We begin with the war of the moment, via Reuters:
U.S.-led coalition jets strike Kobani, Islamic State shells hit Turkey
U.S.-led coalition jets pounded suspected Islamic State targets at least six times in the besieged Syrian town of Kobani on Saturday after the fiercest shelling in days by the insurgents shook the town’s center and hit border areas within Turkey.
Shelling continued after the strikes hit the center of Kobani. Several mortars fell inside Turkey near the border gate, called Mursitpinar, according to witnesses.
Islamic State militants have battled Kurdish fighters for a month to take control of Kobani and consolidate a 60 mile (95 km) stretch of land they control along the Turkish border, but stepped-up air strikes in recent days have helped Kurds fend off the advance.
And the latest to join the fray, from the London Telegraph:
‘You can’t stay sitting on your couch’, says member of Dutch motorcycle gang joining fight against Islamic State militants
- Members of “No Surrender” are joining Kurdish Peshmerga fighters on the front line city of Zumar, Iraq
Members of the Dutch motorcycle gang “No Surrender” have joined the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in the Northern region of Iraq in their fight against Islamic State (IS) militants.
Dutch gang member Ron, who did not give his last name, is fighting with the Peshmerga forces on the frontline in the city of Zumar, close to the Syrian border.
When asked by a local television news reporter why he joined the Kurdish forces, he said he couldn’t watch the Islamic State’s violent acts against the Yazidi religious minority, any longer from his home in the Netherlands.
The London Daily Mail covers indiscretion [Osama knew better]:
ISIS tells its jihadis to stop betraying their location when they tweet: Fighters’ obsession with social media is letting spies track where they are
- Jihadi fighters told to stop tweeting names, locations and identifiable photos
- Isis leaders also want them to remove metadata from their tweets
- Information from digital files can be valuable to intelligence agencies
- Arabic language manual handed out to fighters gives detailed instructions
Schneier on Security gets spooky:
NSA Classification ECI = Exceptionally Controlled Information
ECI is a classification above Top Secret. It’s for things that are so sensitive they’re basically not written down, like the names of companies whose cryptography has been deliberately weakened by the NSA, or the names of agents who have infiltrated foreign IT companies.
As part of the Intercept story on the NSA’s using agents to infiltrate foreign companies and networks, it published a list of ECI compartments. It’s just a list of code names and three-letter abbreviations, along with the group inside the NSA that is responsible for them. The descriptions of what they all mean would never be in a computer file, so it’s only of value to those of us who like code names.
This designation is why there have been no documents in the Snowden archive listing specific company names. They’re all referred to by these ECI code names.
And the Guardian covers a call for a probe:
Privacy experts call for Whisper to be investigated over tracking of some users
- Federal Trade Commission could examine issue of ‘anonymous’ app tracking users who have asked not to be followed
Privacy experts on Friday called for the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to examine social media app Whisper’s tracking of “anonymous users”.
The US consumer watchdog has broad powers to sanction companies it believes have breached their promises to consumers and has become increasingly interested in claims made by tech companies, sanctioning Facebook, Google and Snapchat in recent years.
On Thursday the Guardian revealed that Whisper, an app that promises to “anonymously share your thoughts and secrets”, is tracking its users including some who have asked not to be followed and storing their posts indefinitely while it trawls their messages to identify interesting stories to promote itself in the media.
“That’s exactly the kind of deceptive practice that the FTC should crack down on because consumers do rely on those representations,” said Marc Rotenberg, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), which filed a complaint with the FTC last year asking it to investigate Snapchat.
Getting punitive with BBC News:
Internet trolls face up to two years in jail under new laws
Internet trolls could face up to two years in jail under new laws, Justice Secretary Chris Grayling has said.
He told the Mail on Sunday quadrupling the current maximum six-month term showed his determination to “take a stand against a baying cyber-mob”.
The plan has been announced days after TV presenter Chloe Madeley suffered online abuse, which Mr Grayling described as “crude and degrading”.
Magistrates could pass serious cases on to crown courts under the new measures.
And from the Independent a high-flyin’ spy?:
Top secret space plane: American X-37B aircraft lands after secret mission lasting almost two years
A top secret unmanned space plane, that has spent nearly two years circling the Earth on a classified mission, has landed at a US Air Force base on the Southern California coast.
The aircraft, which resembles a miniature version of the space shuttle, safely touched down at 9.24am on Friday at Vandenberg Air Force Base.
