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Thursday, April 28, 2011


The Four Horsemen Behind The Oil Wars

While Americans are robbed at the gas pump, Exxon Mobil will this week report a 60% increase in its quarterly net profits to a cool $10 billion.  Royal Dutch/Shell will report a 30% increase.
In 1975 British writer Anthony Sampson penned The Seven Sisters, bestowing a collective name on a shadowy oil cartel, which throughout its history has sought to eliminate competitors and control the world’s oil resource.  Sampson’s “Seven Sisters” name came from independent Italian oil man Enrico Mattei.
In the 1960’s Mattei began negotiating with Algeria, Libya and other nationalistic OPEC states who wanted to sell their oil internationally without having to deal with the Seven Sisters.  Algeria had a long history of defying Big Oil and was once ruled by President Houari Boumedienne, one of the great Arab socialist leaders of all time, who initiated the original ideas for a more just “New International Economic Order” in fiery speeches at the UN, where he encouraged producer cartels modeled on OPEC as a means to Third World emancipation.  
In 1962 Mattei died in a mysterious plane crash.  Former French intelligence agent Thyraud de Vosjoli says French intelligence was involved.  William McHale of Time magazine, who covered Mattei’s attempt to break the Big Oil cartel, also died under strange circumstances.
A tidal wave of mergers at the turn of the millennium transformed Sampson’s Seven Sisters – Royal Dutch/Shell, British Petroleum, Exxon, Mobil, Chevron, Texaco and Gulf – into a more tightly controlled cartel which, in my book Big Oil & Their Bankers…, I term the Four Horsemen: Exxon Mobil, Chevron Texaco, BP Amoco and Royal Dutch/Shell.

