Daily Archives: August 29, 2008

Beijing Controls Tibetans Using Skynet Electronic Surveillance

Skynet is now operational in Tibet. Beijing installed cameras in every district to monitor Tibetans. Currently, Tibetans must obtain passes from the government to enter cities.

Radio Free Asia | Aug 23, 2008

By Qiao Long

The Skynet monitoring systems have been installed in Tibetan regions such as Ganzi in Sichuan Province. According to the Ganzi government’s website, the Skynet Project is to reinforce the public safety system and create a better environment for economic and social development. Currently, the Project has completed another installation in Batang County, which cost 1.3 million yuan (US$ 170,000) and is in the testing stage.

Kelsang, Emergency Coordinator of the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) said, “The Skynet Project is a surveillance system to monitor the Tibetans and the temples in the entire Ganzi region.”

During the Olympics, officials in the Tibetan regions tried every possible means to stop them from going to towns to protest, according to Kelsang. The authorities told the Tibetans if they want to go into towns or cities, they must apply for a special pass from their local governments.

The reporter interviewed two residents from Baqing County in Naqu Prefecture in the Tibet Autonomous Region. One resident told the reporter he needs a pass from the local government to go into town but wasn’t sure whether the rule applied to the monks. The other also confirmed the same and expressed that it wasn’t convenient for him to talk about it on the phone.

“We also know that now all Tibetans in Tibet need the local government’s approval to go to other places, including going out of town to shop,” said Kelsang.

The authority didn’t want to see any protests from the Tibetans during the Olympics and the authority has exhausted all means to prevent Tibetans in Ganzi from protesting. In the past five months, there was a protest every couple of days in Ganzi.

According to the CTA Emergency Group, two Tibetan women, age 38 and 25, from Linlagen Village in Rongbacha, Ganzi County, applied for passes to go to downtown Ganzi on August 2. The Rongbacha Township officials denied their application. They went into town secretly that night. The next day, the two called for the independence of Tibet in public and distributed fliers to support the return of Dalai Lama. The police soon arrested them.

According to Kelsang, the two women resisted the arrest and the police fired anesthetic shots before they were put in the police car. No information on these two women could be obtained by the time of this report.

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‘Terminator’ Technologies Coming To Wondrous and Fearsome Life
Imagine SkyNet incorporating BAE’s new MAST Dragonfly and Spiderbot surveillance systems to find us in all the dark corners we may hide in.

12 decapitated bodies found in Mexico

Forensic experts inspect some of the 12 decapitated bodies, bearing signs of torture, found in a suburb of Merida, capital of Yucatan state, eastern Mexico, on August 28  (AFP)

AFP | Aug 29, 2008

MERIDA, Mexico (AFP) – Twelve decapitated bodies bearing signs of torture were found Thursday in eastern Mexico, authorities said, adding that they were still looking for the heads.

Eleven headless male bodies were found piled on top of each other and covered with blankets in a suburb of the city of Merida, the capital of Yucatan state.

Some of the cadavers also had their legs tied, an AFP photographer saw. One was completely naked, while others wore denim clothing. Some of the murdered men had tattooed arms.

A twelfth body was found in a town called Buctzotz, 70 kilometers (45 miles) northeast of Merida. Its head is also missing.

Jose Guzman, a Yucatan state prosecutor, said the bodies were found by townspeople but that the heads were still missing.

“We believe that the 12 executions were an isolated incident and not part of a strategy to destabilize the state,” Guzman told reporters.

A top Mexican public security official who visited Merida recently had noted that the city had remained largely untouched by the drug war that has left more than 2,600 dead in Mexico so far this year.

Just four drug-related murders had been reported in Yucatan state this year, according to El Universal newspaper.

Decapitated bodies have appeared in southern and northern Mexico, and authorities say they are revenge killings between rival drug cartels.

In recent years, drug trafficking gangs have resorted to decapitations and dismemberments against their foes in northern and southern Mexico. Hitmen often leave notes on the bodies indicating it was a drug-related assassination.

