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Homeland Security’s Napolitano invokes 9/11 to push for CISPA 2.0

RT | January 25, 2013

In an attempt to scare the public with a looming cyber attack on US infrastructure, US Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano is once again pushing Congress to pass legislation allowing the government to have greater control over the Internet.

Napolitano issued the warnings Thursday, claiming that inaction could result in a “cyber 9/11” attack that could knock out water, electricity and gas, causing destruction similar to that left behind by Hurricane Sandy.

Napolitano said that in order to prevent such an attack, Congress must pass legislation that gives the US government greater access to the Internet and cybersecurity information from the private sector. Such a bill, known as CISPA or Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act, was already introduced last year, but failed to pass in Congress due to concerns expressed by businesses and privacy advocates.

“We shouldn’t wait until there is a 9/11 in the cyber world. There are things we can and should be doing right now that, if not prevent, would mitigate the extent of the damage,” Napolitano said in a speech at the Wilson Center, a Washington, DC think tank.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has also been a strong advocate for increased governmental grip on the web and in October warned that the US is facing a possible “cyber-Pearl Harbor” by foreign hackers.

“A cyber attack perpetuated by nation states or violent extremist groups could be as destructive as the terrorist attack of 9/11,” he said during a speech. “Such a destructive cyber terrorist attack could paralyze the nation.”

Last September, Napolitano reiterated disappointment with Congress for failing to pass the cybersecurity legislation in August.

“Attacks are coming all the time,” she said in a speech at the Social Good Summit. “They are coming from different sources, they take different forms. But they are increasing in seriousness and sophistication.”

Despite Homeland Security’s constant warnings that hackers could shut down critical US infrastructure, the Cybersecurity Act of 2012 was shot down by the Senate in August, even though the Obama administration had pushed for the bill in numerous hearings and briefings.

Privacy advocates had expressed concern that the US government would be able to read Americans’ personal e-mails, online chat conversations, and other personal information that only private companies and servers might have access to. The head of the National Security Agency promised it wouldn’t abuse its power, but critics have remained skeptical.

A coalition of Democrats this year pledged to make this legislation a priority.

“Given all that relies on a safe and secure Internet, it is vital that we do what’s necessary to protect ourselves from hackers, cyber thieves, and terrorists,” said Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), the new chairman of the Homeland Security Committee.

The White House is also working on an executive order that would encourage companies to meet government cybersecurity standards.

January 25, 2013 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Witness: Israeli soldier killed woman ‘in cold blood’

Ma’an – 25/01/2013
Suad Jaara was shot in the hand by an Israeli soldier who killed her
friend Lubna al-Hanash near Hebron on Jan. 23. (MaanImages)

HEBRON – “I saw an Israeli soldier on the main road firing gunshots haphazardly, so I put my left hand on Lubna’s back, and grabbed her to try and run backward. A gunshot hit my hand, and I shouted as I ran.

“I thought Lubna was running behind me until I reached the security guards of Al-Arrub College who took me to a clinic in the camp before an ambulance arrived and took me to hospital.”

This, says Suad Jaara, 28, is what she witnessed Wednesday afternoon when Israeli officers near al-Arrub refugee camp shot her and her friend Lubna al-Hanash. Lubna, 22, died hours later.

Speaking to Ma’an, Jaara said Thursday that she and Lubna were walking on the campus of Al-Arrub College about 100 meters from the main road when they came under fire.

“An Israeli soldier was shooting from his rifle while a white car was parked on the roadside. There was nobody in the area except Lubna and I. He was a criminal … yes, a criminal who opened fired at us in cold blood killing Lubna and injuring me.”

Jaara’s testimony contradicts claims by the Israeli army’s chief of central command on Channel 10 Wednesday evening that the woman was trying to hurl a Molotov cocktail at an Israeli vehicle.

An army spokeswoman also told Ma’an on Wednesday that “soldiers were attacked by Palestinians who hurled multiple firebombs at them while they were traveling near al-Arrub. Soldiers returned fire and the circumstances of the incident are currently being reviewed.”

But Jaara says she and her late friend were the only ones in the area, walking around and enjoying the scenery.

“Lubna arrived two days ago to visit her sister, who is married to my brother. She had heard about Al-Arrub College and she wanted to visit it. I accompanied her to campus and she admired the area because it’s in a charming natural landscape. When we decided to leave campus, a criminal fired at us and Lubna died a martyr.”

