Category Archives: Sports

British cyberspooks face a challenge in court


GCHQ stands for Government Communications Headquarters, but it’s really Old Blighty’s version of the U.S. National Security Agency and was created to spy on the communications of foreign governments.

GCHQ’s most famous success was cracking German military codes during World War II, and it has partnered with the younger NSA for years.

But now the super-secret agency faces a new legal challenge.

From Ars Technica:

GCHQ will face scrutiny by the European Court of Human Rights, after Privacy International lodged an official complaint against the UK eavesdropping nerve centre’s use of bulk hacking abroad.

The complaint is the latest in a series of attempts by the organisation to bring GCHQ surveillance to heel.

In February, the UK’s Investigatory Powers Tribunal failed to decide whether GCHQ’s activities breach Articles 8 and 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights protecting the right to privacy and freedom of speech.

However it did say that the British government was within its rights to issue general warrants to hack electronic devices under section 7 of the Intelligence Service Act 1994. Privacy International has sought an appeal against that decision with a judicial review at the UK High Court.

It now wants a legal ruling on the question of whether section 7 is permitted under the convention.

“The government is currently hacking abroad based on a very vague and broad power that provides few if any safeguards on this incredibly intrusive power,” said the organisation.

Map of the day III: Peak public paychecks


From Deadspin, the top public employee paycheck recipient in each of the 50 states:

BLOG Paychecks

Why the latest attacks in Brussels? Blowback


With the news media offering simplistic yet nebulous explanations for the Brussels attacks, Belgian physicist and philosopher Jean Bricmont offers a more nuanced explanation in which the nations of Europe and the United States bear significant shares of responsibility.

As he wrote for Counterpunch four years ago:

Instead of calling for more and more interventions, we should demand of our governments the strict respect for international law, non-interference in the internal affairs of other States and cooperation instead of confrontation.  Non-interference means not only military non-intervention. It applies also to diplomatic and economic actions: no unilateral sanctions, no threats during negotiations, and equal treatment of all States. Instead of constantly “denouncing” the leaders of countries such as Russia, China, Iran, Cuba for violating human rights, something the anti-anti-war left loves to do, we should listen to what they have to say, dialogue with them, and help our fellow citizens understand the different ways of thinking in the world, including the criticisms that other countries can make of our way of doing things.  Cultivating such mutual understanding could in the long run be the best way to improve “human rights” everywhere.

This would not bring instant solutions to human rights abuses or political conflicts in countries such as Libya or Syria.  But what does?  The policy of interference increases tensions and militarization in the world. The countries that feel targeted by that policy, and they are numerous, defend themselves however they can. The demonization campaigns prevent peaceful relations between peoples, cultural exchanges between citizens and, indirectly, the flourishing of the very liberal ideas that the advocates of interference claim to be promoting.  Once the anti-anti-war left abandoned any alternative program, it in fact gave up the possibility of having the slightest influence over world affairs.  It does not in reality “help the victims” as it claims. Except for destroying all resistance here to imperialism and war, it does nothing.   The only ones who are really doing anything are in fact the succeeding U.S. administrations. Counting on them to care for the well-being of the world’s peoples is an attitude of total hopelessness.

In this interview with Jaisal Noor conducted soon after the Brussels attacks, Bricmont takes aim at European and American foreign policy, Europe’s growing refugee problems, and the uses of terrorist crises by the intelligence agaencies and forces of repression in the “enlightened” nations of the West.

From The Real News Network:

Why Belgium?

Program note:

Brussels attacks is the latest blowblack against western regime change says Jean Bricmont, author of Humanitarian Imperialism

Headline of the day: Interesting questions ensue


From the Guardian:

Snowden: FBI’s claim it can’t unlock the San Bernardino iPhone is ‘bullshit’

NSA whistleblower rubbishes claims that only Apple can unlock killer’s iPhone 5C, indicating FBI has the means itself

Headline of the day II: Spooks behaving badly


From The Independent:

Shankill Road bombing: MI5 failed to act on IRA tip-off that could have prevented Belfast atrocity, investigation claims

Highly-sensitive documents suggest terrorist who plotted attack that killed nine civilians in 1993 was British agent

InSecurityWatch: Pols, cops, hacks, terror, zones


And so much more, starting with the inevitable from BBC News:

US-Cuba shift: Opponents threaten to block changes

Opponents of President Barack Obama’s new Cuba policy have threatened to block his efforts to restore diplomatic relations after 50 years of hostility.

