Saturday, June 15, 2013

MIE: CSIS Redefining "Activists" in Canada

Are You a Multi-Issue Extremist? How Activism is Becoming Terrorism

by Kevin Logan - The

If you read this site regularly, and subscribe to the claims and advice of Rafe Mair, you probably are. Because the 81 year-old Mair is British Columbia's most well-known and well-loved Multi-Issue Extremist (MIE).

The now long-established CSIS "Counter Terrorism Strategy" has defined individuals who express dissent toward any number of issues in this way.

In particular, people who are committed to opposing unbridled oil and gas development, defined as "activist groups, indigenous groups, environmentalists and others who are publicly critical of government policy."

Many people who feel the current rush to massively exploit Canadian resources is the wrong path, also feel the same about farmed salmon, GMO's and private river power expansionism. To name but a few of the Multiple Issues people are concerned with today.

In all likelihood, those of you sharing these views are "Multi-Issue Extremists", and you have a working file at CSIS.

Many of you have also probably expressed your concerns about these issues on the Internet or attended protest events such as the "Defend our Coast" event last fall, which included a "pledge" of "civil disobedience."

And this is where the rubber hits the road.

Since the upset of the May 14th provincial election, many people endeared to "defending our coast" are ready to double down on their efforts.

There have been escalating calls for civil disobedience as a result of the current election, coupled with the realization that the protest options available to British Columbians are now severely limited on a whole array of pressing issues.

Recently, the unwarranted surveillance of average citizens has come into the spotlight. Most activists are aware that this practice has been in place since 9/11 and some are aware that they existed well before. Defense Minister Peter McKay confirmed in the House this past week that he approved secret electronic eavesdropping in 2011.

The laws ushered in by 9/11 had sunset clauses and were targeted toward "terrorism."

However, since the most recent American "terrorist" event, the Boston Bombing, the Harper government has brought back into effect "sunsetted" anti-terrorist legislation.

Those of you who pledged a commitment of civil disobedience during the Defend our Coast event did so at a time when these laws were not in place, so you should pay particularly close attention to the CSIS "counter-terrorism" initiative and its focus on MEIs and what it all means now that they have been reintroduced.

Because, as of today, most of the millions of Canadian citizens "surveiled" without their knowledge have little if anything to be concerned about, besides the outrageous violation of privacy such practices entail.

However, those of us who have committed to the good fight and pledged to massive civil disobedience have much to be concerned about. In fact, as it stands today, you can be arrested right now, and your electronic footprint and pledge to undertake civil disobedience is all that they require.

You can be taken from your home, without charge, for up to three days. Your release will be conditional, and if you do not agree to the conditions - such as no longer participating in petro-insurgency - you will not be released and could be detained for up to a year.

Yes, you! Right now, you can experience "preemptive arrest" and "preventative detention" under the CSIS counter-terrorism classification of MIE, for what you have already done and what they already have on you. All perfectly legal.

But surely this is all hypothetical - powers that exist on paper that our government wouldn't dare implement in reality. Unfortunately, the government's record over the past several years suggests otherwise.

According to The Guardian, in 2011, "a Montreal, Quebec man who wrote letters opposing shale gas fracking was charged under Canada's Anti-Terrorism Act. Documents released in January show the RCMP has been monitoring Quebec residents who oppose fracking."

In February, we learned through a report from two Canadian academics, based on documents they obtained through Access to Information, that prominent ENGOs like Greenpeace and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) have been classified as "Multi-Issue Extremists". The report observed, "Intelligence agencies have blurred the categories of terrorism, extremism and activism into an aggregate threat matrix."

Industry is apparently getting into the act too. According to a Desmog Blog story this past week, "Documents recently obtained by Bold Nebraska show that TransCanada - owner of the hotly-contested Keystone XL (KXL) tar sands pipeline - has colluded with an FBI/DHS Fusion Center in Nebraska, labeling non-violent activists as possible candidates for 'terrorism' charges and other serious criminal charges."

Meanwhile, according to this Dominion story, the Canadian government has been orchestrating briefings for energy companies by CSIS, the RCMP and other agencies to share sensitive information involving activist threats to industry. So while we are all fixated on the most recent American whistle blower's "revelations", we should be directing some of that attention to our own government and gaining a better understanding of the terrain we intend to traverse.

Kevin's career has been diverse, ranging from small business to NGOs through finance and government. Early on, he operated the research department for the Vancouver branch of international brokerage Richardson Greenshields. After leaving the finance industry he owned operated small businesses and eventually established a consulting company which contracts with both the private and public sectors. He served as a ministerial assistant to numerous ministers and a premier in the former BC NDP Administration. Kevin is also an independent researcher and writer who has administered many diverse and successful campaigns.

What Next for Snowden, a Plea Deal?

Is the Snowden Case Headed for a Plea Deal?

by Peter Lee - China Matters

I’m guessing that there is more to Edward Snowden’s choice of Hong Kong instead of Iceland as an intial refuge than a matter of dim sum over skyr, hangikjöt, kleinur,laufabrauð, and bollur.

At the very least, Snowden can keep the global media pot boiling with interviews to the avid Hong Kong media about exciting China-related hacking secrets, thereby raising his profile and improving his chances of receiving genuine due process from the courts in Hong Kong and the United States.

It’s a better way to keep the world engaged in Snowden’s situation than giving an interview to the Fréttablaðið (Iceland’s biggest newspaper), watching the international stories slip to the inside page, and waiting for somebody to kick the door in.

But there’s another card he can play, especially if he doesn’t want to get extradited to the United States, albeit after a spectacular and presumably fair trial in Hong Kong, and then spend the rest of his life in a US prison.

That’s for him to make a deal with the US Government not to ignite whatever dynamite he’s got on the four laptops he brought to Hong Kong, in return for brief, easy time in some US penitentiary.

After all, in terms of informing and inflaming the public, Snowden’s work is pretty much done.

And he’s done it without revealing any operational details.

Maybe the best use of the rest of the information he’s got is as a “get out of jail” card.

If the USG doesn’t act interested, maybe its attitude will change after a few more embarrassing tidbits make it into the public domain.

I’ll be interested to see if the US government tries to get some kind of injunction to get the Hong Kong papers not to report his revelations and remove Snowden’s public relations megaphone–and diminish his bargaining power.

In the worst case, Snowden could threaten to turn over his goodies to the PRC if he didn’t get a deal.

That would certainly get Washington’s attention; but it would be immediately leaked to the press, branding Snowden with the “traitor” label, destroy any standing he’s been able to accrue, and make him fair game for whatever skullduggery the US decides to send down the pipe.

I doubt that’s Snowden’s strategy.

But maybe he’s bedeviling the US government with the unnerving prospect that the longer he stays in Hong Kong, the better the chance is that he’ll get snatched by PRC security services; and, if he does get arrested prior to extradition, who knows what will happen to him—and his laptops–during interrogation?

It’s a dangerous game with no guaranteed outcome, but what do you expect if you walk out of the United States with a computer full of secrets?

I think Edward Snowden (and Glenn Greenwald) knew what to expect, and that’s why he’s in Hong Kong.

Since I think CounterPunch readers expect some factual meat and potatoes as well as airy speculation, here are some more thoughts on Edward Snowden’s Panopticon:

For Some People, Edward Snowden’s Panopticon Is Already Here

Critics of Snowden’s leak concerning the extent of NSA surveillance often fall back on the argument that “people who don’t do bad things have nothing to fear”, i.e. extensive/intensive surveillance isn’t an issue for non-wrongdoers.

The “Panopticon” issue raised by Snowden (from a Foucault book) states, on the other hand, that omnipresent surveillance is by its nature oppressive—for everyone, including the “good guys”.

The gold standard for routine, workaday surveillance used to be the post office.

Some of us are old enough to remember the halcyon days when the greatest threat to public safety was the danger that a postal worker would go off and shoot himself and/or his boss and coworkers and/or the public at large.

