April 25, 2015

Day 115






COMMUNITY RADIO DIRECTOR GUNNED DOWN IN OAXACA STATE

As originally posted: Reporters Without Borders
April 20, 2015


Reporters Without Borders condemns the murder of a community radio station director on 14 April in the south of Mexico, the western hemisphere’s deadliest country for journalists.

The victim was Abel Manuel Bautista Raymundo, founder and director of Radio Espacio 96.1 FM in Juxtlahuaca (in Oaxaca state) and president of the Vara 7 Association of Community Radio Stations.

According to the information obtained by Reporters Without Borders, Bautista had just driven away from the radio station when he was intercepted and shot by three individuals in a car.

The motive for his murder is not yet known. In 2012, friends of Bautista mentioned a person “envious” of his success in a song without going into any detail.

A local contact told Reporters Without Borders that the authorities raided several community radio stations in the area on 17 April, confiscating broadcasting equipment. In Mexico, community radio stations often lack legal broadcast frequencies, which exposes them to repeated harassment by the authorities.

We condemn this murder and call on both the federal and Oaxaca state authorities to conduct an independent, impartial and thorough investigation that does not rule out a possible connection to the victim’s work as a journalist,” said Claire San Filippo, the head of the Reporters Without Borders Americas desk.

“The priority for the authorities should be solving this murder instead of persecuting the region’s community radio stations. The situation for media personnel in Mexico will continue to be disastrous as long as the police and judicial authorities fail to do their work and crimes of violence against journalists remain unpunished.

Human rights defenders and community media journalists are often the targets of violence in Oaxaca state, a region where social conflicts between indigenous communities and local authorities are frequent and criminal organizations traffic in locally produced drugs.

After Radio Mixteca was the target of an attack in 2009, its director, Melchor López Rendón, blamed municipal officials for the death threats that had been made against him. Radio station owner Jorge Alberto Vera Carrizal’s’s body was found in February 2013, two moths after he was abducted. His murder is still unsolved two years later.

Mexico is ranked 148th out of 180 countries in the 2015 Reporters Without Borders press freedom index.

April 23, 2015

Day 113





Rapid Rise in Super PACs Dominated by Single Donors

Super PACS that get nearly all of their money from one donor quadrupled their share of overall fund-raising in 2014.

by Robert Faturechi and Jonathan Stray

As originally posted on: ProPublica
April 20, 2015


The wealthiest Americans can fly on their own jets, live in gated compounds and watch movies in their own theaters.

More of them also are walling off their political contributions from other big and small players.

A growing number of political committees known as super PACs have become instruments of single donors, according to a ProPublica analysis of federal records. During the 2014 election cycle, $113 million – 16 percent of money raised by all super PACs – went to committees dominated by one donor. That was quadruple their 2012 share.

The rise of single-donor groups is a new example of how changes in campaign finance law are giving outsized influence to a handful of funders.

The trend may continue into 2016. Last week, National Review reported that Texas Senator Ted Cruz’s bid for the Republican presidential nomination would be boosted not by one anointed super PAC but four, each controlled by a single donor or donor family.

The Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United ruling helped usher in the era of super PACs. Unlike traditional political action committees, the independent groups can accept donations of any dollar size as long as they don’t coordinate with the campaign of any candidate. Previously, much of the focus in big-money fundraising was on “bundlers” -- volunteers who tap friends and associates for maximum individual contributions of $5,400 to a candidate, then deliver big lump sums directly to the campaigns. Former president George W. Bush awarded his most prolific bundlers special titles such as “Ranger” and “Pioneer.”

While bundling intensified the impact of wealthy donors on campaigns, the dollar limits and the need to join with others diluted the influence of any one person. With a super PAC, a donor can single-handedly push a narrower agenda. Last year, National Journal profiled one such donor – a California vineyard owner who helped start the trend by launching his own super PAC and becoming a power player in a Senate race across the country.

Beyond the single-donor groups, big donations are dominant across all kinds of super PACs, according to the analysis. Six-figure contributions from individuals or organizations accounted for almost 50 percent of all super PAC money raised during the last two cycles.

“We are anointing an aristocracy that’s getting a stronger and stronger grip on democracy,” said Miles Rapoport, president of Common Cause, an advocacy group that seeks to reduce the influence of money on politics.





ProPublica’s analysis identified 59 super PACs that received at least 80 percent of their funding from one individual during the 2014 cycle. They raised a total of $113 million, compared with the $33 million raised by the 34 such groups that existed in 2012.

Donors who launch their own PACs are seeking more control over how their money is spent. And many have complained about the commissions that fundraising consultants take off the top of their donations to outside groups. But the move carries risks if the patron is new to the arena.

In one cautionary tale, a reclusive 89-year-old Texas oilman with no political experience launched Vote2ReduceDebt, one of the nation’s highest-spending conservative super PACs. A ProPublica investigation found that much of the donor’s millions went to entities run by the group’s consultants or their close associates. The super PAC imploded as principals traded allegations including self-dealing, faked campaign events and a plot to siphon the PAC’s money to a reality TV show.

Bill Burton, a former Obama administration official who helped found Priorities USA, the juggernaut super PAC affiliated with the president’s reelection campaign, said he expects donors to face more problems if they continue to go it alone.

“One of two things is going to happen,” he said. “We will either see widespread flaunting of coordination rules or we will see some pretty spectacular failures to the tune of millions of dollars.”

The single-donor super PACs identified by ProPublica span the political spectrum. Among the top conservative donors were Richard Uihlein, a packaging supplies businessman, and casino magnate Sheldon Adelson. Former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg spent heavily on both sides but leaned Democrat. Hedge fund titan Tom Steyer dominated on the left.

In 2012 the largest single-donor super PAC was former TD Ameritrade CEO Joe Ricketts’ Ending Spending Action Fund, which raised over $14 million, 89 percent of which came from Ricketts. It was the ninth-largest super PAC by spending. In 2014 Steyer’s Nextgen Climate Action was the largest super PAC, raising almost $78 million, 85 percent from Steyer. (Steyer’s wife, Kat Taylor, is a member of ProPublica’s board of directors, and the couple has donated to ProPublica.)

