Saturday, October 05, 2013

Canadian Government Announces Citizens Held without Charge and Tortured by Egyptian Junta to Be Freed

Statement by Minister of State Yelich on Two Canadians Detained in Egypt

by Government of Canada

October 5, 2013 - The Honourable Lynne Yelich, Minister of State (Foreign Affairs and Consular), today issued the following statement:
“Canada welcomes the decision to release Tarek Loubani and John Greyson.
“I look forward to Dr. Loubani and Mr. Greyson being reunited with their families and friends, who have shown tremendous strength during this difficult time.

“Minister Baird and I were in contact with senior Egyptian officials on numerous occasions concerning this case, and the Embassy of Canada to Egypt worked tirelessly to secure their release.

“We are facilitating Dr. Loubani and Mr. Greyson's departure from Egypt, and Canadian officials will continue to offer consular services to them and their families as needed.

“I wish to express our appreciation to the Egyptian authorities for providing consistent consular access.”

- 30 -

For further information, media representatives may contact:

Adria Minsky
Director of Communications
Office of the Minister of State (Foreign Affairs and Consular)

Media Relations Office
Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada
Follow us on Twitter: @DFATDCanada

Generational Determination to Save the Free World

The Work of a Generation

by Edward Snowden - Common Dreams

NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden's words were entered as testimony at the European Parliament's Civil Liberties Committee in Brussels on Monday.

Jesselyn Radack of the US Government Accountability Project (GAP) and a former whistleblower and ethics adviser to the US Department of Justice, read Snowden's statement into the record.

Ms. Radack came to prominence after she revealed that the FBI had committed what she said was a breach of ethics in its interrogation of John Walker Lindh, who was captured during the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 and dubbed the “American Taliban.”

* * *

Edward SnowdenI thank the European Parliament and the LIBE Committee for taking up the challenge of mass surveillance. The surveillance of whole populations, rather than individuals, threatens to be the greatest human rights challenge of our time. The success of economies in developed nations relies increasingly on their creative output, and if that success is to continue, we must remember that creativity is the product of curiosity, which in turn is the product of privacy.

A culture of secrecy has denied our societies the opportunity to determine the appropriate balance between the human right of privacy and the governmental interest in investigation. These are not decisions that should be made for a people, but only by the people after full, informed, and fearless debate. Yet public debate is not possible without public knowledge, and in my country, the cost for one in my position of returning public knowledge to public hands has been persecution and exile. If we are to enjoy such debates in the future, we cannot rely upon individual sacrifice. We must create better channels for people of conscience to inform not only trusted agents of government, but independent representatives of the public outside of government.

When I began my work, it was with the sole intention of making possible the debate we see occurring here in this body and in many other bodies around the world. Today we see legislative bodies forming new committees, calling for investigations, and proposing new solutions for modern problems. We see emboldened courts that are no longer afraid to consider critical questions of national security. We see brave executives remembering that if a public is prevented from knowing how they are being governed, the necessary result is that they are no longer self-governing. And we see the public reclaiming an equal seat at the table of government. The work of a generation is beginning here, with your hearings, and you have the full measure of my gratitude and support.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License 

Whistleblower Edward Joseph Snowden is a US former technical contractor for the National Security Agency (NSA) and Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) employee who leaked details of top-secret US and British government mass surveillance programs to the press.

Maude Barlow and Blue Future Tour Hits Victoria Sunday

Victoria: "Blue Future" Book Tour: Protecting water for people and the planet forever

by CoC

  Sunday, October 6, 2013 - 2:00pm

Burnside Gorge Community Centre, 
Activity Centre, 471 Cecelia Road

Meet Maude Barlow and hear her speak about the fight to protect our most precious resource.

Blue Future is a powerful, penetrating, and timely look at the global water crisis — and what we can do to prevent it.

The final installment in Barlow’s Blue trilogy, Blue Future includes inspiring stories of struggle and resistance from marginalized communities, as well as examples of government policies that work for people and the planet. A call to action to create a water-secure world, it is, in the end, a book of hope.

 Read more »

Copies of Blue Future will be available for purchase, and Maude will be signing books after her presentation.

American Government Values Highlighted by Shut Down

Government Shutdown Spares Military but Hurts Children and the Poor


Rania Khalek: Government shutdown means halting social services while maintaining NSA spying, deportations and continuing drone strikes in Afghanistan.

Rania Khalek is an independent journalist reporting on the underclass and marginalized. Her work has appeared at The Nation, Extra, Salon, Truthout, Al Jazeera America and more. For more of her work, check out her website, Dispatches from the Underclass and follow her on twitter @RaniaKhalek. 

Friday, October 04, 2013

Nation/Base Djibouti: America's East Africa Beachhead

Total Militarized Lunacy

by Andre Vltchek - CounterPunch

Imagine a small country, the size of Massachusetts, with no arable land, irrigation, or permanent crops, nor any forests. The rocky desert is everywhere, falling all the way to the sea.

To ‘cheer one up’, there is the lowest point on land, in Africa (and the third lowest on earth); an eerie crater lake called ‘Lac Assal’ (−155 m). And there are countless rock formations, bare, hostile, and frightening.

This tiny country has one of the most strategic locations on earth, at least from the West’s geopolitical interest’s point of view. It lies between Somalia, Ethiopia and what is often called the ‘African Cuba’ – defiant Eritrea. Just 12 miles across the narrowest point of the Red Sea, spreads the Arabian Peninsula, and the country of Yemen.

The capital city of Djibouti is also called Djibouti. That is where two thirds of the population lives. But in reality, this entire area, around the capital, is one huge sprawl of Western military bases, as well as countless facilities servicing them.

There are barracks built for French legionnaires, there is a French naval base, a US military base, and an enormous military airport for Western and allied air-forces, used by the countries that are as distant from Africa, as Japan and Singapore.

In the meantime, garbage dots the desert, from the border with Somaliland, to the center of the city. The omnipresent Western military presence seems to have almost no positive impact on the country; Djibouti has one of the lowest HDI (UNDP Human Development Index) in the world, 151th out of the 178 countries surveyed. More than half of the population is unemployed and about half is illiterate. The average life expectancy in Djibouti is 43 years of age.

It is a brutal, militarized world, it is aggressive and definitely not at peace with itself. A small Muslim country, with approximately one million inhabitants, has for years basically made a living from being some sort of a service station for foreign legions and regular combat troops. Its only claim to fame is that it allows foreigners to control the Red Sea; that it is at the doorsteps of Somalia and Yemen, helping to keep pressure on Eritrea, and keeping an eye on Ethiopia.

Technically, Djibouti gained independence from France in 1977, but practically it is still fully under the French and Western sphere of influence.

According to the U.S. Department of State report of 21 August 2013:

Djibouti is located at a strategic point in the Horn of Africa, and is a key U.S. partner on security, regional stability, and humanitarian efforts in the greater Horn. The Djiboutian Government has been supportive of U.S. interests and takes a proactive position against terrorism. Djibouti hosts a U.S. military presence at Camp Lemonnier, a former French Foreign Legion base in the capital. Djibouti has also allowed the U.S. military, as well as other militaries with presences in Djibouti, access to its port facilities and airport.

Djibouti is the place where miserable human-pulled carts can be seen right next to decaying vehicles and military equipment, right in the middle of the desert. It is the place where at the Sheraton Hotel, I observed the breakfast room being full of uniformed German troops, and military cooks serving them food.

It is a country with one of the highest infant mortality rates in the world, where many women still go through the horror of genital mutilation. Our kind of place! A good ally; a good client state!

As I was leaving the country, with the Kenyan Airways aircraft waiting on the tarmac, my passport and boarding card were checked on several occasions. Before the gate it all became ridiculous: as two staffers, one in uniform, one in civilian clothing, were performing surveillance only one meter apart from each other.

“Any more of this down the road?” I asked sarcastically.

A soldier, almost 2 meters tall, immediately jumped on me. He threw me and my camera against a concrete wall, and smashed the lens, all in full view of the other passengers, and the Kenyan crew. I tried to fight back.

“Stop and just walk to the plane… Let it be… Or he is going to kill you”, whispered a plain-clothed man. I had no idea who he was, but he most probably saved my life.

There is no place on Earth like Djibouti. Thanks god there really isn’t!

Do not cross his path copy.

Beach games.

Still life in the Djibuti desert.


Loyada – border with Somaliland.

In the middle of Djibuti desert.

Foreign master guarding his airport.

