Thursday, September 19, 2013


Farewell from Galveston Island.  Or farewell TO Galveston Island. Or both.

I MAY be offline for a short while. And I MAY be offline for a very long time. Moving back north to an area where internet access may be slow to non-existent. Adios to Tejas. It's been a slice.  And to all three of you readers:  wheeeeeeee!  What a world.

I leave you with this picture I captured a few days ago down on the beach, and this:


Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Who's Got the Button?

RT: France, the US and UK are saying the UN report clearly points to the Assad government's involvement in the August attack . But how can they be so sure, especially as the document states that improvised rockets may have been used, possibly pointing to rebel involvement?

Michael Maloof: I have a report from a source who has direct connections with classified information and he basically told me that [the] US military did an assessment based upon 50 indicators and clandestine interviews that the sourcing of sarin originated out of Iraq and into Turkey before some of it was confiscated in May in Turkey. He believes that since that report was disseminated in August in 2013, that there has actually been a more significant amount of sarin production both in Iraq and in Turkey going to the opposition, principally Al-Qaeda and Al-Nusra.

That was their specific target, to see to what extent Al-Qaeda was actually involved in production, in research and dissemination. He says what was confiscated was bench level or small specimens at the time, but that the production now they believe is much more robust and that the non-proliferation, genie, as he says, is no longer exclusive. So there's quite an increasing concern that this is still ongoing, that production is occurring among some Sunni salafists in Iraq and continues to be transported into Turkey.


Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Waiting for an Apology

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff has postponed a state visit to Washington in response to the US spying on her communications with top aides. Rousseff is demanding a full public apology from President Obama.


The Brazilian government said in a statement that "the conditions are not suitable to undertake this visit on the agreed date." It expressed hope that the conflict will be resolved “properly” and the trip will happen "as soon as possible."


Barack Obama spoke with Rousseff on Monday in an attempt to persuade her into following through with the trip, the Brazilian president's office said, according to AP.

Brazil’s TV Globo reported that the call between the two presidents lasted for about 20 minutes. Obama and Rousseff discussed revelations that the National Security Agency (NSA) spied on the Brazilian leader’s phone calls and emails. The two presidents then “jointly” agreed to cancel the meeting, Globo reported, citing the presidential office.

Jointly. Obama hasn’t just been fed crow.

Mass Murderers in the US

I guess they forgot to include a graphic showing the male/female ratio.

  Ann Telnaes

”There’s going to be mistakes.”

The Obama administration waived provisions of a federal law which ban the supply of weapons and money to terrorists.

Okay, we’re just up front with it now. We support and arm terrorists.
President Barrack Obama ordered such a waiver for supplying chemical weapons-related assistance to "select vetted members" of Syrian opposition forces, the administration announced on Monday.
If he can’t be allowed to send in American troops and/or bombs, then he’ll just arm the opposition.

And, oh yes….
The US plan to provide chemical weapons-related assistance to Syrian opposition was in the works before the August attack a senior administration official said as cited by NBC News.
That chemical weapons attack sure was helpful.

So this is who we’ll be arming:
The Syrian opposition groups are increasingly dominated by radical Islamists, many of them foreign fighters who, the UN says, are involved in numerous crimes committed in Syria.


Still, US politicians believe national intelligence community can ensure that the military assistance goes to the right hands.
Of course they do. Why would you even doubt it?
"Our intelligence agencies, I think, have a very good handle on who to support and who not to support," Senator Bob Corker said on CBS on Sunday. "And there's going to be mistakes. We understand some people are going to get arms that should not be getting arms. But we still should be doing everything we can to support the free Syrian opposition."
...hey, do what you will anyway.

Naval Yard Shooting

A young man with a troubled history, but high level clearance and access to the DC Naval Yard was the alleged killer of 12.
Mondays' shooting comes less than a month after a military panel recommended the death sentence for US military Army Major Nidal Malik Hasan, who killed 13 and injured 30 others at the Fort Hood military base in Texas on November 5, 2009.


US authorities are still trying to piece together exactly who Aaron Alexis was, and what drove him to gun down 12 people in cold blood and injure another eight.


Alexis had converted to Buddhism and attended the local Buddhist temple.

“We are all shocked. We are nonviolent. Aaron was a very good practitioner of Buddhism. He could chant better than even some of the Thai congregants,'' Ty Thairintr, a congregant at Wat Budsaya, a Buddhist temple in Fort Worth, told AP.

Thairintr, who said he last saw Alexis five weeks ago, said the latter was upset with the Navy because “he thought he never got a promotion because of the color of his skin. He hated his commander.”

“He was a very devoted Buddhist. There was no tell-tale sign of this behavior,” Thairintr said.

Really? “He hated his commander,” is not a sign?

Buddhist, Muslim...they're all the same, right Christians?

Sunday, September 15, 2013

The NSA Is Looking to Fill a New Position

Job qualifications are listed on the posting.

It's Sunday

Since his elevation to the head of the Catholic faith, I have become a fan of Pope Francis — a pontiff who has become truly revolutionary in his faith and his lifestyle. As someone raised in the Catholic Church, I have never seen his equal. He has washed the feet of a Muslim female prisoner, declined the pomp and formality of past popes, and remained a humble priest in his lifestyle. Now, Pope Francis has written a long letter to a non-Catholic saying that he believes that even atheists can go to heaven and that God cares more about your heart than your profession of religion.


[A]nd now there is a report of a possible consideration of dropping celibacy for priests.


He said “You ask me if the God of the Christians forgives those who don’t believe and who don’t seek the faith. I start by saying – and this is the fundamental thing – that God’s mercy has no limits if you go to him with a sincere and contrite heart. The issue for those who do not believe in God is to obey their conscience. . . . Sin, even for those who have no faith, exists when people disobey their conscience.”


It is a remarkably tolerant and enlightened view of faith at a time of extreme orthodoxy and religious intolerance. It is all the more remarkable given the increasingly antagonistic language directed against non-believers.

  Jonathan Turley
Am I going to have to stop slamming the Catholic Church? Or is Pope Frank going to meet an untimely end?

It's Sunday

A trio of Arizona “exorcists” has ventured to England to fight what it describes as the endorsement of satanic elements in J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter book series.

“Harry is using this magic for good,” 18-year-old Brynne Larson explains in video posted by the Daily Mail on Monday. “So here we have the dangerous idea that you can use this magic for good or bad. When in reality, all magic is bad ’cause you’re getting your power from Satan.”

  Raw Story
Hey, the US has plenty to spare, and I’m sure England won’t mind three more.
Larson and friends Tess and Savannah Scherkenback will be profiled in a BBC special on Friday discussing both their longtime friendship and their training by Larson’s father, Rev. Bob Larson, who claims to have performed 15,000 exorcisms. The BBC reported that Bob Larson asks for donations of $200 for each exorcism.
And when he thought of England – Harry Potter’s own birthplace – and the possibilities for his trio of pretty little whores, he could barely calculate the riches he could amass.

