Information Security for Journalists, Protecting your story, your source and yourself online
By Silkie Carlo and Arjen Kamphuis
About this book
This handbook is a very important practical tool for journalists and it is of particular importance to investigative reporters. For the first time journalists are now aware that virtually every electronic communication we make or receive is being recorded, stored and subject to analysis and action. As this surveillance is being conducted in secret, without scrutiny, transparency or any realistic form of accountability, our sources, our stories and our professional work itself is under threat. . . . (read on).
When the record is sorted out, it becomes even clearer the degree to which Western military is a rogue Government unto itself. The major Leakers leaked data that revealed the truth about wars and about “security”. Critical to the leakers is the Publisher. The rogue Government, the lucrative war machine, is not going to allow Julian Assange to disrupt their business.
Amid growing talk that the US, UK and Ecuador are about to make a move on Assange:
On September 8 and 9 whistleblower Chelsea Manning spoke to meetings attended by hundreds of people in Auckland and Wellington, New Zealand.
The Australian government denied entry to Manning, who had been scheduled to appear in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane. She defied this attack on free speech and freedom of movement by addressing Australian audiences via live video link.
New Zealand’s opposition National Party and sections of the media had demanded a similar ban. The Labour Party-led government, however, faced with widespread public support for Manning, allowed her to enter the country.
In 2010, Manning, then 22-years-old and a US army intelligence analyst, known as Bradley Manning, leaked hundreds of thousands of US military documents and embassy cables to WikiLeaks. This courageous action exposed war crimes carried out by US forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, including the murder of journalists and innocent civilians shown in the “Collateral Murder” video.
WSWS reporters attended the event in Wellington, where Manning began by talking about her difficult early life, including periods of homelessness as a teenager, followed by her decision to join the army. Her father had also been in the military.
Manning said she had not been anti-war before seeing the brutal reality of the US war in Iraq. After arriving there in late 2009 she explained, “I started to slowly realise, I’m not working with statistics. These are people’s lives… I processed everything that was happening over time and I couldn’t separate my job from the reality, I couldn’t do that anymore… We couldn’t keep doing what we were doing.” Manning decided to leak the military documents in early 2010 while on leave in the US.
She described the brutal conditions she experienced while being detained in solitary confinement, including in “a cage” on a military base. “I had no sense of time… I was completely cut off from the outside world,” she said. “I went two months without even knowing whether or not my family knew I was alive.” Eventually, after being court-martialed, she was sentenced to 35 years in prison.
Manning’s sentence was commuted by President Barack Obama and she was released in 2017, but not pardoned. She has spent seven years, most of her adult life, in prison.
“A lot of people want to focus on what I went through, but in the US there’s 2.2 million people in prison,” she said. She explained that those behind bars supported and “stood up for each other” and “the most violent people in prison were the prison guards.”
Asked if she felt she had got her life back after her unexpected release, Manning said she did not know. She pointed to the militarisation of every-day life in the US: “I have freedom of movement, that’s different from being in prison. But we’ve got razor-wire walls on the border now, we have police running around our neighbourhoods with AR-15s [assault rifles].
“The reason I was so bothered by what we were doing in Iraq was that we were the occupying force,” Manning continued. “I see that now, in the US, we’re our own occupying force; we have a domestic military occupation, especially in the most vulnerable communities. Trans people are disproportionately affected by that, so are people of colour and immigrants.”
Manning was interviewed for just over an hour by former Labour Party MP Georgina Beyer, the world’s first openly transgender parliamentarian, before taking questions from the audience.
Beyer criticised the Australian government’s decision to ban Manning from the country, saying “they suck up to the US.” She then admitted that New Zealand was also part of the US-led Five Eyes intelligence network.
In fact, Beyer herself was part of the 1999–2008 Labour government, which greatly strengthened New Zealand’s military and intelligence relations with the US and sent troops to Iraq and Afghanistan. NZ’s Special Air Service forces have been implicated in war crimes in Afghanistan.
The current Labour government of Jacinda Ardern has kept NZ forces in both countries and is further boosting military spending and collaboration with the US, including in the military build-up against China and North Korea.
At one point, Beyer said many people saw Manning as “a trans activist.” Manning replied that, while she cared about issues facing transgender people, “I’m not a trans activist. I’m just in solidarity with folks. I want to abolish ICE; I’m not an immigrant. Immigration and Customs Enforcement is a deportation taskforce that we have in the US, basically conducting ethnic cleansing. I’m an activist; I just happen to be trans.”
Manning elaborated that “different groups of people are dealing with different problems that are coming from the same source: the same military, police and intelligence apparatus, this gigantic whirling death machine that we’ve built over several decades… So what we can do is be in solidarity with each other, even though we’re affected in different ways.”
The United States, she continued, “has the largest military in the world. We spend $700 billion a year right now, up from only $550 a couple of years ago” along with the largest prison system and intelligence apparatus.
Manning answered numerous questions from audience members, many of whom thanked her for coming to New Zealand and expressed appreciation for her courage.
A WikiLeaks supporter in the audience asked if Manning was able to “speak up for Julian Assange,” who has spent six years confined inside the Ecuadorian Embassy in London to avoid extradition to the US and potential imprisonment, or worse, if found guilty of treason.
Manning answered evasively: “I don’t really know much about him or the case… I’ve heard so many things. And the things I do know about my own case, I can’t talk about because the court-martial’s classified. Even though I want to talk about stuff, I can’t, and it places me in an uncomfortable box.”
