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ISIS Iraq Offensive: Can the Empire Reassert Control of the Jihadists?

By Glen Ford | Black Agenda Report | June 17, 2014

The United States is considering whether to bomb ISIS, a jihadist Frankenstein of Washington’s own making, whose breathtaking offensive in northern Iraq threatens the survival of the Shiite-dominated regime. Many on the Left surmise that U.S. intelligence is the evil genius behind the ISIS-led Sunni seizure of Iraq’s second largest city, Mosul, and a string of population centers stretching towards Baghdad, as well as the Kurdish takeover of Kirkuk, the oil center on the edge of de-facto autonomous Kurdistan. However, such an assessment posits the U.S. and its European, Turkish, Israeli and monarchist Arab allies as masters of the universe, fully in charge, when in reality, they operate from a position of profound political and moral weakness in the region – which has led to dependence on jihadists. And, the jihadists know it.

It is true that the U.S. has been the great enabler of ISIS (the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria), its al Qaida-inspired rival Jabhat al-Nusra, and the smaller Islamist outfits that have been arrayed against the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for the last three years. (As even the New York Times admits, all of the significant armed opposition in Syria consider themselves Islamist warriors of one kind or another.) But, too often, western leftists assume the jihadists are merely wind-me-up robots that can be pointed at designated targets, and then turned on or off or put on hold at the CIA’s whim, as if they have no ideology and agency of their own, but exist for the convenience of Empire.

In the real world, the U.S. can only point armed takfiris in directions they already want to go: at secular opponents like Muammar Gaddafi or a Shiite-dominated (Alawite) government in Damascus (and, in decades gone by, at atheistic Soviets in Afghanistan). But, when the means are available and the time is right, by their reckoning, they will pursue their own objectives, such as establishing a caliphate in Sunni areas of Iraq and Syria and waging endless war against Shiites wherever they find them – which is the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria’s reason for being. To assume, as some do, that the ISIS-led blitzkrieg in northern Iraq is part of a grand U.S. plan, is to dismiss jihadists as a genuine indigenous presence in the region, as well as to minimize country-wide Sunni grievances against the Shiite regime, which has called forth a kind of Sunni united front against Baghdad.

It also assumes the U.S. has decided it has no further use for a viable Iraqi state, with or without already semi-independent Kurdistan, and that Washington would rather create conditions that would risk further solidifying Shiite Iraq’s ties to Iran, thus creating an even larger oil giant outside the sphere of U.S. hegemony. It assumes that the U.S. would purposely create a situation in which it might be compelled to deal with Iran as an equal player in a zone of great economic and political importance – a prospect that looms, as we write.

There is no question that the United States, like the European colonizers, has often pursued a general strategy to break up states (whose boundaries they often imposed, in the first place), so as to better manipulate them, and that this was an active option for Washington in Iraq in the early years of occupation. However, this does not mean that miniaturizing states is the holy grail of imperialism, under all circumstances. The truth is, the U.S. got as good a deal as it could have expected in Iraq, under circumstances of defeat– which is why George Bush agreed to the principle of total withdrawal by the end of 2011. The U.S. hung on to influence in Iraq, through the corrupt and sectarian al-Maliki government, by the skin of its teeth. (Remember that there was significant Shiite sentiment to cut all ties to Washington, in the person and militia of Muqtada al-Sadr, who launched two uprisings and called for a common front with Sunnis against the American occupiers.) U.S. policymakers are not the brightest people in the world, but rolling the dice in Iraq – where ‘craps’ could leave the U.S. in a far worse position – is simply not worth the risk at this time.

Indeed, the ISIS offensive, in which all the jihadist savageries of Syria (and Libya before it) are replayed in yet another theater of U.S.-subsidized war, presents such grave contradictions for U.S. policy in Syria as to hasten its collapse on that front.

How can the U.S. bomb ISIS jihadists in Iraq and not bomb them in Syria (along with al-Qaida affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra, and all the other takfiris, now that the Free Syrian Army mirage has vanished)?

