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Chinese Data Leak Reveals Millions Of People Actively Tracked By Surveillance Network

Chinese Data Leak Reveals Millions Of People Actively Tracked By Surveillance Network

A data leak discovered by a Dutch internet expert has revealed over 2.5 million people who are under active surveillance by a Chinese government contractor, reports Reuters

FILE PHOTO – Security cameras are installed at the entrance to the Id Kah Mosque during a government organised trip in Kashgar, Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, China, January 4, 2019. Picture via REUTERS/Ben Blanchard

An exposed database maintained by Shenzhen-based facial-recognition technology company SenseNets Technology revealed ID card numbers, birth dates and location data which went unprotected for months, according to Victor Gevers, co-founder of GDI.Foundation – a nonprofit organization which hunts for critical vulnerabilities around the internet. 

Exposed data also showed about 6.7 million location data points linked to the people which were gathered within 24 hours, tagged with descriptions such as “mosque”, “hotel,” “internet cafe” and other places where surveillance cameras were likely to be found. –Reuters

“It was fully open and anyone without authentication had full administrative rights. You could go in the database and create, read, update and delete anything,” said Gevers. 

SenseNets contracts with police departments across China, and is a subsidiary of Shenzhen-listed NetPosa Technologies Ltc, which has offices in several Chinese provinces and regions, including Xinjiang. 

Gevers said GDI.Foundation immediately alerted SenseNets to the vulnerability. While they did not respond, they took steps to secure the database. 

Beijing has been at the forefront of facial recognition technology, such as their “SkyNet” system deployed in over 16 provinces, cities and autonomous regions which can instantly scan faces and compare them to a database of criminal suspects at a speed of 3 billion times per second, according to People’s Daily

Maduro Urges Supporters To Hit Streets As Russian “Security Contractors” Arrive In Venezuela

Maduro Urges Supporters To Hit Streets As Russian “Security Contractors” Arrive In Venezuela

Update: Maduro – now backed by Russian military contractors, has urged his supporters to take to the streets to defend the legitimacy of his government. The Venezuelan leader has vowed that his country won’t turn into a “Syria or Libya” situation, and that the Venezuelan military must prepare for an invasion. 

According to Reuters, Maduro says he’s willing to travel to New York to discuss the situation with the UN Security Council. 

.@NicolasMaduro dice esta dispuesto a ir a Nueva York a debatir en Consejo de Seguridad de @ONU_es

***

As the international community splits along governments who continue to back embattled Venezuelan ruler Nicolas Maduro and governments, led by the US, who have officially recognized opposition leader Juan Guaido as the country’s legitimate head of state, Reuters reported that a group of Russian mercenaries with ties to the Kremlin have been sent to Venezuela to provide security for Maduro as he struggles with the biggest threat to his rule in his six years in power.

Venz

The contractors are believed to be from the Wagner Group, a group of private contractors who have performed secret missions on behalf of the government, including fighting in Syria and the Ukraine (which brings to mind this incident from last February when US-backed forces killed 100 Russian mercenaries in what was the closest thing to a direct proxy conflict between Russia and the US in Syria). It’s unclear when the contractors arrived, or when they intend to leave. Russia has offered to mediate the conflict between Maduro and Guaido, while joining with China to criticize the US for interfering in Venezuelan affairs. 

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

German Business Blasts Trump’s NordStream 2 Sanctions As “Attack On EU Sovereignty”

A German business group said on Friday that any attempts by the United States to stop Europe from buying Russian gas in the form of additional sanctions against Moscow would be an attack on European sovereignty, reports Reuters.

“If the U.S. decided to sanction the use of Russian gas, that would be an attack on German and European sovereignty,” said Wolfgang Buechele, chairman of the German Committee on East European Economic Relations (GCEEER?) at a new year news conference.

The United States has threatened sanctions against European firms involved with the Nord Stream 2 pipeline which would carry gas straight to Germany under the Baltic Sea. The project is being spearheaded by Russian state gas giant Gazprom, and has been driving a wedge between Germany and its allies over economic harm to Ukraine, which would be deprived of lucrative gas transit fees it currently charges.

“I believe the Nord Stream 2 project is in the pure interests of not just Germany but also of Europe,” said Buechele of the pipeline, which would branch off into Europe-wide gas transmission networks.

In July, President Trump slammed Germany at a bilateral breakfast in Brussels for being a “captive of Russia because it is getting so much of its energy from Russia.”

The former Chancellor of Germany is the head of the pipeline company that is supplying the gas,” Trump continued.

