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Links 04 July 2013

McClatchy: Hints Surface That NSA [Is] Building Massive, Pervasive Surveillance Capability:

    “Despite U.S. intelligence officials’ repeated denials that the National Security Agency is collecting the content of domestic emails and phone calls, evidence is mounting that the agency’s vast surveillance network can and may already be preserving billions of those communications in powerful digital databases. …
    “The administration is building a facility in a valley south of Salt Lake City that will have the capacity to store massive amounts of records — a facility that former agency whistleblowers say has no logical purpose if it’s not going to be a vault holding years of phone and Internet data. …
    “‘What we are really talking about here is a globalized system that prevents any form of electronic communication from taking place without it being stored and monitored by the National Security Agency,’ [columnist Glenn] Greenwald said in a webcast to the Socialism Conference in Chicago. ‘It means they’re storing every call and have the capability to listen to them at any time.'”

Moon of Alabama: The Empire Against the World:

    “Why, do Germans and others ask, does the U.S. need to collect 6 billion (!) German communications each year? What is going on here? Even the Stasi would have settled for 600,000. …
    “But having pissed off major European partners is not enough for Obama. This is unprecedented:
      “‘The plane carrying Bolivian President Evo Morales was rerouted to Austria after various European countries refused to let it cross their airspace because of suspicions that NSA leaker Edward Snowden was on board, Bolivian officials said Tuesday. …
      “‘A furious Bolivian Foreign Minister David Choquehuanca said France and Portugal would have to explain why they canceled authorization for the plane, claiming that the decision had put the president’s life at risk. …
      “‘In a midnight press conference, Bolivian Vice President Alvaro Garcia…described Morales as being ‘kidnapped by imperialism’ in Europe.'”

Corrente: So Who, Exactly, Re-Routed Evo Morales’s Plane?

Craig Murray: All Law Is Gone, Naked Power Remains:

    “The forcing down of the Bolivian President’s jet was a clear breach of the Vienna Convention by Spain and Portugal, which closed their airspace to this Head of State while on a diplomatic mission. It has never been thought necessary to write down in a Treaty that Heads of State enjoy diplomatic immunity while engaged in diplomacy…. But it is a hitherto unchallenged precept of customary international law, indeed arguably the oldest provision of international law.
    “To the US and its allies, international law is no longer of any consequence. … I have repeatedly posted, and have been saying in public speeches for ten years, that under the UK/US intelligence sharing agreements the NSA spies on UK citizens and GCHQ spies on US citizens and they swap the information. As they use a shared technological infrastructure, the division is simply a fiction to get round the law in each country restricting those agencies from spying on their own citizens.
    “I have also frequently remarked how extraordinary it is that the media keep this ‘secret’ which they have all known for years.”

Ian Black, The Guardian: With This “Roadmap” Egypt Enters Risky Territory:

    “Egypt has entered a volatile and potentially dangerous new phase with the army moving swiftly and decisively against President Mohammed Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood to take control — though only temporarily — of the Arab world’s largest country. …
    “Morsi’s overthrow is a hammer blow for Egyptian Islamists who spent the long decades of authoritarian rule under Mubarak and his predecessors building up the Brotherhood organisation and dreaming of the day when they could take power. The worry must be that this experience will reinforce their sense of victimhood — that despite winning a free election they have been betrayed and prevented from exercising legitimate power. It clearly creates a dangerous precedent.”

Amira Nowaira: This Is Not a Coup, but the Will of Egypt’s People:

    “The most dangerous aspect of Brotherhood rule was probably its discourse of fear and loathing. In fact, Morsi wagging menacing fingers against Egyptians has become emblematic of his brief rule. Incitement against Copts, Shias and anyone who dared oppose him was rampant and unchecked. …
    “After an excruciating year of mismanagement, sectarian rhetoric and state violence, it is understandable that Egyptians should rise in full force against a regime that seemed to hold them hostage. Morsi has shown himself to be incapable of governing or even understanding the fundamentals of managing a modern state. What he succeeded in doing was to dispel any illusions that Egyptians might have had about the Muslim Brotherhood as a morally and spiritually superior faction….
    “Morsi and his supporters have argued that his overthrow was a violation of the legitimacy of the ballot box. In his last speech as president, Morsi repeated the word legitimacy over and over again. What he did not realise, however, was that the legitimacy of a ruler springs from popular consent.”

Issander El Amrani, Democrats vs. Liberals or Democrats vs. Republicans?

    “The dilemma facing Egypt is that it’s a limited, electoral democracy whereas many want it to be a republic. The difference being that in a republic the individual has guarantees in the context of a socio-political compact, whereas in a democracy the minority has little if any voice. Egypt is formally a republic, and has been since 1956, over several iterations of a compact…. It might have turned into a more democratic republic after 2011 except the new social compact was left to elections. Because elections are not very accurate indicators of national sentiment…and the voting public has still mostly few lasting allegiances in post-revolution Egypt, this was always a bad idea. A lot of people have changed their mind.
    “However Egypt comes out of this crisis, hopefully a republican pact — hopefully based around a bill of rights — will form a more stable base for its political system.”

Mother Jones: Morsi Is Out: Images from the Egyptian Leader’s Final 48 Hours in Power

Stephen Emmott: Humans — The Real Threat to Life on Earth:

    “If we discovered tomorrow that there was an asteroid on a collision course with Earth and – because physics is a fairly simple science – we were able to calculate that it was going to hit Earth on 3 June 2072…governments worldwide would marshal the entire planet into unprecedented action. Every scientist, engineer, university and business would be enlisted: half to find a way of stopping it, the other half to find a way for our species to survive and rebuild if the first option proved unsuccessful. . We are in almost precisely that situation now, except that there isn’t a specific date and there isn’t an asteroid. The problem is us. Why are we not doing more about the situation we’re in – given the scale of the problem and the urgency needed – I simply cannot understand. … The biggest and most important experiment on Earth is the one we’re all conducting, right now, on Earth itself. Only an idiot would deny that there is a limit to how many people our Earth can support. The question is, is it seven billion (our current population), 10 billion or 28 billion? I think we’ve already gone past it. Well past it.
    “Science is essentially organised scepticism. I spend my life trying to prove my work wrong or look for alternative explanations for my results. It’s called the Popperian condition of falsifiability. I hope I’m wrong. But the science points to my not being wrong. We can rightly call the situation we’re in an unprecedented emergency. We urgently need to do – and I mean actually do – something radical to avert a global catastrophe. But I don’t think we will. I think we’re fucked.”


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