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Radical Librarianship: how ninja librarians are ensuring patrons’ electronic privacy | boingboing

It’s no secret that libraries are among our most democratic institutions. Libraries provide access to information and protect patrons’ right to explore new ideas, no matter how controversial or subversive. Libraries are where all should be free to satisfy any information need, be it for tax and legal documents, health information, how-to guides, historical documents, children’s books, or poetry.

And protecting unfettered access to information is important whether that research is done using physical books or online search engines. But now it has become common knowledge that governments and corporations are tracking our digital lives, and that surveillance means our right to freely research information is in jeopardy. [Read more]

Finally, a chance to protect Americans from NSA : Column | USA Today

Fifteen months after Edward Snowden provided the first documents describing the startling scope of the National Security Agency’s spying program, Congress has returned from August recess with a chance to vote on surveillance reform. Unfortunately, if the surveillance vote doesn’t happen in the coming weeks, it might not happen at all.

Sen. Patrick Leahy’s reformed USA Freedom Act, a bill that would begin to rein in the NSA’s domestic surveillance program, is the best chance we have to make surveillance reform a reality in 2014. It has undergone multiple changes since it was first proposed a year ago. In its current compromise form, the bill still only begins to protect the many privacy rights that have been compromised by excessive surveillance. Nonetheless, if passed, it will be a crucial first step towards upholding Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable searches, while simultaneously reinforcing our counterterrorism efforts by making surveillance more strategic and evidence-based. [Read more]

Wife: NSA Official. Husband: Exec At Firm Seeming To Do Or Seek Business With NSA | BuzzFeed

A large government contracting firm that appears to be doing or seeking business with the National Security Agency employs the spouse of one of the most powerful officials at the agency, according to corporate records, press releases, and company websites. But the NSA has declined to address whether there is a potential conflict of interest or to disclose any information about contracts or the official’s financial holdings.

The spouse, for years, has also had an intelligence technology company incorporated at the couple’s suburban residence in Maryland. [Read more]

Did the NSA Demand Apple’s Data? | US News

People rushed to buy Apple’s new iPhone 6 Friday, but the company may have dropped a privacy warning that the National Security Agency wants information about its users.

Apple CEO Tim Cook announced an updated privacy policy this week to reassure people about the company’s security and vigilance. But the company’s latest transparency report is missing language from previous versions that Internet freedom activists recognized as a clue about NSA spying. [Read more]

Spying and storing: Assange says ‘Google works like NSA’ | RT

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange equated Google with the National Security Agency and GCHQ, saying the tech giant has become “a privatized version of the NSA,” as it collects, stores, and indexes people’s data. He made his remarks to BBC and Sky News.

“Google’s business model is the spy. It makes more than 80 percent of its money by collecting information about people, pooling it together, storing it, indexing it, building profiles of people to predict their interests and behavior, and then selling those profiles principally to advertisers, but also others,” Assange told BBC. [Read more]

NSA chief has regrets on ISIS intelligence collection | CBS

National Security Agency (NSA) Director Adm. Mike Rogers said Thursday that his agency’s collection of intelligence on the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS, also known as ISIL) could have been “stronger.”

“If I’m honest with myself, I wish the transition of ISIL from an insurgency to an organization that was now focused on holding ground, territory, the mechanism of governance….in hindsight I wish we had been a little bit – I’ll only speak for me and the NSA – I wish we’d been a little stronger about,” he said. [Read more]

Journalists ‘should not be exempt’ from national security rules | The Guardian

A committee reviewing changes to Australia’s national security laws has rejected calls for journalists to be exempt from a new measure criminalising disclosure of “special intelligence operations”.

But the parliamentary joint committee on intelligence and security recommended changes to the Abbott government’s bill, including greater oversight of such operations and written confirmation that the director of public prosecution must take into account the public interest in publication. [Read more]


Related Articles – Michael’s Blog

U.S. Falling Into the Islamic State’s Trap | The Intercept

There are many reasons the U.S. shouldn’t go to war with the Islamic State — and the best one may be because that is exactly what they want us to do.

