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The CIA and Me: How I Learned Not to Love Big Brother

Photo by Andrea Yori | CC BY 2.0 In the wake of the 2001 terrorist attacks, Washington pursued its elusive enemies across the landscapes of...

UN slams Britain’s ‘Big Brother’ anti-terrorism strategy

The UK’s ‘Big Brother’ culture of surveillance and suspicion in combatting terrorism is “inherently flawed” and could be promoting extremism rather than combatting it,...

Big Brother Capitalism Strikes Back

Photo by SPACES Gallery | CC BY 2.0 In classic capitalist fantasy, the “private” marketplace is a land of liberty and the state is a...

Big Brother Already Watches Everyone in America

Post-9/11, an array of police state laws, executive orders, memoranda, various national security and homeland security presidential directives, along with other repressive measures eliminated...
video

Video: Big brother is watching? UK intelligence spied on Israel – Snowden leak

British secret services have been spying on Israel's diplomats, defense firms, and military, according to documents released by whistleblower Edward Snowden ... Via Youtube

BBC to Air ‘Muslim Big Brother’ Show Featuring Islamic State Defender

The BBC is set to broadcast a two-part ‘Muslim Big Brother’ reality TV series featuring a supporter of jailed radical cleric Anjem...

TiSA… Big Brother and Big Business Together

(Photo: Tim Dorr) President Obama started a fresh push for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TTP) on Friday when he sent Congress a draft Statement of Administrative Action. That...

Google upgrades warnings to alert users to when Big Brother is watching

Google will display a full-page warning if state-backed attackers attempt to access a user’s Gmail account...

Government pressurizing tech firms to join big brother state

The pressure on social media companies to limit or take down content in the name of national security has never been greater. Resolving any...

Exposed: Big Brother’s ‘Unique and Productive’ Relationship with AT&T

Newly disclosed National Security Agency documents show that the U.S. government's relationship with telecom giant AT&T has been considered "unique and especially productive," according...
video

Video: AI & Big Brother Surveillance Being Sold As Trendy and Cool

Former DARPA director Regina Dugan to discuss artificial intelligence with global power brokers. Via Youtube

US has become a massive big brother police state: Journalist

The US Central Intelligence Agency and the National Security Agency are spying on all people around the world, particularly those in Islamic countries that...

Big Brother, eh?

This week we break Bill C-51, down Kanada’s sinister new law, that would give the Canucks increased spying powers over its population. On the break,...

Big Brother finds new way to track every vehicle owner

We predicted it would happen. A year after the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) scuttled plans to build its own nationwide database of vehicle...
video

All of the Ways Big Brother Is Watching You

Privacy as we once knew it is dead. We now find ourselves in the unenviable position of being monitored, managed and controlled by our...

Don’t use Charlie Hebdo to justify Big Brother data-slurp — Data protection MEP

The European Parliament’s data protection supremo says calls from national leaders to monitor all airline passengers are “playing into terrorists' hands”. German MEP Jan Philipp...

‘More transparency needed to combat online propaganda’ – Big Brother Watch

Confidential discussions have been taking place between UK government officials in Downing Street and representatives of some of the major internet search providers about...

Big Brother Wants ‘To Make Life Easier’ For You – But Ask Yourself Why

Rather than a telescreen sinisterly watching you from the corner, the future will be about citizens communicating with government through the screen. Tim Adler Government today...

Any Palestinian is exposed to monitoring by the Israeli Big Brother

Testimonies from people who worked in the Israeli Intelligence Corps tell of a system where there were no boundaries I enlisted in the Intelligence Corps...

Big Brother’s War On Israel, Ukraine and Truth

The other night, I saw George Orwells’s 1984 performed on the London stage. Although crying out for a contemporary interpretation, Orwell’s warning about the future was presented...

“Big Brother Britannia”: Bouncing Parliament. Surveillance and Police State by Emergency in the UK

You have to give him some credit. The soul of the prison warder who inhabits the public school boy is not always easy to...

We’re ALL Winston Smith now – and our common enemy is the Big Brother...

The latest thing we've all got to worry about in this brave new world of ours is that the young, not having read Orwell's Nineteen...

Orwell’s Nightmare: The NSA and Google–Big Brother Meets Big Business

“The Google services and apps that we interact with on a daily basis aren’t the company’s main product: They are the harvesting machines that dig up and process the stuff that Google really sells: for-profit intelligence.”—Journalist Yasha Levine “We know where you are. We know where you’ve been. We can more or less know what […]

10 Examples Of How “Big Brother” Is Steadily Creeping Into Our Daily Lives

Virtually everything that you do is being watched.  Do you drive a car?  Do you watch television?  Do you use a cell phone?  As you do any of those things, information about you is being recorded and tracked.  We live at a time when personal privacy is dying.  And it is not just governments that [...]

Big Brother ‘spy car’ is watching parking sites

Callum Keown A £30,000 ‘spy car’ is being used by Oxford City Council to catch motorists who fail to pay their parking fees. The council bought a Citroen...

Big Brother Insanity: Countries Who Protect Citizens From NSA Spying “ViolateTrade Laws”

NSA spying is costing the U.S. tech industry tens of billions of dollars, and people around the world are trying to find non-U.S. companies to...

Big Brother – The Mandatory Passenger Inside Your Next Car

Zenon Evans Whether you’re backing out of the garage in an SUV the size of a Balkan state or in a zippy little Prius, the...

Why We Oppose Big Brother in the Bay Area

On March 4, 2014, the Oakland City Council will decide to award a contract that, if approved, will impact your civil rights. The Domain...

Putting Big Brother in the Driver’s Seat: V2V Transmitters, Black Boxes & Drones

“It’s a future where you don’t forget anything…In this new future you’re never lost…We will know your position down to the foot and down to the inch over time…Your car will drive itself, it’s a bug that cars were invented before computers…you’re never lonely…you’re never bored…you’re never out of ideas… We can suggest where you […]

Putting Big Brother in the Driver’s Seat: V2V Transmitters, Black Boxes & Drones

John W. Whitehead RINF Alternative News Time to buckle up your seatbelts, folks. You’re in for a bumpy ride. We’re hurtling down a one-way road toward...

Trans Pacific Partnership Is A “Corporatist Power Grab”, Shrouded In “Big Brother-Like Secrecy”

The U.S. Trade Representative — the federal agency responsible for negotiating trade treaties — has said that the details of the Trans Pacific Partnership...

Bloomberg: Trans Pacific Partnership Is “Corporatist Power Grab”, “As Democratic And Transparent As A...

Washington's Blog The U.S. Trade Representative — the federal agency responsible for negotiating trade treaties — has said that the details of...

NSA Pwns World of Warcraft & Nerds Out on Porn | Big Brother Watch

Abby Martin goes over the latest NSA revelations which outline how the agency has spied on online gamers in the World of Warcraft and...

“Big Brother is Watching You” — Cover Your Webcam, the NSA Can Turn it...

We noted in June that the single most important thing you can do to protect yourself from government spying is to realize that the...

Under the Global Shadow of Big Brother, Journalism Must Light Up the Political Sky

Norman Solomon Every new revelation about the global reach of the National Security Agency underscores that the extremism of the surveillance state has reached gargantuan...

Amazon, Domino’s and Big Brother: Drones Flying the Not-So-Friendly Surveillance Skies

“The privacy and dignity of our citizens [are] being whittled away by sometimes imperceptible steps. Taken individually, each step may be of little consequence. But when viewed as a whole, there begins to emerge a society quite unlike any we have seen–a society in which government may intrude into the secret regions of a [person's] […]

Big brother’s always been watching US

As revelations from whistleblower Edward Snowden continue to mount, Americans have been shocked by the NSA's incredible invasions of privacy - some more so...

At some schools, ‘Big Brother’ is watching

Kelly Wallacecnn.comNovember 8, 2013 Just as parents are grappling with how to keep their kids safe on social media, schools are increasingly confronting a controversial...

Big Brother’s loyal sister: Feinstein

Big Brother�™s loyal sister: How Dianne Feinstein is betraying civil libertiesSen. Dianne Feinstein, chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee Ever since the first big revelations...

Big Brother’s Loyal Sister: How Dianne Feinstein Is Betraying Civil Liberties

Diane Feinstein Ever since the first big revelations about the National Security Agency five months ago, Dianne Feinstein has been in overdrive to defend the...

Big Brother’s Loyal Sister

Ever since the first big revelations about the National Security Agency five months ago, Dianne Feinstein has been in overdrive to defend the surveillance...

Daniel Daniel Domscheit-Berg’s Big Brother Bundle

Reagan's relaxation of media ownership rules in the 80s not only caused a massive loss of jobs, it seems, but distorted the flow of...

US big brother state ‘self-pervasive’

An American journalist says Washington's secret use of Australia's embassies across Asia for spying purposes illustrates the “pervasiveness of big brother state” in the...

We Have Very Sophisticated Big Brothers in the World Now

Jeremy Scahill: “The only beneficiaries of any of these wars have been the elite, the rich! And in the current context: huge corporations. They...

Big Brother tax: US roads to be funded by tracked cars?

Published time: October 28, 2013 10:40 Reuters/Kevin Lamarque Black boxes installed on cars in the US may soon track all their movements to determine...

Big Brother is Watching You: Pervasive Surveillance Under Obama

Path-breaking article first published on GR in July 2009 Under the rubric of cybersecurity, the Obama administration is moving forward with a Bush regime program...

The Data Hackers: Mining Your Information for Big Brother

Big Bro is watching you. Inside your mobile phone and hidden behind your web browser are little known software products marketed by contractors to...

Big Brother Partially Shut Down: Over Six Thousand NSA Workers “Furloughed”

 Patrick Henningsen There's been a lot of talk this week about ‘furloughed' federal workers who are currently at home on unpaid leave because of the...

Apple iPhone 5S: Big Brother Dream Come True

The latest iPhone is an ode to biometrics, spying, and the Big Brother control grid. Anthony...

Apple iPhone 5S: Big Brother Dream Come True

The latest iPhone is an ode to biometrics, spying, and the Big Brother control grid. Anthony...

Apple iPhone 5S: Big Brother Dream Come True

The latest iPhone is an ode to biometrics, spying, and the Big Brother control grid. Anthony...

Steve Jobs Is ‘Big Brother’ And Smartphone Users Are ‘Zombies,’ According To NSA Cell...

from the the-NSA-hates-you-for-your-freedom dept Tim CushingTechDirt.comSept. 10, 2013 Just in case you're not convinced the intelligence community...

Time Reporter Who Advocated Drone Strike on Assange Loves Big Brother

‘Big government helps protect our rights’ Paul Joseph Watson Infowars.com August 19, 2013 Michael Grunwald, the Time Magazine reporter who advocated killing Julian Assange...

Move over NSA, here comes the Obamacare Big Brother database

James S. Robbins Rare July 21, 2013 Would you trust thousands of low-level Federal bureaucrats and contractors with one-touch access to your private financial...

10 Ways That The Iron Grip Of The Big Brother Prison Grid Is Tightening...

Do you ever feel trapped in an invisible control grid that is slowly but surely closing in all around you? Do you ever feel...

Britain’s big brother approach slammed

Terror experts say that a Å“big brother” approach will never solve terrorism in Britain.Following the eighth anniversary of the July 7 bombings in London,...

Orwell's Big Brother

Rothbard’s review of George Orwell’s Nineteen ...

Are We Really Free When Big Brother Is Systematically Turning America Into A Giant...

Every year on July 4th we celebrate our "independence", but is America really free? How could we possibly be free when "Big Brother" is...

Big Brother, not Snowden and Greenwald, Is the Story

“Instead of being adversaries to government power ... ... servants to it and mouthpieces for it.” So said the Guardian’s Glenn Greenwald, who broke...

Big Brother, not Snowden and Greenwald, Is the Story

“Instead of being adversaries to government power ... ... servants to it and mouthpieces for it.” So said the Guardian’s Glenn Greenwald, who broke...

This Really Is Big Brother: The Leak Nobody’s Noticed

When the free press, explicitly protected in the bill of rights becomes equivalent to an "enemy of the United States" something very, very bad is happening.

Big Brother Bank Tracks Customers Phones

Millions of Barclays bank account holders will have their mobile devices tracked from October this year. The banking giant also plans to sell customer's purchasing information to third party companies or government departments, it has been revealed.

Big Brother Writ Large in America

Big Brother Writ Large in America by Stephen Lendman Spying on its citizenry reflects one of the most defining police state characteristics. Post-9/11, America crossed the...

Uncle Sam and Corporate Tech: Domestic Partners Raising “Digital Big Brother”

 A terrible formula has taken hold: warfare state + corporate digital power = surveillance state.  “National security” agencies and major tech sectors have teamed up to...

The Surveillance State: Big Brother Writ Large in America

Spying on its citizenry reflects one of the most defining police state characteristics. Post-9/11, America crossed the line. Unconstitutional mass surveillance became official US policy....

Big Brother alert: Cameras in the cable box to monitor TV viewers

Cheryl K. ChumleyWashington TimesJune 18, 2013 It hardly gets more Orwellian than this. New technology would...

The Rest Of The World Is Absolutely Disgusted With Our Big Brother Spying Methods

Michael T. SnyderThe Economic CollapseJune 12, 2013 The rest of the world has found out...

BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU (Updated)

Big Brother is watching you throughout the United States and the World 60 Years of bullshit and internal terrorism We have your home secured – literally!! We have already got you covered via Hotmail, Gmail, Yahoo, Facebook, Skype, AOL, Apple, Youtube and PalTalk By the time you have read this article most of its contents […]

Mass Surveillance in America. Big Brother is Real. It’s no longer Fiction

It shouldn’t surprise. It’s longstanding policy. Post-9/11, it escalated. Previous articles said Big Brother is real. It’s no longer fiction. Mass surveillance is official US...

NSA Wants to Punish Big Brother Whistleblower

CBS News June 9, 2013 After a pair of mass online and phone surveillance programs were revealed in two stunning reports, the National...

“Big Brother Obama” Systematic Spying on Americans: Unconstitutional US Data-Mining

On June 5, London’s Guardianreported part of it. “NSA collecting phone records of millions of Verizon customers daily,” it headlined.On June 6, a follow-up...

Dissolving Micro-Chip Will Tell Big Brother Your Every Move

John Rogers PhD and his team work out of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. They, along with other teams...

Dissolving Micro-Chip Will Tell Big Brother Your Every Move

John Rogers PhD and his team work out of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. They, along with other teams...

Dissolving Micro-Chip Will Tell Big Brother Your Every Move

John Rogers PhD and his team work out of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. They, along with other teams...

Big Brother sees you off: Foreigners in US to be fingerprinted upon leaving country

Travelers visiting the US may have to prepare for more hassles at customs: All foreign nationals leaving the country at 30 airports must have...

“Big Brother” is Big Business?

CBS NewsMay 17, 2013 The odds are you are not just a face in the crowd...

“Big Brother” is Big Business?

CBS NewsMay 17, 2013 The odds are you are not just a face in the crowd...

Another Layer of Big Brother Britain is Revealed

It seems that the London Met Police isn't content with spying on a mere 57,000 people, it has now emerged that they considered buying access to innocent citizen's private data including; gender, age, citizen's postcodes, who they made phone calls to and when, and even details of their web and app usage.

Smart Meters – Big Brother In The Home

Smart meters replace analog meters and are designed to send utility use in real time. They essentially create a home network which collects sensitive personal information.

Big Brother Spends £100K On Ineffective CCTV

Civil liberties campaigners have hit out at Swindon Council’s plan to link CCTV cameras across the town centre in a £100k bid to combat crime and disorder.

Big Brother Knows How You’re Feeling

A company that develops crowd control weapons for the military and law enforcement personnel have now created an advanced 'Minority Report' style facial - and emotion - recognition system.

New Code Protects Big Brother Britain

A new code of practice will be introduced under the guise of forcing authorities to comply with a set of principles called "surveillance by consent".

‘Big Brother’ CCTV Internet Company Expansion Slammed

Australians are now able to view CCTV footage in UK stores in a move slammed as "pointless and perverted." Cornwall-based website Internet Eyes offers rewards...

Big Brother? State will ‘count’ unemployed’s job searches

Government urge unemployed to sign up for jobs site which can detect number of searches The Week THE GOVERNMENT is courting controversy over a new scheme...

RINF Video: Big Brother Google’s Privacy Policy – What They Didn’t Tell You

RINF News reports the truth behind Google's controversial changes to its privacy policy, a move which outraged privacy advocates and left many wondering what...

Buying into Big Brother

One of my buddies as of 2007 could not get over his disbelief that people shopped online. He was not technologically unsophisticated; indeed, he...

Big Brother Business on Steroids?

Candace Talmadge | Welcome to the world of Big Data, that tsunami of information flowing through the Internet from billions upon billions of handheld devices...

Your Dog: Big Brother’s Best Friend

A parish council has proposed plans to use DNA testing on dog waste in a bid to catch owners who allow their pets to...

Big Brother Society – spying shame of councils

The Courier | Councils across Scotland have used anti-terrorism powers to spy on their own residents hundreds of times – but just a handful of...

Big Brother surveillance secrets have practically outlawed privacy

SCOTUS and suing over government surveillance secrets is sadly not a question of IF Big Brother should spy on us, but about deciding if...

Big Brother cars “Stasi-type secret spy operation”

Mick Meaney | New plans to expand the UK's controversial 'spy car' scheme has been labeled a 'Stasi-type spy operation'. The plans are to supposedly protect...

Big Brother Britain: Surveillance drones ‘a huge potential for abuse’

Jamie Doward, The Observer | Drones will be commonplace in the skies above the UK within a decade, according to a European commission document suggesting that hundreds of firms will...

Australia is big brother capital

Andrew Puhanic, Zen Haven | The Australian Government has now been labelled as the most intrusive government in the western world. It has been revealed that on...

US Navy turns smartphones into secret big brother

V3 | One of the biggest challenges facing any cat-burglar is knowing where to find the loot once they've broken in. Now US Navy researchers...

FBI rolling out hi-tech ‘Big Brother’ monitoring system

Thanks to the FBI, the United States government will soon have a nationwide system in place capable of monitoring and identifying persons of interest...

Trial for ‘Big Brother’ care system

About a dozen homes in Scotland have been fitted with an array of sensors, motion detectors, microphones and digital cameras linked to intelligent software.

Big Brother in the electronic age

WE'RE a big country so I guess it's understandable that not only is Big Brother watching -- but now it's Big Sister, Big Uncle,...

Bluetooth “Big Brother” tracks festival-goers

Researchers are using Bluetooth technology to observe the meanderings of tens of thousands of festival-goers at a top European rock festival, hoping their findings...

Big brother is watching

The furore around the Chinese government’s Green Dam software has raised the issue of the way modern technology is used to monitor our daily...

Report Finds Government Big Brother Plans Overly Intrusive

RINF NEWS A new study from experts at the London School of Economics (LSE) has found that government plans to monitor our Internet communications could cause...

Digital Big Brother with IP CCTV

Half of city councils have moved their CCTV to IP systems, letting more real-time applications be used by police and other government agencies. According to...

UK Government Drops Big Brother ‘Database’ But Remains Big Brother

The UK government wants communications companies to keep records of our phone, text messages, e-mail and Internet traffic, but has dropped plans to keep this information stored...

Big Brother in your car – Orwellian box to track your movements

The government is backing a project to install a "communication box" in new cars to track the whereabouts of drivers anywhere in Europe, the...

Don’t sleepwalk into Big Brother surveillance, schools warned

By STEPHEN NAYSMITH | Schools which employ biometric technologies such as fingerprint patterning to manage libraries or dinner queues should put surveillance and privacy issues...

Big brother, big bother?

Is the proposed Communications Data Bill a step too far for the British way of life? Timothy Pitt-Payne reports   By Timothy Pitt-Payne | On 15...

‘Big Brother’ government costs us £20billion

By Andrew Porter | The cost of Britain’s "surveillance society" measures is now running at £20 billion, a new report reveals today. The amount is...

Sweden passes ‘Big Brother bill’

Press TV | Swedish lawmakers vote in favor of a controversial bill allowing all emails and phone calls to be monitored over 'security issues'....

Biometric scans raise spectre of Big Brother workplaces

Management-Issues | As the FBI embarks on a $1bn programme to build the world's largest computer database of peoples' physical characteristics, UK employers are...

Big Brother Britain

Employers could find themselves in hot water if they decide to follow a new government plan to record and store all of Britain’s emails,...

Union attacks Big Brother CCTV plan for exams

PLANS to use CCTV to spy on students sitting exams have been branded as Orwellian. The Examination Officers’ Association is planning to test the move...

Big Brother Keeping Tabs On Students

New technology is helping Guilford County school leaders keep an eye on your kids. Greensboro, NC -- The district installed the first surveillance cameras more...

America: Big Brother’s big week

Americans learned last week that, whatever the law says, they shouldn't assume that their private communications are private. It was a big week for...

Welcome to Big Brother Britain

Immigrants will give fingerprints, iris scans AND personal details for ID cards ... or be thrown out By JAMES SLACK Foreigners who repeatedly flout the rules...

The Future of Big Brother

Homeland Security is bankrolling futuristic profiling technology to nab terrorists before they strike. Robert L. Mitchell As soon as you walk into the airport, the machines...

BBC: Big Brother Cooperation

It's a matter of alarm and concern that there are so many people out there who still believe that the BBC is a balanced...

Ten ways to thwart Big Brother

We’ve never been under such intense scrutiny as we are today. So how do we evade the snoopers? Here, an ‘off-grid’ expert offers an...

Big Brother Britain: Government and councils to spy on ALL our phones

By JASON LEWIS Officials from the top of Government to lowly council officers will be given unprecedented powers to access details of every phone call...

Surveillance state: Is Uncle Sam the new Big Brother?

If you've traveled out of the country, the government may have a file with your name on it.    Names, addresses, credit card information. Itineraries,...

Big Brother Bins – This Time It’s CCTV

Requests to place cameras on new wheelie bins were among some of the queries submitted following the announcement of Spelthorne's new waste collections. The new...

Welcome to 1984: Your Boss as Big Brother

By Mick Meaney RINF Alternative News Amazingly, the corporate environment could pose a far greater privacy risk than methods currently being used by the authorities. Corporate...

Safer society or Big Brother state?

Marcel Berlins The Guardian The question we need to ask about the storing of DNA samples is the same as the one bedevilling our approach to...

Post codes help Big Brother keep an eye on us

By Roger Highfield and Nic Fleming Post codes: not just for post anymore Jason and Samantha, the "burdened optimists" of Chatham ME5, are young, ambitious and...

Big Brother was watching George Orwell for ‘communist views’

By COLIN FERNANDEZ His chilling portrait of the Big Brother state in the novel 1984 is lauded as visionary. But it seems George Orwell was under...

High Tech Helpers or Big Brother Surveillance Tools?

CityWatcher.com, a provider of surveillance equipment, attracted little notice itself - until a year ago, when two of its employees had glass-encapsulated microchips with...

China’s ‘Big Brother surveillance’ to dwarf UK

By Richard Spencer China has launched an ambitious "Big Brother" surveillance programme using everything from closed circuit television systems that can recognise faces to identity...

ID cards ‘could be a Big Brother tax trap’

By Christopher Hope Identity cards could provide a back door for the taxman to snoop on people's affairs using a database of National Insurance numbers. The...

UK data watchdog issues Big Brother warning

By Andrew Thomas THE UK INFORMATION COMMISSIONER'S OFFICE (ICO) has warned that bureaucrats share citizens' data with each other willy-nilly and citizens probably don't even...

George Orwell, Big Brother is watching your house

The Big Brother nightmare of George Orwell's 1984 has become a reality - in the shadow of the author's former London home. It may have...

Big brands turning to Big Brother

Questionnaires and focus groups aren't enought - now companies are having volunteers filmed for days on end to see what makes customers really tick,...

Big brother Britain

How can free people grapple with growing threats to their privacy and liberty? A computer-security guru's view of the surveillance dystopia worries Becky Hogge Becky...

Public webcams, not CCTV, urged to avoid Big Brother society

Ian Sample Footage from surveillance cameras must be made freely available to the public if Britain is to avoid becoming a Big Brother state, researchers...

ALEC's Little Brother, ACCE, Has Big Plans for 2017

(Photo: Joe Brusky) I recently returned from the American Legislative Exchange Council's 2016 States and Nation Policy Summit, in Washington, DC. As a Mayor, I...

The Koch Brothers Donated Big Bucks to the Corporate Front-Group ALEC and the Climate-Change-Denying...

Salon.com / By Jillian Rayfield

According to financial disclosures, the Kochs donated $24 million to conservative foundations in 2011.

Photo Credit: Suzanne Tucker / Shutterstock.com

February 1, 2013  |  

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Tax filings obtained by the Center For Public Integrity show that the billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch donated a combined $24 million to various conservative organizations and think tanks in 2011, through the four foundations that they run.

From CPI:

A $4.5 million grant to the George Mason University Foundation makes up nearly 15 percent of the university foundation’s  revenue for 2011. The school is the  largest recipient of Koch foundation money since 1985, and it houses several free-market and libertarian research centers including the  Institute for Humane Studies, which received $3.7 million from the Koch foundations.

The D.C.-based American Legislative Exchange Council received $150,000 to help finance its activities, including  meetings where corporate representatives draft model legislation with state legislators. The Koch brothers have decades-long connections with ALEC, which gave the brothers the Adam Smith Free Enterprise Award in  1994.

Among the other groups the Koch brothers donated to were the Heartland Institute, the climate change-skeptical think tank, which received $25,000; the Federalist Society, which got $260,000; and the Ayn Rand Institute, which took in $100,000.

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RT America's ‘The Big Picture’ welcomes new host Holland Cooke

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Corporate Press Fails to Trump Bigotry

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Wall Street Greed: Not Too Big for a California Jury

Sixteen of the world’s largest banks have been caught colluding to rig global interest rates.  Why are we doing business with a corrupt global banking cartel?

United States Attorney General Eric Holder has declared that the too-big-to-fail Wall Street banks are too big to prosecute.  But an outraged California jury might have different ideas. As noted in the California legal newspaper The Daily Journal:

California juries are not bashful – they have been known to render massive punitive damages awards that dwarf the award of compensatory (actual) damages.For example, in one securities fraud case jurors awarded $5.7 million in compensatory damages and $165 million in punitive damages. . . . And in a tobacco case with $5.5 million in compensatory damages, the jury awarded $3 billion in punitive damages . . . .

The question, then, is how to get Wall Street banks before a California jury. How about charging them with common law fraud and breach of contract?  That’s what the FDIC just did in its massive 24-count civil suit for damages for LIBOR manipulation, filed in March 2014 against sixteen of the world’s largest banks, including the three largest US banks – JP Morgan Chase, Bank of America and Citigroup.   

LIBOR (the London Interbank Offering Rate) is the benchmark rate at which banks themselves can borrow. It is a crucial rate involved in over $400 trillion in derivatives called interest-rate swaps, and it is set by the sixteen private megabanks behind closed doors.

The biggest victims of interest-rate swaps have been local governments, universities, pension funds, and other public entities. The banks have made renegotiating these deals prohibitively expensive, and renegotiation itself is an inadequate remedy. It is the equivalent of the grocer giving you an extra potato when you catch him cheating on the scales. A legal action for fraud is a more fitting and effective remedy. Fraud is grounds both for rescission (calling off the deal) as well as restitution (damages), and in appropriate cases punitive damages.

Trapped in a Fraud

Nationally, municipalities and other large non-profits are thought to have as much as $300 billion in outstanding swap contracts based on LIBOR, deals in which they are trapped due to prohibitive termination fees. According to a 2010 report by the SEIU (Service Employees International Union):

The overall effect is staggering. Banks are estimated to have collected as much as $28 billion in termination fees alone from state and local governments over the past two years. This does not even begin to account for the outsized net payments that state and local governments are now making to the banks. . . .

While the press have reported numerous stories of cities like Detroit, caught with high termination payments, the reality is there are hundreds (maybe even thousands) more cities, counties, utility districts, school districts and state governments with swap agreements [that] are causing cash strapped local and city governments to pay millions of dollars in unneeded fees directly to Wall Street.

All of these entities could have damage claims for fraud, breach of contract and rescission; and that is true whether or not they negotiated directly with one of the LIBOR-rigging banks.

To understand why, it is necessary to understand how swaps work. As explained in my last article here, interest-rate swaps are sold to parties who have taken out loans at variable interest rates, as insurance against rising rates. The most common swap is one where counterparty A (a university, municipal government, etc.) pays a fixed rate to counterparty B (the bank), while receiving from B a floating rate indexed to a reference rate such as LIBOR. If interest rates go up, the municipality gets paid more on the swap contract, offsetting its rising borrowing costs. If interest rates go down, the municipality owes money to the bank on the swap, but that extra charge is offset by the falling interest rate on its variable rate loan. The result is to fix borrowing costs at the lower variable rate.

At least, that is how they are supposed to work. The catch is that the swap is a separate financial agreement – essentially an ongoing bet on interest rates. The borrower owes both the interest onits variable rate loan and what it must pay on its separate swap deal. And the benchmarks for the two rates don’t necessarily track each other. The rate owed on the debt is based on something called the SIFMA municipal bond index.  The rate owed by the bank is based on the privately-fixed LIBOR rate.

As noted by Stephen Gandel on CNNMoney, when the rate-setting banks started manipulating LIBOR, the two rates decoupled, sometimes radically. Public entities wound up paying substantially more than the fixed rate they had bargained for – a failure of consideration constituting breach of contract. Breach of contract is grounds for rescission and damages.

Pain and Suffering in California

The SEIU report noted that no one has yet completely categorized all the outstanding swap deals entered into by local and state governments.  But in a sampling of swaps within California, involving ten cities and counties (San Francisco, Corcoran, Los Angeles, Menlo Park, Oakland, Oxnard, Pittsburgh, Richmond, Riverside, and Sacramento), one community college district, one utility district, one transportation authority, and the state itself, the collective tab was $365 million in swap payments annually, with total termination fees exceeding $1 billion.

Omitted from the sample was the University of California system, which alone is reported to have lost tens of millions of dollars on interest-rate swaps. According to an article in the Orange County Register on February 24, 2014, the swaps now cost the university system an estimated $6 million a year. University accountants estimate that the 10-campus system will lose as much as $136 million over the next 34 years if it remains locked into the deals, losses that would be reduced only if interest rates started to rise. According to the article:

Already officials have been forced to unwind a contract at UC Davis, requiring the university to pay $9 million in termination fees and other costs to several banks. That sum would have covered the tuition and fees of 682 undergraduates for a year.

The university is facing the losses at a time when it is under tremendous financial stress. Administrators have tripled the cost of tuition and fees in the past 10 years, but still can’t cover escalating expenses. Class sizes have increased. Families have been angered by the rising price of attending the university, which has left students in deeper debt.

Peter Taylor, the university’s Chief Financial Officer, defended the swaps, saying he was confident that interest rates would rise in coming years, reversing what the deals have lost. But for that to be true, rates would have to rise by multiples that would drive interest on the soaring federal debt to prohibitive levels, something the Federal Reserve is not likely to allow.

The Revolving Door

The UC’s dilemma is explored in a report titled “Swapping Our Future: How Students and Taxpayers Are Funding Risky UC Borrowing and Wall Street Profits.” The authors, a group called Public Sociologists of Berkeley, say that two factors were responsible for the precipitous decline in interest rates that drove up UC’s relative borrowing costs. One was the move by the Federal Reserve to push interest rates to record lows in order to stabilize the largest banks. The other was the illegal effort by major banks to manipulate LIBOR, which indexes interest rates on most bonds issued by UC.

Why, asked the authors, has UC’s management not tried to renegotiate the deals? They pointed to the revolving door between management and Wall Street. Unlike in earlier years, current and former business and finance executives now play a prominent role on the UC Board of Regents.

They include Chief Financial Officer Taylor, who walked through the revolving door from Lehman Brothers, where he was a top banker in Lehman’s municipal finance business in 2007. That was when the bank sold the university a swap related to debt at UCLA that has now become the source of its biggest swap losses. The university hired Taylor for his $400,000-a-year position in 2009, and he has continued to sign contracts for swaps on its behalf since.

Investigative reporter Peter Byrne notes that the UC regent’s investment committee controls $53 billion in Wall Street investments, and that historically it has been plagued by self-dealing. Byrne writes:

Several very wealthy, politically powerful men are fixtures on the regent’s investment committee, including Richard C. Blum (Wall Streeter, war contractor, and husband of U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein), and Paul Wachter (Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s long-time business partner and financial advisor). The probability of conflicts of interest inside this committee—as it moves billions of dollars between public and private companies and investment banks—is enormous.

Blum’s firm Blum Capital is also an adviser to CalPERS, the California Public Employees’ Retirement System, which also got caught in the LIBOR-rigging scandal. “Once again,” said CalPERS Chief Investment Officer Joseph Dear of the LIBOR-rigging, “the financial services industry demonstrated that it cannot be trusted to make decisions in the long-term interests of investors.” If the financial services industry cannot be trusted, it needs to be replaced with something that can be.

Remedies

The Public Sociologists of Berkeley recommend renegotiation of the onerous interest rate swaps, which could save up to $200 million for the UC system; and evaluation of the university’s legal options concerning the manipulation of LIBOR. As demonstrated in the new FDIC suit, those options include not just renegotiating on better terms but rescission and damages for fraud and breach of contract. These are remedies that could be sought by local governments and public entities across the state and the nation.

The larger question is why our state and local governments continue to do business with a corrupt global banking cartel. There is an alternative. They could set up their own publicly-owned banks, on the model of the state-owned Bank of North Dakota. Fraud could be avoided, profits could be recaptured, and interest could become a much-needed source of public revenue. Credit could become a public utility, dispensed as needed to benefit local residents and local economies.

__________________

Ellen Brown is an attorney, founder of the Public Banking Institute, and a candidate for California State Treasurer running on a state bank platform. She is the author of twelve books, including the best-selling Web of Debt and her latest book, The Public Bank Solution, which explores successful public banking models historically and globally.

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Koch Brothers-Style Free Society

Koch Brothers-Style Free Society

by Stephen Lendman

Charles and David Koch are modern-day robber barons. They're multi-billionaires. Forbes estimates their April 2014 net worth at $40.3 billion each.

Charles is Koch Industries (KI) chairman and CEO. David is executive vice president.

They're $6 billion richer this year than last. They make money the old fashioned way. Behind every fortune lies a great crime, said Balzac. Maybe he was thinking of Charles and David.

KI is America's second largest private company. Agribusiness giant Cargill holds top spot. Its estimated 2013 revenues were $136.7 billion.

KI's are an estimated $115 billion. Both companies way outdistance number three ranked Dell. Its estimated 2013 revenues were $56.94 billion.

Heads of these and other industrial giants won't go begging. Koch brothers want lots more billions than already. 

Getting them any way possible alone matters. They go all-out for all they can. Charles was quoted earlier saying: 

"Most power is power to coerce somebody. We don't have the power to coerce anybody."

Their deep pockets do their coercing for them. They want unfettered market freedom. They each own 42% of KI. They prefer remaining private. Charles once said KI will publicly offer shares "literally over (his) dead body."

KI operates in dozens of countries worldwide. It's in 45 US states. It employs tens of thousands of workers.

Its businesses include manufacturing, energy, oil refining and distribution, chemicals, fiber, intermediates and polymers, minerals, fertilizers, pulp and paper, chemical technology equipment, ranching, finance, commodities trading, plus other ventures and investments.

Both brothers buy influence. They finance radical right interests to get it. They bankroll neocon political action groups, think tanks, and ideologically over-the-top politicians.

They advance extremist limited government notions. They favor business friendly anti-populist policies. 

They abhor regulations. They want freedom to swindle, cheat and grab all they can.

They want state enterprises sold at fire sale prices. They want first dibs to buy them. They want minimal corporate taxes. Ideally they none at all. 

They want their personal tax obligation shrunk to as little as possible. They want ordinary people forced to pay more so they can pay less.

They want social justice eliminated entirely. They want trade unionism weakened. Ideally they want it gone.

They oppose universal healthcare, financial fairness, public education, and environmental sanity. They love job-killing trade deals.

They'll benefit hugely from Keystone XL's pipeline's completion. According to a report released last October, it represents a potential $100 billion windfall.

KI and both brothers separately own two million acres of Alberta, Canada land. It's where Keystone XL's proposed route begins.

KI subsidiaries benefit from pipeline construction. Tar sands oil development is on Koch Exploration Canada land. Koch Supply and Trading benefits from oil derivatives activities.

KI donated millions lobbying for Keystone XL's construction. Supportive think tanks and congressional members are beneficiaries.

Charles and David's influence is pernicious and then some. They want unfettered freedom replacing civil society restraints. They want information about their activities suppressed.

They want unchallenged control. They want nothing interfering with generating maximum revenues.

They donate millions annually to right wing causes. On March 27, the Center for Public Integrity (CPI) headlined "Inside the Koch brothers' campus crusade."

It spans America. It philosophizes about the "moral imperatives of free markets and individual liberty."

It's proselytizing goes way beyond Capitol Hill. It focuses on winning hearts and minds of college students. 

It manipulates their minds destructively. It does so at 163 colleges and universities. They're in 41 states and the District of Columbia. Many are left of center. Some have liberal faculty members.

Koch Brothers want students turned against them. They want their vision taught in classrooms. They claim otherwise. So do recipient schools.

Funds aren't donated strings-free. Agenda politics comes with them.

Americans for Prosperity (AFP) advocates entrepreneurship freedom. It abhors regulatory restraint. It wants minimal taxes. 

It wants "encroachment of government in the economic lives of citizens" halted. It wants nothing restricting what business wants to do.

It fronts for Koch Industries. In 2004, David Koch and KI board member Richard Fink were co-founders. AFP targets progressive initiatives. Millions are spent doing it. Funding surges in election years.

AFP's agenda is corporatist, soulless, anti-labor, anti-eco-sanity, and anti-fairness. It's against consumer protections. It abhors populism. It wants corporate crooks kept free from prosecution.

It's pro-business, pro-war, pro-privilege, pro-super-wealth, anti-dissent, anti-democracy, anti-civil and human rights, and anti-government of, by and for everyone equitably and fairly.

Charles Lewis serves as American University School of Community Investigative Reporting Workshop's executive director. Earlier he founded CPI.

"The Kochs are on a whole different level," he said earlier. There's no one else who has spent this much money." 

"The sheer dimension of it is what sets them apart. They have a pattern of lawbreaking, political manipulation, and obfuscation." 

"I've been in Washington since Watergate, and I've never seen anything like it. They are the Standard Oil of our times."

Their lobbying expenses rank among America's highest. They go all-out to have their interests served.

Ideally they want their message alone getting out. They pressure employees to support candidates they endorse.

They warn them about dire consequences otherwise. Their jobs are on the line. They'll pay for disobedience.

What Charles and David say goes. They represent dual noxious influences. They're more dangerous than corrupt politicians in positions of power.

They wield their own irresponsibly. Super-wealth lets them do what they want. They take full advantage.

For every dollar spent, they expect huge returns. They take no prisoners. They're all take and no give.

They oppose labeling carcinogens found in their products. They want them freely used. 

They're mindless about potential harm to millions. Profits alone matter. People are expendable. Their welfare is unimportant. Business priorities count most of all.

Tony Carrk is Center for American Progress Health Care War Room director. In April 2011, he headlined "The Koch Brothers: What You Need to Know About the Financiers of the Radical Right," saying:

"Any attempt to understand the modern conservative movement will eventually lead to billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch." 

"Using their vast wealth and connections, the Koch brothers are key players in bankrolling right-wing political action groups, think tanks, and individual politicians, using this array of political power to advance their ideological agenda of limited government and less regulation." 

"Chances are they are part of any recent right-wing attack you have seen lately."

Charles and David use their vast wealth, business empire, and "political network to pursue their right-wing agenda at nearly every level of government. "

"Whether they are contributing millions in campaign contributions, spending millions on lobbying, or investing millions in right-wing think tank and advocacy groups, the Koch brothers’ influence is pervasive."

Their extreme right wing agenda benefits them at the expense of popular interests. They want them eliminated altogether. 

They want unfettered freedom to invest, speculate, trade and accumulate maximum wealth unrestrained. They want nothing interfering in their right to do so.

Anti-government fervor was a Koch brothers opportunity. They helped organize and fund Tea Party protesters. They turned their private agenda into a mass movement.

They took full advantage shaping and controlling an anti-big government uprising. They turned it into serving their personal interests. 

They got millions of ordinary people to support what harms their own welfare. They got supportive right-wing media help. 

Talk show hosts, commentators, and other media figures joined the movement. The New York Times earlier called it "a diffuse American grassroots group that taps into anti-government sentiment."

It's well-organized. It's controlled top down. It's a combination of loosely affiliated organizations. They're ideologically anti-big government, anti-spending, anti-immigration, and anti-compromise.

They're organized, funded and controlled by right-wing corporate lobbying groups. They're manipulated to support business interests. 

Companies like KI benefit enormously. It denies involvement disingenuously. Its communications director said earlier:

"Koch companies value free speech and believe it is good to have more Americans engaged in key policy issues."

"(N)o funding has been provided by Koch companies, the Koch foundations, Charles Koch or David Koch specifically to support the tea parties." 

Their activities declined significantly since 2010. According to Professor Theda Skocpol, chapters dropped from about 1,000 to 600.

It's still a "very good survival rate," she said. Most groups shifted from national to local issues.

Doing so affected their visibility. Chapters place more emphasis on getting preferred candidates elected than pubic events.

Involvement in 2012 Republican presidential primaries was minimal. Perhaps lack of enthusiasm for unimpressive candidates was responsible.

After Mitt Romney chose Paul Ryan as his running mate, The New York Times called Tea Party lawmakers "indisputably at the core of the modern Republican Party."

Koch brothers influence is very much involved. They bankroll Tea Party candidates. They do so with company and personal contributions.

They're a pernicious influence on US politics. What benefits them harms most others.

They're not going away. Their financial clout hugely influences US policies. Americans get the best democracy money can buy.

A Final Comment

Wall Street Journal editors gave Charles Koch feature op-ed space. On April 2, he headlined "I'm Fighting to Restore a Free Society."

What he has in mind isn't fit to live in. He lied claiming his vision would "create greater well-being and opportunity for all Americans."

He means super-rich ones like himself at the expense of all others. He claims to oppose big government.

He wants federal, state and local politicians as well as bureaucrats benefitting him. He wants government resources helping his interests.

He wants social America destroyed. He ludicrously claimed he's not "trying to rig the system."

Millions spent lobbying buy influence. They're not used for good will. They're investments. Effective ones reap huge returns. 

They go right to KI's bottom line. They fill Charles and David's pockets. They come out of ours.

His notion of "liberty" is more for him and less for us. Everyone should embrace his "vision," he urges.

America already is unfit to live in. Imagine one run his way. Orwell put it this way:

"If you want a vision of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face - forever."

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at [email protected]global.net. 

His new book is titled "Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity."

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanII.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs. 


http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour

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Koch Brothers’ Petcoke Piling Up in Chicago

A pile of petcoke sits next to the Calumet River in Chicago. (Photo: Josh Mogerman/cc/flickr)The tar sands refining by-product petroleum coke, known as petcoke, gained attention earlier this year when piles of the toxic substance stored along Detroit's riverfront were mounding up and causing high-carbon, high-sulfur clouds to blanket neighborhoods.

