Friday, August 2, 2013

13-08-03 Israel: Haaretz daily - Unprofessional conduct by Netanyahu in re appointment of Bank of Israel Governor is damaging Isrrael's economy

Following the early resignation of Governor of Bank of Israel Stanley Fischer, prior to the end of his term, Prime Minister Netanyahu and Treasury Minister Lapid are facing difficulties filling that critical position, at a time that the Israeli economy is facing unprecedented difficulties.

* First nominee, Jacob Frenkel withdrew his nomination, after a shoplifting incident in Hong Kong airport was discovered, which was not discovered during the search process, and which Frenkel did not report honestly.
* Second nominee, Leo Leiderman withdrew his nomination, apparently after a sex harassment incident was discovered, which was related to his departure from his Deutsche Bank position. Again, the issue was not discovered during the search process, and was not honestly reported by Leiderman.

Reports in Haaretz daily in Hebrew (could not find it in the English online edition).

ראש הממשלה בנימין נתניהו ושר האוצר יאיר לפיד - צילום:אורן נחשון
Minister of Treasury Yair Lapid and Prime Miniter Netanyahu.

* Lapid is quoted as saying: "Economics professors are a colorful,wild band." [1]
* Haaretz claims that the difficulties in identifying a nominee originate in Netanyahu's desire to find a credible economist, who would support his economic vision for the Israeli economy. Netanyahu has followed the US economic policies, which led to doubling of the number of the pooer, sharp increase in homelessness, and unaffordability of housing in Israel over the past decade. [2]

Haaretz concludes that:
* The search process has been conducted in an unprofessional manner (Hebrew used a slang term, which is closer to "half assed job".) [3]
* Conduct of Netanyahu and Lapid in this matter will cost the Israeli economy dearly.


13-08-02 Governor of Bank of Israel - a toxic job? Leiderman steps down as nominee...

ליאו ליידרמן - צילום:אייל טואג
Prof Leo Leidermann

Two days only after being nominated by Netanyahu, Prof Leo Leidermann has abruptly withdrawn his nomination this morning.  Before his resignation, he managed to issue projections for the Israeli economy that were pessimistic...
His nomination followed the stepping down of nominee Jacob Frenkel, following revelation of duty free shoplifting in Hong Kong...
In the meanwhile, the natural candidate, Deputy Governor Karmit Flug (female), who was passed over, announced her resignation...  Israeli media blaimed sexism for her vetoing by Netanyahu.
The job appears toxic!

13-08-02 Palestine as a backpacker's affordable tourist destination!


A new hostel opened in Ramallah!

The West Bank on a shoestring: A day along the hottest new tourist trail

A niche industry is developing in the West Bank, with Israeli companies organizing tours for independent travelers wishing to see what life is really like beyond the Green Line. 

13-08-02 California prisoners' hunger strike and solitary confinement

Note: This writer spent only 4 hours in a solitary confinement in Los Angeles Twin Tower jail, chained to the floor, barefoot in a freezing concrete cell with no window at all, after he refused to sign off his watch, stolen by the wardens.  jz
comments_image 34 COMMENTS

I Spent Years in Solitary Without a Window, Listening to Grown Men Scream and Cry

Why the hunger strike going on across California's prisons matters.
Michael Cabral has served ten years on a 15-Life sentence for murder, beginning when he was still a juvenile. His first two and a half years were spent in the Pelican Bay SHU. He spent time in Salinas Valley State Prison in Soledad, and is currently at Corcoran State Prison. His writing has appeared often in  The Beat Within, NAM's weekly publication of writing and art by juvenile detainees, and NAM has published previous commentaries from him.
How can I make anyone understand what it's like to cling desperately to the hope of someday being heard because that's the only hope left? That's one reason why the hunger strike going on across California's prisons matters. It might just keep that hope alive for prisoners locked down in Pelican Bay State Prison's Security Housing and Administrative Segregation Units (known as the SHU).

13-08-02 Hello world!

8/2 @ 11:44 : Denver, Colorado, US
8/2 @ 11:35 : Netanya, IL
8/2 @ 11:34 : Bhopal, IN
8/2 @ 11:22 : Seoul, KR
8/2 @ 10:49 : Berkeley, California, US
8/2 @ 3:03 : Edison, New Jersey, US
8/2 @ 2:24 : United States, US
8/2 @ 1:28 : New York, New York, US
8/1 @ 11:51 : Beverly Hills, California, US
8/1 @ 6:50 : Santa Cruz, California, US

13-08-02 Full scale of NSA realtime tracking exposed...

