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Hacker in chief: Obama given right to launch 'preemptive' cyberattacks

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© AFP Photo / Jewel Samad
A secret review has concluded that US President Obama has the authority to launch a preemptive cyber attack on any country on the basis that they are considered a 'cyber threat' - even if there is no concrete evidence of this threat.

It may not be long before the US conducts crippling attacks on foreign soil with little more than a mouse click, thereby sparing itself the effort of sending its military oversees or declaring war.

The Obama administration is currently drawing up a set of rules about how the US military can defend against or conduct cyberattacks, the New York Times reports. The Obama administration is also allowing intelligence agencies to declare potential threats. But even if these threats are nothing more than a suspicion without evidence, the military now has the authority to attack foreign nations, regardless of whether or not the US is involved in a conflict with them.

This would not only spare the US from sending its own troops overseas, but it would also allow the administration to make decisions without the deliberation that usually occurs before sending Americans into a conflict zone. And if the administration conducts an attack based on false premises, it would be saved the embarrassment that occurred when President George W. Bush sent thousands of US troops into a war with Iraq that lasted nearly 9 years, based on the false premise that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction and was a security threat.

Chalkboard

Maryland county school board to own all students' work with copyright policy

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© Shutterstock
A county school board in Maryland has proposed a copyright policy that would allow it to take ownership of all work produced by students and faculty - even work created off campus during personal time.

A Prince George's County Board of Education proposal obtained by WTOP says that "any works" created by students or employees "are properties of the Board of Education even if created on the employee's or student's time and with the use of their materials."

University of Missouri law professor David Rein told The Washington Post that some universities have "sharing agreements" with students and faculty, but he had never heard of a local school board of trying to profit from a student's work.

Sheriff

NYPD accused of violating civil rights agreement in new lawsuit

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© Shutterstock
The New York Police Department's surveillance of the local Muslim community constitutes a violation of rules governing the department's monitoring of political activity, according to a lawsuit filed Monday in U.S. District Court.

The Associated Press reported that the suit, filed by a group of civil rights lawyers, accuses the department of breaking from the Handschu guidelines (PDF), established in 1985. The agreement sets rules for how long the department can conduct an investigation, as well as for the types of records it can keep.

Stormtrooper

Guantánamo judge: defence cannot prove CIA eavesdropping on meetings

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© Photograph: Paul Richards/AFP/Getty Images
Al-Nashiri has been imprisoned at Guantánamo since 2006, after being held by the CIA in a series of secret prisons.
After surprise incident last week, lawyers for accused USS Cole bomber fear privileged conversations are being monitored

A judge at Guantánamo Bay refused Monday to suspend a pretrial hearing for the prisoner accused of orchestrating the attack on the USS Cole, ruling that defense lawyers had offered no evidence supporting their suspicion that the CIA can eavesdrop on private conversations with their client.

Army Col James Pohl said that unless the defense can offer evidence of eavesdropping, the hearing for Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri would continue.

"I can't stop a trial simply because something might happen," Pohl told defense attorney navy Lt Cmdr Stephen Reyes during a heated exchange at the start of the scheduled four-day hearing.

Health

Egyptian protester dies after suspected police torture

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© Photograph: Nameer Galal/Demotix/Corbis
Egyptian protesters at the funeral of Mohamed el-Guindy, who is said to have been beaten and strangled by police.
President promises investigation into death of Mohamed el-Guindy, days after footage of police violence sparked fury

An Egyptian protester has died after allegedly being beaten and strangled for four days by police, just days after another high-profile case of alleged police brutality, strengthening fears among the opposition that Egypt's new democratically elected government has as little respect for human rights as the dictatorship it replaced.

According to official hospital records, Mohamed el-Guindy died on Monday as a result of injuries sustained in a car crash. But activists allege that Guindy, a 28-year-old activist arrested following protests in Tahrir Square on 27 January, was left in a coma by police after officers took him to a police camp, strangled him with a cord and beat him until his ribs and jaw cracked - before abandoning him at a hospital in central Cairo on 31 January.

"You couldn't recognise his face from a photograph, it was so swollen," said Islam Khalifa, a human rights lawyer investigating Guindy's death, who visited him in hospital before he died. "It was horrible."

Snakes in Suits

Noam Chomsky: Obama would have been a 'moderate Republican' several decades ago

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MIT professor and widely renowned scholar Noam Chomsky said on Thursday that President Barack Obama is "basically what would have been called several decades ago, a moderate Republican."

His comments came during an interview with The Young Turks' Cenk Uygur.

Chomsky went on to say that Obama was "kind of a mainstream centrist with some concerns for liberal ideas and conceptions, but not much in the way of principal or commitment." Chomsky told Uygur that he regarded the president's stance on some issues as "pretty reactionary," offering civil liberties as an example.

