information to the media – the US government said that under the oath they could not find a single person who had been harmed, not a single person.”

Despite Snowden’s revelations about the NSA’s widespread spying, both domestically and abroad, the Australian does not think things will get better in the near future. Instead, he says things are getting worse – with the creation of a state within a state.

“There now six million people in the United States with security clearances. That is more than the population of Norway, New Zealand, or Scotland. That is in effect a state within a state. Why is it a state within a state? Because people that have security clearances have extra laws that they are meant to obey. That is extremely alarming [at the] moment, if we go back to 2010, just back to when it was 2.5 million. So there has been more than a doubling in the size of the National Security State within the US in just 4-5 years.”

After the jump, freakout over Google and Apple encyption, do your Like corporate datapervs? [and with drones?], hacks at Stanford, hacking away in Europe, the latest iHack, Google kicks the Koch habit, another moronic celebrity hacking threat and an overreaching legal effort to stem such things, an Argentine security threat, an expanded Pakistani nuclear arsenal, super-secrecy Down Under, the latest player in the Game of Zones and moves by another player, and more. . . Continue reading

InSecurityWatch: Spooks, hacks, war, weapons


For the first item in today’s compendium pf the world of spies, snoops, cops, crimes, wars, geopolitics, hackery, and the like, we turn to reassurance from the Guardian:

CIA chief: ‘If I’ve done something wrong, I’ll stand up and admit it’

  • John Brennan expresses frustration with Senate and media while decrying lack of trust in agency at intelligence conference

The director of the Central Intelligence Agency expressed frustration with his Senate overseers and the media on Thursday, even as he and his fellow heads of US intelligence agencies pledged to win back the trust of a skeptical American public.

“I certainly believe having the public’s trust makes all of our jobs much easier and better,” Brennan said on a panel at an intelligence conference, where he was joined by his colleagues at the helms of the National Security Agency, the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency and the Defense Intelligence Agency.

But ahead of an impending clash with the Senate intelligence committee, which is due to release a public version of a report into CIA torture in the coming weeks, Brennan rejected “the narratives I see floating around the media.”

From Gigaom, someone’s takin’ a bit out of the Apple:

Apple’s “warrant canary” disappears, suggesting new Patriot Act demands

When Apple published its first Transparency Report on government activity in late 2013, the document contained an important footnote that stated: “Apple has never received an order under Section 215 of the USA Patriot Act. We would expect to challenge such an order if served on us.”

Writer and cyber-activist Cory Doctorow at the time recognized that language as a so-called “warrant canary,” which Apple was using to thwart the secrecy imposed by the Patriot Act.

Warrant canaries are a tool used by companies and publishers to signify to their users that, so far, they have not been subject to a given type of law enforcement request such as a secret subpoena. If the canary disappears, then it is likely the situation has changed — and the company has been subject to such request.

Now, Apple’s warrant canary has disappeared. A review of the company’s last two Transparency Reports, covering the second half of 2013 and the first six months of 2014, shows that the “canary” language is no longer there.

From the Register, score another one for Edward the Leaker:

Snowden’s NSA leaks have galvanised the storage world

  • Vendors raise their game after gov securo-busting revealed

In a recent CyberArk survey of 373 C-level and IT security executives across North America, Europe and the Asia-Pacific, 37 per cent of respondents said Snowden’s breach of NSA security had influenced their security strategy more than any other incident over the past year.

Difficult decisions are having to be made across industries. Where and how to store data tops the list of priorities. Who to trust has also become a pertinent question when it comes to access management and procurement processes. Storage and security have become sexy again.

Indeed, one of the material outcomes of Snowden’s leaks has already been realised: inspired by renewed consumer and business interest in privacy, technology is becoming more secure.

From the New York Times, oversharing reported by James Bamford:

Israel’s N.S.A. Scandal

In Moscow this summer, while reporting a story for Wired magazine, I had the rare opportunity to hang out for three days with Edward J. Snowden. It gave me a chance to get a deeper understanding of who he is and why, as a National Security Agency contractor, he took the momentous step of leaking hundreds of thousands of classified documents.

Among his most shocking discoveries, he told me, was the fact that the N.S.A. was routinely passing along the private communications of Americans to a large and very secretive Israeli military organization known as Unit 8200. This transfer of intercepts, he said, included the contents of the communications as well as metadata such as who was calling whom.

