Category Archives: Race

American perception: Another blast from long ago


The attitudes of white haves toward African American have-nots. embodied in this devastating panel created by R. Cobb, esnl‘s other favorite cartoonist, remains as true today as in 1968 when in first appeared in the late underground paper, the Los Angeles Free Press.

If you doubt, it, just turn on the tube and listen to subtext of all the talking heads analyzing the violence in Ferguson in the wake of the Michael Brown shooting death grand jury decision:

BLOG Fish 3

The tragedy of Ferguson and a failure of history


It was fifty years ago this month on 9 November 1964 that we had out first front page newspaper byline, and less than two years later we landed our first job in a metro daily, the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

We were 19 when we started in Vegas, and we created the first civil rights beat in Nevada’s history, covering the 25 percent of Las Vegas residents who were never seen dealing blackjack or operating the craps tables on the Strip or in downtown’s Glitter Gulch.

There were no black waiters or cocktail servers, and the only people of color you saw were mopping floors, changing sheets, and washing dishes. Such was the “natural order” pleasing to the Texas and Louisiana oil men who were the high rollers of the day.

Yet before we started our reporting, that glaring omission was never covered by either the Review-Journal or the Las Vegas Sun [whose publisher, Hank Greenspun, had started out as Bugsy Siegel’s PR man and went on to become a billionaire through dubious real estate deals bankrolled by Howard Hughes and an equally dubious cable television monopoly].

Within six months of our first stories, the first black dealer was hired by a downtown casino. More would quickly follow. For our coverage of civil rights and Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty, the Review-Journal would win the state’s top journalism award, a recognition by our peers that something had changed in the Silver State.

Yet in the half century since we won that prize, America’s race problem remains just as deeply embedded and poverty in the black community remains at abysmal level, while the quality of schools is plunging as whites enrol their children in private schools and refuse to fund aging schools, inadequate athletic facilities, and other critical infrastructure.

While the overt expression of racist had dwindled prior to the onset of anonymous Internet comments, the latest racism remains deeply embedded in a culture increasingly anxious because of the rise of non-white Asian economic power and an influx of immigrants from south of the border.

Yet the Republicans maintain that racism is dead, and that only lack of motivation [wink wink] holds African Americans from rising up the Jacob’s Ladder of the American Dream.

In other words, while they’ve learned new word games, they’re just as racist as ever. . .and they’re ruthlessly dedicated to destroying the last vestiges of those social programs we were covering way back in 1966.

Granted, some of them may not be deeply racist; rather, they’re simply following the dictates of plutocratic donors zealously pursing the elimination of any remaining hindrances to their gathering up what little remains of the wealth that was once part of the commons.

But the inflammation of prejudice is useful to folks like the Kochs and the Waltons, because it diverts attention to the Grand Theft Country they’re been conducting with a ruthless single-pointedness.

Waves of riots have swept the country in that half century, yet no real progress is made in addressing the deep structural problems that had driven angry people into the streets, rather to smash and burn.

And so it will continue until either those at the pinnacle sweep up all remaining wealth and restore the hereditary aristocracy of yore or until the rest of us wake up and realize that we have a lot more in common with people who don’t look like us than with the very few who resemble us only in the color of our skins.

We look at Ferguson and weep.

InSecurityWatch: War, spooks, cops, hacks, more


A lot more.

First, from Al Jazeera English:

UN: ISIL committing war crimes in Syria

Massacres, beheadings, torture, sexual enslavement and forced pregnancy being carried out by group, investigators say.

Fighters from the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) are committing war crimes and crimes against humanity on a large scale in areas under the group’s control in Syria, UN investigators say.

In its first report focused squarely on acts by ISIL, the UN Commission of Inquiry on Syria presented on Friday a horrifying picture of what life is like in areas controlled by the group, including massacres, beheadings, torture, sexual enslavement and forced pregnancy.

“The commanders of ISIS have acted wilfully, perpetrating these war crimes and crimes against humanity with clear intent of attacking persons with awareness of their civilian or ‘hors de combat’ (non-combat) status,” the report said, using an alternate acronym for ISIL.

