Thursday, July 31, 2014

Bad CIA, Good Americans

When the CIA first began using its controversial interrogation and detention methods after the September 11th attacks, it reportedly declined to tell the Secretary of State and other American ambassadors about its actions.

The revelation comes from the Senate’s still-unreleased report scrutinizing the United States’ post-9/11 interrogation techniques, and first came to the public’s attention Wednesday when the White House unintentionally emailed a document detailing the findings to an Associated Press reporter.

”Unintentionally.” Really? Not a government approved leak?
The report – parts of which could be declassified by the White House in the coming days – also apparently found that some of the ambassadors who were briefed on the CIA’s activity were told not to notify their superiors in the State Department.


The State Department also wants to maintain that the Senate report "leaves no doubt that the methods used to extract information from some terrorist suspects caused profound pain, suffering and humiliation. It also leaves no doubt that the harm caused by the use of these techniques outweighed any potential benefit."


In addition to its conclusions on the CIA’s methods themselves, the report is believed to state that no significant counter-terror information was gained through the techniques, and that the CIA claimed greater, more beneficial results than the evidence supports.


"This report tells a story of which no American is proud," the document says in a section labeled, "Topline Messages (as proposed by State)." "But it is also part of another story of which we can be proud. America's democratic system worked just as it was designed to work in bringing an end to actions inconsistent with our democratic values."
The “democratic system”? Really? Not Chelsea Manning, independent reporters (mostly foreign) and other leakers of photos?

Anonymous Takes on the Israeli Government

Hacker group Anonymous has reportedly taken down the website of the Israeli secret service Mossad in protest of Israel’s military incursion in Gaza. The ‘hacktivists’ have already targeted a number of organizations in their mission to stop the “genocide.”

Mossad’s website went offline at around 00:40 GMT and is still down at the time of writing.


In a previous attack on Monday, Anonymous knocked out multiple Israeli government sites after one of the organization’s members died in the West Bank over the weekend. 22-year-old Tayeb Abu Shehada was killed during a protest in the village of Huwwara in the West Bank after Israeli settlers and soldiers opened fire on demonstrators, reported Bethlehem-based Ma'an News Agency.

Anonymous launched a hacking campaign against Israel coinciding with the beginning of Operation Protective Edge on July 7.


“We are calling upon the Anonymous collective, and the elite hacker groups to join our crusade, and to wage cyber war against the state of Israel once more,” said a public statement from the group posted online last Friday. "As a collective 'Anonymous' does not hate Israel, it hates that Israel's government is committing genocide & slaughtering unarmed people in Gaza to obtain more land at the border."



United Nations Relief and Works Agency website:

Follow Up

In the last week the U.S. has provided Israel with mortars and ammunition for grenade launchers requested as part of a foreign military arms sale. The weapons came from a $1 billion stockpile of ammunition stored by the U.S. military in Israel for that country’s use if needed for an emergency.

However, a U.S. defense official stressed the delivery of weapons from the existing stockpile in Israel was more a matter of convenience to rotate U.S. ammunition stocks than an emergency request from Israel.

Just coincidentally timed, right?
The Israeli request to purchase the ammunition was made just days after Israel launched its ground offensive into Gaza. The fighting in Gaza since has resulted in the deaths of 1,340 Palestinians and 59 Israelis, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry. More than 7,200 have been injured.


On July 20 Israel made a foreign military sales request for munitions that included an undisclosed amount of 120 mm mortar rounds and 40 mm ammunition for grenade launchers. The defense official said the ammunition was sold to Israel as a “routine” foreign military sales request and not an emergency request to tap into the U.S. military stockpile in Israel.


While ostensibly for use by U.S. or Israeli forces the stockpile is essentially available for Israel’s use if it makes a request for an emergency foreign military sale.


Issuing munitions from the WRSA-I stockpile was “strictly a sourcing decision and White House approval was not required.”

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

American Feed

I thought this was interesting today.  The Guardian, a UK publication, shows three different online editions: one for the UK, one for the US, and one for Australia.  The home page leading story shown large for the UK and Australia is the same, but the US edition (top picture below) has a different setup.

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

Mind Boggled

Source: Guardian

The US Responds to Israeli Strike on UN School

Guardian Headlines:


"The US government says an investigation is needed to determine who shelled the school and other UN facilities. But it condemns the shelling."   (Guardian)

Bombing Without Cease

11:25 a.m. ET: AP Breaking: "Palestinian official: 15 dead, more than 150 wounded in strike on busy Gaza market." NBC's @AymanM: "Ashraf Al Qedra, Palestinian Health Ministry Spokesman says 15 people killed till now and 160 injured in shelling of #Shejaiya market." Includes kids. @SharifKouddous: Horrific footage on TV of bodies strewn in street, many badly wounded, including a journalist wearing helmet and flak jacket in Shejaiya." [Friends and colleagues ID dead journo as Rami Rayan (above), a young photographer.]

  Greg Mitchell
A reported Israeli air strike Wednesday afternoon on a busy market in Shuja’iya east of Gaza City killed at least 17 and wounded 200, Palestinian health officials said.

The market was crowded because people understood there was a ceasefire at the time, health officials said. The Israeli military had warned that a “humanitarian window” did not apply “where IDF soldiers are operating.”

Where are they not operating?

Because Israel Has a Right to "Defend Itself"


The New York Times, America's Paper of Record

NYT in its daily summary graphic has always listed number of Hamas rockets fired--but does not include number, or tons, of Israeli munitions fired. Just targets hit. Or, as far as we've seen, any accounting in a story of gross amount fired or dropped.

  Greg Mitchell
And regarding yesterday’s bombing of the only power plant in Gaza:
In fresh revision, typical NYT headline just now: "Israel Broadens Targets in Gaza Barrage; Power Is Out." You see, it's out--maybe a lightning strike? Someone threw the wrong switch?

  Greg Mitchell

The "Terror" Tunnels

As we know, Israel's initial call for revenge against Palestinians in the current crisis was prompted by the kidnapping and killing of three teens in June, but soon there were doubts raised (even by some Israelis) that Hamas directed that. Then they highlighted Hamas firing rockets over and into Israel, but they've stressed that less often since flights started getting cancelled and tourism suffered. They criticized what the U.S. media calls the "terror tunnels" built by Hamas over the years, but this has become the primary, oft-cited cause for the ground and air attacks in the past two weeks. U.S. media have dutifully taken tours of exposed tunnels and filed scare reports.

