Daily Archives: June 3, 2012

Bilderberg 2012: real men don’t like oligarchs

A police officer quietly apologises for making such a pointless arrest. Photograph: Hannah Borno

Can the might of Bilderberg be worn down by this torrent of testosterone, megaphones and blatantly eaten goji berries?

guardian.co.uk | Jun 3, 2012

by Charlie Skelton

I handed the goji berries to the cop. “He dropped these.” The cop thanked me, tossed the gojis in the trunk, and bustled away his captive amid a cacophony of outrage from the crowds. Moments earlier, the man with the berries had called out to the crowd: “They can’t arrest us all! Let’s stand together!” Moments later, poignantly, he was grabbed by the police and bundled into the squad car.

It was a silly arrest, really. He wasn’t doing anything at all. He was eating goji berries, standing on the edge of the road. Jaysnacking. A token flex of muscle from Fairfax County police. I’m not sure this constitutes a legal defence, but I’m pretty sure that if you’re eating a bag of organic goji berries, you’re probably not much of a threat to society. As the police pulled away, the bullhorn sirens started up and I walked away from the noise.

There was a little too much testosterone on the sidewalk this afternoon – a few too many megaphones for my liking. But hey, you want to shout about the tyranny of a corrupt transnational banking oligarchy, you go right ahead. I’m not about to tell you to hush. It’s horses for courses. Two years ago, a group of Spanish activists sat in silence on the beach and sent a white ring of positive energy up the hill to encircle and cleanse the Bilderberg hotel. Whatever gets the job done.

As I left the crime scene, I met a member of Oathkeepers trotting down from their gazebo to check on the arrest. “We’ll be looking at the video evidence,” he assures me, puffing past.

The Oathkeepers are a posse of military veterans and retired police officers, who have come to keep an eye on things at Bilderberg 2012. They’re an incredibly reassuring presence; tough, avuncular – darn it they just want to make you go up and shake them by the hand and say: “Thank you, sir, for being here.”

The aim of Oathkeepers is encourage anyone who has sworn to defend the constitution – so that’s military, law enforcement officers, and first responders – to honour their oath. They’re here at Bilderberg to keep a grizzled eye on things.

“We try to stay mission specific,” says John Oetken, an Oathkeeper from Orange County – although at Bilderberg, their mission has crept a little to include overseeing not only the police, but also the protesters. “We’re a neutral party. We’re here to make sure it’s a peaceful process, and to keep the knuckleheads in line, from both sides.”

I had breakfast this morning with three other veterans – retired Navy men – who have taken a road trip up from Florida to be here at Bilderberg…

Dr Rick Davis is about the calmest person I’ve ever met. A former Flight Surgeon, he spent 9 years in the military, can fly an F16 and carried out missions with the Navy Seals. I ask him why he’s come here. He takes his iPhone and shows me a quote from the anthropologist Margaret Mead:

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

Rick and his fellow veterans, Wayne Fritzsche and Bob Romanko, are about as far from whatever lazy caricature of ‘Bilderberg activist’ might exist in the mind of an idiot. Wayne is the chairman of a publicly traded pharmaceuticals company. “I understand what having a full diary means – and let me tell you, the people who go to Bilderberg aren’t going to block off three or four days just to have a ‘chat’. They wouldn’t give three or four days to a state visit. A couple of hours, dinner and you’re done. Bilderberg is a co-ordinated effort on a huge scale”.

But an effort to do what? Rick answers.

“At Bilderberg are the apex predators of the world crime syndicate. Now, I’m a physician. These people display all the classic symptoms of psychopathy. They exhibit an obsessive compulsion towards the exercise of power. These are extremely ill people, they have a culture of negativism and death. And I’m here to stop their agenda. It’s the agenda that’s killing us.”

The risk is that great? Rick nods matter-of-factly. “I’m a trauma physician – which is all about assessing risk. I have a considerable knowledge of nuclear, biological and chemical warfare. I’m CEO of a company, and in business you’re always asking: where is my nearest risk? Risk assessment is my job. And right now, we’re at risk from the biggest threat to humanity there’s ever been.”

These men feel a moral imperative to stand up and square off against the threat. As Bob says: “I simply cannot do nothing.” A former Navy historian, Bob worked in sports radio and has the voice to match. His growls his frustration at the fact that his son, a journalist, can’t get his head round the seriousness of the crisis. “He’s married a doctor, he’s lives in a fabulous city, he’s living the American dream. He just doesn’t see that the American dream is heading off a cliff.”

I ask Rick why he thinks that the ‘first responders’ to the threat, the activists outside the hotel gates, are so predominantly male. “I’ve thought about this,” he says. “Men protect the clan. We’re hard-wired to look outwards for a threat. Women are hard-wired to protect the family, the house. Men are looking at the horizon. What’s coming down the road?”