Posted: 01 Aug 2013 03:07 PM PDT

National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden has been given one year temporary political asylum in Russia. Snowden has reportedly already left the Moscow airport where he has been holed up for over a month. On WednesdayThe Guardian newspaper revealed details about another secret NSA program based on leaked documents provided by Snowden. The program, XKeyscore, allows analysts to search with no prior authorization through vast databases containing emails, online chats and the browsing histories of millions of individuals giving NSA analysts real-time access to "nearly everything a typical user does on the internet." To discuss these latest developments, Democracy Now! is joined by Spencer Ackerman, national security editor at The Guardian.
Ackerman weighs in on the significance of the Obama administration’s declassification of documents on Wednesday and their significance:
SPENCER ACKERMAN: "It’s tremendous. Two of the documents were fabled instances of oversight that the NSA and the Obama administration have cited to show that Congress has been fully on board with these programs from the start. When you look at what members of Congress who weren’t on the secret intelligence committees in the House and Senate actually saw in these documents, it immediately starts off by talking about the threat of terrorism, the legacy of 9/11, and then describing that there are some bulk collection programs of phone records. And they never say in the documents that these are all Americans’ phone records, that these collection programs occur without any suspicion of any American to any act of terrorism or espionage, which is what the underlying statute authorizing them says. They’re four pages long. The Obama administration and the NSA issued them right before key surveillance votes. And this is what they now turn around and say amounted to congressional oversight and knowledge of these programs."
A full transcript of the discussion is available online at Democracy Now!.
Source: Wikileaks

Today Bradley Manning, a whistleblower, was convicted by a military court at Fort Meade of 19 offences for supplying the press with information, including five counts of "espionage." He now faces a maximum sentence of 136 years.
The "aiding the enemy" charge has fallen away. It was only included, it seems, to make calling journalism "espionage" seem reasonable. It is not.
Bradley Manning's alleged disclosures have exposed war crimes, sparked revolutions, and induced democratic reform. He is the quintessential whistleblower.
This is the first ever espionage conviction against a whistleblower. It is a dangerous precedent and an example of national security extremism. It is a short-sighted judgment that cannot be tolerated and must be reversed. It can never be that conveying true information to the public is "espionage."
President Obama has initiated more espionage proceedings against whistleblowers and publishers than all previous presidents combined.
In 2008 presidential candidate Barack Obama ran on a platform that praised whistleblowing as an act of courage and patriotism. That platform has been comprehensively betrayed. His campaign document described whistleblowers as watchdogs when government abuses its authority. It was removed from the internet last week.
Throughout the proceedings there has been a conspicuous absence: the absence of any victim. The prosecution did not present evidence that -- or even claim that -- a single person came to harm as a result of Bradley Manning's disclosures. The government never claimed Mr. Manning was working for a foreign power.
The only "victim" was the US government's wounded pride, but the abuse of this fine young man was never the way to restore it. Rather, the abuse of Bradley Manning has left the world with a sense of disgust at how low the Obama administration has fallen. It is not a sign of strength, but of weakness.
The judge has allowed the prosecution to substantially alter the charges after both the defense and the prosecution had rested their cases, permitted the prosecution 141 witnesses and extensive secret testimony. The government kept Bradley Manning in a cage, stripped him naked and isolated him in order to crack him, an act formally condemned by the United Nations Special Rapporteur for torture. This was never a fair trial.
The Obama administration has been chipping away democratic freedoms in the United States. With today's verdict, Obama has hacked off much more. The administration is intent on deterring and silencing whistleblowers; intent on weakening freedom of the press.
The US first amendment states that "Congress shall make no law... abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press." What part of "no" does Barack Obama fail to comprehend? is posting for Julian Assange for the foreseeable future.

Julian Assange is the editor-in-chief of WikiLeaks, a whistleblower website. He grew up in a Queensland country town where people spoke their minds bluntly and (more...)

13-08-02 US @ 1984: Quick dictionary for NSA terminology, "Surveillance", "Collect", "Relevant", "Incidental", "No"...

How to Decode the True Meaning of What NSA Officials Say

A lexicon for understanding the words U.S. intelligence officials use to mislead the public.

