Daily Archives: 16/02/2011

( TRIPOLI (Reuters) – Hundreds of people clashed with police and government supporters overnight in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi, a witness and local media said, in a rare show of unrest in the oil exporting country.

Libya has been tightly controlled by leader Muammar Gaddafi for over 40 years but has also felt the ripples from popular revolts in its neighbors Egypt and Tunisia.

Libyan state television said that rallies were held in the early hours of Wednesday morning across the country in support of Gaddafi, who is Africa’s longest serving leader.

Reports from Benghazi, about 1,000 km (600 miles) east of the Libyan capital, indicated the city was now calm but that overnight, protesters armed with stones and petrol bombs had set fire to vehicles and fought with police.

The protesters were angry about the arrest of a human rights campaigner and demanded his release. Read More

( Iranian security forces should stop using teargas and batons to disperse peaceful crowds gathered in support of the popular movements in Egypt and Tunisia, Human Rights Watch said today. The authorities should also release opposition leaders and activists arbitrarily detained, and permit the free flow of communications channels, Human Rights Watch said.

On February 14, 2011, demonstrations took place throughout Iran after authorities conducted a wave of arrests against opposition activists, placed the opposition leaders Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi under house arrest, and clamped down telephone and satellite communications and the internet. Initial reports from Tehran and other cities indicate that police, anti-riot police, and plainclothes officers attacked demonstrators, including physical assaults and the use of teargas and batons, to break up crowds, silence people chanting anti-government slogans, and prevent protesters from taking photos. Numerous demonstrators were injured, witnesses told Human Rights Watch. There are also reports of numerous arrests. Read More

(The Electronic Intifada) CAIRO (IPS) – Before his ouster on Friday, toppled Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak had made one of the biggest mistakes of his reign: not learning from the lessons of hundreds of small labor and professional strikes that littered the country since 2005. These were the actual precursors to the 25 January Revolution that end his thirty-year autocratic rule.

“We were lucky that the regime failed in its arrogance and aloofness to draw lessons from the many strikes and protests over the past five years,” said Mohammed Fathy, 46, a labor activist in Mahala, whose bid for office in the government-sponsored General Labor Union was stifled because of his anti-regime views.

“We were even luckier that they didn’t understand that there were genuine economic, professional and labor grievances, especially here in Mahala on 6 April 2008.” Read More

(The Ecologist) In an exclusive extract from his new book, World on the Edge, Lester Brown outlines fresh ways of thinking about water and land use in order to sustain the world’s growing population

Prior to 1950, growth of the food supply came almost entirely from expanding cropland area. Then as frontiers disappeared and population growth accelerated after World War II, the focus quickly shifted to raising land productivity. In the most spectacular achievement in world agricultural history, farmers doubled the grain harvest between 1950 and 1973. Stated otherwise, growth in the grain harvest during this 23-year-span matched that of the preceding 11,000 years.
This was the golden age of world agriculture. Since then, growth in world food output has been gradually losing momentum as the backlog of unused agricultural technology dwindles, as soil erodes, as the area of cultivable land shrinks, and as irrigation water becomes scarce. Read More

(AlJazeera) Three people killed in clashes with security forces as protesters break into public offices and set buildings on fire.

Three people have been killed and dozens wounded in clashes between security forces and protesters in a southern Iraqi province, after around 2,000 people attacked government offices in protest over poor services.

Protesters took threw rocks and took over a provincial council building in Kut in Wasit province, about 160km southeast of Baghdad, on Wednesday. Three government buildings were set on fire, including the governor’s official residence.

A police source in Kut said three protesters were killed in clashes and about 30 wounded, including 15 policemen. A hospital source said one of the dead was a 16-year-old boy who suffered a bullet to the chest.

Punishment pledged

Officials said policemen and soldiers fired their weapons into the air in a bid to dissuade protesters, while private security guards employed by Wasit council opened fire directly into the crowd.

