Category Archives: Corporations

Documents Published by WikiLeaks Reveal the NSA’s Corporate Priorities

Bill Blunden reports for Truthout:

Cyber espionage“We are under pressure from the Treasury to justify our budget, and commercial espionage is one way of making a direct contribution to the nation’s balance of payments.” – Sir Colin McColl, MI6 Chief

For years public figures have condemned cyber espionage committed against the United States by intruders launching their attacks out of China. These same officials then turn around and justify the United States’ far-reaching surveillance apparatus in terms of preventing terrorist attacks. Yet classified documents published by WikiLeaks reveal just how empty these talking points are. Specifically, top-secret intercepts prove that economic spying by the United States is pervasive, that not even allies are safe and that it’s wielded to benefit powerful corporate interests.

At a recent campaign event in New Hampshire, Hillary Clinton accused China of “trying to hack into everything that doesn’t move in America.” Clinton’s hyperbole is redolent of similar claims from the US deep state. For example, who could forget the statement made by former NSA director Keith Alexander that Chinese cyber espionage represents the greatest transfer of wealth in history? Alexander has obviously never heard of quantitative easing (QE) or the self-perpetuating “global war on terror,” which has likewise eaten through trillions of dollars. Losses due to cyber espionage are a rounding error compared to the tidal wave of money channeled through QE and the war on terror.’

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UK Police Confirm Ongoing Criminal Probe of Snowden Leak Journalists

Ryan Gallagher reports for The Intercept:

A secretive British police investigation focusing on journalists working with Edward Snowden’s leaked documents remains ongoing two years after it was quietly launched, The Intercept can reveal.

London’s Metropolitan Police Service has admitted it is still carrying out the probe, which is being led by its counterterrorism department, after previously refusing to confirm or deny its existence on the grounds that doing so could be “detrimental to national security.”

The disclosure was made by police in a letter sent to this reporter Tuesday, concluding a seven-month freedom of information battle that saw the London force repeatedly attempt to withhold basic details about the status of the case. It reversed its position this week only after an intervention from the Information Commissioner’s Office, the public body that enforces the U.K.’s freedom of information laws.

Following Snowden’s disclosures from the National Security Agency in 2013, the Metropolitan Police and a lawyer for the British government separately stated that a criminal investigation had been opened into the leaks. One of the London force’s most senior officers acknowledged during a parliamentary hearing that the investigation was looking at whether reporters at The Guardian had committed criminal offenses for their role in revealing secret surveillance operations exposed in the Snowden documents.’

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The Spirit of Judy Miller is Alive and Well at the New York Times, and It Does Great Damage

Glenn Greenwald writes for The Intercept:

One of the very few Iraq War advocates to pay any price at all was former New York Times reporter Judy Miller, the classic scapegoat. But what was her defining sin? She granted anonymity to government officials and then uncritically laundered their dubious claims in the New York Times. As the paper’s own editors put it in their 2004 mea culpa about the role they played in selling the war: “We have found a number of instances of coverage that was not as rigorous as it should have been. In some cases, information that was controversial then, and seems questionable now, was insufficiently qualified or allowed to stand unchallenged.” As a result, its own handbook adopted in the wake of that historic journalistic debacle states that “anonymity is a last resort.”

But 12 years after Miller left, you can pick up that same paper on any given day and the chances are high that you will find reporters doing exactly the same thing. In fact, its public editor, Margaret Sullivan, regularly lambasts the paper for doing so. Granting anonymity to government officials and thenuncritically printing what these anonymous officials claim, treating it all as Truth, is not an aberration for the New York Times. With some exceptions among good NYT reporters, it’s an institutional staple for how the paper functions, even a decade after its editors scapegoated Judy Miller for its Iraq War propaganda and excoriated itself for these precise methods.

