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  1. Following the revelation that USAID built a special "Twitter for Cuba" in an effort to foment dissent in that country, it's now come out, via some AP reporting, that USAID also sent a bunch of Latin American youths from other countries to Cuba on a bogus "HIV prevention" campaign, which was really a cover for recruiting young Cubans to be anti-government activists. Of course, remember that a bogus Polio vaccination campaign in Pakistan has resulted in people there no longer trusting such vaccinations and a rapid return of polio. While it's not likely that this campaign will directly lead to people totally ignoring HIV prevention advice, just the fact that the US government seems to be trying to make use of important health campaigns as part of a strategy to undermine others will have significant consequences, making people who need such information a lot less willing to actually pay attention to it. This doesn't seem like a good thing.Source
  2. This story was published: 1 day ago January 22, 2014 8:22AM Yahoo websites logged just shy of 195.2 million unique visitors in December while second-place Google saw about 192.3 million unique visitors. Yahoo was the most popular online venue visited from US desktop computers in December as modern lives increasingly revolve around using mobile devices to connect with the internet. Yahoo continued to hold a crown it claimed in August of last year after edging past Google in a ComScore ranking of online properties most frequently visited from desktop computers in the United States. Freshly released figures from the industry tracker show that Yahoo websites logged just shy of 195.2 million unique visitors in December while second-place Google saw about 192.3 million unique visitors. ComScore pegged the overall US desktop internet explorers at 224,057 million people. The lead ranking continued to be good news for Yahoo chief executive Marissa Mayer, who moved from Google in mid-2012. But Yahoo still trails Google in revenues and advertising, particularly in the key search segment. More visits translate into the potential to bring in more money from online ads. Mayer has made improving Yahoo's popularity on smartphones and tablets a priority as the faded internet search pioneer is reinvented as a "premier digital media" company. Yahoo shares were down more than two per cent to $39.06 in afternoon trading on the Nasdaq exchange in New York City. http://www.news.com.au/finance/business/yahoo-beats-google-in-us-desktop-visits-in-december/story-fn5lic6c-1226807335763
  3. Published time: January 23, 2014 04:12 Edited time: January 23, 2014 05:37 A huge crowd of demonstrators has surrounded the US embassy in the Ukrainian capital of Kiev, protesting against Washingtons meddling in the countrys internal affairs. Follow RT's live updates. The event was organized by Kievans for Clean City, a new pro-government activist group which has spoken out against the rioters and violence in downtown Kiev. Several thousand demonstrators are taking part, urging the US to stop sponsoring mass unrests, local media reported. The US is behind everything that is happening in Kievs downtown right now. The financing is coming from over there. This has to be stopped. That is what we came out here to say to the whole world: US - stop! US - there needs to be peace in Ukraine, said Ivan Protsenko, one of the movements leaders. Rioters on Grushevskogo Street continue to burn tires, with building No. 4 catching fire from the high flames, Unian news agency quoted the Ministry of Internal Affairs as saying. Police have been holding their line throughout the evening, attempting to extinguish fires with water cannons. After four days of protests, the center of the Ukrainian capital continues to resemble a warzone, with smoke, barricades, and debris all around. Wednesday's clashes between rioters and police intensified in the afternoon after riot police cleared Grushevskogo Street. Footage from the Ukrainian capital showed hundreds of police officers using tear gas, rubber bullets, and stun grenades against the protesters. The dispersal is the largest to take place since the latest outbreak of violence began four days ago. Some clashes involved policemen snatching individual rioters from the crowd and brutally beating them. Rioters threw firecrackers, Molotov cocktails, and stones at police. Despite some episodes of police brutality, security forces largely refrained from attacking rioters. Former Ukrainian president Leonid Kravchuk said he is grateful for the patience that police officers and the Berkut unit have shown while confronting rioters on Grushevskogo Street. I am grateful to the guys and Berkut, who are standing there now. I do not condone nor approve of the fact that they cleared out the students on November 30, although the right thing to do would be to criticize the person who gave out the order, Kravchuk said in a Forbes opinion piece. Now they are going through an incredible challenge: being beaten up, having stones and burning mixtures thrown at them, and they stand there and endure. Not a lot of countries have military who would tolerate such a treatment in a similar situation. The riots have reportedly left two people dead and at least 300 injured, according to local media. Ukraines Ministry of Internal Affairs said on Wednesday that more than 70 people have been detained during the unrest. Ukraine's prime minister, Nikolay Azarov, said police were not given any additional instructions on the use of force against the protesters. Conversely, procedures now in place ensure minimal use of force against even the most violent rioters. "Instructions given to law enforcement authorities were simple: avoid the use of force against peaceful demonstrators, and prevent violent seizure of government buildings and institutions, Azarov said in a BBC interview. The clashes erupted after a massive rally was held in Independence Square on Sunday, where protesters spoke out against new laws adopted by the Ukrainian government last week. http://rt.com/news/ukraine-protest-us-embassy-056
  4. By CHARLIE SAVAGEJAN. 23, 2014 Members of the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, a federal panel, at a workshop about surveillance held in a Washington hotel last summer. Christopher Gregory for The New York Times WASHINGTON — An independent federal privacy watchdog has concluded that the National Security Agency’s program to collect bulk phone call records has provided only “minimal” benefits in counterterrorism efforts, is illegal and should be shut down. The findings are laid out in a 238-page report, scheduled for release by Thursday and obtained by The New York Times, that represent the first major public statement by the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, which Congress made an independent agency in 2007 and only recently became fully operational. The report is likely to inject a significant new voice into the debate over surveillance, underscoring that the issue was not settled by a high-profile speech President Obama gave last week. Mr. Obama consulted with the board, along with a separate review group that last month delivered its own report about surveillance policies. But while he said in his speech that he was tightening access to the data and declared his intention to find a way to end government collection of the bulk records, he said the program’s capabilities should be preserved. The Obama administration has portrayed the bulk collection program as useful and lawful while at the same time acknowledging concerns about privacy and potential abuse. But in its report, the board lays out what may be the most detailed critique of the government’s once-secret legal theory behind the program: that a law known as Section 215 of the Patriot Act, which allows the F.B.I. to obtain business records deemed “relevant” to an investigation, can be legitimately interpreted as authorizing the N.S.A. to collect all calling records in the country. The program “lacks a viable legal foundation under Section 215, implicates constitutional concerns under the First and Fourth Amendments, raises serious threats to privacy and civil liberties as a policy matter, and has shown only limited value,” the report said. “As a result, the board recommends that the government end the program.” While a majority of the five-member board embraced that conclusion, two members dissented from the view that the program was illegal. But the panel was united in 10 other recommendations, including deleting raw phone records after three years instead of five and tightening access to search results. The report also sheds light on the history of the once-secret bulk collection program. It contains the first official acknowledgment that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court produced no judicial opinion detailing its legal rationale for the program until last August, even though it had been issuing orders to phone companies for the records and to the N.S.A. for how it could handle them since May 2006. The privacy board’s legal critique of the program was approved by David Medine, the board’s chairman and a former Federal Trade Commission official in the Clinton administration; Patricia M. Wald, a retired federal appeals court judge named to the bench by President Jimmy Carter; and James X. Dempsey, a civil liberties advocate who specializes in technology issues. But the other two members — Rachel L. Brand and Elisebeth Collins Cook, both of whom were Justice Department lawyers in the George W. Bush administration — rejected the finding that the program was illegal. They wrote in separate dissents that the board should have focused exclusively on policy and left legal analysis to the courts. Last month, two Federal District Court judges reached opposite legal conclusions in separate lawsuits challenging the program. Ms. Brand wrote that while the legal question was “difficult,” the government’s legal theory was “at least a reasonable reading, made in good faith by numerous officials in two administrations of different parties.” She also worried that declaring that counterterrorism officials “have been operating this program unlawfully for years” could damage morale and make agencies overly cautious in taking steps to protect the country. But the privacy board was unanimous in recommending a series of immediate changes to the program. The three in the majority wanted those changes as part of a brief wind-down period, while the two in dissent wanted them to be structural for a program that would continue. Some of those recommendations dovetailed with the steps Mr. Obama announced last week, including limiting analysts’ access to the call records of people no further than two links removed from a suspect, instead of three, and creating a panel of outside lawyers to serve as public advocates in major cases involving secret surveillance programs. Other recommendations — like deleting data faster — were not mentioned in the president’s speech. And all members of the board expressed privacy concerns about requiring phone companies to retain call records longer than they normally would, which might be necessary to meet Mr. Obama’s stated goal of finding a way to preserve the program’s ability without having the government collect the bulk data. The program began in late 2001 based on wartime authority claimed by President Bush. In 2006, the Bush administration persuaded the surveillance court to begin authorizing the program based on the Patriot Act under a theory the Obama administration would later embrace. But the privacy board’s report criticized that, saying that the legal theory was a “subversion” of the law’s intent, and that the program also violated the Electronic Communications Privacy Act. “It may have been a laudable goal for the executive branch to bring this program under the supervision” of the court, the report says. “Ultimately, however, that effort represents an unsustainable attempt to shoehorn a pre-existing surveillance program into the text of a statute with which it is not compatible.” Defenders of the program have argued that Congress acquiesced to that secret interpretation of the law by twice extending its expiration without changes. But the report rejects that idea as “both unsupported by legal precedent and unacceptable as a matter of democratic accountability.” The report also scrutinizes in detail a handful of investigations in which the program was used, finding “no instance in which the program directly contributed to the discovery of a previously unknown terrorist plot or the disruption of a terrorist attack.” Still, in her dissent, Ms. Cook criticized judging the program’s worth based only on whether it had stopped an attack to date. It also has value as a tool that can allow investigators to “triage” threats and provide “peace of mind” if it uncovers no domestic links to a newly discovered terrorism suspect, she wrote. http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/23/us/politics/watchdog-report-says-nsa-program-is-illegal-and-should-end.html?partner=rss&emc=rss&smid=tw-nytimes&_r=0