In addition to the super PACs dominated by a single individual, dozens more received the great majority of their funding from one corporation, labor group or advocacy organization. In 2014, those PACs represented 8.6 percent of super-PAC fundraising.

PACs dominated by one donor could run afoul of disclosure laws, according to Larry Noble, the former top lawyer for the Federal Election Commission. Under the rules, political ads must include disclosures about who funded them. Noble said election law would require groups funded by one person to list that donor’s name, not just the name of the PAC – though he couldn’t recall the FEC addressing such a case.

Naming the super PAC instead of the donor in the ad, Noble said, also allows the groups to delay disclosing where their money comes from until the next FEC filing date – potentially weeks after the ad runs.

“It defeats the purpose of the law to allow someone to hide behind a super PAC if they are the only funder,” Noble said.

“They want to make it more authoritative, like there’s more support. It looks better to say the ad is from Americans for Good Government than from John Smith… That just makes a mockery of the law.”

Help us investigate: Have a tip about campaign finance? Email robert.faturechi@propublica.org.

Related stories: For more coverage of campaign finance, read ProPublica’s previous reporting on Super PAC Men, secret donors and gaps in campaign finance rules.

April 22, 2015

Day 112






KOCHS DEFEND PURCHASE OF SCOTT WALKER

by Andy Borowitz

As originally posted on: The Borowitz Report
April 21, 2015


NEW YORK (The Borowitz Report)—Koch Industries is defending its acquisition of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker against charges that it overpaid for the Midwestern politician.

After co-owner David Koch revealed that Walker had become a wholly owned subsidiary of Koch Industries, he set off a firestorm of criticism that the company had spent too much for a worthless asset.

“There was absolutely no bidding war for Walker,” an industry analyst familiar with the market value of politicians said. “Even Sheldon Adelson had no interest in acquiring him.”





While Koch Industries did not disclose the purchase price of the Walker subsidiary, it said that Koch Industries would spend nine hundred million dollars between now and November, 2016, for a variety of upgrades to the Wisconsin governor.

In a terse statement, Koch Industries argued, “Scott Walker is a perfect fit with our diversified portfolio of elected officials,” but indicated that, if Walker underperforms, the company would be open to selling him at a later date.

April 21, 2015

Day 111






Average worker must work 127.7 years for 1 year of CEO pay

by Sue Chang

As originally posted: MarketWatch
April 15, 2015


While the average American is living from paycheck to paycheck, the executives in the C-suite are taking home millions in wages and compensation, highlighting the widening income disparity in the U.S.

The average pay of chief executive officers working for the largest 3,000 companies in the U.S. climbed to $6.4 million in 2014 from
$5.5 million in the previous year while the median CEO pay jumped 12.7% on the strength of higher pensions, according to data from ISS Corporate Solutions.

“These numbers provide a likely forecast for CEO pay trends and numbers we’ll see over the course of 2015 U.S. annual meeting season,” said John Roe, head of advisory with ISS.

Wages and salaries rose around 3% for most Americans workers in 2014, according to recent data.

In 2013, the latest year for which the Social Security Administration posted data for, average wages in America rose a mere 1.3% to $43,041 from $42.498 in 2012—meaning an average worker must work roughly 127.7 years to make the same kind of money that a CEO does.

By geography, CEOs in the Connecticut area saw the largest median pay increase at 38.7% compared with Denver-area CEOs who got a 2.3% hike.

CEOs in the San Francisco Bay Area got a 19.5% raise, followed by CEOs in the Washington, D.C. area at 15.4%. Ninety-eight New York-based corporations gave their CEOs a median pay raise of 12.3%, based on filings submitted.

The data, while not surprising, underscores the reality of how one of the richest countries in the world trails other nations in wealth distribution. The U.S.’s Gini coefficient—often used to measure income equality—was 41.1 in 2011, behind countries like Madagascar and Greece. Zero reflects perfect equality, and 100 represents perfect inequality.

April 20, 2015

Day 110





U.S. judge won't remove marijuana from most-dangerous drug list

by Maura Dolan

As originally posted: Los Angeles Times
April 15, 2015


Efforts to legalize marijuana suffered a defeat in court Wednesday when a judge upheld the constitutionality of a 1970 federal law that classifies cannabis as a dangerous drug akin to LSD and heroin.

U.S. District Judge Kimberly J. Mueller, announcing her decision at a hearing in Sacramento, said she could not lightly overturn a law passed by Congress.

Mueller agreed last year to hold an extensive fact-finding hearing on the issue, raising the hopes of activists seeking to legalize marijuana and worrying opponents who consider the drug a threat to health and public safety. The hearing marked the first time in decades that a judge was willing to examine the classification of marijuana under the 1970 Controlled Substances Act.

The Schedule 1 classification is for drugs that have no medicinal purpose, are unsafe even under medical supervision and contain a high potential for abuse. In addition to marijuana, heroin and LSD, other Schedule 1 drugs include Ecstasy and mescaline.

Mueller, an Obama appointee, announced her decision before issuing a written ruling, which is still pending. She considered the constitutionality of the classification in response to a pretrial motion brought by lawyers defending accused marijuana growers.

“At some point in time, a court may decide this status to be unconstitutional,” Mueller was quoted as saying on leafonline.com, a pro-marijuana blog that has been covering the case. “But this is not the court and not the time.”





Dale Gieringer, director of the California branch of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, said Mueller’s decision could not be appealed until after the criminal case against the growers was resolved. A trial is not expected until late this year or early next year.

“This is on a very slow train,” Gieringer said.

He said Mueller remarked that much has changed since marijuana’s classification but “a lower court judge has to follow the law.” He said last year’s hearing “showed the dysfunctionality of the current drug laws.”

Because of marijuana's Schedule 1 status, federal restrictions make it difficult for researchers to obtain legal cannabis for study, advocates say.

NORML praised Mueller for “having the courage to hear this issue and provide it the careful consideration it deserves.”

“While we are disappointed with this ruling, it changes little,” said Paul Armentano, NORML’s deputy director. “We always felt this had to ultimately be decided by the 9th Circuit and we have an unprecedented record for the court to consider.”