That the New York Times mindlessly disseminates claims from anonymous officials with great regularity is, at this point, too well-documented to require much discussion. But it is worth observing how damaging it continues to be, because, shockingly, all sorts of self-identified “journalists” — both within the paper and outside of it — continue to equate un-verified assertions from government officials as Proven Truth, even when these officials are too cowardly to attach their names to these claims, as long as papers such as the NYT launder them.’

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Anonymous Weighs in on TPP

Freedom of Information Act review “may curb access to government papers”

Rajeev Syal reports for The Guardian:

This front page makes an important point about freedom of speechMinisters have launched a cross-party review of the Freedom of Information Act that is likely to be viewed as an attempt to curb public access to government documents. The move comes just hours after papers released on Friday under FOI disclosed that British pilots have been involved in bombing in Syria.

Matthew Hancock, the Cabinet Office minister, laid a statement before parliament outlining details about the five-person commission that will be asked to decide whether the act is too expensive and overly intrusive. Members will include Jack Straw, the former foreign secretary, who is already on the record calling for the act to be rewritten. Straw is still the subject of FOI requests over the rendition of a terror suspect during his time in office.

Lord Carlile of Berriew will also sit on the commission. He accused the Guardian of “a criminal act” when it published stories using National Security Agency material leaked by Edward Snowden. The committee’s other members will be Michael Howard and Dame Patricia Hodgson, and it will be chaired by Lord Burns.’

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A Wizard at Prying Government Secrets From the Government

Ravi Somaiya writes for The New York Times:

When the reporter Jason Leopold gets ready to take on the United States government, he psychs himself up by listening to the heavy metal bands Slayer and Pantera.

Mr. Leopold describes himself as “a pretty rageful guy.” He argued recently with staff members at his son’s preschool because he objected to their references to “Indians” and they objected to his wearing family-unfriendly punk rock T-shirts to school meetings.

Mr. Leopold, 45, who works for Vice News, reserves most of his aggression for dealing with the government. He has revealed about 20,000 pages of government documents, some of them the basis for explosive news stories. Despite his appearance — on a recent day his T-shirt featured the band name “Sick of It All” — his secret weapon is the opposite of anarchic: an encyclopedic knowledge of the Freedom of Information Act, the labyrinthine administration machine that serves it and the kind of legal judo often required to pry information from it.

His small office, just off the kitchen in his home here, is littered with envelopes from various branches of the government and computer disks filled with secrets. His persistence has led to numerous revelations — some in documents that have been released exclusively to him, and others in documents that have been released to multiple reporters after pressure has been brought by Mr. Leopold.

They have included a series of disclosures from Guantánamo Bay; racist emails from the Ferguson, Mo., Police Department released after the shooting death of Michael Brown by a police officer and the subsequent racial unrest in the city; and some details of unreleased Central Intelligence Agency memos on torture (another report was released by the Senate Intelligence Committee in December).’

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Julian Assange on Wikileaks’ Comeback: “We Are Drowning in Material”

Julian Assange was recently interviewed by Michael Sontheimer for Spiegel:

Spiegel: Mr. Assange, WikiLeaks is back—releasing documents proving United States surveillance of the French government, publishing Saudi diplomatic cables and posting evidence of the massive surveillance of the German government by US secret services. What are the reasons for this comeback?

Assange: Yes, WikiLeaks has been publishing a lot of material in the last few months. We have been publishing right through, but sometimes it has been material which does not concern the West and the Western media—documents about Syria, for example. But you have to consider that there was, and still is, a conflict with the United States government which started in earnest in 2010 after we began publishing a variety of classified US documents.

Spiegel: What did this mean for you and for WikiLeaks?

Assange: The result was a series of legal cases, blockades, PR attacks and so on. With a banking blockade, WikiLeaks had been cut off from more than 90 percent of its finances. The blockade happened in a completely extrajudicial manner. We took legal measures against the blockade and we have been victorious in the courts, so people can send us donations again.

Spiegel: What difficulties did you have to overcome?

