Archive for January, 2014

Pete Seeger performs “What Did You Learn In School Today” 《今天在学校学了什么?》[Youku.com / Sweet & Sour Socialism Songs]]

Posted in Sweet & Sour Socialism Songs, 中文-英文 / Bilingual ~ English-Chinese on January 31, 2014 by Zuo Shou / 左手

A classic tune, particularly in 2014 as war-mongering Anglo imperialists are going to horrifying lengths to try to rehabilitate their mad criminal butchery of WWI. – Zuo Shou

Video link with no lyrics: http://v.youku.com/v_show/id_XMjQxODg0MTcy.html

Video link with lyrics in English and Mandarin Chinese, but overall audio/video quality is inferior to prior link: http://v.youku.com/v_show/id_XMjkwNTEwMDI4.html

Lyrics — http://lyrics.wikia.com/Pete_Seeger:What_Did_You_Learn_In_School_Today%3F

What did you learn in school today,
Dear little boy of mine?
What did you learn in school today,
Dear little boy of mine?

I learned that Washington never told a lie.
I learned that soldiers seldom die.
I learned that everybody’s free,
And that’s what the teacher said to me.
Chorus
That’s what I learned in school today,
That’s what I learned in school.

What did you learn in school today,
Dear little boy of mine?
What did you learn in school today,
Dear little boy of mine?
I learned that policemen are my friends.
I learned that justice never ends.
I learned that murderers die for their crimes
Even if we make a mistake sometimes.
Chorus

What did you learn in school today,
Dear little boy of mine?
What did you learn in school today,
Dear little boy of mine?
I learned our Government must be strong;
It’s always right and never wrong;
Our leaders are the finest men
And we elect them again and again.
Chorus

What did you learn in school today,
Dear little boy of mine?
What did you learn in school today,
Dear little boy of mine?
I learned that war is not so bad;
I learned about the great ones we have had;
We fought in Germany and in France
And someday I might get my chance.
Chorus

Chinese Internet shutdown linked to right-wing groups, US shell corporations [World Socialist Website]

Posted in Anti-China media bias, Anti-China propaganda exposure, Black propaganda, China, China-bashing, China-US relations, Corporate Media Critique, Intenet control policy / "Great Firewall", Internet Global Hegemony, US imperialism, USA on January 31, 2014 by Zuo Shou / 左手

I did not attempt to access the Internet here in China at the time of the reported shutdown, so this is news to me. The article includes considerable conjecture but still interesting for that. – Zuo Shou

By Kevin Reed
28 January 2014

Last Tuesday, the Internet in China was rendered virtually inoperable for eight hours. According to news reports, nearly all of China’s Internet users—600 million people—were unable to access web sites including the popular search engine Baidu and the social media site Sina Weibo.

At approximately 3:00 p.m. Beijing time on January 21, the domain name root servers in China began rerouting all Internet traffic within the country to the web servers of two Internet companies in the US, Sophidea and Dynamic Internet Technology (DIT). Web monitoring experts also said that .com, .net and .org Internet addresses failed to load in Chinese browsers during the outage.

The US media was quick to report unsubstantiated claims that the breakdown was caused by Chinese Internet censors who made a mistake and, instead of blocking access to the Sophidea and DIT web sites, accidentally redirected all of China’s Internet traffic to their servers. Aside from the fact that the theory that Chinese authorities mistakenly sent the entire Internet to two IP addresses in the US is on its face implausible, no information has yet been produced to prove this claim.

It is far more likely—based on information available in news reports — that the top-level Chinese Internet servers were hacked by right-wing opponents of the Chinese government and other cyber criminals operating within the US corporate-intelligence community…

…While speculation continues as to the specific cause of last Tuesday’s shutdown, it is not out of the question that the outage was the result of a sophisticated malware operation sponsored by the US government or one of its private contractors. As revealed by Edward Snowden in November, the NSA and its Office of Tailored Access Operations (TAO) are the number one purveyor of cyber crime and distributor of malware in the world. These operations rely upon IP address switching and domain name server tricks to lure users into unknowingly loading harmful software onto their systems.

