A US federal court has just struck down the NSA's bulk metadata spying program. Quotations from the Memorandum Opinion [external PDF]:
"The Government does not cite a single instance in which analysis of the NSA’s bulk metadata collection actually stopped an imminent attack, or otherwise aided the Government in achieving any objective that was time-sensitive in nature."
"There is no indication that these revelations were immediately useful or that they prevented an impending attack."
"I have serious doubts about the efficacy of the metadata collection program as a means of conducting time-sensitive investigations in cases involving imminent threats of terrorism."
"The Fourth Amendment typically requires "a neutral and detached authority be interposed between the police and the public," and it is offended by "general warrants" and laws that allow searches to be conducted "indiscriminately and without regard to their connection with [a] crime under investigation." "
"I cannot imagine a more "indiscriminate" and "arbitrary invasion" than this systematic and high-tech collection and retention of personal data on virtually every single citizen for purposes of querying and analyzing it without prior judicial approval. Surely, such a program infringes on "that degree of privacy" that the Founders enshrined in the Fourth Amendment. Indeed, I have little doubt that the author of our Constitution, James Madison, who cautioned us to beware "the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power," would be aghast."
Kevin Ryan, who was fired from his job as Site Manager at Underwriters Laboratories for publicly challenging the US Government’s investigation into the WTC tragedy, comments on The Wall Street Journal's recent coverage of the arrest of Terry Lee Loewen. That a Wichita avionics specialist, described by his neighbours as "normal", and by his ex-wife as "peaceful" and "easy-going" and as a man who "didn’t like confrontation", should convert to jihadist Islam (about six months ago) and then spend all his free time preparing to be a "lone wolf" suicide bomber for the sake of "Muslim brothers and sisters" whom he had never met, and apparently without the knowledge of his family, Kevin Ryan finds pretty difficult to believe. He concludes:
"If we can learn anything from the incident it is that the next terrorist could be anybody—you, your father, your neighbor—anyone at all.
And there won’t necessarily be any signs other than what the FBI provides about internet activity."
Washington's Blog reports that Japan is falling back into fascism after 68 years. Reflecting the outrage of thousands of protesters outside the Diet building in Tokyo, oppostion lawmaker Hirokazu Shiba was heard to shout during Thursday's committee meeting: "This is the way the reign of terror begins!" The Secrecy Bill, which, according to the Guardian, could see whistleblowers and journalists in Japan being given long prison sentences for revealing "state secrets", has prompted one senator to remark:
According to Bloomberg's William Pesek, Shigeru Ishiba, the Japanese governing Liberal Democratic Party's Secretary-General, wrote in a blog post that the act of challenging the Bill should be likened to "an act of terrorism."
Madison Ruppert: "British MPs highlight Christianity as 'the most persecuted religion globally' ", EndTheLie.com, 05 December 2013.
During a three-hour debate in The House of Commons on Wednesday, UK Members of Parliament heard that every eleven minutes, somewhere in the world, a Christian is being killed. According to Christian Today, MP Stephen Pound remarked that it is "beyond doubt … [that] Christians are the most persecuted single group in the world today on grounds of religion", and MP Jim Shannon, that the persecution of Christians around the globe is "the biggest story in the world that has never been told." Shannon added that, this year alone, 200 million Christians will be targets for persecution, and that 500 million live in "dangerous neighbourhoods."
Kevin Ryan, who was fired from his job as Site Manager at Underwriters Laboratories for publicly challenging the US Government’s investigation into the WTC tragedy, takes issue with recent comments made by MIT professor Noam Chomsky at the University of Florida. In response to Chomsky's claims - for instance, that only "a miniscule number of architects and engineers" are sceptical about the official account of WTC7's fall, and that "a tiny number—a couple of them—are perfectly serious" - Kevin Ryan points up example after example the ways in which Chomsky, the celebrated public intellectual, seems to be ignoring the evidence and belittling those who question 9/11.
In this fascinating video - a little under three minutes in length - we see footage of JFK's Secret Service agents apparently being instructed to abandon the president's car prior to the assassination. Particularly striking is the reaction of the agent on the right: his behaviour seems to indicate that he simply cannot understand what's going on.
Hot off the press! Conspiracy theorists working at the highest levels of the US Government say they believe President John F. Kennedy was shot as the result of a conspiracy. In an amazing admission of tin-foil-hat wearing hysteria, they state:
"The Committee believes, on the basis of the evidence available to it, that President John F. Kennedy was probably assassinated as a result of a conspiracy." *
Not content with this level of irrationality, the committee also concludes:
"The committee conducted a three-pronged investigation of conspiracy in the Kennedy assassination. On the basis of extensive scientific analysis and an analysis of the testimony of Dealey Plaza witnesses, the committee found there was a high probability that two gunmen fired at President Kennedy." *
What next? While it's a relief that the Committee didn't go down the route of blaming the Secret Service, FBI or CIA - each one a favourite target for conspiracy theorist paranoia - one cannot help wonder what they'll come out with next! Perhaps their second gunman will turn our to be Buddy Holly! Or the Yeti on a sightseeing trip from the Himalayas! Only time will tell.
According to Soeren Kern, the European Parliament is considering a proposal that could lead to EU citizens being surveilled for being "intolerant." The proposal, drafted by the Paris-based NGO 'European Council on Tolerance and Reconciliation', calls for governments, groups and individuals to be "tolerant", where "tolerance" means something as vague as "respect for and acceptance of the expression, preservation and development of the distinct identity of a group." According to Section 7, even acts such as "holding to ridicule" a group, or persons belonging to a group, shall be "regarded as criminal offences punishable as aggravated crimes." And Sections 8 and 9 call for governments to introduce measures to ensure that their entire education systems and media conform to such politically-correct standards.
But, as European Dignity Watch warns, if this were implemented, it could lead to the downward-spiralling disappearance of our fundamental right to feedom of expression as "individuals and groups... censor themselves, afraid that they might be prosecuted for expressing their own personal moral views."
Jonathan Turley, a top US expert on constitutional law and legal theory, writes with great concern about how easily the UK authorities have slipped into categorising David Miranda's carrying of documents from Edward Snowden as "fall[ing] within the definition of terrorism." The West is on a "slippery slope", he writes; "[U]nder this definition, the Pentagon Papers could be treated as the same act as the 9-11 bombings."
At a moment like this, let's pause to recall the often-quoted words of Pastor Martin Niemöller; but let's have them in the German this time...
For questioning the Governing Body of the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society (Jehovah's Witnesses), Rick Gonzalez now has to put up with being shunned by members of his family. A photograph on the blog says it all: his eighty-year-old father will no longer sit at the same table to eat with him and his four-year-old grandson because "the organization says so."
"He feels he has to suffer through this intuitively wrong act to be loyal to what he thinks is "God’s organization" ", explains Gonzalez, but this shunning doctrine is affecting the whole family, and even damaging innocent children who have "no dog in the fight."
A US 'War on Terror' drone targets and kills a 67-year-old midwife and grandmother of nine while she tends her garden in Waziristan. Her daughter, whose three children were also injured in the October 2012 attack, would really rather like to know why. Did she pose a threat to the US?
Dr. Roberts warns that 2014 may well be the year in which the US economy - mishandled by a "neoconized and corrupted Washington" - takes a nosedive into economic emergency measures. Most likely, in order to keep afloat the destined-to-sink US economy, the working and middle classes will be plundered - not the 1% whose assets are secured offshore - leading to a break-down of social cohesion.
Then, says Dr. Roberts, the US people will "know why Homeland Security purchased 1.6 billion rounds of ammunition... has its own para-military force and 2,700 tanks. If you think the 'terrorist threat' in America warrants a domestic armed force of this size, you are out of your mind. This force has been assembled to deal with starving and homeless people in the streets of America."
BBC Newsnight: "Edward Snowden debate and Kirsty Wark interviews Glenn Greenwald", "BBC Newsnight" YouTube Channel, 5 October 2013.
Glenn Greenwald responds with impeccable logic and clarity to the biased, pro-Big-Brother-establishment questionings of BBC Newsnight "journalist" Kirsty Wark. In fact, he wipes the floor with her. As a UK citizen, I have to say it's pretty depressing to see such a display as hers. But then, as Noam Chomsky points out, people like this get to where they are precisely because they think the 'right' thoughts; those who think for themselves stay pushing the tea trolleys around the BBC studios. And, if we ever wanted an example of how the BBC is most definitely not the impartial and independent organisation it claims - and is widely celebrated - to be, this is it.
Seymour Hersh doesn't believe it either. In his opinion the claimed raid on Osama bin Laden's supposed "compound" by Navy SEALS in 2011 is "one big lie, not one word of it is true." And as for the "independent" report by a Pakstani commission on Osama's life in Abottabad: "it was done with considerable American input. It's a ******** report."
What's new about Zero Hours Contracts here in the UK? Nothing, writes this contributor to the WideShut website. Weavers in the early 19th Century were the victims of a 'beggar-your-neighbour' economic system in which unbridled competition to drive down wage costs led to irregular, underpaid and grotesquely subservient employment. But, warns the writer, in case we should think that only the Few shall be affected by the Zero Hour culture...
Dr. Roberts reposts a translation that he made available of a Pakistani National TV interview with an eyewitness to the alleged SEAL Team Six attack that allegedly killed Osama bin Laden. The interview with Muhammad Bashir, who lives next door to OBL's alleged "compound", differs substantially from the Obama administration's story. An update follows, in which Dr. Roberts lists the many reasons why he finds the whole OBL Raid story utterly unbelievable.