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Israel uses deadly weapons on unarmed Palestinian protesters - watchdog

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© Reuters / STR
Protesters run as an Israeli Army truck fires a water cannon, containing a foul-smelling substance, during clashes with stone-throwing protesters in the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh, near Ramallah
Israel is using lethal force on unarmed Palestinian protesters in the West Bank, according to the latest report by the Israeli human rights group B'Tselem. It says 56 people were killed in the clashes, with an average age of 18.

In the 31-page report, B'Tselem accused Israeli security forces of having "extensively and systematically violated" rules that ban deadly response to a non-lethal assault. B'Tselem has been working on the report, 'Crowd Control: Israel's use of Crowd Control Weapons in the West Bank' for the past year.

Only in the past fortnight, the Israeli military shot dead two Palestinians in the clashes.

Since 2005, six people were killed by rubber-coated metal bullets and two by teargas canisters, both supposedly non-lethal weapons which were fired directly at protesters, according to B'Tselem.

Live ammunition was utilized in other 48 cases of death. The average age of those killed was reportedly 18-and-a-half.

The typical riot dispersal tools of security forces include teargas, rubber-coated bullets, stun grenades, live ammunition, skunk and water cannons, pepper spray, and sponge rounds - non-lethal weapons which are not dangerous for long-term health if used correctly.

Display

Report: Pentagon planning massive cybersecurity increase

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The US Department of Defense has approved a fivefold expansion of its cybersecurity force over the coming years in a bid to increase its ability to defend critical computer networks, The Washington Post reported.

Citing unnamed US officials, the newspaper said the Defense Department's Cyber Command, which currently has a staff of about 900, will expand to about 4,900 troops and civilians.

The decision to expand the Cyber Command was made by senior Pentagon officials late last year in recognition of a growing threat in cyberspace, the report said.

Last November, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta conceded that US cybersecurity needed more financial support and human capital.

Eye 1

Pentagon's new massive expansion of 'cyber-security' unit is about everything except defense

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© Photograph: NSA/Getty Images
The National Security Agency (NSA) headquarters in Fort Meade, Maryland. Among other forms of intelligence-gathering, the NSA secretly collects the phone records of millions of Americans, using data provided by telecom firms AT&T, Verizon and BellSouth.
Cyber-threats are the new pretext to justify expansion of power and profit for the public-private National Security State.

As the US government depicts the Defense Department as shrinking due to budgetary constraints, the Washington Post this morning announces "a major expansion of [the Pentagon's] cybersecurity force over the next several years, increasing its size more than fivefold." Specifically, says the New York Times this morning, "the expansion would increase the Defense Department's Cyber Command by more than 4,000 people, up from the current 900." The Post describes this expansion as "part of an effort to turn an organization that has focused largely on defensive measures into the equivalent of an Internet-era fighting force." This Cyber Command Unit operates under the command of Gen. Keith Alexander, who also happens to be the head of the National Security Agency, the highly secretive government network that spies on the communications of foreign nationals - and American citizens.

The Pentagon's rhetorical justification for this expansion is deeply misleading. Beyond that, these activities pose a wide array of serious threats to internet freedom, privacy, and international law that, as usual, will be conducted with full-scale secrecy and with little to no oversight and accountability. And, as always, there is a small army of private-sector corporations who will benefit most from this expansion.

Cell Phone

Google faces legal action over alleged secret iPhone tracking

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Google is facing a fresh privacy battle in the UK over its alleged secret tracking of the internet habits of millions of iPhone users.

An estimated 10 million Britons could have grounds to launch a privacy claim over the way Google circumvented Apple's security settings on the iPhone, iPad and desktop versions of its Safari web browser to monitor their behaviour.

At least 10 British iPhone users have started legal proceedings and dozens more are being lined up, according to Dan Tench, the lawyer behind the action at the London-based firm Olswang.

"This is the first time Google has been threatened with a group claim over privacy in the UK," Tench told the Guardian. "It is particularly concerning how Google circumvented security settings to snoop on its users. One of the things about Google is that it is so ubiquitous in our lives and if that's its approach then it's quite concerning."

Sheriff

NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly: Police to use Tera-Hertz scanners within six months

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The New York Police Department will begin using scanner technology that can see through a person's clothes within the year, according to Commissioner Ray Kelly.

"We've been looking at it for several years, looking at it with the Department of Defense, and also Metropolitan Police in London," he said on CBS News' Face the Nation.

New technology called Tera-Hertz scanners or T-Ray machines can be used to detect whether a person is carrying a concealed firearm. The new device utilizes T-rays, which pass through fabric and paper, but not cannot pass through metals.

Document

ACLU takes on the DEA for seeking prescription records without a warrant

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© Shutterstock
The American Civil Liberties Union is seeking to block the Drug Enforcement Administration from obtaining prescription records without a warrant in Oregon.

The state of Oregon filed suit against the DEA last year after the agency sought to access the Oregon Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP), a database of prescription records for certain drugs. The ACLU and its Oregon affiliate hope to join the lawsuit on behalf of patients and doctors.

"Oregon law and the U.S. Constitution clearly require the DEA to get a warrant just like any other law enforcement agency," David Fidanque of the ACLU of Oregon said. "The ACLU opposed the creation of the Oregon prescription database precisely because we were concerned about protecting the privacy of patients and doctors who have done nothing wrong. The Legislature agreed to add the search warrant requirement to partially address that concern."

