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August 2007

August 30, 2007

US surge sees 600,000 more Iraqis abandon home
"The scale of the human disaster in the Iraq war has become clearer from statistics collected by two humanitarian groups that reveal the number of Iraqis who have fled the fighting has more than doubled since the US military build-up began in February.

The Iraqi Red Crescent Organisation said the total number of internally displaced has jumped from 499,000 to 1.1 million since extra US forces arrived with the aim of making the country more secure. The UN-run International Organisation for Migration says the numbers fleeing fighting in Baghdad grew by a factor of 20 in the same period."

Safety fears over new register of all children   (UK)
"The database, which goes live next year, is to contain details of every one of the 11 million children in the country, listing their name, address and gender, as well as contact details for their GP, school and parents and other carers. The record will also include contacts with hospital consultants and other professionals, and could show whether the child has been the subject of a formal assessment on whether he or she needs extra help."

Outrage at 500,000 DNA database mistakes   (UK)
"Suspects arrested over any imprisonable offence, including rape and murder, can have their DNA held even if they are not charged or are acquitted.

The database, the biggest in the world, contains about four million names.

But it has been dogged by problems. Statistics released by the Home Office show it contains around 550,000 files with wrong or misspelt names."

Quebec police admit they went undercover at Montebello protest
Quebec provincial police admitted Thursday that three of their officers disguised themselves as demonstrators during the protest at the North American leaders summit in Montebello, Que.

However, the police force denied allegations its undercover officers were there on Monday to provoke the crowd and instigate violence."
Here's another account of the exposure of the masked, rock-toting provocateurs, or see the pictures - here and here.

Quebec police defend officers' actions at summit
"Quebec provincial police on Friday defended the actions of three officers who posed as protesters during the North American Leaders' summit earlier this week in Montebello, but added there will be an internal investigation into their conduct.

Authorities initially denied claims from protesters that officers had infiltrated their ranks but later acknowledged the three men were police officers."

Point, Click ... Eavesdrop: How the FBI Wiretap Net Operates
"The FBI has quietly built a sophisticated, point-and-click surveillance system that performs instant wiretaps on almost any communications device, according to nearly a thousand pages of restricted documents newly released under the Freedom of Information Act.

The surveillance system, called DCSNet, for Digital Collection System Network, connects FBI wiretapping rooms to switches controlled by traditional land-line operators, internet-telephony providers and cellular companies. It is far more intricately woven into the nation's telecom infrastructure than observers suspected."

Terror Suspect List Yields Few Arrests
"The government's terrorist screening database flagged Americans and foreigners as suspected terrorists almost 20,000 times last year. But only a small fraction of those questioned were arrested or denied entry into the United States, raising concerns among critics about privacy and the list's effectiveness.
Jayson P. Ahern, deputy commissioner for U.S. Customs and Border Protection, said focusing on arrests misses 'a much larger universe' of suspicious U.S. citizens.

'There are many potentially dangerous individuals who fly beneath the radar of enforceable actions and who are every bit as sinister as those we intercept,' he said."

Federal ID plan raises privacy concerns
"Americans may need passports to board domestic flights or to picnic in a national park next year if they live in one of the states defying the federal Real ID Act.
The cards would be mandatory for all 'federal purposes,' which include boarding an airplane or walking into a federal building, nuclear facility or national park, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff told the National Conference of State Legislatures last week. Citizens in states that don't comply with the new rules will have to use passports for federal purposes."

Domestic Use of Spy Satellites To Widen
"The Bush administration has approved a plan to expand domestic access to some of the most powerful tools of 21st-century spycraft, giving law enforcement officials and others the ability to view data obtained from satellite and aircraft sensors that can see through cloud cover and even penetrate buildings and underground bunkers.

A program approved by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the Department of Homeland Security will allow broader domestic use of secret overhead imagery beginning as early as this fall, with the expectation that state and local law enforcement officials will eventually be able to tap into technology once largely restricted to foreign surveillance."

Bush Administration Says Warrantless Eavesdropping Cannot Be Questioned
"The Bush administration said Monday the constitutionality of its warrantless electronic eavesdropping program cannot be challenged. The government is taking that position in seeking the dismissal of federal court lawsuits against the government and AT&T over its alleged involvement in the once-secret surveillance program adopted after the Sept. 11 terror attacks."

Homeland Security Enlists Clergy to Quell Public Unrest if Martial Law Ever Declared
"Could martial law ever become a reality in America? Some fear any nuclear, biological or chemical attack on U.S. soil might trigger just that. KSLA News 12 has discovered that the clergy would help the government with potentially their biggest problem: Us."
Here are a few Google searches that may add substance to this story:
"pastoral crisis intervention"
"faith based first responders"
"clergy response team"

Feds' Porn Ultimatum
"The Department of Justice wants to come up with an official list of every porn star in America - and slap stiff penalties on producers who don't cooperate.

The new rules, proposed under the Adam Walsh Child Safety and Protection Act, would require blue-movie makers to keep photos, stage names, professional names, maiden names, aliases, nicknames and ages on file for the inspection of the department's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section."
Nothing actually all that new here - see US Code title 18, section 2257

Guard Uses Taser on Man Holding Newborn
"Lewis, 30, said the April 13 episode began after he and his wife felt mistreated by staff at the Woman's Hospital of Texas and they decided to leave. Hospital employees told him doctors would not allow it, but Lewis picked up the baby and strode to a bank of elevators.

The elevators would not move because wristband sensors on each baby shut them off if anyone takes an infant without permission."

U.S. most armed country with 90 guns per 100 people

Feds pay $80,000 over anti-Bush T-shirts
"The ACLU said in a statement that a presidential advance manual makes it clear that the government tries to exclude dissenters from the president's appearances. 'As a last resort,' the manual says, 'security should remove the demonstrators from the event.'"

