The African Union May Have Died with Gaddafi, But African Continental Free Trade Area Is Alive and Well

Before his death, one of Muammar Gaddafi’s most ambitions goals/projects was to unite the continent of Africa by dropping the US dollar in exchange for an entirely new economic system/model called the “African Union” – which would have been similar in many ways to the European Union, just in Africa. In fact, while it is impossible to ever quantify, it has since been argued by many that the only reason Gaddafi was assassinated by Western powers in the first place was to throw Libya into a state of civil/economic chaos, and therefore prevent the Union from forming well before it could ever begin.

Regardless, earlier this month the Governments of South Africa and Togo agreed to ratify a document known as the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), growing the combined total of state signatures to 49. As was reported by Tralac, the African Trade Law Centre, “the AfCFTA will bring together all 55 member states of the African Union covering a market of more than 1.2 billion people, including a growing middle class, and a combined gross domestic product (GDP) of more than US$3.4 trillion.” Once complete, the project plans on making the AfCFTA the single largest free trade zone in the entire world, expected to boost trade inside Africa by up to 52.3%, eliminate the current 6.1% tariff imposed on African nations by foreign traders, and bring in untold amounts of new manufacturing jobs/opportunities throughout the continent. Organizers also hope to establish an entirely new form of currency for trade members as well, though discussions on what this would look like or entail are still ongoing.

While the AfCFTA was first introduced back in 2012, less than a year after Gaddafi’s death, as of the end of December 2018, 49 of 55 African states have endorsed their full support of the ‘union‘ should it ever be formed – with more expected to sign on throughout the course of 2019. However, as per document/treaty requirements, in order for AfCFTA to officially go into effect, at least 22 member nations must first submit articles of ratification. Earlier this month South Africa and Togo submitted their ratification, bringing the official total to 15. According to the African Union’s (AU) Commissioner for Trade and Industry, Albert Muchanga, he is “confident the remaining votes required to enforce AfCFTA will be secured before the next AU summit in February 2019.

Official Document:

[pdf-embedder url=”https://roguemedia.co/wp-content/uploads/2018/12/webditc2016d7_en.pdf”%5D

 

Government of Sudan Restricts National Internet Access, Blocks Social Media Amidst Ongoing National Protests

Dating back to December 20th 2018, in the wake of massive demonstrations across the country, led by President Omar al-Bashir, the Government of Sudan has shut down most of the national internet and blocked access to social media applications such as Twitter, Facebook and WhatsApp. As for why the people of Sudan are protesting, in many ways it is not that much different than the situation in France and Jordan – protesters are upset about the growing wealth/income disparity in the country, as well as the rising costs of food, fuel and taxes.

As was reported by Amnesty International on December 21st,  “Sudan is currently experiencing a severe economic crisis which has led to a rise in the cost of fuel, electricity, transport, food and medicine provoking countrywide protests.” Explaining that “since 14 December, tens of thousands of people have been taking part in protests in different parts of the country including in Wad Madani, Port Sudan, Gebeit, Al-Qadarif, Atbara, Berber, Dongla, Karima, Al-Damazin, Al Obeid, Al Fasher, Khartoum and Omdurman.” Adding that as of this past Wednesday, at least 8 people have been killed dozens injured and hundreds more arrested. “The government has also shut down the internet since 20 December, in yet another attempt to stop the protests.

According to researchers on the ground however, there are multiple reports that +30 have been killed since the start of Wednesday.

Unfortunately, the situation is beginning to remind me a lot about the Oromo protests in Ethiopia in 2015/2016. Not only were hundreds killed in these protests, but the Ethiopian Government also restricted access to the National internet and social media applications such as Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. As a result, the Anonymous Hacker Collective jumped in, instruction Ethiopian citizens how to utilize VPN’s and the Tor networking service, as well as set activists up with encrypted chat servers and email accounts to safely coordinate national protests with one another throughout the future.

If anyone from Sudan manages to get this information, or you know people in Sudan whom need the information, they can learn how to circumvent national internet restrictions and Government blockades through the information and resources provided below. Additionally, activists working on behalf of CyberGuerrilla have already set up channels on the DarkNet and ClearNet for Sudanese activists to learn more about these practices, as well as how safely coordinate with one another or others looking to help them online while. You are invited to reach out to them here:

Anti-Censorship Care Package – What To Do When National Internet Becomes Restricted or Blocked (via CyberGuerrilla): https://www.cyberguerrilla.org/blog/anti-censorship-carepackage/

https://webchat.cyberguerrilla.org/ #OpSudan
https://3ur4xm2japn56c5f.onion/ #OpSudan

Ways To Connect To CyberGuerrilla IRC: https://cyberguerrilla.info/ways-to-connect-to-cyberguerrilla-irc/ (look for Channel #OpSudan)

https://twitter.com/CgAn_Doemela/status/1076580410166001664

Additional Security Resources & Tutorials for Sudan Activists:

VPN’s: https://newblood.anonops.com/vpn.html
The Onion Network: https://newblood.anonops.com/tor.html
Security Handbook: https://newblood.anonops.com/security.html
Email Encryption Basics: https://newblood.anonops.com/securemail.html
Connecting To The IRC: https://newblood.anonops.com/basics.html
HexChat IRC On Windows or Linux: https://newblood.anonops.com/hexchat.html
How To Write Un-Hackable Passwords: https://roguesecrutiylabs.ltd/how-to-write-un-hackable-passwords
Phone Security: https://roguesecuritylabs.ltd/phone-security
Email Security Strategies: https://roguesecuritylabs.ltd/email-security-strategies
Making The Switch To Encrypted Emails: https://roguesecuritylabs.ltd/making-the-switch-to-encrypted-emails/
Encrypted Chatrooms & VoIP Apps: https://roguesecuritylabs.ltd/encrypted-chatrooms-voip-apps
How To Make, Create & Maintain an Anonymous Identity Online: https://anonhq.com/anonymous-security-guide-2-0/
Securing Your Social Media Accounts: https://roguesecuritylabs.ltd/securing-social-media-accounts
Building & Selecting Safer Web Browsers: https://roguesecuritylabs.ltd/building-selecting-safer-web-browsers
The Value of Copy & Paste Services: https://roguesecuritylabs.ltd/copy-paste-services
Miscellaneous Tips, Tricks & Security ‘Hacks’: https://roguesecuritylabs.ltd/miscellaneous-tips-tricks-security-hacks
Operation Security: https://iamanonymous.com/dont-be-burnt-toast-unknown-guide-to-operation-security/