As a superpower, the U.S. always has options (“all options are on the table”), but that doesn’t mean any of them are good – and it certainly does not mean that every desperate option that Washington avails itself of is part of the grand plan. The U.S. has relied on jihadists in the region, especially since the so-called Arab Spring, not because it wanted to, but because they were the only foot soldiers available to reassert Euro-American and Gulf potentates’ power. Without the jihadists, the imperialists could only bomb Gaddafi and sanction Assad – but on behalf of whom? An armed “opposition” had to be created on the ground, which only the Salafists could effectively provide. The wholesale unleashing of the jihadist dogs of war was a sign of profound imperial weakness in the Arab world, where the U.S. is hated with a kinetic intensity and the monarchs shiver at the thought of what their own people would like to do to them – and what the jihadists will do to them, if the young warriors are not exported and kept busy.

Thirty-five years ago, the U.S. and Saudi Arabia, in collaboration with Pakistan, spent billions to create an international jihadist network that had not previously existed, to bedevil the Soviets in Afghanistan. The U.S. did not invent Salafists, Wahhabism and takfiris; they are indigenous to various Muslim cultures. However, their incorporation into the imperialist armory gave this most reactionary brand of Islamic fundamentalism a global presence, capability and vision. It behaves like a form of nationalism – much like the old, secular Arab nationalism of the Fifties and Sixties, only from the Muslim Right. No respecter of borders, it seeks to unite, protect and wage war on behalf of, the “Ummah” – the “community” or “nation” of believers. As a nationalist-like current, it is inherently incompatible with U.S.-led imperialism, and will also inevitably turn on the paymasters in the obscenely corrupt Gulf monarchies. (The half a billion dollars ISIS seized from Mosul banks will surely hasten the process.)

The jihadists cannot be controlled by their imperial enablers – as the U.S. ambassador to Libya learned, in his last moments – not reliably, in the short term, and not at all in the long term. The contradictions of the relationship are now acute, the unraveling has begun, and the U.S. has no substitute for the services the jihadists provided to Empire.

So, yes, the ISIS-led offensive in Iraq is a horrific crisis for the peoples of the region, another descent into Hell. But it is also a crisis for U.S. imperialism, whose options diminish by the day.

Glen Ford can be contacted at

June 23, 2014 Posted by | Timeless or most popular | , , , , | 1 Comment

The Soaring Profits of the Military – Industrial Complex And the Soaring Costs of Military Casualties

By James Petras :: 06.21.2014


The launch of two major wars by the US government had two major beneficiaries, one domestic and one foreign. The three major weapons manufacturers, Lockheed Martin (LMT), Northrop Grumman (NOG) and Raytheon (RTN) have delivered record-shattering returns to investors, CEOs and investment banks during the past decade and a half.

The Israeli regime has expanded its territory and increased its power and influence in the Middle East. Israel’s territorial dispossession of Palestinians, was aided and abetted by the US invasion and destruction of the Palestinian’s Iraqi allies. Washington destroyed Iraq’s armed forces and fragmented its society and state.

The cost in US physical and mental casualties runs in the hundreds of thousands of soldiers who at one time served in the war zones. The financial costs run in the trillions of dollars and counting. Both the military-industrial complex and the pro-Israel power configuration continue to wield a major role in keeping Washington on a wartime footing.

For the weapons manufactures there are no peaceful economic activities that can yield a comparable return – hence the need to continue to pressure for new wars to sustain weapons spending. For the pro-Israel power configuration, peace agreements would put an end to land grabs, reduce or curtail new weapons transfers and undermine pretexts to sanction or bomb countries (like Iran) opposing Tel Aviv’s vision of “Greater Israel”.

Yet the political and financial costs of almost a decade and a half of warfare weigh heavily on the US Treasury and electorate. The wars themselves were dismal failures if not outright defeats. New conflicts have emerged in Syria, Iraq and the Ukraine in which the military-industrial complex and the pro-Israel lobbies hope to capitalize for profits and power.

Yet the cumulative costs of past and continuing wars hangs over the launch of new costly military interventions. Political discontent among the US public with past wars also weighs heavily against new wars for profits and Israel.

War Profits

The power and influence of the military-industrial complex in promoting serial wars is evident in the extraordinary rates of return over the past fifty years. Stocks in military-industries have risen 27,699% versus 6,777% for the broad market according to a recent study by Morgan Stanley (cited in Barron’s, 6/9/14, p. 19). Over the past three years, Raytheon has returned 124%, Northrup Grumman 114% and Lockheed Martin 149%.

