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Member since: Fri Nov 12, 2004, 07:39 AM
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UN Report Finds Mass Surrveillance Violates International Treaties and Privacy Rights

Source: First Look


@ggreenwald TODAY AT 8:32 AM

The United Nations’ top official for counter-terrorism and human rights (known as the “Special Rapporteur”) issued a formal report to the U.N. General Assembly today that condemns mass electronic surveillance as a clear violation of core privacy rights guaranteed by multiple treaties and conventions. “The hard truth is that the use of mass surveillance technology effectively does away with the right to privacy of communications on the Internet altogether,” the report concluded.

Central to the Rapporteur’s findings is the distinction between “targeted surveillance” — which “depend upon the existence of prior suspicion of the targeted individual or organization” — and “mass surveillance,” whereby “states with high levels of Internet penetration can [] gain access to the telephone and e-mail content of an effectively unlimited number of users and maintain an overview of Internet activity associated with particular websites.” In a system of “mass surveillance,” the report explained, “all of this is possible without any prior suspicion related to a specific individual or organization. The communications of literally every Internet user are potentially open for inspection by intelligence and law enforcement agencies in the States concerned.”

Mass surveillance thus “amounts to a systematic interference with the right to respect for the privacy of communications,” it declared. As a result, “it is incompatible with existing concepts of privacy for States to collect all communications or metadata all the time indiscriminately.”

In concluding that mass surveillance impinges core privacy rights, the report was primarily focused on the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, a treaty enacted by the General Assembly in 1966, to which all of the members of the “Five Eyes” alliance are signatories. The U.S. ratified the treaty in 1992, albeit with various reservations that allowed for the continuation of the death penalty and which rendered its domestic law supreme. With the exception of the U.S.’s Persian Gulf allies (Saudi Arabia, UAE and Qatar), virtually every major country has signed the treaty.

Read more: https://firstlook.org/theintercept/2014/10/15/un-investigator-report-condemns-mass-surveillance

Big NYT Story: The Secret U.S. Casualties of Iraq’s Abandoned Chemical Weapons

@GregMitch: Giant NYT story now: U.S. troops stumbled upon chem weapons in Iraq & harmed--kept secret, ISIS may now possess. http://t.co/5sbX0fh38q/s/LvRx

@GregMitch: NYT: Congress not informed about troops hurt by chem weapons in Iraq. Ex-soldier says he felt like "guinea pig." http://t.co/5sbX0fh38q/s/wmCP

@GregMitch: NYT states that finding abandoned chem weapons does not justify Bush's WMD claims--but expect to hear opposite soon. http://t.co/5sbX0fh38q/s/wo-E


The Secret U.S. Casualties of Iraq’s Abandoned Chemical Weapons


Published: October 14, 2014
The soldiers at the blast crater sensed something was wrong.

It was August 2008 near Taji, Iraq. They had just exploded a stack of old Iraqi artillery shells buried beside a murky lake. The blast, part of an effort to destroy munitions that could be used in makeshift bombs, uncovered more shells.

Two technicians assigned to dispose of munitions stepped into the hole. Lake water seeped in. One of them, Specialist Andrew T. Goldman, noticed a pungent odor, something, he said, he had never smelled before.

He lifted a shell. Oily paste oozed from a crack. “That doesn’t look like pond water,” said his team leader, Staff Sgt. Eric J. Duling.

The specialist swabbed the shell with chemical detection paper. It turned red — indicating sulfur mustard, the chemical warfare agent designed to burn a victim’s airway, skin and eyes.

All three men recall an awkward pause. Then Sergeant Duling gave an order: “Get the hell out.”

Five years after President George W. Bush sent troops into Iraq, these soldiers had entered an expansive but largely secret chapter of America’s long and bitter involvement in Iraq.

From 2004 to 2011, American and American-trained Iraqi troops repeatedly encountered, and on at least six occasions were wounded by, chemical weapons remaining from years earlier in Saddam Hussein’s rule.

- snip -

The American government withheld word about its discoveries even from troops it sent into harm’s way and from military doctors. The government’s secrecy, victims and participants said, prevented troops in some of the war’s most dangerous jobs from receiving proper medical care and official recognition of their wounds.