By Jameel Jaffer and Brett Max Kaufman
August 01, 2013 "Information Clearing House - "Slate" -  James Clapper, the director of national intelligence, has been harshly criticized for having misled Congress earlier this year about the scope of the National Security Agency’s surveillance activities. The criticism is entirely justified. An equally insidious threat to the integrity of our national debate, however, comes not from officials’ outright lies but from the language they use to tell the truth. When it comes to discussing government surveillance, U.S. intelligence officials have been using a vocabulary of misdirection—a language that allows them to say one thing while meaning quite another. The assignment of unconventional meanings to conventional words allows officials to imply that the NSA’s activities are narrow and closely supervised, though neither of those things is true. What follows is a lexicon for decoding the true meaning of what NSA officials say.
Surveillance. Every time we pick up the phone, the NSA makes a note of whom we spoke to, when we spoke to him, and for how long—and it’s been doing this for seven years. After the call-tracking program was exposed, few people thought twice about attaching the label “surveillance” to it. Government officials, though, have rejected the term, pointing out that this particular program doesn’t involve the NSA actually listening to phone calls—just keeping track of them. Their crabbed definition of “surveillance” allows them to claim that the NSA isn’t engaged in surveillance even when it quite plainly is.
Collect. If an intelligence official says that the NSA isn’t “collecting” a certain kind of information, what has he actually said? Not very much, it turns out. One of the NSA’s foundational documents states that “collection” occurs not when the government acquires information but when the government “selects” or “tasks” that information for “subsequent processing.” Thus it becomes possible for the government to acquire great reams of information while denying that it is “collecting” anything at all.
Relevant. The NSA’s call-tracking program is ostensibly based on the Patriot Act’s Section 215, a provision that allows the government to compel businesses to disclose records that are “relevant” to authorized foreign intelligence investigations. The theory, it seems, is that everybody’s phone records are relevant today because anybody’s phone records might become relevant in the future. This stretches the concept of “relevance” far beyond the breaking point. Even the legislator who wrote Section 215 has rejected the government’s theory. If “relevance” is given such a broad compass, what room is left for “irrelevance”?
Targeted. The call-tracking program is only one of the NSA’s surveillance efforts. Another is what’s been branded PRISM, a program that involves the acquisition of the contents of phone calls, emails, and other electronic communications. Americans need not worry about the program, the government says, because the NSA’s surveillance activities are “targeted” not at Americans but at foreigners outside the United States. No one should be reassured by this. The government’s foreign targets aren’t necessarily criminals or terrorists—they may be journalists, lawyers, academics, or human rights advocates. And even if one is indifferent to the NSA’s invasion of foreigners’ privacy, the surveillance of those foreigners involves the acquisition of Americans’ communications with those foreigners. The spying may be “targeted” at foreigners, but it vacuums up thousands of Americans’ phone calls and emails.
Incidental. Because the government’s surveillance targets are foreigners outside the United States, intelligence officials describe the acquisition of Americans’ communications as “incidental.” But the truth is that the statute behind PRISM—the FISA Amendments Act of 2008—was intended to let the government conduct warrantless surveillance of these very communications. In the debate that preceded passage of the law, intelligence officials told Congress that it was Americans’ communications that were of most interest to them. Indeed, when some legislators introduced bills that would have barred access to these communications without a warrant, President Bush said he would veto them. (One of those bills, incidentally, was introduced by then–Sen. Barack Obama.)
Inadvertent. The PRISM program sweeps up Americans’ purely domestic communications, too. Officials have said that the collection of domestic communications is “inadvertent,” but PRISM’s very design makes the collection of Americans’ domestic communications perfectly predictable. This is in part because the NSA presumes that its surveillance targets are foreigners outside the United States unless it has specific information to the contrary. In 2009, the New York Times reported that the NSA’s collection of purely domestic communications under the 2008 statute had been “significant and systemic.”
Minimize. What does the NSA do with communications that are acquired “incidentally” or “inadvertently”? As intelligence officials have told the courts and Congress, so-called “minimization” procedures limit the NSA’s retention and use of information about American citizens and permanent residents. Here again, though, the terminology is grossly misleading. The 2008 statute gives the NSA broad latitude to retain Americans’ communications, share them with other agencies, and even share them with foreign governments. The NSA’s own documents suggest that the agency retains Americans’ communications indefinitely if they include “foreign intelligence information,” a term defined so broadly that it encompasses any conversation relating to foreign affairs. Even communications that don’t include foreign intelligence information are retained for as long as five years.
No. When James Clapper was asked at a March Senate hearing whether the NSA was collecting information about millions of Americans, he answered, “No,” and then, after a pause, “not wittingly.” As Clapper has now conceded, the correct answer was simply “yes.”
Officials who describe the NSA’s activities using strategically idiosyncratic terminology presumably believe that they are telling the truth. In a certain formal sense, they usually are—though Clapper’s statement is a glaring exception. It shouldn’t need to be said, though, that their duties as public officials go beyond the avoidance of perjury charges. They have an obligation to ensure that the courts, Congress, and the public fully understand the policies that they are being asked to accept. They could start by using the same dictionary the rest of us do.

13-08-03 'I've Killed Lots Of Arabs In My Life And There's No Problem With That' : Israeli Minister

Naftali Bennett, State of Israel Minister of Industry, Trade and Labor and Minister of Religious Services

'I've Killed Lots Of Arabs In My Life And There's No Problem With That' : Israeli Minister
A member of Israel's cabinet has declared his backing for simply killing Palestinian prisoners, rather than bringing them to trial.