FIFA ‘strongly advised’ to implement report’s advice on reform

Owen Gibson reports for The Guardian:

Sepp Blatter has been handed the final report of an independent governance committee on Fifa reformThe final report of an independent governance committee set up to advise Fifa in the wake of a series of scandals has “strongly advised” world football’s governing body to carry out seven outstanding recommendations for fundamental reform if it is to regain its credibility. The report also warned that Fifa’s reputation wrested on resolving outstanding allegations about the vote to award the 2018 World Cup to Russia and the 2022 tournament to Qatar and said the reform process risked being hijacked by “vested interests”. The independent governance committee, overseen by professor Mark Pieth, was set up by the Fifa president Sepp Blatter in 2011 as part of his “road map” for reforming the organisation in the wake of an avalanche of corruption allegations.


The Inevitable Connection Between Artificial Intelligence and Surveillance

Alexis C. Madrigal at The Atlantic presents five links on how artificial intelligence and surveillance will evolve and become connected:

1. Surveillance by artificial intelligence… how else did we think law enforcement would process all that video footage?

“Artificial intelligence is already in use across surveillance networks around the world. At high security sites like prisons, nuclear facilities or government agencies, it’s commonplace for security systems to set up a number of rules-based alerts for their video analytics. So if an object on the screen (a person, or a car, for instance) crosses a designated part of the scene, an alert is passed on to the human operator. The operator surveys the footage, and works out if further action needs to be taken… BRS Labs’ AISight is different because it doesn’t rely on a human programmer to tell it what behaviour is suspicious. It learns that all by itself.”


#TrackoftheDay ~ National Shite Day by Half Man Half Biscuit (2008)

The mentality of J Edgar Hoover’s FBI undergirds today’s surveillance state

Trevor Timm writes for The Guardian:

The new documentary 1971, about the formerly anonymous FBI burglars who exposed the crimes of former FBI director J. Edgar Hoover, debuted to a rapt audience at the Tribeca film festival last night. As the filmmakers noted in an interview with the AP, the parallels between Nixon-era FBI whistleblowers and Edward Snowden’s NSA revelations are almost eerie in their similarity. But while the NSA connection seems obvious, the movie will actually shed light on the domestic intelligence agency with far more power over ordinary Americans: the modern FBI.

Everyone seems to forget that the FBI is the NSA’s primary partner in the latter’s domestic spying operations and that, in fact, the NSA’s job would be impossible without them. Whenever you see a company deny giving any data to the NSA remember: It’s because it’s not the NSA asking (or demanding) the information of them, it’s the FBI. They use the same Patriot Act authorities that the NSA does, and yet we have almost no idea what they do with it. In fact, the FBI has gone to extreme lengths to just keep their surveillance methods a secret from the public, just like the NSA. And the more we learn, the scarier it gets.


HMRC to sell taxpayers’ financial data

Rowena Mason reports for The Guardian:

HMRC on screenThe personal financial data of millions of taxpayers could be sold to private firms under laws being drawn up by HM Revenue & Customs in a move branded “dangerous” by tax professionals and “borderline insane” by a senior Conservative MP. Despite fears that it could jeopardise the principle of taxpayer confidentiality, the legislation would allow HMRC to release anonymised tax data to third parties including companies, researchers and public bodies where there is a public benefit. According to HMRC documents, officials are examining “charging options”.

The government insists that there will be suitable safeguards on personal data. But the plans, being overseen by the Treasury minister David Gauke, are likely to provoke serious worries among privacy campaigners and MPs in the wake of public concern about the government’s scheme – a plan to share “anonymised” medical records with third parties. The initiative has now been suspended for six months over fears that people could be identified from the supposedly anonymous data, which turned out to contain postcodes, dates of birth, NHS numbers, ethnicity and gender.