In June, intelligence expert Matthew Aid reported that the NSA and TAO have been engaged for 15 years in a large-scale hacking operation aimed at Chinese computer and telecommunications networks…

Full article link: http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2014/01/28/chin-j28.htm

US media blacks out Snowden interview exposing death threats [World Socialist Website]

Posted in Assassination, Black propaganda, Capitalist media double standard, Germany, National Security Agency / NSA, NSA, Russia, US "War on Terror", US Government Cover-up, US imperialism, USA on January 31, 2014 by Zuo Shou / 左手

By Bill Van Auken
28 January 2014

The former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden appeared Sunday night in his first extended television interview. Citing published statements by unnamed US intelligence and military operatives calling for his assassination, he warned that he faces “significant threats” to his life and that US “government officials want to kill me.”

The interview, broadcast by the German television network ARD, was largely blacked out by the US media. The New York Times carried not a word of what Snowden said, while the cable and broadcast news programs treated the interview with near total silence.

The American media’s reaction stood in stark contrast to that of both broadcast and print media in Germany, where the interview conducted with Snowden in Russia was treated as a major political event.

The interview itself was preceded by a segment dedicated to Snowden on Germany’s most popular news talk show, with commentary delivered before a sizable live television audience. Those who spoke out in Snowden’s defense received enthusiastic applause, while the defenders of Washington’s spying operations, including a right-wing German journalist and a former US ambassador to Germany, were treated coolly or with outright derision.

Polls conducted in Germany have shown six out of ten surveyed expressing admiration for Snowden, with only 14 percent regarding him as a criminal. The public is evenly divided over whether he should be granted asylum in Germany. Anger over NSA spying on German telephone and Internet communications—including Chancellor Angela Merkel’s personal cell phone—is widespread.

In the interview, Snowden eloquently laid out the core questions of basic democratic rights posed by the massive NSA spying programs exposed in the documents he has made public.

“Every time you pick up the phone, dial a number, write an email, make a purchase, travel on the bus carrying a cell phone, swipe a card somewhere, you leave a trace and the government has decided that it’s a good idea to collect it all, everything, even if you’ve never been suspected of any crime,” he said.

Snowden went on to note that, while in the past intelligence agencies would identify a suspect through an investigation and then obtain a warrant for surveillance, “Nowadays what we see is they want to apply the totality of their powers in advance—prior to an investigation.”

The former NSA contractor told his interviewer that his “breaking point” in terms of deciding to make the NSA documents public came in March of last year, “seeing the Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, directly lie under oath to Congress” when he denied the existence of any programs gathering intelligence on millions of Americans. “Beyond that, it was the creeping realization that no one else was going to do this,” he added. “The public had a right to know about these programs. The public had a right to know that which the government is doing in its name, and that which the government is doing against the public.”

While Snowden stuck to his position of allowing journalists to determine what material to make public out of the estimated 1.7 million secret documents he took from the NSA, he did indicate that the agency was spying both on a wide range of German officials as well as carrying out industrial espionage against German corporations.

“If there’s information at Siemens [the German engineering and electronics conglomerate] that they think would be beneficial to the national interests, not the national security of the United States, they’ll go after that information and they’ll take it,” he said.

Snowden also answered the McCarthyite smears spread by politicians of both major parties and the media in attempting to brand him as a “traitor” or even a Russian spy.

Insisting that he acted alone and neither accepted nor required help from any foreign government, he stated: “If I am a traitor, who did I betray? I gave all of my information to the American public, to American journalists who are reporting on American issues. If they see that as treason I think people really need to consider who do they think they’re working for. The public is supposed to be their boss, not their enemy. Beyond that as far as my personal safety, I’ll never be fully safe until these systems have changed.”