No doubt Israel is right to be concerned about these tunnels. Several of its soldiers were killed just this week by militants emerging from one of them. No one would object to them destroying them along their border. Egypt has somehow destroyed as many as 1000 of them at its border used for smuggling goods (but without killing many Gazans). The reason I raise this is: The tunnels are being used as a pretext for mass slaughter--and accepted or promoted as much by U.S. media.


Yet the IDF and the media never seem to get around to listing what (you'd think) must be a large number of "terror" incidents and Israelis killed or kidnapped in recent years.


[A]n article this week in the Times of Israel quotes a senior Israeli intelligence officer asserting that the tunnels did not really threaten civilians--Hamas aims for another spectacular soldier kidnapping or killing. (The Shalit snatching led to freedom for 1000 Palestinians in the prisoner exchange.) This intel source points out that in the major tunnel incursion last week the militants could have easily invaded a nearby kibbutz but set off to kill soldiers instead. They did it again this week. But using tunnels for military attacks in war has long been an accepted battlefield tactic. It's not "terrorism."


Not a single Israeli civilian ever killed because of one of the tunnels.

  Greg Mitchell


Leave their homes and go where? To the UN "safe" schools that are being bombed?

Side note:  Perhaps the UN should stop giving the Israeli army the precise coordinates of the safe schools.

And Nobody to Stop Them

El Salvador recalled its Israeli ambassador from Tel Aviv on Wednesday to protest the military operation in Gaza, making it the fifth Latin American country to do so.

Brazil, Chile, Ecuador and Peru have already recalled their ambassadors.

It’s a beginning.
Yigal Palmor, the spokesman for Israel's Foreign Ministry, said recalling ambassadors encourages Hamas.
What encourages Hamas is this:
Palestinian health officials said at least 20 people were killed by what witnesses and United Nations officials said was the latest in a series of strikes on United Nations facilities that are supposed to be safe zones in the 23-day-old battle against Hamas and other militants.


At around 5 a.m. Wednesday at a United Nations school at the Jabaliya refugee camp, where 3,300 Palestinians had taken refuge from the fierce fighting in their Gaza neighborhoods, what appeared to be four Israeli artillery shells hit the compound.

One hit the street in front of the entrance, according to several witnesses. Two others hit classrooms where people were sleeping.


“My house was burned and death followed us here,” said Ahmed Mousa, 50, who was in the school courtyard when the shells hit. “Where am I supposed to go?”

And, of course, the IDF says that they did not target the school, but that militants were firing on them from there.
The military had earlier denied responsibility for 16 deaths last week at a different United Nations school serving as a shelter, in Beit Hanoun, saying that the only piece of Israeli ordnance to hit the school compound, an errant mortar, struck when the courtyard was empty.
VIDEO: Chaotic and heartbreaking scenes as victims are rushed to hospital:
 Democracy Now! report from Jibaliya UN school attack.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

There Ought to Be a Law

Keith Alexander, the former director of the National Security Administration, is filing for tech security patents related to his work running the NSA.

He's hawking a hacker/intrusion-detection service to banks and big corporations for a reported fee of one million dollars a month.

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

Israeli Military Attack Video

A video posted Tuesday by Al Arabiya shows the destruction of the Gaza neighborhood of Beit Hanoun in one hour.


Perspective in Gaza/Exterminating Palestinians

Over a million people in Gaza could be without electricity after Israeli tank shells hit the fuel depot of the enclave’s only power station, causing it to shut down. Its director, Mohammed al-Sharif, said, "The power plant is finished.”


Even before the shutdown, Gaza residents only had electricity for about three hours a day because fighting had damaged power lines. The plant was also hit last week, which meant it was running at a reduced capacity of about 20 percent.


Israel continues its assault against Hamas overnight and into Tuesday, destroying the offices of the movement’s al-Aqsa satellite TV and radio station.

  Paul Mason

Monday, July 28, 2014

Yes, It Can Get Worse

(Caveat lector: I have looked for confirmation for none of the below.)  UPDATED below.

UPDATE: 8:15pm


Well, if the Brits can't do it, I'm sure we can.

NBC Shills for Israel

NBC host David Gregory was forced to issue a correction at the end of his weekly Meet the Press program on Sunday after a United Nations official confronted him for using a unconfirmed Israeli video that allegedly showed Hamas shooting rockets from a UN school


“The Israeli government has released videotape within the past hour, it was posted on YouTube, NBC News hasn’t independently verified,” Gregory explained to [UN Relief & Works Agency spokesperson Chris] Gunness. “The Israelis say — and I realize that you cannot see this video, our audience can, and I’m going to describe it to you — that purports to show rockets being fired from a UN school.”


“Look, to be fair to me, to bring me on a live program and expect me to comment live on air on pictures I haven’ actually seen, I think anyone looking at this program would agree that’s really unfair,” Gunness insisted. “I mean, if I can see it, I’ll happily comment on it.”

At the conclusion of the program, Gregory said that the United Nations had “confirmed that the video does not show rockets being fired from a UN-administrated school in Gaza.”

“So this is a back and forth that we are not able to settle at this point,” Gregory said.

So we’ll leave you believing that it COULD be what Israel says it is, and that the UN is aiding and abetting the firing of rockets on Israel.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

It's Sunday

Margaret, our good Christian Governor down here in Texas, Rick Perry, said he would use his executive authority to activate up to 1,000 National Guard troops to help secure the Texas border region against “criminal aliens.” Criminal Aliens being Spanish for children, I think. My Spanish isn’t so good so you might want to look that up.


I always love it when a good Christian finds strength in the words of Jesus. It gives me hope. In this case, I think the teachings of Jesus are pretty clear…

New International Version
Jesus said, “Let the legal little children north of the border come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”

New Living Translation
But Jesus said, “Let the non criminal alien children come to me.


English Standard Version
But Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them unless they are illegal.


It reminds me of my favorite hymn:

Jesus loves the legal children,
All the legal children of the world.
Red and yellow, black but mainly white,
All are precious in His sight,
Jesus loves the legal children of the world.

  Margaret and Helen

Don't Wait Til Christmas to Buy That AK-47

Kalashnikov Concern, the company responsible for the eponymous gas-operated 7.62 caliber assault rifle known largely around the world as the AK-47, is among the latest Russian-owned entities to be blacklisted by the US government following last Wednesday’s announcement that several Russian banks, energy firms and weapons makers were being targeted by new sanctions.

Good for business here.
Gun sellers now say the Obama administration’s decision to sanction the company has caused a spike in sale in the week since
Gas operated?

