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News & Opinion

NSA chief likely to lose cyber war powers

“Some things are better to have two centers of power,” Healey said. “If you have just one, it's more efficient, but you end up making dumb decisions.”

He argued that the current command structure is leading the United States to both conduct more surveillance and be more aggressive in attacking enemy computer networks.

Alexander has so much clout within the administration that few are able to challenge him on national security issues, Healey said.

He argued the government would never, for example, put one general in charge of gathering intelligence in China, commanding covert forces against China and setting policy toward China.

“We've now created a center of power that we would never allow in any other area,” Healey said. “And it certainly shouldn't be allowed in something so critical to our future and national security as the Internet and cyberspace.”

This is an ACLU post on the FBI surveillance of the Antiwar.com site owner and web administrator.  Go read the whole post here.  It's pretty amazing. And there are still more questions to be answered and a lot more material that's being withheld.
Sloppy FBI Work Leads to Spying on Journalists

Remember Antiwar.com, the online news magazine that discovered it had been targeted by the FBI? The ACLU of Northern California filed a freedom of the press lawsuit to obtain full FBI records on Antiwar.com and its founding editors, Eric Garris and Justin Raimondo.
We received the first disclosure of documents in response to our lawsuit, and they confirm our suspicions that the FBI targeted and spied on Antiwar.com, Garris and Raimondo based on their First Amendment protected activity and kept records about that activity in violation of federal law. They also illustrate some very sloppy work on the part of the FBI and how following up on a bogus lead generates a cycle of wasted intelligence resources and targeting of innocent Americans.

Marcy does an analysis of the FBI monitoring of Antiwar.com.  There is a lot of detail in this post.  I'll excerpt the first paragraph.  I expect that we'll hear more about this.  She's curious about one chunk of documents that the FBI did not release, citing trade secrets, which seems really freaking weird to me.  Marcy has a hunch that it may be related to work done by the FBI by contractors.  If that's the case, this needs to be brought to light because it sounds very much to me like the use of contractors to subvert transparency.  She also refers to an earlier post that she did in 2011 which is here, for your reference.
The New Antiwar Release: “They can’t keep this stuff secret. Nothing is secret anymore.”

Two years ago, Antiwar.com became aware of files relating to the site, that had been requested and were posted in relation to a FOIA on allegations Israelis had observed the 9/11 attack. I wrote about those files here. The files — which started in relation to another investigation on Pakistani terrorism suspects and got picked up because Justin Raimondo had written about the Israeli allegations — were referred to San Francisco for further investigation. But since the FOIA that had returned the documents pertained to the Israeli allegations, it was not immediately clear what happened to the San Francisco investigation.

Antiwar FOIAed then — after FBI wouldn’t give them their file — sued, with the help of ACLU.

Matt Taibbi.
Chase Isn't the Only Bank in Trouble

Guardian Care Homes, a British "residential home care operator," is suing the British bank Barclays for over $100 million for allegedly selling the company interest rate swaps based on Libor, which numerous companies have now admitted to manipulating, in a series of high-profile settlements. The theory of the case is that if Libor was not a real number, and was being manipulated for years as numerous companies have admitted, then the Libor-based swaps banks sold to companies like Guardian Care are inherently unenforceable.

A ruling against the banks in this case, which goes to trial in April of next year in England, could have serious international ramifications. Suddenly, cities like Philadelphia and Houston, or financial companies like Charles Schwab, or a gazillion other buyers of Libor-based financial products might be able to walk away from their Libor-based contracts. Basically, every customer who's ever been sold a rotten swap product by a major financial company might now be able to get up from the table, extend two middle fingers squarely in the direction of Wall Street, and simply walk away from the deals.

Nobody is mincing words about what that might mean globally. From a Reuters article on the Guardian Care case:

"To unwind all Libor-linked derivative contracts would be financial Armageddon," said Abhishek Sachdev, managing director of Vedanta Hedging, which advises companies on interest rate hedging products.
The Terrorism That Torture Didn’t Stop
Supporters of “enhanced interrogation” tout dubious claims of its effectiveness but ignore two cases where it failed to thwart terrorism.

