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Oh Oil, where is thy peak?

By F. William Engdahl – New Eastern Outlook – October 9, 2015

There are two great myths used in recent years to convince the world of imminent catastrophe unless we drastically change our living style in the direction of austerity. Both myths are based on scientific fraud and uncritical propagation by sympathetic mainstream and even some alternative media. One is the idea that world climate is warming, or at least “changing,” owing almost solely to us, to our man-made emissions. The second great myth, launched first in 1956 in Houston Texas by an employee of one of the world’s largest oil companies, was dusted off some 15 years ago at the start of the Dick Cheney-George W. Bush Administration. It’s called the theory of Peak Oil.

The good news is our coastal cities are not about to be washed away by melting icebergs or rising oceans, nor is our supply of conventional oil and gas–hydrocarbons–likely to run out for centuries or more. It has nothing to do with the highly damaging and very costly extraction of tight oil from shale rocks, but with the abundance of conventional oil around the world, the vast part of which has yet to be discovered or even mapped.

The most dramatic discoveries of new oil and gas reserves in recent years has come from the Mediterranean in areas off Cyprus, Israel, Lebanon and believed to be offshore Greece as well. In 2010 Israel and the Houston, Texas company, Noble Energy, discovered the largest offshore gas field, Leviathan. It was the world’s largest gas discovery in a decade, with enough gas to serve Israel for at least a century. The geophysics of the offshore areas around Greece suggest that that hapless country could also have more than enough undiscovered oil and gas to repay all foreign debt and more. Not surprisingly the Washington-led IMF demands that Greece privatize her state oil and gas companies, a near certainty that major Western oil firms would sit on their development as was done in past decades until leases expired in 2004 and reverted back to the Greek Government.

In 2006 Brazil’s Petrobras made the largest offshore oil discovery of the last 30 years, holding at least 8 billion barrels of oil in the Santos Basin 250 kilometers from Rio de Janiero. Then-President Lula da Silva proclaimed it would give the “second independence” for Brazil, that from Western oil imports. In 2008 nearby Petrobras, a state company, discovered an equally large natural gas field called Jupiter near their Santos oil discovery. Under Lula’s presidency, the Parliament passed measures to insure oil development would remain in Brazilian hands under Petrobras and not in those of the American and British or other foreign oil majors. In May 2013 after Lula retired and was succeeded by Dilma Rousseff as President, US Vice President Joe Biden flew to Brazil to meet with her and the heads of Petrobras. According to Brazilian sources, Biden demanded Rousseff remove the laws that kept American oil majors from controlling the huge oil and gas finds. She politely declined and soon after she was hit with a major US Color Revolution destabilization that continues to this day, not surprising, with a scandal around Petrobras at the center.

More recently, Iceland, recovering from her banking crisis, began seriously looking offshore for oil and gas in the Jan Mayen Ridge north of the Arctic Circle in 2012. The geophysics are the same as offshore North Sea and one Icelandic former senior government official told me during a visit some five years ago that a private geological survey indicated Iceland could be a new Norway. According to the US Geological Survey, the Arctic could hold 90 billion barrels of oil, most of which is untapped. China made Iceland a key partner, and the two signed a free-trade agreement in 2013 after China’s CNOOC signed an offshore joint venture in 2012 to explore the offshore.

In April 2015 the energy exploration firm UK Oil & Gas Investments announced it had drilled near Gatwick Airport and found what they estimated could be up to 100 billion barrels of new oil. By comparison the entire North Sea has yielded some 45 billion barrels in 40 years. As well in May, UK oil company Rockhopper announced a new oil discovery in the disputed waters of the Falkland Islands offshore of Argentina believed to contain up to one billion barrels of oil.

Now in August, 2015 the Italian oil company ENI announced discovery of a supergiant gas field in the Egyptian offshore, the largest ever found in the Mediterranean Sea, larger than Israel’s Leviathan. The company announced the field could hold a potential of 30 trillion cubic feet of lean gas in place covering an area of about 100 square kilometres. Zohr is the largest gas discovery ever made in Egypt and in the Mediterranean Sea.