As was reported in the press in the 1990s, a big part of “going postal” was the stressful work conditions (I’m assuming that some of the same practices prevail today, with some modifications, but we’ve got bigger homicidal fish to fry than the post office now and there isn’t as much reporting on the labor conditions inside the USPS).

A key problem at the post office was rampant Taylorism (industrial time management).

Workers who worked hard and were efficient were not rewarded; they got more work and longer routes. Therefore workers “paced themselves” so they would not conspicuously exceed their quotas.

Management’s main job was squeezing more work out of the employees, and a key task was to identify and push the workers who were “pacing themselves”.

The whole system was underpinned by the surveillance system. It wasn’t just to detect mail theft. It was to catch workers who weren’t giving what the USPS considered 100%.

In 1998, Traci Hikull profiled USPS operations in northern California for the San Jose Metro:

Jan Maddux, president of the 1,000-plus-member American Postal Workers Union Local 73, sits in his San Jose office describing some uncharming but typical managerial tactics. “You’re gone 10 minutes and 30 seconds on your break, and you’re AWOL 30 seconds,” he says. “They’ll stand behind you and watch you to make sure you’re not casing [sorting mail] with one hand because that’s wasting time, see? So they’ll write you up.”…

“These people work hard. The workload …” [a local postmaster] sighs, not finishing the sentence. When asked if he thinks the pressure to perform makes employees feel like they’re being watched for slipups, he covers his face with his hands and scrubs at it, the same way people do when they’ve been staring at a computer monitor too long.
“We’re supervising them not to catch them messing up but to be sure everything is handled properly,” he says finally.
“We have all these spotlights on us, and that’s why we’ve just gotten better and better,” Cattivera adds. “And isn’t that the way it should be? Shouldn’t we be held accountable to make sure you get your mail every day?”…

It’s not hard to see why people lose it working for the post office. The constant surveillance alone would drive some people over the edge, and the peculiar logic takes care of the rest.

The fact of being under continual surveillance is, by itself, enough to stress people out.

A study in England concluded that pervasive workplace surveillance increased stress-related complaints by 7 to 10%:
Monitoring noted by the PSI study includes logging emails and internet usage, keystroke loggers, recording and timing calls and measuring shop-till throughput.
Bearing the brunt of the IT scrutiny are administrative and white-collar employees, such as call-centre staff and data-entry workers, who complained of an increase in work strain of 10 percent when they are being watched.

In 2013, the LA Times’ Alana Samuels wrote a two-part piece on today’s “harsh workplace” and the central role of surveillance. She reported:

Phil Richards used to like his job driving a forklift in a produce and meat warehouse. He took pride in steering a case of beef with precision.

Now, he says, he has to speed through the warehouse to meet quotas, tracked by bosses each step of the way. Through a headset, a voice tells him what to do and how much time he has to do it.

It makes the Unified Grocers warehouse in Santa Fe Springs operate smoothly with fewer employees, but it also makes Richards’ work stressful.

“We’re just like human machines,” said Richards, 52. “But with machines, they don’t care whether you feel good, or if you’re having a bad day.”

Technology has eliminated many onerous work tasks, but it’s now one of the factors contributing to a harsher work environment.

Employers are using technology to read emails and monitor keystrokes, measure which employees spend the most time on social networking websites and track their movements inside and outside the office. They can see who works fastest and who talks the most on the phone. They can monitor how much time people spend talking to co-workers — and how much time they spend in the bathroom.

The sanitation truck that James Brooker III drives in Raleigh, N.C., has a GPS device that enables his bosses to track his every move. Co-workers have been disciplined for driving too slowly or for taking an extra 10 minutes on a lunch break on a tough day, he said.

“You’re always worried that you’re not doing your job correctly,” he said. “It makes you stressed out, and there’s so much pressure to rush.”

Employers can read workers’ email, see what websites they visit and read any emails or text messages stored on work-issued computers or smartphones. In all but six states (California is one of the exceptions), employers can require employees to provide their passwords to social networking sites. And in most states, employers can monitor their employees and are not required by law to tell them it’s happening.

Michael Cunningham found this out the hard way.

His employer suspected he wasn’t working when he said he was and put a GPS device on Cunningham’s personal car without telling him. Officials tracked him driving to a diner instead of work, tracked his son driving to an internship and tracked him during an approved vacation in Massachusetts. A year later, they fired him, explaining the GPS had confirmed their suspicions that he was falsifying his time sheets.

With the help of the American Civil Liberties Union, Cunningham sued his employer, the New York state Department of Labor, but lost. Judges in New York’s Appellate Division ruled that the law does not prohibit employers from using GPS to monitor employee behavior if it is relevant to the employee’s job performance.

The ruling means that although the government has to get a warrant to use a GPS device to track criminals, it can legally track its employees without approval from the employee or a judge, said Corey Stoughton, the ACLU lawyer on the case.

When executives at Dixie Specialty Insurance, a Mississippi company, noticed a few employees were working more slowly than they once had, they installed software from Awareness Technology on company computers to monitor what websites the employees were visiting and block the more popular ones. Productivity jumped, said Cassandra Phillips, the company’s information technology manager.

Software from another company, SpectorSoft Corp., tracks how much time employees spend on certain websites and can measure whether it is “active time” — whether or not the employee is typing or clicking, for example.

In the private sector, the objective of surveillance is enhanced productivity.

And it works best, in true Panopticon style, when employees assume surveillance is universal and pervasive and modify their activity without the local Bill Lumbergh showing up to give them a nudge.

And then the company can lay off Bill Lumbergh! That’d be great! Start chewing those Rolaids, Bill!

In other words, control is internalized together with, of course, the stress.

In private life, I think a similar dynamic will apply as surveillance becomes more pervasive.

The result will not be enhanced productivity; it will be enhanced compliance.

We will experience the Stasi-worthy anxiety that our activities are being continually observed and judged and we may be found wanting.

The slogan could be: “I must do more; what must I do?”

That’s life in the brave new world of the Panopticon.

Safer? Maybe

More stressful? Definitely.

Peter Lee edits China Matters. His ground-breaking story on North Korea’s nuclear program, Big Bang Theory in North Korea, appears in the March issue of CounterPunch magazine. He can be reached at: chinamatters (at) prlee. org.

Christian Massacre: Village Razed by 'Free Syrian Army'

Syria Militants Massacre Christian Village Population (Graphic Images)

by Intifada-Palestine - Syria Report

More details of a massacre in Homs late last month have emerged following the global outcry of a massacre in Deir el-Zour yesterday.

The massacre, carried out by Free Syrian Army militants reportedly targeted men, women and children in the Christian village of al-Duwayr/Douar close to the city of Homs and the border with Lebanon. The incident received little media attention, having occurred at the same time as thousands of Syrian troops converged on the insurgent-occupied town of al-Qusayr.

According to sources, around 350 heavily armed militants entered the village, broke into homes and assembled residents in the main square of the village where they were executed. The final death toll is not known but photos show severe damage to property in the village.

Syrian army sources said that they reached the village after the massacre, resulting in clashes with militants. Sources also reported that Turkish and Chechen extremists were among the perpetrators. Chechen militants are known to have kidnapped two Christian bishops in Aleppo earlier this year. The following images show al-Duwayr/Douar village after the massacre:

Conditions for ethnic and religious minorities have been made increasingly worse as Free Syrian Army affiliated organisations including Jabhat al-Nusra increase ethnic and sectarian cleansing across Syria. Kidnappings, executions and assassinations are common.

Late last month, around the time of the massacre in Homs, a fifteen year old girl was kidnapped by militants in Damascus, who demanded $100,000 for her release. Miryam Jbeil, a niece Damascus-based Catholic priest Nader Jbeil, was released after a number of days in captivity.