Theories have abounded as to the highly classified mission undertaken by the Orbital Test Vehicle or X-37B during its 674 days in orbit. Among them is the suggestion that the aircraft was used to spy on China’s new space laboratory.
Several experts have theorized it carried a payload of spy gear in its cargo bay. Other theories sound straight out of a James Bond film, including that the spacecraft would be able to capture the satellites of other nations.
And a low-flyer? From TheLocal.se:
Sweden hunts damaged Russian sub: report
A Russian distress call prompted Sweden’s hunt for “foreign underwater activity” in the Stockholm archipelago, newspaper Svenska Dagbladet (SvD) reports.
Swedish signals intelligence officials first heard an emergency call on Thursday evening, the newspaper said. Fourteen hours later, at around midday on Friday, a foreign vessel was spotted in the Stockholm archipelago.
Sweden intercepted further communications after it began its military operation in the waters off Stockholm, as encrypted messages were relayed between transmitters in the Stockholm archipelago and the Russian exclave Kaliningrad, SvD said.
The Swedish military said it could neither confirm nor deny the report.
And on to Hong Kong,m first with a breakthrough from Nikkei Asian Review:
Hong Kong government to meet protesters
The Hong Kong government announced Saturday it will meet with student protesters on Oct. 21.
It remains unclear, however, whether the two sides will be able to find common ground, as tensions have been mounting since the government forcibly cleared protesters from one of their bases.
In announcing the planned talks, Chief Secretary for Administration Carrie Lam said five representatives from each side will hold a discussion that will be broadcast live to the public. Lam said she will represent the government along with cabinet members in charge of political reforms.
The meeting will be held for two hours in the afternoon in the southern part of Hong Kong Island. It will be moderated by Lingnan University President Leonard Cheng.
Promptly followed by a blowup, via the Los Angeles Times:
Both sides in Hong Kong warn of crisis as clashes continue
After a flare-up of violence between Hong Kong police and pro-democracy demonstrators Saturday, government officials and protest leaders alike warned that the situation was heading toward a breaking point.
Demonstrators remained encamped around government headquarters in the Admiralty district and had reoccupied streets in the dense commercial Mong Kok area. Police had cleared the Mong Kok sit-in early Friday, but demonstrators returned later in the day and took back control of several key streets, clashing with officers throughout the night.
Speaking out after 26 people were arrested and dozens injured in Mong Kok early Saturday, Hong Kong Police Commissioner Andy Tsang Wai-hung said police had been “extremely tolerant” and that protesters’ increasingly “illegal acts are undermining the rule of law.”
And the latest from Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post:
Violent clashes in Mong Kok cast doubt on government’s plans to break Occupy impasse
- Riot police back in action as clearance of Mong Kok barriers riles crowd; government seeks a bridge from Beijing’s ruling to students’ demands
Violent clashes between demonstrators and riot police erupted in Mong Kok last night, casting doubt over what the government said were fresh moves to start talks with students in a bid to end a seemingly intractable impasse over electoral reform that has sparked almost three weeks of unprecedented street protests.
Just hours after police moved in to clear the Mong Kong Kok Occupy site, more than a thousand protesters poured back into the district, clashing with police. Fresh trouble broke out near the government headquarters in Lung Wo Road in Admiralty.
By the early hours of this morning, a section of Nathan Road in Mong Kok was occupied by protesters as police moved to stop them blocking the junction with Argyle Street again.
Riot police used pepper spray and batons in a bid to drive back the protesters and the clashes led to a number of arrests. Among them was award-winning international photo-journalist Paula Bronstein, who was detained after jumping onto a car to take pictures. Her arrest was later condemned by the Foreign Correspondents Club, which issued a statement accusing the police of “intimidating’‘ journalists.
For our final item, the Asahi Shimbun covers the latest provocation from Abe’s crew:
3 Cabinet members visit Yasukuni Shrine as Tokyo tries to improve ties with China
Three Cabinet members visited the war-related Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo on Oct. 18 as the government is seeking a summit between Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Chinese President Xi Jinping.
Sanae Takaichi, 53, minister of internal affairs and communications, said the visit should not affect Japan’s ties with its neighbors.
“Offering sincere appreciation with respect is a spontaneous act of following one’s heart and is not something that should be looked at in terms of diplomatic relations,” she told reporters after her visit to the shrine, which is marking its Oct. 17-20 autumn festival.
Also visiting the shrine were Eriko Yamatani, 64, minister in charge of the issue of abduction of Japanese nationals by North Korea, and Haruko Arimura, 44, minister overseeing the promotion of women’s activities.