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Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Gaza apartment high-rise destroyed by Israeli strikes - 70 families homeless

At least 20 Palestinians wounded as Israeli rockets destroy much of one of Gaza's tallest buildings. At least five Israeli air strikes have destroyed much of one of Gaza's tallest apartment and office buildings, setting off huge explosions and wounding 20 people, Palestinian health officials said. Israel had no immediate comment on Tuesday's attack. Seventy families lived in the building, which also housed offices and a shopping complex. Al Jazeera's Jane Ferguson, reporting from Gaza, said Israel fired three non-explosive warning missiles before the air strikes. Comment: How considerate. "The 13-storey building, contained 11 floors of residential units and two floors of commercial offices and a coffee shop. those floors also host the offices of the Ministry of Public Works and offices belonging to the political wing of Hamas movement," Ferguson said. Comment: The 'moral' IDF claims to never target civilian infrastructure. Since a truce between Israel and armed factions in Gaza collapsed, the death toll in the Palestinian enclave has steadily risen, with 13 more Palestinians killed in Israeli strikes since Sunday night. On Monday, a 17-year-old boy was killed and about 25 people were wounded in a strike on a Gaza City mosque. The Gaza religious affairs ministry said Israeli fire during the day destroyed four more mosques, raising to 71 the number of mosques destroyed over the past seven weeks. Abdullah Mortaja, 27, a freelance journalist who previously worked for Hamas's Al-Aqsa TV, was among the latest casualties. Medical officials said he was hit by tank fire in the war-battered Shejaiya area of eastern Gaza City. Two people wounded previously died of their injuries on Monday, raising the Gaza death toll since the July 8 start of the campaign to 2,135 with 10,915 wounded, according to the emergency services. On the Israeli side, 68 people have been killed, the vast majority were soldiers.

Colonization by bankruptcy: Icelandic solution for Argentina?

If Argentina were in a high-stakes chess match, the country's actions this week would be the equivalent of flipping over all the pieces on the board. - David Dayen, Fiscal Times, August 22, 2014 Argentina is playing hardball with the vulture funds, which have been trying to force it into an involuntary bankruptcy. The vultures are demanding what amounts to a 600% return on bonds bought for pennies on the dollar, defeating a 2005 settlement in which 92% of creditors agreed to accept a 70% haircut on their bonds. A US court has backed the vulture funds; but last week, Argentina sidestepped its jurisdiction by transferring the trustee for payment from Bank of New York Mellon to its own central bank. That play, if approved by the Argentine Congress, will allow the country to continue making payments under its 2005 settlement, avoiding default on the majority of its bonds. Argentina is already foreclosed from international capital markets, so it doesn't have much to lose by thwarting the US court system. Similar bold moves by Ecuador and Iceland have left those countries in substantially better shape than Greece, which went along with the agendas of the international financiers. The upside for Argentina was captured by President Fernandez in a nationwide speech on August 19th. Struggling to hold back tears, according to Bloomberg, she said: When it comes to the sovereignty of our country and the conviction that we can no longer be extorted and that we can't become burdened with debt again, we are emerging as Argentines. . . . If I signed what they're trying to make me sign, the bomb wouldn't explode now but rather there would surely be applause, marvelous headlines in the papers. But we would enter into the infernal cycle of debt which we've been subject to for so long.

The pivot towards China continues: US to "rebalance" military in Guam to counter China and North Korea

Guam, an Island nation of 160,000 people has been a victim of Imperialism dating back to the 16th century. More than 65,000 of the population are called the Chamorro people, an indigenous population originally from the Mariana Islands. Many of the Chamorro people also live in the Northern Mariana Islands, another U.S. territory. Guam's fate with imperial powers from the West began with Portuguese navigator Ferdinand Magellan, who represented the King of Spain, landed in Guam around 1521. Spanish General Miguel López de Legazpi claimed Guam for the Spanish throne in 1565. It eventually resulted in the Spanish-Chamorro War which lasted 25 years. Then it was followed by Japan's brutal occupation during World War II. U.S. won a decisive battle against Japanese forces known as the Battle of Guam in 1944. However, the U.S. still remains in Guam. They never left. Over the years, the U.S. Military-Industrial complex has become the Island's main economic engine besides the tourism industry. With geopolitical developments in recent years, the U.S. is now in the stage of "rebalancing" its Pacific forces to prepare for a possible future war with China and North Korea.

Australia's 'Guantanamo: 'Refugees' in mental anguish

At least one in four refugees locked in indefinite detention on the basis of secret ASIO findings has attempted or threatened suicide, a new analysis has revealed. Several of the 44 refugees have now been incarcerated more than five years without charge in Melbourne and Sydney, and none are allowed to know the detail of the secret assessments used to justify their detention. The heavy psychological toll has led to extraordinary rates of depression, anxiety and self-harm, including one man repeatedly beating his head with a toilet door.

Discontent building: French goverment resigns amid rancor over German austerity pressure

The French government has resigned despite being formed just 4 months ago. They quit after ministers slammed President Francois Hollande's plans for taxation and cuts, while also being critical of Germany's austerity program. The statement published on Monday said the new office would be formed on Tuesday and would be in the "direction he (the president) has defined for our country." Following the 2008 financial crisis, Germany has taken the lead to try and resurrect the EU's economy. This has been marked by cutbacks and taxation, which have not proved to be universally popular within the eurozone. Economics Minister, Arnaud Montebourg, an outspoken critic of Germany, believes that country has hindered France's development. Montebourg said it was time to resist Germany's "obsession" with austerity and work out some alternative ways to promote household consumption. He said that measures that had been introduced since the financial crisis were not doing anything to help the country's economy grow. He also blamed Germany for factory closures in France. "You have to raise your voice. Germany is trapped in an austerity policy that it imposed across Europe," the Socialist minister said in the interview with the French newspaper Le Monde on Saturday.

Ukraine will spend billions of hryvnas to upgrade its military

Before the end of this year Ukraine "will spend billions of hryvnas" to upgrade military hardware of the country's armed forces, President Pyotr Poroshenko said at a military parade on the occasion of the 23rd Ukrainian independence anniversary on Sunday. "Warplanes, helicopter gunships, warships and motor boats will be bought and this is just a moderate start," he said, adding that right from Kreshchatik "the column of troops will be dispatched in the combat action zone" in east Ukraine.

Greenland ice study shows 'unexpected link between solar activity and climate change'

Lund University have published a reconstruction of solar activity vs snow accumulation in Greenland, which indicates a strong correlation between solar minima and a colder climate. 'The study shows an unexpected link between solar activity and climate change,' Dr Muscheler said in a press release. 'It shows both that changes in solar activity are nothing new and that solar activity influences the climate, especially on a regional level. 'Understanding these processes helps us to better forecast the climate in certain regions.' According to the study abstract; http://ift.tt/1rYlmde "We find that during the Last Glacial Maximum, solar minima correlate with more negative δ18O values of ice and are accompanied by increased snow accumulation and sea-salt input over central Greenland. We suggest that solar minima could have induced changes in the stratosphere that favour the development of high-pressure blocking systems located to the south of Greenland, as has been found in observations and model simulations for recent climate9, 10. We conclude that the mechanism behind solar forcing of regional climate change may have been similar under both modern and Last Glacial Maximum climate conditions."

Maryland man shot 3-year-old daughter and slit her throat before fatal shootout with police

A Temple Hills, Maryland man slashed his 3-year-old daughter's throat, then shot and killed her before leading police on a car chase that ended in a fatal shootout. According to CBS Baltimore, 38-year-old Frederick Roy Miller shot and wounded two other people in the rampage, which took place on Saturday. Police Chief Mark Magaw said in a press conference that Miller, a Marine veteran, was engaged in a custody battle with his ex-wife. On Saturday, Miller went to the home where his daughter, Laila Miller, lived with her two primary caretakers, her maternal grandfather and great-grandmother. Miller shot the two adults, one in the driveway in front of the house, and left with the child as neighbors looked on in horror. Police pursued Miller in a high-speed car chase that ended in a hail of bullets. When Miller was confirmed dead, police converged on the car and found Laila Miller bleeding from a gash in her throat and with a bullet wound to the head.