Now toxic mounds of the substance are piling up in Chicago, specifically on the city's southeast side along the Calumet River.

Like the ones in Detroit, Chicago's black piles of petcoke are thanks to the Alberta tar sands and the Koch Brothers, and local residents are sounding the alarm about the coal-like substance's health and environmental impacts.

As Oil Change International explains,

Petcoke is a refining byproduct of tar sands oil, and when burned is substantially dirtier than coal and contributes significantly to greenhouse gas pollution.

The petcoke starts off in a BP refining facility in Whiting, Indiana. Then, the Chicago Tribune reports,

All of the petcoke from Whiting eventually is sent by train, truck or barge to sites on Chicago's Southeast Side owned by KCBX Terminals. The company is controlled by Charles and David Koch, wealthy conservative industrialists who back groups that challenge the science behind climate change and oppose many environmental regulations.

Last year, KCBX bought the larger of the two sites — between 108th and 111th streets on the east side of the Calumet River — from a subsidiary of Detroit-based DTE Energy. As part of the deal, the company obtained exclusive rights to store petcoke from the nearby BP refinery. The other storage site is across the river just south of 100th Street.

The problem is likely to get worse, as BP has plans to triple the amount stored in the city by the end of the year.

Kari Lydersen reports in Midwest Energy News:

Locals say the amount of petcoke has skyrocketed as BP Whiting’s refinery just across the border in Indiana nears completion of a $3.8 billion upgrade to process more tar sands oil. Still in the works is the refinery’s new coker, which will be the second largest in the world and process 102,000 barrels of oil per day, creating petcoke as the tar sands are heated to 900 degrees F.

“It’s growing by leaps and bounds,” said Southeast Environmental Task Force member Tom Shepherd, gazing at the piles from the 106th Street bridge on a recent afternoon. “It’s coming at a breathtaking rate.”

It's not just the locals' perception. The Chicago Tribune continues:

The amount of petcoke generated by Whiting and other U.S. refineries has steadily increased during the past decade as the industry processes more Canadian oil that is thicker and dirtier than many other grades.

BP will produce more than 2.2 million tons of petcoke a year at Whiting, up from about 700,000 tons before the refinery was overhauled to process oil from the tar sands region of Alberta.

Writing in NRDC's Switchboard blog, Henry Henderson asks:

Is this the vision Big Oil has for the cities of the Great Lakes? Is this the transformation that Chicago city officials have in mind when they talk about a revitalized river system and investments in our port—a step back to the worst messes of our town’s industrial past? Make no mistake, this is a problem. And it is one that will be growing quickly as region’s tar sands refinery expansion projects come online.

A report issued this summer from Oil Change International warned that because of the production of petcoke as a result of tar sands refining, the impact of the Keystone XL is much more disastrous for the planet than previously thought, putting a "strong nail in the coffin of any rational argument for the further exploitation of the tar sands."

WTTW has video, which includes shots of a recent dust storm that sent huge clouds of dust from the petcoke into the air:

___________________

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License

Koch Brothers’ Petcoke Piling Up in Chicago

A pile of petcoke sits next to the Calumet River in Chicago. (Photo: Josh Mogerman/cc/flickr)The tar sands refining by-product petroleum coke, known as petcoke, gained attention earlier this year when piles of the toxic substance stored along Detroit's riverfront were mounding up and causing high-carbon, high-sulfur clouds to blanket neighborhoods.

Now toxic mounds of the substance are piling up in Chicago, specifically on the city's southeast side along the Calumet River.

Like the ones in Detroit, Chicago's black piles of petcoke are thanks to the Alberta tar sands and the Koch Brothers, and local residents are sounding the alarm about the coal-like substance's health and environmental impacts.

As Oil Change International explains,

Petcoke is a refining byproduct of tar sands oil, and when burned is substantially dirtier than coal and contributes significantly to greenhouse gas pollution.

The petcoke starts off in a BP refining facility in Whiting, Indiana. Then, the Chicago Tribune reports,

All of the petcoke from Whiting eventually is sent by train, truck or barge to sites on Chicago's Southeast Side owned by KCBX Terminals. The company is controlled by Charles and David Koch, wealthy conservative industrialists who back groups that challenge the science behind climate change and oppose many environmental regulations.

Last year, KCBX bought the larger of the two sites — between 108th and 111th streets on the east side of the Calumet River — from a subsidiary of Detroit-based DTE Energy. As part of the deal, the company obtained exclusive rights to store petcoke from the nearby BP refinery. The other storage site is across the river just south of 100th Street.

The problem is likely to get worse, as BP has plans to triple the amount stored in the city by the end of the year.

Kari Lydersen reports in Midwest Energy News:

Locals say the amount of petcoke has skyrocketed as BP Whiting’s refinery just across the border in Indiana nears completion of a $3.8 billion upgrade to process more tar sands oil. Still in the works is the refinery’s new coker, which will be the second largest in the world and process 102,000 barrels of oil per day, creating petcoke as the tar sands are heated to 900 degrees F.

“It’s growing by leaps and bounds,” said Southeast Environmental Task Force member Tom Shepherd, gazing at the piles from the 106th Street bridge on a recent afternoon. “It’s coming at a breathtaking rate.”

It's not just the locals' perception. The Chicago Tribune continues:

The amount of petcoke generated by Whiting and other U.S. refineries has steadily increased during the past decade as the industry processes more Canadian oil that is thicker and dirtier than many other grades.

BP will produce more than 2.2 million tons of petcoke a year at Whiting, up from about 700,000 tons before the refinery was overhauled to process oil from the tar sands region of Alberta.

Writing in NRDC's Switchboard blog, Henry Henderson asks:

Is this the vision Big Oil has for the cities of the Great Lakes? Is this the transformation that Chicago city officials have in mind when they talk about a revitalized river system and investments in our port—a step back to the worst messes of our town’s industrial past? Make no mistake, this is a problem. And it is one that will be growing quickly as region’s tar sands refinery expansion projects come online.

A report issued this summer from Oil Change International warned that because of the production of petcoke as a result of tar sands refining, the impact of the Keystone XL is much more disastrous for the planet than previously thought, putting a "strong nail in the coffin of any rational argument for the further exploitation of the tar sands."

WTTW has video, which includes shots of a recent dust storm that sent huge clouds of dust from the petcoke into the air:

___________________

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Koch Brothers’ Petcoke Piling Up in Chicago

A pile of petcoke sits next to the Calumet River in Chicago. (Photo: Josh Mogerman/cc/flickr)The tar sands refining by-product petroleum coke, known as petcoke, gained attention earlier this year when piles of the toxic substance stored along Detroit's riverfront were mounding up and causing high-carbon, high-sulfur clouds to blanket neighborhoods.

Now toxic mounds of the substance are piling up in Chicago, specifically on the city's southeast side along the Calumet River.

Like the ones in Detroit, Chicago's black piles of petcoke are thanks to the Alberta tar sands and the Koch Brothers, and local residents are sounding the alarm about the coal-like substance's health and environmental impacts.

As Oil Change International explains,

Petcoke is a refining byproduct of tar sands oil, and when burned is substantially dirtier than coal and contributes significantly to greenhouse gas pollution.

The petcoke starts off in a BP refining facility in Whiting, Indiana. Then, the Chicago Tribune reports,

All of the petcoke from Whiting eventually is sent by train, truck or barge to sites on Chicago's Southeast Side owned by KCBX Terminals. The company is controlled by Charles and David Koch, wealthy conservative industrialists who back groups that challenge the science behind climate change and oppose many environmental regulations.

Last year, KCBX bought the larger of the two sites — between 108th and 111th streets on the east side of the Calumet River — from a subsidiary of Detroit-based DTE Energy. As part of the deal, the company obtained exclusive rights to store petcoke from the nearby BP refinery. The other storage site is across the river just south of 100th Street.

The problem is likely to get worse, as BP has plans to triple the amount stored in the city by the end of the year.

Kari Lydersen reports in Midwest Energy News:

Locals say the amount of petcoke has skyrocketed as BP Whiting’s refinery just across the border in Indiana nears completion of a $3.8 billion upgrade to process more tar sands oil. Still in the works is the refinery’s new coker, which will be the second largest in the world and process 102,000 barrels of oil per day, creating petcoke as the tar sands are heated to 900 degrees F.

“It’s growing by leaps and bounds,” said Southeast Environmental Task Force member Tom Shepherd, gazing at the piles from the 106th Street bridge on a recent afternoon. “It’s coming at a breathtaking rate.”

It's not just the locals' perception. The Chicago Tribune continues:

The amount of petcoke generated by Whiting and other U.S. refineries has steadily increased during the past decade as the industry processes more Canadian oil that is thicker and dirtier than many other grades.

BP will produce more than 2.2 million tons of petcoke a year at Whiting, up from about 700,000 tons before the refinery was overhauled to process oil from the tar sands region of Alberta.

Writing in NRDC's Switchboard blog, Henry Henderson asks:

Is this the vision Big Oil has for the cities of the Great Lakes? Is this the transformation that Chicago city officials have in mind when they talk about a revitalized river system and investments in our port—a step back to the worst messes of our town’s industrial past? Make no mistake, this is a problem. And it is one that will be growing quickly as region’s tar sands refinery expansion projects come online.

A report issued this summer from Oil Change International warned that because of the production of petcoke as a result of tar sands refining, the impact of the Keystone XL is much more disastrous for the planet than previously thought, putting a "strong nail in the coffin of any rational argument for the further exploitation of the tar sands."

WTTW has video, which includes shots of a recent dust storm that sent huge clouds of dust from the petcoke into the air:

___________________

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License

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Congressman Tim Griffin Accused of “Voter Caging,” Fronts XL Pipeline for Koch Brothers

Transcript PAUL JAY, SENIOR EDITOR, TRNN: Welcome to The Real News Network. I'm Paul Jay in Baltimore. And welcome to this edition of The Palast Report with Greg Palast, who's an investigative journalist. And he joins us now from New York City. Greg w...

Koch Brothers Driving Keystone XL Pipeline from Canada to Cut Out Venezuelan Oil

Context: As yet there are no context links for this item.

Bio

Greg Palast is a BBC investigative reporter and author of Vultures' Picnic. Palast turned his skills to journalism after two decades as a top investigator of corporate fraud. Palast directed the U.S. governmentʼs largest racketeering case in history– winning a $4.3 billion jury award. He also conducted the investigation of fraud charges in the Exxon Valdez grounding.

Transcript

PAUL JAY, SENIOR EDITOR, TRNN: Welcome to The Real News Network. I'm Paul Jay in Baltimore. And welcome to the first of what will be a regular series of interviews with Greg Palast called The Palast Report. He now joins us from New York City.

Greg is a BBC investigative reporter. He writes in The Nation and Vice magazine. He's the author of the New York Times bestseller The Best Democracy Money Can Buy, and latest book is Billionaires & Ballot Bandits.Thanks very much for joining us.GREG PALAST, JOURNALIST AND AUTHOR: Glad to be with you, Paul.JAY: So what are you working on this week?PALAST: Ooh. I've been kind of playing with this oozing black snake, this kind of viperous tube of sludge called the XL Keystone Pipeline. And so I've been investigating by kind of pushing myself through this sludge pipe and seeing what is stuck in the ooze. And what I have found here is a fascinating story of the pipeline, the Koch brothers. And the story took me all the way back to Venezuela and Hugo Chávez. So that's what I'm working on right now, this untold story of Chávez, the Koch brothers, and the XL.JAY: So connect these three big dots.PALAST: Three big dots. Okay. The XL pipeline, Keystone pipeline, is the proposed pipeline, extension of a pipeline that would take tar sands oil from Canada—what they do is they have, you know, big bulldozers that rip up the earth, they melt the dirt, they melt the sludge, and there's this heavy goo that's kind of like hot asphalt, which they want to move down to refineries, down to Houston, Texas. And my first question was: what? Why? You know, isn't Texas where oil comes from? In fact, that's our big oil-exporting state, is Texas. So why are we taking oil from Canada past the north, the northern interior of the U.S., where we can use heating oil? Why are we taking it down to Houston? [incompr.] to Newcastle to the Gulf coast. And the answer is: Koch. The Koch brothers are the owners of the big refineries, like the Flint Hills refinery, along the Gulf coast of Texas. And you have to understand, refineries, these kind of giant filth machines, are actually very sensitive instruments. They can't just suck up and refine any old oil and throw filth into the air; they're very specialized machines. And the Gulf coast refineries, especially those controlled by the Koch brothers in Flint Hills, can really only handle heavy crude oil. So the stuff that's in Texas itself, West Texas crude, which is light and sweet, it's good oil; it's not filled with a lot of crappy sulphur. That's no good for the Texas refineries. Rather, they need that heavy, gunky stuff which is ultrapolluting. So there is a controversy right now, and there will be a big demonstration against the XL Keystone pipeline on February 17 in Washington. And I wanted to know why we're taking oil from Canada across the entire United States to Texas. And, again, it's because the Kochs want it. Now, why do they want it? The answer is, right now they're getting their oil—the only place they can get lots of heavy crude oil—if you want heavy crude, you've got to get it from a heavy dude named Hugo Chávez, the president of Venezuela. And one thing about Chávez, who I've known for many years, is that he doesn't let go of his nation's oil on the cheap. He is a cornerstone of OPEC. And Venezuela's been selling heavy crude at a premium to the price paid in Texas, because it costs more to get heavy oil from Venezuela than it does to get light oil down the road from Texas. But they have no choice, the Koch brothers, but paying Hugo for his gunky oil.Now, on the other hand, the Canadians not only are selling for less than Texas oil—they're selling, as of today—if you check out this week's reports, about $33 a barrel less is the price of West Canada Sands (WCS) oil, as they call it, versus WTI, the West Texas Intermediate. So you're saving about $35 a barrel—$35 a barrel—if you can get the oil from Canada as opposed to Venezuela. So they've got to cut off Chávez and they've got to bring the oil in from Canada. And that's the reason why we are talking about endangering the most sensitive aquifers and important—that is, water sources in America—to have a pipe with the filthiest oil in the planet, the most polluting oil on the planet, to drag it all the way from Canada all the way down to Texas so that the Koch brothers at Flint Hills can make—their savings would be about $2 billion a year that the Koch brothers will make off our risking the aquifers across the United States.JAY: So is the Koch brothers' refinery—it was primarily built to deal with Venezuelan oil?PALAST: They bought it that way. So, see, in other words, the Koch brothers—I've been investigating the Koch brothers. If you read Billionaires & Ballot Bandits, my latest book, I have several chapters on the Koch brothers. I've been investigating these guys for 17 years. In fact, when I first wrote about them for The Guardian, I called them the richest guys you've never heard of. Now you've heard of them.But the way that they make their money is not by, you know, being entrepreneurs or good investors or job creators. Their entire operation, the two brothers Koch, Dave and Charles, each worth over $20 billion, they make their money on political plays. So they'll take Sunoco, which wasn't making any money from its refinery in Texas having to buy from Venezuela, they took over Flint Hills and figured, a-ha, we'll just do the political play. If we can use our political muscle to jam a pipeline through the guts of the United States down to Texas—you know, and most people would think that that's mad, taking tar oil from Canada and bringing it to the Texas, to the Gulf coast—we can make a killing. And by the way, they're making an extra killing. When the Republicans were talking about the XL Keystone pipeline making us energy-independent—first of all, that assumes, by the way, that Canada is a suburb of Seattle—.JAY: Well, there's some truth to that, but go on.PALAST: Yeah, I know. Some Canadians feel that it works that way. We're not energy-independent if it comes from Canada. But if it comes from Canada, let's assume that this is our buddies, because they'll give us the oil cheap, and that's what makes them our buddies.It also undermines Hugo Chávez. They have to undermine Chávez, which they want to do for geopolitical reasons.But then the oil will not be used in the United States. It will be refined mostly for gasoline that will be sold at a premium in the Caribbean. Remember, these refineries are in the Gulf coast. Selling it, then running that stuff back into New Jersey is not a moneymaker. The way you make the money is you sell gasoline in places that don't have the refining capacity and will pay a premium, like, you know, Jamaica, Santa Domingo. That's where your money's going to be made. So this is oil from Canada which will then go into the Koch refineries and sold into the Caribbean. And we are paying the price in two ways—one, the massive danger of a break in these pipelines, which happen all the time. And that would be disastrous, given the areas it's going across. And the second is that because it will now open up new fields in Canada, because it will now make more tar sands finds economic, 'cause they'll have a market for it, we're going to have a massive, massive, massive increase in global warming chemicals that will be thrown into the air by the process of both the drilling, the refining, and the ultimate use of this product, which is the absolutely filthiest, filthiest oil—.JAY: Yeah, I think that Canadian tar sands, I think, is number-one or close to number-one producer of carbon emissions in a single place on the planet.PALAST: Yeah. I mean, Alberta is basically one big—is becoming a big dirt smokestack.Now, Obama has not made a decision on this. That is, he was afraid to approve Keystone XL pipeline before the election because he knew he would be lynched by environmentalists and people of Kansas, Nebraska, where the pipeline comes down. But now that the election's over, look out. In fact, my money would be on Obama approving the Keystone XL. There is a tremendous amount of pressure from the Koch brothers and from other oil interests, plus it plays into the administration's game of a widescale attack on Hugo Cházez. And that, by the way, includes the choice of John Kerry, who started this week as our new secretary of state. Senator Ketchup is—remember, his fortune is based on marrying into Mrs. Ketchup, Mrs. Heinz, and Heinz has had a running battle with Venezuela because Heinz property was confiscated by Chávez's government in a land-reform move. So, you know, if your—those tomatoes going into those bottles have now—those plants, ketchup plants were taken over by the Chávez government for the workers there. And so John Kerry is a longtime Chávez hater.This administration has totally swallowed, repeated, and amplified the anti-Venezuelan propaganda and foreign policy of George Bush.JAY: Alright. Thanks very much, Greg. And Greg will be back in a couple of weeks to tell us what he's working on. Thanks for joining us. PALAST: You're very welcome, Paul.JAY: And thank you for joining us on The Real News Network.

End

DISCLAIMER: Please note that transcripts for The Real News Network are typed from a recording of the program. TRNN cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.


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Italian Bank Scandal Spreads To Other Banks: Berlusconi Big Winner

As we warned last week when the BMPS fraud story broke, this is highly likely to be the canary in the Italian banking system coalmine; and sure enough today, Reuters reports that: ITALIAN PROSECUTORS INVESTIGATING MONTE PASCHI, BNL, UNICREDIT, INTESA ...

Nonprofit Spends Big on Politics Despite IRS Limitation: American Future Fund Has Conservative Roots

Last fall, a cadre of wealthy business executives and conservative groups tried to sell California voters on new campaign finance reforms.

Couched in lofty rhetoric about the importance of cutting off money from special interests to politicians and other regulations favored by reformers, their proposal sought to ban the practice of using payroll deductions for political expenditures — a popular method of union fundraising.

Once alerted to the true nature of Proposition 32, the unions and political left rose up against it.

An innocuously named nonprofit, the Iowa-based American Future Fund, proved to be one of the biggest backers of the initiative, sinking more than $4 million into the ballot measure that voters ultimately rejected.

As a “social welfare” organization, the American Future Fund is not required to publicly disclose its donors. But to maintain its tax-exempt status under Sec. 501(c)(4) of the U.S. tax code, influencing elections cannot be its primary purpose.

The American Future Fund’s investment in California was part of a nationwide, political advertising spree in 2012 that exceeded $29 million, according to a Center for Public Integrity analysis of state and federal records.

That amount included more than $19 million on efforts designed to oust President Barack Obama, as well as millions more to oppose Democratic candidates for Congress and even two state attorneys general. Now the group is funding adsopposing Obama’s nomination of former Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska for defense secretary.

Since the U.S. Supreme Court’s controversial Citizens Uniteddecision in 2010, nonprofits such as the American Future Fund have played a more prominent role in electoral contests — all while giving their supporters the ability to keep their identities hidden. During the 2010 midterm elections, politically active nonprofits outspent super PACs, which exist to fund political advertisements, by a 3-to-2 margin.

The American Future Fund ranked third among “social welfare” nonprofits in spending in the 2012 federal election,according to the Center for Responsive Politics, trailing only the Karl Rove-affiliated Crossroads GPS and Americans for Prosperity, which is backed by conservative billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch.

There are also Democratic-aligned nonprofits, but their spending was well below that of their conservative counterparts. The top left-leaning nonprofit was the League of Conservation Voters, which reported spending about $11 million in the 2012 election opposing or supporting candidates.

The American Future Fund’s spending “raises some serious questions” and “evades any form of meaningful disclosure,” said Adam Rappaport, senior counsel with watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW).

Numerous officials with the American Future Fund did not respond to requests for comment for this story.

Advocating for ‘free-market ideas’

The American Future Fund’s mission is to “educate and advocate for conservative and free-market ideas,” according to its annual filing with the Internal Revenue Service.

Despite asserting that it isn’t primarily focused on elections, the nonprofit’s DNA is decidedly political.

Conservative political operative Nick Ryan, a longtime adviser to former GOP Rep. Jim Nussle of Iowa, founded it in 2007. Over the years, the group has paid Ryan’s firm, Concordia Enterprises, hundreds of thousands of dollars annually for consulting services.

In 2010, the New York Times reported that Iowa businessman Bruce Rastetter provided an unspecified amount of “seed money” for the organization. Ryan once represented four of Rastetter’s companies as a lobbyist, including Hawkeye Energy Holdings, one of the country’s largest ethanol producers.

The nonprofit’s first president was Nicole Schlinger, the former finance director of Iowa’s Republican Party. Its current president is veteran Republican state Sen. Sandra Greiner, who served for 14 years as the Iowa chairwoman of the pro-business American Legislative Exchange Council.

Ryan and Greiner did not respond to requests for comment.

In 2008, when the American Future Fund was seeking — and ultimately garnered — tax-exempt status from the IRS, it pledged to abstain from electoral politics, saying it would spend 70 percent of its time doing work to “educate the public on policy issues” and 30 percent engaging in efforts to “influence legislation through grassroots advocacy.”

When asked on its application if the group had any plans to spend money to “influence the selection, nomination, election or appointment” of anyone seeking public office, it answered “no.” It also vowed to stay out of the presidential race.

When the IRS subsequently inquired why the group’s advertisements “appear to be more partisan than nonpartisan,” the group’s attorney, Karen Blackistone, wrote that the efforts were “strictly issued-based and nonpartisan.”

The group takes a position on issues and encourages the public to contact their representative, she wrote in a 2008 response to the IRS.

“AFF’s advertisements have never commented on a candidate’s character, qualifications or fitness for office,” she stated.

Big money tied to post office box

The American Future Fund has raised more than $60 million, with spikes in contributions coming in election years.

Much of that money has come from another conservative “social welfare” nonprofit that doesn’t disclose its donors by name — the Arizona-based Center to Protect Patient Rights.

The nonprofit has no website and lists its address as a post office box in Phoenix. It was launched in 2009 by Republican operative Sean Noble, who has extensive ties to the vast political network underwritten by the Koch brothers.

Noble, a former chief of staff for former Rep. John Shadegg, R-Ariz., did not respond to requests for comment for this story.

For three years running, Noble’s organization has reported making substantial grants to the American Future Fund for “general support,” according to IRS filings. The nonprofit contributed more than $14 million to the American Future Fund between 2009 and 2011, or 51 percent of funds the group raised over the three-year period.

The Center to Protect Patient Rights has also given millions of dollars to a network of conservative groups, including the Koch-backed nonprofit Americans for Prosperity, as was first reported by the Center for Responsive Politics.

In addition to Noble, there is another Koch connection.

In 2008, Trent Sebits, the former manager of public and government affairs for the Kochs’ Wichita-based refining giant, Koch Industries, registered with the state of Kansas to lobby on behalf of the American Future Fund and Americans for Prosperity. Sebits did not respond to a request for comment.

The American Justice Partnership, another “social welfare” nonprofit, gave $50,000 to the American Future Fund in 2011 and $2.4 million in 2010, according to IRS filings. The group supports free enterprise and is often at odds with trial lawyers.

Dan Pero, its president, said in an emailed statement that the organization supported the American Future Fund to help “promote free enterprise and improve the fairness and predictability of the legal environment.”

Like super PACs, “social welfare” nonprofits are allowed to accept unlimited donations from individuals, corporations, unions and other organizations. The only funders whose names they are required to publicly disclose are those that make contributions earmarked for political purposes.

That’s as it should be, according to attorney Dan Backer, who is not affiliated the American Future Fund but does work with other conservative groups.

“A nonprofit makes its decisions by a board or other management structure, which is distinct from its donors,” Backer said.

Increasingly political

In 2010, the American Future Fund became far more politically active, reporting $8.6 million in political expenditures as well as millions more for “media services,” “telecommunications” and “mail service/production.” It told the Federal Election Commission that it spent $9.1 million on political advertisements.

Marcus Owens, former chief of the IRS’s nonprofits division, said it is “difficult to conjure up a situation where a particular expenditure would be reportable to the FEC but would not constitute political campaign intervention under tax law.”

Nevertheless, Owens said the organization could make a “straight-faced argument” that its orientation had simply changed over time to become more overtly political.

Of the $25 million that the American Future Fund reported spending to the FEC last year, more than 90 percent fueled ads that urged voters to support or reject candidates.

The group also sought the FEC’s advice on whether mentioning the White House or “the administration” in negative ads ahead of Election Day would be seen as referring to a “clearly identified candidate for federal office.”

Such a designation would have required the group to disclose information about its donors. (The commission deadlocked, 3-3, in a vote along party lines.)

In addition to the presidential race, the American Future Fund spent money in 20 congressional elections in 2012, including California’s 26th Congressional District, where it spent $500,000 attacking Democrat Julia Brownley, who, as a state legislator, had authored legislation to bolster disclosure for political advertisements.

She won anyway, but told the Center for Public Integrity that she is “deeply concerned” about the activities of non-disclosing groups in the wake of Citizens United and hopes to “take immediate action” to strengthen federal disclosure laws.

The American Future Fund also spent more than $542,000 to aid West Virginia Republican Patrick Morrisey in his successful quest to win the race for attorney general, records indicate, and more than $620,000 in a failed effort to sink Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster, a Democrat.

Complaints about the American Future Fund’s political activities have followed it since its creation.

In 2008, the Democratic Party in Minnesota contended that the group needed to register as a political committee after paying for ads that praised then-U.S. Sen. Norm Coleman, R-Minn. The FEC disagreed.

Two years later, in October 2010, consumer group Public Citizen and two other organizations alleged that the American Future Fund’s “huge expenditures” to aid candidates in the midterm election should have triggered requirements that the group register as a political committee and disclose its donors. That complaint is still being considered by the FEC, which often takes years to fully resolve such matters.

CREW, the watchdog organization, filed a complaint against the American Future Fund with the IRS in February 2011 that challenged whether its primary purpose was something other than influencing elections. The group has dismissed the complaint as “baseless” and contends that CREW “only targets government officials and organizations who have a differing or conservative point of view.

Will The Super Goldman Mario Brothers Succeed In Covering Up The Latest Italian Bailout...

"And the hits just keep on coming."

It was about a week ago when Bloomberg reported that the world's oldest bank, Sienna's Banca Monte dei Paschi (BMPS) had masked a massive (for its size) loss courtesy of a Deutsche Bank-facilitated derivative transaction dubbed "Project Santoini." The trade, which led to a $2 billion loan from Deutsche Bank in December 2008, helped Monte Paschi mitigate a €367 loss from an older derivative contract with Deutsche Bank. As part of the arrangement, the Italian lender made a losing bet on the value of the country’s government bonds: one wonders if DB made BMPS buy some of its Italian holdings because, as is well-known, it was about this time that the German bank was getting uber bearish on all the periphery (for more on the details of the derivative read here).

This was the first time anyone in the general public had head about "Project Santorini."

Not surprisingly "Santorini" did not help the firm and in a few months later, the firm sought a €1.9 billion bailout from the Italian government - the first of many. Then in 2012, the bank requested more bailout funds after it became the only bank to fail the minimum capital requirement set by European regulators. CEO Fabrizio Viola, 55, requested an additional 500 million euros, bringing the total cost of the bailout to 3.9 billion euros, after the lender said in November that structured financings linked to government securities had soured. It is likely that yet another bailout of BMPS is imminent.

Then yesterday, as we reported, that BMPS had engaged in yet another previously undisclosed derivative trade named "Alexandria", this time with Nomura whose impact we immediately unclear but one which would result in an earnings hit of €220 million. However, while previously BMPS tried to get off the hook and put the blame on Deutsche, in this case Nomura said the bank's Chairman, Giuseppe Mussari, had "fully reviews and approved" the trade.

This was the first time anyone in the general public had head about "Project Alexandria."

And the market finally took notice, maybe because of the news of two previously unknown and losing derivative deals with two separate banks, both of which had supposedly gotten the blessing of the regulator - the Bank of Italy - coming to light in under one week, or maybe because the abovementioned Mussari promptly quit his post as Italy's top banking lobbyist in the aftermath of the disclosures: in all ways analogous to the departure of the US assistant attorney general yesterday in the aftermath of the "Untouchables" Frontline episode. Because if there is a departure, there is fire.

The result: the stock plunged.

Today it's deja vu again, as the news keeps on coming, this time from Reuters, which reported that BMPS could face total losses as much as $1 billion on prior derivatives trades which have only recently been discovered. The shares promptly plunged, and BMPS was halted for trading minutes before the Italian market closed:

From Reuters:

the world's oldest bank has now said it is reviewing three loss-making structured trades related to its Italian sovereign bond holdings which only recently came to light and were negotiated by its previous management.

"Yes. The actualized shortfall is around that amount," the bank's chief executive Fabrizio Viola was quoted by daily newspaper Il Messaggero as saying when asked if 720 million euros was a certain loss rather than simply a maximum risk.

...

UBS said in a research note on Thursday it was including in its estimates a loss of 720 million euros on the derivative trades, pending more clarity, pushing the full-year expected loss to over 2 billion euros.

"Since the bank's statement spoke of an analysis exclusively of three products, the worry is there could be more and that's spooking the market," one analyst said, asking not to be named.

Viola, who has said the three products were never submitted to the bank's board, told Il Messaggero the management would now open every drawer in the bank for caution's sake. "But I think we're very close to completing the (clean-up) job," he said.

A spokesman for main shareholder Fondazione Monte dei Paschi di Siena told Reuters it did not exclude taking legal action depending on the outcome of analyses under way.

The bank said on Wednesday that 500 million euros requested in extra state aid in November would be enough to absorb a hit on its capital from the structured trades, which were linked to its massive 24 billion-euro Italian government bond portfolio.

Naturally, the implication is that after 4 years of endless bailouts and "recovery", nobody has any clue still just what is on Europe's bank balance sheets. And the further implication is that if BMPS was doing it, everyone else was, of course, doing it, and much more dirty laundry is soon set to be uncovered, especially since the Italian banking business puts simple incest to shame:

The central bank also said the new management, headed by Chairman Alessandro Profumo, had produced documents that had previously been hidden.

Profumo, former CEO at Italy's biggest bank UniCredit, took up his new role at Monte Paschi last April in place of Giuseppe Mussari while Viola took over as CEO in February from Antonio Vigni.

Mussari stepped down as head of Italy's banking association late on Tuesday, although he has denied any wrongdoing.

"You'll have to ask them (the old management). I can only make suppositions. And I prefer to keep them to myself," Viola told Il Messaggero when asked why the Bank of Italy had not been informed.

On Thursday, Italy's Treasury minister Vittorio Grilli said there was no sign that other Italian lenders could face problems similar to those at Monte Paschi.

"It's an isolated case and I don't see any reputational risk for other Italian banks which are much more solid than foreign banks as regards their exposure to derivative," said Giovanni Fiori, professor of accounting and business at Rome's LUISS Guido Carli university.

Of course there will be more "cases" - to assume this is isolated is the height of stupidity and naivete, but what else is an Italian minister to do to preserve the precarious stability attained after months of endless bluster from the ECB that Europe is "fine" -why pull a Juncker and lie of course.

But not even that is the biggest issue. Because should the BMPS dirty laundry be truly exposed for all to see, then the stench will go far. Very far. As far as Frankfurt and the ECB headquarters, because as we first explained yesterday, the person who may well be held accountable for BMPS' endless transgressions is none other than ECB head, and former Goldmanite, and prior head of the Bank of Italy: Mario Draghi.

Recall from Yesterday:

Bank Of Italy Throws The Book At Monte Paschi For "Hiding Derivative Documents"

As we reported previously, the stock of the oldest bank in the world, Italy's venerable Banca Monte Dei Paschi of Siena, was halted in early trade after plunging on news that the bank had engaged in not only the previously reported secret derivative transaction with Deustche Bank to hide losses before a prior government bailout, but yet another derivative transaction, this time with Nomura, signed three years ago and whose intention, ironically, was to reduce 2012 earnings by some €220 million.

What the ultimate purpose of these deals was is still unclear and will likely become apparent eventually, however it will likely require the former Chairman of the bank, Giuseppe Mussari, who served as Chair from 2006 until April 2012, and who officially quit his post as Italy's top banking lobbyist after today's revelations, to testify. One person whom he may testify against is none other than current ECB head Mario Draghi, who just happened to be the head of the Bank of Italy from 2006 to 2011, or the entire period when Monte Paschi was engaging in what increasingly appears to have been fraudulent activity.

But don't worry: just like in the US, nobody of signfiicance is about to go down for this "glitch" which is about to be blamed on some poor mid-level shmuck, and which nobody in the senior level management had any idea about, and certainly not the person who ultimately would have had to give the green light: the current head of the ECB. Sure enough from Bloomberg:

  • BANK OF ITALY SAYS MONTE PASCHI HID DOCUMENTS ON TRANSACTIONS

It was all Fabrice Tourre's fault. Or better, yet: an algo did it!

More:

  • BANK OF ITALY SAYS NEW BMPS MGMT DISCLOSED INFO ON DEALS
  • BANK OF ITALY SAYS NEW BMPS MGMT COOPERATING WITH AUTHORITIES
  • BANK OF ITALY SAYS ALSO MAGISTRATES REVIEWING TRANSACTIONS

Would it be the same magistrates who are also reviewing Berlusconi for "alleged" sex with minors?

* * *

Sure enough not even 24 hours later, Mario Monti, speaking in Davos, said something that immedately confirmed just what is at issue here:

  • ITALY'S MONTI SAYS NO OVERSIGHT FAILURE ON PASCHI

Translation, it was not the Bank of Italy's fault, and that of its then-head, Mario Drahi, that it failed in supervising the iconic Sienna bank. Because, you see, it is all the evil management's fault. The same "management" whose Chairman just happened to be head of the entire Italian banking lobby. Until yesterday.

And another, less politically correct translation: a (super) Goldman brother is helping another (super) Goldman brother out before the reporters figure out just what happened.

Naturally, since justice no longer exists in a Ponzi empire doomed to less than beautiful deleveraging, there will be no heads rolling over this matter besides those that already have, however one wonders: if Mario Draghi allowed such glaring unreported transactions, whose significance nobody grasped or know about at the time, and whose impact is only now being appreciated, to happen under his nose while in Italy, just what has been happening now that he is head of the biggest central bank in the world?

The other question: if and when BMPS fails, and its shareholders sue the Bank of Italy, will they also sue the man who presided over the Bank of Italy from 2006 until 2011?

And if Monte Paschi is the canary in the 2013 Italian bailout coalmine, who will be next: first in Italy, and then all over Europe?

Because once the other cockroaches, to take literary freedom with mixing and matching metaphors, are exposed - what will happen to all those sworn vows that Europe is now, finally, fixed, uttered most recently by none other than the Super Goldman Mario brothers?

Your rating: None Average: 5 (8 votes)

“Fire in the Blood”: Millions Die in Africa After Big Pharma Blocks Imports of...

AMY GOODMAN: We're broadcasting from the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah. We had an extended break because we lost a link with the satellite. And I want to thank Jennifer Robinson for having joined us, a legal adviser to Julian Assange. As we turn now to another film about what some have described as the crime of the century. The new documentary, Fire in the Blood, explores how major pharmaceutical companies, including Pfizer and GlaxoSmithKline, as well as the United States, prevented tens of millions of people in the developing world from receiving affordable generic AIDS drugs. Millions died as a result. This is a part of the trailer of Fire in the Blood.

DR. PETER MUGYENYI: Over two million people were reported to have died in that year alone.

YUSUF HAMIED: The whole of Africa was being taken for a ride.

BILL CLINTON: It's fine for people in rich countries to say this is what it ought to be. They don't have to live in these little villages and watch people die like flies.

DR. PETER MUGYENYI: Where are the drugs? The drugs are where the disease is not.

DONALD McNEIL: "You fight our patent monopolies, we will make sure you die."

NELSON MANDELA: As long as drugs are not available to everybody, he will not take them.

JAMES LOVE: It was just kind of a crisis of humanity. People just weren't really human for a moment.

AMY GOODMAN: That's an excerpt of Fire in the Blood, the film tracing how Big Pharma refused to allow countries to break patents and allow for the importation of cheap generic AIDS drugs. The problem continues today, as the World Trade Organization continues to block the importation of generic drugs in many countries because of a trade deal known as the TRIPS Agreement. Fire in the Blood just had its North American premiere here at the Sundance Film Festival.

For more, we're joined by two guests: Dylan Mohan Gray, director of Fire in the Blood, based in Mumbai, India, and Dr. Peter Mugyenyi, a Ugandan AIDS doctor featured in the film, recognized as one of the world's foremost specialists and researchers in the field of HIV/AIDS. He played a key role in founding Uganda's HIV/AIDS Joint Clinical Research Centre, and is author of a new book, Genocide by Denial: How Profiteering from HIV/AIDS Killed Millions.

We welcome you both to Democracy Now! Dylan, let's begin with you, why you made this film.

DYLAN MOHAN GRAY: Well, basically, I think the story sort of came to me by accident, to be honest. I was working on a film in Sri Lanka in 2004, and I had a day off and just happened to read an article in The Economist, of all things, which—it struck me as very interesting, because it was about one of the characters in our film, Dr. Yusuf Hamied, who's an Indian generic drug maker, and it was talking about how he was bringing in low-cost antiretroviral medications to Africa. Yet it seemed something interesting was going on beneath the surface. It seemed like this was obviously, you know, to my mind, a very good thing that he was doing, but they were going out of their way, I felt, to attack him, but it wasn't clear why. So, it piqued my interest. And, you know, not long later, I had the opportunity to meet Dr. Hamied. And through him, I met several of the other people that became contributors to the film.

And I used to be in the academic world, and, you know, the historian in me was just completely shocked and scandalized that, A, I didn't know more about the story, and, B, that there was so little written about it or, you know, there were no comprehensive accounts of what had happened—you know, something that had killed 10, 12 million people, and it seemed to have happened almost without a record. So, you know, the impetus to make the film, primarily, was actually to create a record, a memorial and a chronicle of what happened. And as you say, I mean, we consider this to be the crime of the century.

AMY GOODMAN: Dr. Mugyenyi is featured in the film. And it's an honor to have you here with us—

DR. PETER MUGYENYI: Thank you.

AMY GOODMAN: —before you head back home to Uganda, where you had been imprisoned, jailed, as you tried to bring generic drugs into Uganda, to get these drugs at a cheaper amount. Explain what Dr. Hamied did, this—I mean, what Cipla, the head of Cipla did, this drug company, how he challenged the rest of the world in saying he would cut the prices of AIDS drugs from—what was it? The amount that people would have to pay for the triple cocktail, before and after Hamied?

DR. PETER MUGYENYI: Well, there was a misinformation, worldwide misinformation, that AIDS drugs were too expensive to manufacture. The second misinformation that was there was that Africans would not be able to use these drugs, that it was impossible to use these drugs in the African condition. Dr. Hamied called the bluff of all of those who were propagating this false information that cost so many lives of people.

AMY GOODMAN: How?

DR. PETER MUGYENYI: Well, he just literally announced that it is not true that these drugs can only be manufactured at such an exorbitant cost. He demonstrated that they could be demonstrated at relatively affordable cost, which would save millions of lives because of affordability. So it was the issue of affordability and access where Hamied came in and acted.

AMY GOODMAN: So before him, drug companies were charging like $15,000 for a year for one patient to get a triple cocktail for the year. And he cut that price to less than a dollar a day? $15,000 to $350 for the year?

DR. PETER MUGYENYI: Yes, and that action was incredible. For the first time, millions of people who were dying stopped dying in Africa, because they started accessing life-saving drugs.

AMY GOODMAN: Why did you end up in jail in Uganda?

DR. PETER MUGYENYI: Well, it was—I was arrested, but I was rescued because Uganda government was concerned about the plight of the citizens who were dying in such a big number. So an emergency meeting that rescued me from arrest took place in front of the government ministers, and at that meeting I made it clear: I said to the meeting that, "Look, your relatives are dying of AIDS. Your citizens are dying of AIDS. I'm a doctor working among the AIDS patients, and I have no tools to save my patients' lives. All I have done is to import affordable drugs, which will increase access. These drugs are at the airport. They are under your care. You can block them from coming in, but as far as I'm concerned, I have done my job of bringing life-saving drugs to Uganda." And I think they understood. And every one of them had relatives who were suffering from AIDS, or at least a friend whom they knew who had died from AIDS. And so, this was—it was not very difficult to convince them that this action was necessary, and I needed to be out saving lives with drugs instead of being arrested.

AMY GOODMAN: Another of the heroes in the fight to bring life-saving drugs to HIV/AIDS patients is Zackie Achmat of South Africa's Treatment Action Campaign. In 1999, Achmat, who is HIV-positive, went on a treatment strike in solidarity with others who couldn't afford medication. He's featured in Fire in the Blood.

ZAKIE ACHMAT: If my sisters or brothers or cousins had HIV or had AIDS and needed medicines, they wouldn't have been able to get it. And I grew up in a house where your mom would say, "If all the kids can't have chocolate, one is not going to have it."

NARRATOR: Having made up his mind, Zackie Achmat announced that he would boycott antiretrovirals until the South African government made them available to everyone.

AMY GOODMAN: Dylan Mohan Gray, talk about the significance of Zackie Achmat and what the whole issue of patents is about in these U.S. companies.

DYLAN MOHAN GRAY: Well, Zackie Achmat, as you said, is one of the great heroes of this story. And I think the boycott that he undertook, very much with a sort of a Gandhian impetus in mind, you know, it was a very deliberate action that he took. And as he says in the film, you know, he grew up in a family where his mother said, if one child couldn't have chocolate, then none of the children were going to get it. And that's a very simple way of looking at it, but that's something I think we can all identify with. He grew up, you know, struggling against apartheid in South Africa, a very strong sense of solidarity with his fellow man. And, you know, he could easily have accessed the drugs, because he was an internationally known activist, but he said, "No, I'm not going to do it." And he came very close to death by taking that decision. And I think, you know, it had a very, very big impact on waking people, especially in the Western world, up to the reality of the situation in sub-Saharan Africa. So, you know, the gamble paid off, so to speak.

AMY GOODMAN: Say that last part.

DYLAN MOHAN GRAY: I said the gamble paid off. I feel like his gamble that he took—I mean, he risked his life—but in a sense, the gamble paid off, because the impact of what he did, you know, had repercussions throughout the world and woke a lot of people up to the situation of access to medicine in Africa.

