Edward Snowden

Open Letter To Obama

July 26, 2013 President Barack Obama The White House 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W. Washington, D.C. 20500 Re: Civil Disobedience, Edward J. Snowden, and the Constitution Dear Mr. President: You are acutely aware More »

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U.S. Companies Pay Just One-Third Of The Legal Tax Rate: GAO Study

Huffington Post July 1, 2013 By Mark Gongloff Big, profitable U.S. companies paid an average federal tax rate of less than 13 percent in 2010, according to a new study — or More »

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Man Tried for Chalk Drawings Found Not Guilty

NBC San Diego July 1, 2013 By Christina London The man accused of vandalism for drawing with chalk outside banks has been found not guilty on all charges. A jury returned its More »

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The Bigger Story Behind the AP Spying Scandal

Washington’s Blog/Global Research May 20, 2012 By George Washington Attack on the Press You know that the Department of Justice tapped scores of phone lines at the Associated Press. You might have More »

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‘Anonymous’ Hacker Explains Why He Fled The US

Business Insider Mar. 2, 2012 By Michael Kelley Anonymous is front and center these days: the amorphous hacktivist group has been publishing internal data of U.S. banks while prominent members are prosecuted More »

Monthly Archives: June 2012

Why won’t the Obama administration reveal how many Americans’ emails the NSA has collected and reviewed without a warrant?

eff.org
June 29, 2012
By Trevor Timm

Since last year, a few members of Congress—led by Senator Ron Wyden—have been trying to get the Obama administration to answer a simple question: how many Americans’ phone calls or emails have been and are being collected and read without a warrant under the authority of the FISA Amendments Act of 2008 (FAA)?  Unfortunately, no one else in the government  seems to want that question answered.

The question arose soon after Congress passed the FAA, which among other things sought to create immunity for telecoms that helped the NSA conduct warrantless wiretapping and gutted privacy protections for Americans communicating overseas.  A New York Times investigation described how, under the FAA, a “significant and systemic” practice of “overcollection” of communications resulted in the NSA’s intercepting millions of purely domestic emails and phone calls between Americans. In addition, documents obtained via a Freedom of Information Act request by the ACLU, although heavily redacted, revealed “that violations [of the FAA and the Constitution] continued to occur on a regular basis through at least March 2010”— the last month anyone has public data for.


The FISA Amendments Act is currently up for renewal, and Sen. Wyden, along with Sen. Mark Udall, wants the NSA answer questions about these violations before Congress extends the law for five more years. “We have concluded… that section 702 [of the Act] currently contains a loophole that could be used to circumvent traditional warrant protections and search for the communications of a potentially large number of American citizens,” the Senators alleged.

Yet not only have changes not been made to the law to address this vital concern, but the administration refuses to give the Senators any information on whether they’re correct. Back in July 2011, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence told them “it is not reasonably possible to identify the number of people located in the United States whose communications may have been reviewed” under the FAA.

Well, what about just a rough estimate?  Last week, the Inspector General of the Intelligence Community officially responded for himself and the NSA Inspector General:  “such an estimate was beyond the capacity of his [the NSA IG’s] office and dedicating sufficient additional resources would likely impede the NSA’s mission.”  Then, almost unbelievably, the NSA IG excused itself further from oversight by saying that “an IG review of the sort suggested would itself violate the privacy of U.S. persons.”

That’s right.  The government says that it would violate Americans’ privacy for the NSA’s inspector general to estimate how many Americans’ privacy have been violated by the NSA.

The loophole that Wyden is likely talking about appears to be so-called “back door” searches. As Wyden explains it, since communications are sucked up without an individual warrant under the FAA, there must “be clear rules prohibiting the government from searching through these communications in an effort to find the phone calls or emails of a particular American, unless the government has obtained a warrant or emergency authorization permitting surveillance of that American.”  The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI) rejected an amendment stating that as well. SSCI chairman Dianne Feinstein insisted no such loophole existed, but still refused to support the amendment that would have cleared up any ambiguity.

In response, Sen. Ron Wyden commendably put a ‘hold’ on the FAA’s reauthorization in the Senate—a procedural maneuver that will at least temporarily keep the bill from going forward without debate—citing the potential massive privacy violations that the government will not explain to the American public.

