Tag Archives | United States

Spying Far Worse in South Africa than the US

Via Mail & Guardian tumblr_m4jhzjBIcq1roy6jeo1_500

Americans are shocked and ­outraged at ­revelations that their government is vacuuming up information about their phone conversations and internet browsing habits, but compared to South Africans, they have little to worry about.

According to ­exposés by the Guardian and Washington Post over the past week, the US government’s intelligence apparatus has “direct access” – or a close equivalent – to the systems of major internet service providers.

The National Security Agency (NSA), the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the United Kingdom’s Government Communications Headquarters, stand accused of using that access in ways well beyond what is contemplated by the laws under which they operate.

As more details about the Prism programme have emerged, the seriousness of those concerns has been much disputed. But that has done little to stem the wave of outrage and political condemnation that has seriously shaken confidence in the entire administration of Barack Obama.

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‘Ugly’ Finding: Unattractive Workers Suffer More

via Michigan State University Ugly group

People who are considered unattractive are more likely to be belittled and bullied in the workplace, according to a first-of-its-kind study led by a Michigan State University business scholar.

“Frankly, it’s an ugly finding,” said Brent Scott, associate professor of management and lead investigator on the study. “Although we like to think we’re professional and mature in the workplace, it can be just like high school in many ways.”

While plenty of research has found that attractive students tend to be more popular in school, the study is the first to link attractiveness to cruelty in the workplace. The results appear in the research journal Human Performance.

The researchers surveyed 114 workers at a health care facility in the southeastern United States. The workers were asked how often their co-workers engaged in cruel behavior toward them (which included saying hurtful things, acting rudely and making fun of them).

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Suspected Commander of Nazi SS-led Unit Found Living in Minnesota

michael karkoc

Michael Karkoc, photographed in 1990, is suspected of leading a unit blamed for torching villages filled with women and children. Photo: Chris Polydoroff/AP

via The Guardian

AP investigation alleges Michael Karkoc lied about his role in the second world war when emigrating to the US in 1949

A commander of a Nazi SS-led unit accused of torching villages filled with women and children lied to American immigration officials to get into the US and has been living in Minnesota since shortly after the second world war, according to evidence uncovered by Associated Press.

Michael Karkoc, 94, told US authorities in 1949 that he had performed no military service during the war, concealing his work as an officer and founding member of the SS-led Ukrainian Self Defence Legion and later as an officer in the SS Galician Division, according to records obtained by AP through a Freedom of Information Act request.

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When the Canadian Government Used “Gay Detectors” to Try to Get Rid of Homosexual Government Employees

via Today I found Out youre_cherry_sweet

We are all familiar with the colloquialism “gaydar” which refers to a person’s intuitive, and often wildly inaccurate, ability to assess the sexual orientation of another person. In the 1960s, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) attempted to use a slightly more scientific, though equally flawed, approach- a machine to detect if a person was gay or not.  This was in an attempt to eliminate homosexuals from the Canadian military, police and civil service. The specific machine, dubbed the “Fruit Machine”, was invented by Dr. Robert Wake, a Carelton University Psychology professor.

Taking the lead from the United States’ McCarthyism, the Canadian government considered all homosexual public servants to be a threat to national security for various absurd reasons. In order to deal with the “security threats” posed by gay people, a special team in the RCMP was formed. Section A-3′s sole mission was to identify and dismiss from service every homosexual working for the Canadian government.

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How the Cold War Spawned the Environmental Movement

The_Population_BombVia New Scientist

In Arming Mother Nature, Jacob Darwin Hamblin argues that environmentalism is rooted in cold war plans to abuse nature for military ends

I have often wondered why NATO holds environment conferences. Now I know the answer. Back in the 1960s, the Western military alliance coined the term “environmental warfare” and for years actively considered how to wage such wars. More than that, argues Jacob Darwin Hamblin in this startling account, much of modern environmental thinking originated with the scientists and military strategists during the dark days of the cold war.

And you thought the first environmentalists were muesli-eating, sandal-wearing hippies? Far from it, Hamblin says. Before them was a generation of scary Dr Strangelove types, “scientists, military leaders and politicians who believed they would have to manipulate and exploit nature” in a war against the Soviet Union. The original doom-mongers were not sounding the alarm; they were riding into battle.

