Category Archives: USA

TPP: ‘The Largest Corporate Power Grab You’ve Never Heard Of’

Steve Rendall writes for Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting:

WikiLeaks' cartoon take on the TPPWhat is the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and why is the White House trying to rush it through Congress with a “fast track” process that circumvents normal democratic procedures? You’d be hard-pressed to answer these questions if you depend on the US media to keep you informed—particularly corporate TV news, which, with few exceptions, has been silent on the issue. TPP is a sprawling treaty that critics say will enshrine corporate control of decisions on the environment, intellectual property and finance that were previously subject to democratic processes. Rep. Keith Ellison (D.-Minn.) has called it “the largest corporate power grab you never heard of” (Huffington Post10/8/13).

Twenty years ago, Bill Clinton used fast track authority to push another “free trade” pact through Congress. NAFTA was sold on the promise of new jobs and increased exports (Washington Post11/18/93), but by its 20th anniversary, around 700,000 American jobs were lost due to the agreement (EPI, 5/3/11); Public Citizen puts the number closer to a million (Huffington Post1/6/14). Both groups say that NAFTA has increased US trade deficits and lowered wages in the US and Mexico. Critics say TPP’s most profound impacts won’t be on jobs, wages or the trade deficit, but on the very sovereignty of people in the subject nations to make decisions regarding corporate conduct.

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Environmental Working Group asks U.S. to examine pesticide-coated apples banned by Europe

Carey Gillam reports for Reuters:

Credit: Tom Gill (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)U.S.-grown apples are widely coated with a pesticide that has been newly banned in the European Union amid health concerns, and the United States is at least a year behind in a required scientific assessment of the pesticide, an environmental group said on Thursday. The Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit health and environmental advocacy group, sent a letter to the Environmental Protection Agency asking for the agency to halt the use of diphenylamine, also called DPA, until a new analysis shows DPA levels on food are safe, the group said.

DPA, which is sprayed on apples after they are harvested to help prevent browning, was first registered as a pesticide in the United States in 1947, according to the EPA. But recent concerns about the pesticide’s potential links to cancer led the European Union to ban fruits containing more than 0.1 part per million of DPA. That regulation took effect in March.

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Putin calls internet a ‘CIA project’ renewing fears of web breakup

Ewen MacAskill reports for The Guardian:

Vladimir PutinVladimir Putin at media forum in St Petersburg gave his clearest signal yet that he aims to break up the global nature of the internet when he branded the network a “CIA project” on Thursday. The Russian president told a media conference in St Petersburg that America’s overseas espionage agency had originally set up the internet and was continuing to develop it.

Putin has long hinted that he wants a Russian-run alternative. The idea of breaking up the internet has gained ground in Germany, Brazil and elsewhere round the world in the light of the revelations by whistleblower Edward Snowden about the extent to which the US National Security Agency has infiltrated Facebook, Skype and other social media.

Snowden‘s critics say that an unintended consequences of his revelations has been to undermine the global nature of the web as well as playing into the hands of dictators. His supporters counter that it is the NSA rather than Snowden that has damaged trust in the service.

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Obama, Intelligence Community Continue Crack Down on Transparency

John Glaser writes for Antiwar:

According to Stephen Aftergood at Secrecy News, a new intelligence directive forbids any official from talking with the media and threatens “termination of employment” or “criminal prosecution” for any violators. [...] In the aftermath of Snowden’s leaks, this is an assertive attempt to crack down on leakers and enforce absolutely secrecy. It reminds one of the Obama administration’s government-wide crack down on talking to the media, dubbed the “Insider Threat Program.”

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Craig Murray: Diego Garcia Is A Key Test for International Law

Former British ambassador to Uzbekistan Craig Murray writes:

The ethnic cleansing by the British of an entire small population and culture – the Chagos Islanders – is probably the most despicable act by Britain of my lifetime.  As if the Iraq War and Extraordinary Rendition were not enough, New Labour’s moral dereliction – or more properly evil – was confirmed by the breathtaking cynicism of David Miliband’s proclamation of a Marine Protected Zone around the islands, designed to protect the American base on Diego Garcia and make it impossible for the Chagos Islanders to return to their living as native fishermen, and keep away any eyes that might see the secret prison inmates.

