Sunday, September 5, 2010

CIA money behind Wi-Fi Positioning System (WPS)

How amazing would it be if you could walk into McTaco King and order that mid-morning bacon taco meal with Mountain Dew Big Gulp from your mobile device?  Just imagine… as you approach the restaurant, a menu pops up on your screen, the phone makes suggestions and helps you super-size your order, before you even set foot in the restaurant!

This advertiser's wet dream is about to become reality, thanks to WPS (Wi-Fi Positioning System) infrastructure pioneered by CIA front company Skyhook (formerly Quarterscope) and currently being implemented by several other intelligence-connected companies, including Google, Apple, and Navizon (which is supplying data to Microsoft).

WPS geolocates wireless network devices using a database of known wireless access points, such as in coffee shops.  Since at least 2004, WPS companies like Skyhook and Google have been war-driving for access point data.  More about the technical aspects of this later.

How did you conclude that Skyhook is an intelligence front company?

Follow the money.

In 2008 former CIA director George Tenet became Managing Director of Allen & Company, an investment bank that provided funding for Skyhook's WPS development and Google's IPO (Initial Public Offering) in 2004, while he was still director of the CIA.

Skyhook was also funded by shadowy investment firm Alliance Capital.  Frank Savage, Alliance Capital's former board chairman, also served on the board of Lockheed Martin and Enron. Alliance was Enron's largest shareholder.

Regardless of where the seed money came from, you can now buy this WPS data commercially.  Intelligence agencies are putting a lot of effort into developing new tracking and identification technologies.  Once they turn these technologies loose on society, the corporations exploit them, resulting in even more personal data being exchanged on private networks, which intelligence agencies can snoop on at will with their NSA Internet vacuum cleaners.

~ more... ~

Middle East Loses Trillions As U.S. Strikes Record Arms Deals

The Internet has provided the world with, if nothing else, instantaneous access to news and in-depth information previously available only to governments and think tanks. It has also allowed for the exchange of data and analyses between groups and individuals around the globe, in part by making one tongue, English, the language of the World Wide Web. It remains to be seen whether the keystroke is mightier than the sword.

An illustrative case in point is an August 29 report from China's Xinhua News Agency on a news article by Egypt's Middle East News Agency regarding a study conducted by the Strategic Foresight Group in India. The latter, a report published in a book entitled The Cost of Conflict in the Middle East, calculates that conflict in the area over the last 20 years has cost the nations and people of the region 12 trillion U.S. dollars.

The Indian report adds that the Middle East has recorded “a high record of military expenses in the past 20 years and is considered the most armed region in the world.” [1]

The study was originally released in January of 2009 and was recently translated into Arabic by the Institute for Peace Studies of Egypt. It estimates that in a peaceful environment the nations of the Middle East could have achieved an average annual growth in gross domestic product of 8 percent.

Sundeep Waslekar, president of the Strategic Foresight Group and one of the report's authors, was quoted in January of last year saying of the region's nations, “The choice they have to make is the choice between the danger of devastation and the promise of peace.” [2]

An account of the presentation of the report last year added that the cost of conflict in the region is estimated at 2 percent of growth in gross domestic product.

In regards to specific cases, it stated:

“One conclusion is that individuals in most countries are half as rich as they would have been if peace had taken off in 1991.

~ more... ~

According to my supervisor, there are no such things as portals

The latest hillarious e-mail exchange from David Thorne:

Usually when I get a bill, I put it on top of the fridge figuring that if it isn't red then it isn't interesting enough to be opened. Other times, I grab the mail on my way out and open it while waiting at traffic lights - as was the case with this electricity bill for $766.05. It is not the largest bill I have ever received but it was enough to make me do one of those double takes like you see in cartoons and break out in a sweat.

My first thought was to move and change my name...

...Update: Received a revised account for the amount of $247.34

[ ... ]

From: Allison Hayes
Date: Tuesday 17 August 2010 3.19pm
To: David Thorne
Subject: Re: Re: Re: Re: Ref. 28941739

Hello David

The amount of $766.05 is calculated from the meter reading. While I understand your frustration with the automated phone system, we are not able to deal with account enquiries via email and according to my supervisor there are no such things as portals so I've no idea why you are sending me pictures of them.

Sincerely, Allison Hayes

From: David Thorne
Date: Tuesday 17 August 2010 4.05pm
To: Allison Hayes
Subject: Snap

Hello Allison,
I am not questioning the calculation, I am questioning the number the calculation is based on. If you accepted cows as payment and I owned two cows worth forty dollars each but counted them incorrectly, lost one in a dark forest and sent you the remaining twenty, would you come out thirty three dollars and ninety five cents ahead and call it a perk or have one cow?

Perks are actually one of the only reasons I still bother to turn up for work. While my co-workers are in meetings discussing why the business is going bankrupt, I put office supplies in the boot of my car.

As every meter reading for the last two years at this address has been under two hundred dollars, rather than pay you $766.05, I would prefer to spend that amount on thirty eight pizzas, ensuring sufficient fat reserves to survive having the heat turned off, or have my apartment lined with polyester socks and wear a suit made out of carpet - possibly generating enough power to start my own grid company. I would then construct a number, calculate an amount based on this and send out accounts stating that the amount is based on a number and is therefore mathematically correct. If anyone questioned the basis of the number the amount is calculated from, I would simply declare "I have the power" and point out the scientific implausibility of their experiments, forcing them to investigate other, more viable, designs.

Regards, David.

~ more... ~

The revolution will be civilised

... In the daily consciousness-raising workshops, it becomes clear that the ideology of Climate Camp is impressively nuanced and uncompromising.

“You can't just stand around and shout: 'The system is fucked,'" says Sam, a shy 20-year-old who peers at the world from underneath a floppy fringe. "That's not politics, that's the absence of politics. We need to keep re-examining the interactions of money and power that brought us to this situation."

Climate Camp is ostensibly as much about anti-capitalism as environmentalism; RBS, which has bankrolled fossil-fuel extraction and is now under public ownership, is being targeted to raise awareness of the links between the two. However, some of the younger campers, having come of age during the worst recession in living memory, feel that the narrative around climate change needs to be more revolutionary.

“Most governments and big businesses have now accepted that we need to tackle climate change," explains Sam, as we share a filthy roll-up and a surprisingly delicious plate of vegan mess. "For them, though, that's just about protecting private property. We have to get the message across that climate change is caused by capitalism -- and you can't fix one without fixing the other." Some of the protest stunts border on silly -- marching a papier-mâché pig full of oil through central Edinburgh, for instance -- but the daily life of Climate Camp is just as important as the direct action.

With gruesomely wholesome reclaimed toilets and chores distributed between all comers, this is more than a campsite -- it's a model community built on sustainability and a lack of hierarchy, and the campers are extremely serious about the praxis of the place. "I'm not just here to protest," says Annabel, a special-needs teacher working on site security. "I'm here to up-skill in tools I can use for life in a world without oil and hegemony."

These are kids who have grown up with structured after-school clubs, summer camps and activity goals -- and they are now applying that ethos of managed attainment to their own microcosmic utopia. They may have dreadlocks and may be wearing flowers in their hair but these are not the shambling activists of the 1960s. Everyone is sober and in bed by midnight, and there's no room for mucking about -- we've got to be up in time to save the world. ...

~ more... ~

EU austerity policies risk civil war in Greece, warns top German economist Dr Sinn

“This tragedy does not have a solution,” said Hans-Werner Sinn, head of the prestigious IFO Institute in Munich.

“The policy of forced 'internal devaluation', deflation, and depression could risk driving Greece to the edge of a civil war. It is impossible to cut wages and prices by 30pc without major riots,” he said, speaking at the elite European House Ambrosetti forum at Lake Como.

“Greece would have been bankrupt without the rescue measures. All the alternatives are terrible but the least terrible is for the country to get out of the eurozone, even if this kills the Greek banks,” he said.

Dr Sinn said Greece is an entirely different case from Spain and Portugal, which still have manageable public debts and can bring their public finances back into line with higher taxes.

“Greece would have defaulted in the period between April 28 and May 7, had the money not been promised by the European Union,” he said, describing the failure of the EU's bail-out strategy to include a haircut for the banks as an invitation to moral hazard.

~ more... ~

30 False Fronts Won Contracts for Blackwater

Blackwater Worldwide  created a web of more than 30 shell companies or subsidiaries in part to obtain millions of dollars in American government contracts after the security company came under intense criticism for reckless conduct in Iraq, according to Congressional investigators and former Blackwater officials.

While it is not clear how many of those businesses won contracts, at least three had deals with the United States military or the Central Intelligence Agency, according to former government and company officials. Since 2001, the intelligence agency has awarded up to $600 million in classified contracts to Blackwater and its affiliates, according to a United States government official.

The Senate Armed Services Committee this week released a chart that identified 31 affiliates of Blackwater, now known as Xe Services. The network was disclosed as part of a committee's investigation into government contracting. The investigation revealed the lengths to which Blackwater went to continue winning contracts after Blackwater guards killed 17 Iraqi civilians in Baghdad in September 2007. That episode and other reports of abuses led to criminal and Congressional investigations, and cost the company its lucrative security contract with the State Department in Iraq.

The network of companies — which includes several businesses located in offshore tax havens — allowed Blackwater to obscure its involvement in government work from contracting officials or the public, and to assure a low profile for any of its classified activities, said former Blackwater officials, who, like the government officials, spoke only on condition of anonymity.

Senator Carl Levin, the Michigan Democrat who is chairman of the Armed Services Committee, said in a statement that it was worth “looking into why Blackwater would need to create the dozens of other names” and said he had requested that the Justice Department investigate whether Blackwater officers misled the government when using subsidiaries to solicit contracts.

The C.I.A.'s continuing relationship with the company, which recently was awarded a $100 million contract to provide security at agency bases in Afghanistan, has drawn harsh criticism from some members of Congress, who argue that the company's tarnished record should preclude it from such work. At least two of the Blackwater-affiliated companies, XPG and Greystone, obtained secret contracts from the agency, according to interviews with a half dozen former Blackwater officials.

~ more... ~

Mercenaries Aegis move 'to dodge taxes'

Human rights charity War on Want has hit out at reports that British mercenary firm Aegis has relocated its headquarters to Switzerland, allegedly to avoid paying tax.

Aegis Defence Services Ltd, one of the world's largest private security firms with a controversial history of alleged human rights abuses in Afghanistan and Iraq, has set up a holding company in the Swiss city of Basle.

Aegis, which was founded by retired lieutenant colonel Tim Spicer in 2002, was awarded one of the largest security contracts for Iraq by the US, valued at more than $430 million (£275m).

The firm continues to operate in Iraq and Afghanistan and posted a net profit of £10.1m last year.

In a statement the firm confirmed the move but said that "no business activities will be conducted in or from Switzerland."

Aegis claimed the relocation was motivated by Switzerland's "geographic location, accounting transparency and stable system of taxation." 

Local Swiss paper Basler Zeitung said it had seen documents showing that the firm's owners, including Mr Spicer, have swapped their shares for stakes in the Swiss-based holding company.

Both Spicer and Aegis Defence Systems have a chequered history. In 1992 two members of the Scots Guards under the command of Lt Col Spicer shot and killed Belfast teenager Peter McBride.

Mr McBride was unarmed and shot in the back. The version of events given by Spicer at the subsequent trial was described by the judge as "a concoction of lies."

~ more... ~

How real is the U.S. withdrawal from Iraq?

... However, many questions arise in the wake of the withdrawal. How should the pullout be interpreted, if not as the occupation entering its terminal phase? What are the facts on the ground, and what prospects do they hold for the future of Iraqis?

There are three significant markers that the Iraqi occupation is not ending and is being merely repackaged. First, the suggestion that the U.S. combat operations are ending is just not true. The nomenclature, however, has changed significantly. Instead of being called “combat operations,” the act of chasing militants, joint raids by U.S. Special Forces and their Iraqi counterparts on militant strongholds, and other offensive military tasks will henceforth be called “stability operations.”

In fact, the U.S. military officials in Iraq have surprisingly acknowledged that nothing on the ground, in terms of tactics, will change. Speaking recently to The New York Times, Maj. Gen. Stephen Lanza, chief U.S. military spokesman in Iraq, said: “In practical terms, nothing will change. We are already doing stability operations.”

Secondly, decision-makers in Washington have decided to keep 50,000 military personnel in Iraq till the end of next year. However, their withdrawal is not a certainty. This was acknowledged by Gen. Ray Odierno, top U.S. commander in Iraq, during an interview with CBS television: “If they [Iraqis] ask us that they might want us to stay longer, we certainly would consider that.”

Significantly, the Iraqi army chief, Lt. Gen. Babakar Zabari, has already called for an extension of the American military presence in the country. At a Baghdad conference, the Kurdish-origin General said, “The U.S. army must stay until the Iraqi army is fully ready in 2020.” The incumbent Prime Minister, Nouri Al- Maliki, however, later, firmly rejected the view.
Privatising occupation

Even if the Americans pull out the remaining 50,000 troops at the end of 2011, it will not mean that the Iraqis would be in charge of their security. On the contrary, the presence of security contractors, comprising a core element of mercenaries, is being beefed up and superimposed to safeguard U.S. interests. In other words, the process of privatising the U.S. occupation in Iraq through a mercenary “surge” is set to acquire momentum in the coming days and months.

