TBR News November 22, 2014

Nov 21 2014

The Voice of the White House


          Washington, D. C. November 21, 2014: “This childish tit for tat between Washington and Moscow could eventually escalate into something more serious than name-calling and pouting. The United States in general and Obama in particular are living in a delusional world where the United States reigns supreme. It does not and serious trade rivals are cropping up on a monthly basis. Obama is furious that Putin refuses to pack Edward Snowden up in a box and ship him back to Washington when Obama demanded it. The American oligarchs are outraged that Russia is now the world’s top oil producer and are determined to force Putin out of office and get de facto control of Russian natural resources. And the shrill pipings of the discredited neo-cons are heard harkening back to the long-dead Cold War. And the business in the Crimea has its roots in the so-called self-determination of peoples that the deluded and idealistic Woodrow Wilson forced on the world after the First World War. In short, it is acceptable and even necessary if we do it but wrong and vicious if they do it. Not only do American politicians have small brains, they also have very short memories.”


Russia warns US not to arm Ukrainian forces against pro-Russian rebels

Moscow hits back at US official’s suggestion as vice-president Joe Biden arrives in Ukrainian capital Kiev for talks

November 20, 2014



Russia has warned the United States against supplying arms to Ukrainian forces fighting pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine, hours before US vice-president Joe Biden was due to arrive in Kiev on Thursday.

Ukraine accused Vladimir Putin of treating its territory like a “playing field“, trying to unleash a full-scale war that would pose a broader threat to Nato countries.

Russian foreign ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said in Moscow that a US official’s suggestion Washington should consider sending arms to Ukraine, where pro-Russian rebels have been fighting government forces since April, sent a “very serious signal“.

Lukashevich cautioned against “a major change in policy of the (US) administration in regard to the conflict” in Ukraine.

“That (would be) a direct violation of agreements reached, including (agreements reached) with the participation of the United States,” he said.

The United States backs Kiev in its struggle against the pro-Russian separatists in two eastern regions and has imposed sanctions on Russia over its policies.

In Washington, State Department spokesman Jeffrey Rathke said the United States is “continuing to assess how best to support Ukraine” and “nothing is off the table” including lethal aid. “I think if we’re talking about destabilization, we have to start with Russia’s actions and the separatists that are backed by Russia,” Rathke added.

Moscow supports the separatists but denies it is backing the rebels with arms and troops in a conflict which the United Nations says has killed more than 4,300 since mid-April.

The UN said the death rate in the conflict had grown in the past eight weeks despite a ceasefire underpinned by the Minsk Accord, signed on September 5 by Russia, Ukraine and rebels from the Ukrainian separatist regions of Donetsk and Luhansk.

Swiss diplomat Heidi Tagliavini, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s envoy to a Trilateral Contact Group on Ukraine, cited reports of new military buildup. “The outlook is still bleak,” she said.

Barack Obama’s choice to fill the number two spot at the State Department, Anthony Blinken, told a congressional hearing on Wednesday:

“I believe that, given the serious Russian violations of the agreement that they signed…that one thing that could hopefully get them to think twice and deter them from further action is strengthening the capacity of the Ukrainian forces, including with defensive lethal equipment.“

Blinken said he was sure provision of lethal assistance would come up for discussion during Biden’s visit to Kiev.

Ukrainian prime minister Arseny Yatseniuk said the west and Ukraine had a common interest in preventing a large-scale war.

“Putin’s actions are a threat to everyone, the global order, global peace, a direct threat to the EU and Nato member countries,” he told a news conference.


Saudi oil policy uncertainty unleashes the conspiracy theorists

November 19, 2014

by Dmitry Zhdannikov and Alex Lawler


 LONDON – If Saudi Oil Minister Ali al Naimi wants to stop conspiracy theories spreading before a crucial OPEC meeting next week, it’s too late.

Naimi’s intervention last week after a two-month silence failed to address a question energy markets want answered: is the OPEC leader no longer willing to defend oil prices which have dived by a third to their lowest since 2010, and is it pursuing new commercial or even geopolitical goals?

Despite Naimi’s insistence that Riyadh wants stable markets, diplomatic and market sources say Saudi officials told recent private briefings that the kingdom can live for some time with current, or even lower, levels.

Reading Saudi oil policies has long been like Kremlinology – understanding the politics of that other secretive power, Russia. The next OPEC meeting on Nov. 27 is taking this art to a new, higher level.

A number of explanations have been offered to fill the information vacuum on Riyadh’s intentions and they aren’t all from the usual conspiracy theorists in Russia and Iran, which are at loggerheads with the kingdom.

Oil market watchers are divided on the outcome of the meeting in Vienna. Predictions range from a large OPEC production cut to revive prices through a small cut to none at all.

Even those who have known Naimi for decades are puzzled. “For the first time, I really do not know what is likely to happen at the meeting. It is not clear,” said a long-serving senior OPEC delegate.

When Naimi finally spoke on Nov. 12, he said Riyadh’s desire for stable markets had not changed. “Saudi oil policy… have been subject a great deal of wild and inaccurate conjecture in recent weeks. We do not seek to politicize oil … For us it’s a question of supply and demand, it’s purely business,” he said.

According to four market and diplomatic sources, who asked not to be named, Saudi officials briefed OPEC watchers privately in New York and Riyadh in September and October.

Nasser al-Dossary, Saudi Arabia’s national representative to OPEC, Naimi’s deputy Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman and the kingdom’s OPEC governor Mohammed Al-Madhi attended at least one of these meeting to give the message that, with its large currency reserves, the kingdom was prepared to withstand oil prices as low as $70-$80 per barrel for up to a year.

Benchmark Brent crude oil slipped to $79 on Tuesday.

Most members of the cartel apart from Saudi Arabia need much higher prices to balance their budgets but ironically are unable or unwilling to reduce their output to counter a global glut caused by slowing economic growth in China and Europe, just as U.S. oil production booms.


Should the Saudis tell fellow OPEC members, badly suffering from the oil price collapse, that they will not cut output, debate will intensify on what prompted the policy shift.

One possibility is Riyadh wants to see off U.S. shale oil, which is believed to need much higher prices than conventional production to remain competitive. “They are after U.S. shale,” said one participant in the meetings with Saudi officials.

However, the source added that the Saudis might also regard low prices as an opportunity to put even more pressure on Iran and Russia for supporting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, an arch-enemy of Riyadh, in the country’s civil war.