Assange: There had been attacks on our technical infrastructure. And our staff had to take a 40 percent pay cut, but we have been able to keep things together without having to fire anybody, which I am quite proud of. We became a bit like Cuba, working out ways around this blockade. Various groups like Germany’s Wau Holland Foundation collected donations for us during the blockade.

Spiegel: What did you do with the donations you got?

Assange: They enabled us to pay for new infrastructure, which was needed. I have been publishing about the NSA for almost 20 years now, so I was aware of the NSA and GCHQ mass surveillance. We required a next-generation submission system in order to protect our sources.

Spiegel: And is it in place now?

Assange: Yes, a few months back we launched a next-generation submission system and also integrated it with our publications.

Spiegel: So we can expect new publications?

Assange: We are drowning in material now. Economically, the challenge for WikiLeaks is whether we can scale up our income in proportion to the amount of material we have to process.’

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Online pirates could face 10 years in jail under plans being considered by UK government

BBC News reports:

Piracy keyOnline pirates could face jail terms of up to 10 years under plans being considered by the government.

Online copyright infringement currently carries a maximum penalty of two years’ imprisonment.

Ministers have launched a consultation on increasing it to 10 years – bringing it into line with copyright infringement of physical goods.

The government said tougher sentences would act as a “significant deterrent”.’

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More than 2,800 people are dead in Yemen – so why aren’t we outraged?

Sophia Dingli writes for The Conversation:

In the summer of 2014, our screens were inundated with videos of the carnage from the streets of Gaza. The European media was outraged, and the sense of moral urgency was amplified across social media. Similar outrage greeted the destruction of UNESCO heritage sites in both Iraq and Syria with the condemnation of Islamic State’s barbarism reaching a crescendo when it overtook Syria’s majestic city of Palmyra.

Compare this coverage to the almost universal silence on the ongoing war in Yemen, which is largely absent from our TV screens, Facebook and Twitter trending topics sections and the front pages of broadsheet papers.

Admittedly, the Yemen conflict is a complicated matter, where the Saudi “bad guys” in the northern half of the country are looked upon as potential saviours in the southern half. The war includes a number of factions, and provides no easy narratives for the casual news watcher to follow.

Of course, neither the Israeli-Palestinian conflict nor the Islamic State’s onslaught are simple matters, but the Western media has plenty of simplified narratives and stereotypes at its disposal to structure its coverage. And crucially, the media coverage of both Israel-Palestine and Islamic State is loud and clear in its condemnation of the human cost, both civilian and cultural.

So it may come as a surprise to learn the the damage inflicted upon Yemen and Yemenis since March 2015, when the Houthi rebels’ march toward Aden was met with a massive Saudi-led offensive, has already claimed more casualties than the last Israeli offensive in Gaza and has destroyed parts of a UNESCO world heritage site. Worse yet, it shows no signs of stopping.’

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CIA and Mandela: Can the Story Be Told Now?

Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting wrote in December 2013:

Back in 1990, FAIR (Extra!, 3/90) noted that the media coverage of Nelson Mandela’s release from prison failed to mention there was strong evidence that the CIA had tipped off South African authorities to Mandela’s location in 1962, resulting in his arrest.

So with coverage of Mandela’s death dominating the media now, can the story of the CIA’s role in Mandela’s capture be told? Mostly not.

The link between the CIA and Mandela’s capture–reported by CBS Evening News (8/5/86) and in a New York Times column by Andrew Cockburn (10/13/86)–was almost entirely unmentioned in media discussions of his death.

There were a few exceptions. MSNBC host Chris Hayes mentioned it on December 5 (“We know there’s reporting that indicates the CIA actually helped the South African police nab Mandela the first time he was captured”). On Melissa Harris-Perry’s MSNBC show (12/7/13), Democracy Now! host Amy Goodman brought it up.’

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Queen’s Nazi salute footage is matter of historical significance, says Sun

Jamie Grierson reports for The Guardian:

The managing editor of the Sun has defended his newspaper’s decision to release leaked footage, apparently shot in 1933 or 1934, showing the Queen perform a Nazi salute as a matter of “historical significance”.

