News Digest (20 stories, 27.11.15)

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BELGIUM: After Paris, Brussels Seeks Morocco’s Help in Terror Control (Middle East Confidential, link): "Belgian police stage raid in Brussels suburb of MolenbeekAfter the precious help provided by Moroccan intelligence services that enabled French police locate mastermind of Paris attacks, Belgian officials have asked Morocco for help to track a key suspect in connection with the Paris terror massacre."

BELGIUM: Radicalisation of people of foreign descent to be probed (Flanders News, link): "The aim will be to bring experts on the issue of the radicalisation of foreigners together. The focus will not only be on asylum seekers, but all people in Belgium of foreign heritage. Incidents linked to radicalisation and immigration will be examined too... The taskforce will include representatives of the ministers of justice, the interior, defence and asylum and migration. The immigration department, the commissariat-general for refugees , the asylum agency, the interior ministry and its crisis centre, the body analysing the terror threat, Belgian jails, military and civilian intelligences services and the police will also be involved."

BELGIUM: Suspect powder arrives through mosque's letterbox (Flanders News, link): "Several envelopes containing a suspicious white powder have arrived through the letterbox of the Grand Mosque in Brussels. The fire brigade and civil protection officers have arrived at the scene to examine the substance and make sure it's not anthrax."

CZECH REPUBLIC: Former intelligence chief: We have known for a long time that terrorists use this country as a safe haven or transit state (Radio Praha, link): "Ever since the terrorist attacks in Paris, security issues have been at the forefront of public and media attention in the Czech Republic. Although the country’s intelligence says it has no indication of an imminent threat, security has been tightened around key institutions and will remain so at least until the end of the year. The need to consider security is affecting things like the traditional lighting of the Christmas tree on Old Town Square as well as people’s travel plans for the holidays. For this edition of Panorama I spoke to former military intelligence chief Andor Šandor about the security threat to this country, its emergency forces and the effectiveness of its public warning system."

EU: €5.4 million for grassroots projects to prevent and combat racism, xenophobia, homophobia and other forms of intolerance (European Commission press release, link): "As a direct follow-up of the 2015 Annual Colloquium on Fundamental Rights: "Tolerance and respect: preventing and combating antisemitic and anti-Muslim hatred in Europe", the European Commission has published a call for proposals under the Rights, Equality and Citizenship Programme."

EU: Future of the Internet of things: What IoT means for me and EU (The Parliament, link): "The importance of funding in the development of the Internet of things(IoT) was front and centre during a conference in Brussels on Thursday"

FRANCE: The Fragile French Republic (The Atlantic, link): "France is now a top target of international jihad, having perhaps eclipsed even the “Great Satan” of the United States. It is easily accessible to jihadists with European passports—many hundreds of them French—and is a nation-symbol of secular enlightenment, with a notoriously fraught and, some would say, hostile approach to Islam. But its specific political culture and national mythology also make it particularly susceptible to the trap ISIS has laid for it. A history of political upheaval and collapse seems to have instilled in the country’s political leaders the conviction, even in times of political calm, that France’s Republican project is terribly fragile. This alleged fragility can impose a sort of permanent defensiveness, a siege mentality that treats criticism as treachery and the admission of failure as an “anti-Republican” threat to the nation’s very survival. As elsewhere, moments of crisis tend not to bring analysis and adaptation, but retrenchment; in France, that tendency is particularly pronounced, exacerbated and legitimated by a long political tradition."

FRANCE-ECHR: La France informe le Secrétaire Général de sa décision de déroger à la Convention européenne des droits de l’homme en application de son article 15 (Council of Europe, link): "Les autorités françaises ont informé le Secrétaire Général du Conseil de l’Europe d’un certain nombre de mesures prises dans le cadre de l’état d’urgence instauré à la suite des attentats terroristes de grande ampleur perpétrés à Paris, mesures qui sont susceptibles de nécessiter une dérogation à certains droits garantis par la Convention européenne des droits de l’homme."

German arms trader 'sold rifles for Paris attack' (The Local, link): "An arms dealer from southern Germany has been arrested on suspicion of supplying the weapons used in the Paris terrorist attacks, German media reported on Friday."

MALTA: 137 inmates still presumed innocent (Times of Malta, link): "A total of 137 prison inmates, including 47 foreigners, are being held in preventive custody in prison though they are still presumed innocent, according to figures given in Parliament."

Supreme Court Opens Door for Pirate Site Blockades in Germany (Torrent Freak, link): "Domain name blocking has become one of the entertainment industries’ go-to methods for reducing online copyright infringement.

