Uruguay’s president nominated for Nobel Peace Prize for legalizing cannabis

The president of Uruguay has been nominated for this year’s Nobel Peace Prize

This one is fantastic news for all involved. From here:

According to his advocates, José “Pepe” Mujica’s much talked-about marijuana legalization is in fact “a tool for peace and understanding.”

For the second year in a row, the Drugs Peace Institute, which has supported Mujica’s marijuana legalization drive since 2012, insisting that the consumption of marijuana should be protected as a human right, has endorsed his candidacy, along with members of Mujica’s leftwing political party the Frente Amplio, the PlantaTuPlanta (Collective of Uruguayan growers) and the Latin American Coalition of Cannabis Activists (CLAC).

Despite an avalanche of global criticism, in late December Uruguay became the first country in the world to fully legalize the production and sale of the popular herbal drug. Under the new law, which comes into full effect in early April, Uruguayans will have several options to gain access to it.

The Drugs Peace Institute said that Mujica’s stand against the UN-led prohibition of mind-altering substances is a “symbol of a hand outstretched, of a new era in a divided world.”

“It is a promise to bridge the gap between defiant marijuana consumers and the prohibiting society. Hopefully, the start of the acceptance of this consumption by society and the concomitant development of understanding of its use as a natural medicine, historically used for spiritual liberation, might initiate a process of healing in a world, very confused and deeply divided, over its religious legacy,” the Dutch NGO stated on its website.

The institute pointed out that, unlike coca-based products that reinforce the ego and individual self-esteem, marijuana has the “peculiar quality of diminishing the consumer’s ego.” It pointed out that so far only one government leader has succeeded in challenging the prohibition: “the World’s Poorest President” – Mujica – dubbed so due to his modest lifestyle.

Jose Mujica once said that he’s been looking for god but [hasn’t] found him yet. By legalizing marijuana and opening the doors of spiritual happiness to the young, he might not have found the god of other nations…, but he certainly has followed in the footsteps of Jesus when he said ‘Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like these,’” the NGO noted.

“I’m very thankful to these people for honoring me,” Uruguay’s president responded in Havana, as quoted by La Nación Argentine daily. “We are only proposing the right to try another path because the path of repression doesn’t work. We don’t know if we’ll succeed. We ask for support, scientific spirit and to understand that no addiction is a good thing. But our efforts go beyond marijuana – we’re taking aim at the drug traffic”

You certainly get my vote Mr President.

GCHQ DDOS hacktivist group Anonymous

Pot, kettle?

In a document published by NBC here, whistle-blower Edward Snowden has revealed in his latest leak that the UK’s NSA counterpart GCHQ had used one of Anonymous’ own illegal tactics against them and performed a Denial Of Service Attack against their IRC server in 2011.

SONY DSC

GCHQ agents infiltrated various hacktivist groups who were baited into disclosing information over IRC on various cyber attacks they had performed.  This information was later used against them aiding prosecution.  But what is of further significance is the DDOS attacks the GCHQ performed against the hacktivists’ servers.

slide1

silde2As you can see, a planned DDOS attack was carried out against the servers and resulted in a downtime of at least 30 hours.  No matter which way you look at it, this action by GCHQ is illegal, and it would have risked disruption to other services with no connection to Anonymous or its allies.

Dr Steven Murdoch, a security researcher at the University of Cambridge, said:

It’s quite possible that the server was used for other purposes which would have been entirely unrelated to Anonymous.

It’s also likely that most of the chat that was going on about Anonymous was not to do with hacking because the people who join Anonymous are fairly wide-ranging in what they think it is legitimate to do.

Some have gone into criminality but many others just go out and organise protests, letter-writing campaigns and other things that are not criminal.

But what of the legal implications?

Eric King, head of research at Privacy International commented:

There is no legislation that clearly authorises GCHQ to conduct cyber-attacks, so, in the absence of any democratic mechanisms, it appears GCHQ has granted itself the power to carry out the very same offensive attacks politicians have criticised other states for conducting.

The UK government’s Cyber Security Strategy document, (here) says officials should take “proactive measures to disrupt threats to our information security”, but also notes that any such action should be consistent with freedom of expression and privacy rights.

It seems evident to me that GCHQ are in clear violation of laws concerning freedom of expression and privacy, let alone the Computer Misuse Act 1990 which states:

Unauthorised acts with intent to impair, or with recklessness as to impairing, operation of computer, etc.

(1)A person is guilty of an offence if—

(a)he does any unauthorised act in relation to a computer;

(b)at the time when he does the act he knows that it is unauthorised; and

(c)either subsection (2) or subsection (3) below applies.

