Permalink Exposed: How US created 'Cuban Twitter' to take down Castro

The United States engineered a text messaging network in Cuba to try and spread unrest in the communist country. More than 40,000 people have shared news and opinions using the service. The documents obtained by the Associated Press state the project was led by Joe McSpedon, a US government official, who attracted a team of high-tech wizards from around the globe to set up a site that could reach hundreds of thousands of Cubans. The Caribbean island has some of the world’s most stringent internet regulations, so text messaging via cellphones would help to evade the country’s strict information controls. Since Fidel Castro handed over power to his brother Raul, the use of mobile technology has been encouraged. Cubans were given the opportunity to call one another or send text messages, though the cost was high, given that the average salary is just $20 per month. The network was called ZunZuneo, which was a play on twitter, with the word being slang for a Cuban hummingbird’s tweet. The project was financed by the US Agency for international development (USAID), best known for overseeing billions of dollars in US humanitarian aid. The initial plan was to gain users by allowing access to light news stories, such as baseball bulletins, music and weather updates. However, once a critical number of subscribers was reached, operators would introduce political stories aimed at tarnishing the reputation of the Cuban government, with the aim of creating a ‘Cuban Spring’.


Permalink Ecuador does not recognize Ukraine’s ‘illegitimate’ govt - Correa

Ecuador has said it will not deal with the coup-appointed government in Kiev and has called for fair elections. President Rafael Correa declared he would only negotiate with a “legitimate government” that represents the will of the Ukrainian people. In his weekly address to the Ecuadorian people, Correa explained why Ecuador had abstained from the UN General Assembly vote Thursday that passed a resolution condemning Crimea’s union with Russia. “We will not fall for a farce, we will only deal with a legitimate government,” said Correa, adding that Ecuador does not recognize the current government that is the product of a coup d’état. To win the support of Ecuador, Ukraine should hold democratic elections and establish a legitimate government chosen by the Ukrainian people, Correa said. Moscow has also decried the coup-appointed government that came to power in Kiev at the end of February following weeks of bloody protests in the Ukrainian capital’s Independence Square. "The current government is the product of devious machinations, to put to it mildly, clearly supported by hypocritical rhetoric from the West,” Correa said.


Permalink Spanish flamenco guitarist Paco de Lucia dies at 66

World-renowned Spanish guitarist Paco de Lucia has died aged 66 in Mexico, reportedly of a heart attack while playing with his children on a beach. He is said to have died in the Mexican resort of Cancun. The death of one of the most celebrated flamenco guitarists was announced by the mayor's office in Algeciras, southern Spain, where he was born. Famous for a series of flamenco albums in the 1970s, he also crossed over into classical and jazz guitar. He also worked on films by Spanish director Carlos Saura, notably appearing in his 1983 version of Carmen, which won a UK Bafta award for Best Foreign Language Film in 1985. Algeciras is to hold two days of official mourning. Its mayor, Jose Ignacio Landaluce, called the musician's death an "irreparable loss for the world of culture and for Andalusia". He had lived both in Mexico and in Spain in recent years. 'I knew every rhythm' - He was born Francisco Sanchez Gomez on 21 December 1947, the son of flamenco guitarist Antonio Sanchez, who was of Gypsy origin. He took his stage name in honour of his mother, Lucia Gomes. It is believed he had played the guitar from the age of five. "My family grew up with the Gypsies," the guitarist was quoted as saying in a 1994 article in Guitar Player. "My father and all my brothers played guitar, so before I picked it up, before I could speak, I was listening. Before I started to play, I knew every rhythm of the flamenco. I knew the feeling and the meaning of the music, so when I started to play, I went directly to the sound I had in my ear." - ¡En paz descanse, Paco!

Ayuntamiento de Algeciras:
Algeciras Llora En Silencio La Muerte De Paco De Lucía
Tres Días De Luto Oficial Por La Muerte De Paco De Lucía


Permalink Over one million petition for Brazil to grant asylum to Snowden

Supporters of Edward Snowden have handed in to Brazil’s Foreign Ministry a petition signed by more than 1.1 million people calling upon the government of President Dilma Rousseff to grant the US National Security Agency whistle-blower asylum in the country. The petition, begun last November on the Avaaz web site, gathered support from throughout Brazil and around the world, providing a powerful expression of the immense popular support for Snowden and hostility to the global spying operations of the NSA. Revelations from the NSA documents made public by Snowden have had a particularly strong impact in Brazil, where they have established the US spy agency’s systematic hacking of the official and personal phone calls, text messages, emails and Internet searches of President Rousseff and her aides. They also uncovered economic espionage directed against Petrobras, Brazil’s state-owned oil company, which is the fourth-largest energy conglomerate in the world, and the government’s ministry of mining and energy.


