The first of today’s headlines from the realms of state and personal security, militarism, spies, and all the rest begins with an internal security problem in the U.S., the right of citizens of color to treated with dignity by the armed representatives of the state.
U.N. urges U.S. to stop police brutality after Missouri shooting
The U.N. racism watchdog urged the United States on Friday to halt the excessive use of force by police after the fatal shooting of an unarmed black teenager by a white policeman touched off riots in Ferguson, Missouri.
Minorities, particularly African Americans, are victims of disparities, the U.N. Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) said after examining the U.S. record.
“Racial and ethnic discrimination remains a serious and persistent problem in all areas of life from de facto school segregation, access to health care and housing,” Noureddine Amir, CERD committee vice chairman, told a news briefing.
Oddly, a Google search turned up only one video on the story, and that from Iran’s PressTV News:
UN watchdog calls on US police to end racism, brutal tactics
A United Nations watchdog is calling on the US police to put an end to racism and brutal tactics in the force.
From the American Civil Liberties Union, one step in the right direction, with a caution:
Body-Worn Cameras Should Not Expand Beyond Law Enforcement
The Guardian reported last week that Miami Beach is planning on expanding the use of body cameras beyond the police to include “meter maids,” code enforcement officers, and building and fire inspectors. This use of the technology does not make sense.
We’ve always been concerned about the privacy-invading potential of body cameras. As we wrote in our white paper on the technology,
Body cameras have more of a potential to invade privacy than [other] deployments. Police officers enter people’s homes and encounter bystanders, suspects, and victims in a wide variety of sometimes stressful and extreme situations. . . . Perhaps most troubling is that some recordings will be made inside people’s homes, whenever police enter—including in instances of consensual entry… and such things as domestic violence calls.
Balanced against these privacy dangers, however, is the significant need to increase oversight in light of the long record of abusive and illegal behavior by police officers (and other law enforcement agents like Border Patrol officers). Police in specific circumstances are given the authority to shoot to kill, to use brutal force, and to arrest citizens—and all too often, officers abuse those powers.
Across the Atlantic with an alarm from the Los Angeles Times:
Britain raises security threat from ‘substantial’ to ‘severe’
Responding to recent events in Syria in Iraq, Britain has upgraded its security threat level to “severe,” the government announced Friday, meaning a terrorist attack there is “highly likely.”
The nation’s Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre, an independent body, made the determination based on its latest intelligence, officials said.
This is the first time in three years that the U.K. has been at such a heightened security threat level.
From CBC News, enshrining the national security state:
David Cameron, British PM, plans new laws to tackle terrorism threat
- U.K. raises terror threat level to severe over Syria, Iraq concerns
British Prime Minister David Cameron says he’ll introduce new laws to combat terror suspects, pledging to seize passports to fight what he described as an extremist threat more dangerous than any previously seen.
Cameron told reporters that while the Taliban facilitated al-Qaeda terrorism, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria group is “effectively a state run by terrorists.”
“We could be facing a terrorist state on the shores of the Mediterranean and bordering a NATO member,” he said.
From TechWeekEurope, protest:
Surveillance Protesters Picket GCHQ
- Britain’s top secret eavesdropping agency, GCHQ, faces a weekend of protests by privacy campaigners
The security cameras surrounding the Government Communications Headquarters, more commonly known as GCHQ, had a busy Friday with a small group of online activists staging a low-key protest outside.
The small number of protesters on Friday were reportedly outnumbered by the police and members of the media, according to the BBC. There was minor disruption at the Cheltenham site on Friday morning, as GCHQ staff were driven by bus into the site itself, instead of the usual practice of being dropped off outside.
GCHQ at Cheltenham, GloucestershireA much larger protest by the ‘We Are Anonymous’ group at the Cheltenham site is expected to take place over the weekend.
The protest is in support of a legal challenge by civil liberty groups, including Privacy International, Liberty, Amnesty International, the American Civil Liberties Union, and others. The groups are mounting a legal challenge against the alleged use of mass surveillance by intelligence services.
