Over the past few years, the international left has derived much satisfaction from the course of South American political and economic integration. The novelty of such integration is that it has proceeded along progressive lines and has been pushed by regional leaders associated with the so-called "Pink Tide." With so many leftist leaders in power, it is plausible to surmise that a left bloc of countries might challenge Washington's long-term hemispheric agenda. Yet, behind all of the lofty rhetoric and idealism, serious fissures remain within South America's leftist movement, both within individual countries and within the larger regional milieu.
That, at least, is the impression I got from reading U.S. State Department cables recently declassified by whistle-blowing outfit WikiLeaks. Take, for example, the Luiz Inácio "Lula" da Silva administration in Brazil, which at times encouraged a "hostile" climate against the Free Trade Area of the Americas or FTAA, a corporately-sponsored plan backed by Washington, while on other occasions encouraging "public doubt and confusion through its own often-conflicting statements" about the accord. Behind the scenes, the Brazilian government was much more divided on the matter than commonly portrayed, torn between its South American loyalties on the one hand and the desire to gain access to the lucrative U.S. market for agricultural and industrial goods on the other.
With a big question mark hanging over the health of Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez, many in Washington may see opportunity. Though Chávez initially claimed that he was merely suffering from a "pelvic abscess," the firebrand leader subsequently conceded that he had cancer. In a shock to the nation, Chávez announced that he had a tumor removed during a sojourn in Cuba, and that he would "continue battling."
Reporting over the past several weeks suggests that Chávez might be in worse shape than has been commonly let on. Though he returned to Venezuela after his operation in Cuba, Chávez recently announced that he would pay yet another visit to Cuba in order to undergo chemotherapy. The firebrand leader, however, still refuses to reveal what kind of cancer he has or its severity. Ominously, one medical source reported to Reuters that Chávez's cancer had spread to the rest of his body and was in an advanced stage.
It's unclear how the president's shaky health might factor in the nation's upcoming 2012 election. The populist leader, who has closely identified himself with the so-called "Bolivarian Revolution," has never shown much interest in grooming a successor within his own United Socialist Party of Venezuela or PSUV, and so if Chávez should falter it is easy to imagine a scenario in which much of his political project could unravel or be derailed by the right.
The Caracas Cables
Judging from U.S. State Department cables recently declassified by whistle-blowing outfit WikiLeaks, many American diplomats, including former ambassador in Caracas Charles Shapiro, would view this outcome as highly desirable. In 2004, two years after the Bush administration aided the rightist opposition in its short-lived coup attempt against Chávez, Shapiro sat down with Alí Rodríguez, the head of Venezuela's state-run oil company
Late last year, Malaysian Opposition Leader Dr Anwar Ibrahim was being labelled "WikiLeaks' first Malaysian victim" after the Sydney Morning Herald released a US cable suggesting he had knowingly "walked into" a sex trap. But the purported evidence quickly dissolved into hearsay when Singapore's intelligences services could not substantiate their allegations of "technical intelligence". A cable released later showed US officials pressuring the Malaysian government to drop the sex charges against Dr Anwar because they had no credibility, either at home or abroad.
Current Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak accuses Anwar Ibrahim of leading a “small group” of malcontents with the purpose of toppling his government. That "group" is a coalition of non-governmental organisations, The Coalition for Free and Fair Elections, more popularly known as "Bersih" (which means "clean" in Malay). Its stated aim is to clean up the electoral system and ensure fair elections in Malaysia.
“It’s not so much about electoral reform," insists the Malaysian PM. "They want to show us as though we’re like the Arab Spring governments in the Middle East.”
The parallels are worth examining, even though Bersih campaigners insist their sole focus is clean elections, not regime overthrow.
A camp in Athens, Greece (via wikimedia)
The protest camp proved a central part of the revolution in Egypt. It’s impossible to say where the movements built around the camps of Spain and Greece, which closed earlier this month, will lead, but it is totally clear that their methods are capable of transforming consciousness (particularly among millenials), radicalizing participants and making a better future seem not only possible, but plausible. Camps have sprung up all across the world, and have strengthened protest movements and community activism wherever they’ve appeared. These instructions are based on personal experience from camps in Barcelona and New York City, conversations with campers from Madrid and Madison, and research of other camps around the world.