Several Saudi oil sources have denied over the past month that geopolitics are now driving the policy, but they have failed to stifle theories that Riyadh and Washington are working together to hold down prices.

“What is the reason for the United States and some U.S. allies wanting to drive down the price of oil? To harm Russia,” Nicolas Maduro, president of fellow OPEC member Venezuela, said last month.

Masoud Mirkazemi, an Iranian lawmaker and former oil minister, said Riyadh was helping the G20 group of major economies. “Saudi Arabia, which intends to manage OPEC, serves the interests of the G20 group,” he said.


In Russia, the idea of a Saudi-U.S. plot against Moscow has become common currency as the economy struggles under the effects of low oil prices and Western sanctions imposed over its annexation of Crimea and support for rebels in eastern Ukraine.

Leonid Fedun, a co-owner of private oil firm Lukoil, cited President Barack Obama’s visit to Riyadh in March. “Obama traveled to meet the king of Saudi Arabia just after the Crimea events to push him to these actions (to lower the oil price),” Fedun, whose firm has large U.S. assets, said last month.

Russia and Iran routinely allege U.S. plots against their economies, but the conspiracy theories are spreading.

“Is it just my imagination or is there a global oil war underway pitting the United States and Saudi Arabia on one side against Russia and Iran on the other?” New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, wrote last month.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry sidestepped the issue after a trip to Saudi Arabia in September. Asked if past discussions with Riyadh had touched on Russia’s need for oil above $100 to balance its budget, he smiled and said: “They (Saudis) are very, very well aware of their ability to have an impact on global oil prices.”

(Additional reporting by Vladimir Soldatkin, Katya Golubkova, Jason Szep and Rania El Gamal; editing by David Stamp)


US child homelessness at all-time high

November 19, 2014


In the United States, one child in every 30 – or 2.5 million children – was homeless in 2013, marking an all-time high, according to a new comprehensive report that blames the country’s high poverty rate and lack of affordable housing, among other causes.

The report, ‘America’s Youngest Outcasts,’ released by the National Center on Family Homelessness was prepared using the “most recent federal data that comprehensively counts homeless children, using more than 30 variables from over a dozen established data sets.”

The 2.5 million figure is based on the US Department of Education’s count of 1.3 million homeless children in public schools, and estimates of homeless preschool children left out of DOE data.

The National Center on Family Homelessness – part of the private, nonprofit American Institutes for Research – said the top causes of youth homelessness include America’s high poverty rate; lack of affordable housing across the US; the lingering ramifications of the Great Recession; racial disparities; high rates of and challenges that come with single parenting; and the manner in which trauma, especially domestic violence, “precede and prolong homelessness for families.”

From 2012 to 2013, child homelessness in the US went up by eight percent overall, as 31 states and the District of Columbia had increases, according to the report.

“The impact of homelessness on the children, especially young children, is devastating and may lead to changes in brain architecture that can interfere with learning, emotional self- regulation, cognitive skills, and social relationships,” the report stated. “The unrelenting stress experienced by the parents, most of whom are women parenting alone, may contribute to residential instability, unemployment, ineffective parenting, and poor health.”

Carmela DeCandia, director of the National Center on Family Homelessness and co-author of the report, said that the federal government has not made the same progress in reducing child homelessness as it has in combating homelessness among veterans and long-term homeless adults.

“The same level of attention and resources has not been targeted to help families and children,” she told AP. “As a society, we’re going to pay a high price, in human and economic terms.”

With 527,000 homeless children last year, California accounted for more than one-fifth of the overall tally.

The Golden State was third-worst in overall rankings for child homelessness in the US. Only Alabama and Mississippi, respectively, were ranked lower. The rankings were based on the extent of child homelessness in the state; risk factors for child homelessness, i.e. home foreclosure rates, poverty, lack of health insurance, and other economic factors; child well-being; and state policy and planning initiatives.

Minnesota, Nebraska, and Massachusetts ranked highest based on those measurements.

Shahera Hyatt, director of the California Homeless Youth Project and a former homeless youth herself, told AP she was not surprised by her states’ dismal ranking and high number of homeless kids. “These terms like ‘couch surfing’ and ‘doubled-up’ sound a lot more polite than they are in practice,” she said. “For teenagers, it might be exchanging sex for a place to stay or staying someplace that does not feel safe because they are so mired in their day-to-day survival needs.” The report said solutions to youth homelessness must include more affordable housing, education and employment opportunities for homeless parents, and special services for mothers forced into homelessness due to domestic violence. “Without decisive action and the allocation of sufficient resources, the nation will fail to reach the stated federal goal of ending family homelessness by 2020, and child homelessness may result in a permanent Third World in America,” the report concluded.

Advocates are also pushing the federal government to better account for child homelessness in the US. The new report used Department of Education figures, which include homeless families temporarily staying in motels or with other families or relatives. The US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), meanwhile, only conducts an annual one-day tally of homeless people in shelters, parks, underpasses, vacant lots, and the like. HUD’s latest count, for just one night in January 2013, came to 610,042 homeless people, including 130,515 children. Critics say HUD’s method drastically underestimates child homelessness, thus negatively impacting potential solutions to the problem. “Fixing the problem starts with adopting an honest definition,” said Bruce Lesley, president of the nonprofit First Focus Campaign for Children, according to AP. “Right now, these kids are sort of left out there by themselves.” Lesley’s group and others have pushed a bill with bipartisan support in Congress that would push HUD to account for homelessness more like the DOE. Yet, the bill does not address increased spending for initiatives that would combat the problem. “It’s often one family living in extreme poverty going to live with another family that was already in extreme poverty,” Hyatt said. “Kids have slept in closets and kitchens and bathrooms and other parts of the house that have not been meant for sleeping.”