A growing number of people I consider experts in the field believe that the recent beheadings of two American journalists and a British aid worker were deliberate acts of provocation, and that ISIS is not just hoping for an American overreaction, but depending on it — perhaps even for its own survival.

Ali Soufan, the former FBI agent who was one of the few heroes of modern American counter-terrorism, tells Mehdi Hasan of the Huffington Post UK: [Read more]

Leaked dossier shows Egypt’s links to Libya | Al Jazeera

The message emerging from the Madrid conference held on Wednesday to discuss the Libyan crisis was clear: Foreign military intervention will not restore stability in Libya. Foreign intervention, said Libyan Foreign Minister Mohamed Abdulaziz in a press statement following the talks, “has always led to disaster”.

However, a leaked document obtained by Al Jazeera this week demonstrates the extent to which the country has turned into a proxy battleground for larger regional rivalries.

Libya’s increasingly polarised political scene, according to analysts, has reinforced this perception. The country has two competing governments which were both sworn in this month. In Tripoli, the country’s reconvened General National Congress refuses to accept the legitimacy of the elected House of Representatives in the eastern city of Tobruk, which in turn rejects the authority of its counterpart in the country’s capital. [Read more]

Army chief of staff says U.S. may need more troops in Iraq | Washington Post

Gen. Ray Odierno, the Army chief of staff, said Friday it might be necessary to deploy more U.S. forces to Iraq beyond the 1,600 troops already there, warning that the fight against the Islamic State will intensify and could go on for years.

Odierno, who served as the top U.S. military commander during the last war in Iraq, also said he would not rule out the need to send small numbers of U.S. ground troops into combat as tactical airstrike spotters or as front-line advisers embedded with Iraq forces. [Read more]

What Will U.S. Forces Do With ISIS Prisoners? | Newsweek

Washington’s ramped up war on the Islamic State looks like an airliner lifting off the runway with mechanics still working on the wings.

Among the many unresolved issues in the campaign to “degrade and destroy” ISIS, as it’s generally known, is what to do with prisoners in Iraq or Syria, should American special operators or U.S.-backed forces be lucky enough to capture any. How deeply will we be involved in interrogating them? Will we stand by as our “moderate” Syrian rebels and our Iraqis “partners,” as the administration now calls them, go to work on prisoners? Where will detainees be held, and for how long? How will we enforce our newly embraced ban on torture, when the Iraqi security forces we’re advising employ mutilation and murder as a matter of course?

To say all this is a work-in-progress is an understatement. [Read more]

Third mystery airstrike in Libya after ‘state of emergency’ announced | Middle East Eye

A  third mystery airstrike targeted an ammunition store held by Libya Dawn militias on Thursday night.

It was unclear whether the strike, which threw huge palls of smoke into the skies above the suburb just north of central Tripoli in western Libya, caused any casualties among militants or civilians in the residential area surrounding the ammunition store. [Read more]

Al-Sisi Ascendant | The Economist

WHEN he addresses the UN General Assembly on September 25th, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi will surely have reason to feel pleased. The former field-marshal’s first 100 days as president, following a strong electoral win in June, have brought economic and diplomatic advances as well as hope to Egyptians wearied by years of political turmoil. Yet the health of the most populous Arab state remains fragile. Full recovery will take more time and less of a few things, not least reliance on heavy-handed police to silence dissent.

Mr Sisi can take credit for some good first steps. Successive Egyptian governments have shied from tackling ruinously large energy subsidies. But in July Mr Sisi’s cabinet raised fuel prices, which will both restrain galloping consumption and trim the government’s budget deficit, running perilously above 11% of GDP. [Read more]


Thousands of exhausted Syrian refugees who fled from Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) militants entered Turkey after security forces opened the gates in the southeastern Turkish city of Şanlıurfa on Friday afternoon. “We will take in our brothers fleeing to Anatolia from Syria or any other place without any ethnic or sectarian discrimination.