Download Tor for Windows, Apple, Android and/or Linux Devices Here: https://www.torproject.org/download/download.html

More Resources Available Here: https://roguemedia.co/2018/12/16/connecting-online-the-hacking-world-the-ultimate-anonymous-handbook/


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The Revolution Is Here, Edje Electronics Develops Biometric Reader for Cats

Admittedly, I am writing this article just for fun, but it is also pretty cool at the same time (🤓). In a concept released to the public for the first time on December 18th, the owner of Edje Electronics, a small business startup, has officially built the framework of a new cat biometric application, sending notifications via text message every time the system detects his pets want to go outside or come back in.

The biometeric system reader was written in Python script through TensorFlow Object Detection Software hosted on a Raspberry Pi server, allowing for a Pi Camera board to track the biometric facial expression of his pets every time they go near the back door to his house. Depending on how the animal moves or behaves, a text message is then sent to a phone letting its owner know if their pet wants to leave the house or come back inside. For example, utilizing the system featured in the video demonstration below, if the web cam picks up on a cat staring outside the door for ten second a text message is prompted and sent to a cell phone letting the cats owner know to let it outside – vice versa. A full tutorial on how you can go about setting this up for your pets, as well as what the system looks like, is available in the web tutorial below.

Elon Musk’s Star Link Internet Service Suffers from Yet Another Setback To Close Out 2018

For the better part of the last 3 years I have been covering two emerging businesses quite extensively for my previous websites. The first is a satellite based data storage initative called Space Belt, proposed by a revolutionary new company called the Cloud Constellation Corporation with intentions to place cloud data servers in orbit around the Earth. The second is a new startup by none other than Elon Musk himself, called Starlink, which intends to create a worldwide global satellite internet network, theoretically accessible by anyone anywhere on the planet at any moment in time once the project is finally completed.

Connecting some of the dots, yesterday on Twitter I featured a report by a new cyber security startup called Rapid7, detailing their findings that each Fortune 500 company in the United States hosts, on average, databases or data storage centers with over 500 active internet connections. Meaning that, in theory, there are over 500 different ways through which malicious hackers can find their way into these systems. This is essentially what Space Belt sets out to solve, hosting massive data storage centers in orbit around the Earth far removed from internet connections on the ground. The only way to access Space Belt’s infrastructure would be through a single encrypted connection on ground level, hosted by the company itself – whom will be the only party allowed to upload and download data from it. In doing so, the Cloud Constellation Corporation hopes to offer THE most secure enterprise data storage solutions on the planet – or should I say “universe?

Full 34 Page Report from Rapid 7: https://content.rapid7.com/rapid7-industry-cyber-exposure-report-fortune-500

However, it must be noted that this proposed service has been in the works for nearly 3 now, and despite the release of new hype videos year after year, such as the one featured above, little has actually been done in terms of getting the project off the ground and operational – no pun intended. The fact of the matter is that for however cool it sounds, at least for the time being, Space Belt remains nothing more than a theoretical data storage solution.

The second business I would like to talk about is a little more complex and involves the launching of anywhere between 5,000 – 12,000 satellites over the course of the next 2 -15 years. Officially called Starlink, the project aspires to create the single largest globally accessible internet network in human history. Using thousands of satellites launched into low Earth orbit, Starlink is designed to allow its users/customers to connect to the internet anywhere on Earth at any given moment in time. Meaning that, theoretically, a Star Link customer would have the same level of internet access in the middle of the Amazon Rain-Forest or Sierra Desert as they would have in downtown New York City – and everywhere in between.

However, given the proposed size and scope of the operation, still in its beginning phases in 2018, Starlink has suffered from set back after set back since being introduced to the public in 2015. With that said, it does not mean that the project is entirely dead in the water either. In fact, earlier this year, in February 2018, Elon Musk successfully launched the first two experimental Starlink satellites into orbit, which have been operational and continually communicating information back to data centers on the ground ever since.

In a deal struck with the United States Federal Communications Commission (FCC) this past March, Starlink was officially given permission to launch its first round of commercial satellites into orbit by the end of this year- under the conditions that SpaceX must launch at least 2,213 satellites into orbit by 2024, and the full payload of 4,225 by 2027. After this date, SpaceX has until 2033 to launch 3,759 more, and until 2036 to launch the full payload of 7,518. However, according to their original business plan, SpaceX intended to launch its first 400 satellites into orbit by the end of November 2018 – something which has obviously failed to happen.

As a result, at least for the time being, Elon Musk has started fund raising to help expedite getting his project off the ground. According to a report by the Wall Street Journal earlier today, December 18th 2018, Elon Musk is currently seeking $500 million dollars from international investors. According to the report, Musk is personally willing to stake over $10 billion dollars into the project himself over the course of the next decade, with stock experts projecting Starlink to eventually be worth over $30 billion dollars by the time it’s complete. As of today, Starlink stock is trading at $136 a share and Musk hopes to sell enough stock totaling $500 million to fund his first delivery of satellites into space.

Perhaps ominously though, not only has Starlink continually suffered from set back after set back over the years, but just earlier this week the President of DirectTV, another satellite based communications business, announced that the company will no longer be buying anymore satellites to invest in or grow their business in the future – with industry experts projecting the company itself to go out of business or bankrupt within the next 10 years. Ironically, DirectTV only has the rise of internet-based online streaming services to thank for its financial demise.

