Friday, October 31, 2014

Senate and AP demand disclosure of all cases where FBI posed as media

​Evidence that the FBI hacked a teenage suspect’s computer by sending spyware disguised as a link to a news report has prompted a prominent politician and the Associated Press to both ask the attorney general for an explanation.

Documents unearthed this week revealed that the FBI compromised the computer of a 15-year-old student in 2007 in an effort to positively identify the person thought responsible for sending bomb threats to a Washington state high school. Yet while questions were quickly raised after that revelation about the ethics involved in letting federal investigators conduct full-fledged hacking, how exactly the FBI installed spyware on their target’s computer — by sending the suspect a link disguised to look like an AP article published by the Seattle Times — has now alarmed not only the news wire, but a leading lawmaker in Washington.

Only days after details of the 2007 operation were disclosed this week, the AP and Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, both sent letters to Attorney General Eric Holder on Thursday expressing their concern over the FBI’s conduct.

“When law enforcement appropriates the identity of legitimate media institutions, it not only raises questions of copyright and trademark infringement but also potentially undermines the integrity and credibility of an independent press,” Leahy wrote in his letter to Holder.

"The FBI both misappropriated the trusted name of The Associated Press and created a situation where our credibility could have been undermined on a large scale," AP General Counsel Karen Kaiser wrote in the newswire’s letter. "The FBI may have intended this false story as a trap for only one person. However, the individual could easily have reposted this story to social networks, distributing to thousands of people, under our name, what was essentially a piece of government disinformation."



AP to DOJ: FBI's fabrication of news story undermined fundamental component of a free press

Facebook Scrubs Well Known Reporter’s Timeline

Eight years ago when Patti Beers joined Facebook she had no idea it would become her central link to thousands of friends.

A fan of MySpace, Beers looked for something more interactive and discovered Facebook social media was sweeping the internet. She found friends she hadn’t heard from in years and was able to connect her family in one place via Facebook.

When the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) encampments sprung up in New York City and around the country during the Fall 2011, Facebook became a natural fit for discussing views of world change, sharing ideas and organizing events. Eventually Beers began reporting on OWS protests and live-streamed events using the service UStream and had announced such live events through Facebook.

Then last week when she logged on to Facebook her timeline was ominously replaced with a message: “It looks like you’re using your timeline to represent an organization, business, brand, or public figure…we recommend converting your timeline to a Facebook page.”

She was unable to access any information on her timeline. Facebook messaged her but left no option but to convert her timeline to a “fan page.” Gone were her photos and direct access to her family and friends. Countless hours of her communications were swept away in a click: her family history, photos and chats disappeared into a Orwellian memory hole.


17 #NotARedskin Tweets Every American Needs to See

The news: On Oct. 24, the Red Circle Agency partnered with the National Coalition Against Racism in Sports and Media (NCARSM) and uploaded a powerful video statement to YouTube, the Huffington Post reports.

The 30-second clip, titled "No Honor in Racism," illustrates the absurdity of sanctioning the term "redskin" — whether in casual speech or as the name of a multimillion-dollar sports franchise — while slurs like "nigger," "gook" and "kyke" are shunned and censored.
It's an important message in light of recent debates around the appropriation of Native American culture and iconography. But outlining the real-life extent of the damage is just as key to understanding the problem.

Enter #NotARedskin, a hashtag launched on Twitter by Native rapper and activist Frank Waln on Oct. 28.



Justice Department Reaches Agreement with the City of Albuquerque to Implement Sweeping Reforms On Use of Force By the Albuquerque Police Department

Department of Justice
Office of Public Affairs

Friday, October 31, 2014
Justice Department Reaches Agreement with the City of Albuquerque to Implement Sweeping Reforms On Use of Force By the Albuquerque Police Department

The Justice Department today announced it has reached a comprehensive settlement agreement with the city of Albuquerque that will bring wide-ranging reforms to the Albuquerque Police Department (APD) and its use of force against civilians.  The Justice Department and the city have agreed to enter into a court-enforceable settlement agreement that will overhaul the way in which APD handles use of force by its officers following a year-long investigation into the department’s practices and letter of findings released by the Justice Department in April 2014.  Once the Albuquerque City Council considers the settlement agreement in a special session scheduled for the week of Nov. 3, the Justice Department and the city will file the settlement agreement with the United States District Court for approval and entry as an order.