File:Apocalypse vasnetsov.jpg
By the late 1800’s John D. Rockefeller had become popularly known as “the Illumination Merchant” during a time when oil was powering the reading lamps of every American household.  Rockefeller figured out that it was the refining of oil into various end products and not actual crude production which held the key to control of the industry. 
By 1895 his Standard Oil Company owned 95% of all refineries in the US while expanding operations overseas.  Summing up his attitude towards his new oil monopoly, Rockefeller once stated, “The day of combination is here to stay.  Individualism is gone never to return”.
Rockefeller’s Standard Oil Trust began illuminating the New World with funding from Kuhn Loeb and Rothschild banking families.  While the Rockefellers worked the American side of the energy matrix, the Rothschilds consolidated their control over Old World oil resources. 
By 1892 Shell Oil, under the direction of Marcus Samuel, began shipping SouthSeacrude through the new Suez Canal to supply Europe’s factories.  Shell took its name from the abundance of seashells which lined the shores of the Dutch-controlled archipelago that is now Indonesia.  The Samuel family controls London’s biggest merchant bank Hill Samuel, along with the trading house Samuel Montagu. 
In 1903 the Swedish Nobel and the French Rothschild’s Far East Trading – financed by King Wilhelm III – combined with Samuel and Oppenheimer’s Shell Oil to form the Asiatic Petroleum Company.
In 1927 Royal Dutch Petroleum discovered oil at Seria off the coast of Brunei, whose Sultan would become the world’s richest man as a result of his loyalty to Royal Dutch.  The Dutch and British monarchs who control Royal Dutch merged their company with the Oppenheimer and Samuel’s Shell Oil and Nobel and Rothschild’s Far East Trading and Royal Dutch/Shell was born.  Queen Beatrix of the Dutch House of Orange and Lord Victor Rothschild are its two largest shareholders.
In 1872 Baron Julius du Reuter was granted his 50-year concession in Iran.  In 1914 the British government took control of his Anglo-Persian Company and renamed it Anglo-Iranian, then British Petroleum, then BP.  Britain’s House of Windsor controls a large stake in BP Amoco while the Kuwaiti monarchy owns 9.5%.
In 1906 the US government ordered the dissolution of Rockefeller’s Standard Oil Trust, charging that Standard violated the new Sherman Anti-Trust Act.  On May 15, 1911 the US Supreme Court declared, “Seven men and a corporate machine have conspired against their fellow citizens.  For the safety of the Republic we now decree that this dangerous conspiracy must be ended by November 15th”. 
But the breakup of Standard Oil along state lines only served to increase the wealth of the Rockefeller family, who retained 25% interest in each new company.  Soon the new companies began to reintegrate.
The new Standard Oil of New York merged with Vacuum Oil to form Socony-Vacuum, which became Mobil in 1966.  Standard Oil of Indiana joined with Standard Oil of Nebraska and Standard Oil of Kansas and in 1985 became Amoco.  In 1972 Standard Oil of New Jersey became Exxon.  In 1984 Standard Oil of California joined with Standard Oil Kentucky to become Chevron.  Standard Oil of Ohio (Sohio) retained the Standard brand until it was bought by BP, which also bought trust-baby Atlantic Richfield (ARCO).  Thus the Rockefellers came to own a large chunk of BP.
By 1920 Exxon, BP and Royal Dutch/Shell dominated the world’s booming oil business, with the Rockefeller, Rothschild, Samuel, Nobel and Oppenheimer families, along with British and Dutch royals owning the brunt of their stock.  Two other Rockefeller babies, Mobil and Chevron, weren’t far behind the Big Three.  The Texas Murchison family – themselves patronized by the Rockefellers – controlled Texaco, while the Mellon family – with its own ties to the Rockefeller fortune – controlled Seventh Sister Gulf Oil.
The first known attempt by the Seven Sisters to stifle competition came in 1928 when Sir John Cadman of British Petroleum, Sir Henry Deterding of Royal Dutch/Shell, Walter Teagle of Exxon and William Mellon of Gulf met at Cadman’s castle near Achnacarry, Scotland.  Here an agreement was reached that would divide up the world’s oil reserves and markets. 
The Achnacarry Agreement became known to oil industry insiders as the As Is Agreement because its aim was to maintain a status quo under which the Seven Sisters controlled the world’s oil through market share agreements, sharing of refining and storage facilities, and by agreeing to limit production to keep prices high.
Big Oil signed three more agreements in the next six years.  The 1930 Memorandum of Understanding for European Markets was followed by the 1932 Heads of Agreement for Distribution and the 1934 Draft Memorandum of Principles.
Between 1931 and 1933 the Four Horsemen ruthlessly cut the price for East Texascrude from $.98/barrel to $.10/barrel.  Many Texas wildcatters were run out of business.  Those that remained were forced to agree to strict production quotas under threat of ruin by the majors – quotas that still exist to this day.  It is these quotas, not “the environmentalists” (as the reactionary right claims) that serve to keep the US dependent on Persian Gulf oil, where Big Oil dominates the game.