Permalink Venezuela expels three US consular officials

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has ordered the expulsion of three US consular officials accusing the United States of supporting Venezuelan opposition to destabilize the country. Maduro ordered the expulsions on Sunday, as tensions rise over the anti-government demonstrations being held across the country. The American consular officials were not identified; however, Maduro said they had met with university students involved in the protests. “It’s a group of US functionaries who are in the universities. We’ve been watching them having meetings in the private universities for two months. They work in visas,” said the Venezuelan president. Maduro said he would not tolerate threats to Venezuela’s sovereignty.


Permalink Venezuela coup? [No, it's just the Jewish bankers - again] - Photos, Video

At least three people have died in violent protests in the Venezuelan capital, officials have confirmed. President Nicolas Maduro has condemned the unrest as an attempt at a coup d’état orchestrated by extremist members of the political opposition. Thousands of protesters flooded the streets of the Venezuelan capital on Wednesday in the worst unrest since Nicolas Maduro assumed the presidency last year. Demonstrators from several different political factions clashed in Caracas, leaving at least three people dead and over 20 injured. Venezuela’s top prosecutor confirmed the death of 24-year-old student Bassil Dacosta Frías, who was shot in the head and died later in hospital. Officials said that a government supporter was also assassinated in what they decried as an act of “fascism.” A third person was killed in the Chacao neighborhood in the East of the Venezuelan capital. As night fell in Chacao, police clashed with protesters, firing tear gas into a crowd of young protesters who burned tires and blocked a main road. RT Actualidad’s correspondent in Caracas, Karen Mendez, said that gunfire broke out in Chacao later during the night and her team had been caught in the crossfire.


Permalink Texas executes Mexican national in defiance of international law

Edgar Tamayo Arias, 46, an undocumented immigrant worker from Morelos, Mexico, imprisoned on death row for the last two decades, was killed late Wednesday night with a lethal injection in the death chamber of the state penitentiary in Huntsville, Texas, 70 miles north of Houston. The act of state murder was carried out with flagrant contempt for international law and basic rights after the US Supreme Court rejected Tamayo’s appeal. “The application for stay of execution of sentence of death presented to Justice Scalia and by him referred to the Court is denied,” the court said in a terse statement Wednesday night. Scheduled to take place at 6 p.m. Central Time, the high court’s cursory consideration of Tamayo’s fate delayed the killing for just three and a half hours.


Permalink New Memo: Kissinger Gave the "Green Light" for Argentina's Dirty War

Kissinger Gave the "Green Light" for Argentina's Dirty War. "That resulted in the disappearance—that is, deaths—of an estimated 30,000 people." Only a few months ago, Henry Kissinger was dancing with Stephen Colbert in a funny bit on the latter's Comedy Central show. But for years, the former secretary of state has sidestepped judgment for his complicity in horrific human rights abuses abroad, and a new memo has emerged that provides clear evidence that in 1976 Kissinger gave Argentina's neo-fascist military junta the "green light" for the dirty war it was conducting against civilian and militant leftists that resulted in the disappearance—that is, deaths—of an estimated 30,000 people.


Permalink Mexican Official Accuses CIA Of 'Managing' Not 'Fighting' The Drug Trade

A Mexican state government spokesman told Al Jazeera that the CIA and other international security forces "don't fight drug traffickers" as much as "try to manage the drug trade," Chris Arsenault reports. "It's like pest control companies, they only control," Chihuahua spokesman Guillermo Terrazas Villanueva told Al Jazeera. "If you finish off the pests, you are out of a job. If they finish the drug business, they finish their jobs." Chihuahua, one of Mexico's most violent states, borders on Texas.

Business Insider: CONFIRMED: The DEA Struck A Deal With Mexico's Most Notorious Drug Cartel


Permalink Mexican vigilante gunmen disarm local POLICE so they can rid town of feared Knights Templar drug cartel

Residents living in fear of violent criminal gangs in south-west Mexico are taking matters into their own hands. Yesterday 600 vigilantes seized control of town of Paracuaro in Michoacan state in bloody battle that left one dead. Convoy of 'autodefensas', or self-defence groups, drove into the town controlled by drugs gang in blacked-out SUVs. They took back control from the Cabelleros Templarios (Knights Templar) gang which terrorised local residents. In neighbouring Guerrero state, vigilante group the Public Safety System marched in honour of first anniversary.


