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8385NEWS -- 2014.01.02.Thursday night

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  • James Martin
    Jan 2, 2014
    • 0 Attachment
      Thursday 02 January 2013
      1) Edward Snowden Clemency: The New York Times, The Guardian Urge Obama To Help NSA Whistleblower
      2) Lynne Stewart Freed From Prison, Granted "Compassionate Release"
      3) WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange Calls on Computer Hackers to Unite Against NSA Surveillance
      4) Smarter, Deadlier Drones Mapped Out in Defense Plan
      5) How the Army’s recent successful laser test could change the future of warfare
      6) Is This the Reason Mormons in Utah Are Afraid of Gay Marriage?
      7) Two-sport star suffers freak season-ending injury during team photo

      Edward Snowden Clemency: The New York Times, The Guardian Urge Obama To Help NSA Whistleblower

      Posted: 01/02/2014 12:44 am EST  |  Updated: 01/02/2014 10:25 am EST

      The editorial boards of The New York Times and The Guardian published editorials on Wednesday, urging the Obama administration to treat Edward Snowden as a whistleblower and offer him some form of clemency.

      Seven months ago, the former National Security Administration contractor stole as many as 1.7 million highly classified documents about the U.S. government's surveillance program and released the information to the press. The files revealed how the NSA forced American technology companies to reveal customer information, often without individual warrants, and how data from global phone and Internet networks was secretly intercepted.

      While the release of these documents forced Snowden to flee the U.S. and move to Russia, it also alerted the American public -- and many U.S. allies -- of the government's intrusive, unethical and possibly unlawful spying efforts.

      Beyond sparking public debate, Snowden's actions have prompted the American Civil Liberties Union to sue the NSA. The suit aims to force the U.S. government to disclose details of its electronic surveillance program and describe what protections it provides to Americans whose communications are swept up during the search for terrorist suspects, Reuters reported.

      Eight major technology companies -- including Google, Facebook and Twitter -- have also joined forces to call for tighter controls on government surveillance.

      To date, two federal judges have accused the NSA of violating the Constitution, and a panel appointed by President Barack Obama has blasted the agency's spying efforts and called for an overhaul of the program.

      On Wednesday night, the editorial board of The New York Times published an editorial that not only described Snowden as a whistleblower but also called on the government to give him clemency.

      Considering the enormous value of the information he has revealed, and the abuses he has exposed, Mr. Snowden deserves better than a life of permanent exile, fear and flight. He may have committed a crime to do so, but he has done his country a great service. It is time for the United States to offer Mr. Snowden a plea bargain or some form of clemency that would allow him to return home, face at least substantially reduced punishment in light of his role as a whistle-blower, and have the hope of a life advocating for greater privacy and far stronger oversight of the runaway intelligence community.

      The Times noted that none of Snowden's revelations have done profound damage to the intelligence operations of the U.S., nor have his disclosures hurt national security. However, his efforts have exposed the federal government's lack of respect for privacy and constitutional protections.

      When someone reveals that government officials have routinely and deliberately broken the law, that person should not face life in prison at the hands of the same government.

      The Guardian, which has been at the forefront of the Snowden story from the very beginning, is also calling for clemency.

      Snowden gave classified information to journalists, even though he knew the likely consequences. That was an act of courage.

      In November, the White House rejected a clemency plea from Snowden, and told him to return to the U.S. to face trial.

      --- Click on the URL to do the Quick Poll: Is Edward Snowden a hero or a traitor? ---


      If Obama has a brain left in his head, he will grant a full pardon and bring back Snowden as a hero.



      Lynne Stewart Freed From Prison, Granted "Compassionate Release"

      Lynne Stewart has arrived in New York. She was released from prison Tuesday after federal Judge John Koeltl ordered her "compassionate release." Watch Thursday’s Democracy Now! for our interview with Stewart, her husband and grandchildren, and her attorney.

      Koeltl wrote that "Stewart’s "terminal medical condition and very limited life expectancy constitute extraordinary and compelling reasons that warrant the requested reduction [of her sentence.]... It is further ordered that the defendant shall be released from the custody of the Federal Bureau of Prisons as soon as her medical condition permits, the release plan is implemented and travel arrangements can be made."

      Friday–Dec. 31, 2013

      The Bureau of Prisons has submitted a request to the judge in Lynne Stewart’s case, asking him to grant "compassionate release" to 74-year-old jailed civil rights attorney who is dying from stage IV breast cancer. Scroll down to read the order.

