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Current location: Potlandia
Member since: Fri Sep 28, 2007, 04:39 PM
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THIS is our "Democratic POTUS's" NSA spying agency at work, operating above the law, committing felonious crimes in broad daylight, to spy on ALL OF US, at will. I'm still trying to wrap my mind around the scope of this revelation, but so far, it's a painful 'fit'.

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BY JEREMY SCAHILL AND JOSH BEGLEY * Feb. 19, 2015 * The Intercept

AMERICAN AND BRITISH spies hacked into the internal computer network of the largest manufacturer of SIM cards in the world, stealing encryption keys used to protect the privacy of cellphone communications across the globe, according to top-secret documents provided to The Intercept by National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden.

The hack was perpetrated by a joint unit consisting of operatives from the NSA and its British counterpart Government Communications Headquarters, or GCHQ. The breach, detailed in a secret 2010 GCHQ document, gave the surveillance agencies the potential to secretly monitor a large portion of the world’s cellular communications, including both voice and data.

The company targeted by the intelligence agencies, Gemalto, is a multinational firm incorporated in the Netherlands that makes the chips used in mobile phones and next-generation credit cards. Among its clients are AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon, Sprint and some 450 wireless network providers around the world. The company operates in 85 countries and has more than 40 manufacturing facilities. One of its three global headquarters is in Austin, Texas and it has a large factory in Pennsylvania.

In all, Gemalto produces some 2 billion SIM cards a year. Its motto is “Security to be Free.”

With these stolen encryption keys, intelligence agencies can monitor mobile communications without seeking or receiving approval from telecom companies and foreign governments. Possessing the keys also sidesteps the need to get a warrant or a wiretap, while leaving no trace on the wireless provider’s network that the communications were intercepted. Bulk key theft additionally enables the intelligence agencies to unlock any previously encrypted communications they had already intercepted, but did not yet have the ability to decrypt.

As part of the covert operations against Gemalto, spies from GCHQ — with support from the NSA — mined the private communications of unwitting engineers and other company employees in multiple countries.

Gemalto was totally oblivious to the penetration of its systems — and the spying on its employees. “I’m disturbed, quite concerned that this has happened,” Paul Beverly, a Gemalto executive vice president, told The Intercept. “The most important thing for me is to understand exactly how this was done, so we can take every measure to ensure that it doesn’t happen again, and also to make sure that there’s no impact on the telecom operators that we have served in a very trusted manner for many years. What I want to understand is what sort of ramifications it has, or could have, on any of our customers.” He added that “the most important thing for us now is to understand the degree” of the breach.


BOROWITZ : Bush Says He Will Harm Nation Differently from His Brother

Bush Says He Will Harm Nation Differently from His Brother
BY ANDY BOROWITZ * FEBRUARY 18, 2015 * The New Yorker

CHICAGO (The Borowitz Report) — In an effort to distance himself from the legacy of his brother, George W. Bush, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush will use a major foreign-policy speech on Wednesday to assert that, if elected President, he would harm the nation in completely different ways.

“A lot of people are looking at me and thinking that I’m just going to be a rerun of my brother,” Bush told reporters before the speech. “They are greatly underestimating my ability to create chaos and destruction in ways that are uniquely mine.”

As an example, Bush said, he was unlikely to invade Iraq for a third time, calling such an action “too derivative.”

“George already did it, and Dad did it before him,” he said. “Call it my independent streak, if you will, but I want to spawn some disasters of my own.”

To that end, Bush said that he and his foreign-policy team were already scanning the globe for “new and different places” where the United States could become involved in open-ended and pointless quagmires.

“I see boundless opportunities for the reckless and totally optional insertion of American military force,” he said. “No offense to my brother, but there were a few spots that George missed.”


Fast-Track Treason and the Coming Corporate Coup: Calling Out TPP Traitors

The Oligarch's draconian end-game is now in-the-works. Will the public wake up in time to stop it?

Fast-Track Treason and the Coming Corporate Coup
Thursday, 19 February 2015 00:00 * By Rivera Sun, Truthout | Op-Ed * Truthout

The Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement usurps federal, state and local authority, and functions as a global corporate coup.

Corporations aren't people - otherwise, we'd be trying them for treason. If it were known that a handful of powerful men and women were meeting in secret to overthrow the authority of the US government and make this nation submissive to external domination, the NSA, CIA, FBI, US president, Congress and the military-industrial complex would declare them "terrorists of the year" and bomb them back into the Stone Age.