Bundesnachrichten Codewords and Nicknames


– ADLERHORST – Covername for a BND site in Düsseldorf *

– AIDA – Proposed program to create more focussed database searches through improved algorithms; part of the SIT program *

– ALLIANCE – Proposed 9 million euro project to establish a joint center with another European intelligence agency *

– ALPENBLICK – Covername for a BND site in Hannover *

– AVUS – Covername for a BND site in Berlin *


– BERGFRIED – Covername for a BND site in Berlin *

– BLAU – German army SIGINT batallion intercept site and parallel HFDF station at Donauwörth *

– BURG-ZINNE – Covername for a HBW unit in Nuremburg *


– CHARITE-RAUTE – Covername for a BND site in Munich *

– CHIEMSEE – Covername for a BND site in Bonn *

– CONCORDIA – Military eavesdropping operations conducted by the Bundeswehr (in 1972 combined with KOLCHOSE) *


– DACAPO – Listening post outside the town of Krailling (closed in 1994) *

– DREHPUNKT – Covername for the HFDF system at the US Army field station in Augsburg *


– EIBSEE – Covername for a BND site in Stuttgart *

– EIKONAL – Joint NSA-BND operation for tapping fiber optic cables of a telecommunications provider in Frankfurt (tested 2003-2005, ended in 2008); part of NSA’s RAMPART-A program; internal BND codename: KARAT (or GRANAT?) *


– FABRIK – Covername for a BND site in Berlin *

– FALKENHOF – Covername for a BND site in Mainz *

– FASANERIE – Covername for a BND site in Hamburg *

– FICHTENWALD – Covername for a BND site in Berlin *

– FOHLENHOF – Covername for a BND site in Munich *


– GEWÖLBE – Covername for a HBW unit in Friedland *

– GIPFELKREUZ – SIGINT intercept tower along the former border with East-Germany *

– GRAU – (former) ANBw SIGINT collection effort *

– GRÜN – German army SIGINT batallion intercept site and parallel HFDF station at Frankenberg *


– HERMELIN – Covername for a BND site in Hamburg *

– HERMOS – Joint NSA-BND operation to tap communication cables in a crisis zone country; part of NSA’s RAMPART-A program (2012)

– HUMMER – Codename for intelligence reports from specific SIGINT collection operations or systems *


– INSTITUT – Covername for a BND site in Bonn *


– KARAT – Internal BND codename for operation EIKONAL *

– KIEL – Covername for a BND site in Hamburg *

– KLAUSE – Covername for a BND site in Grünwald *

– KLEEFELD – Covername for a BND site in Söcking *

– KOLCHOSE – Military eavesdropping operations conducted by the Bundeswehr (in 1972 combined with CONCORDIA) *

– KOMTESSE – BND codename for the proposed Wullenweber antenna system of the Bundeswehr near Flensburg *


– LAFETTE – Covername for a BND site in Mainz *

– LANDGRAF – Covername for a BND site in Bonn *

– LAUS – Program for intercepting East German political communications over point-to-point radio systems (1970s) *

– LEINE – Covername for a BND site in Hannover *

– LERCHE – (former) SIGINT collection system *


– MARSTALL – Covername for a BND site in Geilenkirchen *

– MIKADO II – Covername for a BND site in Munich *

– MIRA4 – System for analysing (telephony) content (in 2010 replaced by INBE) *

– MÜHLBERG – Covername for a BND depot in Schleissheim *


– NACHERNTE – Military operation intercepting radio traffic in Czechoslovakia (1970s) *

– NARZISSE – Codename for French intelligence services

– NIKOLAUS – Covername for the former BND headquarters in Pullach *

– NITIDEZZA – Proposed 4,5 million euro BND program for buying zero-day exploits for access to encrypted signals between 2015-2020; part of the SIT program *


– OLYMP – Covername for a BND site in Munich *

– ORION – Joint NSA-BND operation against targets “outside NATO’s eastern border” (2005) *

– ORLOG – BND operation for intercepting air-to-air and air-to-ground radio traffic of Soviet aircraft (early 1970s) *


– PALAIS – Covername for a BND site in Berlin *

– PALMENHAUS – Covername for a BND site in Berlin *

– PHOENIX – Covername for a BND site in Düsseldorf *

– PLANET – BND site in the Munich suburb of Stockdorf *


– REFEKTORIUM – Covername for a BND site in Hamburg *

– REFUGIUM – Covername for a BND site in Tutzing *

– REINGEWINN – Codename for intelligence reports from specific SIGINT collection operations or systems *

– REITSTALL – Covername for a BND site in Guselried *

– ROMAN – Military program for intercepting East German military communications (1970s) *

– RÖMERSCHANZE – Covername for a BND site in Cologne *

– ROT – German army SIGINT batallion intercept site and parallel HFDF station at Rotenburg/Wümme *


– SANATORIUM – Covername for a BND site in Munich *

– SCHÖNBRUNN – Covername for a BND site in Munich *

– SCHWARZ – German army SIGINT processing analysis site near the village of Daun *

– SEELACHS – Codename for intelligence reports from specific SIGINT collection operations or systems *

– SPINNE – Military program for intercepting East German military communications *

– STELLWERK – Initial codename of the BND SIGINT operations center in the Munich suburb of Stockdorf *

– STIMMGABEL – Codename for intelligence reports from specific SIGINT collection operations or systems *

– SUSANNE – (former) SIGINT collection system *

– SYMPHONIE – Covername for a BND site in Munich *


– TAMBURIN – Codename for intelligence reports from specific SIGINT collection operations or systems *

– TANNENHOF – Covername for a BND site in Munich *

– TATTERSALL – Covername for a BND site in Berlin *

– TIAMAT – Joint NSA-BND operation to tap communication cables for access to high-level international targets; part of NSA’s RAMPART-A program (ended before 2013)

– TORPEDO – Covername for a BND site in Munich *


– WARENLAGER – Covername for a BND site in Mainz *

– WEIDE – German army Direction-Finding site V in Übersee/Chiemsee (1988-1992) *

– WHARPDRIVE – Joint NSA-BND operation to tap communication cables operated by a private company; part of NSA’s RAMPART-A program (2013) *

– WINZER – German army Direction-Finding site III in Mainz-Schwabenheim (est. 1988) *


– ZITRONE – German army Direction-Finding site II in Diepholz (est. 1988) *

– ZUGVOGEL – Division of labor agreement between BND and the Bundeswehr (1969) *


Abbreviations and Acronyms


AFmBw – Amt für Fernmeldewesen der Bundeswehr

AMK – Amt für MilitärKunde (cover agency for military BND employees)

ANBw – Amt für Nachrichtenwesen der Bundeswehr (military SIGINT center, est. 1978)

AND – Ausländischer NachrichtenDienst (“foreign intelligence agency”)


BDSG – BundesDatenSchutzGesetz

BfDI – Bundesbeauftragten für Datenschutz und Informationsfreiheit

BfV – Bundesamt für Verfassungsschutz (domestic security service)

BND – BundesNachrichtenDienst (foreign intelligence service)

BSI – Bundesamt für Sicherheit in der Informationstechnik (federal information assurance agency)

Bw – Bundeswehr (German armed forces)