      "This morning, the government, meaning the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, on behalf of the Bureau of Prisons, filed a motion before Federal Judge John Koeltl, requesting that Lynne Stewart be re-sentenced to time served," said Bob Boyle, one of Stewart’s lawyers. "This means she would be eligible — if he signs the order — for immediate release. There is every indication that will sign the order, since he said so on the record, when we made the motion back in July to have her be released."

      Boyle says he fully expects Stewart to be released in the next few days, and return to New York City where she will live with her son. He says she and her family have been told the news and are extremely relieved and grateful.

      Below you can listen to Boyle’s interview about today’s developments with Democracy Now! producer Renée Feltz. 

      --- Click on URL to read the transcript. ---

      Click here to see all of our coverage of Lynne Stewart. You can also watch our recent show that looked at the many other elderly political prisoners seeking release, including Oscar Lopez Rivera and Leonard Peltier.

      Stewart has served almost four years of a 10-year prison sentence for distributing press releases on behalf of her jailed client, Omar Abdel Rahman, an Egyptian cleric known as the “blind Sheikh.” In August, Judge Koeltl rejected a request that would have allowed her to die surrounded by her loved ones, saying he could not order her release unless it was first requested by the Bureau of Prisons, which had turned down Stewart’s bid for release, saying she is not sick enough. Since then, her doctor has said she has less than 18 months to live.


      WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange Calls on Computer Hackers to Unite Against NSA Surveillance

      WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange addressed a major gathering of computer experts Monday at the Chaos Communication Congress in Hamburg, Germany, calling on them to join forces in resisting government intrusions on Internet freedom and privacy. We play highlights from Assange’s speech, as well as the one given by Sarah Harrison, the WikiLeaks member who accompanied Edward Snowden to Russia. We also hear from independent journalist and security expert Jacob Appelbaum, who reveals a spying tool used by the National Security Agency known as a "portable continuous wave generator." The remote-controlled device works in tandem with tiny electronic implants to bounce invisible waves of energy off keyboards and monitors to see what is being typed. It works even if the target computer is not connected to the Internet.


      This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

      AMY GOODMAN: We turn now to the Chaos Communication Congress, or CCC, in Hamburg, Germany. One of the speakers at the conference was WikiLeaks’ Sarah Harrison, who accompanied Edward Snowden to Russia and spent four months with him. Harrison addressed the audience after receiving a long standing ovation.

      SARAH HARRISON: Together with the Center for Constitutional Rights, we filed a suit against the U.S. military, against the unprecedented secrecy applied to Chelsea Manning’s trial. Yet through these attacks, we have continued our publishing work. In April of this year, we launched the Public Library of US Diplomacy, the largest and most comprehensive searchable database of U.S. diplomatic cables in the world. This coincided with our release of 1.7 million U.S. cables from the Kissinger period. We launched our third Spy Files, 249 documents from 92 global intelligence contractors, exposing their technology, methods and contracts. We completed releasing the Global Intelligence Files, over five million emails from U.S. intelligence firm Stratfor, the revelations from which included documenting their spying on activists around the globe. We published the primary negotiating positions for 14 countries of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a new international legal regime that would control 40 percent of the world’s GDP.

      As well as getting Snowden asylum, we set up Mr. Snowden’s defense fund, part of a broader endeavor, the Journalistic Source Protection Defence Fund, which aims to protect and fund sources in trouble. This will be an important fund for future sources, especially when we look at the U.S. crackdown on whistleblowers like Snowden and alleged WikiLeaks source Chelsea Manning, who was sentenced this year to 35 years in prison, and another alleged WikiLeaks source, Jeremy Hammond, who was sentenced to 10 years in prison this November. These men, Snowden, Manning and Hammond, are prime examples of a politicized youth who have grown up with a free Internet and want to keep it that way. It is this class of people that we are here to discuss this evening, the powers they and we all have and can have.

      AMY GOODMAN: WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange also addressed the Chaos Communication Congress via video. Speaking from the Ecuadorean embassy in London, Assange urged information technology specialists to join forces to resist government encroachments on Internet freedom.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chaos_Communication_Congress

      JULIAN ASSANGE: Those high-tech workers, we are a particular class, and it’s time that we recognized that we are a class and looked back in history and understood that the great gains in human rights and education and so on that were gained through powerful industrial work as we formed the backbone of the economy of the 20th century, I think we have that same ability, but even more so, because of the greater interconnection that exists now, economically and politically, which is all underpinned by system administrators. And we should understand that system administrators are not just those people who administer one unique system or another; they are the people who administer systems. And the system that exists globally now is created by the interconnection of many individual systems. And we are all, or many of us, are part of administering that system, and have extraordinary power, in a way that is really an order of magnitude different to the power industrial workers had back in the 20th century.


