Top Level Telecommunications


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GCHQGCHQ Codewords and Abbreviations

Below is a listing of nicknames, codewords and abbreviations used by the British signals intelligence agency Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) in past and present. Also included are some related codewords from the British military and other intelligence agencies.

CODEWORDS are single words which are always expressed in capital letters and are used to provide a security cover for reference to a particular protected matter. Codewords can be classified or unclassified and are taken from the United Kingdom Codeword Index, which is maintained by the Defence Crisis Management Centre (DCMC).

NICKNAMES are names made up of two words selected by the originator and used for convenience for reference to any matter where security protection is not required. Nicknames consist of two words, which are chosen at random and must be distinct and which cannot be run together into a single word. This to avoid confusion with codewords.

- Codewords and NicknamesAbbreviations and Acronyms

See also the lists of SIGINT and COMSEC Abbreviations and NSA Codewords
Please keep in mind that a listing like this will always be work in progress.

Codewords and Nicknames


5-ALIVE – Database for 5-tuple (TCP/IP) metadata

ABSOLINE EPILSON – CNE endpoint operation *
ALVIS (BID 610) – British high-level encryption machine, developed by Plessey (1960s-1980s)*
AMBASSADORS RECEPTION – A computer virus used by GCHQ’s JTRIG unit
ANGRY PIRATE – is a tool that will permanently disable a target’s account on their computer
ANTICRISIS GIRL – Initiative to monitor websites like Wikileaks *
AQUILA – STARGATE CNE architecture component *
ARCANO – Access point for a Cable & Wireless access to the Apollo South submarine internet cable *
AUTOASSOC – Query-Focused Dataset populated with iPhone metadata and identifiers *

BADASS – See Abbreviations
BEARDED PIGGY – Database used for discovering Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) *
BEGAL – Something related to smartphone tracking *
BIG BUS – STARGATE CNE architecture component *
BIGOT – List of personnel cleared for access to highly sensitive information or operations
BIRD SEED – System for capturing tweets from known malware/vulnerability researchers *
BIRDSTRIKE – JTRIG architecture for capturing tweets from a handful of twitter acounts of known malware/vulnerability researchers *
BLACKHOLE – Database or system for extracted social media messages from mobile phones *
BLUE – Complex cypher used by the Japanese government since 1930, broken in 1932
BOLSHIE POSSUM – Question-focussed dataset related to mobile phone exploitation *
BOMB BAY – Capacity to increase website hits/rankings
BOURBON – Joint NSA and GCHQ program for breaking Soviet encryption codes (1946-?)*
BRENT – Secure telephone capable of securing calls up to the level of Top Secret
BRIDE – Joint US-UK project for decrypting intercepts of messages from the KGB (US codename: VENONA) *
BROADOAK – GCHQ (telephone?) tasking database *
BROKER – Some type of target *
BULLROARER – Something used for fiber-optic cable “node balancing” *
BUMPERCAR – Operations to disrupt and deny Internet-based terror videos or other materials
BUMPERCAR+ – An automated system developed by JTRIG CITD to support JTRIG BUMPERCAR operations
BURLESQUE – Capacity to send spoofed SMS messages
BURRITO ALPHA – Computer Network Exploitation (CNE) End Point project

CADDIS – MI6 (Secret Intelligence Service) desktop interface *
CARBON ROD – Map viewer? *
CARBOY – Satellite intercept station near Bude in the UK
CATEGORY – Submarine cable(?) to which Verizon has a “non-cable access” *
CAVIAR – Encrypted teleprinter traffic from the Soviet Union (1940s) *
CHEESY NAME – Program to single out vulnarable encryption keys *
CHEYENNE MOUNTAIN – STARGATE CNE architecture component *
CHEYENNE MOUNTAIN2 – STARGATE CNE architecture component *
CIRCUIT – Internet interception monitoring center in Seeb, Oman, also known as Overseas Processing Centre 1 (OPC-1) *
CLARET – Counter-infiltration operations on Borneo, in which SIGINT played an important role (1964-’65) *
CLARINET – Fiber-optic cable intercept facility in the south of Oman *
CLEAN SWEEP – Masquerade Facebook Wall Posts for individuals or entire countries
CLOTHO2 – Component of STARGATE CNE *
COBRA MIST – Large over-the-horizon radar station at Orford Ness in Suffolk (terminated in 1973) *
COLERIDGE – Soviet military machine cypher from the “Poets” series (1940s) *
CONCRETE DONKEY – Capacity to scatter an audio message to a large number of telephones, or repeatedely bomb a target number with the same message
CONFLICT – Tunnel under Vienna dug by the SIS to wiretap Soviet telephone cables (1948-195?) *
COPPERHEAD – A Computer Network Exploitation (CNE) attack box used by MyNOC *
CORINTH – Probably GCHQ’s telephony tasking database *
CROWN PRINCE – Technique for identifying Apple UDIDs in HTTP traffic *

DACRON – Cover name for Verizon Business
DAMAGE – Operation involving 8 reconaissance flights in the Mediterranean by Comet spy planes (1974) *
DAPINO GAMMA – Hacking operation in order to acquire SIM card keys from Gemalto *
DEAF AID – Portable short-range ELINT reception and analysis kit (developed in the 1950s) *
DEFIANT – Submarine SIGINT collecting mission off the Soviet coast (1955) *
DEPTHGAUGE – Tool for mapping links between telephone switches *
DISTILLERY – Tool for real time analysis of data streams for SQUEAKY DOLPHIN
DONNINGTON – Access point for the FLAG and Apollo South submarine internet cables *
DOLVEN – Operation involving 5 reconaissance flights along the Egyptian and Syrian coast by Comet spy planes (1974) *
DREAMY SMURF – Method to stealthily activate a mobile phone that is turned of
DRUDGE – Cable & Wireless access point for a submarine internet cable (tested in 2008) *
DRUMKIT – Tool for analysing telephony data on satellite links *
DRUMROLL – Tool for viewing hits from analysing telephone numbers on satellite links by DRUMKIT *

