Video released: Guardian destroys Snowden files on GCHQ’s orders

guardian destroy snowden video Video released: Guardian destroys Snowden files on GCHQ’s orders
 
The Guardian has released a video of the newspaper’s editors destroying hard drives and memory cards with encrypted files leaked by Edward Snowden – under the watchful gaze of experts from GCHQ, the government’s surveillance agency.
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It is the first time the footage has been published online since The Guardian’s hard drives were demolished on July 20, 2013, in the basement of the newspaper’s London offices.

Three Guardian staff members – deputy editor Paul Johnson, executive director Sheila Fitzsimons and computer expert David Blishen – are seen taking angle-grinders and drills to the internal components of computers to destroy information on them.

The journalists were watched by two Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) technical experts, named in Guardian’s recent report as “Ian” and “Chris.” They recorded the process on their iPhones.

It took three hours to smash up the computers. The journalists then fed the pieces into the GCHQ-provided degausser high-tech equipment, which destroys magnetic fields and erases data, The Guardian said.

Initially, GCHQ officials wanted to inspect the material before destruction, carry out the operation themselves and take the remnants away. But the Guardian refused to let them.

The classified information was stored on four computers, none of which was ever connected to the Internet or any other network.

0 Video released: Guardian destroys Snowden files on GCHQ’s orders

The UK government saw the destruction of the computers as a way to stop further publications of leaks from former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. It gave The Guardian an ultimatum to either hand the Snowden material back, destroy it, or face an injunction. UK Prime Minister David Cameron sent Cabinet Secretary Jeremy Heywood to convey the message.

“We can do this nicely or we can go to law,” Heywood told The Guardian’s editor Alan Rusbridger during one of their meetings in June and July.

“A lot of people in government think you should be closed down,” he added, The Guardian reported.

Initially reluctant to comply with the government’s demand, The Guardian eventually took the decision to demolish the hard drives with the information on them – as it was seen as the only way to protect the newspaper and its team.

The measure, however, did not stop the flow of NSA- and GCHQ- related revelations. Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger told government officials that several copies of the secret documents existed, but only one in the UK. It was known that The Guardian’s columnist Glenn Greenwald, who met Snowden in Hong Kong, had leaked material in Rio de Janeiro. There were further copies in the US, according to Rusbridger.

After the destruction of the hard drives, the paper continued to consult with the government before publishing national security stories.

“There were more than 100 interactions with No. 10 Downing Street, the White House and US and UK intelligence agencies,” The Guardian said in a recent report.

The release of the video comes a week before a new book by Guardian correspondent Luke Harding,“The Snowden Files: The Inside Story of the World’s Most Wanted Man,” is due to be published.

Source: RT

Monsanto blamed for disappearance of monarch butterflies

butterfly Monsanto blamed for disappearance of monarch butterflies

As scientists continue to track the shrinking population of the North American monarch butterfly, one researcher thinks she has found a big reason it’s in danger: Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide.
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On Wednesday, the World Wildlife Fund announced that last year’s migration – from Canada and the United States down to Mexico – was the lowest it’s been since scientists began tracking it in 1993. In November, the butterflies could be found on a mere 1.6 acres of forest near Mexico’s Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve, a decline of more than 43 percent over the previous year.

Back in 1996, the insects could be found covering a span of 45 acres. Part of the decline can be attributed to illegal logging in Mexico that has decimated the butterfly’s natural habitat, as well as rising temperatures, which threaten to dry out monarch eggs and prevent them from hatching.

Now, though, biologist Karen Oberhauser of the University of Minnesota has also pinpointed the increased use of Monsanto’s Roundup herbicides in the United States and Canada as a culprit.

According to Oberhauser, the use of Roundup has destroyed the monarch butterfly’s primary food source, a weed called milkweed that used to be commonly found across North America. As the agriculture industry boomed and farmers effectively eliminated the weed from the land in order to maximize crop growth, she was able to catalog a parallel decline in the butterfly’s population.

Speaking with Slate, Oberhauser said that when the milkweed population across the Midwest shrank by 80 percent, the monarch butterfly population decreased by the same amount. With some states such as Iowa losing more than 98 percent of their milkweed population – the weed doesn’t even grow on the edges of farmland anymore – the disappearance of the plant poses a huge risk to the insect’s survival.

“We have this smoking gun,” she told Slate. “This is the only thing that we’ve actually been able to correlate with decreasing monarch numbers.”

For its part, Monsanto noted that herbicides aren’t the only reason the monarch is dying. The company cited studies that showed the butterfly’s population in Michigan and New Jersey were not shrinking, though scientists have dismissed those studies since they focused on areas where milkweed was still prevalent.

Monsanto has come under fire before for the effects of its agriculture-oriented chemicals. As RT reported last year, studies linked Roundup’s main ingredient to diseases such as cancer, autism and Alzheimer’s. In spite of these findings, the Environmental Protection Agency ruled to raise the permissible level of the ingredient that can be found on crops.

Meanwhile, another report in October found a clear link between the pesticides sold by Monsanto in Argentina and a range of maladies, including higher risk of cancer and thyroid problems, as well as birth defects.

As for the plight of the monarch butterfly, the insect is still thriving in Hawaii and countries like Australia and New Zealand. In North America, Oberhauser believes the great migration can still rebound due to the monarch’s high fertility rates (a single female can lay up to 1,000 eggs throughout her life). For that to happen, however, scientists believe the US, Canada and Mexico will have to work together and draft a strategy that will help the insect safely make its way through the three countries.

“I think it’s past time for Canada and the United States to enact measures to protect the breeding range of the monarchs,” monarch expert Phil Schappert of Nova Scotia told the Washington Post“or I fear the spiral of decline will continue.”

