WikiLeaks’ advocates are wreaking ‘hacktivism’
By Ian Shapira and Joby Warrick
Washington Post Staff Writers
In England, a 26-year-old advertising agency employee caters to multinational clients but on the side has been communicating with a secretive band of strangers devoted to supporting WikiLeaks.
Halfway around the world, a 24-year-old in Montana has used a publicly available – and, according to security experts, suddenly popular software program called Low Orbit Ion Cannon with the goal of shutting down Web sites of WikiLeaks’ perceived enemies.
Syria’s underground poetry scene
Local poet Luqman Derki’s weekly poetry night held in a hotel basement attracts hundreds of locals seeking to present and hear original poetry.
By Tom Howard, Correspondent
It is Monday night in the basement bar of the Fardoss Tower Hotel in Damascus and a packed audience is getting restless. Local poet, journalist, and playwright Luqman Derki takes to the podium. Silencing the crowd with a glare, he begins to recite an ode to love and loss.
Welcome to Beit al-Qasid (house of the poet), Mr. Derki’s weekly poetry night. What began informally in 2006 is now a phenomenon attracting hundreds.
“The main idea was to take poetry out of its typical setting,” says Derki. “Poetry evenings can be so boring, so I decided create something free and exciting.”
A Secretive Banking Elite Rules Trading in Derivatives
By LOUISE STORY
Published: December 11, 2010
On the third Wednesday of every month, the nine members of an elite Wall Street society gather in Midtown Manhattan.
The men share a common goal: to protect the interests of big banks in the vast market for derivatives, one of the most profitable – and controversial – fields in finance. They also share a common secret: The details of their meetings, even their identities, have been strictly confidential.
Drawn from giants like JPMorgan Chase, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley, the bankers form a powerful committee that helps oversee trading in derivatives, instruments which, like insurance, are used to hedge risk.
Financial arms race underway in Washington
Posh fundraisers already are in full swing after record spending on midterms. Nobody wants to get ambushed again.
By Tom Hamburger and Matea Gold, Tribune Washington Bureau
Reporting from Washington – When it comes to money in politics, the new normal is already on vivid display.
It could be seen last week in posh restaurants and corporate townhouses on Capitol Hill, where politicians held fundraisers at a record pace. It was evident at Washington’s blue-chip law firms, where campaign finance lawyers began work setting up new political committees to collect unlimited donations. It was apparent in the halls of Congress, where lawmakers swapped strategies about how to contend with muscular interest groups looking to take them out.
Britain’s high street chains are named by sweatshop probe
Marks & Spencer, Next, Monsoon, Debenhams, Dorothy Perkins and Miss Selfridge accused by anti-poverty campaigners
The Observer, Sunday 12 December 2010
Some of the biggest names on the British high street use Indian sweatshops which pay poverty wages and break labour laws to keep costs to a bare minimum, according to a new report.
Marks & Spencer, Next, Monsoon, Debenhams, Dorothy Perkins and Miss Selfridge are all named as having used factories which exploit their workers.
The allegations – levelled in a report by anti-poverty campaigners War on Want and Labour Behind the Label – will come as a particular embarrassment to M&S, which is running a glitzy, multi-million pound TV advertising campaign under the slogan “Don’t put a foot wrong this Christmas”. It is the second time this year the company has faced sweatshop allegations.
Kosovo holds historic election as division persists
Kosovo is holding its first parliamentary election since unilaterally declaring independence from Serbia almost three years ago.
The BBC 12 December 2010
The ethnic Albanian majority and small Serb minority remain largely estranged, more than a decade after a Nato-led conflict broke Belgrade’s control.
Serbia has not recognised Kosovo’s independence and most Serbs are expected to boycott the elections.
The EU says the election is important for Kosovo’s hopes of entry.
During the campaign, institutionalised corruption and the dire state of Kosovo’s economy have consistently topped lists of voter concerns.
‘Our lives became something we’d never dreamt’: The former Israeli soldiers who have testified against army abuses
Former Israeli soldiers who have testified against army abuses have for the first time given up their anonymity, to make their voices all the harder to ignore. Donald Macintyre gets an exclusive preview of a powerful new book
Sunday, 12 December 2010
For anyone who has covered Israel, the West Bank and Gaza over the past few years, reading Occupation of the Territories, the new book from the Israeli ex-soldiers organisation Breaking the Silence, can be an eerily evocative experience.
A conscript from the Givati Brigade, for example, describes how troops in the company operating next to his inside Gaza during 2008 had talked about an event earlier in the day. After knocking on the door of a Palestinian house and receiving no immediate answer, they had placed a “fox” – military slang for explosives used to break through doors and walls – outside the front door.
Deadly act scripted for state TV
December 12, 2010
TEHRAN: Iran’s English-language Press TV has aired footage of a woman, sentenced to death by stoning, re-enacting what it said was the murder of her husband.
The broadcast came a day after reports from Germany that Sakineh Mohammadi-Ashtiani, whose case has sparked an international outcry, had been released.
But those hopes were dashed as Iranian authorities mocked talk of her release by saying Mohammadi-Ashtiani was still in custody.
Mothers – the hidden addicts of Afghanistan
Opium is routinely used as a painkiller in parts of the country where there is little medical help
By Aunohita Mojumdar in Kabul Sunday, 12 December 2010
Mariana lies on her bed in the Sanga Amaj clinic in Kabul. She shares a small ward with 12 women enrolled in the clinic’s 45-day residential drug rehabilitation programme. At 22, she is five months pregnant with her fourth child. Her one-year-old son lies in a separate room of the clinic. He is also addicted to opium.
Mariana is one of an estimated one million Afghan adults addicted to illegal drugs, according to the latest survey from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).
Big fat red faces for Singapore leaders
Philip Dorling and Nick McKenzie
December 12, 2010
MALAYSIA’S “dangerous” decline is fuelled by incompetent politicians, Thailand is dogged by corruption and a “very erratic” crown prince, Japan is a “big fat loser” and India is ”stupid”.
So say some of Singapore’s highest ranking officials, according to leaked US State Department cables which are likely to spark intense political controversy in the region.
The cables, leaked exclusively to The Sun-Herald by WikiLeaks, detail separate meetings between senior US officials and Singapore’s Foreign Affairs chiefs Peter Ho, Bilahari Kausikan and Tommy Koh.
Central Africa: four-nation ‘sting’ operation busts wildlife smuggling ring
Conservationists hail breakthrough in regional co-operation to fight illegal traffic in ivory, parrots, skins and live animals
Charlotte Wilkins Yaoundé, Cameroon
The Observer, Sunday 12 December 2010
Sting operationsby wildlife activists in central Africa have broken up highly organised smuggling rings sending endangered species abroad, leading to the arrest of key dealers and the recovery of hundreds of kilos of ivory, turtle shells and animal skins.
The clampdown took place across four neighbouring countries: Cameroon, Gabon, the Central African Republic and the Republic of Congo.Observers said the arrests last week, co-ordinated by the Last Great Ape Organisation (Laga), a wildlife law-enforcement NGO, in Cameroon, Gabon, the Central African Republic and Congo-Brazzaville, marked a big step towards regional enforcement of the laws protecting endangered species.
South Sudan ruling party supports independence
“Since unity has s not been made attractive, we are promoting what our people choose because we are following the people,” said Anne Itto, deputy secretary general of the southern branch of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM).
Asked to clarify, she told reporters: “Separation.”
Almost three million people have signed up to vote in southern Sudan’s independence referendum in January, organisers of the vote said on Wednesday at the close of registration.