Jaara is an employee at the Ministry of Prisoners Affairs. Her brother Jihad was a gunman in Fatah’s al-Aqsa Brigades in the Bethlehem area. He was deported to Ireland after the Nativity Church siege in 2002.

January 25, 2013 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , , | Leave a comment

Are Zionists Now Calling the Shots in the Anglican Church?

By Stuart Littlewood | Palestine Chronicle | January 24, 2013

Rowan Williams, the 104th Archbishop of Canterbury, has stepped down from his post (sigh of relief).

Williams’s role as a figure of unity in the worldwide Anglican Communion, which is represented in over 130 countries, meant that he was in a position to “bring the needs and voices of those fighting poverty, disease and the effects of conflict, to the attention of national and international policy makers and donor agencies”. Or so we were told.

In 2010, when the Archbishop announced he was planning a visit to Gaza just a year after the slaughter and devastation of Operation Cast Lead, I asked his Lambeth Palace office for more information. Whom would he meet? Would he see the health minister? Would he sit down and talk with the elected prime minister Ismail Haniyeh, man of God to man of God (for Mr Haniyeh is an imam)? Would he do Gaza (and all of us) proud by spending a generous amount of his time with senior members of the Islamic faith?

His office didn’t reply.

According to the Archbishop’s website he did none of those things. At least, he didn’t mention them if he did. Unless I’m mistaken he said nothing about Gaza in the House of Lords, where he had the ear of Parliament and the support of 25 other Church of England bishops.

Yet he began his Ecumenical letter that Easter by declaring: “Christians need to witness boldly and clearly”.

A lady wrote to me saying she had emailed Lambeth Palace 18 times asking if the Archbishop’s party could please bring back some deaf children’s art, which should have been picked up by members of a recent Gaza blockade-busting convoy. The Palace eventually declined saying the Israelis wouldn’t allow it.

If he’d been ‘witnessing boldly’ as he exhorted other Christians to do, the Archbishop would surely have instructed his staff to pick up the children’s art and dare the Israelis to confiscate it.

She complained that by not using his position in the House of Lords and elsewhere the Archbishop was failing to improve the situation for Palestinians, quoting the words of Desmond Tutu: “Where there is oppression, those who do nothing side with the oppressor.”

It was later revealed that the Israelis severely restricted the Archbishop’s time inside Gaza. I asked why such interference with the Church’s pastoral business in the Holy Land, of all places, wasn’t broadcast on the website, in mainstream media and in Parliament.

His office confirmed that the Archbishop had initially been refused access to Gaza but was eventually permitted one-and-a-half hours. This was just enough for a hurried visit to the Ahli hospital and no more. When my questions were forwarded to the Archbishop’s public affairs spokesman, the reply was headed “NOT FOR PUBLICATION”. Suffice to say the Israelis from the start blocked the Archbishop’s visit to Gaza and only at the last minute granted him a piddling 90 minutes.

Was this his idea of ‘witnessing boldly’?

The Archbishop’s website joyfully reported how he hobnobbed with the Chief Rabbinate, paid his respects to Yad Vashem and the Holocaust, and talked with the President of Israel – the latter no doubt sniggering up his sleeve at his guest’s frustration at being prevented by Israel’s thugs from seeing what horrors they had inflicted on the Gazans.

Why did he agree to fraternize with Jewish political and religious leaders when his wish to carry out his Christian duty in Gaza was so rudely obstructed? Did Lambeth Palace not realize that meekly accepting such insults only served to legitimize the Israelis’ illegal occupation of the Palestinian territories and gave a stamp of approval to the vicious siege of Gaza, the ongoing air strikes against civilians, the persecution of Muslim and Christian communities and the regime’s utter contempt for international law and human rights?

There was no mention of a get-together with senior Islamic figures, leaving a question-mark over Williams’s real commitment to inter-faith engagement.

Earlier, while the Jewish State was putting its finishing touches to Operation Cast Lead (the infamous blitzkrieg launched over Christmas-New Year 2008/9 against Gaza’s civilians including the Christian community there), the Archbishop joined Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks in a visit to the former Nazi camps of Auschwitz-Birkenau in Poland to demonstrate their joint solidarity against the extremes of hostility and genocide.

“This is a pilgrimage not to a holy place but to a place of utter profanity – a place where the name of God was profaned because the image of God in human beings was abused and disfigured,” said the Archbishop. “How shall we be able to read the signs of the times, the indications that evil is gathering force once again and societies are slipping towards the same collective corruption and moral sickness that made the Shoah possible?”

