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Member since: Fri Nov 12, 2004, 07:39 AM
Number of posts: 44,425

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Exclusive: NSA Pays £100m in Secret Funding for GCHQ ('wants to "exploit any phone, anywhere..."')

Source: Guardian

Thursday 1 August 2013 11.04 EDT

Exclusive: NSA pays £100m in secret funding for GCHQ

• Secret payments revealed in leaks by Edward Snowden
• GCHQ expected to 'pull its weight' for Americans
• Weaker regulation of British spies 'a selling point' for NSA

The US government has paid at least £100m to the UK spy agency GCHQ over the last three years to secure access to and influence over Britain's intelligence gathering programmes.

- snip -

Snowden warned about the relationship between the NSA and GCHQ, saying the organisations have been jointly responsible for developing techniques that allow the mass harvesting and analysis of internet traffic. "It's not just a US problem," he said. "They are worse than the US."

As well as the payments, the documents seen by the Guardian reveal:

• GCHQ is pouring money into efforts to gather personal information from mobile phones and apps, and has said it wants to be able to "exploit any phone, anywhere, any time".

• Some GCHQ staff working on one sensitive programme expressed concern about "the morality and ethics of their operational work, particularly given the level of deception involved".

Read more: http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2013/aug/01/nsa-paid-gchq-spying-edward-snowden

Standard & Poor's 500 Index Surpasses 1,700 Points for First Time

Source: Associated Press

@AP: BREAKING: Standard & Poor's 500 index surpasses 1,700 points for the first time. -MM


Read more: Link to source

Breaking: Jobless Claims in U.S. Decline to Lowest Level in Five Years

Source: Bloomberg

Jobless Claims in U.S. Decline to Lowest Level in Five Years
By Lorraine Woellert
August 01, 2013 8:30 AM EDT

Claims for jobless benefits unexpectedly dropped to the lowest level in more than five years, extending swings typical for the month of July.

Applications for unemployment insurance payments declined by 19,000 to 326,000 in the week ended July 27, the fewest since January 2008, from a revised 345,000 the prior week, the Labor Department reported today in Washington. The median forecast of 50 economists surveyed by Bloomberg called for 345,000. A government analyst said no states were estimated, and the data were still being influenced by the auto plant shutdowns that play havoc with the figures at this time of year.

Businesses have been operating with tight workforces as they wait for signs of a sustained pickup in consumer demand. A slowdown in firings might signal that employers are becoming more confident in the recovery and preparing to grow payrolls, which would encourage household spending, the biggest part of the economy.

“The labor market is still improving,” Aneta Markowska, chief U.S. economist at Societe Generale in New York, said before the report. ”It underscores the resiliency of this economy and the underlying momentum in the private sector.”
Claims estimates in the Bloomberg survey ranged from 333,000 to 365,000. The Labor Department revised the previous week’s figure to 345,000 from an initially reported 343,000.

Read more: http://mobile.bloomberg.com/news/2013-08-01/jobless-claims-in-u-s-decline-to-lowest-level-in-five-years.html

Henry Blodget: "This One Tweet Reveals What's Wrong With American Business Culture And The Economy"


This One Tweet Reveals What's Wrong With American Business Culture And The Economy

HENRY BLODGET JUL. 31, 2013, 12:18 PM 25,681 181

- snip -

A sharp drop in government spending this year is, in fact, temporarily hurting economic growth, but that's not the real problem.

The real problem is that American corporations, which are richer and more profitable than they have ever been in history, have become so obsessed with "maximizing short-term profits" that they are no longer investing in their future, their people, and the country.

This short-term corporate greed can be seen in many aspects of corporate behavior, from scrimping on investment to obsessing about quarterly earnings to fretting about daily fluctuations in stock prices. But it is most visible in the general cultural attitude toward average employees.

Employees are human beings. They are people who devote their days to creating value for two other groups of people: customers and shareholders. And, in return, at least in theory, they are people who share in the rewards of the value created by their team.

In theory.

In practice, American business culture has become so obsessed with maximizing short-term profits that employees aren't regarded as people who are members of a team.

- snip -

This view of employees was expressed succinctly yesterday by a Twitter user named Daryl Tremblay, who was appalled by the suggestion that McDonald's should increase the wages of its restaurant workers and pay for this by making a bit less money. (I was arguing that McDonald's employees should not be treated as "costs," but instead as valuable members of a successful team who shouldn't have to work that hard and still live in poverty.)

Here was Daryl's response:

They are costs. Full Stop. They don't have a stake, they hold nothing. They trade their labor for money.

— Daryl Tremblay (@DarylT) July 30, 2013

Now, Daryl is hardly alone in this view. Most senior managers and owners of big American corporations think this way these days. They regard the human beings they work with — the human beings who create the value that pays their salaries — as "costs" to be reduced to create "maximized earnings." Because "maximized earnings," it is now frequently said, is the only thing that any business owner or manager should care about.