Andre Vltchek is a novelist, filmmaker and investigative journalist. He covered wars and conflicts in dozens of countries. His discussion with Noam Chomsky On Western Terrorism is now going to print. His critically acclaimed political novel Point of No Return is now re-edited and available. Oceania is his book on Western imperialism in South Pacific. His provocative book about post-Suharto Indonesia and market-fundamentalist model is called “Indonesia – The Archipelago of Fear”. He just completed feature documentary “Rwanda Gambit” about Rwandan history and the plunder of DR Congo. After living for many years in Latin America and Oceania, Vltchek presently resides and works in East Asia and Africa. He can be reached through his website or his Twitter.

Canadian Doctor and University Prof Still Held in Disgusting Conditions by Egyptian Junta

Canadians Imprisoned in Egypt Indefinitely After Filming Military Brutality


Upon their arrest, Tarek Loubani and John Greyson reported being beaten and abused, while the military says they could face murder charges.

Justin Podur is an author and Associate Professor at York University's Faculty of Environmental Studies, and one of the organizers in the campaign to free Tarik and John Justin. Podur is the author of Haiti's New Dictatorship (Pluto Press 2012) and has contributed chapters to Empire's Ally: Canada and the War in Afghanistan (University of Toronto Press 2013) and Real Utopia (AK Press 2008).

Thursday, October 03, 2013

The Great Healthcare Rip Off: Creating a Second IRS

Obamacare Is Another Private Sector Rip-Off Of Americans: The private sector allied with government is a second IRS

by Paul Craig Roberts

The government of the “world’s only superpower,” the “exceptional,” the “indispensable” country, claims to know what is best for Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Yemen, Pakistan, Somalia, Mali, Russia, Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador, Brazil, China, indeed for the entire world. However, the “indispensable” country cannot even govern itself, much less the world over which the “superpower” desires hegemony. The government of the “world’s only superpower” has shut itself down.

The government has shut itself down, because it cannot deal with the budget deficit and mounting public debt caused by twelve years of wars, by financial deregulation that allows “banks too big to fail” to loot the taxpayers, and by the loss of jobs, GDP, and tax base that jobs offshoring forced by Wall Street caused.

The Republicans are using the fight over the limit on new public debt to block Obamacare. The Republicans are right to oppose Obamacare, but they are opposing Obamacare largely for ideological reasons when there are very good sound reasons to oppose Obamacare.

Last February 3, I posted on this website a column, “Obamacare: A Deception,” written by an expert on the subject.

When Republicans for ideological reasons blocked a single-payer health system like the rest of the developed world has and, indeed, even some developing countries have, the Obama regime, needing a victory, went to the insurance companies and told them to come up with a health care plan that the insurance lobby could get passed by Congress. Obamacare was written by the private insurance industry with the goal of raising its profits with 50 million mandated new customers.

Obamacare works for the insurance companies, but not for the uninsured. The cost of using Obamacare is prohibitive for those who most need the health coverage. The cost of the premiums net of the government subsidy is large. It amounts to a substantial pay cut for people struggling to pay their bills. In addition to the premium cost, it is prohibitive for hard pressed Americans to use the policies because of the deductibles and co-pays. For the very poor, who are thrown into Medicaid systems, any assets they might have, such as a home, are subject to confiscation to cover their Medicaid bills. The only people other than the insurance companies who benefit from Obamacare are the down and out who are devoid of all assets.

This might prove to be a growing percentage of Americans. On September 19 the New York Times on the front page of the business section reported what I have reported for years: that real median family incomes in the US are where they were a quarter of a century ago. In other words, in a quarter of a century there has been no income growth for the median American family.

In 2013 payroll employment is below where it was six years ago. During 2013 most of the new jobs, barely sufficient to stay even with population growth and insufficient to recover the job loss from the recession, have been part-time jobs that do not provide any discretionary income with which to drive a consumer economy.

Obamacare has resulted in the health insurance companies, who thought that they would be living in high profits from the mandated health coverage, being outsmarted by employers, who have reduced their full-time workers to part-time in order to avoid Omamacare’s requirement to provide health coverage to those employees who work 30 hours a week or more.

Employers can get away with this, because jobs are hard to find. The lack of employment opportunities results in Americans with engineering degrees working as retail sales clerks and as shelf stockers in Walmart and Home Depot. Despite the abundance of unemployed and under-employed American technical and engineering workers, the large corporations lobby Congress for more H-1B visas to bring in lowly paid foreigners with the argument that there is a shortage of qualified Americans for technical work.

As I have pointed out so many times, if there were a shortage of engineering and technical workers, salaries would be rising, not falling.

For millions of employees, Obamacare means cut hours and less take home pay plus out-of-pocket expenses to purchase an Obamacare health policy. For most people covered by Obamacare, this is a lose-lose situation.

It is also a lose-loss situation for the vast majority of the young. Most young people, unless they have jobs that provide health coverage, do without it, because the chances of the young having heart attacks, cancer, and other serious health problems is low.

Obamacare, however, requires the healthy young to pay premiums for coverage or to pay a penalty to the IRS.

In my day this might not have been a problem. However, today there are few jobs for the young that pay enough to have an independent existence. The monthly payroll jobs reports do not show well-paying jobs. The Labor Department’s projections of future jobs are not jobs that pay well. For the youth, it seems that the penalty is less than the premium, so youthful penalties paid out of waitress and bartender tips will subsidize the unusable Obamacare health policies for the poor adults who are not thrown into Medicaid, which confiscates their assets, if any.

Obamacare benefits only two classes of people. It benefits employers who drop their employees working hours below the hours specified for Obamacare coverage, and it benefits the insurance companies or the IRS who collect the premiums and penalties.

Many of the people who pay the premiums won’t be able to use the policies because of co-pays and deductions.

The very poor with no assets might receive health care if they reside in states that accept the Medicaid provisions of Obamacare.

In 21st century America, the few people who have experienced income gains are the executives and shareholders of firms who offshored their production for US markets, Wall Street which makes bets covered by the Federal Reserve, and the military-security complex which has been enriched by the neoconservatives’ wars.

Every other American has lost.

Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy and associate editor of the Wall Street Journal. He was columnist for Business Week, Scripps Howard News Service, and Creators Syndicate. He has had many university appointments. His internet columns have attracted a worldwide following. His latest book, The Failure of Laissez Faire Capitalism and Economic Dissolution of the West is now available.

Energy Alternatives Off the Table in America

Standing in the Sunshine, The Answer is Blowin’ in the Wind

by Walter Brasch  - Wanderings

Tokelau, an independent territory of New Zealand, is a small three island archipelago of about 1,400 residents about 300 miles north of American Samoa in the South Pacific. In October 2012, the Polynesian nation turned off the last of its diesel generators and became the first country to use solar power as its only energy source.

“We know that the longer the fossil fuel industry gets its way, the worse climate change will be, and the more sea-level rise will threaten our islands,” wrote Mikalele Maiava, one of its residents.

About 9,300 miles west of Tokelau is Saudi Arabia. Beneath its sands is an estimated 262.6 billion barrels of oil, the largest reserve in the word. But Saudi Arabia isn’t counting on oil as its sole form of energy. Within the next two decades, Saudi Arabia plans to have 41,000 megawatts of solar energy, enough to generate about one-third of the nation’s electricity. Nuclear, wind, and geo-thermal energy will provide an additional 21,000 megawatts, according to Khalid al-Suliman, vice-president of Renewable Energy at King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy. The project is expected to cost about $109 billion, and save about 523,000 barrels of oil a day.

On Saudi Arabia’s northern border is the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Beneath its sands is the world’s seventh largest oil reserve. About 75 miles south of Abu Dhabi, its capital, is the world’s largest solar power plant. The 285,000 parabolic mirrors generate about 100 megawatts of energy, enough to meet the energy needs of 20,000 homes. The solar power plant reduces carbon dioxide emissions by about 175,000 tons a year. The UAE is planning to build additional solar plants.

India, a world leader in wind-generated power, is likely to develop what will become the world’s largest solar energy system. The first phase, being developed on a 23,000 acre site, is expected to be completed by 2016, and will provide about one gigawatt of power. The 30-year plan will allow India to provide one-eighth of its energy needs, through solar power.

Two-thirds of the world’s increase in solar energy in 2011 was in Europe; a two mile section of track between Paris and Amsterdam allows trains to run entirely on solar power; Germany’s solar energy plants produced as much power as 20 nuclear power plants.

Denmark, with the addition of 3.6 megawatts of offshore wind turbines early this year, has more than a gigawatt of wind energy, providing about one-fourth of all power to its citizens. Denmark plans to increase wind power capacity to provide about one-half of all domestic energy needs within the decade.