Poverty has been rebranded as personal failure

Frances Ryan writes for The Guardian:

Photograph: Sarah LeeI was struck looking at The Mirror’s now famous crying, hungry child front page, not only by the poignancy of the image, but its contrast to another headline a few days earlier. A smiling woman looked out from The Daily Mail; a holiday snap of a “benefit cheat“, the headline a gleeful breakdown of the thousands she had falsely claimed in disability allowance. I wonder how bad things must get before a disabled face makes it to the front pages as a symbol, not of the handful of dishonest people, but of the hundreds of thousands who are now malnourished, cold and unable to pay their rent.

Disabled people in this country are twice as likely to live in poverty. The reality of having vast extra living costs or being too ill to work is not an excuse for government, but a damning indictment of its failure. The coalition government has compounded disadvantage. Policies such as the bedroom tax and council tax cuts have, almost wilfully, increased inequality. Each policy change imposed on disabled or chronically ill people has been a cut – a slash to support, or punitive, flawed hoops to jump through – dressed up as reform.


Poll: A ‘third of UK adults struggle’ to afford healthy food

From BBC News:


High food prices mean a third of UK adults are struggling to afford to eat healthily, warns a charity. The British Heart Foundation, which polled 2,444 adults, found 39% sacrificed health benefits for cost when doing their grocery shopping. One in four said they hadn’t bought a single portion of fresh fruit or vegetables in the last week.

Two thirds said they wanted to eat more healthily, but nearly half of these said cost was a hindrance. The British Heart Foundation says people can still eat healthily on a small budget. But it is concerned that some people are turning to cheap convenience foods instead.


A&E data shows violent crime in England and Wales continues to fall

Dominic Casciani reports for BBC News:

Data from the Cardiff University study on violent crime, showing a drop in hospital visits

Violent crime is continuing a long-term fall in England and Wales, according to annual figures from NHS hospitals. There was a 12% fall in injuries from violent incidents in 2013, according to data from almost a third of emergency departments examined by Cardiff University. It found 235,000 people were treated following a violent attack in 2013 – 32,800 fewer than in the previous year.

The authors said the rising cost of alcohol might have played a role. They also said the figures mirrored other crime data. The 12% fall is the fifth consecutive year that NHS units have recorded a decrease in violent injuries.


U.S. Ordered to Release Memo in Awlaki Killing

Benjamin Weiser reports for The New York Times:

A federal appeals panel in Manhattan ordered the release on Monday of key portions of a classified Justice Department memorandum that provided the legal justification for the targeted killing of a United States citizen, Anwar al-Awlaki, who intelligence officials contend had joined Al Qaeda and died in a 2011 drone strike in Yemen. The unanimous three-judge panel, reversing a lower court decision, said the government had waived its right to keep the analysis secret in light of numerous public statements by administration officials and the Justice Department’s release of a “white paper” offering a detailed analysis of why targeted killings were legal.

“Whatever protection the legal analysis might once have had,” Judge Jon O. Newman wrote for the panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, “has been lost by virtue of public statements of public officials at the highest levels and official disclosure of the D.O.J. White Paper.” The ruling stemmed from lawsuits filed under the Freedom of Information Act by The New York Times and two of its reporters, Charlie Savage and Scott Shane, and by the American Civil Liberties Union. The decision reversed a January 2013 ruling by Judge Colleen McMahon of Federal District Court, who had expressed her own doubts about the legality of the targeted killings program and the secrecy cloaking it, but concluded that the government had not violated the law in refusing to turn over the materials sought in the requests.


The Drone King’s Massacre in Yemen

Abby Martin reports on a wave of US drone strikes that killed as many as 55 people in Yemen, marking one of the deadliest weekends since the advent of drones, and also on a federal court’s ruling to disclose aspects of a classified memo detailing the legal justification for assassination of US citizen Anwar al Awlaki by way of drone strike.’ (Breaking the Set)

Lord Morris, Tony Blair’s former Attorney General says it’s time to stop hiding the truth about why we went to war in Iraq

It’s been almost four and a half years since the inquiry was launched into why we went to war in Iraq. And it has been two years since Sir John Chilcot was due to deliver the results. But so far we’ve heard nothing from this £7.5 million investigation.

