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Worse than Chernobyl: The inner threat of Fukushima crisis

By Christopher Busby | RT | August 20, 2013

I recently pointed out, this operation has to go on forever – a long sickness, but at least not a sudden death. However, this week begins a new development in the potential sudden death department.

There is a curious and bizarre reversal of the natural at Fukushima: a looking-glass world inversion. Unlike the standard marine catastrophe, for example the Titanic, where the need is to manically pump water out of the ship to stop it sinking, at Fukushima the game is to madly pump water in, in order to stop it melting down and exploding.

Probably because it is now clear that the saturation of the ground from all the pumping water for cooling the several reactors and spent fuel pools has destabilized the foundations of the buildings, TEPCO is bringing forward its operation to try and deal with what is perhaps the most dangerous of the four sites, the spent fuel pond of Reactor 4. For this pond contains a truly enormous amount of radioactive material: 1,331 spent fuel grids amounting to 228.3 tons of Uranium and Plutonium buried inside a swimming pool which has already dried out once and exploded. That explosion blasted a significant, but unknown, quantity of lethally radioactive bits and pieces of fuel element around the site (where I heard they were bulldozed into the ground – who knows?), but it also blew the top off the building, covered the fuel elements under the water with rubble and pieces of crane machinery, and no doubt twisted and melted a large proportion of the remaining spent fuel.

The operation involves the kind of game that we are all familiar with in those machines in penny arcades. You know the ones. You stick in some coins. You have levers which manipulate a claw which you position over a teddy bear or a doll and then you let this down, pick the item up and drop it down a chute to win it. In the TEPCO version of this game, you build a crane over the spent fuel tank (or what’s left of it) and manoeuver a grab down into the rubble to deftly pick out a spent fuel assembly, like a 4.5meter long and 24cm square birdcage containing the zirconium metal clad fuel elements, each unit weighing about one third of a ton.

Of course, to make the game more interesting, they are not just sitting there like they were when the tank was being used. They are under water (sea water), covered in debris, corroded, busted, twisted, intertwined and generally impossible to deal with. And here is the really scary thing: if you manage to bust a fuel element, the best outcome is that huge amounts of radioactivity escape into the air and blow over Japan, just like before. The worst outcome is when two of these things get too close, perhaps because in pulling one out it breaks and falls against another one in the tank.  Because then you suddenly have lots of fission, a lot of heat, a meltdown, possibly a big blast like before, and the destruction of the entire cooling pond. Or else the water boils off and the whole thing catches fire.

Then what happens? Not quite Armageddon, but as far as Japan is concerned, almost. I bet they have contingency plans to evacuate the northern island to Korea, China, anywhere. A lot of this radiation will end up in the USA, a long way downwind, admittedly, but then there is an awful lot of radioactivity involved.

Let me lead you through what the spent fuel pond of Reactor 4 contains in the way of radionuclides. I was taken to task after my last article for not listing enough of the radionuclide contaminants. So for the record, though some may find it boring, let me remedy that. It is an impressive list of lethal material:

Strontium-89, Strontium-90, Yttrium-90, Zirconium-95, Niobium-95, Ruthenium-106, Rhodium-106, Antimony-125, Iodine-131, Xenon-133, Caesium-137, Caesium-134, Cerium-144 (loads of this), Protoactinium-147, Europium-154, Plutonium-238, 239, 240, 241, Americium (Yes)-241 and 243, Curium-242,243,244, and of course Uranium 238,235 and 234.

These are the main ones. There are a lot more, and decay daughters of these also. It is a scary amount of invisible death. The total quantity of all these in the spent fuel pool of reactor 4 is about 1021 Becquerels, if we leave out the noble gases and iodines maybe 1020 (that is, 1 with 20 zeroes). Maybe 50 to 100 Chernobyl accidents worth, or more depending on what you believe came out of Chernobyl.

I list these because it should be made quite clear that the concentration of the media on the radio-caesiums and plutoniums and iodines is a very partial story. More discourse manipulation.

What lies within

Which brings me to another aspect of this grim piece of contemporary history. My expertise is in the health effects of internal radionuclides: what happens when these substances I list above get into human beings. Just after the Fukushima catastrophe I made a calculation and a prediction based on the scientific model of the European Committee on Radiation Risk (ECRR). I presented it at the German Society for Radioprotection/ ECRR conference in Berlin in May 2011.

This showed that there would be some 200,000 extra cancers in roughly 10 million population in the 200km radius of the site in the next 10 years, and 400,000 over 50 years. The current risk model adhered to and employed by the Japanese government is that of the International Commission of Radiological Protection, the ICRP. This predicts that no detectable cancers will be seen as a result of the “very low doses” received by the population.

It is this nonsense that allows them to say it is safe to live in contaminated areas so long as the annual “dose” is lower than about 20mSv and to refuse to evacuate the children from such places. The ECRR has predicted and explained all the increased rates of illness seen after the Chernobyl accident in the contaminated territories and of course predicts that the first effects will be increases in thyroid cancer in children, just like Chernobyl. But the ICRP and those employing its model deny there are such effects in Chernobyl: the problems there are due to vodka, radiophobia etc. Or that the children in Belarus who did develop thyroid cancer were iodine deficient. So in effect, Fukushima is a test of the two models. A test which has now begun.

It was reported recently that a survey of thyroid conditions in young people age 0-18 by Fukushima Medical University found 12 confirmed cases and 15 suspected cases of thyroid cancer in 178,000 individuals screened. This is in a two-year period. The 2005 Japanese national incidence rate for thyroid cancer aged 0-18 is given in a recent peer reviewed report as 0.0 per 100,000. That is to say there are no cases. Let me be generous and say that the annual rate per 100,000 is 0.05. That means in the last two years we would expect 0.18 cases: we actually see at minimum 12 cases but most likely 27 cases.

In epidemiology we calculate the excess risk as 27/0.18 which is 150 times the expected rate. Japan Times tells us “Researchers at Fukushima Medical University, which has been taking the leading role in the study, have said they do not believe the most recent cases are related to the nuclear crisis.” Right, that’s OK then. This must have been a random cluster, unluckily, but coincidentally near Fukushima, a source of radioiodine which is a known cause of thyroid cancer.

The risk model

The United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation, UNSCEAR would agree. Also the World Health Organization (since 1959 part of the International Atomic Energy Agency [IAEA] as far as research into radiation and health is concerned). In its preliminary report on Fukushima Health effects, issued in 2012, it states that the maximum thyroid dose was 35mSv and that most received a lot less. On the basis of the ICRP model you would not expect (says radiation and health supremo Dr. Wolfgang Weiss) to see what is clearly happening: an accelerating thyroid cancer epidemic, worse than and earlier than the Chernobyl thyroid cancer epidemic.

It is one more piece of evidence that the current ICRP risk model, employed by the Japanese (and all other world governments) is totally wrong and unsafe and must urgently be abandoned. Internal radiation exposure, as the ECRR approach shows, cannot be assessed by the simple concept of ‘Absorbed Dose’. For those who want a more technical explanation you can see my recent article.

I met Weiss in 2011 at a conference of radiation research in Paris which he was running. At this MELODI conference I took the microphone and told the 650 delegates that the ICRP model was dead in the water and its use continued to kill the people it was intended to protect. I was pursued up the aisle by the Chair, Dr. Sisko Salomaa (of the Finnish Radiation Protection organization STUK), to wrestle the microphone away from the dangerous lunatic Busby.

