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Archive for February 5th, 2013|Daily archive page

Kuwait Top Court Upholds 10-Year Term for Tweeting Oppositionist

In News on February 5, 2013 at 9:02 PM


A Kuwaiti activist has been sentenced to ten years in jail by the country’s top court, for using Twitter “to insult the emir and call for the overthrow of the regime”, Kuwaiti media stated. Three other activists received three years in prison each.

The opposition activist, Orance Al-Rasheedi, was accused of using the social networking sites Twitter and YouTube to publicly insult the emir, and spreading false news about Kuwait to undermine the oil-rich country’s image, according to Al-Jarida newspaper.

The emir, Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad Al-Sabah, is protected against any criticism by the constitution of Kuwait.

The lower court had sentenced Rasheedi in October 2011. The court of appeals upheld the decision last May before it was finally confirmed by Kuwait’s Supreme Court and can no longer be challenged.

Also on Tuesday a Kuwaiti court sentenced three former opposition MPs to three years in prison for insulting the emir in public, according to attorney Mohammad al-Jumia.

The verdict against Khaled al-Tahus, Falah al-Sawwagh and Bader al-Dahum is three years each with immediate effect,” wrote the lawyer on his Twitter account.

The verdict is not final and can be challenged in the court of appeals and the Supreme Court.

The former lawmakers were charged with undermining the status of the emir during an address at a public gathering on October 10, in which they warned that any amendment to the electoral law could lead to street protests.

In the past several months Kuwait intensified its control on internet activists, who allegedly violate the country’s laws, especially since the opposition began to stage demonstrations and protests against amendments to the country’s voting rules. The opposition, in particular, has been challenging the government’s decision to dissolve parliament and calling to cancel the results of the new legislative elections.

Several other activists have already been jailed and more are awaiting trial.

On Monday, opposition youth activist Mohammad Eid al-Ajmi received five years of imprisonment for ‘insulting’ the emir on social media.

Earlier in January, Ayyad al Harbi and Rashed al Enezi were sentenced to two years in jail each on similar charges of defaming the emir of Kuwait. Both prisoners are awaiting appeals court rulings. Though Enezi did not mention the emir by name in the tweet, the court said that it was clear who he intended to insult.

More verdicts are expected in the forthcoming weeks on charges similar to the most recent indictments, lawyer and director of the Kuwait Society for Human Rights Mohammad al-Humaidi believes.

The opposition won a majority in the parliamentary elections held in Kuwait in February 2012. In June the Constitutional Court dissolved the legislative assembly and put back to work the parliament of 2009, considered by many to be loyal to the authorities. But amid mass protests the emir had to dissolve that parliament as well. New parliamentary elections were held December 1, 2012 amid a boycott by the opposition and low voter turnout. Despite this, the electoral commission declared the vote valid.

Via RT

Syrian Arrested After Ahmadinejad Shoe-Attack in Cairo

In News on February 5, 2013 at 8:46 PM



A Syrian has tried to attack Iranian President Ahmadinejad in front of Al-Hussein mosque in Cairo, Turkey’s Anatolia news agency reports. The leader is in the Egyptian capital on a visit.

The video taken by the news agency’s correspondent, shows a young man shouting at Ahmadinejad and trying to hit the presidents head with a shoe, instead striking one of his bodyguards.

The attacker, who attempted to hit President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as he left a mosque, is reported to be a young man with “a Syrian accent”. Egyptian security forces managed to seize and arrest the man following the incident.

The attacker was heard chanting anti-Iranian slogans for supporting the Syrian government, the news agency noted.

The Iranian leader’s three-day visit has been described as the latest sign of improved relations between the two countries after the 2011 uprising that ousted Egypt’s longtime ruler, President Hosni Mubarak and brought an Islamist government to power.

Following his arrival, the Iranian president and his Egyptian counterpart held a 20-minute talk focusing on the civil war in Syria, AP reported quoting unnamed security officials. Historically, both countries have stood opposed on the question of Syria, with Iran being Damascus’ closest regional ally and Egypt supporting calls for Syrian President Bashar Assad to step down.

Mahmud Ahmadinejad arrived in protest-stricken Cairo to attend the Islamic Solidarity Organization conference. It’s the first visit of an Iranian leader to Egypt since 1979.

Via RT

New Facebook App to Track Offline Users

In Archive, Big Brother, Facebook, Surveillance on February 5, 2013 at 8:40 PM


Those concerned about Facebook’s controversial privacy policies may have yet another reason to worry. The social network is reportedly developing a smartphone application which will track the location of its users – even when the app isn’t running.

