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Sat, 18 Sep 2021
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Tunisia Calls Up Reservists

Continued violence raises questions about stability as the interim government struggles to stem unrest.

Tunisia has asked military reservists to report for duty in a new drive to restore order, three weeks after an uprising overthrew the north African nation's long-term president.

Tuesday's order came as security officials in the coalition government said there was a conspiracy by officials close to the old administration to spread chaos and take back power.


The interim government was put in place after Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali, the Tunisian president, fled to Saudi Arabia.

After days of gunfights and looting immediately after Ben Ali was pushed out, it had seemed security was being restored but since last week violence has flared again, raising new questions about Tunisia's stability.

Recycle

Sheik al-Torture is now a democrat

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© Unknown
The Egyptian revolution is being dissolved right in front of the world's eyes by an optical illusion.

The protesters who have been on the streets for two weeks still want President Hosni Mubarak out. Now. Yet United States President Barack Obama is firmly in not-so-fast mode, glad that "Egypt is making progress". Obama has not mentioned even once the capital words "free elections".

Washington's "orderly transition" road map - fully supported by Tel Aviv and European capitals - is a facelift. Mubarak stepping down has become an afterthought; the already anointed successor is Vice President Omar Suleiman, the former head of the Mukhabarat, whom the protesters call "Sheik al-Torture".

Sheik al-Torture already behaves as a president - while the actual president is still inhabiting his palace, but as a ghost. The regime, a brutal military dictatorship, remains an immovable subject - even while being denounced by the protesters as illegitimate from A to Z, from the executive to the legislative. The key point is that acting president Suleiman is the regime. If French philosopher Jean Baudrillard was alive, he would say this revolution never took place - except on the world's television screens.

Handcuffs

Tell Your Representative to Reject the PATRIOT Act Sneak Attack Before Today's Vote!

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© Unknown
Tell your Congressperson to vote NO on the USA PATRIOT Act in today's vote! The PATRIOT reauthorization bill being fast-tracked to the House floor contains NO reforms to the law, and will be voted upon with NO debate and NO opportunity for amendments to add oversight and accountability. Help stop this sneak attack on your civil liberties: there are only hours left to visit our Action Center and tell your Representative to vote "NO" on H.R. 514, the PATRIOT extension bill.

In late 2009, when PATRIOT reauthorization was originally being considered by Congress, many important PATRIOT reform measures were proposed and debated, and a bill filled with powerful new checks and balances was reported favorably out of the House Judiciary Committee. But, as Congress ran up against the renewal deadline, it decided that there was not enough time to fully consider those reforms. So, in February 2010, Congress instead extended the "sunsetting" sections of the law until the end of this February, with a promise to fully consider the issues before the next deadline.

But Congress is breaking its promise to consider reforms to the PATRIOT Act. In a legislative sneak attack, the new Republican leadership in the House is trying push Representatives to rubber-stamp another PATRIOT renewal. The House leaders just announced on Friday that they'll be "suspending the rules" so that a bill introduced by Rep. Sensenbrenner to extend the expiring PATRIOT provisions until December 8, 2011 will go to the House floor for a vote TODAY, without any debate and without any opportunity for anyone to offer amendments to improve the bill.

Evil Rays

FCC: Presidential Emergency Alerts to be Tested

EAS
© n/a
Everybody has heard the national Emergency Alert System (EAS). Those familiar "duck calls" that reassure listeners "THIS is a test...this is ONLY a test..."

The FCC is planning an upgrade to the tests by including presidential announcements in the system.

Lisa Fowlkes, deputy chief of the Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau of the FCC, explained to the Federal Drive the Presidential Alert isn't new.

"The primary goal is to provide the President with a mechanism to communicate with the American public during times of national emergency," said Fowlkes. The change, she said, is that prior to last week's order there was no rule in place to call for or allow a test from top to bottom.

Fowlkes said, "There's never been a test from top to bottom where it's issued by FEMA and it goes straight down to all the different levels of EAS to the American public. So this is a way for us to glean, okay, if there were an actual emergency and the federal government needed to activate the Presidential EAS, making sure that it actually works the way it's designed to."

Padlock

Torture complaints hit Bush on ninth anniversary of key decision

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Nine years ago today, the Bush administration decided that international law does not apply to prisoners of war. It was a watershed moment in US history, resulting in a policy of torture that pervaded and darkened the Bush years, and inflamed anti-American sentiment abroad.

To mark that grim anniversary, two men who claim to have been victims of torture filed official complaints in Geneva, Switzerland, seeking a ruling on universal jurisdiction.