Game changer? Futuristic Chinese 'supersonic' sub could reach US shores in under two hours

Traveling from Shanghai to San Francisco in under two hours may sound like a fantasy, but China believes it's figured out how to design an underwater vehicle that can make the idea a reality. More worryingly, though, is the possibility that the technology will be used to develop even more dangerous weaponry. According to the South China Morning Post (SCMP), the super-fast technology was developed by scientists at the Harbin Institute of Technology, and would allow underwater submarines or torpedoes to exceed the equivalent speed of sound under water - about 3,600 miles per hour. The idea is based on the old Soviet concept of supercavitation, which involves creating a large air bubble around an object so that it could avoid facing too much friction and travel through water quickly. Professor Li Fengchen said that when the vessel hits the water, one of its mechanisms continuously sprays a "special liquid membrane" all over the object's surface. This membrane eventually wears off, but by the time the vessel reaches 46 miles per hour, it's going fast enough to enter supercavitation state and generate an air bubble capable of helping it cover previously unknown distances. "Our method is different from any other approach, such as vector propulsion," Li told SCMP. "By combining liquid-membrane technology with supercavitation, we can significantly reduce the launch challenges and make cruising control easier."

Demented MMA fighter who savagely beat ex-girlfriend sez oppression of men is worse than slavery

A mixed martial arts fighter accused of battering his porn actress former girlfriend complained that American men suffered even worse than Jews under Nazi Germany or African slaves in the U.S. War Machine, who legally changed his name in 2008 from Jon Koppenhaver, was arrested Saturday in the brutal assault of his ex-girlfriend, Christy Mack, and reality TV star Corey Thomas. Mack suffered broken bones, missing teeth, and a ruptured liver in the attack. The cage fighter, who has been imprisoned twice previously, claimed he attacked the pair in self-defense. During his last incarceration, in 2010 on a San Diego assault conviction, War Machine wrote a weekly "prison blog," reported the Daily Telegraph, that outlined his complains about prison life. "Me and a couple other guys have been waging war on these 2 loud, obnoxious *ssholes who love to yell and bang their door all day and night," War Machine wrote. "Our weapon of choice by default, is of course sh*t bombs... LMAO! We have been bombing their cells twice/day for 4 days straight and since the Deps hate them too, they don't even clean it out, they let them sit in sh*t for HOURS at a time."

Ferguson: They thought they were free

Spurred on by 9/11 and the War on Terror, America has become a feared military force of terror but the prime target has always been the American public which is becoming increasingly aware of their Government sponsored militarized police who see and relate to them as Middle East terrorists until proven innocent such as in Ferguson, Missouri. The military-style occupation of Ferguson, Missouri has ripped aside the thin veneer of democracy to expose a budding police state. This is what martial law looks like. As I watch, with alarm, the rapidly growing American militarized Police State as well as George W Bush and Dick Cheney's recent book tours - where they rationalize their illegal wars and economic rape of Iraq and Afghanistan as well as justify torture as a means to this criminal end - I am immediately reminded of Milton Mayer's classic They Thought They Were Free: The Germans, 1933-45. Mayer's book describes the slow but sure seduction of the German people as their civil liberties, freedoms and moral values were gradually stripped away by Hitler's fascist government while waving the flag of national security and patriotism.

Tipping point near? Pathocrats engineering population control via income inequality, inflation and food shortages

food riots

The cost of food has been steadily


in places like Thailand and Venezuela as evidenced by the fact that since the beginning of 2014,

riots are occurring in countries that are suffering through extreme food shortages.

These mass protests movements may all have one thing in common, increasing food prices are the cause of the civil unrest.

According to Dr. Yaneer Bar-Yam and his research colleagues at the New England Complex Systems Institute (


), they are collectively stating that civil unrest, spurred by food shortages may be anticipated for their effect by a mathematical model that correlates the variables of rising food costs, diminished and that are related to income and civil unrest.

The present data suggests that America is ripe for the same kinds of civil disruption that we are witnessing in Thailand and Venezuela.

How bad could the civil unrest become? Nobody can be certain except to say that America is entering into uncharted waters.

If one uses the violent civil unrest in Ferguson, MO. as a barometer of severity of the act of rioting, we need to realize that people are protesting the shooting death of one young man by a local police officer. Imagine how much more vitriolic these protests would become, how much more looting would take place and how many more people would be killed and injured if people and their children were facing starvation and these riots were food riots. The people of the United States are almost at the point of no return with regard to the coming food riots.

Inflation Related to Food Prices

In calculating the overall inflation rate, the government does not count the price of food. However,

there are several reliable food inflation figures and the food inflation rate is estimated to be between 19% to 22%


In the article, "

Food Price Inflation Scares the Fed

" the commodity food costs were exploding on the upside. Calculation of the food inflation rate, given the lag in commodity costs impacting prices on grocery store shelves, we find that the annual U.S. food inflation rate is now running at a staggering +22% and the rate is increasing with no end in sight to the escalation.

The real and specific cause for food inflation is the

$940 billion

of additional monetary stimulus from the United States Federal Reserve's quantitative (bail out) easing over the last twelve months. Both the cost of food and gasoline inflation rates are awakening the variables associated with hyperinflation. Please note that the $940 billion of giveaway bailout money is nearly half of what we take in as a country in taxes.

If you truly want to be accurate about America's economic future, repeat the accurate mantra, "There will be no economic recovery" and "Many Americans are going to starve to death". A Snapshot of America's Food Vulnerability

Almost beyond belief, a full

79 percent

of the people that use food banks purchase typically buy cheap, unhealthy food and still just have enough to feed their children. The price of food continues to quickly out-pace the paychecks of most middle class families. For example, the average price of ground beef has just hit a brand new all-time record high of

$3.88 per pound

! There are nearly

50 million Americans

that are dealing with food insecurity in various degrees of distress. J

ust over one out of seven Americans

rely on obtaining food from various banks at one point or another and these food banks are beginning to experience record shortages.

In a case of "defend the nation and starve", military families are feeling even more stress from not being able to obtain sufficient quantities of food as

25% of America military families

require outside assistance in getting enough to eat.

What does this say about an administration which uses our soldiers to defend the nation and then kicks them to the curb by denying their VA health benefits as the government also starves their families because they cannot survive on what we pay our soldiers?

This is disgraceful, but it is the Obama fundamental transformation of American way!

America Has No Way to Keep Up with Food Inflation

According to the New York Times, the typical American family is now worth

36% less

than it was worth only 10 years ago! Shockingly,

one out of every six men , ranging in ages from 25 to 54, are not employed

. Median family income in the United States is

7% lower

than it was in 2000. The United States is now in

19th place

in the world and falling.

There is no way that the majority of American families can keep pace with food inflation as the wages of Americans are now inversely correlated with the rising food prices.

This is a prescription for disaster. The most vulnerable to starvation within the present economic climate are the children as an amazing

twenty six percent

of all children are living below the poverty level.With these kind of distressing statistics, a significant number of Americans are vulnerable to politically motivated "food blackmail" in these times of economic distress.

There is historical evidence that food vulnerability may have been planned for a long time by elements of the U.S. government. The US Government and Its Food Deprivation Policies

The use of food as a political manipulation tool, by the U.S. government, has been a matter of official U.S. governmental covert policy since 1974-1975.

In December, 1974,

National Security Council

directed by Henry Kissinger completed a classified study entitled,

"National Security Study Memorandum 200: Implications of Worldwide Population Growth for U.S. Security and Overseas Interests."

The study was based upon the unproven claims that population growth in Lesser Developed Countries (LDC) constituted a serious risk to America's national security.

In November 1975 President Ford, based upon the tenets of NSSM 200 outlined a classified plan to forcibly

reduce population growth

in LDC countries through birth control, war and


. Ford's new national security adviser, Brent Scowcroft, in conjunction with then CIA Director, George H. W. Bush, were tasked with implementing the plan and the secretaries of state, treasury, defense, and agriculture assisted in the implementation of these insane genocidal plans.

NSSM 200 formally raised the question, "Would food be considered an instrument of national power? Is the U.S. prepared to accept food rationing to help people who can't/won't control their population growth?"

Kissinger has answered these questions when he stated that he was predicting a series of contrived famines, created by mandatory programs and this would make exclusive reliance on birth control programs unnecessary in this modern day application of eugenics in a scheme that would allow Henry to have his cake and eat it too in that the world would finally be rid of the "useless eaters!"