A mile up the road at Bilderberg, the crowd has grown to around 500 people (a new Bilderberg record!) and I’d say well over 80% of them are men. One of them is Matthew Medina from We Are Change San Antonio – I ask him why there are so few women around him. “Dang, dude, that’s a good question,” he says. “It’s heavy on the soul to protest against the global elite, about a superclass meeting in secret. But listen, women are paving the way in protesting against food laws and GMO, additives and fluoride. We all do our bit.”

But at Bilderberg – it’s the men. “In a way, maybe this is our sports. This is our challenge – to make some noise and bring media attention to this event. Bilderberg is our football field.” Do you play any sports yourself? “I breakdance. I used to be heavily into the underground hip hop scene – my crew was Public Zoo, out of Corpus Christi, Texas. It’s still around, 10 years after I started it. B-Boy Spaceboy, that’s me. Mainly I do tricks – I freeze. You want a see a freeze?”

He holds the pose, and snaps back to his feet, acknowledging the whoops. Oh yeah, B-Boy Spaceboy’s still got it. But he no longer competes. “These days I’m an electrician, I’m a blue collar guy, I work 40 hours a week, but what do they know about that?” he says, jerking a thumb towards the
security fence. “And what do they care?” He heads off to rejoin his We Are Changer buddies, who force this confession from a passing limo: “Are you guys globalists? No? Oh… you’re hairdressers.”

If Bilderberg is our football field, where does this leave ‘sports’ in the life of the activist male?

Collin Abramowicz is 22, and comes from a background soaked in sports: “My stepfather watches baseball, my father watches football, all my friends are obsessed with sports. I used to do wrestling at school, but now my priorities have shifted. You cannot get passionate about something when you’re being deceived. They’re magicians – they are doing something with one hand while you’re watching the other. Sport is a distraction.”

From what? “How about the NDAA? Or how about HR658? Why does the government want to put 30,000 surveillance drones in the sky by 2020?”

“Look at the newspaper,” says his friend Aaron Wolkind, “it’s half sports. Billions of dollars are poured into this stuff, ramming it into the public psyche. People’s primal competitive urges are focused onto a false, superficial sports-reality. My friends who are still into sports, I can’t relate to them any more. They channel all their passion and energy into something meaningless. And they know so much about it: all the statistics; who might or might not get drafted into which team. I’ve got friends who will literally fight over sports. Me? I’m passionate about the real world.”

Noam Chomsky made exactly this point in a 1992 interview featured in Manufacturing Consent. Chomsky describes sports as:

…another crucial example of the indoctrination system, in my view… it offers people something to pay attention to that’s of no importance… And in fact it’s striking to see the intelligence that’s used by ordinary people in [discussions of] sports [as opposed to political and social issues]. I mean, you listen to radio stations where people call in — they have the most exotic information and understanding about all kind of arcane issues. And the press undoubtedly does a lot with this.

A study of Bilderberg’s rich (in every sense) history chimes with a peculiarly male hunger for sports-facts. Daniel Kirby, 28, is one of the few Brits here, a history student from Chester. Daniel’s got the hunger. “If I read something, I have to find the source, to trace things back.” As for Bilderberg: “This means looking at the interlocking directorships of the delegates, reading the think tank documents. Have you read ‘Which Way to Persia?’ from the Brookings Institute?” I confess I haven’t. “It’s a hugely complex subject, obviously, but let’s just say – the road to Tehran goes through Damascus.” I mention that Bassma Kodmani, a senior member of the Syrian National Council, is at Bilderberg this year. Daniel gets out his notebook. “I’ll have to check that.”

This is what I love about Bilderberg. Having conversations that can swerve from the Brookings Institute, to Hegelian dialectics, to Daniel asking me: “Do you know the Olympic torch relay was invented by the Nazis?” This sparks a quick five minute chat about Goebbels, propaganda and Edward Bernays. Once we’re on the Nazis it’s a short hop and a skip back to Bilderberg.

Me: “So, you know Prince Bernhard worked for IG Farben?”

Daniel: “NW-7, their intelligence unit. And you know about Allen Dulles and the Nazi money?”

Me: “Oh my God – Harriman, and the Bush family. It’s incredible.”

God I’ll miss this place. I do slightly worry that I’ve become a Bilderberg nerd, reading transcripts of Henry Kissinger’s phonecalls with David Rockefeller from the ’70s, and knowing which Bilderbergers sit on the board of the Institute of International Finance – the body that represents the private holders of the Greek debt. I’ve started to plan holidays around international research archives.

“There’s kind of a nerd aspect to the research,” admits B-Boy Spaceboy. “I come from a nerd background – I collect comic books. You know Jason Bermas, the documentary maker, he’s a massive fan of The Simpsons. I’m more in The Amazing Spider-Man myself. We’re like the guys from The Big Bang Theory. Like a lot of nerds, I’ve had to stand up to bullies. And that’s what we’re doing here.”

Nerds versus bullies. That’s a description of Bilderberg I haven’t heard before, but a good one. Nerds and veterans. Liberty’s best hope.

