Friday, January 28, 2011

Egypt And The U.S. : Interference With The Internet #LeakSpin

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak :
The Countdown To Regime Change

The right to Internet access is so critical to citizens' participation in their own governments that the revolution taking place in Egypt has implications for the United States. Tonight, U.S. President Barack Obama addressed the bloody crackdown on the protests in Egypt.

From The New York Times :

Mr. Obama also said that Egyptian officials should "reverse the actions that they have taken to interfere with the Internet, cellphone service, social networks that do so much to connect people in the 21st century." He added, "going forward, this moment of volatility has to be turned into a moment of promise."

In a 2007 editorial ABC News online, Internet access was described as an important underpinning to democracies. When the governments of Burma and China restricted Internet access, the consequences to freedoms were indisputable. ''Democratic governments understand the connection between human rights and Internet freedom. They have been quick to condemn the Internet crackdown in Burma and China and the lack of Internet freedom in much of the world,'' wrote Leslie Harris.

Remember that before the Egyptian government suspended Internet access inside its country, ''President Bush secretly authorized the National Security Agency to eavesdrop on Americans and others inside the United States ... .''

Remember that before the Egyptian government shut down cellphone service, President Obama ordered the Justice Department to obtain a secret court order to demand that Twitter turn over, among other things, the ''subscriber names'' of the five individuals associated with WikiLeaks, an act that would blatantly deny subscribers their rights to due process.

Earlier today, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also made a statement to express her request that the Egyptian government restore Internet access.

''Mrs. Clinton also urged the government 'to reverse the unprecedented steps it has taken to cut off communications,' referring to its decision — apparently unprecedented — to cut off all Internet services in the country, as well as mobile phone networks in some areas,'' reported The Times.

For the U.S. government to actualise the exceptionalism that we know it to have, and for the U.S. government to truly support democracy in Egypt, it must be more honest about the dishonesty of the Egyptian government (''GOE''). Today, WikiLeaks published new U.S. Embassy cables, including one that gave some perspective into the inside information available to the U.S. government.

''The GOE has not begun serious work on trying to transform the police and security services from instruments of power that serve and protect the regime into institutions operating in the public interest, despite official slogans to the contrary.''

#CableGate, #LeakSpin, #09CAIRO79

Egypt Takes Actions To Shut Down The Internet

Egypt Uprising : Government Shuts Down The Entire Internet

''Confirming what a few have reported this evening: in an action unprecedented in Internet history, the Egyptian government appears to have ordered service providers to shut down all international connections to the Internet,'' reported the blog, AnonOps Communications. In a separate media report, it was confirmed that internet services and cell phone text messaging have been cut across the African country to prevent the organizers of the protests from further connection, AFP reported on Friday.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Courageous Egyptian Protesters

من مظاهرات يوم الغضب - شاب شجاع جدا

A courageous Egyptian protester stops an armoured truck bearing a water cannon on protesters on what appears to be Qasr al-Ayn Street in Cairo, Egypt.

Similar to the Tiananmen Square hero from the 1989 protests, in Cairo today a hero-protester stood in front of an armoured truck.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

BREAKING : Wal-Mart Shooting

''A shoot-out in front of a Wal-Mart in Washington state left two people dead and two sheriff's deputies wounded Sunday afternoon,'' the Associated Press has reported.

One of the dead was a man who shot at deputies, said Scott Wilson of the Kitsap County Sheriff's Office. The other victim was a young woman who died after she was taken to a Tacoma hospital, he said. ...

Wilson said details were sketchy, but the sheriff's office received a call about a suspicious person at the store in Port Orchard. He said the man ran and started shooting when three deputies tried to talk to him. The deputies, including the two who were wounded, returned fire. ...

The store was immediately locked down, and customers weren't being allowed to leave. ...

Michael Moore Discusses WikiLeaks On Rachel Maddow Show

On the December 21, 2010, episode of the Rachel Maddow Show, Rachel sat down with Michael Moore in front of a live audience at the 92nd Street Y in New York City, to discuss U.S. Embassy cables that discussed the documentary, Fahrenheit 9/11. Their interview also included the subject of WikiLeaks.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Keith Olbermann Ends MSNBC Show

Updated : MSNBC and Keith Olbermann have ended their contract.

From The Huffington Post :

Keith Olbermann and MSNBC have ended their contract, according to a statement from MSNBC. The last episode of "Countdown" will air this evening, Friday, January 21.