Whenever you suggest to folks like Daryl that it doesn't have to be this way, that some companies can and do balance the interests of shareholders with the interests of customers and employees — and, in so doing, create a symbiotic relationship that supports all of these constituencies — folks like Daryl call you a "socialist."

- snip -

It doesn't have to be this way.

There is no capitalist law that says companies have to view employees as "costs" and pay them as little as possible.

- snip -

If American corporations were struggling to earn money these days, we wouldn't be having this conversation.

But they aren't.


Pa. Police Chief Suspended After Video Profanities

Source: Associated Press


Jul. 31 10:24 PM EDT

GILBERTON, Pa. (AP) — A small-town police chief who appears in online videos using profanity and shooting automatic weapons has been suspended for 30 days without pay.

The borough council of Gilberton voted 5-1 at a meeting Wednesday night to suspend Chief Mark Kessler, saying he misused borough property. It said he used the weapons without permission.

Kessler has said he made the videos to draw attention to the erosion of the constitutional rights of free speech and to bear arms and he increasingly fears a government out of control.

He said after the meeting that he wouldn't apologize for making the videos and didn't regret having done so. He said he looked forward to getting back to work after the suspension.

- snip -

In one video, Kessler criticizes U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry's support of a United Nations treaty aimed at controlling the international arms trade, which some gun rights advocates fear could lead to restrictions on domestic weapons. Kessler then fires a weapon and screams, "Come and get it!"

Read more: http://bigstory.ap.org/article/pa-police-chief-suspended-after-video-profanities

Nuptials at Midnight as Gay Marriage Hits Minn. (R.I., D.C.)

Source: Associated Press

@AP: R.I., Minn. becoming 12th and 13th US states to allow gay marriage along with District of Columbia: http://t.co/mkmEKigO6G - VW


— Jul. 31 10:34 PM EDT

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Dozens of Minnesota gay couples made last-minute preparations Wednesday for midnight marriages, determined to exchange vows at the earliest possible moment under a new state law legalizing same-sex marriage.

Weddings were scheduled to start at the stroke of midnight at Minneapolis City Hall, St. Paul's Como Park, Mall of America's Chapel of Love and at county courthouses around the state. One group planned a cluster of weddings in a Duluth tavern.

"I don't think either of us ever thought we'd see this day," said Mike Bolin, of the Minneapolis suburb of Richfield, who was marrying Jay Resch, his partner of six years, at Minneapolis City Hall. "We met at low points in both of our lives, and to have arrived at this point — there's going to be a lot of tears."

Rhode Island was joining Minnesota on Thursday in becoming the 12th and 13th U.S. states to allow gay marriage, along with the District of Columbia. The national gay rights group Freedom to Marry estimates that about 30 percent of the U.S. population now lives in places where gay marriage is legal. The first gay weddings in Rhode Island were planned for later Thursday morning.

Read more: http://bigstory.ap.org/article/nuptials-midnight-gay-marriage-hits-minn

Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak takes a moment to himself as he prepares for the evening's weddings at City Hall, Wednesday, July 31, 2013 in Minneapolis. Dozens of Minnesota gay couples made last-minute preparations Wednesday for midnight marriages, determined to exchange vows at the earliest possible moment under a new state law legalizing same-sex marriage. (AP Photo/The Star Tribune, Jim Gehrz) MANDATORY CREDIT; ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS OUT; MAGS OUT; TWIN CITIES TV OUT

N.C. State Health Director Resigns from DHHS (with copy of resignation letter)

Source: NC Policy Watch

State Health Director resigns from DHHS (with copy of resignation letter)

Post on July 31, 2013
by Sarah Ovaska

Last night, the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services announced that state health director, one of the top positions in the agency, has resigned.

Dr. Laura Gerald, a pediatrician who had been in the position since for the last 18 months, had served as the State Health Director and the director of the state division of public health.

No reason for her resignation was given by Wos, but a copy of Gerald’s resignation letter obtained by N.C. Policy Watch indicates she was uncomfortable with the policies being pushed in DHHS.

“Although I have demonstrated the ability to produce accomplishments that require work and collaboration with diverse groups and across political aisles, I acknowledge that I have significant differences and disagreements with many of the policy and administrative directions that I see unfolding in North Carolina and in the Department of Health and Human Services,” Gerald wrote. “These differences are making it increasingly impossible to continue to be effective in my current role.”

- snip -

N.C. Policy Watch obtained a copy of Gerald’s resignation letter from a reader, and have confirmed it is real. She cites “significant differences and disagreements with many of the policy and administrative directions that I see unfolding in North Carolina and in the Department of Health and Human Services” as her reason for leaving.

Read more: http://pulse.ncpolicywatch.org/2013/07/31/state-health-director-resigns-from-dhhs/

Military Fails to Link Manning Leaks With Any Deaths (Sentencing Testimony from General)

Source: Courthouse News

@wikileaks: No deaths caused by release of Afghan War Logs, says general who headed leak investigation | Courthouse News https://t.co/5oYOsO69pF

Military Fails to Link Leaks With Any Deaths


FT. MEADE, Md. (CN) - The largest intelligence leak in U.S. history, disclosed by Pfc. Bradley Manning to WikiLeaks, did not lead to the deaths of any military sources, the government's first sentencing witness testified Wednesday.