But Weiss, Salomaa, and the other radiation agency apparatchiks well know that the ICRP and the other global radiation protection agencies UNSCEAR, IAEA and WHO are run by people (like themselves) who are not experts on internal radiation pollution and health, and rarely have any real hands-on research expertise. They rely exclusively on the Hiroshima bomb studies which ignored internal radiation, the black rain of uranium that affected the controls outside the city and the control entrants after the bomb.

weapons-cycle1I have checked out their research publications: it is just the case. Ask them. Their job has been – and still is – to protect, not the public, but the nuclear industry and the military. After Chernobyl, some of them turned up in Kiev when I was there in 2000 and talked down the effects of the radiation. Watch them in action here. By 2005, these Chernobyl cancer effects were turning up in Europe. One study in Sweden by Martin Tondel found an 11 percent excess cancer risk for every 100kBq/sq metre of caesium-137 contamination. Tondel was swiftly dealt with by his boss, Lars Erik Holm, one-time head of ICRP and now Medical Officer of Health of Sweden (Yes).

Again and again, these agencies and their spokespersons have denied what was in front of their very eyes. Billions of dollars are poured into cancer research, research on radiation, but any attempt to carry out epidemiological studies of those exposed to internal radiation, from depleted uranium in Iraq, to Chernobyl contamination, to the shores of the massively-contaminated Baltic Sea have been turned down for funding. I know. I applied with colleagues from Latvia Technical University and from the Karolinska Institute to look at cancer on the shores of the Baltic; no way were we going to be allowed to even get the data, let alone be funded.

As more evidence emerges from this ghastly inadvertent Fukushima experiment, we will see more and more that we have governments and radiation agencies who are wielding unsafe and incorrect scientific assessments of reality. Additionally, we have what might become one of the most serious global public health events of human history being overseen by a private profit-making company, TEPCO, with no good track record of competence or believability.

And appropriately, in this looking-glass world, in a bizarre echo of these two inversions of justice and democracy, we have a sinking ship that can only be saved by pumping water into it.

What are we going to do with these people who have let us down, who are letting us down? They all should be put into a court and tried and sent to jail for what are effectively war crimes, in this new war, the invisible genetic poisoning of the planet and its innocent inhabitants.

August 20, 2013 Posted by | Deception, Nuclear Power, Timeless or most popular | , , , , | Leave a comment

Egyptian army kills journalist, wounds another

Middle East Monitor | August 20, 2013

Security sources said that Egyptian security forces killed a senior editor in state Al-Ahram newspaper Tamer abdul-Ra’ouf at a military checkpoint near the city of Damanhour on Monday night.

The sources said that the security forces shot fire at Abdul-Ra’ouf and Hamid al-Barbari, the correspondent of Al-Jomhoriyya newspaper; state newspaper, too. Abdul-Ra’of immediately died and Al-Barbari sustained serious injuries.

In a statement on its Facebook page, the Egyptian army said that the journalists’ car casted doubts as the journalists were driving very fast during the night curfew. The statement said that the journalists did not respond to the army’s calls or warning shots to stop.

“There was no exaggerated use of fire shooting or intended killing,” the statement, which called for people to commit to the curfew, said.

Egyptian Interim government has imposed curfew in wake of bloody dispersal of two major sit-ins for pro-Morsi supporters in Cairo. More than one thousand Egyptians killed and couples of thousands injured.

Arab Organisation for Human Right in the UK said that “arbitrary” killings in Egypt against protesters calling for the end of the military coup in Egypt.


Egyptian journalist slapped with 4-day detention after surviving army shooting

Egyptian Journalist who was injured after army forces opened fired on him and killed his colleague is accused of possessing unlicensed weapons

Ahram Online | August 21, 2013

Damanhour prosecution ordered late Tuesday the detention of Al-Gomhoreya journalist Hamed El-Barbary, who had survived an army shooting a day earlier, for four days pending investigation after being charged with possessing weapons.

Tamer Abdel-Raouf, Bureau chief of Al-Ahram newspaper in Beheira, was shot dead on Monday evening while driving his car a few hours after the beginning of the state-imposed curfew at 7pm. El-Barbary, who was in the same car, got injured.

After he was hospitalised, El-Barbary testified that army forces at a checkpoint located south of Damanhour, northern Beheira governorate, fired at the car after ordering the driver, Abdel-Raouf, not to pass through. He said Abdel-Raouf complied but forces shot him anyway.

Earlier, Egyptian Armed Forces Spokesman Colonel Ahmed Ali said the forces did not intend to kill them.

In his statement, Ali said that the passengers “breached the curfew, drove quickly towards the security checkpoint and did not comply with calls to stop or warning shots fired in the air.”

He added that the car did not stop for the forces to know the identity of its passengers.

On 14 August, Egypt’s interim Cabinet re-introduced a state of emergency, which includes a daily curfew starting at 7pm until 6am in 14 governorates. This came amid recurrent clashes across the nation between security forces and supporters of deposed president Mohamed Morsi.

Journalists and media personnel are officially exempt from the curfew.

August 20, 2013 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance, Subjugation - Torture | , , | Leave a comment

“It’s US Turn to Show Political Resolve”

Interview with Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif | August 17, 2013

The new Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif is taking over the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Islamic Republic of Iran from his predecessor, Ali Akbar Salehi, at a time that the entire Middle East and North Africa from Syria to Egypt, from Tunisia to Libya, and also from Bahrain to Iraq and Lebanon, are grappling with various political and security crises. Iran’s nuclear case has been also relatively stagnant. In the meantime, the radical politicians in the United States as well as pro-Israeli lobbies in the US Congress and Senate are keeping up their loud cries for the intensification of sanctions against the Islamic Republic. On the verge of his official inauguration as the new Iranian foreign minister, in the following interview we have discussed with Mohammad Javad Zarif such important issues as the true meaning of moderation in Iran’s foreign policy, the new administration’s plans for the continuation of the nuclear negotiations, the possibility of transferring management of the nuclear case from the Supreme National Security Council to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Iran’s possible positions on radical moves taken by the United States and the pro-Israeli lobby, and the possibility of future direct talks between Tehran and Washington in the light of the existing political equations in the region.

Q: The issue of “moderation” was one of the main mottos of the “Administration of Foresight and Hope.” How do you define moderation in the area of foreign policy?

A: I personally believe that moderation means realism and creation of balance among various needs of a country for the advancement of the foreign policy and pursuit of the foreign policy goals through plausible and rational methods and a suitable discourse. Moderation does not mean to forget about the values or discard the principles. Moderation neither means to fall short of materializing the country’s rights. In other words, as I said in my address to the Majlis (Iranian parliament), moderation has its roots in self-confidence. The people who confide in their own ability, power, possibilities and capacities will tread the path of moderation. But those who are afraid and feel weak mostly go for radicalism. Radicals in the world are cowardly people and although their slogans may be different from one another, there are close and good relations among them. The world of today needs moderation more than anything else and the Islamic Republic of Iran, as a powerful country, can push ahead with a suitable foreign policy approach through moderation.

Q: In his first press conference after the inauguration ceremony, President [Hassan Rouhani] said resumption of the nuclear negotiations with the P5+1 group will be one of his priorities. Do you have any new plan or proposal for the resumption of these talks?

A: There have been discussions inside the administration with Mr. President about how to follow up on the country’s nuclear rights and reduce unjust sanctions which have been imposed against the Islamic Republic of Iran. The basis for our work is to insist on the rights of Iran and do away with logical concerns of the international community. As the Supreme Leader and the President have emphasized, it would be easy to achieve this goal provided that the main goal of all involved parties is to find a solution to the nuclear issue. We believe that finding a solution to the nuclear issue needs political will. On the side of the Islamic Republic of Iran, the election of Dr. Rouhani – in view of his past track records with regard to this case – proves that the Iranian people are willing for the nuclear issue to reach a final solution with power and strength and within a reasonable time frame. We wish the opposite side will also have the necessary political resolve for the resolution of the nuclear issue. In that case, we would have no concern with respect to assuring the world about the peaceful nature of our nuclear energy program because according to the fatwa [religious decree] issued by the Supreme Leader and based on the strategic needs of Iran, nuclear weapons have no place in our national security doctrine and are even detrimental to our national security.