Source: RT

Future of the internet could depend on Lavabit appeal

email Future of the internet could depend on Lavabit appeal

Lawyers for Lavabit, a recently-shuttered email service once used by Edward Snowden, told a federal appeals court this week that the government had no reason to request from the company a code that could unlock the encrypted messages of its 410,000 users.
Continue reading «Future of the internet could depend on Lavabit appeal»

Starting last June, Lavabit owner Ladar Levison unwittingly became entwined in a complicated legal case when the Federal Bureau of Investigation obtained a pen register order requiring him to let the FBI install a wiretap device on his servers to record and store information about one of his company’s nearly half-a-million customers, widely presumed to be the now-notorious former intelligence contractor. And although much of the ordeal is to this day still under seal, on Tuesday his attorneys argued publically before the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia that a civil contempt order waged against Levison should be rejected because the government unjustly compelled him to surrender his website’s master encryption keys.

Because the customer in question had opted-in to Lavabit’s encrypted email function, the information sought by the government was impossible to acquire using ordinary methods. Levison complied with the pen register order nonetheless, but the metadata being logged by the FBI proved to be unusable and quickly prompted them to demand the SSL (Secure Socket Layer) keys that encrypted all data going in and out of the website’s servers. The architecture of the SSL protocol as well as his nature of the custom-built site made it arguably impossible for Levison to provide unencrypted data using just a standard wiretap, but because the FBI’s request also provided he furnish the government with the “technical assistance necessary” to fulfil their demands, the government said he’d have to surrender the SSL keys as well and in turn compromise the privacy of each and every user.

When the pen register wouldn’t work, the feds returned with a subpoena for the keys. And when Levison didn’t immediately comply, they came back with a search warrant. Levison’s lawyers are now fighting to appeal the lawfullness of those requests for the keys by saying they were not valid.

“[T]o comply with the government’s subpoena would have either required Lavabit to perpetrate a fraud on its customer base or shut down entirely. That is the key point, and the resulting harm goes far beyond a mere inconvenient search for records,” his counsel claimed when the appeal was first filed in October.“The Fourth Amendment insists that a warrant name particular things to be searched; a warrant that permits open-ended rummaging through all of Lavabit’s communications data is simply a modern-day writ of assistance, the sort of general warrant that the Fourth Amendment was ratified to forbid,”

An earlier offer made by Levison to personally log data about that particular target should have sufficed, his attorneys said during oral arguments Tuesday, and the FBI should have been satisfied with that option without effectively compromising the privacy of all Lavabit customers by having a federal judge demand the SSL keys.

“The offer was basically, ‘I will record this data. I have a tool that can transmit it to your servers and I can do it either at the end of the period or so that it’s more frequent then that,’” Lavabit attorney Ian Samuel recalled in court this week. “The company in this case offered the United States all of the information that the United States was seeking — all of it — and it did it in a way that would have protected the privacy of hundreds of thousands of innocent people as well,” he said.

But “That isn’t what they were ordered to provide,” one judge responded. “They were ordered to install a pen register and a tracking device which provided unencrypted data.” Levison agrees that this means giving up the SSL keys, but at what cost? When his attorney time and time again argued that sacrificing the keys would render the whole site insecure, Judges Paul V. Niemeyer, Roger L. Gregory and G. Steven Agee appeared befuddled by the technological aspects involved, and along with lawyers representing both Lavabit and the government struggled to make sense of the science behind intercepting encrypted emails.

“I’m no technologist, your honor,” attorney Andrew Peterson for the government admitted at one point, later claiming he could only “assume” that it was possible for Lavabit to decrypt data in real-time to be logged on-the-fly by the FBI — which tech experts dispute.

Levison eventually relinquished to the government’s requests for his site’s SSL keys while the first of the now-ongoing Snowden leaks began to surface, but only after several weeks of a back-and-forth with investigators that ended with him being fined $10,000 and the court claiming he was in contempt for not cooperating sooner. When he eventually complied with their requests last August, Levison immediately shut-down his site to protect the privacy of his customers whose accounts had been compromised by giving up the keys. A gag-order in place at the time prevented him from disclosing even the existence of the investigation to his customers, though, and instantly he eroded access to the accounts of each and every one of his customers to, as he put it then, avoid being complicit in “crimes against the American people.”

The civil contempt order lobbed at Levison for failing to initially provide that assistance is what is now before the Fourth Circuit, but the other, much greater underlying issues at hand, may never be resolved in a court of law. When Samuel raised the issue of protecting the privacy of Lavabit’s entire client base repeatedly during Tuesday’s meeting, the appellate judges routinely said that wasn’t at issue.

“We’re only here,” Judge Leon said at one point, “because of [Lavabit’s] refusal to do what the initial request was — which was the pen register. The encryption key became a red herring.”

“There is such willingness and a desire to argue about secret keys being provided,” another judge added,“…and the government’s going to take full advantage of that and spy on everybody. What was ordered here was with respect to a particular target to provide unencrypted data pursuant to that order.”

“And even when they asked for the key,” the court claimed at one point, “they only wanted to use it and were only authorized to use it in connection with a particular target.”

As evident by what has become routine news articles as of late, though, Lavabit’s fear about government surveillance is indeed a legitimate one. Disclosures about the National Security Agency’s contentious operations continue to surface more than seven months after Mr. Snowden’s first revelations, and a recent story about a former competitor has revealed that very recently the US government relied on a court order to collect emails used later in unrelated investigations. As RT reported last week, the FBI seized all servers used by the company TorMail in 2013 pursuant to a separate investigation overseas. When the government wanted to get a copy of a single TorMail customer’s emails several months later, they didn’t bother to ask the company — they just had a judge allow them to search the trove of messages they had already taken into possession.

Lavabit now has the unique opportunity to establish a precedent to determine what the FBI can and can’t order an internet company to do, but those following the case closely fear this week’s comments from the court suggest the Department of Justice isn’t quite ready to weigh in on such matters.