"The overwhelming majority of our nation’s law enforcement officials perform their duties with exceptional courage, integrity, and professionalism—risking their lives every day to keep their communities safe,” said Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr.  “But whenever a pattern of troubling conduct is uncovered, or that high standard is not met, the Department of Justice must and will take action.  The far-reaching agreement we have secured in this case will transform the culture and practices of the Albuquerque Police Department.  And I am confident that, with the cooperation of city leaders and brave law enforcement officials, we will take significant steps to restore trust with local citizens and build for Albuquerque’s residents the stronger, safer, and more secure communities that all Americans deserve.“

In addition to use of force practices, The Justice Department’s investigation found that officers routinely use deadly force and less lethal force in an unreasonable manner and that systemic deficiencies in policies, training, supervision, and oversight contributed to the pattern or practice.  Following the release of the investigative findings, the Justice Department engaged in extensive community outreach to solicit feedback and recommendations on reform from a wide variety of stakeholders, including police officers, community leaders, mental health advocates, family members, and other Albuquerque residents.  The feedback played a critical role in tailoring the settlement agreement to the unique needs of the Albuquerque community and APD.

“Today’s landmark settlement agreement will begin the process of restoring trust and cooperation between the Albuquerque community and law enforcement,” said Vanita Gupta, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division.

 “Constitutional policing is key to building trust between police departments and the communities they serve, and trust is of course key to ensuring public and officer safety.  The settlement agreement provides a blue print for sustainable reform that will foster continued collaboration and participation from the community.  We thank Mayor Berry, Chief Eden, and all of the individuals who came forward to share their experiences concerning APD to make this historic settlement agreement possible.”

“We are extremely proud of our community and police department for coming together in a time of serious challenges to the city to offer their advice and recommendations on a path forward,” said Damon P. Martinez, United States Attorney for the District of New Mexico.  “Reform will not take place overnight and it will take time to heal our community, but we are well on our way.  Through the settlement agreement reached today, the city agrees to implement fundamental reforms in a transparent manner that will ensure that force is used in accordance with constitutional rights and that promotes greater trust among the hard working men and women of the Albuquerque Police Department and the residents they are sworn to protect.”

Under the settlement agreement, the city and APD will implement comprehensive reforms in nine substantive areas.  An independent monitoring team will be selected jointly and will oversee the reforms, which are expected to be implemented within four years.  The areas covered by the settlement agreement are:
  • Use of force: including requiring supervisors to report to the scene of uses of force; providing medical care to subjects of force immediately after an incident; improving the quality of force investigations; developing a force review board to detect and correct patterns and trends, and utilizing surrounding law enforcement agencies as part of a multi-agency task force to investigate officer-involves shootings to provide greater objectivity and accountability;
  • Specialized units: including measures that require clearly defined missions and duties for specialized tactical and investigative units; ensuring that officers are sufficiently trained to save lives in high-risk situations; and dismantling APD’s repeat offender project to restore its core mission as an investigative, rather than tactical, unit;
  • Crisis intervention: including establishing a mental health response advisory committee; providing behavioral health training to all officers, police dispatchers, and 9-1-1 operators; and maintaining groups of specially-trained first responders, detectives, and mental health professionals that provide crisis intervention and ongoing support to individuals with serious mental illness or who are chronically homeless;
  • Policies and training: including developing clear and comprehensive policies on use of force, preventing retaliation, supporting officers who report misconduct, and improving the field training program to ensure that officers develop the necessary technical and practical skills required to use force in a lawful and effective manner;
  • Internal and civilian complaint investigations: including measures to eliminate arbitrary deadlines for the submission of civilian complaints; standards for conducting objective, thorough, and timely investigations; steps to ensure that the disciplinary system is fair and consistent; and protocols to protect officers’ rights against self-incrimination;
  • Staffing and supervision: including completing a staffing and resource study to determine the appropriate allocation of resources; holding supervisors accountable for close and effective supervision; and providing guidance on the effective use of on-body recording systems to promote accountability and strengthen public trust;
  • Recruitment and promotions: including developing a strategic recruitment plan that includes clear goals, objectives, and action steps for attracting qualified applicants from a broad cross section of the community and ensuring that fair and consistent promotion practices are implemented;
  • Officer assistance and support: including measures to ensure that APD personnel have ready access to mental health services and that supervisors are trained in making referrals in a manner that minimizes stigma; and
  • Community engagement and oversight: including measures to strengthen the city’s civilian oversight process; public information programs that keep members of the public informed of APD’s progress toward reform; requirements on fostering community policing at all levels of APD; and establishing community policing councils throughout the city to ensure that meaningful feedback is obtained from the community.
The independent monitoring team will oversee the implementation of reforms, provide technical assistance, and report on the city’s compliance through periodic and public reports.  The monitoring team will have access to all documents, personnel, facilities and information related to the settlement agreement and will engage with officers and community members on an ongoing basis.  The monitoring team will also be responsible for conducting outcome assessments to determine whether the goals of the settlement agreement are being met through compliance indicators and objective measures.  The settlement agreement requires two years of sustained compliance with the agreement before the agreement may be terminated.