CGG – Combined Group Germany (NSA/GCHQ liaison office in Munich)


DAFIS – DAtenFIlterSystem? (filters out communications of German citizens, used since ca. 2005) *


EA – Einsatzgebiete/Auslandsbeziehungen (BND division: Areas of Operation & Foreign Liaison)

EASD – EchtzeitAnalyse von StreamingDaten (proposed program for the automated analysis of open source information from social media platforms, 2014) *

ELOKA – ELektronische KAmpfführung (German army electronic warfare battalions, est. 1994) *


G-10 – Grundgesetz, Artikel 10 (section 10 of the German constitution)

Geh. – Geheim, auch: Stufe I (classification level Secret)

GL – Abteilung GesamtLage (BND division: Situation Centre)


H – Horchposten (listening station)

HBW – Hauptstelle für BefragungsWesen (unit for interrogating refugees)

HFDF – High-Frequency Direction-Finding

HiROS – High Resolution Optical System (proposed spy satellite system)


INBE – INhaltliche BEarbeitung (tool for analysing content; succeeded MIRA4 in 2010)*

IT – InformationsTechnik (BND division)


JAC – Joint Analysis Center (joint NSA-BND unit in Bad Aibling, closed in 2011)

JSA – Joint SIGINT Activity (joint NSA-BND unit in Bad Aibling, closed in 2012)


KSA – Kommando Strategische Aufklärung


LA – Regionale Auswertung und Beschaffung A (BND division for region A)

LB – Regionale Auswertung und Beschaffung B (BND division for region B)

LVP – LiegenschaftsVerwaltung Pullach (real estate management Pullach)


MAD – Militärischer AbschirmDienst (military security service)


NSAUA – NSA UntersuchungsAusschuss (temporary parliamentary investigation committee on NSA spying activities)


PBDB – PersonenBezogene DatenBestände *

PKGr – Parlamentarisches KontrollGremium (permanent parliamentary oversight committee)

PUA – Parlamentarischer UntersuchungsAusschuss (parliamentary investigative committee)


SI – Eigensicherung (BND division for Internal Security)

SIT – Strategische Initiative Technik (300 million euro technical modernization program)

SSCD – SIGINT Support to Cyber Defense (multilateral cyber defense initiative) *

Str. Geh. – Streng Geheim, auch: Stufe II (classification level Top Secret)

SUSLAG – Special US Liaison Advisor, Germany (NSA representative at BND)

SWOP – SWitch-OPerationen (proposed program to get access to foreign internet providers, 2014) *


TA – Technische Aufklärung (BND division: Signals Intelligence)

TE – Internationaler Terrorismus und Internationale Organisierte Kriminalität (BND division for Terrorism and International Organised Crime)

TK – TeleKommunikation

TKÜ – TeleKommunikationsÜberwachung

TW – Proliferation, ABC-Waffen, Wehrtechnik (BND division for Proliferation and NBC Weapons)


UA – Unterabteilung (sub-division)

UF – Unterstützende Fachdienste (BND division: Supporting Services)

UM – Gesamtumzug (BND division for the relocation to Berlin)


VERAS – VERkehrsAnalyseSystem (tool for analysing both phone and internet metadata derived from cable-bound traffic, since 2002) *

VIPER – Verbesserung der IP-ERfassung (proposed 38 million euro program for analyzing internet content, 2014) *

V-Leute – Vertrauens- oder VerbindungsLeute (informants)

VS – VerschlussSache

VSA – VerschlussSachenAnweisung

VS-NfD – VerschlussSache-Nur für den Dienstgebrauch (classification level Restricted)

VS-Vertr. – VerschlussSache-Vertraulich (classification level Confidential)


ZEUS – Zentrales Entwicklungs- und Unterstützungsprojekt SSCD (proposed 17,5 million euro project to participate in the SSCD program by 2017) *

ZfCh – Zentrale für das Chiffrierwesen (Cryptographic Center of BND, succeeded by ZSI)

ZIP – Zentrales Informationssystem für die […] (BND database)*

ZSI – Zentralstelle für Sicherheit in der Informationstechnik (succeeded by BSI in 1991)

ZY – Zentralabteilung (BND division for Central Services)


U.S. troops in Europe ordered not to wear uniforms off base

November 18, 2014

by Douglas Ernst –

The Washington Times –


U.S. military bases in Europe have been ordered to “limit to the max extent possible” instances where personnel wear uniforms off base.

U.S. European Command put out the directive Nov. 10.

“In addition, all personnel should review individual social media account security and geo-location functions/settings to ensure their profiles are not overly revealing,” EUCOM said in a statement, Military Timesreported Tuesday.

Just two days after EUCOM’s directive was announced, U.S. sailors on liberty in Turkey were attacked by the nationalist Youth Association.

A group of roughly 10 men shouted at three U.S. sailors: “Yankee, go home!” The mob attempted to put bags over the sailors’ heads and then chased them through the streets.

EUCOM did not give a specific reason for its directive, although the Pentagon is concerned that overseas installations may be targeted by the Islamic State terror group, Military Times reported.


Fossil-Fueled Republicanism: The Grand Oil Party Takes Washington by Storm

by Michael T. Klare


Pop the champagne corks in Washington!  It’s party time for Big Energy.  In the wake of the midterm elections, Republican energy hawks are ascendant, having taken the Senate and House by storm.  They are preparing to put pressure on a president already presiding over a largely drill-baby-drill administration to take the last constraints off the development of North American fossil fuel reserves.

The new Republican majority is certain to push their agenda on a variety of key issues, including tax reform and immigration.  None of their initiatives, however, will have as catastrophic an impact as their coming drive to ensure that fossil fuels will dominate the nation’s energy landscape into the distant future, long after climate change has wrecked the planet and ruined the lives of millions of Americans.

It’s already clear that the new Republican leadership in the Senate will make construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline, intended to carry heavy oil (or “tar sands”) from Alberta, Canada, to refineries on the U.S. Gulf Coast, one of their top legislative priorities. If the lame-duck Congress fails to secure Keystone’s approval now with the help of pro-carbon Senate Democrats, it certainly will push the measure through when a Republican-dominated Senate arrives in January. Approval of that pipeline, said soon-to-be Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell, will be among the first measures “we’re very likely to be voting on.”  But while the Keystone issue is going to command the Senate’s attention, it’s only one of many measures being promoted by the Republicans to speed the exploitation of the country’s oil, coal, and natural gas reserves.  So devoted are their leaders to fossil fuel extraction that we should start thinking of them not as the Grand Old Party, but the Grand Oil Party.