Just last week Nick Clegg, the Deputy Prime Minister of the Coalition government hinted that former Prime Minister Tony Blair had been delaying its publication. Lord Morris, the former Labour MP and Attorney General who served in the Blair’s Government from 1997-1999, is calling for its immediate publication.


Tony Blair urges British intervention against Islamic extremists around the world

Oliver Wright reports for The Independent:

Tony Blair will call on Britain today to back “revolution” against anti-Western interests in the Middle East and beyond to combat the growing threat of radical Islam. In a significant and controversial intervention, the former Prime Minister will suggest that, as a result of failures in Iraq and Afghanistan, governments in Europe and America have become “curiously reluctant to acknowledge” Islamic extremism. This unwillingness to confront Islamism risks the 21st century being characterised by “conflict between people of different cultures”, he will warn.

Mr Blair will also call for Europe and America to put aside their differences with Russia and China and “co-operate” to fight what he describes as the “radicalised and politicised view of Islam” that is threatening their collective interests. Mr Blair is due to make his remarks in a speech in London. But despite carrying significance because of his role as Middle East peace envoy they are unlikely to be well received in Downing Street or Washington.


4 Years After BP Disaster, Ousted Drilling Chief Warns U.S. at Risk of Another Oil Spill

‘Four years after BP’s Deepwater Horizon drilling platform exploded and killed 11 workers, causing more than 200 million gallons of oil to spew into the Gulf of Mexico, the Environmental Protection Agency has lifted a ban that excluded BP from new federal contracts. In a broadcast exclusive, we speak with Elizabeth Birnbaum, who was director of the Minerals Management Service in the Interior Department at the time of the Deepwater Horizon blowout. She was forced out soon after. In her first broadcast interview since her departure, Birnbaum warns the risk of another offshore oil drilling blowout is real. We are also joined by Jaclyn Lopez, staff attorney for the Center for Biological Diversity.’ (Democracy Now!)

Spain’s ‘Robin Hood’ takes from the banks and gives to the disenfranchised

From The Guardian:

Statue of Robin Hood, East Midlands on ShutterstockThey call him the Robin Hood of the banks, a man who took out dozens of loans worth almost half a million euros with no intention of ever paying them back. Instead, Enric Duran farmed the money out to projects that created and promoted alternatives to capitalism.

After 14 months in hiding, Duran is unapologetic even though his activities could land him in jail. “I’m proud of this action,” he said in an interview by Skype from an undisclosed location. The money, he said, had created opportunities. “It generated a movement that allowed us to push forward with the construction of alternatives. And it allowed us to build a powerful network that groups together these initiatives.”


Rupert Murdoch’s Sunday Times Double Page Spread on the ‘Rise of the New Russian Empire’

Of course, there are lies coming from both sides. This has virtually always been the case during wartime, whether it’s actual physical war or psychological like the media war that we’re currently experiencing.  While here in the West we’ve have heard plenty about the manipulative ways of Russia Today, the pictures below from Rupert Murdoch’s Sunday Times are a fine example of how the propaganda machine in the West operates.

There has also been a lot more Neo-Cons on U.S. news channels than usual in recent weeks and months. Often they’ve been touted as ‘Russia experts’.  Here’s Leon Aron from the American Enterprise Institute on CNN as just one recent example.

No wonder the credibility of the media is shrinking all the time. How can we take them seriously when they pump out such utter rubbish like the double page spread below and run to war mongering Neo-Cons for ‘expert’ opinions.  It would be hilarious if the situation wasn’t potentially so dangerous with these maniacs stoking the fire of war.

Hat tip to Media Lens for posting this on their Facebook page.

