NSA Prepares Data-Mining Info for Supercomputer Analysis In Utah

Who’s in Big Brother’s Database?

James Bamford  (Body Of Secrets)

October 11, 2009

The Secret Sentry: The Untold History of the National Security Agency
by Matthew M. Aid
Bloomsbury, 423 pp., $30.00

On a remote edge of Utah’s dry and arid high desert, where temperatures often zoom past 100 degrees, hard-hatted construction workers with top-secret clearances are preparing to build what may become America’s equivalent of Jorge Luis Borges’s “Library of Babel,” a place where the collection of information is both infinite and at the same time monstrous, where the entire world’s knowledge is stored, but not a single word is understood. At a million square feet, the mammoth $2 billion structure will be one-third larger than the US Capitol and will use the same amount of energy as every house in Salt Lake City combined.

Unlike Borges’s “labyrinth of letters,” this library expects few visitors. It’s being built by the ultra-secret National Security Agency—which is primarily responsible for “signals intelligence,” the collection and analysis of various forms of communication—to house trillions of phone calls, e-mail messages, and data trails: Web searches, parking receipts, bookstore visits, and other digital “pocket litter.” Lacking adequate space and power at its city-sized Fort Meade, Maryland, headquarters, the NSA is also completing work on another data archive, this one in San Antonio, Texas, which will be nearly the size of the Alamodome.

Just how much information will be stored in these windowless cybertemples? A clue comes from a recent report prepared by the MITRE Corporation, a Pentagon think tank. “As the sensors associated with the various surveillance missions improve,” says the report, referring to a variety of technical collection methods, “the data volumes are increasing with a projection that sensor data volume could potentially increase to the level of Yottabytes (1024 Bytes) by 2015.”[1] Roughly equal to about a septillion (1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000) pages of text, numbers beyond Yottabytes haven’t yet been named. Once vacuumed up and stored in these near-infinite “libraries,” the data are then analyzed by powerful infoweapons, supercomputers running complex algorithmic programs, to determine who among us may be—or may one day become—a terrorist. In the NSA’s world of automated surveillance on steroids, every bit has a history and every keystroke tells a story.  (read here)

Former CIA Asset Obama’s Fictional Nobel Prize Statement

Former CIA Asset Obama’s Fictional Nobel Prize Statement

By Sherwood Ross


October 11, 2009

Can President Obama be serious when he says he accepts the Nobel Peace Prize as “an affirmation of American leadership on behalf of aspirations held by people of all nations”?

Among “all nations” does he include the people of Iraq? Polls show Iraqis overwhelmingly want the U.S. to get out. Apparently, they didn’t enjoy their dose of “American leadership.” Does Obama’s “all nations” include Okinawa, which the U.S. has occupied for 64 years and refuses to leave?

Does “all nations” include Diego Garcia, whose inhabitants the U.S. forced from their island homes in the Indian Ocean, (as Time magazine has reported,) and whose dogs we gassed for good measure? (President Bush later used that base to attack Afghanistan, the better to dominate the oil-rich Middle East.)

Since he’s been in office only a short time, when Obama speaks of “an affirmation of American leadership” is he referring to the eight years of warmongering by his predecessor George W. Bush, who tore up every international treaty he could lay his hands on? In fact, global public opinion polls identified Bush as one of the most feared public figures on the planet. What kind of “leadership” is it when one UN member invades another based on lies and kills a million of its people, steals it blind, and shatters its economy? Calling that “leadership” is a bit wide of the mark.

Perhaps Obama is referring to the “leadership” of his friend Bill Clinton, who let half a million Iraqi children starve to death during his White House watch and who inaugurated the rendition kidnappings of men off the streets of foreign countries—men who were subsequently tortured and denied legal rights and representation?

“Leaders,” of course, are supposed to have followers. But a CNN poll September 15th found that 58 percent of Americans oppose the war in Afghanistan. That war is as illegal as the war in Iraq, yet President Obama is deliberating about whether to escalate it, not whether to end it.

Obama’s statement accepting the Nobel is as misleading as his remarks to the CIA last April 16th when he praised the Agency and hailed the U.S. as “a nation of laws” when today it is, in fact, the world’s principal law-breaker. The fact is, the charismatic new president appears to see the world through the dark glasses of the CIA and has aligned himself with the Agency’s imperialist agenda. Given Obama’s past employment, this is not that odd.

According to Wikipedia, upon graduating from Columbia University, Obama for a year “held a position as a research associate” in Business International Corp., a CIA front organization. The company is alleged to have kindly paid off Obama’s college loans for him. Obama worked in BIC’s financial services division, where he edited “Financing Foreign Operations,” a global reference service, and wrote for “Business International Money Report,” a weekly financial newsletter. According to an article in the October issue of Rock Creek Free Press, of Washington, D.C., reporter Wayne Madsen writes, “Through its contacts with leading liberals around the world, BIC sought to recruit those on the left as CIA agents and assets.” At any rate, the New York Times reported in 1977 that a BIC company official admitted providing “cover” for CIA employees.