I don’t know, though. I think he might be overestimating. He probably should have sent them to Arkansas.
“The spells and things that you’re reading in the Harry Potter books, those aren’t just something that are made up,” 18-year-old Tess Scherkenback says. “Those are actual spells.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Drip, Drip, Drip

Baaaaad NSA. Baaaad.
The NSA used ‘man in the middle’ hack attacks to impersonate Google and fool web users, leaks have revealed. The technique circumvents encryption by redirecting users to a copycat site which relays all the data entered to NSA data banks.

Brazilian television network Globo News released a report based on classified data divulged by former CIA worker Edward Snowden on Sunday. The report itself blew the whistle on US government spying on Brazilian oil giant Petrobras, but hidden in amongst the data was information the NSA had impersonated Google to get its hands on user data.

...but hey, do what you will anyway.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Remembering the Case of Saddam Hussein

Perhaps it will work again.
The reader suddenly realizes that the diplomatic developments had been hastily cut and pasted into the speech, probably only hours before. Obama had intended to build the case for smashing Assad to an imperial peroration – a laying down of the law from on high. But his handlers threw in the towel, for reasons both foreign and domestic. Temporarily defeated, Obama will be back on the Syria warpath as soon as the proper false flag operations can be arranged.

  Black Agenda Report
[W]hile the Russian plan for Syria to relinquish its chemical weapons appeared to ease the crisis over possible U.S.-led strikes against the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, a new potential for an impasse came quickly: Moscow rejected U.S. and French demands for a binding U.N. resolution with "very severe consequences" for Syrian non-compliance. In Damascus, a senior government official said the Russian proposal is still a "broad headline" that needs to be developed. He said Syria was ready to sign the chemical weapons convention, but not if such a move is forced by foreign powers.


Meanwhile, a French official close to President Francois Hollande said Russia objected not only to making the resolution militarily enforceable, but also to blaming the alleged Aug. 21 chemical attack on the Syrian government and demanding that those responsible be taken before an international criminal court.

Let’s make it impossible, shall we?
Syrian rebel leadership rejected Russia's initiative Thursday, according to a video statement obtained by Reuters.

...but hey, do what you will anyway.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Drip, Drip, Drip

The National Security Agency routinely shares raw intelligence data with Israel without first sifting it to remove information about US citizens, a top-secret document provided to the Guardian by whistleblower Edward Snowden reveals.


The agreement places no legally binding limits on the use of the data by the Israelis.


Although the memorandum is explicit in saying the material had to be handled in accordance with US law, and that the Israelis agreed not to deliberately target Americans identified in the data, these rules are not backed up by legal obligations.

"This agreement is not intended to create any legally enforceable rights and shall not be construed to be either an international agreement or a legally binding instrument according to international law," the document says.


The document mentions only one check carried out by the NSA on the raw intelligence, saying the agency will "regularly review a sample of files transferred to ISNU to validate the absence of US persons' identities". It also requests that the Israelis limit access only to personnel with a "strict need to know".


Notably, a much stricter rule was set for US government communications found in the raw intelligence. The Israelis were required to "destroy upon recognition" any communication "that is either to or from an official of the US government".

  Glenn Greenwald
And I’m sure they do.

And the jury will disregard that statement, which will be stricken from the record.

Two Takes on the Speech

“When dictators commit atrocities, they depend upon the world to look the other way until those horrifying pictures fade from memory.” In democracies, we just wait until a new president says we need to look forward, not backward.

He did the slippery slope thing: if we don’t bomb Syria, Syria will keep using chemical weapons, then other tyrants will, then they’ll use them on our troops, then terrorist groups will get them, then George Zimmerman. Then they’ll be used against Israel, because everything is about Israel. Then everyone will acquire other prohibited WMDs and Iran will build nukes, and we’re back to Israel. Smoking gun in the shape of a mushroom cloud.

Barack Obama pretends to believe [...] that it was his idea to wait for a congressional debate before blasting Syria to smithereens. “So even though I possess the authority to order military strikes, I believed it was right in the absence of a direct or imminent threat to our security to take this debate to Congress.” He didn’t take the debate to Congress; the congressional detour was forced on the White House on August 31 when it became clear that Obama lacked both domestic and foreign support for a speedy strike. That was Obama’s first big defeat. The second was a knockout, after Russia and Syria seized on Secretary of State John Kerry’s “joke” about Assad giving up his chemical weapons, at which point Obama’s handlers advised him that his political position was, for the time being, untenable. He arrived in front of the cameras shaken, angry, and humiliated – with a patched together script and a mouth full of crow.


The president’s roiling emotions, visible through his eyes, got in the way of his oratorical skills. But then, he didn’t have much material to work with, just an endless string of prevarications and half-truths strung almost randomly together. Obama, who was reluctantly asking permission from Congress to violate the most fundamental tenets of international law – permission that Congress is not empowered to give – framed Syria as a rogue nation because it has not signed a treaty on chemical weapons like “98 percent of humanity.” This makes Syria ripe for bombing. The president does not explain that Syria’s neighbors, Israel and Egypt – both U.S. allies – have also not signed the treaty.


The president who claimed that he could bomb the sovereign nation of Libya for seven months, overthrow its government and kill its president, without triggering the War Powers Act – and, further, that no state of war exists unless Americans are killed – told his [...] audience that he opposes excessive presidential power.

  Glen Ford: Black Agenda Report
And whether they fell off their chairs seized with laughter, I do not know.


Oath Keepers has placed three back-lit signs on the subway platform in the Washington Metro Pentagon Station, group founder Stewart Rhodes announced today.

"The first sign at the Pentagon Station is done in the style of the theater scene from George Orwell's 1984 and features Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, as 'Big Brother,'" Rhodes wrote, stating the "sign makes it clear that by exposing the NSA spying on Americans, Snowden honored his oath."

"This artwork will also be going on a billboard along a major freeway in Maryland, near the NSA headquarters at Ft. Mead within the week," Rhodes added.


"The third sign is intended to reach our military personnel within the Pentagon, and any other government employees who have ever served in the military, using the Iwo Jima flag-raising as a backdrop to the message."
Inciting military personnel to go against command?  Archbishop Oscar Romero was assassinated for appealing to police and military in San Salvador to stop following orders to kill campaneros and obey instead God’s command “Thou shalt not kill.” But this isn’t El Salvador, and this isn’t 1980, and nobody's being killed, so no worries.

