BANGKOK – Developing countries and environmental groups accused the World Bank on Friday of trying to seize control of the billions of dollars of aid that will be used to tackle climate change in the next four decades.
“The World Bank’s foray into climate change has gone down like a lead balloon,” Friends of the Earth campaigner Tom Picken said at the end of a major climate change conference in the Thai capital.
“Many countries and civil society have expressed outrage at the World Bank’s attempted hijacking of real efforts to fund climate change efforts,” he said.
It was revealedthis week by Wired that a study written for the U.S. Special Operations Command in 2006 recommended “clandestinely recruiting or hiring prominent bloggers” in order to promote messages favorable to the military. It also raised the possibility of altering an “enemy blog” by hacking to destroy its credibility or use it to spread false information.
The military has downplayed this study as an “academic exercise,” but its conclusions appear to match closely with a strong and growing focus by the Pentagon on what it calls “information warfare.”
Underlining this interest, this past January former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld resurfaced for the first time in over a year to address a conference on “Network Centric Warfare.” He complained that Islamic radicals are winning the propaganda battle against the United States and proposed a “21st-century agency for global communications” that would tell the American side of the story, using resources ranging “from blogs to online social-networking sites to talk radio.”
During the question session afterward, Rumsfeld suggested again that “a new agency has to be something that would take advantage of the wonderful opportunities that exist today. There are multiple channels for information . . . The Internet is there, blogs are there, talk radio is there, e-mails are there. There are all kinds of opportunities.”
Until recently, the popular concept of information warfare primarily involved hacking or denial of service attacks deployed against blogs and websites in order to convey a political statement.
For example, at the time of the invasion of Iraq in 2003, there were reports of widespread hacking of both military and commercial websites. According to ZDNet, “most notably, the US Navy Web site was hacked by an activist called Apocalypse. The message posted on the site read: ‘No War, U.S.A think they can tell the world what to do.'” A few months later, several NASA sites were similarly hackedby Brazilian anti-war protesters.
WASHINGTON (AP) – Members of Congress have as much as $196 million collectively invested in companies doing business with the Defense Department, earning millions since the onset of the Iraq war, according to a study by a nonpartisan research group.
WASHINGTON – FOUR out of five Americans believe things are ‘on the wrong track’ in the United States, the gloomiest outlook in about 20 years, according to a New York Times/CBS News poll.
The poll, released on Thursday, found that 81 per cent of respondents felt ‘things have pretty seriously gotten off on the wrong track’. That was up from 69 per cent last year and 35 per cent in early 2003.
Only 4 per cent of survey respondents said the country was better off than it was five years ago, while 78 per cent said it was worse, the newspaper said.
NEW YORK – A newly disclosed secret memo authored by the Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) in March 2003 that asserts President Bush has unlimited power to order brutal interrogations of detainees also reveals a radical interpretation of the Constitution’s Fourth Amendment protection from unreasonable search and seizure. The memo, declassified yesterday as the result of an American Civil Liberties Union lawsuit, cites a still-secret DOJ memo from 2001 that found that the “Fourth Amendment had no application to domestic military operations.”
The October 2001 memo was almost certainly meant to provide a legal basis for the National Security Agency’s warrantless wiretapping program, which President Bush launched the same month the memo was issued. As a component of the Department of Defense, the NSA is a military agency.
“The recent disclosures underscore the Bush administration’s extraordinarily sweeping conception of executive power,” said Jameel Jaffer, Director of the ACLU’s National Security Project. “The administration’s lawyers believe the president should be permitted to violate statutory law, to violate international treaties, and even to violate the Fourth Amendment inside the U.S. They believe that the president should be above the law.“
US Homeland Security overlord Michael Chertoff has told reporters that he believes plans for increased use of satellite surveillance by American law-enforcement agencies are ready to move forward. However, Democratic politicians remain unconvinced that adequate privacy and civil liberties safeguards are in place.
“I think the way is now clear to stand NAO up and go warm,” said Chertoff, briefing journalists about the proposed National Applications Office.