“As this case unfortunately demonstrates, our judicial system is not always well-suited to addressing complex, cutting-edge technical issues,” Brian Hauss of the ACLU’s Speech, Privacy, and Technology Project told RT’s Andrew Blake this week. “Judges, of course, work very diligently to educate themselves about the disputes they are called upon to resolve, but without a technical background it is often difficult to sensibly address the important technical issues that are now coming before our courts.”

Chris Soghoian, the principal technologist at the same ACLU office, tweeted on Thursday that Tuesday’s oral arguments were “terrifying,” and that “The court desperately needed to hear from someone technical.”

Over 300 US drone strikes in Pakistan since 2006 – leaked official data

drone 11 Over 300 US drone strikes in Pakistan since 2006 – leaked official data

Top-secret documentation collected by Pakistani field officers gives detailed information on 330 US drone strikes that have occurred in Pakistan since 2006. The CIA-run program is estimated to have killed 2,371 people.

From solitary individuals riding on horseback to mountain hideouts crammed with people, the CIA drone program has had no shortage of targets in the Islamic Republic, according to newly released information obtained by The Bureau of Investigative Journalism (TBIJ).
Continue reading «Over 300 US drone strikes in Pakistan since 2006 – leaked official data»

The most complete official record of American drone activity in Pakistan yet published provides an account as to the time and place of each strike, even including in some cases the identity of the homeowners.

The document is unique in that it provides a “strike-by-strike account,” opening the window on Pakistan’s view of each incident with that of other authorities.

Strangely, the retrieved data stops recording civilian casualties after 2008, while even failing to mention details of civilian deaths that have been widely acknowledged by the Pakistani authorities. It also inexplicably excludes information from the year 2007.

The news watchdog said the leaked documents are based on information filed to the FATA (Federally Administered Tribal Areas) Secretariat each evening by local Political Agents in the field. However, TBIJ noted that the leaked documents are just one of several sources of information the Pakistani government has on US drone activity in the country.

paki 1 Over 300 US drone strikes in Pakistan since 2006 – leaked official data

 

‘Naming the dead’

Last July, TBIJ published the first part of the document, which detailed US drone strikes in the northwest tribal areas of Pakistan between 2006 and late 2009.The information showed that Islamabad was aware of hundreds of civilian casualties – even in incidences where it had officially refused to acknowledge such deaths had occurred.

In the first part of the report, 746 people are listed as killed in the drone strikes, at least 147 of the victims are said to be civilians, 94 of which are thought to be children. From 2009 to Sept. 2013, it is estimated that 1, 625 people were killed by drone strikes, a figure that closely matches those of the TBIJ.

The London-based journalism watchdog emphasized that some entries in the report included ambiguous language, hinting that possible civilian deaths are being deliberately concealed.

On March 17 2011, for instance, a meeting of tribal elders fell victim to a US drone strike that left 41 people killed. The attack was condemned by Pakistani officials. The report, however, only states that ‘it is feared that all the killed were local tribesmen’.

TBIJ says it has repeatedly found evidence of civilian deaths in strikes where local media have used ambiguous terms, such as ‘villagers,’ ‘people’ and ‘local tribesmen’.

Another entry in the documents suggests problems with identifying exactly who is considered a ‘militant’. For a strike on April 12 2010, it shows 14 deaths and three wounded, noting: ‘The killed militants also include a 12 years [sic] old child.’

‘Whatever is happening, if this document is anything to go by, it’s clear the Pakistan government’s investigations are not adequate,’ Mustafa Qadri, a researcher for Amnesty International Amnesty, told the journalism watchdog. ‘First, this table does not appear to be telling us the whole truth about casualties.

‘Secondly, what steps have Pakistan authorities taken to assist civilians caught up in these strikes like access to medical services or provide them with remedies such as access to justice or compensation? … It doesn’t seem to be the case that this record keeping is carried out so that the Pakistan state can better assist people caught up in these strikes.’

The data also gives little information on other details, such as which organisation the killed are said to have belonged to, or even the names of those killed. Even in instances when senior militants are reportedly killed, they are rarely identified by name.

As TBIJ discovered with its Naming the Dead report, the overwhelming majority of those killed in drone strikes remain unidentified: only about one in five victims have so far been identified by name.

paki2 Over 300 US drone strikes in Pakistan since 2006 – leaked official data

 

Drone backlash

Amid growing evidence showing that US drone strikes are not as ‘surgical’ as the Pentagon believes them to be, US officials continue to downplay the collateral damage connected with its drone campaign.

In a report dated August 11, 2011, the New York Times quoted US officials, who spoke on the condition anonymity, that the US Drone program “has killed more than 2,000 militants and about 50 noncombatants since 2001,” a hit-miss ratio that the paper described as a “stunningly low collateral death rate by the standards of traditional airstrikes.”

The findings of the document are at odds with CIA Director John O. Brennan’s claim in June 2011 that that for almost a year, “there hasn’t been a single collateral death because of the exceptional proficiency, precision of the capabilities we’ve been able to develop.”

The enduring belief in the flawless execution of aerial drone technology, which allows military personnel to take out enemy combatants, often many miles away from the action, is not without its critics. Indeed, some of them are members of the US military itself.

“What scares me about drone strikes is how they are perceived around the world,” retired General Stanley McChrystal said in an interview earlier this month. “The resentment created by American use of unmanned strikes … is much greater than the average American appreciates. They are hated on a visceral level, even by people who’ve never seen one or seen the effects of one.”

McChrystal said the use of drones creates a “perception of American arrogance that says, ‘Well we can fly where we want, we can shoot where we want, because we can.’”

Meanwhile, Islamabad has so far refused to confirm the authenticity of the latest leaked information obtained by TBIJ, but it is not refuting the document’s claims of high civilian deaths.

‘I am not in a position to authenticate the veracity of this report, but the facts that are being revealed are something which is not new,’ Foreign Ministry spokesman Aizaz Ahmed Choudhry told Voice of America. ‘We have always said that drone strikes cause civilian casualties.’