“They are individually criminally responsible for these crimes.”

The view from Canada, via CBC News:

Inside ISIS: Calgary man’s picture found in documents revealing underbelly of extremist group

  • CBC is first North American broadcaster to view secret files obtained by German TV from Iraqi forces

The face of a Calgary man who drove a bomb-laden car into an Iraqi military base outside Baghdad last November, killing 46 people, appears amid a treasure trove of documents and videos that lay bare the bureaucratic underbelly of ISIS.

The documents and videos provide a new weapon for coalition forces fighting the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

Coalition forces obtained the documents, videos and 160 USB keys after Iraqi special forces hunted and killed the group’s top commander, Abu Abdul-Rahman al-Bilawi, in early June.

Collateral damage from the New York Times:

Strikes by U.S. Blunt ISIS but Anger Civilians

American airstrikes on the Syrian city of Raqqa, the vaunted capital of the Islamic State’s self-proclaimed caliphate, have scattered its fighters and disrupted the harsh system they had imposed, residents and visitors there say. But they see no gratitude toward the United States.

Rather, they suggested in interviews, many people are angry at the Americans. Food and fuel prices in Raqqa have soared, power blackouts have prevailed, and order is now threatened by a vacuum of any authority.

For all their violence and intolerance toward disbelievers, the fighters of the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, at least functioned as a government, providing basic services and some semblance of stability.

And about that ISIS social infrastructure. . .from Deutsche Welle:

Documents reveal extensive bureaucratic structures in Islamic State

IS has set up a complex bureaucratic infrastructure that includes health care and social benefits in territories it has seized. Secret documents obtained by German media outlets shed light on the group’s inner workings.

Documents obtained by German public radio and television broadcasters NDR and WDR along with German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung detail the complex bureaucratic system set up by the self-proclaimed Islamic State (IS) terrorist group.

The documents, which the reporters were allowed to peruse and copy in some cases, give extensive insight into the bureaucratic infrastructure IS has implemented in areas captured in Iraq and Syria. Among other things, they detail a complex health care and pension system, marriage benefits along with financial benefits to widows or wives of IS fighters captured in combat.

The report released on Friday points to IS’ seeing itself as more than just a militia: the jihad group fighting to install a caliphate in much of the Middle East sees itself as an actual state. Not only does the group have enough income – believed to be mostly from oil sales and ransom money – but it also has the bureaucratic infrastructure needed to run a caliphate.

More from Süddeutsche Zeitung itself:

‘Islamic State’: A Bureaucracy of Terror

  • Süddeutsche Zeitung, NDR and WDR examine confidential documents of the ‘Islamic State’

The terrorist organization ‘Islamic State’ (IS) has already begun building an extensive government structure. Internal IS documents examined by German public radio and television broadcasters NDR and WDR, and Germany’s leading broadsheet newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung detail IS’s extensive bureaucratic system. The documents (which the reporters were shown and in some cases able to copy) shed light on IS’s framework for health insurance, marriage benefits and support for the families of IS fighters who are killed or taken as prisoners.

The documents also contain extensive lists of names of fighters, detailed weapons purchases and the personnel records of suicide bombers. In a sort of index, IS leaders list “martyrs” who have been reassigned to suicide bomb missions. Most names on the list are accompanied by a phone number of a family member or friend who can be notified later. The documents show that many IS volunteers were assigned to suicide missions within just a week of their arrival in Iraq.

The documents provide an unprecedented insight into the radical Islamist organization that has seized territory in Syria and Iraq. The material analyzed dates from 2013 through early 2014 and relates almost exclusively to IS activity in Iraq. According to the Iraqi government, the documents were saved to memory sticks and hard drives which were obtained in a raid at high-ranking IS leader Abdul Rahman al-Bilawi’s hideout on June 5, 2014. At the time, al-Bilawi was second in command within IS and operated as ‘minister of war’, according to Iraqi sources. The UK’s Guardian newspaper reported on the documents in June. Since then the Iraqi government has made some of the documents available to NDR, WDR and Süddeutsche Zeitung.

