Category Archives: Media

InSecurityWatch: Protest, war, drones, hacks


Plus the showdown in Hong Kong and lots more. . .

We begin with the Los Angeles Times:

Protests over Ferguson shooting enter third day; arrests in St. Louis

Activists rushed into St. Louis City Hall on Wednesday to protest a grand jury decision not to indict a white police officer who fatally shot an unarmed black man in nearby Ferguson as the region moved into its third day of demonstrations.

Hundreds of people demonstrated in front of the municipal building, shouting “Shame, Shame.” Some then entered the building and police, carrying riot shields, quickly responded.

As many as five people were arrested, officials said.

The Los Angeles Times again, with some numbers:

183 Ferguson protesters arrested in L.A., many more than in other cities

Los Angeles police arrested 183 protesters overnight Tuesday — a much larger number than in other major cities in the nation on the second night of protests over the grand jury decision in the Michael Brown shooting case.

Los Angeles Police Department Chief Charlie Beck, at a news conference Wednesday morning, said he could not speak to what had occurred in other parts of the country but that the LAPD and CHP had been “extremely generous in allowing the expression of 1st Amendment activities.”

A bulk of the arrests occurred Tuesday night. Of the 183 held, 167 were arrested for disturbing the peace, 15 juveniles for violating curfew, and one person was taken into custody for alleged felony battery after throwing a frozen water bottle at a police officer’s head, Beck said.

And closer to Casa esnl, via the Oakland Tribune:

Ferguson protest: 92 arrests in Oakland during 2nd night of looting, vandalism

Merchants on Wednesday were mopping up after a second night of vandalism and looting in the wake of a Missouri grand jury’s decision not to indict a police officer in the shooting death of Ferguson teenager Michael Brown.

Tuesday night saw 300 march through downtown and North Oakland — vastly reduced from Monday’s estimated crowd of 2,000 — with protesters taking to the freeways two different times to block lanes.

Officials said officers arrested 92 people on Tuesday night, mostly on charges of obstruction and failure to disperse. Police had arrested 43 people the night before.

From BuzzFeed, across the Atlantic:

Ferguson Protest Brings Parts Of Central London To A Standstill

  • Hundreds of people marched through central London in solidarity with Michael Brown, who was shot dead by police in Ferguson

Hundreds of protestors congregated outside London’s US embassy in the early evening to protest about the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.

Brown was shot dead by a police officer earlier this year. On Monday a grand jury decided that no charges would be brought against the officer involved.

Over 500 people were on the protest, which brought one of the capital’s main streets to a standstill.

A video report from RT:

London to Ferguson: Crowd protesting police racism tears down Parliament Square barriers

The McClatchy Washington Bureau makes connections:

Social media help take Ferguson protests national

“When you see people kneeling down on the highway, they’re trained to do that . . . it is just straight-up tactics from the civil rights movement,” James Peterson, director of Africana Studies at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pa., said in an interview Wednesday. “But social media certainly has been a great tool.”

Twitter, the popular micro-blogging service, has been engorged with Ferguson-related postings. Between Tuesday and Wednesday, 580,000 Tweets citing Ferguson were counted by the analytical service Topsy. One targeted hashtag, #BlackLivesMatter, was included in 72,000 Tweets in just one day.

Underscoring the reach of social media, prisoners at Boston’s South Bay Detention Facility held up signs reading “#BlackLivesMatter” to high-security windows. Other social media venues, such as Facebook, have likewise been aflame with Ferguson news and commentary. One page alone, called Justice for Mike Brown, had accumulated 43,934 “Likes” as of Wednesday.

Rounding out our Ferguson items, a graphic take from Jack Ohman, editorial cartoonist for the Sacramento Bee:

BLOG America

On to the war zones, now with Warthogs, via United Press International:

Air Force to deploy A-10s to combat Islamic State

  • “They’re going over there because there’s a need,” says the Air Force

A group of A-10 Thunderbolt fighter jets has arrived in the Middle East where they will be used to halt the spread of the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq.

The A-10s, or Warthogs, are currently the center of Washington debate — senior defense officials want to retire the 283 remaining A-10s to save nearly $4 billion, while many feel such a move would cut off one of the military’s more powerful tools.

“They’re going over there because there’s a need … to be postured for a combat rescue mission,” Air Force spokeswoman Jennifer Cassidy explained to Stars and Stripes.

Although slow and low flying, A-10s can transport and deploy massive amounts of fire power to support combat troops on the ground. The planes have armored bellies to protect pilots from ground fire, and can be armed with a 30mm Gatling cannon and a variety of bombs, missiles and other explosives.

The Christian Science Monitor has the hush-hush:

Why US is mum on special ops raid that rescued hostages in Yemen

  • Eight hostages were brought to safety Tuesday after an intense firefight at the cave in remote eastern Yemen where the hostages were being held by Al Qaeda

There are two good reasons the cover-of-night, US-led commando raid that rescued eight Al Qaeda hostages in Yemen Tuesday received none of the fanfare and public back-slapping of previous successful counterterror operations.

One is obvious: No Americans were among the hostages – six Yemenis, one Saudi, and one Ethiopian – brought to safety after an intense firefight at the cave in remote eastern Yemen where the hostages were being held.

But the other explanation is that the Obama administration is very much interested in seeing the successful operation, which included both US and Yemeni forces, reinforce Yemeni President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi. He is a stalwart US ally in the fight against Al Qaeda in the region, but his grasp on power has been repeatedly shaken over recent months.