AMY GOODMAN: Explain how the patents work.

DYLAN MOHAN GRAY: A patent is a government-granted monopoly or a grant of exclusivity which is given to companies, generally, or individuals, with the idea that by giving a period of the exclusivity, one would incentivize investment. So, what typically happens with pharmaceutical companies is they will purchase technology from others, whether it be universities or small biotech companies or other small innovative outfits, and they will then commercialize these products. And because they will have a monopoly for a period of time, usually a minimum of 20 years, they will be able to set the price at any level they wish. And we have the former vice president of Pfizer in our film, who says very openly the concept is to maximize revenue. It has nothing to do with the cost of research and development.

AMY GOODMAN: Dr. Mugyenyi, what needs to happen right now, in these last 30 seconds?

DR. PETER MUGYENYI: Well, what needs to happen is the realization that an inequitable, unethical situation exists with the related TRIPS Agreement, and that lives, millions of lives, are at stake unless this TRIPS Agreement and patents issue are addressed—not to hurt business, but to make sure that they do not hurt patients and result in a bloodbath, that we have seen in the case of HIV/AIDS.

AMY GOODMAN: I want to thank you both very much for being with us, Dr. Peter Mugyenyi from Uganda and Dylan Mohan Gray, director of the new film that has just premiered here at the Sundance Film Festival, Fire in the Blood.

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Are Biotech Corporations Promoting ‘Genetically Modified Marijuana’ in Uruguay?

Timothy Alexander Guzman, Silent Crow News – The first country to defy the ‘War on Drugs’ by legalizing marijuana is Uruguay. It was described as a revolutionary act against the prohibition of a plant that is used by millions worldwide under the former Marxist guerilla and political prisoner who is now the President of Uruguay Jose Mujica. Seems like the Mujica government is allowing Monsanto, Syngenta and Dupont among others to operate in Uruguay and harvest marijuana through their GMO-based seeds.  Details of how the new marijuana laws will operate by monitoring the population through a database that would collect fingerprints and other parts of your body to assure you are using government controlled “Genetically Modified Marijuana”.

Last December the Associated Press reported on Uruguay’s decision to move forward to experiment on legalized marijuana to undermine illegal drug trafficking and crime in an article titled ‘From Seed to Smoke, Uruguay Testing Legalized Pot.’ The report stated what the Mujica government’s intentions were concerning the legalization of marijuana:

President Jose Mujica’s goal is to drive drug traffickers out of the dope business and reduce consumption by creating a safe, legal and transparent environment in which the state closely monitors every aspect of marijuana use, from seed to smoke. That means designing and maintaining an industry that is small, contained and profitable. Congress only approved Mujica’s grand “experiment” in broad strokes.  

The fine print must strike a delicate balance on issues including what strength to allow for marijuana, what price to charge, who can farm it, how to crack down on illegal growers, how to persuade users to buy from the state instead of a dealer, and how to monitor use without being seen as Big Brother. If the rules are too lenient, or too strict, the whole project could fail

The report also quoted Uruguayan Senator Lucia Topolansk (President Mujica’s wife) when she said that “the state would provide cloned seeds whose plants can be traced.” It should not surprise anyone, especially those who understand what corporations such as Monsanto are trying to achieve on a global scale. Mainstream media outlet CNBC reported in 2010 that “most large agribusiness producers and distributors wouldn’t comment on any marijuana cultivation plans while it’s still largely illegal.” Now, Uruguay is fair game since they passed legislation to legalize marijuana. Although they did say that “seed and agri-chemical maker Monsanto isn’t focused on it, says spokesman Darren Wallis, adding that even if that changed tomorrow, development of a mass-scale crop takes time.” Yes, it does take time to produce. CNBC also did say that “other big food and agricultural firms would not comment, saying the proposition was too hypothetical or inappropriate given the largely illegal current status of the drug.” Well, it is not hypothetical anymore since Uruguay passed laws to legalize marijuana cultivation and use. It is now a reality for biotech corporations to move forward with genetic manipulation of the crop because now they have an incentive to dominate the marijuana industry starting with Uruguay.  An interesting analysis by www.cannabisculture.com titled ‘Manipulating Marijuana: Monsanto and Syngenta Invest in RNA Interference Technology’ by Tracy Giesz-Ramsay on Monsanto and Syngenta’s investments in RNA Interference (RNAi) technology and what it means for the production of Marijuana in the future. Giesz-Ramsey wrote the following:

Having been cultivated and used ceremonially, recreationally and medicinally for thousands of years, cannabis – despite prohibitive laws surrounding the non-medicinal use of the plant – is undoubtedly on the radar of big agribusiness.

These companies would certainly turn a profit from developing a patentable transgenic seed for sole distribution if the use of cannabis were to become legal. It would be easy for these companies to create a monopoly over the industry by abusing their ties with federal regulators. This has all been a point of much debate within the cannabis community for many years. 

With this in mind, it’s fair to say that one of the only positives of marijuana prohibition, with the art of breeding, growing and distributing cannabis heavily underground for most of its commercial history, the Big 6 seed and chemical companies have not been able to dominate the industry with their patented technologies. 

The trouble: things may change soon. Monsanto, Syngenta, BASF, Bayer, Dow and DuPont have, until recently, largely focused their energy on monopolizing the food industry, but some have developed a keen interest in this still-illegal plant as well. 

The biggest concern with cannabis and GM control now remains. While they gain a monopoly over medical marijuana, the challenge of governments who continue to wage the ostensible “War on Drugs” is being taken on by some of the Big 6. Monsanto and Syngenta are currently investing millions of dollars into a new GM technology called RNA interference. 

RNAi, as it’s also known, is a method where the RNA – which is the code from a plant or animal’s DNA that tells its proteins how to organize in order to create, say, what colour the plant will be – is interfered with. In RNAi, double-stranded RNA is inserted so that this original code is obstructed; so that the pigmentation instructions don’t make it to the proteins 

As we already know about Monsanto’s GMO seeds, they are genetically modified plants that are resistant to chemical herbicides such as “Round-Up.” The herbicides kill other plants, allowing genetically altered plants to resist the herbicide and be planted closer together than traditional crops normally used by farmers. It apparently allows farmers to gain more from crop production on their farmland than ever before. The seeds are known as “Round-Up Ready.” Farmers are required to purchase the GMO-laced seeds every season once they agree to use the product. Uruguay is falling into a danger zone when it comes to planting GMO seeds in the agricultural-rich country. It can affect natural food crops in the long-run as Monsanto and other agri-businesses would eventually expand into other areas of food production.

With Uruguay’s decision to allow multi-national biotech corporations to operate on its lands, it also opens the door to a police state monitoring its citizens who will use “cloned” marijuana as reported by RT news earlier this month in a report titled “Uruguay rolls out marijuana legal sale details.” It described Uruguay’s methods:

Police will be able to carry out on-the-spot checks to make sure drivers are not under the influence while behind the wheel. Companies and trade unions will also be permitted to carry out random checks to make sure employees are not stoned, particularly while undergoing risky or dangerous work.

The strains of the drug will also be limited to five, which will be allowed a maximum THC level of 15 percent. Each bag of marijuana will be barcoded and radio-frequency tagged, which will allow authorities to determine its origin and legality.

People who buy pot in pharmacies will be identified by fingerprint readers to preserve their anonymity, but their consumption of the drug will be tracked on a government database.

This will allow police to test for illegal weed when they come across it, and arrest anyone possessing marijuana without the proper tracers

Uruguay’s control over all facets of the new marijuana industry with a national database does seem “Orwellian” as it borders on fascism for the fear that legalizing marijuana can lead to higher drug use among the population.  It is understandable, but imposing a police state to control drug-use and crime is not an answer to the war on drugs.  However, not collecting taxes on marijuana is a good start.  Uruguay has also approved a law that will exempt marijuana producers and sales of the crop from taxes that would undermine marijuana illegally imported from other countries such as Paraguay. Reuters reported on Uruguay’s tax policy regarding the issue of legalized marijuana when it said that “The principal objective is not tax collection. Everything has to be geared toward undercutting the black market,” said Felix Abadi, a contractor who is developing Uruguay’s marijuana tax structure. “So we have to make sure the price is low.” Which is true in a sense, since a high risk of incarceration increases the price of marijuana. Uruguay’s new law will also issue licenses to farmers to produce cannabis according to Reuters “Uruguay will auction up to six licenses to produce cannabis legally in the next weeks. The government is also considering growing marijuana on a plot of land controlled by the military to avoid illegal trafficking of the crop.”

Mujica met with US President Barack Obama earlier this month after his government released the details of the new marijuana law to discuss stronger relations between both countries. Obama welcomed President Mujica when he said:

President Mujica personally has extraordinary credibility when it comes to issues of democracy and human rights given his strong values and personal history, and is a leader on these issues throughout the hemisphere. And we share an interest in strengthening further the people-to-people bonds between our two countries, particularly around the issues of science, technology and education

Uruguayan President Mujica’s response:

We have been looking toward everywhere, but towards ourselves a bit also. And from the humbleness of my little Uruguay, my people, who are there amongst an enormous area of fertile and much water, come here to seek out knowledge and research in all groups of the biological sciences, particularly in land that require local research, because the continent must produce much food for the world. And besides, this is the most advanced country in the world for biological sciences, but we don’t want to merely send students out because they get married — and the American corporations pay more money, so we lose these qualified people. We have to bring teachers so then can come, but we need to make arrangements so that they can continue to contribute to Social Security here. Wisdom must be looked for there where it is

President Mujica has called for ‘normalized relations’ between Cuba and the US to end the embargo and has supported South American leaders such as Bolivian President Evo Morales during the time when the US and EU forced Morales’s plane to land in Vienna to search for NSA whistle blower Edward Snowden.  “We are not colonies any more,” Uruguay’s president, Jose Mujica, said. “We deserve respect, and when one of our governments is insulted we feel the insult throughout Latin America” according to the Guardian.  In many ways President Mujica is a revolutionary against Western imperialism.  But allowing GMO crops in Uruguay is a step in the wrong direction although he probably does believe that allowing GMO’s would actually feed the world.  Maybe he is misinformed, which I do believe is the case, after all he believes that smoking marijuana is an “addiction.”   However, I do believe he does mean well.   President Mujica should reconsider using any form of Genetic Modified crops that is dangerous to humans no matter what he thinks about marijuana use.  Hopefully he will create a committee to re-evaluate proven research on the effects of GMO’s.  Biotech Corporations just want to exploit Uruguay’s lands as an experiment.  Let’s hope the Mujica government will make a U-turn away from corporate dominance.       

Irresponsible China Bashing

Irresponsible China Bashing

by Stephen Lendman

China bashing reflects official US policy. Washington does it numerous ways. 

It's reprehensible. It's confrontational. It's potentially belligerent. Rogue states operate this way.

No nation spies on more nations than America. None more intrusively. None more aggressively. None more lawlessly.

None for more reasons. None in more ways. None more duplicitous about it. None more involved in cybercrime. More on this below.

China is a major US economic, political and military rival. Washington wants it marginalized, weakened and isolated.

It wants its sovereign independence eliminated. It want pro-Western puppet governance replacing it.

It wants its resources plundered. It wants its people exploited. Bashing China risks open conflict. So does pursuing America's overall imperial objectives.

On May 19, Washington declared unprecedented cyberwar on China. 

The Justice Department headlined "US Charges Five Chinese Military Hackers for Cyber Espionage Against US Corporations and a Labor Organization for Commercial Advantage"

"First Time Criminal Charges Are Filed Against Known State Actors for Hacking"

A federal grand jury indicted five Chinese Peoples Liberation Army officials. Doing so was unprecedented. It was provocative. 

Individuals charged didn't matter. Washington confronted the People's Republic of China directly. It did so by targeting its military.

Charges include "computer hacking, economic espionage and other offenses directed at six American victims in US nuclear power, metals and solar products industries."

They allege conspiracy "to hack into American entities, to maintain unauthorized access to their computers and to steal information from those entities that would be useful to their competitors in China, including state-owned enterprises (SOEs)."

Attorney General Eric Holder claimed "economic espionage by members of the Chinese military and represents the first ever charges against a state actor for this type of hacking."

"The range of trade secrets and other sensitive business information stolen in this case is significant and demands an aggressive response," he said.

FBI Director James Comey claimed "(f)or too long, the Chinese government has blatantly sought to use cyber espionage to obtain economic advantage for its state-owned industries."

Assistant Attorney General for National Security John Carlin said:

"State actors engaged in cyber espionage for economic advantage are not immune from the law just because they hack under the shadow of their country’s flag."

Third Department Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) Unit 61398 officials named include Wang Dong, Sun Kailiang, Wen Xinyu, Huang Zhenyu, and Gu Chunhui.

Alleged companies targeted include Westinghouse, SolarWorld subsidiaries, US Steel, Allegheny Technologies, Alcoa, "the United Steel, Paper and Forestry, Rubber, Manufacturing, Energy, (and) Allied Industrial and Service Workers International Union (USW)."

Charges include:

  • One count of "conspiring to commit computer fraud and abuse."

  • Eight counts of "accessing (or attempting to access) a protected computer without authorization to obtain information for the purpose of commercial advantage and private financial gain."

  • Fourteen counts of "transmitting a program, information, code, or command with the intent to cause damage to protected computers."

  • Six counts of "aggravated identify theft."

  • One count of "economic espionage."

  • One count of "trade secret theft."

Xinhua is China's official press agency. It's a ministry-level department. It provides electronic and print news and information.

On May 20, it headlined "China strongly opposes US indictment against Chinese military personnel," saying:

"China lodged protests with the US side following the announcement, urging the U.S. side to immediately correct its mistake and withdraw the indictment."

"(T)he position of the Chinese government on cyber security is consistent and clear-cut. China is steadfast in upholding cyber security." 

"The Chinese government, the Chinese military and their relevant personnel have never engaged or participated in cyber theft of trade secrets." 

"The US accusation against Chinese personnel is groundless with ulterior motives."

Evidence shows "terminals of Chinese military access to the internet have suffered from great number of foreign cyber attacks in recent years, and a considerable number of such attacks originated from the United States."

"China demands that the US side explain its cyber theft, eavesdropping and surveillance activities against China and immediately stop such activities."

America is "the biggest attacker of China's cyber space."

US attacks "infiltrate and tap Chinese networks belonging to governments, institutions, enterprises, universities and major communication backbone networks." 

"Those activities target Chinese leaders, ordinary citizens and anyone with a mobile phone."

Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said:

"This US move, which is based on fabricated facts, grossly violates the basic norms governing international relations and jeopardizes China-U.S. cooperation and mutual trust."

Nine or more major online companies cooperate with lawless NSA spying. Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, Facebook, Apple, Skype, YouTube and others are involved.

They do so through NSA's Prism. It gains access to search histories, emails, file transfers and live chats. 

It's gotten directly from US provider servers. Doing so facilitates mass surveillance. NSA spies globally. Its activities reveal rogue agency lawlessness.

NSA targets China intensively. It lawlessly hacks its computer and telecommunications networks. 

It focuses on strategically important information. It does so through its ultra-secret China hacking group.

It conducts cyber-espionage. Huang Chengquing is Beijing's top Internet official. China has "mountains of data," he said.

It reveals widespread US hacking. It's designed to steal government secrets. NSA's Tailored Access Operations (TAO) in involved.

It's ultra-secret. Most NSA personnel and officials know little or nothing about it. Only those with a need to know have full access.

TAO operations are extraordinarily sensitive. They penetrate Chinese computer and telecommunications systems.

They've done so for nearly 16 years. They generate reliable intelligence. They learn what's ongoing in China.

They obtain what Washington most wants to know. It's done by surreptitious hacking.

It cracks passwords. It penetrates computer security systems. It decrypts successfully. It steals hard drive data.

In October 2012, Obama authorized cyber-attacks. He did so by secret presidential directive.

His Offensive Cyber Effects Operations (OCEO) "offer(s) unique and unconventional capabilities to advance US national objectives around the world with little or no warning to the adversary or target and with potential effects ranging from subtle to severely damaging."

Washington "identif(ies) potential targets of national importance where OCEO can offer a favorable balance of effectiveness and risk as compared with other instruments of national power."

Domestic spying works the same way. Anything goes defines policy. Constitutional protections don't matter. Or US statute laws. Or international ones. Or relations with other nations.

Washington rules alone apply. TAO's mandate is penetrating, destroying, damaging, or otherwise compromising targeted sites.

It's the largest, most important NSA Signal Intelligence (SIGINT) Directorate component.

Well over 1,000 military and civilian computer hackers, intelligence analysts, targeting specialists, computer hardware and software designers, and electrical engineers are involved.

Their job is identifying sensitive computer systems and supporting telecommunications networks. Their mandate is penetrating them successfully.

They exceed the capability of other US intelligence gathering agencies. Their activities expand exponentially.

China knows what's going on. So do Russia and other nations. They're acutely aware of NSA activities. They knows the threat. They take appropriate countermeasures.

Cyber-attacks constitute war by other means. Doing so compromises freedom. It risks confrontation. It threatens world peace.

It doesn't matter. America operates solely for its own self-interest. For control. For economic advantage.

For being one up on foreign competitors. For information used advantageously in trade, political, and military relations. NSA's get it all mandate explains.

June 5 is a landmark date. It marks the first anniversary of Edward Snowden revelations. He connected important dots for millions.

He revealed lawless NSA spying. He did so in great detail. He's the gift that keeps on giving. 

Western nations collaborate irresponsibly. They do so with major corporations. Privacy no longer exists. 

There's no place to hide. Big Brother watches everyone. Spying goes way beyond protecting national security.

All electronic communications can be monitored, collected and stored. Legal restraints are absent. 

Obama heads the most rogue administration in US history. He exceeds the worst of his predecessors. Congress and American courts permit the impermissible. 

Mass US surveillance is standard practice. It's global. It's all- embracing. It targets world leaders. It's after everything and everyone of possible interest.

No constraints exist. No standards. Rogue states operate this way. America is by far the worst.

Bashing China turns a blind eye to US high crimes. They're too egregious to ignore. 

America is a pariah state. It exceeds the worst in world history. It risks global confrontation. Stopping it matters most. 

It bears repeating what previous articles stressed. Today is the most perilous time in world history. World peace hangs in the balance.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at [email protected] 

His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs. 


http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour 

Ukraine’s Fascist Roots

Ukraine's Fascist Roots

by Stephen Lendman

US-installed putschists are fascist extremists. Elevating them to power should scare everyone. 

Ukraine is the epicenter of European fascist reemergence. It's a freedom-destroying cancer. 

It threatens world peace. It risks global conflict. It doesn't surprise. Its roots are deep. 

Washington offers full support. It's longstanding. It dates from 1945. Svoboda and Right Sector parties are modern-day Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) heirs.

Its Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) leaders were Nazi collaborators. They fought with Hitler's Waffen SS Galician Division. 

Their forces massacred hundreds of thousands. Their hero was Stepan Bandera. He headed OUN-B. It terrorized Ukrainian and Polish Jews.

His legacy thrives in Ukraine today. His heirs openly display his OUN-B red and black flag. They enjoy full US support. 

Svoboda's slogan is "Ukraine for Ukrainians." Bandera said the same thing. He wanted Ukraine made ethnically pure. Mass extermination followed.

Svoboda earlier called itself Socialist-Nationalists. It bears erie resemblance to Hitler's National Socialism. It reflects fascism writ large.

Svoboda openly calls for "creat(ing) a truly Ukrainian Ukraine in the cities of the East and South."

"We will need to cancel parliamentarism, ban all political parties, nationalise the entire industry, all media, prohibit the importation of any literature to Ukraine from Russia."

"Completely replace the leaders of the civil service, education management, military (especially in the East)." 

"Physically liquidate all Russian-speaking intellectuals and all Ukrainophobes (fast, without a trial shot. Registering Ukrainophobes can be done here by any member of Svoboda)." 

"Execute all members of the anti-Ukrainian political parties."  

Svoboda straightaway abolished Russian-speaker minority rights. It targets Jews, ethnic Russians and opposition elements. 

Its manifesto calls for "carry(ing) out a broad public discussion about the meaning of Ukrainian pluralism for the future of Europe, Russia and the world."

Its aim is undermining Russian Eurasian influence. It wants fundamental freedoms destroyed. It wants hardline rule replacing it. 

Democracy is strictly verboten. Hooliganism is longstanding  strategy. Unrestrained violence reflects it. Opposition elements are targeted for elimination.

Post-WW II, Washington began cooperating with Ukrainian fascists. OUN-B leader Mykola Lebed (1909 - 1998) openly collaborated with Nazis.

He was responsible for massive Volhynia and Eastern Galicia Polish ethnic cleansing.

In 1949, he emigrated to America. He did so with CIA/State Department help. 

He lived in New York. His CIA-funded Prolog Research Corporation spied on Soviet Russia.

In his book titled "The OUN, the UPA and the Holocaust: A Study in the Manufacturing of Historical Myths," Per Rudling said:

"During the early Cold War, extreme nationalism and fascism were retooled and employed by Western intelligence services in the struggle against the USSR." 

"One CIA analyst argued that 'some form of nationalist feeling continues to exist (in Ukraine)…"

"There is an obligation to support it as a cold war weapon."

According to Rudling, CIA and State Department officials collaborated with OUN members. 

They sponsored them. They brought them to America. They shielded them from war crimes prosecutions.

They helped them gain "positions of of influence and authority, assisting their creation of semi-academic institutions and/or academic positions at established universities," said Rudling.

They whitewashed their WW II crimes. They transformed them into Ukrainian heroes. 

During Viktor Yushchenko's illegitimate Orange Revolution presidency, institutes of memory management and myth-making were established.

They buried information about OUN/UPA atrocities. 

According to Rudling, "(u)nlike many other former Soviet republics, the Ukrainian government did not need to develop new national myths from scratch, but imported ready concepts developed in the Ukrainian diaspora."

Washington calls OUN/UPA and its modern-day heirs "nationalists." It buries their fascist roots. It ignores their criminal past.

Rudling was clear and unequivocal saying:

"The OUN shared the fascist attributes of antiliberalism, anticonservatism, and anticommunism, an armed party, totalitarianism, anti-Semitism, Führerprinzip, and the adoption of fascist greetings." 

"Its leaders eagerly emphasized to Hitler and Ribbentrop that they shared the Nazi Weltanschauung and a commitment to a fascist New Europe."

Racial/ethnic purity was a core ideological element. It remains so today. Washington's alliance with hard right extremist groups is longstanding.

Political analyst Caleb Maupin said decades before European fascism, Ku Klux Klan elements were state-sponsored in former slave-holding states.

It wasn't the only fascist organization Washington embraced, said Maupin. Post-WW I, American Legion leaders were openly fascist.

So were prominent US industrialists like Henry Ford. Fascism thrives in today's America. It reflects its dark side.

It emerged post-WW I. At the time, Western civilization was called decadent and destructive. It was in decline, critics said.

In his book titled, "The Decline of the West," Oswald Spengler said "liberalism, democracy, socialism (and) free-masonry" weakened it. Fascism alone could save it, he claimed.

In his essay titled, "Fascism: Doctrine and Institutions," Mussolini said, "Fascism denies, in democracy, the absurd conventional untruth of political equality dressed out in the garb of collective responsibility."

He called it Marxism's "complete opposite." In class struggle for social progress and justice, he added. 

"Fascism should more appropriately be called Corporatism because it is a merger of State and corporate power," he stressed.

His definition applies now. Corporatism's alliance with political Washington reflects his ideology. It built for decades. 

It's deeply entrenched. It reflects Washington's bipartisan agenda. Its criminal class runs things.

Huey Long once said fascism will arrive "wrapped in an American flag." In his book titled, "Friendly Fascism," Bertram Gross called Ronald Reagan its prototype ruler.

He described a slow, powerful "drift toward greater concentration of power and wealth in a repressive Big Business-Big Government." 

It reflects a Big Brother alliance. It leads "toward a new and subtly manipulative form of corporatist serfdom." Its friendly face conceals its dark side.

In the 1930s, George Seldes saw it coming. He worried about New Deal policies eroding. 

In his 1934 book titled, "Iron, Blood and Profits," he discussed a "world-wide munitions racket." 

He cited WW I militarists. He named weapons makers in Europe and America.

He called them "merchants of death." They promote "imperialism (and) colonization - by means of war." 

"(T)he healthfulness of the business depends on slaughter. The more wars," the more profits.

His 1943 book titled "Facts and Fascism" explained "Fascism on the Home Front" in Part One. It's called "The Big Money and the Big Profits in Fascism."

In Parts Two and Three, he discussed "Native Fascist Forces" in industry and his day's media. It was a shadow of today's propaganda machine.

Print and radio's early days alone existed. Television was years away.

In his 1935 novel titled, "It Can't Happen Here," Sinclair Lewis saw fascism coming in hard times. 

It'll be led by a charismatic leader, he said. A self-styled reformer/populist champion. A con man exploiting human misery.

He recounted Merzelium "Buzz" Windrip's rise to power. His promise to restore prosperity equitably was duplicitous. His alliance with corporatist interests and religious ideologues remained hidden.

He capitalized on hard times. He instituted militarism. He established unconstitutional governance. 

He convened military tribunals. He did so for civilians and nonbelievers. He called them traitors.

He solidified hardline rule. He institutionalized tyranny. He put political enemies in concentration camps. 

He created Minute Men paramilitaries. They terrorized opposition elements.

He destroyed democracy. He abolished constitutional freedoms. He declared martial law. 

He usurped dictatorial powers. He circumvented Congress. He made himself supreme ruler.

Lewis said it can happen here. Today it's institutionalized. It rules America. 

It runs Ukraine. Svoboda and Right Sector parties have enormous power.

Their members hold key ministerial positions. Previous articles discussed Obama's new friends. They include a rogue's gallery of societal misfits.

They're militant fascists. They're thugs. They're criminals.

They're illegitimate putschists. They're xenophobic, hate-mongering, ultranationalist anti-Semites. 

Combined they represent mob rule. They make mafia bosses look saintly by comparison.

For the first time since WW II, overt fascists have real power in Europe. They hold major government posts.

In December 2012, European parliamentarians expressed concern about "rising nationalistic sentiment in Ukraine."

They called Svoboda members "racist, anti-Semitic and xenophobic." They're polar opposite "EU's fundamental values," the added.

They "appeal(ed) to pro-democratic parties in (Ukraine's legislature) not to associate with, endorse, or form coalitions with" these elements.

That was then. This is now. EU officials openly support what they condemned. They do so unapologetically.

They march in lockstep with Washington hardliners. They mock democratic values they claim to support.

Olexander Turchynov serves as illegitimate president/parliament speaker. He's a political opportunist.

He's Ukrainian armed forces commander-in-chief. He's Batkivshchyna/All-Ukrainian Union/Fatherland party deputy chairman.

Arseniy Yatsenyuk serves as Ukraine's illegitimate prime minister. He's super-rich.

He's a former central banker/economy/foreign minister/ parliament (Verkhovna Rada) speaker.

He's a Batkivshchya/All-Ukrainian Union (Fatherland) leader. He sold out for greater wealth and power. 

He serves Washington, EU interests and Western bankers. Paying them comes first. Ukrainians bear the burden. 

Exploiting them irresponsibly is official policy. So is plundering Ukraine for profit. Selling its state enterprises at fire sale prices. 

Strip-mining its state resources. Hollowing out its economy. Wrecking it entirely. 

Creating a protracted Greek-style Depression. Making ordinary people suffer most. Cracking down hard on nonbelievers.

Andriy Parubiy co-founded the ultranationalist neo-Nazi Social National party. It's now called Svoboda. He did so with Oleh Tyahnybok.

Right Sector hard right neo-Nazi hate-mongering anti-Semite Dmytro Yarosh is his deputy. He openly boasts about "...fighting Jews and Russians till I die."

He calls Russia Ukraine's "eternal enemy." He said war between both countries is inevitable.

Right Sector neo-Nazis are the worst of Ukrainian extremists. On May 2, they massacred 300 Odessan civilians in cold blood.

They did so inside Odessa's Trade Union House building. They hunted down survivors and murdered them. 

They're gun-toting, radicalized terrorists. Imagine them and likeminded scoundrels in charge of Ukraine's government.

Imagine Obama embracing them. They're cold-blooded killers. State terrorism defines their agenda. Elements opposing them are targeted for elimination.

Oleh Tyahnybok heads Svoboda. He's a force to be reckoned with. He reflects fascism writ large. He openly claims determination to crush "Russkie-Yid mafia" elements Ukraine.

Parubiy serves as Kiev's Secretary of National Security and Defense Council. He oversees Ukraine's Defense Ministry and armed forces. 

He directed months earlier Right Sector Maidan violence. Other Svoboda/Right Sector officials hold influential ministerial posts.

Obama's new friends are fascist extremists. Their agenda makes peace activists cringe. They threaten civil war. Regional conflict could follow. They risk spreading it globally.

Yatsenyuk vowed never to give up "a centimeter" of Ukraine to Russia. "This is our land," he said. "Our fathers and grandfathers have spilled their blood for this land." 

"And we won't budge a single centimeter from (it). Let Russia and its president know this."

Washington pledged full support. Obama pledged financial aid. Doing so violates US law. It doesn't matter. 

Parubiy wants all he can get. He wants "immediate US military aid," he said. On May 15, he got feature Wall Street Journal op-ed space requesting it.

He lied claiming "Putin's goal is to destroy the independent Ukrainian state…"

"(B)ecause it had the courage to choose a better future with Europe," he said.

He called UN Charter recognized self-determination "illegal." He said so regarding Crimea's legitimate reunification with Russia.

He turned truth on its head claiming Putin "stirr(ed) up separatist movements in multiple regions of Ukraine in the hope of annexing even more Ukrainian territory."

Ukraine "can't do everything on its own," he said. It's "a peaceful nation," he claimed.

It's waging war without mercy on its own people. Burying truth is longstanding fascist policy.

Parubiy want US military aid. He wants weapons, "modern equipment," and training. He wants all he can get. He enjoys Journal editorial support.

He and likeminded ideologues turned Ukraine into a fascist police state. It's an eastern cauldron of violence.

Paribiy deplores peace. He wants conflict escalated. He ludicrously claims Western military aid can "regain stability."

Enhancing Ukrainian might can "withstand Russia('s) (nonexistent) aggression." He wants powerful weapons supplied.

He wants "tools to defend our nation." He wants them despite no existing threat. He wants them for lawless aggression.

He wants eastern opposition elements crushed. He wants them slaughtered in cold blood. 

He wants Washington partnering with his crimes. He risks global conflict. 

He and likeminded ideologues may start WW III. Stopping them matters most.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at [email protected] 

His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs. 


http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour 

Duplicitous Obama Civil Rights Hyperbole

Duplicitous Obama Civil Rights Hyperbole

by Stephen Lendman

Obama represents the worst of rogue governance. On April 10, he honored Lyndon Johnson. One war criminal paid tribute to another.

He spoke at his Austin-based Presidential Library and Museum. He did so commemorating the 50th anniversary of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

His words rang hollow. The New York Times called his speech "stirr(ing)." It stopped short of denouncing his duplicity. More on what he said below.

America's human and civil rights record is by far the world's worst. No other nation matches its lawlessness. None approach it.

It's by far the world's most unprincipled. It's responsible for virtually every crime imaginable and then some.

It's police state than democracy. It's more battleground than homeland.

Lawless FBI, CIA, NSA, FEMA, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Border Patrol, and other federal operatives work jointly with state and local authorities. 

They target fundamental freedoms. They harm their own people.

Anyone can be arrested, charged, prosecuted, and imprisoned for any reason or none at all. US citizens at home or abroad can be murdered. Obama can order them killed by presidential diktat.

Others can be arrested and detained. They can be held indefinitely. They can be thrown into military dungeons. They can be denied civil justice. They can be held uncharged.

Innocence is no defense. State terrorism is official policy at home and abroad. Police states operate this way. America is by far the world's worst.

Freedom, human rights, and other democratic values don't matter. Supporting right over wrong is hazardous. 

Challenging Washington's right to dominate globally risks persecution or death. America is unfit to live in. Things go from bad to worse.

Obama exceeds the worst of his predecessors. Rogue governance defines his agenda. Humanity may not survive on his watch.

On July 2, 1964, Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act into law. Officially it's called:

"An act to enforce the constitutional right to vote, to confer jurisdiction upon the district courts of the United States of America to provide injunctive relief against discrimination in public accommodations, to authorize the Attorney General to institute suits to protect constitutional rights in public facilities and public education, to extend the Commission on Civil Rights, to prevent discrimination in federally assisted programs, to establish a Commission on Equal Employment Opportunity, and for other purposes."

It was more feel good than do good. Objectives fell short of promise. They were more hype than reality. They weren't achieved. Things today are worse than ever in modern times.

On June 11, 1963, Jack Kennedy called for legislation "giving all Americans the right to be served in facilities which are open to the public…"

He included "hotels, restaurants, theaters, retail stores, and similar establishments." He urged "greater protection for the right to vote."

Segregationists kept legislation from being enacted. Bottling it up in committee works as intended.

Kennedy's November 22, 1963 assassination changed things. Johnson was a former Senate Majority Leader. He was a powerful mover and shaker.

He wielded bully pulpit power as president. He supported civil and voting rights legislation. On November 27, 1963, he told Congress:

"No memorial oration or eulogy could more eloquently honor President Kennedy's memory than the earliest possible passage of the civil rights bill for which he fought so long."

Enactment of legislation he sought followed. Designed to prohibit discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin fell woefully short.

Powers enacted were weak. They remain so. Equal protection under law is more fantasy than real. It's a figure of speech.

Millions of persons of color bear witness. Muslims in America at the wrong time know the sting of US injustice. They're persecuted for praying to the wrong God. Constitutional protections don't help.

Johnson's July 2, 1964 statement rang hollow. He called signing the Civil Rights act a "proud triumph."

"Americans of every race and color have died in battle to protect our freedom," he said. 

They died for imperial lawlessness. More than ever today. Johnson didn't explain. Nor presidents following him.

"Americans of every race and color have worked to build a nation of widening opportunities," he said. For America's rich, well-born and able alone. 

"Now our generation of Americans has been called on to continue the unending search for justice within our own borders," he added. 

It's selectively given. America has the best democracy money can buy.

"We believe that all men are created equal," said Johnson. "Yet many are denied equal treatment."

The vast majority do today. A select few benefit. They do so at the expense of all others.

"We believe that all men have certain unalienable rights," said Johnson. 

"Yet many Americans do not enjoy those rights." Overwhelming numbers enjoy few today. 

Freedom is an endangered species. It's disappearing in plain sight. Tyranny is on a fast track toward replacing it. International, constitutional and US statute laws don't matter.

Democracy is pure fantasy. A year after civil rights legislation passed, the Voting Rights Act followed. On August 6, 1965, Johnson signed it into law.

It nominally supports 15th Amendment protections. They prohibit federal or state governments from denying citizens voting rights based on "race, color, or previous condition of servitude."

On February 3, 1870, it was ratified. Fulfillment didn't follow promise. Nor from the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

US voting rights were constitutionally flawed by design. America's founders enfranchised adult white male property owners only.

Laborers were excluded. So were women. They were considered homemakers and child-bearers alone. Slaves were called property, not people. 

Native Americans, free Black men, apprentices, felons, and persons considered incompetent were denied.

From inception to today, US elections were never open, free and fair. Big money controls them. Electoral fraud is rife.

Things are pre-scripted. Voters have no say. Secrecy and back-room deals substitute for a free, fair and open process.

Candidates are pre-selected. Monied interests own them. Key outcomes are predetermined. America is a one-party state.

Republicans and Democrats are two sides of the same coin. Not a dime's worth of difference separates them.

Independent candidates are shut out. Media scoundrels ignore them. 

Issues mattering most are unaddressed. Horse race journalism and trivia substitute.

Millions of Americans are disenfranchised. Criminal records alone exclude many. Effort to suppress minority voters are rife.

Half of eligible voters opt out. They do so because interests they most care about go unaddressed. 

Because candidates from either party don't care. Because corporate-controlled touchscreen electronic voting machines are rigged.

They're programmed using secret software. They're easy to manipulate. They steal elections.

They provide no receipts. Excluding them prevents vetting. Opponents end up with voter choices. Losers are declared winners.

Partisan politics serves privileged elites. Democracy is pure illusion. It's a figure of speech. It bears repeating. Americans get the best one money can buy. 

Supreme Court rulings affirmed it. One dollar = one vote. Deep pockets cast many. It's the American way. It shams the right way.

Commemorating civil rights legislation ignores today's deplorable conditions. Duplicitous Obama rhetoric highlighted the disgraceful state of the nation. He called expressing them "a singular honor."

Doors "swung open for" him, he said. "That's why I'm standing here today," he added. 

"…I have lived out the promise of LBJ's efforts." He spoke at the end of a three-day summit. It commemorated civil rights law. Carter, Clinton and GW Bush spoke earlier. 

None connect to popular struggles. Jim Crow never touched their lives. Human and civil rights eroded on their watch. 

So did other fundamental freedoms. They did nothing to prevent it. They support wealth, power and privilege. Ordinary people don't count. People of color least of all.

Clinton signed the repressive 1996 Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act (AEDPA) into law. It violates constitutional protections. 

It compromises habeas rights. It limits judicial relief. It assured more capital punishment for innocent victims. 

Nearly always, people of color, Muslims, or others among society's most disadvantaged are affected.

Clinton lied calling AEDPA "an important step forward in the federal government's continuing efforts to combat terrorism."

Its enactment had nothing whatsoever to do with it. International or homegrown terrorism is a ruse.

Clinton said he requested legislation after Oklahoma City. On April 19, 1995, a massive explosion destroyed its downtown Murrah Federal Building.

It killed 168 people. Hundreds more were injured. A 16-block area was affected. Over 300 buildings were destroyed or damaged.

Elgin Air Force Base's Armament Wright Laboratory studied the incident. No single truck bomb caused it. 

Former director/explosives and ordnance expert/(Ret.) Brig. General Benton K. Partin was in charge. His report was damning. In part it said:

"Indeed, a careful examination of photographs showing the collapsed column bases reveal a failure mode produced by (internally installed) demolition charges and not by a blast from (a) truck bomb" as claimed.

Additional forensic evidence showed other devices were involved. Official reports suppressed what happened. 

Lies substituted for truth. It's longstanding US practice. So-called terror plots are state-sponsored. 9/11 is Exhibit A.

Bush administration police state laws followed. Civil and human rights were targeted. They were eviscerated.

Patriot Act legislation alone gutted Fifth and 14th Amendment due process rights.

First Amendment ones eroded. Anyone can be wrongfully accused. Prosecutions can claim membership in, association with or support for so-called "undesirable groups."

Fourth Amendment protections against illegal searches and seizures no longer exist. Unchecked surveillance was authorized.

Powers include accessing personal financial, medical and other records. So-called "sneak and peak" searchers are OK.

"Delayed notice" warrants were approved. Warrantless searches became standard practice.

So were roving wiretaps, email and text message tracking, as well as Internet and telecommunications monitoring.

Prosecutions include secret evidence withheld from defense counsel. It's officially OK. It's common police state practice.

Guilt by accusation follows. For the first time, so-called "domestic terrorism" became a federal crime.

Virtually none exists. Numerous innocent victims were charged. They languish unjustly in America's gulag. Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of other political prisoners do so.

Patriot Act legislation began things. Other harsh measures followed. Homeland Security is America's Gestapo. 

It operates ruthlessly. It does so extrajudicially. It targets innocent victims. It lies calling them terrorists.

Military commission legislation gutted civil protections. It grants extraordinary power to detain, interrogate, and prosecute alleged terrorists extrajudicially.

It legalized torture. Bush made it official US policy. It continues under Obama. He exceeded the worst of all his predecessors.

He presides over a repressive police state apparatus. Big Brother watches everyone. Mass surveillance is official US policy.

Fake war on terror persists. Rule of law principles don't matter. Nor democratic values. Human and civil liberty violations are rife.

Administration policies are the most secretive in US history. Whistleblowers are ruthlessly targeted. Exposing government lawlessness was criminalized.

So is protesting for fundamental constitutional rights. Tyranny is official US policy. Executive diktats can declare martial law. 

Constitutional law can be suspended. It can be abolished altogether. Federal troops can be deployed against ordinary people.

Peaceful protests are endangered. National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) legislation authorized indefinite detentions. 

Anyone can be held without charge or trial. Solely based on suspicions, baseless allegations or none at all is OK.

Presidents have unchecked authority to arrest, interrogate and indefinitely detain law-abiding citizens. They can target anyone they wish. They can do it extrajudicially.

No one is safe. Due process, civil protections, and judicial fairness don't apply. Abuse of power replaced them. Obama endorses them.

He mocks legitimacy. He governs lawlessly. His duplicitous civil right rhetoric rings hollow. His agenda bears witness to his lies.

'No one knew politics and no one loved legislating more than President Johnson," he said . 

"He was charming when he needed to be, ruthless when required."

"Those of us who've had the singular privilege to hold the office of the presidency know well that progress in this country can be hard and it can be slow, frustrating. And sometimes you're stymied." 

"You're reminded daily that in this great democracy, you are but a relay swimmer in the currents of history, bound by decisions of those who came before, reliant on the efforts of those who will follow to fully vindicate your vision." 

"But the presidency also affords a unique opportunity to bend those currents by shaping our laws and by shaping our debates, by working within the confines of the world as it is, but also by reimagining the world as it should be."

Obama's demagoguery wore thin long ago. Duplicity substitutes for truth. His deplorable record speaks for itself. He's a world class con man.

He's a war criminal multiple times over. He's a serial liar. He's a moral coward. Throughout is tenure, he waged war on freedom.

He's gone all-out to destroy it altogether. He deplores equity and justice for all. He's beholden solely to monied interests.

He supports wealth, power and privilege. He's mindless of popular needs. He trashed human and civil rights throughout his tenure.

He represents the worst of rogue governance. His agenda is state terrorism writ large. His worst crimes go unpunished. 

He's got nearly three more years left in office. Humanity may not survive his onslaught.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at [email protected] 

His new book is titled "Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity."

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanII.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs. 


http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour

Reviewing James Petras’ The Politics of Empire: The US, Israel and the Middle East...

Reviewing James Petras' The Politics of Empire: The US, Israel and the Middle East (Part I) 

by Stephen Lendman

It's Petras at his best. It's important reading. It covers vital topics. Petras tells readers what they need to know. His analysis is masterful. Below is an account of what he said.

Washington and Israel are longstanding imperial partners. Petras does some of the best analysis explaining it.

Overview: The State of the Empire

In the 1990s, imperial adventurism increased. Post-9/11, it accelerated. One war after another followed. They continue "unhampered by congressional or large-scale public opposition," said Petras.

At least so far. Popular opinion against Obama's Syria war postponed it. Resuming it could happen any time. Perhaps it's one major false flag attack away.

Other wars may follow. Iran's turn awaits. Ukraine's full-blown crisis and regime change aftermath happened largely beyond the timeline of Petras' book.

He's a valued contributor to a forthcoming Clarity Press (CP) account of Ukraine's crisis. It promises to be the definitive analysis of what happened, why it matters, and what may follow. Watch for CP's announced publishing date.