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U.S. brands fail to act on Bangladesh tragedy

‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin goes off on religious bigots with their anti-gay ‘horsesh*t’

Josh Feldman reports for Mediate:

No one can make the case for gay marriage quite like a pro wrestler can. And wrestling fans are now circulating some pretty unfiltered comments Stone Cold Steve Austin made on his podcast months ago about why he doesn’t “give a shit” about people’s sexuality, he just wants them treated equally. He said, “I believe that any human being in America, or any human being in the goddamn world, that wants to be married, and if it’s same-sex, more power to ‘em.”

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The Frightening New Technology Transforming State Surveillance

Palcohol: US government reverses approval of powdered alcohol

#myNYPD Public Relations Blunder Shows How Public Really Feels About Cops

Nafeez Ahmed: Tony Blair’s Islamist obsession is a smokescreen to defend ‘blood for oil’

Nafeez Ahmed writes for The Guardian:

Photograph: Peter Macdiarmid/Getty ImagesYesterday morning, Tony Blair - former Prime Minister and current Middle East envoy for the UN, US, EU and Russia – delivered one of the most Orwellian speeches of his career at Bloomberg London HQ, on the subject of ‘Why the Middle East matters’:

“When we consider the defining challenges of our time, surely this one should be up there along with the challenge of the environment or economic instability.”

Blair is talking about what he sees as “a radicalised and politicised view of Islam” that “distorts and warps Islam’s true message,” an ideology which is “spreading across the world,” “destabilising communities and even nations,” and “undermining the possibility of peaceful co-existence in an era of globalisation.”

Spearheaded largely from the Middle East, the expansion of Islamist ideology “still represents the biggest threat to global security of the early 21st century.”

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How Pat Tillman Was Used to Promote the War that Killed Him

Abby Martin commemorates the anniversary of the death of professional football player and Army ranger, Pat Tillman, whose death by way of friendly fire was covered up by army officials to hide his strong views against the Afghanistan war.’ (Breaking the Set)

Arkansas ex-cop killed while trying to set anti-corruption blogger’s hot dog cart on fire

David Ferguson reports for Raw Story:

AR blogger Ean Bordeaux via screencapA former police officer died while trying to set ablaze a food cart belonging to a blogger who exposed crooked cops and other corrupt city officials. ArkansasMatters.com reported Friday that former Little Rock Police Officer Todd Payne died when blogger Ean Bordeaux (pictured above) tackled him as Payne tried to flee the scene of the attempted arson.

Bordeaux is the proprietor of the Corruption Sucks blog, a webpage dedicated to exposing corruption in the Little Rock local government and in the state government of Arkansas. At about 4:30 a.m. on Friday, he awoke to find the hot dog cart he operates for a living in flames.

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The mentality of J Edgar Hoover’s FBI undergirds today’s surveillance state

Trevor Timm writes for The Guardian:

The new documentary 1971, about the formerly anonymous FBI burglars who exposed the crimes of former FBI director J. Edgar Hoover, debuted to a rapt audience at the Tribeca film festival last night. As the filmmakers noted in an interview with the AP, the parallels between Nixon-era FBI whistleblowers and Edward Snowden’s NSA revelations are almost eerie in their similarity. But while the NSA connection seems obvious, the movie will actually shed light on the domestic intelligence agency with far more power over ordinary Americans: the modern FBI.

Everyone seems to forget that the FBI is the NSA’s primary partner in the latter’s domestic spying operations and that, in fact, the NSA’s job would be impossible without them. Whenever you see a company deny giving any data to the NSA remember: It’s because it’s not the NSA asking (or demanding) the information of them, it’s the FBI. They use the same Patriot Act authorities that the NSA does, and yet we have almost no idea what they do with it. In fact, the FBI has gone to extreme lengths to just keep their surveillance methods a secret from the public, just like the NSA. And the more we learn, the scarier it gets.