Significantly, it is the U.S. State Department which is taking the lead in this exercise under cover of “diplomatic security.” It has argued that it needs personnel, equipment and related wherewithal to protect its diplomatic assets in Iraq. These include the gigantic embassy in Baghdad. Spread over 104 acres on the banks of the Tigris, it has 21 buildings, and is already the size of the Vatican. Then there are the “enduring presence posts” in the existing American military bases of Basra, Arbil, Kirkuk, Nineveh and Diyala. The State Department has already indicated that its assets may expand in the future, which becomes a further reason for augmenting mercenary presence in Iraq. It has already asked Pentagon for 24 Black Hawk helicopters and 50 special vehicles which can resist landmine blasts, apart from other military hardware. At present, 1,00,000 security contractors, including 11,000 mercenaries, have been deployed in Iraq.

There is also sufficient indication that private security firms will draw their manpower from third world countries to minimise shedding of American blood in Iraq. In a recent rocket attack in the protected Green Zone, two Ugandans and a Peruvian security contractor were killed. It may, therefore, not be surprising if more western private security firms open their offices in third world countries, especially Africa and Latin America, to fill their mercenary ranks bound for trouble-spots such as Iraq. India too may offer an attractive ground for recruitment. ...

~ more... ~

"Restrepo" Trailer

Winner of the US Documentary Grand Jury Prize at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival.

"Restrepo" is a feature-length documentary that chronicles the deployment of a platoon of U.S. soldiers to Afghanistan's Korengal Valley. The movie focuses on a remote 15-man outpost, Restrepo, named after a platoon medic who was killed in action. It was considered one of the most dangerous postings in the US military. This is an entirely experiential film: our cameras never leave the valley, we dont interview generals or diplomats. Our only goal is to make you feel as though you have just done a 90-minute deployment. This is war, full stop. The conclusions are up to you.

Human Rights Watch Accuses European Companies of Fighting Unions in U.S.

Unionizing in Europe is one thing, but it's quite another for European firms doing business in the United States. Human Rights Watch (HRW) claims many European companies that publicly embrace workers' rights have actually undermined American employees' efforts to bargain collectively.

HRW's latest report singles out businesses like Germany-based Deutsche Telekom's T-Mobile USA and Deutsche Post's DHL, UK-based Tesco's Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Markets and G4S Wackenhut security, France-based Sodexo food services and Saint-Gobain industrial equipment, Norway-based Kongsberg Automotive, and the Netherlands' Gamma Holding.
“European multinational firms have carried out aggressive campaigns to keep workers in the United States from organizing and bargaining, violating international standards and, often, US labor laws,” according to HRW.
In some cases, European companies have forced American workers to attend anti-union meetings and threatened employees who advocate forming unions. According to the report, “Sodexo threatened, interrogated, and fired workers who tried to form a union.”

-Noel Brinkerhof

A Strange Case (Human Rights Watch.

~ Source ~

Perfect Privacy Staff Member Gets House Search

Today, Friday, August 20, 2010, between 7:00 and 8:00 a.m. CEST, the premises of one of Perfect Privacy's administrators were searched by the authorities. The administrator is listed as the contact person for Perfect Privacy's servers in Erfurt, Germany. The house search warrant is based on the suspicion that unknown suspects had routed illegal communications over the privacy servers in Erfurt.

In total, five computers together with harddisks and storage media were confiscated in the course of the house search. As far as the computers had been used for administrative or other activities surrounding Perfect Privacy, they are altogether encrypted as a whole. The estimated damage amounts to about EUR 6,000.00 to EUR 6,500.00. Perfect Privacy has already contacted an attorney who will, amongst others, apply for access to the records.

Perfect Privacy's servers in Erfurt are at the time this annoucement is written still online, can be pinged, and Perfect Privacy continues to be in the possession of the root access and all administrative rights. The servers have so far not been confiscated. We decided, however, to disable all services (OpenVPN, PPTP VPN, L2TP/IPSec VPN, SOCKS5, SQUID) in Erfurt temporarily in order to give those of our members, who have elevated security needs, time to read this announcement and to evaluate the risks. It is not known to us whether the authorities initiated measures such as telecommunication monitoring in Erfurt.

More details will be following within the next days.

Best regards,
Perfect Privacy Administration

~ Perfect Privacy Support Blog & Knowledgebase


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