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Thu, 21 Sep 2017
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Internal NSA documents: Eavesdropping in Ethiopia, directing drones in the Middle East, and much more

© J. Scott Applewhite/AP
NSA agents successfully targeted "the entire business chain" connecting foreign cafes to the internet, bragged about an "all-out effort" to spy on liberated Iraq, and began systematically trying to break into virtual private networks, according to a set of internal agency news reports dating to the first half of 2005.

British spies, meanwhile, were made to begin providing new details about their informants via a system of "Intelligence Source Descriptors" created in response to intelligence failures in Iraq. Hungary and the Czech Republic pulled closer to the National Security Agency.

And future Intercept backer Pierre Omidyar visited NSA headquarters for an internal conference panel on "human networking" and open-source intelligence.

These stories and more are contained in a batch of 294 articles from SIDtoday, the internal news website of the NSA's core Signals Intelligence Directorate. The Intercept is publishing the articles in redacted form as part of an ongoing project to release material from the files provided by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.

In addition to the aforementioned highlights, summarized in further detail below, the documents show how the NSA greatly expanded a secret eavesdropping partnership with Ethiopia's draconian security forces in the Horn of Africa, as detailed in an investigation by longtime Intercept contributor Nick Turse. They describe the NSA's operations at a base in Digby, England, where the agency worked with its British counterpart GCHQ to help direct drones in the Middle East and tap into communications through the Arab Spring uprisings, according to a separate article by Intercept reporter Ryan Gallagher. And they show how the NSA and GCHQ thwarted encryption systems used to protect peer-to-peer file sharing through the apps Kazaa and eDonkey, as explained here by Intercept technologist Micah Lee.

NSA did not comment for this article.

Mr. Potato

Nutcase Newt Gingrich: Trump can attack Russia quickly and decisively

If Donald Trump decides to attack Russia, he will do it more decisively than any other US president would.

This statement comes from the conference of "Yalta International Strategy" in Kiev, by Speaker of the US Congress Newt Gingrich.

"There will be consensus and people will understand that Russia is not a neighbor who has a different point of view, but an enemy. And you need to resist it. The category of people around whom Trump surrounds himself, if they plan an attack, it will be very decisive. Trump is by nature very aggressive. If he comes to the conclusion that it is necessary to limit Putin, he will take greater risks than any other American politician, "Gingrich said.

He predicted the withdrawal of Russia first from the Donbass, and then from the Crimea.

Comment: Sending weapons to Kiev and sanctioning Russia hasn't worked thus far, so it's unlikely that more of the same will produce anything different.


Iranian Army commander Abdolrahim Mousavi vows to raze 2 Israeli cities to the ground if it makes 'tiniest' mistake

© Atta Kenare / AFP
A military truck carries Sejil medium-range missile
An Iranian Army commander warns that Tehran will raze Tel Aviv and Haifa to the ground if Israel makes any mistake, local media report. The commander also said Israel will not last longer than 25 years.

Major General Abdolrahim Mousavi, who became commander-in-chief of the Islamic Republic of Iran Army (AJA) in August this year, said on Monday that Israel may exist for a maximum of 25 more years, as cited by Tasnim news agency.

Comment: See also: Khamenei warns US that Iran will 'react strongly' to any wrong moves over nuclear deal


"A beautiful lush country with warm, friendly people": What we saw in North Korea defies everything Western media wants you to believe

© Prof. Tim Anderson
A boy gets a cranial scan by a German CT scan machine. All such treatment is free, but purchase of these machines is now blocked by western sanctions.
In the current stand off between Washington and North Korea, western governments and media almost invariably present the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea (North Korea) as a crazed aggressor.

Yet the recent confrontation comes 72 years after Roosevelt and Stalin divided the colonised Korean people at the 38th parallel, and 60 years after the US brought nuclear weapons to the peninsula. The US military still occupies southern Korea and, in the current climate, the reunification summits of 2000 and 2007 seem a distant memory.

