MUST Read: She Tweeted Against the Mexican Cartels. They Tweeted Her Murder.

No newspaper dares to publish the truth about the drug lords in Tamaulipas. Those who break the silence on Twitter and Facebook are marked for death.

MEXICO CITY—She was a crusading Twitter journalist in a bastion of organized crime who chose a photograph of Catwoman as her online avatar and christened herself Felina. Like a comic-book avenger, her alter ego defied the forces of evil in her real-life Gotham of Reynosa, a border city in the Mexican state of Tamaulipas located a short drive from McAllen, Texas. Tamaulipas is notorious as a state caught in the iron grip of organized crime. Extortion, kidnappings, shootouts, arson, bodies excavated from arid pits, all of this happens in Tamaulipas, practically on a daily basis, but hardly any of it gets reported because of a media blackout the cartels decreed four years ago that is as strictly enforced as martial law after a coup.

Two rival drug cartels in Tamaulipas, the Gulf Cartel and the Zetas, have final say over what gets printed or broadcast in the local media. By necessity the people of the state increasingly have turned to social media to share information about organized crime and its infiltration of the government. They are referred to as citizen journalists and have received international attention for their innovative use of sites like Facebook and Twitter to defy the imposition of the blackout.

Felina was an administrator for Valor por Tamaulipas (which means Courage for Tamaulipas), the most popular citizen news hub in the state, with more than 100,000 followers on Twitter and over half a million on Facebook. A sampling of the site’s content varies from the sensational to the specific. There are photos of young teenagers holding military-grade firepower with captions or comments that identify them as members of organized crime. There are posters of missing persons and news alerts about violence that are timely and specific: “At 10am there were isolated gunshots heard coming from Unidad Obrera”; “Since 12:25a.m. Explosions and machine gun fire at Cañada/Fuentes, and pickup trucks passed at high speed on 20th Street”; “In Balcones sector 2 white Ford pickup with 3 armed Men on Everest Street and Seventh.” Soldiers at the Mexican army base in Reynosa also post news alerts to the site about violent confrontations between the army and the narcos.

Felina posted under the handle @Miut3 and was best known for her posts of danger alerts that pinpointed the location of violent incidents in real time. People sent her bits of information as a way for them to resist the hegemony of the cartels. She also wrote posts pleading with victims of crime not to remain silent, to file a police report even if it meant having to brave reprisals. She would post emergency telephone numbers as a way to try to help.

Understandably the narcos wanted to know the real identities of Felina and hercompañeros at Valor por Tamaulipas. A year and a half ago, a cartel had hundreds of leaflets distributed throughout Tamaulipas offering a reward of 600,000 pesos (about $48,000 at the time) for anyone who would divulge the names of the site’s administrators. At around the same time there were videos posted online of executions of individuals alleged to be contributors to the site. The founder shut it down and left the state, hoping that time away would diminish the danger. But when Valor por Tamaulipaswent back online the situation only intensified: The number of followers to the site quadrupled and the threats resumed.

Read more here.

bitterarab:

Ayad Brissam Karim, from Iraq, holds a picture of himself taken before his “accident.” US helicopters attacked the vegetable field where he played, leaving him blind in both eyes and with burns to his face. 

bitterarab:

Ayad Brissam Karim, from Iraq, holds a picture of himself taken before his “accident.” US helicopters attacked the vegetable field where he played, leaving him blind in both eyes and with burns to his face. 

MUST Read & Not Surprising: CIA Agents Reportedly Impersonated Senate Staffers While Torture Report Was Being Produced

By Kevin Gostzola via firedoglake

CIA agents “impersonated Senate staffers” while the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence was producing its report on the agency’s rendition, detention and interrogation program, according to Huffington Post.

“According to sources familiar with the CIA inspector general report that details the alleged abuses by agency officials,” journalists Ali Watkins and Ryan Grim reported, “CIA agents impersonated Senate staffers in order to gain access to Senate communications and drafts of the Intelligence Committee investigation.”