      Smarter, Deadlier Drones Mapped Out in Defense Plan

      By Erik Schechter, LiveScience Contributor, 01 January 2014
      Drones that can decide for themselves how best to complete a pre-programmed mission — that's just one of the many advanced capabilities the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) wants to develop over the next 25 years as part of its Unmanned Systems Integrated Roadmap.

      The roadmap, released last week, lays out a broad vision for future unmanned air, land and maritime vehicles. But drones definitely get pride of place in the document, with the DoD exploring such technologies as precision navigation, swarming munitions and increased autonomy.

      Unmanned aircraft currently depend on GPS for navigation. However, the satellite signals behind GPS are weak and easily jammed. Addressing this problem, the roadmap cites the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency's (DARPA) ongoing work with so-called pinpoint inertial guidance systems that are jam-proof. [Humanoid Robots to Flying Cars: 10 Coolest DARPA Projects]

      Another area of interest is weaponry. The DoD envisions camera-mounted, loitering munitions that get launched from an unmanned "mothership" and hunt targets in deadly "swarms." The munitions would circle around in the sky after launch. While they are in the air, an operator would identify a target on the ground via the onboard camera and then send the drone-bomb crashing into the target. The mothership would extend the range of these flying bombs beyond 250 nautical miles (463 kilometers), the report states.

      Further down the road, the DoD wants to see drone-carried munitions deliver a stronger punch. The key here is developing "energetic nanoparticles." Since these particles have a greater surface area, the chemicals within the ammunition react faster, producing a more powerful explosion.

      Then, there is drone autonomy. The roadmap notes that unmanned missions are, ironically, very manpower intensive and, therefore, expensive.

      The DoD wants to reduce this cost by offloading as many human tasks as possible onto machines. This means transitioning drones from executing step-by-step commands to performing a set mission autonomously, which might "require deviation from pre-programmed tasks," the report reads.

      Of course, such a goal is easier said than done. Unmanned aircraft would have to be programmed to follow certain laws that govern their self-determined behavior. This will entail carefully written algorithms, and possibly machine learning, plus better navigation systems and sensors.

      However, despite the technical and budgetary hurdles involved, the DoD authors of the paper predict a huge payoff from such advances. Should the U.S. military ever confront a near-peer adversary, the drones the United States fields will be "more effective through greater automation and greater performance."

      Follow us @livescience, Facebook & Google+. Original article on LiveScience.

      Copyright 2014 LiveScience, a TechMediaNetwork company. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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      --- click on the URL for video and picture ---

      How the Army’s recent successful laser test could change the future of warfare

      By Eric Pfeiffer Thursday 02 January 2014

      In December, the U.S. Army successfully tested a vehicle-mounted laser, destroying more than 90 mortar rounds and several unmanned aerial drones.

      And an Army official tells Yahoo News that the test could have broad implications for the future, giving the U.S. an edge in low-cost and high-functioning defense technology.

      “Although the laser can only engage one target at a time, we can lock-in multiple strikes,” Terry Bauer, Program manager, Army High Energy Laser Mobile Demonstrator (HEL MD), told Yahoo News during a phone interview.

      “The number of available shots is extremely high compared to a conventional system,” Bauer said. “Whatever we aim at is what we hit.”

      Back in 2011, the Army first conducted tests using low power, 300 watt lasers. But the most recent test used a significantly more powerful 10-kilowatt laser powered by batteries and diesel fuel. Although the "High Energy Laser Mobile Demonstrator" may not sound that intimidating, it was essentially perfect during its test, knocking out dozens of airborne targets.

      The test was conducted at the High Energy Laser Systems Test Facility, White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico. Going forward, the Army says it plans to increase the power of lasers used up to 100 kilowatts, although alternative power sources will be needed to boost the increasingly potent solid state lasers.

      “This 10 kilowatt is just a stepping stone toward more militarily significant lasers,” Bauer said.

      The Army Space and Missile Defense Command released a video of the demonstration. In the first two minutes of the clip, you can see the laser system targeting a drone. At first, it appears to simply be following the aircraft’s flight pattern. However, since the laser itself is invisible to the naked eye, what appears to be plain video on the left hand of the screen, is actual a live engagement taking place. Moments later, the drone crashes into the desert sands of New Mexico.