Following the publication of Manning’s leaks, WikiLeaks has been labelled a “hostile” organisation by Democrats and Republicans in the US. Its founder, Assange, has been persecuted and there are plans to imprison him for the “crime” of revealing US war crimes and anti-democratic operations throughout the world. In March, Ecuador’s government sought to appease Washington by cutting off Assange’s internet access, isolating him from the outside world.
Another audience member noted that millions have died due to US-led wars in the Middle East since 2001, yet virtually nothing is said in the media about “the horrors in Yemen, what’s happened in Raqqa [Syria], and Mosul [Iraq].”
Manning agreed that the population was kept in the dark: “You’re not supposed to know about it. It’s supposed to be so overwhelming and complex and unimaginable… that’s why it’s so hard to do activism against [war].”
Asked what she thought about the recent op-ed in the New York Times by an anonymous member of the “resistance” within the Trump administration, Manning replied: “It’s all a sideshow, in my opinion,” adding that “most people in America” did not care about “the palace intrigue” and “half the things that are being debated on television.
“You see people worried about issues in their community, and it’s stemming from the same systemic problem [as] 20 years ago.” The Trump administration, she said, was the outcome of “systemic problems” in the US.
Asked to elaborate on her recent decision to contest the Democratic Party’s primary campaign for the Maryland Senate seat, Manning said she wanted to use the campaign as a “platform… to talk about things that no other candidate in the entire Democratic Party was talking about or even suggesting. It was messy.”
At one point she and her campaign team discussed whether they should “try to win” through focus groups and “figure out what people want to hear, or do we want to stick to our principles?” They made a unanimous decision to stick to “the platform that we believed in,” including the abolition of ICE, rolling back prisons and stop arming the police with military weapons.
Manning explained that she would knock on peoples’ doors and “they would tell me their life story” and posed hard questions to which “I didn’t have answers, sometimes… I had really intense moments on people’s doorsteps.” Not knowing what to do, she said she often felt like hugging people. Following the campaign, Manning decided she could not see herself being a politician in the present system, but considered herself an activist.
Such comments reveal the basic fact that there is no way forward for the working class within the framework of the two-party system. The urgent need is for a socialist and internationalist political perspective to unite working people in the US and around the world.
Police have found the belongings of a missing associate of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange at sea in northern Norway more than three weeks after he disappeared.
Arjen Kamphuis, 47, has been missing since August 20, when he left his hotel in the northern Norwegian town of Bodoe, where he had been on holiday.
He had been due to fly home to Amsterdam two days later, but never made his flight.
The Dutch cybersecurity expert’s belongings were found by a man out fishing on Tuesday in an area to the east of Bodoe.
The objects were found near Kvaenflaget, some 30 miles east of Bodo, in the waters of a fjord. Police and emergency crews have now begun searching the water and land in the area.
WikiLeaks associate Arjen Kamphuis (pictured) has been missing since August 20, when he left his hotel in the northern Norwegian town of Bodoe, where he had been on holiday
Police confirmed the items ‘belong to the missing person’ but provided no details about them due to the ongoing investigation.
‘Due to the ongoing investigation the police do not at this time wish to release any information about which specific items that have been found,’ Norwegian police said in a statement on Wednesday.
Investigators searched the area with assistance from local Red Cross and a rescue vessel.
The disappearance, described as ‘strange’ by WikiLeaks, has sparked numerous conspiracy theories on social media.
WikiLeaks has previously said he had a ticket for a flight on August 22 departing from Trondheim, a town located more than 700km south of Bodo, but he did not board the plane.
‘The train between the two takes (approximately) 10 hours, suggesting he disappeared either in Bodo, Trondheim or on the train,’ the organisation tweeted.
Police are asking the public for any information about his movements in the area.
The Dutch cybersecurity expert’s belongings were found by a man out fishing on Tuesday in an area to the east of Bodoe. Pictured, a missing person’s poster about Kamphuis
They have previously said there was no indication as to whether Kamphuis was the victim of a criminal act.
Now, police said they were examining three theories: a voluntary disappearance including a possible suicide, an accident, or a crime.
‘We haven’t made enough progress in the case to be able to eliminate or confirm any of these three theories,’ inspector Bjarte Walla told AFP. ‘We are keeping all options open.’
A friend of Kamphuis, Ancilla van de Leest, told AFP there were ‘absolutely no signs he wanted to disappear.’
‘Quite the contrary, he made many plans, privately and professionally.’
According to investigators, the Dutchman is believed to have taken a train from Bodo to the town of Rognan on August 20.
The cybersecurity expert’s disappearance, described as ‘strange’ by WikiLeaks, has sparked numerous conspiracy theories on social media
Adding to the mystery, a phone linked to Kamphuis sent a signal in an area near the southwestern city of Stavanger, located 1,600km from Bodo, late on August 30, police said.
But they could not confirm if it was Kamphuis who had switched the phone on. German and Dutch SIM cards were used that day.
Two Dutch investigators have been in Norway since Monday to assist in the search for Kamphuis, who in photos circulating on social networks can be seen wearing glasses with half-long blond hair and a thin beard.
Van de Leest said the ties between Kamphuis and WikiLeaks have been ‘strongly overblown in the press.’
‘He helps organisations with infosecurity advice,’ his friend said.
Kamphuis is best known for his book titled Information Security for Journalists, which gives writers tips on how to keep their work safe from spying.
