First, via the Independent, the usual suspects, faring well:
With US-led air strikes on Isis intensifying, it’s a good time to be a shareholder in the merchants of death
- Last month American warships fired $65.8m worth of Tomahawk missiles within just 24 hours of each other
So who is winning the war? Isis? Us? The Kurds (remember them?) The Syrians? The Iraqis? Do we even remember the war? Not at all. We must tell the truth. So let us now praise famous weapons and the manufacturers that begat them.
Share prices are soaring in America for those who produce the coalition bombs and missiles and drones and aircraft participating in this latest war which – for all who are involved (except for the recipients of the bombs and missiles and those they are fighting) – is Hollywood from start to finish.
Shares in Lockheed Martin – maker of the “All for One and One for All” Hellfire missiles – are up 9.3 per cent in the past three months. Raytheon – which has a big Israeli arm – has gone up 3.8 per cent. Northrop Grumman shares swooped up the same 3.8 per cent. And General Dynamics shares have risen 4.3 per cent. Lockheed Martin – which really does steal Alexandre Dumas’ Three Musketeers quotation on its publicity material – makes the rockets carried by the Reaper drones, famous for destroying wedding parties over Afghanistan and Pakistan, and by Iraqi aircraft.
And don’t be downhearted. The profits go on soaring. When the Americans decided to extend their bombing into Syria in September – to attack President Assad’s enemies scarcely a year after they first proposed to bomb President Assad himself – Raytheon was awarded a $251m (£156m) contract to supply the US navy with more Tomahawk cruise missiles. Agence France-Presse, which does the job that Reuters used to do when it was a real news agency, informed us that on 23 September, American warships fired 47 Tomahawk missiles. Each one costs about $1.4m. And if we spent as promiscuously on Ebola cures, believe me, there would be no more Ebola.
From United Press International, a very important source of insecurity right here in the U.S.A.:
Stop and frisk causes anxiety in young men, study claims
- Stop and frisk has been a common practice in New York for well over a decade
A new study suggests the New York City Police Department’s stop and frisk practice may be leading to elevated levels of anxiety among young men in the city, especially young black men.
The policy allows police to stop pedestrians and search them for drugs or weapons.
“Although 80% of respondents reported being stopped 10 times or fewer, more than 5% of respondents reported being stopped more than 25 times, and 1% of respondents reported more than 100 stops,” says the study, which was published in the American Journal of Public Health on Thursday.
The study found that people who are stopped frequently report high levels of stress and anxiety when roaming the city, while those who are not stopped frequently do not feel those emotions. The study found black respondents were both more likely to feel those emotions and more likely to have been stopped regularly. The study involved 1,200 men ages 18 to 26, and it was conducted over a six month period.
On to the spooky world, first with BuzzFeed News:
Exclusive: Key NSA Official Has Another Business At Her Home
Powerful National Security Agency official registered “electronics” business at her home before her husband set up intelligence business there, BuzzFeed News finds. Her company owns a plane and a condo.
On a quiet street in Ellicott City, Maryland, a blue-grey two-story clapboard house, set back from the road, is shaded by two sycamores and a towering maple. It’s the unassuming home of one of the National Security Agency’s most powerful officials, Teresa H. Shea.
In September, BuzzFeed News disclosed a potential conflict of interest involving Shea, the director of Signals Intelligence. Called SIGINT in espionage jargon, it refers to all electronic eavesdropping and interception, including the controversial domestic surveillance program that collects information about Americans’ phone use.
As BuzzFeed News reported, there’s a private SIGINT consulting and contracting business based at Shea’s home in that quiet neighborhood. Shea’s husband, a business executive in the small but profitable SIGINT industry, is the resident agent for the firm, Telic Networks.
In addition, James Shea also works for a major SIGINT contracting firm, DRS Signal Solutions Inc., which appears to do SIGINT business with the NSA.
Now there’s a new wrinkle, which the NSA has also declined to discuss: Yet another company, apparently focused on the office and electronics business, is based at the Shea residence on that well-tended lot.
More from the Wire:
The NSA’s Moonlighting Problem
- A former NSA head has recruited one of his underlings for his lucrative cybersecurity firm—but that underling still works for the agency
In Washington, the revolving door between government service and more lucrative ventures is common, if not expected. However, having one foot in each has raised questions for the National Security Agency, which has launched an internal review of one senior official who was recruited by former NSA director Keith Alexander to work for his new—and very lucrative—cybersecurity private venture.
Patrick Dowd, the NSA’s Chief Technological Officer, is allowed to work up to 20 hours a week for Alexander’s firm, IronNet Cybersecurity, Inc., according to Reuters, which broke the story on the deal. Although the arrangement was apparently approved by NSA managers and does not appear to break any laws on its face, it does raise questions about ethics and the dividing line between business and one of the most secretive agencies in government.
NSA spokeswoman Vanee Vines told Reuters, “This matter is under internal review. While NSA does not comment on specific employees, NSA takes seriously ethics laws and regulations at all levels of the organization.”
But one of the chief antagonists is in trouble, via The Hill:
Top NSA critic could lose seat
Critics of the government’s spy agencies are worried that Colorado’s hotly contested Senate race could end the public career of one of their best allies in Congress.
Sen. Mark Udall’s (D-Colo.) possible defeat would leave a void in the Senate and on the powerful Intelligence Committee, civil liberties and anti-secrecy advocates fear.
“I do think it would be a significant loss for the movement,” said Laura Murphy, the head of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Washington office.
“What Udall has is the institutional memory, and the relationships in the civil liberties community, in the Democratic Party and in the tech industry so that we don’t have to start over again with someone new,” she added, while noting that her concern would be the same if Republican civil liberties advocates were also at risk of losing their seats.
From RT, a reminder that you don’t have to be paranoid to feel they’re out to get you:
Assange fears Ecuador embassy in London bugged
Lawyers for the WikiLeaks founder have filed eavesdropping claims to the Swedish court, as Julian Assange, who has been stuck in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London for over two years, fears he is being bugged.
In a submission presented to the Swedish Court of Appeal on Friday, Assange’s lawyers claim that he “is most likely under auditory surveillance,” the Daily Mail reports.
The defense also urged the Swedish side to hand over text messages, sent by one of Assange’s accusers, which they believe could serve as evidence that there was no ground for the arrest warrant. Assange says they reveal the woman’s ambiguity over his arrest and even her opposition to the case, based on sexual assault allegations.
The lawyers also believe that to “break the deadlock,” the 43-year-old Australian should be questioned at the embassy in Knightsbridge, where he is staying, rather than go to Sweden, which he believes could lead to his extradition to the US.
Next up, from TheLocal.se, the Swedish enigma continues:
Mystery deepens over reported Russian sub
Mystery deepened on Sunday over a Swedish military operation triggered by “foreign underwater activity” off the coast of Stockholm, amid an unconfirmed report of a hunt for a damaged Russian submarine.
Late on Saturday, Swedish armed forces stepped up an operation — involving more than 200 men, stealth ships, minesweepers and helicopters — in an area about 50 kilometres (30 miles) east of the Swedish capital.
The operation was initiated on Friday after the armed forces said they had been informed of a “man made object” in the water.
Officials denied they were “submarine hunting,” calling the mobilization — one of the biggest, barring purely training exercises, since the Cold War — an “intelligence operation”.
More from United Press International:
Sweden puts troops on alert after detecting possible foreign threat
- Swedish media reported transmissions on an emergency frequency coming from waters of the Stockholm Archipelago to a reciever in Kaliningrad, Russia
Erik Lagersten, spokesman for the Swedish Armed Forces, could not confirm or deny speculations about the threat, including whether it was a missing foreign submarine.
“We are now trying to verify the information we received yesterday, which in our assessment comes from trustworthy sources, and see whether it has any substance or not,” Jesper Tengroth, press officer for the Swedish military, told Swedish media on Saturday.
Swedish newspaper Svenska Dagbladet reported that the National Defence Radio Establishment detected emergency radio transmissions coming from the area to a reciever in Kaliningrad, Russia.
The Intercept debunks:
The FBI Director’s Evidence Against Encryption Is Pathetic
FBI Director James Comey gave a speech Thursday about how cell-phone encryption could lead law enforcement to a “very dark place” where it “misses out” on crucial evidence to nail criminals. To make his case, he cited four real-life examples — examples that would be laughable if they weren’t so tragic.
In the three cases The Intercept was able to examine, cell-phone evidence had nothing to do with the identification or capture of the culprits, and encryption would not remotely have been a factor.
In the most dramatic case that Comey invoked — the death of a 2-year-old Los Angeles girl — not only was cellphone data a non-issue, but records show the girl’s death could actually have been avoided had government agencies involved in overseeing her and her parents acted on the extensive record they already had before them.
In another case, of a Lousiana sex offender who enticed and then killed a 12-year-old boy, the big break had nothing to do with a phone: The murderer left behind his keys and a trail of muddy footprints, and was stopped nearby after his car ran out of gas.
And in the case of a Sacramento hit-and-run that killed a man and his girlfriend’s four dogs, the driver was arrested in a traffic stop because his car was smashed up, and immediately confessed to involvement in the incident.
The Guardian covers an accusation:
United States accused of misleading British minister over treatment of Shaker Aamer in Guantánamo Bay
- Charity claims British resident cleared for release is being beaten by guards before force-feeding
The US government has been accused of misleading a British minister over the brutal treatment endured by the last British resident being held inside Guantánamo Bay.
Testimony from detainees has described increasingly violent “forcible cell extraction” (FCE) tactics, in which an inmate is forced out of his cell by armed guards, usually before being taken to the force-feeding chair.
Earlier this month a federal judge, Gladys Kessler, heard how methods used by the US military to feed inmates against their will present long-term health risks and that lubricating their feeding tubes with olive oil can cause chronic inflammatory pneumonia.
However, attempts by the British government to establish if Shaker Aamer, whose family are in south London, has been mistreated appear to have been dismissed. The foreign secretary, Philip Hammond, revealed in a letter dated 7 October: “We made inquiries with US government officials, who assured us that the report of an incident, relayed to you by another detainee, is not accurate.”
From PCWorld, gone phishin’:
Dropbox used for convincing phishing attack
Dropbox’s file storage service was used for a tricky phishing attack, although the service was quick to shut down it down, according to Symantec.
The security vendor said it detected a batch of phishing emails advising recipients that they’ve been sent a large file and included a link to Dropbox-hosted page.
“The email claims the document can be viewed by clicking on the link included in the message,” wrote Nick Johnston of Symantec in a blog post. “However, the link opens a fake Dropbox login page, hosted on Dropbox itself.”
By hosting the fake login page on Dropbox, the scammers gain some benefits over hosting it on a random, strange-looking domain name. The phishing page is contained within Dropbox’s user content domain, similar to shared photos or files, Johnston wrote
And the Guardian covers an admission:
Whisper chief executive answers privacy revelations: ‘We’re not infallible’
- Michael Heyward releases statement on Guardian reports
- Does not dispute accuracy of reporting
- Says: ‘Reasonable people can disagree about online anonymity’
The chief executive of the “anonymous” social media app Whisper broke his silence late on Saturday, saying he welcomed the debate sparked by Guardian US revelations about his company’s tracking of users and declaring “we realise that we’re not infallible”.
Michael Heyward’s statement was his first public response to a series of articles published in the Guardian which revealed how Whisper monitors the whereabouts of users of an app he has in the past described as “the safest place on the internet”.
Whisper hosts 2.6 million messages a day posted through its app, which promises users a place to “anonymously share your thoughts and secrets” and has billed itself as a platform for whistleblowers.
After the jump, the latest on the search for those missing Mexican college students, an on-the-air killing of a Mexican activist, a crime activist slain, and a maverick cop murdered, the two Koreas exchange fire, on to Hong Kong and a protester condemnation, a mediator talks fairness, fear of a violent minority, and claims of foreign influence, Beijing/Washington cybertalks stalled, a shifting submarine balance, a Chinese wound is poked and a military response follows, a major provocation by China, plus a major threat for China’s mistresses. . . Continue reading