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Failure to Curb Use of Antibiotics in Livestock Signals Danger for Humans

By Noel Brinkerhoff | AllGov | October 24, 2013

Despite repeated warnings from experts, the federal government under President Barack Obama has continued to allow farmers to pump livestock with antibiotics intended for humans, which has increased health risks for Americans.

A new study (pdf) from the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future (JHCLF) blamed the lack of meaningful change in livestock-antibiotics policies on the agricultural and pharmaceutical industries, which have lobbied to block new laws and regulations from being adopted.

Members of Congress and officials with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have caved to industry pressures, even though evidence shows the overuse of antibiotics in livestock has made these drugs less effective in treating human infections.

Bob Martin, executive director of the JHCLF, told The Washington Post that FDA statistics reveal as much as 80% of the antibiotics sold in the U.S. are fed to cattle, pigs, chickens and other farm animals—a practice that reduces the efficacy of the drugs when it comes to fighting deadly infections in people.

Currently, about 23,000 patients die from antibiotic-resistant infections each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The Johns Hopkins study echoed the concerns of a 2008 report (pdf) on industry practices by a Pew Charitable Trusts commission of scientists that involved the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. This earlier study also warned that the nation must back off on feeding antibiotics to animals.

The FDA has developed new guidelines that would require farms to stop using antibiotics specifically to bulk up food animals. But the rules would allow the drugs’ continued use for disease control. This latter provision is so loosely defined, Martin said, that there would be no practical change in the use of antibiotics.

“In a couple of areas, the Obama administration started off with good intentions. But when industry pushed back, even weaker rules were issued,” he told the Post. “We saw undue influence everywhere we turned.”

The new report was authored by a commission chaired by former Kansas governor John Carlin (D) and that included former U.S. agriculture secretary Dan Glickman, ranchers, and experts in public health and veterinary medicine.

The report’s message was echoed in a dire warning issued by Mary Wilson of the Harvard School of Public Health: “We will see common infections become fatal,” just as they were before the invention of antibiotics, she told the Post.

To Learn More:

Report: Feeding Antibiotics to Livestock is Bad for Humans, but Congress Won’t Stop It (by Melinda Henneberger, Washington Post)

Industrial Food Animal Production in America: Examining the Impact of the Pew Commission’s Priority Recommendations (John Hopkins Center for a Livable Future) (pdf)

FDA Quietly Ends Attempt to Regulate Antibiotics in Animal Feed (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)

80% of U.S. Antibiotics Go to Farm Animals (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)

October 24, 2013 Posted by | Corruption, Progressive Hypocrite | , , , , | Leave a comment

EU promises Israeli participation in Horizon 2020 project

MEMO | October 24, 2013

A senior official from the European Union has visited Israel to inform the government that it will find a solution to ensure Israel’s participation in the scientific Horizon 2020 project, Haaretz newspaper has claimed. This is in spite of EU restrictions on dealing with Israeli companies and research centres operating in the illegal West Bank settlements which takes effect in January 2014. The EU ban on such dealings threatens to lose Israeli research centres around $200 million.

Europe-Israel discussions regarding Israel’s participation in the 2020 project stalled when the EU approved the economic restrictions on Israeli companies and research centres in the West Bank. The European guidelines dictate that any future agreement with Israel should make it clear that the Israeli settlements in the West Bank and occupied Jerusalem, as well as the Syrian Golan Heights, are not part of Israel and therefore not covered by EU-Israel agreements. Since then, talks over Israel’s participation in Europe’s largest scientific project turned from a technical issue to a complex political matter, especially as a few Israeli research centres likely to join the project are active in the settlements.

According to Haaretz, Israel and the United States are exercising “tremendous pressure” on EU Foreign Policy chief Catherine Ashton to relax the new restrictions. Israel has also threatened that it will not join the European project if the restrictions remain in place. The newspaper said that Ashton was scheduled to deliver the draft project to Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs two weeks ago with clarifications of the restrictions and the proposed agreement but decided to postpone the trip so that leaks could be avoided, which might damage the discussions.

“A high-level European delegation is scheduled to arrive in Israel next week,” said Haaretz, “headed by the Secretary-General of the European External Action Service, Pierre Vimont, who will meet with senior officials from the Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Economy and Science.”

A spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Israel said that the latest bone of contention with the EU is the demand that Israeli companies wishing to take part in Horizon 2020 should state publicly that they are not active in the settlements and occupied Palestinian territories.

October 24, 2013 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation | , , , , | Leave a comment

Israel locks-down neighbourhood after Palestinians make hole in Apartheid Wall

MEMO | October 24, 2013

The Israeli occupation authorities have imposed a complete closure of Kabsa neighbourhood in Abu-Dis on the outskirts of the holy city of Jerusalem in response to activists smashing a 2.5 metre wide hole in the Apartheid Wall.

Eyewitnesses described a “massive” number of Israeli security forces tracking down dozens of Palestinian youth responsible for making the hole in the wall built by Israel between the occupied West Bank and occupied Jerusalem. The youngsters clashed with the soldiers and threw rocks at them. No casualties were reported.

00013-21b93d4f46After making the hole, a number of the Palestinians crawled through and stood on the Jerusalem side for a minute. “The youth wanted to send a message to the Israeli occupation that they can enter the city despite the measures put in place by the occupation to stop them,” said witnesses.

Activist Ata Jefal told the Turkish Anadolu news agency that he and his friends have sent a number of signals to the Israelis that they can enter the city at will.

Kabsa lies to the east of Al-Aqsa Mosque. Its residents do not have a free access to the mosque because of the Israeli wall, the building of which began in 2002. At 8 metres high the wall has control towers and CCTV manned around the clock. Its final length is planned to be 780km, most of which will be built on occupied Palestinian land. Although the Israelis claim that it is a “security” wall, the fact that it takes up so much of the occupied West Bank has led to it being described as just another means of grabbing more Palestinian land, along with illegal settlements, settler-only roads, “nature reserves” and “military zones”. Just over 60 per cent of the wall has been completed.

October 24, 2013 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

America’s “Secret Wars” in Over 100 Countries Around the World

Empire Under Obama: Part 3

By Andrew Gavin Marshall |  The Hampton Institute | October 17, 2013

Obama’s global terror campaign is not only dependent upon his drone assassination program, but increasingly it has come to rely upon the deployment of Special Operations forces in countries all over the world, reportedly between 70 and 120 countries at any one time. As Obama has sought to draw down the large-scale ground invasions of countries (as Bush pursued in Afghanistan and Iraq), he has escalated the world of ‘covert warfare,’ largely outside the oversight of Congress and the public. One of the most important agencies in this global “secret war” is the Joint Special Operations Command, or JSOC for short.

