People’s Climate March

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BJP Government Grants the “Green Light” to Monsanto

The Indian government is facing strong opposition for its decision to allow field trials of genetically modified (GM) crops. The Coalition for a GM-Free India is calling the approvals ‘hasty’ and has asked the Minister for Environment, Forests & Climate Change to cancel them.

Swadeshi Jagaran Manch (SJM) is the economic wing of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) – the parent body of the BJP party. It has termed the decision of the Narendra Modi BJP central government as a “betrayal of people’s trust.”

Ashwani Mahajan, All India co-convener of SJM says:

“SJM has received the news reports of approval of field trials of GM food crops by Genetically Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC), under the Union Ministry of Environment & Forest, with shock, disbelief and anguish.”

The GEAC has reportedly approved 60 out of 70 applications for the field trials of GM crops, despite the Supreme Court appointed Technical Expert Committee (TEC) already having submitted its report based on sound science and factual data that strongly recommends the stopping of all such field trials [1].

A statement by the SJM reads:

“People of India who have elected BJP to power are feeling deceived. They had voted BJP to power on the promises the party made to the people of India in its manifesto 2014 and speeches made by the leaders during the election campaign.”

The BJP had promised in its election manifesto that GM food will not be allowed without evaluation of its long-term effects.

The statement continues:

“SJM wants to remind the government that moratorium on open field trials of GM food crops was the result of long and difficult struggle by people of India including Swadeshi Jagran Manch, farmers, scientific experts, consumers, activists and other stakeholders. The Supreme Court of India has also been of the clear view that no hasty decision in this regard shall be taken that puts the health of people and soil at risk.”

During the previous government, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Agriculture, which included seven members from BJP, also recommended against the trial of GM crops.

The Coalition for a GM-Free India says:

“When most countries around the world are not adopting this risky technology which has a large number of attendant risks to health, environment, and livelihoods, and when several credible official bodies in India have asked for a stopping of field trials, it is extremely irresponsible that our apex biotechnology regulator has thrown such caution to the winds to approve open air field trials.”

Despite election promises, the Modi-led government has signaled its intention of fast-tracking GM technology, despite the TEC recommendations and two reports by the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Agriculture advocating a moratorium and adequate regulatory structures free from conflicts of interest, independent scientific expertise and rigorous scientific studies be implemented.

The prevailing structures are based on too cosy a relationship between compliant bureaucrats and the biotech industry [2], which has in any case already been granted a firm strategic hold over agricultural policy and research in India [3].

The GMO biotech sector’s smokescreen of benevolence

The often-made claim is that GMOs are required to feed India’s huge population. The profit-driven biotech sector which seeks monopolistic control over the world’s food [4] often likes to hide behind a smokescreen of benevolence. Dilnavaz Variava has worked for a range of organizations, including the World Wildlife Fund India, where she was chief executive, and the Bombay Natural History Society. She has also served on several federal government committees as well as one in Maharashtra for the development of agriculture. She says:

“A World Bank commissioned study found that agro-ecological approaches and not GM provide the best solution to the world’s food crisis. In March 2011, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food also reported that small scale farmers could double food production within five to ten years by agro-ecological farming. An Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India study for West Bengal found that organic farming could increase net per capita income of a farmer in the state by 250 percent, lead to wealth accumulation of 120 billion rupees ($1.9 billion), generate exports worth 5.5 billion rupees ($87 million) and create nearly two million employment opportunities over five years. In Andhra Pradesh, Community Managed Sustainable Agriculture was started in 2005-06. It promoted ecologically and economically sound agriculture with state government and World Bank support. About 10,000 villages with one million farmers practice non-pesticidal management on over 3.5 million acres. Pesticide use in the state has decreased by more than 45 percent. Net income increases were 3,000 to 15,000 rupees per acre, in addition to meeting a household’s food needs.” [5]

She also claims that in places where GMOs have been adopted, food insecurity has risen:

“Macroeconomic data for the largest adopters of GM food indicate the opposite. In the U.S., food insecurity has risen from 12 percent in pre-GM 1995 to 15 percent in 2011. In Paraguay, where nearly 65 percent of land is under GM crops, hunger increased from 12.6 percent in 2004-06 to 25.5 percent in 2010-12. In Brazil andArgentina, GM food has not reduced hunger. In any event, GM does not increase yields, as the Union of Concerned Scientists established through a review of 12 years of GM in the US.”

This is of little concern to the powerful biotech lobby and its compliant bureaucrats and politicians. Money talks and wealth buys political influence. That much is as true in the US [6] as it appears to be increasingly the case in India, where the story of GMOs is one of gross violations, conflicts of interest and blatant disregard of biosafety norms [7].

— source globalresearch.ca

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U.S. Turns Back on Child Migrants

As tens of thousands of children cross the U.S. border fleeing violence in their native Central American home countries, we look at the historical roots of the crisis. The United States has a long and sadly bloody history of destabilizing democratic governments in Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador — the very countries that are now the sources of this latest migration wave. This week saw the first planeload of children deported to Honduras since President Obama vowed to speed up the removal of more than 57,000 youth who have fled to the United States from Central America in recent months. The group of 38 deportees included 21 children between the ages of 18 months and 15 years, along with 17 female family members. White House spokesman Josh Earnest said the experience of Cordova and others should demonstrate to Central Americans that “they will not be welcomed to this country with open arms.”

But U.S. funding and foreign policy has long shaped the lives of Central Americans. June 28 marked the fifth anniversary of the military coup that deposed democratically elected Honduran President Manuel Zelaya, which the United States did not oppose.

Dana Frank talking:

we keep hearing the fact that people are fleeing gangs and violence, but there hasn’t been an analysis or discussion of why is there so much gang activity and violence in Honduras. And the answer is this tremendous criminality that the 2009 military coup opened the door to when it overthrew the democratically elected president, Manuel Zelaya. The coup, of course, itself was a criminal act, and it really opened the door for this spectacular corruption of the police and up-and-down, top-to-bottom of the government. And that, in turn, means it’s possible to kill anybody you want, practically, and nothing will happen to you. It’s widely documented that the police are overwhelmingly corrupt. Even a government official charged with cleaning up the police admitted last fall that 70 percent of the Honduran police are beyond saving. And you heard the woman, Ms. Cordova, say that the police themselves are tied in with organized crime and drug traffickers. So, when we talk about this violence, it’s really important to understand there’s almost no functioning criminal justice system and no political will at the top to do anything about this.