The CIA, of course, has long been tied in with advancing the interests of the oil industry. Its Middle East station chief Kermit Roosevelt in 1953 stage-managed the overthrow of the democratic government of Iran after it nationalized its oil industry, as it had every right to do, especially when they were being cheated like mad.

CIA secrecy conceals many of its crimes such as the torture in Iraq and Afghanistan prisons. So Obama, as a former CIA asset, protects the Agency by not prosecuting their alleged torturers, by withholding photographs of their nauseating handiwork, and by praising the bandits in public. One way to tell who really runs a country is to look to see which, if any, of its citizens are above the law. In America, those people are headquartered in Langley, Virginia.


(Sherwood Ross formerly reported for the Chicago Daily News, wire services, and national magazines. Reach him at sherwoodross10@gmail.com)

October is Afghanistan Awareness Month

October is Afghanistan Awareness Month


afghan.gifThis week, President Obama and the military establishment are discussing their plans for escalation in Afghanistan. But their perspective does not take into account the high human cost of the occupation, and the soldiers, Marines, and Afghan people who are paying the price for over 8 years of disastrous military policy.

On October 7th we entered the 9th year of the U.S. occupation of Afghanistan. Throughout the month of October, IVAW will be highlighting the stories of our members who have served there, and those who have refused to go. Stay tuned for blog entries and audio podcasts of their first-hand experiences and what made them turn against the war.

IVAW chapters around the country also will be holding college teach-ins and other educational events to share what they know about the Afghanistan occupation.

We hope to bury the myth, once-and-for-all, that Afghanistan is “the Good War,” because too many Amercans are still on the fence about it.

Now is the time to sharpen debate and broaden consensus that the U.S. must get out of Afghanistan.

Here’s how you can help:

  • Are there nagging questions you have about Afghanistan you would like our veterans to answer? Email your questions to amadee@ivaw.org.
  • Sign up to become a sustaining donor of IVAW with a monthly or quarterly donation. Your regular contribution will help sustain our important work in these extremely difficult economic times. Please help us meet our October goal of getting 250 sustainers. Sign up for as little as $10 per month today by clicking here.

Thank you for being involved. Your participation in this campaign is critical.

Iraq Veterans Against the War

Honduras Defacto Regime Opens fire in Poor neighborhoods

Honduras Defacto Regime Opens fire in Poor neighborhoods

By Dick Emanuelsson and Mirian Huezo Emanuelsson
Americas MexicoBlog

Youth and Union Workers Targeted by Coup Police

The Honduran people have set an example for people throughout Latin America through three months of steady resistance to the coup in their country. But there are powerful groups within Honduras and abroad organizing to neutralize this unprecedented force and block the resistance from growing in strength and numbers. These groups above all seek to prevent the nation from carrying out a Constitutional Assembly to modify the outdated constitution. Along with the reinstatement of the elected President Manuel Zelaya, this demand is central to the popular movement against the coup as a necessary tool to bring the country and its people out of poverty.

In this Special Report, Tegucigalpa reporter Dick Emanuelsson and photographer Mirian Huezo Emanuelsson chronicle the terror and repression unleashed by the coup to maintain power. Despite promises to lift the executive decree that imposed a state of siege, the violence continues.

These are firsthand accounts from the victims of the strategy of force being employed by the coup. All were wounded by security forces since the return of Zelaya on Sept. 21. This strategy has only intensified, despite talk of an official dialogue, largely frustrated during the recent visit of the Organization of American States (OAS). Even as the OAS ministers and other dignitaries were meeting on Oct. 7 in Tegucigalpa to promote dialogue, the coup and armed forces again attacked peaceful demonstrators in the streets.


The pain is intense and tears stream down the sun-browned face. Mauricio Maldonado, 18, was shot by the police when he went out to the corner store to buy a bag of churros. It was 8:30 at night on Sept. 24 and the curfew had been imposed since 5 in the afternoon the previous day in the combative neighborhood of La Cañada, in the capital city of Tegucigalpa.

“A white Mazda drove into the neighborhood and stopped for a little while in the dark. One of the men said ‘shut off the lights,’ they backed up a little and started to shoot. I fell on the ground, they got me in the stomach,” Maldonaldo tells us.

He says that the people of La Cañada are not happy with the June 28 coup d’etat. La Cañada is a poor neighborhood of mostly teachers. The teachers have been at the forefront of the Honduran uprising against the coup due to the union leadership which from the first day began marching and demonstrating in the streets and striking for a return to democracy. In the last weeks, they have been attacked by security forces and many have been arrested.

The violence against people living in extreme poverty in urban neighborhoods in Tegucigalpa, San Pedro Sula and other Honduran cities began the day after Zelaya’s return to Honduras. It was, and is, horrible. Mauricio lies in the Hospital Escuela, the public hospital for the poor. He is a flesh-and-blood example of the repression that has moved on to using bullets and beatings to control rebellious sectors of the population.

