Tag Archives: Government Corruption

NED Ignores Saudi Barbarism

By Tony Cartalucci
July 15, 2015
New Eastern Outlook

 

435345111The Arabian Peninsula has been trapped in a time warp for nearly a century, thanks to the House of Saud and indomitable Western support.  Some may find it curious, browsing the US State Department’s National Endowment for Democracy (NED) website, reviewing the unending lists of faux-NGOs special interests in the West have propped up across the planet to project influence and political meddling into every corner of the planet under the pretense of supporting “freedom and democracy,” to discover this meddling extends to nearly all nations except a select few.

One of these blind spots includes Saudi Arabia. In fact, under the category “Middle East and North Africa” (MENA), Saudi Arabia isn’t even listed. NED-funded NGOs attempt to leverage every noble cause conceived by human empathy, from representative governance, to the rights of women and children, from behind which to hide their true agenda of political meddling, undermining local institutions, and the overwriting of a nation’s sociocultural landscape. Yet, it would seem, even this farce has its limits, which begin at the borders of favored client-states including Saudi Arabia.

It would seem, were NED a genuine sponsor of such causes, Saudi Arabia would have attracted special attention. It is literally a nation where women do not exist as human beings legally or socially, unable to even drive, and were Saudi Arabia to have anything resembling actual elections, unable to vote as well. The lack of any semblance of representative governance is another aspect one might expect the National Endowment for Democracy to find issue with. Yet it doesn’t.

This transparent, obvious hypocrisy exposes the entirety of NED’s work for what it is – meddling behind an elaborate facade of defending freedom, democracy, and human rights.

But beyond this intentional blind spot the self-proclaimed arbiters of global freedom and democracy have created for the autocratic, brutal regime of Saudi Arabia to hide within, we find more than just silent approval, we find also active, even eager complicity.

The entirety of Saudi Arabia’s security apparatus, both internal and military, has been created and propped up by the West through billions upon billions of dollars in aid, weapon sales, and direct military cooperation and support. This includes the immense 60 billion USD arms deal signed between Riyadh and Washington, the largest arms deal in US history.

This says nothing of covert operations the West, including the United States and United Kingdom, have been carrying out throughout the MENA region with Saudi Arabia as the chief proxy and local facilitator.

Saudi Barbaria 

Saudi Arabia is ruled by an unelected, hereditary dictatorship. In fact, so autocratic is Saudi Arabia, the nation is literally named after the single family that has ruled it since it was created – the House of Saud – or “Saud’s Arabia.”

While Western NGOs fund to the tune of millions per year activists around the world agitating political instability in nations like Thailand, claiming that the constitutional monarchy there is some sort of impediment to “democracy,” the fact that a single family has ruled Saudi Arabia uninterrupted for decades, even naming the country after the family who rules it unopposed without even the semblance of elections or representative governance, seems to be more than acceptable.

To remain in power for decades, the House of Saud has instituted an extensive and barbaric punitive system which includes public beheadings for everyone from “witches and heretics” to enemies of the state. What is considered as intolerable barbarity in Syria or Iraq when Al Qaeda beheads prisoners of war or local civilians to impose their rule on seized territory, is just another day at “Chop-Chop Square” in Riyadh.

The International Business Tribune would report in its article, “Execution Central: Saudi Arabia’s Bloody Chop-Chop Square,” that:

In the capital Riyadh, public executions take place in the central Deera square, usually at 9am. The wide ochre square has been grimly dubbed “chop chop square” has seen dozens of condemned men and women put to death in recent years.

“When they [death row prisoners] get to the execution square, their strength drains away. Then I read the execution order, and at a signal I cut the prisoner’s head off,” al-Beshi said.

According to Human Rights Watch, from January to September 2012, at least 69 people were executed in Saudi Arabia. Another 10 beheadings have been reported in just the first six weeks of 2013.

Beheadings are imposed mainly for murder or drug offences, but cases of apostasy (renunciation of one’s faith), sorcery and witchcraft can also end up in Chop Chop square. Indeed a man named Muri’ al-‘Asiri was executed last year in the southern town of Najran, as punishment for being a sorcerer.

The parallels between Al Qaeda and Saudi Arabia are no coincidence. Al Qaeda and the subsequent “Islamic State” (ISIS) it has created, straddling Syria and Iraq and spreading across the rest of the MENA region in fact finds its genesis and chief patrons in Riyadh. The West props up Riyadh, and Riyadh props up a regional army of mercenaries waging relentless war on Washington and Wall Street’s enemies throughout MENA. A torrent of supplies brought in by literal convoys of trucks even streams into the war zone via NATO territory.

ISIS can in fact be considered a “colony” of Riyadh, and a reflection of the depravity actively encouraged by the West on the Arabian Peninsula for decades.

