We begin today’s tales from the dark side with a contradiction from ProPublica:

Judge on NSA Case Cites 9/11 Report, But It Doesn’t Actually Support His Ruling

In a new decision in support of the NSA’s phone metadata surveillance program, U.S. district court Judge William Pauley cites an intelligence failure involving the agency in the lead-up to the 9/11 attacks. But the judge’s cited source, the 9/11 Commission Report, doesn’t actually include the account he gives in the ruling. What’s more, experts say the NSA could have avoided the pre-9/11 failure even without the metadata surveillance program.

National Post with more:

NSA’s phone record collecting is legal despite chance of imperiling ‘civil liberties of every citizen’: judge

A federal judge on Friday found that the National Security Agency’s bulk collection of millions of Americans’ telephone records is legal and a valuable part of the nation’s arsenal to counter the threat of terrorism and “only works because it collects everything.”

But the judge noted that such a program, if unchecked, “imperils the civil liberties of every citizen” and said it was up to the executive and legislative branches of power to decide whether it should be used.

Wired makes a promise:

Glenn Greenwald: ‘A Lot’ More NSA Documents to Come

Nearly seven months after journalist and privacy activist Glenn Greenwald publicized Edward Snowden’s first revelations of the vast scope of the NSA’s digital surveillance, his life has changed absolutely.

Living in Brazil, he is advised not to travel. He’s a hero to privacy activists, and demonized by governments and national security agencies. And in a video keynote address to the Chaos Communication Congress (CCC) in Hamburg today, he promised that he and Edward Snowden aren’t anywhere near finished.

“There are a lot more stories to come, a lot more documents that will be covered,” Greenwald said. “It’s important that we understand what it is we’re publishing, so what we say about them is accurate.”

CNN delivers the news on the man behind that shameful 60 Minutes NSA handjob:

For John Miller, ‘revolving door’ is gateway from CBS News to NYPD

John Miller, who has moved back and forth between public service and journalism like few others in either profession, is doing it again.

This time he’s leaving CBS News, where he has been a senior correspondent for two years, and joining the New York Police Department.

Miller announced his latest move on Thursday. He embodies something that is, for some media critics, a source of great concern: the so-called “revolving door” between the people who cover the news and the people who are being covered.

The Hill casts aspersions:

Cyber spying? China points finger at US

Congress is doubling down on its criticism of alleged Chinese cyber attacks despite recent revelations that the U.S. is engaged in massive spying of its own.

The tough line enjoys rare bipartisan support in divided Washington, culminating in congressional pressure on U.S. companies to shun business with Chinese telecommunications firms. The accusations have infuriated China, which counters that the U.S. is overstating Beijing’s role and unfairly punishing Chinese companies.

“If you think about what China is doing in cyber espionage, it will curl everyone’s toes,” House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) said at a defense symposium in Alabama this summer. “It is the greatest national security threat we face that we are not prepared for.”

Bloomberg News separates:

NSA Scandal May Help Build Cyber-Barriers

The smooth flow of online communication and commerce between Europe and the U.S. is at risk of interruption, thanks in part to naked opportunism on the part of European telecommunications giants. If the governments involved fail to keep online barriers between the continents low, the Internet’s potential to be an engine of global economic growth will be constrained.

Take Deutsche Telekom AG (DTE) (DTE), the largest provider of high-speed Internet access and wireless services in Germany and the largest telecommunications organization in the European Union. To expand, the company will have to acquire additional communications companies; in order to do so, it hopes to free itself from the German government’s 32 percent ownership in the company. It has also expressed a desire to diversify into non-telecommunications lines of business, such as technical-services delivery.

The snooping scandal at the U.S. National Security Agency may help Deutsche Telekom achieve both these goals. T-Systems International GmbH, the company’s 29,000-employee-strong distribution arm for information-technology solutions, has been losing money selling systems-integration and data-processing services. Now, in response to customers’ loss of trust in American services, Reinhard Clemens, T-Systems’ chief executive officer, says he wants to refocus the company on providing cloud services.