Source: RT

VACCINATION VOODOO: NEW BOOK REVEALS TRUTH ABOUT VACCINES

Eye-opening research, expert testimonial and the cold hard statistics on vaccines converge in a groundbreaking new book: Vaccination Voodoo: What YOU Don’t Know About Vaccines

Author Catherine J. Frompovich lights the way as she breaks down each chemical used in today’s vaccines, explaining the specific influence that the additives have on the human body.
Continue reading «VACCINATION VOODOO: NEW BOOK REVEALS TRUTH ABOUT VACCINES»

Joined by Mayer Eisenstein, MD, JD, MPH, and Paul G. King, PhD, Frompovich yanks the mask off of Big Pharma’s fake face, exposing the propaganda that is dished out through the media while shining a light on the misinformation sold to medical journals and medical professionals.

The book confronts the destructive and unquestioned ingredients in vaccines

The author delves right into the debate, discussing the dangers of injecting heavy metals directly into the blood and tissues, how these metals can pass through the blood-brain barrier and how toxicity can ultimately impart damage to the neurological system.

She confronts the use of adjuvants, the immune system stimulants in vaccines, for their destructive ability to cause hyper-allergenic reactions and the autoimmune destruction of brain cells. Thimerosal, which is 49.6% ethylmercury, is scolded, while toxic ingredients like aluminum, 2-phenoxyethanol, formaldehyde/formalin, polysorbate 80, phenol, glutaraldehyde, MSG and sodium borate are exposed. She writes about other hidden ingredients in the injections, like monkey kidney cells, genetically engineered insect viruses and diploid cells, which are aborted human fetal tissue.

She wastes no time calling out Big Pharma for their hand in causing multiple thousands of death each year, and debilitating complications caused by controversial vaccines like Prevnar or HPV Gardasil strains that were sold to people as preventive healthcare.

Swine flu vaccines, mass produced to expel H1N1 flu strains, are also confronted as a health fraud, responsible for bringing mass waves of narcolepsy to young adults.

The book shows how vaccine safety propaganda is sold to medical journals and MDs

Her investigations show how many vaccine manufacturers own their own science journals that solicit authors to publish pieces that promote Big Pharma’s products. Many times, pharmaceutical companies have paid staff writers who peddle vaccines down the medical profession line. The companies may pay off, or sell to medical doctors a bunch of propaganda that can be published as the doctor’s own medical research.

The book explains how vaccine manufacturers are exempt from a trial by jury

The book is up front about the “get out of jail free card” given to vaccine manufacturers. Through the passage of the 1986 National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act, Congress protected vaccine manufactures from ever being brought before a jury of their peers. Thanks to this law, vaccine injury claims are lumped together and often dismissed as trial cases with no credentials.

Now insulated from judicial accountability, pharmaceutical companies have gone all out selling their side effect-ridden concoctions, promoting new experimental vaccines each year, which are now jabbed into children by the dozens here in the 21st century.

The book correlates increased vaccine schedules with rising neurological disorders in children, including autism

This book helps everyone understand what’s in vaccines, including various excipients, adjuvants, metals, growth media and nanoparticles, and how these unnatural substances affect cellular function. The books helps people rethink about vaccine admission requirements dictated to kindergartens and elementary schools, showing how increased childhood vaccination has manifested a disturbing trend in autism in which 1 in 50 children are now affected. The books puts out statistics about the 60-plus vaccines rammed down children today, a number that is three times greater than figures from 1970, and about how this accumulated toxicity has created a generation of children sicker than decades ago.

Want to learn more?

If you are interested in obtaining the facts of what’s really in the barrage of vaccines manufactured today…

If you are a medical professional who feels betrayed by the pharmaceutical industry and wants to become informed…

If you want to read more on the eye-witness testimonies of professionals and victims of vaccine injury…

If you want to research beyond and learn about the vaccine truths that the television and newspaper ads won’t report on…

If you want to read further into the statistical correlations being made between these modern injections and their debilitating, deadly injuries…

Then pick up a copy of the new book here: Vaccination Voodoo: What YOU Don’t Know About Vaccines.

Sources for this article include:

http://www.amazon.com

http://science.naturalnews.com

New Google patent suggests automatically sending your videos and photos to law enforcement

We come across tons of interesting patents each and every day, but recently none have caused as much concern and curiosity as this one. Google recently filed a patent for a system that identifies when and where a “mob” event takes place and sends multimedia alerts to relevant parties. The patents are actually titled “Mob Source Phone Video Collaboration” and “Inferring Events Based On Mob Sourced Video“.
Continue reading «New Google patent suggests automatically sending your videos and photos to law enforcement»

No… not that mob. In this case a “mob” is essentially an activity or event attracting an abnormal amount of attention in the form of video recording and picture taking. Here’s a quick blurb from the patent description:

Excerpt from US Patent #20140025755

“When there are at least a given number of video clips with similar time stamps and geolocation stamps uploaded to a repository, it is inferred that an event of interest has likely occurred, and a notification signal is transmitted (e.g., to a law enforcement agency, to a news organization, to a publisher of a periodical, to a public blog, etc.).”

fbi badge2 New Google patent suggests automatically sending your videos and photos to law enforcement

 

The fact that “law enforcement agencies” and “news organization(s)” are the first two examples provided by Google themselves is our greatest cause for concern. Especially at a time when privacy issues seem to take center stage all too often in the worst way possible.

Much has been made about NSA snoopingprivacyFISAcivil liberties and much more over the past year, so to think Google filed this patent application with the idea of potentially and proactively feeding information to law enforcement is a bit unsettling.

Would only photos/videos you uploaded as publicly viewable be included into this system? Could you opt out? Could Google access the private content stored on your local device for these purposes?