In the aftermath of the Syrian army assault on al-Qusayr, the church was discovered to have been desecrated by Free Syrian Army militants.

What NSA Spying Revelations Reveal About America's Burgeoning Police State Apparatus

What the NSA Revelations Tell Us about America's Police State

by Tom Burghardt - Antifascist Calling

Ongoing revelations by The Guardian and The Washington Post of massive, illegal secret state surveillance of the American people along with advanced plans for waging offensive cyberwarfare on a global scale, including inside the US, underscores what Antifascist Calling has reported throughout the five years of our existence: that democracy and democratic institutions in the United States are dead letters.

Last week, Guardian investigative journalist Glenn Greenwald revealed that NSA "is currently collecting the telephone records of millions of US customers of Verizon, one of America's largest telecoms providers, under a top secret court order issued in April."

That order from the FISA court "requires Verizon on an 'ongoing, daily basis' to give the NSA information on all telephone calls in its systems, both within the US and between the US and other countries."

"The document shows for the first time that under the Obama administration the communication records of millions of US citizens are being collected indiscriminately and in bulk--regardless of whether they are suspected of any wrongdoing."

The latest revelations track directly back to what USA Today reported in 2006: "The National Security Agency has been secretly collecting the phone call records of tens of millions of Americans, using data provided by AT&T, Verizon and BellSouth," and that secretive NSA program "reaches into homes and businesses across the nation by amassing information about the calls of ordinary Americans--most of whom aren't suspected of any crime."

"'It's the largest database ever assembled in the world,' said one person, who, like the others who agreed to talk about the NSA's activities, declined to be identified by name or affiliation. The agency's goal is 'to create a database of every call ever made' within the nation's borders," USA Today disclosed.

Mission accomplished!

The publication of the FISA order confirms what whistleblowers such as former AT&T technician Mark Klein, Babak Pasdar, as well as NSA insiders William Binney, Russell Tice and Thomas Drake have been warning for years: the architecture of an American police state is not only in place but fully functioning.

According to Binney, just one Narus STA 6400 "traffic analyzer" installed in one of AT&T's "secret rooms" exposed by Klein (there are upwards of 20 scattered across the United States) can can analyze 1,250,000 1,000-character emails every second, or some 100 billion emails a day.

While the Obama administration and their coterie of media flacks argue that these programs are "legal," we would do well to recall that in 2009, The New York Times reported that NSA "intercepted private e-mail messages and phone calls of Americans in recent months on a scale that went beyond the broad legal limits established by Congress last year."

Although Justice Department and intelligence officials described NSA's massive communications' dragnet as simple "overcollection" that was "unintentional," documents published so far expose such statements for what they are: lies.

Babak Pasdar's Verizon Disclosure

More than five years ago I wrote that "a new FISA whistleblower has stepped forward with information about a major wireless provider apparently granting the state unrestricted access to all of their customers' voice communications and electronic data via a so-called 'Quantico Circuit'."

That whistleblower, Babak Pasdar, the CEO of Bat Blue, revealed in a 2008 affidavit filed with the Government Accountability Project (GAP) that Verizon maintained a high-speed DS-3 digital line that allowed the FBI, the agency which oversees the "Quantico Circuit," virtually "unfettered" access to Verizon's wireless network, including billing records and customer data "transmitted wirelessly."

A year prior to Pasdar's disclosure, Wired Magazine revealed that the FBI was deploying malware which it described as a "computer and internet protocol address verifier," or CIPAV, to spy on selected targets.

Wired disclosed, citing a court affidavit filed in US District Court in the Western District of Washington, that "the spyware program gathers a wide range of information, including the computer's IP address; MAC address; open ports; a list of running programs; the operating system type, version and serial number; preferred internet browser and version; the computer's registered owner and registered company name; the current logged-in user name and the last-visited URL."

Compare Wired's description of CIPAV with what we have learned about the NSA's black program, PRISM, from The Guardian and The Washington Post.

According to Glenn Greenwald and Ewen MacAskill's reporting in The Guardian:

"The program facilitates extensive, in-depth surveillance on live communications and stored information." Additionally, one "chart prepared by the NSA, contained within the top-secret document obtained by the Guardian, underscores the breadth of the data it is able to obtain: email, video and voice chat, videos, photos, voice-over-IP (Skype, for example) chats, file transfers, social networking details, and more."
"Once that data is gathered," Wired reported in 2007, "the CIPAV begins secretly monitoring the computer's internet use, logging every IP address to which the machine connects," and sends that data "to a central FBI server located somewhere in eastern Virginia."

"The server's precise location wasn't specified, but previous FBI internet surveillance technology--notably its Carnivore packet-sniffing hardware--was developed and run out of the bureau's technology laboratory at the FBI Academy in Quantico, Virginia."

According to Pasdar, with such access the FBI and the NSA are allowed to listen in and record all conversations en-masse; collect and record mobile phone data en-masse; obtain the data that a subscriber accessed from their mobile phone, including internet access, email and web queries; trend individual call patterns and call behavior; identify inbound and outbound callers; track all inbound and outbound calls and trace the user's physical location.

And as we learned last week from The Guardian and The Washington Post, the secret state's technical capabilities have evolved by whole orders of magnitude since initial stories of secret government surveillance were first reported nearly eight years ago by The New York Times.

For example, under NSA's internet-tapping PRISM program the Guardian and Post revealed that "nine leading US Internet companies," have given over access to their central servers to the FBI and NSA, thereby enabling high-tech spooks to extract "audio and video chats, photographs, e-mails, documents, and connection logs."

So pervasive, and intrusive, are these programs, that the whistleblower who revealed their existence, who we now know is former CIA technical specialist Edward Snowden, who had "firsthand experience with these systems, and horror at their capabilities," are what led him "to provide PowerPoint slides about PRISM and supporting materials to The Washington Post in order to expose what he believes to be a gross intrusion on privacy. 'They quite literally can watch your ideas form as you type'," the officer said."

Hints of the frightening capabilities of these, and other as yet unknown programs, had been revealed years earlier.

When Pasdar was in the process of migrating Verizon servers and installing a newer and more secure set of firewalls, the security specialist discovered an unnamed "third party" had installed the above-mentioned DS-3 line, a "45 megabit per second circuit that supports data and voice communications."

Stunned when he learned that Verizon officials insisted the circuit should "not have any access control" and "should not be firewalled," Pasdar was told in no uncertain terms that the "owners" of the DS-3 line specified that no record of its existence should ever be made.

"'Everything at the least SHOULD be logged,' I emphasized."

"I don't think that is what they want."

A top project manager who drove out to the site warned Pasdar to "forget about the circuit" and "move on" with the migration. He was further warned that if he "couldn't do that then he would get someone who could."

When the manager left, Pasdar asked one of his Verizon colleagues, "Is that what I think it is?"
"What do you think?", he replied.

"I shifted the focus. 'Forgetting about who it is, don't you think it is unusual for some third party to have completely open access to your systems like this? You guys are even firewalling your internal offices, and they are part of your own company!'"

His colleague replied, "Dude, that's what they want."

"I didn't bother asking who 'they' were this time. 'They' now had a surrogate face,'" top manager dubbed "DS" by Pasdar. "They told me that 'they' went all the way to the top [of Verizon], which is why the once uncertain DS could now be so sure and emphatic."

Disturbed that Verizon was turning over access of their communications infrastructure to secret government agencies, Pasdar wrote:

"For the balance of the evening and for some time to come I thought about all the systems to which this circuit had complete and possibly unfettered access. The circuit was tied to the organization's core network. It had access to the billing system, text messaging, fraud detection, web site, and pretty much all the systems in the data center without apparent restrictions."
"What really struck me," Pasdar noted, "was that it seemed no one was logging any of the activity across this circuit. And if they were, the logging system was so abysmal that they wouldn't capture enough information to build any type of a picture of what had transpired. Who knew what was being sent across the circuit and who was sending it? To my knowledge no historical logs of the communications traversing the 'Quantico Circuit' exists."