The Economic Times omits:

Mobile carriers failed to use tech fixes to thwart spying: expert

The world’s mobile phone carriers have failed to implement technology fixes available since 2008 that would have thwarted the National Security Agency’s ability to eavesdrop on many mobile phone calls, a cyber security expert says.

Karsten Nohl, chief scientist with Berlin’s Security Research Labs, told Reuters ahead of a highly anticipated talk at a conference in Germany that his firm discovered the issue while reviewing security measures implemented by mobile operators around the world.

The Verge has foresight:

US military sees more drones, ‘cyber weapon’ non-proliferation in the future

The $552 billion 2014 military defense budget signed by President Barack Obama will continue to fund high-tech cyber and unmanned aircraft operations. The budget, which grants central Cyber Command $68 million in operational costs alongside more money for research and individual unit operations, instructs agencies to work towards controlling the proliferation of “cyber weapons.” That means stopping the sale or spread of malicious code for “criminal, terrorist, or military activities” while allowing governments and businesses to use it for “legitimate” self-defense.

In addition, the Pentagon must issue a report on how to strengthen ties with small businesses, making them more aware of threats and helping to create plans that protect networks and intellectual property. Building relationships between businesses and federal cyber operations groups has been an issue for the past couple of years, though the focus has generally been on larger information sharing agreements like CISPA. The entire American cyber defense program will also come under a more general review, with a “cyber advisor” appointed to coordinate across agencies. Cyber Command was granted around $67 million for central operations in fiscal year 2013. When its current head, Keith Alexander, steps down next spring, leadership will pass to the next director of the NSA, despite earlier discussion of splitting it into a separate post.

RT delivers job security:

Dozens of ex-Stasi staff remain employed at archives of Germany’s former secret police

The Federal Commission for the Stasi Archives – the East German secret police – was born shortly after German reunification. The agency’s employment of ex-Stasi members is fuelling fear that records of its wrongs will be lost in the annals of history.

The commissioner in charge of the agency admitted in a recent interview that 37 ex-Stasi staffers remain.

On to the Asian crises over zones and bellicose gestures, first with a headline from the Asahi Shimbun about the Japanese prime minister’s visit to a shrine where war criminals are interred:

Anger spreads in Asia over Abe’s visit to Yasukuni

Anger continued to spread through Asia a day after governments condemned Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s visit to Yasukuni Shrine.

His Dec. 26 visit sparked an immediate reaction from Beijing, Seoul and Washington.

The South Korea-Japan parliamentarians’ union called off a delegation to Japan by senior member lawmakers scheduled for January. “It is regrettable because we were trying to lay the groundwork for a summit meeting,” Kim Tae-hwan, acting chairman of the league, told The Asahi Shimbun on Dec. 27.

The Global Times evaluates:

Fury only serves Japanese right wing

In the face of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s latest visit to the Yasukuni Shrine, it is impossible for China to sit back, as this would mean indulgence of foreign provocation.

But it will not be worth it if we mobilize large amount of resources for vengeance. We’d be exhausted.

China must take action instead of verbal condemnation. But this response has to be simple and do no harm to ourselves. Large-scale economic sanctions or even military confrontations over the Diaoyu Islands would be too much for us.

The Japan Times has the latest from Beijing:

Abe will ‘end up an out and out loser in history’ over Yasukuni trip: Chinese councilor

Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi on Saturday roundly condemned Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s visit to war-related Yasukuni Shrine earlier in the week.

Abe “must own up to the wrongdoing, correct the mistake and take concrete measures to remove its egregious impacts,” Yang said in a statement. “We urge Abe to give up any illusion and mend his way.”

Otherwise, Yang warned, Abe will “further discredit himself before Japan’s Asian neighbors and the international community, and end up being an out and out loser in history.”

More from Bloomberg News:

China’s Media Condemns Abe as Boycott Calls Grow on Weibo

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s visit to a war shrine drew condemnation from China’s state media as Chinese consumers took to social media to call for a boycott of Japan’s goods.

“Japan has no future if it continues on its revisionist path,” the People’s Daily, the Communist Party mouthpiece, said in an editorial yesterday. The Global Times called for Abe and senior Japanese government officials who visited the Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo to be barred from China. The China Daily said the pilgrimage was an “intolerable insult” and called for the country to reconsider the relationship with Japan in terms of security, diplomacy and the economy.

An Internet survey on the Sina (SINA) Weibo microblog service had respondents voting about three-to-one in support of a boycott of Japanese products. User comments include people urging a tougher stance against Japan to owners of Japanese-brand cars musing about the need to put up patriotic slogans to avoid vandalism.

After the jump, still more reaction to Abe’s visits, a potential battle over a base, Sri Lankan spy bust, hacking for cetaceans, dark web profits, a royal bonking, costly secrecy, video game as national security risk, I wonder who’s Kissinger now, and real intelligence. . .

Still more from Xinhua:

China says Abe must repent shrine visit

Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi on Saturday declared that Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s visit to the Yasukuni shrine was a mistake that must be corrected.

“The Chinese people cannot be insulted, nor can people of Asia and the world be humiliated. Abe must own up to the wrongdoing, correct the mistake and take concrete measures to remove its egregious effects,” said Yang in the statement.

“We urge Abe to give up illusion and mend his ways, otherwise he will further discredit himself before Japan’s neighbors and the international community,” he said.

The Mainichi delivers another judgment:

Tension after Abe’s shrine visit ‘regrettable’: U.N. chief’s spokesman

U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki Moon is aware of Japanese Prime Minister’s visit to the war-linked Yasukuni Shrine and the reactions the move generated from its East Asian neighbors, and it is “regrettable” that the region is still troubled by historical tensions, the office of Ban’s spokesperson said Friday.

Ban “has been consistent in urging the countries in the region to come to a common view and understanding of their shared history” and “stresses the need to be sensitive to the feelings of others, especially memory of victims,” the office said.

JapanToday assesses:

Abe’s shrine visit raises risk of conflict, analysts say

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s inflammatory visit to a Tokyo war shrine demonstrates his determination to drag pacifist Japan to the right and nudges Northeast Asia a significant step closer to conflict, analysts say.

Already-frayed ties in the region will be further damaged by what Abe claimed was a pledge against war, but what one-time victims of Japan’s aggression see as a glorification of past militarism.

Abe’s forthright views on history—he has previously questioned the definition of “invade” in relation to Japan’s military adventurism last century—have raised fears over the direction he wants to take officially-pacifist Japan.

The Asahi Shimbun makes another assessment:

Abe grossly misjudged U.S. reaction before making Yasukuni visit

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe appears to have badly misjudged Washington’s reaction to his surprise Dec. 26 visit to Yasukuni Shrine.

In a rare public criticism, the U.S. government expressed disappointment at Abe’s first visit as prime minister to the Tokyo shrine that memorializes Japanese war dead along with 14 Class-A war criminals. Both the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo and the U.S. State Department in Washington expressed their concerns over Abe’s visit.

The outing was such a well-kept secret that an aide to Abe reported being surprised to see the prime minister in formal attire on the morning of Dec. 26, just hours before he made the Yasukuni visit.

More from the Mainichi:

State Dep’t statement puts exclamation point on U.S. displeasure with PM’s Yasukuni visit

The United States Department of State issued a statement Dec. 26 saying that the U.S. government was “disappointed” with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s visit that day to the controversial Yasukuni Shrine, where Class-A World War II war criminals are enshrined along with Japan’s war dead.

While the content of the State Department’s statement was the same as that issued by the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo, the fact that Washington joined its Tokyo mission in criticizing Japan directly adds an exclamation point to the U.S.’s displeasure with Abe’s trip to Yasukuni. If there was any doubt about the U.S.’s attitude, it was cleared up on Dec. 27 when a conference call was postponed between Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera and U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, which had been scheduled to discuss the confirmation of the land reclamation project in the Henoko district of Nago, Okinawa Prefecture, to relocate the U.S. Marines’ Air Station Futenma.