Florida Senator Marco Rubio promised on CNN to block the nomination of any US ambassador to Cuba. Other anti-Castro legislators suggested Congress would removing funding for any normalised ties with the country.

US-Cuban ties have been frozen since the early 1960s – a policy of isolation Mr Obama condemned as a failure. On Wednesday, the US president said it was time for a new approach.

Part of the deal with the New York Times:

C.I.A. Mole, Now Out of Prison, Helped U.S. Identify Cuban Spies

He was, in many ways, a perfect spy — a man so important to Cuba’s intelligence apparatus that the information he gave to the Central Intelligence Agency paid dividends long after Cuban authorities arrested him and threw him in prison for nearly two decades.

Rolando Sarraff Trujillo has now been released from prison and flown out of Cuba as part of a swap for three Cuban spies imprisoned in the United States that President Obama announced Wednesday in a televised speech. Mr. Obama did not give Mr. Sarraff’s name, but several current American officials identified him and a former official discussed some of the information he gave to the C.I.A. while burrowed deep inside Cuba’s Directorate of Intelligence.

Mr. Sarraff’s story is a chapter in a spy vs. spy drama between the United States and Cuba that played on long after the end of the Cold War, decades after Cuba ceased to be a serious threat to the United States. The story — at this point — remains just a sketchy outline, with Mr. Sarraff hidden from public view and his work for the C.I.A. still classified.

Another frightening case of transnational corporate exceptionalism from the Guardian:

US tries to strike deal with EU for immunity over online security breaches

  • Critics fear Tisa talks could be used to further interests of large corporations and undermine right to privacy

The US is attempting to secure immunity from investigation for online security breaches by major US companies under negotiations between Washington and Brussels, according to leaked documents seen by the Guardian.

Such a deal would prevent US companies that were operating inside the EU from being prosecuted by regulators or law officers for data breaches or claims of negligence in the host country, forcing European governments to pursue cases in the US courts.

Public service unions said the Trade in Services Agreement (Tisa) talks in Geneva revealed how the US planned to protect homegrown businesses from regulations that might hinder their expansion into sensitive areas such as government data handling and healthcare.

Rosa Pavanelli, general secretary of Public Services International (PSI), which represents 650 unions in 150 countries, said the leaked documents, obtained by the Associated Whistleblowing Press, confirmed her fears that “Tisa is being used to further the interests of some of the largest corporations on earth”.

Another major law enforcement failure, from the Los Angeles Times:

Feds sue N.Y.C. citing ‘deeply disturbing’ conditions at Rikers Island

Federal prosecutors sued New York City on Thursday over its handling of violence against young inmates held on Rikers Island, calling the jail complex a place where adolescents are “subjected to unconstitutional conditions and confinement.”

Preet Bharara, U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, said in a filing Thursday that his office wanted to speed reforms at the facility following a Justice Department report in August that found “Rikers is a dangerous place” where a “pervasive climate of fear exists.”

At a news conference announcing the suit, Bharara said, “Today we have taken a legal step that we believe is necessary …. Much, much more needs to be done,” to safeguard inmates at Rikers.

Before federal officials filed the court documents, they notified New York Mayor Bill de Blasio of their intention. Bharara said the mayor supported the move.

The Los Angeles Times again, with the politics of race in Ferguson:

Ferguson-area school district strips power from black voters, ACLU says

The American Civil Liberties Union on Thursday filed a federal lawsuit against a school district that serves Ferguson, Mo., alleging that the district disenfranchises black voters.