Scott Chipman, Southern California chairman of a Citizens Against Legalizing Marijuana, said he was pleased with the ruling but
found it “disturbing” that Mueller had even conducted a fact-finding hearing on the issue.

“There is a false sense that marijuana legalization is on the move, when we are seeing a huge pushback against legalization, particularly in small towns across the country,” Chipman said. “It is a seriously harmful drug that is much stronger than it was in the ’70s and is getting stronger by the month.”

U.S. Atty. Benjamin B. Wagner, whose office is prosecuting the marijuana growers, said he was pleased with Mueller’s decision.

The question before the judge, he said, “was not whether marijuana should be legalized for medical or recreational use, but whether decisions concerning the status of marijuana under federal law should properly be made in accordance with the science-based scheduling process set forth in the Controlled Substances Act passed by Congress.”

Twitter: @mauradolan

April 19, 2015

Day 109






Slaughter on the beach: ISIS behead and shoot Ethiopian Christians in sickening new propaganda video

Video seems to show militants in Libya holding one group of at least 16 captive on a beach and 12 others in a desert

Before the killings a masked fighter in black brandishes a pistol as he vows to kill Christians if they do not convert

Ethiopia unable to confirm its citizens were killed by militants in the footage but condemned the 'atrocious act'

It comes two months after 21 Egyptian Christians were beheaded by extremists in a similar video from Libya

by Lydia Wilgress

As originally posted on: Daily Mail Online
April 19, 2015


A shocking new video appearing to show at least 30 Christians being beheaded and shot by ISIS in Libya has been released.

The 29-minute video, titled 'Until It Came To Them - Clear Evidence', shows dozens of militants holding two separate groups captive, thought to be in the south and the west of the country.

At least 16 men, described by Islamic State as the 'followers of the cross from the enemy Ethiopian Church', are lined up and shot in a desert area while 12 others are filmed being forced to walk down a beach before being beheaded.

This follows another video in February of the beheading of a group of 21 Coptic Christians on the beach in Libya, though that terrain was rockier than the one shown in the latest film.

It raises fears that ISIS is consolidating its presence on the 'doorstep of Europe', as Libya is just a few hundred miles from the coast of Italy.

Ethiopia was unable to confirm its citizens were killed in the footage but condemned the 'atrocious act', a government official said.

The video shows the men at the coast wearing Guantanamo-style orange jumpsuits and being held at the neck by fighters in combats with balaclavas covering their faces. The victims inland are forced to kneel as militants dressed in combats and green masks stand behind them holding rifles.

It starts with what it called a 'history of Christian-Muslim relations', which includes scenes of militants destroying churches, graves and icons.

A masked fighter in black then brandishes a pistol as he vows to kill Christians if they do not convert.




In an apparent reference to Ethiopia's attacks on neighbouring Somalia, whose population is almost entirely Muslim, he says: 'Muslim blood shed under the hands of your religions is not cheap. To the nation of the cross we are now back again.'

The footage, which was released on websites and social media accounts officially linked to ISIS, also cuts to Christians in Syria explaining how they were given the choice of converting to Islam or paying a 'special tax'.

At the end it switches between the two sets of captives - thought to be mainly migrant workers - with one group shot dead at point-blank range and the others beheaded on the beach. The video has not yet been verified.





Initial reports did not make clear who the captives were or when they were captured.

The video bore the official logo of the IS media arm Al-Furqan and resembled previous footage released by the extremist group.

Redwan Hussein, an Ethiopian government spokesman, said officials were in contact with its embassy in Cairo to verify the video's authenticity.

He said he believed those killed were likely to have been Ethiopian migrants hoping to reach Europe. Libya has become a hub for migrants across Africa hoping to cross the Mediterranean to enter Europe for work and better lives.

'If this is confirmed, it will be a warning to people who wish to risk and travel to Europe though the dangerous route,' Mr Hussein said.

He added that Ethiopia, which does not have an embassy in Libya, would help repatriate Ethiopians if they wanted to leave. Libyan officials were not immediately available for comment.

Abba Kaletsidk Mulugeta, an official with the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahdo Church's Patriarchate Office, said he also believed the victims were likely to have been migrants.

'I believe this is just another case of the IS group killing Christians in the name of Islam. Our fellow citizens have just been killed on a faith-based violence that is totally unacceptable. This is outrageous,' he said.

'No religion orders the killing of other people, even people from another religion.'

Ethiopia's options to retaliate remain slim, given its distance from Libya.

However, Ethiopian Ambassador to Egypt Mohammed Edrees said his country could partner with Cairo to strike the militants.

'That could be an option,' Mr Edrees said. 'We will see and explore what is possible to deal with group.'

Frederic Wehrey, a senior associate for the Middle East Programme at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, said: 'The Islamic State in Libya is still focused on this consolidation phase of announcing its presence through these very high-profile executions. But they face some structural limits in terms of how much local support they can get because they haven't captured real revenue streams.'

It comes just two months after IS militants filmed themselves beheading 21 captured Egyptian Christians on a similar beach, which immediately drew Egyptian airstrikes on the group's suspected positions in Libya.

ISIS has been able to gain a foothold amid chaos in Libya, where two governments backed by rival alliances of militias are battling each other as well as extremist groups.

The group is also advancing in Iraq, where it has captured three villages near the city of Ramadi.

More than 90,000 people have fled the ISIS's advance in Anbar, a United Nations humanitarian agency said earlier this morning.

The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said in a statement that civilians are fleeing Ramadi as well as the three nearby villages captured by the IS group a few days ago.

Lise Grande, the UN humanitarian coordinator for Iraq, said: 'Our top priority is delivering life-saving assistance to people who are fleeing - food, water and shelter are highest on the list of priorities.'

Iraqi officials in Anbar have described Ramadi as a ghost town, with empty streets and closed shops.

Iraqi troops backed by Shiite militias and U.S.-led airstrikes managed to dislodge ISIS, which controls large parts of Iraq and Syria and wants to redraw the map of the Middle East, from the northern city of Tikrit earlier this month.

But the troops have struggled against the militants in Anbar, which saw some of the heaviest fighting of the eight-year U.S. military intervention that ended in 2011.

