March 10, 2015
Crisis: New Zealand, CIA vs Apple, HSBC+Green, TTIP, neo-cons, US weapons
  "They who can give up essential 
   liberty to obtain a little temporary
   safety, deserve neither liberty
   nor safety."
   -- Benjamin Franklin
   "All governments lie and nothing
   they say should be believed.
   -- I.F. Stone
   "Power tends to corrupt, and   
   absolute power corrupts
   absolutely. Great men are        
   almost always bad men."
   -- Lord Acton

Prev- crisis -Next


1. New Zealand Prime Minister Retracts Vow To Resign if
     Mass Surveillance Is Shown

2. The CIA Campaign to Steal Apple’s Secrets
3. HSBC: Tory MPs accused of blocking watchdog's bid to
     question Green

TTIP must not allow companies to sue EU countries for
     environmental laws, say MPs

How to Become a Conservative in Four Embarrassing

6. US Weapons Exporters Lead World in War Profiteering


This is a Nederlog of Tuesday, March 10, 2015.

This is a crisis blog. There are 6 items with 6 dotted links: Item 1 is on New Zealand and its prime minister (who lied, lied and lied); item 2 is on the efforts of the CIA to steal Apple's encryption keys (and is too large to decently excerpt here, but it is interesting); item 3 is on the HSBC's former CEO, who seems to have worked - very profitably, thank you - for the world's biggest drugs cartel; item 4 is about the TTIP (at long last in the main press, but not very well); item 5 is some advice on how you may become a neo-con; and item 6 shows one of the real motives for the U.S. to engage in so many wars: most profits go to U.S. companies.

Also, this NL gets uploaded a bit earlier than normal.

1. New Zealand Prime Minister Retracts Vow To Resign if Mass Surveillance Is Shown

The first item today is an article by Glenn Greenwald on The Intercept:
  • New Zealand Prime Minister Retracts Vow To Resign if Mass Surveillance Is Shown
This starts as follows:
In August, 2013, as evidence emerged of the active participation by New Zealand in the “Five Eyes” mass surveillance program exposed by Edward Snowden, the country’s conservative Prime Minister, John Key, vehemently denied that his government engages in such spying. He went beyond mere denials, expressly vowing to resign if it were ever proven that his government engages in mass surveillance of New Zealanders. He issued that denial, and the accompanying resignation vow, in order to re-assure the country over fears provoked by a new bill he advocated to increase the surveillance powers of that country’s spying agency, Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) – a bill that passed by one vote thanks to the Prime Minister’s guarantees that the new law would not permit mass surveillance.
Since then, a mountain of evidence has been presented that indisputably proves that New Zealand does exactly that which Prime Minister Key vehemently denied – exactly that which he said he would resign if it were proven was done.
I say. And in fact, the above is a continuous quotation: On the "(...)" there is a photograph of The New Zealand Herald from August 20, 2013, which has a picture of Key, with the following text - and the GSCB is New Zealand's GSHC i.e. its NSA:
Prime Minister John Key says he and the head of the GSCB would resign if the spy agency were found to have conducted mass surveillance.

He made the comment to reporters at Parliament in the light of assurances that the changes to the GSCB Act 2003 would not mean mass surveillance of New Zealanders.

Asked if GSCB chief Ian Fletcher would resign if there were mass surveillance, he said yes.
Well... PM John Key lied, lied, and lied.

Also, in 2014 Edward Snowden wrote an article for The Intercept, in which he said (italics in the original):
Let me be clear: any statement that mass surveillance is not performed in New Zealand, or that the internet communications are not comprehensively intercepted and monitored, or that this is not intentionally and actively abetted by the GCSB, is categorically false. . . . The prime minister’s claim to the public, that “there is no and there never has been any mass surveillance” is false. The GCSB, whose operations he is responsible for, is directly involved in the untargeted, bulk interception and algorithmic analysis of private communications sent via internet, satellite, radio, and phone networks.
In brief (skipping a fair amount):
That the New Zealand government engages in precisely the mass surveillance activities Key vehemently denied is now barely in dispute. Indeed, a former director of GCSB under Key, Sir Bruce Ferguson, while denying any abuse of New Zealander’s communications, now admits that the agency engages in mass surveillance.
Yes, indeed. And here is one consequence:
So now that it’s proven that New Zealand does exactly that which Prime Minister Key vowed would cause him to resign if it were proven, is he preparing his resignation speech? No: that’s something a political official with a minimal amount of integrity would do.
And John Key does not have even a minimal amount of personal integrity: He is a liar, a cheat, a deceiver and an immoral degenerate, but indeed he shares that with most modern Western politicians [1]:
The history of reporting from the Snowden archive has been one of serial dishonesty from numerous governments: such as the way European officials at first pretended to be outraged victims of NSA only for it to be revealed that, in many ways, they are active collaborators in the very system they were denouncing.
Yes, precisely - and being Dutch, one such political liar which comes to mind is Ronald Plasterk (who pretends being "a social democrat"), but this is an aside. (Holland is probably nearly as provincial as New Zealand is, and also as well known. [2])