There are huge undeveloped oil and gas reserves in the Caribbean, the area of an impact crater that made numerous fissures and where three active tectonic plates come together and part. Haiti is one such region, as is Cuba. In May the Cuban government released a study that estimated Cuba’s offshore territorial waters held some 20 billion barrels of oil. Russia’s oil subsidiary, Gazprom Neft, has already invested in one section in Cuban waters, and during Russian President Putin’s July, 2014 visit to Havana in which Russia cancelled 90% of Cuban Soviet-era debt worth some $32 billion, Igor Sechin, the CEO of Russia’s state-owned Rosneft, the world’s largest oil company, signed an agreement with Cupet, the Cuban state oil company, to jointly explore the basin off Cuba’s northeast coast. That Russian participation in the huge Cuban oil search might explain the sudden rush of the Obama Administration to “warm up” relations with Cuba.

How oil is ‘born’

The accepted oil industry explanation holds that oil is a finite resource, a so-called fossil fuel, biological in origin, that was created hundreds of millions of years ago by the death of dinosaurs whose detritis by some yet-unidentified physical process transformed into hydrocarbons. The claim is that concentrated biological detritis somehow sank deep into the earth—the world’s deepest oil drilling in Russia’s Sakhalin region, drilled by Exxon, is more than 12 kilometers deep. There it supposedly flowed into underground pockets they call reservoirs. Others say also algae and tree leaves and other biological decayed matter added to the process.

In the 1950s a group of Soviet scientists was tasked with making the USSR self-sufficient in oil and gas as the Cold War heated up. The first step in their research was to critically investigate all known scientific literature on origins of hydrocarbons. As they looked closely at the so-called fossil fuel theory of oil, they were amazed how unscientific it was. One physicist estimated that for the huge oil that has come out of one giant well, Ghawar, in Saudi Arabia, it would require a block of dead dinosaurs, assuming 100% conversion of meat and bone to oil, that would reach 19 miles wide, deep and high. They soon looked for other explanations for the birth of oil.

They made exhaustive tests in the deep-earth research labs in Moscow of the Soviet military. They developed the brilliant hypothesis that oil was constantly being created deep in the bowels of the Earth below the mantle. It pushes upward towards the surface passing through beds of various elements such as ferrite. They did repeated laboratory experiments producing hydrocarbons under temperature and pressure imitating that in the mantle. These migration channels, as the Soviet scientists termed them, were fissures in the mantle caused over millions of years under the expanding of the earth and forced by the enormous temperatures and pressures inside the mantle. The path the initial methane gas takes upwards towards the surface determines whether it emerges and collects as oil or as gas, as coal, as bitumen as in Canada’s Athabasca Tar Sands, or even as diamonds which are also hydrocarbons. The Russian and Ukrainian scientists also discovered, not surprisingly, that every giant oilfield was “self-replenishing,” that is new oil or gas is being constantly pushed up from inside the mantle via the faults or migration channels to replace oil withdrawn. Old oil wells across Russia that were pumped far beyond their natural full rate during the end of the Soviet era when maximum production was considered highest priority, were then shut, considered exhausted. Twenty years later, according to Russian geophysicists I have spoken with, those “depleted” wells are being reopened and, lo and behold, completely refilled with new oil.

The Russians have tested their hypothesis to the present day, though with little support until now from their own government, whose oil companies perhaps feared that a glut of new oil would collapse oil prices. In the west, the last thing Exxon or other Anglo-American oil majors wanted was to lose their (once) iron grip on the world oil market. They had no interest in a theory that would contradict their Peak Oil theory.

