Two FBI Agents Killed in Virginia

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During an apparently training mission in the Virginia area 2 FBI agents were killed, at this point the government is refusing to release any details about the drill that they were involved in.

 

By Andrew Freeman

Two FBI agents were mysteriously killed during some sort of training exercise near Quantico military base in Virginia.  Unsurprisingly, the specific details of this drill, or how the deaths occurred has remained secret.

Press TV reported that:

FBI’s national press office issued a statement on Sunday, saying the two agents, who were members of Hostage Rescue Team, died in the accident which took place off the coast of Virginia Beach on Friday.

The two agents were identified as 41-year-old Christopher Lorek, and 40-year-old Stephen Shaw.  No further details of the accident were available immediately, but an FBI spokesman in Norfolk, Virginia said the deaths did not involve gunfire.

Other reports said the incident may have involved a helicopter. The Hostage Rescue Team, which is based at Quantico in northern Virginia, is part of the Critical Incident Response Group.

In a statement, FBI Director Robert S. Mueller said, “We mourn the loss of two brave and courageous men. Like all who serve on the Hostage Rescue Team, they accept the highest risk each and every day, when training and on operational missions, to keep our nation safe. Our hearts are with their wives, children, and other loved ones who feel their loss most deeply. And they will always be part of the FBI Family.”

“Special Agent Lorek, age 41, joined the FBI in 1996. He is survived by his wife and two daughters, ages 11 and 8. Special Agent Shaw, 40, joined the FBI in 2005 and is survived by his wife; a daughter, age 3; and a son, age 1,” the FBI said in a release

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Alabama University to Use Spy Drones Over Campus

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Posted by: Sammi Ibrahem, Sr

 

Officials at the University of Alabama in Huntsville unveil a new plan to use remote-controlled unmanned aerial vehicles to provide an “eye in the sky” for police to monitor students on campus.

 

Press TV

The plan was divulged at a press conference at the university on May 8. Gary Maddux, the lead research director of Systems Management and Productions Center, said the aircraft could help stop a mass murder on campus.

He cited the shooting at a Connecticut elementary school as the catalyst pushing the research into overdrive.

On December 14, 2012, twenty children and six adults were fatally shot by a gunman – who later killed himself – at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown in the US state of Connecticut. Earlier in the day, the assailant had killed his mother in another location.

Maddux said the technology used in the remote-controlled surveillance devices is not as advanced as controversial military drones, and they fly at a lower altitude.

He added the UAVs would be capable of using small spotlights, or infrared cameras in addition to video cameras.

Maddux did not explain how the surveillance aircraft will prevent criminal activity or improve campus police response time.

Thousands of unmanned aerial vehicles could be buzzing US airspace by 2015 because of the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) Modernization and Reform Act passed last year. The law requires the FAA to fully integrate unmanned aircraft into the National Airspace System by September 2015.

Additionally, it allows law enforcement agencies, including local police forces, to buy and use unmanned aircraft for evidence gathering and surveillance.
The law has however raised safety and privacy concerns among some lawmakers and advocacy groups.

Moreover, Washington uses assassination drones in several countries, claiming that they target “terrorists.” According to witnesses, however, the attacks have mostly led to massive civilian casualties.

US officials refuse to publicly discuss any details of the covert program and the death toll from drone strikes remains a mystery.

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Why Was A Sunday Times Report On US Government Ties To Al-Qaeda Chief Spiked?

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Posted by: Sammi Ibrahem, Sr

A whistleblower has revealed extraordinary information on the U.S. government’s support for international terrorist networks and organized crime.

 

Whistleblower Sibel EdmondsWhistleblower Sibel Edmonds

By Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed

The government has denied the allegations yet gone to extraordinary lengths to silence her. Her critics have derided her as a fabulist and fabricator. But now comes word that some of her most serious allegations were confirmed by a major European newspaper only to be squashed at the request of the U.S. government.

In a recent book Classified Woman, Sibel Edmonds, a former translator for the FBI, describes how the Pentagon, CIA and State Department maintained intimate ties to al-Qaeda militants as late as 2001. Her memoir, Classified Woman: The Sibel Edmonds Story, published last year, charged senior government officials with negligence, corruption and collaboration with al Qaeda in illegal arms smuggling and drugs trafficking in Central Asia.

In interviews with this author in early March, Edmonds claimed that Ayman al-Zawahiri, current head of al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden’s deputy at the time, had innumerable, regular meetings at the U.S. embassy in Baku, Azerbaijan, with U.S. military and intelligence officials between 1997 and 2001, as part of an operation known as ‘Gladio B’. Al-Zawahiri, she charged, as well as various members of the bin Laden family and other mujahideen, were transported on NATO planes to various parts of Central Asia and the Balkans to participate in Pentagon-backed destabilisation operations.

According to two Sunday Times journalists speaking on condition of anonymity, this and related revelations had been confirmed by senior Pentagon and MI6 officials as part of a four-part investigative series that were supposed to run in 2008. The Sunday Times journalists described how the story was inexplicably dropped under the pressure of undisclosed “interest groups”, which, they suggest, were associated with the U.S. State Department.

Shooting the Messenger
Described by the American Civil Liberties Union as the “most gagged person in the history of the United States of America,” Edmonds studied criminal justice, psychology and public policy at George Washington and George Mason universities. Two weeks after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, her fluency in Turkish, Farsi and Azerbaijani earned her an FBI contract at the Washington DC field office. She was tasked with translating highly classified intelligence from operations against terrorism suspects in and outside the U.S..

In the course of her work, Edmonds became privy to evidence that U.S. military and intelligence agencies were collaborating with Islamist militants affiliated with al-Qaeda, the very forces blamed for the 9/11 attacks – and that officials in the FBI were covering up the evidence. When Edmonds complained to her superiors, her family was threatened by one of the subjects of her complaint, and she was fired. Her accusations of espionage against her FBI colleagues were eventually investigated by the Justice Department’s Office of the Inspector General, which did not give details about the allegations as they remained classified.

Although no final conclusions about the espionage allegations were reached, the Justice Department concluded that many of Edmonds’ accusations “were supported, that the FBI did not take them seriously enough and that her allegations were, in fact, the most significant factor in the FBI’s decision to terminate her services.”

When she attempted to go public with her story in 2002, and again in 2004, the U.S. government silenced Edmonds by invoking a legal precedent known as “state secrets privilege” – a near limitless power to quash a lawsuit based solely on the government’s claim that evidence or testimony could divulge information that might undermine “national security.” Under this doctrine, the government sought to retroactively classify basic information concerning Edmonds’s case already in the public record, including, according to the New York Times, “what languages Ms. Edmonds translated, what types of cases she handled, and what employees she worked with, officials said. Even routine and widely disseminated information — like where she worked — is now classified.”

Although certainly not the first invocation of “state secrets privilege”, since the Edmonds case the precedent has been used repeatedly in the post-9/11 era under both the Bush and Obama administrations to shield the U.S. government from court scrutiny of rendition, torture, warrantless wiretapping, as well as the President’s claimed war powers.

Other intelligence experts agree that Edmonds had stumbled upon a criminal conspiracy at the heart of the American judicial system. In her memoirs, she recounts that FBI Special Agent Gilbert Graham, who also worked in the Washington field office on counter-intelligence operations, told her over a coffee how he “ran background checks on federal judges” in the “early nineties for the bureau… If we came up with shit – skeletons in their closets – the Justice Department kept it in their pantry to be used against them in the future or to get them to do what they want in certain cases – cases like yours.”A redacted version of Graham’s classified protected disclosure to the Justice Department regarding these allegations, released in 2007, refers to the FBI’s “abuse of authority” by conducting illegal wiretapping to obtain information on U.S. public officials.

Incubating Terror
Five years ago, Edmonds revealed to the Sunday Times that an unidentified senior U.S. State Department official was on the payroll of Turkish agents in Washington, passing on nuclear and military secrets. “He was aiding foreign operatives against U.S. interests by passing them highly classified information, not only from the State Department but also from the Pentagon, in exchange for money, position and political objectives”, Edmonds told the paper. She reported coming across this information when listening to suppressed phone calls recorded by FBI surveillance, marked by her colleague Melek Can Dickerson as “not pertinent”.

In the Sunday Times exposé, Edmonds described a parallel organization in Israel cooperating with the Turks on illegal weapons sales and technology transfers. Between them, Israel and Turkey operated a range of front companies incorporated in the U.S. with active “moles in sensitive military and nuclear institutions”, supported by U.S. officials, in order to sell secrets to the highest bidder. One of the buyers was Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) – which often used its Turkish allies, according to the Times, “as a conduit… because they were less likely to attract suspicion.”

The Pakistani operation was, the paper reported, “led by General Mahmoud Ahmad, then the ISI chief” from 1999 to 2001, when the agency helped train, supply and coordinate the Afghan Taliban and gave sanctuary to their Arab allies brought together in the coalition named al-Qaeda. Ahmad, as the Times noted, “was accused [by the FBI] of sanctioning a $100,000 wire payment to Mohammed Atta, one of the 9/11 hijackers, immediately before the attacks.”

According to Indian intelligence officials, they had assisted the FBI in “tracing and establishing” the financial trail between the General and the chief hijacker. The discovery was, they allege, the real reason behind the General’s sudden retirement in October 2001. The Pakistani daily, The News, reported on 10th September 2001 that the ISI chief held several “mysterious meetings at the Pentagon and National Security Council” that week, including with CIA director George Tenet.

In an interview with this author in March, Edmonds raised the question of whether U.S. officials’ liaisons with an espionage network overseen by Ahmad, and the FBI’s suppression of related intelligence, played a role in facilitating the attacks.

“Following 9/11, a number of the foreign operatives were taken in for questioning by the FBI on suspicion that they knew about or somehow aided the attacks”, reported the Sunday Times. The paper related that according to Edmonds, the senior State Department official received a call from a foreign agent under FBI surveillance asking for help to “get them out of the U.S. because we can’t afford for them to spill the beans.” The official promised “he would ‘take care of it’.”

Edmonds told this author that high-level corruption compromised the ability of the U.S. intelligence community to pursue ongoing investigations of those planning the 9/11 attacks. “It was precisely those militants that were incubated by some of America’s key allies”, she said. Corruption helped guarantee Congressional silence when that incubation strategy backfired in the form of 9/11. “Both Republican and Democratic representatives in the House and Senate came up in FBI counterintelligence investigations for taking bribes from foreign agents”, she said.

Al-Qaeda: Enemy or Asset?
In her interview, Edmonds insisted that after its initial exposé, the Times‘ investigation had gone beyond such previous revelations, and was preparing to disclose her most startling accusations. Among these, Edmonds described how the CIA and the Pentagon had been running a series of covert operations supporting Islamist militant networks linked to Osama bin Laden right up to 9/11, in Central Asia, the Balkans and the Caucasus.

While it is widely recognised that the CIA sponsored bin Laden’s networks in Afghanistan during the Cold War, U.S. government officials deny any such ties existed. Others claim these ties were real, but were severed after the Soviet Union collapsed in 1989.

But according to Edmonds, this narrative is false. “Not just bin Laden, but several senior ‘bin Ladens’ were transported by U.S. intelligence back and forth to the region in the late 1990s through to 2001″, she told this author, “including Ayman al-Zawahiri” – Osama bin Laden’s right-hand-man who has taken over as al-Qaeda’s top leader.

“In the late 1990s, all the way up to 9/11, al-Zawahiri and other mujahideen operatives were meeting regularly with senior U.S. officials in the U.S. embassy in Baku to plan the Pentagon’s Balkan operations with the mujahideen,” said Edmonds. “We had support for these operations from Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, but the U.S. oversaw and directed them. They were being run from a secret section of the Pentagon with its own office”.

American-Conservative-Nov-2009-Sibel-Edmonds-Ceasefire-MagazineEdmonds clarified, “the FBI counterintelligence investigation which was tracking these targets, along with their links to U.S. officials, was known as ‘Gladio B’, and was kickstarted in 1997. It so happens that Major Douglas Dickerson” – the husband of her FBI co-worker Melek whom she accused of espionage – “specifically directed the Pentagon’s ‘Gladio’ operations in Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan at this time.”

In testimony under oath, Edmonds has previously confirmed that Major Doug Dickerson worked for the Pentagon’s Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) under the weapons procurement logistics division on Turkey and Central Asia, and with the Office of Special Plans (OSP) overseeing policy in Central Asia.

Gladio B
Edmonds said that the Pentagon operations with Islamists were an “extension” of an original ‘Gladio’ programme uncovered in the 1970s in Italy, part of an EU-wide NATO covert operation that began as early as the 1940s. As Swiss historian Dr. Daniele Ganser records in his seminal book, NATO’s Secret Armies, an official Italian parliamentary inquiry confirmed that British MI6 and the CIA had established a network of secret “stay-behind” paramilitary armies, staffed by fascist and Nazi collaborators. The covert armies carried out terrorist attacks throughout Western Europe, officially blamed on Communists in what Italian military intelligence called the ‘strategy of tension’.

“You had to attack civilians, the people, women, children, innocent people, unknown people far removed from any political game” explained Gladio operative Vincenzo Vinciguerra during his trial in 1984. “The reason was quite simple. They were supposed to force these people… to turn to the State to ask for greater security.”

While the reality of Gladio’s existence in Europe is a matter of historical record, Edmonds contended the same strategy was adopted by the Pentagon in the 1990s in a new theatre of operations, namely, Asia. “Instead of using neo-Nazis, they used mujahideen working under various bin Ladens, as well as al-Zawahiri”, she said.

The last publicly known Gladio meeting occurred in NATO’s Allied Clandestine Committee (ACC) in Brussels in 1990. While Italy was a focal point for the older European operations, Edmonds said that Turkey and Azerbaijan served as the main conduits for a completely new, different set of operations in Asia using veterans of the anti-Soviet campaign in Afghanistan, the so-called “Afghan Arabs” that had been trained by al-Qaeda.

These new Pentagon-led operations were codenamed ‘Gladio B’ by FBI counterintelligence: “In 1997, NATO asked [Egyptian President] Hosni Mubarak to release from prison Islamist militants affiliated to Ayman al-Zawahiri [whose role in the assassination of Anwar Sadat led to Mubarak’s ascension]. They were flown under U.S. orders to Turkey for [training and use in] operations by the Pentagon”, she said.

Edmonds’ allegations find some independent corroboration in the public record. The Wall Street Journal refers to a nebulous agreement between Mubarak and “the operational wing of Egyptian Islamic Jihad, which was then headed by Ayman al-Zawahiri… Many of that group’s fighters embraced a cease-fire with the government of former President Hosni Mubarak in 1997.”

Youssef Bodansky, former Director of the Congressional Task Force on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare, cited U.S. intelligence sources in an article for Defense and Foreign Affairs: Strategic Policy, confirming “discussions between the Egyptian terrorist leader Dr. Ayman al-Zawahiri and an Arab-American known to have been both an emissary of the CIA and the U.S. Government.” He referred to an “offer” made to al-Zawahiri in November 1997 on behalf of U.S. intelligence, granting his Islamists a free hand in Egypt as long as they lent support to U.S. forces in the Balkans. In 1998, Al Zawahiri’s brother, Muhammed, led an elite unit of the Kosovo Liberation Army against Serbs during the Kosovo conflict – he reportedly had direct contact with NATO leadership.

“This is why”, Edmonds continued in her interview, “even though the FBI routinely monitored the communications of the diplomatic arms of all countries, only four countries were exempt from this protocol – the UK, Turkey, Azerbaijan, and Belgium – the seat of NATO. No other country – not even allies like Israel or Saudi Arabia, were exempt. This is because these four countries were integral to the Pentagon’s so-called Gladio B operations.”

Edmonds did not speculate on the objectives of the Pentagon’s ‘Gladio B’ operations, but highlighted the following possibilities: projecting U.S. power in the former Soviet sphere of influence to access previously untapped strategic energy and mineral reserves for U.S. and European companies; pushing back Russian and Chinese power; and expanding the scope of lucrative criminal activities, particularly illegal arms and drugs trafficking.

Terrorism finance expert Loretta Napoleoni estimates the total value of this criminal economy to be about $1.5 trillion annually, the bulk of which “flows into Western economies, where it gets recycled in the U.S. and in Europe” as a “vital element of the cash flow of these economies.”

It is no coincidence then that the opium trade, Edmonds told this author, has grown rapidly under the tutelage of NATO in Afghanistan: “I know for a fact that NATO planes routinely shipped heroin to Belgium, where they then made their way into Europe and to the UK. They also shipped heroin to distribution centres in Chicago and New Jersey. FBI counterintelligence and DEA (Drug Enforcement Agency) operations had acquired evidence of this drug trafficking in its surveillance of a wide range of targets, including senior officials in the Pentagon, CIA and State Department. As part of this surveillance, the role of the Dickersons – with the support of these senior U.S. officials – in facilitating drug-trafficking, came up. It was clear from this evidence that the whole funnel of drugs, money and terror in Central Asia was directed by these officials.”

The evidence for this funnel, according to Edmonds, remains classified in the form of FBI counterintelligence surveillance records she was asked to translate. Although this alleged evidence has never made it to court due to the U.S. government’s exertion of ‘state secret privilege’, she was able to testify in detail concerning her allegations, including naming names, in 2009.

Censorship
In recent interviews, two Sunday Times journalists confirmed to this author that the newspaper’s investigation based on Sibel Edmonds’ revelations was to break much of the details into the open.

“We’d spoken to several current and active Pentagon officials confirming the existence of U.S. operations sponsoring mujahideen networks in Central Asia from the 1990s to 2001,” said one Sunday Times source. “Those mujahideen networks were intertwined with a whole range of criminal enterprises, including drugs and guns. The Pentagon officials corroborated Edmonds’ allegations against specific U.S. officials, and I’d also interviewed an MI6 officer who confirmed that the U.S. was running these operations sponsoring mujahideen in that period.”

But according to Edmonds, citing the investigative team at the paper, the last two articles in the series were spiked under U.S. State Department pressure. She recalled being told at the time by journalists leading the Sunday Times investigation that the newspaper’s editor had decided to squash the story after receiving calls from officials at the U.S. embassy in London.

A journalist with the Sunday Times‘ investigative unit told this author he had interviewed former Special Agent in Charge, Dennis Saccher, who had moved to the FBI’s Colorado office. Saccher reportedly confirmed the veracity of Edmonds’ allegations of espionage, telling him that Edmonds’ story “should have been front page news” because it was “a scandal bigger than Watergate.” The same journalist confirmed that after interviewing Saccher at his home, the newspaper was contacted by the U.S. State Department. “The U.S. embassy in London called the editor and tried to ward him off. We were told that we weren’t permitted to approach Saccher or any other active FBI agents directly, but could only go through the FBI’s press office – that if we tried to speak to Saccher or anyone else employed by the FBI directly, that would be illegal. Of course, it isn’t, but that’s what we were told. I think this was a veiled threat.”

Saccher’s comments to the journalist never made it to press.

A lead reporter on the series at the Sunday Times told this author that the investigation based on Edmonds’ information was supposed to have four parts, but was inexplicably dropped. “The story was pulled half-way, suddenly, without any warning”, the journalist said. “I wasn’t party to the editorial decision to drop the story, but there was a belief in the office amongst several journalists who were part of the Insight investigative unit that the decision was made under pressure from the U.S. State Department, because the story might cause a diplomatic incident.”

Although the journalist was unaware of where this belief came from – and was not informed of the U.S. embassy’s contact with the paper’s editor which the other journalist was privy to – he acknowledged that self-censorship influenced by unspecified “interest groups” was a possible explanation. “The way the story was dropped was unusual, but the belief amongst my colleagues this happened under political pressure is plausible.” He cryptically described an “editorial mechanism, linked to the paper but not formally part of it, which could however exert control on stories when necessary, linked to certain interests.” When asked which interests, the journalist said, “I can’t say. I can’t talk about that.”

Edmonds described how, due to the U.S. government’s efforts to silence her, she had no option left except to write her story down. The resultant book, Classified Woman, had to be submitted to an FBI panel for review. By law, the bureau was required to make a decision on what could be disclosed or redacted within 30 days.

Instead, about a year later, Edmonds’ lawyer received a letter from the FBI informing them that the agency was still reviewing the book, and prohibiting her from publishing it: “The matters Ms. Edmonds writes about involve many equities, some of which may implicate information that is classified… Approval of the manuscripts by the FBI will include incorporation of all changes required by the FBI. Until then, Ms. Edmonds does not have approval to publish her manuscripts which includes showing them to editors, literary agents, publishers, reviewers, or anyone else. At this point, Ms. Edmonds remains obligated not to disclose or publish the manuscript in any manner.”

The block was another example, Edmonds said, “of the abuse of ‘national security’ to conceal evidence of criminality.” She said that this forced her to release the book herself in March 2012, as no publisher would risk taking it on.

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Marching in Chicago: Resisting Rahm Emanuel’s Neoliberal Savagery

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By Henry A. Giroux

Protesters march in the Loop March 27, 2013 during a rally to protest the proposed closing of 54 Chicago public schools.Protesters march in the Loop March 27, 2013 during a rally to protest the proposed closing of 54 Chicago public schools. (Photo: WBEZ/Robin Amer)

Across the globe, predatory capitalism spreads its gospel of power, greed, commodification, gentrification and inequality.  Through the combined forces of a market driven ideology, policy and mode of governance, the apostles of free-market capitalism are doing their best to dismantle historically guaranteed social provisions provided by the welfare state, define the accumulation of capital as the only obligation of democracy, increase the role of corporate money in politics, wage an assault on unions, expand the military-security state, increase inequalities in wealth and income, foster the erosion of civil liberties and undercut public faith in the defining institutions of democracy.1.

As market mentalities and moralities tighten their grip on all aspects of society, democratic institutions and public spheres are being downsized, if not altogether disappearing. As these institutions vanish – from public schools to health-care centers – there is also a serious erosion of the discourses of community, justice, equality, public values and the common good. One does not have to look too far to see what happens in America’s neoliberal educational culture to see how ruthlessly the inequality of wealth, income and power bears down on those young people and brave teachers who are struggling every day to save the schools, unions and modes of pedagogy that offer hope at a time when schools have become just another commodity, students are reduced to clients or disposable populations, and teachers and their unions are demonized.

Read more articles by Henry A. Giroux and other scholars at Truthout’s Public Intellectual Project.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s current attempt to close down 54 public schools largely inhabited by poor minorities is one more example of a savage, racist neoliberal system at work that uses the politics of austerity and consolidation to further disenfranchise the unskilled young of the inner city. The hidden curriculum in this instance is not so invisible. Closing schools will result in massive layoffs, weakening the teachers unions. It will free up land that can be gentrified to attract middle-class voters, and it will once again prove that poor minority students, regardless of the hardships, if not danger, they will face as a result of such closings, are viewed as disposable – human waste to be relegated to the zones of terminal exclusion.

Not only are many teachers and parents concerned about displacing thousands of students to schools that do not offer any hope of educational improvement, but they are also concerned about the safety of the displaced children, many of whom “will have to walk through violent neighborhoods and go to school with other students who are considered enemies.” 2. This is not simply misguided policy, it is a racist script that makes clear that poor black youth are disposable and that their safety is irrelevant.  How else to explain the mayor’s plan to produce a Safe Passage Plan in which firefighters would be asked to patrol the new routes, even though they have made it clear that they are not trained for this type of special duty. That many of these children are poor black children trapped in under-resourced schools appears irrelevant to a mayor who takes his lead from politicians such as Barack Obama and Arnie Duncan, two educators who have simply reproduced the Bush educational reform playbook, i.e., more testing, demonize teachers, weaken unions, advocate for choice and charter schools, and turn public schools over to corporate hedge-fund managers and billionaires such as Bill Gates. Emanuel’s passionate zeal to downsize schools in impoverished black neighborhoods is matched only by his misdirected enthusiasm to lay out $195 million “on a basketball arena for DePaul University, a private Chicago university.” 3.

Emanuel’s policies are symptomatic of a much larger war against teachers, public goods and the social contract.  We increasingly live in societies based on the vocabulary of  “choice” and a denial of reality – a denial of massive inequality, social disparities, the irresponsible concentration of power in relatively few hands and a growing machinery of social death and culture of cruelty. 4. As power becomes global and is removed from local and nation-based politics, more and more individuals and groups are being defined by a free-floating class of ultra-rich and corporate power brokers as disposable, redundant, and irrelevant.

Consequently, there are a growing number of people, especially young people, who increasingly inhabit zones of hardship, suffering and terminal exclusion.  Power has lost its moorings in democratic institutions and removes itself from any sense of social, civic and political responsibilities. Mayor Emanuel, along with his neoliberal political allies, occupies the dead zone of capitalism – a zone marked by a ruthless indifference to the suffering of others and self-righteous coldness that makes human beings superfluous and unwanted. At the same time, this zone of capital accumulation and dispossession destroys those public spheres and collective structures such as public and higher education that are capable of resisting the logic of the pure market and the anti-democratic pressures it imposes on American society. Peter Brogan sums it up well in his analysis of the forces behind the current attacks on teachers and public education. He writes that the neoliberal agenda behind such attacks has:

been outlined in numerous planning documents from different city administrations, some of which have been drafted by the Commercial Club and have at the center an urban development strategy based on revitalizing the downtown core and prioritizing the financial, real estate and tourist sectors of the economy while at the same time demolishing public housing and schools in order to gentrify historically African American and Latino working class neighborhoods. These transformations are deeply related to the larger structural crisis of capitalism. The background to this is the crisis of profitability that comes to a head in the early 1970s, and the ushering in a period of capitalist regulation known as neoliberalism, marked by savage attacks on unions, workers and working class living standards. Reconstructing the built environment of the city has been absolutely central to all of these changes. This is one attempt to deal with the structural crisis of capitalism at this critical juncture. And destroying unions, and teachers’ unions in particular, have been key to that attempt. 5.

This is all the more reason for educators and others to address important social issues and to defend public education as democratic public sphere. And it is all the more reason to defend the Chicago Public Teachers Union in its struggle with Emanuel because this battle is not a local issue. On the contrary, it is a national issue that will set the stage for the future of American public education, which is on its deathbed.  The struggle in Chicago must be understood as part of a larger set of market-driven policies in which everything is privatized, transformed into “spectacular spaces of consumption,” and subject to the vicissitudes of the military-security state. 6. One consequence is the emergence of what the late Tony Judt called an “eviscerated society” – “one that is stripped of the thick mesh of mutual obligations and social responsibilities to be found in” any viable democracy. 7. This grim reality represents a failure in the power of the civic imagination, political will, and open democracy. 8. It is also part of a politics that strips the social of any democratic ideals. It is also the politics that drives Emanuel’s policies in Chicago around education and a host of other issues.

In Emanuel’s ideological script, the common good is viewed as either a source of profits or pathology.  The market is the only template that matters in shaping all aspects of society, and freedom is reduced to the freedom to shop, indulge one’s self-interests and willingly support a society in which market values trump democratic values. According to Emanuel and his ilk, the arch enemies of freedom are the welfare state, unions and public service workers such a public school teachers. And as was evident in the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombings, law and order is the new language for mobilizing shared fears rather than shared responsibilities, just as war becomes the all-embracing organizing principle for developing a market-driven society and economy. 9.

Emanuel supports a notion of educational reform in which pedagogy is often treated simply as a set of strategies and skills to use in order to teach prespecified subject matter. In this context, pedagogy becomes synonymous with teaching as a technique or the practice of a craft-like skill. Even worse, pedagogy becomes a sterile method for developing skills aimed at raising test scores. The Chicago public school teachers must reject this definition of teaching and educational reform, along with its endless slavish imitations, even when they are claimed as part of an “educational reform” project.  In opposition to the instrumental reduction of pedagogy to a method – which has no language for relating the self to public life, social responsibility or the demands of citizenship – progressive educators need to argue for modes of critical pedagogy that illuminate the relationships among knowledge, authority and power.10. For instance, any viable reform movement must raise questions regarding who has control over the conditions for the production of knowledge. Is the production of knowledge and curricula in the hands of teachers, textbook companies, corporate interests, or other forces?

Central to any viable notion that what makes a pedagogy critical is, in part, the recognition that pedagogy is always a deliberate attempt on the part of educators to influence how and what knowledges and subjectivities are produced within particular sets of social relations. Of crucial importance is the question of authority and how it is legitimated, used and exercised.  When teachers are stripped of authority, pedagogy becomes lifeless, methodical and militarized, reduced to low-level skills and modes of standardization that debase creativity and cripple the imaginative capacities of both teachers and students. Part of what the Chicago teachers are doing in their protests against the school closings is drawing attention to the ways in which authority, knowledge, power, desire and experience are produced under specific basic conditions of learning, and in doing so, they are shedding light on educational reform movements in which teaching is stripped of its sense of accountability to parents, place, and the complex dynamic of history and communities. Under such circumstances, the Chicago teachers are refusing educational policies in which matters of authority and pedagogy are removed from matters of values, norms and power.

Emanuel’s neoliberal educational philosophy has no understanding of what actually happens in classrooms and other educational settings because it is incapable of raising questions.

Nor does it acknowledge that pedagogy is simultaneously about the knowledge and practices teachers and students might engage in together, along with the values, social relations and visions such practices legitimate. What scares Emanuel and other neoliberal reformers is that pedagogy is a moral and political practice that is always implicated in power relations because it offers particular versions and visions of civic life, community, the future, and how we might construct representations of ourselves, others, and our physical and social environment.

At the heart of the Chicago demonstrations against Emanuel’s polices are a series of broader questions that situate the right-wing reform movement in a broader set of market-driven politics. For instance, what kind of society allows economic injustice and massive inequality to run wild in a society allowing drastic cuts in education and public services? Why are more police being put in schools just as more prisons are being built in the United States? What does it mean when students face not just tuition hikes but a lifetime of financial debt while governments in Canada, Chile and the United States spend trillions on weapons of death and needless wars? What kind of education does it take, both in and out of schools, to recognize the emergence of various economic, political, cultural and social forces that point to the dissolution of democracy and the possible emergence of a new kind of authoritarian state?

In an age of irresponsible privatization, unchecked individualism, celebrity culture, unfettered consumerism and a massive flight from moral responsibility, it has become more and more difficult to acknowledge that educators and other cultural workers have an enormous responsibility in opposing the current threat to the planet and everyday life by bringing democratic political culture back to life. Lacking a self-consciously democratic political focus or project, teachers are often reduced either to the role of a technician or functionary engaged in formalistic rituals, unconcerned with the disturbing and urgent problems that confront the larger society or the consequences of one’s pedagogical practices and research undertakings.

In opposition to this model, with its claims to, and conceit of, political neutrality, it is crucial that teachers in Chicago and cities across the United States combine the mutually interdependent roles of critical educator and active citizen. This requires finding ways to connect the practice of classroom teaching with the operations of power in the larger society and to provide the conditions for students to view themselves as critical agents capable of making those who exercise authority and power answerable for their actions. The role of a critical education is not to train students solely for jobs, but also to educate them to question critically the institutions, policies and values that shape their lives, relationships to others, and myriad connections to the larger world. Equally important is the task of teacher unions all over America to forge alliances with a range of social movements so that the struggle for education is connected to the struggle for social provisions, a new understanding of politics, and the development of mass movements that can shut down the savagery of a neoliberal public pedagogy and economic machine that is the enemy of any viable notion of democracy.

Education is never innocent, and if it is to be understood and problematized as a form of academic labor, educators must resist all calls to depoliticize pedagogy through appeals to either scientific objectivity or ideological dogmatism. Educational dogmatism now takes the form of blatant attacks on unions, the dissolution of public schools largely inhabited by poor minority students, the imposition of disciplinary apparatuses that criminalize the behavior of low-income and poor students of color, and the development of curricula that deadens the mind and soul through a narrow pedagogy of test-taking. What is happening in Chicago and other cities in the United States is the production of pedagogy of repression. This suggests the need for educators to rethink the purpose and meaning of education, the crucial importance of pedagogy in a democracy, and the collective struggles that will have to be waged against neoliberal racism and its attempts to dismantle the power of teachers to gain control over the conditions of their labor.

Education must be reclaimed as central to any viable notion of citizenship, civic responsibility and democracy itself. What Rahm Emmanuel and his ilk fear is the potential of public education to enable students to think critically, hold power accountable and imagine education as a form of educated hope. Education and pedagogy cannot be reduced to the dictates of an audit culture with its rendering of critical thought nil and void just as it elevates a mindless pedagogy of test-taking as the ultimate pedagogical practice and the final arbiter over what constitutes quality teaching, learning and what it means to be educated.

What is lost in this pedagogical practice, is a pedagogy that provides the conditions for students to come to grips with their own power, master the best histories and legacies of education available, learn to think critically and be willing to hold authority accountable – and most importantly, the dangerous notion that changing attitudes is not enough and that students should also be pressed to exercise a fearsome form of social responsibility as engaged citizens willing to struggle for social, economic and political justice. This is the last approach to education that the current mayor of Chicago wants to see materialize in the cities’ public schools.

What Chicago public schools teachers are fighting for in their three days of demonstrations is the right to define teaching as a performative practice that is not only about teaching young people to be literate and knowledgeable but also to embrace the mutually informing modalities of power and knowledge so as to engage education as an act of intervention in the world, one that moves beyond simple matters of critique and understanding.  At the essence of the brave struggles waged by the Chicago public school teachers is the recognition that any viable approach to pedagogy must acknowledge the crucial nature of the labor conditions necessary for teacher autonomy, cooperation, decent working conditions, safety of the children, and the relations of power necessary to give teachers and students the capacity to restage power in productive ways – ways that point to self-development, self-determination and social agency.

What these three days of demonstrations must address is that without power over the conditions of their labor, teachers become pawns in a neoliberal politics in which they are deskilled, reduced to security guards, and work under conditions that transform education into a form of training.  High-stakes testing and its corresponding tactic of promoting cheating among administrators, putting into play the most degrading forms of competition, and its killing of the civic imagination is both a debased form of instrumental rationality and a reification of method – put another way, a kind of methodological madness.

What needs to be addressed is that pedagogy is more than a method or its antithesis, a free-wheeling conversation between students and teachers. On the contrary, it is precisely by recognizing that teaching is always directive – that is, an act of intervention inextricably mediated through particular forms of authority that teachers can offer students – for whatever use they wish to make of them – a variety of analytic tools, diverse historical traditions and a wide range of knowledge. At issue here is a pedagogical practice that must provide the conditions for students to learn and narrate themselves and for teachers to be learners attentive to the histories, knowledge and experiences that students bring to the classroom and any other sphere of learning. In this instance, pedagogy should enable students to learn how to govern rather than be governed.

The war being waged against Chicago Public schools, teachers and students is the product of a corporate ideology and pedagogy that numbs the mind and the soul, emphasizing repressive modes of learning that promote winning at all costs, learning how not to question authority, and disdaining the hard work of learning how to be thoughtful, critical, and attentive to the power relations that shape everyday life and the larger world. As learning is privatized, depoliticized, and reduced to teaching students how to be good consumers, any viable notions of the social, public values, citizenship and democracy wither and die.

What role might public school teachers take in light of poisonous assaults waged on public schools by the forces of neoliberalism? In the most immediate sense, they can raise their collective voices against the influence of corporations that are flooding societies with a culture of war, consumerism, commercialism and privatization. They can show how this culture of commodified cruelty and violence is only one part of a broader and all-embracing militarized culture of war, the arms industry, and a Darwinian survival-of the-fittest ethic that increasingly disconnects schools from public values, the common good and democracy itself.

They can bring all of their intellectual and collective resources together to critique and dismantle the imposition of high-stakes testing and other commercially driven modes of accountability on schools. They can mobilize young people and others to defend education as a public good by advocating for policies that invest in schools rather than in the military-industrial complex and its massive and expensive weapons of death, for instance, the US government’s investment in procuring a number of F35 jets that cost $137 million each. They can educate young people and a larger public to fight against putting police in schools, modeling schools after prisons, and implementing zero tolerance policies that largely punish poor minority children.

Instead of investing in schools, children, health care, jobs for young people, and much needed infrastructures, neoliberal societies celebrate militarism, hyper-masculinity, extreme competition, and a survival of the fittest ethic while exhibiting disdain for any form of shared bonds, dependency and compassion for others. Advocates of neoliberalism have eliminated social provisions, destroyed pension plans, eliminated health-care benefits, allowed inequality to run wild, and have done so in order to safeguard and expand the assets of the rich and powerful.  As social bonds and the institutions that support them disappear from such societies, so do the formative cultures that make civic education, critical literacy, and cultures of questioning possible. Too many school systems operate within disciplinary apparatuses that turn public education into either an extension of the prison-industrial complex or the culture of the mall.

When not being arrested for trivial rule violations, students are subjected to walls, buses, and bathrooms that become giant advertisements for consumer products, many of which are detrimental to the health of students, contributing to the obesity crisis in America. Increasingly, even curricula are organized to reflect the sound of the cash register, hawking products for students to buy and promoting the interests of corporations that celebrate fossil fuels as an energy source, sugar-filled drinks, and a Disney-like view of the world. And of course, this commodification of public education is migrating to higher education with the speed of light. University student centers are being modeled after department stores, complete with an endless array of vendors trying to sell credit cards to a generation already swimming in debt. University faculty members are valued more for their ability to secure grants than for their scholarship.

What is encouraging about the growing opposition of the Chicago teachers to the poisonous policies, pedagogies, and shameless racism of Mayor Rahm Emanuel is their willingness, under the inspiring educational leadership of Karen Lewis, the head of the Chicago Teachers Union, to develop a discourse of both critique and possibility. This has meant developing discourses and pedagogical practices that connect reading the word with reading the world and doing so in ways that enhance the capacities of young people as critical agents and engaged citizens. In taking up this project, Lewis and others have struggled to create the conditions that give students the opportunity to become critical and engaged citizens who have the knowledge and courage to struggle in order to make desolation and cynicism unconvincing and hope practical. Hope in this instance is educational, removed from the fantasy of idealism, unaware of the constraints facing the dream of a democratic society. Educated hope is not a call to overlook the difficult conditions that shape both schools and the larger social order. On the contrary, it is the precondition for providing those languages, values, relations of power and collective struggles that point the way to a more democratic and just world.

Educated hope provides the basis for dignifying the labor of teachers; it offers up critical knowledge linked to democratic social change; it affirms shared responsibilities; and it encourages teachers and students to recognize justice, equality and social responsibility as fundamental dimensions of learning.  Such hope offers the possibility of thinking beyond the given. As difficult as this task may seem to educators, if not to a larger public, it is a struggle worth waging.

It is important to note that democracy begins to fail and political life becomes impoverished in the absence of those vital public spheres such as public and higher education in which civic values, public scholarship and social engagement allow for a more imaginative grasp of a future that takes seriously the demands of justice, equity and civic courage.  Democracy should be a way of thinking about education, one that thrives on connecting equity to excellence, learning to ethics, and agency to the imperatives of social responsibility and the public good. 11. The right-wing governors, corporate-affiliated politicians, and the shameless hedge-fund managers and billionaires are waging a war in order to colonize public education and destroy the dignity of teachers, students and critical learning.  The Chicago teachers refuse to believe that the antidemocratic market-driven forces attacking American public schools are irreversible, part of a new common sense that is beyond critical inquiry and dissent.

The three days of demonstrations hold a wider meaning for all Americans. Not only do they demonstrate that the future is still open, but that the time has come through a show of collective struggle and moral and political outrage that public education is crucial to invigorating and fortifying a new era of civic imagination, a renewed sense of social agency and an impassioned, collective political will. Public school teachers are one of the few remaining forces left in the land of corrupt bankers, hedge-fund managers and right-wing politicians who can imagine the promise of democracy and are willing to fight for it. The struggle being waged by the Chicago Public School teachers is part and parcel of a battle for the essence of education, if not democracy itself.


 1.

See, for example, David Harvey, The New Imperialism, (New York: Oxford University Press, 2003); David Harvey, A Brief History of Neoliberalism (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005); Wendy Brown, Edgework  (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2005); Henry A. Giroux, Against the Terror of Neoliberalism(Boulder: Paradigm Publishers, 2008); Manfred B. Steger and Ravi K. Roy,Neoliberalism: A Very Short Introduction, (Oxford University Press, 2010).

 2.

Valerie Strauss, “Three Days of Marches in chicago to Protest School Closings,” The Washington Post (May 17, 2013).

  3.

Travis Waldron, “Why Is Chicago Devoting $125 Million To Build A Basketball Arena For A Private University?,” ThinkProgress (May 15, 2013).

  4.

See, for instance, on the rise of the racist punishing state, Michelle Alexander, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness (New York: The New Press, 2010); on the severe costs of massive inequality, Joseph E. Stiglitz, The Price of Inequality: How Today Divided Society Endangers Our Future (New York: Norton, 2012); on the turning of public schools into prisons, see Annette Fuentes,Lockdown High: When the Schoolhouse Becomes a Jailhouse (New York: Verso, 2011).

 5.

Peter Brogan, “What’s Behind the Attack on Teachers and Public Education?” Solidarity (September 14, 2012).  

 6.

Quoted in Michael L. Silk  and David L. Andrews. “(Re)Presenting Baltimore: Place, Policy, Politics, and Cultural Pedagogy.” Review of Education, Pedagogy, and Cultural Studies 33 (2011), p. 436.

 7.

Terry Eagleton, “Reappraisals: What is the worth of social democracy?” Harper’s Magazine, (October 2010), p. 78.  

 8.

Alex Honneth, Pathologies of Reason (New York: Columbia University Press, 2009), p. 188.

 9.

For an excellent analysis of contemporary forms of neoliberalism, Stuart Hall, “The Neo-Liberal Revolution,” Cultural Studies, Vol. 25, No. 6, (November 2011, pp. 705-728; see also Harvey, A Brief History of Neoliberalism; Giroux, Against the Terror of Neoliberalism.

 10.

For examples of this tradition, see Maria Nikolakaki, ed. Critical Pedagogy in the Dark Ages: Challenges and Possibilities, (New York: Peter Lang, 2012); Henry A. Giroux, On Critical Pedagogy (New York: Continuum, 2011).

 11.

See, Henry A. Giroux, The Education Deficit and the War on Youth (New York: Monthly Review Press, 2013).

 

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America’s Youth Unemployment Problem Could Cost $18 Billion Over The Next Decade: Analysis

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The Huffington Post

By 

America has a youth unemployment problem, and it’s not just the kids who are suffering.

The nation is poised to lose $18 billion in wages over the next decade due to high youth unemployment, according to a Bloomberg Brief from Bloomberg Senior Economist Joseph Brusuelas.

Brusuelas estimated that about 1.3 million 16- to 24-year-olds have been unemployed for six months or more. He came to the $18 billion figure using earlier research, which found six months of joblessness at age 22 results in a wage that’s 8 percent lower at age 23, 6 percent lower at 26 and 4 percent lower at 30. Still, the problem of lost wages due to unemployment could actually be much worse, Brusuelas told The Huffington Post.

“It’s a conservative estimate,” he said. “That really underestimates the true nature of the problem. My gut tells me that it’s much larger.”

Indeed, Brusuelas wrote in the note that if all of America’s 3.2 million unemployed youth stay jobless for an extended period, the U.S. will lose $44 billion over the next decade.

(SCROLL DOWN TO SEE CHARTS DEPICTING THE YOUTH UNEMPLOYMENT PROBLEM)

Though Americans of all ages suffered as a result of the Great Recession, the downturn dealt a particularly harsh blow to young people, as employers opted for suddenly plentiful workers with more experience. As a result, nearly half of the nation’s unemployed are under 34 years old, according to an April report from public policy organization Demos.

The fast food industry illustrates one particularly stark example of the downturn’s toll on young people’s job prospects. Ten years ago, one-quarter of fast food jobs went to teens. Now, that total is just 16 percent, according to a recent article from NBC News.

Additionally, many of the nation’s young people who are employed are working jobs that they’re overqualified for. More than 40 percent of college graduates in the last two years are working in jobs that don’t require a degree, according to a recent report from Accenture cited by CNNMoney.

But those graduates are still paying for that college degree, and their debt could also be holding back the economy. The level of student debt in America is so high that it could hurt the economic recovery, according to an April report from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

Check out these charts depicting the youth unemployment problem, provided by Bloomberg’s Brusuelas.

youth uenmployment 1

youth unemployment 2

youth unemployment 3

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Congress set to tighten economic noose on Iran

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Two widely supported bills would expand sanctions beyond  financial and energy sectors, and urge support for IsraHell in any confrontation with Tehran

Times of Israel

The US House and Senate are set to advance two bills that would significantly expand US sanctions on Iran beyond the financial and energy sectors and offer support for Israel in case of a confrontation with Tehran.

A House bill, H.R. 850, would grant the president the ability to sanction any company doing business in Iran, a power that could expand the current sanctions regime beyond the Islamic Republic’s energy and financial sectors into manufacturing and other sectors key to Iran’s economic resilience.

 

“We need crippling sanctions on the books and to have them fully implemented by the Administration,” the bill’s sponsors, Foreign Affairs Committee chairman Ed Royce (R-CA) and ranking Democrat on the committee Eliot Engel (D-NY), said earlier this month.

The bill will be discussed in the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Wednesday, while a similar bill is being advanced in the Senate by Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Senator Mark Kirk (R-IL). The bills are expected to reach their final form and be brought to a vote in both chambers in the coming months.

In addition to expanding economic restrictions, the House version of the bill would sanction “human rights violators” in Iran, including “corrupt officials that (sic) confiscate humanitarian and other goods for their own benefit” and “persons exporting sensitive technology to Iran,” according to the Foreign Affairs Committee’s summary of the bill.

H.R. 850 is officially titled the Nuclear Iran Prevention Act of 2013. It is expected to reach the House floor for a vote in mid-June, likely around the time of the Iranian elections on June 14.

The bill also instructs the Obama administration to consider designating Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps a foreign terrorist organization for its involvement in the country’s nuclear program, its involvement in suppressing the country’s pro-democracy movement, and its alleged role in recent attempted and successful terror attacks around the world.

Finally, the bill requires the Obama administration to produce a “national strategy on Iran” each year “highlighting Iranian capabilities and key vulnerabilities that the United States may exploit, providing the United States Government a roadmap as to how to effectively address the Iranian threat.”

Meanwhile, Senate Resolution 65, which urges military and economic support for Israel in the event of a military confrontation with Iran, will reach the Senate floor next week for a vote. Introduced by Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), the resolution “urges that if Israel is compelled to take military action in self-defense against Iran’s nuclear weapons program the US government should provide Israel with diplomatic, military, and economic support,” according to a Congressional summary of the resolution.

Menendez and Graham have called the resolution a clear message to Iran that the US will take all necessary steps to ensure Tehran does not acquire a nuclear weapon.

“No one wants another conflict anywhere in the world militarily, but we also don’t want a nuclear-capable Iran,” Graham told reporters at a February press conference.

The resolution states outright that it should not be construed as an authorization for use of force or a declaration of war.

The resolution is non-binding, but has garnered 92 cosponsors in the 100-member chamber.

The House sanctions bill enjoys a similar popularity in Congress, garnering 332 cosponsors as of Friday afternoon, over three-quarters of the House’s 435 members.

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Chinese back hacking U.S. businesses, government

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Hackers working for a cyberunit of China’s People’s Liberation Army appear to have resumed their attacks using different techniques, computer-security experts and U.S. officials say.

By DAVID E. SANGERNICOLE PERLROTH

The New York Time

WASHINGTON — Three months after hackers working for a cyberunit of China’s People’s Liberation Army went silent amid evidence that they had stolen data from scores of U.S. companies and government agencies, they appear to have resumed their attacks using different techniques, according to computer-industry security experts and U.S. officials.

The Obama administration had bet that “naming and shaming” the groups, first in industry reports and then in the Pentagon’s own detailed survey of Chinese military capabilities, might prompt China’s new leadership to crack down on the military’s highly organized team of hackers — or at least urge them to become more subtle.

But Unit 61398, whose well-guarded 12-story white headquarters on the edges of Shanghai became the symbol of Chinese cyberpower, is back in business, according to U.S. officials and security companies.

It is not clear precisely who has been affected by the latest attacks. Mandiant, a private security company that helps companies and government agencies defend themselves from hackers, said the attacks had resumed but would not identify the targets, citing agreements with its clients.

It did say the victims were many of the same ones the unit had attacked before.

The hackers were behind scores of thefts of intellectual property and government documents over the past five years, according to a report by Mandiant in February that was confirmed by U.S. officials. They have stolen product blueprints, manufacturing plans, clinical-trial results, pricing documents, negotiation strategies and other proprietary information from more than 100 of Mandiant’s clients, predominantly in the United States.

In interviews, Obama administration officials said the resumption of the hacking activity did not surprise them. One senior official said Friday that “this is something we are going to have to come back at time and again with the Chinese leadership,” who, he said, “have to be convinced there is a real cost to this kind of activity.”

Mandiant said the hackers had stopped their attacks after they were exposed in February and removed their spying tools from the organizations they had infiltrated. But during the past two months, they have gradually begun attacking the same victims from new servers and have reinserted many of the tools that enable them to seek out data without detection.

They are now operating at 60 to 70 percent of the level they were working at before, according to a study by Mandiant requested by The New York Times.

The Times hired Mandiant to investigate an attack that originated in China on its news operations last fall. Mandiant is not now working for the company.

Mandiant’s findings match those of Crowdstrike, another security company that has also been tracking the group. Adam Meyers, director of intelligence at Crowdstrike, said that apart from a few minor changes in tactics, it was “business as usual” for the Chinese hackers.

The subject of Chinese attacks is expected to be a central issue in an upcoming visit to China by President Obama’s national security adviser, Thomas Donilon, who has said that dealing with China’s actions in cyberspace is moving to the center of the complex security and economic relationship between the two countries.

But hopes for progress on the issue are limited. When the Pentagon released its report this month officially identifying the Chinese military as the source of years of attacks, the Chinese Foreign Ministry denied the accusation, and People’s Daily, which reflects the views of the Communist Party, called the U.S. “the real ‘hacking empire,’” saying it “has continued to strengthen its network tools for political subversion against other countries.”

In a report to be issued Wednesday, a private task force led by Obama’s former director of national intelligence, Dennis Blair, and his former ambassador to China, Jon Huntsman Jr., lays out a series of proposed executive actions and congressional legislation intended to raise the stakes for China.

“Jawboning alone won’t work,” Blair said Saturday. “Something has to change China’s calculus.”

The exposure of Unit 61398’s actions, which have long been well-known to U.S. intelligence agencies, did not accomplish that task.

One day after Mandiant and the U.S. government revealed the PLA unit as the culprit behind hundreds of attacks on agencies and companies, the unit began a haphazard cleanup operation, Mandiant said.

Attack tools were unplugged from victims’ systems. Command and control servers went silent. And of the 3,000 technical indicators Mandiant identified in its initial report, only a sliver kept operating.

Some of the unit’s most visible operatives, hackers with names like “DOTA,” “SuperHard” and “UglyGorilla,” disappeared, as cybersleuths scoured the Internet for clues to their real identities.

In the case of UglyGorilla, Web sleuths found digital evidence that linked him to a Chinese national named Wang Dong, who kept a blog about his experience as a PLA hacker from 2006 to 2009, in which he lamented his low pay, long hours and instant ramen meals.

But in the weeks that followed, the group picked up where it had left off. From its Shanghai headquarters, the unit’s hackers set up new beachheads from compromised computers all over the world, many of them small Internet service providers and mom-and-pop shops whose owners do not realize that by failing to rigorously apply software patches for known threats, they are enabling state-sponsored espionage.

“They dialed it back for a little while, though other groups that also wear uniforms didn’t even bother to do that,” Kevin Mandia, the chief executive of Mandiant, said Friday. “I think you have to view this as the new normal.”

The hackers now use the same malicious software they used to break into the same organizations in the past, only with minor modifications to the code.

While U.S. officials and corporate executives say they are trying to persuade President Xi Jinping’s government that a pattern of theft by the PLA will damage China’s growth prospects — and the willingness of companies to invest in China — their longer-term concern is that China may be trying to establish a new set of rules for Internet commerce, with more censorship and fewer penalties for the theft of intellectual property.

 

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US building military base in Afghanistan near Iran border

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The United States is building a military base in Afghanistan near the border with the Islamic Republicof Iran, Press TV reports.

Press TV’s correspondent in Afghanistan said thebase is being built in an area known as Chahlang in Afghanistan’s Farah Province. The site of theconstruction is three kilometers from the Iranian border.

US building military base in Afghanistan near Iran border

According to information obtained by Press TV, the US forces have already constructed a communications tower and dug some channels in the ground at the site of the base.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai said on May 9 that the US had demanded to keep nine military bases across the war-torn country, adding that, “We are in very serious and delicate negotiations with America.”

On Thursday, however, White House Spokesman Jay Carney rejected Karzai’s remarks, saying thatWashington “does not seek permanent military bases in Afghanistan.”

Emal Feizi, a spokesman for the Afghan president, later denied Carney’s claims and said Washington has even chosen some cities for establishing the bases.

On May 2, 2012, Washington and Kabul signed a deal that authorized the presence of US troops for a period of 10 years after 2014, which was the original date agreed earlier for the departure of all foreign combat troopers from Afghanistan. Afghanistan’s Parliament approved the pact on May 26.

Karzai had confirmed for the first time in 2011 that the administration of US President Barack Obama had demanded the establishment of a system of permanent US military bases across Afghanistan.

The United States and its allies invaded Afghanistan in 2001 as part of Washington’s so-called war on terror. The offensive removed the Taliban from power, but insecurity remains high across the country despite the presence of many US-led foreign troops.

Source: presstv

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Nicaraguan President, Daniel Ortega, to Visit Palestine

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Nicaraguan President, Daniel Ortega, to Visit Palestine

 

Ramallah, May 19 (Prensa Latina) President of Nicaragua, Daniel Ortega, will soon visit Palestine, announced the Palestinian Foreign Minister, Riyad Malki, according to a note released here by official sources.

The foreign ministers of Lithuania, Finland and Greece also plan to travel to the territory of the Palestinian autonomy, adds the source.

President Ortega has accepted an invitation to travel to Ramallah and coordination are ongoing, said Malki, who described the visits as evidence that Palestine is acting in a dynamic way in the international arena.

Last November the General Assembly overwhelmingly approved granting Palestine the status of non-member observer state, despite the aggressive campaign of the United States (U.S.) and Israel to prevent it.

Malki also announced that a mission from the United Nations Organization for Science and Culture will travel on May 20 to Jerusalem, which the Arabs call Al Quds, to investigate the actions of the Israeli occupiers aimed at changing the Arab character of that city.

One day later, May 21, is expected the arrival of U.S. Secretary of State, John Kerry, who has not provided many details of the purpose of his visit, foreign minister added.

Kerry is scheduled to attend the next day’s a lecture of the self called Friends of Syria, convened to Amman, the capital of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.

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America’s “War on Terrorism”: The Truth will Prevail

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Global Research

To understand the complex web of deceit aimed at luring the American people and the rest of the world into accepting a military solution which threatens the future of humanity, get your copy of the international bestseller:

America’s “War on Terrorism”
by Michel Chossudovsky

“The livelihood of millions of people throughout the World is at stake. It is my sincere hope that the truth will prevail and that the understanding provided in this detailed study will serve the cause of World peace. This objective, however, can only be reached by revealing the falsehoods behind America’s “War on Terrorism” and questioning the legitimacy of the main political and military actors responsible for extensive war crimes.”
–Prof. Michel Chossudovsky

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SYNOPSIS: America’s “War on Terrorism”

America's War on Terrorism

In this expanded edition of Michel Chossudovsky’s 2002 bestseller, the author blows away the smokescreen put up by the mainstream media, that 9/11 was an attack on America by “Islamic terrorists”. Through meticulous research, the author uncovers a military-intelligence ploy behind the September 11 attacks, and the cover-up and complicity of key members of the Bush Administration.

The this special edition, which includes twelve additional chapters focuses on the use of 9/11 as a pretext for the invasion and illegal occupation of Iraq, the militarization of justice and law enforcement and the repeal of democracy.

According to Chossudovsky, the “war on terrorism” is a complete fabrication based on the illusion that one man, Osama bin Laden, outwitted the $40 billion-a-year American intelligence apparatus. The “war on terrorism” is a war of conquest. Globalization is the final march to the “New World Order”, dominated by Wall Street and the U.S. military-industrial complex.

September 11, 2001 provides a justification for waging a war without borders. Washington’s agenda consists in extending the frontiers of the American Empire to facilitate complete U.S. corporate control, while installing within America the institutions of the Homeland Security State.

Reviews

“Chossudovsky starts by dispelling the fiction that the US and Al Qaeda have been long-term adversaries. [He] also probes US oil policy, which is obviously of particular concern to George W. Bush. Chossudovsky argues that the US has a much different relationship between Russia and China than is ever indicated in the mainstream (or progressive) press. Simply put, the US is moving into the countries which neighbor Russia and China in order to plunder natural resources and expand the reach of the US Empire. Pakistan?s Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) has been playing a key role in destabilizing the region as well as offering support in other intelligence matters… War and Globalization is full of surprises, even for those of us who consider ourselves well-informed. Chossudovsky is examining the true nature of US foreign policy and arguing that the terrible events of 9/11/01 have changed little of it… Material this provocative and well-researched is ignored by the left at great peril.”
- Scott Loughrey, The Baltimore Chronicle & Sentinel

“Canadian professor of economics Michel Chossudovsky contains that rare gift of a writer who can compile massive documentary evidence, then propound it in a succinct, lucid manner. In this illuminating work the host of the critically acclaimed Global Research website takes widely acclaimed and often repeated media assumptions and sharply refutes them, providing a chronology and road map behind 9-11 and related events… A large part of the book involves a necessary topic area that has been nervously glossed over by conventional American media sources for good reason; it hits too close to home and indicts the largest international energy conglomerates.

The author spends much time examining the link between big oil and public policy. In terms of providing vital information, this compact volume provides more valuable information in one chapter than so many contemporary volumes do with many pages on 9-11 and related events… Chossudovsky demonstrates that the frequently repeated and fallacious Bushie shibboleths of getting Saddam before he gets us are rhetorical sallies designed to inflame public opinion by skirting around the important truths that only a few courageous authors such as himself dare reveal… Its bullseye clarity cuts through the morass of Bush verbage, daring readers to examine the pure, unvarnished truth of a nation using its military and intelligence capabilities to control the global oil market on the pretext of making the world a safer place.”
- William Hare, Florida United States

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