Friday, March 18, 2011

Rounding Up The News: Japan, Libya, Washington DC And Other Hot Spots.

Rounding Up The News: Japan, Libya, Washington DC And Other Hot Spots.

Virginia Senate Race Verging Toward Tim Kaine vs. George Allen
Huffington Post
Virginia's new right wing evangelical Pat Robertson trained Govenor will insure the candidate farthest to the religious right gets the seat period. Dems should write Va off for the forseeable future and concentrate on real America and not a state ...See all stories on this topic »

Right-Wing Media Aghast Obama Can Focus On More Than One Issue At A Time
Media Matters for America
The right-wing media have attacked President Obama for supposedly not focusing on crises in Japan and Libya by instead honoring women's history month, going golfing, and filling out NCAA tournament brackets. Yet, Obama has engaged on both issues by ...See all stories on this topic »

Right-wing pundits show how not to react to a catastrophe
With such an overwhelming demand for coverage, pundits struggle to find a fresh angle, and some have come off sounding downright disdainful. A small collection ofright-wing pundits have put on a master class these past few days in saying precisely the ...See all stories on this topic »

10:10  Jack Balkin , director, of The Information Society Project at Yale Law School, .on Obama, Manning:  "It's worth noting that if Private Manning were a prisoner of war, his treatment at the hands of the Obama Administration would violate the Geneva Conventions; indeed, if he were an non-uniformed enemy combatant, his treatment would probably violate Common Article III. Apparently, President Obama has gone Attorney General Alberto Gonzales one better. Not only must he believe that the protections of the Geneva Conventions are quaint, he must also think the same of the Bill of Right at least as applied to leakers--or at least, leakers whom the President and his associates did not authorize."
9:40  WL Central:  Did The Guardian "censor" a key cable from Bulgaria on organized crime control of the government there?  In an ycase, more of truth emerging.
6:40  My book The Age of WikiLeaks: From Collateral Murder to Cablegate (and Beyond) is now updated, also includes full story on Bradley Manning since his arrest, in print or as an e-book.  Hailed by Dan Ellsberg, Glenn Greenwald, others.
6:00 Important initiative by the Icelandic MP Birgitta Jonsdottir (the former WikiLeaker who lost key case involving Twitter forced to turn over personal info to the U.S. Dept of Justice). "All of who care for freedom of information, speech and expression should be thankful for the recent ruling in my Twitter case. Thankful because it exposes the reality in which we live. The judge’s ruling exposed the blatant truth: that users of the Internet and social media sites hosted in the USA do NOT have any rights as individuals to defend themselves against the tyranny of authorities wanting to use the information we share and often consider private. Emails, conversations, messaging and social networking are now fair game for the 'thought police.'   It is good that we know that this is how the court system in the land of the free views our rights, because now we can do something about regaining those rights!
"I am calling for a joint action to demand that all social media sites that host our information in the USA will notify all of their users that they don’t have any rights to defend themselves except through these sites but not as individuals. I want to know if Facebook, Google and Twitter are willing battle for every one of us against unwarranted and sometimes secret demands to our information from the U.S. government. If they can’t make that pledge we will either leave them or ask them to change users’ terms or demand that authorities recognize our rights to defend ourselves....
"In the next few days I will work to gather as many as supporters as possible to be part of this joint action for our rights as users of social media. It will be an effort to our privacy rights and the right to defend our personal content online. Drop me an email if you have ideas on how to take this further so we may make a shockwave of change."
4:15  An update from Parmy Olson (see below) on the military "sock puppet" scandal.   Meanwhile, Congress asks DoD to hand over all info on their contracts with HBGary and related. 
1:55 Parmy Olson at her Forbes blog with more on the U.S. military "sock puppetry" involving social media that we've covered below.   Includes:  " Anonymous adviser Barrett Brown claimed on the group’s Radio Payback showearlier today that the software had led to rebels in Azerbaijan, where Booz Allen has offices, getting arrested. The software creates 'rmies of fake people' through social media sites like Facebook, he said, which results in identifying dissidents with anonymous profiles, a method also known as astroturfing."
