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Mon, 23 Oct 2017
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Claims of sex orgies, prostitution and porn videos shake Catholic Church in Italy

© courtesy of Creative Commons/Julien Lagarde

The Prato della Valle in Padua, Italy, on Nov. 19, 2005.
Lurid accusations of priests involved in sex orgies, porn videos and prostitution have emerged from several parishes in Italy recently, sending shock waves all the way to the Vatican and challenging the high standards that Pope Francis has demanded of clergy.

In the southern city of Naples, for example, a priest was recently suspended from the parish of Santa Maria degli Angeli over claims he held gay orgies and used internet sites to recruit potential partners whom he paid for sex.

The allegations concerning the Rev. Mario D'Orlando were brought to the attention of the diocese when an anonymous letter was sent to a Naples bishop. D'Orlando denied the charges when he was summoned by the city's archbishop, Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe, but is now facing a formal inquiry conducted by local church officials.

"He has been removed from his position while the investigation is underway," a spokesman for the cardinal told Religion News Service. "I have no further comment."


Wikileaks revelations create fresh doubts about Russian 'hacking'

© REUTERS/Peter Nicholls
Julian Assange
The gauzy allegations of Russia "hacking" the Democrats to elect Donald Trump just got hazier with WikiLeaks' new revelations about CIA cyber-spying and the capability to pin the blame on others.

WikiLeaks' disclosure of documents revealing CIA cyber-spying capabilities underscores why much more skepticism should have been applied to the U.S. intelligence community's allegations about Russia "hacking" last year's American presidential election. It turns out that the CIA maintains a library of foreign malware that could be used to pin the blame for a "hack" on another intelligence service.

That revelation emerged from documents that WikiLeaks published on Tuesday from a CIA archive that WikiLeaks said had apparently been passed around within a community of former U.S. government hackers and contractors before one of them gave WikiLeaks some of the material.


Iran postpones rocket carrier launch fearing US threats

Iran has put off a planned launch of a rocket carrier fearing threats from the United States, Commander of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) Aerospace Force Brigadier General Amir Ali Hajizadeh said.

On Thursday, Hajizadeh said as cited by the Tasnim news agency that IRGC had successfully test-launched a Hormuz-2 domestically-made ballistic missile capable of destroying sea-based targets at a range of up to 300 kilometers (186 miles).

Later, Hajizadeh said as quoted by Tasnim that Iran had prepared a civilian rocket intended for putting satellites into orbit, but, fearing threats from Washington, postponed the planned launch.


Iran confirms new successful missile test as tensions with US mount

© Mahmood Hosseini / TIMA / Reuters
Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps have successfully test-fired a new ballistic missile, officials have said, amid escalating tensions with the United States.

In Iran's latest missile launch, the Hormuz-2 naval missile destroyed a seagoing target from a distance of 250 kilometers, Revolutionary Guards aerospace commander Brigadier General Amir Ali Hajizadeh confirmed to Tasnim News Agency on Thursday.

The agency does not mention the exact date of the test, saying merely it has been conducted "in the past days."


Two instances of spying on Trump now confirmed - Zero connection to Russia found

New evidence found in #Obamagate. Two instances of spying on Trump.

More facts are coming in from the Trump wiretap, #Obamagate scandal, as reported by John Soloman and Sarah Carter from Circa.com.

The journalists reported that there was a warrant issued for a server at Trump Tower.

The FBI investigation into the server was brief, and resulted in no evidence of collusion or communication. There was no basis for the Russia story being peddled by the Democrat party.

The Trump-Putin connection has been fictitious the entire time the Democrats spread the story that Trump was a target. The FBI was never looking at Donald Trump as part of the Russia hacking investigation.


UK army withheld information in N. Ireland inquest into 1971 bombing

© Pixabay
Families of the victims in the 1971 McGurk's Bar bombing in Northern Ireland filed a request with Attorney General John Larkin for a new inquiry into the attack, citing evidence previously withheld by the British Army, a lawyer of victims' relatives said Thursday.

"The recently discovered [British Army] log sheets of the 4th and 5th December 1971... provide clear evidence that the ATO [ammunition technical officer] who examined the scene was convinced from the outset that the bomb had been placed in the entranceway of the pub," solicitor Padraig O Muirigh said in a press release.

The bomb's location was a key question in the investigation, with police reports claiming the Irish Republican Army (IRA) had mistakenly bombed Irish nationalists.