Satellite

Japan launches new satellites to boost surveillance

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© AFP Photo
Japan on Sunday launched two satellites to strengthen its surveillance capabilities, including keeping a closer eye on North Korea which has vowed to stage another nuclear test.

One of them was a radar-equipped unit to complete a system of surveillance satellites that will allow Tokyo to monitor any place in the world at least once a day.

The other was a demonstration satellite to collect data for research and development.

The H-IIA rocket blasted off from the southern island of Tanegashima around 1:40 pm (0440 GMT) and released the satellites as planned, according to the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA).

"The rocket flew as planned and released both satellites," JAXA said in a statement, confirming its success.

Handcuffs

Shocking: Reporting factory farm abuses to be considered "Act of Terrorism" if new laws pass

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© schankz/ Shutterstock.com
Three states are the latest states to introduce Ag-Gag laws and lawmakers in 10 other states introduced similar bills in 2011-2012.


How do you keep consumers in the dark about the horrors of factory farms? By making it an "act of terrorism" for anyone to investigate animal cruelty, food safety or environmental violations on the corporate-controlled farms that produce the bulk of our meat, eggs and dairy products.

And who better to write the Animal and Ecological Terrorism Act, designed to protect Big Ag and Big Energy, than the lawyers on the Energy, Environment and Agriculture Task Force at the corporate-funded and infamous American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).

New Hampshire, Wyoming and Nebraska are the latest states to introduce Ag-Gag laws aimed at preventing employees, journalists or activists from exposing illegal or unethical practices on factory farms. Lawmakers in 10 other states introduced similar bills in 2011-2012. The laws passed in three of those states: Missouri, Iowa and Utah. But consumer and animal-welfare activists prevented the laws from passing in Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, Nebraska, New York and Tennessee.

Comment: The following article was carried on SOTT.NET in December 2011. It is obvious that the Ag-Gag laws have been in the 'works' for some time. According to the authors of the article above: "ALEC (Animal and Ecological Terrorism Act)-inspired bills take direct aim at anyone who tries to expose horrific acts of animal cruelty, dangerous animal-handling practices that might lead to food safety issues, or blatant disregard for environmental laws designed to protect waterways from animal waste runoff. In the past, most of those exposes have resulted from undercover investigations of exactly the type Big Ag wants to make illegal":

FBI Says Activists Who Investigate Factory Farms Can Be Prosecuted as Terrorists
The FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force has kept files on activists who expose animal welfare abuses on factory farms and recommended prosecuting them as terrorists, according to a new document uncovered through the Freedom of Information Act.

This new information comes as the Center for Constitutional Rights has filed a lawsuit challenging the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act (AETA) as unconstitutional because its vague wording has had a chilling effect on political activism. This document adds to the evidence demonstrating that the AETA goes far beyond property destruction, as its supporters claim.



War Whore

Kiriakou and Stuxnet: The danger of the still-escalating Obama whistleblower war

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© Photograph: Jacquelyn Martin/AP
Former CIA officer John Kiriakou becomes the only government official convicted in connection with the US torture program: not for having done it, but for having talked about it.
The only official punished for the illegal NSA program was the one who discussed it. The same is now true of torture.

The permanent US national security state has used extreme secrecy to shield its actions from democratic accountability ever since its creation after World War II. But those secrecy powers were dramatically escalated in the name of 9/11 and the War on Terror, such that most of what the US government now does of any significance is completely hidden from public knowledge. Two recent events - the sentencing last week of CIA torture whistleblower John Kirikaou to 30 months in prison and the invasive investigation to find the New York Times' source for its reporting on the US role in launching cyberwarfare at Iran - demonstrate how devoted the Obama administration is not only to maintaining, but increasing, these secrecy powers.

When WikiLeaks published hundreds of thousands of classified diplomatic cables in 2010, government defenders were quick to insist that most of those documents were banal and uninteresting. And that's true: most (though by no means all) of those cables contained nothing of significance. That, by itself, should have been a scandal. All of those documents were designated as "secret", making it a crime for government officials to reveal their contents - despite how insignificant most of it was. That revealed how the US government reflexively - really automatically - hides anything and everything it does behind this wall of secrecy: they have made it a felony to reveal even the most inconsequential and pedestrian information about its actions.

Heart - Black

CIA's secret prison: 'Poland dragging out investigation'

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© AFP Photo/Anne-Christine Poujoulat
A Polish investigation into secret CIA jails is being suppressed because it will embarrass the top echelon of the country's government, lawyers of two men held illegally in one of the CIA's 'black sites' in Poland tell media.

Reportedly, the results of this investigation could link some of Poland's most senior politicians with illegal detention and torture, as well as impact negatively on the relationship between Poland and its key ally, the US, according to Reuters.

The news agency's sources, including lawyers and human rights activists, reveal that the investigation was halted after the original investigators were taken off the case early last year.

The probe began in 2008 with prosecutors from the capital Warsaw, but in early 2012 the prosecutor-general transferred the investigation to the southern city of Krakow.

"The image is of a complete lack of action," Mikolaj Pietrzak, lawyer for Saudi national Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri who says he was detained in a CIA jail on Polish soil, told Reuters. "The case is obviously, in my opinion, under political control ... The most convenient thing politically is for the case to drag on," Pietrzak added.