In seeking to boost fossil fuel production, the GOP leadership is already mapping out plans to fight on several fronts in addition to Keystone.  For example, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, a likely presidential candidate, is promoting a scheme to eliminate what he calls government “obstacles” — that is, federal oversight of energy-related matters — to the construction of any border-crossing pipelines, whether for the importation of tar sands from Canada or the export of natural gas to Mexico.  Other prominent Republicans, including McConnell (who comes from coal-rich Kentucky), are eager to prevent the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from imposing strict carbon restraints on the use of coal, ban federal oversight of hydro-fracking, open offshore Alaska and Virginia to drilling, and facilitate foreign sales of U.S. crude oil and liquefied natural gas (LNG).

Whatever individual initiatives one Republican figure or another may be pushing, as a group they fervently believe in the desirability of boosting the consumption of fossil fuels and the absolute need to defeat any measures designed to slow climate change through restraints on such consumption.  For many of them, this is both an economic issue, aimed at boosting the profits of U.S. energy firms, and bedrock ideology, part of a quasi-mystical belief in the national-power-enhancing nature of petroleum.  Top Republicans argue, for instance, that the best way to counter Russian inroads in Ukraine (or elsewhere in Europe) is to accelerate the fracking of U.S. shale gas reserves and ship the added output to that continent in the form of liquefied natural gas.  This, they are convinced, will break Russia’s hold on the continent’s energy supplies.  “The ability to turn the tables and put the Russian leader in check,” House Speaker John Boehner wrote in March, “lies right beneath our feet, in the form of vast supplies of natural energy.”

Central to the political ethos of many Republicans, including the likely candidates for president in 2016, is a belief in the restorative abilities of oil and gas when it comes to waning national power and prestige.  Governor Christie, for example, devoted his initial foreign policy speech to a vision of a “North American energy renaissance” based on the accelerated production of hydrocarbons in Canada, Mexico, and the U.S.  “The dramatic change in the energy landscape in North America,” he declared, “has made all of us better off and will continue to do so.”  (Significantly, Christie unveiled his plan in Mexico, which is expected to open its oil and gas fields to development by U.S. firms for the first time since it expropriated foreign oil assets in 1938.)

In order to claim such benefits from increased fossil-fuel production, the increasingly severe effects of climate change — including on highly vulnerable coastal communities in New Jersey — have to be conveniently left out of the equation.  In fact, most top Republicans solve that problem either by denying the very reality of climate change or by viewing it as, at worst, a future minor irritant.  In one of the genuinely bizarre outcomes of the recent election, Oklahoma’s James Inhofe is expected to be chosen as the new chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.  A long-time proponent of the view that human-induced climate change is a giant “hoax,” Inhofe has pledged, among other things, to sabotage the EPA’s drive to restrict carbon emissions from coal.


The Power of the Purse


What accounts for such a messianic belief in the beneficial effects of fossil fuel extraction?

Never underestimate the lure of money — or, to be more precise, campaign contributions.  The giant energy firms are among the leading sources of campaign financing.  Most of their money has, in recent years, gone to Republicans who espouse a pro-carbon agenda — and with such a crew now ascendant in Congress, staggering sums will undoubtedly continue to pour in.

According to the Center for Responsive Politics (CRP), a nonpartisan group that tracks money in politics, the oil and gas industry was the ninth biggest supplier of campaign funds during the 2013-2014 election cycle, with 87% of the $51 million it spent going to Republicans.  The coal industry provided another $10 million in contributions, with 95% going to Republicans.  Koch Industries, the energy conglomerate controlled by billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch, was the top oil company provider, accounting for $9.4 million in contributions; Chevron, ExxonMobil, and Occidental Petroleum were also major donors.  These figures, it should be noted, only include direct donations to candidates in accordance with federal campaign laws.  They exclude funds channeled through secretive super PACS and supposedly “non-profit” organizations that are not bound by such rules.  During the 2012 election, the CRP reports, the Koch brothers helped steer an estimated $407 million to such entities; equally large amounts are thought to have been expended in the 2014 go-around.

To a significant extent, these funds were shuttled to especially industry-friendly and powerful Republicans.  Among the leading recipients of oil funding in 2014, according to the CRP, were John Boehner and Mitch McConnell, along with John Cornyn, the particularly enthusiastic pro-energy senator from Texas, and Congressman Cory Gardner of Colorado, who just took a Senate seat from the environmentally conscious Democrat Mark Udall.  Not surprisingly, among the top recipients of coal industry funding were Boehner and McConnell, as well as especially coal-friendly congressional representatives like Shelley Moore Capito and David McKinley of West Virginia.

These and other recipients of fossil fuel cash know full well that their future access to such largesse, and so their ability to get reelected, will depend on their success in pushing legislation that facilitates the accelerated extraction of oil, gas, and coal.  It doesn’t take too much imagination to calculate the consequences of this conveyor belt of financial support, both for affected communities and for the climate.


Energy-Surplus States


Another way to understand the Republican embrace of fossil fuels is to focus on the relative importance of oil, gas, and mining operations to the economies of certain predominantly “red” states with built-in Republican majorities.  According to a revealing analysis by John Kemp of Reuters, only 13 U.S. states export more energy than they import (in descending order): Wyoming, West Virginia, Texas, North Dakota, New Mexico, Colorado, Oklahoma, Alaska, Pennsylvania, Montana, Arkansas, Utah, and Kentucky. Fossil fuel extraction helps drive the economies of these states and voters there tend to elect particularly pro-extraction Republicans. When the 114th Congress convenes in January, 19 of the 26 Senate seats from these states will be held by Republicans and only six by Democrats.

Note that these states played a particularly pivotal role in the 2014 midterms, with the Republican leadership making an all-out drive to score major victories in them. Ten of these states had Senate races this year and the Republicans succeeded in ousting Democrats in five of them: Wyoming, Colorado, Montana, Arkansas, and Alaska.  Needless to say, the giant oil and coal companies poured vast amounts of money into these campaigns. Koch Industries, for example, made substantial contributions to the Senate campaigns of Tom Cotton in Arkansas, Steve Daines in Montana, and Cory Gardner in Colorado.

In many respects, energy-surplus states have different interests than other states, which must import the preponderance of their energy supplies.  These energy-importing states, including Democratic bastions like Illinois, New York, California, and Massachusetts, often seek strict federal regulation of things like hydro-fracking and power-plant emissions.  Surplus states like Texas and Pennsylvania, on the other hand, largely prefer state-level oversight rather than the generally stronger federal version of the same.

