BRITAIN PLANS MAJOR EXERCISES IN POLAND AMID UKRAINE CRISIS

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Largest British contribution to exercises in eastern Europe since 2008

Warsaw (AFP) – Britain on Monday announced major joint manoeuvres in Poland in October, part of a string of NATO exercises in the region aimed at reassuring eastern Europe members jittery over a resurgent Russia.

“I can announce today exercise Black Eagle, which will be a significant Polish and UK armoured exercise with over 350 British armoured and other vehicles and some 1,350 British personnel,” British Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said in Warsaw.

The deployment will be the “largest British contribution to exercises in eastern Europe since 2008,” he said at a joint press conference with British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond and Poland’s foreign and defence ministers.

Ex-communist NATO members have asked the alliance for permanent boots on the ground in the region amid the sharp escalation of fighting between Kiev government troops and pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine.

Presidents from nine ex-communist NATO members met in Warsaw last week to hammer out a regional defence strategy to re-enforce its eastern frontier in preparation for a key summit in September.

The NATO summit is expected to focus largely on the fallout from the Ukraine crisis and Russia’s annexation of that country’s Crimean peninsula.

Senior NATO officials have said decisions on the possible permanent deployment of alliance forces throughout its eastern flank can be expected in September.

“The Russia-Ukraine conflict is Europe’s most important security challenge since the end of the Cold War,” Poland’s President Bronislaw Komorowski has said.

“Strengthening NATO’s eastern flank is fundamental.”

NATO has already sent additional temporary rotations of air, sea and land forces to Poland and three small former Soviet-ruled Baltic states in response to the Ukraine crisis.

US President Barack Obama in June earmarked a billion dollars (741 million euros) in military funding for US allies on NATO’s eastern border.

UK doctors sound alarm over potential Ebola outbreak

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Doctors in the UK are preparing for a possible outbreak of Ebola, one of the most virulent diseases known to humankind according to the World Health Organization.

Public Health England delivered letters to doctors urging them to look out for the warning signs of Ebola, which has already killed 672 people in West African Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone since it was first diagnosed in February. More than 1,000 others have been infected by the virus, including two American doctors.

Concerns that international air travel could spread the virus were heightened when a Liberian man who had travelled to Lagos in Nigeria died from the disease. However, the disease can go unnoticed for three weeks before symptoms set in, making passenger screening a difficult task.

There is currently no cure or human-safe vaccine for Ebola, which is spread via bodily fluids. Initial symptoms of fever and sore throat develop into vomiting, diarrhea and profuse internal and external bleeding. Victims may die of multiple organ failure within days of first contact, with some strains killing up to 90 percent of sufferers.

The last diagnosed case of Ebola in the UK was in 1979, when someone was accidentally infected in a laboratory. On that occasion, the patient survived.

“It’s possible someone infected will fly to Heathrow having infected other people sitting next to them or by using the toilet,” said Cambridge University’s Peter Walsh, a lecturer in archaeology and anthropology and an Ebola expert.

“This strain of Ebola is probably the second most deadly virus in the world after canine rabies. If you get canine rabies, you’re going to die, but we also have vaccines for that. This is worse than anthrax, but there are vaccines and treatments for anthrax, too.”

But Walsh said that any cases that do reach Britain would be far more manageable than has been the case in West Africa.

“Ebola is pretty containable with modern methods in modern countries,” he said. “You won’t see a major outbreak in the UK.”

Echoing Walsh’s reassurance, Dr Brian McCloskey, director of global health at Public Health England said the chances of travellers contracting the virus were slim, but still urged vigilance of early signs of symptoms.

“Public Health England is monitoring closely the continuing Ebola outbreak in West Africa, the largest outbreak of this disease to date. It’s clear the outbreak is not under control,” said McCloskey.

“The risk to UK travellers and people working in these countries of contracting Ebola is very low but we have alerted UK medical practitioners about the situation in West Africa and requested they remain vigilant for unexplained illness in those who have visited the affected area,” he added.

“People who have returned from affected areas who have a sudden onset of symptoms such as fever, headache, sore throat and general malaise within three weeks of their return should immediately seek medical assistance – but it is important to stress that no cases of imported Ebola have ever been reported in the UK and the risk of a traveller going to West Africa and contracting Ebola remains very low since Ebola is transmitted by direct contact with the blood or bodily fluids of an infected person.”

