Snowden raises the count of world leaders bugged by NSA to 35

The United States monitored the phone conversations of 35 world leaders according to classified documents leaked by fugitive whistleblower Edward Snowden, Britain’s Guardian newspaper…

Phone numbers were passed on to the U.S. National Security Agency by an official in another government department, according to the documents, the Guardian said…

It added that staff in the White House, State Department and the Pentagon were urged to share the contact details of foreign politicians…

“In one recent case, a U.S. official provided NSA with 200 phone numbers to 35 world leaders,” reads an excerpt from a confidential memo dated October 2006 which was quoted by the Guardian.

The identities of the politicians in question were not revealed.

The revelations in the center-left Guardian suggested that the bugging of world leaders could be more widespread than originally thought, with the issue set to overshadow an EU summit in Brussels.

It’s worth a chuckle to see the stodgy and sanctimonious “neutral” editors at Reuters feel the need to identify the GUARDIAN as “center-left”. Poisonally, I think they point out corruption and class-based politics enough to qualify properly as just plain “left”.

Either road, there ain’t any “center-right” newspapers or politicians working at protecting our privacy and liberty regardless of the number of times they mouth those words in their populist blather.

We’re now required to sooth the emotional well-being of those who commit crimes — witness this:

A former US campus policeman who pepper-sprayed peaceful protesters has been awarded $38,000 in compensation for psychiatric damage.

Lieutenant John Pike received threats after footage of the incident went viral on the internet in 2011…It showed him casually spraying protesters from the Occupy Wall Street movement as they sat on the ground at the University of California.

His award is not much less than that received by the protesters he harmed.

Mr Pike was suspended from his job at University of California Davis after the incident and left the force in July 2012.

An official investigation found that university officials and UC Davis police used poor judgment and excessive force in the confrontation.

In June, Mr Pike filed a worker’s compensation claim with UC Davis over the incident, claiming he suffered psychiatric and nervous system damage.

Local reports said Mr Pike had received more than 17,000 angry or threatening emails, 10,000 text messages and hundreds of letters after the video of the pepper-spraying was published.

UC Davis spokesman Andy Fell said on Wednesday that the Division of Workers Compensation Appeals Board agreed on 16 October to resolve his claim by paying him a settlement totalling $38,055…

The university paid $1 million to settle a lawsuit by the 21 students who were pepper-sprayed and assaulted while sitting on the ground immobile.

The inability of judicial processes to differentiate between citizens attacked by criminals and the thugs committing the assault is difficult to rationalize away as bureaucratic incompetence. It feels like more of the lawyerly presumption that you have to cover your ass for every eventuality – and justice doesn’t have a damned thing to do with the process.

The existential quotient that must be rebalanced requires society, groups and individuals to take responsibility for the results of their actions.

Obama — are you bugging my phone?

The furore over the scale of American mass surveillance revealed by Edward Snowden shifted to an incendiary new level on Wednesday evening when Angela Merkel of Germany called Barack Obama to demand explanations over reports that the US National Security Agency was monitoring her mobile phone.

Merkel was said by informed sources in Germany to be “livid” over the reports and convinced, on the basis of a German intelligence investigation, that the reports were utterly substantiated.

The German news weekly, Der Spiegel, reported an investigation by German intelligence, prompted by research from the magazine, that produced plausible information that Merkel’s mobile was targeted by the US eavesdropping agency. The German chancellor found the evidence substantial enough to call the White House and demand clarification.

The outrage in Berlin came days after President François Hollande of France also called the White House to confront Obama with reports that the NSA was targeting the private phone calls and text messages of millions of French people…

Merkel’s spokesman, Steffen Seibert, made plain that Merkel upbraided Obama unusually sharply and also voiced exasperation at the slowness of the Americans to respond to detailed questions on the NSA scandal since the Snowden revelations first appeared in the Guardian in June.

Merkel told Obama that “she unmistakably disapproves of and views as completely unacceptable such practices, if the indications are authenticated,” Seifert said. “This would be a serious breach of confidence. Such practices have to be halted immediately.”

The sharpness of the German complaint direct to an American president strongly suggested that Berlin had no doubt about the grounds for protest. Seibert voiced irritation that the Germans had waited for months for proper answers from Washington to Berlin on the NSA operations.

Merkel told Obama she expected the Americans “to supply information over the possible scale of such eavesdropping practices against Germany and reply to questions that the federal government asked months ago”, Seibert said.

When the arrogance of Imperial America is confronted by the leader of a nation that survived the removal of privacy and liberty by the ultimate fascist dictator of modern times – history isn’t likely to come down on the side of sophistry and semantics to justify spying on your friends and allies.

Or your own tame citizens.

Civility breakthrough – underwear that filters your farts

Most of us break wind from time to time; it’s a natural function of a healthy body. It’s just a shame that farts generally smell bad enough that people will keep their distance if they suspect you’ve dropped one. The answer to this problem may lie in the material used in your underwear, with a technology used in chemical warfare suits providing the solution.

This is according to Shreddies (no relation to the cereal), a British underwear manufacturer which now does a “flatulence-filtering” range of underpants for men and women. Aimed at anyone suffering from excessive flatulence, but particularly at people with digestive disorders such as IBS and Crohn’s disease, this new line of Shreddies could stop you gassing everyone in close proximity.

The Shreddies filter out farts thanks to an activated carbon back panel made from Zorflex. This material is highly porous, so (the company claims) the odor vapors from the farts become trapped and neutralized before they reach the olfactory glands of any innocent bystanders in close proximity to the offending flatulence…

RTFA for suggested retail pricing. I’m not certain if they can be returned after self-testing or not. 🙂