The black-and-white footage shows the Queen, then aged six or seven, and her sister Margaret, around three, joining the Queen Mother and her uncle, Prince Edward, the Prince of Wales, in raising an arm in the signature style of the German fascists.

Edward, who later became King Edward VIII and abdicated to marry the American socialite Wallis Simpson, faced numerous accusations of being a Nazi sympathiser. The couple were photographed meeting Hitler in Munich in October 1937, less than two years before the second world war broke out.’

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Iron Man and Transformers Were Censored by US Military For Getting Too Close To The Truth

Counter Current News reports:

‘It sounds almost unimaginable, but it isn’t the script of a new Hollywood movie: the Pentagon has literally forced movie producers to turn villains into heroes, add U.S. Military rescues, as well as changing scenes that they deem “sensitive.”

Producers and directors say they are literally being forced to re-write scripts. If the United States Department of Defense deems their content ­inappropriate, the changes are strongly “suggested.”

The relevant files about this military involvement in Hollywood, from the California-based Department of Defense Entertainment Liaison Office were released after a Freedom of Information Act request by Bath University’s Dr Matthew Alford, whose research focuses on the relationship between entertainment, political power, and propaganda in the United States.’

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Hillary Clinton: Capital’s Plan A

Elizabeth Schulte writes for Jacobin:

Hillary Clinton with Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein.“Economic inequality.” “Robber barons.” “Champion for everyday Americans.” “Feminist.” It’s almost as if Hillary Clinton’s campaign team has started believing what Republicans say about her.

Clinton’s campaign staff is working overtime, shipping her out to Iowa in a van — stopping at Chipotle along the way — to show how well she relates to ordinary Americans. But the people whose opinions really matter in the presidential election know better.

As one Wall Street lawyer put it, “If it turns out to be Jeb vs. Hillary, we would love that and either outcome would be fine.”

Indeed, if Clinton talks today about economic inequality while she throws her crown into the ring, she has a long and loyal relationship with money and power. Among the top ten contributors to her 2008 campaign were employees from JPMorgan Chase, Goldman Sachs, CitiGroup, Morgan Stanley, and Lehman Brothers — institutions that can all benefit from a few friends in high places.’

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Interview with James G. Connell III, the Attorney Representing Aamar al-Baluchi

James G. Connell III is an attorney at the U.S Defence Department. He represents Aamar al-Baluchi, a man who stands accused of financing 9/11. The CIA-backed movie Zero Dark Thirty based a character on al-Baluchi. In this interview with Going Underground, Mr. Connell explains how Hollywood producers and directors work with the CIA, and why the U.S considers itself to be exempt from many human rights treaties. (Going Underground)

A Detailed Look at Hacking Team’s Emails About Its Repressive Clients

Cora Currier and Morgan Marquis-Boire report for The Intercept:

Documents obtained by hackers from the Italian spyware manufacturer Hacking Team confirm that the company sells its powerful surveillance technology to countries with dubious human rights records.

Internal emails and financial records show that in the past five years, Hacking Team’s Remote Control System software — which can infect a target’s computer or phone from afar and steal files, read emails, take photos and record conversations — has been sold to government agencies in Ethiopia, Bahrain, Egypt, Kazakhstan, Morocco, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Azerbaijan and Turkey. An in-depth analysis of those documents by The Intercept shows Hacking Team’s leadership was, at turns, dismissive of concerns over human rights and privacy; exasperated at the bumbling and technical deficiency of some of its more controversial clients; and explicitly concerned about losing revenue if cut off from such clients.

Hacking Team has an unusually public profile for a purveyor of surreptitious technology, and it has drawn criticism because its malware has shown up on the computers of activists and journalists. Most of the countries identified in the leaked files have previously been connected to Hacking Team by human rights researchers working with computer forensics experts. The company has long denied any implication in human rights abuses, regularly pointing reporters to a policy on its website that says it only sells to governments, investigates allegations of human rights abuses and complies with international blacklists.’

