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The news section today contains a lot of items from joe shikspack's Evening Blues last night along with some new ones. Thanks, joe!

More about our charming governor!  He's so confident of reelection that he does things like this just before the election.  And by the way, nobody with half a brain or who is paying attention in New Jersey expects that he'll be doing much governing because as soon as the election is over his presidential campaign will start. Which makes it all the more baffling why he'd be so easily reelected.  Basically the D party leadership in their infinite wisdom seems to have done little or nothing to make a real go of it for Barbara Buono.

Chris Christie Screams At Another Teacher On Election Eve

Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey has made a name for himself screaming at constituents – from “jerk” to “idiot” to “numbnuts.” He has also, while in re-election mode, tried to tone it down somewhat in hopes of appealing to a broader base of voters. But yesterday was an apparent slip as Governor Christie told a public school teacher that “I Am Tired Of You People!”

I went to listen to him speak. I stood in the front of the crowd that was standing towards the back. I know he caught sight of me. He stared at me a few times during his speech. I left right as his speech was over to position myself right at the door of the bus. He came out, shaking everyone’s hands as he was getting on the bus. I asked him my question, expecting him to ignore me but he suddenly turned and went off.

I asked him: “Why do you portray our schools as failure factories?” His reply: “Because they are!”  He said: “I am tired of you people. What do you want?”

I told him I want money for my students. He fought back with the amount that he has spent on education. My response was along the lines of the fact his amount was not actually an increase from the previous years, given the rate of inflation and other factors.

The crowd started arguing with me. He screamed at me to just do my job.The crowd cheered for him. I just looked at them and told them: “Hey, this is my life. I had to do this.” I tried to follow him to Atlantic City to continue the conversation but the roads were blocked by police when I got there.

Pushback from WaPo against Keith Alexander's denial that NSA taps the internal data lines between Google and Yahoo data centers.

NSA Challenges Yahoo, Google Data Watch Claims-Finance EXpert

Oct. 31 (Bloomberg) - -Bloomberg chief Washington correspondent Peter Cook reports that NSA Director General Keith Alexander has disputed claims that the NSA has direct access to servers for Yahoo and Google. He speaks on Bloomberg Television's "In The Loop." Finance NEws - Finance Expert - Finance Videos - Bloomberg Tv

There are slides included with this article.
How we know the NSA had access to internal Google and Yahoo cloud data
Immediately after the story posted online, a reporter asked NSA Director Keith B. Alexander about it at a cybersecurity event hosted by Bloomberg Government. Neither the reporter nor Alexander had read the story yet.
Alexander replied:
That’s never happened. […] This is not the NSA breaking into any databases. It would be illegal for us to do that. And so I don’t know what the report is, but I can tell you factually we do not have access to Google servers, Yahoo servers.

The story did not say the NSA breaks into “servers” or “databases.” It said the agency, working with its British counterpart, intercepts communications that run on private circuits between the fortress-like data centers that each company operates on multiple continents.

The distinction is between “data at rest” and “data on the fly.” The NSA and GCHQ do not break into user accounts that are stored on Yahoo and Google computers. They intercept the information as it travels over fiber optic cables from one data center to another.
Alexander also said:

We go through a court order. We issue that court order to them through the FBI. And it’s not millions. It’s thousands of those that are done, and it’s almost all against terrorism and other things like that. It has nothing to do with U.S. persons.
Here he appeared to be talking about PRISM [...] Our Wednesday story reported that the NSA is not relying only on PRISM to get information from Yahoo and Google.
The WaPo article goes on to talk about some data formats and information that can be found on NSA slides and these are data that are only transmitted on Google's internal network.  That's the only place they could have been intercepted.  So basically, NSA is busted.  WaPo went to experts and engineers to confirm that these types of data are only found on the cables that run between their data centers and used for internal operations. As far as I know, Keith Alexander has not corrected that denial.  He got caught out in public with a question from the media before having a chance to read the article or prepare his answers and talking points.  

Keith Alexander is furious with the White House for not being out in the media defending him and the NSA.  It's pretty clear that the White House is not going to go out and lie again for him (knowingly or unknowingly after having been given bad information) and then get caught in a lie. He's under the bus.  So he's been frantically trying to launch his own media campaign and he just keeps making things worse.  He's been doing creepy interviews and witness panels with his friends, the chairs of the intel committee and he's been doing these public appearances.  In the past he either didn't take questions or he only took screened questions, carefully controlled.  It looks like this time he took a live question and ended up issuing a big denial that can easily be knocked down.  