Drip, Drip, Drip

Last month we learned that in 2011 a FISA judge slammed the NSA for "the third instance in less than three years" in which an NSA surveillance program had been misrepresented to the court. […It turns] out that for three years, from 2006 to 2009, NSA had been routinely breaking its own rules; had been routinely providing false affirmations to the court; and apparently had no one on their staff who even understood how their own systems worked.

  Mother Jones
"The documents released today are a testament to the government's strong commitment to detecting, correcting and reporting mistakes that occur in implementing technologically complex intelligence collection activities, and to continually improving its oversight and compliance processes," said Director of National Intelligence James Clapper.

A testament.
[H]undreds of previously classified documents federal officials released Tuesday came in response to a lawsuit filed by the Electronic Frontier Foundation.


The NSA told the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court it misunderstood restrictions on accessing data once it was archived, but Judge Reggie B. Walton wrote in a March 2009 order that such an interpretation of the court's orders "strains credulity."
That’s why it’s a secret.

”Misunderstood” restrictions.
After discovering government officials had been accessing domestic phone records for nearly three years without "reasonable, articulate suspicion" that they were connected to terrorism, the judge said in a blistering opinion that he had "lost confidence" in officials' ability to legally operate the program.

Walton noted, for instance, that just 1,935 phone numbers out of 17,835 on a list investigators were working with in early 2009 met the legal standard.


Later in 2009, a Justice Department lawyer reported to the spy court a "likely violation" of NSA surveillance rules. The lawyer said that in some cases, it appeared the NSA was distributing the sensitive phone records by email to as many as 189 analysts, but only 53 were approved by the spy court to see them.
Excerpts from the judge’s determination:


Tuesday, September 10, 2013

A Shame, But Not a Surprise

Valerie Caproni, the FBI's top lawyer from 2003 to 2011, is scheduled to receive a vote on Monday in the Senate for a seat on the southern district court of New York.

Caproni has come under bipartisan criticism over the years for enabling widespread surveillance later found to be inappropriate or illegal.


"It is a shame that the White House has chosen to nominate former FBI general counsel Valerie Caproni to a lifelong position as a federal judge given her narrow views of Americans' privacy rights as demonstrated by her actions in the George W Bush administration," said Lisa Graves, a Justice Department official in the Clinton and early Bush administrations.

  UK Guardian
...but hey, do what you will anyway.

Barry Goes to Russia

Syria confirmed it would accept a Russian-brokered deal to hand over its chemical weapons Tuesday.

Okay, that’s sloppily written. They won’t be handing over chemical weapons today, surely. It will take some time. I assume the writers (three of them) mean that on Tuesday, Syria confirmed the deal.

Now, we can continue.
That added to the international momentum behind the proposal, which has already been endorsed by Iran and China and cautiously welcomed by Britain and Germany.

Obama said Monday that the Russia plan offered a potential path that averted U.S. military strikes.
Did Obama ever offer any such proposal? Any option to avoid a strike? Especially considering that it was “common sense” that told him Assad was responsible for the chemical weapons attack and not concrete evidence. No? No option? Just, hang on a minute while I drum up support to bomb your asses, and maybe I’ll do it even if I don’t have support. Hey, he already got his Nobel Peace Prize. What would he want with another? They’re pretty much meaningless after his receipt of one anyway.
"We see this as potentially a positive development and we see this as a clear result of the pressure that has been put on Syria,'' [WH Spokesman Jay] Carney told MSNBC.
Right.  Assad is not really responding to an offer from Syria's strongest ally to save face for everyboy (and literal faces for many), but crumbling under the great might and wrath of the United States of America.
Senior Senators - including John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Chuck Schumer (D-NY) - announced they were working on a new plan that would authorize the president to use force only if Syria did not comply with a U.N. resolution to remove chemical weapons by a pre-determined deadline.
Oh, yes. We are still very much in control.  (Wait a minute.  Didn't we go down this same path with Saddam?)
In a further development, a spokesman for Vladimir Putin said the Russian president had discussed the weapons handover plan with Obama at last week’s G-20 summit.
Barry, I will fix this for you. You will owe me, da?
"We held a very fruitful round of talks with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov yesterday, and he proposed an initiative relating to chemical weapons. And in the evening we agreed to the Russian initiative," Walid al-Moualem was quoted as telling the speaker of Russia's lower house parliament house in Moscow.

He said Syria had agreed because this would "remove the grounds for American aggression," the Interfax report said.


While Obama called Syria's response "a potentially positive development," he said on NBC News that it would need to be taken "with a grain of salt." "We are going to run this to ground," Obama said. "[Secretary of State] John Kerry will be talking to his Russian counterpart. We're going to make sure that we see how serious these proposals are."

There’s your only ground.

Oh yes, we are very much in control. Make no mistake about it.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Is It Getting Hot in Here?

General Keith Alexander apparently got pretty busy right after the world discovered that the National Security Agency, which he heads, has back doors built into much of the Internet's encryption.

He has cancelled his spot as a keynote speaker at a cybersecurity conference, three days before he was supposed to go on. The Dutch telecommunication company KPN announced Saturday that Alexander, who was scheduled to speak at their Cybersecurity Congress, wasn't going to make it, citing pressure on his agenda.

  Daily Dot
Is that a medical issue?

Game On

Both a spokesperson for Chancellor Angela Merkel and the Interior Ministry admitted on Monday that a [German] Federal Police helicopter had conducted a low-altitude flyover of the United States Consulate in Frankfurt in order to take high-resolution photographs. The apparent aim of the mission was to identify suspected listening posts on the roof of the consulate.


The magazine quoted an unnamed government official stating that Germany wanted to send a message to the Americans that it would not tolerate eavesdropping technologies on German soil.

  Der Spiegel

Here's Your "Free Market"

Readers may recall an ugly story that broke earlier this summer, when New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman rebuked the news/business information firm Thomson Reuters for selling access to key economic survey data two seconds early to high-frequency algorithmic traders. The story strongly suggested that some Thomson Reuters customers were using their two-second head start (an eternity in the modern world of computerized trading) to front-run the markets.


Rolling Stone has since learned that a whistleblower complaint has been filed to the SEC identifying 16 of the world's biggest banks and hedge funds as the allegedly even-earlier recipients of this key economic data. The complaint alleges that this select group of customers received the data anywhere from 10 minutes to an hour ahead of the rest of the markets.


If true, it's yet another story suggesting that the markets are a sharply uneven playing field, with the general public playing the role of suckers trading on sloppy-seconds information, while powerful insiders pay for enhanced access.

  Matt Taibbi
And you think maybe there's a chance this ISN'T true?

Oh, Bother

[Obama] met with the presidents of Brazil and Mexico, both of whom are pissed off that the NSA has been spying on them (personally, as well as their countries). “I said that I would look into the allegations.” You’d have thought he’d have “looked into” them before actually meeting the two presidents.

