Category Archives: Tyranny

Jim Balsillie warns that Canada has “been outfoxed” & the TPP will cost Canada billions

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Jim Balsillie fears TPP could cost Canada billions and become worst-ever policy move

By Andy Blatchford
The Canadian Press : November 8, 2015

Jim Balsillie warns that provisions tucked into the Trans-Pacific Partnership could cost Canada hundreds of billions of dollars — and eventually make signing it the worst public policy decision in the country’s history.

After poring over the treaty’s final text, the businessman who helped build Research In Motion into a $20-billion global player said the deal contains “troubling” rules on intellectual property that threaten to make Canada a “permanent underclass” in the economy of selling ideas.

Last month, in the middle of the election campaign, the Conservative government put Canada’s signature on the controversial 12-country pact. The Pacific Rim agreement, which includes the massive American and Japanese economies, has been described as the world’s largest-ever trade zone.

But Balsillie said parts of the deal will harm Canadian innovators by forcing them to play by rules set by the treaty’s most-dominant partner: the United States.

The fallout could prove costly for Canada because technologies created by these entrepreneurs have the potential to create huge amounts of wealth for the economy, he says.

“I’m not a partisan actor, but I actually think this is the worst thing that the Harper government has done for Canada,” the former co-chief executive of RIM said in an interview after studying large sections of the 6,000-page document, released to the public last week.

“I think in 10 years from now, we’ll call that the signature worst thing in policy that Canada’s ever done…

“It’s a treaty that structures everything forever — and we can’t get out of it.”

Balsillie’s concerns about the deal include how it would impose intellectual property standards set by the U.S., the biggest partner in the treaty.

He fears it would give American firms an edge and cost Canadian companies more money because they would have to pay for someone else’s ideas instead their own.

On top of that, Balsillie believes the structure could prevent Canadian firms from growing as it would also limit how much money they can make from their own products and services.

Balsillie, who spent much of his time building RIM by negotiating agreements around the world, called the comprehensive final text a “brilliant piece of literature.”

“It’s such brilliantly systemic encirclement. I’m just in awe at its powerful purity by the Americans…

“We’ve been outfoxed.”

Negotiators ‘failed Canadians,’ says Balsillie

And unlike legislation passed in Parliament, he noted treaties like this one set rules that must be followed forever. This deal, he added, also features “iron-clad” dispute mechanisms.

“I’m worried and I don’t know how we can get out of this,” said Balsillie, who’s also helping guide the creation of a lobby group that would press for the needs of Canada’s innovation sector.

“I think our trade negotiators have profoundly failed Canadians and our future innovators. I really lament it.”

(read the full article at CBC)

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Premier Christy Clark & her BC Liberals “systemic” email deleting explicitly to prevent release of information to public

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NDP cites evidence of emails deleted from top government accounts, including premier’s

By Travis Lupick
The Georgia Straight : October 28, 2015

The B.C. New Democrats say they are collecting a growing body of evidence that proves a Liberal government practice of deleting emails was “systemic” and explicitly for the purpose of preventing the release of information to the public.

In a telephone interview, David Eby, MLA for Vancouver–Point Grey, said the NDP will forward the documents it has collected to the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner for B.C. (OIPC) and that body can then decide if a formal investigation is warranted.

The Opposition member’s claims come on the heels of an October 22 OIPC report that details how employees in the premier’s office, plus staff at two ministries, had “triple deleted” emails, taking extra steps to expunge records from computers. The results of that investigation implicate the premier’s deputy chief of staff, Michele Cadario. In addition, the OIPC has accused one government employee, George Gretes, of giving false testimony about the practice while he was under oath. That case has been forwarded to the RCMP.

“The practice we observed was the routine emptying of the Recover Deleted Items folder to ensure that emails were permanently deleted from an employee’s system,” the OIPC report reads. “This is not the intention of the Recover Deleted Items folder and for employees managing their mail account it serves no legitimate purpose.”

The file the NDP is building already includes information on a number of additional email addresses that were not the subject of that investigation, Eby said, one of those being an account that belongs to the premier herself.

Eby explained the NDP filed a freedom-of-information request that asked for all correspondence to and from Premier Christy Clark’s public and private email addresses for a two-week period in December 2014 (coinciding with an announcement about the Site C dam). That request resulted in the government stating it could find no records meeting the criteria of the request.

A subsequent freedom-of-information request asked for the “message tracking logs” for the same account and same period, Eby continued. The government’s response to that request, however, stated that there were more than 150 emails sent from the premier’s public account during that time frame.

Eby said the NDP has similar evidence of missing emails for accounts controlled by Tobie Myers, chief of staff to Rich Coleman—who oversees several ministry portfolios, including liquefied natural gas—as well as the email account of John Dyble, deputy minister to the premier. (B.C. NDP leader John Horgan provided more information related to the case of Myers in an October 26 blog post. An October 27 report by the Vancouver Sun adds details to accusations regarding Dyble.)

Eby maintained that those discrepancies—a number of which were reviewed by the Straight—suggest that hundreds of emails pertinent to government business were deleted from the premier’s account as well as the accounts of top government officials.

(read the full article at The Georgia Straight)

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C-51 allows CSIS to engage in “disruption” activities that break laws and violate charter rights

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Expanded CSIS mandate under C-51 raises accountability concerns

By Jim Bronskill
The Canadian Press: October 25, 2015

Internal government notes say the Canadian Security Intelligence Service is likely to team up with “trusted allies,” such as the American CIA and Britain’s MI6, on overseas operations to derail threats – plans that underscore concerns about CSIS accountability under new security legislation.

The omnibus bill known as C-51 allows CSIS to engage in joint “disruption” efforts abroad – including covert actions that break foreign laws – something the spy service previously had no authority to do, according to the government notes.

“In the international context, CSIS would likely first seek avenues to work jointly with partners in the local jurisdiction or trusted allies before engaging in independent action,” the notes say.

“In the past, CSIS has been invited to participate in joint operations abroad to disrupt threats or to provide assistance to allies, but has had no mandate to do so.”

CSIS’s new threat disruption mandate – perhaps the most contentious element of the legislation that received royal assent in June – could include surreptitious meddling with websites, cancelling airline reservations, disabling a car or myriad other schemes.

The spy service would be allowed to engage in disruption activities that violate the Charter of Rights and Freedoms as long as a judge sanctions them, a measure critics say perverts the role of the judiciary.

CSIS would co-ordinate threat disruption activity with other agencies such as the RCMP, Canada Border Services Agency and Foreign Affairs, and could use its statutory mandate to enlist the technical expertise of the Communications Security Establishment, Canada’s electronic spy agency, the government notes say.

However, the Security Intelligence Review Committee, the watchdog known as SIRC that keeps an eye on CSIS, is limited to examining the spy service alone.

The notion of CSIS teaming up with foreign and domestic partners to derail threats raises concerns about SIRC’s ability to “follow the thread” and look at the entire operation, said University of Ottawa law professor Craig Forcese, who obtained the government notes under the Access to Information Act.

“SIRC is stovepiped to CSIS – that is, it can only look at what CSIS does, not at what any partner might do,” said Forcese, co-author of “False Security,” a book that extensively critiques C-51, calling it a squandered opportunity.

As the scale and scope of joint operations expand, the prospect of “gaps in the accountability system” increases apace, he added.

Josh Paterson, executive director of the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association, said SIRC, as presently constituted and resourced, “is totally inadequate” for the task of reviewing CSIS activities abroad. “When actions are mixed together with foreign agencies, the problem is more thorny.”

(read the full article at The Globe & Mail)

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Our laws and policies are more racist than the officers who enforce them

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Police Killings of Blacks: Here Is What the Data Say

By SENDHIL MULLAINATHAN
NY Times : October 16, 2015

Tamir Rice. Eric Garner. Walter Scott. Michael Brown. Each killing raises a disturbing question: Would any of these people have been killed by police officers if they had been white?

I have no special insight into the psychology of police officers or into the complicated forensics involved in such cases. Answering this question in any single situation can be difficult and divisive. Two outside experts this month concluded, for example, that the shooting of Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old boy in Cleveland who was carrying a toy gun, was a “reasonable” if tragic response. That will hardly be the last word on the subject.As an economist who has studied racial discrimination, I’ve begun to look at these deaths from a different angle. There is ample statistical evidence of large and persistent racial bias in other areas — from labor markets to online retail markets. So I expected that police prejudice would be a major factor in accounting for the killings of African-Americans. But when I looked at the numbers, that’s not exactly what I found.

I’m not saying that the police in these specific cases are free of racial bias. I can’t answer that question. But what the data does suggest is that eliminating the biases of all police officers would do little to materially reduce the total number of African-American killings. Police bias may well be a significant problem, but in accounting for why some of these encounters turn into killings, it is swamped by other, bigger problems that plague our society, our economy and our criminal justice system.

To understand how this can be, let us start with the statistics on police killings. According to the F.B.I.’s Supplementary Homicide Report, 31.8 percent of people shot by the police were African-American, a proportion more than two and a half times the 13.2 percent of African-Americans in the general population. While this data may be imperfect, other sources in individual states or cities, such as in California or New York City, show very similar patterns.

The data is unequivocal. Police killings are a race problem: African-Americans are being killed disproportionately and by a wide margin. And police bias may be responsible. But this data does not prove that biased police officers are more likely to shoot blacks in any given encounter.

Instead, there is another possibility: It is simply that — for reasons that may well include police bias — African-Americans have a very large number of encounters with police officers. Every police encounter contains a risk: The officer might be poorly trained, might act with malice or simply make a mistake, and civilians might do something that is perceived as a threat. The omnipresence of guns exaggerates all these risks.

Such risks exist for people of any race — after all, many people killed by police officers were not black. But having more encounters with police officers, even with officers entirely free of racial bias, can create a greater risk of a fatal shooting.

Arrest data lets us measure this possibility. For the entire country, 28.9 percent of arrestees were African-American. This number is not very different from the 31.8 percent of police-shooting victims who were African-Americans. If police discrimination were a big factor in the actual killings, we would have expected a larger gap between the arrest rate and the police-killing rate.

This in turn suggests that removing police racial bias will have little effect on the killing rate. Suppose each arrest creates an equal risk of shooting for both African-Americans and whites. In that case, with the current arrest rate, 28.9 percent of all those killed by police officers would still be African-American. This is only slightly smaller than the 31.8 percent of killings we actually see, and it is much greater than the 13.2 percent level of African-Americans in the overall population.

If the major problem is then that African-Americans have so many more encounters with police, we must ask why. Of course, with this as well, police prejudice may be playing a role. After all, police officers decide whom to stop or arrest.

But this is too large a problem to pin on individual officers.

First, the police are at least in part guided by suspect descriptions. And the descriptions provided by victims already show a large racial gap: Nearly 30 percent of reported offenders were black. So if the police simply stopped suspects at a rate matching these descriptions, African-Americans would be encountering police at a rate close to both the arrest and the killing rates.

Second, the choice of where to police is mostly not up to individual officers. And police officers tend to be most active in poor neighborhoods, and African-Americans disproportionately live in poverty.

In fact, the deeper you look, the more it appears that the race problem revealed by the statistics reflects a larger problem: the structure of our society, our laws and policies.

The war on drugs illustrates this kind of racial bias. African-Americans are only slightly more likely to use drugs than whites. Yet, they are more than twice as likely to be arrested on drug-related charges. One reason is that drug sellers are being targeted more heavily than users. With fewer job options, low-income African-Americans have been disproportionately represented in the ranks of drug sellers. In addition, the drug laws penalize crack cocaine — a drug more likely to be used by African-Americans — far more harshly than powder cocaine.

Laws and policies need not explicitly discriminate to effectively discriminate. As Anatole France wrote centuries ago, “In its majestic equality, the law forbids rich and poor alike to sleep under bridges, beg in the streets and steal loaves of bread.”

(read the full article at NY Times)

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New Snowden Leak Confirms UK Spies Track Web Users’ Online Identities

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From Radio to Porn, UK Spies Track Web Users’ Online Identities

Ryan Gallagher
The Intercept : September 25, 2015

There was a simple aim at the heart of the top-secret program: Record the website browsing habits of “every visible user on the Internet.”

Before long, billions of digital records about ordinary people’s online activities were being stored every day. Among them were details cataloging visits to porn, social media and news websites, search engines, chat forums, and blogs.

The mass surveillance operation — code-named KARMA POLICE — was launched by British spies about seven years ago without any public debate or scrutiny. It was just one part of a giant global Internet spying apparatus built by the United Kingdom’s electronic eavesdropping agency, Government Communications Headquarters, or GCHQ.