But corporations aren't people. They enjoy superhuman status, and are awarded privileges and protections well beyond what ordinary citizens of the United States can expect. (The last time a corporation was shot dead in the streets by a police officer was - well, never.) Corporations are given preferential treatment by judges, laws, politicians, investigators, tax agencies, financial institutions and much of our consumer-capitalist society.

So, when corporations spend years in secret negotiations to set up a trade agreement that gives them the legal power to overrule federal, state and local laws, subjugating not only the United States, but also the rest of the world to their control, our Congress lines up to help them.

This is treason by another name. It's called fast-track authority for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

Congress, on the whole, has not seen the secret, thousand-page text of the TPP. Yet, congressional members are curiously willing to eschew their right and responsibility to review this international trade treaty and fast-track the legislation without debate or revision. If they vote to fast-track the TPP, they are silencing the people and handing the nation over on a silver platter to corporate domination.

In addition to stating trade rules, the TPP also sets up a corporate-run international tribunal court whose legal task is to overrule federal, state and local laws that restrict trade or give one nation an "unfair advantage" over another. Don't be fooled by the altruistic-sounding phrase: What this really means is that all labor, environmental, health and safety laws would be reduced to the lowest common denominator. Say hello to lead poisoning and sweatshops. Say goodbye to health benefits and living wages. Also, city zoning laws that keep industrial developments from lowering the value of your home can be gutted by this tribunal court. Factory farms and sludge fields can move in next door. Toxic plants can be located next to the schoolyard. Gone are the fracking bans and GMO-labeling laws we worked so hard to pass. One hundred and fifty years of labor history is being thrown in the gutter by the regressive nature of the TPP.

Also alarming is the possibility that TPP sections would allow venomous attacks on public assets like schools, water district utilities, parks, bridges, roads, public banks, buses and social programs. Regarded as awarding an "unfair advantage" to those enterprises via government support, the TPP would allow the feeding frenzy to privatize public assets to reach a new height. If the TPP is passed, it is only a matter of time before we, the people, own nothing and they, the private individuals and corporations, own everything.


In Whose US? Machine Guns, MRAPs, Surveillance, Drones, Permanent War and a Permanent Election Campa

In Whose US? Machine Guns, MRAPs, Surveillance, Drones, Permanent War and a Permanent Election Campaign
Tuesday, 17 February 2015 12:33 * By Tom Engelhardt, TomDispatch | Op-Ed * Truthout

I never fail to be amazed -- and that’s undoubtedly my failing. I mean, if you retain a capacity for wonder you can still be awed by a sunset, but should you really be shocked that the sun is once again sinking in the West? Maybe not.

The occasion for such reflections: machine guns in my hometown. To be specific, several weeks ago, New York Police Commissioner William J. Bratton announced the formation of a new 350-officer Special Response Group (SRG). Keep in mind that New York City already has a police force of more than 34,000 -- bigger, that is, than the active militaries of Austria, Bulgaria, Chad, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Kenya, Laos, Switzerland, or Zimbabwe -- as well as its own “navy,” including six submersible drones. Just another drop in an ocean of blue, the SRG will nonetheless be a squad for our times, trained in what Bratton referred to as “advanced disorder control and counterterror.” It will also, he announced, be equipped with “extra heavy protective gear, with the long rifles and machine guns -- unfortunately sometimes necessary in these instances.” And here’s where he created a little controversy in my hometown. The squad would, Bratton added, be “designed for dealing with events like our recent protests or incidents like Mumbai or what just happened in Paris.”

Now, that was an embarrassment in liberal New York. By mixing the recent demonstrations over the police killings of Michael Brown, Eric Garner, and others into the same sentence with the assault on Mumbai and the Charlie Hebdo affair in France, he seemed to be equating civil protest in the Big Apple with acts of terrorism. Perhaps you won’t be surprised then that the very next day the police department started walking back the idea that the unit would be toting its machine guns not just to possible terror incidents but to local protests. A day later, Bratton himself walked his comments back even further. (“I may have in my remarks or in your interpretation of my remarks confused you or confused the issue.”) Now, it seems there will be two separate units, the SRG for counterterror patrols and a different, assumedly machine-gun-less crew for protests.


Similar points could be made about the 13-year-old “global war” the Bush administration launched and the specific wars, raids, conflicts, invasions, and occupations that have been carried out under its aegis. President Obama has been fighting Iraq War 3.0 and Syria War 1.0 for six months, claiming that Congressional post-9/11 authorizations allow him to do so. Now, he wants a three-year extension on something he claims he doesn't need and has delivered a text to Congress filled with enough loopholes to send an army (and air force) through -- and not just in Iraq and Syria either. Not getting this authorization wouldn’t, however, significantly affect the administration’s plans in the Middle East. So much for the "power" of Congress to declare war. That body is nonetheless evidently going to spend months holding hearings and “debating” a new authorization, even as fighting goes on without it, based on informal agreements pounded out by the White House and the Pentagon. (Alice would have found Wonderland sane by comparison.)