“Ultimately Germany will have almost 70 percent of their country controlled by Russia with natural gas. So you tell me, is that appropriate?” Trump asked. “It should have never been allowed to happen. So Germany is totally controlled by Russia.”

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

How Mainstream Media Join the US Government Offensive Against Iran: Case Study of Reuters

How Mainstream Media Join the US Government Offensive Against Iran: Case Study of Reuters

How Mainstream Media Join the US Government Offensive Against Iran: Case Study of Reuters

Summary: A 2013 news investigation of Iranian corruption by Reuters news service has been cited by at least four books published one after another, the most recently in 2018. 

It has also been cited by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in 2018 speech. Given the article’s ongoing influence, this article will scrutinize flaws in the reporting techniques and raise reasonable questions about several of its findings. The article will also mention, a piece of important historical context, that was long assumed, but made official in 2013 – the same year the story was published – when the US government released classified documents about its involvement in the overthrow of Iran’s democratically elected leader in 1953 and the establishment of the Shah. The purpose of this article is not to stain the reputation of an entire news agency – but to simply lay out an alternative context for interpreting a single, influential story. 

Ever since the beginning of the Iranian Islamic Revolution, the United States has been leading a propaganda campaign against Iran, minimizing own harmful role in key historical events, justifying an ousted monarchist regime, and demonizing the new political system. Frequently it is done in lighter forms, for example by claiming that new government is far from perfect or even the same as a previous one, but the methods can sometimes be so radical that the characteristics of the two systems are completely inverted.

While the Reuters claims Iran is active in spreading disinformation online, the history of the agency’s reports about Iran shows the opposite. The latest of such reports is a false report about Iran’s missile program. The falsehood of the article has been dissected here.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Wikileaks Warns Reporters Not To Publish 140 “False And Defamatory” Statements About Julian Assange

WikiLeaks is sick and tired of mainstream media outlets publishing inaccurate and at times defamatory claims about its founder, Julian Assange. So in a recent email to journalists who regularly cover the organization, Wikileaks described 140 “false and defamatory” claims about its founder, who has been living inside the Ecuadorian embassy in London since June 2012.

According to Reuters, WikiLeaks accused the Guardian of publishing a false report about Assange, though it was not immediately clear what specific report prompted the warning. The Guardian has refused to comment on the allegations.

The 5,000 word email claimed it was defamatory to suggest that Assange had ever been an “agent or officer of any intelligence service,” or that he had ever been employed by the Russian government, or that he is – or has been – closely connected with the Russian state.

Assange

Some of the claims were more bizarre, like claiming that Assange was a pedophile, rapist, murder or a member of the Muslim Brotherhood. Others pertained to personal hygiene, like that Assange bleaches his hair, or has poor grooming habits. They also said it was defamatory to claim that Assange is a hacker or that he is not an Australian citizen.

Assange has remained in the embassy for fear that he could be extradited to the US to face charges stemming from violations of the Espionage Act. According to reports from late last year, the DOJ is preparing to file an indictment of Assange. Meanwhile, speculation that Ecuador could soon withdraw its offer of asylum has been simmering since President Lenin Moreno took over from the seemingly more sympathetic Rafael Correa.

Though the email was marked “not for publication,” a copy leaked online in its entirety.

Read the full text below:

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Commentary: 2019 will be the year of more state control

A signature theme of the new year is the possibility of a malign confrontation between the world’s greatly enhanced capacity for electronic surveillance and the weakening of democratic control. The antidote to that risk is the democratic spirit and civil freedoms – both of which are suffering world-wide. These are not dead, but they are unwell, at times untended.

A man goes through the process of eye scanning for Aadhaar, India’s national government database, at a registration centre in New Delhi, Jan. 17, 2018. REUTERS/Saumya Khandelwal

The world’s two most populous states, China and India –together, around 37 percent of the global population – have rolled out nationwide digital systems of monitoring and classification. These combine the collection of personal information needed for fuller citizenship with the capacity for fuller surveillance and intervention by the state.

China’s system overtly seeks to monitor the behavior of its 1.4 billion people and to reward those actions the state/Communist Party defines as “good” or punish those it defines as “bad.” It is the secular alternative to religiously-guided societies, substituting the commandments of a god mediated through a priesthood with the criteria of a state whose ruling party claims virtual infallibility through its interpretation of the philosophy of Karl Marx aided by a gloss provided by its president – the “Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era,” now written into China’s constitution.