The revelations about the scope of the British agency’s surveillance are contained in documents obtained by The Intercept from National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden. Previous reports based on the leaked files have exposed how GCHQ taps into Internet cables to monitor communications on a vast scale, but many details about what happens to the data after it has been vacuumed up have remained unclear.

Amid a renewed push from the U.K. government for more surveillance powers, more than two dozen documents being disclosed today by The Intercept reveal for the first time several major strands of GCHQ’s existing electronic eavesdropping capabilities.

One system builds profiles showing people’s web browsing histories. Another analyzes instant messenger communications, emails, Skype calls, text messages, cell phone locations, and social media interactions. Separate programs were built to keep tabs on “suspicious” Google searches and usage of Google Maps.

The surveillance is underpinned by an opaque legal regime that has authorized GCHQ to sift through huge archives of metadata about the private phone calls, emails and Internet browsing logs of Brits, Americans, and any other citizens — all without a court order or judicial warrant.

Metadata reveals information about a communication — such as the sender and recipient of an email, or the phone numbers someone called and at what time — but not the written content of the message or the audio of the call.

As of 2012, GCHQ was storing about 50 billion metadata records about online communications and Web browsing activity every day, with plans in place to boost capacity to 100 billion daily by the end of that year. The agency, under cover of secrecy, was working to create what it said would soon be the biggest government surveillance system anywhere in the world.

Radio radicalization

The power of KARMA POLICE was illustrated in 2009, when GCHQ launched a top-secret operation to collect intelligence about people using the Internet to listen to radio shows.

The agency used a sample of nearly 7 million metadata records, gathered over a period of three months, to observe the listening habits of more than 200,000 people across 185 countries, including the U.S., the U.K., Ireland, Canada, Mexico, Spain, the Netherlands, France, and Germany.

A summary report detailing the operation shows that one aim of the project was to research “potential misuse” of Internet radio stations to spread radical Islamic ideas.

GCHQ spies from a unit known as the Network Analysis Center compiled a list of the most popular stations that they had identified, most of which had no association with Islam, like France-based Hotmix Radio, which plays pop, rock, funk and hip-hop music.

They zeroed in on any stations found broadcasting recitations from the Quran, such as a popular Iraqi radio station and a station playing sermons from a prominent Egyptian imam named Sheikh Muhammad Jebril. They then used KARMA POLICE to find out more about these stations’ listeners, identifying them as users on Skype, Yahoo, and Facebook.

The summary report says the spies selected one Egypt-based listener for “profiling” and investigated which other websites he had been visiting. Surveillance records revealed the listener had viewed the porn site Redtube, as well as Facebook, Yahoo, YouTube, Google’s blogging platform Blogspot, the photo-sharing site Flickr, a website about Islam, and an Arab advertising site.

GCHQ’s documents indicate that the plans for KARMA POLICE were drawn up between 2007 and 2008. The system was designed to provide the agency with “either (a) a web browsing profile for every visible user on the Internet, or (b) a user profile for every visible website on the Internet.”

The origin of the surveillance system’s name is not discussed in the documents. But KARMA POLICE is also the name of a popular song released in 1997 by the Grammy Award-winning British band Radiohead, suggesting the spies may have been fans.

A verse repeated throughout the hit song includes the lyric, “This is what you’ll get, when you mess with us.”

The Black Hole

GCHQ vacuums up the website browsing histories using “probes” that tap into the international fiber-optic cables that transport Internet traffic across the world.

A huge volume of the Internet data GCHQ collects flows directly into a massive repository named Black Hole, which is at the core of the agency’s online spying operations, storing raw logs of intercepted material before it has been subject to analysis.

Black Hole contains data collected by GCHQ as part of bulk “unselected” surveillance, meaning it is not focused on particular “selected” targets and instead includes troves of data indiscriminately swept up about ordinary people’s online activities. Between August 2007 and March 2009, GCHQ documents say that Black Hole was used to store more than 1.1 trillion “events” — a term the agency uses to refer to metadata records — with about 10 billion new entries added every day.

As of March 2009, the largest slice of data Black Hole held — 41 percent — was about people’s Internet browsing histories. The rest included a combination of email and instant messenger records, details about search engine queries, information about social media activity, logs related to hacking operations, and data on people’s use of tools to browse the Internet anonymously.

Throughout this period, as smartphone sales started to boom, the frequency of people’s Internet use was steadily increasing. In tandem, British spies were working frantically to bolster their spying capabilities, with plans afoot to expand the size of Black Hole and other repositories to handle an avalanche of new data.

By 2010, according to the documents, GCHQ was logging 30 billion metadata records per day. By 2012, collection had increased to 50 billion per day, and work was underway to double capacity to 100 billion. The agency was developing “unprecedented” techniques to perform what it called “population-scale” data mining, monitoring all communications across entire countries in an effort to detect patterns or behaviors deemed suspicious. It was creating what it said would be, by 2013, “the world’s biggest” surveillance engine “to run cyber operations and to access better, more valued data for customers to make a real world difference.”

(read the full article at The Intercept)

RELATED:
New Snowden docs reveal AT&T’s “extreme willingness” to help violate your privacy
The Sunday Times’ Snowden Story is Journalism at its Worst — and Filled with Falsehoods
This Shadow Government Agency Is Scarier Than the NSA
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Levitation : Canada running global mass surveillance program; monitor 15 million downloads daily
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US Media Blacks Out New Snowden Interview With German TV (watch it here)
The U.S. Government’s Secret Plans to Spy for American Corporations
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Snowden Reveals MonsterMind : the ultimate threat to privacy
Snowden: Private Explicit Photos Often Shared By NSA Agents
Government conducts DDoS attacks, spoofs emails, manipulates polls & youtube
The ultimate goal of the NSA is total population control
Whistleblower: NSA stores 80% of all phone calls, not just metadata – full audio
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Nearly All The Emails Collected By The NSA Came From Regular Citizens, Not Terrorists
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The NSA Documents Database: All Snowden leaks sorted & searchable

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North Dakota Legalizes Police Using Weaponized Drones

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First State Legalizes Taser Drones for Cops, Thanks to a Lobbyist

Justin Glawe
The Daily Beast : August 26, 2015

North Dakota police will be free to fire ‘less than lethal’ weapons from the air thanks to the influence of Big Drone.

It is now legal for law enforcement in North Dakota to fly drones armed with everything from Tasers to tear gas thanks to a last-minute push by a pro-police lobbyist.

With all the concern over the militarization of police in the past year, no one noticed that the state became the first in the union to allow police to equip drones with “less than lethal” weapons. House Bill 1328 wasn’t drafted that way, but then a lobbyist representing law enforcement—tight with a booming drone industry—got his hands on it.

The bill’s stated intent was to require police to obtain a search warrant from a judge in order to use a drone to search for criminal evidence. In fact, the original draft of Representative Rick Becker’s bill would have banned all weapons on police drones.

Then Bruce Burkett of the North Dakota Peace Officer’s Association was allowed by the state house committee to amend HB 1328 and limit the prohibition only to lethal weapons. “Less than lethal” weapons like rubber bullets, pepper spray, tear gas, sound cannons, and Tasers are therefore permitted on police drones.

Becker, the bill’s Republican sponsor, said he had to live with it.

“This is one I’m not in full agreement with. I wish it was any weapon,” he said at a hearing in March. “In my opinion there should be a nice, red line: Drones should not be weaponized. Period.”

Even “less than lethal” weapons can kill though. At least 39 people have been killed by police Tasers in 2015 so far, according to The Guardian. Bean bags, rubber bullets, and flying tear gas canisters have also maimed, if not killed, in the U.S. and abroad.

Becker said he worried about police firing on criminal suspects remotely, not unlike U.S. Air Force pilots who bomb the so-called Islamic State, widely known as ISIS, from more than 5,000 miles away.

“When you’re not on the ground, and you’re making decisions, you’re sort of separate,” Becker said in March. “Depersonalized.”

Drones have been in use for decades by the military, but their high prices have prevented police departments from obtaining them until recently. Money’s no problem for the the Grand Forks County Sheriff’s Department, though: A California manufacturer loaned them two drones.

Grand Forks County Sheriff Bob Rost said his department’s drones are only equipped with cameras and he doesn’t think he should need a warrant to go snooping.

(read the full article at The Daily Beast

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UK put three-year-old child on terrorist watch list

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London child aged THREE in terror alert over radicalisation

David Churchill
The London Standard : July 27, 2015

A three-year-old child is among hundreds of young Londoners who have been identified as potential future extremists or at risk of radicalization.

The disturbing tally, revealed today by the Evening Standard, is contained in new statistics which paint the most detailed picture so far of the scale of the security challenge facing police and intelligence agencies in the capital.

They show that a total of 1,069 Londoners have been referred to the government’s “Channel” counter-extremism programme since the start of 2012.

That means that the capital accounts for about a quarter of the 4,000 referrals to the programme nationwide since then. The Standard, which obtained the figures from the London Assembly, can also reveal that:

Since September last year, 400 Channel referrals were made for teenagers and children under 18.

450 Londoners, including 300 under-18s, are part of the Met’s “Prevent Case Management” process, linked to Channel.

(read the full article at The London Standard)

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Greece Is Just The Beginning: The 21st Century ‘Enclosures’ Have Begun

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Paul Craig Roberts : July 15, 2015

All of Europe, and insouciant Americans and Canadians as well, are put on notice by Syriza’s surrender to the agents of the One Percent. The message from the collapse of Syriza is that the social welfare system throughout the West will be dismantled.

The Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipras has agreed to the One Percent’s looting of the Greek people of the advances in social welfare that the Greeks achieved in the post-World War II 20th century. Pensions and health care for the elderly are on the way out. The One Percent needs the money.

The protected Greek islands, ports, water companies, airports, the entire panoply of national patrimony, is to be sold to the One Percent. At bargain prices, of course, but the subsequent water bills will not be bargains.

This is the third round of austerity imposed on Greece, austerity that has required the complicity of the Greeks’ own governments. The austerity agreements serve as a cover for the looting of the Greek people literally of everything. The IMF is one member of the Troika that is imposing the austerity, despite the fact that the IMF’s economists have said that the austerity measures have proven to be a mistake. The Greek economy has been driven down by the austerity. Therefore, Greece’s indebtedness has increased as a burden. Each round of austerity makes the debt less payable.

But when the One Percent is looting, facts are of no interest. The austerity, that is the looting, has gone forward despite the fact that the IMF’s economists cannot justify it.

Greek democracy has proven itself to be impotent. The looting is going forward despite the vote one week ago by the Greek people rejecting it. So what we observe in Alexis Tsipras is an elected prime minister representing not the Greek people but the One Percent.

The One Percent’s sigh of relief has been heard around the world. The last European leftist party, or what passes as leftist, has been brought to heel, just like Britain’s Labour Party, the French Socialist Party, and all the rest.

Without an ideology to sustain it, the European left is dead (read the full article at Paul Craig Roberts)

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The Euro-Summit ‘Agreement’ on Greece – annotated by Yanis Varoufakis

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Yanis Varoufakis
July 15, 2015

The Euro Summit statement (or Terms of Greece’s Surrender – as it will go down in history) follows, annotated by yours truly. The original text is untouched with my notes confined to square brackets (and in red). Read and weep… [For a pdf copy click here.]

Euro Summit Statement Brussels, 12 July 2015

The Euro Summit stresses the crucial need to rebuild trust with the Greek authorities [i.e. the Greek government must introduce new stringent austerity directed at the weakest Greeks that have already suffered grossly] as a pre- requisite for a possible future agreement on a new ESM programme [i.e. for a new extend-and-pretend loan].

In this context, the ownership by the Greek authorities is key [i.e. the Syriza government must sign a declaration of having defected to the troika’s ‘logic’], and successful implementation should follow policy commitments.

A euro area Member State requesting financial assistance from the ESM is expected to address, wherever possible, a similar request to the IMF This is a precondition for the Eurogroup to agree on a new ESM programme. Therefore Greece will request continued IMF support (monitoring and financing) from March 2016 [i.e. Berlin continues to believe that the Commission cannot be trusted to ‘police’ Europe’s own ‘bailout’ programs].