The exact details of this system – if put into practice – would likely be buried deep in a Terms of Service document. We’re guessing the most effective solution (for Google) would be collect aggregate and anonymous data to which you opted-in (time and location data of multimedia), extrapolating that data to identify “mob source” events, and then sharing related, publicly available multimedia to 3rd parties.

This could be used in any of the typical “nothing attracts a crowd like a crowd” scenario, from bar fights and car accidents to flash mobs and unpredictably  Arandom occurrences.

With that said, it’s important to remember that this isn’t inherently negative or invasive . Imagine heading out to see your favorite band, taking a few pictures, and Google Now alerts you that there are 100 related photos and videos from other concert goers.

0 New Google patent suggests automatically sending your videos and photos to law enforcement

The recently-held 56th annual Grammy Awards Show comes to mind as a big event at which many folks would want to snap tons of photos and videos. Google could recognize the photos are from the Grammys based on time and location information in the files, and send that information off to whatever 3rd parties they deem relevant: news agencies, nearby users, people searching Google for “Grammy Awards”, etc… you name it.

We’d even venture a guess that Michael Bay’s meltdown at CES earlier this month would have landed the appearance in the “Mob Source” category with photos and videos being taken and shared left and right:

0 New Google patent suggests automatically sending your videos and photos to law enforcement

Then there’s the stuff Google already does where this technology already be in use, such as the Party Mode feature on Google+ Events. Said feature allows party-goers to upload images and video to the event page for everyone who attended that event to check out.  We imagine Google could make that whole process automatic for bigger events so you won’t have to fiddle around with uploading multimedia while you should be having a good time.

0 New Google patent suggests automatically sending your videos and photos to law enforcement

Don’t get too alarmed just yet — whether for alerting the authorities or enhancing their own services — they’ll almost certainly have easy and obvious ways to opt-in or opt-out (though we’d definitely prefer the former over the latter) to such features.

In fact, several illustrations and descriptions within the patent (see image below) refer to a system where the person who took the photo or video is asked if they’d like to include their content in whatever repository he or she may be uploading to. Still not convinced? Well, it’s easy enough to disable geo-location features in the camera or take images in airplane mode, so there’s that.

google image repo patent New Google patent suggests automatically sending your videos and photos to law enforcement

One the one hand it seems like Google is approaching this with the idea that users will know exactly what they’re getting into before they get into it. On the other hand, it’s hard to shake their own emphasis on law enforcement agencies and news organizations.

Google has been scrutinized, chastised, and criticized about privacy issues lately, so if this is an area they tread they’ll do so lightly, and we’ll continue sleeping with one eye open. Let’s hope the company that beats the “don’t be evil” drum louder than anyone else stays true to their word.

Where do you think Google is headed with these new patents and are you further concerned about your privacy after reading this article? And one more wrench to throw into the discussion… what if the data collected by law enforcement agencies was used for the purpose of holding law enforcement agencies accountable? After all, most of those “police brutality” videos are taken by innocent bystanders.

0 New Google patent suggests automatically sending your videos and photos to law enforcement

 

Source: Rob Jackson contributed to this article.

Media ignores Fukushima as probable cause of declining West Coast marine populations

bluefin tuna radiation poisoning 6001 462x264 Media ignores Fukushima as probable cause of declining West Coast marine populations
 
Scientists are warning about an alarming decline of marine life along the western coast of North America, with bizarre episodes of malnourished sea lions, starving brown pelicans, whales and dolphins migrating out of season – and a rapidly and drastically declining sardine population.
Continue reading «Media ignores Fukushima as probable cause of declining West Coast marine populations»

The disappearance of the sardines, a major food source for mammals and seabirds, as well as farmed fish and humans, has become a major topic of discussion – as fishery operations for this small, oily and important forage fish faces sudden collapse.

A collapse of sardine populations

Commercial fishing for sardines off of Canada’s West Coast is worth an estimated $32 million – but now they are suddenly gone. Back in October, fisherman reported that they came back empty-handed without a single fish after 12 hours of trolling and some $1000 spent on fuel.

Sandy Mazza, for the Daily Breeze, reported a similar phenomenon in central California: “[T]he fickle sardines have been so abundant for so many years – sometimes holding court as the most plentiful fish in coastal waters – that it was a shock when he couldn’t find one of the shiny silver-blue coastal fish all summer, even though this isn’t the first time they’ve vanished.” [emphasis added]

It is not only the commercial value of sardines but their importance as a high-energy staple for whales, dolphins, sea lions, bluefin tuna, pelicans and other sea birds that makes this so significant. Steve Marx, a policy analyst for the Pew Charitable Trust, commented that the shortage “does not bode well for everything in the ocean that relies on sardines to get big and fat and healthy.”

Contaminated water from Fukushima has arrived on the West Coast

While the reasons for these changes may be as complex as the ecological food web that connects them, no one is discussing the elephant in the room - Fukushima.

Admittedly, the contaminated radioactive water being dumped into the Pacific Ocean from the Japanese Fukushima plant has been circulating towards the West since the March 2011 nuclear accident.

The research community knew months before the public was told that high concentrations of cesium-137 had reached the shores of Alaska, British Columbia and California, and will soon reach Mexico. This bombardment of contaminated radioactive water will continue for years to come, with the best estimates showing that the levels will not peak for several years.

Cold-water sardines shifting with the Pacific Decadal Oscillation cycle

The likely impact of Fukushima on marine life throughout the Pacific is compounded by the Pacific Decadal Oscillation – which science only discovered as of 1997 but now believes is a major factor in shifting sardine populations and replacing them with anchovies. This cycle shifts the temperature of Pacific water over the course of decades, replacing warmer water with colder and vice versa, according to the North Pacific gyre’s circular clockwise motion.

Only now, the cycling Pacific waters are also carrying with these shifting temperatures the contaminated radioactive waters flowing from Fukushima toward the West Coast - along with the cool water phase that makes high sardine populations less likely.