Unfortunately, the House has so far refused to compel such information as well. Two weeks ago, the House Judiciary Committee passed the re-authorization of the FISA Amendments Act 23-11, yet voted down all amendments that would have forced the government to be more transparent about the communications it had collected. 

Full Article Here – https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2012/06/why-wont-obama-administration-reveal-how-many-americans-phone-calls-or-emails

National Occupy gathering set for July 4 in Philly

Associated Press
June 30, 2012
By PATRICK WALTERS

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Get ready for Occupy Fourth of July in the cradle of liberty.

Occupy groups from across the country are headed to Philadelphia for a national gathering on Independence Mall, seeking to unify their far-flung movement against economic inequality a half-year after police evicted protesters from encampments in Philadelphia, Los Angeles, New York and other cities. The event, which starts Saturday and runs through July 4, is expected to bring about 1,500 protesters for marches, speakers and camping during the city’s annual Independence Day festivities.

That has Philadelphia officials bracing for extra people during a week that already brings more than 1 million tourists to town for concerts, fireworks and other celebrations. While the Occupy Philadelphia protests last year were largely peaceful, the city eventually became frustrated with protesters’ refusal to leave a City Hall plaza and police evicted those who remained in late November; several dozen protesters were arrested in the raid’s aftermath.


Philadelphia Managing Director Rich Negrin said city officials have been preparing for the Occupy gathering, a conference being held by a spinoff group known as The 99% Working Group and other events planned by tea party activists.

“I don’t think we’ve ever been better positioned to handle large events in Philadelphia than we are today,” said Negrin, adding that city officials have been coordinating with other agencies for months. “We’re being incredibly conservative and suggesting that any one of these events could bring thousands of people.”

Deputy Police Commissioner Kevin Bethel said the department will bolster its police presence downtown. They plan to use uniformed and non-uniformed personnel, mounted units and bicycle officers, but he declined to say how many additional officers will be on.

“Occupy can be very unpredictable in their movement,” Bethel said, adding that the “leaderless” nature of the protests also present a challenge to law enforcement. “We’re going to be all hands on deck.”

Full Article Here – http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5hTJ__o9P3TLppHP2gFa18ABpwmKA?docId=1124d8810cae48e38d02d760a381d006

Casual e-mails tell chilling story of market fixes

Associated Press
June 28, 2012
By ROBERT BARR

LONDON (AP) — The e-mails sound casual: Dude reaching out to dude, begging for favors and offering rewards ranging from coffee to fine champagne.
But what the bankers were allegedly doing was as serious as it gets: fixing an interest rate that affects the cost of half a quadrillion dollars — that’s $554 trillion — in financial contracts around the world, from mortgages to loans.
U.S. and British investigators say the employees of Barclays Bank — and possibly those of other major international banks — clearly knew it was wrong to manipulate the London interbank office rate, known as the LIBOR, which determines the rate at which banks lend to each other and, by extension, the rate at which they lend to consumers and businesses.

The rate is calculated daily by the British Bankers’ Association, based on lending rate figures submitted by global banks. Some of Barclays’ staff, however, allegedly succumbed to the temptation to adjust the figures in a bid to boost profits or disguise financial weaknesses.
One trader messaged a colleague about helping to influence the three-month LIBOR.
“As always, any help wd be greatly appreciated,” the trader wrote.
“I am going 90 altho 91 is what I should be posting,” came the reply.
The trader responded: “When I retire and write a book about this business your name will be written in golden letters.”
“I would prefer this not be in any book!” came the answer.
And yet it did appear — not in a book, but in court papers that led to fines totaling $453 million against the bank. U.S. and British officials are considering criminal charges against individuals and British investigators are probing other major banks including Citigroup in the United States, Switzerland’s UBS, Britain’s HSBC and Royal Bank of Scotland.

Full Article Here – http://news.yahoo.com/casual-e-mails-tell-chilling-story-market-fixes-165537584–finance.html

150 Amazon Indians Occupy Belo Monte Dam Site

Care2June 28, 2012
By Stephen Messenger

Despite decades of legal and political wrangling to halt the building of a massive hydroelectric dam facility at Belo Monte, in the heart of the Brazilian Amazon, all seemed lost as earth-movers and construction teams began arriving in drove to the site earlier this year. But where the words and appeals of those indigenous tribes destined to be displaced by the dam had failed, nearly two-hundred native Amazonians have now gathered in a last ditch effort to protect their homeland using their bodies.