If the court sides with their complaints, US President George W. Bush likely would not face arrest; he would not, however, enjoy free travel around the world.

Megaphone

FCC Net Neutrality is a Regulatory 'Trojan Horse,' EFF Says

Trojan Horse
© Wired
The Federal Communications Commission's net-neutrality decision opens the FCC to "boundless authority to regulate the internet for whatever it sees fit," the Electronic Frontier Foundation is warning.

The civil rights group says the FCC's action in December, which was based on shaky legal authority, creates a paradox of epic proportions. The EFF favors net neutrality but worries whether the means justify the ends.

Megaphone

World leaders meet to discuss cyberwar rules of engagement

Hague convention for state-backed hacking?

Rules of engagement for the deployment of cyber-weapons need to be developed, an international security conference is due to be told later today.

The influential EastWest Institute is due to present proposals for the cyberspace equivalent of the Geneva convention at the Munich Security Conference, which has included a debate on cyber-security on its agenda for the first time this year. Delegates to the conference include UK Prime Minister David Cameron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

The discussion on rules for cyber-conflict follows months after the infamous Stuxnet worm was blamed for infecting industrial control systems and sabotaging centrifuges at controversial Iranian nuclear facilities. Some have described the malware as the world's first cyber-weapon though cyber-espionage in many guises has undoubtedly been practiced by intelligence agencies across the world for many years.

Footprints

Possible Exile in Germany Considered For Mubarak

Hosni Mubarak
© Reuters
Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak: Will he come to Germany for medical treatment?

Will Hosni Mubarak travel to Germany as a patient as part of a graceful exit strategy for the Egyptian president? Plans for a possible hospital stay here appear to be more concrete than previously believed. Spiegel Online has learned that a luxury clinic near Baden-Baden is being favored.

The United States government's scenario for an end to the political chaos in Egypt appears to be this: President Hosni Mubarak travels to Germany for a "prolonged health check" that would offer the 82-year-old a dignified departure. Over the weekend, the New York Times reported that secret talks to that effect were being held between the US government and Egyptian military officials.

According to information obtained by Spiegel Online, plans for a possible hospital stay in Germany are far more concrete than had been assumed so far. Talks are already being held with suitable hospitals, particularly with the Max-Grundig-Klinik Bühlerhöhe in the southwestern town of Bühl near Baden-Baden, Spiegel Online has learned from sources close to the clinic. The hospital management declined to comment.

Display

DHS Seizes Websites for Merely Linking to Copyrighted Material

DHS seizure notice
© DHS
Apparently the Department of Homeland Security is now authorized to rewrite and enforce copyright infringement laws. In a stunning precedent, the recent round of domain seizures to shut down websites that allowed illegal streaming of the Super Bowl also included a few other websites that were seized simply for linking to infringing content.

Mike Masnick of TechDirt, who received and published a DHS seizure affidavit, had this to say in a must-read article:
...the affidavit itself is chock full of legal and technical errors, compounded by assertions-as-facts that seem to have little basis in reality. This is immensely troubling, especially given that the specific legal issues here are hardly settled law, and Homeland Security seems to be acting as if these cases are no brainers, allowing them to flat out seize domains, even when those websites have been declared perfectly legal in their home countries.

The biggest problem is that Homeland Security seems to suggest -- without a hint of doubt -- that merely linking to infringing content is criminal copyright infringement. That is a huge stretch. The affidavit appears to make it clear that it believes that these sites are guilty of direct criminal copyright infringement, rather than any sort of contributory copyright infringement. As we've discussed in the past, the courts have tended to say that embedding and linking can be contributory infringement, but not direct infringement. Homeland Security and ICE may be in for a bit of legal trouble trying to prove that embedding is direct infringement.
Until these unprecedented seizures, online copyright infringement was dealt with by simply asking infringing websites to remove the material and replace it with a link to the source. Previous cases have normally been battled out in civil court. Alternative news giant, Matt Drudge, is currently fighting a seemingly ridiculous civil lawsuit over linking to news stories.

Bad Guys

The case for paranoid-schizoid perception of reality: Israel's Army Chief Ashkenazi says to prepare for all-out war

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© Uri Porat
Ashkenazi speaks
Given recent changes in the Middle East, Israel must prepare for a battle in several theaters, outgoing IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi said Monday at the Herzliya Conference.

"The connection between the different players requires us to contend with more than one theater," he said.

The radical camp in the Middle East is gaining strength, Ashkenazi warned, adding that "the moderate camp among the traditional Arab leadership is weakening." He also made note of what he characterized as the "fascinating phenomenon" whereby power is shifting to the people of the region thanks to online social networks.