By the end of 2012, there were 1,662 off-shore wind turbines, generating enough electricity to power 10 million homes in 10 European countries, according to the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA). The EWEA believes that within a decade, off-shore wind turbines could provide electricity to about 39 million homes if countries continued to push for wind energy and rely less upon fossil fuel energy. With political and economic support, according to an EWEA analysis, “The energy produced from turbines in deep waters in the North Sea alone could meet the EU’s electricity consumption four times over.” It would also mean phasing out more than $4 billion in annual taxpayer subsidies to the oil and gas industry.

The U.S. Department of Energy suggests, “Renewable electricity generation from technologies that are commercially available today, in combination with a more flexible electric system, is more than adequate to supply 80% of total U.S. electricity generation in 2050.”

A significant increase of non-fossil fuel energy would produce a cleaner fuel source, reduce workplace accidents and significantly reduce the well-documented health and environmental effects of fossil fuel energy; it would also increase employment, one of the basic reasons why politicians say they like natural gas drilling.

There is some evidence that Americans are beginning to understand the need to abandon fossil fuel energy and prepare for a world of renewable energy.

Lancaster, Calif., a city of about 160,000 in Los Angeles County, was the first American city to require all new houses to produce a minimum of one kilowatt of solar energy, beginning Jan. 1, 2014.

Wind turbines already provide about one-fifth of all power in Iowa and South Dakota.

About three-fourths of Americans want to see more development of solar and wind energy, according to a Gallup poll conducted in March. So, who doesn’t want to see renewable energy replace fossil fuel dependence?

Conservatives and Republicans tend not to want to reduce fossil fuel energy and develop more renewable energy, according to Gallup. The Gallup poll reveals that 78 percent of Republicans want to see more of an emphasis upon fracking and natural gas as a primary energy source.

That’s probably because conservatives don’t like change. It scares them. They understand coal, oil, and gas. They don’t accept solar, wind, and geothermal energy.

But, most of all, most investors in fossil fuel energy—and that includes the frack-at-any-cost Pennsylvania legislature and its governor—have received campaign funds or are heavily invested in fossil fuel energy.

If the oil-rich countries are developing solar, wind, and other forms of renewable energy, maybe they know a lot more about the future. After all, there aren’t any more dinosaurs who are willing to sacrifice their lives so that lobbyists can influence politicians.

[Dr. Brasch’s latest book is Fracking Pennsylvania, an analysis of the effects of fracking upon health the environment. He also looks at the trail of money from the gas industry to politicians, and the claims of economic benefits from fracking.]

Walter M. Brasch, Ph.D.
Latest Books: Before the First Snow: Stories from the Revolution
Fracking Pennsylvania: Flirting With Disaster

Getting a Handle on B.C.'s Fracking Policy

BC LNG: The Real Story

by Damien Gillis -

British Columbians have been hearing a lot of glowing rhetoric from their political leaders about the economic promise of building a new liquefied natural gas (LNG) industry. We’ve heard that our gas – which is fast running out of steam in the North American market – will be transformed into a $100 billion “prosperity” fund for our provincial treasury, all by cooling and exporting it to new markets in Asia.

The extraordinary claims being levied by the BC Liberals have gone largely unquestioned in the mainstream media – which is why, all this week, The Common Sense Canadian will be drilling down on the government’s policy.

For starters, I will be speaking in six different northwest BC communities, alongside local organizations like Skeena Watershed Conservation Coalition, Douglas Channel Watch and

Through these events – highlights of which will be taped and posted to The Common Sense Canadian - along with a series of articles and videos in these pages, we’ll be examining the entire BC LNG plan. From the fracking in northeast BC and Alberta that would need to be dramatically ramped up to feed these coastal plants, to the four-plus major, new pipelines that would cross BC’s wilderness and communities to pump the gas to Kitimat and Prince Rupert, to the plants themselves, to the world’s largest tankers that would carry the liquefied gas to Asia.

We’ll discuss the taxpayer subsidies that would fund the the world’s richest companies – from royalty breaks to infrastructure, to the $10 Billion proposed Site C Dam, whose power is only required for the enormously energy-intensive LNG cooling process.

We’ll expose the truth about the BC Liberals’ claims that this gas will somehow constitute “clean energy” – when it is in fact one of the world’s dirtiest and least efficient energy sources. We’ll examine the massive increase to BC’s greenhouse gases that would arise from this process – potentially upping the province’s total carbon footprint by several fold.

We’ll look at the tens of billions of litres of fresh water that would need to be drained each year from northeast BC’s rivers and lakes and shot full of unknown, toxic chemicals for fracking.

Finally, we’ll examine the economic realities of a program that promises to be the biggest boondoggle in the province’s history – marshalling the best available evidence from around the world, rather than the wishful thinking of Natural Gas Development Minister Rich Coleman and his government.

In short, we will present the other side of the BC LNG fairytale being concocted by BC’s political leaders and media. And we’ll look at some sustainable economic alternatives that could provide a real, healthy future for the people and environment of BC.

If you’re in one of the communities in northwest BC that will be directly affected by these proposed pipelines, LNG plants and terminals, I invite you to join us for one of these presentations – to learn more about the consequences for the health of your community, environment, and economic future (click each link for more details).
Smithers: Sept. 30 – 7pm
Moricetown: Oct. 1 – noon
Old Hazelton: Oct. 1 – 7pm
Terrace: Oct. 2 – 7 pm
Prince Rupert: Oct. 3 – 7 pm
Kitimat: Oct. 4 – 7 pm

And stay tuned to exclusive coverage and analysis from The Common Sense Canadian and our team of expert commentators. Together, we’ll get to the bottom of this BC LNG and fracking pipe dream.

The Two Faces of the TPP: Not Trade But a Corporate Coup

Presenting the Trans-Pacific Partnership to the Public

by Joe Hueglin

We are informed, Prime Minister Harper "will be using his Malaysia and Bali visits to talk up the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a fledgling trade pact among 12 Pacific Rim countries that is still being negotiated.".

When Canada was allowed to participate last year it was stated the Harper Government sees “Joining the TPP is good news for hard-working Canadian families. Opening new markets and increasing Canadian exports to fast-growing markets throughout the Asia-Pacific region is a key part of our government’s plan to create jobs, growth and long-term prosperity"

Leaked information regarding negotiations, whose terms are unseen by all save corporate advisors, indicate "Only five of the 29 chapters contain provisions related to trade. The other chapters consist of provisions related to patent protections, investor state rights and finance deregulation, among others."

Not good news to hard working families but rather the picture that is painted is that "The Trans-Pacific Partnership Is a Corporate Coup in Disguise" in terms of Food Safety, Fracking, Jobs, Drug Prices, Internet Freedom, and Public Services.

Parliament being prorogued, the Prime Minister talking it up on his trip, and debate over pipelines and Senators' screw ups becoming somewhat stale, provide the ideal opportunity for making Canadians aware of what is in the process of being arrived at and its implications for them.

Indeed one aspect 'twould seem has already become newsworthy - providing the opening for others to be developed, n'est ce pas?

"We've Never Seen Anything Like it Before"

­Internet freedom. Corporations hoping to lock up and monopolize the Internet failed in Congress last year to pass their repressive "Stop Online Piracy Act." However, they've slipped SOPA's most pernicious provisions into TPP. The deal would also transform Internet service providers into a private, Big Brother police force, empowered to monitor our "user activity," arbitrarily take down our content and cut off our access to the Internet. To top that off, consumers could be assessed mandatory fines for something as benign as sending your mom a recipe you got off of a paid site.


­Food safety. Any of our government's food safety regulations (on pesticide levels, bacterial contamination, fecal exposure, toxic additives, etc.) and food labeling laws (organic, country-of-origin, animal-welfare approved, GMO-free, etc.) that are stricter than "international standards" could be ruled as "illegal trade barriers." Our government would then have to revise our consumer protections to comply with weaker standards.

­Fracking. Our Department of Energy would lose its authority to regulate exports of natural gas to any TPP nation. This would create an explosion of the destructive fracking process across our land, for both foreign and U.S. corporations could export fracked gas from America to member nations without any DOE review of the environmental and economic impacts on local communities ­ or on our national interests.

­Jobs. US corporations would get special foreign-investor protections to limit the cost and risk of relocating their factories to low-wage nations that sign onto this agreement. So, an American corporation thinking about moving a factory would know it is guaranteed a sweetheart deal if it moves operations to a TPP nation like Vietnam. This would be an incentive for corporate chieftains to export more of our middle-class jobs.

­Drug prices. Big Pharma would be given more years of monopoly pricing on each of their patents and be empowered to block distribution of cheaper generic drugs. Besides artificially keeping everyone's prices high, this would be a death sentence to many people suffering from cancer, HIV, AIDS, tuberculosis and other treatable diseases in impoverished lands.