‘War for Oil’ nonsense

Today a geopolitical decision by Saudi Arabia to wipe out the market-disturbing recent emergence of the United States as world’s largest oil producer owing to the major increase in shale oil production, has temporarily collapsed world oil prices from over $100 a barrel in July 2014 to around $43 today in the US market. That is leading to a dramatic cut-back in oil exploration around the world. In a fair world, oil or gas should be available at affordable prices to every nation to serve its own energy requirements and not the monopoly of a tiny cartel of British or American companies. Good to know is the fact that the oil and gas are there in super-abundance that we need not freeze in the dark or turn to windmills until the time mankind develops completely different forms of energy that are clean and earth-friendly. Wars to control oil or gas would become silly nonsense.

F. William Engdahl is strategic risk consultant and lecturer, he holds a degree in politics from Princeton University and is a best-selling author on oil and geopolitics.

October 9, 2015 Posted by | Deception, Economics, Malthusian Ideology, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Who’s Protesting in Brazil and Why?

By Bryan Pitts – NACLA – 04/09/2015

Reading the English-language press these days, one could be forgiven for thinking that Brazil is in the throes of a democratic uprising against a singularly corrupt government, a politically incompetent president, and a floundering economy. Since late last year, the center-left Worker’s Party (PT) government headed by President Dilma Rousseff has been rocked by an ever-widening scandal involving over-inflated contracts and kickbacks to government-allied politicians at the state-owned oil giant Petrobrás. Indignant PT militants—rather than lamenting corruption in a party that once ran on its anti-corruption credentials—have tended to attack the media for highlighting PT corruption after ignoring abuses during the 1995-2002 administration of Fernando Henrique Cardoso, as well as similar scandals in state governments controlled by the opposition Party of Brazilian Social Democracy (PSDB).

In part due to the collapse of Petrobrás’s stock, down 67% since the start of September, the Brazilian currency has plunged nearly 40% against the dollar since then. Inflation over the last year has reached nearly 8%, the highest since 2005, inviting Brazilians to nervously recall the hyperinflation of the 1980s and early 1990s. On March 15, nationwide demonstrations organized on social media gathered anywhere from 300,000 to two million protesters in dozens of cities. They brandished signs saying, “Out with the PT!” and demanded Rousseff’s impeachment, although the one-time head of Petrobrás has not been implicated in the kickback scheme and can constitutionally only be impeached for crimes committed during her presidency. In the wake of the demonstrations, the percentage of Brazilians rating her government as “excellent” or “good” dropped to an abysmal 12%, while 64% rated it “poor” or “terrible.” This disapproval rating is the highest for any president since Fernando Collor de Mello’s 68% on the eve of his own impeachment for corruption in 1992. (Incidentally, Collor, now an opposition senator, is one of 47 politicians currently under investigation for their role in the Petrobrás scandal.)

Foreign media outlets have seized on Rousseff’s supposedly lackluster response to the Petrobrás scandal and Brazil’s gloomy macroeconomic outlook to speculate whether the collapse of the PT’s economic and political model, which has relied on cautiously redistributive policies and moderately increased government involvement in the economy, is imminent. Their sense of hope is palpable: “Brazil’s poor turn their back on Rousseff,” one headline gleefully reported on March 16. Another article insisted that the protests’ “cheerfully democratic multitudes” sought contrition from Rousseff for her party’s graft and economic mismanagement, but that the President had so far ignored their indignation. An opinion piece in a British daily expressed hope that “popular dissatisfaction” would persuade Rousseff to take the steps needed to solve Brazil’s economic problems – a reduced role for state credit agencies, increased independence for Petrobrás and monetary authorities, tax reform, brakes on special interests, and increased openness to foreign trade. The New York Times added an editorial on March 20 blasting Rousseff’s foreign policy, which, it suggested, should draw closer to the United States – despite Eric Snowden’s revelations of NSA spying on Rousseff’s communications.

It’s no secret that most foreign correspondents are neither politically well connected nor fluent in Portuguese. Part of the explanation for their bias, then, comes from their dependence upon Brazil’s notoriously one-sided media, owned by a few elite families and corporate groups. The major newspapers are all staunchly anti-government, their reporting on Rousseff’s administration universally negative. The Globo television network dedicated much of its March 15 programming to recruiting attendees for what it called, “peaceful demonstrations against corruption, with women, the elderly, and children asking for democracy and out with Dilma.” Indeed, the Brazilian and foreign press are engaged in an endless echo chamber of self-validation: foreign journalists get their information from anti-government media outlets, which then breathlessly report the foreign “analysis” in order to invalidate their own bias. For example, a March 21 story in the Folha de S. Paulo and Veja reported favorably on the New York Times’ foreign policy editorial. If foreigners say it, it must be true.