Saudi Barbarism Actively, Intentionally Enabled by West

A barbaric autocracy lopping the heads off its own citizens while creating colonies of terrorism across the globe through direct support of marching terrorist armies and a global network of madrases promoting the state-cult of Saudi Arabia, Wahhabism, under the guise of Sunni Islam would seem like one of the West’s greatest threats.

Yet in most cases, particularly when these Saudi-sponsored madrases are established in Europe or North America, national intelligence and law enforcement agencies, including the FBI, the CIA, MI5, and MI6 actively participate in the cultivating, exploitation, and entrapment of radicals created within. Never is it attempted to expose and dismantle these networks, and instead, an intentional strategy of tension is created around these rat nests of extremism to promote hysteria, division, and further fan the flames of fear at home, while justifying perpetual war abroad.

Considering this, it is clear why Saudi Arabia is not only pardoned for its inhumanity and criminality, but encouraged and enabled by special interests in the West. These interests are able to manipulate and terrorize their population at home, justify the creation and enlargement of domestic surveillance networks, and justify the use of military force abroad in campaigns of hegemonic conquest predicated on “national defense” against “terrorism” they and their allies have themselves created to begin with.

When Saudi Arabia began airstrikes on neighboring Yemen, we saw once again not only the United States, United Kingdom, and the European Union fail to protest the extraterritorial aggression, but the United Nations itself also failed to condemn or act in response. Furthermore, Western support for Saudi military aggression has continued unabated regardless of the atrocities and deaths unfolding in Yemen.

And while it can safely be said that Al Qaeda is a reflection of Saudi Arabia, it can also be safely stated that Saudi Arabia, its barbarism and regional crimes against humanity, its state-sponsorship of global terrorism, and even the ideology it actively promotes worldwide that serves as the foundation global terrorism is inspired from, is a reflection in turn of the depravity of the special interests ruling Wall Street, Washington and their Transatlantic counterparts in London and Brussels.

Understanding the special accommodations made by the West for perhaps the most barbaric nation on Earth, amid disingenuous bleating about “Iran,” “North Korea,” “Russia,” “China,” and other enemies of Western hegemony, exposes the emptiness of Western principles – or more accurately – the emptiness of those hiding behind them.

Tony Cartalucci, Bangkok-based geopolitical researcher and writer, especially for the online magazineNew Eastern Outlook”.  

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My Congressman Is Wrong on Iran, Yours Might Be Too

By David Swanson
Global Research, July 15, 2015
Let’s Try Democracy, July 14, 2015

 

Trigger an "Accidental Confrontation" as a Pretext to Wage War on IranFor the United States to sit and talk and come to an agreement with a nation it has been antagonizing and demonizing since the dictator it installed in 1953 was overthrown in 1979 is historic and, I hope, precedent setting. Let’s seal this deal!

Four months ago the Washington Post published an op-ed headlined ‘War With Iran Is Probably Our Best Option.’ It wasn’t. Defenders of war present war as a last resort, but when other options are tried the result is never war. We should carry this lesson over to several other parts of the world.

The time has come to remove the “missile defense” weaponry from Europe that was put there under the false pretense of protecting Europe from Iran. With that justification gone, U.S. aggression toward Russia will become damagingly apparent if this step is not taken. And the time has come for the nations that actually have nuclear weapons to join and/or comply with the nonproliferation treaty, which Iran was never actually in violation of.

In addition to the prevention of a massive bombing campaign in Syria that was prevented in 2013, a major recent success in war-lie-preparedness is the holding off, thus far, of a U.S. war on Iran — about which we’ve been told lies for decades now. The longer this debate goes on, the more it should become clear that there is no urgent emergency that might help justify mass killing. But the longer it goes on, the more some people may accept the idea that whether or not to gratuitously bomb a foreign nation is a perfectly legitimate policy question.

And the argument may also advance in the direction of favoring war for another reason: both sides of the debate promote most of the war lies. Yes, some peace groups are talking perfect sense on this issue as on most, but the debate between Democratic and Republican party loyalists and those in power is as follows. One side argues, quite illegally and barbarically, that because Iran is trying to build a nuclear weapon, Iran should be bombed. The other side argues, counterproductively if in a seemingly civilized manner, that because Iran is trying to build a nuclear weapon, a diplomatic agreement should be reached to put a stop to it. The trouble with both arguments is that they reinforce the false idea that Iran is trying to build a nuclear weapon. As Gareth Porter makes clear in his book Manufactured Crisis, there is no evidence for that.

Both arguments also reinforce the idea that there is something about Iranians that makes them unqualified to have the sort of weapon that it’s alright to voluntarily spread to other nations. Of course, I don’t actually think it’s alright for anyone to have nuclear weapons or nuclear energy, but my point is the bias implicit in these arguments. It feeds the idea that Iranians are not civilized enough to speak with, even as one-half of the debate pushes for just that: speaking with the Iranians.