Q: There have been rumors about the possibility of transferring the management of the nuclear case from the Supreme National Security Council to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Do you confirm such speculations or deny them and, basically, are there any specific plans for the transfer of this case?

A: I have not heard such a thing. This is a decision for the President to make. At any rate, in view of the experience I have in this regard, I will do my utmost to be of service for the advancement of the nuclear case in any position I am and to any degree possible. However, it is for the highest ranks of the Islamic Establishment to make the final decision about how to pursue the nuclear case, the form and framework of negotiations, and the best methods to be used in this regard.

The main issue is whether the necessary political resolve [among member states of the P5+1 group] will be present and whether the US government is ready to stand in the face of the interest groups and prevent the whole case to be steered by radical groups?

Q: We have witnessed the emergence of anti-Iran currents at both the US Congress and Senate concurrent with the election and inauguration of President Hassan Rouhani’s administration. On the other hand, Israelis claim in their propaganda campaigns that the administration in Iran has changed, but policies are the same as before. What is your plan to offset such radical moves?

A: The warmongering elements are apparently concerned about reduction of problems and are clearly doing their utmost to resort to any pretext in order to intensify the crisis with Iran. The important point is that decision-makers in Europe and the United States should come to grips with the real nature and goals of warmongers. On this basis, they should not allow a warmongering and tension-seeking agenda – which aims to put unjust pressures which have no place in international law on the Iranian nation – to prevent them from taking advantage of opportunities which can be used to find solutions to existing problems. The political agenda of radicalism clearly proves that radicals are cowards and are afraid of negotiations and dialogue. Therefore, such groups make recourse to hasty and ineffective methods in order to bar the progress of moderation. Such cowardly people usually fail to achieve their political goals as well.

Q: Will you agree to engage in bilateral direct talks with the United States if such a thing is proposed to you on the sidelines of such international meetings as the United Nations General Assembly sessions or negotiations with the P5+1 group?

A: The Supreme Leader has made his opinion about [direct] talks [with the United States] public time and time again. Negotiations, per se, is not an issue here, but the main issue is what topics are going to be discussed in such negotiations and how much political determination exists in the opposite side for the settlement of the existing problems. The main issue is will such a political resolve take shape and whether the US administration is actually ready to stand up to radical groups and prevent such radical groups from setting the course of the whole issue? This will be in fact a litmus test for the government of the United States to show its readiness to play a more serious role and pave the way for the achievement of a final solution.

Q: Don’t you think that bilateral talks between Tehran and Washington constitute the secret precondition for the improvement of relations between Iran and Europe?

A: In my opinion, political will is the precondition for the improvement of relations. The methods [to do this] can be discussed, but what is necessary is the emergence of such a political will and its manifestation in practice. In that case, various methods can be used to achieve goals. At a time that it is not still clear whether such a political will exists or not, the efficiency of using new methods cannot be clearly decided. In Iran, the election of Mr. Rouhani shows that people have made up their mind to engage in constructive interaction with the world. Mr. Rouhani, on the other hand, has shown through his words and deeds that he has the necessary political will to do this. Now, the important requisite is for such a political will to take shape on the other side of the equation.

Q: You are taking charge of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs at a time that the Middle East is going through a hectic period of its history. We are witnessing different crises from Syria to Egypt, and from Bahrain to Lebanon and Iraq. What are your priorities among these regional cases?

A: Conditions in the region have become hectic and inflammatory as a result of shortsightedness of certain political players – most of them coming from outside the region – during the past few years, and we need a collective effort to curb in the crisis. On the one hand, we are faced with fundamentalism while, on the other hand, we see how people’s votes are forgotten and downtrodden. And of course, we can see the clear hands of foreign interventionist powers that foment unrest in the region the result of which is the loss of thousands of innocent lives. Unfortunately, we have been witnessing a severe escalation of domestic conflicts in Egypt during the past few days in which hundreds of innocent people have lost their lives. As a result, it is not only incumbent on us to find a way to put an end to the ongoing crisis in Egypt, but a more serious need of the region and the world is to prevent further spread of radicalism by taking advantage of the indigenous models of democracy. I believe that the Islamic Republic of Iran will be able to play a crucial role in this regard, especially after the political epic that took place during the current [Iranian calendar] year [through the presidential election in the country].

Source: Iranian Diplomacy (IRD)
http://www.irdiplomacy.ir/
Translated By: Iran Review.Org

August 20, 2013 Posted by | Progressive Hypocrite, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Covert Units: The Latest Hasbara Eye Wash From Israel

By Richard Edmondson | Leftwing-Christian | August 20, 2013

Last week news came out regarding a program in Israel under which students, enticed by scholarships, would be recruited into “covert units” whose mission would be to sit at computers and post comments favorable to Israel on the Internet. What most of the stories failed to mention, however, is that this is nothing new for Israel.

The practice of recruiting “explainers” to push the “Israeli message” has been going on for at least the past six or seven years, and truth be told most of us have probably encountered these people in the comments sections of various websites we visit. Abnormal constructs regarding cause and effect, avoidance of substance in favor of character assassination—these are often indicators you’ve stumbled upon one.

But just for the record—and so that we might place this latest news into its proper context—let’s go back and review what has come out on this subject over the past several years or so, because it does make for some interesting reading and/or viewing.

Back in 2006, during the July war in Lebanon, Israeli students were rallied to participate in a program entitled “Take Three Minutes,” an effort designed to influence public thinking about the war then in progress. As with this latest scheme, the participants were advised to go to websites and post comments. The following comes from Ynet:

In an international effort they launched a campaign called “Take three minutes.” Starting Friday, some 500 students and activists of the Israel at Heart organization will start different type of war: The talkback offensive.

The students are set to log onto different websites considered hostile to Israel, with the goal of visiting few sites every day and flooding the different polls on the legitimacy of Israel’s operation with pro-Israel answers and points of views.

Each student sends the poll to his/her email list with a request to take three minutes and send the link to that poll to each person’s own email list, thereby hopefully creating a positive public opinion regarding Israel in the world.

The Israel at Heart organization was established by the American-Jewish businessman Joey Lowe.

According to Lowe, “along with the work done by the Foreign Ministry and the IDF’s Israeli spokespersons on international television networks we must not abandon the arena of the leading news sites. Those news sites allow surfers to respond to articles and participate in polls that they publish daily in response to the situation.

The article goes on to mention that the National Union of Israeli Students had lent its support to the cause. The program’s overall effectiveness is probably difficult to gauge, but perhaps worth noting is that even if the shooting war in Lebanon didn’t go so well for Israel, Israeli leaders were pleased generally with how the war for public opinion turned out:

“We have never had it so good,” said Gideon Meir, the Foreign Ministry’s then-deputy-director general for media and public affairs. “The hasbara effort is a well-oiled machine.”

Hasbara is a Hebrew word meaning literally “explanation”; it is viewed generally either as “public relations” or “propaganda,” depending upon one’s point of view.

The “well-oiled machine” continued receiving its periodic doses of lubrication in the years to come. In 2009 blogger Richard Silverstein published an article on a 116-page “hasbara handbook” written for The Israel Project (TIP) by Republican Party strategist Frank Luntz. Silverstein comments:

The first thing to say is that the entire document is a pathetic piece of propaganda. While it ostensibly is addressed to TIP’s leaders and advises them how to shape a pro-Israel message when they lobby Congress, the media and other critical power brokers, the entire thing reeks of desperation and a lost cause.