Still more from the Guardian:

Isis to mint own Islamic dinar coins in gold, silver and copper

  • Islamic State to produce own currency for use in self-declared caliphate – as soon as it can locate a mint and enough metal

It has gathered its fortune through the tools of modern finance, but now Islamic State (Isis) aims to mint its own coins.

The move is reportedly the brain child of the Isis leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who has personally overseen the design of gold, silver and copper coins of the Islamic dinar to be used in his self-declared caliphate – as soon as the terror group can locate a mint and enough precious metals.

Isis has released designs of the coins and a breakdown of denominations. It claims the currency will free Muslims from a financial order that has “enslaved and impoverished” them. But it isn’t totally eschewing the mainstream economy, acknowledging that each coin’s worth will reflect the metal’s value on commodities markets.

Seeking a disconnect with the McClatchy Washington Bureau:

In Australia, Obama looks for help cutting cash flow to Islamic State

President Barack Obama arrived in Australia on Saturday looking for help on one of the most difficult tasks in the fight against the Islamic State: cutting off the millions of dollars flowing to one of the world’s best-funded terrorist organizations.

Obama made some progress in previous stops this week in China and Myanmar (formerly Burma).

In China, Obama and his counterpart, President Xi Jinping, agreed to work together on “cracking down on terrorist funding networks.” In Myanmar, the 18 leaders of the East Asia Summit reaffirmed in a statement their support to help combat the Islamic State, including its financing.

From the Associated Press, troubles:

West-backed Syria rebels shaken on multiple fronts

During a key battle in the rugged mountains of a northern province earlier this month, U.S.-backed Syrian rebels collapsed before an assault by al-Qaida fighters. Some surrendered their weapons. Others outright defected to the militants.

A detailed account of the battle in Idlib, from a series of interviews with opposition activists by The Associated Press, underscores how the moderate rebels that Washington is trying to boost to fight the Islamic State group are instead hemorrhaging on multiple fronts.

They face an escalated assault by Islamic extremists, which activists say are increasingly working together to eliminate them. At the same time, a string of assassinations has targeted some of their most powerful commanders.

“This is the end of the Free Syrian Army,” said Alaa al-Deen, an opposition activist in Idlib, referring to Western-backed rebel groups. “It’s the beginning of an Islamic emirate.”

From Reuters, cockeyed optimist?:

U.S. military chief says battle with IS starting to turn

The United States’ top military officer told American troops on a surprise visit to Baghdad on Saturday that the momentum in the battle with Islamic State was “starting to turn”, but predicted a drawn-out campaign lasting several years.

General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was visiting Iraq for the first time since President Barack Obama responded to Islamic State advances this summer by ordering troops back into a country they left in 2011.

Hours earlier, an Iraqi army colonel said security forces appeared close to retaking the country’s biggest refinery at Baiji, which has been under siege for months by Islamic State militants.

From the Washington Post, well, gollleeee:

U.S. weighs expanded CIA training, arming of Syrian allies struggling against Assad

The Obama administration has been weighing plans to escalate the CIA’s role in arming and training fighters in Syria, a move aimed at accelerating covert U.S. support to moderate rebel factions while the Pentagon is preparing to establish its own training bases, U.S. officials said.

The proposed CIA buildup would expand a clandestine mission that has grown substantially over the past year, U.S. officials said. The agency now vets and trains about 400 fighters each month — as many as are expected to be trained by the Pentagon when its program reaches full strength late next year.

The prospect of expanding the CIA program was on the agenda of a meeting of senior national security officials at the White House last week. A White House spokesman declined to comment on the meeting or to address whether officials had reached a decision on the matter.

Meanwhile. . .from Xinhua, the Spring has sprung:

Death toll in Libya’s Benghazi clashes rises to 356

Another 16 people were killed in violent clashes between Libyan army and Islamic militants in the eastern city of Benghazi on Sunday, adding the total death toll to 356, sources said.

“The center has received 16 dead bodies killed in clashes and random shooting on Sunday,” a medical source in Benghazi medical center said.