Typically, when such sensitive information is transferred to another country, it would first be “minimized,” meaning that names and other personally identifiable information would be removed. But when sharing with Israel, the N.S.A. evidently did not ensure that the data was modified in this way.

Mr. Snowden stressed that the transfer of intercepts to Israel contained the communications — email as well as phone calls — of countless Arab- and Palestinian-Americans whose relatives in Israel and the Palestinian territories could become targets based on the communications. “I think that’s amazing,” he told me. “It’s one of the biggest abuses we’ve seen.”

From RT, bloody irony:

GTA-ISIS: Militants hooking youngsters with ‘Jihad video game’ trailer

Islamic State (IS) militants have released a jihadist video game trailer in which the aim is to destroy Iraqi and US forces, Arabic media report. The game, styling itself as a Grand Theft Auto adaptation, appears specifically aimed at young people.

The recruitment propaganda video trailer aimed to “raise the morale of the mujahedin and to train children and youth how to battle the West and to strike terror into the hearts of those who oppose the Islamic State,” according to the media wing of the IS (formerly known as ISIS), cited in Arabic media.

“The content includes all of the organization’s military tactics against its opponents,” the Islamic state said.

Homeland Security News Wire covers an intelligence failure:

U.S. intelligence, leaders unclear on exact danger posed by ISIS

Considerable discrepancies in the reporting from U.S. intelligence services regarding the strength of the Islamic State (IS) have led critics to the conclusion that the U.S. intelligence community knows little about the terrorists’ actual strength as the United States is in the process of developing a military strategy to defeat the Islamist organization.

Considerable discrepancies in the reporting from U.S. intelligence services regarding the strength ofthe Islamic State (IS) have led critics to the conclusion that the U.S. intelligence community knows little about the terrorists’ actual strength as the United States is in the process of developing a military strategy to defeat the Islamist organization.

From the Associated Press, The Most Transparent Administration in History™ flunks the test, again:

Journalists view Obama administration’s transparency as much worse than Bush’s

Editors and reporters meeting in Chicago raised concerns Wednesday about what they described as a lack of access and transparency undermining journalists’ work, several blaming the current White House for setting standards for secrecy that are spreading nationwide.

Criticism of President Barack Obama’s administration on the issue of openness in government came on the last day of a three-day joint convention of the American Society of News Editors, the Associated Press Media Editors and the Associated Press Photo Managers.

“The White House push to limit access and reduce transparency has essentially served as the secrecy road map for all kinds of organizations — from local and state governments to universities and even sporting events,” Brian Carovillano, AP managing editor for U.S. news, said during a panel discussion.

James Risen, a New York Times reporter who is facing potential jail time as he battles government efforts to force him to testify at the trial of a former CIA officer accused of leaking classified information, also spoke at the conference. Risen said intense pressure on reporters and their sources is having a chilling effect on newsgathering.

He spoke of scaring one source just by going to his home and knocking on the front door. “He opened the door and he turned white,” Risen said. “He marches me back through the kitchen [to a back exit] and said, “‘Go out that way.’”

Guns beat butter again, via the Guardian:

UN to cut food aid to Syria

Without more money, World Food Programme warns food rations will be reduced and voucher schemes slashed

The UN warned on Thursday that it will be forced to cut food rations for more than 6 million Syrians from next month unless it received more funding.

The World Food Programme said that while it still expects to reach almost 6 million Syrians inside the country and in neighbouring states in October and November, there will be significant cuts to the amount of food delivered. The WFP said it had no money for programmes in December.

A WFP official told Reuters that the food basket for Syrians could shrink to 825 calories, well under half the daily recommended intake.

From the Associated Press, bordering on sanity:

Border Patrol to test wearing cameras

The U.S. Border Patrol will begin testing body-worn cameras on agents next month, the head of its parent agency said Thursday, a step toward seeing if the technology should be used in the field as the government seeks to blunt criticism about agents’ use of force.

R. Gil Kerlikowske, Customs and Border Protection commissioner since March, said a variety of cameras will be tested beginning Oct. 1 at the Border Patrol’s training academy in Artesia, New Mexico.

He didn’t say when or even if cameras will be introduced to the roughly 21,000 agents in the field.

From Sky News, making a good point:

Assange: ‘Google Like A Privatised NSA’

  • Julian Assange tells Sky News the search engine gathers and files information just like America’s National Security Agency.