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange (pictured in May last year) has been holed up at Ecuadorian embassy in London since 2012
A website set up to gather information says: ‘He is 47 years old, 1.78 meters tall and has a normal posture. He was usually dressed in black and carrying his black backpack. He is an avid hiker.’
WikiLeaks was launched in 2006 as a web-based outlet for would-be leakers.
In July 2010, it released more than 90,000 classified U.S. military documents on the war in Afghanistan and before publishing 400,000 more secret U.S. files on the Iraq war.
The two leaks represented the largest security breaches of their kind in U.S. military history.
It followed these up with the release of 250,000 secret diplomatic cables from U.S. embassies around the world, angering U.S. politicians and military officials, who said the unauthorised dissemination would put lives at risk.
Assange, a founder of WikiLeaks, has been holed up at Ecuador’s embassy in London since 2012 when he was granted political asylum as he feared extradition to the United States to face trial over WikiLeaks’ publication of secret US military documents and diplomatic cables in 2010.
Arjen Kamphuis is a Digital Self Defence professional. Every day he helps people keep their secrets safe in the digital world. He has seen firsthand how government funded spying, hacking and security programs fall into the wrong hands and cause more harm than good. He argues that it is time we all start keeping ourselves safe by taking responsibility for our own digital defenses and letting go of the idea that we’re just not smart enough to adapt. Arjen Kamphuis studied Science at the University of Utrecht and worked for IBM and Twynstra Gudde as IT architect, trainer and IT strategy advisor. He is a certified IT auditor and Information Technology expert (CISA, CISM). Since 2002, Arjen works for himself and helps managers, leaders and organizations realize the consequences of technological innovations. He is also involved in the national IT policy with regards to open standards and open source in the public domain. Although Information Technology takes up most of his time, Arjen likes to also be involved in scenario planning and exploring future strategies. He researches together with his clients the possible social, economic and geo-political consequences relevant to science and technology. Arjen’s talk will be about the following: IT espionage costing our independence, our security and prosperity. We can create our own IT systems that are independent and secure. We just need to decide to commit our resources to making them. This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community. Learn more at https://www.ted.com/tedx
Like all elections, Sweden’s has produced a lot of numbers. One number has received more attention than all the rest: 17.6, the percentage of the vote that went to the rightwing, anti-immigrant, nationalist Sweden Democrats – their highest ever score, and enough to make forming a new government a very complicated job for the mainstream parties.
A few other numbers, however, deserve a closer look. The populists advanced by 4.7 percentage points, a strong performance by any standard but very far from the 12-point leap, to around 25%, that they themselves and many pollsters had predicted.
Meanwhile, three other parties – the ex-communist Left, the Centre party and the centre-right Christian Democrats – put on a total of 6.5 points. And the big established parties of the centre-left and centre-right, the Social Democrats and the Moderates, lost 6.3 points between them.
The real story of Sweden’s election is not, as the prevailing narrative has it, the irresistible onward march of Europe’s far right but the continuing decline of the major parties of government, the fragmentation of national votes and the rise of a number of smaller parties.
In a trend visible across Europe, the electoral base of the leading mainstream parties is shrinking. “The bigger parties are getting smaller and the smaller parties getting bigger,” said Sarah de Lange, a political scientist at the University of Amsterdam and a specialist in Europe’s radical right.
Across the continent, mainstream parties and alliances that once dominated national politics are in retreat, most notably on the left, making coalition-forming harder – even in countries, like Sweden, long used to coalition government – and producing weaker, potentially shorter-lived governments.
Sweden’s latest results in some respects even showed parallels with the Netherlands, De Lange said on Twitter. There, fragmentation has become extreme: since the 1980s the combined score of the three main Dutch centre-right and centre-left parties of government has halved, from 80% to 40%, and no fewer than 28 parties contested the last election, 13 of them winning seats.
Simon Hix, a professor of European and comparative politics at the London School of Economics, said: “For me, the biggest take-home from the Swedish election is not the further rise of populists but the stunning volatility and party system fragmentation: it’s the Dutchification of European politics.”
Across western Europe, from Germany to France and Italy to Austria, parties that have dominated their national political stages since the end of the second world war have lost votes or lost outright in recent elections, not just to nation-first populists, but to liberal, Green and anti-austerity parties, and even new centrist movements.
Sweden, it seems, for all its historic two-bloc system and apparently cast-iron political stability, is no exception. “The bottom line is that Sweden is another European country: a fractured political landscape with the extremes doing better, including a populist party to the right,” said Carl Bildt, the conservative former Swedish prime minister.
Alexander Stubb, a former Finnish prime minister, made the same point: “Sweden’s election result follows the pattern in western democracies,” he said. “An unclear result, complicated coalitions and the decline of mainstream parties.”
Sweden’s results also reveal another Europe-wide trend: increasing voter volatility. According to one post-election survey by the Swedish public broadcaster SVT, a remarkable 41% of Swedish voters said they had cast their ballot for a different party this time than in 2014.
Smaller and non-mainstream parties are poaching votes from the big parties on both sides of the left-right divide. Data shows the Sweden Democrats, for example, gained support in almost exactly equal measure from the centre-left Social Democrats and the centre-right Moderates.
Niklas Bolin, of Mid Sweden University, said Sweden’s system was still showing some resistance. “The Social Democrats achieved a terrible score by their historic standards,” he said, “but they still managed more than 28%” – far more than the main centre-left parties of, for example, the Netherlands or France.