JSOC was established in 1980 following the failed rescue of American hostages at the U.S. Embassy in Iran as “an obscure and secretive corner of the military’s hierarchy,” noted the Atlantic. It experienced a “rapid expansion” under the Bush administration, and since Obama came to power, “appears to be playing an increasingly prominent role in national security” and “counterterrorism,” in areas which were “traditionally covered by the CIA.” 1  One of the most important differences between these covert warfare operations being conducted by JSOC instead of the CIA is that the CIA has to report to Congress, whereas JSOC only reports its most important activities to the President’s National Security Council.2

During the Bush administration, JSOC “reported directly” to Vice President Dick Cheney, according to award-winning investigative journalist Seymour Hersh (of the New Yorker), who explained that, “It’s an executive assassination ring essentially, and it’s been going on and on and on.” He added: “Under President Bush’s authority, they’ve been going into countries, not talking to the ambassador or the CIA station chief, and finding people on a list and executing them and leaving. That’s been going on, in the name of all of us.” 3

In 2005, Dick Cheney referred to U.S. Special Forces as “the silent professionals” representing “the kind of force we want to build for the future… a force that is lighter, more adaptable, more agile, and more lethal in action.” And without a hint of irony, Cheney stated: “None of us wants to turn over the future of mankind to tiny groups of fanatics committing indiscriminate murder and plotting large-scale terror.” 4  Not unless those “fanatics” happen to be wearing U.S. military uniforms, of course, in which case “committing indiscriminate murder and plotting large-scale terror” is not an issue.

The commander of JSOC during the Bush administration – when it served as Cheney’s “executive assassination ring” – was General Stanley McChrystal, whom Obama appointed as the top military commander in Afghanistan. Not surprisingly, JSOC began to play a much larger role in both Afghanistan and Pakistan. 5 In early 2009, the new head of JSOC, Vice Admiral William H. McRaven, ordered a two-week ‘halt’ to Special Operations missions inside Afghanistan, after several JSOC raids in previous months killed several women and children, adding to the growing “outrage” within Afghanistan about civilian deaths caused by US raids and airstrikes, which contributed to a surge in civilian deaths over 2008. 6

JSOC has also been involved in running a “secret war” inside of Pakistan, beginning in 2006 but accelerating rapidly under the Obama administration. The “secret war” was waged in cooperation with the CIA and the infamous private military contractor, Blackwater, made infamous for its massacre of Iraqi civilians, after which it was banned from operating in the country. 7

Blackwater’s founder, Erik Prince, was recruited as a CIA asset in 2004, and in subsequent years acquired over $1.5 billion in contracts from the Pentagon and CIA, and included among its leadership several former top-level CIA officials. Blackwater, which primarily hires former Special Forces soldiers, has largely functioned “as an overseas Praetorian guard for the CIA and State Department officials,” who were also “helping to craft, fund, and execute operations,” including “assembling hit teams,” all outside of any Congressional or public oversight (since it was technically a private corporation).8

The CIA hired Blackwater to aid in a secret assassination program which was hidden from Congress for seven years. 9 These operations would be overseen by the CIA or Special Forces personnel. 10 Blackwater has also been contracted to arm drones at secret bases in Afghanistan and Pakistan for Obama’s assassination program, overseen by the CIA. 11 The lines dividing the military, the CIA and Blackwater had become “blurred,” as one former CIA official commented, “It became a very brotherly relationship… There was a feeling that Blackwater eventually become an extension of the agency.” 12

The “secret war” in Pakistan may have begun under Bush, but it had rapidly expanded in the following years of the Obama administration. Wikileaks cables confirmed the operation of JSOC forces inside of Pakistan, with Pakistani Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gillani telling the U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan, Anne Patterson (who would later be appointed as ambassador to Egypt), that, “I don’t care if they do it as long as they get the right people. We’ll protest in the National Assembly and then ignore it.”13

Within the first five months of Obama’s presidency in 2009, he authorized “a massive expansion of clandestine military and intelligence operations worldwide,” granting the Pentagon’s regional combatant commanders “significant new authority” over such covert operations. 14 The directive came from General Petraeus, commander of CENTCOM, authorizing Special Forces soldiers to be sent into “both friendly and hostile nations in the Middle East, Central Asia and the Horn of Africa.” The deployment of highly trained killers into dozens of countries was to become “systemic and long term,” designed to “penetrate, disrupt, defeat or destroy” enemies of the State, beyond the rule of law, no trial or pretenses of accountability. They also “prepare the environment” for larger attacks that the U.S. or NATO countries may have planned. Unlike with the CIA, these operations do not report to Congress, or even need “the President’s approval.” But for the big operations, they get the approval of the National Security Council (NSC), which includes the president, as well as most other major cabinet heads, of the Pentagon, CIA, State Department, etc.15

The new orders gave regional commanders – such as Petraeus who headed CENTCOM, or General Ward of the newly-created Africa Command (AFRICOM) – authority over special operations forces in the area of their command, institutionalizing the authority to send trained killers into dozens of countries around the world to conduct secret operations with no oversight whatsoever; and this new ‘authority’ is given to multiple top military officials, who have risen to the top of an institution with absolutely no ‘democratic’ pretenses. Regardless of who is president, this “authority” remains institutionalized in the “combatant commands.”16

The combatant commands include: AFRICOM over Africa (est. 2007), CENTCOM over the Middle East and Central Asia (est. 1983), EUCOM over Europe (est. 1947), NORTHCOM over North America (est. 2002), PACOM over the Pacific rim and Asia (est. 1947), SOUTHCOM over Central and South America and the Caribbean (est. 1963), SOCOM as Special Operations Command (est. 1987), STRATCOM as Strategic Command over military operations to do with outer space, intelligence, and weapons (est. 1992), and TRANSCOM handling all transportation for the Department of Defense. The State Department was given “oversight” to clear the operations from each embassy, 17 just to make sure everyone was ‘in the loop,’ unlike during the Bush years when it was run out of Cheney’s office without telling anyone else.

