SHACHE COUNTY, China – The month of Ramadan should have been a time of fasting, charity and prayer in China’s Muslim west. But here, in many of the towns and villages of southern Xinjiang, it was a time of fear, repression, and violence.
“Throughout Ramadan, police intensified a campaign of house-to-house searches, looking for books or clothing that betray “conservative” religious belief among the region’s ethnic Uighurs…”
China’s campaign against separatism and terrorism in its mainly Muslim west has now become an all-out war on conservative Islam, residents here say.
“…women wearing veils were widely detained, and many young men arrested on the slightest pretext, residents say.”
Throughout Ramadan, police intensified a campaign of house-to-house searches, looking for books or clothing that betray “conservative” religious belief among the region’s ethnic Uighurs: women wearing veils were widely detained, and many young men arrested on the slightest pretext, residents say. Students and civil servants were forced to eat instead of fasting, and work or attend classes instead of attending Friday prayers.
The religious repression has bred resentment, and, at times, deadly protests. Reports have emerged of police firing on angry crowds in recent weeks in the towns of Elishku, and Alaqagha; since then, Chinese authorities have imposed a complete blackout on reporting from both locations, even more intense than that already in place across most of Xinjiang.
“Chinese police have cracked down on the wearing of beards and veils, in observance of Ramadan, in Muslim-majority Xinjiang province.”
A Washington Post team was turned away at the one of several checkpoints around Elishku, as army trucks rumbled past, and was subsequently detained for several hours by informers, police and Communist Party officials for reporting from villages in the surrounding district of Shache county; the following day, the team was again detained in Alaqagha in Kuqa county, and ultimately deported from the region from the nearest airport. Read the rest of this entry »
Associated Press Washington Bureau Chief Sally Buzbee offered eight ways that the Obama administration is “blocking information” at a recent joint meeting of news editors.
1) As the United States ramps up its fight against Islamic militants, the public can’t see any of it. News organizations can’t shoot photos or video of bombers as they take off — there are no embeds. In fact, the administration won’t even say what country the S. bombers fly from.
2) The White House once fought to get cameramen, photographers and reporters into meetings the president had with foreign leaders overseas. That access has become much rarer. Think about the message that sends other nations about how the world’s leading democracy deals with the media: Keep them out and let them use handout photos.
3) Guantanamo: The big important 9/11 trial is finally coming up. But we aren’t allowed to see most court filings in real time — even of nonclassified material. So at hearings, we can’t follow what’s happening. We don’t know what prosecutors are asking for, or what defense attorneys are arguing.
4) Information about Guantanamo that was routinely released under President George W. Bush is now kept secret. The military won’t release the number of prisoners on hunger strike or the number of assaults on guards. Photo and video coverage is virtually nonexistent.
5) Day-to-day intimidation of sources is chilling. AP’s transportation reporter’s sources say that if they are caught talking to her, they will be fired. Even if they just give her facts, about safety, for example. Government press officials say their orders are to squelch anything controversial or that makes the administration look bad.
Buzbee also criticized the current administration for making Freedom of Information Act requests “slow and expensive.” Journalists are then forced to sue the government to force officials to respond, she said. Read the rest of this entry »
A reminder to iPhone owners cheering Apple’s latest privacy win: Just because Apple will no longer help police to turn your smartphone inside out doesn’t mean it can prevent the cops from vivisecting the device on their own.
“I am quite impressed, Mr. Cook! That took courage. But it does not mean that your data is beyond law enforcement’s reach.”
– iOS forensics expert Jonathan Zdziarski
On Wednesday evening Apple made news with a strongly-worded statement about how it protects users’ data from government requests. And the page noted at least one serious change in that privacy stance: No longer will Apple aid law enforcement or intelligence agencies in cracking its users’ passcodes to access their email, photos, or other mobile data. That’s a 180-degree flip from its previous offer to cops, which demanded only that they provide the device to Apple with a warrantto have its secrets extracted.
In fact, Apple claims that the new scheme now makes Apple not only unwilling, but unable to open users’ locked phones for law enforcement. “Unlike our competitors, Apple cannot bypass your passcode and therefore cannot access [your personal] data,” reads the new policy. “So it’s not technically feasible for us to respond to government warrants for the extraction of this data from devices in their possession running iOS 8.”