  5. Robinson Meyer Jan 21 2014, 3:49 PM ET Tech bloggers—who are also journalists—at an Instagram event last year (Lucas Jackson/Reuters) One of the great questions of our time came closer to resolution last week, when a federal court ruled that bloggers are journalists—at least when it comes to their First Amendment rights. The Ninth Circuit ruled as such on Friday in Obsidian Finance Group v. Crystal Cox, a complicated case first decided in 2011. The court found that even though someone might not write for the “institutional press,” they’re entitled to all the protections the Constitution grants journalists. Background That Is Not About Are Bloggers Journalists In 2010, Crystal Cox—an “investigative blogger”—published a series of angry posts about Obsidian Finance Group and its partners, alleging tax fraud, money laundering, and other crimes. The posts appeared on a set of aptly (and memorably) named websites, including “obsidianfinancesucks.com.” Obsidian and one of its partners, Kevin Padrick, sued Cox, alleging defamation. Only statements of apparent fact can be ruled defamation. When the case went to trial, Oregon district court Judge Marco Hernandez ruled that most of Cox’s entries were too hyperbolic to count as anything but opinion, and thus could not be considered defamation—except for one post, which the Oregon district decided was sufficiently factual. A jury awarded Obsidian and Padrick $2.5 million in damages for the libel. The New York Times’s media reporter David Carr wrote about the case that year, ruling it less about journalism than Right and Wrong: “She didn’t so much report stories,” he said of Cox, “as use blogging, invective and search engine optimization to create an alternative reality.” Other things were going on in the case. Cox claimed that her sources for the tax fraud claim were secret, and that Oregon’s media shield law protected her from revealing them. Hernandez decided that she did not qualify for shield protection under the law, partly because she had offered to take down the offending posts for $2,500 per month. But this new appeal ruling, the one on Friday, turned on something else—the intersection of two pre-existing piece of case law, New York Times Co. v. Sullivan and Gertz v. Robert Welch, Inc. Both dictate what kinds of speech qualify as defamation. In the landmark 1964 Sullivan, the Supreme Court ruled that public figures can only seek claims for defamation if false information was published with “actual malice.” In 1974’s Gertz, meanwhile, the same court ruled that false information about private individuals qualified as defamation if it was negligently published. Taken together, the two cases establish a meshing precedent: To count as defamation, false information about public figures must be published with malign intent. False information about private figures, meanwhile, must merely be published negligently. Cox claimed that Obsidian and its partners were public figures, an assertion the Ninth Circuit nixed. Writing for the court, Judge Andrew Hurwitz said that her posts, while about private figures, covered a topic of public concern. They fell, he said, under the domain of Gertz. The information contained in them could not be merely wrong: It had to be negligently published. Crucially, the jury in the 2011 trial, Hurwitz said, had never been informed of such a stipulation. The Bloggers and Journalists Part Cox might not qualify for Gertz’s protections if she was not part of a media organization. If Cox is a blogger, not a journalist, and if only journalists are entitled to the protections of negligent publications, then Cox might not qualify for Gertz at all. Was Cox, a self-titled blogger, in fact a journalist? On this, Hurwitz was clear. “Although the Supreme Court has never directly held that the Gertz rule applies beyond the institutional press, it has repeatedly refused in non-defamation contexts to accord greater First Amendment protection to the institutional media than to other speakers,” he wrote. In one case, he said, “the Court expressly noted that ‘we draw no distinction between the media respondents and’ a non-institutional respondent.” Hurwitz goes on, extending journalistic protections to all those liberated of their institutions: The protections of the First Amendment do not turn on whether the defendant was a trained journalist, formally affiliated with traditional news entities, engaged in conflict-of-interest disclosure, went beyond just assembling others’ writings, or tried to get both sides of a story. As the Supreme Court has accurately warned, a First Amendment distinction between the institutional press and other speakers is unworkable: “With the advent of the Internet and the decline of print and broadcast media . . . the line between the media and others who wish to comment on political and social issues becomes far more blurred.” So bloggers—even slimy ones—are, at least legally, journalists. Cox’s case will get a new trial in Oregon’s district court, and the jury will be appropriately informed of the Gertz rule. Perhaps the award of damages will be reduced. And we, those following the case at home, can change into our pajamas, order pizza to our various apartments, and blog away. We will not just be bloggers—we will be, according to the law, journalists. http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2014/01/us-court-bloggers-are-journalists/283225
  6. By David Brunnstrom WASHINGTON Tue Jan 21, 2014 6:46pm EST (Reuters) - The case of the Indian consul arrested and strip-searched in New York last month was handled "appallingly" and needs to be resolved, but the United States remains probably India's most important ally, the Indian ambassador to Washington said on Tuesday. "I won't underplay this incident, I won't overplay this incident. I think we need to see it in perspective," S. Jaishankar said in an interview. "I think we are in the midst of working this one out." Jaishankar said India was "perplexed" by the decisions of U.S. authorities to arrest and strip-search 39-year-old Devyani Khobragade, India's deputy consul in New York, after she was accused of visa fraud and underpaying her maid. "There was a fair measure of anger about both the substance of the problem and the way it was handled," he said. "It was not just done publicly; frankly it was done appallingly." But Jaishankar, who arrived in Washington in December after serving as Indian ambassador to China, played down the impact on the practical side of the relationship - emphasizing that the two sides were still talking despite the postponement of two high-level U.S. visits this month, including one by U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz. "Frankly, it's probably the most important relationship," he said. "We are not holding up business, or Pentagon dealings, or congressional dealings ... or science programs and saying, 'They don't get done until things get sorted out.'" Jaishankar said, however, there was a need to resolve both the Khobragade case and the broader issue of the lesser level of diplomatic immunity accorded to Indian and other foreign consular staff in the United States compared with what Washington expects for its consular staff serving overseas. 'LARGER ISSUE' Asked if India supported a demand from Khobragade's lawyer for the charges against her to be dropped, he said, "That is an issue in respect of this diplomat, but I think there is a larger issue of immunities and privileges." "I think we need to sit down and work this one out." Khobragade left the United States this month after a complex deal in which her diplomatic status was switched to the United Nations, affording her a greater degree of immunity from prosecution. But U.S. authorities have so far refused to drop the charges against her. Until the issue was resolved, Jaishankar said, the level of immunity enjoyed by U.S. consular officials in India would be reduced to exactly the level granted in the United States. "Since our consular officials have no immunity against felonies, U.S. consular officials do not have immunity against serious crimes in India," he said. India sharply curbed privileges offered to U.S. diplomats in retaliation for Khobragade's treatment and asked Washington to withdraw a diplomat from New Delhi. It also ordered the U.S. Embassy to close a club for expatriate Americans in New Delhi, and a government source said it was also preparing steps against the American Embassy School, which it suspected may be employing some staff in violation of visa rules. Jaishankar noted that many Asian nations valued the U.S. presence in their region and that India was keeping a "watchful" eye on the debate over the U.S. budget, which has seen U.S. military leaders warning about the possible impact on Washington's ability to respond to global crises. "I think as uncertainties mount, as volatility grows, I think people do value a strong American presence," Jaishankar said. He noted efforts last year by then-U.S. Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton Carter to deepen bilateral defense ties, including proposed co-development of the next version of the Javelin anti-tank missile now built by Raytheon Co and Lockheed Martin Corp. Jaishankar called co-development of defense technologies with India "uncharted territory" and added it was a matter he had discussed in his initial interactions with the Pentagon since taking up his post. Still, he said such proposals would take time to develop. (Additional reporting by Phil Stewart; Writing by David Brunnstrom; Editing by Peter Cooney) http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/01/21/us-india-usa-idUSBREA0K1VM20140121
  7. By SPIEGEL Staff, BENJAMIN BIDDER, CHRISTIAN NEEF, VLADIMIR PYLYOV and MATTHIAS SCHEPP January 27, 2014 – 04:40 PM Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich appears bent on crushing the protest movement but the opposition won't go quietly. A right-wing nationalist party is seeking to benefit from the growing violence and has begun warning of a civil war. Dressed in jeans and a down jacket, the parliamentarian who wants to overthrow Ukraine's president by any means necessary is standing in Kiev's Maidan Nezalezhnosti, or Independence Square, where a struggle for power has played out over the last two months. "What can our cobblestones, Molotov cocktails and burning tires do against water cannons, bullets and armored cars?" asks Igor Myroshnychenko. "Many people here are prepared to die." Under his jacket Myroshnychenko wears a traditional embroidered Ukrainian shirt. He is among the leaders of the right-wing nationalist Svoboda (Freedom) Party, which has formed a coalition with former heavyweight boxing champion Vitali Klitschko's Udar Party, along with jailed former leader Yulia Tymoshenko's Fatherland Party, against President Viktor Yanukovich. Myroshnychenko tried a few days ago to prevent the passage of an amendment that limits the right to demonstrate. Soon after the president signed it, Myroshnychenko and three other Svoboda MPs marched into the printing plant where the government newspaper was being completed. New laws only take effect once they have been published. Part of the print run had already been sent off in trucks but protestors burned the remainder on Maidan Square. Government opponents have been erecting increasing numbers of barriers in the center of Kiev in recent days, and the country is on the brink of a "partisan war," Myroshnychenko says. "A lot of blood will flow, including the blood of innocent people. I have no hope that Yanukovich will meet even a single one of our demands." Death Toll Mounting Last week, three people lost their lives in the protests, with and one of them showing injuries consistent with torture. Hundreds of demonstrators have been injured. By European standards, the course taken by the president last week made no sense. Viktor Yanukovich has done nothing to solve the conflict for two months. And then he poured oil into the flames by whipping through a package of laws hostile to democracy. But not even a man with political horizons as limited as Yanukovich can have wanted what is now happening in Ukraine. The stage has now been set for civil war, and the hatred between pro-Europeans and friends of Russia has turned bloody. Yanukovich supporters regard the demonstrators as "extremists and terrorists;" even Prime Minister Nikolai Mykola Azarov used those words on television as if they were self-evident. Arsen Klintshayev, a government party parliamentarian in Lugansk, says it was "totally right" that the first demonstrators have now been killed. They had turned against the country's leadership and one should "take a much harder line against the protesters." Igor Myroshnychenko, meanwhile, regards the Yanukovich supporters as "fascists and bandits" who want to turn democratic Kiev into a "mafia-like Donetsk." Donetsk is a mining center in the Russian-speaking east of Ukraine. In the 1990s, the city saw bloody power struggles between rival businessmen. Yanukovich, convicted of theft and causing bodily harm, comes from there and represents the interests of Donetsk-based oligarchs. The scope for talks between the two sides is eroding and the country is growing increasingly divided. Ukrainians who have thus far stayed out of the protests are starting to join the activists. Last Thursday, people stormed city halls and regional parliament buildings not just in western bastions of resistance like Lviv and Ivano-Frankivsk but also in Cherkasy and Poltava in the east. They forced governors to sign their resignations and blocked public offices. Over the weekend, the protests spread further still, while in Kiev, demonstrators temporarily took control of the Justice Ministry. Weak Opposition Leonid Kravchuk, Ukraine's first president, said that the current government is making matters worse, referring to the scandalous passage of the demonstration laws which weren't discussed in parliamentary committee. The vote took place by hand signs in a turbulent parliamentary session and the head of the parliament signed the laws immediately, in contravention of rules. The amendments are in line with Russian laws but the punishments are even stiffer. In Russia, "organizers of mass unrest" face four to 10 years in jail, compared with 10 to 15 in Ukraine. Former Ukrainian Justice Minister Sergey Golovaty says the events of recent days were stage-managed by Moscow, not by Kiev. Ukraine's political regime, he says, is to be "aligned with that of Russia and Belarus." The regime needs a pseudo-judicial basis for repression. That is why Yanukovich is steering towards a violent outcome of the crisis, Golovaty believes. That assessment is consistent with the dismissal of the moderates from Yanukovich's team, including the head of the presidential office, Sergey Levochkin who had favored entering into a dialogue with the opposition. He was replaced by a Donetsk-based supporter of Yanukovich who is reported to have ordered the first violent clearance of Maidan Square in November. Yanukovich's unwillingness to compromise also has to do with the weakness of the opposition. The protests of pro-European Ukrainians, which began eight weeks ago, took Klitschko and the heads of the allied opposition parties by surprise. Last week, they were once again overtaken by events when militants took the initiative on Kiev's Maidan Square out of frustration that the three opposition leaders were unable to get what they demanded of the country's leadership. Svoboda member Myroshnychenko is likewise not a fan of Klitschko. His development as a politician is moving "rather slowly," he says sarcastically. "I don't think that he can take over leadership of the opposition, much less leadership of the aggressive Maidan." What he doesn't say is that his own party is also a problem for the opposition alliance. Svoboda has joined the revolt, but it rejects certain human and minority rights. With 10 percent support, Svoboda is the fourth-strongest group in parliament. Klitschko and the Tymoshenko party need its backing. Plus, the party is a key player in the protests. But Klitschko plays down Svoboda's right-wing stance. "We have different ideologies, but two things connect us," Klitschko says. "We are fighting against those in power today and we want European values for our country." Flirting with the Right Wing The Svoboda party also has excellent ties to Europe, but they are different from the ones that Klischko might prefer. It is allied with France's right-wing Front National and with the Italian neo-fascist group Fiamma Tricolore. But when it comes to the oppression of homosexuality, representative Myroshnychenko is very close to Russian President Vladimir Putin, even if he does all he can to counter Moscow's influence in his country. "The EU is the only possibility for us to defend ourselves against Russian pressure," he says. He and his party see the alliance with Klitschko as being purely tactical. Klitschko, after all, would like to limit the powers of the president while Svoboda dreams of a country with a strong leader. Myroshnychenko was press spokesman for the Ukrainian national football team in the lead up to the 2008 European Championships, but he isn't exactly cosmopolitan. He would even like to see foreign professional football players deported because they "change Ukraine's ethnic map." There have been other, similar incidents. In a 2012 debate over the Ukrainian-born American actress Mila Kunis, he said that she wasn't Ukrainian, rather she was a "Jewess." Indeed, anti-Semitism is part of the extremist party's platform; until 2004, they called themselves the Social-National Party of Ukraine in an intentional reference to Adolf Hitler's National Socialist party. Just last summer, a prominent leader of party youth was distributing texts from Nazi propaganda head Joseph Goebbels translated into Ukrainian. Without the nationalists' tight organization, the revolt on Maidan Square would long since have collapsed. But Svoboda also embodies the greatest danger to the protest movement. The party's foot soldiers, with their muddled, right wing doctrine, aren't likely to hold back for much longer. And that might be what the president is waiting for. http://www.spiegel.de/international/europe/ukraine-sliding-towards-civil-war-in-wake-of-tough-new-laws-a-945742.html