By taking the oil industry international – which requires billions in capital – the Four Horsemen keep independent challenges to their hegemony at bay.  They also put thousands of US oil workers out of jobs in Texas and Louisiana.
John D. Rockefeller himself did not control crude reserves.  Instead he invested heavily in refining and cut deals with the Morgan-controlled railroads to cut his shipping costs. Texas wildcatters had to pay much more to ship their oil.  They possessed neither the esoteric knowledge of refining crude, nor the capital to build expensive refineries.  All their money was tied up in drilling rigs, which were not cheap either.
Today the Rockefeller family fortune is even more heavily invested in downstream oil operations such as petrochemicals and plastics, as well as in industries that are dependent on oil such as banking, aerospace and automobiles. 
In the 1980’s long-time Chase Manhattan chairman David Rockefeller invested $35 billion in Singapore, which has since become an important refining and storage center.  Royal Dutch/Shell’s largest single refinery is at Pulau Bukom, Singapore.  In 1991, as the Asian Tigers began to roar, Exxon Mobil introduced unleaded gas to Thailand, Malaysia, Hong Kong and Singapore.  It produces it at its giant Jurong refinery in Singapore.
The Four Horsemen have followed the money downstream.  They are the world’s largest refiners and marketers of crude oil in all of its various end-product forms.  RoyalDutch/Shell is both the leading marketer and refiner of crude oil and is currently the source of one in ten barrels of refined product in the world.  Its bottom line has benefited greatly from this downstream move with the firm showing record profits starting in 1988 and many years since.  Seventy-seven percent of Shell profits now come from petrochemicals.
Shell also owns the world’s largest refinery complex on the Netherlands Antilles island of Aruba, just off the Venezuelan coast.  In 1991 Shell sold an outdated refinery on the neighboring island of Curacao while upgrading its Aruba facilities.  The completion of this massive complex caused Venezuelan crude to become much more important to global oil supply.  Crude from African nations like Nigeria and Angola is also refined at the Shell Aruba facility, which sits next to a hulking Exxon Mobil refinery named Lago, after Venezuela’s Lake Maracaibo, from where most Venezuelan crude is derived.
Royal Dutch/Shell is currently focused on development of natural gas markets, investing heavily in Middle Distillate Synthesis (MDS) plants that convert liquefied natural gas to high-grade liquid products.  By 1996 they had built MDS facilities in Malaysia, Nigeria and Norway.  In 1993 Shell joined with Mitsubishi and Exxon Mobil in a $3 billion natural gas project in Venezuela and launched a $1.1 billion petrochemical expansion in Brazil.  That same year BP Amoco discovered huge oilfields in neighboring Columbia.
By 1969 Exxon owned 67 oil refineries in 37 countries.  Over 60% of Exxon’s 1991 profits came from downstream operations.  In the first quarter of that year alone, Exxon made a $2.4 billion profit, the highest quarterly profit since Rockefeller founded Standard Oil of New Jersey in 1882.  It was no coincidence that the Gulf War was being prosecuted during this time, with Exxon meeting much of the demand generated by the US military and its allies. 
In the early 1990’s Exxon bought the plastics division of Allied Signal and entered joint ventures with both Dow and Monsanto in the thermoplastic elastomer realm.  According to Exxon Mobil’s 2001 10K filing to the SEC, the company netted $17 billion in year 2000.  From 2003-2006, during the US occupation of Iraq, the company regularly broke its own record for biggest quarterly profit by any corporation in US history.
Recently the Four Horsemen have been swimming back upstream, becoming the top four retailers of gas in the US.  They own every major pipeline in the world and the vast majority of oil tankers.  Royal Dutch/Shell has 114 ships in its armada.  Recently the company added seven giant liquefied natural gas tankers.  Shell has 133,000 employees worldwide and in 1991, boasted assets of $105 billion.  Shell’s Bullwinkle oil platform in the Gulf of Mexico is taller than the world’s highest building. 
Exxon Mobil leads the way in producing lubricant base stocks and its scientists invented butyl rubber.  It has operations in 200 countries and is the only firm that operates in the harsh Beaufort Sea, where it built 19 islands of steel to drill from.  Exxon owns most of the land in Yemen (5.6 million acres), Oman and Chad.  Its 1991 assets totaled $87 billion.
The latest wave of mergers in the oil industry began in the early 1960’s.  Eight of the top twenty-five oil companies in 1960 had merged by 1970.  Exxon bought Monterey Oil and Honolulu Oil.  Chevron scooped up Standard Oil of Kentucky.  Atlantic Oil merged with Richfield Refining to form ARCO, which then gobbled up Sinclair.  Marathon Oil bought Plymouth Refining.
Another merger wave ensued in the 1980’s.  Chevron bought Gulf in 1984.  Texaco purchased Getty Oil.  Mobil bought Superior Oil.  BP grabbed both Britoil and Sohio (Standard Oil of Ohio).  ARCO bought City Services.  US Steel purchased Marathon Oil.  The 1984 discovery of North Sea oil consolidated the position of Big Oil – especially Royal Dutch/Shell and Exxon – whose Shell Expro joint venture was awarded the prime concessions. 