Given the need to rebuild trust with Greece, the Euro Summit welcomes the commitments of the Greek authorities to legislate without delay a first set of measures [i.e. Greece must subject itself to fiscal waterboarding, even before any financing is offered]. These measures, taken in full prior agreement with the Institutions, will include:

By 15 July

  • the streamlining of the VAT system [i.e. making it more regressive, through rate rises that encourage more VAT evasion]and the broadening of the tax base to increase revenue [i.e. dealing a major blow at the only Greek growth industry – tourism].
  • upfront measures to improve long-term sustainability of the pension system as part of a comprehensive pension reform programme [i.e. reducing the lowest of the low of pensions, while ignoring that the depletion of pension funds’ capital due to the 2012 troika-designed PSI and the ill effects of low employment & undeclared paid labour].
  • the safeguarding of the full legal independence of ELSTAT [i.e. the troika demands complete control of the way Greece’s budget balance is computed, with a view to controlling fully the magnitude of austerity it imposes on the government.]
  • full implementation of the relevant provisions of the Treaty on Stability, Coordination and Governance in the Economic and Monetary Union, in particular by making the Fiscal Council operational before finalizing the MoU and introducing quasi-automatic spending cuts in case of deviations from ambitious primary surplus targets after seeking advice from the Fiscal Council and subject to prior approval of the Institutions [i.e. the Greek government, which knows that the imposed fiscal targets will never be achieved under the imposed austerity, must commit to further, automated austerity as a result of the troika’s newest failures.]

By 22 July

  • the adoption of the Code of Civil Procedure, which is a major overhaul of procedures and arrangements for the civil justice system and can significantly accelerate the judicial process and reduce costs [i.e. foreclosures, evictions and liquidation of thousands of homes and businesses who are not in a position to keep up with their mortgages/loans.]
  • the transposition of the BRRD with support from the European Commission.

Immediately, and only subsequent to legal implementation of the first four above-mentioned measures as well as endorsement of all the commitments included in this document by the Greek Parliament, verified by the Institutions and the Eurogroup, may a decision to mandate the Institutions to negotiate a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) be taken [i.e. The Syriza government must be humiliated to the extent that it is asked to impose harsh austerity upon itself as a first step towards requesting another toxic bailout loan, of the sort that Syriza became internationally famous for opposing.]

This decision would be taken subject to national procedures having been completed and if the preconditions of Article 13 of the ESM Treaty are met on the basis of the assessment referred to in Article 13.1. In order to form the basis for a successful conclusion of the MoU, the Greek offer of reform measures needs to be seriously strengthened to take into account the strongly deteriorated economic and fiscal position of the country during the last year [i.e. the Syriza government must accept the lie that it, and not the asphyxiation tactics of the creditors, caused the sharp economic deterioration of the past six months – the victim is being asked to take the blame by the on behalf of the villain.]

The Greek government needs to formally commit to strengthening their proposals [i.e. to make them more regressive and more inhuman] in a number of areas identified by the Institutions, with a satisfactory clear timetable for legislation and implementation, including structural benchmarks, milestones and quantitative benchmarks, to have clarity on the direction of policies over the medium-run. They notably need, in agreement with the Institutions, to:

  • carry out ambitious pension reforms [i.e. cuts] and specify policies to fully compensate for the fiscal impact of the Constitutional Court ruling on the 2012 pension reform [i.e. cancel the Court’s decision in favour of pensioners] and to implement the zero deficit clause [i.e. cut by 85% the secondary pensions that the Syriza government fought tooth and nail to preserve over the past five months] or mutually agreeable alternative measures [i.e. find ‘equivalent’ victims] by October 2015;
  • adopt more ambitious product market reforms with a clear timetable for implementation of all OECD toolkit I recommendations [i.e. the recommendations that the OECD has now renounced after having re-designed these reforms in collaboration with the Syriza government], including Sunday trade, sales periods, pharmacy ownership, milk and bakeries, except over-the-counter pharmaceutical products, which will be implemented in a next step, as well as for the opening of macro-critical closed professions (e.g. ferry transportation). On the follow-up of the OECD toolkit-II, manufacturing needs to be included in the prior action;
  • on energy markets, proceed with the privatisation of the electricity transmission network operator (ADMIE), unless replacement measures can be found that have equivalent effect on competition, as agreed by the Institutions [i.e. ADMIE will be sold off to specific foreign vested interests at the behest of the Institutions.]
  • on labour markets, undertake rigorous reviews and modernisation of collective bargaining [i.e. to make sure that no collective bargaining is allowed], industrial action [i.e. that must be banned] and, in line with the relevant EU directive and best practice, collective dismissals [i.e. that should be allowed at the employers’ whim], along the timetable and the approach agreed with the Institutions [i.e. the Troika decides.]

On the basis of these reviews, labour market policies should be aligned with international and European best practices, and should not involve a return to past policy settings which are not compatible with the goals of promoting sustainable and inclusive growth [i.e. there should be no mechanisms that waged labour can use to extract better conditions from employers.]

  • adopt the necessary steps to strengthen the financial sector, including decisive action on non-performing loans [i.e. a tsunami of foreclosures is ante portas] and measures to strengthen governance of the HFSF and the banks [i.e. the Greek people who maintain the HFSF and the banks will have precisely zero control over the HFSF and the banks.], in particular by eliminating any possibility for political interference especially in appointment processes. [i.e. except the political interference of the Troika.] On top of that, the Greek authorities shall take the following actions:
  • to develop a significantly scaled up privatisation programme with improved governance; valuable Greek assets will be transferred to an independent fund that will monetize the assets through privatisations and other means [i.e. an East German-like Treuhand is envisaged to sell off all public property but without the equivalent large investments that W. Germany put into E. Germany in compensation for the Treuhand disaster.] The monetization of the assets will be one source to make the scheduled repayment of the new loan of ESM and generate over the life of the new loan a targeted total of EUR 50bn of which EUR 25bn will be used for the repayment of recapitalization of banks and other assets and 50 % of every remaining euro (i.e. 50% of EUR 25bn) will be used for decreasing the debt to GDP ratio and the remaining 50 % will be used for investments [i.e. public property will be sold off and the pitiful sums will go toward servicing an un-serviceable debt – with precisely nothing left over for public or private investments.] This fund would be established in Greece and be managed by the Greek authorities under the supervision of the relevant European Institutions [i.e. it will be nominally in Greece but, just like the HFSF or the Bank of Greece, it will be controlled fully by the creditors.] In agreement with Institutions and building on best international practices, a legislative framework should be adopted to ensure transparent procedures and adequate asset sale pricing, according to OECD principles and standards on the management of State Owned Enterprises (SOEs) [i.e. the Troika will do what it likes.]
  • in line with the Greek government ambitions, to modernise and significantly strengthen the Greek administration, and to put in place a programme, under the auspices of the European Commission, for capacity-building and de-politicizing the Greek administration [i.e. Turning Greece into a democracy-free zone modelled on Brussels, a form of supposedly technocratic government, which is politically toxic and macro-economically inept] A first proposal should be provided by 20 July after discussions with the Institutions. The Greek government commits to reduce further the costs of the Greek administration [i.e. to reduce the lowest wages while increasing a little the wages some of the Troika-friendly apparatchiks], in line with a schedule agreed with the Institutions.
  • to fully normalize working methods with the Institutions, including the necessary work on the ground in Athens, to improve programme implementation and monitoring [i.e. The Troika strikes back and demands that the Greek government invite it to return to Athens as Conqueror – the Carthaginian Peace in all its glory.] The government needs to consult and agree with the Institutions on all draft legislation in relevant areas with adequate time before submitting it for public consultation or to Parliament [i.e. Greek Parliament must, again, after five months of short-lived independence, become an appendage of the Troika – passing translated legislation mechanistically.] The Euro Summit stresses again that implementation is key, and in that context welcomes the intention of the Greek authorities to request by 20 July support from the Institutions and Member States for technical assistance, and asks the European Commission to coordinate this support from Europe;
  • With the exception of the humanitarian crisis bill, the Greek government will reexamine with a view to amending legislations that were introduced counter to the February 20 agreement by backtracking on previous programme commitments or identify clear compensatory equivalents for the vested rights that were subsequently created [i.e. In addition to promising that it will no longer legislative autonomously, the Greek government will retrospectively annul all Bills it passed over the past five months.]

The above-listed commitments are minimum requirements to start the negotiations with the Greek authorities. However, the Euro Summit made it clear that the start of negotiations does not preclude any final possible agreement on a new ESM programme, which will have to be based on a decision on the whole package (including financing needs, debt sustainability and possible bridge financing) [i.e. self-flagellate, impose further austerity upon an economy crushed by austerity, and then we shall see whether the Eurogroup will grave you with another toxic, unsustainable loans.]

The Euro Summit takes note of the possible programme financing needs of between EUR 82 and 86bn, as assessed by the Institutions [i.e. the Eurogroup conjured up a huge number, well above what is necessary, in order to signal the debt restructuring is out and that debt bondage ad infinitum is the name of the game.] It invites the Institutions to explore possibilities to reduce the financing envelope, through an alternative fiscal path or higher privatisation proceeds [i.e. And, yes, it may possible that pigs will fly.] Restoring market access, which is an objective of any financial assistance programme, lowers the need to draw on the total financing envelope [i.e. which is something the creditors will do their utmost to avoid, e.g. by ensuring that Greece will only enter the ECB’s quantitative easing program in 2018, once quantitative easing is… over.]

The Euro Summit takes note of the urgent financing needs of Greece which underline the need for very swift progress in reaching a decision on a new MoU: these are estimated to amount to EUR 7bn by 20 July and an additional EUR 5bn by mid August [i.e. Extend and Pretend gets another spin.] The Euro Summit acknowledges the importance of ensuring that the Greek sovereign can clear its arrears to the IMF and to the Bank of Greece and honour its debt obligations in the coming weeks to create conditions which allow for an orderly conclusion of the negotiations. The risks of not concluding swiftly the negotiations remain fully with Greece [i.e. Once more, demanding that the victim takes all the blame in behalf of the villain.] The Euro Summit invites the Eurogroup to discuss these issues as a matter of urgency.

Given the acute challenges of the Greek financial sector, the total envelope of a possible new ESM programme would have to include the establishment of a buffer of EUR 10 to 25bn for the banking sector in order to address potential bank recapitalisation needs and resolution costs, of which EUR 10bn would be made available immediately in a segregated account at the ESM [i.e. the Troika admits that the 2013-14 recapitalisation of the banks, which would only need a top up of at most 10 billion, was insufficient – but, of course, blames it on… the Syriza government.]

The Euro Summit is aware that a rapid decision on a new programme is a condition to allow banks to reopen, thus avoiding an increase in the total financing envelope [i.e. The Troika closed Greece’s banks to force the Syriza government to capitulate and now cries out for their re-opening.] The ECB/SSM will conduct a comprehensive assessment after the summer. The overall buffer will cater for possible capital shortfalls following the comprehensive assessment after the legal framework is applied.

There are serious concerns regarding the sustainability of Greek debt [N.b. Really? Gosh!] This is due to the easing of policies during the last twelve months, which resulted in the recent deterioration in the domestic macroeconomic and financial environment [i.e. It is not the Extend and Pretend ‘bailout’ loans of 2010 and 2012 that, in conjunction with GDP-sapping austerity, caused the debt to scale immense heights – it was the prospect, and reality, of a government that criticized the the Extend and Pretend ‘bailout’ loans that… caused Debt’s Unustainability!]

The Euro Summit recalls that the euro area Member States have, throughout the last few years, adopted a remarkable set of measures supporting Greece’s debt sustainability, which have smoothed Greece’s debt servicing path and reduced costs significantly [i.e. The 1st & 2nd ‘bailout’ programs failed, the debt skyrocketing as it was always going to since the real purpose of the ‘bailout’ programs was to transfer banking losses to Europe’s taxpayers.] Against this background, in the context of a possible future ESM programme, and in line with the spirit of the Eurogroup statement of November 2012 [i.e. a promise of debt restructure to the previous Greek government was never kept by the creditors], the Eurogroup stands ready to consider, if necessary, possible additional measures (possible longer grace and payment periods) aiming at ensuring that gross financing needs remain at a sustainable level. These measures will be conditional upon full implementation of the measures to be agreed in a possible new programme and will be considered after the first positive completion of a review [i.e. Yet again, the Troika shall let the Greek government labour under un-payable debt and when, as a result, the program fails, poverty rises further and incomes collapse much more, then we may haircut some of the debt – as the Troika did in 2012.]