Meanwhile in Ukraine

At least 13 civilians and likely dozens more have been killed by artillery barrages, as government troops continue to close in on militia positions around the city of Gorlovka in eastern Ukraine.

A 1-year old and a 5-year old are among the dead, according to information published by the Donetsk regional administration. Several local journalists on the ground have reported that as many as 30 have been killed, as fighting continues.


From the GW Bush Songbook

An Israel Defense Forces investigation into the strike on a United Nations-run school in the Gaza Strip has revealed that the courtyard was struck by an Israeli mortar, but was empty of people at the time


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

It's Sunday

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Here's Your Hope - Part 2

Here's Your Hope

Ongoing Twitter Report in Gaza

William Booth, Washington Post foreign correspondent in Gaza is posting photos on a Twitter account.  View them here.

Whistleblower Risk

The CIA obtained a confidential email [written by Daniel Meyer, the intelligence community’s top official for whistleblower cases, to the office of Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa,] about alleged whistleblower retaliation related to the Senate’s classified report on the agency’s harsh interrogation program, triggering fears that the CIA has been intercepting the communications of officials who handle whistleblower cases.

I think you could safely bet on that.
The CIA got hold of the legally protected email and other unspecified communications between whistleblower officials and lawmakers this spring, people familiar with the matter told McClatchy. It’s unclear how the agency obtained the material.


The email controversy points to holes in the intelligence community’s whistleblower protection systems and raises fresh questions about the extent to which intelligence agencies can elude congressional oversight.


[It] finds an echo in the allegations that the CIA monitored computers that Senate Intelligence Committee staffers used to compile the 6,000-page investigative report on the agency’s use of waterboarding and other harsh interrogation methods on terrorist suspects held in secret overseas prisons.
...but hey, do what you will anyway.

Meanwhile in Libya

The U.S. embassy in Libya was evacuated with a military escort on Saturday, as chaos has descended on the capital of Tripoli.


In recent weeks, fighting between the military and militia groups in Libya has killed dozens, three years after the uprising that ousted former dictator Muammar Gaddafi from power. Since that uprising, the government has largely been unable to take control and provide security throughout the country.


In 2012, U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans were killed in an attack at a CIA outpost in Libya’s second largest city, Benghazi. That attack is still a flashpoint on Capitol Hill, where the House has formed a special committee to investigate the incident.

  The Hill

It's Okay - For Now

The US House of Representatives unanimously passed legislation on Friday that would allow consumers to “unlock” their cell phones in order to switch wireless networks. It now heads to President Obama for his signature.


Titled the 'Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act,' the bill orders the Library of Congress to permit mobile phone owners to legally unlock their phones from a specific wireless carrier. Typically, a service provider such as Verizon or AT&T ties its smartphones to its own network in the hopes that customers will remain with the company when their initial contracts expire. Unlocking a phone allows an individual to switch service providers regardless.

In 2012, however, the Library of Congress made performing this activity without a service provider’s permission illegal – even in cases where contracts had expired. Those who did so were left vulnerable to legal action and, potentially, time in prison. Congress’ action on Friday reverses that ruling.


While Congress has voted to permit unlocking phones, it did not do so permanently. The Library of Congress will have to reconsider the rule in 2015 and again every three years unless further action is taken by lawmakers.


Friday, July 25, 2014

Exterminating Palestine

Defense for Children International-Palestine mourns the death of a staff member, Hashem Khader Abu Maria, 45, killed today by Israeli forces while peacefully participating in a solidarity march with Gaza.

Israeli forces shot Hashem in the chest with live ammunition as he stood still at the demonstration in solidarity with Palestinians in Gaza after Friday prayers in the West Bank town of Beit Ummar.


He is survived by his wife Samira, his son Ayham, 11, and his two daughters, Siba, 6, and Majdal, 13


Two other protesters were killed in the same march, and at least 10 sustained injuries.

   Defense for Children International

Drip, Drip, Drip

The Saudi Ministry of Interior [MOI] has been condemned for years as one of the most brutal human rights violators in the world. In 2013, the U.S. State Department reported that “Ministry of Interior officials sometimes subjected prisoners and detainees to torture and other physical abuse,” specifically mentioning a 2011 episode in which MOI agents allegedly “poured an antiseptic cleaning liquid down [the] throat” of one human rights activist. The report also notes the MOI’s use of invasive surveillance targeted at political and religious dissidents.

But as the State Department publicly catalogued those very abuses, the NSA worked to provide increased surveillance assistance to the ministry that perpetrated them.


An April 2013 top secret memo provided by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden details the agency’s plans “to provide direct analytic and technical support” to the Saudis on “internal security” matters.


In general, U.S. support for the Saudi regime is long-standing. One secret 2007 NSA memo lists Saudi Arabia as one of four countries where the U.S. “has [an] interest in regime continuity.”


The goal is “to facilitate the Saudi government’s ability to utilize SIGINT to locate and track individuals of mutual interest within Saudi Arabia.”

  The Intercept

A Reporter's View

Israel is the most heavily fortified country on earth. The brilliant Israeli-invented, American-financed shield is all but fool-proof; the border fortifications, the intelligence, beyond anything else anywhere.


[T]he average age in Gaza is 17 and [...] a quarter of a million are [...] small children.


I feel guilty in leaving [Gaza], and for the first time in my reporting life, scarred, deeply scarred by what I have seen, some of it too terrible to put on the screen.

It is accentuated by suddenly being within sumptuously appointed Israel. Accentuated by the absolute absence of anything that indicates that this bloody war rages a few miles away. A war that the UN stated yesterday has reduced 55 per cent of Gaza’s diminutive land to a no-go area.

Go tell that to the children playing in the dusty streets or the families forced out of shelters like the UN school compound, to forage for food beneath shells and missiles.


Leaving Israel and beleaguered Gaza far below me, I lay back in my BA seat headed for London. I donned my headphones and listened to Bach’s heavenly violin concerto in E major, and wept, as I rarely have as an adult.

  Jon Snow

Oh, Wait...

When the bodies of three Israeli teenagers, kidnapped in the West Bank, were found late last month, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu did not mince words. "Hamas is responsible, and Hamas will pay," he said, initiating a campaign that eventually escalated into the present conflict in the region.

But now, officials admit the kidnappings were not Hamas's handiwork after all.

  NY Magazine
So will the current round of attacks stop? Will pigs fly?


Recall John Kerry's proposal that Hamas cease fire and Israel continue destroying Hamas tunnels? We haven't heard from Hamas yet, but Israel has rejected it!
Israel's security cabinet has rejected a Gaza ceasefire proposal put forward by US Secretary of State John Kerry, officials say.


