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Google accused of criminal intent over StreetView data

BBC | June 9, 2010

Google is “almost certain” to face prosecution for collecting data from unsecured wi-fi networks, according to Privacy International (PI).

The search giant has been under scrutiny for collecting wi-fi data as part of its StreetView project.

Google has released an independent audit of the rogue code, which it has claimed was included in the StreetView software by mistake.

But PI is convinced the audit proves “criminal intent”.

“The independent audit of the Google system shows that the system used for the wi-fi collection intentionally separated out unencrypted content (payload data) of communications and systematically wrote this data to hard drives. This is equivalent to placing a hard tap and a digital recorder onto a phone wire without consent or authorisation,” said PI in a statement.

This would put Google at odds with the interception laws of the 30 countries that the system was used in, it added.

Scotland Yard

“The Germans are almost certain to prosecute. Because there was intent, they have no choice but to prosecute,” said Simon Davies, head of PI.

In the UK the ICO has said it is reviewing the audit but that for the time being it had no plans to pursue the matter.

PI however does intend to take the case to the police.

“I don’t see any alternative but for us to go to Scotland Yard,” said Mr Davies.

The revelation that Google had collected such data led the German Information Commissioner to demand it handed over a hard-disk so it could examine exactly what it had collected.

It has not yet received the data and has extended the original deadline for it to be handed over.

The Australian police have also been ordered to investigate Google for possible breach of privacy.

‘Systematic failure’

According to Google, the code which allowed data to be collected was part of an experimental wi-fi project undertaken by an unnamed engineer to improve location-based services and was never intended to be incorporated in the software for StreetView.

“As we have said before, this was a mistake. The report today confirms that Google did indeed collect and store payload data from unencrypted wi-fi networks, but not from networks that were encrypted. We are continuing to work with the relevant authorities to respond to their questions and concerns,” said a Google spokesman.

“This was a failure of communication between and within teams,” he added.

But PI disputes this explanation.

“The idea that this was a work of a lone engineer doesn’t add up. This is complex code and it must have been given a budget and been overseen. Google has asserted that all its projects are rigorously checked,” said Mr Davies.

“It goes to the heart of a systematic failure of management and of duty of care,” he added.

June 10, 2010 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | Comments Off on Google accused of criminal intent over StreetView data

Let the Palestinians Eat Potato Chips

By Ahmad Amr | June 10, 2010

At first glance, I thought I was reading a parody mocking the absurd list of the products that are banned from reaching Gaza. The Associated Press just published an article titled “Israel Eases Gaza Blockade on Some Banned Foods.” That seemed like a promising headline. It now appears that the Israelis will permit the Gazans to import soda, juice, jam, spices, shaving cream, potato chips, cookies and candy. That’s it. No steel – no cement – nothing that can be used for rebuilding the thousands of homes, hospitals, schools, sewage plants and mosques that were reduced to rubble in last year’s carpet bombing of Gaza. What the AP failed to report is the long list of food products that still remain on the black list. Another thing that didn’t make past the AP censors is the fact that the Israelis continue to enforce the ban on textiles, office equipment, paper products, school equipment and even medical equipment.

Meanwhile over at Reuters, another Israeli media colony, the editors splashed another promising headline – “Netanyahu says ready to testify in flotilla inquiry.” Was that a sign that Israel was responding to international demands for an independent inquiry? Once again, the Reuters article was little more than unabashed propaganda. As it turns out, Netanyahu was volunteering to give testimony on “who was behind the extremist group on the ship’s deck? Who sponsored its members?” The subliminal message is “they deserved to die.”

Israel’s ‘impartial’ investigation will not be an International inquiry and will not take any testimony from the soldiers involved in the slaughter. That means we’ll never know the exact nature of the orders Ehud Barak handed to the Israeli Navy’s death squads. And neither will any of the victims on the flotilla get to testify because they’ve already been deported but not before the Israelis confiscated their cameras and videos.

While the Associated Press was lauding Israel’s magnanimity and Reuters was busy burying the calls for an international inquiry, the Guardian was reporting that “Flotilla activists were shot in the head at close range.” What’s going on here?

