Sunday, March 15, 2015

PNN - The idesof March



PNN 3/15/15
IDES OF MARCH

7:17pm - Steve & Louie CWA  34min 
7:52pm - Kim Ross 14min
8:07pm - Matthew Schwartz  32min
8:40pm - Anita Stewart  10min
8:51pm - Frank Day  9min

He promises to resign - if they are conducting total Surveillance

In August 2013, as evidence emerged of the active participation by New Zealand in the “Five Eyes” mass surveillance program exposed by Edward Snowden, the country’s conservative Prime Minister, John Key, vehemently denied that his government engages in such spying. He went beyond mere denials, expressly vowing to resign if it were ever proven that his government engages in mass surveillance of New Zealanders. He issued that denial, and the accompanying resignation vow, in order to reassure the country over fears provoked by a new bill he advocated to increase the surveillance powers of that country’s spying agency, Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) — a bill that passed by one votethanks to the Prime Minister’s guarantees that the new law would not permit mass surveillance.

He later rescinds his vow to resign (maybe not)

Since then, a mountain of evidence has been presented that indisputably proves that New Zealand does exactly that which Prime Minister Key vehemently denied — exactly that which he said he would resign if it were proven was done. Last September, we reported on a secret program of mass surveillance at least partially implemented by the Key government that was designed to exploit the very law that Key was publicly insisting did not permit mass surveillance. At the time, Snowden, citing that report as well as his own personal knowledge of GCSB’s participation in the mass surveillance tool XKEYSCORE, wrote in an article for The Intercept:
Let me be clear: any statement that mass surveillance is not performed in New Zealand, or that the internet communications are not comprehensively intercepted and monitored, or that this is not intentionally and actively abetted by the GCSB, is categorically false. . . . The prime minister’s claim to the public, that “there is no and there never has been any mass surveillance” is false. The GCSB, whose operations he is responsible for, is directly involved in the untargeted, bulk interception and algorithmic analysis of private communications sent via internet, satellite, radio, and phone networks.
A series of new reports last week by New Zealand journalist Nicky Hager, working with my Intercept colleague Ryan Gallagher, has added substantial proof demonstrating GCSB’s widespread use of mass surveillance. An article last week in The New Zealand Herald demonstrated that “New Zealand’s electronic surveillance agency, the GCSB, has dramatically expanded its spying operations during the years of John Key’s National Government and is automatically funnelling vast amounts of intelligence to the US National Security Agency.” Specifically, its “intelligence base at Waihopai has moved to ‘full-take collection,’ indiscriminately intercepting Asia-Pacific communications and providing them en masse to the NSA through the controversial NSA intelligence system XKeyscore, which is used to monitor emails and internet browsing habits.”
Moreover, the documents “reveal that most of the targets are not security threats to New Zealand, as has been suggested by the Government,” but “instead, the GCSB directs its spying against a surprising array of New Zealand’s friends, trading partners and close Pacific neighbours.” A second report late last week published jointly by Hager and The Intercept detailed the role played by GCSB’s Waihopai base in aiding NSA’s mass surveillance activities in the Pacific (as Hager was working with The Intercept on these stories, his house was raided by New Zealand police for 10 hours, ostensibly to find Hager’s source for a story he published that was politically damaging to Key).
That the New Zealand government engages in precisely the mass surveillance activities Key vehemently denied is now barely in dispute. Indeed, a former director of GCSB under Key, Sir Bruce Ferguson, while denying any abuse of New Zealander’s communications, now admits that the agency engages in mass surveillance.

LISTEN

3. Turkey Trot
After years of U.S. political investment in the Turkish partnership, the two nations’ differences have become impossible to ignore. Close cooperation with the United States has helped bolster Erdo─čan in his roles as prime minister and president, but the United States has not gotten much in return. The Turkish government seems determined to crack down on dissent. It has signed energy and defense accords with Russia and China that undermine NATO positions, and it routinely bargains with the United States over what should be basic transactions between allies in the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham, or ISIS. Additionally, the ruling Justice and Development Party, or AKP, leadership has repeatedly resorted to rhetorical attacks on the United States, the European Union, and Israel, which only increase latent anti-Americanism in Turkish society.