Lastly, believe it or not, dating back to 2015 Mark Zuckerberg was actually the first entrepreneur to attempt to bring broadband speed internet service via satellite. However, following SpaceX’s explosion on the runway in 2016, which was set to deliver Zuckerberg’s satellites into orbit, the project was put on hold. Not only this, but a few months before the incident international authorities ruled Facebook’s free internet initiative violation of Net Neutrality laws and as a result of both incidents, both projects were abandoned entirely.

I only bring this up because Zuckerberg hired SpaceX to deliver his satellites into orbit, and he proceeded to lose close to $100 million dollars for doing so. With this in mind, whose to say that Elon Musk’s Starlink project might not too suffer from a similar tragedy one day just as well? Unfortunately, just as with Space Belt, while Starlink remains a fascinating, revolutionary and ingenious idea, it still nothing more than just a theory at this point – 3 years after the fact.

Joseph Kabila Using Government Forces To Squash Opposition Campaign Rallies Ahead of Dec. 23rd Election

(HRW) – Government security forces across the Democratic Republic of Congo have forcibly dispersed opposition campaign rallies ahead of the December 23, 2018 national elections. Security forces killed at least 7 opposition supporters, wounded more than 50 people, and arbitrarily detained scores of others from December 9 to 13.

The United Nations mission in Congo, MONUSCO, should deploy peacekeepers to predictable flashpoints in cities where there are risks of violence during campaign events and on election day. Concerned governments should increase pressure on the Congolese government, which bears primary responsibility for protecting citizens, to cease its suppression of the political opposition and to allow peaceful campaigning by all candidates.

Congolese security forces are inflaming an already tense situation by using excessive force against opposition campaign rallies,” said Ida Sawyer, deputy Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “With less than a week before the scheduled elections, the authorities need to keep an extremely volatile situation from spiraling out of control.

Two members of youth leagues associated with the ruling party said that senior ruling party officials recruited them and other youth to infiltrate supporters of opposition presidential candidate Martin Fayulu of the Lamuka (“wake up” in Lingala and Swahili, two of Congo’s four national languages) coalition. They said they were paid about US $50 each and instructed to provoke violence and disorder during Fayulu’s rallies, which could be attributed to Fayulu and create a pretext to arrest him or disqualify his candidacy.

On December 11, security forces deployed across Lubumbashi, the country’s second largest city, to block the movement of Fayulu and his supporters, killing at least five men, wounding dozens, and arresting scores of others. Authorities later refused to give family members and independent observers access to the morgue.

Seven police jeeps arrived to disperse us,” said a human rights activist monitoring Fayulu’s arrival in Lubumbashi for a campaign rally. “They fired live bullets and teargas. The police raided the stadium [where Fayulu was to hold the rally] and confiscated the sound equipment. They also used teargas and hot water to prevent people at the airport from reaching the city center.” Some supporters responded by throwing rocks at the police, wounding 11 police officers, according to a police spokesperson.

Pande Kapopo, the governor of Haut Katanga province, where Lubumbashi is located, can be heard in an audio recording just before Fayulu arrived in Lubumbashi, inciting his supporters to commit violence against Fayulu’s supporters. He said that the police would do nothing against them and that “we have the power.” Kapopo’s office told Radio France Internationale that his words had been taken “out of context.

On December 12, security forces fired live bullets and tear gas to disperse Fayulu’s supporters in the southeastern city of Kalemie, killing an 18-year-old high school student, Jeannette Maua. On December 13, in the central city of Mbuji-Mayi, police erected barricades and shot dead a 17-year-old-boy following the arrival of another opposition presidential candidate, Félix Tshisekedi, of the Union for Democracy and Social Progress (Union pour la Démocratie et le Progrès Social, UDPS) party. The UN Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials provide that the “intentional lethal use of firearms may only be made when strictly unavoidable in order to protect life.

https://twitter.com/DRCElectionInfo/status/1072493580030230528

https://twitter.com/DRCElectionInfo/status/1072813426731298816

On December 14, the mayor of Kananga prohibited any campaign rallies in the city, the capital of Kasai Central province. The security forces erected roadblocks as Tshisekedi arrived in the city. The mayor of Boma, in Kongo Central province, prohibited an opposition rally on December 1 and security forces barricaded the road.

MONUSCO’s mandate from the Security Council directs peacekeepers to protect civilians “under threat of physical violence,” including “in the context of elections.” UN peacekeepers were not deployed in any significant numbers to the political rallies last week, where their presence may have helped deter security forces from firing on peaceful opposition supporters, according to local observers, political leaders, and UN personnel.

Government officials and security forces have also repeatedly delayed or prevented Fayulu’s plane from landing in key constituencies. In Kindu, capital of Maniema, the home province of the ruling party candidate Emmanuel Shadary, authorities stationed several helicopters on the airport tarmac to prevent Fayulu’s plane from landing.

We tried to welcome Fayulu at the airport, but we were blocked by a gang of youth, waiting for us, and the police were right behind,” said a Fayulu supporter in Kindu. “The police then shot in the air and fired tear gas. We fled, but the gang members came after us, throwing stones. I inhaled tear gas and was hospitalized for a day.” The gang members later ransacked opposition party offices. More than a dozen people, including two police officers, were wounded and at least 25 people were briefly detained.

In contrast, government officials have been instructed to facilitate and support Shadary’s campaign visits to more than a dozen provinces. On December 7, authorities in Goma detained seven wives and widows of Congolese soldiers for several hours after they had gone to welcome Fayulu in Goma the previous day. One widow was later evicted from the military camp.

