And so much more. . .
We begin with a story to make you question your already diminished regard for mainstream media, via Digital Journal [and with a H/T to Undernews]:
Editor of Major German Newspaper Says He Planted Stories for CIA
Becoming the first credentialed, well-known media insider to step forward and state publicly that he was secretly a “propagandist,” an editor of a major German daily has said that he personally planted stories for the CIA.
Saying he believes a medical condition gives him only a few years to live, and that he is filled with remorse, Dr. Udo Ulfkotte, the editor of Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, one of Germany’s largest newspapers, said in an interview that he accepted news stories written and given to him by the CIA and published them under his own name. Ulfkotte said the aim of much of the deception was to drive nations toward war.
Dr. Ulfkotte says the corruption of journalists and major news outlets by the CIA is routine, accepted, and widespread in the western media, and that journalists who do not comply either cannot get jobs at any news organization, or find their careers cut short.
From the Los Angeles Times, the DNA panopticon in the Golden State:
Millions of DNA samples stored in warehouse worry privacy advocates
Privacy advocates are calling for more safeguards related to a state collection of DNA samples from 16 million Californians in a nondescript government warehouse in the Bay Area.
The biobank holds blood taken with the prick of a heel from almost every baby born in California for the last three decades. It is used to screen for 80 health disorders, such as cystic fibrosis and sickle cell anemia.
Unlike most states, California keeps the frozen samples indefinitely and shares them with genetic researchers, for a fee.
State officials say the samples are secure and are used to save lives. But the privacy advocates and an influential state lawmaker, concerned about the potential misuse of DNA information, say parents and donors should have a clear choice about whether the state can keep theirs.
The Atlantic Monthly covers spooky overreach:
Michael Hayden’s Hollow Constitution
- In a recent speech, the former NSA director argued that what constitutes a reasonable search under the 4th Amendment changed on September 11, 2001.
In a speech at Washington and Lee University, Michael Hayden, a former head of both the CIA and NSA, opined on signals intelligence under the Constitution, arguing that what the 4th Amendment forbids changed after September 11, 2001. He noted that “unreasonable search and seizure,” is prohibited under the Constitution, but cast it as a living document, with “reasonableness” determined by “the totality of circumstances in which we find ourselves in history.”
He explained that as the NSA’s leader, tactics he found unreasonable on September 10, 2001 struck him as reasonable the next day, after roughly 3,000 were killed. “I actually started to do different things,” he said. “And I didn’t need to ask ‘mother, may I’ from the Congress or the president or anyone else. It was within my charter, but in terms of the mature judgment about what’s reasonable and what’s not reasonable, the death of 3,000 countrymen kind of took me in a direction over here, perfectly within my authority, but a different place than the one in which I was located before the attacks took place. So if we’re going to draw this line I think we have to understand that it’s kind of a movable feast here.”
Who was affected by growing surveillance power? “Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras are fond of accusing the NSA of suspicion-less surveillance. That’s almost a nonsense comment for somebody with my background,” Hayden said. “I am not a law enforcement officer. I don’t suspect anybody. I am simply going out there to retrieve information that helps keep my countrymen free and safe. This is not about guilt. In fact, let me be really clear. NSA doesn’t just listen to bad people. NSA listens to interesting people. People who are communicating information.”
The Toronto Globe and Mail covers the new panoply of powers given to spooks up north:
CSIS’s new powers: How the new legislation will affect security agencies
The federal government has unveiled security legislation that has faced criticism for expanding the powers of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service without added public oversight.
Canada’s spy service would become an agency that actively tries to derail terror plots at home and abroad – not just one that collects intelligence and hands it off to the RCMP.
The bill would give authorities the power to order the removal of “terrorist propaganda” from websites. It would also create a new criminal offence of encouraging someone to carry out a terrorist attack.
Authorities could apply to a court if they believe terrorist activity “may be carried out.” The previous threshold called on authorities to state they believed an act “will be carried out.”
Here’s a graphic that explains the before-and-after:
From the New York Times, faintly good news:
In Net Neutrality Push, F.C.C. Is Expected to Propose Regulating the Internet as a Utility
The chairman of the Federal Communications Commission this week is widely expected to propose regulating Internet service like a public utility, a move certain to unleash another round of intense debate and lobbying about how to ensure so-called net neutrality, or an open Internet.
It is expected that the proposal will reclassify high-speed Internet service as a telecommunications service, instead of an information service, under Title II of the Communications Act, according to industry analysts, lobbyists and former F.C.C. staff members.
The change, the analysts and others say, which has been pushed by President Obama, would give the commission strong legal authority to ensure that no content is blocked and no so-called pay-to-play fast lanes exist — prohibitions that are hallmarks of the net neutrality concept.
But Tom Wheeler, the F.C.C. chairman, will advocate a light-touch approach to Title II, they say, shunning the more intrusive aspects of utility-style regulation, like meddling in pricing decisions. He may also suggest putting wireless data services under Title II and adding regulations for companies that manage the backbone of the Internet.
On to the war, first with a disturbing video report on joystick killers from the Guardian:
Drone wars: the gamers recruited to kill
In tiny bunkers in the United States, young pilots are operating unmanned drones targeting ‘bad people’ in Pakistan.
Recruited at video game fairs by military leaders who know the value of games that glamourise ‘militainment’, drone pilots are left traumatised by the civilian casualties – or ‘collateral damage’ – their strikes cause. Psychologically distanced from the enemy, are drones the future of warfare?