What we’re witnessing at Reuters and AP is not just another display of the influence of Zionists in the mass media – it’s a coordinated frontal assault by Israel’s propaganda machine with its guys at Reuters, AP and other mass media outlets. And if you think I’m exaggerating the extent of the collaboration – do yourself a favor and find out more about Israel’s Hasbara operation. Just today, the IDF released a mock musical parody of the assault that included derogatory language. The IDF is now dispensing that professionally produced video online along with doctored videos that for some unknown reason fail to record the crucial first minutes of the night attack on the humanitarian convoy. How long did it take to produce the video which was released by the IDF? Ask the folks at the Jerusalem Post – it was their handiwork.

Reporters Without Borders has confirmed that at least 60 of 700 passengers on board the FG flotilla were journalists and slammed the treatment of the media. Reporters and photographers were attacked, and journalists had their video, audio, and other communications equipment confiscated. Conveniently, the Israelis arrived fully armed with their own cameras. These aren’t allegations – they are well documented facts that just never found their way past Reuters or AP censors.

Over and beyond the skewed coverage, a question arises. Why did the Israelis have such a well coordinated ‘ready to launch’ media campaign before the assault? A plausible answer is that the Israeli Navy had instructions from the political leadership to use deadly force. That also helps explain why the sneak attack was carried out under the cover of darkness and why the Israelis cut satellite communication and confiscated the evidence in the hands of the reporters on board. It’s sort of curious why no AP or Reuters reporters were on board the flotilla.

All evidence indicates that some Reuters and AP reporters and editors were recruited as willing participants in Israel’s campaign to blame the victims. Either that or they simply failed to notice that the Israelis confiscated and tampered with evidence, held sixty of their colleagues incommunicado for two days after the assault on the flotilla and wouldn’t even allow incarcerated reporters access to their consulates. While professional journalists with first-hand accounts were locked up, Reuters and AP were disseminating Netanyahu’s crazy accusations that the flotilla had associations with Al Qaeda. Because of the absurdity of that charge, the Israelis government later toned their defamation campaign, withdrew the Al Qaeda canard and accused the Turks who were murdered of having associations with terrorists.

Over at Ha’aretz, there was another little report that the AP and Reuters crowd missed. “Defense Minister Ehud Barak told a meeting of Labor ministers that there should be no hurry in establishing a panel to probe the affair. According to a person present at a closed meeting with the defense minister, Barak said he thought the committee should wait “another two-three weeks and everyone will forget and the pressure on us will dissipate.” (Barak Ravid, Ha’aretz, June 7, 2010.) I can guarantee that the first people who will forget about it are the folks who own and operate the well oiled mind warping machinery at Reuters and the AP.

Lest we forget, Barak is a serial war criminal. The AP and Reuters omitted mentioning that the Israeli Minister of Defense who gave the orders for this criminal assault on the flotilla has already been investigated for war crimes by an internationally sanctioned inquiry which found compelling evidence that he was guilty as charged.

It seems to me that we’re not just witnessing willful misreporting and deliberate distortion by one AP reporter here or another Reuters’ correspondent there. It’s one thing to have this kind of blatant propaganda spewing from the foaming mouths of the likes of Charles Krauthammer, Daniel Pipes or other deranged card carrying members of the Israel First Press Association. But we’re talking about international news agencies that are tasked with gathering and dispensing verifiable well sourced information before handing it over to the cabal of pro-Israeli spin meisters at CNN and the Washington Post.

So far, the damage control is probably a bit more work than what the Israelis and their mass media operatives bargained for. They obviously expected a less vocal reaction. Regardless, the campaign to white wash this wanton slaughter goes on full steam. Who needs cement, steel, medical equipment and stationary. Let the Palestinians eat cake and potato chips. Now that they have junk food on the shelves – what more can they possibly ask for? Call me an agitator but I think the Palestinians would gladly give up potato chips for balanced news coverage.