A source “familiar” with the inspector general report, which remains classified, told Huffington Post, “If people knew the details of what they actually did to hack into the Senate computers to go search for the torture document, jaws would drop. It’s straight out of a movie.”

But Watkins and Grim also quoted another unnamed source “familiar with the events surrounding the dispute between the CIA and Intelligence Committee,” who claimed the agency did not pose as staff to access drafts. Rather, “CIA simply attempted to determine if its side of the firewall could have been accessed through the Google search tool. CIA did not use administrator access to examine [Intelligence Committee] work product.”

In other words, agents did impersonate staffers but not to access a draft of the report. The agents wanted to see if staffers could access documents the CIA did not want them to be able to access.

Previously, Watkins was a national security reporter for McClatchy Newspapers. She and Jonathan Landay reported in July that CIA personnel had “improperly intruded into a protected database” used by the committee staff. In other words, the CIA engaged in hacking, which Senate Intelligence Committee chair Dianne Feinstein had alleged in a speech on the Senate floor.

What Watkins and Grim report from their source matches up perfectly with what Feinstein claimed. She suggested CIA employees had conducted searches of committee computers and the network in which they were operating.

The searches “involved not only a search of documents provided to the committee but also a search of the standalone and walled off committee network drive containing the committee’s own internal work product and communications.” But Feinstein did not make any claims about agents impersonating staffers.

At a national security summit in September, CIA Director John Brennan addressed this notion that the CIA had hacked into computers:

At the Council of Foreign Relations, Andrea Mitchell said: Did, in fact, CIA officers hack into the Senate computers to thwart the investigation on detention and interrogation – thwart the investigation hacking in?  No, we did not.  And I said, that’s beyond that scope of reason.  I also said during that same session that if our folks did something wrong, I’m going to make sure that they’re held to account.

And so I submitted this issue to our inspector general.  I said, I want to know exactly what CIA officers did.  And when the inspector general determined that, based on the common understanding between the CIA and the SSCI about this arrangement of computers, that our officers had improperly accessed it, even though these were supposedly CIA facilities, CIA computers and CIA had responsibility for the IT integrity of the system, that I apologized then to them for any improper access that was done, despite the fact we didn’t have a memorandum of agreement. [emphasis added]

That there was no “memorandum of agreement” and the CIA and Senate committee just had a “common understanding” is disingenuous. Feinstein declared on the Senate floor:

Per an exchange of letters in 2009, then-Vice Chairman Bond, then-Director [Leon] Panetta, and I agreed in an exchange of letters that the CIA was to provide a “stand-alone computer system” with a “network drive” “segregated from CIA networks” for the committee that would only be accessed by information technology personnel at the CIA—who would “not be permitted to” “share information from the system with other [CIA] personnel, except as otherwise authorized by the committee.”
It was this computer network that, notwithstanding our agreement with Director Panetta, was searched by the CIA this past January, and once before which I will later describe.

Certainly, impersonating Senate staffers to use Senate computer systems would not only grossly violate this agreement in writing but also constitute an espionage operation against the Senate.

As previously highlighted, the intrusion into Senate computers occurred as staffers had obtained access to a copy of an internal review prepared by Panetta that summarized documents provided to the committee for the study. The review was considered significant because it acknowledged parts of the Senate’s report, which the CIA now disputes.

CIA personnel electronically removed documents, which staffers were supposed to be able to access, at least twice in 2010. One of those documents was the internal Panetta review. When Brennan found out that Senate staffers had obtained a copy of this review, he ordered “further forensic investigation of the committee network to learn more about activities of the oversight staff.”

The CIA and Senate intelligence committee have been in a battle over censoring the 500-page executive summary for the report, which is to be released in some form. Pseudonyms, which were developed to protect CIA personnel, were redacted by the White House.

New Mexico Democratic Senator Martin Heinrich, one of a few senators who has been outspoken on the need for parts of this report to be released to the public, protested in a released statement, “Redactions are supposed to remove names or anything that could compromise sources and methods, not to undermine the source material so that it is impossible to understand. Try reading a novel with 15 percent of the words blacked out — it can’t be done properly.”