The Euro Summit stresses that nominal haircuts on the debt cannot be undertaken [N.b. The Syriza government has been suggesting, since January, a moderate debt restructure, with no haircuts, maximizing the expected net present value of Greece’s repayments to creditors’ – which was rejected by the Troika because their aim was, simply, to humiliate Syriza.] Greek authorities reiterate their unequivocal commitment to honour their financial obligations to all their creditors fully and in a timely manner [N.b. Which can only happen after a substantial debt restrucuture.] Provided that all the necessary conditions contained in this document are fulfilled, the Eurogroup and ESM Board of Governors may, in accordance with Article 13.2 of the ESM Treaty, mandate the Institutions to negotiate a new ESM programme, if the preconditions of Article 13 of the ESM Treaty are met on the basis of the assessment referred to in Article 13.1. To help support growth and job creation in Greece (in the next 3-5 years) [N.b. Having already destroyed growth and jobs for the past five years…] the Commission will work closely with the Greek authorities to mobilise up to EUR 35bn (under various EU programmes) to fund investment and economic activity, including in SMEs [i.e. Will use the same order of magnitude of structural funds, plus some fantasy money, as were available in 2010-2014.] As an exceptional measure and given the unique situation of Greece the Commission will propose to increase the level of pre-financing by EUR 1bn to give an immediate boost to investment to be dealt with by the EU co-legislators [i.e. Of the headline 35 billion, consider 1 billion as real money.] The Investment Plan for Europe will also provide funding opportunities for Greece [i.e. the same plan that most Eurozone ministers of finance refer to as a phantom program].

(Source: Yanis Varoufakis)

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Psychologists group colluded with Pentagon, CIA on interrogations

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Greg Miller
Washington Post : July 10, 2015

Leaders of the American Psychological Association secretly collaborated with officials at the Pentagon and CIA to weaken the association’s ethical guidelines and allow psychologists to take part in coercive interrogation programs after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, according to a report released Friday.

The report contains the findings of an investigation led by a former federal prosecutor and appears to represent the most detailed examination to date of the complicity of psychologists in interrogation programs that at times relied on torture.

The probe concluded that the association’s ethics director and others had “colluded with important [Department of Defense] officials to have APA issue loose, high-level ethical guidelines that did not constrain” the Pentagon in its interrogation of terrorism suspects at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The association’s “principal motive in doing so was to align APA and curry favor with DOD.”

The investigation also found that “current and former APA officials had very substantial interactions with the CIA in the 2001 to 2004 time period” when the agency was using waterboarding and other brutal measures to extract information from detainees.

(read the full article at Washington Post)

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Buying Silence: How the Saudi Foreign Ministry controls Arab media

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Wikileaks

On Monday, Saudi Arabia celebrated the beheading of its 100th prisoner this year. The story was nowhere to be seen on Arab media despite the story’s circulation on wire services. Even international media was relatively mute about this milestone compared to what it might have been if it had concerned a different country. How does a story like this go unnoticed?

Today’s release of the WikiLeaks “Saudi Cables” from the Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs show how it’s done.

The oil-rich Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and its ruling family take a systematic approach to maintaining the country’s positive image on the international stage. Most world governments engage in PR campaigns to fend off criticism and build relations in influential places. Saudi Arabia controls its image by monitoring media and buying loyalties from Australia to Canada and everywhere in between.

Documents reveal the extensive efforts to monitor and co-opt Arab media, making sure to correct any deviations in regional coverage of Saudi Arabia and Saudi-related matters. Saudi Arabia’s strategy for co-opting Arab media takes two forms, corresponding to the “carrot and stick” approach, referred to in the documents as “neutralisation” and “containment”. The approach is customised depending on the market and the media in question.

“Contain” and “Neutralise”

The initial reaction to any negative coverage in the regional media is to “neutralise” it. The term is used frequently in the cables and it pertains to individual journalists and media institutions whose silence and co-operation has been bought. “Neutralised” journalists and media institutions are not expected to praise and defend the Kingdom, only to refrain from publishing news that reflects negatively on the Kingdom, or any criticism of its policies. The “containment” approach is used when a more active propaganda effort is required. Journalists and media institutions relied upon for “containment” are expected not only to sing the Kingdom’s praises, but to lead attacks on any party that dares to air criticisms of the powerful Gulf state.

One of the ways “neutralisation” and “containment” are ensured is by purchasing hundreds or thousands of subscriptions in targeted publications. These publications are then expected to return the favour by becoming an “asset” in the Kingdom’s propaganda strategy. A document listing the subscriptions that needed renewal by 1 January 2010 details a series of contributory sums meant for two dozen publications in Damascus, Abu Dhabi, Beirut, Kuwait, Amman and Nouakchott. The sums range from $500 to 9,750 Kuwaiti Dinars ($33,000). The Kingdom effectively buys reverse “shares” in the media outlets, where the cash “dividends” flow the opposite way, from the shareholder to the media outlet. In return Saudi Arabia gets political “dividends” – an obliging press.

An example of these co-optive practices in action can be seen in an exchange between the Saudi Foreign Ministry and its Embassy in Cairo. On 24 November 2011 Egypt’s Arabic-language broadcast station ONTV hosted the Saudi opposition figure Saad al-Faqih, which prompted the Foreign Ministry to task the embassy with inquiring into the channel. The Ministry asked the embassy to find out how “to co-opt it or else we must consider it standing in the line opposed to the Kingdom’s policies“.

The document reports that the billionaire owner of the station, Naguib Sawiris, did not want to be “opposed to the Kingdom’s policies” and that he scolded the channel director, asking him “never to host al-Faqih again”. He also asked the Ambassador if he’d like to be “a guest on the show”.

The Saudi Cables are rife with similar examples, some detailing the figures and the methods of payment. These range from small but vital sums of around $2000/year to developing country media outlets – a figure the Guinean News Agency “urgently needs” as “it would solve many problems that the agency is facing” – to millions of dollars, as in the case of Lebanese right-wing television station MTV.

Confrontation

The “neutralisation” and “containment” approaches are not the only techniques the Saudi Ministry is willing to employ. In cases where “containment” fails to produce the desired effect, the Kingdom moves on to confrontation. In one example, the Foreign Minister was following a Royal Decree dated 20 January 2010 to remove Iran’s new Arabic-language news network, Al-Alam, from the main Riyadh-based regional communications satellite operator, Arabsat. After the plan failed, Saud Al Faisal sought to “weaken its broadcast signal“.

The documents show concerns within the Saudi administration over the social upheavals of 2011, which became known in the international media as the “Arab Spring”. The cables note with concern that after the fall of Mubarak, coverage of the upheavals in Egyptian media was “being driven by public opinion instead of driving public opinion”. The Ministry resolved “to give financial support to influential media institutions in Tunisia“, the birthplace of the “Arab Spring”.

The cables reveal that the government employs a different approach for its own domestic media. There, a wave of the Royal hand is all that is required to adjust the output of state-controlled media. A complaint from former Lebanese Prime Minister and Saudi citizen Saad Hariri concerning articles critical of him in the Saudi-owned Al-Hayat and Asharq Al-Awsat newspapers prompted a directive to “stop these type of articles” from the Foreign Ministry.

This is a general overview of the Saudi Foreign Ministry’s strategy in dealing with the media. WikiLeaks’ Saudi Cables contain numerous other examples that form an indictment of both the Kingdom and the state of the media globally.

Source: wikileaks

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VIDEO shows police tasering and choking 13-year-old boy

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San Diego Union-Tribune says:

The struggle, which occurred around 5:30 p.m. behind a grocery store on South Mission Road near Ammunition Road, was videotaped by an onlooker with a cellphone and posted online Sunday. A sheriff’s spokeswoman said the deputy used his Taser after being bit on the hand by the boy during a struggle.

The video shows the teen on the ground, leaning against the deputy, who is on his knees, when the deputy puts his Taser up against his back and stuns him. Onlookers can be heard yelling profanities, with one shouting, “he’s a kid” and another saying, “police brutality right here.” A voice also can be heard saying, “You’re going to get sued, dude.”

A witness explained to FilmingCops.com:

The child was 13-yrs-old (on the video other witnesses assume he’s “15 or 16″ but according to the source he is in fact 13). He was riding on his skateboard with other young boys behind a shopping center, and there happened to be a patrol car parked nearby.

At some point an officer inside of the patrol car told the 13-yr-old child to “get in the car.”

The child replied, “Why?”

The officer then warned, “You don’t want to get dropped.”

The officer apparently knew the boy was only 13 and not suspected of criminal wrongdoing as the San Diego Union-Tribune reported:

Sheriff’s Department spokeswoman Jan Caldwell said the incident began when a woman reported that her son had been missing about a day and a half. A deputy went to her home and found out from the woman where her son liked to hang out. The deputy found the boy behind the store with a group of youths riding skateboards.

“He approached him, identified him, verified who he was and said he had to come with him,” Caldwell said. “The juvenile refused.

The Free Thought Project says

According to witnesses, the officer then attacked the boy, hitting him from behind as the boy was skateboarding. He then got on the boys back and began choking him, according to witnesses. The video shows the choking and the subsequent tasering to the child’s spine.

The boy can be heard in the video writhing in pain as the officer attempts to subdue him.

“Put your fucking hands behind your back!” shouts the officer. To which the child replies, “I can’t.”

The witnesses can be heard telling the officer, “He’s just a kid.”

The officer then loads the beaten and tasered child into his patrol car and begins walking towards the people filming. The video then ends.

According to the witnesses, the officer then proceeded to confiscate everyone’s cellphones and deleted their video. This one video below managed to make it out.

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Wikileaks Releases Documents from Shady “Trade in Services Agreement,” or TISA

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Michael Krieger
Liberty Blitzkrieg: June 5, 2015

If it sounds complicated, it is. The important point is that this trade agreement contains a crucial discussion of governments’ abilities to meaningfully protect civil liberties. And it is not being treated as a human rights discussion. It is being framed solely as an economic issue, ignoring the implications for human rights, and it is being held in a classified document that the public is now seeing months after it was negotiated, and only because it was released through WikiLeaks. 

The process is also highly secretive—in fact, trade agreement texts are classified. While the executive branch does consult with members of Congress, even congressional staffers with security clearance have until recently been prevented from seeing the texts. Furthermore, certain trade industry advisers are allowed access to U.S. negotiating objectives and negotiators that the public and public interest groups do not have.

– From the Slate article: Privacy Is Not a Barrier to Trade

If you haven’t heard about about the Trade in Services Agreement, aka TISA, don’t worry, you’re not alone. While I had heard of it before, I never read anything substantial about it until today. What sparked my reading interest on the subject were a series of very troubling articles published via several media outlets following a document dump by Wikileaks. Here’s how the whistleblower organization describes the TISA leak on it document release page:

WikiLeaks releases today 17 secret documents from the ongoing TISA (Trade In Services Agreement) negotiations which cover the United States, the European Union and 23 other countries including Turkey, Mexico, Canada, Australia, Pakistan, Taiwan & Israel — which together comprise two-thirds of global GDP. “Services” now account for nearly 80 per cent of the US and EU economies and even in developing countries like Pakistan account for 53 per cent of the economy. While the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) has become well known in recent months in the United States, the TISA is the larger component of the strategic TPP-TISA-TTIP ‘T-treaty trinity’. All parts of the trinity notably exclude the ‘BRICS’ countries of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. 

I’ve covered the extreme dangers of what’s colloquially known as trade “fast track” authority previously. In the post, As the Senate Prepares to Vote on “Fast Track,” Here’s a Quick Primer on the Dangers of the TPP, I noted:

Passing this corporate giveaway masquerading as a “free trade deal” is a lengthy process; a process that begins today with a Senate vote on Trade Promotion Authority (TPA), also known as “fast track.”  Passing TPA would be Congress agreeing to neuter itself to a yes or no vote on a trade pact and ceding its power to amend it. Even worse, it would give trade deals this expedited process for six years, thus outlasting the current Administration, and applying to other “trade” deals like the TTIPMind you, TPA is being voted on while the TPP text remains completely hidden from the public.

Naturally, “fast track” ultimately passed through the corrupt, rancid body known as the U.S. Senate despite the best efforts of people such as Elizabeth Warren to stop it. As noted in the above paragraph, fast track isn’t just about the TPP, it covers other deals already well in the works such as TTIP and TISA. Makes you wonder whether these other deals are even worse.

For more information on TISA, let’s turn to the Huffington Post:

The latest leak purports to include 17 documents from negotiations on the Trade In Services Agreement, a blandly named trade deal that would cover the United States, the European Union and more than 20 other countries. More than 80 percent of the United States economy is in service sectors.

According to the Wikileaks release, TISA, as the deal is known, would take a major step towards deregulating financial industries, and could affect everything from local maritime and air traffic rules to domestic regulations on almost anything if an internationally traded service is involved.

The pact would be one of three enormous deals whose passage through Congress could be eased with passage of Trade Promotion Authority, also known as fast-track authority. The Senate has passed fast-track, and it could be taken up in the House this month.

“Today’s leaks of TISA (trade in services) text reveal once again how dangerous Fast Track Authority is when it comes to protecting citizen rights vs. corporate rights,” he added. “This TISA text again favors privatization over public services, limits governmental action on issues ranging from safety to the environment using trade as a smokescreen to limit citizen rights.”

