Much ground to cover, mostly because of illness yesterday and overnight that leaves us two days worth of gleanings. So on with the show, with little preamble.
From Sky News, the deplorable:
Pakistan Militants Kill 141 In School Massacre
One boy describes his friends “lying injured and dead” around him as the Taliban says it wanted them to “feel our pain”
Taliban gunmen have killed 141 people, including at least 132 children, in a school attack in Peshawar, Pakistan.
Nine men stormed the army-run school while around 500 children and teachers were believed to be inside, with many students taking exams at the time.
Most of the victims of the country’s deadliest terror attack were killed in the first few hours as the gunman fired bullets indiscriminately at pupils and teachers.
A local hospital said the dead – and the more than 120 who were injured – were aged from 10 to 20 years old.
The Independent covers Cold War 2.0 in escalation:
As Russia unveils nuclear subs with underwater drones and robots, the stealth race heats up: governments pour cash into secret armies
Russia, apparently not wanting to be overshadowed by yesterday’s announcement that China has built a long-range heat ray weapon, has revealed plans for its nuclear submarines — including on-board battle robots and underwater drones.
Through small, unmanned drones in the air, to the invisible pain gun like that made by China, the race in military tech is to create weapons that can go mostly unnoticed, while at the same time managing for control on the battlefield and during civil unrest.
Russia’s new submarine takes that battle underwater, too.
The country’s new fifth generation submarines could feature drones that can be released by submarines and stay still, while the ship itself moves away. That would allow the submarine to evade anyone watching by giving the impression it has stayed in place, while only the drone has done so.
Meanwhile, a sidebar to the story most Western media devoured, via New York Times:
In Sydney Hostage Siege, Australia’s New Antiterrorism Measures Proved Ineffective
Around the time that grisly images of beheadings circulated across the world this fall, Prime Minister Tony Abbott of Australia introduced a raft of laws in response to what he said was an increasing threat that the Islamic State jihadist group would attempt a bold act of terrorism on Australian soil.
The laws, which passed Parliament with wide support, made it an offense to advocate terrorism; banned Australians from going to fight overseas; allowed the authorities to confiscate and cancel passports; and provided for the sharing of information between security services and defense personnel. The government also deployed hundreds of police officers in counterterrorism sweeps across the country.
None of these measures prevented a man with a long history of run-ins with the law, known to both the police and leaders of Muslim organizations as deeply troubled, from laying siege to a popular downtown cafe this week and holding hostages for 16 hours. The attacker, Man Haron Monis, an Iranian immigrant, and two of the 17 hostages were killed early Tuesday amid the chaos of a police raid. The victims were identified as Katrina Dawson, 38, a lawyer, and the cafe’s manager, Tori Johnson, 34.
BBC News covers the ironic:
Sydney gunman was ‘wanted in Iran’
Iran says it requested 14 years ago the extradition of Man Haron Monis – the gunman behind the Sydney siege – but Australia refused to hand him over.
The head of Iran’s police, Gen Ismail Ahmadi Moghaddam, told reporters that Monis was wanted for fraud at the time.
He said Monis had fled to Australia via Malaysia in the late 1990s.
Monis and two hostages were shot dead on Tuesday morning, when commandos stormed the Sydney cafe where he had been holding captives for 16 hours.
Sky News adds that he. . .
. . .fled to Malaysia after committing fraud while working as the manager of a travel agency in 1996.
Following legal proceedings in 2000, Iran’s judiciary reportedly informed Interpol about his crime and demanded his extradition from Australia.
Australia allegedly refused to do so, saying it did not have a criminal extradition agreement with Iran.
The Daily Californian covers a Berkeley media event:
Artists claim responsibility for depictions of apparent lynchings hung from Sather Gate
On Sunday, a Bay Area collective of artists released a statement taking responsibility for the installation of the effigies.
The group identified itself as AnonArt Oakland and described its members as consisting of queer and black members. According to the statement, the group intended the project to be in “unambiguous alignment” with the affirmation of black lives and apologized for the disturbance it caused.
The statement emphasized that the images of historical lynchings remain relevant today, as the recent deaths of black men, such as Garner, illustrate the consequences of systemic racism.
“For those who think these images depict crimes and attitudes too distasteful to be seen — we respectfully disagree. Our society must never forget,” the statement read. “We apologize solely and profusely to black Americans who felt further attacked by this work. We are sorry — your pain is ours — our families’, our history’s.”
More from the Guardian:
“We are sorry – your pain is ours, our families’, our history’s,” the group wrote. But they also refused to back down. “For those who think these images no longer relevant to the social framework in which black Americans exist everyday – we respectfully disagree.”
The effigies, found hanging with virtually no context or explanation of intent, left the campus community baffled and on edge after their discovery on Saturday morning. Each cutout featured the name of a lynching victim and year of death, but only one had a modern point of reference: the words “can’t breathe” – an allusion to the last words of Garner, an unarmed black man whose July death at the hands of a white policeman has prompted protests around the US.
The group wrote that they vehemently disagreed with the suggestion that the cutouts were racist, and said they “intended only the confrontation of historical context”. The statement explained that the group meant the effigies to represent crimes that “are and should be deeply unsettling to the American consciousness”.
The collective refused to heed the call of the UC Berkeley chancellor, Nicholas Dirks, that the group responsible identify itself: “We choose to remain anonymous because this is not about us as artists, but about the growing movement to address these pervasive wrongs.” Before the collective posted its statement, Dirks had called for calm and unity, and said that regardless of intent “the imagery was deeply disturbing”.
And still more from the Washington Post:
Leigh Raiford, an associate professor of African American studies at UC Berkeley, told the Chronicle she didn’t think the effigies were intended to threaten students.
“To me this suggested a really powerful public art installation that was trying to provoke people to make a historical connection between the history of lynching, state violence against black folks and the contemporary situation that we’re faced with around police brutality and these non-indictments,” she said.
The San Francisco Chronicle covers belligerence blowback:
San Jose cop on leave over tweets on protests
A San Jose police officer was placed on leave after he posted, and later deleted, two threatening Twitter messages directed at protesters rallying against police brutality.
Officer Phillip White tweeted on Saturday, “By the way if anyone feels they can’t breathe or their lives matter I’ll be at the movies tonight, off duty, carrying my gun.”
White also tweeted that he would use his “God given and law appointed right and duty to kill” anyone who threatens his family. He ended the message with the hashtag #CopsLivesMatter — a twist on the popular #BlackLivesMatter hashtag used during protests following grand jury decisions not to indict police officers for killing unarmed black men in Missouri and New York.
White later deleted his tweets, and eventually his entire account, but Buzzfeed captured screen shots of the remarks. The San Jose Police Department said it is taking “the matter very seriously” and conducting an internal investigation.
From Associated Press, influence exerted:
Police altering tactics after killings, protests
With tensions running high over the killings of blacks by police, departments around the country are changing policies and procedures to curb the use of deadly force, ease public distrust and protect officers from retaliation.
New York City plans to issue stun guns to hundreds more officers. The Milwaukee department is making crisis-intervention training mandatory. And in Akron, Ohio, police have begun working in pairs on all shifts for their own safety.
Police departments are constantly updating training. But some of the more recent measures have been prompted by rising anger toward police. And in some cases, departments are making sure to let the public know about these changes.
“It’s not a mistake or a coincidence that a lot of these departments are publicizing their training or are perhaps revamping their training guidelines and things like that in the wake of these really high-profile incidents,” said Kami Chavis Simmons, director of the criminal justice program at the Wake Forest University School of Law in North Carolina and a former federal prosecutor in Washington.
A Monday protest in the neighborhood, via the Oakland Tribune:
Oakland: Two dozen arrested in protest at police HQ
More than 250 protesters blocked Oakland’s downtown police headquarters for more than four hours Monday morning, including some who chained themselves to the front doors and one who clambered up a flagpole.
A total of 25 protesters were arrested for blocking access to a public building and obstructing or delaying a police officer, among other charges, Officer Johnna Watson said.
The mostly peaceful protest by Black Lives Matter began about 7:30 a.m. outside the police administration building at 455 Seventh St. and ended about 1:35 p.m.
By midmorning, one man had climbed a flagpole in front of the building, and police were trying to persuade him to come down. Six people chained themselves to the pole, and protesters chanted “Justice for Mike Brown is justice for us all.”
The bar barring, via the Los Angeles Times:
Lawyers lie down in the rain to protest killings by police
Amid calls for justice and chants of “black lives matter,” more than 100 lawyers, law students and others staged a “die-in” outside a downtown Los Angeles courthouse Tuesday, arguing that the legal system in which they operate is broken.
The group blocked a lane of traffic and clogged the walkway leading to the Hill Street entrance of the Stanley Mosk Courthouse, making it virtually impossible for passing motorists and court visitors to ignore their message.
“The issue of police brutality is not about any single officer or victim, nor is it about good people versus bad people,” Priscilla Ocen, a law professor, declared over a bullhorn. “The number of unjustified homicides is a result of an entire system left too long without the leigitimate checks necessary to ensure accountability and justice.”
The Oakland Tribune covers the sadly expectable:
Fallout grows over Richmond police chief’s participation in #BlackLivesMatter protest
One week after photos of him holding a “#BlackLivesMatter” sign at a peaceful local protest went viral on social media, Richmond police Chief Chris Magnus is still grappling with the fallout — including accusations from his department’s police union that he broke the law — but says he has no regrets.
“It wasn’t the easiest statement to make,” Magnus said by phone Monday morning, “but it was the right thing to do.”
Since the small protest, Magnus has been flooded with more than 300 emails, dozens of phone calls and a flurry of messages on Twitter and Facebook. He estimated that more than 70 percent of the responses have been in support.
From the Guardian, detox for the fruit of the poisonous tree:
Supreme court: car stop was mistake, but drugs found are legal evidence
Rules 8-1 against driver stopped for invalid reason found to have drugs in car
Chief justice says officer’s error did not violate driver’s constitutional rights
The US supreme court on Monday ruled that a police officer in North Carolina lawfully stopped a car with a faulty brake light – and then found a stash of cocaine in the vehicle – even though driving with one working light is not illegal in the state.
In an 8-1 decision, the court ruled against Nicholas Heien, who had argued that the sandwich bag of cocaine found in the April 2009 search should not have been allowed as evidence when he was charged with drug trafficking because the Surry County sheriff’s department sergeant had no valid reason to stop the car.
Heien, who consented to the search of the car after he was stopped, pleaded guilty and was given a maximum prison term of two years.
After the jump, a Texas cop tasers an innocent 76-year-old, a Tennessee cop charged with rape, body cams for L.A. cops on the way, commodifying a whistleblower, torturers in white coats, cell phone interception sites in Norway prompt demands, Pyongyang tweaks Washington over torture, and on to the hack of the year with a new threat, warnings of theatrical attacks, exploding head suspicions, Sony claims high moral ground over media, Sorken gets sore, hospital gets ransom demand over stolen patient data, malware spam attacks accelerate, a data theft at UC Berkeley, corporate data theft in the cloud, Dutch fine Google for Gmail and search data consolidation for marketing, Google News completes retreats from Spain, pushing the West to intervene in Libya, t Chinese fighting for ISIS, the Syrian war continues, Spain cracks an ISIS recruiting ring, anti-Islamic far right surges in Germany, Netanyahu’s settlement surge, a plea for troops in the Congo, A Chinese drone shootdown brings calls for a crackdown, the final Occupy Hong Kong eviction, China admits a fatal miscarriage of justice, and predictions of a Sino/American Game of Zones confrontation, and on to Japan for a Red victory of sorts, Abe sets his revisionist militarized agenda and his newly elected legislators back his play, Abe looks to Washington with details to come [but the public dissents], some things just aren’t said, Tojo fans threaten a newspaper, and hate speech aimed at Japan’s Koreans continues. . .
The Washington Post covers a shocking miscarriage of justice:
Texas cop uses a stun gun on a 76-year-old driver he pulled over for a nonexistent inspection violation
A police officer from Victoria, Tex., was placed on administrative leave on Friday after he used a stun gun on a 76-year-old driver he had pulled over for driving a car with an expired inspection sticker.
Dashboard camera video shows the officer, Nathanial Robinson, tackling Pete Vasquez to the ground in an attempt to handcuff him. Police said that Robinson, 23, used the a Taser on the man twice, according to the Victoria Advocate.
The incident occurred Thursday, when Vasquez, who works as a mechanic, was pulled over while driving a dealer car back to the lot at Adam’s Auto Mart. Robinson left his patrol vehicle and pointed out the expired sticker, the dashboard camera shows. He appears to reach for Vasquez’s arm, but the man pulls away.
More from the local paper, the Victoria Advocate:
Vasquez got out of the car, which is owned by the car lot, attempting to get the manager. He pointed out to the officer the dealer tags on the back of the car, which would make it exempt from having an inspection.
Police dashboard camera video shows Robinson arresting Vasquez for the expired sticker.
When the officer first grabbed Vasquez’s arm, the older man pulled it away. Robinson then pushed Vasquez down on the hood of the police cruiser. The two fell out of the camera’s video frame, but police said the officer used the Taser on Vasquez twice while he was on the ground.
“He just acted like a pit bull, and that was it,” Vasquez said. “For a while, I thought he was going to pull his gun and shoot me.”
The newspaper posted the police car’s dashcam video:
The Nashville Tennessean covers another troubling case:
Ex-Nashville officer arrested on rape, misconduct charges
Detectives arrested a former Metro police officer Friday afternoon after a grand jury indicted him on rape, official misconduct and official oppression charges.
Jonathan Mays, 44, is accused of having sex with a prostitute while working the overnight shift at the Central Precinct, according to a news release from Metro police. He submitted his resignation in July while under criminal and administrative investigation.
“Our investigation shows that Jonathan Mays betrayed the public’s trust as well as that of his co-workers,” Chief Steve Anderson said in the news release. “His actions are counter to the very high expectations of professionalism and integrity for Nashville’s police officers.”
Body cams for L.A. cops on the way, via the Los Angeles Times:
L.A. mayor to announce on-body cameras for cops citywide
Mayor Eric Garcetti is set to announce today the rollout of on-body cameras for LAPD officers citywide and how the department will carry out this ambitious plan.
Body cameras for officers have become a major issue in the wake of the shooting of unarmed black teen Michael Brown by a Ferguson, Mo., police officer and the conflicting accounts of what happened.
Advocates say the cameras will be a valuable tool for the department. The ability to record audio and video of police encounters with the public, they say, could help guard against officer misconduct and clear cops falsely accused of wrongdoing.
Commodifying a whistleblower, a report from RT:
Cult of Snowden: Germany sees whistleblower as hero, icon & brand
Edward Snowden was catapulted to fame after he blew the whistle on America’s mass surveillance program a year and a half ago. There are now posters, music and even art devoted to the man who some are calling a ‘pop-icon’ of our times.
From the Guardian, torturers in white coats:
CIA torture: health professionals ‘may have committed war crimes’, report says
Physicians for Human Rights called for federal investigation on CIA torture program participation, calling rectal feeding technique ‘form of sexual assault’
Health professionals who assisted in the CIA’s torture programme of terror suspects “betrayed the most fundamental duty of the healing professions” and may have committed war crimes, according to a hard-hitting report released on Tuesday.
Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) called for a federal commission to investigate the full extent of health professionals’ participation in CIA torture following last week’s release of the US Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI) report on the agency’s detention and interrogation programme.
“Under the auspices of the Bush administration, the CIA systematically tortured suspected terrorist detainees, in at least one instance to the point of death. This torture program heavily relied on the participation and active engagement of health professionals to commit, conceal, and attempt to justify these crimes,” PHR concludes.
Cell phone interception sites in Norway prompts demands, via TheLocal.no:
Norway seeks answers over mobile bugging
Norway’s government is under pressure from MPs after revelations this weekend that suspicious mobile base stations sited around Oslo were used to spy on people’s mobile phone use.
Norway’s National Security Agency (NSM) has given credence to the reports by newspaper Aftenposten:
“Our main conclusion is that it is probable that the results obtained by Aftenposten in its investigations are credible,” said Kjetil Nilsen, director of the agency.
The NSM has now sent a report to the ministries of justice and defence and to the Police Security Service (PST). The PST is investigating whether the fake base stations were placed in Oslo by a foreign state.
Pyongyang tweaks Washington over torture, via the Washington Post:
North Korea calls for UN probe into CIA’s “brutal medieval” actions
“The so-called ‘human rights issue’ in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea is politically fabricated and, therefore, it is not at all relevant to the regional or international peace and security,” Ja Song-nam, North Korea’s ambassador to the United Nations, wrote in a letter to Chad’s ambassador, the current council president.
“On the contrary, the recently revealed CIA torture crimes committed by the United States, which has been conducted worldwide in the most brutal medieval forms, are the gravest human rights violations in the world,” he added in the letter, according to the Associated Press.
Ja asked the council to look into the issue with a view toward establishing “a thorough probe into the CIA torture crimes”.
On to the hack of the year and a warning, via Network World:
Hackers to Sony staff: Email us to keep your secrets private
The hackers who stole gigabytes of data from Sony Pictures have asked employees of the company to contact them if they don’t want their information to become public.
A message posted to the Internet on Sunday in the name of the “GOP,” or “Guardians of Peace” group, made the offer while renewing a threat to release more corporate documents apparently stolen from Sony Pictures during a November hack.
“We have a plan to release emails and privacy of the Sony Pictures employees,” the message said. “If you don’t want your privacy to be released, tell us your name and business title to take off your data.”
Several addresses on anonymous email services accompanied the message. They were the same ones used on Saturday when the group repeated its demands for Sony to contact it or see the release of a “Christmas gift.”
And from the Guardian, getting specific::
Hackers who targeted Sony invoke 9/11 attacks in warning to moviegoers
Guardians of Peace warn people to stay away from showings of The Interview
Group’s online message: ‘the world will be full of fear’
Sony employees file lawsuit over company’s failure to guard personal data
The computer hackers who targeted Sony Pictures have invoked the 9/11 terror attacks in a warning to theatergoers considering seeing the controversial movie they claim provoked their hack.
In the latest blow for Sony, the group calling itself Guardians of Peace (GOP) posted a message online warning people to stay away from cinemas showing The Interview, a comedy starring Seth Rogen and James Franco that depicts a fictional assassination attempt on North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.
US authorities are investigating the possibility that the hack was orchestrated by North Korea, which the country denies.
The threat came just hours after lawyers for former employees announced that they were launching a class-action lawsuit against Sony for failing to secure its computer networks against hackers.
More from the Washington Post:
“We will clearly show it to you at the very time and places ‘The Interview’ be shown, including the premiere, how bitter fate those who seek fun in terror should be doomed to,” reads the message. “Remember the 11th of September 2001.”
The note also included links purporting to provide more documents labeled “mlynton”—an apparent reference to Sony Pictures chief executive Michael Lynton.
The Department of Homeland Security is aware of the threat and is still analyzing its credibility, according to an official at DHS who declined to speak on the record since the government’s investigation into the matter is still ongoing. The official added, though, that “there is no credible intelligence to indicate an active plot against movie theaters within the United States.”
It’s enough to make your head explode, via the New York Times:
Sony’s International Incident: Making Kim Jong-un’s Head Explode
What is clear is that by deciding to go ahead with the film, Sony stumbled into a geopolitical mess complete with all the elements of a Hollywood thriller: international intrigue, once imperious, now humiliated, film executives, strong-willed leading men and highly sophisticated cyberattackers. The studio’s first miscalculation, film experts say, was in venturing beyond where big-budget moviemakers dared to go in the past.
“The gory killing of a sitting foreign leader is new territory for a big studio movie,” said Jeanine Basinger, a professor of film studies at Wesleyan University.
From early on, “The Interview” seemed to pit the sensibilities of filmmakers in the United States, where the portly North Korean leader with the cherubic looks has been a target of easy humor, against those of Sony executives in Japan, where he is reviled but taken deadly seriously.
While many Americans seem to see North Korea as too distant to keep them awake at night, many Japanese see it as a very visible threat. Until three decades ago, North Korean agents occasionally snatched people off beaches in neighboring Japan to serve as Japanese-language teachers, and long-range North Korean rockets on test runs still fly ominously over Japan’s main islands.
Sony claims high moral ground over media, from the Japan Times:
Sony says news outlets should stop using hacked documents
Sony Pictures Entertainment Inc. lawyers have sent a letter asking news organizations to stop writing articles based on stolen documents released by hackers seeking to interrupt the release of the comedy “The Interview.”
The letter, dated Sunday, was sent by attorney David Boies to news organizations including Bloomberg and The New York Times.
Media outlets should destroy the stolen data and will be held responsible for damages from publication of the information, which includes salaries, intellectual property and communications protected by attorney-client privilege, Boies wrote.
“If you do not comply with this request, and the stolen material is used or disseminated by you in any manner, SPE will have no choice but to hold you responsible for any damage or loss,” he wrote, using the acronym for Sony Pictures Entertainment, a division of Sony Corp.
And Sorkin gets sore, via BBC News:
Sony hacks: Sorkin says media are ‘morally treasonous’
The resulting stories have provided a candid look at the sometimes ugly, sometimes acrimonious and often darkly amusing interactions that take place between many of the major players in the motion picture industry.
But do these articles constitute legitimate journalism or a gross invasion of privacy? Oscar-winning screenwriter and producer Aaron Sorkin thinks it’s the latter, accusing the media of “giving material aid to criminals”.
Mr Sorkin, writing in the New York Times, notes that some of the emails that generated the most attention involved one of his writing projects, a planned biography of Apple founder Steve Jobs.
He says the “minor insults” revealed don’t anger him as much as the fact that the rest of the film industry is standing silently by as sensitive information about Sony employees is exposed.
“Wouldn’t it be a movie moment if the other studios invoked the NATO rule and denounced the attack on Sony as an attack on all of us, and our bedrock belief in free expression?” he asks.
Blackmailed, via PCWorld:
Illinois hospital reports data blackmail
An Illinois hospital says someone attempted to blackmail it to stop the release of data about some of its patients.
Clay County Hospital, a medium-sized hospital chain in the state, received an anonymous email on Nov. 2 that asked for “a substantial payment” to avoid patient data being released. The email included “protected health information” of some patients, it said Monday.
The hospital says it immediately notified law enforcement agencies.
An investigation discovered the data relates to patients who visited Clay County Hospital clinics on or before February 2012. A hospital representative declined to disclose how many people are involved but said the data is limited to their names, addresses, Social Security numbers and dates of birth. No medical information was compromised in the breach, they said.
Stepping up, via SecurityWeek:
Spam Laced With Malicious Links Jumps: Symantec
Researchers at Symantec say they have noticed an uptick of attackers relying on malicious links as opposed to attachments in order to infect users.
According to Symantec, since late November there has been a spike in the number of malicious emails using this tactic. In October only seven percent of malicious spam emails contained links. In November, that number jumped to 41 percent.
“While many malicious emails come with an attachment, organizations can block and filter these types of messages,” Symantec researchers noted in a blog post. “Symantec believes that the Cutwail botnet (Trojan.Pandex) is behind some of the recent spam messages, along with other botnets, and that attackers have resorted to using links in a bid to avoid email security products that scan for malicious attachments.”
During the last few weeks, spammers have been blasting out social engineering-themed messages such as emails about fax and voicemail notifications. These emails may contain information typically included in legitimate fax and voicemail messages such as a caller ID or confirmation number, but the information itself is fake.
From the Daily Californian, a data theft at UC Berkeley:
Campus data breach compromises employee information
UC Berkeley officials are in the process of notifying approximately 1,600 individuals that their personal information may have been compromised in a data breach of the campus’s real estate division.
The breach allowed unauthorized access to servers that were used to support a number of UC Berkeley real estate division programs. The campus estimates that about 1,300 Social Security numbers and 300 credit card numbers were among the data accessed. The data span from the early 1990s to May of this year.
According to campus spokesperson Janet Gilmore, the campus believes that the username and password of an employee were stolen when the employee attended to work-related business while on vacation.
Corporate data theft in the cloud, from TechWeekEurope:
Who Is Going Rogue In The Cloud With Your Corporate Data?
SailPoint Market Pulse Survey Illustrates how cloud apps increase the risk of insider threat
One in five employees has uploaded proprietary corporate data to a cloud application, such as Dropbox or Google Docs, specifically intending to share it outside of the company.
This is the finding of SailPoint’s seventh Annual Market Pulse Survey, which suggests that companies around the world have reason to be worried about the use of cloud applications to share mission-critical information.
The survey also found a clear disconnect between cloud usage across the business and existing IT controls with an alarming 66 percent of users able to access those cloud storage applications after leaving their last job. And, despite that 60 percent of employees stated they were aware that their employer strictly forbids taking intellectual property after leaving the company, one in four admitted they would take copies of corporate data with them when leaving a company.
Dutch fine Google for Gmail and search data consolidation for marketing, via DutchNews.nl:
Dutch privacy watchdog threatens Google with €15m fine
Dutch privacy watchdog CBP is threatening internet giant Google with a fine of up to €15m for contravening Dutch privacy legislation.
Since 2012, Google has been combining information about users from Gmail, Google maps, YouTube and search results into a single profile. This, broadcaster Nos points out, allows the company to offer more targeted advertising.
However, the CBP says Google is not informing users properly about its actions or asking them permission. This, the CBP says, contravenes Dutch law. Privacy regulators in Britain, Germany, Spain and Italy are also taking action, the CBP says.
Google News completes retreats from Spain, via El País:
Google News goes through with decision to shut down service in Spain
Tech giant makes move after government introduces fee for using article fragments
Search engine Google on Tuesday carried out its decision to close its Google News service in Spain in response to the country’s new Intellectual Property law, which from January 2015 will force it and other similar news aggregators to pay a charge to publishers for indexing and using fragments of their stories.
People will still be able to search for Spanish articles using the regular Google search engine, but not through Google News, which operates in 70 countries and is available in 35 languages.
The service had 385,000 unique visitors a month in Spain, without counting data from smartphone users. The country has become the first in the world where the tech giant has chosen to suspend its service.
Pushing the West to intervene in Libya, via Reuters:
Threatened African nations urge western action on Libya crisis
African leaders on Tuesday urged western nations to act to resolve the crisis in Libya which has sent shock waves across the vast arid Sahel band and threatened to destabilize fragile regional governments.
More than three years after a French-led NATO military action helped oust Libya’s longtime leader Muammar Gaddafi, two rival governments are competing for legitimacy, raising fears of a civil war for control over the country’s oil wealth.
A second round of U.N.-sponsored peace talks was due to open this week. Abdullah al-Thinni, internationally recognized prime minister, has vowed to drive Libya Dawn from Tripoli after the armed group seized the capital in August.
The Syrian war continues, via Reuters:
Syrian army recaptures territory north of Aleppo in fierce fighting
Syria’s army seized an area north of Aleppo on Sunday and killed insurgents as fierce battles raged over the strategic territory, a group monitoring the war and state media reported.
Syria’s second city is at the heart of clashes between pro-government forces and a range of insurgents, including al Qaeda’s Syria wing, Islamist brigades and Western-backed rebels.
The United Nations Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura is seeking a local ceasefire in Aleppo to allow badly-needed humanitarian assistance into the divided northern city.
Chinese fighting for ISIS, via Reuters:
About 300 Chinese said fighting alongside Islamic State in Middle East
About 300 Chinese people are fighting alongside the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, a Chinese state-run newspaper said on Monday, a rare tally that is likely to fuel worry in China that militants pose a threat to security.
China has expressed concern about the rise of Islamic State in the Middle East, nervous about the effect it could have on its Xinjiang region. But it has also shown no sign of wanting to join U.S. efforts to use military force against the group.
Chinese members of the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM) are traveling to Syria via Turkey to join the Islamic State, also known as IS, the Global Times, a tabloid run by China’s ruling Communist Party’s official newspaper, the People’s Daily, said.
Spain cracks an ISIS recruiting ring, via El País:
Spanish authorities break up ring seeking female ISIS recruits
Women were being sent to Iraq and Syria to cook, marry combatants and have children
Spanish police have arrested seven people, including one minor, for allegedly recruiting women to serve the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
The arrests took place simultaneously early Tuesday morning in Barcelona, Ceuta, Melilla and the Moroccan municipality of Castillejos, said the Interior Ministry in a press release.
Two of the detainees are women who were about to join ISIS themselves, according to anti-terrorist sources.
From TheLocal.de, the anti-Islamic far right surges in Germany:
Cops fear clashes as anti-Islam demos grow
Federal Security Service chief Hans-Georg Maaßen has warned Germany could see confrontations between Salafists and people drawn to right-wing, xenophobic politics.
“We can see a quickly rising number of Salafists and simultaneously a worrying reinforcement of xenophobic activities,” Maaßen said.
Maaßen was speaking in the wake of a demonstration by over 15,000 people under the banner of “People Against the Islamization of the Occident” (Pegida) in Dresden on Monday night, an increase of 5,000 participants on last week’s protest.
The increasing numbers also prompted Chancellor Angela Merkel to warn against “agitation and mud-slinging” against foreigners.
Netanyahu’s settlement surge, via the Associated Press:
Netanyahu years continue surge in settlements
The population of Jewish settlers in the occupied West Bank has continued to surge during Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s years in office, growing at more than twice the pace of Israel’s overall population, according to newly obtained official figures.
Settlement growth also was strong beyond Israel’s separation barrier, seen by many as the basis for a border between Israel and a future Palestinian state.
The figures reflect Netanyahu’s continued support for settlement construction, even while repeatedly stating his commitment to the eventual establishment of an independent Palestinian state as part of a future peace agreement. They also could be a topic of discussion as U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry meets with Netanyahu and European officials this week over a promised U.N. Security Council proposal dealing with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
From Reuters, a plea for troops in the Congo:
U.N. brigade will need to ‘neutralise’ Congo rebels: chief
Only a few of Rwanda’s FDLR rebels operating in eastern Congo have laid down their arms before a January deadline, meaning that U.N. troops will launch operations against the group next month, the U.N.’s peacekeeping chief said on Monday.
Herve Ladsous said that the U.N.’s Democratic Republic of Congo’s mission, MONUSCO, was also involved in an offensive to pick off the last remaining elements of Ugandan Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) Islamist rebels, which also operate in Congo’s lawless east.
The FDLR, which includes former soldiers and Hutu militiamen responsible for carrying out Rwanda’s 1994 genocide, announced in April it would disarm. Some of its fighters began doing so in May.
N to China and a drone tale from Want China Times:
Unauthorized Beijing drone brings call for stricter laws
A drone without an operating license that was shot down by the PLA Air Force in Beijing has brought light to the need for tightened regulations on privately-owned drones and other devices.
Last December, a flying drone reportedly owned by a Beijing-based technology company had interfered with the operation of several commercial flights. The operator ignored a series of warnings issued by the military and authorities, whereupon they shot down the aircraft with an armed helicopter, according to the party-run PLA Daily.
The drone turned out to be working on air photography and measurement. The owner did not apply to either the civil aviation authorities or the PLA Air Force in Beijing for permission to fly. As a result, the three drone operators at the time of the violation were arrested and charged with endangering public security, according to the state-run Xinhua News Agency.
The final Occupy Hong Kong eviction, from the Guardian:
Hong Kong police dismantle final pro-democracy protest camp
Barricades and tents pulled down in Causeway Bay as pro-democracy groups pledge non-cooperation campaign against city authorities
Hong Kong police cleared the city’s last remaining pro-democracy protest site on Monday, arresting 20 demonstrators and closing a chapter in an ongoing political crisis that has gripped the city for more than two months.
About 100 police began clearing the protest site in the bustling shopping district Causeway Bay at about 10.30am, according to local media reports. A few dozen remaining protesters shouted “we will be back”, but did not resist when police removed their barriers, collapsed their tents, and unhurriedly escorted them into waiting buses.
The site was effectively cleared by midday. A few hours later, the city’s chief executive Leung Chun-ying declared that the protests were officially over.
China admits a fatal miscarriage of justice, via the Los Angeles Times:
Chinese court posthumously clears 18-year-old executed for murder
In a rare move that has captivated public attention, a Chinese court on Monday overturned a guilty verdict for an 18-year-old who was executed in 1996 for a rape and murder he did not commit. The reversal comes as Communist Party authorities are touting their determination to improve the rule of law in China.
China Constitution Day
“I sincerely apologize, I’m sorry!” Zhao Jianping, deputy director of Supreme People’s Court in Hohhot, Inner Mongolia, told the executed teenager’s parents. Zhao handed the bereaved couple $4,841 in compensation from the presiding judge of the court, Hu Yifeng, the official New China News Agency reported. Police officers responsible for the case are under investigation.
When China’s Communist Party leaders completed a high-level four-day meeting in late October, they pledged to “build a law-abiding government to safeguard judicial justice and improve judicial credibility.” But the extent of the changes remains to be seen; Chinese courts have a conviction rate near 100%, forced confessions remain commonplace and the judiciary remains under the firm control of the party.
Predictions of a Sino/American Game of Zones confrontation, via Want China Times:
China, US military escalation imminent in S China Sea
Beijing’s aggressive South China Sea stance may force the US to grow its military presence in the region against unpredictable behavior from the country, reports our Chinese-language sister paper Want Daily.
Linda Jakobson, an independent researcher and fellow at the Lowy Institute, said China’s actions in the South China Sea have shifted from “restraint” to “resolve.” The country may send a large number of its maritime law enforcement boats to counter Vietnamese forces in the South China Sea.
The more aggressive move may lead to further military intervention from the US. Most likely, it would have no choice but to establish an increasing number of military bases on allied land in the Asia Pacific. From these bases, it would deploy mobile anti-ship missiles in adjacent waters, said Jakobson.
The researcher said Chinese government’s South China Sea policy has become more “unpredictable” since municipal governments, law enforcement agencies, China’s military, resources companies and fishermen have used it to obtain funds and permission from Beijing for developments such as fishing bases, tourist attractions and resource exploration. China’s president Xi Jinping cannot condemn these actions since they are “taken in the name of protesting China’s rights.”
On to Japan and the comeback kids, via the Japan Times:
Resurgent JCP has night to remember
Going toe-to-toe with Abe pays off as party doubles seats
While the leaders of most of the opposition parties were grim-faced Sunday night, the Japanese Communist Party was celebrating after it more than doubled its seats in the Lower House.
The party now has 21 lawmakers in the chamber, up from eight before Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Nov. 21 called a snap general election that his Liberal Democratic Party-led coalition easily won.
The jump was widely credited to swing voters fed up with Abe’s economic policies, which critics say only benefit big business and the wealthy, as well as his security policies, particularly his Cabinet’s decision in July to lift the ban on collective self-defense and the passage of the state secrets law.
Abe sets his revisionist militarized agenda, via Nikkei Asian Review:
National security, constitution on PM’s to-do list
Wasting no time in getting his economic agenda moving again, Abe told senior LDP officials Monday to lend a hand in drafting a stimulus package. And he seems ready to invoke the will of the electorate, which returned his coalition to power with more than a two-thirds majority, from the bully pulpit. He told reporters he will urge corporate leaders at a meeting Tuesday to raise wages next spring.
But it was his pronouncements on national security and constitutional reform that attracted attention at the news conference.
He claimed to have earned voter “support” for a partial embrace of collective self-defense — the principle that an attack on an ally amounts to an attack on the nation. This past summer, Abe’s government approved a controversial new interpretation of the pacifist constitution’s stance on this point. Abe has longed to enshrine this principle in national security law since his first, abortive run as prime minister.
On Sunday night, Abe expressed eagerness to rewrite the constitution itself — something he did not attempt back then — describing it as “a major goal and a matter of principle for me.” He said at Monday’s news conference that as leader of the LDP, he would seek to “broaden public understanding and support” for constitutional reform.
From the Mainichi, backing his play:
83% of incoming lower house members endorse constitutional revision
Eighty-three percent of those elected in the Dec. 14 House of Representatives election are in favor of revising the Constitution, a Mainichi Shimbun survey has found.
Of the 468 legislators-elect who had responded to the survey before the election, 390 approved constitutional amendments, at 83 percent, surpassing the two-thirds majority requirement for proposing constitutional revision in the lower house of the Diet.
In the meantime, 57 percent of respondents — or 267 legislators-elect — approved of revising war-renouncing Article 9. The figure falls short of the requirement for proposing constitutional revision in the lower chamber.
Abe looks to Washington, via Jiji Press:
Abe Hopes to Strengthen Japan-U.S. Alliance
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe hopes to strengthen Japan’s security alliance with the United States after the ruling bloc led by his Liberal Democratic Party won a landslide victory in the House of Representatives election on Sunday.
The government will submit national security legislation to the next ordinary Diet session that starts in January, following its reinterpretation of the war-renouncing constitution in July to enable the country to engage in collective self-defense to protect an ally under attack.
At a news conference, Abe said there is no change in Japan’s plan to relocate the U.S. Marine Corps’ Futenma air station in Ginowan of Okinawa Prefecture to the Henoko district in Nago also in the southernmost Japan prefecture.
Details yet to come, via NHK WORLD:
Japan, US to postpone revising defense guidelines
Japan and the United States plan to extend their own deadline for revising defense cooperation guidelines. They are set to sign an agreement by the end of this week.
The 2 governments released an interim report in October, and at that time set the deadline for the end of this year.
But working-level officials of the 2 nations agreed they do not have enough time to complete negotiations due to Japan’s snap Lower House election and the resignation of the US Secretary of Defense.
But the public dissents, via the Japan Times:
55% do not support Abe’s security policies, poll shows
More than half of the respondents to a Kyodo News opinion poll do not support Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s handling of security policies, which include allowing the nation to begin aiding allies under armed attack, despite the ruling bloc’s overwhelming victory in Sunday’s election.
The nationwide telephone poll, conducted over the two days following the Lower House election, found 55.1 percent of respondents do not support Abe’s defense and security policies, while 33.6 percent said they do.
Abe’s Cabinet in July approved the reinterpretation of the pacifist Constitution to allow Japan to exercise the right to collective self-defense, or defending allies under armed attack.
Some things just aren’t said, via NHK WORLD:
Japan disarmament envoy admonished
Japan’s Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida says he has warned the country’s disarmament envoy to be more careful about his remarks on the impact of nuclear weapons explosions.
Kishida told reporters on Tuesday that he admonished Toshio Sano for his remarks at the 3rd conference on the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons in Vienna this month.
Sano said a view by experts on the consequences of nuclear blasts seems a bit pessimistic. The experts had said the impact is too disastrous for the international community to deal with.
Tojo fans threaten a newspaper, via the Mainichi:
Threatening letter, knife sent to Asahi Shimbun over reporting
A threatening letter and a knife have been sent to The Asahi Shimbun newspaper in connection with its reporting on the “comfort women” issue and the government’s “Abenomics” economic policy mix, police said Tuesday.
The letter, delivered in a package on Monday, threatened to kill Asahi reporters unless the newspaper televises an apology for the reporting by noon last Sunday, the general election day. The police have launched an investigation.
The knife with a 4.5 centimeter blade was wrapped in aluminum foil. The package had a record of acceptance at a post office in Kanagawa Prefecture last Friday, according to the police.
And to close, idiocy continues, via the Asahi Shimbun:
Ethnic Koreans: Japanese society more indulgent of racism toward them
Ethnic Korean residents living in the western Kansai region feel Japanese society has become insensitive to racial discrimination, with many saying they have been seriously affected, according to a poll by a human rights group.
Tokyo-based Human Rights Now, comprising more than 700 lawyers, researchers and other citizens conducted one-on-one interviews with 16 ethnic Koreans in Kansai between April and July, amid a rise in anti-Korean demonstrations across the country.
The findings, collected by seven of the group’s members and compiled in November, showed that Koreans have suffered emotional trauma from increasing racial slurs directed against them.