The Obama regime talks of reducing the military budget and makes a show of doing so via the annual appropriation bill, and then, uses emergency supplemental funds to pay war costs… which actually increases military spending and fattens the profits for the military-industrial complex.

War profits have soared because of multiple military interventions in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia. The lobbyists for the industry use their influence over Congressional and Pentagon decision-makers to join forces with the pro-Israel lobby to pressure for greater direct US military involvement in Syria, Iraq and Iran. The growing ties between Israeli and US military industries reinforce their political leverage in Washington by working with liberal interventionists and neo-conservatives. They criticize Obama for not bombing Syria and for withdrawing from Iraq and Afghanistan. They call for sending troops to Iraq and the Ukraine. Obama argues that proxy wars do not require heavy US military expenditures. Responding to Wall Street pressure to reduce the budget deficit the Obama regime argues that retreating from Iraq and Afghanistan was necessary to reduce US financial and military losses. But withdrawal also reduces profits for the weapons makers and angers Israel and its supporters in Congress.

The Fight over the Military Budget: Veterans versus the Complex and the Lobby

In the face of rising pressure to reduce the deficit and cut the military budget, the military-industrial complex and its Zionist accomplices are heavily engaged in retaining their share of the military budget, by reducing the amount allocated for the medical programs of active and retired soldiers. Disability costs are soaring and will continue for decades. The cost of health care is expected to double to 15% of the defense budget in five years and according to the financial press “that is bad news for defense stocks” (Barron’s, 6/9/14, p. 19).

In response the military-industries are pressing to close Veterans Administration hospitals and reduce benefits, claiming fraud, incompetence and inferior service. The same corporate warlords and lobbyists who pressed the Government to send American soldiers to wars, in which they lost lives, limbs and mental health, are now in the forefront of the fight to reduce spending on their recovery and health. Economists point out that the less the percentage of the military budget spent on veteran’s health, the greater the share allocated for missiles, warships and war planes. The long term costs for VA medical and disability spending resulting from the Afghan and Iraq wars are at present $900 billion and rising.

The corporate warlords are pressuring Congress to increase co-pays, enrollment fees and deductibles for veterans enrolled in public health plans.

The fight is on over Pentagon expenditures: for soldiers health or weapons programs that fatten the profits of the military industrial complex.

June 23, 2014 Posted by | Economics, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Militarism, Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Five Takeaways from the Newly Released Drone Memo

By Brett Max Kaufman – ACLU – 06/23/2014

This morning, a federal appeals court released a government memorandum, dated July 16, 2010, authorizing both the Department of Defense and the Central Intelligence Agency to kill Anwar al-Aulaqi, a U.S. citizen, in Yemen.

The publication of the Office of Legal Counsel memo comes, as the court noted, after a lengthy delay. The ACLU (along with the New York Times) has been fighting for this memo since we first asked for it in a Freedom of Information Act request submitted in October 2011.

Today’s release by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit is an important victory for transparency. But while the memo advances the public record in significant ways, it still does not answer many key questions about the government’s claimed authority to kill U.S. citizens outside of active battlefields. Here are several important takeaways from today’s release.

  1. Rather than more fully explain the government’s theory of “imminence,” the newly released memo fails to address it at all.

1.	High-level government officials have concluded, on the basis of al-Aulaqi's activities in Yemen, that al-Aulaqi is a leader of AQAP whose activities in Yemen pose a 'continued and imminent threat' of violence to United States persons and interests.

The previously disclosed “White Paper” on the targeted killing of U.S. citizens explained the government’s view that “the condition that an operational leader present an ‘imminent’ threat of violent attack against the United States does not require the United States to have clear evidence that a specific attack on U.S. persons and interests will take place in the immediate future.” But rather than give further explanation and clarity to that extraordinary and novel reading of “imminence,” the newly released memo — at least as presently redacted — fails to address that requirement in any detail whatsoever.

The memo, signed by David Barron, then–acting chief of the OLC (and now a newly confirmed First Circuit judge), tells us that “[h]igh-level government officials” determined that al-Aulaqi constituted an “imminent” threat to the United States. But the memo does not explain how the government interprets that requirement, nor does the memo explain the evidentiary standard the officials must meet in order to satisfy it.

