#BentBritain: #UK admits unlawfully monitoring legally privileged communications!

UK admits unlawfully monitoring legally privileged communications ~ and , The Guardian, Wednesday 18 February 2015.

Intelligence agencies have been monitoring conversations between lawyers and their clients for past five years, government admits

Abdul Hakim Belhaj and Sami al Saadi
The admission comes ahead of a legal challenge brought on behalf of two Libyans, Abdel-Hakim Belhaj and Sami al-Saadi, over allegations that security services unlawfully intercepted their communications with lawyers.  Photograph: PA & AFP

The regime under which UK intelligence agencies, including MI5 and MI6, have been monitoring conversations between lawyers and their clients for the past five years is unlawful, the British government has admitted.

The admission that the activities of the security services have failed to comply fully with human rights laws in a second major area – this time highly sensitive legally privileged communications – is a severe embarrassment for the government.

It follows hard on the heels of the British court ruling on 6 February declaring that the regime surrounding the sharing of mass personal intelligence data between America’s national security agency and Britain’s GCHQ was unlawful for seven years.

The admission that the regime surrounding state snooping on legally privileged communications has also failed to comply with the European convention on human rights comes in advance of a legal challenge, to be heard early next month, in which the security services are alleged to have unlawfully intercepted conversations between lawyers and their clients to provide the government with an advantage in court.

The case is due to be heard before the Investigatory Powers Tribunal (IPT). It is being brought by lawyers on behalf of two Libyans, Abdel-Hakim Belhaj and Sami al-Saadi, who, along with their families, were abducted in a joint MI6-CIA operation and sent back to Tripoli to be tortured by Muammar Gaddafi’s regime in 2004.

A government spokesman said: “The concession the government has made today relates to the agencies’ policies and procedures governing the handling of legally privileged communications and whether they are compatible with the European convention on human rights.

“In view of recent IPT judgments, we acknowledge that the policies adopted since [January] 2010 have not fully met the requirements of the ECHR, specifically article 8 (right to privacy). This includes a requirement that safeguards are made sufficiently public.

“It does not mean that there was any deliberate wrongdoing on their part of the security and intelligence agencies, which have always taken their obligations to protect legally privileged material extremely seriously. Nor does it mean that any of the agencies’ activities have prejudiced or in any way resulted in an abuse of process in any civil or criminal proceedings.”

He said that the intelligence agencies would now work with the interception of communications commissioner to ensure their policies satisfy all of the UK’s human rights obligations.

Cori Crider, a director at Reprieve and one of the Belhaj family’s lawyers said: “By allowing the intelligence agencies free reign to spy on communications between lawyers and their clients, the government has endangered the fundamental British right to a fair trial.

“Reprieve has been warning for months that the security services’ policies on lawyer-client snooping have been shot through with loopholes big enough to drive a bus through.

“For too long, the security services have been allowed to snoop on those bringing cases against them when they speak to their lawyers. In doing so, they have violated a right that is centuries old in British common law. Today they have finally admitted they have been acting unlawfully for years.

“Worryingly, it looks very much like they have collected the private lawyer-client communications of two victims of rendition and torture, and possibly misused them. While the government says there was no ‘deliberate’ collection of material, it’s abundantly clear that private material was collected and may well have been passed on to lawyers or ministers involved in the civil case brought by Abdel hakim Belhaj and Fatima Boudchar, who were ‘rendered’ to Libya in 2004 by British intelligence.

“Only time will tell how badly their case was tainted. But right now, the government needs urgently to investigate how things went wrong and come clean about what it is doing to repair the damage.”

Government sources, in line with all such cases, refuse to confirm or deny whether the two Libyans were the subject of an interception operation. They insist the concession does not concern the allegation that actual interception took place and say it will be for the investigatory powers tribunal hearing to determine the issue.

An updated draft interception code of practice spelling out the the rules for the first time was quietly published at the same time as the Investigatory Powers Tribunal ruling against GCHQ earlier this month in the case brought by Privacy International and Liberty.

The government spokesman said the draft code set out enhanced safeguards and provided more detail than previously on the protections that had to be applied in the security agencies handling of legally privileged communications.

The draft code makes clear that warrants for snooping on legally privileged conversations, emails and other communications between suspects and their lawyers can be granted if there are exceptional and compelling circumstances. They have to however ensure that they are not available to lawyers or policy officials who are conducting legal cases against those suspects.