The app is scheduled to be released in mid-March, two anonymous sources told Bloomberg.

It’s allegedly designed to help users find nearby friends by revealing those friends’ locations. But unlike Facebook’s current mobile app, which allows users to let others know where they are by “checking in” at a location, the new app would continuously follow the user once the program is activated.

The app would track user whereabouts in the “background” of Apple’s mobile operating system – even when the app isn’t open on the phone, one of the sources said. It remains unclear whether the app will run on other platforms.

It’s a technique that would likely require the social networking site to ask permission from users. But there’s a loophole – Facebook may have already gotten consent from its users to run the feature.

The app may fall under Facebook’s data policy – which tells users that a company may use location information “to tell you and your friends about people or events nearby, or to offer deals to you that you might be interested in.”

“When we get your GPS location, we put it together with other location information we have about you (like your current city)…but we only keep it until it is no longer useful to provide you services, like keeping your last GPS coordinates to send you relevant notifications,” the data use policy says.

The app isn’t drastically different from current applications, such as Apple’s “Find My Friends” and Math Camp Inc.’s “Highlight,” which constantly track user locations to help people find friends or places of interest.

When approached by Bloomberg to speak about the tracking application, Facebook Spokesman Derick Mains declined to comment.

Based on past precedents, the new app is bound to raise concern from users who value their privacy.

Facebook is no stranger to controversy surrounding its privacy settings. The site has already been under fire from US and European regulators, who claim it doesn’t do enough to keep user data private.

In early January, the EU pressured internet giants such as Facebook to boost personal security controls and limit the collection of data without users’ consent.

Last September, the site was forced to stop using its facial recognition software in Europe following an investigation by the Office of the Data Protection Commissioner in Ireland.

And now, the social network’s new “Graph Search” system – which is waiting to be tested – is raising red flags.

The system is designed to search Facebook for very specific information, such as ‘Friends who like Star Wars and Harry Potter’ and ‘Languages my friends speak.’

But after using the system, computer programmer and ‘Gadget Geek’ Tom Scott found the program can conduct much juicier searches.

For instance, it will easily find ‘Married people, who like prostitutes’ or ‘Current employers of people who like racism,’ Scott revealed in a blogpost.

News of the location tracking app comes less than one week after Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg emphasized the need for new mobile products during Facebook’s Fourth Quarter Earnings Conference Call, which was broadcast on the internet.

“A lot of what we had to do last year was simply to improve our mobile development process…the next thing we’re going to do is get really good at building new mobile-first experiences,” Zuckerberg said during the call.

And while this may, indeed, be a “mobile-first experience,” it remains unclear whether it’s an experience that Facebook users will actually want.

Via RT

Report: Globalizing Torture: CIA Secret Detention and Extraordinary Rendition

In News, Other Leaks on February 5, 2013 at 7:45 PM

February 2013

Following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the Central Intelligence Agency embarked on a highly classified program of secret detention and extraordinary rendition of terrorist suspects. The program was designed to place detainee interrogations beyond the reach of law. Suspected terrorists were seized and secretly flown across national borders to be interrogated by foreign governments that used torture, or by the CIA itself in clandestine “black sites” using torture techniques.

Globalizing Torture is the most comprehensive account yet assembled of the human rights abuses associated with CIA secret detention and extraordinary rendition operations. It details for the first time what was done to the 136 known victims, and lists the 54 foreign governments that participated in these operations. It shows that responsibility for the abuses lies not only with the United States but with dozens of foreign governments that were complicit.

More than 10 years after the 2001 attacks, Globalizing Torture makes it unequivocally clear that the time has come for the United States and its partners to definitively repudiate these illegal practices and secure accountability for the associated human rights abuses.

Via OpenSocietyFoundations

Related Links:

54 Countries Helped CIA to Kidnap, Detain and Torture

At Least 20 CIA Black Site Prisoners Still Missing

Taranis: UK’s New Supersonic Stealth Drone Can Select Its Own Targets

In Archive, Drones, Military on February 5, 2013 at 7:25 PM


The UK is preparing to test a new supersonic stealth drone, seen as the next generation of front line bomber. Named after the Celtic god Taranis, the unmanned aircraft can evade radar and select its own targets. But as RT’s Sara Firth reports, experts are nervous about the beginning of ‘robot wars’.

Related Link: DARPA’s 1.8 Gigapixel ARGUS-IS: World’s Highest Resolution Surveillance System

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