Al Jazeera America covers the latest drone attacks:

US drone strike in Pakistan kills five suspected Taliban fighters

  • Strike follows critical report on number of innocent civilians killed in US drone strikes

A U.S. drone strike on Wednesday killed five suspected militants in northwest Pakistan, a government official said, as an anti-Taliban offensive by the Pakistani military grew in intensity. The deadly strike comes one day after a human rights group issued a report drawing international attention to the number of innocent lives claimed by U.S. drone strikes.

The drone strike on Wednesday targeted a house in Datta Khel near the Afghan border. Pakistani fighters in the area allegedly used the residence as a safe house.

“The Government of Pakistan condemns the drone strike that took place in the early hours of Wednesday, 26 November 2014 at Garga, north of Shawal in North Waziristan Agency,” the government said in a statement.

An update from the Express Tribune in Karachi:

Eight suspected militants killed in North Waziristan drone strike

Eight suspected militants were killed in latest US drone attack in border area of North Waziristan on Wednesday, security officials said.

“The drone fired two missiles, killing at least eight people and injuring two others,” a security official in the area told AFP via phone on condition of anonymity.

“There may be more dead bodies under the rubble,” he said.

The identity of those killed could not be determined immediately, however, few of them are believed to be foreign militants.

The same story as seen by Iran’s PressTV:

US drone attacks kill 11 people in Pakistan, Afghanistan

Program notes:

US assassination drone strikes in Pakistan and neighboring Afghanistan have killed nearly a dozen people.

A drone attack killed eight people in Pakistan’s tribal region along the Afghan border. The unmanned aircraft fired two missiles at a compound in the town of Dattakhel in North Waziristan. Three Afghans lost their lives in a similar attack in Afghanistan’s Laghman province. The US military conducts deadly drone strikes in several Muslim countries including Pakistan, Afghanistan and Yemen. Washington says the air raids target militants, but a large number of civilians have been killed in the attacks.

Drone coverage from the domestic front from the Washington Post:

Near-collisions between drones, airliners surge, new FAA reports show

Pilots around the United States have reported a surge in near-collisions and other dangerous encounters with small drones in the past six months at a time when the Federal Aviation Administration is gradually opening the nation’s skies to remotely controlled aircraft, according to FAA records.

Since June 1, commercial airlines, private pilots and air-traffic controllers have alerted the FAA about at least 25 episodes in which small drones came within a few seconds or a few feet of crashing into much larger aircraft, the records show. Many of the close calls occurred during takeoffs and landings at the nation’s busiest airports, presenting a new threat to aviation safety after decades of steady improvement in air travel.

Many of the previously unreported incident reports — released Wednesday by the FAA in response to long-standing public-records requests from The Washington Post and other news organizations — occurred near New York and Washington.

The Hill clicks Undelete:

National Archives backs off plan to destroy CIA emails

The National Archives and Records Administration is taking a second look at the CIA’s proposal to delete its employees’ emails after they leave the agency.

The record-keeping agency “intends to reassess” the proposal to destroy old emails of all but 22 top officials at the spy agency, chief records officer Paul Wester wrote to the agency last week.
Citing concerns from top congressional overseers and transparency advocates, “we are concerned about the scope of the proposed schedule and the proposed retention periods,” Wester wrote in the letter, which was unearthed by the Federation of American Scientists’s project on government secrecy on Wednesday.

The National Archives had tentatively backed the agency’s proposal to destroy “non-senior” staffers’ emails three years after they leave the agency “or when no longer needed.” At the time, the records agency said that any important communications will likely exist in other formats, which will be catalogued for a permanent record.

The Intercept spins the spin:

The US/UK Campaign to Demonize Social Media Companies as Terrorist Allies

In May, 2013, a British Army soldier, Lee Rigby, was killed on a suburban London street by two Muslim British citizens, who said they were acting to avenge years of killings of innocent Muslims by the British military in, among other places, Afghanistan and Iraq. One of the attackers, Michael Adebolajo, had also been detained and tortured in 2010 in Kenya with the likely complicity of Her Majesty’s Government. The brutal attack on Rigby was instantly branded “terrorism” (despite its targeting of a soldier of a nation at war) and caused intense and virtually universal indignation in the UK.

In response, the British Parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee resolved to investigate why the attack happened and whether it could have been prevented. Ensuring that nothing undesirable would occur, the investigation was led by the Committee’s chair, the long-time conservative government functionary Sir Malcolm Rifkind. Yesterday, Sir Malcolm’s Committee issued its findings in a 191-page report. It contains some highly predictable conclusions, but also some quite remarkable ones.

Predictably, the report, while offering some criticisms, completely cleared the British intelligence agencies of any responsibility for the attack. It concluded: “we do not consider that any of the Agencies’ errors, when taken individually, were significant enough to have affected the outcome,” and “we do not consider that, given what the Agencies knew at the time, they were in the position to prevent the murder.”

After the jump, the U.N. calls for releasing the CIA torture report, draconian new state security legislation in Old Blighty, France deprivatizes the phone tap, Google European breaking legal questions pondered, ap-tracking Twitter, Hookers in your cell phone, you annual cyberscam warning, China corporateers win disclosure in a U.S. court, Egypt sends children to prison for protesting, the death rattle of the Arab Spring in Cairo, Turkey clamps down on the Fourth Estate, the wrong song sends a Pakistani actress to price for decades, brutality allegations probed in Australian military academies,  Hong Kong police mass to block re-Occupation while some of the colleagues are busted for brutality, and tycoons seek their own Hong Kong asylum. . . Continue reading

Rudy, Rudy, Rudy: Giuliani sets MSM Ferguson spin


A fascinating segment from RT America focuses on the deft Ferguson semantic shuffle deployed by one of America’s more prominent Republicans, former federal prosecutor and New York Mayor Rudy Giulani, who after selling out his piece of a private security contracting firm has devoted his life to lobbying and lawyering for Big Oil and Big Pharma.