NAO would allow US police, immigration, drug-enforcement and other officials to have access to data from various US satellites passing above America. It is understood that the information would be supplied mostly by spacecraft which at the moment are used for meteorological and geological surveying, or other scientific tasks. Satellites of this type can often deliver high-resolution images which would also be useful to law enforcement.
NEW YORK – The military is using the FBI to skirt legal restrictions on domestic surveillance to obtain private records of Americans’ Internet service providers, financial institutions and telephone companies, the ACLU said Tuesday.
Vice President Dick Cheney opposed the signing ratification of a treaty banning the use chemical weapons, a recently unearthed letter shows.
183 countries pledged never to “develop, produce, otherwise acquire, stockpile or retain chemical weapons, or transfer, directly or indirectly, chemical weapons to anyone” under the Chemical Weapons Convention, put into effect in 1997.
But in a letter dated April 8, 1997, then Halliburton-CEO Cheney told Sen. Jesse Helms, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, that it would be a mistake for America to join the Convention. “Those nations most likely to comply with the Chemical Weapons Convention are not likely to ever constitute a military threat to the United States. The governments we should be concerned about are likely to cheat on the CWC, even if they do participate,” reads the letter, published by the Federation of American Scientists.
Biological weapons delivered by cyborg insects. It sounds like a nightmare scenario straight out of the wilder realms of science fiction, but it could be a reality if a current Pentagon project comes to fruition.
Right now, researchers are already growing insects with electronics inside them. They’re creating cyborg moths and flying beetles that can be remotely controlled. One day, the US military may field squadrons of winged insect/machine hybrids with on-board audio, video or chemical sensors. These cyborg insects could conduct surveillance and reconnaissance missions on distant battlefields, in far-off caves, or maybe even in cities closer to home, and transmit detailed data back to their handlers at US military bases.
Today, many people fear US government surveillance of email and cell phone communications. With this program, the Pentagon aims to exponentially increase the paranoia. Imagine a world in which any insect fluttering past your window may be a remote-controlled spy, packed with surveillance equipment. Even more frightening is the prospect that such creatures could be weaponized, and the possibility, according to one scientist intimately familiar with the project, that these cyborg insects might be armed with “bio weapons”.
For the past 50 years, work by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) – the Pentagon’s blue skies research outfit – has led to some of the most lethal weaponry in the US arsenal: from Hellfire-missile-equipped Predator drones and stealth fighters and bombers to Tomahawk cruise missiles and Javelin portable “fire and forget” guided missiles.
Former Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura vehemently savaged the official 9/11 story on a syndicated national radio show today, saying the WTC collapsed like a controlled demolition and was pulverized to dust as he also highlighted the impossible 10 second free fall speed of the towers.
Appearing on The Alex Jones Show, Ventura said that his initial reaction to 9/11 was much like most people at the time, and he accepted the official story outright, a response he now regrets because he was in a position of power and could have used it to raise a lot of pointed questions.
“I kicked myself when it initially happened that the light didn’t go off but I was so shocked that this thing had even taken place that I apologize for not being more aware,” said Ventura, adding that watching Loose Change at the insistence of his son was part of the catalyst for his wake up call.
“To me questions haven’t been answered and are not being answered about 9/11,” said Ventura, before highlighting the collapse of Building 7, a 47-story tall skyscraper that was not hit by a plane but collapsed in its own footprint in the late afternoon of September 11.
“Two planes struck two buildings….but how is it that a third building fell 5 hours later?” asked Ventura, “How could this building just implode into its own footprint 5 hours later – that’s my first question – the 9/11 Commission didn’t even devote one page to that in their big volume of investigation,” added the former Governor.
Ventura then explored how it was possible that all three buildings could rapidly collapse at almost free fall speed.
“How could those buildings fall at the speed of gravity – if you put a stopwatch on them both of those World Trade Center buildings were on the ground in ten seconds – how can that be?” asked Ventura.
“If you took a billiard ball and dropped it from the height of the World Trade Center in a vacuum it would hit the ground in 9.3 seconds and if you took that same billiard ball and dropped it 10 stories at a time and merely stopped it and started it it would take 30 seconds – if you dropped it every floor of the World Trade Center to the ground, simply stopping and starting it on gravity it would take over 100 seconds to reach the ground,” he surmised.
The former wrestling star then questioned how low-temperature burning jet fuel could melt steel.
“Jet fuel is four fifths kerosene – which is not a hot burning fuel – and they wanted us to believe it melted these steel structured girders and caused these buildings to pancake collapse to the ground?” he stated.
“I was on the site within two weeks after it happened and I saw none of these pancakes – wouldn’t they all be piled up in a huge mass on the ground and yet everything was blown into dust – when you look at it from that aspect none of it makes any sense,” said Ventura.
“Never before in the annuls of history has a fire caused a steel structure building to fall to the ground like these two did,” he concluded.
Having undergone Basic Underwater Demolition Seal training, Ventura is speaking from an experienced standpoint and he unequivocally stated that he thought the buildings were deliberately imploded.
“Upon looking at the film in super-slow motion and the way the buildings fell and comparing that to the way that they do like a controlled demolition of a hotel in Las Vegas, they both fell identical.”
“I did watch the film of Building 7 going down and in my opinion there’s no doubt that that building was brought down with demolition,” said the former Governor.
Ventura also questioned the lack of wreckage outside of the Pentagon after Flight 77 allegedly struck the building.
“When I was watching Loose Change with a friend of mine – he happens to work for a company that helps build the Boeing airplanes and they said that when the engines completely disappeared and were destroyed, his response was, excuse my French – bullshit!,” said Ventura.
“I turned to him and said why and he said because they’re made of titanium steel – they can’t disintegrate.”
Ventura said that the corporate media were going to continue to cover-up the truth about 9/11, but that the number of credible people speaking out and increasing education and knowledge about the subject would eventually reap dividends.
“We don’t want to lose our country, after all it’s still our country and until they put us down we have the power,” Ventura concluded.
Al Gore at the UN climate change conference in Bali in 2007.
Photograph: Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty images
· Huge drive for Congress action on global warming
· $300m TV campaign will focus on job opportunities
Al Gore yesterday launched a drive to mobilise 10 million volunteers to force politicians to act on climate change – twice as many as the number who marched against the Vietnam war or in support of civil rights during the heyday of US activism in the 1960s.
During the next three years, his Alliance for Climate Protection plans to spend $300m (about £150m) on television advertising and online organising to make global warming among the most urgent issues for elected American leaders.
The wecansolveit.org initiative aims to build up pressure on the next US president to support stringent mandatory emissions controls when they come before Congress, and take a leadership role at the renegotiation of the Kyoto treaty.
Justice Department document said Bush could ignore torture bans
WASHINGTON – The Pentagon on Tuesday released a now-defunct legal memo that approved the use of harsh interrogation techniques against terrorism suspects, saying that President Bush’s authority during wartime trumps any international ban on torture.
The Justice Department memo, dated March 14, 2003, outlines legal justification for military interrogators to use harsh tactics against al-Qaida and Taliban detainees overseas – so long as they did not specifically intend to torture their captors.
Even so, the memo noted, the president’s wartime power as commander in chief would not be limited by the U.N. treaties against torture.
London-based al-Quds al-Arabi newspaper quotes sources in Damascus as saying Syria views Israeli media reports, IDF commanders’ statements as incitement, attempt to prepare public opinion for war. According to report, Syrian army on heightened alert, conducting wide-scale drills
Syria is preparing for a comprehensive Israeli strike which will be combined with an attack on Hizbullah, sources in Damascus have told the London-based Arabic-language al-Quds al-Arabi newspaper.
The sources, which refused to reveal their identity, reported that Syria was closely monitoring the movement of Israeli forces along the northern border.
The newspaper reported Wednesday that Damascus viewed the Israeli media reports and statements made by senior Israel Defense Forces officials as incitement and attempts to prepare the Israeli and global public opinion for a war against Syria.
The sources added that the Syrian forces were conducting wide-scale military maneuvers and have called up reservists in preparation for an Israeli attack.