  1. Likewise, the memo does not address the circumstances that would make “capture infeasible,” and killing therefore permissible:

2.	In addition to the nature of the threat posed by ai-Aulaqi's activities, both agencies here have represented that they intend to capture rather than target al-Aulaqi if feasible; yet we also understand that an operation by either agency to capture al-Aulaqi in Yemen would be infeasible at this time.

Again, the White Paper summarized the government’s theory about the infeasibility of capture, but the newly released memo adds nothing of substance to that analysis. Importantly, though, the new memo does seem to indicate that its authorization for the targeted killing of al-Aulaqi was intended to be indefinite in duration, requiring only that the CIA and DOD continue to evaluate (without returning to the OLC) “whether changed circumstances” would make capture more feasible.

  1. “Under the facts represented to us . . .” & why judicial review matters

3.	As we explained in our earlier memorandum, Barron Memorandum at 5-7, we do not believe al-Aulaqi' s U.S. citizenship imposes constitutional limitations that would preclude the contemplated lethal action under the facts represented to us by DoD, the CIA and the Intelligence Community.

Throughout the memo, Barron conditions important legal conclusions on “the facts represented to” the OLC by other departments of the executive branch. The memo’s discussion of these facts is redacted, making it impossible for the public to evaluate whether the killing of al-Aulaqi meets even the government’s professed legal standard. Beyond that absence, however, the memo’s repeated conditioning of its conclusions on the version of facts presented by the executive branch makes clear why the government’s rejection of any judicial review in this context — either before or after the fact — is so fundamentally dangerous.

  1. The CIA — officially — has an operational role in the targeted killing program. From the court opinion released with the memo:

4.	The other fact within the legal reasoning portion of the OLC-DOD Memorandum that the Government contends merits secrecy is the identity of the agency, in addition to DOD, that had an operational role in the drone strike that killed al-Awlaki. Both facts were deleted from the April 21 public opinion, but have been restored in this opinion. Apparently not disputing that this fact has been common knowledge for some time, the Government asserts the importance of concealing any official recognition of the agency’s identity. The argument comes too late.

(See the opinion in full, with previously redacted passages highlighted, here.)

Until today, the government had argued that the CIA’s operational involvement in the targeted killing program was an official secret. In this case and in another ACLU FOIA case seeking documents about the program, the official unveiling of this fact should open the door to further disclosures about the CIA’s role in the program and about factual information, like numbers of civilian casualties caused by the program, that the government continues to maintain cannot be disclosed to the public.

  1. There are additional OLC memos addressing the lawfulness and constitutionality of the targeted killing of U.S. citizens — and the government will likely have to release portions of those as well.

5.	The other OLC legal memoranda have not been submitted to this Court for in camera inspection, and we are therefore unable to adjudicate the waiver issue as to these memoranda, nor determine, if waiver has occurred, what portions of these documents must be redacted. It is possible that waiver of any claimed privileges applies to the legal reasoning in these documents for the same reasons applicable to the OLC-DOD Memorandum. On remand, these memoranda must be produced to the District Court for in camera examination and determination of waiver and appropriate redaction, in light of our rulings with respect to disclosure and redaction of the legal reasoning in the OLC-DOD Memorandum.

Together, today’s release and the Second Circuit’s opinion make clear that the public is only just starting to understand the legal and factual basis for the government’s targeted killing program, as a great deal of information crucial to the public debate remains secret. While we will continue to press for additional disclosures in court, the government need not and should not wait for yet another court order before it discloses additional information to which the public is entitled. In the meantime, stay tuned for further analysis from the ACLU about the meaning of today’s release as well as what comes next.

June 23, 2014 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Deception, Progressive Hypocrite, Timeless or most popular | , , | Leave a comment

DOJ Drone Memo: AUMF Trumps All And Rights Are Subject To Arbitrary Revocation In Times Of ‘War’

By Tim Cushing | Techdirt | June 23, 2014

The long-awaited “drone memo” has now been released, and it details the DOJ’s justifications for the extra-judicial killing of American citizens. While the government runs through various permutations of its arguments for “justified” killings, the short version can be boiled down to four letters: AUMF.

The Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Terrorists was passed three days after the 9/11 attacks and is every bit the sort of kneejerk legislation every lawmaker should approach warily, but seldom do. This kicked off America’s “War on Terror,” a “slippery slope battlefield” that has been used to justify everything from domestic surveillance by the NSA to the purchase of cell phone tower spoofers and discarded military vehicles by local police departments.

The memo (which starts at page 67 of the embedded document below — the legal decision ordering the release is above it) starts out with the DOJ doing Congress’ thinking for it. This part discusses the “authority” behind the killings, aligning it roughly with the deadly use of force by law enforcement, something that makes certain killings lawful under certain circumstances.

The justifications listed below constantly cite 18 USC 1119(b), a law that simply states that it’s illegal for a US citizen to kill another US citizen residing outside US borders, making them subject to the United States’ laws on murder and manslaughter. But what looks simple and solid on the law books is apparently filled with loopholes and things Congress meant to make clear but apparently didn’t.

But the recognition that a federal criminal statute may incorporate the public authority justification reflects the fact that it would not make sense to attribute to Congress the intent with respect to each of its criminal statutes to prohibit all covered activities undertaken by public officials in the legitimate exercise of their otherwise lawful authorities, even if Congress has clearly intended to make those same actions a crime when committed by persons who are not acting pursuant to such public authority. In some instances, therefore, the better view of a criminal prohibition may well be that Congress meant to distinguish those persons who are acting pursuant to public authority, at least in some circumstances, from those who are not, even if the statute by terms does not make that distinction express.

What the DOJ basically argues here is that it would be perfectly fine for an NYPD officer to use justified, deadly force to shoot another American overseas. This would seem to be an unlikely event, but the NYPD has sent its officers all over the world in recent years, much to the dismay and irritation of local law enforcement and security agencies.

The DOJ further presses its point by comparing extrajudicial killings to speeding tickets (from the same paragraph as above).

Cf. Nardone v. United States, 302 U.S. 379, 384 (1937) (federal criminal statutes should be construed to exclude authorized conduct of public officers where such a reading “would work obvious absurdity as, for example, the application of a speed law to a policeman pursuing a criminal or the driver of a fire engine responding to an alarm”)

On page 73, the DOJ notes that there’s actually no federal statute that grants the government the same “rights” (in terms of justified use of deadly force) local law enforcement agencies enjoy, but that doesn’t slow down the rationalizing. […]

It goes from there to twisting words around until its convinced they read differently than they actually read. The following argument can best be summed up as: “the killing is justified because the killing is justified.” Because we say its lawful, it must be lawful. (Hence the intense leaning on the AUMF later.)

It is true that here the target of the contemplated operations would be a U.S. citizen. But we do not believe al-Aulaqi ‘s citizenship provides a basis for concluding that section 1119 would fail to incorporate the established public authority justification for a killing in this case. As we have explained, section 119 incorporates the federal murder and manslaughter statutes, and thus its prohibition extends only to “unlawful” killings, 18 U.S.C. §§ 1111, 1112, a category that was intended to include, from all of the evidence of legislative intent we can find, only those killings that may not be permissible in light of traditional justifications for such action. At the time the predecessor versions of sections 1111 and 1112 were enacted, it was understood that killings undertaken in accord with the public authority justification were not “unlawful” because they were justified. There is no indication that, because section 1119(b) proscribes the unlawful killing abroad of U.S. nationals by U.S. nationals, it silently incorporated all justifications for killings except that public authority justification.

Now that the DOJ has established a “right” to conduct extrajudicial killings based mainly on public authority justifications granted to law enforcement, it then discussed whether this can be stretched to cover DoD and CIA operations. Here’s where the DOJ begins wading into the “War on Terror” justifications.

In light of the combination of circumstances that we understand would be present, and which we describe below, we conclude that the justification would be available because the operation would constitute the “lawful conduct of war”-a well-established variant of the public authority justification.

Technically, we’re not “at war” anywhere in the world. There’s no declared war, other than the one on terrorism, which the DOJ terms (using the AUMF wording) a “non-international armed conflict.” If this is the justification, terming anything a “war on…” would justify extrajudicial killing, because no one expects murder charges to be brought against them during normal acts of war (i.e., combatants killing other combatants).