That his masters also share a vested interest in keeping folks of African and Latin American heritage off the voting roles also receives no attention whatsoever.

That television news turns to people like Giuliani without mentioning that his income comes from people who have every interest in preserving the corrupt status quo is a major journalistic sin, one that not even the RT producers interviewed in this segment bother to mention.

But their key point is valid: Giuliani deflects analysis of deep structural problems by endlessly harping on one theme that plays all too well with racist Republican base.

From RT America:

Rampant media malpractice of Ferguson coverage

Program notes:

Coverage of the Ferguson, Mo. unrest spans the usual spectrum of media malpractice. With many examples of misinformation and oversimplication, just how much can viewers trust what they see and hear? RT’s Tabetha Wallace and Tyrel Ventura discuss.

Interestingly, the same thoughts about Giuliani also occurred to a member of the mainstream media, Lexington Herald-Leader editorial cartoonist Joel Pett:

BLOG Rudi

InSecurityWatch: Cops, war, spooks, hacks, zones


Plus a major crackdown on Hong Kong Occupy encampments after the jump.

We begin with American domestic security via the Associated Press:

Brown family blasts prosecutor’s handling of case

Attorneys for Michael Brown’s family on Tuesday vowed to push for federal charges against the Ferguson police officer who killed the unarmed 18-year-old, and they renewed their calls for peace following a night of violent protests in which several businesses were burned to the ground.

The attorneys said the grand jury process was rigged from the start to clear Officer Darren Wilson in the Aug. 9 shooting death of Brown. And they criticized everything from the types of evidence St. Louis County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch presented to the jury to the way it was presented and the timing of the grand jury’s decision. They also said they hope that a federal civil rights investigation will result in charges against Wilson.

“We said from the very beginning that the decision of this grand jury was going to be the direct reflection of the presentation of the evidence by the prosecutor’s office,” said attorney Anthony Gray, who suggested McCulloch presented some testimony, including from witnesses who did not see the shooting, to discredit the process.

A notable observation, from the U.N. News Center:

UN rights chief concerned over ‘disproportionate’ killings of African-Americans by US police

The decision by a Grand Jury in Missouri to absolve a police officer for the fatal shooting of an African-American teenager has spotlighted broader concerns about institutionalized discrimination across the United States, the top United Nations human rights official said today.

“I am deeply concerned at the disproportionate number of young African Americans who die in encounters with police officers, as well as the disproportionate number of African Americans in US prisons and the disproportionate number of African Americans on Death Row,” said UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, in a statement issued by his office in Geneva this morning.

“It is clear that, at least among some sectors of the population, there is a deep and festering lack of confidence in the fairness of the justice and law enforcement systems,” Mr. Zeid continued. “I urge the US authorities to conduct in-depth examinations into how race-related issues are affecting law enforcement and the administration of justice, both at the federal and state levels.”

Another voice weighs in, via the Guardian:

French justice minister denounces US police killings after Ferguson decision

  • Christian Taubira tweets Bob Marley lyric ‘Kill them before they grow’ and references killings of Trayvon Martin and Tamir Rice

France’s black justice minister Christiane Taubira has waded into the conflict over racially charged killings in the US, quoting reggae legend Bob Marley on Twitter to express her anger.

“Kill them before they grow,” the minister tweeted, citing Marley who sang the phrase in his 1973 hit song I Shot the Sheriff.

Taubira’s tweet came as riots erupted in the suburb of Ferguson outside St Louis after a grand jury chose not to press charges against a white officer who shot dead black teen Michael Brown in what he said was self-defence.

From the Oakland Tribune, Monday night’s totals:

Ferguson protests: Oakland mops up after 47 arrests, several officers injured

The city was cleaning up Tuesday after hundreds of protesters took to the streets, vandalizing several stores, setting fires and attacking police following a grand jury decision not to indict a white officer in the fatal shooting of Michael Brown, a black teenager in Ferguson, Missouri.

Most of the damage took place in Old Oakland along Broadway and three police officers were injured, including one who was hit in the face with a brick, police spokeswoman Johnna Watson said.

At a Tuesday afternoon news conference, city officials said they were disappointed that protesters had not remained peaceful all night, but praised the conduct of police in the face of hostile crowds.

And they were back out again Tuesday night, blocking a freeway again.

Another demonstration, this one in Germany, via TheLocal.de:

Anti-refugee demo reveals xenophobia

German media were almost united this weekend in condemning demonstrations against refugee housing in the Berlin suburb of Marzahn-Hellersdorf – but can far-right sentiment ever really be overcome?

Left-wing newspaper taz noted the argument of conservative Berlin politicians that ordinary people’s concerns had been hijacked by extremists, but couldn’t agree that they were unknowingly instrumentalized.

“It’s questionable whether this, without the involvement of the organized far-right, would have led to the weekly aggressive marches,” the paper argued.

It also noted that the people at the heart of the demonstrations, from those running Facebook pages to speakers, all have close links to the far-right scene, including the National Democratic Party of Germany (NPD).

MintPress News covers a story to chill your spine:

How the Pentagon’s Skynet Would Automate War

Due to technological revolutions outside its control, the Department of Defense (DoD) anticipates the dawn of a bold new era of automated war within just 15 years. By then, they believe, wars could be fought entirely using intelligent robotic systems armed with advanced weapons.

Pentagon officials are worried that the US military is losing its edge compared to competitors like China, and are willing to explore almost anything to stay on top—including creating watered-down versions of the Terminator.

Due to technological revolutions outside its control, the Department of Defense (DoD) anticipates the dawn of a bold new era of automated war within just 15 years. By then, they believe, wars could be fought entirely using intelligent robotic systems armed with advanced weapons.

