Thursday, October 31, 2013

National Security

US President Barack Obama has called on the National Security Agency to halt spying on the headquarters of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank in conjunction with a review of surveillance activities, Reuters reported.


The NSA’s surveillance of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank in Washington was previously unknown based on the classified nature of such programs.

Two well-known terrorist organizations, apparently.
Top officials with US intelligence agencies have admitted economic espionage in the past, but a former senior US intelligence official said the Obama administration has put more effort than previous administrations into gathering economic data.

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

Snowden May Be Called on to Testify

Whistleblower Edward Snowden has met with a German MP in Moscow. He passed a letter addressed to the German government and federal public prosecutor where he allegedly said he is ready to testify over Washington's probable wiretapping of Merkel’s phone.

During the meeting, Snowden made it “clear that he knows a lot,” Greens lawmaker Hans-Christian Stroebele told ARD channel.

“He expressed his principle readiness to help clarify the situation. Basis for this is what we must create. That’s what we discussed for a long time and from all angles,” the MP said. "He is essentially prepared to come to Germany and give testimony, but the conditions must be discussed."

Yeah, I don’t know if it’s safe to travel to Germany, Ed.
Snowden was told that he could potentially give evidence from Moscow. More details about the meeting are expected on Friday.
That would probably be wiser.

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

William Binney Resignation Day

When I see little spooks going door to door this evening, I will think of it as National William Binney Resignation Day - a hallowed eve indeed.  On October 31, 2001, Binney resigned his position at the NSA and blew the whistle, for which he was soundly hauled through the mud, smearing his name and ruining his business.

  Business Insider

Binney disclosed in a sworn affidavit for Jewel v. NSA that the [NSA] was "purposefully violating the Constitution".


After he left the NSA in 2001, Binney was one of several people investigated as part of an inquiry into the 2005 New York Times exposé on the agency’s warrantless eavesdropping program. Binney was cleared of wrongdoing after three interviews with FBI agents beginning in March 2007, but one morning in July 2007, a dozen agents armed with rifles appeared at his house, one of whom entered the bathroom and pointed his gun at Binney, still towelling off from a shower. In that raid, the FBI confiscated a desktop computer, disks, and personal and business records. The NSA revoked his security clearance, forcing him to close a business he ran with former colleagues at a loss of a reported $300,000 in annual income.

Thanks to NSA whistleblower/leaker Edward Snowden, documents detailing the top-secret surveillance program [Stellar Wind] have now been published [...].

And they corroborate what Binney has said [...] .

  Business Insider

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Drip, Drip, Drip

The National Security Agency has secretly broken into the main communications links that connect Yahoo and Google data centers around the world, according to documents obtained from former NSA contractor Edward Snowden and interviews with knowledgeable officials.

By tapping those links, the agency has positioned itself to collect at will from hundreds of millions of user accounts, many of them belonging to Americans.


The NSA’s principal tool to exploit the data links is a project called MUSCULAR, operated jointly with the agency’s British counterpart, the Government Communications Headquarters . From undisclosed interception points, the NSA and the GCHQ are copying entire data flows across fiber-optic cables that carry information between the data centers of the Silicon Valley giants.


Tapping the Google and Yahoo clouds allows the NSA to intercept communications in real time and to take “a retrospective look at target activity,” according to one internal NSA document.


The infiltration is especially striking because the NSA, under a separate program known as PRISM, has front-door access to Google and Yahoo user accounts through a court-approved process.


In 2011, when FISC learned that the NSA was using similar methods to collect and analyze data streams — on a much smaller scale — from cables on U.S. territory, Judge John D. Bates ruled that the program was illegal under FISA and inconsistent with the requirements of the Fourth Amendment.

Constitution? What’s that?
National Security Agency Director Keith Alexander on Wednesday denied knowledge of an agency program that reportedly tapped Google and Yahoo data centers around the world without the companies' knowledge.


Ease Your Minds

US President Barack Obama has “recently ordered” the National Security Agency to stop tapping the UN headquarters in New York amid the review of electronic surveillance programs, Reuters reported, citing official sources.

“The United States is not conducting electronic surveillance targeting the United Nations headquarters in New York,” a senior Obama administration official told Reuters, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Another official told the news agency that the decision was made within the last few weeks after the president’s aides said in briefings that the White House no longer wanted to conduct certain monitoring of UN targets.

Indeed, I have learned that you have to pay close attention to the wording. No longer conducting “electronic surveillance targeting the United Nations headquarters” leaves open surveillance options, including type, location, and “incidental” collection.

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

Oh, So THAT'S What It Is

National Security Agency Director Gen. Keith Alexander told the United States Congress that recent media reports detailing the NSA’s surveillance of foreign citizens are “completely false.”


The NSA chief said reporters cite screen shots leaked to the media that show a “Web tool used for data management purposes,” and said “both they and the person who stole the classified data do not understand what they were looking at.”


“To be perfectly clear, this is not information that we collected on European citizens,” said Alexander. “It represents information that we and our NATO allies have collected in defense of our countries and in support of military operations.”


Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Meanwhile, Never-Ending Drone Wars

In the last week, both Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have come out with reports on the U.S. drone campaigns in Pakistan and Yemen debunking White House claims that few civilians are dying in those strikes and raising serious questions about their legality. In two of the six drone strikes it investigated in Yemen, Human Rights Watch reported the killing of “civilians indiscriminately in clear violation of the laws of war; the others may have targeted people who were not legitimate military objectives or caused disproportionate civilian deaths.” In a surprising development, Amnesty brought a powerful, historically resonant term to bear, claiming that some of the cases of civilian drone deaths it investigated in Pakistan might constitute “war crimes” for which those responsible should stand trial.


And just arriving, reports from the U.N. special rapporteur on drones, Ben Emmerson, and its special rapporteur on extrajudicial killings, Christof Heyns. It’s already clear that these will not please the White House, where the usual denials and self-justifications -- however lame they may increasingly sound outside the United States -- still rule the day. (“U.S. counterterrorism operations are precise, they are lawful, and they are effective.”) After a recent visit to Pakistan, Emmerson said, “The consequence of drone strikes has been to radicalize an entirely new generation." A former high-level U.S. State Department official in Yemen claims that each U.S. drone strike in that country creates "40 to 60 new enemies of America."