Elsewhere today, the US-led coalition said Kurdish forces recaptured 11 villages in Iraq's Kirkuk province from ISIS following days of intense clashes. The coalition said the area of about 25 square miles (65 square kilometers) was south of the city of Kirkuk.

April 18, 2015

Day 108





U.S. woman shot and wounded in Pakistan by men claiming to be militants

by Syed Hassan Raza

REUTERS
April 16, 2015


(Reuters) - Men claiming to be Islamic militants shot and wounded an American woman in the southern Pakistani city of Karachi on Thursday, leaving leaflets in her car naming her and saying they had targeted her because she was American, police said.

Gunmen on motorbikes shot Debra Lobo in the face and the hand as she drove home from the dental college where she worked as a vice principal.

Police said it was unclear if the attack had actually been carried out by militants, or by men posing as militants.

Pakistan is plagued by an Islamist Taliban insurgency but is also home to many other militant groups and criminal gangs. Some Taliban splinter groups have pledged allegiance to Islamic State. Extortionists and other criminals also often claim to be militants.

"Pamphlets claiming the attack have been found in the car, giving impression that some banned (militant) outfit carried out the attack," deputy police superintendent Nasir Lodhi told Reuters.

The English version of the pamphlet read: "Oh crusaders, we are the lions of Dualat al Islamia, the falcons of the caliph. Today we killed this Kansas lady Lobo, we shall lie and wait and ambush you and kill you wherever you may be and confined and besiege you in America and then god willing ... we will burn American."

An Urdu version of the pamphlet was also left. None of the references pointed to any known Islamist militant group.

The leaflet said the attack was revenge for the killing of five suspected militants in Karachi the day before.

Lodhi said Lobo was in her mid-50s, had been living in Pakistan since 1998, and was married to a Pakistani.

Americans have been targeted in Pakistan before. The U.S. contractor Warren Weinstein was kidnapped from the eastern city of Lahore in 2011. Al-Qaeda's media wing has released videos of him but he remains in captivity.

(Writing by Katharine Houreld; Editing by Kevin Liffey)

April 17, 2015

Day 107






Cuban Cigar Imports Legalized under deal with U.S.

by Ron Russell

As originally posted on: OBAMA CARTOONS
April 16, 2015


AS PART OF OBAMA'S NEW NORMALIZATION MEASURES WITH CUBA THE DECADES OLD BAN ON THE IMPORTATION OF CUBAN CIGARS IS BEING LIFTED. HOWEVER, SOURCES INSIDE THE OBAMA WHITE HOUSE ARE TELLING US THAT THE PRESIDENT WILL SOON ISSUE AN EXECUTIVE ORDER BANNING ALL SMOKING IN THE UNITED STATES. BUT THERE WILL BE SOME EXCEPTIONS---THE BAN WILL NOT INCLUDE THOSE WISHING TO ENJOY THE MIND-EXPANDING BENEFITS OF CANNABIS. TO ASSURE THAT POT-HEADS ARE NOT EFFECTED BY THIS NATIONWIDE SMOKING BAN, OBAMA'S EXECUTIVE ORDER WILL OPEN ALL FEDERAL SITES IN THE NATION TO THOSE WISHING TO VISIT WITH MARY JANE. THIS ORDER WILL INCLUDE ALL FEDERAL BUILDINGS AND NATIONAL PARKS AND THE ENTIRE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA. FURTHERMORE TO APPEASE THE CASTRO BROTHERS FIDEL AND RAUL, CIGAR SMOKING WILL BE ALLOWED IN THESE SAME AREAS. .

April 15, 2015

Day 105






"Constitutional" doesn't mean "legitimate"

by Kent McManigal

As originally posted on: Kent's "Hooligan Libertarian" Blog
April 6, 2015


Admitting that a government, a branch of government, or a "law" is "constitutional" in no way suggests that it has any legitimacy.

It only means the Constitution permits it.

That's a huge difference.

.

April 14, 2015

Day 104






Obama to Castro: US “Almost Ready” For “Socialist Spring”

by "Matt Rock"

As originally posted on: National Report
April 12, 2015


During a meeting in Panama on Saturday with Cuban Dictator Raul Castro, US President Barack Obama reportedly said that the United States is “bracing itself for socialism,” and that a major socialist revolution, which he referred to as a “Socialist Spring,” would spread through the country in the near future.

Obama’s pro-socialist words came during a cordial discussion regarding ending decades of bitterness between the two countries. Senior White House aides, who say they were privy to the otherwise private discussion, claim that Obama made it a point to draw similarities between the two nations, and had what one aide referred to as “kind words” for socialism as an economic civic.

“We’ve tried capitalism, and every capitalist idea, over the past few centuries,” Obama told Castro, as paraphrased by one of the White House aides. “It works for us. We enjoy capitalism. We enjoy the nice life capitalism brings us. But we’ve also found that capitalism isn’t the answer to every question or problem we’re faced with. Socialism can help us bridge those gaps.”





Obama went on to explain that he views capitalism as “the way,” and socialism as “a tool” to help achieve the means. “We’re almost ready for a new era in capitalism,” Obama said. “I think the world would be a better, safer, more fruitful place if the United States moved a little closer toward socialism, and Cuba moved a little closer toward capitalism. There’s value in both ideas.”

“The American people hate the word `socialism,’ but they’re fond of socialist ideas,” Obama continued. “Polling shows us that the American people want universal healthcare. I think [Obamacare] will get us closer to that. The Socialist Spring will come for the United States, and I think it will come soon.”

Castro was receptive to the idea of a partially-socialist United States, and told President Obama that any move toward socialism undertaken by the US would be seen as “A tremendous achievement for the revolution,” adding that “Your Republicans in America have said you were a socialist for many years, despite no evidence to support that theory. It’s nice to finally see they’ve been proven correct.”

April 13, 2015

Day 103


China Using A Powerful 'Great Cannon' Weapon to Censor The Internet

by Swati Khandelwal

As originally posted on: The Hacker News
April 11, 2015


China has something very impressive that we are not aware of. The country has a powerful and previously unknown weapon that its government is using to bolster their cyber attack capabilities:

Dubbed "The Great Cannon."

