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Introducing CISPA: Even More Censorship Than SOPA

cybersecurity graphic
© n/a
First, there were ACTA, then PIPA, then SOPA, now there's CISPA, the Cyber Intelligence and Sharing Protection Act, the worst of all.

Though it has not met yet blasts of criticism as the first three cyberspying acts, US lawmakers have already come up with another authoritarian bill that would give them carte blanche to spy on the web in the name of cybersecurity. Like a bad rash, these bills keep coming back, only worse and more irritating than the preceding and nixed ones.

H.R. 3523, a piece of legislation with the title Cyber Intelligence and Sharing Protection Act, has a very unholy downside. It's been crafted under the ruse of being a necessary tool in our eternal war against cyber attacks. But the fuzzy verbiage packed within the pages of the law could give Congress the clout to dance around existing exemptions to online privacy laws and basically monitor, censor and stop any online communication that it believes to be disruptive to the government or private parties.

Critics have already jumped on CISPA for the power it seemingly will give to any federal entity that claims it is threatened by online interactions, but unlike the Stop Online Piracy Act and Protect IP ACTS that were tossed on the Capital Building floor after very successful online campaigns to defeat them, widespread knowledge of what this latest brainchild "law" will do has not reared its ugly head yet, at least not to the same degree.

But Kendall Burman of the Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT) told Russia Today (RT.com) that Congress is currently looking at a slew of bills that could eventually become law, but for the persistence of the groups that openly advocate an open Internet. It's amazing how eager Congress and the NSA are to spy in any way possible on the American people. We are the new enemy, it seems. Burman warns that provisions in CISPA are real reasons to worry what the realities could turn out to be if it ends up on the desk of our ever-vigilant President Obama. So far CISPA has had its coming-out party, introduced, referred and reported by the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, and expects to put to a vote in the coming weeks.

Eye 1

Pity Ploy: Sarkozy Plays Contrite to Gain Last Minute Votes

sarkozy
© Unknown
Nicolas Sarkozy is expected to gain 25.5% of the vote in the first-round vote, according to the latest opinion polls.
Nicolas Sarkozy apologised for his mis-steps Friday, the final day of campaigning in France's presidential election, while his main rival Francois Hollande was increasingly confident of victory.

The latest polls ahead of Sunday's first round point to a resounding win for the Socialist in the May 6 run-off against Sarkozy, dogged by criticism his flashy and overbearing style lowered the standing of France's head of state.

"Perhaps the mistake I made at the start of my mandate is not understanding the symbolic dimension of the president's role and not being solemn enough in my acts," a contrite Sarkozy told RTL radio.

"A mistake for which I would like to apologise or explain myself and which I will not make again," he said, insisting: "Now, I know the job."

Telephone

Developments in British Phone-Hacking Scandal

Rupert Murdoch
© PA
News of the world, Rupert Murdoch leaving News International
Developments in a phone-hacking scandal involving British newspapers owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp.:

November 2005: News of the World royal reporter Clive Goodman writes story saying Prince William has a knee injury. Buckingham Palace complaint prompts police inquiry.

August 2006: Goodman arrested along with private investigator Glenn Mulcaire for suspected hacking into voicemails of royal officials.

January 2007: Goodman jailed for four months; Mulcaire given six-month sentence. News of the World editor Andy Coulson resigns but insists he had not known about the hacking.

May 2007: Conservative Party leader David Cameron taps Coulson to be his media adviser.

July 2009: Coulson tells parliamentary committee he never "condoned use of phone hacking."

September 2009: Rebekah Brooks, former editor of the News of the World and its sister paper The Sun, named chief executive of News International, News Corp.'s British arm.

February 2010: Parliamentary committee finds no evidence that Coulson knew about phone hacking but states it's "inconceivable" that no one apart from royal correspondent Goodman knew about it.

Rocket

North Korea Threatens War as Seoul Unveils Missile

Image
© Agence France-Presse
File photo shows missiles displayed at the war museum in Seoul. North Korea demanded Thursday that South Korea apologise for what it called insults during major anniversary festivities, or face a "sacred war", as Seoul unveiled a new missile to deter its neighbour
North Korea demanded Thursday that South Korea apologise for what it called insults during major anniversary festivities, or face a "sacred war", as Seoul unveiled a new missile to deter its neighbour.

Regional tensions have risen since Pyongyang went ahead with a long-range rocket launch last Friday, defying international calls to desist.

The event was to have been a centrepiece of celebrations marking the 100th anniversary Sunday of the "Day of the Sun", the birthday of Kim Il-Sung who founded the communist nation and the dynasty which still rules it.

But the rocket, which the North said was designed to launch a satellite, disintegrated after some two minutes of flight.

"The puppet regime of traitors must apologise immediately for their grave crime of smearing our Day of Sun festivities," said a government statement on Pyongyang's official news agency.

Otherwise, it said, the North Korean people and military "will release their volcanic anger and stage a sacred war of retaliation to wipe out traitors on this land".

Eye 1

CISPA: Say Hello To Big Brother


Bomb

Julian Assange's lawyer 'prevented from boarding flight at Heathrow'

Jennifer Robinson, a lawyer for the WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.
© Patrick Semansky/AP
Jennifer Robinson, a lawyer for the WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.
Jennifer Robinson says she was told she was on a 'watch list' and would need official approval to return to her native Australia


A lawyer for the WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange, has said she was stopped at Heathrow airport and told she was on a watch list requiring official approval before she could return to her native Australia.

Jennifer Robinson said a member of airport security told her she "must have done something controversial" and that they would have to contact the Australian high commission in London before letting her on her flight.

The Australian human rights lawyer was later allowed on to a plane bound for Sydney, where she is due to speak at the Commonwealth Law Conference on Friday.