The European Union renewed the travel ban and asset freezes against Shadary on December 10 for his alleged role in past serious human rights abuses. Violence has also been reported in other cities, Human Rights Watch said. On December 12, people threw stones at Tshisekedi in Bunia. On December 1, Tshisekedi’s UPDS supporters clashed with Shadary supporters in Mbuji-Mayi. Police intervened by firing tear gas to disperse the crowd and arrested 22 people, including 14 UPDS members, all of whom were later released. Unidentified assailants destroyed campaign materials in several cities, including in Lubumbashi and Kwilu, and two ruling party offices were vandalized in Kisangani and Mbandaka.

Armed groups have also interfered in campaigning in eastern Congo and the central Kasai region. In Masisi territory, North Kivu province on December 7, unidentified assailants attacked a convoy transporting a parliamentary candidate from the presidential majority, Eugène Serufuli, who is the national minister of social affairs. About a dozen people were wounded in the crossfire between the assailants and Serufuli’s police escort. In Kananga, Kasai Central, assailants kidnapped two members of the Original African Democratic Union (Union Démocratique Africaine Originelle) party as they were mobilizing their supporters on December 1. They remain missing.

Five media outlets close to the opposition remain shut by the government while the national radio and television station of Congo (Radio-Télévision nationale congolaise, RTNC), among others, heavily cover Shadary’s campaign. Security forces arrested 11 pro-democracy activists in Kinshasa and Goma on December 14. They remain in detention at time of writing.

Election officials have yet to address concerns about the controversial plan to use an electronic voting machine, which many fear will be used to facilitate fraud, and the estimated 6 million potential “ghost” voters on the voter roll.

It’s critical for UN peacekeepers to play a more active role in protecting those at risk of abuses in the context of the upcoming elections, including by deploying patrols to known flashpoints for potential violence,” Sawyer said. “Congo’s neighbors and international partners should clarify that there will be real consequences if the brutal government repression persists.


This article was originally published by Human Rights Watch on December 17th 2018. It was republished, with permission, using a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND 3.0 US License, in accordance with the Terms & Conditions of Human Rights Watch | Formatting edits & Tweets added/embedded by Rogue Media Labs

New Study: What Do Modern Israelite’s Think of Their Arab Counterparts?

The other week I came across an interesting study that you do not see everyday. The study set out to discover what Jewish Israeli citizens really felt/thought about their Arab counterparts in the region, and what they discovered was rather unsettling. Conducted by researchers at the Guttman Center for Public OpinionPolicy Research at the Israel Democracy Institute and PANELS Survey Institute, the online survey questioned over 500 Jewish Israeli residents living inside Israel on various social, economic and political topics in an effort to gauge the levels of racism as they might exist inside Jewish culture.

Here’s what the researchers discovered:

  • 37% of Jewish Israeli citizens say that it bothers them to have Arab pharmacists in Israel.
  • 40% of Jewish Israeli citizens say that it disturbs them to see Arab doctors and nurses inside Israeli hospitals.
  • 15% of Jewish Israeli citizens say that it bothers them to have Arab soccer players participating in or representing the Israeli National soccer team.
  • 27% of Jewish Israeli citizens think that is troublesome to have Arab judges sentencing Jewish people.
  • 43% of Jewish Israeli citizens report being disturbed by hearing people speak Arabic in public inside Israel.
  • 76% of Jewish Israeli citizens claim to be bothered that their sons or daughters had Arab friends of the opposite sex. 51% of them said that their son’s friendship with an Arab boy bothers them and  53% said that their daughters’s friendship with an Arab boy bothers them.
  • 80% of Jewish Israeli parents disprove of a romantic relationship between their daughter and an Arab boy.
  • 51% of Jewish Israeli citizens said that having Arab neighbors living in their neighborhood is bothersome.
  • 50% of Jewish Israeli citizens say they would refuse to rent an apartment or room to an Arab.
  • When asked “Do you think the following opinion is true or false? Most Jews are better than most Gentiles because they were born Jews.” 12% believe that this statement is very correct, 11% think it is correct, 25% are undecided and say that it is not very correct, and only 43% reject it completely.
  • 90% of respondents said that they believe everyone in the world should know as much as possible about the Holocaust. But, 70% of respondents claim they knew nothing about the Rwandan genocide and/or had never heard of it before and 80% of respondents claim they knew nothing about the Cambodian genocide and/or had never heard of it before.

Source – TV News 10 in Israeli: https://www.10.tv/news/177921

 

Russia Aims To Create Backup To The World-Wide-Web, Create Its Own National Internet Infrastructure

Back in November 2016 I remember writing a story covering the Russian Federations decision to abandon all Microsoft products for Government use throughout the future. The decision was made on the heels of the now infamous FBI v Apple encryption case earlier that year, which set legal precedent allowing the US Government to compromise any and all electronic devices produced by US-based companies – mandating software backdoor’s to undermine encryption rights. At the time, Dmitry Perskov, a Kremlin spokesperson, described making the switch away from Microsoft as “a matter of National security.” Explaining how “it is believed that Microsoft products could be used to hide secret bugs or back-doors in their systems” that could be used to spy on its users. Considering that nearly all Government systems in Russia ran on Microsoft products at the time, this made swapping them out a top priority for Vladimir Putin and the Kremlin.

Russia was also not the first country to arrive at this conclusion. Dating back to 2014, following the release of leaked documents from former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, Microsoft products have been banned for Government use inside China just as well. Perhaps most importantly, at least for the purposes of this article, was Russia’s plan to go about replacing Microsoft products in the future by creating an entirely new system of computing based on Russian coding (software), hardware and product development. The goal was to essentially create an entirely new computer model sourced domestically, exclusively from Russian developers/programmers. This would ensure that no other country in the world would have access to their systems, or be able to replicate their design – creating truly unique systems specifically designed for the Russian Government.

I bring this up because earlier this week I came across a new bill being proposed in Russia, attempting to create an entirely new backup system to the global “World Wide Web.” In some ways, think of it much like creating a modern or 21st century version of Minitel, only exclusive to Russia.