The Los Angeles Times covers deeper involvement:
U.S., allies plan tough battle to retake Iraqi city from Islamic State
Working from this sun-scorched desert base, U.S. and allied commanders are beginning perhaps the most perilous phase of their fight against Islamic State: an attempt to recapture Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city, from the entrenched militant forces.
Military officers here say a barrage of airstrikes over the last two weeks helped sever two crucial routes that the extremist militants used to funnel fighters and supplies from the Syrian border to Mosul, their self-declared capital in Iraq and most significant battlefield prize.
U.S. commanders who help oversee the air war say the joint offensive with Iraqi Kurdish ground forces pushed back the Sunni Islamists’ defensive line west of Mosul, recapturing territory and removing a key obstacle, at least for now, as military planners consider tactics for retaking the congested city as early as this summer.
From the World Food Program, opportunism:
World Food Programme Alarmed By Images Showing ISIS Distributing WFP Food In Syria
The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) is extremely concerned about images circulating on social media showing WFP food boxes bearing Islamic State in Syria (ISIS) labels. WFP is trying to verify the authenticity of the photographs, where they were taken and the circumstances surrounding this incident.
The photographs seem to have been taken in Dayr Hafr, in eastern rural Aleppo governorate about 50 kilometres from Aleppo city. WFP last reached Dayr Hafr on 5 August, 2014, through a cross-line convoy that delivered 1,700 food rations, enough to feed 8,500 people for one month.
WFP has learned that in September 2014 ISIS raided Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC) warehouses in Dayr Hafr where undistributed food rations may have been stored. SARC is a partner of WFP. All areas controlled by ISIS are security hot spots, which severely limits the ability to monitor food distributions.
“WFP condemns this manipulation of desperately needed food aid inside Syria. We urge all parties to the conflict to respect humanitarian principles and allow humanitarian workers including our partners to deliver food to the most vulnerable and hungry families,” said Muhannad Hadi, WFP Emergency Regional Coordinator for the Syria crisis.
BBC News covers a confrontation with Gulf reality:
Saudi Alarab TV channel halts hours after launch
A new Saudi Arabian pan-Arab news channel has stopped scheduled broadcasting less than 24 hours after going on air from studios in Bahrain.
Alarab TV, owned by billionaire Saudi businessman Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, launched with the promise of politically independent news coverage.
One of its first guests was a prominent Bahraini opposition figure, drawing criticism from pro-government media.
On to Eurointolerance with the Guardian:
German neo-Nazi party cancels protest after boarding wrong train
- NPD members due to arrive in Freiburg to support woman banned from exam due to her party allegiance
Members of Germany’s neo-Nazi National Democratic party (NPD) were forced to cancel a protest in the south-west city of Freiburg after they got on to a train to Mannheim by mistake.
Police said they had received word at around noon on Saturday that the demonstration, which had been planned for 2.30pm outside Freiburg’s administrative court, had been called off.
The group of fewer than 20 NPD members became confused after police prevented them from boarding the Freiburg train because it was full of far-left “ultra” football supporters on their way to a Bundesliga match, police spokesperson Dirk Klose told the Guardian.
To prevent any trouble, the police told them to take another train to the Black Forest city, but the NPD members simply got on the next train from the same platform – apparently without checking the destination notice.
Another fail, via TheLocal.at:
Pegida demo is a damp squib
Germany’s Pegida “anti-Islamisation” movement held its first march in Austria on Monday but was dwarfed by a colourful counter-demonstration more than 10 times larger, according to police estimates.
A number of the Pegida supporters at the Vienna demonstration were skinheads, and some of them performed Nazi salutes, an AFP reporter at the scene said.
Police spokesman Roman Hahslinger told AFP that some 400 Pegida supporters showed up but that 5,000 people joined the counter-protest, shouting “Nieder, nieder, nieder mit Pegida!” (“Down, down, down with Pegida!”) and waving rainbow flags.
And from TheLocal.no, banishment:
Norway banishes Islamist to remote village
A court in Oslo on Monday authorised police to banish Iraqi Kurd “hate preacher” Mullah Krekar to a remote Norwegian village.
The mullah, 58, who has been living in Norway since 1991, founded the radical Islamist group Ansar al-Islam. He was released from prison at the end of January after serving a two-year, 10-month sentence for making threats against Prime Minister Erna Solberg, before she came to office, and three Kurds.
The police had invoked special measures to order Krekar, whose real name is Najmeddine Faraj Ahmad, to live in a refugee centre in Kyrksæterøra, a village of 2,500 people situated 500 kilometres (300 miles) from the capital.
After the jump, a Boko Haram attack repelled, a Nigerian presidential rally suicide bombed, an online Syrian honey trap, an online airport parking ap hacked for credit card data, yet another hackable Flash flaw discovered, a BMW door opening hacker exploit fixed, turning sex toys into cyber spies, Obama’s new government website security team, Feds slap the “terrorist” label an Anonymous hacktivist the Guardian, British nobles drop a terror law enhancement drive, Pakistan ramps up the Subcontinent arms race, a Delhi/Beijing/Moscow alliance aimed at Pakistan?, China’s new aircraft carrier secret springs a leak, China moves up in the arms buildup up ranks, Abe ratchets up the remilitarization regime yet again, plus Okinawa remains on Abe’s spite list. . . Continue reading