INTERNET CENSORSHIP IN CHINA

When I talk about Internet censorship, it is incomplete if I don't mention China. China is famous for its Great Wall of China and Great Firewall of China. The censoring of Internet access and blocking an individual website in China by its government, known as the Great Firewall of China.

But, why the Chinese government does that? The answer is very simple:

The Chinese government restricts those contents it deems sensitive for its country's so-called democracy. It illegalize certain online speech and activities, block selected websites, and filter keywords out of searches initiated from computers located in Mainland China.

The worse:

Those Chinese citizens who offend authorities against Internet censorship in the country can also face judicial consequences.

GITHUB HIT BY MASSIVE DDoS ATTACK

Now:

The same thing I mentioned above China did few days ago to Github by launching a massive distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack.

Github is a popular source code hosting website used by programmers to collaborate on software development.

The massive DDoS attacks, that intermittently shut down GitHub for more than 5 days, specifically targeted two popular Github projects –

- GreatFire.org – Anti-censorship tool, hosted on GitHub, used to help Chinese citizens circumvent The Great Firewall Of China.
- CN-NYTimes – A group on Github that hosts New York Times mirrors to allow Chinese netizens access to the news website, which is normally blocked in China.

But, how did the Chinese manage to produce DDoS attacks of so much strength and Bandwidth?

Yes, the answer is the "Great Cannon" (GC). Chinese government is now using a new cyber weapon in an effort to silence not only its citizens, but critics around the world, according to the latest report released by Citizen Lab.

THE GREAT CANNON – A NEW POWERFUL WEAPON

What's the Great Cannon?

The Great Cannon is a special cyber attack tool essentially capable of hijacking Internet traffic at the national level and then direct that traffic at targeted networks the attackers want to knock offline, sending back spyware or malware, or using the target to flood another website with traffic.





It is believed that Github's attackers used the Great Cannon as a DDoS attack tool to redirect the Internet traffic of visitors to Chinese search engine giant 'Baidu' or any website that used Baidu’s extensive Advertisement network in order to cripple the popular code-sharing website.

In simple words:

Those visiting a Baidu-affiliated website from anywhere in the world were vulnerable to getting their Internet traffic hijacked by the attackers, which could then be turned into a weapon to flood anti-censorship websites, like GitHub, with too much of junk traffic.

Let’s have a look on how the Great Cannon was deployed in the GitHub and GreatFire.org attacks:





HOW THE GREAT CANNON WORKS?

The Great Cannon works by intercepting data which is sent between two nodes and then redirecting the data to a third one. This powerful cyber weapon seems to leverage an analytic script, which is commonly distributed by the Chinese search engine Baidu.

Now:

Generally this script is not malicious, but according to Citizen Lab, the Cannon's creators tampered with the script code a little bit in order to redirect the user to Github, instead of sending a data packet, thus flooding the target website with traffic from unsuspecting users.

The weapon is also capable of producing a full-fledged man-in-the-middle (MITM) attack, so it could also be used to intercept unencrypted emails.

It makes me remind of:

QUANTUM – an NSA's similar weapon that was capable to redirect victims to fake websites containing malware served through unencrypted sites using Man in the middle attacks to a spoofed server, which can respond faster than the real one that is placed somewhere on the Internet backbone.

These secret Internet backbone nodes, which the National Security Agency, dubbed Quantum nodes.

What's more:

This new move by Chinese government could signal a trouble in China's online behavior – Shifting from the passive censorship of the Great Firewall of China to the active censorship by readily attacking foreign websites with the Great Cannon.





Cyber attacks originating in China are not at all surprising. But...

..."the operational deployment of the Great Cannon represents a significant escalation in state-level information control: the normalization of widespread use of a [cyber] attack tool to enforce censorship by weaponizing users," the security researchers from the University of Toronto and University of California wrote in a report published Friday.

MEASURES TO MITIGATE THE GREAT CANNON

According to the researchers, the Great Cannon weapon used by Chinese authorities could be neutralized to a great extent if the websites communicate over encrypted HTTPS connections.

Why? The reason:

Those websites whose communications are end-to-end encrypted is difficult to modify for an attacker sitting in between the sender & the receiver, unless and until those websites are not loading files or resources via unencrypted i.e. non-HTTPS connections.

April 12, 2015

Day 102





Random ranting pt. I

by "Depressed Heathen"

As originally posted on: depressedheathen
April 11, 2015


I’m pissed off.

That is the whole reason for the this blog. Just another rant blog by some asshole with an opinion. I’ve been watching shit in social media and mainstream media unfold and I can’t help but think about how fucking ridiculous some people can be. I watch these people do the most reprehensible things and then ignorantly question why people are so outraged by it. I just can’t believe it. There is a sense of logic that is missing from the common man.

I don’t even know where to begin or what to focus on, so I’m just going to pick something, and run with it.

Gay Cakes:

What the fuck does that even mean, anyway? Is the cake made with homo milk?

It’s all anyone can talk about today. A gay couple requests a cake be made by a Christian bakery, and is refused. It is clearly defined as discrimination – refusing service because of a minority groups involvement in that particular minority group. Then, the state of Indiana goes and passes a law that gives “religious freedom” to shops, effectively allowing them to refuse to serve gay couples if they want to? The government is pro-discrimination. Does anyone else see something wrong with this?





Not just that, but the morons who see this and try to justify it? I’ve seen so many YouTube videos doing their own ‘experiments’ with this exact situation. The most reprehensible is by a piece of shit name Josh Feuerstein. I’ll save my feelings about this asshole for another day; ’cause let’s be honest, I’ll be talking about him a lot.

Josh Feuerstein (or Josh Fuckstain, as I’ve heard him be referred to as) calls up a bakery and asks them to print “I do not support gay marriage” or “gay rights” or some shit on the cake. The bakery refused to print this on the cake; with good reason! This is easily considered hate speech and the bakery could have been accosted for printing such vile messages on their cakes.

What would happen if they printed on a cake, “white power”? Shit would hit the fan. And that’s just touching the surface. Since uploading this video onto YouTube, Josh Fuckstain supporters have been barraging this bakery with death threats. What the holy fuck is that about? People are actually threatening death upon a bakery, for refusing to participate in hate speech.