“I can do it. I’m sure the guys in suits in the governments can do it. And I’m sure that there are at least three or four commercial tools that can still do this, too.”
But as the media and privacy activists congratulated Apple on that new resistance to government snooping, iOS forensics expert Jonathan Zdziarski offered a word of caution for the millions of users clamoring to pre-order the iPhone 6 and upgrade to iOS 8. In many cases, he points out, the cops can still grab and offload sensitive data from your locked iPhone without Apple’s help, even in iOS 8. All they need, he says, is your powered-on phone and access to a computer you’ve previously used to move data onto and off of it. Read the rest of this entry »
That’s Show Business: Harry’s Cynical plot to keep the Senate
Everything you’ll see from the Senate in the next few weeks will be complete bullshit. POLITICO grinds out the story on the Senate leaders’ familiar playbook. Here’s the money quote:
Reid has scheduled votes on a politically populist agenda devised by Schumer aimed at forcing Republicans to block bills aimed at wooing students, women, seniors and the middle class. Democrats have repeatedly put forth bills that have little chance of passing — like on increasing the minimum wage, gender pay equity, contraception access and student loan assistance. And even when there are efforts they actually support — such as Obama’s executive action on immigration — Democratic leaders have lobbied the White House to punt on the issue to avoid hurting their vulnerable incumbents and candidates in red states. Read the rest of this entry »
Cop Smear Blowback: Civil Rights Leaders Demand that Actress Daniele Watts Apologize to LAPD for Claiming She was Racially ProfiledPosted: September 19, 2014
— Robert Holguin (@ABC7Robert) September 19, 2014
Michelle Malkin writes: Fresh terror busts in Australia expose a common Achilles’ heel of the West: Indiscriminate refugee policies turn free countries into breeding grounds for jihad. It’s the same game in America. Soldiers of Islam have weaponized our blind generosity against us.
“Instead of slowing down refugee admissions from terror-sponsoring and terror-supporting states, the Obama administration has jacked them up.”
In Sydney this week, authorities detained a half-dozen Muslim plotters and arrested a top collaborator in an alleged conspiracy to kidnap and behead a random Australian citizen. The accused mastermind? Afghan refugee turned Aussie Islamic State recruiter Mohammad Ali Baryalei. He and his aristocratic family were welcomed Down Under decades ago. Baryalei returned the favor by taking to the streets of Sydney to recruit and radicalize dozens of fellow Muslim immigrants or their children.
“Sharrouf is now based in Syria, where he infamously tweeted a photo of his elementary school-age son brandishing a severed human head.”
Baryalei’s minions include Australian jihadist Khaled Sharrouf, the homicidal son of Lebanese immigrants. Sharrouf is now based in Syria, where he infamously tweeted a photo of his elementary school-age son brandishing a severed human head.
“In our heartland, Minneapolis has become ‘Little Mogadishu’— a haven for Somali refugees targeted by Islamic supremacists.”
The Sydney Beheading Bust comes on the heels of a separate outbreak of violence by Afghan refugees aligned with the terror group Hezbollah. In late August, Aussie police broke up a bloody riot involving members of the “420 gang” — Muslim teenage boys and young men who post sword-wielding, AK-47-toting selfies on social media. The self-described “Shia soldiers” quote Hezbollah militant imam Hassan Nasrallah online, while wreaking havoc in Sydney slums offline. Read the rest of this entry »
WASHINGTON — Activists who organized the dormant Occupy Wall Street movement are suing another activist for control of the main Twitter account, and one of the plaintiffs says there was no other option but to turn to litigation to solve the dispute.
“We can either go and beat him up or we can go to court.”
– Marisa Holmes, video editor, part of the core organizing team of Occupy
The conflict centers around @OccupyWallStNYC, one of the main Twitter feeds that distributed information during the movement’s heyday in 2011. The OWS Media Group filed a lawsuit against organizer Justin Wedes on Wednesday, which is also the third anniversary of the beginning of Occupy Wall Street. The group, led by activist Marisa Holmes, is seeking control of the Twitter account as well as $500,000 in damages.