In 2010, it was reported by the Washington Post that the U.S. has expanded the operations of its Special Forces around the world, from being deployed in roughly 60 countries under Bush to about 75 countries in 2010 under Obama, operating in notable spots such as the Philippines and Colombia, as well as Yemen, across the Middle East, Africa and Central Asia. The global deployment of Special Forces – alongside the CIA’s global drone warfare program – were two facets of Obama’s “national security doctrine of global engagement and domestic values,” in the words of the Washington Post, though the article was unclear on which aspect of waging “secret wars” in 75 countries constituted Obama’s “values.” Commanders for Special Operations forces have become “a far more regular presence at the White House” under Obama than George Bush, with one such commander commenting, “We have a lot more access… They are talking publicly much less but they are acting more. They are willing to get aggressive much more quickly.” Such Special Operations forces deployments “go beyond unilateral strikes and include the training of local counterterrorism forces and joint operations with them.”18

So not only are U.S. forces conducting secret wars within dozens of countries around the world, but they are training the domestic military forces of many of these countries to undertake secret wars internally, and in the interests of the United States Mafia empire.

One military official even “set up a network” of private military corporations that hired former Special Forces and CIA operations to gather intelligence and conduct secret operations in foreign countries to support “lethal action”: publicly subsidized, privatized ‘accountability.’ Such a network was “generally considered illegal” and was “improperly financed.” 19  When the news of these networks emerged, the Pentagon said it shut them down and opened a “criminal investigation.” Turns out, they found nothing “criminal,” because two months later, the operations were continuing and had “become an important source of intelligence.” The networks of covert-ops corporations were being “managed” by Lockheed Martin, one of the largest military contractors in the world, while being “supervised” by the Pentagon’s Special Operations Command. 20

Admiral Eric T. Olson had been the head of Special Operations Command from 2007 to 2011, and in that year, Olson led a successful initiative – endorsed by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Mike Mullen and Defense Secretary Robert Gates – to encourage the promotion of top special operations officials to higher positions in the whole military command structure. The “trend” was to continue under the following Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, who previously headed the CIA from 2009 to 2011. 21  When Olson left his position as head of Special Operations Command, he was replaced with Admiral William McRaven, who served as the head of JSOC from 2008 to 2011, having followed Stanley McChrystal.

By January of 2012, Obama was continuing with seeking to move further away from large-scale ground wars such as in Iraq and Afghanistan, and refocus on “a smaller, more agile force across Asia, the Pacific and the Middle East.” Surrounded by the Joint Chiefs of Staff in full uniforms adorned with medals, along with other top Pentagon officials, President Obama delivered a rare press briefing at the Pentagon where he said that, “our military will be leaner, but the world must know the United States is going to maintain our military superiority.” The priorities in this strategy would be “financing for defense and offense in cyberspace, for Special Operations forces and for the broad area of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance.” 22

In February of 2012, Admiral William H. McRaven, the head of the Special Operations Command, was “pushing for a larger role for his elite units who have traditionally operated in the dark corners of American foreign policy,” advocating a plan that “would give him more autonomy to position his forces and their war-fighting equipment where intelligence and global events indicate they are most needed,” notably with expansions in mind for Asia, Africa and Latin America. McRaven stated that, “It’s not really about Socom [Special Operations Command] running the global war on terrorism… I don’t think we’re ready to do that. What it’s about is how do I better support” the major regional military command structures. 23

In the previous decade, roughly 80% of US Special Operations forces were deployed in the Middle East, but McRaven wanted them to spread to other regions, as well as to be able to “quickly move his units to potential hot spots without going through the standard Pentagon process governing overseas deployments.” The Special Operations Command numbered around 66,000 people, double the number since 2001, and its budget had reached $10.5 billion, from $4.2 billion in 2001. 24

In March of 2012, a Special Forces commander, Admiral William H. McRaven, developed plans to expand special operations units, making them “the force of choice” against “emerging threats” over the following decade. McRaven’s Special Operations Command oversees more than 60,000 military personnel and civilians, saying in a draft paper circulated at the Pentagon that: “We are in a generational struggle… For the foreseeable future, the United States will have to deal with various manifestations of inflamed violent extremism. In order to conduct sustained operations around the globe, our special operations must adapt.” McRaven stated that Special Forces were operating in over 71 countries around the world.25

The expansion of global special forces operations was largely in reaction to the increasingly difficult challenge of positioning large military forces around the world, and carrying out large scale wars and occupations, for which there is very little public support at home or abroad. In 2013, the Special Operations Command had forces operating in 92 different countries around the world, with one Congressional critic accusing McRaven of engaging in “empire building.” 26 The expanded presence of these operations is a major factor contributing to “destabilization” around the world, especially in major war zones like Pakistan.27

In 2013, McRaven’s Special Operations Command gained new authorities and an expanded budget, with McRaven testifying before the Senate Armed Services Committee that, “On any day of the year you will find special operations forces [in] somewhere between 70 and 90 countries around the world.” 28 In 2012, it was reported that such forces would be operating in 120 different countries by the end of the year.29

In December of 2012, it was announced that the U.S. was sending 4,000 soldiers to 35 different African countries as “part of an intensifying Pentagon effort to train countries to battle extremists and give the U.S. a ready and trained force to dispatch to Africa if crises requiring the U.S. military emerge,” operating under the Pentagon’s newest regional command, AFRICOM, established in 2007.30

By September of 2013, the U.S. military had been involved in various activities in Algeria, Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Cape Verde Islands, Senegal, Seychelles, Togo, Tunisia, Uganda and Zambia, among others, constructing bases, undertaking “security cooperation engagements, training exercises, advisory deployments, special operations missions, and a growing logistics network.”31

In short, Obama’s global ‘war of terror’ has expanded to roughly 100 countries around the world, winding down the large-scale military invasions and occupations such as those in Afghanistan and Iraq, and increasing the “small-scale” warfare operations of Special Forces, beyond the rule of law, outside Congressional and public oversight, conducting “snatch and grab” operations, training domestic repressive military forces in nations largely run by dictatorships to undertake their own operations on behalf of the ‘Global Godfather.’

Make no mistake: this is global warfare. Imagine for a moment the international outcry that would result from news of China or Russia conducting secret warfare operations in roughly 100 countries around the world. But when America does it, there’s barely a mention, save for the passing comments in the New York Times or the Washington Post portraying an unprecedented global campaign of terror as representative of Obama’s “values.” Well, indeed it is representative of Obama’s values, by virtue of the fact that he doesn’t have any.