The Libyan army, reinforced by gunmen loyal to retired Major- General Khalifa Haftar, has been waging a street war against Islamic militants in Libya’s second city Benghazi since mid- October, in an attempt to regain control of the city, which fell into the hands of Islamists last July.

Rebooting the big bang, from the Los Angeles Times:

Major overhaul of nuclear force planned to improve security and morale

Stung by a series of scandals in the nation’s nuclear force, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced plans Friday to overhaul its management, calling for billions of dollars to upgrade equipment, improve training, increase oversight and address security lapses and poor morale.

Speaking at the Pentagon and later in this snow-dusted base that is home to a fleet of B-52 bombers and missiles with nuclear warheads, Hagel said that sweeping changes were needed to address problems that could undermine the safety, security and effectiveness of the nation’s nuclear arsenal.

Disclosures of cheating on tests, drug use, violations of security rules and lax supervision have rocked the Pentagon’s nuclear force over the last two years. The Air Force has fired at least two nuclear commanders and disciplined others.

More from the Guardian:

US nuclear force reviews find security flaws and poor leadership

  • Defence secretary, Chuck Hagel, to order major changes and billions in extra funding to improve management of arsenal

The reviews – one by Pentagon officials and the other by outside experts – concluded that the structure of US nuclear forces was so incoherent that it could not be properly managed in its current form, and that this explained why top-level officials were often unaware of problems below them.

The officials said the reviews found a “disconnect” between what nuclear force leaders said and what they delivered to lower-level troops who executed the missions in the field.

To illustrate the extent of decay in the intercontinental ballistic missile force, the reviews found that maintenance crews used to have access to only one set of tools required to tighten bolts on the warhead end of the Minuteman III missile, and that this toolset was being used by crews at all three ICBM bases, in North Dakota, Wyoming and Montana. They had to share it via Federal Express delivery, the officials said. The crews now had one tool set at each base.

The reviews also found that a combination of problems amounted to fundamental flaws rather than random or periodic slip-ups, the officials said. The nuclear forces were currently meeting the demands of the mission but were finding it increasingly difficult to cope.

From the New York Times shrinks, self-shrinking:

Psychologists to Review Role in Detainee Interrogations

The nation’s largest organization of psychologists will conduct an independent review into whether it colluded with or supported the government’s use of torture in the interrogation of prisoners during the Bush administration.

The American Psychological Association said in a statement released late Wednesday that its board had named David H. Hoffman, a Chicago lawyer, to conduct the review.

For years, questions about the role of American psychologists and behavioral scientists in the development and implementation of the Bush-era interrogation program have been raised by human rights advocates as well as by critics within the psychological profession itself. Psychologists were involved in developing the enhanced interrogation techniques used on terrorism suspects by the Central Intelligence Agency. Later, a number of psychologists, in the military and in the intelligence community, were involved in carrying out and monitoring interrogations.

Intrusive neighbors, from VICE News:

More Drones on US Borders Create Privacy Concerns for Its Neighbors

The US will soon launch widespread drone surveillance on its border with Canada, after blanketing half its border with Mexico with the unmanned aerial vehicles in place of border patrol agents.

But the drones — which officials told VICE News cost $10 million each and take high-resolution videos while soaring over remote areas — violate people’s right to privacy and will further “militarize” the line between the US and Canada, analysts told VICE News.

“This creates a virtual wall between the countries,” Don Alper, the director of Western Washington University’s Center for Canadian-American Relations and Border Policy Research Institute, told VICE News. “It doesn’t make sense to me. There are other ways of security, like close cooperation between Canadian and American enforcement — and they already do cooperate really well.”

Ditto, via Reuters:

Sweden says has proof of foreign submarine intrusion in October

Sweden has proof that a small foreign submarine was operating illegally in its waters last month, its top military officer said on Friday after a mysterious episode that triggered the country’s biggest military mobilization since the Cold War.

More than 200 troops, stealth ships and helicopters scoured Baltic waters off the capital Stockholm in October after reports of foreign “underwater activity”, but without finding or bringing to the surface any submarine.

“The military can confirm that a small U-boat breached Sweden’s territorial waters. We can exclude all alternative explanations,” the head of Sweden’s armed forces, General Sverker Goransson, told a news conference.