It goes without saying that the arguments offered are not only devoid of truth, they’re devoid of rigor or credibility. There is literally no substance to the claims offered on Israel’s behalf. It’s an empty exercise in every sense of the word. Reading this makes you realize that the entire Israel lobby edifice is a house of cards.

Well, maybe. But at any rate, Silverstein gives us a few sample quotes from the book. One is from a chapter entitled “25 Rules for Effective Communication”:

The first step to winning trust and friends for Israel is showing that you care about peace for BOTH Israelis and Palestinians and, in particular, a better future for every child. Indeed, the sequence of your conversation is critical and you must start with empathy for BOTH sides first. Open your conversation with strong proven messages such as:

“Israel is committed to a better future for everyone – Israelis and Palestinians alike. Israel wants the pain and suffering to end, and is committed to working with the Palestinians toward a peaceful, diplomatic solution where both sides can have a better future. Let this be a time of hope and opportunity for both the Israeli and the Palestinian people.

Silverstein goes on to describe the passage as “empty meaningless drivel,” and in that he is certainly correct; one who has to be coached to express empathy or humanity toward children living under an occupation probably doesn’t possess abundant amounts of either.

Also in 2009, writer Greg Felton published an article entitled, Israel’s Propagandists Shoot Themselves in the Foot as They Shoot Off Their Mouths:

If you’ve come across a hasbarat, on-line or otherwise, you have learned that no amount of reasoned argument or intellectual maturity has any effect. That’s because hasbarats don’t care if they come across as ignorant, obnoxious, nasty or inane. All that matters for them is sabotaging criticism of Israel and support for Muslims. They’re like anti-intellectual stink bombs: designed to cause maximum discomfort but have little if any real power.

This deliberate proliferation of on-line hasbarats raises two points. The first concerns why anyone would spend hours a day to prostitute themselves for Israel. Money, of course. Ilan Shturman, deputy director of the Israeli foreign ministry’s hasbara department (!), told an Israeli business newspaper in July that US $150,000 had been allocated for the first stage of a campaign to seed the Internet with hasbarats:

“Our people will not say: ‘Hello, I am from the hasbara department of the Israeli foreign ministry and I want to tell you the following.’ Nor will they necessarily identify themselves as Israelis. They will speak as net-surfers and as citizens, and will write responses that will look personal but will be based on a prepared list of messages that the foreign ministry developed.”

The second point is why Israel felt it had to resort to intellectual fraud on an international scale. The Internet has shown that Israel is a failed oppressor state that commits crimes against humanity as a matter of policy. The last straw for many was “Operation Cast Lead,” an act of such unspeakable unapologetic sadism that allusions to Nazi Germany are entirely appropriate.

Much of what we are seeing now does in fact seem to have gotten started with Operation Cast Lead. This was commented upon as well by Jonathan Cook in an article entitled Israel’s Internet War:

Elon Gilad, who heads the internet team, told Calcalist [an Israeli business publication] that many people had contacted the ministry offering their services during the Gaza attack. “People just asked for information, and afterwards we saw that the information was distributed all over the internet.”

He suggested that there had been widespread government cooperation, with the ministry of absorption handing over contact details for hundreds of recent immigrants to Israel, who wrote pro-Israel material for websites in their native languages.

The new team is expected to increase the ministry’s close coordination with a private advocacy group, giyus.org (Give Israel Your United Support). About 50,000 activists are reported to have downloaded a programme called Megaphone that sends an alert to their computers when an article critical of Israel is published. They are then supposed to bombard the site with comments supporting Israel.

Interestingly, Cook goes on to mention a “Brand Israel” campaign launched as far back as 2005, in which the Jewish state would “seek to use websites” to promote Israeli business successes and scientific and medical advances, and he also informs us that present-day Israeli leaders are “particularly concerned” over ebbing support among younger generations of Jews in the US and Europe.

In 2010, Haaretz reported on a new campaign to add pro-Israel slants to Wikipedia articles. It seems the effort was especially spearheaded by settlers, and who knows? It may still be going on to this day. I have never heard Wikipedia comment publicly as to what steps, if any, they have taken to insulate their content from Zionist hasbara tampering. At any rate, here’s an excerpt from the Haaretz article:

Now the Yesha Council of settlements and another right-wing group, Israel Sheli, are embarking on a Wikipedia battle: Zionist editing on the Web-based encyclopedia. The first course was held yesterday in Jerusalem.

“The idea is not to make Wikipedia rightist but for it to include our point of view,” said Naftali Bennett, the director of the Yesha Council.

“The Internet is not managed well enough, and Israel’s position there is appalling. Take for example the Turkish flotilla [to Gaza]. During the first hours we were nowhere to be found. In those first hours millions of people typed the words Gaza-bound flotilla and read what was written on Wikipedia.”

The course was designed to teach how to register for, contribute to and edit for Wikipedia.

The organizers’ aim was twofold: to affect Israeli public opinion by having people who share their ideological viewpoint take part in writing and editing for the Hebrew version, and to write in English so Israel’s image can be bolstered abroad.

Note Bennett’s comment about desiring to see better “management” of the Internet. This would of course be the same Naftali Bennett who recently said, “I’ve killed lots of Arabs in my life—and there’s no problem with that.” It seems Bennett may be invested, on the one hand, with improving Israel’s image on the Internet, while on the other expressing (in his perhaps more unguarded moments) pride in how many Arabs he’s killed. Bennett, who today heads up Israel’s Ministry of Industry, Trade, and Labor, can also be seen in the video below—apparently shot at the same training session as that mentioned in the Haaretz piece:

While the above didn’t take place until 2010, apparently at least the idea of influencing Wikpedia content germinated as far back as 2008. That was when the Electronic Intifada published an article accusing the Zionist organization CAMERA of planning “to rewrite history on Wikpedia”:

A pro-Israel pressure group is orchestrating a secret, long-term campaign to infiltrate the popular online encyclopedia Wikipedia to rewrite Palestinian history, pass off crude propaganda as fact, and take over Wikipedia administrative structures to ensure these changes go either undetected or unchallenged.

A series of emails by members and associates of the pro-Israel group CAMERA (Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America), provided to The Electronic Intifada (EI), indicate the group is engaged in what one activist termed a “war” on Wikipedia.

A 13 March action alert signed by Gilead Ini, a “Senior Research Analyst” at CAMERA, calls for “volunteers who can work as ‘editors’ to ensure” that Israel-related articles on Wikipedia are “free of bias and error, and include necessary facts and context.” However, subsequent communications indicate that the group not only wanted to keep the effort secret from the media, the public, and Wikipedia administrators, but that the material they intended to introduce included discredited claims that could smear Palestinians and Muslims and conceal Israel’s true history.

As in the other cases previously discussed, the plan by CAMERA seems to have entailed a certain clandestine element. “Throughout the documents EI obtained, CAMERA operatives stress the need for stealth and secrecy,” the writer states.

And so it is with the latest scheme come to light. Israeli govt to recruit students as undercover agents on social media, headlined RT in a story published last Thursday:

Israel is set to recruit students to work undercover in “covert units” at universities. The students will post messages on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube on the Israeli government’s behalf – without identifying themselves as government agents.

The students participating in the project will be part of the public diplomacy arm of Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu’s office. Leaders of the “covert units” will receive full scholarships in return for their online public diplomacy (hasbara).

The Prime Minister’s Office is looking to invest up to 3 million shekels ($840,000) to recruit, organize and fund the activities of hundreds of university students, Haaretz reported.

The amount mentioned is of course considerably greater than the $150,000 appropriated back in 2009, but I suppose one must make allowances for inflation.

“We will get authoritative information out and make sure it goes viral,” commented one unnamed Israeli official. “We won’t leave negative stories out there online without a response, and we will spread positive messages. What we are doing is revolutionary. We are putting public diplomacy in the hands of the public.”

Arab-killer Bennett would doubtless be pleased at this efficient “management” of the Internet, and who knows? Maybe Bennett himself is the unnamed official quoted.

By the way, it seems Netanyahu picked a fine and upstanding Israeli gentleman to head up the new program. Daniel Seaman, who previously served with Israel’s Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs Ministry, apparently has a natural, innate fondness for posting racist comments on Facebook—something which seems to be sort of a national pastime in Israel (see my article on Sacha Dratwa, the Israeli Army’s “social media guru,” who last year posted a photo of himself in blackface along with the words “Obama style.”)

Seaman reportedly posted a comment in which he referred to Palestinians as “stupid,” and at the beginning of Ramadan last month he publicly wondered whether the month-long observance would mean “that Muslims will stop eating each other during the daytime?” Seaman also created a diplomatic row with Japan by expressing dislike toward the annual remembrance of the victims of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, commenting that the atomic bombs dropped there were “the consequence of Japanese aggression,” and that “you reap what you sow.”

After these and other comments came to light, it was rumored that Seaman’s name had been withdrawn from consideration, but according to the Times of Israel, he is, for now, still in the running:

Over the weekend, Seaman, who had been told weeks ago to stop posting inappropriate statements, deleted the Facebook profile on which he had posted the offensive posts.

As of Sunday, Seaman’s professional future was unclear, according to sources familiar with the case, since an internal investigation into his behavior is ongoing and a decision is forthcoming. As a tenured civil servant with seniority, it is difficult to fire Seaman from government service, but it is possible to rescind his recent appointment, they said.

Finally one other thing worth mentioning. The Jewish Daily Forward published a story last Thursday that has no connection, or at least no apparent connection, to the brigades of Internet trolls being formed, but which does nonetheless underscore the Jewish state’s seemingly unbending obsession with public relations and perception management.

A Jewish Agency for Israel plan currently in development would combine donor dollars from the United States with Israeli government funds to create what is likely the most expensive pro-Israel campaign ever.

If brought to fruition, the initiative would eventually spend $300 million a year on pro-Israel efforts in the United States and other parts of the Diaspora.

Underscoring perhaps what Cook said above regarding ebbing support for Israel among younger generations of Jews, the plan does seem to be targeted, at least for the most part, toward diaspora Jews, particularly the younger set.

Under the proposed plan, some funds would be spent on Birthright and other Israel trips for Diaspora Jews. Another pool of funds would be used to bolster immigration to Israel among young Jewish professionals. Other money would be used to support Israel education in Diaspora Jewish communities and to send Israelis to Jewish institutions outside Israel. Finally, some funds would be used for pro-Israel programming on campuses.

And as with the “covert units,” this initiative, too, seems to have sprung from the prime minister’s office.

It is said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. None of Israel’s previous efforts over the years seem to have reversed its plummeting national image. Is there any reason to believe these latest endeavors will be any different? Hard to say for sure, and it’s not impossible the Israelis have something up their sleeve this time, a new false-flag attack, or something of that nature. All I can tell you for sure, is there seems to be a considerable level of optimism that this new effort is going to be a roaring success.

“It’s about having a table where the government of Israel and a strong, upstanding agency and Diaspora Jewry… can sit to really have a discussion about the Jewish future,” said one Jewish agency official quoted in the story.

Rather than engage in speculation, I’ll simply leave up to the reader to judge, for himself, or herself, the level or degree of insanity bell-towered in such a statement.

Of course, there is one thing Israel could do to boost its image worldwide, something that could be done relatively quickly and that would work rather almost like magic: dismantle its illegal settlements and give the land to the Palestinians for a state. One would think this would be a far easier undertaking than spending enormous amounts of time, effort, and money engaging in relentless hasbara deceits, but unfortunately that doesn’t seem to be part of the game plan.

August 20, 2013 Posted by | Deception, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Erasing Palestine From the Map

By ROBERT ROSS | August 20, 2013

A foreign affairs blogger for The Washington Post recently posted “40 Maps that explain the world.”  Some of the maps are important (“Economic inequality around the world”), some are interesting (“Meet the world’s 26 remaining monarchies”), but others grossly distort the reality they purportedly represent. Chief among this latter category is “How far Hamas’s rockets can reach into Israel” .

WashPostMap

All about Hamas’s rockets

There are two principal problems with this map. First, the map attempts to “explain” the Israeli-Palestinian conflict by pointing exclusively to the capacity of Hamas’s rockets to reach ever-extensive points within Israel.  Four color-coded, concentric semi-circles spread out from the Gaza Strip, each showing the distance different rockets could travel, the furthest making it all the way to the Dead Sea. Max Fisher, the Post’s chief foreign affairs blogger, writes in a caption to the map, “This helps drive home why Israel is so concerned about Hamas, the Gaza-based Islamist group, and in particular about its access to Iranian-made Fajr-5 rockets.  Those are the ones that can reach into the light-yellow region.”

Erasing Palestine from the Map

The second major problem with this map is that Palestine—both historic and contemporary—is erased from it. A white dotted line traces the border between the West Bank and Israel but the line is barely visible beneath the yellow-shaded ring.  Moreover, “West Bank” (not “occupied West Bank,” or “occupied Palestinian territory,” or “Palestinian West Bank” or “Palestine,” mind you) appears in font so small that it seems to designate some tiny city northeast of Jerusalem, not the Palestinian territory occupied by Israel since 1967. And while Israeli municipalities such as Arad, Ashdod, Holan, and Hrzliya, among others, are included, nowhere can one find the Palestinian cities of Ramallah, Nablus, Bethlehem, or Jericho, much less al-Bira, Jenin, or Qalqilia. Only Jerusalem and Hebron, West Bank cities that are significant to both Israelis and Palestinians, are featured. Even Jaffa, the coastal Palestinian city north of Tel Aviv, has been replaced by the Israeli-Hebrew version, “Yafo.”

So what does this map tell us about the Israel-Palestine conflict?  It’s not apparent what or where Palestine is, or that it even exists, but the map suggests that an ever-menacing, Iranian-supported Islamist group threatens more than half of Israel. And therefore, Israel is “concerned.” Presumably, the reader might conclude, that “concern” forces Israel to periodically defend itself, launching its own counter-attacks into the Gaza Strip. The West Bank, meanwhile, appears for all intents and purposes, part of Israel and in no way related to the Gaza Strip or the cartographically cleansed “Palestine.” So Israel’s geography is simplified into a need to defend itself and Palestine is wiped off the map.

Concealing more than it reveals

The Washington Post’s map (which is actually just a simple google map lifted from someone named “Gene,” whose cartographic resume also includes google maps of “Richmond Bars/Restaurants” and “Jane Austin’s England”) doesn’t reveal how and to what extent Israel has “defended” itself against the perceived threat of Hamas’s rockets. The threat is all that is deemed important; a map showing where and with what deadly ramifications Israel’s responses have taken place, such as this one produced by the Alliance for Justice in the Middle East at Harvard University and the MIT Center for Future Civic Media, didn’t make the Post’s list.

Any attempt to cartographically represent the context within which Hamas’s rockets and Israel’s “response” may have been launched, such as this UN map, is also entirely missing from the Post’s compilation.

In addition to nearly erasing the Palestinian West Bank altogether, the Post’s map reveals nothing about the multiple ways in which the territory is occupied by Israel. Maps of Israeli-only roads, checkpoints, the separation barrier, settlements, and the ethnically-based divisions of the West Bank (such as these from Btselem, the Israeli Committee Against Home Demolitions, and The Applied Institute for Research – Jerusalem) don’t, according to the Washington Post, help explain this part of the world as much as Gene’s map of Hamas’s rocket-firing potential.

The Washington Post’s map of choice sheds no light on the Palestinian villages within Israel that were ethnically cleansed and destroyed in 1948-1949.  References to these maps from the Palestinian Academic Society for the Study of International Affairs (PASSIA) and Visualizing Palestine could have at least begun to cartographically resurrect these erased landscapes.

The Dangers of Distorted Cartography

In sum, The Washington Post’s map explains very little about this part of the world. But what the map does reveal is The Washington Post’s myopic view of Israel and Palestine. The ongoing colonization of Palestine by Israel is reduced and reversed, in this map’s representation, to a normal country that must fend off existential threats from its shadowy neighbors. The effects of this distorted cartography are dangerous—erasing the geographies of Palestine is yet another step in the ongoing occupation and ethnic cleansing of Palestine.

Robert Ross is an Assistant Professor of Global Cultural Studies at Point Park University, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. His research and teaching focus upon the political-economic geographies of Israel, Palestine, Lebanon and the United States. He is also a member of the Pittsburgh Palestine Solidarity Committee and the Israel-Palestine Mission Network of the Presbyterian Church (USA).

Source

August 20, 2013 Posted by | Deception, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular | , , , | 1 Comment

Holding Them to the Promise of Responsibility to Protect: Contemplating the Paradox of R2P

By Jovanni Reyes  ·  NYTX  ·  August 20, 2013

In a recent New York Times op-ed, Who Will Stand Up for Responsibility to Protect? (August 1, 2013), Mike Abramowitz makes the case for coercive humanitarian intervention under the mantra Responsibility to Protect, or R2P.  Mr. Abramowitz is a member of the Council of Foreign Relations and the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum where he currently holds the position of Director for Center for the Prevention of Genocide. He works in promoting R2P with former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, who as Secretary promoted the un-humanitarian sanctions on Iraq which—according to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization—provoked the deaths of 567,000 Iraqi children (Mahajan, 2001).

Abramowitz writes in reaction to the Obama Administration’s appointment of Samantha Power to the U.S. ambassadorship and her confirmation hearing by the Senate on August 1. In the article, Abramowitz quotes Power as saying when asked about R2P that “there is no one size fits all solution, no algorithm, nor should there be. If confirmed to this position, I will act in the interests of the American people and in accordance with our values”. He understands Power’s ambiguity and the politics behind it, but suggests that since every country in the world has agreed to the principles of R2P, it is “our” job to hold them up to that promise; by “our” I assume he means the American people. Abramowitz forgets that Samantha Power is a liberal interventionist who, along with former U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice and former Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, was instrumental in pushing the U.S. to intervene in Libya, resulting in the overthrow of the government, killing many people in the process, including the assassination of the country’s leader, Colonel Muammar Gaddafi (Cooper & Myers, 2011).

R2P is the “newest” and “coolest” addition to international relations. This is not a new concept, however, but a rebranding of an old concept named humanitarian intervention, kin to an even older concept in international affairs referred to as Jus ad bellum.  Yet, the way in which R2P is being interpreted and applied by Western powers implies that there is an overt attempt by Western powers to overrule state sovereignty as understood in international affairs since the Peace of Westphalia of 1648.  Furthermore, it undermines the Kellogg-Briand pact of 1928, which practically outlawed war, and it ignores the U.N. Charter’s insistence that only the United Nations can sanction war, via Security Council resolution. Libya was the first test for R2P.  It has left an unsavory legacy in the eyes of many U.N. member states, however. Many wanted to believe that the new doctrine was indeed genuine and not just another fancy term to justify military intervention.

When the U.N. authorized R2P to protect the people of Benghazi against a hypothetical bloodbath, it sanctioned intervention because Gaddafi’s forces were quickly regaining territory lost to the armed insurgents and marching fast to the rebel held coastal city (Rieff, 2011).  Sanguinary statements made by Gaddafi about going from house to house showing no mercy to the Benghazi rebels made the case too easy for the U.N. to approve intervention and NATO to execute.

The U.N. authorization for intervention was only to protect the people of Benghazi and to coerce the government to cease fire and sit with the rebels for negotiations, which the African Union was already negotiating, to the annoyance of the West. The authorization was not to overthrow the regime, recognize a de facto government and facilitate the assassination of the Libyan head of state (Dewaal, 2012). That was a Western initiative. Today, the people in Libya are worse off than they were before the uprising, and what’s worse, the destabilizing situation in Libya is no longer an urgent matter to the intervening powers the way it was when Gaddafi was in power (Smirnov, 2013).

Abramowitz mentions the civil war in Syria as justification for R2P, but fails to point to Bahrain (a U.S. client) and the government’s brutal crackdown on protestors. He also mentions the 1999 Kosovo War—implying that humanitarian intervention helped stop genocide, but fails to acknowledge that most of the ethnic cleansing took place during the 78-day NATO bombing (Chomsky, 2001); that most of the cleansing was done by the Kosovo Liberation Army, the group that NATO was backing; and that shortly after the war ended reports revealed that the war’s death toll was largely exaggerated (Marden, 1999). He fails to bring up how humanitarian intervention didn’t get to the people of East Timor, who in 1999 were invaded and slaughtered by the Western-friendly Indonesian military, along with their paramilitary proxies at a rate higher than the killings that took place in Kosovo (Powell, 2006). Apparently, the friendly nation of Indonesia was not a state targeted by the West; it seems that the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia was.

The stated purpose of the R2P doctrine is to “adequately respond to the most heinous crimes known to humankind” (International Coalition for the Responsibility to Protect, n.d. ) such as the mass murder of civilians, gross human rights violations, war crimes, genocide and ethnic cleansing.  Proponents of R2P see the doctrine as altruistic—a tool to commit all states to the effort of stopping atrocities, war crimes, and human rights violations. Detractors see it as opportunistic, inconsistent and hypocritical—an excuse for the West to project power in order to pursue its political interest. It is not that critics of R2P do not think that stopping war crimes and genocide is undesirable, it’s just that in practice R2P is applied arbitrarily on a weaker state by the powerful who are then never held accountable for their own crimes during the intervention. These same critics often claim that those in government who are most gung-ho about R2P and humanitarian intervention, often forget history and do not consider past policies imposed by their own countries and their undesirable effects leading to the present situation (Fenton, 2009).

One of the stated principles of R2P is to find the root cause of a conflict and engage in conflict resolution to resolve it and avoid further conflict. R2P as it is applied has been an entirely Western enterprise, a tool to project power and advance goals and policies, only to forget their own political meddling and its aftermath. In the interest of accuracy, the Responsibility to Protect should be renamed the Right to Intervene. There are many people who are genuine humanitarians in the West, and who truly want to see an end to armed conflict and atrocities. Unfortunately, none of them make policies.

Jovanni Reyes is a member of Iraq Veterans Against War, holds a Master’s in International Relations, and is currently pursuing a Master’s in Instructional Technology.