Thus, for months, the CIA and White House has managed to frustrate the release of a summary of the report.

Huffington Post has reported that White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough has been working behind the scenes to convince senators to not publicly criticize Brennan when the summary is finally released.

Adding another dollop of scandal to the mix, too, is the fact that McClatchy reported on October 16 the Senate intelligence committee chose not to assess whether former President George W. Bush and his top aides bear any responsibility for CIA torture. The committee also elected to not examine the “responsibility of top Bush administration lawyers in crafting the legal framework that permitted the CIA to use simulated drowning called waterboarding and other interrogation methods.”

What is a report on the use of torture in government if it only assesses the CIA but not how high-ranking officials in the Bush administration developed torture policies? How could this report, which caused $40 million and took over five years to produce, be regarded as anything more than a whitewash for former Bush officials who already have escaped prosecution for their conduct?

Despite whatever is revealed in the executive summary that may or may not be released soon, the fact that senators—and President Barack Obama’s administration—have been complicit in letting Bush officials off the hook is shameful.

Read more here:http://dissenter.firedoglake.com/2014/10/21/cia-agents-reportedly-impersonated-senate-staffers-while-torture-report-was-being-produced/

MUST Watch & I don’t believe it: New evidence changes Ferguson narrative.

via rtamerica

Evidence has emerged potentially proving Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson’s version of events in the shooting death of Michael Brown. Investigators found blood on Wilson’s gun and inside his police cruiser, with some believing this may be enough to change the dominant narrative surrounding the controversial incident that sparked nationwide protests and anger. RT’s Ameera David takes a look at the legal issues surrounding this new evidence with attorney Patrice Sulton of Sulton Law Offices.

MUST See & Rams fan disrespects Ferguson protestors, gets ass kicked in return: 
via Justice for Mike Brown FB Page
A Rams fan reportedly spit on a Ferguson protester after the team’s win today, and it was on after that.20 protesters gathered outside the Edward Jones Dome Sunday afternoon to protest the shooting of Michael Brown Jr.A fan leaving the Rams-Seahawks game stole an American flag that had been displayed upside down by the protesters punches were then thrown.Police said two protesters were arrested. No victims were transported to a hospital.So they arrest the protesters but not the fan for stealing the flag smh #Ferguson #ShawShooting #JusticeForMike

MUST See & Rams fan disrespects Ferguson protestors, gets ass kicked in return: 

via Justice for Mike Brown FB Page

A Rams fan reportedly spit on a Ferguson protester after the team’s win today, and it was on after that.

20 protesters gathered outside the Edward Jones Dome Sunday afternoon to protest the shooting of Michael Brown Jr.

A fan leaving the Rams-Seahawks game stole an American flag that had been displayed upside down by the protesters punches were then thrown.
Police said two protesters were arrested. No victims were transported to a hospital.

So they arrest the protesters but not the fan for stealing the flag smh 

#Ferguson 
#ShawShooting 

#JusticeForMike

UPDATE: About Jeremy Hammond: I have just received word Jeremy has been placed in solitary. That is all I know. I will update everyone with more information as I receive it.

MUST Read & This is why we need Worker’s Rights:

Doctor’s Letter Spells End of Job for Pregnant Employee

by Rachel L. Swarns via The New York Times (Photo credit: Uli Seit)

Angelica Valencia put the doctor’s note in her pocketbook and stepped out of her apartment in the early morning darkness. Then she started praying.

She prayed on the crowded buses and on the subway train that carried her from Queens into the Bronx to the potato-packing plant where she worked. “Please let me keep my job,” she repeated during her two-hour commute. “Please let everything work out.”

She punched in at 7:30 a.m. and handed her manager the note. Then Ms. Valencia, who was 39 and three months pregnant, went straight to work. Last year, she had a miscarriage. This time, her doctor said, she was once again high risk. No overtime, he ordered, just eight hours a day.