NATO Poland base may be prepared for blitz against Russia

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NATO’s Europe commander advocates stockpiling a base in Poland with enough weapons, ammunition and other supplies to support a rapid deployment of thousands of troops against Russia, British media reported.

General Philip Breedlove’s idea would be presented to members of the alliance at the upcoming NATO summit in Wales in September, according to The Times.

The general told a briefing in Naples this week that NATO needed “pre-positioned supplies, pre-positioned capabilities and a basing area ready to rapidly accept follow-on forces.”

NATO’s top commander in Europe General Philip Breedlove (AFP Photo / John Thys)NATO’s top commander in Europe General Philip Breedlove (AFP Photo / John Thys)

Several locations for the future stockpile are planned, with the Multinational Corps Northeast, a base in Szczecin near the Polish-German border being the leading contender.

“It would be a 24/7 fully functioning headquarters that forces could quickly fall in on to respond rapidly when needed,” the British newspaper cites a source familiar with the expected proposition as saying.

Breedlove has been advocating a build-up of NATO assets in Europe, particularly Eastern Europe, in the wake of the Ukrainian crisis in the secession of Ukraine’s Crimea to Russia. The alliance has already strengthened its presence in the Baltic Sea and the Black Sea and deployed additional military aircraft in Eastern Europe. It said the moves were needed to boost the confidence of eastern NATO members in the alliance’s ability to protect them from Russian aggression.

Polish 6 Airborne Brigade soldiers check their weapons as they participate in training exercises with paratroopers from the U.S. Army’s 173rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team at the Land Forces Training Centre in Oleszno near Drawsko Pomorskie, north west Poland May 1, 2014 (Reuters / Kacper Pempel)Polish 6 Airborne Brigade soldiers check their weapons as they participate in training exercises with paratroopers from the U.S. Army’s 173rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team at the Land Forces Training Centre in Oleszno near Drawsko Pomorskie, north west Poland May 1, 2014 (Reuters / Kacper Pempel)

The stockpiling of supplies is just a step short of a permanent massive deployment of foreign NATO troops in Poland. The alliance says it is needed for a rapid response to a Russian incursion, although Russian generals would probably view this as a possible preparation for a blitzkrieg attack on Russia.

Moscow considers the build-up of NATO troops in Europe as part of a hostile policy aimed at placing the alliance’s military resources closer to its borders. Russia’s current military doctrine allows the use of all weapons in its possession, including tactical nuclear weapons, in response to a conventional force attack on Russia.

KEY PIECE OF VIDEO “EVIDENCE” FOR RUSSIAN RESPONSIBILITY FOR MALAYSIAN PLANE SHOOTDOWN DEBUNKED

Video of Rebel Buk Launchers Headed Back to Russia? No – Images From Ukraine-Held Territory Since May

by WASHINGTON’S BLOG | JULY 22, 2014

Mish is a highly-respected financial blogger. His Global Economic Analysis site routinely wins awards such as:

New York Times:NYT 10th Annual Year in Ideas – #1 Idea of the Year ‘Do-It-Yourself Macroeconomics’

Time Magazine:Best 25 Financial Blogs

Bloomberg:Financial Blogs: The Best of the Bunch

CNBC:Best Alternative Financial Websites

One of Mish’s trademarks is to speak with knowledgeable people in various subject areas, and report on what they said.

Today, Mish debunked one of the main pieces of video “evidence” claimed by the mainstream media to prove that Russia was behind the shootdown of the Malaysian plane over Ukraine:

Jacob Dreizin, a US citizen who speaks Russian and reads Ukrainian provided this update three hours ago.

Hello Mish,

On Friday, the Daily Mail, one of the major UK tabloids carried photos and video of what was alleged to be a rebel “Buk” launcher heading back to Russia. The article carried a claim from some Ukrainian source that the launcher was missing several missiles after having shot them at the Malaysian 777. The article was prominently linked to the Drudge Report, and so was probably viewed by several million people.

Today, this meme made it into Uncle Sam’s official narrative, as per the following New York Times excerpt:

On the CBS program “Face the Nation,” Mr. Kerry referred to a video that the Ukrainians have made public showing an SA-11 unit heading back to Russia after the downing of the plane with “a missing missile or so.”