Zionists and militarists define their current imperial objectives as follows, says Petras:

"(1) destroying regimes and states (as well as their military, police and civil governing bureaucracies) which had opposed Israel’s annexation of Palestine; 

(2) deposing regimes which promoted independent nationalist policies, opposing or threatening the Gulf puppet monarchist regimes; and

(3) supporting anti-imperialist, secular or nationalist-Islamic movements around the world."

Resistance was greater than they thought. Washington's Afghan war is its longest in history. It shows no signs of ending.

Iraq and Libya remain cauldrons of violence. Obama's war on Syria enters its fourth year.

Israel's goal isn't creating "political vacuum(s)." It's devastating its enemies. What follows is someone else's problem.

Tel Aviv loves getting Washington to wage its wars. The one Israel most wants most is destroying Iran. Whether America will oblige remains to be seen.

US economic conditions were different earlier than now. Overreach makes US leaders pause before undertaking what may cause more harm than good.

At the same time, public opinion is tired of wars. Enormous sums spent waging them harm their well-being. 

A late 2013 Pew Research report confirms the gap between "elite and public opinion," says Petras.

"By a vast margin (52% to 38%), the public agree that the US 'should mind its own business internationally and let other countries get along the best they can on their own,' " he explained.

In 2002, a scant 30% opposed foreign entanglements. Times changed dramatically.

Over 80% of Americans oppose Washington's Afghan war. Heading toward 14 years is too much.

Large majorities want domestic issues addressed. They want current jobs protected. They want new ones created. They want better ones. They want living wages. They want government serving their interests equitably.

They despise Wall Street. They reject new imperial wars. Whether they'll stop is another matter entirely.

America is addicted to war. It's the national pastime. Policymakers  believe war is peace. Out-of-control imperialism reflects it.

At the same time, public antipathy to Obama's wars weakened his ability to wage new ones. Whether 9/11 2.0 can change things perhaps remains to be seen.

In 2001, public appetite for war was keener than now. "Intervention fatigue," says Petras, makes most Americans crave peace. 

They're tired of endless imperial adventurism. They're suffering under the weight of pursuing it. According to Petras, they began to:

"(1) prioritize their choice of places of engagement; 

(2) diversify their diplomatic, political and economic instruments of coercion; and 

(3) limit large-scale, long-term military intervention to regions where US strategic interests are involved."

Washington isn't going soft by any means. A new page wasn't turned. Making the world safe for war profiteers is still policy.

Fear is stoked. It's used to manufacture consent. It's much tougher than before. It doesn't stop imperial rampagers from trying. Lots more effort is required.

Large-scale ground invasions are avoided. "Proliferation of special forces" substitutes. So do an array of destabilizing policies.

Ukraine is Exhibit A. Around $5 billion was spent replacing democratic governance with ultranationalist fascist extremists.

It's pocket change compared to trillions spent on Afghanistan and Iraq. It's changing Kiev on the cheap. 

It doesn't always work. Wars remain a bottom line option. Libya is the optimal model. Shock and awe supplemented proxy ground forces. 

Plans perhaps intend similar tactics against Syria. Objectives remain the same. Petras identified "at least eleven major or minor conflicts today engaging US empire builders to a greater or lesser extent."

They include "Ukraine, Thailand, Honduras, China-Japan-South Korea, Iran-Gulf States/Israel, Syria, Venezuela, Palestine-Israel, Libya, Afghanistan and Egypt."

Obama is more selective in choosing new targets. He's only got so much money to spend.

Debt reduction curtails open checkbook warmaking. Special forces in over 120 countries do it on the cheap if needed. So do CIA elements operating virtually everywhere. 

China and Russia comprise Washington's bottom line targets. It's hard imagining planned war on either of them. 

Co-opting neighboring states substitutes. So does surrounding them with US military bases. Weakening and isolating them matters most. 

Perhaps regime change by a thousand cuts is policy. Strategy is longterm. Overreach may defeat Washington's agenda.

Perhaps China and Russia intend letting America overspend until bankruptcy. They've got their own problems to resolve at the same time. 

Unity between them with likeminded allies is their best defense. America makes more enemies than friends. It's influence is declining. 

China's star is rising. Russia hopes to ascend at the same time. How it weathers things over Ukraine remains to be seen. Whether America prevails is unclear.

The battle for Ukraine's soul continues. It's longterm. Russia drew a red line. It's defending its vital issues responsibly. Putin isn't rolling over for Washington. Nor should he.

Obama has a tiger by the tail. He's in bed with fascist extremists. They've got a mind of their own. He may have bitten off more than he can chew.

Putin's patience may best him. Public Ukrainian anger may defeat him. It's unclear how things will go. Knowing either way won't happen soon. Nor in other parts of the world. 

Even superpowers can't prevail everywhere, all the time. Eventually they learn. Some do the hard way. 

Obama's wars made America weaker. New ones may be counterproductive. Nothing will be resolved any time soon. Major struggles are longterm.

Modern day Spartas may succumb like earlier ones. Living by the sword usually means perishing the same way. America may spend itself to death. Hegemons risk overreaching and failing.

Obama "relied on a wider variety of interventions than (his) predecessor," said Petras. He subcontracted more to European allies. 

France took the lead in Africa. Washington wants Japan and South Korea bearing a greater Asian burden.

It's "part of the long-term US strategy to encircle and limit China’s economic expansion," said Petras. 

Middle East control and "undermining Iran" is prioritized. "The principal strategic weakness in US empire building policy lies in the absence of domestic support."

Zionist power remains the wild card. It's deeply embedded in Washington. Media support is overwhelming. So are powerful monied interests.

War is their national pastime. Aroused public opinion is the best defense against it. Revving it up now is needed more than ever.

The Obama Regime's Military Metaphysics Rejects Diplomatic Opportunities

Obama prioritizes belligerence over diplomacy. He never misses an opportunity to miss an opportunity to pursue peace. 

Replacing independent governments with subservient pro-Western ones is prioritized. Adversaries are ravaged and destroyed. Hegemons operate this way.

Opportunities for peace are spurned. Bullying takes precedence. Obama sacrificed a "Grand Bargain" with Iran to serve Israel.

Israeli "land-grabbing" overrode Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.
Destabilizing Venezuela is prioritized. Regime change matters more than normalized relations.

"Obama's Snowden caper revive(d) the Cold War," said Petras.
Obama's war on Syria rages. He's allied with perhaps uncontrollable death squad extremists.

Afghanistan is a bottomless pit of war. It could continue for another decade or two. Taliban fighters show no battle fatigue.

Containing China may end up a losing proposition. Lost US opportunities overall may not resurface. At least not in the short run.

"The world view of the Obama regime is one of mirror looking in an echo chamber," said Petras. "(I)t cannot visualize and accommodate the interests of rivals, competitors or adversaries, no matter how absolutely central they are to any meaningful compromise." 

"The give and take of real world politics is totally foreign to the world's Chosen People." They only know how to " 'seize power' and create military facts, even as they then spend a dozen years and billions of dollars and millions of lives in endless wars, bemoaning lost markets amidst serial diplomatic failures." 

"The epitaph for the Obama regime will read:

They fought the Wars.
They lost.
They turned friends
into enemies.
Who became
Friends of our enemies.
They stood alone, in splendid isolation,
And said it was their only choice."

The Decline of the US (and everyone else...) 

Post-9/11, America "suffered a series of military defeats, experienced economic decline, and now faces severe competition and the prospect of further military losses," said Petras.

Some analysts believe US decline began decades earlier. The greater it overreaches, the faster its political and economic advantage wane.

America makes more enemies than friends. It aims to isolate Russia, China and other independent states. It may end up shooting itself in the foot trying.

Latin American countries reject US aggressiveness. They overwhelmingly oppose efforts to oust Venezuela's government.

In late March, Organization of American States (OAS) members  refused to hear fascist legislator Maria Corina Machado discuss ongoing Washington manipulated violence.

She opposes democratic governance. She backed the aborted April 2002 coup against Hugo Chavez.

She's involved in instigating ongoing violence. Venezuelan National Assembly members want her investigated. 

They want her charged with treason and incitement to crime. She's provoking civil war, they said. She's a Washington favorite.

Washington lost Asian influence to China. At the same time, it forged closer military ties with Japan, the Philippines and Australia.

The same holds in other areas. Empires don't fade easily. At the same time, they don't last forever. 

In the end, they all die. America won't be an exception. None existed earlier.

Washington stands "totally alone" against Cuba, says Petras. OAS nations are "no longer a US haven."

At the same time, reports of US imperial decline are "overstated…(T)here is no alternative imperial or modern anti-imperial tendency on the immediate horizon," Petras explains.

Longer-term tells a different story. The 21st century began as America's. It may end as China's.

Cyber-Imperialism: The Logic Behind Mass Spying: Empire and Cyber Imperialism

Edward Snowden revelations about NSA spying connected important dots for millions. He's a gift that keeps on giving.

He explained what everyone needs to know. Doing so "provoked widespread protests and indignation and threatened ties between erstwhile imperial allies," said Petras.

Obama presides over a homeland police state apparatus. "One of (its) essential components (is) an all-pervasive spy apparatus operating independently of any legal or constitutional constraints," he explained.

Big Brother watches everyone. Claims otherwise don't wash. Electronic and telecommunications surveillance is sweeping. 

It's pervasive. It targets everyone of potential interest. It operates globally. It's a power unto itself. It's unaccountable.

As technology advances, it promises worse ahead. No one can escape its spying eye. It monitors world leaders. It cracks encryption protections.

It listens to phone calls. It monitors emails and text messages. It accesses financial and medical records. 

It conducts espionage to get a leg up on foreign competitors. It does so with electronic ease.

Huge stakes are involved. Empires need to do more to hold on to what they have. They want their power enhanced. 

They want total unchallenged control. They want what's not easy to get.

The " 'Global War on Terror" (GWOT), became an open-ended formula for the civilian warlords, militarists and Zionists to expand the scope and duration of overt and covert warfare and espionage," said Petras.

It "provided the ideological framework for a police state based on the totalitarian conception that 'everybody and everything is connected to each other' in a 'global system' threatening the state." 

"This 'totalistic view' informs the logic of the expanded NSA, linking enemies, adversaries, competitors and allies."

A Big Brother world is no fit one to live in. It exists. It seeks omnipotence. It wants total control. Civil liberties and human rights are discarded in the process. They're disappearing in plain sight. 

Police State: The Domestic Foundation of Empire - Fabricating Terror Conspiracies

America's only enemies are ones it creates. Its war on terror is fake. It's waged to stoke fear. 

Supportive propaganda rages. Media scoundrels march in lockstep. They hype what demands denunciation. 

They do it without supportive evidence. None exists. They regurgitate official lies. They repeat them ad nauseam. 

Alleged global and domestic threats are fraudulent on their face. Warnings repeat anyway. Lies substitute for truth. They wore thin long ago.

Most people are fooled anyway. Many pay no attention either way.

"By evoking a phony 'terrorist threat' abroad and its detection by the NSA, Obama hopes to re-legitimize his discredited police state apparatus," says Petras.

At the same time, he "seeks to cover-up (his) most disreputable policies, despicable 'show trials' and harsh imprisonment of government whistle blowers and political, diplomatic and military defeats and failures which have befallen the empire in the present period."

Petras calls Obama "the Master of Deceit." He's polar opposite what supporters want. He wages multiple imperial direct and proxy wars. He plans new ones.

He wrecked the economy. He looted the nation's wealth. He consigned millions to unemployment or underemployment. 

Poverty, homelessness and hunger increased on his watch. He heads America toward full-blown tyranny.

Monied interests own him. He supports wealth, power and privilege. He let popular needs go begging.

He destroyed hard-won labor rights. He wants education commodified. He wants it made another business profit center.

He wages war on whistleblowers, dissenters, Muslims, Latino immigrants, and environmental and animal rights activists called terrorists.

He's a con man. Petras nailed him before taking office. He called him "the perfect incarnation of Melville's Confidence Man. He catches your eye while he picks your pocket. He gives thanks as he packs you off to war."

He spurns human need. He ignores rule of law principles. He deplores democratic values. He tolerates none at home or abroad. He wages war on freedom.

The Rise of the Police State and the Absence of Mass Opposition

Recent US history witnessed "the virtually unchallenged rise of the police state," said Petras. Diktat power rules. No mass pro-democracy movement confronts it. It rages out-of-control.

Bipartisan complicity supports it. So do media scoundrels. It reflects McCarthyism writ large. Anyone can be targeted for any reason or none at all.

Constitutional rights don't matter. Arbitrary rule replaced them. Police state powers reflect it.

It's "the dominant reality in US political life today," says Petras. It's largely unchallenged. Dismissiveness substitutes for mass outrage.

Obama gets away with murder and much more. Media scoundrels hype state-sponsored fear-mongering. Fake threats persist. Dissent is increasingly criminalized. Wars substitute for peace.

Part II continues discussing Petras' new book.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at [email protected] 

His new book is titled "Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity."

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanII.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs. 


http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour

Cheerleading Potential Disaster

Cheerleading Potential Disaster

by Stephen Lendman

Consider the times. Daily events should scare everyone. Washington rules alone matter. Unfettered power reflects things.

Rule of law principles are ignored. Core Bill of Rights protections are gone. Freedom hangs by a thread.

Democracy is a convenient illusion. Obama presides over a police state apparatus. Bipartisan complicity shares responsibility. Full-blown tyranny is a hair's breadth away.

Fundamental rights don't matter. Big Brother watches everyone. De facto one-party rule runs things.

Monied interests created a multi-headed monster. Super-wealth and privilege rule. Popular needs go begging. 

Social justice is disappearing in plain sight. Money power in private hands is used to make more of it at the public's expense.

Imperial madness defines official policy. Sovereign independence is criminalized. It's considered justification for war. 

Unchallenged global dominance is prioritized. Wars rage without end. New ones are planned. Humanity's fate hangs in the balance.

Warmakers win peace prizes. Peacemakers are scorned. War is considered peace. Criminality is rewarded. Doing the right thing is punished.

Today is the most perilous time in world history. Ukraine's crisis is the gravest since WW II. A potential clash of civilizations looms. 

Media propagandists masquerade as journalists. Presstitution substitutes for real news, information and analysis. 

Defending the indefensible persists. Doing so makes the unthinkable possible. Humanity survived two global wars. 

Another one perhaps means armageddon. Avoiding it should be top priority. Russia bashing takes precedence. 

It rages out-of-control daily. It's malicious. It's merciless. It's outrageous. It doesn't matter. It continues. More on this below.

Obama exceeds the worst of his predecessors. Recklessness defines his agenda. He imposed two rounds of sanctions on Russia. He threatened much tougher ones ahead.

Sergei Lavrov is a consummate diplomat.  He responded, saying:

"Unilateral sanctions have never done any good. They are not legal. And they do not have international legal grounds."

"The UN Security Council is the only body entitled to decide on coercive measures towards sovereign states, but it has not made such decisions in regards to the Russian Federation and the Ukrainian administration of President Yanukovych."

"Even if we speak about the Ukrainian constitution, the people who grabbed power in Kiev in an anti-constitutional revolt did that with at least moral support and, I believe, that support was not just moral, by their actions."

"The trampling upon laws, which aimed to bring their stooges to power, who relied on blatant ultra-nationalists and who were unable to control even Kiev without them, and accusations of us and Crimeans of breaching Ukrainian laws are totally void from the legal point of view and, I believe, totally unacceptable from the point of view of morals and ethics."

A Foreign Ministry statement added:

"Lavrov stressed that the decision on Crimea's reunification with Russia reflected the expression of will of the absolute majority of its people, that it may not be reviewed and must be respected."

"Lavrov drew particular attention to the ongoing violence by ultranationalist and extremist forces targeting businessmen and journalists, dissenters, the Russian-speaking population and our compatriots."

"It is time to put an end to the condoning of the Right Sector militants and Svoboda party" extremists.

NATO Secretary Anders Fogh Rasmussen is a convenient US stooge. He endorses US policies. He supports Kiev neo-Nazi putschists.

On March 20, he lied saying "Russia will go beyond Crimea, and the next goal will be the eastern provinces of Ukraine."

Relations between NATO and Russia can no longer remain "just business," he added. Things are different than weeks earlier, he said. 

He blamed Russia for Western imperial crimes. Perhaps he has war plans in mind. Perhaps planned US-led NATO military exercises in Ukraine suggest trouble.

Rapid Trident is scheduled for this summer. Similar exercises are conducted annually. 

US forces in Europe web site says they're designed to "promote regional stability and security, strengthen partnership capacity, and foster trust while improving interoperability between the land forces of Ukraine, and NATO and partner nations."

Perhaps something more sinister is planned. Perhaps possible confrontation with Russia looms.

On Wednesday, Vice President Joe Biden commented irresponsibility. Washington could invoke NATO's Article 5 for war on Russia, he said. 

Perhaps he knows more than he's admitting. Reckless comments heighten tensions. So do irresponsible sanctions. 

EU leaders targeted 12 additional Russian officials. Business ones were excluded. June EU-Russia summit plans were cancelled.

European leaders intend "targeted economic measures" if Russia "continues to destabilize Ukraine," they said. According to European Council president Herman Van Rompuy:

"We will assess each action, each incident in itself. We will not put all our cards on the table…But the preparations are ongoing."

Angela Merkel said: "As long as there is no political environment for such an important political format as the G-8, the G-8 doesn't exist anymore."

Vladimir Putin responded, saying:

"Are they hoping to put us in a worsening social and economic situation so as to provoke public discontent?"

"We consider such statements irresponsible and clearly aggressive in tone, and we will respond to them accordingly."

Columnist Roger Cohen is one of many New York Times imperial apologists. He never misses an opportunity to miss an opportunity. 

Instead of choosing the right side of history, he's polar opposite every time. Especially when it matters most. Setting the record straight isn't his long suit.

He's been bashing Russia for weeks. On March 20, he headlined "Cold Man in the Kremlin," saying:

"Putin’s push for a revived Soviet-like space reached its apotheosis (with) the annexation of Crimea." He called it "a watershed moment for Europe, where such an event had not happened since World War II." 

He ignored Yugoslavia's systematic destruction. He turned a blind eye to US-led NATO's full responsibility. 

He said nothing about Washington transforming most former Soviet republics and Warsaw Pact countries into subservient pro-Western puppet states. He paid no attention to accompanying human misery.

"The Continent is once again combustible," he said. "The United States faces a foe in Moscow who laces his comments about America with contempt."

Cohen wrongfully compared Crimean/Russian reunification to Hitler's Austrian Anschluss. Both events were polar opposites.

Washington bears full responsibility for heightened continental tensions. Rogue EU partners share it. Putin's straight talk is derided. Don't expect Cohen to explain. 

Defending the indefensible takes precedence. So does suppressing truth. "The language Putin understands is force and power," he claimed.

"If further Russian designs on Ukraine are to be stopped, President Obama has to respond to the Russian president in the idiom he understands," he added.

He lied accusing Putin of "proposing an alternative civilization of brutality, force, imperial expansion, systemic corruption, a cowed press, conspiracy theories and homophobia."

His characterization describes Washington. For sure not Putin. It bears repeating. Don't expect Cohen to explain.

Neocon Washington Post editors wage daily war on Russia. They repeated the Big Lie about Russian "aggression."

WaPo editors don't recognize the real thing. They call lawless US imperial wars humanitarian interventions. 

They consider ravaging and destroying one country after another liberation. Unrestrained plunder is called economic development. Despots running things are labeled democrats.

Hit 'em again harder, they urge. Pile on tougher sanctions.

Punish Putin "while minimizing the collateral damage to the US, European and global economies that could come from a broader economic war."

Credit Obama "for leading the Western response…" US sanctions "still fall far short of what is needed to inflict the 'massive' damage to the Russian economy…"

WaPo editors repeated the Big Lie. Russia invaded Crimea, they screamed. They outrageously accused Putin of "steady escalation since Russian troops fanned out in Crimea nearly three weeks ago."

Putin "appears bent on bringing about the (Kiev government's) downfall," they claim.

Moscow justifiably rejects putschist illegitimacy. WaPo editors embrace it and then some.

"…Putin and his political elite appear drunk with euphoria over their successful seizure of Crimea and skeptical about the West's will to push back," they claim. 

"If the latest sanctions do not quickly sober them up," WaPo editors wants tougher policies instituted. Again, they barely stopped short of urging war. Neocons prioritize it.

Garry Kasparov is a convenient US stooge. He's a former world chess champion turned hard right politician. 

He's a dubious character and then some. He gets generous National Endowment for Democracy funding.

He's a former Center for Security Policy board member. Neocon Frank Gaffney heads it. Its board, staff and members include likeminded hardliners.

Kasparov is linked to former Yukos oil vice president Leonid Nevzlin. It's no longer operating. 

Nevzlin was Russian oligarch Michael Khodorokvsky's partner. He fled to Israel to avoid charges of involvement with contract killers hired to eliminate "objectionable people."

In 2009, Kasparov met personally with Obama in Washington. At the time, they discussed internal Russian elements opposed to Putin.

Kasparov allied with a 2010 "Putin must go" initiative. WaPo editors gave him featured op-ed space. He headlined "It's time to stop Putin." 

He repeated the same Big Lie. He "invad(ed) Crimea," he said. He called legitimate reunification "defiance." 

He wants Putin confronted more forcefully. He wants tough pressure applied. He wants policies "target(ing) his hold on power."

He claims it's "all (he) cares about…" He berated Obama for saying he won't send US forces to defend Ukraine. He ludicrously called it "a gesture of peaceful intent."

He claimed there's "no dealing with Putin, no mutually beneficial business as usual." He turned truth on its head saying he "feels no obligation to operate by the rule of law or human rights in or outside of Russia."

"Putin is a lost cause," he hyperventilated. Russia "will be until he is gone. The West has been in denial about this for far too long."

"It has always been an error to treat (him) like any other leader; now, there are no more excuses."

You can't make this stuff up. Imagine featuring this type rubbish. Kasparov is no democrat. He's no populist. He's connected to some of the most extremist neocon ideologues. 

They deplore peace. They endorse war. They want one country  after another ravaged. They want them plundered. They want monied interests alone benefitting. 

They want ordinary people exploited. They want despots they control replacing democrats. Their agenda risks global war.

Not according to Kasparov. "Obama and Europe's leaders keep trying to play by the rules even though Putin has ripped up the rule book and thrown the shreds in their faces," he claimed.

He wants him targeted ruthlessly. He wants him ousted. Maybe he has war in mind to do it. He's part of the problem. For sure not the solution.

Wall Street Journal editors continued their daily anti-Russia barrage. On March 20, they headlined "The Russo-Sanctions War," saying:

Putin "keeps ignoring Mr. Obama's pleas to stop carving up Ukraine…" On Thursday, "economic war" began.

Obama targeted Russian business figures. He included Bank Rossiya. It's Putin's bank. It handles financial transactions for other Russian officials.

Obama's Executive Order authorizes targeting key sectors of Russia's economy. Make it scream, Journal editors urge.

"(T)his is an economic war the US should be able to win," they said. If carried to extremes, not without a potential significant global cost.

Conditions worldwide are weak. They're unstable. China's economy is slowing markedly. Slowdown affects India, Brazil, and other emerging economies.

Eurozone countries are troubled. Italy faces major problems. Economic stagnation harms France. Spain, Portugal and Greece remain basket cases.

Problems experienced by one country affects others. US/Russia economic war could ripple globally. Crisis conditions could follow.

Journal editors should know better. They endorse what should be avoided at all costs. They want tougher measures taken.

They lied claiming Russia's "military is poised to move into Ukraine's south and east on the Kremlin's orders."

They urge countering Putin by "impos(ing) enough immediate and substantial pain on (him), his friends and the Russian economy…"

They want world banks forced "to choose between doing business with" America or Russia. They want Moscow's "dominance in European energy" confronted.

They want Ukraine given military aid. The want NATO forces deployed close to Russia's borders. It bears repeating. Perhaps they want WW III.

Media scoundrels lack legitimacy. They support wrong over right. They march in lockstep with lawless US policy. 

They blame victims for crimes Washington commits. They lie to readers and viewers consistently. They endorse policies risking global conflict. Don't ask them to explain.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at [email protected] 

His new book is titled "Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity."

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanII.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs. 


http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour 

An Open Letter to Barack Obama

An Open Letter to Barack Obama

by Stephen Lendman

Congratulations, Mr. President. You're the latest in a long line of lawless leaders. You achieved rogue status without really trying.

Contempt for rule of law principles, duplicity and moral cowardice define your administration. Pretense otherwise doesn't wash.

Instead of improving lives for ordinary Americans, you created worse than ever conditions.

You more than ever made America a gangster state. Millions worldwide call it a pariah one. They do so for good reason.

You stole public wealth. You handed Wall Street crooks trillions of dollars. You gave war profiteers trillions more. 

You impoverished millions. You left 100 million working-age Americans unemployed. 

You ignore human need. Homelessness and hunger aren't your concerns. 

You're systematically destroying middle class society. You're heading America on a fast track toward third world status. A second one toward full-blown tyranny.

You promised hope and change. You campaigned for peace. You promised all US forces out of Afghanistan in your first year in office.

You assured Palestinian sovereignty free from occupation harshness. You said decades of what Israel imposed would end.

You promised Guantanamo closure once and for all. You pledged within one year of taking office.

Bush administration war criminals will be held accountable, you said. Torture will end by decree. 

So will indefinite detentions. Lawless military commissions trials won't be tolerated.

Labor rights will be supported. So will public education. And you can keep your doctor, you said. 

You guaranteed universal healthcare with a public option. It'll be more affordable than before, you claimed. 

You'll end unconstitutional executive authority. You'll help Americans facing foreclosure keep their homes.

You promised real immigration reform within one year of taking office. You'll "revisit the Patriot Act."

You'll "overturn unconstitutional executive decisions during the past eight years."

You'll be a uniter, not a divider. You'll serve all Americans equitably, justly, fairly and honorably.

"It's time to turn a page," you said. "We'll restore our values." The "days of compromising them are over." 

We'll "secure a more resilient homeland." We'll "adhere to the Geneva Conventions." 

Freedom is too precious to lose. You've gone all-out to destroy it on your watch. You've done so at home and abroad.

You said openness and transparency in government will be a hallmark of your administration. You'll increase whistleblower protections.

Big Brother will be banished. "(N)o more illegal wiretapping of American citizens," you pledged.

No more "spy(ing) on citizens who are not suspected of a crime." No more privacy invasions.

No more human and civil rights violations. "No more ignoring the law when it is inconvenient."

No more extrajudicial operations. No more favoring monied interests over popular ones. No more wars for power and profit.

No more less than treating everyone equitably and justly. No more defending the indefensible.

Arundhati Roy once called Tony Blair a "psychopath." She described Bush the same way. She said you're no different from them. And then some, this writer adds.

You did more to make America unfit to live in than any of your predecessors. You've waged political, economic and hot wars on humanity. 

You threaten its survival. Your policies risk WW III. You're unapologetic. Your rampaging continues.

Your waging multiple direct and proxy wars. You target all independent countries for regime change.

You're waging war on Syria. You launched it. You killed tens of thousands. You bear full responsibility. You want a subservient pro-Western stooge replacing Assad.

You ravaged and destroyed Libya for the same purpose. You turned it into a charnel house. You're doing the same thing to many other countries. Countless millions suffer horrifically on your watch.

Ukraine is your latest victim. Congratulations. You claimed another imperial trophy. As long as you can keep it.

It's at the expense of millions of Ukrainians deserving better. You want them marginalized, exploited, impoverished and denied fundamental freedoms.

You want Ukraine run by fascist extremists. You bought victory on the cheap. Keeping it is something else entirely.

Reports estimate you spent $5 - $10 billion transforming Ukraine from a democracy to a pro-Western fascist police state.

It's pocket change compared to multi-trillions waging war on Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, and other countries below the radar.

You elevated anti-Semitic, hate-mongering, xenophobic, ultranational neo-Nazis to power. 

You expressed support for their extremism. You called them "the voice of the people." You blamed Ukraine's legitimate government for their street crimes.

You endorsed usurpation of power. On Saturday, your press secretary lied, saying:

"We have consistently advocated a de-escalation of violence, constitutional change, a coalition government, and early elections, and today's developments could move us closer to that goal."

Fact check: You planned violence. You initiated it. You stoked it. You funded it. You want total control over Ukrainian policy. You want ordinary Ukrainians having no say.  

"The unshakeable principle guiding events must be that the people of Ukraine determine their own future."

Fact check: You've gone all-out to prevent it. You stole their future.  

"We welcome constructive work in the Rada and continue to urge the prompt formation of a broad, technocratic government of national unity."

Fact check: Usurped Rada (parliament) authority has no legitimacy. It's polar opposite real democracy.

You deplore it. You tolerate it nowhere. You deny Americans what they deserve. You operate the same way globally.

"We welcome former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko’s release from a prison hospital today, and we wish her a speedy recovery..." 

Fact check: She's a criminal. She stole tens of millions of dollars. She did so at the expense of ordinary Ukrainians. She belongs in prison. Releasing her was lawless.

"We continue to urge an end to violence by all sides and a focus on peaceful, democratic dialogue, working pursuant to Ukraine’s constitution and through its institutions of government."  

Fact check: It bears repeating. You spent billions on violently toppling Ukraine's legitimate government. You want pro-Western fascist extremism replacing it.

You got what you wanted so far. Keeping it may be something else entirely. The battle for Ukraine's soul continues. It has miles to go. It's outcome is very much undecided.

"Going forward, we will work with our allies, with Russia, and with appropriate European and international organizations to support a strong, prosperous, unified, and democratic Ukraine." 

"…(T)he Ukrainian people should know that the United States deeply values our long-standing ties with Ukraine and will support them as they pursue a path of democracy and economic development."

Fact check: Ukrainian youths are ignorant. They're mindless about what's going on. They're easily manipulated. For how long matters most.

Older Ukrainians aren't stupid. They know how America operates. They know wherever it shows up, extreme violence and human misery follow.

They reversed George Bush's Orange Revolution. Don't bet they won't undo your 2.0 version. The battle for Ukraine's soul just began.

Note: Anonymous Ukraine monitors what's ongoing. It's members are divided. Some are brainwashed by Western propaganda.

Others know their country is being colonized for plunder. They'll fight it. They want no part of exploitive EU membership.

They reject US meddling in Ukraine's internal affairs. They oppose NATO membership. They deplore fascist extremists usurping power. They know your dirty hands are involved.

They want peace and stability. They want Ukrainians deciding their own future. They want sovereign independence defended. 

They'll be heard from going forward. They won't stand by idly watching you wreck their country. They won't "go gentle into that good night."

"Operation Independence continues," they said. "Expect us."

One coup d'etat isn't enough for you. You want another. You want Venezuela's democratic government toppled. 

You want Bolivarian social justice destroyed. You want Venezuela returned to its bad old days. 

You bear full responsibility for street violence. You're funding it. You're directing it. You pull the strings.

Destabilization continues. CIA operatives are involved. So are State Department organizations.

Coup plotting is violent. Days of violence caused 10 deaths so far. Scores were injured. Your funded fascists are responsible.

Since 1999, you, Bush and Clinton spent billions of dollars targeting Venezuela for regime change. Bolivarianism survived everything done to destroy it.

It's resilient. It's institutionalized. The vast majority of Venezuelans support it. They won't tolerate your plot to steal what's too important to lose. Or the Hemisphere's most democratic country.

They'll fight to keep hard won gains. Victor Hugo once explained nothing stronger than "an idea whose time has come."

It's deep-rooted in Venezuela. It reflects Simon Bolivar's vision. He wanted the imperial curse "to plague Latin America with misery in the name of liberty" ended.

He wanted national resources distributed equitably and fairly. Chavez was his modern-day incarnation. 

Chavismo reflects his commitment. Maduro carries his torch.

The battle to preserve Bolivarian values continues. They won't wane and die. Your dirty scheme is familiar.

You want Venezuela looking like America. You want police state viciousness replacing democracy. You want neoliberal harshness replacing Bolivarian fairness.

You want what Venezuelans won't tolerate. You want what they won't let you get. 

Maybe Americans will awaken to reality. Maybe they'll react the same way. It's their future. If they won't protect it, no one will do it for them.

It bears repeating what other articles said. Resist or perish. There's no in-between. Spread the word. Tell others. We're all in this together. Defeating your agenda is too important a fight to lose.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at [email protected] 

His new book is titled "Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity."

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanII.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs Fridays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.


http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour

Reactions to Obama’s NSA Address

Reactions to Obama's NSA Address

by Stephen Lendman

Hundreds of Stop Watching Us activists protested outside the Justice Department. They did so before he spoke.

They wore STOP SPYING glasses. They held signs saying "Stop Spying on Us." "Big Brother In Chief." "Obama = Tyranny." 

CODEPINK members were there. On Thursday, co-founder Medea Benjamin said:

"Though President Obama is scheduled to lay out reforms for the NSA spying program, we have little reason to believe they will be sufficient of implemented."

"The intelligence agencies in the US are totally out of control - from mass dragnet spying, to killing by remote control…" and it's time for transparency and accountability."

Bill of Rights Defense Committee executive director Shahid Buttar said:

"Despite pledging to stop Bush era abuses, President Obama has repeatedly chosen to leave the NSA free to monitor the American people en masse." 

"More than any other issue, his administration's complicity in mass surveillance will come to define its legacy."

It's certain unless he "chooses to finally support reforms like the USA FREEDOM Act, which would end bulk collection, and start a longer process needed to remove the officials caught lying to Congress, and fix the broken secret FISA court process."

Clearly, he has no intention of doing it. A same day article said the worst of business as usual will continue.

Skepticism and then some followed Obama's address. Center for Constitutional Rights President Emeritus Michael Ratner said:

"I didn't expect a lot, but I think we got almost nothing in terms of actually reining in what I call this national surveillance state."

"We have a right to privacy." Not according to Obama. "So you have this vast surveillance apparatus."

"And then you have a speech that basically lauds the people who are spies, talks about them really as, oh, they're your neighbor. They don't want to do anything wrong to you. They're only out to protect you."

His address was a shameless PR stunt. It was smoke and mirrors. It was long on rhetoric. It was short on substance. It delivered empty promises. 

It was filled "with a lot of BS about oversight (and) transparency," said Ratner. It was "completely meaningless."

Obama wants us to trust the government "which we've shown can't (be) trust(ed)."

Former Libertarian Party presidential nominee Gary Johnson called Obama's address "disappointing, but not surprising."

"It is simply not realistic to expect the federal government to voluntarily relinquish powers it has granted itself, even when (they're) unconstitutional."

"And when the government has convinced itself that it is OK to sweep up the phone calls, texts and emails of hundreds of millions of Americans, it is no surprise that the President is not really proposing to change anything."

TechFreedom president Berin Szoka said Obama's "speech will probably be remembered most for the much-needed reforms it didn't announce."

Law Professor Jonathan Turley called Obama's address "a nothing burger served hot and with a sympathetic smile."

"It was much of the same. Another review board composed of government officials. Another promise for the Executive Branch to review itself."

"I was underwhelmed. It seemed like another attempt to reinvent privacy in a new surveillance friendly image."

Mass surveillance "will continued and the intelligence community will retain its authority with little outside independent limits."

Obama's reform is "basically 'trust us, we're your government' (including a reminder that NSA people are your neighbors)."

His speech was "more spin than substance." It was typical Obama.

The Center for Democracy & Technology (CDT) said Obama's "proposed reforms (far) short of what is needed, particularly in terms of actionable solutions."

CDT director Greg Nojeim said:

"(W)e were disappointed in (Obama's) failure to offer a clear path forward on (vital) reforms."

His "proposed changes do not fully address the fundamental problem of bulk collection of personal metadata and fail to adequately protect the rights of people around the world."

Partnership for Civil Justice Fund co-founders Carl Messineo and Mara Verheyden-Hilliard said:

"Rather than dismantling the NSA's unconstitutional mass surveillance programs, or even substantially restraining them, President Obama today has issued his endorsement of them."

"The speech today was 'historic' in the worst sense. It represents a historic failure by a president to rein in mass government illegality and violations of fundamental rights."

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) said Obama's so-called reforms have "have a long way to go. Now it's up to Congress and courts" to act.

EFF Legal Director Cindy Cohn said:

"Mass non-targeted surveillance violates international human rights law." 

"It is disproportionate because it sweeps up the communications and communications records of million of innocent people first and only sorts out second what is actually needed."

"(T)he NSA must be forbidden from engaging in mass, untargeted surveillance in the US or abroad." 

ACLU executive director Anthony Romero said:

Obama's "decision not to end bulk collection and retention of all Americans' data remains highly troubling."

Glushko-Canadian Internet Policy & Public Interest Clinic staff lawyer Tamir Israel said:

"Protecting foreigners' privacy rights" is essential. Recognizing it "in principle is unhelpful, as (Obama's) Directive leaves the US foreign intelligence apparatus' capacity to indiscriminately spy on all the activities of all foreigners all the time largely untouched."

Privacy International Legal Director Carly Nyst said:

"The reforms proposed by President Obama fundamentally ignore those who are spied on simply because they don't have an American passport." 

"We need genuine, effective changes that account for the way the world now communicates. Secret international intelligence-sharing arrangements must come to an end and human rights must be properly guaranteed to humans, not just American citizens."

Amnesty International executive director Steven Hawkins said:

"The big picture takeaway from today's speech is that the right of privacy remains under grave threat both here at home and around the world."

Access executive director Brett Solomon said:

"The human right to privacy is universal. The rights of persons outside of the United States are as fundamental as the rights of U.S. citizens." 

"However, the President’s defense of ongoing overseas intelligence collection programs ensures that the citizens of the world will continue to be subject to mass surveillance."

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange called Obama's speech "embarrassing." He spoke "for almost 45 minutes and sa(id) almost nothing."

"He's been very reluctant to make any concrete reforms, and unfortunately, today we see very few" presented.

On January 17, London's Guardian headlined Obama NSA reforms receive mixed response in Europe and Brazil," saying:

"Europeans were largely underwhelmed by Barack Obama's speech on limited reform of US espionage practices, saying the measures did not go far enough to address concerns over American snooping on its European allies."

NSA supporters loved Obama's speech. House and Senate intelligence committee chairpersons Rep. Mike Rogers (R. MI) and Diane Feinstein (D. CA) issued a joint statement, saying:

"Today President Obama gave a strong speech in defense of the need to collect and use intelligence in order to protect the nation and to prevent terrorist attacks around the world." 

"We strongly agree with his comments in support and praise of the professionals in our intelligence community who do this work while upholding the civil liberties and privacy rights of all Americans."

Democrats largely supported Obama's speech. Republicans offered mixed reactions. Speaker John Boehner said:

"I look forward to learning more about how the new procedure for accessing data will not put Americans at greater risk." 

"And the House will review any legislative reforms proposed by the administration." It "will not erode the operational integrity of critical programs that have helped keep America safe."

Senator Rand Paul dissented strongly, saying:

"The Fourth Amendment requires an individualized warrant based on probable cause before the government can search phone records and e-mails." 

"I intend to continue the fight to restore Americans' rights through my Fourth Amendment Restoration Act and my legal challenge against the NSA. The American people should not expect the fox to guard the hen house."

The Financial Times called Obama "defiant on US surveillance activities."

Wall Street Journal editors said he delivered "a conflicted address…His new anti-terror proposals will do little to secure American privacy but they might make the country less safe."

New York Times editors support the worst of Obama's policies. They praised his speech. It "was in large part an admission that he had been wrong," they said.

He "announced important new restrictions on the collection of information about ordinary Americans…He called for greater oversight of the intelligence community..."

He "acknowledged that intrusive forms of technology posed a growing threat to civil liberties." At the same time, "his reforms (lacked) specifics..."

Calling "on Congress to create a panel of independent advocates (is) a huge improvement" over current practice.

Times editors largely defended the worst of lawless mass surveillance. They left rule of law principles unaddressed. They ignored America's fast track toward tyranny. They betrayed their readers in the process.

The Chicago Tribune defended Obama saying:

His "proposals outlined Friday are modest enough to give Americans some confidence that their privacy will be better protected without creating a greater risk to their security."

Los Angeles Times editors called Obama's "NSA reforms a significant step."

His "overarching theme...was that, with the best of intentions, the government over which (he) presides has gone too far in taking advantage of advanced technology."

He must "restore the proper balance between security and privacy."

Since mid-2013, the Washington Post discussed Snowden documents in detail. Numerous articles explained how NSA violates personal privacy.

Unless Obama acts to change current policy, intrusive "programs will carry on unabated," said WaPo.

Obama tried putting lipstick on a pig. Expect nothing substantive ahead to change. Washington is a cesspool of lawlessness. Things are worse than ever now.

Congress and federal courts are in lockstep with the worst  administration policies. Rule of law principles don't matter. 

Government by diktats threatens everyone. Freedom is fast disappearing. It's happening in plain sight. 

Obama did more to destroy it than any previous president. It takes a giant leap of faith to think he'll reverse things.

He waged war on democratic values. He did so from day one in office. He's a duplicitous con man. He broke every major promise made. 

He wants Americans to trust him. He gives chutzpah new meaning. He intends business as usual. 

Sustained in-his-face public outrage is the only chance to stop him. Inertia so far keeps it contained.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at [email protected] 

His new book is titled "Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity."

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanII.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs Fridays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.


http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour

NSA’s Fake War on Terror

NSA's Fake War on Terror

by Stephen Lendman

A New America Foundation report suggests it. More on this below.

NSA spying is longstanding. It's ongoing abroad and at home. It has nothing to do with national security. It's unrelated to uncovering terrorist plots. 

Homegrown ones virtually don't exist. Alleged ones are hatched. They're fake. Claiming dozens were foiled in time is false. 

They're Big Lies. Previous articles discussed dozens of innocent victims. They included:

  • a fake shoe bomber;

  • fake underwear bomber;

  • fake Times Square bomber;

  • an earlier one there;

  • fake shampoo bombers;

  • fake Al Qaeda woman planning fake mass casualty attacks on New York landmarks;

  • fake Oregon bomber;

  • fake armed forces recruiting station bomber;

  • fake synagogue bombers;

  • fake Chicago Sears Tower bombers;

  • fake FBI and other building bombers;

  • fake National Guard, Fort Dix and Quantico marine base attackers;

  • fake 9/11 bombers; 

  • fake Boston bombers; and 

  • numerous others. 

At issue is generating fear. Washington's fake war on terror needs public support. FBI operatives are involved. 

Orchestrated stings are used. Innocent victims are entrapped. Familiar schemes repeat. 9/11 is the Big Lie of our time. So is the fake war on terror. 

Innocent victims languish in America's gulag. NSA spying watches everyone. It's unconstitutional. It's for police state control. It's  ending privacy. It's destroying freedom. 

Global spying is espionage. It's for political and economic advantage. It's to be one up on foreign competitors. It's for information used advantageously in trade, political, and military relations.

The New America Foundation (NAF) is an establishment organization. Bilderberg Group/CIA-connected Google CEO Eric Schmidt chairs its board of directors. 

Right-wing ideologue Anne-Marie Slaughter is president and CEO. NAF study co-author Peter Bergen is CNN's national security analyst. His articles appear in establishment publications.

NAF's report is titled "Do NSA's Bulk Surveillance Programs Stop Terrorists?"

Two weeks after Edward Snowden's first revelations were published, Obama lied saying:

"We know of at least 50 threats that have been averted because of this information not just in the United States, but," abroad as well.