      Later in the video, the mortar engagements provide the kind of fireworks more commonly expected by the untrained eye, as the mortars explode in midair after being targeted by the laser system.

      Bauer said the mortar and UAV drones replicate battlefield conditions faced by U.S. forces on the battlefield and could prove increasingly useful as the use of military-styled drones become more prevalent in the near future. The lasers have another distinct advantage, moving at the speed of light, allowing the Army to stay focused on a quickly moving target.

      The U.S. Navy has also experimented with lasers mounted aboard cruise vessels. Back in April 2013, the Navy announced plans to deploy a laser-mounted cruiser to the Persian Gulf in 2014 . Still, don’t expect lasers current technology creates some limitations for their use, such as unfriendly weather conditions like limited sunlight.

      Still, several components of the program remain shrouded in mystery. The Army has not revealed how far its lasers can travel or how long they are able to sustain a defensive posture before needing to recharge. And while a focus on the technology is clearly growing, it remains to be determined just how many laser-mounted vehicles the Army plans to deploy in coming years.

      The vehicle-mounted system was developed over four years. And while Bauer says it has been expensive for the military develop, it’s portability and lack of heavy, expensive munitions could make it cost-effective over time.

      “It could be utilized and cost effective over time,” he said. “In the end it could save considerable money.”

      And who knows, it might not be long before lasers are squaring off against unmanned F-16s in the field of battle.


      My comment ---
      I wonder why it is they do not reveal the companies that made this? 
      --- Lots of comments at the URL ---

      Is This the Reason Mormons in Utah Are Afraid of Gay Marriage?

      Utah’s resistance to gay marriage is making headlines this week as the state fights a judge’s decision to overturn a 2004 ban on gay marriage. Many assume Utah’s hostility towards homosexuality is just a reflection of the state’s cultural and political conservatism—but in a 2005 paper in the Journal of GLBT Family Studies, University of Utah researchers Emma Gross and Edward Cahoon Byrnes suggest a uniquely Mormon reason Utahans are so nervous about gay people:

      Utahans appear to worry that homosexual youth will try to recruit heterosexual youth to homosexuality…For example, [of 521] respondents, 55.3 percent [believe] that “when gays and lesbians are involved in any organization there is a risk that they will influence youths to become gay or lesbian.” Significantly, Mormons grow their religion by extensive, aggressive proselyting. Mormon youth serve two years as missionaries whose primary function is to convert others to Mormonism. Interestingly, focus group discussions indicate that there is a connection that exists between the society’s religious preoccupation with conversion, to which Mormon youth are socialized, and the widespread perception that homosexual youth are somehow similarly committed to recruiting.

      My comment -- The answer to the question is yes.  Mormons and Southern Baptists "know" that gays will "recruit".
      Which is part of the reason that nobody knows how to lie and bear false witness like a conservative rightwing selfish religionist.
      Comment found on the net --->
      Turning a straight kid gay should work as well as turning a gay kid straight.
      See also
      pocket change
      See also

      Two-sport star suffers freak season-ending injury during team photo

      By Ben Rohrbach Thursday 04 January 2014

      A two-sport star in Iowa had her prep girls basketball season cut short by a horrific accident while participating in team photos in the locker room prior to a game.

      Sheffield (Iowa) West Fork High senior standout Lindsey Peterson needed 100 stitches and three plates in her face to help heal the fractures she suffered when slipping and falling onto the corner of a bench upon which she was posing for pictures with her teammates, according to The Sheffield Press (via Deadspin).

      “It was the worst thing I’ve seen,” West Fork coach Rodney Humber told the paper, detailing his star's harrowing night at the Mayo Clinic. “It went straight through her gum, affected a few of her teeth and she had a big gash on the right side of her face.”

      After earning All-State volleyball honors this past fall, Peterson's final season of high school basketball is over, the coach relayed. To make matters worse, Peterson reportedly suffered the injury -- which may further require plastic surgery -- on her 18th birthday.

      Somehow, Peterson's West Fork teammates managed to pull it together at Riceville (Iowa) High, winning by a whopping 55-18 margin after witnessing the traumatic injury.

      “They really laid it on them," Huber told The Sheffield Press. "I didn’t know how they were going to respond because they looked pale; looked like they’d seen a ghost.”

      My comment ---
      Locker rooms pose a higher injury rate than is common knowledge.