– Ahmed Amr is the former editor of and the author of “The Sheep and the Guardians – Diary of a SEC Sanctioned Swindle.”

June 10, 2010 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, War Crimes | 1 Comment

Israel’s “Self Defense” Narrative Falls Apart

By Paul Woodward on June 10, 2010

On May 31, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu described the actions of IDF soldiers who had conducted the raid on the Mavi Marmara, killing at least nine of its passengers, as “a clear case of self-defense because as our soldiers were inspecting these ships, they were attacked – they were almost lynched. They were attacked with clubs, with knives, perhaps with live gunfire, and they had to defend themselves – they were going to be killed.”

That was before video emerged appearing to show two Israeli soldiers first pummeling with their boots and then shooting one of the victims as he lay at their feet. To stand above an injured man and then finish him off with rounds from an assault rifle can by no ones estimation be described as an act of self-defense.

I have asked the IDF Spokesman’s office for comment on the video and been told that they will get back to me in due course.

An explanation from the IDF is unlikely to be swift because a decision on how to handle this matter is now likely to rise above the military ranks to the highest political level.

The Netanyahu government’s political strategy for grappling with the latest international crisis it has triggered has been rooted from its inception in the outlook that molds the Israeli psyche: whatever happens, Israel is always the victim.

June 10, 2010 Posted by | Deception, War Crimes | 2 Comments

Israel’s “self-defense” narrative falls apart

By Paul Woodward on June 10, 2010

On May 31, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu described the actions of IDF soldiers who had conducted the raid on the Mavi Marmara, killing at least nine of its passengers, as “a clear case of self-defense because as our soldiers were inspecting these ships, they were attacked – they were almost lynched. They were attacked with clubs, with knives, perhaps with live gunfire, and they had to defend themselves – they were going to be killed.”

That was before video emerged appearing to show two Israeli soldiers first pummeling with their boots and then shooting one of the victims as he lay at their feet. To stand above an injured man and then finish him off with rounds from an assault rifle can by no ones estimation be described as an act of self-defense.

I have asked the IDF Spokesman’s office for comment on the video and been told that they will get back to me in due course.

An explanation from the IDF is unlikely to be swift because a decision on how to handle this matter is now likely to rise above the military ranks to the highest political level.

The Netanyahu government’s political strategy for grappling with the latest international crisis it has triggered has been rooted from its inception in the outlook that molds the Israeli psyche: whatever happens, Israel is always the victim.

June 10, 2010 Posted by | War Crimes | Comments Off on Israel’s “self-defense” narrative falls apart

Stephen Colbert to Michael Oren: ‘Palestinians should go back to where they came from’

By Ann El Khoury | Pulse Media | June 10, 2010

The Colbert Report yesterday had on Israeli Ambassador to the US, Michael Oren, as an interviewed guest. To the disgust of many (see the forums), Oren was given a platform to spew lie after lie about the Gaza Freedom Flotilla. But there is one bright spot that had Oren stunned in a redeeming Colbert comment.

Colbert remarked:

I want to say that I repudiate what Helen said. She’s a friend, but I repudiate everything she said. “Go back to Poland, go back to Germany.” That’s ridiculous. Israel is for Israelis. If anything, the Palestinians should go back to where they came from. (Audience laughs, as Oren hesitates.) Do you agree? Do you agree, sir? It’s time to get them back to wherever that was?


Alas I don’t agree. I think there’s room for both of us to share this homeland: Palestinians living in their homeland, Israelis living in their homeland, in a position of permanent and legitimate peace.

Its a pity that homeland is still being stolen and eaten up by illegal outposts, Mr Oren. Not to mention the full litany of the crimes of the hafrada regime that makes a mockery of  your vaunted ‘permanent and legitimate peace’. A far better statement, as Helena Cobban astutely suggests, would be something like “there is room in Israel/Palestine for all the Israelis and Palestinians who have a legitimate claim on its land and resources.” It is worth remembering that many Palestinian claims for the right to return to their land and their homes have never been annulled, and are enshrined in international law. And its not historical: its still happening. Take the thousands of home demolitions or take-overs, like the Al-Kurd family home take-over in Sheikh Jarrah.