The Twitter account, which used to be shared among several activists, is now under the control of Wedes, who explained his decision to take over the Twitter feed in a blog post in August:
A thread about “self-promotion” became just another shaming session. If we start from a place of assuming bad intentions – i.e. discouraging “self-promotion” over encouraging solid, relevant content – we will end up with rules that shame rather than empower. Group members took on the task of limiting others to “1 to 2 tweets per day” (or week) on a topic, a form of censorship that would never have been allowed in the earlier days of the boat. I had to say enough!
“We can either go and beat him up or we can go to court,” Holmes, a video editor who was part of the core organizing team of Occupy, told BuzzFeed News. “And quite frankly if we go and beat him up then we could end up with countersuits against us, and that puts us in a more damaging position and we don’t really want to do that anyway.” Read the rest of this entry »
Mysterious “interceptor” cellphone towers that can listen in someone’s phone call despite not being part of any phone networks have turned up near the White House and Senate.
“It’s highly unlikely that federal law enforcement would be using mobile interceptors near the Senate.”
A company that specializes in selling secure mobile phones discovered the existence of several of the towers in and around the nation’s capitol.
“My suspicion is that it is a foreign entity.”
– ESD America CEO Les Goldsmith
“It’s highly unlikely that federal law enforcement would be using mobile interceptors near the Senate,” ESD America CEO Les Goldsmith told the technology website Venture Beat on Thursday. Read the rest of this entry »
The Washington Post reports: Apple said Wednesday night that it is making it impossible for the company to turn over data from most iPhones or iPads to police — even when they have a search warrant — taking a hard new line as tech companies attempt to blunt allegations that they have too readily participated in government efforts to collect user information.
“Unlike our competitors, Apple cannot bypass your passcode and therefore cannot access this data,” Apple said on its Web site. “So it’s not technically feasible for us to respond to government warrants for the extraction of this data from devices in their possession running iOS 8.”
As the new operating system becomes widely deployed over the next several weeks, the number of iPhones and iPads that Apple is capable of breaking into for police will steadily dwindle to the point where only devices several years old — and incapable of running iOS 8 — can be unlocked by Apple.
Apple will still have the ability — and the legal responsibility — to turn over user data stored elsewhere, such as in its iCloud service, which typically includes backups of photos, videos, e-mail communications, music collections and more. Users who want to prevent all forms of police access to their information will have to adjust settings in a way that blocks data from flowing to iCloud. Read the rest of this entry »
The Madison Paradox and Obama’s Constitution Day Stealth Comment: Referring to Our Constitutional Rights as ‘Privileges’Posted: September 18, 2014
Maybe James Madison was right. Maybe the Bill of Rights wasn’t just unnecessary, it was a bad idea, destined to be viewed in the distant future exactly the wrong way
For United Liberty, Jason Pye catches Obama’s shaded wording, and writes a welcome blast of corrective historical clarity. Though I can’t resist including my own comments in the margins, the piece stands as testament to the power of word choices. Pye writes:
…In his presidential proclamation marking Constitution Day, President Barack Obama offered some insight into how he views the Bill of Rights. “Our Constitution reflects the values we cherish as a people and the ideals we strive for as a society,” Obama said in the release. “It secures the privileges we enjoy as citizens, but also demands participation, responsibility, and service to our country and to one another.”
“It secures the
rights privileges we enjoy as citizens, but also demands participation, responsibility, and service to our country and to one another.”
Given that this White House is known for its expansive view of executive power, the assertion that the rights guaranteed and protected under the Bill of Rights, the fact that President Obama views these fundamental liberties to be “privileges” isn’t too terribly surprising. After all, President Obama treats the legislative branch — which, again, is supposed to be a co-equal branch of the federal government — as an afterthought as it arbitrarily changes statues and even refuses to enforce laws.
But words matter. To say the rights secured by the Constitution are “privileges” implies that they can be revoked. Let’s put this another way: a high school-aged kid is given the privilege of taking their father’s car out to go hang out with friends, that is until they abuse it by getting caught speeding or into a car accident. The disappointed father would, no doubt, take away the privilege.