The president, the new president, Juan Orlando Hernández, who came into power in January, himself was a major backer of the criminal coup when he was the president—was head of a key committee in the Honduran Congress at the time, and a year and a half ago, as president of the Honduran Congress, illegally overthrew part of the Supreme Court, and he illegally was part of naming a new attorney general loyal to him last summer, named to an illegal five-year term. And he’s built his campaign not around cleaning up the police, but a new military police that is expanding this militarization of Honduran society, and that military police itself is committing serious human rights abuses, including, recently in May, beating up and jailing the most prominent advocate for children in Honduras.

as Senator Tim Kaine said in a hearing for the new ambassador of Honduras, that Hondurans are saying that the level of militarization, as well—he said the level of military repression and terror there is worse than it was in the early 1980s at the height of the U.S.-funded Contra war in Nicaragua that Honduras was the base for. So we need to talk about, relatively, this is even more terrifying than then, which is really saying a lot.

Yeah, when we talk about the fleeing gangs and violence, it’s also this tremendous poverty. And poverty doesn’t just happen. It, itself, is a direct result of policies of both the Honduran government and the U.S. government, including privatizations, mass layoffs of government workers, and a new—in Honduras, a new law, that’s now made permanent, that breaks up full-time jobs and makes them part-time and ineligible for unionization, living wage and the national health service. And a lot of these economic policies are driven by U.S.-funded lending organizations like the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank, which itself is funding the corrupt Honduran police. The Central American Free Trade Agreement is the other piece of this. Like NAFTA did for the U.S. and Mexico, it opens the door to this open competition between small producers in agriculture in Honduras, small manufacturers, and jobs are disappearing as a result of that.

So, with this poverty that we’re seeing that people are fleeing, it’s not like people are like, “Let’s go have the American dream.” There are almost no jobs for young people. Their parents know it. And we’re talking about starving to death—that’s the alternative—or being driven into gangs with tremendous sexual violence. And it’s a very, very tragic situation here. But it’s not like it tragically just happened. It’s a direct result of very conscious policies by the U.S. and Honduran governments.

former Honduran President Manuel Zelaya strongly felt that the U.S. was involved with the coup. the biggest evidence we have is that his plane stopped at the air force base at Palmerola, known as Soto Cano Air Force Base now, which is a joint U.S. and Honduran base. That plane could not have stopped there without U.S. permission. We don’t have the big smoking guns. We certainly have the behavior of the U.S. State Department and the White House after the coup, which was to legitimate the coup government as an equal partner to Zelaya—in fact, as a superior partner. They never denounced the spectacular repression after the coup. And they treated Zelaya like a bad child for trying to return to his own country. They recognized—they announced that they would recognize the outcome of the illegitimate November elections after that, even before the votes were counted. And it was clearly they wanted the whole situation to go away.

I mean, they clearly—Zelaya was, in many ways, the weakest domino of all the center-left and left governments that had come to power in Latin America in the previous 15 years. And it was a message to all those other governments that we will back coups, and we will overthrow you, as well. The U.S. then supported President Lobo, the outcome of that November 2009 election, and made up this fiction that it was a government of national reconciliation, and, ever since, has been turning a blind eye, for the most part, to the spectacular human rights abuses, including killings by state security forces and really spectacular lack of political will to deal with corruption at the very top of the government. And the U.S. keeps acting like this is just a hunky-dory government that we should be working with as a partner.

You know, I found it tremendously chilling to be reading newspaper reports and media reports of that planeload of children that came back to Honduras and the U.S. working with the Honduran government, welcoming those children with open arms, when the government itself is countenancing this problem. The government itself, you know, beat—has countenanced the beating up of the leading independent children’s activist in the country. The government itself doesn’t have the political will to clean up the police. So, what does it mean that we’re working with this partner to help these Honduran children?

Jennifer Harbury talking:

We’ve been horrified by the thought of sending any of these children back, since, by international and domestic law, they qualify as refugees, almost all of them.

I can certainly talk about the Guatemalan counterpart to what Dana was just discussing. We talk sometimes about maybe the solution is to send more funding—as she was saying, a new Marshall Plan—to Central American countries. But that’s in fact going to pour gasoline on the fire, especially in Guatemala, where a number of former and current top officials in the military are in fact the drug lords. Some of them have left the military; some are still in. They got involved in the drug trade while the wars were going on and they had airstrips that were valuable to the Colombian drug lords. They became very wealthy that way and now have what are called parallel structures. And they organize, arm and train the gangs themselves to do their dirty work.

For example, the Zeta cartel that terrorize the border strip where I live now, which is almost down to Brownsville—I’m 10 miles from the Rio Grande—the Zetas are one of the most feared cartels anywhere, totally brutal. They were armed, trained and organized by the Guatemalan military special forces, called the Kaibiles, who, of course, in turn, were armed, trained, organized, etc., by the United States intelligence networks, and trained many of them at the School of the Americas. Another example is Julio Roberto Alpirez, a colonel, one of many high-level military officials, who is on the DEA corrupt officer list, but because he also worked as a paid CIA informant, no one has ever been able to go after him. So, much like Honduras, we have one of the highest murder rates in the world. The femicide rate is something like 10 times higher than that in Juárez.

As these refugees pour into the United States, we’re taking all kinds of measures to justify sending them back and claiming they’re not refugees. But the way we’re doing that is to expedite or rush them through proceedings so quickly that they can’t really tell their stories. And, of course, they have no legal advice. And basically turns on whether or not a 10-year-old child, when confronted with a Border Patrol agent, or young mother confronted with a Border Patrol agent, is able and willing to say, “I’m asking for political asylum. I’m in danger of persecution or abuse at the hands of the drug lords and the gangs.” And all of those people know, if they ever say those words, they’re going to be dead when they go back home. It’s the death penalty to squeal, basically, on the gangs and the drug lords in any way. So, without a lawyer, within days, they’re going to be headed home under expedited proceedings.

And this is a violation of international law and also U.S. domestic law. If they qualify for asylum or treatment under the Convention Against Torture, if they’re in danger of being harmed in this way by people who either are government officials or who are acting without the local governments being able or “willing,” quote-unquote, to protect the population, then these people are refugees. They cannot be sent back. And sweeping them under the rug and getting them out of the country so fast that they can’t tell their stories or get any legal advice is a double violation of humanitarian law, and it’s something we’re going to be answering for for a long time. We’re certainly not proud of having turned back the boatload of Jews to Nazi Germany, but at least we didn’t sail out on the high seas, board the ships and throw people overboard. These are children. These are refugees. We have to let them in.

