Archive for June, 2018

ACLU, EFF challenging US ‘secret’ court orders seeking Twitter data

Saturday, June 30th, 2018

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Late last month, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) filed objections to the United States Government’s ‘secret’ attempts to obtain Twitter account information relating to WikiLeaks. The ACLU and EFF cite First and Fourth amendment issues as overriding reasons to overturn government attempts to keep their investigation secret; and, that with Birgitta Jonsdottir being an Icelandic Parliamentarian, the issue has serious international implications.

The case, titled “In the Matter of the 2703(d) Order Relating to Twitter Accounts: Wikileaks, Rop_G, IOERROR; and BirgittaJ“, has been in the EFF’s sights since late last year when they became aware of the US government’s attempts to investigate WikiLeaks-related communications using the popular microblogging service.

The key objective of this US government investigation is to obtain data for the prosecution of Bradley Manning, alleged to have supplied classified data to WikiLeaks. In addition to Manning’s Twitter account, and that of WikiLeaks (@wikileaks), the following three accounts are subject to the order: @ioerror, @birgittaj, and @rop_g. These, respectively, belong to Jacob Apelbaum, Birgitta Jonsdottir, and Rop Gonggrijp.

Birgitta is not the only non-US citizen with their Twitter account targeted by the US Government; Gonggrijp, a Dutch ‘ex-hacker’-turned-security-expert, was one of the founders of XS4ALL – the first Internet Service Provider in the Netherlands available to the public. He has worked on a mobile phone that can encrypt conversations, and proven that electronic voting systems can readily be hacked.

In early March, a Virginia magistrate judge ruled that the government could have the sought records, and neither the targeted users, or the public, could see documents submitted to justify data being passed to the government. The data sought is as follows:

  1. Personal contact information, including addresses
  2. Financial data, including credit card or bank account numbers
  3. Twitter account activity information, including the “date, time, length, and method of connections” plus the “source and destination Internet Protocol address(es)”
  4. Direct Message (DM) information, including the email addresses and IP addresses of everyone with whom the Parties have exchanged DMs

The order demands disclosure of absolutely all such data from November 1, 2009 for the targeted accounts.

The ACLU and EFF are not only challenging this, but demanding that all submissions made by the US government to justify the Twitter disclosure are made public, plus details of any other such cases which have been processed in secret.

Bradley Manning, at the time a specialist from Maryland enlisted with the United States Army’s 2nd Brigade, 10th Mountain Division, was arrested in June last year in connection with the leaking of classified combat video to WikiLeaks.

The leaked video footage, taken from a US helicopter gunship, showed the deaths of Reuters staff Saeed Chmagh and Namir Noor-Eldeen during a U.S. assault in Baghdad, Iraq. The wire agency unsuccessfully attempted to get the footage released via a Freedom of Information Act request in 2007.

When WikiLeaks released the video footage it directly contradicted the official line taken by the U.S. Army asserting that the deaths of the two Reuters staff were “collateral damage” in an attack on Iraqi insurgents. The radio chatter associated with the AH-64 Apache video indicated the helicopter crews had mistakenly identified the journalists’ equipment as weaponry.

The US government also claims Manning is linked to CableGate; the passing of around a quarter of a million classified diplomatic cables to WikiLeaks. Manning has been in detention since July last year; in December allegations of torture were made to the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights regarding the conditions under which he was and is being detained.

Reports last month that he must now sleep naked and attend role call at the U.S. Marine facility in Quantico in the same state, raised further concern over his detention conditions. Philip J. Crowley, at-the-time a State Department spokesman, remarked on this whilst speaking at Massachusetts Institute of Technology; describing the current treatment of Manning as “ridiculous and counterproductive and stupid”, Crowley was, as a consequence, put in the position of having to tender his resignation to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Despite his native Australia finding, in December last year, that Assange’s WikiLeaks had not committed any criminal offences in their jurisdiction, the U.S. government has continued to make ongoing operations very difficult for the whistleblower website.

The result of the Australian Federal Police investigation left the country’s Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, having to retract a statement that WikiLeaks had acted “illegally”; instead, she characterised the site’s actions as “grossly irresponsible”.

Even with Australia finding no illegal activity on the part of WikiLeaks, and with founder Julian Assange facing extradition to Sweden, U.S. pressure sought to hobble WikiLeaks financially.

