Syrian Civil War

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Syrian opposition accuses government of new chlorine gas attack

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Reuters/StringerSyria's government has given up more than 86 percent of its chemical weapons, yet opposition activists released video of people apparently choking on chlorine gas bombs in the rebel-held region of Kfar Zeita. The Syrian regime has denied any responsibility, and the authenticity of the video is still being reviewed, but the United Nations has called for an investigation.

If verified, the attack would directly violate the Chemical Weapons Convention, which Syria entered in September as part of its weapons surrender agreement.

Wall Street Journal shared one of the videos of hospital workers assisting victims frantically (Warning: Graphic content):

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Saving the Internet

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R.I.P. net neutrality

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TomWheeler

When the FCC's net neutrality rules were thrown out last year, advocates for a free and open Internet were discouraged.

When news broke today of the FCC's apparent interest in codifying pay-to-play for Internet service providers, folks were straight up pissed.

The new rules, written by FCC chair (and former cable industry lobbyist) Tom Wheeler, detail how Internet service providers will now be able to pay particular content companies different amounts for different levels of service. This model could increase costs for those companies, who would presumably in turn pass those costs onto consumers, many of whom are already paying high bills for Internet utilities that are dominated by a few large companies.

This is the exact future we feared when the FCC's net neutrality rules were overturned by a federal appeals court last year. Until the Internet is deemed a "public utility," net neutrality may remain six feet under, while the FCC is led by a man whose apparent interests lie with the cable giants instead of the people.

Ironically, Brazil today passed net neutrality and an Internet bill of rights into law.

More, assuredly, to come.

Surveillance State

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LA police keeps experimental drone surveillance program secret

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Center for Investigative ReportingWhen the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department launched a surveillance drone experiment in crime-heavy Compton, it didn't warn the public they would be filmed from a plane overhead for a few hours per day.

“A lot of people have a problem with the eye in the sky, the big brother, so in order to mitigate those complaints, we basically kept it pretty hush-hush," said Sergeant Doug Iketani.

The increasing investment in technology to keep a closer eye on crime is alarming citizens about the implications of this level of surveillance and constant collection of personal data, according to a Center for Investigative Reporting report.

Law enforcement agencies argue that, despite facial recognition software that finds suspect records instantly and the proliferation of cameras to monitor city streets, there is little detail in the content collected and it is used strictly used for crime solving and predictive policing purposes.

Opponents say the collection of personal information, such as the fingerprints collected for background checks and the FBI’s next-generation identification program launching this summer, could be merged with criminal records and place innocent people under suspicion. Residents worry about law enforcement peeking into their daily lives without them knowing about it. In Oakland, a group of protesters successfully stopped the implementation a citywide camera surveillance program.

This video by the Center for Investigative Reporting explores surveillance technology and how it is used in California:

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LinkAsia Headlines

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Obama backs Japan in island dispute with China

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LinkAsia news headlines: US President Barack Obama backs Japan over a disputed group of islands it calls Senkaku. Chinese officials condemn the comments, asserting China's own claim to the islands, known there as Diaoyu. Meanwhile, Sherpas in Nepal campaign for better compensation after an avalanche on Mt. Everest killed 16 last Friday.

Get more news from LinkAsia every Friday at 9:30pm ET/6:30 pm PT on Link TV.

Bleakonomics

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“Internet crime has become like real-world crime: it disproportionately impacts the poor and the uneducated”

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Over at Matter, Danny Bradbury may have found one of the few things worse than pay-day loans companies: illegal scammers who prey on people looking for short-term cash loans. Bradbury profiles a world of murky online advertising and even darker fraud, in which a hacker surfing on the edge of legality emerges as an unlikely good guy.