Here is Glenn Greenwald's moral inference from the above:
But overtly reneging on a public pledge to resign is a new level of political scandal. Key was just re-elected for his third term, and like any political official who stays in power too long, he has the despot’s mentality that he’s beyond all ethical norms and constraints.
I mostly agree, though I'd rather say Key is a proven cheat, liar, deceiver and moral degenerate.

2. The CIA Campaign to Steal Apple’s Secrets

The next item is an article by Jeremy Scahill and Josh Begley:
  • The CIA Campaign to Steal Apple’s Secrets
This starts as follows (bolding in the original):
RESEARCHERS WORKING with the Central Intelligence Agency have conducted a multi-year, sustained effort to break the security of Apple’s iPhones and iPads, according to top-secret documents obtained by The Intercept.

The security researchers presented their latest tactics and achievements at a secret annual gathering, called the “Jamboree,” where attendees discussed strategies for exploiting security flaws in household and commercial electronics. The conferences have spanned nearly a decade, with the first CIA-sponsored meeting taking place a year before the first iPhone was released.

By targeting essential security keys used to encrypt data stored on Apple’s devices, the researchers have sought to thwart the company’s attempts to provide mobile security to hundreds of millions of Apple customers across the globe. Studying both “physical” and “non-invasive” techniques, U.S. government-sponsored research has been aimed at discovering ways to decrypt and ultimately penetrate Apple’s encrypted firmware. This could enable spies to plant malicious code on Apple devices and seek out potential vulnerabilities in other parts of the iPhone and iPad currently masked by encryption.

I note first that this is a long and a good article, that you should read all of. I will quote some bits, but cannot excerpt all.

Here is a cryptography expert:
“If U.S. products are OK to target, that’s news to me,” says Matthew Green, a cryptography expert at Johns Hopkins University’s Information Security Institute. “Tearing apart the products of U.S. manufacturers and potentially putting backdoors in software distributed by unknowing developers all seems to be going a bit beyond ‘targeting bad guys.’ It may be a means to an end, but it’s a hell of a means.”
He seems a bit naive to me, but yes: The point of the "War on Terrorism" wasn't and isn't terrorism (the "bad guys") - the primary aim was to get total control of every computer and every phone, and the aim behind that was to get complete control of the population (as I have said since 2005, indeed before knowing anything about the NSA and its mates). That is, the threat of terrorism has been used to give state terrorism as executed by the state's secret services the upper hand everywhere and have its hands, in secret, on everyone.

This is about the research directed against Apple's security sytems:
The Apple research is consistent with a much broader secret U.S. government program to analyze “secure communications products, both foreign and domestic” in order to “develop exploitation capabilities against the authentication and encryption schemes,” according to the 2013 Congressional Budget Justification. Known widely as the “Black Budget,” the top-secret CBJ was provided to The Intercept by Snowden and gives a sprawling overview of the U.S. intelligence community’s spending and architecture. The White House did not respond to a request for comment.
There are several entries like the last one: "The White House did not respond to a request for comment" - and it may be inferred from the last statement that "the White House" does know what it does do and does support.

There is this from a spokesperson for the ACLU:

“The U.S. government is prioritizing its own offensive surveillance needs over the cybersecurity of the millions of Americans who use Apple products,” says Christopher Soghoian, the principal technologist at the American Civil Liberties Union. “If U.S. government-funded researchers can discover these flaws, it is quite likely that Chinese, Russian and Israeli researchers can discover them, too. By quietly exploiting these flaws rather than notifying Apple, the U.S. government leaves Apple’s customers vulnerable to other sophisticated governments.”
Yes, indeed - but I think "the U.S. government" knows that at least as well as the ACLU, and indeed it also doesn't care: If it can control its own population, it doesn't matter much if - say - the Chinese know as much about U.S. citizens as the U.S. government does: The Chinese government lords over China; the U.S. government wants to lord over the U.S. as the Chinese government lords over China, for if it were otherwise, the U.S. government would act other than it does.

Indeed, there is this:
One GCHQ slide from 2010 stated that the agency’s ultimate goal was to be able to “Exploit any phone, anywhere, any time.”
And there is this on the efforts of the U.S./U.K. agencies that seems quite correct to me:
(..) are part of a vast multi-agency U.S./U.K. effort to attack commercial encryption and security systems used on billions of devices around the world. U.S. intelligence agencies are not just focusing on individual terrorists or criminals — they are targeting the large corporations, such as Apple, that produce popular mobile devices
And these secret governmental agencies are targeting the large corporations because they want all the power and all the knowledge they can get, and are very willing to trample all privacy and all rights for it: They want absolute power, and indeed may eventually get it.