- snip -

In 2011, then-Army Chief of Staff Mike Mullen had said that Manning and WikiLeaks "might already have on their hands the blood of some young soldier or that of an Afghan family."

But Manning has insisted that he sent WikiLeaks only low-sensitivity categories of files that he believed would shed light on U.S. war fighting and statecraft. Three years of journalistic scrutiny into the effects of the leaks could not uncover a case of an intelligence source who was killed or injured because of the disclosures.

The military's position took another hit Wednesday, as the former brigadier general who headed the Information Review Task Force investigating the leaks said that he had never heard that a source named in the Afghan war logs was killed.

Though the Taliban had claimed that its review of the war logs led them to an Afghan whom the U.S. military named as a source, the supposed informant the Taliban claimed to have executed was not in fact named in the leaked materials.

Read more: https://www.courthousenews.com/2013/07/31/59869.htm

New Snowden Leak Upstages U.S. Move to Declassify Documents

Source: Reuters

New Snowden leak upstages U.S. move to declassify documents

By Alina Selyukh and Patricia Zengerle

WASHINGTON | Wed Jul 31, 2013 3:50pm EDT

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - New revelations from former security contractor Edward Snowden that U.S. intelligence agencies have access to a vast online tracking tool came to light on Wednesday as lawmakers put the secret surveillance programs under greater scrutiny.

The Guardian, citing documents from Snowden, published National Security Agency training materials for the XKeyscore program, which the newspaper described as the NSA's widest-reaching system that covers "nearly everything a typical user does on the Internet."

Intelligence analysts can conduct surveillance through XKeyscore by filling in an on-screen form giving only a "broad justification" for the search and no review by a court or NSA staff, the Guardian said.

Snowden's revelations to media that U.S. intelligence agencies collected data on phone calls and other communications of Americans and foreign citizens as a tool to fight terrorism have sparked uproar in the United States and abroad.

Intelligence officials say the programs helped thwart terrorist attacks.

"The implication that NSA's collection is arbitrary and unconstrained is false," the agency said in a statement in response to the Guardian's new report, calling XKeyscore part of "NSA's lawful foreign signals intelligence collection system."

Lawmakers have called for greater oversight of the vast surveillance system, which expanded rapidly after the September 11 attacks on the United States in 2001.

Read more: http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSBRE96U03320130731

Juan Cole: "Top Ten Ways Bradley Manning Changed the World"


Top Ten Ways Bradley Manning Changed the World

Posted on 07/31/2013 by Juan Cole

Bradley Manning will be sentenced today, having been found guilty of 20 counts on Tuesday, including espionage (despite the lack of evidence for intent to spy and the lack of evidence that his leaking ever did any real harm). Whatever one thinks of Manning’s actions, that we deserved to know some of what he revealed and that his revelations changed the world are undeniable.

1. Manning revealed the Collateral Murder video of a helicopter attack in Iraq on mostly unarmed non-combatants (though some of those struck may have been armed), including two Reuters journalists, whose cameras were taken for weapons, and children. The army maintains that the video does not show wrongdoing, but the killing of unarmed journalists is a war crime, and the callousness of video gives an idea of what was going on in Iraq during the years of the US occupation. When the Bush administration asked the Iraqi parliament for permission to keep a base in the country, the parliamentarians said, absolutely not. The US military was forced to withdraw from Iraq by Dec. 31, 2011.

2. Manning revealed the full extent of the corruption of Tunisian dictator Zine El Abidin Ben Ali, adding fuel to the youth protest movement of late 2010, which translated the relevant US cables into Arabic. Manning contributed to the outbreak of powerful youth movements demanding more democratic governance in the Arab world.

3. Manning revealed to the US and Yemeni publics the secret drone war that Washington was waging in that country. That the cables show then dictator Ali Abdallah Saleh acquiescing in the US strikes on his country probably played into the movement to remove him as president, which succeeded in early 2012.

- snip -

6. Revealed that Afghanistan government corruption is “overwhelming”. This degree of corruption, which has shaken the whole banking system and caused US funds to be massively misused, is still a factor in our decision of whether to stay in Afghanistan in some capacity after December 2014. The US public is in a better position to judge the issue with these documents available.

- snip -

10. Manning’s act of courage encouraged hackers to leak the emails of Bashar al-Assad and his wife, showing their jewelry buys in Europe and gilded style of life while al-Assad’s artillery was pounding Homs and other cities with no regard for the lives of noncombatants. In fact, Manning inspired numerous leakers, including some who blew the whistle on PLO corruption and willingness to give away most of Jerusalem to Israel, and, likely, Edward Snowden, who revealed to us that our government has us all under surveillance.


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