MOSCOW, March 27 (RIA Novosti) – Russian military intelligence services are reporting a flurry of activity by U.S. Armed Forces near Iran’s borders, a high-ranking security source said Tuesday.
“The latest military intelligence data point to heightened U.S. military preparations for both an air and ground operation against Iran,” the official said, adding that the Pentagon has probably not yet made a final decision as to when an attack will be launched.
He said the Pentagon is looking for a way to deliver a strike against Iran “that would enable the Americans to bring the country to its knees at minimal cost.”
He also said the U.S. Naval presence in the Persian Gulf has for the first time in the past four years reached the level that existed shortly before the invasion of Iraq in March 2003.
Col.-Gen. Leonid Ivashov, vice president of the Academy of Geopolitical Sciences, said last week that the Pentagon is planning to deliver a massive air strike on Iran’s military infrastructure in the near future.
A new U.S. carrier battle group has been dispatched to the Gulf.
The USS John C. Stennis, with a crew of 3,200 and around 80 fixed-wing aircraft, including F/A-18 Hornet and Superhornet fighter-bombers, eight support ships and four nuclear submarines are heading for the Gulf, where a similar group led by the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower has been deployed since December 2006.
The U.S. is also sending Patriot anti-missile systems to the region.
Prominent journalist Seymour hersh says the US is ‘in real trouble’ because news coverage on Iraq is anything but balanced and unbiased.
When the American government says the US is winning in Iraq and is not torturing prisoners, they are just words, hersh told his audience of journalism students in Regina, Canada. “We are in real trouble [in Iraq].”
Pointing to the changes reporting has undergone since the Vietnam War, the award-winning journalist explained that reporters are now imbedded with troops who cloud their judgment and therefore do not touch the same kind of issues.
“It has led to a lot of lousy reporting,” continued hersh. “I don’t think it is bad for a journalist to come back (from covering a war) and say it sucks.”
hersh said media outlets spread ‘fake’ news and suggested his audience resort to translations of local media sources when learning about issues concerning the Middle East.
Pulitzer Prize winner Seymour Myron hersh first gained worldwide recognition in 1969 for exposing the My Lai massacre and its cover-up during the Vietnam War.
A study, written for U.S. Special Operations Command, suggested “clandestinely recruiting or hiring prominent bloggers.”
Since the start of the Iraq war, there’s been a raucous debate in military circles over how to handle blogs — and the servicemembers who want to keep them. One faction sees blogs as security risks, and a collective waste of troops’ time. The other (which includes top officers, like Gen. David Petraeus and Lt. Gen. William Caldwell) considers blogs to be a valuable source of information, and a way for ordinary troops to shape opinions, both at home and abroad.
“Al-Qaeda, in its haven in western Pakistan, is training operatives who are ‘western’ in appearance, making it easier for them to get past U.S. airport security, Central Intelligence Director Michael Hayden said,” reports Bloomberg.
Does anybody who looks “western” have an easy time getting past airport security? Mr. Hayden needs to visit an airport and see for himself — just about everybody, from grandmothers to toddlers, are under suspicion, even if they look Scandinavian. It has nothing to do with actual suspicion. It has to do with sending a message: you live in a police state now, get used to it, and if you don’t want to end up dead in a holding cell like Carol Ann Gotbaum, you’ll submit and not complain.
Of course, Mr. Hayden, as the head honcho of the CIA, is “catapulting the propaganda,” as Bush might call it. Now that al-Qaeda operatives look like stock brokers and cashiers at the local Stop ‘n Gas, we need to push ahead with the control grid, now only partially in place. Our rulers think we need to hear this kind of nonsense every few weeks, just to remind us and get us accustomed to those CCTV cameras everywhere and the NSA vacuuming up our telephone conversations and emails. It’s all to protect us from the white boy al-Qaeda.
Cost Overruns Hit $295 Billion
Government auditors issued a scathing review yesterday of dozens of the Pentagon’s biggest weapons systems, saying ships, aircraft and satellites are billions of dollars over budget and years behind schedule.
