Snowden’s spying revelations win Pulitzer Prize


This video from the USA is called Journalists Awarded Pulitzer for Snowden Reports.

By Patrick Martin in the USA:

Pulitzer Prize awarded for Snowden exposures of NSA spying

15 April 2014

Columbia University has given the most prestigious award in journalism, the Pulitzer Prize gold medal for public service, to the newspapers that published articles based on documents leaked by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden.

The Washington Post won for articles written by Barton Gellman and filmmaker Laura Poitras, while the British Guardian won for articles written by Glenn Greenwald, Ewan MacAskill and Poitras. All four journalists made extensive use of the material provided by Snowden, and Greenwald, Poitras and MacAskill met with Snowden in Hong Kong to begin the process of exposing illegal and unconstitutional spying by the NSA.

The citation from Columbia is a political slap in the face to the Obama administration and the US and British intelligence apparatuses. The US government is seeking to extradite Snowden for trial, imprisonment and possible execution as a traitor. Both it and the British government have harassed and sought to intimidate the journalists honored by the awards.

The public service medal is awarded “for a distinguished example of meritorious public service by a newspaper or news site.” It went to the Washington Post “for its revelation of widespread secret surveillance by the National Security Agency, marked by authoritative and insightful reports that helped the public understand how the disclosures fit into the larger framework of national security,” and to the Guardian US “for its revelation of widespread secret surveillance by the National Security Agency, helping through aggressive reporting to spark a debate about the relationship between the government and the public over issues of security and privacy.”

A similar gold medal was awarded to the New York Times in 1972 for its publication of the Pentagon Papers, leaked by another whistleblower from within the national security apparatus, former Pentagon official Daniel Ellsberg.

Edward Snowden issued a statement Monday, through the Freedom of the Press Foundation, congratulating the two newspapers and calling the award a “vindication for everyone who believes that the public has a role in government.”

He continued: “We owe it to the efforts of the brave reporters and their colleagues who kept working in the face of extraordinary intimidation, including the forced destruction of journalistic materials, the inappropriate use of terrorism laws, and so many other means of pressure to get them to stop what the world now recognizes was work of vital public importance.

“This decision reminds us that what no individual conscience can change, a free press can. My efforts would have been meaningless without the dedication, passion, and skill of these newspapers, and they have my gratitude and respect for their extraordinary service to our society. Their work has given us a better future and a more accountable democracy.”

The same four journalists received the George Polk Award for national security reporting, awarded last Friday at a Manhattan hotel. Greenwald and Poitras, both US citizens, returned to the United States to receive the Polk Award, their first visit home since they co-authored the reports on NSA spying and surveillance. Greenwald now lives in Brazil and Poitras in Berlin, to avoid US government interference in their journalistic work.

Both said they had not been stopped entering the country, and both spoke at the Polk Award ceremonies paying tribute to Snowden. “This award is really for Edward Snowden,” said Poitras. Greenwald added that “what he did, coming forward, was absolutely the right thing to do and merits gratitude and not indictments and decades of imprisonment.”

In his Polk acceptance speech, MacAskill pointed out that the Guardian has faced much harsher government attack in Britain than the Guardian US or Post have yet faced in the United States. At one point, British intelligence agents visited the Guardian offices to supervise the destruction of computer hard drives in a heavy-handed effort at intimidation.

Greenwald has not yet made a public comment on the Pulitzer prize, but Poitras said of the award, “I think this is amazing news. It’s a testament to Snowden’s courage, a vindication of his courage and his desire to let the public know what the government is doing.”

Poitras and Snowden also received the Ridenhour prize, named after the Vietnam veteran who worked with Seymour Hersh to expose the My Lai massacre.

Editors of the two newspapers issued statements praising both the journalists and Edward Snowden.

Alan Rusbridger, the editor-in-chief of the Guardian, said, “We are particularly grateful for our colleagues across the world who supported the Guardian in circumstances which threatened to stifle our reporting. And we share this honor, not only with our colleagues at the Washington Post, but also with Edward Snowden, who risked so much in the cause of the public service which has today been acknowledged by the award of this prestigious prize.”

Janine Gibson, the editor of Guardian US, said winning in the public service category was important. Referring to the Columbia citation, she added, “I think those words say something about what Edward Snowden did, and what the reporters and editors did, in the face of a lot of rhetoric and opposition.”

Washington Post Executive Editor Martin Baron said the reporting exposed a national policy “with profound implications for American citizens’ constitutional rights” and the rights of individuals around the world. “Disclosing the massive expansion of the NSA’s surveillance network absolutely was a public service,” he said. “In constructing a surveillance system of breathtaking scope and intrusiveness, our government also sharply eroded individual privacy. All of this was done in secret, without public debate, and with clear weaknesses in oversight.”

