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  • Ryan Gallagher | RJGallagher.co.uk: A New Cold War?
    a military programme under government direction until 2003 A major concern for western governments is that if Iran was to develop nuclear weapons it would be able to assert domineering power across the Middle East and beyond ramping up instability and heightening the potential threat of war This fear is in part fuelled by a speech made by Ahmedinejad in 2005 in which he said Israel must be wiped off the map Attempting to address the problem and due in part to Iran s apparent lack of cooperation a coalition of nations led by the US Britain and Israel are believed to have intensified secret intelligence operations in the country In September 2010 it was revealed that a virus called Stuxnet reportedly created by western powers in collaboration with Israel was used to attack and spy on Iranian computer systems One month later John Sawers the head of Britain s foreign spy agency MI6 said in a rare public speech that intelligence led operations were needed to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons More recently a series of explosions have been reported at Iranian nuclear plants sparking rumours of sabotage while a number of Iranian nuclear scientists have also been assassinated 40 year old Majid Shahriari a top scientist described by Time magazine as the senior manager of Iran s nuclear effort was killed last November after a death squad on motorbikes attached a bomb to his car and detonated it as he drove away Similar attacks have occurred since all of which the Iranians claim were orchestrated by MI6 in collaboration with the US Central Intelligence Agency CIA and Israel s secret service the Mossad UK officials have refused to comment saying only We never discuss intelligence matters Though current intelligence missions remain a tight lipped secret David Steele is well equipped to offer an insight into the realities of espionage The 59 year old former US spy worked for the CIA during the 1980s as a clandestine case officer chasing terrorists around Latin America His role in the CIA led him to feel he was the Cold War equivalent of a Jesuit priest however today his view of the agency especially its alleged involvement in Iran is highly critical The president Barack Obama would have signed an authorisation for covert action in Iran but there are also rumours that the CIA is out of control on the drone program and it might be out of control in other areas he says Israel has had much too much influence on the US government often using lies agents of influence including dual US Israeli citizens in top policy positions with top secret clearances and false flag operations Israel is paranoid and out of control It wants nothing more than to get the US to do to Iran what Iran got the US to do to Iraq Steele believes allegations of UK and US involvement in assassination plots are absolutely credible He does not deny Iran could be developing a military

    Original URL path: http://www.rjgallagher.co.uk/2011/12/new-cold-war.html (2016-02-16)
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  • Ryan Gallagher | RJGallagher.co.uk: Governments turn to hacking techniques for surveillance of citizens
    Team The Bundestrojaner federal trojan software which state officials confirmed had been used gave law enforcement the power to gain complete control over an infected computer The revelation prompted an outcry in Germany as the use of such methods is strictly regulated under the country s constitutional law A court ruling in 2008 established a basic right to the confidentiality and integrity of information technological systems Lots of what intelligence agencies have been doing in the last few years is basically computer infiltration getting data from computers and installing trojans on other people s computers says Frank Rieger a CCC spokesman It has become part of the game and what we see now is a diffusion of intelligence methods into normal police work We re seeing the same mindset creeping in They re using the same surreptitious methods to gain knowledge without remembering that they are the police and they need to follow due process In the UK there is legislation in place governing the use of all intrusive surveillance Covert intelligence gathering by law enforcement or government agencies is currently regulated under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act Ripa which states that to intercept communications a warrant must be authorised by the Home Secretary and be deemed necessary and proportionate in the interests of national security public safety or the economic well being of the country There were 1682 interception warrants approved by the Home Secretary in 2010 latest official figures show According to Jonathan Krause an IT security expert who previously worked for Scotland Yard s hi tech crime unit bugging computers is becoming an increasingly important methodology for UK law enforcement There are trojans that will be customer written to get past usual security firewalls malware scanning and anti virus devices but these sorts of things will only be aimed at serious criminals he says Concerns remain however that despite export control regulations western companies have been supplying high tech surveillance software to countries where there is little or no legislation governing its use In 2009 for instance it was discovered that American developer SS8 had supplied the United Arab Emirates with smartphone spyware after around 100 000 users were sent a bogus software update by telecommunications company Etisalat The technology if left undetected would have enabled authorities to bypass Blackberry email encryption by mining communications from devices before they were sent Computer security researcher Jacob Appelbaum is well aware what it is like to be a target of covert surveillance He is a core member of the Tor Project which develops free internet anonymysing software used by activists and government dissidents across the Middle East and north Africa to evade government monitoring A former spokesman for WikiLeaks Appelbaum has had his own personal emails scrutinised by the US government as part of an ongoing grand jury investigation into the whisteblower organisation On 13 October he was in attendance at ISS World where he was hoping to arrange a presentation about Tor only to be ejected after