We have taken in 4,000 brothers. The number might increase. Their needs will be met. This is a humanitarian mission,” Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu said during his visit to Azerbaijan. “As long as Turkey remains strong and has a capacity, it will help everyone seeking refuge.” [Read more]


Related Articles – Michael’s Blog

The first body we had to bury was at a village called Gbanyawalu. When the corpse was turned over on his back for swabbing, it took in a breath — like somebody who has suffered from suffocation and was gasping for air. We nearly ran out. Even the World Health Organization worker was not expecting such a reaction from a corpse that was there three days before our arrival.

On July 10, I was called into the office of Constant Kargbo, under-secretary general of Disease Management Programmes and Operations for Sierra Leone’s Red Cross Society. He said to me: “My man, I want to send you to Kailahun for dead body management. Will you go?” I took about five minutes to think on it.

I joined the Red Cross when I was a child to work for humanity and to alleviate the suffering of the most vulnerable. I said, “I am from Kailahun. I must go to save my people.” [Read more]


Related Articles – Michael’s Blog

The White House and senior members of the Obama administration have been trying to convince Congress all week that, legally speaking, there’s no difference between ISIS and al Qaeda. But at the same time—and, often, in the very same classified briefings—members of the U.S. intelligence community are telling lawmakers that the two Islamic radical groups aren’t in cahoots at all. In fact, they’re competitors for supremacy in the global jihadist movement.

The Senate and the House this week voted to give President Obama the authority to allow the military to begin training members of the Syrian opposition. It was a victory for a president who has chosen not to ask Congress pass a law to authorize this new war on ISIS, claiming instead that Congress supplied that authority in 2001 when it declared war on the parties responsible for 9/11. [Read more] – Michael’s Blog

In an unprecedented move, Attorney General Eric Holder has intervened in a defamation lawsuit, seeking to have the case thrown out on the grounds that it will reveal state secrets—without publicly explaining how it would do so. On Wednesday, a lawyer for the plaintiff in the case, a Greek business mogul accused of doing business with Iran, fired back at Holder in a letter to the court that essentially says: Prove it.

Dismissal of the lawsuit, which was filed in federal court in 2013, would be highly unusual. Neither party in the suit is connected to the government, and the Justice Department insists on keeping its interest in this case a mystery. In the past when the Justice Department has invoked state secrets, a high-ranking official has offered a public explanation to the court. But Holder asserts that in this case, he cannot discuss the Justice Department’s reasoning, nor the agency or information that the lawsuit might compromise. [Read more] – Michael’s Blog

On a clear morning this past February, the inmates in the B Yard of Pelican Bay State Prison filed out of their cellblock a few at a time and let a cool, salty breeze blow across their bodies. Their home, the California prison system’s permanent address for its most hardened gangsters, is in Crescent City, on the edge of a redwood forest—about four miles from the Pacific Ocean in one direction and 20 miles from the Oregon border in the other. This is their yard time.

Most of the inmates belong to one of California’s six main prison gangs: Nuestra Familia, the Mexican Mafia, the Aryan Brotherhood, the Black Guerrilla Family, the Northern Structure, or the Nazi Lowriders (the last two are offshoots of Nuestra Familia and the Aryan Brotherhood, respectively). The inmates interact like volatile chemicals: if you open their cells in such a way as to put, say, a lone member of Nuestra Familia in a crowd of Mexican Mafia, the mix can explode violently. So the guards release them in a careful order. [Read more] – Michael’s Blog

Bob McCulloch, the St. Louis prosecutor investigating the shooting death of Michael Brown, promises to release transcripts and audio of grand jury proceedings on two conditions: (1) the grand jury elects not to indict Darren Wilson, the white police officer who shot and killed the unarmed teenager in Ferguson, Missouri last month, and (2) McCulloch gets judicial permission to do so, the prosecutor’s spokesman confirmed to msnbc late Tuesday.