Exchanges between lawyers and their clients enjoy a special protected status under UK law. Following exposure of widespread monitoring by the US whistleblower Edward Snowden in 2013, Belhaj’s lawyers feared that their exchanges with their clients could have been compromised by GCHQ’s interception of phone conversations and emails.

To demonstrate that its policies satisfy legal safeguards, MI6 were required in advance of Wednesday’s concession to disclose internal guidance on how intelligence staff should deal with material protected by legal professional privilege.

The MI6 papers noted: “Undertaking interception in such circumstances would be extremely rare and would require strong justification and robust safeguards. It is essential that such intercepted material is not acquired or used for the purpose of conferring an unfair or improper advantage on SIS or HMG [Her Majesty’s government] in any such litigation, legal proceedings or criminal investigation.”

The internal documents also refer to a visit by the interception commissioner, Sir Anthony May, last summer to examine interception warrants, where it was discovered that regulations were not being observed. “In relation to one of the warrants,” the document explained, “the commissioner identified a number of concerns with regard to the handling of [legal professional privilege] material”.

Amnesty UK’s legal programme director, Rachel Logan, said: “We are talking about nothing less than the violation of a fundamental principle of the rule of law – that communications between a lawyer and their client must be confidential.

“The government has been caught red-handed. The security agencies have been illegally intercepting privileged material and are continuing to do so – this could mean they’ve been spying on the very people challenging them in court.

“This is the second time in as many weeks that government spies have been rumbled breaking the law.”

#Obama’s ‘Crusaders’ analogy veils the #West’s modern crimes!

Obama’s ‘Crusaders’ analogy veils the West’s modern crimes ~ Ben White, The Nation, February 14, 2015.

Like many children, 13-year-old Mohammed Tuaiman suffered from nightmares. In his dreams, he would see flying “death machines” that turned family and friends into burning charcoal. No one could stop them, and they struck any place, at any time.

Unlike most children, Mohammed’s nightmares killed him.

Three weeks ago, a CIA drone operating over Yemen fired a missile at a car carrying the teenager, and two others. They were all incinerated. Nor was Mohammed the first in his family to be targeted: drones had already killed his father and brother.

Since president Barack Obama took office in 2009, the US has killed at least 2,464 people through drone strikes outside the country’s declared war zones. The figure is courtesy of The Bureau of Investigative Journalism, which says that at least 314 of the dead, one in seven, were civilians.

Recall that for Obama, as The New York Times reported in May 2012, “all military-age males in a strike zone” are counted “as combatants” – unless “there is explicit intelligence posthumously proving them innocent”.

It sounds like the stuff of nightmares.

The week after Mohammed’s death, on February 5, Mr Obama addressed the National Prayer Breakfast, and discussed the violence of ISIL.

“Lest we get on our high horses”, said the commander-in-chief, “remember that during the Crusades and the Inquisition, people committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ.”

These comments prompted a (brief) media storm, with Mr Obama accused of insulting Christians, pandering to the terrorist enemy, or just bad history.

In fact, the president was simply repeating a point often made by liberals since September 11, namely, that all religions have blots on their copy book through the deeds of their followers.

One of the consequences, however, of this invocation of the Crusades – unintended, and all the more significant for it – is to seal away the West’s “sins”, particularly vis-à-vis its relationship to the Middle East, in events that took place a thousand years ago.

The Crusades were, in one sense, a demonstration of raw military power, and a collective trauma for the peoples of the regions they marched through and invaded.

In the siege of Jerusalem in 1099, a witness described how the Europeans ordered “all the Saracen dead to be cast outside because of the great stench, since the whole city was filled with their corpses”.

He added: “No one ever saw or heard of such slaughter of pagan people, for funeral pyres were formed from them like pyramids.”

Or take the Third Crusade, when, on August 20, 1191, England’s King Richard I oversaw the beheading of 3,000 Muslim prisoners at Acre in full view of Saladin’s army.

Just “ancient history”? In 1920, when the French had besieged and captured Damascus, their commander Henri Gourard reportedly went to the grave of Saladin, kicked it, and uttered: “Awake Saladin, we have returned! My presence here consecrates the victory of the Cross over the Crescent.”

But the US president need not cite the Crusades or even the colonial rule of the early 20th century: more relevant reference points would be Bagram and Fallujah.

Bagram base in Afghanistan is where US soldiers tortured prisoners to death – like 22-year-old taxi driver and farmer Dilawar. Before he was killed in custody, Dilawar was beaten by soldiers just to make him scream “Allah!”