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

Now You've Upset Dianne

In a pointed statement issued today, Senate Intelligence Committee chairman Dianne Feinstein said she was "totally opposed" to gathering intelligence on foreign leaders and said it was "a big problem" if President Obama didn't know the NSA was monitoring the phone calls of German Chancellor Angela Merkel. She said the United States should only be spying on foreign leaders with hostile countries, or in an emergency, and even then the president should personally approve the surveillance.

It was not clear what precipitated Feinstein's condemnation of the NSA. It marks a significant reversal for a lawmaker who not only defended agency surveillance programs -- but is about to introduce a bill expected to protect some of its most controversial activities.

Perhaps most significant is her announcement that the intelligence committee "will initiate a review into all intelligence collection programs."


A former intelligence agency liaison to Congress said Feinstein's sudden outrage over spying on foreign leaders raised questions about how well informed she was about NSA programs and whether she'd been fully briefed by her staff. "The first question I'd ask is, what have you been doing for oversight? Second, if you've been reviewing this all along what has changed your mind?"

  The Cable
Two good questions. Perhaps we are about to hear something even more untoward about Dianne's defense contractor connections through an upcoming leak.
The former official added that the "bottom line question is where was the Senate Intelligence Committee when it came to their oversight of these programs? And what were they being told by the NSA, because if they didn't know about this surveillance, that would imply they were being lied to."
Or possibly they knew very well, and there are memos about to come out proving it.

An excerpt of Der Feinstein's comments:
"Unlike NSA's collection of phone records under a court order, it is clear to me that certain surveillance activities have been in effect for more than a decade and that the Senate Intelligence Committee was not satisfactorily informed.

"With respect to NSA collection of intelligence on leaders of US allies – including France, Spain, Mexico and Germany – let me state unequivocally: I am totally opposed," she said.

Peon U.S. citizens, not so much.

And good little Democrat that she is, she provides some more cover for the Listener in Chief in a backhanded sort of way:
Feinstein also provided the first official confirmation of a German report that indicated Merkel's phone had been monitored for more than a decade. "It is my understanding that President Obama was not aware Chancellor Merkel's communications were being collected since 2002," Feinstein said. "That is a big problem."

Although, frankly, I could be persuaded to believe that nobody told Obama anything. The respect he gets in Washington is something short of awesome.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Drip, Drip, Drip

Actually, it is not dripping so much now as it is pouring out.
During a single month last year the US National Security Agency intercepted some 60 million phone calls in Spain, newly leaked documents from Edward Snowden reveal, according to a report to be published in Spanish daily The World.

The Spanish government summoned the American ambassador on Monday to address allegations that the National Security Agency collected data on millions of telephone calls in Spain.


But this may be the best yet…
Access classified data without authorization, use your account after you’ve been fired, or anonymously request a new account for an Afghan friend – these are just some of the features available in State Department’s SMART system, BuzzFeed reports.

The breaches in security, horrifying to any IT expert, are reported in the State Messaging and Archival Toolset (SMART) – a cable and messaging system which is based on MS Outlook.

Well, there’s your problem, right there.
The SMART’s monitoring system, deployed for the purpose of determining whether there has been unauthorized access or modification of files, frequently fails to perform any of that, the report said. And with an existing backdoor between the classified and non-classified enclaves, state secrets can be accessed by a user without proper clearance, even unintentionally, BuzzFeed writes.


SMART was initially created for improving information sharing after the 9/11 attacks.
It has obviously worked VERY well for that. Sharing it with people it shouldn’t.
However, it turns out the system never complied with all the requirements of the Federal Information Security Management Act and the National Institute of Standards and Technology requirements, according to a 2010 Office of Inspector General (OIG) report.

Failing to provide enough cyber protection, the system regularly received failing or below-failing grades from its internal monitoring system, according to documents obtained by BuzzFeed.
Close enough for government work.
Currently, the database has no hashing, time-stamping, or other capabilities telling that the records have not been accessed, tampered with, copied by unauthorized users, or even switched for a fake.


When a non-classified user’s email on an operating level is included in a classified group mailing list – he begins receiving all classified attachments.


After the 2010 leak of hundreds of thousands of Pentagon and State Department documents by Army Private Bradley Manning to the anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks, the department has disabled the ability to forward messages, but failed to block the ability to cut and paste messages and cables, BuzzFeed reports.
Jesus, who works in their IT department? Daffy Debra?
Users also regularly mislabel classified information as unclassified, BuzzFeed reports, because they just like unclassified system better and appreciate its user friendly interface.
What can I say?

Moving on...
According to German Bild am Sonntag newspaper, which cited US intelligence sources, National Security Agency chief Keith Alexander briefed Obama on the bugging operation against Merkel in 2010.

"Obama did not halt the operation but rather let it continue," an unnamed high-ranking NSA official told the newspaper.


The NSA's findings, SMS messages and phone calls, were directly reported to the White House in Washington, unlike as usual to NSA headquarters in Fort Meade, Maryland, the paper’s source said.


Moreover, the paper said, the US president later ordered the NSA to prepare a comprehensive dossier on Merkel.


According to the report, the NSA also spied on Merkel's predecessor, Gerhard Schroeder, after then-President George W. Bush launched a surveillance program in 2002.


The monitoring operation was reportedly still in force as recently as a few weeks before Obama's visit to Berlin in June 2013.


An NSA spokeswoman released a statement on Sunday after the Bild am Sonntag revelations came to light that: "Alexander did not discuss with President Obama in 2010 an alleged foreign intelligence operation involving German Chancellor Merkel," adding that "news reports claiming otherwise are not true."

Of course they’re not. (Sarcasm font.)

Now I think I understand those earlier reports that Alexander is stepping down. I expect they have been in a frantic huddle knowing the kinds of things that might be coming to light, and somebody has to fall on a sword for the Chief.
Both Germany and France have said they want “a no-spy deal” with the US to be signed by the end of the year.
And just what would THAT be worth?

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

Let the lying begin.  (Or continue.)

Sunday, October 27, 2013

It's Sunday

I always wondered how the fundamentalists decided that the earth is only 6,000 years old.  Now I know...

(from Time Explained by Michael N. Adrigole)

Oh, here's the summation of this treatise:


UDC = unidirectional change

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Three Points Regarding the Latest NSA Stories

There are three points worth making about these latest developments.

• First, note how leaders such as Chancellor Angela Merkel reacted with basic indifference when it was revealed months ago that the NSA was bulk-spying on all German citizens, but suddenly found her indignation only when it turned out that she personally was also targeted. That reaction gives potent insight into the true mindset of many western leaders.