Permalink Snowden: NSA's indiscriminate spying 'collapsing'

National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden wrote in a lengthy "open letter to the people of Brazil" that he's been inspired by the global debate ignited by his release of thousands of NSA documents and that the agency's culture of indiscriminate global espionage "is collapsing." In the letter, Snowden commended the Brazilian government for its strong stand against U.S. spying. He wrote that he'd be willing to help the South American nation investigate NSA spying on its soil, but could not fully participate in doing so without being granted political asylum, because the U.S. "government will continue to interfere with my ability to speak." Revelations about the NSA's spy programs were first published in the Guardian and The Washington Post newspapers in June, based on some of the thousands of documents Snowden handed over to Barton Gellman at the Post and to Brazil-based American journalist Glenn Greenwald and his reporting partner, Laura Poitras, a U.S. filmmaker.

Edward Snowden: An Open Letter to the People of Brazil


Permalink 'NSA ruined it!' Brazil ditches Boeing jets, grants $4.5 bln contract to Saab

Brazil has rejected a contract for Boeing’s F/A-18 fighter jets in favor of the Swedish Saab’s JAS 39 Gripens. The unexpected move to reject the US bid comes amid the global scandal over the NSA’s involvement in economic espionage activities. The announcement for the purchase of 36 fighters was made Wednesday by Brazilian Defense Minister Celso Amorim and Air Force Commander Junti Saito. The jets will cost US$4.5 billion, well below the estimated market value of around US$7 billion.


Permalink Brazil will not grant Snowden asylum: report

Brazil has no plans to grant asylum to Edward Snowden even after the former U.S. National Security Agency contractor offered on Tuesday to help investigate revelations of spying on Brazilians and their president, a local newspaper reported. The Folha de S.Paulo newspaper, citing unnamed government officials, said the Brazilian government has no interest in investigating the mass Internet surveillance programs Snowden revealed in June and does not intend to give him asylum. In an "Open Letter to the Brazilian People" published by Folha and social media, Snowden offered to help a congressional probe into NSA spying on the country, including the personal communications of President Dilma Rousseff.

Russia Today/AWIP: Snowden offers to help Brazil investigate NSA spying when he's given asylum


Permalink Snowden offers to help Brazil investigate NSA spying when he's given asylum

Whistleblower Edward Snowden has pledged to help Brazil investigate the NSA’s spying activities. Snowden said he had been asked by Brazilian senators for information on “suspected crimes against Brazilian citizens.” In an open letter published by Brazilian paper Folha de S.Paulo, the former CIA contractor promised to aid Brazil in a probe into the National Security Agency’s spying program in the country. David Miranda, the partner of journalist Glen Greenwald, published the English original of the letter on his Facebook page.

AP/The Big Story: Snowden: NSA's indiscriminate spying 'collapsing'
Forbes: An NSA Coworker Remembers The Real Edward Snowden: 'A Genius Among Geniuses'
Washington Post: Edward Snowden doesn’t show up once in Google’s list of top 2013 searches
VoR: Edward Snowden named the "Person of the Year" 2013
VoR: 'It seems unlikely that the Russians would turn Snowden to the US' - expert


Permalink Overwhelming UN vote against US embargo of Cuba

A record-equalling 188 countries on Tuesday condemned the five-decade-old US embargo against communist Cuba in an annual UN General Assembly vote that signalled hardening opposition to US sanctions. Only Israel joined the United States in opposing resolution, the smallest number ever. Last year two allies voted with the US government. Three Pacific island states normally close to the United States -- Micronesia, Marshall Islands and Palau -- abstained as the barrage of criticism of the embargo reached a new peak in the 22nd annual vote at the UN Assembly. China, Iran, which has launched a bid to thaw relations with the US administration, Latin American and African nations all publicly condemned the United States. "The US policy against Cuba is suffering from an absolute international isolation and discredit and lacks every ethical or legal ground," Cuba's Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez Parrilla said.


Permalink Brazilian lawmakers press Greenwald for greater detail on Snowden's NSA leaks

Brazilian lawmakers indicated that, in lieu of direct teleconferences with Edward Snowden to gain further insight into allegations of NSA spying in their country, they may seek to seize documents now held by American journalist Glenn Greenwald. On Wednesday Greenwald spoke to Brazilian senators currently investigating evidence of US as well as British and Canadian espionage in the Latin American country. The legislators are part of a probe into potential foreign surveillance -- the Comissão Parlamentar de Inquérito, or CPI -- called into action by President Dilma Rousseff in the wake of initial news reports alleging that even the president’s online communication had been intercepted. Greenwald, who appeared along with his partner David Miranda, a Brazilian national, broached several topics during the hearing, including the possibility of granting asylum to NSA contractor turned whistleblower Edward Snowden.


