Police talk as they guard a house that was involved in pre-dawn raids in western Sydney September 18, 2014.
CREDIT: REUTERS/DAVID GRAY
(Reuters) – The first of a series of security powers requested by Australia’s government to combat Islamist militants passed through parliament on Wednesday, despite criticism that they could land journalists in jail for reporting on national security.
Australia is increasingly concerned over the number of its citizens heading to Iraq and Syria to fight alongside radical Islamists, and police said they foiled a plot by the Islamic State group last month to behead a random Australian citizen.
Conservative Prime Minister Tony Abbott has warned that the balance between freedom and security “may have to shift” in the wake of a series of raids targeting what authorities say are the group’s members and supporters.
In light of recent U.S. military involvement in the Middle East, some say the voters who put President Barack Obama into office in 2008 didn’t sign up for this.
On CNN’s State of the Union Sept. 28, political commentator LZ Granderson said Obama is losing favor among his base supporters because of his recent foreign policy decisions. In 2008, they were tired of the wars started under former President George W. Bush and were hoping that a new president would bring them to a close.
In this video Luke Rudkowski and Carey Wedler do a social experiment about homelessness and what people not only believe on the issue but what they actually do about it. In my time in L.A we met April who we became friends with and agreed to do this social experiment with.
The city has quietly paid out $402,000 since April to settle six of the eight remaining lawsuits where NYPD detective Peter Valentin, a Bronx narcotics cop, is a named defendant. That brings the total payouts to $1.286 million. Valentin has been on modified duty since March after an Internal Affairs investigation found he and three other members of the team were conducting dubious raids.
Much of the world has been enthralled by the new iPhone 6, but civil liberties advocates have been cheering, too: Along with iOS 8, Apple made some landmark privacy improvements to your devices, which Google matched with its Android platform only hours later. Your smartphone will soon be encrypted by default, and Apple or Google claim they will not be able open it for anyone – law enforcement, the FBI and possibly the NSA – even if they wanted to.
Predictably, the US government and police officials are in the midst of amisleading PR offensive to try to scare Americans into believing encrypted cellphones are somehow a bad thing, rather than a huge victory for everyone’s privacy and security in a post-Snowden era. Leading the charge is FBI director James Comey, who spoke to reporters late last week about the supposed “dangers” of giving iPhone and Android users more control over their phones. But as usual, it’s sometimes difficult to find the truth inside government statements unless you parse their language extremely carefully. So let’s look at Comey’s statements, line-by-line.
I am a huge believer in the rule of law, but I also believe that no one in this country is beyond the law. … What concerns me about this is companies marketing something expressly to allow people to place themselves beyond the law.
First of all, despite the FBI director’s implication, what Apple and Google have done is perfectly legal, and they are under no obligation under the “the rule of law” to decrypt users’ data if the company itself cannot access your stuff. From47 U.S. Code § 1002 (emphasis mine):
A telecommunications carrier shall not be responsible for decrypting, or ensuring the government’s ability to decrypt, any communication encrypted by a subscriber or customer, unless the encryption was provided by the carrier andthe carrier possesses the information necessary to decrypt the communication.
I like and believe very much that we should have to obtain a warrant from an independent judge to be able to take the content of anyone’s closet or their smart phone.
That’s funny, because literally four months ago, the United States government was saying the exact opposite before the US supreme court, arguing that, in fact, the feds shouldn’t need to get a warrant to get inside anyone’s smartphone after you’re arrested. In its landmark June ruling in the case, Riley v California, the court disagreed. So it’s great to see that Jim Comey, too, has come around to the common sense conclusion that cops need a warrant to search your cellphone data, but it would’ve been nice for him to express those sentiments when they actually mattered.
On Thursday, Comey went on to argue:
The notion that someone would market a closet that could never be opened – even if it involves a case involving a child kidnapper and a court order – to me does not make any sense.
This idea – that the police won’t be able to get a hold of anyone’s cellphone data and will soon be facing some unstoppable crimewave of body-snatching proportions – borders on absurd. As the Intercept’s Micah Lee has documented, the feds still have myriad ways to access everyone’s data. They can still get a warrant for iPhone users iCloud accounts, which hundreds of millions of people use to back up their phones and was central to a celebrity hacking scandal that’s been in the headlines for weeks. The feds can still go to the phone carriers to track anyone’s location 24/7, get all the metadata they want from text messages, and wiretap your phone calls. And even if none of these techniques work, depending on the strength of the person’s password, the cops may be able to crack a phone’s encryption passcode within minutes.
I get that the post-Snowden world has started an understandable pendulum swing. … What I’m worried about is, this is an indication to us as a country and as a people that, boy, maybe that pendulum swung too far.