The major fossil fuel companies also favor state-level oversight of energy affairs, which regularly results into drilling-friendly legislation.  When it comes to hydraulic fracking, here’s how ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson politely puts the matter: “[W]e believe that is best left to the state, [to] state regulatory bodies,” as they are more attuned to conditions on the ground.  “[W]riting a federal standard to apply across a whole range of these conditions we don’t think is the most efficient way to go about it.”

In this and other ways, energy-surplus states often resemble oil-rich countries like Russia, Nigeria, Angola, and Kazakhstan, where energy companies enjoy a cozy, often venal, relationship with top leaders. Scholars in the field speak of an “oil curse” that bedevils such countries, in which the best interests of ordinary citizens — not to mention the environment — are regularly sacrificed in efforts to boost output and line the pockets of ruling elites.


Oil, Gas, and National Security


A third reason why the Grand Oil Party tends to favor fossil fuel extraction is that its representatives view such production as a vital pillar of national security — another Republican priority.  Increased oil, gas, and coal extraction is said to enhance U.S. security in two ways: by invigorating the economy and so strengthening America’s competitive advantage vis-à-vis rival powers and by bolstering Washington’s capacity to confront hostile petro-states like Iran, Russia, and Venezuela.

The recent upsurge in oil and natural gas production in what’s being called “Saudi America” is especially beneficial, Republicans claim, because it lowers the cost of energy for American manufacturers and attracts fresh investment in energy-intensive activities by companies that might otherwise locate their factories in China, Taiwan, or elsewhere.  “The production boom in gas and associated lower costs,” Governor Christie argues, “have contributed to ‘re-shoring,’ a return of manufacturing jobs that had been migrating to Asia before.”

Equally important, it is a Republican conviction that an upsurge in domestic oil and gas production will give Washington a stronger hand in its dealings with Iran and Russia, in particular.  For one thing, by becoming less dependent on imported energy, the U.S. is making itself ever less vulnerable to the blandishments of major suppliers in the Middle East.  In addition, by driving down international prices, American oil and gas output is also curtailing the energy revenues of Iran and Russia, making their leaders more susceptible to U.S. pressure.

Given this, the Republican leadership is especially focused on eliminating existing obstacles to selling crude oil and natural gas abroad.  At the moment, the exporting of crude is prohibited, thanks to a 40-year-old ban adopted in the wake of the Arab oil embargo of 1973-1974.  Natural gas exports are hindered by the lack of LNG facilities in this country and by regulatory barriers to their rapid construction. Constraints on such construction, according to Boehner (who, of course, wants to lift them), constitute a “de-facto ban on American natural-gas exports — a situation that [Russian President Vladimir] Putin happily exploited to finance his geopolitical goals.”

Not surprisingly, the major oil and gas companies are also strongly in favor of such steps, which would allow them to sell cheap oil and gas to Europe and Asia, where prices are substantially higher.  Building more gas-export facilities, says Erik Milito, an official of the pro-industry American Petroleum Institute, would mean that “our LNG exports could significantly strengthen the global energy market against crisis and manipulation… a win-win for our economy and our friends.”

The oil companies are also pushing for intensified efforts to integrate the U.S., Mexican, and Canadian oil systems which, Christie and others claim, would enhance U.S. security by diminishing reliance on Middle Eastern and other extra-hemispheric suppliers. At the same time, such integration would help American companies acquire greater control over production in Mexico and Canada. Mexico’s new energy legislation, which opens the way for foreign investment in its oil and gas fields, was heavily pushed by U.S. oil firms and prominent Republicans.

There is little question that increased exports would benefit American energy firms and their customers abroad.  Any easing of export constraints would, however, induce U.S. producers to divert output from domestic markets to more lucrative markets abroad, potentially harming American consumers. While prices might fall in Europe, they could rise in the United States, removing the current economic stimulus that relatively low-cost oil and gas provide.  Increased exports would also mean that the recent slowdown in U.S. carbon emissions — a product of economic hard times and a switch from coal to gas in electricity generation — would be rendered meaningless by increased greenhouse gas emissions from the combustion of U.S. fossil fuels in other countries.


Fossil Fuels Forever


At a time when more and more people around the world are coming to recognize the need for tough restraints on fossil fuel combustion, the Republicans are about to march forcefully in the opposite direction.  Theirs will be a powerful vote for a fossil-fuels-forever planet.

The consequences of such a commitment are chilling.  While virtually all scientists and many world leaders have concluded that the heating of the planet must be kept to an average increase of 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit), the pro-carbon agenda being pursued by the Republicans would guarantee a planet heated by four to six or more degrees Celsius or six to 10 degrees Fahrenheit.  That large an increase is almost certain to render significant portions of the planet virtually uninhabitable, and so threaten human civilization as we know it.  As the U.N.’s prestigious Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) noted in its recent summary report, “Continued emission of greenhouse gases will cause further warming and long-lasting changes in all components of the climate system, increasing the likelihood of severe, pervasive and irreversible impacts for people and ecosystems.”

With Republicans now in control, pro-carbon initiatives will be the order of the day in Congress.  President Obama has veto power over most such measures and is reportedly planning various executive actions on climate issues — some intended to clinch a recent climate deal with China.  In the long run, however, his need to secure Republican support for key legislative endeavors and his own “all of the above” energy policy may mean that he will give ground in this area to win votes for what he may view as more actionable steps on free trade pacts and other issues.  In other words, for each modest step forward on climate stabilization, the latest election ensures that Americans are destined to march several steps backward when it comes to reliance on climate-altering fossil fuels.  It’s a recipe for good times for Big Energy and its congressional supporters and bad times for the rest of us.


Michael T. Klare, a TomDispatch regular, is a professor of peace and world security studies at Hampshire College and the author, most recently, of The Race for What’s Left



Russia’s relations with Hungary warm as ties with West chill

November 19, 2014

by Gabriela Baczynska


 MOSCOW  – President Vladimir Putin hailed Hungary as one of Russia’s most important partners on Wednesday, giving his seal of approval to a budding relationship with a Soviet-era ally that is worrying some of its European Union allies.

While the Ukraine crisis is straining ties between many EU capitals and Moscow, Hungary – which relies heavily on Russia for natural gas supplies – is enjoying a rapprochement with the Kremlin.