The lawsuit, filed in conjunction with the Missouri NAACP, comes after months of scrutiny by government agencies and civil rights groups into the area’s local governments and predominantly white political leadership following the Aug. 9 police shooting of an unarmed black man. That incident has triggered a protest movement that has yet to fully subside.

The Ferguson-Florissant School District has seven board members, and only one is black. The district serves 11,000 students in northern St. Louis County, 79% of whom are black, according to the ACLU.

The school board members are selected in at-large elections. The lawsuit charges that because black voters are a minority inside the district’s boundaries, their relative voting strength is unfairly weakened in at-large elections.

From RT America, another troublesome Ferguson failure:

Ferguson grand jury witness wants to “stop calling blacks n*****s”

Program notes:

One of the witnesses in the grand jury that reviewed the actions of Ferguson, Mo. police officer Darren Wilson is under scrutiny by journalists who believe she may have not even been at the scene of the shooting. Adding to their speculation is a journal entry from “Witness 40,” in which she writes that she wanted to “drive to Florisant… Need to understand the Black race better so I stop calling Blacks n*****s.” Andrew Goldberg, managing editor of The Smoking Gun, gives more details to RT’s Ben Swann.

Cold War 2.0, with added repartee, via the Japan Times:

Danger in the skies as Russia, NATO play cat-and-mouse

Recent close shaves between Russian fighters and civilian aircraft highlight the dangers of the cat-and-mouse game being played out between Moscow and the West in European skies amid the crisis in Ukraine, analysts say.

In the latest incident, Sweden said Dec. 12 that a Russian military jet nearly collided with a passenger plane south of Malmo shortly after take-off from Copenhagen International Airport.

Both countries called in their Russian ambassadors to protest, only to be told that a huge increase in Russian military activity in recent months was “a response to NATO’s activities and escalation in the region.”

Russia later accused Swedish authorities of being under the influence after smoking too much cannabis.

World War 2.0, via Al Jazeera America:

Dutch right-wing politician charged with inciting hatred against Moroccans

  • Geert Wilders’ political party tops opinion polls in the Netherlands

Anti-Islam politician Geert Wilders will be prosecuted in the Netherlands for alleged discrimination and inciting hatred against Moroccans during election campaigning in March, prosecutors said on Thursday.

The charges stem from an incident in The Hague, when Wilders led an anti-Moroccan chant in a cafe, which was broadcast nationally and prompted 6,400 complaints to the police.

Wilders asked supporters if they wanted more or fewer Moroccans in their city, triggering the chant: “Fewer! Fewer! Fewer!” A smiling Wilders responded, “We’ll take care of that.”

In a later TV interview, he referred to “Moroccan scum.”

Torture lessons from Cold War 1.0, from Newsweek:

When Torture Backfires: What the Vietcong Learned and the CIA Didn’t

The CIA is hardly the only spy service to grapple with blowback from making prisoners scream. Even leaders of Communist Vietnam’s wartime intelligence agency, notorious for torturing American POWs, privately knew that “enhanced interrogation techniques,” as the CIA calls them, could create more problems than solutions, according to internal Vietnamese documents reviewed by Newsweek.

In many cases, torturing people wrongly suspected of being enemy spies caused “extremely regrettable losses and damage,” says one of the documents, released to little notice in 1993 by Hanoi’s all-powerful Public Security Service (PSS). But unlike the CIA, Vietnam’s security service constantly engaged in Marxist-style “self-criticism” to review its mistakes, particularly those caused by relying on confessions extracted by torture, the recently translated Communist documents show.

The documents were obtained and translated by Christopher E. Goscha, a history professor at the University of Montreal and one of the leading international scholars on Indochina during the French colonial period. He included them in his book, Historical Dictionary of the Indochina War (1945-1954): An International and Interdisciplinary Approach, which was published to little notice in Denmark in 2011. “Torture and intelligence gathering in a time of war are a tricky combination,” he told Newsweek, “and the [Communists’] policing and military intelligence services were no exception to the rule.”