A recent Guardian article advised Google and other big tech firms to form an NRA-like organization and stand up to all of this.  Eric Schmidt, Mr. friend of the govt, think tanker, 'if you're not doing anything wrong why worry...' guy is really pissed, says it's outrageous and illegal if true.  

Inside the "Electronic Omnivore": New Leaks Show NSA Spying on U.N., Climate Summit, Text Messaging

White House rejects clemency for Edward Snowden over NSA leaks

The White House and leading lawmakers have rejected Edward Snowden's plea for clemency and said he should return to the United States to face trial.

Dan Pfeiffer, an Obama administration adviser, said on Sunday the NSA whistleblower's request was not under consideration and that he should face criminal charges for leaking classified information. Dianne Feinstein and Mike Rogers, respectively the heads of the Senate and House intelligence committees, maintained the same tough line and accused Snowden of damaging US interests.

The former NSA employee this week appealed for clemency and an opportunity to address members of Congress about US surveillance. He also asked for international help to lobby the US to drop the charges against him. The White House, stung by domestic and international criticism, has shown growing appetite to rein in some of the NSA programmes that Snowden exposed but it has not softened its hostility to the 30-year-old fugitive.

Pfeiffer told ABC's This Week that no clemency offers were being discussed following Snowden's appeal in a letter released by a German lawmaker who met him in Moscow.

Feinstein, a Democratic senator from California, remained implacable. "He's done this enormous disservice to our country. I think the answer is 'no clemency'," she told CBS's Face the Nation.

'Spoiler Alert': NYT's Rapid-Fire Review of Snowden Docs Questioned

Given access to a large trove of the NSA documents leaked by whistleblower Edward Snowden, the New York Times has published an aerial view of the agency—cataloging numerous and varied surveillance programs—which the paper says shows that President Obama and other high-ranking officials who defend the agency by citing its counterterrorism credentials are using "a misleadingly narrow sales pitch for an agency with an almost unlimited agenda."

Though critical and informative on many levels, however, the approach and perhaps unintended consequences of the story raises some questions. ...

[D]espite the scale and scope of the Times' reporting on the documents, it was difficult for some to avoid the feeling that part of the exhaustive review was designed to scuttle future—perhaps more detailed—reporting on the same programs.

Truth Manifesto: In Der Spiegel Snowden justifies leaks, citing calls for reforms

Germany 'should offer Edward Snowden asylum after NSA revelations'

An increasing number of public figures are calling for Edward Snowden to be offered asylum in Germany, with more than 50 asking Berlin to step up it support of the US whistleblower in the new edition of Der Spiegel magazine

Heiner Geissler, the former general secretary of Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats, says in the appeal: "Snowden has done the western world a great service. It is now up to us to help him." ...

The weekly news magazine also publishes a "manifesto for truth", written by Snowden, in which the former NSA employee warns of the danger of spy agencies setting the political agenda.

"At the beginning, some of the governments who were exposed by the revelations of mass surveillance initiated an unprecedented smear campaign. They intimidated journalists and criminalised the publication of the truth

"Today we know that this was a mistake, and that such behaviour is not in the public interest. The debate they tried to stop is now taking place all over the world", Snowden writes in the short comment piece sent to Der Spiegel via an encrypted channel.

This is what the NSA says; “Sigint professionals must hold the moral high ground, even as terrorists or dictators seek to exploit our freedoms. Some of our adversaries will say or do anything to advance their cause; we will not.”  

Snowden's revelations bring into question just exactly what the NSA will do, including making bald-faced lies to those tasked with oversight of their activities and the Americain people.  What they will do sounds an awful lot like what the "bad" adversaries do.

Three Leaks, Three Weeks, and What We've Learned About the US Government's Other Spying Authority: Executive Order 12333

[T]he NSA collects ... innocent Americans contacts from their address books and buddy lists. The information is in addition to Americans' calling records, phone calls, emails, and any other information publicly available on the Internet. And it's yet another sign that the NSA will stop at nothing to collect innocent Americans' information—all in the name of protecting us from foreign threats.

The details from the Washington Post reveal the NSA's collection is "likely to be in the millions or tens of millions" of Americans' contacts. The NSA is helped, in a way, because your contacts aren't always encrypted when you sync them from your laptop or mobile devices to your online account. The Post's articles provide a vital supplement to a recent New York Times story, which revealed NSA using Americans metadata collected under its spying programs to map social networks.