Read the signs? Surely they were plain to see. The forces of evil had already pushed some societies into the moral cesspit. He needed to look no further than the hell-hole that the Holy Land had been turned into by the Israeli occupation, with good old England’s blessing. If ever there was a place where “the name of God was profaned” this is it.

Who will step forward and save it? The Holy Land is the well-spring of the Christian faith, but you wouldn’t think so from the don’t-give-a-damn attitude among senior churchmen.

Open Door for the Bully-boys

The multitude of inter-faith committees and Christian-Jewish councils has opened the door to the Zionist lobby and made it easy for them to meddle in Church business and bully Christians into submission. There’s even a propaganda outlet calling itself Anglican Friends of Israel. A few weeks ago Zionists, no doubt emboldened by the Church’s appeasement policy, put the squeeze on the Bishop of Newcastle, Martin Wharton. The Representative Council of North-East Jewry wrote to him complaining that he voted for a motion at the General Synod which supported the Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI) despite their “grave concerns… that it would encourage anti-Semitism”. His action, said the letter, “makes any further contact with the Jewish community in the North-East impossible”.

So be it, would seem an appropriate response. But oh no. What brought this on, according to the Church Times was Bishop Wharton’s agreement to speak at a conference, ‘Peace & Justice in the Holy Land’, organized by a group of people who had taken part in the EAPPI program. Its sponsors included Christian Aid, CAFOD, and Friends of Sabeel UK.

The chief executive of the Council of Christians and Jews (CCJ), the Revd David Gifford, said that the conference had “the potential of becoming yet another anti-Jewish meeting, creating more anxiety and distrust between the north-east Jewish community and the Church”. Then the Board of Deputies of British Jews chimed in saying that the EAPPI was “partisan” and “anti-Israel”.

Let’s be clear what the EAPPI is actually about:

“The Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI) brings internationals to the West Bank to experience life under occupation. Ecumenical Accompaniers (EAs) provide protective presence to vulnerable communities, monitor and report human rights abuses and support Palestinians and Israelis working together for peace. When they return home, EAs campaign for a just and peaceful resolution to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict through an end to the occupation, respect for international law and implementation of UN resolutions.”(www.eappi.org)

The EAPPI program was set up by the World Council of Churches in response to a call by the churches of Jerusalem. Its mission includes engaging in public policy advocacy and standing in solidarity with the churches and all those struggling against the illegal occupation. Few people except those who support the brutal Israeli regime would disagree with the program’s principles and objectives. And few, surely, would condemn the humanitarian work the EAPPI carries out with great courage in the face of criminal hostility. Nevertheless its success has whipped the usual suspects into an orchestrated frenzy.

As reported in the Jewish Chronicle, John Dinnen whose motion sparked the Synod debate pointed out that well-known Jewish groups such as Jews for Justice for Palestine and the Israeli Committee Against House Demolition [ICAHD] are entirely supportive of EAPPI, and that five per cent of EAPPI volunteers are Jewish “which is a higher ratio than the number of Jews in England”.

But despite having the moral high ground Wharton caved in and decided not to attend the conference “for the sake of good relations between all the faith communities in Newcastle”. The Roman Catholic Bishop of Hexham & Newcastle, Seamus Cunningham, also decided not to attend. He told the Jewish Chronicle that he had become aware “that many Jewish people in the north-east were angry and upset”. Perhaps the angry and upset should go themselves to the West Bank and experience the behavior of their brethren towards Palestinian women and children and the EAPPI volunteers.

Throughout his time on the Archbishop’s throne Williams was mad-keen on inter-faith dialogue, for what good it has done, and spent an inordinate amount of time with Chief Rabbi Sacks. At one point the Jerusalem Post suggested that the chief rabbi had “in some respects eclipsed the archbishop as the religious voice of the country”.

Nor was the Archbishop the best-known Christian according to a survey 3 years ago. Harry Webb (aka Cliff Richard) beat him into second place. The survey made Cliff even “bigger than the Pope”, who trailed in seventh place.

Now we hear that the squeaky-clean, born-again-Christian megastar is to perform in Israel in July, and the Israeli media are making a meal of it. Does none of these pious dudes understand the appalling, inhuman situation out there?

I’m not sorry to see the back of Rowan Williams – a good guy but not the right man at this time. And what are we to make of his replacement, Archbishop number 105, who will be enthroned at Canterbury Cathedral in March? Justin Welby is touted as an expert in conflict resolution, but he comes from nowhere and is not known for his concern about the Holy Land.

