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« Reply #7230 on: Jul 01, 2013, 06:02 AM »

07/01/2013 11:11 AM

Cover Story: How the NSA Targets Germany and Europe

By Laura Poitras, Marcel Rosenbach, Fidelius Schmid, Holger Stark and Jonathan Stock

Top secret documents detail the mass scope of efforts by the United States to spy on Germany and Europe. Each month, the NSA monitors a half a billion communications and EU buildings are bugged. The scandal poses a threat to trans-Atlantic relations.

At first glance, the story always appears to be the same. A needle has disappeared into the haystack -- information lost in a sea of data.

For some time now, though, it appears America's intelligence services have been trying to tackle the problem from a different angle. "If you're looking for a needle in the haystack, you need a haystack," says Jeremy Bash, the former chief of staff to ex-CIA head Leon Panetta.

An enormous haystack it turns out -- one comprised of the billions of minutes of daily cross-border telephone traffic. Add to that digital streams from high-bandwidth Internet cables that transport data equivalent to that held in Washington's Library of Congress around the world in the course of a few seconds. And then add to that the billions of emails sent to international destinations each day -- a world of entirely uncontrolled communication. And also a world full of potential threats -- at least from the intelligence services' perspective. Those are the "challenges," an internal statement at the National Security Agency (NSA), the American signals intelligence organization, claims.

Four-star General Keith Alexander -- who is today the NSA director and America's highest-ranking cyber warrior as thie chief of the US Cyber Command -- defined these challenges. Given the cumulative technological eavesdropping capacity, he asked during a 2008 visit to Menwith Hill, Britain's largest listening station near Harrogate in Yorkshire, "Why can't we collect all the signals all the time?"

All the signals all the time. Wouldn't that be the NSA's ideal haystack? So what would the needle be? A trail to al-Qaida, an industrial facility belonging to an enemy state, plans prepared by international drug dealers or even international summit preparations being made by leading politicians of friendly nations? Whatever the target, it would be determined on a case by case basis. What is certain, however, is that the haystack would always be there to deliver.

A Fiasco for the NSA

Just how close America's NSA got to this dream in cozy cooperation with other Western intelligence services has been exposed in recent weeks by a young American who, going by outward appearances, doesn't look much like the hero he is being celebrated as around the world by people who feel threatened by America's enormous surveillance apparatus.

The whole episode is a fiasco for the NSA which, in contrast to the CIA, has long been able to conduct its spying without drawing much public attention. Snowden has done "irreversible and significant damage" to US national security, Alexander told ABC a week ago. Snowden's NSA documents contain more than one or two scandals. They are a kind of digital snapshot of the world's most powerful intelligence agency's work over a period of around a decade. SPIEGEL has seen and reviewed a series of documents from the archive.

The documents prove that Germany played a central role in the NSA's global surveillance network -- and how the Germans have also become targets of US attacks. Each month, the US intelligence service saves data from around half a billion communications connections from Germany.

No one is safe from this mass spying -- at least almost no one. Only one handpicked group of nations is excluded -- countries that the NSA has defined as close friends, or "2nd party," as one internal document indicates. They include the UK, Australia, Canada and New Zealand. A document classified as "top secret" states that, "The NSA does NOT target its 2nd party partners, nor request that 2nd parties do anything that is inherently illegal for NSA to do."

'We Can, and Often Do Target Signals'

For all other countries, including the group of around 30 nations that are considered to be 3rd party partners, however, this protection does not apply. "We can, and often do, target the signals of most 3rd party foreign partners," the NSA boasts in an internal presentation.

According to the listing, Germany is among the countries that are the focus of surveillance. Thus, the documents confirm what had already been suspected for some time in government circles in Berlin -- that the US intelligence service, with approval from the White House, is spying on the Germans -- possibly right up to the level of the chancellor. So it comes as little surprise that the US has used every trick in the book to spy on the Washington offices of the European Union, as one document viewed by SPIEGEL indicates.

But the new aspect of the revelations isn't that countries are trying to spy on each other, eavesdropping on ministers and conducting economic espionage. What is most important about the documents is that they reveal the possibility of the absolute surveillance of a country's people and foreign citizens without any kind of effective controls or supervision. Among the intelligence agencies in the Western world, there appears to be a division of duties and at times extensive cooperation. And it appears that the principle that foreign intelligence agencies do not monitor the citizens of their own country, or that they only do so on the basis of individual court decisions, is obsolete in this world of globalized communication and surveillance. Britain's GCHQ intelligence agency can spy on anyone but British nationals, the NSA can conduct surveillance on anyone but Americans, and Germany's BND foreign intelligence agency can spy on anyone but Germans. That's how a matrix is created of boundless surveillance in which each partner aids in a division of roles.

The documents show that, in this situation, the services did what is not only obvious, but also anchored in German law: They exchanged information. And they worked together extensively. That applies to the British and the Americans, but also to the BND, which assists the NSA in its Internet surveillance.

Unimaginable Dimensions

SPIEGEL has decided not to publish details it has seen about secret operations that could endanger the lives of NSA workers. Nor is it publishing the related internal code words. However, this does not apply to information about the general surveillance of communications. They don't endanger any human lives -- they simply describe a system whose dimensions go beyond the imaginable. This kind of global debate is actually precisely what Snowden intended and what motivated his breach of secrecy. "The public needs to decide whether these policies are right or wrong," he says.

The facts, which are now a part of the public record thanks to Snowden, disprove the White House's line of defense up until now, which has been that the surveillance is necessary to prevent terrorist attacks, as President Barack Obama said during his recent visit to Berlin. NSA chief Alexander has sought to justify himself by saying that the NSA has prevented 10 terrorist attacks in the United States alone. Globally, he says that 50 terrorist plots have been foiled with the NSA's help. That may be true, but it is difficult to verify and at best only part of the truth.

Research in Berlin, Brussels and Washington, as well as the documents that have been reviewed by the journalists at this publication, reveal how overreaching the US surveillance has been.

Germany, for its part, has a central role in this global spying system. As the Guardian newspaper, which is working together with Snowden, recently revealed, the NSA has developed a program for the incoming streams of data called "Boundless Informant." The program is intended to process connection data from all incoming telephone calls in "near real time," as one document states. It doesn't record the contents of the call, just the metadata -- in other words, the phone numbers involved in the communication.

It is precisely the kind of data retention that has been the subject of bitter debate in Germany for years. In 2010, the Federal Constitutional Court in Karlsruhe even banned the practice.

"Boundless Informant" produces heat maps of countries in which the data collected by the NSA originates. The most closely monitored regions are located in the Middle East, followed by Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan. The latter two are marked in red on the NSA's map of the world. Germany, the only country in Europe on the map, is shown in yellow, a sign of considerable spying.

Spying on the European Union
An NSA table (see graphic), published for the first time here by SPIEGEL, documents the massive amount of information captured from the monitored data traffic. According to the graph, on an average day last December, the agency gathered metadata from some 15 million telephone connections and 10 million Internet datasets. On Dec. 24, it collected data on around 13 million phone calls and about half as many Internet connections.

On the busiest days, such as Jan. 7 of this year, the information gathered spiked to nearly 60 million communications processes under surveillance. The Americans are collecting metadata from up to half a billion communications a month in Germany -- making the country one of the biggest sources of streams of information flowing into the agency's gigantic sea of data.

Another look at the NSA's data hoard shows how much less information the NSA is taking from countries like France and Italy. In the same period, the agency recorded data from an average of around 2 million connections, and about 7 million on Christmas Eve. In Poland, which is also under surveillance, the numbers varied between 2 million and 4 million in the first three weeks of December.

But the NSA's work has little to do with classic eavesdropping. Instead, it's closer to a complete structural acquisition of data. Believing that less can be extrapolated from such metadata than from intercepted communication content would be a mistake, though. It's a gold mine for investigators, because it shows not only contact networks, but also enables the creation of movement profiles and even predictions about the possible behavior of the people participating in the communication under surveillance.

According to insiders familiar with the German portion of the NSA program, the main interest is in a number of large Internet hubs in western and southern Germany. The secret NSA documents show that Frankfurt plays an important role in the global network, and the city is named as a central base in the country. From there, the NSA has access to Internet connections that run not only to countries like Mali or Syria, but also to ones in Eastern Europe. Much suggests that the NSA gathers this data partly with and without Germany's knowledge, although the individual settings by which the data is filtered and sorted have apparently been discussed. By comparison, the "Garlick" system, with which the NSA monitored satellite communication out of the Bavarian town of Bad Aibling for years, seems modest. The NSA listening station at Bad Aibling was at the center of the German debate over America's controversial Echelon program and alleged industrial espionage during the 1990s.

The relationship between the US and Germany has traditionally been "as close as it could be," American journalist and NSA expert James Bamford recently told German weekly Die Zeit. "Due to the close proximity to the Soviet Union, we probably had more surveillance stations in Germany than anywhere else."

Such foreign partnerships, one document states, provide "unique target access."

'Privacy of Telecommunications' Is 'Inviolable'

But the US does not share the results of the surveillance with all of these foreign partners, the document continues. In many cases, equipment and technical support are offered in exchange for the signals accessed. Often the agency will offer equipment, training and technical support to gain access to its desired targets. These "arrangements" are typically bilateral and made outside of any military and civil relationships the US might have with these countries, one top secret document shows. This international division of labor seems to violate Article 10 of Germany's constitution, the Basic Law, which guarantees that "the privacy of correspondence, posts and telecommunications shall be inviolable" and can only be suspended in narrowly defined exceptions.

"Any analyst can target anyone anytime," Edward Snowden said in his video interview, and that includes a federal judge or the president, if an email address is available, he added.

Just how unscrupulously the US government allows its intelligence agencies to act is documented by a number of surveillance operations that targeted the European Union in Brussels and Washington, for which it has now become clear that the NSA was responsible.

A little over five years ago, security experts discovered that a number of odd, aborted phone calls had been made around a certain extension within the Justus Lipsius building, the headquarters of the European Council, the powerful body representing the leaders of the EU's 27 member states. The calls were all made to numbers close to the one used as the remote servicing line of the Siemens telephone system used in the building. Officials in Brussels asked the question: How likely is it that a technician or service computer would narrowly misdial the service extension a number of times? They traced the origin of the calls -- and were greatly surprised by what they found. It had come from a connection just a few kilometers away in the direction of the Brussels airport, in the suburb of Evere, where NATO headquarters is located.

The EU security experts managed to pinpoint the line's exact location -- a building complex separated from the rest of the headquarters. From the street, it looks like a flat-roofed building with a brick facade and a large antenna on top. The structure is separated from the street by a high fence and a privacy shield, with security cameras placed all around. NATO telecommunications experts -- and a whole troop of NSA agents -- work inside. Within the intelligence community, this place is known as a sort of European headquarters for the NSA.

A review of calls made to the remote servicing line showed that it was reached several times from exactly this NATO complex -- with potentially serious consequences. Every EU member state has rooms at the Justus Lipsius building for use by ministers, complete with telephone and Internet connections.

Unscrupulous in Washington

The NSA appears to be even more unscrupulous on its home turf. The EU's diplomatic delegation to the United States is located in an elegant office building on Washington's K Street. But the EU's diplomatic protection apparently doesn't apply in this case. As parts of one NSA document seen by SPIEGEL indicate, the NSA not only bugged the building, but also infiltrated its internal computer network. The same goes for the EU mission at the United Nations in New York. The Europeans are a "location target," a document from Sept. 2010 states. Requests to discuss these matters with both the NSA and the White House went unanswered.

Now a high-level commission of experts, agreed upon by European Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding and US Attorney General Eric Holder, is to determine the full scope of the routine data snooping and discuss the legal protection possibilities for EU citizens. A final report is expected to be released in October.

The extent of the NSA's systematic global surveillance network is highlighted in an overview from Fort Meade, the agency's headquarters. It describes a number of secret operations involving the surveillance of Internet and international data traffic. "In the Information Age, (the) NSA aggressively exploits foreign signals traveling complex global networks," an internal description states.

Details in a further, previously unpublished document reveal exactly what takes place there. It describes how the NSA received access to an entire bundle of fiber-optic cables, which have a data-transfer capacity of several gigabytes per second. It is one of the Internet's larger superhighways. The paper indicates that access to the cables is a relatively recent development and includes Internet backbone circuits, "including several that service the Russian market." Technicians in Fort Meade are able to access "thousands of trunk groups connected worldwide," according to the document. In a further operation, the intelligence organization is able to monitor a cable that collects data flows from the Middle East, Europe, South America and Asia (see graphic).

But it is not just intelligence agencies from allied nations that have willingly aided the NSA. Revelations related to the Prism program make it clear that agents likewise access vast quantity of data from US Internet companies.

NSA 'Alliances With Over 80 Major Global Corporations'
Heads of these companies have vociferously denied that the NSA has direct access to their data. But it would seem that, outside of the Prism program, dozens of companies have willingly worked together with the US intelligence agency.

According to the documents seen by SPIEGEL, a particularly valuable partner is a company which is active in the US and has access to information that crisscrosses America. At the same time, this company, by virtue of its contacts, offers "unique access to other telecoms and (Internet service providers)." The company is "aggressively involved in shaping traffic to run signals of interest past our monitors," according to a secret NSA document. The cooperation has existed since 1985, the documents say.

Apparently, it's not an isolated case, either. A further document clearly demonstrates the compliance of a number of different companies. There are "alliances with over 80 major global corporations supporting both missions," according to a paper that is marked top secret. In NSA jargon, "both missions" refers to defending networks in the US, on the one hand, and monitoring networks abroad, on the other. The companies involved include telecommunications firms, producers of network infrastructure, software companies and security firms.

Such cooperation is an extremely delicate issue for the companies involved. Many have promised their customers data confidentiality in their terms and conditions. Furthermore, they are obliged to follow the laws of the countries in which they do business. As such, their cooperation deals with the NSA are top secret. Even in internal NSA documents, they are only referred to using code names.

There have long been very close and very secret relationships between many telecommunications companies and the NSA, explains Bamford, the expert on the NSA. Each time partnerships like this are revealed, he continues, they are ended for a short time only to be resumed again later anew.