This might be a good time to point out that Congress has not changed surveillance law at all in the the nearly 16 months since Edward Snowden’s disclosures began, mostly because of the vociferous opposition from intelligence agencies and cops. The pendulum is still permanently lodged squarely on law enforcement’s side. If it has swung at all, it’s because of the aforementioned ruling by the supreme courtof the United States, along with tech companies implementing more privacy protections unilaterally because US tech companies are losing billions of dollars because of the government’s spying scandals. If the government is upset about that, they only have themselves to blame for the NSA’s “collect it all” approach, which was conducted for years, completely in secret, without any input from law-abiding American citizens.
By the way, if Comey really believes that such a swing is “understandable”, maybe he can direct his agency to release information on the Stingray mass surveillance devices the FBI and local cops have been using to vacuum up cellphone data on entire neighborhoods, while hiding it from journalists, the public and sometimes even judges.
Given the government’s obsession with passing cybersecurity legislation, you would think they’d be happy that Apple and Google are making it harder for foreign governments and criminals to break into people’s phones or company servers to steal your data. But you’d be forgetting that the head of the FBI and his fellow fear-mongerers are still much more concerned with making sure they retain control over your privacy, rather than protecting everyone’s cybersecurity.
Today We Filed Suit to Reverse the City’s Fraudulent Determination on Our Second Petition
Read our filing and letter to Justice Wooten.
On September 4, 2014 the High-Rise Safety Initiative submitted a second petition containing over 33,000 signatures to override the City Council’s lack of action on our first petition. The second petition secures our place on the November 4th ballot if it contains at least 15,000 valid signatures, assuming we also win the pending lawsuit regarding the petition’s legality, where we still have not received a decision.
As we previously noted, only the highest income earners have seen any gains in compensation since the crisis began around 2007 to the current ‘recovery’ tops. It is perhaps not entirely surprising then that, the total income controlled by the Top 1% is drastically above that of the slave-included times of Ancient Rome and as high as the peak in the roaring 20s.
Current inequality is almost 50% worse than in Ancient Rome and as large as the end of the roaring 20s…
As the U.S. expands military operations in Syria, we look at the Khorasan group, the shadowy militant organization the Obama administration has invoked to help justify the strikes. One month ago, no one had heard of Khorasan, but now U.S. officials say it poses an imminent threat to the United States. As the strikes on Syria began, U.S. officials said Khorasan was “nearing the execution phase” of an attack on the United States or Europe, most likely an attempt to blow up a commercial plane in flight. We are joined by Murtaza Hussain of The Intercept, whose new article with Glenn Greenwald is “The Khorasan Group: Anatomy of a Fake Terror Threat to Justify Bombing Syria.”
“Submachine guns, .40 Cal. S&W, ambidextrous safety, semi-automatic or 2 shot bur[s]t trigger group, Tritium night sights for front and rear, rails for attachment of flashlight (front under fore grip) and scope (top rear), stock-collapsib[l]e or folding, magazine – 30 rd. capacity.”
In May, the USDA’s Office of Inspector Generalfiled a request for these weapons. But why exactly do they need them?
According to a USDA press rep, the guns are necessary for self-protection.
“OIG Special Agents regularly conduct undercover operations and surveillance. The types of investigations conducted by OIG Special Agents include criminal activities such as fraud in farm programs; significant thefts of Government property or funds; bribery and extortion; smuggling; and assaults and threats of violence against USDA employees engaged in their official duties,” wrote a USDA spokesperson.
In the aftermath of school shootings by psychiatric drug users and the creation of fake or false flag shootings within schools, school administrators and local police have gone to the other extreme. The knee-jerk responses completely bypass valid questions such as “were the shooters on psych meds, or did this really happen as reported?”
Instead of seeking answers and questioning the incidents and their reports, excessively clamping down on security and reporting innocent behavior as suspicious has now reached the point of having children tazed or taken into custody, as in jailed, for absurdly harmless actions.
If you ask the people who run America’s electric utilities what keeps them up at night, a surprising number will say solar power. Specifically, rooftop solar.
MORE AMERICANS ARE INSTALLING ROOFTOP SOLAR AND BUYING LESS ELECTRICITY FROM THEIR UTILITIES
That seems bizarre at first. Solar power provides just 0.4 percent of electricity in the United States — a minuscule amount. Why would anyone care?
But utilities see things differently. As solar technology gets dramatically cheaper, tens of thousands of Americans are putting photovoltaic panels up on their roofs, generating their own power. At the same time, 43 states and Washington DC have “net metering” laws that allow solar-powered households to sell their excess electricity back to the grid at retail prices.