Five months after September 11, The Guardian reported that US missiles had killed anywhere between 1,300 and 8,000 in Afghanistan. Months later, the paper suggested that “as many as 20,000 Afghans may have lost their lives as an indirect consequence of the US intervention”.

When it was Iraq’s turn, the people of Fallujah discovered that US forces gave them funerals, not democracy. On April 28, 2003, US soldiers massacred civilian protesters, shooting to death 17 during a demonstration.

When that city revolted against the occupation, the residents paid a price. As Marines tried to quell resistance in the city, wrote The New York Times on April 14, 2004, they had “orders to shoot any male of military age on the streets after dark, armed or not”.Months later, as the Marines launched their November assault on the city, CNN reported that “the sky…seems to explode”.

In their bombardment and invasion of Iraq in 2003, the US and UK armed forces rained fiery death down on men, women and children. Prisoners were tortured and sexually abused. Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis died. No one was held to account.

It is one thing to apologise for the brutality of western Crusaders a thousand years ago. It is quite another to look at the corpses of the victims of the imperialist present, or hear the screams of the bereaved.

In his excellent book The Muslims Are Coming, Arun Kundnani analysed the “politics of anti-extremism”, and describes the two approaches developed by policymakers and analysts during the “war on terror”.

The first approach, which he refers to as “culturalism”, emphasises “what adherents regard as inherent features of Islamic culture”. The second approach, “reformism”, is when “extremism is viewed as a perversion of Islam’s message”, rather than “a clash of civilisations between the West’s modern values and Islam’s fanaticism”.

Thus the American Right was angry with Mr Obama, because for them, it is about religion – or specifically, Islam. Liberals, meanwhile, want to locate the problem in terms of culture.

Both want to avoid a discussion about imperialism, massacres, coups, brutalities, disappearances, dictatorships – in other words, politics.

As Kundnani writes: when “the concept of ideology” is made central, whether understood as “Islam itself or as Islamist extremism”, then “the role of western states in co-producing the terror war is obscured”.

The problem with Mr Obama’s comments on the Crusades was not, as hysterical conservatives claimed, that he was making offensive and inaccurate analogies with ISIL; rather, that in the comfort of condemning the past, he could mask the violence of his own government in the present.

The echoes of collective trauma remain for a long time, and especially when new wounds are still being inflicted. Think it is farfetched that Muslims would still care about a 1,000-year-old European invasion? Then try asking them about Guantanamo and Camp Bucca instead.

Ben White is a journalist and author of Israeli Apartheid

Obama’s ‘Crusaders’ analogy veils the West’s modern crimes
Pep Montserrat for The National

| Venezuela say US banned President Nicolas Maduro from flying over Puerto Rico!

Venezuela say US banned President Nicolas Maduro from flying over Puerto Rico ~ Reuters, The Telegraph.

Venezuela said the United States banned President Nicolas Maduro’s jet from flying through U.S. airspace over Puerto Rico en route to a state visit to China.

Venezuela said the United States banned President Nicolas Maduro's jet from flying through U.S. airspace over Puerto Rico en route to a state visit to China.

Venezuela’s left wing president Nicolas Maduro Photo: Reuters

Maduro is due in Beijing this weekend for bilateral talks. China has become a major lender to his government, and Chinese firms are heavily involved in the OPEC nation’s oil industry.

But Foreign Minister Elias Jaua said a flight plan filed by Venezuela that would have routed Maduro’s plane over Puerto Rico had been rejected by U.S. authorities.

“We received the information from the U.S. authorities that they have denied us the overflight through U.S. airspace,” Jaua told reporters. “We denounce it as yet more U.S. aggression against the Bolivarian Government of Venezuela.”

Jaua said Washington had no right to deny airspace to any presidential plane, but that the move would not stop Maduro from visiting China.

“There’s no valid argument to deny this overflight,” he said. The government was studying other routes, he added, “but we reserve the right to take whatever measures we have to if the U.S. government and its aviation authorities don’t rectify this new assault on Venezuela’s sovereignty.”

Maduro has often clashed with Washington since winning an election in April that was triggered by the death from cancer of his mentor, the late socialist leader Hugo Chavez.

In July, Venezuela said it was ending efforts to improve ties with Washington after the Obama administration’s nominee for envoy to the United Nations vowed to oppose what she called a crackdown on civil society in the “repressive” country.