(2)This subsection applies if the person intends by doing the act—

(a)to impair the operation of any computer;

(b)to prevent or hinder access to any program or data held in any computer;

(c)to impair the operation of any such program or the reliability of any such data; or

(d)to enable any of the things mentioned in paragraphs (a) to (c) above to be done.

(3)This subsection applies if the person is reckless as to whether the act will do any of the things mentioned in paragraphs (a) to (d) of subsection (2) above.

(4)The intention referred to in subsection (2) above, or the recklessness referred to in subsection (3) above, need not relate to—

(a)any particular computer;

(b)any particular program or data; or

(c)a program or data of any particular kind.

(5)In this section—

(a)a reference to doing an act includes a reference to causing an act to be done;

(b)“act” includes a series of acts;

(c)a reference to impairing, preventing or hindering something includes a reference to doing so temporarily.

(6)A person guilty of an offence under this section shall be liable—

(a)on summary conviction in England and Wales, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 12 months or to a fine not exceeding the statutory maximum or to both;

(b)on summary conviction in Scotland, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months or to a fine not exceeding the statutory maximum or to both;

(c)on conviction on indictment, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding ten years or to a fine or to both.F1]

I wonder if GCHQ are going to receive the same treatment that LulzSec did for carrying out DDOS attacks.  Somehow I doubt it.

UPDATE: Quakenet have released a statement here

Drones, drones, drones

Drones 101 – The remote controlled killing machines reign fire from the sky…

Incase you are new to the world of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV’s) here’s an excellent three and a half minute introduction from Truthloader

Basically, the US and UK have had remote piloted aircraft and have been using them in the middle east and Pakistan to kill hundreds of innocent children. There are also unarmed variants used solely for surveillance.

Domestic Use

I must admit, I got this one wrong.  When news of drone attacks first started to surface, you had the usual “crackpot” cries that within a year or two domestic skies will be full of drones surveying us and eventually firing on us.  I didn’t think there was anything in it, it’d never happen.  Drones were purely a military aid, to be used in warfare and warfare alone. I was dead wrong.

There ARE, at this very moment, surveillance drones flying over US soil. Nobody knows how many, but we do know that they’re being flown without warrants (here) and that Obama signed an order to get 30,000 of the fuckers in the air by 2020 (here).

Last week, we had the first conviction aided by surveillance captured by a drone.  You might be thinking that it was some sort of armed siege or prevented terrorist attack….  No.  It was a man prosecuted because cattle from a neighbouring farm had wandered on to his land and he wouldn’t give them back.

Rodney Brossart ‘Drone Cattle Hustler’

Brossart was convicted in November of terrorizing two law enforcement officers who arrested him June 23, 2011, over a neighbor’s three cows and their calves that strayed on to his farm. It’s a felony with a top sentence of five years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

Also Tuesday, Brossart’s three sons — Thomas, Alex and Jacob, all in their 20s — pleaded guilty each to a misdemeanor charge of menacing law enforcement officers, reduced from the felony terrorizing charge, in an agreement with prosecutors.

After Brossart was arrested, an armed standoff ensued between his three sons and a SWAT team. His sons were located by a border-surveillance Predator borrowed from Customs and Border Patrol (CBP), which enabled local police to safely apprehend them

Amazon

Slave-labour powerhouse Amazon are also working on delivery drones, to automatically fly your parcels to you (here).

We’re excited to share Prime Air — something the team has been working on in our next generation R&D lab.

The goal of this new delivery system is to get packages into customers’ hands in 30 minutes or less using unmanned aerial vehicles.

Putting Prime Air into commercial use will take some number of years as we advance the technology and wait for the necessary FAA rules and regulations.

Check out this footage from a recent test flight.

Jesse Ventura

All of this has been enough to spook ex-wrestler turned politician and truther Jesse Ventura (here).

Former pro wrestler Jesse Ventura (AFP Photo / Brendan Smialovsky)

Surveillance drones haven’t started hovering outside and above the homes of Americans en masse just yet, but former Minnesota governor Jesse Ventura claims he’s left the United States just in case.

Ventura, a 62-year-old professional wrestler-turned-politician, says his new Ora TV program ‘Off the Grid’ is being filmed in secret somewhere in Mexico where the all-seeing eye of American unmanned aerial vehicles, or drones, don’t have a chance of finding him.

Speaking to CNBC on Tuesday from an “undisclosed location” south of the border, Ventura said there was a reason he doesn’t reveal his each and every movement.

“I’m off the grid. I move about with my TV show so that the drones can’t find me and you won’t know exactly where I am,” Ventura said.