Beijing police launch Web patrols
"Police in China's capital said Tuesday they will start patrolling the Web using animated beat officers that pop up on a user's browser and walk, bike or drive across the screen warning them to stay away from illegal Internet content.
The male and female cartoon officers, designed for the ministry by Sohu, will offer a text warning to surfers to abide by the law and tips on Internet security as they move across the screen in a virtual car, motorcycle or on foot, it said."

August 10, 2007

Central banks intervene to ease fears of credit crunch
"The Bank of Canada and other central banks around the world pumped billions of dollars into the financial system Thursday in a bid to calm jittery investors and ease concerns about a looming credit crunch that battered North American stock markets."

Fed Acts to Stem Credit Turmoil
"The Federal Reserve, trying to calm turmoil on Wall Street, announced Friday that it will pump as much money as needed into the U.S. financial system to help overcome the ill effects of a spreading credit crunch."

ECB injects €95bn to help markets
"The European Central Bank scrambled to head off a potential financial crisis on Thursday by pumping an emergency €94.8bn ($131bn) into the region’s banking system after liquidity in the interbank market started to dry up, threatening banks’ access to short-term funds."

Japan, Australia central banks inject liquidity
"The central banks in Japan and Australia Friday reportedly injected liquidity into their respective local markets to soothe nerves in the financial markets, following similar moves overnight by the European Central Bank and the U.S. Federal Reserve."

Iraqi power grid nearing collapse

Baghdad, Iraq: 6 million people, 117 degrees and no water

Weapons Given to Iraq Are Missing
"The GAO reached the estimate of 190,000 missing arms - 110,000 AK-47s and 80,000 pistols - by comparing the property records of the Multi-National Security Transition Command for Iraq against records Petraeus maintained of the arms and equipment he had ordered. Petraeus's figures were compared with classified data and other records to ensure that they were accurate enough to compare against the property books.

In all cases, the gaps between the two records were enormous. Petraeus reported that about 185,000 AK-47 rifles, 170,000 pistols, 215,000 pieces of body armor and 140,000 helmets were issued to Iraqi security forces from June 2004 through September 2005. But the property books contained records for 75,000 AK-47 rifles, 90,000 pistols, 80,000 pieces of body armor and 25,000 helmets."

At U.S. base, Iraqis must use separate latrine

‘Rival to Nato’ begins first military exercise
"Russian and Chinese troops are joining forces this week in the first military exercises by an international organisation that is regarded in some quarters as a potential rival to Nato.

Thousands of soldiers and 500 combat vehicles will take part in 'Peace Mission 2007', organised by the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) in the Chelyabinsk region of Russia."

Sydney installs terrorism-alert speakers   (AU)

Police can take DNA from every offender   (AU)
"Under the legislation police will have the discretion to demand a hair sample or mouth swab after any arrest, no matter how minor. Police only have to believe that taking the sample will produce evidence linking the offender to a crime. At present samples can only be taken for serious offences such as murder, robbery and sexual assault."

Police want DNA from speeding drivers and litterbugs on database
"There is growing concern among MPs and civil liberties groups about the number of children under 10 and young black men on the database - the biggest in the world. But a number of police forces in England and Wales are backing proposals that would add millions more samples to it.

The Association of Chief Police Officers gave a warning, however, that allowing police to take samples for non-recordable offences - crimes for which offenders cannot be imprisoned - might be perceived as indicative of 'the increasing criminalisation of the generally law-abiding public'."

Scan This Guy's E-Passport and Watch Your System Crash
"A German security researcher who demonstrated last year that he could clone the computer chip in an electronic passport has revealed additional vulnerabilities in the design of the new documents and the inspection systems used to read them.

Lukas Grunwald, an RFID expert who has served as an e-passport consultant to the German parliament, says the security flaws allow someone to seize and clone the fingerprint image stored on the biometric e-passport, and to create a specially coded chip that attacks e-passport readers that attempt to scan it.

Grunwald says he's succeeded in sabotaging two passport readers made by different vendors by cloning a passport chip, then modifying the JPEG2000 image file containing the passport photo. Reading the modified image crashed the readers, which suggests they could be vulnerable to a code-injection exploit that might, for example, reprogram a reader to approve expired or forged passports."
It'd sure be a real shame if something like this could foul or disable an intrusive database...

Bush Signs Law to Widen Legal Reach for Wiretapping
"Today, most international telephone conversations to and from the United States are conducted over fiber-optic cables, and the most efficient way for the government to eavesdrop on them is to latch on to giant telecommunications switches located in the United States.

By changing the legal definition of what is considered 'electronic surveillance,' the new law allows the government to eavesdrop on those conversations without warrants - latching on to those giant switches - as long as the target of the government's surveillance is 'reasonably believed' to be overseas."
Related: FAQ: How far does the new wiretap law go?

U.S. Seeks to Curb Illegal Immigration
"The Homeland Security Department will ask states to voluntarily share their driver's license photos and records with the agency for use in an employment verification system. The sharing is meant to help employers detect fraudulent licenses, according to the summary, which was provided by a congressional aide."
Sensing the overwhelming rejection of the Real ID mandate - DHS tries an end-run...

TSA checks IndyGo bus passengers
"Screeners from the Transportation Security Administration checked passengers at two Downtown city bus stops this morning, looking for weapons and suspicious behavior.

David Kane, federal security director for TSA in Indianapolis, called it a 'VIPR' operation.

'It's called Visual Intermodal Prevention Response. We have plainclothes inspectors, blue-gloved uniformed security officers who are checking baggage, the behavior detection officers, and federal air marshals, which are the law enforcement arm of TSA.'"

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