The New York Times covers blowback from the Bush era:
As Blackwater Trial Closes, Focus Turns to Moments Before Chaos
When jurors begin deliberating next week in the murder and manslaughter trial of four former Blackwater Worldwide contractors, so much will depend not on the frenzied minutes of heavy gunfire in the busy Nisour Square in Baghdad, but on the moments of relative calm just before the chaos.
Traffic had come to a halt on Sept. 16, 2007, as four American armored trucks blocked the entrance to the square. Traffic police waved their arms, and the cars piled up. Then, two vehicles back, on the main artery running north into the traffic circle, a white Kia abruptly lurched forward.
The machine-gun fire was about to begin. Seventeen Iraqis would soon be dead.
Twelve American jurors will have to decide whether it was a massacre, a firefight or a horrible accident of war. The verdict will close seven years of investigation into a shooting that inflamed anti-American sentiment and was a nadir in the Iraq war. Blackwater, once a major security contractor, came to symbolize American power run amok. The fallout from the shooting unraveled the company, which was sold and renamed Academi.
From TechWeekEurope, cyberwar:
Syrian Malware Team Thought To Be Behind BlackWorm RAT
- A lesser-known group of pro-government hackers is pushing sophisticated malware
A group calling itself the Syrian Malware Team (SMT) has been spotted carrying out attacks using the sophisticated BlackWorm Remote Access Tool (RAT), with one of the members thought to be responsible for its creation.
According to security vendor FireEye, which identified 11 members of the group, SMT supports the government of Bashir Al-Assad, and even puts the president’s face on its banners.
The group is suspected to have links to the Syrian Electronic Army (SEA), which has been making headlines following a string of successful attacks against e-commerce sites, social networks and media organisations.
And from Bloomberg News, cyberextortion:
‘Your Money or Your Files’ as Threat of Online Stickups Grows
You’re an entrepreneur, managing the business from your PC. You’re a doting mother, with hundreds of photos of your children on your laptop. Now, if someone seized all those files, how much would you pay to get them back?
There’s nothing theoretical about the scenario. Hundreds of thousands of people have had to wrestle with that question as so-called ransomware infections have surged, encrypting billions of documents. Hackers demand hundreds or thousands of dollars to provide the key that unscrambles files so you can view and use them again. One particularly virulent strain, called CryptoWall, has infected about 625,000 systems and encrypted more than 5.25 billion files since mid-March, according to new research from Dell SecureWorks. One desperate U.S. victim paid the hackers $10,000.
Most malware is like a pickpocket, taking your valuables before you’re aware of it. CryptoWall and other ransomware is like a mugger: your money or your files. It’s smart, really, because in most cases, your files are most valuable to you. It’s also easy money for hackers, a lot less work than trying to sell 40 million purloined card numbers on the black market, a la the Target breach. Keith Jarvis, a SecureWorks researcher in Atlanta, found that 1,683 CryptoWall victims forked over a total of $1.1 million to the hackers.
Bloomberg again, this time toting up a tab:
The Cyber-Terror Bailout: They’re Already Talking About It, and You May Be on the Hook
Bankers and U.S. officials have warned that cyber-terrorists will try to wreck the financial system’s computer networks. What they aren’t saying publicly is that taxpayers will probably have to cover much of the damage.
Even if customers don’t lose money from a hacking assault on JPMorgan Chase & Co., the episode is a reminder that banks with the most sophisticated defenses are vulnerable. Treasury Department officials have quietly told bank insurers that in the event of a cataclysmic attack, they would activate a government backstop that doesn’t explicitly cover electronic intrusions, two people briefed on the talks said.
“I can’t foresee a situation where the president wouldn’t do something via executive order,” said Edward DeMarco, general counsel of the Risk Management Association, a professional group of the banking industry. “All we’re talking about is the difference between the destruction of tangible property and intangible property.”
The Register covers a chilling hack:
Ice cream headache as black hat hacks sack Dairy Queen
- I scream, you scream, we all scream ‘DATA BREACH’!
Ice cream mogul Dairy Queen appears to have been breached with hackers likely stealing credit cards from some of its many US stores.
The chilling news comes from sources within the US banking sector who separately told cyber-crime prober Brian Krebs that fraudulent transactions on credit cards appeared to have stemmed from a breach at the company.
