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Torture complaints hit Bush on ninth anniversary of key decision

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Nine years ago today, the Bush administration decided that international law does not apply to prisoners of war. It was a watershed moment in US history, resulting in a policy of torture that pervaded and darkened the Bush years, and inflamed anti-American sentiment abroad.

To mark that grim anniversary, two men who claim to have been victims of torture filed official complaints in Geneva, Switzerland, seeking a ruling on universal jurisdiction.

If the court sides with their complaints, US President George W. Bush likely would not face arrest; he would not, however, enjoy free travel around the world.

Megaphone

FCC Net Neutrality is a Regulatory 'Trojan Horse,' EFF Says

Trojan Horse
© Wired
The Federal Communications Commission's net-neutrality decision opens the FCC to "boundless authority to regulate the internet for whatever it sees fit," the Electronic Frontier Foundation is warning.

The civil rights group says the FCC's action in December, which was based on shaky legal authority, creates a paradox of epic proportions. The EFF favors net neutrality but worries whether the means justify the ends.

Megaphone

World leaders meet to discuss cyberwar rules of engagement

Hague convention for state-backed hacking?

Rules of engagement for the deployment of cyber-weapons need to be developed, an international security conference is due to be told later today.

The influential EastWest Institute is due to present proposals for the cyberspace equivalent of the Geneva convention at the Munich Security Conference, which has included a debate on cyber-security on its agenda for the first time this year. Delegates to the conference include UK Prime Minister David Cameron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

The discussion on rules for cyber-conflict follows months after the infamous Stuxnet worm was blamed for infecting industrial control systems and sabotaging centrifuges at controversial Iranian nuclear facilities. Some have described the malware as the world's first cyber-weapon though cyber-espionage in many guises has undoubtedly been practiced by intelligence agencies across the world for many years.

Footprints

Possible Exile in Germany Considered For Mubarak

Hosni Mubarak
© Reuters
Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak: Will he come to Germany for medical treatment?

Will Hosni Mubarak travel to Germany as a patient as part of a graceful exit strategy for the Egyptian president? Plans for a possible hospital stay here appear to be more concrete than previously believed. Spiegel Online has learned that a luxury clinic near Baden-Baden is being favored.

The United States government's scenario for an end to the political chaos in Egypt appears to be this: President Hosni Mubarak travels to Germany for a "prolonged health check" that would offer the 82-year-old a dignified departure. Over the weekend, the New York Times reported that secret talks to that effect were being held between the US government and Egyptian military officials.

According to information obtained by Spiegel Online, plans for a possible hospital stay in Germany are far more concrete than had been assumed so far. Talks are already being held with suitable hospitals, particularly with the Max-Grundig-Klinik Bühlerhöhe in the southwestern town of Bühl near Baden-Baden, Spiegel Online has learned from sources close to the clinic. The hospital management declined to comment.

Display

DHS Seizes Websites for Merely Linking to Copyrighted Material

DHS seizure notice
© DHS
Apparently the Department of Homeland Security is now authorized to rewrite and enforce copyright infringement laws. In a stunning precedent, the recent round of domain seizures to shut down websites that allowed illegal streaming of the Super Bowl also included a few other websites that were seized simply for linking to infringing content.

Mike Masnick of TechDirt, who received and published a DHS seizure affidavit, had this to say in a must-read article:
...the affidavit itself is chock full of legal and technical errors, compounded by assertions-as-facts that seem to have little basis in reality. This is immensely troubling, especially given that the specific legal issues here are hardly settled law, and Homeland Security seems to be acting as if these cases are no brainers, allowing them to flat out seize domains, even when those websites have been declared perfectly legal in their home countries.

The biggest problem is that Homeland Security seems to suggest -- without a hint of doubt -- that merely linking to infringing content is criminal copyright infringement. That is a huge stretch. The affidavit appears to make it clear that it believes that these sites are guilty of direct criminal copyright infringement, rather than any sort of contributory copyright infringement. As we've discussed in the past, the courts have tended to say that embedding and linking can be contributory infringement, but not direct infringement. Homeland Security and ICE may be in for a bit of legal trouble trying to prove that embedding is direct infringement.
Until these unprecedented seizures, online copyright infringement was dealt with by simply asking infringing websites to remove the material and replace it with a link to the source. Previous cases have normally been battled out in civil court. Alternative news giant, Matt Drudge, is currently fighting a seemingly ridiculous civil lawsuit over linking to news stories.

Bad Guys

The case for paranoid-schizoid perception of reality: Israel's Army Chief Ashkenazi says to prepare for all-out war

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© Uri Porat
Ashkenazi speaks
Given recent changes in the Middle East, Israel must prepare for a battle in several theaters, outgoing IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi said Monday at the Herzliya Conference.