There are many kinds of programs that we can put into action that would deal with the situation well, in the same way we’ve done before. We can do deferred action, deferred enforcement, temporary protected status. We’ve done those things for Honduras and Haiti. It would let people stay for a year or two and then have the danger in their homelands reconsidered. Meanwhile, they can work and support themselves. It would relieve the backup in the court. There’s many alternatives. We’re choosing to pretend that they’re not refugees, and send them home in violation of the law.

— source democracynow.org

Dana Frank, professor of history at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and an expert on human rights and U.S. policy in Honduras. She recently authored an article titled “Who’s Responsible for the Flight of Honduran Children?” and in February her article “The Thugocracy Next Door” appeared in Politico magazine.

Jennifer Harbury, human rights activist and lawyer, based in Weslaco, Texas, near the U.S.-Mexico border. Her husband, Efraín Bámaca Velásquez, a guerrilla commander, a Mayan comandante and guerrilla, was disappeared after he was captured by the Guatemalan army in the 1980s. She’s the author of Searching for Everardo: A Story of Love, War, and the CIA in Guatemala and has spent decades pressing for classified information on her husband’s case.

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Death to leftists

political climate inside Israel in which the violence in Gaza has been escalating. Several peace protesters inside Israel have been attacked in recent demonstrations. On Saturday, Haifa’s deputy mayor, Dr. Suhail Assad, and his son were beaten when right-wing activists attacked antiwar demonstrators protesting Israel’s bombardment of Gaza. Right-wing activists burned a Palestinian flag and shouted “Death to Arabs!” On Sunday, the captain of a youth soccer team in Be’er Sheva wrote on his Facebook page, quote, “send left-wing voters to the gas chambers and clean this country of leftists.” For the week before the Gaza invasion began, gangs of Israelis were reportedly roaming the streets of Jerusalem and other towns shouting “Death to Arabs!”

Rann Bar-On talking:

We were about three or four hundred left-wing activists demonstrating against the war, for peace between Arabs and Jews, refusing to be enemies. As we arrived, my partner and I saw well over a thousand activists from—militant activists from the right, surrounded by police and others, screaming, “Death to Arabs! Death to leftists!” As we were protesting, they moved towards us. The police allowed them to move towards us. The police allowed them to attack us, to throw stones at us. Later on, as we were trying to leave, the police took—the police did not attempt to allow us to leave. They took over an hour to evacuate us while we were under heavy attack by stones and other missiles. Many were injured. We’ve had over 30 injured. Two women are still in hospital. There were gangs roaming the streets, beating up anyone they thought was an Arab or member of our demonstration

I believe that what Israel is doing in Gaza is a racist attack. It is not self-defense in any way. And it is a continuation of Israeli policy that has always discriminated against the Arab population. What happened to us at the protest is not new. This is something that is a trend that has been continuing for many years. There has been much incitement from the political class that has allowed even so-called moderate right-wingers to join cries saying, “Death to Arabs! Death to leftists!” and attacking activists and Arabs in the street.

Max Blumenthal talking:

I hate being vindicated for the facts that I produced in this book, that I described in this book, the facts on the ground inside Israeli society. And what we saw in Haifa, what I understand, is that these right-wingers who attacked Rann and other leftists, who are heavily demonized in Israeli society, incited against at the highest level by figures like the foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, that these right-wingers arrived in buses, that this was a very organized attack. It’s apparent to me that extreme right-wing elements have infiltrated the police, which have allowed them to attack leftists across Israel, to attack antiwar protesters. They’ve infiltrated them much in the way that Golden Dawn has done in Greece.

The right wing, the current inception of the street-level right wing, which kind of acts as the street muscle for Netanyahu’s governing coalition, particularly the right-wing elements represented by Naftali Bennett of the Jewish Home Party, they are not just settlers or religious nationalists. Many of them were army reservists, who came together as part of the orange cells that protested the withdrawal from the Gaza Strip in 2006. They formed a group called Im Tirtzu, which intimidates leftists and Palestinians on college campuses across Israel. And they are still a major part of the army, including the army officer corps. So the violence that we’re seeing in Gaza is not just related to a particular military strategy; it’s also influenced by the ideology that has captured the hearts and minds of these young men who have learned to demonize the other and see Palestinians and antiwar and human rights elements as absolutely subhuman. It’s playing out unofficially through a vigilante campaign in Israel, but in Gaza what we’re witnessing is the official revenge campaign orchestrated by Netanyahu and the military.

— source democracynow.org

Rann Bar-On, Israeli peace activist. He is a lecturer in mathematics at Duke University and has been in Haifa visiting his parents for the last two weeks.

Max Blumenthal, senior writer for AlterNet.org and best-selling author whose latest book, Goliath: Life and Loathing in Greater Israel, documents the spread of right-wing Israeli extremism.

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Angry How Facebook Uses Your Data? Here’s What to Do

To everyone upset by the recent revelation that Facebook let academic researchers conduct a sociological experiment on its members without their consent: Are you really surprised?

A quick recap: Researchers tweaked nearly 700,000 random Facebook users’ News feeds to present either more negative posts or more positive posts than they normally would have. Not surprisingly, those users’ own subsequent posts, on average, displayed a slight but measurable tendency to follow the prevailing mood. (Facebook News feeds are normally run through a secret algorithm that displays only about a fifth of friends’ postings.)

Once media outlets discovered the academic paper online, the prevailing mood across the Internet was outrage. Media commentators accused Facebook of manipulating its users’ emotions, academics decried the research methods and one privacy advocate wondered whether the experiment had driven anyone to suicide.

Hyperbole aside, the fine print on Facebook’s data-use and privacy policies allows the company to do pretty much whatever it wants with your personal data, as long as that data is anonymized so that it can’t be easily tied to you. That’s why Mark Zuckerberg is a billionaire, and you’re not. But what can you do about this situation? Not much, unless you suspend your Facebook account, or reduce your Facebook usage drastically.

You signed up for this

Facebook’s security is top-notch, and it’s admirable that the company is fighting New York City prosecutors about handing over the account data of hundreds of city employees suspected of disability-time fraud. But security is not the same as privacy, and the privacy you have on Facebook is roughly equivalent to what you pay to use Facebook: zero.

This is what you signed up for. Your privacy is what you’ve traded in order to easily reconnect with old friends, keep in touch with faraway relatives, do research on potential hires or romantic partners, send party invitations, play Farmville or show baby pictures to everyone you know. You can do most of those things with separate services, but only Facebook ties them all together in one convenient place.

In order to keep adding and refining those super-convenient features, Facebook has to monetize its content, and its content is what you and Facebook’s 1.2 billion other users have contributed about yourselves. Facebook analyzes, anonymizes and aggregates that content and sells the resulting data profiles to advertisers, who are eager to fine-tune their ad buys to reach just the right people.

