Fallout from Snowden revelations: “Snooper’s charter” probably won’t become law in the UK

The chances of Theresa May reintroducing her “snooper’s charter” communications data bill are practically zero in the wake of the Guardian’s disclosures on the scale of internet surveillance, leading Tory and Labour civil liberties campaigners have said…

…The disclosure of the mass harvesting of personal communications, including internet data, by the American National Security Agency and Britain’s eavesdropping agency, GCHQ, had shown that the existing UK regulatory framework was completely ineffective.

David Davis said in particular that GCHQ’s Tempora operation, which harvests global phone and internet traffic by tapping into the transatlantic fibre-optic cables, had “put up a big red flag” indicating it was time to think again from scratch about the legal oversight arrangements.

He said it was necessary to look at ways of rewriting the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000, which sets out the legal oversight arrangements for the interception and surveillance of communications.

But the former shadow home secretary and staunch Eurosceptic also praised the efforts of Viviane Reding, the EU commissioner for justice, who wrote to the foreign secretary, William Hague, on Wednesday giving him until the end of the week to answer the charge that the fundamental rights of citizens across Europe were being flouted…

Tom Watson said he shared Davis’s analysis of the poor prospects for the reintroduction of May’s communications data bill, which would require internet and phone companies to store for up to 12 months data tracking everyone’s use of email, phone and internet.

Both were speaking at a packed Commons meeting organised by the Open Rights Group on the disclosures on Prism, the US surveillance programme, and GCHQ’s Tempora programme, based on documents from the American whistleblower, Edward Snowden.

The foreign secretary earlier this week defended Britain’s intelligence-sharing relationship with the US, saying it operated within the rule of law and arguing that terrorists, criminals and foreign intelligence agencies plotted against it in secret…

Certainly useful to hear that Parliamentary politicians in the UK are upset and angry over invasions of privacy by the United States and their own government. Upset enough to put a halt to immediate plans to bring communications up to the level of “legal” snooping common in the United States.

Interesting to learn there has already been a meeting of Commons to discuss remedies to the disclosures of Prism and the government’s Tempora program. Helluva comparison to our Congress which only demonstrates hurt feelings over being left out of the loop – and couldn’t care less about the privacy of our own citizens.

Snowden stashed encrypted copies of NSA files around the world

Taking another page out of the WikiLeaks playbook, Edward Snowden has apparently distributed an encrypted copy of at least “thousands” of documents that he pilfered from the National Security Agency to “several people,” according to Glenn Greenwald, The Guardian reporter who first published Snowden’s leaks.

In an interview with the Daily Beast…Greenwald said that Snowden “has taken extreme precautions to make sure many different people around the world have these archives to insure the stories will inevitably be published.”

Greenwald added: “If anything happens at all to Edward Snowden, he told me he has arranged for them to get access to the full archives.” The Brazil-based journalist said that he himself has thousands of documents that Snowden leaked from the NSA, which may or may not constitute the totality of what he exfiltrated…

“Snowden himself was vehement from the start that we do engage in that journalistic process and we not gratuitously publish things,” Greenwald also told the online publication. “I do know he was vehement about that. He was not trying to harm the US government; he was trying to shine light on it.”

Not surprisingly, since Greenwald has deepened his relationship with Snowden, he has taken extra digital security precautions, including communicating only by encrypted e-mail.

“When I was in Hong Kong, I spoke to my partner in [Rio de Janeiro] via Skype and told him I would send an electronic encrypted copy of the documents,” Greenwald noted. “I did not end up doing it. Two days later his laptop was stolen from our house and nothing else was taken. Nothing like that has happened before. I am not saying it’s connected to this, but obviously the possibility exists.”

As any good cop will tell you – there are NO coincidences.

Ecuador’s response to threats from Congress: offers training to U.S. in human rights, tells Congressional bullies to shove it!


Tell Senator Menendez to get an honest job!