The security consultant affirmed that government snoops "may be able to access the billing system to find information on a particular person. This information may include their billing address, phone number(s), as well as the numbers and information of other people on the plan. Other information could also include any previous numbers that the person or others on their plan called, and the outside numbers who have called the people on the plan."

And once the Electronic Security Number (ESN) of any plan member's phone has been identified, well, the sky's the limit!

"With the ESN information and access to the fraud detection systems, a third party can locate or track any particular mobile device. The person's call patterns and location can be trended and analyzed."

"With the ESN," Pasdar averred, "the third party could tap into any and all data being transmitted from any particular mobile device. This would include Internet usage, e-mails, web, file transfers, text messages and access to any remote applications."

"It would also be possible in real-time to tap into any conversation on any mobile phone supported by the carrier at any point."

While the major firms identified by Guardian and Post reporters in the PRISM disclosures deny that NSA has built backdoors into their systems, The New York Times revealed although Twitter declined to make it easier for the government to spy on their users, "other companies were more compliant, according to people briefed on the negotiations. They opened discussions with national security officials about developing technical methods to more efficiently and securely share the personal data of foreign users in response to lawful government requests. And in some cases, they changed their computer systems to do so."

According to the Times, the "companies that negotiated with the government include Google, which owns YouTube; Microsoft, which owns Hotmail and Skype; Yahoo; Facebook; AOL; Apple; and Paltalk, according to one of the people briefed on the discussions," the same tech giants called out by the PRISM revelations.

"In at least two cases, at Google and Facebook," reporter Claire Cain Miller disclosed, "one of the plans discussed was to build separate, secure portals, like a digital version of the secure physical rooms that have long existed for classified information, in some instances on company servers. Through these online rooms, the government would request data, companies would deposit it and the government would retrieve it, people briefed on the discussions said."

So much for their non-denial denials!

More pertinently however, the "digital version of the secure physical rooms" described by the Times track directly back to what whistleblower Mark Klein told Wired, along with supporting documents in 2006, about AT&T's secret Room 641A housed in San Francisco.

Klein revealed:

"In 2003 AT&T built 'secret rooms' hidden deep in the bowels of its central offices in various cities, housing computer gear for a government spy operation which taps into the company's popular WorldNet service and the entire internet. These installations enable the government to look at every individual message on the internet and analyze exactly what people are doing. Documents showing the hardwire installation in San Francisco suggest that there are similar locations being installed in numerous other cities."

And as with the "separate, secure portals" described by the Times, AT&T's "secret rooms" are staffed with NSA-cleared corporate employees of the tech giants.

Klein informed us:

"The normal work force of unionized technicians in the office are forbidden to enter the 'secret room,' which has a special combination lock on the main door. The telltale sign of an illicit government spy operation is the fact that only people with security clearance from the National Security Agency can enter this room." (emphasis in original)

How Extensive Is the Surveillance? Well, Boundless!

Back in 2008, The Wall Street Journal reported that NSA "now monitors huge volumes of records of domestic emails and Internet searches as well as bank transfers, credit-card transactions, travel and telephone records. The NSA receives this so-called 'transactional' data from other agencies or private companies, and its sophisticated software programs analyze the various transactions for suspicious patterns."

With the Verizon and PRISM disclosures, we now know who those "private companies" are: major US high tech and telecommunications giants.

Journalist Siobhan Gorman revealed that the NSA's "enterprise involves a cluster of powerful intelligence-gathering programs, all of which sparked civil-liberties complaints when they came to light. They include a Federal Bureau of Investigation program to track telecommunications data once known as Carnivore, now called the Digital Collection System, and a U.S. arrangement with the world's main international banking clearinghouse to track money movements."

"The effort also ties into data from an ad-hoc collection of so-called 'black programs' whose existence is undisclosed, the current and former officials say."

Amongst the "black programs" disclosed by The Guardian, we learned last week that through the NSA's top secret Boundless Informant program the agency "has developed a powerful tool for recording and analysing where its intelligence comes from, raising questions about its repeated assurances to Congress that it cannot keep track of all the surveillance it performs on American communications."

As Glenn Greenwald and Ewen MacAskill disclosed, the "Boundless Informant documents show the agency collecting almost 3 billion pieces of intelligence from US computer networks over a 30-day period ending in March 2013. One document says it is designed to give NSA officials answers to questions like, 'What type of coverage do we have on country X' in 'near real-time by asking the SIGINT [signals intelligence] infrastructure'."

Like their Bushist predecessors, the Obama regime claims the security apparatus is "not listening in" to the phone calls of Americans, asserting instead they are "merely" harvesting metadata, the digital footprints and signatures of electronic devices.

But as the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) points out:

"Metadata provides enough context to know some of the most intimate details of your lives. And the government has given no assurances that this data will never be correlated with other easily obtained data. They may start out with just a phone number, but a reverse telephone directory is not hard to find. Given the public positions the government has taken on location information, it would be no surprise if they include location information demands in Section 215 orders for metadata."

Conservative estimates since the 9/11 provocation have revealed that the NSA phone database now contains upwards of 1.9 trillion call-detail records under a program code name MARINA and that a similar database for email and web queries also exists, PINWALE.

The FISA court order signed in April by Judge Roger Vinson directs Verizon to hand over to the NSA "on an ongoing daily basis thereafter for the duration of this order, unless otherwise directed by the Court, an electronic copy of the following tangible things: all call detail records or 'telephony metadata' created by Verizon for communications (i) between the United States and abroad; or (ii) wholly within the United States, including local telephone calls."

One can only assume that other carriers such as AT&T and Sprint have been issued similar orders by the FISA court.

According to the Order, "Telephony metadata includes comprehensive communications routing information, including but not limited to session identifying information (e.g., originating and terminating telephone number, International Mobile Subscriber Identity (ISMI) number, International Mobile station Equipment Identity (IMEI) number, etc.), trunk identifier, telephone calling card numbers, and time and duration of call."

While the order specifies that "telephony metadata" does not include the "substantive content of any communication" or "the name, address, or financial information of a subscriber or customer," that information, should an individual come in for "special handling" by the secret state, call and internet content is fully-retrievable, courtesy of US high-tech firms, under the MARINA, PINWALE and PRISM programs.

As the heroic whistleblower Edward Snowden told The Guardian last Sunday: "The NSA has built an infrastructure that allows it to intercept almost everything. With this capability, the vast majority of human communications are automatically ingested without targeting. If I wanted to see your emails or your wife's phone, all I have to do is use intercepts. I can get your emails, passwords, phone records, credit cards."

"What they're doing,” Snowden said, poses "an existential threat to democracy."

If what the Bush and now, Obama regimes are doing is not Orwellian blanket surveillance of the American people, then words fail.

The Lab: Revealing Israel's Military Industrial Occupation Complex

The Israeli Lab and the Palestinian Guinea Pigs

by Gilad Atzmon

"The Lab" is a new groundbreaking Israeli documentary film that redefines our entire understanding of the Jewish State, its aims, its identity and its global destructive role. I honestly believe that this film is the deepest and most important commentary on Israel.

In ‘The Lab’, Director Yotam Feldman exposes the Israeli military industry and its operation, he interviews some major protagonists within Israel’s ‘security’ trade.

He elaborates on the role of the industry within the Israeli society and economy - in the last few years Israeli security exports reached an unprecedented level of $7 billion a year.

A full 20% of Israeli exports are military or military related. Approximately 150.000 families in Israel are dependent on that industry. Israel is now the fourth biggest military exporter.

In the last decade, every Israeli military operation led to an immediate sharp increase in sales of Israeli military export around the world: weaponry, systems, intelligence, strategies, doctrines, knowledge and experience.