Comment: For more analysis: The British Empire - A Lesson In State Terrorism
In December 1971, a month before Bloody Sunday, an explosion ripped apart McGurk's Bar, a Catholic pub in Belfast, killing 15 people and wounding 17 more. The Army and police claimed to have found evidence that the bomb that caused the blast had gone off inside the bar. Given that McGurk's was a Catholic bar, this implied that it must have been an IRA device that went off 'accidentally'. Forensic evidence later proved that the bomb had clearly been placed outside the pub and that the loyalist pseudo-gang, the protestant paramilitary force UVF, which was controlled by British intelligence, was responsible.


Treasury urges Congress to raise US debt limit to avoid default

© Andrew Kelly / Reuters
The US national debt will reach a statutory limit next week, forcing the Treasury to halt sales of certain securities and rely on "extraordinary measures" to continue paying government bills until Congress can raise or suspend the limit this fall.

The 2015 law that suspended the debt ceiling will expire at midnight on March 15, at which point the US national debt will be just over $20 trillion.

"Treasury anticipates that it will need to start taking certain extraordinary measures in order to temporarily prevent the United States from defaulting on its obligations," Secretary Steven Mnuchin wrote to Congress in a letter dated March 8 and made public on Thursday.

Cowboy Hat

Putin to Netanyahu: Don't judge Iran by 5th century BC, we live in a different world

© Pavel Golovkin / Reuters
Russia's President Vladimir Putin has urged Israel to focus on modern world affairs, after the visiting Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu referred to an ancient legend of an Iranian forefather's attempt to eradicate the Jewish people.

Putin and Netanyahu touched upon a range of issues during their meeting in Moscow, such as the fight against terrorism, the crisis in Syria and Israel's tough relations with Iran.

President Putin began by wishing Prime Minister Netanyahu a happy Purim, which is a traditional Jewish holiday that marks the saving of the Jewish people from Haman, a vizier in the ancient Persian Empire.

Comment: What's not to like about Putin!


Russian Supreme Court upholds first-ever ousting of MP for systematic slacking

© Alexey Vitvitsky / Sputnik
Russian politician Ilya Ponomaryov
The Russian Supreme Court has rejected an appeal by ex-parliamentary deputy Ilya Ponomaryov, who argued that his 2016 ousting from the Lower House for regularly missing sessions and failure to perform other work was discriminatory.

In his appeal, the ex-MP asked the Supreme Court to overturn the decision of a regional court recognizing as lawful the State Duma decision ordering him to be relieved of his duties as Lower House deputy, after he failed to execute his responsibilities as a lawmaker for 30 days or more. The bill allowing this was passed into law in April 2016 and Ponomaryov's ousting took place in June of the same year. He became the first Russian MP to lose his seat due to slacking.

However, the State Duma decision concerning Ponomaryov was preceded by a major corruption scandal that had become the main reason behind his inability to properly perform as a lawmaker.

Bizarro Earth

Snake-oil alert: Encryption doesn't prevent mass-snooping

© twitter.com
The WikiLeaks stash of CIA hacking documents shows tools used by the CIA to hack individual cell-phones and devices. There are no documents yet that suggest mass snooping efforts on a very large scale. Unlike the NSA which has a "collect it all" attitude towards internet traffic and content, the CIA seems to be more interested in individual hacking.

This suggests that the CIA cannot decipher the modern encrypted communication it adversaries use. It therefore has to attack their individual devices. But it does not mean that the CIA cannot engage in mass snooping.

The New York Times description is wrong:
Some technical experts pointed out that while the documents suggest that the C.I.A. might be able to compromise individual smartphones, there was no evidence that the agency could break the encryption that many phone and messaging apps use.

If the C.I.A. or the National Security Agency could routinely break the encryption used on such apps as Signal, Confide, Telegram and WhatsApp, then the government might be able to intercept such communications on a large scale and search for names or keywords of interest. But nothing in the leaked C.I.A. documents suggests that is possible.

Instead, the documents indicate that because of encryption, the agency must target an individual phone and then can intercept only the calls and messages that pass through that phone. Instead of casting a net for a big catch, in other words, C.I.A. spies essentially cast a single fishing line at a specific target, and do not try to troll an entire population.

"The difference between wholesale surveillance and targeted surveillance is huge," said Dan Guido, a director at Hack/Secure, a cybersecurity investment firm. "Instead of sifting through a sea of information, they're forced to look at devices one at a time."
Snake-oil alert: Right diagnosis, wrong conclusion and therapy.

Comment: So, in other words, we are doomed by our own creative genius and those who take advantage of it. Smoke signals, anyone?