Saturday, June 15, 2013

(OT) Descendants of a Japanese Diplomatic Delegation from 400 Years Ago Greet Japan's Crown Prince on His Visit to Spain

There are about 700 people in the town of Coria del Río in Seville, Spain whose surname is "Japón" (originally "Hasekura de Japón", according to Wiki). They are considered to be the descendants of a Japanese diplomatic mission headed by Tsunenaga Hasekura from 1613 through 1620. Hasekura was sent on a global mission by his lord Masamune Date of Sendai-han (that includes today's Miyagi Prefecture).

It is known that 7 or so of his delegates decided to remain in Coria del Río, and their descendants started to use the surname of "Japón".

Japan's Crown Prince is on an official visit to Spain, and met with the "Japóns" in Coria del Río, proud descendants of the Hasekura delegation, as Asahi Shinbun reports (6/15/2013):


It's been 400 years since Spain and Japan first made contact. There are people with the surname "Japón", meaning Japan, in Spain. There are 1,500 of them. They are considered to be the descendants of "Keicho Delegation" led by Tsunenaga Hasekura, who went to Spain 400 years ago. In the evening of June 14, "Japón" people got together in the city of Seville in southern Spain and met with Crown Prince of Japan.


The delegation stayed in Coria del Río, near Seville, in 1614. It is known that seven or so of the delegation didn't go back to Japan. Local historians believe the descendants of these people started to use the name of their home country Japan as their surname.


"Japón" people are keenly aware of their connection to Japan. Nearly 10,000 residents including "Japón" people greeted Crown Prince in Coria del Río on June 14 afternoon, chanting "Japón!" Juan Francisco Japón (age 44), chairman of "Hasekura Tsunenaga Association", said, "We are all proud of our surname Japón. Some of us have the Mongolian spots like Japanese."


According to Juan, after the March 11, 2011 disaster in Japan, "Japón" people did all they could to help Japan. They called for silent prayers in front of the statue of Hasekura, they did fund raising and charity auctions. The town of Coria del Río called to people in Japan on their website, offering citizenship to anyone who wants to escape Japan and come to the town.


Victor Valencia Japón (age 48) visited Ishinomaki City in Miyagi Prefecture in 1991. He said, "I looked at the images of Ishinomaki after the disaster, and it was very shocking to me, thinking our distant relatives may have been affected."


In the evening of June 14, 30 "Japón" people gathered at a hotel in Sevilla. They said to Crown Prince, "I'm proud to be the descendant with Samurai spirit", "I want to help in deepening the relationship between Japan and Spain." Crown Prince smiled, and said "I am very happy to meet so many of you with the name Japan."


Fernando Japón Sevillia (age 49) said, "For us, with the surname Japón with 400 years of history, this is a very honorable (proud) day."

I didn't know anything about these people in Spain with the "Japón" surname until I read the Asahi article. How wonderful to know there are people in the world proud to be of Japanese lineage (alleged or not proven, it doesn't matter) who continue to care about their very distant "home" country from 400 years ago.

Hundreds in Hong Kong Protest NSA Surveillance, Support Snowden

Both pro-China legislators and anti-Hong Kong government protesters are upset with the US government snooping.

One sign carried by a Hong Kong resident reads, "Protect Snowden. Protect Freedom."

From USA Today (6/15/2013):

Hundreds in Hong Kong protest NSA surveillance

Zach Coleman

HONG KONG — In a show of protest against U.S. surveillance programs and in support of whistle-blower Edward Snowden, several hundred people marched Saturday to the U.S. Consulate General and the offices of the Hong Kong government despite drizzly weather.

"I think it's not acceptable for the (National Security Agency) to spy" on everyone, said Patrick Cheung, who has been upset by claims former NSA contractor Snowden made about the agency's data gathering from U.S.-based Internet firms. "It's our right to have our privacy protected."

"Shame on NSA! Defend freedom of speech!" chanted marchers, who carried signs written in Chinese and English and wrapped in plastic to keep out the rain. "Protect Snowden!"

The march, backed by five opposition parties and 22 other organizations, included the presentation of protest letters addressed to U.S. Consul General Steve Young and the head of Hong Kong's government.

"We request you to stop running these surveillance programs against innocent Internet users in Hong Kong and around the world," read the letter to Young.

Before the rally, several representatives of a pro-China political party marched to the consulate to call for an end to the alleged U.S. hacking of Hong Kong computer systems, an allegation Snowden made to a local newspaper earlier in the week after he fled to the city.

Meanwhile, half of respondents in a survey of 509 residents conducted by university researchers on behalf of the South China Morning Post said they opposed the Hong Kong government turning Snowden over to U.S. authorities, while a third of respondents said they considered the NSA whistle-blower a hero.

"We are glad Snowden is brave enough to expose all the U.S. government's evil deeds," said James Hon, who marched Saturday as a leader of the League in Defence of Hong Kong's Freedom, a group that commonly participates in anti-Hong Kong government protests. "We should let Snowden live in Hong Kong and express his views freely."

Several Hong Kong legislators addressed the rally, and others are planning to raise Snowden's allegations of U.S. hacking into Hong Kong computers with government ministers at a session Wednesday. Two legislators sent their own letter addressed to President Obama saying the NSA surveillance programs had "set a dangerous precedent and will likely be used to justify similar actions by authoritarian governments".

Back at the rally, marcher Venus Hui expressed a simple hope for the man at the center of the controversy.

"I hope Snowden can go back to the U.S. one day," he said.

Friday, June 14, 2013

#Fukushima Medical University Distributed Potassium Iodide to Medical Staff on March 15, 2011, Says It Was Their "Vested Interest" As Medical Professionals

as radioactive materials were falling on people waiting outside to get drinking water and food.

A short blog post by Minamisoma City Assemblyman Koichi Ooyama contains a link to a religious newspaper article that recounts the early days of the nuclear accident in March 2011 and how people are trying to recover from the disaster by decontaminating their place.

In the June 6, 2013 article, the author Koyu Abe, a Zen Buddhist monk in Fukushima City, says the following:


There exists a valuable piece of data about radioactive iodine in the early days of the accident. It is the record of measuring leafy vegetables taken near Fukushima Medical University [located just south of Fukushima City center] on March 15 (three days after the explosion [of Reactor 1]). The handwritten data by the prefectural government shows 1.19 million becquerels/kg of radioactive iodine.


Looking at this number, it is understandable that Fukushima Medical University distributed potassium iodide pills to doctors and nurses. However, this data was never disclosed to us.