Thanks for the zinger, Stephen Colbert: there’s more truth than ‘truthiness’ in that. And next time, how about having an ISM or Flotilla activist on?

June 10, 2010 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | 1 Comment

New Sanctions on Iran: What’s New? How Effective? The Implicit Goal

By Mohamad Shmaysani | Al-Manar TV | 10/06/2010

It is the fourth round of sanctions on Iran. What next?

During the first three rounds of sanctions since 2006, Iran has developed its peaceful nuclear abilities and cooperated with the international nuclear watchdog (IAEA), which did not find any proof of a military nuclear program to build the A-bomb. The question is what could possibly force the Islamic Republic – the now stronger than ever Iran – to stagger from the sanctions that the international community led by the US has called “crippling”?

The answer is: Probably nothing. Tehran has already announced the sanctions will not force it to change its policy.

Citing Israeli commentators, this new round of sanctions, after a six-month delay, “will not be enough to get Iran to halt its nuclear program…The fight is set to continue in the U.S. Congress, which may vote in favor of more sanctions.” (Haaretz)
This means that Washington will put itself in a row with Beijing and Moscow, which warned the US against taking any unilateral measures against the Islamic Republic.

The new resolution aims to:

1- Ban the supply to Iran of heavy weapons, including tanks, warships, helicopter gunships and missiles.
2- Tighten up the ban on dealings with Iranian banks and individuals, including businesses and members of the Revolutionary Guard
3- Enable states to search any suspect ship or plane.

The Washington-based “Iran Watch” reported last April that the Republic of Iran Shipping Lines (IRISL) had undertaken “a large-scale re-labeling of its ships, giving them new names, new managers, new ‘owners’ – in short, new identities”.

“The US blacklist has not kept up with these changes, so it is being circumvented by Iran with relatively little effort,” Iran Watch said.

“These are not the crippling sanctions that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had promised about a year ago,” said James Lindsay of the Council on Foreign Relations, who was a National Security Council official in the Clinton administration.

The sanctions don’t limit the Islamic Republic’s ability to produce or export oil.

Although the sanctions ban the sale of many heavy weapons, countries still will be allowed to sell weapons outside those categories. For instance, Russia still may sell sophisticated S-300 anti-aircraft missiles, which have been a source of concern to the United States. Moreover, many provisions of the sanctions resolution are essentially optional. For instance, governments can limit financial services provided to Iran by companies under their jurisdiction if the services are believed to further certain nuclear activities.

The resolution also says governments may inspect ships on the high seas suspected of carrying forbidden items, but only if they have the consent of the country to which a suspicious ship is registered.

US President Barack Obama and his European allies had initially sought tougher sanctions against Iran which would have included targeting the Islamic Republic’s gas and oil industries and blacklisting Iran’s Central Bank. But Moscow and Beijing rejected the measure.

Nevertheless, Russia and China did vote in favor of (softer) sanctions, but at what price?

Today, Iran supplies about 11 percent of China’s imported oil. North Korea, on the other hand, only receives oil from China – perhaps for free or subsidized – to keep its economy afloat. And China prefers the status quo on the Korean peninsula, all the better to maintain business with South Korea and Japan.

If Iran were to unilaterally cut off oil exports in response to really tough sanctions, or if Israel were to attack Iranian nuclear facilities and ignite a regional war, China’s steady economic progress would suffer.

Like China, Russia has its interests with the West and of course Iran. Voting on low-tone sanctions on Iran, knowing they will have no concrete effect on the Islamic Republic, comes in line with balancing strategic interests with all parties.

If the international community, along with the co-sponsors of the resolution, the U.S., the U.K., and France, are not convinced that the new sanctions will stop Iran’s nuclear program, then why go for them?

Historically, the West has failed to compel Iran into yielding to its hegemonic disposition. During the last presidential election in Iran, the west – namely the US, the UK, and France, employed all their covert political and intelligence gravitas to create a “green revolution” to topple the regime. The scheme failed and the “opposition”, as the West calls it, lost its momentum. The U.S., Britain, and France have been blamed by Iran for running covert operations to spark and augment the demonstrations that followed election results.