Over four years after President Obama promised to “look forward, not backward” regarding the CIA’s brutal treatment of captives under the Bush administration, the issue has not gone away. The torture debate may fade from the headlines for weeks or months at a time, but it always come back. Last year the trigger was the release of Zero Dark Thirty. A few weeks ago, it was Abu Anas al-Libi’s capture, shipboard interrogation and transfer to the United States for trial. Later this year, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI) will vote on whether to begin declassification of its 6,000-page report on the CIA’s detention and interrogation of terrorism suspects.
In all the debates about whether torture “worked,” though, there is another part of the record that is almost always forgotten: the attacks that torture did not prevent. There are no documented cases of “ticking time bombs” being defused by torture. But there are Al Qaeda plots that were not stopped, even when suspects with knowledge of the conspiracy were being brutally interrogated in CIA custody—a fact that has never been fully reported.

Twelve people were killed, and dozens more injured, in two of these attacks: a 2002 attack on an oil tanker off the coast of Yemen, and an August 2003 suicide bombing of a hotel in Jakarta. According to FBI agent Ali Soufan, the oil tanker attack might have been prevented if the CIA had not been so determined to “render” a juvenile detainee to torture overseas despite his having provided actionable intelligence about the plot to the FBI.

Russia says Assad agrees ‘in principle’ to join Syria peace talks

It was the first indication that Assad’s government intends to participate in the conference, for which a date has yet to be set.

“The Syrian government has shown a constructive approach,” Lukashevich said. He added, however, that Moscow doubts whether representatives of the Syrian opposition will join the talks.

“They are again using a precondition of President Bashar al-Assad’s resignation and propose forming some ‘government’ under the U.N. aegis,” he said. “Generally speaking, they are doing everything possible to dilute the idea of the conference and cancel the principles of the Geneva communique.” The United States, Russia and other countries met in Geneva in June 2012 and issued a call for a negotiated settlement of the Syrian conflict.

Pat Lang on Syria and the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.
The Obama/Kerry "follies" in the ME roll on.

As TTG wrote, the Syrian government is making steady progress in its campaign of pacification.  The Saudis face deep humiliation in this latest example of their drive for Sunni triumphalism in the Levant.  This project is decades long now and has had remarkably little success.

At the same time, the UN has gone competently forward in the work of eliminating CW production and weapons stockpiles.  There is a certain amount of "logrolling" going on in Washington for the notion that Syria is somehow not living up to its undertakings in this matter.  No evidence has been produced for public view so this is just more rumor.  pl
Kerry is trying to make something out of nothing.  The various parties to the Palestine dispute remain unwilling to create an actual and viable settlement of the matter.  For some reason he does not understand that.  pl

This is a must read article from Matthieu Aikins of Rolling Stone.  It's a long form article that talks about the incidents that preceded Karzai's demand that US/ISAF special forces be evicted from the Wardak province in Afghanistan.  This article also does a good job of delineating the differences between the types of troops and Afghan forces that we have deployed and trained in Afghanistan as the withdrawal continues.  One of the big problems is that the Green Berets that this story is primarily about are part of the "white" special operations (as opposed to JSOC "black" operations) and they're the future of the occupation of Afghanistan after the large occupying forces are withdrawn.  

The whole area sounds like it has been one big war crime for the past 30 years.  The author doesn't go easy on anyone involved and doesn't try to create any victims or heroes among those who plot and fight.  He does make it clear that the residents of this area of Afghanistan are in a horrific no win situation though. Those of us who have been trying to follow and understand what's going on in the various regions of Afghanistan will not be unfamiliar with the different actors here. The Afghan Local Police, ALP, really the warlords turned into some of official force, the JSOC special forces that Scahill wrote a lot about, and these "white" special ops forces, which we knew less about, moving in to replace the conventional troops and trying to hold ground for the Afghan government.