Internet Eavesdropping: A Brave New World of Wiretapping

by Harry Campbell

As telephone conversations have moved to the Internet, so have those who want to listen in. But the technology needed to do so would entail a dangerous expansion of the government’s surveillance powers.

Federal agencies want Internet companies to comply with the same wiretapping requirements that apply to telecommunications carriers. This proposal, though, may stifle Internet innovation.      Furthermore, the new surveillance facilities might be misused by overzealous government officials or hijacked by terrorists or spies interested in monitoring U.S. communications.

Scientific American | August, 2008

By Whitfield Diffie and Susan Landau


As long as people have engaged in private conversations, eavesdroppers have tried to listen in. When important matters were discussed in parlors, people slipped in under the eaves—literally within the “eaves drop”—to hear what was being said. When conversations moved to telephones, the wires were tapped. And now that so much human activity takes place in cyberspace, spies have infiltrated that realm as well.

Unlike earlier, physical frontiers, cyberspace is a human construct. The rules, designs and investments we make in cyberspace will shape the ways espionage, privacy and security will interact. Today there is a clear movement to give intelligence activities a privileged position, building in the capacity of authorities to intercept cyberspace communications. The advantages of this trend for fighting crime and terrorism are obvious.

The drawbacks may be less obvious. For one thing, adding such intercept infrastructure would undermine the nimble, bottom-up structure of the Internet threaten the nation’s role as a leader and innovator in communications.

Furthermore, by putting too much emphasis on the capacity to intercept Internet communications, we may be undermining civil liberties. We may also damage the security of cyberspace and ultimately the security of the nation. If the U.S. builds extensive wiretapping into our communications system, how do we guarantee that the facilities we build will not be misused? Our police and intelligence agencies, through corruption or merely excessive zeal, may use them to spy on Americans in violation of the U.S. Constitution. And, with any intercept capability, there is a risk that it could fall into the wrong hands.

Criminals, terrorists and foreign intelligence services may gain access to our surveillance facilities and use them against us. The architectures needed to protect against these two threats are different.

Such issues are important enough to merit a broad national debate. Unfortunately, though, the public’s ability to participate in the discussion is impeded by the fog of secrecy that surrounds all intelligence, particularly message interception (“signals intelligence”).

A Brief History of Wiretapping

To understand the current controversy over wiretapping, one must understand the history of communications technology. From the development of the telephone in the 19th century until the past decade or two, remote voice communications were carried almost exclusively by circuit-switched systems.

When one person picked up the phone to call another, one or more telephone switches along the way would connect their wires so that a continuous circuit would be formed. This circuit would persist for the duration of the call, after which the switches would disconnect the wires, freeing resources to handle other calls. Call switching was essentially the only thing that telephone switches did. Other services associated with the telephone—call forwarding and message taking, for example—were handled by human operators.

Wiretapping has had an on-and-off legal history in the U.S. The earliest wiretaps were simply extra wires—connected to the line between the telephone company’s central office and the subscriber—that carried the signal to a pair of earphones and a recorder. Later on, wiretaps were installed at the central office on the frames that held the incoming wires. At first, the courts held that a wiretap does not constitute a search when it involves no trespass, but over time that viewpoint changed. In 1967 the U.S. Supreme Court decided in the case of Katz v. United States that the interception of communications is indeed a search and that a warrant is required. This decision prompted Congress in 1968 to pass a law providing for wiretap warrants in criminal investigations. But Congress’s action left the use of wiretapping for foreign intelligence in legal limbo. Congressional investigations that followed the 1972 Watergate break-in uncovered a history of presidential operations that had employed and, as it turned out, abused the practice, spying on peaceful, domestic political organizations as well as hostile, foreign ones. So, in 1978, Congress passed the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), which took the controversial step of creating a secret federal court for issuing wiretap warrants.