Third world population control, using food as one of the primary weapons

, has long been a matter of official covert national policy and a portion of President Obama's Executive Order 13603 (EO),

National Defense Resources Preparedness

is a continuation of that policy. Only now, the intended targets are not the LDC's, but are instead, the American people and after Obama declares martial law, food will undoubtedly be used to subjugate the more resistant regions of our country.

The lessons of history clearly demonstrate that dictatorial regimes, whether they be Socialists, Communists, and Marxists will not hesitate to use food as a weapon against their own people in order to solidify power and impose absolute autocratic control.

Food can be withheld from the masses by preventing it from being grown and harvested, by


it and rendering it


for human consumption or by simply preventing food from being distributed to a targeted population. And there is a third strategy that the government can employ when subjugating a population by withholding food, that would be food which has a long shelf life. And this is exactly what we see, the Federal government is stockpiling survival food with a long shelf life.

The Feds Have Been Preparing for the Coming Food Shortages Since 2008

As far back as 2008, I can find


that the government was attempting to stockpile as much survival food as possible. These events prompted prominent brokers and key media members to advise the public to begin

storing food

as long as six years ago in anticipation of what is about ready to happen.

In 2011, FEMA issued a "

Request for information

" (RFI), in which they inquired about the availability for

140 million emergency meal kits

with a shelf life of 36 months along with blankets. Please read the FEMA document, listed below in the Appendix, and then I defy the reader to not be concerned about the long-standing pattern of this government in acquiring vast amounts of food.

Collision Course with Disaster

One can hope to survive if the government allows the banks to use the MERS mortgage fraud to seize your home. One can hope to survive if this administration seizes your guns. However, food inflation coupled with declining wages is a prescription for disaster. I do not think it is possible to overstate the dangers covered in this article. America needs to prepare to defend themselves. Buy survival food, store it and hide it!

Paul Craig Roberts blasts western media: Respect for truth no longer exists

Comment: Roberts's analysis is spot on. The Western media are either idiots or prostitutes. Funny that Russia -- historical home of the worst type of propaganda during its Soviet days -- has been producing the highest quality journalism in the mainstream (RT, RIA Novosti, Itar-Tass) in recent years. But even they have their limits, which is why alternative media -- like Sott.net -- is thriving.


© RIA Novosti

Western media = pure lies.

The Western media have proven for all to see that

it comprises either a collection of ignorant and incompetent fools or a brothel that sells war for money


The conclusive evidence is the media story of the armored Russian column that crossed into Ukraine and was destroyed by Ukraine's rag-tag forces that ISIS would eliminate in a few minutes.

British reporters fabricated this story or were handed it by a CIA operative working to build a war narrative.

The no longer reputable BBC hyped the story

without investigating

. The German media, including

Die Welt

, blared the story throughout Germany

without concern at the absence of any evidence

. Reuters news agency, also with no investigation, spread the story. Readers tell me that CNN has been broadcasting the fake story 24/7. Although I cannot stand to watch it, I suspect Fox "news" has also been riding this lame horse hard. Readers tell me that my former newspaper,

The Wall Street Journal

, which has fallen so low as to be unreadable, also spread the false story. I hope they are wrong. One hates to see the complete despoliation of one's former habitat.

The media story is preposterous for a number of reasons that should be obvious to a normal person.

The first reason is that the Russian government has made it completely clear that

its purpose is to de-escalate the situation

. When other former Russian territories that are part of present day Ukraine followed Crimea, voted their independence and requested reunification with Russia, President Putin refused. To underline his de-escalation, President Putin asked the Russian State Duma

to rescind his authority to intervene militarily

in Ukraine in behalf of the former Russian provinces. As the Russian government, unlike Washington or the EU governments, stresses legality and the rule of law,

Russian military forces would not be sent into Ukraine prior to the Duma renewing Putin's authority so to do


Comment: What a contrast to the U.S...

The second reason the story is obviously false is that if the Russian government decides to invade Ukraine, Russia would not send in one small armored group unprotected by air cover or other forces.

If Russia invades Ukraine, it will be with a force capable of rolling up the rag-tag Ukrainian forces

, most of which are semi-private militias organized by nazis.

The "war" would last a few hours

, after which Ukraine would be in Russia's hands where it resided for hundreds of years prior to the dissolution of the Soviet Union and Washington's successful efforts in 1991 to take advantage of Russian weakness to break apart the constituent provinces of Russia herself.

The third reason that the story is obviously false is that

not a single Western news organization hyping the story has presented a shred of evidence in its behalf


What we witness in this fabricated story is the

total lack of integrity

in the entirety of the Western media.

A story, totally devoid of any evidence to support it, has been broadcast world wide. The White House has issued a statement saying that it cannot confirm the story, but nevertheless the White House continues to issue accusations against Russia for which the White House can supply no evidence. Consequently, Western repetition of bald-faced lies has become truth for huge numbers of peoples. As I have emphasized in my columns, these Western lies are dangerous, because

they provoke war


The same group in Washington and the same Western "media" are telling the same kind of lies that were used to justify Washington's wars in Iraq (weapons of mass destruction), Afghanistan (Taliban = al Qaeda), Syria (use of chemical weapons), Libya (an assortment of ridiculous charges), and the ongoing US military murders in Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia.

The city upon the hill, the light unto the world, the home of the exceptional, indispensable people is

the home of Satan's lies where truth is prohibited and war is the end game


Gut bacteria discovered that may prevent food allergies

© Photo by Kenya Honda

The bacterium, called Clostridia, appears to minimize the likelihood that rodents will become allergic to peanuts, and researchers would like to find out if it does the same in people.

WASHINGTON: Mice that were raised in a sterile environment or given antibiotics early in life lacked a common gut bacteria that appears to prevent food allergies, US researchers said on Monday.

The bacterium, called Clostridia, appears to minimize the likelihood that rodents will become allergic to peanuts, and researchers would like to find out if it does the same in people.

In the meantime, they found that supplementing rodents with probiotics containing Clostridia later in life could reverse the allergy, according to the report in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

"Environmental stimuli such as antibiotic overuse, high-fat diets, caesarean birth, removal of common pathogens and even formula feeding have affected the microbiota with which we've co-evolved," said senior study author Cathryn Nagler, food allergy professor at the University of Chicago.

"Our results suggest this could contribute to the increasing susceptibility to food allergies."

Researchers say the incidence of food allergies among children in the United States rose 18 percent from 1997 to 2007.

The precise cause of food allergies is unknown, but some studies suggest that changes in diet, hygiene and use of antimicrobial soap and disinfecting products may lead to changes in the bacteria of the gastrointestinal tract that leave people more susceptible.

Some food allergies can be fatal.

Researchers experimented on mice, exposing some mice born and raised in sterile conditions to peanut allergens. They also tested mice given antibiotics as newborns, a practice which significantly reduced gut bacteria.

Both groups of mice showed significantly higher levels of antibody response against peanut allergens than did regular mice with average gut bacteria.

Their sensitization to food allergens could be reversed if Clostridia bacteria were introduced back into the guts of the mice.

"It's exciting because we know what the bacteria are; we have a way to intervene," Nagler said.

"There are of course no guarantees, but this is absolutely testable as a therapeutic against a disease for which there's nothing."

More research is needed to see if the effect would be the same in humans, she said.

The Hague treats war criminals better than Guantanamo Bay's Camp Seven

© RIA Novosti/Denis Voroshilov

The Guantanamo Bay detention camp, a highly controversial US military prison located in Cuba, has been the subject of harsh criticism since its establishment in 2002. Health workers, inspectors and former detainees have described cruel and inhumane conditions at the camp, including torture

War criminals awaiting trial at the detention center operated by the International Criminal Court in The Hague are treated better than detainees at the Guantanamo Bay detention camp, The New Republic reported Tuesday.

"The legal requirements for the detention facilities at The Hague and at


are identical, but the conditions of imprisonment are nothing alike," Jessica Schulberg, an investigative reporter for The

New Republic

, said.