The early stages of any camp involve intensive planning. Although the camps in Tahrir and Spain were largely improvised from the ground up, they emerged from protests that had been planned for months. The first thing to do is to hold a big protest, and bring all your friends.
Authored by JP Orient
Our times are characterized by narratives from authority that don't pass the test of logic. The case of Syria's alleged "non-peaceful" nuclear reactor, destroyed by Israeli warplanes in September 2007, illustrates how technical knowledge has been diminished by argument from authority. This analysis explores an alternate narrative wherein Syria's "Box on the Euphrates" was a natural-uranium production facility and not a U.S.-alleged atomic reactor.
The U.S. narrative
After years of lackluster investigation and Syrian non-cooperation, inspectors reified U.S. assertions in June 2011 that Syria's Dair Alzour site was probably a nuclear reactor. Their key evidence was an indeterminate number of anthropogenic uranium particles found at the site along with limited satellite imagery that was augmented by U.S.-supplied photos of undisclosed domain showing the inside of a reactor. Syria was referred to the UN Security Council as a potential threat to "international peace and security."
Dair Alzour building near completion, date unknown (USG)
Authored by Joe B
Canada's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade created a WikiLeaks Task force, and this was first reported by the king of ATIP, Ken Rubin. Given the fact that Mr. Rubin didn’t release the source material didn’t really help matters, since we couldn’t pick apart the document, see which agencies were directly involved with the DFAIT-led WikiLeaks Task Force and we didn’t know what the policy was for people to visit WikiLeaks from various Government of Canada pages.
I sent an ATIP asking for the source document, and it was dealt with informally, so I got my cheque back. The document itself is 376 pages, and is a collection of e-mails dealing with the WikiLeaks cables, and providing a summary of them. There’s tons of acronyms that I don’t understand at all in DFAIT, luckily the DFAIT website provides this nice list of definitions that is required to follow along to see who is doing what.
On Wednesday the 27th of July the Metropolitan Police issued a press release stating that an 18 year old man had been arrested at a residential address on the Shetland Islands. The reason for his arrest is described as follows:
"He is believed to be linked to a continuing international investigation into the criminal activity of the so-called "hacktivist" groups Anonymous and LulzSec, and allegedly uses the online nickname "Topiary" which is presented as the spokesperson for the groups."
The release was quickly picked up by the international press, and various news outlets questioned whether the arrested person was indeed Topiary. Some even linked to a webpage containing a photograph and personal details of another person, who had been identified as Topiary by a rival hacker group. [WLCentral is not going to link to this page as it might contain defamatory information.]
The arrest was confirmed by Twitter user AnonymouSabu, an associate of Topiary, a short time later.
At the time of publication, the arrested person has not been charged, and is apparently still kept in custody at a London police station. This unusually long period of detention without charge prompted us to look deeper into the details surrounding his arrest.
From what has been publicly known, the only circumstantial evidence that the arrested person is indeed Topiary is that the last Tweet on the Lulzsec account appeared around the time of the arrest.
A diplomatic cable of the US embassy in Sofia, dated October 2, 2008, has been revealed on WikiLeaks, focusing on Bulgaria's energy dependence from Russia.
The report titled "BULGARIA AND THE ENERGY KNOT: SCENESETTER FOR OCT 7 VISIT OF SPE GRAY," has been sent by then US Ambassador in Sofia, Nancy McEldowney to Boyden Grey, at the time Special Envoy for European Affairs and Special Envoy for Eurasian Energy at the Mission of the United States to the European Union, ahead of his visit to Bulgaria.
The Bulgarian dependency is described by the Ambassador almost pornographically with the following words: "But the cartoon strip portraying a passionately eager Bulgaria in bed with the muscle bound duo of Gazprom and Lukoil is only partially true -- it is a tryst driven less by passion and more by a perceived lack of options."
The cable is revealed after the Bulgarian Government revoked the license of one of the "muscle bound lovers": the local refinery of the Russian oil giant Lukoil, who was forced to halt operations for at least a month and a half.