The importance of this rather peculiar form of public-private partnership was recently made clear by General Alexander, the NSA chief. At a technology symposium in a Washington, DC, suburb in May, he said that industry and government must work closely together. "As great as we have it up there, we cannot do it without your help," he said. "You know, we can't do our mission without the great help of all the great people here." If one believes the documents, several experts were sitting in the audience from companies that had reached a cooperation deal with the NSA.

In the coming weeks, details relating to the collaboration between Germany's BND and the NSA will be the focus of a parliamentary investigative committee in Berlin responsible for monitoring the intelligence services. The German government has sent letters to the US requesting additional information. The questions that need to be addressed are serious. Can a sovereign state tolerate a situation in which half a billion pieces of data are stolen on its territory each month from a foreign country? And can this be done especially when this country has identified the sovereign state as a "3rd party foreign partner" and, as such, one that can be spied on at any time, as has now become clear?

So far, the German government has made nothing more than polite inquiries. But facts that have now come to light will certainly increase pressure on Chancellor Angela Merkel and her government. Elections, after all, are only three months away, and Germans -- as Merkel well knows -- are particularly sensitive when it comes to data privacy.

The NSA's Library of Babel

In a story written by the blind writer Jorge Luis Borges, the Library of Babel is introduced as perhaps the most secretive of all labyrinths: a universe full of bookshelves connected by a spiral staircase that has no beginning and no end. Those inside wander through the library looking for the book of books. They grow old inside without ever finding it.

If an actual building could really approach this imaginary library, it is the structure currently being erected in the Utah mountains near the city of Bluffdale. There, on Redwood Road, stands a sign with black letters on a white background next to a freshly paved road. Restricted area, no access, it reads. In Defense Department documents, form No. 1391, page 134, the buildings behind the sign are given the project No. 21078. It refers to the Utah Data Center, four huge warehouses full of servers costing a total of €1.2 billion ($1.56 billion).

Built by a total of 11,000 workers, the facility is to serve as a storage center for everything that is captured in the US data dragnet. It has a capacity that will soon have to be measured in yottabytes, which is 1 trillion terabytes or a quadrillion gigabytes. Standard external hard drives sold in stores have a capacity of about 1 terabyte. Fifteen such hard drives could store the entire contents of the Library of Congress.

The man who first made information about the Utah center public, and who likely knows the most about the NSA, is James Bamford. He says: "The NSA is the largest, most expensive and most powerful intelligence agency in the world."

Since the 9/11 terror attacks, the NSA's workforce has steadily grown and its budget has constantly increased. SPIEGEL was able to see confidential figures relating to the NSA that come from Snowden's documents, though the statistics are from 2006. In that year, 15,986 members of the military and 19,335 civilians worked for the NSA, which had an annual budget of $6.115 billion. These numbers and more recent statistics are officially confidential.

In other words, there is a good reason why NSA head Keith Alexander is called "Emporer Alexander." "Keith gets whatever he wants," says Bamford.

Still, Bamford doesn't believe that the NSA completely fulfills the mission it has been tasked with. "I've seen no indications that NSA's vastly expanded surveillance has prevented any terrorist activities," he says. There is, however, one thing that the NSA managed to predict with perfect accuracy: where the greatest danger to its secrecy lies. In internal documents, the agency identifies terrorists and hackers as being particularly threatening. Even more dangerous, however, the documents say, is if an insider decides to blow the whistle.

An insider like Edward Joseph Snowden.



06/30/2013 02:46 PM

Spying 'Out of Control': EU Official Questions Trade Negotiations

By Claus Hecking and Stefan Schultz

Senior European Union officials are outraged by revelations that the US spied on EU representations in Washington and New York. Some have called for a suspension of talks on the trans-Atlantic free trade agreement.

Europeans are furious. Revelations that the US intelligence service National Security Agency (NSA) targeted the European Union and several European countries with its far-reaching spying activities have led to angry reactions from several senior EU and German politicians.

"We need more precise information," said European Parliament President Martin Schulz. "But if it is true, it is a huge scandal. That would mean a huge burden for relations between the EU and the US. We now demand comprehensive information."

Schulz was reacting to a report in SPIEGEL that the NSA had bugged the EU's diplomatic representation in Washington and monitored its computer network (full story available on Monday). The EU's representation to the United Nations in New York was targeted in a similar manner. US intelligence thus had access to EU email traffic and internal documents. The information appears in secret documents obtained by whistleblower Edward Snowden, some of which SPIEGEL has seen.

The documents also indicate the US intelligence service was responsible for an electronic eavesdropping operation in Brussels. SPIEGEL also reported that Germany has been a significant target of the NSA's global surveillance program, with some 500 million communication connections being monitored every month. The documents show that the NSA is more active in Germany than in any other country in the European Union.

'It Is Abhorrent'

EU and German politicians on Sunday, however, were reacting primarily to the revelations that the US had specifically targeted the 27-member bloc with its surveillance activities. "If these reports are true, then it is abhorrent," said Luxembourgian Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn. "It would seem that the secret services have gotten out of control. The US should monitor their own secret services rather than their allies."

Asselborn characterized the operation as a breach of trust. "The US justifies everything as being part of the fight against terrorism. But the EU and its diplomats are not terrorists. We need a guarantee from the very highest level that it stops immediately."

A spokesperson for the European Commission in Brussels said officials had been in contact with US authorities in Washington, DC, and in Brussels and "have confronted them with the press reports. They have told us they are checking on the accuracy of the information released yesterday and will come back to us. We will make no further comments at this stage."

German Justice Minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger, who has been sharply critical of the US since the beginning of the Prism scandal, was furious on Sunday. "If media reports are correct, then it is reminiscent of methods used by enemies during the Cold War," she said in a statement emailed to the media. "It defies belief that our friends in the US see the Europeans as their enemies. There has to finally be an immediate and comprehensive explanation from the US as to whether media reports about completely unacceptable surveillance measures of the US in the EU are true or not. Comprehensive spying on Europeans by Americans cannot be allowed."

Elmar Brok, chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee in European Parliament added his opprobrium. "The spying has reached dimensions that I didn't think were possible for a democratic country. Such behavior among allies is intolerable." The US, he added, once the land of the free, "is suffering from a security syndrome," added Brok, a member of Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative Christian Democrats. "They have completely lost all balance. George Orwell is nothing by comparison."

"It is unacceptable when European diplomats and politicians are spied on in their day-to-day activities," said Manfred Weber, deputy head and security expert for the European People's Party, an amalgam of European center-right parties in European Parliament. "Our confidence has been shaken." Weber is a member of the Christian Social Union, the Bavarian sister party to Merkel's CDU.

'Our Trust Is at Stake'

A further Merkel ally in European Parliament, Markus Ferber, accused the US on Sunday of using methods akin to the feared East German secret police, the Stasi. Like Weber, Ferber is a member of the CSU. "A democratic constitutional state that uses Stasi methods sacrifices all credibility as a moral authority," Ferber told the German daily Die Welt on Sunday. "It has destroyed trust."

Guy Verhofstadt, former Belgian prime minister and currently head of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe, added: "This is absolutely unacceptable and must be stopped immediately. The American data collection mania, shown publicly with SWIFT and hidden with Prism, has achieved another quality by spying on EU officials and their meetings. Our trust is at stake."

Green Party officials in Brussels are demanding far-reaching consequences. "This is meltdown of the constitutional state," said Jan Philipp Albrecht, a Green Party representative in European Parliament. The NSA engaged in nothing less than "espionage against democratic countries and their institutions," he added. Albrecht was deeply involved in negotiating the EU's own policies on data privacy. He said that no one is safe from surveillance anymore and demanded that the EU open proceedings at the International Court of Justice in The Hague.

Green Party floor leader in European Parliament Daniel Cohn-Bendit went even further. "A simple note of protest is not enough anymore. The EU must immediately suspend negotiations with the US over a free trade agreement," he said. "First, we need a deal on data protection so that something like this never happens again. Only then can we resume (free-trade) negotiations."

Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Brok isn't willing to go quite that far, though he does allow that the free trade deal is endangered. "How are you supposed to negotiate when you have to worry that your negotiating positions were intercepted," he asked.

His views were echoed during a citizens' dialogue in Luxembourg on Sunday by European Commissioner for Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship Viviane Reding who also suggested the revelations could adversely impact trade talks. "Partners do not spy on each other," she said in response to a question from the audience. "We cannot negotiate over a big trans-Atlantic market if there is the slightest doubt that our partners are carrying out spying activities on the offices of our negotiators. The American authorities should eliminate such doubt swiftly."

No Comment

The spying revelations also look as though they could become an issue in the German election campaign. Peer Steinbrück, the Social Democratic challenger to Merkel, demanded that the chancellor investigate. "The government must clear up the facts as quickly as possible," Steinbrück told SPIEGEL ONLINE. "If the accusations are confirmed, it would go far beyond legitimate security concerns. That would mean that friends and partners were spied on. That would be completely unacceptable."

The targeting of EU representations marks a further expansion of the data surveillance scandal that has surrounded the NSA in recent weeks. New details about Prism and additional surveillance programs have continually come to light thanks to whistleblower Snowden. The British secret service agency GCHQ has a similar spying program called Tempora, according to Snowden, which monitors Internet and telephone connections across the globe.

The US has thus far declined to respond to the revelations printed in SPIEGEL. "I can't comment," Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes told journalists on Saturday in Pretoria, according to the German news agency DPA.

With reporting by Veit Medick


06/30/2013 05:58 PM

Growing Alarm: German Prosecutors to Review Allegations of US Spying

SPIEGEL has learned that the German Federal Prosecutors' Office is looking into allegations that a US intelligence agency has conducted massive spying against German citizens. A first formal complaint has already been lodged in one city.

Germany's Federal Prosecutors' Office confirmed to SPIEGEL on Sunday that it is looking into whether systematic data spying against the country conducted by America's National Security Agency violated laws aimed at protecting German citizens.

A spokeswoman at the Federal Prosecutors' Office, which is responsible for domestic security issues, told SPIEGEL that all available and relevant information about the Prism, Tempora and Boundless Informant spying programs is currently being reviewed by the agency. The spokeswoman said the office was seeking to form a reliable understanding of the facts. However, the agency has not indicated when or if it will launch a formal investigation.

Nevertheless, the spokeswoman said that "criminal complaints" relating to the scandal appear "likely". One criminal complaint has already been filed in Germany. SPIEGEL has learned that a provision was used at the local public prosecutor's office in the city of Giessen to lodge a criminal complaint against an unknown perpetrator over the spying.

According to the content of documents viewed by SPIEGEL, spying by the American National Security Agency (NSA) has been far more widespread than previously believed. Secret NSA documents show that authorities systematically monitored and saved a large share of Internet and telephone connection data. Internal NSA statistics show that around 500 million communications connections in Germany are monitored monthly by the agency. The NSA also classifies Germany as a "target" for spying.

In addition, SPIEGEL reported this weekend that the NSA has bugged European Union diplomatic offices in the United States for eavesdropping purposes and that it has infiltrated EU computer networks. The revelations come from material about the NSA's Prism and Britain's Tempora programs compiled by whistleblower Edward Snowden.

Video Conference Planned Between British, German Officials

Meanwhile, the British government -- whose Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) intelligence service operates the Tempora spying program that is in part directed at Germany -- has shifted away from its strict policy of silence on the issue. In response to requests from the German government for additional information during the past week, officials in London said only that they fundamentally do not address issues pertaining to intelligence operations publicly . Any inquiries were directed by the government to the British intelligence agencies.

The response angered politicians in Germany, especially Justice Minister Sabine Leuthheusser-Schnarrenberger, who complained of having only received "three meager sentences" in reply. The politician, with the business-friendly Free Democratic Party (FDP), said the terse response didn't go far enough to contain a scandal of this proportion.

Berlin officials have since been invited by the British government to participate in a video conference on Monday at 4 p.m. in the British Embassy in Berlin. SPIEGEL has learned that the German government will be represented by senior officials from the Interior Ministry, the Justice Ministry, the Foreign Ministry and Germany's foreign intelligence agency, the BND. Government sources said that in light of the revelations, tough questions are likely to be posed at the meeting.


07/01/2013 12:54 PM

Diplomatic Fallout: Experts Warn of Trans-Atlantic Ice Age

By Gregor Peter Schmitz in Washington

Revelations that the US has spied extensively on the EU and European countries have infuriated leaders in Brussels and Berlin -- and could endanger the trans-Atlantic free-trade agreement. Important American voices are demanding that Obama come clean.

Leading trans-Atlantic analysts have reacted with shock and horror to the weekend revelations by SPIEGEL regarding the extent to which the American National Security Agency (NSA) spied on Germany and on European Union facilities.

"This is a very serious problem for the trans-Atlantic relationship," said Heather Conley, director of the Europe program for the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. "It will make Washington's work with Europe more difficult on a full range of issues, such as (the trans-Atlantic free trade agreement). Add this to a pre-election environment (in Germany) and the challenge becomes greater."

The revelations are "very awkward," agrees Charles Kupchan of Georgetown University. In the administration of President Bill Clinton, Kupchan was in charge of European issues on the National Security Council. Jack Janes, from the influential American Institute for Contemporary German Studies, says: "US Secretary of State John Kerry and possibly the president will have to address this publicly soon. They can't stall any longer."

A statement from German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Monday further indicated the volatility of the situation. "The monitoring of friends -- this is unacceptable, it can't be tolerated. We're no longer in the Cold War," the chancellor said through a spokesman. Merkel confirmed that she had already voiced her displeasure to the White House over the weekend and has demanded a full explanation.

An NSA spokesman on Sunday said that European concerns will be addressed using diplomatic channels. He added that the NSA does not comment on specifics ofintelligence gathering operations but said "as a matter of policy, we have made clear that the United States gathers foreign intelligence of the type gathered by all nations."

Vague Statements

US President Barack Obama, who is currently on a visit to Africa, has consistently defended the American data monitoring program, the size of which has been revealed in recent weeks due to information obtained by whistleblower Edward Snowden. During a visit to Germany in June, Obama said that "the encroachment on privacy has been strictly limited by a court-approved process." He has several times said that the surveillance program is tightly focused and exists to defend the US from terrorism.

Such a vague statement, however, will likely no longer be enough given the revelations of widespread spying on European Union facilities as well as on allies both in Europe and elsewhere. "The US must reach out to European capitals quickly and provide an in-depth consultation on the NSA program," Conley says.