But overall the picture is consistent. Does this matter? Yes, say analysts, because the flimsy coalitions and splintered legislatures that often emerge from fragmented systems make it harder to govern. “They require coalitions involving more parties, and parties with a wide range of stances,” said De Lange.
And that can make it harder for countries to adopt reforms, pursue controversial policies – such as welcoming refugees, a major factor for many voters in Sweden’s election – or play a decisive role on the international stage.
Canada is fortunate indeed to have a court system that produces rulings of the depth and quality of the Federal Court of Appeal’s judgment on the Trans Mountain Project. Covering 254 pages, it is clearly written, well informed, and thoughtful to the point of wisdom. In an era when democracy itself seems under siege it is reassuring to see a court standing firm and independent.
Any citizen who has engaged in consultations with public officials and been left feeling it was a waste of time could take consolation from this ruling. “Canada,” wrote the judges, “was required to engage in a considered, meaningful two-way dialogue” when consulting with Indigenous groups about the pipeline. Instead, federal officials provided “generic and vague” responses, “listening to and recording” concerns and then doing nothing with them.
“Notley and Kenney are each engaged in self-serving political theatre that changes none of the facts but sets a dangerous tone for Canadian politics.” #ableg #cdnpoli #TransMountainPipeline #climate
You can almost hear the government officials saying “Please tell us your concerns, we’d like to file them.”
The court gives a damning number of examples where specific concerns raised by various First Nations were not addressed. For example, “There is nothing in Canada’s response to show that Squamish’s concern about diluted bitumen was given real consideration or weight, and nothing to show any consideration was given to any meaningful and tangible accommodation or mitigation measures.” Note the repeated and unequivocal use of the word “nothing.” Judges do not write such words lightly.
The court also ruled that the National Energy Board’s decision not to address the risks of the large increase in tanker traffic was a fatal flaw in their approval. The NEB and cabinet cannot sidestep the fact that marine transportation is clearly part of the Trans Mountain Pipeline project, said the court.
In important ways it is Stephen Harper’s revenge on Trudeau and Notley. The consultation and permitting began while Harper was prime minister. Under his leadership both the civil service and the NEB were transformed into organizations designed to serve the oil industry, even if that involved sacrificing due process. That sacrificing has come back in this ruling to sharply bite Trudeau and Notley.
With the permits quashed, construction on the pipeline is now suspended indefinitely, and the political repercussions are volcanic. The oil industry and its allies have maneuvered Canada’s political and regulatory system into a corner, and our political leaders have no one to blame but themselves. The Notley government did not have to stake its life on the success or failure of this pipeline. It has run a reasonably competent and scandal-free administration through a tough economic downturn that is now recovering. By putting the oil industry above all else their other successes are completely overshadowed.
Similarly, no one forced the Trudeau government to buy Trans Mountain — they allowed themselves to be steered into that position by the oil industry and its allies.
In Alberta, where politics are defined by and for the oil industry, the anger with the ruling was instantly set to rapid boil. Premier Rachel Notley reacted with an angry and at times distorted statement and immediately pulled Alberta out of the federal climate change plan. Her main rival in next spring’s Alberta election, Jason Kenney, is travelling the country with messages of discord and division, using the stalled pipeline to inflame resentment and grievance in both his Alberta and national bases. (Perhaps he has more ambitions than he is admitting.) Notley and Kenney are each engaged in self-serving political theatre that changes none of the facts but sets a dangerous tone for Canadian politics.
Justin Trudeau is also weakened by the court ruling, almost entirely with self-inflicted wounds. Like Notley, he has failed to keep the oil industry at arms length, and his government’s decision to buy Trans Mountain looks more reckless every week. Trudeau has proven unable to choose between the interests of the oil industry on one hand and those of global warming and Indigenous peoples on the other. Now the choice is being forced on him and it looks like he, too, will fall in line for the oil industry, pushing through the pipeline no matter what. If he does, he will forever lose credibility on addressing both climate change and Indigenous relations.
This ruling seems certain to be appealed to the Supreme Court, and however that turns out it will shape Canada’s future. The three immense issues at its core will transform Canada in the next few decades: environmental protection; the rights of Indigenous peoples; and the transition away from fossil fuels. Canadians need to remember that the requirement to deal with environmental protection and Indigenous issues will be with us for lifetimes to come, while the oil industry will be fading into history within a couple of decades, crushed by the growing crisis of global warming.
Kevin Taft was Leader of the Opposition in Alberta from 2003 to 2008, and is author of Oil’s Deep State, published by Lorimer in 2017.
I (Kevin Taft) spent four years in the Alberta legislature with Rachel Notley, from 2008 to 2012. I liked and admired her and was delighted when she became premier in 2015. Today when I watch her on pipeline and oil issues I ask myself, what happened to the Rachel Notley I knew? And I wonder if the same thing will happen to John Horgan.
Before they formed government, Rachel Notley and the Alberta NDP were effective critics of the oil industry who called for higher royalties, solutions to global warming, and upgrading more bitumen in Alberta. In the political blink of an eye they became crusading champions for Texas-based corporation Kinder Morgan, which wants to expand its Trans Mountain pipeline to carry raw bitumen from Alberta to the port of Vancouver, to be shipped for processing abroad. The companies that extract Alberta’s bitumen are mostly foreign owned and pay as little as one per cent in royalties, and they have tens of billions of dollars in unfunded environmental liabilities at risk to taxpayers.