    Original URL path: http://www.rjgallagher.co.uk/2011/11/governments-turn-to-hacking-techniques.html (2016-02-16)
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  • Ryan Gallagher | RJGallagher.co.uk: Bank Transfer Day
    big enough movement to really have far reaching consequences he says If they find enough people to join the boycott then of course the boycotted banks will get into trouble because they will lose lots of deposits If they concentrate on one particular institution and the institution is small then they could probably sink it I would tend to think though unless I m entirely mistaken that this particular boycott movement will probably only have punctual or limited impact Ritschl added that the ongoing protests were not likely to spark any self regulated change from within the banking sector but could force politicians to introduce stricter rules regulations to appease public anger I don t think these protests will be entirely ineffective he says They do keep the discussion about bankers the role of banks and the financial meltdown alive They will add momentum to the quest for radical banking reform and bankers compensation schemes so in that broader political sense I would tend to think that yes they will have an impact Many of those participating in Bank Transfer Day have already taken it upon themselves to close their accounts though some have been obstructed their banks In October two women entered a Bank of America BoA branch in Santa Cruz California carrying a sign that read I am closing my BoA account today The police were called and the women were made to leave the branch after they were reportedly told by a member of staff you can t be a protester and a customer at the same time The bank said in a statement We do not allow protestors inside of our banking centres If a customer who is participating in a protest wishes to conduct bank business including close an account we ask them to come back when they are not protesting or they may also conduct their bank business at a nearby branch away from protest activities One man the banks will have difficulty stopping from closing his account is Alex Schaefer who is fully committed to the 5 November boycott The 41 year old American artist has become notorious in recent months for painting pictures of banks on fire a symbolic reflection of US society s incendiary anger over the financial crisis It s been slowly dawning on me since about 2003 or 2004 that the financial sector is totally out of control says Schaefer The ratings agencies which assess the financial strength of companies aren t doing anything and the politicians are completely bought off In my opinion they re just sailing the ship into destruction Shaefer who previously worked as a video games artist for Disney was questioned by police in July after he was spotted painting a picture of a burning bank in Burbank Southern California The authorities suspected he could be a plotting terrorist attack He explains They asked me do you hate the banks I told them I don t hate the banks but I think everybody is sick

    Original URL path: http://www.rjgallagher.co.uk/2011/11/bank-transfer-day.html (2016-02-16)
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  • Ryan Gallagher | RJGallagher.co.uk: The Occupy Movement and The Indignados
    lot to complain about said 29 year old Virginia Lopez Calvo We are sure that more people will join us if we continue to convene The 15 M however seemed to lose steam after the Madrid camp which had become the beating heart of the movement voted to disband in early June Marches and demonstrations continued some of which were suppressed by authorities but lacked the same scale The systemic change which at one point seemed to be within the clutch of the Indignados grasp suddenly began to look like a faded dream There was a moment when the movement itself appeared destined to fizzle out as had the protests of 1968 absorbed into history before making any substantial political impact That was of course until a new wave of protesters exploded onto Wall Street New York in September which injected a powerful double dose of energy and inspiration into not only the Spanish movement but to similar protest groups across Europe and beyond Calling themselves the 99 per cent a reference to the gap in income and wealth between the one per cent super rich and the rest of society the Wall Street protesters had themselves been moved into action after watching events unfold in Spain Greece and the Middle East Their anger like that of their European counterparts was borne on a basic level from the same sense of disillusion even despair at the political establishment and the lack of equality and opportunity within their society Dubbed the Occupy movement the American protest which is ongoing erupted like a volcano into something far more politically radical than anything proposed by the Indignado reformists Though it adopts the same participatory methods of direct democracy used in Madrid the New York group completely rejects politicians and the traditional system of government instead calling explicitly for a revolution of the mind as well as the body politic By mid October Occupy inspired groups many forming their own general assemblies and tent based occupations had sprung up in over 80 countries and 900 towns and cities including across the UK It s about finding a new way for people to actually have control over their own lives said 32 year old Tom Holness a protester involved with an Occupy group in Birmingham At the moment our access to democracy is limited to going to a ballot box every five years and voting for people who are going to lie about what they re going to do Each of the groups methods goals and motivations are not necessarily the same but they are united in their adoption of participatory democracy and their broad rejection of leaders and hierarchical forms of organisation Some are reformist others revolutionary all are vehemently opposed to the current political and economic status quo In cities across the world there is now that same sense of indescribable energy and optimism that could be felt in Madrid s Puerta del Sol in May It is contagious and continues to spread

