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Democracy Now! 2016-06-07 Tuesday

Democracy Now! BitTorrents -

Headlines for June 07, 2016; "Highly Inappropriate": Sanders Backer Slams AP, NBC for Calling Democratic Race Before Today's Vote; California Senate President: Trump is a "Very Dangerous Man" for Denying Climate Change, Drought; Sanders or Clinton? Two Progressive California Lawmakers Debate Ahead of Today’s Vote; California Senate President: Trump's Attack on Federal Judge is Racist, Anti-Immigrant; Why Is Black Lives Matter Activist Facing Four Years in Jail While Stanford Rapist Gets Six Months?; Will Decision to Call Race a Day Before Primary Deter Californians from Voting in Key Race?

Democracy Now! 2016-06-07 Tuesday

Democracy Now! Videos -

Democracy Now! 2016-06-07 Tuesday
  • Headlines for June 07, 2016
  • "Highly Inappropriate": Sanders Backer Slams AP, NBC for Calling Democratic Race Before Today's Vote
  • California Senate President: Trump is a "Very Dangerous Man" for Denying Climate Change, Drought
  • Sanders or Clinton?:Two Progressive California Lawmakers Debate Ahead of Today’s Vote
  • California Senate President: Trump's Attack on Federal Judge is Racist, Anti-Immigrant
  • Why Is Black Lives Matter Activist Facing Four Years in Jail While Stanford Rapist Gets Six Months?
  • Will Decision to Call Race a Day Before Primary Deter Californians from Voting in Key Race?

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Homofaciens planetary rover

Raspberry Pi -

Norbert “Homofaciens” Heinz is a long-time Friend of Pi (you may know him as That Guy with the Amazing Voice). His videos, available in both German and English, showcase some brilliantly imaginative engineering, and we’re always excited whenever a new one comes out. (You’ll see several featured on this blog.)

Homofaciens’ rover goes for a trundle

The Homofaciens website is intended to educate and enthuse people about technology and making. One of the ways you can engage with Norbert’s creations is via the Robospatium, a space in the roof of his house where he leaves a selection of web-enabled robots for people to control and explore via an interface on his website.

Norbert says:

The RoboSpatium is a place where you can operate my camera equipped robots. The name is derived from the words Robot (Slawic: “robota”, for “forcedlabor” or “socage”) and Spatium (Latin word for “space”). The spatium, thus the robot space is (most of the time) located above me and it is furnished with things I have treated at the column technology. Besides those things, there is some more stuff arranged there which can be observed live (well, with a few seconds delay) and colored with the help of my mechanical servants. It is some kind of playground for scientists, students or pupils – so have fun!

The RoboSpatium is successful, but limited in scope because it’s stuck in one room. So Norbert’s decided to broaden the project’s horizons – by sending one of his robots, still controllable via a web interface, on a world tour.

Here is an absolutely charming video from Norbert to tell you what the project (which he’s funding via Indiegogo) is all about:

YouTube

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The rover will, if this all works out, be sent from location to location around the world, seeking out new life and civilisations and all that good stuff. You can support Homofaciens’ Indiegogo here – and if you’ve a little time to spare today, spend some time on his website, where you’ll find plenty to amuse and surprise.

 

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Perfect End to Democratic Primary: Anonymous Superdelegates Declare Winner Through Media

The Intercept -

Last night, Associated Press – on a day when nobody voted – surprised everyone by abruptly declaring the Democratic Party primary over and Hillary Clinton the victor. The decree, issued the night before the California primary in which polls show Clinton and Bernie Sanders in a very close race, was based on the media organization’s survey of “superdelegates”: the Democratic Party’s 720 insiders, corporate donors and officials whose votes for the presidential nominee count the same as the actually elected delegates. AP claims that superdelegates who had not previously announced their intentions privately told AP reporters that they intend to vote for Clinton, bringing her over the threshold. AP is concealing the identity of the decisive superdelegates who said this.

Although the Sanders campaign rejected the validity of AP’s declaration – on the ground that the superdelegates do not vote until the convention and he intends to try to persuade them to vote for him – most major media outlets followed the projection and declared Clinton the winner.