• Second, all of these governments keep saying how newsworthy these revelations are, how profound are the violations they expose, how happy they are to learn of all this, how devoted they are to reform.


If the German and French governments – and the German and French people – are so pleased to learn of how their privacy is being systematically assaulted by a foreign power over which they exert no influence, shouldn't they be offering asylum to the person who exposed it all, rather than ignoring or rejecting his pleas to have his basic political rights protected [...] ? Aside from the treaty obligations these nations have to protect the basic political rights of human beings from persecution, how can they simultaneously express outrage over these exposed invasions while turning their back on the person who risked his liberty and even life to bring them to light?

• Third,


Our reporting has revealed spying on conferences designed to negotiate economic agreements, the Organization of American States, oil companies, ministries that oversee mines and energy resources, the democratically elected leaders of allied states, and entire populations in those states.


[I]s there any doubt at all that the US government repeatedly tried to mislead the world when insisting that this system of suspicionless surveillance was motivated by an attempt to protect Americans from The Terrorists™?

  Glenn Greenwald

But One of His Best Friends Is Black

A North Carolina Republican official has been fired from the state party executive board following an appearance on The Daily Show in which he boasted about the implications of the widely-criticized voting law recently enacted by the GOP-heavy state legislature, but he refuses to apologize for his remarks.

“There’s nothing I said that I would take back. So be it,” state GOP executive committee member Don Yelton said in an interview with the Asheville Citizen-Times published on Thursday.

  Raw Story

Seriously? WTF?

The Dallas Safari Club said Friday it aims to raise up to a million dollars for endangered black rhinoceroses by auctioning off a permit to kill one in Namibia.

You read that right.
Tim Van Norman, chief of the branch of permits at the FWS, said the U.S. government has not yet issued any permit to the Dallas Safari Club to return a rhino's carcass to the United States, the possibility of which would be subject to a number of conditions.

The auction's winner would have to pass background checks, he said, and hire a guide to lead a hunt accompanied by Namibian wildlife officials. The animal chosen for the hunt would also have to be approved as beneficial to the species' conservation for the government to allow the trophy inside U.S. borders.

Van Norman added that Namibia has determined certain black rhino males, older ones that have already produced offspring and are in reproductive decline, are the best targets for hunting.

"Black rhinos are very territorial so you will have an older male that is keeping younger males from reproducing," he said. "By removing these older males from the population, you get an increase in the production of calves. Younger males are able to impregnate the females that are in that area so you get more offspring than from some of these older males."
Yes, because nature has not provided sufficient instincts and practices amongst herds of black rhinos over the eons to properly regulate their populations. You effing asshat.

And the fact that the black rhino is an endangered species has nothing to do with men and the trade in rhino horns.  It's that the old male rhinos are in the way of the balance of nature.  (I know some old males that are in the way of the balance of nature, but they belong to a different species.)

Also, if Namibian officials are like officials anywhere else in the world, I have no doubt that for the right amount of money, the approval of the targeted animal as beneficial to the conservation of the species will not be a problem. 
"Shooting a black rhino in the wild is about as difficult as shooting a parked car," [said Wayne Pacelle, president of the US Humane Society.] "If these are multimillionaires and they want to help rhinos, they can give their money to help rhinos. They don't need to accompany their cash transfer with a high caliber bullet," he said.
Indeed.  But that's not what they are.  They're men with identity issues and too much money.

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

Whatever You Say

The website for the US National Security Agency suddenly went offline Friday in what some claimed was an Anonymous DDoS attack. The agency denied it was under attack, however, saying it was merely updating software.

Not that I would doubt the NSA is furiously seeking alternate software these days, but wouldn’t it have been logical to put up a notice before going offline for software update?

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Obama and Johnson, "Progressive" Black Leaders

President Barack Obama swept into office on the delusions, eagerly sold to the American people by “progressive Democrats,” that he opposed the war in Iraq, would stand up for unions and the poor, address black unemployment, rein in polluters and banksters, and deliver universal health care and a path to citizenship for millions of immigrants. Instead, the first black president increased the military budget, tried and failed to keep the troops in Iraq, doubled down on Afghanistan, and unleashed drone wars in Africa and Asia. The first black president froze wages of federal employees and scapegoated unionized federal workers and public school teachers. The first black president quadrupled down on the Bush bankster bailout, and passed new legislation shielding mortgage fraudsters, telecom snoopers, war criminals, torturers and more. The first black president promotes gentrification, ignores black unemployment. He threw away his mandate for single payer health care and immigration reform to give us a blanket full of holes cynically misnamed the “Affordable Care Act” and deport 1.1 million people, more than any three or four previous presidents combined.

And now a black man, a Morehouse man, a certifiable member of the black misleadership class who invokes Dr. Martin Luther King as the patron saint of the US Army in Afghanistan [ed: proclaimed “progressive” Jeh Johnson] is in charge of the Department of Homeland Security, with its private prisons, its border walls, its “fusion centers” distributing unfounded rumors, illegal surveillance data and more on citizens to local cops and private security contractors. The paradigm has indeed shifted. A black man will take charge of hounding and profiling Latino immigrants, locking them up in privatized prisons.


If this is where being a “progressive Democrat” leads, maybe it's time we looked in some other direction. If this is where black leadership has led us, it's time to hang our heads in shame for a minute or two, and resolve to lead ourselves in some other directions. It's time for black America to shed its black misleadership class of “progressives” and throw up some new leaders, and some new models of leadership.

  Black Agenda Report

Drip, Drip, Drip

The furore over the scale of American mass surveillance revealed by Edward Snowden shifted to an incendiary new level on Wednesday evening when Angela Merkel of Germany called Barack Obama to demand explanations over reports that the US National Security Agency was monitoring her mobile phone.

Merkel was said by informed sources in Germany to be "livid" over the reports and convinced, on the basis of a German intelligence investigation, that the reports were utterly substantiated.


Merkel's spokesman, Steffen Seibert, made plain that Merkel upbraided Obama unusually sharply and also voiced exasperation at the slowness of the Americans to respond to detailed questions on the NSA scandal since the Snowden revelations first appeared in the Guardian in June.


The White House responded that Merkel's mobile is not being tapped. "The president assured the chancellor that the United States is not monitoring and will not monitor the communications of the chancellor," said a statement from Jay Carney, the White House spokesman.

But Berlin promptly signalled that the rebuttal referred to the present and the future and did not deny that Merkel's communications had been monitored in the past.