The latest diplomatic spat is reminiscent of this year’s incident when Bolivia said France, Spain, Italy and Portugal denied their airspace to President Evo Morales‘ jet, apparently on suspicion the aircraft might have been carrying fugitive U.S. intelligence agency contractor Edward Snowden out of Russia.

Days after that, Venezuela’s Maduro became the world’s first leader to offer asylum to Snowden, who is wanted by Washington for disclosing details of secret surveillance programs.

Edited by Steve Wilson



Humility Pill

| White cop shoots dead black man, seeking help after car crash!

CMPD officer charged for shooting, killing unarmed 24-year-old ~ Catherine Bilkey and Tina TerryWSOC-TV.


The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department signed a warrant on Saturday for voluntary manslaughter in the case of an officer who allegedly shot and killed a 24-year-old.

Police have charged 27-year-old Randall Kerrick with voluntary manslaughter.

Officials said that Kerrick turned himself in on Saturday afternoon.

CMPD spent much of the day on Saturday investigating an officer-involved shooting.

Officers said former FAMU football player, Jonathan Ferrell, was shot in the Bradfield Farms Subdivision in Northeast Charlotte early Saturday morning.

Police said Ferrell knocked on a door early in the morning. The woman inside thought it was her husband and opened the door.

“To her surprise it was a person she did not know or recognize. She immediately closed the door, hit her panic alarm and called 911,” said Chief Rodney Monroe.

Eventually, three officers arrived.

“He immediately charged towards the three officers, one in particular. That officer fired his weapon several times, striking the individual multiple times,” said Monroe.

Ferrell died at the scene and a short time after the shooting police found a black car in some nearby woods. It had apparently crashed.

“We believe that vehicle belonged to the individual who was shot. It’s quite possible he was seeking assistance. Based on his accident, it was a pretty serious accident.”

The two other officers were placed on administrative leave while internal affairs investigates exactly what happened.

A press release from CMPD said that an officer tried to use a Taser on Ferrell before the shooting, but it was unsuccessful.

A press release from CMPD following Kerrick’s arrest said, “This is a very unfortunate incident and it has devastated a family as well as caused a great deal of sadness and anxiety in our organization.  However we must always strive to bring forth all facts and evidence in every case to determine when it is appropriate to place criminal charges against a member of the department.”



Related articles

| Tragedy of 4,000 UK babies placed on ‘at risk’ register… before they’re born!

Tragedy of 4,000 babies placed on ‘at risk’ register… before they’re born ~ MARTIN BECKFORD and STEPHEN ADAMSThe Mail on Sunday.


  • New figures mark a 13per cent increase over two years deemed at risk of physical or emotional negligence
  • Campaigners said to put unborn children on register presumes parents will be negligent


Thousands of babies are being put on ‘at risk’ registers by social workers before they are even born, The Mail on Sunday can reveal.

And campaigners say the system is weighted to presume that parents will be unable to adequately care for their children.

New figures released under Freedom of Information laws show that more than 4,000 child protection plans – which are automatically implemented for those registered as at risk – were initiated last year in England for babies still in the womb, which represents a 13 per cent increase over two years.

The figure for the UK as a whole is likely to be nearer 5,000, and hundreds of babies are being taken into care each year within days of birth.

Most put on the registers were deemed at risk of neglect or of physical or emotional abuse, while others were exposed to dangers associated with having parents who were drug addicts, alcoholics or had serious criminal convictions.

Child protection experts insist it is right to keep newborns away from potentially dangerous parents, and argue they have to be more cautious following cases such as the death of Baby P, later named as Peter Connelly, and four-year-old Daniel Pelka, who was starved and beaten by his mother and her lover, finally dying of a severe head injury.

But opponents of the system say that it presumes guilt and that social workers are removing children to cover their own backs.

John Hemming, a Lib Dem MP and vocal critic of the fostering and adoption process, said: ‘There can be good reasons to put an unborn child on a child protection plan.

‘But the system can lead to the wrongful removal of very young babies for all sorts of strange reasons. Once children are removed, only about 20 per cent go back to their parents.’

 Failed: Baby P, Peter Connelly died after abuse was missedFailed: Baby P, Peter Connelly died after abuse was missed


He continued: ‘With child protection, not every case is a Baby P case. But I know that social workers have been fired for saying that a child should go home to its parents. If you put them under that sort of pressure, they are going to say the child should be adopted.’

Ian Josephs, who provides informal legal advice to parents, said: ‘These parents are being punished without committing a crime. In the family courts, they are guilty until proven innocent.’