Feldman provides us with a glimpse into a very organized universe. We visit Israeli weapon fairs around the world but we also see arenas filled to capacity with foreign generals, public officials and diplomats. They are all shopping for Israeli military products. The message is clear, the 7 billion dollars is just part of the story. Israeli military elite is now deeply interwoven with the political and military elite of every country around the globe. This emerging Israeli business buys the Jewish state influence and support.

Watch Foreign Generals shopping around:

"The Lab" makes it evidently clear that the Palestinian civilian population in the West Bank and Gaza have become test subjects for Israeli tactics, weaponry and fighting philosophy (‘Fighting Torah’, Torat Lechima - as the Israelis call it). The destruction of the Palestinians has now been transformed into a very profitable industry. We are dealing here with nothing short of highly calculated murder.

Through a set of fascinating interviews, Feldman conveys a very genuine picture of the Israeli death merchants. Feldman lets them talk, he hardly interferes. They are sharp, they are genuine, they are even funny at times, occasionally witty, and a few of them, might even be charming if you did not know who they are. But make no mistake, they are sinister, some of them are clearly psychotic, they are mass murderers and they are free. They sell destruction and havoc and do it very successfully.

Watch IDF Yoav Galant, the planner and executioner of Operation Cast Lead, discussing ‘proportions’:

Being myself an Israeli-born and raised successful musician and writer, I think I can recognize Israeli dedication, perseverance and creativity when I see it, no matter into what service it is pressed. (Perhaps I was lucky to be rescued by bebop.) Those Israeli death angels’ talent is driven into the amplification of human misery. The consequences are tragic.

Game Changer

It is far from being a secret that a century of Palestinian struggle led to practically nothing. The state of the Palestinian solidarity movement is even more embarrassing. Feldman's "The Lab" is a game changer, for it can explain decades of impotence.

We are immersed in flawed terminology - ‘colonialism’, ‘apartheid’, ‘conflict’, ‘solution’, ‘Zionism’ are just few examples. Gaza is now a vast Laboratory - the Israelis are the ‘scientists’ and the ‘technicians’, the Palestinians are the ‘guinea pigs’. Watching "The Lab" must lead all of us to fundamentally question our notions. We are dealing with a premeditated war crime. The notion of resolution (as in ‘two-state solution’), for instance, is not applicable. It is clear beyond doubt that in the real world the ‘scientist’ does not negotiate with the ‘guinea pig’. The ‘scientist’ also doesn’t consider sharing reality with his ‘guinea pig’ in a ‘one democratic state.’ "The Lab" is a glimpse into the Israeli mind: you clearly do not find much compassion there.

For decades we were foolish to examine the success and failure of Israeli military operations in reference to Israeli military and political ‘objectives,’ as we surmised them. We were clearly wrong.

As we learn from Feldman’s film, the real objective of Israeli operations may as well be examining new doctrines and operational systems in order to distribute them around the world soon after. Ehud Barak, for instance, wasn’t exactly the most sophisticated Israeli minister of defense, he clearly failed to defend his people or even make them feel secure. However, he was very successful in selling Israeli weapons and doctrines.

Tel Aviv being subject to a barrage of Qassam rockets may be seen by Israelis as devastating news, but from a military industrial point of view, it was a golden opportunity to examine and promote the Israeli anti-missile system Iron Dome. If I am correct here, it becomes clear that like the Palestinians, more and more Israelis are also becoming ‘guinea pigs’ in this ever growing military laboratory.

One may wonder how and when "the Zionist dream" transformed itself into a military business. Only a few of us, writers and scholars, have attempted to answer this question. The transformation of the Jewish State into an oppression factory is apparently a direct outcome of Israel’s supremacist ideology. If we want to understand what is happening in the Jewish State, we must first grasp the notions of choseness, Jewishness and Jewish identity politics.

I guess that enough Palestinians in Gaza do realise by now that they have been part of an Israeli experiment. Every too often we learn from Palestinian doctors that while treating casualties of Israeli aggression they encounter new types of wounds. The Lab explains it but it isn’t Palestine alone. We also witness a growing similarity between the operational mode of police forces around the world and the IDF treatment of the Palestinians.

Watching Yotam Feldman’s "The Lab" explains it all. We are all Palestinians. We are either occupied by Israel or by its proxy forces around the world - those who are trained in Israel and implement Israeli weaponry and tactics.

The Wandering Who? A Study Of Jewish Identity Politics - or

Gilad Atzmon was born in Israel in 1963 and had his musical training at the Rubin Academy of Music, Jerusalem (Composition and Jazz). As a multi-instrumentalist he plays saxophones, clarinet and ethnic woodwind instruments.

His album Exile was the BBC jazz album of the year in 2003. He has been described by John Lewis on the Guardian as the “hardest-gigging man in British jazz".

Atzmon is touring extensively around the world playing in festivals, concert halls  and clubs. His albums, of which he has recorded twelve to date, often explore political themes and the music of the Middle East.

Friday, June 14, 2013

7 Steps to Protecting Your Online Privacy

7 Powerful Ways to Maintain Your Privacy and Integrity Online

by Eliot Estep

Information Clearing House - The recent NSA leaks from whistleblower Ed Snowden have publicly confirmed that digital privacy does not exist. The federal government and intelligence agencies have direct server access to the world’s most popular sites and services including Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Apple, and more. This means that all of your data when using these services including Skype, YouTube, etc has been compromised and can be used against you whenever strategically necessary.

Always remember, you are being recorded and monitored regardless of whether you have done anything wrong or not. This includes your emails, internet activity, searches, banking activity, passwords, etc. Basically everything to build a complete profile about who you are, how you think, how you live, etc. This is very powerful data gathering and the goal of the intelligence agencies is nothing less than Total Information Awareness to be used to control and manage populations.

For these reasons, I have compiled some helpful tips to help you maintain your privacy and integrity when using the Internet. These are by no means comprehensive, but they can be quite useful and give you some semblance of peace when browsing.

1. Use for all your searches. Known as “the world’s most private search engine”, StartPage will allow you to search anonymously and securely through Google. It is probably the only search engine that does not collect or share any personal information about you. You can even access pages through a proxy quickly and easily. StartPage functionality can be easily added to your browser for all searches made through the address bar. If you value your privacy, this is really a no-brainer.

If you use Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc then everything you search is logged to your IP address and is used to build a comprehensive profile about all your online activity. This means that the government literally has the ability to know everything you’ve been interested in, how you type (thus, how you think), and much more. Protect your searches!

2. Consider using an Anonymizer such as Tor to protect your identity. Tor prevents anyone from learning your location, browsing habits, and is an extremely effective tool against network surveillance and traffic analysis. Tor is essentially a network of virtual tunnels run by volunteers that allows your real IP address to remain hidden and undetectable when browsing the Internet. It is used by whistleblowers, hackers, and all those who value anonymity. You can also use it to access sites that your ISP has blocked or banned. Keep in mind, if you use Tor to access personally-identifying sites like Facebook then you pretty much lose your ability to remain anonymous. Learn more about this powerful software and please use it responsibly! To get started quickly, please download the Tor Browser Bundle. Using this software wisely and effectively will likely require changing your browsing habits, so be aware of this.

3. Consider using a private and secure social network like Pidder. This is a private social network that uses encrypted communication and offers the ability to remain anonymous. If you are truly looking for ways to stay in touch with close ones in a uncompromised manner, this could be the site for you. While it will not have the userbase of Facebook, this is still an excellent alternative for secure social networking.

4. Use a firewall and a secure wireless connection. Protecting your inbound and outbound network traffic is essential. There are many free software options available for this. I cannot guarantee the integrity of these programs, but I personally recommend Little Snitch for Mac users. It appears that Outpost may be a good alternative for Windows. The key is to be able to see what services/sites are trying to send/receive data over your connection. The more stringent your firewall rules are, the better. Keep your computer clean by using some kind of anti-spam/spyware software and minimize your use of highly sketchy sites.