In 1985 Shell bought Occidental Petroleum’s Columbian interests.  In 1988 it took over Tenneco’s assets in that country.  The 1990’s saw Amoco (Standard Oil of IN) hitching its wagons to BP to form BP Amoco.  In 1999 BP Amoco bought ARCO, giving the company 72% ownership of the Alaskan Pipeline.
Exxon bought Texaco Canada and Mexico’s Compania General de Lubricantes in 1991.  Conoco was purchased by DuPont.  In March 1997, Texaco and RD/Shell merged their US refining operations.
The final and most dramatic wave of consolidation saw Exxon merge with Mobil in November 1999.  That same year Chevron bought Thailand’s Rutherford-Moran Oil and Argentina’s Petrolera Argentina San Jorge.  In July 2000 Chevron merged its petrochemical business with that of Phillips to form Chevron Phillips Chemical Company.  That same year Chevron tied the knot with Texaco. 
On August 30, 2002 Conoco’s merger with Phillips Petroleum was approved creating Conoco Phillips, which in 2005 bought coal titan Burlington Resources.  In 2002 Royal Dutch/Shell bought up previously merged Pennzoil/Quaker State as well as Britain’s biggest remaining independent oil company – Enterprise Oil.  In 2005 Chevron Texaco bought Unocal.  And Four Horsemen rode on.
The Four Horsemen have interlocking directorates with the international mega-banks.  Exxon Mobil shares board members with JP Morgan Chase, Citigroup, Deutsche Bank, Royal Bank of Canada and Prudential.  Chevron Texaco has interlocks with Bank of America and JP Morgan Chase.  BP Amoco shares directors with JP Morgan Chase.  RD/Shell has ties with Citigroup, JP Morgan Chase, N. M. Rothschild & Sons and Bank of England.
Former Citibank chairman Walter Shipley sat on Exxon Mobil’s board, as did Wayne Calloway of Citigroup and Allen Murray of JP Morgan Chase.  Willard Butcher of Chase sat on the board of Chevron Texaco.  Former Fed chairman Alan Greenspan came from Morgan Guaranty Trust and served on the board of Mobil.  BP Amoco director Lewis Preston went on to become president of the World Bank. 
Other BP Amoco directors have included Sir Eric Drake, the #2 man at the world’s largest port operator P&O Nedlloyd and a director at Hudson Bay Company and Kleinwort Benson.  William Johnston Keswick, whose family controls Hong Kong powerhouse Jardine Matheson, also sat on the board of BP Amoco.  Keswick’s son is a director at HSBC.  The Hong Kong connection is even stronger at Royal Dutch/Shell.
Lord Armstrong of Ilminster sat on the boards of Royal Dutch/Shell, N. M. Rothschild & Sons, Rio Tinto and Inchcape.  Cathay Pacific Airlines owner and HSBC insider Sir John Swire was a director at Shell, as was Sir Peter Orr, who joins Armstrong on Inchape’s board.  Shell director Sir Peter Baxendell joins Armstrong on the board of Rio Tinto, while Shell’s Sir Robert Clark sits on the board of the Bank of England.
As a result of the deregulation craze in the US companies no longer have to report their top shareholders to the SEC.  According to 1993 10K reports filed by the Four Horsemen, the Rothschild, Rockefeller and Warburg banking combines still control Big Oil.  The Rockefellers exert control through New York mega-banks and Banker’s Trust, which in 1999 was purchased by Warburg-controlled Deutsche Bank in its bid to become the largest bank in the world. 
As of 1993 Banker’s Trust was #1 shareholder in Exxon.  Chemical Bank was #4 and J.P. Morgan was #5.  Both are now part of JP Morgan Chase.  Banker’s Trust was also leading shareholder at Mobil.  BP listed Morgan Guaranty as its biggest owner in 1993, while Amoco listed Banker’s Trust as its #2 shareholder.  Chevron listed Banker’s Trust as its #5 shareholder, while Texaco listed J.P. Morgan as its #4 owner and Banker’s Trust as #9. 
Thus, Deutsche Bank and JP Morgan Chase – the banks of Warburg and Rockefeller – have increased shares in Exxon Mobil, BP Amoco and Chevron Texaco.  Rothschild-controlled Bank of America and Wells Fargo exert West Coast control over Big Oil, while Mellon Bank also remains a big player.  Wells Fargo and Mellon Bank were both top 10 shareholders of Exxon Mobil, Chevron Texaco and BP Amoco as of 1993.
Information on Royal Dutch/Shell is even harder to obtain since they are registered in the UK and Holland and are not required to file 10K reports.  It is 60% owned by Royal Dutch Petroleum of Holland and 40% owned by Shell Trading & Transport of the UK.  The company has only 14,000 stockholders and few directors.  The consensus from researchers is that Royal Dutch/Shell is still controlled by the Rothschild, Oppenheimer, Nobel and Samuel families along with the British House of Windsor and the Dutch House of Orange. 
Queen Beatrix of the Dutch House of Orange and Lord Victor Rothschild are the two largest shareholders.  Queen Beatix’ mother Juliana was once the richest woman in the world and a patroness of the right-wing occult movement.  Prince Bernhard, who married Juliana in 1937, was a member of the Hitler Youth Movement, the Nazi SS and an employee of Nazi combine I.G. Farben.  He sits on the boards of over 300 European companies and founded the Bilderbergers.
When you’re being robbed, it’s always a good idea to be able to identify the perp.  Now if only we could get the cops to bring em’ in…