The Office of the United States Trade Representative and top European officials have repeatedly denied that TISA or the Transatlantic deal would impact local laws, releasing a joint statement to that effect earlier this spring.

Still, the Wikileaks documents suggest that World Trade Organization-style tribunals would be expanded under TISA, and that such tribunals convened to resolve trade disputes can impact local laws. One such WTO tribunal ruled last month that the United States must repeal its laws requiring meat to be labeled with its country of origin, or face punitive tariffs on exports.

I covered this ruling a couple of weeks ago in the post: Congress Moves to Eliminate Labels Showing Consumers Where Meat Comes from Following WTO Ruling

Moving along to the UK Independent’s coverage of TISA:

Wikileaks has warned that governments negotiating a far-reaching global service agreement are ‘surrendering a large part of their global sovereignty’ and exacerbating the social inequality of poorer countries in the process.

The Trade in Services Agreement exposed in a 17 document dump by Wikileaks on Thursday relates to ongoing negotiations to lock market liberalizations into global law.

Under the agreement, retailers like Zara or Marks & Spencers would have the right to open stores in any of the signing countries and be treated like domestic companies. A nationalized service, such as the British telecoms industry in the eighties, would have to ensure it was not harming competition under these terms. 

Wikileaks says that corporations would be able to use the law in its current form to hold sway over governments, deciding whether laws promoting culture, protecting the environment or ensuring equal access to services were ‘unnecessarily burdensome’, or whether knowledge of indigenous culture or public services was essential to achieve ‘parity’.

“In other words, unaccountable private ‘trade’ tribunals would decide how countries could regulate activities that are fundamental to social well-being,” Wikileaks said.

No wonder these deals are being keep so secret. Let’s now turn to Slate, which examined TISA’s potential threat to a human right that is increasingly under attack: personal privacy.

On Wednesday, WikiLeaks released the draft text of the biggest international agreement you’ve probably never heard of: the Trade in Services Agreement, or TISA. And buried in one of the 12 leaked chapters (which are mostly on things like “air transport services” and “competitive delivery services”) is a volatile and crucial debate about online privacy and the global Internet.

Trade agreements used to focus on things like tariffs, but they aren’t just about trade anymore. They consist of hundreds of chapters of detailed regulations, on subjects ranging from textiles to intellectual property law. TISA purports to promote fair and open global competition in services, thus increasing jobs. (You may have also heard about the Trans-Pacific Partnership, another trade agreement currently being negotiated and criticized. This one’s even more mammoth.) TISA is being negotiated between 23 countries representing some 75 percent of the global services market. Buried in its e-commerce annex are rules that will reshape the relationship between the free flow of information and online privacy.

The Internet is global, but privacy regulations incorporate localized norms. The U.S., for example, protects only some things, like your video-watching history and health information, while the European Union has a comprehensive framework for safeguarding far more information.

But TISA is different. The leaked draft language, proposed by the U.S. and several other countries, states that a government may not prevent a foreign services company “from transferring, [accessing, processing or storing] information, including personal information, within or outside the Party’s territory.” Essentially, this says that privacy protections could be treated as barriers to trade. This language could strike most privacy regulations as they apply to foreign companies—and not just in the EU. It would also apply to U.S. regulation of foreign companies at home. For instance, U.S. health privacy law requires patient consent for health information to be shared. This, technically, is a restriction on transferring information that could be invalidated by TISA, if nothing changes. 

The subject matter TISA covers is already governed by a global agreement called GATS, which has an exception for privacy protections. In other words, privacy protections are explicitly not treated as trade barriers in GATS. The leaked draft language from TISA shows that there is an ongoing debate between countries over whether to create an explicit privacy exception within TISA itself. The result of this debate is hugely important for states that want privacy laws.

If it sounds complicated, it is. The important point is that this trade agreement contains a crucial discussion of governments’ abilities to meaningfully protect civil liberties. And it is not being treated as a human rights discussion. It is being framed solely as an economic issue, ignoring the implications for human rights, and it is being held in a classified document that the public is now seeing months after it was negotiated, and only because it was released through WikiLeaks. 

TISA’s contents are not all bad, and protection of an open global Internet through trade could theoretically be a good thing. But these fine points should be openly debated, not bartered away in an enormous agreement that bundles privacy together with maritime transport services.

The process is also highly secretive—in fact, trade agreement texts are classified. While the executive branch does consult with members of Congress, even congressional staffers with security clearance have until recently been prevented from seeing the texts. Furthermore, certain trade industry advisers are allowed access to U.S. negotiating objectives and negotiators that the public and public interest groups do not have.

Trade agreements governing civil liberties (and jobs, and the environment, and public health … ) need to receive meaningful input from the public and its real representatives—not after negotiations are concluded, not through a Congress hampered by excessive executive secrecy, and not through vague negotiating objectives that fail to meaningfully address human rights and other values.

Fast track just passed in the Senate. Senators including Bernie Sanders of Vermont, Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, and Sherrod Brown of Ohio tried to stop its passage but narrowly lost. Now, the vote is coming up in the House—maybe as soon as this week. About 2 million Americans have already signed a petition against the legislation. It would be sad indeed if one of the few times Congress decides to actually pass legislation, embrace bipartisanship, and show support of the president is a law that enables states to bargain away citizens’ freedoms behind closed doors.

Actually, it would’t be sad, it would make perfect sense. As George Carlin so accurately noted:

Screen Shot 2015-06-04 at 9.47.50 AM

Finally, from the New Republic:

On Wednesday, WikiLeaks brought this agreement into the spotlight by releasing 17 key TiSA-related documents, including 11 full chapters under negotiation. Though the outline for this agreement has been in place for nearly a year, these documents were supposed to remain classified for five years after being signed, an example of the secrecy surrounding the agreement, which outstrips even the TPP.

TiSA has been negotiated since 2013, between the United States, the European Union, and 22 other nations, including Canada, Mexico, Australia, Israel, South Korea, Japan, Norway, Switzerland, Turkey, and others scattered across South America and Asia. Overall, 12 of the G20 nations are represented, and negotiations have carefully incorporated practically every advanced economy except for the “BRICS” coalition of emerging markets (which stands for Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa).

The deal would liberalize global trade of services, an expansive definition that encompasses air and maritime transport, package delivery, e-commerce, telecommunications, accountancy, engineering, consulting, health care, private education, financial services and more, covering close to 80 percent of the U.S. economy. Though member parties insist that the agreement would simply stop discrimination against foreign service providers, the text shows that TiSA would restrict how governments can manage their public laws through an effective regulatory cap. It could also dismantle and privatize state-owned enterprises, and turn those services over to the private sector. You begin to sound like the guy hanging out in front of the local food co-op passing around leaflets about One World Government when you talk about TiSA, but it really would clear the way for further corporate domination over sovereign countries and their citizens.

You need to either be a trade lawyer or a very alert reader to know what’s going on. But between the text and a series of analyses released by WikiLeaks, you get a sense for what the countries negotiating TiSA want.

First, they want to limit regulation on service sectors, whether at the national, provincial or local level. The agreement has “standstill” clauses to freeze regulations in place and prevent future rulemaking for professional licensing and qualifications or technical standards. And a companion “ratchet” clause would make any broken trade barrier irreversible.

No restrictions could be placed on foreign investment—corporations could control entire sectors. 

Corporations would get to comment on any new regulatory attempts, and enforce this regulatory straitjacket through a dispute mechanism similar to the investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) process in other trade agreements, where they could win money equal to “expected future profits” lost through violations of the regulatory cap.

For an example of how this would work, let’s look at financial services. It too has a “standstill” clause, which given the unpredictability of future crises could leave governments helpless to stop a new and dangerous financial innovation. In fact, Switzerland has proposed that all TiSA countries must allow “any new financial service” to enter their market. So-called “prudential regulations” to protect investors or depositors are theoretically allowed, but they must not act contrary to TiSA rules, rendering them somewhat irrelevant.

Most controversially, all financial services suppliers could transfer individual client data out of a TiSA country for processing, regardless of national privacy laws. This free flow of data across borders is true for the e-commerce annex as well; it breaks with thousands of years of precedent on locally kept business records, and has privacy advocates alarmed.

(read the full article at Liberty Blitzkrieg)

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This Shadow Government Agency Is Scarier Than the NSA

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William M. Arkin
Phase Zero: June 1, 2015

If you have a telephone number that has ever been called by an inmate in a federal prison, registered a change of address with the Postal Service, rented a car from Avis, used a corporate or Sears credit card, applied for nonprofit status with the IRS, or obtained non-driver’s legal identification from a private company, they have you on file.

They are not who you think they are. They are not the NSA or the CIA. They are the National Security Analysis Center (NSAC), an obscure element of the Justice Department that has grown from its creation in 2008 into a sprawling 400-person, $150 million-a-year multi-agency organization employing almost 300 analysts, the majority of whom are corporate contractors.

The Center has its roots in the Foreign Terrorist Tracking Task Force (FTTTF), a small cell established in October 2001 to look for additional 9/11-like terrorists who might have entered the United States. But with the emergence of significant “homegrown” threats in the late aughts, the Task Force’s focus was thought to be too narrow. NSAC was created to focus scrutiny on new threat, specifically on Americans, particularly Muslims, who might pose a hidden threat (the Task Force became a unit within NSAC’s bureaucratic umbrella). As Americans began traveling abroad to join al-Shabaab and then ISIS, the Center’s dragnet expanded to catch the vast pool of “youth” who also might fit a profile of either radicalism or law-breaking. Its mission runs the full gamut of “national security threats…to the United States and its interests,” according to a partially declassified Justice Department Inspector General report. That includes everything from terrorism to counter-narcotics, nuclear proliferation, and espionage.

NSAC not only has a focus beyond foreign investigations or terrorists, but in the past year-and-a-half, according to documents obtained by Phase Zero and extensive interviews with contractors and government officials who have worked with the Center and the Task Force, it has also aggressively built up a partnership with the military, taking on deep background investigations of foreign-born and foreign-connected soldiers, civilians, and contractors working for the government. Its investigations go far beyond traditional security “vetting”; NSAC scours certain select government employees, contractors and their affiliates, examining multiple layers of connected relatives and associates. And the Center hosts dozens of additional “liaison” officers from other government agencies, providing those agencies with frictionless access to private information about U.S. residents that they would otherwise not have.

Today, through a series of high-level classified authorities and commercial relationships, the Center has access to over 130 databases and datasets of information comprising some two billion records, over half of which are unique and not contained in any other government information warehouse. The Center is, in fact, according to interviews with government officials, the sole organization in the U.S. government with the authority to delve deeply into the activities and associations of foreigners and Americans alike. From its unmarked office in the Crystal City neighborhood of Arlington, Virginia, the Center can not only gain access to the full gamut of intelligence databases of the U.S. government, but also query and retain information contained in law enforcement and commercial data. It also conducts live searches, and retains classified and open datasets of identity and transactional data for later examination. In some ways then, the data that the Center accesses and regularly trawls against its data mining protocols is the FBI’s equivalent of NSA’s bulk collection, the examination of databases with the hope of finding triggers or links to terrorists rather than the specific accessing of information to look at an individual or even group of individuals.

The Center’s powerful perch—and its virtually unlimited reach—brings the federal government closer than ever to the Holy Grail of connecting every dot, a dream that has been pursued by terrorist hunters since the failures that permitted the 9/11 attacks 14 years ago. The data access and analytic methods it uses grew out of a retrospective analysis of the vast reams of data about the 19 hijackers that law enforcement and intelligence agencies had indicators off, but never acted on. The Foreign Terrorist Tracking Task Force (originally called “F-tri-F” by insiders) meticulously reconstructed the actions of the 19 hijackers and other known law-breakers—how they lived their day-to-day lives and what they did to avoid intelligence detection—to find patterns and triggers of potential wrongdoing. They created thousands of pages of chronologies covering the 19 hijackers from the moment they entered the United States, trying to recreate what each did every day they were here.

This Shadow Government Agency Is Scarier Than the NSA

Those patterns then became profiles that could be applied to vast amounts of disparate and unstructured data to sniff out similar attributes. Those attributes, once applied to individuals, became the legal predicate for collection and retention of data. If someone fit the profile, they were worthy of a second look. They were worthy of a second look if they might fit the profile.

Beyond public records and what appears on the internet, beyond news articles or what’s in law enforcement databases—but in addition to all of those things—the mere presence of a name becomes justification enough. NSAC’s methods turn the notion of legal predicate—a logical proposition or an earlier offense that justifies law enforcement action—on its head. Using big data analysis to discover non-obvious and even clandestine links, the Center looks not just for suspects, but for what the counter-terrorism world calls “clean skins”—people with no known affiliation to terrorism or crime, needles in a giant haystack that don’t necessarily look like needles. Or people who aren’t needles at all, but who might become needles in the future and thus warrant observation today.