Glenn Greenwald interviewed on CNN about the Pulitzer Prize, returning to the US and his upcoming book

Furious Crowd In Eastern Chinese City Attacks Urban Officials

Lu Chen reports for The Epoch Times:

Nearly 1,000 outraged Chinese besieged a group of urban management officials in an eastern city on Saturday, smashing their vehicle with bricks and windows, beating them bloody and unconscious, and then flipping over the ambulance that came to provide medical treatment.  It was a dramatic and violent reversal to the usual order of events when notorious urban officials, called chengguan in Chinese, get into conflicts with street vendors and pedestrians. Though their official job is to enforce local street ordinances, chengguan have gained a reputation for their arbitrary brutality across China over the years.

On April 19, a group of chengguan in Cangnan county, part of Wenzhou City in Zhejiang Province, were seen to be bullying a street vendor. A passerby, 36 year-old Mr. Huang, began taking pictures of the encounter with his cell phone. One of the officials told him to delete the pictures. He refused. A flurry of abuse, kicks, and punches followed.  The crowd saw Mr. Huang being attacked, and decided to intervene. Online rumours then rapidly proliferated that “someone was beaten to death by chengguan,” which intensified public anger and drove more people to the scene, according to the Chinese newspaper Southern Metropolis Daily.

When the chengguan attempted to hightail it out of the crowd in their van, they were surrounded. Angry onlookers deflated the van’s tires, while others smashed windows and doors with bricks, rocks, and wooden sticks. The men were dragged out of the van and beaten senseless by the mob.  Photographs posted to Chinese social media websites show chengguan lying limp and unconscious on the street in a pool of their own blood. Rocks and broken glass litter their van.


Chicago police face overwhelming gun crime as 45 people shot over weekend

Jon Swaine reports for The Guardian:

Photograph: Jim Young/ReutersA senior Chicago police officer said that parts of the city are being overwhelmed by gun violence, after a weekend in which nine people were shot dead and at least 36 – including six children – were wounded. Ronald Holt, the commander of the Chicago police department’s special activities division, said that the city was witnessing “fratricide” among young men who had come to believe “that the only way to resolve a conflict is to get a gun and go shoot to kill”.

“To tackle gun violence where it is overwhelming communities with the extraordinary loss of lives at an alarming pace, we must deal with it as a social disease and health issue,” Holt, whose 17-year-old son Blair was shot dead on a bus in 2007, told the Guardian in an email. His remarks came as Chicago suffered its bloodiest weekend of the year. Dozens of residents were shot in a series of separate incidents. On the city’s south side, five children aged between 11 and 15 were shot while walking home from a park on Sunday evening.


Egypt election panel: Sisi, former MP only candidates in presidential poll

From Reuters:

The former army general who toppled Egypt’s first freely elected president will face a leftist politician in next month’s presidential election, as they were the only candidates to enter before nominations closed, the committee organizing the vote said.

The committee had received paperwork from former army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and former parliamentarian and presidential candidate Hamdeen Sabahi, it said at a news conference on Sunday, several hours after the deadline had passed.

The elections will be held in a barren political climate after the 2011 uprising that toppled autocrat Hosni Mubarak raised hopes of a robust democracy in the biggest Arab nation. Neither candidate has outlined a strategy for tackling poverty, energy shortages and unemployment that afflict many of Egypt’s 85 million people.


Iran President Rouhani urges equal rights for women

From BBC News:

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani (second right) at a forum to mark Women's Day in Iran, 20 April 2014Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has urged equal opportunities and rights for men and women, and condemned sexual discrimination. In a speech marking Women’s Day, Mr Rouhani criticised “those who consider women’s presence society as a threat” and said Iran still had “a long way to go” to ensure gender equality. Mr Rouhani, a religious moderate, was elected to office in June 2013. Foreign activist groups argue that Iran’s laws discriminate against women.