Earlier last century, the sardine fishery created a huge boom in Monterey, California’s “Cannery Row,” where enormous amounts of the fish were canned, before the population declined sharply to base levels in the late 50s, where they remained until they began rebounding in the mid-1980s, again driving a boom industry and peaking in about 1999. The sardines recovered again starting about 2003 but have since headed straight for the bottom again after peak numbers at nearly the same time as the Fukushima disaster.

How it is impacting whales and other marine life

The shortage of sardines and other prey is being blamed for some 1,600 sea lion pups that have been diagnosed as “malnourished” by marine biologists working along the West Coast. It is believed that the mother seals didn’t produce enough milk to sustain their young. The same was found with brown pelicans, who’ve demonstrated tell-tale signs of starvation and produced fewer babies.

The quota for the sardine catch was lowered back in November by the Pacific Fishery Management Council after confirmation of severely dwindling population numbers; environmental groups like Oceana have demanded a complete halt to sardine fishing to prevent collapse.

“Is it El Nino? Pacific Decadal Oscillation? [La] Nina? Long-term climate change? More marine mammals eating sardines? Did they all go to Mexico or farther offshore? We don’t know. We’re pretty sure the overall population has declined. We manage them pretty conservatively because we don’t want to end up with another Cannery Row so, as the population declines, we curb fishing.” said National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) official Kerry Griffin.

The Monterey County Weekly, a regional publication, highlighted some of the majesty of humpback whale watching ahead of its feature article on the decline of sardines, in part due to over-fishing.

Author David Schmalz wrote, “There’s so much poetry in motion that it’s hard to resist the idea that you are witnessing something historic, that these humpback whales – nearly all of whom normally migrate to Mexico some time in the fall – are trying to tell us something. And they are, if we listen.”

The message is that anchovies have replaced much of the missing sardines as a major marine food source, which may explain the early migration of huge populations of whales.

Yet some fisherman have also turned up a zero-catch on anchovies, just after pulling in giant hauls that many have been relying upon to replace their usual sardine catch. Others have increasingly turned to market squid.

There are other signs, too, of things out of the ordinary: the first ever documented, photographed case of conjoined twin Gray whales washed up on shores in Baja California, Mexico – underdeveloped and apparently miscarried. There is no immediate explanation for the abnormal occurrence.

-Source: http://covertreport.com

The Anti-fracking Activist Barred from 312.5 Square Miles of Pennsylvania, Including the County Hospital

fracking The Anti fracking Activist Barred from 312.5 Square Miles of Pennsylvania, Including the County Hospital

The Anti-fracking Activist Barred from 312.5 Square Miles of Pennsylvania, Including the County Hospital

Vera Scroggins, an outspoken opponent of fracking, is legally barred from the new county hospital. Also off-limits, unless Scroggins wants to risk fines and arrest, are the Chinese restaurant where she takes her grandchildren, the supermarkets and drug stores where she shops, the animal shelter where she adopted her Yorkshire terrier, bowling alley, recycling centre, golf club, and lake shore.
Continue reading «The Anti-fracking Activist Barred from 312.5 Square Miles of Pennsylvania, Including the County Hospital»

In total, 312.5 sq miles are no-go areas for Scroggins under a sweeping court order granted by a local judge that bars her from any properties owned or leased by one of the biggest drillers in the Pennsylvanianatural gas rush, Cabot Oil & Gas Corporation.

“They might as well have put an ankle bracelet on me with a GPS on it and be able to track me wherever I go,” Scroggins said. “I feel like I am some kind of a prisoner, that my rights have been curtailed, have been restricted.”

The ban represents one of the most extreme measures taken by the oil and gas industry to date against protesters like Scroggins, who has operated peacefully and within the law including taking Yoko Ono to frack sites in her bid to elevate public concerns about fracking.

It was always going to be an unequal fight when Scroggins, now 63, made it her self-appointed mission five years ago to stop fracking in this, the richest part of the Marcellus Shale.

Just how unequal became clear on 21 October when the case of Cabot v Scroggins came before a local judge, Kenneth Seamans, in the Montrose court house.

Cabot turned up with four lawyers and nine witnesses, employees of the company and the firm it hired to provide security. Scroggins represented herself. She told the court she had been unable to find a lawyer as the hearing had been called on 72 hours’ notice.

By the time the hearing was over, the judge had granted Cabot a temporary injunction barring Scroggins from all property owned or leased by the company.

“It is hereby ordered that Ms Scroggins is restrained, enjoined and prohibited from entering upon property owned and/or leased by Cabot Oil & Gas Corporation including but not limited to well sites, well pads and access roads,” the injunction reads.

The effect of that ban is far broader than the dry legal language would suggest.

In court filings, Cabot said it holds leases on 200,000 acres of land, equivalent to 312.5 sq miles. That amounts to nearly 40% of the largely rural county in north-eastern Pennsylvania where Scroggins lives and where Cabot does most of its drilling.

The temporary injunction granted on 21 October does not require Cabot to identify or map the lands where it holds drilling leases, putting Scroggins in the bizarre position of having to figure out for herself which areas were off-limits.

Cabot later offered to limit the scope of its exclusion order in court filings seeking to make the injunction permanent. The next hearing on that injunction is scheduled for 24 March.

Scroggins, who now has a lawyer, is fighting to overturn the injunction.

Until then, each trip Scroggins makes outside her home requires a calculation about whether her route will take her on lands or roads leased to Cabot, or a visit to the court house to pore over property records.

“We need a map. We need to know where I can and can not go,” she said. “Can I stop here, or can I not stop here? Is it OK to be here if I go to a business or if I go to a home? I have had to ask and check out every person I go to: ‘are you leased to Cabot’?”

Many of those businesses are, it turns out. Susquehanna County is one of the most active areas in Pennsylvania’s natural gas rush. Eight of the top 10 most productive gas wells are in the county, according to an industry newsletter. All eight belong to Cabot.

