Dec 10, 2014

Die Linke's Sahra Wagenknecht slams Merkel in Bundestag for being US stooge [video]

Sarah Wagenknecht speech in Bundenstag targets Merkel

In a powerful Bundestag speech, Deputy Chair of the German Die Linke (Left Party), Sahra Wagenknecht, accused Angela Merkel of being an enabler of US interests, to the detriment of Germany and the EU.

Wagenknecht called into question Merkel's position on "spheres of influence" and international law, citing numerous instances in the course of which Merkel's great ally the United States has trampled over international law... Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya... to name a few.

The indented excerpts beneath are from Wagenknecht's speech. They are taken from the English translation that accompanies the video.

In your speech in Sydney Ms Merkel you are terribly outraged by the fact that 25 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall there continues to exist an old way of thinking of "spheres of influence" which tramples on international law... That begs the question: "Mrs Merkel, where on earth do you live? And where have you been living for the past 25 years? Where were you when the United States trampled international law in Iraq, to expand its sphere of influence over Iraqi oil? Where were you, when with Germany's participation international law in Afghanistan was and is being trampled? Where were you when Libya was bombed... when the Syrian opposition was armed and affiliated with ISIS after weapons deliveries? Was all that in your opinion, in accordance with international law?"

Wagenknecht made direct reference to Zbigniew Brzezinski's book The Grand Chessboard: the primacy of America and its Geostrategic Imperatives which she characterized as an old way of thinking about spheres of influence. She accused Merkel of being an instrument for the furtherment of these US-driven geostrategic designs.

With regard to Europe, Brzezinski argues for a decisive NATO expansion eastward: first in Central Europe, then in the South, then in the Baltic States and, finally, in the Ukraine. Because as the author [Brzezinski] convincingly justifies: "every step of expansion automatically expands the immediate sphere of influence of the United States." This is an old way of thinking in terms of "spheres of influence" which was very successfully implemented, and you really, never, ever noticed it Mrs Merkel? On the contrary, you belonged to those who further implemented and supported that in Europe! You were just one of the "vassals" to use Brzezinski's words, which endorsed this strategy.

Mrs Merkel, now you've driven Germany to a renewed "Cold War" with Russia, poisoned the political climate and jeopardized peace in Europe. You have instigated a senseless economic war, which massively harms primarily the German and European economy. You are warning us of fire, Mrs Merkel, but you are one of those who are running around with lighted matches.

On Ukraine, Wagenknecht made explicit reference to the Nazi presence in Kiev's police and security apparatus and pointed to the brutal policies directed at the pro-Russian people of eastern Ukraine.

In Ukraine you cooperate with a regime, in which the important functions of the police and security services are occupied by recognized Nazis! President Poroshenko talks of "total war." He stopped all payments to pensioners and hospitals in eastern Ukraine! And for prime minister Yatsenyuk the insurgents are, quote, "creatures that must be destroyed." Instead of working with these thugs, we finally again need a German foreign policy in which security and peace is more important than the instructions from Washington.

Video link beneath. For non-German speakers click "CC" on toolbar to get English subtitles.

Dec 5, 2014

RCMP backtracking on release of video by Ottawa shooter Zehaf-Bibeau reeks of political influence

RCMP - Zehaf-Bibeau video

After we were told the video made by Ottawa shooter Michael Zehaf-Bibeau would be made available to the public, the RCMP has changed its mind, or had it changed for them. RCMP commissioner Bob Paulson wasn't exactly clear on the specifics. He said there may be a release of "some aspects of a transcript of the video"... whatever that means.

Given the terrorist narrative favored by the government and also by the police, how can the public be sure that 'aspects of the transcript' aren't cherry picked to reenforce the preferred narrative. Surely the honest and transparent thing to do would be to release the video for the public to make its own judgment or alternatively release the entire transcript, rather than "aspects" of it. If as some claim, there are concerns about the video being exploited in some way for jihadi propaganda, the odds of that happening would be diminished considerably if a transcript was involved - cop out though that would still be - because there is no compelling reason to sit on the video.

There are any number of jihad-inspired videos in circulation that glorify jihad and attack the West... lots of audio-visual incentive out there for anyone influenced by such material. The release of Zehaf-Bibeau's video - assuming it contains any such content - would not likely make a substantial difference one way or another.

In giving reasons for withholding the video, Paulson also made vague allusions to "some sort of court process." But given what we know this doesn't add up. Zehaf-Bibeau is dead and there were no known accomplices.

The decision to withhold the video seems to be more about political calculations. Perhaps Harper is concerned that the video's contents might in some way influence public opinion about Canada's involvement in the US-led war in the Middle East... part of the government's deeply misguided foreign policy agenda.

On the other hand if Zehaf-Bibeau's video plays into the terrorist narrative, which we were led to believe was the case, you would think the authorities would be keen to exploit it to publicly confirm their initial suspicions and allegations. The reluctance to go public suggests that all of its contents might not fit the bill when it comes to adding credence to the 'official narrative'... prompting perhaps the proposed limited release of "aspects" of the transcript. If and when the video is released down the road, will doubtless hinge on matters of political convenience.

There has been some debate in parliament about whether or not the term "terrorism" should be used in describing Zehaf-Bibeau's actions. But from the outset it was clear that the government was dead set on labeling it a "terrorist attack" despite information about Zehaf-Bibeau's past that indicate mental and emotional problems were a likely trigger.

Zehaf-Bibeau's mother, Susan Bibeau, who presumably knew her son better than most, denied that he was a terrorist acting "on behalf of some grand ideology or for a political motive." She said he felt "cornered" and "acted  in despair." She is also skeptical of the radicalization theory and said she believes "mental illness is at the center of this tragedy."

According to a recent poll Susan Bibeau's view is shared by a high percentage of Canadians ... while 36% describe the shooting as a "terrorist attack" 38% believe mental illness played a part in it.

Although the Harper government has been careful not to appear to be chaffing at the bit to beef up enforcement powers in the wake of the attack... given the reactionary right-wing nature of this government you can be sure it wants to extract as much mileage as possible from the incident. The wheels are apparently in motion.  On Monday a Commons committee passed Bill C-44 that hands additional powers to the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS). According to Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney, another bill is in the works that will boost law enforcement powers in the areas of surveillance, detention and arrest.

In the course of conjecturing out loud when and if the Zehaf-Bibeau video might see the light of day, RCMP chief Paulson wasn't big on specifics...  "I don’t know when it’s going to be released. It will certainly be released some day, but I would be a fool to say when it will be released."

Risk of 'accidental' nuclear war: Chomsky on the 'worst case scenario'

Chomsky on the threat of nuclear war

It's hard to imagine a scenario in which any world power would deliberately start a nuclear war given the dire consequence for the planet. Rational thinking and the will to survive prevents us from believing that any nation... any leader... could be crazy enough to intentionally unleash what could wind up being a terminal war of reciprocal destruction. But what is often overlooked is the increasing likelihood that a nuclear war might well be started by accident.

During a recent RT interview Noam Chomsky addressed this possibility:

The worst-case scenario, of course, would be a nuclear war, which would be terrible. Both states that initiate it will be wiped out by the consequences. That’s the worst-case. And it’s come ominously close several times in the past, dramatically close. And it could happen again, but not planned, but just by the accidental interactions that take place - that has almost happened. It’s worth remembering that just one century ago, the First World War broke out through a series of such accidental interchanges. The First World War was horrifying enough, but the current reenactment of it means the end of the human race.

Chomsky's reference to a nuclear war begun 'by accident' makes sense when you look at how this might come about. An escalation factor might be faulty intelligence, leading for example to a mistaken belief that the other side is planning an imminent nuclear strike. The decision may then be taken to use tactical nuclear weapons in order to seize first-strike advantage. Underlying intelligence failure of this sort could be a more general strategic misreading of the enemies' intent and other communications failures that fuel a pattern of escalation.

A report entitled Towards a Grand Strategy for an Uncertain World: Renewing Transatlantic Partnership lays out a new vision for the NATO alliance. It contains a number of statements that confirm the importance of nuclear weapons "in the quiver of escalation"... ostensibly to prevent "existential dangers." But in fact their use is also clearly about maintaining a winning edge however couched in the language of prevention, as this statement from the report suggests:  "What is needed is a policy of deterrence by proactive denial, in which preemption is a form of reaction when a threat is imminent, and prevention is the attempt to regain the initiative in order to end the conflict." Tactical nuclear weapons are very much a part of any so-called "proportional" response. This scenario opens the door for all kinds of potential disaster.

Tactical or non-strategic nuclear weapons are now part of the toolkit of the world's major militaries. These weapons can be calibrated to suit the challenges on hand. Variable yield allows operators to set the weapons' explosive power in consideration of target and conditions. Small-yield tactical nukes might encourage preemptive strikes especially if a conventional force is facing defeat. They may be used in other ways to seize the advantage. Under war conditions the step from tactical to strategic nuclear weapons might not be such a huge leap, especially on the part of a military staring down the barrel of defeat.

Bottom line, our continued use of these weapons raises the ante when it comes to the prospects of large scale nuclear war. Chomsky sums up the stark choice we face in this paragraph:

We can think back as far as 1955, when Bertrand Russell and Albert Einstein produced an appeal, a joint appeal to the people of the world, in which they said to all of us, you have a choice that is stark, unavoidable, the question is, will you eliminate war or will you eliminate human race? These are your choices.

Right now we are making bad choices. The provocations of the West in Eastern Europe and the expansion of NATO's reach to the borders of Russia is fraught with risks that can't be taken lightly. Chomsky rightly characterizes NATO as a "US-run intervention force."

The official mission of NATO became to control the international, the global energy system, pipelines. That means, to control the world. Of course, its [a] U.S.-run intervention force, as in Kosovo and Serbia in 1999 – it was a U.S.-run intervention force. That’s the new NATO and it did expand to Russian borders...

The demonization of Russia in Western media and the toxic cold war-like environment that is being whipped up is driven by geopolitical ambitions, energy and resource considerations and a very particular animus toward a major global power that is unwilling to alter its long held values and traditions. This offends some people, who over and above the larger geopolitical considerations, appear willing to risk heightening an already tense situation in the course of pressing a Western-centric rights agenda.

Dangerous logic

NATO - danger of nuclear weapons

New free security tool Detekt scans for hard-to-find surveillance spyware: just launched by Amnesty, EFF

anti-malware Detekt released by Amnesty and EFF

Activists, journalists or just the average concerned citizen who want to know if their computers and mobile devices are a target of unwanted surveillance now have access to a badly needed resource. A German security researcher named Claudio Guarnieri is behind a free new security tool named Detekt. It scans PCs and mobile devices for traces of surveillance spyware that everyday anti-malware programs are likely to miss.

According to Wired Guarnieri works with The Honeypot Project and Shadowserver Foundation developing open source tools.

Amnesty news describes what Detekt is and how it works:

Detekt is a free tool that scans your computer for traces of known surveillance spyware used by governments to target and monitor human rights defenders and journalists around the world. By alerting them to the fact that they are being spied on, they will have the opportunity to take precautions.

It was developed by security researchers and has been used to assist in Citizen Lab's investigations into government use of spyware against human rights defenders, journalists and activists as well as by security trainers to educate on the nature of targeted surveillance.

Amnesty International is partnering with Privacy International, Digitale Gesellschaft and the Electronic Frontier Foundation to release Detekt to the public for the first time.

The release of Detekt is certainly timely given the growing number of cyber threats. As this Guardian article reports the trade in surveillance technologies has shown massive growth over recent years. Surveillance software is being sold to governments and agencies that have no scruples about exploiting it in order to spy on PCs, email, text messages and phone calls of people on their watch list.

Wired UK quotes Marek Marczynski, head of security at Amnesty who had this to say about Detekt and the need for such a tool: "Governments are increasingly using dangerous and sophisticated technology that allows them to read activists and journalists' private emails and remotely turn on their computer's camera or microphone to secretly record their activities... Detekt is a simple tool that will alert activists to such intrusions so they can take action."

Detekt developer Claudio Guarnieri was part of a team that discovered that FinFisher surveillance spyware was showing up on the computers of government and law enforcement agencies worldwide. FinFisher command and control centers have been found in some 35 countries. Recently Wikileaks released copies of FinFisher software in order to further the effort of tech researchers in coming up with counter measures.

When it comes to comparisons between Detekt and commercial security software, Guarnieri is quoted in media reports saying: "Antivirus software is rigorously evaded every time this kind of spyware is released and used. We are using detection techniques that have proved to be successful up to this point, and the goal is to provide it to the public and have the quickest and largest adoption possible."

He went on to say: "I want to empower just about anyone, the ones that do not have resources to acquire noisy and intrusive security software and the ones that are perhaps even prevented from buying any due to economic embargoes... I'm not really interested in drawing a comparison with security vendors, they have a different audience and a different scope. I'm interested in empowering the people with a choice to opt out from surveillance. What companies are doing for profit does not interest me."

Amnesty International, Digitale Gesellschaft, Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and Privacy International are working together to get Detekt out to their networks.

If you would like to download the software and give it a try you can do so from resistsurveillance.org. When running Detekt disconnect from the internet and run the program as administrator.