Indeed, America has long been the Global Godfather applying the ‘Mafia Principles’ of international relations, lock-in-step with its Western lackey organized crime ‘Capo’ states such as Great Britain and France. Yet, under Obama, the president who had won public relations industry awards for his well-managed presidential advertising campaign promising “hope” and “change,” the empire has found itself waging war in roughly one hundred nations, conducting an unprecedented global terror campaign, increasing its abuses of human rights, war crimes and crimes against humanity, all under the aegis of the Nobel Peace Prize-winner Barack Obama.

Whether the president is Clinton, Bush, or Obama, the Empire of Terror wages on its global campaign of domination and subjugation, to the detriment of all humanity, save those interests that sit atop the constructed global hierarchy. It is in the interests of the ruling elite that America protects and projects its global imperial designs. It is in the interests of all humanity, then, that the Empire be opposed – and ultimately, deconstructed – no matter who sits in office, no matter who holds the title of the ‘high priest of hypocrisy’ (aka: President of the United States). It is the Empire that rules, and the Empire that destroys, and the Empire that must, in turn, be demolished.

The world at large – across the Middle East, Africa, Asia, Latin America – suffers the greatest hardships of the Western Mafia imperial system: entrenched poverty, exploitation, environmental degradation, war and destruction. The struggle against the Empire cannot be waged and won from the outside alone. The rest of the world has been struggling to survive against the Western Empire for decades, and, in truth, hundreds of years. For the struggle to succeed (and it can succeed), a strong anti-Empire movement must develop within the imperial powers themselves, and most especially within the United States. The future of humanity depends upon it.

Or… we could all just keep shopping and watching TV, blissfully blind to the global campaign of terror and war being waged in our names around the world. Certainly, such an option may be appealing, but ultimately, wars abroad come home to roost. As George Orwell once wrote: “The war is not meant to be won, it is meant to be continuous. Hierarchical society is only possible on the basis of poverty and ignorance. This new version is the past and no different past can ever have existed. In principle the war effort is always planned to keep society on the brink of starvation. The war is waged by the ruling group against its own subjects and its object is not the victory over either Eurasia or East Asia, but to keep the very structure of society intact.”

  1. Max Fisher, “The Special Ops Command That’s Displacing The CIA,” The Atlantic, 1 December 2009
  2. Mark Mazzetti, “U.S. Is Said to Expand Secret Actions in Mideast,” The New York Times, 24 May 2010
  3. Eric Black, “Investigative reporter Seymour Hersh describes ‘executive assassination ring‘,” Minnesota Post, 11 March 2009
  4. John D. Danusiewicz, “Cheney Praises ‘Silent Professionals’ of Special Operations,” American Forces Press Service, 11 June 2005
  5. Max Fisher, “The Special Ops Command That’s Displacing The CIA,” The Atlantic, December 1, 2009
  6. Mark Mazzetti and Eric Schmitt, “U.S. Halted Some Raids in Afghanistan,” The New York Times, 9 March 2009
  7. Jeremy Scahill, The Secret US War in Pakistan, The Nation: November 23, 2009
  8. Adam Ciralsky, “Tycoon, Contractor, Soldier, Spy,” Vanity Fair, January 2010
  9. Mark Mazzetti, “C.I.A. Sought Blackwater’s Help to Kill Jihadists,” The New York Times, 19 August 2009
  10. R. Jeffrey Smith and Joby Warrick, “Blackwater tied to clandestine CIA raids,” The Washington Post, 11 December 2009
  11. James Risen and Mark Mazzetti, “C.I.A. Said to Use Outsiders to Put Bombs on Drones,” The New York Times, 20 August 2009
  12. James Risen and Mark Mazzetti, “Blackwater Guards Tied to Secret C.I.A. Raids,” The New York Times, 10 December 2009
  13. Jeremy Scahill, “The (Not So) Secret (Anymore) US War in Pakistan,” The Nation, 1 December 2010
  14. March Ambinder, “Obama Gives Commanders Wide Berth for Secret Warfare,” The Atlantic, 25 May 2010
  15. Mark Mazzetti, “U.S. Is Said to Expand Secret Actions in Mideast,” The New York Times, May 24, 2010
  16. Marc Ambinder, “Obama Gives Commanders Wide Berth for Secret Warfare,” May 25, 2010
  17. Max Fisher, “The End of Dick Cheney’s Kill Squads,” The Atlantic, 4 June 2010
  18. Karen DeYoung and Greg Jaffe, “U.S. ‘secret war’ expands globally as Special Operations forces take larger role,” The Washington Post, 4 June 2010
  19. Dexter Filkins and Mark Mazzetti, “Contractors Tied to Effort to Track and Kill Militants,” The New York Times, 14 March 2010
  20. Mark Mazzetti, “U.S. Is Still Using Private Spy Ring, Despite Doubts,” The New York Times, 15 May 2010
  21. Thom Shanker and Eric Schmitt, “Special Operations Veterans Rise in Hierarchy,” The New York Times, 8 August 2011
  22. Elisabeth Bumiller and Thom Shanker, “Obama Puts His Stamp on Strategy for a Leaner Military,” The New York Times, 5 January 2012
  23. Eric Schmitt, Mark Mazzetti and Thom Shanker, “Admiral Seeks Freer Hand in Deployment of Elite Forces,” The New York Times, 12 February 2012
  24. Ibid.
  25. David S. Cloud, “U.S. special forces commander seeks to expand operations,” Los Angeles Times, 4 May 2012
  26. Eric Schmitt and Thom Shanker, “A Commander Seeks to Chart a New Path for Special Operations,” The New York Times, 1 May 2013
  27. Nick Turse, “How Obama’s destabilizing the world,” Salon, 19 September 2011
  28. Walter Pincus, “Special Operations wins in 2014 budget,” The Washington Post, 11 April 2013
  29. David Isenberg, “The Globalisation of U.S. Special Operations Forces,” IPS News, 24 May 2012
  30. Tom Bowman, “U.S. Military Builds Up Its Presence In Africa,” NPR, 25 December 2012; and Lolita C. Baldor, “Army teams going to Africa as terror threat grows,” Yahoo! News, 24 December 2012
  31. Nick Turse, “The Startling Size of US Military Operations in Africa,” Mother Jones, 6 September 2013

October 24, 2013 Posted by | Deception, Militarism, Progressive Hypocrite, Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What If Obamacare Was A Fighter Jet?

By JP Sottile | News Vandal | October 23, 2013

Imagine if you will… an epic government failure.

Chronic mismanagement and cost over-runs. Incomplete software coding, timely political donations and undelivered promises. And zero accountability.