Handcuffs

Kuwaiti youth gets 5 years in jail for insulting emir on Twitter

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© AFP Photo / Yasser Al-Zayyat
Kuwait opposition supporters
A Kuwaiti opposition youth activist has been given the maximum sentence of five years in prison for insulting the 'inviolable' emir on Twitter in the third case of its kind since January, following a crackdown on free speech in the country.

Mohammad Eid al-Ajmi will likely appeal his case, despite the fact that his sentence took "immediate effect," said lawyer Mohammad al-Humaidi, director of the Kuwait Society for Human Rights.

The sentencing was the latest in a series of similar prosecutions for criticizing the 'immune' emir on social media.

Last month, the same court sentenced Ayyad al Harbi and Rashed al Enezi to two years in jail each on similar charges of defaming the emir of Kuwait, the third such case in less than two months. Both are awaiting appeals court rulings.

Enezi did not mention the emir by name in the tweet, but the court said that it was clear who he intended to insult.

Bad Guys

Greek police accused of beating suspected bank robbers in custody

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© Photograph: EPA
Greek police escort one of the suspected bank robbers following their arrest.
Police mugshots of suspects appear to show signs of bruising to their faces, despite images being digitally manipulated

Greek authorities are under pressure to explain police pictures of four suspected bank robbers, three of whom are also suspected of being members of a domestic terrorist group, who appear to have been brutally beaten in custody.

The four men, aged 20 to 24, were arrested on Friday in northern Greece shortly after a bank robbery. Police released mugshots and asked for further information from the public.

Star of David

New York City officials threaten funding of Brooklyn College over Israel event

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© Photograph: AP Photo/Gino Domenico
In 1999, then-New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani threatened to cut off funds for the Brooklyn Museum unless it withdrew art exhibits he found "offensive".
In defense of Israel, liberal officials are copying Giuliani's 1999 termination of funding for a museum exhibiting "offensive" art

On Saturday, I wrote about the numerous New York City officials (including multiple members of the US House of Representatives) who have predictably signed onto the Alan-Derwshowitz-led attack on academic freedom at Brooklyn College. This group of Israel advocates and elected officials is demanding that the college's Political Science department rescind its sponsorship of an event featuring two advocates of the BDS movement aimed at stopping Israeli occupation and settlements.

The threat to academic freedom posed by this growing lynch mob is obvious: if universities are permitted to hold only those events which do not offend state officials and "pro-Israel" fanatics such as Alan Dershowitz, then "academic freedom" is illusory. But on Sunday, that threat significantly intensified, as a ranking member of the New York City Council explicitly threatened to cut off funding for the college if his extortionate demands regarding this event are not met. From a letter to BC President Karen Gould, issued by Council Assistant Majority Leader Lew Fidler and signed by nine other members of the City Council (the full letter is embedded below):
"Among this City's diversity - and the student body of Brooklyn College - there are a significant number of people who would, and do, find this event to be offensive. . . .

"A significant portion of the funding for CUNY schools comes directly from the tax dollars of the people of the State and City of New York. Every year, we legislators are asked for additional funding to support programs and initiatives at these schools and we fight hard to secure those funds. Every one of those dollars given to CUNY, and Brooklyn College, means one less dollar going to some other worthy purpose. We do not believe this program is what the taxpayers of our City - many of who would feel targeted and demonized by this program - want their tax money to be spent on.

"We believe in the principle of academic freedom. However, we also believe in the principle of not supporting schools whose programs we, and our constituents, find to be odious and wrong."

MIB

COINTELPRO in the UK: Undercover Police officers stole identities of dead children to become 'anti-capitalist hippies'

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John Dines, an undercover police sergeant, as he appeared in the early 1990s when he posed as John Barker, a protester against capitalism
Undercover officers created aliases based on details found in birth and death records, Guardian investigation reveals

Britain's largest police force stole the identities of an estimated 80 dead children and issued fake passports in their names for use by undercover police officers.

The Metropolitan police secretly authorised the practice for covert officers infiltrating protest groups without consulting or informing the children's parents.

The details are revealed in an investigation by the Guardian, which has established how over three decades generations of police officers trawled through national birth and death records in search of suitable matches.

Undercover officers created aliases based on the details of the dead children and were issued with accompanying identity records such as driving licences and national insurance numbers. Some of the police officers spent up to 10 years pretending to be people who had died.

The Met said the practice was not "currently" authorised, but announced an investigation into "past arrangements for undercover identities used by SDS [Special Demonstration Squad] officers".

Comment: They have no intention whatsoever of investigating why 'these gruesome practices' are allowed to happen. They're psychopaths doing whatever it takes to keep tabs on what normal people are up to; how could they do differently?