“We share the attitude of the Hungarian leadership aimed at growing constructive dialogue, jointly carrying out planned very large investment projects,” Putin told a Kremlin ceremony at which Hungary’s new ambassador presented his credentials.

He said Russia considered Budapest “one of the most important political, trade and economic partners”.

A senior Hungarian official told Reuters on Wednesday that the country aimed to start building its stretch of the Russian-backed South Stream gas pipeline next year.

 By contrast Brussels and Washington, which have slapped sanctions on Russian individuals and businesses over Ukraine, say the pipeline will entrench the Kremlin’s energy stranglehold on eastern Europe. They worry Budapest’s support for the project is a sign Hungary is drifting into Russia’s orbit.

Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto also struck an upbeat tone after talks on Wednesday in Moscow with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov, calling for a restoration of “pragmatic, mutually beneficial cooperation between Europe and Russia”.

Szijjarto pointedly said the South Stream pipeline would contribute to energy security in central and eastern Europe.


The West imposed the sanctions after Russia annexed Crimea in March and tightened them over its support for separatist rebels in eastern Ukraine. Budapest has said it will stand by the sanctions and stick up for Ukraine’s sovereignty.

However, it has also stopped shipping gas to Ukraine that was helping Kiev to evade a Russian blockade, and has signed a 10 billion euro ($12.5 billion) deal for a Russian-designed nuclear power plant.

Prime Minister Viktor Orban says he is not returning Hungary to the orbit of Moscow, which exerted considerable power when the country was part of the Soviet bloc. Instead, Orban says he is being pragmatic, as Russia is Hungary’s main trade partner outside the 28-nation EU. Polls show a majority of Hungarians back his policies.

“Our common task is to prevent a split of Europe and prevent a situation in which we have rivals, not allies, in Europe,” Szijjarto said.

Lavrov said it was reasonable for any country to follow “its national interests first and foremost”, praising Hungary for not promoting “Russophobe” policies in the EU and NATO.


(Editing by Timothy Heritage and David Stamp)


Hungary to start South Stream construction in 2015 despite Western pressure

November 20, 2014


Hungary plans to break ground next year on its stretch of the South Stream pipeline to send natural gas from Russia to Europe. It is in defiance of EU and US calls to halt the project over frosty relations with Moscow.

One major reason Hungary has thrown its support into South Stream is the lack of a better option since the EU-backed Nabucco pipeline, which was supposed to deliver gas from Azerbaijan to Europe, failed.

“Nabucco will not be built and after nearly 10 years of hesitation, and especially in light of the Ukraine situation, we need to act. This is a necessity,” Hungarian Energy Minister Andras Aradszki told Reuters.

Earlier Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said that Washington is putting pressure on Budapest for cooperating with Russia over energy.

Gazprom’s $45 billion South Stream project will deliver about 64 billion cubic meters of gas to Europe, Russia’s biggest client, without unreliable passage through Ukraine.

Russia is Hungary’s biggest source of natural gas, and in 2013 the country bought 6 billion cubic meters. Hungary hopes the pipeline will be complete by 2017.

Ministers from Russia also confirmed construction will begin in 2015.

“Today the sides confirmed all their commitments signed under the South Stream project,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Wednesday after talks with his Hungarian counterpart Peter Szijjarto.

Hungary, along with Slovenia, Bulgaria, and Austria, still support the project despite EU attempts to stall it due to the political rift with Moscow, said Energy Minister Aradszki.

Proponents inside the EU argue the project is critical for EU energy security as it will provide a direct and reliable pipeline to Russia. Opponents argue that it is a step backwards for EU energy independence, as it deepens reliance on neighboring Russia.

On November 4, the Hungarian parliament approved the construction of the South Stream pipeline without European Union agreement.

The EU says South Stream will violate its Third Energy Package, which doesn’t allow one single company to both produce and transport oil and gas.

In September Hungary indefinitely halted gas shipments to Ukraine after securing a new deal with Russian gas major Gazprom, which the West saw as a move towards Russia’s orbit.

In 2013, Russia sold 162.7 billion cubic meters of gas to Europe and expects to sell at least 155 billion cubic meters this year.


Immigrants face major hurdles in signing up to new Obama plan

November 20, 2014

by Lawrence Hurley and Mica Rosenberg


             WASHINGTON/NEW YORK – President Barack Obama’s televised address to the nation on Thursday may prove the easiest part of his controversial plan to relax U.S. immigration policy. Implementing it will be difficult and many people may never benefit, warn immigration lawyers.

Sources close to the administration say Obama will announce that some parents of U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents are to be given a reprieve from deportation. Up to 5 million people could benefit from the move.

But immigration advocacy groups say they don’t have sufficient resources to provide legal services to their existing clients, never mind the millions of potential new ones. Obama’s proposal is not expected to provide for federal funding for attorneys to guide immigrants through the process.

“If the past is any indication, it’s going to be a significant increase in people asking for legal assistance,” said Karla McKanders, who runs the immigration law clinic at the University of Tennessee College of Law in Knoxville.

The new plan is expected to be similar to Obama’s 2012 executive action, known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), that halted deportation and granted work permits to immigrants brought illegally to the country as young children.

McKanders said she and her students were already swamped because of DACA. In many parts of the United States, especially rural areas, there are either not enough private immigration lawyers or they are not affordable to most undocumented immigrants.

            Only 55 percent of the estimated 1.2 million young people eligible under DACA have applied, according to an August report by the Migration Policy Institute.

There is another problem. Immigrants who have lived illegally in the United States for many years can be afraid to sign up or lack the proper documentation to back up their claims, said Jacqueline Rishty from the Immigration Legal Services Program of Catholic Charities in Washington.

The lack of immigration lawyers also opens the door for self-described legal experts who give bad advice or even scam clients out of thousands of dollars. The American Bar Association has warned of fraudsters offering legal services in Spanish-speaking communities.

“I think this is going to be a prime opportunity for folks to be scammed,” said Adolfo Hernandez who works on immigrant affairs in the Chicago mayor’s office.

             PAPERWORK HELP

            Formal legal advice is not always needed to process immigration applications and many people will likely file on their own, but some, especially those who lack English language or literacy skills, will need help from people with at least some legal training to fill out the paperwork.

Good legal representation can make a huge difference in some of the tougher cases, said Chief Judge Robert Katzmann of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in a speech on Wednesday in New York.

For immigrants who can’t afford to pay for legal help, cities with big immigrant populations are already gearing up to help immigrants potentially eligible under Obama’s plan.