Ecuador’s leftist government thumbed its nose at Washington on Thursday by renouncing U.S. trade benefits and offering to pay for human rights training in America in response to pressure over asylum for former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden.

The angry response threatens a showdown between the two nations over Snowden, and may burnish President Rafael Correa’s credentials to be the continent’s principal challenger of U.S. power after the death of Venezuelan socialist leader Hugo Chavez.

“Ecuador will not accept pressures or threats from anyone, and it does not traffic in its values or allow them to be subjugated to mercantile interests,” government spokesman Fernando Alvarado said at a news conference.

In a cheeky jab at the U.S. spying program that Snowden unveiled through leaks to the media, the South American nation offered $23 million per year to finance human rights training.

The funding would be destined to help “avoid violations of privacy, torture and other actions that are denigrating to humanity,” Alvarado said. He said the amount was the equivalent of what Ecuador gained each year from the trade benefits…

An influential U.S. senator on Wednesday said he would seek to end those benefits if Ecuador gave Snowden asylum.

Snowden, 30, is believed to be at Moscow’s international airport and seeking safe passage to Ecuador…

That “influential senator” is Robert Menendez, Democrat from New Jersey. He deserves less respect than a Cold War gangster for his threat.

Never shy of taking on the West, the pugnacious Correa last year granted asylum to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to help him avoid extradition from Great Britain to Sweden…

The 50-year-old U.S.-trained economist won a landslide re-election in February on generous state spending to improve infrastructure and health services, and his Alianza Pais party holds a majority in the legislature…

An OPEC nation of 15 million people, Ecuador exported $5.4 billion worth of oil, $166 million of cut flowers, $122 million of fruits and vegetables and $80 million of tuna to the United States under the Andean trade program in 2012.

I will make it a point when we go grocery shopping this weekend to buy tuna, produce and flowers from Ecuador. I never tolerated bullies when I was a schoolkid. I still don’t.

Rick Perry cranks up Republican fear of women for another round

Texas Republican Governor Rick Perry on Wednesday launched another battle to pass sweeping abortion restrictions after a marathon speech by a Democrat lawmaker briefly halted a bill critics say could shut most abortion clinics in one of the nation’s biggest states.

Democratic Senator Wendy Davis, once a teenage mother who went on to earn a Harvard Law degree, was propelled on to the national political stage when she spoke for more than 10 hours to block a measure that would ban abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy.

It proved a short-lived victory for women’s groups and abortion rights advocates fighting to stop abortion restrictions across several states. Perry called for another special legislative session to reconsider the proposal on July 1…

I wouldn’t expect anything less from a Texas Republican. They respect the truth even less than they care for women’s rights.

Davis’ filibuster of the Republican supermajority in the Texas legislature was streamed live on some national media websites.

Republicans managed to stop her about two hours before the midnight end to the special legislative session, citing parliamentary procedures, but they were unable to complete voting on the abortion bill before the deadline…

If the measure ultimately passes, Texas would become the 13th state to impose a ban on abortions after 20 weeks and by far the most populous. In addition, the legislation would set strict [phony] health standards for abortion clinics and restrict the use of drugs to end pregnancy.

Republican backers said blah, blah, blah

The U.S. Supreme Court legalized abortion nationwide in 1973, but conservative states have enacted laws in recent years that seek to place restrictions on the procedure, especially on abortions performed late in pregnancy.

The debate rages across the nation. Twelve states have passed 20-week bans, including two states where the bans take effect later this year, according to the Center for Reproductive Rights. Courts have alreaady blocked the bans in three of the 12 states – Arizona, Georgia and Idaho.

Folks outside the United States have to understand that the rule of law only means obedience to 19th Century ideology for what passes for Republicans, nowadays. Science, honesty, dialogue, consensus, democracy and respect for all citizens – are meaningless words leftover from some time warp when traditional American conservatism valued those standards.

Nevermore.