On the plus side, much of the push for a war on Iran was devoted for years to demonizing Iran’s president until Iran, for its own reasons, elected a different president, which threw a real monkey wrench into the gears of that old standby. Perhaps nations will learn the lesson that changing rulers can help fend off an attack as well as building weapons can. Also on the plus side, the ludicrous idea that Iran is a threat to the United States is very similar to the idea that Iraq was such a threat in 2002-2003. But on the negative side, memory of the Iraq war lies is already fading. Keeping past war lies well-remembered can be our best protection against new wars. Also on the negative side, even if people oppose a war on Iran, several billionaire funders of election campaigns favor one.

Will Congressman Robert Hurt who claims to represent me, and who got Syria right in 2013, commit to taking no funding from those warmongers? Here’s what Hurt had to say on Tuesday:

The Threat of a Nuclear Iran Persists

Dear Friend,

“The long-running nuclear negotiations with Iran and the United States, China, France, Germany, Russia, and the United Kingdom finally reached a head early this morning. Even with the deal reached, I am skeptical that Iran will keep their word, act in good faith, and abide by the terms of the deal.

The deal is an INSPECTION arrangement, not based in any way on anybody trusting anyone.

I remain committed to the goal of eliminating Iran’s nuclear capabilities because the prospect of Iran attaining the ability to produce a nuclear weapon is a grave threat to the world, and it is a very real possibility that this deal may only fuel Iran’s ability to expand its nuclear ambitions and facilitate its efforts to spread terror in the Middle East.

What nuclear ambitions? What terror? This from a Congressman who voted for pulling out U.S. forces on June 17th but has taken no further action and has funded the U.S. operation that is currently killing people in the Middle East?

Iranian leaders clearly remain focused on expanding their nuclear capabilities. They only want to do the bare minimum necessary to lift damaging international economic sanctions that have crippled their economy.

What mindreading feat is this based on? Where’s evidence? Haven’t we learned to demand it yet?

Iran is the world’s largest state sponsor of terror.

Not according to any world source, but rather the U.S. government which defines terrorism to suit its ends. The world disagrees.

The regime makes no secret of its longstanding commitment to see the demise of the United States and Israel, our greatest ally in the Middle East.

Then why don’t you point to a single scrap of evidence?

On Saturday, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei spoke about the need to continue to fight against the “arrogant” U.S. regardless of the outcome of these talks. Allowing Iran to achieve the nuclear capabilities it seeks would pose an existential threat to Israel and the world.

There’s nothing there about the demise of the United States or Israel or the slightest evidence of Iran pursuing or threatening to use any weapon. Expecting people to believe otherwise seems a bit — if you’ll excuse me — arrogant.

Given Iran’s nuclear ambitions and history, I remain unconvinced that Iran will act in good faith and adhere to any of the terms of a deal. Iran has been unwilling to make necessary compromises to meaningfully limit their nuclear program, and there is little reason to believe this will change. Reaching a deal just for the sake of doing so is not worth putting the safety and security of our allies and our country at risk; no deal is better than a dangerous deal.

Again, what ambitions? What history? Why the steady avoidance of documenting any claims? Iran is complying with restrictions not imposed on any other nation. How is that a refusal to compromise?

If this deal is in fact a bad one, the American people have a role to play in this process. In May, the President signed into law the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act, which would require congressional review of any final nuclear agreement with Iran before the President can waive or suspend sanctions previously imposed by Congress. Now that an agreement has been reached, Congress has 60 days to review the agreement and pass a joint resolution to approve or disapprove of the deal. Should Congress disapprove the deal, the President would likely veto that measure, but Congress can override the veto with a two-thirds vote.

The American people, in case you hadn’t noticed, favor the deal, including a majority of Democrats and a plurality of Republicans.

It is my hope that Congress will carefully consider the consequences of a deal with Iran and maintain its focus on the ultimate goal of eliminating the threat of a nuclear Iran. I remain committed to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to enhance the necessary sanctions against the Iranian regime. We must do everything within our power to prevent Iran from gaining nuclear capabilities.

Is that a proposal for war?

If you need any additional information or if we may be of assistance to you, please visit my website at hurt.house.gov or call my Washington office: (202) 225-4711, Charlottesville office: (434) 973-9631, Danville office: (434) 791-2596, or Farmville office: (434) 395-0120.

Anyone can tell their rep and senators to support the deal here.

David Swanson is an author, activist, journalist, and radio host. He is director of WorldBeyondWar.org and campaign coordinator for RootsAction.org. Swanson’s books include War Is A Lie. He blogs at DavidSwanson.org andWarIsACrime.org. He hosts Talk Nation Radio. He is a 2015 Nobel Peace Prize Nominee.

Follow him on Twitter: @davidcnswanson and FaceBook.