Rothschild Illuminati marriage ends in divorce over affair with rapper Jay Electronica

Ben and Kate Goldsmith pictured in December 2010. The couple are set to divorce after she embarked on a passionate love affair with an American rap star

Rothschild heiress’s marriage to Goldsmith scion is over… after she falls for a rapper called Jay Electronica

Daily Mail | Jun 3, 2012

By Katie Nicholl

It seemed like the perfect union –  a marriage that brought together two of the country’s wealthiest families.

He was the multi-millionaire son of the late financier and tycoon Jimmy Goldsmith, she a scion of the Rothschild banking dynasty.

But now Ben Goldsmith and his music producer wife Kate, who have three children, are to divorce after she embarked on a passionate love affair with an American rap singer named Jay Electronica.

Last night Mr Goldsmith confirmed the split, saying: ‘I’m pretty shell-shocked by everything. All I am thinking about now is my children.’

The marriage ended with a dramatic showdown at the family home in  Notting Hill, West London, on Wednesday morning.

Mr Goldsmith, 31, confronted his  30-year-old wife over explicit text messages and emails he found on her smartphone that she had received from and sent to the New Orleans-born hip-hop artist, who now lives in London and is one of her clients.

After initially denying the romance, Mrs Goldsmith confessed to the affair when her husband told her he had read the text messages.

Jay Electronica Busts Up An Illuminati Marriage?

The Goldsmith, his Rothschild wife and the American rapper

During a heated altercation, Mr Goldsmith slapped his wife and kicked a child’s toy at her.

He then took the children to school. By the time he returned, she had called police and they were at the house to arrest him.

Last night a spokesman for the Metropolitan Police confirmed that officers were called to attend a domestic  disturbance in the couple’s street at 8am and arrested a man on suspicion of common assault.

Mr Goldsmith was released after being given a caution.

Sources say the marriage has become increasingly volatile and  turbulent during the past two years, but added that Mr Goldsmith had never hit his wife before.

One friend of old Etonian Mr Goldsmith said yesterday that he was ‘devastated and miserable’ over the collapse of his marriage to Kate, whom he has known since he was 18.

He has moved out of the marital home to stay with friends and has a suitcase of clothes in his offices in the West End.

‘Ben is heartbroken, devastated and thoroughly miserable,’ a friend of the couple said. ‘He suspected Kate was cheating on him because she has been behaving increasingly erratically for some time.

‘She is obsessed with this chap called Jay Electronica who is one of her clients. She is always on the phone to him and out  with him until four or five in the morning most nights. Sometimes she even stays with him.

‘Ben was paranoid about their friendship months ago, but when he confronted her about an affair earlier this year she denied it.

‘Then last week he found a series of texts and email messages. They were very intense messages planning sexual liaisons.’

Ben, who has been drowning his troubles at his local pub The Scarsdale in West Kensington, where he has been overheard discussing the affair, has told friends that the marriage is over and that he intends to file for divorce on the grounds of adultery.

Kate inherited an £18 million fortune after her father, banker Amschel Rothschild, hanged himself at the Bristol Hotel in Paris in 1996. It is understood that her affair with Jay Electronica, a father of one whose real name is Timothy Elpadaro Thedford, has been going on for close to a year.

She has been in constant touch with him on Twitter and last month the  rapper posted a picture of Kate aboard a helicopter on his site. He also recently tweeted: ‘The handling of the heart is a very delicate art cause its paper thiiiiin.’ [sic]

Electronica, 36, who is signed to Kate’s record label Round Table,  was born and raised in the violent  crime-ridden Magnolia Projects in New Orleans, Louisiana. He has been rapping since 2004 and is known for controversial and explicitly sexual lyrics.

He has a three-year-old daughter with Grammy award-winning singer Erykah Badu. He keeps a relatively low profile in London but works with some of the industry’s biggest talents, including Jay Z and Sean  ‘P-Diddy’ Combs. He is also friendly with heiress and socialite Nicky Hilton and regularly tweets Kate’s brother James, who is believed to know about the affair.

The rapper is currently in LA following the death of his grandmother Dorothy Flowers, but he is expected to be reunited with Kate shortly.

Sources close to the Goldsmiths say that although the marriage has been on the rocks for some time – the couple had a trial separation  earlier this year – they are deeply shocked that Kate has left Ben for a bad-boy rapper.

Mr Goldsmith tried to save the marriage but has now told friends ‘there is no going back’.

A family friend told The Mail on Sunday: ‘Ben has said that Kate has confessed everything to him. He  has said this is definitely it and  the marriage is over. He will be  filing for divorce on the grounds  of adultery. He has moved out and  is staying with friends.’

The split has been another blow to the wider Goldsmith family, who  are still reeling from the divorce  of Ben’s older brother, Tory politician Zac. His ten-year marriage to  Sheherazade Ventura-Bentley  collapsed in 2009 after he embarked on an affair with Kate’s younger  sister Alice Rothschild.

In a bizarre twist to the family saga, Zac and Alice now live together in a house on the Goldsmiths’ family estate in Richmond, South-West London, and plan to marry as soon as Zac’s divorce is finalised.

Lady Annabel Goldsmith, Ben’s mother, is said to be devastated about his marital breakdown and spent last week looking after her grandchildren.