What's most unnerving about these collections is that the NSA is using Executive Order 12333, which lays out guidelines for spying outside the authority granted by Congress in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. The order was created in the 1980s, is publicly available, and has been updated several times since then.

But Executive Order 12333 relies on Executive oversight. And we all know how well that works. When it comes to Congress, Senator Diane Feinstein, the Chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee—the committee that's supposed to oversee the intelligence community—ruled 12333 collection as "not fall[ing] within the focus of the committee." General Keith Alexander, Director of the NSA, agrees. At a Judiciary Committee hearing earlier this month, he couldn't even confirm that the oversight committees of Congress were informed of 12333 collection.

Google chief: NSA spying ‘outrageous’ and potentially illegal

Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt said reports that the U.S. government spied on the Internet giant’s data centers were “outrageous” and potentially illegal if proved true, in an interview Monday.

Speaking to the Wall Street Journal during a visit to Hong Kong, the technology guru said that Google had filed complaints with the National Security Agency, President Barack Obama, as well as members of Congress.

“It’s really outrageous that the National Security Agency was looking between the Google data centres if that’s true. The steps that the organisation was willing to do without good judgement to pursue its mission and potentially violate people’s privacy, it’s not OK,” Schmidt said.

“The NSA allegedly collected the phone records of 320 million people in order to identify roughly 300 people who might be at risk. It’s just bad public policy … and perhaps illegal,” he said in the interview conducted in the southern Chinese city.

British claim Greenwald’s partner detained for "promoting a political or ideological cause"

The detention of the partner of a former Guardian journalist has triggered fresh concerns after it emerged that a key reason cited by police for holding him under terrorism powers was the belief that he was promoting a “political or ideological cause”.

Now documents referred to in court last week before a judicial review of Miranda’s detention shine new light on the Metropolitan police’s explanation for invoking terrorism powers – a decision critics have called draconian.

It became apparent during the court hearing that there were several drafts of the Port Circular Notice – the document used to request Miranda’s detention under schedule 7 to the 2000 Terrorism Act – before the final version was submitted.

The draft that was finally used states: “Intelligence indicates that Miranda is likely to be involved in espionage activity which has the potential to act against the interests of UK national security. We therefore wish to establish the nature of Miranda’s activity, assess the risk that Miranda poses to national security and mitigate as appropriate.”

The notice then went on to explain why police officers believed that the terrorism act was appropriate.

“We assess that Miranda is knowingly carrying material, the release of which would endanger people’s lives. Additionally the disclosure or threat of disclosure is designed to influence a government, and is made for the purpose of promoting a political or ideological cause."

Capability is Driving Policy, Not Just at the NSA But Also in Police Departments

If you’re concerned about the dragnet nature of the National Security Agency’s surveillance programs, then you should also pay attention to what your local police department is doing. You may find that the dragnet surveillance happening there has a lot in common with the NSA’s mass collection of phone log data.

More and more when it comes to monitoring the public, capability is driving policy. The limits of law enforcement surveillance are being determined by what is technologically possible, not what is wise or even lawful. And it’s not uncommon for the police to use a new technology in secret for as long as they can, and then allow the courts to sort out legality once the issue finally comes before them.

It has never been so cheap and so easy for our law enforcement agencies to access and record the details of our daily lives. Consider automatic license plate readers: This seemingly innocuous technology snaps photos of passing cars’ license plates and stamps them with the location, date, and time. While these scanners were once limited to uncontroversial purposes such as identifying stolen vehicles, increasingly the police save the photos for months or even years—even though virtually all of people whose movements are being recorded are completely innocent, and even though travel patterns can reveal sensitive details of our lives. ...

And that cell phone in your pocket? The police can get all of your location history very easily—without a warrant. In this case it’s not the government collecting everyone’s data, but cell phone service providers, who keep it for years. Why are they doing that? Because they can. Should they be doing that? No.

So when you think about dragnet surveillance, you should think about the NSA. But you should also worry about what your local police are doing with the data they collect about you.

Everybody is really good at something.  I wish that Obama had been less interested in developing this particular talent:
Last Year President Obama Reportedly Told His Aides That He's 'Really Good At Killing People'

This will not go over well for the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize winner.

According to the new book “Double Down,” in which journalists Mark Halperin and John Heilemann chronicle the 2012 presidential election, President Barack Obama told his aides that he’s “really good at killing people” while discussing drone strikes.