It’s called disdain.

Pew Poll - Pee-ew

No wonder he's going on a multi-speech marathon today.

And he's going to have to be awfully damned charming in those speeches to pull this back out of the crapper:

Looks like he started spending his political capital right away, and ran out within a couple of years. Bad investment advice?


Drip, Drip, Drip

August 30, 2013 -- “The Department of Defense does engage” in computer network exploitation, according to an e-mailed statement from an NSA spokesman, whose agency is part of the Defense Department. “The department does ***not*** engage in economic espionage in any domain, including cyber.”

The internal computer network of Petrobras, the Brazilian oil giant partly owned by the state, has been under surveillance by the NSA, the National Security Agency of the United States.

The spying is confirmed by top secret documents leaked by Edward Snowden, and obtained exclusively by Fantastico.


These new disclosures contradict statements by the NSA denying espionage for economic purposes.


[A] top secret presentation dated May 2012 is used by the NSA to train new agents step-by-step how to access and spy upon private computer networks – the internal networks of companies, governments, financial institutions – networks designed precisely to protect information.

The name of Petrobras – Brazil’s largest company – appears right at the beginning, under the title: “MANY TARGETS USE PRIVATE NETWORKS.”


There is no information on the extent of the spying, nor if it managed to access the data contained in the company’s computers. It’s clear Petrobras was a target, but no documents show exactly what information the NSA searched for. But at any rate, Petrobras has strategic knowledge of deals involving billions of dollars.


Besides Petrobras, e-mail and internet services provider Google’s infrastructure is also listed as a target. The company, often named as collaborating with the NSA, is shown here as a victim.

Other targets include French diplomats – with access to the private network of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of France – and the SWIFT network, the cooperative that unites over ten thousand banks in 212 countries and provides communications that enable international financial transactions. All transfers of money between banks across national borders goes through SWIFT.

Names of other companies and institutions on the list were blacked out in order not to compromise operations involving targets linked to terrorism.


“It’s a question of responsible journalism”, says [Glenn] Greenwald. “These documents contain information regarding spying against terrorists, matters of national security which should not be published, because nobody doubts that the United States, just as any other country, has the right to spy in order to guarantee national security. But there is much more information on spying on innocents, against people who have nothing to do with terrorism, or on industrial issues, which need to be made public.”


The NSA presentation contains documents prepared by the GCHQ – the British Spy agency, from a country that appears as an ally of the United States in spying. The British agency shows how two spy programs operate. “Flying Pig” and “Hush Puppy” also monitor private networks which carry supposedly secure information. These networks are known as TLS/SSL.

Which is how your bank and other commercial agents have set up your online activity as “secure”. And if NSA analysts were collecting email information on ex-lovers (which some were), then could they not also be collecting their (or your) “secure” banking/commerce/medical information?

Here’s DNI James Clapper’s response:
We collect this information for many important reasons: for one, it could provide the United States and our allies early warning of international financial crises which could negatively impact the global economy. It also could provide insight into other countries’ economic policy or behavior which could affect global markets.


What we do not do, as we have said many times, is use our foreign intelligence capabilities to steal the trade secrets of foreign companies on behalf of - or give intelligence we collect to - US companies to enhance their international competitiveness or increase their bottom line.


As we have said previously, the United States collects foreign intelligence - just as many other governments do - to enhance the security of our citizens and protect our interests and those of our allies around the world. The intelligence Community’s efforts to understand economic systems and policies and monitor anomalous economic activities is critical to providing policy makers with the information they need to make informed decisions that are in the best interest of our national security.

  Office of the Director of National Intelligence
And our national security depends upon corporate bottom lines and international competitiveness.

Drip, Drip, Drip

According to internal NSA documents from the Edward Snowden archive that SPIEGEL has been granted access to, the US intelligence service doesn't just bug embassies and access data from undersea cables to gain information. The NSA is also extremely interested in that new form of communication which has experienced such breathtaking success in recent years: smartphones.


For an agency like the NSA, the data storage units are a goldmine, combining in a single device almost all the information that would interest an intelligence agency: social contacts, details about the user's behavior and location, interests (through search terms, for example), photos and sometimes credit card numbers and passwords.


The material contains no indications of large-scale spying on smartphone users, and yet the documents leave no doubt that if the intelligence service defines a smartphone as a target, it will find a way to gain access to its information.


The results the intelligence agency documents on the basis of several examples are impressive. They include an image of the son of a former defense secretary with his arm around a young woman, a photo he took with his iPhone.


All the images were apparently taken with smartphones. A photo taken in January 2012 is especially risqué: It shows a former senior government official of a foreign country who, according to the NSA, is relaxing on his couch in front of a TV set and taking pictures of himself -- with his iPhone. To protect the person's privacy, SPIEGEL has chosen not to reveal his name or any other details.


Under the heading "iPhone capability," the NSA specialists list the kinds of data they can analyze in these cases. The document notes that there are small NSA programs, known as "scripts," that can perform surveillance on 38 different features of the iPhone 3 and 4 operating systems. They include the mapping feature, voicemail and photos, as well as the Google Earth, Facebook and Yahoo Messenger applications.


According to several documents, the NSA spent years trying to crack BlackBerry communications, which enjoy a high degree of protection, and maintains a special "BlackBerry Working Group" specifically for this purpose.


In March 2010, the problem was finally, according to the internal account. "Champagne!" the analysts remarked, patting themselves on the back.


If it now becomes apparent that the NSA is capable of spying on both Apple and BlackBerry devices in a targeted manner, it could have far-reaching consequences.

Those consequences extend to the German government. Not long ago, the government in Berlin awarded a major contract for secure mobile communications within federal agencies. The winner was BlackBerry.

  Der Spiegel
Und ve now haff effidence zat Assad did not gas his own people. You really vant to play ziss game?

...but hey, do what you will anyway.

The New Red Line

The US secretary of state [John Kerry] has said that President Bashar al-Assad has one week to hand over his entire stock of chemical weapons to avoid a military attack.

  UK Guardian


Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto proposed sweeping changes to the country's social programs Sunday, laying out a plan for Mexico's first nationwide pensions, unemployment insurance and capital-gains taxes.


Pena Nieto's proposal would cut most of the industry-specific tax loopholes written into Mexico's tax codes over decades. He proposed the country's first carbon tax on fossil fuels used by industry.


The Syrian Question

The White House asserted Sunday that a “common-sense test” dictates the Syrian government is responsible for a chemical weapons attack that President Barack Obama says demands a U.S. military response. But Obama’s top aide says the administration lacks “irrefutable, beyond-a-reasonable-doubt evidence” that skeptical Americans, including lawmakers who will start voting on military action this week, are seeking.