­Banksters. Wall Street and the financial giants in other TPP countries would make out like bandits. The deal explicitly prohibits transaction taxes (such as the proposed Robin Hood Tax here) that would shut down speculators who have repeatedly triggered financial crises and economic crashes around the world. It restricts "firewall" reforms that separate consumer banking from risky investment banking. It could roll back reforms that governments adopted to fix the extreme bank-deregulation regimen that caused Wall Street's 2007 crash. And it provides an escape from national rules that would limit the size of "too-big-to-fail" behemoths.

­Public services. TPP rules would limit how governments regulate such public services as utilities, transportation and education ­ including restricting policies meant to ensure broad or universal access to those essential needs. One insidious rule says that member countries must open their service sectors to private competitors, which would allow the corporate provider to cherry-pick the profitable customers and sink the public service.

Lori Wallach, director of Global Trade Watch, correctly calls the Trans-Pacific Partnership "a corporate coup d'etat." Nations that join must conform their laws and rules to TPP's strictures, effectively supplanting U.S. sovereignty and canceling our people's right to be self-governing. Worse, it creates virtually permanent corporate rule over us.

Is it impossible to stop? Nope. There is also a broad, well-organized and politically experienced coalition of grassroots groups, which has stopped other deals and will do it again. We the people can protect our democratic rights from this threat of corporate usurpation. Check out

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Hunger Striking Canadians Held Without Charge, Abused by Egyptian Junta Release Statement

Canadian Filmmaker and Doctor Imprisoned in Egypt Without Charges, Abused After Witnessing Massacre

by Democracy Now!

Two Canadian citizens — acclaimed Toronto filmmaker John Greyson and medical doctor Tarek Loubani — have been jailed for more than a month and a half in Egypt without charge after witnessing a massacre by state forces on August 16 in Cairo. The two were traveling through Egypt en route to visit Gaza, where Greyson was to film Loubani as he trained emergency room doctors.

In a statement smuggled out of their prison cell, Greyson and Loubani say they were arrested after rushing to the scene of a mass shooting of supporters of ousted President Mohamed Morsi. Greyson says he began filming the shooting’s aftermath while Loubani treated some of the injured.

"We were arrested, searched, caged, questioned, interrogated, videotaped with a 'Syrian terrorist,' slapped, beaten, ridiculed, hot-boxed, refused phone calls, stripped, shaved bald, accused of being foreign mercenaries," they wrote. 

The two have been been held in cockroach-infested jail cells with as many as 36 other people. Over the weekend, Egyptian authorities confirmed their imprisonment has been extended another 45 days, still without charge. Greyson and Loubani have been on a hunger strike for the past two weeks against their imprisonment.

We’re joined by three guests: Cecilia Greyson, the sister of John Greyson; Naomi Klein, the prominent Canadian journalist and author; and Sharif Abdel Kouddous, independent journalist and Democracy Now! correspondent based in Cairo. Klein criticizes the Canadian government for a lackluster response to Greyson and Loubani’s imprisonment.

"We haven’t heard our government say these men are innocent. They were doing their jobs. They must be released right now," Klein says. "That’s what we’re waiting for. We’re also waiting to hear that if they continue to be ignored and disregarded by the Egyptian government, which has been what’s happened so far, that there will be real consequences."

Ignorant, Primitive, and Cruel Yes, But Was Clayton Stoner's Grizzly Destruction Illegal Too?

NHLer's B.C. Grizzly Kill Offside?

by Chris Genovali - Raincoast Conservation Foundation

Raincoast Conservation Foundation has asked the B.C. Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, the entity responsible for managing the trophy hunting of bears in the province, to investigate the killing of a grizzly on the central coast by National Hockey League player Clayton Stoner.

Stoner kills for fun, makes no excuses.

As a result, the BC Conservation Officer Service is investigating Stoner's trophy killing of the grizzly bear in question.

There is widespread concern regarding the circumstances surrounding this particular hunt, including uncertainty as to whether Stoner is technically a B.C. resident. If he is not, then he shouldn't have been issued a B.C. Resident Hunter Number card nor should he have been allowed to enter the Limited Entry Hunt (LEH) lottery to kill a grizzly.

As the ministry website states, "Participation in the LEH draw is available to any resident of B.C. who legally possesses a B.C. Resident Hunter Number." To obtain a B.C. Resident Hunter Number and Resident Hunter Number card an individual must provide evidence that he is a resident. The legal definition of a B.C. resident is a person who "is a Canadian citizen or a permanent resident of Canada, whose only or primary residence is in British Columbia, and has been physically present in British Columbia for the greater portion of each of six calendar months out of the 12 calendar months immediately preceding the date of making an application under this Act or doing another thing relevant to the operation of this Act."

Stoner plays for the Minnesota Wild, a U.S.-based team in the NHL. As such, he is required to live and work in Minnesota the majority of the year. The NHL regular season runs from October through mid-April. That doesn't count time spent at training camp prior to the regular season or potential participation in the playoffs. Given the length of the NHL season and the fact Stoner plays for a U.S. based team (and has played for U.S. based teams in the NHL, AHL and WHL since 2002), it would seem implausible that he could have been physically present in B.C. for the time required to qualify as a resident.

The investigation by the province raises several troubling questions. Big picture, this event could very well end up calling into question the integrity of the LEH, as well as the B.C. government's ability to monitor the hunt and enforce their own regulations.

The Conservation Officer Service office in Bella Coola has been closed and moved to Williams Lake. Bella Coola is the only central coast community accessible by road and is the community nearest to where the grizzly bear was killed. "It's fortunate that First Nations research technicians were there to observe and record this incident. Stoner's party, or any hunters conducting potentially illegal activities, would be more likely to encounter aliens from another planet than a Conservation Officer in these remote coastal areas," said Brian Falconer, guide outfitting coordinator for Raincoast.

In the 2002 Raincoast report "Losing Ground: The decline in fish and wildlife law enforcement capability in B.C. and Alaska," author and wildlife scientist Dr. Brian Horejsi concluded the following:

Wildlife populations and biological diversity are endangered by chronic underfunding and marginalization of wildlife conservation-oriented enforcement programs in British Columbia and, to a lesser degree, in Alaska. This period of measurable political disinterest and low and declining priority now approaches 20 years in duration. There is little evidence available to the British Columbia or Alaska public to indicate that current enforcement capabilities are sufficient to provide effective compliance with fish and wildlife regulations, a problem being aggravated by escalating and uncoordinated land use activities. In every capability measure examined, capability today is significantly lower than it has been previously. Enforcement and protection staff are presently unable to effect widespread and long-lasting changes in resource user behavior in either Alaska or B.C. While fish and wildlife protection capability in Alaska has slipped...the evidence indicates that B.C. has now crossed the threshold at which protection of fish and wildlife populations and their habitat by enforcement services has effectively and materially been abandoned.

We stand with Coastal First Nations in their call to end the trophy hunting of bears in B.C.'s Great Bear Rainforest. Coastal grizzly bears, in particular, face numerous threats to their survival, including habitat loss and a declining supply of salmon; the additive pressure from trophy hunting exists throughout much of the Great Bear Rainforest, even in many legislated protected areas. This is more than just a "management" issue. It's also an ethical issue. Bottom line, killing these magnificent animals for recreation and entertainment is a barbaric and anachronistic practice that should be ended on the coast of British Columbia.

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Speaking to the Wild: Prominent Naturalists Gather at Upper Clearwater Valley

Speak to the Wild – A Gathering of Wisdom

by Ray Grigg - Shades of Green

A powerful and urgent calling attracted about sixty prominent naturalists, ecologists, conservationists, biologists, philosophers, sociologists, poets, novelists and academics from across Canada and the United States to gather in the Upper Clearwater Valley about 125 km north of Kamloops, BC, for an event called Speak to the Wild. Although supported and hosted by Thompson Rivers University, the invitation officially came from Trevor Goward, a naturalist and internationally known lichenologist who lives in the remote valley that intrudes into one of BC's oldest and largest provincial parks, Wells Gray.

Goward's reputation as a profound and respected thinker of comprehensive depth and breadth was a factor in attracting so many guests of such diversity, insight, scholarship and wisdom to the valley's rustic accommodations, to its log community hall, and to Edgewood Blue, the home he has built for over 20 years — now intended as a naturalist's learning centre. Goward's passion and conviction as a conservationist also helped to lure so many people of such quality and accomplishment to readings, commentary, reflection, appreciation, discussion and sharing for five long and intensive September days. But they also came because of their love and concern for wilderness, for everything in our individual and collective psyche that is rooted in the formative power of the few and dwindling places that still remain wild.