Finally, I quote this:
“If I were Tim Cook, I’d be furious,” says the ACLU’s Soghoian. “If Apple is mad at the intelligence community, and they should be, they should put their lawyers to work. Lawsuits speak louder than words.”
Yes. Also, I say again that this is a long and good article that you really should read all of, and that I have not excerpted a lot.

3. HSBC: Tory MPs accused of blocking watchdog's bid to question Green 

The next item is an article by Rajeev Syal and Juliette Garside on The Guardian:

  • HSBC: Tory MPs accused of blocking watchdog's bid to question Green

This starts as follows:

Conservative MPs have been accused of blocking a parliamentary committee’s attempt to scrutinise the former HSBC boss and minister Stephen Green over the tax scandal at Britain’s largest bank.

A proposal put forward by a Labour MP to call the bank’s former chief executive, who later became a Conservative minister, before the powerful Tory-dominated public accounts committee (PAC) has been voted down, sources confirmed.

Lord Green, who left HSBC to join the House of Lords as a Conservative peer and trade minister in 2010 after three decades at the bank, has yet to be questioned by any parliamentary committee over the scandal. Green stepped down as a trade minister at the end of 2013 but remains a peer.

The disclosure will prompt further accusations that the Conservatives have launched a concerted effort to stop scrutiny of Green because of his relationship with the prime minister.

To start with, here is a link to the Wikipedia entry on Stephen Green, from which it emerges (minus note numbers):
(...) that money laundering had taken place at HSBC for several years throughout Green's tenure as Chief Executive and Chairman, chiefly for the Sinaloa Cartel. Stephen Green earned well over 25 million pounds per year at the time.
Indeed, the links to the HSBC and to the Sinaloa Cartel are also well worth reading for anyone interested in this corrupt chairman of this corrupt bank.

This is quoted from Wikipedia's
HSBC item, and shows the powers of Stephen Green (quoted minus note numbers):
In February 2015 the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists released information about the business conduct of HSBC under the title Swiss Leaks. The ICIJ alleges that the bank profited from doing business with tax evaders and other clients. BBC reported that HSBC had put pressure on media not to report about the controversy, with British Newspaper The Guardian claiming HSBC advertising had been put "on pause" after The Guardian's coverage of the matter. Peter Oborne, chief political commentator at Daily Telegraph resigned from the paper; in an open letter he claimed the Daily Telegraph suppressed negative stories and dropped investigations into HSBC because of the bank's advertising.
And this is quoted from Wikipedia's Sinaloa Cartel item (without note numbers)
The Sinaloa Cartel (Spanish: Cártel de Sinaloa or CDS) is the world's most powerful drug trafficking, money laundering, and organized crime syndicate.

The United States Intelligence Community considers the Sinaloa Cartel "the most powerful drug trafficking organization in the world" and in 2011, the Los Angeles Times called it "Mexico's most powerful organized crime group." The Sinaloa Cartel is associated with the label "Golden Triangle", which refers to the states of Sinaloa, Durango, and Chihuahua. The region is a major producer of Mexican opium and marijuana. According to the U.S. Attorney General, the Sinaloa Cartel is responsible for importing into the United States and distributing nearly 200 tons of cocaine and large amounts of heroin between 1990 and 2008.
There is considerably more in the article, but it is mostly about the refusals of the Conservatives to have Green interviewed: one can see why.

4. TTIP must not allow companies to sue EU countries for environmental laws, say MPs  

The next item is an article by Karl Mathiesen on The Guardian:

  • TTIP must not allow companies to sue EU countries for environmental laws, say MPs
This starts as follows:

A major free trade deal should not allow US companies to sue European nations when they pass environmental laws that hurt their profits, MPs said on Tuesday.

The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), which is being negotiated between the EU and US, may contain a mechanism called investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS). This would allow investors and companies to sue countries when they introduce laws that restrict their business practices.

A report by the UK’s parliamentary environmental audit committee (EAC) said: “EU states must retain their ‘right to regulate’, but a TTIP treaty text that enshrines such a safeguard will be meaningless if the prospect of ISDS [investor state dispute settlement] litigation produces a chilling effect on future regulation-setting.”

Joan Walley, the committee’s chair, said that once the trade treaty is signed it must include a guarantee that states could protect the environment with impunity.