Washington’s grimly named Predator and Reaper drones have been hunting their prey in the backlands of the planet 24 hours a day for more than a decade now. Thousands of people have been wiped out, including women, children, and wedding parties, as well as numerous significant and insignificant figures in terror outfits of every sort. And yet in not one of those countries has the situation improved in any significant way in terms of U.S. policy goals. In most of them it has grown worse and the drones have been a factor in such developments, alienating whole populations on the ground below. This has been obvious for years to counterinsurgency experts. But a reconsideration of these drone wars is beyond the pale in Washington. Drone assassination is now a sacrosanct act of the American state, part of a “global” war 13 years old and ongoing. No one in any position of power, now or in the immediate future, is going to consider flying them back.

The CIA has sometimes been called the president’s private army. Today, it's running most (but not all) of Washington’s drone campaigns and so those robotic lone wolves could be considered the president’s private air force. In the process, the twenty-first-century White House has been officially and proudly turned into an assassin’s lair and don’t expect that to change in 2016 or 2020 either.


David Carr's final interview with Snowden & Greenwald just a few HOURS before his death

David Carr's final interview with Snowden & Greenwald, just a few HOURS before his death

I did not know about this odd 'coincidence' until just now. Un-fucking-believable.

Pot Could Save Your Life: 4 Ways Cannabis is Good for Your Brain

Pot Could Save Your Life: 4 Ways Cannabis is Good for Your Brain
It's not just about getting high--cannabis could save your life.
By Dana Larsen * AlterNet * February 10, 2015

Modern research is showing that cannabis extracts protect and benefit the human brain. Here’s four amazing ways scientists are showing that cannabis actually helps to keep your brain safe from disease, dementia and even death!

#4 – Cannabis promotes new brain cell growth

Government scare campaigns often claim that cannabis kills brain cells, but now we are learning the truth. Those discredited studies were done in the 70s, by strapping a gas mask onto a monkey and pumping in hundreds of joints worth of smoke. The monkeys suffered from lack of oxygen, and that’s why their brain cells died. (snip)

#3 – Cannabis prevents Alzheimer’s

About 5 millions Americans suffer from Alzheimer’s. but there’s hope in sight. Modern research shows that using cannabis helps prevent the incidence of Alzheimer’s and dementia by cleaning away beta-amyloid “brain plaque.”

#2 – Cannabis prevents brain damage after strokes and trauma

Several recent studies have found that cannabinoids protect the brain from permanent damage after trauma or stroke.

#1 – Cannabis extracts treat brain cancer

One exciting use of cannabinoids is in the treatment of cancer. Repeated laboratory and animal studies have shown that cannabinoids kill cancer cells and shrink tumours, while helping to protect normal cells.


Doctors Worldwide Blast TPP's 'Chilling Effect' on Health, Climate Protections

Doctors Worldwide Blast TPP's 'Chilling Effect' on Health, Climate Protections
While U.S. corporations have been involved in negotiations, 'health agencies have been forced to rely on leaks,' physicians point out in letter to be published Saturday
by Deirdre Fulton, staff writer * Friday, February 13, 2015 * Common Dreams

An international coalition of doctors representing seven Pacific Rim countries is demanding the public release of draft trade agreements currently being negotiated in secret between world governments.

The corporate-friendly Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), along with the equally troubling Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), "threaten the ability of governments worldwide to provide affordable health care and to put in place health and environmental laws that protect public health and mitigate health inequity," reads a letter (pdf) signed by 27 health leaders, to be published Saturday in the international health journal The Lancet.

"Although USA-based industry advisors have been granted privileged access to negotiating documents, health agencies have been forced to rely on leaks for information," the document continues, referring to WikiLeaks's efforts to shed light on the draft texts.

The signatories hail from New Zealand, Australia, the U.S., Canada, Chile, Malaysia, and Vietnam—7 of the 12 countries that would be covered by the TPP—and the list includes leaders of the World Medical Association and World Federation of Public Health Associations. The effort was led by medical providers from New Zealand and Australia, who note that TPP provisions could "push up the cost of affordable and life-saving medicines" for vulnerable populations in those countries and elsewhere.