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US: Tainted Cancer Drugs Can Cause Stroke; Nationwide Recall Is Expanded

By Lori Alton
July 14, 2015
NaturalHealth365, July 12, 2015

 

medicine-cabinetA diagnosis of cancer is devastating. But cancer sufferers who have followed medical provider advice to undergo treatment with so-called cancer-fighting drugs may have unknowingly been exposed to the additional risk of stroke or other life-threatening medical event.

Why is this happening? The danger is due to tainted cancer medication in the form of sterile injectable drugs that the manufacturer began recalling in early June – due to “particulate” matter, as the company described the issue. The recall comes amidst yet another round of big pharma takeovers and acquisitions, leaving consumers to wonder whether drug companies are willing to take any available shortcut – even putting consumer health at risk – to turn a deal and build profit margins.

Multiple recalls of contaminated drugs: A shocking reality within the pharmaceutical industry

In early June, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) distributed a media release from drug manufacturer Mylan in which the company recalled seven lots of the cancer drug gemcitabine, two of which carried the Pfizer label. The cancer drugs are typically used to treat breast, ovarian, pancreatic and non-small cell lung cancers.

Mylan noted that while it was not aware of any incidences of patient health reactions to the drugs, a range of serious health threats are possible if particulate from the tainted drugs are injected into a patient. The company admits the risks can be life threatening, including chance of stroke.

In addition, Mylan announced it was recalling a single lot of methotrexate, a drug used to treat severe psoriasis, certain neoplastic diseases and adult rheumatoid arthritis. The June recall follows an earlier recall by Mylan, in April, during which it recalled one lot of the cancer drug carboplatin with a Mylan label, along with seven lots of cancer meds it manufactured for Pfizer. The latter included five lots of gemcitabine in different doses, and one lot each of methotrexate and cytarabine.

Corporate profits are more important than product safety

The recall of tainted cancer drugs comes amidst a swirling environment of FDA warnings, corporate takeovers and acquisitions that bring into question whether pharmaceutical companies are paying as much attention to safe manufacturing practices as they are to orchestrating their next ‘great’ business deal.

The most recently recalled drugs were all packaged in Agila Onco plants. Mylan acquired the Indian facilities in 2013 through its $1.75 billion buyout of the sterile injectables segment of Strides Arcolab, a strategic step in its bid to become a significant player in the sterile injectables sector.

The drug cytarabine, manufactured for Pfizer and recalled in April, was also made at the Agila plant in Bangalore. It is now known that the facility had already been cited with a warning letter from the FDA 2013, just prior to Mylan closing the deal. The FDA warning involved the plant’s use of defective gloves in the aseptic processing area, and noted that the company was not taking the problem seriously enough.

Just last year, Mylan recalled 10 lots of another Pfizer drug traced to the Agila plant for missing labels and for a black particulate.

Mylan is now in the midst of a complex big pharma game of mergers and acquisitions with a deal involving Perrigo, while at the same time Teva is making a bid for Mylan. Meanwhile, Pfizer is making a bid to expand its own sterile injectables business, sinking $17 billion into a buyout deal with the pharmaceutical company Hospira, a company known for its frequent product recalls.

Bottom line, as the saying goes, ‘let the buyer (cancer patient) beware.’

References:
http://www.fiercepharmamanufacturing.com/story/mylan-expands-recall-cancer-meds-made-pfizer/2015-06-09
http://www.fda.gov/Safety/Recalls/ucm444498.htm
http://www.fiercepharmaasia.com/story/mylans-bangalore-unit-cancer-drug-recall-expanded-firm-works-ma-angles/2015-06-17

Why American Presidents are so Rotten

By F. William Engdahl
July 13, 2015
New Eastern Outlook

 

242342342What few people inside or outside the United States grasp is the fundamental transformation of US politics, especially since the 1970’s, from political parties with stable mass-based constituencies to two parties bought lock, stock and barrel by a handful of American oligarchs with one agenda—the advancement of the interests of those same oligarchs regardless of the social consequences. Next year, 2016 is a Presidential election year. Already so-called front-runners are being proclaimed by mainstream media. It has nothing to do with genuine voter support but rather with the money behind Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Jeb Bush.

To understand this transformation makes clearer why the United States and their Washington politicians have become some of the most despised and ridiculed in the world today and why recent presidents from Ronald Reagan through to Barack Obama have been so morally rotten.

A key part of the transformation of America has come from extraordinary Supreme Court rulings. The country has gone from a country and political system where bipartisan consensus and cooperation on legislation in Washington was the hallmark of Washington politics, to the present undemocratic state. Today ultimately there is not a dime’s difference between major candidates—Democrat or Republican. This is because there has been a series of Supreme Court rulings and laws that virtually eliminate what used to be strict limits on how much money individuals and special interest groups could give to get their candidate elected.