Because the AUMF says we can detain a US citizen who is assisting our enemies, it also means we can kill a US citizen who does the same.

And thus, just as the AUMF authorizes the military detention of a U.S. citizen captured abroad who is part of an armed force within the scope of the AUMF, it also authorizes the use of “necessary and appropriate” lethal force against a U.S. citizen who has joined such an armed force.

The DOJ also discusses the justifications for the CIA’s involvement, but much of that will still remain a mystery. Large portions of this have been redacted, but the discussion does start out with this unintentionally hilarious assertion.

[redacted] — the CIA — [redacted] would conduct the operation in a manner that accords with the rules of international humanitarian law governing this armed conflict…

Maybe in light of its still-unreleased “Torture Report,” the DOJ might want to retract that statement. But the CIA’s justifications apparently aren’t that far off from the DoD’s, and they include the same willingness to put words in Congress’ mouth.

Thus, we conclude that just as Congress did not intend section 1119 to bar the particular attack that DoD contemplates, neither did it intend to prohibit a virtually identical attack on the same target, in the same authorized conflict and in similar compliance with the laws of war, that the CIA would carry out in accord with [redacted].

Finally, the DOJ discusses the rights completely ignored by extrajudicial killing. First, the Fifth Amendment is dismissed because the AUMF trumps all.

In Hamdi, a plurality of the Supreme Court used the Mathews v. Eldridge balancing test to analyze the Fifth Amendment due process rights of a U.S. citizen captured on the battlefield in Afghanistan and detained in the United States who wished to challenge the government’s assertion that he was a part of enemy forces, explaining that “the process due in any given instance is determined by weighing ‘the private interest that will be affected by the official action’ against the Government’s asserted interest, ‘including the function involved’ and the burdens the Government would face in providing greater process.”

“Constitutionality,” in the DOJ’s hands, is mostly about what rights people don’t have.

We believe similar reasoning supports the constitutionality of the contemplated operations here. As explained above, on the facts represented to us, a decision-maker could reasonably decide that the threat posed by al-Aulaqi’s activities to United States persons is “continued” and “imminent…”

The explanation “above” is, of course, redacted.

The DOJ continues on to wave away the Fourth, again using the AUMF as justification.

The Fourth Amendment “reasonableness” test is situation-dependent. Cf Scott, 550 U.S. at 382 (Garner “did not establish a magical on/off switch that triggers rigid preconditions whenever an officer’s actions constitute ‘deadly force'”). What would constitute a reasonable use of lethal force for purposes of domestic law enforcement operations will be very different from what would be reasonable in a situation like such as that at issue here. In the present circumstances, as we understand the facts, the U.S. citizen in question has gone overseas and become part of the forces of an enemy with which the United States is engaged in an armed conflict; that person is engaged in continual planning and direction of attacks upon U.S. persons from one of the enemy’s overseas bases of operations; the U.S. government does not know precisely when such attacks will occur; and a capture operation would be infeasible.

[redacted] at least where high-level government officials have determined that a capture operation overseas is infeasible and that the targeted person is part of a dangerous enemy force and is engaged in activities that pose a continued and imminent threat to U.S. persons or interests the use of lethal force would not violate the Fourth Amendment. [redacted ] and thus that the intrusion on any Fourth Amendment interests would be outweighed by “the importance of the governmental interests [that] justify the intrusion…”

If it’s difficult, don’t try. At least that much agrees with law enforcement rationale. Why get a warrant when exigent circumstances can be abused? Why respect rights when you can claim there’s a “continued” and/or “imminent threat?”

Click here for full article with embedded document below

June 23, 2014 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Progressive Hypocrite, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , | Leave a comment

New high-tech lampposts in Chicago will collect data on weather and people

RT | June 23, 2014

The streets of Chicago, Illinois will soon host some state-of-the-art new technology, but privacy advocates have concerns about certain data collection tools coming to the Windy City.

According to a report published on Monday by Chicago Tribune reporter David Heinzmann, a system of data-collection sensors will start being affixed to light poles and lampposts in the major Midwest hub sometime next month so that researchers and scientists there will have a new way to get their hands on some highly sought after information.