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Hacking Team hack casts spotlight on murky world of state surveillance

Alex Hern reports for The Guardian:

In contrast to many of the private companies performing outsourced aggressive surveillance work for the world’s spy agencies, Hacking Team doesn’t try to hide behind a generic corporate identity. Gamma International, Academi and QintetiQ could be companies doing anything, but Hacking Team – well, it doesn’t take a genius to guess what line of work they are in.

Hacking Team works in the “cybersecurity” industry. That’s “cybersecurity” in the same way that arms manufacturers describe their business as “defence”. It doesn’t provide security at all, really; none of their software will help clients avoid cyberattacks, tighten up their internal networks, or patch flaws in their software. Its main business is offensive hacking.

It sells its Remote Control System (RCS) software to law enforcement and national security agencies around the world, letting them hack into targets’ computers and mobile devices, install backdoors, and monitor them with ease.

The company’s promotional material advertises its abilities: “Hack into your targets with the most advanced infection vectors available. Enter his wireless network and tackle tactical operations with ad-hoc equipment designed to operate while on the move … Remote Control System: the hacking suite for governmental interception. Right at your fingertips.”

But apart from the clarity of its name, Hacking Team was just as opaque as the other companies in its industry. It didn’t disclose its clients, the technology behind its software, or the sort of work it was contracted to do, citing the need for privacy and security. All that changed this week when its own security was compromised, to the tune of 400GB of its data published online.’

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Wikileaks Revelations Expose US Tentacles: Interview with Michael Ratner

Michael Ratner is president emeritus of the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), president of the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR), and U.S. attorney for Julian Assange and Wikileaks. In this interview he breaks down the latest Wikileaks revelations. (The Real News)

Got to Be Thwarting Something: FBI Claims It Stopped Unspecified Mayhem, Possibly on July 4

Adam Johnson writes for Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting:

Screen capture of CNN newscast inviting all Americans to be very, very afraid for no good reason at allLast week, in the wake of another vague terror warning issued by the government, FAIR reported how FBI terror warnings have a long history of always being wrong. Others also noted the FBI’s habit of issuing pointless terror warnings, including The Intercept’s Glenn GreenwaldThe Guardian’s Trevor Timm and FireDogLake‘s Kevin Gosztola. There was a general sense among many that the July 4 “warning” was just another empty terror warning meant to scare, provide CYA for the FBI and ultimately fizzle out like so many before.

And, in fact, the holiday weekend came and went, with the FBI “terror warning” hyped by the media foreshadowing nothing more than for two false alarms and a handful of canceled Fourth of July plans.

So it was curious, to say the least, when on Thursday the FBI asserted to CNN’s Jim Sciutto that “a number” of  “ISIS-inspired” terror plots had been “thwarted” from “coast to coast” over the Fourth of July weekend.’

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Document Reveals Billionaire Backers Behind United Against Nuclear Iran

Eli Clifton reports for LobeLog:

Among the many groups engaged in advocacy over a potential deal between Iran and world powers, United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI) stands apart as by far the most mysterious. Late last month, UANI announced it would launch a “multi-million dollar” ad campaign, noting “a growing concern that U.S. negotiators could be pressured into making dangerous concessions in order to cement a deal,” according to the group’s CEO, Mark Wallace.

As the ad buy suggests, UANI draws on a deep well of resources to fund fretful warnings about the dangers of compromising with Iran’s nuclear negotiators. But, despite piecemeal information unearthed in my previous reporting, a more comprehensive look at UANI’s funding has until now remained obscured by a US government-backed veil of secrecy: the group’s donor rolls were among the documents a plaintiff was seeking in a defamation case against UANI until the Justice Department quashed the suit with an invocation of state secrets.

Now, however, I’ve obtained and reviewed a comprehensive list of UANI’s major donors in UANI’s 2013 tax year, providing some answers about who is backing the group’s efforts.’