On to the battlefield, via BBC News:

IS leaders killed by US air strikes, Pentagon chief says

US air strikes have killed several high-ranking military leaders of Islamic State (IS) in Iraq, the Pentagon’s top officer says. Gen Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the strikes aimed to hamper the Islamist group’s ability to conduct attacks, supply fighters and finance operations.

IS controls a swathe of Iraq and Syria, where it has declared a caliphate.

Meanwhile, Kurdish forces say they have broken the IS siege of Mount Sinjar.

Gen Dempsey told the Wall Street Journal that the loss of IS leaders was “disruptive to their planning and command and control”. He added: “These are high-value targets, senior leadership.”

Cyberconvolutions from CBC News:

Hackers posing as Syrian-Canadians may be tied to ISIS

  • Malware aims to expose location of attacker’s target

Hackers suspected of ties to ISIS posed as Syrian-Canadians to try to implant malicious software on a computer of a Syrian citizen media group, an internet watchdog says.

A Citizen Lab report released today says there’s strong evidence that the Islamic jihadist group sent the phishing email in late November, but it’s not conclusive.

“This bears little resemblance to anything we’ve seen from the usual suspects,” said report co-author John Scott-Railton. “That, combined with who they are targeting … gives us pause and makes us think that maybe we’re looking at ISIS malware.”

If ISIS is responsible for the attempted attack on the citizen media group, it could mark an early warning sign that the group is embracing a new tactic in its fight to establish a caliphate.

Another ironic hack, via Nextgov:

48,000 Federal Employees Potentially Affected by Second Background Check Hack

The Office of Personnel Management is alerting more than 48,000 federal employees their personal information may have been exposed following a breach at KeyPoint Government Solutions, which conducts background investigations of federal employees seeking security clearances.

The total number of employees affected is 48,439, according to an email from OPM Chief Information Officer Donna Seymour obtained by Nextgov.

Seymour said OPM worked closely with the Department of Homeland Security to investigate the incident, “and while we found no conclusive evidence that [personally identifiable information] was taken by the intruder, OPM has elected to conduct these notifications out of an abundance of caution.”

And yet another embarrassing hack, via the Los Angeles Times:

Internet authority ICANN says it was hacked

The Internet authority responsible the Web’s address system has been hacked, compromising employee emails and personal information.

The Internet Corp. for Assigned Names and Numbers, or ICANN, said Tuesday that it fell victim to a “spear phishing” attack in November. The hack involved emails crafted to look as though they came from the organization’s own domain.

Earlier this month, ICANN learned that the stolen employee credentials were used to access other systems aside from email, including the Centralized Zone Data System that grants access to private employee information. Hackers accessed employees’ names, addresses, email addresses, phone numbers and usernames. The digital thieves also found employee passwords, though that information was encrypted instead of saved as plain text, ICANN said.

And a transition our first after-the-jump, hack-of-the-year stories, via the Associated Press:

Sony hacking fallout puts all companies on alert

Companies across the globe are on high alert to tighten up network security to avoid being the next company brought to its knees by hackers like those that executed the dramatic cyberattack against Sony Pictures Entertainment.

The hack, which a U.S. official has said investigators believe is linked to North Korea, culminated in the cancellation of a Sony film and ultimately could cost the movie studio hundreds of millions of dollars. That the hack included terrorist threats and was focused on causing major corporate damage, rather than on stealing customer information for fraud like in the breaches at Home Depot and Target, indicates a whole new frontier has emerged in cybersecurity. Suddenly every major company could be the target of cyberextortion.

“The Sony breach is a real wake-up call even after the year of mega-breaches we’ve seen,” says Lee Weiner, Boston security firm Rapid7’s senior vice president of products and engineering. “This is a completely different type of data stolen with the aim to harm the company.”