This is the perfect symbolic ending to the Democratic Party primary: The nomination is consecrated by a media organization, on a day when nobody voted, based on secret discussions with anonymous establishment insiders and donors whose identities the media organization – incredibly – conceals. The decisive edifice of superdelegates is itself anti-democratic and inherently corrupt: designed to prevent actual voters from making choices that the party establishment dislikes. But for a party run by insiders and funded by corporate interests, it’s only fitting that their nomination process ends with such an ignominious, awkward and undemocratic sputter.

None of this is to deny that Hillary Clinton – as was always the case from the start – is highly likely to be the legitimately chosen winner of this process. It’s true that the party’s governing rules are deliberately undemocratic; unfair and even corrupt decisions were repeatedly made by party officials to benefit Clinton; and the ostensibly neutral Democratic National Committee (led by the incomparably heinous Debbie Wasserman Schultz) constantly put not just its thumb but its entire body on the scale to ensure she won. But it’s also true that under the long-standing rules of the Party, more people who voted preferred Clinton as their nominee over Sanders. Independent of superdelegates, she just got more votes. There’s no denying that.

And just as was true in 2008 with Obama’s nomination, it should be noted that standing alone – i.e., without regard to the merits of the candidate – Clinton’s nomination is an important and positive milestone. Americans, being Americans, will almost certainly overstate its world significance and wallow in excessive self-congratulations: many countries on the planet have elected women as their leaders, including many whose close family member had not previously served as president. Nonetheless, the U.S. presidency still occupies an extremely influential political and cultural position in the world. Particularly for a country with such an oppressive history on race and gender, the election of the first African-American president and nomination of the first female presidential candidate of a major party is significant in shaping how people all over the world, especially children, view their own and other people’s potential and possibilities. But that’s all the more reason to lament this dreary conclusion.

That the Democratic Party nominating process is declared to be over in such an uninspiring, secretive, and elite-driven manner is perfectly symbolic of what the party, and its likely nominee, actually is. The one positive aspect, though significant, is symbolic, while the actual substance – rallying behind a Wall-Street-funded, status-quo-perpetuating, multi-millionaire militarist – is grim in the extreme. The Democratic Party got exactly the ending it deserved.

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The post Perfect End to Democratic Primary: Anonymous Superdelegates Declare Winner Through Media appeared first on The Intercept.

Random 'The operation has timed out' errors in JSON-RPC

Bitcoin feeds -

I run Bitcoin Core QT and ASP.NET website on the same webserver. My website communicates with Bitcoin Core QT via JSON-RPC. There are hundreds of requests behind the scenes. Sometimes a request finishes with The operation has timed out exception. What is wrong with it? This unstable behavior is (...)

Facing Data Deluge, Secret U.K. Spying Report Warned of Intelligence Failure

The Intercept -

A secret report warned that British spies may have put lives at risk because their surveillance systems were sweeping up more data than could be analyzed, leading them to miss clues to possible security threats.

The concern was sent to top British government officials in an explosive classified document, which outlined methods being developed by the United Kingdom’s domestic intelligence agency to covertly monitor internet communications.

The Security Service, also known as MI5, had become the “principal collector and exploiter” of digital communications within the U.K., the eight-page report noted, but the agency’s surveillance capabilities had “grown significantly over the last few years.”

MI5 “can currently collect (whether itself or through partners …) significantly more than it is able to exploit fully,” the report warned. “This creates a real risk of ‘intelligence failure’ i.e. from the Service being unable to access potentially life-saving intelligence from data that it has already collected.”

A draft copy of the report, obtained by The Intercept from National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden, is marked with the classification “U.K. Secret” and dated February 12, 2010. It was prepared by British spy agency officials to brief the government’s Cabinet Office and Treasury Department about the U.K.’s surveillance capabilities.

Notably, three years after the report was authored, two Islamic extremists killed and attempted to decapitate a British soldier, Lee Rigby, on a London street. An investigation into the incident found that the two perpetrators were well-known to MI5, but the agency had missed significant warning signs about the men, including records of phone calls one of them had made to an al Qaeda-affiliated radical in Yemen, and an online message in which the same individual had discussed in graphic detail his intention to murder a soldier.