But it was the busy season at the Fierman Produce Exchange and her bosses had already told her she had to work overtime. So as Ms. Valencia sorted potatoes on that Aug. 8 morning, she worried: How would her supervisors respond to the doctor’s note? At the end of her shift, would she still have a job?

This month marks the first anniversary of the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, which was signed into law by former Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg on Oct. 2, 2013. The law, which went into effect in January, represents a big step forward for working women.

It requires employers to make reasonable accommodations for pregnant workers — such as providing rest and water breaks, modified work schedules and light duty – so long as the accommodations don’t cause undue hardship for the employer. Makes sense, right? It’s actually critical, particularly for low-income women who sometimes get pushed out of their jobs – and into poverty – when they become pregnant.

So this year, officials from the city’s Commission on Human Rights, which enforces the law, and advocates for women have been talking to business groups, doctors, nurses, union representatives and others to ensure that women know their rights and employers know their obligations under the statute.

But Ms. Valencia said her company never informed her of her rights, even though that is required. She had no idea that the law existed.

What Ms. Valencia did know was that she could not afford to lose her job. She had worked at Fierman Produce for three years. She earned $8.70 an hour, a salary that she and her husband, a driver for a private bus company, counted on to pay bills and cover expenses on their studio apartment in Corona, Queens.

With a baby on the way, that paycheck was even more precious.

“Now more than ever, I need to work,” she said.

But when Ms. Valencia told her supervisors in July that she had a high-risk pregnancy, they told her she could only work without restrictions, she said. After taking time off to try to negotiate an accommodation with the company, she returned when her coworkers volunteered to handle the heavy machinery and lifting.

In August, she said, her supervisors insisted that she work overtime. Ms. Valencia felt so ill after two lengthy shifts that she went to the hospital and then to her doctor, who gave her the letter that she handed to her boss.

The response from the company came at about 9:30 a.m., when she was handed a letter written by Bob Ferla, the operations manager.

“Unfortunately, we as a company are not able to allow you to continue work,” wrote Mr. Ferla, who warned that her high-risk pregnancy could put her “at risk” in a work environment that was fast-paced, very physical and involves machinery.

“Please understand we need a ‘full duty release’ from the doctor,” he added, if she wanted to continue to work.

Ms. Valencia said she begged her managers to excuse her from overtime as her doctor had recommended. She pointed out that the company’s busy season typically ended in September, and that overtime was rarely needed during the rest of the year.

But her managers insisted that she could not work without a full-duty medical clearance. So Ms. Valencia turned in her company identification and wept as she started the long commute home.

We know that the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act can make a difference. Talk to Sonica Smith, a pregnant sales associate at Zara, a clothing store, who recently negotiated regular breaks to rest and go to the bathroom. Talk to Floralba Fernandez Espinal, who was reinstated after being forced out of her job at a thrift shop.

Both women were represented by Dina Bakst, the co-president of A Better Balance, the legal advocacy group that now represents Ms. Valencia, who hopes to recoup the wages she lost.

Reached by phone on Friday, Mr. Ferla declined to comment, saying the matter had been referred to the company’s legal counsel.

So, for the moment, there is no happy ending to this column. And I can’t help but wonder how many other pregnant women are still being pushed out of jobs they desperately need.

But in Queens, Ms. Valencia is hopeful. She just found out that she’ll be having a baby girl. And she knows now that the law is on her side.

MUST Read: Updated Secret Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) - IP Chapter (second publication)

via https://wikileaks.org/

oday, Thursday 16 October 2014, WikiLeaks released a second updated version of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Intellectual Property Rights Chapter. The TPP is the world’s largest economic trade agreement that will, if it comes into force, encompass more than 40 per cent of the world’s GDP. The IP Chapter covers topics from pharmaceuticals, patent registrations and copyright issues to digital rights. Experts say it will affect freedom of information, civil liberties and access to medicines globally. The WikiLeaks release comes ahead of a Chief Negotiators’ meeting in Canberra on 19 October 2014, which is followed by what is meant to be a decisive Ministerial meeting in Sydney on 25–27 October.