The video referenced by the New York Times was, in fact, posted on the Facebook account of the Ukrainian Interior Minister. The allegation was that the launcher was crossing the border with Russia.

However, going by the billboard and other features of the scenery, Russian bloggers and news sources claim to have identified the road in the video as having been taken in or near the town of Krasnoarmeisk (“Krasnoarmiysk” in Ukrainian), which has been under Kiev’s control since May.

In fact, the billboard is supposedly advertising a Krasnoarmeisk car dealership. Also, one of the structures in the background is said to be a construction materials store on Gorkii Street, Krasnoarmeisk.

Please note that this town is (very roughly) 120 kilometers from the Russian border and 80 kilometers from where the Malaysian 777 went down. And again, it has been under Kiev’s control since May.

At least one other clip of the “Russian Buk” that has been made available also suggests that the Ukrainians are showing their own equipment. I’m still working on researching that one for you.

Jacob
Video in Question

It is beyond incredibly sloppy for Ukraine to release such a video with a clear billboard of something in Ukraine-held territory, purportedly showing a Buk missile launcher headed back to Russia.

And we are supposed to believe Kiev? Kerry?

Please be serious. If you are really interested in the truth, you do not resort to such easily disproved and sloppy bullsheet.
This is – of course – not the first piece of video “evidence” trumpeted by the MSM which has been debunked.

MORE WESTERN FIGHTERS JOINING MILITANTS IN IRAQ AND SYRIA

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Fresh concern about potential terrorist plots aimed at U.S. or its allies

By BRIAN BENNETT, RICHARD A. SERRANO

As many as 10,000 foreign fighters have joined Islamic militants in Syria and Iraq
Militants in Syria, Iraq may include 3,000 with Western passports, perhaps 100 American
U.S. officials alarmed by Westerners’ growing role in Islamic insurgency
Thousands of foreign fighters have bolstered the ranks of militant groups in Syria and Iraq in recent months, according to U.S. officials, driving fresh concern about potential terrorist plots aimed at the United States or its allies.

The surge, as well as intelligence that Yemeni terrorists have developed a powerful cellphone bomb designed to avoid detection at airports, is behind the Obama administration’s increasingly urgent warnings that a European or American passport holder might try to take down a passenger jet or plan other deadly mayhem.

As many as 10,000 foreign fighters — a third more than in February — have joined the militias seeking to overthrow Syrian President Bashar Assad and the Islamic State fighters who have swept across northern Iraq, said a counter-terrorism official who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss classified assessments.

Islamic State
A fighter with the Islamic State insurgent group hands out a copy of the Koran in Mosul, Iraq. The extremist group has proved to be highly organized. (Associated Press)
As many as 3,000 of them hold European or other Western passports and thus can travel easily across most borders. Several dozen, perhaps as many as 100, hold U.S. passports, and officials say that number is growing.

The potential partnership between some of those Westerners and sophisticated bomb makers from the Yemen-based Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, long viewed as the terrorist network’s most dangerous offshoot, has raised alarm in Washington and other capitals.

“It’s something that gives us really extreme, extreme concern,” Atty. Gen. Eric H. Holder Jr. told ABC News last week. “In some ways, it’s more frightening than anything I think I’ve seen as attorney general.”

FBI Director James B. Comey told reporters in Washington that the threat “keeps me up at night.” He sees the region as a “launching ground” for potential Sept. 11-style mass-casualty attacks in this country.

lRelated Eric Holder urges international cooperation on terrorism in Syria
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Two U.S. citizens have been arrested on terrorism-related charges since April before boarding flights to Turkey, suspected of being on their way to help the militants. One is said to have paid his way with his federal tax refund. In May, a Florida man became a suicide bomber in northern Syria.

“It’s the largest number of Western fighters we have ever seen in a jihadist theater,” said Seth G. Jones, a former U.S. counter-terrorism official now with the Rand Corp. think tank.

“The scale of this is huge,” said Daniel L. Byman, professor of security studies at Georgetown University in Washington.

Some of the Western militants are joining Al Nusra Front, an Al Qaeda affiliate that is focused on defeating the Assad government in Syria. Others have rallied to the Islamic State, which broke away from Al Qaeda and has seized territory in eastern Syria and northern Iraq.