Speaking on Sunday at the National Forum on Women Shaping Economy and Culture in Tehran, Mr Rouhani said: “We will not accept the culture of sexual discrimination.”  “Women must enjoy equal opportunity, equal protection and equal social rights,” he said in comments that were broadcast live on television. “According to the Islamic rules, man is not the stronger sex and woman is not the weaker one,” he said.


Did Hillary Clinton give a speech at the Bilderberg conference in 1997?

Newly released internal documents from the Clinton White House appear to show that Hillary Clinton gave a speech at a meeting of the secretive Bilderberg conference in 1997.  The meeting that year was held at the PineIsle Resort in Atlanta, U.S.A. from June 12-15.  This was during the time when her husband Bill Clinton was serving his second term as President, himself also an attendee at the conference in 1991.   Hillary’s attendance is revealed in internal emails between national security aides.  The documents show that Hillary’s speech appeared to cover serious foreign policy issues, including “a strong endorsement of immediate NATO membership for the Baltics.” Sadly, nothing else is revealed besides that snippet.

According to the 1997 attendee list compiled by Public Intelligence, Hillary was not there that year.  Although certain guests, whose public profiles could be considered too high, have been kept off the official guest list in order to avoid any unwanted or extra media attention.  In the past there has been speculation that Hillary attended the meeting in 2006 in Ottawa, Canada and in 2008 in Chantilly, Virginia.  The 2008 meeting in Virginia famously involved the disappearance of both Hillary and Obama for a ‘secret meeting’ at the same time Bilderberg was taking place.  This inevitably led to theories circulating that both of them had been at Bilderberg.  Although Vernon Jordan, a former Steering Committee member and the man who introduced Bill Clinton to Bilderberg, has denied that Obama ever attended. These internal emails are the first official confirmation that Hillary has attended Bilderberg.

Bilderberg 2013: Hertfordshire taxpayers hit with remaining £528,000 policing bill

Charlotte Ikonen reports for the Watford Observer:

The remaining cost of policing the Bilderberg Group meeting in Watford will be paid by Hertfordshire tax payers after an application for a grant has been refused by the Home Office. The controversial conference which took place in June 2013 attracted more than 2,000 people to The Grove Hotel and policing the event cost about £990,000. Scores of officers from a dozen forces were drafted in for the event, which involved roads being closed with anti-terror legislation and a no-fly zone being imposed over the area.

The Bilderberg Group had made a donation of £462,000 and Hertfordshire Police applied to the Home Office for the remaining £528,000. However, the cost of policing the event fell short of the one per cent threshold (£1.8 million) and was not assessed as bearing a risk to the force’s financial stability or capacity to deliver policing. Hertfordshire Police and crime commissioner David Lloyd previously said the money would come from reserve and he was “disappointed” to have the application refused by the Home Office.


Hillary 2016? Boeing Tries to Buy the White House

#TrackoftheDay ~ Up In The Sky by Oasis (1994)

Police called to deal with girls building den in woods

From I Acknowledge:

A005On Easter Sunday, police were called to deal with children committing the appallingly anti-social act of building a den in a wooded area near their Northumbrian home. The group of girls were busy making their tree house in Warkworth Woods when local dog walkers called police reporting children ‘dragging wood into the wood’.  Police arrived on the scene and the children were stopped in their tracks.  A mother of one of the children involved has spoken to the media in protest at the ridiculous over reaction – saying it underscores the growing trend to criminalise childhood itself.

[...] Just days before the incident, a bunch of boys had been ordered to tear down a tree house built over the holiday period. The mother, a local primary school teacher, has gained support from her local MP Chi Onwurah, who warns against the demonisation’ of children.  The pair have a very good point. While we’re all used to the newest crop of human beings being denigrated by their elders ‘Oh they’re not like we were in our day’, and ‘no respect!’ etcetera – this latest batch of tiny people are facing the criminalisation of the act of being a child. Their freedom to play in any public space is restrained, by law, in a way unheard of by any living generation.