EDGEHILL – Program similar to NSA’s BULLRUN program
ELAPSE – Submarine cable(?) to which Cable & Wireless has a “non-cable access” *
ENGULF – Operation that conducted a succesful TEMPEST attack on the Hagelin cypher machines in the Egyptian embassy in London (1956)*
EREPO – Probably a collection site where data are processed by the Traditional version of XKeyscore * or something related to Computer Network Exploitation *
ERIDANUS – STARGATE CNE architecture component *

FAINT – Cable & Wireless access point for a submarine internet cable (2008) *
FEDEX – Component of STARGATE CNE *
FIRE ANT – Open Source visualisation tool
FISH – Messages produced by the Nazi German teleprinters *
FLYING PIG – Tool for querying databases for TLS/SSL encrypted traffic
GATEWAY – Ability to artificially increase traffic to a website
GERONTIC – Cover name for Cable & Wireless, since 2012 part of Vodafone
GESTATOR – Amplification of a given message, normally video, on popular multimedia websites like Youtube
GIB(B)US – SeaMeWe-3 or TAT-14S submarine cable to which Cable & Wireless has a “non-cable access” *
GLADDY CHI – Computer Network Exploitation (CNE) End Point project *
GLADDY IOTA – Computer Network Exploitation (CNE) End Point project *
GLASSBACK – Technique of getting a targets IP address by pretending to be a spammer and ringing them; target does not need to answer
GLOBAL SURGE – Prototype network knowledge base of the NAC unit *
GOLD – Joint SIS-CIA operation to wiretap Soviet army landlines through a tunnel under Berlin (1953-1956; UK codename: STOPWATCH)
GRASP – Access point for a Cable & Wireless submarine internet cable * (since 2008) *
GREY – American diplomatic code (early 1940s) *
GUITAR – Fiber-optic cable intercept station in Seeb, Oman *

HACIENDA – JTRIG tool that performs bulk port scans (of entire countries) * *
HAPPY TRIGGER – Database for structured open source datasets for cyber defense purposes *
HEADRESS IOTA – Computer Network Exploitation (CNE) End Point project *
HEADRESS KAPPA – Computer Network Exploitation (CNE) End Point project *
HEADRESS NU – Computer Network Exploitation (CNE) End Point project *
HEADRESS OMICRON – Computer Network Exploitation (CNE) End Point project *
HANNIBAL – Secure ISDN telephone capable of protecting voice and data up to the level Top Secret
HARD ASSOC – System that creates correlations for mobile phones *
HAVLOCK – Real-time website cloning techniques allowing on-the-fly alterations
HIASCO – Access point for a British Telecom submarine internet cable *
HIDDEN SPOTLIGHT – Vulnarability database fed by the OVAL list *
HIGHLAND FLING – Operation to mine the e-mail accounts of Gemalto employees in France and Poland *
HIGHNOTE – A Computer Network Exploitation (CNE) toolsuite use by MyNOC *
HOPSCOTCH – GHCQ hacking tool or question-focussed dataset
HUSH PUPPY – Knowledge base for encrypted traffic
HUSK – Secure one-on-one web based dead-drop messaging platform

INCENSER – Joint NSA-GCHQ program for tapping an internet cable between Europe and Asia with the help of Cable & Wireless; part of the WINDSTOP program
INTERACTION – Operation of the MyNOC unit for development of in-depth knowledge of mobile gateways *
IRASCIBLE EMITT – Tool or question-focussed dataset for data from mobile network operators *
IRASCI(A)BLE HARE – Tool or question-focussed dataset related to mobile phone exploitation * *
IRASCIBLE MOOSE – Tool or question-focussed dataset for data from mobile network operators *
IRASCI(A)BLE RABBIT – Tool or question-focussed dataset related to mobile phone exploitation * *
IRIS – ? *
ISCOT – Wartime Comintern traffic in Europe *

JANET – ? *
JEDI – JTRIG terminal that enables access to the public internet from a secure GCHQ workstation

KIRKISTOWN – Submarine cable(?) to which Cable & Wireless has a “non-cable access” *
KITTIWAKE – GCHQ/DSD listening post at Stanley Fort in Hong Kong (1977-1997)
KNAPWEED – Submarine cable(?) to which Verizon has a “non-cable access” *

LATUS – Access point for the Cable & Wireless access to the Apollo North and another submarine internet cable *
LEGION JADE – See NSA Codenames
LEGION RUBY – See NSA Codenames
LEGSPIN – GHCQ hacking tool
LINNELL – Submarine cable(?) to which Cable & Wireless has a “non-cable access” *
LITTLE – Cover name for Level 3
LLANDARCYPARK – GCHQ research server
LONGFELLOW – Soviet military machine cypher from the “Poets” series (1940s) *
LORD – Tunnel under Vienna dug by the SIS to wiretap Soviet telephone cables (1948-195?) *
LOVELY HORSE – Database for unstructured open source datasets for cyber defense purposes (like twitter feeds from cyber security researchers) *

MAD – Component of STARGATE CNE *
MAGIC – Joint US-UK cryptanalysis program during World War II
MARBLE POLLS – Something related to cyber vulnarabilities *
MARVEL ICE – Component of STARGATE Computer Network Exploitation *
MASK – Comintern communications (targeted since 1929)*
MERA PEAK – Front-end tool that performs Google-like searching across repositories *
MERION ZETA – Covername for Belgacom (and/or its GRX network)
MINIATURE HERO – Active skype capability. Provision of real time call records (SkypeOut and SkypetoSkype) and bidirectional instant messaging. Also contact lists.
MIRANDA – System for managing intelligence requirements of GCHQ customers *
MONDELLO – Access point for the Solas submarine internet cable *
MONKEY PUZZLE (MP) – GCHQ’s unified targeting tool *
MOUTH – Tool for collection for downloading a user’s files from
MULLENIZE – GHCQ program for linking machines to IP addresses
MUSCULAR (JPM?) – Joint NSA-GCHQ operation to tap the cables linking Google and Yahoo data clouds to the internet * Part of WINDSTOP
MUTANT BROTH – Query-Focused Dataset that stores billions of Target Detection Identifiers (DTI), gathered by QUANTUM exploitation *