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U.S. Ordered to Release Memo in Awlaki Killing

Benjamin Weiser reports for The New York Times:

A federal appeals panel in Manhattan ordered the release on Monday of key portions of a classified Justice Department memorandum that provided the legal justification for the targeted killing of a United States citizen, Anwar al-Awlaki, who intelligence officials contend had joined Al Qaeda and died in a 2011 drone strike in Yemen. The unanimous three-judge panel, reversing a lower court decision, said the government had waived its right to keep the analysis secret in light of numerous public statements by administration officials and the Justice Department’s release of a “white paper” offering a detailed analysis of why targeted killings were legal.

“Whatever protection the legal analysis might once have had,” Judge Jon O. Newman wrote for the panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, “has been lost by virtue of public statements of public officials at the highest levels and official disclosure of the D.O.J. White Paper.” The ruling stemmed from lawsuits filed under the Freedom of Information Act by The New York Times and two of its reporters, Charlie Savage and Scott Shane, and by the American Civil Liberties Union. The decision reversed a January 2013 ruling by Judge Colleen McMahon of Federal District Court, who had expressed her own doubts about the legality of the targeted killings program and the secrecy cloaking it, but concluded that the government had not violated the law in refusing to turn over the materials sought in the requests.

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The Drone King’s Massacre in Yemen

Abby Martin reports on a wave of US drone strikes that killed as many as 55 people in Yemen, marking one of the deadliest weekends since the advent of drones, and also on a federal court’s ruling to disclose aspects of a classified memo detailing the legal justification for assassination of US citizen Anwar al Awlaki by way of drone strike.’ (Breaking the Set)

Lord Morris, Tony Blair’s former Attorney General says it’s time to stop hiding the truth about why we went to war in Iraq

It’s been almost four and a half years since the inquiry was launched into why we went to war in Iraq. And it has been two years since Sir John Chilcot was due to deliver the results. But so far we’ve heard nothing from this £7.5 million investigation.

Just last week Nick Clegg, the Deputy Prime Minister of the Coalition government hinted that former Prime Minister Tony Blair had been delaying its publication. Lord Morris, the former Labour MP and Attorney General who served in the Blair’s Government from 1997-1999, is calling for its immediate publication.

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Tony Blair urges British intervention against Islamic extremists around the world

Oliver Wright reports for The Independent:

Tony Blair will call on Britain today to back “revolution” against anti-Western interests in the Middle East and beyond to combat the growing threat of radical Islam. In a significant and controversial intervention, the former Prime Minister will suggest that, as a result of failures in Iraq and Afghanistan, governments in Europe and America have become “curiously reluctant to acknowledge” Islamic extremism. This unwillingness to confront Islamism risks the 21st century being characterised by “conflict between people of different cultures”, he will warn.

Mr Blair will also call for Europe and America to put aside their differences with Russia and China and “co-operate” to fight what he describes as the “radicalised and politicised view of Islam” that is threatening their collective interests. Mr Blair is due to make his remarks in a speech in London. But despite carrying significance because of his role as Middle East peace envoy they are unlikely to be well received in Downing Street or Washington.

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4 Years After BP Disaster, Ousted Drilling Chief Warns U.S. at Risk of Another Oil Spill

‘Four years after BP’s Deepwater Horizon drilling platform exploded and killed 11 workers, causing more than 200 million gallons of oil to spew into the Gulf of Mexico, the Environmental Protection Agency has lifted a ban that excluded BP from new federal contracts. In a broadcast exclusive, we speak with Elizabeth Birnbaum, who was director of the Minerals Management Service in the Interior Department at the time of the Deepwater Horizon blowout. She was forced out soon after. In her first broadcast interview since her departure, Birnbaum warns the risk of another offshore oil drilling blowout is real. We are also joined by Jaclyn Lopez, staff attorney for the Center for Biological Diversity.’ (Democracy Now!)

Rupert Murdoch’s Sunday Times Double Page Spread on the ‘Rise of the New Russian Empire’

Of course, there are lies coming from both sides. This has virtually always been the case during wartime, whether it’s actual physical war or psychological like the media war that we’re currently experiencing.  While here in the West we’ve have heard plenty about the manipulative ways of Russia Today, the pictures below from Rupert Murdoch’s Sunday Times are a fine example of how the propaganda machine in the West operates.