Anyway if you make time to read anything this week, this article should be at the top of your list.  It's not something that can effectively excerpted.

The A-Team Killings
Last spring, the remains of 10 missing Afghan villagers were dug up outside a U.S. Special Forces base – was it a war crime or just another episode in a very dirty war

In the fall of 2012, a team of American Special Forces arrived in Nerkh, a district of Wardak province, Afghanistan, which lies just west of Kabul and straddles a vital highway. The members installed themselves in the spacious quarters of Combat Outpost Nerkh, which overlooked the farming valley and had been vacated by more than 100 soldiers belonging to the regular infantry. They were U.S. Army Green Berets, trained to wage unconventional warfare, and their arrival was typical of what was happening all over Afghanistan; the big Army units, installed during the surge, were leaving, and in their place came small groups of quiet, bearded Americans, the elite operators who would stay behind to hunt the enemy and stiffen the resolve of government forces long after America’s 13-year war in Afghanistan officially comes to an end.

But six months after its arrival, the team would be forced out of Nerkh by the Afghan government, amid allegations of torture and murder against the local populace. If true, these accusations would amount to some of the gravest war crimes perpetrated by American forces since 2001. By February 2013, the locals claimed 10 civilians had been taken by U.S. Special Forces and had subsequently disappeared, while another eight had been killed by the team during their operations.

War Crimes in Afghanistan? 10 Bodies of Abducted Villagers Found Outside U.S. Special Forces Base

The A-Team Killings

In the fall of 2012, a team of American Special Forces arrived in Nerkh, a district of Wardak province, Afghanistan, which lies just west of Kabul and straddles a vital highway. ... They were U.S. Army Green Berets, trained to wage unconventional warfare, and their arrival was typical of what was happening all over Afghanistan; the big Army units, installed during the surge, were leaving, and in their place came small groups of quiet, bearded Americans, the elite operators who would stay behind to hunt the enemy and stiffen the resolve of government forces long after America’s 13-year war in Afghanistan officially comes to an end.

But six months after its arrival, the team would be forced out of Nerkh by the Afghan government, amid allegations of torture and murder against the local populace. ... Last winter, tensions peaked and President Karzai ordered an investigation into the allegations. Then on February 16th, a student named Nasratullah was found under a bridge with his throat slit, two days, his family claimed, after he had been picked up by the Green Berets. Mass demonstrations erupted in Wardak, and Karzai demanded that the American Special Forces team leave, and by April, it did. That’s when the locals started finding bodies buried outside the American base in Nerkh, bodies they said belonged to the 10 missing men. ...

But over the past five months, Rolling Stone has interviewed more than two dozen eyewitnesses and victims’ families who’ve provided consistent and detailed allegations of the involvement of American forces in the disappearance of the 10 men, and has talked to Afghan and Western officials who were familiar with confidential Afghan-government, U.N. and Red Cross investigations that found the allegations credible. In July, a U.N. report on civilian casualties in Afghanistan warned: “The reported disappearances, arbitrary killings and torture – if proven to have been committed under the auspices of a party to the armed conflict – may amount to war crimes.”

Pakistan Renounces Lowered Civilian Toll From Drone Strikes

The Pakistani government has reportedly acknowledged errors in its recent downgrading of civilian casualties from U.S. drone strikes. Shortly after Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif returned from a U.S. visit last month, the Pakistani government reported a count of 67 civilian deaths since 2004. Just months earlier, Pakistan had estimated the toll at around 600. But according to the News of Pakistan, a Pakistani defense official has admitted the lower figure was "wrong and fabricated."

Intel IG rebuffs Hill on surveillance probe

The inspector general who oversees the sprawling U.S. intelligence community said he lacks the resources to conduct a review of NSA's surveillance authorities, rebuffing a request from a bipartisan group of senators seeking answers about the the agency's work.

Led by Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), 10 lawmakers in September had urged the watchdog, I. Charles McCullough III, to investigate the NSA’s programs to collect phone call logs and Internet data and publish its findings by the end of next year — but McCullough, replying Tuesday, said such a review just isn’t possible.