The American people have repeatedly rejected the notion of a domestic intelligence agency operating within our borders. Yet NSAC has become the real-world equivalent. Along the way in its development though, the Center has rarely been discussed in the federal budget or in congressional oversight hearings available to the public. And being neither solely a part of the intelligence community (IC) nor solely a law enforcement agency (and yet both), it skirts limitations that exist in each community, allowing it to collect and examine information on people who are not otherwise accused of or suspected of any crime.

(read the full article at Phase Zero)

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FREEDOM Act Passes Senate, Freedom Dies

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Daniel McAdams
LewRockwell.com : June 2, 2015

By a vote of 67-32 the Senate today passed the USA FREEDOM Act, just days after the expiration of key elements of the USA PATRIOT Act. The FREEDOM Act is billed as a reform of the unconstitutional and recently-ruled illegal bulk collection of Americans’ telecommunications, but in fact it is a whole new level of attack on civil liberties.

Here are just a couple of ways the FREEDOM Act is worse than the PATRIOT Act:

1) The recent decision of the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that the bulk collection of American citizens’ telecommunications information was not authorized by the USA PATRIOT Act means that as of this afternoon, the bulk collection of American citizens’ telecommunications information was an illegal act. The government was breaking the law each time it grabbed our metadata. The moment the FREEDOM is signed by President Obama that same activity will become legal. How is making an unconstitutional and illegal act into a legal one a benefit to civil liberties?

2) The FREEDOM Act turns private telecommunications companies into agents of state security. They will be required to store our personal information and hand it over to state security organs upon demand. How do we know this development is a step in the wrong direction? It is reportedly the brainchild of Gen. Keith B. Alexander, the NSA director at the time! According to press reports, this was but a public relations move to deflect criticism of the bulk collection program. Alexander “saw the move as a way for Obama to respond to public criticism without losing programs the NSA deemed more essential,” reports Homeland Security News.

3) The FREEDOM Act turns private telecommunications companies into depositories of “pre-crime” data for future use of state security agencies. It is a classic authoritarian move for the state to co-opt and subsume the private sector. Once the FREEDOM Act is signed, Americans’ telecommunications information will be retained by the telecommunications companies for the use of state security agencies in potential future investigations. In other words, an individual under no suspicion of any crime and thus deserving full Fourth and Fifth Amendment protection will nevertheless find himself providing evidence against his future self should that person ever fall under suspicion. That is not jurisprudence in a free society.

4) The FREEDOM Act provides liability protection for the telecommunications firms who steal and store our private telecommunications information. In other words, there is not a thing you can do about the theft as long as the thief is a “private” agent of the state.

It is very telling that the same Congressional leaders who have supported the PATRIOT Act for all these years are now propagandizing Americans in favor of the FREEDOM Act.

FREEDOM Act becomes law; freedom, RIP.

Source: lewrockwell.com cc

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FBI Confirms No Major Terrorism Cases Cracked via Unconstitutional Patriot Act Phone Spying

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Michael Krieger
Liberty Blitzkrieg: May 22, 2015

FBI agents can’t point to any major terrorism cases they’ve cracked thanks to the key snooping powers in the Patriot Act, the Justice Department’s inspector general said in a report Thursday that could complicate efforts to keep key parts of the law operating.

Inspector General Michael E. Horowitz said that between 2004 and 2009, the FBI tripled its use of bulk collection under Section 215 of the Patriot Act, which allows government agents to compel businesses to turn over records and documents, and increasingly scooped up records of Americans who had no ties to official terrorism investigations.

– From the Washington Times article: FBI Admits No Major Cases Cracked with Patriot Act Snooping Powers 

Back in 2013, as debate about the Snowden revelations was at its zenith, I published a post titled NSA Chief Admits “Only One or Perhaps Two” Terror Plots Stopped by Spy Program. Here’s an excerpt:

The Obama administration’s credibility on intelligence suffered another blow Wednesday as the chief of the National Security Agency admitted that officials put out numbers that vastly overstated the counterterrorism successes of the government’s warrantless bulk collection of all Americans’ phone records.

Pressed by the Democratic chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee at an oversight hearing, Gen. Keith B. Alexander admitted that the number of terrorist plots foiled by the NSA’s huge database of every phone call made in or to America was only one or perhaps two — far smaller than the 54 originally claimed by the administration.

“One or perhaps two.” Or perhaps zero. The guy has the nerve to say “perhaps.” How do you not know? What a bunch of lying assholes. How the heck does 54 turn into “one or two,” and I’ll tell you something else, I don’t believe the one or two figure for a minute. I mean there’s no way he would say “zero” when he is fighting to keep his petty little Stasi state intact. Furthermore, how about some details here. What was the one plot the NSA foiled? Some teenager throwing firecrackers on the White House lawn? These guys need to get lost already. From the Washington Times:

As time has passed and the years have gone by, it has become increasingly clear that the phone records collection program hasn’t stopped a single terror attack. In fact, a recently published report by the Justice Department’s inspector general admitted as much. This takes on increased significance with parts of the Patriot Act set to automatically sunset on June 1st.

The Washington Times reports:

FBI agents can’t point to any major terrorism cases they’ve cracked thanks to the key snooping powers in the Patriot Act, the Justice Department’s inspector general said in a report Thursday that could complicate efforts to keep key parts of the law operating.

Inspector General Michael E. Horowitz said that between 2004 and 2009, the FBI tripled its use of bulk collection under Section 215 of the Patriot Act, which allows government agents to compel businesses to turn over records and documents, and increasingly scooped up records of Americans who had no ties to official terrorism investigations.

Backers say the Patriot Act powers are critical and must be kept intact, particularly with the spread of the threat from terrorists. But opponents have doubted the efficacy of Section 215, particularly when it’s used to justify bulk data collection such as in the case of the National Security Agency’s phone metadata program, revealed in leaks from former government contractor Edward Snowden.

“The agents we interviewed did not identify any major case developments that resulted from use of the records obtained in response to Section 215 orders,” the inspector general concluded — though he said agents did view the material they gathered as “valuable” in developing other leads or corroborating information. 

The report was heavily redacted, and key details were deleted. The entire chart showing the number of Section 215 requests made from 2007 through 2009 was blacked out, as was the breakdown of what types of investigations they stemmed from: counterintelligence, counterterrorism, cyber or foreign intelligence investigations.

[…]

Moving along, the conclusion that Section 215 of the Patriot Act hasn’t stopped any terror attacks naturally won’t stop FBI director James Comey (and others) from fear-mongering. A favorite pastime of government officials and their lapdogs. As Politico reports:

Speaking at an American Law Institute event this week, FBI Director James Comey warned that a PATRIOT Act sunset would “severely” affect his agency. The FBI relies heavily on the soon-to-expire provisions of the law to obtain specific business records — from library records to gun ownership data — and wiretaps for multiple devices, he said.

 

“If I lose these tools, it’s a huge, huge problem,” Comey said. “We use [Section 215 to obtain specific records] fewer than 200 times per year, but when we use it, it matters tremendously.”

But not for terrorism, and the Patriot Act was specifically passed to deal with terrorism.

“ISIS is singing a siren song, calling people to their death to crash on the rocks — and it’s the rocks that ISIS will take credit for,” said Ron Hosko, president of Law Enforcement Legal Defense Fund and former assistant director of the FBI. “They’re looking for those who are disaffected, disconnected and willing to commit murder. So if we’re willing to take away tools, OK, congressman, stand behind it [and] take the credit for putting the FBI in the dark.”

Can you believe people like this exist, and that their insane rhetoric actually speaks to some people? Scary.

While the current debate about Section 215 of the Patriot Act is encouraging and necessary, it is extremely important to understand that this is just a tiny, potentially meaningless tip of the iceberg when it comes to unconstitutional government surveillance. As The ACLU’s Chris Soghoian explains courtesy of Schneier.com:

There were 180 orders authorized last year by the FISA Court under Section 215 — 180 orders issued by this court. Only five of those orders relate to the telephony metadata program. There are 175 orders about completely separate things. In six weeks, Congress will either reauthorize this statute or let it expire, and we’re having a debate — to the extent we’re even having a debate — but the debate that’s taking place is focused on five of the 180, and there’s no debate at all about the other 175 orders.

 

Now, Senator Wyden has said there are other bulk collection programs targeted at Americans that the public would be shocked to learn about. We don’t know, for example, how the government collects records from Internet providers. We don’t know how they get bulk metadata from tech companies about Americans. We don’t know how the American government gets calling card records.

 

So the 215 program that has been disclosed publicly, the 215 program that is being debated publicly, is about records to major carriers like AT&T and Verizon. We have not had a debate about surveillance requests, bulk orders to calling card companies, to Skype, to voice over Internet protocol companies. Now, if NSA isn’t collecting those records, they’re not doing their job. I actually think that that’s where the most useful data is. But why are we having this debate about these records that don’t contain a lot of calls to Somalia when we should be having a debate about the records that do contain calls to Somalia and do contain records of e-mails and instant messages and searches and people posting inflammatory videos to YouTube?

 

Certainly the government is collecting that data, but we don’t know how they’re doing it, we don’t know at what scale they’re doing it, and we don’t know with which authority they’re doing it. And I think it is a farce to say that we’re having a debate about the surveillance authority when really, we’re just debating this very narrow usage of the statute.

(read full article at liberty blitzkrieg)

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What Happens If You Defy Curfew: A Shocking 90-Second Clip From The Streets Of Baltimore

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Liberty Blitzkrieg: May 4, 2015

On Saturday night, a man whose name still seems to be unknown, but who was wearing a “F##k the Police” t-shirt, came out in front of police past the official curfew. This is what happened next:

 

Baltimore is just a Microcosm of America.

Liberty Blitzkrieg: April 30, 2015

Baltimore, Maryland is in many ways the perfect microcosm for these United States of America. If you still don’t get that, you’ll be in for a rude awakening in the years ahead.

A gradual erosion of the Constitution and the civil rights of the citizenry, the abuse of power by people in authority, perverse financial incentives that lead to horrible outcomes, zero accountability, and a ubiquitous surveillance state apparatus; Baltimore has it all. Yet all of these troubling traits have also come to characterize early 21st century America.

As tends to be the case, the populations that have been victimized the longest and most systemically — in Baltimore and across the U.S. — are the poor, weak and disenfranchised.  Like a cancer, corruption, theft, and blatant abuse of the citizenry by the powerful will spread and spread until it consumes everything unless the tumor is removed. It has now spread so deeply and so dangerously throughout American life, the general public will soon have no choice but to confront it and do something about it, or face a total extinction of opportunity and suffer the same desperate fate as the people out in the streets of Baltimore.

David Simon, creator of the excellent hit HBO series “The Wire,” recently sat down for an interview with former New York Times reporter Bill Keller to explain the situation in Baltimore as he sees it; its origins and what is needed to fix it. As you read, think about the many parallels to the U.S. economy in general; the endless criminal maneuverings within the centers of power in Washington D.C. and Wall Street, the forever spinning revolving door of corruption, the marauding gangs of cronies making impossibly large piles of money based on connections, fraud and rigged markets as opposed to adding value, the idiocy of the war on drugs, the fraudulent accounting, and the overbearing surveillance state. Increasingly, when America looks in the mirror Baltimore and Ferguson are staring right back. We just haven’t admitted it yet.

Now, from the Marshall Project:

Bill Keller: What do people outside the city need to understand about what’s going on there — the death of Freddie Gray and the response to it?

 

David Simon: I guess there’s an awful lot to understand and I’m not sure I understand all of it. The part that seems systemic and connected is that the drug war — which Baltimore waged as aggressively as any American city — was transforming in terms of police/community relations, in terms of trust, particularly between the black community and the police department. Probable cause was destroyed by the drug war.

 

Probable cause from a Baltimore police officer has always been a tenuous thing. It’s a tenuous thing anywhere, but in Baltimore, in these high crime, heavily policed areas, it was even worse. When I came on, there were jokes about, “You know what probable cause is on Edmondson Avenue? You roll by in your radio car and the guy looks at you for two seconds too long.” Probable cause was whatever you thought you could safely lie about when you got into district court.