A comparison of the two detention centers carried out by Schulberg shows major differences in the treatment of



While prisoners at The Hague are free to move around in the building from 7:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. and use the kitchen, gym, library and spiritual room, inmates at Guantanamo's Camp Seven, the most secure camp in the detention center, are only allowed to spend four hours a day in a recreation room, accompanied by one other prisoner. Solitary confinement also prevents detainees from engaging in group prayer, an important part of Islam.

Guantanamo also forbids visits and phone calls, while The Hague permits visits and even assists prisoners' families with travel expenses when needed. Detainees at The Hague are also allowed to make phone calls and send letters. Guantanamo inmates may send letters as well, but communication is slow and limited, Schulberg writes.

Lawyers are usually not allowed into Camp Seven. Defense attorney James Connell, who was granted rare access to the secret detention facility in 2013, later told reporters that conditions in the camp failed to meet the standards for preventative detention.

The Hague considers communication between prisoners and defense attorneys to be confidential and does not monitor them. While lawyer-client privilege is formally recognized at Guantanamo as well, defense lawyers have identified listening devices in meeting rooms, Schulberg reports.

Detainees at the International Criminal Court in The Hague have included former Yugoslavian President Slobodan Milosevic and Congolese rebel leader Bosco Ntaganda.

The Guantanamo Bay detention camp, a highly controversial US military prison located in Cuba, has been the subject of harsh criticism since its establishment in 2002. Health workers, inspectors and former detainees have described

cruel and inhumane conditions at the camp, including torture


International law of war allows the detention of enemy combatants, but the treatment of detainees is strictly regulated by the Geneva conventions. Prisoners must be treated humanely and without discrimination on the basis of race, religion, sex or any similar criteria. Violence, torture and humiliation are forbidden.

ADL ad justifying Israeli murder of Palestinian children "translated" into plain words by actor Wallace Shawn

ADL ad that appeared in The Hollywood Reporter

Playwright and actor

Wallace Shawn

has responded to this

Anti-Defamation League

(ADL) ad blaming Palestinians for Israel's mass slaughter of children in Gaza.

Shawn's brilliant "translation" of the ad into plain English is below.

Five hundred and sixteen children are among the 2,142 Palestinians killed by Israel's current bombardment of the Gaza Strip, according to the latest tally from Al Mezan Center for Human Rights.

The ad, which appeared in

The Hollywood Reporter

, was signed by a number of show business executives. It quotes an infamous statement by

Golda Meir

, the American colonial settler in Palestine who became Israel's prime minister, justifying Israel's slaughter of Arab children during her time.

Along with ADL National Director

Abraham Foxman

and National Chair Barry Curtiss-Lusher,

The Hollywood Reporter

identifies some of those who signed the ADL ad as MGM chairman Gary Barber, Lionsgate CEO Jon Feltheimer, Relativity Media CEO Ryan Kavanaugh, Nu Image/Millennium Films co-chairman Avi Lerner, Sony Pictures Entertainment co-chair Amy Pascal and Saban Capital Group chairman and CEO Haim Saban.

Shawn's response,

which also appears in The Hollywood Reporter

, is masterful. Here is Shawn's "translation" of Meir's words, as they were used in the ADL ad (reproduced in full with permission):

Over the decades, I've done quite a bit of work as a translator from various languages, and sometimes when I get home from work, I just can't stop. Yesterday, for example, I saw an ad in The Hollywood Reporter. It was in English, but its meaning was not immediately obvious at all, so I felt an overwhelming impulse to translate it.

The ad featured a statement that former Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir had made in the 1950s about "the Arabs," but the ad (which leaves out the words "the Arabs") suggests that "her haunting words" are "as current as today's headlines. She could have been talking about Hamas." The quotation, as it appears in the ad, is as follows: "We can forgive [them] for killing our children. We cannot forgive them from forcing us to kill their children. We will only have peace with [them] when they love their children more than they hate us."

© Mohammed Asad / APA images

Adults care for Palestinian children wounded in an Israeli air strike at a hospital in Gaza City, 23 August.

My quick personal translation of this would be: "When we kill the children of Arabs, the Arabs made us do it. They hate us so much, they are so angry, that they do things that enrage us and make us kill children. If they were decent people who loved their children, they would set aside their hatred and stop provoking us, and we would then stop killing the children."

Sometimes a translator feels compelled to argue with the text he's just translated, particularly when, as in the case of this ad, one is confronted by a photograph of the author that makes one vividly feel her presence. In this case, I can only say that despite her wise and thoughtful and grandmotherly face, Golda Meir can be interpreted as saying here that she plans to kill the children of Arabs up until the moment when, in her sole judgment, the Arabs stop feeling "hate" and become sufficiently unprovoking and pacified.

Applying her remarks to the present day, as the signers of the ad suggest we should do, the ad seems fundamentally to be saying that it ought to be up to the current prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, to decide when the current killing ought to stop. I have to say, I feel that this ad, directed to members of the show business community, perhaps especially to Jewish members of the show business community such as myself, takes as its premise a false view both of history and of the present situation.

The broad outlines of the terrible history of the Jewish people over the centuries is relatively well-known to many of us. But unfortunately, many members of the show business community are not very aware of the tragic history of the Palestinian people. And yet the fact is that in my own lifetime (I was born in 1943) the Palestinian people have been expelled from their land and subjected to unceasing and unjustifiable torment, including a brutal occupation and, in Gaza, a regime in which an entire population has been placed on a starvation diet.

Anyone who learns more about what has happened can't help but realize that the anger of the Palestinians cannot be ended by killing their children. That is a fantasy. Human beings simply aren't made that way.

Shawn is reacting to what Columbia University professor Joseph Massad

has called

"an old Israeli casuistry used to justify Israel's carnage of Palestinians." In his 2011 article "

Are Palestinian children less worthy?


Massad shows how the demonization of Palestinian children and their parents has always accompanied Israel's frequent massacres.

Shawn's response comes after forty survivors of the Nazi genocide and 287 descendants of survivors and victims

published a letter

as an ad in

The New York Times

condemning Israel's massacre and rejecting a previous ad by anti-Palestinian author Elie Wiesel accusing Palestinians of "child sacrifice."

Shawn is well-known for his plays, later turned into films,

The Designated Mourner


Marie and Bruce


My Dinner With Andre


The Fever

. His voice is far better known to millions of children than his face through his roles in many animated films, including as "Rex" in the

Toy Story


He is on the

advisory board


Jewish Voice for Peace


The final nail in the coffin: The death of freedom in our schools

"Men fight for liberty and win it with hard knocks. Their children, brought up easy, let it slip away again, poor fools. And their grandchildren are once more slaves."―D.H. Lawrence

Police State USA

© www.lostrepublic.us

No matter what your perspective on the showdown between locals and law enforcement in Ferguson, Missouri, there can be no disputing the fact that "local" police should not be looking or acting like branches of the military.

Unfortunately, in the police state that is America today, we're going to find ourselves revisiting Ferguson over and over again. Every time an unarmed citizen gets shot by a police officer who is armed to the hilt, or inclined to shoot first and ask questions later, or so concerned about their own safety, to the exclusion of all else, that everything becomes a potential threat, we'll find ourselves back in Ferguson territory again.

Here's the thing, though: whether or not it ever gets reported, whether it incites any protests or marches or showdowns of epic proportions, whether it elicits any outrage on the part of the citizenry, Ferguson is already happening over and over again, all around us.

It's happening in small towns and big cities alike every time a citizen gets stopped and frisked for no better reason than they "look" suspicious. It's happening on the nation's highways and byways, where corporate greed disguised as road safety is making a hefty profit off of drivers who have the misfortune of passing a red light camera or a speed camera or a license plate reader. It's happening in the privately run jails, which are teeming with prisoners doing time for nonviolent crimes that should have landed them with a slap on the wrist and a fine instead of hard time and forced labor.

It's happening in our airports and train stations and shopping malls, where menacing squads of black-garbed, jack-booted, up-armored soldiers disguised as law enforcement officials are subjecting Americans to roving security checkpoints, allegedly in the pursuit of terrorists. And it's happening in the schools, where the school-to-prison pipeline is fully operational and busy churning out newly minted citizens of the American police state who have been taught the hard way what it means to comply and march in lockstep with the government's dictates.