1:40  Glenn Greenwald and Scott Shane of NYT on NPR today talking Manning.
12:35  Andy Greenberg, who has produced a lot of valuable WikiLeaks stuff at his Forbes blog, does it again withan interview with Adrian Lamo--the convicted hacker who turned in Bradley Manning but now tells Greenberg that he would have leaked the Collateral Murder video, too.  He adds that if Manning had just done that he would have never snitched on him. Lamo still says he has no regrets about turning in Manning and also questions that he is really being treated badly in prison.
12:20  One of the protestors who "stripped for Manning" in D.C. last week responds to Dana Milbank's ridicule.
11:50  We mentioned an Anonymous claim about this earlier today (see below) -- and Raw Story covered it on February 22 -- but  now The Guardian with major piece on U.S. military "sock puppet" plan for social networks.  "The U.S. military  is developing software that will let it secretly manipulate social media using fake online personas designed to influence internet conversations and spread pro-American propaganda.  A Californian corporation has been awarded a contract with the US Central Command (Centcom) to develop what is described as an 'online persona management service'  that will allow one serviceman or woman to control up to 10 separate identities at once." 
Jeff Jarvis comments: "The US government's plan to use technology to create and manage fake identities for social interaction with terrorists is as appalling as it is amusing. It's appalling that in this era of greater transparency and accountability brought on by the internet, the US of all countries would try to systematise sock puppetry. It's appallingly stupid, for there's little doubt that the fakes will be unmasked. The net result of that will be the diminution, not the enhancement, of American credibility."
10:30   NYT and exec ed Bill Keller get annual Payne Award for journalistic ethics for handling of WikiLeaks.  They are hailed for treading Assange as "a source" and not a "partner" (not exactly true) and for showing all of the cables it planned to  publish  to the State Dept. and other agencies before using them (even though this led to some questionable editing of some, and kill others). And Keller later dumped on source/partner Assange.
10:25  Terrific "Wikileaks and the Law" panel March 21, 6 p.m. NYC, now moderated by Micah Sifry. Get tix here. 
9:50  Keith Olbermann at his new Fok News Channel site notes, "We are now at this stage in the life of our country and our world: WikiLeaks revealed that the Japanese Government was warned three years ago that earthquake preparedness at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant was dangerously insufficient.   Naturally, the leaders of the world are – or wish to start – prosecuting WikiLeaks, and not the Japanese Government.....And our government, inour name, continues both to seek ways to prosecute WikiLeaks, and to stick by the President’s ludicrous 2009 suggestion that we accelerate our national Nuclear Power program."
9:45 State Dept spokesman forced out for Manning comment returns to Twitter (although it got him in some other trouble in past):  @ PJCrowley: "I am humbled by the support and encouragement. I will keep tweeting on global issues."   His profile is now empty except for Washington, D.C. location. 
9:10  Ann Clwyd MP again raised the issue of Bradley Manning  in the House of Commons this morning, formally requesting that a debate be held on his  treatment. She  noted that the case bore some similarities to the treatment “meted out” to Guantanamo Bay inmates.  Sir George Young, Leader of the House of Commons, responded that he understood the concerns expressed by Ann Clwyd – concerns that are “widely shared.”
8:40  More foreign intrigue due to WikiLeaks:  Mexico's president REALLY wants U.S. ambassador out of his country.  "Mexican President Felipe Calderon is waging a harsh campaign against the U.S. ambassador here, repeatedly demanding over the past month that he be replaced in a tiff that has strained ties between the two countries. Calderon is barely on speaking terms with U.S. Ambassador Carlos Pascual, whom he has said publicly he doesn't trust. Analysts say Calderon's anger stems from both Pascual's views critical of Mexico contained in secret U.S. diplomatic cables released by the WikiLeaks website and the divorced ambassador's selection of a girlfriend - the daughter of a key opposition legislator." 
7:15  Anonymous press release claims that the U.S. military  "is developing a piece of software that can infiltrate Facebook and other social networks using an army of fake profiles, cross-referencing information to 'track and identify' individuals.  Evidence of the software - code-named 'Metal Gear' by the group - was uncovered in leaked emails belonging to US security contractor HBGary, after the company was attacked by Anonymous for providing assistance to the FBI in unmasking its members."