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has accused Google of behaving like a “privatised version of the NSA” in the way it collects and stores information about people.

He told Sky News the internet giant was not doing anything illegal but its behaviour was highly questionable. “It is not doing things which are illegal, what it is doing is legal,” he said. “It is collecting as much information about people as possible, storing it, indexing it, and using it to create profiles of people and then selling that to advertisers and others.

“Those are the same procedures that security agencies go through. That is why the NSA has latched on top of what Google is doing. Since 2009 the NSA had been engaged in the Prism system where information collected online is available to it.”

The accompanying video from Sky News:

Julian Assange ‘Will Leave Embassy With Asylum Intact’

Program note:

Sky’s Sarah Hewson talks to Wikileaks founder Julian Assange inside the Ecuadorian embassy in London.

From BuzzFeed, and reminding us of the a high school joke about the cat, who crept in, crapped, and crept out:

U.S. Company Distances Itself From Egyptian Surveillance System

  • And the website of its Egyptian affiliate is taken down.

The U.S.-based Blue Coat company has issued a statement distancing itself from a project to monitor Twitter, Facebook, and Skype in Egypt, following a BuzzFeed News report.

Egyptian officials had told BuzzFeed News that a company called See Egypt had won a tender to begin providing the government with a surveillance system that would allow them to comb through data from Skype, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, among others. In interviews, the Egypt-based SeeEgypt called itself a “sister company” to Blue Coat, and listed the company as one of their affiliates.

Now, Blue Coat has issued a response saying that their products are not being resold to the Egyptian government.

From the Dissenter, gee, are we surprised:

Email Suggests Manufacturer of Stingray Surveillance Equipment May Have Lied to FCC

The American Civil Liberties Union has accused the manufacturer of StingRay surveillance products of providing inaccurate information and possibly even lying to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), which is the agency that is supposed to regulate communications over cable, radio, satellite, television and wire.

Harris Corporation is one of the leading manufacturers of StingRay technology. The technology was “initially designed for the military and intelligence community” and “operates by mimicking cellular service providers’ base stations and forcing all cellular phones in range to register their electronic serial numbers and other identifying information,” according to the ACLU.

The ACLU of Northern California chapter managed to obtain a series of emails from 2010 between the FCC’s Office of Engineering and Technology (OET) and Harris Corporation employees, where the “equipment authorization application for law enforcement use of Harris’ StingRay line of products” is being discussed.

After the jump, a death sentence for an Iranian blogger, beating the messenger in Russia, Plasticopalypse Now!, a horrifying traffic scenario suggested, China bases more claims in troubled waters, and a top cop’s curious pal. . . Continue reading

InSecurityWatch: Wars, spies, hacks, threats


While environmental news was in short supply today, not so stories from the realms of the bellicose, the intrusive, and the criminal.

First up, from the Los Angeles Times, that way madness lies:

Cameron vows to destroy Islamic State ‘and what it stands for’

British Prime Minister David Cameron on Sunday praised slain British aid worker David Haines as a hero and pledged to continue working as part of an international coalition to “hunt down those responsible and bring them to justice no matter how long it takes.”

The militant group Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, released a video Saturday purporting to show his beheading. Britain’s Foreign Office said the video appeared to be authentic.

“Step by step we must drive back, dismantle and ultimately destroy ISIL and what it stands for,” Cameron said. “They are not Muslims, they are monsters.”

From BBC News, boots on the way to meet ground:

Islamic State crisis: Australia to send 600 troops to UAE

Australia says it is sending 600 troops to the Middle East ahead of possible combat operations against Islamic State (IS) militants in Iraq.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott said the deployment, initially to the United Arab Emirates, was in response to a specific US request.

Nearly 40 countries, including 10 Arab states, have signed up to a US-led plan to tackle the extremist group. France is hosting a regional security summit on Monday.

From the New York Times, piling on:

Arab Nations Offer to Conduct Airstrikes Against ISIS, U.S. Officials Say

Several Arab countries have offered to carry out airstrikes against militants from the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, senior State Department officials said on Sunday.

The offer was disclosed by American officials traveling with Secretary of State John Kerry, who is approaching the end of a weeklong trip that was intended to mobilize international support for the campaign against the group, also known as ISIS.

“There have been offers both to Centcom and to the Iraqis of Arab countries taking more aggressive kinetic action,” said one of the officials, who used the acronym for the United States Central Command, which oversees military operations in the Middle East.