A child may be put on a protection register if doctors or social workers fear for its safety. The parents are invited to discuss the matter but do not have to be present for the child to be placed on the register. No court order is needed.

Cautionary tale: Four-year-old Daniel Pelka died from a head injury after being starved and beaten by his mother and her loverCautionary tale: Four-year-old Daniel Pelka died from a head injury after being starved and beaten by his mother and her lover


Once a child is registered as at risk, a protection plan will be drawn up. In most cases, it will prescribe regular visits from social workers to check on the child.

But the plans can also be a precursor to court proceedings that will have the child taken into care.

The latest figures from the Department for Education show that 52,120 under-18s became the subject of child protection plans in England in the year ending March 31 2012.

Separate statistics obtained by this newspaper show that at least 4,044 – or almost eight per cent – related to unborn babies. That number grew to 4,153 in the year to March 2013, and was up 13 per cent over two years.

The true numbers are likely to be higher still because 41 of 152 councils failed to respond.

Those that did reply took 179 infants into care on the day they were born, in the year to March 2013. Many more are likely to have been removed within a few weeks.

Bridget Robb, chief executive of the British Association of Social Workers, said: ‘No professional wants to see children subjected to child protection plans.

‘But the increased vigilance arising from baby Peter Connelly’s tragic death has inevitably exposed more instances where sufficiently serious concern exists that children’s services feel the need to at least monitor a family closely.’



| NSA Joke: US Military Intervene over Facebook Event!

NSA Joke: US Military Intervene over Facebook EventJudith HorchertSpiegel Online.

As a joke, a German man recently invited some friends for a walk around a top secret NSA facility. But the Facebook invitation soon had German federal police knocking at his door. They had been alerted by the American authorities.

Normally, Daniel Bangert’s Facebook posts tend to be of the serious variety. The 28-year-old includes news items and other bits of interest he encounters throughout the day. “I rarely post funny pictures,” he says.

Recently, though, he decided to liven up his page with something a bit more amusing — and decided to focus on the scandal surrounding the vast Internet surveillanceperpetrated by the US intelligence service NSA. He invited his friends on an excursion to the top secret US facility known as the Dagger Complex in Griesheim, where Bangert is from.

He described the outing as though it were a nature walk. He wrote on Facebook that its purpose was to undertake “joint research into the threatened habitat of NSA spies.” He added: “If we are really lucky, we might actually see a real NSA spy with our own eyes.” He suggested that those interested in coming should bring along their cameras and “flowers of all kinds to improve the appearance of the NSA spies’ habitat.”

Perhaps not surprisingly, not many of his friends showed much interest in the venture. But the authorities did. Just four days after he posted the invitation, his mobile phone rang at 7:17 a.m. It was the police calling to talk about his Facebook post.

‘I Couldn’t Believe It’

Bangert’s doorbell rang at almost the exact same time. The police on the telephone told him to talk with the officers outside of his door. Bangert quickly put on a T-shirt — which had a picture of NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden on it along with the words “Team Edward” — and answered the door. His neighbor was outside too so as not to miss the fun.

The police wanted to know more about what exactly Bangert had in mind. “I couldn’t believe it. I thought: What? They are coming for such nonsense?”

Bangert says he answered all of the questions truthfully, saying that, yes, his intention was that of heading out to watch the spies. “The officers did smirk a bit,” he notes.

How, though, did the police get wind of Bangert’s planned “nature” walk? A spokeswoman for the police in nearby Darmstadt told SPIEGEL ONLINE that the US Military Police had found the Facebook post and passed it along to German officials. The Military Police are responsible for security within the Dagger Complex, but outside the fence, it is the Germans who are in charge.

Not long later, Bangert got another call asking him to report to Central Commissariat 10 of the German federal police. They too then sent an officer to his home. “The wanted to know if I had connections with (anarchist groups) or other violent people,” Bangert says. He told the officers that he didn’t, repeating over and over that he “just wanted to go for a walk.”

Ignoring the Police

The officers, says Bangert, were unimpressed and called him a “smart aleck,” before hinting strongly that he should obtain a demonstration permit before he embarked on his outing. They then told Bangert not to post anything about their visit on the web.

Bangert took their first piece of advice, registering his “demonstration” even though, as he says, “it wasn’t supposed to be one.” But he ignored the police’s second suggestion and reported on their visit on his Facebook page. “How much more proof do you need,” he wrote. “Everyone says that they aren’t affected. But then I invite people for a walk and write obvious nonsense in the invitation and suddenly the federal police show up at my home.”