Meanwhile, Kate’s family are reported to be ‘worried sick’ about her new relationship. ‘Her mother and all her family are very concerned that Kate is going off the rails,’ says a friend.

‘Kate and Alice are talking but most of the family are not on speaking terms with her at the moment. The whole situation is very sad.

‘Ben and Kate have a wonderful family, a lovely house and everything they could have wanted. The problem is, Kate is hanging out with Jay all the time and she has become a different person. There have been some very explosive rows.

‘She’s out nearly every night until the early hours and has become obsessed with this rapper.

‘Her explanation to her husband has always been that it’s work and that’s why she and this guy have been spending so much time together.’

The source added that Ben had been worried about Electronica since January, but Kate assured him the relationship was a working one and nothing more.

‘They had a trial separation earlier this year. They both went off and did their own things. I think Ben saw a couple of girls, but there was nothing serious. Kate convinced Ben to give it another go, which he did.

‘He was furious when he found  out that Kate had been cheating on him with Electronica. He is totally heartbroken.’

The marriage took a knock two years ago when Kate became close to a friend of Ben’s, but the couple agreed to try to make things work.

Last summer they were reported to have suffered another rocky patch over Kate’s busy work schedule. Mr Goldsmith put the family home on the market in April.

The couple claimed they needed  to downsize, but the truth was that the problems in their relationship were becoming more evident.

Now the couple will have to thrash out a complicated and legally fraught divorce settlement. Zac’s divorce to Sheherazade is still not settled because of the financial structure of the Goldsmith dynasty.

Sir Jimmy left his family a £1.2 billion fortune, but much of the capital is tied up in trusts run by trust  managers. The brothers’ fortunes, and that of their sister Jemima, is mostly from inheritance income, not capital.

Meanwhile Kate, who went to  Bryanstone School in Dorset, is determined to continue working with Electronica and her record label and management company.

Ben and Kate started dating in 2000 when they were regulars in  the social pages of Tatler magazine, where Ben was frequently voted most eligible bachelor – topping even Prince William at the time.

In 2003 the couple celebrated their engagement at Annabel’s in Mayfair, the club named after Ben’s mother, and were married that September. Ben was 23 and Kate 21.

They followed a family tradition  of marrying young. Ben’s father eloped with his first wife, Bolivian tin heiress Isabel Patino, when  he was 21, and Ben’s older sister  Jemima surprised society when she married Pakistan cricketer Imran Khan at the same age.

Kate’s father was 25 when he  married her mother, heiress Anita Guinness, who was 23.

The Rothschild and Goldsmith families, blood relations who can trace their heritage to the Jewish ghettos of 18th Century Frankfurt, are powerful and influential in the worlds of finance and politics.

Sir Jimmy amassed his £1.2 billion fortune through pharmaceutical and banking interests.

Through his marriage to Lady Annabel, a close friend of the Prince of Wales, he was also a high-profile society figure.

Stockholm braves coldest June weather in 84 years

Stockholm registered its coldest June weekend in 84 years (AFP/File, Olivier Morin)

AFP | Jun 3, 2012

STOCKHOLM — Stockholm registered its coldest June weekend in 84 years, with temperatures hitting a maximum of just six degrees Celsius (43 Fahrenheit), meteorologists said Sunday.

On Saturday, as blustery winds and heavy rain fell on the capital, “Stockholm reported a high of just six degrees. We have not seen such a low June temperature since 1928,” the Swedish Meteorological and Hydrological Institute (SMHI) wrote in a statement.

And the cold and wet looked to be settling in for the better part of the coming week.

“On Thursday and Friday the weather will stabilise a bit with fewer showers and a little more sun, and temperatures will slowly rise,” the institute said, noting however that another rainstorm was due to move in over the country next weekend.

The cold spell came as US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visited Stockholm on Sunday, holding talks with Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt while on a boat ride in Stockholm’s picturesque archipelago.

Even Bildt commented the cold on his blog: “The weather continues to be lousy, but we’ll have to compensate for it with the warmth of our relationship during Hillary Clinton’s visit here today.”

After the long, cold winter, the chilly and wet weather of late has left many Swedes longing for warmer climes.

Charter group Ving said Saturday its tour bookings increased by 31 percent during the past week from the previous week.

“Summer is coming soon and people don’t dare take a chance (on the weather in Sweden), they want to make sure they get some sun during their holiday,” Ving spokeswoman Magdalena Oehrn told Swedish news agency TT.

Obama now ‘George Bush on steroids’

nzherald.co.nz | Jun 4, 2012

Amos Guiora knows all about the pitfalls of targeted assassinations, both in terms of legal process and the risk of killing the wrong people or causing civilian casualties.

The University of Utah law professor spent many years in the Israel Defence Forces, including time as a legal adviser in the Gaza Strip, where such strikes are common. He knows what it feels like when people weigh life-and-death decisions.

Yet Guiora – no dove on such matters – confessed he was “deeply concerned” about President Barack Obama’s own “kill list” of terrorists and the way they are eliminated by missiles fired from robot drones.

