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Fri, 01 Dec 2023
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US, California: Smart Phone Snooping by Cops Too Easy

© MCT Illustration
Bill would overturn court ruling giving police nearly limitless access to arrestees' devices.

Orson Welles' character in the 1958 movie A Touch of Evil, says, "A policeman's job is only easy in a police state." That line is often cited when issues of police policy come before the public. It's an important idea: Free societies should be more interested in protecting the rights of the accused than in making the job of the police too easy.

Unfortunately, the California Supreme Court lost sight of this ideal this year with its decision in People v. Diaz, which gives law enforcement a nearly limitless right to conduct warrantless searches of the personal information, files, messages and photographs of people under arrest. Now, Senate Bill 914, which could reach the Senate floor as early as Thursday, would essentially overturn that decision and put some limits on the wide-ranging searches officers can conduct without a warrant.

In the past, courts had allowed police to search an arrestee for items such as cigarette packs, where drugs could be stored, for instance. The court in the Diaz decision expanded that right to include searches of an arrestee's cell phone, reasoning that the phone isn't much different from other incidentals found in a person's pocket. In this case, police searched the text-messaging files of a man held on a drug charge nearly 90 minutes after his arrest.


TSA Frisks: That will be $2.50 please?

© Google
risk-based screening system filters passengers according to risk

Today, several officials from the transportation industry testified before the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Transportation Security regarding TSA authorization for fiscal years 2012 and 2013.

Air Transport Association (ATA) is the industry trade organization for the leading U.S. airlines. ATA President Nicholas Calio expressed support for the TSA's move toward risk-based programs that provide smarter security such as Known Traveler, Known Crewmember and Known Shipper/Shipment.

ATA President and CEO Calio is not in favor of a $2.50 per passenger aviation passenger security fee, an idea entertained during discussions on ways to raise the U.S.debt ceiling,

Calio stated:
"U.S. airlines and their passengers contributed $2 billion in taxes and fees to TSA in 2010, a fifty percent increase from the amount collected in 2002. He said "Aviation security taxes and fees now constitute almost 25 percent of the industry's federal tax burden." Calio added "Aviation security costs should be borne by the federal government."


Defense Secretary Panetta Twists Iraq's Arm on Extending US Occupation

Just days after being confirmed as the nation's newest Secretary of Defense, former CIA head Leon Panetta toured Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq. Iraq in particular, has publicly been a source of concern for the Obama administration - in June alone, more than 15 U.S. soldiers were killed in Iraq - the greatest number in the past two years. U.S. troops are scheduled to withdraw from Iraq by the end of the year but American authorities are now angling for an invitation from the Iraqi government to remain longer.

Defense Secretary Panetta blames insurgents armed and backed by neighboring Iran for the troop deaths and urged Iraqis to take action. The Iranian ambassador to Iraq, Hassan Danaeifar responded by saying "[t]he Americans are trying to make excuses... [they] are trying to suggest that if they leave, Iraq will be threatened by Iran." Panetta's trip to Iraq was aimed, in part, at upping the pressure on Iraqis.

At a press conference, he said, "I'd like them to make a decision... Do they want us to stay? Don't they want us to stay?... But dammit, make a decision." Despite casting the decision as Iraq's to make, Panetta asserted that ultimately, the U.S. would "do what we have to do unilaterally, " to protect Americans.


"Military Meltdown Monday": 90K military usernames, hashes released

© Unknown

Anonymous hackers have broken into a server belonging to consultancy firm Booz Allen Hamilton and published a database containing some 90,000 military e-mail addresses and hashed passwords in what they have named Military Meltdown Monday. The database appears to have come from a system used for tracking training and qualifications of military personnel. The full release also includes some information from another military training system, the Defense Acquisition University.

Unlike the passwords taken from government contractor IRC Federal, the passwords from the Booz Allen system have been hashed using SHA-1. This will make breaking into further systems using the released account information harder - but it's likely that at least some of the passwords will be crackable, and so further damage could follow.

Eye 2

Why Rupert Murdoch Love$ God: World's Biggest Sleaze Mogul Also Getting Rich from Christian Moralizers

Rupert Murdoch
© Unknown
Rupert Murdoch is one of America's number one publishers of evangelical and other religious books.

Here's what you might not know about Rupert Murdoch: he's one of the leading religion publishers in the world.

Maybe one day soon Murdoch will go to jail as might his son, as will several of their UK editors if many alleged and disgusting and illegal acts of pirate "journalism" are proved true, ranging from bribing the police to hacking the phones of bereaved family members of killed service men and women and child murder victims. Make no mistake: when it comes to the Murdoch media "empire" we're talking about the lowest form of "journalism" as detailed by the Guardian newspaper.

So are religious moralizers and others writing about religious and/or "moral" themes prepared to enrich the Murdoch " media juggernaut" forever while Rupert Murdoch further corrupts UK, American and Australian politics while his companies trade in human misery for profit by hacking murder victim's phones, paying off the police, elevating smut to a national sport and even hacking the phones of killed soldiers' families?

You bet!

Rupert Murdoch is one of America's number one publishers of evangelical and other religious books, including the 33-million seller Purpose Driven Life by mega pastor and anti-gay activist Rick Warren. Murdoch is also publisher of "progressive" Rob Bell's Love Wins.