It’s a Crime to Be Young in Honduras

He removes the bed sheet that covers him and shows where the bullet entered at his waist, crossed his stomach and came out the other side of his waist. En route, the shot damaged part of his spine. The family had to pay for a magnetic resonance image of the spinal column that cost 6,000 lempiras (USD$350) to find out if the spine was damaged. Mauricio´s mother Marbeli Pastrana is the head of the household; she makes half of the minimum wage at her job as a domestic servant.

“The neighbors helped us out and I managed to lower the cost to 4,200 lempiras,” Pastrana explains. She is crying from the sadness of seeing Mauricio seriously wounded and is concerned about the consequences of the Sept. 24 assault on her son.

“I was inside when I heard the shooting. I ran out barefoot and I saw all the kids running except him”, she says, as the knot in her throat grows. “And then I saw him on the ground.”

But your son was lucky, he survived, we tell her to keep her spirits up.

“Thank God, yes! But it was horrible having to go through this—they shot more than thirty times.”

How is the situation now among the people of La Cañada?

“They are very supportive of him. They all got together some money and I’m thankful that they helped me,” answers the mother of four children, the youngest only 13. “We trust God that it will all work out.”

At 4 pm on Monday, Sept. 21—just hours after Zelaya arrived in Tegucigalpa, the de facto regime imposed a round-the-clock curfew. The Honduran people were held hostage in their own homes for more than 38 hours. The curfew was lifted for seven hours on Wednesday Sept. 23 at 10 A.M. During these hours, tens of thousands of residents in the neighborhoods of Tegucigalpa and San Pedro Sula rebelled until they were able to take control of several police posts.

It is typical for the poor of these neighborhoods to buy their daily groceries at local corner stores. That’s why there was so much rage against the decision to impose a curfew. It not only violates the constitution but it also leaves people stranded in their houses without food. It was received with a fury rarely seen before in Honduras. The decision reinforced the rejection of the coup leaders and enhanced the political consciousness of the people.

We entered another room in the hospital where we found Junior Adalberto Rodríguez, 18 year of age, a young man among the thousands that go out to demonstrate daily in the resistance marches. The youth of the popular neighborhoods often prove difficult for the resistance leadership to control because their rebellion draws not only on their opposition to the coup but also on a deep resentment against a society that represses youth instead of offering education and employment opportunities.

He is sitting up in bed staring at the wall. He and six friends were shot at on Sept. 22 during the curfew.

His mother, Carmen, says, “He is part of the resistance and was in the street in front of the house when a man dressed in black appeared and shot him. The bullet went in the right side of his jaw and exited the other side. It broke his jaw and his teeth.”
“As a mother, I felt really bad. You can’t even go out now for fear of being in the streets because anything can happen. That night everyone was in an uproar there…”

The youth themselves say that to be young in Honduras is considered a crime today. The soldiers and police see the young people as a subversive group and would rather strike out against them to neutralize their rebellion than see them organize in the resistance.

“These are real bullets”

Mario Valladares, 47, of the neighborhood of Israel Sur, is another victim we came across in a room on the fourth floor of the Hospital Escuela. The hospital is full of victims of a regime that has been condemned by the entire world but that continues to victimize the Honduran people.

“I went out at 10:00 in the morning when two patrol cars appeared. I don´t deny that I am part of the Resistance. Because I’m going to defend my people. With things the way they are now, a lot of times people bow their heads but the people have awakened. And I say with pride that I will die for my people if necessary,” Valladares tells us.
“I was forming a resistance group when the patrols arrived and one of them took out a pistol. ‘Why are you drawing your gun, what’s going on? We’re Hondurans, we’re being peaceful, we don´t have arms, sticks or rocks,’ we told them.

“‘There’s no problem’, they answered us. But when they left, some boys started yelling slogans and they didn’t like that. When I saw that one of them aimed a FAL rifle, I threw myself on the ground but it was too late, I was already shot with the other six friends. They fired indiscriminately at the crowd. The bullet went in here,” he shows us his left thigh, “and came out the other side. I was really lucky because it only touched flesh and not bone or muscle.”
They were in the streets during the time the curfew had been lifted. In spite of this, the men were savagely attacked with high-caliber 7.62 mm. firearms.

“Do you know why they lifted the curfew? To kill the people! Because the order is simply to shoot people and the order comes from above. I know because I was in the army. A lower-level soldier doesn´t shoot like that without an order from above. They say they are shooting rubber bullets, that’s a lie. These are real bullets. They were shooting us from 25 meters away, that’s atrocious! They don’t think, they just think about killing.”
The same morning and hour that Mario Valladares and his six friends were shot, Jairo Sanchez was shot by uniformed officers under General Romeo Vázquez. The security agents of the National Department of Criminal Investigation (DICN) did not say a single word, they just opened fire on the crowd that protested against the dictatorship in the neighborhood of San Francisco.