Wilderness, of course, is what remains of the world in its most pure and authentic condition. It comprises the ancestral source from which each one of us came, the original and living pulse of nature before we disturbed it with the destructive meddling so characteristic of our industrial and technological compulsions. Wilderness, then, is who we are at our deepest and most elemental level. If we are to ever know ourselves as individuals and societies, if we are ever to find our essential identity as human beings, if we are ever to survive our terrible ingenuity and learn to live in sustainable accord with nature's implacable terms, then we must do so by understanding and acquiescing to the wisdom inherent in wilderness. Such rare and endangered places are the culmination of a biological intelligence that has somehow managed to evolve a diversity of unimaginable complexity into a system of exquisite balance and harmony. Wilderness, then, should be preserved as an untouched miracle of design, as a wise mentor deserving nothing less than our awe.

Perhaps this awe was the unspoken lure that brought together so many people of such stature. Some of the finest and most discerning thinkers of our age gathered within the embrace of high mountains to remind us that we are a civilization heading toward serious environmental trouble. All were conscious of the intrinsic and essential wisdom inherent in wilderness. And all were profoundly concerned about the ecological deterioration that is systematically obliterating the natural fabric of our supporting ecologies. This, too, explains why they came to Speak to the Wild. Driven by such awareness and powered by the worry of unrelenting loss, they came to speak on behalf of wilderness, to listen carefully to each other, to ponder the poignant rush of waterfalls, and then to briefly immerse themselves in nature's grand and silent wisdom.

The first objective of Speak to the Wild was to protect wilderness by beginning the long and arduous process of instituting a land ethic into the legal structure of Canada — of 193 countries, Canada is one of only 12 that does not have constitutional laws guaranteeing a right to a healthy environment. A secondary objective was to save from extinction Wells Gray's mountain caribou, an indicator species that charts the balanced health of ecologies. The intent of these objectives was to eventually protect wilderness and nature from the destructive urges of an economic and political system that seems to lack the understanding and imagination to know that it is methodically and obliviously defeating itself. So the ultimate objective of Speak to the Wild was to save ourselves from ourselves.

The precarious condition of wilderness is just one symbol of our tenuous existence on a planet whose complex ecologies we are unravelling with numb enthusiasm. Just as we cannot disregard the wisdom of the wild while dismembering and unbalancing the integrity of ecosystems, we cannot exist separately from nature without destroying ourselves. We would be dead in body without the critical services provided by the wild places we consider unused and useless. As they are creating the conditions we need for our survival, so, too, are they enlivening our experiences with the rich wonders of their inventive ingenuity. Indeed, we would be dead in soul without the mysterious beauty provided by wilderness.

An awareness and appreciation of these treasured gifts was the subtext that brought together such a diverse selection of sensitive and sophisticated people from such a varied range of talents and disciplines. Because they all felt the crucial importance of wilderness in their lives, and because they all felt the encroaching threat of its loss, they all bonded together in common cause. Their gathering was instigated by the fundamental awareness that we are losing wilderness, and in the process we are losing ourselves.

Those who attended Speak to the Wild were not airy and disconnected dreamers. Rather, they were all living with an intensity of grounded insight which was wholly anchored in the real world. They were invariably practical and earthy people so profoundly immersed in the mystery of being alive on a planet of extraordinary natural wonders that they seemed qualified to speak for all humanity — a humanity that is sadly and tragically losing its ecologies, its security, its direction, its roots, its meaning and eventually itself. Speak to the Wild was a call back to sanity.

Between the Boot and the Ground: Egyptian Cruelty Finds a Palestinian Focus

Gaza: Crushed between Israel and Egypt

by Jonathan Cook - ICH

The furore over the recent chemical weapons attack in Syria has overshadowed disturbing events to the south. Palestinians in Gaza find themselves caught in the middle of a growing row between their Hamas rulers and the new Egyptian military regime.

Hamas has become increasingly isolated, politically and geographically, since the Egyptian army helped oust the Muslim Brotherhood government in early July.

Since the military intervention, much of the Brotherhood’s leadership has been jailed and last week its activities were outlawed and its assets frozen. Inevitably Hamas, which has close ties to the Brotherhood, has also come under severe suspicion from Egypt’s generals.

The Egyptian army blames Hamas for the rise of militant Islamic groups in the Sinai, many drawn from disgruntled local Bedouin tribes, which have been attacking soldiers, government institutions and shipping through the Suez Canal. According to the army, a third of the Islamists it has killed in operations originated from Gaza.

At a recent army press conference, several Palestinians confessed to smuggling arms from Gaza into Sinai. An Egyptian commander, Ahmed Mohammed Ali, also accused Hamas of “working on targeting the Egyptian army through ambushes”. Additionally, the Egyptian media blamed Hamas for a car bombing in Cairo this month which nearly claimed the life of the new interior minister, Mohammed Ibrahim.

Lurking in the shadows is the army’s fear that, should the suppressed Muslim Brotherhood turn to terrorism, its most useful ally will be a strong Hamas. The result has been a growing crackdown on the Palestinian Islamic movement that has also harmed the lives of ordinary Palestinians.

The Egyptian army has intensified the blockade along Egypt’s single short border with Gaza. Over the past weeks, the army has destroyed hundreds of tunnels through which Palestinians smuggle fuel and other necessities in short supply because of Israel’s siege. Egypt has established a “buffer zone”, as Israel did inside Gaza a decade ago when it was still occupying the enclave directly, to prevent more tunnels being dug.

That has plunged Gaza’s population into hardship and dealt a severe blow to the tax revenues Hamas raises on the tunnel trade. Unemployment is rocketing and severe fuel shortages mean even longer power cuts.

Similarly, Gaza’s border crossing with Egypt at Rafah – the only access to the outside for most students, medical patients and business people – is now rarely opened.

And the Egyptian navy has been enforcing tight limits on Palestinian boats fishing off Gaza’s coast, in a zone already tightly delimited by Israel. Boats have come under fire and crews been arrested for coming too close to Egypt’s territorial waters.

Palestinians’ fears about the future were encapsulated in a recent newspaper cartoon showing Gaza squeezed between pincers – one arm Israel, the other Egypt.

Hamas is short of regional allies. Its leader Khaled Meshal fled his Syrian base early in the civil war, alienating Iran in the process. Other regional supporters are also keeping their distance.

Hamas fears mounting discontent in Gaza, and particularly a demonstration planned for November modelled on this summer’s mass protests in Egypt that helped to bring down the Egyptian president, Mohammed Morsi, and the Muslim Brotherhood.

Hamas’ political rival, Fatah – and the Palestinian Authority (PA), based in the West Bank – are reported to be behind the new protest movement.

The prolonged efforts by Fatah and Hamas to strike a unity deal are now a distant memory. Late last month, the PA announced it would be taking “painful decisions” towards Hamas, assumed to be a reference to declaring it a “rogue entity” and thereby cutting off funding.

The PA sees in Hamas’ isolation and its own renewed ties to the Egyptian leadership a chance to take back Gaza.

As ever, Israel is far from an innocent bystander.

After the unsettling period of the Brotherhood rule, the Egyptian and Israeli armies have restored security cooperation. According to media reports, Israel even lobbied Washington following the July coup to ensure Egypt continued to receive generous US aid handouts – as with Israel, mostly in the form of military assistance.

Israel has turned a blind eye to Egypt pouring troops, as well as tanks and helicopters, into Sinai in breach of the 1979 peace treaty. Israel would rather Egypt mop up the Islamist threat on their shared doorstep.

The destruction of the tunnels, meanwhile, has sealed off the main conduit by which Hamas armed itself.

Israel is also delighted to see Fatah and Hamas sapping their energies in manoeuvring against each other. Political unity would have strengthened the Palestinians’ case with the international community; divided, they can be easily played off against the other.

That cynical game is in full swing. A week ago, Israel agreed for the first time in six years to allow building materials into Gaza for private construction, and to let in more fuel. A newly approved pipe will double the water supply to Gaza.

These measures are designed to bolster the PA’s image in Gaza, as payback for returning to negotiations, and undermine support for Hamas.

With Egypt joining the blockade, Israel now has much firmer control over what goes in and out, allowing it to punish Hamas while improving its image abroad by being generous with “humanitarian” items for the wider population.

Gaza is dependent again on Israel’s good favour. But even Israeli analysts admit the situation is far from stable. Sooner or later, something must give. And Hamas may not be the only ones caught in the storm.

Jonathan Cook is an independent journalist based in Nazareth

Back from Gaza: Kevin Neish Home Safe

I'm Home

by Kevin Neish

Just a very quick rough note to let anyone listening know, that I returned home to Victoria last Friday afternoon. When I’m in a better frame of mind I’ll see about writing a bit more about my final experiences.