Based on a State Department letter, online payments site PayPal suspended WikiLeaks account in December. Their action was swiftly followed by Visa Europe and Mastercard ceasing to handle payments for WikiLeaks.

The online processing company, Datacell, threatened the two credit card giants with legal action over this. However, avenues of funding for the site were further curtailed when both Amazon.com and Swiss bank PostFinance joined the financial boycott of WikiLeaks.

Assange continues, to this day, to argue that his extradition to Sweden for questioning on alleged sexual offences is being orchestrated by the U.S. in an effort to discredit him, and thus WikiLeaks.

Wikinews consulted an IT and cryptography expert from the Belgian university which developed the current Advanced Encryption Standard; explaining modern communications, he stated: “Cryptography has developed to such a level that intercepting communications is no longer cost effective. That is, if any user uses the correct default settings, and makes sure that he/she is really connecting to Twitter it is highly unlikely that even the NSA can break the cryptography for a protocol such as SSL/TLS (used for https).”

Qualifying this, he commented that “the vulnerable parts of the communication are the end points.” To make his point, he cited the following quote from Gene Spafford: “Using encryption on the Internet is the equivalent of arranging an armored car to deliver credit card information from someone living in a cardboard box to someone living on a park bench.

Continuing, the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (KUL) expert explained:

In the first place, the weak point is Twitter itself; the US government can go and ask for the data; companies such as Twitter and Google will typically store quite some information on their users, including IP addresses (it is known that Google deletes the last byte of the IP address after a few weeks, but it is not too hard for a motivated opponent to find out what this byte was).
In the second place, this is the computer of the user: by exploiting system weaknesses (with viruses, Trojan horses or backdoors in the operating system) a highly motivated opponent can enter your machine and record your keystrokes plus everything that is happening (e.g. the FBI is known to do this with the so-called Magic Lantern software). Such software is also commercially available, e.g. for a company to monitor its employees.
It would also be possible for a higly motivated opponent to play “man-in-the-middle”; that means that instead of having a secure connection to Twitter.com, you have a secure connection to the attacker’s server, who impersonates Twitter’s and then relays your information to Twitter. This requires tricks such as spoofing DNS (this is getting harder with DNSsec), or misleading the user (e.g. the user clicks on a link and connects to tw!tter.com or Twitter.c0m, which look very similar in a URL window as Twitter.com). It is clear that the US government is capable of using these kind of tricks; e.g., a company has been linked to the US government that was recognized as legitimate signer in the major browsers, so it would not be too large for them to sign a legitimate certificate for such a spoofing webserver; this means that the probability that a user would detect a problem would be very low.
As for traffic analysis (finding out who you are talking to rather than finding out what you are telling to whom), NSA and GCHQ are known to have access to lots of traffic (part of this is obtained via the UK-USA agreement). Even if one uses strong encryption, it is feasible for them to log the IP addresses and email addresses of all the parties you are connecting to. If necessary, they can even make routers re-route your traffic to their servers. In addition, the European Data Retention directive forces all operators to store such traffic data.
Whether other companies would have complied with such requests: this is very hard to tell. I believe however that it is very plausible that companies such as Google, Skype or Facebook would comply with such requests if they came from a government.
In summary: unless you go through great lengths to log through to several computers in multiple countries, you work in a clean virtual machine, you use private browser settings (don’t accept cookies, no plugins for Firefox, etc.) and use tools such as Tor, it is rather easy for any service provider to identify you.
Finally: I prefer not to be quoted on any sentences in which I make statements on the capabilities or actions of any particular government.

Wikinews also consulted French IT security researcher Stevens Le Blond on the issues surrounding the case, and the state-of-the-art in monitoring, and analysing, communications online. Le Blond, currently presenting a research paper on attacks on Tor to USENIX audiences in North America, responded via email:

Were the US Government to obtain the sought data, it would seem reasonable the NSA would handle further investigation. How would you expect them to exploit the data and expand on what they receive from Twitter?