Last week, US defense secretary Chuck Hagel announced the ‘Defense Innovation Initiative’—a sweeping plan to identify and develop cutting edge technology breakthroughs “over the next three to five years and beyond” to maintain global US “military-technological superiority.” Areas to be covered by the DoD programme include robotics, autonomous systems, miniaturization, Big Data and advanced manufacturing, including 3D printing.

On to the military hot zone with the McClatchy Foreign Staff:

Key provincial capital in Iraq may be about to fall to Islamic State

Islamic State fighters on Tuesday penetrated to the core of Ramadi, the provincial capital of Iraq’s largest province, prompting local security officials to warn that the city was on the verge of falling to the extremists. Such a gain would be the Islamic State’s most significant victory in months.

Officials said that extremist fighters were only tens of yards away from entering the main government compound.

“The governorate building has been nearly cut off,” said a Baghdad security official in direct contact with the operations command for Anbar, the province where Ramadi lies. The official said that Islamic State forces had cut roads to the Iraqi Army’s 8th Division base to the west and the road to Habaniyya airbase to the east. The official spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to reporters.

And not so far away, via the New York Times:

As Bombing Toll Rises, Afghan Villagers Direct Anger at Government

Three years ago, villagers from the dusty Afghan district of Yahya Khel, near the Pakistani border, rose up against the Taliban, driving the insurgents away. They say they did it on their own, winning themselves a degree of security that felt tolerable.

Late Sunday afternoon, the insurgents exacted a horrific revenge. At a volleyball tournament here that drew teams and spectators from surrounding districts, a suicide bomber detonated his explosives just as fans were converging on the players to celebrate.

By Monday, the death toll had climbed to 61, according to the district governor, Musa Jan. Many were children. Some families were burying not just one member, but two.

Amid their grief, the men of Yahya Khel, a district in Paktika Province, were naturally angry at the insurgents who had sent the suicide bomber. But they were also critical of a national government they felt had offered them little over the past three years.

Getting censorious, via the London Telegraph:

Facebook ‘could have prevented Lee Rigby murder’

  • Facebook has been named as the internet company which failed to pass on crucial information that could have stopped the murder of Fusilier Lee Rigby

Facebook failed to pass on information that could have prevented the murder of Fusilier Lee Rigby and is a “safe haven for terrorists”, a report has concluded.

Michael Adebowale used the social networking site to express his “intent to murder a soldier in the most graphic and emotive manner” five months before the 2013 Woolwich attack.

The report found that Facebook had not been aware of that specific exchange.

However, Parliament’s intelligence and security committee discovered that Facebook had previously shut down Adebowale’s accounts on the site because he had discussed terrorism, but failed to relay concerns to the security services.

Rigby, 25, was run over and butchered by Adebowale and Michael Adebolajo outside Woolwich barracks in south-east London on May 22 last year.

War by other means, from TechWeek Europe:

Egyptian Cyber Group Attacks ISIS

  • The ‘Egyptian Cyber Army’ has joined those attacking the Islamic State’s online activities

A group of Egyptian nationalists has joined those attacking the online operations of the “Islamic State”, also known as ISIS, last week replacing a message from ISIS’ leader with a recording of a popular song.

The transcript of the message was replaced with an image recalling the Egyptian national flag, and a message in Arabic reading “Egyptian Cyber Army”.

ISIS has previously been attacked online by American and Iranian hackers, the Syrian Electronic Army and the hacktivist group Anonymous.

The New York Times covers a hack attack north of the border:

Hacker Disrupts Government Websites in Canada

Since Friday, people turning to the websites of Canada’s Parliament, its Supreme Court, the city of Ottawa and the Ottawa and Toronto police forces have been occasionally greeted by a gyrating, anthropomorphic banana or, more frequently, an error message.

The disruptions were prompted by a hacker or a small group of hackers supporting the cause of an Ottawa teenager who was charged last spring with making hoax telephone calls throughout North America. The calls led the police in a number of provinces and states to send out tactical squads in response to supposed emergencies, a practice known as swatting.

Using the name Aerith, with slight variations, the hacker claimed responsibility for the website disruptions in emails and a posting online. The sender claimed to be affiliated with the shadowy online collective Anonymous. When asked by email how many people were involved, Aerith, who said that he or she was in Brazil, replied, “We act as a group.”

Conceivably connected? Via CBC News:

Canada Revenue Agency privacy breach leaks prominent Canadians’ tax details

  • Business leaders, art collectors, authors and politicians among more than 200 on agency’s list of donors

Detailed tax information about the private lives of hundreds of Canadians — many of them rich and famous — was sent to CBC News by Canada’s tax agency in a major privacy breach.

The highly confidential details, including home addresses of taxpayers and the value of tax credits they were granted, are contained in a copy of a Canada Revenue Agency spreadsheet covering the years 2008 to 2013.

The 18 pages include information on donations made by such Canadian luminaries as author Margaret Atwood, former prime minister Jean Chrétien, grocery magnate Frank Sobey, cartoonist Lynn Johnston, pollster Allan Gregg, financier Stephen Bronfman, former CBC executive Richard Stursberg, Olympics chief Richard Pound and many others.

And video report on the leak from The National:

Revenue Canada privacy breach leaks prominent Canadians’ tax details

Program notes:

Detailed tax information about the private lives of hundreds of Canadians — many of them rich and famous — was sent to CBC News by Canada’s tax agency in a major privacy breach.