Meanwhile, protesters seeking justice in the wake of Brown’s death called for Wilson’s arrest at Tuesday night’s St. Louis County Council meeting. In a video posted by St. Louis Alderman Antonio French, attendees chanted in unison, “Arrest Darren Wilson! Arrest Darren Wilson!” [Read more]


Related Articles – Michael’s Blog

Saudi Arabia, UAE and other Arab nations could join US air strikes against Isis | The Independent

Middle Eastern countries including Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates could bomb the Islamic State (Isis) as part of an international coalition.

The US Secretary of State, John Kerry, has been touring the region to build a military coalition against the group, which now controls a third of Iraq and swathes of Syria.

An American official speaking in Paris, where the Foreign Secretary is among delegates from more than 30 countries and groups forming an international response to Isis, said several Arab countries had offered to join the US conducting air strikes. [Read more]

The Davutoglu I Know | War on the Rocks

Ahmet Davutoğlu, the new Turkish Prime Minister, is a memorable man for better or worse. I will never forget the first time I met him. It was 2003 and I was an impressionable Fulbright scholar studying in Ankara living in the college dorms of the Middle East Technical University. My closest Turkish friend, a fellow international relations researcher, invited me home to an iftar, or breaking of the fast, during Ramazan, which happened to coincide with Thanksgiving that year. As I missed my own family, my friend introduced me to his father, a founding member of the newly incumbent Justice and Development Party (AKP) and uncle, then-Foreign Minister Abdullah Gül, who later became President. As the only non-Turk at this traditional family celebration, everyone I talked to—including the two politicians—kept referring to “Ahmet Hocam” or “My Professor Ahmet” anytime I mentioned my interest in Turkish international relations. [Read more]

We Don’t Want to See Iran’s Full Monty | Foreign Policy

Not so long ago, the editors at Jezebel wrote a helpful guide for men entitled, “Should You Send a Lady a Dick Pic? A Guide for Men.”

As you might guess, the answer is always no. Yes, the ladies know you have one. She still doesn’t want to see it, OK?

I do not raise this issue in relation to scandals of late, but rather the issue of PMD or “possible military dimensions” — specifically, the possible military dimensions of Iran’s nuclear activities. You know, the secret nuclear weapons program. I sometimes hear my colleagues argue that Tehran has to come clean about its past nuclear weapons activities before we agree to any nuclear deal with Iran. [Read more]

Mideast complexities confound US coalition effort | Middle East Institute

The Middle East has confounded outsiders for years, so it is no surprise that another U.S.-led project with a straightforward goal — destroying a marauding organization of extremists — is bumping up against age-old rivalries and a nod-and-a-wink-style political culture.

U.S. secretary of state John Kerry has received backing for the principle of reversing the territorial gains of the Islamic State group in Iraq. But getting concrete assistance is another matter, and there is a whiff of lip service about the proceedings. [Read more]

Please—Let’s Not Destroy ISIS | The Daily Beast

Americans should support this mission against ISIS. One may well choose to do so warily, because, as I wrote in the wake of President Obama’s speech last week, it depends on a lot of uncontrollable variables (the Saudis behaving like good guys) against which odds are rather long. But a deeply fundamentalist nation-state in the Levant that is large and extremely wealthy would be an obvious disaster for the region and the United States a number of reasons. So we have to try to stop them.

But here’s something we’re not going to do, and I wish Obama and especially John Kerry would stop saying it. We are not going to “destroy” ISIS, to use the word Obama deployed in last week’s address (preceded by a marginally softening “ultimately”). The Islamic State will not be “crushed,” as John Kerry huffily put it in a recent tweet.  This is not possible. We all know this. We’ve been trying to destroy al Qaeda for 13 years now. We have not. We will not. And we will not destroy ISIS. We can’t destroy these outfits. They’re too nimble and slippery and amorphous, and everybody knows it. [Read more]

Yemen: Lethal Force Against Houthi Protesters | HRW

Yemeni authorities should immediately investigate the use of unnecessary lethal force against demonstrators in Sanaa on September 7 and 9, 2014. It should hold military personnel and other security forces found responsible to account. Altogether eight protesters and an ambulance driver were killed and at least 67 were wounded.

