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Star of David

Israeli role in the U.S. surveillance machine

© Washington Post
A slide from the National Security Agency powerpoint presentation on the PRISM program.
If the Israeli government has indeed ordered its spies "to dig up intelligence" showing links between the supporters of BDS and "terrorists and enemy states" asreported in the February 11, 2014 London Times, it may find that it already has as much information as it needs in its data banks.

As described in the UK Guardian by Glenn Greenwald, Laura Poitras and Ewen MacAskill, a 2008 document obtained by whistleblower Edward Snowden states that "one of the NSA's biggest threats is actually from friendly intelligence services, like Israel. There are parameters on what NSA shares with them, but the exchange is so robust, we sometimes share more than we intended."

Nevertheless, in the following year the NSA and the Israeli SIGINT National Unit drafted a top-secret memorandum of understanding (MOU) dated March 2009 under which the NSA would provide raw intelligence to Israel, including on American citizens. The MOU requested Israeli intelligence to "destroy upon recognition" communications going to and from "officials of the Executive Branch (including the White House, Cabinet Departments, and independent agencies), the US House of Representatives and Senate (member and staff) and the US Federal Court system (including, but not limited to, the Supreme Court)" as well as communications of civilian and military personnel on official business of government.

It is not clear if the MOU revealed by Snowden was ever implemented. But if it was, Israeli intelligence services might be receiving little data that they don't already possess - including communications of US government officials and Members of Congress.
USA

Europe will now think twice before following Washington's orders - Ex-CIA Officer Ray McGovern


The Ukrainian crisis may have seen a flickering light at the end of the tunnel, as politicians from the great powers collided over the former Soviet state are now bringing up the idea of having four-sided talks between the US, EU, Russia and Ukraine itself. But with the east of the Ukraine boiling with new wave of protests, and Kiev's government being fed with unreasonable promises from Washington - whatwill tomorrow hold for the Ukrainians themselves? Are talks a real possibility? Will there be any use of them? To find this out, Sophie talks to Ray McGovern, retired CIA analyst turned whistleblower.

Sophie Shevardnadze: Ray McGovern, retired CIA analyst, whistleblower, political activist, it's really great to have you on our show today. So, we're going to talk about Ukraine as usual. Just recently the US, Russia and the EU have agreed to sit down with Ukraine, in an attempt to resolve this crisis. But, is this a problem to be solved internationally, or is it an internal Ukrainian issue? As a matter of fact, was it ever Ukraine's internal problem?

Ray McGovern: Well, Ukraine, obviously needs to be involved intimately. We can't have the EU and the US and Russia deciding the future of Ukraine, so the answer is Ukraine needs to be involved intimately, but all of them, East and West, and I'm really glad that the adults have taken over now, and what should have happened several weeks ago is happening now. People getting together to figure out how to do this, when no one's security is endangered.
Red Flag

Medvedev: Kiev authorities fall into their own trap


Dmitry Medvedev
The illegitimate Kyiv authorities are falling into their own trap: they are trying to restore the order they trampled upon when they took power in an armed revolt, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev wrote on Facebook.

"Blood has been spilled in Ukraine again. The country is on the verge of a civil war. That is sad," Medvedev wrote.

The cause of the Ukrainian tragedy is that the legitimate authorities did not even try to preserve law and order in regions where administrative buildings were seized and "those authorities were nullified", he said.

"Meanwhile, the illegitimate rulers are trying to restore the order they have cynically trampled upon when they took part in an armed revolt and are falling into their own trap," Medvedev wrote.

Action triggered counteraction, and a state crime [the revolt in Kyiv] led to public protests in regions, Medvedev said.
Light Sabers

Lavrov denies claims of Russia seeking to derail Geneva meeting on Ukraine


Sergei Lavrov
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has advised against trusting claims made by the current authorities in Kyiv that Russia allegedly seeks to disrupt a planned key four-party meeting on the Ukrainian crisis in Geneva.

"When you hear those who today head the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry say that Russia is wary of the Geneva meeting and that Russia wants to derail it, do not believe them because this is not true," he said at a press conference after talks with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi.

"Furthermore, you should not believe statements made by the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry alleging that this meeting is not expected to address the internal Ukrainian crisis, but, instead, will allegedly center on steps that the Russian Federation should take. It is a blatant lie. We will gather there in order to discuss the Ukrainian crisis," Lavrov said.
Gold Coins

Moving towards a multipolar world: BRICS countries to set up their own IMF

© Shutterstock
The BRICS countries have already agreed on the amount of authorized capital for the new institutions: $100 billion each
Very soon, the IMF will cease to be the world's only organization capable of rendering international financial assistance. The BRICS countries are setting up alternative institutions, including a currency reserve pool and a development bank.

The BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) have made significant progress in setting up structures that would serve as an alternative to the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, which are dominated by the U.S. and the EU. A currency reserve pool, as a replacement for the IMF, and a BRICS development bank, as a replacement for the World Bank, will begin operating as soon as in 2015, Russian Ambassador at Large Vadim Lukov has said.