“At present, we are not resourced to conduct the requested review within the requested timeframe,” wrote McCullough, before adding he and other agency inspectors general are weighing now whether they can combine forces on a larger probe.

That response didn’t sit well with Leahy, who raised the letter during a scathing speech on the Senate floor Wednesday that slammed the intelligence community for a “trust deficit.” Leahy also emphasized his belief that “the American people are rightly concerned that their private information could be swept up into a massive database, and then compromised.”

SJC To Hold Additional Oversight Hearing On Government Surveillance Programs

WASHINGTON – The Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a third oversight hearing on the government’s use of surveillance authorities later this month, Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) announced Wednesday.

Leahy has invited Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, Gen. Keith Alexander, Director of the National Security Agency, and Deputy Attorney General James Cole to testify before the Committee on Wednesday, Nov. 20, at a hearing titled “Continued Oversight of U.S. Government Surveillance Authorities.” Leahy also chaired oversight hearings in July and October on the scope of the government’s intelligence-gathering powers following revelations of massive collection of Americans’ phone records. Leahy last week introduced bipartisan legislation, the USA FREEDOM Act, to end this dragnet collection.

“The intelligence community faces a trust deficit, and I am particularly concerned that the NSA has strayed and overreached beyond its core missions,” Leahy said in a Record statement Wednesday.  “One important step toward rebuilding that trust would be for the NSA to spend less of its time collecting data on innocent Americans, and more on keeping our nation’s secrets safe and holding its own accountable.”

Additionally, the Subcommittee on Privacy, Technology, and the Law, chaired by Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.), will hold a separate hearing next week on the Surveillance Transparency Act of 2013. That hearing will be held next Wednesday.  Leahy is a cosponsor of Franken’s bill, which would provide more transparency about the number of FISA orders issued and the number of Americans affected.

UK Called to Heel: GCQH chiefs to stand grilling in wake of Snowden revelations

I'm not sure if this is the entire hearing with the heads of MI5, MI6 and GCHQ but it's a lot of it and you can get a sense of what their top spies are saying. Hint, it sounds a lot like ours.  They cited Al Qaeda and 9/11 as the reasons why they have to do massive surveillance.  I was really surprised by that.  In the initial answer of the question about why they have so much surveillance even though the Cold War ended long ago, I expected to hear them mention some terrorist attacks in the UK or on the continent.  But they cited 9/11.
Spy bosses from MI5, MI6 and GCHQ questioned

C.I.A. Is Said to Pay AT&T for Call Data

The C.I.A. is paying AT&T more than $10 million a year to assist with overseas counterterrorism investigations by exploiting the company’s vast database of phone records, which includes Americans’ international calls, according to government officials.

 The cooperation is conducted under a voluntary contract, not under subpoenas or court orders compelling the company to participate, according to the officials. The C.I.A. supplies phone numbers of overseas terrorism suspects, and AT&T searches its database and provides records of calls that may help identify foreign associates, the officials said. The company has a huge archive of data on phone calls, both foreign and domestic, that were handled by its network equipment, not just those of its own customers. ...

The N.S.A. is subject to court-imposed rules about the standard that must be met before its analysts may gain access to its database, which contains records from multiple providers. The C.I.A. appears to have a freer hand, and officials said it had submitted significantly more queries to AT&T for data.

Forget the Backdoor: The Government Now Wants Keys to the Internet

Internet privacy relies heavily on the ability of tech companies to hide user content—such as your emails and bank information—behind a secure wall. But the Department of Justice is waging an unprecedented battle in court to win the power to seize the keys of US companies whenever the US government wants. Edward Snowden has shown that the government is already doing a great job at getting companies to hand over information, breaking down weak doors, and scooping up unlocked material. But if the Justice Department succeeds in this case, it will be far easier for it to do so, and—poof!—there will no longer be any guarantee of Internet privacy. ...

