Aletho News


8 injured as settlers stone bus carrying worshipers

Ma’an – 04/08/2012

Israeli settlers hurl stones toward Palestinians during clashes in the
village of Burin near Nablus (MaanImages/Rami Swidan, File)

NABLUS – Eight Palestinians sustained injuries late Friday when Jewish settlers pelted a bus with stones on the main road between Ramallah and Nablus, a Palestinian official said.

Ghassan Daghlas, a PA official who monitors settlement activity in the northern West Bank, told Ma’an that settlers from Shilo hurled stones at a bus carrying Palestinian worshipers on their way back from al-Aqsa Mosque.

The attack, he said, took place at 1:30 a.m. and eight people including men and women were injured. They were taken to Rafidia Hospital in Nablus, he said.

Daghlas highlighted that Israeli military forces closed the main road between Ramallah and Nablus for more than two hours after the incident to prevent further attacks.

The Israeli military confirmed receiving reports about the incident.

“Once the reports were received, IDF soldiers arrived at the scene and set up temporary checkpoints while searching for suspects,” a spokeswoman told Ma’an.

Settler violence against Palestinians and their property is systematic in the West Bank.

On Wednesday settlers vandalized Palestinian property in the Ramallah village of Sinjil.

A group of settlers from Givat Ariel outpost wrote “Palestinians should die,” and “Stay away from our lands,” on a wall in the village, Sinjil mayor Ayoub Swaied said.

Settlers also left an improvised explosive device made from chemicals under a car. A box containing ethylene, benzene and sulfur was found underneath a car in the village, Swaied added.

August 4, 2012 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , , , | 3 Comments

FBI’s Facial Recognition is Coming to a State Near You

By Jennifer Lynch | EFF | August 2, 2012

Recently-released documents show that the FBI has been working since late 2011 with four states—Michigan, Hawaii, Maryland, and possibly Oregon—to ramp up the Next Generation Identification (NGI) Facial Recognition Program. When the program is fully deployed in 2014, the FBI expects its facial recognition database will contain at least 12 million “searchable frontal photos.” (p. 6)

The documents, which the National Day Laborer Organizing Network (NDLON) obtained from a recent meeting of the FBI’s Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS) Advisory Policy Board,1  shed new light on the FBI’s plans for NGI—the Bureau’s massive biometrics database that combines fingerprints, iris scans, palm prints, facial recognition and extensive biographical data collected from over 100 million Americans.

The Advisory Board documents show that FBI’s database of facial images will provide search results automatically (the system won’t need to rely on a human to check the results before forwarding them to the state or local agency) and that the FBI is developing “Universal Face Workstation software” to allow states that don’t have their own “Face/Photo search capabilities”  to search through the FBI’s images.

After we read through the Advisory Board documents, we quickly sent Open Records requests to several of the states involved in the pilot program. The documents we received from Maryland and Hawaii further flesh out the story. For example, the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between Hawaii and the FBI shows that the government is building NGI to “permit photo submissions independent of arrests.” This is a problem because, the FBI has stated it wants to use its facial recognition system to “identify[] subjects in public datasets” and “conduct[] automated surveillance at lookout locations” (p.5). This suggests the FBI wants to be able to search and identify people in photos of crowds and in pictures posted on social media sites—even if the people in those photos haven’t been arrested for or even suspected of a crime. The FBI may also want to incorporate those crowd or social media photos into its face recognition database.

And an MOU between Maryland and the FBI will allow Maryland to submit photos in bulk to the database — something that Maryland described in an email as a “photo data dump.” This kind of an agreement could be used in the future to incorporate the same kind of facial identifying information already collected by 32 of 50 state DMVs solely to prevent fraud and identity theft.

The Advisory Board documents contain other concerning information. For example, one document discusses the FBI’s plans to combine civil and criminal biometrics records by giving them a single searchable “master name” or unique identifying number. As we’ve noted, criminal and civil records have always been kept separate in the past. While this may be a function of the differences in how each type of print is collected and stored, it has effectively meant that civil prints—collected for employment verification, for background checks, for federal jobs, and even to become a lawyer in California—have not been automatically searched every time criminal prints are checked against the database. That will all change once FBI implements its unique identity system. Although FBI states that “the criminal and civil files will remain logically separated . . . [to] ensure that retained civil submissions remain untainted by criminal submissions” it’s hard to see how this is functionally true, given that civil files will be searched at the same time as criminal files.