Eric Holder
Atty. Gen. Eric H. Holder Jr. said he was alarmed by the connection between Westerners and Islamic militant movements. “In some ways, it’s more frightening than anything I think I’ve seen as attorney general,” he told ABC News. (Eric Risberg / Associated Press)
Although the rebels in Syria are struggling, the stunning battlefield success of the Islamic State fighters, and its calls for an Islamic caliphate, have energized recruiting efforts for all the militant groups. Several have used YouTube videos of battles and updates posted to Twitter in English to draw supporters to their ranks.

So far the Islamic State has focused only on capturing and consolidating territory in Syria and Iraq, but that could change. The Sunni Muslim group, recently known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, is so innovative and is growing so quickly that one U.S. national security official called it the “Silicon Valley” of militant organizations.

“The concern is not what is happening today, but in four or five years,” said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss classified assessments. “If they get their own state, take on new projects, turn from looking inward to outward … we want to get in front of it.”

cComments
Those in the Middle East are very seductive as is Islam and factor the matter is that they simply have more emotional intelligence and Westerners don't use logic to rely on emotion seduce young into a very radical system
HARVARD.DISPUTE
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The Transportation Security Administration said early this month that it had asked some overseas airports to stiffen security measures, especially checking cellphones and other electronic devices to make sure they’re not concealing explosives.

Intelligence agencies also have stepped up screening of passenger manifests of flights in and out of Turkey, the main entry point to Syria, officials said. In many cases, would-be fighters take a bus to the border and walk across.

A special counter-terrorism task force of FBI agents and federal prosecutors is investigating dozens of Americans who have traveled or who officials believe intend to travel to Syria to aid the militants, officials said.

“We’re spending a tremendous amount of time and effort trying to identify those who go [to Syria] so we can know who they are when they come back,” Comey told reporters.

It’s the largest number of Western fighters we have ever seen in a jihadist theater.
– Seth G. Jones, a former U.S. counter-terrorism official
The task force leader, veteran prosecutor Stephen Ponticello, joined Holder in Europe this month for meetings with allies that focused on the threat. Holder urged them to share intelligence on suspects, to conduct more undercover investigations and to enact stronger laws criminalizing support for terrorist groups.

The expanding conflict has become “a cradle of violent extremism,” Holder said in a speech in Norway. “But the world cannot simply sit back and let it become a training ground from which our nationals can return and launch attacks.”

With French and British citizens forming the largest bloc of Western passport holders in Syria, authorities in London and Paris already have begun to crack down.

Between January and March, at least 40 people in Britain were arrested on charges related to supporting militant groups in Syria, officials said. The British Home Office, empowered by a law Parliament passed in May, has stripped at least 20 people of their citizenship for suspected terrorism support or disloyalty, British officials said.

France is considering giving authorities additional power to block militant websites that seek to recruit foreign fighters, and to strengthen the ability of police to stop French citizens from traveling abroad to fight.

Americans have joined the conflict in Syria since it began in 2011, and at least one was killed. But their role as foreign fighters was little noticed until this May, when a 22-year-old Florida man blew himself up in a truck packed with explosives in northern Syria, killing more than a dozen government soldiers.

Born in West Palm Beach, Moner Mohammad Abusalha had an American mother and a Palestinian father. Known as “Mo,” he liked to play basketball, was a fan of the Miami Heat and thought of a career as a physical therapist’s assistant.

Abusalha went to Jordan in 2012, telling his family he would study nursing. He instead crossed into Syria and spent two months in an Al Nusra Front training camp, U.S. officials said.

Some Arabic speakers refer to one another by the name of their oldest child, but Abusalha had no children. He loved cats, though, so fighters called him “Abu Hurayra,” which means father of kittens.

After his death, Al Nusra Front posted a propaganda video online that shows Abusalha stroking a gray and white cat and smiling. The video then cuts to a truck, with Abusalha apparently driving, approaching a building. Both are demolished moments later in plumes of fire and smoke.

The Americans arrested in recent months followed a similarly unlikely path.

Michael Wolfe
Michael Wolfe, a Houston native, planned to use his federal tax refund to join Islamic militants in Syria, U.S. prosecutors say. He pleaded guilty to attempting to provide material support and resources to a foreign terrorist organization. (Austin Police Department)
Michael Wolfe, a native of Houston, told undercover FBI employees he would use a $5,000 federal income tax refund to take his wife and two children to Turkey and that he would then join the fighting in Syria, according to court documents. He would give any leftover cash to his mother-in-law, he said.