  • Le Blond: My understanding is that the DOJ is requesting the following information: 1) Connection records and session times 2) IP addresses 3) e-mail addresses 4) banking info
By requesting 1) and 2) for Birgitta and other people involved with WikiLeaks (WL) since 2009, one could derive 2 main [pieces of] information.
First, he could tell the mobility of these people. Recent research in networking shows that you can map an IP address into a geographic location with a median error of 600 meters. So by looking at changes of IP addresses in time for a Twitter user, one could tell (or at least speculate about) where that person has been.
Second, by correlating locations of different people involved with WL in time, one could possibly derive their interactions and maybe even their level of involvement with WL. Whether it is possible to derive this information from 1) and 2) depends on how this people use Twitter. For example, do they log on Twitter often enough, long enough, and from enough places?
My research indicates that this is the case for other Internet services but I cannot tell whether it is the case for Twitter.
Note that even though IP logging, as done by Twitter, is similar to the logging done by GSM [mobile phone] operators, the major difference seems to be that Twitter is subject to US regulation, no matter the citizenship of its users. I find this rather disturbing.
Using 3), one could search for Birgitta on other Internet services, such as social networks, to find more information on her (e.g., hidden accounts). Recent research on privacy shows that people tend to use the same e-mail address to register an account on different social networks (even when they don’t want these accounts to be linked together). Obviously, one could then issue subpoenas for these accounts as well.
I do not have the expertise to comment on what could be done with 4).
((WN)) As I believe Jonsdottir to be involved in the Icelandic Modern Media Initiative (IMMI), what are the wider implications beyond the “WikiLeaks witchhunt”?
  • Le Blond: Personal data can be used to discredit, especially if the data is not public.

Having been alerted to the ongoing case through a joint press release by the ACLU and EFF, Wikinews sought clarification on the primary issues which the two non-profits saw as particularly important in challenging the U.S. Government over the ‘secret’ court orders. Rebecca Jeschke, Media Relations Director for the EFF, explained in more detail the points crucial to them, responding to a few questions from Wikinews on the case:

((WN)) As a worse-case, what precedents would be considered if this went to the Supreme Court?
  • Rebecca Jeschke: It’s extremely hard to know at this stage if this would go to the Supreme Court, and if it did, what would be at issue. However, some of the interesting questions about this case center on the rights of people around the world when they use US Internet services. This case questions the limits of US law enforcement, which may turn out to be very different from the limits in other countries.
((WN)) Since this is clearly a politicised attack on free speech with most chilling potential repercussions for the press, whistleblowers, and by-and-large anyone the relevant U.S. Government departments objects to the actions of, what action do you believe should be taken to protect free speech rights?
  • Jeschke: We believe that, except in very rare circumstances, the government should not be permitted to obtain information about individuals’ private Internet communications in secret. We also believe that Internet companies should, whenever possible, take steps to ensure their customers are notified about requests for information and have the opportunity to respond.
((WN)) Twitter via the web, in my experience, tends to use https:// connections. Are you aware of any possibility of the government cracking such connections? (I’m not up to date on the crypto arms race).
  • Jeschke: You don’t need to crack https, per se, to compromise its security. See this piece about fraudulent https certificates:
Iranian hackers obtain fraudulent httpsEFF website.
((WN)) And, do you believe that far, far more websites should – by default – employ https:// connections to protect people’s privacy?
  • Jeschke: We absolutely think that more websites should employ https! Here is a guide for site operators: (See external links, Ed.)

Finally, Wikinews approached the Icelandic politician, and WikiLeaks supporter, who has made this specific case a landmark in how the U.S. Government handles dealings with – supposedly – friendly governments and their elected representatives. A number of questions were posed, seeking the Icelandic Parliamentarian’s views:

((WN)) How did you feel when you were notified the US Government wanted your Twitter account, and message, details? Were you shocked?
  • Birgitta Jonsdottir: I felt angry but not shocked. I was expecting something like this to happen because of my involvement with WikiLeaks. My first reaction was to tweet about it.
((WN)) What do you believe is their reasoning in selecting you as a ‘target’?
  • Jonsdottir: It is quite clear to me that USA authorities are after Julian Assange and will use any means possible to get even with him. I think I am simply a pawn in a much larger context. I did of course both act as a spokesperson for WikiLeaks in relation to the Apache video and briefly for WikiLeaks, and I put my name to the video as a co-producer. I have not participated in any illegal activity and thus being a target doesn’t make me lose any sleep.
((WN)) Are you concerned that, as a Member of Parliament involved in the Icelandic Modern Media Initiative (IMMI), the US attempt to obtain your Twitter data is interfering with planned Icelandic government policy?
  • Jonsdottir: No
((WN)) In an earlier New York Times (NYT) article, you’re indicating there is nothing they can obtain about you that bothers you; but, how do you react to them wanting to know everyone you talk to?
  • Jonsdottir: It bothers me and according to top computer scientists the government should be required to obtain a search warrant to get our IP addresses from Twitter. I am, though, happy I am among the people DOJ is casting their nets around because of my parliamentary immunity; I have a greater protection then many other users and can use that immunity to raise the issue of lack of rights for those that use social media.
HAVE YOUR SAY
Do you believe the U.S. government should have the right to access data on foreign nationals using services such as Twitter?
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((WN)) The same NYT article describes you as a WikiLeaks supporter; is this still the case? What attracts you to their ‘radical transparency’?
  • Jonsdottir: I support the concept of WikiLeaks. While we don’t have a culture of protection for sources and whistleblowers we need sites like WikiLeaks. Plus, I think it is important to give WikiLeaks credit for raising awareness about in how bad shape freedom of information and expression is in our world and it is eroding at an alarming rate because of the fact that legal firms for corporations and corrupt politicians have understood the borderless nature of the legalities of the information flow online – we who feel it is important that people have access to information that should remain in the public domain need to step up our fight for those rights. WikiLeaks has played an important role in that context.I don’t support radical transparency – I understand that some things need to remain secret. It is the process of making things secret that needs to be both more transparent and in better consensus with nations.
((WN)) How do you think the Icelandic government would have reacted if it were tens of thousands of their diplomatic communications being leaked?
  • Jonsdottir: I am not sure – A lot of our dirty laundry has been aired via the USA cables – our diplomatic communications with USA were leaked in those cables, so far they have not stirred much debate nor shock. It is unlikely for tens of thousands of cables to leak from Iceland since we dont have the same influence or size as the USA, nor do we have a military.
((WN)) Your ambassador in the US has spoken to the Obama administration. Can you discuss any feedback from that? Do you have your party’s, and government’s, backing in challenging the ordered Twitter data release?
  • Jonsdottir: I have not had any feedback from that meeting, I did however receive a message from the DOJ via the USA ambassador in Iceland. The message stated three things: 1. I am free to travel to the USA. 2. If I would do so, I would not be a subject of involuntary interrogation. 3. I am not under criminal investigation. If this is indeed the reality I wonder why they are insisting on getting my personal details from Twitter. I want to stress that I understand the reasoning of trying to get to Assange through me, but I find it unacceptable since there is no foundation for criminal investigation against him. If WikiLeaks goes down, all the other media partners should go down at the same time. They all served similar roles. The way I see it is that WikiLeaks acted as the senior editor of material leaked to them. They could not by any means be considered a source. The source is the person that leaks the material to WikiLeaks. I am not sure if the media in our world understands how much is at stake for already shaky industry if WikiLeaks will carry on carrying the brunt of the attacks. I think it would be powerful if all the medias that have had access to WikiLeaks material would band together for their defence.
((WN)) Wikinews consulted a Belgian IT security expert who said it was most likely companies such as Facebook, Microsoft, and Google, would have complied with similar court orders *without advising the ‘targets*’. Does that disturb you?
  • Jonsdottir: This does disturb me for various reasons. The most obvious is that my emails are hosted at google/gmail and my search profile. I dont have anything to hide but it is important to note that many of the people that interact with me as a MP via both facebook and my various email accounts don’t always realize that there is no protection for them if they do so via those channels. I often get sensitive personal letters sent to me at facebook and gmail. In general most people are not aware of how little rights they have as users of social media. It is those of uttermost importance that those sites will create the legal disclaimers and agreements that state the most obvious rights we lose when we sign up to their services.
This exclusive interview features first-hand journalism by a Wikinews reporter. See the collaboration page for more details.
((WN)) Has there been any backlash within Iceland against US-based internet services in light of this? Do you expect such, or any increase in anti-American sentiments?
  • Jonsdottir: No, none what so ever. I dont think there is much anti-American sentiments in Iceland and I dont think this case will increase it. However I think it is important for everyone who does not live in the USA and uses social services to note that according to the ruling in my case, they dont have any protection of the 1st and 4th amendment, that only apply to USA citizens. Perhaps the legalities in relation to the borderless reality we live in online need to be upgraded in order for people to feel safe with using social media if it is hosted in the USA. Market tends to bend to simple rules.
((WN)) Does this make you more, or less, determined to see the IMMI succeed?
  • Jonsdottir: More. People have to realize that if we dont have freedom of information online we won’t have it offline. We have to wake up to the fact that our rights to access information that should be in the public domain is eroding while at the same time our rights as citizens online have now been undermined and we are only seen as consumers with consumers rights and in some cases our rights are less than of a product. This development needs to change and change fast before it is too late.