Snowden insisted that what he had done was right, even though the government claims it was a crime, and that what the government is doing is a crime, even though it claims it is legal. He told his interviewer: “I think it’s clear that there are times where what is lawful is distinct from what is rightful. There are times throughout history and it doesn’t take long for either an American or a German to think about times in the history of their country where the law provided the government to do things which were not right.”

He added that, while he would welcome an opportunity to defend himself in open court, the Obama administration had no intention of allowing him to do so. Rather, it has charged him under the Espionage Act, whose terms would preclude his making any case to a jury that his actions were in the interest of the American people. “So it’s I would say illustrative that the president would choose to say someone should face the music, when he knows that the music is a show trial,” he said.

The near blackout of this interview by the US media is deliberate and highly conscious. From the outset of Snowden’s revelations last June, the media has lined up squarely behind the Obama administration, peddling the official lie that the mass domestic surveillance programs are justified by the “war on terror,” while joining in the vilification of Snowden as a traitor and possible Russian spy.

Prominent TV announcers like ABC’s George Stephanopoulos and NBC’s David Gregory have devoted airtime to arguing that not only Snowden, but even journalists reporting on the documents he has released, like Glenn Greenwald, should be jailed.

This form of “journalism” reflects the class interests of the giant corporations that control the mass media and of the capitalist system as a whole. Its coverage of the NSA revelations themselves has been abysmal, minimizing the significance of the mass domestic spying operations. It is significant that in the face of this media manipulation, Snowden enjoys powerful support within the American public, and hostility to the NSA spying has continued to grow since his revelations.

The media’s silencing of the German television interview has another, even more sinister implication. It wants to silence Snowden’s warnings about the threats against his life in order to facilitate the work of any death squad formed by the US government to make good on these threats.

Article link: http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2014/01/28/snow-j28.html

“World slams U.S. spying” – Snowden’s NSA exposures keep coming in 2014 [Workers World]

Posted in Assassination, Black propaganda, CIA, FBI, National Security Agency / NSA, NSA, Obama, State Department, US drone strikes, US Government Cover-up, US imperialism, USA, Vietnam, War crimes on January 31, 2014 by Zuo Shou / 左手

By Gene Clancy on January 30, 2014

Under increasing pressure and scrutiny from civil rights groups, public polls — and even their own imperialist allies — the National Security Agency, which has been carrying out massive programs of domestic spying, is beginning to show serious cracks in its armor of secrecy and criminality.

On Jan. 23, a special “independent” agency within the White House, the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, released a devastating critique of the NSA telephone metadata surveillance programs which systematically scoop up hundreds of millions of emails and store them, along with their contents. According to the 238-page report, the NSA program is unconstitutional and illegal, and should be shut down.

The action of the PCLOB happened not because this agency is really concerned about human rights.

Rather, it was the firestorm of criticism that has followed the revelations of Edward Snowden, the former NSA contractor who revealed the vast scope of spying by the agency. This firestorm has forced the PCLOB to act. Proof? The PCLOB, although established in 2004, never held a substantive hearing until late in 2013. (McClatchy DC, Nov. 14)

How did the Obama administration react? It tried to lessen the PCLOB report’s impact by announcing some “reforms” just days before its release. These “reforms” introduced what were called “safeguards,” but President Barack Obama pointedly defended the legality of the program and kept it in operation.

Obama’s ‘reforms’ won’t help

Meanwhile, a new USA Today/Pew Research Center Poll has found that most people in the U.S. now disapprove of the NSA’s sweeping collection of phone metadata. Most say there aren’t adequate limits in place to what the government can collect. By 73 percent to 21 percent, those who paid attention to Obama’s speech say his proposals won’t make much difference in protecting people’s privacy. (USA Today, Jan. 20)

Unlike other courageous whistleblowers such as Pvt. Chelsea Manning (formerly Bradley Manning), who were thrown into solitary confinement and tortured, Snowden was able to escape and has received temporary asylum in the Russian Federation. This has allowed him to continually release explosive information about the extent of U.S. spying on its own citizens and even some of its imperialist allies. He also can speak to the media worldwide and comment on the intelligence agencies’ impact on U.S. society.