Permalink Canada PM expresses "concern" over spying in Brazil [for Israel] - Video

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper has voiced concern over allegations that his country spies on Brazilian officials, stressing on the need to repair the damage. The Canadian premier said during the APEC summit in Bali, Indonesia on Tuesday that Ottawa is “reaching out very proactively” to Brasilia regarding the suspected spying of Brazil’s Mines and Energy Ministry, though he failed to comment further due to “national security operations.” Harper promised to confirm if the Communications Security Establishment of Canada (CSEC) is following its mandate.

Keith Jones: Canada spied on Brazil’s government as part of global commercial espionage campaign Canadian mining companies have huge investments in Brazil. The two countries are important commercial rivals in mining and aircraft manufacture and are competing for foreign investment in their oil and natural gas sectors. According to the report that aired Sunday on O Globo Television’s “Fantastico” investigative journalism program, CSEC used the Olympia metadata mining program to track the communications of Brazil’s Ministry of Mines and Energy. The report did not say whether communications deemed of special interest were read or listened to. But CSEC, NSA and the other three members of the “Five Eyes” signal intelligence partnership (Britain, Australia, and New Zealand) bluntly state that there are no legal-constitutional restrictions on their “right” to spy on communications in foreign countries—be they the communications of foreign governments, left and dissident groups, or private citizens.

Russia Today: ‘Aggressive and insidious’: More details of Canada spying techniques to follow, Greenwald promises Canada is in the spotlight of an ongoing spying scandal as Glenn Greenwald has promised to disclose more details of the espionage of the Five Eyes global intelligence alliance that has already sparked unprecedented fury in Brazil. American journalist Glenn Greenwald has promised to leak more secret cables he obtained from Edward Snowden in a series of interviews conducted on Monday. “There is a huge amount of stuff about Canada in these archives because Canada works so closely with the NSA,” Greenwald, who lives in Brazil told the Globe and Mail. Without providing details into the soon to be revealed secret documents, Greenwald suggested that the new material will shed more light into Canada’s global spying activities, including economic and industrial espionage against Brazil, which has been at the center of the recent scandal.


Permalink Brazil wants Internet independence from the US

The NSA spying scandal has woken Brazil out of its data protection doze. Plans are being made for an optical network to link twelve South American countries with Europe and Africa, and largely avoid the US. Brazilhas decided to free itself from the embrace of its big brother to the north. Ever since the NSA data spying affair became known, the government has begun looking for ways to decentralize global data communication. "It doesn't make sense for data between Brazil and Uruguay to run via Miami," says the Brazilian secretary of state of telecommunication, Maximiliano Martinhao. He told Deutsche Welle that, ever since the NSA revelations, the long-planned development of South America's own fast Internet infrastructure has become a major priority. Martinhao says that preparations are already completed for the so-called Optical Ring, which will join twelve South American countries with each other, as well as with Europe and Africa. The project encompasses some 10,000 kilometers (6,200 miles) of optical cable, and work on laying the cables will start at the beginning of 2014.

Russia Today: Canadian spy agency ‘dissected’ Brazilian Energy Ministry


Permalink Venezuela expels 3 US embassy diplomats

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has ordered the expulsion of three US embassy diplomats, accusing them of plotting to sabotage the economy. Maduro made the announcement during a live TV appearance on Monday, saying chargé d'affaires Kelly Keiderling and the two other diplomats would have 48 hours to leave the country, AFP reported. He said the diplomats had met with the "Venezuelan far-right" to finance his opponents and "encourage actions to sabotage the power system and the economy." "We will not allow an imperial government to bring money and see how they can stop basic companies and stop the electricity to turn off all of Venezuela," Maduro said.

Nicolas Maduro Expels Three US Diplomats from Venezuela for Alleged Conspiracy
Venezuela's Maduro Cancels UN Trip, Alleges Former US Officials Involved in “Crazy” Plot


Permalink Morales: Obama can invade any country for US energy needs - Video

In his dramatic speech in New York, Bolivian President Evo Morales called for the UN to be moved out of the US and for Barack Obama to be tried for crimes against humanity. Speaking to RT, Morales explained his controversial proposals. In his most controversial demand, Morales said that Obama should face an international trial with human rights watchdogs among the judges. The Bolivian president accused his US counterpart of instigating conflicts in the Middle East to make the region more volatile and to increase the US’s grip on the natural resources it abounds in. He gave Libya as an example of a country where “they arranged for the president to be killed, and they usurped Libya’s oil.” “Now they are funding the rebels that fight against presidents who don’t support capitalism or imperialism,” Morales told Eva Golinger of RT’s Spanish sister channel, Actualidad. “And where a coup d’état is impossible, they seek to divide the people in order to weaken the nation – a provocation designed to trigger an intervention by peacekeeping forces, NATO, the UN Security Council. But the intervention itself is meant to get hold of oil resources and gain geopolitical control, rather than enforce respect for human rights.”


Permalink Brazil's Rousseff to UN: US surveillance an 'affront'

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff lambasted US spying on her country at Tuesday’s UN summit, calling it a “breach of international law.” She further warned that the NSA surveillance, revealed since June, threatened freedom of speech and democracy.

“Meddling in such a manner in the lives and affairs of other countries is a breach of international law and as such it is an affront to the principles that should otherwise govern relations among countries, especially among friendly nations,” Rousseff said. “Without the right to privacy, there is no real freedom of speech or freedom of opinion,” Rousseff told the gathering of world leaders. “And therefore, there is no actual democracy,” she added, criticizing the fact that Brazil had been targeted by the US.

The Guardian: Brazilian president: US surveillance a 'breach of international law'


Permalink Venezuela: U.S. denied airspace permission to presidential plane

Venezuela accused the United States on Thursday of denying President Nicolas Maduro's plane permission to enter U.S. airspace -- a claim that a State Department official denied. Foreign Minister Elias Jaua said U.S. officials have blocked plans for Maduro's presidential plane to fly through Puerto Rican airspace on the way to China. He [correctly] described the move as an aggression and called for an explanation from the U.S. State Department.

Stephen Lendman: Rogue State America
Russia Today: US airspace denial for Maduro is payback for offering asylum to Snowden

Permalink Venezuela: U.S. denied airspace permission to presidential plane

Venezuela accused the United States on Thursday of denying President Nicolas Maduro's plane permission to enter U.S. airspace -- a claim that a State Department official denied. Foreign Minister Elias Jaua said U.S. officials have blocked plans for Maduro's presidential plane to fly through Puerto Rican airspace on the way to China. He [correctly] described the move as an aggression and called for an explanation from the U.S. State Department.

Stephen Lendman: Rogue State America


Permalink Bolivian president to sue US govt for crimes against humanity

Bolivian President Evo Morales will file a lawsuit against the US government for crimes against humanity. He has decried the US for its intimidation tactics and fear-mongering after the Venezuelan presidential jet was blocked from entering US airspace.

“I would like to announce that we are preparing a lawsuit against Barack Obama to condemn him for crimes against humanity,” said President Morales at a press conference in the Bolivian city of Santa Cruz. He branded the US president as a “criminal” who violates international law.

In solidarity with Venezuela, Bolivia will begin preparing a lawsuit against the US head of state to be taken to the international court. Furthermore, Morales has called an emergency meeting of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) to discuss what has been condemned by Venezuela as “an act of intimidation by North American imperialism.” The Bolivian president has suggested that the members of CELAC withdraw their ambassadors from the US to send a message to the Obama Administration. As an additional measure he will call on the member nations of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas to boycott the next meeting of the UN.


Permalink Mexico and Canada declared part of US homeland by Senate maps

As an aide holds up a poster, U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) speaks during a hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee July 31, 2013 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. Sen. Dianne Feinstein referred to the US, Canada and Mexico as “the Homeland” at an NSA Senate briefing on Wednesday, presenting a map that united the three nations as one. At a Senate Judiciary Committee meeting held to acquire details on the National Security Agency’s mass surveillance programs, Sen. Feinstein (D-Calif.) made a geographic mistake in which she united three large countries into one. The error went by without comment during the briefing, but generated a significant response upon closer examination of the map. During the briefing, Feinstein, who serves as chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, was defending the NSA’s data-collection programs when she pulled out a world map that identified North America as the “Homeland”. The newly-declassified diagram showed terror activity that the NSA had allegedly disrupted throughout the world.

The Atlantic Wire: Welcome to the Homeland, Mexico and Canada! - you may also be surprised to learn that our homeland now includes both Mexico and Canada, two areas that we understood to be autonomous nations that are not part of the United States. Normally, this would be written off as a design goof, as one of the NSA's (newly adept) graphics guys using a little more light blue than he ought. This being the NSA, we're not inclined to offer that benefit of the doubt. Is this a way of blending in Canadian and Mexican terror activity disruptions (which, we'll remind you, is different from actual plots interrupted) to give a larger sense of the NSA's success at halting terrorism within our borders? We don't and can't know, of course, since the information about almost all of these 54 events is classified. Just know that the homeland is safe — be it Tampa, Toronto, or Tijuana — and that it's all thanks to the NSA.

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