Health "Care" in the US

Compared with the U.S., the average OECD [Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development] country has 30 percent more physician visits and more than 30 percent more hospital days per capita.

  The Atlantic
So the overall cost of health care in those countries is probably about 30 percent higher than here, right?
This year the United States will spend almost 18 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP) on healthcare—six percentage points more than the Netherlands, the next highest spender. Because the U.S. GDP in 2014 will be approximately 17 trillion dollars, those six percentage points over the Netherlands amount to one trillion dollars in additional spending. The burden to the average household through lost wages, insurance premiums, taxes, out-of-pocket care, and other costs will be more than $8,000.


Compared with the average OECD country, the U.S. delivers (population adjusted) almost three times as many mammograms, two-and-a-half times the number of MRI scans, and 31 percent more C-sections. Also, the U.S. has more stand-by equipment, for example, 1.66 MRI machines per 6,000 annual scans vs. 1.06 machines. The extra machines provide easier access for Americans, but add to cost. Similarly, occupancy rates in U.S. acute care hospitals are much lower than in OECD countries, reducing the likelihood of delays in admissions, but building that extra capacity adds to cost. Aggressive treatment of very sick elderly also makes the mix expensive. In the U.S. many elderly patients are treated in intensive care units (ICUs), but in other countries they would receive only palliative care.


One reason for the more expensive mix in the U.S. is it produces more income for drug manufacturers, specialist physicians, and others who have considerable influence on policy.


A second important reason for higher healthcare spending in the U.S. is higher prices for inputs such as drugs and the services of specialist physicians. The prices of branded prescription drugs in the U.S. are, on average, about double those in other countries. The fees of specialist physicians are typically two to three times as high as in other countries. The lower prices and fees abroad are achieved by negotiation and controls by governments who typically pay for about 75 percent of all medical care. Government in the U.S. pays about 50 percent, which would still confer considerable bargaining power, but the government is kept from exerting it by legislation and a Congress sensitive to interest-group lobbying.


The third and last important reason for higher spending in the U.S. is high administrative costs of insurance.


Does the more expensive mix result in better health outcomes? There are no definitive studies to answer this question. Superficially, it appears that the systems in the other countries are more effective because their life expectancy is higher. But their advantage may be attributable to non-medical factors such as significantly lower poverty rates.
Highest health care expenditures. Highest poverty rates. We’re Number One!

And You Thought Blue Mohawks Were Weird

With the NSA revelations, expect more of this:

"Additional Tips: Avoid masks as they are illegal in some areas. Avoid relying on sunglasses or facial hair, as they are common features that are incorporated into most algorithms."


You Just Can't Make This Shit Up

A senior Israeli official said that U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has drafted a new cease-fire proposal and presented it to both sides.


The Israeli official said that Kerry’s proposal, which he presented to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at their meeting Wednesday evening, contains the following elements:

1. A one-week, temporary cease-fire, starting Sunday, during which Israel Defense Forces troops will not leave the Gaza Strip entirely and will continue to locate and destroy Hamas tunnels.

So, essentially, Hamas ceases fire, and Israel goes on with its campaign unmolested.
If [Khaled Meshal, the head of Hamas’ political wing] responds positively to the American proposal, the ministers will vote on a cease-fire in Gaza. If Kerry’s diplomatic efforts fail and Meshal rejects the proposal, the cabinet might well decide to expand the ground operation.
...but hey, do what you will anyway.

Israel's security cabinet has rejected a Gaza ceasefire proposal put forward by US Secretary of State John Kerry, officials say.


Never Mind an Alien Invasion

The date of 23 July 2012 could have been the day the lights went out, along with suddenly not-so-smart phones, computers, satellite transmissions, GPS navigation systems, televisions, radio broadcasts, hospital equipment, electric pumps and water supplies.


The sun forced out one of the biggest plasma clouds ever detected at a speed of 3,000km per second, more than four times faster than a typical solar eruption. Fortunately it missed.

Better luck next time.
If the coronal mass ejection (CME) had hit the Earth, it would have disabled "everything that plugs into a wall socket".

There would have been major disruption to all satellite communications and electrical fluctuations that could have blown out transformers in power grids. Most people wouldn't have been able to turn on a tap or flush a toilet because urban water supplies largely rely on electricity.
Don't the Christians say that God is supposed to destroy the world by fire the next time he gets pissed?

Of Course It Has

The violence of the Gaza conflict has spread to the West Bank where six Palestinians have reportedly been killed and scores wounded in the past 24 hours in the biggest clashes with Israeli forces for several years.

The Israeli military was put on high alert in the West Bank on Friday, which has been declared a "day of rage" by Palestinian factions.


More Questions on Ukraine Plane Incident

“A Ukraine Air Force military jet was detected gaining height, it’s distance from the Malaysian Boeing was 3 to 5km,” said the head of the Main Operations Directorate of the HQ of Russia’s military forces, Lieutenant-General Andrey Kartopolov speaking at a media conference in Moscow on Monday.

“[We] would like to get an explanation as to why the military jet was flying along a civil aviation corridor at almost the same time and at the same level as a passenger plane,” he stated.

“The SU-25 fighter jet can gain an altitude of 10km, according to its specification,” he added. “It’s equipped with air-to-air R-60 missiles that can hit a target at a distance up to 12km, up to 5km for sure.”

The presence of the Ukrainian military jet can be confirmed by video shots made by the Rostov monitoring center, Kartopolov stated.


Par for the Course

Afghans don’t appear to like soybean products, nor are conditions and farming techniques in the country particularly favorable for soybean production.

That didn’t stop the U.S. government from sinking approximately $34.4 million into an initiative that was meant to make soybeans both a cash crop and a diet staple in the impoverished, war-torn nation.

A new review released by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), an office created to oversee and audit the billions of dollars in U.S.-funded reconstruction projects, stopped just shy of labeling the soybean project a failure and scolded the U.S. Department of Agriculture for giving it the green light without doing its due diligence.

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

Come Out and Fight Like a Man

Anne Barnard has been writing [...] "context" stories [on the current Israeli assault on Gaza] for the last two days.


Ms. Barnard makes a great discovery: "But it is indisputable that Gaza militants operate in civilian areas". Really, Ms. Barnard? Where do you want them to operate? On the moon? Hamas fighters are just like Hizbullah fighters: they are the people of the area under occupation who volunteered to resist occupation. Where would they operate from? Should they all gather say in a stadium and invite Israel to bomb them? And where did the French resistance or Algerian resistance operate from? Another planet?

