Puppet MastersS

Bad Guys

US Feds shut down file-sharing website

One of the world's largest file-sharing sites was shut down Thursday, and its founder and several company executives were charged with violating piracy laws, federal prosecutors said.

An indictment accuses Megaupload.com of costing copyright holders more than $500 million in lost revenue from pirated films and other content. The indictment was unsealed one day after websites including Wikipedia and Craigslist shut down in protest of two congressional proposals intended to thwart online piracy.

The Justice Department said in a statement said that Kim Dotcom, formerly known as Kim Schmitz, and three others were arrested Thursday in New Zealand at the request of U.S. officials. Two other defendants are at large.

Megaupload was unique not only because of its massive size and the volume of downloaded content, but also because it had high-profile support from celebrities, musicians and other content producers who are most often the victims of copyright infringement and piracy. Before the website was taken down, it contained endorsements from Kim Kardashian, Alicia Keys and Kanye West, among others.

The Hong Kong-based company listed Swizz Beatz, a musician who married Keys in 2010, as its CEO.

Before the site was taken down, it posted a statement saying allegations that it facilitated massive breaches of copyright laws were "grotesquely overblown."

Comment: Do watch this very informative video for more information on the the behind-the-scenes manipulation of the entire piracy "problem".


China Sentences Activist to 10 Years in Prison For Subversion, Relative Says

Beijing - Chinese authorities sentenced a democracy activist to 10 years in prison for subversion, a relative said Thursday, the third dissident found guilty of similar charges in less than a month.

A court in Wuhan sentenced Li Tie, 52, for "subversion of state power," according to a relative who did not want to be named for fear of punishment.

"Nothing in the world could prepare our family for this outcome; the tears from his mother's eyes haven't stopped running," the relative said in a phone interview. "This trial was never about the law; it has been about human decency -- the lack of it."

Bad Guys

Canada: Supreme Court to Decide Whether to Hear Syria, Egypt Torture Cases

Abdullah Almalki
© Mike Carroccetto/Canwest News ServiceAbdullah Almalki
The Ontario Superior Court of Justice. The Federal Court of Canada. The Federal Court of Appeal. A federal commission of inquiry.

And now, the Supreme Court of Canada.

Abdullah Almalki just hopes this latest milestone lasts longer than a few short seconds. On Thursday, Almalki and two other men, who were tortured in Syria and Egypt, find out whether Canada's highest court will hear their appeal.

Almalki, Ahmad El Maati and Muayyed Nureddin are suing the federal government for complicity in their detention and torture in Syria and Egypt, cases that now date back more than a decade.

The men accuse the government of hiding behind Section 38 of the Canada Evidence Act, which allows the government to withhold sensitive information to protect national security.

They are appealing a ruling by the Federal Court of Appeal that sided with the government in keeping information about their cases from being released.

Heart - Black

Panetta: Could be 19,000 Military Sex Assaults Each Year

U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said Wednesday that the Pentagon is preparing new initiatives to try to curb sexual assaults in the military -- a problem he believes could be six times greater than reported.

Panetta said 3,191 sex assault cases were reported in the military last year, but because so few victims come forward, he believes the real number is closer to 19,000 assaults. In 2010, 3,158 cases were reported.

"It is an affront to the basic American values we defend and it is a stain on the good honor of the great majority of our troops and our families," said Panetta during a press conference at the Pentagon.


Wikipedia - After the Blackout

© The Associated Press
Breathe again students, relax fact-checking journalists, Wikipedia is working once more - so let's step back and evaluate Wednesday's blackout. Did the dramatic gesture made by the online encyclopaedia and other websites really change anything?

And before we get started - yes, I know we should not rely on Wikipedia as an unimpeachable source so please take my first few words with a pinch of salt. And I also know that it was easy enough to get round the blackout if you wanted, but that's really not the point.

The aim of the gesture was to raise the profile of the debate about America's proposed anti-piracy laws, Sopa and Pipa, and to try to change the terms of that debate. And it looks this morning as though the blackout succeeded on both counts.

The Wikimedia Foundation, the organisation behind the site, reported this morning that 162 million people had "experienced the Wikipedia blackout landing page" in the space of 24 hours.


Best of the Web: Update on SOPA and PIPA: What's Happening With the Web Censorship Bills?