“Movie studios have, by and large, behaved as high-security intellectual property purveyors; prints have been tightly controlled, screeners are watermarked, and bootleggers are prosecuted wherever possible,” says Seth Shapiro, a professor at the University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts. He said that’s what makes it so surprising that email leaks showed that Sony executives apparently gave out passwords in unencrypted emails and made other security blunders.

After the jump, on to the hack of the year, starting with another film pulled by another studio, a White House declaration, possible responses, a media war victor, potential impacts on the studio system, Sony emails force apologetics, an author enters the game, a plot twist about plot twists, revelations about studio battles with Google, plus curious legal ties, major router hackability revealed, Japanese ransomware debuts, a rebel ceasefire in Colombian and a violent protest in Brazil, complaints of wasted aid in Pakistan, thousands may be headed for Pakistani gallows, while Pakistan asks for help for Washington, and a court bails a major terrorism suspect, Christian fear in Indian as Hindu violence rises, a U.N. call for punitive action against North Korea and a North Korean nuclear count, a South Korean rift complicates air force plans, China clamps down on foreign television, Japan redefines scope of future military actions, and allegations of a curious cabal of upper crust British killer pedophiles. . .   Continue reading

InSecurityWatch: Spies, media war, terror, cops


And that Asian Game of Zones is heating up again.

We begin with the not-so-idiot box from the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law:

I’m Terrified of My New TV: Why I’m Scared to Turn This Thing On — And You’d Be, Too

I just bought a new TV. The old one had a good run, but after the volume got stuck on 63, I decided it was time to replace it. I am now the owner of a new “smart” TV, which promises to deliver streaming multimedia content, games, apps, social media, and Internet browsing. Oh, and TV too.

The only problem is that I’m now afraid to use it. You would be too — if you read through the 46-page privacy policy.

The amount of data this thing collects is staggering. It logs where, when, how, and for how long you use the TV. It sets tracking cookies and beacons designed to detect “when you have viewed particular content or a particular email message.” It records “the apps you use, the websites you visit, and how you interact with content.” It ignores “do-not-track” requests as a considered matter of policy.

It also has a built-in camera — with facial recognition. The purpose is to provide “gesture control” for the TV and enable you to log in to a personalized account using your face. On the upside, the images are saved on the TV instead of uploaded to a corporate server. On the downside, the Internet connection makes the whole TV vulnerable to hackers who have demonstrated the ability to take complete control of the machine.

More troubling is the microphone. The TV boasts a “voice recognition” feature that allows viewers to control the screen with voice commands. But the service comes with a rather ominous warning: “Please be aware that if your spoken words include personal or other sensitive information, that information will be among the data captured and transmitted to a third party.” Got that? Don’t say personal or sensitive stuff in front of the TV.

You may not be watching, but the telescreen is listening.

And on to the mounting tensions in familiar place, via BBC News:

Pakistan bomb kills 50 at Wagah border with India

More than 50 people have been killed and at least 100 injured in a suicide bombing close to Pakistan’s only border crossing with India. The blast hit near the checkpoint at the Wagah border crossing, near Lahore.

The Pakistani Taliban told the BBC that it had carried out the attack, although another militant group, Jundullah, also said it was responsible.

At least 15 people were badly injured, and officials said three members of the Pakistani border force had died.

The Wagah crossing is a high-profile target, with large crowds gathering every day to watch an elaborate flag-lowering ceremony as the border closes.

Negotiating with Reuters:

Qaeda’s Nusra lays out conditions to release captured Lebanese soldiers

The Syrian Nusra Front has offered to free Lebanese soldiers it has captured in exchange for Islamist prisoners held in Syria and Lebanon, the SITE Intelligence Group reported on Sunday.

The al Qaeda-linked front said in a statement monitored by SITE that it had presented a Qatari negotiator with three proposals for the release of the soldiers, taken when its fighters and militants from the Islamic State, which controls parts of Iraq and Syria, briefly seized the border town of Arsal in August.

According to the statement, which SITE said was posted on Twitter on Saturday, Nusra asked for the release of 10 “brothers” held in Lebanon, or seven prisoners in Lebanon and 30 female prisoners held in Syria, or six prisoners and 50 female prisoners for each captive soldiers.