The “Array of Things” project being put together by the University of Chicago and Argonne National Laboratory’s Urban Center for Computation and Data will collect details about air quality, light intensity, sound volume, heat, precipitation and wind, according to Heinzmann’s report, as well as lay the groundwork for a vast infrastructure that will ideally let this kind of data, and even more, be collected for ages to come using additional new sensors. The installation of each utility box will cost less than $500, and officials told the Tribune that they’ll require less than $15 a piece for annual electricity costs. The technology inside the boxes that hold the sensors were developed with more than $1 million in funding from the likes of Cisco, Intel and others, the Tribune noted.

Last month, John Moore of technology website GCN wrote that all of this data will not only be collected to nodes throughout Chicago, but will also be sent to city computers so officials can scour it when in need of examining data trends as future projects are plotted out.

“Our intention is to understand cities better,” computer scientist and Urban Center director Charlie Catlett told the Tribune. “Part of the goal is to make these things essentially a public utility.”

Some say that these unassuming sensors have stepped over the line, though, because in addition to weather details and other seemingly invasive data, the “Array of Things” nodes in the Windy City will also look for cell phone signals being emitted by the mobile devices in the pockets of passersby.

In order to get a better grasp on population density within some parts of Chicago, the sensors being installed will also try to make contact with cell phones in order to get a rough number of how many devices — and presumably how many people — pass through a certain area at any given time.

The architects of the project told the Tribune that they are going to great lengths to insure that personally identifiable information isn’t sucked up, and said so far that any cell phone signals won’t be traceable back to the owner of the device that pings a lamppost sensor.

“We don’t collect things that can identify people. There are no cameras or recording devices,” Catlett told the paper. Sensors will be collecting “sound levels but not recording actual sound. The only imaging will be infrared,” rather than video, he said.

The sensors, Catlett added, “will not save address data, and will only count nearby devices.”

Critics say sucking up more data is inevitable, however, and warn that recording even miniscule amounts of information from cell phones could leave enough of a window for abuse to occur.

“If they do a good job they’ll collect identifiable data. You can (gather) identifiable data with remarkably little information,” Gary King, director of the Institute for Quantitative Social Science at Harvard University, told the Tribune. “You have to be careful. Good things can produce bad things.”

“If you spend a million dollars wiring these boxes, and a company comes in and says ‘We’ll pay you a million dollars to collect personally identifiable information,’ what’s the oversight over those companies?” asked Indiana University privacy expert Fred Cate.

“Almost any data that starts with an individual is going to be identifiable,” Cate said. “You may not care about the fact that it’s personally identifiable. It’s still going to be personally identifiable.”

Indeed, RT has reported extensively in the past about similar up-and-coming technologies that spurred outrage in other locales once considered for adoption. License plate readers that let law enforcement see where automobiles of interest are geographically located have caused concerns in numerous cities and towns across the United States, and lampposts like the ones in Chicago but with the ability to record audio and video has sparked outrage elsewhere.

June 23, 2014 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , | 1 Comment

BNP Paribas near record $9bn settlement for violating US sanctions

RT | June 23, 2014

France’s biggest bank has reportedly agreed an $8-9 billion settlement with US prosecutors over hiding $30 billion in money transfers to countries on the US sanctions blacklist. The fine against BNP Paribas could be a record for this type of violation.

In the proposed settlement, BNP Paribas will plead guilty to criminal charges in early July, The Wall Street Journal reports, citing a source close to the matter. After admitting violating the International Economic Powers Act, the bank will temporarily be banned from doing deals in US dollars. France has warned this could have a negative effect on the stability of the euro zone.

The US Department of Justice is negotiating with BNP Paribas over the infractions, and the penalty could be the biggest of its kind. French President Francois Hollande said the fines are ‘unfair’ and ‘disproportionate’.

In 2012, the US fined HSBC $1.9 billion over similar US sanctions violations, and Credit Suisse pled guilty to concealing sanctions data and paid $2.6 billion in fines.

After examining over $100 billion of transactions, US authorities found that $30 billion were illegally conducted with Iran, Cuba, and Sudan as they are countries sanctioned by the US.

The infraction will force the company to reshuffle its US-based management, according to several sources. The Wall Street Journal reports 30 bank employees have already left, or will soon exit, the company.