For more information on the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, please visit  For more information about the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of New Mexico, please visit

‘First Bite’

This animated vampire tale is based on an original 18th Century written account from the Balkans.
Video by Drew Christie on Publish Date October 30, 2014. 

Happy Halloween!!!                           

FCC Ready To Compromise On Net Neutrality

Now Is The Time To Take Action To Save The Internet: Here’s The Plan

This is it. The FCC is finalizing its net neutrality proposal right now and it’s still not clear whether they’ll listen to the public or try to push a fake plan that leaves the door open for cable company censorship and abuse.
We have the next few weeks to show President Obama, the FCC, and the world that people who care about the Internet will accept nothing less than lasting net neutrality through Title II reclassification.

 We won’t back down. We won’t be silent. We won’t be fooled.

No Compromise – Full Reclassification

Here is how we are going to win Net Neutrality

1. Join the Emergency Mobilization on Thursday, November 6 at the White House in Washington, DC. We’ll meet at Lafayette Park at 6 PM. Bring your cell phone.
Over the past week in Hungary, when the government announced a steep tax on the Internet, the people rose up by the thousands and protested by holding their lit cell phones in the air. When the government announced a compromise, the people said no and came out by the tens of thousands to protest.
Take Action In Your City, Community, School. If you can’t make it to DC, then hold a cell phone protest at an FCC office near you or at one of the Giant Telecoms or in your town square or campus quad. Tweet photos of your protest using #NoCompromise. We need to show a national revolt to protect the future of the Internet.
2. Call the FCC. Our partner, Fight for the Future, is organizing a tidal wave of phone calls to  the FCC every day and it’s working. It only takes a few minutes. Click here for more details. Swamp the FCC with calls, show them the future of the Internet is something we take seriously.
3. Show that #OurVoicesMatter. Recent events, like police abuse all across the country, especially in Ferguson, MO, and the brutal militarized police response when the communities protested, were made more visible because of social media. Research by Pew shows that “Overall, 73% of African American internet users—and 96% of those ages 18-29—use a social networking site of some kind.” But the NAACP, funded by AT&T, came out on the wrong side of net neutrality. We need to counteract that by showing that people of all colors deserve to be seen and heard. The citizens media provides a counterbalance to the corporate media, don’t let the FCC take that away.
Send us a photo or video of you holding a sign that says “#OurVoicesMatter, No Compromise on Title II.” We’ll send it to the FCC and post it on our new webpage (coming soon). Send photos to
It’s that easy – 1, 2, 3 – and we can save the Internet!

This campaign is going to be escalating so watch for more information on Popular Resistance and sign the pledge to receive updates.

Equal access to the Internet without discrimination impacts every issue we work on.