The police spokeswoman sought to play down the incident. The officers from Central Commissariat 10 are responsible for public demonstrations, she said. And the fact that the American Military Police reported the Facebook post isn’t surprising either, she said. The police, she noted, usually only learn of publicly announced Facebook parties when they are notified by those affected.

More Walks in the Future?


Nevertheless, news of the incident spread rapidly via Twitter and blogs, and the local media reported on it as well. “My grandma was angry with me,” Bangert says. “She said: ‘You have to be careful or you’ll get sent to jail.'”

He wasn’t sent to jail, of course. But the added interest in his invitation meant that some 70 people gathered on Saturday for the NSA safari in Griesheim — along with two police cars, one in front and one behind. “Some members of the group tried to get the NSA spies to come out of their building,” Bangert wrote on Facebook afterwards. Unfortunately, they didn’t see “any real NSA spies.” But they had a good time nonetheless — to the point that many suggested another walk just like it.

So is he planning a repeat? “I didn’t say that and I didn’t write it anywhere,” Bangert replies. The smart aleck.

Daniel Bangert just wanted to go for a walk.Zoom

Daniel Bangert

Daniel Bangert just wanted to go for a walk.



| ‘Historic’ Drone landing paves way for ‘Killer Robots’ anytime, anywhere!

‘Historic’ Drone Landing Paves Way for ‘Killer Robots’ Anytime, Anywhere ~  Lauren McCauley, Common Dreams.

Aircraft landing of the X-47B proves US military “would take autonomous armed combat anywhere in the planet.”

The landing of the X-47B pilotless drone is just the ‘precursor’ to the future of warfare. (Photo: Timothy Waller/ USNavy/ AP)In an event sure to make “history”—if not for its technical prowess, then for its long-term impact on international warfare—the US Navy Wednesday successfully completed the landing of a fully automated aerial drone on an aircraft carrier at sea.

In what is being billed as a “pivotal moment” for the US military in the “growing global robotics arms race,” the landing—which took place on the deck of the USS George HW Bush off the mid-Atlantic coast—is the first time a “robot performed a feat executable only by the navy’s top pilots,” reports the Guardian.

They continue:

The X-47B, constructed by Northrop Grumman, is a different kind of drone from the Predators and Reapers that have become global symbols of American military power. Contrary to popular understanding, those drones are not actually pilotless. People, usually US air force officers and contractors, fly them remotely, controlling them through instruments resembling those found in a traditional cockpit.

The X-47B is pilotless. Its operations occur thanks to lines of software code that its on-board computer systems execute. Its flight paths are pre-programmed […] although navy officials can take control in the event of a malfunction.

“Precursor to fully autonomous weapons?” tweeted Amy Wareham, Advocacy Director at Human Rights Watch.

The human rights watchdog group has long been sounding the alarm over the potential of ‘killer robots,’ including the X-47B—a craft which they say “would take autonomous armed combat anywhere in the planet.”

And the Associated Press confirms that the successful landing paves the way for the US to “launch unmanned aircraft without the need to obtain permission from other countries to use their bases.”

“Your grandchildren and great-grandchildren and mine will be reading about this historic event in their history books,” boasted Rear Admiral Mat Winter, the head of the navy’s drone programs.

Though the navy plans on “mothballing” the costly X-47B ($1.4bn over four years), there are plans to develop other models of armed drones which will work alongside manned naval aircraft providing “around-the-clock surveillance while also possessing a strike capability.”

The Guardian continues:

[T]he navy will now put its energy into the X-47B’s successor, the Unmanned Carrier-Launched Airborne Surveillance and Strike robot, or UClass. The navy wants to use UClass to augment its carrier air wings – it will not replace manned pilots – providing surveillance flights longer than human pilots can withstand and, if necessary, firing its weapons in battle scenarios too dangerous for human pilots. Unlike the X-47B, the UClass robots will be armed, although navy officers insist that weapons releases will only occur at a human’s direction.

Four companies are competing for the UClass contract, each with their own design for the forthcoming drone.


New Age in Carrier Aviation Takes Off With X-47B Landing.

Northrop Grumman's X-47B just before landing on the USS George H.W. Bush (CVN-77) on July, 10 2013. US Navy Photo

Northrop Grumman’s X-47B just before landing on the USS George H.W. Bush (CVN-77) on July, 10 2013. US Navy Photo

The Navy has entered a new age in carrier aviation with the successful landing of the unmanned Northrop Grumman X-47B on the USS George H.W. Bush (CVN-77), the service announced at 1:45 p.m. EST on Wednesday.