Environmental groups say the court – and Cabot – went too far.

“It seems to be an extraordinarily heavy handed reaction by industry and one which was extremely out of proportion to what she has been doing,” said Kate Sinding, a lawyer for the Natural Resources Defence Council.

Campaigners claim other over-reactions by industry and police against fracking opponents – such as the arrest last December of two protesters in Oklahoma for “terrorism hoax”, after they unfurled a banner and dropped glitter on the floor of an office tower owned by Devon Energy.

But Scroggins’ lawyer, George Kinchy, says this was the first time to his knowledge that a company has used the full weight of the law against a single activist.

He also said Cabot was lucky Scroggins was not represented by a lawyer at the hearing.

The company was not pressed to demonstrate the gas leases gave it the right to make such absolute decisions about access. “They have no proof that they had the right to exclude her. They didn’t present evidence of leases that gave them the right to treat the property as their own,” he said.

Cabot refused several requests to respond, beyond a brief email statement from spokesman, George Stark. “Cabot has a policy of not commenting specifically on litigation to which it is a party,” the statement reads. “That being said, Cabot supports an individual’s right to free speech and regrets having to seek relief from the court in order to prevent Ms Scroggins from repeatedly trespassing on company property, where she could potentially jeopardise the safety of herself and others.”

However, the company arranged for Tom Shepstone, a consultant who blogs at Natural Gas Now, to speak on its behalf. Shepstone said the injunction was overdue.

“I’m proud of Cabot and what they’ve done because they’re saying we’re not going to take this any longer,” he said.

Cabot in court filings does not accuse Scroggins of violence or of causing harm to property, and she has never been arrested or charged with trespass. She has not chained herself to machinery, or staged sit-ins.

But Shepstone argued Scroggins had upset too many people to be tolerated. “I believe she is a public menace because what she does is she essentially trespasses not so much on property – though she does do that – but she trespasses on the soul of the community,” he said. “She does not allow the people of this community any peace.”

In the five years since fracking came to north-eastern Pennsylvania, Scroggins has been relentless in trying to exposing the risks associated with the industry.

Scroggins and her then husband moved to this very rural area of north-eastern Pennsylvania from Long Island, New York more than 20 years ago, when their children were small. After various careers, Scroggins, now a grandmother, considers herself a full-time activist.

She has visited frack sites – posting up to 500 videos on YouTube. She has called in health and environmental regulators at perceived violations, and she has organised bus tours of frack sites for anyone who is interested – from Yoko Ono and Susan Sarandon to visiting Canadian elected officials.

None of that activity by Scroggins or other activists was illegal, or presented a public danger, according to Jason Legg, the district attorney for Susquehana County.

“I don’t recall any major protests or people trespassing on any property,” he said.

Even by Cabot’s own admission, in court testimony last October, Scroggins seems to have been more nuisance than danger. Her biggest and most repeated offence, according to court testimony, appears to have been parking her car on access roads – and at times even on the narrow public county roads – at angles that required the big water tankers to swerve around her.

Scroggins, who does not appear adverse to confrontation, was also insistent on talking to personnel on site. But in every instance cited by Cabot witnesses, she left the area within 5 or 10 minutes – sometimes after they threatened to call police.

By 2011 those repeat visits to gas sites made Scroggins public enemy number one, so far as Cabot was concerned.

Cabot’s security contractor, Northeast Diversified Services told the court it had posted photographs of Scroggins in their guards’ campers, and had been following the activist since 2011.

“Yes, we follow you, yes, from site to site,” the company’s vice-president, Thomas Tolan, told the court.

Scroggins wasn’t winning friends in the community either. There are landowners in Susquehana County who have made money off leasing their land to Cabot and other gas companies for fracking. “The consensus is basically that it has been a lifeline to an area that was struggling,” Legg said.

In a small town like Montrose, population 1,600, Scroggins’ forceful brand of activism appears to have been too much for some – though she has a hard core of supporters.

In a recent visit to the court house to check on Cabot leases, she was scolded by a court official just for striking up a conversation with the person beside her at the counter.

A few minutes later, Thomas Meagher, the county solicitor, said Scroggins brought her legal problems down on herself by failing to following the “unwritten rules” of civilised discourse.

Scroggins rejects the idea that “nice” has anything to do with it. “I am doing this as nicely as I feel is warranted. I have other concerned citizen friends who play passive and they don’t get anything done more than I do. They are just in the background,” she said. “They are playing passive and nobody even hears about them. Those who want to play that womanly role, they can play it. I don’t have to.”

As for Cabot and her critics in the community, “They can just get used to it,” Scroggins said.

Source:  http://www.alternet.org/authors/suzanne-goldenberg

‘Our views are far apart’: German chancellor slams US, UK over spying

Germany slams US and UK for spying ‘Our views are far apart’: German chancellor slams US, UK over spying
 
Countries spying on their allies sow distrust that could result in less, rather than more security, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has warned. She particularly referred to the surveillance and spying activities by the US and the UK.
Continue reading «‘Our views are far apart’: German chancellor slams US, UK over spying»

“But does that make it right for our closest allies, like the United States or Britain, to access all imaginable data – arguing that it helps their own security and that of their partners?” Chancellor Angela Merkel told the Parliament in the first major policy speech of her third term.

Merkel, who herself was a target of US eavesdropping on her personal phone calls, warned that using “everything that is technically do-able” to obtain information leads to mistrust between allies, which would eventually undermine their mutual security.

The US, however, says its surveillance practices are focused on threats to national security, including terrorism. In its recent interview, US President Barack Obama assured Merkel that she does not need to worry about NSA surveillance, even though the Agency would continue surveillance on foreign governments.

“Can it be right that it’s not just about defending against terrorist threats but also to gain advantage over their allies, for example, in negotiations at G20 summits or UN sessions?”“Our answer can only be: ‘No, that cannot be right’.”