Wolfe, who has slicked-back black hair and a long goatee, was arrested in June by FBI agents at George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston as he prepared to board the first in a series of flights to Turkey.

Wolfe pleaded guilty in June to one count of attempting to provide material support and resources to a foreign terrorist organization. He faces a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

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Two months earlier, Shannon Maureen Conley, a 19-year-old nurse’s aide from Arvada, Colo., was arrested at Denver International Airport as she prepared to fly to Adana, Turkey, less than 100 miles from the Syrian border.

Once she got to Syria, according to the charging documents, Conley planned to marry a 32-year-old Tunisian militant whom she had met on the Internet. She planned to use her medical training to help his cause.

Her plans were disrupted after a Faith Bible Chapel pastor in Arvada told local police in November that a young woman was acting suspiciously. Colorado state police called the FBI after Conley told an officer she intended to go overseas to wage jihad, according to the criminal complaint.

Conley told the FBI that she would engage in combat “if absolutely necessary” and that she had briefly joined the U.S. Army Explorers, a nonprofit youth program, to learn basic military skills. FBI agents and Conley’s parents could not persuade her to change her mind, the documents state.

cComments
Those in the Middle East are very seductive as is Islam and factor the matter is that they simply have more emotional intelligence and Westerners don't use logic to rely on emotion seduce young into a very radical system
HARVARD.DISPUTE
AT 7:18 AM JULY 21, 2014
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She was arrested at the airport on April 8. FBI agents who searched her luggage found DVDs labeled “Anwar al-Awlaki,” the name of the American-born cleric and leader of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula who was killed by a U.S. drone strike in 2011. Recordings of Awlaki’s English-language speeches are seen as powerful recruiting tools for Al Qaeda.

She pleaded not guilty on April 22 to a single count of conspiracy to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization. If convicted, she faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

‘Test it on Brits:’ Snowden says GCHQ even worse than NSA

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British intelligence is permitted to go further in surveillance than similar agencies in other Western countries, according to former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, who spoke of GCHQ’s lack of oversight in a recent interview to the Guardian.

Snowden’s life in Russia: ‘Much happier than be unfairly tried in US’

Snowden believes the powers of the British intelligence are not restricted effectively enough by “law or policy”. Despite the UK government publicly claiming that regulations over the spy activity are strict, GCHQ’s private documents suggest the opposite is true.

“You’ve got their own admission in their own documents that ‘we’ve got a much lighter oversight regime than we should have,’ full stop,” Snowden said. “That’s what they’re talking about. They enjoy authorities that they really shouldn’t be entitled to.”

The lack of legal restrictions leads to UK intelligence being able to target more people than is necessary.

“Tempora [GCHQ’s internet surveillance program] is really proof … that GCHQ has much less-strict legal restrictions than other Western government intelligence.”

Taking that into account, Snowden is sure the UK citizens could be ones on whom intelligence techniques could be tested to then be used by all of the other so-called Five Eyes partners – Canada, the United States, Australia and New Zealand.

AFP Photo / Frederick Florin AFP Photo / Frederick Florin

“And what that means is UK citizens and UK intelligence platforms are used as a testing ground for all of the other Five Eyes partners,” he said.

In May, a group of British MPs called for more accountability on the part of the country’s intelligence. They said the confidential files, leaked by Edward Snowden revealed the “embarrassing” state of legal oversight into the British surveillance system.

US knew about Snowden file destruction at UK newspaper

Snowden recalled a raid on the Guardian’s offices a year ago to obtain and destroyed hard drives with leaked files as another example of the country’s intelligence going too far in its activity.

“It seemed like a clear intent to intimidate the press into pulling back and not reporting,” Snowden said. “And I think that was why it was inappropriate, but tremendously beneficial for the public conversation because they gave everyone who was concerned about the abuses of power a clear and specific example.”

The raid was not only intimidating, but also “stupid”, Snowden added, ridiculing the idea of someone trying to “grind data out of existence when we have a global interconnected internet.”