Drone wars and state secrecy – how Barack Obama became a hardliner

He believes United States policy has not tightly defined how people get on the list, leaving it open to legal and moral problems when the order to kill leaves Obama’s desk.

“He is making a decision largely devoid of external review,” Guiora said, characterising the US’s apparent methodology for deciding who is a terrorist as “loosey goosey”.

Indeed, newspaper revelations about the “kill list” have shown the Obama Administration defines a militant as any military-age male in the strike zone when its drone attacks.

That has raised the hackles of many who saw Obama as somehow more sophisticated on terrorism issues than his predecessor, George W. Bush.

But Guiora does not view it that way. “If Bush did what Obama has been doing, then journalists would have been all over it,” he said.

Having come to office on a powerful message of breaking with Bush, Obama has in fact built on his predecessor’s national security tactics.

He has presided over a massive expansion of secret surveillance of American citizens by the National Security Agency. He has launched a ferocious and unprecedented crackdown on whistleblowers. He has made more government documents classified than any previous President.

He has broken his promise to close the controversial Guantanamo Bay prison and pressed on with prosecutions via secretive military tribunals, rather than civilian courts. He has preserved CIA renditions.

In last week’s New York Times article that detailed the “kill list”, Bush’s last CIA director, Michael Hayden, said Obama should open the process to more public scrutiny. “Democracies do not make war on the basis of legal memos locked in a [Department of Justice] safe,” he told the newspaper.

Even more pertinently, Aaron David Miller, a long-term Middle East policy adviser to both Republican and Democratic Administrations, delivered a damning verdict in a recent issue of Foreign Policy magazine. He wrote bluntly: “Barack Obama has become George W. Bush on steroids.”

The Administration used the Espionage Act – an obscure World War I anti-spy law – six times. That is more uses in three years than under all previous Presidents combined. Cases include John Kiriakou, a CIA agent who leaked details of waterboarding, and Thomas Drake, who revealed the inflated costs of a National Security Agency data collection project that had been contracted out.

The development fits with a growing level of secrecy in government under Obama. Last week a report by the Information Security Oversight Office revealed 2011 saw US officials create more than 92 million classified documents: the most ever and 16 million more than the year before.

“We are seeing the reversal of the proper flow of information between the Government and the governed. It is probably the fundamental civil liberties issue of our time,” said Elizabeth Goitein, a national security expert at the Brennan Centre for Justice. “The national security establishment is getting bigger and bigger.”

The drone programme and “kill list” have emerged as most central to Obama’s hardline national security policy. In January 2009, when Obama came to power, the drone programme existed only for Pakistan and had made 44 strikes in five years. With Obama it expanded to Afghanistan, Yemen and Somalia with more than 250 strikes. Civilian casualties are common. Obama has deliberately killed US citizens, including radical cleric Anwar al-Awlaki last September, and accidentally killed others, such as Awlaki’s 16-year-old son, Abdul-Rahman.

Yet for some, politics seems moot.

Jesselyn Radack was a Justice Department ethics adviser under Bush who became a whistleblower over violations of the legal rights of “American Taleban” John Walker Lindh. Now she works for the Government Accountability Project, defending fellow whistleblowers. She campaigned for Obama, donated money and voted for him.

“Whoever gets elected, whether it’s Obama or Romney, they are going to continue this very dangerous path,” she said. “It creates a constitutional crisis for our country. A crisis of who we are as Americans. You can’t be a free society when all this happens in secret.”

Secret sifter

High in the Utah mountain deserts a chamber of American secrets is being built.

The innocuously named Utah Data Centre is being built for the National Security Agency near a tiny town called Bluffdale.

When completed next year, the heavily fortified US$2 billion ($2.65 billion) building, which is self-sufficient with its own power plant, will be five times the size of the US Capitol in Washington DC.

Gigantic servers will store vast amounts of data from ordinary citizens to be sifted and mined for intelligence clues. It will cover everything from emails to phone calls to credit card bills.

The centre is the most obvious sign of how the operations and scope of the NSA have grown since the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Under President George W.

Bush, a key part was a secret “warrantless wiretapping” programme that was scrapped when it was exposed. However, in 2008 Congress passed a bill that effectively allowed the programme to continue.

Israel Defence Forces using cyberspace to attack enemies

SMH | Jun 4, 2012

Israel has admitted that it uses cyberspace to attack its enemies.

The confession came in a statement on the Israeli military’s website on Sunday, local time.

The website said it was “for the first time” revealing a document recently written by the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) Operations Department, detailing the goals and methods of its cyber warfare.

Flame virus: suspicion falls on Israel

“The IDF has been engaged in cyber activity consistently and relentlessly,” said the statement.

It said it had been using cyberspace for intelligence gathering and “will” also use it “to execute attacks” and “clandestine” operations.

Cyber activity would also be used to maintain Israel’s military edge over its enemies, and to curtail their military capabilities.

Another goal was “thwarting and disrupting enemy projects” targeting the Israeli military and government.