Call sign Salty Dog 502 left Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Md. shortly after 12:00 p.m. EST and flew to the Bush controlled through a complex series of algorithms and navigational sensors and landed on the deck of the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier guided not with a joystick and throttle controls but by an operator with a mouse and a keyboard.

On its final approach to Bush a hypersensitive version of the same GPS technology used to direct families on vacation guided the hook of the tailless aircraft safely to the deck of the carrier and into history.

“The dynamics and complexity of the demonstration is not just flying an airplane. It is operating a system autonomously in and out of the most demanding launch and recovery environment around the world,” Rear Adm. Mat Winter program executive officer for unmanned aviation and strike weapons said in a Tuesday conference call with reporters.
“This is not trivial.”

The landing of the X-47B successfully proved the Unmanned Combat Air System Demonstration (UCAS-D) project and will pave the way to include unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) on carriers in the future.

The Navy’s focus now will be to move beyond the experimental UCAS-D and into a capability that will move from novelty to an organic component of the carrier air wing.

The next step will be development of the Unmanned Carrier Launched Airborne Surveillance and Strike (UCLASS) a capability the Navy wants to field by 2020.

The UCLASS program has run in parallel with the UCAS-D program. According to documents obtained by USNI News, the Navy is looking for a system (consisting of one or more aircraft) that can conduct two 650 nautical mile orbits around a carrier for $150 million.

In June, the Navy issued a preliminary request for proposal (RfP) to Lockheed Martin, Boeing, General Atomics and Northrop Grumman to begin design work on their bids ahead of a full RfP in 2014.

“All of the knowledge out of the program is being transferred to UCLASS,” Winter said.
“UCLASS will benefit from all of what we have done here in X-47B.”


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drone firingA

| US cops arrest man for filming them then shoot his dog! [2:20]

|  US cops arrest man for filming them then shoot his dog! [2:20] ~ YouTube.

While Swat and police waited for people to exit the scene of a reported robbery, a driver, Leon Rosby, pulled up to film the scene managing to annoy other cops who asked him to put his rottweiler in the car before arresting him. Distressed at seeing him get handcuffed, his dog Max, jumped from the car to protect his master so a cop shot him four times.

Rosby’s attorney Michael Gulden said he plans to file a lawsuit against the Hawthorne Police Department. He accused the police of targeting his client because of a pending lawsuit. He said: “There’s been a pattern of harassment against him and other African-Americans in Hawthorne. Last July, the police responded to his home and beat him unnecessarily, then threw him in jail for no reason. We sued for that. We’ll amend that complaint to include the dog incident.”


Courtesy: RT



police state1

| Ecuador Caught in Lie Over Snowden “Safe Pass!”

Ecuador Caught in Lie Over Snowden “Safe Pass” ~ ADAM WEINSTEIN, ABC NEWS.

A “safe pass” allowing NSA leaker Edward Snowden’s travel to Ecuador to seek political asylum was reportedly reviewed and approved by Ecuadorian President Rafael Correaaccording to Univision news. This is after Correa’s government distanced itself from the Snowden affair today and declared the pass invalid.

The pass, a copy of which was obtained Wednesday by Univision, is dated June 22 and asks authorities in other nations to allow Snowden safe passage to Ecuador as a political refugee. That’s also the date that U.S. officials revoked Snowden’s American passport, effectively halting his international travel. He is believed to be in hiding at Moscow’s airport.

In an ironic twist, Univision used metadata attached to an electronic copy of the safe pass to verify that it was composed at the work computer of Javier Mendoza, the Ecuadorian deputy consul in London (see photo above). Mendoza has acted as an intermediary for Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, who is wanted in Sweden in connection with sexual assault allegations, but maintains that U.S. authorities are hunting him for Wikileaks’ political activities.

Metadata also showed that the Snowden pass was last edited, for 48 minutes, by the consul in London, Fidel Narvaez.

Ecuadorian Press Secretary Betty Tola did not directly address the pass’ authenticity but told Univision today that “any document in this regard is not valid and is the sole responsibility of the person who has issued [it],” suggesting that the London consulate might have acted alone in issuing it.

That does not appear to be the case, however. According to communications obtained by Univision, Narvaez wrote the pass at President Correa’s request, and the consul recounted speaking directly with the president about the “unique circumstances” of Snowden’s case.