NSA director General Keith Alexander repeated the lie claiming:

"information gathered from these programs provided the US government with critical leads to help prevent over 50 potential terrorist events in more than 20 countries around the world."

House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence chairman Mike Rogers (R. MI) said:

"Fifty-four times (NSA spying) stopped and thwarted terrorist attacks both here and in Europe - saving real lives."

False! According to NAF's analysis, government contentions "about the role that NSA 'bulk' surveillance of phone and email communications records has had in keeping the United States safe from terrorism shows that these claims are overblown and even misleading."

Mass NSA surveillance "had no discernible impact on preventing acts of terrorism."

So-called evidence NSA claimed to uncover is easily gotten through conventional investigatory methods.

NAF analyzed 225 instances of alleged post-9/11 terrorism. Only two involved NSA meta-data. 

None were legitimate. Alleged homegrown terrorism is fabricated. So are others abroad. They're fake. NAF's report didn't explain. It said:

"The overall problem for US counterterrorism officials is not that they need vaster amounts of information from the bulk surveillance programs, but that they don’t sufficiently understand or widely share the information they already possess that was derived from conventional law enforcement and intelligence techniques."

On Friday, Obama will address so-called NSA reforms. Last month, his hand-picked advisory committee recommended minor changes. They're too inconsequential to matter.

They legitimized lawless spying. They ignored what federal Judge Richard Leon called unconstitutional. They're "almost Orwellian," he said.

Expect Obama to rubber-stamp continuity. He'll maintain business as usual. He'll stress balancing civil liberties with protecting national security. He'll lie claiming it.

He'll legitimize what Electronic Frontier Foundation's Kurt Opsahl called "heinous." 

He'll leave NSA's worst lawlessness untouched. He'll whitewash its crimes. He'll lie claiming otherwise.

Last November, the General Assembly addressed privacy rights in the digital age. Over 50 member states co-sponsored a resolution. It supports what's too precious to lose.

On December 18, the 193-member body unanimously approved a resolution titled: "The Right to privacy in the digital age."

It reaffirmed a fundamental human right. No one should be denied the right to privacy. No one should be lawlessly spied on. 

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) called the General Assembly's resolution "one small step for privacy, one giant leap against surveillance."

Obama stacked his so-called Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies with longstanding Washington insiders.

A previous article discussed them. Director of National Intelligence (DNI) head James Clapper supervised. He's an acknowledged perjurer. He's complicit in NSA crimes.

On December 12, Obama's committee released its report. It's titled "Liberty and Security in a Changing World." Its handpicked members included:

  • former acting CIA head Michael Morell;

  • former National Coordinator for Security, Infrastructure Protection, and Counterterrorism Richard Clarke;

  • former Administrator of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs Cass Sunstein; Francis Boyle calls him a neocon;

  • Democrat party connected/political advocacy group Center for American Progress member Peter Swire; and

  • University of Chicago Law Professor Geoffrey Stone. 

Forty recommendations were made. They stopped well short of what's needed. They legitimized mass surveillance.

They ignored what's most important. Constitutional issues were unaddressed. Mass surveillance is illegal. It's unacceptable everywhere.

It's unrelated to alleged terrorism. It's police state ruthlessness writ large. It's Obama's war on freedom. 

He promised no warrantless spying. Straightaway he authorized it. His explanation fell short and then some. He said:

"When I came into this office, I made two commitments that are more important than any commitment I made: number one to keep the American people safe, and number two to uphold the Constitution."

Americans are less safe than ever. Freedom is disappearing in plain sight. Obama's done more to subvert constitutional law than any previous president. 

He made freedom a four-letter word. He claimed:

"You can't have 100% security and also then have 100% privacy and zero inconvenience."  

"We're going to have to make some choices as a society. I think that on balance, we have established a process and a procedure that the American people should feel comfortable about."

He lied saying mass surveillance "help(s) prevent terrorist attacks." None whatever exist.

He lied again calling NSA spying "modest encroachments on privacy." It's sweeping, pervasive and lawless. It's unrelated to alleged terrorism.

Obama wants Americans to trust him. Why anyone would, they'll have to explain. He's a war criminal multiple times over. He's done more to destroy freedom than any of his predecessors.

He wants it eliminated altogether. He's a serial liar. Nothing he says has credibility. He lied claiming:

"When it comes to telephone calls, nobody is listening to your telephone calls. That's not what this program is about. As was indicated, what the intelligence community is doing is looking at phone numbers and durations of calls."

"They are not looking at people's names and they are not looking at content." Permission to do so, he claimed, requires "go(ing) back to a federal judge just like (for) a criminal investigation."

"With respect to the Internet and emails, this does not apply to US citizens and it does not apply to people living in the United States."

False! Obama authorized sweeping domestic spying. He did so unconstitutionally. He institutionalized it. It's ongoing daily. It's warrantless. 

No one escapes NSA's spying eye. Everything communicated electronically is vulnerable. It's fair game.

NSA's mandate is "Get it all." Phone calls, emails, and other electronic communications are secretly collected. They're gotten without court authorization.

Probable cause isn't needed. Major telecom and Internet companies cooperate. They do so willingly.

All three branches of government are involved. They're complicit in sweeping lawlessness. Police states operate this way. America is by far the worst.

Expect nothing ahead to change. Expect worse with increasingly sophisticated NSA technology. 

Cyberwar on freedom is official US policy. NSA is Big Brother writ large. Privacy no longer exists. Obama's waging war on freedom. It's vanishing in plain sight.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at [email protected] 

His new book is titled "Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity."

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanII.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs Fridays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.


http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour

US and Israeli Season’s Greetings: Part II

US and Israeli Season's Greetings: Part II

by Stephen Lendman

No nations more egregiously violate legal, moral and ethical principles, standards and norms. None do so more contemptuously. 

None operate more lawlessly. None more mock the season's spirit. None more do it throughout the year after year after year. 

None are more disgraceful. None inflict more harm on humanity. None more threaten its survival. 

None more urgently need to be held accountable for high crimes of war, against humanity and genocide.

The 1950 Nuremberg Principles defined crimes against peace to include:

"(i) Planning, preparation, initiation or waging of a war of aggression or a war in violation of international treaties, agreements or assurances; (and)

(ii) Participation in a common plan or conspiracy for the accomplishment of any of the acts mentioned under (i)."

Justice Robert Jackson was chief Nuremberg prosecutor. Robertjackson.org discussed "The Influence of the Nuremberg Trial on International Criminal Law," saying:

No one is above the law. "The Nuremberg trials established that all of humanity would be guarded by an international legal shield and that even a Head of State would be held criminally responsible and punished for aggression and Crimes Against Humanity."

Things haven't exactly turned out that way. International crimes against peace continue. Twentieth century "horrors...are many."

New millennium ones perhaps exceed them. Imagine two rogue terror states obscenely calling themselves democracies. Imagine them matching the worst of Hitler and Stalin.

Both world wars "lead the world community to pledge never again," said robertjackson.org. Nazi atrocities "were not isolated incidents."

Post-WW II, wars without end rage. Millions were ruthlessly slaughtered. No nations are more guilty than America and Israel. Their war on humanity continues.

Despite Nuremberg, they haven't been held accountable. They escaped punishment and justice. They avoided censure. They continue brutalizing, torturing, slaughtering, destroying and governing ruthlessly.

According to Nuremberg Tribunal Principles, planning, preparing, initiating, and waging wars of aggression or in violation of international treaties, agreements, conventions, or accepted standards are high crimes against peace.

They demand accountability under inviolable international law. Post-WW II alone, America committed direct or proxy aggression and genocide against North Korea, Southeast Asia, parts of Africa, Central America, and Eurasia.

According to Francis Boyle:

"(T)he peoples of the world have witnessed successive governments in the United States that have demonstrated little if any respect for fundamental considerations of international law, human rights, and the United States Constitution itself." 

"Instead, the world has watched a comprehensive and malicious assault upon the integrity of the international and domestic legal orders by groups of men and women who are thoroughly Machiavellian in their perception of international relations and in their conduct of both foreign affairs and American domestic policy."

Washington is responsible for "an ongoing criminal conspiracy because of its serial wars of aggression, crimes against peace, crimes against humanity, and war crimes that are legally akin to those perpetrated by the former Nazi regime in Germany."

America willfully, maliciously, and repeatedly violates the letter and spirit of the:

  • UN Charter;

  • Nuremberg Charter, Judgment and Principles;

  • US Army Field Manual 27-10;

  • Law of Land Warfare;

  • Hague Conventions;

  • Geneva Conventions and Protocols; and  

  • all other international humanitarian laws.

Since 1948, Israel committed slow-motion genocide against Palestinians. It continues today. Gazans are harmed most.

Boyle calls Israel responsible for "inflicting outright genocide on the Palestinians in Gaza."

Both countries persecute their own. Thousands of political prisoners languish in their gulags. Their rights are systematically denied.

They're tortured and abused. They're brutalized for supporting right over wrong. They're punished extrajudicially.

Israel largely targets Palestinians. Praying to the wrong God is called terrorism. So is wanting to live free on their own land in their own country. Israel considers Muslims subhumans. 

America's so-called war on terror reigns it on humanity. Freedom is eroding in plain sight. Constitutional rights don't matter.

Fundamental ones are considered quaint and out-of-date. Dissent is an endangered spies. Big Brother surveillance is the new normal. So are mumbo jumbo judicial rulings legitimizing it. 

Federal Judge William Pauley's ACLU v. Clapper ruling is the latest example. He turned fundamental law on its head. He did so by calling lawless spying legal. He mocked judicial fairness doing it.

Last June, the ACLU filed suit. It challenged "the constitutionality of the National Security Agency's mass collection of Americans' phone records."

It argued that doing so violates fundamental Fourth and First Amendment rights. It didn't matter. Judge Pauley claimed otherwise. He spurned core constitutional protections doing so.

ACLU's deputy legal director Jameel Jaffer responded, saying:

"We are extremely disappointed with this decision, which misinterprets the relevant statutes, understates the privacy implications of the government’s surveillance and misapplies a narrow and outdated precedent to read away core constitutional protections."

"As another federal judge and the president’s own review group concluded last week, the National Security Agency’s bulk collection of telephony data constitutes a serious invasion of Americans’ privacy. We intend to appeal and look forward to making our case in the Second Circuit."

Full-blown tyranny is a hair's breadth away. The obscenity of Guantanamo is another example. Center for Constitutional Rights President Emeritus Michael Ratner calls it "12 years of US war crimes."

Over 150 victimized detainees remain. Most are uncharged, untried. Not a shred of evidence showed anyone held since Guantanamo opened committed any crimes.

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and other alleged 9/11 conspirators had nothing to do with what happened. They've been lawlessly held. They were brutally tortured. They're guilty by accusation. It's the American way.

"I want to make a prediction," said Ratner. "There will still be people there when President Obama leaves office, despite his promise to close Guantanamo in a year from when he went into office."

He lied. He doesn't give a damn. Nor does Congress or federal judges. Official policy is obscene. Indefinite detention uncharged, untried defines the worst of judicial unfairness.

It's "joined at the hip with our legal system," said Ratner. "It's an illegal, unconstitutional system. And it's sad that that's the case. So whether this Guantanamo closes, another one will open."

Dozens operate worldwide. Guantanamo if the tip of the iceberg. "(W)e're not winning this battle," said Ratner. 

Injustice is the new normal. It's the law of the land. It threatens everyone. Police states operate this way.  America is by far the worst. 

It's the world's leading human rights abuser. It spurns fundamental rights. It does so at home and abroad.

It governs unaccountably. It rules through intimidation, state terror and permanent wars on humanity. Its rap sheet is blood-drenched. It's responsible for countless millions of deaths. 

It brutalizes innocent victims. Alleged 9/11 conspirators are on trial. They're wrongfully blamed for state-sponsored crimes.

"Think about it," said Ratner. "Twelve years after Guantanamo opened, "it's still going on. And those people were tortured."

"They were taken to secret sites. And then they were put in front of made-up trials, military commissions, completely made up, completely illegal, completely contrary to international law. And there's these charades going on down there."

"And one of the most unique (Orwellian) things" is that brutalized victims "had their memories classified. Think about that."

"The criminality that's happened to them, the torture that's happened to them, they are not allowed to speak about it." 

"They can tell their lawyers about it, but the lawyers cannot tell the public about it, and it's classified memory - I mean, unheard of."

It's beyond Kafkaesque. It's American justice. It's none whatever. Political prisoners fare no better in US civil courts. Guilt by accusation applies. It's rubber-stamp. 

It's outrageous. It doesn't matter. It's the law of the land. It's no different from Nazi Germany and Stalinist show trials. Kangaroo court justice is official policy.

Constitutional and international rights matter. So do Magna Carta principles. It dates from 1215. It's 800 years old. It stood the test of time.

America "utterly shredded an 800 year legal history that said people can't be jailed by an executive or king," said Ratner.

"They have a right to go to court, a right to test their detention, a right to be tried...(a right to prove their innocence before an impartial judge and jury), "and (require) convict(ion) before they're sentenced."

No longer. Diktat law prevails. It bears repeating. Police states operate this way. America is by far the worst. 

Israel is a conspiratorial junior partner. It reigns terror across the Muslim world and beyond. It's committing slow-motion genocide against Palestinians.

It's suffocating over 1.7 million Gazans ruthlessly. It lawlessly incarcerates thousands of political prisoners.

It conducts multiple daily incursions into Palestinian communities. It terrorizes innocent people doing it. Abductions, torture and imprisonments follow.

So does murder in cold blood. On December 27, The Census Department of the Palestinian Ministry of Detainees published its annual report.

It makes disturbing reading. It documents 3,874 Palestinians kidnapped in 2013 alone. Over 930 children were affected. 

Four detainees died in custody. They were murdered by torture or neglect. Around 75% of Palestinian abductees were age 30 or younger.

Census Department head Abdul-Nasser Farawna said Israel deliberately targets young Palestinians, including children. They represent core Palestinian society.

Israel fears them. They're steadfast. They're courageous. They want freedom. They want independence. They're willing to go all out for what's right.

It's why they're "imprisoned, tortured, abused and intimated," said Farawna.

"The most serious violation is the fact that kidnapped children are beaten and tortured during interrogation. They were humiliated, subjected to physical and emotional torture."

Abuse begins at the moment of arrest. "They're blindfolded and placed into military jeeps where they are often beaten again, before they are dragged to interrogation facilities in military camps or settlements."

"Under interrogation, they face the most cruel methods of torture and abuse, physical and emotional, while being verbally threatened, amidst threats to harm their families unless they provide information." 

Around 1,400 prisoners have serious health problems. They're denied proper treatment. Doing so constitutes cruel and unusual punishment. 

It inflicts pain and suffering. For many, slow-motion death by neglect follows. It can take months or years. It can be in or out of prison. Release often comes too late to matter.

Sham peace talks continue. Longstanding Israeli collaborators represent Palestine. 

John Kerry is Israel's man in Washington. He's going all out to be America's worst ever Secretary of State. He works collaboratively with Israeli hardliners. 

He represents their interests. He spurns fundamental Palestinian rights. He makes a mockery of peace, equity and justice. So does the most extremist Knesset in Israeli history.

Fascists rule. Netanyahu leads them. On December 27, the Times of Israel headlined "As peace talks plow on, right tries to make a legislative stand," saying:

Proposed Knesset legislation "seek(s) to annex or strengthen Israel's hold over portions of the West Bank..."

Extremist MKs want Israeli sovereignty declared over privately held Palestinian land. They want grand theft legitimized.

Legislation is titled "The Bill to Apply Israeli Law to the Jordan Valley 5774 - 2013." It's nearly identical to how Israel annexed Golan.

The measure "quickly won the support of the of the Knesset's most influential figures," said Times of Israel.

They include "Coalition Chairman Yariv Levin (Likud), Law Committee Chairman David Rotem (Yisrael Beytenu), former Knesset speaker Reuven Rivlin (Likud), Jewish Home faction chair Ayelet Shaked, former Shas chairman Eli Yishai, and at least 13 other lawmakers."

The bill is the latest effort to steal Palestinian land. Others were introduced. More will follow.

The Jordan Valley bill states in part:

"The future of the Jordan Valley begins in the Israeli consciousness. Israel must decide to apply its sovereignty to this broad region, which has a relatively small Palestinian population, and to say openly: 'The Jordan Valley will remain under Israeli sovereignty forever.' "

Israel wants much more than Jordan Valley land. It currently controls over 60% of the West Bank. 

It wants it officially annexed. It wants it declared official Israeli territory. It wants Jerusalem as its exclusive capital. 

It wants Palestinians denied all rights. It wants resisters killed or imprisoned. Washington offers full support.

Both countries partner in crimes of war, against humanity and genocide. They deplore peace, equity and justice. 

It's longstanding policy. It's ruthless. It's relentless. It's unforgiving. It's imperial lawlessness writ large.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at [email protected] 

His new book is titled "Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity."

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanII.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs Fridays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour


http://www.dailycensored.com/us-israeli-seasons-greetings-part-ii/

The Battle For Trust, Truth And The Internet: 2013 In Focus

29/12/2013 (This was written specifically for Deccan Herald) 

While the usual catalogue of violence, suffering and mayhem was witnessed during 2013 and sections of the media were fascinated with the lives or loves of Salman, Priyanka, Kareena and the rest of celebritydom, for this end-of-year look-back the stardust and the suffering will take a back seat. Instead, the spotlight falls on spin, trust and the internet, not least because 2013 was to a large extent a year of revelations, accusations, denials and clever public relations.  


In an age of instant, mass communications, we are bombarded with messages 24/7. From advertisements and round-the-clock news channels to newspapers, social media, text messages and emails, the onslaught is relentless. How to filter it all or to make sense of it? Who to believe and what to believe, especially when one source tells us something then another says something completely different. For the public, it can be a headache. And for those trying to influence us with their messages, they know full well that there is an information war as they battle for our hearts, minds and trust.


Edward Snowden’s revelations


If two words could be used to define 2013, they might possibly be Edward Snowden. This young American emerged from the shadowy world of espionage and surveillance to expose Washington’s monitoring of us all and its illegal snooping across the planet. For his efforts, he incurred the wrath of the US establishment.


Ever since the fall of the Soviet Union, the United States has been the world’s sole superpower. Despite all the public statements about respect for a multi-polar world, away from the public gaze the US has done everything to ensure that it gains ‘full spectrum dominance’ of the planet. Edward Snowden’s releasing of classified information about the US’s activities did little to undermine this view. If Snowden achieved anything, it was to shatter any claims about the US being the model of democracy it likes to portray itself as whereby the individual is king and the state takes a back seat.


But wait a minute. Isn’t that view a bit extreme? In recent times, haven’t developments such as the internet come to play a vital in strengthening democracy by empowering the individual? On one level, this is true. The internet and social media provide a vehicle for self expression, and there is also the convenience of carrying out various practical tasks online. Many have put their heart and soul into the internet, and their lives revolve around tweeting, liking, disliking, sharing, mobile apps and ‘press to purchase’. We have been encouraged to place our trust in the corporations that we give our information to and have thus handed over all kinds of personal details to Facebook, Google and any number of companies.


It wasn’t always this way. The older generation can remember back to when a handful of TV and radio stations existed, snail mail was king and friends were people you personally knew and interacted with face to face. But now, everything is just a highly convenient click away and people have so many ‘friends’ that it’s astonishing. Online friends, that is - often distant acquaintances, usually ‘friends’ of ‘friends’ (virtual strangers who become virtual friends), whom they divulge all kinds of details to and share photos, feelings and much more with. In a quest for convenience and self expression, people have inadvertently surrendered their privacy and identities to that benign sounding realm ‘cyber space’. Information is flying about the place left, right and centre. But who controls it and what is done with it?


Edward Snowden shed light on such questions by exposing what some already suspected: no matter where we may reside in the world, we are potentially being listened to, watched and monitored by the National Security Agency (NSA) in the US (or its counterpart in the UK). The internet is not the empowering tool that many thought it was. During the past year, we discovered that the NSA has either colluded with a range of large corporations that many trusted, or has somehow hacked into their digital databases. Courtesy of Edward Snowden, we found that our emails, phone conversations, internet and social media activities and physical movements are on file and available to be scrutinised at will. Our likes, dislikes, shares, political allegiances and activities, purchases, holiday destinations and personal feelings are all in the public domain to be tapped into.


While buying into all of those lofty libertarian ideals about the digital age being personally liberating, many were duped into handing over their personal information to those who have the power to strip us of our freedoms. The NSA has captured ‘cyber space’ and taken the keys to people’s digital homes. Ironically, they naively delivered them to it on a silver platter.


Former NSA employer Snowden blew the lid off the whole NSA data surveillance industry. He also blew the lid off how Big Brother USA spies on governments and the personal conversations of national leaders, both friend and foe alike, and disregards laws in order to access information as and when it deems fit.


All of this is an ugly truth that the US wanted to keep from us. As a result, Snowden became Washington’s public enemy number one. Before having his passport revoked, he fled to Hong Kong then Moscow. The US did everything it could to capture him and prevent further embarrassing revelations, even going as far to orchestrate the hijacking of the Bolivian president’s plane as it flew over Europe because it was thought Snowden may have been on board. After being in limbo inside Moscow airport for weeks, Snowden was finally granted asylum by Russia.


Snowden’s revelations should be of great concern to us all. It is not that we are just being monitored, it is that the internet is increasingly being centralised in the hands of certain key companies under the control of a few governments, with the US having the means to control the major transit routes that comprise the core of the net. The NSA has set out to control the internet from day one and can increasingly determine what we can access online.

  

And let’s not forget that other info warrior WikiLeaks’s Julian Assange, who also released sensitive information about US activities and remains on Washington’s ‘most wanted’ list. He spent all of 2013 in the small Ecuadorian embassy in London. Ecuador might have granted him asylum, but the British are not letting him go to the airport any time soon.


The Syrian crisis


Another key battle over information and trust occurred over Syria. The US became the self-appointed judge, jury and executioner and wanted to bomb Syria for the good of all peace loving people across the world in the name of preventing terror - so the White House’s spin machine would have liked us to believe. Many may not realise that a prelude to World War Three was possibly on the cards when the US threatened to bomb Damascus. Although difficult to confirm, some reports alleged that two missiles were actually launched from its warships in the Mediterranean, or possibly by Israel. They were supposedly shot down by the Russians who also had ships stationed there (as did the Chinese). In any case, tensions were high, and Russia was standing firm in its defence of Syria.


Barack Obama wanted to intervene, in a ‘humanitarian’ sense, because the Assad government had allegedly carried out a chemical weapons attack on its own people. That there was no evidence Assad was responsible seemed to matter little as Washington’s PR people went into overdrive, just like they did in 2003 over Iraq’s non-existent weapons of mass destruction. But thankfully reason prevailed this time, not least in the British parliament, which voted not to get involved with attacking Syria. And given that no one could produce hard evidence to support US claims (not even Washington) about the said chemical weapons attack, Obama had to back down.


The whole scenario rested on information and trust. Did we trust the information being presented by the US? Since the 2003 invasion of Iraq, which was based on what British MP George Galloway called a ‘pack of lies’, people are less inclined to rush to support US-led wars, and the internet has especially become a hotbed for the articulation of dissent. In this respect, Edward Snowden’s revelations are thus highly pertinent, given the US’s mass surveillance of almost everything online and Washington’s (and probably most governments) increasingly sophisticated attempts to control public access to content.


The rise of Narendra Modi


And so to India and the man of the moment - Narendra Modi, who was also at the centre of a battle for hearts and minds during the year. A wholly divisive figure or a shining beacon of hope for India? A hero of development in Gujarat or a case of spin triumphing over reality. Again, it was all about PR, perception and trust. One thing became clear during 2013, however; Modi was able to cement his phenomenal rise to the pinnacle of Indian politics.


While many hold Modi personally responsible for the killings and abuses that took place in Gujarat back in 2002, he has in some quarters succeeded in forwarding the message that his state is a shining example of development and that he is a suitable candidate for PM. Despite his many detractors, he has succeeded in securing a mass support base, especially among middle class youth.  


The future is bright, the future is Modi? Do you trust him? By early November, it was clear that his 960,000 followers on Google plus did. And it was clear that six million ‘likes’ on his official ‘fan page’ on Facebook did. On that page, it says: “the man endeared as a visionary & an untiring, selfless worker who has made Gujarat the cynosure of all eyes across the world.”


The future is definitely bright and we should certainly trust him, if we are to believe all the PR. And in this day and age, PR matters. It is impossible for everyone to have direct knowledge about everything that is happening in the world, so we turn to the media to inform us. But there are some heavy duty players at work, including- PR firms, lobbyists, image consultants and suchlike, whose sole aim is to get some highly distorted versions of ‘the truth’ into the public domain. And Modi has for some time had a genuine heavyweight on his side - the US-based PR/lobby giant APCO Worldwide.


This firm has been instrumental in helping to give Modi a timely and much needed makeover, remarketing him as prime ministerial material and globally promoting Brand Modi and Brand Gujarat. It culminated in 2013 with Modi being selected as the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate for the 2014 Indian general election.   


And so to everything else


There were numerous prominent deaths during 2013. The two biggest were arguably those of Nelson Mandela and Margaret Thatcher. Mandela’s struggle against the barbaric apartheid regime in South Africa was inspirational for millions across the world. After being imprisoned by the regime for 27 years, he eventually rose to become PM of post-apartheid South Africa. His death united people in grief. Eulogies came from all sides of the political spectrum.


Former British PM Margaret Thatcher was granted a lavish funeral and her coffin was paraded through the streets of London. This upset many because her time as PM left deep wounds, which her passing served to reopen. For her supporters, she saved Britain from economic meltdown. However, regardless of the eulogies following her death, or probably because of them, many people vented some very bitter sentiments about Britain’s first woman PM and her social and economic legacies.


Nelson Mandela and Margaret Thatcher were towering political figures. For different reasons, their deaths evoked some deep-seated feelings.


What else happened during the year? 2013 saw India and Pakistan still ‘skirmishing’, the Kumbh Mela in Allahabad, droughts in Maharashtra and various crashes, crushes, bombings and blasts across the country. Many metro projects moved forward in a number of cities. Flash floods and landslides in Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh claimed the lives of more than 5,700 people and trapped more than 20,000.


The perpetrators of that horrendous rape aboard a bus in Delhi were finally sentenced, and the controversial Koodankulam nuclear plant in Tamil Nadu became partially operational. Sachin decided to hang up his test match bat, Tehelka made headlines of its own for all the wrong reasons and the fodder scam from the nineties finally caught up with Lalu.


Typhoons lashed India and devastated the Philippines and French troops went into resource-rich Mali and stayed. A meteor exploded over the Russian city of Chelyabinsk, injuring 1,491 people and damaging over 4,300 buildings, ‘austerity’ continued in Europe and the US was still printing dollars like they are going out of fashion. They might be, given the ongoing rush to buy gold by various countries and talk of replacing the dollar as the world’s reserve currency.


A building collapsed in Bangladesh killing 1,129 and injuring 2,500. It was the third worst industrial accident ever. And there was high-profile political turmoil  in Ukraine, Thailand, Egypt and Turkey. There was even a glimpse of a major thaw in US-Iran relations.


Many things happened that were unreported or under - reported, not least because they were not deemed ‘newsworthy’. For example, candlelit marches in Delhi are headline grabbing, the ongoing tragedy affecting Indian farmers is not. The IPL is extremely newsworthy, Irom Sharmila’s cause is not.  


And the same may be said about this particular look back. Some occurrences have been included, many have not. Any write up is bound to be partial and subjective. Ask ten different people to write about the year just gone and you would probably get ten totally different narratives.


However, this particular look back has been very apt because it had much in common with 2013. It was long and winding, had some interesting highlights (hopefully) and went over in a flash. But the biggest thing it has in common with 2013 - it’s finally over

.



Cover Your Webcam With a Post-It Note

Protect Yourself from Big Brother We noted in June that the single most important thing you can do to protect yourself from government spying is to realize that the NSA can turn on your cellphone or laptop’s videocamera and microphone … Continue reading

Cover Your Webcam With a Post-It Note was originally published on Washington's Blog

Obama Flowers

"Uh, how much are the flowers? Well uh...How much you got?"I found this on a friends facebook page. I'm not sure who is the author, but kudos to them! Thought I'd share....Big Brother knows best. ,,,,, Welcome to Obama FlowersNovember 26, 2013 at 11:04...

From the Summer of Love to the Arab Spring

Those who believe that the world of being is governed by luck or chance and that it depends upon material causes are far removed from the divine and from the notion of the One.
— Plotinus

On May 27, 2010 the planet Uranus entered Aries and in December of that same year, in Tunisia, Tarek Bouazizi self-immolated himself after his electronic scale and the fruit he had bought on credit were confiscated from him by a corrupt policewoman.  That spark sent flames throughout the Middle East, toppling regimes from Libya to Yemen.  Uranus would make its definitive entry into Aries on the fateful day of March 11, 2011, coinciding almost to the hour with the earthquake and ensuing disaster at Fukushima.  Aries is the first sign of the zodiac and the most self driven while Uranus is the planet that represents revolution, innovation and change- together they make a radical, ego driven cocktail.

Uranus reflects many of the traits of the time it was discovered, 1781, when the American Revolution was in full bloom and the French variant was ready to boil over.  The last time the restless Uranus had passed through the cardinal sign of Aries was between 1927 and 1935, a time when two of the most revolutionary (Uranus), and megalomaniacal (Aries) leaders in history consolidated power.  Uranus will not definitively leave Aries until March 6, 2019,  by which time the world will have undergone profound changes.  We cannot say with certainty whether another calamitous dictator will appear on the world stage, but, at least in the West, we are devoid of inspired political, cultural and spiritual leadership and someone with exceptional qualities could become the focal point of a world thirsty for meaning and direction.

On one level, astrology is understanding cycles and knowing how to distinguish relevant themes from the noise.  Astrologically speaking, the synodic cycle between Uranus and Pluto lasts approximately 128 years, which means that it takes that much time for the two planets to circle each other once.  Since Uranus (84 year orbit around the sun) moves much faster than Pluto (245 year orbit around  the sun) the synodic cycle describes how long it takes Uranus to ‘lap’ Pluto in their ‘race’ around our star.  Astrologers measure these events from the moment the two planets are exactly together (conjunct) and pay special attention to when the two planets are at hard angles:  opposed to each other (180 degrees) and square (45 degrees).  The story begins with the conjunction and slowly unfolds at the first square, reaches a climax at the opposition, and resolves itself at the second square before coming full circle and beginning again.

The Pluto/Uranus Cycle


This current synodic cycle between Pluto and Uranus began when the two planets met between 1962 and 1968 in the sign of Virgo.  A conjunction in astrology refers to a more congenial blend of the planetary forces, but in the case of these two transpersonal superpowers, even when cooperating, their force can seem overwhelming.  Uranus is the symbol of revolt, change and technical innovation while Pluto is the lord of death and debt- the cosmic enforcer and the ultimate symbol of power.

When these two met in the 1960’s all hell broke loose.  Pluto waged war in Vietnam and set off the Cultural Revolution in China while Uranus instigated the sexual revolution, the Civil Rights Movement, the May of 1968 unrest in France, the Prague Spring, and the space age.  Some would say the dark Plutonian forces won out when the Prague Spring was crushed, the Kennedys and Martin Luther King were assassinated just as the Uranian energy was devolving into Mansonian madness.  The Apollo Program was one of the few areas where the Uranian revolutionary technology meshed well with Plutonian brute force.  But each planet also reached into the sphere of the other, the helicopter in Vietnam had a very Uranian flavor to it while the gods of Rock & Roll certainly had a Plutonian, underworld feel to them.

The key to unraveling where we are now is to uncover the seeds sown in the 1960’s and discover what fruits they have borne so far and how these forces will continue to interact, albeit in a more antagonistic and adversarial way as we pass through a long series of squares.  Pluto is now in Capricorn, the sign of governments, armies, corporations, bureaucracy and culture.  Pluto is certainly at home wielding all this power and the Plutonian compulsion to vaporize all that is weak, superfluous and temporary is implacable.  Just as Pluto entered Capricorn for the first time in January of 2008 the financial crisis began, and by his second entry into Capricorn in November of 2008 the world financial system was teetering on the edge of disaster.

As Pluto was shaking out the fraudulent bankers like a mafia Don knocking off underlings who had their hands stuck in the cookie jar, Uranus in Aries was creating a quirky brand of revolutionaries such as Julian Assange, Chelsea Manning and Eric Snowden.  The police state that emerged out of 9/11 has a very strong Plutonian flavor which is being opposed by this eccentric band of techno-freedom fighters very much in the Uranian mold.

On November 1, 2013 we reached the apex, or fourth of the seven direct squares between Pluto and Uranus, where the two planets will be at an exact 45 degree angles to each other.  Four was the number of endings, of life without spirit for the ancients, and dividing the 360 degree zodiac into four gives us the most malignant of aspects, the 90 degree square.  On the other hand, the zodiacal circle divided by the benefic number three gives us the most harmonious aspect of 120 degrees, or a trine.

Adding emphasis to the importance of this moment, we had a total solar eclipse on November 3, 2013 in the very Plutonian sign of Scorpio which could portend a resolution much like the one we had in the 1960’s.  The cosmic call to attention will become even more intense in December with the ominous entrance of the comet ISON, which could potentially put on a brilliant show across the winter nights. The last exact square of Pluto and Uranus will be in March of 2015, at which point the two planets will move apart and the cycle will look for new themes when the planets reach opposition in 2043.



What will be the outcome of this great battle?  One place to look is the last time Pluto was in Capricorn, over two hundred and thirty-years ago during the American Revolution.  At that time the strong hands were the colonists who overcame the weight of the of Capricornian British Empire, but they had someone on their side, which was Jupiter.  Jupiter is Zeus, the great benefic, giver of good fortune, opposing Pluto in Capricorn.  Jupiter was in Cancer during the American Revolution. Cancer is a very feminine, lunar sign representing the individual, the home, roots and directly opposes the authority and bureaucracy of Capricorn.

The United States has come full circle and once again, as in 1776, we have Jupiter in Cancer, and Pluto in Capricorn, only this time, instead of the enemy being the British Empire, the enemy is the US Government itself, with its NSA, CIA, Federal Reserve, and military sprawled across the world reeking havoc and chaos on the entire planet.  But it seems clear, especially after the failed attempt to attack Syria, that US power is on the wane and some major event will drive home the need for a change of the global guard.

The plan to attack Syria had a definite Plutonian flavor, not only through the gruesome massacres and filmed barbaric acts, but with the way many governments of the world quickly closed ranks to carry out the attack on Assad.  Only the Uranian rebelliousness of the British Parliament and the American voters stopped them short.  But as the sixties showed, Pluto can never be stopped, only momentarily diverted.  What started in Libya as Uranian restlessness wound up in a horrific, filmed and very Plutonian fratricide.  How will Pluto counterattack in Syria? We should remember that Pluto was discovered in 1930;  the historic background of the Depression and the rise of fascism should give us pause when considering the essence of Pluto’s meaning.

This tension will come to a head on April 20, 2014, when Jupiter in Cancer goes head to head in opposition (180 degrees) with Pluto in Capricorn, with both planets square (45 degrees) Uranus in Aires.  Astrologers refer to this aspect as a T-Square, and it is considered the most tense and conflictive aspect that three planets can form.  The Plutonian force is the NSA scooping up every email and phone conversation in the world; Pluto has no limits, and as he works his way through Capricorn, the sign of time and culture, he is shredding all the false claims of security and patriotism.  He is the Egyptian military storming its way back into power, he is the Saudis doing all that is necessary to oust the Assad regime in Syria.  Pluto doesn't do body counts.  It was Pluto who wiped Osama bin Laden off the face of the earth without trace.

Uranus is the Middle Eastern youth tired of oppression and corruption, facing down the old regime, he's the Occupy Movement and the mad rush for technology.  He’s Eric Snowden escaping to Moscow with thousands of Plutonian files.  Uranus is the upsurgent alternative media that refuses to believe the Plutonian mainstream propaganda.  Something has to give, and that is the beauty of three.


Esoterically, the unity of ones falls into the duality of two, which becomes the resolution of three.  Jupiter, the philosophical benefic, friend of man, is in Cancer where he is exalted.  Exaltation in astrology means the sign where a planet reaches its higher resonance.  The beauty and love of Venus becomes the love of God in Pisces.  The violence of Mars becomes a standing army in Capricorn, and Jupiter’s genius, philosophy and pride serve man in Cancer.  Maybe we saw Jupiter's hand in the diffusing of the American attack on Syria, though one shouldn't count Pluto out on that score;  he’ll be back to try to complete his agenda.  Jupiter is Zeus, the ruler of the Olympians, including Pluto, and through his higher thinking there still might be a way out.

The easy answer is to call for the much lauded happy medium- a little Uranian eccentric individualism, a smattering of Plutonian force behind Capricornian order, and of course the Jupiterian law and philosophy aiding the man in his Cancerian home.  But a battle of this magnitude will not end in a smoke filled room but rather a bloody, smoked covered battlefield.  The stakes have become too high.  The Capricornian financial system has created a Plutocracy never before witnessed and this regime will either conquer all or be conquered, there is no negotiating with Pluto; it will be winner take all.

The concentration of  power that we are witnessing in the world, financially, culturally and militarily, in many ways is a direct result of the Uranian technological advances of the 20th century.  We can see the Uranus/Pluto relationship perfectly in the Internet.  On one hand it’s anarchistic and liberating, but by the same token it allows the Plutonian Big Brother a clear view directly into almost every moment of our lives.

For the United States nothing captured the Uranus/Pluto conjunction of the Summer of Love better than the Uranian liberation of Haight-Ashbury and the Plutonian violence of the Vietnam War. The Uranian desire for change and innovation led spiritual seekers of the sixties to turn their acid trips into PC’s and the Internet, while the humbled military industrial complex bounced back, putting soldiers in over eighty countries and killing people by remote control.  Both of these forces have made enormous strides in the dehumanization of man, from Chinese factories to Wall Street speculators, even to the point where West Coast, Uranian hipsters are playing footsie with the NSA by giving them access to literally all of humanities digital communications.  The answer to this truly Cardinal T-Square is Jupiter, Lord of Olympus, wielding his thunderbolts from the very personal and human sign of Cancer.

Astrology is very much like Schrodinger's cat in that until we open the door, we don’t know whether the poor feline is alive or dead.  The same goes with this T-Square.  Only by actively seeking an answer in the cardinal sign of Cancer, temporary home to Jupiter, will the options begin to emerge.  The consciousness we bring to it will create not only the solutions but the synchronicities that confirm them.

We have lost a central belief that the ancients intrinsically understood- that the world is alive and has a soul. They felt the world breath and saw its life force reflected in the world’s soul, the Anima Mundi.  Our modern dogmatic religion, science, refuses to accept that the earth is alive and has a meaning interwoven with its existence just as each and every one of us knows that our lives have purpose.  For dogmatic materialists, astrology is as absurd as the idea of the soul itself.  For them, the world is a dead rock, an arbitrary spark in a meaningless sea of chaos.

The meaning we give, and the connection we make between our lives and the earth's life will finally confirm the reality we help create by unmistakable signs in the heavens and on earth.  We treat dogs differently then we do rocks and we approach a plant more subtly than we do a hill of sand.  What astrology is begging us to remember is that not only are we alive, but so is the earth, our solar system, our galaxy and our universe. When we finally see ourselves as living beings, fractals of what is above, reflections of what is below, only then will we find our way.

Cancer represents the most basic feminine principle of form and being.  By denying that our very home and common mother breaths the same life we do has allowed us to drift so far on this misguided, patriarchal adventure.  The wisdom of Jupiter illuminating the primeval feminine Cancer might awaken us again to this long forgotten truth.

As we feel more and more squeezed between the financial, militaristic, and corporate Plutocracy on one hand, and the gadgetized, ever evolving, egocentric and meaningless technological void of Uranus on the other, Jupiter in Cancer may well help us re-encounter our common soul, Anima Mundi.

One analogy used by Graham Hancock is that of televisions.  Are we all creating and watching our own programming, or are we receiving a cosmic signal and each decoding it in our own manner?  If we reject the unique separation model, than our true selves lie in the signal, not the dumb terminal of the mind.  Awakening to our unified soul against a materialistically dogmatic backdrop is the great challenge of our time. What type of cosmic event could change our focus, moving us away from the mundane to the cosmic?

If there is coherent meaning to our existence, then there are meaningful coincidences, or synchronicities, as Jung called them.  On February 11, 2013, with the Sun in the sign of Aquarius, which many modern astrologers designate as ruled by Uranus, Pope Benedict XVI announced that he was resigning.  The most widely recognized symbol of Western dogmatic spirituality would resign by his own accord for the first time in over 700 years.  The next day, as if for emphasis, a lightning bolt struck the top of St. Peter’s Basilica.  Four days after the papal resignation, a meteor exploded over the skies of  Chelyabinsk in the Russian Urals, shattering thousands of windows, sending over 1,400 people to the hospital and for a few moments creating a light brighter than the sun.  Uranus made its case in the opening salvos of the year in his sign, Aquarius, so what will Pluto bring us as the sun moves through Scorpio, the sign many consider to be ruled by him?

With the Sun in Scorpio, on November 1st we had the fourth exact square between Uranus and Pluto and on November 3rd a total solar eclipse.  What other events could await us as we reach the peak of activity for the current Solar cycle?  It wouldn't be surprising if in the final weeks of Scorpio we were given one more synchronicity, one more reminder that our souls lie beyond our heads, the circus that captivates us and the money we so desperately seek.  One more powerful synchronicity might reawaken the awareness of our common soul and liberate us from the prison of false isolation.  One potent sign born out of the cosmic duality that moves our attention upward and beyond the mundane with such a powerful force that few could doubt its significance.


Robert Bonomo is a blogger, novelist and esotericist.  Download his latest novel, Your Love Incomplete, for free here.

Police State Britain


Police State Britain

by Stephen Lendman

Britain's Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) operates like NSA. They work cooperatively. They're out-of-control rogue agencies. 

They spy on their own populations. They do it globally. They conduct espionage. They collect enormous amounts of personal information. They do it illegally. 

Obama wages war on freedom. He targets whistleblowers and investigative journalists exposing government wrongdoing. So does Britain. It equates doing so with terrorism.

London's Guardian is threatened. Its offices were raided. Hard drive stored information was destroyed. Its editor, Alan Rusbridger, was warned. Cease and desist or else.

He asked if steps would be taken "to close down the Guardian's reporting through a legal route - by going to court to force the surrender of the material on which we were working."

"The official confirmed that, in the absence of handover or destruction, this was indeed the government's intentions."

It was "one of the more bizarre moments in the Guardian's long history," he said. It was likely the most chilling.

Two GCHQ security experts oversaw the destruction of Guardian hard drives. They checked to be sure nothing but "mangled bits of metal" remained.

Whitehall was satisfied. Freedom in Britain sustained another body blow. It's fast disappearing like in America. Both nations are more police states than democracies. 

They mock virtually all democratic principles. They govern lawlessly. They do it ruthlessly. Sweeping surveillance is official policy. So is suppressing information about government wrongdoing.

Journalists involved in exposing it are threatened. Guardian disclosures fall under parliament's Intelligence and Security Committee's remit. 