4.Venezuela

Posted: 14 Mar 2015 03:00 PM PDT

Glenn Greenwald does an excellent analysis of President Obama’s declaration, to bring punitive sanctions, that Venezuela is a grave threat to US security interests.
From the Intercept:
The White House on Monday announced the imposition of new sanctions on various Venezuelan officials, pronouncing itself “deeply concerned by the Venezuelan government’s efforts to escalate intimidation of its political opponents”: deeply concerned. President Obama also, reportedly with a straight face, officially declared that Venezuela poses “an extraordinary threat to the national security” of the U.S. — a declaration necessary to legally justify the sanctions.
Today, one of the Obama administration’s closest allies on the planet, Saudi Arabia, sentenced one of that country’s few independent human rights activists, Mohammed al-Bajad, to 10 years in prison on “terrorism” charges. That is completely consistent with that regime’s systematic and extreme repression, which includes gruesome state beheadings at a record-setting rate, floggings and long prison termsfor anti-regime bloggers,executions of those with minority religious views, and exploitation of terror laws to imprison even the mildest regime critics.
Absolutely nobody expects the “deeply concerned” President Obama to impose sanctions on the Saudis — nor on any of the other loyal U.S. allies from Egypt to the UAE whose repression is far worse than Venezuela’s. Perhaps those who actually believe U.S. proclamations about imposing sanctions on Venezuela in objection to suppression of political opposition might spend some time thinking about what accounts for that disparity.”
and further:
“As for Obama’s decree that Venezuela now poses an “extraordinary threat to the national security” of the United States, is there anyone, anywhere, that wants to defend the reasonability of that claim? Think about what it says about our discourse that Obama officials know they can issue such insultingly false tripe with no consequences.
But what’s not too obvious to point out is what the U.S is actually doing in Venezuela. It’s truly remarkable how the very same people who demand U.S. actions against the democratically elected government in Caracas are the ones who most aggressively mock Venezuelan leaders when they point out that the U.S. is working to undermine their government.
The worst media offender in this regard is The New York Times, whichexplicitly celebrated the 2002U.S.-supported coup of Hugo Chavez as a victory for democracy, but which now regularly derides the notion that the U.S. would ever do something as untoward as undermine the Venezuelan government. Watch this short video from Monday where the always-excellent Matt Lee of Associated Press questions a State Department spokesperson this week after she said it was “ludicrous” to think that the U.S. would ever do such a thing:

full article at The Intercept.

(Intercept)

