Friday, December 28, 2007
posted by @netwurker at 11:09 am
"RAWALPINDI, Pakistan (CNN) -- The body of Pakistan's assassinated former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto was being flown home Friday, as sporadic violence was reported in cities across the country. Bhutto was killed Thursday leaving an election rally in Rawalpindi. The Interior Ministry said she died from a gun shot wound to the neck, fired by an attacker who then detonated a bomb killing 22 other people.

Angry mobs took to the streets, blocking roads, torching cars and pelting rocks at police, local television footage showed.

Police fired on a crowd, killing two people, in the city of Khairpur in the Sindh province, GEO TV reported. In Peshawar, officers used tear gas and batons to break up a demonstration, the station said.

Authorities called for calm and police asked residents to stay inside.

Many obliged, shuttering shops or rushing home from work, and surrendering the streets to protesters who set fire to banks, shops, gas stations and more, Pakistani media reported."

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Tuesday, December 18, 2007
posted by @netwurker at 7:24 am
by Glenn Greenwald

"There are several vital points raised by the new revelations in The New York Times that "the N.S.A.'s reliance on telecommunications companies is broader and deeper than ever before" and includes both pre-9/11 efforts to tap without warrants into the nation's domestic communications network as well as the collection of vast telephone records of American citizens in the name of the War on Drugs. The Executive Branch and the largest telecommunications companies work in virtually complete secrecy -- with no oversight and no notion of legal limits -- to spy on Americans, on our own soil, at will.

More than anything else, what these revelations highlight -- yet again -- is that the U.S. has become precisely the kind of surveillance state that we were always told was the hallmark of tyrannical societies, with literally no limits on the government's ability or willingness to spy on its own citizens and to maintain vast dossiers on those activities. The vast bulk of those on whom the Government spies have never been accused, let alone convicted, of having done anything wrong."

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Wednesday, December 05, 2007
posted by @netwurker at 11:57 am
"Because Americans like me were born in freedom, we have a hard time even considering that it is possible for us to become as unfree - domestically - as many other nations. Because we no longer learn much about our rights or our system of government - the task of being aware of the constitution has been outsourced from citizens' ownership to being the domain of professionals such as lawyers and professors - we scarcely recognise the checks and balances that the founders put in place, even as they are being systematically dismantled. Because we don't learn much about European history, the setting up of a department of "homeland" security - remember who else was keen on the word "homeland" - didn't raise the alarm bells it might have.

It is my argument that, beneath our very noses, George Bush and his administration are using time-tested tactics to close down an open society. It is time for us to be willing to think the unthinkable - as the author and political journalist Joe Conason, has put it, that it can happen here. And that we are further along than we realise."

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posted by @netwurker at 11:40 am
By Cade Metz

'On the surface, all is well in Wikiland. Just last week, a headline from The San Francisco Chronicle told the world that "Wikipedia's Future Is Still Looking Up," as the paper happily announced that founder Jimmy "Jimbo" Wales plans to expand his operation with a high-profile move to the city by the bay.

But underneath, there's trouble brewing.

Controversy has erupted among the encyclopedia's core contributors, after a rogue editor revealed that the site's top administrators are using a secret insider mailing list to crackdown on perceived threats to their power.

Many suspected that such a list was in use, as the Wikipedia "ruling clique" grew increasingly concerned with banning editors for the most petty of reasons. But now that the list's existence is confirmed, the rank and file are on the verge of revolt.

Revealed after an uber-admin called "Durova" used it in an attempt to enforce the quixotic ban of a longtime contributor, this secret mailing list seems to undermine the site's famously egalitarian ethos. At the very least, the list allows the ruling clique to push its agenda without scrutiny from the community at large. But clearly, it has also been used to silence the voice of at least one person who was merely trying to improve the encyclopedia's content.

"I've never seen the Wikipedia community as angry as they are with this one," says Charles Ainsworth, a Japan-based editor who's contributed more feature articles to the site than all but six other writers. "I think there was more hidden anger and frustration with the 'ruling clique' than I thought and Durova's heavy-handed action and arrogant refusal to take sufficient accountability for it has released all of it into the open."

Kelly Martin, a former member of Wikipedia's Arbitration Committee, leaves no doubt that this sort of surreptitious communication has gone on for ages. "This particular list is new, but the strategy is old," Martin told us via phone, from outside Chicago. "It's certainly not consistent with the public principles of the site. But in reality, it's standard practice."

Meanwhile, Jimbo Wales has told the community that all this is merely a tempest in a teacup. As he points out, the user that Durova wrongly banned was reinstated after a mere 75 minutes. But it would seem that Jimbo has done his best to suppress any talk of the secret mailing list.

Whatever the case, many longtime editors are up-in-arms. And the site's top administrators seem more concerned with petty site politics than with building a trustworthy encyclopedia. "The problem with Wikipedia is that, for so many in the project, it's no longer about the encyclopedia," Martin wrote in a recent blog post. "The problem is that Wikipedia's community has defined itself not in terms of the encyclopedia it is supposedly producing, but instead of the people it venerates and the people it abhors."'

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posted by @netwurker at 8:43 am
"AUSTRALIAN counter-terrorism authorities had no evidence that Mamdouh Habib had taken part in terrorist-related activities in Pakistan and Afghanistan before he was abducted by the US and taken to Egypt and Guantanamo Bay, an ASIO agent told the NSW Supreme Court yesterday.

The ASIO officer, who interviewed Mr Habib three times in Islamabad in 2001, was testifying yesterday in a defamation case involving Mr Habib and the News Limited columnist Piers Akerman.

Officer 1, as the ASIO officer is codenamed, told Justice Peter McClellan that, before conducting the interviews, he knew only that Mr Habib had been in Pakistan and Afghanistan about the time of the September 11 attacks on New York and Washington.

"He may have been in Afghanistan for a number of reasons," Officer 1 said. "What he was doing, I did not know … that was the purpose of the interview."

He was none the wiser after the interviews as Mr Habib's "failure to answer the questions did not illuminate [his activities]".

He said there were suspicions - unfounded, it later emerged - that Mr Habib was involved in the September 11 attacks.

"It was a possibility but by no means the only possibility," Officer 1 told the court.

Within a month of the interviews taking place, Mr Habib was abducted by Pakistani and US officials and flown to Egypt, which has a prison system notorious for using torture.

Mr Habib spent about six months there, and has detailed extensive mistreatment, including being regularly beaten, subjected to electric shocks, deprived of sleep and left in neck-high water for extended periods.

Officer 1 said he was aware now that Mr Habib had been taken to Egypt but he had had no role in the abduction and would have stopped it if he could."

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