"The connection between the different players requires us to contend with more than one theater," he said.

The radical camp in the Middle East is gaining strength, Ashkenazi warned, adding that "the moderate camp among the traditional Arab leadership is weakening." He also made note of what he characterized as the "fascinating phenomenon" whereby power is shifting to the people of the region thanks to online social networks.

Cow Skull

Propaganda Alert: Global Warming to Blame for Rising Food Prices

global warming debate
© Michael Ramirez
We're in the midst of a global food crisis - the second in three years. World food prices hit a record in January, driven by huge increases in the prices of wheat, corn, sugar and oils. These soaring prices have had only a modest effect on U.S. inflation, which is still low by historical standards, but they're having a brutal impact on the world's poor, who spend much if not most of their income on basic foodstuffs.

The consequences of this food crisis go far beyond economics. After all, the big question about uprisings against corrupt and oppressive regimes in the Middle East isn't so much why they're happening as why they're happening now. And there's little question that sky-high food prices have been an important trigger for popular rage.

So what's behind the price spike? American right-wingers (and the Chinese) blame easy-money policies at the Federal Reserve, with at least one commentator declaring that there is "blood on Bernanke's hands." Meanwhile, President Nicolas Sarkozy of France blames speculators, accusing them of "extortion and pillaging."

But the evidence tells a different, much more ominous story. While several factors have contributed to soaring food prices, what really stands out is the extent to which severe weather events have disrupted agricultural production. And these severe weather events are exactly the kind of thing we'd expect to see as rising concentrations of greenhouse gases change our climate - which means that the current food price surge may be just the beginning.


Comment: Well they'd be just the sort of thing you'd expect to see if you were to believe the bad science, manipulation of data, outright lies and propganda that promote the greenhouse gas/global warmist agenda. Meanwhile in the world of objective science, the reality is that of a climate which has been steadily cooling.


Padlock

10 Things Monsanto Does Not Want You to Know

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© glassdoor.com
What's wrong with Genetic Engineering?

Genetic engineering is a radical technology that breaks down genetic barriers between humans, plants and animals. Once released, these genetically modified organisms (GMOs) can easily spread and interbreed with other organisms, and they are virtually impossible to recall back to the laboratory.

Monsanto provides roughly 90% of GMO seeds in the world. These seeds have been genetically modified to produce their own pesticide or survive repeated spraying of their toxic herbicide Roundup. Monsanto's GMOs are not designed to increase yields to feed the world, but rather to increase Monsanto's profits by increasing the use of chemicals such as Roundup and selling their high-priced patented seeds which farmers must buy every year.

Due to the enormous political clout of Monsanto, the American public is being denied the right to know whether their foods are genetically engineered or not. Following is a list of 10 facts about Monsanto and GMOs, and how they can adversely affect your health, local farmers, and the planet.

Bad Guys

Clinton Ambassador Meeting: Unprecedented Mass Meeting Of Top Envoys

Hillary Clinton
© The Associated Press / Alex Brandon, Pool
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton boards her plane for a trip to Haiti at Andrews AFB, Md., Sunday, Jan. 30, 2011
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is convening an unprecedented mass meeting of U.S. ambassadors.

The top envoys from nearly all of America's 260 embassies, consulates and other posts in more than 180 countries will be gathering at the State Department beginning on Monday. Officials say it's the first such global conference.

The gathering comes at a time of crisis in Egypt that could reshape dynamics in the Middle East, fallout from leaked diplomatic documents and congressional calls for sweeping cuts in foreign aid.

Light Sabers

US-Russia nuclear arms treaty takes effect

Munich
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© Frank Augstein/Associated Press
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, right, and Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov finalize the New START treaty during the Conference on Security Policy in Munich, Germany, Saturday, Feb. 5, 2011.
- A new U.S.-Russia nuclear arms control treaty went into effect Saturday, securing a key foreign policy goal of President Barack Obama and raising hopes among officials on both sides that it will provide the impetus for Moscow and Washington to negotiate further reductions.

"The treaty marks significant progress toward President Obama's vision of a world without nuclear weapons," U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said after exchanging ratification papers with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on the sidelines of an international security conference in Munich.

"Partnership with Russia is vital to our continued progress and to all that we hope to accomplish," she said. "We must build the habits of cooperation that let us rise above our differences to address urgent matters of global security together."

The New START treaty - the first major revamping of nuclear disarmament deals since the late Cold War era - was approved by the U.S. Senate in December after a bruising fight during which Obama pressed strongly for its passage. Russia ratified the deal last month.