On Jan. 23, Snowden answered reporters and other concerned people via Twitter about his own situation and the extent of illegal spying in the U.S.

“The biggest problem we face right now is the new technique of indiscriminate mass surveillance, where governments are seizing billions and billions and billions of innocents’ communication every single day. This is done not because it’s necessary — after all, these programs are unprecedented in U.S. history, and were begun in response to a threat that kills fewer Americans every year than bathtub falls and police officers — but because new technologies make it easy and cheap.

“I think a person should be able to dial a number, make a purchase, send an SMS, write an email or visit a website without having to think about what it’s going to look like on their permanent record. Particularly when we now have courts, reports from the federal government and even statements from Congress making it clear these programs haven’t made us any more safe, we need to push back.” (freesnowden.is, Jan. 23)

Snowden also slammed the egregious abuses of the NSA and referred to the PCLOB report which had come out the same day:

“When even the federal government says the NSA violated the Constitution at least 120 million times under a single program, but failed to discover even a single ‘plot,’ it’s time to end ‘bulk collection,’ which is a euphemism for mass surveillance.”

A sordid history

The developments within the NSA which have been exposed by Snowden are only the latest in a long history of such activities both within the United States and abroad.

Many people are aware of the Cointelpro program of the FBI, which conducted not only illegal spying and dirty tricks, but outright assassinations against members of the Black Panther Party, individuals such as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and groups and individuals opposing the Vietnam War during the 1960s and 1970s.

Less well-known are the activities carried out by such groups as the CIA and the NSA. According to U.S. law, the operations of these groups are supposed to be confined to overseas enemies.

In 1967, pressed by the Vietnam War and rebellions in many U.S cities, President Lyndon Johnson unleashed the CIA on his internal enemies. “In a blatant violation of his powers under law, the director of central intelligence became a part-time secret police chief. The CIA undertook a domestic surveillance operation, code-named Chaos. It went on for almost seven years.” (Tim Weiner, “Legacy of Ashes: The History of the CIA,” p.285 )

According to then Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, in a report to President Gerald Ford, “the CIA … spied on the left, wiretapped newspaper reporters, and placed them under surveillance, conducted illegal searches, and opened uncounted sacks of mail.” (Weiner, p. 337)

According to one history of the CIA, Kissinger “did not dare put in writing the contents of the ‘horrors book,’” which included documents about the many assassinations carried out by the CIA over many decades.

Lest anyone think that these outrages are vestiges of the past, the Obama administration has not only asserted its right to assassinate U.S. citizens in theory, but has exercised it in practice. In September 2011, the U.S. military killed U.S. citizen Anwar Awlaki in a drone strike in Yemen, along with U.S. citizen Samir Khan, and then, in circumstances that are still unexplained, two weeks later killed Awlaki’s 16-year-old son Abdulrahman with a separate drone strike in Yemen. (The Guardian, Feb. 5, 2013)

According to the legal brief defending these actions put out by the U.S. Justice Department, all the evidence against a victim cannot only be collected in secret, it remains forever secret and is not subject to any judicial oversight.

The long history of U.S. imperialism’s criminal spying and even murder may be nefarious, but it is not invulnerable, thanks to the courageous actions by individuals such as Manning and Snowden. Most important is the outrage and fightback of the masses of people both inside and outside the boundaries of the U.S.

Article link: http://www.workers.org/articles/2014/01/30/world-slams-u-s-spying/

Articles copyright 1995-2014 Workers World. Verbatim copying and distribution is permitted in any medium without royalty provided this notice is preserved.