In the face of massive Internet protest today, key senate and house backers of the SOPA and PIPA web censorship bills - including Senators Marco Rubio, Roy Blunt, John Cornyn, Orrin Hatch, John Boozman and Jim DeMint, and Representatives Ben Quayle and Lee Terry - have dropped their support. So have a number of other senators.

At least 17,000 websites allegedly joined in the protest.

Indeed, even several congresspeople joined in the protest. Here's what Congresswoman Anna Eshoo's homepage looks like right now:

Bizarro Earth

Copyrights on Foreign Works Upheld by U.S. Supreme Court

© H. Darr Beiser/USATJustice Stephen Breyer wrote in his dissent that the statute inhibits the dissemination of millions of foreign works.
The U.S. Supreme Court upheld a federal law that gave copyright protection to millions of foreign-produced books, movies and musical pieces and may undermine Google Inc.'s effort to create an online library.

Today's 6-2 ruling takes works by Alfred Hitchcock, Pablo Picasso, Igor Stravinsky and J.R.R. Tolkien out of the public domain, barring use without permission of the copyright owner. The decision is a victory for the film and music industries and a setback for Google, which had said it would lose access to many of the 15 million books it wants to make available online.

The justices rejected arguments from orchestra conductors, educators, performers, film archivists and movie distributors. They argued that the 1994 law violates the constitutional provision that lets Congress set up a copyright system, as well as the Constitution's free-speech guarantee.

The law "lies well within the ken of the political branches," Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote for the majority. Justices Stephen Breyer and Samuel Alito dissented, and Justice Elena Kagan didn't take part in the case.


UK: Gibson Inquiry into MI5 and MI6 Torture Collusion Claims Abandoned

Ken Clarke promises another judge-led inquiry into claims by two Libyans once police investigations are completed

The judge-led inquiry into the UK's alleged role in the torture and rendition of detainees after the 9/11 attacks, already boycotted by most human rights groups, has been scrapped by the government.

The surprise decision to abandon the investigation led by Sir Peter Gibson into MI5 and MI6 officers' participation, which carried out only preparatory research, was announced in parliament by the justice secretary, Ken Clarke.

The Detainee Inquiry will produce a report for the government before being dissolved. Clarke stressed that the government was still committed to holding an independent inquiry once police complete their checks. Parliament's intelligence and security committee, which is examining MI6 links with Muammar Gaddafi's regime, has nonetheless pledged to continue its work.

Last week the Crown Prosecution Service and the Metropolitan police established a joint panel to look into evidence that the intelligence agencies were involved in the secret rendition of two Libyans back to Gaddafi's regime in 2004.


A Black Day for Internet Privacy in Canada: Expert

© unknown
U.S. anti-piracy laws called heavy-handed

Canadians would be affected if online anti-piracy laws proposed south of the border get passed by Congress, say advocates of free speech and privacy. The laws - The Stop Online Piracy Act and the PROTECT IP Act, known as SOPA and PIPA - would require Internet-service providers to block access to any site accused of posting, or linking to, copyrighted content.

It also would force search engines to remove the offending sites from their databases and prevent advertisers from giving the site their business.

Critics say the law would make media companies judge and jury of copyright infringement, rather than having the process resolved in court.

They also say it's a blatant attack on freedom of expression.

"The goal, in many ways, of SOPA is to reach beyond the borders of the United States," said Michael Geist, a University of Ottawa law professor and copyright expert.

Star of David

Pressure Israel, Not Iran. Israel has an Arsenal of 200-300 Nuclear Weapons...

Israeli fighter jets
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Neocons in Israel and the United States are escalating their rhetoric to prepare us for war with Iran. Even the infamous John Yoo, architect of George W. Bush's illegal torture and spying programs, is calling on the Republican presidential candidates to "begin preparing the case for a military strike to destroy Iran's nuclear program."

Under the 1968 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), Iran has the legal right to produce nuclear power for peaceful purposes. The United Nations International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has found no evidence that Iran is developing a nuclear weapons program. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta recently said on CBS that Iran is not currently trying to build a nuclear weapon.

Nevertheless, the United States and Israel are mounting a campaign of aggression against Iran. The United States has imposed punishing sanctions against Iran that are crippling Iran's economy, and pressuring other countries and strong-arming financial institutions to stop buying oil from Iran, the world's third largest exporter. The Obama administration is also preparing new punitive measures that target the Central Bank of Iran. And the House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly to pass the Iran Threat Reduction Act of 2011 which would outlaw any contact between U.S. government employees and some Iranian officials.