According to a spokesperson from the mostly indigenous protesters, Cleanton Ribeiro, more than 150 members from four local tribes began occupying a portion of the construction site where, when completed, the world’s third largest hydroelectric dam would flood thousands of acres upon which they currently reside.

“They are demanding demarcation of their lands, the expulsion of invaders, an improved health system and running water,” says Ribeiro, via the AFP. “They no longer believe in the promises made (by the consortium) and say they will leave only when concrete steps begin.”

RIAA chief: ISPs to start policing copyright by July 1

CNet
June 27, 2012

WikiLeaks suspect Bradley Manning wins battle over US documents

AFP
June 26, 2012

FORT MEADE, Maryland — A US military judge ordered prosecutors Monday to share more documents with WikiLeaks suspect Bradley Manning after defense lawyers accused them of hiding information that could help their client’s case.

For months, Manning’s defense team has demanded access to reports by government agencies, including the CIA, that assessed the effect of the leak of classified documents to the WikiLeaks website.

Manning is accused of passing on a massive trove of files to WikiLeaks but his lawyers believe the reports will show the alleged disclosures had no major effect on the country’s national security.


Judge Denise Lind ruled that government prosecutors must provide “damage assessment” reports from the CIA, the State Department, the FBI, the Office of the National Counterintelligence
Executive (Oncix) and other documents that were relevant for the defense.

The judge, agreeing with a request from Manning’s lawyers, also ordered the prosecution to give a detailed account showing it had met legal obligations to share all pertinent evidence with the defense.

In a statement of “due diligence,” the prosecutors would have to show what documents they had obtained and why any files were not shared with the defense.

The judge imposed a deadline of July 25 on the prosecutors but indicated she would be willing to give the prosecution more time to produce the statement. Defense lawyers would also have a chance to request more time to review any new evidence that was passed on.

Manning’s civilian lawyer, David Coombs, had argued earlier Monday that government prosecutors had displayed a “pattern” of obstruction on document requests that “should cause alarm to the court.”

Activists for Manning who attended the hearing at Fort Meade, northeast of Washington, welcomed the decision.

Full Article Here – http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5gat_yPBw1ftIBd0TQIsGoEuPJ5Tg?docId=CNG.e2dddb0ced039a6ca22b2d8bbfecc90d.991

Lulzsec: UK men plead guilty to hacking charges

BBC News
June 25, 2012

Two members of the computer hacking group Lulzsec have pleaded guilty to charges they attacked several high-profile websites.

Ryan Cleary, 19, and Jake Davis, 18, admitted being part of Lulzsec, an offshoot of the Anonymous collective.

They and two others – Ryan Ackroyd, 25, and a 17-year-old boy – deny other similar hacking charges.

Lulzsec claimed responsibility for attacking the UK’s Serious Organised Crime Agency (Soca) website.

Mr Cleary, from Essex; Mr Davis, from the Shetland Isles; Mr Ackroyd from South Yorkshire and the unnamed 17-year-old will all face trial in April 2013.


Splinter group

Mr Cleary also faces charges in the US, where he stands accused of breaking into a number of websites, including that of the US X Factor, in order to deface them and steal personal details.

Full Article Here – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-18577609 

Austin Man Facing 10 Years in Prison After Photographing Cops Making Arrest

Pixiq
June 24, 2012
By Carlos Miller 

It was just after midnight on New Year’s Day when Antonio Buehler spotted a pair of Austin cops manhandling a woman at a gas station during a DUI investigation, so he pulled out his cell phone and began taking photos.

That, of course, prompted one of the cops to storm up to him and accuse him of interfering with the investigation.

Austin police officer Pat Oborski shoved Buehler against his truck before handcuffing him. He later claimed in his arrest report that Buehler had spit in his face.

Buehler was charged with resisting arrest and felony harassment on a public servant, the latter punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

After spending 16 hours in jail, Buehler began seeking witnesses to the incident.