To be fair, Google does something similar, choosing the ads it presents on thousands of sites based on your Web-browsing and search history. But despite Google’s best efforts to get people to divulge personal information on Google Plus — aka Facebook for nerds — the vast majority of people prefer to use Facebook as their primary online social network.
How to reduce your Facebook usage

So what’s the alternative? Do you just stop using Facebook? That’s one possibility. Whenever I meet people who aren’t on Facebook, I congratulate them and suggest that they stay off it. (Most of those people never signed up for Facebook in the first place.)

If you already have a Facebook account, it’s fairly easy to deactivate, or suspend, it. Facebook even has a quick primer on how to do so.

Once an account’s been deactivated, Facebook says, the “Timeline and all information associated with it disappears from Facebook immediately” and the account won’t show up in other users’ search results. Holders of deactivated accounts will have to make sure they don’t accidentally log into their accounts from mobile devices or third-party sites, or else their accounts may be reactivated.

Deleting a Facebook account is more difficult. Facebook will want you to contact it directly, and company staffers may try to persuade you to deactivate your account instead.

A less extreme solution is to minimize your use of, and your dependence on, Facebook. Log out of the Facebook apps on your smartphone or tablet — they use up way too much data and processing power anyway. Log into the Facebook website once or twice a week to see if anyone’s died, married or been born, or if you’ve received an event invitation. Then log off immediately once you’re done. (Facebook will track your online habits if you stay logged in.)

If there’s any big news that you have to respond to, contact your friends via email or telephone instead of Facebook. Decentralize and disperse all the other services you once used Facebook for — get a Picasa account for family pictures, use Twitter for your political or pop-cultural musings, use email to keep in touch with far-off friends and relatives. Unlike Facebook, Twitter and some email services let you open accounts under a pseudonym.

Some of those alternative services may be collecting your data as well, but barring a corporate merger, they won’t be able to cross-correlate it with information you post elsewhere. You won’t be giving one provider all the pieces of your life.

If you’d rather not go through the trouble of ending or minimizing your Facebook use, then by all means go ahead and continue to use the service. It’s an excellent communication tool. But remember the old cliché: If you’re using a commercial service and you’re not paying for it, then you’re not the customer — you’re the product.

— source tomsguide.com

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Bill Binney, the ‘original’ NSA whistleblower, on Snowden, 9/11 and illegal surveillance

Bill Binney believes that 9/11 was preventable. A month after it happened, he resigned in protest from the US National Security Agency (NSA).

Binney was part of an elite NSA team which designed and built an intelligence-gathering system to target and collect data on terrorism threats.

He belongs to an intimate group of four whistleblowers, each of whom left the NSA after raising concerns about failures in the agency’s intelligence-gathering capabilities.

Binney’s track record is impeccable. He spent four years in the Army Security Agency during the Vietnam War before transferring to the NSA in 1970.

He rose to become technical director of World Geopolitical & Military Analysis at the Signals Intelligence Automation Research Center (SARC), a 6,000-strong research centre he co-founded at NSA’s headquarters in Maryland, US.

In a wide-ranging interview with Computer Weekly, Binney raises serious concerns over the NSA’s current surveillance programmes.

He alleges:

The NSA buried key intelligence that could have prevented 9/11;
The agency’s bulk data collection from internet and telephone communications is unconstitutional and illegal in the US;
The NSA is ineffective at preventing terrorism because analysts are too swamped with information under its bulk collection programme;
Electronic intelligence gathering is being used for covert law enforcement, political control and industrial espionage, both in and beyond the US;
Edward Snowden’s leaks could have been prevented.

Binney’s story

As Binney tells it, the NSA made significant breakthroughs in intelligence gathering in 1998, when its engineers worked out how to re-assemble diverse packets of data gathered from fibre optic cables.

The process, known as sessionising, could allow the NSA to reconstruct communication records from a trail of data passing through the cables.

Binney worked at SARC, together with fellow whistleblower Ed Loomis and a small team of specialists, to build technology to harvest data from fibre optic cables. The result was Thinthread, an in-house process “for collection and rapid analysis of billions of electronic records”.

SARC chief Loomis and Binney divided the workload between them. While Loomis focused on the front end, Binney concentrated on analysing and managing the data.

Targeting data

Binney was responsible for feeding targeting rules gleaned from the analysis back into the analytical tools. This self-refinement was key, allowing analysts to hone in on their targets, without the need for mass data collection.

“Once you analyse the data, you know what you want and you feed those rules back in to the front end that acquires data, and that then drives the acquisition of information,” he says.

Binney had planned to automate the feedback process, but the NSA cancelled the project before the work could be completed. “I never got to it, fortunately, so the NSA doesn’t have it now,” he says.
Metadata is key to NSA surveillance

Metadata was key to Thinthread then and key to the NSA now. By using this “data about data”, the NSA can tag and categorise communications, allowing analysts to see very quickly the communities that are interacting on the network as they do it.

Trying to correlate the raw data itself would have proved cumbersome. “But you do it from metadata,” says Binney, “you see the groupings and interactions and you can see how you could pull those groupings together and then pull the content out and see what their activity is.”
Protecting privacy

Crucially, Thinthread used automatic encryption to protect the identities of US citizens, a requirement of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and the Fourth Amendment of the US constitution.

The data could only have been decrypted if a judge found probable cause to believe the target was connected with serious crime, including terrorism.

Data belonging to non-US citizens was also protected, unless it could be shown they were relevant to the investigation underway, says Binney.

“For everybody who came in who was not in the zone of suspicion – or even those who were in the zone of suspicion, if they were Americans – we would certainly encrypt all the data till you could show that they were a part of that activity. If you could show that, then you would un-encrypt them and then target them,” he says.

“It was a very disciplined, legal, constitutionally acceptable process.”
The Bumblehive

Because the technology allowed targeted surveillance, it did not require the NSA to build vast repositories to store data.

That made the complete programme a lot cheaper than the NSA’s Utah Data Center – code-named Bumblehive – in Bluffdale.

The mammoth “mission data repository” has cost at least $1.5bn and was designed specifically to store digital data gleaned from the internet.

Its Cray XC30 supercomputer can handle workloads exceeding 100 petaflops and is expected to be the first facility that can acquire and store a yottabyte of data.

“You didn’t need all that storage,” Binney explains, “because you were focused on targets of interest and zones of suspicion around them, based on graphing techniques, social networking and other criteria.”
Thinthread cancelled

The Thinthread project, which required an estimated $300m in funding, was never taken up as promoted by its developers. After several years of work, Binney and Loomis were told of its cancellation three weeks before 9/11.