NEWTONS CRADLE – TOR nodes accessible by GCHQ
NEXUS – MI5 (Security Service) desktop interface *
NIGELLA – Cover name for a Cable & Wireless access point to the FLAG Europe Asia (FEA) submarine cable in Cornwall *
NOCTURNAL SURGE – Database for Access Control Lists (ACLs) used for finding identifiers of system administrators *
NOSEY SMURF – An ability to covertly and remotely turn on the microphone of a mobile phone
NUMDAH – Access point for a British Telecom access to the SeaMeWe-3 submarine internet cable *

ONIONBREATH – Program for detecting hidden services on the TOR network *
OPTIC NERVE – A web interface to display Yahoo webcam images *
OPULENT PUP – Covername for an A5/3 crypto algorithm attack requirement *
OVERLIT – Some type of target *
OVERTASK – British enclave within the NATO mission network ISAF SECRET
PARANOID SMURF – Self-hiding capabilities of mobile phone spyware
PAT – Operation involving series of 12 reconaissance flights along the Baltic and the Polish coast by Comet spy planes (1974) *
PFENNING ALPHA – Computer Network Exploitation (CNE) End Point project for access to the FLAG fiber-optic cable *
PHOTON TORPEDO – A technique to actively grab the IP address of MSN messenger user
PINNAGE – Cover name for Global Crossing
POKERFACE – Internet data sanitisation system *
PORUS – Kernel stealth plugin for mobile phones
POSITIVE PONY – “IP address to company and sector mapping” *
PRESCOTT – Submarine cable(?) to which there’s a “non-cable access” *
PRESTON – Some kind of access point *
PURPLE – High-level cypher machine used by Japan during World War II *

QUICK ANT – Tool for TOR data as part of the FLYING PIG program
QUICKIE – Submarine sonar system (1950s) *

RATTAN – Joint US-UK program for decrypting Soviet radio messages (1944, renamed to BOURBON)*
RED – Lower level cypher used by the Japanese navy since World War I
RED – Particular Enigma cypher used by Nazi Germany *
REMEDY – Cover name for British Telecom
ROCKEX – British high-level cypher machine (1943-1973)
ROLLING THUNDER (RT) – DDoS attack against hactivists *
ROYAL CONCIERGE – Program for monitoring hotel reservations to track diplomats
RUMOUR MILL – Data query tool?
RUSSETT – Internal GCHQ phone system? *
SANJAK – Submarine SIGINT collecting mission in the Arctic Circle (1955) *
SCAPEL – Former satellite intercept station near Nairobi in Kenya
SCEPTRE – Submarine cable(?) to which British Telecom has a “non-cable access” *
SCRAPHEAP CHALLENGE – Perfect spoofing of e-mails from Blackberry targets
SHORTSHEET – Exploitation server used in QUANTUM operations *
SILVER – SIS operation to wiretap Soviet army landlines through a tunnel under Vienna (1949-1955)
SILVER SPECTOR – Allows batch Nmap scanning over TOR
SLIDE – Some tool to exploit iPhones *
SNICK – Satellite intercept station near Seeb in Oman
SOCIAL ANTHROPOID – Database for telephony selectors *
SOCIALIST – NAC MyNOC operation to provide access to the Belgacom GRX network (2009-2011)
SOLARSHOCK116 – End point machine in Iran, found in a TAO operation *
SOUNDER – Satellite intercept station at Ayios Nikolaos on Cyprus
SOUTHWINDS – Program related to monitoring mobile phones aboard air planes
SPRING BISHOP – Database for URL’s of a targets Facebook profile *
SQUEAKY DOLPHIN – Program for real-time monitoring of online activity on social media websites
STARGATE – Computer Network Exploitation (CNE) operation *
STELLABLUE – Covert cable access or cooperating telecommunications partner *
STOPWATCH – Joint SIS-CIA operation to wiretap Soviet army landlines through a tunnel under Berlin (1953-1956; joint UK-US codename: GOLD)
STRAP – Compartments for sensitive intelligence information, with levels 1, 2 and 3
STREETCAR – Cover name for Interoute
STUNT WORM – Program for exploiting the TOR network
STURGEON – Messages produced by the T-52 Geheimschreiber cypher machine from Nazi Germany *
SUGAR – Tunnel under Vienna dug by the SIS to wiretap Soviet telephone cables (1948-195?) *
SUNBLOCK – Ability to deny functionality to send/receive e-mail or view material online
SWAMP DONKEY – A tool that will silently locate all predefined types of file and encrypt them on a targets machine
SWORDFISH – Decompression tool

TAPER – Soviet military cypher machines used at division level (1940s)*
TEMPEST – Spying on information systems through leaking emanations, including unintentional radio or electrical signals, sounds, and vibrations
TEMPORA – Computer system for filtering and searching billions of internet data, mainly from the Middle East, North Africa and Europe (operational since 2011). Similar to NSA’s XKEYSCORE system.
TERMINAL SURGE – Database for Telnet sessions collected by the NAC unit *
TERRAIN – Processing system that sessionizes data from internet links before sending it to XKEYSCORE *
THICKISH ALPHA – Some CNE-related log viewer tool *
THIEVING MAGPIE – Program to intercept communications from airplane passengers *
TIBET – Operation involving 7 reconaissance flights along the Baltic and the Polish coast by Comet spy planes (1974) *
TICKETWINDOW – System that makes Special Source collection available to 2nd Party partners *
TIDAL SURGE – Some kind of database used by the NAC unit *
TIMPANI – Fiber-optic cable intercept facility near the Strait of Hormuz in Oman *
TINT – Experimental research environment for an internet traffic filtering system * (or joint NSA/GCHQ project to develop the Deep Dive XKS capability)
TRACKER SMURF – High-precision geolocation method for mobile phones
TRANSIENT THURIBLE – An XKEYSCORE site with “Deep Dive” capability managed by GCHQ * Part of the WINDSTOP umbrella program *
TRYST – Covert listening post in the British embassy in Moscow *
TUNNY – Messages from the on-line cypher machine Lorenz SZ-40 used by the High Command of Nazi Germany
TUXEDO – RAF’s regional stockpile of nuclear weapons on Cyprus *
TWO FACE – Database with open source information related to cyber defense(?) *