According to Ventura, his Ora TV program will continue to broadcast “as long as we have solar power and we can reach the satellite.”

“I view the United States, today, much like East Berlin. And I’m off the grid. I’ve tried for 20 years to warn the country about the Democrats and Republicans, and nobody’s listening,” he said

“I now view the United States from the outside, and I don’t like what I see,” added Ventura, who won Minnesota’s gubernatorial election back in 1998. “You know what the favorite T-shirt was off the grid down here a couple years ago? A picture of [former President] George Bush, and it said weapon of mass destruction. Is that the way we want the United States portrayed throughout the world? I don’t think so.”

Some pretty interesting developments.  Which brings me to the core purpose of this article.  It was bound to happen, and now its looking increasingly more likely.  Drones over the UK.

Taranis: UK armed drone prototype

Information has now been released that this once top secret prototype took its maiden voyage in August 2013, and lasted 15 minutes.  It is the next-gen armed drone and up to now, development cost a hefty £185m. RAF Air Vice-Marshal Sue Gray said:

Taranis is the most technically advanced RPAS (Remotely Piloted Air System) we’ve ever developed with our partners.

It marks an extremely important part in the road map to the future.

A bilateral deal was announced between the UK and French governments last week that will see the two nations work together on a two-year project to develop a new drone, and the Taranis prototype will be the cornerstone on which the project is based.

Now I know what you’re thinking, its just a military drone program. But, a couple of spanners and a little time can disarm this drone, such as happened with the military Predator Drone in the US.  This, will be the drone patrolling the skies of Europe and surveilling every day Euro citizens within the next 5 years.

EU declares Britain’s benefits system inadequate

As a member of the EU, the UK must legally abide by European Social Charter.  The ESC safeguards a persons right to, amongst other things, an adequate level Social Security provision from their country of residence.

Iain Duncan Smith’s changes to the benefits system under the Welfare Reform Act 2012 were assessed in a report by the Council of Europe here and states the following:

The Committee holds that even if the minimum levels of short term and long term incapacity
benefits, state pension and job seeker’s allowance may satisfy the requirements of the
European Code of Social Security, they are manifestly inadequate in the meaning of Article
12§1 of the Charter as they fall below 40% of the Eurostat median equivalised income.

In order to meet the legally binding requirement to provide adequate social security, Jobseekers Allowance has to be increased from £67 per week to £137. Incapacity Benefits would have to be increased from £71/£94 per week to somewhere in the region of £142/£188 per week for short term and long term respectively.

Iain-Duncan-Smith quotes lunacy

Well, I wouldn’t have expected anything else from such a heartless person.  Why the need for bodyguards to meet with the disabled Mr Smith? Why the need for water canons?  But I digress….

Here’s the quote in context:

This government has made great strides in fixing the welfare system so that spending is brought under control. It’s lunacy for the Council of Europe to suggest welfare payments need to increase when we paid out £204bn in benefits and pensions last year alone.

Fixing?  Whatever you say Iain.

The fact is, the findings are legally binding. Not something that has to be merely taken in to account as the DWP said over the issue.  It matters not how little this government has given to those so dearly in need, when what has been given, falls so far below what has been deemed acceptable.

The report has been met by cries from Smith’s fellow Tories.

Philip Davies, MP for Shipley, said:

The Government can no longer stand by.  They have got to say, “We’re sick to the back teeth of this interference, we’re going to withdraw from the European Convention of Human Rights”.

I find this statement very telling.  Especially considering Mr Cameron’s thoughts on leaving the EU.  You have to ask yourself why he would do such a thing?  You can bet that the erosion of human rights that the EU supposedly offers us has a great deal to do with it.

Whether these legally binding mere recommendations will amount to anything remains to be seen, but hopefully a legal challenge or two is fired at the current government, and we’ll see how it plays out.  The situation is likely to be discussed further in Strassburg and it should be of note that this is not the first ESC report that has criticised the UK’s social security policies. Per the report:

In its previous conclusion the Committee held that the minimum levels of Statutory Sick Pay,
Short Term Incapacity Benefits and contributory Jobseeker’s Allowance for single person were
manifestly inadequate.

This doesn’t give me a great deal of hope that any kind of enforcement action will be taken by ESC against the UK, but you never know.

I leave you with the report’s conclusion:

The Committee concludes that the situation in United Kingdom is not in conformity with Article
12§1 of the Charter on the ground that:

  • The minimum levels of short-term and long-term incapacity benefit is manifestly inadequate;
  • The minimum level of state pension is manifestly inadequate;
  • The minimum level of job seeker’s allowance is manifestly inadequate.