MSNBC's statement reads as follows:

''MSNBC and Keith Olbermann have ended their contract. The last broadcast of "Countdown with Keith Olbermann" will be this evening. MSNBC thanks Keith for his integral role in MSNBC's success and we wish him well in his future endeavors.''

It has been reported that Mr. Olbermann's contract was being terminated midway through a four-year deal worth an estimated $30 million. Rumours on the internet indicate that Mr. Olbermann was fired as a consequence of Comcast's acquisition of NBC.

Sarah Palin Harper Valley PTA Parody Video

''The Ballad of Sarah Palin,'' by Lady Bunny

Lady Bunny has socked it to the Sarah Palin-Tea Party hypocrites.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

John Liu : CityTime Developer Is Holding NYC Hostage

Without Naming SAIC Directly, A Report By The Comptroller's Office Finds That The Faulty CityTime Project Allows The Developer To Hold New York City Hostage ''In Perpetuity.''

“The CityTime product as it currently stands may allow the vendor to maintain an indefinite monopoly on the development and maintenance of New York City’s timekeeping system,” New York City Comptroller John Liu said in a statement issued today.

Mr. Liu released his statement in connection with a review of the technology behind the CityTime payroll system. The Comptroller's Office, in Mr. Liu's statement, says that the review ''casts serious doubts on whether the system could be run independently without the project’s developer.''

“The emerging product holds the client -- the City of New York -- hostage to one company, the project’s developer," Mr. Liu said, in his statement.

The development contracts behind the CityTime payroll system has involved the theft of $80 million dollars, and Mr. Liu asked that two city agencies to scrutinise the failed system.

According to the statement, ''Subsequent to the assessment, Comptroller Liu instructed his representatives on the Office of Payroll Administration and the Financial Information Services Agency Boards of Directors to ensure that all deficiencies caused by the vendor are cured at no additional cost to taxpayers, and to explore all options including ceasing deployment of new users.''

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Do Something About Marriage Equality

Op-Ed : Hold Speaker Quinn Accountable For Lack Of Marriage Equality In New York City

Over the last year, a prominent campaign was announced, encouraging ''... LGBT Americans and straight allies to withhold time and money from political entities that are not fighting as hard for our equality ... .''

''Democrats and Republicans are holding our equality hostage -– promising progress if we vote them back into office year after year, but never actually delivering on those promises. It’s time for us to call them on their game of chicken. We are insisting on progress before we will prop up political parties and committees that expect us to donate while they fund anti-equality candidates and fail us time after time.'' This includes, New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, who is presumed to be aggressively raising money and support in preparation to mount a 2013 campaign for New York City's mayoral office.

On 13 January 2011, Speaker Quinn attended an event sponsored by Freedom To Marry, a national marriage equality organisation. Speaker Christine Quinn shows up to gay rights events -- or gay engagement announcements, like the one that took place on the evening that this YouTube was made -- but Speaker Quinn has never introduced any law to establish marriage equality in New York City. In contrast, Gavin Newson helped to reshape marriage equality for the United States by allowing same-sex couples to receive marriage licenses in San Francisco. New York voters need to hold Speaker Quinn accountable for having taken no action during all her years as Speaker to make marriage equality a reality.

At a time when, if we expect to make real progress in terms of gay civil rights, we need ''All Hands On Deck,'' here we find that, instead, Speaker Quinn still has her hands in the cookie jar. If gay marriage ever becomes legal in New York City, it won't be because of Speaker Quinn.

Christine Quinn - Corruption Protest - 13 January 2011

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Stringer Raising Millions For Potential Mayoral Campaign In 2013

Potential New York City 2013 Mayoral Candidates Raising Money ; Sitting On Millions Of Campaign Cash.

Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer raised approximately $1 million dollars in 2010 in what is being called a preparation to run for Mayor of New York City in 2013, reported The Wall Street Journal.

The Journal reported that in the final 6 months of 2010, Mr. Stringer raised nearly $400,000, while City Council Speaker Christine Quinn raised $121,000. During the same period, each of Rep. Anthony Weiner and 2009 Mayoral candidate William Thompson did not raise any money.

While Mr. Stringer had a definite fundraising advantage in 2010, his rumoured competition for the Demorcratic nomination have piles of campaign cash that can be funneled into a mayoral campaign. Together with his 2010 fundraising, Mr. Stringer has a combined balance of approximately $2 million, Ms. Quinn has approximately $2.8 million available to her, and Mr. Weiner has almost $4 million on hand.