Given the current state of both Cyber and Informational warfare being waged across the planet in 2018, Russian lawmakers fear that rival countries may one day soon attempt to cut off, limit or restrict Russia’s access to the World-Wide-Web. As a result, Russian lawmakers feel as though it is paramount to begin creating a back up or emergency plan of action should this ever occur.

With this in mind, as was reported by Russia Today on December 14th 2018, “Russian lawmakers have introduced legislation designed to reduce the country’s internet resources’ dependence on foreign infrastructure.” Explaining how “the main goal is to significantly decrease dependence of the Russian internet sector on foreign infrastructure by setting up national groundwork to keep Russia’s internet functional, even if servers abroad become unavailable for any reason.” Adding that, among other things, this will also entail “the creation of an entirely new system of national domain names.

We’re not creating our own internet. We’re just setting up a backup infrastructure. We’re duplicating it locally, so that our citizens would have access to the internet in case of any emergencyDuma deputy Andrey Lugovoy explained. To date the proposed initiative has been given full backing by Russia’s Ministry of Communications, though it remains unclear if/when the bill will eventually be passed into law. Moreover, according to Oleg Ivanov, deputy Minister of Communications, even if the bill was approved it would still “take several” years to build the necessary infrastructure to pull it off, and there is currently no “realistic time-frame” for how long this would take – merely indicating that this initiative is part of a much broader, long term vision for the country.

Lastly, the proposed bill calls for the entirety of Russia’s cyberspace to come under the centralized governance/command of Roscomnadzor – the countries top telecommunications watchdog. To make everything work, the legislation also proposes mandates on all Russian based Internet Service Providers (ISP’s), requiring them to set up equipment with the ability to detect and trace the source of any internet traffic as to better monitor and defend against cyber based attacks from abroad in the future.

Legislation Submitted to State Duma: http://sozd.duma.gov.ru/bill/608767-7

Full Text of Bill:

[pdf-embedder url=”https://roguemedia.co/wp-content/uploads/2018/12/138234916.pdf” title=”-138234916″]

Year In Review – Top 10 Human Rights Issues/Stories from 2018

(HRW) – On December 10, the world marks 70 years since the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Regrettably, instead of the anniversary signalling the enduring impact of human rights, some are fearing the “end of human rights.” Here we highlight some of the rights challenges that captured the world’s attention this year, illustrating the struggle to secure human rights is far from over.

1. Australia’s first year on the UN Human Rights Council

Australia took its place on the UN Human Rights Council this year for a three-year term. Australia delivered a strong statement about Myanmar’s atrocities against ethnic Rohingya Muslims, but was criticized for holding refugees and asylum seekers offshore. While Australia supported important country resolutions, it failed to take a leadership role on any key issues.

https://twitter.com/ConfuciusGlobal/status/1072089659692470272

2. United States’ retreat from Human Rights Council

The US faced international condemnation when it quit the Human Rights Council, calling it a “protector of human rights abusers and a cesspool of political bias.” The US has long complained of the council’s perceived bias against Israel. But, by withdrawing, the US decreased its options for confronting and addressing human rights violators. This increases the responsibility of governments like Australia’s to ensure the council addresses the world’s most serious human rights violations.

3. Violence against women

In Australia, while the #MeToo movement has spurred women to come forward with their experiences of sexual harassment and abuse, a number of high-profile cases of alleged sexual harassment by actors and politicians highlighted ongoing barriers to justice for victims. At the same time, the #countingdeadwomen femicide index reports that one woman in Australia is killed every week by an intimate partner.

4. Facebook’s reckoning

Free speech, privacy and electoral integrity came under the microscope in March, when a former employee of Cambridge Analytica blew the whistle on its practice of harvesting data from millions of US Facebook users in an effort to influence the 2016 presidential elections.

Cambridge Analytica was also investigated in the UK for a possible role in the Brexit referendum.

There is also growing criticism of Facebook for not doing enough to stop its use to spread hate speech. For example, in Myanmar it has been used as a tool to incite violence against Rohingya.

5. Rohingya crisis

In August, a UN Fact Finding Mission on Myanmar, which included Australian human rights expert Chris Sidoti, delivered a scathing report detailing crimes against humanity, war crimes, sexual violence and possible genocide by Myanmar’s security forces against the Rohingya.

The UN Human Rights Council, in response, created a mechanism to collect and preserve evidence to aid future prosecutions for atrocity crimes in Myanmar. Australia joined other Western nations in imposing targeted sanctions on military officers named in the UN report. While the Australian government maintains an arms embargo on Myanmar, our defense forces continue to provide training to the Myanmar military.

6. Crackdown against Turkic Muslims in Xinjiang

Turkic Muslims in China’s northwestern Xinjiang region have long faced repression. In 2018, Human Rights Watch and others reported an escalation in this repression with the government detaining 1 million people in political re-education camps, with evidence of their torture and mistreatment. Muslims not detained still face pervasive controls on freedom of movement and religion. The Foreign Affairs Department revealed under parliamentary questioning that three Australians were detained in the camps.

7. Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia made international headlines when a prominent journalist, Jamal Khashoggi, was murdered in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. The case prompted a closer examination of Saudi Arabia’s human rights record. The country’s repression, imprisonment and ill-treatment of activists includes the alleged torture of leading women’s rights defenders.

In Yemen, the Saudi-led coalition has committed many violations of international humanitarian law, including apparent war crimes, killing thousands of civilians. Millions of Yemenis are confronting a famine, in part because of restrictions on aid delivery. Yet the USA, UK, France and Australia sell the Saudi government weapons and military equipment that may well contribute to its Yemen campaign.

8. Children off Nauru

Australia’s government appeared to respond to the “Kids Off Nauru” campaign launched by civil society groups, medical professionals and lawyers. December figures show ten refugee children remain on the island, down from 119 children in August.