Despite the wide-ranging effects on the global population, the TPP is currently being negotiated in total secrecy by 12 countries. Few people, even within the negotiating countries’ governments, have access to the full text of the draft agreement and the public, who it will affect most, none at all. Large corporations, however, are able to see portions of the text, generating a powerful lobby to effect changes on behalf of these groups and bringing developing country members reduced force, while the public at large gets no say. Julian Assange, WikiLeaks’ Editor-in-Chief, said:

The selective secrecy surrounding the TPP negotiations, which has let in a few cashed-up megacorps but excluded everyone else, reveals a telling fear of public scrutiny. By publishing this text we allow the public to engage in issues that will have such a fundamental impact on their lives.

The 77-page, 30,000-word document is a working document from the negotiations in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, dated 16 May 2014, and includes negotiator’s notes and all country positions from that period in bracketed text. Although there have been a couple of additional rounds of talks since this text, little has changed in them and it is clear that the negotiations are stalling and that the issues raised in this document will be very much on the table in Australia this month.

The last time the public got access to the TPP IP Chapter draft text was in November 2013 when WikiLeaks published the 30 August 2013 bracketed text. Since that point, some controversial and damaging areas have had little change; issues surrounding digital rights have moved little. However, there are significant industry-favouring additions within the areas of pharmaceuticals and patents. These additions are likely to affect access to important medicines such as cancer drugs and will also weaken the requirements needed to patent genes in plants, which will impact small farmers and boost the dominance of large agricultural corporations like Monsanto.

Nevertheless, some areas that were highlighted after WikiLeaks’ last IP Chapter release have seen alterations that reflect the controversy; surgical method patents have been removed from the text. Doctors’ groups said this was vitally important for allowing doctors to engage in medical procedures without fear of a lawsuit for providing the best care for their patients. Opposition is increasing to remove the provision proposed by the US and Japan that would require granting of patents for new drugs that are slightly altered from a previous patented one (evergreening), a technique by the pharmaceutical industry to prolong market monopoly.

The new WikiLeaks release of the May 2014 TPP IP text also has previously unseen addendums, including a new proposal for different treatment for developing countries, with varying transition periods for the text to take force. Whilst this can be viewed as an attempt to ease the onus of this harsh treaty on these countries, our diplomatic sources say it is a stalling tactic. The negative proposals within the agreement would still have to come into force in those countries, while the governments that brought them in would have changed.

Despite the United States wanting to push to a resolution within the TPP last year, this bracketed text shows there is still huge opposition and disagreement throughout the text. At this critical moment the negotiations have now stalled, and developing countries are giving greater resistance. Despite the huge lobbying efforts, and many favourable proposals for big pharmaceutical companies, they are not getting entirely what they wish for either. Julian Assange said:

The lack of movement within the TPP IP Chapter shows that this only stands to harm people, and no one is satisfied. This clearly demonstrates that such an all-encompassing and divisive trade agreement is too damaging to be brought into force. The TPP should stop now.

Current TPP negotiation member states are the United States, Japan, Mexico, Canada, Australia, Malaysia, Chile, Singapore, Peru, Vietnam, New Zealand and Brunei.


"If the machine of government is of such a nature that it requires you to be the agent of injustice to another, then, I say, break the law."
Henry David Thoreau  (via mirroir)

MUST Read: Latest TPP Leak Shows US Still Pushing Terrible DRM and Copyright Term Proposals—and New Threats Arise

Today Wikileaks published a new draft of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)’s intellectual property chapter. This draft text, from May 2014, gives us another look into the current state of negotiations over this plurilateral trade agreement’s copyright provisions since another draft was leaked last year. And what we’re seeing isn’t pretty. The TPP still contains text on DRMISP liabilitycopyright term lengths, and criminal enforcement measures, and introduces new provisions on trade secrets that have us worried.