So how to explain Notley’s reversal? Let’s start by dispensing with some myths being spread by her, the media, and industry.
First, this is not about getting more royalties. Royalties are the price industry pays to buy the raw bitumen from its owner, the Alberta government. Alberta’s royalty rates were chopped to fire sale levels in 1997 by the Klein government and Notley has left them there. In 2016, for example, Syncrude had gross revenues of $3.4 billion and paid a mere $37 million in royalties, just over one per cent. The past two years the Alberta government earned more from liquor sales and gambling than from selling almost three million barrels of bitumen a day to big oil companies. It is a silent scandal Alberta’s NDP government refuses to address.
Second, building or blocking this pipeline is neither an economic bonanza nor an economic disaster for Alberta or Canada. Trans Mountain will reduce transportation costs for oil companies and open new markets for bitumen, but its capacity only covers about 12 per cent of Canada’s total oil production, and alternate pipeline projects are underway.
Third, this is not about creating long-term jobs, because pipelines take only a few people to operate and the oil industry is replacing people with technology everywhere it can. Neither is it about economic development: shipping raw material for processing in other countries is the model for colonies, not for fully developed economies.
So why is Rachel Notley throwing the country into political crisis?
The easy answer is that it improves her chances in next year’s election, but that glosses over this much deeper reality: Rachel Notley may be in office but the oil industry is in power. Wherever its interests are concerned the oil industry runs Alberta. To a lesser but significant degree the same thing applies in Ottawa.
Here is what I mean. Governments are made of many parts and in a healthy democracy these parts counterbalance one another. Opposition parties counterbalance governing parties; the courts counterbalance legislatures; regulators counterbalance industries, and so on.
Not so in Alberta, at least not when the interests of the oil industry are at stake. For decades the industry has spent millions of dollars targeting political parties on both sides of the legislature; civil servants; universities; think tanks; regulators; non-profit groups; the media; and more. The industry has formed a state within the state that I call “oil’s deep state.”
The 2016 conviction of Bruce Carson on charges of illegal lobbying relating to the oil industry exposed how oil’s deep state operates. Carson had been a close adviser to prime minister Stephen Harper. Material seized by police and presented in court showed the oil industry’s sweeping strategies and remarkably close relations with political leaders, top federal and provincial civil servants, and universities. In her verdict, the judge found it was “especially egregious” that the public “had no knowledge of what was transpiring behind the scene with ministers, deputy ministers, and other very senior officials in government, both federal and provincial” as the oil industry worked to shape national energy policy to meet its private commercial interest.
The oil industry takes what it calls a “whole of government approach,” a phrase that should chill the bones of anyone who cares for democracy. A July 2017 strategy document by the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP) made clear what a whole-of-government approach means for Alberta: a “steering committee” drawn from industry; the premier’s office; the ministries of energy, economic development, and environment; and the Alberta Energy Regulator, that “would provide government and industry oversight to…drive performance on key files.”
It’s a deliberate short-circuiting of democracy. Industry sits at the table with senior politicians, civil servants, and regulators (some of whom are already close allies of industry) to “provide oversight” on issues like environmental protection and Indigenous land claims. A more blatant display of corporate power in a modern democracy is hard to imagine, and the same CAPP document advocates a similar approach to the federal government. Industry is entitled to input on these issues, but not to oversight.
Will oil’s deep state gain control of B.C. and John Horgan? Vast sums of money and talent are being trained by industry at B.C. to get the Trans Mountain pipeline built. Intense meetings will be underway with MLAs of every party; civil servants will be invited to join steering committees with industry, or perhaps jump to richer positions in industry; grants will be dangled at universities and think tanks by oil-friendly interests; regulators will be pressed; reporters will be charmed; and chambers of commerce, service clubs, municipalities, and First Nations across the province will be pumped with sophisticated pro-oil-industry messages and encouraged to speak out as if on their own initiative. Meanwhile issues such as global warming, healthy economic development, and Indigenous land claims are further delayed.
This is a bitter situation for Canadians to face for the sake of a pipeline, but it’s reality when oil’s deep state runs governments.
Kevin Taft led the Alberta Liberal Party from 2003 to 2008. He is author of Oil’s Deep State, published by Lorimer in 2017.
The American Economic Hit Men (military-industrial-congressional complex), the bastards, have obviously taken back control of Ecuador.
My contribution to keeping former President Correa out of the jaws of the jackals is to help keep his story in public awareness.
If Correa is killed, the American propaganda machine will engage, as they have already tried – – painting him as a corrupt leader. Fortunately, Correa is well-loved by the Ecuadoreans, making things more difficult for the Americans and those they’ve corrupted.
Add to the list of South American leaders (excerpt from APPENDED) who were done away with, by the Americans, to suit American corporate interests:
president of Ecuador, Roldos “died in a fiery airplane crash.” Omar Torrijos (president, Panama) later “dropped from the sky in a gigantic fireball”. Both men assassinated in 1981. Roldos at the end of May, Torrijos less than three months later, with almost no reporting in the U.S.
Now, here was Correa, a candidate who openly invoked the memory of Jaime Roldos. . . . Correa said that he has been approached by EHMs (Economic Hit Men) and was very aware of the threat posed by jackals. . . .
In 1968, Texaco had only just discovered petroleum in Ecuador’s Amazon. . . .
It makes you sick what they did (documented in the APPENDED). And now Lenin Moreno’s government said the state is obliged to reverse a Constitutional Court ruling stating Chevron should pay for environmental damages.