Rick Warren, Rob Bell and company helped Murdoch fund his tabloid-topless-women-on-page-3 empire, phone hacking of murdered teens and Fox News' spreading "birther" and "death panel" lies about the president. They helped Murdoch by enriching him. And these weren't unknown authors just lucky to get published anywhere, they could have picked anybody to sell their books.

Do the religious authors making their fortunes off Murdoch wear gloves when they cash their royalty checks? Do they ever dare look in the mirror?

Bad Guys

Pakistan Could "Pull Troops from Afghan Border" if U.S. Cuts Aid

© unknown
Pakistani Defense Minister Ahmad Mukhtar
Pakistan could pull back troops fighting Islamist militants near the Afghan border if the United States cuts off aid, the defense minister said on Tuesday in an interview with Pakistani media.

The United States Monday said it would hold back $800 million -- a third of nearly $2 billion in security aid to Pakistan -- in a show of displeasure over Pakistan's removal of U.S. military trainers, limits on visas for U.S. personnel and other bilateral irritants.

"If at all things become difficult, we will just get all our forces back," Defense Minister Ahmed Mukhtar said in an interview with the Express 24/7 television to be aired later on Tuesday.

The television aired excerpts of the interview Tuesday.

"If Americans refuse to give us money, then okay," he said. "I think the next step is that the government or the armed forces will be moving from the border areas. We cannot afford to keep military out in the mountains for such a long period."


US: Taxes, Social Security Fears Cited in Debt Ceiling Talks

Partisan warfare over the looming debt ceiling crisis escalated Tuesday as GOP leaders once again refused to consider any tax hikes and President Barack Obama warned that, absent a deal, he can't guarantee older Americans will continue receiving Social Security checks next month.

"There may simply not be the money in the coffers to do it," Obama said, according to excerpts of a CBS News interview scheduled to air Tuesday night.

"We can't guarantee -- if there were a default -- any specific bill would be paid," White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters Tuesday afternoon.

Top lawmakers from both sides of the aisle met with Obama for almost two hours at the White House later Tuesday, and another session was scheduled for Wednesday, according to House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Virginia.

Cantor also said Obama presented more details of his proposed cuts to entitlement programs such as Medicare, and that Republicans support what they heard. However, Cantor reiterated GOP opposition to higher taxes, which is the main sticking point to a deal.

Star of David

Rachel Corrie's family claim Israeli military withheld vital video evidence

Rachel Corrie
© Denny Sternstein/Associated Press
Rachel Corrie died in Gaza in 2003 while protesting against house demolitions.
The family of Rachel Corrie, the US activist killed in Gaza while protesting against house demolitions in 2003, on Monday claimed the Israeli military authorities withheld video evidence during the Corries' civil lawsuit and misled US officials on crucial details.

Craig Corrie, Rachel's father, told a press conference in Jerusalem that the footage from a surveillance camera near the scene of his daughter's death submitted to the court was "incomplete". Additional video material obtained by the family showed Rachel's body in a different spot to the place identified by some military commanders, he said.

He also alleged that the Israeli military had misled US officials on the position of Rachel's body when she was killed.


Ahmed Wali Karzai, Half Brother of Afghan President, Killed by Trusted Confidant

© Andrea Bruce / The Washington Post
Ahmed Wali Karzai, the younger half brother of Afghan President Hamid Karzai, sits in his Kandahar office in May 2010. He was assassinated July 12 by a trusted local security official in an attack claimed by the Taliban.

With three rounds of pistol fire, President Hamid Karzai's half brother was assassinated Tuesday morning in the city he dominated for years, opening a power vacuum that could destabilize Afghan politics in a region at the heart of the American war against the Taliban.

Ahmed Wali Karzai - the most powerful man in southern Afghanistan - was meeting with tribal elders and politicians in his heavily fortified home when Sardar Mohammad arrived with two weapons, one of them concealed, according to an account by a U.S. official.

Mohammad, a longtime confidant and police commander, turned over one gun to a guard to appear unarmed, then told Karzai he had important information to share. As they entered a private room, he handed Karzai a piece of paper, the U.S. official said, and as he read it, Mohammad opened fire with the second pistol. Mohammad was himself then gunned down by Karzai's guards.

The Taliban took responsibility for Karzai's killing, and a U.S. official confirmed that the insurgent group may have influenced Mohammad, who had commanded checkpoints in the Karzai family's ancestral village. But others were skeptical that insurgents were to blame: Karzai, the Kandahar provincial council chief, had become for many a symbol of the venality of Afghanistan's new ruling elite, and he had a long list of enemies from his business and political dealings.


Is the world run by Psychopaths?

Charming, materialistic, aggressive, self-centred, Machiavellian, thrill-seeking alpha males with little respect for rules who eat stress for breakfast - sound like a banker you know? If so, think again: it is a summary of the traits of psychopaths. Financial Times

There is a class of individuals who have been around forever and who are found in every race, culture, society and walk of life. Everybody has met these people, been deceived and manipulated by them, and forced to live with or repair the damage they have wrought. These often charming - but always deadly - individuals have a clinical name: psychopaths. Their hallmark is a stunning lack of conscience; their game is self-gratification at the other person's expense. Many spend time in prison, but many do not. All take far more than they give. Robert Hare (the acknowledged authority on psychopathy)

There is a quite plausible theory that the world is run by psychopaths: empathy-deficient, glib, manipulative, reckless swine... with apologies to our brother pig, who gives so much and gets so little in return.