After the jump, major Hollywood hacks, perilous Flash-ing, the Chinese Google memory hole expands, France keeps Russian carriers in Ukrainian limbo, Colombian rebels release a pair but a general’s still Farced, the Brazilian cops’ growing civilian body count, on to Asia and allegations of torture in a Myanmar journalist’s death, a Korean naval drill provokes a Japanese rebuke, a Hong Kong Occupy crackdown — including a travel ban on its leaders, a censorious judgement from Beijing, followed by another round of arrests, China blows off criticism of its artificial island bases in contested waters, and Chinese ships cross the line. . . Continue reading

InSecurityWatch: Cops, rage, hacks, spies, zones


We begin with the obvious from United Press International:

No charges for Ferguson officer in death of Michael Brown

  • The officer could have faced one of five charges ranging from first-degree murder to involuntary manslaughter

A grand jury decided Monday not to indict Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of unarmed black teen Michael Brown in August.

St. Louis County, Mo., prosecutor Robert McCulloch announced the 12-member grand jury made its decision after two days of deliberation.

“They determined that no probable cause exists to file any charge against Officer Wilson,” McCulloch said.

The announcement was made at 9:25 p.m. as crowds gathered outside the Ferguson Police Department, at McCulloch’s offices in the county seat of Clayton and on West Flourisant Street, where Brown died.

The New York Times covers the inevitable:

From Plains to Both Coasts, Fury Boils Over

Months of anger and frustration, in the end, led only to more anger and frustration.

There were smoke bombs, tear gas and random gunshots. But in Ferguson, the aftermath of the shooting death of Michael Brown was almost as bitter and hollow as his killing itself.

Brien Redmon, 31, stood in the cold watching a burning police car and sporadic looting after the announcement that there would be no indictments for Mr. Brown’s death at 18.

“This is not about vandalizing,” he said. “This is about fighting a police organization that doesn’t care about the lives they serve.”

More from Al Jazeera America:

Gunfire and flames after officer cleared in Ferguson teen’s shooting death

Police, protesters clash in Ferguson after grand jury does not not indict white policeman who killed unarmed black teen

[W]ithin minutes of the announcement, crowds began pouring into Ferguson streets to protest the decision. Some taunted police, shattered windows and vandalized cars. As many as 15 gunshots were also heard, though it’s unclear whether they came from law enforcement authorities or protesters.  Officers released smoke and pepper spray to disperse the gatherings. The storefront glass of at least two businesses were also broken on South Florissant Road. Fires erupted.

Well before the grand jury decision was announced, hundreds of protesters were already massed near the Ferguson police department. Shortly after McCulloch said Wilson would not be indicted, police streamed out of the station wearing riot helmets, and carrying batons and shields. Some of the protesters began throwing plastic bottles at the officer. Police fired what differing reports have described as either smoke or tear gas.

Thousands of protesters also gathered in downtown Manhattan, where they marched from Union Square to Times Square.

Closer to home with the San Francisco Chronicle:

Ferguson ruling sparks Oakland protest that shuts down freeway

Sorrow and anger over the decision by a grand jury in Missouri not to indict a white police officer in the killing of an unarmed black man sent demonstrators into the streets in the Bay Area, with hundreds of people shutting down Interstate 580 in Oakland for hours.

From Oakland and Berkeley to San Francisco and San Jose, crowds massed to denounce the lack of criminal charges in the shooting in Ferguson, Mo., marching and chanting slogans against what they considered racial injustice. Civic leaders echoed President Obama’s call for peaceful demonstrations, but the mood of the crowds gave the gatherings the air of a tinderbox.

The most tense and disruptive action unfolded in Oakland, where hundreds of protesters marched downtown, blocking intersections before surging onto I-580 via the Lakeshore Avenue offramp around 8 p.m. There they played cat-and-mouse with police for hours, stopping traffic in both directions before being forced off the freeway by lines of officers in riot gear.

Another California story, via the Los Angeles Times:

Michael Brown protesters scatter as LAPD uses nonlethal

Demonstrators protesting the killing of Michael Brown were dispersed shortly near downtown Los Angeles after midnight Tuesday by Los Angeles police officers using non-lethal projectiles.

The demonstrators, who at one point numbered more than 300, marched across Los Angeles on Monday night, briefly closing the 110 Freeway as they protested a Missouri grand jury’s decision not to indict a police officer in the controversial shooting of the black teenager.

The main group marched to USC and then towards the Staples Center, where confrontations with police grew  tense. A group of protesters pushed at a fence that blocked off a hill that led to the 110 Freeway and knocked it over. People streamed over the fallen gate and climbed onto the freeway and sat down, shutting down traffic on the freeway. About 150 protesters gathered on the road and chanted “No justice, no peace. No racist police!”

And before the verdict, an abysmal quotation, from teleSUR:

St. Louis Cop Association: It’s Like ‘Night Before Christmas’

The head of the St. Louis County Police Officers’ Association has been criticized for comparing the situation to Christmas.

While many observers have warned the situation Monday is tense in St Louis County ahead of the widely anticipated grand jury decision on police officer Darren Wilson, one man thinks a little differently.

“It’s just like the night before Christmas,” said St. Louis County Police Officers’ Association president, Gabe Crocker.

“We all get a little excited, we all get a little impatient, and so on, and so forth,” Crocker told CNN.

On to another “police action” also generating outrage, via the Guardian:

41 men targeted but 1,147 people killed: US drone strikes – the facts on the ground

  • New analysis of data conducted by human rights group Reprieve shared with the Guardian, raises questions about accuracy of intelligence guiding ‘precise’ strikes

A new analysis of the data available to the public about drone strikes, conducted by the human-rights group Reprieve, indicates that even when operators target specific individuals – the most focused effort of what Barack Obama calls “targeted killing” – they kill vastly more people than their targets, often needing to strike multiple times. Attempts to kill 41 men resulted in the deaths of an estimated 1,147 people, as of 24 November.

