Mercury Rising 鳯女

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Archive for the ‘wrong way to go about it’ Category

More wiretapping

Posted by Charles II on June 16, 2013

One of the things that ought to be noted in the NSA wiretapping scandal is that the level of mass surveillance we are engaged in is an irritant to our allies. In the past, they have accused us of misusing information for commercial advantage (see sec. 10.9 here and here). But simply the thought that an ally is watching everything one says or does is unnerving. It may be legal to wiretap non-Americans at will, but it’s not wise.

Ewen MacAskill, Nick Davies, Nick Hopkins, Julian Borger and James Ball. The Guardian:

Foreign politicians and officials who took part in two G20 summit meetings in London in 2009 had their computers monitored and their phone calls intercepted on the instructions of their British government hosts, according to documents seen by the Guardian. Some delegates were tricked into using internet cafes which had been set up by British intelligence agencies to read their email traffic.

This included:

• Setting up internet cafes where they used an email interception programme and key-logging software to spy on delegates’ use of computers;

• Penetrating the security on delegates’ BlackBerrys to monitor their email messages and phone calls;

• Supplying 45 analysts with a live round-the-clock summary of who was phoning who at the summit;

• Targeting the Turkish finance minister and possibly 15 others in his party;

A detailed report records the efforts of the NSA’s intercept specialists at Menwith Hill in North Yorkshire to target and decode encrypted phone calls from London to Moscow which were made by the Russian president, Dmitry Medvedev, and other Russian delegates.

Incidentally, the goal of the wiretapping? Guardian editorial:

The aim – which appears to have been largely successful – was to improve the UK’s negotiating positions on the economic matters under discussion.

Plus ça change…

Posted in NSA eavesdropping, wiretapping, wrong way to go about it | 8 Comments »

Time to reassess. The Obama campaign to keep Plan B unavailable.

Posted by Charles II on May 7, 2013

Via Atrios, Irin Carmon at Salon

[District Court Judge Edward Korman] repeatedly slammed his hand down on the table for emphasis, interrupting the government counsel’s every other sentence with assertions like, “You’re just playing games here,” “You’re making an intellectually dishonest argument,” “You’re basically lying,” “This whole thing is a charade,” “I’m entitled to say this is a lot of nonsense, am I not?” and “Contrary to the baloney you were giving me …” He also accused the administration of hypocrisy for opposing voter ID laws but being engaged in the “suppression of the rights of women” with the ID requirement for the drug.

Judges saying things like this is unusual. The Department of Justice and the Obama Administration in general need to re-think how much they want to placate the right. On the Plan B story, at least, they simply look like fools.

Meanwhile, I’d like to buy Judge Korman a drink. After dealing with these liars, I’m sure he needs one.

Posted in Barack Obama, Justice Department, women's issues, wrong way to go about it | 3 Comments »

Free Shaker Aamer, or Minds and Bodies Broken Along With Obama Promises

Posted by Charles II on April 29, 2013

Shaker Aamer, British citizen judged innocent, but held anyway

Image from DemocracyNow 4/29/13

Victoria Brittain: … And those 86 people [held as prisoners in Guantanamo] included this British resident, Shaker Aamer, who—having been cleared as innocent, everybody expected him to be released. The British government has also asked for him. But President Obama has not managed to release him.

why don’t they want Shaker back? I mean, why don’t you people want to send Shaker back? One theory is that because he has been a leading figure in all the hunger strikes and a leading negotiator between the American authorities and the prisoners, he’s a person with tremendous personality and power. He was educated in the United States. He comes from Saudi Arabia. He lives in Britain and has a British family. So he covers all the bases.

He had been living in Afghanistan with his young family, like Moazzam Begg—in fact, in the same house. And they had been building girls’ schools and digging wells. And it was as charity workers that they were there. And that’s completely uncontested by anybody. So, after being sold, he was then tortured…. At that moment after the American bombing, there was a proliferation of different armed groups who picked up these different people as a money-making enterprise.

, I find it very hard to see how he [presidential spokesman Michael Williams] can say, “We don’t hold people indefinitely,” when these people, like—I’ll take the example of Shaker and perhaps of another man, Fouzi Al Awda, a Kuwaiti man. These are people who have been held for 11 years. These are people who, everybody knows, pose no threat whatsoever. The Kuwaiti government has been asking for Fouzi for—since the very, very beginning. The very first court case against President Bush and Donald Rumsfeld, Fouzi Al Awda was the correspondent. They cannot possibly say that the British government is not able to assure them that Shaker does not pose any threat of any sort. The British government—William Hague, himself, the foreign secretary, has said it over and over again. So, I think there’s a bit of economical with the truth going on there.

But last year on this day, she [wife Zinnira Aamer] wrote this amazing long poem called “Heart of Gold.” And—

AMY GOODMAN: Can you read it?

VICTORIA BRITTAIN: I can read a little bit of it. And I think it gives you an idea of the sweetness of the personality.

You are the roof over my head,
You are the shadow that can’t be lead,
You are my voice when the silence breaks,
Your hand I seek, your hand I hold,
Cause you have a heart of gold.

You show me light in the dark,
And you guide me when I am lost,
Your happiness is all I ask,
But your story remains untold,
Cause you have a heart of gold.

You know, it’s a very hard—sorry. But, you know, Zinnira, when she wrote that, she was in one of her up phases, and she was so pleased with the crafting of it, and she worked so hard on it to make it perfect to send to him. And she sends him photographs of the children and little stories and letters that the children write. But over these years, she has had some very serious breakdowns. And sometimes I’ve been with her when she’s been talking about wanting to go to paradise, because she has these bad dreams. Sometimes she dreams that Shaker’s dead. Sometimes she dreams that Shaker is divorcing her. And you have to reassure her over and over again, “The voices—don’t listen to the voices. You have to push the voices away.” And sometimes she can, and sometimes she can’t. And she’s had some sad periods in mental hospitals, and she has periods when she simply packs the kids into the car and goes off to stay with her aged parents, and they look after her until she recovers.

And some of the time, you know, she’s a great mom. She runs her little house. She takes the kids to school. She does extra teaching after school. And she’s a wonderful, warm, outgoing mom, only concerned about her children.

your officials say they’re not held indefinitely. But, you know, if it’s not indefinite, it’s definite. So, aren’t they going to say 11 years is enough?

A British charity worker who poses no threat to anyone, picked up because some thugs wanted to make a few dollars, sold and tortured, held for 11 years, on hunger strike and being tortured by forced feedings, his wife and children suffering daily along with him.

The best guess is that Aamer is being held punitively because he has been an inspiration to other prisoners; presumably if they break him, they imagine other prisoners will be cowed… though what advantage this would be to the United States is unclear.

President Obama has the legal authority to release Aamer.

What is wrong with the United States of America, that we hold and torture innocent people?

Posted in crimes, Guantanamo, wrong way to go about it | 2 Comments »

China in a bull shop

Posted by Charles II on November 27, 2012

Once again on my China-is-not-a-benign-continental-power rant….from Jonathan Kaiman, The Guardian:

It took just one little map to create a regional diplomatic dispute.

The map, in China’s newly designed passport, claims ownership of the entire South China Sea – parts of which are also claimed by Taiwan, the Philippines, Vietnam, Brunei and Malaysia – as well as disputed areas on the China-India border and two Taiwanese tourist destinations.

The Philippines, Vietnam, India and Taiwan have all vehemently protested against the new microchip-equipped passport, which essentially forces neighbouring countries to validate China’s position on contested regions.

Vietnam and the Philippines lodged formal complaints last week with Chinese embassies in Hanoi and Manila, respectively. India’s external affairs minister, Salman Khursid, called the map “unacceptable”.

It’s as if the US did a map with the Jamaica, Iraq, and, oh, say, France as US territories. Would not make the locals happy. And would suggest that the US is even more arrogant than it actually is.

None of this would be of much moment if the US were stable or if the nations of the South China Sea had developed to the point of being capable of mutual self-defense. But China is behaving recklessly. Evidently the lessons of the generation that suffered in war to achieve national independence have been lost, and a narcissistic generation, grasping for power, has emerged. We should know. We have been there before.

Posted in abuse of power, China, impunity, wrong way to go about it | 18 Comments »

You knew it had to be something like this: comment spam

Posted by Charles II on September 7, 2012

Via Ritholtz, an article from Greg Stevens of Kernel Mag on comment spam.

Posted in computers and software, wrong way to go about it | Comments Off

Your tax dollars at work

Posted by Charles II on August 30, 2012

Allison Flood, The Guardian:

Ray Bradbury was investigated by the FBI during the 1950s, with government agents interviewing his peers and putting him under surveillance before concluding that despite being critical of the US government in his writing, the celebrated writer was never a member of the Communist party.

The 40-page cache of the late science fiction author’s FBI files was obtained by the Daily Beast following a Freedom of Information request, and shows the extent to which the FBI had Bradbury in its sights in 1959. “Raymond Douglas Bradbury, a freelance science fiction, television and motion picture scenario writer … has been described as being critical of the United States Government,” the FBI wrote on 8 June 1959, before laying out its issue with Bradbury’s classic collection of short stories, The Martian Chronicles. The stories “were connected by the repeated theme that earthmen are despoilers and not developers”, according to the FBI.

[An informant said] “the general aim of these science fiction writers is to frighten the people into a state of paralysis or psychological incompetence bordering on hysteria which would make it very possible to conduct a Third World War which the American people would seriously believe could not be won since their morals had been seriously destroyed”.

Look, there’s a pretty simple line that any police agency should follow. If something is a crime, it should be investigated. If it’s unpopular, leave it the f— alone. Criticizing the government or, for that matter, membership in any political organization is not a crime.

Posted in FBI, wrong way to go about it | 1 Comment »

Take action against CISPA

Posted by Charles II on April 26, 2012

Look: taking action is as easy as sending an e-mail. Just do it.

HR 3532 (CISPA) pretends to defend against intellectual property theft and other electronic crimes. In reality, it makes it possible for any corporation involved in the transmission of data to treat your communications as public information. Democratic amendments by Schakowsky and Lewis to sharpen the definitions and make it less obnoxious, will not even be allowed to come up for a vote. Michelle Richardson, ACLU:

Under this bill, if they share our private information, they get complete protection from liability. Consumers will no longer be able to assert their privacy rights that exist under current law and hold them accountable in court. They can’t be prosecuted by the government like they currently can for illegal wiretapping or sharing information. They’re getting FOIA exemptions, so that no one will ever know about these breaches or the things that they share with the government. They’re really walking away here with maximum flexibility to share our personal information with minimum accountability and no enforcement to make sure that they are not oversharing and infringing on our privacy.

Here is the text. Looking at it, the key problems I see is that companies are allowed to decide what constitutes a threat. So, if Fox News regards liberals as a threat to national security, they can send your IP and postings on their message boards to the NSA with the subject line Dangerous radical a threat to the American way of life. They are exempt from prosecution or even FOIA to expose it. It would greatly facilitate identity theft, since the NSA can be handed the financial records of any person that, say, your grocery store imagines to be suspicious. And since so many governmental functions are done by contractors, who knows who will be looking at it?

Very, very few Americans wants Chinese hackers to steal research conducted by the US aerospace industry or permit groups like Anonymous to bring down all financial transactions as a protest against a decision by the credit card companies they don’t like. But MBNA and Boeing are not the ones who face the real brunt of electronic crime. It’s liberal sites being hit by ddos attacks by conservatives, people suffering identity theft thanks to insecure ATMs, and everyone whose address book gets stolen by spammers. This legislation is almost certainly not going to help the American people, while it will enable the NSA to become something the Stasi only dreamed about.

EFF is all over this. Go read:

A FAQ on CISPA

Immunity = impunity for companies

Voices across the political spectrum oppose CISPA

And above all, take action

Posted in impunity, Internet, wrong way to go about it | 2 Comments »

How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?

Posted by Charles II on April 11, 2012

“How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?” –John Kerry, before he joined the Dark Side.

Lt. Colonel Daniel Davis:

[Executive Summary]
Senior ranking US military leaders have so distorted the truth when communicating with the US Congress and American people in regards to conditions on the ground in Afghanistan that the truth has become unrecognizable. This deception has damaged America’s credibility among both our allies and enemies, severely limiting our ability to reach a political solution to the war in Afghanistan. It has likely cost American taxpayers hundreds of billions of dollars Congress might not otherwise have appropriated had it known the truth, and our senior leaders’ behavior has almost certainly extended the duration of this war. The single greatest penalty our Nation has suffered, however, has been that we have lost the blood, limbs and lives of tens of thousands of American Service Members with little to no gain to our country as a consequence of this deception.

Final Takeaway: If there were only one thing I could ask you to take away from this rather lengthy brief, it would be this one page. Below you see charted over time, the rising violence from the end of 2005 through the first quarter 2011 (chart source: ANSO, 2011). All spin aside, you see regardless of who was in command, what strategy they used, or what claims they made, nothing impacted the rising arc of violence from 2005 through today. The one thing, however, that has never changed: the upward arc of violence, which continues its rise and is expected to continue at least through this summer.