New York City Comptroller John Liu and Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, each of whom are also considered potential mayoral candidates, have not released their fundraising activities for the latter part of 2010, The Journal reported.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Secret FBI Subpoenas

The NYTimes doesn't believe that the U.S. Justice Department is conducting an illegal investigation of WikiLeaks. Oh, really ?

Running contrary to the characterisation of Birgitta Jonsdottir, a former WikiLeaks activist who is also a member of Iceland’s Parliament, that U.S. prosecutors were using a court order to collect ''personal information from an elected official without having any case,'' The New York Times has reported that the scope of the court order was not unlawful.

''The news that federal prosecutors have demanded that the microblogging site Twitter provide the account details of people connected to the WikiLeaks case, including its founder, Julian Assange, isn’t noteworthy because the government’s request was unusual or intrusive. It is noteworthy because it became public.''

Let's examine just a couple of aspects of the court order :

(i) ''The order asks for subscriber names, user names, screen names, mailing addresses, residential addresses and connection records along with other information related to the accounts.''

(ii) ''Stating that information held by Twitter was "relevant and material" to the WikiLeaks investigation, the district court ordered the startup to hand over:

  • session times and connection records
  • telephone numbers
  • credit card information
  • e-mail and IP addresses
  • correspondence and notes of record''

What would the U.S. government be gaining from conducting a court-sanctioned surveillance for this kind of social media account information? Not for nothing, by focusing on subscribers and connection records, among other things, the U.S. government is casting a wide, indiscriminate net into cyberspace, and it is hoping to pull in something -- legal or otherwise, relevant or otherwise, applicable or otherwise. There is no focus to the court order ; its only objectives are to spy and to collect surveillance over both foreigners, over which the U.S. may have no jurisdiction, and citizens, who are being denied due process.

On a blog of a WikiLeaks supporter, someone asked, ''Is this not the same type of action that you, DOJ, find reprehensible in other countries?''

(As an aside, I wonder if The Times even appreciates the fact that, after the U.S. government's secret investigation of WikiLeaks has become ''public,'' those being targeted by the court order can now reasonably fight the unreasonableness of the indiscriminate scope of the court order. The owners of the social media accounts, on Twitter, Facebook, and Google, have legal rights, according to the law. How would the owners of the social media accounts know to fight the government's court order, if the government doesn't even serve the court order on the account owners? Look at how wikipedia gives context to due process violation : ''When a government harms a person, without following the exact course of the law, then that is a due process violation which offends the rule of law.'')

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Violence in American Politics

Will The Arizona Shooting Rampage Create A Period of Political Instability In The United States ?

The New York Times reported that the Arizona shooting rampage has exposed the fact that politics in the United States has been becoming more vitriolic -- and violent.

''The shooting of Representative Gabrielle Giffords and others at a neighborhood meeting in Arizona on Saturday set off what is likely to be a wrenching debate over anger and violence in American politics,'' reported The New York Times.

The impact that the alleged shooter, Jared Lee Loughner, wanted to have on the U.S. political system is unmistakable.

''Along with being accused of trying to kill Ms. Giffords, Mr. Loughner was charged with killing or attempting to kill four other United States government officials : United States District Judge John M. Roll and Gabriel Zimmerman, an aide to Ms. Giffords, who were killed, and two more Congressional aides, Pamela Simon and Ron Barber, who were wounded.''

The Times even went so far as to compare the Arizona shooting rampage with an act of domestic terrorism.

''Not since the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995 has an event generated as much attention as to whether extremism, antigovernment sentiment and even simple political passion at both ends of the ideological spectrum have created a climate promoting violence.''

Saturday, January 8, 2011

WikiLeaks Twitter Subpoena Denies Subscribers Their Right To Due Process

The First item listed in the secret Order signed by the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia demands that Twitter turn over ''subscriber names'' of the five individuals associated with WikiLeaks.

On Saturday night, the WikiLeaks Twitter feed included this ominous message : ''Too late to unfollow; trick used is to demand the lists, dates and IPs of all who received our twitter messages.''

Not only have U.S. Justice Department prosecutors cast the data mining aspect of their court order on Twitter to include foreigners, but now prosecutors are trying to ensnare mere subscribers (or, in Twitter jargon, ''followers'') of the five individuals associated with WikiLeaks.

Whereas, the three foreigners, who are targets of the prosecutors' surveillance, have the option to object to the court order served on Twitter, the fact that followers have no say in fighting the reasonableness of the U.S. government's court order call into question the true scope of the legal witch hunt.

Since there appears to be a weak legal underpinning to the court orders, then, more and more, the investigations by U.S. prosecutors appear to be mere acts of retaliation against foreign political dissidents and WikiLeaks.

And caught in the middle are the followers on Twitter. If the followers are foreigners, then a U.S. court may have no jurisdiction over the free speech activities of those foreigners. And if the followers are Americans, then the Americans should be given due process, namely, an opportunity to challenge the court order. Except for harassment or retaliation, what is the purpose for the U.S. government to know who are the Twitter followers ? Certainly, there is no legal reasoning for the U.S. government to know who are the Twitter followers.

WikiLeaks Twitter Subpoena Targets Foreigners

A U.S. Court in Virginia issues Order for Production of Information that Ensnares Citizens of Australia, Iceland, and The Netherlands.

The issuance of a court order to Twitter confirms that prosecutors working for the United States Department of Justice are investigating WikiLeaks over the publications of thousands of classified U.S. embassy cables.

The court order specifically names three foreigners. It is unknown if a domestic U.S. court may extend its jurisdiction to cover the internet accounts of foreigners.

According to an analysis published by The New York Times on the subject of the application or validity of the U.S. court order on foreign individuals, Justice Department prosecutors might be violating the right of free speech of the foreign individuals. The three foreign individuals, who are the target of the Twitter court order, are : Julian Assange, the spokesperson and editor-in-chief for WikiLeaks; Birgitta Jonsdottir, a former WikiLeaks activist who is also a member of Iceland’s Parliament; and Rop Gonggrijp, a computer programmer.

''This raised the possibility of a diplomatic quarrel between the United States and allied nations whose citizens were among those covered by the subpoena. They could argue that American laws were being used to stifle free communications between individuals who were not American citizens, and who were not in the United States at the time of the messages.''

It is unclear whether court orders pursued by Justice Department prosecutors in their retaliatory persecution of WikiLeaks can apply U.S. law to foreigners. Indeed, according to The Times, in the case of Ms. Jonsdottir, ''Iceland’s foreign minister ... has requested a meeting with the American ambassador to Iceland to ask, among other things, whether a grand jury inquiry prompted the subpoena.''

If the legal underpinning of the court orders can be called into question, then do the investigations by U.S. prosecutors constitute acts of retaliation against foreign political dissidents and WikiLeaks ?

WikiLeaks Twitter Subpoena Scandal

UPDATE : The Guardian newspaper : WikiLeaks Demands That Google And Facebook Unseal U.S. Subpoenas

WikiLeaks is reportedly demanding that Google and Facebook unseal any secret court orders that the websites received in connection with the U.S. government's retaliation against WikiLeaks.

WikiLeaks' demand followed news that was reported that a court in Virginia had issued a secret order to Twitter to produce personal information belonging to accounts of five individuals associated with WikiLeaks.

All of the secret court orders are providing ''strong evidence'' that the U.S. government has empaneled a grand jury to begin a broad, large-scale data mining operation that seeks to collect surveillance in a retaliatory act against WikiLeaks. In late November, WikiLeaks began a coördinated reporting collaboration with several respected journalism outlets, including The New York Times, to publish thousands of United States embassy cables.

In A Clear First Amendment Violation, The U.S. Government Has Issued A Judicial Order To Twitter In An Effort To Collect Information About WikiLeaks And Its Supporters.

Officials from the United States Department of Justice have applied for, and received, a judicial order that has been issued to the social media website, Twitter, in an effort to collect information about political dissidents. In some countries, activists are under constant harassment from their governments.

In growing numbers of mainstream media reports, the news has been reporting that the U.S. government has served Twitter with what are being described as ''subpoenas'' for the private messages, contact information, and other personal forms of information belonging to Julian Assange, who is the spokesperson and editor in chief for WikiLeaks. Other targets of the subpoenas include Pfc. Bradley Manning, who is a U.S. Army intelligence analyst, and Birgitta Jonsdottir, who is a member of parliament in Iceland. Ms. Jonsdottir was also a former WikiLeaks volunteer. Also mentioned in the judicial order are other individuals currently or formerly associated with WikiLeaks, including Jacob Appelbaum and Rop Gonggrijp.

According to, the information demanded by the WikiLeaks subpoenas issued by the U.S. Department of Justice is ''sweeping in scope.'' has posted online the Department of Justice order for the Twitter information.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Reporter Is Found Castrated ; Male Model Wanted For Questioning

Portuguese Journalist Carlos Antonio De Castro Found Dead In Times Square Hotel.

Carlos Antonio De Castro's dead body was discovered naked and lying face up in a room on the 34th floor of the Intercontinental New York Times Square about 7 p.m., sources told The New York Daily News.

The corpse was found in a pool of blood ; there were signs of massive trauma to the head. Sources said that Mr. De Castro's scrotum was cut off.

Mr. De Castro had checked into the hotel on Dec. 29 with the male model, Renato Seabra. Before Mr. De Castro's body was found, it was reported that the two men had been arguing. It is believed that Mr. Seabra fled the hotel room ; he is now being sought for questioning.

Mr. De Castro was 65 years old, whilst Mr. Seabra was in his 20's, The Daily News reported.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

NY Senate Democrats Outraged by Bloomberg's Disgraceful Comment

Senate Democrats Didn't Take Kindly To Mayor Bloomberg Calling Their Time In The Majority "A Disgrace," Reported Celeste Katz.

Earlier today, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg was in Albany for Gov. Andrew Cuomo's State of the State address, after which the mayor insulted the Democrat Senators.

"I thought, if you take a look, it was a disgrace what happened in the last couple of years in the Senate. Most people, regardless of party, think that," said Mayor Bloomberg.

Upon hearing the mayor's insult, Senate Democrats reacted with anger.

"The actual disgrace is failing to manage a fatal blizzard because you and all of your top aides were on vacation and nobody was left in charge," a Senate Democratic source told Ken Lovett of The New York Daily News.

For the past two years, Democrats in the New York State Senate carried out Mayor Bloomberg's Republican agenda, and now Mayor Bloomberg has expressed a lack of gratitude by calling the Democrats a ''disgrace.'' Where have we heard the word ''disgrace'' come from the mayor before ? Oh, that's right. When the mayor was confronted with his ''rationale'' for extending term limits, Mayor Bloomberg called the brave reporter a ''disgrace.'' Here is that famous video :

Mayor Bloomberg where were u Blizzard 2010 people died! Call for Feds to investigate MTA as well as Sanitation Dept.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Assassination of Salman Taseer

Militants Set The Agenda

Salman Taseer, the governor of Punjab Province in Pakistan, was murdered earlier today by one of his police guards. The New York Times reported that today's killing has exposed that Pakistan is experiencing a political crisis.

In a past article, The Times reported that, ''officially,'' the U.S. did not want to be seen ''taking sides in Pakistan’s already chaotic internal politics.'' Yet, in the time leading up to Governor Taseer's assassination, The Times reported that the U.S. was having a greater public role in the affairs of Pakistan.

''Obama administration officials worry that even if Pakistan’s government survives the upheaval — which they believe it might, for a while — the turmoil could kill any chance for political and economic reforms. The assassination, one official said, leaves not only the repeal of the blasphemy laws in doubt, but also possible reforms to increase tax collection. Under pressure from Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and other American officials, the Pakistani government submitted a new tax law in Parliament. But it may abandon the push as a way to lure back coalition partners.''

At the end of the day, it's hard to tell if the U.S. is ''officially'' involved or uninvolved in the direction of Pakistan's government. And for the second time, since the spectacular security failure that lead to Benazir Bhutto's assassination, an investigation needs to be made to review those ''officially'' or ''unofficially'' responsible for providing security to key government leaders in Pakistan.

John Liu Exposes Another Technology Contract

NYC's Emergency Telephone System Contract Draws New Scrutiny

The CityTime technology contract scandal has cast many doubts on Mayor Michael Bloomberg's other expensive IT programs. The Gothamist has reported that suspicion has grown in connection with the out-of-control costs associated with a technology upgrade to New York City's 911 emergency telephone system.

''The City Time scandal had already been a point of contention between the Bloomberg administration and City Comptroller John Liu, and now their fight has spread to the City's emergency services. Yesterday Liu's office rejected a $286 million contract request for the city's Emergency Communications Transformation Program, (ECTP), an effort to update the city's 911 system—a project that, incidentally, was initially budged at $380 million and has since ballooned to $666 million.''

Now that the Comptroller Liu has finally started showing up to the office as Comptroller and not a candidate for mayor, maybe he will expose other black holes in the city budget ?