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Return to Sender: Glen Ford on Eric Holder Going Back to Covington & Burling

Eric Holder Back to Wall Street-Tied Law Firm After Years of Refusing to Jail Bankers: Interview with Matt Taibbi

‘In the latest sign of the revolving door between Wall Street and Washington, recently retired U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder is returning home — to the corporate law firm Covington & Burling, where he worked for eight years before becoming head of the Justice Department. During his time at Covington, Holder’s clients included UBS and the fruit giant Chiquita. The law firm’s client list has included many of the big banks Holder failed to criminally prosecute as attorney general for their role in the financial crisis, including Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo and Citigroup. We speak with Matt Taibbi, award-winning journalist with Rolling Stone magazine. “I think this is probably the single biggest example of the revolving door that we’ve ever had,” Taibbi says.’ (Democracy Now!)

European Parliament re-brands ISDS, still wants to let companies to sue nations

Glyn Moody reports for Ars Technica:

The European Parliament today called for foreign investors to be allowed to sue the EU and member states in special new courts. This controversial proposal came as part of a non-binding set of recommendations to the European Commission on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), currently being negotiated with the US. The new investor courts would replace the old investor tribunals employed as part of the investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) system, but would function largely in the same way.

Adopting an amendment proposed by the Socialists and Democrats (S&D) group, the European Parliament called on the European Commission to set up new ISDS courts featuring “publicly appointed, independent professional judges,” instead of corporate lawyers, as at present, and holding public hearings with an appeal mechanism. The S&D says this is “the end of ISDS in EU trade deals.”

In putting forward this compromise amendment, however, the left-wing group has implicitly acquiesced in the idea of granting foreign investors special rights not enjoyed by domestic companies—the key issue that lies at the heart of ISDS. Moreover, the new investor courts are just as one-sided as the current ISDS tribunals: although companies will be able sue the EU and member states for billions, with the public footing the bill, there is no mechanism for the EU to sue companies. The best the public can ever hope for is not to lose.’

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The £93bn handshake: Businesses pocket huge subsidies and tax breaks

Aditya Chakrabortty reports for The Guardian:

BUSINESSMEN shaking hands. In 2012-13, the government spent £58.2bn on subsidies, grants and corporate tax benefits. It took just £41.3bn in corporation tax receipts.Taxpayers are handing businesses £93bn a year – a transfer of more than £3,500 from each household in the UK.

The total emerges from the first comprehensive account of what Britons give away to companies in grants, subsidies and tax breaks, published exclusively in the Guardian.

Many of the companies receiving the largest public grants over the past few years previously paid little or zero corporation tax, the analysis shows. They include some of the best-known names in Britain, such as Amazon, Ford and Nissan. The figures intensify the pressure on George Osborne, the chancellor, just as he puts the finishing touches to his budget. At the heart of Wednesday’s announcement will be his plans to cut £12bn more from the social welfare bill.

Yet that sum is less than the £14.5bn given to companies in direct subsidies and grants alone.

Corporate welfare is part of what David Cameron calls his government’s policy to make the UK “the most open, welcoming, business-friendly country in the world”.’

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Spain’s New Security Law Meets Fierce Criticism From Rights Groups

Alissa Greenberg reports for Time:

Demonstrators with their mouths taped sit outside the Spanish parliament during a protest against Spanish government's new security law in central MadridA new law that went into effect in Spain on July 1 has much of the country, as well as many human rights organizations, in an uproar. While proponents say the new public security law will reinforce civil liberties, opponents call it the “gag law,” saying it will do just the opposite and take the country a step backward toward dictatorship.

The law covers everything from internet surfing to drug trafficking, but opponents point specifically to portions targeting illegal downloading, habitual access of websites that allegedly promote terrorism, and violent protest, as problematic, saying they include too-loose language that could be abused for political purposes and will limit freedom of speech or even prevent reports of police brutality.

Under the law, citizens can be fined the equivalent of almost $700 for insulting an officer, over $33,000 for recording and disseminating images of police officers, and more than $664,000 for participating in an unauthorized protest outside government buildings, the New York Times reports.’