  8. WASHINGTON Mon Jan 27, 2014 4:35pm EST A man types on a computer keyboard in Warsaw in this February 28, 2013 illustration file picture. Credit: Reuters/Kacper Pempel/Files (Reuters) - The Obama administration and major U.S. technology companies have struck a deal that would allow the companies to tell the public in greater detail about the spying-related court orders they receive, the Justice Department said on Monday. The agreement was filed in the U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court and would settle demands from companies such as Google Inc and Microsoft Corp for more leeway to disclose data about the court orders, according to documents released by the department. http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/01/27/us-usa-security-data-idUSBREA0Q1OF20140127
  9. 26.01.2014 45 mins ago Fugitive former NSA contractor Edward Snowden has claimed that US government officials "want to kill me" in an exclusive interview which German television says it conducted in Moscow. German NDR television issued a further snippet ahead of a broadcast late Sunday in Europe of an exclusive interview with Snowden in which the intelligence whistleblower claims that US officials wanted him killed. "These people, and they are government officials, have said they would love to put a bullet in my head or poison me when I come out of the supermarket, and then watch as I die in the shower," he told NDR interviewer Hubert Seipel, who said the interview took place last Thursday. Snowden, who was granted temporary asylum in Russia in August, referred in the interview to a report by US website BuzzFeed of explicit threats against him from unnamed Pentagon and National Security Agency (NSA) officials. The former NSA contractor is wanted by US authorities on treason charges for disclosing details of a vast intelligence operation that monitored millions of phone calls and emails across the world. The interview was aired on German ARD television, of which NDR is a member, with a German-language voice-over late on Sunday, European time. In the ARD talkshow Günter Jauch run prior to the interview's ARD broadcast, former US ambassador to Berlin John Kornblum was asked where Snowden would be in 10 years time. Kornblum said he expected Snowden would return to the United States under a deal. "I believe there will be an arrangment," Kornblum said. Industrial espionage too? In an earlier snippet released online late on Saturday by the public broadcaster NDR, Snowden claimed that the NSA was involved in industrial espionage and did not limit its espionage to issues of US national security. "If there is information at [German electronics and engineering giant] Siemens that they think would be beneficial to the national interests, not the national security, of the United States, they will go after that information and they'll take it," Snowden said. NDR's interviewer Seipel, in a pre-broadcast interview in German also published online by NDR, said Snowden's sole "life insurance" was that he had entrusted journalists of the New York Times, Washington Post and Britain's Guardian with the material. At regular intervals, Seipel said, these media outlets triggered a series of "small thematic bombs." 'Very carefully' selected documents "The NSA is still trying to guess, how much material it involves. At the start there was talk of 200,000, then of 600,000 and now there are around 1.7 million documents," Seipel said. Snowden had "very carefully" selected documents that rather than focusing on individual persons, focused on the structure of the US secret services and alleged "violations," Seipel said. "He has shown what happens within this apparatus, also in connection with other services." "The accusation that he has endangered the lives of thousands of soldiers or secret service employees is in my view feeble-minded," Seipel said, adding that Snowden had a "very strong" sense of justice. "That [President Barack] Obama said he was not a patriot is for him, I think, quite difficult enough." Interview arranged via 'safeguards' The interviewer said Snowden was "very precise in what he says, but naturally was also very cautious" to avoid breaching the terms of his asylum in Russia. Seipel said the NDR team conducted the exclusive interview using three cameras and a microphone after organizing the meeting using encrypted phone calls and several other "safeguard measures." On Thursday, in a question-and-answer session on the "Free Snowden" website, the fugitive ruled out returning to the United States, where he said there was no chance of a free trial. http://www.dw.de/wanted-dead-by-us-officials-snowden-tells-german-tv/a-17388431 Also see: Snowden New Interview: U.S. Spy On Foreign Companies http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BVW1laVQygc DW restricts "the interview" to German audience only. Youtube not publishing Uploaded "Snowden exklusiv -- Das Interview [ARD - 26.01.2014] - YouTube" This video has been removed because it is too long. Sorry about that. http: //www. youtube. com/watch?v=bLIq2tfWyvc However, Watch "Snowden Exklusiv (NDR, 26.01.14)" http://vimeo.com/85106649 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A3bU8M3FgfE Original German Transcript http://www.presseportal.de/mobil/story.htx?nr=2648795 English Transcript Through Google Translator " Snowden exclusive" : the text of the interview of NDR author Hubert Seipel 26.01.2014 | 23:26 clock , NDR / The First ( ots) - NDR author Hubert Seipel has led the world's first television interview with Edward Snowden after his flight from Hong Kong. Here is the text of the 30 - minute version of the interview that the first "exclusive Snowden - the interview " under the title on Sunday night , 26 January has been shown at 23.05 clock . Free quotes when mentioning " Source: NDR" . Hubert Seipel (hereinafter abbreviated to HS) : Mr. Snowden , you have slept well the last few nights ? I 've read that you have asked for police protection. Are there any threats? Edward Snowden (hereinafter abbreviated as ES): There are significant threats , but I sleep very well. There was an article in an online portal called " buzzfeed " , were interviewed in the Pentagon officials and NSA National Security Agency . It has assured them anonymity so that they can say what they want, and who told the reporter that they want to kill me . These people - and there are government officials - have said they would chase me just like a bullet in the head or poison me when I come back from the supermarket, and watch me die then under the shower . HS : But luckily you are still alive . ES: Right, I 'm still alive and I do not have sleepless nights because I did what I thought was necessary. It was the right thing, and I will not be afraid . HS: The biggest fear that I have , as far as my revelations , you said , is that nothing changes . But meanwhile, there is a lively discussion about the position of the NSA , not only in America but also in Germany and in Brazil, and President Obama was forced to publicly justify what the NSA has since made ​​quite legally . ES: As a first reaction to the revelations , the government has set up as a kind of corral to the National Security Agency . Rather than get behind the public and to protect their rights , the politicians have brought to the security apparatus and its laws. That was an interesting way , but only the first reaction , since concessions have been made . The President has just said: "We have met the right level , there was no abuse," then he and his officials have admitted that it has effectively given abuse. There have been countless violations of the National Security Agency and other relevant bodies and authorities each year. HS : Is the talk of Obama the beginning of a serious regulation? ES: From the President's speech was clear that he wants to make minor changes in order to preserve authorities , we do not need . The President has formed a committee of officials belonging to his personal friends of members of the National Security and former members of the CIA - to conserve both from people who have every reason with these programs. But even they have found that these programs are worthless , that they have never prevented a terrorist attack in the U.S. and that they have at best a bit of benefit for other things. The Section 215 program, which is a huge data collection program - and that is mass surveillance program - has just found out that a wire transfer in the amount of $ 85,000 was discovered and stopped by a taxi driver in California. Specialists say that we do not need this type of review that we do not make these programs safely. Your maintenance is extremely expensive , and they are worthless . Experts say that you can change it. The National Security Agency is subject solely to the President . He can finish their action at any time or initiate a change. HS: President Obama has admitted that the NSA collects billions of data and stores . ES: Every time you call , write an email , transfer something , go with a mobile phone bus or dragging anywhere a card through a reader , you leave a trace , and the government has decided that it is a good idea , the everything to gain with these programs. Everything , even if you have never been suspected of a crime. Usually, the state goes to a judge who told him that someone is suspected of having committed a particular crime , there is an arrest warrant , and only then they use the official authority for the investigation. Today, the government is their authority and an already , before any investigation begins . HS : You have triggered this debate. The name of Edward Snowden now stands for the whistleblower in the Internet age . Until last summer, you have worked for the NSA and in that time you have secretly thousands of confidential documents from the NSA collected all over the world. What was the defining moment - or was it a longer period - why did you do it ? ES : I would say , a crucial point was when I saw how the director of National Intelligence , James Clapper , has lied under oath before Congress . There is no salvation for a secret service , who believes he can lie to the public and lawmakers who trust him and regulate his actions. When I saw that, it meant to me that I can not go back. There was no doubt . In addition, there was the creeping realization that no one would do differently. The public had a right to know of these programs. The public had a right to know what the government is doing in their name , and what the government is doing to the public. But neither the one nor the other , we were allowed to discuss . We were forbidden even to speak with our elected representatives about it or discuss these programs , and that is dangerous . The only test that we had came from a secret court , the Court Fizer , which is a kind of vicarious agent . If this includes when you go to work every day and sits down at his desk , one is aware of his power. That you could even listen to the President of the United States or a federal judge , and if you proceed with caution , no one will know because the only way how the NSA uncovers abuse, self- displays are . HS: For that matter, we speak not only of the NSA. There is a multilateral agreement for cooperation between the intelligence agencies. This alliance is known as the Five Eyes. Which intelligence agencies and countries belong to this alliance , and what is the goal? ES: The Five Eyes alliance is a kind of artifact from the period after the Second World War in which the English-speaking countries were the major powers , which came together to cooperate and share the cost of the infrastructure of the intelligence services. So we have the GCHQ in England , we have the NSA in the United States , and we have Canada C -Sec , we have the Australian Signals Intelligence Directorate and we have the New Zealand DSD Defence Signals Directorate The result has been for decades a kind of supra-national intelligence organization , the does not comply with the laws of their own countries. HS: In many countries , as well as in America, it is organizations like the NSA legally not allowed to spy on the citizens in their own country , the British officially allowed to spy on everyone , just not the British, but the NSA could spy on the British and vice versa so that they can exchange data . And so they follow the law officially . ES: If you ask the governments immediately thereafter , they will deny it and refer to the Agreement between the members of the Five Eyes , in which is that it does not spy on the citizens of the other country , but there are some sticking points . One is that the collection of data in them does not count as espionage. The GCHQ gathers an incredible amount of data a British citizen , just like the National Security Agency collects a tremendous amount of data on U.S. citizens. They claim that they monitor any targeted person within this data. You are not looking for U.S. or British citizens. In addition, the agreement , which says that the British are not U.S. citizens and the United States monitor any British citizen , is not legally binding. The actual contract document has separately then that the agreement is not legally binding . This Agreement may at any time be circumvented or broken. So if the NSA wants to spy on a British citizen , she can spy on him , and the data even left the British government , which shall not spy on its own citizens . Thus there is a kind of trade dynamics , but this is not open, it is more of a nudge and a wink . In addition, the monitoring and the abuse does not happen only when people look at the data , it is done by people collect the data at all. HS : How close is the cooperation of the German secret service BND with the NSA and the Five Eyes ? ES: I would describe as closely . In a written interview I did it first so expressed that the German and American intelligence go to bed together . I say this because they not only share information , but also share tools and infrastructure. They work against common targets , and therein lies a great danger. One of the major programs , serving in the National Security Agency to abuse , is the "X Key Score" . It is a technique with which you can search through all the data that is stored around the world every day of the NSA. HS: What would you do in their place with this instrument? ES: You could read every e -mail around the world . From each , of which one has the e- mail address, you can watch the traffic on any website , on any computer , any laptop that does one locate , you can follow from place to place all over the world . It is a one stop shop , over which one gets to all the information the NSA. Moreover, one can use X key score to track individuals. Let's say I 've ever seen and you found interesting , what you do , or you have access to