Perhaps the most notorious recent example of press bias occurred when Brian Winter, Reuters’ chief Brazil correspondent, interviewed Fernando Henrique Cardoso. Published in Portuguese by Reuters Brasil, the story contained a paragraph admitting that one of the Petrobrás officials involved in the corruption scheme claims that it dated to Cardoso’s administration. The paragraph was followed by a parenthetical note, apparently penned by one of the Brazilian editors, that accidentally remained undeleted: “We can take this part out if you want.” To his credit, Winter didn’t remove the paragraph, but the gaffe shows the inner-workings of the Brazilian branch of an American media outlet, where protecting the opposition and attacking the PT trumps even a casual relationship with the truth. Although the article was hastily corrected (without any indication that it had been modified), it was too late: attentive readers had already posted the gaffe to Twitter, under the hashtag #PodemosTirarSeAcharMelhor.

Amidst predictions of Rousseff’s demise, the mainstream media has consistently downplayed, and occasionally outright ignored, one fact: the social backgrounds of protesters. It is not “the Brazilian people” who are in the streets, but rather a very specific segment of the population whose economic interests are historically opposed to those of the majority. They are largely middle and upper class and, consequently, mainly white. In the 2014 elections they sensed that their time had come to get rid of the PT, only to see their favored candidate, former Minas Gerais PSDB governor Aécio Neves, lose in Brazil’s closest-ever presidential contest. Despite the very real and serious flaws of the current government, this discontent with the PT finds its true source in centuries of elite fear of popular mobilization and a deep resentment of the gains working class people have made since Lula took office in 2003.

Of course, if one asks the demonstrators in the streets why they are protesting, no one will say that it’s because the poor aren’t as poor anymore. Indeed, 44% of demonstrators in Porto Alegre told pollsters that they were attending to speak out against corruption. And, responding to a question that permitted multiple answers, 58% indicated that their greatest disappointment lies with the political class overall, as compared to 44% that identified the PT and 29% Rousseff. A further 78% argued that political parties, including the opposition, should have no role in their movement. Could it be the case that the demonstrations were, in fact, overwhelmingly democratic and targeted primarily at corruption? Several clues indicate that this is not the case.

Although they represented a small minority of demonstrators, a vocal contingent was not satisfied with calls for impeachment. In a chilling scene for those who remember the repression unleashed during Brazil’s 1964-1985 military dictatorship, protesters carried signs emblazoned with slogans like “Military intervention now” and “SOS Armed Forces.” A banner in Rio de Janeiro featured a swastika and read, “Armed Forces, liberate Brazil.” Another read (in English), “Army, Navy, and Air Force. Please save us once again of [sic] communism.” “The best communist is a dead communist. Dilma, Maduro, Hugo, Fidel, Cristina, Lula: the world’s garbage.” Their signs were eerily reminiscent of the media’s enthusiastic response to Brazil’s 1964 coup, when the country’s press overwhelmingly cheered the military’s ouster of João Goulart—another mildly-leftist, so-called “communist” president—as a victory for democracy.

Figure 1: Protesters in São Paulo Plead for a Military Coup, March 15, 2015 (Source: Nelson Almeida / AFP)

Protesters in São Paulo Plead for a Military Coup, March 15, 2015 (Source: Nelson Almeida / AFP)

In response to the pleas for military intervention, a spokesman for Revoltados ON LINE, a grassroots group that helped organize the protests and has 750,000 Facebook likes, commented, “The people asking for [military] intervention want to remove the PT from power. That is the sole focus. The participation of a variety of groups strengthens the group as a whole.” Though a military coup still looks unlikely, it is widely known that many in the military are incensed with the Rousseff administration over the final report of the National Truth Commission, which blasted the armed forces for torture and disappearances during its rule.

