Tags: The Guardian

Google Has Received 250,000 Article Removal Requests as Internet Censorship Takes Off in Europe

In the walls of the cubicle there were three orifices. To the right of the speakwrite, a small pneumatic tube for written messages, to the left, a larger one for newspapers; and in the side wall, within easy reach of Winston’s arm, a large oblong slit protected by a wire grating. This last was for the disposal of waste paper. Similar slits existed in thousands or tens of thousands throughout the building, not only in every room but at short intervals in every corridor. For some reason they were nicknamed memory holes. When one knew that any document was due for destruction, or even when one saw a scrap of waste paper lying about, it was an automatic action to lift the flap of the nearest memory hole and drop it in, whereupon it would be whirled away on a current of warm air to the enormous furnaces which were hidden somewhere in the recesses of the building.

He who controls the past controls the future. He who controls the present controls the past.

– From George Orwell’s 1984

The reason Big Brother and his band of technocrat authoritarians spend so much time and effort erasing history in the classic novel 1984, is because they are a bunch of total criminals and they know it. Their grip on power is made so much easier if the proles are kept ignorant, confused and in the dark. This strategy is not just fiction, it is the philosophy of tyrants and authoritarians throughout history.

While the internet is an amazing tool for communication and free speech, we must also be aware of how it can be abused by those in power who wish to whitewash history. For more on this epic struggle, read the post, Networks vs. Hierarchies: Which Will Win? Niall Furguson Weighs In. In it, Mr. Furguson explains that the biggest threat to networks overcoming hierarchies is if government technocrats are able to gain a hold of the technological tools we now use to communicate with each other. He fears this is already happening with the NSA’s PRISM program and the complicity of all the major tech companies in the agency’s unconstitutional spying.

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American Feudalism – Obama Travels to Brussels with a 900 Person Entourage

Earlier this week, U.S. President Barack Obama arrived in Brussels for the E.U. summit, but he was not alone. In fact, he is reported to have traveled with an entourage of 900 people, no doubt leaving a gaping expense for U.S. taxpayers. Brussels itself also took at major hit, with the city spending over $10 million on security compared to the usual expense of roughly $700,000 for E.U. summits.

Of course feudal trips are nothing new to 21st Century American Presidents. As The Washington Post notes, George W. Bush took 700 people with him on a trip to London in 2003.

Oh, and if you think these trips don’t cost much, let’s not forget that the Obama family trip to sub-Saharan Africa was projected to cost the U.S. government anywhere from $60 million to $100 million.

From The Washington Post:

As President Obama and his entourage, which The Guardian estimated at 900 people, arrived in Brussels for the E.U. summit Tuesday, the Belgian capital braced for the significant expense of hosting him.

Brussels mayor Yvan Mayeur told The Guardian his city will spend $10.4 million to ensure Obama’s security during the president’s 24-hour visit. Hosting an E.U. summit typically costs the city about €500,000 ($690,000), the newspaper reports. “But this time round, you can multiply that figure by 20,” Mayeur said.

Obama’s security needs are not unique. When his predecessor, President George W. Bush, traveled abroad, he didn’t pack light. In November 2003, just months after the U.S. invasion of Iraq, Bush brought 700 people with him on a visit to London, which The Guardian at the time described as “worthy of a travelling medieval monarch.” The British government expected to spend around £5 million to protect Bush over his four-day London stay.

Not only do these trips require host cities to shell out considerable capital, they also come at a hefty price to American taxpayers. The Washington Post reported in June 2013 that the Obama family trip to sub-Saharan Africa was projected to cost the U.S. government anywhere from $60 million to $100 million.

Meanwhile, still barely a peep can be heard from the peasants.

Full article here

Liberty,
Michael Krieger

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Yes the Government is Spying on You Through Your Webcam – Another “Conspiracy Theory” Proven True

I still remember many years ago in response to becoming aware of the possibility that my computer webcam could be accessed remotely I decided to put a piece of duct tape over the camera. I also remember the look on some of my friends’ faces upon seeing this. They thought I was nuts. It wasn’t even a conversation I was comfortable having since the idea that the government or NSA could or would peep on innocent Americans through their webcams was beyond preposterous for the vast majority of people

This topic is not exactly new, and I addressed it last April in my piece: A Look into the Malware the FBI Uses to Spy Through Webcams.

Now, thanks to Edward Snowden, we know more. Much, much more.

From the Guardian:

Britain’s surveillance agency GCHQ, with aid from the US National Security Agency, intercepted and stored the webcam images of millions of internet users not suspected of wrongdoing, secret documents reveal.

GCHQ files dating between 2008 and 2010 explicitly state that a surveillance program codenamed Optic Nerve collected still images of Yahoo webcam chats in bulk and saved them to agency databases, regardless of whether individual users were an intelligence target or not.