  Angry Arab
And, as Jonatan Shapiro pointed out in his Democracy Now! interview, the Israeli army headquarters is in downtown Tel Aviv.

The Rest of the Story

Israel's official did not just call Brazil diplomatically irrelevant.
“This is an unfortunate demonstration of why Brazil, an economic and cultural giant, remains a diplomatic dwarf,” said Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor. “The moral relativism behind this move makes Brazil an irrelevant diplomatic partner, one who creates problems rather than contributes to solutions.”

  Jerusalem Post
Channeling Richard Nixon.

And ….
The Ecuadoran Ambassador has been recalled from Israel, citing the ongoing Israeli assault on Gaza which began nearly two weeks ago, and has killed over 550 Palestinians.


Turkey has been the most outspoken on the diplomatic front about the Israeli offensive, leading the Israeli government to recall most of its diplomatic staff from Turkey several days ago.

   International Middle East Media Center
Does that make Israel a diplomatic pygmy?

Israel in the Gaza Strip

Amnesty International has not yet been able to get delegates into the Gaza Strip during the current hostilities, although the organization has requested permission from the Israeli authorities for entry via the Erez crossing and from the Egyptian authorities for entry via the Rafah crossing. We continue to press both authorities, directly and via intermediaries, to allow Amnesty International delegates and other international human rights organizations immediate access to the Gaza Strip.

In the meantime, Amnesty International is working with trusted contacts in the Gaza Strip to take testimonies by phone from eyewitnesses to particular attacks and family members of individuals who have been killed, and to collect photographic and video evidence for munitions experts outside of Gaza to examine. The organization is closely monitoring statements on the ongoing hostilities and particular attacks by both the Israeli authorities and Palestinian armed groups. Amnesty International is also using information from Palestinian and Israeli human rights organizations, as well international NGOs and UN organizations with staff on the ground in Gaza, to help identify patterns of violations and cross-check particular incidents.


Israeli forces have carried out attacks [since Israel launched Operation “Protective Edge” on 8 June 2014] that have killed hundreds of civilians, including through the use of precision weaponry such as drone-fired missiles, and attacks using munitions such as artillery, which cannot be precisely targeted, on very densely populated residential areas, such as Shuja’iyyeh. They have also directly attacked civilian objects. Thousands of homes across the Gaza Strip, several medical facilities, and non-military governmental buildings have been destroyed or badly damaged. Statements by the Israeli military and politicians that they consider the homes of people associated with Hamas, including the homes of political leaders, to be legitimate targets indicate that Israel has adopted targeting rules that do not conform to international humanitarian law, and could be evidence that at least some of the attacks on civilian homes are deliberate policy. Although the Israeli authorities claim to be warning civilians in Gaza, a consistent pattern has emerged that their actions do not constitute an “effective warning” under international humanitarian law. Increasing reports that medics trying to evacuate civilians, workers trying to repair damaged water and sanitation infrastructure, and journalists are coming under fire, killing and injuring some of them, are another very serious concern. Direct attacks on civilians and civilian objects, as well as indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks that are intentional and kill or injure civilians constitute war crimes.

Israeli attacks have caused mass displacement of Palestinian civilians within the Gaza Strip. As of 23 July, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reported that over 140,000 internally displaced people were sheltering in schools run by the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), and thousands of others were in Ministry of Education schools or with relatives. The UN has reported that an UNRWA school sheltering displaced people in the al-Maghazi refugee camp in central Gaza was shelled by Israeli forces on at least two occasions, with at least one child injured. Another UN school sheltering displaced families in Beit Hanoun in northern Gaza was struck on 24 July, killing at least 15 civilians and injuring many others, and the UN has called for an immediate investigation.


Effective advance warning to civilians is only one of the prescribed precautions in attack aimed at minimizing harm to civilians. When Israeli forces have given warning, key elements of effective warning have been missing, including timeliness, informing civilians where it is safe to flee, and providing safe passage and sufficient time to flee before an attack. There also have been reports of lethal strikes launched too soon after a warning to spare civilians. In any event, issuing a warning does not absolve an attacking force of its obligations to spare civilians, including by taking all other necessary precautions, doing everything feasible to verify the target is in fact a military objective, cancelling or suspending an attack if it becomes clear that it would be disproportionate, and choosing means and methods of attack that would minimise the risk to civilians and damage to civilian objects. Additionally, Israel’s continuing military blockade on the Gaza Strip and the fact that, since the start of the current hostilities, the Rafah crossing has mostly been closed by the Egyptian authorities, mean that civilians in Gaza cannot flee to neighbouring countries.


During the current hostilities, Hamas spokespeople have reportedly urged residents in some areas of the Gaza Strip not to leave their homes after the Israeli military dropped leaflets and made phone calls warning people in the area to evacuate. However, in light of the lack of clarity in many of the Israeli warnings on safe routes for civilians to evacuate, the lack of shelters or other safe places in the Gaza Strip for them to go to, and numerous reports of civilians who did heed the warnings and flee doing so under Israeli fire, such statements by Hamas officials could have been motivated by a desire to avoid further panic. In any case, public statements referring to entire areas are not the same as directing specific civilians to remain in their homes as “human shields” for fighters, munitions, or military equipment. Furthermore, international humanitarian law is clear that even if officials or fighters from Hamas or Palestinian armed groups associated with other factions did in fact direct civilians to remain in a specific location in order to shield military objectives from attacks, all of Israel’s obligations to protect these civilians would still apply. Flechettes are 3.5cm-long steel darts, sharply pointed at the front, with four fins at the rear. Between 5,000 and 8,000 of these darts are packed into shells which are generally fired from tanks. The shells explode in the air and scatter the flechettes in a conical pattern over an area about 300m by 100m. Flechettes are designed to be used against massed infantry attacks or squads of troops in the open, and obviously pose a very high risk to civilians when fired in densely populated residential areas.


Amnesty International has not yet been able to verify particular cases during the current hostilities, but has previously documented Israeli forces’ use of flechette rounds in the Gaza Strip, resulting in the killing of civilians, including children. For example, during Operation “Cast Lead”, Amnesty International found that Israeli forces used tank shells packed with thousands of flechettes on at least five occasions between 4 and 9 January 2009, in the north of Gaza and in a village south of Gaza City, killing several civilians, including a child, a woman and a paramedic. Flechettes are not specifically prohibited by international humanitarian law per se.