 

Then at some point when cocaine hit and the city lost control of a lot of corners and the violence was ratcheted up, there was a real panic on the part of the government. And they basically decided that even that loose idea of what the Fourth Amendment was supposed to mean on a street level, even that was too much. Now all bets were off. Now you didn’t even need probable cause. The city council actually passed an ordinance that declared a certain amount of real estate to be drug-free zones. They literally declared maybe a quarter to a third of inner city Baltimore off-limits to its residents, and said that if you were loitering in those areas you were subject to arrest and search. Think about that for a moment: It was a permission for the police to become truly random and arbitrary and to clear streets any way they damn well wanted.

 

How does race figure into this? It’s a city with a black majority and now a black mayor and black police chief, a substantially black police force.

 

What did Tom Wolfe write about cops? They all become Irish? That’s a line in “Bonfire of the Vanities.” When Ed and I reported “The Corner,” it became clear that the most brutal cops in our sector of the Western District were black. The guys who would really kick your ass without thinking twice were black officers. If I had to guess and put a name on it, I’d say that at some point, the drug war was as much a function of class and social control as it was of racism. I think the two agendas are inextricably linked, and where one picks up and the other ends is hard to say. But when you have African-American officers beating the dog-piss out of people they’re supposed to be policing, and there isn’t a white guy in the equation on a street level, it’s pretty remarkable. But in some ways they were empowered.

 

Back then, even before the advent of cell phones and digital cameras — which have been transforming in terms of documenting police violence — back then, you were much more vulnerable if you were white and you wanted to wail on somebody. You take out your nightstick and you’re white and you start hitting somebody, it has a completely different dynamic than if you were a black officer. It was simply safer to be brutal if you were black, and I didn’t know quite what to do with that fact other than report it. It was as disturbing a dynamic as I could imagine. Something had been removed from the equation that gave white officers — however brutal they wanted to be, or however brutal they thought the moment required — it gave them pause before pulling out a nightstick and going at it. Some African American officers seemed to feel no such pause.

This is another fascinating microcosm considering how Barack Obama has done absolutely nothing to help the black community or poor in this country. It took a black President to so shamelessly hand everything to a handful of oligarchs and further oppress black communities.

What the drug war did, though, was make this all a function of social control. This was simply about keeping the poor down, and that war footing has been an excuse for everybody to operate outside the realm of procedure and law.

 

“The drug war began it, certainly, but the stake through the heart of police procedure in Baltimore was Martin O’Malley.”

In case you aren’t aware, Martin O’Malley was the ambitious Mayor of Baltimore who had his eyes dead set on the Governor’s seat. So much so that he cooked the crime books of Baltimore to create a crime “miracle,” and destroyed city police work in the process. Mr. O’Malley has recently discussed possibly running against Hillary in the 2016 Democrat primary.

But that wasn’t enough. O’Malley needed to show crime reduction stats that were not only improbable, but unsustainable without manipulation. And so there were people from City Hall who walked over Norris and made it clear to the district commanders that crime was going to fall by some astonishing rates. Eventually, Norris got fed up with the interference from City Hall and walked, and then more malleable police commissioners followed, until indeed, the crime rate fell dramatically. On paper.

 

How? There were two initiatives. First, the department began sweeping the streets of the inner city, taking bodies on ridiculous humbles, mass arrests, sending thousands of people to city jail, hundreds every night, thousands in a month. They actually had police supervisors stationed with printed forms at the city jail – forms that said, essentially, you can go home now if you sign away any liability the city has for false arrest, or you can not sign the form and spend the weekend in jail until you see a court commissioner. And tens of thousands of people signed that form. 

Unsurprisingly, the rule of law often dies at the hands of an ambitious politician.

The situation you described has been around for a while. Do you have a sense of why the Freddie Gray death has been such a catalyst for the response we’ve seen in the last 48 hours?

 

Because the documented litany of police violence is now out in the open. There’s an actual theme here that’s being made evident by the digital revolution. It used to be our word against yours. It used to be said — correctly — that the patrolman on the beat on any American police force was the last perfect tyranny. Absent a herd of reliable witnesses, there were things he could do to deny you your freedom or kick your ass that were between him, you, and the street. The smartphone with its small, digital camera, is a revolution in civil liberties.

 

In these drug-saturated neighborhoods, they weren’t policing their post anymore, they weren’t policing real estate that they were protecting from crime. They weren’t nurturing informants, or learning how to properly investigate anything. There’s a real skill set to good police work. But no, they were just dragging the sidewalks, hunting stats, and these inner-city neighborhoods — which were indeed drug-saturated because that’s the only industry left — become just hunting grounds. They weren’t protecting anything. They weren’t serving anyone. They were collecting bodies, treating corner folk and citizens alike as an Israeli patrol would treat Gaza, or as the Afrikaners would have treated Soweto back in the day. They’re an army of occupation. And once it’s that, then everybody’s the enemy. The police aren’t looking to make friends, or informants, or learning how to write clean warrants or how to testify in court without perjuring themselves unnecessarily. There’s no incentive to get better as investigators, as cops. There’s no reason to solve crime. In the years they were behaving this way, locking up the entire world, the clearance rate for murder dove by 30 percent. The clearance rate for aggravated assault — every felony arrest rate – took a significant hit. Think about that. If crime is going down, and crime is going down, and if we have less murders than ever before and we have more homicide detectives assigned, and better evidentiary technologies to employ how is the clearance rate for homicide now 48 percent when it used to be 70 percent, or 75 percent?

 

Because the drug war made cops lazy and less competent?

 

How do you reward cops? Two ways: promotion and cash. That’s what rewards a cop. If you want to pay overtime pay for having police fill the jails with loitering arrests or simple drug possession or failure to yield, if you want to spend your municipal treasure rewarding that, well the cop who’s going to court 7 or 8 days a month — and court is always overtime pay — you’re going to damn near double your salary every month. On the other hand, the guy who actually goes to his post and investigates who’s burglarizing the homes, at the end of the month maybe he’s made one arrest. It may be the right arrest and one that makes his post safer, but he’s going to court one day and he’s out in two hours. So you fail to reward the cop who actually does police work. But worse, it’s time to make new sergeants or lieutenants, and so you look at the computer and say: Who’s doing the most work? And they say, man, this guy had 80 arrests last month, and this other guy’s only got one. Who do you think gets made sergeant? And then who trains the next generation of cops in how not to do police work? I’ve just described for you the culture of the Baltimore police department amid the deluge of the drug war, where actual investigation goes unrewarded and where rounding up bodies for street dealing, drug possession, loitering such – the easiest and most self-evident arrests a cop can make – is nonetheless the path to enlightenment and promotion and some additional pay. That’s what the drug war built, and that’s what Martin O’Malley affirmed when he sent so much of inner city Baltimore into the police wagons on a regular basis.

So much of what was said there characterizes the perverted culture in Washington D.C. and on Wall Street. People are financially incentivized to commit fraud, crime and deceive customers. Those people are then promoted and train the next class. And the beat goes on…

The second thing Marty did, in order to be governor, involves the stats themselves. In the beginning, under Norris, he did get a better brand of police work and we can credit a legitimate 12 to 15 percent decline in homicides. Again, that was a restoration of an investigative deterrent in the early years of that administration. But it wasn’t enough to declare a Baltimore Miracle, by any means.

 

What can you do? You can’t artificially lower the murder rate – how do you hide the bodies when it’s the state health department that controls the medical examiner’s office? But the other felony categories? Robbery, aggravated assault, rape? Christ, what they did with that stuff was jaw-dropping.

Now for the accounting fraud. Looks like Baltimore authorities learned well from Wall Street.

So they cooked the books.

 

Oh yeah. If you hit somebody with a bullet, that had to count. If they went to the hospital with a bullet in them, it probably had to count as an aggravated assault. But if someone just took a gun out and emptied the clip and didn’t hit anything or they didn’t know if you hit anything, suddenly that was a common assault or even an unfounded report. Armed robberies became larcenies if you only had a victim’s description of a gun, but not a recovered weapon. And it only gets worse as some district commanders began to curry favor with the mayoral aides who were sitting on the Comstat data. In the Southwest District, a victim would try to make an armed robbery complaint, saying , ‘I just got robbed, somebody pointed a gun at me,’ and what they would do is tell him, well, okay, we can take the report but the first thing we have to do is run you through the computer to see if there’s any paper on you. Wait, you’re doing a warrant check on me before I can report a robbery? Oh yeah, we gotta know who you are before we take a complaint. You and everyone you’re living with? What’s your address again? You still want to report that robbery?

 

They cooked their own books in remarkable ways. Guns disappeared from reports and armed robberies became larcenies. Deadly weapons were omitted from reports and aggravated assaults became common assaults. The Baltimore Sun did a fine job looking into the dramatic drop in rapes in the city. Turned out that regardless of how insistent the victims were that they had been raped, the incidents were being quietly unfounded. That tip of the iceberg was reported, but the rest of it, no. And yet there were many veteran commanders and supervisors who were disgusted, who would privately complain about what was happening. If you weren’t a journalist obliged to quote sources and instead, say, someone writing a fictional television drama, they’d share a beer and let you fill cocktail napkins with all the ways in which felonies disappeared in those years.

 

I mean, think about it. How does the homicide rate decline by 15 percent, while the agg assault rate falls by more than double that rate. Are all of Baltimore’s felons going to gun ranges in the county? Are they becoming better shots? Have the mortality rates for serious assault victims in Baltimore, Maryland suddenly doubled? Did they suddenly close the Hopkins and University emergency rooms and return trauma care to the dark ages? It makes no sense statistically until you realize that you can’t hide a murder, but you can make an attempted murder disappear in a heartbeat, no problem.

 

But these guys weren’t satisfied with just juking their own stats. No, the O’Malley administration also went back to the last year of the previous mayoralty and performed its own retroactive assessment of those felony totals, and guess what? It was determined from this special review that the preceding administration had underreported its own crime rate, which O’Malley rectified by upgrading a good chunk of misdemeanors into felonies to fatten up the Baltimore crime rate that he was inheriting. Get it? How better than to later claim a 30 or 40 percent reduction in crime than by first juking up your inherited rate as high as she’ll go. It really was that cynical an exercise.

 

So Martin O’Malley proclaims a Baltimore Miracle and moves to Annapolis. And tellingly, when his successor as mayor allows a new police commissioner to finally de-emphasize street sweeps and mass arrests and instead focus on gun crime, that’s when the murder rate really dives. That’s when violence really goes down. When a drug arrest or a street sweep is suddenly not the standard for police work, when violence itself is directly addressed, that’s when Baltimore makes some progress.

But nothing corrects the legacy of a police department in which the entire rank-and-file has been rewarded and affirmed for collecting bodies, for ignoring probable cause, for grabbing anyone they see for whatever reason. And so, fast forward to Sandtown and the Gilmor Homes, where Freddie Gray gives some Baltimore police the legal equivalent of looking at them a second or two too long. He runs, and so when he’s caught he takes an ass-kicking and then goes into the back of a wagon without so much as a nod to the Fourth Amendment.

 

So do you see how this ends or how it begins to turn around?

 

We end the drug war. I know I sound like a broken record, but we end the fucking drug war. The drug war gives everybody permission to do anything. It gives cops permission to stop anybody, to go in anyone’s pockets, to manufacture any lie when they get to district court. You sit in the district court in Baltimore and you hear, ‘Your Honor, he was walking out of the alley and I saw him lift up the glassine bag and tap it lightly.’ No fucking dope fiend in Baltimore has ever walked out of an alley displaying a glassine bag for all the world to see. But it keeps happening over and over in the Western District court. The drug war gives everybody permission. And if it were draconian and we were fixing anything that would be one thing, but it’s draconian and it’s a disaster.

This is true about the drug war, but even more true about the “war on terror.” Also endless, also used to justify anything.

Medicalize the problem, decriminalize — I don’t need drugs to be declared legal, but if a Baltimore State’s Attorney told all his assistant state’s attorneys today, from this moment on, we are not signing overtime slips for court pay for possession, for simple loitering in a drug-free zone, for loitering, for failure to obey, we’re not signing slips for that: Nobody gets paid for that bullshit, go out and do real police work. If that were to happen, then all at once, the standards for what constitutes a worthy arrest in Baltimore would significantly improve. Take away the actual incentive to do bad or useless police work, which is what the drug war has become.

read the full article at Liberty Blitzkrieg

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USA FREEDOM Act: Just Another Word for Lost Liberty

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Ron Paul: May 3, 2015

Apologists for the National Security Agency (NSA) point to the arrest of David Coleman Headley as an example of how warrantless mass surveillance is necessary to catch terrorists. Headley played a major role in the 2008 Mumbai terrorist attack that killed 166 people.

While few would argue that bringing someone like Headley to justice is not a good thing, Headley’s case in no way justifies mass surveillance. For one thing, there is no “terrorist” exception in the Fourth Amendment. Saying a good end (capturing terrorists) justifies a bad means (mass surveillance) gives the government a blank check to violate our liberties.