After the jump, Washington deploys its naval ray guns, Germany’s costly deployment, a post-Snowden Humint preference, spy versus spy in Israel, apprehension in Ferguson, a Border Patrol backshooter named, a polygraphic cheating teacher busted, Marvel’s warriors recruited by Spanish cops, British cyberbullying soars, malware targets Europe’s governments, China busts malware makers, Spain moving on Palestinian recognition, Israeli issues lifetime ban on humanitarian surgeon, cultural hubris from the Turkish president, a Pakistani denial of a Washington allegation, kiss-ins challenge Indian moral police, the unspeakable spoken in Myanmar, on to Hong Kong and Occupy leaders rebuffed, Obama voices a challenge to China, China complains of U.S. spy flights, China announces streaming media bans, China shows off drones and rockets, Xi wants tighter Aussie ties and a maritime code of conduct, Japan sides with Washington as it continues retooling remilitarization, adopting a new anti-terror law, Okinawa’s likely next governor opposes U.S. base relocation, plus enhancing enhancement for enhancements. . . Continue reading

InSecurityWatch: Class, war, hacks, & zones


Onward, first with the single greatest global security threat from Al Jazeera America:

Global inequality is a rising concern for elites

  • The worldwide wealth gap is the World Economic Forum’s trend to watch for 2015

Income inequality is now the number one global concern, according to the World Economic Forum (WEF) — an assessment supported by research suggesting even economic elites now fret over the impact on society of the growing wealth divide.

In an annual WEF report released last week, United Nations adviser Amina Mohamed warns that income inequality can have pervasive social and political consequences. The deepening gap between rich and poor, she writes, “reduces the sustainability of economic growth [and] weakens social cohesion and security.”

That perceived threat to social stability may be why income inequality has steadily climbed the WEF’s list of priorities with each new edition of it annual economic assessment. In its 2011 report, the WEF listed inequality as “the most underestimated” global trend. By last year’s edition, it had climbed to second place.

Al-Monitor covers hands across the divide:

Iraqi Shiites join Sunnis to fight Islamic State

Shiite authorities have assumed a prominent role in calming the situation and preventing their followers from having violent reactions that may have dire consequences. Iraq’s prominent Shiite cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, along with his spokesmen, has repeatedly said, “Sunnis are ourselves, not only our brothers.” Grand Ayatollah Sayyid Hussein Ismail al-Sadr regularly receives Sunni tribesmen and clerics from different parts of Iraq, an important step in the prevention of sectarian conflict between Sunnis and Shiites.

IS did not only target Shiites to drag them into attacking Sunnis, but also suppressed moderate Sunnis to rid the internal front from moderate perspectives and from those who coexist with Shiites. The group deals severely with Sunni tribes that preserve or seek to preserve good ties with Shiites. The Oct. 20 execution of several members of the Bou Nemr tribe in Anbar province is a prominent example. The group has killed 238 men from the tribe and a mass grave of 250 tribesmen was recently found.

These actions have resulted in adverse reactions that were not the group’s objective. The Sunnis sought help from the Shiites to get rid of the group. In an interview with Al-Hurra on Oct. 29, Bou Nemr leader and parliament member Ghazi al-Gaood called on Shiite leaders, particularly Muqtada al-Sadr and the head of the Badr Organization, Hadi Al-Amiri, to oppose the destruction of his tribe by this group. He said they were facing a genocide at the hands of a barbaric group that had no religious, moral or humane principles, and therefore they welcomed any force that could assist them, even if this meant resorting to help from Israel.

Ignorance, intentional or otherwise, via the Guardian:

Libyan former CIA detainees say US torture inquiry never interviewed them

US government preparing to defend its record on torture before UN panel, but fresh accusation reopens controversy over 2012 decision by prosecutor not to bring charges against anyone involved in CIA abuse

As the US government prepares to defend its record on torture before a United Nations panel, five Libyan men once held without charge by the CIA say the main criminal investigation into allegations of detainee abuse never even interviewed them.