Тhe Director of the Bulgarian Customs Agency, Vanyo Tanov explained that the refinery cannot operate without the required electronic measuring devices Lukoil failed to install in its storage facilities, and can deal only with the fuels already outside the plant.
The recent news of alleged LulzSec spokesperson Topiary's arrest took the media spotlight away from WikiLeaks supporters' demonstration against PayPal. But it also raises questions about how online laws are applied, and the credibility of those who enforce them.
Topiary served as LulzSec's witty media front-man and his clever humour was tempered by a strong sense of justice.
"Laws are to be respected when they're fair, not obeyed without question," he said in a recent interview. "Revolution, to me, is bringing down the big guy while not forgetting to stand up for the little guy."
Topiary's arrest is just the latest in a string of arrests which are set to turn the spotlight back onto the US justice system. Many Anonymous supporters doubt the evidence being used against alleged juvenile hackers, while the WikiLeaks legal case against financial services like Visa, PayPal and Mastercard will generate even more public scrutiny.
A second wave of online protests has been launched againt PayPal, the Internet payment company whose December 2010 blocking of WikiLeaks donations provoked angry Denial Of Service (DDOS) attacks on their site. The latest protest, code-named #OpPayPal, was launched by AntiSec hacktivists, headed by Anonymous and Lulzsec, in response to recent FBI arrests of people allegedly involved in the earlier protest.
Statements posted by LulzSec and Anonymous encouraged PayPal users to close their accounts and condemned "the FBI's willingness to arrest and threaten those who are involved in ethical, modern cyber operations." The arrested individuals included a minor whose name could not be released in court, and Mercedes Renee Haefer, a 20 year old journalism student who now faces up to 15 years in prison and a maximum $500K fine.
Haefer's lawyer, Stanley L. Cohen of New York, told the media: "In the 18th century, people stood on street corners handing out pamphlets saying, 'Beware the all-powerful military and big government'. Some people listened. Some people walked away. Today, pamphleteers use the Internet."
What is an archive? What is its purpose? Has the kind of archive that has evolved in 20th and early 21st century Western civilisation remained consistent with the underlying principles of the contract struck between the people and the State in a democracy, whereby the State establishes the archive in part as a guarantee of its ability to carry out its actions in a fair and accountable way? WikiLeaks, embodying as it does a renegotiation of the boundaries of knowledge and power that exist between the citizenry and the State, has brought into sharp relief the unhelpful layers of bureaucracy and vested political interests that have blunted the power of the archive in society. Now, as technology permits us to sweep away many of the encumbrances of the paper based recordkeeping legacy, is it possible for the archive to reclaim its position at the heart of a healthy democracy?
The archive in the Greek city-state of Athens in about 400 BC was located in the Metroon, a temple situated by the courthouse in the centre of the city. This archive housed the law, contracts, diplomatic records, court proceedings, and other records – even archiving the day’s art forms such as the plays of Sophocles and others. These were the raw materials of the first democracy, and they were open to any private citizen to access and make copies. The archive was watched over by the magistrate, or ‘archon’, hence our word ‘archive’. This indicates the extent to which the archive related directly to the law; the archive was the law, it provided the foundation from which power in society was wielded. And the people (of the right class and education) could access records from this trusted repository without intermediaries, either physical or administrative, to understand for themselves how their government was operating.
During the 7 years Aung San Suu Kyi, Burma's world renowned pro-democracy dissident, was under her second house arrest - from 2003 through 2010 - nothing was publicly known about the diplomatic efforts to promote democracy between the international community and the Burmese military dictatorship.
The U.S. and European states imposed economic sanctions to pressure the regime, and ASEAN (Association of South East Asian Nations) member countries publicly denounced Burma without meaningful results. Recently released Southeast Asian cables by WikiLeaks, along with cables from India and China, provide a clearer picture of international efforts - from the frank reluctance of ASEAN member countries to push the Burmese regime in private talks to reports from inside-Burma.
Burma: NDL leadership expel competent young pro-democracy members, while the regime’s ‘economic patronage network’ remains firm
Authored by Slackbastard
On November 28, 2010 WikiLeaks—in conjunction with other major media organisations—began publishing classified United States diplomatic cables, detailing correspondence between the US State Department and its diplomatic missions around the world.