In January this year, I served as a panelist in a human rights forum sponsored by the Ministry of Justice called "March 11, 2011 disaster and human rights", and I talked about this fact. However, the sponsor called me later and said they would like to delete my comments from the report.


Officials at Fukushima Medical University had raised issues with the sponsor by saying "It [distributing potassium iodide pills] was our vested interest as medical professionals, and there should be no problem with that."

I protested and said, "For argument's sake let's assume it is true. But there were people at that time working hard day and night for weeks on end, literally without sleep and food, in order to restore life lines after the earthquake while a large amount of radioactive materials were falling on them. Why didn't they get the pills? Why didn't they have vested interest?" One hour later, they called me back and said my comments wouldn't be deleted, and would be recorded as they were. It was clear that [the University's argument] was discrimination based on occupation.

Mr. Abe is the one who decided to use his temple to store contaminated soil removed from people's homes, three months after the start of the accident.

On March 15, 2011, I remember reading about people in Fukushima, particularly in Fukushima City, standing outside in long lines in the snow for a long time to get some drinking water, with mothers and fathers taking their kids with them.

Reactor 3 building blew up at 11AM on the previous day, March 14. They were trying to vent Reactor 2 all night and early morning of March 15. Reactor 4 building managed to blow up (no one knows how) in the early morning of March 15, and at about the same time some event did happen in Reactor 2's Suppression Chamber.

On March 15, 2011, I was writing about:

#Fukushima I Nuke Plant: Maybe a Level 7 Disaster

#Fukushima I Nuke Plant: Reactor No.4 Radiation Abnormally High, Government Asking US Military to Spray Water From Air

On March 16, 2011, I was screaming about the first evacuee death due to lack of water, heat, and food, while the official depots were swimming with foods, water and blankets and clothes from people from all over the world.

Hardly anyone was reading my blog then, but I had to write to keep some sanity. It still feels like only yesterday.

San Onofre Closure a Financial Decision, Nuclear Power Far From Over, Says

I don't see anything wrong with shutting down nuclear power plants like San Onofre in southern California because of cost consideration, not because of safety consideration. A shutdown is a shutdown.

From newsletter (6/14/2013), part:

But the big “upset” story this week—for those not lured away by the sexier news of the NSA’s digital surveillance reach—is the permanent closure of the San Onofre nuclear plant and the ensuing regulatory battle Edison International (EIX) will have to fight over who is going to foot the bill here. It will cost around $3.4 billion to retire the nuclear plant. The plant is owned by Southern California Edison, which has invested $2.1 billion in San Onofre’s two nuclear reactors, and now finds that it could end up paying $1.3 billion in refunds for customers who paid since the plant stopped producing power in January last year when the reactors were shut down after a radioactive leak was discovered.

The San Onofre story is the continuation of a story that began in earnest when the shale gas boom turned nuclear endeavors into economic nightmares. This year has seen the closure of four other commercial nuclear power units so far. Since then the idea of possibly restarting the reactors proved to come along with costs that wouldn’t be recouped and significant regulatory hurdles. Existing nuclear reactors are becoming increasingly too expensive to maintain, and questions of safety rise in tandem with costs that question commercial viability. But it’s not the beginning of the end for nuclear; it’s just the beginning of the beginning, and a future (still quite a long way off) where small modular reactors (SMRs) will take center stage.

The "San Onofre" link in the article goes to June 7, 2013 Bloomberg article, in which the CEO of Southern California Edison says it's cheaper to buy power on the open market:

“It no longer makes sense to restart San Onofre,” Craver said today. Buying power on the open market became the cheaper alternative because a year of delay cut too deeply into its operating life, he told reporters. The reactor license expires in 9 years. Edison was spending $30 million a month preparing for the restart, he said.

The Obama administration is funding Babcock Wilcox to design and commercialize small modular reactors.

CNBC: Is an Overconfident BOJ to Blame for Market Woes? Is BOJ a Market Virus?

(My personal answers are yes and yes.)

Political and financial elites full of themselves rule Japan, so what else can you expect?

From CNBC (6/13/2013; emphasis is mine):

Is an Overconfident BOJ to Blame for Market Woes?

By: Ansuya Harjani, Assistant Producer, CNBC Asia

Since stunning the markets with unprecedented monetary easing in April, the Bank of Japan has taken a back seat, failing to offer solace to investors that have been rattled by violent swings in the country's bond and equity markets.

According to Kathy Lien, managing director, BK Asset Management, the central bank's "overconfidence" is to blame for the instability plaguing the market.

"They did nothing because they were stubborn and overconfident that their policies were enough to stabilize markets and the markets said no," Lien told CNBC Asia's "Squawk Box" on Friday.

"This is Japan's own doing, they had the opportunity to provide markets with a small dose of stimulus in the form of increasing asset purchases or even the maturity on fund supply operations and they did nothing," she added.

Lien was referring to the BOJ's meeting this week when the central bank failed to announce additional measures like increasing the maturity on its fixed-rate loan facility to two years from one year.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's recent announcement of his longer term growth strategy which fell short of expectations, coupled with the disappointment with the BOJ has forced investors to reassess their outlook for the market.

... "They [BOJ] feel their weekly operations are sufficient to calm the [bond] market volatility - The market is saying the BOJ needs to be a little more active than that," she said.

At this point, Japan watchers say it is vital that BOJ Governor Haruhiko Kuroda betters his communication with the market in order to restore investor confidence.

It's a failure to communicate. For example, the governor of BOJ saying 'I think we've done enough' is the wrong thing to say. The correct thing to say is that 'There is no limit to what we are prepared to do'. The psychology is really important with this," said Nicholas Smith, Japan strategist at CLSA.

In April, Kuroda said the Bank of Japan's plans to double the monetary base would be enough to achieve its 2 percent inflation goal, noting that the central bank has taken all the "necessary" and "possible" measures.

A contrast from European Central Bank Chief Mario Draghi who pledged to do"whatever it takes" to save the euro zone last year.

With investors on edge in the face of uncertainty over when the Federal Reserve will begin scaling back its bond buying program, it has become increasingly important for major central banks to clearly communicate their intentions, said strategists.

David Kotok, chief investment officer, Cumberland Advisors, agrees, noting that recent havoc in global markets is largely a result of poor communication by both Kuroda and Bernanke.

"You had a failure to communicate in two central banks at the same time - two of the G-4 botched it up. Bernanke did - he sent a mixed message and stirred a pot. The BOJ has done the same," he said.