UDAQ – GCHQ’s computer-to-computer (C2C) data repository
ULTRA – Compartment for Top Secret COMINT information, like decrypted high-level military Nazi messages (until 1946) *
UNDERPASS – Change outcome of online polls (previously known as NUBILO)

VENONA – Joint US-UK project for decrypting intercepts of messages from the KGB (British codename: BRIDE)
VISAGE – Probably a submarine cable access point of Cable & Wireless (2008)*
VITREOUS – Cover name for Viatel

WARPATH – Mass delivery of SMS messages to support an Information Operations campaign
WARPIG – A botnet that can be deployed against target computers *
WARRIOR PRIDE – Mobile phone spyware kits
WEALTH – Operation against hacktivism in support to law enforcement (2011) *
WHIPSAW – Redirect and exploitation server *
WOLFRAMITE – Capability against the A5/3 GSM encryption algorithm *
WYLEKEY – Operation of GCHQs MyNOC unit targeting international mobile billing clearing houses *

ZOOL – Database with open source information related to cyber defense(?) *

– See also the codenames of JTRIG tools and techniques

Abbreviations and Acronyms

ACD – ?

BADASS – BEGAL Automated Deployment And Survey System *
BJ – Blue Jacket (file cover for signals intelligence information)
BP – Bletchley Park
BSS – British Security Service (MI5)

C – Chief of the Secret Intelligence Service (SIS or MI6)
CCDF – Cryptologic Common Data Format
CCM – Combined Cipher Machine (1942-1950s)
CCNE – ?
CDO – Cyber Defence Operations (formerly NDIST)
CESD – Communications-Electronics Security Department (1965, in 1969 renamed into CESG)
CESG – Communications-Electronics Security Group
CISA – ?
CITD – Covert Internet Technical Development (JTRIG unit)
CKX – ? (team working on hacker forums?)
CMDU – Cypher Machine Development Unit
CNE – Computer Network Exploitation
CNIO – Computer Network Information Operations
CPC – (Central or Cheltenham?) Processing Centre
CSOC – Cyber Security Operations Centre
CX – Prefix for a report from the SIS

DCMC – Defence Crisis Management Centre
DCO – Direct Cable Ownership (submarine cables)
DGI – Director General of Intelligence (at the Ministry of Defence)
DIS – Defence Intelligence Staff
DMZ – Demilitarized Zone
DRIP – Data Retention and Investigatory Powers (act)
DWS – Diplomatic Wireless Service

EPR – ?

FCO – Foreign & Commonwealth Office

GC&CS – Government Code & Cypher School (predecessor of GCHQ)
GCHQ – Government Communications Headquarters
GCO – Government Communications Officer *
GTAC – GCHQ Target Analysis Center(?)
GTAC – Government Technical Assistance Center (est. 2000, later: NTAC)
GTE – Global Telecommunications Exploitation

HANDEX – Handset Exploitation
HHFP – ?
HRA – Human Rights Act
HSOC – Human Science Operations Cell

ICTR – ?
IMP – Interception Modernisation Programme
INOC – InterNet Operations Centre
IOCA – Interception of Communications Act 1985
IPP – ?
IRIS – ? *
IRU – Indefeasible Right of Use (submarine cables)
ISA – Intelligence Services Act (1994)

JARIC – Joint Air Reconnaissance Intelligence Cell
JBOS – ?
JIC – Joint Intelligence Committee
JMB – ?
JPC – (Joint) Processing Centre(?)
JPT – Joint Project Team
JSRU – Joint Speech Research Unit
JTLS – Joint Technical Language Service
JTRIG – Joint Threat Research Intelligence Group

KMSG – Key Management Strategy Group (5-Eyes)

LC – Leased Capacity (submarine cables)
LCSA – London Communications Security Agency (1953, in 1965 renamed into CESD)*
LCSB – London Communications Security Board
LPG – London Processing Group

MCE – ? (GCHQ unit)
MCT – ? (GCHQ unit)
MHE – ? (GCHQ unit)
MHET – Mobile Handset Exploitation Team (joint NSA-GCHQ unit since 2010)
MISD – ?
MoD – Ministry of Defence
MP – MONKEY PUZZLE (see codewords listing)
MP-LEG – ? (approval unit?)
MTI – Mastering the Internet
MTI – Methods to Improve (sequential 5 year SIGINT programs at GCHQ)
MVR – Massive Volume Reduction *
MyNOC – My Network Operations Centre

NAC – Network Analysis Centre
NDIST – ? (now: CDO)
NEP – NATO & Europe Policy (Ministry of Defense division)
NOC – Network Operations Centre
NRT – ? (tipping system) *
NTAC – National Technical Assistance Centre (previously: GTAC)
NTAT – Network Tradecraft Advancement Team (GCHQ unit)

OCAA – Online Covert Action Accreditation
OCE – Other Current Expenditure
OOA – ?
OPA – ?
OPC – Office of Primary Concern
OPC – Overseas Processing Centre
OPC-CNE – Office of Primary Concern-Computer Network Exploitation(?)
OPC-HQ – ?
OPDSDHQ – ? (GCHQ unit)
OSDS – ?