It reinforces government claims about compromising national security. When good journalism is equated with doing it, freedom dies.

Guardian contributors are targeted for doing their job. Doing so amounts to state censorship. Warnings about prosecutions and imprisonments follow.

Free expression is the most important of all rights. Without it, all others at risk. On the bogus pretext of fighting terrorism, America and Britain want none of their lawless activities exposed.

On August 18, UK authorities detained Glenn Greenwald's partner, David Miranda, at Heathrow Airport.

He was held incommunicado for nine hours. He was denied legal counsel. A counterterrorism law pretext was used to do so. 

He was in transit from Berlin to Rio de Janeriro. He threatened no one. He violated no laws. It didn't matter. 

His laptop, cell phone, camera, memory sticks, DVDs and game consoles were confiscated. It was done lawlessly. Police states operate this way. 

London's Observer said Miranda was detained "for promoting 'political' causes." His detention shone "new light on the Metropolitan police's explanation for invoking terrorism powers - a decision critics have called draconian."

London's Mirror headlined "David Miranda detention shows UK is becoming a police state." Targeting him "shows just how determined the security services are to get the upper hand."

"Big Brother isn't just watching you. He knows which plane you're on, where you're traveling, and he's in close contact with Big Daddy across the water in Washington."

It "illustrates the general point that we are now living in a security state."

"Historically, the national interest has always been what's good for the government, not what's right for the people." 

It's more than ever true today. State-of-the-art technology makes it easy. So do rogue politicians wanting unchallenged control.

Greenwald called detaining his partner "a failed attempt at intimidation." I'll have the opposite effect, he said. Virtually never are in transit passengers detained like Miranda.

Schedule 7 of Britain's Terrorism Act says "fewer than 3 people in every 10,000 are examined as they pass through UK borders." Over 97% of examinations last under an hour. 

Individuals are questioned regarding possible involvement "in the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism."

Miranda didn't enter Britain. He was en route to Rio. Targeting him was unrelated to terrorism. It was intimidation. It was harassment. Downing Street was directly involved.

It sent a message. Responsible journalism exposing government wrongdoing is threatened. Authorities want it entirely eliminated.

Miranda was released uncharged. Journalists, editors, human rights lawyers and civil libertarians expressed outrage over what happened. Doing so reflects police state harshness.

UK Metropolitan police lied saying:

"Holding and properly using intelligence gained from such stops is a key part of fighting crime, pursuing offenders and protecting the public."

Police states justify lawlessness this way. Miranda was threatened. He was treated like a criminal. 

He was told he faced prosecution if he didn't cooperate. He did nothing wrong. It didn't matter. It got worse.

On September 6, Britain's high court said government authorities could continue examining materials seized from him. 

They could do it to determine if he violated Britain's Terrorism and Official Secrets Acts. UK courts lack independence like America's. 

They support the worst of government practices. They rubber-stamp some of the most outrageous acts. They violate fundamental freedoms doing so.

On November 2, Reuters headlined "NSA Leaks Journalist Glenn Greenwald's Partner Accused of 'Terrorism,' 'Espionage.' 

After returning to Rio, Miranda filed suit. He wants lawlessly seized materials returned.

"At a London court hearing a document called a 'Ports Circulation Sheet' was read into the record." 

"It was prepared by Scotland Yard - in consultation with the MI5 counterintelligence agency."

It said "(i)intelligence indicates that Miranda is likely to be involved in espionage activity which has the potential to act against the interests of UK national security."

"We assess that Miranda is knowingly carrying material the release of which would endanger people's lives." 

"Additionally the disclosure, or threat of disclosure, is designed to influence a government and is made for the purpose of promoting a political or ideological cause. This therefore falls within the definition of terrorism."

Miranda wasn't charged. At least not so far. He remains threatened. He may become as much at risk as Edward Snowden.

A hearing on Miranda's legal challenge is scheduled this week. During a preparatory session days earlier, "new details of how and why British authorities (targeted him) were made public…"

Materials authorities seized allegedly included 58,000 NSA and GCHQ documents. In an email to Reuters, Greenwald said:

"For all the lecturing it doles out to the world about press freedoms, the UK offers virtually none. They are absolutely and explicitly equating terrorism with journalism."

On October 31, German lawmaker Hans-Christian Stroebele met with Edward Snowden. He did so in Moscow. He released a letter he wrote. In part, it said:

"I have been invited to write to you regarding your investigation of mass surveillance."

"I believe I witnessed systemic violations of law by my government that created a moral duty to act." 

"As a result of reporting these concerns, I have faced a severe and sustained campaign of persecution that forced me from my family and home."

"Citizens around the world as well as high officials - including in the United States - have judged the revelation of an unaccountable system of pervasive surveillance to be a public service."

"Though the outcome of my efforts has been demonstrably positive, my government continues to treat dissent as defection, and seeks to criminalize political speech with felony charges that provide no defense."

"(S)peaking truth is not a crime." He thanked supporters for their "efforts in upholding the international laws that protect us all."

Not in America or Britain. In a document read into the public record, Britain's MI5 said:

"Our main objectives against David Miranda are to understand the nature of any material he is carrying (so as to) mitigate the risks to national security that this material poses."

A UK Washington spokesperson had no comment. Equating good journalism with terrorism shows Britain will stop at nothing to keep government wrongdoing secret.

Doing so shows how low Britain has sunk. Its stripped off facade reveals dark side tyranny. 

Britain's Terrorism Law provides wide latitude. Its terrorism definition includes a "use or threat designed to influence the government (or international governmental organization)."

It's "made for the purpose of advancing a political, religious, or ideological cause."

It does so if it "endangers a person's life, other than that of the person committing the action (and) creates a serious risk to the health or safety of the public or a section of the public."

Most chilling is that UK security services, on their own, can decide if legitimate journalism is terrorism or its equivalent.

They can do so without publicly releasing materials allegedly able to compromise national security. They can pronounce guilt on their say alone. They can get courts to rubber-stamp their accusations. 

It's much the same in America. Government whistleblowers are threatened. They're fraudulently charged under the long ago outdated Espionage Act. 

It's a WW I relic. It belongs in history's dustbin. It's unrelated to exposing government wrongdoing. Revealing it is equated with aiding the enemy.

The so-called "enemy" apparently is "we the people." Our fundamental constitutional rights are threatened. Upholding them is what courts are supposed to do.

Not in America. Not in Britain. Terrorism or acts relating to it are what both governments say they are.

On July 30, Bradley Manning was wrongfully convicted on 20 of 22 bogus charges. He never had a chance. 

He was judged guilty by accusation. He got 35 years imprisonment for acting responsibly. 

It's by far the harshest ever punishment for leaking information everyone has a right to know.

Washington wants Edward Snowden prosecuted the same way. Russia granted him political asylum.

Whether he'll stay free remains to be seen. He's America's public enemy number one. Safety is his main concern. 

He's got good reason to worry. He's a wanted man. He knows how NSA operates. It'll try monitoring him every way possible.

Whether he'll stay free from its tracking remains to be seen. The same is true for everyone.

America and Britain are ruthless. They're unforgiving. They want unchallenged power. They want no one compromising it. 

They want government wrongdoing suppressed. UK Prime Minister David Cameron threatened Britain's media with injunctions or so-called D (Defense Advisory) notices. 

They're official requests not to publish or broadcast information for reasons of national security.

London's Guardian and Miranda remain in limbo. Criminal charges could follow. Responsible journalism is threatened. 

It bears repeating. Equating it with terrorism shows how low Britain has sunk. The same holds for America. Police state justice prevails.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at [email protected] 

His new book is titled "Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity."

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanII.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs Fridays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour

http://www.dailycensored.com/police-state-britain/

NSA Spies on Pope


NSA Spies on Pope

by Stephen Lendman

NSA spies on world leaders, so why not? Even the Holy See isn't spy proof. It's not off limits. 

Pope Francis is monitored. Most likely Benedict XVI. Perhaps John Paul II through at least some of his papacy. NSA spies globally. No one's safe from its intrusive eye.

On October 30, the Italian publication Panorama headlined "Esclusiva Panorama: Datagate, anche il Papa è stato intercettato (Exclusive Panorama: Datagate, even the Pope was intercepted).

Reuters covered the story. On October 30, it headlined "Italian magazine says US spies listened to pope, Vatican says unaware." 

Internal Vatican communications are monitored. So are phone calls from the Domus Sanctae Marthae. It's Pope Francis' current home. It's where cardinals reside during papal conclaves.

NSA's interest was monitoring "leadership intentions," financial system threats, "foreign policy objectives," and "human rights." Vatican Bank president Ernst von Freyberg's calls were intercepted.

Francis was monitored when he was Buenos Aires archbishop. Doing so suggests all high-ranking prelates are watched globally. 

US embassies virtually everywhere are infested with spies. They operate covertly as diplomatic staff. Snowden-released documents revealed Rome has an elite spying unit. So do other major European capitals.

Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said: "We are not aware of anything on this issue, and in any case we have no concerns about it."

Whether or not Vatican officials knew is one thing. For sure, no one wants to be spied on.

NSA head Keith Alexander repeatedly lies. Director of National Intelligence (DNI) James Clapper is an admitted perjurer. Take everything they both say with a grain of salt.

On October 30, NSA spokesperson Vanee Vines likely lied saying:

"The National Security Agency does not target the Vatican. Assertions that NSA has (done so), published by Italy's Panorama magazine, are not true."

Allegations followed the Cryptome digital library web site reporting NSA collecting 124.8 billion phone calls monthly. It said 46 million were intercepted in Italy from December 2012 through early January 2013 alone.

Panorama said the "National Security Agency wiretapped the pope…(T)he great American ear" never sleeps. Calls to and from the Vatican are monitored. Big Brother intercepts prelate conversations routinely. 

For sure following Pope Benedict's February 28 resignation through the papal conclave convened to elect his successor. Conversations of future Pope Francis were likely monitored.

The former Archbishop Jorge Mario Bergoglio was a person of interest since at least 2005. He was considered a potential future papal candidate.

Sistine chapel discussions relating to electing new popes are especially kept secret. A special system scrambles cell phone calls. Anyone caught breaking the sacred trust faces excommunication.

NSA reportedly intercepted communications relating to the 2012 Vatileaks scandal. It exposed high-level corruption. Documents were leaked to Italian journalists.

Paolo Gabriele became a person of interest. He was Benedict XVI's personal secretary. He leaked his confidential letters and memos.

They revealed papal finances, bribes, other corruption, and abuse of power. Gabriele was hung out to dry. He was arrested, tried and convicted. 

He got 18 months in prison. He was ordered to pay legal expenses. On December 22, 2012, Benedict pardoned him. 

Michael Parenti's "God and His Demons" makes compelling reading. He confronted the religious right, saying:

"The god of the Holy Bible - so much adored in the United States and elsewhere - is ferociously vindictive, neurotically jealous, intolerant, vainglorious, punitive, wrathful, sexist, racist, xenophobic, homophobic, sadistic and homicidal." 

"As they say, it's all in the Bible. Beware of those who act in the name of such a god." 

"Were we to encounter these vicious traits in an ordinary man, we would judge him to be in need of lifelong incarceration at a maximum-security facility." 

"At the very least, we would not prattle on about how he works his wonders in mysterious ways. In fact, 'biblical Jesus qualifies quite well as founder and forerunner of an intolerant Christianity."

"That 'old-time religion' is still very much with us and having a considerable impact on US political life."

Parenti was unforgiving. He challenged iconic religious figures. He exposed their dark sides. He included Mother Teresa, Pope John Paul II, and Tibetan Buddhism.

John Paul II "remained up to his ears in counter-revolutionary politics in Latin America and elsewhere," he said. 

He "directed no critical attacks against right-wing dictatorships." He called them "bulwarks against communist revolution."

He intervened on behalf of Chilean despot Augusto Pinochet. At the time, he was under house arrest in London.

Parenti's book was written before Archbishop Jorge Mario Bergoglio became Pope Francis. He was very much involved in Argentina's dirty war.

Prelates denouncing human rights abuses anywhere is considered taboo. Dirty war survivors accused Bergoglio of complicity with what demanded condemnation.

Vatican policy isn't pretty. Francis wasn't elected to change things. Washington wants policy everywhere kept in lockstep with US policy. 

NSA spying relates to discovering potential outliers. US policy makers can then act before harm is done.

Snowden documents revealed spying on millions of Italian citizens. It was thought perhaps popes and Vatican officials were off-limits. It bears repeating. NSA spies on world leaders.

Vatican city is a sovereign city-state. Popes have head of state status. They have diplomatic immunity like presidents and prime ministers. 

So do Vatican officials, papal nuncios, cardinals and other high-ranking Holy See Diplomatic Service prelates. They're more than religious figures. 

They're politically involved. They're well connected. What they say and think matters. They influence great numbers of parishioners.

Separately, Snowden documents revealed NSA secretly intercepted Google and Yahoo communication links connecting their global data centers. 

Doing so lets the agency keep track of hundreds of millions of user accounts. NSA's main tool is called MUSCULAR. It operates jointly with Britain's Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ).

From undisclosed interception points, both agencies copy fiber-optic cable flows. Doing so complements NSA's PRISM. 

It has front-door access to Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, Facebook, Apple, YouTube, and other major online companies.

NSA can search histories, emails, file transfers and live chats. They're gotten directly from US provider servers. Doing so facilitates mass surveillance. NSA now has front and back-door access. It takes full advantage.

An NSA statement lied, saying:

it "focus(es) on discovering and developing intelligence about valid foreign intelligence targets only."

It "applies Attorney General-approved processes to protect the privacy of U.S. persons - minimizing the likelihood of their information in our targeting, collection, processing, exploitation, retention, and dissemination."

NSA's mandate is "get it all." Everyone and everything are fair game. Congressional oversight is virtually nonexistent. Obama's in lockstep with NSA policy.

On December 4, 1981, Executive Order 12333, explained NSA/Central Security Service (CSS) responsibilities and purposes. 

It's to provide "(t)imely and accurate information about the activities, capabilities, plans, and intentions of foreign powers, organizations, and persons and their agents, is essential to the national security of the United States." 

"All reasonable and lawful means must be used to ensure that the United States will receive the best intelligence available." Head of operations is charged with:

  • "Collect(ing, including through clandestine means), process, analyze, produce, and disseminate signals intelligence information and data for foreign intelligence and counterintelligence purposes to support national and departmental missions;
  • Acting(ing) as the National Manager for National Security Systems as established in law and policy, and in this capacity be responsible to the Secretary of Defense and to the Director, National Intelligence; (and)

  • Prescrib(ing) security regulations covering operating practices, including the transmission, handling, and distribution of signals intelligence and communications security material within and among the elements under control of the Director of the National Security Agency, and exercise the necessary supervisory control to ensure compliance with the regulations."

On July 31, 2008, EO 12333 was amended to:

  • "Align (it) with the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004;

  • Implement additional recommendations of the 9/11 and WMD Commissions; (and)

  • Further integrate the Intelligence Community and clarify and strengthen the role of DNI as the head of the Community; Maintain or strengthen privacy and civil liberties protections."

By law, NSA’s mission is limited to monitoring, collecting and analyzing foreign communications. Its dual missions include: 

  • the Signals Intelligence Directorate (SID). It relates to foreign intelligence gathering, and 

  • the Information Assurance Directorate (IAD). It protects US information systems.

Rule of law principles are systematically spurned. It's more true now than ever. It's far worse than most people imagine. 

Anything goes reflects policy. NSA is a power unto itself. It does whatever it wants covertly. It does it globally. Obama continues what his predecessors began.

NSA's been around for decades. On June 1, 1952, Harry Truman authorized it. On November 4, 1952, it was established. Its earlier incarnation was a shadow of today's capabilities. Virtually nothing escapes its intrusive eye.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at [email protected] 

His new book is titled "Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity."

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanII.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs Fridays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour

http://www.dailycensored.com/nsa-spies-pope/

A Chip In The Head: Brain Implants Will Be Connecting People To The Internet...

The Future - Cartoon By WellemanWould you like to surf the Internet, make a phone call or send a text message using only your brain?  Would you like to “download” the content of a 500 page book into your memory in less than a second?  Would you like to have extremely advanced nanobots constantly crawling around in your body monitoring it for disease?  Would you like to be able to instantly access the collective knowledge base of humanity wherever you are?  All of that may sound like science fiction, but these are technologies that some of the most powerful high tech firms in the world actually believe are achievable by the year 2020.  However, with all of the potential “benefits” that such technology could bring, there is also the potential for great tyranny.  Just think about it.  What do you think that the governments of the world could do if almost everyone had a mind reading brain implant that was connected to the Internet?  Could those implants be used to control and manipulate us?  Those are frightening things to consider.

For now, most of the scientists that are working on brain implant technology do not seem to be too worried about those kinds of concerns.  Instead, they are pressing ahead into realms that were once considered to be impossible.

Right now, there are approximately 100,000 people around the world that have implants in their brains.  Most of those are for medical reasons.

But this is just the beginning.  According to the Boston Globe, the U.S. government plans “to spend more than $70 million over five years to jump to the next level of brain implants”.

This new project is being called the Systems-Based Neurotechnology for Emerging Therapies (SUBNETS), and the goal is to be able to monitor the “mental health” of soldiers and veterans.  The following is how a recent CNET article described SUBNETS…

SUBNETS is inspired by Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS), a surgical treatment that involves implanting a brain pacemaker in the patient’s skull to interfere with brain activity to help with symptoms of diseases like epilepsy and Parkinson’s. DARPA’s device will be similar, but rather than targeting one specific symptom, it will be able to monitor and analyse data in real time and issue a specific intervention according to brain activity.

This kind of technology is being developed by the private sector as well.  In fact, according to Scientific American scientists are becoming increasingly excited about how brain implants can be used to “reboot” the brains of people with depression…

Psychological depression is more than an emotional state. Good evidence for that comes from emerging new uses for a  technology already widely prescribed for Parkinson’s patients. The more neurologists and surgeons learn about the aptly named deep brain stimulation, the more they are convinced that the currents from the technology’s implanted electrodes can literally reboot brain circuits involved with the mood disorder.

Would you like to have your brain “rebooted” by a chip inside your head?

And of course this is how brain implants will be marketed to the public at first.  They will be sold as something that has great “health benefits”.  For example, one firm has developed a brain implant that can detect and treat epileptic seizures

The NeuroPace RNS is the first implant to listen to brain waves and autonomously decide when to apply a therapy to prevent an epileptic seizure. It was developed by a company with a staff of less than 90 people, only about 30 on the core electronic, mechanical, and software engineering teams.

A different team of researchers has discovered that it can stimulate the repair of brain tissue in rats using brain implants

Stroke and Parkinson’s Disease patients may benefit from a controversial experiment that implanted microchips into lab rats. Scientists say the tests produced effective results in brain damage research.

Rats showed motor function in formerly damaged gray matter after a neural microchip was implanted under the rat’s skull and electrodes were transferred to the rat’s brain. Without the microchip, rats with damaged brain tissue did not have motor function. Both strokes and Parkinson’s can cause permanent neurological damage to brain tissue, so this scientific research brings hope.

Most of us won’t need brain implants for medical reasons though.

So how will they be marketed to the rest of us?

Well, what if you were told that they could give you “super powers”?

Would you want a brain implant then?

The following is a short excerpt from a recent Scientific American article

Our world is determined by the limits of our five senses. We can’t hear pitches that are too high or low, nor can we see ultraviolet or infrared light—even though these phenomena are not fundamentally different from the sounds and sights that our ears and eyes can detect. But what if it were possible to widen our sensory boundaries beyond the physical limitations of our anatomy? In a study published recently in Nature Communications, scientists used brain implants to teach rats to “see” infrared light, which they usually find invisible. The implications are tremendous: if the brain is so flexible it can learn to process novel sensory signals, people could one day feel touch through prosthetic limbs, see heat via infrared light or even develop a sixth sense for magnetic north.

And some very prominent Internet firms simply take it for granted that most of us will eventually have brain implants that connect us directly to the Internet…

Google has a plan. Eventually it wants to get into your brain. “When you think about something and don’t really know much about it, you will automatically get information,” Google CEO Larry Page said in Steven Levy’s book, “In the Plex: How Google Thinks, Works and Shapes Our Lives.” “Eventually you’ll have an implant, where if you think about a fact, it will just tell you the answer.”

At this point you might be thinking that this will never happen because getting a brain implant is a very complicated and expensive procedure.

Well, according to an article in the Wall Street Journal, that is not actually true.  In fact, the typical procedure is very quick and often only requires just an overnight stay in the hospital…

Neural implants, also called brain implants, are medical devices designed to be placed under the skull, on the surface of the brain. Often as small as an aspirin, implants use thin metal electrodes to “listen” to brain activity and in some cases to stimulate activity in the brain. Attuned to the activity between neurons, a neural implant can essentially “listen” to your brain activity and then “talk” directly to your brain.

If that prospect makes you queasy, you may be surprised to learn that the installation of a neural implant is relatively simple and fast. Under anesthesia, an incision is made in the scalp, a hole is drilled in the skull, and the device is placed on the surface of the brain. Diagnostic communication with the device can take place wirelessly. When it is not an outpatient procedure, patients typically require only an overnight stay at the hospital.

In the future, the minds of most people could potentially be connected to the Internet 24 hours a day.  Imagine sending an email or answering your phone by just thinking about it.  According to the New York Times, this is where we are eventually heading…

Soon, we might interact with our smartphones and computers simply by using our minds. In a couple of years, we could be turning on the lights at home just by thinking about it, or sending an e-mail from our smartphone without even pulling the device from our pocket. Farther into the future, your robot assistant will appear by your side with a glass of lemonade simply because it knows you are thirsty.

Researchers in Samsung’s Emerging Technology Lab are testing tablets that can be controlled by your brain, using a cap that resembles a ski hat studded with monitoring electrodes, the MIT Technology Review, the science and technology journal of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, reported this month.

The technology, often called a brain computer interface, was conceived to enable people with paralysis and other disabilities to interact with computers or control robotic arms, all by simply thinking about such actions. Before long, these technologies could well be in consumer electronics, too.

So how far away is such technology?

According to a Computer World UK article, Intel believes that they will have Internet-connected brain implants in people’s heads by the year 2020…

By the year 2020, you won’t need a keyboard and mouse to control your computer, say Intel researchers. Instead, users will open documents and surf the web using nothing more than their brain waves.

Scientists at Intel’s research lab in Pittsburgh are working to find ways to read and harness human brain waves so they can be used to operate computers, television sets and cell phones. The brain waves would be harnessed with Intel-developed sensors implanted in people’s brains.

The scientists say the plan is not a scene from a sci-fi movie, Big Brother won’t be planting chips in your brain against your will. Researchers expect that consumers will want the freedom they will gain by using the implant.

And that would only be the tip of the iceberg.  Futurist Ray Kurzweil is actually convinced that we will all eventually have hordes of nanobots running around our bodies monitoring our health and looking for disease…

‘Bridge two (is) the biotechnology revolution, where we can reprogram biology away from disease.

‘And that is not the end-all either.

‘Bridge three is to go beyond biology, to the nanotechnology revolution.

‘At that point we can have little robots, sometimes called nanobots, that augment your immune system.

‘We can create an immune system that recognizes all disease, and if a new disease emerged, it could be reprogrammed to deal with new pathogens.’

Such robots, according to Kurzweil, will help fight diseases, improve health and allow people to remain active for longer.

Are you ready for this kind of a future?

These technologies are being developed right now, and they will be enthusiastically adopted by a large segment of the general public.

At some point in the future, having a brain implant may be as common as it is to use a smart phone today.

And of course the mainstream media will be telling all of us how wonderful it is to have a brain implant.  If you doubt this, just check out the following NBC News report where we are all told that we can expect to have microchip implants by the year 2017…

So are you ready for this brave new world?

Will you ever let them put a chip in your head?

Please share your thoughts by posting a comment below…

Brain Computer Interface

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Environmental Fascism: The Ecofascists Are Slowly But Surely Taking Over America

EcofascistsThe environmental fascists believe that if people are allowed to have large amounts of freedom and liberty that the planet will literally be destroyed.  That sounds crazy, but that is what they actually believe.  Left to our own devices, they are fully convinced that global warming and out of control pollution will transform the earth into an uninhabitable hellhole.  Therefore, they believe that it has become necessary to strictly manage human behavior “for the good of the environment”.  With each passing year, the control of the social planners gets even tighter.  Today, they have banned certain kinds of light bulbs, they are putting mandatory “smart meters” into our homes, and they have instituted all kinds of ridiculous regulations concerning what you can do with your own land.  Tomorrow, they plan to put “black boxes” into our vehicles and move most of us into “stack-and-pack” housing that has communal bathrooms and no elevators.  There is a reason why these people are called ecofascists.  The “true believers” of the environmental fascism movement actually believe that they are “saving the world” by being control freaks.  They truly believe that they know better than the rest of us, and they love to get into positions of political power so that they can impose their will on everyone around them.

The environmental fascists are constantly “pushing the envelope” and doing whatever they can to use the power of the government to impose new rules on all the rest of us.  Most of the time, Americans just take it without ever fighting back.  For example, a car wash for a high school cheerleading squad was recently shut down because the cheerleaders were “in violation of water discharge laws“…

It’s hard to wave your spirit fingers when the city shuts down the cheerleading squad’s fundraising car wash to protect the environment.

This is what happened to Lincoln High School cheerleaders trying to raise money to attend a national competition in April. The San Jose Mercury reports that local environmental officials warned the high school cheerleaders that their car wash violated the city’s water discharge laws.

“We had a visit from the city of San Jose Environmental Services Department who said that the car washes at Hoover [Middle School] are in violation of water discharge laws, therefore we had to cancel this and all future car washes,” said an email that was sent out to neighborhood email lists on Oct. 18.

Fortunately, there are some Americans that are still willing to stand up and fight back against this emerging ecofascism.  A recent Businessweek article profiled one north Idaho couple that is vigorously fighting back against the ridiculous demands of the EPA…

Four years ago the Sacketts were filling in their lot with dirt and rock, preparing to build a simple three-bedroom home in a neighborhood where other houses have stood for years. Then three federal officials showed up and demanded they stop construction. The agency claimed the .63-acre lot was a wetland, protected under the Clean Water Act.

The Sacketts say they were stunned. The owners of an excavation company, they had secured all the necessary local permits. And Chantell Sackett says that before work began, she drove two hours to Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, to consult with an Army Corps of Engineers official. She says the official told her orally, though not in writing, that she didn’t need a federal permit. “We did all the right things,” she says.

The EPA issued an order requiring the Sacketts to put the land back the way it was, removing the piles of fill material and replanting the vegetation they had cleared away. The property was to be fenced off and the Sacketts would be required to submit annual reports about its condition to the EPA. The agency threatened to fine them up to $32,500 a day until they complied.

Sadly, this kind of thing is happening all over the nation.  The EPA is completely and totally out of control, and they seem to be obsessed with making life absolute hell for farmers and private landowners.

But over in Europe, environmental fascism is actually even worse than it is in the United States.  In fact, one new regulation that was recently implemented bans Europeans from owning large vacuum cleaners

Incandescent light bulbs have already been removed from the shelves. Next being removed are larger size vacuum cleaners. Germany’s online flagship daily the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) reports: “Beginning September 2014 in the EU only vacuum cleaners that consume less than 1600 watts may be sold. From 2017 only a maximum of 900 watts will be allowed.”

Ultimately, the ecofascists intend to manage virtually every detail of our lives, because literally everything that we do “affects the environment” in some way.

According to the Los Angeles Times, one of the next things they hope to do is to put “black boxes” in our vehicles that they can use to tax us and track the “damage” that we are doing to the environment…

As America’s road planners struggle to find the cash to mend a crumbling highway system, many are beginning to see a solution in a little black box that fits neatly by the dashboard of your car.

The devices, which track every mile a motorist drives and transmit that information to bureaucrats, are at the center of a controversial attempt in Washington and state planning offices to overhaul the outdated system for funding America’s major roads.

The usually dull arena of highway planning has suddenly spawned intense debate and colorful alliances. Libertarians have joined environmental groups in lobbying to allow government to use the little boxes to keep track of the miles you drive, and possibly where you drive them — then use the information to draw up a tax bill.

What I find humorous about the above excerpt is that the L.A. Times is trying to get us to believe that this is something that “libertarians” actually want.

Another thing that the ecofascists have planned for the future is to move much of the population into “eco-friendly” stack-and-pack living environments.  These stack-and-pack living environments were described in a recent article by Suzanne Eovaldi

A typical stack-and-pack living area in the 200 square foot APodment bulding in Sammamish, WA is already developed. Occupant Judy Green (Seattle Times 5-12-13) “shares the kitchen with seven other tenants on the second floor.”  With no elevators, she has to walk up and down six flights of stairs to get to her loft! Bathrooms often are communal; no or few cars are allowed because of global warming.

The ultimate goal is for the government to watch, track, monitor and control everything that we do “for the good of humanity”.

And of course this emerging “Big Brother” control grid has grown by leaps and bounds in recent years.  In fact, it is being reported that the United States spied on 60 million Spanish phone calls in just one single month recently, and according to CNN, the U.S. had even been spying on the private phone conversations of 35 foreign leaders…

The release of further allegations of National Security Agency surveillance efforts caused the Spanish government to summon the U.S. ambassador Monday, and The Wall Street Journal reported that the White House ordered a halt to some eavesdropping on foreign leaders after learning of it this summer.

Quoting unidentified U.S. officials, the newspaper’s website said the wiretapping of about 35 foreign leaders was disclosed to the White House as part of a review of surveillance programs ordered by President Barack Obama after NSA contractor Edward Snowden leaked classified information on the NSA’s phone monitoring systems.

The White House ordered a halt to the monitoring of German Chancellor Angela Merkel and unspecified other leaders, the newspaper reported. The Journal report did not specify who gave the shutdown order or the date it was issued.

And this “control grid” is getting much tighter and much more oppressive on the local level as well.  For example, just check out what happened to one Texas woman recently

A Texas woman was arrested, strip-searched and jailed for an overdue traffic ticket Wednesday, a local CBS affiliate first reported.

Sarah Boaz said she was cuffed outside her Richland Hills home by an officer who was waiting for her when she stepped out to go to work, the New York Daily News reported.

The officer told her a warrant had been issued for her arrest after she failed to pay a summons for running a stop sign in August. Mrs. Boaz admitted that she didn’t pay the fine because she lost the summons.

“I’m like nobody puts out a bench warrant after 60 days,” she told the Daily News. “Why would you do that?”

Mrs. Boaz said she was forced to step into a jail cell and remove her clothes for a search. Her family bailed her out within a couple of hours.

When most people read about stuff like this, they are absolutely outraged.

But the ecofascists actually love this kind of stuff.  They want an all-powerful government that will have the power to force people to do “what is right for the environment”.  In fact, many of them actually believe that the planet will not survive if government does not behave in such a manner.

In the end, they are not going to settle for anything less than total control.  They want to control where you live, what kind of work you do, what kind of transportation you use and even how many children you have.

It is a totalitarian system wrapped up in a “save the world” package.

And right now, the ecofascists are steadily gaining ground.  If they are going to be defeated, people need to start standing up for freedom and liberty while they still can.

Michael T. Snyder's Shocking New Novel About The Future Of America

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Black Box Tax & Track Soon Mandatory (Video)

By Susan Duclos For the government the little black "Mileage Box," is a twofer for for the Big Brother mentality of the US government, they can tax you for every mile you drive and they can track you anywhere, at any time they want. Should come in ha...

Le Monde: France in NSA’s Crosshairs

Le Monde: France in NSA's Crosshairs

by Stephen Lendman

On October 1, French newspaper Le Monde headlined "France in the NSA's crosshair: phone networks under surveillance." More on that below.

Previous articles explained. NSA operates lawlessly. It does so by rules it invents. It spies globally. Enormous amounts of meta-data are collected. It's longstanding. It's been ongoing for decades. 

Post-9/11, it intensified. It's out-of-control today. It doesn't matter. NSA is a rogue agency. It's a power unto itself. Congressional leaders support it. So does Obama.

Spying domestically isn't for national security. Nor is monitoring allies. It's old-fashioned espionage using state-of-the-art technology. It's about control. It's for economic advantage. 

It's to be one up on foreign competitors. It's for information used advantageously in trade, political, and military relations.

Foreign embassies, consulates and missions are bugged. NSA calls them "targets." Extraordinary spying methods are used. 

Bugs are planted in electronic communications gear. They monitor cable transmissions. They use "specialized antennae." 

NSA bugged the EU's Brussels-based Justice Lipsius building. It hosts summit and ministerial meetings. Bugging is handled from nearby NATO headquarters. 

Encrypted fax machines are compromised. They transmit cables to foreign ministries in European capitals.

Another covert operation copies everything on targeted hard drives. EU's UN headquarters mission is bugged. So is EU's Washington location.

NSA works cooperatively with other EU spy agencies. It does so with Britain's Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ).

It funds some of its operations. It influences them. Both agencies compromise fundamental freedoms. It's longstanding practice. It's worse now than ever.

Obama's administration is the most secretive in US history. It persists despite promised reforms. NSA spying intensified on his watch. 

Rollbacks aren't forthcoming. Constitutional law doesn't matter. Checks and balances don't exist. All three branches of government are complicit. Congress winks and nods. Courts look the other way. Ordinary people are systematically lied to.

EU nations operate the same way. They spy on each other. They spy on America. It's nothing new. It's longstanding. Some have greater expertise. Washington likely tops all others and then some.

Snowden released documents show NSA accessed former Mexican President Felipe Calderon's emails.

Its Tailored Access Operations (TAO) division hacked into his account. Doing so gained insight into his policymaking. A top secret report said:

"TAO successfully exploited a key mail server in the Mexican Presidencia domain within the Mexican Presidential network to gain first-ever access to President Felipe Calderon's public email account."

Cabinet members use its domain. It contains diplomatic, economic and leadership communications. They provide valuable information about Mexico's political system and internal stability.

Operation Flatliquid likely continues. Current President Enrique Nieto is vulnerable. In September, Brazilian Globo TV revealed a document dated June 2012. It showed NSA read his emails before he became president.

Following revelations about Calderon's hacked account, US ambassador Anthony Wayne was summoned to explain. 

At last month's G20 meeting, Obama promised Nieto he'd conduct an "exhaustive investigation." He said back and explain. Nieto's still waiting.

A Mexican Foreign Ministry statement said:

"In a relationship of neighbors and partners, there is no room for the kind of activities that allegedly took place."

"Mexico will re-emphasize the importance for our country of this investigation, which should be concluded as quickly as possible."

US surveillance revelations outraged Latin American leaders. Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff cancelled a scheduled Washington trip. She delivered a blistering General Assembly address.

Former Guardian contributor Glenn Greenwald addressed the 69th Inter American Press Association (IAPA) assembly. He did so by video. 

He said NSA spies on all Latin American countries. He'll release  more information from Snowden provided documents ahead.

French authorities much earlier knew what Le Monde reported, he added. Expressed outrage was less than meets the eye. It's disingenuous. It's too little too late.

French Interior Minister Manuel Valls omitted explaining what he knew. Instead he called Le Monde's revelations "shocking." 

He demanded an explanation. So did President Francois Hollande. He expressed "deep disapproval."

He called spying on friends and allies "unacceptable." France operates the same way. So do many other countries. For sure all major ones. 

Le Monde got "access to documents which describe the techniques used to violate the secrets or simply the private life of French people." 

"Some elements of information about this espionage have been referred to by Der Speigel and The Guardian, but others are, to date, unpublished."

"It can be seen that over a period of thirty days - from 10 December 2012 to 8 January 2013, 70.3 million recordings of French citizens' telephone data were made by the NSA." 

It did so several ways. "According to the elements obtained by Le Monde, when a telephone number is used in France, it activates a signal which automatically triggers the recording of the call." 

"Apparently this surveillance system also picks up SMS messages and their content using key words." 

"Finally, the NSA apparently stores the history of the connections of each target…"

French espionage is called US-985D. For Germany it's US-987LA and US-987LB.

Numbers correspond to a "third party." It includes France, Germany, Austria, Poland and Belgium.

English-speaking countries comprise a "second party." It includes Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

"First party" consists of 16 known US spy agencies. NSA is most significant. It's Big Brother writ large.

Documents Le Monde got show it targets individuals and groups. It does so in "the worlds of business, politics (and) French state administration."

Three million daily intercepts are gotten on average. Peak days get almost seven million.

Documents Le Monde obtained show NSA collected 124.8 billion telecommunication intercepts and 97.1 billion online ones from February 8 through March 8, 2013.

Germany and Britain alone exceed France in volume obtained. Washington rules determine US practices. They're over-the-top out-of-control. 

They're eroding fundamental freedoms in plain sight. They're on the chopping block for elimination. They may not survive Obama's tenure.

It bears repeating. Rogues states operate this way. America is by far the worst.

A Final Comment

On October 21, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) headlined "Open Access Week 2013: The Time for Reform Is Now."

Monday began the sixth annual Open Access Week. It's a global event. It advocates free, immediate, online scholarly research information accessibility.

Doing so is win-win. Academia, science, industry and society benefit. Scholarship advances. Academic and research colleagues share what they learn. Doing so benefits ongoing work and future efforts.

EFF calls Open Access "a celebration and call to action. Universities, libraries, organizations, and companies are hosting" global events.

They're promoting what's important for everyone. It's polar opposite destructive spying. "The fight for open access to research is going in the right direction," said EFF. "(E)very stakeholder…realize(s) (its) inevitability." 

Since information about NSA spying first made 2005 headlines, EFF led the fight to stop it.

It's doing so by exposing what everyone needs to know. It's doing it in court. It's waging tough battles. 

It wants rule of law principles enforced. It's a goal worth working for. Fundamental freedoms are too important to lose. We're all in the fight to save them.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at [email protected] 

His new book is titled "Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity."

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanII.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs Fridays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour

New NSA Revelations


New NSA Revelations

by Stephen Lendman

NSA is one of 16 known US spy agencies. They're all up to no good. They violate core rule of law principles. 

They do whatever they want. They operate out-of-control. They're powers unto themselves. NSA reflects Big Brother writ large.

It operate globally. It's the world's biggest spy agency. It watches everyone. Advanced technology lets it go where no previous counterpart went before.

Privacy no longer exists. Congress ignores its lawlessness. Oversight is absent. NSA takes full advantage. 

Two Washington Post articles revealed more. They're based on documents Edward Snowden provided. Expect lots more disclosures ahead.

On October 14, WaPo headlined "NSA collects millions of e-mail address books globally." Many belong to Americans.

"The collection program (hasn't) been disclosed before." Intercepts include email address books and so-called buddy lists.

They're from online instant messaging and/or cell phone text displays. They're lists people want to keep track of.

They show who's online or off, on but away from their computer, people with their phones on or off, and who's currently using them.

NSA collects contact lists in large numbers. They amount to a sizable portion of email/instant messaging accounts.

Data analysis lets NSA "search for hidden connections." It permits mapping relationships "within a much smaller universe of foreign intelligence targets," said WaPo

In one day last year, "NSA's Special Source Operations branch collected 444,743 e-mail address books from Yahoo, 105,068 from Hotmail, 82,857 from Facebook, 33,697 from Gmail and 22,881 from unspecified other providers."

These figures are typical. They repeat daily. They add up. They "correspond to a rate of more than 250 million a year." .

NSA has access to about 500,000 buddy lists as well as huge numbers of web-based email accounts.

A previous article called NSA spying worse than you think. Rules followed are its own. 

It can monitor virtually everyone everywhere electronically. Doing so is unconnected to terrorism or other national security concerns.

Big Brother has lots of other Brothers watching. They're making a list. They're checking it twice. They know who's naughty or nice.

They read your emails. They know what web sites you visit. They know your medical and financial history.

They know the company you keep. They watch every move you make. They know what you do, where and when.

They know when you're sleeping. They know when you're awake. They know when you're bad or good. They know secretly. They know intrusively.

They know because they can go where no previous spy agencies went before. They exceed their capabilities. 

Perhaps one day they'll be able to anticipate things before they happen. Maybe they'll be able to read minds.

"(S)ecret arrangements with foreign governments or allied intelligence services" controlling online traffic permits collecting  buddy lists and emails, said WaPo.

Millions of Americans are affected. NSA won't say how many. Perhaps its tens of millions. NSA can target virtually everyone everywhere.

DNI spokesman Shawn Turner lied saying it's "focused on discovering and developing intelligence about valid foreign intelligence targets like terrorists, human traffickers and drug smugglers." 

"We are not interested in personal information about ordinary Americans."

False! It targets you, me, our neighbors, families and friends.

NSA collects virtually all telecommunication records. They gotten under a separate program. Director Keith Alexander defends the practice.

He lied calling it an essential counterterrorism/foreign intelligence tool, saying:

"You need a haystack to find the needle." He finds virtually none. So-called terror plots exposed were fake. Domestic ones virtually don't exist. What's claimed is fabricated.

It's done for political advantage. It generates fear. It justifies lawless NSA operations.

Online call lists provide "far richer sources of data than call records alone," said WaPo. 

Address books include email addresses, phone numbers, street locations, as well as business and personal information.

Combined they let NSA "draw detailed maps of a person's life." Doing so creates false impressions.

NSA isn't authorized to collect bulk contact lists. According to senior intelligence officials, doing so from US facilities is illegal.

NSA does what it wants anyway. It accesses information globally. When obtained from overseas, it assumes "you're not a US person," it claims.

Global sweeps target everyone. Americans are as vulnerable as foreigners. So-called "checks and balances built into (its) tools" don't exist or aren't used.

NSA claims authorization under the Patriot Act's Section 215. It oversteps. It's unconstitutional. 

It permits warrantless searches without probable cause. It violates First Amendment rights. 

It does so by mandating secrecy. It prohibits targeted subjects from telling others what’s happening to them. It compromises free expression, assembly and association. 

It does so by authorizing the FBI to investigate anyone based on what they say, write, or do with regard to groups they belong to or associate with.

It violates Fourth and Fifth Amendment protections by not telling targeted subjects their privacy was compromised. 

It subverts fundamental freedoms for contrived, exaggerated, or nonexistent security reasons. Doing so turns constitutional rights on their head. 

Separately WaPo headlined "Documents reveal NSA's extensive involvement in targeted killing program."

NSA claims it "focuse(s) on discovering and developing intelligence about valid foreign intelligence targets."

It does so, it says, to "protect the nation and its interests from threats such as terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction."

Drone warfare makes more enemies than friends. Most deaths are innocent men, women and children. Few are so-called high-value targets.

In search for them, NSA "draped a surveillance blanket over dozens of square miles of northwest Pakistan," said WaPo.

Anything electronic can be tracked. NSA's secret Counterterrorism Mission Aligned Cell (CT MAC) is involved in doing it.

It focuses on hard-to-find terrorism targets. Considerable time and effort goes into doing it.

NSA's Alexander claims his mission is "noble." He lied again saying:

"Our job is to defend this nation and to protect our civil liberties and privacy."

He's way over-the-top out-of-control. He defends imperial lawlessness. He destroys civil liberties and privacy in the process.

Records indicate NSA "depends heavily on highly targeted network penetrations to gather information that wouldn’t otherwise be trapped in surveillance nets that it has set at key Internet gateways," said WaPo.

It assigned senior analysts to the CIA's Counterterrorism Center. Others work alongside CIA counterparts. They do so at almost all major US embassy and overseas military bases.

