Update, 751pm ET
: The House has approved
a 4-year USA PATRIOT act extension, 250-153.
The US Senate voted today to extend three key provisions of the Patriot Act
which were scheduled to expire tonight at midnight. The measure is now before the House for debate, and is scheduled to complete its work tonight. Civil liberties advocates charge that the provisions, in particular portions related to electronic surveillance and wiretapping, are a violation of the Constitution. If Congress approves the extension, it goes before President Obama, who is currently in Europe. Reuters reports that White House spokesman Nick Shapiro says
the President will use "the autopen to sign" the bill quickly into law. The autopen is a machine that replicates his signature.
One of the three provisions, Section 206 of the Patriot Act, provides for roving wiretap surveillance of targets who try to thwart Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) surveillance. Without such roving wiretap authority, investigators would be forced to seek a new court order each time they need to change the location, phone or computer that needs to be monitored.
More at CNN.com
Another provision, Section 215 of the Patriot Act, allows the FBI to apply to the FISA court to issue orders granting the government access to any tangible items in foreign intelligence, international terrorism and clandestine intelligence cases.
The third provision, Section 6001 of the Intelligence Reform and Terrorist Prevention Act of 2004, closes a loophole that could allow individual terrorists not affiliated with specific organizations to slip through the cracks of FISA surveillance. Law enforcement officials refer to it as the "lone wolf" provision.
(PHOTOS / REUTERS. At left, in 1993: Bosnian Serb army Commander General Ratko Mladic (L) salutes.)
The self-proclaimed "God of genocide" in Srebrenica, the Serbian ethnic general Ratko Mladic was arrested today in a small village eighty kilometers from Belgrade.Read the rest
Ben Grubb, a journalist in Australia, was arrested after writing a story about a security expert's demonstration of vulnerabilities on social media sites including Facebook. Two police officers showed up at his office, and interrogated him.
The officers were polite and there was even an amusing interlude when the female officer's iPhone rang, disrupting her recording of our conversations, and I gave Coultis some advice about how to set the iPhone to avoid further interruptions.
They seemed to treat me like a technical expert, and sought my explanation of what Heinrich had done. I felt like they were trying to get me to admit that his actions were illegal. I told them it was not my job to decide that - after all, I was only reporting on the matter. It's their job to decide whether what he demonstrated was against the law.
About half an hour into the questioning, Coultis left the room to liaise briefly with other officers. When he returned, he said: "What we're going to have to do, I'm afraid, Ben, is we're going to be taking possession of your iPad."
Rule number one, by the way, should this ever happen to you? Don't talk, other than to your lawyer.
Grubb's story: privacy, news and the strong arm of the law (Ben Grubb, in The Age)
A related story here in the Sydney Morning Herald.
(via Submitterator, thanks darkl and Clovis)
), who has been photographing the protests in in Madrid's Puerta del Sol square, where some ten thousand demonstrators have gathered to demand jobs, economic equality, and "real democracy." The demonstrations throughout Spain, ahead of the country's upcoming elections, have been compared to various popular uprisings in the Middle East. Global Voices
, Periodismo Humano
. Spain's El Pais
newspaper, as one might expect, has extensive coverage
(photos, video). US-based and English-language outlets, not so much yet.
Below, video shot of thousands of protesters in Madrid today by "eloyente" for periodismohumano.com.
Read the rest
"Police do not need a search warrant to knock on a suspected drug dealer's door and then kick it down when a suspicious bustling noise is heard from the other side, the Supreme Court ruled 8-1."—Wired News. More: WaPo, Time, Boston Globe, LA Times, NPR.
Erik Prince, the billionaire founder of Blackwater (now rebranded "Xe") is building a stealth, American-led mercenary army in the United Arab Emirates "with $529 million from the oil-soaked sheikdom." The business plan, at least in part, appears to be to help autocratic regimes crush popular democratic uprisings—a response to "Arab Spring." Oh, this will turn out well. Snip from the New York Times' exclusive:
Mr. Prince, who resettled here last year after his security business faced mounting legal problems in the United States, was hired by the crown prince of Abu Dhabi to put together an 800-member battalion of foreign troops for the U.A.E., according to former employees on the project, American officials and corporate documents obtained by The New York Times.