Now, imagine the outrage.

No, really. You will actually have to imagine the outrage.

That’s because The Great American Outrage Machine™ has no interest in generating a scandal around the ultimate example of government failure: the F-35 fighter jet.

Like the comically bad roll-out of the Affordable Care Act’s website, the long-delayed and often-rejiggered F-35 program is a costly disaster rife with technological snafus, software problems and repeated contractor incompetence.

Unlike the circle-jerk of posturing, pontification and media preoccupation that gave us The Shutdown of 2013, the “first $1 trillion weapon system in history” has quietly metastasized into a debacle that is, to quote Sen. John McCain, “worse than a disgrace.”

And although increasingly well-compensated contractors will “surge” over the next few weeks to remediate the epic fail of a healthcare website that has ballooned from an estimated cost of $94 million to over $400 million, it pales in comparison to an “aerospace megaproject” that is seven years behind schedule and 70% over the initial budget estimate of $233 billion—all to deliver 409 fewer planes than originally planned.

Even worse, a recent report by the Pentagon’s Inspector General detailed an array of management and quality-assurance problems at Lockheed Martin’s production facility in Fort Worth, Texas, all of which contributed to over 200 repairs on each plane. Of course, each of those repairs translates into added cost to the taxpayer-funded program. Citing the report, McClatchy’s James Rosen noted that beyond the 28 “major” problems among the total of 70 found at Lockheed’s Fort Worth facility, there were another 119 “major issues at Lockheed’s five main subcontractors’ plants.”

Despite these problems, the F-35 program soldiered on through the Congressional budget process, thus far emerging both “unscathed” by budget battles and immune to the “indiscriminate” cuts imposed by The Sequester.

Perhaps not coincidentally, the IG’s report was completed at the end of 2012, but was not released until September 30th of this year—months after the House approved $600 billion of Pentagon spending and weeks after the Senate Armed Service Committee submitted its slightly less fruitful version of the defense spending bill.

And Lockheed used the long interregnum between the completion and release of the IG’s report to simply dismiss its claims as “out-of-date” and functionally irrelevant. It is true that Lockheed has trimmed the per plane cost from, according to the Project on Government Oversight, a peak of $161 million per plane to $133 million in 2012 and, if Lockheed is to be believed, downward over the next few years to somewhere between $114 million and $156 million per plane, depending on model specifications, engine options, retrofits and upgrades.

If these numbers are a bit mindboggling, it is only the tip of a giant contracting iceberg uncovered by Adam Ciralsky in a lengthy Vanity Fair exposé of the F-35 program. It reads like anti-government porn for hot and bothered budget hawks. Here are some of the “sexier” details:

  • Looking for software coding issues? Lockheed’s got ’em. The F-35 will not be “fully-functional” until Lockheed’s rapidly expanding pool of software engineers finally delivers 8.6 million lines of code. Also, proper maintenance of the planes is delayed until another 10 million lines of code are written and uploaded to maintenance computers.
  • How about design flaws? There have been many, but none sums up the problems more than the case of the $500,000 helmet that had to be developed to compensate for the massive, dangerous blind-spots created by a visually restrictive cockpit design.
  • What about incompetence? The stealthy design of the F-35 may have been sold as state-of-the-art, but continual redesigns have literally slowed down the plane. The special radar-evading coating was changed in mid-production, but the new coating bubbles and peels at high speeds, meaning the planes are restricted from flying at or above supersonic speeds until Lockheed can remediate the problem.

But the real takeaway of Ciralsky’s story is something called Total System Performance Responsibility. It refers to a type of “Performance Based Logistics” (PBL) that “revolutionized” the way the Pentagon issued contracts by putting more “responsibility” (a.k.a. “power”) in the hands of the contractor. This “innovative thinking” in the Pentagon’s contracting process promised to free-up the creative power of the private sector by removing the oppressive power of government oversight.

Sure, it sounds like something Ayn Rand wrote in a love letter to Milton Friedman. But this deadly serious idea took flight at the start of Bush the Younger’s administration and it portended a decade of defense contractors gone wild—particularly in Iraq and Afghanistan.

What it meant for the F-35 contract was, according to Ciralsky, that “…Lockheed was given near-total responsibility for design, development, testing, fielding, and production.” Instead of oversight along the way, “… the Pentagon gave Lockheed a pot of money and a general outline of what was expected.”

Which brings the story back around to Healthcare.gov.

Like the open-ended Total System Performance Responsibility contract system used by the Pentagon, various agencies tasked with launching the Affordable Care Act sometimes awarded Indefinite Delivery/Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ) contracts—as is the case with the now infamous deal GCI Federal received to “build” the website. And yes, an IDIQ contract is exactly like it sounds—it is a broadly-defined trough with few parameters and little oversight, kinda like your plate during the “Oceans of Shrimp” promotion at Golden Corral.

Sadly, IDIQ contracts are not unusual. Nor is the practice of contractors giving well-timed political donations.

The Beltway is teeming with companies drawn to the recession-proof feeding frenzy chummed by members of Congress and various political appointees. Fifty-five companies got a piece of the Affordable Care Act. But only a select few hook “free from oversight” mega-deals like the one secured by Lockheed Martin.

Unsurprisingly, some of the winners of the ACA rollout are well-practiced anglers of tax dollars. Yup, the Sunlight Foundation found that defense giants like Booz Allen Hamilton ($2.6m), Northrop Grumman ($1.66m) and Science Applications International Corp. ($1.77m) couldn’t resist getting “a taste” of the ACA. The big winner was General Dynamics’ subsidiary Vangent ($28m), which they acquired just in time to belly up to the ACA trough.

Meanwhile, the Pentagon served up $6.3 billion worth of contracts during the Obamacare-inspired shutdown. So, the corporate feasting continued even as taxpayers were force-fed a bogus debate over a “government takeover of healthcare,” which is little more than a legally-binding promise under the ACA to enshrine in perpetuity the profitable health insurance industry and its massive, private bureaucracies. An actual government takeover would’ve replaced health insurance with healthcare. But that didn’t happen.

And the punchline of this grand budgetary joke?

Lockheed has prospered beyond its expectations. They just beat estimates for the 3rd quarter of this year! And General Dynamics just scored a $3 billion missile deal!

When it comes to securing their profitable contracts, government failure is not an option.