Creation of the American Oligarchy

Because of changes introduced in the 1980’s from the Bush-Reagan presidencies the amount of tax exemptions enjoyed by the highest income group has soared while burdens on what was once the stable middle class in income has been squeezed severely over the past three decades. As of 2010 the richest 400 Americans–people like Bill Gates, George Soros, Ted Turner, Warren Buffett, David Rockefeller—had more assets than half of all Americans.

While the average incomes of the top 20 percent in the United States grew by 43 percent in inflation-adjusted terms between 1979 and 2012, the average incomes of those in the middle 60 percent grew by only 10 percent, and the incomes of the bottom 20 percent actually fell by 3 percent. The top rapidly pulled away from the middle, while the bottom simultaneously fell further behind.

The financial crisis that exploded in 2007 with the bursting of the housing bubble devastated the middle class while tax laws enacted after 2008 helped the top 10%. The period since the first Ronald Reagan presidency in 1981 has seen the phenomenal rise of a genuine American oligarchy. The Greek word oligarchy means a form of power structure in which power effectively rests with a few. It can be an oligarchy of royalty. In America today it is an oligarchy of wealth. This is the background to the dangerous developments in US election campaign financing.

No limits…

Since 1979 the US Supreme Court has handed down decisions that have literally opened the floodgates to the oligarchs’ takeover of elections.

After the Nixon Watergate campaign scandal in 1974 Congress passed amendments to the Federal Election Campaign Act. The amendments created a bipartisan Federal Election Commission (FEC), to oversee and enforce the law that initially set limits to total costs of federal campaigns. The act set up disclosure requirements for federal candidates, political parties, and political action committees of donations. On the surface all looked well and good. Political elections would be monitored strictly to prevent big money interests from buying elections.

Then in 1979 Congress made amendments to the FECA law that opened a giant financing loophole in the once strict FECA. A loophole allowed individuals, unions, and corporations to give unlimited sums to parties and national party committees for “party-building” purposes. These donations are known as “soft money.”

That was not enough for some special interests. They wanted to be certain they could push the “little man” out of politics with their money, along the motto “Who pays the piper calls the tune.”

In 2007 during the George W. Bush administration the Supreme Court took up the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act in Federal Election Commission v. Wisconsin Right to Life. The Court ruled, 5—4, that bans on ads paid for by corporations or unions in the weeks leading up to an election are an unconstitutional restriction on the right to advocate on an issue. “Discussion of issues cannot be suppressed simply because the issues may also be pertinent in an election,” Chief Justice John Roberts wrote.

Then, in 2010 during the Obama first term, the Supreme Court ruled, 5–4, in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, that the government cannot restrict the spending of corporations, unions, and other groups for political campaigns, maintaining that it’s their First Amendment right to support candidates as they choose. The US Constitution’s First Amendment in the Bill of Rights prohibits Congress from restricting the press or the rights of individuals to speak freely.

In the majority decision, Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote the astonishing conclusion, “We now conclude that independent expenditures, including those made by corporations, do not give rise to corruption or the appearance of corruption.” The decision gave rise to a proliferation of “super PACs” or Political Action Committees that opened the floodgates for unlimited amounts of money to be poured into political campaigns.

The consequences of these successive rulings has been the soaring costs of all public elections, meaning that only candidates who can woo the big money from Wall Street, the pharmaceutical industry, Monsanto and the agribusiness lobby and private billionaires have a chance to win. No chance for a maverick like Ron Paul or son Rand Paul or Bernie Sanders.

‘Dark money’ now has free speech right

Now the Republicans in the US Congress have just passed a new law that insures that so-called “dark money” will remain dark. Dark money refers to money that passes through supposedly non-political social welfare non-profit organizations, such as the Koch Brothers’ Crossroads GPS or the League of Conservation Voters, and is therefore free from disclosure.

On June 17, the House Appropriations Committee passed the 2016 Financial Services and General Government Appropriations bill. It included provisions that ensure that the so-called “dark money” of elections remains very dark. Section 129 of the bill prevents the IRS from making any investigation whether these social welfare groups are acting exclusively for social welfare; Section 625 prevents the SEC from requiring disclosure of political donations for publicly traded companies; Section 735 prevents a rule that requires government contractors disclose their contributions to political groups, nonprofits, and trade unions.

A closer look at the various candidates for the 2016 Presidential nominations in both Republican and Democratic parties reveals the shocking reality that almost every single one has backing of one or more American billionaires—not millionaires, but billionaires.

The billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch, behind the controversial Keystone oil pipeline from Canada to Texas, neo-conservatives who sit on the board of the American Enterprise Institute think tank, have publicly vowed to spend nearly $900 million to influence election races in 2016. Billionaires George Soros and Alice Walton, a Walmart heiress, back the ‘Ready for Hillary’ PAC, backing Hillary Clinton. Mitt Romney’s 2012 Presidential campaign was backed by billionaire casino mogul Sheldon Adelson, also a financier of Israel’s Netanyahu. Republican “golden boy,” Jeb Bush, is backed by numerous billionaires, many from Wall Street like Henry Kravis.