Another document discusses the federal government’s extensive biometrics sharing relationships with other countries. It notes that the FBI’s Global Initiatives Unit has already collected over 990,000 records from foreign partners, with over 600,000 of those coming from Afghanistan. The FBI already has information sharing relationships with 77 countries, (p.2), but CJIS is now trying to partner with “Visa Waiver Program countries” like Ireland, Spain and Australia to allow automatic access to each other’s biometric databases on a “hit/no hit basis.” This kind of access has already been set up to connect the German and U.S. biometric databases.2

And finally, as NDLON has discussed in greater detail, the documents show just how far the FBI and DHS partnership has progressed to maximize datasharing as part of the Secure Communities program. For example, NDLON notes that FBI has mobile devices that permit searches of the entire IDENT database in the field. These mobile devices may subject individuals to immigration background checks without ever being arrested or booked.

The FBI has not updated the Privacy Impact Assessment (PIA) for its photo database since 2008—well before signing MOUs with the states to share face recognition data and before the development and deployment of NGI’s facial recognition capabilities. As EFF recently testified during a Senate Subcommittee hearing on facial recognition, Americans should be very concerned about the government’s plans to build up its facial recognition capabilities:

Facial recognition takes the risks inherent in other biometrics to a new level . . . [it] allows for covert, remote, and mass capture and identification of images, and the photos that may end up in a database include not just a person’s face but also what she is wearing, what she might be carrying, and who she is associated with.

Without an updated PIA, it is impossible to tell exactly how the FBI plans to acquire and use facial recognition data now and in the future. However, given the information in these new documents and the FBI’s broad goals for face recognition data, the time is right for laws that limit face recognition data collection.

To see all the documents, go to our landing page for NGI and click on “Documents” in the middle toolbar.


1. The FBI’s CJIS Division manages the FBI’s biometrics databases, including its legacy fingerprint database (IAFIS) and NGI. CJIS’s Advisory Policy Board is charged with reviewing the “policy, technical, and operational issues related to CJIS Division programs” and makes recommendations to the FBI’s director. The Advisory Board is made up of 34 representatives from state, local, and tribal criminal justice agencies, and includes representatives from national security, and prosecutorial, judicial, and correctional sectors of the criminal justice system. It meets twice a year—generally in open meetings announced in the Federal Register—though it appears the materials from those meetings are generally only distributed to attendees and through an online system “only available to persons duly employed by a law enforcement, criminal justice, or public safety agency/department, and whose position requires secure communication with other agencies.”

2. The documents state the connection won’t be operational until Germany addresses some “remaining internal details.”

August 4, 2012 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Sudan, South Sudan agree on oil deal

Al Akhbar | August 4, 2012

Sudan and South Sudan have hammered out a deal on how to share their oil wealth, one of a series of disputes that brought the rivals to the brink of all-out war earlier this year, it was announced on Saturday.

“The parties have agreed on all of the financial arrangements regarding oil, so that’s done,” African Union (AU) mediator Thabo Mbeki said early on Saturday after talks in the Ethiopian capital.

The two countries had faced an August 2 deadline set by the United Nations to resolve their differences on oil and borders, and Mbeki said they would meet next month to try to find a compromise on the disputed region of Abyei, whose status was the most sensitive issue left unresolved before South Sudan’s independence.

The former South African leader said a timetable would now be drawn up for the resumption of oil production and exports, which are vital to the economies of both deeply impoverished countries.

“What will remain, given that there is an agreement, is to then discuss the next steps as to when the oil companies should be asked to prepare for resumption of production and export,” he said.

The AU has been mediating long-running talks to try to resolve a series of disputes that have flared since South Sudan became independent in July 2011 following a 2005 peace deal that ended one of Africa’s longest civil wars.

Landlocked South Sudan took with it three-quarters of the oil held by the previously united nation, but the pipelines and processing facilities remained in Sudan.

And the two sides were unable to agree on how much Juba should pay to export its crude through a northern pipeline and port, leading the South to shut down production in January after Khartoum began seizing the oil in lieu of payment.

Oil generates about 98 percent of South Sudan’s revenue and the move crippled the economies of both countries.

Ahead of the agreement announced by Mbeki, Sudan had lowered its demand for oil fees from South Sudan. Sudan had been seeking up to $36 a barrel in fees, but in a position paper released on Thursday said it was proposing $22.20 a barrel, compared with $7.61 offered by South Sudan.

Despite the oil agreement, South Sudan’s chief negotiator Pagan Amum accused Khartoum of violating a peace plan drawn up by the African Union in April urging both sides to reach a comprehensive deal on all outstanding issues.

“The government of Sudan continues to violate the road map and continues to bomb South Sudan,” Amum told reporters.

“The (AU) peace and security council in its road map and resolution decided that they would impose sanctions on Sudan if they fail to comply, Sudan has failed to comply,” he said.

Mbeki’s announcement came hours after US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called on the two Sudans to strike an urgent compromise on outstanding issues such as oil revenue sharing, security, citizenship and border demarcation, saying the countries “remain inextricably linked”.