The White House on Monday announced the imposition of new sanctions on various Venezuelan officials, pronouncing itself “deeply concerned by the Venezuelan government’s efforts to escalate intimidation of its political opponents”: deeply concerned. President Obama also, reportedly with a straight face, officially declared that Venezuela poses “an extraordinary threat to the national security” of the U.S. — a declaration necessary to legally justify the sanctions.
Today, one of the Obama administration’s closest allies on the planet, Saudi Arabia, sentenced one of that country’s few independent human rights activists, Mohammed al-Bajad, to 10 years in prison on “terrorism” charges. That is completely consistent with that regime’s systematic and extreme repression, which includes gruesome state beheadings at a record-setting rate, floggings and long prison terms for anti-regime bloggers,executions of those with minority religious views, and exploitation of terror laws to imprison even the mildest regime critics.
Absolutely nobody expects the “deeply concerned” President Obama to impose sanctions on the Saudis — nor on any of the other loyal U.S. allies from Egypt to the UAE whose repression is far worse than Venezuela’s. Perhaps those who actually believe U.S. proclamations about imposing sanctions on Venezuela in objection to suppression of political opposition might spend some time thinking about what accounts for that disparity.
That nothing is more insincere than purported U.S. concerns over political repression is too self-evident to debate. Supporting the most repressive regimes on the planet in order to suppress and control their populations is and long has been a staple of U.S. (and British) foreign policy. “Human rights” is the weapon invoked by the U.S. Government and its loyal media to cynically demonize regimes that refuse to follow U.S. dictates, while far worse tyranny is steadfastly overlooked, or expressly cheered, when undertaken by compliant regimes, such as those in Riyadh and Cairo (seethis USA Today article, one of many, recently hailing the Saudis as one of the “moderate” countries in the region). This is exactly the tactic that leads neocons to feign concern for Afghan women or the plight of Iranian gays when doing so helps to gin up war-rage against those regimes, while they snuggle up to far worse but far more compliant regimes.
Any rational person who watched the entire top echelon of the U.S. government drop what they were doing to make a pilgrimage to Riyadh to pay homage to the Saudi monarchs (Obama cut short a state visit to India to do so), or who watches the mountain of arms and money flow to the regime in Cairo, would do nothing other than cackle when hearing U.S. officials announce that they are imposing sanctions to punish repression of political opposition. And indeed, that’s what most of the world outside of the U.S. and Europe do when they hear such claims. But from the perspective of U.S. officials, that’s fine, because such pretenses to noble intentions are primarily intended for domestic consumption.
As for Obama’s decree that Venezuela now poses an “extraordinary threat to the national security” of the United States, is there anyone, anywhere, that wants to defend the reasonability of that claim? Think about what it says about our discourse that Obama officials know they can issue such insultingly false tripe with no consequences.
But what’s not too obvious to point out is what the U.S is actually doing in Venezuela. It’s truly remarkable how the very same people who demand U.S. actions against the democratically elected government in Caracas are the ones who most aggressively mock Venezuelan leaders when they point out that the U.S. is working to undermine their government.
The worst media offender in this regard is The New York Times, whichexplicitly celebrated the 2002 U.S.-supported coup of Hugo Chavez as a victory for democracy, but which now regularly derides the notion that the U.S. would ever do something as untoward as undermine the Venezuelan government. Watch this short video from Monday where the always-excellent Matt Lee of Associated Press questions a State Department spokesperson this week after she said it was “ludicrous” to think that the U.S. would ever do such a thing:


LISTEN

6.The Orwellian Re-Branding of "Mass Surveillance" as Merely "Bulk Collection"
By Glenn Greenwald, The Intercept
15 March 15