The statement comes less than a week after one of the world’s top virus-hunting agencies said it discovered a virus codenamed Flame on computers in Iran and several Middle East countries.

The virus was designed to carry out cyber espionage by stealing images, audio conversations and other data, and had been in use for more than two years without being noticed.

Flame targets computers running the Windows operating system and apparently spreads through infected thumb drives, websites and manipulated emails.

The Moscow-based Kaspersky Lab said most infections (189) were found in Iran, and, although other infections (98) were also found in Israel and the Palestinian territories, its sophistication has triggered media speculation that it was created by Israel.

Kaspersky Lab compared Flame to Duqu and Stuxnet, two other virus programs that targeted Iran.

There has also been speculation Israel was behind Stuxnet, a worm that infiltrated industrial systems of the German company Siemens, apparently to disrupt uranium enrichment in Iran.

U.S. Team and Israel Developed Iran Worm

WSJ | Jun 1, 2012


WASHINGTON—The U.S. is pursuing a wide-ranging, high-tech campaign against Iran’s nuclear program that includes the cybersabotage project known as Stuxnet, which was developed by the Central Intelligence Agency in conjunction with Idaho National Laboratory, the Israeli government, and other U.S. agencies, according to people familiar with the efforts.

The covert CIA effort also includes persistent drone surveillance and cyberspying on Iranian scientists, they said.

The U.S. strategy to use technologically advanced measures against Iran illustrates how the Internet and other remote-access capabilities are facilitating spy operations deep inside denied territories.

“It’s part of a larger campaign,” said a former U.S. official familiar with the efforts. “It’s a preferable alternative to airstrikes.”

U.S. officials and their allies accuse Iran of operating an illicit nuclear enrichment program to develop atomic weapons, a charge Iran denies.

Through the administrations of President Barack Obama and his predecessor, George W. Bush, the U.S. has pursued a cyber campaign, code-named “Olympic Games,” to attack the Iranian program, former officials said.

The existence of Stuxnet and the presumption of U.S. and Israeli involvement have been widely reported, even though U.S. officials have never confirmed the government’s role. The code name and scope of the project and other details of the effort were reported on Friday by the New York Times in an adaptation from a coming book.

The first stage of the effort involved inserting so-called beacons into the computers running the control systems used in Iran’s Natanz nuclear enrichment facility, former officials said. Beaconing is a technique U.S. cyberwar operators often use to electronically map and monitor computer systems they infiltrate, the officials said.

Then, the National Security Agency teamed up with Israeli counterparts to develop the attack code that would become known as Stuxnet, former officials said. It was introduced into the Iranian facility via a flash drive. The Stuxtnet worm was discovered by researchers in 2010 after it was inadvertently released on the Internet and turned up in computer systems in several countries, including Iran, current and former officials said.

A key element of Olympic Games which hasn’t been previously disclosed was a partnership between the CIA’s Information Operations Center and the Idaho National Laboratory.

Idaho National Lab has a cadre of researchers who investigate vulnerabilities in computerized control systems that run critical infrastructure. Researchers there probed the specific control system used for the Iranian enrichment program, a former U.S. official said.

“They found out how you could make them destroy themselves,” the former official said.

The CIA declined to comment. The Department of Homeland Security declined to comment on behalf of Idaho National Lab, which is run by the Department of Energy but has joint programs with a number of government agencies.

Iranians have accused the U.S. and Israel of being behind the cyberattacks. The country’s mission to the United Nations didn’t return a call seeking comment.

Officials are looking to see whether the revelations about covert U.S. efforts to spy on and sabotage Iran’s nuclear program will create new hurdles for upcoming negotiations this month on Iran’s nuclear program.

White House spokesman Tommy Vietor declined to comment on U.S. efforts to counter Iran’s nuclear program, but said that the focus of international talks was Iran’s flouting of international requirements.

“The reason the world is united is because Iran has failed to meet its clear obligations with regard to its nuclear program,” he said. Until Iran complies with nonproliferation obligations, he added, “they will continue to be isolated, and nothing can change that except for concrete steps by the Iranians.”

US fears being infected by it’s own virus

This screen grab taken by the Kaspersky Lab site shows a program of the computer virus known as Flame. Picture: AFP

  •     US warns company’s about Flame virus
  •     Claims it was developed by US to infect Iran
  •     No country is safe from the Flame virus

AP | Jun 4, 2012

THE Obama administration is warning US businesses about an unusually potent computer virus that has infected Iran’s oil industry, amid suspicions Washington is responsible for secretly creating and unleashing cyberweapons against foreign countries.

The US government’s dual roles of alerting American companies about these threats and producing powerful software weapons and eavesdropping systems underscore the risks of an unintended online boomerang.

A cyberweapon that spreads across the internet may circle back accidentally to infect computers it was never supposed to target.

The US Homeland Security Department’s warning about the new virus, known as Flame, told American companies no infections had been discovered inside the US so far. It described Flame as an espionage tool that was sophisticated in design, using encryption and other techniques to help break into computers and move through corporate or private networks.