"Blocking requests from both the music and movie sector are widespread around Europe, but until now Germany has been excluded.

"However, this may soon change. In a landmark ruling the Supreme Court has today opened the door to German pirate site blockades."

MONTENEGRO: US and NATO Praise Montenegro's Progress (Balkan Insight, link): "US and NATO officials welcomed Montenegro’s security reforms ahead of a key meeting next week, when alliance foreign ministers will decide on whether to invite it to join the club."

UK ISP boss points out massive technical flaws in Investigatory Powers Bill (Ars Technica, link): "The head of the UK ISP Andrews & Arnold, Adrian Kennard, has pointed out a number of major technical issues with the proposed Investigatory Powers Bill (aka the Snooper's Charter). Kennard and other representatives of the UK Internet Service Provider’s Association (ISPA) met with the Home Office on Tuesday, where they presented a number of ethical, technical, and privacy related issues with the incoming new law. These issues, plus some of the Home Office's responses, can be found in written evidence (PDF) penned by Kennard."

UK: Benefit cap discriminated against disabled people, court rules (The Guardian, link): "The welfare secretary, Iain Duncan Smith, unlawfully discriminated against disabled people by failing to exempt their carers from the benefit cap, a high court judge has ruled."

UK: National Crime Agency reviews warrants after major trials collapse (The Guardian, link): "The National Crime Agency has launched an internal inquiry into its use of warrants and production orders after the collapse of major trials, amid warnings that other cases could be in jeopardy.

"The NCA and the Crown Prosecution Service were investigating every type of authorisation the organisation received to raid homes, seize property, and collect telephone and banking records, BuzzFeed News reported.

"The website reported that the NCA admitted to judges it used evidence that may have been gathered unlawfully in four major cases – three of which have collapsed at a cost of millions of pounds to the taxpayer."

UK: Surveillance operation targeting sister of former paratrooper 'not properly authorised' (The Guardian, link): "The sister of a former paratrooper who was unlawfully killed in a police station has described how she felt “terrorised by the state” after it was revealed that up to 14 police officers were deployed to spy on her. The police operation targeting Janet Alder, which included surveillance and allegedly at least one attempt to eavesdrop on a conversation with her barrister, was not properly authorised, prosecutors said."

UK: The UK Wants to Store Every Citizen's Browsing Data. I Tried Collecting My Own (Motherboard, link): "My digital life sits in one 8.5 MB folder. It contains reams of logs, detailing the connections between my computer and the internet. Every website I've visited, every online service I've used. It shows when I logged in, how long I stayed for, and when I moved on—whether I was researching articles, talking to friends, shopping, or feeding my insatiable YouTube habit. Thousands of lines of data, squeezed into dozens of Excel spreadsheets."

UK: Theresa May accused of rushing surveillance bill through back door (The Guardian, link): "The home secretary, Theresa May, has been accused of fast-tracking her “snooper’s charter” legislation by the back door after giving a scrutiny committee of MPs and peers only three weeks to consider the 299-page bill."

UK: Time to listen to the experts: it’s time for a time-limit (Unlocking Detention, link): "You do not have to dig deep to discover the harm that indefinite detention does to people. This harm stays with people, and affects people’s relationships, families, and the community more widely. The damage of indefinite detention does not end when someone is released (and most people are released into the community and are not removed from the UK, begging the question of the point of detention in the first place). People who have experienced the lack of a time-limit are quick to remark on its impact on others."

USA: The CIA Paid This Contractor $40 Million to Review Torture Documents (Vice News, link): "One of the main criticisms leveled by Republicans and CIA supporters about the Senate Intelligence Committee's landmark five-year study into the CIA's torture program has been the cost to taxpayers: $40 million.

"The implication by these critics is that the Senate Democrats who led the investigation were responsible for the expenditures associated with the production of their voluminous report, which concluded that the CIA's use of so-called "enhanced interrogation techniques" was not effective and did not produce "unique" and "valuable" intelligence.


"But VICE News has exclusively obtained more than 100 pages of contracting documents [pdf below] that show it was CIA officials who insisted on outsourcing work related to the Senate's review — and that it was the CIA that paid more than $40 million to one of its longtime contractors for administrative support and other tasks related to the Senate's work. Those tasks included compiling, reviewing, redacting, and then posting to a server set up by the contractor the more than 6 million pages of highly classified CIA cables and other documents about the torture program Senate Intelligence Committee staffers pored through during the course of their probe."

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