ust as the Bush administration and the U.S. media re-labelled “torture” with the Orwellian euphemism “enhanced interrogation techniques” to make it more palatable, the governments and media of the Five Eyes surveillance alliance are now attempting to re-brand “mass surveillance” as “bulk collection” in order to make it less menacing (and less illegal). In the past several weeks, this is the clearly coordinated theme that has arisen in the U.S., U.K., Canada, Australia and New Zealand as the last defense against the Snowden revelations, as those governments seek to further enhance their surveillance and detention powers under the guise of terrorism.
This manipulative language distortion can be seen perfectly in yesterday’s white-washing report of GCHQ mass surveillance from the servile rubber-stamp calling itself “The Intelligence and Security Committee of the UK Parliament (ISC)”(see this great Guardian editorial this morning on what a “slumbering” joke that “oversight” body is). As Committee Member MP Hazel Blears explained yesterday (photo above), the Parliamentary Committee officially invoked this euphemism to justify the collection ofbillions of electronic communications events every day.
The Committee actually acknowledged for the first time (which Snowden documents long ago proved) that GCHQ maintains what it calls “Bulk Personal Datasets” that contain “millions of records,” and even said about pro-privacy witnesses who testified before it: “we recognise their concerns as to the intrusive nature of bulk collection.” That is the very definition of “mass surveillance,” yet the Committee simply re-labelled it “bulk collection,” purported to distinguish it from “mass surveillance,” and thus insist that it was all perfectly legal.
One of the many facts that made the re-defining of “torture” so corrupt and indisputably invalid was that there was long-standing law making clear that exactly these interrogation techniques used by the U.S. government were torture and thus illegal. The same is true of this obscene attempt to re-define “mass surveillance” as nothing more than mere innocent “bulk collection.”
As Caspar Bowden points out, EU law is crystal clear that exactly what these agencies are doing constitutes illegal mass surveillance. From the 2000 decision of the European Court of Human Rights inAmann v. Switzerland, which found a violation of the right to privacy guaranteed by Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights and rejected the defense from the government that no privacy violation occurs if the data is not reviewed or exploited:
The Court reiterates that the storing of data relating to the “private life” of an individual falls within the application of Article 8 § 1 . . . . The Court reiterates that the storing by a public authority of information relating to an individual’s private life amounts to an interference within the meaning of Article 8. The subsequent use of the stored information has no bearing on that finding (emphasis added).
A separate 2000 ruling found a violation of privacy rights even when the government is merely storing records regarding one’s activities undertaken in public (such as attending demonstrations), because “public information can fall within the scope of private life where it is systematically collected and stored in files held by the authorities.”
That’s why an EU Parliamentary Inquiry into the Snowden revelations condemned NSA and GCHQ spying in the “strongest possible terms,” pointing out that it was classic “mass surveillance” and thus illegal. That’s the same rationale that led a U.S. federal court to conclude that mass metatdata collection was very likely an unconstitutional violation of the privacy rights in the Fourth Amendment.
By itself, common sense should prevent any of these governments from claiming that sweeping up, storing and analyzing much of the Internet — literally examining billions of communications activities every week of entire populations — is something other than “mass surveillance.” Yet this has now become the coordinated defense from the governments in the U.S., the U.K., Canada, New Zealand and Australia. It’s nothing short of astonishing to watch them try to get away with this kind of propagnadistic sophistry. (In the wake of our reports with journalist Nicky Hager on GCSB, watch the leader of New Zealand’s Green Party interrogate the country’s flailing Prime Minister this week in Parliament about this completely artificial distinction.)
But — just as it was stunning to watch media outlets refuse to use the term “torture” because the U.S. government demanded that it be called something else — this Orwellian switch in surveillance language is now predictably (and mindlessly) being adopted by those nations’ most state-loyal media outlets.
Last night, I was on the BBC program Newsnight to discuss the new report. As usual, they decided to interview me first, and then interview a security services official after me, so that I could not respond to what the official said. In this case, the interviewee after me was former GCHQ director David Omand (last seen refusing to answer a difficult question about surveillance from the U.K.’s often-excellent Channel 4 by literally walking away from the interview, insisting he had to catch a train).
The somewhat contentious BBC interview from last night is worth watching, in part because Omand literally demands that there be no more surveillance disclosures or debate because The Committee Has Spoken (also a clearly coordinated message). But it’s worthwhile even more so because this interview illustrates the “bulk collection” language fraud that is now being perpetrated with the eager help of the largest media outlets in these countries:
SWEDEN WILL INTERVIEW HIM in London at the EMBASSY