I had already been turned away at the Rafah crossing on Sept 8th, along with a bus full of Palestinians, some of whom had already been turned away 4 times or more. It was a bus full of sick folks trying to get critical treatment in Egypt or abroad, students trying to get to scholarships in distant countries, business people trying to get back to their now failing companies abroad and others in similar crucial situations, all just trying to temporarily leave Gaza. When we were turned away, after waiting for 5 hours, there was not a word of protest or complaint, just a dignified and orderly return to the bus and Gaza.

When I did get through to Egypt on Friday, it entailed the usual humiliating treatment by Egyptian authorities. Being herded like cattle, pushed, shoved and yelled at. Hours of waiting in an over crowded filthy customs hall. Passports are returned, by being flung across the room at you. At one point, a soldier intently looked at my passport and then at me, and then handed it back, to the wrong person. But everyone just patiently and quietly waited for the Egyptian “yay or nay”.

A well educated Palestinian women, heading to a prestigious scholarship in Europe, for her own safety asked to travel in our private “foreigner” taxi from Rafah to Cairo. She was safer, but even so, she was constantly insulted by soldiers and police at the 7 or so check point stops we had to get through. For 7 hours she quietly endured outrageous sexual come ons, insults, ethnic put downs and having her suitcase repeatedly emptied out onto the ground by uniformed thugs, using all the authority an M-16 could give them. To be a Palestinian in Egypt, is now seemingly against the law.

Being white and male, I received better treatment, but being Canadian may now offer little added protection, as John Greyson and Tarek Loubani will testify to from their Cairo prison cell. I have no doubt that Mr. Harper, and his pro-Israel Canadian government, are happy to see them stay in prison due to their pro-Palestinian beliefs. Stateless Canadians, due to their political beliefs.

Needless to say, I have no photographs for you of the burned out check points, scorched military buildings, rows of howitzers, tanks and APCs and dozens of fortified gun emplacements across the Sinai.

When I left Gaza, the situation was getting even more desperate, then even the “standard” horrendous situation I had been witnessing for the last 3 months. Little or no gas, diesel, propane, food, electricity, medicines, work or hope. This new cooperative double blockade, from Israel and Egypt, means the only available border Gaza has, the Mediterranean Sea, is even more important then ever. We need to support any ship, coming or going to Gaza, and break this illegal and immoral blockade, before more people needlessly suffer and die.

If Gazans are offered no hope or assistance, and Israel continues to blatantly break the Nov. 2012 ceasefire agreement, then the Palestinians may strike out in desperation and anger with their rockets.

And then the Western media will ask “why are the Palestinians angry?”


Snowden Doc Outlines Pentagon's Global Cyber Attacks

US Cyber Command: Documents Reveal Pentagon Launching Covert Cyber Attacks

by Tom Burghardt - Antifascist Calling…

In 2008, the Armed Forces Journal published a prescient piece by Colonel Charles W. Williamson III, a staff judge advocate with the Air Force Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Agency at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas, the National Security Agency listening post focused on intercepting communications from Latin America, the Middle East and Europe.

Titled "Carpet bombing in cyberspace," Col. Williamson wrote that "America needs a network that can project power by building an robot network (botnet) that can direct such massive amounts of traffic to target computers that they can no longer communicate and become no more useful to our adversaries than hunks of metal and plastic. America needs the ability to carpet bomb in cyberspace to create the deterrent we lack."

While Williamson's treatise was fanciful (a DDoS attack can't bring down an opponent's military forces, or for that matter a society's infrastructure), he had hit upon a theme which Air Force researchers had been working towards since the 1980s: the development of software-based weapons that can be "fired" at an adversary, potentially as lethal as a bomb dropped from 30,000 feet.

Two years later, evidence emerged that US and Israeli code warriors did something far more damaging.

Rather than deploying an "" botnet against Iran's civilian nuclear infrastructure at Natanz, they unleashed a destructive digital worm, Stuxnet. In the largest and most sophisticated attack to date, more than 1,000 centrifuges were sent spinning out of control, "no more useful" to Iranian physicists "than hunks of metal and plastic."

A line had been crossed, and by the time security experts sorted things out, they learned that Stuxnet and its cousins, Duqu, Flame and Gauss, were the most complex pieces of malware ever designed, the opening salvo in the cyberwar that has long-guided the fevered dreams of Pentagon planners.

'Plan X'

Today, that destructive capability exists under the umbrella of US Cyber Command (USCYBERCOM), one which has the potential of holding the world hostage.

Last year the Pentagon allocated $80 million dollars to defense giant Lockheed Martin for ongoing work on the National Cyber Range (NCR), a top secret facility that designs and tests attack tools for the government.

Under terms of the five year contract, Lockheed Martin and niche malware developers have completed work on a test-bed housed in a "specially architected sensitive compartmented information facility with appropriate security protocols" that "emulates the public internet and other networks, and provides for the modeling of cyber attacks."

Originally developed by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the Pentagon's geek squad, NCR has gone live and was transitioned last year to the Office of the Secretary of Defense, federal contracts uncovered by NextGov revealed.

As Antifascist Calling reported back in 2009, "NCR will potentially serve as a new and improved means to bring America's rivals to their knees. Imagine the capacity for death and destruction implicit in a tool that can . . . cause an adversary's chemical plant to suddenly release methyl isocynate (the Bhopal effect) on a sleeping city, or a nuclear power plant to go supercritical, releasing tens of billions of curies of radioactive death into the atmosphere?"

NextGov also reported that the "Pentagon is seeking technology to coordinate and bolster cyberattack capabilities through a funding experiment called 'Plan X,' contract documents indicate."

A notice from DARPA's Information Innovation Office (I2O) informs us that "Plan X is a foundational cyberwarfare program to develop platforms for the Department of Defense to plan for, conduct, and assess cyberwarfare in a manner similar to kinetic warfare. Towards this end the program will bridge cyber communities of interest from academe, to the defense industrial base, to the commercial tech industry, to user-experience experts." (emphasis added)

Although DARPA claims "Plan X will not develop cyber offensive technologies or effects," the program's Broad Agency Announcement, DARPA-BAA-13-02: Foundational Cyberwarfare (Plan X), explicitly states: "Plan X will conduct novel research into the nature of cyberwarfare and support development of fundamental strategies needed to dominate the cyber battlespace. Proposed research should investigate innovative approaches that enable revolutionary advances in science, devices, or systems."

The document also gives notice that DARPA will build "an end-to-end system that enables the military to understand, plan, and manage cyberwarfare in real-time" as an "open platform architecture for integration with government and industry technologies."

The Military & Aerospace Electronics web site reported that DARPA has "chosen six companies so far to define ways of understanding, planning, and managing military cyber warfare operations in real-time, large-scale, and dynamic networks."

Collectively worth some $74 million, beneficiaries of taxpayer largesse include "Data Tactics Corp. in McLean, Va.; Intific Inc. in Peckville Pa.; Raytheon SI Government Solutions in Arlington, Va.; Aptima Inc. in Woburn Mass.; Apogee Research LLC in McLean, Va.; and the Northrop Grumman Corp. Information Systems segment in McLean, Va."

Additional confirmation of US government plans to militarize the internet were revealed in top secret documents provided by former NSA contractor-turned-whistleblower Edward Snowden. Those documents show that the Pentagon's goal of "dominating cyberspace" are one step closer to reality; a nightmare for privacy rights and global peace.

Such capabilities, long suspected by security experts in the wake of Stuxnet, are useful not only for blanket domestic surveillance and political espionage but can also reveal the deepest secrets held by commercial rivals or geostrategic opponents, opening them up to covert cyber attacks which will kill civilians if and when the US decides that critical infrastructure should be been switched off.

Before a cyber attack attack can be launched however, US military specialists must have the means to tunnel through or around security features built into commercial software sold to the public, corporations and other governments.

Such efforts would be all the easier if military specialists held the keys that could open the most secure electronic locks guarding global communications. According to Snowden, NSA, along with their corporate partners and private military contractors embarked on a multiyear, multibillion dollar project to defeat encryption through the subversion of the secure coding process.

Media reports published by Bloomberg Businessweek, The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post, also revealed that US intelligence agencies are employing "elite teams of hackers" and have sparked "a new arms race" for cyberweapons where the "most enticing targets in this war are civilian--electrical grids, food distribution systems, any essential infrastructure that runs on computers," Businessweek noted.

Confirming earlier reporting, The Washington Post disclosed that the US government "carried out 231 offensive cyber-operations in 2011, the leading edge of a clandestine campaign that embraces the Internet as a theater of spying, sabotage and war, according to top-secret documents" provided by Snowden to the Post.