DARPA funds “Stealthy, Persistent, Perch and Stare” surveillance-bot

The Stealthy, Persistent, Perch and Stare (SP2S) UAS is based on AV’s small Wasp UAS, a one-pound, 29-inch wingspan battery-powered air vehicle that is being procured and deployed by both the U.S. Air Force and the U.S. Marine Corps.

AeroVironment Receives $4.6 Million in DARPA Funding to Develop Stealthy, Persistent, Perch and Stare UAS Based on Wasp

BUSINESS WIRE | Aug 20, 2008

AVAV announces the receipt of $4.6 million in funding from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to develop a small Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) capable of performing “hover/perch and stare” missions. The Stealthy, Persistent, Perch and Stare (SP2S) UAS is based on AV’s small Wasp UAS, a one-pound, 29-inch wingspan battery-powered air vehicle that is being procured and deployed by both the U.S. Air Force and the U.S. Marine Corps.

The goal of the Stealthy, Persistent, Perch and Stare program is to develop the technology to enable an entirely new generation of perch-and-stare micro air vehicles capable of flying to difficult targets, landing on and securing to a “perch” position, conducting sustained, perch-and-stare surveillance missions, and then re-launching from its perch and returning to its home base.

“A UAS that performs hover/perch and stare missions is viewed as an important capability for our armed forces,” said John Grabowsky, AV executive vice president and general manager of Unmanned Aircraft Systems. “Our production Wasp incorporates the latest technologies to provide a day and night capable, hand-launched UAS that fits into a standard backpack while still providing room for other important supplies. We believe that the Wasp-based SP2S, operated with our joint, common ground control unit, is on track to develop into a portable, practical and affordable perch-and-stare micro air vehicle,” he added.

U.S. armed forces including the Army, Marine Corps, Air Force and USSOCOM, as well as international forces such as those of Italy, Denmark, Spain and the Netherlands, use AV’s hand-launched UAS and handheld ground control unit for missions that include base security, route reconnaissance, mission planning, battle damage assessment and force protection. Raven, Wasp and Puma AE each have won full and open competitions sponsored by agencies of the U.S. Department of Defense, becoming the sole small UAS for their respective programs of record. AV has delivered more than 10,000 new, replacement and refurbished small unmanned aircraft to date.

About AeroVironment, Inc. (AV)

Building on a history of technological innovation, AV designs, develops, produces, and supports an advanced portfolio of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) and efficient electric energy systems. The company’s small UAS are used extensively by agencies of the U.S. Department of Defense and increasingly by allied military services to provide situational awareness to tactical operating units through reliable, real-time, airborne reconnaissance, surveillance, and target acquisition. AV’s efficient energy systems include PosiCharge(R) fast charge systems for increasing the productivity of industrial electric vehicles, and Architectural Wind(TM) systems for clean energy generation on buildings. More information about AV is available at http://www.avinc.com.

Hindus burn down dozens of churches

Related

Indian Maoists kill Hindus over Christian conversions

Thousands of Christians in India have fled their villages to escape a sustained assault by Hindus who have burned down dozens of churches in the eastern state of Orissa.

Telegraph | Aug 28, 2008

By Rahul Bedi in New Delhi

The attacks were sparked last weekend by the murder of a Hindu leader and four of his followers. The revenge spree by Hindu gangs has since escalated into one of the worst inter-religious clashes the country has witnessed in recent years.

At least 11 people, most of them Christians, have been killed, including one woman who was burned alive in one of several arson attacks in Kandhamal district, 120 miles southwest of the state capital Bhubaneshwar.

The violence has continued despite shoot-on-sight orders issued to police. Then Pope has also appealed for an end to the clashes.

The situation is so volatile that a government minister sent to the state to advise the local authorities was unable to return to New Delhi as it was not consideredv safe for him to travel.

Federal security forces are due to be deployed to help Orissa contain the violence.

The turmoil erupted last weekend with the murder of Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati, a member of the radical Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) or World Hindu Council and four of his followers at his ashram in Kandhamal.

Police blamed Maoists insurgents but Hindu leaders held local Christians responsible for the crime.