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NSA’s Top Brazilian Political and Financial Targets Revealed by New WikiLeaks Disclosure

Glenn Greenwald and David Miranda report for The Intercept:

Featured photo - NSA’s Top Brazilian Political and Financial Targets Revealed by New WikiLeaks DisclosureTop secret data from the National Security Agency, shared with The Intercept by WikiLeaks, reveals that the U.S. spy agency targeted the cellphones and other communications devices of more than a dozen top Brazilian political and financial officials, including the country’s president Dilma Rousseff, whose presidential plane’s telephone was on the list. President Rousseff just yesterday returned to Brazil after a trip to the U.S. that included a meeting with President Obama, a visit she had delayed for almost two years in anger over prior revelations of NSA spying on Brazil.

That Rousseff’s personal cell phone was successfully targeted by NSA spying was previously reported in 2013 by Fantastico, a program on the Brazilian television network Globo Rede. That revelation – along with others exposing NSA mass surveillance on hundreds of millions of Brazilians, and the targeting of the country’s state-owned oil company Petrobras and its Ministry of Mines and Energy – caused a major rupture in relations between the two nations. But Rouseff is now suffering from severe domestic weakness as a result of various scandals and a weak economy, and apparently could no longer resist the perceived benefits of a high-profile state visit to Washington.

But these new revelations extend far beyond the prior ones and are likely to reinvigorate tensions. Beyond Rousseff, the new NSA target list includes some of Brazil’s most important political and financial figures, such as the Finance Ministry’s Executive Secretary Nelson Barbosa; Luiz Awazu Pereira da Silva, a top official with Brazil’s Central Bank; Luiz Eduardo Melin de Carvalho e Silva, former Chief of Staff to the Finance Minister; the Foreign Affairs Ministry’s chief of economics and finance, Luis Antônio Balduíno Carneiro; former Foreign Affairs Minister and Ambassador to the U.S. Luiz Alberto Figueiredo Machado; and Antonio Palocci, who formerly served as both Dilma’s Chief of Staff and Finance Minister under former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.

Most notable about the list, published simultaneously by WikiLeaks, is the predominance of officials responsible for Brazil’s financial and economic matters.’

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The Fight Over Obamacare Was a Giant Political Charade

Sonali Kolhatkar writes for Truthdig:

[…] When the Supreme Court ruled to preserve the ACA, privately some Republicans expressed relief, knowing that if 6.4 million Americans relying on subsidies had suddenly lost them, the GOP would have paid a stiff political price.

The act of opposing the law at any cost has given Republicans legitimacy among their right-wing supporters for targeting Obama while ultimately getting what they want, which is a pro-corporate law. For Democrats, supporting Obamacare has given them the appearance of caring about medical bankruptcies and the plight of the uninsured. And Obama has won by achieving the seemingly impossible task of passing health care reform, while also propping up private industry. In the end, the fight over the ACA has resulted in wins for the Republican Party, the Democratic Party, the health insurance industry and the president.

Among the losers are Americans who remain dependent on their employers for health insurance, and those who have bought plans from the ACA’s exchanges but pay through the nose for minimal coverage. Even plans available to those who used to be denied them because of pre-existing conditions are expensive and the deductibles extremely high.

Most unfortunate of all are the nearly 13 percent of Americans who remain uninsured.’

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National Plutocrat Radio: Corporate One-Percenters dominate NPR affiliates’ boards

Aldo Guerrero writes for Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting:

Corporate Affiliation on NPR Affiliate Boards‘For a public radio service, NPR is notoriously known for its lack of diversity within its staff, audience and guests invited onto their shows—problems that NPR has itself acknowledged (6/30/14).

A new FAIR study finds that NPR’s diversity problem also extends into the board of trustees of its most popular member stations: Two out of three board members are male, and nearly three out of four are non-Latino whites. Fully three out of every four trustees of the top NPR affiliates belong to the corporate elite.