Young Alex Stone didn't even make it past the first week of school before he became a victim of the police state. Directed by his teacher to do a creative writing assignment involving a series of fictional Facebook statuses, Stone wrote, "I killed my neighbor's pet dinosaur. I bought the gun to take care of the business." Despite the fact that dinosaurs are extinct, the status fabricated, and the South Carolina student was merely following orders, his teacher reported him to school administrators, who in turn called the police.

What followed is par for the course in schools today: students were locked down in their classrooms while armed police searched the 16-year-old's locker and bookbag, handcuffed him, charged him with disorderly conduct disturbing the school, arrested him, detained him, and then he was suspended from school. Stone's mother was never alerted to the school's concerns about her son's creative writing assignment or his subsequent interrogation and arrest.

Keshana Wilson, a 14-year-old student at a Pennsylvania high school, was tasered in the groin by a police officer working as a school resource officer, allegedly because she resisted arrest for cursing, inciting a crowd of students, and walking on the highway. One might be hard pressed to find a teenager not guilty of one or the other at any given time. Nevertheless, the tasering came


the officer grabbed the teenager from behind and pushed her up against a car, without identifying himself as a police officer. "The teenager had to be taken to hospital to have the taser probes removed before she was arrested and charged with aggravated assault on the officer, simple assault, riot, resisting arrest, disorderly conduct, failure to disperse and walking on the highway," noted one reporter.

Rounding out the lesson in compliance, police officers who patrol schools in Compton, Calif., are now authorized to buy semi-automatic AR-15 rifles and carry them in their patrol car trunks while on duty - a practice that is becoming increasingly common, according to Joe Grubbs, president of the California Association of School Resource Officers. A few states away, in Missouri, a new state law actually requires that all school districts participate in live-action school shooting drills, including realistic gunfire, students covered in fake blood, and bodies strewn throughout the hallways.

Now these incidents may seem light years away from the all-too-grim reality of the events that took place in Ferguson, Missouri, but they are, in fact, mere stops along the way to the American police state, and parents with kids returning to school would do well to consider these incidents fair warning, because today's public schools have become microcosms of the world beyond the schoolhouse gates, and increasingly, it's a world hostile to freedom.

As I show in my book

A Government of Wolves: The Emerging American Police State

, within America's public schools can be found almost every aspect of the American police state that plagues those of us on the "outside": metal detectors, surveillance cameras, militarized police, drug-sniffing dogs, tasers, cyber-surveillance, random searches, senseless arrests, jail time, the list goes on.

Whether it takes the form of draconian zero tolerance policies, overreaching anti-bullying statutes, police officers charged with tasering and arresting so-called unruly children, standardized testing with its emphasis on rote answers, political correctness, or the extensive surveillance systems cropping up in schools all over the country, young people in America are first in line to be indoctrinated into compliant citizens of the new American police state.

Zero tolerance policies, which punish all offenses severely, no matter how minor, condition young people to steer clear of doing anything that might be considered out of line, whether it's pointing their fingers like a gun, drawing on their desks, or chewing their gum too loudly.

Surveillance technologies, used by school officials, police, NSA agents, and corporate entities to track the everyday activities of students, accustom young people to life in an electronic concentration camp, with all of their movements monitored, their interactions assessed, and their activities recorded and archived. For example, the Department of Education (DOE) has created a system to track, archive and disseminate data on every single part of a child's educational career with colleges and state agencies such as the Department of Labor and the offices of Technology and Children and Family Services.

Metal detectors at school entrances and police patrolling school hallways acclimatize young people to being viewed as suspects. Funded in part by federal grants, school districts across the country have "paid local police agencies to provide armed 'school resource officers' for high schools, middle schools and sometimes even elementary schools." As the

New York Times

reports, "Hundreds of additional districts, including those in Houston, Los Angeles and Philadelphia, have created police forces of their own, employing thousands of sworn officers." The problem, of course, is that the very presence of these police officers in the schools results in greater numbers of students being arrested or charged with crimes for nonviolent, childish behavior. In Texas, for example, school police officers write more than 100,000 misdemeanor tickets a year, each ticket amounting to hundreds of dollars in court fines - a convenient financial windfall for the states. All too often, these incidents remain on students' permanent records, impacting college and job applications.

Weapons of compliance, such as tasers which deliver electrical shocks lethal enough to kill, not only teach young people to fear the police, the face of our militarized government, but teach them that torture is an accepted means of controlling the population. It's a problem that has grown exponentially as the schools have increasingly clamored for - and hired on - their own police forces. One high school student in Texas suffered severe brain damage and nearly died after being tasered. A 15-year-old disabled North Carolina student was tasered three times, resulting in punctured lungs. A New York student was similarly tasered for lying on the floor and crying.

Standardized testing and Common Core programs, which discourage students from thinking for themselves while rewarding them for regurgitating whatever the government, through its so-called educational standards, dictates they should be taught, will not only create a generation of test-takers capable of little else, but it will also constitute massive data collection on virtually every aspect of our children's lives which will be accessed by government agents and their corporate allies.

Overt censorship, monitoring and political correctness, which manifest themselves in a variety of ways, from Internet filters on school computers to sexual harassment policies, habituate young people to a world in which nonconformist, divergent, politically incorrect ideas and speech are treated as unacceptable or dangerous. In such an environment, a science teacher criticizing evolution can get fired for insubordination, a 9-year-old boy remarking that his teacher is "cute" can be suspended for sexual harassment, students detected using their smart phones during class time can be reported for not paying attention in class, and those accused of engaging in "bullying, cyber-bullying, hate and shaming activities, depression, harm and self harm, self hate and suicide, crime, vandalism, substance abuse and truancy" on social media such as Twitter or Facebook, will have their posts and comments analyzed by an outside government contractor.

As problematic as all of these programs are, however, what's really unnerving are the similarities between the American system of public education and that of totalitarian regimes such as Nazi Germany, with their overt campaigns of educational indoctrination. And while those who run America's schools may not be deliberately attempting to raise up a generation of Hitler Youth, they


teaching young people to march in lockstep with the all-powerful government - which may be just as dangerous in the end.

You don't have to take my word for it. The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum provides some valuable insight into education in the Nazi state, which was responsible for winning "millions of German young people ... over to Nazism in the classroom and through extracurricular activities." The similarities are startling, ranging from the dismissal of teachers deemed to be "politically unreliable" to the introduction of classroom textbooks that taught students obedience to state authority and militarism. "Board games and toys for children served as another way to spread racial and political propaganda to German youth. Toys were also used as propaganda vehicles to indoctrinate children into militarism." And then there was the Hitler Youth, a paramilitary youth group intended to train young people for future service in the armed forces and government.

Hitler himself recognized the value of indoctrinating young people. As he noted, "When an opponent declares, 'I will not come over to your side, and you will not get me on your side,' I calmly say, 'Your child belongs to me already. A people lives forever. What are you? You will pass on. Your descendants however now stand in the new camp. In a short time they will know nothing else but this new community.'"

In the face of such a mechanized, bureaucratic school system that demands conformity, indoctrinating and enslaving their minds while punishing anyone who dares step out of line, American school children are indeed powerless. And they will remain helpless, powerless and in bondage to the police state unless "we the people" take the steps to set them free.

Diplomacy not escalation: Poroshenko meets with Putin in Belarus to discuss peace plan for Donbass

Comment: Notice the change of tone and words coming from Poroshenko. Has he simply received a new script from his foreign masters, or has he realized the futility of his government's actions these past months? Time will tell!

putin poroshenko

© AFP Photo / Sergei Bondarenko

Got you where I want you! Putin and Poroshenko meet for first time in over 2 months.

Vladimir Putin and Petro Poroshenko shook hands as talks between the Eurasian Customs Union, EU and Ukraine began in Minsk. The crisis in eastern Ukraine is likely to dominate the agenda, with Poroshenko calling on the forum to accept his peace plan.

Putin and Poroshenko greeted each other with a handshake as they met in the Belarusian capital at the start of talks on the Ukrainian crisis.

In the opening statement, Russia's president said that

Moscow is interested in not only maintaining its cooperation with Ukraine, but even expanding it


However, Putin expressed doubt that the two countries will be able to achieve this goal in case of Kiev's association with the European Union gets enacted.

Moscow will be forced to implement countermeasures if this happens

, he added.