Merkel is set to meet with US Secretary of State John Kerry in Berlin on Friday to discuss “on the transatlantic partnership and global political issues”. The NSA and its surveillance practices are expected to be on the agenda.

“Our views are today far apart,” Merkel said.

In October, Merkel, who grew up in East Germany, where phone tapping was common practice, compared the NSA’s spying to that of the Stasi secret police in the former German Democratic Republic. Following the revelations, Merkel accused the US of a grave breach of trust.

The Chancellor has reiterated that Berlin was now driving efforts for “a European no spying”agreement and new rules to safeguard data privacy.

Since reports about spying emerged, Merkel’s government has been pressing for a “no spying” agreement with Washington. However, the US seems to be reluctant to sign such deal, the Süddeutsche Zeitung reported in mid-January, citing a Federal Intelligence Service (BND) employee as saying: “We’re getting nothing.”

Negotiations on an anti-spying agreement began in August last year, after whistleblower Edward Snowden started leaking classified data in June. In her Wednesday speech Angela Merkel still vowed to continue negotiations.

“Many say the attempts for such an agreement are doomed to failure from the outset, an unrealistic endeavour. That may be,” Merkel said. “Certainly the problem won’t be solved by just one visit.”

Top lawyer to MPs: GCHQ mass surveillance largely illegal

gchq surveillance illegal lawyer Top lawyer to MPs: GCHQ mass surveillance largely illegal
 
A substantial part of the GCHQ’s dragnet snooping program is most likely illegal and was approved by government ministers despite breaching human rights and surveillance laws, a legal analysis requested by British MPs has found, The Guardian reports.
Continue reading «Top lawyer to MPs: GCHQ mass surveillance largely illegal»

In a 32-page opinion, leading public law barrister Jemima Stratford QC warns that Britain’s primary surveillance law is vague to the point of allowing the British intelligence agency to ignore privacy safeguards laid out by the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).

The advice cited by The Guardian says that the murkiness of the law has created a situation where GCHQ staff are able to reply on “gaps in the current statutory framework to commit serious crime with impunity.”

The paper explicitly warns that GCHQ staff who passed on intelligence which was later used in the commission of a US drone strike against “non-combatants” could later face dire consequences.

“An individual involved in passing that information is likely to be an accessory to murder. It is well arguable, on a variety of different bases, that the government is obliged to take reasonable steps to investigate that possibility,” The Guardian cites the advice as saying.

The opinion suggested the UK should consider publishing a Memorandum of Understanding with any country it shares intelligence with that would clarify what the data is used for under British law. It would also outline how the data would be stored and destroyed.

All 46 members of the all-party parliamentary group on drones, chaired by Labour MP Tom Watson, were sent the legal advice.

nsa 1 Top lawyer to MPs: GCHQ mass surveillance largely illegal
 

Regulatory lapse

The cross-party parliamentary group reportedly sought the legal advice after receiving reports that the CIA relied on NSA surveillance to conduct the CIA’s clandestine drone program.

The advice, based on five hypothetical scenarios, found multiple areas in which the GCHQ had legally overstepped its bounds under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (RIPA) which establishes the powers of public bodies to carry out surveillance and investigation.

- GCHQ is not allowed to intercept “internal” contents data between two British residents under RIPA, even if the data is routed via a transatlantic cable;

- GCHQ can intercept metadata and “external” contents data under RIPA, although this is considered a disproportionate interference with Article 8 of the ECHR;

- The executive has retained a largely unrestrained discretion to permit transfer of UK data to the NSA under RIPA;

- RIPA does not place any restriction on the uses to which intercept material might be put, other than its admissibility in court;
 
 
nsa 2 Top lawyer to MPs: GCHQ mass surveillance largely illegal

- The current framework for the retention, use and destruction of metadata is inadequate and potentially unlawful.

- The government has an obligation to investigate and prevent UK agents, visiting forces and visiting agents becoming “accidental” accessories to murder under domestic law, if data or facilities are knowingly given to the US, even though it will be used in a drone strike that is most likely unlawful under UK law;

It also noted that RIPA has been left behind as advances in technology have rendered virtually meaningless the difference between “contents” and “communications” data.

The advice says RIPA gives “too wide a discretion” to UK Foreign Secretary William Hague, and “provides almost no meaningful restraint on the exercise of executive discretion in respect of external communications.”

Such surveillance may also be a breach of the ECHR, it adds.

“We consider the mass interception of external contents and communications data is unlawful. The indiscriminate interception of data, solely by reference to the request of the executive, is a disproportionate interference with the private life of the individuals concerned.”

In June 2013, media reports using thousands of documents leaked by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden extensively detailed the surveillance activities of GCHQ and its larger US counterpart, the NSA.

One of the key revelations focused on Operation Tempora, a GCHQ program that mines vast amounts of information by tapping into undersea cables that carry internet and phone traffic passing in and out of the UK. GCHQ and Hague, have repeatedly insisted the agency acts in accordance with the law.

gqqqqq 1 Top lawyer to MPs: GCHQ mass surveillance largely illegal

Last year, Hague told MPs: “It has been suggested GCHQ uses our partnership with the US to get around UK law, obtaining information that they cannot legally obtain in the UK. I wish to be absolutely clear that this accusation is baseless.”

GCHQ also maintains all its work is “carried out in accordance with a strict legal and policy framework which ensures that our activities are authorized, necessary and proportionate, and that there is rigorous oversight, including from the secretary of state, the interception and intelligence Services commissioners and the parliamentary intelligence and security committee.”

Last week, however, the ECHR ordered British ministers to provide submissions on mass GCHQ’s surveillance programs to determine whether they had violated the European convention on human rights.

Meanwhile, GCHQ chief Iain Lobban announced he will step down by year’s end, the Foreign Office said. Officials denied his departure was linked to public anger over the Snowden revelations.

Source: RT