“Unfortunately, they shot our companion in the left cheek, leaving him badly wounded,” says Abel Morales, Secretary of Acts in the National Union of Workers of the Professional Training Institute (SITRAINFOP) that has nearly a thousand members in Honduras.
As we were interviewing him in the beautiful park of the Institute, union members were holding a Marathon Event to raise funds for Sánchez’s operations and treatment, which costs half a million lempiras or approximately USD$27,000. The union leader is an inch away from death.

“Thank God, he’s conscious. Due to the operation they performed that same Wednesday that the attack took place, he can’t speak. He can only make hand gestures, and write notes to communicate with us,” says Morales.

But the curfew was lifted at the hour when they were attacked?

“Yes, at that moment the curfew was suspended. The Resistance called out to us and we are responding to that call.”

Sánchez was taken immediately to Hospital Escuela. But after three months of the coup there insufficient equipment at the hospital and due to the severity of his wound, he was transferred to the Medical Center, an elegant, private hospital with the best doctors, where he was immediately attended to.

“They took out projectile fragments as well as the remaining fragments of the bone that had broken. They repaired some of his arteries and veins that the shot had damaged,” related Morales.

“Right now, the doctors have decided not to remove the bullet itself because it is lodged really close to the aorta. (Sanchez) could have a severe hemorrhage and die.”

What was the reaction of union members to the attempted assassination?

“They called all of the union managers, investigating, because we have a very united base in this union. In cases like this one, the people react in a very orderly way.”

While we are talking you can hear the ruckus of the Great Marathon that the union has organized to raise funds to cover Sánchez’ medical costs.

“We are holding this Marathon in all of the local sections all over the country to support our fellow union member. We really appreciate all the support we’ve received from unions all over the world.”

Morales explains, “Conditions in Honduras re tough and we the union leaders are very exposed in this situation. At 6 in the afternoon on Wednesday, a contingent of four patrol units with a total of 60 officers and 60 patrolmen entered the neighborhood where I live. They come into many neighborhoods, not just mine, shooting, raiding homes, breaking down doors, taking a few members of the resistance.

“Thank God they haven’t come to my house. But we have received news that they are watching us, above all the union leaders who are at the forefront of the resistance that is known throughout the world as a peaceful movement. But the police and the army come and they repress us.”

“The situation is becoming difficult and international organizations must get involved in the issue.”

A Death List for Popular Leaders?

Speaking of the repression against union leaders, last year three DCIN agents were detained by members of the Autonomous University of Honduras Union (Sintraunah) when the agents were beginning to act strangely. They found a list of 130 names, photographs of the popular leaders, union headquarters, telephone numbers, etc. Was SITRAINFOP on that list?

“The members of Sintraunah, a very beligerant union, were able to detain three agents from the DCIN and from them they were able to attain a list with 130 names of union members and popular leaders. Among them was the SITRAINFOP leadership.”

A New Operation for Sánchez

We arrive at the Medical Center where the national president of Honduran polytechnic professors, Jairo Sánchez, is awaiting a second operation due to a high fever that has persisted over the last few days and has not broken. We find him conscious but unable to speak. His look is firm and fixed look and seems to speak to us with the words of the song that has become a slogan of the resistance to the coup:

“They are afraid of us because we have no fear!”

More Information:

Audio of interviews with the victims:

Mauricio Maldonado, 18, was shot in the stomach by the police when he went out to the corner store during the curfew in Tegucigalpa on Sept 24, 2009.
Listen to the interview here.

Junior Adalberto Rodríguez, 18, active in the resistance, was shot in the right side of his jaw. His jaw and teeth were broken.
Listen to the interview here.

Mario Valladares, 47, active in the resistance, was shot by the police in the thigh.
Listen to the interview here.

Interview with Abel Morales, Secretary of Acts for SITRAINFOP, on the attempt of the DNIC to assassinate Jairo Sánchez, president of SITRAINFOP on Sept. 23, 2009.
Listen to the interview here.

Americas MexicoBlog

Mercenaries and paramilitaries arrive in Honduras

Mercenaries and paramilitaries arrive in Honduras

By Honduras Delegation
Press Release

The situation is grave in Tegucigalpa. According to a message from the organization, Pastors for Peace, Radio Globo from Honduras is reporting that snipers are shooting into the Brazilian Embassy where President Zelaya and hundreds of supporters have taken refuge. There is no word yet on injuries.

More snipers outside of Brazilian Embassy in Honduras.

Also, according to an Oct. 9 AP report, paramilitaries from Colombia are arriving in Honduras now.  Many of these paramilitaries were trained in torture and repression at the infamous School of the Americas in the U.S.

Support the people of Honduras in their heroic struggle against the brutal coup regime! Thousands of courageous working people are taking to the streets, in spite of the growing brutality of the criminal right wing forces, who are armed and trained by the U.S.

The following is a report from the delegation of U.S. activists in Honduras, who will be holding a news conference today, October 9, at 5pm EST at the offices of the Bottlers’ Union, a center in Tegucigalpa of the National Front for Resistance Against the Coup:

In the last 24 hours, the situation in Honduras has reached a profound level of urgency. The illegal, de facto Micheletti regime is clearly reaching a point of desperation—and there is a serious danger in this, as the rightwing can and will do anything when they are desperate.