They alleged that they had killed Saraswati for heading a campaign to reconvert Hindus and tribal people from Christianity.

$600 million stolen outright from the Chinese people by government officials last year alone

Official corruption report shows £330 million was stolen by government officials last year.

Telegraph | Aug 28, 2008

By Malcolm Moore in Shanghai

China’s National Audit Office also revealed that there had been “managerial irregularities” in the handling of a further £3 billion of government money.

Liu Jiayi, the auditor general, said 88 people had been arrested, prosecuted and sentenced, including 14 “top officials”.

The ten government agencies with the worst record included the education and trade ministries, the National Bureau of Statistics, the Tax Office and the State Radio, Film and Television administration.

More than £2 billion was found to have been “misspent” by the ministries, and problems included false accounting, under-reporting revenues and over-reporting costs.

Mr Liu also revealed that £1.8 million in disaster relief funds after the Sichuan earthquake in May had been embezzled in order to build government buildings.

However, the amount of looted money had fallen significantly from 2006 and 2005. In 2006, around £800 million had been embezzled by officials and there were far more prosecutions.

President Hu Jintao has called for a zero-tolerance approach to corruption and warned that it poses a threat to China’s government.

Last December a website started by the anti-corruption bureau crashed after just a day because it was overwhelmed by visitors logging on to register complaints.

Columbia police expect backlash from tasing man to death

Missourian | Aug 28, 2008

BY CAROLINE EVANS and TRAM WHITEHURST

COLUMBIA – Interim Police Chief Tom Dresner said the department was saddened by the news of a Moberly man’s death after being Tasered early Thursday, calling it a “tragedy all around.” He also said he fully expected a wider backlash against the use of Tasers in Columbia as a result of the incident.

The death comes less than two months after a Columbia man was critically injured after he was Tasered by a Columbia police officer and fell from an interstate overpass. Earlier in July, the City Council had approved the purchase of 40 more Tasers, so the majority of the department’s patrol officers would be equipped with Tasers.

That decision prompted outcry from Grass Roots Organizing, the ACLU, Fellowship of Reconciliation, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and Peace Haven International. The organizations held news conferences and read a resolution at subsequent council meetings, asking the council to reconsider its decision.

The cause of Stanley James William Harlan’s death won’t be known for several weeks until toxicology results are available. The results of an autopsy conducted Thursday afternoon could take weeks to release because toxicology reports take two to four weeks to complete, Boone County Medical Examiner Carl Stacy said.

The Moberly incident occurred at around 12:30 a.m. Thursday after Moberly police pulled over Harlan, 23, for driving erratically, according to a news release from the Moberly police department. Officers arrested him under suspicion of driving while intoxicated.

When police tried to handcuff him, Harlan began to resist. An officer deployed a Taser to get Harlan to follow instructions, the release states.

Harlan began to comply but refused to remove his arms from under his body so officers could finish handcuffing him, Cmdr. Kevin Palmatory of the Moberly Police said. A Taser was deployed again, at which point Harlan complied and officers handcuffed him. The second deployment was very brief, perhaps between half a second and a second long deployment, Palmatory said.

Shortly after he was handcuffed, Harlan stopped breathing. Before Randolph County Ambulance District personnel arrived, officers performed mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. When paramedics reached the scene, they began treating Harlan. He was then taken to Moberly Regional Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead at around 2:10 a.m. Thursday.

The Moberly incident is being investigated by the Missouri State Highway Patrol’s Division of Drug and Crime Control at the Moberly department’s request. Palmatory said, as an outside agency, the patrol will have objectivity in the investigation.

On July 25, a Columbia man was critically injured when he fell off an overpass onto an embankment after being Tasered by Columbia police. Phillip Lee McDuffy, 45, was threatening to throw himself off the Providence Road bridge over Interstate 70 when the first attempt to Taser him failed. A second attempt was made while McDuffy was trying to run from police. He then fell 15 feet from the overpass onto an embankment.