In one six-month period in 2008 alone, the agency collected webcam imagery – including substantial quantities of sexually explicit communications – from more than 1.8 million Yahoo user accounts globally.

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UK Think Tank Proposes Law to Restrict Foreign Oligarch Real Estate Speculation

When people ask how there can be no inflation with Central Banks printing so much money, all one has to do is look at what I refer to as “oligarch assets” and you’ll see massive inflation. The reason for this is that the only people getting access to the newly created money at 0% interest or through crony deals are oligarchs and well connected figures within the global plutocracy. While there is also plenty of inflation for consumer goods (often times hidden in smaller package sizes and phony components), it is nothing like the tremendous price gains in assets oligarchs covet.

As most of my readers know by now, one such asset is high-end London real estate. In fact, oligarchs and cronies are scooping up London real estate at such a frantic pace that the regular peasants are being forced out of their own city. Even worse, many of these “investment properties” sit unfurnished and empty, merely another trophy home to top off the oligarch portfolio.

I’ve covered this oligarch buying trend on several occasions in the past (it’s also happening in the U.S.), and I believe it is only a matter of time before the public becomes angry enough to put a stop to it. We may be witnessing the start of such a trend at this time with the publication of the report Finding Shelter by think tank Civitas. While this is just a proposal and far from law, I do expect such laws ultimately to be passed globally in various jurisdictions in which the oligarchs are distorting prices and making every day life unaffordable and miserable.

Some key points from the report are:

  • 85% of prime London property purchases in 2012 were made with overseas money.
  • Problem is not confined to the top end of the market. Over the past two years only 27% of new homes in central London went to UK buyers, while more than half were sold to residents of Singapore, Hong Kong, China, Malaysia and Russia.
  • Two-thirds of homes bought by people from overseas were not purchased for owner-occupation but as investments.

From the Guardian:

Radical plans to stop rich overseas residents who live outside the EU buying British houses – as well as tight restrictions on them acquiring “newbuild” properties as investments – will be published in a report by a leading rightwing thinktank on Monday.

Free-market organisation Civitas castigates government ministers for allowing wealthy foreign investors to stoke a property boom that it says is driving up prices and locking millions of UK citizens out of the housing market.

The plans would prevent the likes of Roman Abramovich, owner of Chelsea football club, or other Russian oligarchs from adding to their multimillion-pound UK portfolios. They also aim to stem a flood of investment from countries such as China, Malaysia and Singapore.

Concerned that many middle and lower earners are being forced to pay high rents in London because they can’t afford to buy, Civitas calls on ministers to adopt a scheme similar to one operating in Australia, which ensures that no sale can take place to overseas buyers unless they can show that their investment will add to existing housing stock.

Such a system would mean that no existing home could be sold to a buyer from outside the EU, and that such buyers could acquire newbuild homes only if their investment led to one or more additional properties being built.

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This is What Really Happens in the Drone Program from an Insider

Over the weekend, Heather Linebaugh wrote a powerful Op-ed in The Guardian newspaper lamenting the lack of public understanding regarding the American drone program. Heather should know what she’s talking about, she served in the United Stated Air Force from 2009 until March 2012. She worked in intelligence as an imagery analyst and geo-spatial analyst for the drone program during the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan.

Here are some key excerpts from her article:

Whenever I read comments by politicians defending the Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Predator and Reaper program – aka drones – I wish I could ask them a few questions. I’d start with: “How many women and children have you seen incinerated by a Hellfire missile?” And: “How many men have you seen crawl across a field, trying to make it to the nearest compound for help while bleeding out from severed legs?” Or even more pointedly: “How many soldiers have you seen die on the side of a road in Afghanistan because our ever-so-accurate UAVs [unmanned aerial vehicles] were unable to detect an IED [improvised explosive device] that awaited their convoy?”

Few of these politicians who so brazenly proclaim the benefits of drones have a real clue of what actually goes on. I, on the other hand, have seen these awful sights first hand.

I knew the names of some of the young soldiers I saw bleed to death on the side of a road. I watched dozens of military-aged males die in Afghanistan, in empty fields, along riversides, and some right outside the compound where their family was waiting for them to return home from the mosque.

What the public needs to understand is that the video provided by a drone is not usually clear enough to detect someone carrying a weapon, even on a crystal-clear day with limited cloud and perfect light. This makes it incredibly difficult for the best analysts to identify if someone has weapons for sure. One example comes to mind: “The feed is so pixelated, what if it’s a shovel, and not a weapon?” I felt this confusion constantly, as did my fellow UAV analysts. We always wonder if we killed the right people, if we endangered the wrong people, if we destroyed an innocent civilian’s life all because of a bad image or angle.