Julian Assange has taken refuge in Ecuador’s embassy in London to avoid extradition from Sweden. Photograph: WPA Pool/Getty Images
Lawyers for Julian Assange have claimed victory after a Swedish prosecutor bowed to pressure from the courts and agreed to break the deadlock in the WikiLeaks founder’s case by interviewing him in London.
Marianne Ny, who heads the investigation into accusations of rape, coercion and sexual molestation against Assange, made a formal request to interrogate him in the Ecuadorian embassy – the first sign of movement in a case that has been frozen since August 2012.
The prosecutor will also ask the UK government and Ecuador for permission to carry out the interviews at the embassy in London, where Assange has been staying for more than two-and-a-half years to avoid extradition to Sweden, from where he fears being handed over to the US to face espionage charges.
Ny said she had changed her mind because the statute of limitations on several of the crimes of which Assange is suspected runs out in August 2015.
“My attitude has been that the forms for a hearing with him at the embassy in London are such that the quality of the interrogation would be inadequate and that he needs to be present in Sweden at a trial. That assessment remains,” Ny said in a statement.
“Now time is running out and I therefore believe that I have to accept a loss of quality in the investigation and take the risk that the hearing will not take the investigation forward, because no other option is available as long as Assange does not make himself available in Sweden,” she said.
Per Samuelson, a Stockholm lawyer for Assange, said: “It is a victory for us. We have been asking for this to happen for over four years. That is the route to acquittal.”
There were minor details to be discussed between Assange and the prosecutor over how the interrogations will be conducted, Samuelson said, “but there are no major questions as I see it”. Assange welcomed the development but was irritated it had taken so long, Samuelson said. They are due to meet in London on Saturday.
The British Foreign Office said in November it would welcome a request by the Swedish prosecutor to question Assange inside the Ecuadorian embassy. Ecuador’s government has also repeatedly stated that it approves of such a step. Assange has been wanted in Sweden since the accusations were made against him in August 2010.
His lawyers, who are currently appealing against his arrest warrant in Sweden’s highest court, have complained bitterly about the prosecutor’s refusal to travel to London to speak to him – an essential step under Swedish jurisprudence to establish whether Assange can be formally charged.
The prosecutor’s refusal, they say, has condemned Assange to “severe limitations” on his freedom that are “disproportionate” to the accusations against him.
Ny has objected that interrogating Assange abroad would be complicated and largely pointless because – should sufficient grounds emerge – he would still have to travel to Sweden for trial. However, she is obliged to drop the case against him unless she believes there are reasonable grounds for suspicion of his guilt.
The prosecutor’s apparent U-turn on Friday came just days after a supreme court judge in Stockholm wrote to the prosecutor general, directing him to give his opinion concerning Assange’s appeal, “especially regarding the investigatory procedure and the principle of proportionality”.
Further pressure on the prosecutor came in November when the appeal court, while rejecting Assange’s arguments, nonetheless directed sharp criticism at Ny for failing in her obligation to move the case forward.
Swedish legal opinion at a senior level has swung against the prosecutor’s position. Anne Ramberg, the head of Sweden’s Bar Association, welcomed the decision to go to London, but added: “It should have been taken long before.”
Karin Rosander, Ny’s spokeswoman, said the decision to go to London was entirely her own. She said: “Swedish prosecutors are independent in their decision-making and nobody, not even the prosecutor general, can order a prosecutor what steps to take.”
Elisabeth Massi Fritz, a lawyer for one of the women in the case, said she had changed her mind on questioning Assange in London, and her client had also requested the move. “If Swedish investigators and prosecutors are present when Assange is interviewed, then it will be a good interrogation of high quality,” she said.
Last year, Fritz dismissed as “empty and ill-informed speculation” calls by Swedish politicians and top legal figures to go to London.
Questioning the prosecutor’s reluctance to travel to London, several Swedish legal figures have pointed to the occasion in 2012 when the entire Stockholm district court moved to Kigali for several weeks to interview witnesses to the Rwandan genocide, with more witnesses heard in Stockholm by video link from Kigali.
The proposed interviews in London will be conducted by the deputy prosecutor in the case, Ingrid Isgren, and a police investigator. The statute of limitations on the rape accusations against Assange expires in August 2020.
Sweden’s supreme court is due to rule on the case later this month or next.
The prosecutor’s change of heart was “demonstrably cynical” in waiting until shortly before the statute of limitations expired to keep Assange “trapped in the UK”, said journalist John Pilger for the Julian Assange Legal Defence Fund.
Ecuador’s foreign ministry said in a statement: “We welcome the decision of the Swedish authorities to finally interview Julian Assange in our London embassy. The government of Ecuador has repeatedly made this offer since 2012, when it granted asylum to Mr Assange.
“This decision could have been taken from the beginning, and not only when the case is about to be subject to statute of limitation. It is a great injustice that Mr Assange, due to the prosecutors’ failure to fulfil their duty, has been deprived of freedom without charge in the United Kingdom, and confined in our embassy for almost 1,000 days. This amounts to a violation of his human rights, at great personal cost to him and his family.