References

Chomsky, N. (2001, April-May). A Review of NATO’s War over Kosovo. Retrieved from Chomsky.info: http://www.chomsky.info/articles/200005–.htm

Cooper, H., & Myers, S. L. (2011, March 18). Obama Takes Hard Line With Libya After Shift by Clinton. Retrieved from New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/19/world/africa/19policy.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

Dewaal, A. (2012, December 19). The African Union and the Libya Conflict of 2011. Retrieved from World Peace Foundation: http://sites.tufts.edu/reinventingpeace/2012/12/19/the-african-union-and-the-libya-conflict-of-2011/

Fenton, A. (2009, July 26). The Responsibility to Protect. Retrieved from Global Research : http://www.globalresearch.ca/the-responsibility-to-protect/14537

International Coalition for the Responsibility to Protect. (n.d. ). An Introduction to the Responsibility to Protect. Retrieved from International Coalition for the Responsibility to Protect: http://www.responsibilitytoprotect.org/index.php/about-rtop

Mahajan, R. (2001, November 1). ‘We Think the Price Is Worth It’. Retrieved from Fairness & Accuracy on in Reporting: http://fair.org/extra-online-articles/we-think-the-price-is-worth-it/

Marden, C. (1999, November 13). UN war crimes prosecutor confirms much-reduced Kosovo death toll. Retrieved from World Socialist Web Site : http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/1999/11/koso-n13.html

Powell, S. (2006, January 19). UN verdict on East Timor. Retrieved from Genocide Studies Program: http://www.yale.edu/gsp/east_timor/unverdict.html

Rieff, D. (2011, November 7). R2P, R.I.P. . Retrieved from The New York Times : http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/08/opinion/r2p-rip.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

Smirnov, A. (2013, February 17 ). Absolute Lawlessness: Libyan “Democracy” Two Years After NATO Air War. Retrieved from Global Research: http://www.globalresearch.ca/absolute-lawlessness-libyan-democracy-two-years-after-nato-air-war/5323093

August 20, 2013 Posted by | Deception, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism, Progressive Hypocrite, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Cellphone tracking cases highlight privacy concerns in digital age

Rt | August 20, 2013

In recent weeks, two cert petitions were filed seeking review of whether the Fourth Amendment covers police searches of cellphone records upon arrest.

From mobile phone and GPS tracking to license plate reading and domestic surveillance drones — not to mention recent revelations of widespread abuse of surveillance capabilities by the National Security Agency — these cases and many others highlight major questions that remain unanswered regarding how privacy rights of Americans can co-exist with the use of rapidly evolving technologies.

State and federal law enforcement agencies have wasted no time seizing on gaps and omissions in established legal precedent to justify vast, routine surveillance of the American public which tests Fourth Amendment rights.

On July 30, a petition was filed in Riley v. California challenging a previous ruling in a California appellate court that affirmed the petitioner’s convictions, which stemmed in part from a questionable search of his smartphone in 2009 following a traffic stop for expired license plates. And late last week, the US Department of Justice filed a petition in United States v. Wurie asking for review of a First Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that police needed a warrant to access a suspect’s phone records. Regarding Wurie, the government contends a cell phone is no different from any other item on a suspect at the time of arrest. The search pertaining to Wurie occurred in 2007.

On the surface, the two cases have much in common. But in Riley, the phone in question is a smartphone – a Samsung Instinct M800. In Wurie, the cellphone was a Verizon LG flip-phone incapable of maintaining the breadth of information – including internet searches, email, photos and other media – that a smartphone can store.

As of May, Pew Research Center found that 91 percent of Americans own cellphones, and 61 percent of those cellphones are smartphones.

GPS technology has received more scrutiny from courts than cellphones have in recent years. Last week, the Justice Department appeared before a federal court defending its right to shield legal memos that provide guidance to federal prosecutors and investigators for how to use GPS devices and other surveillance technologies from the public. In a sense, the memos were released upon a Freedom of Information Act request by the American Civil LIberties Union (ACLU), though their contents were heavily redacted.

The memos (read here and here) were legal interpretations of a January 2012 Supreme Court ruling in United States v. Jones in which the court ruled the use of GPS technology to track a car’s movements constitutes a “search” within the parameters of the Fourth Amendment. Upon release of the indecipherable legal memos, the ACLU filed a lawsuit seeking the full, uncensored guidelines.

“While we agree that executive branch lawyers should be able to freely discuss legal theories, once those opinions become official government policy the public has an absolute right to know what they are,” wrote Brian Hauss, legal fellow with the ACLU’s Speech, Privacy and Technology Project. “Otherwise, the government is operating under secret law that makes accountability to the people impossible.

The ruling in United States v. Jones left many unanswered questions regarding the use of other location-monitoring technologies pertaining to, for example, the tracking of cellphones or the use of license-plate readers – not to mention the use of surveillance drones in the US. In addition, the Jones ruling fell short of even determining whether a warrant is necessary to use GPS devices.

Building on the Jones decision, New Jersey recently became a state ahead of the curve in defining rules for law enforcement and privacy rights in the digital age. The New Jersey Supreme Court ruled in July that state police must have a search warrant before obtaining tracking information from cellphone providers.

“Using a cellphone to determine the location of its owner can be far more revealing than acquiring toll billing, bank, or internet subscriber records,” Chief Justice Stuart Rabner wrote in the case’s opinion. “Details about the location of a cellphone can provide an intimate picture of one’s daily life and reveal not just where people go – which doctors, religious services and stores they visit – but also the people and groups they choose to affiliate with. That information cuts across a broad range of personal ties with family, friends, political groups, health care providers and others.”

In June, Montana became the first state to require police to obtain a warrant before tracking a suspect’s cellphone.

In March 2012, the ACLU reviewed records from over 200 local police departments, finding vast, aggressive use of cellphone tracking for emergency and nonemergency uses.

Another ACLU report, released in July of this year, queried around 600 local and state police departments (and other state and federal agencies) via public records requests to assess how these agencies use automatic license plate readers. The civil liberties organization found massive databases of innocent motorists’ location information gleaned through hundreds of millions of “plate reads” by the ubiquitous readers. Data is often stored for an indefinite period of time, revealing just how easy it is for law enforcement – as well as many private companies – to track any license plate with few legal restrictions in place to stop them.

For example, for every one million plates that were read in the state of Maryland in the first half of 2012, 2000 (0.2 percent) were hits, mostly regarding registration or emissions issues. Of those 2000 hits, less than 3 percent (47) were potentially connected to more serious crimes.

In addition, much of this network of readers throughout the nation is in place thanks to a large amount of federal funding – $50 million in the last five years.

Approval of licenses for domestic drones has begun, as RT has reported, even though solid rules for their eventual use in American skies have yet to materialize from either Congress or the Federal Aviation Administration. The FAA expects as many as 30,000 drones in American airspace by 2020.

For now, many local law enforcement agencies are leading the quest for drone-use approval, though requests for commercial drones are mounting. As of February 15, 2013, there were 327 active drone certifications despite there being no regulatory framework in place. However, the FAA did get around to certifying two types of unmanned aircraft for civilian use in the US in late July.

In the meantime, federal government agencies have used drones domestically both out in the open and in secret. The Federal Bureau of Investigation has admitted to already using surveillance drones despite no established law or guidelines for their use. The US Department of Homeland Security has used surveillance-capable drones along the border for years, even allowing other federal agencies to use its fleet to the tune of 250 times in 2012 alone, The New York Times reported.

August 20, 2013 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

UK ordered Guardian to destroy hard drives in effort to stop Snowden revelations

RT | August 20, 2013

UK authorities reportedly raided the Guardian’s office in London to destroy hard drives in an effort to stop future publications of leaks from former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. The action is unlikely to prevent new materials coming out.

Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger revealed in a Monday article posted on the British newspaper’s website that intelligence officials from the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) told him that he would either have to hand over all the classified documents or have the newspaper’s hard drives destroyed.

After more talks, two “security experts” from GCHQ – the British version of the National Security Agency – visited the Guardian’s London offices.