Sources familiar with the ongoing discussion in the White House regarding the revelations say that the Obama administration will attempt to make clear that the surveillance measures were carried out in coordination with the secret services of other countries. It remains questionable, however, whether any countries will want to admit to such cooperation. European politicians, it seems certain, will have no interest in making such an admission.

There is also plenty of room for trans-Atlantic strife when it comes to Edward Snowden and the degree to which Europeans base their complaints about American spying on information attributed to him. "Using him as the basis of accusations is going to raise tensions in Congress and the White House with Europe as long as he is seen as a criminal in the US," Janes says. "It may not matter what his revelations say." But, Janes says, there is growing Congressional pressure on the Obama administration to tighten regulations relating to secret surveillance programs.

'Now We Don't Trust Him'

Trans-Atlantic observers see the planned US-EU free-trade agreement as being a potential victim of the spying revelations published this weekend by SPIEGEL and on Monday by the Guardian. Known as the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), economists on both sides of the ocean hope the deal will provide a significant boost to European and American economies.

But the fury in Europe over NSA's overreach -- and ensuing suspicion -- could ultimately endanger the project. Already, European Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding has called the deal into doubt and concerns have been voiced that the US has also engaged in industrial espionage. Furthermore, the accelerating spat has clearly shown that Europeans have a radically different attitude to digital privacy and data protection than do Americans. Europeans, for example, have long been demanding stricter regulations for Facebook and Google.

Green Party politician Malte Spitz attracted attention over the weekend with a guest editorial in the New York Times in which he reminded readers of the demonstrations in Germany against data retention for six months in accordance with a European Union directive. "Given our history, we Germans are not willing to trade in our liberty for potentially better security. Germans have experienced firsthand what happens when the government knows too much about someone."

The title of his piece: "Germans Loved Obama. Now We Don't Trust Him."


Kerry downplays new reports of NSA spying on allies

By Reuters
Monday, July 1, 2013 7:05 EDT

By Lesley Wroughton

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN, Brunei (Reuters) – Nearly all national governments, not just the United States, use “lots of activities” to safeguard their interests and security, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Monday, responding for the first time to allegations that Washington spied on the European Union and other allies.

The EU has strongly demanded that the United States explain a report in a German magazine that Washington is spying on the group, saying that, if true, the alleged surveillance was “shocking”.

The Guardian newspaper said in an article late on Sunday that the United States had also targeted non-European allies including Japan, South Korea and India for spying – an awkward development for Kerry as he arrived for an Asian security conference in Brunei on Monday.

Kerry confirmed that EU High Representative Catherine Ashton had raised the issue with him in a meeting with him in Brunei but gave no further details of their exchange. He said he had yet to see details of the newspaper allegations.

“I will say that every country in the world that is engaged in international affairs and national security undertakes lots of activities to protect its national security and all kinds of information contributes to that. All I know is that is not unusual for lots of nations,” Kerry told a news conference.

Some EU policymakers said talks for a free trade agreement between Washington and the EU should be put on ice until further clarification from the United States.

Martin Schulz, president of the EU Parliament, told French radio the United States had crossed a line.

“I was always sure that dictatorships, some authoritarian systems, tried to listen … but that measures like that are now practiced by an ally, by a friend, that is shocking, in the case that it is true,” Schulz said in an interview with France 2.

Officials in Japan and South Korea said they were aware of the newspaper reports and had asked Washington to clarify them.

“I’m aware of the article, but we still haven’t confirmed the contents of the story. Obviously we’re interested in this matter and we’ll seek an appropriate confirmation on this,” said Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga at a regular news conference.

“We saw the report and will do a fact-check,” a South Korean government official said. The official declined to comment further, saying it was a media report without any clear evidence.

Officials in New Delhi did not have any immediate comment but India’s External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid, who is also in Brunei, told the ANI television service: : “These are all areas of great strategic importance that we have to cooperate and collaborate in, in counter-terrorism measures.

“I think we continue to remain in touch and cooperate and (if) there is any concern we would convey it or they would convey it to us,” he added.


Der Spiegel reported on Saturday that the National Security Agency (NSA) bugged EU offices and gained access to EU internal computer networks, the latest revelation of alleged U.S. spying that has prompted outrage from EU politicians.

The magazine followed up on Sunday with a report that the U.S. agency taps half a billion phone calls, emails and text messages in Germany in a typical month, much more than any other European peer and similar to the data tapped in China or Iraq.

“If the media reports are correct, this brings to memory actions among enemies during the Cold War. It goes beyond any imagination that our friends in the United States view the Europeans as enemies,” German Justice Minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger said.

“If it is true that EU representations in Brussels and Washington were indeed tapped by the American Secret Service, it can hardly be explained with the argument of fighting terrorism,” she said in a statement.

Revelations about the U.S. surveillance program, which was made public by fugitive former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, have raised a furor in the United States and abroad over the balance between privacy rights and national security.

Kerry said the Obama administration believes that China could have aided the United States in its efforts to arrest Snowden while he was in Hong Kong. Snowden is currently holed up at an international airport in Russia, from where he has applied for asylum in Ecuador.

“It is safe to say that the Obama administration believes that our friends in China could in fact have made a difference here, but we have a lot of issues that we are dealing with right now,” Kerry said.

He said he and the Chinese foreign minister had discussed Snowden during their one-on-one meetings on the sidelines of the summit.

(Writing by Stuart Grudgings; editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan)

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« Reply #7231 on: Jul 01, 2013, 06:07 AM »

Assange stands by Edward Snowden as Ecuador's Correa reprimands consul

WikiLeaks founder says 'there is no stopping the publishing process' as NSA leaker remains stuck in Moscow airport

Ed Pilkington in New York
The Guardian, Sunday 30 June 2013 17.54 BST   

Julian Assange, the WikiLeaks founder, has warned the US government that no matter what it does to try and apprehend Edward Snowden, the revelations he has unearthed on secret digital surveillance of American citizens will see the light of day.

Assange stated pointedly that steps had been taken to foil any US attempt to block publication. "There is no stopping the publishing process at this stage," he said.

Speaking to This Week on ABC news from the Ecuadorean embassy in London, where he is fighting extradition to Sweden to face sexual assault allegations, Assange would not go into details. But he added: "Great care has been taken to make sure Mr Snowden cannot be pressured by any state to stop the publishing process."

Snowden is believed to be holed up in the transit area of a Moscow airport, as he seeks asylum in another country, possibly Ecuador. The former contractor for the National Security Agency has been charged under the 1917 Espionage Act, having leaked classified information on the US government's digital surveillance of phone records, emails and internet communications to the Guardian and the Washington Post.

WikiLeaks has been assisting Snowden in his attempt to avoid capture, providing the 30-year-old with travel expenses and legal counsel and sending advisers to accompany him on his journey from Hong Kong to Moscow earlier this month. Assange said he had offered to help because "we've had some experience in the past with dealing with attacks from the US, with asylum and so on, and I have some personal sympathy for Mr Snowden".

But WikiLeaks has come under criticism from Snowden's father, Lonnie Snowden, who through his lawyer has accused the anti-secrecy organization of using his son to raise money for itself and to prevent Edward Snowden "from doing the right thing" by returning to the US to face charges. Assange told This Week that he had contacted the lawyer to try to "put some of his concerns to rest".

Snowden's predicament, trapped in a legal no man's land between countries, shows no sign of any early resolution. The US government has revoked his passport, making it almost impossible for him to travel on from Russia to any possible final destination. Countries such as Iceland, which Snowden has mentioned as a desired potential safe haven, have made clear that he has to be on their soil before he can claim asylum, creating a legal Catch-22.

The Ecuadorean president, Rafael Correa, told the Associated Press on Sunday that Snowden was "in the care of the Russian authorities" and would not be able to leave Moscow's international airport without his US passport. In a comment that indicated the cautious response of Ecuador to the case, Correa reprimanded Ecuador's consul for issuing Snowden with a letter of safe passage that he is believed to have used to travel from Hong Kong to Russia.

To have done that without consulting the central Ecuadorean government was a "serious error", Correa said. In comments that will not encourage Snowden or his supporters, the Ecuadorean leader added that if Snowden had broken US laws he would have to assume responsibility, adding that the case was "not in Ecuador's hands".

Correa's ambivalent remarks might reflect the fact that he has come under heavy diplomatic pressure from the US to reject Snowden's appeal. On Saturday, Correa said Joe Biden, the US vice president, had contacted him personally by telephone to ask him to dismiss any asylum claim.

The Obama administration shows no sign of wanting to help Snowden find a way out of international limbo. Last week, Barack Obama said: "I'm not going to be scrambling jets to get a 29-year-old hacker." Snowden turned 30 last week.

On Sunday, Nancy Pelosi, leader of the Democratic group in the House of Representatives, told Meet the Press on NBC that in her view "it's pretty good that he's stuck in Moscow airport. That's OK with me – he can stay there."


June 30, 2013

Snowden’s Fate Is Up to Russia, Ecuador Says


PORTOVIEJO, Ecuador — President Rafael Correa said Sunday that while there were weighty arguments for granting asylum to the fugitive American intelligence leaker Edward J. Snowden, it was up to Russia to decide what happens to him.

But with Russian officials maintaining that Mr. Snowden is not their problem, the president’s remarks added to a growing sense that Mr. Snowden is stuck in geopolitical limbo in a Moscow airport, where he has apparently been since he flew there from Hong Kong on June 23.

Mr. Snowden, who is wanted in the United States on charges of breaking espionage laws, has applied for asylum in Ecuador, but Mr. Correa said that his government could not begin to consider the request until Mr. Snowden reached Ecuador or one of its embassies. Mr. Snowden’s American passport has been revoked; without it, he would appear to be unable either to pass through Russian immigration control or to travel on to another country.

“He’s in the international area of the Moscow airport, but basically under the care of the Russian authorities,” Mr. Correa said in an interview. “Strictly speaking, the case is not in our hands.”

Russian leaders disclaim responsibility as well, noting that the transit zone of Sheremetyevo airport in Moscow, where Mr. Snowden is believed to be cloistered, is legally considered to be outside Russia’s borders.

A Russian immigration official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said that Mr. Snowden had not applied for a visa, which would be needed to leave the transit zone, and that he could remain there indefinitely if he wanted. There have been cases of asylum-seekers living in the transit zone for as long as nine months.

Dmitri S. Peskov, the press secretary to President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, said in a radio broadcast on Sunday that Mr. Snowden’s situation “is not one on the Kremlin’s agenda.” Mr. Peskov said in a separate interview that Mr. Snowden had not applied for asylum in Russia.

Mr. Correa said his ambassador to Moscow had met with Mr. Snowden on his second day at the airport, and that he had instructed the ambassador to see Mr. Snowden again, to tell him why Ecuador could not yet consider his application.

Mr. Correa provided some new details about how Mr. Snowden’s truncated dash for refuge unfolded. He said that the country’s foreign minister, Ricardo Patiño, probably discussed the possibility of asylum for Mr. Snowden when he met in London with Julian Assange, the founder of the antisecrecy organization WikiLeaks, several days before Mr. Snowden left Hong Kong.

Mr. Assange has been living in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London for more than a year, after taking refuge there to avoid being extradited to Sweden, where he is wanted for questioning in a sexual assault case. He was not involved in the release of classified documents by Mr. Snowden, but his group has been counseling Mr. Snowden since then.

Mr. Correa said he learned of Mr. Snowden’s request on June 23, the day Mr. Snowden flew to Moscow, and that the request was not a surprise, because Mr. Assange had let Ecuadorean officials know that it was likely.

Mr. Correa indicated that the asylum request would get sympathetic consideration if Mr. Snowden was able to get to Ecuador or to an embassy.

“Perhaps he broke the law of the United States, but in order to tell the truth to the United States, the American people and the entire world, and it’s a very urgent truth,” Mr. Correa said. “I think that this is a weighty argument in deciding whether or not to give him asylum.”

On Sunday, Mr. Assange said in an interview on the ABC program “This Week” that more secrets would surface from the material taken by Mr. Snowden.

“Look, there is no stopping the publishing process at this stage,” Mr. Assange said, speaking from London. “Great care has been taken to make sure that Mr. Snowden can’t be pressured by any state to stop the publication process.”

Mr. Assange seemed to suggest that by canceling Mr. Snowden’s passport and leaving him “for the moment marooned in Russia,” the United States had played into the Russian spy services’ hands, giving them the opportunity to examine the hard drives on the four laptop computers that Mr. Snowden is believed to be carrying. “Is that really a great outcome by the State Department?” Mr. Assange said.

As for Mr. Assange’s refuge in the Ecuadorean Embassy, Mr. Correa said: “He will always be welcome. If this isn’t resolved and he wants to spend 50 years in the embassy, for us there is no problem. He’s under the protection of Ecuador.”

Ellen Barry contributed reporting from Moscow, and Eric Schmitt from Washington.


The 'Edward Snowden Aviation Club' and other ways to beat US persecution

Some countries have offered asylum but the NSA whistleblower will need transport. How about concerned citizens raising money for a private plane?

Mark Weisbrot, Monday 1 July 2013 12.12 BST   

With Edward Snowden stuck in limbo in the Moscow airport transit space, many people in the United States and around the world are wondering what can be done to help him. More than 123,000 Americans have signed a petition on the White House website saying that "Edward Snowden is a national hero and should be immediately issued a full, free, and absolute pardon". Other petitions of support have gathered as many as 1.3 million signatures.

Actually there is quite a bit that can be done by various people to help Snowden reach a safe place where he can be free from persecution by the US government.

The governments of Ecuador, Russia, and Venezuela have invited Snowden to apply for asylum, and there is little doubt that it would be granted. The legal basis for political asylum is very strong, especially since the US has charged Snowden under the Espionage Act. Since it is pretty clear that there was no espionage involved here – no evidence that he collaborated or even met with any foreign governments – this is one obvious indicator that Snowden has a well-founded fear of persecution. And politically, despite efforts by much of the media to brand Snowden a criminal and a traitor, most of the world appears to sympathise with him. Any government that helps him would almost certainly have popular support at home.

The problem is that these governments are reluctant to take the necessary steps to get Snowden freedom because of possible US retaliation. Of course, retaliation is not as likely as many people think: Washington was angry with Hong Kong for about a day after it rejected a request for extradition, and then it blew over. John Kerry's warnings of "consequences" for Russia and China were reversed on Thursday by President Obama, who sought to lower the profile of the issue. Another recent example of threatened retaliation that did not materialise was the US threats to Palestinians for seeking UN recognition of their state.

And there are things that other governments could do to help this process along. First and easiest, the governments of South America – perhaps through UNASUR or another regional body – can denounce Washington's threats to cut off Ecuador's trade preferences in retaliation for offering to receive Snowden's application for political asylum. They took similar steps in response to the UK's threats to invade Ecuador's embassy in London to capture Julian Assange, and these moves were politically successful.

Second, more governments can make statements in support of what Snowden did, as politely as they prefer, and offer to receive an application for political asylum – something that they are required to do under international law in any case. The more governments that make such statements, the more difficult it is for Washington to isolate or retaliate against any one of them.

Third, although Ecuador was reluctant to offer travel documents for Snowden, other governments can. Again, the more governments that state their willingness to do so, the less likely retaliation from Washington becomes.

Then there is the question of how he gets to a safe country. Here, any friendly government could offer him a private plane – it is a minimal expense for a government. Prominent citizens from the US and other countries could offer to accompany Snowden, to reduce the chances of risky behaviour by the US military (although Obama has said that he "was not going to scramble any jets" to get Snowden). The Russian government could also make sure that the Aeroflot flight to Cuba, if it carries Snowden, is re-routed so that it does not fly too close to the US.

The Russian government, if it is unwilling to offer Snowden a visa for its own country, could provide transportation to the Ecuadorian or another government embassy in Moscow, where Snowden could apply for asylum and then resolve the travel document issue. From there, the Russians would be legally obligated to offer Snowden safe passage to the country that had offered him asylum. (The British government's confinement of Julian Assange in the Ecuadorian embassy in London for the past year, after he has received asylum from Ecuador, is illegal under international law.)

Finally, there is the "second superpower", as global civil society was named in 2003 when tens of millions of people hit the streets worldwide against the planned US-led invasion of Iraq. In addition to pressuring their governments to take one or more of the various steps outlined above, citizens can act on their own. For example, they could form a "Snowden Aviation Club", to raise money for a private plane to take him to a safe place. Or even a helicopter to transport him to the Ecuadorian embassy in Moscow. The funds for either of these options should be easy to raise, given his popular support.

Edward Snowden has performed a heroic service to the people of the US and the world, by exposing widespread government abuses that are a threat to freedom everywhere. It's up to everyone who understands this to make sure he is not persecuted for doing so.


June 30, 2013

Job Title Key to Inner Access Held by Snowden


WASHINGTON — Intelligence officials refer to Edward J. Snowden’s job as a National Security Agency contractor as “systems administrator” — a bland name for the specialists who keep the computers humming. But his last job before leaking classified documents about N.S.A. surveillance, he told the news organization The Guardian, was actually “infrastructure analyst.”

It is a title that officials have carefully avoided mentioning, perhaps for fear of inviting questions about the agency’s aggressive tactics: an infrastructure analyst at the N.S.A., like a burglar casing an apartment building, looks for new ways to break into Internet and telephone traffic around the world.

That assignment helps explain how Mr. Snowden got hold of documents laying bare the top-secret capabilities of the nation’s largest intelligence agency, setting off a far-reaching political and diplomatic crisis for the Obama administration.

Even as some members of Congress have challenged the N.S.A.’s collection of logs of nearly every phone call Americans make, European officials furiously protested on Sunday after Mr. Snowden’s disclosure that the N.S.A. has bugged European Union offices in Washington and Brussels and, with its British counterpart, has tapped the Continent’s major fiber-optic communications cables.

On Sunday evening, The Guardian posted an article saying documents leaked by Mr. Snowden show 38 embassies and missions on a list of United States electronic surveillance targets. Some of those offices belong to allies like France, Italy, Japan and Mexico, The Guardian said.

Mr. Snowden, who planned his leaks for at least a year, has said he took the infrastructure analyst position with Booz Allen Hamilton in Hawaii in March, evidently taking a pay cut, to gain access to a fresh supply of documents.

“My position with Booz Allen Hamilton granted me access to lists of machines all over the world the N.S.A. hacked,” he told The South China Morning Post before leaving Hong Kong a week ago for Moscow, where he has been in limbo in the transit area of Sheremetyevo airport. “That is why I accepted that position about three months ago.”

A close reading of Mr. Snowden’s documents shows the extent to which the eavesdropping agency now has two new roles: It is a data cruncher, with an appetite to sweep up, and hold for years, a staggering variety of information. And it is an intelligence force armed with cyberweapons, assigned not just to monitor foreign computers but also, if necessary, to attack.

After the 2001 terrorist attacks, the documents suggest, the N.S.A. decided it was too risky to wait for leads on specific suspects before going after relevant phone and Internet records. So it followed the example of the hoarder who justifies stacks of paper because someday, somehow, a single page could prove vitally important.

The agency began amassing databases of “metadata” — logs of all telephone calls collected from the major carriers and similar data on e-mail traffic. The e-mail program was halted in 2011, though it appears possible that the same data is now gathered in some other way.

The documents show that America’s phone and Internet companies grew leery of N.S.A. demands as the years passed after 9/11, fearing that customers might be angry to find out their records were shared with the government. More and more, the companies’ lawyers insisted on legal orders to compel them to comply.

So the N.S.A. came up with a solution: store the data itself. That is evidently what gave birth to a vast data storage center that the N.S.A. is building in Utah, exploiting the declining cost of storage and the advance of sophisticated search software.

Those huge databases were once called “bit buckets” in the industry — collections of electronic bits waiting to be sifted. “They park stuff in storage in the hopes that they will eventually have time to get to it,” said James Lewis, a cyberexpert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, “or that they’ll find something that they need to go back and look for in the masses of data.” But, he added, “most of it sits and is never looked at by anyone.”

Indeed, an obscure passage in one of the Snowden documents — rules for collecting Internet data that the Obama administration wrote in secret in 2009 and that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court approved — suggested that the government was concerned about its ability to process all the data it was collecting. So it got the court to approve an exception allowing the government to hold on to that information if it could not keep up. The rules said that “the communications that may be retained” for up to five years “include electronic communications acquired because of the limitation on the N.S.A.’s ability to filter communications.”

As one private expert who sometimes advises the N.S.A. on this technology put it: “This means that if you can’t desalinate all the seawater at once, you get to hold on to the ocean until you figure it out.”

Collecting that ocean requires the brazen efforts of tens of thousands of technicians like Mr. Snowden. On Thursday, President Obama played down Mr. Snowden’s importance, perhaps concerned that the manhunt was itself damaging the image and diplomatic relations of the United States. “No, I’m not going to be scrambling jets to get a 29-year-old hacker,” the president said during a stop in Senegal.

Mr. Obama presumably meant the term to be dismissive, suggesting that Mr. Snowden (who turned 30 on June 21) was a young computer delinquent. But as an N.S.A. infrastructure analyst, Mr. Snowden was, in a sense, part of the United States’ biggest and most skilled team of hackers.

The N.S.A., Mr. Snowden’s documents show, has worked with its British counterpart, Government Communications Headquarters, to tap into hundreds of fiber-optic cables that cross the Atlantic or go on into Europe, with the N.S.A. helping sort the data. The disclosure revived old concerns that the British might be helping the N.S.A. evade American privacy protections, an accusation that American officials flatly deny.

And a secret presidential directive on cyberactivities unveiled by Mr. Snowden — discussing the primary new task of the N.S.A. and its military counterpart, Cyber Command — makes clear that when the agency’s technicians probe for vulnerabilities to collect intelligence, they also study foreign communications and computer systems to identify potential targets for a future cyberwar.

Infrastructure analysts like Mr. Snowden, in other words, are not just looking for electronic back doors into Chinese computers or Iranian mobile networks to steal secrets. They have a new double purpose: building a target list in case American leaders in a future conflict want to wipe out the computers’ hard drives or shut down the phone system.

Mr. Snowden’s collection of pilfered N.S.A. documents has cast an awkward light on officials’ past assurances to Congress and the public about their concern about Americans’ privacy.

It was only in March that James R. Clapper Jr., the director of national intelligence, told a Senate committee that the N.S.A. did not collect data on millions of Americans. Mr. Snowden’s records forced Mr. Clapper to backtrack, admitting his statement was false.

Last week, two senators challenged even the accuracy of a fact sheet prepared by the N.S.A. to counter Mr. Snowden’s claims about the phone data and Internet collection programs. Agency officials did not defend themselves; the fact sheet simply disappeared, without explanation, from the agency’s Web site.

Newly disclosed slides from an N.S.A. PowerPoint presentation on the agency’s Prism database of Internet data, posted on Saturday by The Washington Post, reveal that the F.B.I. plays a role as middleman between the N.S.A. and Internet companies like Google and Yahoo. The arrangement provides the N.S.A. with a defense, however nominal, against claims that it spies on United States soil.

Even in the unaccustomed spotlight after the N.S.A. revelations, intelligence officials have concealed more than they have revealed in careful comments, fearful of alerting potential eavesdropping targets to agency methods. They invariably discuss the N.S.A.’s role in preventing terrorist attacks, an agency priority that the public can easily grasp.

In fact, as Mr. Snowden’s documents have shown, the omnivorous agency’s operations range far beyond terrorism, targeting foreigners of any conceivable interest. British eavesdroppers working with the N.S.A. penetrated London meetings of the Group of 20 industrialized nations, partly by luring delegates to fake Internet cafes, and the N.S.A. hacked into computers at Chinese universities.

At Fort Meade, on the N.S.A.’s heavily guarded campus off the Baltimore-Washington Parkway in Maryland, such disclosures are seen as devastating tip-offs to targets. The disclosure in Mr. Snowden’s documents that Skype is cooperating with orders to turn over data to the N.S.A., for example, undermined a widespread myth that the agency could not intercept the voice-over-Internet service. Warned, in effect, by Mr. Snowden, foreign officials, drug cartel leaders and terrorists may become far more careful about how, and how much, they communicate.

“We’re seeing indications that several terrorist groups are changing their communications behavior based on these disclosures,” one intelligence official said last week, speaking on the condition of anonymity. “We’re going to miss tidbits that could be useful in stopping the next plot.”

Mr. Snowden’s breach is an unplanned test of the N.S.A.’s decades-old conviction that it can operate effectively only under absolute secrecy. The agency is conducting a damage assessment — a routine step after major leaks — but the assessment itself is likely to remain classified.

The N.S.A.’s assessment of Mr. Snowden’s case will likely also consider what has become, for intelligence officials, a chilling consideration: there are thousands of people of his generation and computer skills at the agency, hired in recent years to keep up with the communications boom.

The officials fear that some of them, like young computer aficionados outside the agency, might share Mr. Snowden’s professed libertarian streak and skepticism of the government’s secret power. Intelligence bosses are keeping a closer eye on them now, hoping that there is not another self-appointed whistle-blower in their midst.

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« Last Edit: Jul 01, 2013, 06:19 AM by Rad » Logged
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« Reply #7232 on: Jul 01, 2013, 06:16 AM »

Pig Putin's Russia....

Russia passes anti-gay-law

Vladimir Putin signs bill that means people disseminating 'propaganda' about homosexual relationships to minors risk fines

Associated Press, Sunday 30 June 2013 17.38 BST   

Russia's president, Pig Putin, has signed into law a measure that stigmatises gay people and bans giving children any information about homosexuality.

The lower house of Russia's parliament unanimously passed the Kremlin-backed bill on 11 June and the upper house approved it last week.

The Kremlin announced on Sunday that Putin had signed the legislation into law.

The ban on "propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations" is part of an effort to promote traditional Russian values over western liberalism, which the Kremlin and the Russian orthodox church see as corrupting Russian youth and contributing to the protests against Putin's rule.

Hefty fines can now be imposed on those who provide information about the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community to minors or hold gay pride rallies.

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« Reply #7233 on: Jul 01, 2013, 06:22 AM »

Croatia joins EU amid celebrations and uncertainty about future

With the EU in financial turmoil and Croatia's economy in recession for five years, initial excitement has dimmed

Associated Press in Zagreb, Sunday 30 June 2013 23.20 BST   

Thousands of people joined celebrations across Croatia on Sunday night to mark the country's entry into the European Union, 20 years after it won its independence in a bloody civil war that shook the continent.

Croatia became the 28th EU member on Monday, the bloc's first addition since Bulgaria and Romania joined in 2007. It marked a historic turning point for the country, which went through carnage after declaring independence from the former Yugoslavia in 1991.

A decade ago, when Croatia started negotiating entry, it was overjoyed at the prospect of becoming a member of the European elite. But with the EU in financial turmoil and Croatia's own economy in recession for five consecutive years, the excitement has dimmed.

A large turnout was expected for celebrations across the country, including in the main square of the capital, Zagreb, where artists were due to perform for dozens of EU and regional leaders until midnight, when fireworks and the singing of Beethoven's Ode to Joy – the EU's anthem – were set to mark the official entry into the bloc.

Customs posts will be removed from Croatia's borders with EU neighbours Slovenia and Hungary, while EU signs and flags will be put on its borders with non-EU states Bosnia, Serbia and Montenegro.

But overall, the festivities were to be more modest and less jubilant than when Bulgaria and Romania – currently the EU's poorest states – became members. Croatia, with a population of 4.2 million, will be the third poorest country in the EU.

"There are not too many festivities because the general situation is not brilliant," the president, Ivo Josipovic told the Associated Press in a recent interview. "We have to develop our economy, take care of those people who are jobless now, and there is no time and money for big celebrations."

With an unemployment rate hovering at around 20%, plunging living standards, endemic corruption among its political elite and its international credit rating reduced to junk, many Croats are not in the mood to celebrate.

Some economists have warned that Croatia could seek an EU financial bailout as soon as it becomes a member. Croatia's foreign minister, Vesna Pusic, has rejected those claims, saying that the country would qualify for bailouts only if it is a member of the eurozone.

The president of the European parliament, Martin Schulz, described Croatia's accession as a historic day. "EU membership will offer no magic solution to the crisis," he said in a statement. "But it will help to lift many people out of poverty and modernise the economy."

The protest movement Occupy Croatia was planning an anti-EU march on Sunday evening, saying in a statement that "the European Union is not a solution to our problems".

"The entry into the European Union is an economic genocide over the people living in our country," the group said in a statement, blasting the EU as a "union tailored for rich corporations and their politicians".

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« Reply #7234 on: Jul 01, 2013, 06:29 AM »

EU should extend further into former Soviet Union, says David Cameron

Speaking in Kazakhstan, British PM says European Union should stretch from the Atlantic to the Urals

Nicholas Watt in Astana, Monday 1 July 2013 11.48 BST   

David Cameron has said the EU should extend its membership deeper into the former Soviet Union, calling for its borders to run from the Atlantic to the Urals.

Speaking in the former Soviet republic of Kazakhstan on the day that former Yugoslav republic Croatia became the EU's 28th member state, the prime minister hailed the power of the EU to transform divided societies.

Cameron said the membership terms imposed on Croatia and on its former enemy and neighbouring former Yugoslav republic Serbia, which hopes to join in the future, were having a "remarkable" effect in underpinning democracy in the western Balkans.

But the prime minister made clear that he hoped the enlargement of the EU would go further and extend beyond the three Baltic states of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia – the only former members of the USSR in the EU.

In a question-and-answer session with students at the Nazarbayev University in the Kazakh capital, Astana, the prime minister said: "Britain has always supported the widening of the EU. Our vision of the EU is that it should be a large trading and co-operating organisation that effectively stretches, as it were, from the Atlantic to the Urals. We have a wide vision of Europe and we have always encouraged countries that want to join."

The prime minister did not name any countries. But his remarks indicate that he believes that Ukraine, once known as the bread basket of the Soviet Union, should be admitted to the EU.

Vladimir Putin, the Russian president – who has said that the demise of the USSR was one of the great strategic tragedies of the 20th century – may regard Cameron's remarks as hostile. Putin believes that the EU should extend no further into the former USSR than the Baltic states.

Russia is sensitive about Ukrainian membership of the EU. Ukraine houses the Russian Black Sea naval fleet at Sevastopol, which was in Russia until the Crimean peninsula was gifted to Ukraine by Nikita Khrushchev in the 1950s.

But the prime minister said the EU needs to be reformed as he defended his decision to hold a referendum on Britain's EU membership terms. He said: "We recognise there is a problem in the EU right now that needs to be solved."

Cameron said the EU needed to be more flexible to accommodate euro and non-euro members.

"We have to make this organisation flexible enough to include both sorts of country. In my view the euro countries clearly need to integrate more. If you have a single currency you need to have an integrated banking system, you need to have an integrated fiscal system. You need to make sure you have quite a lot of rules. You need solidarity.

"So you need change in the single currency. And then you need to make the EU more flexible so that it can include countries like Britain or other countries that want to be in this trading, co-operating partnership but don't want the currency.

"That is why I have argued for a renegotiation of the rules of the EU between now and 2017. I have said that, if re-elected, I will hold a referendum by the end of 2017 to give the British people a choice about whether they want to stay in this organisation, which would be changed by then, or to leave this organisation."

The Urals mark the unofficial border between Europe and Asia in Russia. They run north to south and extend into north-west Kazakhstan.

The prime minister is not suggesting the western part of Russia should join the EU. Russia has no interest in joining. But his remarks suggest that all former Soviet republics west of the Urals should be free to apply to join the EU.

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« Reply #7235 on: Jul 01, 2013, 06:34 AM »

June 30, 2013

Protests Squelched, Gay Rights March Brings Many in Turkey Back to the Streets


ISTANBUL — Not long after a security crackdown smothered the antigovernment protests that convulsed Turkey for weeks, thousands of people took to the streets of Istanbul again on Sunday, this time for a march to demand better treatment and equal rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

When the first gay rights parade was organized here in 2003, only a few dozen people dared to take part. But on Sunday, at least 20,000 people joined the march, many of them holding rainbow flags and chanting slogans denouncing government policies that discriminate based on sexual orientation. And although memories of the police crackdown on protesters were still fresh, Sunday’s event was peaceful.

Demonstrations initially focused on saving Istanbul’s central Gezi Park from destruction grew in response to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s autocratic and dismissive reaction toward the protests, a criticism that echoes the longstanding complaints of lesbians, gay men and bisexual and transgender people in Turkey.

“Together with Gezi Park resistance that got spread throughout Turkey, we cried out loud our demand for a world that is not homophobic, transphobic and sexist,” a statement issued by the organizers of Sunday’s parade said.

“Today, we together stand against the government’s attack on homosexuals and trans individuals’ rights to live, work and housing.”

In 2002, before he became prime minister, Mr. Erdogan promised greater legal protections for members of the L.G.B.T. community, but in March he called homosexuality “a sexual preference” that “contradicted” Islam, according to a report in the Turkish newspaper Hurriyet.

“We were hopeful back then,” said Yildiz, a cross-dresser who attended Sunday’s march holding a rainbow umbrella. But now “we receive bad treatment from the police and the judiciary on made-up grounds.”

Cross-dressers often complain about having to pay heavy fines when they are stopped by the police, who say they defy the public order by dressing improperly or blocking traffic.

“The police fine us even during daytime when we go out in regular clothes, without makeup, and they do not even explain why we happen to destroy the order,” Yildiz said.

“Courts do not even accept our appeals,” said another protester who was holding a banner that said “Gays exist.”

At least 18 transgender Turks were killed in hate crimes last year, according to a joint statement released by L.G.B.T. groups at a rally last week.

“We are here because homosexuals and transsexuals get kidnapped by families and disappear,” the statement said.

In a predominately Muslim society with strong religious and conservative tendencies, gatherings like the gay rights parade troubled many people, including some who took part in the recent protests over Gezi Park.

But for others, the desire to reclaim the sense of a common purpose that drew people together during the Gezi protests was reason enough to offer their support for the marchers on Sunday.

“No one feels alone any more after the Gezi protests,” said Meryem Koyuncu Igili, who was walking arm in arm with her husband, Metin, as they marched in their first gay rights parade.

Mr. Igili held a banner that said “Even if we are gay,” a message that a person’s sexual orientation should not matter. “It’s, after all, not just L.G.B.T. members, but all of Turkey under oppression,” Ms. Igili said. “We no longer see anyone different from one another, and seek rights for all.”

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« Reply #7236 on: Jul 01, 2013, 06:37 AM »

June 30, 2013

U.S. Companies Investing in Myanmar Must Show Steps to Respect Human Rights


WASHINGTON — When the Obama administration lifted economic sanctions on Myanmar last year, encouraging American investments after decades of treating the nation as a pariah, it did so with a significant caveat.

For the first time, effective on Monday, American companies investing in Myanmar must detail in public reports the steps they have taken to respect human and labor rights, to protect the environment and to avoid corruption in an economy warped by international isolation and military dictatorship.

The reporting requirement represents a novel and, to some, controversial effort by the administration to shape business practices in an emerging economy that has embarked on a remarkable though hesitant opening under Myanmar’s reform-minded president, U Thein Sein.

Officials said the effort could become a model for other countries that might someday emerge from sanctions, like Cuba and Iran. It could also be used, they said, for countries with shoddy records of corruption or other abuses that have come under heightened scrutiny after disasters like the one in a Bangladesh factory in April that killed 1,129 workers.

“While these have been tailored to Burma,” said Daniel B. Baer, a deputy assistant secretary of state, referring to Myanmar by its other common name as a matter of American policy, “a similar set of issues would apply in other places — not only other countries emerging from sanctions but really any place where businesses are operating and investing.”

The requirements have generated considerable criticism. Business and industry groups have complained that they are onerous and make American companies less competitive than their European counterparts, which are also surging into Myanmar.

Human-rights advocates argue that they are not strong enough — and lack explicit penalties for companies that do not comply — to manage a headlong rush to invest in an impoverished country afflicted with ethnic conflicts and still dominated by the military and state-owned enterprises that operate with little transparency.

The U. S. Chamber of Commerce lobbied against the rules as the administration drafted them after President Obama’s decision to lift sanctions last July. American investment in Myanmar “should be encouraged, not hindered,” said John Goyer, the chamber’s senior director for the region. The organization has called on the administration to extend trade privileges to Myanmar.

“Other countries are not putting similar obligations on their own companies, so it is an additional requirement that our competitors do not have,” Mr. Goyer said. “Larger companies can put forth the resources necessary to adhere to the reporting requirements, but for smaller companies, it is much more difficult to do so.”

The administration imposed the requirements using the legal authority it has from a raft of economic sanctions that were imposed after Myanmar harshly repressed the opposition movement led by Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, refusing to recognize her party’s victory in elections in 1990. Her party has since been legalized, and last year she won a seat in the country’s Parliament.

Mr. Obama has welcomed the initial steps to loosen the military dictatorship and met Mr. Thein Sein in the White House in May, but the sanction laws remain on the books and can be reinstated if the reforms are reversed. The president used his authority to waive the sanctions and grant companies licenses to operate there. The State Department then spent months drafting the requirements after holding public hearings and inviting comments from companies and advocates.

The requirements apply to any company investing more than $500,000, and to all investments with the country’s state energy monopoly, Myanma Oil and Gas Enterprise.

In addition to ensuring the rights of workers and providing protections for the environment, the companies must report any payment exceeding $10,000 to government agencies or officials, any contact with Myanmar’s military, arrangements with private security companies and the details of any purchase of land or real property.

Companies are required to submit their reports within 180 days of reaching the threshold and by July each year thereafter. The reports will be made public on the Web site of the newly reopened American Embassy in Yangon, also known by its colonial-era name, Rangoon. Companies can separately submit to the State Department a report with any privileged competitive information that will not be made public.

American companies are already subject to laws governing foreign investments, including the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, and the Securities and Exchange Commission now requires companies to report on investments in oil, gas and mineral industries overseas under the Dodd-Frank legislation that Congress adopted in 2010. But the requirements for Myanmar are the first to apply to investments across the entire economic spectrum.

While there are no explicit penalties for not reporting, the State Department expects that most companies will comply to avoid public criticism from advocates for human rights and the environment who are closely watching Myanmar’s political and economic opening.

“It puts companies in the uncomfortable spot of saying they’re not doing anything,” said Lisa Mosol, a researcher at Human Rights Watch, which reports regularly on Myanmar. “It might cause companies to slow down and think harder.”

The extent of American investment in Myanmar so far remains unclear, but officials and experts expect it could expand significantly given the country’s population of nearly 60 million and the dearth of American and European products after so many years of international isolation.

Dozens of American companies have already announced investments, including prominent ones like Coca-Cola, General Electric and Ford, which is opening its first franchise dealership in Yangon, selling Ranger trucks made in Thailand and F-150s made in America.

John F. Kwant, Ford’s director of international government affairs for Asia and Africa, said the lifting of decades of sanctions had happened so quickly that companies had little certainty about the requirements for receiving licenses to invest. He said the State Department’s requirements clarified the parameters for investors and, at least in Ford’s case, did not seem burdensome.

“We don’t find the reporting requirements onerous,” he said, adding that big companies were well versed in laws like the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. “Those are all things we do as a matter of course.”

Michael H. Posner, who was assistant secretary of state for human and labor rights until joining the Stern School of Business at New York University this year, said the intent of the requirements was to force companies to examine the murky connections between the business and power in “a very embryonic system,” with undeveloped institutions and regulations.

“This is part of a greater trend — not only in the business world, but in our world generally — toward transparency,” said Mr. Posner, who helped draft the requirements while at the State Department. “I think it’s a very healthy trend.”

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« Reply #7237 on: Jul 01, 2013, 06:40 AM »

Ancient white man’s skull has Australians reconsidering their origins

By Agence France-Presse
Monday, July 1, 2013 7:20 EDT

The centuries-old skull of a white man found in Australia is raising questions about whether Captain James Cook really was the first European to land on the country’s east coast.

The skull was found in northern New South Wales in late 2011, and police initially prepared themselves for a gruesome murder investigation.

But scientific testing revealed that not only was it much older than expected, but possibly belonged to a white man born around 1650, well before Englishman Cook reached the eastern seaboard on the Endeavour in 1770.

“The DNA determined the skull was a male,” Detective Sergeant John Williamson told The Daily Telegraph.

“And the anthropologist report states the skull is that of a Caucasoid aged anywhere from 28 to 65.”

Australian National University expert Stewart Fallon, who carbon-dated the skull, pulling some collagen from the bone as well as the enamel on a tooth, said he was at first shocked at the age of the relic.

“We didn’t know how old this one was, we assumed at first that it was going to be a very young sample,” he told AFP.

“When we first did it we weren’t really thinking about people coming to Australia and things like until we started to look at the dates and say, ‘Oh, that’s becoming intriguing’.”

He said the test used was quite accurate for dates after 1950 but for earlier samples it was more difficult, and the two samples yielded different dates — though both were within the error range.

“Using them (the dates) together we can do some modelling as to what we expect the calendar age to be … and the way it works out by using those two dates is that we get about an 80 percent probability that the person was born somewhere around the 1650s and died somewhere between 1660 and 1700,” Fallon said.

He said there was a 20 percent probability the skull, which was found well-preserved and intact but without any other remains near the Manning River, belonged to someone born between 1780 to 1790 who died between 1805 and 1810.

Historians were cautious.

“Before we rewrite the history of European settlement we have to consider a number of issues, particularly the circumstances of the discovery,” archaeologist Adam Ford told the Telegraph.

“The fact the skull is in good condition and found alone could easily point to it coming from a private collection and skulls were very popular with collectors in the 19th century.”

Cassie Mercer, editor of Australia And New Zealand Inside History, said the skull “could be an incredible find”.

“I guess it’s a very exciting find because it could open up a whole lot of avenues of history that we haven’t been able to explore before,” she told AFP.

Dutch explorers made the earliest European landings in Cape York in Australia’s far north and western Australia in the 1600s.

[Image via Agence France-Presse]

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« Reply #7238 on: Jul 01, 2013, 06:47 AM »

Protesters across Egypt call for Mohamed Morsi to go

Millions of demonstrators line streets to demand president's removal on first anniversary of his inauguration

Patrick Kingsley in Cairo
The Guardian, Sunday 30 June 2013 22.55 BST   

Millions of Egyptians filled streets across Egypt on Sunday calling for the departure of Mohamed Morsi on Sunday, hours after the president told the Guardian he would not resign.

A year to the day after Morsi's inauguration as Egypt's first democratically elected president, up to 500,000 protesters swelled Cairo's Tahrir Square calling for Morsi's removal. They then headed to Itahadiya, the presidential palace in the north-east of the city in the evening.

Security sources said that at least seven people were killed and more than 600 wounded in clashes between Morsi's supporters and opponents.

Five of the dead were shot in towns south of Cairo, one each in Beni Suef and Fayoum and three in Assiut.

Two more were killed by gunfire during an attack on the national headquarters of Mursi's Muslim Brotherhood in a suburb of the capital, medical sources said.

Hundreds of people throwing petrol bombs and rocks attacked the building, which caught fire as guards and Brotherhood members inside the building exchanged gunfire with attackers.

State news agency MENA reported that 11 were treated in hospital for birdshot wounds, and across the country, the health ministry said, 613 people were injured as a result of factional fighting in the streets.

In Alexandria, Egypt's second city, 100,000 rallied in the centre, with similar rallies reported in dozens of other Egyptian cities. The headquarters of the Muslim Brotherhood, Morsi's Islamist group, came under attack as night fell.

A spokesman for Morsi said that the president knew he had made mistakes and was working to fix them. Omar Amer added that Morsi was serious in his repeated calls for national dialogue.

"(Morsi) announced to all of Egypt's people that he made mistakes and that he is in the process of fixing these mistakes," Amer told a late-night news conference.

He said Morsi had "extended his hand" for dialogue and wanted to listen to everyone, repeating the president's previous calls for national dialogue, which the opposition has rebuffed as not serious.

"I want to confirm one truth, if there is a total lack of response to this initiative, no listening to it, no interest in it from any side, what do you think the presidency can do?" the president's spokesman said. "The presidency is now waiting for a reaction, no matter how small, so it can build on it." The scale of the protests – which took place on the first day of the Egyptian working week – surpassed predictions made by presidential aides, who had expected only 150,000 people to take part nationwide.

A military source told Reuters that as many as 14 million people in the country of 84 million took part in the demonstrations. There was no independent way of verifying that estimate, though the armed forces used helicopters to monitor the crowds.

"The scenes of protests are unprecedented in size and scope, and seemingly surpass those during the 18-day uprising that toppled Mubarak," said Michael Hanna, a fellow at the Century Foundation and a longtime Egypt analyst.

The scale of protests were even more remarkable, Hanna said, because they were "a bottom-up, grassroots effort and not directed by political opposition leaders. In a sense, they have latched on to this expanding current. While the organisers were diligent and creative, while lacking organisation and funding, this breadth of mass mobilisation could not have transpired unless the protest movement was tapping into deep and growing frustration and disenchantment with the current course of the country and its leadership."

Some senior members of the Muslim Brotherhood spent the day travelling, fearing for their safety. Morsi himself moved from Itahadiya to the Quba palace, a state building in a safer part of Cairo.

"Egyptians are doing it again," said Ahmed Said, a leader of the largest opposition coalition, the National Salvation Front (NSF).

"They insist on regaining their hijacked revolution. We have revolted to reclaim our dignity, and reclaim our dignity we will."

But Morsi was defiant in the face of such dissent. "If we changed someone in office who [was elected] according to constitutional legitimacy – well, there will be people opposing the new president too, and a week or a month later they will ask him to step down," Morsi told the Guardian in an exclusive interview.While Morsi was elected in free elections, his opponents believe he has failed to uphold the democratic values on which a well-rounded democracy depends. In particular, he has been criticised for using a presidential decree to force through an Islamist-slanted constitution, viewed by many as the act of a dictator.

Among many other complaints, Morsi has been accused of presiding over the oppression of activists and journalists, and a marked drop in living standards.

Once a consensus candidate for Islamist and secular voters, critics say he has alienated secular politicians and failed to achieve the unity he was elected to build. Morsi blames the opposition for failing to meet him halfway.

"Morsi got elected in a democratic way," said one government critic, businessman Hassan Shanab. "But since he took over, everything's been polarised. All of a sudden, we see ourselves part of an Islamic regime like Iran. Morsi's answerable to the Brotherhood, but they are not answerable to us." As Shanab spoke, a crowd of protesters nearby started pelting a giant poster of Morsi with stones.

The president still has a vocal support base, 20,000 of whom have been camped in east Cairo since Friday in a show of support for his regime and for its democratic legitimacy. Many of them saw the protests elsewhere as counter-revolutionary and some claimed they had been started by forces loyal to former dictator Hosni Mubarak. "I'm here to defend my vote, and to defend a revolution I was part of," said Shaima Abdel-Hamid, a teacher and Morsi supporter.

"We chose a president and now they want to get rid of him when he's dealing with 30 years of corruption. And they want to get rid of him after only a year."

"Seculars will not rule Egypt again," chanted one crowd of Morsi backers, who come not just from the Muslim Brotherhood, but from other Islamist groups such as Gamaa Islamiya, a Salafi movement.

A senior Brotherhood politician, Essam El-Erian, denounced the protests as a "coup attempt". In a statement on the group's website, he challenged the opposition to test public opinion in parliamentary elections instead of "simply massing people in violent demonstrations, thuggery or shedding the precious blood of Egyptians".

Yet many in Tahrir Square emphasised their religiosity, while rejecting what they perceived as the Brotherhood's attempts to run the Egyptian state along religious lines and to arbitrate on the correct interpretation of Islam. "I voted for him," said Haga Zeinab, a niqab-wearing protester in Tahrir. "But it turns out he only thinks his own people can be Muslims."

Anti-regime protesters created a carnival atmosphere in the square, with many setting off fireworks. At Itahadiya, they bobbed to patriotic songs played from a soundsystem resting on a first-floor balcony.

But at the Islamist rally, the mood was tetchy, particularly after several Brotherhood offices were attacked this week, and one former Brotherhood MP was killed. Many donned cycle helmets and builders' hard hats, and held shields and sticks in case of attack, waiting in defensive mode behind six lines of security checks. Some carried homemade shields emblazoned with the slogan: "Legitimacy is a red line" – a reference to Morsi's democratic mandate.

But with senior Muslim clerics warning of the prospect of civil war this week, many of the Islamists promised to act if the presidential palace came under attack from anti-Morsi protesters, and the police or the army fail to defend it.

The police have historically been no friend of the Brotherhood; across Egypt there were isolated accounts of policemen expressing support for anti-Morsi protesters.

"Now we're seeing the revolution being threatened," said Mohamed Sherif Abdeen, an IT teacher and member of the Muslim Brotherhood. He was carrying a stick and wearing a hard hat – for self-defence, he said. "We won't do anything if the army and police do their job. But, if not, and they don't protect the presidential palace, we will protect it with our chests."

At Itahadiya, medics were taking precautions, anticipating night-time attacks from Islamist forces or state officials. Tahrir Doctors, who tend to the injured at most Cairo protests, set up three field hospitals, staffed by about 30 medics. "If we get any injured from any side, we will treat them equally," said Dr Amr Shebaita, the group's head.

Egypt has been rife with speculation about what will happen next. Two of Egypt's best-known opposition leaders – leftist Hamdeen Sabbahy and liberal Mohamed Baradei – were photographed marching arm in arm towards Itahadiya on Sunday. Should Morsi fall, both are considered potential key players in any transition scenario. Among Morsi's opponents, the most popular and startling choice of successor – at least in the interim – may be the head of the armed forces, General Abdel Fattah Sisi.

There is widespread support for an army coup, particularly after Sisi hinted at the possibility of military intervention last week. "Come on Sisi," chanted protesters outside the presidential palace on Sunday. "My president is not Morsi."

Demonstrators camped outside Cairo's defence ministry – in yet another protest – shouted: "The people and the army are one hand."

Others feel uncomfortable with such sentiment. The Tamarrod campaign, a new protest movement that spearheaded Sunday's protests, issued a statement rejecting support for Ahmed Shafiq, the former air force chief defeated at the ballot box by Morsi last year. But such arguments may be unnecessary. Allies of the president believe protests will dissipate if he can hang on until the start of Ramadan in ten10nine days' time.

Additional reporting by Mowaffaq Safadi

Egypt's Mohamed Morsi remains defiant as fears of civil war grow

In exclusive interview with the Guardian, Morsi defiantly rejects call for elections, setting stage for trial of strength on the streets

David Hearst and Patrick Kingsley in Cairo, Sunday 30 June 2013 09.31 BST   

The Egyptian president, Mohamed Morsi, has vowed there will be no second revolution in Egypt, as thousands planned to gather outside his presidential palace calling for his removal after a year in power.

In an exclusive interview with the Guardian, Morsi rejected opposition calls for early presidential elections and said he would not tolerate any deviation from constitutional order. He said his early resignation would undermine the legitimacy of his successors, creating a recipe for unending chaos.

"If we changed someone in office who [was elected] according to constitutional legitimacy – well, there will be people opposing the new president too, and a week or a month later they will ask him to step down," Morsi said.

"There is no room for any talk against this constitutional legitimacy. There can be demonstrations and people expressing their opinions. But what's critical in all this is the adoption and application of the constitution. This is the critical point."

At least seven people have been killed and over 600 injured in clashes between Morsi's Islamist allies and their secular opposition over the past few days.

With tensions set to rise on Sunday, Morsi's defiant stance sets the stage for a trial of strength that will be played out on the streets of Cairo in front of his official residence. Once gathered, the opposition have vowed not to leave it until he resigns.

The man at the centre of a national storm seems uncannily certain of himself and his staying power. Asked whether he was confident that the army would never have to step in to control a country that had become ungovernable, Morsi replied: "Very."

But Morsi's assured demeanour contrasted with the tense atmosphere that surrounded him on Saturday afternoon. Morsi held back-to-back meetings with top-level state officials, including the prime minister, Hisham Qandil, the interior minister, Mohamed Ibrahim, and several senior officers, including the head of the armed forces, General Abdel Fattah Sisi – whose ambiguous comments in recent days have led to widespread hopes in opposition ranks of military intervention.

Morsi had decamped from Itahadiya palace, the traditional seat of the president, which is now surrounded by makeshift concrete walls in anticipation of Sunday's protests. In its place, he held court on Saturday at the Quba Palace, the birthplace of Farouq – the last king of Egypt.

Morsi claimed Egyptian private media channels had exaggerated the strength of his opponents, and blamed this week's violence on officials loyal to the former president Hosni Mubarak.

He said the media had taken "small situations of violence and then magnified them as if the whole country is living in violence". He dismissed the organic nature of the opposition to his rule, and maintained that the fighting had been co-ordinated by "the deep state and the remnants of the old regime" who had paid off hired thugs to attack his supporters in the Muslim Brotherhood.

"They have money, and they got this money from corruption. They used this corrupt money to pull back the regime, and pull back the old regime into power. They pay this corrupt money to thugs, and then violence takes place."

The president refused to name which countries were meddling in Egypt's affairs, but maintained that it was happening. Asked whether he was referring to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, Morsi replied: "No, I am talking in general terms. Any revolution has its enemies and there are some people who are trying to obstruct the path of the Egyptian people towards democracy. I am not saying it's acceptable, but we observe it everywhere."

Morsi admitted for the first time in the English-language media that he regretted making a constitutional declaration that gave him wide powers – a move that the opposition saw as dictatorial, and which he soon rescinded. This was the pivotal moment of his first year, sowing the seeds for widespread dissent against his administration.

"It contributed to some kind of misconception in society," Morsi said, distancing himself from one of the most divisive clauses in the new Islamist-slanted constitution, which allows for greater religious input into Egyptian legislation. "It's not me who changed this article. I didn't interfere in this constitutional committee's work. Absolutely not."

He said that once MPs were finally elected to Egypt's currently empty lower house of parliament, he would personally submit constitutional amendments for debate in the house's first session.

But Morsi's contrition only went so far. Amid opposition claims that the failure to achieve consensus had led to Egypt's current polarisation, Morsi blamed the refusal of secular politicians to participate in the political process for the impasse.

He denied that his government was unduly loaded with Islamists. He went on to list numerous offers he claimed he had made to bring non-Islamists on board, while defending the right of a popularly elected president to promote his allies. "This is the concept of real democracy," he said.

Morsi denied that he had ever offered the leading secular politician Mohamed ElBaradei a job, but named Mounir Fakhry and Gouda Abdel Khalif as two opposition ministers who left his cabinet against his wishes. "That's the situation," Morsi claimed. "We offer people [jobs] and they refuse."

Even now, Morsi said, the offer for dialogue with opposition members remained open – though the opposition say such meetings are a waste of time because Morsi only pays lip-service to their point of view.

Morsi has been criticised for betraying a key goal of the 2011 uprising that toppled Mubarak: security sector reform. Since rising to power, Morsi has avoided criticising the police, even in the face of allegations of extreme malpractice. In January after more than 40 people died in gun battles with security officials in Port Said, Morsi praised the police and gave them more powers.

Asked why he had repeatedly refused to criticise specific instances of police malpractice, the president claimed that his praise was meant in a more general sense. "When I say I am supporting the police or the army, I am talking about the army in general and the police in general. In general, those institutions are good institutions. Accordingly if there are certain violations, or crimes, or abuses by certain individuals – well, the law takes its course."

But Morsi has even been accused of kicking into the long grass allegations of security force brutality under previous regimes. After his election he commissioned a fact-finding report on police and military wrongdoing during and after the 2011 uprising. But he has never published its findings, and when its damning contents were leaked to the Guardian in April, Morsi chose to praise the army and police, and promoted three generals.

"I'm supporting the institution," he again claimed this weekend. "I'm not supporting the individuals. And of course, the number of people who committed the violations are very small in comparison to the institutions."

Morsi appeared to be treading a fine line between blaming stubborn state institutions for the failures of his administration in one moment, while embracing them in the next – perhaps to avoid making the situation worse.

Throughout the one-hour interview, Morsi hinted that the intransigence of Mubarak-era state officials was holding up reform of state institutions such as the interior ministry, who control the police. He noted the stubbornness of "a deep state and its impact on running the country, and the desire of some people who come from the previous regime to [create] corruption", calling the extent of state corruption one of the most unpleasant discoveries of his first year.

While peppering his remarks with frustration at Egypt's "deep state", Morsi stressed his faith in the military high command – and in particular in Sisi. He admitted that he had no prior warning of Sisi's comments last Sunday, in which the general appeared to give civilian politicians a week to resolve their differences.

"We constantly talk together over time," Morsi said, but "we can't restrict every single word announced by officials in this country". Glancing at his spokesmen for the first time in the interview, Morsi also claimed that the army had been burned by their previous involvement in power, and said: "They're busy now with the affairs of the army itself".

Morsi emphasised his democratic legitimacy. But while acknowledging that he was elected freely and fairly, many of his opponents argue that he does not uphold the wider democratic values on which a successful democracy relies.

Among many other complaints, critics condemn his appointment of Talaat Abdallah as attorney general, claiming that Abdallah pursues political cases against activists and media personalities critical of the president – such as Alaa Abdel Fattah, who rose to prominence during the 2011 uprising, and Bassem Youssef, Egypt's leading satirist.

But Morsi refused to accept this argument, arguing that Abdallah operated independently. "The cases you're talking about, they were filed by citizens or by lawyers, and the prosecution dealt with [them]. And the prosecution and the judicial system are fully independent," he argued. "If someone wants to say that I interfered in the work of the public prosecutor, he has to provide evidence of that, and an example of that."

As his opponents bank on this year being his last, Morsi confidently predicted that he would serve a full term. "It has been a difficult, very difficult year. And I think the coming years will also be difficult. But I hope that I will all the time be doing my best to fulfil the needs of the Egyptian people and society."

The problem remains that Egypt is bitterly divided on whether he should be allowed to do so.

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« Reply #7239 on: Jul 01, 2013, 06:50 AM »

Chad’s former dictator arrested in Senegal

By Agence France-Presse
Sunday, June 30, 2013 17:46 EDT

Senegalese authorities detained former Chadian dictator Hissene Habre on Sunday, the first step towards a trial on charges of crimes against humanity that is seen by many as a milestone for African justice.

The man once dubbed “Africa’s Pinochet” also stands accused of war crimes and torture during his eight years in power in Chad, where rights groups say that some 40,000 people were killed under his rule.

“Hissene Habre has been taken into custody as part of the probe,” said a prosecutor with a special court set up in February to try the 70-year-old former leader.

One of Habre’s lawyers, El Hadji Diouf, told local radio he had been arrested at his home in Dakar where he lives with his wife and children and taken to an unknown destination.

His other lawyers said in a later statement that Habre had been “illegally seized and taken away by force”.

Ibrahima Diawara and Francois Serres said Habre had been “taken by force from his home even though no summons or search or arrest warrant from a judge had been issued to him”.

The statement seen by AFP said the lawyers “denounce most firmly this illegal kidnapping which is a very grave violation of President Habre’s rights, and demand his immediate release”.

Delayed for years by Senegal where he has lived since being ousted in 1990, Habre’s trial will set a historic precedent as until now African leaders accused of atrocities have only been tried in international courts.

Typically dressed in combat fatigues during the years of his rule, Habre earned the nickname “desert fighter” after he seized power in 1982 from former rebel ally Goukouni Weddeye during a long conflict with Libya, which wanted to annex the north of Chad.

His regime was marked by fierce repression of his opponents and the targeting of ethnic groups, and in 1990 he fled to Senegal after being ousted by Chad’s now President Idriss Deby Itno.

A decade later a group of victims filed charges against him in Senegal, but he has never been brought to trial and former president Abdoulaye Wade repeatedly tried to “get rid of him”.

On a visit to Senegal on Thursday as part of his three-nation Africa tour, US President Barack Obama hailed Dakar’s efforts to prosecute the former dictator as a sign of the country’s commitment to justice in Africa.

“This is a trial that we have supported and we welcome Senegal’s leadership in undertaking this effort to see that justice is done and in fact we have committed resources in support of their efforts,” said US deputy national security advisor Ben Rhodes.

Senegal and the African Union signed an agreement in December to set up the court to try Habre for the offences, allegedly committed between 1982 and 1990.

The AU had mandated Senegal to try Habre in July 2006, but the country stalled the process for years under Wade.

Habre was also wanted for trial in Belgium on war crimes and crimes against humanity charges after three Belgian nationals of Chadian origin filed suit in 2000 for arbitrary arrest, mass murder and torture during his 1982-1990 regime.

Senegalese President Macky Sall, Wade’s successor who took office in April 2012, ruled out extraditing Habre to Belgium, which was prepared to try him, vowing to organise a trial in Senegal.

In May, lawyers for Habre said they had filed a lawsuit in Senegal to try to prevent the trial from going ahead, saying the west African country had violated his human rights.

Under Senegalese law, Habre can be held in custody for a period of 48 hours, renewable once.

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« Reply #7240 on: Jul 01, 2013, 06:52 AM »

Gulf states, EU agree to push Syria peace talks

By Agence France-Presse
Sunday, June 30, 2013 17:50 EDT

The Gulf Arab nations and the European Union pledged Sunday to pool their efforts to help convene a peace conference on Syria, as they wrapped up a one-day ministerial meeting in Bahrain.

The gathering attended by EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton and the foreign ministers of the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council also called on Shiite Iran to play “a constructive role” in the Sunni-dominated region.

The ministers “reiterated the utmost urgency of finding a political settlement of the Syrian conflict,” said a statement issued at the end of the meeting.

They also pledged to “spare no effort in helping to create the appropriate conditions for a successful convening of the peace conference on Syria” which Russia and the United States have been striving to hold in Geneva.

The GCC and the EU also took a swipe at Lebanon’s Shiite militant movement Hezbollah which backs the Damascus regime in the 27-month conflict and “condemned” its role “in military operations in Syria”.

The statement, however, made no mention of demands by Syria’s armed opposition for weapons to fight the regime of President Bashar al-Assad — a request that has also the backing of GCC powerbrokers Qatar and Saudi Arabia.

Ashton told the gathering “we need to work harder together to find the political solution that will bring peace” to Syria and expressed concern about a spillover of the war into neighbouring Lebanon and Iraq.

“We are extremely concerned about the plight of the people and about rising sectarian conflicts in Lebanon and Iraq, and we want to do our utmost to try and defuse tension,” she said.

On Iran, the GCC — whose members also include Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman and the United Arab Emirates — and the EU expressed support for diplomatic efforts to end the row over Tehran’s nuclear programme.

They also urged Iran “to play a constructive role” in the Sunni-majority region where GCC leaders have repeatedly accused the Islamic republic of undermining stability.

On the economic front, Ashton said bilateral trade between the EU and the GCC increased by 45 percent since 2010 and was worth 145 billion euros annually ($188 billion).

On Saturday, the European Union said the “promotion of human rights” was among issues Ashton would raise at the meeting to review economic ties and regional developments.

Human Rights Watch issued statement on the occasion of the meeting urging Ashton to press Bahrain to release 13 opposition activists jailed in the Sunni-ruled but Shiite-majority Gulf state.

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« Reply #7241 on: Jul 01, 2013, 06:56 AM »

Obama urges Africa’s leaders to ‘serve their people’

By Agence France-Presse
Sunday, June 30, 2013 17:55 EDT

US President Barack Obama warned Sunday that Africa could only fulfil its rising potential with leaders who strive to improve the lives of their people, decrying “thugs and warlords” who hold back the promise of the continent.

In a strident call for democratic change and good governance, Obama used the political legacy of ailing Nelson Mandela and South Africa’s emergence from grim years of apartheid as proof that freedom will ultimately prevail.

“History shows us that progress is only possible where governments exist to serve their people and not the other way around,” said Obama, in a line that drew loud and prolonged cheers from his audience of more than 1,000 people.

While Africa is “on the move,” progress is based on a fragile foundation, Obama said in a speech at Cape Town University.

“Across Africa, the same institutions that should be the backbone of democracy can all too often be infected with the rot of corruption. The same technology that enables record profits sometimes means widening a canyon of inequality,” he said.

The speech was delivered from the same spot where American political icon Robert Kennedy delivered his famous “ripple of hope” speech in 1966, which called on students to decry the “racial inequality of apartheid”.

Obama’s goal was to inspire a new generation of Africans with the belief that they could ignite political change and the potential of their continent.

He slammed those who “steal or kill or disenfranchise others,” saying that the ultimate lesson of South Africa was that such brutal tactics will not work.

“So long as parts of Africa continue to be ravaged by war and mayhem, opportunity and democracy cannot take root,” said Obama.

“Across the continent, there are places where too often fear prevails,” Obama said, warning of “senseless terrorism” from Mali to Mogadishu.

“From Congo to Sudan, conflicts fester,” Obama said, hitting out at those who argue that American calls for democracy and freedom are “intrusive” or “meddling”.

“In too many countries, the actions of thugs and warlords and drug cartels and human traffickers hold back the promise of Africa, enslaving others for their own purposes.

“America cannot put a stop to these tragedies alone, and you don’t expect us to. That is a job for Africans. But we can help and we will help you,” he said, announcing major new US programs to boost electricity and health care.

He also condemned the rule of Robert Mugabe in neighbouring Zimbabwe, where he said the “promise of liberation gave way to the corruption of power and the collapse of the economy”.

Like the rest of Obama’s trip to South Africa, the speech was rich in emotion when he mentioned his hero Mandela, who lies critically ill in a Pretoria hospital.

“You have shown us how a prisoner can become president,” Obama said.

South Africa has made massive strides in delivering electricity, housing and water since the fall of apartheid in 1994.

But the progress has failed to dent anger over rampant poverty and joblessness, with one in four workers unemployed.

Judging by the rousing reception, Obama’s words spoke to the frustrations felt by many in the room.

“I think all South Africans are fed up with individuals abusing state resources, putting money into their pockets, instead of serving the people,” said Yibanathi Jezile who is in his final year of high school.

President Jacob Zuma’s administration is under increasing fire for its largesse — from an expensive security upgrade to his private home to irregularities in the granting of deals to do business with the state.

“For a lot of us, I think that was just a bit of an amen moment. It’s about time now that our government serves us as a democratic state,” said Al Postman, 25.

With poverty and unemployment still a problem, “it has to mean that money is going elsewhere”, he said. “Where is the money going to? That’s the big question.”


June 30, 2013

Obama Visits Prison Cell That Helped Shape Modern South Africa


CAPE TOWN — In the foreword to Nelson Mandela’s 2010 book of letters, President Obama wrote that “even when little sunlight shined into that Robben Island cell, he could see a better future — one worthy of sacrifice.”

On Sunday, Mr. Obama stood in that same tiny prison cell — now a monument to Mr. Mandela, South Africa’s first black president — and showed his wife and two daughters the place where Mr. Mandela spent 18 of his 27 years behind bars during his long campaign to end his country’s policies of racial apartheid and oppression.

Later, Mr. Obama again invoked the legacy of Mr. Mandela, 94, who remained in critical condition at a Pretoria, South Africa, hospital, during a speech to the African people he delivered from the University of Cape Town.

In the speech, he called Mr. Mandela the ultimate testament to the process of peaceful change and said his daughters better understood his legacy now. “Seeing them stand within the walls that once surrounded Nelson Mandela, I knew this was an experience they would never forget,” Mr. Obama said.

Using the clan name that many people fondly use in referring to Mr. Mandela, the president said his daughters appreciate “the sacrifices that Madiba and others made for freedom.” Mr. Obama also recalled a speech there by Robert F. Kennedy in June 1966. It was delivered even as Mr. Mandela was beginning his prison term; Mr. Kennedy hailed the push for civil rights in the United States, in South Africa and around the world.

“Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current that can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance,” Mr. Kennedy said.

The symbolism of Mr. Obama’s visit was impossible to miss: America’s first black president, whose wife is a descendant of African slaves, said this week that he might not have been elected were it not for Mr. Mandela’s ability to endure imprisonment and emerge to take power without bitterness or recrimination.

In a visitor’s book in a prison courtyard, Mr. Obama wrote that his family was “humbled to stand where men of such courage faced down injustice and refused to yield.”

“The world is grateful for the heroes of Robben Island,” he added, “who remind us that no shackles or cells can match the strength of the human spirit.”

For Mr. Obama, the visit to Robben Island, just off Cape Town, was part of an African trip that has been overshadowed to some extent by concerns about Mr. Mandela’s health. Instead of visiting the former leader, Mr. Obama chose to meet instead with Mr. Mandela’s family on Saturday, joining many in this nation who are passing on their prayers for his recovery.

Mr. Obama had been to Robben Island before, as a senator. In his foreword to Mr. Mandela’s book, “Conversations With Myself,” he recalled trying to “transport myself back to those days when President Mandela was still Prisoner 466/64 — a time when the success of his struggle was by no means a certainty.”

He also toured the limestone quarry where Mr. Mandela and other political prisoners were forced to work. Mr. Obama’s daughters, Malia and Sasha, listened as their tour guide, Ahmed Kathrada, who served prison time with Mr. Mandela, described the area.

Sea birds squawked as Mr. Obama talked to his daughters about the history of the prison island, and of the role it played in the political movement of nonviolence started by Gandhi.

“One thing you guys might not be aware of is that the idea of political nonviolence first took root here in South Africa because Mahatma Gandhi was a lawyer here in South Africa,” the president told them. “When he went back to India the principles ultimately led to Indian independence, and what Gandhi did inspired Martin Luther King.”

A few minutes later, Mr. Obama and his family gathered in a small courtyard where Mr. Mandela and other prisoners were forced to work, and where they occasionally played sports. Along one wall stood lattices for grapevines behind which Mr. Mandela, while a prisoner, hid pages of a manuscript that eventually became his first book, “Long Walk to Freedom.”

Mr. Kathrada told the president that the pages were smuggled out of the prison. Pointing to a black-and-white photograph of prisoners at work in the courtyard, Mr. Kathrada told the Obamas that guards once took away the prisoners’ hammers and took pictures to show the world that the inmates were only doing light work. The hammers were soon given back, he said.

The Obamas crowded into the tiny cell overlooking the courtyard where Mr. Mandela spent nearly two decades. Inside the sterile, cinder block cell was a toilet, a thin mattress with pillows and a brown blanket. A single window looking into the courtyard has thick, white bars, matching the ones on the door to the cellblock’s hallway.

Mr. Obama lingered in the cell by himself. Photographers captured the moment as he stared past the bars to the bright blue sky and sun shining down on the courtyard. He made no comments as he joined his family.

In his speech in Cape Town a few hours later, Mr. Obama announced plans to embrace the new sense of optimism about Africa’s future by creating American programs to help its nations develop more sustainable food programs, better health care networks and more reliable power grids.

He said the United States would invest $9 billion to help double the access to reliable electricity in sub-Saharan Africa. “The world will be watching what decisions you make. The world will be watching what you do,” Mr. Obama said. “My bet is on the young people who are the heartbeat of Africa’s story. I’m betting on all of you.”

During a separate visit to the Desmond Tutu H.I.V. Center in Cape Town, Mr. Obama hailed its efforts to combat AIDS. Mr. Tutu, the civil rights activist and retired bishop, said Africans prayed for Mr. Obama’s success in promoting peace. “Your success is our success,” Mr. Tutu said. “Your failure, whether you like it or not, is our failure. We are proud of you. You belong to us.”

The president is to leave Cape Town on Monday morning for a day in Tanzania before heading home to Washington on Tuesday.

White House officials have declined to comment about whether Mr. Obama’s travel schedule will change in the event of Mr. Mandela’s death. But it is widely expected that the president would return to South Africa for the funeral.

South Africans are preparing themselves for that moment, with impromptu gatherings in front of Mr. Mandela’s home and at the hospital where he is being treated.

At a dinner with President Jacob Zuma of South Africa on Saturday night, Mr. Obama recited from the 19th-century poem “Invictus” that Mr. Mandela would read to other Robben Island prisoners.

“It matters not how strait the gate/How charged with punishments the scroll,” Mr. Obama read. “I am the master of my fate:/I am the captain of my soul.”

South African news media coverage of Mr. Mandela’s illness on Sunday focused on a bitter feud among Mr. Mandela’s family, which has become divided on where the former president should be buried.

On Friday, 16 members of the Mandela family initiated a lawsuit against Mr. Mandela’s grandson Mandla Mandela, accusing him of secretly exhuming the remains of three of Mr. Mandela’s children in 2011 as part of a ruse to shift the family graveyard closer to his home.

Court documents cited in Sunday’s newspapers contained claims that the ancestral spirits of the Mandela family had been disturbed by the bodies’ removal, which was in turn contributing to Mr. Mandela’s suffering.

In a statement released on Sunday morning, Mandla Mandela said he would contest the lawsuit in court.

Declan Walsh contributed reporting from Johannesburg.

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« Reply #7242 on: Jul 01, 2013, 06:57 AM »

June 30, 2013

Violent Episodes Grow in Tanzania, an African Haven


DAR ES SALAAM, Tanzania — As one of the leaders of an acrimonious doctors’ strike in Tanzania, Dr. Stephen Ulimboka was not entirely surprised when a group of armed men appeared, unannounced, at a meeting and arrested him. But when he saw that the car they were forcing him into had no license plates, fear truly hit him.

A black hood was thrown over his head. “You’re going to pay for what you’ve been doing,” Dr. Ulimboka recalled one of the men saying. “You can start praying to your God because there is no turning back.”

They beat him for hours on that June night last year, first with their fists, then with metal rods. They pulled the toenails from both of his big toes. As he lay on the ground, he heard them discussing the best way to kill him: running him over with the car or giving him a lethal injection. He was unsure if he would live till daybreak.

Tanzania has a reputation abroad as an island of stability in the often-chaotic region of East Africa. The country has been rewarded with praise and money from international donors, including the United States, which last year gave the country more than $480 million.

President Obama arrives here on Monday to a country where human rights groups and the largest opposition party say episodes of intimidation and suppression of political opponents are growing. “The international community believes there is peace in Tanzania,” said Willibrod Slaa, the secretary general of the opposition party, Chadema. “There is fear, not peace.”

Journalists have been attacked and in at least one instance killed while working. Last July, the government banned an independent weekly newspaper, Mwanahalisi, which had been reporting aggressively on Dr. Ulimboka’s kidnapping, linking the crime to the government. President Jakaya Kikwete denied any connection.

“I don’t feel secure,” said Saed Kubenea, managing editor at Hali Halisi Publishers Ltd., which owns Mwanahalisi. “But I will fight.”

The Committee to Protect Journalists, a nonprofit organization based in New York, urged Mr. Obama last week to raise the issue of freedom of the press when he meets with Mr. Kikwete on Monday.

The political violence reached a new, unexpected level last month, when a hand grenade was thrown at a rally organized by Chadema in the northern city of Arusha, killing four people. No suspect has been identified, and the investigation is continuing.

At the party offices here in Dar es Salaam the other day, a fleet of motorcycles used for reaching isolated constituencies in villages accessible only by dirt road sat parked out back. Party officials placed a silver laptop on a table and showed a video from the rally in Arusha.

In the footage, party leaders gave speeches from atop a truck with built-in speakers. Afterward, they descended into the crowd and began collecting donations. A blast sent people scattering. A handful of wounded and dead were frantically gathered and carried to the bed of a pickup truck that took them to receive medical treatment, leaving behind a blacktop slick with blood.

“It is intimidation,” Mr. Slaa said. “The people will be afraid to go to the polling stations, and the active ones will have been eliminated.”

Chadema officials have publicly claimed that the man responsible was either working with, or protected by, the police. They say the party will produce videotape proving their charge, but only after an independent commission has been named to investigate.

Paul A. M. Chagonja, commissioner of police for operations, called the allegations “frivolous” and “unfounded,” and said the party was obligated to furnish law enforcement with any evidence in its possession.

“The core function of the police is to protect the people,” Mr. Chagonja said. “We are not allied with any political party.”

Tanzania, home to Mount Kilimanjaro, is a popular tourist destination for safaris in the Serengeti. The nation has been lauded for its ethnic cohesion, rising above the kind of tribal violence that rocked Kenya after that country’s elections in 2007. Although a church bombing in May, also in Arusha, raised concerns that religious tensions could rise, Tanzania is relatively free of sectarian strife. That is one reason Mr. Obama scheduled a visit here.

Yet the Tanzanian government has essentially remained in the hands of the same party since gaining independence half a century ago. Tanzania held its first multiparty elections in 1995, but the ruling party, Chama cha Mapinduzi, or Party of the Revolution in Swahili, has won the national elections each time since.

Analysts say the very real prospect that voters will choose another party in the next election, in 2015, has rattled some members of the government, particularly those who are afraid that a new party in power could mean aggressive investigations and prosecutions.

“I think there is a rear-guard element in ruling circles who have never accepted this,” said Jenerali Ulimwengu, a prominent Tanzanian journalist. “They haven’t been reined in by the political bosses because they are shaky and unsure.” The result, Mr. Ulimwengu said, “can be quite deadly, as we’ve seen over the past couple of years.”

Abdulrahman Kinana, secretary general of the ruling party, known as C.C.M., said it was prepared to accept a defeat at the ballot box. “We were always ready to transfer power if the people decide,” he said, adding that C.C.M. won the country’s “free and fair elections” by reaching out more effectively to voters. He pointed to the dozen or so daily newspapers available here as evidence of a vibrant local news media.

But the government “needs to tell us what happened to those people who were either killed or attacked,” Mr. Kinana said. “Most of these crimes have not gotten an explanation.”

The men who kidnapped and tortured Dr. Ulimboka took him to a forest, where he was dumped into a hole about three feet deep, his arms and legs bound. He laid as still as possible, hoping the men would believe he was already dead. He waited for about half an hour after they left before struggling to free his legs.

He walked toward the sound of a road, his hands still bound behind his back, the rope biting deeply into his wrists. There, he found help and was taken to a police station and later to a hospital. His kidneys were failing, and he had to be flown to South Africa for treatment.

A year later, most of his injuries have healed, though he said that when he combed his hair, he felt the numb spots where his nerves had been damaged in the savage beatings. He does not fear for himself at a time when people are killed at public gatherings.

“People,” Dr. Ulimboka said, “can just kill you anywhere.”

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« Reply #7243 on: Jul 01, 2013, 06:59 AM »

Primary win puts Michelle Bachelet in pole position for Chilean presidency

Former leader puts down a solid marker for November election after trouncing her centre-left rivals

Reuters in Santiago, Monday 1 July 2013 04.29 BST   

Chile's former leader Michelle Bachelet steamed toward another presidential bid on Sunday with a lopsided primary win that prompted her centre-left rivals to concede early in the evening and vow to support her in the November election.

On the right, former economy minister Pablo Longueira defeated his rival Andres Allamand, but will face an uphill battle against Bachelet. Bachelet, 61, who led Chile as its first female president from 2006 to 2010, received 73.07% of the vote, with 99.7% counted. Her two closest rivals in the primary, Andres Velasco and Claudio Orrego, conceded defeat on national television.

"We'll keep fighting until November 17 to get to the Moneda [presidential palace] in 2014," Bachelet told cheering supporters. The presidential election is scheduled for November 17 and a second round of voting would be held in mid-December if the front-runner does not get more than half the votes.

Bachelet is widely expected to win back the presidency. "The big winner tonight is Bachelet and the big losers are Allamand and Longueira, she got twice as many votes as they did ... the race in November will be for second place and not for first because if Bachelet doesn't win in the first round, she'll win the run-off election," said Patricio Navia, professor at New York University and Universidad Diego Portales.

A victim of torture during Chile's dictatorship, Bachelet has served as the head of UN Women, the United Nations' gender equality body, since leaving the presidency. Chile's president, Sebastian Pinera, a wealthy businessman who has struggled to connect with ordinary Chileans, is barred from running for immediate re-election.

Voters from Pinera's conservative Alianza coalition gave Longueira 51.35%, against the former defence minister Allamand's 48.64%, according to preliminary figures.

"Having won these primaries in two months is the best proof that if we get to work tomorrow we're going to win the presidential election in November," said a jubilant Longueira. He took the place of businessman Laurence Golborne midway through the primary campaign, after Golborne abandoned his candidacy over a financial scandal.

Longueira is hampered by having served under unpopular Pinera, who broke 20 years of uninterrupted centre-left rule when he took power in 2010. Longueira's close relationship with the former dictator Augusto Pinochet is also seen as as an impediment to a presidential run.

Nearly twice as many voters as forecast turned out on Sunday, which analysts have said bodes well for Bachelet in November.

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« Reply #7244 on: Jul 01, 2013, 07:01 AM »

Brazil protests: victory on the pitch but grievances remain

Once the euphoria passes, and Fifa's officials return home, the issues that sparked unrest will remain

Jonathan Watts in Rio de Janeiro, Monday 1 July 2013 12.24 BST   

Mood changes do not come much more dramatic than the shift within two hours and four blocks near the Maracanã stadium in Rio de Janeiro on Sunday night.

Inside that small window, one neighbourhood was choked with angry protests, clouds of teargas and volleys of rubber bullets, while a short walk away joyful crowds sang, danced and exploded in celebration at Brazil's victory in the Confederations Cup final.

It was an odd sensation strolling from one to the other, past recently fired cartridges and fallen placards to garage forecourt TV screens where locals and police stared up together at the events on the pitch, in reality only a stone's throw or two away.

But it also brought home the contrast between the local street and the global stadium, which has been at the heart of the remarkable events in Brazil over the past two weeks as a series of largely spontaneous, somewhat inchoate but often huge demonstrations have coincided with and overshadowed Fifa's tournament.

On one side was radical activism designed to change Brazil from the ground up. On the other was a passive consumerism geared to maintaining the status quo. For much of the watching world, the contest between these competing views has been far more engrossing than anything on the pitch.

It was not a matter of who won or lost on the streets. On Sunday night, that was never in doubt.

The demonstration of 3,000-5,000 people was one of the smallest of recent weeks, yet police made their biggest deployment yet, of 6,000 personnel, as well as an armoured personnel carrier, helicopters, horses and dogs. As a result, the clash between the two was more one-sided than the game, which Brazil won against Spain by a comfortable 3-0 margin.

At least one policeman was injured and the Guardian saw another with his leg aflame after what looked like a Molotov cocktail exploded beside him. Despite this, the protesters never looked like getting inside the stadium perimeter.

But in the more important campaign for public opinion and policy change, the protesters have notched up impressive victories. Onlookers cheered from the windows of their apartment blocks as the march went through their streets on Sunday night. Polls show the vast majority of Brazilians support the protesters, while the president, Dilma Rousseff, has suffered the sharpest fall in popularity of any leader in the country's history.

The state governments and the national legislature have been forced into several concessions. Rio and São Paulo have made U-turns on planned bus fare rises that sparked the protests. Rousseff has promised a referendum on political reform, stricter punishment for corruption and more money for healthcare, education and public transport. The national congress has backed down on a proposed bill that would have weakened the public minister's ability to investigate political wrongdoing and, for the first time since 1988 a sitting congressman has been convicted (though, astonishingly, another third of the members in the chambers are still on trial.)

For many of the protesters on Sunday, there is more work to be done. High among the range of issues was the media dominance of the Globo group (whose journalists were chased away from demonstrations by an irate mob), inefficient use of public funds, forced relocations linked to Olympic real estate developments, the treatment of indigenous groups, dire inequality and excessive use of force by police in favela communities.

"We often see military police violence in the slums," said a woman from the Babylonia complex who gave only the name Rachel because she said she feared repercussions. She and her friends had dressed up as blood-soaked corpses. "We want what the police do. Although our slum is now pacified, the police killed residents when they moved in," she said.

Although clashes once again grabbed the headlines during the evening march, an earlier, similar-sized protest against forced relocations and the privatisation of the Maracanã passed in a peaceful, festive mood.

The match also ended with euphoric scenes, not just in the stadium but among TV spectators a few blocks away from the demonstrations outside. Street gatherings erupted as Neymar and Fred scored, David Luiz cleared off the line, and the final whistle blew.

The result stirs up hopes that the Brazilian squad may have shed its lacklustre recent form and found fresh dynamism and a new winning formula. The same cannot yet be said of the political world, though the football team's manager, Luiz Felipe Scolari, said a Confederations Cup victory may help to unite the nation.

That remains to be seen, but there may at least be a respite. As fans and football officials filed out of the Maracanã, there was no longer any echo from percussion grenades, no whiff of teargas and no sign of the placards that had been held high two hours earlier stating "Fifa Go Home!"

Fifa's executives will do just that in the coming days, no doubt to the relief of many in Brazil's government.

With less going on in the stadiums, protesters may find it harder to make things happen on the street. But some say this is just the start.

"There are too many reasons for being here," said Tiago Menez, a student on Sunday's march, who expects to see more protests in the runup to next year's World Cup. "We cannot stop discussing politics so these demonstrations will continue."

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