With the latest dark money law, most Americans will have no clue who is buying which candidate but we can be sure both candidates, Democrat and Republican, will be backed by the financial networks of this American money oligarchy. Little wonder that recent American politics—domestic and foreign have been so rotten. These days we get what they pay for…

F. William Engdahl is strategic risk consultant and lecturer, he holds a degree in politics from Princeton University and is a best-selling author on oil and geopolitics, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.

 

WikiLeaks email release reveals hacking by governments worldwide

By Mike Head
July 13, 2015
World Socialist Web Site

 

5aa4f-government-spyingWikiLeaks last week published more than one million emails from the Italian surveillance malware vendor Hacking Team, shedding further light on the extent of the spying being conducted by governments around the world against their populations.

Emails in the searchable database disclose the company’s negotiations with intelligence and police agencies to supply some of the advanced technology used to secretly hack into, take control over and monitor computers and smart phones.

In its emails, Hacking Team boasts that its programs can “attack, infect and monitor target PCs and smart phones, in a stealth way” and “bypass encryption, collect relevant data out of any device, and keep monitoring your targets wherever they are, even outside your monitoring domain.”

At least 46 countries are identified as purchasing, or preparing to purchase, Hacking Team software. The list features Western powers, such as the United States, Britain and Australia, along with openly repressive regimes around the world, including military dictatorships such as Egypt and Thailand.

On July 5 the company’s Twitter account was reportedly compromised. Over 400GB of data, featuring internal emails, invoices and source codes were revealed via BitTorrent. Revelations so far include that Hacking Team works with the major imperialist spy agencies, together with police units such as Bangladesh’s Rapid Action Battalion, a paramilitary agency notorious for torture and extrajudicial killings.

The US is a customer via the FBI, the military and the Drug Enforcement Agency. Police agencies in the United Kingdom have trialled Hacking Team’s technology, despite acknowledging that its use could be illegal. Australia’s purchasers include the main domestic spy agency, the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO), and the Australian Federal Police (AFP).

According to a survey of the database published by the Intercept web site, Hacking Team’s biggest sales in recent years have come from these countries, in descending order of sales: Mexico, Italy, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Chile, Hungary, Malaysia, UAE, the US, Singapore, Kazakhstan, Sudan, Uzbekistan, Panama, Ethiopia, Egypt, Luxembourg, Czech Republic, South Korea, Mongolia, Vietnam, Spain, Ecuador, Oman, Switzerland, Thailand, Russia, Nigeria, Turkey, Cyprus, Honduras, Azerbaijan, Colombia, Poland, and Bahrain.

The company was pushing for contracts in Brazil, Belarus, Guatemala, Israel, Kuwait, Finland, Georgia, Greece, India, Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan and elsewhere. Several intelligence and police agencies in India sought technology that was not just target-specific, but could create a sweeping net of surveillance.

One Hacking Team email sent to Maharashtra police provided an insight into the far-reaching capabilities of the company’s Remote Control System (RCS) to manipulate and monitor computer networks and smart phones.

“It allows you to covertly collect data from the most common desktop operating systems, such as: Windows, OS X, Linux,” the email claimed. “Furthermore, Remote Control System can monitor all the modern smart phones: Android, iOS, Blackberry, Windows phone. Once a target is infected, you can access all the information, including: Skype calls, Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, Line, Viber and many more—device location, files, screenshots, microphone, virtual currencies and much more.”

A brochure for RCS stated: “Take control of your targets and monitor them regardless of encryption and mobility … Remote Control System is invisible to the user, evades anti-virus and firewalls, and doesn’t affect the devices’ performance or battery life.”

Other promotional material emphasised that RCS could remotely activate microphones and cameras and send the data back for analysis, and monitor people logging in to Gmail and Facebook.

Emails relating to Australia showed company representatives identifying state and territory police forces, and a Victorian state anti-corruption body, as well as ASIO and the AFP, as being in confidential negotiations with Hacking Team. Victoria’s anti-corruption commission was considering signing a $500,000 contract for monitoring software as recently as two weeks ago.

Another email chain named a Canberra company, Criterion Solutions, signing a non-disclosure agreement for access to information about the RCS program last November. The Hacking Team’s Singaporean representatives later said Criterion Solutions was acting for ASIO.

For further exposing the surveillance being conducted against millions of people internationally, WikiLeaks and its founder, Julian Assange, will come under renewed assault by the governments and agencies involved. WikiLeaks is already being branded as “criminal,” while the anti-democratic operations of the so-called security agencies are regarded as legitimate.