    Original URL path: http://www.rjgallagher.co.uk/2011/10/occupy-movement-and-indignados.html (2016-02-16)
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  • Ryan Gallagher | RJGallagher.co.uk: Electronic Tagging: a Lucrative Business
    young person described it like being on a dog chain Others felt that it actually exacerbated the chances that they would be breached and returned to prison due to the amount of frustration it caused Campaign groups have also expressed concern that under new government plans the length of a curfew could be raised from its current twelve hour a day maximum to 16 hours and the order doubled in duration from six months to twelve Being confined can affect rehabilitation into the community depending on the number of hours per day says Sally Ireland a policy director for human rights organisation Justice At 16 hours it really starts affecting employment education and other opportunities to undertake meaningful activity There should be a rational connection between the offending and the curfew and it should be proportionate It shouldn t just be used as a form of house arrest or a way of putting somebody in custody harshly Advocates of the tag argue that it can provide order and stability to sometimes chaotic lives allowing an offender to reintegrate into society after committing a crime However one former Birmingham University student convicted of an offence midway through a computer science degree told The Big Issue in the North being tagged for a four month period after an early release from prison had a negative effect on his education I couldn t go in to the university labs to use specialist software because of tag said the 29 year old who asked to remain anonymous It impacted my coursework without doubt It wasn t ideal and I did get special understanding from the university They accepted that I couldn t work for four and a half months because of the tag but it did restrict me In recent months tags have attracted negative publicity after being imposed for minor offences In March a 66 year old great grandmother from Sale was tagged after selling a goldfish to a 14 year old boy an animal welfare law passed in 2006 made it illegal to sell goldfish to under 16s And it was reported in July that a 71 year old woman from Hattersley was tagged for three months after refusing to have her sick dog put down Stacey concedes that there will always be bizarre instances and eccentric judges who impose an electronic tag in questionable circumstances But he remains firm in his conviction that the technology will always be a better alternative to prison Tagging is not a massive shock to the system he says Banging somebody up in prison is completely alarming and heaven knows what sort of consequences it could have Magistrates don t like sending people to jail But if they re not allowed to put them on the tag they won t have a choice Just ask a person would you rather be on the tag or in prison There s only one answer you ll get to that This article first appeared in issue 897 of The

    Original URL path: http://www.rjgallagher.co.uk/2011/10/electronic-tagging-lucrative-business.html (2016-02-16)
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  • Ryan Gallagher | RJGallagher.co.uk: Climate of Fear in the NHS
    and ensure the country has a truly world class health service Months after the listening exercise however the British Medical Association BMA which represents around 141 000 doctors and medical students in the UK called for the Health and Social Care Bill to be withdrawn or at the very least significantly amended The clear view of BMA Council is that the Health and Social Care Bill remains deeply flawed said Dr Hamish Meldrum the council s chairman The BMA will continue to publicly and vigorously highlight the concerns of doctors and patients particularly to peers who have a real opportunity to protect the NHS by addressing the damage that could be done by many aspects of these reforms One long serving nurse at a hospital in south London Mike Davey told The Big Issue in the North the fear is that the standard of service and ultimately patient care will be severely compromised by the changes There s a nervous anticipation and a lot of staff are very concerned It s having a negative impact on morale he said This particular government is putting thumb screws on to the managers the executives and the trust boards so they have to pretty much market test everything which means services being privatised out We re told a private company can do things cheaper and better than our own in house services But previous experience since the Thatcher government in the 80s brought in mass privatisation has led us to see that this is not actually the case At a hospital on the outskirts of Manchester some surgeries may have already been rationed due to budget shortages According to Oldham and Saddleworth MP Debbie Abbrahams a 33 year old man in her constituency had an operation to fix his cataracts delayed because his sight was classed as impaired as opposed to blind The man an engineer by trade cannot work due to his condition and will have to wait until his vision worsens before he can undergo immediate surgery Delays to simple and relatively inexpensive operations like those for cataracts can severely affect a person s life Abbrahams said I am very concerned about this situation as I have had several constituents come to me asking for help because they cannot get their cataracts treated in a reasonable time Along with Michael Meacher and other Greater Manchester MPs I am asking Oldham s Primary Care Trust for clear answers about why this and other basic operations are being hit so hard by this government s ideologically driven cuts On 11 October the Health and Social Care Bill will be debated at length in the House of Lords The Lords can propose amendments to the Bill with some Liberal Democrat peers led by Baroness Shirley Williams expected to rebel against it Writing in the Observer last month Williams said that she had huge concerns adding The battle is far from over For Ben Jackson a spokesman for UK Uncut this Sunday s protest will

