A group of cybersecurity bills that the U.S. Congress may soon vote on contain serious privacy and civil liberties flaws, with some of the bills allowing private companies to share a wide range of their customers’ online communications with government agencies, the Center for Democracy and Technology said.
The U.S. House of Representatives could vote later this month on two bills focused on encouraging private companies and the government to share cyberthreat information with each other, even though there are major civil liberties concerns with one of the bills and some outstanding questions about the second, CDT officials said during a press briefing Wednesday.
The Senate may vote on information-sharing legislation in May, CDT officials said. CDT raised concerns about four information-sharing bills, all of which would provide legal protections for private companies that share cyberthreat information with government agencies.
“[If] you look at most of these bills closely, you’ll see that there are extraordinarily complex civil liberties problems in virtually every one of these bills,” said Leslie Harris, CDT’s president and CEO.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation has similar criticisms of the cybersecurity bills. Most of the information-sharing bills before Congress don’t clearly define what a cybersecurity threat is, thus allowing broad information sharing between private companies and the government for ill-defined purposes, the EFF said.
They became known as Blair’s Wars. The successful intervention in Kosovo led to what he rather grandly called a “Doctrine of the International Community”.
Put simply it was about intervening to stop mass atrocities and if necessary bring down despotic, dictatorial regimes.
After Kosovo, Blair’s new moral foreign policy was put to the test in Sierra Leone in 2000.
Again it was a military intervention that worked, saving the war-torn country from being overun by a bunch of hideously brutal, drug crazed gang of well armed rebels.
They of course have proved more controversial and more costly conflicts.
So although Mr Blair is no longer in power, the question is whether as an enthusiastic interventionist, he would now support military action in Syria.
A small credit ratings agency downgraded the United States’ credit rating for a second time, arguing the country was no closer to solving its runaway debt problem.
In a move that could foreshadow decisions from larger agencies, Egan-Jones downgraded the US to AA from AA+.
The company on Thursday cited “the lack of any tangible progress on addressing the problems and the continued rise in debt to GDP.”
“For the first time since WWII, US debt exceeds 100 percent,” analysts said, predicting that would rise to 106 percent by the end of the year, calling that an “inflection point.”
Egan-Jones — which is much smaller than its rivals — scrapped the United States’ top-level AAA rating in July, one month before Standard & Poor’s.
Part of the reason cited then and now was the continued political gridlock in Washington.
“We’d like to see some progress towards reducing the fiscal deficit in the next six to twelve months,” said managing director Sean Egan.
Leaked emails show an American private security company, SCG International has been helping the Syrian opposition in its efforts to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad at the request of US officials.
The whistleblower website, Wikileaks, released the emails sent by SCG Chief Executive James F. Smith, the former director of the notorious company Blackwater, which is blamed for the killing of many civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan.
In one of the emails, Smith says his company was contracted to engage the Turkey-based Syrian opposition in a so-called “fact finding mission,” but “the true mission is how they can help in regime change.”
PUBLIC confidence in David Cameron’s premiership has hit an all-time low, a YouGov poll for The Sun reveals today.
Only 30 per cent said he would “make the best PM” — the lowest figure since he entered No 10. His rating has dived EIGHT points in a fortnight, after rows over donors, fuel, pasties and the Budget.
But Labour leader Ed Miliband has failed to take advantage. Only 19 per cent said he would make the best PM, up just one point in the last two weeks. Only five per cent thought Nick Clegg would be the best PM, down one point.
Forty-six per cent said they “don’t know” who would make the best PM — the highest figure since May 2010.
Labour is on 42 per cent — 10 points ahead of the Tories.The Lib Dems are on 9 per cent, just one point ahead of the UK Independence Party.
The extent to which the current austerity policies have devastated living standards in Europe was underlined by an article published in the French newspaper Le Monde last week on the return of child labour to the continent.
Under the headline “Child Labour Re-emerges in Naples”, the article describes how thousands of children have been forced to quit school and find jobs in order to help feed their families in the southern Italian metropolis. The article cites a local government report from 2011 which noted that 54,000 children left the education system in the Campania region between 2005 and 2009. Some 38 percent of these children were less than 13 years old.
The world’s most hated corporation is at it again, this time in Vermont.
Despite overwhelming public support and support from a clear majority of Vermont’s Agriculture Committee, Vermont legislators are dragging their feet on a proposed GMO labeling bill. Why? Because Monsanto has threatened to sue the state if the bill passes.
The popular legislative bill requiring mandatory labels on genetically engineered food (H-722) is languishing in the Vermont House Agriculture Committee, with only four weeks left until the legislature adjourns for the year. Despite thousands of emails and calls from constituents who overwhelmingly support mandatory labeling, despite the fact that a majority (6 to 5) of Agriculture Committee members support passage of the measure, Vermont legislators are holding up the labeling bill and refusing to take a vote.
For the last four decades, U.S. corporations have been sinking our economy through the off-shoring of jobs, the squeezing of wages, and a magician’s hat full of bluffs and tricks designed to extort subsidies and sweetheart deals from local and state governments that often result in mass layoffs and empty treasuries.