Rights and liberties, however, are based on a solid foundation. They can’t be taken away by some paternalistic president. The view of the framers was that the rights protected under the Bill of Rights existed before the formation of the federal government under the Constitution. In short, they were natural rights.
In fact, James Madison believed that a list of specific rights was unnecessary.
Though we celebrate the ratification of the Bill of Rights, I can’t help but interrupt to expand on Jason Pye‘s oversimplification — Madison didn’t believe that a list of specific rights was unnecessary, Madison and others believed listing individual rights would set a dangerous precedent. As illustrated in my half-remembered reading of Joseph J. Ellis’ “Founding Brothers” the dissenters wisely understood that making a special top-ten list of rights could lead to a troubling misperception that individual rights are limited, reducible to a specific list. Which could then be used to mislead future generations into accepting false limits.
It’s federal powers that are finite, narrow, and limited. So limited you could number them. (enumerated powers) Individual rights, as conceived by the founders–aren’t limited, they’re virtually infinite. Not reducible to a list. Enshrining some of them in a list would lead to, well, exactly the misunderstanding that persists to this day. The argument resisting an enumerated “Bill of Rights” wasn’t perfect, but it had merit. It showed foresight.
Jason Pye continues:
Thankfully, George Mason and others, to ensure ratification, convinced Madison to come up with proposals, ten of which were passed by Congress and approved by at least three-fifths of the states. Read the rest of this entry »
“Effective today, the president? A photo-op? or something in between?” Susteren asked.
“Photo-op. Complete photo-op. This indicative of a global failure of his foreign policy.”
Higbie explained. “He has toted that he is behind the troops before and he stands in front of these guys, gets a photo-op, everything like that, while saying he’s going to send 3,000 guys to combat Ebola, but I’m not going to send any to combat an actual enemy that’s really threatening America.”
“What do you think they think? I mean, I suppose it’s kind of a mixed bag?” Susteren pressed.
“I’d say most of the troops. Probably over 90 percent, do not support the president.”
Susteren then asked Higbie about his time as a Navy SEAL, “As a Navy SEAL, you have trained foreign troops? Right? How many times? More than one trip to Iraq?”
“Absolutely, we did two deployments,” Higbie said. Read the rest of this entry »
The combined wealth of the world’s billionaires increased by 12 percent to $7.3 trillion, higher than the combined market capitalization of all the companies that make up the Dow Jones Industrial Average
“The fastest growing segment of the billionaire population, in terms of wealth source, are those who inherited only part of their fortunes and became billionaires through their own entrepreneurial endeavors.”
A new survey shows that 155 new billionaires were minted this year, pushing the total population to a record 2,325 – a 7 percent increase from 2013.
Credit goes to the United States – home to the most billionaires globally – where 57 new billionaires were recorded this year, according to the Wealth-X and UBS Billionaire Census 2014 released on Wednesday.
Asia and Latin America and the Caribbean were also large contributors, with 52 and 42 new entrants, respectively.
“The fastest growing segment of the billionaire population, in terms of wealth source, are those who inherited only part of their fortunes and became billionaires through their own entrepreneurial endeavors,” the report said, noting that 63 percent of all billionaires’ primary companies are privately held. Read the rest of this entry »
Politico’s Edward-Isaac Dovere Gambles His Sanity on a 4000-word Article About Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s Predictable FlameoutPosted: September 17, 2014
She’s become a liability to the Democratic National Committee, and even to her own prospects, critics say
This news isn’t surprising, to anyone but hard-core Wasserman supporters (they must exist, somewhere, not counting her immediate family) but what is surprising is that Edward-Isaac Dovere could actually write (or Politico would publish) a 4000 word article about Debbie Wasserman Schultz, without achieving spontaneous composition, acute nausea and raging headaches, or having the urge to hurl the keyboard out the window, and then follow it, head first. Though, to be fair, perhaps it’s premature to suggest Dovere gambled his sanity.