The outrage in Berlin came days after President François Hollande of France also called the White House to confront Obama with reports that the NSA was targeting the private phone calls and text messages of millions of French people.


Hollande insisted that the issue be raised at a summit which, by coincidence, is largely devoted to the "digital" economy in Europe. Hollande also phoned Obama to protest and insist on a full explanation, but received only the stock US response that the Americans were examining their intelligence practices and seeking to balance security and privacy imperatives.

The National Security Agency monitored the phone conversations of 35 world leaders after being given the numbers by an official in another US government department, according to a classified document provided by whistleblower Edward Snowden.


The document notes that one unnamed US official handed over 200 numbers, including those of the 35 world leaders, none of whom is named. These were immediately "tasked" for monitoring by the NSA.


Asked on Wednesday evening if the NSA had in the past tracked the German chancellor's communications, Caitlin Hayden, the White House's National Security Council spokeswoman, said: "The United States is not monitoring and will not monitor the communications of Chancellor Merkel. Beyond that, I'm not in a position to comment publicly on every specific alleged intelligence activity."

I’ll take that as a “yes”.

But of Course 2

One of the world's largest ATM manufacturers and, formerly, one of the largest manufacturers of electronic voting systems, has been indicted by federal prosecutors for bribery and falsification of documents.

The charges represent only the latest in a long series of criminal and/or unethical misconduct by Diebold, Inc. and their executives over the past decade.

According to Cleveland's Plain Dealer, a U.S. Attorney says the latest charges are in response to "a worldwide pattern of criminal conduct" by the company.


Despite at least $1.75 million in bribes said to have been paid the company around the globe, nobody will go to jail


The $50 million the company has agreed to pay is a mere fraction of the firm's $3 billion in annual revenues.


The Ohio-based firm first attracted the notice, and ire, of Democrats in 2003 when its then CEO, Walden O'Dell, penned a fundraising letter on behalf of George W. Bush and the Republican Party, promising that he was "committed to helping Ohio deliver its electoral votes to the president next year."


Despite their years-long global crime spree, it seems Diebold will receive yet another slap on the wrist, and another polite request to please not to do that again.

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


But of Course

RT reported earlier this year that Davis was pursuing a workers’ compensation settlement in the aftermath due to psychiatric problems that he allegedly began suffering from after his behavior made him an Internet superstar—namely depression and anxiety.


The deal reached between UC Davis and Pike’s attorneys will award him a larger settlement than any of those targeted in the attack.

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

Wednesday, October 23, 2013


"Angels of Death"

[V]iewed from Miram Shah, the frontier Pakistani town that has become a virtual test laboratory for drone warfare, the campaign has not been the antiseptic salve portrayed in Washington. In interviews over the past year, residents paint a portrait of extended terror and strain within a tribal society caught between vicious militants and the American drones hunting them.


It has become a fearful and paranoid town, dealt at least 13 drone strikes since 2008, with an additional 25 in adjoining districts — more than any other urban settlement in the world.


Even when the missiles do not strike, buzzing drones hover day and night, scanning the alleys and markets with roving high-resolution cameras.


“The drones are like the angels of death,” said Nazeer Gul, a shopkeeper in Miram Shah. “Only they know when and where they will strike.”

Their claims of distress are now being backed by a new Amnesty International investigation that found, among other points, that at least 19 civilians in the surrounding area of North Waziristan had been killed in just two of the drone attacks since January 2012 — a time when the Obama administration has held that strikes have been increasingly accurate and free of mistakes.


[The] report, which examines the 45 known strikes in North Waziristan between January 2012 and August 2013, asserts that in several cases drones killed civilians indiscriminately.

As if that is not bad enough, internet services have been shut down in the town, children and mentally ill have reportedly been killed for being outside after curfew, masked militant vigilantes hunt American spies and tortures and executes those who are hauled in, journalists are specifically targeted, and state services have collapsed.

Are we at war with Pakistan?

Responding to separate reports released Tuesday on aspects of the United States’ covert targeted killing operations abroad, the White House asserted drone strikes against supposed terror suspects was done “in accordance with all applicable law.”

Oh. Okay, then. No problem.
Carney insisted using unmanned drones against those the US labels terror suspects is better than sending troops or using other weapons, saying the Obama administration was "choosing the course of action least likely to result in the loss of innocent life."
In what world?

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

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The Resistance Continues

CryptoSeal, a virtual private network that has guaranteed its customers would be insulated from internet surveillance, announced that it will close down rather than risk exposure to government monitoring and the costly fees that accompany compliance.


”[W]hile no logs were produced (by design) during operation of the service, all records created incidental to the operation of the service have been deleted to the best of our ability,” the statement read.

“Essentially, the service was created and operated under a certain understanding of current US law, and that understanding may not currently be valid.


The same issue forced the hand of Ladar Levison, founder and owner of Lavabit, the email service used by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. Levison opted to shut Lavabit down instead of complying with a government order compelling him to turn over the service’s SSL key, which would have granted the NSA access to all of Lavabit’s customers.

Pete Ashdown is the founder of XMission, an independent internet service provider (ISP) based in Utah. The company has built a stellar reputation among users concerned with protecting their privacy.


His profile has been on the rise as of late because of his company’s refusal to turn over customer data that is requested by an administrative subpoena instead of a warrant. Ashdown refuses to honor subpoena requests because they prove that the government agency seeking the data did not, or was unable, to provide “probable cause” mandated by the Constitution.


“To hear some of the rhetoric about Snowden being a traitor angers me,” Ashdown said. “Snowden isn’t the one who committed the crime. He reported the constitutional crimes of the people who are running the agencies monitoring Americans. “

“If the government really wants to keep secret information secret, they should follow the law and the Constitution in their actions, not only here, but abroad.”


Monday, October 21, 2013

Drip, Drip, Drip

The French government summoned the US ambassador in Paris on Monday to demand an urgent explanation over claims that the National Security Agency had engaged in widespread phone and internet surveillance of French citizens.

The French daily Le Monde published details from the NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden suggesting the US agency had been intercepting French phone traffic on what it termed "a massive scale".

Le Monde said more than 70m French phone calls had been recorded in one 30-day period late last year.


The claims were published as John Kerry, the US secretary of state, arrived in Paris for the start of a European tour to discuss the Middle East.

Nicely timed.
Caitlin Hayden, spokeswoman for the National Security Council at the White House, said: "We've begun to review the way that we gather intelligence, so that we properly balance the legitimate security concerns of our citizens and allies with the privacy concerns that all people share."
How nice of you.
President Obama spoke with French President Francois Hollande by phone on Monday just hours after a report revealed the National Security Agency has spied on France.