Karl Manheim, a professor at the Loyola Law School in Los Angeles, says that that the government's demand for Lavabit's encryption keys appears "unconstitutional." The same argument is being made by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and the American Civil Liberties Union, both of which filed amicus briefs in the case last week. "This case could set a very dangerous precedent," says Brian Hauss, a legal fellow for the ACLU. "The government regularly reminds us how important cybersecurity is right now [in relation to protecting water plants and electrical grids from hackers, for example] so for them to say that and then execute these legal orders that undermine a critical layer of that security, is somewhat paradoxical." ...

If Lavabit loses its case, it will have the option of petitioning the Supreme Court. Should Lavabit not triumph in the end, tech companies will have to find a new way to protect information on the Internet. And they're already looking ahead. Google has started using what's called "Perfect Forward Secrecy" on most of its communications. This system generates new keys each time someone logs in, so there isn't one master key to break all the communications. And Lavabit is working on a project called the Dark Mail Alliance with another secure provider, Silent Circle, which followed Lavabit's lead and shuttered its email service in August in an effort to resist the NSA. The new service will not rely on a master key and aims to make it impossible for the NSA to obtain even a user's metadata. There's no telling how the US government will respond if Lavabit and Silent Circle succeed in developing this service.

Tim Berners-Lee: encryption cracking by spy agencies 'appalling and foolish'

Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the computer scientist who created the world wide web, has called for a "full and frank public debate" over internet surveillance by the National Security Agency and its British counterpart, GCHQ, warning that the system of checks and balances to oversee the agencies has failed.

As the inventor of the global system of inter-connectivity known as the web, with its now ubiquitous www and http, Berners-Lee is uniquely qualified to comment on the internet spying revealed by the former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

In an interview with the Guardian, he expressed particular outrage that GCHQ and the NSA had weakened online security by cracking much of the online encryption on which hundreds of millions of users rely to guard data privacy.

He said the agencies' decision to break the encryption software was appalling and foolish, as it directly contradicted efforts of the US and UK governments to fight cybercrime and cyberwarfare, which they have identified as a national security priority. Berners-Lee also said it was a betrayal of the technology industry.

Dutch government faces lawsuit for collaboration with NSA

A group of lawyers, journalists and privacy advocates in the Netherlands is taking the government to court to prevent Dutch intelligence using phone data illegally acquired by the US National Security Agency.

Five individuals, among them a prominent investigative journalist and a well-known hacker, and four organisations filed the case before The Hague district court on Wednesday, according to their lawyer Christiaan Alberdingk Thijm.

The case comes after recent revelations that the NSA monitored 1.8 million phonecalls in a month in the Netherlands and then passed some of the data to Dutch intelligence services. ...

Those bringing the lawsuit include investigative journalist Brenno de Winter and hacker Rop Gonggrijp — who is under investigation by US authorities for his involvement with Wikileaks — and they say they want the NSA to stop eavesdropping and handing over information to Dutch intelligence.

The plaintiffs want judges to “declare that the Dutch state was acting illegally by receiving information from foreign intelligence services, which had been collected through spy programmes like (the NSA’s) PRISM, contrary to Dutch law.”

Democracy Loses Out as Big Money Overwhelms Grassroots Campaigns

In Washington and Maine, a flood of corporate cash swings popular opinion on key ballot issues

In two referendum battles that took place on opposite sides of the country on Tuesday, the power of big money campaigns funded by out-of-state corporate interests once again revealed itself by overwhelming grassroots campaigns trying to champion a local common good.

From Maine, where a small town tried to thwart a pipeline company from building a tar sands export terminal, to Washington state, where a broad coalition of consumer advocates and food safety groups called for labeling of genetically modified foods—both campaigns won and maintained the support of the local population... until the corporate money started pouring in.

Local backers of Washington's bid to pass the GMO labeling law, known as I-522, were defeated by corporate interests that spared no expense in the final weeks to overcome the strong support the measure had received since the campaign began. As the Seattle Post Intelligencer reports:

The No on 522 campaign, at $22 million, was the most lavish initiative effort — and likely the most brazen — in the history of Washington state. It saw an unprecedented laundering of campaign contributions. Supporters raised a little less than $8 million, a big enough war chest, but were overwhelmed.