Well... yes and no: Yes, this is happening, to the best of my knowledge, but no: Mathiesen should have said that this whole anti-democratic, anti-governmental, pro-corporate supposed "trade partnership" is being written in secret, it seems by 600 corporate lawyers; that no one should have known about it; that president Obama tries to move the whole "partnership" through Congress in a fast-track procedure that virtually guarantees Congress will not be able to read what they "approve"; and that the so-called "trade partnership" is very much more than a a "partnership" for "trade": it is an attack on the powers of democratically elected governments.

There is more there, but it seems to me that the first thing a paper like The Guardian should have demanded is that the secrecy in which this "partnership" is written and conducted must be entirely lifted. (But maybe this is another bit of Blauite reporting, after having taken over The Guardian's website and nearly completely destroyed it.)

5. How to Become a Conservative in Four Embarrassing Steps

The next item is an article by Paul Buchheit on Alternet:
  • How to Become a Conservative in Four Embarrassing Steps

This starts as follows:

Not that we'd want to. But many Americans, perplexingly, have taken that path in the last ten years, as 27 percent of those polled now consider themselves 'mostly' or 'consistently' conservative, up from 18 percent in 2004. (Conservatives were at 30 percent in 1994. Liberals increased from 21 to over 30 percent in the 1990s and have remained approximately the same since then.) 

The language of true conservatives often turns to denial, dismissal, and/or belligerence, without verifiable facts of any substance. There is also evidence for delusional thinking and a lack of empathy. Here are four ways to be just like them.

The four ways are these - and I quote them without the texts that explain them:

1. Ignore Facts
2. Make Up Your Own Facts
3. Display No Empathy for Others
4. Shout Down Your Opponents

Or in other terms:

Most neo-conservatives (I think the "neo" should be there [3]) are bullies who are trying to get rich themselves by propagandizing their bullshit that deny the rights of any of their opponents to anything and that depend on their riches, their impertinence, and the ignorance of most they deceive.

There is more there, and it might also have been said otherwise, and some other markers might have been selected, but the list is recognizable.

6. US Weapons Exporters Lead World in War Profiteering

The last item today is an article by Sarah Lazare on Common Dreams:

  • US Weapons Exporters Lead World in War Profiteering

This starts as follows:

U.S. weapons exporters lead the world in profits from the booming military arms and equipment business, driven by rising tensions and conflict around the world, according to a new report from London-based analysts.

The annual study by IHS Inc.—which looks at military markets in 65 nations, excluding small arms, munitions, and surveillance programs—finds that the United States is behind one-third of all equipment and weapons exports world-wide.

This is no small amount: in 2014, global "defense" trade surpassed $64.4 billion, the report finds.

I say. In fact, this is less than I thought [4] but it still are large numbers, and they show the real motive for much of the wars: money, and specifically money for those making weapons.


[1] Again I say I have not voted in any governmental or municipal elections since 1971 (which was the last time I had to): I do not vote for masses of incompetent liars, cheats, deceivers and moral degenerates, which also means that, with George Carlin, I can discuss these liars, cheats, deceivers and moral degenerates without having any responsibility for their lies or their policies.

O, as to "What would happen if everybody did like you do?!". First, this is a rather impossible if. Second, if so, or indeed if more than half do not vote (as happened repeatedly in Holland) it simply shows that the people do not believe anymore in the politicians and look upon them as liars and deceivers - and that seems a quite sound position to take, and also a very sound reason to get rid of the politicians.

[2] As to being "provincial": I am being descriptive, not moral. The fact is that both Holland and New Zealand are small countries that are rarely in the news outside those countries. Personally, I do not think that is bad. (What I do think is bad, but which I only know in Holland, is the impertinence of Dutch writers, Dutch artists and Dutch academics who pretend that they are as good as - "are the equals in value of", to use the translation of the Dutch core value - the best anywhere, which is plain baloney: Dutch writing is awful, and Dutch artists or academics who excel the other Dutch generally leave Holland.)

[3] Because there are some decent conservatives, but no decent neo-conservatives (in my opinion, though the reasons differ: thus, many Dutch neo-conservatives are neo-conservatives - after being extreme leftists for twenty years - because that now is fashionable; they are well off; and careerism was their real motive anyway).

[4] Perhaps because I have now been trying for 27 years to raise any journalistic voice on the fact that the Dutch haven been trading 10 billions of euros each year merely in illegal marijuana and hashish for thirty years now - and the sum was estimated by a 1996 Dutch Parliamentary Report, that also said that if other illegal drugs were considered, the 10 billions might be 40 or 50 billions.

But since no Dutch journalist raised any question, as did no Dutch parliamentarian, no Dutch mayor, and no Dutch judge, I must infer that the Dutch in vast majority like their own illegal drugstrading, that indeed is immensely profitable, and provides all Dutchmen who want to with free and relatively cheap, if also quite illegal, drugs.

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