Rarely do we listen to the North Korean side. Yet it should be no surprise that they have a distinct perspective on the successive Japanese and American attacks, invasions and occupations that have defined their past century. Even when UN commissioned 'human rights' reports are prepared, it is not thought necessary to get the North Korean view, or even to visit the country.

Popular western history blames North Korea for starting the Korean war (1950-53). By this story the US is said to have intervened (killing more than 4 million, according to the DPRK) to 'protect' South Korea from 'communist aggression'.

Comment: Eva Bartlett: Photos from a week in the DPRK
Please bear in mind that this country is among the most vilified on earth - along with Syria and formerly (now-destroyed) Libya, to name a few. Western media does not speak of North Korea's people, nor of the amazing infrastructure, free housing and medical care, impressive agriculture and green energy, and the many things the people of the DPRK have done so well.


President Putin arrives at the Zapad 2017 war games which triggered wave of hysteria in the West

© Sputnik
President Vladimir Putin seen while surveying the Russia and Belarus Union State armed forces activities at the main stage of the joint strategic exercises "Zapad-2017" on the Luzhsky range, September 18, 2017
Russian President Putin is touring a Leningrad region military range where Belarusian troops are being hosted for the Zapad 2017 drills - criticized by some neighboring countries despite Moscow and Minsk's transparency and invitations given to observers.

The exercises began last week at several locations in Russia and Belarus and will be conducted until Wednesday. Russia sent around 3,000 troops to neighboring Belarus, where they are training at six locations along with 7,000 soldiers and officers of the host nation. Russia welcomed Belarusian troops at three sites, including the Luzhsky range in Leningrad region.

Less than 13,000 troops are taking part in the exercise in total, according to figures from the defense ministries of Russia and Belarus. Around 70 aircraft, 680 armored vehicles, including 250 tanks, 200 artillery guns, and 10 warships have been deployed by the two nations.

The two nations are working on coordination and interoperability of its troops in joint operations. Both stressed that the drill is meant to be purely defensive. They also invited some 90 foreign observers from 60 countries to monitor the exercise.

The stage of the war games that Putin observed on Monday included a simulated cross-border incursion of insurgents who, according to the scenario, hijacked a large number of small planes and drones and tried to use them to attack targets in Russia. Russian and Belarusian troops used Pantsir-S1 and Tunguska air defense systems to take out the improvised enemy air attack. Tanks supported by artillery and aircraft launched an attack on the hundreds-strong groups of militants while a group of airdropped paratroopers prevented them from retreating.

Comment: See also: Russian MoD: Iskander-M missile system test-launched advanced rocket at maximum range


Russian MoD: Iskander-M missile system test-launched advanced rocket at maximum range

© Pavel Lisitsyn / Sputnik
Deployment of an Iskander-M tactical missile system
Russia's Iskander-M system has carried out a successful test-launch of its advanced missile at maxim range as part of the Zapad 2017 military exercises, the defense ministry said.

The test-launch was performed at the Kapustin Yar range in Russia's southern Astrakhan Region, the ministry said in statement.

"The increased capacity missile covered 480 kilometers and successfully hit its target at the Makat range [in Kazakhstan]," the statement read.

Comment: See also: Sweden and NATO allies launch biggest military exercise in 23 years amid 'Russian threat'


How Hillary lost the Midwest: Democrats weigh in

The 2016 presidential election is more than 10 months old, but Hillary Clinton is still in denial about how she lost it.

In her new book, What Happened, Clinton is unsparing in her criticism of her vanquisher, Donald Trump, and blames a host of people for her historic loss, including primary foe Bernie Sanders, former FBI Director James Comey, former Vice President Joe Biden, former President Barack Obama, and even the media.

