Saudi Arabia declares all atheists are terrorists in new law to crack down on political dissidents

Saudi_Arabia_kaabaSaudi Arabia has introduced a series of new laws which define atheists as terrorists, according to a report from Human Rights Watch.In a string of royal decrees and an overarching new piece of legislation to deal with terrorism generally, the Saudi King Abdullah has clamped down on all forms of political dissent and protests that could “harm public order”.The new laws have largely been brought in to combat the growing number of Saudis travelling to take part in the civil war in Syria, who have previously returned with newfound training and ideas about overthrowing the monarchy.

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Russia Blocks Access to Major Independent News Sites

Russia’s government has escalated its use of its Internet censorship law to target news sites, bloggers, and politicians under the slimmest excuse of preventing unauthorized protests and enforcing house arrest regulations. Today, the country’s ISPs have received orders to block a list of major news sites and system administrators have been instructed to take the servers providing the content offline.

The banned sites include the online newspaper Grani, Garry Kasparov’s opposition information site kasparov.ru, the livejournal of popular anti-corruption crusader Alexei Navalny, and even the web pages of Ekho Moskvy, a radio station which is majority owned by the state-run Gazprom, and whose independent editor was ousted last month and replaced with a more government-friendly director.

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Saudi Arabia bans energy drinks, outlaws all forms of advertising

Manama: Saudi Arabia has banned the sale of energy drinks at all public education and health facilities.  The ban, announced by the government following its weekly session on Monday, is also imposed on all cafeterias, eateries and food outlets at government establishments and institutions, public and private gyms and fitness and health clubs in the kingdom.  The decision was taken following an interior ministry study of the “adverse effects of energy drinks,” local media said, without naming any of the brands affected.  A news report by the Saudi Press Agency did not explain the reasons for the study or the decision.  All forms of promoting and advertising for energy drinks, be they through print, audio or visual media or otherwise, are outlawed, the cabinet said.

Under the blanket ban, energy drinks companies, agents, distributors and promoters are prohibited from sponsoring any sports, social or cultural event or engaging in any process that leads to promotion, the cabinet said, basing its decision on a study by the interior ministry on the negative effects of the drinks.  No energy drinks should be distributed or given away for free to consumers, regardless of their age.  Energy drinks company owners and importers must have warning labels in both Arabic and English on the cans to caution consumers against what the interior ministry claim are harmful effects, the ban said.

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Seoul: Kim Jong Un Fires Uncle, Executes His Associates

South Korea’s spy agency believes North Korean leader Kim Jong Un may have fired his uncle from a top military post and publicly executed some of his associates.  Lawmakers briefed by Seoul’s National Intelligence Agency said Tuesday that Jang Song Thaek was apparently removed as vice chairman of the powerful National Defense Commission.  The lawmakers say the agency believes two of Jang’s closest aides – Lee Yong-ha and Jang Soo-keel – were executed in mid-November and that he has not been seen since.   Aidan Foster-Carter, an honorary senior fellow at the University of Leeds in England and a long-time Korea watcher, says the demotion of Jang, while not confirmed, is very plausible.

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TPP Leak Confirms the Worst: US Negotiators Still Trying to Trade Away Internet Freedoms

After years of secret trade negotiations over the future of intellectual property rights (and limits on those rights), the public gets a chance to looks at the results. For those of us who care about free speech and a balanced intellectual property system that encourages innovation, creativity, and access to knowledge, it’s not a pretty picture.  Today Wikileaks published a complete draft of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement’s chapter on “intellectual property rights.” The leaked text, from August 2013, confirms long-standing suspicions about the harm the agreement could do to users’ rights and a free and open Internet. From locking in excessive copyright term limits to further entrenching failed policies that give legal teeth to Digital Rights Management (DRM) tools, the TPP text we’ve seen today reflects a terrible but unsurprising truth: an agreement negotiated in near-total secrecy, including corporations but excluding the public, comes out as an anti-user wish list of industry-friendly policies.

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Public Mass Executions Carried Out in Seven North Korean Cities

PYONGYANG, North Korea, Nov. 12 (UPI) — Dozens of people were executed recently in seven North Korean cities in the first known mass executions in the Kim Jong Un regime, South Korean media reported.  The executions of about 80 people occurred Nov. 3 for relatively minor infractions, such as watching South Korean movies or distributing pornographic material, Korea Joongang Daily reported Monday.  People were executed in cities such as Wonsan, Chongjin, Sariwon and Pyongsong. No one was executed in Pyongyang, North Korea’s capital.  In Wonsan, eight people tied to stakes at a local stadium with their heads covered were shot with a machine gun, a source told Korea Joongang Daily. Witnesses said Wonsan authorities brought about 10,000 people, including children, to the stadium and forced them to watch.

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India tops new global slavery index

WhereHaveAlltheChineseMELBOURNE: About 14 million Indians are living in conditions of modern-day slavery, nearly half of 30 million across the world, according to the first Global Slavery Index published today.  The Global Slavery Index 2013, which surveyed 162 nations, was compiled by Australia-based rights organisation Walk Free Foundation using a definition of modern slavery that includes debt bondage, forced marriage, trafficked into brothels and the use of children in the military.  The Foundation’s estimate of 29.8 million slaves worldwide is higher than other attempts to quantify modern slavery. The UN estimates almost 21 million people are victims of forced labour.  India (13,956,010), China (2,949,243), Pakistan (2,127,132) and Nigeria (701,032) have the highest numbers of people enslaved, the rights group claimed.

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Something very wrong in the UK

Mention the UK and most of us imagine fish and chips or a decent pint rather than the Orwellian levels of online censorship about to be imposed on Brits at the end of 2013.  A new law will require ISPs block objectionable online content by default. Although there is an option to opt-out, anyone wanting the filter removed will need to contact their ISP to ask that it be switched off.  Censorship proponents argue that the filter isn’t a bad thing – keeping ones family safe from dodgy online content can only be a good thing right? The filter can also be turned off – even if that does mean an embarrassing call to your ISP.

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Editor jailed for seven years and sentenced to 600 LASHES

The editor of a Saudi Arabian social website has been sentenced to seven years in prison and 600 lashes for founding an Internet forum that violates Islamic values and propagates liberal thought, Saudi media reported on Tuesday.  Raif Badawi, who started the ‘Free Saudi Liberals’ website to discuss the role of religion in Saudi Arabia, has been held since June 2012 on charges of cyber crime and disobeying his father – a crime in the conservative kingdom.

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Anonymous Hacks North Korea Social Media Accounts

The hacker collective Anonymous has been busy attacking North Korea for the last few days, and Thursday, a faction apparently hacked into the Twitter and Flickr accounts of Uriminzokkiri, one of the isolated nation’s primary propaganda websites.

Uriminzokkiri’s Flickr account was peppered with random Photoshopped images of Kim Jong-Un as a pig and pictures of Guy Fawkes masks, while the site’s Twitter account presents evidence that it’s been hacked.

In recent days, as has been covered in my daily Cyber Beat column, Anonymous claims to have launched DDoS attacks on multiple North Korean websites and obtained 15,000 membership records of Uriminzokkiri users. According to a statement the hacker collective posted – in which they also happen to call the USA “crooks” and claim that the “USA is a threat to world peace too, and direct democracy (or any kind of democracy) doesn’t exist there” – more attacks against North Korea are to come.

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