According to a former US intelligence official:

It "you wanted huge coverage of the FATA (Federally Administered Tribal Areas), NSA had 10 times the manpower, 20 times the budget, and 100 times the brainpower."

He compared NSA with CIA's Information Operations Center (IOC). 

"NSA relies on increasingly sophisticated versions of online attacks that are well-known among security experts." 

"Many rely on software implants developed by the agency's Tailored Access Operations division with code-names such as UNITEDRAKE and VALIDATOR."

Other methods are used. NSA obtains vast amounts of information. Its Tailored Access Operations division extends way beyond Pakistan.

It targets Yemen, African and other locations. Murder, Inc. is official Obama administration policy. US citizens are as vulnerable as foreigners.

Death squads operate in 120 or more countries. CIA agents are everywhere. They're licensed to kill. NSA secretly tracks suspects.

Summary judgment means no arrests. No Miranda rights. No due process. No trial. Just death by diktat.

Obama appointed himself judge, jury and executioner. He decides who lives or dies. CIA chief John Brennan helps him choose.

With or without evidence, anyone called Al Qaeda or accused of terrorist connections gets marked for death.

NSA's job is find them. CIA's job is kill them. Only eliminating America's enemies matter. Whether real or imagined makes no difference. 

Everyone is fair game. Right or wrong is someone else's problem. Advancing America's imperium alone matters.

A Final Comment

On October 11, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court released a new legal opinion. It reauthorized NSA's collection of virtually all American made phone calls without warrants.

Doing so violates Fourth Amendment protection against lawless searches and seizures. It applies to all unreasonable intrusions.

Telecommunication call log meta-data must be approved every 90 days. Doing so is virtually rubber-stamp. Police states operate that way. America is by far the worst.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at [email protected] 

His new book is titled "Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity."

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanII.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs Fridays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour

http://www.dailycensored.com/new-nsa-revelations/

Internal TSA Documents: Body Scanners, Pat Downs Not For Terrorists

TSA’s ‘Administrative Record’ admits ineffective security theater

Adan Salazar
Infowars.com
Oct. 17, 2013

The TSA has quietly admitted there is no actual “threat-addressing” basis for employing nude body scanners or invasive pat down procedures at airports, a notion many travelers who are weary of the federal agency’s borderline sexual molestation have long suspected but were hard-pressed to prove.

The TSA understands body scanners and pat downs are ineffective at addressing a threat for which they admit “there is no evidence.”

The TSA understands body scanners and pat downs are ineffective at addressing a threat for which they admit “there is no evidence.”

The evidence was found in sealed court documents, available through the PACER.gov website, regarding engineer and blogger Jon Corbett’s ongoing litigation over the constitutionality of the agency’s loathsome security practices.

In a redacted version of the appellant’s brief, filed by Corbett on October 7 with the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, several portions of the Summary of Facts section were blacked out, raising questions as to the nature of the censored information.

But in a sealed version of the same documents obtained through PACER.gov (and available here), the redacted sections appear with incriminating clarity.

Through Redactions, TSA Admits Terror Threats are Slim to Nonexistent

Redaction shows TSA is aware explosives on airplanes "are extremely rare.' (click to enlarge)

Redaction shows TSA is aware explosives on airplanes “are extremely rare.’ (click to enlarge)

A section detailing how “The TSA Has Misled The Public As to the Likelihood of the Threat ‘Addressed’ By Nude Body Scanners and Pat Downs,” includes a blacked out portion concerning the TSA’s knowledge that “explosives on airplanes are extremely rare.”

“For example, the TSA analyzed hijackings in 2007 and found 7 hijacking incidents across the globe, but none of them involved actual explosive devices,” Corbett explains in the brief, adding that the last attempt to bring an explosive onboard an airplane through a U.S. airport occurred 35 years ago.

Another redacted section highlights the government’s concession that, “due to hardened cockpit doors and the willingness of passengers to challenge hijackers,” it would be difficult to have a repeat of 9/11.

“The government also credits updated pre-flight security for that difficulty assessment,” the brief states, “but the assessment was written before the en masse deployment of body scanners and before the update to the pat down procedure. Further, the government admits that there have been no attempted domestic hijackings of any kind in the 12 years since 9/11.”

The TSA also had the following section completely censored:

This begs the question, then, of what evidence the government possesses to rationalize that we should be so afraid of non-metallic explosives being brought aboard flights departing from the U.S. that we must sacrifice our civil liberties. The answer: there is none. “As of mid-2011, terrorist threat groups present in the Homeland are not known to be actively plotting against civil aviation targets or airports; instead, their focus is on fundraising, recruiting, and propagandizing.”

In the brief’s Summary of Argument, another redacted portion concerns the TSA’s understanding that body scanners and pat downs are ineffective at addressing a threat for which they admit “there is no evidence.”

By redacting certain parts of the brief, the TSA also inadvertently admits “it is aware of no one who is currently plotting a terror attack against our aviation system using explosives (non-metallic or otherwise),” and that, in addition to a cabin of empowered passengers who would make short work of a hijacker, the Federal Flight Deck Officer program, which arms pilots with firearms, makes targeting an airplane “to be the definition of insanity.”

Get the TSA Out of Our Pants

catascopeThe redactions in Corbett’s court documents are a damning indictment of the TSA’s procedures, and only serve to bolster his claims’ truthfulness.

The 28-year-old entrepreneur arrived at his conclusions after admittedly “pawing through several thousand pages of the TSA’s ‘administrative record,’” which he says the TSA uses as the “alleged rationale behind why they must photograph us naked and literally put their hands in our pants to search us.”

The information contained within the redacted portions support what Infowars and others have long suspected: that the sprawling agency – which is in the process of extending beyond the airport and onto highways, train stations and public buses – was never meant to thwart terrorists, but was instead set up to purposely obstruct, annoy, harass and train the American public.

In other words, the court documents go a long way in proving the TSA is pure contrived security theater custom-made solely to indoctrinate Americans, through prisoner training, into blindly accepting obedience to authority as a normal way of life, not to mention a huge waste of about $7.91 billion in taxpayer money a year.

RELATED: TSA Loudspeakers Threaten Travelers With Arrest For Joking About Security

TSA trying to make a monkey out of you.

TSA trying to make a monkey out of you.

Corbett has made quite the reputation of going after the agency.

Last year, he made headlines when he demonstrated how to thwart TSA body scanners simply by sewing an object onto clothing.

Corbett had also previously filed a lawsuit challenging the TSA after he was detained for an hour at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport. He also regularly adds updates regarding his ongoing litigation on his activist blog TSA Out Of Our Pants!.

Updates to Jon’s case can be found on PACER.gov, case #12-15893.

Below are both the redacted and sealed versions of the Appellant’s brief in the case of Jonathan Corbett v. Transportation Security Administration.

REDACTED Appellant’s brief.

SEALED Appellant’s brief.

This article was posted: Thursday, October 17, 2013 at 1:24 pm

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William Blum: The Anti-Empire Report #121

The War on Terrorism ... or whatever.

“U.S. hopes of winning more influence over Syria’s divided rebel movement faded Wednesday after 11 of the biggest armed factions repudiated the Western-backed political opposition coalition and announced the formation of an alliance dedicated to creating an Islamist state. The al-Qaeda-affiliated Jabhat al-Nusra, designated a terrorist organization by the United States, is the lead signatory of the new group.” 1
Pity the poor American who wants to be a good citizen, wants to understand the world and his country’s role in it, wants to believe in the War on Terrorism, wants to believe that his government seeks to do good … What is he to make of all this?
For about two years, his dear American government has been supporting the same anti-government side as the jihadists in the Syrian civil war; not total, all-out support, but enough military hardware, logistics support, intelligence information, international political, diplomatic and propaganda assistance (including the crucial alleged-chemical-weapons story), to keep the jihadists in the ball game. Washington and its main Mideast allies in the conflict – Turkey, Jordan, Qatar and Saudi Arabia – have not impeded the movement to Syria of jihadists coming to join the rebels, recruited from the ranks of Sunni extremist veterans of the wars in Chechnya, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya, while Qatar and the Saudis have supplied the rebels with weapons, most likely bought in large measure from the United States, as well as lots of of what they have lots of – money.
This widespread international support has been provided despite the many atrocities carried out by the jihadists – truck and car suicide bombings (with numerous civilian casualties), planting roadside bombs à la Iraq, gruesome massacres of Christians and Kurds, grotesque beheadings and other dissections of victims’ bodies (most charming of all: a Youtube video of a rebel leader cutting out an organ from the chest of a victim and biting into it as it drips with blood). All this barbarity piled on top of a greater absurdity – these Western-backed, anti-government forces are often engaged in battle with other Western-backed, anti-government forces, non-jihadist. It has become increasingly difficult to sell this war to the American public as one of pro-democracy “moderates” locked in a good-guy-versus-bad-guy struggle with an evil dictator, although in actuality the United States has fought on the same side as al Qaeda on repeated occasions before Syria. Here’s a brief survey:
Afghanistan, 1980-early 1990s: In support of the Islamic Moujahedeen (“holy warriors”), the CIA orchestrated a war against the Afghan government and their Soviet allies, pouring in several billions of dollars of arms and extensive military training; hitting up Middle-Eastern countries for donations, notably Saudi Arabia which gave hundreds of millions of dollars in aid each year; pressuring and bribing Pakistan to rent out its country as a military staging area and sanctuary.
It worked. And out of the victorious Moujahedeen came al Qaeda.
Bosnia, 1992-5: In 2001 the Wall Street Journal declared:
It is safe to say that the birth of al-Qaeda as a force on the world stage can be traced directly back to 1992, when the Bosnian Muslim government of Alija Izetbegovic issued a passport in their Vienna embassy to Osama bin Laden. … for the past 10 years, the most senior leaders of al Qaeda have visited the Balkans, including bin Laden himself on three occasions between 1994 and 1996. The Egyptian surgeon turned terrorist leader Ayman Al-Zawahiri has operated terrorist training camps, weapons of mass destruction factories and money-laundering and drug-trading networks throughout Albania, Kosovo, Macedonia, Bulgaria, Turkey and Bosnia. This has gone on for a decade. 2
A few months later, The Guardian reported on “the full story of the secret alliance between the Pentagon and radical Islamist groups from the Middle East designed to assist the Bosnian Muslims – some of the same groups that the Pentagon is now fighting in “the war against terrorism”. 3
In 1994 and 1995 US/NATO forces carried out bombing campaigns over Bosnia aimed at damaging the military capability of the Serbs and enhancing that of the Bosnian Muslims. In the decade-long civil wars in the Balkans, the Serbs, regarded by Washington as the “the last communist government in Europe”, were always the main enemy.
Kosovo, 1998-99: Kosovo, overwhelmingly Muslim, was a province of Serbia, the main republic of the former Yugoslavia. In 1998, Kosovo separatists – The Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) – began an armed conflict with Belgrade to split Kosovo from Serbia. The KLA was considered a terrorist organization by the US, the UK and France for years, with numerous reports of the KLA having contact with al-Qaeda, getting arms from them, having its militants trained in al-Qaeda camps in Pakistan, and even having members of al-Qaeda in KLA ranks fighting against the Serbs. 4
However, when US-NATO forces began military action against the Serbs the KLA was taken off the US terrorist list, it “received official US-NATO arms and training support” 5 , and the 1999 US-NATO bombing campaign eventually focused on driving Serbian forces from Kosovo.
In 2008 Kosovo unilaterally declared independence from Serbia, an independence so illegitimate and artificial that the majority of the world’s nations still have not recognized it. But the United States was the first to do so, the very next day, thus affirming the unilateral declaration of independence of a part of another country’s territory.
The KLA have been known for their trafficking in women, heroin, and human body parts (sic). The United States has naturally been pushing for Kosovo’s membership in NATO and the European Union.
Nota bene: In 1992 the Bosnian Muslims, Croats, and Serbs reached agreement in Lisbon for a unified state. The continuation of a peaceful multi-ethnic Bosnia seemed assured. But the United States sabotaged the agreement. 6
Libya, 2011: The US and NATO to the rescue again. For more than six months, almost daily missile attacks against the government and forces of Muammar Gaddafi as assorted Middle East jihadists assembled in Libya and battled the government on the ground. The predictable outcome came to be – the jihadists now in control of parts of the country and fighting for the remaining parts. The wartime allies showed their gratitude to Washington by assassinating the US ambassador and three other Americans, presumably CIA, in the city of Benghazi.
Caucasus (Russia), mid-2000s to present: The National Endowment for Democracy and Freedom House have for many years been the leading American “non-government” institutions tasked with destabilizing, if not overthrowing, foreign governments which refuse to be subservient to the desires of US foreign policy. Both NGOs have backed militants in the Russian Caucasus area, one that has seen more than its share of terror stretching back to the Chechnyan actions of the 1990s. 7

Omission is the most powerful form of lie. – Orwell

I am asked occasionally why I am so critical of the mainstream media when I quote from them repeatedly in my writings. The answer is simple. The American media’s gravest shortcoming is much more their errors of omission than their errors of commission. It’s what they leave out that distorts the news more than any factual errors or out-and-out lies. So I can make good use of the facts they report, which a large, rich organization can easier provide than the alternative media.
A case in point is a New York Times article of October 5 on the Greek financial crisis and the Greeks’ claim for World War Two reparations from Germany.
“Germany may be Greece’s stern banker now, say those who are seeking reparations,” writes theTimes, but Germany “should pay off its own debts to Greece. … It is not just aging victims of the Nazi occupation who are demanding a full accounting. Prime Minister Antonis Samarass government has compiled an 80-page report on reparations and a huge, never-repaid loan the nation was forced to make under Nazi occupation from 1941 to 1945. … The call for reparations has elicited an emotional outpouring in Greece, where six years of brutal recession and harsh austerity measures have left many Greeks hostile toward Germany. Rarely does a week go by without another report in the news about, as one newspaper put it in a headline, ‘What Germany Owes Us’.”
“The figure most often discussed is $220 billion, an estimate for infrastructure damage alone put forward by Manolis Glezos, a member of Parliament and a former resistance fighter who is pressing for reparations. That amount equals about half the country’s debt. … Some members of the National Council on Reparations, an advocacy group, are calling for more than $677 billion to cover stolen artifacts, damage to the economy and to the infrastructure, as well as the bank loan and individual claims.”
So there we have the morality play: The evil Germans who occupied Greece and in addition to carrying out a lot of violence and repression shamelessly exploited the Greek people economically.
Would it be appropriate for such a story, or an accompanying or follow-up story, to mention the civil war that broke out in Greece shortly after the close of the world war? On one side were the neo-fascists, many of whom had cooperated with the occupying Germans during the war, some even fighting for the Nazis. Indeed, the British Foreign Secretary, Ernest Bevin, acknowledged in August 1946 that there were 228 ex-members of the Nazi Security Battalions – whose main task had been to track down Greek resistance fighters and Jews – on active service in the new Greek army. 8
On the other side was the Greek left who had fought the Nazis courageously, even forcing the German army to flee the country in 1944.
So guess which side of the civil war our favorite military took? … That’s right, the United States supported the neo-fascists. After all, an important component of the Greek left was the Communist Party, although it wouldn’t have mattered at all if the Greek left had not included any Communists. Support of the left (not to be confused with liberals of course) anywhere in the world, during and since the Cold War, has been verboten in US foreign policy.
The neo-fascists won the civil war and instituted a highly brutal regime, for which the CIA created a suitably repressive internal security agency, named and modeled after itself, the KYP. For the next 15 years, Greece was looked upon much as a piece of real estate to be developed according to Washington’s political and economic needs. One document should suffice to capture the beauty of Washington’s relationship to Athens – a 1947 letter from US Secretary of State George Marshall to Dwight Griswold, the head of the American Mission to Aid Greece, said:
During the course of your work you and the members of your Mission will from time to time find that certain Greek officials are not, because of incompetence, disagreement with your policies, or for some other reason, extending the type of cooperation which is necessary if the objectives of your Mission are to be achieved. You will find it necessary to effect the removal of these officials. 9
Where is the present-day Greek headline: “What The United States Owes Us”? Where is the New York Times obligation to enlighten its readers?

Another step in the evolution of the Police State
“If you’ve got nothing to hide, you’ve got nothing to fear.”
So say many Americans. And many Germans as well.
But one German, Ilija Trojanow, would disagree. He has lent his name to published documents denouncing the National Security Agency (NSA), and was one of several prominent German authors who signed a letter to Chancellor Angela Merkel urging her to take a firm stance against the mass online surveillance conducted by the NSA. Trojanow and the other authors had nothing to hide, which is why the letter was published for the public to read. What happened after that, however, was that Trojanow was refused permission to board a flight from Salvador da Bahia, Brazil, to Miami on Monday, September 30. Without any explanation.
Trojanow, who was on his way to speak at a literary conference in Denver, told the Spiegel magazine online website that the denial of entry might be linked to his criticism of the NSA. Germany’s Foreign Ministry says it has contacted US authorities “to resolve this issue”. 10
In an article published in a German newspaper, Trojanow voiced his frustration with the incident: “It is more than ironic if an author who raises his voice against the dangers of surveillance and the secret state within a state for years, will be denied entry into the ‘land of the brave and the free’.”11
Further irony can be found in the title of a book by Trojanow: “Attack on freedom. Obsession with security, the surveillance state and the dismantling of civil rights.”
Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper Jr., who oversees the NSA and other intelligence agencies, said recently that the intelligence community “is only interested in communication related to valid foreign intelligence and counterintelligence purposes.” 12
It’s difficult in the extreme to see how this criterion would apply in any way to Ilija Trojanow.
The story is a poignant caveat on how fragile is Americans’ freedom to criticize their Security State. If a foreigner can be barred from boarding a flight merely for peaceful, intellectual criticism of America’s Big Brother (nay, Giant Brother), who amongst us does not need to pay careful attention to anything they say or write.
Very few Americans, however, will even be aware of this story. A thorough search of the Lexis-Nexis media database revealed a single mention in an American daily newspaper (The St. Louis Post-Dispatch), out of 1400 daily papers in the US. No mention on any broadcast media. A single one-time mention in a news agency (Associated Press), and one mention in a foreign English-language newspaper (New Zealand Herald).
  1. Washington Post, September 26, 2013 
  2. Wall Street Journal, November 1, 2001 
  3. The Guardian (London), April 22, 2002 
  4. RT TV (Moscow), May 4, 2012 
  5. Wall Street Journal, November 1, 2001 
  6. New York Times, June 17, 1993, buried at the very end of the article on an inside page 
  7. Sibel Edmonds’ Boiling Frogs Post, “Barbarians at the Gate: Terrorism, the US, and the Subversion of Russia”, August 30, 2012 
  8. Parliamentary Debates, House of Commons, October 16, 1946, column 887 (reference is made here to Bevin’s statement of August 10, 1946) 
  9. Foreign Relations of the United States, 1947, Vol. V (U.S. Government Printing Office, 1971), pp. 222-3. See William Blum, Killing Hope: US Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II, chapter 3 for further details of the US role in postwar Greece. 
  10. Associated Press, October 2, 2013 
  11. Huffington Post, “Ilija Trojanow, German Writer, Banned From US For Criticizing NSA”, October 1, 2013 
  12. Washington Post, October 5, 2013 

Obama’s War on Press Freedom


Obama's War on Press Freedom

by Stephen Lendman

Free and open expression is our most fundamental right. Without it all others are endangered. 

Candidate Obama promised transparency, accountability, and reform. He called sunlight "the best source of information about waste, fraud, and abuse."

He said whistleblowing reflects "acts of courage and patriotism."

"Often the best source of information about waste, fraud, and abuse in government is an existing employee committed to public integrity and willing to speak out."

"We need to empower federal employees as watchdogs of wrongdoing and partners in performance." 

He pledged to "strengthen whistleblower laws to protect federal workers who expose waste, fraud, and abuse of authority in government."

He said one thing. He did another. He usurped diktat powers. He wages war on truth. He targets whistleblowers. He threatens free expression. 

Press freedom is endangered on his watch. He prioritizes surveillance powers. 

They include warrantless wiretapping, accessing personal records, monitoring financial transactions, and tracking emails, Internet and cell phone use. It's done lawlessly to gather secret evidence for prosecutions.

Obama wants truth and full disclosure suppressed. He wants  whistleblowers silenced. He targeted more than all his predecessors combined. 

Press freedoms are endangered. A new Committee to Protect Journalist (CPJ) report explains.

CPJ calls itself "an independent, nonprofit organization that promotes press freedom worldwide."

It "defends the right of journalists to report the news without fear of reprisal."

It "ensures the free flow of news and commentary by taking action wherever journalists are attacked, imprisoned, killed, kidnapped, threatened, censored, or harassed.

It's been operating since 1981. It publishes an annual global press freedom survey. It's called "Attacks on the Press."

Its new report headlined "The Obama Administration and the Press: Leak investigations and surveillance in post-9/11 America."

Candidate Obama pledged open government. He fell woefully short. Journalists and press freedom advocates say he suppresses information people have a right to know.

He evades press scrutiny. He aggressively targets leakers. Electronic surveillance deters sources from speaking to journalists.

Restrictions began post-9/11. Obama exceeds the worst of George Bush. Interviews with dozens of fourth estate members 
explained. 

Government officials are increasingly reluctant to come forward. Press freedom is gravely endangered.

Anyone suspected of disclosing information Obama officials want kept secret is targeted. They're investigated. They're given lie detector tests. Their telephone logs and emails are reviewed.

An "Insider Threat Program" requires all federal employees to help prevent unauthorized leaks. It's done by colleague monitoring. 

Everybody is supposed to watch everyone else. Doing so is a whole new Big Brother notion.

It heightens paranoia. It makes government employees cautious about who they see and what they say.

Since 2009, six government employees, two contractors, and Edward Snowden faced criminal prosecutions. They were charged with leaking classified information to the press.

Other federal employees are being investigated. A climate of fear exists. Journalists and sources are reluctant to speak with each other. 

They're apprehensive about being watched. They fear repressive administration crackdowns.

According to Center for Public Integrity's R. Jeffrey Smith:

"I worry now about calling somebody because the contact can be found out through a check of phone records or e-mails."

"It leaves a digital trail that makes it easier for the government to monitor those contacts."

New York Times reporter Scott Shane said he's "scared to death. (W)e have a real problem."

"Most people are deterred by those leaks prosecutions. There's a gray zone between classified and unclassified information."

"(M)ost sources are in it. It’s having a deterrent effect." 

"If we consider aggressive press coverage of government activities being at the core of American democracy, this tips the balance heavily in favor of the government." 

Times correspondent David Sanger called the Obama administration "the most closed, control freak (one he) ever covered."

According to CPJ, Obama's "war on leaks and other efforts to control information are the most aggressive since" Nixon.

Thirty journalists interviewed agreed. Sources hesitate to discuss unclassified information. They're unresponsive to press inquiries.

They fear leak investigations and government spying make it harder for reporters to protect them as sources.

Administration officials suppress information journalists need to do their job. They're less able to hold the White House accountable for its policies.

Obama lied saying "(g)overnment should be transparent. (He claimed he) promotes accountability and provides information for citizens about what their government is doing."

New York Times public editor Margaret Sullivan said his administration is "turning out (to reflect) unprecedented secrecy and...attacks on a free press."

Obama "said default should be disclosure. The culture they've created" discourages it. White House officials deny what journalists call a culture of secrecy.

According to AP senior managing editor Michael Oreskes:

"Sources are more jittery and more standoffish, not just in national security reporting. A lot of skittishness is at the more routine level." 

"The Obama administration has been extremely controlling and extremely resistant to journalistic intervention." 

"There's a mind-set and approach that holds journalists at a greater distance."

Washington Post reporter Rajiv Chandrasekaran said "one of the most pernicious effects is the chilling effect created across government on matters that are less sensitive but certainly in the public interest as a check on government and elected officials." 

"It serves to shield and obscure the business of government from necessary accountability."

Bureaucratic bloat characterizes administration practice. In 2011, over four million Americans had security clearances.

Increasing amounts of information are classified as secret. 

In 2011 alone, government employees made 92 million decisions on whether or not to classify information. Doing so is hugely overkill. Unauthorized disclosure is verboten.

Government employees revealing what the administration wants kept secret are targeted. So are journalists for reporting it. Doing so  prevents them from doing their job.

According to Washington-based Financial Times correspondent Richard McGregor:

"Covering this White House is pretty miserable in terms of getting anything of substance to report on in what should be a much more open system."

CBS Washington correspondent Bob Schieffer calls the Obama administration "the most manipulative and secretive (one he ever) covered."

Bush administration officials were confrontational. E.W. Scripps Washington bureau chief Ellen Weiss calls the Obama administration "far worse."

Veteran political journalists Jim VandeHei and Mike Allen described its message machine as follows:

"One authentically new technique pioneered by the Obama White House is government creation of content - photos of the president, videos of White House officials, blog posts written by Obama aides - which can then be instantly released to the masses through social media." 

"And they are obsessed with taking advantage of Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and every other social media forum, not just for campaigning, but governing." 

"They are more disciplined about cracking down on staff that leak, or reporters who write things they don't like."

Veteran ABC White House correspondent Ann Compton said:

"There is no access to the daily business in the Oval Office, who the president meets with, who he gets advice from."

Important meetings aren't even listed on his public schedule. 

"In the past, we would often be called into the Roosevelt Room at the beginning of meetings to hear the president's opening remarks and see who’s in the meeting, and then we could talk to some of them outside on the driveway afterward." 

"This president has wiped all that coverage off the map. He's the least transparent of the seven presidents I've covered in terms of how he does his daily business."

Reporters complain about questions they ask going unanswered. Interview requests are denied.

Atlantic Media Washington correspondent Josh Meyer said he experiences "across-the board hostility."

"They don't return repeated phone calls and emails. They feel entitled to and expect supportive media coverage."

They complain about reports they don't like. "If a story is (something) they don't want to come out, they won't even give you the basic facts," said Politico's Josh Gerstein.

The Obama administration takes information control to a whole new level. Aggressively targeting whistleblowers and reporters compromises free expression.

Bradley Manning's prosecution was a turning point. So was targeting Edward Snowden.

CPJ cited numerous examples of government subpoenas demanding information sources give journalists.

It discussed sweeping NSA spying. Washington Post national security reporter Dana Priest said:

"People think they’re looking at reporters' records. I'm writing fewer things in email. I'm even afraid to tell officials what I want to talk about because it's all going into one giant computer."

CPJ expressed great concern saying:

It's "disturbed that the Obama administration has chilled the flow of information on issues of great public interest, including on matters of national security."

"The administration's war on leaks to the press though the use of secret subpoenas against news organizations, its assertion through prosecution that leaking classified documents to the press is espionage or aiding the enemy; and its increased limitations on access to information that is in the public interest - all thwart a free and open discussion necessary to a democracy."

CPJ executive director Joel Simon sent its report to the White House. He requested a meeting to discuss it.

"Here you have a portion of the Washington press corp affirming that this is an extraordinarily difficult administration to cover," he said. 

"You combine the different elements, for instance, the leak investigations, the failure to address the declassification issue, the fact that the administration has been extremely controlling in terms of access."

"Put all these together, and it paints a pretty damning picture of an administration that talks about openness and transparency but isn't willing to engage with the media around these issues."

Bush administration officials mostly raised concerns. At times they threatened. Doing so was largely posturing.

The Obama administration wages war on whistleblowers. It targets journalists for doing their job. 

Doing so reflects the most draconian crackdown on press freedom in US history. It's the new normal. 

Police states operate that way. Obama heads the worst of rogue governance. He threatens fundamental freedoms in the process.


Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at [email protected] 

His new book is titled "Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity."

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanII.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs Fridays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour

Extreme Political Correctness Is Making Public School Education Pure Hell For America’s Children

Political Correctness

Political correctness is taking over America, and this is especially true when it comes to our public schools.  In the United States today, our public schools are being transformed into “Big Brother” training centers where virtually everything that our children do inside and even outside of school is being monitored, tracked, scrutinized and put into permanent records.  As you will read about below, some U.S. public schools are now even monitoring the social media accounts of their students and are ready to pounce on any perceived violation.  “Zero tolerance” policies have been implemented at public schools nationwide, and if a student does break “the rules”, it can result in immediate arrest and it can end up haunting them for the rest of their lives.  Meanwhile, the content of the “educational instruction” that our children are receiving continues to decline.  At this point, public schools in American have become little more than government indoctrination centers, and a steady stream of politically correct propaganda is being endlessly pumped into their heads.  Our children may not know how to read, write or do math very well, but they sure do know how to let others do their thinking for them.  As a result, most of our public school students are dumb as a rock, and as you will see below a new study has found that U.S. adults “are dumber than the average human”.

Political correctness in our schools has become so pervasive that it has even crept into the playgrounds.  For example, footballs and baseballs have been deemed “dangerous” at one middle school in Long Island and have been permanently banned…

As CBS 2’s Jennifer McLogan reported Monday, officials at Weber Middle School in Port Washington are worried that students are getting hurt during recess. Thus, they have instituted a ban on footballs, baseballs, lacrosse balls, or anything that might hurt someone on school grounds.

But if that was the worst our kids had to put up with, they could certainly survive it.

Unfortunately, these days a single politically incorrect mistake by your kid could result in an arrest and being hauled out of school in handcuffs.  Just consider the following examples from a recent article by John Whitehead

These days, it is far too easy to rattle off the outrageous examples of zero tolerance policy run amok in our nation’s schools. A 14-year-old student arrested for texting in class. Three middle school aged boys in Florida thrown to the ground by police officers wielding rifles, who then arrested them for goofing off on the roof of the school. A 9-year-old boy suspended for allegedly pointing a toy at a classmate and saying “bang, bang.” Two 6-year-old students in Maryland suspended for using their fingers as imaginary guns in a schoolyard game of cops and robbers. A 12-year-old New York student hauled out of school in handcuffs for doodling on her desk with an erasable marker. An 8-year-old boy suspended for making his hand into the shape of a gun, in violation of the school district’s policy prohibiting “playing with invisible guns.” A 17-year-old charged with a felony for keeping his tackle box in his car parked on school property, potentially derailing his chances of entering the Air Force. Two seventh graders in Virginia suspended for the rest of the school year for playing with airsoft guns in their own yard before school.

This is the constant danger that is looming over the heads of our public school students today.  And what makes this even worse are the “zero tolerance” policies that have been put in place all over the country.  It does not matter if your kid is a straight A student that has never done a single thing wrong.  If your kid breaks the politically correct rules, the hammer will be brought down on your kid very hard.  And according to Whitehead, many schools are now continually monitoring the social media accounts of their students for any “violations”…

Despite a general consensus that zero tolerance policies have failed to have any appreciable impact on student safety, schools have doubled down on these policies to the detriment of children all across the nation. Indeed, the zero tolerance mindset is so entrenched among school administrators all over America that we are now seeing school officials reaching into the personal lives of students to police their behavior at all times. For example, 13,000 students in the Glendale Unified School District in California are now being subjected to constant social media monitoring by school officials. Superintendent Richard Sheehan has hired private firm Geo Listening to analyze the public social media posts of students both off and on campus. Whether on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, or any other social media platform, students will have their posts and comments analyzed for evidence of “bullying, cyber-bullying, hate and shaming activities, depression, harm and self harm, self hate and suicide, crime, vandalism, substance abuse and truancy.”

Unfortunately, the Glendale program is simply one component of a larger framework in which all student activity is treated as an open book by school administrators. What we are witnessing is a paradigm shift in American society, in which no personal activity is safe from the prying eyes of government agents and their corporate allies. Every decision and action, no matter how innocent, is scrutinized, analyzed, filed, stored, and eventually held against you when those in power feel like it.

You can read the remainder of Whitehead’s outstanding article right here.

So does it make you feel safer knowing that school authorities are “monitoring” your kids at all times?

And while they are sitting in the classroom, the goal is to “shape young minds” to accept the politically correct agenda of the progressives.

If parents only knew what was going on in these classrooms they would be absolutely shocked.  For example, one sixth grade class in Arkansas was recently given an assignment to “revise” the Bill of Rights because it has become “outdated”

Sixth graders at the Bryant School District in Arkansas were given an assignment to “revise” the “outdated” Bill of Rights by deleting and replacing two amendments, using the “War on Terror” and the Patriot Act as a guide.

The worksheet, which is the first Constitutional assignment of the school year, tells students that they will be on a “National Revised Bill of Rights Task Force” who will “prioritize, prune, and add amendments” for a “Revised Bill of Rights.”

“The government of the United States is currently revisiting the Bill of Rights,” the assignment states. “They have determined that it is outdated and may not remain in its current form any longer.”

Is that the kind of stuff that you want your kid to be taught?

Meanwhile, the reading, writing and math skills of U.S. students continue to decline.  The following is an excerpt from a recent article by Dave Hodges

For the most part, the end product our schools are producing is grossly substandard. SAT reading scores have declined to 40 year lows and there is no sign of a rebound. Since reading is the key to all knowledge, we are sending our children to a gunfight with a butter knife. Before the defenders of the public school system raise their voices in opposition, everyone needs to realize that our school children have been under attack for decades. Even the best educators have referred to our public education system as “the deliberate dumbing down of America.”

The results of our foolish national experiment with progressive education are predictable.  A brand new international study just released by the U.S. Department of Education revealed that “U.S. adults are dumber than the average human“.  The following is how USA Today described the findings of the study…

Americans have been hearing for years that their kids are lagging behind the rest of the developed world in skills. Now it’s the adults’ turn for a reality check.

A first-ever international comparison of the labor force in 23 industrialized nations shows that Americans ages 16 to 65 fall below international averages in basic problem-solving, reading and math skills, with gaps between the more- and less-educated in the USA larger than those of many other countries.

What is the solution?

Well, it would be nice if our public schools would stop doing all of the politically correct garbage and would start focusing on reading, writing and math again.

But we all know that is not going to happen.

So it is up to individual parents to make the choices that are going to be right for their own children.  Our kids are not going to be getting a high quality education in the public schools, but they are not going to be able to be successful in life without one.

About the author: Michael T. Snyder is a former Washington D.C. attorney who now publishes The Truth. His new thriller entitled “The Beginning Of The End” is now available on Amazon.com.

Michael T. Snyder's Shocking New Novel About The Future Of America

Extreme Political Correctness Is Making Public School Education Pure Hell For America’s Children

Political correctness is taking over America, and this is especially true when it comes to our public schools.  In the United States today, our public schools are being transformed into “Big Brother” training centers where virtually everything that our children do inside and even outside of school is being monitored, tracked, scrutinized and put [...]

The Surveillance State: In Britain, Everything Is Not Okay!

Global Research and Countercurrents 22/6/2013, The Market Oracle 23/6/2013 and Deccan Herald 27/6/2013

“The innocent have everything to fear, mostly from the guilty, but in the longer term even more from those who say things like ‘The innocent have nothing to fear.’" Terry Pratchett (British author), in Snuff (Doubleday, 2011).

For many people, personal privacy vs widespread surveillance has been a major issue for decades. However, some thought mass spying on us has been happening but chose to downplay it. Others didn’t want to know and just didn’t care. Edward Snowden’s recent revelations indicate it is happening and that we should all care.    

Former National Security Agency (NSA) worker turned whistleblower Edward Snowden has now turned his attention to the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), the British equivalent of the NSA. On Friday, Snowden released documents to The Guardian newspaper in the UK to back up his claims that GCHQ has secretly accessed fibre optic cables carrying huge amounts of internet and communications data. According to The Guardian, the agency is able to tap into, analyse and store data. Snowden told the newspaper that the NSA has a more prolific British ally in GCHQ. (GCHQ is one of three UKintelligence agencies, alongside MI5 and MI6.)

“It’s not just a US problem. The UK has a huge dog in this fight… They (GCHQ) are worse than the US.” Edward Snowden

Although it is physically impossible for the intelligence agencies to read everyone’s emails, for instance, GCHQ can apparently record phone calls, read email and Facebook postings and review website traffic if they so wish. It can also access entire web use histories on individuals. Although GCHQ can only store certain data for 30 days, the Guardian says the practice is subject to little scrutiny. GCHQ operation can tap cables that carry global communications with the potential to carry 600 million daily ‘telephone events’.

“If GCHQ have been intercepting huge numbers of innocent people's communications as part of a massive sweeping exercise, then I struggle to see how that squares with a process that requires a warrant for each individual intercept.” Nick Pickles, Big Brother Watch director, as reported in The Guardian, 22 June.

This massive interception effort operates under two programmes: Mastering the Internet and Global Telecoms Exploitation. GCHQ is tapping 200 internet links, each with a data rate of 10Gbps, and the agency has the technical capacity to concurrently analyze 46 of these 200 streams of data at a time.

The revelations come alongside reports of the NSA snooping on US and international citizens via the metadata held on them by telecommunication companies, and secret data-sharing agreements between the NSA and consumer-web giants, such as Facebook, Google, Apple and others under the PRISM scheme.

GCHQ is able to capitalize on the UK's position at the edge of Western Europe, by tapping into the vast quantity of data flowing through cables around the UK and abroad. Over 300 GCHQ and 250 NSA analysts sift through the data, which they use to identify communications relating to security, terror, organized crime, and economic well-being.

Britain and the US are the founding members of the Five-Eyes intelligence sharing agreement. The Five-Eyes are members of a special club of former British colonies that gather and intelligence with each other. AustraliaCanadaand New Zealand are the three other members.

According to The Guardian, Britain's ability to tap these fibre-optic cables makes it the web eavesdropping powerhouse of the Five-Eyes, with the documents provided by Snowden saying that of the five, Britain has "the biggest Internet access."

The Guardian reports that British personnel on the team of 300 GCHQ and 250 NSA analysts sifting through the data have "a light oversight regime compared to the US"

The newspaper reports that 850,000 NSA and employees and private American contractors have been able to access to the information gathered by CGHQ. One of the documents quotes NSA boss Gen. Keith Alexander as urging British spies to collect everything they could.
"Why can't we collect at the signals, all the time? Sounds like a good summer homework project for Menwith," is written at the top of a slide shown by the Guardian that supposedly quotes Alexander during a 2008 visit to the UK. The slide is titled, "Collect-it-all."
Menwith refers to RAF Menwith Hill, a secret signals intelligence gathering facility in the Yorkshire countryside run by the US.
GCHQ operatives tapped the fibre-optic cables over the last five years at the point where the transatlantic cables reach British shores - these cables move Internet and telephone data from North America to Western Europe.  All of this was done with agreements with the communications companies, described by the document as "intercept partners."
Last week, Deputy U.S. Attorney General Robert Cole defended bulk collection of cellphone data and other business records to US lawmakers:
"If you're looking for a needle in a haystack, you've got to get the haystack first," said Cole during a June 18 House intelligence committee hearing on the matter. "That's why we have the ability under the [FISA] court order, to acquire . . . all of that data, we don't get to use all of that data, necessarily." As reported by John Reed in Foreign Policy on 21 June.
Britain and the US are rapidly perfecting the system to allow them to capture and analyse a large quantity of international traffic consisting of emails, texts, phone calls, internet searches, chat, photographs, blogposts, videos and the many uses of Google.
Writing in The Guardian on Friday 21 June, Henry Porter states:
“Mastering the Internet treats the rights of billions of foreign web users, the possible menace to the privacy of British and American citizens and the duties of their legislators with equal contempt. After Iraq and the banking crash, the world may come to see MTI as further evidence of a heedless delinquency in two of the world's oldest democracies.”
Porter talks about the lack of meaningful oversight in both countries, the use of commercial companies in the surveillance process and the wholesale disregard for the fundamentals of both countries’ democratic principles. Shami Chakrabarti, director of civil rights organisation Liberty, says that GCHQ are exploiting the fact that the internet is so international in nature and that what's holding them back from going further is technological capability, certainly not ethics (1).

Why it matters, really matters
For too long, the majority in Britain has been led to believe that governments in major western liberal democracies operate with benign intentions, that the government acts on our behalf and in our interests and that only those with something to hide have anything to fear. The belief is forwarded that the loss of liberty and intrusions into our personal privacy are small prices to pay for ensuring our safety in a barbaric world that wants to attack and inflict terror on us.
It’s all part of the dominant narrative. It’s all part of a dominant narrative that seeks to mislead and to mask the real essence of power and the true nature of intent behind notions of patriotism, nationalism, bowing down to the flag, militarism and that ‘we’, ‘the nation’ are in united in cause and belief.   
What Snowden’s revelations illustrate is the unaccountable face of power. And this should concern us because it’s not the greater good of humankind, queen, flag or country that this power serves. It ultimately serves capital and the extremely wealthy, whose interests are diametrically opposed to those of ordinary people across the world (2).

Look no further to see who funds the major political parties or individual politicians to do their bidding. Look no further than the backgrounds of many of these politicians. But, most important, look no further to see who owns the major corporations and banks and who sits on the bodies that hammer out major policies (3)(4)(5). It is the powerful foundations and think tanks headed or funded by private corporations that drive US and British policies, whether at home or abroad, and that includes the Project for a New American Century (6) and the resultant ongoing war of terror waged on countries across the world.

Western liberal democracy has been quite successful in making many at home blind to the chains that bind and which make them immune to the falsehoods that underpin the system. However, with the economic meltdown, ‘austerity’, increasing public awareness of corporate crimes, disillusionment with mainstream politics and the ramping up of wars, paranoia and the stripping away of civil liberties, social control is no longer able to operate on the relatively benign level that it once did. The collapse of the economic system and its propping up has laid bare just who that system is set up to benefit. State violence and mass surveillance is now part of the changing agenda of liberal democracy that is no longer able to hide behind the pretence of being liberal or democratic. The mask has slipped and we are right to be concerned.

“The world has evidence of the totally monitored future that GCHQ and NSA plan for us and that political establishments turn a blind eye to…. fear still trumps everything. On Tuesday, the head of NSA, General Keith B Alexander, and the director of the FBI, Robert Mueller, insisted that many terror plots had been stopped by surveillance. In Britain, the foreign secretary, William Hague… was joined by three former home secretaries, Jack Straw, Lord (John) Reid and Alan Johnson, to reassure us that mass surveillance was indeed necessary to make interdictions and… that further powers were needed… The point about these latest revelations is that they show there are more than adequate powers for interception on both sides of the Atlantic and that the terror agenda and, to a lesser degree, the fear of paedophilia, may well have been used to elaborate a huge system of espionage and domestic surveillance.” – Henry Porter, The Guardian 21 June.

Notes

Sources for this article
The Guardian 21 and 22 June

Don’t Worry About Surveillance: In Britain, Everything’s Okay!

Global Research and Countercurrents 12/6/2013 and The 4th Media 21/6/2013

In the name of ‘humanitarian intervention’, a ‘war on terror’, fighting for ‘democratic freedoms’ or whatever the script happens to be this week, British Foreign Secretary William Hague can be relied on to sell US-British militarism to a public fed up with constant wars and (increasingly less) ignorant of their underlying reasons (1).    

In Syria, Hague has worked to try to replace Assad with a regime that could be controlled by the US and Israel. He has also campaigned for the EU to lift its arms embargo from the anti-Assad militants. Hague is a staunch supporter of Israel. His attitude towards Israel has been well documented: his dislike of the Syrian regime is backed up by a tangible strategy of aggression and destabilization, while mere lip service is paid to the protecting Palestinians or their treatment and plight (2). This is the same William Hague who declared that the intention was not regime change in Libya, but to protect civilians. The US and its allies, including Britain, helped instigate and fuel the war in Libya (3), and NATO bombs and western supported regime change have subsequently left over 100,000 Libyans dead, thousands more injured and much civilian infrastructure destroyed. 