Since its 2009 stand-up as a "subordinate unified command" under US Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM), whose brief includes space operations (military satellites), information warfare (white, gray and black propaganda), missile defense, global command and control, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR), as well as global strike and strategic deterrence (America's first-strike nuclear arsenal), Cyber Command has grown from 900 personnel to a force that will soon expand to more than "4,900 troops and civilians," The Washington Post reported earlier this year.

Under the USSTRATCOM umbrella, the organization is comprised of "Army Cyber Command (ARCYBER); Air Forces Cyber (AFCYBER); Fleet Cyber Command (FLTCYBERCOM); and Marine Forces Cyber Command (MARFORCYBER)."

"The Command," according to a 2009 Defense Department Fact Sheet, "is also standing up dedicated Cyber Mission Teams" that "conduct full spectrum military cyberspace operations in order to enable actions in all domains, ensure US/Allied freedom of action in cyberspace and deny the same to our adversaries."

The Defense Department Memorandum authorizing it's launch specified that the Command "must be capable of synchronizing warfighting effects across the global security environment as well as providing support to civil authorities and international partners."

In written testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee during 2010 confirmation hearings, NSA head General Keith Alexander agreed, and The New York Times reported that Cyber Command's target list would "include civilian institutions and municipal infrastructure that are essential to state sovereignty and stability, including power grids, banks and financial networks, transportation and telecommunications."

But what various "newspapers of record" still fail to report is that the deliberate targeting of civilian infrastructure are war crimes that cause catastrophic loss of life and incalculable suffering, as US attacks on the former Yugoslavia, Iraq and more recently, Libya, starkly demonstrate.

In a portrait of Alexander published earlier this summer by Wired, James Bamford noted that for years the US military has "been developing offensive capabilities, giving it the power not just to defend the US but to assail its foes. Using so-called cyber-kinetic attacks, Alexander and his forces now have the capability to physically destroy an adversary's equipment and infrastructure, and potentially even to kill."

While the specter of a temporary "interruption of service" haunt modern cities with blackout or gridlock, a directed cyberattack focused on bringing down the entire system by inducing widespread technical malfunction would transform "the vast edifices of infrastructure" into "so much useless junk," according to urban geographer Stephen Graham.

In Cities Under Siege, Graham discussed the effects of post-Cold War US/NATO air bombing campaigns and concluded that attacks on civilian infrastructure were not accidental; in fact, such "collateral damage" was consciously designed to inflict maximum damage on civilian populations.

"The effects of urban de-electrification," Graham wrote, "are both more ghastly and more prosaic: the mass death of the young, the weak, the ill, and the old, over protracted periods of time and extended geographies, as water systems and sanitation collapse and water-borne diseases run rampant. No wonder such a strategy has been called a 'war on public health,' an assault which amounts to 'bomb now, die later'."

A further turn in US Cyber Command's brief to plan for and wage aggressive war, was telegraphed in a 2012 Defense Department Directive mandating that autonomous weapons systems and platforms be built and tested so that humans won't lose control once they're deployed.

There was one small catch, however.

According to Deputy Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter, a former member of the Board of Trustees at the spook-connected MITRE Corporation, the Directive explicitly states it "does not apply to autonomous or semi-autonomous cyberspace systems for cyberspace operations."

Presidential Policy Directive 20: Authorizing 'Cyber-Kinetic' War Crimes

We now know, based on documents provided by Edward Snowden, that President Barack Obama "has ordered his senior national security and intelligence officials to draw up a list of potential overseas targets for US cyber-attacks," according to the 18-page top secret Presidential Policy Directive 20 published by The Guardian.

Though little commented upon at the time due to the avalanche of revelations surrounding dragnet domestic surveillance carried out by NSA, in light of recent disclosures by The Washington Post on America's bloated $52.6 billion 2013 intelligence budget, PPD-20 deserves close scrutiny.

With Syria now in Washington's crosshairs, PPD-20 offers a glimpse into Executive Branch deliberations before the military is ordered to "put steel to target."

The directive averred that Offensive Cyber Effects Operations (OCEO) "can offer unique and unconventional capabilities to advance US national objectives around the world with little or no warning to the adversary or target and with potential effects ranging from subtle to severely damaging."

These are described in the document as "cyber effects," the "manipulation, disruption, denial, degradation, or destruction of computers, information or communications systems, networks, physical or virtual infrastructure controlled by computers or information systems, or information resident thereon."

To facilitate attacks, the directive gives notice that "cyber collection" will entail "Operations and related programs or activities conducted by or on behalf of the United States Government, in or through cyberspace, for the primary purpose of collecting intelligence--including information that can be used for future operations--from computers, information or communications systems, or networks with the intent to remain undetected."

Such clandestine exercises will involve "accessing a computer, information system, or network without authorization from the owner or operator of that computer, information system, or network or from a party to a communication or by exceeding authorized access."

In fact, PPD-20 authorizes US Cyber Command to "identify potential targets of national importance where OCEO can offer a favorable balance of effectiveness and risk as compared with other instruments of national power."

Indeed, the "directive pertains to cyber operations, including those that support or enable kinetic, information, or other types of operations . . . that are reasonably likely to result in 'significant consequences'" to an adversary.

We are informed that "malicious cyber activity" is comprised of "Activities, other than those authorized by or in accordance with US law, that seek to compromise or impair the confidentiality, integrity, or availability of computers, information or communications systems, networks, physical or virtual infrastructure controlled by computers or information systems, or information resident thereon."

In other words, if such activities are authorized by the President acting as Commander-in-Chief under the dubious "Unitary Executive" doctrine, like Richard Nixon, Obama now claims that "when the President does it that means that it is not illegal," a novel reading of the US Constitution and the separation of powers as it pertains to declaring and waging war!

"Military actions approved by the President and ordered by the Secretary of Defense authorize nonconsensual DCEO [Defensive Cyber Effects Operations] or OCEO, with provisions made for using existing processes to conduct appropriate interagency coordination on targets, geographic areas, levels of effect, and degrees of risk for the operations."

This has long been spelled out in US warfighting doctrine and is fully consistent with the Pentagon's goal of transforming cyberspace into an offensive military domain. In an Air Force planning document since removed from the web, theorists averred:

Cyberspace favors offensive operations. These operations will deny, degrade, disrupt, destroy, or deceive an adversary. Cyberspace offensive operations ensure friendly freedom of action in cyberspace while denying that same freedom to our adversaries. We will enhance our capabilities to conduct electronic systems attack, electromagnetic systems interdiction and attack, network attack, and infrastructure attack operations. Targets include the adversary's terrestrial, airborne, and space networks, electronic attack and network attack systems, and the adversary itself. As an adversary becomes more dependent on cyberspace, cyberspace offensive operations have the potential to produce greater effects. (Air Force Cyber Command, "Strategic Vision," no date)

Those plans were made explicit in 2008, when the Air Force Research Lab issued a Broad Agency Announcement entitled Dominant Cyber Offensive Engagement and Supporting Technology, BAA-08-04-RIKA.

Predating current research under "Plan X" to build "an end-to-end system that enables the military to understand, plan, and manage cyberwarfare in real-time," the earlier notification solicited bids from private military contractors to build cyberweapons.

We learned that the Air Force, now US Cyber Command, the superseding authority in the realm of cyberweapons development, a mandate made explicit in PPD-20, was "interested in technology to provide the capability to maintain an active presence within the adversaries information infrastructure completely undetected. Of interest are any and all techniques to enable stealth and persistence capabilities on an adversaries infrastructure."

"This could be a combination of hardware and/or software focused development efforts."

"Following this," the solicitation read, "it is desired to have the capability to stealthily exfiltrate information from any remotely-located open or closed computer information systems with the possibility to discover information with previously unknown existence."

While the United States has accused China of carrying out widespread espionage on US networks, we know from information Snowden provided the South China Morning Post, that NSA and US Cyber Command have conducted "extensive hacking of major telecommunication companies in China to access text messages"; carried out "sustained attacks on network backbones at Tsinghua University, China's premier seat of learning"; and have hacked the "computers at the Hong Kong headquarters of Pacnet, which owns one of the most extensive fibre optic submarine cable networks in the region."

China isn't the only target of US industrial espionage.

Earlier this month, O Globo disclosed that "one of the prime targets of American spies in Brazil is far away from the center of power--out at sea, deep beneath the waves. Brazilian oil. The internal computer network of Petrobras, the Brazilian oil giant partly owned by the state, has been under surveillance by the NSA, the National Security Agency of the United States."