6:50  Wash Post covers the crisis in India over cables (and see below).
6:45  India in "turmoil" over latest WikiLeaks cables.  "National Democratic Alliance (NDA) leader L.K. Advani on Thursday asked Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to quit 'forthwith' and said he had lost the right to govern after leaked US cables revealed that the Congress paid money to opposition MPs to win a parliament trust vote in 2008.  'The NDA demands that this government has no moral right to continue and it should quit,' the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) senior leader told reporters here as parliament plunged into turmoil over the WikiLeaks cables carried by The Hindu Thursday.  Accusing the Congress-led government of 'political immorality', the former deputy prime minister said: 'UPA I survived on the strength of political sin. The PM has no moral authority or legitimacy to lead the country."
6:35  Human Rights Watch: U.S. must explain treatment of Manning.  And another newspaper protests abuse of Bradley Manning, the Oregonian of Portland.  "Naked Abuse."
12:00  We've covered the enormity of the release of 5100 cables on India this week -- giant impact over there, if not here -- and more now in these assessments.  Abnd don't miss this one about Indian politicians admitting they bought votes with "cash tucked inside newspapers."
Late Wednesday
11:25  Check out this great NYT non-corrective correction  (meaning it's merely "for the record") over its editorial today hitting military on Manning detention.  Pentagon obviously complained but TImes, more or less, sticks to its guns on "solitary" and "nudity," while pointing out some qualfiers.
11:15  SF Chronicle latest of slew of major papers in U.S. this week to rip military over handling of Manning.   At this rate, even the NY Post and WSJ will come to his defense.
8:45  After success of that funding drive (small donations) for a WikiLeaks billboard in L.A., now similar effort for Chicago.
6:50  WikiLeaks watchers have been  pushing Bob Woodward, who has been very quiet on this,  to say more about WikiLeaks -- given the many classified leaks he has published -- and now he has, via an appearanceat Poynter.     He sort of questions what the big deal is, while also praising the NYT and not Assange:  "I think some of that information is important, but it’s oversold. It’s not a deep revelation about high-level decision making, but it’s got some good stuff in it. … To The New York Times’ credit, I think they persuaded WikiLeaks to not just dump everything out but to vet it and see if it was going to do damage, get people killed …”  See other quotes related to modern day reporting, the Web, anonymity, more.
6:00  More cables released with connection to nuclear disaster, this time covered by ABC News.  "Months after a senior Japanese International Atomic Energy Agency official urged better safety procedures at nuclear plants around the world to 'avoid another Chernobyl,' another IAEA official said that earthquakes presented a 'serious problem'  to nuclear plant safety,  according to a recently released U.S. State Department cable.....Other leaked U.S. State Department documents, published by the website WikiLeaks, show the U.S. had little confidence in Taniguchi, who was at the time the head of the IAEA's Department of Nuclear Safety and Security. " 
4:45  The ex-Bank of America who leaked alleged documents early yesterday via an Anonymous operator now writes an "open letter" to the public--and those at BOA "plotting against me" -- urging them to ignore the "hype" and lies that some in media have spread about him.
4:35  In a significant event, the ACLU has just released letter sent to Secretary of Defense Gates calling the military's treatment of Bradley Manning "cruel and unusual."   It concludes:  "President Obama recently stated that Private Manning’s conditions comply with the Pentagon’s 'basic standards.'  Given that those standards apparently permit Private Manning to be subjected to plainly unconstitutional conditions, it is clear that the Department of Defense must adapt its standards to meet the demands of the Constitution. We ask that you take immediate steps to ensure that Private Manning is treated lawfully and humanely."
From the ACLU release: "In a letter sent today to Defense Secretary Robert Gates, the American Civil Liberties Union charged the 'gratuitously harsh treatment' to which the Department of Defense is subjecting Pfc. Bradley Manning in military custody is in clear violation of the U.S. Constitution’s prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment and serves no purpose other than to degrade, humiliate and traumatize him."

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