Third-rate Palace Intrigue involving a failed administration and its loyal-but-doomed messengers is like black-tie Shakespearean drama for the insider class. In Washington D.C., surviving an assignment like this can get you promoted. If there’s a national journalism award for sheer endurance, Dovere should be nominated for the newly-minted “Debbie Wasserman Schultz” award.
If Politico thinks this merits a New Yorker-length expose (4000 words, yes, really) who are we to disagree? it’s not written for readers, mind you, but for other media people and fellow insiders. However, if you have an appetite for democratic party politics exceeding that of even the most seasoned Democratic party operatives, you can find the whole ungodly thing here.
Democrats turn on Debbie Wasserman Schultz
Edward-Isaac Dovere writes: Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz is in a behind-the-scenes struggle with the White House, congressional Democrats and Washington insiders who have lost confidence in her as both a unifying leader and reliable party spokesperson at a time when they need her most.
“I guess the best way to describe it is, it’s not that she’s losing a duel anywhere, it’s that she seems to keep shooting herself in the foot before she even gets the gun out of the holster.”
Long-simmering doubts about her have reached a peak after two recent public flubs: criticizing the White House’s handling of the border crisis and comparing the tea party to wife beaters. [See Walker gives 'back of his hand']
“One example that sources point to as particularly troubling: Wasserman Schultz repeatedly trying to get the DNC to cover the costs of her wardrobe.”
The perception of critics is that Wasserman Schultz spends more energy tending to her own political ambitions than helping Democrats win. This includes using meetings with DNC donors to solicit contributions for her own PAC and campaign committee, traveling to uncompetitive districts to court House colleagues for her potential leadership bid and having DNC-paid staff focus on her personal political agenda.
She’s become a liability to the DNC, and even to her own prospects, critics say.
“The Obama team was so serious about replacing her after 2012 that they found a replacement candidate to back before deciding against it, according to people familiar with those discussions.”
“I guess the best way to describe it is, it’s not that she’s losing a duel anywhere, it’s that she seems to keep shooting herself in the foot before she even gets the gun out of the holster,” said John Morgan, a major donor in Wasserman Schultz’s home state of Florida.
“Obama and Wasserman Schultz have rarely even talked since 2011. They don’t meet about strategy or messaging. They don’t talk much on the phone.”
The stakes are high. Wasserman Schultz is a high-profile national figure who helped raise millions of dollars and served as a Democratic messenger to female voters during a presidential election in which Obama needed to exploit the gender gap to win, but November’s already difficult midterms are looming. Read the rest of this entry »
“I remain convinced our fellow citizens deserve all of the facts of what happened before, during, and after the attacks in Benghazi and they deserve an investigative process worthy of the memory of those who died and worthy of the trust of our fellow citizens.”
WASHINGTON — The Daily Caller reports: The Republican chairman of the new Benghazi select committee pledged Wednesday during the first public hearing to conduct an investigation “worthy of the memory of those who died and worthy of the trust of our fellow citizens.”
“Benghazi was not the first time our diplomatic facilities and people have been attacked,” Gowdy said. “The barracks in Beirut, our facilities in Tanzania and Kenya are a few that come to mind amid too many others.”
“I remain hopeful there are still things left in our country that can transcend politics,” South Carolina Republican Rep. Trey Gowdy, the chairman of the committee, said in his opening statement in a Capitol Hill hearing room. “I remain convinced our fellow citizens deserve all of the facts of what happened before, during, and after the attacks in Benghazi and they deserve an investigative process worthy of the memory of those who died and worthy of the trust of our fellow citizens.”
“So to those who believe it is time to move on, that there is nothing left to discover, that all questions have been asked and answered, that we have learned the lessons to be learned — we have heard that before. And yet the attacks and the tragedies keep coming.”
Earlier this year, lawmakers in the House passed a bill to establish the new committee to investigate the 2012 attacks in Benghazi, Libya that left four Americans dead, including Chris Stevens, the U.S. ambassador to Libya. Read the rest of this entry »
Every 9/11, pundits talk about how “everything changed” after the attacks. But the homeland security bureaucracy is as petty, vindictive, wasteful and stupid as ever.