If those waxing nostalgic for dictatorships of yore were in the minority, what of the rest of the protesters? Despite attempts to highlight the supposed multi-class composition of the crowds on March 15, they represented, above all, Brazil’s white, university-educated economic elite. As Gianpaolo Baiocchi and Marcelo K. Silva recently pointed out, in Porto Alegre, nearly 70% of protesters were college-educated, in contrast with 11% of the general population, while over 40% belonged to the top income brackets, which make up but 3% of the population. Photographs confirm this; in a country with a high correlation between skin color and economic class, where over half of the population identifies as black or brown, the crowds had a decidedly lighter hue. A viral Tumblr account poked fun at the similarities with the upper-class, yellow-and-green-clad crowds that attended pricey World Cup matches last year by challenging visitors to determine if the photographs posted came from a March 15 demonstration or the World Cup.

Figure 2: Singer Wanessa Camargo performs the National Anthem for a largely white crowd in São Paulo, March 15, 2015 (Source: Vanessa Carvalho / BPP / AGNEWS)

Singer Wanessa Camargo performs the National Anthem for a largely white crowd in São Paulo, March 15, 2015 (Source: Vanessa Carvalho / BPP / AGNEWS)

Of course, the fact that the demonstrations largely consisted of white middle- and upper-class Brazilians does not automatically mean that they were anti-democratic. At the same time, it would be a grave mistake to interpret the class composition of the crowds outside the context of Brazil’s historic inequalities of class, race, and region. What does it mean if the majority of demonstrators demanding the ouster of a moderately redistributive center-left party come from the social classes and regions that have least benefited from its policies? What problems do they see with corruption, the PT, or Rousseff that are insufficient to motivate the working classes or people from the impoverished Northeast of the country to take to the streets?

Since the colonial period, political and economic power has been wielded by a tiny European-descended elite, and since the collapse of the Northeastern plantation sugar economy in the nineteenth century, economic power has been concentrated in the Southeast and South, especially in the coffee and industrial powerhouse of São Paulo—today the epicenter of the opposition. An influx of European immigration in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries only heightened the disdain light-skinned, prosperous Southeasterners felt for their mixed-race Northeastern and Northern countrymen and women, and after the 1950s, that prejudice was turned against Northeastern migrants who came to work in the region’s expanding industries. Brazil’s middle class of government bureaucrats, small business owners, and professionals, tied to the landowning and industrial elite by socialization and patronage, has in turn largely identified with elite interests. Whenever Brazilian leaders, be they the populist dictator and later elected president Getúlio Vargas (1930-1945, 1950-1954), or the left-leaning would-be reformer João Goulart (1961-1964), have proposed reforms that would decrease inequality and broaden political representation, they have been ousted by an indignant elite and middle class – at precisely the moments when the minimum wage was growing the fastest.

The leveling results of the last 12 years are striking, if still far short of what Brazil needs to comprehensively address income inequality. In January 2003, the Inter-union Department of Socioeconomic Statistics and Studies (DIEESE) calculated that in order to provide a living wage, the minimum wage should be 6.93 times what it actually was; by February 2015, the ratio had fallen to 4.03. The unemployment rate when Lula took office was 11.2%; today, it is 5.9% (though it has risen from 4.4% in November 2014). At the same time, the gains were not evenly spread out; between 2001 and 2013, the income of the poorest 10% of the population grew at nearly three times the rate of that of the richest 10%. The result was a Gini coefficient that, while still among the highest in the world at 0.527 in 2012, reached its lowest level since 1960. In sum, then, though economic growth between 2003 and 2014 benefited the whole population, it benefited the poor and working class the most, largely as a result of real increases in the minimum wage. As economist Luiz Carlos Bresser Pereira, a cabinet minister under Cardoso, put it, “This hatred [against the PT] is a result of the fact that the government revealed a strong and clear preference for workers and the poor.”