5. Delete your cookies regularly and log out of Facebook when you are not actively using it. Almost everytime you visit a site, you download a cookie from that site, which is often used to track and collect data about you, the sites you visit, etc. Therefore, deleting cookies and temporary internet files from your browser frequently is necessary. I recommend CCleaner as an effective way to do this. Most people leave a Facebook tab open and continue browsing, not realizing that every page that has a “Like” button actively logs and tracks their online activity. Facebook collects all your browsing data and then sells it to third parties, including passing it onto intelligence agencies. Therefore, when you are not actively using Facebook, be sure to log out! Why should they know everything you’re up to online?

6. Cover up or disconnect your webcam when you are not using it. Did you know that your webcam can be secretly activated without you being aware of it? Hackers and intelligence agencies have the ability to do this, so effective countermeasures must be taken here. This can be done WITHOUT the indicator light coming on, so you won’t even know that you are being watched or recorded. This is why I recommend taping over or covering up your webcam when you’re not using it. Why take the risk? Do you really want the government to have the ability to spy on you while you are in your bedroom? The same thing can be done on cellphone cameras/microphones, so be aware of that too. The only way your phone cannot be used to track/record you is if the battery is taken out, which is another reason why many new smartphones come with non-removable batteries these days.

7. Learn to use secure email services like HushMail or encrypted email. Communicating using email is vital and part of our everyday lives. If we use services like Gmail, Hotmail, or Yahoo, those services are not secure and are compromised. Therefore, switching over to a secure service such as Hushmail can be valuable. Or learn how to use Pretty Good Privacy (PGP), which is a way to send encrypted email and files that only a trusted third party can open and view. Essentially, PGP uses public-private key cryptography, where you will give out your public key to trusted recipients. Messages can only be decrypted by using your special private key file (that you keep safe) and the sender’s public key. You can even encrypt files so that only a specific person can open them. Learning to use PGP requires some technical knowledge but can be very useful for those who want to communicate securely and is well worth learning, in my opinion. Please see this tutorial or this video to get started. There are some excellent YouTube videos that can really help out with this.

Be smart about how you communicate online. If you take no precautionary measures, then you should assume that your communications are being recorded and monitored at all times. Do not discuss illegal or secret activities on Facebook or through Skype or Gmail. Ultimately, we should be greatly decreasing our use of these compromised services altogether! Be aware of what you type and consider their ramifications if ever made public. We must exercise great discretion and discernment when it comes to our online activities now. The methods listed above are by no means comprehensive and are just a small way to boost your privacy. If you have other privacy tips, please mention them here in the comments for all to see and benefit from. In the end, it is all up to the user to do their part in maintaining their online integrity. Safe browsing my friends!

Eliot Estep : - We are all divine beings of love at our core! I AM a genuine truth-seeker dedicated to living a life of joy, peace, and abundance. I value integrity, freedom, and creative self-expression above all. It is a privilege to be here during this time of great change. Let us prepare. Main areas of research: conspiracies, global affairs, extraterrestrials, spiritual advancement + Sun: ♏ + Moon: ♎ + Ascendant: ♋ +

This article was originally published at Collective Ev

May on Canada-China FIPA Trade Deal and Non-Debate

Adjournment Proceedings – Canada-China FIPA

by Elizabeth May, MP

Tuesday, June 11th, 2013 in Questions

Elizabeth May: Mr. Speaker, I rise, I suppose I should say this morning. It is still June 11 on the calendar in front of the Speaker, but we know that it is June 12, at 12:16 a.m.

I am pursuing a question that I initially asked in question period on March 21. The question relates to the Canada-China investment treaty and its quite extraordinary measures which stand in quite sharp contrast, not only to other treaties in which Canada has become involved, but other investment treaties as well. On March 21, I contrasted some of the provisions of the treaty that had been tabled in the House in February with the small African nation of Benin. For this treaty, we have very low levels of trade compared to the $7 billion with the People’s Republic of China.

I want to highlight one of the aspects of the Benin treaty versus the Canada-China investment treaty tonight. It is very difficult to get a proper debate on this issue. As you know, Mr. Speaker, we have not have had a proper debate on the Canada-China investment treaty, although it stands poised for ratification by the cabinet alone.

I should pause to thank the Hupacasath First Nation, near Port Alberni on Vancouver Island, for having the courage to take the matter to court. For three days of the last week, they were in court in Vancouver. We all await the decision of the judge in that matter, adjudicating as to whether first nations’ rights have been violated. No first nations across Canada, whether treaty nations or otherwise, were consulted before the treaty was signed between the current Prime Minister and President Hu of China.

The specific matter I want to concentrate on in the remaining two and a half minutes that I have is the question of exit provisions. The first investment treaty in which Canada became involved was NAFTA, chapter 11, which allows exit by Canada, the U.S. or Mexico on 6 months’ notice. The provisions of the treaty with Benin, to which I referred on March 21, are certainly much longer than that. There is a one-year notice period, and after one year’s notice, any existing investments between Canada and Benin are protected for a further 15 years under the terms of the treaty which Canada and Benin at that point would have exited.

The extraordinary thing about the treaty with the People’s Republic of China is that there is not six months as under NAFTA, or 16 years as under the treaty with Benin, which is bad enough; under the treaty with the People’s Republic of China, Canada is bound for the first 15 years before notice can be given, followed by one year’s written notice and then a further 15 years in which any investments made by the People’s Republic of China are protected.

In other words, once ratified, this treaty will bind any Canadian government in the future for 31 years from the point at which the treaty is ratified. It is quite extraordinary.

I want to comment on a common misconception. Because the current Prime Minister has seen fit to withdraw Canada from a number of treaties, namely the Kyoto protocol and the convention on drought desertification, it has created some sense in the land that a future prime minister can just rip up a treaty.

Let us be clear. The current Prime Minister executed withdrawal from Kyoto under the terms of the Kyoto protocol. One year’s written notice was required. Canada exited the treaty on drought desertification on the terms of that convention. A notice of 90 days was required.

The Canada-China investment treaty would bind any future prime minister and government for 31 years. There is no way out, and if Canada were to unilaterally leave the treaty, it would be subject to damages and damage claims in 100 countries around the world.

In other words, the only way to stop this convention is to prevent ratification.

Shelly Glover: Mr. Speaker, although I have tremendous respect for that member of Parliament and know she works hard and whatnot, I am quite surprised at the lack of knowledge the member has on some of the information regarding this exact treaty. Let me take a moment to refresh my colleague’s memory about why Canada is involved in this specific treaty.

Our government understands the importance of trade to our economy. It represents one out of every five jobs in Canada and accounts for 62% of our country’s GDP. That is why our government moves forward with ambitious pro-trade plans. They are really the most vigorous in our country’s history.

Our plan is to open new markets for Canadian exporters. That includes in the fastest-growing Asia-Pacific region. The opportunities for Canadian exporters in the Asia-Pacific are absolutely phenomenal. Countries in the region include those with economic growth rates of two to three times the global average.

However, before I speak further about the opportunities for Canada in the Asia-Pacific, and particularly with Canada’s second-largest export destination, China, I would like to comment on a reference the member opposite made in her original question to our FIPA with Benin.

The FIPA with Benin is just one example of our government’s engagement in Africa. In fact, in addition to Benin, Canada has concluded FIPA negotiations with Cameroon, Zambia, Madagascar, Mali, Senegal and Tanzania. These investment treaties will strengthen economic ties between Canada and these partner countries and help Canadian companies invest with greater confidence in these markets. At the same time, facilitating two-way investment helps generate jobs, growth and long-term prosperity that we all hope for in Canada.

Our government is proud of the steps we have taken to strengthen ties with our partners in Africa, but we help Canadian exporters and investors capture new opportunities in other fast growing markets around the world, including in Asia.