The U.S. Government continues to have issues internationally as a result of material passed to WikiLeaks, and subsequently published.

Within the past week, Ecuador has effectively declared the U.S. ambassador Heather Hodges persona-non-grata over corruption allegations brought to light in leaked cables. Asking the veteran diplomat to leave “as soon as possible”, the country may become the third in South America with no ambassadorial presence. Both Venezuela and Bolivia have no resident U.S. ambassador due to the two left-wing administrations believing the ejected diplomats were working with the opposition.

The U.S. State Department has cautioned Ecuador that a failure to speedily normalise diplomatic relations may jeapordise ongoing trade talks.

The United Kingdom is expected to press the Obama administration over the continuing detention of 23-year-old Manning, who also holds UK citizenship. British lawmakers are to discuss his ongoing detention conditions before again approaching the U.S. with their concerns that his solitary confinement, and treatment therein, is not acceptable.

The 22 charges brought against Manning are currently on hold whilst his fitness to stand trial is assessed.

Cisco sues Apple for iPhone trademark

Saturday, June 30th, 2018

Friday, January 12, 2007

The iPhone only made its appearance as a prototype and there have been controversies aroused.

The dispute has come up between the manufacturer of the iPhone (which was resented on Wednesday for the first time) – Apple Inc. – and a leader in network and communication systems, based in San JoseCisco. The company claims to possess the trademark for iPhone, and moreover, that it sells devices under the same brand through one of its divisions.

This became the reason for Cisco to file a lawsuit against Apple Inc. so that the latter would stop selling the device.

Cisco states that it has received the trademark in 2000, when the company overtook Infogear Technology Corp., which took place in 1996.

The Vice President and general counsel of the company, Mark Chandler, explained that there was no doubt about the excitement of the new device from Apple, but they should not use a trademark, which belongs to Cisco.

The iPhone developed by Cisco is a device which allows users to make phone calls over the voice over Internet protocol (VoIP).

New ‘clean water’ funding for Djibouti’s drought-stricken rural areas

Saturday, June 30th, 2018

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

With the announcement Monday of 2 million in new funding from the European Union (EU), the Republic of Djibouti’s Ministry of Agriculture hopes to provide some relief to an estimated 25,000 rural inhabitants suffering through severe drought conditions. The money, to be channeled through UNICEF for its water and sanitation program, will be used to develop new wells and improve existing ones.

UNICEF is to contribute a further €60,000, as well as technical expertise to the Ministry of Agriculture, who will carry out the bulk of the work.

“The two-year water supply project targeting rural districts is very significant since people living in 45 villages and their 40,000 heads of cattle will have access to clean drinking water,” said Joaquin Gonzalez, EU Representative in Djibouti.

At the same time, the UN aid agency World Food Program (WFP) indicated that it is working with the Ministry of Agriculture and UNICEF to gradually shift Djibouti’s reliance on emergency aid to a Food for Work program, which it hopes will assist nomadic herders in Djibouti with long-term sustainability. “What we are trying to do together with the Ministry of Agriculture and UNICEF is, for example to dig wells so that despite drought, these herders will be able to irrigate their fields,” said Simon Pluess, WFP spokesman. “And, together with the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, we will try and promote vegetable gardens.”

Djibouti has survived harsh drought conditions for the past 5 years. Groundwater is the primary source of water for drinking and irrigation, but has been difficult to exploit and is often contaminated. Almost 50 percent of people in rural Djibouti do not have ready access to properly developed source of drinking water. And, due to the ongoing drought, water availability for livestock is limited. Livestock have shown signs of distress and, subsequently, milk production is down substantially.