He added that without Snowden’s disclosures, “we never would have known how far this country had shifted away from the rights of the individual in favor of state power.”

The parties in the German coalition government, the Christian Democratic Union/Christian Social Union (CDU/CSU) and the Social Democratic Party (SPD), are attempting to prevent a German parliamentary committee from looking into NSA spying by questioning US whistleblower Edward Snowden: here.

Documents revealed by Edward Snowden and analyzed by the daily Le Monde reveal the role of French Telecom/Orange in the collection of data by the French intelligence services over a period of decades. France’s General Directorate of the External Security (DGSE) freely obtains the data of all Orange’s customers, apparently in a totally illegal manner: here.

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Prehistoric harvestman had extra eyes


This video says about itself:

10 April 2014

A 305-million-year-old harvestman fossil, ancestor of modern day arachnids, is more closely relates to the scorpions than spiders. Scientists discovered unusual features: it has 2 sets of eyes on the center and lateral sides of the body.

From Discovery News:

Ancient Daddy Longlegs Had Extra Eyes

APRIL 12, 2014 12:30 PM ET // BY PAUL HELTZEL

A 304-million-year-old fossil discovered in Eastern France shows primitive living harvestmen — more commonly called daddy longlegs — had one more pair of eyes than they do today.

The ancient harvestmen had a pair of eyes along the middle of the body — like their modern counterparts — but they also had a pair of eyes on the side of the body. The findings were reported by researchers from the American Museum of Natural History and the University of Manchester, in the journal Current Biology.

Photos: Look If You Dare: Ancient Spider Family Album

Scientists studied the fossil using high-resolution X-ray imaging at the Natural History Museum, London.

“Our X-ray techniques have allowed us to reveal this fossil in more detail than we would have dreamed possible two decades ago,” said Russell Garwood, a research fellow at the University of Manchester and a lead author on the study, in a release.

Though Harvestmen have eight legs and are categorized as arachnids, they’re not spiders. They’re more closely related to scorpions.

The scientists also examined the expression of an eye-stalk growing gene in harvestmen embryos. The embryos briefly express the gene for the second pair of eyes. But by the time they hatch, the daddy long legs’ second pair of eyes are long gone.

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French Marine Le Pen can be legally called a fascist


This video says about itself:

Madonna Defends Use of Swastika on Marine Le Pen‘s Forehead: Front National Party Threatens Suit

27 July 2012

American pop singer Madonna is defending her use of an image depicting French far-right politician Marine Le Pen with a swastika superimposed on her forehead after Le Pen’s party threatened legal action. Madonna said the image was meant to highlight intolerance toward immigrants and religious minorities and she refused to remove it from a video played during her live performances.

A music video, no longer on YouTube, used to say about itself:

Madonna performed her song ‘Nobody Knows Me‘ in front of a giant screen showing Marine Le Pen with a swastika on her forehead.

Skip to 1:32 in the footage below to see Marine Le Pen in Madonna’s show.

Marine Le Pen then threatened to sue Madonna for this.

The truth evidently hurts for racist French politician Marine le Pen; who inherited her Front National party leadership from her holocaust-denying father Jean-Marie Le Pen.

Though that other video is gone, this one is still on YouTube.

It is called Madonna Stade de France (Nobody Knows Me Interlude). After 56 seconds, the video shows Marine Le Pen with swastika, leading to much sound from the audience.

From Radio France International:

Thursday 10 April 2014

Front National‘s Le Pen can be called fascist, court rules

French far-right leader Marine Le Pen has failed in a bid to prevent political opponents called her a “fascist”. The Front National (FN) leader sued hard-left leader Jean-Luc Mélenchon for use of abusive language over remarks he made during the 2012 presidential campaign in which both were candidates.

“Why do you think that the French people would be the only people to want a fascist as leader?” was Mélenchon’s response to an opinion poll putting Le Pen in the lead in the first round of the presidential race.

The Paris court on Thursday threw out Le Pen’s case, ruling that this was fair comment in political debate.

“If the term ‘fascist’ can have insulting connotations when used outside of any political context or if accompanied by other demeaning terms, it has, on the other hand, no insulting character when employed between political opponents on a political subject,” it declared.

Mélenchon could “legitimately make his opinion known … without transgressing the limits permitted to freedom of expression on the question”, its judgement said.

“The whole FN policy of trying to silence journalists and political opponents … has failed,” commented Mélenchon’s lawyer, Raquel Garrido. “Madame Le Pen has today been condemned to put up with being called a fascist.” …

Le Pen, who is trying to clean up her party’s image, has threatened to sue anyone calling her “extreme”.