something that interests me , let's say you work in a large German companies , and I want to get access to this network. I can your user name to find out on a website on a form somewhere , I can find out your real name , I can pursue relationships with your friends , and I can make something that is called a fingerprint , that is a network activity that is unique to you . That is, no matter where you go in the world , no matter where you try to get your online presence, to hide your identity , the NSA to find you. And everyone who is entitled to use this instrument or by the NSA shares its software can do the same. Germany is a country that has access to X Key score. HS : That sounds pretty scary . The question is : Returns the data BND German citizens to the NSA ? ES: Whether the BND does it directly or consciously - at least the NSA receives German data. Whether they are delivered , about that I may speak only when it was reported in the Shun about it because it was classified as secret , and it is dear to me if journalists decide what is in the public interest and what should be published. However, it is no secret that every country in the world has the data of its citizens in the NSA . Millions and millions and millions of data connections from the daily life of the Germans, if they use their phone , send SMS messages , visit web pages , buy things online - all this ends up at NSA . And since it seems likely that the BND is aware in some way. Whether he really actively provides information to , I can not tell . HS: The BND argues that something be done only by chance and that our filter does not work . ES : Right. They discuss two things. They say that they collect and filter data . That is, if the NSA a secret server installed in a German telecommunications provider or a German router hacking and traffic redirects in such a way that they can browse it , it is said: " When I realize that a German speaks with another German , I listen to " , but how will you know? You could say "well, these people speak the German language , this IP address appears to lead by a German company to another German company" , but that is not correct. And who would not drop all the traffic , because they are so get at people who are interested , the active use in Germany German lines of communication . If they say they do not spy on Germans intentionally , then so do not think that they do not collect German data , they do not mean that no records are made ​​or stolen. A promise , in which one crosses fingers behind his back , it can not rely on. HS: What about other European countries such as Norway and Sweden? We have a lot of underwater cables that run through the Baltic Sea . ES: This is a kind of extension of the same idea. If the NSA does not collect information on German citizens in Germany , it does it then , as soon as she leaves the German borders ? The answer is " yes". The NSA can intercept any communication that runs over the Internet , at various points . Maybe they see that in Germany , perhaps in Sweden , perhaps in Norway or Finland , perhaps in England , and perhaps in the United States. At every single place that runs through a German communication , it is intercepted and stored. HS: Let's talk about our southern neighbors , Italy , France and Spain? ES: It's the same deal worldwide . HS: NSA Spying at Siemens , Mercedes and other successful companies to use their advantage in technology and business for their own benefit ? ES : I again do not want to prejudge the journalists , but what I can say is : There is no doubt that the United States operate industrial espionage. If there is information at Siemens , from which they think that they are for the national interests of advantage, but not for the national security of the United States , they will chase and the information they get. HS: There is an old proverb that says " If anything is possible, it is done ." Does the NSA , which is technically possible? ES: The theme of the president has addressed last year . Then he said , just because we can do something - and there was a question that had been tapped the phone of Angela Merkel - just because we can do something does not mean we should do it too, and that is exactly what happened. The technical possibilities that lie in low safety standards of Internet protocols and mobile communication networks, were of intelligence used to create systems that see everything. HS: Nothing has the German government more angry than the fact that the NSA has apparently tapped over the last ten years, the home phone to German Chancellor Merkel. Suddenly the invisible monitoring combined with a known face and not with this opaque , shady terrorist background. Now Obama has promised to snoop no longer with Mrs. Merkel, which raises the question "Does the NSA intercepted already previous governments , including former Chancellor and when : when and how long they did it " ? ES: This is a particularly difficult question for me because there is information that necessarily have to be in the public interest in my opinion . However, as I already said , I would rather that journalists look at the material and decide whether the value of this information to the public is more important than the damage that the publication for the reputation of the members of the government means having issued this surveillance. What I can say is that we know that was monitored Angela Merkel of the National Security Agency . The question is , how logical it is to assume that it is the only member of the government , which was monitored. How likely is it that it is the only known German face, to which the National Security Agency has taken care of ? I would say it is not very likely that someone who cares about intentions of the German government only monitors Merkel and not their advisers , no other known members of the government , no minister or even members of municipal governments. HS: How do you get a young man from Elizabeth City , North Carolina at the age of 30 years, such a position in such a sensitive area ? ES: That's a very difficult question. Basically, I would say that the dangers of privatization of public tasks be identified. I used to work as a government employee for the Central Intelligence Agency , but I worked a lot more frequently than contractor in a private setting . This means that private , for-profit companies take over sovereign functions such as espionage , reconnaissance, infiltration of foreign systems. And anyone who can convince the private sector firms that he has the necessary qualifications , is set . Supervision is minimal and there is hardly tested . HS: Were you one of those classic computer kids , which has been sitting with bloodshot eyes the whole night in front of a computer, 12 or 15 years old and her father knocked on the door and said: "Do finally out of the light! " If you purchased your knowledge this way? ES: I definitely had - let's say - a deeply informal education, as far as my computer and electronics training. This has always been fascinating to me . Well, the description that the parents sent me to bed , it is already true . HS: If you look at the few public data of their lives , you discover that you are obviously in May 2004 wanted to join the special forces , to fight in Iraq. What has driven then ? Special forces , that is violently struggling and probably also kill . Have you ever been in Iraq? ES : Yes. What is interesting in terms of the special forces , but the fact that they really are not responsible for the direct contact for direct fights. Rather, they are intended to act forces reinforcing. They are used behind enemy lines . This is a special unit . It aims to help the local population to resist , and support the U.S. Armed Forces. I then thought for a fundamentally decent affair. In retrospect, the arguments for the use in Iraq were insufficiently justified with the result that all parties emerged from the damaged thing. HS: What happened after your adventure continues ? Did you stay there ? ES: No, I broke the legs in training and was discharged. HS: In other words, so it was a short adventure ... ES: ... Yes , a short one. HS : 2007 They were stationed for the CIA in Geneva, Switzerland . Why did you go to the CIA ? ES : I do not think I can say that. HS : Then we forget the question. But why the CIA ? ES : I think that I thus wanted to continue as effectively as possible to serve the public good. It is also in my other activities for the state in which I wanted to use my technical skills in the most difficult places I could find . And that's what gave me the CIA. HS: If you look at the so look what you've done: Special Forces CIA , NSA . This is not necessarily the way for a human or whistleblowers. What happened? ES: I think it shows , no matter how hard we strive to secure the state and is loyal to him , no matter how strongly you believe in the government's arguments , as it has been with me during the Iraq war of the case - you can learn and detect a difference between a reasonable for a state action and an actual wrongdoing. And I think I realized that a red line had been crossed. HS: Are you working at a private company called Booze Alan Hamilton for the NSA . The company is one of the big players in the business. What is the advantage to hire private companies to carry out a central task for the sovereign state? ES: The practice of allocating security authorities of the United States is a complicated matter . It is determined by various interests. Firstly, the number of direct employees of the State should be limited , on the other hand require the lobbyists of wealthy companies such as financial Booze Alan Hamilton took its toll . This creates a situation influence the policies of government in the private companies. And whose interests are very different from the interests of the general public . The consequences could be observed in Booze Alan Hamilton, where individuals can access millions of official acts. You can always leave the company. No reliability, no control. The government did not even know that the were gone. HS: In the end they ended up here in Russia. And the intelligence community suspects you that you have made a deal here . Asylum against secret information . ES: The head of the working group that examined my case , said in December that there is no evidence that I could get from outside help or even been instructed from the outside. I also made ​​a deal to carry out my mission. I worked alone . This is indeed the case . I worked alone , I needed help from anyone , I have no foreign governments any connections and I'm not a spy for Russia, China or any other country. If it is true that I am a traitor , who am I supposed to have betrayed ? I have everything that I know the American public , the American journalist given . If this is to be considered as treason , men should really ask who they work for . The public is , after all, their boss , not their enemy . HS: After your revelations , no European country was willing to take you . Where you have applied for asylum ? ES: The exact list I have not in mind because there were so many , but in any case France, Germany and the UK. Several European countries , all of which , unfortunately, felt it important to support the United States the political interests and do the right thing . HS : A response to the NSA spying is that countries such as Germany to do about thoughts to establish their own national networks to Internet companies are forced to keep data in their own country . ES: It will not stop them to continue their work , the NSA . Let's put it this way : The NSA goes where the data is . If she manages to gather news from the telecommunications networks of China, it probably will succeed her, get at Facebook messages in Germany . Ultimately , the solution is to put everything not in a walled garden . It is much better to back up data on an international level , as if everyone is trying the data back and one that tries to . The transfer of data is not the solution . The solution is to save the data. HS: President Obama are the messages this revelation at the moment seems relatively unimportant . He seems - along with the NSA - to be much more interested to take the bearer of this news. Obama has repeatedly asked the Russian president to make your delivery. Putin has rejected it looks like , as you will spend the rest of your life here in Russia. Is there a solution for this problem? ES : I think that it is becoming increasingly clear that these revelations have done no harm , but rather serve the public good . It will be difficult to continue a campaign against someone whom the public the opinion prevails that he is working for the public good . HS: In the New York Times had an editorial called for in the grace for you recently . The headline : "Edward Snowden whistleblower " and I quote : "The public was informed about how the agency exceeds the limits of its powers and abused. " And then it says : "President Obama should instruct his employees to set the slander Mr. Snowden's an end and to give him an incentive to come home ." Did you get a call? ES : I have yet to get a call from the White House and I do not sit on the phone and wait . Nevertheless, I would welcome the opportunity to talk about how we can bring this matter to a mutually satisfactory way to the end . I believe that there are cases in which what is legal is not necessarily right. There are enough examples in history in America and Germany , where the country's government acted within the law and still did wrong. HS: President Obama is obviously not quite convinced , he said , that you have committed three offenses. He said : " If you , Edward Snowden , stand by what you have done , you should come back to America and to answer with the help of a lawyer before the court ." Is this the solution? ES: What he did not say is that these are offenses for which I can not be heard before a court . I can not defend myself before a public court or convince the jury the fact that I had acted in their interests. The Espionage Act dates from 1918. Its goal was never to pursue journalistic sources , ie people that make the newspapers get information of general public interest . Rather, it was directed against people who sell the documents to foreign governments , blow up bridges, sabotage communication , and not against people who act in the public interest. It is significant that the President says that I am to answer before a court , even if he knows that such a process would only be a show trial . The conversation has arisen in the context of NDR documentation that will show the first in the spring. Information also available at www.NDR.de / snowden Press contact: NDR / The First Press and Information Iris Bents Phone: 040/4156 - 2304 Fax: 040/4156 - 2199 i.bents @ ndr.de http://www.ndr.de
