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July 19, 2013

Is Chevron using the CIA to spy on activists?

Are CIA analysts helping Chevron spy on activists? | EarthRights International
Here is what we know: First, Chevron and Gibson Dunn have a demonstrated practice of hiring aggressive investigative firms to conduct surveillance and other undercover work in connection with the litigation over contamination in Ecuador. Examples include Kroll, Inc., Investigative Research Inc., the Mason Investigative Group, and Custom Investigative Service. Firms like these are able to carry out the dirty work for corporations like Chevron and their corporate counsel. For example, a lawyer and a private investigator, both working for Chevron, brought a suitcase full of cash to a former judge who, unsurprisingly, has since become their key witness. Bribery? Well, not according to Chevron. We’ll see. Kroll, Inc., another one of Chevron’s “risk consulting” firm, made the news recently when then-employee Sam Anson, attempted to recruit a young journalist to secretly dig up dirt on the Ecuadorian plaintiffs for Chevron. She refused, and revealed the plan. Second, it is well known that private intelligence and investigative firms often employ former CIA agents. In fact, Investigative Research Inc. is run by Douglas Beard, a former CIA agent. Third, the CIA and other intelligence agencies have an acknowledged policy of allowing active-duty agency personnel to do work on the side for private firms. I can’t help but find this last point particularly concerning. The ethically questionable - if not outright illegal - purposes for which Chevron has used its private investigate firms is alarming on its own. But if it’s possible our government’s intelligence staff are assisting Chevron in its effort to bend the law to avoid accountability, that is all the more troubling.

July 16, 2013

Reuters is banning its reporters from covering climate change or even mentioning it

Reuters Exposed: Publication Openly Hostile To Climate Coverage, Top Editor Doubts Climate Science | ThinkProgress
David Fogarty, former Reuters climate change correspondent in Asia, came forward on Monday to describe the hostility he faced inside the organization toward any climate-related story. According to Fogarty, “from very early in 2012, I was repeatedly told that climate and environment stories were no longer a top priority for Reuters and I was asked to look at other areas. Being stubborn, and passionate about my climate change beat, I largely ignored the directive.” Fogarty offers an inside look at the growing “climate of fear” within Reuters and its reticence to cover one of the most pressing issues of our time — a shift that ultimately led to his departure. In April last year, Paul Ingrassia (then deputy editor-in-chief) and I met and had a chat at a company function. He told me he was a climate change sceptic. Not a rabid sceptic, just someone who wanted to see more evidence mankind was changing the global climate. Progressively, getting any climate change-themed story published got harder. It was a lottery. Some desk editors happily subbed and pushed the button. Others agonised and asked a million questions. Debate on some story ideas generated endless bureaucracy by editors frightened to take a decision, reflecting a different type of climate within Reuters — the climate of fear. By mid-October, I was informed that climate change just wasn’t a big story for the present, but that it would be if there was a significant shift in global policy, such as the US introducing an emissions cap-and-trade system. Very soon after that conversation I was told my climate change role was abolished. I was asked to take over the regional shipping role and that I had less than a week to decide.

July 09, 2013

Was Michael Hastings' car hacked to kill him?

San Diego 6 - Details of Reporter Hastings' Death Remain Elusive
After reading accounts of the car crash and examining the scene of the accident erroneous details were hard to overlook. Stories discussed the road as narrow, not true, it’s a four-lane road with a large median dividing traffic. Some reports said there was a curve in the road, also not true; in fact it’s straight freeway-to-freeway. Also, there was no damage to the median curb, only fire discoloration. But the most significant missing evidence was the absence of any skid marks—even though the car made a 60-degree turn into a palm tree. Research of this topic reveals a new angle to this story, namely —Boston Brakes. This theory was explained by a former Marine Gordon Duff who refers to the “Boston Brakes” technique, in which “drive by wire” cars, specifically a Mercedes Benz, can be manipulated remotely to simulate an out-of-control accident, according to his Veterans Today story (The 2010 story is a must read). The story details are eerily similar to Hastings fiery accident scene as there were no skid marks. Adding credence to the possible car-hacking scenario is former U.S. National Coordinator for Security, Infrastructure Protection, and Counter-terrorism Richard Clarke. After news broke on the Hastings car accident, he confirmed the “drive by wire” concept. Clarke told The Huffington Post that a single-vehicle crash is “consistent with a car cyber attack. There is reason to believe that intelligence agencies for major powers -- including the United States -- know how to remotely seize control of a car.” Specifically, a 2010 research project conducted by the University of California at San Diego and the University of Washington Engineering Departments demonstrated how easy it was to override a vehicle’s computer system and drive it remotely. A request for an on/off camera interview by this reporter was declined.