– – – – – – – – — – – – –
And now to:
Correa Accuses Gov’t of US Pact After Chevron Ruling
Lenin Moreno’s government said the state is obliged to reverse a Constitutional Court ruling stating Chevron should pay for environmental damages.
Ecuador’s former president Rafael Correa has accused the government of past ally Lenin Moreno of “doing homework ordered by (the United States Vice President Mike) Pence” after Ecuador’s Solicitor General, Iñigo Salvador, said the country would have to pay economic reparations to oil giant Chevron, a company local courts ruled should pay US$9.5 billion for social and environmental damages.
“How well are they doing homework ordered by Pence! Julian Assange, International Monetary Fund austerity, a boycott of the Union of South American Nations (Unasur), exit form ALBA (Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America), a ‘security’ office with spy planes and Chevron. And it will continue. They want to be outstanding students,” Correa tweeted Friday.
Pablo Fajardo, a lawyer for the communities affected by Chevron’s actions, has also asked the Moreno government to answer similar accusations.
In 2006, Chevron sued Ecuador for violating a bilateral investment treaty with the U.S., which was signed in 1997, to avoid liability for environmental damage caused in an area where Texaco operated for three decades. However, the bilateral investment treaty was signed years after Texaco, bought by Chevron in 2001, finished its extractive operations in the country.
Ecuador’s former defense team argued the investment treaty couldn’t be applied retroactively and spent years defending itself and supporting the people affected by Chevron-Texaco. Correa government also led an international campaign known as the “Dirty Hand of Chevron” that aimed to raise public awareness of the environmental disaster Texaco left behind and mount pressure for a cleanup.
The ruling by the Permanent Arbitration Court in the Hague, Netherlands, announced by Salvador was not unusual. As Pablo Fajardo explained: “ the system of international arbitration is designed to protect corporations.”
What stirred controversy was the Ecuadorean government’s response to the court’s ruling. Salvador not only said the country will have to pay Chevron without announcing any actions against the ruling but also announced the state had the responsibility to nullify the US$9.5 billion ruling against Chevron and in favor of the affected communities, ratified earlier this year by the Constitutional Court, Ecuador highest court, which was suspended a week prior to the Chevron announcement.
The Ecuadorean government has also accepted an ordered to nullify a Constitutional Court ruling when there is no Constitutional Court to challenge the executive’s power.
Criticism of the government’s “passive” reaction was not limited to opposition groups and Correa supporters. Several ministers within Moreno’s cabinet and state institutions have issued statements in support of the Constitutional Court ruling and urging the state to continue defending the “national interest.”
Moreno’s education minister Fander Falconi said via Twitter: “Chevron’s grave harm against our people and ecosystem are obvious… We must condemn the ruling and those responsible, its contents threaten the right of the people of the Amazon.”
Moreno’s former minister of the environment Tarsicio Granizo said: “I think a campaign by the state against the ruling of The Hague is necessary to show the world the harm Chevron caused to the Amazon and its people.”
The Defensoria del Pueblo, or Office of the Ombudsman, urged the “national government to seek a solution that prioritizes the right of communities in the Amazon to integral reparations and restoration of nature.”
INSERT: Present day Ecuador. Rafael Correa, “a very different type of politician”, had emerged. Reminds Perkins of a former client, Jaime Roldos, who became President of Ecuador in 1979. From P. 152 “Roldos struck me as a man who walked the path blazed by Torrijos. (President of Panama, also a “client” of Perkins.) “Both stood up to the world’s strongest superpower. . . . Like Torrijos, Roldos was not a Communist but instead stood for the right of his country to determine its own destiny. And as they had with Torrijos, pundits predicted that big business and Washington would never tolerate Roldos as president – – that if elected he would meet a fate similar to that of Guatemala’s Arbenz or Chile’s Allende.
It seemed to me that the two men together might spearhead a new movement in Latin American politics and that this movement might form the foundation of changes that could affect every nation on the planet. These men were not Castros or Gadhafis. They were not associated with Russia or China or, as in Allende’s case, the international Socialist movement. They were popular, intelligent, charismatic leaders who were pragmatic rather than dogmatic. They were nationalistic but not anti-American. If corporatocracy was built by three sectorss – – major corporations, international banks, and colluding governments – – Roldos and Torrijos held out the possibility of removing the element of government collusion.
INSERT: Less than two years after his inauguration as president of Ecuador, Roldos “died in a fiery airplane crash.” Omar Torrijos (president, Panama) later “dropped from the sky in a gigantic fireball”. Both men assassinated in 1981. Roldos at the end of May, Torrijos less than three months later, with almost no reporting in the U.S.
Now, here was Correa, a candidate who openly invoked the memory of Jaime Roldos. . . . Correa said that he has been approached by EHMs and was very aware of the threat posed by jackals. . . .
In 1968, Texaco had only just discovered petroleum in Ecuador’s Amazon. Today, oil accounts for roughly half of the country’s export earnings. A trans-Andean pipeline, built shortly after my first visit, has since leaked more than half a million barrels of oil into the fragile rain forest – more than twice the amount spilled by the Exon Valdez. A $1.3 billion, three-hundred-mile pipeline constructed by an EHM-organized consortium had promised to make Ecuador one of the world’s top ten suppliers of oil to the United \States. Vast areas of rain forest had fallen, macaws and jaguars had all but vanished, three Ecuadorian indigenous cultures had been driven to the verge of collapse, and pristine rivers had been transformed into flaming cesspools.