Instead, the NSA chose a programme run by contractors called Trailblazer. The agency spent billions, but never progressed beyond the prototype.

The project that ultimately took hold was Stellarwind, which Binney claims is “a bastardised version of Thinthread”.

“It was subverted, to get rid of the encryption, and the NSA decided to get rid of the filtering upfront. Instead of targeting, it went for everything.”
Analysts ‘swamped with data’

With Stellarwind and its successor projects, Binney argues that the NSA has turned a large proportion of the world’s population into data subjects. The upshot is a burgeoning mass of data that swamps the agency’s analysts.

“That’s the problem,” says Binney. “With this bulk acquisition of data on everybody, they’ve inundated their analysts with data. Unless they do a very focused attack, they’re buried in information, and that’s why they can’t succeed.”
9/11 intelligence missed

It later emerged that the NSA may have overlooked key intelligence that might have prevented the 9/11 terrorists attacks.

After Binney and Loomis’s departure, Thomas Drake, who worked for the NSA’s Defense Intelligence Senior Executive Service, tried to get authorisation for Thinthread to go operational.

He failed, but he did obtain funding to use Thinthread for a content evaluation of NSA databases.

The exercise revealed that the NSA had intelligence about Al Qaeda hijackers before and after 9/11 but had not shared it with the FBI or other government agencies. An early 2001 report on Al Qaeda’s movements had also been suppressed.

“Make no mistake. That data and the analytic report could have – should have – prevented 9/11. Top NSA management knew that. They knew that I knew that,” Drake later wrote in an open memorandum to President Obama.

The project was immediately shut down, Drake claims: “In spring 2002, the remnants of Thinthread were unceremoniously put on the shelf in NSA’s ‘Indiana Jones’ data warehouse, never to be seen again.”

NSA surveillance ‘is unconstitutional’

The NSA’s surveillance programme as it exists today, Binney insists, is unconstitutional in the US.

One area of concern is the NSA’s surveillance of US and foreign citizens, through a programme known as Fairview.

Whereas Prism targets data already processed by social media companies, Fairview taps data directly from the fibre optic telephone cables, with no filtering. “They put their devices on the line and take the entire line. Everything,” says Binney.

Fairview gives the NSA access to data from foreign telecoms companies via an unnamed US telecoms intermediary. The programme is also the main data acquisition system for inside America, says Binney.

Slides leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden showed about 80 to 100 fibre optic taps inside the continental US. Each would have cost tens of millions of dollars, if not hundreds, to build, says Binney.

“Most of them were not along the coast, which meant that they weren’t targeting the transoceanic cables where they come up and surface on the coast. They were targeting inside.”
Strangers on the line

The NSA’s line-tapping facility at an AT&T facility in San Francisco was exposed by an AT&T technician turned whistleblower, Mark Klein, back in 2007.

The NSA had transferred the fibre lines to a secret room where analysts could take the data right off the fibre line using equipment known as Narus devices, which were capable of reconstructing all the packet communications along the fibre lines at the rate of 10Gbps.

One device, Binney reckons, could manage over 100 billion 1,000-character emails, every day. “And they have 80 to 100 different sites, so multiply that up and you can get an idea of the magnitude of data that they can collect.”

Questions have been raised about the legality of the NSA’s surveillance operations overseas. But Binney doubts that the NSA ever considered the legal implications outside the US.

“They were [more] concerned about how to cover up their activity from Congress and the courts here in the US because we have laws against them doing this kind of activity.”
Over ‘two billion people affected by NSA surveillance’

Overall, Binney suspects that somewhere between two and three billion people are affected by NSA surveillance worldwide.

“This is not restricted to the internet dealing with computer-to-computer, peer-type communications. It is also dealing with the public switch telephone network. So it is getting everybody on both systems,” he says.
Bulk data collection ‘illegal’

The Fourth Amendment of the American Constitution upholds the right to privacy and the freedom from unwarranted intrusion for US citizens.

Binney claims the NSA’s surveillance activities are a clear violation of the Constitution.

The NSA’s officials are in violation of their oath of office, to protect and defend the Constitution, he says. “What they were doing here was an impeachable activity.”

Such unconstitutional behaviour is, ultimately, pointless, claim Binney and his fellow whistleblowers, who have written an open memorandum to the president.

In it, they cite the finding of Obama’s own Review Group on NSA efficacy: “Exactly zero terrorist plots have been prevented by NSA’s bulk trawling for telephone call records.”

Political blackmail

There are fears, for example, that data the NSA collects from the internet could be used to blackmail or compromise people who do not support the US government’s policies.

“This is J. Edgar Hoover on supersteroids, not just in the US but worldwide. So, yeah, they can do anything they want,” he says.

Binney suggests that NSA data is already being used as a tool of political interference. “They’ve been using it against the Tea Party, the Occupy groups, even religious organisations trying to get politically active.”

He says the NSA has specifically been working through the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). “That’s being used to stop organisations that want to become politically active, as well as socially active, from getting 501(c)(3) status – which means tax-exempt status over here.”
Contractor abuse

Contractors have access to NSA data, and may be less scrupulous about how they use that information than government employees.

“When they want to do industrial espionage, they have access to the information that could produce that kind of result,” says Binney.

In fact, documents released by Snowden show NSA had been spying on Brazilian oil company Petrobras, taking intelligence gathering far beyond its national security remit.

“The potential there is to be worldwide with this kind of activity,” says Binney.

NSA policies increase risk of hacking by foreign governments

He is concerned too that the NSA’s activities are exposing the US to foreign states’ electronic intelligence gathering.

He is highly critical of Bullrun, a programme that was designed – according to the NSA’s own leaked documents (see image left) – “to defeat the encryption used in specific network communication technologies”.

Binney believes this is finite thinking. “NSA’s not the only one smart enough to get through these things, find them and use them. Other governments can do it, other hackers can do it. So they are basically opening up the networks.”

Asked if he would ever consider going back to the NSA to pick up a Fourth Amendment-compliant version of the project if asked, Binney said no, although the data-targeting problem, he feels, is fixable.

“I would never do the automation for them because they can’t be trusted. I mean, what they’ve done so far, they’ve had no reservation in violating our constitution and the constitutional rights of every citizen in the US, let alone everybody around the world. You cannot trust any organisation that does that. You can’t.”
Snowden leaks could have been prevented

Ironically, under Thinthread, whistleblowing would have been much harder. Binney’s programme had proposed a system of internal NSA monitoring, but he claims it was opposed by analysts, who resented excessive supervision.

Management were also against it, as they did not want it known how they were spending money and shifting money around between programmes and what kind of return they were getting, says Binney.