In Maine, where a local zoning ordinance designed to prevent the possible construction of a tar sands pipeline terminal on the waterfront of South Portland, another grassroots campaign, represented by a citizens group called Protect South Portland, was overwhelmed by record funding supplied by some of the world's largest fossil fuel companies. ...

As the Bangor Daily News reports:

The campaign received large amounts of media exposure, as it pitted a citizens group against a campaign funded primarily by petroleum industry groups.

MEMA far out-raised Protect South Portland, whose largest single contributor was the Natural Resources Council of Maine. When cash, in-kind contributions and loans are calculated into the equation, MEMA raised nearly $600,000 in support, far outpacing Protect South Portland, which raised roughly $42,000, according to financial disclosure forms filed with the city clerk’s office. The imbalance prompted the ordinance’s local advocates to decry the influence of “out-of-state oil interests.”

Environmental activist DeChristopher talks about the future of activism and communities in a time of great change.

We’ve never stopped a climate crisis before,” DeChristopher says. But at least, the movement has learned “what doesn’t work—appeasing those in power.” DeChristopher points to what he characterizes as the failed strategy of the U.S. Climate Action Partnership (USCAP) founded in 2007 by a coalition of major environment groups, such as the Environmental Defense Fund and the Natural Resources Defense Council (partnering with major corporations such as BP America, Pacific Oil and Gas Company, Shell, and General Electric). Having spent more than $700 million on a comprehensive strategy, featuring cap and trade as a principle tactic for change, in 2009 this effort “fell on its face,” says DeChristopher because it was “built around how corporate lobbyists work.”

Well-directed activism can (and must) unmask the violence embedded in culturally condoned policies and infrastructures, DeChristopher believes. “When leaders don’t acknowledge and address climate change, this is violence against the young,” he says. DeChristopher urges giving a human face to the affliction and violence inherent in the current web of public policies and business practices.

He predicts that pressure rather than appeasement will deliver better results. “Appealing [to elected officials] isn’t enough.”

Instead of using the effigies of Guy Fawkes on their traditional bonfires, some UK citizens burned the austerity policies of their conservative and neoliberal elected officials.
Protesters Light 'Bonfire of Austerity' Across UK

The flames burned bright on "Bonfire Night" in London and dozens of other UK cities as protesters gathered once again to protest ongoing austerity measures in the country.

Demonstrators in Parliament Square carried signs that read "no cuts," "corporate greed does not make democracy," and "cut war not welfare," as part of an anti-austerity demonstration organized by the People's Assembly Against Austerity. ...

Similar gatherings took place in up to 40 UK cities, including Manchester, Newcastle, and Nottingham. Many of the demonstrations were organized in coordination with what was coined the Million Mask March, called by the hacktivist group Anonymous, which reportedly took place in over 400 cities across the the world including Washington DC, Vancouver, Tel Aviv, Dublin, Paris, Chicago and Sydney.

"Bonfire Night" in the UK, also known as Guy Fawkes Night, is typically a commemoration of Fawkes' failed effort to blow up the British Parliament in 1605. Many have recently turned the yearly celebration into a night of protest in opposition to corrupt government policies.

Judge Orders Release of Guantánamo Documents

The military judge presiding over the tribunal of five 9/11 suspects has ordered the Obama administration to hand over a trove of documents on prison conditions at Guantánamo Bay. The judge, Col. James Pohl, will review correspondence between the U.S. government and the Red Cross, which has inspected the prison. He will then decide whether to turn it over to the defense. It is unclear if the material will become public.

Palestinian officials demand investigation into Arafat ‘killing’ after Al-Jazeera’s polonium poison report

Palestinian officials demanded a global probe into the “killing” of Yasser Arafat on Thursday, a day after it emerged that Swiss forensic tests showed he probably died from polonium poisoning.

