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Oct 17 2014

The Breakfast Club (Something You Should Grow Out Of)

Welcome to The Breakfast Club! We’re a disorganized group of rebel lefties who hang out and chat if and when we’re not too hungover  we’ve been bailed out we’re not too exhausted from last night’s (CENSORED) the caffeine kicks in. Join us every weekday morning at 9am (ET) and weekend morning at 10:30am (ET) to talk about current news and our boring lives and to make fun of LaEscapee! If we are ever running late, it’s PhilJD’s fault.

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This Day in History

Arab oil embargo fuels energy crisis; Americans clinch revolutionary victory at Saratoga; Deadly quake hits northern California; Mobster Al Capone convicted of tax evasion; Playwright Arthur Miller born.

Breakfast Food for Thought

Revealed: how Whisper app tracks ‘anonymous’ users

The company behind Whisper, the social media app that promises users anonymity and claims to be the “the safest place on the internet”, is tracking the location of its users, including some who have specifically asked not to be followed.

The practice of monitoring the whereabouts of Whisper users – including those who have expressly opted out of geolocation services – will alarm users, who are encouraged to disclose intimate details about their private and professional lives.

Whisper is also sharing information with the US Department of Defense gleaned from smartphones it knows are used from military bases, and developing a version of its app to conform with Chinese censorship laws.

Breakfast News

Revealed: how Whisper app tracks ‘anonymous’ users

The company behind Whisper, the social media app that promises users anonymity and claims to be the “the safest place on the internet”, is tracking the location of its users, including some who have specifically asked not to be followed.

The practice of monitoring the whereabouts of Whisper users – including those who have expressly opted out of geolocation services – will alarm users, who are encouraged to disclose intimate details about their private and professional lives.

Whisper is also sharing information with the US Department of Defense gleaned from smartphones it knows are used from military bases, and developing a version of its app to conform with Chinese censorship laws. [..]

Whisper has developed an in-house mapping tool that allows its staff to filter and search GPS data, pinpointing messages to within 500 meters of where they were sent.

The technology, for example, enables the company to monitor all the geolocated messages sent from the Pentagon and National Security Agency. It also allows Whisper to track an individual user’s movements over time.

When users have turned off their geolocation services, the company also, on a targeted, case-by-case basis, extracts their rough location from IP data emitted by their smartphone.

FBI director attacks tech companies for embracing new modes of encryption

James Comey says data encryption could deprive police and intelligence companies of potentially live-saving information

The director of the FBI savaged tech companies for their recent embrace of end-to-end encryption and suggested rewriting laws to ensure law enforcement access to customer data in a speech on Thursday.

James Comey said data encryption such as that employed on Apple’s latest mobile operating system would deprive police and intelligence companies of potentially life-saving information, even when judges grant security agencies access through a warrant.

“Criminals and terrorists would like nothing more than for us to miss out,” he said. Technologists have found such statements reminiscent of the “Crypto Wars” of the 1990s, an earlier period in which the US government warned about encryption constraining law enforcement.

Framing his speech at the Brookings Institution as kickstarting a “dialogue” and insisting he was not a “scaremonger”, Comey said “encryption threatens to lead us all to a very, very dark place.” [..]

Privacy advocates contend Comey is demagoguing the issue.

It took a June supreme court ruling, they point out, for law enforcement to abandon its contention that it did not require warrants at all to search through smartphones or tablets, and add that technological vulnerabilities can be exploited by hackers and foreign intelligence agencies as well as the US government. Additionally, the FBI and police retain access to data saved remotely in the so-called “cloud” – where much data syncs for storage from devices like Apple’s – for which companies like Apple keep the encryption keys.

New Zealand Cops Raided Home of Reporter Working on Snowden Documents

While there is no evidence that Hager’s work on NSA documents was a factor in the raid, it is possible that authorities knew or suspected that he had been given access to some of those documents.’

Agents from New Zealand’s national police force ransacked the home of a prominent independent journalist earlier this month who was collaborating with The Intercept on stories from the NSA archive furnished by Edward Snowden. The stated purpose of the 10-hour police raid was to identify the source for allegations that the reporter, Nicky Hager, recently published in a book that caused a major political firestorm and led to the resignation of a top government minister.

But in seizing all the paper files and electronic devices in Hager’s home, the authorities may have also taken source material concerning other unrelated stories that Hager was pursuing. Recognizing the severity of the threat posed to press freedoms from this raid, the Freedom of the Press Foundation today announced a global campaign to raise funds for Hager’s legal defense.