Nearly half of all families in Djibouti’s northwest were forced to migrate to find pasture for their livestock. As the droughts continue, the importance of properly maintained wells has become apparent. “Life is harder and harder for us. Years ago there were more rains and also more pastureland for cattle. Now it is good for us to have functioning wells so that we can keep cattle here,” said Anou Amada, farmer in the village of Andoli.

A 2006 survey indicated that only 15 percent of wells in Djibouti were equipped with a protective concrete wall to prevent contamination. Andoli’s well is one of many undergoing repair through WFP’s Food for Work project.

“WFP couldn’t do this alone, so we work with the Ministry of Agriculture and UNICEF to dig wells and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization for vegetable gardens,” said Benoit Thiry, Director, WFP in Djibouti.

When the project is completed in 2008, it will have increased Djibouti’s water pump capacity by adding 25 solar-power pumps, which would compliment the current 61 diesel-powered pumps. “The advantage of solar…is that it is much cheaper and requires less maintenance,” said Omar Habib, UNICEF communication specialist. “We want the people to participate and to appropriate these pumping stations. The government’s role in the long term should be as restricted as possible,” he added.

European football: Santa Cruz to Rovers

Friday, June 29th, 2018

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Paraguayan footballer Roque Santa Cruz has left Bayern Munich for Blackburn Rovers. Roque Santa Cruz signed a four year deal. Roque Santa Cruz became expendable after major signings by Bayern Munich. Santa Cruz became 5th choice striker after Luca Toni, Miroslav Klose, Lucas Podolski and Jan Schlaudraff. Blackburn Rovers beat Manchester City, Porto and Espanyol for the signature of Roque Santa Cruz. The fee is reported to be around £3.4million.

Santa Cruz experienced an injury-plagued and trophy-laden eight-year career in Munich. Santa Cruz scored 31 goals in 155 league appearances and seven goals in 51 UEFA Champions League games for Bayern Munich. He won five German titles, four German Cups and one UEFA Champions League title with Bayern Munich.

Blackburn coach Mark Hughes was quoted as saying, “Santa Cruz is a young player, an international with a good reputation who is playing at a top European club.” and “The good thing from our point of view is that his fitness levels are fine as he has been playing in the Copa America.”

Colleges offering admission to displaced New Orleans students/OH-WY

Friday, June 29th, 2018
See the discussion page for instructions on adding schools to this list and for an alphabetically arranged listing of schools.

Due to the damage by Hurricane Katrina and subsequent flooding, a number of colleges and universities in the New Orleans metropolitan area will not be able to hold classes for the fall 2005 semester. It is estimated that 75,000 to 100,000 students have been displaced. [1]. In response, institutions across the United States and Canada are offering late registration for displaced students so that their academic progress is not unduly delayed. Some are offering free or reduced admission to displaced students. At some universities, especially state universities, this offer is limited to residents of the area.

Contents

  • 1 Overview
  • 2 Ohio
  • 3 Oklahoma
  • 4 Oregon
  • 5 Pennsylvania
  • 6 Rhode Island
  • 7 South Carolina
  • 8 South Dakota
  • 9 Tennessee
  • 10 Texas
  • 11 Utah
  • 12 Vermont
  • 13 Virginia
  • 14 Washington
  • 15 West Virginia
  • 16 Wisconsin
  • 17 Wyoming

Leaked online: UK Home Office non-disclosure agreement with ID card companies

Friday, June 29th, 2018

Saturday, December 6, 2008

The Non-Disclosure agreement for companies working with the UK Government on the National identity card has been leaked on WikiLeaks. The document states, among other things, what rights the Government has to search the properties of companies involved and the obligations on the companies to keep information secret.

Section five of the document states that if a company fails to comply with the agreement, or in other cases at the “sole discretion” of the Home Office, the government may search the property, records and computers of the company. The anonymous individual who leaked the documents has stated that “no search warrant or judicial oversight would be required,” to carry out the search.