Eric Rabe, the chief marketing and communications officer for Hacking Team, told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation that the hacking of the company’s data was “reckless and dangerous.” It was “a criminal attack” conducted with “no regard for public safety.” Rabe insisted that Hacking Team’s services helped police and investigators “keep the rest of us safe.”

In reality, as documented by previous WikiLeaks releases, the US and its allies are engaged in criminal activities on a worldwide scale, including massacres, torture, regime-change operations and illegal bugging. In addition, their mass surveillance operations, spanning the globe, have been laid bare by US National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden.

The UK-based Privacy International expressed shock at the scale of the Hacking Team’s operations disclosed by WikiLeaks. The organisation suggested that Western governments had not realised the “full picture” and needed to “ensure the integrity of their contractors.” It urged them to confine access to surveillance technology to “governments with strong human rights records,” rather than “governments with awful human rights records.”

The truth of the matter is that the US and other Western imperialist powers are leading the establishment of police-state conditions, ripping up basic legal and democratic rights in the process. Amid mounting political and social discontent, they are the most intent of all governments on utilising the technology now available to establish the scaffolding of a police state.

In Australia, the Abbott government, with the Labor Party’s bipartisan support, has pushed through parliament four major surveillance bills in the past six months, on the pretext of combating the threat of ISIS terrorism. The very first bill, brought forward last September, specifically allows ASIO to use listening, optical and tracking devices without warrants, and hack into and “disrupt” entire computer networks, while imposing lengthy jail terms for whistleblowers and journalists who alert the public to the undercover operations.

The fourth bill, passed this year despite widespread popular opposition, compels all Internet providers and social media platforms, including Google and Facebook, to retain vast amounts of data for two years so that the security services can trawl through it, permitting them to compile a full picture of everyone’s spending habits, political views, friends and associates and geographical locations.

The Problem of Greece Is Not Only a Tragedy. It Is a Lie

By John Pilger
July 13, 2015
Global Research

 

greeceAn historic betrayal has consumed Greece. Having set aside the mandate of the Greek electorate, the Syriza government has willfully ignored last week’s landslide “No” vote and secretly agreed a raft of repressive, impoverishing measures in return for a “bailout” that means sinister foreign control and a warning to the world.

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has pushed through parliament a proposal to cut at least 13 billion euros from the public purse – 4 billion euros more than the “austerity” figure rejected overwhelmingly by the majority of the Greek population in a referendum on 5 July.

These reportedly include a 50 per cent increase in the cost of healthcare for pensioners, almost 40 per cent of whom live in poverty; deep cuts in public sector wages; the complete privatization of public facilities such as airports and ports; a rise in value added tax to 23 per cent, now applied to the Greek islands where people struggle to eke out a living. There is more to come.

“Anti-austerity party sweeps to stunning victory”, declared aGuardian headline on January 25. “Radical leftists” the paper called Tsipras and his impressively-educated comrades.  They wore open neck shirts, and the finance minister rode a motorbike and was described as a “rock star of economics”. It was a façade. They were not radical in any sense of that cliched label, neither were they “anti austerity”.

For six months Tsipras and the recently discarded finance minister, Yanis Varoufakis, shuttled between Athens and Brussels, Berlin and the other centres of European money power. Instead of social justice for Greece, they achieved a new indebtedness, a deeper impoverishment that would merely replace a systemic rottenness based on the theft of tax revenue by the Greek super-wealthy – in accordance with European “neo-liberal” values — and cheap, highly profitable loans from those now seeking Greece’s scalp.

Greece’s debt, reports an audit by the Greek parliament, “is illegal, illegitimate and odious”. Proportionally, it is less than 30 per cent that of the debit of Germany, its major creditor. It is less than the debt of European banks whose “bailout” in 2007-8 was barely controversial and unpunished.

For a small country such as Greece, the euro is a colonial currency: a tether to a capitalist ideology so extreme that even the Pope pronounces it “intolerable” and “the dung of the devil”. The euro is to Greece what the US dollar is to remote territories in the Pacific, whose poverty and servility is guaranteed by their dependency.

In their travels to the court of the mighty in Brussels and Berlin, Tsipras and Varoufakis presented themselves neither as radicals nor “leftists” nor even honest social democrats, but as two slightly upstart supplicants in their pleas and demands. Without underestimating the hostility they faced, it is fair to say they displayed no political courage. More than once, the Greek people found out about their “secret austerity plans” in leaks to the media: such as a 30 June letter published in the Financial Times, in which Tsipras promised the heads of the EU, the European Central Bank and the IMF to accept their basic, most vicious demands – which he has now accepted.

When the Greek electorate voted “no” on 5 July to this very kind of rotten deal, Tsipras said, “Come Monday and the Greek government will be at the negotiating table after the referendum with better terms for the Greek people”. Greeks had not voted for “better terms”. They had voted for justice and for sovereignty, as they had done on January 25.