Top secret documents mined from the Snowden cache revealed that NSA employees are trained "step-by-step how to access and spy upon private computer networks--the internal networks of companies, governments, financial institutions--networks designed precisely to protect information."

In addition to Petrobras, "other targets" included "French diplomats--with access to the private network of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of France--and the SWIFT network, the cooperative that unites over ten thousand banks in 212 countries and provides communications that enable international financial transactions. All transfers of money between banks across national borders goes through SWIFT," O Globo disclosed.

The 2008 Air Force solicitation stressed that the service was interested in "any and all techniques to enable exfiltration techniques on both fixed and mobile computing platforms are of interest. Consideration should be given to maintaining a 'low and slow' gathering paradigm in these development efforts to enable stealthy operation."

The Air Force however, was not solely interested in defense or industrial spying on commercial rivals; building offensive capabilities were viewed as a top priority. "Finally," the solicitation reads, "this BAA's objective includes the capability to provide a variety of techniques and technologies to be able to affect computer information systems through Deceive, Deny, Disrupt, Degrade, Destroy (D5) effects."

As Bloomberg Businessweek reported in 2011, recipients of that Broad Agency Announcement may have included any number of "boutique arms dealers that trade in offensive cyber weapons. Most of these are 'black' companies that camouflage their government funding and work on classified projects."

"Offensive Cyber Effects Operations" will be enhanced through the development and deployment of software-based weapons; the Obama administration's intent in PPD-20 is clear.

The US government "shall identify potential targets of national importance where OCEO can offer a favorable balance of effectiveness and risk as compared with other instruments of national power, establish and maintain OCEO capabilities integrated as appropriate with other US offensive capabilities, and execute those capabilities in a manner consistent with the provisions of this directive."

Evidence has since emerged these programs are now fully operational.

On the Attack: Economic, Political and Military 'Exploits'

Despite diplomatic posturing and much handwringing from the "humanitarian intervention" crowd, the Obama administration's itchy trigger finger is still poised above the attack Syria button.

The conservative Washington Free Beacon web site reported recently that US forces "are expected to roll out new cyber warfare capabilities during the anticipated military strike on Syria," and that the targets of "cyber attacks likely will include electronic command and control systems used by the Syrian military forces, air defense computers, and other military communications networks."

Whether or not that attack takes place, NSA and US Cyber Command are ramping-up their formidable resources and would not hesitate to use them if given the go-ahead.

This raises the question: what capabilities have already been rolled out?

"Under an extensive effort code-named GENIE, The Washington Post disclosed, "US computer specialists break into foreign networks so that they can be put under surreptitious US control."

According to top secret budget documents provided by Snowden, the Post revealed the "$652 million project has placed 'covert implants,' sophisticated malware transmitted from far away, in computers, routers and firewalls on tens of thousands of machines every year, with plans to expand those numbers into the millions."

"Of the 231 offensive operations conducted in 2011," the Post reported, "nearly three-quarters were against top-priority targets, which former officials say includes adversaries such as Iran, Russia, China and North Korea and activities such as nuclear proliferation. The document provided few other details about the operations."

As other media outlets previously reported, the Post noted that US secret state agencies "are making routine use around the world of government-built malware that differs little in function from the 'advanced persistent threats' that US officials attribute to China."

One firm featured in Bloomberg Businessweek's cyberwar exposé is Endgame Systems, which first gained notoriety as a result of the 2011 HBGary Federal hack by Anonymous.

The shadowy firm has received extensive funding from venture capitalists such as Bessemer Venture Partners, Columbia Capital, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and the intelligence-connected Paladin Capital Group.

Endgame is currently led by CEO Nathaniel Flick, previously the CEO of the "nonpartisan" Center for a New American Security (CNAS), a warmongering Washington think tank focused on "terrorism" and "irregular warfare."

Flick replaced Christopher Rouland, Endgame's founder and CEO in December 2012. A former hacker, Rouland was "turned" by the Air Force during the course of a 1990 investigation where he was suspected of breaking into Pentagon systems, Businessweek reported.

The Board of Directors is currently led by Christopher Darby, the President and CEO of the CIA's venture capital arm, In-Q-Tel. Earlier this year, the firm announced that Kenneth Minihan, a former NSA Director and managing partner at Paladin Capital had joined the Board.

According to Businessweek, Endgame specializes in militarizing zero-day exploits, software vulnerabilities which take months, or even years for vendors to patch; a valuable commodity for criminals or spooks.

"People who have seen the company pitch its technology," Businessweek averred, "say Endgame executives will bring up maps of airports, parliament buildings, and corporate offices. The executives then create a list of the computers running inside the facilities, including what software the computers run, and a menu of attacks that could work against those particular systems."

While the United States has accused the Technical Reconnaissance Bureau of China's People's Liberation Army of launching attacks and stealing economic secrets from US networks, American cyberoperations involve "what one budget document calls 'field operations' abroad, commonly with the help of CIA operatives or clandestine military forces, 'to physically place hardware implants or software modifications,'" according to The Washington Post.

"Endgame weaponry comes customized by region--the Middle East, Russia, Latin America, and China--with manuals, testing software, and 'demo instructions.'"

"There are even target packs for democratic countries in Europe and other US allies," Businessweek noted.

Readers will recall that Snowden documents have exposed how NSA has carried out widespread economic and political espionage against erstwhile "friends and allies" such as Brazil, France, Germany, India, the European Union and the United Nations.

Add to that list, Endgame exploits which are solely military in nature; in all probability these have been incorporated into NSA and US Cyber Command's repertoire of dirty tricks.

"Maui (product names tend toward alluring warm-weather locales) is a package of 25 zero-day exploits that runs clients $2.5 million a year," Businessweek reported. "The Cayman botnet-analytics package gets you access to a database of Internet addresses, organization names, and worm types for hundreds of millions of infected computers, and costs $1.5 million."

"A government or other entity could launch sophisticated attacks against just about any adversary anywhere in the world for a grand total of $6 million. Ease of use is a premium. It's cyber warfare in a box."

Sound familiar?

"An implant is coded entirely in software by an NSA group called Tailored Access Operations (TAO)," Snowden documents revealed. "As its name suggests, TAO builds attack tools that are custom-fitted to their targets," according to The Washington Post.

"The implants that TAO creates are intended to persist through software and equipment upgrades, to copy stored data, 'harvest' communications and tunnel into other connected networks" the Post disclosed.

"This year TAO is working on implants that 'can identify select voice conversations of interest within a target network and exfiltrate select cuts,' or excerpts, according to one budget document. In some cases, a single compromised device opens the door to hundreds or thousands of others."

This does much to explain why NSA's parallel, $800 million SIGINT Enabling Project stresses the importance of obtaining total global access and "full operating capacity" that can "leverage commercial capabilities to remotely deliver or receive information."

With "boutique arms dealers" and others from more traditional defense giants along for the ride, NSA and US Cyber Command hope their investment will help "shape the global network to benefit other collection accesses and allow the continuation of partnering with commercial Managed Security Service Providers and threat researchers, doing threat/vulnerability analysis."

"By the end of this year," the Post noted, "GENIE is projected to control at least 85,000 implants in strategically chosen machines around the world. That is quadruple the number--21,252--available in 2008, according to the US intelligence budget."

The agencies are now poised to expand the number of machines already compromised. "For GENIE's next phase, according to an authoritative reference document," the Post disclosed, "the NSA has brought online an automated system, code-named TURBINE, that is capable of managing 'potentially millions of implants' for intelligence gathering 'and active attack'."

It should be clear, given what we have learned from Edward Snowden and other sources, that the US government views the internet, indeed the entire planet, as a battlespace.

In congressional testimony earlier this year, General Alexander told the House Armed Services Committee that "Cyber offense requires a deep, persistent and pervasive presence on adversary networks in order to precisely deliver effects."

"We maintain that access, gain deep understanding of the adversary, and develop offensive capabilities through the advanced skills and tradecraft of our analysts, operators and developers."

With US Cyber Command fully funded and mobilized, those "offensive capabilities" are only a mouse click away.

Tom Burghardt is a researcher and activist based in the San Francisco Bay Area. In addition to publishing in Covert Action Quarterly and Global Research, an independent research and media group of writers, scholars, journalists and activists based in Montreal, he is a Contributing Editor with Cyrano's Journal Today. His articles can be read on Dissident Voice, Pacific Free Press, Uncommon Thought Journal, and the whistleblowing website WikiLeaks. He is the editor of Police State America: U.S. Military "Civil Disturbance" Planning, distributed by AK Press and has contributed to the new book from Global Research, The Global Economic Crisis: The Great Depression of the XXI Century.