The Libyans’ accusation reopens controversy over the 2012 pre-election decision by the prosecutor in the case not to bring charges against anyone involved in CIA abuse – an episode the US State Department has held up as an example of its diligence in complying with international torture obligations.

On Wednesday, a United Nations committee in Geneva is scheduled to hear a US delegation outline recent measures Washington has taken to combat torture. It will be the first update the US has provided to the committee since 2006, when the CIA still operated its off-the-books “black site” prisons. Human rights campaigners who have seen the Obama administration repeatedly decline to deliver justice for US torture victims consider it a belated chance at ending what they consider to be impunity.

Among the committee’s requested submissions, issued in 2010, is a description of steps the US has taken to ensure torture claims against it are “promptly, impartially and thoroughly investigated”. The committee specifically asked for a status update about the Justice Department’s since-concluded torture inquiry.

From the Intercept, inquiring minds want to know:

What Happened to the Humanitarians Who Wanted to Save Libyans With Bombs and Drones?

Almost without exception, war advocates justified NATO’s military action in Libya on the ground that it was driven not primarily by strategic or resource objectives but by altruism. The New York Times’ Nicholas Kristof wrote: “Libya is a reminder that sometimes it is possible to use military tools to advance humanitarian causes.” Former Obama official Anne-Marie Slaughter argued that intervention was a matter of upholding “universal values,” which itself advanced America’s strategic goals. In justifying the war to Americans (more than a week after it started), President Obama decreed: “Some nations may be able to turn a blind eye to atrocities in other countries. The United States of America is different.”

But “turning a blind eye” to the ongoing – and now far worse – atrocities in Libya is exactly what the U.S., its war allies, and most of the humanitarian war advocates are now doing. Indeed, after the bombing stopped, war proponents maintained interest in the Libyan people just long enough to boast of their great prescience and to insist on their vindication. Slaughter took her grand victory lap in a Financial Times op-ed headlined “Why Libya sceptics were proved badly wrong,” Dismissing those who were telling her that “it is too early to tell” and that “in a year, or a decade, Libya could disintegrate into tribal conflict or Islamist insurgency, or split apart or lurch from one strongman to another,” she insisted that nothing could possibly be worse than letting Gaddafi remain in power. Thus: “Libya proves the west can make those choices wisely after all.”

Kristof similarly took his moment in the sun to celebrate his own rightness, visiting Tripoli in August and then announcing that Americans were regarded by grateful Libyans as heroes. While carefully larding up his column with all sorts of caveats about how things could still go terribly wrong, he nonetheless trumpeted that “this was a rare military intervention for humanitarian reasons, and it has succeeded” and that “on rare occasions military force can advance human rights. Libya has so far been a model of such an intervention.” When Gaddafi’s defeat was imminent, the White-House-supporting Think Progress blog exploited the resulting emotions (exactly as the GOP did when Saddam was captured) to taunt the Republicans: “Does John Boehner still believe U.S. military operations in Libya are illegal?” – as though killing Gaddafi somehow excused the waging of this war in the face of Congressional rejection of its authorization, let alone guaranteed a better outcome for Libyans.

Speaking of Libya. . .via BBC News:

Libya violence: Activists beheaded in Derna

Three young activists have been found beheaded in Derna, in eastern Libya.

The three, who had relayed information about the city through social media, had been kidnapped earlier this month.

Several Islamist groups are competing for control of the city, with some militants recently declaring allegiance to Islamic State.

Libya has been in a state of flux since Col Gaddafi was overthrown in 2011, with disparate tribes, militias and political factions fighting for power.

The Guardian covers a curious decision:

UK drops security claim blocking Pakistani’s lawsuit over ‘torture’

Government abandons argument that UK-US intelligence ties preclude letting Yunus Rahmatullah sue for damages

The UK government has abandoned its long-standing claim that relations with Washington would suffer if a Pakistani citizen who claims he was tortured by British and American troops was allowed to sue for damages in court.

Yunus Rahmatullah says he was tortured over a 10-year period after being captured by British special forces in Iraq and handed over to US troops in 2004. He was released by the US without charge in May.

The British government made the concession as a former American ambassador roundly dismissed the government’s case.