  10. By Matthew O'Brien Jan 26 2014, 9:00 AM ET The top 1 percent aren't killing the American Dream. Something else isif you live in the wrong place. Here's what we know. The rich are getting richer, but according to a blockbuster new study that hasn't made it harder for the poor to become rich. The good news is that people at the bottom are just as likely to move up the income ladder today as they were 50 years ago. But the bad news is that people at the bottom are just as likely to move up the income ladder today as they were 50 years ago. We like to tell ourselves that America is the land of opportunity, but the reality doesn't match the rhetoricand hasn't for awhile. We actually have less social mobility than countries like Denmark. And that's more of a problem the more inequality there is. Think about it like this: Moving up matters more when there's a bigger gap between the rich and poor. So even though mobility hasn't gotten worse lately, it has worse consequences today because inequality is worse. But it's a little deceiving to talk about "our" mobility rate. There isn't one or two or even three Americas. There are hundreds. The research team of Raj Chetty, Nathaniel Herndon, Patrick Kline, and Emmanuel Saez looked at each "commuting zone" (CZ) within the U.S., and found that the American Dream is still alive in some parts of the country. Kids born into the bottom 20 percent of households, for example, have a 12.9 percent chance of reaching the top 20 percent if they live in San Jose. That's about as high as it is in the highest mobility countries. But kids born in Charlotte only have a 4.4 percent chance of moving from the bottom to the top 20 percent. That's worse than any developed country we have numbers for. You can see what my colleague Derek Thompson calls the geography of the American Dream in the map below. It shows where kids have the best and worst chances of moving up from the bottom to the top quintileand that the South looks more like a banana republic. (Note: darker colors mean there is less mobility, and lighter colors mean that there's more). So what makes northern California different from North Carolina? Well, we don't know for sure, but we do know what doesn't. The researchers found that local tax and spending decisions explain some, but not too much, of this regional mobility gap. Neither does local school quality, at least judged by class size. Local area colleges and tuition were also non-factors. And so were local labor markets, including their share of manufacturing jobs and those facing cheap, foreign competition. But here's what we know does matter. Just how much isn't clear. 1. Race. The researchers found that the larger the black population, the lower the upward mobility. But this isn't actually a black-white issue. It's a rich-poor one. Low-income whites who live in areas with more black people also have a harder time moving up the income ladder. In other words, it's something about the places that black people live that hurts mobility. 2. Segregation. Something like the poor being isolatedisolated from good jobs and good schools. See, the more black people a place has, the more divided it tends to be along racial and economic lines. The more divided it is, the more sprawl there is. And the more sprawl there is, the less higher-income people are willing to invest in things like public transit. That leaves the poor in the ghetto, with no way out for their American Dreams. They're stuck with bad schools, bad jobs, and bad commutes if they do manage to find better work. So it should be no surprise that the researchers found that racial segregation, income segregation, and sprawl are all strongly negatively correlated with upward mobility. But what might surprise is that it doesn't matter whether the rich cut themselves off from everybody else. What matters is whether the middle class cut themselves off from the poor. 3. Social Capital. Living around the middle class doesn't just bring better jobs and schools (which help, but probably aren't enough). It brings better institutions too. Things like religious groups, civic groups, and any other kind of group that keeps people from bowling alone. All of these are strongly correlated with more mobilitywhich is why Utah, with its vast Mormon safety net and services, is one of the best places to be born poor. 4. Inequality. The 1 percent are different from you and methey have so much more money that they live in a different world. It's a world of $40,000 a year preschool, "nanny consultants," and an endless supply of private tutors. It keeps the children of the super-rich from falling too far, but it doesn't keep the poor from rising (at least into the top quintile). There just wasn't any correlation between the rise and rise of the 1 percent and upward mobility. In other words, it doesn't hurt your chances of making it into the top 80 to 99 percent if the super-rich get even richer. But inequality does matter within the bottom 99 percent. The bigger the gap between the poor and the merely rich (as opposed to the super-rich), the less mobility there is. It makes intuitive sense: it's easier to jump from the bottom near the top if you don't have to jump as far. The top 1 percent are just so high now that it doesn't matter how much higher they go; almost nobody can reach them. 5. Family Structure. Forget race, forget jobs, forget schools, forget churches, forget neighborhoods, and forget the top 1or maybe 10percent. Nothing matters more for moving up than who raises you. Or, in econospeak, nothing correlates with upward mobility more than the number of single parents, divorcees, and married couples. The cliché is true: Kids do best in stable, two-parent homes. It's not clear what, if any, policy lessons we should take from this truism. As my colleague Jordan Weissmann points out, we don't really have any idea how to promote marriage. We can try telling people how great it is to get hitched. We can even get rid of the marriage penalties some low-income couples face. But these won't, and haven't, been making more people exchange till-death-do-us-parts. And should we even want to? Steve Waldman points out that poor women know better than upper-middle-class people yelling at them to get married whether they should or not. They know whether their boyfriend would make a good husband, a good father, a good teacher. And they know that marriage is important. That they're not getting married tells us something. Sometimes no match is better than a bad match. *** Flat mobility is the defining Rorschach test of our time. Conservatives look at it, and say, see, we shouldn't worry about the top 1 percent, because they're not making the American Dream any harder to achieve. But liberals look at it, and say see, we should care about inequality, because it can make the American Dream harder to achieveand it raises the stakes if you don't. But both want to increase upward mobility. It's not enough to keep it where it was 50 years ago. We need to actually become the land of opportunity. The American Dream is alive in Denmark and Finland and Sweden. And in San Jose and Salt Lake City and Pittsburgh. But it's dead in Atlanta and Raleigh and Charlotte. And in Indianapolis and Detroit and Jacksonville. Fixing that isn't just about redistribution. It's about building denser cities, so the poor aren't so segregated. About good schools that you don't have to live in the right (and expensive) neighborhood to attend. And about ending a destructive drug war that imprisons and blights the job prospects of far too many non-violent offendersfurther shrinking the pool of "marriageable" men. Because the American Dream is dead in too much of America. http://m.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2014/01/why-is-the-american-dream-dead-in-the-south/283313 Also see NYT Interactive Map of Poverty in US with video in this link: http://www.nsaneforums.com/topic/202059-nyt-interactive-map-of-poverty-in-us/?hl=%2Bpoverty+%2Bmap#entry720410
  11. By Andrea Peterson January 16 at 11:50 am The page students inside Yale saw when attempting to access a student creating online class planning service earlier this week. (CourseTable.com) A pair of Yale students and brothers, Peter Xu and Harry Yu, built a site that let students plan out their schedules while comparing class evaluations and teacher ratings for the past three semesters. Thousands of Yale students used it, apparently finding it a better resource than similar sites run by the university. But this week, as the "shopping period" where students are able to try out classes and finalize their schedules began, Yale not only blocked the Web site from campus networks, labeling it "malicious," but forced the brothers to take it down or face disciplinary action. "We found that it was really hard to find and compare courses when we first arrived at Yale," said Yu,"and given the amount of freedom that Yale gives students to take courses, we found it really frustrating." So they created their own personal tool to help them use average class and professor evaluations to make informed decisions about their course selections. The information they used was already available to students through internal systems. But there was no centralized database that allowed students to perform comparisons at a glance. So they started collecting information from internal resources and programmed an interface that would compile everything in one place. As it evolved, they thought that other students might be interested in their system as well. So they launched it as "Yale Bluebook+" -- a riff on an officially sanctioned course planning tool. And they were right: According to their data, 2,094 students have used the site, with 1,871 students creating worksheets last semester. That's a significant chunk of Yale's roughly 5,000-person undergraduate student body. As first reported by the Yale Daily News, representatives of the registrar's office contacted Yu and Xu last week asking how they had obtained their data, with whose permission, and where it was hosted. Officials also expressed concerns that the site was making course evaluation information available to individuals not authorized to view the information. While the site required Yale credentials to log in, it did not have a way to sort between undergrad students and other members of the academic community. In later correspondence, the administration cited concerns about the prominence of evaluation information and unauthorized use of the words "Yale," "Bluebook," and the Yale logo. At a meeting Friday, the brothers say they were told they needed to shut down the site due to these issues. "They seemed to be panicking a little bit about it," Xu said in an interview. But the brothers countered with proposals aimed at addressing the university's concerns and they rushed to implement changes over the weekend -- including changing the name to CourseTable and adjusting how they displayed rating data. "We thought we could work out all of these issues," says Xu, "up until Sunday night." Then, without further warning, Yale blocked the page from university networks -- effectively cutting off students who intended to use their service to guide their shopping period. Xu and Yu said they scrambled to e-mail out saved worksheets to students and tried to get in contact with the administration to talk through the situation further. In response, they received a written notice that they would be referred to the Executive Committee for disciplinary action if the site was not taken down by 5 p.m. Tuesday. So they took down the site. "We're disappointed, but we're afraid of compromising our degree," said Yu. Both students expressed their continued affection for the institution, but they also saw its actions as contradicting the values like a "drive to promote innovation" and "academic freedom" that they believe are central to their education at Yale. The brothers were especially surprised that the university was unwilling to cooperate with them because the administration's existing course selection software — which Yu and Xu's product was meant to improve — was itself a student-created product, eventually bought out by the university. In fact, the brothers say, the original Yale Bluebook used some of the same methods to scrape its data, and they worked with a member of the app's team to help create the process. But their conversations with the administration and the content of the sites led them to believe the sticking point was the way they displayed course evaluations, which was different from Yale Bluebook because it averaged the ratings and made them easily comparable. "The registrar said that originally when Yale faculty agreed to put that information online, they didn't want it to be displayed that prominently," said Yu. The brothers don't find that a very compelling reason to limit the way the information could be displayed. "First, we don't think that helps professors that much,"said Xu, saying that the ratings for most classes were positive. "And second, we think it hurts students by limiting their ability to understand information about the classes they want to take." But the administration appears to disagree: A response sent by the Yale IT department to students who filed tickets about the blocking of the site specifically cited the its use of ratings as among the reasons the site was blocked, saying "the design of the site focused on a few ratings never intended to be used for this purpose." It added, "Yale takes advising and course selection seriously and has given students digital resources to help them design their schedules, such as syllabi, course descriptions, and thoughtful narrative responses written by students." Yale declined Washington Post interview requests for this story, but did share a short statement about the situation from Yale College Dean Mary Miller. The statement did not directly address their blocking of the website or the threat of disciplinary action, or the site's use of course ratings. "Yale's policy on free expression and free speech entitles no one to appropriate a Yale resource and use it as their own," the statement read. It further stated its main priority at this time was supporting its own resources, "not others created independently and without the university's cooperation or permission," and that "all the information on the website remains remains available to students on the Yale site." Since the blocking of the Web site and the forced takedown, the brothers say they have received "radio silence" in response to attempts to meet in person with the dean's or the registrar's office -- a situation they find frustrating, but not particularly surprising. "They want this to blow over," argued Yu. "In another few weeks, students will be enrolled in classes and it won't be a be a big deal anymore." But they still believe "Yale as a whole remains a great place for technology. " And they say they've received a lot of support in conversations with faculty and members of the administration outside of the dean's and registrar's office. Plus their online petition asking the university to allow the site has attracted over 500 signatures. "We think that Yale as a whole does not try to stifle innovation," they explain. "Rather, the overly cautious dean's and registrar's office has just really mishandled this specific case." http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-switch/wp/2014/01/16/yale-students-made-a-better-version-of-its-course-catalog-then-yale-shut-it-down/