The day after the January election a truly democratic and, yes, radical government would have stopped every euro leaving the country, repudiated the “illegal and odious” debt – as Argentina did successfully — and expedited a plan to leave the crippling Eurozone. But there was no plan. There was only a willingness to be “at the table” seeking “better terms”.

The true nature of Syriza has been seldom examined and explained. To the foreign media it is no more than “leftist” or “far left” or “hardline” – the usual misleading spray. Some of Syriza’s international supporters have reached, at times, levels of cheer leading reminiscent of the rise of Barack Obama. Few have asked: Who are these “radicals”? What do they believe in?

In 2013, Yanis Varoufakis wrote:

“Should we welcome this crisis of European capitalism as an opportunity to replace it with a better system? Or should we be so worried about it as to embark upon a campaign for stabilising capitalism? To me, the answer is clear. Europe’s crisis is far less likely to give birth to a better alternative to capitalism …

“I bow to the criticism that I have campaigned on an agenda founded on the assumption that the left was, and remains, squarely defeated …. Yes, I would love to put forward [a] radical agenda. But, no, I am not prepared to commit the [error of the British Labour Party following Thatcher’s victory].

“What good did we achieve in Britain in the early 1980s by promoting an agenda of socialist change that British society scorned while falling headlong into Thatcher’s neoliberal trip? Precisely none. What good will it do today to call for a dismantling of the Eurozone, of the European Union itself  …?”

Varoufakis omits all mention of the Social Democratic Party that split the Labour vote and led to Blairism. In suggesting people in Britain “scorned socialist change” – when they were given no real opportunity to bring about that change – he echoes Blair.

The leaders of Syriza are revolutionaries of a kind – but their revolution is the perverse, familiar appropriation of social democratic and parliamentary movements by liberals groomed to comply with neo-liberal drivel and a social engineering whose authentic face is that of Wolfgang Schauble, Germany’s finance minister, an imperial thug. Like the Labour Party in Britain and its equivalents among those former social democratic parties still describing themselves as “liberal” or even “left”,  Syriza is the product of an affluent, highly privileged, educated middle class, “schooled in postmodernism”, as Alex Lantier wrote.

For them, class is the unmentionable, let alone an enduring struggle, regardless of the reality of the lives of most human beings. Syriza’s luminaries are well-groomed; they lead not the resistance that ordinary people crave, as the Greek electorate has so bravely demonstrated, but “better terms” of a venal status quo that corrals and punishes the poor. When merged with “identity politics” and its insidious distractions, the consequence is not resistance, but subservience. “Mainstream” political life in Britain exemplifies this.

This is not inevitable, a done deal, if we wake up from the long, postmodern coma and reject the myths and deceptions of those who claim to represent us, and fight.

Nestle CEO Says He Would Profit More from CA’s Drought if He Could

Serious droughts don’t seem to matter

By Christina Sarich
July 12, 2015
Natural Society

 

water-bottle-drought-735-350According to Credo, Nestle CEO Tim Brown was asked in a radio interview recently if the company would consider halting their water extraction from a national forest in drought-stricken California. The answer may not be what you’d expect.

Did Brown apologize for the corporation’s contribution to California’s water crisis? Nope. He doubled down and said, “Absolutely not. In fact, if I could increase it, I would.”

Many of the 200,000 activists who signed a petition asking Nestle to stop extracting water from the national forest reserve found out about Nestle’s actions through Natural Society. In all, the sheer amount of protest drummed up quite a bit of negative press for Nestle. The company has still refused to change its ways.

Water privatization, as they’ve made clear, is their goal. Nestle’s former CEO Peter Brabeck-Letmathe also has a long history of disregarding public health and abusing the environment to take part in the profit of an astounding $35 billion in annual profit from water bottle sales alone. It is clear that this corporation doesn’t think clean drinking water is a human right.

Nestle recently updated their website to address the question – Have you been sourcing water illegally in the San Bernadino National Forest without a proper permit?

“No. We understand that our permit is one of hundreds awaiting renewal by the US Forest Service (USFS). The USFS has repeatedly informed Nestlé Waters North America (NWNA) that we can lawfully continue our operations pending the reissuance of our permit and that the provisions of our existing permit are still in force until the effective date of a new permit. NWNA has continued to receive and pay invoices from the USFS for the annual permit fee, as we have since it was first issued. We also continue to report our water use from the spring to the State Water Resources Control Board.”

Never mind that California is going through the worst drought in history, and that other companies have been responsible enough to halt the bottling of water in order to honor the environmental devastation that the state faces.

Also, never mind that Nestle’s permit to extract water expired 27 years ago!

It’s time to halt Nestle’s water privatization plans, especially while utilizing an expired license in a state that is having serious water issues. Nestle is taking water and then selling it back to a drought-stricken population. It has to stop.