New York City, for example, is getting ready by talking to private foundations about providing fund for legal aid and outreach. The city spent $18 million over two years on subway ads and other measures to help implement DACA.

            “The plan to act may come from the federal level, but ultimately the responsibility falls on cities to step up and ensure the successful implementation of the program,” said New York City’s Commissioner of Immigrant Affairs Nisha Agarwal.

Chicago is also planning to spread the word about legal services by sending information home with public school children.


(Reporting by Lawrence Hurley and Mica Rosenberg; Editing by Amy Stevens and Ross Colvin)


Anti-snooping app: Amnesty & partner has unveil tool that detects surveillance

November 20, 2014


In collaboration with privacy and civil rights organizations, Amnesty International launched Detekt, an app that enables people to scan their devices for traces of surveillance spyware, created with activists and journalists in mind.

The free web tool, backed by Amnesty International and developed by German-based security researcher Claudio Guarnieri, working with Digitale Gesellschaft, Electronic Frontier Foundation and Privacy International, is available to the public for download.

            The new technology will allow users to determine when their computer or mobile device is being monitored. “By alerting them to the fact that they are being spied on, they will have the opportunity to take precautions,” Amnesty said in an online statement.

Marek Marczynski, head of military, security and police at Amnesty, explained that the tool will prove most useful to journalists and activists who deal with sensitive information and are concerned about authorities spying on their communications.

“Governments are increasingly using dangerous and sophisticated technology that allows them to read activists’ and journalists’ private emails and remotely turn on their computer’s camera or microphone to secretly record their activities,” Marcynski said. “They use the technology in a cowardly attempt to prevent abuses from being exposed. Detekt is a simple tool that will alert activists to such intrusions so they can take action.”

Amnesty is hoping to take governments to task for their overreaching surveillance practices, including the controversial NSA and GCHQ spying programs. In addition, the organization wants governments worldwide to establish strict trade controls regulating any transfer of surveillance equipment with an independent authority confirming that the machinery will not be used for human rights breaches.

The use of surveillance tech has been on the rise in the last few years. Amnesty and other human rights organizations accuse the surveillance industry, estimated by the Coalition Against Unlawful Surveillance Exports to be worth $5 billion, of having facilitated the repression of journalists and activists around the world, by selling their technology to law enforcement and intelligence agencies in countries with records of persistent human rights abuse.

For instance, intelligence published on WikiLeaks links spyware manufactured in Germany to the monitoring of Bahraini human rights activists.

Detekt and other tools like it are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to fighting back against mass government intrusion and the surveillance industry, privacy activists say.

“Anything that highlights the state surveillance of citizens is to be welcomed, but finding that you are a victim of surveillance is only part of the problem The opportunity to seek redress is limited and where possible an arduous process for a member of the public to tackle,” Emma Carr, director of Big Brother Watch’s privacy campaign, was quoted as saying in the Daily Mail.

“Until the government introduces a rigorous process of authorization, oversight and accessible redress for surveillance practices, it is inevitable that innocent people will continue to be spied on by the state. That will persist whether we know about the surveillance, or not,” she said.


American Surveillance Now Threatens American Business

A new study finds that a vast majority of Americans trust neither the government nor tech companies with their personal data.

November 17 2014

by Robinson Meyer

The Atlantic


What does it look like when a society loses its sense of privacy?

In the almost 18 months since the Snowden files first received coverage, writers and critics have had to guess at the answer. Does a certain trend, consumer complaint, or popular product epitomize some larger shift? Is trust in tech companies eroding—or is a subset just especially vocal about it?

Polling would make those answers clear, but polling so far has been… confused. A new study, conducted by the Pew Internet Project last January and released last week, helps make the average American’s view of his or her privacy a little clearer.

And their confidence in their own privacy is … low.

The study’s findings—and the statistics it reports—stagger. Vast majorities of Americans are uncomfortable with how the government uses their data, how private companies use and distribute their data, and what the government does to regulate those companies.

No summary can equal a recounting of the findings. Americans are displeased with government surveillance en masse:  

•According to the study, 70 percent of Americans are “at least somewhat concerned” with the government secretly obtaining information they post to social networking sites.

•Eighty percent of respondents agreed that “Americans should be concerned” with government surveillance of telephones and the web.

They are also uncomfortable with how private corporations use their data:

•Ninety-one percent of Americans believe that “consumers have lost control over how personal information is collected and used by companies,” according to the study.

•Eighty percent of Americans who use social networks “say they are concerned about third parties like advertisers or businesses accessing the data they share on these sites.”

And even though they’re squeamish about the government’s use of data, they want it to regulate tech companies and data brokers more strictly: 64 percent wanted the government to do more to regulate private data collection.

Since June 2013, American politicians and corporate leaders have fretted over how much the leaks would cost U.S. businesses abroad.

“It’s clear the global community of Internet users doesn’t like to be caught up in the American surveillance dragnet,” Senator Ron Wyden said last month.

At the same event, Google chairman Eric Schmidt agreed with him. “What occurred was a loss of trust between America and other countries,” he said, according to the Los Angeles Times. “It’s making it very difficult for American firms to do business.”

But never mind the world. Americans don’t trust American social networks. More than half of the poll’s respondents said that social networks were “not at all secure. Only 40 percent of Americans believe email or texting is at least “somewhat” secure.

Indeed, Americans trusted most of all communication technologies where some protections has been enshrined into the law (though the report didn’t ask about snail mail). That is: Talking on the telephone, whether on a landline or cell phone, is the only kind of communication that a majority of adults believe to be “very secure” or “somewhat secure.”

(That may seem a bit incongruous, because making a telephone call is one area where you can be almost sure you are being surveilled: The government has requisitioned mass call records from phone companies since 2001. But Americans appear, when discussing security, to differentiate between the contents of the call and data about it.)

Last month, Ramsey Homsany, the general counsel of Dropbox, said that one big thing could take down the California tech scene.

“We have built this incredible economic engine in this region of the country,” said Homsany in the Los Angeles Times, “and [mistrust] is the one thing that starts to rot it from the inside out.”

According to this poll, the mistrust has already begun corroding—and is already, in fact, well advanced. We’ve always assumed that the great hurt to American business will come globally—that citizens of other nations will stop using tech companies’s services. But the new Pew data shows that Americans suspect American businesses just as much. And while, unlike citizens of other nations, they may not have other places to turn, they may stop putting sensitive or delicate information online.



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