Clinton’s comments came after a meeting with South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir in Juba as part of her tour of Africa.

Sudan accuses South Sudan of supporting insurgents on its territory, a charge that analysts believe despite denials by Juba, which in turn accuses Khartoum of backing rebels south of the border.

The two countries fought along their undemarcated frontier in March and April, sparking fears of wider war and leading to a UN Security Council resolution that ordered a ceasefire.

Mbeki said an agreement had also been reached between Sudan, the United Nations, the AU and the Arab League to allow for humanitarian access in the conflict-wracked Blue Nile and South Kordofan states.

Prolonged clashes between Sudanese forces and rebel groups in the two disputed territories have left thousands in a “desperate state” and in need of emergency aid, according to the United Nations.

(AFP, Al-Akhbar)

August 4, 2012 Posted by | Economics | , , , , , | Comments Off on Sudan, South Sudan agree on oil deal

Europe Already Has Draft Standard For Real-Time Government Snooping On Services Like Facebook And Gmail

From the not-that-we’d-ever-use-it department

By Glyn Moody | TechDirt | August 3, 2012

As the old joke goes, standards are wonderful things, that’s why we have so many of them. But who would have thought that ETSI, the European Telecommunications Standards Institute, has already produced a draft standard on how European governments can snoop on cloud-based services like Facebook and Gmail — even when encrypted connections are used?

ETSI DTR 101 567, to give it the full title, was pointed out to us by Erich Moechel, who has written an excellent exploration of its elements (original in German). Here’s the summary from the draft standard (Microsoft Word format):

The present document provides an overview on requests for handover and delivery of real-time information associated with cloud/virtual services. The report identifies Lawful Interception needs and requirements in the converged cloud/virtual service environment, the challenges and obstacles of complying with those requirements, what implementations can be achieved under existing ETSI LI [Lawful Interception] standards, and what new work may be required to achieve needed Lawful Interception capabilities. Cloud Services in whichever forms they take (Infrastructure, Software, Platform or combinations of these) are often trans border in nature and the information required to maintain Lawful Interception (LI) capability or sufficient coverage for LI support may vary in different countries, or within platforms of different security assurance levels. This work aims to ensure capabilities can be maintained while allowing business to utilise the advantages and innovations of Cloud Services and was undertaken cooperatively with relevant cloud security technical bodies.

As that makes clear, this is being presented as “maintaining” interception capabilities in a world where cloud computing makes previous approaches inapplicable. The new standard specifically mentions social networking, file sharing and video conferencing as new areas that need to be addressed.

One key section spells out how this is to be achieved:

If the traffic is encrypted, the entity responsible for key management must ensure it can be decrypted by the CSP [Communication Service Provider] or LEA [Law Enforcement Agency].

In order to maintain LI coverage the cloud service provider must implement a Cloud Lawful Interception Function (CLIF). This can be by way of Applications Programming Interface (API) or more likely ensuring presentation of information in a format recognisable to interception mechanisms. Deep packet inspection is likely to be a constituent part of this system.

As this makes clear, along with the intercepted information, the standard envisages encryption keys being handed over routinely. Just to make things complete, DPI — deep packet inspection — is also regarded as a likely element of the system.

Since this is currently a draft, the threat it represents might be seen as purely theoretical; but a recent article in the Guardian confirms that the UK government “quietly agreed to measures that could increase the ability of the security services to intercept online communication” — a reference to the ETSI draft. The Guardian also provides us with some explanation of why this draft just happens to be available at precisely the moment when the UK government is announcing a plan that seems likely to use it:

Etsi has faced criticism in the past for the pre-emptive inclusion of wiretapping capabilities, a decision that critics say encouraged European governments to pass their wiretapping laws accordingly. According to Ross Anderson, professor in security engineering at the University of Cambridge Computer Laboratory, the institute has strong links with the intelligence agencies and has a significant British contingent, along with a number of US government advisers.

It’s a classic case of policy laundering; here’s how it will probably work.

The British government insists now that it will “only” gather communications data, and not content. At the same time, it will require that ISPs adopt the new ETSI cloud interception standard (once it’s been finalized) in the “black boxes” that they must install under the proposed snooping legislation. That will put in place all the capabilities needed for accessing encrypted streams — since those providing cloud services will be required to hand over the encryption keys — and hence the content. The UK government may not intend accessing content today, but thanks to the wonders of function creep, when it decides to do it tomorrow the facility will be there waiting for it.