The new revelations raise questions about whether problems sifting through the troves of data collected by British spies may have been a factor in the failure to prevent the Rigby killing. But they are also of broader relevance to an ongoing debate in the U.K. about surveillance. In recent months, the British government has been trying to pass a new law, the Investigatory Powers Bill, which would grant MI5 and other agencies access to more data.

Silkie Carlo, a policy officer at the London-based human rights group Liberty, told The Intercept that the details contained in the secret report highlighted the need for a comprehensive independent review of the proposed new surveillance powers.

“Intelligence whistleblowers have warned that the agencies are drowning in data — and now we have it confirmed from the heart of the U.K. government,” Carlo said. “If our agencies have risked missing ‘life-saving intelligence’ by collecting ‘significantly’ more data than they can analyze, how can they justify casting the net yet wider in the toxic Investigatory Powers Bill?”

The British government’s Home Office, which handles media requests related to MI5, declined to comment for this story.

“Lack of staff and tools”

The leaked report outlines efforts by British agencies to conduct both “large-scale” and “small-scale” eavesdropping of domestic communications within the U.K. It focuses primarily on an MI5 program called DIGINT, or digital intelligence, which was aimed at transforming the agency’s ability to covertly monitor internet communications.

DIGINT was established for counterterrorism purposes, and “more generally for wider national security purposes,” the report said. The program was described as being focused on “the activities of key investigative targets, and on those exploitation activities that will drive greatest investigative benefits with respect to U.K. domestic threats.”

The amount of data being collected, however, proved difficult for MI5 to handle. In March 2010, in another secret report, concerns were reiterated about the agency’s difficulties processing the material it was harvesting. “There is an imbalance between collection and exploitation capabilities, resulting in a failure to make effective use of some of the intelligence collected today,” the report noted. “With the exception of the highest priority investigations, a lack of staff and tools means that investigators are presented with raw and unfiltered DIGINT data. Frequently, this material is not fully assessed because of the significant time required to review it.”

97 percent of the calls, messages, and data the program had collected were found to have been “not viewed” by the authorities.

The problem was not unique to MI5.

Many of the agency’s larger-scale surveillance operations were being conducted in coordination with the National Technical Assistance Centre, a unit of the electronic eavesdropping agency Government Communications Headquarters, better known as GCHQ.

The Centre plays a vital but little-known role. One of its main functions is to act as a kind of intermediary, managing the highly sensitive data-sharing relationships that exist among British telecommunications companies and law enforcement and spy agencies.

Perhaps the most important program the Centre helps deliver is code-named PRESTON, which covertly intercepts phone calls, text messages, and internet data sent or received by people or organizations in the U.K. who have been named as surveillance targets on warrants signed off by a government minister.

A top-secret 2009 study found that, in one six-month period, the PRESTON program had intercepted more than 5 million communications. Remarkably, 97 percent of the calls, messages, and data it had collected were found to have been “not viewed” by the authorities.

The authors of the study were alarmed because PRESTON was supposedly focused on known suspects, and yet most of the communications it was monitoring appeared to be getting ignored — meaning crucial intelligence could have been missed.

“Only a small proportion of the Preston Traffic is viewed,” they noted. “This is of concern as the collection is all warranted.”

Chart: A top-secret study outlines PRESTON data collection by month.

“Politically contentious”

For most of the last decade, successive British governments have attempted to obtain more surveillance powers, but their efforts have met with public opposition and ultimately failed. The present government’s effort to push through a sweeping surveillance law — the Investigatory Powers Bill — is currently being considered by the Parliament.

Documents provided by Snowden show that the U.K.’s intelligence and security agencies have wanted to obtain new powers to store domestic data about internet communications to address the “growing range of services available to internet users.” This reflects the position that has been adopted publicly in recent years by the government, which has argued that expanded internet surveillance is necessary to keep up with changes in technology.

However, the Snowden documents also reveal a more candid internal assessment of the need for bolstered spy laws and shine light on major aspects of the U.K.’s existing surveillance apparatus that government and security officials have not publicly acknowledged in their pursuit of the new powers.