PCS – Personal Communication Services (mobile phone technology)
PFS – Perfect Forward Secrecy
PPF – ?
PSIS – Permanent Secretaries’ Committee on the Intelligence Services
PTC – Production Tasking Co-ordinator
PTD – Penetrate Target Defense?

QFD – Query-Focused Dataset *
QI – QUANTUM INSERT (See NSA codewords listing)

RFS – Ready For Service (submarine cables)
RIPA – Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (2000)
RPC – Regional Processing Centre (at GCHQ Bude)
RT – ROLLING THUNDER (see codewords listing)

SCDU – Services Communications Development Unit
SD – SIGINT Development
SDC – SIGINT Development Conference (annual Five Eyes event)
SEM – ?
SEP – Single End Point
SIS – Secret Intelligence Service (MI6)
SME – ?
SMI – Secure Management Infrastructure (for crypto management)
SMO – ?
SRT – Sensitive Relationship Team *
SSE – Special Source Exploitation
SSMG – ?
SSOS – ?

TDE – ?
TDI – Target Detection Identifier (such as computer cookies)
TDSD – ?
TEA – ? (GCHQ unit)
TECA – ? (unit for mobile phone exploitation)
TGA – ?
TICOM – Target Intelligence COMmittee (after World War II)
TND – (Target Number Database?)
TYPEX – British high-level cypher machine (1937-1950s)

UKUSA – UK-USA signals intelligence agreements

VX – Vauxhall Cross (SIS/MI6)

Y – Wireless interception (usually low-level)
Y Section – SIS unit undertaking interception activities
Y Service – Signals interception arms of the three armed services

Links and Sources
– NSA Observer: Things the NSA doesn’t want you to know
– The Defence Manual of Security (2001)
– Richard J. Aldrich, GCHQ, The uncensored story of Britain’s most secret intelligence agency, Harper Press, London 2010.


The NSA and its allies stole the keys to your phone’s security


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communications-the-great-sims-featuredKaspersky Lab, a Moscow-Based Security Firm Reveals What May Be The Biggest NSA “Backdoor Exploit” Ever!

AMERICAN AND BRITISH spies hacked into the internal computer network of the largest manufacturer of SIM cards in the world, stealing encryption keys used to protect the privacy of cellphone communications across the globe, according to top-secret document.

The hack was perpetrated by a joint unit consisting of operatives from the NSA and its British counterpart Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ). The breach, detailed in a secret 2010 GCHQ document, gave the surveillance agencies the ability to secretly monitor a large portion of the world’s cellular communications, including both voice and data.

The company targeted by the intelligence agencies, Gemalto, is a multinational firm incorporated in the Netherlands that makes the chips used in mobile phones and next-generation credit cards. Among its clients are AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon, Sprint and some 450 wireless network providers around the world. The company operates in 85 countries and has more than 40 manufacturing facilities. One of its three global headquarters is in Austin, Texas and it has a large factory in Pennsylvania.

In all, Gemalto produces some 2 billion SIM cards a year. Its motto is “Security to be Free.”

att_simWith these stolen encryption keys, intelligence agencies can monitor mobile communications without seeking or receiving approval from telecom companies and foreign governments.

Possessing the keys also sidesteps the need to get a warrant or a wiretap, while leaving no trace on the wireless provider’s network that the communications were intercepted. Bulk key theft additionally enables the intelligence agencies to unlock any previously encrypted communications they had already intercepted.

As part of the covert operations against Gemalto, spies from GCHQ — with support from the NSA — mined the private communications of unwitting engineers and other company employees in multiple countries.

Gemalto was totally oblivious to the penetration of its systems — and the spying on its employees. “I’m disturbed, quite concerned that this has happened,” said Paul Beverly, a Gemalto executive vice president. “The most important thing for me is to understand exactly how this was done, so we can take every measure to ensure that it doesn’t happen again, and also to make sure that there’s no impact on the telecom operators that we have served in a very trusted manner for many years. What I want to understand is what sort of ramifications it has, or could have, on any of our customers.” He added that “the most important thing for us now is to understand the degree of the breach.”


CNE Access to Core Mobile Networks

Leading privacy advocates and security experts say that the theft of encryption keys from major wireless network providers is tantamount to a thief obtaining the master ring of a building superintendent who holds the keys to every apartment. “Once you have the keys, decrypting traffic is trivial,” says Christopher Soghoian, the principal technologist for the American Civil Liberties Union. “The news of this key theft will send a shock wave through the security community.”

The massive key theft is “bad news for phone security. Really bad news.”

Beverly said that after being contacted by The Intercept, Gemalto’s internal security team began on Wednesday to investigate how their system was penetrated and could find no trace of the hacks. When asked if the NSA or GCHQ had ever requested access to CNE Access to Core Mobile Networks, Beverly said, “I am totally unaware. To the best of my knowledge, no.”

According to one secret GCHQ slide, the British intelligence agency penetrated Gemalto’s internal networks, planting malware on several computers, giving GCHQ secret access. We “believe we have their entire network,” the slide’s author boasted about the operation against Gemalto.

Additionally, the spy agency targeted unnamed cellular companies’ core networks, giving it access to “sales staff machines for customer information and network engineers machines for network maps.” GCHQ also claimed the ability to manipulate the billing servers of cell companies to “suppress” charges in an effort to conceal the spy agency’s secret actions against an individual’s phone. Most significantly, GCHQ also penetrated “authentication servers,” allowing it to decrypt data and voice communications between a targeted individual’s phone and his or her telecom provider’s network. A note accompanying the slide asserted that the spy agency was “very happy with the data so far and [was] working through the vast quantity of product.”

The Mobile Handset Exploitation Team (MHET), whose existence has never before been disclosed, was formed in April 2010 to target vulnerabilities in cellphones. One of its main missions was to covertly penetrate computer networks of corporations that manufacture SIM cards, as well as those of wireless network providers. The team included operatives from both GCHQ and the NSA.

