News Items – 02.13.17

The Los Angeles Times: “A U.S. airstrike may have killed 18 civilians, ‘nearly all women and children,’ UN report says

“The airstrikes occurred Feb. 9 and 10 in Sangin, a heavily contested district in Helmand province where U.S. forces have been offering increased support to Afghan soldiers seeking to dislodge Taliban militants. The United Nations mission in Afghanistan said over the weekend that ‘initial inquiries suggest that the airstrikes killed at least 18 civilians, nearly all women and children.'”

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The “Bowling Green Massacre” by two “radicalized Iraqis” that Kellyanne Conartist cited (her eventual excuse of “mispseaking” is itself a lie about a lie as she’s cited the same fictional event thrice) was fictional, right in the same section as Harry Potter, along with the absurd claim that the media doesn’t report terrorism (fictional or not) about Muslims. However, the real terrorist incident at Bowling Green was from *a weapons-stockpiling right-wing white supremacist*. Odds of Trump denouncing “right-wing terrorism” (and thus firing an incendiary verbal bomb at his own indispensable die-hard base), which is actually more dangerous and more digitally present than “Muslim terrorists“: less than zero.

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First, here is a video to understand who William Binney is (former NSA Technical Director of World Geopolitical Analysis); and here is a video to understand who Thomas Drake is (former NSA senior executive). Both are crucial to understanding the present behemoth called the National Security State. Now the article: “Former CIA Analyst Sues Defense Department to Vindicate NSA Whistleblowers,” by The Intercept. Here is a bonus interview that Binney had recently with La Repubblica. Excerpt of Intercept article:

“In 2010, Thomas Drake, a former senior [executive] at the National Security Agency, was charged with espionage for speaking to a reporter from the Baltimore Sun about a bloated, dysfunctional intelligence program he believed would violate Americans’ privacy. The case against him eventually fell apart, and he pled guilty to a single misdemeanor, but his career in the NSA was over. Though Drake was largely vindicated, the central question he raised about technology and privacy has never been resolved. Almost seven years have passed now, but Pat Eddington, a former CIA analyst, is still trying to prove that Drake was right.

While working for Rep. Rush Holt, D-N.J., Eddington had the unique opportunity to comb through still-classified documents that outline the history of two competing NSA programs known as ThinThread and Trailblazer. He’s seen an unredacted version of the Pentagon inspector general’s 2004 audit of the NSA’s failures during that time, and has filed Freedom of Information Act requests. In January, Eddington decided to take those efforts a step further by suing the Department of Defense to obtain the material, he tells The Intercept. ‘Those documents completely vindicate’ those who advocated for ThinThread at personal risk, says Eddington.

The controversy dates back to 1996, when Ed Loomis, then a computer systems designer for the NSA, along with his team worked to move the NSA’s collection capabilities from the analog to the digital world. The shift would allow the NSA to scoop up internet packets, stringing them together into legible communications, and automating a process to instantly decide which communications were most interesting, while masking anything from Americans. The prototype, called GrandMaster, would need to ingest vast amounts of data, but only spit out what was most valuable, deleting or encrypting everything else.

Then in the fall of 2001, four passenger airliners were hijacked by terrorists as part of a suicide plot against Washington, D.C., and New York City. The U.S. intelligence community faced a disturbing wakeup call: its vast collection systems had failed to prevent the attacks. Yet, in response, the NSA simply started collecting more data.

The NSA sent out a bid to multiple defense contractors, seeking a program that could collect and analyze communications from phones and the internet. Science Applications Internal Corporation, or SAIC, won the contract, known as Trailblazer. Meanwhile, internally, NSA employees were developing a similar, less costly alternative called ThinThread, a follow-on to GrandMaster. ThinThread would collect online communications, sort them, and mask data belonging to Americans. Those involved in ThinThread argue that their approach was better than a collect-it-all approach taken by NSA.

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The Intercept: “Oklahoma Lawmakers Want Men to Approve All Abortions”

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Here’s a map by MuckRock of police departments and their responses to whether or not they used surveillance technologies on protestors after Trump’s inauguration.

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Paris Jackson at the Grammy’s: “We can really use this kind of excitement at a pipeline protest, guys!

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There are two new articles from Pepe Escobar at Asia Times at the Eurasian Great Game:

Al Qaeda and Trump: Lots of shouting, tiny stick” and “Decoding Trump’s Pivot to Asia

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Rarely Seen Photos of Japanese Internment” by Maurice Berger — research professor and chief curator at the Center for Art, Design, and Visual Culture at the University of Maryland — via the New York Times.