Cops Being C**ts: Officer kicks, trips, and shoves high school students celebrating at soccer match

Recent Yemen drone strikes part of a “massive and unprecedented” operation against al-Qaeda

Mohammed Jamjoom reports for CNN:

An operation targeting al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula is under way in Abyan and Shabwa, Yemen, a high-level Yemeni government official who is being briefed on the strikes told CNN on Monday. The official said that the scale of the strikes against AQAP is “massive and unprecedented” and that at least 30 militants have been killed. The operation involved Yemeni commandos who are now “going after high-level AQAP targets,” the official said.

A day earlier, suspected drone strikes targeted al Qaeda fighters in Yemen for the second time in two days, killing “at least a dozen,” the government official said. The predawn strikes targeted a mountain ridge in the southern province of Abyan, the official said. It’s the same area where scores of followers of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula had gathered recently to hear from Nasir al-Wuhayshi, the head of the terrorist network’s Yemeni branch and the global organization’s “crown prince,” the official said.


Former Drone Operators Reveal Air Force Plays Key Role in Secret CIA Assassination Campaign In New Documentary

‘A new documentary film reveals how a regular U.S. air force unit based in the Nevada desert is responsible for flying the CIA’s drone strike program in Pakistan. “Drone” identifies the unit conducting CIA strikes in Pakistan’s tribal areas as the 17th Reconnaissance Squadron, which is located on the Creech air force base, about 45 miles from Las Vegas. We are joined by the film’s director, Tonje Schei, and Chris Woods, an award-winning reporter who investigates drone warfare. Woods is featured in “Drone” and is working on a forthcoming book on U.S. drone warfare.’ (Democracy Now!)

Here’s What Drone Attacks in America Would Look Like

Pete Brook reports for Wired:

Photo: Tomas van Houtryve/VII. “Baseball practice in Montgomery County, Maryland. According to records obtained from the FAA, which issued 1,428 domestic drone permits between 2007 and early 2013, the National Institute of Standards and Technology and the U.S. Navy have applied for drone authorization in Montgomery County."If U.S. citizens knew how it felt to be targeted by deadly flying robots, it might shape domestic attitudes toward the Obama administration’s drone program. Artist Tomas Van Houtryve is using video and photography to foster that discussion by putting average Americans under drone-like surveillance. “The drone has become the preferred tool of the ‘War on Terror,’” says Van Houtryve. “We live in the most media-connected age ever, and yet the American public has no visual narrative of the drone war. This is a secret war, making it easier to push to the back of our minds or only think about in abstract terms.”

To make the abstract real with his series Blue Sky Days, Van Houtryve mounted his DSLR on a quadcopter he bought online. He flew it over weddings, funerals, groups in prayer, and people exercising in public places—circumstances in which people have been killed by U.S. drone strikes abroad. “We’re told that the drone program saves American lives, and that civilian casualties are avoided with the surgical precision [of the technology]. The former claim is true, the latter is seriously in doubt,” says Van Houtryve.


DARPA seeks bottom-dwelling ocean attack bots

Sean Gallagher reports for Ars Technica:

When trouble’s brewing at sea and there’s no nearby friendly airbase or port, it could take weeks for US Navy ships and aircraft to show up to protect shipping and keep the enemy at bay. So the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is looking to give the US Navy a new way to get to the scene almost immediately, popping up near, behind, or even in the midst of an enemy fleet, using robotic pods that sit on the ocean floor and can release flying and floating drones to the surface to attack on command.

DARPA has requested bids this week for the final two phases of its Upward Falling Payloads (UFP) program—an effort to create pre-positioned unmanned systems that sit dormant on the sea floor, waiting for a command to rise to the surface and unleash (non-lethal) hell. Containing electronic and low-power laser attack systems, surveillance sensors, and even airborne and aquatic drones that act as decoys or provide intelligence and targeting information, the UFPs would have to survive for years at depth, waiting for a command.