Dairy Queen admitted the US Secret Service had been in touch after initial waffle claiming it had no evidence of a breach.
From the Guardian, the corporation strikes again:
US cable giants call on FCC to block cities’ expansion of high-speed internet
- USTelecom wants to block expansion of popular networks in Chattanooga, Tennessee and Wilson, North Carolina
The US cable industry called on the Federal Communications Commission on Friday to block two cities’ plans to expand high-speed internet services to their residents.
USTelecom, which represents cable giants Comcast, Time Warner and others, wants the FCC to block expansion of two popular municipally owned high speed internet networks, one in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and the other in Wilson, North Carolina.
“The success of public broadband is a mixed record, with numerous examples of failures,” USTelecom said in a blog post. “With state taxpayers on the financial hook when a municipal broadband network goes under, it is entirely reasonable for state legislatures to be cautious in limiting or even prohibiting that activity.”
On to drones, starting with this from the Guardian:
California to introduce tough new measures to limit police drone use
- Bill would require state’s police to seek a warrant for unmanned drone use in virtually all situations other than emergencies
California is poised to introduce tough new controls on police deployment of drones for surveillance, as the debate around the acceptable uses of unmanned aerial systems (UAS) gathers pace.
Bill AB1327 has passed all stages in the California legislature and now awaits the signature of governor Jerry Brown. Should Brown give it the green light, as expected, it would send a powerful message across America about the limits of drone surveillance from the technology capital of the country.
Under the bill, police departments throughout the state would be required to seek a warrant from a judge in virtually all situations other than in emergencies, such as an oil spillage, fire or hostage-taking. Where surveillance images have been recorded, they would have to be destroyed within one year.
And from United Press International, calling Ranger Rick!:
Yellowstone endures third drone violation in less than two months
“Even if we can locate it, is it feasible to remove it?” Yellowstone officials ponder of the second of three recently crashed drones.
Park and wildlife officials in Wyoming are experiencing déjà vu after a third individual was cited for flying an unmanned areal surveillance device in less than two months.
The latest offender was cited Aug. 19 for flying his personal drone in the area around the Midway Geyser Basin according to Yellowstone spokesman Al Nash. Unlike past offenders, the latest drone operator managed to avoid harming the national park.
Since National Park Service Director Jon Jarvis banned the use of unmanned areal devices across the park system’s 84 million protected acres in June, three individuals have been cited for flying drones in Yellowstone alone, with a fourth citation in Grand Teton National Park.
From Reuters, summing up:
Ukraine seeks to join NATO; defiant Putin compares Kiev to Nazis
Ukraine called on Friday for full membership in NATO, its strongest plea yet for Western military help, after accusing Russia of sending in armored columns that have driven back its forces on behalf of pro-Moscow rebels.
Russian President Vladimir Putin, defiant as ever, compared Kiev’s drive to regain control of its rebellious eastern cities to the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union in World War Two. He announced that rebels had succeeded in halting it, and proposed that they now permit surrounded Ukrainian troops to retreat.
Speaking to young people at a summer camp, Putin told his countrymen they must be “ready to repel any aggression towards Russia.” He described Ukrainians and Russians as “practically one people,” language that Ukrainians say dismisses the very existence of their thousand-year-old nation.
From the Independent, a curious tale:
Oil tanker with $100 million cargo goes missing off Texas coast
An oil tanker loaded with $100 million of disputed Iraqi Kurdish crude has disappeared of the coast of Texas in the latest development in a high stakes game of cat-and-mouse between Baghdad and the Kurds.
The AIS ship tracking system used by the U.S. Coast Guard and Reuters on Thursday showed no known position for the United Kalavrvta, which was carrying 1 million barrels of crude and 95 percent full when it went dark.
Several other tankers carrying disputed crude from Iran or Iraqi Kurdistan have unloaded cargoes after switching off their transponders, which makes their movements hard to track.
After the jump, the latest from the Asian Game of Zones, including ongoing tensions in Pakistan, Abe’s Indian Modhi-vation, Sino-Russian military ties, more Chinese plane posturing and reasons therefor, Chinese courts open, Japan yens for a beefier military, and a curious North Korean defection. . . Continue reading