"The negotiations are not about the way most of us think of trade—you and me buying and selling things," said New Zealand psychiatrist Erik Monasterio, a co-author and lead signatory. "Instead they are protecting the massive investments profits of multinational companies that are bigger than the whole New Zealand economy. They want to make sure that countries won’t be able to pass laws or change policies, no matter how important to the local country, if that would cut profits of an overseas investor."

"And all the while, the text is shrouded in secrecy," he added.



Are you, your family or your community at risk of turning to violent extremism? That’s the premise behind a rating system devised by the National Counterterrorism Center, according to a document marked “For Official Use Only,” and obtained by The Intercept.

The document — and the rating system — is part of a wider strategy for Countering Violent Extremism, which calls for local community and religious leaders to work together with law enforcement and other government agencies. The White House has made this approach a centerpiece of its response to terrorist attacks around the world, and in the wake of the Paris attacks, announced plans to host an international summit on Countering Violent Extremism on February 18th.

The rating system, part of a 36-page document dated May 2014 and titled “Countering Violent Extremism: A Guide for Practitioners and Analysts,” suggests that police, social workers and educators rate individuals on a scale of one to five in categories such as: “Expressions of Hopelessness, Futility,” “Talk of Harming Self or Others,” and “Connection to Group Identity (Race, Nationality, Religion, Ethnicity).” The ranking system is supposed to alert government officials to individuals at risk of turning to radical violence, and to families or communities at risk of incubating extremist ideologies.

Families are judged on factors such as “Aware of Each Other’s Activities,” as well as levels of “Parent-Child Bonding,” and communities are rated by access to health care and social services, in addition to “presence of ideologues or recruiters” as potential risk factors.

A low score in any of these categories would indicate a high risk of “susceptibility to engage in violent extremism,” according to the document. It encourages users of the guide to plot the scores on a graph to determine what “interventions” could halt the process of radicalization before it happens.

Meet the Oregon Muckraker Who Keeps Taking Down Oregon Democratic Governors

Would that Nigel would move to Wisconsin (Scott Walker) or Florida (Rick Scott), so he could "take down" Governors who are anti-labor, anti-environment, anti-democratic racist assholes; instead of Dems who didn't manage to quite cover their asses adequately re: their personal lives.

Meet the Oregon Journalist Who Keeps Taking Down Governors
John Kitzhaber and Neil Goldschmidt have something in common: they ended up on the wrong side of Nigel Jaquiss's reporting.
by Joel Weber & Anthony Effinger * Bloomberg * Feb. 14, 2015

The resignation of Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber on Friday is another pelt on the wall for Nigel Jaquiss, a Goldman Sachs oil trader turned muck-raking journalist.

Jaquiss, 52, works at Willamette Week, the free alternative weekly in Portland where he reported on allegations of Gov. John Kitzhaber's influence peddling. From that modest perch, Jaquiss also won a Pulitzer Prize, in 2005, for exposing long-hidden sexual assault by former Gov. Neil Goldschmidt, the godfather of Oregon politics. And in 2009, Jaquiss's reporting revealed an improper sexual relationship between then-Portland Mayor Sam Adams and a legislative intern, which Adams initially denied.


Weather Weaponry: As if we needed one more reason to dismantle the CIA, NSA, et. al.

Spy agencies fund climate research in hunt for weather weapon, scientist fears
US expert Alan Robock raises concern over who would control climate-altering technologies if research is paid for by intelligence agencies
by Ian Sample * The Guardian * Feb. 15, 2015

A senior US scientist has expressed concern that the intelligence services are funding climate change research to learn if new technologies could be used as potential weapons. Alan Robock, a climate scientist at Rutgers University in New Jersey, has called on secretive government agencies to be open about their interest in radical work that explores how to alter the world’s climate.

Robock, who has contributed to reports for the intergovernmental panel on climate change (IPCC), uses computer models to study how stratospheric aerosols could cool the planet in the way massive volcanic eruptions do. But he was worried about who would control such climate-altering technologies should they prove effective, he told the American Association for the Advancement of Science in San Jose.

Last week, the National Academy of Sciences published a two-volume report on different approaches to tackling climate change. One focused on means to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, the other on ways to change clouds or the Earth’s surface to make them reflect more sunlight out to space.

The report concluded that while small-scale research projects were needed, the technologies were so far from being ready that reducing carbon emissions remained the most viable approach to curbing the worst extremes of climate change. A report by the Royal Society in 2009 made similar recommendations.

The $600,000 report was part-funded by the US intelligence services, but Robock said the CIA and other agencies had not fully explained their interest in the work. “The CIA was a major funder of the National Academies report so that makes me really worried who is going to be in control,” he said. Other funders included Nasa, the US Department of Energy, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.


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