Whistleblower Snowden: NSA Surveillance Will Lead To “Turnkey Tyranny”

This incredibly brave young man’s story needs to be shared far and wide. 29 year old Edward Snowden, through The Guardian newspaper, went public as the NSA whistleblower yesterday. His revelations last week that the US National Security Agency’s Prism program has direct access to the systems of Google, Facebook, Apple and other internet giants is one of the biggest intelligence leaks in U.S. history. We are all under surveillance all the time, Snowden has revealed. We now know that if any one in power decides to hone in on you, they can go back in time and review all of your internet communications and use any – or all – of it against you. Here’s Snowden himself in conversation with The Guardian in Hong Kong this weekend talking frankly about his decision to put himself at risk for the public good:




Here’s The Guardian’s Glenn Greenwald discussing the NSA revelations on Democracy Now:



More links:

Edward Snowden: The Whistleblower Behind The NSA Surveillance Revelations

NSA Prism Program Taps Into User Data of Apple, Google, and Others

Republicans Call For NSA Whistleblower To Be Extradited

Glenn Greenwald Suggests More Revelations Are Coming

And here in Canada: Data-collection Program Got Green Light From McKay in 2011:

Defence Minister Peter MacKay approved a secret electronic eavesdropping program that scours global telephone records and Internet data trails – including those of Canadians – for patterns of suspicious activity.

Mr. MacKay signed a ministerial directive formally renewing the government’s “metadata” surveillance program on Nov. 21, 2011, according to records obtained by The Globe and Mail. The program had been placed on a lengthy hiatus, according to the documents, after a federal watchdog agency raised concerns that it could lead to warrantless surveillance of Canadians.


*thanks to fellow climate hawk Doug G for the heads up on this story.*

Pipeline Protestors to Obama: This Is Our Environmental Impact Statement

Photo by Milan Ilnyckyj

From TPM.com, Why Far-Off Canadian Tar Sands Have Become Make-or-Break Issue For Obama With Enviros:

For six days and counting now, hundreds of protesters have gathered outside the White House to demand President Obama intervene and stop the construction of an oil pipeline that will span the breadth of the United States — from Montana to the Gulf of Mexico. Over 300 of them have been arrested — and not just wild-eyed idealistic college students, but high-profile advocates including environmental leader Bill McKibben. Despite all this, the administration says this is a question for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

What the heck is this all about?

At issue isn’t just NIMBYism or standard concerns about oil spills, but the question of whether the United States should accelerate an extraction process that some environmental experts say will lose the fight against global warming forever. Click here to read full article.

Photo by Josh Easton

Meanwhile, here in Canada, there is an Ottawa day of action against the tar sands being organized for September 26th. The Indigenous Environmental Network, The Council of Canadians, and Greenpeace Canada, are calling for a day of sit-ins on Parliament Hill to show Canadians support a transition to a clean energy future:

There comes a time when you need to take a stand. When sending letters and signing petitions isn’t enough. When together we must say, “enough is enough — not on our watch”.

That time is now. We must act together for the health of our planet, our air, our water, our climate, and our children.

On September 26th we need you to come to Ottawa to join a historic action to oppose the tar sands. In a large peaceful protest, many will be risking arrest to tell the Harper government that we don’t support his reckless agenda; that we want to turn away from the toxic tar sands industry; and that we oppose the direction he’s taking this country.

For more information, go to Ottawa Action.ca.

More links:

Energy Protests Are In Martin Luther King’s Footsteps: Obama Should Heed Tar Sand Civil Disobedience

President Obama: “We Can’t Afford Not To Change How We Produce And Use Energy”

In his first address to Americans from the Oval Office, last night Barack Obama discussed the BP catastrophe in the Gulf, promising that BP would pay for their “recklessness”, and then he went on to say that the time to embrace clean energy is now:

So one of the lessons we’ve learned from this spill is that we need better regulations, better safety standards, and better enforcement when it comes to offshore drilling. But a larger lesson is that, no matter how much we improve our regulation of the industry, drilling for oil these days entails greater risk.

After all, oil is a finite resource. We consume more than 20 percent of the world’s oil, but have less than 2 percent of the world’s oil reserves. And that’s part of the reason oil companies are drilling a mile beneath the surface of the ocean: because we’re running out of places to drill on land and in shallow water.

For decades, we have known the days of cheap and easily accessible oil were numbered. For decades, we’ve talked and talked about the need to end America’s century-long addiction to fossil fuels. And for decades, we have failed to act with the sense of urgency that this challenge requires.

Time and again, the path forward has been blocked, not only by oil industry lobbyists, but also by a lack of political courage and candor.

The consequences of our inaction are now in plain sight. Countries like China are investing in clean-energy jobs and industries that should be right here in America. Each day, we send nearly $1 billion of our wealth to foreign countries for their oil. And today, as we look to the Gulf, we see an entire way of life being threatened by a menacing cloud of black crude.

We cannot consign our children to this future. The tragedy unfolding on our coast is the most painful and powerful reminder yet that the time to embrace a clean-energy future is now. Now is the moment for this generation to embark on a national mission to unleash America’s innovation and seize control of our own destiny.