There has also been a lot more Neo-Cons on U.S. news channels than usual in recent weeks and months. Often they’ve been touted as ‘Russia experts’.  Here’s Leon Aron from the American Enterprise Institute on CNN as just one recent example.

No wonder the credibility of the media is shrinking all the time. How can we take them seriously when they pump out such utter rubbish like the double page spread below and run to war mongering Neo-Cons for ‘expert’ opinions.  It would be hilarious if the situation wasn’t potentially so dangerous with these maniacs stoking the fire of war.

Hat tip to Media Lens for posting this on their Facebook page.

Glenn Greenwald interviewed on CNN about the Pulitzer Prize, returning to the US and his upcoming book

Chicago police face overwhelming gun crime as 45 people shot over weekend

Jon Swaine reports for The Guardian:

Photograph: Jim Young/ReutersA senior Chicago police officer said that parts of the city are being overwhelmed by gun violence, after a weekend in which nine people were shot dead and at least 36 – including six children – were wounded. Ronald Holt, the commander of the Chicago police department’s special activities division, said that the city was witnessing “fratricide” among young men who had come to believe “that the only way to resolve a conflict is to get a gun and go shoot to kill”.

“To tackle gun violence where it is overwhelming communities with the extraordinary loss of lives at an alarming pace, we must deal with it as a social disease and health issue,” Holt, whose 17-year-old son Blair was shot dead on a bus in 2007, told the Guardian in an email. His remarks came as Chicago suffered its bloodiest weekend of the year. Dozens of residents were shot in a series of separate incidents. On the city’s south side, five children aged between 11 and 15 were shot while walking home from a park on Sunday evening.

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Did Hillary Clinton give a speech at the Bilderberg conference in 1997?

Newly released internal documents from the Clinton White House appear to show that Hillary Clinton gave a speech at a meeting of the secretive Bilderberg conference in 1997.  The meeting that year was held at the PineIsle Resort in Atlanta, U.S.A. from June 12-15.  This was during the time when her husband Bill Clinton was serving his second term as President, himself also an attendee at the conference in 1991.   Hillary’s attendance is revealed in internal emails between national security aides.  The documents show that Hillary’s speech appeared to cover serious foreign policy issues, including “a strong endorsement of immediate NATO membership for the Baltics.” Sadly, nothing else is revealed besides that snippet.

According to the 1997 attendee list compiled by Public Intelligence, Hillary was not there that year.  Although certain guests, whose public profiles could be considered too high, have been kept off the official guest list in order to avoid any unwanted or extra media attention.  In the past there has been speculation that Hillary attended the meeting in 2006 in Ottawa, Canada and in 2008 in Chantilly, Virginia.  The 2008 meeting in Virginia famously involved the disappearance of both Hillary and Obama for a ‘secret meeting’ at the same time Bilderberg was taking place.  This inevitably led to theories circulating that both of them had been at Bilderberg.  Although Vernon Jordan, a former Steering Committee member and the man who introduced Bill Clinton to Bilderberg, has denied that Obama ever attended. These internal emails are the first official confirmation that Hillary has attended Bilderberg.

Hillary 2016? Boeing Tries to Buy the White House

Cops Being C**ts: Officer kicks, trips, and shoves high school students celebrating at soccer match

Recent Yemen drone strikes part of a “massive and unprecedented” operation against al-Qaeda

Mohammed Jamjoom reports for CNN:

An operation targeting al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula is under way in Abyan and Shabwa, Yemen, a high-level Yemeni government official who is being briefed on the strikes told CNN on Monday. The official said that the scale of the strikes against AQAP is “massive and unprecedented” and that at least 30 militants have been killed. The operation involved Yemeni commandos who are now “going after high-level AQAP targets,” the official said.

A day earlier, suspected drone strikes targeted al Qaeda fighters in Yemen for the second time in two days, killing “at least a dozen,” the government official said. The predawn strikes targeted a mountain ridge in the southern province of Abyan, the official said. It’s the same area where scores of followers of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula had gathered recently to hear from Nasir al-Wuhayshi, the head of the terrorist network’s Yemeni branch and the global organization’s “crown prince,” the official said.