During the Libyan conflict, 200 prominent African figures accused western nations of “subverting international law” in Libya. The UN had been misused to militarise policy, legalise military action and effect regime change, according to University of Johannesburg professor Chris Landsberg. He stated that it was unprecedented for the UN to have outsourced military action to NATO in this way and challenged the International Criminal Court to investigate NATO for “violating international law.” 


Rather than being held to account for the death and destruction in Libya, Hague has carried on where he left off with strong rhetoric directed towards Iran and a call for sanctions (4) and a concerted commitment to topple the Syrian government by force (5) (6) (7). For public consumption, this is all spuriously carried out under the banner of humanitarianism or in the name of global security.


As a client state of the US (mainstream British media often portray this as a ‘special relationship), Britain can be relied on to do Washington’s bidding. When Hague beats the drum over LibyaAfghanistanSyria or Iran, the drum is provided courtesy of Washington and Tel Aviv. Foreign Secretary Hague beats it on cue. 


It all begs the question, how much trust can we place in someone like Hague, especially when they try to reassure the British public that British intelligence services do not illegally snoop on the British population?  


Documents leaked by former US intelligence worker Edward Snowden suggest GCHQ, the British Government’s ‘listening post’ in CheltenhamEngland (equivalent to the US National Security Agency), may have had access to the US spy programme PRISM since at least June 2010.


Hague has told the British parliament that British spies have not used US surveillance programmes to get around laws restricting their ability to eavesdrop on the public in Britain. He has said that there is no indiscriminate trawling for information through the contents of people's communications and GCHQ operates within a strict legal framework.


Hague has stated: "It has been suggested that GCHQ uses our partnership with the United States to get around UK law, obtaining information that they cannot legally obtain in the United Kingdom… I wish to be absolutely clear that this accusation is baseless."

Every time GCHQ wants to intercept an individual's communications, Hague asserts that the agency must seek a warrant signed by him, the interior minister or another secretary of state. He asserts that every decision is based on extensive legal and policy advice and warrants are legally required to be necessary, proportionate and carefully targeted.


The UK's 2001 Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA) permits international agreements that allow "mutual assistance in connection with, or in the form of, interception of communication," providing the foreign secretary has given his authority. It also allows for the interception of the content of both domestic communications and communications between the UK and elsewhere, provided a warrant has been signed, usually by a minister.


The 1994 Intelligence Services Act gives senior ministers the power to "disapply" UK law when granting written permission. This legislation ensures that no UK intelligence agency or officer is likely to be sued or prosecuted in Britain as a result of any mass surveillance operation.


In the US, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) gives US intelligence agencies wide-ranging powers to conduct surveillance of data that is held by or passes through the US: it provides for the gathering of information that may not only protect the US against hostile acts but which "is necessary to … the conduct of the foreign affairs of the United States.”


The US government can therefore basically do what it deems necessary to maintain its global hegemony. It has access to huge amounts of global data thanks to the numerous sophisticated ‘listening posts’ the US has on foreign soil. The NSA's largest eavesdropping centre outside the US is based in North Yorkshire. It is a satellite receiving station that monitors foreign military traffic, but can also access Britain's telecommunications network. The US military refer to the ‘golf ball’ encased satellite systems there as helping to secure full spectrum dominance of land, sea, air, space and information. Writer Garbrielle Pickard believes its presence entails the US having full spectrum control over the UK (8).


Given that the US thus has access to so much data beyond its national borders, it is easy to see just why the issue of the British government circumventing British law to access information held by the US on British citizens is of vital concern to the public. Even more so given Hague argues that the growing and diffuse nature of threats from terrorists, criminals or espionage has only increased the importance of Britain’s intelligence relationship with the United States.


In a more general sense, the underlying message being put forward by officialdom is that ‘no one has anything to fear as long as you are not terrorists or some other threat to national interest.’ In an age of perceived terror threats and subsequent clampdowns on civil liberties as a result of the illegal wars and covert and overt interventions abroad that politicians like Hague attempt to justify on fallacious grounds, just who does that rule out? The ‘terror threat’ and vague notions of the ‘national interest’ are highly convenient reasons for including anyone or everyone in the surveillance net.


What about Muslims, dissidents, civil-liberties types, ‘trouble-makers’, environmental campaigners, 'occupy' individuals, ‘lefties’, trade unionists, human rights activists or particular writers, bloggers and journalists? Surveillance and the infiltration of groups deemed ‘subversive’ (but working well within the law and an integral part of plural democracy) have been carried out by the intelligence services for many decades (9). In pointing out some of these types of activities, Annie Machon in The Guardian notes that real democracies don’t infiltrate legitimate protest groups. But, as she notes, in Britain they do (10).


A key element here is that of trust. Do we trust what politicians like Hague say or do? Do we trust our governments? Should we trust Google, Facebook and any other company that stores our personal details (11)?


NSA whitleblower Edward Snowden apparently thinks we should not. He wanted to expose the “omniscient state powers kept in check by nothing more than policy documents.” Dennis Mitchell, a senior GCHQ officer, who retired in 1984 in protest at the Thatcher government's ban on trade unions there, referred to "actions which I believe would be considered unacceptable by the general public were it aware of them". He described GCHQ as a powerful, unaccountable arm of government. According to him, the only real watchdog at that time was the workforce, not the law.



Perhaps Snowden or Mitchell might agree to some extent with Michael Foucault’s premise that society now resembles a bright modern prison. Foucault warned that the bright visibility is a trap (12). Increasing visibility (on Facebook, Twitter, Google, etc) leads to power being located on an individualised level throughout a person's entire life. Foucault suggested that a ‘carceral continuum’ runs through modern society, from the maximum security prison, through secure accommodation, probation, social workers, police and teachers, to our everyday working and domestic lives. In this digital age, now more than ever before.


Under the guise of fighting the so-called ‘war on terror’, combating weapons proliferation and gathering economic intelligence, institutions such as GCHQ and the NSA are, in reality, operating a highly intrusive Big Brother Police State Surveillance Empire that is being used to specifically monitor the activities of genuine political opposition and dissent, as well as undermine the privacy, freedom and constitutional civil liberties of targeted peoples and nations throughout the world… Identification technologies such as video surveillance, biometrics and national ID cards will undoubtedly find their way into the sprawling informational GCHQ/NSA vortex, eventually rendering all personal, communal, commercial, economic, and political control to the State - a system of absolute tyranny that can only be labeled as ‘global slavery’.” Steve Jones (13).


Notes





Council Used ‘Private Eye’ For Covert Surveillance

A Freedom of Information Request by Big Brother Watch has revealed that Bolton council hired a private investigator to secretly conduct surveillance.

A ‘Conspiracy Of Silence’ Over Web Snooping

Privacy International, The Open Rights Group and Big Brother Watch have jointly launched an attack on some of the UK's biggest Internet service providers over their part in maintaining a 'conspiracy of silence' with the government.

Stop Whining About Privacy, Bloomberg Says

Stop Whining About Privacy, Bloomberg Says

Posted on Mar 23, 2013
jonathan mcintosh (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Cameras record your every step on a corner in Manhattan’s Financial District.

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg doesn’t think your concerns about privacy in a world of city- and drone-mounted surveillance cameras are important. His advice to radio audiences Friday morning? “Get used to it!”

Bloomberg’s tough-guy, fatalistic attitude is well and fine for a man with $27 billion. He can buy all the privacy he wants. But you can’t. And he doesn’t care.

“You wait, in five years, the technology is getting better, ther’ll be cameras everyplace ... whether you like it or not,” Bloomberg said.

“The argument against using automation is just this craziness that ‘Oh, it’s Big Brother,’ ” he continued. “Get used to it!”

—Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.

NY Daily News:

The New York Civil Liberties Union has documented nearly 2,400 surveillance cameras fixed on public spaces in Manhattan alone. Many are operated by the police, others by poroperty owners.

In Lower Manhattan, an initiative developed after 9/11 known as the “Ring of Steel” integrates the NYPD’s cameras with those of banks and other institutions.

But in the future, the cameras won’t just be planted on buildings and utility poles. Some of them will be able to fly, the mayor pointed out.

Read more

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US Begins Regulating BitCoin, Will Apply “Money Laundering” Rules To Virtual Transactions

Last November, in an act of sheer monetary desperation, the ECB issued an exhaustive, and quite ridiculous, pamphlet titled "Virtual Currency Schemes" in which it mocked and warned about the "ponziness" of such electronic currencies as BitCoin. Why a central bank would stoop so "low" to even acknowledge what no "self-respecting" (sic) PhD-clad economist would even discuss, drunk and slurring, at cocktail parties, remains a mystery to this day. However, that it did so over fears the official artificial currency of the insolvent continent, the EUR, may be becoming even more "ponzi" than the BitCoins the ECB was warning about, was clear to everyone involved who saw right through the cheap propaganda attempt. Feel free to ask any Cypriot if they would now rather have their money in locked up Euros, or in "ponzi" yet freely transferable, unregulated BitCoins.

For the answer, we present the chart showing the price of BitCoin in EUR terms since the issuance of the ECB's paper:

Therein, sadly, lies the rub.

As central banks have been able to manipulate the price of precious metals for decades, using a countless plethora of blatant and not so blatant trading techniques, whether involving "banging the close", abusing the London AM fix, rehypothecating and leasing out claims on gold to short and re-short the underlying, creating paper gold exposure out of thin air with which to suppress deliverable prices, or simply engaging in any other heretofore unknown illegal activity, the parabolic surge in gold and silver has, at least for the time being - and especially since the infamous, and demoralizing May 1, 2011 silver smackdown - lost its mojo.

But while precious metals have been subject to price manipulation by the legacy establishment, even if ultimately the actual physical currency equivalent asset, its "value" naively expressed in some paper currency, may be in the possession of the beholder, to date no price suppression or regulation schemes of virtual currencies existed.

It was thus only a matter of time before the same establishment was forced to make sure that money leaving the traditional M0/M1/M2/M3 would not go into alternative electronic currency venues, but would instead be used to accelerate the velocity of the money used by the legacy, and quite terminal, monetary system.

After all, what if not pushing savers to spend, spend, spend and thus boost the money in circulation, was the fundamental purpose of the recent collapse in faith in savings held with European banks?

So, as we had long expected, the time when the global Keynesian status quo refocused its attention from paper gold and silver prices, to such "virtual" currencies as BitCoin has finally arrived.

The WSJ reports that, "the U.S. is applying money-laundering rules to "virtual currencies," amid growing concern that new forms of cash bought on the Internet are being used to fund illicit activities. The move means that firms that issue or exchange the increasingly popular online cash will now be regulated in a similar manner as traditional money-order providers such as Western Union Co. They would have new bookkeeping requirements and mandatory reporting for transactions of more than $10,000. Moreover, firms that receive legal tender in exchange for online currencies or anyone conducting a transaction on someone else's behalf would be subject to new scrutiny, said proponents of Internet currencies.

And just like that, there goes a major part of the allure of all those virtual currencies such as BitCoin that consumers had turned to, and away from such rapidly devaluing units of exchange as the dollar and euro. Because if there was one medium of exchange that was untouched, unregulated, and unmediated by the US government and other authoritarian, despotic regimes around the insolvent "developed world", it was precisely transactions involving BitCoin.

That is no longer the case, as the bloodhound of the Federal Reserve has now turned its attention toward BitCoin, and will not stop until it crashes both its value to end-users, and its utility, in yet another attempt to force the USD, and other fiat, upon global consumers as the only forms of allowed legal tender.

More from the WSJ:

The rising popularity of virtual currencies, while no more than a drop in the bucket of global liquidity, is being fueled by Internet merchants, as well as users' concerns about privacy, jitters about traditional currencies in Europe and the age-old need to move money for illicit purposes.

The arm of the Treasury Department that fights money laundering said Monday that the standard federal banking rules aimed at suspicious dollar transfers also apply to firms that issue or exchange money that isn't linked to any government and exists only online.

Naturally, the actual object of US monetary persecution, is BitCoin:

"We are beyond the stage where this was just funny money and a fun online thing. This is used as a currency," said Nicolas Christin, associate director of Carnegie Mellon University's Information Networking Institute.

Bitcoins can be used in a host of legitimate transactions—for example, website Reddit allows users to upgrade services using bitcoins and blog service Wordpress.com's store accepts them as a form of payment. Pizzaforcoins.com also lets bitcoin savers pay for deliveries through Domino's and other pizzerias.

The problem with virtual currencies is that defining what is permitted in a narrow regulatory sense, is impossible, which is why any definition will be as broad as possible: after all what better way to spook users than to make virtually any transaction borderline illegal:

Creating clear-cut rules for virtual currencies is difficult. A FinCen official said that anti-money-laundering rules would apply depending on the "factors and circumstances" of each business. The rules don't apply to individuals who simply use virtual currencies to purchase real or virtual goods.

The new guidance "clarifies definitions and expectations to ensure that businesses…are aware of their regulatory responsibilities," said Jennifer Shasky Calvery, FinCen director.

The FBI report last year said Bitcoin attracts cybercriminals who want to move or steal funds. "Bitcoin might also logically attract money launderers and other criminals who avoid traditional financial systems by using the Internet to conduct global monetary transfers," the report said. An FBI spokeswoman declined to comment when asked about the agency's concerns regarding virtual currencies.

We were not the only ones to expect imminent intervention from Big Brother:

Some firms say they anticipated the rules. Charlie Sherm, chief executive of bitcoin payment processor BitInstant, said his company is already compliant.

Mr. Christin of Carnegie Mellon said that he believes Bitcoin's dominant use right now is speculation.

"When you have a commodity or currency whose value has grown as rapidly as Bitcoin it makes sense to hold on to it as a speculative instrument," he said. It also is commonly used for online black markets or gambling sites. "Whether used for money laundering…there is no smoking gun."

As to the question of timing - why now - the answer is simple. Europe. After all, it was only yesterday that we wrote that "In Spain, The Bitcoin Run Has Started." It is self-explanatory that if such an exodus away from legacy currencies and into BitCoin was left unchecked, more and more people would follow suit, which is why it had to be intercepted as early as possible.

The jump in the bitcoin exchange rate this week also coincides with concerns euros could be taken from retail bank accounts in Cyprus to fund a bailout. Internet blogs say speculators are looking toward currency alternatives.

Well, if internet blogs say... Of course, internet blogs also say that if and when the fascination with virtual currencies fizzles, all those who are disgusted with the abuse of fiat will not cease from seeking USD, EUR, JPY, GBP and CHF alternatives, but will merely go back to the safety of having hard assets as a currency, namely silver and gold, instead of electronic ones and zeroes, which the US government, in all its Orwellian benevolence may one day, for lack of a better word, hack right out of existence.

On the other hand, the regime's desperation is reaching such a level that a Executive Order 6102-type confiscation of all hard asset currencies may not be far behind.

Because forewarned, is forearmed.

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My Friend the Iraqi

My friend and I meet early for breakfast, cappuccinos and chocolate croissants at a French bakery in downtown Brooklyn, N.Y. My friend – I’ll call him Abraham — shows up in a dark suit and tie, an overcoat and a top hat, minus the prayer cap he sometimes wears.A photo of "Abraham," an Iraqi who became an American citizen on the anniversary of the U.S. invasion. He asked that his identity be protected. (Photo courtesy of the author)

“Are you nervous?” I ask.

“A little bit,” he says, as we walk through a rainy morning toward the courthouse.

On the way his father calls to check in, and to share news from home. Multiple bombings in Baghdad. More than 60 dead. “He’s on old man now, he deserves to live in peace.” Abraham sighs, and lights a cigarette as we cross busy Jay Street and turn the corner toward Cadman Plaza, heading toward the Theodore Roosevelt Federal Courthouse, a shiny new building a few blocks from the Brooklyn Bridge. “But just for this one morning I feel like acting like a selfish American. I don’t want to worry about it. I want to be happy.”

It’s Tuesday, March 19, 2013, 10 years to the day after the U.S. invaded Iraq and began an occupation that spawned a bloody civil war and led to one of the worst refugee crises in the Middle East in half a century. Abraham fled death threats in Baghdad to become one of those millions of refugees, and here he is today with a letter in his hand from the U.S. government confirming that he’s passed his citizenship test, and inviting him to take the oath of citizenship. And because I’ve never been to a swearing in ceremony before, and because over the years Abraham and I have developed a deep and quirky friendship that isn’t quite like any other I have in this town, here I am too.

At the courthouse we relinquish our phones and cameras at the door and pass through the metal detectors. Abraham is ushered into a packed courtroom, and I’m sent up to a crowded cafe on the floor above where other friends and relatives of soon to be naturalized Americans are sitting, waiting and watching a big-screen TV in the corner that functions as a sort of “Big Brother Courtroom,” broadcasting the proceedings downstairs in real time, which for quite some hours is also mostly people sitting, watching, waiting.

Then there’s Abraham up on the big screen, fidgeting and standing in line to pass in his old travel documents, and I feel this immense surge of feelings for the guy. For all he’s been through. For all this country has put him through, has put his family through, has put his country through. And for everything that’s been possible for him here, and what will continue to be possible for him here now. And I think, “Goddamn, he deserves this.” Goddamn, he’s an American now.

* * *

I met Abraham on a winter night about five years ago, in Astoria Queens. He’d been referred to me by a former USAID officer in Iraq who was now back in the States, who’d started an organization to track the exploding population of Iraqis who had fled the country, or were seeking to flee, because their work with the U.S. government or related companies or organizations put them at risk from the bewildering proliferation of armed groups and sectarian militias. I’d written a few articles on the topic and it was a story I wanted to keep on top of.

We ate dinner together that evening and he told me the basics; his move back to Baghdad from the Emirates after the invasion and Saddam’s ouster, hoping to take part in reconstruction. Landing a job as a translator with USAID, meeting Americans, seeing the Green Zone up close and personal. And things quickly going from bad to worse. Car bombs and shootouts, friends killed, the death threats. Then the escape: flying to Mumbai on forged documents, getting turned back and deported to Syria, then eventually to Cairo, where Abraham is arrested, tortured and imprisoned in an Egyptian jail, before finally getting registered with the U.N., and after months of living in limbo, flown to the U.S. on a refugee visa.

In many ways Abraham is one of the lucky ones. Before his first-term election, President Obama vowed massive support for Iraqi refugees, for the millions displaced throughout the region as a result of the war, and more specifically for those Iraqis who’d worked as translators, interpreters or support staff for the U.S. Army or U.S. contractors in Iraq. Now 15 months after full U.S. troop withdrawal and well into Obama’s second term, fewer than 20 percent of the special immigrant visas meant to assist these Iraqis have actually been granted, according to this recent McClatchy story, meaning that tens of thousands of Iraqis who worked directly for the U.S. remain shut out.

In New York Abraham’s first job is with the same NGO that helped him get to the States, listening to nightmare stories from displaced Iraqis around the world, and helping them try to navigate a byzantine American resettlement bureaucracy that seems structurally designed to keep as many of them out as possible.

“When Obama was reelected, I thought America was a country that corrects itself,” he tells me over dinner in the East Village a week or so before the swearing in ceremony. “But I’ve learned Americans don’t like sad stories, so I can see why they don’t want Iraqis around.”

Abraham shares a sage bit of advice he received from a fellow student at Columbia University a few years back, where he completed a masters in international human rights law. “At first I was honest when other students would ask me about Iraq — that it’s a war, that it’s bloody, violent, no end in sight. But then this friend from India told me: ‘Don’t tell them the truth. Americans don’t want to hear sad stories. They’ll peg you as the negative guy.’ And I started to see this is true. I mean, nobody wants a friend who tells you how fat you are.”

Our friendship over the years has been punctuated by dinners like this. Good food, rambling conversation, and dark Iraqi humor. No topic is off-limits: swine flu, terrorism, suicide bombings. “An American once asked me if we have cars in Iraq,” he once tells me over dinner many years ago. “I told him of course we do. How do you think we make car bombs?”

My friend’s observations on American culture and politics, often couched in humor, are consistently spot on, especially his take on a particular kind of American know-it-all-ness that plays out just as much in casual relationships as it does in a media environment where talking heads pontificating about, say, Iraq are almost never, you know, Iraqi.

“The funny thing here is that people always try to teach me about Iraq. They say, ‘Saddam was a very bad man,’ in the same way my English teacher used to say, ‘Repeat after me, very bad.’ I feel like a lot of times I’m the entrée for many Americans, because I’m ‘the good guy’ who used to work with the U.S. government. People listen to me, then they interrupt me.”

There are plenty of reasons Abraham and I have become good friends, but one of them is definitely this shared comedic sense of the absurd. One night over Korean barbecue we hatched a plan for a “Candid Camera”-style series we wanted to launch, called, “Shariah: America, Are You Ready?” We would travel to Tennessee, where a number of towns had begun to pass strict anti-Sharia ordinances to stamp out the Muslim menace, and set ourselves up in a grocery store parking lot. Abraham would wear his prayer cap and grow out his beard, and I’d throw on a full body chador to pose as his subservient wife, but more important, to operate the hidden camera. We’d ask shoppers to sign a petition in support of a pro-Shariah ordinance and watch the sparks fly.

Like many of our late-night dinner schemes it never quite got off the ground, but our shared sense of the absurd is also sometimes not so funny. Two years ago, I worked with my friend on a letter to the editor to the New York Times, ultimately never published, about his feelings as an Iraqi refugee watching the uprisings of the Arab Spring from afar. Here’s a snippet:

This spring and summer we Iraqis watched with envy as our brothers and sisters in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and now Syria had their moment in history. For generations to come those societies will have stories passed down from generation to generation, about the time when the people rose up against tyranny, and claimed their democracy. The stories us Iraqis will tell our children will be quite different. They will be about what happened when American tanks rolled into Baghdad, and about how in the ensuing years the country, already scarred and debilitated after decades under Saddam’s rule, further splintered, shattered, and fell apart under a brutal occupation and the chaos that it unleashed. We Iraqis deserved a better story to pass down, but we were deprived of that right. We were deprived of our moment in history.

And yet here in America is where Abraham is choosing to make his home. And here is where he wants to bring his family so they can retire in a quiet place, so his dad can garden, so his mother can read, so they don’t have to live through weekly bombings in their final years.

* * *

Abraham walks out of the courtroom with his citizenship certificate in hand, and two colleagues greet him at the courtroom door. They’ve come as a surprise. I snap a few photos and we walk out together — they’ll be ushering him off to a “surprise” party at work that is no longer much of a surprise. Like many unexpected things about his new life in the U.S., he now works full-time at a big NGO dedicated to monitoring and fighting hate groups and hate speech, the only Muslim in an office full of New York Jews.

Which reminds me of something Abraham told me the other night, while reflecting on the road that led him to today. “It takes some real chutzpah, as we say here, for somebody to challenge me being here, as if I came here on a picnic and overstayed my visa. I’ve become American the hard way.”

© 2013 Salon.com

Joseph Huff-Hannon

Joseph Huff-Hannon is an award-winning writer and a Senior Campaigner with Avaaz.org, a global human rights and social justice campaigning network with 20+ million members. See more of his work at josephhuffhannon.com

Google Glass – Wearable Orwellian Surveillance Devices

Nick Pickles, Director of Big Brother Watch, has raised concern over new technology developed by Google. Google Glasses are wearable surveillance devices that can record every aspect of a users life, and those around them.

5 Ways Privatization Is Poisoning America

We all live better lives when the common good is not for sale.

March 10, 2013  |  

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It gets more maddening every day. Essential human needs are being packaged into products to be bought and sold. The right to food and water, education, health care, public spaces, and unrestricted speech shouldn't be based on who can pay the most, or on who can generate profits with the slickest marketing pitch.

The free-market capitalism that drives our economy is a doctrine of individuals pursuing profit. Nothing else matters. An executive for Roche, a healthcare company, said "We are not in the business to save lives, but to make money."

With privatization of the common good we risk losing both our heritage and our humanness.

1. The Taking of Public Land

Attempts to privatize federal land were made by the  Reagan administration in the 1980s and the Republican-controlled  Congress in the 1990s. In 2006, President Bush proposed  auctioning off 300,000 acres of national forest in 41 states.

The assault on our common areas continues with even greater ferocity today, as the euphemistic  Path to Prosperity has proposed to sell millions of acres of "unneeded federal land," and  libertarian groups like the  Cato Institute demand that our property be "allocated to the highest-value use." Mitt Romney admitted that he didn't know "what the purpose is" of public lands.

Examples of the takeaway are shocking.  Peabody Coal is strip-mining public lands in Wyoming and Montana and making a 10,000% profit on the meager amounts they pay for the privilege.  Sealaska is snatching up timberland in Alaska. The  Central Rockies Land Exchange would allow Bill Koch to pick up choice Colorado properties from the Bureau of Land Management, while neighboring Utah Governor Gary Herbert sees  land privatization as a way to reduce the deficit. Representative Cliff Stearns recommended that we  "sell off some of our national parks." One gold mining company even  invoked an 1872 law to grab mineral-rich Nevada land for which it stands to make a  million-percent profit.

The National Resources Defense Council just reported that oil and gas companies hold drilling and fracking rights on U.S. land equivalent to the size of California and Florida combined. Much of this land is "split estate," which means the company can drill under an American citizen's property without consent. Unrestrained by government regulations, TransCanada was able to use  eminent domain in Texas to lay its pipeline on private property and then have the owner arrested for trespassing on her own land, and  Chesapeake Energy Corporation overturned a 93-year-old law to frack a Texas residence without paying a penny to the homeowners. Most recently, the  oil frenzy in North Dakota has cheated Native Americans out of a billion dollars worth of revenue from drilling leases.

Away from the mountains and the plains, back in the cities of  Chicago and Indianapolis and L.A. and San Diego, our streets and parking spaces have been surrendered to corporations until the time of our great-grandchildren, with some of the  highest profit margins in the corporate world.

2. Water for Sale

The corporate invasion of the water market is well underway. In May 2000  Fortune Magazine called water "one of the world's great business opportunities..[It] promises to be to the 21st century what oil was to the 20th." Citigroup is on board, viewing water as a prime  investment, and perhaps the "single most important physical-commodity based asset class."

The vital human resource of water is being privatized and marketed  all over the country. In Pennsylvania and  California, the American Water Company took over towns and raised rates by 70% or more. In  Atlanta, United Water Services demanded more money from the city while prompting federal complaints about water quality. Shell owns  groundwater rights in Colorado, oil tycoon T. Boone Pickens is  buying up the water in drought-stricken Texas, and water in  Alaska is being pumped into tankers and sold in the Middle East.

A 2009 analysis of water and sewer utilities by Food and Water Watch  found that private companies charge up to 80 percent more for water and 100 percent more for sewer services. Various privatization abusesor failures occurred in California, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, New Jersey, and Rhode Island.

Of course, water monopolization is a global concern, and a life-threatening issue in undeveloped countries, where  884 million people are without safe drinking water and more than 2.6 billion people lack the means for basic sanitation. Whether in the U.S. or in the world's poorest nation, the folly of privatizing water is made clear by the  profit-seeking motives of business:

(1) Water corporations are primarily accountable to their stockholders, not to the people they serve.
(2) They will avoid serving low-income communities where bill collection might be an issue.
(3) Because of the risk to profits, there is less incentive to maintain infrastructure.

3. Owning Human Life

Monsanto and their agro-chemical partners call themselves the "life industry."

In 1980 a General Electric geneticist  engineered an oil-eating bacterium, effective against oil spills, and in the first case of its kind the Supreme Court ruled that "a live, human-made micro-organism is patentable subject matter." Fifteen years later a  World Trade Organization decision allowed plants, genes, and microorganisms to be owned as  intellectual property.

The results, not surprisingly, have been disastrous. One-fifth of the  human genome is privately owned through patents. Strains of influenza and hepatitis have been  claimed by corporate and university labs, and because of this researchers can't use the patented life forms to perform cancer research. Thus the cost of life-preserving tests often depends on the whim (and the market analysis) of the organization claiming ownership of the biological entity.

The results have also been otherworldly. In 1996 the U.S. National Institutes of Health attempted to  patent the blood cells of the primitive Hagahai tribesman of New Guinea. U.S. companies AgriDyne and W.R. Grace tried to gain  ownership of the neem plant, used for centuries in India for the making of medicines and natural pesticides. Other examples of  'biopiracy': The University of Cincinnati holds a patent on Brazil's guarana seed; the University of Mississippi holds a patent on the Asian spice turmeric.

Most tragically, tens of thousands of  Indian farmers, charged for seeds that they used to develop on their own, and forced to repurchase them every year, have been driven to suicide after experiencing crop failures and ruinous debt.

Monsanto is at the forefront of GMO seeds and litigation against vulnerable farmers. To date the company has won over half of its  patent infringement lawsuits. The Supreme Court is currently weighing the arguments in  Bowman vs. Monsanto, which asks if a company can have a claim on a farmer whose crops were derived from a seed already paid for. More significantly, the question is whether a company can claim the rights to a form of life that has been nurtured by communities of farmers for centuries.

4. Owning the Air

In polluted Beijing, wealthy entrepreneur  Chen Guangbiao is selling "fresh air" in a soft drink can for about 80 cents.

While Americans are not yet dependent on (real or imagined) breathing supplements, we have relinquished public access to the air in another important way: the  1996 Telecommunications Act led the way to a giveaway of the transmission airwaves to the broadcast media. Through an effective lobbying campaign the communications industry gained all the benefits of a lucrative public space without even a licensing fee. Objected  former Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole, "The airwaves are a natural resource. They do not belong to the broadcasters, phone companies or any other industry. They belong to the American people."

Closely related is our right to freedom of expression on the Internet, which has been repeatedly threatened, despite the presence of existing copyright laws, by aggressive proposals like the  Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect IP Act (PIPA). Privacy is at risk with the  Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA), passed in the House despite objections by Ron Paul and others who recognize the "Big Brother" implications of government monitoring of Google and Facebook accounts. The  Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act has facilitated the monitoring of foreign communications in the name of anti-terrorism.

A 2011  UNESCO report offered this worrisome insight: "..the control of information on the Internet and Web is certainly feasible, and technological advances do not therefore guarantee greater freedom of speech."

5. Children as Products

Leading capitalists like Bill Gates and Jeb Bush and Michael Bloomberg and Arne Duncan and Michelle Rhee, who together have a  few months teaching experience, have decided that the business model can pump out improved assembly line versions of our children.

Charter schools simply don't work as well as the profitseekers would have us believe. The recently updated  CREDO study at Stanford concluded again that "CMOs (Charter Management Organizations) on average are not dramatically better than non-CMO schools in terms of their contributions to student learning." Approximately the same percentages of charters and non-charters are showing improvement (or lack of improvement) in reading and math. In addition, poorly performing charters tend not to improve over time.

Nevertheless, charters remain appealing to poorly informed parents. The schools like to represent themselves as equal opportunity educational options, but the facts state the opposite, as many of them have  strict application standards that ensure access to the most qualified students. Funding for such schools drains money out of the public system.

Children are viewed as products in another way -- on the  school-to-prison pipeline. Many school districts employ "school resource officers" to patrol their hallways, and to ticket or arrest kids who disrupt the academic routine, no matter the age of the offender or the nature of the "offense":

-- A twelve-year-old was  arrested for wearing too much perfume.
-- A five-year-old was  handcuffed for committing "battery" on a police officer.
-- A six-year-old was called a  "terrorist threat" for talking about shooting bubbles at a classmate.

Along with these bizarre instances is the frightening precedent set by a private prison, Corrections Corporation of America, which despite having no law enforcement authority was allowed to  participate in a drug sweep at a high school in Arizona.

An Antidote?

A successful society doesn't derive from a few Ayn-Rand-type individuals. It's the other way around, as philosopher  John Dewey reasoned in the 1930s. It's easy to forget that our country's greatest success was due to a collaborative effort in the years during and after World War 2, when advances in manufacturing and technology made us the strongest economy the world had ever seen. It was a shared success. The common good was not for sale.

US Attorney General Gives the Go-Ahead on Domestic Drone Strikes: May Be Necessary Under...

drone-strikes-authorized

When Congress authorized the deployment of some 30,000 drones over U.S. skies with the passage of the FAA Air Transportation Modernization and Safety Improvement Act in 2012 many civil liberties groups, privacy advocates and Americans expressed their concerns about the possibility that these surveillance tools could be used within the borders of the United States much like they are on the battlefields of the middle east where scores of innocent civilians are killed almost every day as collateral damage in direct strikes against alleged terrorists.

Those fears are very quickly being realized not as possibilities, but actualities.

In response to questions recently voiced by Senator Rand Paul about drone strikes being used against American citizens on American soil without charge or trial, Attorney General Eric Holder issued a public statement indicating that the government has the right to use armed unmanned aerial vehicles should “extraordinary circumstances” arise.

Holder writes:

On February 20, 2013, you wrote to John Brennan requesting additional information concerning the Administration’s views about whether “the President has the power to authorize lethal force, such as a drone strike, against a U.S. citizen on U.S. soil, without a trial.”

As members of this administration have previously indicated, the US government has not carried out drone strikes in the United States and has no intention of doing so. As a policy matter moreover, we reject the use of military force where well-established law enforcement authorities in this country provide the best means for incapacitating a terrorist threat. We have a long history of using the criminal justice system to incapacitate individuals located in our country who pose a threat to the United States and its interests abroad. Hundreds of individuals have been arrested and convicted of terrorism-related offenses in our federal courts. 

The question you have posed is therefore entirely hypothetical, unlikely to occur, and one we hope no president will ever have to confront.

It is possible, I suppose, to imagine an extraordinary circumstance in which it would be necessary and appropriate under the Constitution and applicable laws of the United States for the President to authorize the military to use lethal force within the territory of the United States.

For example, the president could conceivably have no choice but to authorize the military to use such force if necessary to protect the homeland in the circumstances like a catastrophic attack like the ones suffered on December 7, 1941, and September 11, 2001.

Full Text (PDF)

The official position of the United States government is that a drone, or any military asset for that matter, can be deployed by the President of the United States or his surrogates without regard to the sixth amendment of the US Constitution, which requires that citizens be afforded the right of facing their accusers, to call witnesses and to be tried by a jury of their peers.

Senator Paul responded to the Attorney General’s comments and warned of the dangers of the new policy:

“The U.S. Attorney General’s refusal to rule out the possibility of drone strikes on American citizens and on American soil is more than frightening – it is an affront the Constitutional due process rights of all Americans.”

Last month President Obama responded to questions about domestic drone strikes:

First of all… there’s never been a drone used on an American citizen, on American soil.

We respect and have a whole bunch of safeguards in terms of how we conduct counter-terrorism operations outside of the United States. The rules outside of the United States are going to be different than the rules inside of the United States.

I am not somebody who believes that the President has the authority to do whatever he wants or whatever she wants, whenever they want,  just under the guise of  counter-terrorism.

There have to be checks and balances on it.

Based on Eric Holder’s memo, the President, and therefore agencies under his control, do believe that they have the authority to use lethal force against those identified as “terrorists.”

As the Attorney General noted in his letter to Senator Paul, there are hundreds of Americans that have been tried and convicted as terrorists, and thousands more that have been identified as terrorists by government officials.

U.S. attorney Anne Tompkins recently prosecuted Bernard Von Nothaus for minting silver coins he branded as “liberty dollars.” After Vot Nothaus was convicted, Tompkins referred to his actions as a unique form of domestic terrorism.

Local law enforcement officials attending DHS sponsored training events have widely reported that the definitions for “terrorist” activity are becoming very broad, as outlined by one police officer at James Rawles’ Survival Blog:

During the past several years, I have witnessed a dramatic shift in the focus of law enforcement training.  Law enforcement courses have moved away from a local community focus to a federally dominated model of complete social control. Most training I have attended over the past two years have been sponsored by Department of Homeland Security (DHS), namely the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

No matter what topic the training session concerns, every DHS sponsored course I have attended over the past few years never fails to branch off into warnings about potential domestic terrorists in the community.

So how does a person qualify as a potential domestic terrorist?  Based on the training I have attended, here are characteristics that qualify:

  • Expressions of libertarian philosophies (statements, bumper stickers)
  • Second Amendment-oriented views (NRA or gun club membership, holding a CCW permit)
  • Survivalist literature (fictional books such as “Patriots” and “One Second After” are mentioned by name)
  • Self-sufficiency (stockpiling food, ammo, hand tools, medical supplies)
  • Fear of economic collapse (buying gold and barter items)
  • Religious views concerning the book of Revelation (apocalypse, anti-Christ)
  • Expressed fears of Big Brother or big government
  • Homeschooling
  • Declarations of Constitutional rights and civil liberties
  • Belief in a New World Order conspiracy

Earlier this year a kindergarten student was suspended from school after officials reported that she made a terrorist threat utilizing a Hello Kitty bubble gun.

The Attorney General of the United States of America just gave the President the go-ahead on domestic drone strikes.

Under the Patriot Act and the National Defense Authorization Act, no Constitutional protections need be afforded to American citizens, thus, anyone can be classified as a domestic terrorist at the President’s discretion.

If you mint a silver coin, stockpile food, refuse to turn in your high capacity magazine, voice beliefs that may be considered subversive to the government, or have a toy resembling a gun, you maybe labeled a terrorist.

As such, you can also be targeted for extermination.

68% of Brits Worried About Google Privacy

A new survey conducted by pro-privacy campaign group Big Brother Watch has found that an alarming 68% of British people are "very concerned" about Google's practices which frequently threaten our privacy. The survey interviewed 2,050 British adults via the web.

What Led Chris Dorner to Go Off the Edge: Workplace Abuse, Racism, and Unfair...

The media as usual is looking at all the wrong clues to get to the bottom of what set Chris Dorner's rampage.

February 21, 2013  |  

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This article first appeared at Not Safe for Work Corporation.

In the days after his lethal rebellion and violent death, Christopher Dorner has become many things to many different people: a one-man Alamo hero who died fighting the police state; a crazy black man who started murdering cops because that’s what crazy black men do; or a symbol of government oppression and the militarization of America’s police forces. For some conspiracy theorists, Dorner even became a Manchurian candidate in an elaborate Big Brother plot to sow chaos and fear, so that Government Marxists could fill America’s skies with armed drones, assassinating gun-owners and freedom-lovers at will.

But all this focus on Dorner’s spectacular ending has obscured the real story about what sent Chris Dorner over the edge: workplace abuse, racial discrimination, and a legitimate claim of wrongful termination. In a nation where workers have fewer legal protections than workers in many developing nations, low-level employees like Dorner have few rights, little power and almost nowhere to turn. Ever since the Reagan Revolution of the 80s, popular culture has neglected labor problems in favor of violent epic fantasies, even though more and more Americans suffered worsening labor conditions in their own lives, privately and alone. Wrongful termination and workplace discrimination are devastating problems for each and every victim, yet collectively we’re infinitely more worried about police state fascism and getting assassinated by armed drones, thanks to media and pop culture conditioning. Labor and workplace problems are considered boring, even embarrassing.

Ever since “going postal” massacres first appeared in the public sector, in US post offices in the mid-1980s, they have tended to follow a familiar script. The murderer “snaps” for no apparent reason; official culture blames it all on Hollywood or guns, never explaining why these workplace massacres only appeared in the mid-late 80s; and later, as it turns out, there were a lot of reasons for the gunman to snap. If you profile the workplace that created the murderer, rather profiling the murderer’s psychology, you will often find a pattern of shocking workplace abuse and of top-down mistreatment of employees, culminating in the “going postal” rampage. The consequent killing spree will target supervisors, fellow employees, and anyone associated with the institution that the abused employee blames for having crushed him (or her).

The LAPD is a textbook example of one of the most abusive public sector employers in America today — and this context, along with the details of Dorner’s firing and his appeals, are the real missing pieces in the puzzle.

Noted civil rights attorney Dan Stormer, who has sued the LAPD on numerous occasions over wrongful terminations, discrimination and civil rights abuses, tells me, “Dorner’s case looks like a garden variety example of these types of cases.”

Dorner’s problems began with race, and escalated to his firing over his allegations against a fellow police officer of kicking a suspect in the face. “They don’t like it when you report abuse,” Stormer says. “If you complain, they punish you.”

Just over a decade ago, 109 serving and former LAPD officers filed a class action lawsuit accusing the police department of retaliating against whistleblowers and employees who dared to report police abuse.

An article in the LA Times headlined  “More Than 60 Officers Join Lawsuit Against LAPD”, dated October 10, 2000, begins:

More than 60 current and former officers are joining a class-action lawsuit against the Los Angeles Police Department that alleges retaliation against whistle-blowers, bringing the total number of plaintiffs to more than 100, an attorney said Monday.

The original lawsuit, filed Aug. 24 in Los Angeles Superior Court on behalf of 41 former and current employees, most of them officers, claims that the LAPD has a culture that enforces a "code of silence" that leads to a pattern of discrimination, harassment and retaliation against those who report misconduct by other officers.

Mass Surveillance: CIA To Access All UK Government Data

big brother is watching
All British government data will soon be available to the CIA, the NSA and other American intelligence agencies thanks to the extension of a controversial spy law. The European Union has warned that security will be compromised as U.S. intelligence agencies now have the legal right to examine all data stored on U.S. owned Cloud services.

Obama Declares Global Cyberwar

Cyber Warfare: US Military Hackers and Internet Spies

Throughout his tenure, Obama governed lawlessly for the monied interests that own him. He’s waged no-holds-barred war on humanity.

Strategy includes homeland tyranny, fear-mongering, saber rattling, hot wars, proxy ones, drone ones, domestic political ones, geopolitical ones, financial ones, anti-populist ones, sanctions, subversion, sabotage, targeted assassinations, mass murder, cyberwar, and more.

In May 2009, Obama prioritized cybersecurity. He called cyber-threats “one of the most serious economic and national security challenges we face as a nation.”

“America’s economic prosperity in the 21st century will depend on cybersecurity.”

He ordered a top-to-bottom review. A Cyberspace Policy Review report followed. He waged cyberwar on Iran. He did so cooperatively with Israel.

In spring 2010, Iranian intelligence discovered Stuxnet malware contamination. The computer virus infected its Bushehr nuclear facility. At the time, operations were halted indefinitely.

Israel was blamed. Washington was involved. Had the facility gone online infected, Iran’s entire electrical power grid could have been shut down.

A more destructive virus called Flame malware is known. Internet security experts say it’s 20 times more harmful than Stuxnet. Iran’s military-industrial complex is targeted. So is its nuclear program. Maximum disruption is planned.

Obama supports draconian cybersecurity bills. Passage threatens constitutional freedoms.

Targeted assassinations eliminate America’s enemies. Lawless domestic spying is policy. So is warrantless wiretapping. Americans are as vulnerable as others.

Obama’s waging war on humanity. He’s doing it multiple ways. Last October, he signed an executive order. It expanded military authority. It authorized cyberattacks. It redefined defense. Doing so lawlessly legitimizes aggression.

In November, Presidential Policy Directive 20 followed. It’s secret. It set guidelines for confronting cyberspace threats.

Last fall, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta warned of a “cyber Pearl Harbor.” It could “cause physical destruction and loss of life,” he said. It could “paralyze and shock the nation and create a new profound sense of vulnerability