This story actually made local news. When Josh was questioned about it, he said it was a social experiment. From what I’ve seen, he’s made no attempt to apologize for this behavior, or the backlash that came from it. The least he could have done is called up and introduced himself, asked the question – the woman who answered even asked if it was a prank call, to which he replied “no”. I’ve got news for you Josh, if you are calling for anything other than business, it’s a fucking prank call. No, he didn’t inform the bakery of anything and used the response for his own selfish bigoted purposes. She left the call thinking this man was an asshole. Let’s face it, the guy is a total asshole. End of story.

The worst part of this video was his fucked up justification that followed. He said that if the bakery was allowed to refuse to print anti-gay messages on a cake, then by default they should also be allowed to refuse service for gay couples. This is basically saying that because a business does not want to participate in discrimination, that they should be allowed to participate in discrimination. This whole argument is so beyond illogical, it actually makes my head hurt trying to understand it.

Listen and believe:

The social justice, feminazi mantra. “You should just believe a woman when she says she’s been raped!” As if women are the paragon of virtue and never do wrong. As if all of those cases that were proven to be false accusations are just to be over looked. I hate the fact that men get shit on because one person accuses them of rape.

Thankfully, I’ve never been accused of raping a woman. I have however been accused of being physically abusive toward a woman. When in high school, I dated a girl. She had some serious emotional issues, including commitment issues. We broke up after 11 months. I will admit that I too had / have some pretty bad emotional issues. They were a lot worse back when I was dating this girl.

I was a child and teenager that grew up with an undiagnosed mood disorder. Today, as an adult, I am being treated for depression, but I still have yet to be officially diagnosed with something. The treatment I am going through has helped tremendously, but back when I was 17, I was an emotional wreck. So when I wanted someone to lean on, I would go to the most obvious person; the person who I thought cared the most about me; my then, girlfriend.

Whenever I’d become emotionally distraught, she’d become distant. She’d refuse to talk to me, refuse to see me in some cases. In a fit of anxiety, I all but begged her to come over and see her. She refused. The last thing she told me when we broke up was that she ‘got bored’. Those words are pretty telling to me.

Fast forward a year, I had graduated and she was a grade below me. I was dating another girl at the time who also attended that high school. One day, a mutual friend approached my 2nd girlfriend and asked her if she was okay. As it turned out, someone was spreading a rumor that I was physically abusive toward my first girlfriend. Complete and total bullshit. But people bought it. You can really tell who your real friends are at times like this.

The moral of this story; woman are capable of lying. That’s not to say that all cases are false, but that’s not a reason to believe that all cases are fact. The default position to any claim is skepticism. It’s true with the God claim. It’s true with the unicorn claim. It’s true with the pink elephant claim. Why should it be any different with rape cases?

I remember one time getting into an argument with a gent via social media about the Bill Cosby rape claims. At the time, 30 women had come forward and accused him of rape / attempted rape. At this point, the guys career is done. There is no way anyone is going to trust the guy. In interviews, he even tries dodging the questions. I have no doubt in my mind that he has some level of guilt.

But this asshole I was arguing with said that because 30 women came forward, that solidified his guilt. Actually, it was the Canadian rock artist Danko Jones that originally started this. He said “I don’t evidence to back it up. If 30 woman pop up and say he did it, he’s guilty.” That’s such a fallacious argument. Appeal to popularity doesn’t work for God, why would it work in this case?

Let’s not forget the Michael Jackson case, where he was accused of molesting a little boy. Even after it was proven that the boy lied because his father put him up to it, Michael Jackson was forever seen as a child molester. Granted, he was a bit weird, but that doesn’t justify the claim.

This asshole also turned my attention to Susan Brownmiller. Upon researching the woman, it painted a very controversial picture for me. She was apparently a proponent in 2nd wave feminism and actually condemned sexuality and pornography. I read some of her arguments and thought she was bat shit crazy. The asshole had the gusto to say “you’re welcome” as if he was doing me a favor.

Which reminds me, apparently being skeptical is now rape apologetics? I don’t even understand this. I’m just saying that if a complete stranger said she was raped, I’d want to know more details about it. It doesn’t mean I’m dismissing her and taking a side with the guy. It just means that I don’t have enough information to make a judgement call on the claim. THAT is how these claims should be treated. Whether it’s one guy, two guys, or 30 guys. I’ve been told this argument falls apart at 2 or 3 accusations. But are we really willing to believe that 100% of these claims are true?

Bill Cosby is a huge household name. I remember watching his comedy when I was 9. My mom watched him, my grandparents watched him, my great grand parents watched him. You’re hard pressed to find someone who doesn’t know who he is. And with someone at that level of fame also comes with a level of money. It’s not terribly difficult to believe that some people may make claims against someone for pay out. It happened to Michael Jackson – why is it so hard to believe it with this?

I’m not saying Bill Cosby is innocent. By no means do I think that. He was a man in the spotlight. Women very likely threw themselves at him. There’s a reason they call fame all about “drugs, sex and rock and roll”, after all. It’s not hard for me to imagine that after having women fling themselves at someone, that that someone thinks it’s okay to make advances at all women. Some women may be victims to this type of behavior. THAT is a travesty and should be addressed. But with how easy it is to lie, why are we willing to believe everything at face value?

If you haven’t got it yet, my opinion is that Bill Cosby is guilty as shit. Get over yourselves for thinking otherwise.

Mercedes Carrerra:

For those who are unfamiliar, Mercedes Carrerra is an adult film actor. In other words, she fucks people on camera. I imagine she’s pretty good at it – believe it or not, I have no yet seen her videos. Don’t let that make you think I haven’t seen her in action – but still images aren’t the same as videos.

Be that as it may, Mercedes has been a proponent of the #GamerGate movement and is probably one of the most intelligent people I’ve seen on the web today. She may do porn, but she has a background in engineering. I first came across her as a special guest on the Drunken Peasants podcast. I fell in love with her ever since.




I saw a video the other day where she recounted her experience with charities and other ‘activists’. She was going to participate in a live cam show, and donate proceeds to Able Gamers, a charity that raises money for gamers with handicaps. Because of her pro-#GamerGate views, Able Gamers apparently received ‘word’ that Mercedes would be using this to ‘weaponize’ something…? I don’t know, the whole thing seemed like bullshit.

The bottom line here is that because someone agree’s with #GamerGate, people who disagree with it went out of their way to make it impossible for this supporter to make money and donate it to those in need. How fucked up is that?

She also said that she tried to reach out to Anita Sarkeesian to help raise money to support a REAL victim of rape and sexual violence. Obviously Anita, being the valiant feminist that she is, was totally on board for helping this victim out, right?

Wrong. Anita Sarkeesian did not even acknowledge Mercedes request. Why is that? Is it because he’s an actor in the adult film industry? Or is it because she’s pro-#GamerGate? Whatever the case may be, it just goes to show how dangerous being opposed to views or ideals can be. Whether we agree an a particular social issue or not, we – as human fucking beings – should be able to set aside our differences and help each other when in need. That is was secular morality is all about.

But no. Anita fucking Sarkeesian did fuck all to help a REAL victim of sexual violence. Instead, she continues to tote this diluted narrative that women are oppressed because of how they appear in video games – FUCKING VIDEO GAMES – and play the professional victim card by tweeting out pictures of her ‘harrassers’.

I’ve been outspoken about my distaste for this woman. As far as I’m concerned, she can go fuck herself. She obviously has no real interest in doing good in the world. It’s all about keeping up appearances and making money off of the poor saps who are gullible enough to believe her.

Where “listen and believe” goes wrong.

I raise a toast to Meredes Carrerra, for being more of a human being than all those feminists who claim to fight for equality, combined. Keep on keepin’ on.

April 11, 2015

Day 101






'Arrested' ethics

by Kent McManigal

As originally posted on: Albuquerque Libertarian Examiner
January 20, 2010


"Arrest" is the euphemism for a kidnapping committed by government employees while they are "on the clock".

If the enforcers do it on their "own time", it is (sometimes) classified as "crime", yet if they are "just doing their job" while committing the kidnapping, they are thought by many statists to be doing the right thing.

Since "arrest" does nothing to return any victim of aggression or theft to their pre-attack condition, it has nothing to do with "justice", but only punishment. It is also used mainly on people who have harmed no innocent person, but are simply engaging in consensual acts that government prohibits for no legitimate reason and without authority.

The most common "justifications" for these kidnappings are drug "laws", "tax laws", gun "laws", and sex "laws". These people then become political prisoners. Those who write, "sign", enforce, or support those counterfeit "laws" are guilty of harming the innocent.

April 10, 2015

Day 100






Crime- The Definition

by Kent McManigal

As originally posted on: Kent's "Hooligan Libertarian" Blog
September 14, 2009


"Crime" is just anything the government doesn't approve of. It could be right or wrong, or even morally and ethically neutral. Many hideously evil acts are not "crimes" if they are committed by government agents, and many truly good things are "crimes" just because the government says so. Sometimes, just to be cantankerous, I will call "legal" government actions "crime" just to remind people of the evil of government at its very core.

April 09, 2015

Day 99






New Video Surfaces Showing New Jersey Cops Siccing Dog on Non-Resisting Man, Who Ended Up Dying

by Carlos Miller

As originally posted on: PINAC
April 8, 2015


A third video has surfaced from New Jersey, showing a Vineland cop straddling a non-resisting man while punching him repeatedly, ordering a police dog to join in the attack, which resulted in the man’s death last week.

“Get him! get him,” the cop orders the dog, who then begins mauling Philip White.

After several seconds, the cop then tries to pull the dog off the White, but the dog continues his attack.

White, who is on his back, has his arms in the air as the dog continues to chomp on him.

“Roll over, put your hands behind your back, do it now!” the cop orders as the dog refuses to let go of him.

When they finally pull the dog off him, the cops continue yelling at him to roll over, even though he appeared to already have been on his stomach when the video starts, only to roll over on his back to defend himself from the dog.

At no point in this video as well as in the previous two videos that emerged last week does it show White trying to take the cop’s gun, but that is the excuse they used to kill him, which is not surprising considering it has worked for so many cops in the past.

The other videos show a cop trying to confiscate phones from witnesses as “evidence,” but it’s still not clear as to how that situation was resolved because police and prosecutors have been very tightlipped about this incident, but the videos did survive.

Police said they had initially responded to a call for a disorderly man. Witnesses say when police arrived, White tried to strike them with a roundhouse kick but missed.

That was when they pounced on him.

April 08, 2015

Day 98






UNABLE TO WORK JOURNALISTS FLEE LIBYA BECAUSE OF VIOLENCE

As originally posted: Reporters Without Borders
April 7, 2015


Journalism is getting more and more dangerous in Libya, where violent clashes are reported almost every day despite negotiations between the various factions that began under UN aegis at the start of the year. The chaotic environment poses a constant threat to reporters, who are increasingly forced to flee abroad.

In October 2014, Reporters Without Borders launched a campaign aimed at making the international public aware of what is happening to journalists in Libya. The campaign visual showed the scene of a journalist’s murder together with the words: “Not seeing news from Libya any more? He did try though.”

Reporters Without Borders strongly condemns the continuing acts of violence against journalists, which have increased steadily in number since the campaign’s launch.

The overwhelming violence to which journalists are now exposed in Libya is making it virtually impossible for them to work and is forcing them to flee en masse to neighbouring countries,” said Reporters Without Borders programme director Lucie Morillon. “This situation is all the more alarming because the news media have a vital role to play in conflict zones. The safety of journalists should be an absolute priority for national and international actors in Libya.”

Journalists brutally murdered

Three bloggers and activists – Mohamed Bettou, Mohamed El Messmari and Siraj Ghatess – were found with their throats cut in November in Darna, an eastern city controlled by extremist religious militias that is regarded as one of the most dangerous places in Libya for news providers.





Mohamed Hawess, a reporter and former presenter on the Libyan TV station Likoule El ahrare, was kidnapped in Tripoli in mid-December and was held for three days, until released in a prisoner exchange.

Cameraman Salem Al Husadi fled the country a few weeks ago after being the target of a murder attempt in Darna in October.

Exodus of journalists

Reporters Without Borders has registered many cases of journalists being forced to flee abroad since November. They include Sirine El Amari, who was France 24’s Tripoli correspondent. She left in November after being repeatedly summoned by the authorities in Tripoli to explain her reports, and then receiving several threats.

Cartoonist Nizar Siala fled after receiving death threats because of a cartoon about the destruction of Libya’s cultural heritage in Tripoli.

Former Al-Jazeera correspondent Naim La3chibi fled in February after his Benghazi home was destroyed in an act of vandalism.

Libya is ranked 154th out of 180 countries in the 2015 Reporters Without Borders press freedom index.

April 07, 2015

Day 97






Marxists and Crony Capitalists Driving the Information Highway Bus

by Judi McLeod

As originally posted on: Canada Free Press
April 2, 2015


By the time self-acclaimed whistleblower Edward Snowden blew the cover on the National Security Agency (NSA) forever more known as ‘Spies are Us’, it was already way too late for the privacy of online online private citizens.

Privacy, like commonsense and government altruism, doesn’t live here anymore.

Before NSA, we were already big-time data-based with every nuance and details of our private lives spied upon and standby stored by Google, FaceBook and other unsavory social networks on the take.





Blowback from the Snowden-exposed NSA has über dominated the Big Brother spydom we’ve been talking about ever since.  Public outrage was guaranteed mostly because the NSA is a billion dollar government agency.

Little did we know when Snowden dropped his NSA bombshell that the IRS was spying on American citizens too, especially TEA Party members that the current administration regards as “bigoted”,  “bible-thumping””, “racist” dissidents. 

The NSA can only throw public citizen perceived dissidents into a data base and pass on information to other government agencies, like the EPA and IRS who aim to first control,  then shut down all government dissidents.  Problem is the The IRS does not just data base the enemy, they first harass then gauge them right out of business.

Google, FaceBook, et al get cut a break by Internet users because they’re not government agencies, per se.

Try this on for size: Google is a de facto government agency.  As soon as he was elected,  savvy President Barack Obama held his very first formal business meeting with up and coming super stars of the technology world; Google visited the White House 230 times in 2009.

There’s more: 

While the FCC is taking the flak for the recently spawned ‘net neutrality’ that will close off the Information HIghway for millions who will no longer be able to afford access to it, it was really Google who ushered it in.

Up to now during the past seven tumultuous years, it was the government taking on the hypocritical starring role as the Department of Truth.  Now Google will filter all internet news and determine what is truth.

They’re already reformatting their algorithms to reroute the traffic of conservative blogs and websites.  Google net minder Alexa and see how the traffic for online news websites has been in decline for the last six months.

How’s that for not being a government agency?

We all thought that The Information Highway would open up new horizons on the world of communication and in so doing, set us free.  ‘Citizen journalists’ would abound and stop the corruption of Big Government right in its tracks.  With our iphones, ipads, and other fingertip technology, there was no government move that could be made without our being on to it.

Instead the noose has been tightened around our necks and we’ve all been had.  We’ve been lured onto the world web and caught right up in its sticky tentacles.  We’ve been sold out for a few thousand insipid ‘likes’.

We now live in a world where NSA, Google, Facebook and Twitter don’t catch ISIS, they catch us instead.

They effectively cut off the access of the Little Guy, but leave communication open to the terrorists.

While they were making their billions, Google with its $130 billion in assets was working in close tandem with the government in its slick and ongoing propaganda department.

Google operatives, who appear on television shows telling us that robots will do our jobs over the next two decades and do the dog and pony show on coming technology,  played a role in both Occupy Wall Street (OWS) and in Obama’s so-called Arab Spring.

As an unsuspecting technology-driven constituency we helped make it all happen.

The social networks most reliable fans are the millions of 30-something millennials who don’t give a rat’s rear that a combo of Marxists and crony capitalists are now driving the Information Highway bus along a rutted road.

Big Bro hijacked the bus long before Edward Snowden blew the whistle on NSA.

Problem is “the news”  stopped right there and no one is thinking to ask where Big Bro is taking the bus.

April 06, 2015

Day 96






Intelligence Services Block Activists’ Emails … And Frame Them With Fake Emails

Is Big Brother Blocking Your Mail?

by "George"

As originally posted on: Washington's Blog
March 24, 2015


You send an email to a reporter saying that you’ve got proof of criminal wrongdoing by a government official … or a big bank. You never receive a response.

Or you send an email to an expert on monetary policy asking if the Federal Reserve’s policies help the rich at the expense of the little guy … or an expert on radiation asking if the Fukushima accident might endanger public health. You never receive a response.

This might be for any number of perfectly innocent reasons, including:

- Your email ended up in their spam folder
- They’re busy
- They’re not interested enough to write back
- They think you’re a bore or a crank

But there could be another explanation …

By way of background, China has blocked gmail for its citizens.

Yahoo blocked emails relating to the Occupy protests.

Bahrain uses British software that allows the government to frame political activists by creating messages from that person that they never typed. 35 other countries use the same software.

Tunisia monitored and blocked the emails of activists, so they were never delivered. For example:

There is also technical surveillance whereby downloading or adding attachment to an email must go through a central server. Under the pretext of protecting public order and national security, a 1998 post and telecommunications law enables the authorities to intercept and check the content of email messages and in fact electronic surveillance such as filtering of email messages of government opponents have been reported. Global Voices Advocacy Director and Tunisia Activist Sami Ben Gharbia conducted a test from the Netherlands with two Tunisia-based activists and confirmed by logging to their email accounts from the Netherland that what he sees is not what they receive when they login from Tunisia, and that they cannot access some of the messages they receive.

The Tunisian government used software from Western companies to block emails of political dissidents.

A prominent American political writer said that – if Tunisia is doing it – you can bet that Western countries are, as well.

Indeed, Snowden revealed that the British spy agency GCHQ has developed numerous offensive digital tools, including:

Ability to deny functionality to send/receive email or view material online.

***

Ability to spoof any email address and send email under that identity.

***

Mass delivery of email messaging to support an Information Operations campaign.

The potential for stifling dissent is staggering.