Moreover, the many civilians being incinerated without a trial are not the only victims here. So are the actual drone operators themselves, many of whom end up committing suicide. Recall my article from December 2012: Meet Brandon Bryant: The Drone Operator Who Quit After Killing a Child. Of course, our so-called political “leaders” never get their hands dirty, other than to take a lobbyist bribe that is. Now more from Heather:

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Pepper Spray Cop Receives $38,000 Settlement from the University of California

Remember this guy?

Screen Shot 2013-10-25 at 11.07.28 AM

Yep, that’s John Pike, the infamous pepper spray cop who walked across a group of seated student engaged in an act of peaceful civil disobedience and callously pepper sprayed them in the face. While Pike was eventually fired, an internal investigation found that he “acted appropriately.” For all his troubles, the University has now decided he deserves a $38,000 settlement.

More from the Guardian:

A former University of California Davis police officer who pepper-sprayed a group of Occupy protesters has reached a $38,000 settlement in a workman’s compensation case against the school.

John Pike, who was filmed discharging pepper spray at a line of seated demonstrators in a video that was watched around the world, received the compensation last week.

The Davis Enterprise reported that Pike, 40, had suffered depression and anxiety brought on by death threats to him and his family. The threats followed the 18 November 2011 protest, the newspaper reported.

Bernie Goldsmith, a Davis attorney supportive of the student protesters, told the Associated Press that the settlement “sends a clear message to the next officer nervously facing off with a group of passive, unarmed students: Go on ahead. Brutalize them. Trample their rights. You will be well taken care of.”

Let’s also not forget about the fact that there are 50,000 SWAT team raids in America each year. USA! USA!

Glenn Greenwald: “The Most Shocking Stories Have Not Been Published”…Is This Why He Left The Guardian?

Just yesterday, I was taken aback by an article in Time magazine in which Glenn Greenwald was quoted as saying:

The archives are so complex and so deep and so shocking, that I think the most shocking and significant stories are the ones we are still working on, and have yet to publish.

The above statement was expressed during a speech by Greenwald at the Global Investigative Journalism Conference in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. This takes on an entirely new meaning now that we know Mr. Greenwald has decided to leave The Guardian. There have been grumblings for several weeks now that the relationship between the journalist and the paper had been strained. Whether or not that is the result of new censorship resulting from government pressure on the paper at this stage is unknown. Either way, I can’t wait to see what new information he has in store for us, whether it will be through a Brazilian news organization or an independent venture.

Below are statements from both Glenn and The Guardian:

Statement of Glenn Greenwald:

“My partnership with the Guardian has been extremely fruitful and fulfilling: I have high regard for the editors and journalists with whom I worked and am incredibly proud of what we achieved.

“The decision to leave was not an easy one, but I was presented with a once-in-a-career dream journalistic opportunity that no journalist could possibly decline.

“Because this news leaked before we were prepared to announce it, I’m not yet able to provide any details of this momentous new venture, but it will be unveiled very shortly;”


Statement of the Guardian’s Jennifer Lindauer:

“Glenn Greenwald is a remarkable journalist and it has been fantastic working with him. Our work together over the last year has demonstrated the crucial role that responsible investigative journalism can play in holding those in power to account. We are of course disappointed by Glenn’s decision to move on, but can appreciate the attraction of the new role he has been offered. We wish him all the best.”

In Liberty,
Mike

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Patriot Act Author Prepares Strong Bill to Rein in NSA Abuses…Calls for Prosecution of James Clapper

In an interesting twist of irony, one of the Congressman most instrumental in the destruction of civil liberties in these United States due to his authorship of the Patriot Act, Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wisc.), is now leading the charge to rein in NSA abuses. His disgust with the NSA became clear back in early June when he wrote an impassioned letter to Attorney General Eric Holder criticizing the illegal NSA activity happening behind the scenes. The key point here is that Mr. Sensenbrenner strongly believes that these guys are misinterpreting the legislation he wrote to justify everything they are doing. As such, he and others are proposing legislation to make it crystal clear what is and what is not appropriate surveillance.

Not only that, he is also calling for the prosecution of James Clapper the current Director of National Intelligence, who perjured himself in front of Congress earlier this year. Mr. Sensenbrenner said:

Oversight only works when the agency that oversight is directed at tells the truth, and having Mr Clapper say he gave the least untruthful answer should, in my opinion, have resulted in a firing and a prosecution.

This guy means business. More from the Guardian:

The conservative Republican who co-authored America’s Patriot Act is preparing to unveil bipartisan legislation that would dramatically curtail the domestic surveillance powers it gives to intelligence agencies.

Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner, who worked with president George W Bush to give more power to US intelligence agencies after the September 11 terrorist attacks, said the intelligence community had misused those powers by collecting telephone records on all Americans, and claimed it was time “to put their metadata program out of business”.