The persistence of prejudice against the poor and Northeasterners manifested itself most clearly on social media in the wake of the 2014 elections—when the Northeast voted overwhelmingly for Rousseff. “These Northeastern sons of bitches need to die in a drought; good-for-nothings, sucking on the government’s teat, ignorant sons of bitches,” read one tweet. “Northeasterners don’t have a brain, they have no culture; it’s the slum of Brazil,” read another. Even former president Cardoso, a one-time leftist sociologist and champion of the struggle against the military dictatorship, grumbled, “The PT relies on the least informed, who happen to be the poorest.” Much like in the United States, in the wake of government efforts to reduce inequality, the wealthy and middle class have reacted with racially inflected charges of laziness, dependency, and ignorance. And so far it has largely been the same social groups who voted for Neves and blasted Northeasterners who have been participating in the demonstrations against Rousseff.

If the March 15 demonstrations expressed the concerns of the middle class and elite, what are the implications for Rousseff’s government? First, despite Rousseff’s dismal approval ratings, the PT’s base of support in the working class and poor is not ready to abandon it. The PT has retained their support through policies like the wildly popular conditional cash transfer program Bolsa Família, the expansion of the federal university system, and race and class-based quotas in college admissions that have yielded tangible improvements in their daily lives. Unless the economy deteriorates to the point where the working class and poor join the demonstrations – and even Brazil’s small leftist press admits that this is not impossible – it’s hard to imagine the protests gaining further traction. Second, despite the common class interests of the demonstrators, a message decrying working class gains is not politically feasible. In the absence of this message, which in fact is the real motivator of the protests, the demonstrators are left in the tenuous position of calling for the ouster of the PT through a legally invalid impeachment, with no agreement at all about, or what should, happen afterwards.

The same groups that organized the March 15 demonstrations are planning another round for April 12. Will they attract working class support? What developments in the Petrobrás scandal might affect their success? Will calls for military intervention become more prominent or fade into the background? One thing remains certain: In the absence of a mass working-class defection from the PT, proof of crimes justifying impeachment, or military interest in a coup, the prospects for a change in government are remote. Yet this is unlikely to dampen the hopes of wealthy and highly educated protesters, who will continue to use corruption as an excuse to protest against the socioeconomic ascension of those they see as their inferiors. As sociologist Jesse de Souza pointedly explains, “What distinguishes Brazil from the United States, Germany, and France, who we admire so much,” isn’t the level of corruption, “but the fact that we accept maintaining a third of the population in subhuman conditions.” The PT governments of the last 12 years made progress toward improving those conditions, but in the process they threatened the Brazilian elite’s deeply ingrained sense of superiority. Whether conscious or not, class and regional prejudice—not corruption—is the driving force behind the demonstrations.


Bryan Pitts is visiting assistant professor of History at Duke University and a Fulbright Scholars postdoctoral fellow at the Instituto de Ciência Política of the Universidade de Brasília (UnB).

April 9, 2015 Posted by | Corruption, Deception, Economics, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , | 1 Comment

NSA spying fallout: Brazil-US talks fail

BRICS Post | January 31, 2014

Brazil on Thursday said the US has not been able to satisfactorily answer the spying charges or eke out a “permanent solution” to restore bilateral ties damaged by the revelations.

Brazilian Foreign Minister Luiz Alberto Figueiredo met Thursday with US National Security Advisor Susan Rice in Washington.

According to a report by the Brazilian daily O Globo, the talks failed to resolve the matter.

The Brazilian Minister said his meeting with Rice did not signify a permanent solution to the tension between the two countries, created by reports of massive US government snooping amid continued revelations based on documents leaked by the former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

“A conversation at this level will not lead to an improvement in relations,” Figueiredo said, stressing, however, that the dialogue between the two sides will continue.

During the talks, Rice presented the US government’s defense of its espionage scheme, said Figueiredo, adding those explanations now need to be relayed to President Dilma Rousseff. The Brazilian President had earlier canceled a state visit to the US after the spying charges were first reported.