From the Express Tribune, an all-too-familiar story in Pakistan:

Drone strike kills six in North Waziristan

At least six suspected militants were killed, and three others were injured in a US drone attack in the Datta Khel area of North Waziristan on Tuesday evening.

Initial reports suggest that the drone fired two missiles on a vehicle and a residential compound. As a result of the strikes, the vehicle and a portion of a house were destroyed.

The identities of the killed have not been ascertained as yet, but local tribesmen claim that the killed were local and foreign militants.

Pakistan routinely protests against US drone strikes, which have been targeting militants in the tribal areas since 2004, saying they violate its sovereignty and are counterproductive in the fight against terror.

But most analysts believe the resumption of the drone programme after it was suspended at the start of the year — reportedly to give Pakistan space for negotiations with the Taliban — is evidence of collusion between the two countries.

Skynet alert, via the New York Times:

Fearing Bombs That Can Pick Whom to Kill

Warfare is increasingly guided by software. Today, armed drones can be operated by remote pilots peering into video screens thousands of miles from the battlefield. But now, some scientists say, arms makers have crossed into troubling territory: They are developing weapons that rely on artificial intelligence, not human instruction, to decide what to target and whom to kill.

As these weapons become smarter and nimbler, critics fear they will become increasingly difficult for humans to control — or to defend against. And while pinpoint accuracy could save civilian lives, critics fear weapons without human oversight could make war more likely, as easy as flipping a switch.

Britain, Israel and Norway are already deploying missiles and drones that carry out attacks against enemy radar, tanks or ships without direct human control. After launch, so-called autonomous weapons rely on artificial intelligence and sensors to select targets and to initiate an attack.

Cold War 2.0, via TheLocal.no:

Russian super-jets seen flying near Norway

Photo evidence of a new Russian fighter jet caught flying just outside Finnmark in North Norway were released by Norwegian security forces on Tuesday.

The images were taken by Norwegian air defence personnel at the end of October, but capture the might of the new aircraft technology Russian has at its disposal and threat to security posed by the re-emerging superpower state.

The images showed two of the new Russian Su-34 fighter jets, never before been seen flying in and around North Europe. The series of pictures were taken on October 29th this year, outside the coast of Finnmark, reported VG.

And the old reliable honey trap, via intelNews:

UK report warns about sexual entrapment by foreign spies

A leaked report issued by military authorities in the United Kingdom cautions British officials to be aware of attempts by Chinese and Russian intelligence services to compromise them using sexual entrapment.

The London-based Sunday Times newspaper said it had acquired a copy of the document, entitled Manual of Security, authored by the United Kingdom’s Ministry of Defence for use by senior officials. The manual warns that foreign intelligence services are known to employ sexual entrapment or romantic attachment as a means of compromising their targets.

The document singles out the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) and the Chinese Ministry of State Security as two adversary agencies that are known to employ sexual entrapment on a regular basis.

From the Intercept, dirty deeds scrutinized:

EU Scrutinizes Spyware Exports To Sketchy Regimes

The European Union will start paying closer attention to sales of invasive surveillance software, which has previously flowed from European companies to countries with questionable human rights records.

Under new EU rules issued recently, certain kinds of monitoring software will require a license to export. Those license applications would provide more transparency about where the software is going, and could potentially allow governments to block unsavory sales.

As The Intercept has reported, companies like Milan-based Hacking Team or FinFisher, of Munich, sell to countries where authorities appear to have used the software to spy on dissidents and the press. Hacking Team implants have been discovered on the devices of Moroccan and Ethiopian journalists, while leaked FinFisher documents showed that activists and political opposition members in Bahrain had been targeted.

German hacking the official sort, via RT:

German intelligence to monitor overseas social networks

Germany’s foreign intelligence agency plans to spend hundreds of millions of euros on surveillance technology designed to monitor foreign social networks, local media reported, citing a confidential document.

The Federal Intelligence Service (BND) will spend €28 million, in 2015 alone, on its Strategic Technical Initiative (SIT), the Sueddeutsche Zeitung newspaper reported.