The leaker also states that individuals working for the company may have their computers searched “without any suspicion of a crime having been committed,” although the document does require that these searches may only take place “for the purposes of ensuring that all National Identity Scheme information and associated copies are secure in accordance with this agreement or have been destroyed permanently or removed from their possession.

Section two of the document requires that the document is secured in accordance with policy set out by the government, and requires that the information is only disclosed to those who need to have access as part of the identity card programme.

Section four of the document states that it shall be liable to the government for any breach of the agreement, and that, except for obligations required by the Official Secrets Act, the requirements shall no longer apply 25 years after the signing of the agreement, which took place in 2007.

The individual leaking the document has stated that he did so “to bring attention to the manner of construction of the ID scheme and the highly secretive approach being adopted by the UK government.”

Despite the criticism of the scheme, the Home Office has stated that the cards are required to “help protect people from identity fraud and theft,” and “disrupt the use of false and multiple identities by criminals and those involved in terrorist activity.”

Sandra Fluke insists she will not be silenced

Friday, June 29th, 2018

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

In an opinion piece published by CNN on Tuesday, Georgetown University law student and women’s rights advocate Sandra Fluke insisted she will not allow slurs from critics to silence her and other women from continuing to speak out on issues regarding women’s health and contraception.

Fluke has faced slurs and personal attacks after speaking before the House Democratic Steering and Policy Committee in the United States House of Representatives about women’s health and contraception. She was called a “slut” and a “prostitute” by talk radio show host Rush Limbaugh. In response to these attacks, Fluke has received public support from women, members of the media, and politicians including the President of the United States.

Attacking me and women who use contraception by calling us prostitutes and worse cannot silence us.

In her piece for CNN, Fluke took the opportunity to thank her supporters, writing, “By now, many have heard the stories I wanted to share thanks to the congressional leaders and members of the media who have supported me and millions of women in speaking out.” She characterized the “opponents of reproductive health access” who issued personal attacks against her as being motivated by an attempt to change the topic of conversation away from a dialogue about women’s health, and “to silence women’s voices regarding their own health care.”

Fluke wrote that the efforts by some to drown out women from speaking out about women’s health were unsuccessful. She came to this conclusion due to the multitude of positive comments and encouragement sent to her by both female and male individuals urging that contraception medication be considered a medical necessity.

Asserting that she would not remain silent on this issue of women’s health, Fluke wrote, “Attacking me and women who use contraception by calling us prostitutes and worse cannot silence us.”

She noted that a significant majority of women have utilized contraception medication, and commented that there exists a social disconnect between politicians attempting to make it more difficult for women to access this type of health care, and the views of society-at-large about the matter: “Restricting access to such a basic health care service, which 99% of sexually experienced American women have used and 62% of American women are using right now, is out of touch with public sentiment.”

Fluke concluded her piece by emphasizing that those in power should not govern based on ideology: “I am proud to stand with the millions of women and men who recognize that our government should legislate according to the reality of our lives — not for ideology.”

After being banned by Congressman Darrell Issa from speaking before a Committee on Oversight and Government Reform hearing on February 16 which consisted mainly of male panelists, Fluke appeared before a meeting of the House Democratic Steering and Policy Committee convened by Minority leader of the United States House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi on February 23.

Fluke spoke to the committee about the need for contraception to be covered by health care plans offered by employers, as a matter integral to women’s health. She cited multiple cases where women take contraception medication as part of their health care for treatment of medical conditions unrelated to birth control, including two women who suffer from polycystic ovarian syndrome, a woman who is afflicted with endometriosis and another who takes contraception in order to prevent seizures.

Time and time again, women have been silenced in this discussion, a discussion about our own very personal health care decisions.

Speaking before the United States Senate on February 17 along with fellow members Patty Murray, Kirsten Gillibrand, Barbara Boxer, and Charles Schumer, Senator Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire expressed her support for Fluke. Like Fluke, Senator Shaheen pointed out the need not to silence the voices of women in the public government debate about women’s health care: “Time and time again, women have been silenced in this discussion, a discussion about our own very personal health care decisions.” Senator Shaheen concluded her remarks with an explanation as to why she believes women should have significant representation in discussions about their health care: “Women deserve a voice in this debate because, after all, in the end this is about our health and it is about a health care decision that is between women, their families, their doctors, and their own faith.”