(Full article at the link)

Thursday, June 13, 2013

"Eat and Support the Recovery of #Fukushima" Food Fair at TEPCO Headquarters Was a Great Success

According to Denki Shinbun (6/13/2013), an electric power industry newspaper:


Eat and support the recovery of Fukushima - Food fair held at TEPCO Headquarters


"Fukushima Recovery Bazaar" to sell foodstuff from Fukushima Prefecture was held on June 11 at TEPCO Headquarters in Tokyo. Made-in-Fukushima tomatoes, cherries, sake, Kitakata ramen noodles were displayed, and people formed long lines to buy them. At the company cafeteria, "soup with pork" was the very popular day's special. A TEPCO employee in charge of selling the foodstuff said, "We hope eating foodstuff made in Fukushima Prefecture will help the recovery of Fukushima. We will continue to support the recovery through various activities."

(Wag the Dog) US Decides Syrian Government Used Chemical Weapons Against Rebels (and Not the Other Way Around)

(UPDATE 2) Washington Post reports (6/14/2013) CIA is preparing to deliver arms to rebels in Syria via clandestine bases in Turkey and Jordan. The government officials, including Obama's speechwriter-turned-advisor Ben Rhodes, are quoted in the article expressing confidence that they know who are the "good" rebels and who are the "bad" rebels. Trust us, they are saying...


(UPDATE) By the way, a war game is underway in Jordan, called "Eager Lion 2013". How coincidental. 18 nations join the US. 5,000 Americans from all services, including Marines, participate.


Benghazi scandal

Phone records scandal

DOJ Spying on journalists scandal

IRS scandal

State Department sex and drug ring scandal

NSA leak and snooping scandal

Blitzkrieg on the Obama administration and President Obama has finally succeeded. So, now,

"U.S. Concludes Assad Used Chemical Weapons Against Rebels"

Time for direct military support including training rebels in Jordan, and no-fly zone out of Jordan. (I see. That's why NSA was very busy collecting intelligence out of Jordan in March this year.)

Didn't UN say it was the so-called "rebels" who may have used sarin gas? Don't bother with details, I guess.

From Bloomberg (6/13/2013):

The U.S. has confirmed that Bashar al-Assad’s regime in Syria used chemical weapons against rebels and will escalate deliveries of military aid to opposition forces, an administration official said.

Assad’s forces used the nerve gas sarin on a “small scale” several times against the opposition, causing 100 to 150 deaths, Ben Rhodes, Obama’s deputy national security adviser, told reporters on a conference call.

The U.S. is stepping up assistance to the Syrian opposition, including aid that would have “direct military purposes on the ground,” Rhodes said, without elaborating. He refused to say whether that would include weapons.

“We’re just not going to be able to lay out an inventory of what exactly falls under the scope of that assistance,” Rhodes said. He said the administration has “not made any decision to pursue” establishing a no-fly zone over Syria.

“We’ve prepared for many contingencies,” he said.

(Full article at the link)

And Wall Street Journal (6/13/2013) on Jordan:

WASHINGTON—A U.S. military proposal for arming Syrian rebels also calls for a limited no-fly zone inside Syria that would be enforced from Jordanian territory to protect Syrian refugees and rebels who would train there, according to U.S. officials.

Asked by the White House to develop options for Syria, military planners have said that creating an area to train and equip rebel forces would require keeping Syrian aircraft well away from the Jordanian border.

To do that, the military envisages creating a no-fly zone stretching up to 25 miles into Syria which would be enforced using aircraft flown from Jordanian bases and flying inside the kingdom, according to U.S. officials.

The White House is currently considering proposals to arm the rebels in Jordan, according to U.S. officials. White House National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden declined to comment on the details of those deliberations.

The limited no-fly zone wouldn't require the destruction of Syrian antiaircraft batteries, U.S. officials said.

Officials said the White House could decide to authorize the U.S. to arm and train rebels in Jordan without authorizing the no-fly zone recommended by military planners. A White House announcement could come soon, officials said.

(Full article at the link)

Wall Street Journal says "officials" but it looks the "officials" are Mr. Ben Rhodes.

His entry on Wikipedia says he has been Obama's foreign policy speech writer since 2007. His brother is the president of CBS. For more about Mr. Rhodes, here's one link that is informative.

Right on cue, the usual suspects issue their joint statement praising the administration's decision.

The Obama administration, with the strong support from politicians like Graham and McCain, will support the "rebels" who executed a 14-year-old boy in front of his parents because the boy "insulted Islam".

Totally irrelevant but not knowing it, Japan's Prime Minister Abe is likely to announce at G-8 that Japan will join the EU and the US in directly supporting the Syrian "rebels", without ever wondering who these "rebels" are. He is just desperate for Japan to join the winning side.

PM Abe's Chief Cabinet Secretary Stating the Obvious: "When Yen Was Higher, Yen Was Much Higher"

Thursday humor to tide you over to Fabulous Friday...

From Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, on the second largest plunge of Nikkei this year and Japanese yen melting up past 94 yen (for a moment), according to Reuters Japan (6/13/2013; part):


"When yen was higher, it went to 76 yen. Right now it is 94 yen against US dollar. Share prices are up by 40% now, compared to when the Abe administration came into power, and yen is 15 yen cheaper now, even though it was higher today. Such movements are nothing to worry about. Share prices adjust, real economy and leading indicators are definitely on the mend. We would like to execute our policies with confidence."

As if real economy (aka "main street") matters to algo bots and macro investors. In case you think like Suga, it doesn't. In addition, Mr. Suga seems to already and conveniently forgot that one of the leading indicators for private capex (capital expenditure), machine order, plummeted by 8.8% in April.

Close your eyes and click your heels three times...

When Reuters Japan initially reported the news, Suga's comment was extremely succinctly summarized, as:


"When yen was higher, yen was much higher."

Exactly, Mr. Suga.

Suga also quoted Bank of Japan Governor Kuroda telling the Abe cabinet that the stock plunge is just a normal profit taking.

Exactly, Mr. Kuroda. It's also called "bear market".

Congratulations by the way for having the first major stock index in the world that has plunged down to a bear market territory (i.e. 20% correction from the top). Japan as the world No.1!

One glimmer of hope for Suga, Kuroda, and Abe, maybe, is that Goldman Sachs, who had recommended long Nikkei September futures in anticipation of BOJ's meeting results on Tuesday, is sticking to the recommendation even after the stop loss was triggered, according to Zero Hedge (6/13/2013):

...Instead, Goldman flagrantly ignores its own stop loss, and continues keeping the muppets in what is now a losing trade, and massively losing if one applied leverage.