The Associated Press covers the revenue front:

Oil smuggling, theft, extortion: How ISIS earns $3M a day

Islamic State militants, who once relied on wealthy Persian Gulf donors for money, have become a self-sustaining financial juggernaut, earning more than $3 million a day from oil smuggling, human trafficking, theft and extortion, according to U.S. intelligence officials and private experts.

The extremist group’s resources exceed that “of any other terrorist group in history,” said a U.S. intelligence official who, like others interviewed, spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss classified assessments. Such riches are one reason that American officials are so concerned about the group even while acknowledging they have no evidence it is plotting attacks against the United States.

The Islamic State group has taken over large sections of Syria and Iraq, and controls as many as 11 oil fields in both countries, analysts say. It is selling oil and other goods through generations-old smuggling networks under the noses of some of the same governments it is fighting: Kurdish-controlled northern Iraq, Turkey and Jordan.

From BuzzFeed, the hyperbolic:

Arizona Congressman Claims It’s “True That We Know That” ISIS Is On The U.S. Border

“It is true that we know that ISIS is present in Ciudad Juarez or they were within the last few weeks.” It appears he’s citing a report that federal authorities have dismissed.

A Republican Arizona congressman says ISIS currently is or has operated on the U.S. border in the past couple weeks, appearing to cite a report that federal authorities have dismissed.

Rep. Trent Franks, appearing on E.W. Jackson’s radio program over the weekend, appeared to cite a report from a conservative website that has been dismissed by federal law enforcement officials about ISIS operating in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, on the border with El Paso.

“It is true, that we know that ISIS is present in Ciudad Juarez or they were within the last few weeks,” Franks said. “So there’s no question that they have designs on trying to come into Arizona. The comment that I’ve made is that if unaccompanied minors can cross the border then certainly trained terrorists probably can to. It is something that is real.”

BBC News eavesdrops:

US and UK spy agencies ‘have access to German telecoms’

US and British intelligence services are able to secretly access information from German telecoms operators, according to a German newspaper report.

A programme called Treasure Map gives the NSA and its UK counterpart, GCHQ, data from operators including Deutsche Telekom, Der Spiegel said. The data is said to include information from networks as well as from individual computers and smart-phones.

Der Spiegel cites documents provided by US intelligence leaker Edward Snowden.

And from Der Spiegel itself:

Treasure Map: The NSA Breach of Telekom and Other German Firms

According to top-secret documents from the NSA and the British agency GCHQ, the intelligence agencies are seeking to map the entire Internet, including end-user devices. In pursuing that goal, they have broken into networks belonging to Deutsche Telekom.

When it comes to choosing code names for their secret operations, American and British agents demonstrate a flare for creativity. Sometimes they borrow from Mother Nature, with monikers such as “Evil Olive” and “Egoistic Giraffe.” Other times, they would seem to take their guidance from Hollywood. A program called Treasure Map even has its own logo, a skull superimposed onto a compass, the eye holes glowing in demonic red, reminiscent of a movie poster for the popular “Pirates of the Caribbean” series, starring Johnny Depp.

Treasure Map is anything but harmless entertainment. Rather, it is the mandate for a massive raid on the digital world. It aims to map the Internet, and not just the large traffic channels, such as telecommunications cables. It also seeks to identify the devices across which our data flows, so-called routers.

Furthermore, every single end device that is connected to the Internet somewhere in the world — every smartphone, tablet and computer — is to be made visible. Such a map doesn’t just reveal one treasure. There are millions of them.

From Spiegel via Cryptome [PDF], the cover of the Treasure Map PowerPoint:

BLOG Treasure

And Deutsche Welle has more:

While NSA ‘maps’ the Internet landscape, German tech companies want Cloud cover

Microsoft Germany wants Cloud services to be regulated at home in a bid to protect data from foreign espionage. The announcement coincides with a new report pointing to NSA activities targeting German telecommunications.

In the latest efforts toward warding off foreign hackers, the head of Microsoft Germany is planning to develop Cloud technology that would be offered only within Germany.

Microsoft’s current computing centers in the Netherlands and Ireland are becoming more popular with the company’s biggest clients, Microsoft Germany head Christian Illek told the German daily Tagesspiegel on Sunday.

“But this is obviously not enough for medium-sized German companies,” Illek said.

And from the Intercept, still more:

Map of the Stars

  • The NSA and GCHQ Campaign Against German Satellite Companies

“Fuck!” That is the word that comes to the mind of Christian Steffen, the CEO of German satellite communications company Stellar PCS. He is looking at classified documents laying out the scope of something called Treasure Map, a top secret NSA program. Steffen’s firm provides internet access to remote portions of the globe via satellite, and what he is looking at tells him that the company, and some of its customers, have been penetrated by the U.S. National Security Agency and British spy agency GCHQ.

Stellar’s visibly shaken chief engineer, reviewing the same documents, shares his boss’ reaction. “The intelligence services could use this data to shut down the internet in entire African countries that are provided access via our satellite connections,” he says.

Treasure Map is a vast NSA campaign to map the global internet. The program doesn’t just seek to chart data flows in large traffic channels, such as telecommunications cables. Rather, it seeks to identify and locate every single device that is connected to the internet somewhere in the world—every smartphone, tablet, and computer—”anywhere, all the time,” according to NSA documents. Its internal logo depicts a skull superimposed onto a compass, the eyeholes glowing demonic red.

From the Guardian, another country, semantics elevated:

New Zealand PM deceiving public over spying claims, says Glenn Greenwald

  • Journalist says he will produce documents by Edward Snowden that prove John Key approved mass surveillance of citizens

An already tumultuous New Zealand election campaign took another dramatic turn less than a week before polling day when the prime minister, John Key, responded angrily to claims by the American journalist Glenn Greenwald that he had been “deceiving the public” over assurances on spying.

Greenwald, who is visiting New Zealand at the invitation of the German internet entrepreneur Kim Dotcom, says he will produce documents provided by the NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden that prove the New Zealand government approved mass surveillance of its residents by the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB), New Zealand’s equivalent of the NSA.

Dotcom, who is sought for extradition from New Zealand by the US on copyright charges relating to his now defunct Megaupload file-storage site, is hosting an event in Auckland on Monday called The Moment of Truth, which doubles as a rally for the Dotcom-founded Internet party.

From the Independent, the latest police flap:

Daniele Watts: Django Unchained actress detained in Los Angeles after being mistaken for a prostitute

Daniele Watts, an African-American actress who has starred in Hollywood films such as Django Unchained, has claimed she was “handcuffed and detained” by Los Angeles police officers after being mistaken for a prostitute.

Two police officers approached Watts and her white husband Brian James Lucas when they were seen showing affection in public, the actress said in a Facebook post.

She claims she refused to produce her photo ID when asked by police, and was then handcuffed and held in a police car as the officers tried to figure out who she was. She reportedly cut her wrist as she was handled roughly by the LAPD officers.

Watts also posted pictures to Facebook, in which she is handcuffed and crying. She was released shortly afterwards.

And from RT America, how ‘bout them apples, eh?:

American police scammed Canadian visitors out of $2.5 billion

Program notes:

American police are targeting their northern neighbors, according to a travel warning from the Canadian government. State and federal law enforcement officers are reportedly shaking down Canadians visiting the US, illegally confiscating legally carried cash. Over 61,000 of these incidents have occurred since 9/11, resulting in $2.5 billion being seized, according to The Washington Post. RT’s Alexey Yaroshevsky has more details on the trend.

From the Guardian, a ghost from the past:

Italy targets former Uruguayan naval officer over role in alleged torture

  • Jorge Néstor Fernández Troccoli denies any wrongdoing after accusations relating to South American’s dirty wars

Italian prosecutors are poised to seek charges of murder and kidnapping against a former Uruguayan naval intelligence officer accused of participating in South America’s dirty wars.

Jorge Néstor Fernández Troccoli has denied any wrongdoing. But in a 24-page document, he was said to have acknowledged that, in the 1970s when Uruguay’s civil-military government was cracking down on suspected leftwing insurgents and sympathisers, torture was a “normal procedure” in his unit. He insisted, however, that it did not go beyond “keeping prisoners for several hours on their feet without eating or drinking”.

In what La Stampa reported was his only statement to investigators, he was quoted as saying: “I declare myself innocent. I do not accept the accusations.”

After the jump, on to Asia starting with penal tourism, a Chinese anniversary, Sino/Canadian rapprochement, a Game of Zones escalation, and a rejection. . . Continue reading