We keep hearing that corporations would put Americans back to work if they could just get rid of all those pesky encumbrances – things like taxes, safety regulations, and unions. But what happens when we buy that line? The more we let the corporations run wild, the worse things get for the 99 percent, and the scarcer the solid jobs seem to be.
Yet the U.S. Chamber of Commerce wants us to think that corporations – preferably unregulated! – are the patriotic job creators in our economy.
Four million pounds in bonuses have been paid to the directors of water firms – despite their failure to repair leaks which allow 300million gallons to be lost every day.
All but one of the companies, which today brought in hosepipe bans for 20million customers, handed rewards to their board members in the last financial year. These include £2million for three executives at Britain’s largest water supplier Thames Water, whose highest paid director, understood to be chief executive Martin Baggs, took home £1.67million in 2010/11.
More than £1million was paid out by Anglian Water and more than £400,000 by Southern Water, even though both failed to meet their leakage targets last year.
Maybe you’ve heard of it and maybe you haven’t, but in Bluffdale, Utah alongside one of the largest polygamist sects in America, the NSA is building a one-million-square-foot data collection center — five times the size of the U.S. capital.
Despite immense secrecy, and construction workers with Top Secret clearances, news of the project made it to the pages of Wired last month. Intelligence authority James Bamford wrote that the center is part of President Bush’s “total information awareness” program that was killed by Congress in 2003 in response to public outrage over its potential for invading Americans privacy.
One senior intelligence official formerly involved with the project told Bamford “this is more than just a data center,” that it’s a code breaking megalopolis the likes of which the world has never seen.
Top-Secret US Spy Satellite Blasts Off Amid Mystery of What it Will Do (and Why Did the US Blackout Footage of Launch?)
A rocket carrying a top-secret payload blasted off from the California coast yesterday. The Delta IV rocket lifted off from the Vandenberg Air Force Base, about 130 miles north west of Los Angeles.
The rocket contained some form of spy technology – thought to be a hi-tech replacement for America’s ageing fleet of radar satellites. It’s not clear what capabilities the new generation might be armed with.
Imagine a world where robots conduct traffic, work in factories, make sushi and vacuum office floors. It may not be far away. In Japan, robots are already common fixtures, and the latest prototypes come ever closer to the line separating man from machine. This week, during her first visit to Hong Kong, female android Geminoid F chatted, sang and smiled while an awestruck crowd snapped photos. Her creator, Japanese robotics guru Hiroshi Ishiguro, programmed her built-in computer with 65 behaviors, making her one of the world’s most intelligent robots.
“The facts are totally different with the reports in the media (Al Jazeera), extremely different,” Reuters quoted Moussa Ahmed, a former producer for Al-Jazeera’s Beirut Bureau, as saying on Wednesday.
Ahmed said the channel concealed many facts, with editors’ opinions becoming the so-called facts, adding, “I’m so sorry that we concealed facts for so long a time.”
Ahmed is one of the five Al-Jazeera employees in Lebanon who resigned from the TV station over the channel’s biased stand on Syria in the middle of March.
Coup leader and head of Mali’s nearly two-week-old military junta has asked Western countries to help his army fight the rebels in control of the country’s north.
“If the great powers are able to cross oceans to battle fundamentalist structures in Afghanistan, what’s stopping them coming to us? Our committee wants the best for the country,” said coup leader Amadou Sanogo on Thursday. “The enemy is known and it is not in Bamako [capital of Mali]. If a force was to intervene it would have to do so in the north,” said Sanogo.
Liberals and secularists are furious at the decision this week by Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood to name Khairat al-Shater as its candidate next month’s presidential election. Even many members and leaders of the Brotherhood itself are livid at the decision, an eleventh-hour reversal of a longstanding undertaking to stay out of the race to elect a successor to President Hosni Mubarak. Curiously enough, though, the New York Times reports that U.S. official are “untroubled and even optimistic about the Brotherhood’s reversal of its pledge not to seek the presidency”.
The mechanics of this economic rape have been explained many times in the past. First of all the bankers duped governments and institutions all over the Western world into placing trillions of dollars (and/or euros) in bets that interest rates were about to soar higher – just before they crashed interest rates to the lowest levels in history. This swindle is known as “interest rate swaps”.
The second (and even more destructive) form of fraud perpetrated against these governments didn’t even require their participation – merely their naïve acquiescence. The bankers began placing huge bets (totaling at least $60 trillion) that these nations would default, and then had the audacity to call these bets “insurance” (credit default swaps). Note that such “insurance” had been banned in the U.S. for more than half a century – based upon anti-gambling statutes.
Here is the question which these banksters would never answer: how does a third party placing bets on whether someone’s home would burn down provide any “insurance” to the owner of the home? The answer of course is that it doesn’t. What it did do, however, was to create a $60 trillion motive for “arson”.