While the FBI and other U.S. agencies can obtain court orders compelling U.S.-based telecom companies to allow them to wiretap or intercept the communications of their customers, on the international front this type of data collection is much more challenging. Unless a foreign telecom or foreign government grants access to their citizens’ data to a U.S. intelligence agency, the NSA or CIA would have to hack into the network or specifically target the user’s device for a more risky “active” form of surveillance that could be detected by sophisticated targets. Moreover, foreign intelligence agencies would not allow U.S. or U.K. spy agencies access to the mobile communications of their heads of state or other government officials, if they could help it.

Control of Cellular Core Networks

communications-the-great-simsThe U.S. and British intelligence agencies pulled off the encryption key heist in great stealth, giving them the ability to intercept and decrypt communications without alerting the wireless network provider, the foreign government or the individual user that they have been targeted. “Gaining access to a database of keys is pretty much game over for cellular encryption,” says Matthew D. Green, a cryptography specialist at the Johns Hopkins University Information Security Institute. The massive key theft is “bad news for phone security. Really bad news.”

AS CONSUMERS BEGAN to adopt cellular phones en masse in the mid-1990s, there were no effective privacy protections in place. Anyone could buy a cheap device from RadioShack capable of intercepting calls placed on mobile phones. The shift from analog to digital networks introduced basic encryption technology, though it was still crackable by tech savvy computer science graduate students, as well as the FBI and other law enforcement agencies, using readily available equipment.


The privacy of all mobile communications — voice calls, text messages and Internet access — depends on an encrypted connection between the cellphone and the wireless carrier’s network, using keys stored on the SIM, a tiny chip smaller than a postage stamp, which is inserted into the phone. All mobile communications on the phone depend on the SIM, which stores and guards the encryption keys created by companies like Gemalto.

SIM cardSIM cards can be used to store contacts, text messages, and other important data, like one’s phone number. In some countries, SIM cards are used to transfer money. As The Intercept reported last year, having the wrong SIM card can make you the target of a drone strike.

SIM cards were not invented to protect individual communications — they were designed to do something much simpler: ensure proper billing and prevent fraud, which was pervasive in the early days of cellphones. Soghoian compares the use of encryption keys on SIM cards to the way Social Security numbers are used today. “Social security numbers were designed in the 1930s to track your contributions to your government pension,” he says. “Today they are used as a quasi national identity number, which was never their intended purpose.”

Because the SIM card wasn’t created with call confidentiality in mind, the manufacturers and wireless carriers don’t make a great effort to secure their supply chain. As a result, the SIM card is an extremely vulnerable component of a mobile phone. “I doubt anyone is treating those things very carefully,” says Green. “Cell companies probably don’t treat them as essential security tokens. They probably just care that nobody is defrauding their networks.” The ACLU’s Soghoian adds, “These keys are so valuable that it makes sense for intel agencies to go after them.”

As a general rule, phone companies do not manufacture SIM cards, nor program them with secret encryption keys. It is cheaper and more efficient for them to outsource this sensitive step in the SIM card production process. They purchase them in bulk with the keys pre-loaded by other corporations. Gemalto is the largest of these SIM “personalization” companies.

CCNEAfter a SIM card is manufactured, the encryption key, known as a “Ki,” is burned directly onto the chip. A copy of the key is also given to the cellular provider, allowing its network to recognize an individual’s phone. In order for the phone to be able to connect to the wireless carrier’s network, the phone — with the help of the SIM — authenticates itself using the Ki that has been programmed onto the SIM. The phone conducts a secret “handshake” that validates that the Ki on the SIM matches the Ki held by the mobile company. Once that happens, the communications between the phone and the network are encrypted. Even if GCHQ or the NSA were to intercept the phone signals as they are transmitted through the air, the intercepted data would be a garbled mess. Decrypting it can be challenging and time-consuming. Stealing the keys, on the other hand, is beautifully simple, from the intelligence agencies’ point of view, as the pipeline for producing and distributing SIM cards was never designed to thwart mass surveillance efforts.

One of the creators of the encryption protocol that is widely used today for securing emails, Adi Shamir, famously asserted: “Cryptography is typically bypassed, not penetrated.” In other words, it is much easier (and sneakier) to open a locked door when you have the key than it is to break down the door using brute force. While the NSA and GCHQ have substantial resources dedicated to breaking encryption, it is not the only way — and certainly not always the most efficient — to get at the data they want. “NSA has more mathematicians on its payroll than any other entity in the U.S.,” says the ACLU’s Soghoian. “But the NSA’s hackers are way busier than its mathematicians.”

GCHQ and the NSA could have taken any number of routes to steal SIM encryption keys and other data. They could have physically broken into a manufacturing plant. They could have broken into a wireless carrier’s office. They could have bribed, blackmailed or coerced an employee of the manufacturer or cellphone provider. But all of that comes with substantial risk of exposure. In the case of Gemalto, hackers working for GCHQ remotely penetrated the company’s computer network in order to steal the keys in bulk as they were en route to the wireless network providers.

SIM card “personalization” companies like Gemalto ship hundreds of thousands of SIM cards at a time to mobile phone operators across the world. International shipping records obtained by The Intercept show that in 2011, Gemalto shipped 450,000 smart cards from its plant in Mexico to Germany’s Deutsche Telekom in just one shipment.

In order for the cards to work and for the phones’ communications to be secure, Gemalto also needs to provide the mobile company with a file containing the encryption keys for each of the new SIM cards. These master key files could be shipped via FedEx, DHL, UPS or another snail mail provider. More commonly, they could be sent via email or through File Transfer Protocol, FTP, a method of sending files over the Internet.

