Thursday, May 07, 2015

Common Dreams:
"In addition to vacuuming up troves of emails, web searches, and other written records, the United States' National Security Agency (NSA) had devised a way to collect spoken communication as well, according to documents from the leaked archive of NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden and reported on Tuesday by The Intercept.

In a top secret government document from 2006, NSA analysts discussed the development of what they called 'Google for Voice,' which automatically recognizes spoken content, such as in phone calls, 'by creating rough transcripts and phonetic representations that can be easily searched and stored,' Intercept journalist Dan Froomkin reports.

Further, a second document also from 2006 describes, as Froomkin writes, 'extensive' use of keyword searching as well as computer programs designed to analyze and 'extract' the content of voice conversations, and even use sophisticated algorithms to flag conversations of interest."

-->All these "advances" were made without public oversight, or any scrutiny at all. The NYT kept up this fine tradition; it didn't print the story.

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Guardian UK:
"Testimonies provided by more than 60 Israeli soldiers who fought in last summer’s war in Gaza have raised serious questions over whether Israel’s tactics breached its obligations under international law to distinguish and protect civilians.

The claims – collected by the human rights group Breaking the Silence – are contained in dozens of interviews with Israeli combatants, as well as with soldiers who served in command centres and attack rooms, a quarter of them officers up to the rank of major. ...

'The rules of engagement for soldiers advancing on the ground were: open fire, open fire everywhere, first thing when you go in,' recalled another soldier who served during the ground operation in Gaza City. 'The assumption being that the moment we went in [to the Gaza Strip], anyone who dared poke his head out was a terrorist.' "

-->The NY Times didn't cover this story, although it will have to sooner or later. A Reuters story is posted on-line, but our newspaper of record is still promoting the image of the IDF as the most moral army in the world.

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Common Dreams:
"More than 25 farmworker, environmental, and food safety organizations sent an open letter on Tuesday to the U.S. Department of Agriculture demanding that the agency investigate reports that its scientists are facing retaliation and suppression of their research on controversial neonicotinoid insecticides that pose a danger to pollinator and human health.

'It is imperative that the USDA maintains scientific integrity and does not allow for harassment, censorship or suppression of findings that counter the interests of industry,' states the letter, whose signatories include Farmworker Justice, Food & Water Watch, and Center for Biological Diversity.

The letter follows a petition filed in March by the advocacy organization Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) charging that 'USDA scientists whose work carries with it policy implications that negatively reflect upon USDA corporate stakeholder interest s routinely suffer retaliation and harassment.' "

-->Monsanto, maker of these chemicals, always gets favorable treatment from The NYT. In this case, the story about suppressing science at the USDA didn't even make it to the on-line version.

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