A week later, Columbia Police and the Boone County Sheriff’s Department announced they would hold informational meetings explaining their Taser policies and technical details of the weapons to residents.

On Aug. 4, five residents asked the City Council to reconsider its decision to equip officers with Tasers.

But barring any new information about the Moberly case, the police department plans to move forward with its own Taser program, Dresner said, because there still isn’t enough information linking Tasers to deaths. “Situations are often more complicated than they are made to seem,” he said.

In response to what Dresner has acknowledged is a daunting public relations problem, the police department is producing a multimedia report on the McDuffy case. Though he would not discuss details, Dresner said it will be “reflective of the information age we live in.” With all of the video and photographs available from the July incident, a lengthy written report would not be appropriate, Dresner said. He expects the report to be released sometime next week.

American soldiers ‘executed four Iraqi prisoners in cold blood’

Abuse scandal: Washington has been trying to rebuild trust following scandals such as the prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib

Daily Mail | Aug 28, 2008

Three American army officers executed four Iraqi prisoners in cold blood after they had been ordered to set them free, it was claimed on Wednesday night.

The victims, who were blindfolded and handcuffed, were shot in the back of the head and pushed into a Baghdad canal, according to confessions by two of the soldiers.

None of the noncommissioned officers has so far been charged with a crime.

But legal sources told the New York Times they expect all three will face murder charges over the killings, allegedly carried out in revenge for the deaths of two soldier colleagues.

The revelation comes as Washington was focusing on rebuilding trust with the Iraqis following scandals such as the abuse of prisoners at Baghdad’s Abu Ghraib jail.

In their statements to U.S. army investigators, Sergeant Joseph Mayo and Sergeant Michael Leahy say they killed a prisoner each on the orders of First Sergeant John Hatley.

They claim Hatley shot the other two detainees in the back of the nead with a pistol.

The officers said they arrested four Shiite rebels after a gunfight in Baghdad in March or April last year soon after two of their colleagues in the 172nd Infantry Brigade were killed by sniper fire and a roadside bomb.

But the unit led by Hatley was told by army superiors there was insufficient evidence to hold the Iraqis and that they should let them go.

Leahy, a medic, said: ‘First Sergeant Hatley then made the call to take the detainees to a canal and kill them.

‘So the patrol went to the canal and First Sergeant, Sergeant First Class Mayo and I took the detainees out of the back of the Bradley (fighting vehicle), lined them up and shot them.

‘We then pushed the bodies into the canal and left. I’m ashamed of what I have done.’

According to the New York Times, Mayo said in his statement, that he carried out the executions in ‘anger’ at the deaths of his two comrades.

Last month, four other soldiers from the unit were charged with conspiracy to murder for allegedly co-operating with the plan to kill the Iraqis.

Horror at ‘Clockwork Orange’ attack on elderly Italian monks

A still from the film ‘A Clockwork Orange’, 1971. Italian media have compared the shocking attack on the monks to the movie

Daily Mail | Aug 28, 2008

Italian police are investigating a brutal attack on four Franciscan monks in a monastery in northern Italy.

The country’s media are comparing the incident, at the San Colombano Belmonte monastery near Turin, to the violence in Anthony Burgess’s controversial novel A Clockwork Orange, in which adolescent thugs delight in what they call “ultra-violence”.

A small group of hooded attackers entered the monastery on Tuesday and bound and gagged the monks, the oldest of whom was 86.

One managed to raise the alarm two hours later when he regained consciousness after being beaten.

“They unleashed an incredible level of violence against them,” Gabriele Trivellin, in charge of Franciscan monks in the area, told the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera.

“It was wild and gratuitous violence because they did not resist the attack at all.”

The youngest monk – 49-year-old Sergio Baldin – is in a coma after suffering severe head injuries. The other three monks, who range in age from 76 to 86, are expected to be released from hospital in a month.

Police believe the motive may have been robbery, as some cash was stolen from the monastery.

But the only object of great value in the building – a golden crown which decorates a statue of the Madonna – was placed behind protective glass after the original was stolen two years ago.