October 24, 2013 Posted by | Economics, Militarism | , | Leave a comment

As ye sow, so shall ye reap

By Paul Craig Roberts – Press TV – October 23, 2013

Americans, even well-informed ones, don’t know all of the mistakes made by neoconized and corrupted Washington in the past two decades. However, enough is known to see that the US has lost economic and political power, and that the loss is irreversible.

The economic cost of this loss will be born by what remains of the middle class and the increasingly poverty-stricken lower class. The one percent will have offshore gold holdings and large sums of money in foreign currencies and other foreign assets to see them through.

In the political arena, the collapse of the Soviet Union presented Washington with the grand opportunity to reallocate the Pentagon budget to other uses. Part of the reduction could have been returned to taxpayers for their own use. Another part could have been used to improve worn out infrastructure. And another part could have been used to repair and improve the social safety net, thus insuring domestic tranquility. A final, but perhaps most important part, could have been used to begin repaying the Treasury IOUs in the Social Security Trust Fund from which Washington has borrowed and spent $2 trillion, leaving non-marketable IOUs in the place of the Social Security payroll tax revenues that Washington raided in order to fund its wars and current operations.

Instead, influenced by neoconservative warmongers who advocated America using its “sole superpower” status to establish hegemony over the world, Washington let hubris and arrogance run away with it. The consequence was that Washington destroyed its soft power with lies and war crimes, only to find that its military power was insufficient to support its occupation of Iraq, its conquest of Afghanistan, and its financial imperialism.

Now seen universally as a lawless warmonger and a nuisance, Washington’s soft power has been squandered. With its influence on the wane, Washington has become more of a bully. In response, the rest of the world is isolating Washington.

The prime minister of India, Manmohan Singh, recently declared China and Russia to be India’s “most important partners” with whom India shares “common strategic interests.” Prime Minister Singh said: “ India and Russia have always had a convergence of views on global and regional issues, and we value Russia’s perspective on international developments of mutual interest.”

India joined China in expressing concerns about the Federal Reserve’s practice of printing money in order to cover Washington’s vast red ink. The BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) are taking steps to create their own method of settling trade accounts in order to protect themselves from the looming dollar implosion,

China has forcefully called for a “de-Americanized world.” After watching the “superpower” offshore a large part of its GDP to China and then add to the diminished tax base the burden of $6 trillion in wars that brought no booty and served no US interest, China has concluded that American power is spent. The London Telegraph thinks “it is only a matter of time before the renminbi replaces the dollar as the primary currency for trading commodities and resources.”

The Obama regime attempted to attack Syria based on the sort of lies that the Bush regime used to invade Iraq, only to be slapped down by the British Parliament and Russian government. This rebuke was followed by the childishness of the government shutdown and threat of default. Consequently, the Washington morons have lost their monopoly on economic and political leadership. A few days ago the British government announced a historic agreement that permits British investors direct access to China’s markets and allows Chinese banks to expand their operations in Great Britain.

In Australia, the US dollar will no longer be used as the currency in which to settle the Australian trade accounts with China. Instead of dollars, trade will be settled in the Chinese currency.

Washington served as cheerleader, as did most economists and libertarians, while US corporations, greedy for short-term profits and executive bonuses, offshored US industry and manufacturing, calling it free trade. The obvious and predicted result is that China’s demand for resources needed to fuel its industrial and manufacturing power now dominates markets. This means that the US dollar is being displaced as world currency. The only market that America dominates is the market for financial fraud.

When industrial, manufacturing, and tradeable professional service jobs are offshored, they take US GDP and tax base with them. The foreign country gets the benefit of the relocated economic activity. Due to the revenues lost from jobs offshoring, there is a large gap between federal revenues and federal expenditures. As Washington’s irresponsible behavior has raised so many doubts about the dollar’s value and the government’s commitment to stand behind its massive debt, foreign countries with trade surpluses with the US are less and less willing to recycle those surpluses into the purchase of US Treasury debt.

Today the two largest holders of US Treasury debt are not investors or even foreign central banks. The two largest holders are the Federal Reserve and the Social Security Trust Fund.

As for those $6 trillion wars, that’s to pay for national defense to protect us from women, children, and village elders in far away countries devoid of air forces and navies, and to provide those recycled taxpayer monies from the military/security complex that find their way into political contributions.

The Wall Street gangsters sighed for relief over the last minute debt ceiling agreement. This shows how short-term Wall Street’s outlook is. All the October agreement did was to push off the crisis to January and February. The “debt ceiling agreement” did not produce a new debt ceiling that would last beyond February, and it did not resolve the large difference between federal revenues and expenditures. In other words, the can was again kicked down the road. A repeat of the October fiasco won’t play well.

Obamacare is causing the premiums on private insurance polices to rise substantially, almost doubling in some situations unless people move to the uncertain exchanges, and Obamacare’s raid on Medicare payroll tax revenues has resulted in a cut in Medicare payments to health care providers. The result is a further reduction in consumer discretionary income and a further drop in the economy.

This in turn means a larger federal budget deficit and the need for the Federal Reserve to purchase more debt.

Another reason the Federal Reserve is faced with increasing, not tapering, quantitative easing (money printing) is the decline in foreign purchases of US Treasury bills, notes, and bonds. As the instruments pay interest that is less than the rate of inflation, holding Treasury debt makes no sense when the dollar’s value and the potential of default are open questions.

According to reports, not only are foreign governments, such as China, ceasing to buy US Treasury debt, China has started to sell off its holdings, substituting gold in the place of US Treasury debt.

This means that the bonds must be purchased by the Fed or interest rates will rise as the increased supply of bonds on the market drives down bond prices. The only way the Fed can purchase a larger supply of bonds is by printing more money, that is, by more quantitative easing.

With the world moving away from using the dollar to settle international accounts, as the Fed prints more dollars the rate at which foreign holders of dollar assets sell off their holdings will rise.

To get out of dollars requires that the dollar proceeds from selling Treasuries, US stocks and US real estate be sold in the currency markets. The selling of dollars drives down the exchange value of the US dollar and results in rising US inflation. The Fed can print money with which to purchase Treasury debt, but it cannot print foreign currencies with which to purchase dollars.

The decline in the dollar’s exchange value and the domestic inflation that results will force the Fed to stop printing. What then covers the gap between revenues and expenditures? The likely answer is private pensions and any other asset that Washington can get its hands on.

Initially, private pensions will be taxed at a rate to recover the tax-free accumulation in the pensions. The second year a national emergency will be used to confiscate some share of pensions. Those relying on the pensions will find themselves with less income. Consumer spending will decline. The economy will worsen. The deficit will widen.