INSERT: There was a fight back by indigenous nations. 2003 – American lawyers filed a lawsuit representing more than 30,000 Ecuadorians, …
P. 231 . . . a $1 billion lawsuit against Chevron Texaco asserting “that between 1971 and 1992 the oil giant dumped into open holes and rivers more than four million gallons per day of toxic wastewater contaminated with oil, heavy metals, and carcinogens, and that the company left behind nearly 350 uncovered waste pits that continue to kill both people and animals.” . . .
(A cement wall in the jungle) … This is the Agoyan hydroelectric project, which fuels the industries that make a handful of Ecuadorian families wealthy.
… Because of the way such projects were financed, by the time Correa decided to run for president, Ecuador was devoting a large share of its national budget to paying off its debts. The International Monetary Fund had assured Ecuador that the only way to end this cycle was by selling the vast sea of petroleum beneath its rain forests to the oil companies.
. . . Correa won with nearly 60% of the vote. . . . took office in 2007
. . . Correa refused to pay many of Ecuador’s debts, proclaiming that they had been signed by CIA-sponsored military dictators who had been bribed by EHMs (a fact I (i.e. Perkins) knew only too well was true). He closed the United States’ largest military base in Latin America, withdrew support for the CIA’s war on rebels in neighboring Columbia, ordered Ecuador’s central bank to divert to domestic funds that had been invested in the U.S., oversaw the rewriting of the constitution to make his country the first in the world to codify the inalienable rights of nature (a threat to the bottom lines of big business), and joined ALBA, an alternative to Washington’s plan to increase US hegemony through its Free Trade Area of the Americas.
But the most courageous of Correa’s actions was his renegotiation of oil contracts. He insisted that the companies could no longer base Ecuador’s share of oil revenues on “profits” – – an
P. 232: all-too-common arrangement between big oil and economically developing countries, which historically has cheated these countries through creative accounting. Instead, the oil would belong to Ecuador, and the companies could only collect a fee for each barrel they produced.
The EHMs were dispatched. They offered the president and his cronies bribes – – both legal and illegal – – if he’d just back off. He refused.
Then, Honduran president Manuel Zelaya fell to a jackal coup.
That coup had a huge impact on all of Latin America – and especially on President Correa.
INSERT: You will have to read the story of Zelaya in Honduras yourself! The role of the “School of the Americas” (School of the Assassins”) is discussed. And the misrepresentations of what happened, as written in mainstream American media.
“No matter how many toys we amass we leave them behind when we die, just as we leave a broken environment, an economy that only benefits the richest, and a legacy of . .
It must be hard for Joseph Stiglitz to remain an optimist in the face of the grim future he fears may be coming. The Nobel laureate and former chief economist at the World Bank has thought carefully about how artificial intelligence will affect our lives. On the back of the technology, we could build ourselves a richer society and perhaps enjoy a shorter working week, he says. But there are countless pitfalls to avoid on the way. The ones Stiglitz has in mind are hardly trivial. He worries about hamfisted moves that lead to routine exploitation in our daily lives, that leave society more divided than ever and threaten the fundamentals of democracy.
“Artificial intelligence and robotisation have the potential to increase the productivity of the economy and, in principle, that could make everybody better off,” he says. “But only if they are well managed.”
On 11 September, the Columbia University professor will be in London to deliver the latest lecture in the Royal Society’s You and AI series. Stiglitz will talk about the future of work, an area where predictions have been frequent, contradictory and unnerving. Last month, the Bank of England’s chief economist, Andy Haldane, warned that “large swathes” of Britain’s workforce face unemployment as AI and other technologies automate more jobs. He had less to say about the new positions AI may create. A report from PricewaterhouseCoopers in July argued that AI may create as many jobs as it destroys – perhaps even more. As with the Industrial Revolution, the misery would come not from a lack of work, but the difficulty in switching from one job to another.
A distinction Stiglitz makes is between AI that replaces workers and AI that helps people to do their jobs better. It already helps doctors to work more efficiently. At Addenbrooke’s hospital in Cambridge, for example, cancer consultants spend less time than they used to planning radiotherapy for men with prostate cancer, because an AI system called InnerEye automatically marks up the gland on the patients’ scans. The doctors process patients faster, the men start treatment sooner and the radiotherapy is delivered with more precision.
For other specialists, the technology is more of a threat. Well-trained AIs are now better at spotting breast tumours and other cancers than radiologists. Does that mean widespread unemployment for radiologists? It is not so straightforward, says Stiglitz. “Reading an MRI scan is only part of the job that person performs, but you can’t easily separate that task from the others.”
And yet some jobs may be fully replaced. Mostly these are low-skilled roles: truck drivers, cashiers, call centre workers and more. Again, though, Stiglitz sees reasons to be cautious about what that will mean for overall unemployment. There is a strong demand for unskilled workers in education, the health service and care for older people. “If we care about our children, if we care about our aged, if we care about the sick, we have ample room to spend more on those,” Stiglitz says. If AI takes over certain unskilled jobs, the blow could be softened by hiring more people into health, education and care work and paying them a decent wage, he says.