“Those were private guards, only they fired at the protesters. They were outside the law,” police Brigadier General Hussein Jassim told AFP. “Our forces only fired into the air.”

Major Mohammed Saleh, the senior police intelligence officer in Kut, said: “Measures will be taken against the private guards but after the situation has calmed down.”

Demonstrators are demanding Latif Hamad al-Tarfa, the provincial governor, resign over poor basic services such as electricity and water.

They held up placards that said, “To all citizens: Electricity is only for officials”, a reference to Iraq’s dramatic shortfall in power provision.

“We demand that our rights be met, that we have better services and that the authorities fight corruption,” Ali Mohsen, a 54-year-old professor at Wasit university, said.

“We demand that the governor resign … all we need is services.”

An official told Al Jazeera that protesters were enraged by comments by al-Tarfa belittling demonstrators at a much smaller protest a week ago.


( Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has resigned and is said to be in a coma or “psychologically devastated”. His appointed replacement, Omar Suleiman, is nowhere to be found and the Egyptian army has taken over. There has been wild celebration in the streets of Cairo but there is good reason to think that all is not well and the danger is far from over. Thanks to the reporting of Robert Fisk, we now have the information upon which to arrive at the terrible conclusion of the title. Senior Egyptian army officers, the very ones that are exercising a military dictatorship now, where quite willing only two weeks ago, to carry out a wholesale slaughter of the thousands of protesters in Liberation Square. Read More

(vanzetti’s ghost) “[The hackers] attack from the shadows and they have no fear of retaliation. There are no rules of engagement in this kind of emerging warfare.”~Charles Dodd, US government consultant on IT security

Recent events warrant warrant this discussion to say the least. Recently there have been the uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia, as well as internet censorship by a list of other countries. Also there was security firm HBGARY’s (pretty much failed) attempt at doxing or finding and revealing the personal information of members of anonymous. Not to mention the grand jury that has just started reviewing evidence against “members of Anonymous”. And a certain government consultant’s statement about the “cyberwar”. People who stay anonymous and do something are generally considered cowards and immoral etc… And of course the eternal response… Read More

( As I noted on Friday, the parties implicated in the smear campaigns aimed at WikiLeaks supporters and Chamber of Commerce critics have attempted to heap all the blame on HBGary Federal (“HBGary”) and its CEO, Aaron Barr. Both Bank of America and the Chamber — the intended clients — vehemently deny any involvement in these schemes and have harshly denounced them. The other two Internet security firms whose logos appeared on the proposals — Palantir Technologies and Berico Technologies — both issued statements terminating their relationship with HBGary and insisting that they had nothing to do with these plots. Only Hunton & Williams and its partner, John Woods — the central cogs soliciting these proposals — have steadfastly refused to comment.

Palantir, in particular, has been quite aggressive about trying to distance itself. They initially issued a strong statement denouncing the plots, then had their CEO call me vowing to investigate and terminate any employees who were involved, then issued another statement over the weekend claiming that “Palantir never has and never will condone the sort of activities that HBGary recommended” and “Palantir did not participate in the development of the recommendations that Palantir and others find offensive.” Such vehemence is unsurprising: the Palo-Alto-based firm relies for its recruitment efforts on maintaining a carefully cultivated image as a progressive company devoted to civil liberties, privacy and Internet freedom — all of which would be obviously sullied by involvement in such a scheme.

But as Salon’s Justin Elliott reports, there are newly emerged facts which directly contradict Palantir’s denials. On Sunday night, Anonymous released an additional 25,000 emails from HBGary, and Forbes’ Andy Greenberg was the first to make this discovery:

The emails also show that it was Barr who suggested pressuring journalist Glenn Greenwald, though Palantir, another firm working with HBGary Federal, quickly accepted that suggestion and added it to the PowerPoint presentation that the group was assembling.

Greenberg is referring to this series of emails, first from HBGary’s Barr — addressed to Palantir’s Matthew Steckman and Eli Bingham along with Berico’s Sam Kremin: Read more…