“This is not a court of law. And intelligence does not work that way,” White House chief of staff Denis McDonough said during his five-network public relations blitz Sunday to build support for limited strikes against Syrian President Bashar Assad.


Asked about Assad’s claims there is no evidence he used the weapons, Secretary of State John Kerry told reporters in London: “The evidence speaks for itself.”

Really? So now we have to rely on the common sense of people in the White House as our determination for waging war? Swell.

My own common sense tells me that, having knowledge of the many CIA operations in many countries around the globe for decades, and the US foreign policy protecting (or under the control of) Israel, and the US economic policy which dictates that we must have control over the flow of oil in the Middle East, and the fact that Syria has been a strategic aim of the neocons since before 9/11 “changed everything”, and the fact that Assad’s regime has been utilizing guns and explosives for – how long now? - I should suspect a CIA/Israeli hand in the sudden use of a method (chemical) strictly prohibited by international norms and which was claimed to be Obama’s “red line” for intervention. (Uber-liberal Mother Jones calls that a crazy "conspiracy theory" with no basis in reality.)

But then, I’m not in the White House, so my “common-sense test” won’t be put to use.
The US says it has intercepted conversations involving Syrian officials during which they take responsibility for the attack. However, Washington has not made those conversations public.

How interesting.  I wonder why.
The Obama administration has also referred to its satellite and signals intelligence, as well as military communications, as proof that the regime was preparing to use poisonous gas just days before the alleged attack took place.
But apparently we can’t see that evidence either. National security.
It is hard to explain why Assad would use chemical weapons on his own people at a time when his troops were doing so well on the ground - especially since UN observers were nearby at the time of the attack – former British military officer Charles Heyman told AP.
But that timing would be important for someone wanting the world to believe the regime was using chemical weapons since the US/UK coalition would like to ahve UN Security Council approval for a Syrian attack, no?
Death toll numbers released by the US were also questioned. The Obama administration said that 1,429 people have died in 12 locations mostly east of Damascus. And although that number closely corresponds with figures from the Western-backed Syrian National Coalition, only 395 names of victims were released by the organization upon request.

The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that it counted victims by name and the current total is at 502.
Why did the Obama administration think 1,429 people would be more justifiable for an attack than 502? Is there a minimum number of chemical weapons deaths to be met?  Or do they, themselves, think 502 dead Syrians is no big deal?
At the same time, Bild am Sonntag newspaper reported that German intelligence has evidence that Bashar Assad may not be personally behind the chemical attack. He even blocked requests from his military commanders to use chemical weapons, the German media outlet reported, citing unidentified, high-level national security sources.
German, as in Germany whose president and enterprises have been shown to be spied upon by the NSA? As a diversion from the NSA spying stories, this little chemical weapons dust-up may prove to be a very bad move.

...but hey, do what you will anyway.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

More or Less, We Just Had To

Christ on a cracker.
Residents in Waco, TX are angry over a company’s decision to advertise with a realistic depiction of an abducted and hog-tied woman in a truck bed. According to KTEM News, sign-making and marketing firm Hornet Signs designed the truck decal for an employee’s vehicle to advertise its car wrap services.

“I wasn’t expecting the reactions that we got,” said Hornet Signs owner Brad Kolb. “Nor was it anything we condone or anything else, but it was just something more or less that we just had to put out there and see who notices it.”

  Raw Story
He wasn't expecting the reaction.  After all, he thought he lived in Texas.

And maybe the employee who posed for the decal should at least have to spend some time with women who have actually been abducted.

...but hey, do what you will anyway.


An Arkansas SWAT team took out (and by that, I mean killed)  a 107-year-old man who wouldn't come out of a bedroom and shot at them through a door

...but hey, do what you will anyway.

We're Shocked

And displeased.
The Sunday Mail says UK firms [exported] sodium fluoride [which is used in the manufacture of sarin gas] to a Syrian cosmetics firm throughout the six years [between July 2004 and May 2010] for what they claim were legitimate purposes. The daily quotes British MPs admitting for the first time that the chemical was delivered to Syria which has been condemned as a ‘grossly irresponsible’ move and a clear violation of international protocol on the trade of dangerous substances.

British MPs signaled their extreme displeasure with the shocking revelations.

"These are very disturbing revelations uncovered by The Mail on Sunday regarding the provision of sodium fluoride to Syria. At no time should we have allowed President Assad’s regime to get its hands on this substance,” Thomas Docherty MP, a member of the Commons Arms Export Controls Committee, said on Saturday.

“Previously we thought that while export licenses had been granted, no chemicals were actually delivered. Now we know that in the build-up to the Syrian civil war, UK companies – with the backing of our Government – were supplying this potentially lethal substance,” he added.


” We thought that while export licenses had been granted, no chemicals were actually delivered.”

I wonder. Why do you issue a license to export if not to actually export?

...but hey, do what you will anyway.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

"Bandar Bush", the CIA, and Syria

”Now we are all following Congress and Senate discussions on whether to sanction the use of force in Syria. This contradicts common sense. With the understanding of the international law, no congress in any country can approve such things. What are they approving? They are approving an act of aggression, because anything that doesn’t fit the U.N. Security Council framework is aggression except self-defense. Syria, as we know it, is not attacking the U.S., so we cannot talk about self-defense. Everything else without the U.N. approval is an act of aggression.” -- Vladimir Putin

  Democracy Now!
The Wall Street Journal recently revealed new details about how Prince Bandar bin Sultan al-Saud — Saudi’s former ambassador to the United States — is leading the effort to prop up the Syrian rebels. Intelligence agents from Saudi Arabia, the United States, Jordan and other allied states are working at a secret joint operations center in Jordan to train and arm hand-picked Syrian rebels. The Journal also reports Prince Bandar has been jetting from covert command centers near the Syrian front lines to the Élysée Palace in Paris and the Kremlin in Moscow, seeking to undermine the Assad regime. "Really what he’s doing is he’s reprising a role that he played in the 1980s when he worked with the Reagan administration to arrange money and arms for mujahideen fighters in Afghanistan and also worked with the CIA in Nicaragua to support the Contras," says Wall Street Journal reporter Adam Entous. "So in many ways this is a very familiar position for Prince Bandar, and it’s amazing to see the extent to which veterans of the CIA were excited to see him come back because, in the words of a diplomat who knows Bandar, he brings the Arabic term wasta, which means under-the-table clout. You know his checks are not going to bounce and that he’ll be able to deliver the money from the Saudis."


”[Prince Bandar] really didn’t have a strong connection to these rebels until a couple years ago, when the king of Saudi Arabia decided to put him in the job of intel chief last summer. And since then, he’s been very aggressive in arranging arms shipments and funding for these rebels.


”Then-CIA Director David Petraeus was involved, as well, in helping assure the Jordanians that the U.S. would have Jordan’s back.