Stiglitz won the Nobel prize for economics in 2001 for his analyses of imperfect information in markets. A year later, he published Globalisation and Its Discontents, a book that laid bare his disillusion with the International Monetary Fund – the World Bank’s sister organisation – and, by extension, the US Treasury. Trade negotiations, he argued, were driven by multinationals at the expense of workers and ordinary citizens. “What I want to emphasise is that it is time to focus on the public-policy issues surrounding AI, because the concerns are a continuation of the concerns that globalisation and innovation have brought us. We were slow to grasp what they were doing and we shouldn’t make that mistake again.”
Beyond the impact of AI on work, Stiglitz sees more insidious forces at play. Armed with AI, tech firms can extract meaning from the data we hand over when we search, buy and message our friends. It is used ostensibly to deliver a more personalised service. That is one perspective. Another is that our data is used against us.
“These new tech giants are raising very deep issues about privacy and the ability to exploit ordinary people that were never present in earlier eras of monopoly power,” says Stiglitz. “Beforehand, you could raise the price. Now you can target particular individuals by exploiting their information.”
We’ve gone from a 60-hour working week to a 45-hour week and we could go to 30 or 25
It is the potential for datasets to be combined that most worries Stiglitz. For example, retailers can now track customers via their smartphones as they move around stores and can gather data on what catches their eye and which displays they walk straight past.
“In your interactions with Google, Facebook, Twitter and others, they gather an awful lot of data about you. If that data is combined with other data, then companies have a great deal of information about you as an individual – more information than you have on yourself,” he says.
“They know, for example, that people who search this way are willing to pay more. They know every store you’ve visited. That means that life is going to be increasingly unpleasant, because your decision to shop in a certain store may result in you paying more money. To the extent that people are aware of this game, it distorts their behaviour. What is clear is that it introduces a level of anxiety in everything we do and it increases inequality even more.”
Stiglitz poses a question that he suspects tech firms have faced internally. “Which is the easier way to make a buck: figuring out a better way to exploit somebody, or making a better product? With the new AI, it looks like the answer is finding a better way to exploit somebody.”
Grim revelations about how Russia turned to Facebook, Twitter and Google to interfere with the 2016 US election brought home how effectively people can be targeted with bespoke messages. Stiglitz is concerned that companies are using, or will use, similar tactics to exploit their customers, in particular those who are vulnerable, such as compulsive shoppers. “As opposed to a doctor who might help us manage our frailties, their objective is to take as much advantage of you as they can,” he says. “All the worst tendencies of the private sector in taking advantage of people are heightened by these new technologies.”
So far, Stiglitz argues, neither governments nor tech firms have done enough to prevent such abuses. “What we have now is totally inadequate,” he says. “There is nothing to circumscribe that kind of bad behaviour and we have enough evidence that there are people who are willing to do it, who have no moral compunction.”
In the US in particular, there has been a willingness to leave tech firms to thrash out decent rules of behaviour and adhere to them, Stiglitz believes. One of the many reasons is that the complexity of the technology can make it intimidating. “It overwhelms a lot of people and their response is: ‘We can’t do it, the government can’t do it, we have to leave it to the tech giants.’”
But Stiglitz thinks that view is changing. There is a growing awareness of how companies can use data to target customers, he believes. “Initially, a lot of young people took the view that I have nothing to hide: if you behave well, what are you afraid of? People thought: ‘What harm is there to it?’ And now they realise there can be a lot of harm. I think a large fraction of Americans no longer give the tech firms the benefit of the doubt.”
So, how do we get back on track? The measures Stiglitz proposes are broad and it is hard to see how they could be brought in swiftly. The regulatory structure has to be decided publicly, he says. This would include what data the tech firms can store; what data they can use; whether they can merge different datasets; the purposes for which they can use that data; and what degree of transparency they must provide about what they do with the data. “These are all issues that have to be decided,” he says. “You can’t allow the tech giants to do it. It has to be done publicly with an awareness of the danger that the tech firms represent.”
Fresh policies are needed to curb monopoly powers and redistribute the immense wealth that is concentrated in the leading AI firms, he adds. This month, Amazon became the second company, after Apple, to reach a market valuation of $1tn. The pair are now worth more than the top 10 oil companies combined. “When you have so much wealth concentrated in the hands of relatively few, you have a more unequal society and that is bad for our democracy,” says Stiglitz.
Taxes are not enough. To Stiglitz, this is about labour bargaining power, intellectual property rights, redefining and enforcing competition laws, corporate governance laws and the way the financial system operates. “It’s a much broader agenda than just redistribution,” he says.
He is not a fan of universal basic income, a proposal under which everyone receives a no-strings handout to cover the costs of living. Advocates argue that, as tech firms gather ever more wealth, UBI could help to redistribute the proceeds and ensure that everyone benefits. But, to Stiglitz, UBI is a cop-out. He does not believe it is what most people want.
“If we don’t change our overall economic and policy framework, what we’re going towards is greater wage inequality, greater income and wealth inequality and probably more unemployment and a more divided society. But none of this is inevitable,” he says. “By changing the rules, we could wind up with a richer society, with the fruits more equally divided, and quite possibly where people have a shorter working week. We’ve gone from a 60-hour working week to a 45-hour week and we could go to 30 or 25.”
None of this will happen overnight, he warns. A more robust public debate around AI and work is needed to throw up new ideas, for a start. “Silicon Valley may hire a disproportionate fraction [of people who work in AI], but it may not take that many people to figure it out, including people from Silicon Valley who have become disgruntled with what has been going on,” he says. “People will, and have already begun to, think about new ideas. There will be people with skills who try to work out solutions.”