Peter Hamby of The Washington Post noted the moment in his review of the book.

The reported claim by the commander-in-chief is as indisputable as it is grim.

America’s Drone Wars

Latest US Drone Attack Kills More Than Taliban Chief

PESHAWAR - The drone attack that killed Tehreek Taliban Pakistan chief Hakimullah Mahsud this week seems also to have killed hopes that drone attacks will end. ...

[T]he attack coming a day before talks between the Pakistani government and the Pakistani Taliban has sabotaged peace talks, the Pakistani government says. ...

The Taliban have described these attacks as a weakness of the government. “The government must stop the drone attacks before peace talks with Taliban,” Taliban spokesman Shahidullah Shahid told media. Without ending these strikes, there will no dialogue, and attacks on the army and police will continue, he warned in a statement Oct. 10.

Remind me again, what was it that made America a shining city on a hill?
CIA made doctors torture suspected terrorists after 9/11, taskforce finds

Doctors were asked to torture detainees for intelligence gathering, and unethical practices continue, review concludes

Doctors and psychologists working for the US military violated the ethical codes of their profession under instruction from the defence department and the CIA to become involved in the torture and degrading treatment of suspected terrorists, an investigation has concluded.

The report of the Taskforce on Preserving Medical Professionalism in National Security Detention Centres concludes that after 9/11, health professionals working with the military and intelligence services "designed and participated in cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment and torture of detainees".

Medical professionals were in effect told that their ethical mantra "first do no harm" did not apply, because they were not treating people who were ill.

The report lays blame primarily on the defence department (DoD) and the CIA, which required their healthcare staff to put aside any scruples in the interests of intelligence gathering and security practices that caused severe harm to detainees, from waterboarding to sleep deprivation and force-feeding.

The Great Austerity Shell Game: Here's How the Capitalist Scam Works

When capitalist economies crash, most capitalists request – and governments provide – credit market bailouts and economic stimuli. However, corporations and the rich oppose new taxes on them to pay for stimulus and bailout programs. They insist, instead, that governments should borrow the necessary funds. Since 2007, capitalist governments everywhere borrowed massively for those costly programs. They thus ran large budget deficits and their national debts soared.

Heavy borrowing was thus capitalists' preferred first policy to deal with their system's latest crisis. It served them well.

Borrowing paid for government rescues of banks, other financial companies, and selected other major corporations. Borrowing enabled stimulus expenditures that revived demand for goods and services. Borrowing enabled government outlays on unemployment compensation, food stamps, and other offsets to crisis-induced suffering.

In these ways, borrowing helped reduce the criticism, resentment, anger, and anti-system tendencies among those fired from jobs, evicted from homes, deprived of job security and benefits, etc. Government borrowing had these positive results for capitalists – while saving them from paying taxes to get those results.

Nor is that all. Corporations and the rich used the money they saved by keeping governments from taxing them to provide the huge loans governments therefore needed. Middle- and lower-income people could lend little if anything to their governments. Corporations and the rich, in effect, substituted loans to the government instead of paying more in taxes. For those loans, governments must pay interest and eventually repay them.

Government borrowing rewards corporations and the rich quite nicely. It amounts to a very sweet deal for capitalists.

The Top Secret Trade Deal You Need to Know About

Russell Brand hits back at Robert Webb's criticism of call for revolution
Peep Show star had challenged Brand to value 'vanishingly small' chance of being born in 21st century Britain

• Robert Webb rebukes Russell Brand for urging people not to vote
• Russell Brand and the GQ awards: 'It's amazing how absurd it seems'

In response, Brand told the Huffington Post's Mehdi Hasan: "Maybe [it's good] for him, mate. Maybe it's okay for Robert Webb; no one is going to take his kids away, but I've heard some examples.

"I don't claim to be a politician, like all things I'm sure there are people in the room who know more about this than I do, I didn't have an education like Robert Webb had. But there are people from Leicester in Guantánamo Bay.

"If you went to Oxbridge, if you went to a private school, no one is coming for your kids. They're not coming for you if you're from Oxbridge. That's my open letter to Robert. I hope it doesn't go to the other one by mistake – David Mitchell – who I really like."


Stop Watching Us.

The revelations about the National Security Agency's surveillance apparatus, if true, represent a stunning abuse of our basic rights. We demand the U.S. Congress reveal the full extent of the NSA's spying programs.

Blog Posts and Tweets of Interest

The Evening Blues

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John Lennon - Remember

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