Even if the Headley case somehow justified overturning the Fourth Amendment, it still would not justify mass surveillance and bulk data collection. This is because, according to an investigation by ProPublica, NSA surveillance played an insignificant role in catching Headley. One former counter-terrorism official said when he heard that NSA surveillance was responsible for Headley’s capture he “was trying to figure out how NSA played a role.”

The Headley case is not the only evidence that the PATRIOT Act and other post-9/11 sacrifices of our liberty have not increased our security. For example, the NSA’s claim that its surveillance programs thwarted 54 terrorist attacks has been widely discredited. Even the president’s Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies found that mass surveillance and bulk data collection was “not essential to preventing attacks.”

According to the congressional Joint Inquiry into Intelligence Activities before and after the Terrorist Attacks of September 11, 2001 and the 9/11 Commission, the powers granted the NSA by the PATRIOT Act would not have prevented the 9/11 attacks. Many intelligence experts have pointed out that, by increasing the size of the haystack government agencies must look through, mass surveillance makes it harder to find the needle of legitimate threats.

Even though mass surveillance threatens our liberty, violates the Constitution, and does nothing to protect us from terrorism, many in Congress still cling to the fiction that the only way to ensure security is to give the government virtually unlimited spying powers. These supporters of the surveillance state are desperate to extend the provisions of the PATRIOT Act that are set to expire at the end of the month. They are particularly eager to preserve Section 215, which authorizes many of the most egregious violations of our liberties, including the NSA’s “metadata” program.

However, Edward Snowden’s revelations have galvanized opposition to the NSA’s ongoing violations of our liberties. This is why Congress will soon vote on the USA FREEDOM Act. This bill extends the expiring surveillance laws. It also contains some “reforms” that supposedly address all the legitimate concerns regarding mass surveillance.

However, a look at the USA FREEDOM Act’s details, as opposed to the press releases of its supporters, shows that the act leaves the government’s mass surveillance powers virtually untouched.

The USA FREEDOM Act has about as much to do with freedom as the PATRIOT Act had to do with patriotism. If Congress truly wanted to protect our liberties it would pass the Surveillance State Repeal Act, which repeals the PATRIOT Act. Congress should also reverse the interventionist foreign policy that increases the risk of terrorism by fostering resentment and hatred of Americans.

Fourteen years after the PATRIOT Act was rushed into law, it is clear that sacrificing liberty does little or nothing to preserve security. Instead of trying to fool the American people with phony reforms, Congress should repeal all laws that violate the Fourth Amendment, starting with the PATRIOT Act.

source: Ron Paul institute

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Frankly My Dear, I Don’t Give a Damn

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First Rebuttal : May 4, 2015

I find it shocking how often I have people tell me the Constitution is out of date and is no longer relevant or necessary.  Then there are the vast majority of people that think about the Constitution the same way they think about religion; it makes us feel good to believe in it and we’ll even worship it on a holiday or two   The reality is that those who seem to get very worked up to the point that they are willing to act in defense of the Constitution even against the highest levels of government make up a very small minority of Americans.  This is a real problem.

You see if people gave a damn the government couldn’t get away with negating the Constitution.  But the vast majority of people just don’t give a damn and so the government very easily provides ridiculous and false legal sounding arguments to explain away why they have become a higher law than the Constitution. Now I’ve tried to understand why it is that we Americans are so damn apathetic about everything the government and government officials do.

Let me give a couple examples for which our apathy just boggles my mind.   We know they took us into wars on false pretenses resulting in the wrongful deaths of thousands of American soldiers and hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians and yet we’ve prosecuted no one.  Hell they’ve admitted to hacking into millions of our home webcams and downloading videos and pictures of us in our most private moments and maintaining those downloads on government servers and then sharing these files with foreign governments.

But because today’s American is simply a shell of a citizen none of the criminal atrocities creates even a stir from us.  Sure we all read about these atrocities and we are angered in the moment but it passes rather quickly and we fall back into our self induced ignorant bliss.  Only two things can get Americans to formidably rise up.  The first is a very direct and immediate impediment to our comfort.  For example try cutting back on the monthly social welfare checks.  You’ll have riots.   The second way is if the mainstream media relentlessly instructs us to be upset about a particular issue.  Outside of that there is absolutely nothing the new American won’t move past like water off a duck’s back.

What we’re finding out is that, and it sounds slightly over-dramatic but isn’t at all, unless we are willing to fight and die to win back the freedom our forefather’s fought and died to secure for us and all future generations we will continue to feel our chains grow heavier and shorter.  The simple reason is because our government is very much willing to kill to keep its ever encroaching control.  A free population is the antithesis to a political class.  And make no mistake the American federal government is the largest and most powerful group of aristocrats the world has known.

This group of traitors (and I mean that in the very technical sense of the word) not only behave according to a separate set of laws they have actually gone so far as to legislate a separate set of laws.  This in itself is a direct breach of the very Constitution they swear to defend.  Their intent is clear and that my friends is treason.  They are directly negating the very basis of the American concept for their own personal self interest and they are doing so by defrauding American citizens into believing their intent is to represent the will of their constituents.  Treason, Treason, Treason!  What else would you call it?

Now are you ready to fight and die to win the freedoms back for your children and grandchildren?  Hell No!  No, not at all!  And that’s kinda the problem because again the government is willing to kill to ensure your kids and grandkids don’t have the freedoms Americans were guaranteed.  The fuck of it is Americans have become so damn brainwashed that despite the founding fathers telling us explicitly our government would end up enslaving the rest of us to solidify their own power and wealth we ignore it. These were the guys that figured out the British were effectively enslaving us and decided to rise against it and create the greatest damn nation the world has ever known.  They literally created fucking America!!!  I mean holy shit, imagine having that on your CV.  And we pay them no mind, like they’re bat shit crazy and not relevant in our intellectual new world.

Today’s legislators rarely discuss the founding fathers or the Constitution beyond the very thin idea that they know we expect them to defend it.  That is, like freedom and apple pie, they love it during the campaign cycle.  However, ask them why then they continue to legislate against the Constitution and well they don’t want to talk about the Constitution anymore.  And we the people ,like apathetic morons , buy into the bullshit they feed us because we simply don’t care.  It’s to the point they can pretty much do anything knowing they can bullshit us with any damn nonsense that pops into their swollen heads.  And so they do things like hack into our webcams, take nude pictures of us and send them to foreign governments and tell us it’s for our own good.  We don’t give a shit because 1. it doesn’t impede our immediate comfort and 2. the press isn’t telling us it’s something to be concerned about.

The danger of being apathetic until it impacts our immediate day to day is that we allow the government to take away all the freedoms we are not currently using.  What I mean by that is we so far have not had to face what it means to be powerless and in chains.  But only because we haven’t yet ventured out far enough so as to reach the end of our chains.  Like a sleeping dog that isn’t aware he’s been shackled until he wakes and tries to chase a bird, we are asleep and unaware of the shackles placed around our ankles.

Some will say “wait, it isn’t apathy it is a trade off between safety and freedom”.  But the truth is freedom and safety are not conflictual we’ve only been led to believe so.  Fear has replaced freedom here in America and that is not by chance but by strategy of a government that has its own agenda, separate from its oath to uphold and defend the Constitution.  So while we should have prosecuted these recent governments for treason we’ve instead rewarded them the rights of dictatorship.

The Constitution is our freedom keeper but once the Constitution is made subordinate the precedent is set and in our legal system precedence is king.  The strength in the Constitution is just that, it’s strength.  Once we allow an exception to the Constitution’s superseding authority it no longer has any authority.  Unfortunately that exception has already been made.  With it, the destruction of the Constitution and the end to a guaranty of freedom.  Our corrupt government has created ‘legislation’ providing them a legal basis to imprison us without due process.  This is a fact.

This desecrates one of the most important axioms of America, in fact, due process is the very idea we are sold to spend $1 trillion per year fighting multiple simultaneous major theatre wars.  Yet here at home it no longer exists.  But remember our loss of due process is for our own good.  Giving a federal legislator or policy maker absolute discretion over our fate is in our best interest.  You and I have agreed with these propositions.  And you and I will have to adhere to being placed in prison for life if that is the will of our president or any delegate who will benefit by accusing us of being a national security threat.

Just by the fact the threat exists fulfills its objective.  People will not want to bring attention to themselves and thus will avoid protesting the wants of those who now have the authority to impede their freedom.  That in itself impede’s their freedom.  This is the one thing I really wish people could see.  What seem like issues too narrow or small to get worked up over are just marks of the snake bite.  Two very small holes in the skin but those holes are the gateway for the real killing agent to spread and overtake the whole system.

In March alone our beefed up and militarized public service workers killed more than 180 citizens they were meant to serve and protect on American soil.  That makes them an infinitely higher risk to our safety than the foreign terrorists to whom we’ve handed our Constitution.  That’s exactly what we’ve done.  If you listen to the terrorists’ videos that was their goal.  They wanted to end the freedom and free will that America seems to be jamming down the throats of societies around the world.  And so they won the moment Americans accepted to trade away its freedoms for safety.  That was their goal and they have achieved it.

Let’s look at Edward Snowden’s situation to see how one loses one’s freedom.  Snowden is a man that knowingly sacrificed his own freedom to expose the corruption and criminality of our policy makers and their respective agencies.  He is also a citizen that has been deemed a threat to national security.  Why would a man who exposed the criminal enslavement of Americans and citizens around the world be deemed a terrorist rather than a hero??  Because he is a threat to the power and control and really the entire system of those who can now legally classify him as a threat, removing his right to due process.

In effect, these political criminals can now legally lock away any prosecutor at will.   This is a gross conflict of interest and the hero that exposed this conflict of interest is now a victim of it.  Edward Snowden not only informed America, he recognized that he would be the first example so that Americans would see, first hand, the sort of corruption that has infected our system.  I can only infer he made himself known because he believed seeing it actually happen would get Americans to rise up and correct the moral transgression.  And what did we the people do in response to Snowden’s incredibly brave and patriotic action?  Absolutely nothing!!!  We force this hero to live in exile.  We don’t even demand the corruption to stop.  We do nothing.  How very American of us.  And why do we do nothing?  Because it doesn’t impede our immediate comfort and the media hasn’t told us we need to be concerned about the issue.

The lives of Americans have become so easy and so secure that we no longer recognize living in a utopia of freedom comes not with costs but with obligations.  We seem to believe that paying taxes indemnifies us of our real obligations as citizens who have been handed a beautiful gift and who are responsible for passing on that precious gift to future generations of Americans.   And that is a mistake that will have historians writing of us as we write of Eve in the garden of Eden.  Our lack of principles resulting in the suffering of all future generations having destroyed a gift we obviously didn’t deserve.

source: first rebuttal
emphasis: zero hedge

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Armed U.S. Guards Will Soon Be Stationed In Canada

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Eva Shield
Press For Truth: April 22, 2015

Armed U.S. border guards will soon be posted in Toronto’s Union Station and other places in the country. They also might not be held accountable in a Canadian court for their actions, if they ever were to cross the line. A pre-clearance agreement was signed last month by the Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney and the U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security. Armed U.S. guards will now be posted to any port, ferry terminal, rail station, or land crossing, in an effort to clear goods and passengers through immigration and customs before they cross the border. The agreement hasn’t yet been made public and the details are scarce. It is alleged that U.S. guards will not be able to make arrests, but they will have powers to detain people and call local police to the scene. The U.S. guards will be able to carry a sidearm in land, rail, and marine preclearance operations, but again they will not be able to do so with air travel passengers. 

 

Currently, U.S. customs and Border Protection (CBP) preclear passengers already at eight different Canadian airports. Police are the only ones allowed to have guns within the airport areas, so the U.S. guards in the airport will supposedly not be armed as such in those places. “If U.S. government agents who are on duty on Canadian soil are only going to be liable to be prosecuted in the United States for potential criminal acts in Canada, what does that mean for access to justice for people affected by those actions? Asks executive director of the B.C. Civil Liberties Association, Josh Paterson. 

 

This deal is assumed to be part of a much larger plan, to more thoroughly integrate the services between Canada, United States, and Mexico. Dubbed the “North American Union,” we can see that the authorities are certainly moving slowly in this direction. The move allows for officers to cross-over the invisible border line in order to conduct their investigations and perform their occupational duties, but it also raises concerns regarding accountability for the officers.  Why should American officers operating on Canadian soil be exempt from our laws? How are we supposed to feel safe if this be the case? Why are we not being afforded jurisdiction under our laws for an incident that might occur on our own sovereign territory? 

(read the full article at Press For Truth)

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