Reprieve, sifting through reports compiled by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, examined cases in which specific people were targeted by drones multiple times. Their data, shared with the Guardian, raises questions about the accuracy of US intelligence guiding strikes that US officials describe using words like “clinical” and “precise.”

The analysis is a partial estimate of the damage wrought by Obama’s favored weapon of war, a tool he and his administration describe as far more precise than more familiar instruments of land or air power.

“Drone strikes have been sold to the American public on the claim that they’re ‘precise’. But they are only as precise as the intelligence that feeds them. There is nothing precise about intelligence that results in the deaths of 28 unknown people, including women and children, for every ‘bad guy’ the US goes after,” said Reprieve’s Jennifer Gibson, who spearheaded the group’s study.

From the Los Angeles Times, the deplorable:

Jordan sending refugees back into Syria, Human Rights Watch says

Jordan has sent Syrian refugees, including wounded civilians and unaccompanied minors, back across the border in violation of international responsibilities, Human Rights Watch said Monday.

The New York-based monitor issued a statement accusing Jordan of ignoring long-accepted principles forbidding governments from returning people back to areas where their lives may be in danger.

There was no immediate response from officials in Jordan, now home to more than 600,000 Syrian refugees.

And from South China Morning Post, we always like a pun in the headline:

It’s time to chuck Hagel: Obama pressures Pentagon chief into stepping down

  • Pentagon chief resigns under pressure, paving way for first female defence secretary

US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel is stepping down under pressure from President Barack Obama’s Cabinet, senior administration officials said, following a tenure in which he has struggled to break through the White House’s insular foreign policy team.

Hagel is the first senior Obama adviser to leave the administration following the sweeping losses for Obama’s party in the midterm elections. It comes as the president’s national security team has been battered by multiple foreign policy crises, include the rise of Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria.

At a White House ceremony Obama said Hagel had been an “exemplary” defence secretary, adding: “Last month, Chuck came to me to discuss the final quarter of my presidency and determined that, having guided the department through this transition, it was an appropriate time for him to complete his service.”

From New York Times, delayed again:

U.S. and Allies Extend Iran Nuclear Talks by 7 Months

A yearlong effort to reach an enduring accord with Iran to dismantle large parts of its nuclear infrastructure fell short on Monday, forcing the United States and its allies to declare a seven-month extension, but with no clear indication of how they plan to bridge fundamental differences.

In a news conference hours before a deadline on Monday night, Secretary of State John Kerry said a series of “new ideas surfaced” in the last several days of talks. He added that “we would be fools to walk away,” because a temporary agreement curbing Iran’s program would remain in place while negotiations continued. In return, Iran will receive another $5 billion in sanctions relief, enabling it to recover money frozen abroad — something that is likely to add to the threat of new sanctions from the newly-elected Republican Congress.

But the fundamental problem remained: Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has yet to signal that he is prepared to make the kind of far-reaching cuts in Iran’s enrichment capability that would be required to seal an accord. And it is unclear that his view will change before a March 1 deadline for reaching a political agreement, the first phase in the seven-month extension.

From the Guardian, Chuckie’s missives:

Prince Charles letters: minister’s veto of publication was lawful, court told

  • Supreme court hears QC James Eadie open the government’s latest effort in its nine-year campaign to keep the letters secret

The prince has gained a reputation for writing private letters to government ministers promoting his views. The letters have been called “black spider memos” because of his scrawled handwriting.?

At issue in the supreme court hearing are 27 letters exchanged between the heir to the throne and ministers in seven Whitehall departments between September 2004 and April 2005.?

Three judges in a freedom of information tribunal ruled in 2012 that the letters should be disclosed, on the basis that the public was entitled to know how and when the prince sought to influence government.?

Grieve, however, used his power of veto to overrule the tribunal, arguing that publication would seriously damage Charles’s future role as king. He said the letters had to be kept secret to preserve the prince’s political neutrality.?

From the Guardian again, the past returns to haunt:

Amnesty urges Ireland to reopen hooded men case against UK

  • European court of human rights cleared UK of torture in 1978 but recent film alleges some evidence was withheld

Amnesty International has challenged the Irish government to take the UK back to the European court of human rights (ECHR) over the British security forces’ alleged torture of suspects during the Troubles.

The court ruled in 1978 that five interrogation techniques used on 14 men who were detained without trial in the early 1970s constituted inhuman and degrading treatment but not torture.

The techniques included hooding suspects, putting them into stress positions, sleep deprivation, food and water deprivation and the use of white noise. The 14 became known as the hooded men.

In June this year an RTE documentary alleged that the UK withheld evidence from the court, which Amnesty argues may have affected the outcome of the case. It also called on the UK to launch an independent investigation.

While Network World looks an panopticon enhancements coming:

UK plans to introduce new Web snooping law

A U.K. counterterrorism bill would require ISPs to retain IP addresses in order to identify individual users of Internet services.

The proposed law is meant to bridge a “capabilities gap” that authorities face when trying to obtain communications data, said U.K. Home Secretary Theresa May, who introduced the bill, in a speech on Monday.

The measures will build on emergency legislation that the U.K. introduced during the summer, May said, who added that “it is not a knee-jerk response to a sudden perceived threat.”

From Network World, closer to home panopticon posturning closer to home:

NSA privacy director defends agency’s surveillance

The U.S. National Security Agency’s surveillance programs are legal and under close scrutiny by other parts of the government, the agency’s internal privacy watchdog said Monday in an online Q&A.

NSA surveillance and data collection programs conform to the U.S. Constitution, Rebecca Richards, the agency’s first civil liberties and privacy director, wrote during an hour-plus Q&A on Tumblr.

The NSA operates under rules that “ensure that its activities fall within the parameters of the Constitution,” Richards wrote when asked why she believes the surveillance programs are constitutional.

Techdirt captures contradiction:

NSA Chief Warns Of Pending Cyberattack… Which He Wants To Make Easier With Backdoors

  • from the ridiculous dept

NSA Director Admiral Mike Rogers has often seemed somewhat more reasonable than his predecessor, but he’s still not above spewing FUD. The latest is that, last week, he pulled out the favorite of surveillance state supporters everywhere: the pending cyberpocalypse, in which hackers take down the economy. Prepare for the “dramatic cyberattack” that is inevitably on the way:

The director of the National Security Agency issued a warning Thursday about cyberthreats emerging from other countries against networks running critical U.S. infrastructure systems.

Adm. Michael Rogers said he expects a major cyberattack against the U.S. in the next decade. “It’s only a matter of the ‘when,’ not the ‘if,’ that we are going to see something dramatic,” he said.

Of course, as venture capitalist/entrepreneur Marc Andreessen pointed out in response, the best way to stop that from happening would be to not require that software have backdoors that can easily be hacked.

After the jump, the Dutch get aggressive over privacy protection, Uncle Sam linked to the latest complex malware, malware in your E-cigs, more complications for the kidnapped Colombian general, incendiary institutionalized Israeli discrimination draws nigh, Pakistan’s nuclear program accelerates, Thai editor jailed for lèse majesté, cops prepare for Hong Kong Occupy eviction, Beijing ups the surveillance ante, Predictions of heightened tension in the insular Game fo Zones, hints of a Chinese supersonic drone, rising tensions over basing on a growing Chinese island with U.S. objections spurned, South Korea stages a challenge to a Japanese island claim, a clue as to some of what the island game is about, more criticism of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s militarization push, and a lawsuit over French nuclear tests in the Pacific. . . Continue reading

MexicoWatch: Enabling, outrage, action, images


We open with a graphic from Boligan.com, via Babybat, depicting the plight of justice in Mexico:

BLOG Ayotzinapa

Enabling, via Al Jazeera America:

US policies in Mexico have made bad situation worse

  • Missing Mexican students are collateral damage of drug-war capitalism

The whole episode is emblematic of Mexico’s corruption, impunity and weak democratic institutions, with elected officials and security forces colluding with the drug cartels. In this case, the students were apparently abducted by local police on direct order from Iguala’s mayor and handed over to the local Guerreros Unidos gang, which has close ties to the mayor’s wife, who claim to have killed them, burned the bodies and dumped the ashes in Cocula. And though nearby, the military evinced indifference to the students’ plight.

Despite these entanglements, however, the U.S. continues to engage in a bi-national strategy with Mexico to combat drug trafficking, entrusting the very politicians and security forces whose ties to criminal enterprises are readily apparent.

In the last six years alone, Washington spent $3 billion on the Mérida Initiative, a border security, counter-narcotics and counterterrorism program established by the George W. Bush administration in 2008. The U.S. also funnels millions of dollars through the Department of Defense to train state security forces. In 2006, Peña Nieto’s predecessor Felipe Calderón declared war on the cartels, and the human cost has been staggering. During his six-year tenure from 2006 to 2012, 83,000 people were killed and at least another 26,000 disappeared. The death toll has now reached 100,000.

Mexico’s U.S.-backed anti-drug policies are inherently counterproductive. The criminal networks associated with the illicit and unregulated drug trade are intrinsically violent, and dismantling one cartel does little to curb overall drug trafficking and violence. Instead, interdiction and drug-related arrests can escalate violence by creating power vacuums that spur fragmentation, decentralization and competition among cartels for the freed-up market share.

teleSUR English covers parental initiative:

Ayotzinapa students’ families plan take up arms and continue search

Program notes:

Nearly two months after the disappearance of 43 students from the Ayotzinapa, Mexico teachers college at the hands of local police and criminal gangs, some parents are fed up with government excuses and inaction, and plan to begin an armed search for their missing loved ones with the aid of new, community-led police forces. Many feel the time for peaceful protests is over over and plan to arm themselves and look for their children.

One result, via teleSUR English again:

Ayotzinapa students’ families find 6 new clandestine graves

Program notes:

In the absence of progress by the government in finding their loved ones nearly two months after the 43 students from Ayotzinapa disappeared while in custody of local police, families of the missing students decided to form independent search groups, some of them armed, to search for their missing loved ones with the aid of community-led police forces. The groups’ first discoveries were 6 more clandestine graves.

The Latin American Herald Tribune covers a demand:

Students Call for Mexican President to Step Down Within 6 Days

A group of students from a teachers’ training college from which 43 of their colleagues went missing and are presumed dead has called for the resignation of Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto within six days.

“President Peña Nieto has six days to resign because the Mexican people want him to, and if he doesn’t, then the protests against him will increase all over the country,” said one of the students in a broadcast from a radio station the protesters had taken over.

The students issued the demand on Sunday after around 100 seized control of two radio stations in Chilpancingo, the capital of Guerrero state, to air messages demanding that the 43 students who went missing after a night of violence on Sept. 26, be returned alive.

And from teleSUR, the self-evident:

Mexican Police Repression ‘Backfiring,’ ‘Not Stopping Protests’

  • Eleven protestors arrested during mass protests on November 20 are being charged with attempted murder, rioting and conspiracy

On the evening of November 20 in the historic Zocalo square, in Mexico City, police clashed with protestors, beating them with batons and riot shields. Videos and photos uploaded to social networking sites show protesters who were not involved in agressions towards the authorities, including the elderly and children, were targeted and arrested by the police.