Rusbridger wrote that the government officials then watched as computers, which contained classified information passed on by Snowden, were physically destroyed in one of the newspaper building’s basements.

“We can call off the black helicopters,” Rusbridger said one of the officials joked.

Another source familiar with the event confirmed to Reuters that Guardian employees destroyed the computers as UK officials observed.

During negotiations with the government, Rusbridger said that the newspaper could not fulfill its journalistic duty if it satisfied the authorities’ requests.

But GCHQ reportedly responded by telling the Guardian that it had already sparked the debate, which was enough.

“You’ve had your debate. There’s no need to write any more,” Reuters quoted the unnamed official as saying.

In the article, Rusbridger explained that because of existing “international collaborations” between journalists, it was still possible to report the story and “take advantage of the most permissive legal environments.”

“I explained to the man from Whitehall about the nature of international collaborations… Bluntly, we did not have to do our reporting from London. Already most of the NSA stories were being reported and edited out of New York. And had it occurred to him that [reporter Glenn] Greenwald lived in Brazil?” wrote Rusbridger.

“The man was unmoved. And so one of the more bizarre moments in the Guardian’s long history occurred – with two GCHQ security experts overseeing the destruction of hard drives in the Guardian’s basement just to make sure there was nothing in the mangled bits of metal which could possibly be of any interest to passing Chinese agents.”

Rusbridger pointed out that the whole incident felt like a “pointless piece of symbolism that understood nothing about the digital age.”

The news comes after Sunday’s international incident during which David Miranda, the partner of Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald, was held at Heathrow airport under the UK Terrorism Act for the maximum time allowed before pressing charges. Greenwald was the reporter who exclusively broke the Snowden story.

The editor promised that the Guardian will “continue to do patient, painstaking reporting on the Snowden documents, we just won’t do it in London. The seizure of Miranda’s laptop, phones, hard drives and camera will similarly have no effect on Greenwald’s work.”

Another US security source told Reuters that Miranda’s detention was meant to send a message to those who received Snowden’s classified documents, about how serious the UK is in closing all the leaks in relation to the whistleblower’s revelations.

Greenwald, who first published secrets leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, responded by promising to release more documents. He added that the UK would be “sorry” for detaining his partner for nine hours.

Snowden, who has been granted asylum by Russia, gave Greenwald up to 20,000 documents with details about the US National Security Agency and the UK’s GCHQ surveillance operations.

‘US is the intellectual author behind detention of Miranda’

Lawyer Eva Golinger told RT that the UK has violated all concepts of freedom of the press. “We are talking about a media outlet. Journalists and their spouses and partners being detained and interrogated. So clearly there has been a decision made that everything related to Edward Snowden must be captured no matter what, violating anyone’s right under any country’s laws.”

Golinger believes that government’s pressure on journalists could inspire some to cover the topic of government surveillance even more, instead of discouraging them to do so.

“The more principled the people reporting are, the more they will continue to pursue that work in the face of threat. Such cheap threats and intimidation give people even more reasons to continue doing what they are doing because it shows that those in power are clearly frightened of the information that is being put out,” she explained.

“At the same time it could certainly intimidate other journalists and create the environment of self-censorship, where many would be unwilling to take the risks that are involved with national security reporting, particularly when it comes to the US.”

Golinger argued that US is the “intellectual author behind the detainment of Miranda.”

“We are talking about a search and capture that is going on for Edward Snowden and it is the US that is leading that effort. It is not the UK or other European nations, they are merely abiding by the wishes of the US…What I believe is that Washington has simply put out a request to all of its allies that anyone related to Edward Snowden must be detained if they come into your territory and the UK abided by that and did their duty.”

August 20, 2013 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

YouTube bans Press TV’s new page

Press TV – August 20, 2013

YouTube has disabled Press TV’s new account under pressure from the Israeli-American Anti-Defamation League (ADL) that ordered the video-sharing site to end the Iranian channel’s live broadcast.

“On August 20, YouTube’s parent company Google deactivated Press TV’s new account weeks after disabling the channel’s official page,” said Press TV Newsroom Director Hamid Reza Emadi.

“YouTube broadcasts a variety of obscene images and provides a platform for terrorists to propagate their dangerous ideologies, but it cannot tolerate the broadcast of an alternative media channel from Iran,” he said, adding that YouTube is doing what the ADL is ordering it to do.

“ADL has contacted YouTube regarding concerns about Press TV,” reads an article on ADL’s official website, further noting that the station’s “broadcast on Youtube comes at the a time when the United States, the European Union and others in the international community are seeking to isolate Iran.”

Since January 2012, Press TV has come under mounting pressure from European governments and satellite companies, which have taken the alternative channel off the air across the European Union.

In a statement published on the official website of the American Jewish Committee (AJC), the pro-Israeli lobby has lauded Spain’s efforts to ban Press TV, saying Madrid has pulled the plug on the Iranian channel following months of negotiations with the AJC.

Meanwhile, Press TV has created a third YouTube page.

“Viewers can now watch our videos at http://www.youtube.com/Presstvonair ,” he added, stressing that the channel will create more and more pages to counter the YouTube censorship.

August 20, 2013 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , | Leave a comment

UK ignores Russian request on former Magnitsky boss Browder – prosecutor

RT | August 20, 2013

Great Britain was the only state that refused to fulfill the official request of Russian law enforcers in the search for William Browder, the former head of an investment fund wanted for embezzlement and tax evasion.

Russia’s Deputy Prosecutor General Aleksandr Zvyagintsev said at a Tuesday press conference in Moscow, “I have signed several requests addressed to Great Britain, Cyprus, Latvia and Estonia. All these countries excluding Great Britain fulfilled the international investigation instructions ahead of time.

We hope that Great Britain heeds the international community’s call and hands us over the people who have violated the law. In the whole history of Russian-British relations the UK has only handed one person over to us – and this was an ordinary hooligan. As for the rest – the multi-millionaires and billionaires who continue to launder money in Albion – unfortunately, these are not extradited,” Zvyagintsev added.

William Browder is a US-born British citizen who founded the Hermitage Capital Management investment fund – a major firm working with Russian securities since the mid-1990s that earned its owners hundreds of millions of dollars. Browder fled Russia in 2006 after law enforcers showed interest in some of the fund’s financial schemes.

The investigation continued and led to a court process in which Browder was found guilty of large-scale tax evasion and sentenced to nine years in prison in absentia.

Another person convicted in this case is the now famous auditor, the late Sergey Magnitsky, whose name became known after his tragic death in a Moscow pre-trial detention center in 2009. According to forensic report, Magnitsky died of pancreatitis and a heart condition, but Browder and his colleagues have claimed that Russians law enforcers deliberately tortured and killed the accountant.

The case was intensely covered in the mass media and promoted in US political circles, eventually leading to the so-called Magnitsky Act – a US law imposing sanctions on Russian state and justice officials suspected in human rights violations.

Russia blasted the move as an attempt to influence an independent court in a sovereign state and retaliated with its own Guantanamo list – an act imposing sanctions on US officials suspected of violating Human Rights.

The spat between the two countries apparently allowed the General Secretariat of Interpol to refuse Russia’s warrant for Browder in July this year, claiming that the case was influenced by politics. It also ordered to delete all information about Browder from Interpol’s international databases.

Russia’s Interior Ministry replied with a statement that it was “puzzled by Interpol’s General Secretariat’s decision.”

[The ministry] continues to consider Interpol an organization which is not motivated by political and judgmental decisions in its work, but acts solely in accordance with international law and the organization’s constitution,” the statement read.

August 20, 2013 Posted by | Corruption, Deception | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment