— The Erimtan Angle —

Archive for October, 2013

Stop Watching Us: Popular Reactions to the 21st- Century Global Big Brother

‘Hundreds of demonstrators march on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. to protest against the government’s online surveillance programs. Sarah Toms reports (26 Oct 2013)’.

The Guardian’s Jim Newell in Washington reports that “[t]housands gathered by the Capitol reflection pool in Washington on Saturday [, 26 Oct 2013] to march, chant, and listen to speakers and performers as part of Stop Watching Us,[i] a gathering to protest “mass surveillance” under NSA programs first disclosed by the whistleblower Edward Snowden. Billed by organizers as ‘the largest rally yet to protest mass surveillance’, Stop Watching Us was sponsored by an unusually broad coalition of left- and right-wing groups, including everything from the American Civil Liberties Union, the Green Party, Color of Change and Daily Kos to the Libertarian Party, FreedomWorks and Young Americans for Liberty. The events began outside Union Station, a few blocks away from the Capitol. Props abounded, with a model drone hoisted by one member of the crowd and a large parachute carried by others. One member of the left-wing protest group Code Pink wore a large Barack Obama mascot head and carried around a cardboard camera. Organizers supplied placards reading “Stop Watching _____”, allowing protesters to fill in their own name – or other slogans and occasional profanities. Homemade signs were more colorful, reading ‘Don’t Tap Me, Bro’ ‘Yes, We Scan’ and ‘No Snitching Allowed’”.[2]

While the NSA contractor Edward Snowden did the heavy lifting, the journalist Glenn Greenwald appears to have been the one to inform the world through his articles published in the more than respectable Guardian newspaper. And now, the “Guardian has lost its primary source for breaking news on the NSA documents leaked by Edward Snowden. Journalist Glenn Greenwald — the Guardian writer who[m] Snowden entrusted with the leaked documents — has revealed to BuzzFeed that he’ll be stepping away from his current employer to begin work at an upcoming news organization that has yet to be announced. Though it’s unclear exactly how much leaked information the Guardian will retain, it appears that Greenwald and his working partner, filmmaker Laura Poitras, will continue to be the only two people with full access to the documents”.[3]

On 15 October, Greenwald published this statement: “My partnership with the Guardian has been extremely fruitful and fulfilling: I have high regard for the editors and journalists with whom I worked and am incredibly proud of what we achieved . . . The decision to leave was not an easy one, but I was presented with a once-in-a-career dream journalistic opportunity that no journalist could possibly decline . . . Because this news leaked before we were prepared to announce it, I’m not yet able to provide any details of this momentous new venture, but it will be unveiled very shortly”.[4]

Still, last Friday Greenwald wrote in the Guardian that the “most under-discussed aspect of the NSA story has long been its international scope. That all changed this week as both Germany and France exploded with anger over new revelations about pervasive NSA surveillance on their population and democratically elected leaders. As was true for Brazil previously, reports about surveillance aimed at leaders are receiving most of the media attention, but what really originally drove the story there were revelations that the NSA is bulk-spying on millions and millions of innocent citizens in all of those nations. The favorite cry of US government apologists -–everyone spies! – falls impotent in the face of this sort of ubiquitous, suspicionless spying that is the sole province of the US and its four English-speaking surveillance allies (the UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand)”.[5]  The journalist will leave the newspaper at the end of this month.

[2] Jim Newell, “Thousands gather in Washington for anti-NSA ‘Stop Watching Us’ rally” The Guardian (26 Oct 2013). http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/oct/26/nsa-rally-stop-watching-washington-snowden.

[3] Jacob Kastrenakes, “NSA leaks reporter Glenn Greenwald leaving Guardian to launch new site” The Verge (15 Oct 2013). http://www.theverge.com/2013/10/15/4842216/glenn-greenwald-nsa-scoops-leaving-guardian-start-own-site.

[4] Glenn Greenwald, “Glenn Greenwald and the Guardian’s statements” GGSideDocs (15 Oct 2013). http://ggsidedocs.blogspot.com/2013/10/my-statement-and-guardians.html.

[5] Glenn Greenwald, “As Europe erupts over US spying, NSA chief says government must stop media” The Guardian (25 October 2013). http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/oct/25/europe-erupts-nsa-spying-chief-government.

Secrets of the CIA

‘Secrets of the CIA reveals the truth about the CIA and how this organization is behind numerous terrorist plots throughout history. Many ex-CIA agents speak out about their experiences as agents and what they were required to do. Some of these missions even included killing of children. Most of them are now spreading the word about the crimes of the CIA and how the organization needs to be extinguished. Ralph McGehee, a renowned ex-CIA agent, is featured in this documentary. He is most famous for publishing Deadly Deceits. My 25 Years in the CIA’.

SciShow: Where Did Humans Come From?

The vlogbrother Hank Green tells us about new and confusing discoveries in the field of Human Evolution (26 Oct 2013).

The “study, mentioned by Hank Green, and “published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, focused on a collection of 1,200 premolars and molars from prehistoric humans. Researchers identified landmarks on the teeth and then reconstructed the tooth shape to model what they thought would be the tooth shape of humans’ common ancestor with Neanderthals. They concluded with high statistical confidence that the common ancestor does not belong to the species previously suggested, including Homo heidelbergensis, H. erectus and H. antecessora”.[1]

But leaving the question of the common ancestor with the Neanderthals aside, ad as written by the Guardian’s science correspondent Ian Sample, the “spectacular fossilised skull of an ancient human ancestor that died nearly two million years ago has forced scientists to rethink the story of early human evolution. Anthropologists unearthed the skull at a site in Dmanisi, a small town in southern Georgia, where other remains of human ancestors, simple stone tools and long-extinct animals have been dated to 1.8m years old. Experts believe the skull is one of the most important fossil finds to date, but it has proved as controversial as it is stunning. Analysis of the skull and other remains at Dmanisi suggests that scientists have been too ready to name separate species of human ancestors in Africa. Many of those species may now have to be wiped from the textbooks. The latest fossil is the only intact skull ever found of a human ancestor that lived in the early Pleistocene, when our predecessors first walked out of Africa. The skull adds to a haul of bones recovered from Dmanisi that belong to five individuals, most likely an elderly male, two other adult males, a young female and a juvenile of unknown sex”.[2]  Tim White, an expert on human evolution at the University of California, Berkeley, stated convincingly that “Some palaeontologists see minor differences in fossils and give them labels, and that has resulted in the family tree accumulating a lot of branches. The Dmanisi fossils [now] give us a new yardstick, and when you apply that yardstick to the African fossils, a lot of that extra wood in the tree is dead wood. It’s arm-waving”.[3]

[1] Zoe Mintz, “Fossil Teeth Study Says Common Ancestor Of Neanderthals And Humans Belongs To ‘Some African Species’” International Business Times (17 October 2013). http://www.ibtimes.com/fossil-teeth-study-says-common-ancestor-neanderthals-humans-belongs-some-african-species-photo.

[2] Ian Sample, “Skull of Homo erectus throws story of human evolution into disarray” The Guardian (17 October 2013). http://www.theguardian.com/science/2013/oct/17/skull-homo-erectus-human-evolution.

[3] Ian Sample, “Skull of Homo erectus throws story of human evolution into disarray”.

Turkey’s EU Ambitions: When Recep met Angela

‘One of the issues turning heads in Turkey is its stalled EU membership bid. And tensions are running high – as Maria Finoshina reports (26 Oct 2013)’.

In September 1959, Ankara applied for associate membership of the then-European Economic Community (EEC). Four years later, the Ankara Agreement was signed to take Turkey into a customs union and finally full EEC membership. In 1967, the EEC was renamed the European Community (EC). On 14 April 1987Turkey applied for full EC membership. On 1 November 1993, the Treaty on European Union, commonly referred to as the Maastricht Treaty, came into force formally establishing the EU. A customs union finally came into effect under Tansu Çiller in 1996. At the Helsinki summit in December 1999, Turkey was finally given the status of a candidate country. And then, on 17 December 2004, the European Council decided to open accession negotiations with Turkey on 3 October 2005. And basically, that is still the state of Turkey-EU relations today. Negotiations are ongoing, stalled, and arduous. On 9 November 2010, Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan told the Reuters news agency that “We have been kept waiting at the gates of the EU for 50 years. We are still waiting and waiting and still in the negotiating process”. Erdoğan added that public opinion in Turkey was becoming “offended with the situation”, and that “[s]ince the game [of accession negotiations] started, new rules have been brought into the game”.