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Sit Tsui*, Erebus Wong**, Lau Kin Chi***, and Wen Tiejun****: “One Belt, One Road: China’s Strategy for a New Global Financial Order

*associate professor at the Rural Reconstruction Institute at Southwest University, Chongqing

** senior researcher at the Kwan Fong Cultural Research and Development Program at Lingnan University, Hong Kong

***  associate professor in the Department of Cultural Studies at Lingnan University

**** director of the Rural Reconstruction Center at Renmin University, Beijing.

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World War II Bomb Removal in Greece Forces 72,000 From Homes,” by the New York Times

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Here’s a story by the New York Times on a Lancaster, PA family of Syrian refugees that are at risk due to Trump’s immigration executive orders, and here’s one from New York.

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Israel Bulldozes Democracy,” via the New York Times. And here at the New York Times again: “Israel Passes Provocative [read: utterly illegal] Law to Retroactively Legalize Settlements.”

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Busta Rhymes hilariously called out Trump at the Grammy’s, referring to him as what I will from now on for both humorous and symbolic reasons (Vietnam War mentality meets bourgeoisie fake orange tan): President Agent Orange. (Here are links to understand the sadistic use of Agent Orange on Vietnam. Here’s a book about it, and here’s an excerpt.)

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Here is today’s show from Democracy Now. And here are headlines from Democracy Now:

California vs. Trump: Lawmakers Push to Become ‘Sanctuary State’ Despite Threats from Washington

ICE Arrests More Than 600 People Nationwide in Last Week

Pro- and Anti-Planned Parenthood Rallies Held Nationwide

Thousands of Mexicans March to Denounce Trump’s Deportation Plans

Report: FBI Terrorism Task Force Investigating #NoDAPL Water Protectors

Standing Rock: Indigenous Women’s Gathering Planned for Feb. 18-19

California: 180,000+ Evacuated Amid Fears of Dam Break

6 Patriots Players Won’t Visit White House as Protest of Trump

Former Carl’s Jr. Worker Recalls Sexual Harassment & Wage Theft at Andrew Puzder’s Restaurant Chain

Secretary of Labor Violations? Opposition Grows to the Nomination of Fast-Food CEO Andy Puzder

Trump Launches ‘Blue Lives Matter Regime’ with Three New Executive Orders on Law Enforcement

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Naomi Klein is joining The Intercept!: “The author of the acclaimed global bestsellers ‘This Changes Everything,’ ‘The Shock Doctrine,’ and ‘No Logo,’ Klein will subject the major events of the Trump era to her deep reporting and penetrating analysis, cutting through the noise and chaos of the news cycle to illuminate the most important issues facing the United States and the world. In her own words: ‘I will be covering the shock of the Trump victory and the crisis it has created, and the many ways this is already being exploited for profit at the expense of both people and the planet.’ Since publishing ‘This Changes Everything” and producing a companion documentary, Klein helped create the Leap Manifesto, a blueprint for the transition from fossil fuels. In November she was awarded the Sydney Peace Prize. Klein will be contributing articles as well as commentary in other formats, such as her Facebook Live conversation with Intercept co-founding editor Jeremy Scahill at the Women’s March and appearances on our Intercepted podcast.”

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The Intercept: “Pride and Protest on Display as Mexico City Marches Against Donald Trump”

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The same Times of London Athens-based reporter is rehashing fictitious claims about professor Yanis Varoufakis, which he responds to in this open letter re-explaining what has already been explained:

“A day after one of your able journalists interviewed me in London, with a view of composing a piece for your newspaper (which I suppose is forthcoming), my attention was drawn to a separate piece that I am sure slipped inadvertently into your newspaper through your various filters. Its defamatory and wholly made-up title tells the whole story: ‘Varoufakis “funnels thousands to offshore bank account.”‘

This is not the first time your excellent newspaper has been led down the garden path by the same Athens correspondent. Back in October, Anthee Carassava reported that I was charging $60,000 per speech and that I was demanding payment through some Oman-based account. Nothing could be further from the truth. For the purposes of making that clear, and in the interests of full transparency, I did something that no politician has ever done: I published on my website the list of every talk I had given and the precise fee that I had received, demonstrating that the vast majority of my talks are free (indeed that, for some of them, I cover my own transport costs).

Today, the same TIMES correspondent, exhibiting an astonishing lack of journalistic ethics, attempted to exploit the furore over the Panama papers to submit to you exactly the same defamatory piece, without even mentioning that it was a re-print of her October tall tale, complete with the same fictitious figure and the same fictitious Oman-based account.”

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TomDispatch:

Telling the difference between Friends and Strange Bedfellows in the Age of Trump,” by Rebecca Gordon – professor of political philosophy at at the University of San Francisco.

Could Trump’s War of Words with China turn Hot?,” by Rajan Menon – Anne and Bernard Spitzer Professor of International Relations at the City University of New York and Senior Research Fellow at Columbia University.

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