This is not some distant vision for America. The transition away from fossil fuels is going to take some time. But over the last year- and-a-half, we’ve already taken unprecedented action to jump-start the clean-energy industry.

It’s a hopeful sign, and could signal stronger leadership from the White House on clean energy. Obama, after all, is a father to two young daughters who are going to have to live with the consequences of his leadership, or lack of it, on this issue. What is certain, though, is that Obama can’t do it without the support of the majority of Americans – and Republicans are already massing on the side of Big Oil – so hopefully there will be a groundswell of support for the President that can’t be ignored. I, for one, will be watching with great interest from north of the border, as this unfolds over the next months.  Could the Gulf disaster be the tipping point that finally gets North Americans to kick our fossil fuel habit? And does this mean that Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper is going to start talking about weaning Canadians off our addiction, including shutting down the tar sands? After all, for months, he and his Environment Minister Jim Prentice have been repeating that they can’t formulate their own policy, they have to wait and take the lead from the Americans.  It looks like President Obama is leading, Mr. Harper. The question is, are you going to follow?

More Links:

For the full text of President Obama’s speech, click here. For video, click here.

For analysis, go to “A Clean Energy Future is Now: But Mr. President, How Do We Get There?” on The Huffington Post.

Disappointingly, from my perspective as a Canadian, the coverage of the speech on the CBC website focuses almost exclusively on his remarks on BP and the Gulf, which was the first half of the speech, without mentioning the last half of his speech, which was all about transitioning to clean energy (click here to check for yourself).

The Globe and Mail does cover the speech in more depth, although you wouldn’t know it from the headline. Click here to read “Obama Lashes Out At BP in Oval Office Address”.  And the headline in the Toronto Star read “Barack Obama Calls Gulf Clean-up a ‘National Mission’ ” (click here to read article).

And, via the FB group 1,000,000 Strong Against Offshore Drilling, a request to add your votes to their clean energy questions for the White House’s Press Secretary tonight. “Its a long-shot, but please add your quick votes if you haven’t yet (it’s as easy as clicking the green thumbs). We’re close to the top of the list. Click here to do just that.

Canada’s Ava Tar Sands – The Scenes Too Shocking For the Theatre

From Earthworks, a new video, Canada’s AvaTar Sands – The Scenes Too Dirty For the Theatre.  Here’s what they have to say about dirty Alberta tar sands oil:

The world’s dirtiest and most expensive oil comes from Alberta, Canada: tar sands oil.

And it’s fueling the U.S. oil addiction at a time when money should instead be invested in clean energy and clean energy jobs.

President Obama campaigned on a new energy economy: one that would create new jobs, one that would give us a cleaner, healthier environment.

But if he doesn’t reject the permit for the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, he will increase America’s addiction to this dirtiest of oils. Watch this video, and then follow the Na’vi’s advice: warn President Obama about dirty tar sands oil at http://action.avatarsands.org


TAKE ACTION: Click here send a letter to President Obama.  Tell him there’s no place in the clean energy economy for the Keystone XL pipeline (click here for more information on what exactly this is), or dirty tar sands oil.  Or better yet, phone or fax him at:

Phone:(202) 456-1111
Fax:(202) 456-2461

President Obama Explains the Science Behind Climate Change

Yesterday at a Nevada town hall meeting, President Obama took on Senator Inhofe and friends and their climate-change-denying ways. Obama  obviously “gets it” but it remains to be seen if this can be translated into legislation, with the some Democratics  afraid of taking a stand. Indeed, some of them seem afraid of their own shadows.


For more on this, click here.

Breaking news – Obama to Travel to Copenhagen

12 days until the UN Climate Talks in Copenhagen, and momentum seems to be growing.

The breaking news on the Huffington Post this morning is that the White House will be announcing that President Obama is going to attend.  At least 65 other heads of state will also be at the Copenhagen table, although two big players, China and India, have not yet responded to the formal invitation sent out last week by the Danish government. Back in September, the first leader to commit to attending was Britain’s Prime Minister Gordon Brown.  He asserted that it was heads of governments who would be able to negotiate and strike a deal.  With more and more heads of state following his lead, the chance that a fair, ambitious, and binding deal may be reached increases, although it is by no means guaranteed. To read more analysis of the gaining momentum, check out “Copenhagen talks ready for take off: 5, 4, 3…” on Grist.org.

The activist organization Avaaz.org is raising funds to send more negotiators from small, low-lying island states that are most affected by climate change.  The bigger, wealthier, more polluting nations can afford to send large numbers of  negotiators to Copenhagen.  However, for people living in small, low-lying island states, a fair, ambitious and binding global climate treaty is necessary for their countries’ very survival, but they often have trouble sending even one or two negotiators to UN climate summits. As a result, Avaaz.org is spearheading a campaign to help negotiators from smaller, climate-vulnerable nations attend.  Their website states:

At the Copenhagen talks in December, we can’t afford for voices of moral authority to go unheard.

If each of us chips in, we can help with airfare, food, and housing to help negotiators press for bold action — and for advocates to amplify their voices:

Click here to donate to “Their Voices Must be Heard” campaign now!