NOTE JUST WHAT YOU DO WHEN YOUR ON YOUR PHONE
BUT ESPECIALLY IF YOU TURN YOUR PHONE OFF
AYONE AROUND TURN THEIRS OFF TOO?

THESE GET SPECIAL ATTENTION


Activists for a Better World are Welcome at the March 14, 2015, 4 p.m.

ACTIVISTS ADVISORY AND WORKING COMMITTEE MEETING
                                              for the
SEEGERS' COMMEMORATIVE CONCERT, Sunday, April 19, afternoon,

Both at UUCFL, 3970 NW 21st AVENUE, OAKLAND PARK, 33309

CONCERT OBJECTIVES: To Commemorate the Lives and Contributions of Pete and Toshi Seeger, to Promote Continued Contributions Toward a Better World, and to Provide a Joyous Social Occasion for our South Florida Community.

MARCH 14 MEETING OBJECTIVES:

-- For Activists to get to Know Each Other Better and Network for Greater Effectiveness

-- To Promote Especially the Seegers' Lifelong Ingenious and Brave Social Activism

-- To Recruit Workers for the Event - see below

-- To Provide Advice, particularly to Make the Event More Inclusive

-- Eat and Drink

Whether or not you can join us on March 14, please consider if you can take on any of the following Heaviest Lifting Roles:

1.  LEAD PUBLICIST – in charge of the general media release. (Bob will help)

2.  LEAD PROMOTER – to groups, at events, securing and disseminating handouts, posters, etc.

3. POINT PERSON ON SCHOLARSHIPS – to work with Producer Susan Moss to determine eligibility and award scholarships for those who can't afford a $20 ticket.

IF YOU MIGHT ACCEPT ANY OF THESE RESPONSIBILITIES, PLEASE GET BACK TO ME ASAP.

There are numerous needs for lesser-demanding volunteer roles, including assisting on the three areas above, and those who might so volunteer are urged also to so inform me.

IF YOU MIGHT BE WITH US ON MARCH 14 BUT HAVE NOT YET MADE THAT KNOWN TO US, PLEASE DO SO NOW, only in part so we have enough pizza and drinks.

Anyone who wants to and has the stamina to stay around for the wonderful 7:30 p.m. Labyrinth Cafe concert: Producer Susan Moss offers you the advance price of $17 -at the door!

Bob for the Activist Producers Collective

==============================================
promo
PNN very proudly presents March Militant Our Guests will Be CWA's Best discussing TPP/Net Neutrality and BIG Media Merger Mania.
Then Kim Ross of RETHINK ENERGY will give us an UPDATE on the State-Wide Anti-Fracking campaign being wages from the Panhandle to the tip of the Peninsula.
Matt Schwartz Wildlife Activist will give us an UPDATE on the Rocklands Development near Miami's Metro Zoo 
Anita Stewart from "Challenge the Rhetoric will let us know about Water Issues on the West Coast. 

And as Always we will feature another of Joanne Forman's Songs of the UnSung - (song and Story about Women Labor Heroes) 
Tune in Sunday 7-9pm (Eastern) Live or Anytime! 
Rick Spisak, News Director Progressive News Network




http://www.blogtalkradio.com/newmercurymedia/2015/03/15/pnn--the-ides-of-march
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