In my film, Death of a Nation, there is a sequence shot on board an Australian aircraft flying over the island of Timor. A party is in progress, and two men in suits are toasting each other in champagne. “This is an historically unique moment,” babbles one of them, “that is truly uniquely historical.” This is Gareth Evans, Australia’s foreign minister. The other man is Ali Alatas, the principal mouthpiece of Suharto. It is 1989 and they are making a symbolic flight to celebrate the signing of a piratical treaty that allowed Australia and the international oil and gas companies to exploit the seabed off East Timor.
Beneath them are valleys etched with black crosses where British and American-supplied fighter aircraft have blown people to bits. In 1993, the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Australian Parliament reported that “at least 200,000″, a third of the population, had perished under Suharto. Thanks largely to Evans, Australia was the only western country formally to recognise Suharto’s genocidal conquest. The murderous Indonesian special forces known as Kopassus were trained in Australia. The prize, said Evans, was “zillions” of dollars.
As homeschooling families continue to flee Sweden in the face of escalating persecution, the global outcry over the controversial Swedish policies is growing louder. More than a few critics and reporters have even blasted the government’s actions and behavior as reminiscent of the former Soviet Union.
In recent days, a senior U.S. lawmaker and popular televangelist Pat Robertson have spoken about the situation as well. And Jews around the world are concerned about the fate of a Jewish homeschooling family being targeted in Sweden, too.
The Swedish government was already facing worldwide criticism from human rights groups for what opponents called its “kidnapping” of Domenic Johansson. The then-7-year-old homeschooler was abducted from an airplane bound for India by police after his parents refused to stop educating him at home — and that was in June of 2009, while homeschooling was still technically legal. The boy remains in state custody, completely isolated from his parents.
The ongoing tragedy drew prompt condemnation from around the world. Organizations like the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA), the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF), Advocates International, the Network for Freedom in Education, the Nordic Committee for Human Rights, and many more all got involved. Media outlets from every corner of the globe picked up the story, too, shattering Sweden’s image as a “social utopia.”
Avril Mulcahy, 83, was told to address the “green travelling issues” over her journeys from her home in Westcliff-on-Sea, Essex, to the West Road Surgery. The surgery wrote to Mrs Mulcahy, telling her to register with a new GP within 28 days.
The letter said: “Our greatest concern is for your health and convenience but also taking into consideration green travelling issues. Re: Carbon footprints and winter weather conditions, we feel it would be advisable for patients to register at surgeries nearer to where they live.
“We would be very grateful if you could make the necessary arrangements to re-register at another practice.”
CBS is reporting that Senate Bill 1813 that would “suspend passport rights for delinquent taxpayers” passed the Senate 74-22 on March 14th.
A bill authored by a Southland lawmaker that could potentially allow the federal government to prevent any Americans who owe back taxes from traveling outside the U.S. is one step closer to becoming law.
…The ‘Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act’ or ‘MAP-21′ includes a provision that would allow for the ‘revocation or denial’ of a passport for anyone with ‘certain unpaid taxes’ or ‘tax delinquencies’.
In what appears to be surprising news for some, Reuters has an article titled “Americans brace for next foreclosure wave” whose key premise is that “a painful part two of the [housing] slump looks set to unfold: Many more U.S. homeowners face the prospect of losing their homes this year as banks pick up the pace of foreclosures.” T
hank the robosettlement, where in exchange for a few wrist slaps, contract law was thoroughly trampled by America’s attorneys general, but far more importantly to the country’s crony capitalist system, the foreclosure pipeline was once again unclogged, and whether one does or does not have a legal title on a given house, the banks are now fully in their right to foreclose on it.
Monsanto has been in the news this week, with a U.S. District Court Judge ruling that the USDA has to at least go through the motions of regulating the company’s genetically engineered sugar beets. Monsanto, you may know, is not likely to win any contests for the most popular company. In fact, it has been called the most hated corporation in the world, which is saying something, given the competition from the likes of BP, Halliburton and Goldman Sachs.
This has gotten me thinking about, of all things, ice cream, and of how Monsanto’s clammy paws can be found in some of the most widely selling ice cream brands in the country. These brands could break free from Monsanto’s clutches. So far they haven’t, but maybe this is about to change.
A growing number of Afghan children are being coerced into a life of sexual abuse. The practice of wealthy or prominent Afghans exploiting underage boys as sexual partners who are often dressed up as women to dance at gatherings is on the rise in post-Taliban Afghanistan, according to Afghan human rights researchers, Western officials and men who participate in the abuse.
“Like it or not, there was better rule of law under the Taliban,” said Dee Brillenburg Wurth, a child-protection expert at the U.N. mission in Afghanistan, who has sought to persuade the government to address the problem. “They saw it as a sin, and they stopped a lot of it.”
Israel’s Big Brother this year achieved a surprising twist, by making a superstar out of “Palestine sympathiser” Saar Szekely. Szekely is obviously locked within a left/right banal dichotomy (occupation, pre/post 67), yet, such an open debate is taking place in Israeli TV on prime time.