US electronic surveillance in Mexico reportedly targeted top officials, including both current and previous presidents. Intelligence produced by the NSA helped Americans get an upper hand in diplomatic talks and find good investment opportunities.
The US National Security Agency was apparently very happy with its successes in America’s southern neighbor, according to classified documents leaked by Edwards Snowden and analyzed by the German magazine, Der Spiegel. It reports on new details of the spying on the Mexican government, which dates back at least several years.
The fact that Mexican President Peña Nieto is of interest to the NSA was revealed earlier by Brazilian TV Globo, which also had access to the documents provided by Snowden. Spiegel says his predecessor Felipe Calderon was a target too, and the Americans hacked into his public email back in May 2010.
The access to Calderon electronic exchanges gave the US spies “diplomatic, economic and leadership communications which continue to provide insight into Mexico’s political system and internal stability,” the magazine cites an NSA top secret internal report as saying. The operation to hack into the presidential email account was dubbed “Flatliquid” by the American e-spooks.
The bitter irony of the situation is that Calderon during his term in office worked more closely with Washington than any other Mexican president before him. In 2007 he even authorized the creation of a secret facility for electronic surveillance, according to a July publication in the Mexican newspaper, Excelsior.
The surveillance on President Nieto started when he was campaigning for office in the early summer of 2012, the report goes on. The NSA targeted his phone and the phones of nine of his close associates to build a map of their regular contacts. From then it closely monitored those individuals’ phones as well, intercepting 85,489 text messages, including those sent by Nieto.
After the Globo TV report, which mentioned spying on Mexico only in passing, Nieto stated that US President Barack Obama had promised him that he would investigate the accusations and punish those responsible of any misconduct. The reaction was far milder than that from Brazilian President Dilma Rouseff, another target of NSA’s intensive interest, who has since canceled a planned trip to the US and delivered a withering speech at the UN General Assembly, which condemned American electronic surveillance.
Another NSA operation in Mexico dubbed “Whitetamale” allowed the agency to gain access to emails of high-ranking officials in country’s Public Security Secretariat, a law enforcement body that combats drug cartels and human trafficking rings. The hacking, which happened in August 2009, gave the US information about Mexican crime fighting, but also provided access to “diplomatic talking-points,” an internal NSA document says.
In a single year, this operation produced 260 classified reports that facilitated talks on political issues and helped the Americans plan international investments.
“These TAO [Tailored Access Operations – an NSA division that handles missions like hacking presidential emails] accesses into several Mexican government agencies are just the beginning – we intend to go much further against this important target,” the document reads. It praises the operation as a “tremendous success” and states that the divisions responsible for this surveillance are “poised for future successes.”
Economic espionage is a motive for NSA spying, which the agency vocally denied, but which appears in the previous leaks. The agency had spied on the Brazilian oil giant, Petrobras, according to earlier revelations. This combined with reports that the NSA hacked into the email of Brazilian President Dilma Rouseff, triggered a serious deterioration of relations between the two countries.
While the NSA declined comment to the German magazine, the Mexican Foreign Ministry replied with an email, which condemned any form of espionage on Mexican citizens. The NSA presumably could read that email at the same time as the journalists, Der Spiegel joked.
Can the world’s biggest corporations act with impunity? When it comes to General Electric (GE) — the eighth-largest U.S. corporation, with $146.9 billion in sales and $13.6 billion in profits in 2012 — the answer appears to be “yes.”
Let us begin with a small-scale case in upstate New York, where in late September 2013 GE announced that it would close its electrical capacitor plant in the town of Fort Edward. Some two hundred workers will lose their jobs and, thereafter, will have little opportunity to obtain comparable wages, pensions, or even employment in this economically distressed region. Ironically, the plant has been highly profitable. Earlier in the year, the local management threw a party to celebrate a record-breaking quarter. But the high-level financial dealings of a vast multinational operation like GE are mysterious, and the company merely announced that the Fort Edward plant was “non-competitive.” The United Electrical Workers (UE), the union that has represented the workers there for the past seventy years, has already begun a vigorous campaign of resistance to the plant closing, but it is sure to be an uphill battle.