America has failed to provide clarifications that the Brazilian government required, Figueiredo added.

Bilateral ties were hit after leaked NSA files revealed the US intelligence agency intercepted Brazilian communications and spied on Rousseff and her aides and on the state-owned Petrobras, the largest company in Brazil and one of the 30 biggest businesses in the world.

Rousseff had earlier said the US spying program was “economic espionage”. In November last year, the “right to privacy” resolution, drafted by Brazil and Germany, was passed by the UN rights committee.

January 31, 2014 Posted by | Deception, Progressive Hypocrite | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Brazilian lawmakers press Greenwald for greater detail on Snowden’s NSA leaks

RT | October 10, 2013

Brazilian lawmakers indicated that, in lieu of direct teleconferences with Edward Snowden to gain further insight into allegations of NSA spying in their country, they may seek to seize documents now held by American journalist Glenn Greenwald.

On Wednesday Greenwald spoke to Brazilian senators currently investigating evidence of US as well as British and Canadian espionage in the Latin American country.

The legislators are part of a probe into potential foreign surveillance — the Comissão Parlamentar de Inquérito, or CPI — called into action by President Dilma Rousseff in the wake of initial news reports alleging that even the president’s online communication had been intercepted.

Greenwald, who appeared along with his partner David Miranda, a Brazilian national, broached several topics during the hearing, including the possibility of granting asylum to NSA contractor turned whistleblower Edward Snowden.

So far, Brazil has been vague as to whether it would seriously consider extending Snowden, who is currently residing in Russia, an offer of political asylum.

“There are many nations saying, ‘We’re glad to be learning all this information,’ but almost nobody wants to protect the person responsible for letting the world discover it,” Greenwald told the panel.

In the meantime, Brazilian legislators seem eager to find out the extent of foreign surveillance on the country in greater detail.

To that end, the country’s government — specifically, the CPI inquiry — is now seeking to establish teleconferencing sessions with Snowden.

Asked by the commission to turn over documents obtained through the whistleblower Greenwald refused, citing the need for a separation between journalism and government. His partner, Miranda, also cited that divulging the documents would constitute an “act of treason” and prevent Greenwald from entering the US again.

One Brazilian Senator, Ricardo Ferraço, went so far as to suggest that the government commission seek the authority of the country’s courts to seize documents now held by Greenwald if such communication with Snowden proved unfeasible.

Unlike allegations of NSA surveillance in the US, coverage of the agency’s activities in Brazil have taken on a broader scope, and in particular centered on the country’s economy.

Greenwald himself has shaped the narrative of Snowden’s disclosures through his testimony to Brazil’s government, as well as his work with the O Globo newspaper and Rede Globo’s news television.

In August, the journalist told Brazil’s government that alleged American espionage in Brazil was centered on gaining economic advantages rather than on any national security concerns.

“We now have several denunciations that show that the spy program is not about terrorism. It is about increasing the power of the American government,” Greenwald told senators on Wednesday, speaking in Portuguese.

In the most recent report last Sunday, Greenwald said on Globo network television that Canadian spies had targeted Brazil’s Mines and Energy Ministry, intercepting the metadata of phone calls and emails passing through the ministry.

The impact of the steady stream of surveillance allegations on Brazil has been swift. Last month Petrobras announced that it would be investing $9.5 billion over the next five years to heighten its data security.

Meanwhile, Communications Minister Paulo Bernardo announced that the country’s government was pursuing legislation requiring domestic data exchanges to use locally made equipment.

October 10, 2013 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Corruption, Deception, Economics, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

NSA masqueraded as Google to spy on web users – report

google.si

RT | September 13, 2013

The NSA used ‘man in the middle’ hack attacks to impersonate Google and fool web users, leaks have revealed. The technique circumvents encryption by redirecting users to a copycat site which relays all the data entered to NSA data banks.

Brazilian television network Globo News released a report based on classified data divulged by former CIA worker Edward Snowden on Sunday. The report itself blew the whistle on US government spying on Brazilian oil giant Petrobras, but hidden in amongst the data was information the NSA had impersonated Google to get its hands on user data.