Last night, we received word that at the Brazilian embassy, where President Manuel Zelaya has been seeking refuge, two scaffolds had been erected and two snipers placed on them—one from the Honduran police and one from the Honduran army. Heavy military activity was also occurring on the ground around the embassy, with military convoys placed at strategic places all around the windows and doors of the embassy. The fear is that an assassination attempt on Zelaya’s life may be carried out soon.

Another alarming report relayed to us today from Honduran human rights leaders is of the presence of 120 paramilitaries—experts in killing—from other Latin American countries in Honduras. Many of these paramilitaries have been trained at the School of the Americas based in Georgia.

Today while we were in a meeting, the human rights leader we were meeting with received a phone call that police at the pedagogical university had given protesters there 10 minutes to disperse or face dire consequences. Military convoys had been brought in to surround the protesters.

As this email is being written, members of the U.S. Delegation in Solidarity with the Honduras Resistance are at the U.S. embassy, attempting to meet with representatives there to alert them of the situation and demand the discontinuation of U.S. aid to the de facto regime, a freeze on the assets of the golpista government members, and the abandonment of any electoral process that doesn’t first involve the restitution of President Zelaya, as is the will of the Honduran people.

Platforms with highly armed sharpshooters installed outside the embassy, using telescopic and infrared targeting systems, just meters away from the windows of the building where the president, his family, and many others are held hostage by the regime.

The delegation also reports that despite the coup government’s announcement that it had lifted the ban on civil liberties, the country still remains under martial law.   The coup government is telling the world that it has lifted martial law, but they haven’t told anyone in the police or military, from the top commanders to the troops in the streets.  There is still a massive armed presence, and protesters and dissidents are still being brutally attacked and arrested.

That’s why it is so important for us to support the Delegation in Solidarity with the Honduran Resistance. The corporate media is echoing the coup government’s press releases claiming that martial law has been lifted and civil liberties restored, and ignoring the fact that repression is intensifying.  We need you to help get the word out.

What you can do now:

Call – Honduras Desk, U.S. State Department 202-647-3482
State Department Main Switchboard 202-647-4000
White House 202-456-1111
OAS Washington Office 202-458-3000

Demand an end to the attacks on Zelaya and Honduran activists.  Demand a restoration of civil liberties in Honduras.

Sign the Petition – Demand safe passage for the U.S. delegation.

Honduras Delegation

Big banks, big pharma, big problems

Big banks, big pharma, big problems

MONEY has thrown society out of kilter. Banks that once appeared to have mountains of cash have collapsed. As a consequence of the global recession, governments now recognise that banking is too important to be left to the bankers. States have taken action, from wresting control of financial institutions to introducing new regulations.

I believe the financial meltdown has implications for pharmaceutical research. The running of large pharmaceutical companies carries a social responsibility that is as heavy as running any bank. Recently, however, this unwritten contract between society and drug companies has not been fulfilled. Is our health now too important to be left to big pharma?

To illustrate my concerns, let’s look at the treatment of heart disease. Many important cardiovascular drugs have been invented: statins, ACE inhibitors, beta blockers, fibrinolytics. But in the last 10 years, few of significance have emerged, even though the pharmaceutical industry has spent unprecedented amounts of money on research and development: in each year of that decade, Pfizer spent about $6 billion, Eli Lilly $3bn, and GlaxoSmithKline $2.5bn.

This splurge is reminiscent of how banks misused their funds before their collapse, but the industry has been insulated from the recent economic changes and has accumulated vast cash piles from the sales of medicines (in the UK, mostly through sales to the National Health Service). On average, each top-20 pharmaceutical company has access to about $7.5bn in cash.

Could the cash piles of big pharma be mobilised in a more efficient way for the public good? Two years ago such a suggestion would have been scorned. Now, however, it should be considered. As was the case with the banking sector, I believe that there is a real risk that the big pharma industry might collapse.

I believe that there is a real risk that the big pharma industry might collapse

Increasing spending on R&D cannot be continued indefinitely with such meagre progress. If a collapse of the pharmaceutical industry does occur it might not be for decades, but one of the biggest lessons of the banking collapse is that no one can predict economic forces with much certainty. The fall of big pharma could be imminent.

There is another way to fund the development of new treatments. Many innovative ideas that have changed society have arisen from the combination of curiosity and academic freedom found in universities. This is where small amounts of funding can produce big results. In recent years, university research has been exploited by industry to produce new drugs, such as blood clot-busting “tissue plasminogen activator”, courtesy of the Catholic University of Leuven (KUL) in Belgium.

Now, while big pharma has so much money it doesn’t know what to do with it, universities are being starved of resources and research funding has decreased in real terms. At the same time, university research strategy is under-organised and there is ignorance of how to exploit intellectual property and utilise patents. Nevertheless, the potential of universities is enormous.

Sadly, because of intense competition for limited funds, academic scientists are now driven to perform predictable low-risk science in small packets that will give quick results in time for the next grant application. The end result is that we have a plethora of small groups with strong leaders that act independently, fragmenting effort. At the same time, little translational research is being performed, even though politicians pay endless lip service to the idea.

So on one hand we have an unproductive big pharma which is cash rich, and on the other a cash-poor university system that has produced fistfuls of Nobel prizewinners. The way forward is obvious: inject the money into university research. Experience tells us this can have major benefits. One of the most successful initiatives in the last decade has been the spin-out of small biotech firms. My own, Ark Therapeutics, emerged from University College London and is now a public company with three phase-III clinical trials under way. Similarly, Biogen sprang from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Genentech from the University of California, San Francisco.

Now is the time for government action. Big pharma is international, so measures would ideally have to be taken by the European Commission at the pan-European level, by the federal government in the US or as a joint initiative.

Nationalisation, or internationalisation, of the $150bn cash mountain of the top 20 companies is probably unthinkable. However, the tax system could at least encourage pharma to invest more wisely. In the UK, for example, immediate funding could be generated for university research if the Chancellor of the Exchequer were to extend R&D relief for corporation tax to big pharma. But more money is not enough. The universities themselves would have to become more businesslike about how to achieve commercial goals – such as creating a new drug – while preserving their academic freedom. Control must not be allowed to follow the cash, though, or the creative ethos of the university may be stifled.

The involvement of small spin-off biotech companies could be a condition of receiving such funding, generating jobs. One hundred new companies could be created from British universities alone over 10 years if big pharma money were blended with a proactive way of recognising patentable inventions and managing university science.

The credit crunch has been a vivid reminder of the responsibility that comes with cash. Now is the time to rethink how research can be efficiently harnessed for the good of society.

John Martin is professor of cardiovascular medicine at University College London and founder of Ark Therapeutics

Police State Prepares for Civil War

Police State Prepares for Civil War

Written by Tom Burghardt

As social networking becomes a dominant feature of daily life, the secret state is increasingly surveilling electronic media for what it euphemistically calls "actionable intelligence." Take the case of Elliot Madison.

G20 Pittsburgh Goon Squad: Armed and ready to crack Grandma’s head

The 41-year-old anarchist was arrested in Pittsburgh September 24 at the height of G20 protests. Madison, a social worker and volunteer with The People’s Law Collective in New York City, was busted by a combined task force led by the Pennsylvania State Police (PSP) and Pittsburgh’s "finest."

The activist was charged with "hindering apprehension or prosecution, criminal use of a communication facility and possession of instruments of crime," according to The New York Times.
Did the cops uncover a secret anarchist weapons’ cache? Were Madison and codefendant, Michael Wallschlaeger, a producer with the radio talk show "This Week in Radical History" for the A-Infos Radio Project, about to detonate a "weapon of mass destruction" during last month’s capitalist conclave that witnessed the obscene spectacle of our masters avidly conspiring to impoverish billions of the planet’s inhabitants?
Hardly! In fact, Madison and Wallschlaeger’s "crime" was to set up a communications center in a hotel room that alerted demonstrators to movements by the police, who after all, had viciously attacked protesters–and anyone else nearby–with heavy batons, tear gas and a Long Range Acoustic Device (LRAD), a so-called "non-lethal" weapon.

[For complete article reference links, please see original at Antifascist Calling… here.]