  Amnesty International
And why the hell not?
Israel maintains sole control of Gaza’s air space and territorial waters, and continues to prohibit any movement of people or goods in or out of Gaza via air or sea. Israel directly controls all but one of Gaza’s land border crossings, and continues to close three out of the four crossings for commercial goods, restrict the volume of key imports, and ban most exports, all of which have a serious impact on humanitarian and socioeconomic conditions in Gaza. Israel continues to control the Palestinian population registry, which covers residents of both the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, so any change in these records and all Palestinian Authority identity documents (including ID cards and passports) require Israeli approval. An Israeli-approved ID card or passport is required for any Palestinian to leave Gaza, including through the Rafah crossing.


Since 2005, Israel has continued its land incursions into the Gaza Strip, with Israeli forces regularly destroying farmland and agricultural assets in areas inside the Strip near its perimeter, carrying out other “routine” military operations and, during some periods, arresting “wanted” men inside Gaza. Several large Israeli operations since 2005 have had a devastating effect on civilians in Gaza, including Operations “Summer Rains” and “Autumn Clouds” in 2006, Operation “Hot Winter” in February-March 2008, Operation “Cast Lead” in 2008-2009, Operation “Pillar of Defense” in November 2012, and now the ongoing Operation “Protective Edge”. Apart from these major offensives, Israeli land and naval forces regularly use live fire against Palestinian civilians – primarily farmers and fishermen – in the land and maritime access-restricted areas. Israel carries out constant surveillance of the Gaza Strip, using sophisticated unmanned aircraft, satellite imagery and other means. At the very least, it is incumbent upon Israel not to actively obstruct relief for the civilian population of Gaza. Its military blockade, which has continued for over seven years, and goes well beyond reasonable security measures, [...] constitutes collective punishment.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

And This Is How Politics Works in America

Democrats are daring Republicans to oppose a border bill that includes aid to Israel during its increasingly heated conflict with Hamas.

As the simmering battle in Gaza reached its boiling point last week, the Israeli government turned to its strongest ally: The United States. And the White House was happy to oblige, relaying a request to Senate Democrats late last week to ask for more money for Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense program, according to congressional sources familiar with the request.


But for now, most Republicans aren’t biting. In interviews, GOP lawmakers said that while they support aiding the Israeli missile defense system, it doesn’t have to be paired with the border fix being sought by President Barack Obama.

“There’s strong support for that program and we can put it on any bill. You could bring it to the floor by itself and it would pass overwhelmingly,” said Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.).

Hopelessly broken, I think.

Israeli Activists Who Refuse to Participate in the Destruction of Palestinians

"Technically, Gaza is the biggest open-air prison. People inside cannot go in and out. They can find their way through tunnels sometime, but most of the population is locked there as prisoners. Israel control the air. Israel control the sea and the land. And the little strip that Egypt controls is basically coordinated with Israel and the United States to keep this a cage with those 1.8 million people. I, myself, tried, with different groups and a flotilla, to sail to Gaza and to break symbolically the blockade, but we were stopped by the Israeli occupation forces, claiming that we are dangerous because maybe we are bringing a weapon. So, just it’s so ridiculous to see now. You know, they stopped us from bringing the weapon, and I don’t think that Hamas had any problem to bring a weapon in. Maybe even in some paradoxical way it helps Netanyahu and his guys, these missiles, because I’m here in Tel Aviv, and I have a 10-month-old baby, and I have to hug her and go to the shelter when the missiles are falling, but it’s really nothing compared to what people in Gaza are experiencing. And I have family in Sderot, next to Gaza, and I have even relatives who are in Gaza as soldiers.

"And I think that if I have to give one allegory to this whole thing, and this need of Israel and me, myself, of self-protection—legitimate thing, by the way; I want to be safe, I don’t want anyone to bomb me and to kill me and my baby—I would imagine it as gang rape. And forgive me for using this hard language, but when you have a group of people raping someone, and this person that is being raped starting to scratch, the first thing you want to do in order to stop the scratches is to stop the rape. And what Israel, official Israel, is trying to do is to continue the rape and deal with the scratches. And I say, stop the rape, stop the occupation, stop the apartheid, stop this inhumane ghettoization of Palestinians, and then—then—we can start talking, and we can reach peace agreements and all these beautiful words that now don’t mean anything for us."

: Yonatan Shapiro -- Air Force pilot, one of the organizers of the 2003 letter signed by 27 Air Force pilots who refused to participate in Israeli military operations against Palestinians

  Democracy Now
Click the link to read Yonatan Shapiro’s interview, along with Yael Even Or (Israeli reservist leading a group of 56 others who refuse to serve), by Amy Goodman at Democracy Now. You can also view the videotape of the interview at that link.

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

Israel Should Be Thoroughly and Roundly Condemned

And all US aid should cease immediately.


Nice.  Real nice.

And why did Brazil recall its ambassador?  Could it be recent systematic and continuing slaughter of Palestinian children?  Recalling one's ambassador should be the least action at this point.

An official from the UN's Palestinian refugee agency UNRWA confirmed there were "multiple dead and injured" in the attack on a school in the city of Beit Hanoun. UN staff are also thought to be among the dead.

The facility was being used as a shelter by hundreds of Palestinians who had fled their homes since Israel began airstrikes two weeks ago.


[The Israel Defence Forces (IDF] wrote: "Last night, we told Red Cross to evacuate civilians from UNRWA's shelter in Beit Hanoun btw 10am & 2pm. UNRWA & Red Cross got the message.

"Hamas prevented civilians from evacuating the area during the window that we gave them.

"Today Hamas continued firing from Beit Hanoun. The IDF responded by targeting the source of the fire.


But Chris Gunness, a spokesman for UNRWA, said a window to allow civilians to leave was never granted.

  Sky News
The US response?
A spokesman for US Secretary of State John Kerry said: "We again urge all parties to redouble their efforts to protect civilians."

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Snowden & Ellsberg Conversation on Whistleblowing, State Surveillance, Integrity and Personal Courage

Let Daniel Ellsberg set you straight.

Every time I hear Edward Snowden speak, I am further amazed and impressed.

Don't It Make You Proud?

Pre-Crime Catch 22 you could end up on the US terror watchlist.
On 9/11, the government’s list of people barred from flying included just 16 names. Today, the no fly list has swelled to tens of thousands of “known or suspected terrorists” (the guidelines refer to them as KSTs). The selectee list subjects people to extra scrutiny and questioning at airports and border crossings. The government has created several other databases, too.


The Obama administration has quietly approved a substantial expansion of the terrorist watchlist system, authorizing a secret process that requires neither “concrete facts” nor “irrefutable evidence” to designate an American or foreigner as a terrorist, according to a key government document obtained by The Intercept.