The overnight price action in Asia has been extremely volatile, with all major equity bourses deeply in the red. The Nikkei closed more than -6% lower (and the Topix about -5%), with the JPY trading through 93 at one point (last 94.5). These sharp moves have also meant that the Nikkei September future traded through our stop of 12,700... Stay long Nikkei September futures (NKU3), opened at 13,215 on 10 June 2013, with an initial target of 14,500 and a stop on a close below 12,700, currently at 12,400.

Translation: Goldman has quite a bit more NKU3 in inventory to sell to muppets. And muppets, clueless as always, are gladly obliging.

(UPDATE) Goldman apparently exited the trade, according to Zero Hedge.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Japan's Nikkei Down More Than 600 Pts, as World Bank Fears Withdrawal of Monetary Stimulus Would Harm Emerging Markets

(UPDATE 2) Nikkei ended down 843 to 12,445. Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga says, "I will not comment on the stock market's moves, but Japanese economy is steadily growing."

Uh.. Mr. Suga, it doesn't matter. The investors who have been buying Nikkei and shorting yen are "macro" investors (and algo bots) who responds to monetary and fiscal policies of the government and the central bank. When those spectacularly disappoint (like PM Abe did by talking trivial "growth strategies", and Mr. Kuroda did by doing nothing), these investors (and algo bots) sell. Economy on the main street? Who cares.

(UPDATE) Nikkei is now down 760 points, after the news that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and BOJ's Kuroda met over lunch and talked about financial markets. According to Reuters Japan, Kuroda said to Abe,


"Japan's economy is on a steady path of recovery and it will gradually gather strength" (Reuters English's translation)


"With firm resolve, I will execute quantitative and qualitative easing, and support the Japanese economy."


"Markets will calm down gradually."

Talk is cheap, Mr. Kuroda.

Between Ben Bernanke and Haruhiko Kuroda, they have managed to wipe out 2.5 trillion dollars of value from the world equity markets since May 22, according to Bloomberg.


Bank of Japan's non-action (or Klueless Kuroda, if I may) on Tuesday continues to reverberate, as Nikkei tanked nearly 900 points in the morning session, taking the rest of Asia with it. Nikkei is now solidly in a bear market. In the afternoon session, it recovered somewhat, as yen has halted (for now) its steep melt-up against US dollar to 94 yen.

(One of the idiosyncracies of Japan, the numbers in green means they are negative.)

Trigger? It is assumed to be the report by World Bank that withdrawal of monetary stimuli by the world's biggest central banks (the US Federal Reserve, Bank of Japan, among others) may crush the economies in the developing nations by 12%.

The report is being used by traders and bots to exit the stock markets around the world.

A cluster of Hindenburg Omen in the past few weeks has not been for nothing after all, it seems.

From Reuters (6/12/2013; emphasis is mine):

Emerging markets at risk when loose policies end -World Bank

(Reuters) - The World Bank said eventual monetary tightening in advanced economies could crimp growth in emerging markets as interest rates rise, lowering the nations' potential output by as much as 12 percent.

That long-term risk is likely greater than the short-term impact from volatility in emerging market currency and bond markets, as traders try to position themselves for when the U.S. Federal Reserve begins its exit from ultra-loose monetary policies, said Kaushik Basu, the World Bank's chief economist.

Basu was speaking ahead of the launch of the bank's twice-yearly Global Economic Prospects report on Wednesday.

The report argued that the euro area and fiscal uncertainty in the United States are receding as major risks to the global economy. Instead, developing nations have to be on guard against side effects from aggressive monetary expansion in advanced nations.

Japan launched a massive bond-buying program in April to prod the economy out of decades of stagnation, raising fears Japanese investors would flood into emerging markets in search of higher yields and cause overheating.

At the same time, global markets were battered this week as traders tried to read the tea leaves of when the U.S. central bank will decide to start winding down its own stimulus measures.

(Full article at the link)

Bloomberg News (6/12/2013; emphasis is mine) quotes a financial strategist in New Zealand who talks about markets wanting stability and unlimited stimulus at the same time. With BOJ's Kuroda seen not committed to expanding his program after the Tuesday's announcement, all eyes are on the US Fed:

...The global economy will expand 2.2 percent in 2013, the World Bank said yesterday, paring a January forecast of 2.4 percent. The Federal Open Market Committee meets next week after the Bank of Japan this week left its lending program unchanged. Global stocks have plunged 5.2 percent from their May 21 peak this year on speculation the Fed may ease stimulus.

“People are still trying to assess the prospects, likelihood, and timing of tapering from the Federal Reserve,” Chris Green, an Auckland-based strategist at First NZ Capital Ltd., a brokerage and wealth management firm, said. “Markets want stability in the economy but they also want unlimited stimulus. The two can’t continue to exist together.”

(Full article at the link)

Edward Snowden: US Government Has Been Hacking Hong Kong and China Since 2009

And what is it that President Obama has been saying? That China is attacking the US in cyberspace?

From South China Morning Post (6/13/2013; emphasis is mine):

Edward Snowden: US government has been hacking Hong Kong and China for years

Former CIA operative makes more explosive claims and says Washington is ‘bullying’ Hong Kong to extradite him

Thursday, 13 June, 2013 [Updated: 2:00AM]

Lana Lam

...In an exclusive interview carried out from a secret location in the city, the former Central Intelligence Agency analyst also made explosive claims that the US government had been hacking into computers in Hong Kong and on the mainland for years.

...Snowden said that according to unverified documents seen by the Post, the NSA had been hacking computers in Hong Kong and on the mainland since 2009. None of the documents revealed any information about Chinese military systems, he said.

One of the targets in the SAR [Special Administrative Region, i.e. Hong Kong], according to Snowden, was Chinese University and public officials, businesses and students in the city. The documents also point to hacking activity by the NSA against mainland targets.

Snowden believed there had been more than 61,000 NSA hacking operations globally, with hundreds of targets in Hong Kong and on the mainland.

We hack network backbones – like huge internet routers, basically – that give us access to the communications of hundreds of thousands of computers without having to hack every single one,” he said.

“Last week the American government happily operated in the shadows with no respect for the consent of the governed, but no longer. Every level of society is demanding accountability and oversight.”

(Full article at the link)

NSA Whistleblower Edward Snowden to HK's South China Morning Post: "I am not here to hide from justice; I am here to reveal criminality"

He also says he has "faith in Hong Kong’s rule of law". So he is still in Hong Kong.