Globo TV showed slides from a 2012 NSA presentation explaining how the organization intercepts data and re-routes it to NSA central. One of the convert techniques the NSA uses to do this is a ‘man in the middle’ (MITM) hack attack.

This particular method of intercepting internet communications is quite common among expert hackers as it avoids having to break through encryption. Essentially, NSA operatives log into a router used by an internet service provider and divert ‘target traffic’ to a copycat MITM site, whereupon all the data entered is relayed to the NSA. The data released by Edward Snowden and reported on by Globo News suggests the NSA carried out these attacks disguised as Google.

When the news broke about the NSA gathering information through internet browsers, tech giants such as Google and Yahoo denied complicity, maintaining they only handover data if a formal request is issued by the government.

“As for recent reports that the US government has found ways to circumvent our security systems, we have no evidence of any such thing ever occurring. We provide our user data to governments only in accordance with the law,” said Google spokesperson Jay Nancarrow to news site Mother Jones.

Google, along with Microsoft, Facebook and Yahoo, has filed a lawsuit against the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA) to allow them to make public all the data requests made by the NSA.

“Given the important public policy issues at stake, we have also asked the court to hold its hearing in open rather than behind closed doors. It’s time for more transparency,” Google’s director of law enforcement and information security, Richard Salgado, and the director of public policy and government affairs, Pablo Chavez, wrote in a blog post on Monday.

The tech giants implicated in NSA’s global spying program have denied criticism that they could have done more to resist NSA spying. Marissa Mayer, CEO of Yahoo, claimed that speaking out about the NSA’s activities would have amounted to ‘treason’ at a press conference in San Francisco on Wednesday.

In Yahoo’s defense, she argued that the company had been very skeptical of the NSA’s requests to disclose user data and had resisted whenever possible. Mayer concluded that it was more realistic to work within the system,” rather than fight against it.

September 13, 2013 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Corruption, Deception, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

No economic espionage? NSA docs show US spied on Brazil oil giant Petrobras

RT | September 9, 2013

Despite earlier US assurances that its Department of Defense does not “engage in economic espionage in any domain,” a new report suggests that the intelligence agency NSA spied on Brazilian state-run oil giant Petrobras.

Brazil’s biggest television network Globo TV reported that the information about the NSA spying on Petroleo Brasileiro SA came from Glenn Greenwald, the American journalist who first published secrets leaked by whistleblower Edward Snowden.

Globo TV aired slides from an NSA presentation from 2012 that revealed the agency’s ability to gain access to private networks of companies such as Petrobras and Google Inc.

One slide specified an ‘economic’ motive for spying, along with diplomatic and political reasons.

This seems to contradict a statement made by an NSA spokesman to the Washington Post on August 30, which said that the US Department of Defense “does not engage in economic espionage in any domain, including cyber.”

An official from the NSA told Globo that the agency gathers economic information not to steal secrets, but to watch for financial instability.

Petrobras is known to have discovered some of the world’s biggest offshore oil reserves in recent years.

Some of the new reserves are estimated to be around as 100 billion barrels of oil, according to Rio de Janeiro State University.

None of the leaked slides went into the reasons behind the NSA spying on the Brazilian firm.

The US spy agency then reportedly shared the gathered information with the UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

The new report about US spying on Brazil could intensify the already existing tensions between Brazil and US.

The relationship between the two countries became tense as Globo reported about allegations that NSA has intercepted private communications of Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff and her Mexican counterpart Enrique Pena Nieto.

Brazil responded by canceling preparations for the presidential visit to the United States and beginning a probe into telecommunications companies to see if they illegally shared data with the NSA. Also, Brazil has asked for a formal apology.

During the G20 summit US tried to address the issue by US President Barack Obama pledging to work with Brazil and Mexico to address their concerns over US spying revealed in recent NSA leaks.

September 9, 2013 Posted by | Corruption, Deception, Economics | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment