Ricin Bullets: The Government’s Toxic Ammo

BreakingBad Walter Cigarette.jpg.CROP .rectangle3 large 450x274 Ricin Bullets: The Government’s Toxic Ammo

tl;dr damn Gov’t, you scary!

@Guns.com:

Prior to the fictional events in “Breaking Bad” ricin was used several times as both a tool of assassination as well as a weapon of terrorism. It’s cheap and easy to make and no known antitoxins existed until just a couple of years ago.

The beans themselves can kill an adult if injested, and the amount of pure ricin extract that’s lethal is less than the amount of venom a bee stings you with.

And in 1944 the U.S. government was producing 26 pounds of ricin a day at an experimental weapons facility in Utah. It was simply called “Agent W.”

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James Goodale: It’s a bad time for press freedoms

Julian Assange WikiLeaks 006 450x270 James Goodale: It’s a bad time for press freedoms

tl;dr if it was Bush people would be pissed as hell

@CJR:

James Goodale has a message for journalists: Wake up. In his new book, Fighting for the Press (CUNY Journalism Press, 2013), Goodale, chief counsel to The New York Times when its editors published the Pentagon Papers in 1971, argues that President Obama is worse for press freedom than former President Richard Nixon was.

The Obama administration has prosecuted more alleged leakers of national security information under the 1917 Espionage Act than all previous administrations combined, a course critics say is overly aggressive. Former New York Times executive editor Bill Keller wrote in a March op-ed that the administration “has a particular, chilling intolerance” for those who leak. If the Obama administration indicts WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange for conspiracy to violate the Espionage Act, Goodale argues, the president will have succeeded where Nixon failed by using the act to “end-run” the First Amendment.

Goodale spoke with CJR about why he chose to write about the Pentagon Papers now and what he sees as the key threats to press freedom today. The conversation has been condensed and edited for length and clarity. Fighting for the Press comes out on April 30.

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‘IT for Oppression’

Unit 61398 Chinese Army Hacking Jobs With Great Benefits 450x337 IT for Oppression

Bruce Schneier’s a security specialist with his own Internet meme. And while most people believe that technology elevates, improves things, Schneier holds that technology magnifies, makes things bigger, good and bad:

Whether it’s Syria using Facebook to help identify and arrest dissidents or China using its “Great Firewall” to limit access to international news throughout the country, repressive regimes all over the world are using the Internet to more efficiently implement surveillance, censorship, propaganda, and control. They’re getting really good at it, and the IT industry is helping. We’re helping by creating business applications — categories of applications, really — that are being repurposed by oppressive governments for their own use:

  • What is called censorship when practiced by a government is content filtering when practiced by an organization. Many companies want to keep their employees from viewing porn or updating their Facebook pages while at work. In the other direction, data loss prevention software keeps employees from sending proprietary corporate information outside the network and also serves as a censorship tool. Governments can use these products for their own ends.
  • Propaganda is really just another name for marketing. All sorts of companies offer social media-based marketing services designed to fool consumers into believing there is “buzz” around a product or brand. The only thing different in a government propaganda campaign is the content of the messages.
  • Surveillance is necessary for personalized marketing, the primary profit stream of the Internet. Companies have built massive Internet surveillance systems designed to track users’ behavior all over the Internet and closely monitor their habits. These systems track not only individuals but also relationships between individuals, to deduce their interests so as to advertise to them more effectively. It’s a totalitarian’s dream.
  • Control is how companies protect their business models by limiting what people can do with their computers. These same technologies can easily be co-opted by governments that want to ensure that only certain computer programs are run inside their countries or that their citizens never see particular news programs.

What goes unsaid in his essay is that the leader of the tech industry, and the most heavily-equipped to use IT — and therefor IT for oppression — is a lot closer to home. (more…)

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Japan deploys ballistic missiles amid North Korean launch fears

atari 2600 missile command box 450x609 Japan deploys ballistic missiles amid North Korean launch fears

tl;dr just like Missile Command, baby

@IBN Live:

Amid rising tensions over speculations of North Korea conducting missile tests, Japan has rolled out its ballistic missile defence system on Monday. Aerial footage shot by Japanese public broadcaster NHK showed launchers equipped with Patriot surface-to-air missiles deployed at three bases on the Japanese mainland, one – on the outskirts of Tokyo.

Meanwhile, Japan has refused to comment on the deployments, saying it does not want to reveal operational details to North Korea or alarm the public. Japan has taken similar measures before previous North Korean launches. It has never actually tried to shoot down a North Korean missile and was not expected to try to do so unless there was a clear threat to Japanese territory.

North Korea is believed to have moved ballistic missiles to its east coast, possibly in preparation for a test launch. That has further raised tensions on the Korean Peninsula amid threats by North Korea and large-scale war games involving US and South Korean troops.

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N.Korea ‘Planning Fresh Missile Test Soon’

390452 1 450x266 N.Korea Planning Fresh Missile Test Soon

tl;dr you got missile test in my underground nuke! You got underground nuke in my missile test!

@Chosunilbo:

North Korea notified foreign diplomats from several countries of its plan to launch a missile over Japan toward the Pacific Ocean around Wednesday, the Sankei Shimbun reported citing informed sources.

The North on Friday urged foreign embassies to evacuate their missions in Pyongyang, saying it cannot guarantee the safety of staff.

South Korea believes the North may test a Mudusan-type missile with a range of 3,000 to 4,000 km as early as Tuesday, given that communication on the east coast has been on the increase.

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A Secret Deal on Drones, Sealed in Blood

drones articleLarge 450x311 A Secret Deal on Drones, Sealed in Blood

tl;dr CIA swapped hits for airspace in Pakistan,

@NYT:

On a hot day in June 2004, the Pashtun tribesman was lounging inside a mud compound in South Waziristan, speaking by satellite phone to one of the many reporters who regularly interviewed him on how he had fought and humbledPakistan’s army in the country’s western mountains. He asked one of his followers about the strange, metallic bird hovering above him.

Less than 24 hours later, a missile tore through the compound, severing Mr. Muhammad’s left leg and killing him and several others, including two boys, ages 10 and 16. A Pakistani military spokesman was quick to claim responsibility for the attack, saying that Pakistani forces had fired at the compound.

That was a lie.

Mr. Muhammad and his followers had been killed by theC.I.A., the first time it had deployed a Predator drone in Pakistan to carry out a “targeted killing.” The target was not a top operative of Al Qaeda, but a Pakistani ally of theTaliban who led a tribal rebellion and was marked by Pakistan as an enemy of the state. In a secret deal, the C.I.A. had agreed to kill him in exchange for access to airspace it had long sought so it could use drones to hunt down its own enemies.

That back-room bargain, described in detail for the first time in interviews with more than a dozen officials in Pakistan and the United States, is critical to understanding the origins of a covert drone war that began under the Bush administration, was embraced and expanded by President Obama, and is now the subject of fierce debate. The deal, a month after a blistering internal report about abuses in the C.I.A.’s network of secret prisons, paved the way for the C.I.A. to change its focus from capturing terrorists to killing them, and helped transform an agency that began as a cold war espionage service into a paramilitary organization.

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