The moment the master key set is generated by Gemalto or another personalization company, but before it is sent to the wireless carrier, is the most vulnerable moment for interception. “The value of getting them at the point of manufacture is you can presumably get a lot of keys in one go, since SIM chips get made in big batches,” says Green, the cryptographer. “SIM cards get made for lots of different carriers in one facility.” In Gemalto’s case, GCHQ hit the jackpot, as the company manufactures SIMs for hundreds of wireless network providers, including all of the leading U.S.— and many of the largest European — companies.

But obtaining the encryption keys while Gemalto still held them required finding a way into the company’s internal systems.

TOP-SECRET GCHQ documents reveal that the intelligence agencies accessed the email and Facebook accounts of engineers and other employees of major telecom corporations and SIM card manufacturers in an effort to secretly obtain information that could give them access to millions of encryption keys. They did this by utilizing the NSA’s XKeyscore program, which allowed them access to private emails hosted by the SIM card and mobile companies’ servers, as well as those of major tech corporations, including Yahoo and Google.

KS1In effect, GCHQ clandestinely cyberstalked Gemalto employees, scouring their emails in an effort to find people who may have had access to the company’s core networks and Ki-generating systems. The intelligence agency’s goal was to find information that would aid in breaching Gemalto’s systems, making it possible to steal large quantities of encryption keys. The agency hoped to intercept the files containing the keys as they were transmitted between Gemalto and its wireless network provider customers.

GCHQ operatives identified key individuals and their positions within Gemalto and then dug into their emails. In one instance, GCHQ zeroed in on a Gemalto employee in Thailand who they observed sending PGP-encrypted files, noting that if GCHQ wanted to expand its Gemalto operations, “he would certainly be a good place to start.” They did not claim to have decrypted the employee’s communications, but noted that the use of PGP could mean the contents were potentially valuable.

The cyberstalking was not limited to Gemalto. GCHQ operatives wrote a script that allowed the agency to mine the private communications of employees of major telecommunications and SIM “personalization” companies for technical terms used in the assigning of secret keys to mobile phone customers. Employees for the SIM card manufacturers and wireless network providers were labeled as “known individuals and operators targeted” in a top-secret GCHQ document.

pcs-harvesting-at-scale-p2-normalAccording to that April 2010 document, “PCS Harvesting at Scale,” hackers working for GCHQ focused on “harvesting” massive amounts of individual encryption keys “in transit between mobile network operators and SIM card personalisation centres” like Gemalto. The spies “developed a methodology for intercepting these keys as they are transferred between various network operators and SIM card providers.” By that time, GCHQ had developed “an automated technique with the aim of increasing the volume of keys that can be harvested.”

The PCS Harvesting document acknowledged that, in searching for information on encryption keys, GCHQ operatives would undoubtedly vacuum up “a large number of unrelated items” from the private communications of targeted employees. “However an analyst with good knowledge of the operators involved can perform this trawl regularly and spot the transfer of large batches of keys.”

The document noted that many SIM card manufacturers transferred the encryption keys to wireless network providers “by email or FTP with simple encryption methods that can be broken … or occasionally with no encryption at all.” To get bulk access to encryption keys, all the NSA or GCHQ needed to do was intercept emails or file transfers as they were sent over the Internet — something both agencies already do millions of times per day. A footnote in the 2010 document observed that the use of “strong encryption products … is becoming increasingly common” in transferring the keys.

DAPINOIn its key harvesting “trial” operations in the first quarter of 2010, GCHQ successfully intercepted keys used by wireless network providers in Iran, Afghanistan, Yemen, India, Serbia, Iceland and Tajikistan. But, the agency noted, its automated key harvesting system failed to produce results against Pakistani networks, denoted as “priority targets” in the document, despite the fact that GCHQ had a store of Key Investment Services (KIS) from two providers in the country, Mobilink and Telenor. “It is possible that these networks now use more secure methods to transfer KIS,” the document concluded.

From December 2009 through March 2010, a month before the Mobile Handset Exploitation Team was formed, GCHQ conducted a number of trials aimed at extracting encryption keys and other personalized data for individual phones. In one two-week period, they accessed the emails of 130 people associated with wireless network providers or SIM card manufacturing and personalization. This operation produced nearly 8,000 keys matched to specific phones in 10 countries. In another two-week period, by mining just six email addresses, they produced 85,000 keys. At one point in March 2010, GCHQ intercepted nearly 100,000 keys for mobile phone users in Somalia. By June, they’d compiled 300,000. “Somali providers are not on GCHQ’s list of interest,” the document noted. “However, this was usefully shared with NSA.”

IMSIThe GCHQ documents only contain statistics for three months of encryption key theft in 2010. During this period, millions of keys were harvested. The documents stated explicitly that GCHQ had already created a constantly evolving automated process for bulk harvesting of keys. They describe active operations targeting Gemalto’s personalization centers across the globe, as well as other major SIM card manufacturers and the private communications of their employees.

The top-secret NSA document asserted that, as of 2009, the U.S. spy agency already had the capacity to process between 12 and 22 million keys per second for later use against surveillance targets. In the future, the agency predicted, it would be capable of processing more than 50 million per second. The document did not state how many keys were actually processed, just that the NSA had the technology to perform such swift, bulk operations. It is impossible to know how many keys have been stolen by the NSA and GCHQ to date, but, even using conservative math, the numbers are likely staggering.

GCHQ assigned “scores” to more than 150 individual email addresses based on how often the users mentioned certain technical terms, and then intensified the mining of those individuals’ accounts based on priority.

The highest-scoring email address was that of an employee of Chinese tech giant Huawei, which the U.S. has repeatedly accused of collaborating with Chinese intelligence. In all, GCHQ harvested the emails of employees of hardware companies that manufacture phones, such as Ericsson and Nokia; operators of mobile networks, such as MTN Irancell and Belgacom; SIM card providers, such as Bluefish and Gemalto; and employees of targeted companies who used email providers, such as Yahoo and Google. During the three-month trial, the largest number of email addresses harvested were those belonging to Huawei employees, followed by MTN Irancell. The third largest class of emails harvested in the trial were private Gmail accounts, presumably belonging to employees at targeted companies.