Wednesday, April 27, 2011


The Virtues of Smallness

by Butler Shaffer
by Butler Shaffer 
Recently by Butler Shaffer: What Does History 'Prove'?

Whenever something is wrong, something is too big.~ Leopold Kohr

Recent events in Japan bring to mind Leopold Kohr’s book, The Breakdown of Nations, wherein he develops the "size theory of social misery." In words that help to explain the processes of decentralization that are transforming vertically-structured organizations into horizontal networks, Kohr tells us that "only relatively small bodies – though not the smallest, as we shall see – have stability. . ..Beyond a certain size, everything collapses or explodes." He adds that "the instability of the too large . . . is a destructive one. Instead of being stabilized by growth, its instability is emphasized by it." [Emphasis in original.] An economist of Austrian birth, and with a strong anarchist bent, Kohr was a great influence on E.F. Schumacher, best known for his book,Small Is Beautiful.
Kohr’s views confront, head-on, the alleged virtue of "bigness" in which our institutionally-directed culture has been thoroughly indoctrinated. The benefits that derive from "economies of scale;" the "bottom-line" authority of "power" to resolve difficulties; the ego-gratification that some people find in being part of a world-dominating "empire;" are just some of the attractions that seduce us into embracing the cult of size. What sound is more prevalent at sporting events than the chant "we’re number one"?
But a principle that was not sufficient to sustain the dinosaurs into the present, is being challenged in the nature of the systems by which we humans organize with one another. While giant nation-states, and sprawling multi-national corporations, express – in the minds of many – an article of faith, there is a growing sense that our vertically-structured world no longer meets our expectations for both liberty and order. Decentralized technologies are causing us to rethink and redefine what we mean by "society."
Some of the unforeseen consequences of the recent 9.0 earthquake in Japan are providing empirical support for Kohr’s warnings. There are lessons waiting to be learned from the literal "fallout" of radiation from this damaged facility.
The unexpected problems produced at this site by the quake should cause thoughtful minds to question not nuclear power per se, but the practice of centralizing the production and distribution of electrical energy. There are more considerations involved than just calculating the scale economies associated with huge power generators connected into national grids. Not only are such structures subject to the same unpredictabilities and uncertainties of other complex systems - periodic regional power blackouts will be recalled – but the same implications that attend political centralization are present. I read a wonderful quotation from Jacques Ellul – neither the origins nor the exact wording I recall – which said, in essence, "show me how electrical power is distributed in a society, and I will show you how political power is distributed." It is no idle coincidence that political authority and electrical energy are each spoken of in terms of "power."
I don’t know whether the aftermath of the nuclear-power-plant meltdown in Japan will prove harmful or neutral to those outside the immediate area. I do suspect that those in the higher echelons of the corporate-state establishment are busy formulating an "official" prognosis that will best serve its interests. If establishment interests in protecting nuclear power predominate, we will be told that there will be no adverse radiation consequences for Americans. On the other hand, if it will further promote government interests in regulating the production, transportation, and sale of foods, I can imagine our being told that such radiation poses too much danger to Americans – particularly "the children" – to allow independent farmers to avoid detailed regulation of their produce. Keeping in mind George Carlin’s comment that "I never believe anything the government tells me," each of us will bear the burden that we have heretofore ignored, namely, to bore deeply into the question "how do we know what we know?"
If, for example, electrical power is produced and generated centrally, problems that arise will have a much wider range of consequences (e.g., might affect an entire region of the country) than if it is produced locally. The same dynamics are at work in other areas of economic activity: if an individual businessman makes an error in judgment, he and those with whom he associates will suffer the loss. If a governmental agency (e.g., the Federal Reserve) makes such an error, the entire country may suffer the effects.There is a cryptic message in this disaster which, predictably, will not be addressed by institutional voices, but whose decipherment may be aided by a synthesis of Kohr’s and Ellul’s insights. At a time when the decentralization of social systems has taken on great importance, it is timely to consider the advantages that could arise from a more localized – perhaps even individualized – source of electrical power. A principal benefit arising from both a free market system and the private ownership of property – concepts that are corollary expressions of each other – is that both individual liberty and social order are maximized when decision-making authority diverges into independent persons, rather than converging into centralized elites. A major problem with institutionalized systems – particularly the state – is that the adverse consequences of their actions are multiplied, exponentially, as the range of their activities is increased.
So, too, if an individual, a neighborhood, or a small community, operating its own electric power system, makes a mistake, the consequences will be experienced more locally than when the power source is centralized. What better illustration of this than the Japanese incident: the meltdown of a nuclear-power plant could send radiation over many thousands of miles, adversely affecting people on other continents. This contrast is made even greater by the realization that only in large, centralized systems is electricity going to be produced by nuclear energy. An individual or neighborhood system is not likely to employ a power source requiring so much investment and involving such potential for external harm.
I have no particular case to make either for or against nuclear power, other than of my concern for the institutionalization of the system, and the likelihood that, as with other large corporate undertakings and their propensity for employing the coercive powers of the state, there will be a more widespread socialization of costs. It may be that the very nature of nuclear power necessitates largeness and concentration in its generation. In the same way that only powerful nation-states – and not your next-door neighbor – would desire to own nuclear weapons, there is a life-threatening quality that inheres in the marriage of power and massive size. Leopold Kohr’s admonitions must be given serious attention, as humanity continues to get crushed by the weight of institutional monoliths. Jacques Ellul gets to the essence of my objections when he sees the connection between electrical and political power.
As I watched television reports that warned of the possibilities of nuclear radiation flowing from Japan to the United States, I could not avoid the allegorical symmetry in which Japan – the victim of intentional nuclear attacks by America in 1945 – might, unintentionally, be providing a literal form of "blowback" (i.e., Newton’s Third Law of Motion) to the country whose government unleashed the atomic secrets that would have been best kept from the destructive hands of state power.
As I witness our world giving in to the "dark side" forces of our humanity, I am reminded of the film Koyaanisqatsi.Produced in 1982, the film is an unspoken collection of photographic images – many in exaggerated slow motion – and Philip Glass music. The film takes its title from a Hopi Indian word meaning "life out of balance," and provides a strong visual and emotional sense of the insanity of how we live. While watching news reports from Japan, my unconscious mind kept reminding me of the Hopi phrase that appears in this film: "a container of ashes might one day be thrown from the sky, which could burn the land and boil the oceans."
I was reminded, as well, that two of the people to whom this film was dedicated were Leopold Kohr and Jacques Ellul!
March 25, 2011
Butler Shaffer [send him e-mailteaches at the Southwestern University School of Law. He is the author of the newly-released In Restraint of Trade: The Business Campaign Against Competition, 1918–1938 and of Calculated Chaos: Institutional Threats to Peace and Human Survival. His latest book is Boundaries of Order.
Copyright © 2011 by Permission to reprint in whole or in part is gladly granted, provided full credit is given.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