In one document dated from 2012, GCHQ stated that it was “not dependent” on a new surveillance law coming into force, presumably due to the extensive capabilities already at its disposal. GCHQ added that new powers were of greater importance to the U.K.’s law enforcement agencies, which were facing “a significant decline” in ability to intercept communications due to people increasingly using internet services — as opposed to conventional landlines and cellphones — to talk or exchange messages.

But passing a new surveillance law would be a “politically contentious [and] technically complex” process, GCHQ said in the document. In the meantime, therefore, it devised something of a workaround by creating a secret stop-gap surveillance solution for law enforcement officials.

As part of a program named MILKWHITE, GCHQ made some of its huge troves of metadata about people’s online activities accessible to MI5, London’s Metropolitan Police, the tax agency Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs, the Serious Organized Crime Agency (now merged into the National Crime Agency), the Police Service of Northern Ireland, and an obscure Scotland-based surveillance unit called the Scottish Recording Centre.

Metadata reveals information about communications — such as the sender and recipient of an email, or the phone numbers someone called and at what time — but not the written content of the message or the audio of the call. GCHQ’s definition of metadata is broad and also encompasses location data that can be used to track people’s movements, login passwords, and website browsing histories, as The Intercept has previously revealed.

The MILKWHITE program was developed as early as September 2009, and it seems to have been operational under both the Labour and the Conservative-Liberal Democrat governments of that period. One of its purposes was to allow law enforcement agencies and MI5 to sift through the troves of metadata to discover internet “selectors” for their surveillance targets — meaning unique identifiers, such as a username or IP address, that can be used to home in on and monitor a person’s online activities.

“It now appears it has been ‘business as usual’ for the tax man to access mass internet data for years.”

GCHQ focuses primarily on intercepting foreign communications that are “external” to the U.K. But in the process of doing so — by tapping into international cables that carry phone calls and internet traffic between countries — the agency vacuums up large quantities of data on British calls, emails, and web browsing habits, too. It is this British data — some of which appears to have been made accessible through MILKWHITE — that would be of most interest to MI5, police, and tax officers, as it is their role to conduct “internal” investigations within the U.K.

A GCHQ document dated from late 2010 indicated that MILKWHITE was storing data about people’s usage of smartphone chat apps like WhatsApp and Viber, instant messenger services such as Jabber, and social networking websites, including Facebook, MySpace, and LinkedIn. Access to the data was provided to law enforcement through an “internet data unit” hosted by the Serious Organized Crime Agency and it was accessible to tax investigators through what one GCHQ document described as established “business as usual” channels.

By March 2011, GCHQ noted that there was “increasing customer demand” for the service offered by MILKWHITE and the agency planned to grow its capacity, seeking £20.8 million ($30.6 million) to update the program’s “advanced analytics” capabilities and to maintain its “bulk” storage of metadata records. “Bulk” is a term GCHQ uses to refer to large troves of data that are not focused on individual targets; rather, they include millions and in some cases billions of records about ordinary people’s communications and internet activity.

Carlo, the policy analyst with Liberty, said the revelations about MILKWHITE suggested members of Parliament had been misled about how so-called bulk data is handled. “While MPs have been told that bulk powers have been used only by the intelligence community, it now appears it has been ‘business as usual’ for the tax man to access mass internet data for years,” she said. “This vindicates the warnings of security experts and the call by opposition parties for an urgent, independent review of bulk powers. The compromise review recently announced is a poor substitute and without the time and technical expertise, will struggle to address this issue of national importance.”

GCHQ declined to answer questions for this story. A spokesperson for the agency said in a statement: “It is long-standing policy that we do not comment on intelligence matters. Furthermore, all of GCHQ’s work is carried out in accordance with a strict legal and policy framework, which ensures that our activities are authorized, necessary and proportionate, and that there is rigorous oversight, including from the Secretary of State, the Interception and Intelligence Services Commissioners and the Parliamentary Intelligence and Security Committee. All our operational processes rigorously support this position. In addition, the U.K.’s interception regime is entirely compatible with the European Convention on Human Rights.”

 

Documents published with this article:

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