  12. By Veit Medick and Annett Meiritz 15 Jan 2014 Berlin wants a deal with the US that prohibits trans-Atlantic spying, but Washington seems uninterested. DPA Last summer, German Chancellor Angela Merkel promised her citizens a pact which would prohibit US spying on German citizens. But since then, Washington has shown little interest in pursuing such a treaty. Now, officials in Germany fear the deal is dead. Failed talks? Hardly. The negotiations "are continuing," says Germany's foreign intelligence service, the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND). "We are still talking," says the German government. In other words, nothing has yet been decided. The No-Spy deal is still alive. But the statements coming out of Berlin and Pullach, where the BND is headquartered, reek of forced optimism. Nobody wants it to look as though efforts have been abandoned toward a deal which would see the US agree to swear off spying operations in Germany. Yet despite the assertions, most of those involved are slowly coming to the realization that a surveillance deal between Washington and Berlin isn't likely to become reality. The US government is still digging in its heels. On Tuesday, the German daily Süddeutsche Zeitung quoted one source who is familiar with the talks as saying "we won't get anything." The paper also reported that the US is refusing to promise that it won't monitor members of the German government and other politicians in the future. Interactive Graphic: The NSA Spy Catalogue The current gloominess is a stark shift from the confidence on display in the middle of last year. To be sure, Germany was in the middle of a general election campaign. But in the summer of 2013, National Security Agency head Keith Alexander had told his German counterpart, BND chief Gerhard Schindler, that a far-reaching deal was possible, though he also acknowledged that it was ultimately up to the White House to give the green light. German officials began speaking of the treaty as though it were a done deal. Legal Action? Since then, however, news broke that the US had monitored Chancellor Angela Merkel's mobile phone and that the US undertakes far-reaching surveillance activities from the roof of its embassy in Berlin. Washington has thus far refused to tell Berlin exactly when it tapped into Merkel's phone and has denied German experts access to its roof-top spying operation. The German government has informed Washington that it considers the surveillance post to be a violation of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations and it is considering taking legal action. The mood, in short, has dramatically worsened, and US stonewalling on a No-Spy deal isn't helping. "The Americans lied to us," one high-ranking official told the Süddeutsche in reference to the treaty. It is an extremely uncomfortable situation for German Chancellor Angela Merkel. For months, her staff, together with high-ranking officers within German security agencies, have sought to move the project forward. Sources in the government now believe that a thin declaration of intent, in which both countries pledge to obey the laws of the other, is the most that can be hoped for. Merkel will have to take charge of the issue if she wants to achieve anything at all. She will have the opportunity to speak personally with US President Barack Obama in Washington next week. It seems likely that the chancellor will do all she can to return with something concrete. Should the two NATO allies not be able to reach agreement on a treaty preventing them from spying on one another, it would be the clearest indication yet that trans-Atlantic relations are in trouble. And it would be embarrassing for her domestically. After all, her pledge to work towards a No-Spy deal was key to ensuring that the swelling debate over the American National Security Agency's mass surveillance practices didn't derail her re-election campaign last year. It was a message to voters that she and her conservatives were doing all they could to protect the data of German citizens. Both her then-chief of staff, Ronald Pofalla, and then-Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich used every chance they got to promise as much. Should she fail, it will be a black mark on her credibility and make clear just how little influence Merkel has in Washington. Overstepping Its Bounds The revelations of widespread NSA surveillance in Europe and Germany have already hurt Merkel. Since the affair began last June, the Chancellery has been in the awkward position of not really knowing what is coming next and has seemed helpless. Interior Minister Friedrich, for his part, complained of "anti-Americanism" spoke of a "super basic right of security," and, in an interview with SPIEGEL, seemed extremely eager to counter concerns that the US was overstepping its bounds. German government representatives seeking answers returned home from Washington empty handed and questions sent to Washington have been ignored or returned with unsatisfying responses. Domestically this week, the issue has returned. The opposition has placed NSA surveillance and the No Spy treaty on the parliamentary agenda for Wednesday and difficult questions are sure to be asked. Members of the governing coalition, which pairs Merkel's Christian Democrats with the center-left Social Democrats, are becoming concerned as well. Stephan Meyer, domestic affairs expert for Merkel's conservatives in parliament, has even suggested that economic sanctions should be considered. "It is time," he said. "The US has to be candid." Thomas Oppermann, floor leader for the SPD, also said that "a failure of the treaty would be unacceptable." Still, he insists that he remains optimistic. "I am hopeful that the chancellor's visit to the US will help us achieve a deal in the end." His meaning, though, is clear. Merkel must deliver. http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/us-german-no-spy-deal-in-danger-of-failure-a-943614.html
  13. Market research firm NPD has now recorded a full month of console sales for the PS4 and Xbox One in the US, and it's revealing today that Microsoft’s latest console topped the sales charts for the month of December. Microsoft has long dominated with the Xbox 360 in the US, and it appears that healthy stocks of the Xbox One have helped the company take the edge during the all important holiday season. Microsoft’s Xbox One sold 908,000 units in December, alongside 643,000 sales of the Xbox 360. Both of Microsoft's consoles topped the charts in the US for each generation. The NPD figures follow announcements earlier this month from Microsoft and Sony over their console sales for 2013. Microsoft revealed it sold more than 3 million Xbox One consoles in 2013, while Sony sold 4.2 million PS4s last year. Sony is currently selling its PS4 console in 52 countries, while Microsoft has not yet expanded its initial 13 launch markets. Sony is blaming stock issues for its PS4 US sales in December. "We sold every PS4 available at retail in the US and were out of stock in December due to overwhelming consumer demand," says Sony's Dan Race. "PlayStation 4 remains the cumulative leader for next-gen console sales in the US since the launch on November 15th." Sony's "cumulative leader" claim could be largely related to the extra week of sales in the US during November, adding to the overall combined total for November and December. Sony launched the PS4 on November 15th in the US, followed a week later by Microsoft's Xbox One. Either way, both consoles are clearly off to a great start, and both will be boosted by more and more titles launching during the course of 2014. Update: article updated to reflect comments from Sony on its US PlayStation 4 sales. Source
  14. The United States government has sent a confidential, 16-page document to major retailers that outlines how hackers infiltrated Target's data systems late last year and made off with sensitive information belonging to over 70 million customers. As the investigation into that breach continues, the government is sharing some of what it's learned so far. According to CNBC, the report reveals that the malware which infected Target was "partly written in Russian" and that the perpetrators "displayed innovation" and "a high degree of skill." The bulletin tells merchants how they can identify the methods and malicious software used in the attack, Reuters says, which Target's anti-virus tools ultimately failed to pick up on. Little else is known about what the document contains, though it's length suggests the Secret Service and Justice Department are making some headway in their investigation of the incident. Of course, the biggest challenge of all is finding those responsible; no arrests linked to the breach have been publicly reported. Source
  15. By Kate Sheppard 01/15/2014 12:22 pm EST Updated: 01/15/2014 5:18 pm EST WASHINGTON -- WikiLeaks published a leaked draft of the environment chapter of the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Wednesday, and environmental groups are lining up to take a swing. The leaked documents come from a meeting of the trade deal's chief negotiators held in Salt Lake City, Utah, from Nov. 19 to 24, 2013. The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) includes 12 countries - the United States, Japan, Mexico, Canada, Australia, Malaysia, Chile, Singapore, Peru, Vietnam, New Zealand and Brunei - and would govern a number of international environmental and trade issues. The draft indicates the pact will include a number of promises on the environment, but will lack strong enforcement tools. "When compared against other TPP chapters, the Environment Chapter is noteworthy for its absence of mandated clauses or meaningful enforcement measures," wrote WikiLeaks in its release. The chapter is intended to deal with issues like overfishing, trade of wood products, wildlife crime, and illegal logging. But most of the measures in the chapter are voluntary, rather than binding, and do not include penalties or criminal sanctions for violations. Compliance is largely left to the respective countries. Enviros offered similar criticism. "The lack of fully-enforceable environmental safeguards means negotiators are allowing a unique opportunity to protect wildlife and support legal sustainable trade of renewable resources to slip through their fingers, said Carter Roberts, president and CEO of the World Wildlife Fund, in a statement. The leaked document from November is only a draft, but if the trade pact's final environmental chapter looks like it, it would make the Obama administration's environmental trade record "worse than George W. Bushs," said Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club. This draft chapter falls flat on every single one of our issues -- oceans, fish, wildlife, and forest protections -- and in fact, rolls back on the progress made in past free trade pacts. According to a report from the chairs of the TPP Environmental Working Group drafting the chapter, also released by WikiLeaks, there remains significant disagreement among the parties on many of the pact's provisions. The chairs wrote that Vietnam, Peru and Malaysia object to a provision calling for countries to "rationalize and phase out" fossil fuel subsidies "that encourage wasteful consumption." They also noted that the United States and Australia object to the climate change portion of the pact as it is written. Negotiation of the pact has been underway since 2010, but all discussions take place entirely outside of public view. The Obama administration has already received backlash for leaked portions of the pact that indicate it would grant greater rights to corporations to challenge national laws in private courts. Efforts to fast-track the trade deal met resistance from Democrats in Congress this week. UPDATE: 5:15 p.m. -- The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative issued a response to the release on Wednesday afternoon. From the statement: The United States' position on the environment in the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations is this: environmental stewardship is a core American value, and we will insist on a robust, fully enforceable environment chapter in the TPP or we will not come to agreement. Our proposals in the TPP are centered around the enforcement of environmental laws, including those implementing multilateral environmental agreements (MEAs) in TPP partner countries, and also around trailblazing, first-ever conservation proposals that will raise standards across the region. Furthermore, our proposals would enhance international cooperation and create new opportunities for public participation in environmental governance and enforcement. Read the full statement here. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/01/15/tpp-environment_n_4602727.html?ir=Politics Wikileak Document PDF https://wikileaks.org/tpp2/static/pdf/tpp-treaty-environment-chapter.pdf
  16. Microsoft Office ProPlus 2013 VL (x86/x64) Eng-US Aug2013 Contains all KB files with msp patches to bring current to the Aug2013 security-patch date. MSP files added to Updates Folder: access-x-none.msp, ace-x-none.msp, convintl-en-us.msp,csi-x-none.msp, excel-x-none.msp, excelintl-en-us.msp,fpsrvutl-x-none.msp, groove-x-none.msp, grooveintl-en-us.msp,lync-x-none.msp, lyncintl-en-us.msp, msmipc-x-none.msp,mso-x-none.msp, msointl-en-us.msp, msores-x-none.msp,oart-x-none.msp, oleo-x-none.msp, onenote-x-none.msp,orgidcrl-x-none.msp, osetup-x-none.msp, outlfltr-x-none.msp,outlook-x-none.msp, outlookintl-en-us.msp, powerpoint-x-none.msp,powerpointintl-en-us.msp, project-x-none.msp, proof-en-us.msp,proof-es-es.msp,riched20-x-none.msp,visio-x-none.msp, visiointl-en-us.msp, vsto-x-none.msp,vviewer-x-none.msp, word-x-none.mspYou can activate using MS Toolkit (Project Page Link Included). Click the office button, then activation tab, etc. Currently MTK does not yet activate KMS v6 which comes in the latest build of Windows 8.1, so try to keep up to date and keep checking for newer versions that potentially support KMS v6 if you install Office 2013 on 8.1. The reason being that 8.X take over the activation for Office 2013, and since 8.1 uses v6, Office 2013 will also use v6. It could be that someone else comes up with activation for v6, you should look around MDL while yer checking on MTK's v6 status. Previous Windows versions will likely be unaffected, with possible exception to 8.0 which could have a KB file to incorporate KMS v6. MSDN SOURCE: en_office_professional_plus_2013_x86_dvd_1123673.iso Release File: Office_ProPlus_2013_VL_32Bit_En-US-Aug2013.iso Size: 964MB CRC32: 0012B757 MD5: 6671E011AA4E0908591F9B4B9742FEEC SHA-1: 86CC7EB53186F10F26777C0C7EDDF48DD09C9768 MSDN SOURCE: en_office_professional_plus_2013_x64_dvd_1123674.iso Release File: Office_ProPlus_2013_VL_64Bit_En-US-Aug2013.iso Size: 1.12GiB CRC32: F04E64D3 MD5: 8C0CECD410EB44D444546DAECC82A22C SHA-1: 8CBE4AD18607145E87BC56A5CCD9E01A43EDE65D