“If it became known,” he says, “and Congress found out about it, they could cancel programmes that were not efficient and it would destroy empires that were being built internally in the NSA.”

Under Thinthread, Snowden’s mass downloads would have been impossible, he claims. “If we had that program running when he started downloading something, why, we’d have known it as soon as he started doing it.”

Patriot or traitor?

In the debate on Snowden as either patriot or traitor, Binney opts for the former: “I would put him as a patriot, yes. He is trying to stand up for the Constitution. That’s what we all did and our government attacked us for doing that. So, in my view, the government is the criminal here.”

While members of the public have thanked Binney in person for speaking out against what he saw as abuse of the Constitution, the NSA’s attitude to the whistleblowers was less welcoming.

“When we went into the private consulting business, every contract we ever got was cancelled by either the FBI or NSA,” claims Binney.

“They had us under threat of indictment, for a number of years,” he says. “We were basically untouchable as a commodity. They simply blackballed us in terms of employment totally.”

Binney suggests that current NSA technical developers – who might prefer a different way of collecting data – feel threatened and dare not challenge the status quo.

“Right now, internal security has a programme that’s like the Stasi, with people in the same business working with one another, watching each other and reporting back,” he says.
Public opinion in US shifting towards Snowden

Yet public opinion in America is shifting in favour of Snowden and away from the government. An opinion poll commissioned by Tresorit, a cloud storage service, showed that 55% “believed he did the right thing”. Of those, 80% felt he had exposed constitutional violations.

Last June, two representatives in Congress – a young libertarian Republican and a veteran civil rights Democrat – proposed bipartisan legislation to defund the NSA’s phone record collection programme. The bill failed by 217 votes to 205.

“And the reason they did it,” says Binney, “was they found they weren’t being told the truth by the intelligence committees inside Congress. So Congress is lying to [itself] about what’s going on.”
Worried about the future

Binney worries for the future. America, he believes, is turning away from democratic governance. “This is what happens in totalitarian states. They slowly evolve. We’re frogs in the water and they’re heating the water ever so slowly. Eventually, they’ll get us cooked, as they raise the level and we don’t jump out.

“As long as they do it slowly,” he insists, “we won’t jump out.”

William Binney – The man behind the leak

William Edward Binney was born and raised in central western Pennsylvania. With a degree in mathematics, he volunteered to join the US army in Europe in 1965 – working at the Army Security Agency in Germany, which held command of all US signal intelligence units in Europe.

Considered suitable for training as an analyst, Binney spent four years with the military before transferring to the NSA, the US electronic communications monitoring agency, achieving 37 years combined service in both. His work focused on data traffic analysis, data systems analysis and code-breaking.

In 1997, Binney became the technical director of World Geopolitical & Military Analysis at the Signals Intelligence Automation Research Center (SARC), a 6,000-strong operations unit which he co-founded.

He worked with a small team to develop Thinthread, a programme for the automated, targeted upstream acquisition of security data from fibre optic lines.

He retired from the NSA in October 2001, appalled by the agency’s failure to prevent 9/11.

He became part of an intimate group of four NSA whistleblowers. They included Ed Loomis and Kirk Wiebe, senior officials at SARC who worked alongside Binney, and Thomas Drake, who was part of the NSA’s Defense Intelligence Senior Executive Service. Between them they had chalked up 144 years experience in the NSA.

Binney’s home was raided by the FBI in 2007 at gunpoint, following public criticism of his former employer.

— source computerweekly.com

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People’s Climate March

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Hamas is a Creation of Mossad

Thanks to the Mossad, Israel’s “Institute for Intelligence and Special Tasks”, the Hamas was allowed to reinforce its presence in the occupied territories. Meanwhile, Arafat’s Fatah Movement for National Liberation as well as the Palestinian Left were subjected to the most brutal form of repression and intimidation

Let us not forget that it was Israel, which in fact created Hamas. According to Zeev Sternell, historian at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, “Israel thought that it was a smart ploy to push the Islamists against the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO)”.

Ahmed Yassin, the spiritual leader of the Islamist movement in Palestine, returning from Cairo in the seventies, established an Islamic charity association. Prime Minister Golda Meir, saw this as a an opportunity to counterbalance the rise of Arafat’s Fatah movement. .According to the Israeli weekly Koteret Rashit (October 1987), “The Islamic associations as well as the university had been supported and encouraged by the Israeli military authority” in charge of the (civilian) administration of the West Bank and Gaza. “They [the Islamic associations and the university] were authorized to receive money payments from abroad.”

The Islamists set up orphanages and health clinics, as well as a network of schools, workshops which created employment for women as well as system of financial aid to the poor. And in 1978, they created an “Islamic University” in Gaza. “The military authority was convinced that these activities would weaken both the PLO and the leftist organizations in Gaza.” At the end of 1992, there were six hundred mosques in Gaza. Thanks to Israel’s intelligence agency Mossad (Israel’s Institute for Intelligence and Special Tasks) , the Islamists were allowed to reinforce their presence in the occupied territories. Meanwhile, the members of Fatah (Movement for the National Liberation of Palestine) and the Palestinian Left were subjected to the most brutal form of repression.

In 1984, Ahmed Yassin was arrested and condemned to twelve years in prison, after the discovery of a hidden arms cache. But one year later, he was set free and resumed his activities. And when the Intifada (‘uprising’) began, in October 1987, which took the Islamists by surprise, Sheik Yassin responded by creating the Hamas (The Islamic Resistance Movement): “God is our beginning, the prophet our model, the Koran our constitution”, proclaims article 7 of the charter of the organization.

Ahmed Yassin was in prison when, the Oslo accords (Declaration of Principles on Interim Self-Government) were signed in September 1993. The Hamas had rejected Oslo outright. But at that time, 70% of Palestinians had condemned the attacks on Israeli civilians. Yassin did everything in his power to undermine the Oslo accords. Even prior to Prime Minister Rabin’s death, he had the support of the Israeli government. The latter was very reluctant to implement the peace agreement.

The Hamas then launched a carefully timed campaign of attacks against civilians, one day before the meeting between Palestinian and Israeli negotiators, regarding the formal recognition of Israel by the National Palestinian Council. These events were largely instrumental in the formation of a Right wing Israeli government following the May 1996 elections.

Quite unexpectedly, Prime Minister Netanyahu ordered Sheik Ahmed Yassin to be released from prison (“on humanitarian grounds”) where he was serving a life sentence. Meanwhile, Netanyahu, together with President Bill Clinton, was putting pressure on Arafat to control the Hamas. In fact, Netanyahu knew that he could rely, once more, on the Islamists to sabotage the Oslo accords. Worse still: after having expelled Yassin to Jordan, Prime Minister Netanyahu allowed him to return to Gaza, where he was welcomed triumphantly as a hero in October 1997.