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Also see related articles from World Socialist Website:

“Snowden defends his exposure of NSA’s mass spying in online chat”
http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2014/01/24/snow-j24.html

‘US officials “want to kill me,” warns Edward Snowden’ http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2014/01/27/snow-j27.html

Holiday fireworks lose their sparkle amid smog [China Daily]

Posted in Beijing, China, Environmental protection, Law enforcement, Qingdao on January 30, 2014 by Zuo Shou / 左手

2014-01-27
By Zheng Xin

Public enthusiasm for fireworks seems to be fizzling out in the face of concerns over air pollution, with many people posting online messages calling for restraint in celebrations during Spring Festival.

Posts are circulating on Chinese social media platforms, including Sina Weibo and WeChat, calling for people to scale back on the use of fireworks during the holiday, which runs from Jan 31 to Feb 6. Many have greeted the posts favorably.

“Fighting against sooty air is the responsibility of every resident,” said Peng Xiao, a 32-year-old resident in Beijing’s Chaoyang district. “You can’t blame the government for the air quality while making things worse yourself.”

Nor is it just air pollution, she said. Noise pollution is also a factor, as fireworks also set off car alarms.

However, others have pointed out that fireworks are an essential part of celebrating big events, like weddings and holidays…

…Setting off fireworks is an integral part of Chinese Lunar New Year celebrations, with the noise traditionally believed to ward off evil spirits and bad luck. However, with China suffering from heavy smog in recent years, the contribution of fireworks to air pollution has drawn widespread attention from the public and authorities.

A recent online survey on Sina Weibo showed that more than 60 percent of participants would be happy not to use fireworks during the holiday, while the remaining 40 percent were adamant that they will stick to the traditional methods of celebration.

Alternative ways to celebrate are being suggested.

The Beijing Consumer Association on Thursday urged residents to replace fireworks with flowers and electronic substitutes.

A statement issued by the association advised consumers to refrain from celebrations with fireworks and firecrackers or only use environmentally friendly products to avoid “rubbing salt into the wound” of the city’s already severe air pollution.

The city governments of Hefei, Qingdao, Shenzhen and many other cities have tried to persuade residents to give up fireworks during the holiday.

According to Beijing’s administration office for fireworks and firecrackers, the city has 515,000 boxes of fireworks in stock for this year’s festival, down from 710,000 boxes in 2013 and 810,000 in 2012. The number of retail outlets for firecrackers across the city has also been reduced by 13 percent.

Fireworks went on sale on Saturday (until Feb 14) but early indicators suggest that sales have been slow to take off.

“The public is not as enthusiastic as in the past because they are more aware of the importance of environmental protection and health,” said Song Yang, an official with the fireworks administration office.

A female seller in Chaoyang district surnamed Wang said that she was not sure she could sell all her merchandise…

…Fireworks are forbidden after Feb 14 this year within the fifth ring road, and violators will face a hefty fine, the city’s fireworks office said.

The office and the local public security bureau will also collect fireworks-related litter after the holiday to reduce hazards to the public.

Companies producing fireworks in the city have little reason to celebrate.

“We have reduced our inventories by 40 percent this year, and still we are not confident about the market,” said Wu Liyu, head of the Beijing Fireworks Co, a State-run company. “The market has shrunk significantly over the past few years.”

Pan Di, head of Panda Fireworks, one of the three major fireworks manufactures in the capital, said the company has some 250,000 boxes of fireworks in stock this year, a 20 percent reduction on last year.

The fireworks have even undergone modifications to make them more environmentally friendly.

“All the fireworks this year will have fewer paper scraps and emit less smoke, and 25 percent of them are free of sulfur and contain less heavy metal materials,” she said.

Another pollution-busting trend appears to be a preference for public firework displays rather than the use of fireworks by individuals and small groups.

“In the future, people might give up setting off fireworks themselves and resort to collective fireworks displays,” said Pan.

Feng Yongfeng, founder of the Green Beagles, a Beijing-based environmental protection NGO, said that despite the reduction of harmful materials, fireworks are still a polluting factor and a public nuisance.