The Government Accountability Office found that 95 major systems have exceeded their original budgets by a total of $295 billion, bringing their total cost to $1.6 trillion, and are delivered almost two years late on average. In addition, none of the systems that the GAO looked at had met all of the standards for best management practices during their development stages.
The Navy expects the costs of its first two Littoral Combat Ships to exceed their combined budget of $472 million by more than 100 percent. (Lockheed Martin Via Associated Press)
Auditors said the Defense Department showed few signs of improvement since the GAO began issuing its annual assessments of selected weapons systems six years ago. “It’s not getting any better by any means,” said Michael Sullivan, director of the GAO’s acquisition and sourcing team. “It’s taking longer and costing more.”
Saudi Arabia is reportedly preparing to counter any ‘radioactive hazards’ which may result from a US strike on Iran’s nuclear plants.
Popular government-guided Saudi newspaper Okaz recently reported that the Saudi Shura Council approved of nuclear fallout preparation plans only a day after US Vice President Dick Cheney met with the Kingdom’s high ranking officials, including King Abdullah.
As a result of the Shura ruling, the Saudi government will start the implementation of ‘national plans to deal with any sudden nuclear and radioactive hazards that may affect the Kingdom following expert warnings of possible attacks on Iran’s Bushehr nuclear reactors’.
U.S. FOREST SERVICE FIELDING FLEET OF DRONES – Law Enforcement Wants “Unmanned Aerial Vehicles” Hovering Above Forests
Washington, DC – The U.S. Forest Service has purchased pilot-less aircraft to provide day and night photo reconnaissance for its law enforcement program, according to agency records released today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). The two “unmanned aerial vehicles,” or drones, may represent the beginnings of wider conversion of military robotic technology for civilian uses.
The two “Sky Seers” were obtained by the Forest Service on December 10, 2007 at a cost of $100,000 from Chang Industries, Inc. of La Verne, California. The package includes one “day version” and one “night version” of the drone, together with a “Pan/tilt thermal camera” to record heat signatures at night.
A March 12, 2007 purchase request from the Forest Service Law Enforcement & Investigations (LE&I) program states it “has been monitoring and evaluating UAVs [unmanned aerial vehicles] intermittently since 1997, when their use was considered in support of Operation Linebacker, a border enforcement initiative.” While this “Sole Source Request” details desired equipment specifications, the Forest Service could produce no documents spelling out what they want to use drones for or why pilot-less craft are preferred, in response to a Freedom of Information Act request from PEER.
The drones purchase took place shortly after Forest Service LE&I spent $600,000 buying tasers for its entire enforcement staff, without any guidelines or training program. The tasers are still sitting in storage cartons. After PEER revealed the taser fiasco, LE&I staff told PEER about the drones and suggested a records request in order to validate staff concerns that the purchase –
A NATO cyberdefense center is to be housed in this former military barracks in Tallinn, Estonia.
(Foreign Ministry of Estonia)
PARIS: Nearly a year after Estonia weathered an onslaught of cyberattacks, its name has become a rallying cry for countries pressing to streangthen global cooperation between governments and private Internet service providers to combat computer crime. But some privacy advocates and computer experts remain wary of such efforts.
On Tuesday, the Council of Europe plans to introduce guidelines to aid computer crime investigators, building on a cybercrime treaty that has been signed by 43 nations, including the United States. A controversial proposal would require service providers to give the authorities a list of the types of information that they could offer.
On Wednesday, NATO will present a strategy for countering computer attacks at a meeting for heads of state in Bucharest, with a proposal to create a central cyberdefense authority.
“The attacks on Estonia – directed at services on which Estonian citizens rely – could happen anywhere,” said James Appathurai, a NATO spokesman. “The only way to defend against them is through multinational, multilateral cooperation.”
That kind of military talk concerns privacy advocates and computer experts, who fear that private companies will be pressed into service to police users as part of these strategies.
“One of the great consequences of all of this is that an agenda is created for a society that is under surveillance,” said Peter Sommers, a senior research fellow at the London School of Economics and author of “The Hacker’s Handbook,” written under the pseudonym Hugo Cornwall. “And in the panic, we lose the quality of control.”
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