You can see where this is going, and there seems to be no way out. Policymakers, economists, and corporation executives are in denial about the adverse effects of offshoring, which they still, despite all the evidence, maintain is good for the economy. So nothing will be done about offshoring. Republicans will blame the budget deficit on welfare and entitlements, and if those are cut consumer spending will decline further, widening the budget deficit. Inflation will rise as incomes fall, and social cohesion will break down.

Now you know why Homeland Security purchased 1.6 billion rounds of ammunition, enough ammunition to fight the Iraq war for 12 years, has its own para-military force and 2,700 tanks. If you think the “terrorist threat” in America warrants a domestic armed force of this size, you are out of your mind. This force has been assembled to deal with starving and homeless people in the streets of America.

September employment report: According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), September brought 148,000 new jobs, enough to keep up with population growth but not reduce the unemployment rate. Moreover, John Williams (shadowstats.com) says that one-third of these jobs, or 50,000 per month on average, are phantom jobs produced by the birth-death model that during difficult economic times overestimates the number of new jobs from business startups and underestimates job losses from business failures.

The BLS reports that 22,000 of September’s jobs were new hires by state governments, which seems odd in view of the ongoing state budgetary difficulties.

In the private sector, wholesale and retail trade produced 36,900 new jobs, which seems odd in light of the absence of growth in real median family income and real retail sales.

Transportation and warehousing produced 23,400 new jobs, concentrated in transit and ground passenger transportation. This also seems odd unless the price of gasoline and pinched budgets are forcing people onto public transportation.

Professional and business services accounted for 32,000 jobs of which 63% are temporary help jobs.

So here you have the job picture that the presstitutes, hyping “the jobs gain,” don’t tell you. The scary part of the September job report is that the usual standby, the category of waitresses and bartenders, which has accounted for a large part of every reported jobs gain since I began reporting the monthly statistics, shows job loss. Seven thousand one hundred waitresses and bartenders lost their jobs in September. If this figure is not a fluke, it is bad news. It signals that fewer Americans can afford to eat and drink out.

The unemployment rate that is reported is the rate that does not count as unemployed discouraged workers who are unable to find jobs and cease to look. This favored rate, the darling of the regime in power, the presstitutes, and Wall Street, also is not adjusted for the category of “involuntary part-time workers,” those whose hours have been cut back or because they are unable to find a full-time job. Obamacare, as is widely reported, is causing employers to shift their work forces from full time to part time in order to avoid costs associated with Obamacare. The BLS places the number of involuntary part-time workers at 7,900,000.

The announced 7.2% unemployment rate is a meaningless number. The rate can decline for no other reason than people unable to find jobs drop out of the work force. You are not counted in the work force if you are discouraged about finding a job and no longer look for a job.

The phenomena of discouraged workers shows up in the measure of the labor force participation rate, which has declined in the 21st century. The opportunities for American labor are so restricted that a rising percentage of the working age population have given up looking for jobs.

Yet, the Obama regime, the Wall Street gangsters, and the pressitute media tell us how much better the economic situation is becoming as more small businesses close, as memberships decline in golf clubs, as more university graduates return home to live with their parents, who are drawing down their savings to live, as Fed Chairman Bernanke has made it impossible for them to live on interest payments on their savings.

According to the US census bureau, real median household income in 2012 was $51,017, down 9% from $56,080 in 1999, 13 years ago. In contrast, annual compensation in 2012 for US CEOs broke all records. Two CEOs were paid more than $1 billion, and the worst paid among the top ten took home $100 million. When the presstitutes speak of economic recovery, they mean recovery for the one percent.

America is in the toilet, and the rest of the world knows it. But the neocons who rule in Washington and their Israeli ally are determined that Washington start yet more wars to create lebensraum for Israel.

Early in the 21st century the liberal Democrat Senator from New York, Chuck Schumer, and I coauthored an article in the New York Times about the adverse effects on the US economy of jobs offshoring. The article caused a sensation. The Brookings Institution in Washington quickly convened a conference which was covered by C-SPAN. C-SPAN rebroadcast the conference several times. During the conference I said that if jobs offshoring continued, the US would be a third world economy in 20 years.

Wall Street quickly shut up Senator Schumer, but I am sticking by my forecast. Indeed, I think we are already there.

October 24, 2013 Posted by | Economics, Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , , | 2 Comments

TSA Runs Background Checks of U.S. Passengers before They Arrive at the Airport

By Noel Brinkerhoff and Danny Biederman | AllGov | October 23, 2013

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has broadened its screening of passengers before they arrive at the airport by using government and private databases revealing personal information.

The expanded screening, which used to apply only to people entering the United States, now affects domestic travelers, and can include TSA agents reviewing car registrations and employment information.

“It is unclear precisely what information the agency is relying upon to make these risk assessments, given the extensive range of records it can access, including tax identification number, past travel itineraries, property records, physical characteristics, and law enforcement or intelligence information,” Susan Stellin wrote for The New York Times.

TSA claims that the purpose of the expanded passenger data scans is to identify low-risk passengers in order to lighten their security screening at the airport and thus make actual searches more targeted. The agency’s goal is to be able to do that with 25% of all passengers by the end of 2014. Those designated low-risk travelers will get to move through a separate line and be able to keep their shoes and jackets on.

Privacy groups expressed concern over the TSA’s widening reach into people’s personal records.

Previously, the air travel background checks, called Secure Flight, only involved a comparison of a passenger’s name, gender and date of birth to terrorist watch list data. Now it is clearly much more.

“I think the best way to look at it is as a pre-crime assessment every time you fly,” Edward Hasbrouck, a consultant to the Identity Project, one of the groups that oppose the prescreening initiatives, told the Times. “The default will be the highest, most intrusive level of search, and anything less will be conditioned on providing some additional information in some fashion.”

TSA has not announced details of the program, but it reportedly has already been launched.

To Learn More:

Security Check Now Starts Long Before You Fly (by Susan Stellin, New York Times)

As TSA Expands beyond Airports, Concerns are Raised over Warrantless Searches (by Noel Brinkerhoff and Danny Biederman, AllGov)

TSA Spreads to Trains, Subways, Bus Terminals and Ferries (by Noel Brinkerhoff and David Wallechinsky, AllGov)

Tennessee First State to Allow TSA Highway Random Search Program (by David Wallechinsky and Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)

October 24, 2013 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Corruption, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , | Leave a comment

Clerical Blunder Reveals TSA Considers Airport Terrorist Attack Unlikely

By JACK BOUBOUSHIAN | Courthouse News | October 22, 2013

Classified TSA documents revealed by clerical error show that the agency does not think terrorists are plotting to attack airplanes, suggesting that nude body scans are unnecessary to protect passengers.