"1984" WAS 'N MOOI BOG!

iPhone keeps record of everywhere you go

Privacy fears raised as researchers reveal file on iPhone that stores location coordinates and timestamps of owner's movements
iphone tracking
Apple’s iPhone saves every detail of your movements to a file on the device. Photograph: Linda Nylind for the Guardian
Security researchers have discovered that Apple's iPhone keeps track of where you go – and saves every detail of it to a secret file on the device which is then copied to the owner's computer when the two are synchronised.
The file contains the latitude and longitude of the phone's recorded coordinates along with a timestamp, meaning that anyone who stole the phone or the computer could discover details about the owner's movements using a simple program.
For some phones, there could be almost a year's worth of data stored, as the recording of data seems to have started with Apple's iOS 4 update to the phone's operating system, released in June 2010.
"Apple has made it possible for almost anybody – a jealous spouse, a private detective – with access to your phone or computer to get detailed information about where you've been," said Pete Warden, one of the researchers.
Only the iPhone records the user's location in this way, say Warden and Alasdair Allan, the data scientists who discovered the file and are presenting their findings at the Where 2.0 conference in San Francisco on Wednesday. "Alasdair has looked for similar tracking code in [Google's] Android phones and couldn't find any," said Warden. "We haven't come across any instances of other phone manufacturers doing this."
Simon Davies, director of the pressure group Privacy International, said: "This is a worrying discovery. Location is one of the most sensitive elements in anyone's life – just think where people go in the evening. The existence of that data creates a real threat to privacy. The absence of notice to users or any control option can only stem from an ignorance about privacy at the design stage."
Warden and Allan point out that the file is moved onto new devices when an old one is replaced: "Apple might have new features in mind that require a history of your location, but that's our specualtion. The fact that [the file] is transferred across [to a new iPhone or iPad] when you migrate is evidence that the data-gathering isn't accidental." But they said it does not seem to be transmitted to Apple itself.
iphone-data-mapMap shows location data collected from an iPhone that had been used in the southwest of England
Although mobile networks already record phones' locations, it is only available to the police and other recognised organisations following a court order under the Regulation of Investigatory Power Act. Standard phones do not record location data.
MPs in 2009 criticised the search engine giant Google for its "Latitude" system, which allowed people to enable their mobile to give out details of their location to trusted contacts. At the time MPs said that Latitude "could substantially endanger user privacy", but Google pointed out that users had to specifically choose to make their data available.
The iPhone system, by contrast, appears to record the data whether or not the user agrees. Apple declined to comment on why the file is created or whether it can be disabled.
Warden and Allan have set up a web page which answers questions about the file, and created a simple downloadable application to let Apple users check for themselves what location data the phone is retaining. The Guardian has confirmed that 3G-enabled devices including the iPad also retain the data and copy it to the owner's computer.
If someone were to steal an iPhone and "jailbreak" it, giving them direct access to the files it contains, they could extract the location database directly. Alternatively, anyone with direct access to a user's computer could run the application and see a visualisation of their movements. Encrypting data on the computer is one way to protect against it, though that still leaves the file on the phone.
Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at the security company Sophos, said: "If the data isn't required for anything, then it shouldn't store the location. And it doesn't need to keep an archive on your machine of where you've been." He suggested that Apple might be hoping that it would yield data for future mobile advertising targeted by location, although he added: "I tend to subscribe to cockup rather than conspiracy on things like this – I don't think Apple is really trying to monitor where users are."
iphone dataThe data inside the file containing the location and time information. This is used to plot the map above
The location file came to light when Warden and Allan were looking for a source of mobile data. "We'd been discussing doing a visualisation of mobile data, and while Alasdair was researching into what was available, he discovered this file. At first we weren't sure how much data was there, but after we dug further and visualised the extracted data, it became clear that there was a scary amount of detail on our movements," Warden said.
They have blogged about their discovery at O'Reilly's Radar site, noting that "why this data is stored and how Apple intends to use it — or not — are important questions that need to be explored."
The pair of data scientists have collaborated on a number of data visualisations, including a map of radiation levels in Japan for The Guardian. They are developing a Data Science Toolkit for dealing with location data.
Davies said that the discovery of the file indicated that Apple had failed to take users' privacy seriously.
Apple can legitimately claim that it has permission to collect the data: near the end of the 15,200-word terms and conditions for its iTunes program, used to synchronise with iPhones, iPods and iPads, is an 86-word paragraph about "location-based services".
It says that "Apple and our partners and licensees may collect, use, and share precise location data, including the real-time geographic location of your Apple computer or device. This location data is collected anonymously in a form that does not personally identify you and is used by Apple and our partners and licensees to provide and improve location-based products and services. For example, we may share geographic location with application providers when you opt in to their location services."

Privacy invasions via technology

April 2011: iPhone location
British researchers on Wednesday revealed that iPhones (and 3G-enabled iPads) keep track of where you go, including timestamps, on a file that is backed up on your computer and shifted onto any new iPhone or iPad you get. Apple hasn't said why the file is created or whether the tracking can be prevented.
October 2010: US Transportation Security Agency's X-ray scanners
The "porno scanners" (as they quickly became known) offered a clothes-free vision of people passing through the backscatter machines (whose level of X-ray exposure was also questioned). People who objected to going through those were obliged to go through remarkably intimate examinations – none of which endeared the TSA to air travellers.
April 2010: Google captures Wi-Fi data
In a series of increasingly embarrassed blogposts over the course of April, May and June, Google admitted that while its cars were driving around to capture its (already slightly controversial) Street View pictures of locations around the world, it had also captured Wi-Fi network names – and data from the open ones, potentially including passwords and usernames. The dispute over whether Google should delete the data, and whether it had broken the law in various countries, rumbled on for months.
December 2009: Eric Schmidt
In a speech, Google's then-chief executive Eric Schmidt suggested that: "If you have something that you don't want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn't be doing it in the first place. If you really need that kind of privacy, the reality is that search engines – including Google – do retain this information for some time and it's important, for example, that we are all subject in the United States to the Patriot Act and it is possible that all that information could be made available to the authorities."
His words provoked an outcry from privacy rights campaigners, who pointed out that privacy is a right, and that it protects every citizen from abuses by those in power.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011


Libya's Foreign Minister Makes A Dangerous Suggestion: Let's Have An Election

Libya's foreign minister Abdul Ati al-Obeidi made some conciliatory offers at a meeting in London, according to the Guardian.
He said Libya could hold free and fair elections, supervised by the UN, within six months. It was undecided "whether the Leader should stay and in what role, and whether he should retire." A requirement for this to happen would be the halting of airstrikes, al-Obeidi said.
While conciliatory, the offer represents a clever gambit.
Free and fair elections would result in a close race between Qaddafi and whoever else steps up, if not a blowout. Unlike in Egypt, there isn't a Mohammed El-Baradei or Naguib Sawiris or any developed opposition party ready to fill the gap.
NATO could require Qaddafi not to run, but that would be undemocratic.
Al-Obeidi twisted the knife on this controversial point: "The US, Britain and France – sometimes those countries contradict themselves. They talk about democracy but when it comes to Libya, they say he [Gaddafi] should leave. It should be up to the Libyan people. This should not be dictated from any other head of state. It is against the principle of democracy."

1 Comment

black swan on Apr 20, 6:26 AM said:
In a real democracy, like the US, there are two crooked, financial mafia-chosen candidates to vote for, and even then, the Supreme Court gets to decide which one wins. The popular vote means nothing. If Libya becomes a democracy, it will become a real democracy like the US.


In die lig van die publikasies en standpunte op hierdie boernaal (van: (we)b(j)oernaal), vra 'n leser my of ek nie weet van Afrikaners wat bereid sou wees om in die Noorde van ons kontinent 'n hou in te kry teen ons historiese, vieslike kakievyand nie.

Ek het onderneem om langs hierdie weg te verneem, wat ek dus hiermee doen.
Enigiemand wat belangstel kan per e-pos met my in verbinding tree deur na my naam as "Contributor" in die regterkantse kantlyn te gaan en dan natuurlik op "E-mail" te klik. 


My liewe Tinkeljander

Jou geheue laat jou nie in die steek nie, só staan dit letterlik in GÉNESIS 1 geskrywe:

En God het gesê: Laat Ons mense maak na ons beeld, na ons gelykenis, en laat hulle heers oor die visse van die see en die voëls van die hemel en die vee en oor die hele aarde en oor al die diere wat op die aarde kruip.
En God het die mens geskape na sy beeld; na die beeld van God het Hy hom geskape; man en vrou het Hy hulle geskape.

Teologiese gesprekke hoort egter liewer tuis op 


These humanitarians come to Libya with missiles, and an agenda

Rather than protecting Libyans Nato is prolonging the agony of civil war. David Cameron should think on Suez and retreat

To creep or not to creep, that is the question. Britain's Libyan war is entering its most dangerous phase. The great lie has once again been rumbled, that air power can deliver any sort of victory. The humanitarian imperative is in full cry, swamping the media and blinding strategy with daily tales of horror from the front. The mission, confused from the start, is moving where such missions always move, towards ever deeper engagement. Why does no one see it?
The prime minister, David Cameron, faces daily accusations of halfheartedness and desertion from his new comrades in arms, the Libyan rebels. In reply he complains of UN "restrictions" on his freedom to "take all necessary measures … to stop Gaddafi murdering people in Misrata". His minister for mission creep, Andrew Mitchell, has been in New York waving the shrouds of dead Libyans before the security council and demanding changes in the rules of engagement. The foreign secretary, William Hague, offers the rebels "non-lethal assistance", which appears to mean flak jackets and 10 training officers to offer "logistics and intelligence", but not to fight. This is war through the looking glass, glory sought from the blood of others.
There can be no argument that ghastly things are happening in the streets of Misrata, the provinces of Syria, the towns of Yemen, the hospitals of Bahrain and the streets of Baghdad. Liberal intervention has never had much truck with Kant and universalism. Bombs do not follow ethics, they follow cameras. If it bleeds it leads. Libya is today's war, and that is that.
Cameron watchers are mesmerised by how he found himself up this creek with no paddle other than the dubious Nicolas Sarkozy. The iron law of Nato, which is do nothing unless the Americans are in the lead, was clearly breached. Barack Obama could not have been clearer in not wanting a new Middle East conflict.
The PM is said to be eager to imitate Tony Blair and hang a dictator's scalp on his belt. But even Blair understood that this required a readiness to use main force, which he did in Kosovo without any nonsense about UN resolutions. Cameron helped draft UN resolution 1973 that denied him any such scope. This won him Arab support, but that has proved predictably fickle, and may turn counterproductive as the war drags on.
The resolution is rotten, based on the false premise that a no-fly zone can determine a civil war. It has forced Cameron into such semantic contortions as declaring that "to leave Gaddafi in power would be an unconscionable betrayal", while denying "regime change". He tries to kill Gaddafi by bombing his compound and asserts that "he must go", yet denies any intention to pursue "all necessary measures" to get rid of him, such as invading and occupying Libya. He cannot even arm the rebels. Did Downing Street not spot the trap, that the resolution was drafted to fail? If ever a British military adventure was "victory-lite", Libya 2011 is it.
If I were a Libyan rebel I would be furious. As a mere British citizen and taxpayer I only wonder what game is being played in north Africa in my name and with my money. How can Cameron say he is short of cash when he can blow £500,000 destroying one tank? Britain is using bombers not to support invasion but as an alternative to invasion. This strengthens sympathy for the bombed, not least because bombs constantly miss their targets. Nato, which presumably means the RAF, has already killed civilians in Sirte and blasted a rebel force it was supposedly protecting, despite denying it was acting as "a rebel air arm".
The commitment of the Arab League to the venture has predictably evaporated. An article justifying the intervention, signed last week by Cameron, Sarkozy and Obama, was conspicuously not signed by the Arab League's Amr Moussa, who backed the bombing just a month ago. Libya's neighbours, Egypt and Tunisia, have not taken part in any military operation or even lent airbases.
Al-Qaida hovers over the Maghreb, awaiting more pickings from western ineptitude. It must be overjoyed that the two powers still with a stomach for the Libyan fight are the region's past imperialists, Britain and France. The prospect of a western puppet regime in Tripoli – being planned, we assume, by the post-Chilcot Foreign Office – must answer every jihadist prayer.
Both the coalition and the Labour frontbenches are beating the drums of war. None of them reads history. Cameron's bedtime book should be the Eden-Eisenhower correspondence during Suez, when the latter pleaded for Eden to stay out of this theatre and recognise how attacking one Arab forced all others to side with him. America, said Eisenhower, would have no part in an invasion. Eden ignored him and paid the price.
Most members of Nato and the EU are absent from the Libyan imbroglio. This is not, as the western media incant, because they are wimpish, small-minded and, as the New York Times grandly puts it, parochial. It is because they are not stupid. They can see no point in repeating what happened in Belgrade in 1999 and Baghdad in 2003, when hundred of millions of dollars were spent dropping ordnance, in a destruction mendaciously said to forestall the need for ground troops.
Throughout the west there is a desire to relieve people in distress, but when humanitarians arrive with screaming missiles and a clear political agenda, those being attacked are understandably suspicious of motive. I do not believe Cameron is after Gaddafi's oil, but tell Tripoli's residents, whose sufferings were happily ignored by British governments when their leader seemed secure. The first humanitarian duty to those who are suffering should be to relieve that suffering, not to fight their civil wars, suppress their dictators, partition their countries and destroy their infrastructure. Something has polluted foreign policy.
Cameron wrote last week that he was bombing Libya to ensure that "it will be the people of Libya … who write the next chapter in their history". Why, then, is he trying to write it? For all the silly talk about level playing fields, Britain is helping to prolong the agony of another country's civil war. Cameron may get lucky and someone may shoot his fox. But at present the only way out of this mess is to withdraw and leave it to the diplomats. The toughest decision for any commander, said Wellington, is "to know when to retreat, and to dare to do it". Does Cameron dare?