There are many commentators in the US and outside who say Hong Kong is an odd choice for anyone seeking liberty and freedom, and of all things, rule of law. There are some conservative talk show hosts in the US who tell their not-so-knowledgeable listeners that Hong Kong is the most repressive regime in the world.

Hong Kong was under the British rule until 1997.

From South China Morning Post (6/12/2013; emphasis is mine):

Whistle-blower Edward Snowden tells SCMP: 'Let Hong Kong people decide my fate'

Ex-CIA operative wants to remain in Hong Kong

Lana Lam

Edward Snowden says he wants to ask the people of Hong Kong to decide his fate after choosing the city because of his faith in its rule of law.

The 29-year-old former CIA employee behind what might be the biggest intelligence leak in US history revealed his identity to the world in Hong Kong on Sunday. His decision to use a city under Chinese sovereignty as his haven has been widely questioned – including by some rights activists in Hong Kong.

Snowden said last night that he had no doubts about his choice of Hong Kong.

“People who think I made a mistake in picking Hong Kong as a location misunderstand my intentions. I am not here to hide from justice; I am here to reveal criminality,” Snowden said in an exclusive interview with the South China Morning Post.

“I have had many opportunities to flee HK, but I would rather stay and fight the United States government in the courts, because I have faith in Hong Kong’s rule of law,” he added.

Snowden says he has committed no crimes in Hong Kong and has “been given no reason to doubt [Hong Kong’s legal] system”.

“My intention is to ask the courts and people of Hong Kong to decide my fate,” he said.

Snowden, a former employee of US government contractor Booz Allen Hamilton who worked with the National Security Agency, boarded a flight to Hong Kong on May 20 and has remained in the city ever since.

His astonishing confession on Sunday sparked a media frenzy in Hong Kong, with journalists from around the world trying to track him down. It has also caused a flurry of debate in the city over whether he should stay and whether Beijing will seek to interfere in a likely extradition case.

The Hong Kong government has so far refused to comment on Snowden’s case. While many Hong Kong lawmakers, legal experts, activisits and members of the public have called on the city’s courts to protect Snowden’s rights, others such as Beijing loyalist lawmaker and former security chief Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee said he should leave.

Hong Kong Human Rights Monitor director Law Yuk-kai said he was surprised by Snowden’s choice, adding: “Snowden’s positive view of Hong Kong no longer matches the reality.”


Local activists plan to take to the streets on Saturday in support of Snowden. Groups including the Civil Human Rights Front and international human rights groups will march from Chater Gardens in Central to the US consulate on Garden Road, starting at 3pm.

The march is being organised by In-media, a website supporting freelance journalists.

“We call on Hong Kong to respect international legal standards and procedures relating to the protection of Snowden; we condemn the US government for violating our rights and privacy; and we call on the US not to prosecute Snowden,” the group said in a statement.

(Full article at the link)

As far as my personal experience goes, economic freedom exists in Hong Kong. People in Hong Kong have stood up for what they see as injustice and violation of human rights on numerous occasions. People I've encountered (mostly business people) are urbane, confident, and open.

Icelandic legislators have offered help to obtain asylum status for Snowden, and the spokesman for Russia's President Vladimir Putin has said Russia would consider asylum.

Japan's NRA Sees No Problem With KEPCO's Emergency Response HQ at Ooi Nuke Plant (Spare Room Next to Central Control Room), Tsunami Height Estimate (3 Meters)

So, as far as Kansai Electric Power Company and the Nuclear Regulatory Authority are concerned, an accident at Ooi Nuclear Power Plant that could involve station blackout, multiple core melt, severe damages to reactor buildings and turbine buildings not to mention damaged water intake for the secondary cooling systems can be dealt with as long as KEPCO keeps a room next to the central control room available which will serve as the emergency response headquarters.


Also recall that the main access route to Ooi Nuke Plant, the only nuclear power plant in operation in Japan right now, is via the tunnel under the mountains. When KEPCO forced the restart, the company sent employees on a boat to avoid the protesters on land. Good luck with that after an earthquake and tsunami.

From Jiji Tsushin (6/11/2013):


No objection on alternative emergency response HQ at an NRA meeting to confirm whether Ooi Nuke Plant meets the new safety standards


Nuclear Regulatory Authority held a meeting on June 11 to confirm whether Reactors 3 and 4 at Ooi Nuclear Power Plant by KEPCO (Ooi-cho, Fukui Prefecture), the only operating nuclear power plant in Japan, meet the new regulatory standards. The focus was on the emergency response headquarters in a major accident that would involve meltdown (core melt). KEPCO explained that a room located next to the central control room for Reactors 1 and 2 at Ooi Nuke Plant would serve as the alternative emergency response headquarters, and there was no major objection [from NRA].


NRA also decided to conduct a survey of the plant on June 15, and it will decide whether the plant should continue to operate by the end of this month. If there is no significant safety problem, NRA is going to approve continued operation until the scheduled maintenance in September.

Reactors 1 and 2 at Ooi Nuclear Power Plant have been in the scheduled maintenance.

TEPCO had the multi-story Anti-Seismic Building at Fukushima I Nuke Plant that was completed just in time, and it has been used as the emergency response headquarters. KEPCO says a room next to the control room will be sufficient, and no one at NRA thinks it is not.

The NRA doesn't seem to have any problem with KEPCO's estimate either that in case of an earthquake caused by a 90-kilometer-long active fault in Wakasa Bay a 3-meter-high tsunami (max) will hit the water intake at the plant, which is located at 9.7 meters above the sea level.

Where have we seen the similar numbers before? And what has happened to the nuclear plant?

Dismissing its own internal estimates (10 to 15 meters), TEPCO settled for the max 5.7-meter tsunami in case of a large earthquake of Magnitude 7.9. It was 15-meter tsunami/run-up, and M.9.0 earthquake.

From Jiji Tsushin (6/10/2013):


Study of earthquake, tsunami almost complete, in evaluation of Ooi Nuke Plant on the new regulatory standards, says NRA


Nuclear Regulatory Authority held a meeting on June 10 to evaluate whether Reactors 3 and 4 at Ooi Nuclear Power Plant meets the new regulatory standards. The plant, operated by KEPCO, is the only nuclear power plant operating in Japan. NRA will continue to confirm the safety measures at the plant, and will decide whether the plant should continue to operate by the end of this month.


In the June 10 meeting, KEPCO showed the data that says a tsunami with the maximum height of 3 meters would reach the water intake for Reactors 3 and 4 if they assume the 90-kilometer-long fault moves in Wakasa Bay, where Ooi Nuke Plant is located, and submarine landslide occurs. The site elevation at Reactors 3 and 4 is 9.7 meters from the sea level, but NRA will ask for evaluation of the effect on the facilities if the tsunami water flows in from the water intake.