FAIR studied the governing boards of the eight most-listened-to NPR affiliate stations, based on Arbitron ratings (Cision, 2/13/13). The stations and their broadcast regions are KQED (San Francisco), WAMU (Washington, DC), WNYC (New York City), KPCC (Los Angeles), WHYY (Philadelphia), WBUR(Boston), WABE (Atlanta) and WBEZ (Chicago). (Two top-rated public stations, KUSC in Los Angeles and WETA in Arlington, Va., were not included in the study because they mainly play classical music rather than having a news/talk format.) Board members were coded by occupation, ethnicity and gender.

Out of the 259 total board members, 194—or 75 percent—have corporate backgrounds. Many of these board members are executives in banks, investment firms, consulting companies and corporate law firms. Some of the elite corporations include Verizon, Bank of America and Citigroup.’

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CNN to broadcast corporate propaganda as news?

C. Robert Gibson writes for Al Jazeera America:

In a 1958 speech to the Radio and Television News Directors Association, veteran CBS journalist Edward R. Murrow told a roomful of TV executives, “We are currently wealthy, fat, comfortable and complacent.” The anchorman, who used his position to take on powerful politicians such as former Wisconsin Sen. Joseph McCarthy and issues such as segregation, cautioned that the new medium was being used to “distract, delude, amuse and insulate” the public.

Almost 60 years later, Murrow’s warning has gone unheeded by the corporate broadcast media. On June 8, CNN unveiled “Courageous,” a new production unit and an in-house studio that would be paid by advertisers to produce and broadcast news-like “branded content.”

“This isn’t about confusing editorial with advertising,” CNN executive Dan Riess told the Wall Street Journal. But a corporation going beyond advertising on a channel and funding the network to produce PR segments made to look like news is exactly the kind of confusion Riess is referring to.

More than ever before, the American public needs reliable, impartial news outlets that report on the stories of the day honestly and objectively. And while some savvy news consumers may turn to independent, online sources for information that is free from corporate influence, the majority of Americans who work 8 to 10-hour days don’t have the time or energy to seek out these sources.’

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George Orwell, human resources and the English language

James Gingell writes for The Guardian:

George Orwell would have despised the phrase ‘annual leave’: we’re going on holiday, not fighting a war.In our age there is no such thing as ‘keeping out of human resources’. All issues are human resource issues, and human resources itself is a mass of lies, evasions, folly, hatred and schizophrenia.

OK, that’s not exactly what Orwell wrote. The hair-splitters among you will moan that I’ve taken the word “politics” out of the above and replaced it with “human resources”. Sorry.

But I think there’s no denying that had he been alive today, Orwell – the great opponent and satirist of totalitarianism – would have deplored the bureaucratic repression of HR. He would have hated their blind loyalty to power, their unquestioning faithfulness to process, their abhorrence of anything or anyone deviating from the mean.

In particular, Orwell would have utterly despised the language that HR people use. In his excellent essay Politics and the English Language (where he began the thought that ended with Newspeak), Orwell railed against the language crimes committed by politicians.’

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Comcast’s New Voice-Controlled Remote Starts Marketing Movies To Your Kids

Karl Bode reports for Techdirt:

For years, broadcasters and cable operators have tried to push the boundaries of good taste and advertising revenue generation. Whether that’s trying to prevent consumers from skipping ads to patenting technology that will use cameras embedded in set tops to watch you watching TV, there’s a relentless thirst for new realms of ad revenue. As a sense of futility extends into the quest for more meaningful privacy protections in the new age of smart hardware and deep packet inspection, cable operators continue to nudge the boundaries of revenue collection ever further.

Comcast’s latest foray into this arena is its new voice-controlled remote, which lets users give some basic keywords to control the company’s set top box. Like similar services, it’s a relatively useful concept, though if it works as well as most such efforts, most people will stick with old-fashioned buttons. Meanwhile, Comcast has apparently started using the technology to strike deals that market certain films to kids

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