“We started posting flyers around the gas station,” Buehler said in an interview with Photography is Not a Crime Sunday afternoon.

Full Article Here – http://www.pixiq.com/article/austin-man-facing-10-years-in-prison

Bradley Manning lawyers accuse prosecutors of misleading judge

Guardian
June 24, 2012
By

The US government is deliberately attempting to prevent Bradley Manning, the alleged source of the massive WikiLeaks trove of state secrets, from receiving a fair trial, the soldier’s lawyer alleges in new court documents.

David Coombs, Manning’s civilian lawyer, has made his strongest accusations yet about the conduct of the military prosecutors. In motions filed with the military court ahead of a pre-trial hearing at Fort Meade, Maryland, on Monday, he goes so far as to accuse the government in essence of lying to the court.

Coombs charges the prosecutors with making “an outright misrepresentation” to the court over evidence the defence has been trying for months to gain access to through disclosure.

The dispute relates to an investigation by the Office of the National Counterintelligence Executive, Oncix, into the damage caused by the WikiLeaks disclosures of hundreds of thousands of confidential documents.


Reports by the Associated Press, Reuters and other news outlets have suggested that official inquiries into the impact of WikiLeaks concluded that the leaks caused some “pockets” of short-term damage around the world, but that generally its impact had been embarrassing rather than harmful.

Such a finding could prove invaluable to the defence in fighting some of the charges facing Manning or, should he be found guilty, reducing his sentence.

Yet Coombs says the army prosecutors have consistently kept him, and the court, in the dark, thwarting his legal rights to see the evidence.

“It was abundantly clear that Oncix had some form of inquiry into the harm from the leaks – but the government switched definitions around arbitrarily so as to avoid disclosing this discovery to the defence.”

On 21 March, the prosecutors told the court that “Oncix has not produced any interim or final damage assessment” into WikiLeaks.

Coombs alleges that this statement was inaccurate – and the government knew it to be inaccurate at the time it made it.

“The defense submits [this] was an outright misrepresentation,” he writes.

On 20 April, the government told the court that “Oncix does not have any forensic results or investigative files”. Yet a week before that, the prosecutors had handed to the defence documents that clearly showed Oncix had begun to investigate WikiLeaks almost 18 months previously.

“Oncix was collecting information from various agencies in late 2010 to assess what damage, if any, was occasioned by the leaks. So how could it be that Oncix neither had an investigation nor a damage assessment?” Coombs writes.

Full Article Here – http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/jun/24/bradley-manning-lawyers-accuse-prosecutors 

Protest in Tahrir as Egypt waits for president

Reuters
June 22, 2012


(Reuters) – Egyptians packed Tahrir Square in Cairo through the night on Saturday, waving flags and chanting for the end of military rule as they waited to know the name of the first president they have been free to choose.

After a week of drama, in which the Muslim Brotherhood’s hopes of victory in the presidential election were soured by the army dissolving the Islamist-led parliament and decreeing tight limits on the new head of state’s powers, there was anxiety on the streets, but also some hope a compromise could be found.

With the electoral commission still not promising to give a result of last weekend’s presidential run-off before Sunday, senior figures on the ruling military council and among their old enemies in the Brotherhood told Reuters they had already held talks about future constitutional arrangements this week.


In Tahrir Square, where demonstrators faced down Hosni Mubarak’s police state during last year’s Arab Spring and forced him from power, thousands of mainly Islamist protesters have gathered in growing numbers for several days. They were determined to see the army that pushed Mubarak aside make good on its promise to hand over to civilian government by July.

“Say it without fear, the army must leave,” they chanted among hundreds of fluttering flags carrying Egypt’s red, white and black colors. “Down, down with military rule!”

The ruling military body, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), made clear, however, it was not about to accede to their demands, which include reversing the dissolution of parliament and cancelling a decree by which it took legislative power for itself until a new constitution is in place.

But both sides recall the bloodshed that ravaged another North African state, Algeria, when military rulers thwarted an Islamist movement’s triumph at the ballot box in the 1990s, and appear willing to renew the tentative cooperation they built up after Mubarak’s overthrow and step back from an outright clash.

Full Article Here – http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/06/23/us-egypt-election-idUSBRE85G01U20120623