The force is intended to conduct special operations missions inside and outside the country, defend oil pipelines and skyscrapers from terrorist attacks and put down internal revolts, the documents show. Such troops could be deployed if the Emirates faced unrest or were challenged by pro-democracy demonstrations in its crowded labor camps or democracy protests like those sweeping the Arab world this year. The U.A.E.'s rulers, viewing their own military as inadequate, also hope that the troops could blunt the regional aggression of Iran, the country's biggest foe, the former employees said.
Read the rest
Andrei Sannikov, a candidate in Belarus's December 2010 presidential elections, was today sentenced to five years in prison. Index on Censorship
Sannikov claimed during the trial that he had been tortured, denied access to legal representation and that KGB officers threatened to kill his wife, journalist Irina Khalip, and three year-old son, Danil.
In a post-election clampdown on the country's opposition, seven of the nine presidential candidates who stood against President Alexander Lukashenko were arrested. Ales Mikhalevic, another candidate, fled the country after also accusing the KGB of torture. Index on Censorship is part of a coalition of NGOs supporting a private prosecution of President Lukashenko.
Sannikov claims that prisoners at "The Amerikanka", an infamous KGB jail in Minsk, were being psychologically conditioned to violence in an echo of the Soviet-era tactic. Prisoners were shown anti-Semitic films such as Russia With A Knife In Its Back, clips of Chechen rebels being decapitated and the dismembering of children's corpses.
Read (or listen to) the final speech Sannikov gave before the verdict.
Read the rest
Holy crap, it's the end of days: the things coming out of John McCain's mouth are making sense to me. The Republican senator from Arizona has an eloquent op-ed in the Washington Post today,
which had me fist-pumping the air all the way down:
Osama bin Laden's welcome death has ignited debate over whether the so-called enhanced interrogation techniques used on enemy prisoners were instrumental in locating bin Laden, and whether they are a justifiable means for gathering intelligence.
Much of this debate is a definitional one: whether any or all of these methods constitute torture. I believe some of them do, especially waterboarding, which is a mock execution and thus an exquisite form of torture. As such, they are prohibited by American laws and values, and I oppose them.
A growing number of ex-Peace Corps volunteers are speaking out via blogs and in news interviews about having survived rape and other forms of sexual assault while assigned overseas. They say the agency ignored their concerns for safety or requests for relocation, and tried to blame rape victims for their attacks. Their stories, and support from families and advocates, are drawing attention from lawmakers and promises of reform from the agency.
One of the women whose story is receiving renewed attention is Kate Puzey (shown in the photo at left). The Peace Corps volunteer was murdered in Benin, apparently by a contractor for the agency she was attempting to anonymously report for the rape of girls at the village school. As I blogged in 2009, I was in Benin, pretty close to that village, the same day she was killed. I remember our local friends from that region expressing horror and sadness at her murder. But we didn't know the backstory yet. More on her case follows.
The Peace Corps 2010 budget: $400 million, government funding, your tax dollars at work. The current director today apologized for the agency's poor response to victims, and specifically the Puzey case.
First: In today's New York Times, an article about the volunteers who are speaking out on sexual assault:
In going public, they are exposing an ugly sliver of life in the Peace Corps: the dangers that volunteers face in far-flung corners of the world and the inconsistent -- and, some say, callous -- treatment they receive when they become crime victims.
From 2000 to 2009, an average of 22 Peace Corps women each year reported being the victims of rape or attempted rape, according to the agency's own records. During that period a total of over 1,000 volunteers reported sexual assaults, including 221 rapes or attempted rapes.
Read the rest
[iPhone snapshot above: Xeni Jardin; illustration inset, Shepard Fairey.]
His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, was in Long Beach, California this morning to accept the inaugural edition of a "Shine a Light on Human Rights" award from Amnesty International.Read the rest
"There are a lot of women who experience these kinds of things as journalists and they don't want it to stop their job because they do it for the same reasons as me - they are committed to what they do. They are not adrenaline junkies you know, they're not glory hounds, they do it because they believe in being journalists."—Lara Logan, speaking for the first time about the sexual assault she survived while covering the popular uprising in Egypt. (CBS News)
The Daily Telegraph
this week published 759 of the leaked Guantánamo files from WikiLeaks, which had not been redacted. One document they published today "includes the full name of a boy detained at Guantánamo
who, according to the file, was raped at the age of 15, just prior to being transferred to the camp."