The country’s “social credit system” combines face, voice and fingerprint recognition technology with monitoring of public and private behavior such as internet use, educational choices and social networks, as well as a huge web of paid informants who report unusual activities.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

French Police Brace for Fifth Wave of Yellow Vest Protests

France is set to deploy tens of thousands of police and gendarmes across the country on Saturday, including 8,000 in Paris, to deal with a fifth weekend of Yellow Vest protests – just days after three people were killed and 13 injured after a mass shooting in the eastern city of Strasbourg.

Paris police chief Michel Delpuech said authorities are on watch for “violent groups” infiltrating the protests, and that riot officers will protect landmarks such as the Arc de Triomphe and the presidential palace, reports Reuters.

We need to be prepared for worst-case scenarios,” Delpuech told RTL radio, who added that he doesn’t expect businesses in the capital to suffer the same level of disruption as they have over the past three weeks, when major stores and hotels suffered a dramatic drop in business as tourists avoided the area.

This weekend’s Yellow Vest protests, nicknamed “Acte V” – mark the fifth week of anti-government outrage which began over opposition to an announced fuel-tax designed to pay for climate change policies.

Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said it was time for the Yellow Vests to tone down their protests and acknowledge that they had achieved their goals after French President Emmanuel Macron rolled out a series of economic and tax incentives, including a minimum wage hike, no tax on overtime pay, tax-free year-end bonuses, and a six month delay to the fuel tax.

While most French people polled by Odoxa said they found Macron’s proposal “satisfactory,” 59% of those polled say they were “not convinced” by the measures.

54% of those surveyed said the Yellow Vest protests should continue.

Many of the Yellow Vests have flat-out rejected Macron’s proposals, according to European-Views.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Mexico’s Oil Crisis Deepens

Mexico’s Oil Crisis Deepens

Pemex oil

Mexico’s state oil company Pemex said it produced an average 1.76 million bpd of crude in October, down 7 percent from October last year, Reuters reports, citing data released by the company. This is also one of the lowest monthly production rates since 1990 when records began.

The decline was attributed to the natural depletion of mature fields, highlighting the urgent need for new production in the country. The outgoing government of Enrique Pena Nieto launched a sweeping reform in Mexico’s energy sector, one of its aims being to open up the local oil wealth to foreign operators in order to stem this decline in production. The incoming government is currently reviewing oil contracts signed by the previous administration to make sure no corruption was involved in the deals.

Exports of crude also declined last month, and by a lot more than production. Pemex exported an average 1.03 million bpd, down by 25 percent from a year earlier. President-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador earlier this year said Pemex should keep more crude for its refineries instead of exporting it to reduce Mexico’s dependency on imported fuels, but the country’s refining sector needs a lot of work to make this plan successful.

It was in October that Pemex’s refineries hit a record low utilization rate of 25.7 percent, according to an S&P Global Platts report, which also noted the causes of the drop included shortages of light crude and technical difficulties at some refineries. Pemex would need to upgrade its refineries to produce more gasoline to make local refining more profitable as currently its facilities produce a lot more fuel oil than would make economic sense.

Despite the problems, Obrador has ambitious plans, including an increase in crude oil production to 2.6 million bpd by the end of his six-year term in office and a lot more domestic refining.

China Ambassador Warns Of “Dire Consequences” If No Deal, Hints At “All Out” War

Earlier today, Trump’s chief economic advisor Larry Kudlow poured cold water on expectations for an imminent resolution of the US-China trade war when he said that negotiations in the run up to this week’s G-20 talks “haven’t yielded any progress”, and unless something changes, the “administration will move ahead with the next phase of tariffs.”

“Things have been moving very slowly between the two countries,” Kudlow said, adding that it was up to Xi to come up with new ideas to break the deadlock. And, echoing a report from the US Trade Representative published earlier this month, Kudlow said there hasn’t been much of a change in China’s approach. “We can’t find much change in their approach,” Kudlow told reporters. “President Xi may have a lot more to say in the bilateral [with Mr Trump], I hope he does by the way, I think we all hope he does…but at the moment, we don‘t see it.”

Just a few hours later, a report by Reuters confirmed that Kudlow won’t be “seeing it” for a long time, because according to China’s ambassador to the US, Cui Tiankai, China is going to this week’s G-20 summit hoping for a deal to ease a damaging trade war with the United States, even as he warned of “dire consequences” if U.S. hardliners – read the trade hawks led by Peter Navarro – try to separate the world’s two largest economies.