According to a confidential report seen by the newspaper, the agency asked the Bundestag’s Budget Committee for a total of €300 million ($375 million) for the SIT program between 2015 and 2020.

The BND plans to set up an early warning system for cyber attacks, the report said.

The Diplomat covers cyberspooks:

Cyber Espionage and US-China Relations

Program notes:

Cyber issues are increasingly at the forefront of the U.S.-China relationship. The Obama administration places great emphasis on stopping cyber attacks on U.S. commercial interests while China decries the cyber espionage revealed in the Edward Snowden leaks. Dr. James Lewis, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, joins The Diplomat to talk about China’s (and America’s) cyber espionage activities, policy options for Washington, and what progress has been made so far.

From Nextgov, a win:

Federal Judge Says Public Has a Right to Know About FBI’s Facial Recognition Database

A federal judge has ruled that the FBI’s futuristic facial-recognition database is deserving of scrutiny from open-government advocates because of the size and scope of the surveillance technology.

U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan said the bureau’s Next Generation Identification program represents a “significant public interest” due to concerns regarding its potential impact on privacy rights and should be subject to rigorous transparency oversight.

“There can be little dispute that the general public has a genuine, tangible interest in a system designed to store and manipulate significant quantities of its own biometric data, particularly given the great numbers of people from whom such data will be gathered,” Chutkan wrote in an opinion released late Wednesday.

After the jump, Flash vulnerabilities redux, a South Korean hacker’s confession, seeking goose sauce for the hacked gander, malware downloads for your iPhone, NGOs and rights activists targeted by malware, the ongoing corrupt police assets seizure regime, more protests in Mexico over those slaughtered students, killer cops in Brazil, a provocative Russian nuclear move in Iran, on to Hong Kong, first with a greenlight for cops to clear away Occupy protesters [who are preparing to surrender] and an Obama denial, China strengthens its economic alliance, mixed signals between Washington and Beijing, China wows with a new stealth fighter as it seeks a greater Afghan role, and Japan asks for a hotline with Beijing, plus the new LGBT/African American/Jewish friendly Klan. . . Continue reading

Chart of the day: Playing with a stacked deck


From Demos:

BLOG Wealth

Quote of the day: Inequality and Ebola


From Nissim Mannathukkaren of Dalhousie University’s international relations faculty in Halifax, Nova Scotia, writing in The Hindu:

Inequalities are at the heart of the Ebola crisis. Ebolas are produced in a world in which the United States spends $8,362 annually per person on health while Eritrea (Africa) spends $12. It is the same world in which the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries which constitute a mere 18 per cent of the world’s population spend 84 per cent of the total money spent on health in the world. Thus, unsurprisingly, 95 per cent of tuberculosis deaths and 99 per cent of maternal mortality are in the developing world.

And these inequalities are not only between the developed and the developing worlds, but also exist within the developed world as the health indicators of African Americans and indigenous people in North America show. In the city of London, it is estimated that while travelling on the tube eastwards from Westminster, each tube station signifies the loss of approximately one year of life expectancy.

It is not an accident that Ebola’s epicentre is in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone. They are some of the poorest countries in the world with a history of wars and conflicts, and of collapsing or dysfunctional health systems. Liberia has only 51 doctors to serve 4.2 million people and Sierra Leone, 136 for six million.

Inequalities mark every step of the current outbreak. Questions are being asked about the initial tardy hospital treatment given to Duncan and whether his race and class had anything to do with it — here was an African man without medical insurance seeking emergency medical help in the most privatised and corporatised medical system in the West. That his nine-day treatment cost $5,00,000 (Rs.3 crore) should tell us something about the state of global health care.

When American missionaries Kent Brantly and Nancy Writebol were infected with Ebola in Liberia, the American government had them airlifted — isolated in an “aeromedical biological containment system” — and had them successfully treated in the U.S. Contrast this with the 22-year-old Liberian woman and nurse-in-training, Fatu Kekula, who was forced to look after four of her Ebola-stricken family members at home using trash bags as protective gear after hospitals turned her away.

Chart of the day: America’s growing wealth divide


From the Urban Institute via the Washington Post:

BLOG Racial divide