Teachers implicated in plot to Islamize UK schools allowed to ‘keep jobs’

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A deal struck with the Department of Education will allow teachers, who tried to Islamize their schools, to keep their jobs, reports UK press. The so-called ‘Trojan Horse’ scandal forced governors to resign for pushing an “aggressive Muslim agenda.”

In spite of inquiries that have condemned a plot to spread a hardline Islamic ethos in Birmingham schools, the senior teachers involved will keep their jobs, reported the Daily Telegraph.

Citing a letter sent to the parents of children studying at three schools where a strong Islamic agenda was pushed, the publication said senior teacher would stay on because they are “recognized as having strong track records in raising achievement and will have a big contribution to the future leadership of the academies.”

In the wake of the ‘Trojan Horse’ scandal the governors of the schools involved were forced to resign, including Tahir Alam who was described as the plot’s ringleader. However, the teachers who will retain their positions in the problem schools were also found to have been active in enforcing strong Islamic policies.

The Telegraph writes that the headmaster of Park View school, Mozz Hussain, had spread “mind-blowing” anti-American ideas in school assembles. In addition, the deputy head of Nansen school Razwan Faraz ran a group called “Educational Activists that was found to be pushing an “Islamizing agenda.”

A report on 25 schools in Birmingham due to be published later this week was leaked to the UK press on Friday. Written by the former head of the Metropolitan Police’s counter-terrorism unit, Peter Clark, the document identifies a “coordinated, deliberate and sustained action to introduce an intolerant and aggressive Islamist ethos into some schools in the city.”

“It goes beyond the social conservatism practiced in some faith schools which may be consistent with universal human rights and respectful of other communities. It appears to be a deliberate attempt to convert secular state schools into exclusive faith schools in all but name,” wrote the draft report.

Reports of the Trojan Horse scandal in a Birmingham school first emerged in March when an unverified, anonymous letter thought to have been written by hardline Islamists found its way into government hands. The letter contains information on a plot to Islamize British schools from within.

Since then UK media has reported on various hardline policies being enforced in Birmingham schools, including segregation of boys and girls, forced praying and intimidation and bullying of teachers that did not share the same hardline ethos.

Last month five schools in the area were placed on special measures in the wake of an Ofsted (education inspectorate) inspection that described a culture of fear and intimidation taking hold in some schools.

Obama’s ratings tumble in Germany, Russia in wake of NSA spying, Ukraine crisis

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Revelations of the National Security Agency’s global spy program, together with civil strife in Ukraine has severely damaged Barack Obama’s popularity among Brazilians, Germans and Russians, a major US polling agency reported.

Thanks to a series of global scandals, the United States in general, and its commander-in-chief in particular, have suffered a drop in favorability among the majority of countries polled by Pew Research.

“In 22 of 36 countries surveyed in both 2013 and 2014, people are significantly less likely to believe the US government respects the personal freedoms of its citizens,” the report said.

Spring 2014 Global Attitudes Survey, Pew ResearchSpring 2014 Global Attitudes Survey, Pew Research

Among privacy-loving Germans – many of whom have even refused to allow the Google Maps car to film their homes – Obama’s reputation nosedived when it was revealed that the NSA was collecting communication metadata not only on average Germans, but also on Chancellor Angela Merkel, whose personal mobile phone had been hacked by US intelligence.

Germans’ confidence in Obama sunk to 71 percent, 17 points down from 2013.

Tensions between NATO’s two biggest members escalated this month German authorities arrested a Defense Ministry official suspected of passing secrets to the US. This shocking incident came just one week after the arrest of a German intelligence officer who worked as a double agent for the Americans.

German authorities took the unprecedented step of ordering the expulsion of the Berlin CIA station chief.

“Revelations that Washington systematically reads both Americans’ and some foreigners’ emails and listens in on their telephone conversations appears to have significantly damaged Obama’s approval in only one European Union country: Germany,” Pew reported.

Brazilians’ confidence in the first black American leader dropped from 69 percent in 2013 to 52 percent presently.

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, who was also the victim of NSA snooping on her personal communications, expressed her anger at those revelations by canceling an official visit to Washington in October.

Finally, Russia, which is watching neighboring Ukraine teeter on the edge of full-blown civil war, sees an American hand provoking the situation behind the scenes, especially after former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich decided against signing as association agreement with the European Union in favor of stronger ties with Moscow.