Anti-Circumvention

Despite an over-abundance of evidence that laws punishing circumvention of DRM do far more harm than good, the USTR continues to press other countries to embrace the U.S.’s failed anti-circumvention policy. The leaked text suggest that some provisions have improved, but others have deteriorated. Although the leaked text does allow exceptions to the provision outlawing DRM circumvention, it suggests that these exceptions should be limited to specific cases “where there is an actual or likely adverse impact of those measures on those non-infringing uses, as determined through a legislative, regulatory, or administrative process.” We know how well the exemption process has worked to protect lawful uses here in the U.S. (it hasn’t). If we are going to pressure other countries to adopt our failed policies, the least we should do is let them have an relatively easy way to prevent those policies from crippling innovation and free expression. What is worse, it would likely impede countries from adopting laws (such as those of India, although that law is hardly a paragon) that provide a blanket exemption for DRM circumvention for lawful purposes.

Copyright Term

Whereas in the previous leak a coalition of countries had proposed that the TPP should allow them to retain full flexibility in determining the optimal length of their copyright term, that proposal has now been excised from the agreement—the only option now on the table is a provision that specifies a minimum term of years. How many years that should be, ranging from life plus 50 to life plus 100 years, remains undecided.

Equally troubling, there seems to be full agreement to limit countries from imposing conditions on any extended term after 50 years, which would go beyond the requirements ofinternational law, and preempt creative proposals aimed at helping overcome the orphan works problem, for example by requiring rightsholders to pay a $1 renewal fee to gain the benefit of any extended term of copyright protection.

Criminal Treatment of Trade Secrets

A new, more detailed provision on trade secrets introduces text that would criminalize the unauthorized, willful access of a trade secret held in a computer system, or the misappropriation or disclosure of a trade secret using a computer system. This text goes far beyond existing trade secrets law, which in the United States and other common law countries is usually a matter for the civil not the criminal courts. No public interest exception, such as for journalism, is provided. In practice, this could obligate countries into enacting a draconian anti-hacking law much like the Criminal Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) that was used to prosecute Aaron Swartz.

Liability and Enforcement

On ISP liability the text remains quite contested, and as such is shuffled into a “non-paper” at the end of the leaked text. This article provides ISPs with a safe harbor against liability for copyright infringements by users, which EFF supports as a general principle. But the sting is in the tail: protection from liability may be conditioned on ISPs participating in a DMCA-like notice and take-down regime, where allegedly infringing content is removed from the Internet without a court order (although Canada would limit the ISP’s responsibility to sending notices of claimed infringement rather than taking the material down).

Also still contested are the criminal enforcement provisions. The issue is whether users can be held criminally liable for copyright infringements conducted on a commercial scale, for commercial advantage or financial gain. In the November 2013 text, the text was more highly contested by all 12 TPP countries, but now most of the disagreement lies between the US and Canada. The US seeks a broader definition of a criminal copyright infringement, to even cover acts that are noncommercial, whereas Canada only wants to apply criminal remedies to cases where someone has infringed for commercial purposes. If the US gets its way, then criminal penalties will apply even against users who were not seeking financial gain from sharing or making available copyrighted works, such as fans and archivists. Such a broad definition is ripe for abuse.

Public Domain

It’s not all bad news. For the first time, the parties have reached agreement to include an articlerecording their recognition of “the importance of a rich and accessible public domain” and acknowledging “the importance of informational materials, such as publicly accessible databases of registered intellectual property rights that assist in the identification of subject matter that has fallen into the public domain.” But this is easy to say. We are more interested in how these words are backed up with actions, and this article of the agreement imposes no specific obligations.

The latest TPP leak confirms that the US Trade Representative is not backing down from exporting the most severe interpretations of US copyright law. As we’ve reiterated for years, TPP is just the latest cycle of policy laundering that takes advantage of the secretive, special-interest dominated negotiating forum of trade agreements in order to continue heightening copyright standards around the world. The only way to make practical, public-interest driven digital policy is for our policymakers to be held accountable. Backroom trade negotiations are the epitome of a defective, undemocratic rulemaking system. As long as special corporate interests dominate the agenda of our international digital policymaking fora, Internet users will not stand for such illegitimate regulations.