Brazil has already drafted a charter for the BRICS Development Bank, while Russia is drawing up intergovernmental agreements on setting the bank up, he added.
Cell Phone

Ukraine: Psychopath Obama warns Putin as armed separatists seize more buildings in eastern Ukraine

© Kommersant via Getty Images
Ukrainian troops ride tanks on the way toward Slovyanks on Monday where pro-Russian activists are occupying buildings
Barack Obama has told his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in a tense phone call that Moscow would face further costs for its actions in Ukraine and should use its influence to get separatists in the country to stand down.

Armed pro-Russian separatists seized more buildings in eastern Ukraine earlier in the day, expanding their control after the government failed to follow through on a threatened military crackdown.

In a call on Monday night that the White House said Moscow requested, the US president told Putin that those forces were threatening to undermine and destabilise the government in Kiev.

"The president emphasised that all irregular forces in the country need to lay down their arms, and he urged president Putin to use his influence with these armed, pro-Russian groups to convince them to depart the buildings they have seized," the White House said in a statement.
Cut

Is austerity already killing people?

In early 1953 something happened which is uncannily similar to what is happening today. In the 4 months December 1952 to March 1953 when Greater London was shrouded in thick smog, some 12,000 people died. In 1 week alone 4,703 died, more than 2.5 times the number who died in the same week the previous year. When this impact of air pollution was raised in Parliament, Macmillan, the housing minister, averse to spending more on smokeless fuel for the poor at a time of austerity, dodged the question by setting up an official government inquiry. This duly, and very conveniently for the government, reported that influenza had caused all the excess winter deaths.

Fast forward to 2012. Public Health England reported that death rates, already unusually high during 2012, continues to rise in 2013. The report states that the number of excess deaths in England in 2012-3 had been 23,400 (5%) above ONS expectations. When this was leaked, the Public Health England official with the Orwellian title of 'chief knowledge officer' put out a public statement that "the temporal coincidence with influenza across the UK and Europe suggests that influenza has contributed significantly", and he added that it was "a major explanatory factor".
Snakes in Suits

Don't be nostalgic about Tony Blair; his effect on Britain and beyond was toxic

© Mark Thomas/Rex Features
Tony Blair has refused to apologise for the Iraq war, and periodically pops up to argue that he was right all along
Zoe Williams wants us to get nostalgic about Blairism. But in her attempt to defend Tony Blair's record she badly misjudges the significance of the Iraq war. By any standards, Iraq was a catastrophe. The most recent study suggests nearly half a million people were killed as a result of a western military operation that tore up the fabric of a modern society and divided its people. By rights, no politician intimately responsible for such a cataclysm should survive with any kind of reputation intact. A criminal process is entirely appropriate.

But the Iraq war was more than a disaster in itself. It was a signifier of new and disturbing times. It wasn't an isolated blunder; it marked the moment when the wider population became fully aware of a new foreign policy posture, developed in Washington, enabled and encouraged by Blair himself. The parody of Blair as US poodle diminishes his role in history. He chafed at Bill Clinton's hesitancy to bomb Serbia in 1999 and secretly reassured the Bush administration that it would not be alone in the illegal pursuit of regime change in Iraq as early as May 2002. The attack on Libya in 2011, government enthusiasm for a new bombing campaign against Syria last year, and the current sabre rattling against Russia show that the spirit of the ethics-led aggression Blair championed lives on. Thankfully, it is a deeply unpopular impulse, with substantial majorities calling for an end to foreign military adventures and massive defence spending.
Syringe

Scientists say UK wasted £560m on flu drugs that are not proven

© Bloomberg/Getty
Roche HQ: the company disputes a report by independent scientists questioning the effectiveness of Tamiflu
The government has wasted half a billion pounds stockpiling two anti-flu drugs that have not been proved to stop the spread of infection or to prevent people becoming seriously ill, according to a team of scientists who have analysed the full clinical trials data, obtained after a four-year fight.

The government has spent £424m buying stocks of Tamiflu and £136m on Relenza in case of a flu pandemic. During the swine flu outbreak of 2009, the World Health Organisation recommended that all countries should stock up on supplies.

But the Cochrane Collaboration, a group of independent scientists who investigate the effectiveness of medicines, says that the best Tamiflu can do is shorten a bout of flu by approximately half a day - from around seven to 6.3 days.

Comment: Tamiflu Anti-Viral Drug Revealed as Hoax: Roche Studies Based on Scientific Fraud
Tamiflu Vaccine Linked With Convulsions, Delirium and Bizarre Deaths
Side effects from Tamiflu are worse than the flu

USA

Oligarchy, not democracy: Americans have 'near-zero' input on policy - report

© Reuters / Amr Abdallah Dalsh
The first-ever scientific study that analyzes whether the US is a democracy, rather than an oligarchy, found the majority of the American public has a "minuscule, near-zero, statistically non-significant impact upon public policy" compared to the wealthy.

The study, due out in the Fall 2014 issue of the academic journal Perspectives on Politics, sets out to answer elusive questions about who really rules in the United States. The researchers measured key variables for 1,779 policy issues within a single statistical model in an unprecedented attempt "to test these contrasting theoretical predictions" - i.e. whether the US sets policy democratically or the process is dominated by economic elites, or some combination of both.

"Despite the seemingly strong empirical support in previous studies for theories of majoritarian democracy, our analyses suggest that majorities of the American public actually have little influence over the policies our government adopts," the researchers from Princeton University and Northwestern University wrote.
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