- snip -

The discoveries of these chemical weapons did not support the government’s invasion rationale.

After the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, Mr. Bush insisted that Mr. Hussein was hiding an active weapons of mass destruction program, in defiance of international will and at the world’s risk. United Nations inspectors said they could not find evidence for these claims.

Then, during the long occupation, American troops began encountering old chemical munitions in hidden caches and roadside bombs. Typically 155-millimeter artillery shells or 122-millimeter rockets, they were remnants of an arms program Iraq had rushed into production in the 1980s during the Iran-Iraq war.

All had been manufactured before 1991, participants said. Filthy, rusty or corroded, a large fraction of them could not be readily identified as chemical weapons at all. Some were empty, though many of them still contained potent mustard agent or residual sarin. Most could not have been used as designed, and when they ruptured dispersed the chemical agents over a limited area, according to those who collected the majority of them.


Preliminary magnitude-7.4 earthquake strikes 66 miles southeast of Usulutan, El Salvador

Source: NBC News

@BreakingNews: Preliminary magnitude-7.4 earthquake strikes 66 miles southeast of Usulutan, El Salvador - @USGS http://t.co/jJKUfB0hfv/s/DQIx

@BreakingNews: Tsunami threat issued along coasts of El Salvador, Nicaragua and Honduras after magnitude-7.4 earthquake - @NWS_PTWC http://t.co/MdiPVpLVdL/s/nARA

@BreakingNews: Warning center: Tsunami threat has mostly passed after earthquake hits off coast of El Salvador- @NWS_PTWC http://t.co/27Uw0ptCio/s/1S6U

No link yet.

TOM TOMORROW: The Counter-Intuitivist

DAILY KOS LINK: http://www.dailykos.com/story/2014/10/13/1333878/-Cartoon-The-counter-intuitivist

NYFF 2014: Edward Snowden Documentary 'Citizenfour' Jolts Film World (Directed by Laura Poitras)



OCTOBER 11, 2014, 2:38 PM

Many documentaries seek to kick-start environmental movements, reverse death row sentences or even change legislative policy.

But few come with the kind of ideological ambition of the Edward Snowden study "Citizenfour," a movie of grand scope that also tells an intimate personal story.

The long-awaited documentary from Snowden chronicler Laura Poitras arrived with a bang at its world premiere at the New York Film Festival on Friday night, receiving a rare festival standing ovation ahead of its theatrical release Oct. 24, when it could well jolt both the fall moviegoing season and the national conversation about privacy and security.

Poitras, as some may recall, shot the 12-minute video of Snowden that went viral in June 2013 and made the National Security Agency contractor, at 29, perhaps the most important and polarizing figure since Daniel Ellsberg. "Citizenfour” is, in effect, that original video effort writ very large — a look at how Snowden came to the decision to pull back the curtain on the NSA's massive surveillance operation and what happened to him when he did.

- snip -

There are reveals toward the end of the film of both the personal and political kind. For example, viewers learn that Snowden’s girlfriend, Lindsay Mills, is now living with him in Moscow.


US Judge Strikes Down NC Gay Marriage Ban; First Weddings Expected to Quickly Follow

Source: Associated Press / WTVD

@AP: BREAKING: US judge strikes down NC gay marriage ban; first same-sex weddings expected to quickly follow.


Updated 1 min ago
ASHEVILLE, NC -- Federal U.S. District Court Judge Max O. Cogburn Jr. has overturned North Carolina's ban on same-sex marriage in a case filed by members of the clergy seeking to marry gay couples.

The case is separate from the one being overseen by Chief U.S. District Court Judge William Osteen Jr. in Greensboro. Osteen put off a ruling in that case until Monday.

The amendment to the state constitution banning gay marriage was overwhelmingly approved by voters in 2012.

The U.S. Supreme Court announced Monday it would not hear appeals of decisions striking down similar marriage prohibitions in other states. In July, the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals struck down Virginia's gay marriage ban. The appeals court in Richmond has jurisdiction over North Carolina, and judges here are required to follow its ruling.

Read more: http://abc11.com/politics/federal-judge-in-asheville-overturns-north-carolinas-same-sex-marriage-ban/345114/

Supreme Court Lifts Hold on Same-Sex Weddings in Idaho

Source: Associated Press

@AP: BREAKING: Supreme Court lifts hold on same-sex weddings in Idaho.