  17. By Matthew Cole First published February 8th 2014, 1:14 am ritish spies have developed “dirty tricks” for use against nations, hackers, terror groups, suspected criminals and arms dealers that include releasing computer viruses, spying on journalists and diplomats, jamming phones and computers, and using sex to lure targets into “honey traps.” Documents taken from the National Security Agency by Edward Snowden and exclusively obtained by NBC News describe techniques developed by a secret British spy unit called the Joint Threat Research and Intelligence Group (JTRIG) as part of a growing mission to go on offense and attack adversaries ranging from Iran to the hacktivists of Anonymous. According to the documents, which come from presentations prepped in 2010 and 2012 for NSA cyber spy conferences, the agency’s goal was to “destroy, deny, degrade [and] disrupt” enemies by “discrediting” them, planting misinformation and shutting down their communications. Both PowerPoint presentations describe “Effects” campaigns that are broadly divided into two categories: cyber attacks and propaganda operations. The propaganda campaigns use deception, mass messaging and “pushing stories” via Twitter, Flickr, Facebook and YouTube. JTRIG also uses “false flag” operations, in which British agents carry out online actions that are designed to look like they were performed by one of Britain’s adversaries. In connection with this report, NBC is publishing documents that Edward Snowden took from the NSA before fleeing the U.S., which can be viewed by clicking here and here. The documents are being published with minimal redactions. The spy unit’s cyber attack methods include the same “denial of service” or DDOS tactic used by computer hackers to shut down government and corporate websites. Other documents taken from the NSA by Snowden and previously published by NBC News show that JTRIG, which is part of the NSA’s British counterpart, the cyber spy agency known as GCHQ, used a DDOS attack to shut down Internet chat rooms used by members of the hacktivist group known as Anonymous. Read the first NBC report on JTRIG and the Snowden documents. Read an earlier exclusive NBC report on the Snowden documents. Civil libertarians said that in using a DDOS attack against hackers the British government also infringed free speech by individuals not involved in any illegal hacking, and may have blocked other websites with no connection to Anonymous. While GCHQ defends the legality of its actions, critics question whether the agency is too aggressive and its mission too broad. Eric King, a lawyer who teaches IT law at the London School of Economics and is head of research at Privacy International, a British civil liberties advocacy group, said it was “remarkable” that the British government thought it had the right to hack computers, since none of the U.K.’s intelligence agencies has a “clear lawful authority” to launch their own attacks. “GCHQ has no clear authority to send a virus or conduct cyber attacks,” said King. “Hacking is one of the most invasive methods of surveillance.” King said British cyber spies had gone on offense with “no legal safeguards” and without any public debate, even though the British government has criticized other nations, like Russia, for allegedly engaging in cyber warfare. But intelligence officials defended the British government’s actions as appropriate responses to illegal acts. One intelligence official also said that the newest set of Snowden documents published by NBC News that describe “Effects” campaigns show that British cyber spies were “slightly ahead” of U.S. spies in going on offense against adversaries, whether those adversaries are hackers or nation states. The documents also show that a one-time signals surveillance agency, GCHQ, is now conducting the kinds of active espionage operations that were once exclusively the realm of the better-known British spy agencies MI5 and MI6. Intelligence officials defended the British government’s actions as appropriate responses to illegal acts. According to notes on the 2012 documents, a computer virus called Ambassadors Reception was “used in a variety of different areas” and was “very effective.” When sent to adversaries, says the presentation, the virus will “encrypt itself, delete all emails, encrypt all files, make [the] screen shake” and block the computer user from logging on. But the British cyber spies’ operations do not always remain entirely online. Spies have long used sexual “honey traps” to snare, blackmail and influence targets. Most often, a male target is led to believe he has an opportunity for a romantic relationship or a sexual liaison with a woman, only to find that the woman is actually an intelligence operative. The Israeli government, for example, used a “honey trap” to lure nuclear technician Mordechai Vanunu from London to Rome. He expected an assignation with a woman, but instead was kidnapped by Israel agents and taken back to Israel to stand trial for leaking nuclear secrets to the media. The version of a “honey trap” described by British cyber spies in the 2012 PowerPoint presentation sounds like a version of Internet dating, but includes physical encounters. The version of a “honey trap” described by British cyber spies in the 2012 PowerPoint presentation sounds like a version of Internet dating, but includes physical encounters. The target is lured “to go somewhere on the Internet, or a physical location” to be met by “a friendly face.” The goal, according to the presentation, is to discredit the target. A “honey trap,” says the presentation, is “very successful when it works.” But the documents do not give a specific example of when the British government might have employed a honey trap. An operation described in the 2010 presentation also involves in-person surveillance. “Royal Concierge” exploits hotel reservations to track the whereabouts of foreign diplomats and send out “daily alerts to analysts working on governmental hard targets.” The British government uses the program to try to steer its quarry to “SIGINT friendly” hotels, according to the presentation, where the targets can be monitored electronically – or in person by British operatives. A slide from the documents taken from the NSA by Edward Snowden and obtained by NBC News. The existence of the Royal Concierge program was first reported by the German magazine Der Spiegel in 2013, which said that Snowden documents showed that British spies had monitored bookings of at least 350 upscale hotels around the world for more than three years “to target, search and analyze reservations to detect diplomats and government officials.” According to the documents obtained by NBC News, the intelligence agency uses the information to spy on human targets through “close access technical operations,” which can include listening in on telephone calls and tapping hotel computers as well as sending intelligence officers to observe the targets in person at the hotels. The documents ask, “Can we influence hotel choice? Can we cancel their visits?” The 2010 presentation also describes another potential operation that would utilize a technique called “credential harvesting” to select journalists who could be used to spread information. According to intelligence sources, spies considered using electronic snooping to identify non-British journalists who would then be manipulated to feed information to the target of a covert campaign. Apparently, the journalist’s job would provide access to the targeted individual, perhaps for an interview. The documents do not specify whether the journalists would be aware or unaware that they were being used to funnel information. The executive director of the Committee to Protect Journalists, Joel Simon, said that the revelation about “credential harvesting” should serve as a “wake up call” to journalists that intelligence agencies can monitor their communications. Simon also said that governments put all journalists at risk when they use even one for an intelligence operation. “All journalists generally are then vulnerable to the charge that they work at the behest of an intelligence agency,” said Simon. The journalist operation was never put into action, according to sources, but other techniques described in the documents, like the Ambassadors Reception computer virus and the jamming of phones and computers, have definitely been used to attack adversaries. In Afghanistan, according to the 2012 presentation, the British used a blizzard of text messages, phone calls and faxes to “significantly disrupt” Taliban communications, with texts and calls programmed to arrive every minute. In a set of operations that intelligence sources say were designed to stop weapons transactions and nuclear proliferation, JTRIG used negative information to attack private companies, sour business relationships and ruin deals. The British cyber spies also used blog posts and information spread via blogs in an operation against Iran. Other effective methods of cyber attack listed in the documents include changing photos on social media sites and emailing and texting colleagues and neighbors unsavory information. The documents do not give examples of when these techniques were used, but intelligence sources say that some of the methods described have been used by British intelligence to help British police agencies catch suspected criminals. The documents from 2010 note that “Effects” operations, GCHQ’s offensive push against Britain’s enemies, had become a “major part” of the spy agency’s business. The presentation from 2012 illustrates that two years later GCHQ had continued to shift its workload from defending U.K. cyber networks to going on offense -- targeting specific people or governments. The British government’s intelligence apparatus, which also includes MI5 and MI6, had a role in the 2010 Stuxnet computer virus attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities, according to sources at two intelligence agencies. GCHQ would not comment on the newly published documents or on JTRIG’s “Effects” operations. It would neither confirm nor deny any element of this report, which is the agency’s standard policy. In a statement, a GCHQ spokesperson emphasized that the agency operated within the law. “All of GCHQ's work is carried out in accordance with a strict legal and policy framework,” said the statement, “which ensure that our activities are authorized, necessary and proportionate, and that there is rigorous oversight, including from the Secretary of State, the Interception and Intelligence Services Commissioners and the Parliamentary Intelligence and Security Committee. All of our operational processes rigorously support this position.” Journalist Glenn Greenwald was formerly a columnist at Salon and the Guardian. In late 2012 he was contacted by NSA contractor Edward Snowden, who later provided him with thousands of sensitive documents, and he was the first to report on Snowden’s documents in June 2013 while on the staff of the Guardian. Greenwald has since reported on the documents with multiple media outlets around the world, and has won several journalism awards for his NSA reporting both in the U.S. and abroad. He is now helping launch, and will write for, a new, non-profit media outlet known as First Look Media that will “encourage, support and empower … independent, adversarial journalists.” First published February 8th 2014, 1:14 am Matthew Cole . . Matthew Cole is an investigative producer for NBC News focusing on national security matters. He joined NBC News in 2013 after three years as an investigative producer for ABC News. He has reported from... Expand Bio http://www.nbcnews.com/news/investigations/snowden-docs-british-spies-used-sex-dirty-tricks-n23091
  18. February 07, 2014 22:01 The United States’ top diplomat said this week that the US will not walk away from Japan as tensions worsen in the Far East between America’s Asian ally and China regarding a heated territory dispute in the Pacific. US Secretary of State John Kerry was meeting with Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida on Friday when he reiterated previous remarks from the White House about the Obama administration’s willingness to come to Japan’s aid if events escalate in the East China Sea. Late last year, China declared a portion of the East China Sea between Taiwan and Japan to be Chinese territory, infuriating Japanese officials who had long considered that region to be within their control. In an almost immediate response, the US mobilized in the region and sent surveillance craft and B-52 bombers over the air defense zone in defiance of China’s wishes. "We, the United States, are deeply concerned by the attempt to unilaterally change the status quo in the East China Sea," Vice President Joe Biden said back in December during a news conference held there alongside Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Now speaking in Washington, DC two months later, Kerry this week hammered home the notion that the US won’t abandon Japan should an attack from China emerge. "I... underscored that the United States remains as committed as ever to upholding our treaty obligations with our Japanese allies,” Reuters quoted Kerry as saying, referencing the Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security between both nations signed in 1960. "The United States neither recognizes nor accepts China's declared East China Sea [Air Defense Identification Zone] and the United States has no intention of changing how we conduct operations in the region," he added, according to the Associated Press. "We are deeply committed to maintaining the prosperity and the stability in the Asia-Pacific. And that won't be possible without respect for international law, including freedom of navigation and overflight.” The US has numerous military bases in Japan and across the region, and would be obligated to provide military assistance under the mutual cooperation treaty should China launch a strike in an attempt to strengthen their hold on the disputed territory. China had the second largest defense budget of all nations in the world as of last year, according to a report by HIS Jane’s Aerospace, Defense and Security, but is leaps and bounds behind what the Pentagon spends annually. Japan currently has roughly the fifth-largest budget of its kind, but made headlines back in December when it was revealed that they are in the midst of boosting defense spending by a significant amount for the first time in nearly 20 years. Any assistance from the US Department of Defense would largely outmatch even the might of the second biggest military in the world. “China is firmly opposed to Japan’s relevant actions,” state-owned news agency Xinhua quoted the Chinese minister of defense after news of increased spending came out of Tokyo last December. Kerry is expected to make his way to China next week. If history is any indication, however, he’s likely to be met with strong opposition from opponents who wants the US out of the dispute. Vice President Biden made a visit there himself in the midst of his Asian-tour in late 2013, and a planned trip to China prompted the country’s Global Times newspaper to warn against even introducing the topic while meeting with dignitaries. "The only choice he has if he wants a successful trip [to China] is not to go too far in his words over there," an op-ed published at the time read. "If he openly supports Tokyo and wants to 'send an expedition to punish' Beijing, the Chinese people won't accept it." Following Friday’s meeting, Kishida said he and Kerry agreed they will respond to any action from China in the future “calmly and with resolve.” In the meantime, though, both the US and Japan are interested in other endeavors — like the Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP. According to the AP, the multi-nation trade deal between the US, Japan and 10 other Pacific-region countries was also among the issues discussed by Kishida and Kerry during Friday’s meeting. “[F]inalizing the TPP is one of the most important things that we can do for our countries’ economic futures,” Kerry said, according to the AP, and Kishida reportedly added that has tentatively agreed to cooperate towards a “prompt conclusion” of the negotiations. http://rt.com/usa/kerry-kishida-china-japan-119