The decision by sparked a violent showdown in the capital Kiev, which has led to nationwide civil strife that continues today.

“Russian faith in Obama, already quite low in 2013, is down 14 points (to 15 percent), a likely casualty of the Ukraine confrontation,” Pew said.

Meanwhile, America’s once invincible reputation for protecting individual liberties has suffered a major reality check following damning revelations about the extent of NSA surveillance from whistleblower Edward Snowden, presently living in Russia, where he has been granted asylum.

Belief that the US government respects personal freedoms plummeted 25 points in Brazil to 50 percent over the last year; 23 points in Germany to 58 percent; 20 points to 40 percent in Russia; and 11 points to 69 percent in France. Meanwhile, even the United Kingdom, a trusted ally, appears to have experienced a chilling effect by America’s recent naughtiness, dropping 10 points to 65 percent.

Germany expels Berlin CIA chief

US drone strikes have also struck a negative chord among allies and enemies alike, including in NATO member states like Britain, France and Spain. In 37 of 44 surveyed countries, half or more of the public expressed disapproval of drone attacks.

SNOWDEN STRIKES AGAIN: UK intelligence used FACEBOOK, YOUTUBE to manipulate online behavior…

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Summary: A fresh set of documents leaked by Edward Snowden show how the UK intelligence agency can manipulate online polls and debates, spread messages, snoop on YouTube and track Facebook users.

By Charlie Osborne for Zero Day | July 15, 2014 — 08:10 GMT (01:10 PDT)

GCHQ has developed a toolkit of software programs used to manipulate online traffic, infiltrate users’ computers and spread select messages across social media sites including Facebook and YouTube.

Read more
The UK spy agency’s dark arts were revealed in documents first published by The Intercept, and each piece of software is described in a wiki document written up by GCHQ’s Joint Threat Research Intelligence Group (JTRIG). The document, which reads like a software inventory, calls the tools part of the agency’s “weaponised capability.”

Some of the most interesting capabilities of the tools on the list include the ability to seed the web with false information — such as tweaking the results of online polls — inflating pageview counts, censoring video content deemed “extremist” and the use of psychological manipulation on targets — something similar to a research project conducted with Facebook’s approval, which resulted in heavy criticism and outrage levied at the social media site.

A number of interesting tools and their short descriptions are below:

ASTRAL PROJECTION: Remote GSM secure covert Internet proxy using TOR hidden service
POISON ARROW: Safe malware download capability
AIRWOLF: YouTube profile, comment and video collection
BIRDSTRIKE: Twitter monitoring and profile collection
GLASSBACK: Technique of getting a target’s IP address by pretending to be a spammer and ringing them. Target does not need to answer.
MINIATURE HERO: Active skype capability. Provision of realtime call records (SkypeOut and SkypetoSkype) and bidirectional instant messaging. Also contact lists.
PHOTON TORPEDO: A technique to actively grab the IP address of MSN messenger user
SPRING-BISHOP: Finding private photos of targets on Facebook
BOMB BAY: The capacity to increase website hits, rankings
BURLESQUE: The capacity to send spoofed SMS messages
GESTATOR: Amplification of a given message, normally video, on popular multimedia websites (YouTube)
SCRAPHEAP CHALLENGE: Perfect spoofing of emails from Blackberry targets
SUNBLOCK: Ability to deny functionality to send/receive email or view material online
SWAMP DONKEY: A tool that will silently locate all predefined types of file and encrypt them on a targets machine
UNDERPASS: Change outcome of online polls (previously known as NUBILO).
WARPATH: Mass delivery of SMS messages to support an Information Operations campaign.
HUSK: Secure one-on-one web based dead-drop messaging platform.
The list, dated from 2012, says that most of the tools are “fully operational, tested and reliable,” and adds: “Don’t treat this like a catalogue. If you don’t see it here, it doesn’t mean we can’t build it.”

“We only advertise tools here that are either ready to fire or very close to being ready,” the document notes.

The release of these documents comes in the same week that the UK intelligence agency’s spying activities are being investigated by surveillance watchdog the Investigatory Powers Tribunal (IPT). Civil liberty groups set a legal challenge against the GCHQ in order to question the legal standing of schemes such as Tempora — a project revealed in the NSA scandal that showed the agency placed data interceptors on fiber-optic cables that carry Internet traffic to and from the UK.