Mounting political pressure forced the government to remove children who had been transferred there in 2013 and 2014, though many were removed from Nauru only after legal proceedings were started. But the departure of families makes the situation even more desperate for the adults left behind. And those transferred to Australia are told they will not remain permanently, keeping them in limbo.

9. One year since the Uluru statement

Indigenous communities have fought hard throughout 2018 to have the federal government focus on the Uluru Statement from the Heart, after the Turnbull government dismissed it out of hand in 2017.

The statement calls for a constitutionally enshrined “First Nations Voice” in parliament and the establishment of a Makarrata Commission to supervise agreement-making between governments and First Nations, and facilitate truth-telling of First Nations’ histories. These steps were seen as laying the foundation for a treaty with Australia’s First Nations peoples. A 2018 parliamentary committee endorsed the need for a voice in parliament and has called for a process of co-design between indigenous people and government appointees.

10. LGBTI discrimination

One year on from the breakthrough on marriage equality, the parliamentary year ended with Australia’s politicians unable to find a way to remove legislative exemptions allowing religious schools to discriminate against LGBTI pupils and teachers.

Advocates and the Labor opposition rejected government amendments that sought to stop schools being able to exclude students on the basis of their sexual orientation, gender identity, or sex characteristics, but would also allow them to enforce rules in line with their religious teachings.


This article was originally published by Human Rights Watch on December 9th 2018. It was republished, with permission, using a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND 3.0 US License, in accordance with the Terms & Conditions of Human Rights Watch | Formatting edits & Tweets added/embedded by Rogue Media Labs

Dropping The Metaphorical M.O.A.B. – Blowing Up the US’s Long Term Vision/Strategy for Afghanistan

Before I get into the reason why I am writing this article here today, you have to understand the current situation and state of affairs leading up to this moment in time. In 2001 the United States of America invaded Afghanistan in retaliation for the terror attacks of September 11th, as well as to combat Osama Bin Lad and remove the Taliban’s influence from political power in the country. Those were the so called “Primary Objectives” of the War effort in the first place – at least publicly.

I say this because upon landing in the country for the first time in November 2001, the first thing that then Brigadier General and now US Secretary of Defense James Mattis said upon stepping off his helicopter and onto Afghan soil was “the United States now officially owns a piece of Afghanistan” – something that Mattis was later forced to apologize for in front of Congress years after the fact. I bring this up because, in terms of the “Bigger Picture,” you need to start thinking in terms of geography and how this relates to military strategy. For example, do you notice how Iran is sandwiched on either side by Iraq and Afghanistan? Do you think it was any coincidence that within a two year time period the US invaded and establish permanent military bases in Iraq and Afghanistan?

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While Osama Bin Laden and Saddam Hussein may have been convenient excuses to originally invade these countries, the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq were also extremely “tactical” in terms of long term War strategy. For many decades running now, Iran has been one of the United States and Israel’s single larges threats. 17 years after the invasions of 2001, the US has now cemented permanent military presences lining/flanking Iran’s Eastern and Western borders – we have them surrounded. Especially considering that the Wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are still ongoing with no foreseeable end in sight, this is why I have always maintained that Osama Bin Laden, Saddam Hussein and the Taliban were never truly the US’s primary objectives in the first place, they were merely excuses/opportunities.

If you want any more proof of this, look no further than the current state of affairs inside Afghanistan. Despite the US military spending 10x more than any other country on Earth annually, the Taliban has only increased territory, funding and revenue since 2001. By now, it is well known fact that Afghanistan produces over 93% of the worlds opium poppy harvest. However, did you know that according to the Afghan Ministry of Counter Nacrotics, in 2017 the Taliban now controls 271% more farmland than they did in 2002? How about the fact that, according to the Russian Federal Drug Control Center, as of 2016 the Taliban had started making over $1 billion dollars annually from the sale of heroine to ISIS alone? How about the fact that, according to the United Nations Security Council, as of 2017 the Taliban was making upwards of $50 billion from the sale of heroine across Europe? Did I mention that according to the US Center for Disease Control heroine related deaths in the United States have spiked over 600% since 2001?

Honestly, if the Taliban truly were the US’s primary objective for this War, do you really think any of this would be happening?

With that established, lets start breaking down the history of US military involvement inside Afghanistan – shall we? While it can never be entirely proved or refuted, what we do know is that the United States Government, mainly the Central Intelligence Agency, did support/fund Osama Bin Laden back in the day – throughout the late 1970’s and into the 80’s. This was also done to counter-act Soviet involvement/influence in the country throughout the course of the Cold War. While Bin Laden may not have ever ‘been on the CIA payroll,‘ the US did fund him for quite a long time, nearly identical in nature to what the CIA did under President Barack Obama with the Syrian rebels throughout the course of his Presidency.

If you need any more proof of this, look no further than Donald Trumps decision to drop the “Mother of All Bombs” inside Afghanistan on April 13th 2017. Ask yourself, why do you think he decided to drop the bomb at that strategic location, essentially in the middle of nowhere? Any guess?……

Moving onto to 2018, Donald Trump is on public record as stating that he has no intentions of ending the War in Afghanistan any time soon. In fact, Trump has only committed thousands of more troops into the country since first taking office in 2016, with threats to add up to 4,000 more in the future. Perhaps more importantly, Trump has also stated that US soldiers need to experience a “victory” in Afghanistan before we retreat or withdraw, as to “justify” or “honor” all of the lives lost in the conflict over the years – admitting defeat in this War is not an option for this President. Somewhat similarly, did you know that the same month President Obama “won” the Nobel Peace Prize in 2009 he committed +30,000 troops into Afghanistan? #FunFactofTheDay #Irony

With that established, lets take a look at the current state of affairs inside Afghanistan and the effects decades of War has had on the civilians living in the country. Despite 15 years of War at that point, 2016 saw the highest amount of civilian causalities inside Afghanistan than in any year prior. While the figures did decline, 2017 still saw the second highest rate of civilian causalities of any year since 2001. Quite literally, the longer the US has stayed involved in this conflict, the worse things have gotten and the more people continue to die. Isn’t that the exact opposite of what a successful War strategy should look like? Welcome to the “Quagmire.