The Jewish Chronicle reported that Welby last year helped mount a Holocaust Memorial Day exhibition in Liverpool Cathedral and… wait for it… abstained in last summer’s vote at the Anglican Synod which endorsed the EAPPI.

In my view, anyone who cannot bring himself to give wholehearted backing to a worthy humanitarian project like EAPPI shouldn’t be leading a great Christian church.

January 25, 2013 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Germany, France and nine other EU countries approved tax on financial transactions

MercoPress | January 25th 2013

France, Germany and nine other European Union states side-stepped British opposition this week and won approval for a tax on financial transactions, it emerged on Wednesday.

EU Taxation Commissioner Semeta said the tax, strongly rejected by the UK could yield up to 57 billion Euros a year EU Taxation Commissioner Semeta said the tax, strongly rejected by the UK could yield up to 57 billion Euros a year

The Times reported that EU finance ministers gave their blessing to the scheme, which will apply to anyone in the 11 countries who makes a bond or share trade or bets on the market using derivatives.

The two big Euro states were able to bypass opposition from Britain and other states under an EU procedure known as enhanced co-operation. The system has been used previously for divorce law and in the field of patents.

Algirdas Semeta, the European Taxation Commissioner, called the decision a “major milestone for EU tax policies”. He had no immediate estimate of how much revenue the tax would generate, but noted that the Commission previously had calculated that such a tax across the 27-nation bloc could yield €57 billion a year.

The 11 nations, representing about two thirds of the EU economy, are Austria, Belgium, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia and Spain. The Netherlands, where a Government was elected in the autumn, may participate. The states now need the Commission to draft legislation enacting a tax.

January 25, 2013 Posted by | Economics | , , | 1 Comment

Egypt’s Free Economy Excludes the Poor

By Bisan Kassab | Al Akhbar | January 25, 2013

Egypt’s 25 January Revolution produced few economic benefits for the country’s poor even though they were instrumental in overthrowing the old order. The Muslim Brotherhood has other economic priorities, including pushing measures that further economic liberalization in Egypt.

Given the Egyptian media’s focus, it might be difficult to believe that Egypt’s 25 January 2011 Revolution was not one of the educated middle class. On the TV screen, these shiny young faces appear on talk shows, portrayed as the leaders of the revolution.

But 28 January 2011’s “Friday of Anger” belonged to the marginalized who – using the tricks they learned in their daily battles with the state apparatus in the slums – were able to defeat the police forces. Regardless, the media see the revolution differently: “This is the revolution of dignity and not of the hungry,” they say.

This discourse paved the way for state repression of social demands. It even reached a point where the media began depicting Egypt’s working class – those that bolstered the revolution’s ranks with its mass mobilizations – of deliberately aiding the counter-revolution through strikes that hurt the economy. The first law issued by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) following their rise to power banned strikes.

As time passed, the voices of social justice were replaced by the murmurings of political battles. These politicians, who have the upper hand in the media, wanted a piece of the revolutionary pie after disregarding its true heros.

Post-Revolution, Little Help for the Poor

Even before the revolution, experts close to the ruling National Democratic Party saw signs of unrest rooted in growing poverty. This was clear in the First Investment Report: Towards a Fair Distribution of the Fruits of Growth prepared by the General Investment Authority in 2009, which warned of sharply rising poverty rates.

Despite the steady economic growth in the last decade of Mubarak’s rule, the proportion of the population living below the national poverty line rose from almost 17 percent of the population in 2000 to 22 percent in 2008, according to the latest figures available from the World Bank.

Nevertheless, when SCAF took power after the fall of Mubarak, they ignored these facts and rejected the expansionary budget presented by Minister of Finance and prominent NDP member Samir Radwan. Instead, the first post-revolution budget was austere: workforce training funds were scaled back to 1 billion Egyptian Pounds ($151 million) from an original 2 billion, and funds for low-income housing were never raised by the expected EGP500 million ($75 million).

Furthermore, SCAF sought to protect the rich from any burdens, such as the tax increase proposed by Radwan on the distribution of capital gains by financial institutions.

Although the last days of SCAF’s rule witnessed an open struggle between the military class and Islamist forces, the conflict was not an indication of different economic policies. “The Islamist parties, which between them won a majority in the 2011-12 parliamentary election appear to favor the continuation of a broadly pro-market policy…” explained an April 2012 report from Chatham House titled “‘Bread, Dignity and Social Justice’: The Political Economy of Egypt’s Transition.”