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U.S. Government: Reports About PRISM Contain “Numerous Inaccuracies”

via Tech Crunch8-cell

After the flurry of reports about the NSA’s alleged PRISM surveillance program earlier today, the U.S.’s Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper just released an official statement. According to Clapper, “The Guardian and The Washington Post articles refer tocollection of communications pursuant to Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. They contain numerous inaccuracies.”

Clapper argues that Section 702 is meant to ” facilitate the acquisition of foreign intelligence information concerning non-U.S. persons located outside the United States.” It is not meant to be used to “intentionally” target any U.S. citizens (though the statement leaves a door open for an admittance of “unintentional” spying).

Given the outright denials of all the tech firms accused of participating in this program, including Google, Facebook and Apple, it remains unclear if the accusation that these companies knew about the program is one of the “inaccuracies.”

Here is the full statement from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence:

DNI Statement on Activities Authorized Under Section 702 of FISA

The Guardian and The Washington Post articles refer to collection of communications pursuant to Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

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Georgia Man Threatens to Sue if He Can’t Tell Strangers’ Children About Jesus

via The Raw Story religion-is-like-a-penis-mens-heavyweight-tee_design

A Georgia man is threatening to sue the city of Ringgold after he claims his constitutional rights were violated by police last Friday night, when officials asked him to stop bothering strangers’ children about his beliefs in the Christian deity figure Jesus Christ.

Cleveland, GA resident Daryl Banther and his 8-year-old son were reportedly handing out religious pamphlets and questionnaires at an annual celebration in Ringgold when he was confronted by the city manager and chief of police, who interrupted his proselytizing because a parent filed a police report about a strange man in the parking lot approaching children.

He left after repeated requests and was not arrested, but Banther vowed to return the next day. He then contacted the media and informed a reporter for WTVC-TV that he did just as promised, returning on Saturday night to find that he was not hassled at all.

Appearing on camera, he claimed that Christians no longer have any rights in America, then seemed aghast that an atheist could possibly file a lawsuit to force government officials to stop showing a preference for a religion.

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American Engineer’s Death Suicide or Cyber-Espionage?

via CBS News Year of the Snake

The death of an American computer engineer, Shane Todd, in Singapore has created quite a stir. His parents contend he was murdered, but authorities say it was suicide. The mystery seems to have links to the dark world of cyber-spying and could possibly involve China.
Rick and Mary Todd traveled from Montana to Singapore to prove that their son was actually the victim of a web of international cyber-espionage.

“We really appreciate the process that is going on; it’s a slow process so we really appreciate the way Singapore conducts its court system,” said Rick Todd.

The Todds are attending an 11-day inquiry into their son’s death. Shane Todd had been an engineer for a Singapore government research agency called the Institute of Microelectronics (IME). Then two days after quitting last June, he was found dead, hanging in his apartment bathroom. Police and the coroner ruled it a suicide.

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Is the US in Terminal Decline?

You might very well think that, but I couldn’t possibly comment. BBC News‘ North America editor Mark Mardell has some interesting thoughts, however:

It is eerie to walk so close to a weapon of mass destruction.

The B-52 bomber is one of the ultimate expressions of American power. If the president decides to drop a nuclear bomb, this is the sort of aircraft that would do it.

I am careful not to step over the red line around the plane. A sign painted on the ground warns lethal force can be used against those who cross it without authorisation.

I’ve come to Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota, filming for the new BBC One programme The Editors.

The programme aims to get the BBC’s on-air editors to explore – and hopefully answer – a big question. My chosen subject is the decline of American power.

There’s little evidence of it at the base, where the sign above the gate reads: “Only the best come North”.

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Poll: Three in Ten US Voters Say “Armed Revolution Might be Necessary”

Sprit_of_'76.2Jillian Rayfield writes at Salon:

A new survey of voters by Fairleigh Dickinson University’s PublicMind finds that 29 percent agree with the statement,  “In the next few years, an armed revolution might be necessary in order to protect our liberties” – including 18 percent of Democrats, 27 percent of Independents and 44 percent of Republicans.

From the survey:

Only 38 percent of Americans who believe a revolution might be necessary support additional gun control legislation, compared with 62 percent of those who don’t think an armed revolt will be needed. “The differences in views of gun legislation are really a function of differences in what people believe guns are for,” said Cassino. “If you truly believe an armed revolution is possible in the near future, you need weapons and you’re going to be wary about government efforts to take them away.”

The poll also found that 25 percent of those surveyed “think that facts about the shootings at Sandy Hook elementary last year are being hidden.” 11 percent are unsure.

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