Today, it is believed that the main objective of the new sanctions was meant to breathe life into unrest from within Iran on the eve of the first anniversary of the election. Tehran can use the sanctions to boost the Iranians’ drive for more technological development and the so-called opposition can exploit sanctions to put more pressure on the regime.

However, the Iranian reaction to sanctions this morning does not support this last notion.

Newspapers, both conservative and reformist, unanimously denounced the UNSC move as “illegal measures” that “have chalked a new path of confrontation.”

The conservative Kayhan daily ran a headline on its front-page reading: “Wait for Iran’s decisive response to illegal sanctions.” It added that “the credibility of the UN Security Council is ending.”

For its part, the reformist newspaper Aftab e-Yazd carried a front-page editorial, insisting that the Security Council had “set a path to confrontation” between the West and Iran. “Now that the West, along with Russia and China, has adopted the path of confrontation, Iran’s response will be strong,” its editorial said.

“These resolutions are not worth a dime for the Iranian nation,” Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said in comments following the vote. He said he had told world powers “that the resolutions you issue are like a used hanky which should be thrown in the dust bin.”

Of the 15 members of the Security Council, only two – Turkey and Brazil, which have reached a deal under which Iran will deposit much of its low-enriched uranium in Turkey – voted against the sanctions, and Lebanon abstained.

June 10, 2010 Posted by | Wars for Israel | 1 Comment

Neo-Conservatives Lead Charge Against Turkey

By Jim Lobe | IPS | June 9, 2010

WASHINGTON – As the right-wing leadership of the organised U.S. Jewish community defends Israel against international condemnation for its deadly seizure of a flotilla bearing humanitarian supplies for Gaza, a familiar clutch of neo-conservative hawks is going on the offensive against what they see as the flotilla’s chief defender, Turkey.

Outraged by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip’s Erdogan’s repeated denunciations of the May 31 Israeli raid, as well as his co- sponsorship with Brazil of an agreement with Iran designed to promote renewed negotiations with the West on Tehran’s nuclear programme, some neo-conservatives are even demanding that the U.S. try to expel Ankara from NATO as one among of several suggested actions aimed at punishing Erdogan’s AKP (Justice and Development Party) government.

“Turkey, as a member of NATO, is privy to intelligence information having to do with terrorism and with Iran,” noted the latest report by the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA), a hard-line neo-conservative group that promotes U.S.-Israeli military ties and has historically cultivated close ties to Turkey’s military, as well.

“If Turkey finds its best friends to be Iran, Hamas, Syria and Brazil (look for Venezuela in the future) the security of that information (and Western technology in weapons in Turkey’s arsenal) is suspect. The United States should seriously consider suspending military cooperation with Turkey as a prelude to removing it from the organisation,” suggested the group.

Its board of advisers includes many prominent champions of the 2003 Iraq invasion, including former Defence Policy Board chairman Richard Perle, former Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) director James Woolsey, and former U.N. Amb. John Bolton.

Neo-conservative publications, notably the Wall Street Journal, the Weekly Standard and the National Review, have also been firing away at the AKP government since the raid.

“Turkey now represents a major element in the global panorama of radical Islam,” declared the Standard’s Stephen Schwartz, while Daniel Pipes, the controversial director of the Likudist Middle East Forum (MEF), echoed JINSA’s call for ousting Ankara from NATO and urged Washington to provide direct support for Turkey’s opposition parties in an article published by the National Review Online.

The Journal has been running editorials and op-eds attacking Turkey on virtually a daily basis since the raid, accusing its government, among other things, of having “an ingrained hostility toward the Jewish state, remarkable sympathies for nearby radical regimes, and an attitude toward extremist groups like the IHH (the Islamist group that sponsored the flotilla’s flagship, the Mavi Marmara) that borders on complicity.”