China Daily makes another evaluation:

Japan’s PM under fire at home

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s visit to the Yasukuni Shrine on Thursday prompted Japan’s own politicians, including one of Abe’s political allies, to express their concerns about Japan’s future path and its relations with Asian neighbors.

Critics included Natsuo Yamaguchi, leader of the New Komeito Party, which is part of the ruling coalition led by Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party. Yamaguchi said his party had urged Abe to avoid visiting the shrine, which honors Japanese leaders convicted as war criminals after World War II.

The Global Times has Seoul:

Anti-Japan rally held in Seoul, South Korea

The Associated Press covers another move prompting conflict:

Opponents to fight new US military base on Okinawa

Threatening lawsuits and protests, opponents are gearing up to fight a decision by Okinawa’s governor that could pave the way for a new U.S. military base on the southern Japanese island.

U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel welcomed Friday’s decision, calling it “the most significant milestone” so far in a long-running battle to realign U.S. forces in Okinawa.

More from South China Morning Post:

Opponents vow to fight new US military base on Okinawa

Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel has welcomed Japan’s decision to move the US military base in Okinawa, but locals have voiced opposition

Threatening lawsuits and protests, opponents are gearing up to fight a decision by Okinawa’s governor that could pave the way for a new US military base on the southern Japanese island.

US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel welcomed Friday’s decision, calling it “the most significant milestone” so far in a long-running battle to realign US forces in Okinawa, but the reaction was hostile in Japan.

Want China Times puts profits over security:

US continues to accept Chinese investment despite security concerns

China invested US$87.8 billion abroad in 2012, making it the world’s third largest outbound investor, according to a recent report by China’s Ministry of Commerce on China’s foreign direct investments during that year.

The Asia Foundation, a non-profit created with partial funding from the Central Intelligence Agency, has forecast that China’s global foreign direct investments will exceed US$2 trillion by 2020. However, some attempts by Chinese state-owned enterprises to invest in or acquire US businesses in recent years have been blocked by the US government citing national security concerns.

A Wall Street Journal report said that the United States had subjected more Chinese businesses to security reviews than any other foreign firms making acquisitions in the country, which reflect the US government’s concerns about Chinese capital. Among these concerns is the fear that China’s GDP will exceed that of the United States within a decade. A second concern is that the United States remains wary about non-ally China’s strategic motives in boosting its defense. The United States is also worried that many of the actions taken by Chinese businesses might be politically-motivated, given the high degree of intervention by the Chinese government in the country’s companies. China’s continued support for “sensitive technology” for Iran and North Korea, which are considered a threat to United States is also worrisome, in addition to FBI claims that China is engaged in intensive espionage against the United States.

Asian Tribune records a Sri Lankan bust:

Indian National arrested photographing Military and Naval installations in Nchchikuddah

S. Sritharan, TNA MP for Kilinochchi has been left off the hook, while one of the Indian Journalist for whom he provided transport facilities in his vehicle was arrested for flouting immigration laws, photographing Army and Naval installations in Nachchikudah police region, located in the western costal border of the Pooeryn area in the North. S. Sritharan, TNA MP for Kilinochchi has been left off the hook

According to a police source, Sritharan was taking a group of people in his vehicle and one of them was a journalist from India, who is in Sri Lanka on a visit visa.

The alleged journalist was seen photographing military and naval installations in the Nachchikuddah police area and also he was alleged to be photographing the movements of the military personnel in the area.

The Daily Dot hacks for cetaceans:

Anonymous draws blood by leaking SeaWorld board members’ credit cards

Last month, when Anonymous unofficially launched #OpKillingBay, targeting the dolphin hunters of Taiji, Japan, they also made some noise about going after SeaWorld, as the theme park buys animals that escape slaughter in the annual, widely protested hunt. Their first move against the company was an overblown “hack” that produced a financial document publicly available online.