In August, one month before New Zealand’s national election, Hager published Dirty Politics, which showed that key figures in Prime Minister John Key’s National Party were feeding derogatory information about their opponents to a virulent right-wing blogger named Cameron Slater. Hager published evidence in the form of incriminating emails, provided by a hacker, demonstrating coordination between National Party officials and Slater. The ensuing scandal forced the resignation of a top Key ally, Justice Minister Judith Collins, and implicated numerous other National Party officials and supporters. Despite the scandal, the National Party won a resounding victory in the election, sending Key to a third term as prime minister.

Leaked TPP Chapter Exposes Sweet Deals for Big Pharma and US Bully Tactics

U.S. pushing rules that ‘favor big corporate right holders, and undermine the public’s freedom to use knowledge,’ intellectual property expert says

WikiLeaks on Thursday released a second updated version of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Intellectual Property Rights chapter, charging that it will hinder affordable access to medicines globally, increase online surveillance, and impinge on civil liberties while benefiting Big Pharma and other corporate interests.

“Our first impression in reading the document is the extent to which the United States has sought hundreds of changes in intellectual property norms, some small and subtle, others blunt and aggressive, nearly of all of which favor big corporate right holders, and undermine the public’s freedom to use knowledge,” declared James Love of Knowledge Ecology International. [..]

In their analysis, WikiLeaks co-founder Julian Assange and editor Sarah Harrison note that the U.S. is pushing for long automatic monopolies for biotech drugs or biologics, including most new treatments for cancer. In addition, the revised TPP chapter includes expansions and extensions of patent protections and terms as well as a provision proposed by the U.S. and Japan that would require granting of patents for new drugs that are slightly altered from a previous patented one-a technique known as “evergreening” that the pharmaceutical industry uses to prolong market monopoly.

White House says expired War Powers timetable irrelevant to Isis campaign

Resolution holds that presidents have 60-day window to conduct hostilities without an act of Congress blessing the conflict

The White House on Wednesday said a timetable that expired over a week ago limiting its ability to continue a war unauthorised by Congress does not apply to the operation against the Islamic State (Isis) militant group.

The 1973 War Powers Resolution holds that presidents have a 60-day window to conduct hostilities without an act of Congress blessing the conflict. Absent such an explicit authorisation, wars are supposed to lose their legal force.

The White House repeatedly cited the War Powers Resolution throughout the summer, as it notified Congress about troop deployments and air strikes that inaugurated the war. Initial troop deployments for the war began in mid-June, although some legal scholars doubted that the ostensibly non-combat deployments started the clock.

7 October marked 60 days after US warplanes began bombing Isis positions in Iraq. The newest war – officially christened Operation Inherent Resolve by the US military on Wednesday – now includes attacks on Isis targets in Syria and is expected to last for years.

Saudi Arabia Beheaded 59 People So Far This Year – But Hardly Anyone is Talking About It

The string of beheadings of American and British hostages at the hands of the Islamic State has drawn horror and intense media scrutiny the world over, redoubling international determination to defeat the extremist group.  

But with IS dominating headlines, it is easy to forget that Saudi Arabia, a member of the UN’s Human Rights Council and a close ally of America in the war against the Islamist fighters, is itself routinely carrying out the practice of beheading.

Since January of this year, 59 people have been beheaded in Saudi Arabia under the country’s antiquated legal system based primarily around sharia law. [..]

The human rights group has reported a “disturbing surge” in executions in the kingdom. Said Boumedouha, deputy director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Program, said that many are executed for petty crimes, highlighting the frequent and seemingly casual imposition of such sentences.

Judge grants 30-day delay in release of Guantánamo force-feeding videos

A federal judge has granted the Obama administration a month-long pause on the release of graphic videotapes showing forced tube feedings and cell removals of a hunger striking Guantánamo Bay detainee.

Judge Gladys Kessler on Thursday permitted the 30-day delay, requested by the Justice Department, in advance of a widelyanticipated decision by the government to appeal Kessler’s earlier order for the redacted release of the tapes.

Should it take its case to the federal court of appeals, it will be gambling on a bigger victory against disclosure.

On 3 October, Kessler rejected government arguments to keep the force-feeding tapes under seal, which would have denied the public access to the most detailed accounting yet of a process a Syrian detainee says is tantamount to torture. The Justice Department had argued that release of the tapes would jeopardizse national security, a contention Kessler rubbished as “unacceptably vague”.