An important part of our commercial relationship is ensuring that not only two-way trade occurs, but also investment between Canada and other countries can take place in a stable and secure manner. That is why Canada has over 24 foreign investment promotion and protection agreements with key trade and investment partners, including with China, the world’s second largest economy and now Canada’s second largest export destination. This is only second to the United States of America.

Canada’s trade relationship with China continues to grow. In fact, Canadian goods exports to China rose 15% last year, to over $19 billion. Not only that, but Canada’s exports to China have nearly doubled under our Conservative government.

This is a favourable agreement that lends to create the opportunities that Canadian exporters need. It also provides opportunities in China, so Canadians can be present on the ground. That will lead to growth, economic prosperity and job creation.

Along with this trade agreement, there are many other good things to come. I sincerely hope the member opposite will give a second look to the agreement, because there are some wonderful opportunities for Canadians. I hope she will side with us in allowing us to provide those opportunities as have been indicated.

6 is 9 Israel Says Palestinian "Settlers" Should Move to Jordan

“The Palestinian Future is In Jordan”: Israeli deputy Defense Minister

by IMEMC & Agencies

Israeli TV, Channel 1, aired an interview with Israeli deputy Defense Minister, Member of Knesset (MK) Danny Danon, who said that there will never be a Palestinian State, and that the Palestinians are "settlers", should be part of Jordan.

During the interview, Danon said that “the Public should not be misled”, as Israel would never allow the establishment of a Palestinian state, whether the United States sends envoys or not, whether it presents initiatives or not.

When asked if Israel would “annex” the West Bank, Dannon said that Israel will not do so, but will continue its settlements activities “on vacant lands in the West Bank”, and will act on to turning the Palestinian areas into “settlements”.

“Jews in the West Bank aren’t settlers anymore, they are citizens of the state of Israel”, the Israeli official said, “Israel will turn the Palestinians into settlers under Jordanian authority, and this is that…”

He further stated that several Israeli members of Knesset agree with his opinions despite the fact they do not go public about them.

Talking to Channel 1, deputy Knesset spokesperson Dr. Ahmad Tibi, leader of Ta'al Party, stated that the statements of Dannon are very serious and dangerous.

“Dannon is the most ‘truthful extremist’ in the Israeli government of Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu”, Tibi said, “Unlike other officials, he does not hide the dangerous intentions and plans of the Israeli government; he does now hide his extremist ideology”.

Dr. Tibi added that many Israeli government ministers and officials, including Netanyahu himself, agree with the opinions of Dannon, and are deliberately placing obstacles in front of U.S Secretary of State, John Kerry, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, and any official or government that tries to restart peace talks.

Furthermore, Knesset Member, Ofer Shelah, of Yesh Atid (There Is Future) party, stated that “Israel is becoming the new South Africa”, the Maan News Agency have reported.

“What Dannon is saying is similar to what white settlers used to say in South Africa” Shelah stated, “Jewish settlements in the West Bank are a major obstacle to any peace agreement, the Israeli occupation corrupts the Israeli society”.

This article was originally published at IMEMC

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Erdogan's "Or Else" to Taksim Square Occupation

PM Erdogan orders end to protests in "24 hours"


Protesters are met with new wave of police brutality, as thousands of lawyers join demonstrations.

Clayoquot Sound Fish Farm Debate Heats Up

Don Staniford et al Debate Mainstream Canada Company Manager June, 2013

by Don Staniford

Don Staniford et al ended up debating with a Co. manager when they went to send a message to Norwegian Fish-farming companies that they do not want them operating in Clayoquot Sound's pristine waters.

Clark's Fracked Plans for BC's Energy Future

Site C Dam, LNG a Bad Deal for British Columbians

by Rafe Mair - The

I want to clarify my position on the proposed Site C Dam: I AM AGAINST IT.

One of the troubles in this business is that one comments on many aspects of the environment and can have a word or two or a line taken out of context - as happened with a column of mine last week, in which I referred to newly elected Premier Clark's resolve to push forward with the dam to power shale gas operations.

Here are my thoughts on Site C.

We do not need the power, nor will we in the foreseeable future. In a blog sometime many years back, I answered the question, “Isn’t Site C better than so-called 'run-of-river' projects?" My answer was if that’s the choice we face, I suppose I would have to agree. Except it’s a false premise, since we don’t need either. That was, I believe, about 2008.

Now I would leave no doubt. These are two separate issues. I am unalterably opposed to so-called “run-of-river” because they not only destroy our precious rivers, they are - if they haven’t already - bankrupting BC Hydro.

Let’s then look at Site C. They say this will cost $8 billion – using the usual margin of error on such matters, we can safely assume it will be at least 25% higher, say $10 billion.

At any price the project would wipe out a large and very important amount of farmland and wildlife habitat.

Premier Clark has already designated the power for Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) - which is enormously energy intensive - and it is here we descend into the world of madness. Premier Clark says that LNG will eliminate our debt of $57 Billion. Well, for starters, the real number is $171 Billion, or $40,000 per man, woman and child!

This will also give us a “Prosperity Fund” of over $100 Billion.


At this point we have no firm customers for one cubic meter of LNG and none on the horizon! Of course companies will say they are going to recover all this natural gas, ship it to Prince Rupert and sell it to China and Japan. I repeat – there isn’t a single firm contract in place and my bet is there never will be.

We’re in an entirely new world from a few years ago. A process called “fracking” lets one drill vertically into shale rock up to a kilometre or more then horizontally to capture fossil fuels trapped between the layers of shale. They do this with huge quantities of water laced with chemicals.

Leaving aside, for the moment, the question of markets and refineries, I’m sure you’ve picked up a couple of important environmental questions. What does this process do to the fragility of the nearby landscape?

Does it provoke earthquakes?

And, what about the water? It takes huge amounts – where does it come from and where, after it’s become so toxic, does it go?

The fracking and LNG processes use large quantities of power – this is where Site C comes in. We would sacrifice all that land in order to make power to be sold at bargain rates to gas companies. We, the people of BC, would make power, sell it at a discount to a company that would use that power to make more energy, to which more energy would be applied so as to transfer it to an LNG plant in Prince Rupert, where energy would be used again to make more energy to be shipped and sold!

Whom the gods wish to destroy, they first make mad.

Now let’s look at the markets.

The world is awash in natural gas. While fracking isn’t new, it’s come into vogue over the past few years. No one yet knows how much is available but there are huge deposits in Asia, especially Russia and China. Premier Clark would have us use public money to gamble on BC gas being lapped up in Asia, when, all signs say, they have ample of their own and the higher prices they currently pay are likely to vanish by the time we get our gas to market. Don't take my word for it - this is according to top business publications like Bloomberg, which wrote in January,

"The difference between U.S. and Asian gas is poised to drop by more than 60 percent by 2020, leaving exporters facing a loss of as much as $6 million per tanker, according to calculations by Bloomberg based on data from Rice University in Houston."

Moreover, if Asia does need gas, Australia is already in the position to supply it. In fact, the immense amounts of public money spent on this is a huge scandal in Australia which, it seems, Premier Clark wants us to join.

Let there be no doubt – I and my colleagues at the Common Sense Canadian stand firmly against Site C, no matter what those who would ravage our environment, much including the governments, would have us believe.

To Site C, the answer is NO.

Rafe Mair was a B.C. MLA 1975 to 1981, Minister of Environment from late 1978 through 1979. Since 1981 he has been a radio talk show host, and is recognized as one of B.C.'s pre-eminent journalists.

Trailing Obama's Dirty Wars

The Drone Ranger: Obama's Dirty Wars

by Greg Palast - Vice Magazine

Around the time Barack Obama ordered the drone strike that killed Abdul-Rahman al-Awlaki, the 16-year-old American kid Facebooked his second-rate choice of hip-hop favourites. I say “second-rate” because Abdul was my son’s age, almost exactly, so I know the kind of crap they listen to.