  19. By Brian Womack Feb 8, 2014 5:25 AM GMT+1100 Google Inc. (GOOG) surpassed Exxon Mobil Corp. (XOM) as the second-most valuable U.S. company, trailing only Apple (AAPL) Inc. and underscoring the growing role of technology in the economy. Google, which became the worlds largest online advertiser through its dominant search engine, has a market capitalization of $393.5 billion while oil company Exxon is valued at $392.6 billion, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Apple has a market value of $465.5 billion. Software company Microsoft Corp. is No. 4 with $302.1 billion. Technology companies are establishing themselves as key players worldwide as they disrupt industries from retail to finance. Google, which went public in 2004 -- 84 years after Exxon -- has benefited from consumers moving to online services and content, a trend thats being accelerated by the growing popularity of smartphones and tablets. Exxon, the worlds largest oil producer by market value, has been under pressure since it reported fourth-quarter output declined last month. Net income fell 16 percent to $8.35 billion, or $1.91 a share. Sales dropped 3.3 percent to $110.86 billion. Global output for the Irving, Texas-based company dropped for the ninth time in 10 quarters. Google fared better in its fourth quarter. Last month, it reported that revenue, excluding sales passed on to partners, rose 11 percent to $13.6 billion, topping projections of $13.4 billion, amid a busy holiday shopping season. While shares of Exxon have fallen more than 11 percent this year, Googles are up 3.5 percent through yesterday. Googles Rise Google began as a simple search engine when co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin found a better way to sift through the exploding amount of information on the Internet. In the following years, the Mountain View, California-based company added online services such e-mail, maps and calendars. More recently, the company has shown its willing to venture further from its early roots with bets on software for mobile phones, fiber networks and entertainment content. Its also investing in much longer-term projects, such as driverless cars, robotics and balloon-enabled wireless services. Google has retained its leadership in online advertising. The company is expected to take 41 percent of the U.S. digital-ad market this year with the closest No. 2, Facebook Inc., grabbing just 8.2 percent, according to EMarketer Inc. http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-02-07/google-passes-exxon-to-become-second-most-valuable-u-s-company.html
  20. February 04, 2014 22:42 The US National Security Agency likely collects intelligence on congressional lawmakers and members of their staff, a Justice Department official admitted at a committee hearing on Tuesday. Deputy Attorney General James Cole of the US Department of Justice testified during a House Judiciary Committee hearing which was examining proposals to reform the NSA surveillance policies that have been revealed in an ongoing series of disclosures since June. Among the most damning revelations leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden was the realization that the NSA indiscriminately forces companies to provide phone records belonging to millions of Americans. Representative Darrell Issa (R-CA.) pressed Cole Tuesday on whether the NSA dragnet includes the number codes that pertain to congressional offices. “Mr. Cole, do you collect 202-225 and four digits afterwards?” Issa asked, as quoted by the National Journal. “We probably do, Mr. Congressman,” Cole replied. “But we’re not allowed to look at any of those, however, unless we have reasonable, articulable suspicion that those numbers are related to a known terrorist threat.” This admission is not the first time members of Congress were given a clue that their activities might be being monitored. Earlier this month, Senator Bernie Sanders - an Independent who represents Vermont - sent a letter to the intelligence agency asking whether democratically elected legislators are being spied upon. Sanders included in his definition of spying “gathering metadata on calls made from official or person phones, content from websites visited or emails sent, or collecting any other data from a third party not made available to the general public in the regular course of business.” The agency replied to Sanders the next day with a somewhat cryptic response. “NSA’s authorities to collect signals intelligence data include procedures that protect the privacy of US persons. Such privacy protections are built into and cut across the entire process. Members of Congress have the same privacy protections as all US persons,” the NSA stated. House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) used the same hearing to suggest that Glenn Greenwald - one of the few journalists who have published details on the Snowden leak - should be prosecuted. Rogers broached the issue multiple times, claiming that Greenwald is selling classified US intelligence secrets to news organizations. “For personal gain, he’s now selling his access to information, that’s how they’re terming it…A thief selling stolen material is a thief,” Rogers said after an exchange with FBI director James Comey. Greenwald has publicly asserted that he is in possession of a trove of documents leaked by Snowden, with stories based on those documents consistently appearing in international publications over the past six months. “If I’m a newspaper reporter for fill-in-the-blank and I sell stolen material is that legal because I’m a newspaper reporter?” Rogers asked. “If you’re a newspaper reporter and you’re hawking stolen jewelry, it’s still a crime,” Comey said reluctantly. He added that the issue of a journalist selling access to information was “a harder question” because of “First Amendment implications.” The hearing comes just one day after a group of Silicon Valley heavyweights revealed the scope of national security requests they received from the government. Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Tumblr have provided figures from 2012 and 2013 showing that tens of thousands of customer accounts were targeted over a six-month period. http://rt.com/usa/nsa-probably-congress-greenwald-arrest-651
  21. Even though Motorola has been sold to Lenovo, it’s still business as usual for Motorola. They’ve been working to get their affordable, Moto G onto as many carriers and into as many retailers as possible. It’s currently available on Google Play, Motorola.com, Amazon, Best Buy (Verizon prepaid only) and a number of other places. It’s also available on Boost Mobile and Verizon Prepaid. However, now it appears that it’ll be heading to US Cellular as well, at least that’s what an Android Central Tipster is pointing towards. The Moto G is a device that costs under $200, and its actually a pretty good buy for that price. Remember, that’s $179 unlocked, without a contract. Which here in the US a lot of us aren’t used to buying unlocked and off-contract devices, although that appears to be changing now. The Moto G has a 720p 4.5-inch LCD display, with 1GB of RAM, 8GB or 16GB of internal storage, 5MP camera on the back VGA camera on the front with a 2070mAh battery, and Android 4.4 KitKat on board already. Now look back at the price. Sounds like a pretty good deal right? Especially if you’re on Verizon or US Cellular, since there’s no Nexus 5 that’s compatible with those networks. It’s really a great device, and I’m hoping it helps Motorola force their competitors to drive down prices on their handsets. According to this leak, the Moto G is coming to US Cellular on February. And as you can tell from the leak, it’s being announced as “…the first no contract only 3G smartphone from Motorola”. So still no LTE, which we aren’t surprised about. But that sucks on Verizon and US Cellular networks since they are not GSM, therefore, no HSPA+ network like T-Mobile and AT&T, which is quite a bit faster than just standard 3G. How many of you are looking to pick up the Moto G from US Cellular in a few days when it launches? Source
  22. By Grant Gross Feb 11, 2014 1:32 PM The European Union will push for diminished U.S. influence on Internet governance because of “loss of confidence” in the current U.S.-centric model, according to a news report. The European Commission, the executive arm of the E.U., is set Wednesday to propose a series of steps to globalize Internet governance functions, reported The Wall Street Journal, citing an E.U. draft policy paper. The proposal is sparked by revelations of mass U.S. surveillance activities online, the newspaper said. "Large-scale surveillance and intelligence activities have ... led to a loss of confidence in the Internet and its present governance arrangements,” the Journal quotes the policy paper as saying. ICANN (the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers), with headquarters in California, currently oversees Internet governance issues, including the assignment of top-level domains. The U.S. government and ICANN have a long-standing operating agreement, but in recent years, many countries have questioned the arrangement. The European policy paper seems to reject a U.N. takeover of Internet governance functions, by rejecting calls for a new international legal regime. The paper calls for a multistakeholder process that ICANN trumpets as its current model. An ICANN spokesman didn’t have an immediate comment on the proposal, while an E.U. spokeswoman wasn’t immediately available for comment. "The Internet should remain a single, open, free, unfragmented network of networks, subject to the same laws and norms that apply in other areas of our day-to-day lives,” the E.U. document said, according to the Journal. “Its governance should be based on an inclusive, transparent and accountable multistakeholder model.” ICANN President and CEO Fadi Chehade, since taking over the organization in mid-2012, has concentrated on giving ICANN a more international focus, and he’s opened offices in Turkey, Singapore, Beijing and Geneva. Governments including Russia, China and Brazil have called for more international governance of the Internet in recent years. Since last year’s revelations about broad U.S. National Security Agency surveillance programs, Brazil has proposed to wall off its Internet traffic from U.S. networks. http://www.pcworld.com/article/2096880/report-eu-to-push-to-reduce-us-role-in-internet-governance.html
  23. By Russell Brandom on February 10, 2014 09:00 am An American member of al-Qaeda has been identified and located in a hostile nation, and according to a new report by the Associated Press, the Obama administration is struggling with the legal implications of killing him. According to the report, the CIA has determined the suspect is actively plotting attacks in a nation that refuses US military action on its soil, but is waiting on a Justice Department review before taking any action. The Pentagon has already approved the use of lethal force. The idea of a drone strike on an American citizen has faced challenges before, both from Congress and from federal judges, under claims that the program would circumvent the constitutional right to due process. In May, the president issued new oversight for drone strikes and a higher standard for the use of lethal force, both of which will be tested in the current case. The case also mirrors a 2009 strike against cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, the only previous American citizen to have been targeted and killed by drone strike. http://www.theverge.com/2014/2/10/5397306/us-officials-struggle-with-possible-drone-strike-on-american-citizen
  24. BERLIN February 3, 2014 (AP) 36 mins ago (AP) A group of computer hackers and human rights campaigners in Germany say they are suing their government for allegedly breaking the law by aiding foreign spies. The Chaos Computer Club and the International League for Human Rights said they submitted a criminal complaint Monday claiming that Chancellor Angela Merkel and her government tolerated spying and effectively even helped members of the U.S. National Security Agency and Britain's GCHQ to spy on German citizens. The groups point to documents released by NSA leaker Edward Snowden as evidence. In a statement they say the criminal complaint is meant to spark a "long-overdue investigation by federal prosecutors" into alleged lawbreaking by German officials and foreign spies. Federal prosecutors have been considering for months whether to open an investigation of alleged NSA activities. http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/wireStory/hackers-sue-german-government-nsa-spying-22342715 Edit: Chaos Computer Club: http://www.ccc.de/en/
  25. By Jay Syrmopoulos 2 days ago This past Sunday evening former NSA contractor Edward Snowden sat down for an interview with German television network ARD. The interview has been intentionally blocked from the US public, with virtually no major broadcast news outlets covering this story. In addition, the video has been taken down almost immediately every time its posted on YouTube. In contrast, this was treated as a major political event in both print and broadcast media, in Germany, and across much of the world. In the interview, Mr. Snowden lays out a succinct case as to how these domestic surveillance programs undermines and erodes human rights and democratic freedom. He states that his breaking point was seeing Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, directly lie under oath to Congress denying the existence of a domestic spying programs while under questioning in March of last year. Mr. Snowden goes on to state that, The public had a right to know about these programs. The public had a right to know that which the government is doing in its name, and that which the government is doing against the public. It seems clear that the virtual blackout of this insightful interview is yet another deliberate attempt to obfuscate the truth from the view of the American public. The media has continually attempted to shill the official government lies about mass domestic surveillance programs, justifying them as necessary to fight the War on Terror, while attempting to painting Mr. Snowden as a traitor. In regards to accusations that he is a traitor or a foreign agent, he states, If I am traitor, who did I betray? I gave all my information to the American public, to American journalists who are reporting on American issues. If they see that as treason, I think people really need to consider who they think theyre working for. The public is supposed to be their boss, not their enemy. Beyond that as far as my personal safety, Ill never be fully safe until these systems have changed. The attempt to bury this interview by the government/corporate symbiosis has extremely dark implications. Additionally, the fact that government officials have openly talked about assassinating Mr. Snowden cannot be taken lightly, and Mr. Snowden obviously takes these threats to his life very seriously. Sadly, the reality of the US government assassinating an American citizen is not beyond the realm of possibility in the age we live in. http://benswann.com/media-blacks-out-new-snowden-interview-the-government-doesnt-want-you-to-see/#ixzz2s0BPBRUm Edit: The video on this source is, unlike youtube videos, not uploadable however same original video can be watched here with English transcripts
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