"We do not want to discriminate against anybody," he said. "We are simply going to implement a standard trade regime regarding Ukraine - the same, which is used in relations between Russia and the EU."

Ukraine's Petro Poroshenko stated the goal of his visit is

to do everything possible to stop bloodshed in the country's restive east and begin process of finding a political compromise

. The effective means for that is establishing good border controls, he noted.

Poroshenko also called on the meeting to accept his peace plan for Donbass, a historical name for Ukraine's eastern provinces.

"I am convinced this plan remains relevant today and would be an effective means to stop the bloodshed and to start rebuilding Donbass," he said, pledging to take the interests of the people living in the region into account.

Comment: The infrastructure in Donbass is in such shambles that only two options seem viable: secession and joining Russia, or the inclusion in a federalized Ukraine. True independence for the People's Republics probably will not work. So Poroshenko is presented with a choice: continue the conflict, in which case Russia will take more countermeasures that will ultimately be felt in Ukraine, or come to some sort of compromise. It just depends on which stick frightens the Chocolate King more: U.S./NATO/EU or Russia.

In his turn,

Kazakhstan's President Nursultan Nazarbayev urged the Customs Union of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan to provide joint humanitarian aid to Ukraine


Comment: Which brings the list of actual states that care about the people in east Ukraine to a whopping 3.

"A break for a truce is essential," Nazarbayev said, adding that a ceasefire should be announced in Ukraine in order "for the children and women affected by the conflict to get help."

Praising the initiative, Poroshenko said

an international forum on the humanitarian crisis in eastern Ukraine is set for autumn

; both the EU and Customs Union are invited to take part.

The negotiations in Minsk are part of a Customs Union summit, which also includes the Ukrainian president and representatives of the European Commission, the Kremlin's press service said prior to the meeting. The Customs Union comprises Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan.

The humanitarian situation in eastern Ukraine will be discussed during the meeting between the Customs Union and Ukraine, according to Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov.

"[One] can't ignore the catastrophic situation in eastern regions of Ukraine, especially in Donetsk and Lugansk [Regions]," he said, adding that the key issue on the agenda is "the relations between and countries of the Customs Union and Ukraine, including in the aftermath of the signing of the Kiev Association Agreement."

Peskov also didn't exclude the bilateral meeting between Putin and his Ukrainian counterpart.

"There are many issues for discussion [between Putin and Poroshenko]," he said, "They [issues] include

Ukrainian domestic crisis

and terrible humanitarian catastrophe in the country's east, and the necessity of the ceasefire."

Comment: Only an idiot in Ukraine can't see that the west of the country is also experiencing a crisis at the hands of U.S. control and meddling. But will Kiev continue to sell themselves to the highest bidder, and suffer as a result, or make the sane choice and disobey their masters?

Putin and Poroshenko may also discuss "bilateral relations between Russian Federation and Ukraine," including in the aftermath of Kiev's signing the European Trade Association Agreement with the EU.

The bilateral talks between Putin and Poroshenko, if they take place,

will be the first negotiations between the leaders

. They last met during the D-Day anniversary commemorations in Normandy, France on June 6 - a day before Poroshenko's inauguration as Ukrainian president. However, that meeting lasted less than 10 minutes and included German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President François Hollande.

In Minsk, the European Union will be represented by foreign policy chief

Catherine Ashton

, Energy Commissioner Günther Oettinger and Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht.





Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko said ahead of the talks said that he intends to discuss a peaceful way of regulating the crisis in eastern Ukraine.

"The intensity of the dialogue [in Minsk] will be very high," said Poroshenko, adding that the key issue of the talks will be peace.

"The Ukrainian nation and I stand firm that a peaceful plan of [solving crisis in] Ukraine should come into force," he added.

Kiev's military crackdown in the southeast of the country began in April after the people in eastern Donetsk and Lugansk Regions refused to recognize the new coup-imposed authorities and demanded federalization of the country.

According to the UN, over 2,000 people have so far been killed and over 5,000 wounded in the fighting.

On Monday, Russia commenced the distribution of humanitarian aid in the city of Lugansk. But, the humanitarian situation remains "critical" in the city as people are forced to survive without electricity, water and communications due to ongoing fighting between the Kiev troops and the local self-defense forces, Lugansk City Council said.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov spoke about the necessity of talks in Minsk to regulate the situation in Ukraine's east.

"All the participants [of the talks in Minsk] agree that it is necessary to start a political dialogue," said Lavrov.

He added that

Russia is willing and ready to participate in full in any type of negotiations on ending hostilities in the east

, and expressed hope that the meeting in Minsk will include a focus on the crisis in Ukraine.

"We [Russia] are ready to all type of negotiations, if only we had a result," he added.

Big Brother Never Stops Spying: The NSA built its own search engine of millions of Americans that law enforcement agencies can access

The National Security Agency is secretly providing data to nearly two dozen U.S. government agencies with a "Google-like" search engine built to share more than 850 billion records about phone calls, emails, cellphone locations, and internet chats, according to classified documents obtained by

The Intercept


The documents provide the first definitive evidence that the NSA has for years made massive amounts of surveillance data directly accessible to domestic law enforcement agencies.

Planning documents for ICREACH, as the search engine is called, cite the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Drug Enforcement Administration as key participants.

ICREACH contains information on the private communications of foreigners and, it appears, millions of records on American citizens who have not been accused of any wrongdoing.

Details about its existence are contained in the archive of materials provided to

The Intercept

by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.

Earlier revelations sourced to the Snowden documents have exposed a multitude of NSA programs for collecting large volumes of communications. The NSA has acknowledged that it shares some of its collected data with domestic agencies like the FBI, but details about the method and scope of its sharing have remained shrouded in secrecy.

ICREACH has been accessible to more than 1,000 analysts at 23 U.S. government agencies that perform intelligence work, according to

a 2010 memo

. A planning


from 2007 lists the DEA, FBI, Central Intelligence Agency, and the Defense Intelligence Agency as core members. Information shared through ICREACH can be used to track people's movements, map out their networks of associates, help predict future actions, and potentially reveal religious affiliations or political beliefs.

The creation of ICREACH represented a landmark moment in the history of classified U.S. government surveillance, according to the NSA documents.

"The ICREACH team delivered the first-ever wholesale sharing of communications metadata within the U.S. Intelligence Community," noted

a top-secret memo

dated December 2007. "This team began over two years ago with a basic concept compelled by the IC's increasing need for communications metadata and NSA's ability to collect, process and store vast amounts of communications metadata related to worldwide intelligence targets."

The search tool was designed to be the largest system for internally sharing secret surveillance records in the United States, capable of handling two to five billion new records every day, including more than 30 different kinds of metadata on emails, phone calls, faxes, internet chats, and text messages, as well as location information collected from cellphones. Metadata reveals information about a communication - such as the "to" and "from" parts of an email, and the time and date it was sent, or the phone numbers someone called and when they called - but not the content of the message or audio of the call.

ICREACH does not appear to have a direct relationship to the large NSA database, previously

reported by The Guardian

, that stores information on millions of ordinary Americans' phone calls under Section 215 of the Patriot Act.

Unlike the 215 database, which is accessible to a small number of NSA employees and can be searched only in terrorism-related investigations, ICREACH grants access to a vast pool of data that can be mined by analysts from across the intelligence community for "foreign intelligence" - a vague term that is far broader than counterterrorism.

Data available through ICREACH appears to be primarily derived from surveillance of foreigners' communications, and planning documents show that it draws on a variety of different sources of data maintained by the NSA. Though

one 2010 internal paper

clearly calls it "the ICREACH database," a U.S. official familiar with the system disputed that, telling

The Intercept

that while "it enables the sharing of certain foreign intelligence metadata," ICREACH is "not a repository [and] does not store events or records." Instead, it appears to provide analysts with the ability to perform a one-stop search of information from a wide variety of separate databases.

In a statement to

The Intercept

, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence confirmed that the system shares data that is swept up by programs authorized under Executive Order 12333, a


Reagan-era presidential directive that underpins several NSA bulk surveillance operations that monitor communications overseas.

The 12333 surveillance takes place with no court oversight and has received minimal Congressional scrutiny because it is targeted at foreign, not domestic, communication networks.