Meanwhile, European governments will be able to point to the UK’s adoption of the ETSI standard as just “good practice”; they will ask their own ISPs to implement it, while insisting that they too have no intention of accessing the contents of people’s Internet streams either. Until, that is, the day comes — probably in the wake of some terrorist attack or pedophile scandal — when the governments will note that since the capability is available, it would be “irresponsible” not to use it to tackle these terrible crimes. The US government will then bemoan the fact that Europe is taking better care of its citizens than it can, and will therefore pass laws requiring US ISPs to install similar real-time access to their systems, and for cloud-based services to hand over the encryption keys. Luckily, there will be a well-tried European standard that can serve as a model….

Follow me @glynmoody on Twitter or, and on Google+

August 4, 2012 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , | Comments Off on Europe Already Has Draft Standard For Real-Time Government Snooping On Services Like Facebook And Gmail

The Employment Rate In The United States Is Lower Than It Was During The Last Recession

By Michael Snyder | BlackListedNews | August 4, 2012

Did you know that a smaller percentage of Americans are working today than when the last recession supposedly ended?  But you won’t hear about this on the mainstream news.  Instead, the mainstream media obsesses over the highly politicized and highly manipulated “unemployment rate”.  The media is buzzing about how “163,000 new jobs” were added in July but the unemployment rate went up to “8.254%.”  Sadly, those numbers are quite misleading.  According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in June 142,415,000 people had jobs in the United States. In July, that number declined to 142,220,000. That means that 195,000 fewer Americans were working in July than in June. But somehow that works out to “163,000 new jobs” in July.  I am not exactly sure how they get that math to add up.  Perhaps someone out there can explain it to me.  Personally, I find that the “employment rate” gives a much clearer picture of what is actually going on in the economy.  The employment to population ratio is a measure of the percentage of working age Americans that actually have jobs.  When it goes up that is good.  When it goes down, that is bad.  In July, the employment to population ratio dropped from 58.6 percent to 58.4 percent.  Overall, the percentage of working age Americans that have jobs has now been under 59 percent for 35 months in a row.

The following is a chart of the employment to population ratio in the United States over the past 10 years:

The Employment Rate In The United States Is Lower Than It Was During The Last Recession Employment Population Ratio 2012 440x264

The gray shaded bar in the chart represents the last recession as defined by the Federal Reserve.  As you can see, the percentage of working age Americans with a job dropped sharply from nearly 63 percent at the start of 2008 to a little above 59 percent when the recession ended.

But the “employment rate” kept on dropping even further.

It finally bottomed out at 58.2 percent in December of 2009.

Since that time, it has stayed very steady.  It has not fallen below 58 percent and it has not risen back above 59 percent.

This is very odd, because after ever other recession since World War II this number has always bounced back strongly.

But this has not happened this time.

In essence, it is starting to look like 4 percent of the working age population of the United States has been removed from the workforce permanently.

The good news in all of this is that things have at least not been getting any worse over the last couple of years.  Even though things have been bad, at least we have had a period of relative stability.

The bad news is that the employment rate has not rebounded despite unprecedented borrowing and spending by the federal government and despite reckless money printing by the Federal Reserve.

Considering how desperately the federal government and the Federal Reserve have been trying to stimulate the economy, I truly did expect to see the employment rate bounce back at least a little bit by now.

Unfortunately it has not and now the U.S. economy is rapidly heading for another recession.

But Barack Obama is going to prance around over the next few days and talk about how wonderful it is that the economy created “163,000 new jobs” in July. … Full article

August 4, 2012 Posted by | Economics, Progressive Hypocrite | , , , | Comments Off on The Employment Rate In The United States Is Lower Than It Was During The Last Recession

British vessels prohibited from docking in Buenos Aires province

Press TV – August 4, 2012

Argentina has prohibited all ships sailing under the British flag from docking at any of the ports in the Buenos Aires province, Press TV reports.

The measure was adopted on Friday in a bill passed by the legislature of the province of Buenos Aires, the country’s largest province.

“We can’t have a colonial enclave affecting the region with NATO’s presence in our Malvinas Islands. We have to actively protest against those who explore and exploit our natural resources and violate our sovereignty,” said Remo Carlotto, an MP from the ruling party.

The bill prohibits vessels involved in “natural resources exploration and exploitation activities” in waters surrounding the Malvinas Islands, banning them from “mooring, loading or developing logistical operations” in the area”.

The move comes after months of political dialogue over the disputed archipelago between Argentina and Britain has failed to bear fruit.

“We have to keep moving forward using all the tools we have to defend our country’s sovereignty in the [Malvinas] islands. Argentina has taken significant steps. It has stood up and recovered its political and economic sovereignty,” said Martin Sabbatella, another lawmaker from the ruling party.

Earlier this year, Argentina took legal action against five British oil companies.

Argentina and Britain fought a 74-day war in 1982 over the islands.

August 4, 2012 Posted by | Economics, Illegal Occupation | , , , , , , | 2 Comments