Houthis, a Zaidi Shi’a resistance group from northern Yemen, held demonstrations in Sanaa, the capital, to protest the government of President Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi. The heavy-handed response by state security forces resulted in apparently unnecessary loss of life and numerous injuries to the demonstrators, Human Rights Watch said. [Read more]


Related Articles – Michael’s Blog

So who’s worse when it comes to ignoring and denying science, the political left or the political right?

For a long time, those wishing to claim that both sides are equally bad—we’re all biased, just in different directions—have relied upon two key issues in making their case: vaccines and genetically modified foods, or GMOs. The suggestion is that these are basically the liberal equivalent of evolution denial or global-warming denial. Skeptic magazine founding publisher Michael Shermer, for instance, prominently cited resistance to GMOs in a Scientific American article last year entitled “The Liberals’ War on Science.” As for vaccines? In a recent segment entitled “An Outbreak of Liberal Idiocy,” no less than The Daily Show suggested that vaccine denial is a left-wing scourge: [Read more] – Michael’s Blog

Mike Brown jury gets extension, charges for Ferguson officer may be delayed until January | RT

A St. Louis judge has granted an extension to the grand jury that has been tasked with deciding whether to charge a Ferguson police officer in the fatal shooting of teenager Michael Brown. The jury now has until January 7 to decide on an indictment.

St. Louis County Judge Carolyn Whittington made the decision on Tuesday to extend the deadline, St. Louis County Director Paul Fox, reported CNN. The jury’s regular term was set to expire on Wednesday. [Read more]

Utah man accused of attacking police with samurai sword was shot in the back: autopsy | Raw Story

An African-American man,  shot to death by Utah police who claimed he attacked them with a samurai sword, was shot in the back, according to an independent autopsy requested by the man’s  family.

22-year-old Darrien Hunt, was shot and killed by police while walking around with the  souvenir martial arts weapon outside a convenience store in Saratoga Springs, Utah, last Wednesday. [Read more]

How Many Ways Can the City of Ferguson Slap You With Court Fees? We Counted | Mother Jones

Over 100 people showed up on Tuesday night at the first Ferguson City Council meeting since Michael Brown’s killing, and unreasonable court fees were a major complaint. Ferguson officials proposed scaling back the myriad ways small-time offenders can end up paying big bucks—or worse. Community activists are optimistic about the proposed changes, but as it turns out, imposing punitive court fines on poor residents is a major source of income for a number of St. Louis County municipalities.

How bad is the current system? Say you’re a low-income Ferguson resident who’s been hit with a municipal fine for rolling through a stop sign, driving without insurance, or neglecting to subscribe to the city’s trash collection service. A look at the municipal codes in Ferguson and nearby towns reveals how these fines and fees can quickly stack up. [Read more]

Black Actress Says She Was Simply ‘Showing Affection’ in Public to Her White Celebrity Chef Boyfriend — Then Police Made Their Entrance (UPDATE: New Audio Surfaces) | The Blaze

The white celebrity chef boyfriend of a black actress said the couple was detained by Los Angeles police based on an assumption that she was a prostitute and he was her client.

Daniele Watts, who played Coco in the Oscar-nominated “Django Unchained,” was handcuffed during the incident that her boyfriend Brian James Lucas — a.k.a. Cheffy Be*Live — videotaped and photographed, CNN added. [Read more]

Retrial begins for Detroit cop who killed 7-year-old in ‘Reality Show Shooting’ | RT

Jury selection began Monday in the retrial for a Michigan police officer accused of killing a 7-year-old girl during a 2010 raid on her house while being followed by a reality-TV camera crew. The cop is charged with involuntary manslaughter.

Joseph Weekley was charged with involuntary manslaughter for shooting Aiyana Stanley-Jones as she slept on a couch the night of May 16, 2010. Weekley was among a group of Detroit officers executing a search warrant on a home where they hoped to find a 17-year-old murder suspect. They threw a flash grenade inside the home hoping the bright light, smoke and vibrations would confuse the occupants before the officers entered. [Read more]


Related Articles – Michael’s Blog


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