If we dig deeper into the record, a broader pattern of corporate misbehavior emerges. Indeed, the Fort Edward factory is one of two GE plants that polluted the communities at Fort Edward and nearby Hudson Falls, as well as a 197-mile stretch of the Hudson River, with 1.3 million pounds of cancer-causing PCBs for several decades. Worried about the dangers of PCBs, workers asked managers about them, and were told that these toxins were perfectly safe — in fact, that the workers should rub the PCBs on their heads to combat baldness! When the extent of this environmental disaster began to be revealed in the 1970s, GE began a lengthy campaign to deny it and, later, a multimillion dollar public relations campaign to prevent remedial action by the Environmental Protection Administration. GE lost this battle, for the EPA insisted upon the dredging of the Hudson River and ordered GE to pay for it. Thus, the Hudson Valley became the largest Superfund cleanup site in the United States, with a project that will take decades to complete.
GE has produced other environmental disasters, as well. Three GE nuclear reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power site in Japan melted down on March 31, 2011. This was the world’s worst nuclear accident in three decades, and quickly spread radioactive contamination nearly one hundred fifty miles. Indeed, the stricken reactors are still sending three hundred tons a day of radioactive water flooding into the Pacific Ocean. Dr. Helen Caldicott, who has studied nuclear power for decades, has estimated that up to 3.5 million people could eventually die from cancer thanks to the Fukushima radiation release. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, when these boiling water nuclear reactors were installed, GE’s engineers and management knew that their design was flawed. But the company kept selling them to unsuspecting utilities around the world, including many in the United States. As a result, there are still thirty-five GE boiling water reactors operating in this country, most of them located near population centers east of the Mississippi River. Currently, in fact, more than 58 million Americans live within fifty miles of a GE nuclear reactor.
Another important product produced by GE is the export of jobs. According to an extensive New York Times report on GE in March 2011: “Since 2002, the company has eliminated a fifth of its work force in the United States while increasing overseas employment.” By the end of 2010, another study found, 54 percent of GE’s 287,000 employees worked abroad. Not surprisingly, the company’s overseas operations in that year provided most of its total revenue. Responding to GE’s claim that it had created thousands of new jobs in the United States during the Obama administration, Chris Townsend, the political action director of the UE, produced a list of 40 U.S. plants the company closed in the country during the same period.
Townsend also noted that, even when GE kept its operations going in the United States, it slashed wages, sometimes by as much as 45 percent at a time. For example, the work of the Fort Edward plant will be moved to Clearwater, Florida, a non-union site where GE pays many workers $12 an hour and hires others through a temp agency at $8 an hour — little more than the minimum wage.
Although technically a U.S. corporation, GE — with operations in 130 nations — apparently feels little loyalty to the United States. Jack Welch, a former GE CEO, once remarked: “Ideally, you’d have every plant you own on a barge to move with currencies and changes in the economy.” According to a Bloomberg analysis, to avoid paying U.S. taxes, GE keeps more of its profits overseas than any other U.S. company — $108 billion by the end of 2012. Most of these profits, GE declared, would be invested in its foreign business enterprises. Thanks to this tax dodge and others, GE reportedly paid an average annual U.S. corporate income tax rate of only 1.8 percent between 2002 and 2011. In 2010, when GE reported worldwide profits of $14.2 billion, it paid no U.S. corporate income tax at all. Instead, it claimed a tax benefit of $3.2 billion. This is a sweet deal for that giant corporation, for the official corporate tax rate is 35 percent.
Despite this appalling record, the U.S. government has been very generous to GE. During the financial crisis of 2008-2009, the federal government’s Temporary Liquidity Guarantee Program loaned approximately $85 billion to GE Capital, the company’s huge finance arm that accounts for roughly half of GE’s profits. GE needed the bailout because, among other reasons, GE Capital was marketing subprime mortgages, making GE the tenth-largest subprime lender in the United States. The Federal Reserve also bought $16.1 billion worth of short-term corporate i.o.u.’s from GE in late 2008, when the public market for this kind of debt had nearly frozen, and GE became one of the largest beneficiaries of this federal program. In yet a further indication of GE’s influence, President Obama appointed Jeffrey Immelt, GE’s CEO, as chair of his Council on Jobs and Competitiveness, which strategizes about how to revive America’s manufacturing base. One of Immelt’s favorite panaceas is to end taxes on the overseas profits of corporations.
Thus, it might seem that those two hundred embattled workers at Fort Edward have no possibility at all of effectively challenging a corporation this wealthy and influential. But stranger things have happened in the United States — especially when Americans have had their fill of corporate arrogance.
The famous Israeli analyst of Arab affairs, Ehud Yaari, is urging Israel to take advantage of the historical situation that the Arab region is going through to “defeat” Hamas with the help of Egypt.