With the scientific analysis purportedly showing how the Palestinian leader had died mysteriously, a senior figure in the Palestine Liberation Organisation called for an international inquiry to determine who was behind it.

“The (test) results proved Arafat was poisoned by polonium, and this substance is owned by states, not people, meaning that the crime was committed by a state,” said Wasel Abu Yusef of the PLO’s executive committee.

“Just as a committee was formed to investigate the killing of (slain Lebanese prime minister) Rafiq Hariri, there must be a international committee to investigate the killing of president Arafat.”

His remarks came a day after Al-Jazeera published a report by Swiss scientists that said the results of tests on Arafat’s remains “moderately support the proposition that the death was the consequence of poisoning with polonium-210″.

Huge Election Victories for Colorado’s Anti-Fracking Movement

Yesterday’s election brought huge results for anti-fracking voters in Fort Collins, Boulder and Lafayette where all measures were approved that will either ban or pause the practice of hydraulic fracturing. Initial results show Broomfield with a tally so close—13 votes—that it will force a recount.

“With wins in Boulder, Lafayette and Fort Collins—and a partial-victory in Broomfield—this election sends a huge wake-up call to Governor Hickenlooper that the people of Colorado do not want to be fracked,” said Gary Wockner of Clean Water Action. ”Fort Collins’ vote is especially revealing—a decisive 10 point win in a swing county while being outspent 40 to 1. The oil and gas industry poured in almost $900,000 to try and force citizens to be exposed to their cancer-causing fracking chemicals. Their money back-fired.”

“Here’s the message to Governor Hickenlooper: Can you hear us now?” said Wockner.

Businessman: We no longer live in a democratic society

Billion litres of coal-mine muck leaks into Athabasca River

EDMONTON - Geotechnical engineers remained at the Obed Mountain coal mine Sunday trying to determine how one billion litres of murky water leaked from a containment pond into the Athabasca River.

A barrier gave way on Halloween, allowing liquid containing coal dust, sand and dirt to flow through two creeks into the Athabasca, said Darin Barter, a spokesman for the Alberta Energy Regulator. ...

The Obed Mountain mine, owned by Sherritt International and now undergoing reclamation since operations were suspended last November, is about 30 kilometres northeast of Hinton.

The dirty water travelled 25 kilometres to the Athabasca, forming a muddy plume now floating downstream, Alberta Environment spokeswoman Jessica Potter said. ...

Investigators don’t know how long the plume is because aircraft needed to monitor the situation were unable to fly in the snowy weekend weather.

B.C. old-growth logging plan slammed by conservationists

Conservation groups are demanding forestry company Island Timberlands abandon plans to log old-growth forest on the perimeter of a Vancouver Island provincial park.

The company is building a logging road to a site that sits 300 metres from the border of MacMillan Provincial Park, best noted for a protected stand of old-growth trees within the park known as Cathedral Grove.

Ken Wu of the Ancient Forest Alliance, an environmental activism group, is asking the provincial government to step in and negotiate a deal with Island Timberlands that would prevent any old-growth logging near the site.

Wu says the road and subsequent logging operation will cause severe erosion, putting increasing pressure on the rare old-growth ecosystem preserved within the park's boundaries.

There are numerous photos in this article worth opening it for.  Wow!
Wednesday’s magical, unforgettable sunset in Washington, D.C. (PHOTOS)

Wednesday evening’s sunset went viral and was probably Washington, D.C.’s most photographed sky in history. It had it all: color, texture, strange cloud formations and was prefaced and followed-up by remarkable sky views.
We received more photo submissions for this sunset than we ever have before, numbering in the hundreds. Below, I feature those that stood out, although I’m inevitably leaving out some wonderful, worthy efforts. Thanks to all of you who posted photos on our Twitter, Facebook, and Flickr feeds as well as through email.


Stop Watching Us.

The revelations about the National Security Agency's surveillance apparatus, if true, represent a stunning abuse of our basic rights. We demand the U.S. Congress reveal the full extent of the NSA's spying programs.

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