First set at $3 billion, the penalty later was rumored to have reached $16 billion before the latest $8-9 billion figure. The largest fine on record for a bank is the $13 billion JPMorgan Chase & Co paid out for pre-crisis mortgage frauds. BNP Paribas has only set aside over $1 billion to pay out any potential fines, and a fine between $8-9 billion could nearly wipe out the company’s entire pre-tax earnings of $11.2 billion.

June 23, 2014 Posted by | Economics | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Jewish Settlers Attack Funeral Of Slain Palestinian In Ramallah


By Saed Bannoura | IMEMC & Agencies | June 22, 2014

Sunday evening a number of fanatic Israeli settlers attacked the funeral of a Palestinian, killed by the Israeli army in al-Biereh, near the central West Bank city of Ramallah, wounding one Palestinian.

The Palestinians were participating in the funeral procession of resident Mohammad at-Tareefi, 30, in Jabal at-Tawil neighborhood, when settlers of the Psagot illegitimate settlement opened fire on them, wounding one resident.

Several minutes later, dozens of soldiers arrived at the scene, and fired live ammunition at the residents, and several homes, in al-Biereh.

The Israeli military attack pushed dozens of residents to advance towards Psagot settlements, and hurl stones at it.

The soldiers chased the residents in Dahiat Jabal at-Tawil and al-Jinan area, while firing dozens of rounds of live ammunition, gas bombs, concussion grenades, and rubber-coated metal bullets.

The funeral procession started in front of the Palestine Medical Center in Ramallah, heading towards the home of the slain Palestinian in Betunia, before advancing towards the Jamal Abdul-Nasser Mosque in al-Biereh city.

At-Tareefy was shot by a live round in his chest during Sunday dawn clashes with Israeli soldiers invading Ramallah.

Israel’s military offensive in different parts of the occupied West Bank started ten days ago, following the disappearance of three Israeli settlers from Gush Etzion settlement, near Bethlehem.

Although Israel said Hamas is behind the “abduction”, Hamas denied the claim.

The ongoing Israeli military invasion led to the abduction of more than 400 Palestinians, many of them are children, and the soldiers invaded and searched more than 1000 areas in the West Bank.

The army alleged uncovering dozens of tunnels under Palestinian homes in the West Bank, and that the soldiers “located underground labs used for the production of explosives”.

The army said Israel had no prior information about the alleged labs and tunnels, but uncovered them during the extensive searches of homes and property.

In a Sunday report by the Palestinian Center for Human Rights, the center said Israeli soldiers shot and killed four Palestinians in the last ten days. Two of them were killed Sunday.

At least 38 Palestinians have been kidnapped by the Israeli army on Sunday, in different parts of the occupied West Bank.

The army also shot and wounded dozens of Palestinians in the ongoing offensive.

June 23, 2014 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture, War Crimes | , , , | 2 Comments

Israeli settlers shoot at Palestinians near Ramallah

Ma’an – 22/06/2014

RAMALLAH – Israeli settlers opened fire at Palestinians northwest of Ramallah late Sunday in the second such incident in hours, locals said.

Two settlers shot at nine men who were working in a quarry near the village of al-Mazraa al-Gharbiya, without causing injuries, the workers told Ma’an.

They said they noticed the settlers sneaking into the quarry and fled the scene as settlers opened fire with an automatic rifle.

After being chased for nearly two miles, the workers reached al-Mazraa al-Gharabiya unscathed, they told Ma’an.

The Palestinians identified themselves as Ismail al-Rajabi, 25, Momen Idriss, 24, Anas Idriss, 18, Yacoub Idriss, 20, Bilal Idriss, 20, Ahmad Jaber, 27, Wael al-Shalaldeh, 32, Mohammad Jaber, 23, and 10-year-old Abd al-Rahman Jaber.

An Israeli army spokeswoman did not immediately return calls seeking comment.

Earlier, a Ma’an reporter said that Israeli settlers opened fire at Palestinians in al-Bireh near Ramallah, injuring one as mourners gathered for the funeral of Muhammad Tarifi.

Tarifi was one of two Palestinians killed by Israeli forces early Sunday.

June 23, 2014 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture | , , | Leave a comment