High court lifts hold on gay marriage in Idaho
OCT. 10, 2014 5:26 PM EDT

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court says same-sex marriage can go ahead in Idaho.

The court issued an order Friday that appears to remove the last legal obstacle keeping gay and lesbian couples from getting married in the conservative state.

The federal appeals court in San Francisco on Tuesday declared gay marriage bans illegal in Idaho and Nevada.

Justice Anthony Kennedy temporarily blocked same-sex weddings in Idaho a day later after the state asked for a delay. Idaho officials said county clerks would be forced to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples almost immediately without the high court's intervention.

Kennedy offered no explanation for his order, but indicated it would not be lasting. The court issued no explanation for its order Friday, either.

Read more: http://bigstory.ap.org/article/3cb3ce24a34c4b779d28b4e1be2f5c71/high-court-lifts-hold-gay-marriage-idaho

'Saturday Night Live' Star Jan Hooks Dead at 57

Source: Huffington Post

@BreakingNews: 'Saturday Night Live' star Jan Hooks dies at age 57 - @HuffingtonPost http://t.co/d16OZc11oV/s/L7Zg

'SNL' Star Jan Hooks Dead At 57

Jessica Goodman The Huffington Post 10/09/14 05:58 PM ET

Former "Saturday Night Live" star Jan Hooks died on Thursday. Her representative confirmed the news to HuffPost Entertainment, but had no further comment on Hooks' death. She was 57 years old.

Hooks appeared on "SNL" from 1986-91 and most recently appeared on "30 Rock" as Jenna Maroney's mother, Verna. She was also a regular on "Designing Women." While on "SNL," she was known for her recurring character Candy Sweeney of "The Sweeney Sisters," and impersonated Bette Davis, Betty Ford, Nancy Reagan, Sinéad O'Connor, Jodie Foster and Hillary Clinton.

Read more: http://t.co/d16OZc11oV/s/L7Zg

Study: Voter ID Laws Cut Turnout by Blacks, Young

Source: Associated Press

@AP: Study finds voter ID laws in US reduce election turnout, disproportionately impacting black, young: http://t.co/GLshoBJk7W/s/LLQv


Study: Voter ID laws cut turnout by blacks, young

OCT. 8, 2014 11:38 PM EDT

WASHINGTON (AP) — States that toughened their voter identification laws saw steeper drops in election turnout than those that did not, with disproportionate falloffs among black and younger voters, a nonpartisan congressional study released Wednesday concluded.

As of June, 33 states have enacted laws obligating voters to show a photo ID at the polls, the study said. Republicans who have pushed the legislation say the requirement will reduce fraud, but Democrats insist the laws are a GOP effort to reduce Democratic turnout on Election Day.

The report by the Government Accountability Office, Congress' investigative agency, was released less than a month from elections that will determine which party controls Congress.

The office compared election turnout in Kansas and Tennessee — which tightened voter ID requirements between the 2008 and 2012 elections — to voting in four states that didn't change their identification requirements.

Read more: http://bigstory.ap.org/article/1dba56c5f8f7430f859748aff4405b10/study-voter-id-laws-cut-turnout-blacks-young

Gay Marriage Licenses Allowed in Kansas County

Source: Associated Press

@AP: MORE: Kansas county judge orders Johnson County clerk's office to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples: http://t.co/64gat8uBPE/s/qtTo

Gay marriage licenses allowed in Kansas county

OCT. 8, 2014 5:12 PM EDT

OLATHE, Kan. (AP) — A judge in northeast Kansas has ordered a county to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples following actions earlier this week by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Johnson County Chief District Judge Kevin Moriarty issued the order Wednesday. He says it was meant to avoid confusion about the legal climate surrounding gay marriages.

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday refused to hear appeals from five states seeking to preserve their bans on gay marriage. One of them was Utah, which is in the same federal appeals court circuit as Kansas.

The Kansas Constitution has banned gay marriage since 2005.

Read more: http://bigstory.ap.org/article/525af8dc8530440bb8a2cc2a142bb457/gay-marriage-licenses-allowed-kansas-county
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