Yaari, a commentator on Israeli television’s Channel Two, also said in an interview with Maariv newspaper that Al-Sisi’s actions are “excessive” and have not only affected the Islamists, but also figures of the liberal opposition.
For example, Ehud noted that a large group of the liberal opposition’s senior leaders have now left Egypt, citing Ayman Nour, who went to Lebanon, and Mohamed El-Baradei, who went back to his home in Vienna.
In regards to the Gaza Strip and Hamas, he stressed that there is now a golden opportunity to topple Hamas in Gaza. He called on Israel to take advantage of this and said, “Today we can clearly see a mutual interest between Israel and Egypt.”
The Associated Press ran an alarming news piece on 9/6/13: Climate Change Threatens Caribbean’s Water Supply
It was picked up and echoed around the world, from Time Magazine’s Space and Science section in the US to CBC Canada to ABC Australia to ZeeNews India. The headline was everywhere, repeated at the Huffington Post as ‘Caribbean water supplies severely threatened by climate change.” The AP story reported on contemporary expert warnings at an August 2013 UN conference in St. Lucia. The lead AP paragraph is quite clear:
“Experts are sounding a new alarm about the effects of climate change for parts of the Caribbean—the depletion of already strained drinking water throughout much of the region.”
Experts like Avril Alexander, Caribbean coordinator of Global Water Partnership:
“When you look at the projected impact of climate change, a lot of the impact is going to be felt through water.”
Experts like Lystra Fletcher-Paul, Caribbean land/water officer for the UN FAO:
“Inaction is not an option. The water resources will not be available.”
Yet another anthropogenic global warming alarm, and just in time for IPCC AR5, whose newly released WG1 chapters 7 and 11 say there is high confidence that dry regions will get drier, wet regions will get wetter, and storms will get stormier. “But there is only low confidence in the magnitude.” These Caribbean experts are much more certain—Caribbean water resources will not be available.
Little in this MSM AP news is what it seems. Paragraph 2 starts out saying rising sea levels could contaminate Caribbean fresh water supplies. What a curious assertion. Less dense fresh water floats on top of salt water no matter the sea level. Excessive groundwater draw-down can cause saltwater intrusion from below. That is already a problem in urbanized Broward County, Florida despite proximity to the Everglades. And on the Tuvalu atolls in the Pacific, where government owned tourist hotels have strained its very limited groundwater capacity. Tuvalu is another urban development problem, not AGW. It was caused by Tuvalu’s government itself, eager to develop ecotourism (diving) after their new Funafuti runway was built with World Bank financing.
Saltwater intrusion doesn’t apply much to Caribbean island groundwater. The islands are mountainous. Pico Duarte in the DR is 3098m. Pic la Selle in Haiti is 2680m. Jamaica’s Blue Mountain is 2256m. Cuba’s Pico Turquina is 1974m. Antigua’s ‘Boggy Peak’ is 402m. St. Croix’ ‘Mount Eagle’ is 355m. Barbados is only hilly, with a maximum elevation of ‘just’ 343m. Barbados:
Rising sea levels will not contaminate Caribbean fresh water supplies.
The AP reported that Jason Johnson, head of the Caribbean Water and Wastewater Association, said the real issue is groundwater replenishment.
“Many Caribbean nations rely exclusively on underground water for their needs, a vulnerable source that would be hit hard by climate change effects. That’s the greatest concern. Those weather patterns may change, and there may not necessarily be the means for those water supplies to be replenished at the pace that they have historically been replenished.”
The AP noted some of the islands experienced an unusual dry spell in 2012. That’s weather. But Cedric Van Meerbeck, climatologist with the Caribbean Institute for Meteorology & Hydrology, made the inevitable AGW connection:
“There are a number of indications that the total amount of rainfall in much of the Caribbean would be decreasing by the end of the century.”
Since 2012 was dry, and AR5 WG1 Chapter 7 executive summary says dry will get dryer, perhaps IPCC pronouncements are the indications. But regionally down-scaled GCMs cannot make such predictions on multi-decadal time scales. 
Intense rains fully ameliorated the unusual 2012 dry spell early in the usual 2013 Caribbean tropical storm season. AR5 WG1 7.6.2 also says wet will get wetter and storms stormier. That worries Barnard Ettinoffe, President of the Caribbean Water and Sewerage Association:
“Heavy rains mean there’s not enough time for water to soak into the ground as it quickly runs off.”
Climate change causes dry to get drier and wet to get wetter according to AR5 WG1 188.8.131.52.1. It threatens Caribbean island water supply both ways!