“There are patterns of systematic repression, arbitrary detentions and one element that I think is important to express which is to send a message to the public that mobilizations and social protest are bad,” said human rights defender and analyst, Miguel Moguel, from the Mexican NGO, Fundar in a press conference on Sunday, Novemeber 23.

Moguel and other human rights experts and lawyers describe the police operation on November 20 as excessive, “without control or end point” and brutal.

Yet while some analyze the use of police force as a means to quiet social protest, some such as Isabel Sangines, professor and activist, believe that the measures provoke greater protest and dissatisfaction with the authorities.

Evidence thereof, again from teleSUR English:

Mexico: new wave of protests slam gov’t repression

Program notes:

A new wave of protests has erupted in Mexico over the police attack on and detention of demonstrators at the November 20 “mega-march” in solidarity with the 43 missing Ayotzinapa Teacher Training College students. Many feel the police operations are designed to limit and criminalize social protests. Clayton Conn reports from Mexico City.

On an ancillary note, this from Reuters:

Mexico to discuss canceled $3.75 billion train contract with China

Mexico’s transportation minister will meet with Chinese government officials on Monday to discuss the cancellation of a $3.75 billion high-speed rail contract that was awarded to a Chinese-led consortium, Mexico said on Sunday.

The deal for the project, which had earlier this month been granted to a group led by China Railway Construction (601186.SS), the sole bidder, was abruptly revoked after opposition lawmakers claimed it was fixed.

Local media later revealed that a Mexican group in the consortium owned a $7 million house that Pena Nieto’s wife was in the process of acquiring, raising questions about a possible conflict of interest in the bidding process.

The Monday meeting will take place in China, where Mexico’s communications and transportation minister Gerardo Ruiz Esparza will also discuss Mexican plans to build a $10 billion state-owned and privately operated mobile network, according to a statement from the ministry.

Finally, while we can’t definitively trace the original source of this photo-comparison posted on the Naila Twitter feed, showing very similar looking fellows to occupants of a police bus throwing flames during the outbreak of violence by a few in Mexico City during the 20 November mass protest over the 43 vanished students and ensuing government bungling and butt-covering, we pass it on as entirely too plausible though we can make no conclusive assessment on identity absent both attribution and a higher resolution image:

BLOG Provocateurs

How a British company enabled mass spying


When it comes to sheer quantities of information hoovered up from the global data stream, the U.S. National Security Agency is a piker compared to Britain’s Government Communications Headquarters [GCHQ], as Edward Snowden’s leaks conclusively demonstrate.

In these videos from Britain’s Channel 4 News, the extent and scope of Britain’s monitoring is revealed, focusing on the island nation’s role as the central hub for the world’s network of data cables [a fact that is leading the BRICs nations to announce plans to develop their own cable system independent of the GCHQ-monitored cables].

As noted in a text story Channel 4 News posted online:

One of the UK’s largest communications firms had a leading role in creating the surveillance system exposed by Edward Snowden, it can be revealed.

Cable and Wireless even went as far as providing traffic from a rival foreign communications company, handing information sent by millions of internet users worldwide over to spies.

The firm, which was bought by Vodafone in July 2012, was part of a programme called Mastering the Internet, under which British spies used private companies to help them gather and store swathes of internet traffic; a quarter of which passes through the UK. Top secret documents leaked by the whistleblower Edward Snowden and seen by Channel 4 News show that GCHQ developed what it called “partnerships” with private companies under codenames. Cable and Wireless was called Gerontic.

Under the moniker, the company carried out tests on equipment used to carry out the surveillance, it came up with suggestions on how the spies could go about tapping its network, and even had a GCHQ employee working full-time within the company.

And a 2011 document reveals that Cable and Wireless went further. The company rented space on a cable owned by Indian telecoms company Reliance Communications that stretched from Asia across the Middle East and landed in Porthcurno in Cornwall. Reliance’s transatlantic cable lands in Sennen Cove six miles to the north. And the two cables come together at nearby Skewjack Farm. Documents show that in 2011, this allowed Britain’s spies to access all traffic from Reliance’s main cable and send it to the GCHQ base up the coast in Bude.

Top secret documents from GCHQ show it was this access point, codenamed Nigella and run by Cable and Wireless, that allowed Britain’s spies to gather the private communications of millions of internet users worldwide.

The first video examines the program itself and how it works.

From Channel 4 News:

Spy cable revealed: How telecoms firm worked with GCHQ

Program notes:

An unprecedented grab of personal data: this programme reveals that a communications firm not only handed over its own information to GCHQ, but also allowed access to the internet traffic of another telecoms company.

The second video features an aborted debate between a German member of parliament — Green Party legislator Konstanin von Notz — and former GCHQ Director Sir David Omand, a debate that ends abruptly when Omand storms out during questions over the controversy that erupted after it was revealed that the German provider serving the German government — including Chancellor Angela Merkel — was providing GCHQ access to its cables:

Sir David Omand walks out of live interview

Program notes:

Sir David Omand was debating German Green MP Konstantin von Notz, who is part of an inquiry into allegations that Angela Merkel’s conversations were intercepted by the NSA, on Channel 4 News’ main story.

Googleplexed: Is it more evil than the NSA?


A fascinating segment from Abby Martin’s Breaking the Set poses the question, Is thew private panopticon as embodied in the omnipresence of Google really any less potentially malevolent than the panopticon embodied by the National Security Agency, which, after all, is at least theoretically answerable to democratically elected [snicker] representatives:

Why Google May Be More ‘Evil’ than the NSA | Think Tank

Program notes:

Abby Martin speaks with Taylor Lincoln, Director of Research at Public Citizen’s Congressional Watch Division about a new report detailing how Google is invading users privacies and becoming the most powerful and influential political force in Washington.