China’s ambassador to the United States Cui Tiankai 

Asked whether he though hardliners in the White House were seeking to separate the closely linked U.S. and Chinese economies, Cui said he did not think it was possible or helpful to do so, but warned that “I don’t know if people really realize the possible consequences – the impact, the negative impact – if there is such a decoupling.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

“It Will Be A Cold War”: APEC Summit Ends In Unprecedented Chaos After Dramatic US-China Showdown

One day after vice president Mike Pence and China’s president Xi Jinping clashed after exchanging sharply worded barbs in a showdown between the two superpowers, on Sunday the annual Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit ended in unprecedented chaos and disarray, without agreement on a joint communique for the first time in its history as the escalating rivalry between the United States and China dominated proceedings and reflected escalating trade tensions.

Competition between the United States and China over the Pacific was also thrown into focus with the United States and its Western allies launching a coordinated response to China’s Belt and Road program, Reuters added.

One diplomat told Reuters tension between the U.S. and China, bubbling all week, erupted when the Chinese government’s top diplomat, Wang Yi, objected during a leaders’ retreat to two paragraphs in a draft document seen by Reuters. One mentioned opposing “unfair trade practices” and reforming the WTO, while another concerned sustainable development.

“These two countries were pushing each other so much that the chair couldn’t see an option to bridge them,” said the unnamed diplomat. “China was angered that the reference to WTO blamed a country for unfair trade practices.

Sunday’s dramatic conclusion was foreshadowed by accusations that Chinese officials had attempted to strong-arm officials in Papua New Guinea, which was hosting the event, into issuing a statement that fitted what Beijing wanted. The Chinese vigorously denied the claims. When asked about the impasse, Papua New Guinea’s Prime Minister Peter O’Neill was quoted by the South China Morning Postsaying: “You know the two big giants in the room, so what can I say?”

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Trump Claims Victory As Oil Prices Plummet

Trump Claims Victory As Oil Prices Plummet

Trump

Oil prices are now down over 20 percent from recent highs, and President Trump knows exactly where the credit for that belongs. “If you look at oil prices they’ve come down very substantially over the last couple of months,” President Trump said in a news conference last week. “That’s because of me.”

The President is partially correct about that, but not for the reasons he thinks. He attributes it to his hard line on OPEC. But what has actually happened is that crude oil inventories in the U.S. have risen for seven straight weeks.

As pointed out in the previous article, one reason for that is that China, in response to the ongoing trade spat, has stopped importing U.S. oil. Earlier this year China imported more than half a million barrels of day of crude oil from the U.S. Loss of this export market has contributed to the inventory growth in the U.S. — and hence to the drop in crude oil prices. (Presumably, crude oil inventories are dropping elsewhere, but possibly in countries with less transparency about their inventories).

Some feel that there is also an element of fear that global demand may be slowing. But this week Reuters reported that China’s crude oil imports reached an all-time high in October. So, despite the trade war, demand in China doesn’t appear to be slowing. But China isn’t getting its oil from the U.S. now.

Where is China getting its oil? Iran, for one. Another way that President Trump has helped oil prices go down is that he blinked as the deadline for sanctions on Iran’s oil exports neared. Oil prices had risen about 50 percent over the past year because of the impending sanctions that were expected to take Iran’s oil off the market. (I don’t recall him taking credit for oil prices that rose in response to sanctions).

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

China Is Helping Governments of the World Build Their Own Surveillance State

China Is Helping Governments of the World Build Their Own Surveillance State

Everywhere we look the influence of the Chinese government and their totalitarian surveillance methods can be seen.

Go ahead and search “China surveillance” (Pro-tip: Use DuckDuckGo or an alternative search engine!) and watch how many articles pop up regarding the growing digital dystopia being finalized across the People’s Republic of China. Titles like, Smart ID cards and facial recognition: How China spreads surveillance tech around the world and China’s new surveillance state, everyone will be watched, reviewed and rated really warm the heart and fill the head with a vision of a society where no thought is private, criticism of the State is illegal, and your social behaviors affect your place in life.

This is the current state of much of China. And it’s coming to a neighborhood near you.

Case in point, Reuters recently reported that Chinese telecom giant ZTE Corp is developing a “Smart Card” for Venezuela to help track citizens every move. The Venezuelan government sent a group to China to learn how to build their own surveillance state. Reuters reports:

‘What we saw in China changed everything,’ said the member of the Venezuelan delegation, technical advisor Anthony Daquin. His initial amazement, he said, gradually turned to fear that such a system could lead to abuses of privacy by Venezuela’s government. ‘They were looking to have citizen control.’