What is actually going on was clued in the lead AP paragraph above—depletion of already strained water supplies throughout much of the region.
Much of the region is not correct. The AP story cites a 2012 study from British investment risk firm Maplecroft  saying Barbados is most at risk, but Cuba and the Dominican Republic also have high water security risk. On the large island of Hispaniola, the Dominican Republic has 2069m3 of renewable water per capita according the World Bank. Cuba has 3381m3. The UK (another island for comparison sake) has 2311m3 but is not a water risk. The only way Cuba and the Dominican Republic could have a high water security risk rating (when the UK doesn’t) is through some illogic unrelated to water.
Barbados (although verdant, as the above picture proves) does have the least per capita renewable water in the Caribbean, only 284m3. That is because Barbados water consumption has doubled over the past 50 years  as its population has grown from ≈232K to ≈280K while its per capita GDP tripled from ≈$4k to ≈$12k. Water has become a major problem, and Barbados doesn’t have the oil wealth to import food (virtual water) or desalinate seawater like Saudi Arabia (86m3). Barbados’ water problem is anthropogenic, but not AGW. It is about unsustainable population growth and economic development on a smallish dryish island–just like on Tuvalu.
Another Caribbean country with current water problems is Antigua/Barbuda, at 590m3. Neither indigenous Caribbean tribes nor Spanish conquistadors settled those islands because of insufficient fresh water. The British did later. The country’s population has almost doubled from ≈54k in 1960 to ≈90k today. That always eventually causes finite resource problems. And now has in naturally dry Antigua/Barbuda.
Climate change does not threaten Caribbean water supplies. Population growth and economic development already do on some of the smaller islands. And they are using climate change to ‘extort’ financial aid (e.g. for desalination) from the usual rich ‘guilty’ AGW culprits.
The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change organized this regional conference (at St. Lucia’s luxurious Bay Gardens Hotel/Resort) for Caribbean environment ministers and politicians. The UN organizer’s locally televised purpose was to give “these less developed country ministers and politicians the information and tools to know what to ask for in the negotiations leading up to the new world agreements of 2015”. That starts at COP19 in Warsaw in November 2013.
It is no coincidence the conference was held on St. Lucia. Its minister presently heads the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS). AOSIS says its 44 member states comprise 30% of developing countries, 20% of UN member states, and 5% of world population. The AOSIS agenda for COP19 is clear from its PR after being disappointed at June 2013 Bonn meetings:
At the closing of the latest round of U.N. climate talks, the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS), a group of 44 low-lying and coastal countries that are highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, released the following statement:
“After losing two weeks to needless procedural wrangling, it is worth recalling the scale of the challenge we face and the precious little time remaining to meet it… Therefore an international mechanism to address the permanent injury our islands are experiencing [emphasis added] must be established this year at the Warsaw conference.”
Tuvalu is the AOSIS member most aggressively agitating for UN ‘climate change aid’, having experienced saltwater intrusion caused by government tourist hotel development. Hence the AP story’s odd second paragraph, which is unrelated to the Caribbean but right in the AOSIS (Tuvalu) lobbying sweet spot.
Hey mon, its Babylon politricks. (H/T to Bob Marley and Jamaica, a Caribbean island of 2.7 million people enjoying 2473m3 renewable water per capita and fantastic reggae music.)
 Pielke Sr., Regional Climate Downscaling: What’s the Point, EOS 93: 52-53 (2012)
 Maplecroft Global Risk Analytics, firstname.lastname@example.org
 Available at data.worldbank.org/indicator/ER.H2O.INTR.PC
 Barbados Free Press editorial on water rationing 2/28/10
Yesterday, Hillary Clinton offered a rousing endorsement of “longtime family friend” Terry McAuliffe in his second run for Governor of Virginia. McAuliffe certainly has been a good friend to the Clintons, having once made them a $1.35 million gift which, after becoming a scandal, turned into a loan. But the most interesting parts of McAuliffe’s history often go unnoticed, including his links to the security upgrades at the World Trade Center (WTC) in the late 1990s.
One of the primary companies involved in the security upgrades for the WTC was Ensec International, founded by Charles Finkel. Ensec’s Florida subsidiary had an office on the 33rd floor of the North Tower. At the same time, Finkel was an export sales executive for a company called Engesa, a manufacturer of tanks and other military vehicles for Operation Desert Storm. Engesa was a Saudi-approved supplier.