Australia's department of foreign affairs said it was not aware of any restrictions on Robinson's travel and added that its high commission in London had no record of receiving a call from the British authorities about her movements.

Stormtrooper

The inconvenient truth the Pentagon would prefer we didn't see

The US commander in Afghanistan, General John Allen
© Massoud Hossaini/AFP/Getty Images
The US commander in Afghanistan, General John Allen, has promised an inquiry into the photos published by the LA Times.
It is not photographs of US soldiers mocking Afghan insurgents' bodies that incites violence, but the plain fact of US occupation

The LA Times released new photos Wednesday of US soldiers posing in a celebratory manner with the corpses of dead Afghan suicide bombers. The photos were provided by a soldier from the 82nd Airborne division who felt that they revealed a "breakdown in leadership and discipline", with the hope that the photos would force the Army to correct this situation.

However, US military officials requested the LA Times not publish any of the photos. The Pentagon statement argued that the photos "do not represent the character and professionalism of the great majority of our troops in Afghanistan" and that the photos "have the potential to indict" all of our troops in Afghanistan "in the minds of local Afghans, inciting violence and perhaps causing needless casualties".

Bad Guys

Goldman Sachs Tied to the Sordid World of the Monied Elite

Goldman Sachs death star
© n/a
If anyone ever doubted that Goldman Sachs could get any sleazier than the reputation the institution has garnered over the last few years, recent discoveries regarding the major bank's ties to underage prostitution have served to aid in sullying the name even further.

Earlier this month, Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times revealed in his article, "Financiers and Sex Trafficking," that Goldman Sachs was a 16% stakeholder in one of the biggest public sex trafficking forums in the United States - Backpage.com.

I say "public sex trafficking forums" because Backpage is obviously publicly accessible, while more hardcore and illegal activities are clearly hidden from the view of the general citizen. This is because many of the patrons of such operations tend to be the very wealthy in addition to the average run-of-the-mill sexual deviant living in his basement who might be more likely to consult Backpage for its services.

For those unfamiliar with the story, Backpage is a website that provides ads for "escort services" all across the United States and in most metropolitan cities. Of course, many of these ads are placed and answered by consenting adults. However, it is also true that there is a great deal of evidence to show that Backpage plays a role in trafficking minors and women coerced into prostitution.

Interestingly enough, Backpage is owned by Village Voice Media (VVM), which also owns the Village Voice, SF Weekly, and LA Weekly. VVM is also the company where Goldman Sachs held about 16% of stock. Not only that, but Scott L. Lebovitz, who was a Goldman Sachs managing director who Goldman claims stepped down in 2010, sat on the Village Voice Media board for years.

Star of David

Israel Rides the Rollercoaster of Mass Hysteria

Netanyahu/Obama
© Pete Souza / White House Photo
Spending a week in Israel these days is like being trapped within a scene from the movie One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest.

Like Jack Nicholson in the lead role of that classic film, you might not be insane but the doctors and nurses who run the psychiatric ward manufacture every few minutes a collective hysteria to keep everyone in the grip of fear and hatred. Everyone is an enemy, every a visitor an existential threat.

A retired French activist in her sixties - part of the most recent Welcome to Palestine fly-in - is met in the airport by a military brigade and massive police force that left much of Israel at the mercy of its petty criminals who had a field day while the officers of the law went to arrest the invading aliens who came from Europe.

A week earlier, a poem by an 85-year-old honest and noble Nobel laureate, Günter Grass, which warned against an Israeli attack on Iran and pleaded with the Israelis to show compassion towards the occupied Palestinians, was depicted as a text that is not only worse than Adolf Hitler's Mein Kampf but one that could have a similar impact on history. Hence, the national response was entrusted to the hands of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Minister of the Interior Eli Yishai who banned the entry of the ageing bard.

Bad Guys

How Obama Became a Civil Libertarian's Nightmare

Obama halo
© n/a
When Barack Obama took office, he was the civil liberties communities' great hope. Obama, a former constitutional law professor, pledged to shutter the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and run a transparent and open government. But he has become a civil libertarian's nightmare: a supposedly liberal president who instead has expanded and fortified many of the Bush administration's worst policies, lending bipartisan support for a more intrusive and authoritarian federal government.

It started with the 9/11 attacks. Within a week, Congress, including many liberals, gave the White House blanket authority to wage a war on the terrorists. A month after that, Congress passed the USA Patriot Act, authorizing many anti-terrorism measure including expanded surveillance. By mid-November, the White House ordered creation of military tribunals to try terrorists who were not U.S. citizens.

Bush quickly expanded covert operations, creating a shadow arrest, interrogation and detention system based at Guantanamo that violated international law and evaded domestic oversight. While the Supreme Court eventually ruled that detainees have some rights, the precedent that the Constitution does not restrict how a president conducts an endless war against a stateless enemy was firmly planted. In response, groups like the American Civil Liberties Union proposed reforms the newly elected president could make. What few anticipated was how he would embrace, expand and institutionalize many of Bush's war on terror excesses.

President Obama now has power that Bush never had. Foremost is he can (and has) order the killing of U.S. citizens abroad who are deemed terrorists. Like Bush, he has asked the Justice Department to draft secret memos authorizing his actions without going before a federal court or disclosing them. Obama has continued indefinite detentions at Gitmo, but also brought the policy ashore by signing the National Defense Authorization Act of 2012, which authorizes the military to arrest and indefinitely detain anyone suspected of assisting terrorists, even citizens. That policy, codifying how the Bush treated Jose Padilla, a citizen who was arrested in a bomb plot after landing at a Chicago airport in 2002 and was transferred from civil to military custody, upends the 1878's Posse Comitatus Act's ban on domestic military deployment.