    Original URL path: http://www.rjgallagher.co.uk/2011/10/climate-of-fear-in-nhs.html (2016-02-16)
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  • Ryan Gallagher | RJGallagher.co.uk: Inside the World's Largest Arms Fair
    room Defence Secretary Liam Fox delivers a speech Anti arms campaigners have levelled criticism against the government for doing deals with Bahrain and Saudi Arabia in the aftermath of crackdowns on protesters across the Arab world Fox is dismissive I am proud that the UK is the second biggest defence exporter in the world he says This is fundamental part of the coalition government s agenda for economic growth but it is also part of our strategy of enlightened international engagement Back on the exhibition floor the atmosphere is carefree A tall Arab man dressed in a pristine white Thawb and protected by a circle of six bodyguards is treated like a celebrity at a stand offering intelligence and surveillance systems made by German company Cassidian Gold buckles on his brown leather sandals sparkle in the light people walking by stop and stare I think he s a Saudi prince one says Nearby two glamour models Rosie Jones and Charlotte McKenna joke and flirt as they sign copies of a Hotshots calendar in which they are pictured scantily clad wielding various pistols and rifles Next to stalls selling vicious looking machine guns gas masks and chemical suits for use in the event of a biological weapons attack free massages are on offer and delegates eat canapés washed down with glasses of sparkling wine The prevailing opinion among the delegates and exhibitors is that they are in the business to bring security to the world they deny claims made by campaign groups that they are peddlers of death A representative from Pakistan s exhibit Major Ali Asghar Mushtaq says his country is here selling weapons to help bring about a more peaceful world The aim of Pakistan s army is that everything manufactured and sold should not be for killing and terror activities he says It should bring peace on the whole world not wars Does he really believe manufacturing arms en masse will help bring about peace It s obvious he says Once one country and the other country both have weapons no one is going to use the weapons against each other So there will be more stability Later Major Mushtaq and his colleagues are removed from the exhibition after it is discovered they are advertising cluster bombs banned under UK law But his viewpoint lingers The South African exhibit on the other side of the hall boasts that it is securing a peaceful future through high technology defence equipment and Condor a Brazilian company that supplied teargas and rubber bullets used against protesters in Bahrain says it is committed to the reduction of violence through gradual use of force These apparent paradoxes litter the hall The lavish consumption of food and drink sits awkwardly with the sale of gleaming weapons that are ultimately used to kill and maim And the talk of security attained through the mass production of arms is reminiscent of George Orwell s dystopian nightmare in Nineteen Eighty Four where peace is itself a state

    Original URL path: http://www.rjgallagher.co.uk/2011/09/inside-worlds-largest-arms-fair.html (2016-02-16)
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  • Ryan Gallagher | RJGallagher.co.uk: Business as Usual? Arms, Surveillance and Arab Dictatorships
    used for repressive purposes unless firm new legislation is implemented controlling the countries to which it is exported Just because the physical harm comes once removed from this particular technology it doesn t mean we shouldn t be concerned about it he said If there are safety implications for people in terms of their human rights or physical safety then we should have some kind of controls The problem that we have in the west is that in most cases those regulations are quite poor when it comes to export licensing The onus is definitely on us to deal with that side of things and we haven t done so Through the course of the Arab Spring the murky world of mass surveillance has undoubtedly been exposed by the fracture of once intensely secretive regimes But important questions have also been raised about the UK s role in arming state forces responsible for brutally repressing protests across the region In February the Foreign Office said it was conducting an immediate and rapid review of all UK arms export licences to affected countries Between February and June however arms sales to Libya Bahrain and Saudi Arabia totalled over 30m 30 per cent more than for the same period in 2010 Weapons exported included sniper rifles shotguns and submachine guns according to an investigation by The Times The government has since blocked the export of arms to Libya and Syria as part of an EU embargo and also revoked a number of military export licences to Bahrain But Oliver Sprague director of human rights group Amnesty International s UK arms control programme said it was a case of closing the stable door after the horse had bolted and called for tighter regulations Countries are entitled to purchase weaponry for legitimate defence and policing purposes but was it ever remotely sensible for the UK to sell weapons and crowd control equipment to countries like Gaddafi s Libya he said The key question is are our existing risk assessment procedures tight enough when it comes to sending arms overseas The lesson of countries like Bahrain and Libya is that they re not and we could still end up sending weapons to human rights abusers in the future The Foreign Office said that there was no evidence of any misuse of controlled military goods exported from the United Kingdom though admitted further work is needed on how we operate certain aspects of the controls A spokesperson said We do not export equipment where there is a clear risk it could be used for internal repression Respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms are mandatory considerations for all export licence applications HMG Her Majesty s Government reacted quickly to the events in the Middle East we reviewed licences and moved swiftly to revoke where they were no longer in the line with the criteria This article first appeared in issue no 893 of the Big Issue in the North Exports and the law There has been

    Original URL path: http://www.rjgallagher.co.uk/2011/09/business-as-usual-arms-surveillance-and.html (2016-02-16)
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