Arafat was helpless in the face of these events. Moreover, because he had supported Saddam Hussein during the1991 Gulf war, (while the Hamas had cautiously abstained from taking sides), the Gulf states decided to cut off their financing of the Palestinian Authority. Meanwhile, between February and April 1998, Sheik Ahmad Yassin was able to raise several hundred million dollars, from those same countries. The budget of The Hamas was said to be greater than that of the Palestinian Authority. These new sources of funding enabled the Islamists to effectively pursue their various charitable activities. It is estimated that one Palestinian out of three is the recipient of financial aid from the Hamas. And in this regard, Israel has done nothing to curb the inflow of money into the occupied territories.

The Hamas had built its strength through its various acts of sabotage of the peace process, in a way which was compatible with the interests of the Israeli government. In turn, the latter sought in a number of ways, to prevent the application of the Oslo accords. In other words, Hamas was fulfilling the functions for which it was originally created: to prevent the creation of a Palestinian State. And in this regard, Hamas and Ariel Sharon, see eye to eye; they are exactly on the same wave length.

— source globalresearch.ca

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What Facebook is looking?

Facebook users and privacy advocates erupted in anger recently after New Scientist drew attention to a 2012 study in which Facebook researchers had attempted to manipulate users’ moods. “The company purposefully messed with people’s minds,” one privacy group complained to the Federal Trade Commission.

But the mood study is far from the only example of Facebook scrutinizing its users—the company has been doing that for years, examining users’ ethnicities, political views, romantic partners, and even how they talk to their children. (Unlike the mood study, the Facebook studies listed below are observational; they don’t attempt to change users’ behavior.) Although it’s unlikely Facebook users have heard about most of these studies, they’ve consented to them; the social network’s Data Use Policy states: “We may use the information we receive about you…for internal operations, including troubleshooting, data analysis, testing, research and service improvement.”

Below are five things Facebook researchers have been studying about Facebook users in recent years. (Note that in each of these studies, data was analyzed in aggregate and steps were taken to hide personally identifiable information.)

1. Your significant others (and whether the relationship will last): In October 2013, Facebook published a study in which researchers tried to guess who users were in a relationship with by looking at the users’ Facebook friends. For the study, Facebook researchers randomly chose 1.3 million users who had between 50 and 2,000 friends, were older than 20, and described themselves as married, engaged, or in a relationship. To guess whom these users were dating, the researchers analyzed which of the users’ friends knew each other—and which ones didn’t. You might share a ton of college friends with your old college roommate on Facebook, for example. But your boyfriend might be Facebook friends with your college friends, your coworkers, and your mom—people who definitely don’t know each other. Hence, he’s special.

Using this method, researchers were able to determine a person’s romantic partner with “high accuracy”—they were able to guess married users’ spouses 60 percent of the time by just looking at users’ friend networks. The researchers also looked at a subset of same-sex couples, to see whether that changed the results. (It didn’t.)

Facebook then decided to see whether it could use this method to predict whether a relationship is likely to last. For this part of the experiment, researchers looked at about 400,000 users who said that they were “in a relationship” and watched to see whether those users said they were single 60 days later. The researchers concluded that relationships in which Facebook’s model correctly identified the partner were less likely to break up, noting that the results were especially accurate when the two people had been together less than a year. (So basically, if you’re only introducing your boyfriend to your friends, and not your mom, your relationship might be less likely to last.)

2. How your mom talks to you: For this study, Facebook looked at how parents and their kids talk to each other Facebook. (Fun fact: On average, parent-child pairs wait 371 days after joining Facebook before becoming “friends.” Tell your little sister to stop ignoring your mom’s friend request.) The researchers examined three months of communication data pulled from September 2012. This data included comments, posts, and links shared on other users’ timelines, but not chat messages. According to the researchers, that wasn’t a privacy decision—chats are simply “too short and noisy for substantive language analysis.” Here are some of the top phrases that researchers noticed parents using in messages to their young children:

And here’s what parents are writing to their adult children, after they’ve developed filthy minds and drinking problems:

Facebook also noted that “what parents say when they’re not talking to their children is just as revealing; they use higher levels of ideology (agree but, obama, our government, policies, people need to, ethics), swearing and slang (ctfu, lmao, fucker, idk), and alcohol and sex terms (tequila, glass of wine, that ass, sexy). Ew.

3. Your ethnicity: In this older study, from 2010, researchers wrote that “the ethnicity of a user base is an important demographic indicator that can be used for marketing, compliance, and analytics as well as a scientific tool for understanding social behavior,” but lamented that “unfortunately, ethnic information is often unavailable for practical, legal, or political reasons.” So researchers came up with a solution: They determined the ethnic breakdown of US Facebook users by using people’s names and data provided by the Census. Tested on Facebook, the researchers’ proposed model “learned” that Latoya is more likely to be a black name and Barb is more likely to be white name. “Using both first and last names further improves estimates, largely by making better distinctions between White and Black,” the researchers wrote.

Once researchers had that data set, they started doing other studies. For example, the researchers examined pairs of people in romantic relationships on Facebook, as broken down by ethnicity. They also noted that their research suggested that “individuals’ ethnicity can be predicted through their social ties” and tried to predict users’ ethnicity based on the average ethnicity of their friends. (You should definitely not play this game at your next dinner party.) The researchers also compared users’ self-identified political views with their ethnicities, noting that “whites are more frequent in the Libertarian, Conservative, and Very Conservative categories.” The researchers did note that their research method comes with a caveat, “While ethnicity is an important factor in understanding user behavior, it is often only a proxy for other variables, such as socioeconomic status, or education. A complete analysis should control for all such factors.”

4. How you respond to conspiracy theories: In the spring of 2014, Facebook published a study on how rumors spread on the social network. The researchers looked at rumors identified by the rumor-debunking website Snopes.com that fall into a number of different categories, including politics, medicine, horror, “glurge” (i.e., sentimental stories that usually aren’t true), and 9/11. Then, the researchers found rumors posted on Facebook as photos, and gathered 249,035 comments in which people commented on the rumor with a valid link to Snopes. Ultimately, the researchers found reshared posts that received a comment that linked to Snopes were more likely to be deleted. So, feel free to keep telling your friends that the Russian sleep experiment story is BS.