The boy was never charged with any crime. US forces captured him in Afghanistan just days after he'd reportedly been sexually assaulted and kidnapped by a group of 11 Afghan men, in a village near his family's home. The US military brought the boy to Guantánamo Bay as a prisoner "because of his possible knowledge of Taliban resistance efforts and local leaders." They held him as a prisoner there for more than a year, despite knowing he was innocent.
The Telegraph seems to take the same position as Wikileaks: the public has a right to know the fullest array of facts exposing the horror and human rights abuses at Gitmo. Other publications, like the Guardian (which was not a direct recipient from Wikileaks, after finding itself more or less at odds with Julian Assange) published the boy's Guantánamo file, but blacked out details of his sexual assault. More at journalism.co.uk.
(Via Greg Mitchell at The Nation)
Click for large. In this file photo from 2007, Tibetan monks debate Buddhist philosophy at the Kirti Monastary. (REUTERS/Reinhard Krause)
Today, the government of China for the first time confirmed a crackdown by authorities at Kirti monastery (Kirti Gompa) in Sichuan province, but would not comment on reports by human rights groups that two monks at the monastery were murdered by armed government agents. Some 2,500 monks live at the monastery. Founded in 1472, it is considered a very important site in Tibetan Buddhism.
"In recent days, a small number of monks in Kirti Monastery in Aba county, Sichuan have disrupted social order and disobeyed Tibetan Buddhist rules," foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei told reporters. They have "disrupted local normal order, defamed the image of Tibetan Buddhism and harmed the feelings of Buddhist followers."
According to the US-based International Campaign for Tibet, unrest in the Chinese region erupted in March when a young monk set himself on fire and died in an apparent anti-government protest. On Thursday last week, paramilitary police raided the monastery and took away more than 300 monks. Authorities also started a re-education programme at Kirti, the group said.
Police also beat a group of laypeople who had been standing vigil outside the monastery, leading to the deaths of two Tibetans aged in their sixties, ICT said. "People had their arms and legs broken, one old woman had her leg broken in three places, and cloth was stuffed in their mouths to stifle their screams," an exiled Kirti monk was quoted as saying by the rights group.
Read the full item by Agence-France Presse.
Earlier this month, China placed the monastery on lockdown after a young monk committed suicide by setting himself on fire on March 16 to protest Chinese policies in areas with high Tibetan populations (NYT). That same week, a China Foreign Ministry spokesman described interactions between the Kirti monks and police as "harmonious." (BBC)
Read the rest
Above: One of the items identified as notes produced by the infamous Dr. Bruce Jessen, a psychologist whose work was used to design the so-called "Enhanced interrogation techniques Program," which amounted to torture of "war on terror" detainees in custody of the CIA and Department of Defense. Truth-out.org published these a few weeks ago, but the Wikileaks dump of secret US documents on Guantánamo provide good reason to revisit. Dr. Jessen created this work as part of a US Air Force Survival Training study. You can download his handwritten and typed notes here in PDF, and a portion here in .zip.
This item in the Guardian's coverage of the latest Wikileaks dump is not the first time I've heard that the Casio F-91W digital watch is thought to be "the sign of al-Qaida," and "a contributing factor to continued detention of prisoners by the analysts stationed at Guantánamo Bay."
But like so much revealed by Wikileaks, when stuff like this is proven out in the State Department's own pen, the absurdity levels really spike:
Briefing documents used to train staff in assessing the threat level of new detainees advise that possession of the F-91W - available online for as little as £4 - suggests the wearer has been trained in bomb making by al-Qaida in Afghanistan.
The report states: "The Casio was known to be given to the students at al-Qaida bomb-making training courses in Afghanistan at which the students received instruction in the preparation of timing devices using the watch.
Actually, we've blogged about 'em right here at Boing Boing! Wait, twice! No, three times at least! Hello, Cuba.
Next: a global movement to show solidarity with detainees by wearing the F-91W?
Guantánamo Bay files: Casio wristwatch 'the sign of al-Qaida' (guardian.co.uk)
Liu Xiaoyuan, the human rights lawyer associated with the recently-"disappeared" artist Ai Weiwei, today tweeted that he is back in Beijing
. The attorney had gone missing for the five previous days. "He told the Guardian he was fine but did not want to give any more details of what had happened." Ai Weiwei remains missing.