Kessler’s earlier ruling came after a coalition of media organisations, including the Guardian, applied for disclosure of unclassified versions of tapes that the US government has never made available.

Texas healthcare workers at risk of Ebola asked to stay out of public

Seventy-five staff members of Dallas hospital asked to sign ‘binding legal order’ that states they will avoid public spaces

Healthcare workers deemed to be at risk of contracting Ebola after dealing with a patient who died from the virus in Texas are being asked to sign voluntary agreements to stay away from the public, after Dallas authorities decided against declaring a state of emergency.

Seventy-five staff members from Texas Health Presbyterian hospital are being given a “binding legal document and order” that states they will avoid public transport, not go to areas where large numbers of people congregate, and continue to be monitored twice a day for symptoms, county judge Clay Jenkins said on Thursday. [..]

It was unclear how long the agreements would be in force. After first suggesting that all 75 healthcare workers had approved them, Jenkins conceded that the wording had only just been finalised, and that some of the 75 may have learned of it from watching broadcasts of the commissioners meeting. “This is clearly not the way I wanted it to go,” he said.

The healthcare workers will also have their home addresses flagged on the internal systems of emergency services, said Jenkins, adding that this would prompt first responders responding to calls from their houses to raise an alarm. The flags would disappear when they are no longer at risk of Ebola.

Failing Humans and Planet, EPA Greenlights ‘Agent Orange’ Herbicide

Watchdog groups say approval of Dow’s Enlist Duo herbicide will threaten the health of humans and environment, promote the expanded use of GMO seeds and spur the growth of more herbicide-resistant weeds.

Ignoring the concerns of scientists, doctors, food safety advocates, environmentalists, and more than half a million U.S. citizens, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on Wednesday issued their final approval for what has been dubbed Dow AgroSciences’ ‘Agent Orange’ herbicide.

In a press statement, the agrochemical giant said that their Enlist Duo herbicide is now registered for use on Dow Enlist-brand genetically engineered corn and soy crops, which the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) approved less than a month ago.

The herbicide is made from a combination of glyphosate, the main ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup, and 2,4-D, a component of the toxic Agent Orange herbicide used during the Vietnam War, which has been linked to numerous health issues including increased risks of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, Parkinson’s and immune system problems.

Bermuda braces for ‘dangerous hurricane’ Gonzalo

Hurricane Gonzalo gained strength in the Atlantic on Thursday as it barreled toward Bermuda, which was bracing for a hit from the powerful Category Four storm.

Gonzalo’s winds were whirling at 145 miles (230 kilometers) per hour, with even stronger gusts, taking it back up a notch on the five-point Saffir-Simpson scale, the US National Hurricane Center said.

It was expected to pass Friday near Bermuda, which could see flooding along the coast. Gonzalo, which has already killed one person in the Caribbean, triggered a hurricane warning for the British overseas territory.

Forecasters urged people in Bermuda to prepare for the expected arrival of the storm.

Must Read Blog Posts

The Affordable Care Act Is Poorly Designed for Dealing With Epidemics and the GOP Plan Is Even Worse Jon Walker, FDL Action

Obama Administration Wants New Fantasy Rebels In Syria DSWright, FDL News Desk

Coal CEO Robert Murray Unearths Lease from Aubrey McClendon’s New Fracking Company Steve Horn, MyFDL

Jim Comey’s Confused Defense of Front Door Back Doors and Storage Intercepts Marcy Wheeler, emptywheel

Iran Threatens to Chase Terrorists in Pakistan (Just Like US!) Jim White, emptywheel

Texas Presbyterian whistleblower comes foward, shows how MBA misleadership class treated ebola nurses like cannon fodder lambert, Corrente

How To Stop Deliberate Fouling of Aquifers by Frackers Ian Welsh

TPP Leak Confirms Measures To Criminalize Corporate Whistleblowing Glyn Moody. Techdirt

Leaked TPP IP Chapter Would Lead To Much Greater Online Surveillance… Because Hollywood Still Hates The Internet Mike Masnick, Techdirt

Something to Think about over Coffee Prozac

Nothing to worry about, folks.

And I’m not especially worried about Ebola, but it’s quite clear our medical system can’t handle a serious outbreak for all of the talk about how we have the bestest of everything in the world.

Atrios