Join us to ensure Internet freedom.

Mexico Is Looking For 43 Missing Students. What Has Been Found Is Truly Terrifying

After a student protest in Iguala, Mexico, last month, dozens of young men were seen being hauled off into police vans. Then, they vanished.

One month later, 43 students from the Ayotzinapa rural teachers college are still missing and presumed dead. Instead of finding the students, authorities investigating the events of Sept. 26 have instead found other horrors: a string of mass graves, police working for drug cartels and government officials at the helm of a dark underworld.

The hunt for the students has laid bare the brutality and lawlessness in parts of Mexico still under the grip of the cartels, despite years of Mexico’s war on drugs.

Read more findings:

Israeli cargo ship cancels docking at Oakland Port

Palestine solidarity movement mobilizes to “block the boat”

A significant step forward in the struggle against Israeli apartheid was taken this weekend in the San Francisco Bay Area. For the third time in less than three months, an Israeli cargo ship owned by the ZIM shipping company was prevented from unloading its cargo as scheduled.

The ZIM Beijing ship was scheduled to dock at the Port of Oakland on Oct. 25 but never showed up. The Beijing passed through the Panama Canal, turned north on course for the Port of Oakland and then after a few days traveling towards Oakland veered west on its way to destinations elsewhere.

Prepared to meet the ship at the Port of Oakland was a “welcoming” party of Palestine solidarity activists organized by the Block the Boat coalition. The Block the Boat coalition, comprised of Palestinian, Arab and pro-Palestinian activists and organizations, was formed earlier this year to highlight the role the Port of Oakland plays as an entry point for goods being shipped by the Zionist ZIM corporation. Amongst the array of goods carried by ZIM ships are materiel for local police forces in the United States.

Once it became clear over the weekend  that the ship was not arriving on or near the schedule, the coalition organized a rally and march on Oct. 26 to the port to let ZIM know what they can expect if they try to come back.

The success of the Oct. 25 mobilization comes two months after the BTB coalition organized a historic action against the ZIM Piraeus. The ship tried to dock on Aug. 16, but was prevented from unloading for four days and ultimately little if any cargo was handled.

The BTB coalition issued a press release on October 29, which read in part, “Pro-Palestinian activists in the Bay Area achieved a decisive victory over the Israeli-owned ZIM Integrated Shipping Services this past weekend. As part of a sustained organizing effort to protest Israel’s ongoing occupation and apartheid against the Palestinian people, organizers deterred the container ship ZIM Beijing from docking at the Port of Oakland.

“Members of ILWU Local 10, the union which represents dock workers at the Port of Oakland, informed BTB organizers that the ZIM Beijing has been rerouted to Russia 'to avoid disruptions at the SSA Terminal,' according to a statement by BTB. The ZIM Beijing was originally scheduled to arrive and unload its cargo at the Port of Oakland on October 25, but changed course to avoid protests that had been planned by BTB.”
In an unprecedented development, ZIM has no ships scheduled to dock at the Port of Oakland.

Oakland activists see this retreat as a victory for Palestine, and are hopeful that they have staved off ZIM for good. “This effort of Block the Boat, the Palestinian and Arab communities, and allies has truly revealed our collective power against Zionism,” says Sameh Ayesh of Arab Youth Organizing. “ZIM is the largest shipping company in Israel, and the 10th largest in the world; it is now clear to ZIM that our communities in the Bay Area will not welcome it or any other business that supports Israeli occupation and apartheid.”

The solidarity of the port workers, who have historically stood against injustice, including refusing to unload cargo carried by ships flying the racist South African apartheid flag, has been an important component of this effort. The resistance in Palestine is intensifying, and so too must our solidarity all around the world.


Edward Snowden and the Golden Age of Spying

Here’s a Ripley’s Believe It or Not! stat from our new age of national security. How many Americans have security clearances? The answer: 5.1 million, a figure that reflects the explosive growth of the national security state in the post-9/11 era. Imagine the kind of system needed just to vet that many people for access to our secret world (to the tune of billions of dollars). We’re talking here about the total population of Norway and significantly more people than you can find in Costa Rica, Ireland, or New Zealand. And yet it’s only about 1.6% of the American population, while on ever more matters, the unvetted 98.4% of us are meant to be left in the dark.
For our own safety, of course. That goes without saying.

All of this offers a new definition of democracy in which we, the people, are to know only what the national security state cares to tell us.  Under this system, ignorance is the necessary, legally enforced prerequisite for feeling protected.  In this sense, it is telling that the only crime for which those inside the national security state can be held accountable in post-9/11 Washington is not potential perjury before Congress, or the destruction of evidence of a crime, or torture, or kidnapping, or assassination, or the deaths of prisoners in an extralegal prison system, but whistleblowing; that is, telling the American people something about what their government is actually doing.  And that crime, and only that crime, has been prosecuted to the full extent of the law (and beyond) with a vigor unmatched in American history.  To offer a single example, the only American to go to jail for the CIA’s Bush-era torture program was John Kiriakou, a CIA whistleblower who revealed the name of an agent involved in the program to a reporter.

In these years, as power drained from Congress, an increasingly imperial White House has launched various wars (redefined by its lawyers as anything but), as well as a global assassination campaign in which the White House has its own “kill list” and the president himself decides on global hits.  Then, without regard for national sovereignty or the fact that someone is an American citizen (and upon the secret invocation of legal mumbo-jumbo), the drones are sent off to do the necessary killing.

And yet that doesn’t mean that we, the people, know nothing.  Against increasing odds, there has been some fine reporting in the mainstream media by the likes of James Risen and Barton Gellman on the security state’s post-legal activities and above all, despite the Obama administration’s regular use of the World War I era Espionage Act, whistleblowers have stepped forward from within the government to offer us sometimes staggering amounts of information about the system that has been set up in our name but without our knowledge.

Among them, one young man, whose name is now known worldwide, stands out.  In June of last year, thanks to journalist Glenn Greenwald and filmmaker Laura Poitras, Edward Snowden, a contractor for the NSA and previously the CIA, stepped into our lives from a hotel room in Hong Kong.  With a treasure trove of documents that are still being released, he changed the way just about all of us view our world.  He has been charged under the Espionage Act.  If indeed he was a “spy,” then the spying he did was for us, for the American people and for the world.  What he revealed to a stunned planet was a global surveillance state whose reach and ambitions were unique, a system based on a single premise: that privacy was no more and that no one was, in theory (and to a remarkable extent in practice), unsurveillable.

Its builders imagined only one exemption: themselves.  This was undoubtedly at least part of the reason why, when Snowden let us peek in on them, they reacted with such over-the-top venom.  Whatever they felt at a policy level, it’s clear that they also felt violated, something that, as far as we can tell, left them with no empathy whatsoever for the rest of us.  One thing that Snowden proved, however, was that the system they built was ready-made for blowback.

Sixteen months after his NSA documents began to be released by the Guardian and the Washington Post, I think it may be possible to speak of the Snowden Era.  And now, a remarkable new film, Citizenfour, which had its premiere at the New York Film Festival on October 10th and will open in select theaters nationwide on October 24th, offers us a window into just how it all happened.  It is already being mentioned as a possible Oscar winner.

Director Laura Poitras, like reporter Glenn Greenwald, is now known almost as widely as Snowden himself, for helping facilitate his entry into the world.  Her new film, the last in a trilogy she’s completed (the previous two being My Country, My Country on the Iraq War and The Oath on Guantanamo), takes you back to June 2013 and locks you in that Hong Kong hotel room with Snowden, Greenwald, Ewen MacAskill of the Guardian, and Poitras herself for eight days that changed the world.  It’s a riveting, surprisingly unclaustrophic, and unforgettable experience.

Before that moment, we were quite literally in the dark.  After it, we have a better sense, at least, of the nature of the darkness that envelops us. Having seen her film in a packed house at the New York Film Festival, I sat down with Poitras in a tiny conference room at the Loews Regency Hotel in New York City to discuss just how our world has changed and her part in it.