Over the years, the Obama and Bush Administrations have fiercely resisted disclosing the criteria for placing names on the databases—though the guidelines are officially labeled as unclassified. In May, Attorney General Eric Holder even invoked the state secrets privilege to prevent watchlisting guidelines from being disclosed in litigation launched by an American who was on the no fly list.


The new guidelines allow individuals to be designated as representatives of terror organizations without any evidence they are actually connected to such organizations, and it gives a single White House official the unilateral authority to place “entire categories” of people the government is tracking onto the no fly and selectee lists.


The rulebook, which The Intercept is publishing in full, was developed behind closed doors by representatives of the nation’s intelligence, military, and law-enforcement establishment, including the Pentagon, CIA, NSA, and FBI. [...] It reveals a confounding and convoluted system filled with exceptions to its own rules, and it relies on the elastic concept of “reasonable suspicion” as a standard for determining whether someone is a possible threat.


“Instead of a watchlist limited to actual, known terrorists, the government has built a vast system based on the unproven and flawed premise that it can predict if a person will commit a terrorist act in the future,” says Hina Shamsi, the head of the ACLU’s National Security Project. “On that dangerous theory, the government is secretly blacklisting people as suspected terrorists and giving them the impossible task of proving themselves innocent of a threat they haven’t carried out.”


In addition to expected crimes, such as assassination or hostage-taking, the guidelines also define destruction of government property and damaging computers used by financial institutions as activities meriting placement on a list.


After stressing that hunches are not reasonable suspicion and that “there must be an objective factual basis” for labeling someone a terrorist, it goes on to state that no actual facts are required


While the guidelines nominally prohibit nominations based on unreliable information, they explicitly regard “uncorroborated” Facebook or Twitter posts as sufficient grounds for putting an individual on one of the watchlists. “Single source information,” the guidelines state, “including but not limited to ‘walk-in,’ ‘write-in,’ or postings on social media sites, however, should not automatically be discounted … the NOMINATING AGENCY should evaluate the credibility of the source, as well as the nature and specificity of the information, and nominate even if that source is uncorroborated.”


The immediate family of suspected terrorists—their spouses, children, parents, or siblings—may be watchlisted without any suspicion that they themselves are engaged in terrorist activity. But another loophole is quite broad—”associates” who have a defined relationship with a suspected terrorist, but whose involvement in terrorist activity is not known. A third loophole is broader still—individuals with “a possible nexus” to terrorism, but for whom there is not enough “derogatory information” to meet the reasonable suspicion standard.


There are severe consequences for people unfairly labeled a terrorist by the U.S. government, which shares its watchlist data with local law enforcement, foreign governments, and “private entities.” Once the U.S. government secretly labels you a terrorist or terrorist suspect, other institutions tend to treat you as one. It can become difficult to get a job (or simply to stay out of jail). It can become burdensome—or impossible—to travel. And routine encounters with law enforcement can turn into ordeals.


The guidelines do helpfully note that certain associations, such as providing janitorial services or delivering packages, are not grounds for being watchlisted.

  The Intercept
Unless taken with other suspicions, of course.
Although government officials have repeatedly said there is a rigorous process for making sure no one is unfairly placed in the databases, the guidelines acknowledge that all nominations of “known terrorists” are considered justified unless the National Counterterrorism Center has evidence to the contrary. In a recent court filing, the government disclosed that there were 468,749 KST nominations in 2013, of which only 4,915 were rejected–a rate of about one percent. The rulebook appears to invert the legal principle of due process, defining nominations as “presumptively valid.”
Guilty until proven innocent….only you don’t even know if you’re on the  list.

Monday, July 21, 2014


Have a look at the attire on NBC's reporters for the "exchange" of fighting between Israel and Palestine.

Jon Stewart calls them a "living political cartoon for the war in the Middle East."

Oh, and…
At least five people have been killed and 70 injured by an Israeli strike on a hospital in Gaza, Palestinians say.

The Israeli military said it had targeted a cache of anti-tank missiles in the hospital's "immediate vicinity".


On Monday evening Israel said seven of its soldiers had been killed in the past 24 hours, bringing the number of Israeli military dead to 25.


The Palestinian death toll from the two-week conflict has now passed 550, the majority of them civilians, according to Gaza's health ministry. The UN says more than 100,000 Gazans have now been displaced.


Friday, July 18, 2014

Cleansing Palestine

U.S. taxpayers have provided the Israeli military that invaded Gaza on Thursday night with more than $121 billion since the state’s founding, subsidizing about 25 percent of the tiny country’s annual defense budget in recent years.

That subsidy has increased even as Israel’s economy has experienced a growth spurt and the country has discovered stores of natural gas. Indeed, President Obama last year pledged to begin early negotiations to extend the annual military subsidy to Israel for another decade. Unlike his predecessor, Obama has sold Israel powerful bunker buster bombs and helped finance the Iron Dome missile defense system that has protected Israelis from Hamas rockets and missiles in the current war.

  The Daily Beast
A five-hour humanitarian truce has just ended in Gaza. The break was requested by the United Nations to allow residents of the Gaza Strip to gather supplies and repair damage following 10 days of attacks by Israel.

Democracy Now
Five hours to repair the damage of ten days of bombing?!?

But wait. There’s more.
Ayman Mohyeldin, the NBC News correspondent who personally witnessed yesterday’s killing by Israel of four Palestinian boys on a Gazan beach and who has received widespread praise for his brave and innovative coverage of the conflict, has been told by NBC executives to leave Gaza immediately.


Mohyeldin recounted how, moments before their death, he was kicking a soccer ball with the four boys, who were between the ages of 9 and 11 and all from the same family. He posted numerous chilling details on his Twitter and Instagram accounts, including the victims’ names and ages, photographs he took of their anguished parents, and video of one of their mothers as she learned about the death of her young son. He interviewed one of the wounded boys at the hospital shortly before being operated on. He then appeared on MSNBC’s All In with Chris Hayes, where he dramatically recounted what he saw.


Mohyeldin is an Egyptian-American with extensive experience reporting on that region. He has covered dozens of major Middle East events in the last decade for CNN, NBC and Al Jazeera English, where his reporting on the 2008 Israeli assault on Gaza made him a star of the network. NBC aggressively pursued him to leave Al Jazeera, paying him far more than the standard salary for its on-air correspondents.