Every Tuesday, President Obama personally checks off the names of people he wants killed. George Bush, a bit more squeamish than Obama, never did that; but Mr Obama felt those decisions were the president’s responsibility: he "want[s] to keep his own finger on the trigger”, according to one report. A tidy, scheduled man, the President only picks his victims once a week, now called “Terror Tuesday”.

On October the 14th, 2011, Abdul went out with his cousins and friends for a good old US-style barbecue, when Obama’s drone fired a rocket, blowing the teenager to pieces. Or I should say “piece”. All that was left of Abdul was a piece of skull with long curly hair that allowed his relatives to identify this hunk of his head by his US-style haircut.

Trailer, Richard Rowley's 'Dirty Wars'

Obama didn’t order the killings (Abdul’s friends and cousins died, too) as a random act of crazy. No-Drama Obama doesn’t believe in random. Abdul’s problem was that his father was Anwar al-Awlaki. Obama killed Abdul’s dad as well. Daddy al-Awlaki, an American imam who voted for George Bush, had gone over to the side of the bad guys. And, after leaving the USA, broadcast pro-terrorism radio reports from Arabia.

We can argue until the cows come home about whether Daddy al-Awlaki was a legitimate kill target. It is, after all, right there in the US Constitution that the penalty for treason is death. I suppose that, before executing him, a jury trial would have been nice. But nice was not going to happen. So, OK, Barack, we’ll let that one go.

But what about the 16-year-old? Obama didn’t even pretend that the kid was a terrorist, or a terrorist in-the-making, nor adopting in any way his father’s crazed kill-Americans crusade.

What could justify execution of Abdul? When asked, then-White House press spokesman, Robert Gibbs, said, “I would suggest that you should have a far more responsible father.”

I guess he should have.

Obama’s minions tried to cover up the hit on the teenagers. Attorney General Eric Holder informed Congress of the killings by writing that US drones had blown up Anwar al-Awlaki, the crazy cleric, and three other Americans who “were not specifically targeted”.

Holder’s comment makes it seem that Awlaki’s son was blown up with him – a sad case of "collateral damage".

But are you ready for this? The teenager – along with his cousin and friends – was killed two weeks after and hundreds of miles away from the site where rockets killed his father.

Obama’s Seal Team Sick

I was straightened out on the facts by Richard Rowley, America’s most courageous investigative reporter. Rowley filmed, directed and edited the brilliant, horrific and brilliantly horrific documentary Dirty Wars, previewing this week in the US.

The film centres on Rowley’s reporting partner, the indefatigable Jeremy Scahill, whom Rowley follows from the scene of a massacre at a wedding party in Afghanistan to an interview with a warlord in Mogadishu (while under sniper fire).

You might know Rowley as Ricardo, the pathologically calm cameraman portrayed in my book Vultures’ Picnic. In Iraq, Rowley covered the US Army assault on Fallujah “embedded” with the assaulted, the insurgents. That was insane. Insane but brilliant. (Our producer at the BBC warned Ricardo that he was one lucky cat, but he’d already used up seven of his nine lives.)

In Dirty Wars, Rowley and Scahill reveal that drones are just one toy in our Presidents’ murderous toy-chest. And the kill list is far larger than even a smart dude like Obama can tick off on a Tuesday. Scahill calculates that the targeted kills in Afghanistan and Pakistan now total more than 17,000!

Drones can’t kill them all. In 2009, a US cruise missile hit al Majala, a remote village of Bedouins in Yemen, killing a dozen herdsmen and three babies. Yemen’s President Ali Abdullah Saleh took responsibility, proudly, for killing supposed “terrorists”.

However, a courageous Yemeni reporter, Abdulelah Haider Shaye, visited the site, photographed the remains of the US missile – and was promptly jailed.

The US is particularly shy about taking credit for the cruise missile kills, as it boosted al-Qaeda’s recruitment drive in Yemen.

Rowley and Scahill are the only US reporters to have gone to the Bedouin village and filmed the missile casing; cold evidence confirming the US had entered a war without any legal declaration – indeed, in complete secrecy.

Scahill also revealed that, while Yemen’s President Saleh was nervous about keeping the reporter imprisoned, Saleh withdrew his pardon at the personal request of Barack Obama. Obama wanted the journalist not just silenced, but punished.

WikiLeaks: Cleaning up Dirty Wars?

I was curious: Did Scahill and Rowley make use of WikiLeaks?

“WikiLeaks was absolutely indispensible,” Rowley told me – a treasure trove of State Department confessions confirming what they found on the ground. It was through WikiLeaks that they discovered that President Saleh joked with US operatives about lying to his Congress about the US missile attack on al Majala.

And it was in WikiLeaks that Scahill found that the warlord Indha Adde – AKA “White Eyes” – was on the USA’s payroll. I should say, General White Eyes – a rank he gave himself in the Somali Army by pinning three stars on his jacket. Where did the US military find this cutthroat? Previously, the WikiLeaks cables revealed, the US knew he was the protector of the al-Qaeda bombers who blew up the US Embassy in Nairobi.

Rowley captures the warlord/general on camera saying, “The USA is the master in war” – quite a compliment from a natural born killer like White Eyes.

And General “Eyes” is quite right. Obama’s secret war has now spread to 75 nations. It’s all under the command of General William H McRaven.

The US press is in love with McRaven, lauded as the man who planned the raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound. But there’s not one single US network or paper that would report on Scahill’s discovery that McRaven was also the guy who planned the night raid on the Afghan wedding party that killed the bride, the groom and the groom’s mother.

Maybe that was some horrible mistake. But McRaven’s crew, called “The American Taliban” by Afghans, made sure that no one would finger the US: Rowley and Scahill obtained a secretly recorded video of McRaven’s commandos slicing the bullets out of the bride’s and groom’s bodies to prevent their killers’ identification.

McRaven’s semi-private army, the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), is warring in our name in 75 nations – nations he won’t name and Obama will arrest you for naming. Not even Orwell could have dreamed up that one.

I asked about the value of WikiLeaks to Rowley and Scahill because of the ongoing trial of Pvt Bradley Manning and the impending capture of Edward Snowden, the contractor willing to blow away his career and freedom to let you know that nice Mr Obama has been spying on you.

A rabbi from Nazareth once said, “The truth shall set you free.” And that’s exactly what Obama is afraid of: faced with the truths revealed in Dirty Wars, they know most Americans would cut themselves free of McRaven’s Seal Team Sick.

I am convinced the hit on al-Awlaki’s son was meant to teach a lesson; If you want to be a martyr, we’ll make your son and your mum and daughter martyrs, too.

Such terror-for-terror can be, I’ll admit, quite effective. During the Ronald Reagan years, that gutless faux-cowboy President sent weapons to Ayatollah Khomeini in return for the release of hostages taken by Hezbollah. The Russians got their hostages home another way. The USSR didn’t accept an arms-for-hostage deal. Rather, the KGB systematically assassinated the hostage-takers’ cousins, mothers and brothers one by one – until Hezbollah released all the Russian hostages.

By rocketing the children of those we fear, we are indeed teaching them a lesson. But what are they learning?

Next year, Malia Obama turns 16. I hope we never hear that harm has come to Malia while some chuckling spokesman for al-Qaeda says, “She should have had a far more responsible father.”

Greg Palast’s films with Richard “Ricardo” Rowley for BBC Television and Democracy Now! are available on the DVD, “Palast Investigates: From 8-Mile to the Amazon – On the Trail of Financial Marauders.” This week, you can download it here without charge from the Palast Investigative Fund.

If you're in Canada or the States, click here to locate showings of Dirty Wars near you. And click here for Ricardo’s story in Vultures’ Picnic.

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Greg Palast is a New York Times bestselling author and fearless investigative journalist whose reports appear on BBC Newsnight and in The Guardian. Palast eats the rich and spits them out. Catch his reports and films at, where you can also securely send him your documents marked, "confidential".