President Barack Obama called Fluke on March 2 to express his support for her courage to speak out on issues of women’s health. In his first press conference of 2012 on March 6, he discussed his reasons for deciding to call Fluke.

The President cited his personal thoughts about his own two daughters: “And the reason I called Ms. Fluke is because I thought about Malia and Sasha [Obama’s daughters], and one of the things I want them to do as they get older is to engage in issues they care about, even ones I may not agree with them on. I want them to be able to speak their mind in a civil and thoughtful way. And I don’t want them attacked or called horrible names because they’re being good citizens.”

President Obama went on to state that Fluke served as a positive role model for citizen participation in democracy and society: “And I wanted Sandra to know that I thought her parents should be proud of her, and that we want to send a message to all our young people that being part of a democracy involves argument and disagreements and debate, and we want you to be engaged, and there’s a way to do it that doesn’t involve you being demeaned and insulted, particularly when you’re a private citizen.”

Five police officers killed in Dallas, Texas during sniper attack

Thursday, June 28th, 2018

Sunday, July 10, 2016

On Thursday, five police officers were killed and seven were injured after a sniper attacked a public protest march in downtown Dallas, Texas. Sources indicate at least three other people were taken into custody for questioning relating to the attack. The march was held to protest the shooting deaths of Alton Sterling in Louisiana and Philando Castile in Minnesota during engagements with police officers.

Police identified 25-year-old Micah Johnson as the suspect. Johnson had previously served in the US army, and police reported he said he wanted to exact revenge upon police officers after news of Sterling and Castile’s deaths. Ammunition and weapons were found inside Johnson’s home. Dallas Police reported the policemen were shot at from a height. Officials said two civilians were also injured in the attack.

Micah Johnson served for the United States Army Reserve from 2009 until early 2015, including a tour of Afghanistan. Johnson had no criminal record. His attack was reported to be a lone mission.

After the attack earlier on Thursday, police killed Micah Johnson in El Centro College’s parking lot by a bomb explosion.

Hillary Clinton, 2016 United States presidential election candidate and favorite for the Democratic nomination this July, said, “There is too much violence, too much hate, too much senseless killing, too many people dead who shouldn’t be. No-one has all the answers. We have to find them together.”

After Johnson was killed, Mike Rawlings, Dallas’ mayor, said “We believe now the city is safe”.

Taliban in Pakistan captures convoy bound for NATO troops

Thursday, June 28th, 2018

Thursday, November 13, 2008

On Monday, the Pakistan branch of the Taliban captured a supply convoy of thirteen trucks and two armored Humvees bound for NATO troops, without incurring a single fatality. They made off with millions of dollars worth of sophisticated military equipment, according to The Washington Post.

Approximately 60 masked militants belonging to Tehrik-i-Taliban blocked off part of a roadway in the Khyber Pass. The Taliban forces overran the Pakistani security forces, who were moving the shipment to an American military base, and briefly took the truck drivers prisoner. Although gunfire was exchanged, there were no casualties on either side. After releasing the drivers, the militants opened several captured cargo containers of wheat, distributing most of it to local residents.

The attack, which took place in the North-West Frontier Province, occurred several miles outside the border town of Jamrud. It was celebrated by the victorious fighters who photographed themselves with the captured equipment.

Pakistan’s federal government, which has recently stepped up efforts to contain the lawless tribal province, dispatched helicopters and 500 troops to try and track the hijacked convoy. One local child was killed, and four civilians wounded, by the gunships. The Taliban fighters were reported to have abandoned an American Jeep and one of the Humvees along the road, which were subsequently taken back into possession by Pakistani troops.

The Pakistani newspaper Dawn published a scathing editorial attacking the army’s incompetence and heavy-handed response to the embarrassing loss, referring to the attack as disturbing “both for its audacity and possible implications.”

Police in Britain uncover suspected terrorist plot

Tuesday, June 26th, 2018

Friday, August 11, 2006

The Metropolitan Police’s anti-terrorist branch and security service in London have claimed that a terrorist plot to detonate bombs on nine planes travelling mid-air from the United Kingdom to the United States has been thwarted.

Contents

  • 1 Details of plot emerge
  • 2 Flights disrupted
  • 3 Security restrictions
  • 4 Bank accounts frozen
  • 5 Sources