But the broad scale of 12333 surveillance means that some Americans' communications get caught in the dragnet as they transit international cables or satellites - and documents contained in the Snowden archive indicate that ICREACH taps into some of that data.

Legal experts told

The Intercept

they were shocked to learn about the scale of the ICREACH system and are concerned that law enforcement authorities might use it for domestic investigations that are not related to terrorism.

"To me, this is extremely troublesome," said Elizabeth Goitein, co-director of the Liberty and National Security Program at the New York University School of Law's

Brennan Center for Justice


"The myth that metadata is just a bunch of numbers and is not as revealing as actual communications content was exploded long ago - this is a trove of incredibly sensitive information."

Brian Owsley, a federal magistrate judge between 2005 and 2013, said he was alarmed that traditional law enforcement agencies such as the FBI and the DEA were among those with access to the NSA's surveillance troves.

"This is not something that I think the government should be doing," said Owsley, an assistant professor of law at Indiana Tech Law School. "Perhaps if information is useful in a specific case, they can get judicial authority to provide it to another agency. But there shouldn't be this buddy-buddy system back-and-forth."

Jeffrey Anchukaitis, an


spokesman, declined to comment on a series of questions from

The Intercept

about the size and scope of ICREACH, but said that sharing information had become "a pillar of the post-9/11 intelligence community" as part of an effort to prevent valuable intelligence from being "stove-piped in any single office or agency."

Using ICREACH to query the surveillance data, "analysts can develop vital intelligence leads without requiring access to raw intelligence collected by other IC [Intelligence Community] agencies," Anchukaitis said. "In the case of NSA, access to raw signals intelligence is strictly limited to those with the training and authority to handle it appropriately. The highest priority of the intelligence community is to work within the constraints of law to collect, analyze and understand information related to potential threats to our national security."

One-Stop Shopping

The mastermind behind ICREACH was recently retired NSA director Gen. Keith Alexander, who outlined his vision for the system in

a classified 2006 letter

to the then-Director of National Intelligence John Negroponte. The search tool, Alexander wrote, would "allow unprecedented volumes of communications metadata to be shared and analyzed," opening up a "vast, rich source of information" for other agencies to exploit. By late 2007 the NSA reported to its employees that the system had gone live as a pilot program.

The NSA described ICREACH as a "one-stop shopping tool" for analyzing communications. The system would enable at least a 12-fold increase in the volume of metadata being shared between intelligence community agencies, the documents


. Using ICREACH, the NSA planned to boost the amount of communications "events" it shared with other U.S. government agencies from 50 billion to more than 850 billion, bolstering an older top-secret data sharing system named CRISSCROSS/PROTON, which was launched in the 1990s and managed by the CIA.

To allow government agents to sift through the masses of records on ICREACH, engineers designed a simple "Google-like" search interface. This enabled analysts to run searches against particular "selectors" associated with a person of interest - such as an email address or phone number - and receive a page of results displaying, for instance, a list of phone calls made and received by a suspect over a month-long period. The documents suggest these results can be used reveal the "social network" of the person of interest - in other words, those that they communicate with, such as friends, family, and other associates.

The purpose of ICREACH, projected initially to cost between $2.5 million and $4.5 million per year, was to allow government agents to comb through the NSA's metadata troves to identify new leads for investigations, to predict potential future threats against the U.S., and to keep tabs on what the NSA calls "worldwide intelligence targets."

However, the documents make clear that it is not only data about foreigners' communications that are available on the system. Alexander's memo states that

"many millions of...minimized communications metadata records" would be available through ICREACH

, a reference to the process of "minimization," whereby identifying information - such as part of a phone number or email address - is removed so it is not visible to the analyst. NSA documents define minimization as "specific procedures to minimize the acquisition and retention [of] information concerning unconsenting U.S. persons" -

making it a near certainty that ICREACH gives analysts access to millions of records about Americans.

The "minimized" information can still be retained under NSA rules for up to five years and "unmasked" at any point during that period if it is ever deemed necessary for an investigation.

The Brennan Center's Goitein said it appeared that with ICREACH, the government "drove a truck" through loopholes that allowed it to circumvent restrictions on retaining data about Americans. This raises a variety of legal and constitutional issues, according to Goitein, particularly if the data can be easily searched on a large scale by agencies like the FBI and DEA for their domestic investigations.

"The idea with minimization is that the government is basically supposed to pretend this information doesn't exist, unless it falls under certain narrow categories," Goitein said. "But functionally speaking, what we're seeing here is that minimization means, 'we'll hold on to the data as long as we want to, and if we see anything that interests us then we can use it.'"

A key question, according to several experts consulted by

The Intercept

, is whether the FBI, DEA or other domestic agencies have used their access to ICREACH to secretly trigger investigations of Americans through a controversial process known as "parallel construction."

Parallel construction involves law enforcement agents using information gleaned from covert surveillance, but later covering up their use of that data by creating a new evidence trail that excludes it.

This hides the true origin of the investigation from defense lawyers and, on occasion, prosecutors and judges - which means the legality of the evidence that triggered the investigation cannot be challenged in court.

In practice, this could mean that a DEA agent identifies an individual he believes is involved in drug trafficking in the United States on the basis of information stored on ICREACH. The agent begins an investigation but pretends, in his records of the investigation, that the original tip did not come from the secret trove. Last year, Reuters

first reported

details of parallel construction based on NSA data, linking the practice to a unit known as the Special Operations Division, which Reuters said distributes tips from NSA intercepts and a DEA database known as DICE.

Tampa attorney James Felman, chair of the American Bar Association's criminal justice section, told

The Intercept

that parallel construction is a "tremendously problematic" tactic because law enforcement agencies "must be honest with courts about where they are getting their information." The ICREACH revelations, he said, "raise the question of whether parallel construction is present in more cases than we had thought. And if that's true, it is deeply disturbing and disappointing."

Anchukaitis, the ODNI spokesman, declined to say whether ICREACH has been used to aid domestic investigations, and he would not name all of the agencies with access to the data. "Access to information-sharing tools is restricted to users conducting foreign intelligence analysis who have the appropriate training to handle the data," he said.

© Greg Mathieson/Mai/Mai/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images

CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia, 2001


The roots of ICREACH can be traced back more than two decades.

In the early 1990s, the CIA and the DEA embarked on a secret initiative called Project CRISSCROSS. The agencies built a database system to analyze phone billing records and phone directories, in order to identify links between intelligence targets and other persons of interest. At first, CRISSCROSS was used in Latin America and was "extremely successful" at identifying narcotics-related suspects. It stored only five kinds of metadata on phone calls: date, time, duration, called number, and calling number, according to

an NSA memo


The program rapidly grew in size and scope. By 1999, the NSA, the Defense Intelligence Agency, and the FBI had gained access to CRISSCROSS and were contributing information to it. As CRISSCROSS continued to expand, it was supplemented with a system called PROTON that enabled analysts to store and examine additional types of data. These included unique codes used to identify individual cellphones, location data, text messages, passport and flight records, visa application information, as well as excerpts culled from CIA intelligence reports.

An NSA memo


that PROTON could identify people based on whether they behaved in a "similar manner to a specific target." The memo also said the system "identifies correspondents in common with two or more targets, identifies potential new phone numbers when a target switches phones, and identifies networks of organizations based on communications within the group." In July 2006, the NSA estimated that it was storing 149 billion phone records on PROTON.

According to the NSA documents, PROTON was used to track down "High Value Individuals" in the United States and Iraq, investigate front companies, and discover information about foreign government operatives. CRISSCROSS enabled major narcotics arrests and was integral to the CIA's rendition program during the Bush Administration, which involved abducting terror suspects and flying them to secret "black site" prisons where they were brutally interrogated and sometimes tortured.

One NSA document

on the system, dated from July 2005, noted that the use of communications metadata "has been a contribution to virtually every successful rendition of suspects and often, the deciding factor."

However, the NSA came to view CRISSCROSS/PROTON as insufficient, in part due to the aging standard of its technology. The intelligence community was sensitive to criticism that it had failed to share information that could potentially have helped prevent the 9/11 attacks, and it had been strongly criticized for intelligence failures before the invasion of Iraq in 2003. For the NSA, it was time to build a new and more advanced system to radically increase metadata sharing.