One thing Clinton doesn't blame is her own campaign strategy, particularly her campaign's approach to the Midwest. "Some critics have said that everything hinged on me not campaigning enough in the Midwest," she writes. "And I suppose it is possible that a few more trips to Saginaw or a few more ads on the air in Waukesha could have tipped a couple of thousand voters here or there."

Clinton writes that her campaign was fully aware that winning the industrial Midwest was crucial for her, and that she in fact didn't ignore those states.

I've spent the last three months living in and reporting from four crucial counties in Iowa, Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania for The Race To 2020. All four counties voted for Obama and then flipped to Trump. Clinton's dismissive comments contradicted much of what I've been hearing, so I reached out to Democratic leaders in those counties to get their reactions.

Comment: Her book is little more than a written temper tantrum.


5th time's the charm? Hamas-Fatah approach talks to dissolve Gaza government and hold elections

© telesurtv.net
Hamas, which governs Gaza, says it is ready to begin talks with the Abbas administration to dissolve its administrative committee and hold an election as part of a deal brokered by Egypt. A Fatah official called the statement "positive and promising."

In a statement posted on its website, Hamas has invited rival Fatah government for talks "in response to the generous efforts of Egypt... to achieve Palestinian reconciliation and end the division."

As a step aimed at achieving national unity, the group, considered terrorist by Israel and some other states, has "invited the reconciliation government to come to the Gaza Strip to exercise its functions and carry out its duties," the statement says.

Hamas also expressed a readiness to restart dialogue with the Palestinian Authority without preconditions to form a unity government and fully implement the 2011 Cairo Agreement.

Comment: During the last talks go-round, Israel responded by bombing Gaza and killing civilians.

See also: Israel halts peace talks over Palestinian reconciliation deal


The Art of the Deal: Iran-style

Tehran busy signing massive infrastructure deals with China's CITIC and European partners

As President Hasan Rouhani prepares to address the UN General Assembly in New York and the Trump administration and allies relentlessly lobby for the Iran nuclear deal to be decertified, Tehran is busy clinching deal after deal with Asians and Europeans.

For the Chinese government, Iran - and Pakistan - are so geopolitically important that they are treated as Home Affairs nations in East Asia (and not the Middle East, in the case of Iran), alongside Japan and Indonesia.

And just like Pakistan via the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), Iran is an essential node of the New Silk Roads, a.k.a. Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

For Tehran, Beijing is a major player in international trade/finance. At the Belt and Road forum in Beijing in May, Iran's Economic Affairs and Finance Minister Ali Tayyebnia extensively discussed deals with Chinese Finance Minister Xiao Jie. Chinese companies in construction and energy infrastructure equipment - as well as in steel and chemicals - are present all over Iran.

Enter the deal just signed between China's CITIC and a consortium of Iranian banks worth $10 billion in loans.



Gab AI, Inc. files lawsuit, declares war on Google

© webbuzz.com.au
Free speech social media site Gab AI, Inc. filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania against Google for violations of the Clayton Act and Sherman Act. The lawsuit stems from Google removing Gab from its Google Play Android app store on spurious grounds of "hate speech" arising from posts by users.

Google did not accuse Gab of hate speech, but used third party content as a pretext to justify its own business ends. Gab, a startup, aims to bring "folks together of all races, religions, and creeds who share in the common ideals of Western values, individual liberty and the free exchange and flow of information."

According to Gab's attorney, Marc Randazza, Google's conduct is a straightforward violation of the antitrust laws "Google Play and Android have monopoly power in the app store market, and Google's apps YouTube and Google+ compete directly against Gab. Google's intimate partnership with Twitter, which also competes against Gab, makes Google's control of all Android apps available through the Play Store a serious restraint of trade issue."

Randazza noted, "regardless of Google's pretextual justification for removing Gab, the effect is that they used their monopoly power in the app store to block an upstart competitor it in the social media app market, to the detriment of millions of consumers who value free speech."

Comment: Google has become a despicable interface for the PTB, too big and powerful to be touched.