Snowden Reveals NSA Program Described as 'Last Straw' Before Leak


Snowden tells investigative journalist James Bamford that NSA was behind 2012 internet blackout in Syria

Published on Wednesday, August 13, 2014 by Common Dreams by Lauren McCauley, staff writer

In an in-depth interview published by Wired Magazine on Wednesday, Edward Snowden discloses what government activities proved to be the "last straw," prompting the whistleblower to expose the depths of the National Security Agency's secret surveillance operation.

Speaking with investigative journalist James Bamford—who blew the whistle on a government eavesdropping program when stationed in Hawaii during the Vietnam War and later wrote a number of best-selling books about government secrecy and the NSA—Snowden reveals how a botched U.S. government hacking operation caused Syria's 2012 internet blackout.

Bamford writes:

One day an intelligence officer told him that TAO—a division of NSA hackers—had attempted in 2012 to remotely install an exploit in one of the core routers at a major Internet service provider in Syria, which was in the midst of a prolonged civil war. This would have given the NSA access to email and other Internet traffic from much of the country. But something went wrong, and the router was bricked instead—rendered totally inoperable. The failure of this router caused Syria to suddenly lose all connection to the Internet—although the public didn't know that the US government was responsible.

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What Led Israel to Stop the Assault — and What Comes Next?



To discuss the lead-up to the ceasefire and what to expect from the talks in Cairo, we are joined by author and scholar Norman Finkelstein. Posted August 06, 2014 on DemocracyNow. Support DemocracyNow

AARON MATÉ: Israel has pulled its ground forces from the Gaza Strip as a 72-hour ceasefire takes hold. In addition, Israeli and Palestinian factions have agreed to attend talks in Cairo on a longer-term agreement. Gaza officials say at least 1,865 Palestinians, most of them civilians, died during Israel’s offensive, which began on July 8th. Israel says 64 of its soldiers and three civilians have been killed. Nearly a quarter of Gaza’s 1.8 million resident were displaced during the assault, which destroyed more than 3,000 homes.

Earlier today, the Israeli military sent out a message reading, quote: "Mission accomplished: We have destroyed Hamas’ tunnels leading from Gaza into Israel. All of Israel is now safer." Palestinians coming home to their neighborhoods report massive amounts of destruction.

GAZA RESIDENT: [translated] I am destroyed. I’m shocked. I have heart problems, and then I saw our house. We were all shocked. We don’t know what to do. Look at our houses and our children. Everything is destroyed, four apartments. All my children are stranded in the schools. Where are we supposed to go?

AMY GOODMAN: In other developments, a prominent Foreign Office minister in Britain, Sayeeda Warsi, has resigned, saying Britain’s policy on the crisis in Gaza is, quote, "morally indefensible." In an interview with The Huffington Post, Warsi criticized Britain for pressuring Palestinian leadership not to seek justice at the International Criminal Court. On Monday, Human Rights Watch urged Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to seek ICC jurisdiction over crimes committed on and from Palestinian territory. The group detailed multiple examples of Israeli soldiers shooting and killing fleeing civilians in Gaza.

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It’s Putin’s fault… really?


Brilliantly said by Peter Lavelle

If one relies on Western mainstream media and those who claim to represent the Western world, it is easy to come to the conclusion that Russian President Vladimir Putin is the most evil political figure in the world.

Actually, it would not be a gross exaggeration to claim Putin is responsible for just about all that afflicts the human condition today. One simple sentence says it all: “Putin did it.” The fact is the West is infuriated by Russia’s refusal to accept its place in the world assigned by the Washington consensus. And Putin gets all the blame for this.

Since the end of the Cold War, American foreign policy has lacked any meaningful ideological coherence. It says it supports democracy, but only democratic expressions that fit Washington’s self-ascribed security needs. Thus, democratic experiences in Pakistan, Lebanon, Venezuela, Palestine, Iran, Syria, Ukraine, and Russia and others are deemed null and void. These countries “failed” to follow Washington’s playbook by not electing the “right choice.” Washington’s solution is the export of its democratic choices – and the use of force is actually preferable. Providing guns and bribes to targeted individuals and groups are sloppy tools of the democracy export trade, but both ensure Washington determines political outcomes on the ground and gives mainstream media propaganda cannon fodder demonstrating America’s foreign policy idealism, even charity.

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Brilliant idea to support the ME peace process and stop the occupation of GAZA


Italiano sotto- Deutsch unten - Español abajo  - Français dessous -

Yesterday we started this FB page (WAVE OF HANDS UNITED FOR GAZA) inspired by friends of an Israeli musician who posted these anonymous pictures of hands and passports.

I believe this is a brilliant idea because it allows everybody, kids included to write on their hands and share their nationality. I could develop the whole thing on more than a FB page. I plan a separate site for that.

I act and dedicate all of my time, with no income, out of a deep sense for civic virtue, because I sense the urgency to act and feel like I have something to offer that can develop into the BIG thing you're all wishing for. While you all have a life, earn money, go on vacation, play with kids, walk the dog, cook dinner and laugh with friends, I do this. I don't mind. I am strong. I think my time is worth it because I believe I can deliver something BIG, the one big thing you all need.

The "stand with Palestine - hands with message and passport idea" takes 5 minutes, it's fun for your kids, educative, unifying, and inspiring. Today I expect to see many hands images with your passports posted on my wall, so that I can share them anonymously on the WHUG page.