The publication of these cables has had an enormous impact upon world affairs. In its 2011 Annual Report, the human rights organisation ‘Amnesty International’ nominated the publication as a major catalyst in a series of uprisings against repressive regimes in the Middle East and North Africa—the so-called ‘Arab Spring’.
Not everyone has welcomed the revelations contained in the WikiLeaks publications quite so warmly, however, and governments around the world have begun to implement measures designed to stifle such activity.
In Australia, these measures are being implemented by way of a series of amendments to laws governing the operations of the state’s intelligence and security apparatus.
Late last night, the Wall Street Journal published a flailing, desperate editorial, attempting to tamp down the hacking scandal that has engulfed its owner Rupert Murdoch for the past two weeks. In a classic case of blame deflection, the paper took shots at several news organizations on both sides of the Atlantic that are not owned by News Corporation. But lost in the mire of attempted score settling and self-pity is the paper’s incredible stance on WikiLeaks and the First Amendment, which reeks of hypocrisy, and should not be left without a response.
The editorial, of course, does not dispute any of the facts in the hacking scandal investigation, which has been spearheaded by The Guardian and its intrepid reporter, Nick Davies. Instead, the Journal questions what’s driving The Guardian and its ilk, and then declares anything The Guardian has to say about journalistic ethics is null and void because it published, or partnered with others who published, documents leaked to WikiLeaks.
We also trust that readers can see through the commercial and ideological motives of our competitor-critics. The Schadenfreude is so thick you can't cut it with a chainsaw. Especially redolent are lectures about journalistic standards from publications that give Julian Assange and WikiLeaks their moral imprimatur.
This argument would also, of course, discount other papers’ comments on “journalistic standards,” including the Washington Post and the New York Times.
A new article by the Guardian's James Ball fleshes out David Leigh's allegation that Wikileaks is to blame for the arrest of Bradley Manning.
Last week's release of the unredacted Lamo-Manning chat logs contained more information on the means by which Bradley Manning is alleged to have leaked information to Wikileaks. For a year now, Julian Assange has insisted that he can neither confirm nor deny whether Bradley Manning is the source for the leaks, since - as a matter of policy - the identity of the source is not known to Wikileaks. Wikileaks protects its sources by keeping them anonymous through cryptography and a secure submission system. Even if pressured to reveal their sources by court order - so goes the reasoning - Wikileaks will be unable to do so.
The original redacted chat logs contained no information which contradicted this, but they did contain various passages which appeared to make the story less likely. In particular, Manning is said in the logs to have claimed to have "developed a relationship" with Assange. The unredacted logs, however, give a more complete picture, and appear to confirm that Assange was speaking truthfully. If they are genuine - which is not assured - the chatlogs relate how Assange, in what appear to have been anonymous communications, insisted on knowing as little as possible about Manning.
(02:56:46 PM) bradass87: he knows very little about me
(02:56:54 PM) bradass87: he takes source protection uber-seriously
(02:57:01 PM) bradass87: “lie to me” he says
(02:57:06 PM) firstname.lastname@example.org: Really. Interesting.
NB: See end of story for updates, now including an official reply by The National Library of Australia & the US Library of Congress. Additional contact details for National Library and Archives Canada as well as the US Library of Congress have been added.
Submitted by @nyxpersephone.
This article would not have been possible without the help of many Twitter users, most notably @Asher_Wolf, @carwinb, @CassPF, @dexter_doggie, @issylvia, @jaraparilla, @JLLLOW, @m_cetera, @NOH8ER.
A Cataloguing-in-Publication (CiP) record is what you usually see on the second page of a book, right after the title page. It is similar to the catalogue record of a book in a library and contains basic information on the book, such as the author's name and the title of the book. It also contains "keywords" ("subject headers") that may be used by librarians and other information professionals to classify the book in their collections.
CiP records are usually provided upon request by national libraries and/or national bibliographic databases, such as the National Library of Australia (NLA) and the Library of Congress (LOC). So the CiP is a useful thing, albeit rather boring and usually only of interest to librarians and information professionals.