Ending with the reason why I decided to write this article here today, perhaps most troubling of all, on December 5th 2018, following the success of the Afghanistan Peace Conference in Moscow last month, news officially broke that the Government of Afghanistan had officially sent an offer to Taliban leaders, inviting them to the negotiating table to begin editing/drafting a new Constitution governing the country headed into the future. In statements to RIA Novisti, according to Ehsan Taheri, spokesman for Afghanistan’s High Peace Council,the talks in Moscow marked the first time the Taliban has publicly appeared in the international arena since they were removed from power in Afghanistan following the US-led invasion in 2001. The meeting, brokered by Russian diplomats, helped pave the way for a future dialogue between Kabul and the Taliban,” Taheri said. Adding that there will be “no preconditions” for Taliban’s input in the negotiations when the time comes.

https://twitter.com/TimesofGeneva/status/1070317461776580608

Considering that the Taliban was in control of 70-75% of Afghanistan at the time of the US invasion of 2001, and that Osama Bin Laden and Al-Qeada then joined forces with the Taliban to fight the US influence shortly thereafter, and the three sides have been at War with one another ever since, for obvious reasons, it is extremely troubling to now see the Afghanistan Government, which the United States helped put in place, reaching out the Taliban to begin negotiating an alliance/partnership headed into the future. Tens of thousands of deaths later, with millions more displaced displaced by the violence and trillions of dollars spent, 17 years into the conflict now, we are essentially right back where we started on day 1. So, what the hell is the US even still doing Afghanistan and what exactly is their path to so-called victory there?

Unfortunately, the US never set out to “win” this War in the first place, which is why we continue to fight a “War of Attrition” on through today. The US invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan were nothing more than strategic/tactical planning as part of a much broader, long-term War strategy/initiative for the Middle East – gaining control of critical assets and infrastructure, including oil fields, lithium mines and natural gas reserve’s, whilst simultaneously setting up permanent military bases flanking Iran’s Eastern and Western borders. In doing so, also cutting of Russian influence inside the region. Tragically, the humanitarian disaster and conditions as they have existed inside Afghanistan and Iraq since the end of 2001 are merely just “Collateral Damage” in the implementation of this strategy.

That’s only a small part of whats ‘in my head‘ as I sit here today…..

Anonymous Launches #OpFrance In Solidarity with Yellow Vest Protests Worldwide Tomorrow, December 8th 2018

Tomorrow, December 8th 2018, the #YellowVest movement will launch a massive public demonstration against the Government of Emmanuel Macron, protesting recent tax hikes and policy decisions that the people of France feel they never signed up for when the first voted him into office in May 2017. All week, violent clashes between French protesters and local police gripped have gripped the international viewing public and caught the attention of press organizations around the world. In anticipation of even larger demonstrations tomorrow, there are even rumors currently circling France that Macron is planning to deploy the nations Army to deter/contain potentially hundreds of thousands of protesters.

People in Russia are claiming that this weeks protests represent an attempted “coup” against the Government of Macron. People in the Middle East are saying that the protests symbolize a new “grim reality” facing the downfall of the French Republic, while those on the ground in France maintain that Macron has “brought all of this upon himself.” As one French native told Rogue Media Labs today, these protests are “not a coup, French are asking him to resign because of his incompetence. Poverty has increased, people are working 45 hours a week and struggle to survive. By increasing fuel, doubling the price, he’s threatening the jobs of people who needs their cars to go to work.” Adding that on top of this, Macron is “making it worse for himself, calling protesters lazy while saying that if they are unhappy they should come and get him. Macron started the fire” she says, “and the protests have gone out of control because the French have been angry for a while now. They are determined to fight for their rights, they do not just want to survive, they want to live. Good luck trying to calm them down.

As for the protests and protesters themselves, she recons that despite the violence, they have been a great success. Explaining how protesters “have blocked so many strategic points in the city that the Government is slowly giving in to their requests/demands.” To this effect, just the other day Macron announced that he would be enacting a new delay on the implementation of his proposed fuel tax.

In support of the ongoing national protests, the Anonymous hacker collective has also joined the fight – providing support in their own unique way. Yesterday, December 6th 2018 hackers working under the umbrella of Anonymous CyberGuerrilla manged to hack one of the sub-domains of the French Ministry of Justice, leaking over 1,500 personal contacts of various Ministry administrators. Then again today, CyberGuerrilla released another massive leak of documents tied to the French Ministry of Defense and SHARPSHOOTER Brasil leaked an internal memo from French police outlining their strategy to combat protesters tomorrow. Prior to this hackers around the world launched coordinated DDoS attacks against the Rothchild family of international bankers and Vatican City.

In addition to the hacks, leaks and DDoS attacks, international members of Anonymous have been advertising tomorrows protests as much as possible, using the full weight of their platform to support the people of France and inspire more to join their cause. In a message on social media, in anticipation of tomorrows events, Anonymous has stated that:

People of France

Anonymous has heard your demands and the reply given by your government. Their response clearly shows that the government does not listen, and thinks themselves above you all.

Here are Some of Your Main Demands:

  • A real increase of the SMIC (minimum wage in France) and pensions
    Improving the purchasing power
  • A General decrease of all taxes
  • A reduction of spending from the government
  • Taxes for the rich, like the return of the ISF (old tax for rich population that was suppressed by Macron)
  • Preserving the ecology by regulating the multinational company
  • More employment and more housing

What we’re about to say will change everything:

All of your demands find roots in one single cause: the fact that the system is ruled by one model ; Slave – master : because you are the slave – yes, you heard that right.

Whether you’re rich or poor, in high school or working, unemployed or a business owner, just know that the money which rules this world is nothing less than an illusion designed  design to make you salve to the system. Money does not exist.

When you borrow money in a bank, they create a debt that you will have to reimburse (interest included) while the bank never had the money to begin with. You will continue to pay  it, losing more and more benefit in the process : because even if the money didn’t exist in the first place, you still have to pay it back. And things are that way everywhere.

So you, yellow vest… police officers…. CRS… Wake Up !

It is time that you take the matter into your own hand : share this, and talk about it with your relatives and friends.  But more importantly, invade every single street of France and keep on blocking the economy.

Unity is your best weapon, it’s high time to realize it and unite together.

You are a slave to the system, Why do you think that every members of the government makes millions while you struggle to make ends meat ? It is only because they take advantage of the fact that you are their slaves. The media hide the truth and take advantage of your ignorance.

Wake up, it is time, the wealthier are your master, and you are their slaves.

We are Anonymous, We are legion, We Do Not Forgive, We Do Not Forget, Expect Us.

https://twitter.com/CgAn_Doemela/status/1071121314625265664

Ethiopia Begins Drafting New Hate Speech Laws To Crack Down on Fake News & Social Media

Joining a much larger pool of countries recently looking to enact new “Hate Crime” laws governing or regulating the flow of free speech across the internet, Ethiopian authorities have recently announced a new initiative to draft new laws imposing fines or jail sentences for activists and/or press organizations deemed to be inciting violence or spreading hatred online. The initiative was announced for the first time last month, November 23rd 2018, under the conditions that lawmakers submit the final bill for approval/vote within the next 100 days.

According to a November 2018 report by the Addis Standard, “Ethiopia is struggling from the surge of hate speech and fake news in its limited cyber space.” Therefore, as a result, “the Office of Attorney General is preparing a draft bill aiming to curb hate speech and bring accountability towards public speeches and every other discourse, which is deemed to ignite hate and ethnic tensions in the country.” Explaining how the Ethiopian Government heavily blames the rise of social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook, as well as online “Fake News” platforms for the recent rises in ethnic tensions over the course of the last decade.

By cracking down on so called ‘abusive online dialect,‘ the country hopes to resolve future conflicts – or at least limit them. However, in response to the new initiative, Human Rights Watch cautions that “any law that limits freedom of expression by punishing hate speech must be narrowly drawn and enforced with restraint, so that it only targets speech that is likely to incite imminent violence or discrimination that cannot be prevented through other means.” Adding that “many governments have tried and failed to strike the right balance, and Ethiopia’s own track record offers reason for alarm. In the past, the Ethiopian government has used vague legal definitions including in its anti-terrorism law, to crack down on peaceful expressions of dissent.

Dating back to the Ormo protests of 2015, the Anonymous hacker collective has been particularly interested in the ongoing conflicts in Ethiopia, helping to teach Ethiopian activists how to remain safe, secure and Anonymous online. In addition to setting up encrypted chatrooms for activists to coordinate with one another, Anonymous has also helped Ethiopians set up encrypted email accounts and teach them how to use VPN’s and proxies to circumvent Government controls/restrictions. This effort has also been publicly aided by services such as ProtonMail and groups like Amnesty International. As Anonymous would also be the first to tell you, Anonymous is not a group, rather it’s simply an “idea” – and you can not arrest and idea.

In regards to the drafting of this new law, perhaps in a nod to Anonymous’ operations inside the country over the years, one Ethiopian official was quoted as saying that “Narratives seem to change on the social media. This, however, will be tested as the government can not jail ideas, but people.” I guess we will have to see how well this works out for them…..

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For the time being, Ethiopian officials have opened up the door for constructive criticism and feedback from the general public before the finalized version of the bill is submitted.

New Study: Only 24.1% of Yemeni Citizens Currently Have Access To The Internet

Earlier this week, along with the help of Citizen Lab, Shodan, VirusTotal, Censys, ReversingLabs and Rapid7, Recorded Future published their latest research paper. Officially entitled “Underlying Dimensions of Yemen’s Civil War: Control of the Internet,” the paper chronicles the devastating effects of years of War on Yemen internet infrastructure, usage and connectivity. Among other topics, the report details how control of the internet in the country has shifted over the years, as well as how the internet landscape has shifted as different Waring factions have taken control over different portions of the country.

Key Findings/Statistics:

  • Since taking Yemen’s capital, Sana’a, in September 2014, the Houthi rebels have controlled YemenNet – Yemens main ISP.
  • Houthi rebels continue to use what’s left of YemenNet’s IP infrastructure to host Coinhive mining services in order to generate revenue to fund their War effort.
  • The Houthi Government controls about 500 “official” Yemeni Government websites through the .ye domain.
  • In June 2018 the Hadi government created an entirely new ISP called AdenNet to counteract Houthi internet controls.
  • Only a small percentage of internet users in Yemen have the skills or knowledge to utilize VPNs, Tor, or routers with DNS recursion to circumvent government controls/surveillance.
  • Major international players, including the United States, Russia, and China have deployed malware/spyware as a means to supplement military efforts and/or leverage political opponents/dissidents.
  • Dating back to 2015, the “Yemen Cyber Army” has emerged as a major player launching attacks against government agencies.
  • Yemen ranks 50th global in population, but 148th in domain registrations.
  • The Houthi Government continues to block public access to WhatsApp, Facebook and Twitter.
  • Since the Yemeni Civil War first began, roughly 80% of all fiber optic cables have been destroyed.
  • Only 24.3% of Yemeni citizens currently have access to the internet in 2018, up from 19.1% in 2014.
  • Roughly 50% of Yemeni citizens have access to cellular phones and/or landlines.

Download Full Research Paper Here: https://go.recordedfuture.com/hubfs/reports/cta-2018-1128.pdf

Read Full Study:

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