Suspicions about the US government’s role in the use of cyberweapons were heightened by reports of another sophisticated virus, known as Stuxnet, that attacked the computer systems of Iran’s main nuclear facilities.

Stuxnet is believed to have been developed by the CIA in conjunction with the Israeli government, Idaho National Laboratory and other US agencies, sources say.

The covert CIA program includes drone surveillance and cyberspying on Iranian scientists.

“It’s part of a larger campaign,” said a former senior US official. “It’s a preferable alternative to airstrikes.”

The US and its allies accuse Iran of operating its nuclear power program as a cover to develop atomic weapons, a charge Iran denies.

Israel has admitted to cyberwarfare but not claimed responsibility to specific viruses such as Stuxnet or Flame.

The confession appeared on the Israeli Military’s website on the weekend in a list of their goals and methods.

“The IDF has been engaged in cyber activity consistently and relentlessly,” said the statement, which detailed a role of cyber warfare as “thwarting and disrupting enemy projects” targeting the Israeli military and government.

Throughout the administrations of President Barack Obama and his predecessor, George W. Bush, the US has used a cyberwar campaign, code-named Olympic Games, to attack the Iranian program.

The first stage of the US effort involved inserting “beacons” into the computers running the control systems used in Iran’s Natanz nuclear enrichment facility, former officials said.

Beaconing is a technique US cyberwar operators use to electronically map and monitor the computer systems they infiltrate.

“The US hi-tech campaign against Iran includes the Stuxnet worm and cyberspying,” the former senior official said.

After the successful beacon operation, the US National Security Agency teamed up with its Israeli counterparts to develop the attack code that would become known as Stuxnet. It was introduced into the Iranian system via a flash drive.

The Stuxnet worm was discovered by researchers in 2010 after it was inadvertently released on the internet and turned up in computer systems in several countries, including Iran.

London Residents: ‘We will form a human barricade to keep missiles off our homes’

Rooftop Launch site: A Rapier missile launcher

thisislondon.co.uk | Jun 1, 2012

by Emer Martin

Residents have threatened to form a human barricade to prevent missiles being installed on the roof of their homes during the Olympics.

More than 200 people attended a meeting in Bow last night to discuss the question “Do We Want Missiles in Our Communities?”

Inhabitants of a private gated development in Bow told the meeting that they were “terrified” and “would do everything in their power” to stop the installation of the missiles. The MoD declined an invitation to attend the first consultation meeting, and a spokesman told organisers that it did not want to talk to local people “until after the final decision to deploy the missiles”.

Residents living near the six sites earmarked for the surface-to-air Starstreak and Rapier missiles were informed of the plans in leaflets handed out in April. The weapons travel at three times the speed of sound and have a range of 3.4 miles.

Other sites are in Blackheath Common, the Lea Valley Reservoir, Oxleas Wood, Barn Hill in Epping Forest, and a playground in Waltham Forest.

Rushanara Ali, MP for Bethnal Green and Bow, said: “I wrote to the Secretary of State for Defence, making my concerns about this site clear. I made it clear that residents should not have been informed of these plans by leaflets handed out on a Friday night. Quite rightly, people are outraged about being informed in that way.”

Local campaigner Chris Nineham said: “If they were changing the parking regulations, they’d have a consultation period. You would have thought there would be some discussion when they decide to put a missile on the roof of your building.

“These missiles have a significant failure rate, and you have to ask, if they do fire them, what will happen?”

Brian Whelan, 28, who lives in the gated Bow Quarter block where a missile will be rigged on the roof of a water tower, is leading the campaign to block the installation of the missiles.

He said: “The Ministry of Defence have tried to claim I am a lone nutter, but I am not alone. There are a lot of people opposed to this. We will protest and if it gets to it, we will ring our building and take to the streets to stop them. We will not be sidelined.”

Local resident and Respect spokesman Abjol Miah said: “We don’t want the missile on our doorstep. If that means standing outside to protect our doorsteps, we will do it.”

Alex Kenny, from Tower Hamlets NUT, said: “The militarisation of London raises important issues. We will be behind any protests and I think we can win this one. We will support any action against the instalment of the missiles.”

General Sir Nick Parker, in charge of Olympic operations, said: “We are practising for the worst-case scenario, not the most likely scenario.”

Nebraska lawmakers question EPA’s aerial livestock surveillance

FoxNews.com | May 30, 2012

A bipartisan group of Capitol Hill lawmakers is pressing EPA Director Lisa Jackson to answer questions about privacy issues and other concerns after the agency used aerial surveillance to monitor livestock operations over their home state of Nebraska.

“Farmers and ranchers in Nebraska pride themselves in the stewardship of our state’s natural resources. As you might imagine, this practice has resulted in privacy concerns among our constituents and raises several questions,” says the letter signed by Republican Reps. Adrian Smith, Jeff Fortenberry and Lee Terry, as well as Democratic Sen. Ben Nelson and GOP Sen. Mike Johanns.