Uh... How about some evaluation if the tsunami water is much, much higher than the operator anticipates, like it happened in Fukushima two years ago?

It looks more and more like NRA is another NISA after all, agency to enable electric power companies to operate nuclear power plants with minimum oversight.

In other words, Japan has fully recovered from the biggest nuclear accident in the nation's history.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Japanese Government Mandates "Cyprus" Treatment on Bank Investors in the Future Financial Crisis

Cyprus "bail-in" was such a resounding success that it has become the template for the advanced (industrialized) nations of the world who are also swimming in debt.

No national government on the planet Earth is more indebted, as percentage of GDP, than Japan's. article at Yahoo Finance (6/11/2013):

Japan to adopt 'bail-ins,' force bank losses on investors if needed, Nikkei says

Japan's Financial Services Agency will enact new rules that will forced failed bank losses on investors, if needed, via a mechanism known as a "bail-in," according to The Nikkei. Mitsubishi UFJ (MTU), Mizuho Financial (MFG) and Sumitomo Mitsui (SMFG) are among those proposing amendments to allow them to issue the types of preferred shares or subordinated bonds that would be used in such cases, the report noted.

From Nikkei's Japanese subscribers-only article which I can only see the first paragraph because I already exceeded the monthly allowance for non-paying subscribers,


Financial Services Agency will introduce a new system that will harshly call to account investors in the nation's financial institutions. In a financial crisis, if the government declares a financial institution to have failed, the government will be able to cut investment capital to that institution. By having the investors shoulder part of the loss in a financial crisis, the system will reduce the burden on taxpayers. It will be the first government-led system that will impose a loss on investors.

Oh yes, it is to protect taxpayers, who are most likely also the bank depositors, i.e. "investors" who lend money to the banks.

Japan's PM Abe Calls People Who Oppose His Policies "Left-Wing" on His Facebook and Twitter: "There were some leftists, with hatred, to interrupt our speeches..."

Yes, Mr. Abe, they hate you.

Isn't it interesting. A mirror image of President Obama.

Wall Street Journal reports (6/10/2013):

Abe’s Facebook Post on TPP Protestors Causes a Stir

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s decision to join negotiations for an emerging regional trade agreement gained kudos from the business community and many city dwellers. But it remains a hot-button issue, and the prime minister faces opposition from both the left and the right of the political spectrum.

That tension, and the complex nature of the opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement, were on full display Monday after Mr. Abe wrote a bluntly-worded post on his widely-read Facebook page about TPP protestors.

The post appeared Sunday night, a few hours after a minor scuffle involving protestors at the scene of a street rally by Mr. Abe and other leaders of his Liberal Democratic Party in central Tokyo. The prime minister spoke atop a campaign truck to a large Sunday evening crowd in front of the Shibuya Station. Competing for the attention in the plaza next to it were several dozen activists protesting Japan’s participation in the TPP talks.

“I was touched that so many of you came to Shibuya,” wrote the prime minister, whose frequent Facebook posts cover everything from a college reunion to a foreign policy debate. “There were some leftists with microphones and drums in the audience who tried hard, with hatred, to interrupt our speeches. But I must say that gave us fight. Thank You. A child in front laughed them off, saying ‘Quiet!’ Admirable. Please remember that those are representatives of embarrassing adults.”

To the frustration of some of his 350,000 followers, however, the post no longer seems to be available for general viewing, and the reason is unknown. An official for Mr. Abe’s office said the post had not been taken down and that its access had not been curtailed. The official, who declined to give his name, said the post was visible on his own computer screen and invited the reporter to come and see. A spokesman for the Prime Minister’s office declined to comment, noting that the matter related to Mr. Abe’s personal Facebook page. The press office for Facebook Japan could not be reached for comment immediately.

Still, many Twitter users said they could not acces the original post, and wondered about what seemed to be its mysterious disappearance . “I can’t see the Facebook post. Why?” said one. “Could it be a cyberattack?” said another.

Mr. Abe’s Twitter page still has a tweet that shows a link to the Facebook post that no longer seems to work, as well as a few lines from the post. Some individuals have posted links to the entire post that had been captured earlier.

Many of the comments attached to Mr. Abe’s tweet were critical, with some focusing on the use of the word “leftists” to describe the anti-TPP protestors.

“There are a lot of LDP supporters and conservatives who are in the anti-TPP camp. Does this mean he labels all his enemies leftists and friends rightists?” one wrote. “Have you forgotten that you helped 205 anti-TPP lawmakers win seats in the last elections?” another wrote. “These words are not suitable for the prime minister of a nation,” another wrote.

By Tuesday morning, access to the Facebook post has been restored.

I have no idea why "city dwellers" would give "kudos" to Abe's TPP. I've never heard of it.

Here's the screen shot of the Facebook page, with his fans' comments below. The Wall Street Journal didn't touch on those comments, but if you read these comments you would completely despair of Japan. The article does not say either that people protesting against TPP were there first, and Abe and his group were the ones who interrupted.

Bank of Japan's Non-Action Tanks Global Financial Markets

Despite their talk of "global" this and that, "international" this and that, the Abe administration and Kuroda BOJ remain extremely domestic. On top of that, they don't actually have "Plan B" for their respective policies - so-called "Abenomics" for Abe, "Quantitative Easing on a different dimension [as in "Twilight Zone"]" for Kuroda.

Their mode of operation is to keep doing it until it works. Nothing new in Japan, of all places.

Abe's so-called "growth strategy" for the nation of Japan is full of words like "Japan as the number one in the world". Kuroda was supposedly elected as Governor of Bank of Japan because of his supposedly excellent skills in communicating with the participants in the global financial markets.

However, when Bank of Japan commissioners met on June 11, despite the global turmoil in financial markets, particularly the bond markets including their own, caused by their clumsy implementation of endless bond buying, they decided to put a brave face and pretend nothing was amiss. They did nothing, which was not at all what the global financial markets were anticipating.

In driving, the worst and the most dangerous driver is the one who is unpredictable.

From AP (6/11/2013):

Japanese disappointment weighs on global markets

LONDON (AP) — Disappointment that the Bank of Japan did not unveil more measures to boost the economy as well as uncertainty over the course of U.S. monetary policy weighed hard on global markets Tuesday.

There had been expectations that the Bank of Japan, which started a big monetary stimulus this year to get the world's number 3 economy out of a two-decade stagnation, would announce new measures to ease volatility in the Japanese bond market. Instead the bank's policy board merely upgraded its economic assessment.