And the McClatchy Foreign Staff covers a defeat:

US-backed forces in Syria suffer big setback

Al Qaida-backed militants Saturday stormed the base of the most prominent civilian commander in the U.S.-backed Syrian rebel force, forcing him and his fighters to flee into hiding in the Jebal al Zawiya mountains of northern Syria.

Jamal Maarouf, a contractor in private life, became internationally known for leading the successful offensive in January that forced the Islamic State from most of two northern provinces. His ouster from his own village was an enormous setback for him, the rebel forces and his international backers.

Even more ominous was that that the Islamic State, now far stronger and claiming to run a Caliphate in Syria and Iraq, reportedly had joined Jabhat al Nusra in the attack on the village of Deir Sinbul.

More from the Guardian:

US plan for proxy army to fight Isis in Syria suffers attack

  • Syrian opposition leader blames Washington for rout as air strikes on Isis seen as aiding Assad crackdown

The US plan to rally proxy ground forces to complement its air strikes against Isis militants in Syria is in tatters after jihadis ousted Washington’s main ally from its stronghold in the north over the weekend.

The attack on the Syrian Revolutionary Front (SRF) by the al-Qaida-aligned Jabhat al-Nusra came after weeks of clashes between the two groups around the city of Idlib, which has remained one of the last bastions of regime control in northern Syria throughout the civil war.

Militants overran the command centre of the SRF’s leader, Jamal Maarouf, in Deir Sonbol in a humiliating rout that came as US and Arab air forces continued to attack Isis in the Kurdish town of Kobani, 300 miles east, in an effort to prevent the town from falling.

From Techdirt, a spooky lobotomy:

Senator Wyden Attacks CIA Redaction Demands As ‘Unprecedented’

  • from the unprecedented-problems-may-need-unprecedented-solutions dept

It’s well known that CIA’s been stalling over the release of the officially declassified 480 page “executive summary” of the 6,300 page CIA torture report, put together by staffers of the Senate Intelligence Committee over many years at a cost of $40 million. It’s known that the report is somewhat devastating to the CIA and the CIA isn’t happy about it (at all). Originally, the CIA suggested redactions that made the report incomprehensible, even as James Clapper said it was “just 15%” that was redacted. Recent reports have focused on the fight over redacting pseudonyms. Apparently the CIA wants all names, including pseudonyms redacted, while the Senate Intelligence Committee thinks that pseudonyms (but not real names) should be left in so that the report accurately reflects if the actions were done by a large number of diverse individuals, or by some particular individuals again and again and again. The CIA, likely employing some sort of “mosaic theory” claim, say that they’re worried that even with pseudonyms, identifying the same person in a few different situations will make it easier for some to figure out who they are.

In response, Senator Ron Wyden has attacked the CIA’s position and noted that it’s “unprecedented” and that plenty of other, similar, reports have made use of pseudonyms, without a problem.

Spooks in court, via The Hill:

NSA phone program faces key court test

The National Security Agency (NSA) is getting its day in court.

On Tuesday, a closely watched case over the spy agency’s most controversial program heads to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, considered the second most powerful federal bench in the country.
Along with other high-profile court cases challenging the constitutionality of the NSA’s spying, civil liberties advocates are sensing that the wind is at their backs, even as Congress has failed to push legislation past the finish line.

“We want [the court] to reach the constitutional issues because it has to be decided now, for the sake of the future,” said Larry Klayman, the conservative lawyer whose case against the Obama administration is before the Circuit court. “And all we’re really asking is that the NSA adhere to the law.”

Klayman’s case challenges the constitutionality of the NSA’s bulk collection of Americans’ phone records, a program revealed by Edward Snowden last summer.

And a blow to privacy Down Under from The Register:

Oz gov lets slip: telco metadata might be available to civil courts

  • Quite by accident, truth leaks out

A series of slips by the nation’s top cop followed by communications minister Malcolm Turnbull has made Australia’s data retention bill even more of a potential horror than it seemed when it was introduced last week.

It started with the Australian Federal Police commissioner Andrew Colvin saying that stored telecommunications metadata could be used to go after people who infringe copyright online. That statement, made on October 30, was unequivocal – he used the word “absolutely”.

It’s always a bad idea for police to rashly tell the world what they really think.

And from the Washington Post, the European memory hole reaches across the Atlantic:

Pianist asks The Washington Post to remove a concert review under the E.U.’s ‘right to be forgotten’ ruling

The pianist Dejan Lazic, like many artists and performers, is occasionally the subject of bad reviews. Also like other artists, he reads those reviews. And disagrees with them. And gripes over them, sometimes.

But because Lazic lives in Europe, where in May the European Union ruled that individuals have a “right to be forgotten” online, he decided to take the griping one step further: On Oct. 30, he sent The Washington Post a request to remove a 2010 review by Post classical music critic Anne Midgette that – he claims — has marred the first page of his Google results for years.

It’s the first request The Post has received under the E.U. ruling. It’s also a truly fascinating, troubling demonstration of how the ruling could work.

From TheLocal.at, an Austrian internal security problem:

Armed youths attack Tyrol refugee centre

Police in Tyrol are investigating an attack on the Bürglkopf refugee centre near the market town of Fieberbrunn on Wednesday evening.

Five youths were heard shouting xenophobic slogans at around half past midnight, 35 metres away from the remote property.

They then shot a gun in the air and reportedly threw fireworks at the centre’s windows.

The youths were dressed in black hooded jackets and shouted things like “foreigners out” and “we’re going to kill you, pigs”, according to an anonymous witness quoted in profil magazine.

The Associated Press covers a political exclusion zone:

AP Exclusive: Ferguson no-fly zone aimed at media

The U.S. government agreed to a police request to restrict more than 37 square miles of airspace surrounding Ferguson, Missouri, for 12 days in August for safety, but audio recordings show that local authorities privately acknowledged the purpose was to keep away news helicopters during violent street protests.

On Aug. 12, the morning after the Federal Aviation Administration imposed the first flight restriction, FAA air traffic managers struggled to redefine the flight ban to let commercial flights operate at nearby Lambert-St. Louis International Airport and police helicopters fly through the area — but ban others.

“They finally admitted it really was to keep the media out,” said one FAA manager about the St. Louis County Police in a series of recorded telephone conversations obtained by The Associated Press. “But they were a little concerned of, obviously, anything else that could be going on.

At another point, a manager at the FAA’s Kansas City center said police “did not care if you ran commercial traffic through this TFR (temporary flight restriction) all day long. They didn’t want media in there.”

As in Ferguson, so in France from TheLocal.fr:

Violent protests erupt in France over alleged police brutality

Violent protests broke out on Saturday in two French cities against alleged police brutality, leaving several people injured.

Officers fired rubber bullets and tear gas as demonstrators hurled bottles of acid and stones in the northwestern city of Nantes, injuring at least five protesters and three police officers. Police made 21 arrests in Nantes, while in the southwestern city of Toulouse, where clashes also erupted, 13 people were detained.

The protests were held over the death of environmental activist Remi Fraisse, 21, who was killed last Sunday during clashes between security forces and demonstrators at the site of a contested dam in southwestern France.

Initial investigations showed traces of TNT on his clothes and skin, suggesting he may have been killed by a police stun grenade.

After the jump, global urban insecurity, Mexican police as murder suspects, cartel killers’ Twitter terrorism, Spanish sins of the past threatened with Argentine trials, Egyptian press control tightens, next to China and tightened controls on foreign TV and film, drone-enhanced war games and a triumphant claim, Indian umbrage at a Chinese submarine visit next door, American angst over Chinese fly-bys, North Korea launches a ballistic missile sub, A Japanese ghost form the past pays a visit as the government refines its remilitarization drive, and the curious cost of Hong Kong domestic security. . . Continue reading