The following year, when he raised concerns with Venezuelan officials, Daquin told Reuters, he was detained, beaten and extorted by intelligence agents. They knocked several teeth out with a handgun and accused him of treasonous behavior, Daquin said, prompting him to flee the country. Government spokespeople had no comment on Daquin’s account.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Bank of England refuses to return 14 tonnes of gold to Venezuela

Bank of England refuses to return 14 tonnes of gold to Venezuela 

The Bank of England claims to be one of the largest physical gold custodians in the world, holding gold bars in vault storage on behalf of more than 70 central banks and a number of commercial (bullion) banks.

As a long-standing and well-known gold custodian, it should therefore be a simple matter operationally and logistically for any central bank customer from around the world to withdraw gold bars from the Bank of England and to have those gold bars sent overseas. These types of shipments have been happening at the Bank of England for hundreds of years.

Such an event would normally not generate any media interest nor even be known about in the public domain such is the secrecy and opacity of central bank gold transactions. For these reasons, the current case involving the Bank of England’s refusal to deliver Venezuela’s gold stored in London, and the way its been publicized, raises some questions and deserves comment.

HM Treasury and Fleet Street

So what exactly is the issue? On 5 November, the London headquartered Reuters news agency reported that the Venezuelan state, fearing sanctions, is attempting to repatriate 14 tonnes of gold from the Bank of England in London, but that this gold withdrawal and transport operation has not yet been actioned despite the withdrawal request being made by Venezuela nearly two months ago.

According to Reuters’ sources which were two unnamed “public officials with direct knowledge of the operation“, Venezuela’s gold bar withdrawal delay is being caused by the difficulty and cost in obtaining insurance for the gold shipment, and also because the Bank of England wants to know what Venezuela plans to do with its gold once it receives it.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

 

Ebola Outbreak “Worst In Congo’s History” As Hundreds Dead; Risk Of Spread To Uganda “Very High” 

The most recent Ebola outbreak spreading through the Democratic Republic of Congo is now the worst in the country’s history, with 209 dead and 333 confirmed or probable cases, according to the DRC’s health ministry.

According to The Express, efforts to contain the disease have been hampered by localized armed conflict and community resistance to health officials.

The outbreak, the second this year, began in North Kivu before spreading east to Ituri. Oly Ilunga Kalenga, the DRC’s minister of public health, said efforts to contain the deadly outbreak have been thwarted by violence against health officials and civilians as militant groups battle for control in the affected region. –Express

Two health workers were killed during the militant attack according to the minister, while 11 civilians and a soldier were killed last month in the city of Beni – the outbreak’s epicenter.

And on Thursday, the United Nations announced that at least seven UN peacekeepers were killed by militants in at the epicenter of the Ebola outbreak.

“Our peacekeeping colleagues tell us that six peacekeepers from Malawi and one from Tanzania who are part of the U.N. peacekeeping operation in the DRC … were killed yesterday, in Beni territory, in North Kivu,” said UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric.

Meanwhile, a USAID worker speaking to Reuters on condition of anonymity said “We are absolutely concerned about the ongoing outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo. It is occurring in an area of active conflict, so physical insecurity is a persistent challenge and complication to the ongoing response efforts.”

“No other epidemic in the world has been as complex as the one we are currently experiencing,” said Kalenga.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

“Flashpoint For War”: U.S. And Japan Plan Military Response To Chinese Incursions Of Disputed Islands

Things are again rapidly heating up in the East China Sea amidst already heightened tensions in a region where Washington is increasingly asserting the right of navigation in international waters against broad Chinese claims and seeking to defend the territorial possessions of its allies.

According to a bombshell new Reuters report the tiny and rocky Senkaku Islands which lie between northern Taiwan and the Japanese home islands are “rapidly turning into a flashpoint for war”. Alarmingly, Japanese government sources have been quoted as saying Tokyo and the United States are drawing up an operations plan for an allied military response to Chinese threats to the disputed Senkaku Islands.

The Senkaku Islands, historically claimed by both Japan and China.

From nearly the start of his entering the White House, President Trump has said he’s committed to upholding Article 5 of the US-Japan security treaty signed the post-war years of the mid-20th century: “We are committed to the security of Japan and all areas under its administrative control and to further strengthening our very crucial alliance,” Trump had promised from the first official reception of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe back in February 2017, and since consistently maintained.

Japanese government sources have told regional media that the joint plan of response with the United States involves “how to respond in the event of an emergency on or around the uninhabited islands in the East China Sea” — which is set to be completed by next march, according to the statements.

Beijing claims the islands as part of its historical inheritance — as it does neighbouring Taiwan, despite failing to seize the protectorate during the Chinese Civil War.

Taiwan, however, was a Japanese protectorate before World War II.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

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