5. If you’re deleting posts before you publish them: For this 2013 study, Facebook looked at how often users start typing a post or comment, and then at the last minute, decide not to publish it, which they called “self-censorship.” The researchers collected data from 3.9 million users over 17 days. They noted when someone started typing more than five characters in status update or comment box. The researchers recorded only whether text was entered, not the keystrokes or content. (This is the same way Gmail automatically saves drafts of your email, except that Facebook logs the presence of text, not actual content.) If the user didn’t share the post within 10 minutes, it was marked as self-censored. Researchers found that 71 percent of all users censored content at least once. The researchers also noted that women were less likely to self-censor, as were people with a more politically diverse set of friends.

— source motherjones.com

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Amazon Is the Scariest Part of The CIA’s New Amazon​ Cloud Storage

by Matthew Phelan

Megalomaniacal internet retailer Amazon began as an online seller of books—as CEO Jeff Bezos once explained—because it allowed the company to gather data on affluent, educated shoppers. Their latest customer is the entire intelligence apparatus of your democracy. Checkmate!

News of this $600 million contract with the CIA broke over a year ago, burbling ominously to the surface last August, when Bezos just up and decided he’d buy the Washington Post for a bargain bin $250 million. (At a net worth of $32.8 billion—placing him not simply in the .01 percent, but in the nation’s coveted 1.0e-5 percent—this purchase was all so much gas station Snickers® to Jeff Bezos.)

But this summer, the Airborne Toxic Event arrives. The CIA’s private Amazon Web Services cloud—a dark, humming conflict of interest, brand new to American journalism, and shielded from the public behind a wall of national security—becomes operational.

The fact that the cloud’s $600 million budget will be parceled out from the CIA kitty over the next ten years, in some ways, confuses the issue. All 17 agencies that comprise the U.S. intelligence community will be making use of Amazon’s cloud, including, selected at random, the NSA, the DEA, the Department of the Treasury, the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency, and Coast Guard Intelligence—which you’d think you would have heard of by now. Like: there should definitely already be a CBS procedural or at least a USA Network original series about Coast Guard intelligence agents, given how much old people love boats and mysteries.

This may come as a shock, but with an annual revenue of $74.5 billion in 2013, Amazon actually dwarfs the CIA whose fiscal year 2013 budget (as disclosed by Edward Snowden) was a mere $14.7 billion. Amazon was larger that year than the entire government budget for non-military intelligence by more than $20 billion. It is far-and-away the more powerful actor in this deal: the very reason that the CIA contracted them in the first place, to “buy innovation” in the words of Atlantic Media’s execrable online magazine Government Executive and “catch up to the commercial cycle.”

Jeff Bezos, who originally wanted to call his company relentless.com, lords over Amazon with “ice water running through his veins”according to Bloomberg Businessweek reporter Brad Stone. “He’s ruthless. He identifies competitors and he can crush them”—always managing to lead with his famously insane, bellowing laugh, (compiled brilliantly by BBC Two in the montage at left). Arguably, the CIA’s ten-year partnership with Amazon will turn out to be the most Faustian bargain the agency has made since Allen Dulles brought in Reinhard Gehlen’s network of Nazi spies after WWII.

When Amazon decided to initiate a program of exerting pressure on vulnerable book publishers for better shipping terms and higher promotional fees, it was known internally as the Gazelle Project after Bezos decreed “that Amazon should approach these small publishers the way a cheetah would pursue a sickly gazelle.” As Amazon’s in-house book critics and literary bloggers were forced to compete for their very survival against the algorithms of a new “personalization team”, their rivals posted a sign that simply read “PEOPLE FORGET THAT JOHN HENRY DIED IN THE END.”

In Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania, the conditions at one of Amazon’s main warehouses and distribution hubs was so bad in the scorching summer heat of 2011 that the company hired Cetronia Ambulance Corps to have ambulances and paramedics on stand-by. An emergency room doctor at Lehigh Valley Hospital-Cedar Crest reported Amazon to the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) after having had enough of treating their employees for heat-related injuries. Air conditioning did not arrive at the warehouse until it also started to store and ship groceries.

And beside these known inhumanities lays an unmapped territory shrouded in corporate secrecy. Amazon is infamous for routinely showing publishers, shareholders and clients numberless charts and graphs and refusing to disclose even basic things like their employment numbers or Kindle sales figures. The floor in their Seattle headquarters devoted to the Kindle is known as Area 51, because it is forbidden to anyone not working on the project. They’ve hired former NSA employees and have been accused of rerouting shipments to aid the agency’s surveillance programs.

An outgrowth of this rapaciousness and secrecy for Amazon has been historically a business strategy of forward-thinking ulterior motives, nested like Russian dolls. Publishers begrudgingly accepted when Amazon wanted to scan their titles for its new “Search Inside This Book” feature only to discover later the lengthy head start they had given the company, once it began moving into e-readers and digital publishing.

There’s almost assuredly a long view with Amazon’s CIA data center, too terrible to contemplate, ideas pinging around, brainstorming sessions on how best to leverage a dense mass of black op debriefs and decrypting moments of human intimacy; whole communities reduced to metadata-hyperlinked dossiers; transcripts of interrogations that decent people would call torture; dark truths and useless junk all hanging shapeless in a steady breeze of electrons behind Langley’s firewall. (It will certainly be an advantage in Amazon’s Cloud Waragainst Google.)

To imagine Amazon’s dark black breathing machine communicating regularly with the NSA’s yottabyte data center outside Bluffdale, extracting and calcifying this vast containment facility of our past lives, is to cry out in anguish over a grim new understanding of what it truly means to be governed.

It is hard to state the urgency of this problem. There will be no Upworthy headline too hyperbolic. Like climate change, the anxieties it produces are not of the kind provided for by instinct.

Martial law and internment camps are not the inherent dangers here. This control will penetrate, seep, reveal itself in the birthing of twee youth movements no more radical than lemonade stands; cultural critics addressing only the pettiest grievances of consumer choice; a, fluid, oppressive, and soul-worrying continuity between high school, state, and federal elections. Cheesy crap, basically. A national conversation that forever tastes like a Whopper Jr. exiting your mouth.

Remember that this is the company that paid the author of The 4-Hour Workweek to write a cookbook; a company founded by a man who once said that Simon & Garfunkel’s “America” was his favorite Beatles song.

An example should be made of Amazon like no American company since the corporate trusts of the Gilded Age. It should be hounded tirelessly for any and every legal infraction that it is surely committing. With the healthy funding and broad latitude of Elliot Ness and the Untouchables, the IRS, OSHA, the FTC, the SEC, every relevant government body, should descend on Amazon’s offices, labs and “fulfillment centers” like they were Prohibition-era speakeasies, interrogating employees and handcuffing managers.

— source occupy.com

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