Kitted-out with police scanners, computers and cell phones, the intrepid activists used a Twitter account to assist protesters eager to elude a thrashing by some 5,000 heavily armed camo-clad cops who had sealed-off downtown Pittsburgh to keep the area safe–from the First Amendment.
National Lawyers Guild on-scene legal observers reported an "unwarranted display and use of force by police in residential neighborhoods, often far from any protest activity." According to the civil liberties’ watchdog group:
Police deployed chemical irritants, including CS gas, and long-range acoustic devices (LRAD) in residential neighborhoods on narrow streets where families and small children were exposed. Scores of riot police formed barricades at many intersections throughout neighborhoods miles away from the downtown area and the David Lawrence Convention Center. Outside the Courtyard Marriott in Shadyside, police deployed smoke bombs in the absence of protest activity, forcing bystanders and hotel residents to flee the area.
Later, while some protests were ending, riot-clad officers surrounded an area at the University of Pittsburgh, creating an ominous spectacle that some described as akin to Kent State. Guild legal observers witnessed police chasing and arresting many uninvolved students.
Among other questionable tactics, officers from dozens of law enforcement agencies lacked easily-identifiable badges, impeding citizens’ ability to register complaints. (National Lawyers Guild, "National Lawyers Guild Observes Improper Use of Force by Law Enforcement at the G-20," Press Release, September 25, 2009)
The Times reported that after his arrest the FBI raided the home that Madison shared with his wife, Elena, and conducted an exhaustive 16-hour search of the premises seizing computers, books and a poster (horror of horrors!) of the old mole himself, Karl Marx.
Criminalizing the First Amendment
"Anyone can tweet, but the truth is, sometimes speech can be criminal," John Burkoff, a professor at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law, told The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
By that standard, anyone who has the temerity to question the legitimacy of a system that drives millions into poverty, wages preemptive war to secure (steal) other people’s resources, destroys the environment or uses "speech" to oppose said crimes against humanity–and cheekily urges others to do the same–is, by definition, guilty, in "new normal" America.
Witold Walczak however, the legal director of the Pennsylvania American Civil Liberties Union told the Post-Gazette, "investigating the government and broadcasting information about it would seem to be a constitutionally protected communication."
The ACLU director elaborated, "If the police want to communicate privately, there are certainly ways to do that, and police radios are not one of those. How can it be a crime? It’s not a secure communication."
The good professor had another take on the matter and told the Post-Gazette, "Were they sending it to people simply to protest, or to commit further crimes?"
"Further crimes"? What crime? Oh yes, legally protesting the depredations of the capitalist system, that crime!
That such a statement can be uttered by a purported legal expert is rather rich with unintended irony. Burkhoff’s maneuver to cast the best possible light on repressive police operations is all the more absurd given the fact that none other than the Obama administration’s State Department had stepped-in and pressured Twitter to forego a service upgrade, and downtime, just scant months earlier.
But context as they say, is everything. Champions of other people’s freedom (particularly when they are geopolitical rivals), the State Department intervened and told the instant messaging service in no uncertain terms that Iranian protesters relied on Twitter to monitor police movements in Tehran and other cities as protests over disputed elections took center stage in the Islamic Republic.
The New York Times reported back in June that the U.S. State Department "e-mailed the social-networking site Twitter with an unusual request: delay scheduled maintenance of its global network, which would have cut off service while Iranians were using Twitter to swap information and inform the outside world about the mushrooming protests around Tehran."
According to Reuters, "Confirmation that the U.S. government had contacted Twitter came as the Obama administration sought to avoid suggestions it was meddling in Iran’s internal affairs as the Islamic Republic battled to control deadly street protests over the election result."
Twitter said in a blog post it had delayed the firm’s planned upgrade because of its role as an "important communication tool in Iran."
A day earlier, President Obama had said he believed "people’s voices should be heard and not suppressed"–in Iran.
Message to the American people: Official enemy: Twitter good! Official friend (grifting multinational corporations and the criminals who do their bidding in Washington): Twitter bad! How’s that for an imaginative interpretation of the "new media paradigm"!

"Go massive. Sweep it all up. Things related and not"

Echoing the execrable logic of former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, America’s premier political police force, the FBI, executed a search warrant on Madison that authorized agents to look "for violations of federal rioting laws," according to the Times.
Madison’s attorney, Martin Stolar, told the Times that "he and a friend were part of a communications network among people protesting the G-20." Denouncing the raid, Stolar averred that "there’s absolutely nothing that he’s done that should subject him to any criminal liability."
On October 2, Stolar argued in Federal District Court in Brooklyn "that the warrant was vague and overly broad. Judge Dora L. Irizarry ordered the authorities to stop examining the seized materials until Oct. 16, pending further orders," the Times reported.
This is not the first time however, that the secret state has sought to curtail text messaging by activists during large-scale demonstrations.
In 2008, as a result of the heavy repression of legal protests–and subsequent lawsuits by victims–during the far-right Republican National Convention in New York City in 2004, lawyers representing N.Y.’s "finest" demanded that M.I.T. graduate student Tad Hirsch and the Institute of Applied Autonomy, the inventors of TXTmob, turn over all "text messages sent via TXTmob during the convention, the date and time of the messages, information about people who sent and received messages, and lists of people who used the service," The New York Times reported last year.
The FBI however, already possess the technological ability to hack into Wi-fi and computer networks as Wired revealed in April, citing internal Bureau documents released to the magazine under a Freedom of Information Act request.
According to a follow-up story by the publication, the Bureau’s Cryptographic and Electronic Analysis Unit, CEAU, has deployed software called a computer and internet protocol address verifier, or CIPAV, that is "designed to infiltrate a target’s computer and gather a wide range of information, which it secretly sends to an FBI server in eastern Virginia."
Antifascist Calling reported in 2008, that when a whistleblower, security consultant Babak Pasdar, stepped forward and blew the lid off the Bureau’s massive telecommunications’ surveillance network, the agency’s so-called "Quantico circuit" in Virginia, he revealed that major wireless providers, including AT&T, Sprint and Verizon, had handed the state "unfettered" access to the carrier’s wireless networks, including billing records and customer data "transmitted wirelessly."
According to Pasdar’s sworn affidavit, Verizon provided the FBI with with real-time access to who is speaking to whom, the time and duration of each call as well as the locations of those so targeted.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), the San Francisco-based civil liberties’ watchdog group, has posted Madison’s motion and his attorney’s supporting declaration on their web site. It makes for very interesting reading indeed! According to the search warrant obtained by FBI Special Agent Edward J. Heslin from the U.S. District Court, the FBI were allowed to seize:
Computers, hard-drives, floppy discs and other media used to store computer-accessible information, cellular phones, personal digital assistants, electronic storage devices and related peripherals, black masks and clothing, maps, correspondence and other documents, financial records, notes, ledgers, receipts, papers, photographs, telephone and address books, identification documents, indicia of residency and other documents and records that constitute evidence of the commission of rioting crimes or that are designed or intended as a means of violating the federal rioting laws, including any of the above items that are maintained within other closed or locked containers, including safes and other containers that may be further secured by key locks (or combination locks) of various kinds. (Honorable Viktor V. Pohorelsky, Magistrate Judge to FBI Special Agent Edward J. Heslin, United States District Court, Eastern District of New York, Search Warrant, Case Number M-09-962, September 26, 2009)
Madison’s attorney, Martin Stolar averred that "a number of documents and other properties" seized by the FBI have "nothing to do with the governments investigation into what the search warrant characterizes as violations of ‘federal rioting laws’."
According to Stolar "the seized items include political writings, notes, political associates and ideas, materials protected by the attorney-client and social work privileges, as well as property belonging to other persons residing in the premises which have no connection to any pending or contemplated criminal investigation." Stolar declared that "the illegality of the search is in the overbreadth of the seizures and the vagueness of the term ‘federal rioting laws’."
In other words, driftnet surveillance of American citizens is the norm for our secret state minders; an unambiguous sign of America’s slide into an extra-constitutional police state.
Fusion Centers: Leading the Charge
While Madison and Wallschlaeger’s arrest came as a result of actions undertaken by the Pennsylvania State Police, one cannot rule out that (a) informants had tipped off the cops to the pair’s activities, (b) CEAU had penetrated protest organizer’s computer net and therefore, were well aware of what the duo were up to, or (c) through some combination of the above, the FBI and presumably, their local fusion center allies, alerted PSP who then conducted the raid and shut the anarchist’s communications center down.
Federal Computer Week noted September 30, that the Department of Homeland Security "is establishing a new office to coordinate its intelligence-sharing efforts in state and local intelligence fusion centers," and that the secret state’s new "Joint Fusion Center Program Management Office will be part of DHS’ Office of Intelligence and Analysis."
Among other things, the publication revealed that DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano said the new office will:

• Develop ways to assess threats and trends by gathering, analyzing and sharing local and national information and intelligence through fusion centers.
• Coordinate with state, local and tribal law enforcement leaders to ensure that DHS is providing the correct resources to fusion centers.
• Promote a sense of common mission and purpose at fusion centers through training and other support. (Ben Bain, "DHS established new office for intelligence-sharing centers," Federal Computer Week, September 30, 2009)

Since Bushist–and now, Obama–securocrats designated fusion centers "a central node for the federal government’s efforts for sharing terrorism-related information with state and local officials," the federal government has pumped some $327 million in taxpayer-funded largesse into these spooky "public-private partnerships."
In Pennsylvania for example, the Criminal Intelligence Center (PaCIC), is described by the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) as a "component of the Pennsylvania State Police."
Washington Post investigative journalist Robert O’Harrow Jr., the author of No Place to Hide, revealed that "Pennsylvania buys credit reports and uses face-recognition software to examine driver’s license photos" and have "subscriptions to private information-broker services that keep records about Americans’ locations, financial holdings, associates, relatives, firearms licenses and the like."
One can only wonder whether these or other intrusive surveillance tools, including the CEAU’s CIPAV software were deployed against Madison and Wallschlaeger prior to their Pittsburgh arrest.
But gathering information on fusion centers is often an exercise in Kafkaesque futility. Investigative journalist G.W. Schulz reported that when the Center for Investigative Reporting (CIR) attempted to obtain information from the Colorado Information Analysis Center on that state’s fusion center, they ran into a brick wall.
CIAC spokesperson Lance Clem refused to release what should be public documents to CIR claiming that releasing the records would be "contrary to the public interest" and "not only would compromise [the] security and investigative practices of numerous law enforcement agencies but would also violate confidentiality agreements that have been made with private partner organizations and federal, state and local law enforcement agencies."
As of this writing, it cannot be determined with any certainty what role the Pennsylvania Criminal Intelligence Center played in repressing G20 protests. However, if past fusion center practices in Denver and St. Paul during last year’s Democratic and Republican National Conventions are any guide, their management of pre-G20 intelligence along with their federal partners, was in all probability considerable.
One lesson that can be gleaned however, from the federal witch hunt targeting activists Elliot Madison and Michael Wallschlaeger, is that dissent in post-9/11 America, as during the COINTELPRO-era of the 1960s and ’70s, has been criminalized.  

Tom Burghardt is a researcher and activist based in the San Francisco Bay Area. In addition to publishing in Covert Action Quarterly and Global Research, an independent research and media group of writers, scholars, journalists and activists based in Montreal, his articles can be read on Dissident Voice, The Intelligence Daily, Pacific Free Press and the whistleblowing website Wikileaks. He is the editor of Police State America: U.S. Military "Civil Disturbance" Planning, distributed by AK Press.