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Federal Court: No Impunity for Abu Ghraib Torturers


Federal appeals court rules that Iraqi victims will have day in court

Published on Monday, June 30, 2014 by Common Dreams - Andrea Germanos, staff writer

A federal appeals court has ruled that Iraqi victims of torture at Abu Ghraib can sue contractor CACI. (Photo: Stephen Melkisethian/cc/flickr)

In a ruling that "affirms that U.S. corporations are not entitled to impunity for torture and war crimes," a federal appeals court Monday overturned a lower court's decision that had prevented accountability sought by Iraqi victims of torture at the notorious Abu Ghraib prison.

World outrage followed photo evidence of brutality at the prison between 2003 and 2004, and a leaked, internal Army report noted "sadistic, blatant, and wanton criminal abuses" at the hands of interrogators at the facility.

The suit, Al Shimari v. CACI International, Inc., was brought on behalf of four victims of torture at Abu Ghraib, against the Arlington, Virginia-based contractor, which was hired by the United States to conduct interrogations at the prison, and whom the plaintiffs say "instigated, directed, participated in, encouraged, and aided and abetted conduct towards detainees that clearly violated the Geneva Conventions, the Army Field Manual, and the laws of the United States." They state that the contractor engaged in abuse, ignored reports of mistreatment and attempted to cover up the torture.

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Is it you or the experts on activism who urgently need to unleash their mind/evolve?


These are screenshots of titles from articles taken from my weekly email update from CommonDreams. I couldn't miss the narrative going through every title and noticing that the conflicts people face have little to do with conventional wars. When they refer to wars, it's U.S. wars, that either we thought had ended, never ended, or are about to restart anew(?). Are you as confused as we are?

The Wikileaks article exposes a secret plan for more financial deregulation. Is that also considered a war in your dictionary as it already is in ours? The children that are dying in Fukushima are not dying from nuclear bombs, but due to the lack of responsibility of building dangerous nuclear plants close to fault lines, without appropriate safety measures. The amount of radiation from the Fukushima disaster far exceeds both atomic bombs from WWII. The media is simply ignoring that. So how do all the advocacy groups and organizations who advocated for a world free of nuclear "weapons" measure up their approach, when the term "weapon" is highly inappropriate?

The Pipeline XL, next to the Fracking, the Offshore Drilling, the GMOs, the Austerity measures, etc. are so often referred to as "wars". "This Means War" says the article by Lauren McCauley of CommonDreams. There is a war on dissent, on journalism, on whistleblowers, on students, on the poor. Here's a few more examples, in case you want to verify them: [1],[2],[3],[4],[5],[6].

An excerpts from Marianne Williamson article: "War, Iraq, Enlightenment"

"Sometimes, it’s when all hope is seemingly lost that the greatest breakthroughs occur in life. Whatever forces us to recognize the limit to what we can do by ourselves, opens the mind to consider the possibility that there might be another way. When everything is all messed up, we’ve played all our cards, and we don’t have a clue what to do now – that often becomes a magic moment. Commonly called “bottoming out,” it’s the point when we realize that our way isn’t working."

What's not working is the cohesion among activists and the excessive strains that organizations put on them without delivering tangible, long lasting results.

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FB page that calls for direct murder of Palestinians doesn't "violate community standards"


For a few days now, this page appeared on Facebook that calls for the direct murder of Palestinians, who are framed with the expected dehumanizing term of terrorists. Next to the image of two Palestinians, we read the explicit words:

Bibi seems to be having trouble finding terrorists to kill so we are helping him, "Hassan Salameh (left) is an arch-terrorist responsible for killing Jews in the upper מ45. Selma still celebrating in an Israeli jail at the expense of the taxes we pay, and wait for the next deal. It's time to get it right and thus reduce the appetite of the kidnappers.

Italic text shows the call to murder of 2 people. What part of hateful speech doesn't FB understand?

Whoever started this page needs a few history lesson on how the Germans/Nazi leadership used Dehumanizing propaganda to motivate violence against the Jews in the 1940s (here's a link).

Any page that contains hateful speech and calls to violence is just plain wrong, but Facebook doesn't think so. What is more shocking than the content of the page is the dismissal by Facebook to remove it, and apparently the lack of interests by alternative media to expose this outrageous fact.

I don't care on which side of the conflict you stand and we're not here to pick a side, but to hold accountable a behavior that is blatantly wrong and unacceptable.

If Facebook hasn't yet felt enough pressure from the community, maybe it's time you add your name to the call to report this page.

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Did EU Ministers OK 'Poisoned Chalice' That Will Open Floodgates to GMO Crops?

Decision by EU environment ministers could make it harder for states for avoid biotech-bullying, critics warn.

Published on Thursday, June 12, 2014 by Common Dreams - Andrea Germanos, staff writer


Button in French reads: GMO? I don't want any. (Photo: Daniel/cc/flickr)

In a decision denounced by green groups, European Union environment ministers on Thursday approved a proposal to give individual member states the authority to ban genetically modified crops that have received EU Commission approval.

But, as Bloomberg noted, "The draft law aims to accelerate endorsements at EU level of requests to plant gene-altered seeds made by companies such as Monsanto."

Friends of the Earth Europe criticized the vote as "a poisoned chalice which could open Europe's fields to more biotech crop."

"It is unacceptable that companies like Monsanto will be given the first say in any decision to ban their products," stated Mute Schimpf, food campaigner for the organization. "Governments must be able to ban unwanted and risky GM crops without needing the permission of the companies who profit from them."

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