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Former Drone Operators Reveal Air Force Plays Key Role in Secret CIA Assassination Campaign In New Documentary

‘A new documentary film reveals how a regular U.S. air force unit based in the Nevada desert is responsible for flying the CIA’s drone strike program in Pakistan. “Drone” identifies the unit conducting CIA strikes in Pakistan’s tribal areas as the 17th Reconnaissance Squadron, which is located on the Creech air force base, about 45 miles from Las Vegas. We are joined by the film’s director, Tonje Schei, and Chris Woods, an award-winning reporter who investigates drone warfare. Woods is featured in “Drone” and is working on a forthcoming book on U.S. drone warfare.’ (Democracy Now!)

Here’s What Drone Attacks in America Would Look Like

Pete Brook reports for Wired:

Photo: Tomas van Houtryve/VII. “Baseball practice in Montgomery County, Maryland. According to records obtained from the FAA, which issued 1,428 domestic drone permits between 2007 and early 2013, the National Institute of Standards and Technology and the U.S. Navy have applied for drone authorization in Montgomery County."If U.S. citizens knew how it felt to be targeted by deadly flying robots, it might shape domestic attitudes toward the Obama administration’s drone program. Artist Tomas Van Houtryve is using video and photography to foster that discussion by putting average Americans under drone-like surveillance. “The drone has become the preferred tool of the ‘War on Terror,’” says Van Houtryve. “We live in the most media-connected age ever, and yet the American public has no visual narrative of the drone war. This is a secret war, making it easier to push to the back of our minds or only think about in abstract terms.”

To make the abstract real with his series Blue Sky Days, Van Houtryve mounted his DSLR on a quadcopter he bought online. He flew it over weddings, funerals, groups in prayer, and people exercising in public places—circumstances in which people have been killed by U.S. drone strikes abroad. “We’re told that the drone program saves American lives, and that civilian casualties are avoided with the surgical precision [of the technology]. The former claim is true, the latter is seriously in doubt,” says Van Houtryve.

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DARPA seeks bottom-dwelling ocean attack bots

Sean Gallagher reports for Ars Technica:

When trouble’s brewing at sea and there’s no nearby friendly airbase or port, it could take weeks for US Navy ships and aircraft to show up to protect shipping and keep the enemy at bay. So the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is looking to give the US Navy a new way to get to the scene almost immediately, popping up near, behind, or even in the midst of an enemy fleet, using robotic pods that sit on the ocean floor and can release flying and floating drones to the surface to attack on command.

DARPA has requested bids this week for the final two phases of its Upward Falling Payloads (UFP) program—an effort to create pre-positioned unmanned systems that sit dormant on the sea floor, waiting for a command to rise to the surface and unleash (non-lethal) hell. Containing electronic and low-power laser attack systems, surveillance sensors, and even airborne and aquatic drones that act as decoys or provide intelligence and targeting information, the UFPs would have to survive for years at depth, waiting for a command.

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Chinese official urges Russia and Central Asian allies to control internet in order to prevent ‘external forces’ from provoking ‘a new wave of color revolutions’

Edward Wong reports for The New York Times:

Guo Shengkun, China’s minister of public security, said at a six-nation security conference in Tajikistan that Russia and Central Asian countries must strictly control the Internet and prevent “external forces” from trying to overthrow governments and “provoke a new wave of color revolutions,” according to news agency reports on Friday. Mr. Guo, who was apparently referring to Western nations, made the remarks at a meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, the security alliance that is composed of China, Russia and four Central Asian nations that were once part of the Soviet Union.

“This is a serious threat to the sovereignty and security of countries in the region and is a shared concern of the S.C.O. member states,” Mr. Guo said, according to Reuters. The news agency quoted Mr. Guo as saying that “external forces are using the social-economic contradictions and problems” to try “to overthrow the authorities.” Ta Kung Pao, a Hong Kong newspaper that has at times supported the Chinese Communist Party, also reported the remarks.