A New Standard

In 2006, NSA director Alexander drafted his

secret proposal

to then-Director of National Intelligence Negroponte.

Alexander laid out his vision for what he described as a "communications metadata coalition" that would be led by the NSA. His idea was to build a sophisticated new tool that would grant other federal agencies access to "more than 50 existing NSA/CSS metadata fields contained in trillions of records" and handle "many millions" of new minimized records every day - indicating that a large number of Americans' communications would be included.

The NSA's contributions to the ICREACH system, Alexander wrote, "would dwarf the volume of NSA's present contributions to PROTON, as well as the input of all other [intelligence community] contributors."

Alexander explained in the memo that NSA was already collecting "vast amounts of communications metadata" and was preparing to share some of it on a system called GLOBALREACH with its counterparts in the so-called Five Eyes surveillance alliance: the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand.

ICREACH, he proposed, could be designed like GLOBALREACH and accessible only to U.S. agencies in the intelligence community, or IC.

A top-secret

PowerPoint presentation from May 2007

illustrated how ICREACH would work - revealing its "Google-like" search interface and showing how the NSA planned to link it to the DEA, DIA, CIA, and the FBI. Each agency would access and input data through a secret data "broker" - a sort of digital letterbox - linked to the central NSA system. ICREACH, according to the presentation, would also receive metadata from the Five Eyes allies.

The aim was not necessarily for ICREACH to completely replace CRISSCROSS/PROTON, but rather to complement it. The NSA planned to use the new system to perform more advanced kinds of surveillance - such as "pattern of life analysis," which involves monitoring who individuals communicate with and the places they visit over a period of several months, in order to observe their habits and predict future behavior.

The NSA agreed to train other U.S. government agencies to use ICREACH. Intelligence analysts could be "certified" for access to the massive database if they required access in support of a given mission, worked as an analyst within the U.S. intelligence community, and had top-secret security clearance. (According to

the latest government figures

, there are more than 1.2 million government employees and contractors with top-secret clearance.)

In November 2006, according to the documents, the Director of National Intelligence approved the proposal. ICREACH was rolled out as a test program by late 2007. It's not clear when it became fully operational, but

a September 2010 NSA memo

referred to it as the primary tool for sharing data in the intelligence community. "ICREACH has been identified by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence as the U.S. Intelligence Community's standard architecture for sharing communications metadata," the memo states, adding that it provides "telephony metadata events" from the NSA and its Five Eyes partners "to over 1000 analysts across 23 U.S. Intelligence Community agencies." It does not name all of the 23 agencies, however.

The limitations placed on analysts authorized to sift through the vast data troves are not outlined in the Snowden files, with only scant references to oversight mechanisms

. According to the documents, searches performed by analysts are subject to auditing by the agencies for which they work. The documents also say the NSA would conduct random audits of the system to check for any government agents abusing their access to the data.

The Intercept

asked the NSA and the ODNI whether any analysts had been found to have conducted improper searches, but the agencies declined to comment.

While the NSA initially estimated making upwards of 850 billion records available on ICREACH, the documents indicate that target could have been surpassed, and that the number of personnel accessing the system may have increased since the 2010 reference to more than 1,000 analysts. The intelligence community's top-secret "Black Budget" for 2013, also obtained by Snowden,


that the NSA recently sought new funding to upgrade ICREACH to "provide IC analysts with access to a wider set of shareable data."

In December last year, a surveillance review group appointed by President Obama


that as a general rule "the government should not be permitted to collect and store all mass, undigested, non-public personal information about individuals to enable future queries and data-mining for foreign intelligence purposes." It also recommended that any information about United States persons should be "purged upon detection unless it either has foreign intelligence value or is necessary to prevent serious harm to others."

Peter Swire, one of the five members of the review panel, told

The Intercept

he could not comment on whether the group was briefed on specific programs such as ICREACH, but noted that the review group raised concerns that "the need to share had gone too far among multiple agencies."

Major seismic event imminent ? Strange glowing lights seen by pilots over part of the Pacific Ring of Fire

Strange lights have been spotted near the Russian peninsula of Kamchatka (image by Dutch pilot JPC van Heijst). The sighting was made by pilots flying from Hong Kong to Alaska. The glow came about 20 minutes after a vertical lightning bolt was seen

* Strange lights have been spotted near the Russian peninsula of Kamchatka

* The sighting was made by pilots flying from Hong Kong to Alaska

* The glow came about 20 minutes after a vertical lightning bolt was seen

* Dutch pilot van Heijst ruled out squid-fishing-boats as the origin

* He says the cause may have been an underwater volcano

* An ongoing investigation is taking place to find out what happened

A pilot and his co-pilot have spotted a mysterious orange and red glow over the Pacific Ocean.

The strange lights were spotted south of the Russian peninsula Kamchatka during the flight of a Boeing 747-8 from Hong Kong to Anchorage, Alaska.

And while no explanation has yet been given,

it's thought that they may have originated from the explosion of a huge volcano under the surface of the ocean.

Dutch pilot JPC van Heijst explained on


how, five hours into the ten-hour flight,

they spotted an intense flash of light like a lightning bolt, directed vertically up in the distance.


his was then followed by a deep red and orange glow 20 minutes later.

And the experience left van Heijst somewhat perturbed, owing to the lack of an explanation for what happened.

'Last night over the Pacific Ocean, somewhere South of the Russian peninsula Kamchatka I experienced the creepiest thing so far in my flying career,' he said.

There were no thunderstorms on their route or weather-radar, suggesting the lightning did not originate in a storm.

The glow is also a mystery; similar lights have been spotted from squid-fishing-boats, but van Heijst says this 'would not make sense in this area'.


The closer we got, the more intense the glow became, illuminating the clouds and sky below us in a scary orange glow, in a part of the world where there was supposed to be nothing but water,'

he continued.

'The only cause of this red glow that we could think of, was the explosion of a huge volcano just underneath the surface of the ocean, about 30 minutes before we overflew that exact position.'

He was then nervous of encountering an ash-plume in the middle of the night, but fortunately they did not encounter anything of the sort.

Before the flight they had heard via radio about earthquakes in Iceland, Chile and San Francisco.

But despite their being a few volcanoes on their route, they had had not been alerted to any new activity -

although this doesn't necessarily include unseen underwater volcanoes.

The strange lights (shown at the pink dot) were spotted south of the Russian peninsula Kamchatka during a flight from Hong Kong to Anchorage, Alaska (flight path in blue)

Van Heijst ruled out squid-fishing-boats as the origin. He says the cause may have been an underwater volcano. An ongoing investigation is taking place to find out what happened

Together with his co-pilot van Heijst says they felt 'everything but comfortable', while no other aircraft were nearby to confirm the sighting.

'We reported our observations to Air Traffic Control and an investigation into what happened in this remote region of the ocean is now started,' he added.

'Now I'm just hoping that if a new island has been formed there [from the eruption], at least it can be named after me as the official discoverer.

'That would be pretty cool!'

‘The closer we got, the more intense the glow became, illuminating the clouds and sky below us in a scary orange glow, in a part of the world where there was supposed to be nothing but water,’ said van Heijst

Around the Pacific Ocean is a region known as the Ring of Fire, where a large number of earthquakes and volcanic eruptions occur that may have been the origin of glow. The horseshoe shape is 25,000 miles (40,000 km) and, with 452 volcanoes, is home to more than 75 per cent of the planet's active and dormant volcanoes


After the initial vertical lightning bolt it was thought the phenomenon could have been a thunderstorm, but that was ruled out when none were reported in the area.

The predominant theory at the moment is that the lights were caused by an underwater volcano.

Such eruptions are not unprecedented; on 21 November 2013 an submarine volcano famously created a new 'island' off the coast of Japan.

Another explanation is they were caused by lights from fishing boats.

Last week astronaut Reid Riseman was left baffled by a similarly bizarre green flurry of lights (shown below) off the coast of Bangkok.

It is thought those lights were in fact created by fishing boats. The offshore illumination comes from enormous arrays of bright green LED lights used to attract squid and other sea life to the surface.

However that explanation has been ruled out for the latest mystery glow, as more than 50 boats would be needed to produce light of this magnitude - but no fleet of fishing boats was thought to be operating in the area.