After Rapiscan developed “backscatter” body scanners using Advanced Imaging Technology in 2007, Jonathan Corbett sued the Transportation Security Administration three years later.

He claimed that the TSA procedures violated the Fourth Amendment’s prohibition against unreasonable searches in requiring agents to touch the passengers’ private areas and let them see clear images of the passengers’ nude bodies.

Corbett claimed that the “the abstract risk[s] of terrorism without a credible, specific threat” does not justify the unreasonable screening procedures, which are performed without probable cause or a search warrant.

“The nude body scanners serve to palpate every inch of skin, this time with electromagnetic radiation rather than fingers,” he wrote in a recent brief. “Every crevice, fold, and bump is turned into a picture of the traveler’s nude body. It is, essentially, the high-tech version of an invasive pat-down.”

After a federal judge found in 2011 that only federal courts of appeals can hear challenges to TSA orders, Corbett’s case is now pending before the 11th Circuit.

In the course of discovery, the TSA gave Corbett classified documents, which he incorporated into the brief that he filed under seal.

A clerk at the 11th Circuit somehow neglected to place the document under seal, however, allowing the public to see the redacted information.

This mistake revealed the TSA’s apparent admission that terrorists are unlikely to target airports in a subsequent attack.

“As of mid-2011, terrorist threat groups present in the Homeland are not known to be actively plotting against civil aviation targets or airports; instead, their focus is on fundraising, recruiting, and propagandizing,” the TSA said.

In addition, the brief states that “the government concedes that it would be difficult to have a repeat of 9/11 due to hardened cockpit doors and the willingness of passengers to challenge hijackers rather than assume a hijacking merely means a diversion to Cuba. The government also credits updated pre-flight security for that difficulty assessment, but the assessment was written before the en masse deployment of body scanners and before the update to the pat-down procedure. Further, the government admits that there have been no attempted domestic hijackings of any kind in the 12 years since 9/11.”

The nude body scanners are not very good at detecting explosives, and almost everything caught by the machine, such as guns, could be found using a traditional metal detector, Corbett says.

The only thing the scanners allegedly excel at over a metal detector is finding illegal drugs, which do not threaten the safety of passengers.

Because less intrusive, but equally effective, search methods exist, the TSA’s use of nude scanners and full pat-downs is unnecessary and unconstitutional, according to the brief Corbett filed pro se.

“The limited support that the TSA has for the nude body scanners and pat-down procedures in Congress, in the eyes of the public, and in the courts so far is a direct result of the TSA’s insistence that these devices are necessary to mitigate the threat of non-metallic explosives,” it states. “When given the choice between sacrificing some of their privacy or risk being blown up, many people – especially politicians who would not want to have the finger pointed at them for being ‘responsible’ for allowing the next terrorist attack to happen – choose the former.

“However, this is a false choice, and the TSA has deliberately misled the public, Congress, and the courts into concluding that no less invasive alternatives can ‘do the job.’ At least three other technologies are available to the TSA for the purpose of screening travelers for explosives, and a review of the administrative record shows that the TSA’s decision to use nude body scanners and pat-downs over these other technologies was arbitrary and capricious.” 

October 24, 2013 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , | Leave a comment

NSA spied on 125bn phone calls in one month

Press TV – October 24, 2013

The US National Security Agency monitored nearly 125 billion phone calls from around the world in just one month, including around 3 billion calls from US soil, according to documents released by whistleblower Edward J. Snowden.

The sheer extent of the NSA’s data collection effort was compiled from multiple sources and organized on Wednesday by members of intelligence website Cryptome, which regularly publishes government documents and other information.

The majority of calls monitored by the NSA originated from Afghanistan and Pakistan, where 13.76 billion and 21.98 billion calls were respectively collected during January 2013, according to the Boundless Informant “heat map” revealed by the Guardian.

Billions of phone calls were also recorded from countries in the Middle East, including Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Iran and Jordan.

Additionally, some 6.28 billion calls from India were collected. An estimated 3 billion US phone communications were also tapped by the NSA.

Perhaps the most controversial element of the NSA spying program is the effort to collect phone data from Western nations that have friendly relations with the US.

Germany, France and several other countries have expressed concerns about US spying after Snowden, former NSA contractor, revealed classified information about US surveillance programs.

The chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin Dempsey, admitted in July that Snowden’s exposés have seriously damaged US ties with other countries. “There has been damage. I don’t think we actually have been able to determine the depth of that damage.”

October 24, 2013 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Corruption, Deception, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , , | Leave a comment

EU votes to suspend deal with US over spying scandal

Press TV – October 24, 2013

Members of the European Parliament (EP) have voted to suspend a security agreement with the United States, amid growing concerns over US spying activities against Europe.

“The EU should suspend its Terrorist Finance Tracking Program (TFTP) agreement with the US in response to the US National Security Agency’s alleged tapping of EU citizens’ bank data held by the Belgian company SWIFT,” read a resolution passed by the EP on Wednesday by 280 votes to 254 and 30 abstentions.

While the resolution is non-binding, the EP stressed that it “will take account of the European Commission’s response to this demand when considering whether to give its consent to future international agreements.”

In 2010, the European Union and the United States agreed on the TFTP, which allowed the US limited access to the global financial database SWIFT as part of an anti-terrorism campaign.

The Wednesday vote came, however, after revelations by former American intelligence contractor Edward Snowden that the United States was using the access to spy on Europe instead of using it for counterterrorism purposes.

The European lawmakers also called on EU member states to launch an investigation into the reports on the US espionage involving SWIFT.

Revelations of massive spying operations by the United States have triggered condemnations across Europe and Latin America.

In a latest revelation, Snowden said Washington has spied on the phone conversations of German chancellor Angela Merkel. The disclosure prompted the German chancellor to call US President Barack Obama to seek reassurance that her phone calls were no more targeted by US spying.

On October 21, the French newspaper Le Monde disclosed massive surveillance by the US on French citizens and diplomats. The news angered French President Francois Hollande, who expressed “extreme reprobation” for the reported collection by the US of 70 million digital communications between December 10, 2012 and January 8, 2013.

October 24, 2013 Posted by | Corruption, Deception, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , , | Leave a comment