You know, counterinsurgency is not actually that difficult. If people want you to help them suppress a violent faction, they will help you to do it. If they are not helping, it is a very good bet that they do not want your help.

Click for more
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Afghanistan, wrong way to go about it | 2 Comments »

From Gaza to Tegucigalpa, Tegucigalpa to Oakland

Posted by Charles II on December 3, 2011

Bumped up to front page from a comment by Jo6Pac, this fascinating article by Max Blumenthal:

In October, the Alameda County Sheriff’s Department turned parts of the campus of the University of California in Berkeley into an urban battlefield. The occasion was Urban Shield 2011, an annual SWAT team exposition….

…the Alameda County Sheriff’s Department was preparing for an imminent confrontation with the nascent “Occupy” movement that had set up camp in downtown Oakland… According to Police Magazine, a law enforcement trade publication, “Law enforcement agencies responding to…Occupy protesters in northern California credit Urban Shield for their effective teamwork.”

Training alongside the American police departments at Urban Shield was the Yamam, an Israeli Border Police unit that claims to specialize in “counter-terror” operations but is better known for its extra-judicial assassinations of Palestinian militant leaders and long record of repression and abuses in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip. Urban Shield also featured a unit from the military of Bahrain, which had just crushed a largely non-violent democratic uprising by opening fire on protest camps and arresting wounded demonstrators when they attempted to enter hospitals.

“After 9/11 we reached out to the Israelis on many fronts and one of those fronts was torture,” [Fordham's Karen] Greenberg told me. “The training in Iraq and Afghanistan on torture was Israeli training.

The Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA) is at the heart of American-Israeli law enforcement collaboration. JINSA is a Jerusalem and Washington DC-based think tank known for stridently neoconservative policy positions on Israel’s policy towards the Palestinians and its brinkmanship with Iran. The group’s board of directors boasts a Who’s Who of neocon ideologues. Two former JINSA advisors who have also consulted for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Douglas Feith and Richard Perle, went on to serve in the Department of Defense under President George W. Bush, playing influential roles in the push to invade and occupy Iraq.

Using counterterrorism measures on peaceful civilians is terrorism.

Posted in Occupy movement, terrorism, wrong way to go about it | 1 Comment »

Inventor of pepper spray denounces its use by police

Posted by Charles II on November 29, 2011

One of the people who developed pepper spray in its weaponized uses for the FBI, Kamran Loghman, was so shocked by what he saw at UC Davis and in Seattle that he denounced the manner in which police are using it. He is the recipient of three patents, but has done everything from film making to martial arts to “alternative treatments for addiction and alcohol disorder.”

Here’s the summary from DemocracyNow:

We speak with Kamran Loghman, the expert who developed weapons-grade pepper-spray, who says he was shocked at how police have used the chemical agent on non-violent Occupy Wall Street protesters nationwide — including students at University of California, Davis, female protesters in New York City, and an 84-year old activist in Seattle. “I saw it and the first thing that came to my mind wasn’t police or students, it was my own children sitting down having an opinion and they’re being shot and forced by chemical agents,” says Loghman, who in the 1980s helped the FBI develop weapons-grade pepper -spray, and collaborated with police departments to develop guidelines for its use. “The use was just absolutely out of the ordinary and it was not in accordance with any training or policy of any department that I know of. I personally certified 4,000 police officers in the early ‘80s and ‘90s and I have never seen this before. That’s why I was shocked… I feel is my civic duty to explain to the public that this is not what pepper spray was developed for.”

He makes the point that pepper spray is ideal in the situation where a policeman is trying to subdue someone out of his mind on PCP, where the person who is pepper-sprayed can be decontaminated shortly thereafter. To use it on people who are sitting on the ground is unquestionably an abuse–a form of torture–and completely irresponsible in a situation where the police don’t have any clear means to decontaminate the person within a reasonable period of time. Two people at UC Davis were hospitalized. I suspect that these out-of-spec usages are likely to expose significant long-term damage, including permanent scarring of the airways and esophagus.

The idiots from Fox News called capsicum a “food product.” Well, yeah. So is LSD, opium, and atropine, all of which are dangerous when used in inappropriate dosages. Arsenic is natural, and aflatoxin is organic. What’s your point, Fox?

Posted in abuse of power, Fox Noise, Occupy movement, wrong way to go about it, WTF? | Tagged: , , , | Comments Off

 
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