“Fireworks, especially large ones, contain too much gunpowder and are too loud,” he said.

According to the city’s fireworks office, a ban on fireworks will be put into effect if the city issues “red” or “orange” air pollution alerts during the festival, signifying severe levels of air pollution.

The government will inform the public of the alerts through text messages and television and radio alerts.

Excerpted, full article link: http://usa.chinadaily.com.cn/2014-01/27/content_17259970.htm

NSA, GSHQ use Angry Birds, Google Maps apps to collect user data: report [Xinhua]

Posted in Google, National Security Agency / NSA, NSA, U.K., US Government Cover-up, USA on January 29, 2014 by Zuo Shou / 左手

I can’t bear to include White House spokesliar Jay Carney’s response, check it out yourself if you want a laugh. — Zuo Shou

WASHINGTON, Jan. 27 (Xinhua) — U.S. and British spy agencies are tapping popular smartphone apps such as Angry Birds and Google Maps to collect users’ personal information including location, age, sex and even sexual orientation, the New York Times reported Monday.

Citing previously undisclosed classified documents provided by former U.S. defense contractor Edward Snowden, the report said the National Security Agency (NSA) and its British counterpart, Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), were working together on how to collect and store data from “leaky” smartphone apps by 2007.

The agencies have traded methods for grabbing location and planning data when a target uses Google Maps, and for vacuuming up address books, buddy lists, phone logs and the geographic data embedded in photos when someone sends a post to the mobile versions of Facebook, Flickr, LinkedIn, Twitter and other services, said the newspaper.

Although the scale and the specifics of the data haul are not clear, the agencies routinely obtain information from certain apps, particularly some of those introduced earliest to cellphones, and also have a similar capability for some newer apps, including Angry Birds, the paper added.

Angry Birds, created by Rovio Entertainment of Finland, has been downloaded more than a billion times. The company drew public criticism in 2012 when researchers claimed that the app was tracking users’ locations and gathering other data and passing it to mobile ad companies.

Rovio, the maker of Angry Birds, told British newspaper The Guardian that it had no knowledge of any NSA or GCHQ programs looking to extract data from its apps users.

“Rovio doesn’t have any previous knowledge of this matter, and has not been aware of such activity in third party advertising networks,” said Saara Bergstrom, Rovio’s VP of marketing and communications. “Nor do we have any involvement with the organizations you mentioned (NSA and GCHQ).”

Some personal data could be particularly sensitive, and a secret 2012 British intelligence document said spies can scrub smartphone apps that contain details like a user’s “political alignment” and sexual orientation, according to the New York Times report.

Both NSA and GCHQ displayed a particular interest in Google Maps, which is accurate to within a few yards or better in some locations.

The agencies collected so much data from the app that “you’ll be able to clone Google’s database” of global searches for directions, a 2007 NSA report was quoted as saying, while a 2008 GCHQ [sic] said “it effectively means that anyone using Google Maps on a smartphone is working in support of a GCHQ system…”

Full article link: http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/world/2014-01/28/c_133078901.htm

Half of Afghan children suffer irreversible harm from malnutrition [Guardian]

Posted in Afghanistan, Genocide, NATO, NATO invasion, US imperialism, USA on January 28, 2014 by Zuo Shou / 左手

This is what NATO liberation looks like. Puppet Karzai is also damned by this. Compare the constant increase of opium production under NATO occupation with the concurrent increase in children’s malnutrition. – Zuo Shou

– Poor nutrition in first two years has permanent effect on growth and development, and could spell disaster for country –

Emma Graham-Harrison
26 January 2014

Afghanistan is raising a stunted generation whose hobbled development could spell disaster for the country’s feeble economy and undermine the impact of billions of dollars in aid poured into health, education and other areas…

Full article link: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jan/26/afghan-children-harm-malnutrition-growth-development

(c) Guardian News & Media Ltd