Michelle Malkin writes: “If you see something, say something.” That’s what our homeland security apparatchiks incessantly preach. But 13 years after the 9/11 attacks, the freedom to warn is in danger and vigilant whistleblowers are under fire.
Listen to Robert MacLean. He’s a former Air Force nuclear weapons specialist and Border Patrol agent recruited by the government to serve as one of the first federal air marshals after 9/11.
“I blew the whistle because I had to. I could not live with the tragedy risked if I had been the cynical silent observer.”
– Robert MacLean, federal air marshal testifying before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. His legal case heads to the Supreme Court this fall
In 2003, MacLean underwent emergency training to prepare for a new round of al-Qaida hijacking threats. Jihadists exploiting visa and screening loopholes had planned to target East Coast airliners, according to intelligence analysts. For unknown reasons, however, the Transportation Security Administration abruptly called off air marshals from duty on nonstop, long-distance flights — just two days before the anticipated hijacking.
“Quinn, a former Secret Service agent, insisted that air marshals abide by military-style grooming standards and a rigid business dress policy regardless of weather, time of year or seating arrangement. Yes, really. Marshals were ordered to dress like characters straight out of ‘Men in Black’ — leaving them vulnerable to terrorist identification. Critics of the code dubbed Quinn the Captain Queeg of homeland security.”
How did they notify the air marshals? Cue the Keystone Cops. “TSA chose to send the unlabeled text message to our unsecured Nokia 3310 cellular phones instead of our $22 million encrypted smart phone system. There were no markings or secrecy restrictions on the message,” MacLean recounted to Congress this week. “We all thought it was a joke given the special training we had just received and the post-9/11 law that nonstop long-distance flights were a priority.”
“How did they notify the air marshals? Cue the Keystone Cops. “TSA chose to send the unlabeled text message to our unsecured Nokia 3310 cellular phones instead of our $22 million encrypted smart phone system.”
A supervisor told MacLean the agency was broke and there was nothing he could do. Appalled at both the dangerous pullback and the reckless way in which the feds notified the air marshals, MacLean then contacted his department’s inspector general hotline and was warned he would be “cutting (his) career short if (he) pursued the issue further.” Instead, he went to the press and made his homeland security concerns public. In 2006, MacLean was fired. Read the rest of this entry »
Poll: Black & White Ferguson Residents Agree, Media Made Things Worse, But Fear Not! HuffPo Taps Readers to Raise Funds for MORE MEDIA COVERAGE OF FERGUSONPosted: September 16, 2014
“Like the race-baiting locusts from Hell they are, the mainstream media descended on Ferguson, Missouri, to exploit a vacuum of information with rabid speculation intended to foment violence and divide along racial lines.”
John Nolte reports: In a new poll, 81% of whites and 50% of blacks agreed that the media presence in the wake of the shooting of Michael Brown by a Ferguson police officer, made things worse. Only 12% of whites believe the media made things better; only 37% of blacks said the same.
This comes as no surprise. Without any facts to back up their black vs. white narrative, the media intentionally whipped up racial animosity and offered the imprimatur of ABC, CNN, NBC, ABC, The Washington Post, Huffington Post, The New York Times, to looters, vandals and rioters….(read more)
The Huffington Post successfully recruited readers to pay the salary of one of their reporters for a year.
In a separate Breitbart.com post, Charlie Spiering reports: Using an unorthodox funding strategy, the online news outlet teamed up with Beaconreader.com to back the hiring of a special reporter to cover the story of Ferguson, Missouri after reporters left the scene where Michael Brown was shot to death by a police officer.
“We suspected our audience would see the value in having a reporter on the ground in Ferguson, but were blown away by the response.”
“We suspected our audience would see the value in having a reporter on the ground in Ferguson, but were blown away by the response,” explained the Huffington Post’s bureau chief Ryan Grim in a blog post. Read the rest of this entry »
“My sources say Crossfire is toast,” a TV industry insider told The Mirror.
A publicist from CNN describes it like this: “The program is on extended hiatus.”
Most importantly, sources say staffers from “Crossfire” are being absorbed into “The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer.” In fact, CNN personnel from other shows are making room for staffers from “Crossfire.” Read the rest of this entry »