Smith, co-chairman of the Modern Agriculture Caucus and the Congressional Rural Caucus, said Tuesday the operations in many cases are near homes so “landowners deserve legitimate justification given the sensitivity of the information gathered by the flyovers.”

Spying On Cows

EPA planes spying on ranchers? Lawmakers want answers

Nebraska Congressmen question EPA aerial surveillance on ranches

Nebraska lawmakers question EPA flyovers

EPA responds to concerns about air surveillance in Midwest but questions remain

The letter asks nearly two-dozen questions including why the inspections are being conducted, how many flights have occurred and whether they have resulted in any enforcement activities.

“Nebraskans are rightfully skeptical of an agency which continues to unilaterally insert itself into the affairs of rural America,” Smith added.

The Environmental Protection Agency uses aerial surveillance across a swath of the Midwest know as Section 7 – which  includes Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas and  Missouri — and has defended the practice as cost-efficient.

The agency declined to comment Wednesday. The letter gave the agency until June 10 to respond.

As United States and Western nations pull out, China seeks role in Afghanistan

Chinese Armed Policemen in Afghanistan. Image: china-defense-mashup.com

Chinese President Hu Jintao and his Afghan counterpart Hamid Karzai will hold talks during a global summit in Beijing this week.

MSNBC | Jun 3, 2012

BEIJING — China and Afghanistan will sign an agreement in the coming days that strategically deepens their ties, Afghan officials say, the strongest signal yet that Beijing wants a role beyond economic partnership as Western forces prepare to leave the country.

China has kept a low political profile through much of the decade-long international effort to stabilise Afghanistan, choosing instead to pursue an economic agenda, including locking in future supply from Afghanistan’s untapped mineral resources.

As the U.S.-led coalition winds up military engagement and hands over security to local forces, Beijing, along with regional powers, is gradually stepping up involvement in an area that remains at risk from being overrun by Islamist insurgents.

Chinese President Hu Jintao and his Afghan counterpart Hamid Karzai will hold talks on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation summit in Beijing this week, where they will seal a wide-ranging pact governing their ties, including security cooperation.

Afghanistan has signed a series of strategic partnership agreements including with the United States, India and Britain among others in recent months, described by one Afghan official as taking out “insurance cover” for the period after the end of 2014 when foreign troops leave.

“The president of Afghanistan will be meeting the president of China in Beijing and what will happen is the elevation of our existing, solid relationship to a new level, to a strategic level,” Janan Musazai, a spokesman for the Afghan foreign ministry, told Reuters.

“It would certainly cover a broad spectrum which includes cooperation in the security sector, a very significant involvement in the economic sector, and the cultural field.”

He declined to give details about security cooperation, but Andrew Small, an expert on China at the European Marshall Fund who has tracked its ties with South Asia, said the training of security forces was one possibility.

China has signalled it will not contribute to a multilateral fund to sustain the Afghan national security forces – estimated to cost $4.1 billion per year after 2014 – but it could directly train Afghan soldiers, Small said.

“They’re concerned that there is going to be a security vacuum and they’re concerned about how the neighbours will behave,” he said.

Beijing has been running a small progamme with Afghan law enforcement officials, focused on counter-narcotics and involving visits to China’s restive Xinjiang province, whose western tip touches the Afghan border.

Training of Afghan forces is expected to be modest, and nowhere near the scale of the Western effort to bring them up to speed, or even India’s role in which small groups of officers are trained at military institutions in India.

China wants to play a more active role, but it will weigh the sensitivities of neighbouring nations in a troubled corner of the world, said Zhang Li, a professor of South Asian studies at Sichuan University who has been studying the future of Sino-Afghan ties.

“I don’t think that the U.S. withdrawal also means a Chinese withdrawal, but especially in security affairs in Afghanistan, China will remain low-key and cautious,” he said. “China wants to play more of a role there, but each option in doing that will be assessed carefully before any steps are taken.”

Afghanistan’s immediate neighbours Iran and Pakistan, but also nearby India and Russia, have all jostled for influence in the country at the crossroads of Central and South Asia, and many expect the competition to heat up after 2014.

India has poured aid into Afghanistan and like China has invested in its mineral sector, committing billions of dollars to develop iron ore deposits, as well as build a steel plant and other infrastructure.

It worries about a Taliban resurgence and the threat to its own security from Pakistan-based militants operating from the region.

Pakistan, which is accused of having close ties with the Taliban, has repeatedly complained about India’s expanding role in Afghanistan, seeing Indian moves as a plot to encircle it.

“India-Pakistan proxy fighting is one of the main worries,” said Small.

In February, China hosted a trilateral dialogue involving officials from Pakistan and Afghanistan to discuss efforts to seek reconciliation with the Taliban.

It was first time Beijing involved itself directly and openly in efforts to stabilise Afghanistan.

Afghan foreign ministry spokesman Musazai said Kabul supported any effort to bring peace in the country. “China has close ties with Afghanistan. It also has very close ties with Pakistan and if it can help advance the vision of peace and stability in Afghanistan we welcome it.”