However, in the case of WikiLeaks and Andrew Fowler's book "The Most Dangerous Man in the World", the CiP makes for an interesting story. Examining the keyword section headers of the CiP-record on Fowler's book, one cannot help but notice the last one: "Extremist web sites".
A whirlwind of change in the way people communicate is sweeping the world. The spread of social media, blogs and online alternative media is rapidly changing how people are informed about current events. More are turning away from newspapers and TV, which have over the last few decades become monopolized by large corporations. Along with the spread of the Internet, WikiLeaks and their release of secret government documents has changed the landscape of the media. As Greg Mitchell's recent book title states, we are now in The Age of WikiLeaks.
There is much controversy over the future of journalism. The discourse surrounding WikiLeaks in its relation to traditional media has become the eye of the storm. Both the New York Times and The Guardian have come out strongly critical of WikiLeaks and Julian Assange. Bill Keller, executive editor of the New York Times has refused to refer to Assange as a journalist. In an interview on PBS, Keller described Assange as an activist with an agenda to promote, carrying an ideology of transparency, claiming that his aim is to embarrass the US government. Recently, Keller's view on this topic has shifted a bit. He came close to admitting WikiLeaks is a journalistic entity. Yet, he distanced himself from the non-profit whistle-blower site, saying "it still wasn't 'my kind of news organization,' and that if Assange was acting as a journalist, 'I don't regard him as a kindred spirit - he's not the kind of journalist I am'" (as cited in Ingram, 2011).
Bulgaria's State Agency for National Security (DANS) is probing within its authority revelations of the whistle-blowing site WikiLeaks that former Chief of General Staff, Nikola Kolev, has provided valuable information to the US Embassy in the beginning of 2003.
The information was reported by Prime Minister, Boyko Borisov, during parliamentary control Friday as a response to a question coming from the Member of the Parliament from the far-right, nationalist Ataka party, Pavel Shopov.
Borisov explained DANS does not have investigative functions, but if there is evidence confirming the Wikileaks report, this evidence would be turned to the Prosecutor's Office.
The cable in question was released on June 15 by WikiLeaks and provided to the project for investigative journalism www.bivol.bg.
According to the US diplomatic cable, "Gen. Kolev has leveled charges of corruption within the Ministry of Defense, MOD, in a (thus far) still secret report delivered to the President and senior MOD leaders."
Kolev, who is currently Chief of Staff of President, Georgi Parvanov, and the Presidential Office declined any comments at the time.
MP Shopov replied he was satisfied by Borisov's answer because details were not as important as the fact the case is being investigated.
Meanwhile, Bivol.bg commented they were still not able to find out the exact meaning of SIMO, which in another cable, has allegedly confirmed that Borisov was involved in major traffic in methamphetamines.
On November 10, 2009, a blackout left 18 of the 26 Brazilian states without power, also effecting Paraguay. At the time, it was the worst accident of its kind for the Itaipu Plant, from its inauguration in 1982. Paraguayan and Brazilian authorities reported a "total shutdown" of the turbines. A map of the event can be accessed here.
The explanation of the event was never clear and is still considered the largest blackout occurred in the country. Brazilian authorities, specifically the Minister of Mines and Energy, Edison Lobao pointed to meteorological reasons for the event, which was confirmed later by a government commission to study the only open case.
WIRED's publication of the full Lamo-Manning chat logs brings a year-long controversy to a close. But questions remain over WIRED's reticence.
On June 10, 2010, Kevin Poulsen and Kim Zetter at WIRED Magazine published the abridged chat logs - supposedly between Adrian Lamo and Bradley Manning. The logs gave considerable insight into the person accused of leaking to Wikileaks, and to his possible motivations.
However, many questions were raised over the veracity of the logs, the reliability of their source, Adrian Lamo, and his relationship to Kevin Poulsen. Poulsen and Zetter's introduction to the logs stated that redactions had been made to those parts of the logs that "discuss deeply personal information about Manning or that reveal apparently sensitive military information," but shortly after the release, other portions of the logs which fell into neither category appeared in a Washington Post article, and on BoingBoing. These extracts raised the question as to what purposes WIRED had performed the redactions.