After the pass was revealed publicly, sources tell Univision, Correa instructed his staff to deny any role in its creation. “The official position is that the Ecuadorian government has NOT authorized any pass for anybody,” those instructions read. “Any document that exists about has no validity.”

It is unclear why Correa’s government would deny a role in assisting Snowden. U.S. authorities have charged the former IT worker with espionage for his role in leaking top-secret documents about American domestic surveillance programs. While they have signaled that countries harboring Snowden could face harsh trade consequences, Ecuador has remained cavalier about the U.S. threat.

In a press conference Thursday with Tola, Ecuadorian Communications Minister Fernando Alverado said the nation didn’t want America’s trade dollars.

In fact, he said, Ecuador was willing to offer the U.S. $23 million a year “in order to provide training in human rights and help avoid attacks on individual privacy.”

PHOTO:  Electronic metadata on the Snowden safe pass shows it originated at the computer of the Ecuadorian deputy consul in London.

Electronic metadata on the Snowden safe pass shows it originated at the computer of the Ecuadorian deputy consul in London. (UNIVISION)

| UK Spending Review: 5-year infrastructure plan with shaky foundations!

Spending Review: The five-year plan for infrastructure with shaky foundations ~ OLIVER WRIGHTThe Independent.

Ministers have said they will spend £100bn on projects – but how much of that is new? Oliver Wright gets digging.

Roads, railways, housing and power stations will share more than £100 billion of capital investment over the next five years, Danny Alexander announced this morning.

Some of the projects, in the best tradition of political spin, had already been announced. Others, it turned out, may never be built at all. But a few could, with a fair wind, perhaps transform Britain’s ageing roads, railways and power stations for the 21st century.  Danny Alexander, Chief Secretary to the Treasury, set out how ministers intend to spend nearly £100bn of taxpayers’ money over the next five years to, as he put it, “build an infrastructure of which Britain can be proud”.

But while some of the transport, housing and energy projects announced were genuinely new, some had a very familiar ring. Others, the small print of his announcement showed, were merely aspirations or “feasibility” studies. There was also no new money. Hidden away in the detail was the rather unpalatable fact that, despite the hype, capital spending will actually fall in 2015-16 to just 1.5 per of GDP. So what is new and what is not?


Mr Alexander told MPs he was announcing the biggest programme of investment in Britain’s roads in 40 years – equating to £28bn over the five years. But a significant proportion of the projects are already well under way – while other may never start at all. Two of the most high-profile projects – making the A1 to Scotland completely dual carriageway and improving the A303 to the West Country – are merely feasibility studies at this stage. However, 25 projects, including major motorway upgrade works around congested junctions, are new.


Mr Alexander announced plans to spend £21bn by 2020 to build classrooms for more than 275,000 new primary school places and 245,000 new secondary school places. Some 150 schools in poor condition will be rebuilt by 2017. The total pot of money had been announced beforehand – what is new is how many places will be created and a speeding up of the refurbishment programmes.


The Government had previously made a commitment that 90 per cent of the UK’s population would be covered by fast broadband by 2015. But Mr Alexander has now extended this target to 95 per cent of people  by 2017.


The Government has already said it will build 200,000 new, affordable houses by the next election. Mr Alexander went well beyond that, saying the Government would build a further 165,000 houses by 2018 – a rate of 55,000 a year. But that is only marginally more than the 53,000 affordable houses that were built in 2009 and 2010.

Flood prevention

This was a genuinely new announcement. Mr Alexander set, for the first time, a specific long-term funding settlement for flood defences, rising to £370m by 2016, which will be guaranteed until 2021. Ministers also announced that they had reached a deal with the insurance industry to ensure that companies did not withdraw cover from people living in areas at high risk of flooding.


Again, much of what Mr Alexander had to say was not new. He confirmed government funding for HS2, and confirmed the announcement that £9bn will be spent on major rail projects – such as the electrification of the railway from London to Cardiff by 2019. Only two new funding announcements were made: £2m to investigate the feasibility of Crossrail 2 – a new rail link between north and south London, and funding for work to begin on electrifying the line which connects Gospel Oak and Barking in London.


Another new announcement. The Government is investing £250m to build a new super-prison in North Wales. But much of the money will come from shutting down old Victorian-era prisons, which are  expensive to run.


Renewing Britain’s ageing power stations, investing in renewable energy supplies and exploiting shale gas were included in Mr Alexander’s statement. These projects will transform the power sector, but the Government won’t really be funding them: we will all be paying for the new power stations and infrastructure through higher energy bills.