”[W]hat is happening now is you have actually more CIA officers now there at that base than there are Saudi personnel.


”The Saudis and the Jordanians draw on defectors, largely, from the Syrian military, which already have a good degree of military training. And they’re brought to this base, where different intel agencies train them. And the Americans are there. The Brits are there. The French are there. The Saudis, UAE is there. And they train them, and then they send them into the fight.


”[T]he United States is not at war with Syria, so this is obviously being done covertly with the CIA. The Saudis were instrumental in getting the CIA to agree to pay these salaries. And the idea is, if these—if these FSA commanders receive American money, the U.S. is building loyalty and building relationships that would last into the future.”

  Democracy Now!
Yes, just as has been the case in numerous Middle Eastern countries, and apparently the US still has not learned that loyalty and lasting relationships are not a part of the Middle Eastern rebel culture.

The Democracy Now! article points out that they have been training in Jordan for months, but because there is division in the CIA as to whether this will be a big enough benefit to the US, only about 50 CIA-trained rebels have actually entered Syria to fight. Of course, the rest stand ready for orders, and I am guessing that those 50 would be able to train others once on Syrian territory.

The article also says that, for some time, there have been small incidents of sarin gas use that the White House believed to be only in possession of Assad’s regime, and that these incidents are what led Obama to authorize the CIA to arm the trainees in Jordan.  Perhaps Mr. Obama still believes that only Assad has sarin.  How naïve would he have to be?  I'm pretty sure that no American president has ever known the full extent of CIA operations at any particular time, but they all surely know its history and its capabilities.  But isn't "plausible deniability" a wonderful thing?

In a companion piece to this Democracy Now! program, the same Wall Street Journal reporter said this:
Russians feel that they were hoodwinked by the Americans, where they agreed to go on and support a [UN Security Council] resolution that authorized the use of force in Libya in 2011, after, they say, they got assurances from the United States that regime change would not be the objective.

  Democracy Now!
The Russians probably feel they were hoodwinked because they WERE.

WSJ article (requires subscription)

Greenwald Interview on NSA Covert Anti-Encryption Program

Friday, September 6, 2013

Political Risk

Not to mention, the wind is now blowing in that direction.

...but hey, do what you will anyway.


Nice dinner conversation.  And a global snub.
Just prior the start of the[G20] summit [in St. Petersburg], Putin announced that Syria would be discussed at dinner after all, contrary to the official agenda, which had foreseen an exchange of ideas on sustainable economic development. The change seemed to reflect the Russian president's certainty that he would not be backed into a corner during such a discussion; the majority of those present shared his skepticism of a military strike in Syria.


For days, the US president has been insisting that the blatant violation of the United Nations Chemical Weapons Convention cannot go unpunished. Washington believes that a one-time strike is both appropriate and necessary -- and vital for the credibility of the international community.

Putin, however, once again proved immune to such arguments. He continues to profess his doubts that his ally Assad was behind the poison gas attacks. Moscow insists that it isn't "logical," saying that there is no military reason for the Syrian regime to use chemical weapons. And Putin has been quick to disregard the evidence presented by the US, Britain, France and Germany, saying it wasn't substantive and that the Syrian rebels could just as easily be behind the attack.

  Der Spiegel
And, don’t forget the CIA.
In this particular power struggle, most observers on the eve of the G-20 appeared to be on the side of the Kremlin. Pope Francis sent a letter demanding that a political solution be found to the Syrian conflict. Then China emphasized its opposition to a military strike, with Deputy Foreign Minister Zhu Guangyao saying that it would drive up the price of oil and endanger the global economy.
Higher oil prices? That alone would put the kibosh on it.
Putin's plan to isolate Obama seems to have worked.

During Thursday night's dinner, it became clear that, while all of those present condemn the use of poison gas, none of them seemed inclined to do anything about it. At the same time, though, few appeared interested in preventing the US from going it alone.
Indeed. Why not let us ruin ourselves?
In New York, US Ambassador to the United Nations Samatha Power made withering comments about Russia's role on the world stage on Thursday. Indicating that the US was prepared to move ahead without a Security Council resolution, she said that "Russia continues to hold the council hostage and shirk its international responsibilities."
Dang, those grapes are sour.


A New (After Dinner) Tune

White House deputy national security adviser Tony Blinken said Friday that if Congress rejects President Obama's request to authorize a military strike against Syria, it is "neither his desire nor his intention" to carry out the attack alone.


That admission is a significant one, as the White House's repeated caveats declaring that the president could act without congressional approval led many to believe Obama might carry out a strike against the Assad regime even if he was rebuffed by Congress.

  The Hill
Which is exactly what "many" were meant to believe.  A little international dinner set a different mood.

Hey, Those People Are Used to It

And they need the work.
The new cheaper iPhone that Apple will unveil to a global audience on Tuesday is being produced under illegal and abusive conditions in Chinese factories owned by one of America's largest manufacturing businesses, investigators have claimed.

Workers are asked to stand for 12-hour shifts with just two 30-minute breaks, six days a week, the non-profit organisation China Labor Watch has claimed. Staff are allegedly working without adequate protective equipment, at risk from chemicals, noise and lasers, for an average of 69 hours a week. Apple has a self-imposed limit of 60 working hours a week.

The problems were uncovered at a plant in Wuxi, near Shanghai, where Apple's first low-cost handset, dubbed the iPhone 5C, is being produced.

  UK Guardian
...but hey, do what you will anyway.

So You Want Records?

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) just released 1,400 pages of emails and other internal records concerning the agency’s role in advising the Department of Justice and Office of Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) on changes made to the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC) guidelines used to collect and retain data about potential terrorist threats.


The documents are so heavily redacted it’s impossible to determine what the talking points said and what advice DHS had offered DOJ and ODNI in drafting the new guidelines.


Last March, Attorney General Eric Holder and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper issued a joint statement announcing that they were updating NCTC’s [National Counterterrorism Center] November 2008 guidelines “that governed NCTC’s access, retention, use, and dissemination of “terrorism information” contained within federal datasets that are identified as also including non-terrorism information and information pertaining exclusively to domestic terrorism.”

The most controversial aspect of NCTC’s updated guidelines was that the agency now had the ability to retain data on U.S. persons for five years—even if the individual is not suspected of being involved in terrorist activities—instead of 180 days under the November 2008 guidelines.

In a July 6, 2011 email written by DHS Associate General Counsel Matthew Kronisch that he sent to DHS General Counsel Ivan Fong and DHS Under Secretary for Intelligence & Analysis Caryn says, “I have inserted two new bullets at the top of the paper to clarify why the new guidelines are needed.”

But the “paper” included in the batch of records released by DHS is completely redacted.

  Freedom of the Press Foundation
...but hey, do what you will anyway.

And Good Luck to You

Public advocacy groups and farmers have joined forces to challenge biotech giant Monsanto’s claims on genetically engineered seed patents, and to halt the company’s aggressive lawsuits against anyone whose fields are contaminated by their GMOs.

Seventy-three US farmers, seed companies, and public advocacy groups appealed their case against Monsanto Co. to the Supreme Court on Thursday.


Thursday, September 5, 2013

Drip, Drip, Drip

The [NSA] has circumvented or cracked much of the encryption, or digital scrambling, that guards global commerce and banking systems, protects sensitive data like trade secrets and medical records, and automatically secures the e-mails, Web searches, Internet chats and phone calls of Americans and others around the world, the documents show.


Beginning in 2000, as encryption tools were gradually blanketing the Web, the N.S.A. invested billions of dollars in a clandestine campaign to preserve its ability to eavesdrop. Having lost a public battle in the 1990s to insert its own “back door” in all encryption, it set out to accomplish the same goal by stealth.


In some cases, companies say they were coerced by the government into handing over their master encryption keys or building in a back door. And the agency used its influence as the world’s most experienced code maker to covertly introduce weaknesses into the encryption standards followed by hardware and software developers around the world.


When the British analysts, who often work side by side with N.S.A. officers, were first told about the program, another memo said, “those not already briefed were gobsmacked!”

An intelligence budget document makes clear that the effort is still going strong.


“The risk is that when you build a back door into systems, you’re not the only one to exploit it,” said Matthew D. Green, a cryptography researcher at Johns Hopkins University. “Those back doors could work against U.S. communications, too.”

Paul Kocher, a leading cryptographer who helped design the SSL protocol, recalled how the N.S.A. lost the heated national debate in the 1990s about inserting into all encryption a government back door called the Clipper Chip.

“And they went and did it anyway, without telling anyone,” Mr. Kocher said.


N.S.A. documents show that the agency maintains an internal database of encryption keys for specific commercial products, called a Key Provisioning Service, which can automatically decode many messages. If the necessary key is not in the collection, a request goes to the separate Key Recovery Service, which tries to obtain it.

How keys are acquired is shrouded in secrecy, but independent cryptographers say many are probably collected by hacking into companies’ computer servers, where they are stored. To keep such methods secret, the N.S.A. shares decrypted messages with other agencies only if the keys could have been acquired through legal means.

Even agency programs ostensibly intended to guard American communications are sometimes used to weaken protections. The N.S.A.’s Commercial Solutions Center, for instance, invites the makers of encryption technologies to present their products to the agency with the goal of improving American cybersecurity. But a top-secret N.S.A. document suggests that the agency’s hacking division uses that same program to develop and “leverage sensitive, cooperative relationships with specific industry partners” to insert vulnerabilities into Internet security products.


“Properly implemented strong crypto systems are one of the few things that you can rely on,” [Edward Snowden] said, though cautioning that the N.S.A. often bypasses the encryption altogether by targeting the computers at one end or the other and grabbing text before it is encrypted or after it is decrypted. 


The documents are among more than 50,000 shared by The Guardian with The New York Times and ProPublica, the nonprofit news organization.


Intelligence officials asked The Times and ProPublica not to publish this article, saying it might prompt foreign targets to switch to new forms of encryption or communications that would be harder to collect or read. The news organizations removed some specific facts but decided to publish the article because of the value of a public debate about government actions that weaken the most powerful privacy tools.

Also: Report on these documents from Glenn Greenwald at the Guardian.

Dubious Legal Underpinnings

In a major victory in one of EFF's Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuits, the Justice Department conceded yesterday that it will release hundreds of documents, including FISA court opinions, related to the government’s secret interpretation of Section 215 of the Patriot Act, the law the NSA has relied upon for years to mass collect the phone records of millions of innocent Americans.

While the government finally released a white paper detailing its expansive (and unconstitutional) interpretation of Section 215 last month, more important FISA court opinions adopting at least part of that interpretation have remained secret. The results of EFF’s FOIA lawsuit will finally lift the veil on the dubious legal underpinnings of NSA’s domestic phone surveillance program.


Now They're in Trouble

We saw this coming, and we welcome it.

The National Rifle Association joined the American Civil Liberties Union's lawsuit on Wednesday to end the government's massive phone record collection program.

In a brief filed in federal court, the NRA argues that the National Security Agency's database of phone records amounts to a "national gun registry."

  The Hill
I am just ever so skeptical that anything will actually curtail the data mining. Those guys will never give up that kind of power.  No matter what laws might be put in place.  We have laws now against what they've been doing.  And they've been doing it anyway. 

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Greenwald at Work

How Serious Is Bombing Syria?

Well, here's Senator John McCain during the recent hearing on the issue:

And here's his response to having been caught:

Yeah. Three hours is too long to debate bombing a country. Hey, who doesn't play iPhone poker at work?

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Edward Snowden Statement

Excerpted from Snowden's acceptance speech of the German whistleblower award:
It does not require sophistication to understand that policy equating necessary acts of warning with threats to national security inevitably lead to ignorance and insecurity. The society that falls into the deterrent trap known in cultural wisdom as "shooting the messenger" will quickly find that not only is it without messengers but it no longer enjoys messages at all.


Monday, September 2, 2013

The End of the Dream

When King was murdered, civil uprisings occurred in scores of US cities, and the establishment myth makers made a second 180 degree turn. While the smoke rose from burning cities you heard the first references to Dr. King not as a champion of economic justice, not as a moral voice against militarism and empire, not the fighter for a guaranteed minimum income for all, but as “The Dreamer.” Media figures began instructing us on “Dr. King's Dream” – something nobody ever heard of before – as the reference point for our past struggle, our present predicament and our future agenda. Thus, as Gary Younge points out in his recent book, a new Dr. King was constructed

This new Dr. King didn't call into question poverty. But he did have a dream. This new Dr. King stopped wondering, as the living King once did, why people pay water bills in a world that's two-thirds water. But still, he had a dream. This new Dr. King never again mentioned the right of black workers to form unions and negotiate for their dignity and livelihoods. But this new guy, he had a dream.

The Dreamer as we know him today bears little resemblance to the man who was murdered in 1968. The Dreamer was constructed out of whole cloth by the same powerful media institutions which built King up in 1965 and 66, which denounced and slandered him 67 and 68, and made him a useful saint after his death. King never lived to be forty, so the Dreamer has already lived longer than the man, and for the powerful, has been far more useful.


[I]n the spring of 1967, Dr. King unequivocally denounced the war in Vietnam as unjust and immoral. He called the US government the greatest purveyor of violence on earth, and predicted that if nothing changed for the better we'd be marching to stop future murderous and unjust imperial wars in other places without end.

  Bruce Dixon: Black Agenda Report
Which may explain more than anything why Dr. King was murdered.
[The official MLK march on Washington commemoration] events sent a message to the world that the historical Black struggle for social justice and peace was nothing more than a ploy to achieve proximity to Power.


The problem, of course, is not [Rev. Al] Sharpton’s personal vulgarity and corruption, but the worldview that he shares with the whole cabal of Black misleaders. To put it simply, they never agreed with Dr. Martin Luther King on the need for a “revolution” that is “international in scope” and would force the United States to “repent of her modern economic imperialism,” as historian Paul Street notes in this issue. They do not share Dr. King’s socially transformational “dream.” Indeed, they have no core vision at all, other than that Black American individuals be widely represented within structures of power in the United States: Black titans of Wall Street, Black generals and – the ultimate prize – a Black president.


The collapse of the Black economy, the evisceration of the Constitution, mass Black incarceration, multiple and constant U.S. wars against weaker peoples – none of this can be allowed to tarnish or undermine the embodiment of Black progress, Barack Obama. Which is why it is perfectly logical to Sharpton and Ben Jealous and their ilk that Obama star in the March on Washington commemoration, as both the symbol and the personification of “The Dream.” It is the dream of those who want nothing more than to become full-fledged partners in U.S. imperialism.

It is inconceivable that Dr. King would share the stage with a president who was at that moment preparing a savage and illegal attack on a sovereign country. Dr. King’s voice has been censored and his dream vandalized, repackaged and presented as a gift to a corporate agent with a Kill List.

  Glen Ford: Black Agenda Report

Drip, Drip, Drip

The National Security Agency spied on the communications of the presidents of Brazil and Mexico, a Brazilian news program reported, a revelation that could strain US relations with the two biggest countries in Latin America.

The report late Sunday by Globo's news program Fantastico [...] showed what it said was an NSA document dated June 2012 displaying passages of written messages sent by Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto, who was still a candidate at that time. In the messages, Pena Nieto discussed who he was considering naming as his ministers once elected.


[Brazilian] Justice Minister Jose Eduardo Cardozo told O Globo newspaper that the contents of the documents, if confirmed, "should be considered very serious and constitute a clear violation of Brazilian sovereignty." "This (spying) hits not only Brazil, but the sovereignty of several countries that could have been violated in a way totally contrary to what international law establishes," Cardozo said. Cardozo traveled last week to Washington and met with US Vice President Joseph Biden and other officials, seeking more details on a previous, seemingly less serious set of disclosures by Snowden regarding US spying in Brazil.

  UK Guardian

Davis, California: Still Making a Name for Itself

Police at the University of California, Davis are investigating a string of recent vandalism incidents as a possible hate crime. Late last Sunday night or early the following morning, an unknown person smashed car windshields, shattered campus windows, and wrote a racial epithet on a chalkboard.


A similar rash of hate-related vandalism occurred in 2010, when swastikas were found on campus grounds and buildings housing lesbian and gay organizations were vandalized. The perpetrators were never identified.

  Raw Story
I’m not surprised, but I wonder how hard they tried. Davis is also where the campus cops sprayed sit-in Occupy protestors directly in the face with pepper spray.

I did my graduate work at UC Davis in the mid-90s. The town is a white man’s stronghold. And not poor whites. They don’t even allow discount stores like Wal-Mart to set up shop, because it would invite Mexicans to live and work there (although I'm sure that's not the official reason). Every other community surrounding Davis, and probably all of California, has a large Mexican-American population. Not Davis. The only dark-skinned people in town that I saw were temporary students at the university, and there weren’t many of them.

...but hey, do what you will anyway.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Yes He Can

It's a potent sign of how low the American political bar is set that gratitude is expressed because a US president says he will ask Congress to vote before he starts bombing another country that is not attacking or threatening the US.


More to the point, his aides are making clear that Obama does not view the vote as binding, as Time reports:
”To make matters more complicated, Obama's aides made clear that the President's search for affirmation from Congress would not be binding. He might still attack Syria even if Congress issues a rejection."
According to the Guardian's Spencer Ackerman, Secretary of State John Kerry, this morning on CNN, said this when asked whether the Congressional vote would be binding: "[Obama] has the right to do this no matter what Congress does."

  Glenn Greenwald
...hey, do what you will anyway.

Labor Day - Down with Unions!

Let Us Remember Where We Started

Neocon was a household word until Barry O absorbed the Bush foreign policy.
A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm (commonly known as the "Clean Break" report) is a policy document that was prepared in 1996 by a study group led by Richard Perle for Benjamin Netanyahu, the then Prime Minister of Israel. The report explained a new approach to solving Israel's security problems in the Middle East with an emphasis on "Western values".


Former United States Assistant Secretary of Defense Richard Perle was the "Study Group Leader", but the final report included ideas from Douglas Feith, James Colbert, Charles Fairbanks, Jr., Robert Loewenberg, David Wurmser, and Meyrav Wurmser.


The introduction specifically proposes three new policies:

1. Rather than pursuing a "comprehensive peace" with the entire Arab world, Israel should work jointly with Jordan and Turkey to "contain, destabilize, and roll-back" those entities that are threats to all three.

2. Changing the nature of relations with the Palestinians, specifically reserving the right of "hot pursuit" anywhere within Palestinian territory as well as attempting to promote alternatives to Arafat's leadership.

3. Changing relations with the United States stressing self-reliance and strategic cooperation.


"Syria challenges Israel on Lebanese soil. An effective approach, and one with which American can sympathize, would be if Israel seized the strategic initiative along its northern borders by engaging Hizballah, Syria, and Iran, as the principal agents of aggression in Lebanon, including by: ---striking Syria’s drug-money and counterfeiting infrastructure in Lebanon, all of which focuses on Razi Qanan. ---paralleling Syria’s behavior by establishing the precedent that Syrian territory is not immune to attacks emanating from Lebanon by Israeli proxy forces.... “


"Israel can shape its strategic environment, in cooperation with Turkey and Jordan, by weakening, containing, and even rolling back Syria. This effort can focus on removing Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq — an important Israeli strategic objective in its own right — as a means of foiling Syria’s regional ambitions."


"Israel has a chance to forge a new relationship between itself and the Palestinians. First and foremost, Israel’s efforts to secure its streets may require hot pursuit into Palestinian-controlled areas, a justifiable practice with which Americans can sympathize."

As things have gone, it seems we're still on track.  There was, however, a small issue that didn’t get implemented.
"To emphasize the point that Israel regards the actions of the PLO problematic, but not the Arab people, Israel might want to consider making a special effort to reward friends and advance human rights among Arabs.
Then again, it might not.

...but hey, do what you will anyway.