Last week she lost another legal battle with Mélenchon when she was fined 10,000 euros because her party distributed a fake leaflet in his name during a by-election in northern France.

Ms Le Pen herself had called Islam ‘green fascism’ and anti-National Front bankers ‘gold fascists’.

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Algerian desert dust infected with French bomb radioactivity


This video is about a French nuclear weapons test in Algeria.

By David Lowry in Britain:

Is Saharan dust radioactive?

Friday 4th April 2014

As Britain is blanketed in a layer of desert sand, DAVID LOWRY asks whether it could be contaminated by fallout from French nuclear tests in Algeria more than 50 years ago

South-easterly winds have coated Britain in a toxic Saharan dust cloud.

Combined with domestic pollution, the sand has caused air quality to plummet and engulfed many parts of the country in smog-like conditions.

But one unreported aspect of the Saharan dust is that it could be radioactive.

French nuclear testing in Algeria, conducted during the height of the independence struggle, spread radioactive fallout across southern Europe in the early 1960s – and the radioactivity that settled on the desert could have been resuspended in this natural fallout event over Britain.

It’s recently been revealed that atmospheric spread of the radioactive fallout was much larger than the French army admitted at the time.

New reports by the France 24 TV station suggest that the fallout from the tests at Reggane in central Algeria stretched across all of west Africa, across the Mediterranean and up to southern Europe.

The information came to light following appeals from military veterans who say their current ill health is linked to exposure to dangerous levels of radiation.

France‘s first nuclear deviceGerboise Bleue” (Blue Jerboa) was more than three times as powerful as the bomb dropped on Nagasaki in 1945.

Thirteen days after it was detonated, in February 1960, radioactive particles ranged from the Central African Republic to Sicily and southern Spain.

At the time the French military authorities said the fallout from the explosion was limited to the desert and that radiation levels were “generally low.”

But associations representing military veterans of France’s nuclear tests in the 1960s and 1970s are demanding that the government admits it knew that the fallout from Saharan tests was dangerous.

“In the 1960s the norms governing acceptable levels of radiation were much less strict than they are now,” said Bruno Barillot, an expert in nuclear tests who is representing veterans’ groups.

“And the medical evidence we have now shows clearly that exposure to this radiation can set off serious illnesses more than three decades later,” he told Le Parisien.

Barillot added that the declassified documents showed that the army at the time was aware that even the 1960s safety levels were largely surpassed and that significant quantities of airborne radioactive particles, particularly iodine 131 and caesium 137, could have been inhaled by large numbers of people in north Africa.

He also complained that the government had been extremely selective in terms of what documents to release.

The Parisien article points out that “if it can be demonstrated that the fallout of the bomb tests spread dangerous levels radiation over large parts of north Africa, many more demands for compensation from individuals and from national governments could be in the pipeline.”

I found this suggestion interesting, as I had been involved in research on this issue over 20 years, when I did research for the now retired Labour MP Llew Smith.

In October 1993 he asked in a written question to the secretary of state for defence whether he would ask his French counterpart for information on the French atmospheric nuclear tests in Reganne, citing article 34 of the Euratom treaty.

This treaty says that member states intending to conduct dangerous experiments in any part of their territories require permission from the European Commission and are required to seek its advice on health and safety.

In reply the junior defence minister Jonathan Aitken answered: “Article 34 of the Euratom treaty does not apply to military activities.”

Just over two years later Labour MEP Alex Smith, for whom I also did research, asked the European Commission what technical information the French government had provided about the environmental and safety implications of nuclear tests in Algeria and which “independent external individuals or institutions” the commission had consulted.

He was told by was told by environment commissioner V Bjerregaard in 1996 that France had notified the commission in July 1959 that it intended to carry out a nuclear explosion in the Sahara desert and “the additional safety measures envisaged.”

The commission replied the following month and “gave a favourable opinion while proposing some modifications.”

Bjerregaard said: “These concerned the timing of the explosion with regard to meteorological conditions, the volume of radioactive dust generated in relation to the characteristics of the soil and the need to comply with the dose limits in … basic safety standards that were laid down by the Council on February 2 1959.”

France carried out the first explosion in February 1960.

Bjerregaard said that “subsequent tests were carried out taking similar safety measures.”

From 1960 to 1996, France carried out 210 nuclear tests, 17 in the Algerian Sahara and 193 in Mururoa Atoll in French Polynesia.

Yet Bjerregaard admitted that “no further notifications to the commission in terms of Article 34 of the Euratom Treaty were received, neither at the start of nuclear testing at Mururoa in 1966 nor before underground testing [in the South Pacific] was resumed on September 5 1995.”