The new Egyptian Constitution is a glaring example of the bias of the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) towards market liberalization. It stipulated linking salaries with production for the first time and neglected to set a ceiling for agricultural property.

But the constitution aligns with the Brotherhood’s previous positions: the group had been the primary opponent of agrarian reform during the Nasser era and endorsed a 1992 act liberating the relationship between landlord and tenant on agricultural land. The act had abolished gains won by peasants and was faced with wide-scale opposition in 1997.

The knockout blow to the MB’s popularity might be their attempt to implement a package of reforms for tax laws, which was frozen by President Mohamed Mursi a few hours after being announced. It would’ve raised sales taxes on several cement and communications goods and led to a steep increase on the commercial advertising tax – a move that could have hiked up the sales prices of nearly all goods and services.

It seems the MB has learned a lesson from the bread uprising against President Anwar Sadat in January 1977. At the time, the MB magazine al-Daawa described the protests as a “communist conspiracy.”

While the revolution seems to have resulted – at the very least – in a minimum wage increase to EGP700 ($105), the collapse of the Egyptian Pound against the US dollar this past January has precluded any benefits from such a raise.

January 25, 2013 Posted by | Economics, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Egypt Two Years On

By Ibrahim al-Amin | Al Akhbar | January 25, 2013

History books will cite January 25 as the moment of undoing for the dictatorial rule of Mohammad Hosni Mubarak. What we don’t know is what will be said about the scale of the change brought about by the uprising.

It is impossible to make confident predictions at present. Questions only raise more doubts as to the ability of Egypt’s new rulers to bring about major change. But as social theorist Samir Amin points out: “The Egyptian people are brave and will not be afraid to start a second and a third uprising.”

The events of the past two years prove that Amin’s assessment is realistic. The ongoing struggle over Egypt is the clearest sign that the country’s new rulers have not managed to establish a strong enough hold to last as long as their predecessors.

A formidable media machine continues in its efforts to restrict the Egyptian people’s uprising. Many people inside and outside Egypt wanted to persuade the masses that the underlying goals of their protest movement could be reduced to a mere change of president. These people have assumed powerful influence within the state’s institutions and seek to re-establish their control over the public and private sectors of the economy. They want Egypt and the Arabs to behave as though change has been accomplished.

This takes us back to Amin, who noted the menace posed by foreign powers in Egypt. He referred to a cooperative endeavor by the US, Israel, and Gulf states to ensure Egypt’s continued reliance on a policy of “begging from abroad” so as to better maintain its “assistance for US policies in the region.”

He observed that while “Mubarak’s Egypt supported the US invasion of Iraq…today’s Egypt under the Muslim Brotherhood assists the policies on Syria.” The end goal is for Egypt to acquiesce “to the Zionist scheme to eliminate the Palestinian presence within the occupied territory.”

There is no need to repeat Amin’s views on economic policy. The evidence that Egypt’s new rulers are resuming past economic policies is overwhelming. There will be no change in how the country’s economic, social, financial, and monetary policies are shaped. Hence the cruel joke that “Khairat el-Shater is Gamal Mubarak with a beard.”

Nobody can deny the Egyptian people’s massive achievement in bringing down a corrupt and tyrannical ruling clique that was subservient to the colonial West and submissive to the Zionist enterprise. But the story doesn’t end with the Muslim Brotherhood winning a narrow majority at the polls and claiming legitimacy to do what it likes with the country. Whatever misgivings there may be about the condition of the new opposition in Egypt, it has tough questions to face.

– What became of the legacy of Mubarak’s rule? What does the Islamic mantle mean when it is donned by rulers who pursue the same policies that they once said caused poverty, ignorance, and misery?

– Freedom of expression cannot be deemed a gift from the country’s new rulers. Egyptians are demanding guarantees that the gains made so far are not reversed. Can we expect a rotation of power in a few years time? Will Egypt’s new rulers help to recover its unified national identity, or will we see more ugly images of sectarian divisions?

– What real change has there been in the country’s foreign policy? What role does it play in reviving collective Arab action? Or has that been surrendered to the medieval monarchies of the Gulf? Is Egypt acting to regain its rights, sovereignty, and freedom with regard to supporting the people of Palestine?

– Can anyone provide any evidence that the money stolen by the National Democratic Party under Mubarak and his clique is being recovered? Or is the looted national wealth merely passing from one regime to the next?

January 25, 2013 Posted by | Deception, Economics, Timeless or most popular | , , , | Leave a comment