This time, they’ve dug deeper and come up with some numbers that could cause a legitimate headache for “Taiji enablers”: yesterday, the credit card data of SeaWorld’s board members showed up in Pastebin, along with private email addresses. Another organization, the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums, also had email info exposed. While the former suppresses evidence of their role in the killings, Anonymous said, WAZA hasn’t “attempted to hide the fact” of their complicity. “We Rape Enablers,” a short message reads. “Here is a drop in the bucket…”

The Daily Dot tracks dark web sales:

How many people got high thanks to Silk Road?

There are many ways to measure success. For a Deep Web black market famous for its wide selection of drugs, one number trumps all: How many drug users put your product in their bodies?

Silk Road, the recently shut down black market that ruled them all, was enormous. According to a new study titled “Use of Silk Road, the online drug marketplace, in the UK, Australia and the USA,” 18 percent of American drug users got high thanks to Silk Road. This is the first big study of a large sample of drug users who have bought from the Deep Web.

The study was just published in Addiction, a peer-reviewed scientific journal and one of the world’s most influential scientific publications focusing on drugs and psychiatry.

The Independent delivers a royal bonking:

The Queen ‘plotted to hit Idi Amin with a sword’ if he visited Britain

Revelations from Lord Mountbatten’s diary show royal concerns over Ugandan dictator

The Queen once plotted to hit the Ugandan dictator Idi Amin over the head with a ceremonial sword, according to a new set of archives. Lord Mountbatten’s diary from 1977 reveals how the monarch was concerned Amin might “gatecrash” her Silver Jubilee.

Throughout the 1970s the Queen was warned of how damaging it would be if she was seen with a “Commonwealth head of government known to be a murderer”, and “elaborate contingency plans” were drawn up by the security services in case the dictator ever tried to attend with other leaders.

Los Angeles Times covers costly secrecy:

Coliseum incurred big expense in trying to keep USC lease talks secret

The Coliseum Commission is ordered to pay $415,000 to The Times and a 1st Amendment group for legal costs from winning the release of emails regarding the deal with USC.

For more than a year, the Coliseum Commission fought an open-government lawsuit that challenged the legality of the closed-door talks on USC’s lease of the historic venue. The suit also sought to make records related to the deal public.

The Daily Dot delivers a ban:

China bans ‘Battlefield 4,’ calling video game a security threat

The Chinese government has gone to great lengths to ensure its citizens can’t read about the military first-person shooter Battlefield 4, much less play it, citing national security concerns as it banned all mention of the Electronic Arts product—which was never officially available there.

Subtitled China Rising, the video game is set in the year 2020 and follows a narrative in which U.S. armed forces must quell an attempted coup by a Chinese general whose rise to power could trigger a worldwide war. Players attack cities like Shanghai and exchange fire with the People’s Liberation Army, the military wing of the Communist Party of China.

TheJournal.ie covers Irish shame:

Government wanted to play down its involvement in Kissinger visit

But he was given an official lunch, multiple tete-a-tetes with the Taoiseach and security detail.

STATE DOCUMENTS, RELEASED under the 30 Year Rule, have revealed details about the 1983 visit of Henry Kissinger which the government did its best to ‘play down’.

According to notes kept in the Department of the Taoiseach, the former US National Security Advisor and Secretary to State was invited by businessman Tony O’Reilly.

It was not an official State visit and Taoiseach Garret Fitzgerald’s officials were “anxious to play down Government involvement” in light of a “very critical book that was widely reviewed in Irish newspapers”.

And for our final item, The Independent covers another kind of intelligence:

Brain function ‘boosted for days after reading a novel’

Reading a gripping novel causes biological changes in the brain which last for days as the mind is transported into the body of the protagonist

Being pulled into the world of a gripping novel can trigger actual, measurable changes in the brain that linger for at least five days after reading, scientists have said.

The new research, carried out at Emory University in the US, found that reading a good book may cause heightened connectivity in the brain and neurological changes that persist in a similar way to muscle memory.

The changes were registered in the left temporal cortex, an area of the brain associated with receptivity for language, as well as the the primary sensory motor region of the brain.

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