The disappointment was enough to send Japan's Nikkei stock index down 1.5 percent to close at 13,317.62. However, the retreat was modest in light of the previous day's 4.9 percent advance following an upward revision of first-quarter economic data. In tandem with the fall in equities, the yen made big gains — the dollar was down 2 percent to 96.87 yen.

"The decision to hold steady prompted a sharp jump in the yen, and is also one factor contributing to weakness in global equities," said Nick Bennenbroek, head of currency strategy at Wells Fargo Bank.

In Europe, the FTSE 100 index of leading British shares was down 1.6 percent at 6,298 while Germany's DAX fell 1.7 percent to 8,165. The CAC-40 in France was 1.8 percent lower at 3,793.

In the U.S., the Dow Jones industrial average was down 0.8 percent at 15,114 while the broader S&P 500 index fell 0.9 percent to 1,628.

(Full article at the link)

Monday, June 10, 2013

Guardian Interview of Edward Snowden, NSA Whistleblower

who has now disappeared.

Now increasingly we see that it's happening domestically. To do that NSA specifically targets the communications of everyone, it ingests them by default, it collects them in its system and it filters them and analyzes them and it measures them and stores them for periods of time simply because that's the easiest, most efficient, and most valuable way to achieve these ends. So while they may be intending to target someone associated with a foreign government or someone that they suspect at terrorism, they are collecting your communications to do so.

Any analyst at any time can target anyone, any selector, anywhere. Where those communications will be picked up depends on the range of the sensor networks and the authorities that the analyst is empowered with. Not all analysts have the ability to target everything. But I, sitting at my desk, certainly had authorities to wire-tap anyone - from you, your accountant, to a federal judge, even to the president if I had the personal email.

... ...

I'm no different from anybody else. I don't have special skills, I'm just another guy who sits there day to day in the office who watches what's happening, and goes "This is something that's not our place to decide, the public needs to decide, whether these programs and policies are right or wrong." I'm willing to go on record to defend the authenticity of them, and say "I didn't change these, I didn't modify the story, this is the truth, this is what's happening, you should decide whether we need to be doing this."

And "the public"? According to Pew Research, 56% of Americans are quite happy that NSA is tracking their phone conversations. The good government is doing all they can to protect us from "terrorists"!

It is hard to believe they are the citizens of a country born of a revolution, but if I remember right, the majority of residents of the American colony were happy to remain the English subjects under King George III.

CA Governor Jerry Brown to Meet Osaka Governor Matsui, Who Wants to "Explain" Hashimoto's Remarks on Comfort Women to Correct "Misunderstanding"

I'm surprised that Governor Brown is willing to see Mr. Matsui, particularly when City of San Francisco denied, in no uncertain terms, Osaka City Mayor Toru Hashimoto an official visit to the city precisely because of Hashimoto's comments on "comfort women" that blew up spectacularly on his face outside Japan (and he doesn't even realize it).

Governor Matsui, Boy-wonder's sidekick in Japan Restoration Party, has just departed for the US, and one of the main objectives of the trip (if not the only objective) is to persuade Americans that they are mistaken about Boy-wonder's comments about "comfort women" and Japanese sex industry.

To kick-start his tour of the US, Matsui will be meeting with Governor Jerry Brown of California in the morning on June 11. He says he wants to use the opportunity to explain Mayor Hashimoto's position.

What Governor Brown could do is to openly laugh at Matsui, and end the conversation.

From Kyodo News (6/10/2013):

松井大阪府知事、米国へ出発 慰安婦発言説明に意欲

Osaka Governor Matsui departs for the US, eager to explain [Hashimoto's] comments on comfort women


Secretary General of Japan Restoration Party and Governor of Osaka Prefecture Ichiro Matsui departed from Kansai Airport for San Francisco in the afternoon on June 10, to study the management of big cities in the United States. Criticism persists in the US over the remarks by Osaka City Mayor and co-President of Japan Restoration Party on comfort women and suggestion to the US military to utilize Japan's sex industry. Mr. Matsui says he is eager to "clear the misunderstanding" of American people.


The first such opportunity will be the meeting in the morning of June 11 with California Governor Brown. Toru Nakahara, Osaka Prefecture's Superintendent of Education and Mr. Hashimoto's friend since their college days, will accompany Matsui. Since Mr. Nakahara worked in the US as an attorney, he will join in the conversation if a subtle expression [in English] is required.

Osaka residents are footing the bill, of course.

Abe Administration's Plan to "Expedite" Corium Removal at #Fukushima I Nuke Plant As July Upper House Election Ploy?

The national government and TEPCO announced the revised "roadmap" (draft) for the decommissioning of Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant on June 10, 2013, in which the removal of corium (fuel debris) is to be expedited by one and a half year ahead of the original schedule.

And no one says/asks/wonders (except for people like "Happy" and Ryuichi Kino),


Mainichi doesn't ask that kind of fundamental question either. Instead, it sort of speculates, by quoting someone else and not as the paper's opinion or analysis. Sort of cross between the tabloid newspaper and the government PR department.

What are the speculations? That it is a ploy to secure the win for the LDP in the coming Upper House election in July, and that it is to prompt residents in the former evacuation zones around the plant to return sooner.

From Mainichi Shinbun (6/10/2013):

福島第1原発:燃料位置さえ不明 廃炉予定も変わらず

Fukushima I Nuke Plant: Locations of fuel debris unknown, decommissioning schedule unchanged


"Pie in the sky", may be just the ploy for the Upper House election


The revised roadmap was announced on June, in which the removal of fuel debris inside the reactors at Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant would be expedited by the maximum one and a half year. The decommissioning was still scheduled to end sometime "between 30 and 40 years" from now. The reality is that we don't even know where the fuel debris is. Unless there is a new technology development, the "roadmap" could be nothing but "pie in the sky".


There are [or rather, was] total 1496 fuel assemblies inside the reactors in Reactors 1 through 3, and total 3106 fuel assemblies in the Spent Fuel Pools in Reactors 1 through 4. The fuel inside the reactors is called "debris" (corium), which is considered to be a mass of fuel mixed with metals. A fuel assembly weighs about 300 kilograms. It would require sophisticated technology to cut and collect the [total] 450 tonnes of radioactive fuel debris by remote control.


In order to expedite the removal, the key would be the success of "water entombment" of the reactors. It is a technique to shield radiation, but there are holes in the reactors at Fukushima I Nuke Plant which must be filled with water. Identifying and repairing the holes would be a problem.