On Monday, it ran an op-ed by long-time hawk Victor Davis Hanson that labelled the IHH “a terrorist organisation with ties to al-Qaeda”, while an earlier op-ed, by Robert Pollock, its editorial features editor, called Erdogan and his foreign minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, “demagogues appealing to the worst elements in their own country and the broader Middle East”.

Meanwhile, in an op-ed published by ‘The Forward’, a Jewish weekly, Michael Rubin, a Perle protégé at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), accused Turkey of having “become a conduit for the smuggling of weapons to Israel’s enemies”, notably Lebanon’s Hezbollah.

The onslaught is ironic both because of the neo- conservatives’ long cultivation of Turkey and their avowed support for promoting democratic governance – of which they have singled out Turkey for special praise – in the Muslim world.

Neo-conservatives were among the most important promoters of the military alliance between Israel and Turkey that began to take shape in the late 1980s and was consolidated by the mid-1990s.

In fact, Perle and another of his protégés, former undersecretary of defence for policy, Douglas Feith, worked as paid lobbyists for Turkey during that period, in major part to persuade the powerful “Israel Lobby” on Capitol Hill to promote Ankara’s interests on Capitol Hill.

In 1996, the two men participated in a task force chaired by Perle that proposed to incoming Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu that he work with Turkey and Jordan to remove Iraqi President Saddam Hussein from power as part of an alliance designed to transform the strategic balance in the Middle East permanently in favour of Israel.

But the Turkey promoted by Perle and his fellow-neo-cons in the 1980s and ’90s was one that was dominated by a secular business and political elite carefully monitored by an all- powerful military institution that mounted three coup d’etats between 1960 and 1980 and intervened a fourth time in 1997 to oust an Islamist-led government.

Despite its close links to both the U.S. and Israel, however, the Turkish military badly disappointed the neo- cons in the run-up to Washington’s invasion of Iraq in March 2003.

Instead of insisting that the civilian government at the time grant U.S. requests to use Turkish territory as a major launching pad into northern Iraq, the armed forces decided to defer to overwhelming parliamentary and public opposition to the invasion.

“I think for whatever reason they did not play the strong leadership role on that issue that we would have expected,” complained then-Deputy Secretary of Defence Paul Wolfowitz, a long-time Perle friend and colleague who, despite his lavish praise of Turkey as a model Muslim democracy, headed repeated efforts by the George W. Bush administration to persuade Turkey’s national security council – where the military’s voice was dominant – to effectively overrule its parliament.

Erdogan, who became prime minister just a week before the invasion and whose political and economic reforms have been widely praised in the West, at first sought good relations with Israel. As late as 2007, he arranged for Shimon Peres to become the first Israeli president to address the Turkish parliament.

By then, however, many neo-cons had become concerned about Erdogan’s efforts to weaken the military’s power, his warm reception of a top Hamas leader in 2005, criticism of Israel’s military campaign against Hezbollah in 2006, and rapprochement with Syria.

When the military not so subtly threatened to intervene against Erdogan and the AKP in 2007, some neo-cons, notably Perle, suggested that the U.S. should not try to discourage it. Others, including the Standard’s Schwartz and Pipes, encouraged it as the lesser of two evils, even as the Journal defended the AKP as “more democratic than the secularists”.

Since Erdogan’s furious denunciation of Israel, and Peres personally, at the Davos World Economic Forum (WEF) of Israel’s Cast Lead operation in Gaza in Jan 2009, however, neo-cons of virtually all stripes – including those, like the Journal’s editorial writers, who have praised the AKP as a democratising force – have turned against Ankara. And the flotilla incident, combined with Erdogan’s perceived defence of Iran’s nuclear programme, has raised their animus to new heights.

“A combination of Islamist rule, resentment at exclusion from Europe, and a neo-Ottomanist ideology that envisions Turkey as a great power in the Middle East have made Turkey a state that is often plainly hostile not only to Israel but to American aims and interests,” wrote Eliot Cohen, professor at Johns Hopkins University, in a Journal op-ed Monday.

June 10, 2010 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Wars for Israel | 2 Comments