CIA Operative Lindsay Moran – Interview

‘Lindsay Moran wanted to be a spy even when she was a child, and later became a CIA operative after stints at Harvard University and living in Bulgaria. But after a while, it became clear that the agency is not what she expected. She is the author of, Blowing my Cover: My Life as a Spy, of which she’s said, “It’s not a threat to write a book about a dysfunctional intelligence organization. It’s a threat to have a dysfunctional intelligence organization, and that was my ultimate conclusion.” What happened in Lindsay Moran’s life as a CIA operative? What did she do, and what did she think of it? She speaks out to Cenk Uygur here on TYT Interviews (17 Oct 2013)’.

The U.S. and Saudi: Friends No More???

‘America and its best friend in the Gulf may be in for a difficult break-up. Saudi Arabia’s ruling family is upset with changes to US foreign policy. The worst case-scenario for Washington could be a disruption to oil supplies, however, White House officials insist the row is no big deal. But as RT’s Gayane Chichakyan explains, they’ve been wrong before (23 Oct 2013)’.

The special relationship between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia dates back to the days of FDR: “The relationship between the United States and Saudi Arabia has always been a marriage of convenience, not affection. As the result of a bargain struck between President Roosevelt and Saudi Arabia’s founding king in 1945, Americans bought Saudi Arabian oil, and the Saudis bought American planes, American weapons, American construction projects, and American know-how. In exchange, the Saudis got modernization, education, and security. The marriage of convenience suited both sides [until now, it seems]”.[1]

[1] “Today in History – King Abdulaziz and President Roosevelt Meeting “SUSRIS (14 February 2011). http://susris.com/2011/02/14/today-in-history-king-abdulaziz-and-president-roosevelt-meeting/.,

The War in Iraq: A Revisionist Approach to Facts and Figures???

‘Abby Martin calls attention to the gross underestimation of Iraq War casualties, and calls out the WHO over a report that blatantly covers up the connection between the use of depleted uranium by occupation forces and congenital birth defects among Iraqis (21 Oct 2013)’.

This revisionist approach to the war in Iraq is highly disturbing. The efforts by the WHO seem baffling in view of the ready availability of contradicting data in this internet age of ours. Last June, Rebecca Hellmich, writing for the media watch group FAIR, posited that “results from a new poll commissioned by the British media watchdog group MediaLens exposed a startling disconnect between the realities of the Iraq War and public perceptions of it: Namely, what the Iraqi death toll was. When Britons were asked “how many Iraqis, both combatants and civilians, do you think have died as a consequence of the war that began in Iraq in 2003?,” 44 percent of respondents estimated that  5,000 or fewer deaths had occurred. As Alex Thomson, a reporter for the UK’s Channel 4 (5/31/13), wrote: ‘That figure is so staggeringly, mind-blowingly at odds with reality as to leave a journalist who worked long and hard to bring home the reality of war speechless’. And polls done in the United States have offered similar conclusions. A Program on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA) poll (3/1/06-3/6/06) that asked how many Iraqi civilians had been killed since the beginning of the war yielded a median estimate of 5,000 deaths. And when respondents were asked in a different poll (AP/Ipsos, 2/12/07-2/15/07) to give their “best guess” about civilian deaths, 24 percent chose the option of 1,001 to 5,000 deaths. These answers are, of course, way off the mark. Estimates of the death toll range from about 174,000 (Iraq Body Count, 3/19/13) to over a million (Opinion Business Research, cited in Congressional Research Service, 10/7/10).  Even at the times of those U.S. polls, death estimates were far beyond the public’s estimates. Of course, these findings are disheartening because they reflect a very distorted public perception of the war. But they are indicative of an even bigger problem: corporate media’s inadequate coverage of the human costs of U.S.-led wars”.[1]  The human cost of war is hard to fathom and getting at the real numbers of the dead and wounded in Iraq may be impossible, still these recently released low figures do suggest a kind of whitewash operation.

[1] Rebecca Hellmich, “How Many Iraqis Died in the Iraq War?” FAIR Blog (07 June 2013). http://www.fair.org/blog/2013/06/07/how-many-iraqis-died-in-the-iraq-war/.