So clearly Euratom’s remit did apply to military nuclear activities, despite the MoD denial.

For more of David Lowry’s writing visit drdavidlowry.blogspot.co.uk.

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Dutch anti-Wilders-Le Pen poster


Dutch poster about Le Pen and Wilders

This is a poster from the Netherlands about the cooperation in the present European election campaign between Dutch xenophobic politician Geert Wilders and his extreme Right French colleague Marine Le Pen.

On the left in the poster, Jean-Marie Le Pen, founder, honourary president, father of his daughter Marine whom he appointed as successor, European parliament member and 2014 European election candidate of the National Front party is quoted: “The holocaust is a detail in history“.

In the center of the poster, daughter-successor Marine Le Pen agrees (she is on record saying that the only difference between her and her father is that she has more hair).

On the right of the poster, Geert Wilders says: “There is nothing wrong with the National Front“.

The caption at the bottom of the poster says: “Today, Wilders is in bed with all kinds of extreme Right parties which are full of racists, holocaust deniers and LGBTQ haters“.

Finally, the poster refers to the site WildersBFF.nl, about who Wilders’ ‘Best Friends Forever‘ are.

The French fascists are buoyant.  Brimming with energy after recent electoral success, the leader of the Front national (FN) Marine Le Pen has come up with a new way of punishing the Mohammedan interlopers.  Their children should be made to eat pork or starve.  And in towns that the FN have taken control of, this will be policy: here.

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French National Front politician advocates concentration camps for Roma


This video from Romania says about itself:

The exile from Bassarabia, a documentary about [Hitler's] Roma holocaust

28 Jan 2013

A documentary made by the National Roma Center in cooperation with E-Romani Glinda from Sweden.

From The Local in France:

‘Concentrate’ Roma in ‘camps‘: far-right runner

Published: 04 Mar 2014 13:26 GMT+01:00
Updated: 04 Mar 2014 13:26 GMT+01:00

A National Front party candidate running in Paris’s municipal elections has caused outrage by suggesting the best way to deal with the country’s Roma population was to “concentrate” them in “camps”. It is just the latest outrageous gaffe made by National Front affiliates.

In a blog posting, the top candidate on the National Front’s electoral list in Paris’s posh 6th arrondissement lashed out at the presence of Roma people in his district and offered up a solution that has caused outrage among anti-racism campaigners.

Paul-Marie Coûteaux, a candidate for Marine Le Pen’s “FN-Rassemblement Blue Marine” party, wrote in his February 19th post: “But what can the Minister of the Interior do–apart from concentrating these foreign people in camps–where life would undoubtedly be so below what they counted on that they would prefer to flee such inhospitable territory?”

The comments were naturally seized upon by anti-racism campaigners in a country which has often been criticized for its policy of mass deportations of Roma, which reached record levels last year.

In a statement SOS Racism denounced “Coûteaux’s “vile words” and announced it would press charges of racism in the coming days “in light of the severity and wretchedness of this anti-republican text.”

His words also provoked outrage among Twitter users. “Apart from this the National Front are not racist hey? Paul-Marie Coûteaux wants to replay the night of the long knives,” wrote one of the many tweeters who compared his words to Hitler’s policies.

“Couteaux” means “knives” in French.

National Front election threat

The ensuing anger his comments drew online and in the French press came just weeks before municipal elections are to be held across the country.

There are concerns the National Front, with its anti-immigrant and anti-Europe stance, could put up a strong showing as it attempts to continue its recent march towards mainstream power. …

‘I’d prefer to see her hanging from a tree’

In October Anne-Sophie Leclere, who was due to run on the party’s ticket in the northern French region of Ardennes in March, was suspended by the party after comparing Justice Minister Christiane Taubira, who is black, to a monkey in a Facebook post.

The post included a photo montage of a baby monkey, with the caption “18 months”, next to an image of Taubira with “now” written below it. Leclere attempted to explain the post to a TV news reporter.

National Front compares Black minister to ape

“Honestly, she’s a wild animal, coming on TV with that devil’s smile,” Leclere told France TV.

“I’d prefer to see her swinging from a tree than in government,” she added, denying that she or the photo were racist, claiming, “I have friends who are black.”

Only last month another National Front candidate was barred from running for election after it was discovered he had a tatoo honouring a unit of Hitler’s SS division that operated in France.

Critics say this type of incident and the words of candidates such as Coûteaux reveal the true colours of the National Front’s members.

“Concentrating Roma in camps,… yes the National Front has changed… or not! It’s the same old shop, again and again,” Tweeted Damien Toumi.

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