The national government and TEPCO will examine the decommissioning technology, and decide by the end of the next fiscal year whether it is possible to expedite the removal of fuel debris.


The official in charge at the Agency of Natural Resources and Energy under the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry indicated the possibility that the plan may be delayed, during the press conference on June 10, saying "Expediting the debris removal depends on the R&D. It could be pushed further back." The revision of the roadmap has been spear-headed by Minister of Economy Toshimitsu Motegi, and some see this push for expediting the debris removal as "PR for the Upper House Election to show the positive result of the regime change".


Professor Satoru Tanaka of Tokyo University, who is knowledgeable about decommissioning, says, "I would like to commend the government for expediting the decommissioning schedule in order to encourage early return of the residents. However, there are many technologies to be developed, and the government need to continue the support for new technology development."

Dr. Satoru Tanaka was the 33rd chairman of the Atomic Energy Society of Japan (aka "nuclear village").

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Quiet-Spoken 29-Year-Old Former CIA Technician Is the NSA Whistleblower

(UPDATE 6/10/2013) And he disappears. I hope it is his intention to disappear, not someone having him "disappear".


"My name is Ed Snowden, I am 29 years old. I work for Booz Allen Hamilton as an infrastructure analyst for NSA in Hawaii."

Before that, he says he worked for the Central Intelligence Agency.

The Guardian has a video of the interview by Glenn Greenwald and Ewen MacAskill in Hong Kong, and part of the interview is written up as an article.

It is at Mr. Snowden's request that the paper is revealing his identity.

From The Guardian (6/9/2013; part):

NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden: 'I do not expect to see home again'

Source for the Guardian's NSA files on why he carried out the biggest intelligence leak in a generation – and what comes next

Ewen MacAskill

Q: Why did you decide to become a whistleblower?

A: "The NSA has built an infrastructure that allows it to intercept almost everything. With this capability, the vast majority of human communications are automatically ingested without targeting. If I wanted to see your emails or your wife's phone, all I have to do is use intercepts. I can get your emails, passwords, phone records, credit cards.

"I don't want to live in a society that does these sort of things … I do not want to live in a world where everything I do and say is recorded. That is not something I am willing to support or live under."

Q: Do you think what you have done is a crime?

A: "We have seen enough criminality on the part of government. It is hypocritical to make this allegation against me. They have narrowed the public sphere of influence."

Q: What do you think is going to happen to you?

A: "Nothing good."

Q: What do the leaked documents reveal?

A: "That the NSA routinely lies in response to congressional inquiries about the scope of surveillance in America. I believe that when [senator Ron] Wyden and [senator Mark] Udall asked about the scale of this, they [the NSA] said it did not have the tools to provide an answer. We do have the tools and I have maps showing where people have been scrutinised most. We collect more digital communications from America than we do from the Russians."

Q: Is it possible to put security in place to protect against state surveillance?

A: "You are not even aware of what is possible. The extent of their capabilities is horrifying. We can plant bugs in machines. Once you go on the network, I can identify your machine. You will never be safe whatever protections you put in place."

(Interview video and full article at the link)

In another article about the interview, Mr. Snowden says:

"All my options are bad," he said. The US could begin extradition proceedings against him, a potentially problematic, lengthy and unpredictable course for Washington. Or the Chinese government might whisk him away for questioning, viewing him as a useful source of information. Or he might end up being grabbed and bundled into a plane bound for US territory.

"Yes, I could be rendered by the CIA. I could have people come after me. Or any of the third-party partners. They work closely with a number of other nations. Or they could pay off the Triads. Any of their agents or assets," he said.

"We have got a CIA station just up the road – the consulate here in Hong Kong – and I am sure they are going to be busy for the next week. And that is a concern I will live with for the rest of my life, however long that happens to be."

Having watched the Obama administration prosecute whistleblowers at a historically unprecedented rate, he fully expects the US government to attempt to use all its weight to punish him. "I am not afraid," he said calmly, "because this is the choice I've made."

He predicts the government will launch an investigation and "say I have broken the Espionage Act and helped our enemies, but that can be used against anyone who points out how massive and invasive the system has become".

And this from Zero Hedge:

We would like to thank Snowden for putting a nail into the coffin of all those who use the term "conspiracy theorist" pejoratively. Because whatever his motives, whatever the outcome of this dramatic escalation between the people's right to know and a government intent on hijacking all civil liberties one by one, Snowden has showed that the distance from Conspiracy Theory to Conspiracy Fact is just one ethical judgment away.

UK Guardian (Glenn Greenwald): NSA's "Boundless Informant" Tracks Global Surveillance Data, 97 Billion Pieces of Intelligence in One Month

Greenwald's scoop keeps going on and on...

From The Guardian (6/8/2013; part, emphasis is mine):

Boundless Informant: the NSA's secret tool to track global surveillance data

Revealed: The NSA's powerful tool for cataloguing data – including figures on US collection

Glenn Greenwald and Ewen MacAskill

The National Security Agency has developed a powerful tool for recording and analysing where its intelligence comes from, raising questions about its repeated assurances to Congress that it cannot keep track of all the surveillance it performs on American communications.

The Guardian has acquired top-secret documents about the NSA datamining tool, called Boundless Informant, that details and even maps by country the voluminous amount of information it collects from computer and telephone networks.

The focus of the internal NSA tool is on counting and categorizing the records of communications, known as metadata, rather than the content of an email or instant message.

The Boundless Informant documents show the agency collecting almost 3 billion pieces of intelligence from US computer networks over a 30-day period ending in March 2013. One document says it is designed to give NSA officials answers to questions like, "What type of coverage do we have on country X" in "near real-time by asking the SIGINT [signals intelligence] infrastructure."

An NSA factsheet about the program, acquired by the Guardian, says: "The tool allows users to select a country on a map and view the metadata volume and select details about the collections against that country."

Under the heading "Sample use cases", the factsheet also states the tool shows information including: "How many records (and what type) are collected against a particular country."

A snapshot of the Boundless Informant data, contained in a top secret NSA "global heat map" seen by the Guardian, shows that in March 2013 the agency collected 97bn pieces of intelligence from computer networks worldwide.

(Full article at the link)

The "heat map" shows NSA's keen interest in March 2013 in Iran, Pakistan, Jordan, Egypt, and India.

Also from The Guardian/Greenwald, President Obama has ordered his senior national security and intelligence officials to draw up a list of potential overseas targets for US cyber-attacks. I wonder if Chairman Xi had read that Friday June 7, 2013 article before he met with Obama.