His imminent bill in the House of Representatives is expected to be matched by a similar proposal from Senate judiciary committee chair Patrick Leahy, a Democrat. It pulls together existing congressional efforts to reform the National Security Agency in the wake of disclosures by whistleblower Edward Snowden.

It seeks to limit the collection of phone records to known terrorist suspects; to end “secret laws” by making courts disclose surveillance policies; to create a special court advocate to represent privacy interests; and to allow companies to disclose how many requests for users’ information they receive from the USA. The bill also tightens up language governing overseas surveillance to remove a loophole which it has been abused to target internet and email activities of Americans.

In July, a temporary measure to defund the NSA bulk collection programme was narrowly defeated in a 217 to 205 vote in the House, but Sensenbrenner said the appetite for greater privacy protections had only grown since.

Instead, the main opposition to Sensenbrenner and Leahy’s twin-pronged effort is likely to come from the chair of the Senate intelligence committee, Dianne Feinstein, who is supportive of the NSA but who has proposed separate legislation focusing on greater transparency and checks rather than an outright ban on bulk collection.

Of course Feinstein is going to push to block real NSA restrictions, she is one of the most authoritarian members of Congress, not to mention married to a gigantic crony capitalist, fraud artist. 

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Bulgarian-German Novelist and Privacy Activist Denied Entry into the USA

It just keeps getting creepier and creepier. So far, I can’t find many english language articles on this disturbing event, but The Guardian has posted some key information on their website. It informs us that:

A Bulgarian-German novelist and privacy activist was on Monday refused entry to the US, writes the Guardian’s Berlin correspondent Philip Oltermann.

Ilija Trojanow, who had been on his way to a literary conference in Denver, was told at Salvador da Bahia airport, Brazil, that US authorities wouldn’t allow him into the country. He was told his case was “special”, but was given no further explanation for his rejection.

Trojanow was one of the initiators of an open protest letter against NSA surveillance which was signed by 67,407 members of the public and handed over to the German chancellor last month.

We need to change the poetic words on the base of the Statue of Liberty from:

Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, 
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. 
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, 
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!

to

Give me your thieving, your most wretched,
Your parasitic oligarch cronies, longing to steal unmolested
The lowest of the banksters the world can offer
Send them, the sociopaths, looking for ripe pastures of dumbed down slaves
I lift my printing press to thee crony souls!

In Liberty,
Mike

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Meet Valerie Caproni: Civil Rights Violating FBI Lawyer to be Promoted to Federal Judge

The situation below describes something that goes way beyond the usual revolving door that now represents the core characteristic of the crony capitalist, ponzi U.S. economy. No, the likely appointment of Valerie Caproni as a federal judge in one of the most important districts in America represents an even more sinister trend, a trend that is a core characteristic of all totalitarian regimes that have ever existed. What I am referring to is the fact that all deeply corrupt regimes with tyrannical tendencies will promote and embed the  nastiest, most flawed characters possible into positions of power because they will do the dirty deeds most normal, decent people would never consider. Basically, you decide to promote those who have the most destructive track records possible to serve as your praetorian guard. It was this signal that demonstrated to me that Obama was a total fraud very early in his Presidency. It was clear the moment he promoted two of the most destructive human beings in the nation to powerful financial and economic positions, Tim Geithner and Larry Summers. Well now we can add a new one to the list: Valerie Caproni.

caproni

Valerie has an unblemished track record of surveillance abuse appeasement that would make almost any civil liberties tyrant’s mouth water. She was the FBI’s top lawyer from 2003-2011, during which time she objected to the few objections that the secret FISA court offered. Moreover, she seemed to relish in the fact that the government can do whatever it wants in secret. Oh and did I mention she’s an executive a Northrop Grumman? Good times.

She’s scheduled for a vote on her judgeship today, and I have no doubt she will receive the position. Just as I assume Larry Summers will be appointed head of the Federal Reserve. These days, the very worst in America always rise to the top. More from the Guardian:

A former senior FBI official implicated in surveillance abuses is poised to become a federal judge in one of the US’s most important courts for terrorism cases.

Valerie Caproni, the FBI’s top lawyer from 2003 to 2011, is scheduled to receive a vote on Monday in the Senate for a seat on the southern district court of New York.

Caproni has come under bipartisan criticism over the years for enabling widespread surveillance later found to be inappropriate or illegal. During her tenure as the FBI’s general counsel, she clashed with Congress and even the Fisa surveillance court over the proper scope of the FBI’s surveillance powers.

“It is a shame that the White House has chosen to nominate former FBI general counsel Valerie Caproni to a lifelong position as a federal judge given her narrow views of Americans’ privacy rights as demonstrated by her actions in the George W Bush administration,” said Lisa Graves, a Justice Department official in the Clinton and early Bush administrations.

A representative of the defense company Northrop Grumman, where Caproni currently serves as an executive, said Caproni was not available for interviews.

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