“The President and President Hollande discussed recent disclosures in the press — some of which have distorted our activities and some of which raise legitimate questions for our friends and allies about how these capabilities are employed,” the White House said in a statement.

  The Hill

Sunday, October 20, 2013

It's Sunday

During his homily at Mass in the chapel of Casa Santa Marta, Pope Francis warned of the danger of “becoming a disciple of ideology.”


”In ideology there is no Jesus: his tenderness, love, meekness. And ideologies are always rigid,” the Pope said.

” And when a Christian becomes a disciple of ideology, they have lost the faith: they are no more a disciple of Jesus, they are a disciple of this attitude of thought, of this…” And for this reason Jesus says to them: ‘You have taken away the key of knowledge’.”


Emphasizing the importance of prayer in Christian life, the 76 year old pontiff, saying that without it, a Christian witness becomes a witness full of pride. Ideological Christians, he said, become proud, sure of themselves and lacking humility. The Holy Father however made the distinction of true prayer and the mere recitation of prayers. [...] “It is one thing to pray and another to recite prayers,” the Pope said.

I'm telling you (again), Pope Frank could be in danger.

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

Drip, Drip, Drip

The National Security Agency (NSA) has a division for particularly difficult missions. Called "Tailored Access Operations" (TAO), this department devises special methods for special targets.

That category includes surveillance of neighboring Mexico, and in May 2010, the division reported its mission accomplished. A report classified as "top secret" 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."

According to the NSA, this email domain was also used by cabinet members, and contained "diplomatic, economic and leadership communications which continue to provide insight into Mexico's political system and internal stability." The president's office, the NSA reported, was now "a lucrative source."

  Der Spiegel
Making friends all over the globe.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Deepwater Horizon Trial

Government experts estimated that the Deepwater Horizon disaster, which killed 11 workers, caused 176 million gallons of oil to spill into the Gulf. BP attorneys have urged U.S. District Judge Barbier to set the figure at nearly 103 million gallons.

The final number will determine how much BP pays for the cleanup. Using government figures, a maximum penalty if the company is found grossly negligent could total $18 billion. The company's figures would result in a $10.5 billion fine.


In the first eight months of 2013, some 3.01 million pounds of "oily material" were cleaned up on Louisiana's coast, up from 119,894 pounds in the same period last year, according to the state's Department of Natural Resources.

While the state did not reveal why there was a more than 20-fold increase in the amount collected this year, some believe Tropical Storm Karen, which occurred earlier in October, may have washed away sand and exposed more oil.

  al Jazeera
And, would it be possible that the toxic chemicals BP used to “disperse” the oil are breaking down?  They didn't eat the oil.  It's still somewhere.
Danny Wallace, a BP incident commander, said the rise in recoveries this year stemmed from where BP was focusing its efforts after Hurricane Isaac rearranged sands in August, 2012.

"In 2013 most cleanup activities have focused on the barrier islands where Hurricane Isaac uncovered heavily-weathered residual oil that had been buried when tropical storms deposited deep layers of sand along the shoreline in 2010 and 2011," Wallace said.
OK, I can buy that...they're just now cleaning up areas where perhaps a majority of the oil settled.

But the bottom line is, don’t let BP settle and call it quits. The penalty figure should simply be that: a penalty. The actual (and opportunity) costs for businesses and clean-up should still be paid by BP, no matter how long it continues.

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

Friday, October 18, 2013

ACA: Not Really

Back in the days when President Barack Obama was still Illinois state senator Barack Obama, he too was an advocate of single payer, famously telling audiences that all we had to do was elect a Democrat House and Senate, and put a Democrat in the White House to make it happen.


The only grain of truth in the mountain of partisan lies Republicans tell about the ACA is that hundreds of large corporations have indeed been granted under-the-table exemptions from the obligation to provide health insurance to many of their workers, along with regulatory loopholes which let them to raise co-pays and deductibles to levels that will compel many of their low-paid workers to take their chances on the federal and state exchanges.

A single payer system would have freed US businesses altogether from the crushing burden of providing health insurance for their employees, and left no one without health insurance.


Lowering the Medicare qualification age to include everyone is and would have been a legally bulletproof, and Supreme Court proof way of guaranteeing health care for everybody in every state. But we threw that away.


In reality many families of modest means will choose low-cost plans with deductibles and premiums so high and coverage so limited that these costs will remain significant barriers to getting medical care even though they are technically “insured.”

  Black Agenda Report
And that’s all that matters. The insurance companies get the money. The poor insured get bupkis.
The US is one of the few places in the developed world in which a family can lose its home, and its children their college educations because of unpayable medical bills. We could have changed that. But we didn't
...but hey, do what you will anyway.

A Closer Look at Movie Pirating

[] lists the top 10 most pirated films on BitTorrent and checks whether those films are available to stream, rent, or purchase digitally. In a simple chart, it shows how few options users have for accessing these in-demand movies. Since the site began recording three weeks ago, only 20% have been available for digital rental and none have been available for streaming. This site goes to highlight the underlying problem of unauthorized file sharing: the high demand for legal access to films is not being met when we clearly already have the technology to enable this experience.

Of course, this data confirms the long-held suspicions of many who object to Hollywood's demand for ever more draconian copyright enforcement efforts. Instead of focusing on piracy and spending millions on lobbying for those policy changes, the content industry should be investing its resources into creating better and more accessible platforms for users. Unfortunately, Hollywood refuses to acknowledge that reality. We've seen the industry demonstrate that with its continuing efforts to push legislation that runs counter to the public interest, and its stubborn refusal to offer content in the formats people have been shown to prefer.

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

Apparently Worse Than Microsoft

ObamaCare's online marketplace is reportedly creating a mess for insurance companies by approving error-ridden applications, the latest in a series of problems that threaten to dampen enrollment under the healthcare law.

Among the small number of people who have successfully purchased coverage, many have filled out duplicate enrollments, misreported family members or left data fields empty, insurers told The Wall Street Journal.

These errors were attributed to flaws in the design of the online enrollment system, which does not easily allow users to fix their mistakes.

The defective sign-ups are the latest breakdown for, the online portal that uninsured people in 36 states can use to purchase insurance coverage.

  The Hill

Now, Why Is 21 the Magic Number?

Scientists at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta have arrived at a universal law of urination that explains why dogs, goats, cows and elephants — male and female — all take approximately 21 seconds to empty their bladders.

  Raw Story

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Leaving So Soon?

*smiley face*

In the Nick of Time

US President Barack Obama has signed legislation passed by Congress Wednesday to temporarily lift the debt ceiling and end the government shutdown, averting the threat of default just hours before the October 17 deadline.

They watch too many American action adventure movies.

And here’s what it cost (not counting what it did to individual citizens).
Standard & Poor's says the shutdown in total cost the US economy $24 billion, or $1.5 billion per day, the rating agency said Wednesday. The agency also estimated the shutdown will pare fourth quarter GDP by 0.6 percent.


"The bottom line is the government shutdown has hurt the US economy," the S&P statement said.

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

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

What's Next for Glenn Greenwald?

Something totally new in news.

I Have a Dream

Some people believe that the ACA is a step towards a Medicare for all health system, but it actually takes us towards greater privatisation of our health system which is the opposite direction. Over a trillion dollars of public funds will go directly to private insurance companies to subsidise the purchase of inadequate health plans.


[W]hile companies can't charge more to people with health problems as individuals, they can charge up to three times more based on age and can charge more in geographic areas where the population has more health problems or the costs of care are higher. It is expected that if a company finds they can't make enough profit in a particular area, they can just pull their plans from that area. [...]The largest insurance companies assisted with writing the law and then with the regulations that accompanied it, so we will see what other tactics they employ as time goes on.


The new health system is complex by design because that inhibits transparency and accountability. Imagine what we would be seeing right now if instead of the ACA, we had passed HR 676, also known as Expanded and Improved Medicare for All. This would have created a single publicly funded non-profit universal and comprehensive national health insurance. Overnight, everyone living in the US would be eligible for care without financial barriers. Any person who showed up to a health facility for care would be admitted because they would be automatically enrolled. Every person would have the right to receive the care they need rather than the care they can afford.


We have not changed the fundamental problem with the health care system in the US: that health care is treated as a commodity to be bought on the market rather than as a good that all people need.

  Black Agenda Report
...but hey, do what you will anyway.

Oh, Yeah, This Will Surprise You

"Senate leaders reach deal to avoid default, end shutdown"

As though you had any doubts.  As though they couldn't have done that weeks ago.

Clowns.  Attention whores. 

They should have done it yesterday, so that next time they'd still have the ability to do something more dramatic by waiting until the last day possible. 

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Hooray for Trade

The United States is loosening controls over military exports, in a shift that former U.S. officials and human rights advocates say could increase the flow of American-made military parts to the world's conflicts and make it harder to enforce arms sanctions.


But, hey. It's the basis of our economy.

Drip, Drip, Drip

The National Security Agency is harvesting hundreds of millions of contact lists from personal e-mail and instant messaging accounts around the world, many of them belonging to Americans, according to senior intelligence officials and top-secret documents provided by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

The collection program, which has not been disclosed before, intercepts e-mail address books and “buddy lists” from instant messaging services as they move across global data links.


[Collection corresponds to] a rate of more than 250 million a year.


Analysis of that data enables the agency to search for hidden connections and to map relationships within a much smaller universe of foreign intelligence targets.


The collection depends on secret arrangements with foreign telecommunications companies or allied intelligence services in control of facilities that direct traffic along the Internet’s main data routes.

Although the collection takes place overseas, two senior U.S. intelligence officials acknowledged that it sweeps in the contacts of many Americans. They declined to offer an estimate but did not dispute that the number is likely to be in the millions or tens of millions.

Would it be OK if they were only collecting “foreign” contact lists? Foreigners don’t get privacy?
Right now the NSA is spying on everyone's personal communications, and they’re operating without any meaningful oversight. Since the Snowden leaks started, more than 571,000 people from all walks of life have signed the petition telling the U.S. Congress that we want them to rein in the NSA.

On October 26th, the 12th anniversary of the signing of the US Patriot Act, we're taking the next step and holding the largest rally yet against NSA surveillance. We’ll be handing the half-million petitions to Congress to remind them that they work for us -- and we won’t tolerate mass surveillance any longer.

As though Congress gives two shits.

But, we’ll tell ‘em. Perhaps we should march right into their offices. 

Sunday, October 13, 2013

It's Sunday

The Vatican has withdrawn from sale 6,000 copies of a new papal medal after finding that the inscriptions on them were spelled not Jesus, but Lesus.

Medals and coins depicting Pope Francis and Jesus Christ were minted for sale to collectors around the world. Such items are made for every new pontiff and serve as a source of extra income for the Vatican.


Circling the rim of the medallion runs Pope Francis’ personal motto, a phrase in Latin: “Vidit ergo Jesus publicanum, et quia miserando atque eligendo vidit, ait illi, ‘Sequere me.’” [Jesus therefore sees the tax collector, and since he sees by having mercy and by choosing, he says to him, ‘follow me.’]

Take that, Pope Frank, says the Vatican’s money collectors.
[Someone tweeted]: "I blame the Lesuits."

Friday, October 11, 2013

Gaming: The System

President Obama has rejected raising America's debt ceiling for 6 weeks beyond the October 17 deadline. The compromise was put forward by congressional Republicans, who sought to win time for negotiation and avert an unprecedented US default next week.

Of course.  Now HE is the one refusing to raise the ceiling.  The game goes on while you go down the tubes.
No specific budget decision was taken in the White House on Thursday, where President Obama met with 20 House Republicans, including Speaker John Boehner, for 90 minutes of talks. However, a White House spokesman said President Obama "looks forward to continued progress with members on both sides".
Obama insisted he won’t significantly cut Medicare and Medicaid spending, if Republicans don’t agree to raise revenues from reduced tax breaks for corporations and wealthy individuals. Mr. Boehner in turn has been reaffirming his party was against tightening taxation, which suggests that future talks could founder.
So that’s the trigger for cutting Medicare/Medicaid. When the rich are willing to be taxed more, the poor can expect to be given less. What a deal.

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


At least 190 people were killed and more than 200 taken hostage by Syrian rebels financed by private Gulf donors in an August 4 military offensive in the Latakia governorate, according to a Human Rights Watch report.

At least 67 of the victims executed had lived in government-aligned Alawite villages, HRW said in its report, “You Can Still See Their Blood,” released Friday, which saw the events as the first evidence of planned crimes against humanity perpetrated by opposition forces.

Let me guess…John Kerry knew about this report prior to making that recent speech about giving kudos to Assad for cooperating on chemical weapons destruction.

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

The Future According to Monsanto

According to author Jeffrey Smith (“The Documented Health Risks of Genetically Modified Foods.”):
Monsanto’s vision was established in the ‘90s, with Arthur Andersen as a consultant - they were also Enron’s consultant. They asked the Monsanto executives, describe your ideal future in 15 to 20 years. And the executives described a world in which 100 percent of all commercial seeds were genetically engineered and patented. And Andersen worked backwards from that goal to create that strategy and tactics to achieve it.

So here was a company designing a plan to replace nature. To eliminate the products of the billions of years of evolution and replace it with designer genes and designer organisms for their greater profit and control. And they’ve since become the largest seed company in the world.


One of the former Monsanto scientists told me rats that were fed genetically modified corn, in Monsanto laboratories, that they were damaged severely. So instead of withdrawing the corn, Monsanto covered it up by rewriting the study, which was no surprise to us who have caught them red-handed over and over again.


For corn and cotton, they actually insert a gene from bacteria that actually produces a Bt toxin. The toxin breaks open holes in the stomachs of insects to kill them. They promised us up and down that it would have no effect on humans, but a 2012 study showed that it poked holes in human cells as well. And it actually gets into our bloodstream, and for pregnant women, it gets into the unborn fetuses.

For Roundup-ready crops, those are crops inserted with a gene that allows the crops to be sprayed with Roundup herbicide. The Roundup gets absorbed into the crops and is stored in the food portion which we eat. A recent paper on Roundup linked it to obesity, diabetes, cancer, heart disease, multiple sclerosis, anorexia, autism, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, aggression and depression, because it cuts off certain metabolic pathways, it kills gut bacteria, it disrupts the digestive channels, and it might even create leaky gut.


[Monsanto] spent $250mn over five years, with the other biotech industry companies about a decade ago, trying to convince Americans that they needed to accept GMOs because it would feed the world.


The average GMO reduces yield. The Union of Concerned Scientists’ report “Failure to Yield” shows that. In fact, the most comprehensive evaluation of agriculture, the ISTAT report signed on by 58 countries, said the current generation of GMOs has nothing to offer feeding the hungry world or eradicating poverty. Whereas sustainable agriculture, in a study of more than 12mn farms, showed an increase of 79 percent in yield.

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

Thursday, October 10, 2013

CPJ Reports Obama May Be Worst Ever Administration for Journalism

A new report released today by the highly respected Committee to Protect Journalists - its first-ever on press freedoms in the US - powerfully underscores just how extreme is the threat to press freedom posed by this administration. Written by former Washington Post executive editor Leonard Downie, Jr., the report offers a comprehensive survey of the multiple ways that the Obama presidency has ushered in a paralyzing climate of fear for journalists and sources alike.


It quotes New York Times national security reporter Scott Shane as saying that sources are "scared to death." It quotes New York Times reporter David Sanger as saying that "this is the most closed, control freak administration I've ever covered." And it notes that New York Times public editor Margaret Sullivan previously wrote that "it's turning out to be the administration of unprecedented secrecy and unprecedented attacks on a free press."

  Glenn Greenwald
The report.

Whistleblower Award to Edward Snowden in Russia

A group of US whistleblowers and activists has present[ed Edward] Snowden with a Sam Adams Award for ‘Integrity in Intelligence’ in Moscow on Wednesday.


The Sam Adams Associates for Integrity in Intelligence award has been presented annually since 2002 to an intelligence professional who has taken a stand for integrity and ethics. The prize is named after Samuel A. Adams, a CIA whistleblower during the Vietnam War.


The NSA whistleblower is currently staying at an undisclosed location In Russia, reportedly under heavy security.


Former CIA analyst Ray McGovern has called Snowden “an extraordinary person,” who has “made his peace” with what he did.

“He’s convinced that what he did was right. He has no regrets. And he’s willing to face whatever the future holds for him,” McGovern said.


Snowden “had to escape the US to ensure any chance of freedom,” [whistleblower Thomas] Drake said. “And it wasn’t his plan to end up here. It was the US, who made him stateless by revoking his passport. And Russia – to its credit – actually recognized the international law and granted him political asylum.”


Coleen Rowley, a former FBI agent and whistleblower, noted that Snowden was “remarkably centered,” while Jesselyn Radack, of the Government Accountability Project, described him as “brilliant, smart, funny and very engaged.”


Despite the fact that “it’s a dangerous time for whistleblowers in the US,” Snowden’s revelations have had a big effect as “courage is contagious,” Radack said.

“We have more and more whistleblowers coming to the Government Accountability Project than we have had before,” she said. “I really thing [Snowden] has had a wonderful effect [on] the US and the world.”


Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Meanwhile in Afghanistan

Hamid Karzai has ruled out signing a security deal with the United States until disagreements over sovereignty are resolved. In angry remarks, the Afghan president condemned the Nato alliance for a military occupation that had caused "a lot of suffering, a lot of loss of life and no gains because the country is not secure".


I'm Confused

Here’s an excerpt from an email I got today from my (ex) Texas representative:
During this temporary government shutdown, the President and the Senate Majority Leader have repeatedly refused to come to the table to negotiate.


This shutdown can end today. All that is needed is for the President and Senate Majority Leader to meet House Republicans and negotiate to reach a fair solution for hard-working Americans.
And here’s an excerpt from an article on the internet today:
Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) on Tuesday rejected President Obama’s offer to negotiate a long-term fiscal deal in exchange for temporary measures to end the government shutdown and lift the debt ceiling.

Speaking to reporters at the White House, Obama said that if House Republicans re-opened the government and lifted the nation’s borrowing authority — even for a few months — he would enter into wide-ranging talks that could include his signature healthcare law and issues related to the debt.

“If they want to do that, reopen the government. Extend the debt ceiling. If they can’t do it for a long time, do it for the period of time in which these negotiations are taking place,” Obama said.

But Boehner shot down that opening at his own press conference, characterizing it as a demand for “unconditional surrender” from the GOP.

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

If You Only Knew

Special Agent John Dodson, who became a whistleblower in 2011 when he approached Republican lawmakers in Congress with details of a botched attempt by the ATF to allow sales of firearms in order to build a case against Mexico’s powerful Sinaloa cartel [Fast and Furious], has already penned a book on the saga, though it was unclear on Monday whether it will ever see the light of day.


“This would have a negative impact on morale in the Phoenix [field division] and would have a detremental [sic] effect on our relationships with [the Drug Enforcement Administration] and FBI,” the ATF’s rejection letter stated.


The American Civil Liberties Union, which is representing Dodson on the matter, filed a protest on Monday with the ATF’s Deputy Director Thomas Brandon over his agency’s efforts to block the book’s publishing.

Good luck with that.

Too Big to Work?

Though the NSA’s vast data storage facility in Utah is now hardly a secret, new information has surfaced indicating widespread technical failures delaying its opening, including 10 “meltdowns” within the past 13 months.


Estimates of the facility’s capacity, which is classified, ranges from exabytes or zettabytes, reports the Wall Street Journal. An exabyte being equivalent to 100,000 times the size of printed material held by the Library of Congress, while a zettabyte is 1,000 times that amount.

A new report compiled through project documents and information provided to the WSJ by officials cite a number of electrical surges -- called “arc fault failures" -- which over the past 13 months have destroyed hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of equipment, and delayed the facility from going active for a year.


Only a week prior to Edward Snowden’s first batch of published leaks, the massive Utah center had been billed by the agency’s Deputy Director, John Inglis, as only one additional working part of the country’s national security apparatus. "They shouldn’t be worried because, A, we’re Americans," Inglis said. "We understand what the principles are that govern the nation; [and] B, we take an oath to the Constitution, and we take that very seriously."


Special teams from the Army Corps of Engineers have been assigned to investigate the electrical issues at the Utah center. The most recent arc failure according to the WSJ seems to have occurred on September 25, causing $100,000 in damage.

Taxpayer money.
According to various reports, including the latest by the WSJ, the Bluffdale site was chosen by the NSA owing to its affordable electricity. The data hub will consume some 65 megawatts of energy at a cost of $1 million per month.
Taxpayer money. Because, A.

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

One of These Days, Alice

A Fukushima worker has accidentally switched off cooling pumps – the latest in the string of mishaps and misfortunes at the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.

The employee pushed a button turning off power to some of the systems in the four reactor buildings – by mistake, according to the Nuclear Regulation Authority.

It’s just the latest of many incidents the facility has seen over the past couple of years.


Monday, October 7, 2013

Third Eye Spying

A Brazilian television report that aired Sunday night said Canadian spies targeted Brazil's Mines and Energy Ministry.

The report on Globo television was based on documents leaked by former U.S. National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden and was the latest showing that Latin America's biggest country has been a target for U.S., British and now Canadian spy agencies.

Brazil's foreign affairs minister summoned Canada's ambassador to the country to explain spying allegations, a Canadian official confirmed to CBC News Monday.

"There's a lot of other documents about Canadians spying on ordinary citizens, on allied governments, on the world, and their co-operation with the United States government, and the nature of that co-operation that I think most Canadian citizens will find quite surprising, if not shocking, because it's all done in secret and Canadians are not aware of it," [Glenn]Greenwald said.


Asked if the document on which he reported Sunday showed where Canada benefited from the alleged espionage, Greenwald said he can't talk about documents he hasn't published yet.

"But obviously Canada is not expending enormous amounts of money to create a spying system that doesn't produce any valuable secrets. And ... even in this document, they express satisfaction in the results of their efforts and so I think it's fair to infer even just from this document that they reaped benefits from this."

Greenwald said the document was in the NSA's possession because it had been presented at a signals development conference held by the Five Eyes, the name given to five allied countries that collaborate on foreign intelligence: Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Britain and the United States.


Saturday, October 5, 2013

Glen Greenwald Interview

Answers the inane questions and accusations about the NSA revelations.

How Handy

At the end of September, Ecuador’s foreign ministry announced that the US had seemingly denied visas to a delegation that was set to travel to the UN General Assembly in New York to present their case regarding an ongoing dispute against Chevron-Texaco.

According to the ministry’s official announcement, visas for the five Ecuadorian nationals were returned by the US Embassy in Quito “without any explanation.”

The group was to present testimony during a special event at the UN regarding the ecological impact caused by Chevron-Texaco’s oil operations in the Amazon rainforest region of Ecuador, which contaminated two million hectares, according to the country’s government.

Shouldn't the UN be its own territory? Grant its own visas? How nice for the United States that it is on US soil and subject to visa control by the US government.

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

Thursday, October 3, 2013

How's That Shutdown Going for You?

Depends on the size of your bank account, doesn't it?
[F]or the sake of the almighty dollar (blessed be its name) – and because the shutdown has already achieved its purposes – the GOP will call a halt to its action before any money-changers get hurt. The Republicans will have shown their willingness to fight The Obama. Obama will appear to be defending the people from The Republicans. And then they will both slash away at social spending, as was the intention, all along.


The clock has been stuck with both hands on “austerity” since Obama came fully out of the closet as a GOP fellow-traveler following the 2010 midterm elections. From that moment on, Republican-imposed gridlock has been the only barrier to Obama’s long-sought Grand Bargain to eviscerate entitlement programs. When the current theatrics are over, Obamacare will remain intact and the president will be back on his ever-rightward stride. The GOP will take Obama up on his offer, earlier this year, to cut Social Security and will probably be offered other bits and pieces of the social safety net in the interest of “shared sacrifice” and domestic peace.

In the interim, while the re-enactors haul their cannons around the cow pasture, waiting for the rich people who call themselves “markets” to signal an end to the charade, rest assured that national security is sacrosanct.

  Glen Ford – Black Agenda Report
The NSA will not be affected.

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

The Hammer Is Free

A Texas appellate court has overturned the conviction of former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Tex.) for allegedly scheming to influence Texas state elections with corporate money.


DeLay, 66, was convicted in 2010 for allegedly trying to influence Texas elections by funneling corporate money to various candidates. Prosecutors said that the money helped the GOP win control of the Texas House and that the majority then pushed through a DeLay-organized congressional redistricting plan that sent more Republicans to Congress. The Justice Department has joined lawsuits challenging the makeup of the map, claiming it unfairly draws minority communities out of certain districts.


The decision formally acquits DeLay of all charges, but it could still be appealed by the government.

And will.
[Delay] said the legal troubles were hard on his family and called the indictment "an outrageous criminalization of politics."
The way we practice politics IS criminal, isn’t it?
When asked if he planned to return to the political arena, DeLay said he "never left it" but would "probably not" run for elected office again. "There's too much other things that the Lord wants me to do.”
Thank you, Lord.
” But around the political arena, I'm around. They never got rid of me."
We must try harder.