Ensec’s responsibility at the WTC involved setting up a new system for securing the basement levels, particularly in the parking garages. It was reported that the access control system used was manufactured and installed by Ensec. The system included proprietary software, proximity card readers and vehicle identification tags for all registered vehicles. The system also included cameras, located “in critical locations within the complex, such as machine rooms, computer areas, visitor areas and other sensitive locations.”
Lockheed Martin subcontracted the PANYNJ work to Ensec in November of 1996. This was the same time that Carlyle Group employee and Iran-Contra suspect Barry McDaniel was hired to run operations for the highly suspicious WTC security contractor Stratesec. And just as Ensec obtained the contract to work alongside McDaniel and Stratesec, it added Terry McAullife as a director.
Before joining Ensec, McAuliffe had been involved in a number of suspicious business dealings. For example, he was linked to Teamster related corruption. And he was also involved in a lawsuit regarding Loral Space, a company investigated for collaborating with and giving secrets to the Chinese for use in satellite and intercontinental ballistic missile programs.
The charges against McAuliffe in the Loral Space scandal were that he agreed “to participate in this scheme to sell seats on taxpayer-financed foreign trade missions and other government services in exchange for campaign contributions to the Democratic National Committee (DNC).” McAuliffe also “played a central role in selecting trade mission participants and, on information and belief, securing other favorable treatment from the Clinton Administration for Defendant Loral” It was also reported that McAuliffe “prominently figured among those selected for participating in the high-profile Commerce Department trade mission to China was Defendant Schwartz, who would go on to become the single largest contributor to the DNC.” Bernard Schwartz was the billionaire CEO of Loral.
The CEOs of Hughes Aircraft, Loral, and Lockheed co-wrote a letter to President Clinton, in October 1995, asking the president to “transfer all responsibility for commercial satellite export licensing to the Commerce Department.” Hughes was run by James Abrahamson at the time. Abrahamson would go on to be a director at Stratesec and later, with James Clapper, at satellite spy company GeoEye. Hughes, Loral, and Lockheed ended up paying enormous fines for illegal exports of advanced missile technology to China, and Hughes was charged with 123 counts of national security violations. But in 1996, Clinton did move oversight of the satellite exports to the Department of Commerce and the three CEOs thanked him publicly.
McAuliffe was linked to another company that was mired in scandal―Global Crossing. It was reported that McAuliffe purchased $100,000 in Global Crossing stock before the company went public and cashed out several years later for $18 million (some reports put it at a mere $8 million). Richard Perle was a lobbyist for Global Crossing, which was a partner in several deals with the Chinese company Hutchison Whampoa, called an “arm of the PLA [People's Liberation Army].” Li Ka-Shing was the Chinese billionaire owner of Hutchison who invested in firms owned by Winston Partners and employed Winston cofounder Marvin Bush’s brother, Neil Bush, as a consultant.
In 2001, McAuliffe became Chairman of the DNC. Between that role and his later job as campaign chairman for Hillary Clinton’s Presidential run, McAuliffe worked as Vice-Chairman of Carret investments. McAuliffe was hired at Carret by Alan Quasha, who once “bailed out George W. Bush’s failing oil company in 1986, folding Bush into his company, Harken Energy, thus setting him on the path to a lucrative and high-profile position as an owner of the Texas Rangers baseball team, and the presidency.”
Alan Quasha had owned Carret since 2003. But he was previously known for his leadership of Harken Energy, and thereby, his connection to the many suspicious organizations related to Harken, including BCCI. At Carret and Harken, Quasha had a partner named Hassan Nemazee. An investor in Harken and the founder of the Iranian-American PAC, Nemazee was also associated with the RAND Corporation. Nemazee was later charged with running a $292 million ponzi scheme.
In any case, Ensec International and its leaders should have been investigated for possible security breaches at the WTC. The management structure at Ensec, including its arms dealer founder Charles Finkel and director Terry McAuliffe, should have led the 9/11 Commission and NIST to consider the problems that might have resulted from this company having rebuilt the access systems for the WTC basement levels. Additionally, the fact that Lockheed Martin had subcontracted the PANYNJ work to Ensec was one indicator that these companies might have benefited from the attacks.
The official U.S. investigations into 9/11 are over but people should keep in mind that certain political figures remain from the glory days of the Bush and Clinton administrations. McAuliffe is one of those political figures and he has a suspicious background that includes unbelievable strokes of financial fortune and work for some apparently very powerful, international operators. Virginia residents might wonder what favors he might do as Governor for those old friends in high places.