According to an NBC source upset at his treatment, the executives claimed the decision was motivated by “security concerns” as Israel prepares a ground invasion, a claim repeated to me by an NBC executive. But late yesterday, NBC sent another correspondent, Richard Engel, along with an American producer who has never been to Gaza and speaks no Arabic, into Gaza to cover the ongoing Israeli assault (both Mohyeldin and Engel speak Arabic).


NBC curiously had Richard Engel – who was in Tel Aviv, and had just arrived there an hour or so earlier – “report” on the attack. Charlton wrote that “the decision to have Engel report the story for ‘Nightly’ instead of Mohyeldin angered some NBC News staffers.”

  Glenn Greenwald

And then....

Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu has ordered the military to start a ground operation in Gaza, his office has announced.


The ground phase of Operation Protective Edge has claimed more than 20 lives overnight. And barely a day into the fighting, Netanyahu is announcing a significant expansion of the ground operation.


In the meantime, the Jerusalem Post is reporting that Hamas continues to launch rockets in the direction of southern and central Israel.


The IDF also accused Hamas of using civilian deaths to paint Israel’s actions in a negative light. "In the face of Hamas' tactics to leverage civilian casualties in pursuit of its terrorist goals, the IDF will continue in its unprecedented efforts to limit civilian harm," it said.


As the offensive began, Israel's chief military spokesman Brig. Gen. Motti Almoz urged residents in Gaza to evacuate areas in which the military is operating, since it is doing so with "very great force."


The IDF [Israeli army] also accused Hamas of using civilian deaths to paint Israel’s actions in a negative light.

"In the face of Hamas' tactics to leverage civilian casualties in pursuit of its terrorist goals, the IDF will continue in its unprecedented efforts to limit civilian harm," it said.


And then…
CNN has removed correspondent Diana Magnay from covering the Israeli-Palestinian conflict after she tweeted that Israelis who were cheering the bombing of Gaza, and who had allegedly threatened her, were “scum.”


Magnay appeared on CNN Thursday from a hill overlooking the Israel-Gaza border. While she reported, Israelis could be heard near her cheering as missiles were fired at Gaza.

After the liveshot, Magnay tweeted: “Israelis on hill above Sderot cheer as bombs land on #gaza; threaten to ‘destroy our car if I say a word wrong’. Scum.” The tweet was quickly removed, but not before it had been retweeted more than 200 times.


The spokeswoman said Magnay has been assigned to Moscow.

UPDATE 6:39 PM:  Oh, no!  There was money to be lost.

Here's Your Change

Marvel announced Wednesday that Steve Rogers, the longtime Captain America, has been “robbed of his superior strength and vitality,” forcing him to trade in his uniform for a “sturdy cane.” Rogers will hand over his shield and duties to Sam Wilson, formerly known as Captain Falcon.


But wait.  There's more.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Breaking Free

The [BRICS] group of emerging economies signed the long-anticipated document to create the $100 bn BRICS Development Bank and a reserve currency pool worth over another $100 bn. Both will counter the influence of Western-based lending institutions and the dollar.

The new bank will provide money for infrastructure and development projects in BRICS countries, and unlike the IMF or World Bank, each nation has equal say, regardless of GDP size.

Damned commies.
The BRICS bank will be headquartered in Shanghai, India will preside as president the first year, and Russia will be the chairman of the representatives.


The $100 billion crisis lending fund, called the Contingent Reserve Arrangement (CRA), was also established. China will contribute the lion’s share, about $41 billion, Russia, Brazil and India will chip in $18 billion, and South Africa, the newest member of the economic bloc, will contribute $5 billion.

The idea is that the creation of the bank will lessen dependence on the West and create a more multi-polar world, at least financially.

“This mechanism creates the foundation for an effective protection of our national economies from a crisis in financial markets," Russian President Vladimir Putin said.
Thinking ahead (and back).
Russia has also proposed the countries come together under an energy alliance that will include a fuel reserve, as well as an institute for energy policy .

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Drip, Drip, Drip

The secretive British spy agency GCHQ has developed covert tools to seed the internet with false information, including the ability to manipulate the results of online polls, artificially inflate pageview counts on web sites, “amplif[y]” sanctioned messages on YouTube, and censor video content judged to be “extremist.” The capabilities, detailed in documents provided by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, even include an old standby for pre-adolescent prank callers everywhere: A way to connect two unsuspecting phone users together in a call.


But as the U.K. Parliament today debates a fast-tracked bill to provide the government with greater surveillance powers, one which Prime Minister David Cameron has justified as an “emergency” to “help keep us safe,” a newly released top-secret GCHQ document called “JTRIG Tools and Techniques” provides a comprehensive, birds-eye view of just how underhanded and invasive this unit’s operations are.

  Glenn Greenwald

If You Have Nothing to Hide...

On Monday, the White House sent a letter to Rep. Darrell Issa (R-California), the chair of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, asking the congressman to consider attending a closed-door meeting with administration officials on Tuesday in lieu of having an Obama aide answer questions on the Hill.


Issa responded to the White House’s silence by sending a subpoena last Friday to Simas’ office, requesting specifically that the director appear before Congress and speak as to OPSO’s role with regards to political campaigns and compliance with the Hatch Act.

“In an effort to appease its political allies, the Obama administration broadcast its intention to re-open a political office within the White House to assist in partisan election efforts and fundraising,” Issa said at the time. “This hearing will examine abuses of taxpayer funds for political gain and the level of White House commitment to preventing them.”


Monday, July 14, 2014

Will He Have Round the Clock Protection?

Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who was held captive for five years in Afghanistan until he was traded May 31 for five Taliban prisoners held at Guantanamo, has completed his U.S. military-led reintegration treatment and has been assigned to an Army unit in Texas [Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Houston] to continue his military service.


The Most Transparent Presidency in History

President Obama is “absolutely” the most transparent president in history, White House press secretary Josh Earnest said Sunday after the White House received a letter from signed by a dozen top journalists’ groups complaining about the administration’s policies toward the media.


The letter, signed by the Society of Professional Journalists and the Poynter Institute, among others, accuses the White House of "politically driven suppression of news and information about federal agencies." It asks the president to create an ombudsman charged with enforcing his goal of government transparency, and asks Obama "issue a clear directive telling federal employees they're not only free to answer questions from reporters and the public, but actually encouraged to do so.”


Earnest noted that previous administrations had “gone to the Supreme Court” to prevent the release of White House visitor information, but that the Obama administration “releases it voluntarily on the Internet on a quarterly basis.” “Reporters for years clamored to get access to fundraisers the president hosted or attended that were hosted in private homes,” Earnest continued. “Reporters now have access to those when this president goes to a private home.”

  The Hill
What more do you people want?