“People were specifically hunted and targeted by intelligence agencies, not because they did anything wrong, but because they could be used.”

The GCHQ program targeting Gemalto was called DAPINO GAMMA. In 2011, GCHQ launched operation HIGHLAND FLING to mine the email accounts of Gemalto employees in France and Poland. A top-secret document on the operation stated that one of the aims was “getting into French HQ” of Gemalto “to get in to core data repositories.” France, home to one of Gemalto’s global headquarters, is the nerve center of the company’s worldwide operations. Another goal was to intercept private communications of employees in Poland that “could lead to penetration into one or more personalisation centers” — the factories where the encryption keys are burned onto SIM cards.

As part of these operations, GCHQ operatives acquired the usernames and passwords for Facebook accounts of Gemalto targets. An internal top-secret GCHQ wiki on the program from May 2011 indicated that GCHQ was in the process of “targeting” more than a dozen Gemalto facilities across the globe, including in Germany, Mexico, Brazil, Canada, China, India, Italy, Russia, Sweden, Spain, Japan and Singapore.

The document also stated that GCHQ was preparing similar key theft operations against one of Gemalto’s competitors, Germany-based SIM card giant Giesecke & Devrient.

Obama – Hacker – Liar in Chief

US-POLITICS-OBAMA-INTELLIGENCEOn January 17, 2014, President Barack Obama gave a major address on the NSA spying scandal. “The bottom line is that people around the world, regardless of their nationality, should know that the United States is not spying on ordinary people who don’t threaten our national security and that we take their privacy concerns into account in our policies and procedures,” he said.

The monitoring of the lawful communications of employees of major international corporations shows that such statements by Obama, other U.S. officials and British leaders — that they only intercept and monitor the communications of known or suspected criminals or terrorists — were untrue. “The NSA and GCHQ view the private communications of people who work for these companies as fair game,” says the ACLU’s Soghoian. “These people were specifically hunted and targeted by intelligence agencies, not because they did anything wrong, but because they could be used as a means to an end.”

Related Stories and Analysis:

Kaspersky Lab

Kaspersky Lab Reveals Discovery of Sophisticated Nation-State Malware Platforms

Equation: The Death Star of Malware Galaxy – Kaspersky Lab

Equation Group: Questions And Answers – Kaspersky Lab

Related Leaks:


Update Feb 20th, 10:16 am: Article updated with statement from Gemalto.




Documents – The Intercept

Kaspersky Lab US | Antivirus & Internet Security Protection ..

Equation Group: The Crown Creator of Cyber-Espionage ..


Gemplus International

JTRIG Tools and Techniques – The Intercept

SIM Cards – Technology – Gemalto

SIM Toolkit – Technology – Gemalto

Taking Control of Cellular Core Networks – FTP Directory

XKeyscore: NSA tool collects ‘nearly everything a user does ..

Gemalto Hack Shows ‘We Have Their Entire Network’

SIM Heist

Dozens of surveillance programs and secret plots

IC OFF THE RECORD – Intelligence Leaks Published in 2015

Moscow-Based Security Firm Reveals What May Be The …

“One implant, codenamed UNITEDRAKE

NSA Ant Catalog – Mobile Phones

Validator – Commons Validator

NSA Codewords | cypherpunks

Top Level Telecommunications: GCHQ Codewords and …

How “omnipotent” hackers tied to NSA hid for 14 years

Privacy in a Data-Driven World


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DystopiaUniversal Identifier

At birth, your data trail began. You were given a name, your height and weight were recorded, and your Social Security number was created merely to keep track of your earnings. A few years later, you were enrolled in day care, you received your first birthday party invitation, and you were recorded in a census. Today, you have bank accounts and credit cards, and a smart phone that always knows where you are.

Perhaps you post family pictures on Facebook; tweet about politics; and reveal your changing interests, worries, and desires in thousands of Google searches. Sometimes you share data intentionally, with friends, strangers, companies, and governments. But vast amounts of information about you are collected with only perfunctory consent—or none at all. Soon, your entire genome may be sequenced and shared by researchers around the world along with your medical records, flying cameras may hover over your neighborhood, and sophisticated software may recognize your face as you enter a store or an airport.

dronesAs the Internet has developed, the concept of privacy is changing, if not eroding, quickly. In order to “exist” in the Internet, you have to share data about yourself, your friends, family and even more. Privacy, as we once knew it is gone. And in this information/surveillance world, it may turn out that George Orwell’s vision of the future was far more ideal than we ever imagined. In his dystopia, he had one Big Brother;  in our world, we have many such “Brothers” and we don’t know who most of them are.

Massive Data Collection

Massive data collection by businesses and governments calls into question traditional methods for protecting privacy, underpinned by two core principles:  notice, that there should be no data collection system whose existence is secret, and consent, that data collected for one purpose not be used for another without user permission. But notice, designated as a fundamental privacy principle in a different era, makes little sense in situations where collection consists of lots and lots of small amounts of information, whereas consent is no longer realistic, given the complexity and number of decisions that must be made.

The news that rocked much of the privacy world recently comes from a study conducted by a number of data scientists from around the world. Most of the privacy laws in the U.S. encourage anonymization as a key means of privacy protection. However, in a study appearing in this Science–part of the journal’s “Privacy in a Data-Driven World” special issue– data scientists showed they can identify a person with more than 90 percent accuracy by looking at just four purchases…. and only three purchases if the price is included. As an example, the researchers wrote about looking at data from September 23 and 24 and who went to a bakery one day and a restaurant the other. Searching through the data set, they found there could be only person who fits the bill — they called him Scott. The study states: “and we now know all of his other transactions, such as the fact that he went shopping for shoes and groceries on 23 September, and how much he spent.”

mechanical eyeThey were able to accomplish this feat even after companies ‘anonymized’ the transaction records, i.e. saying they wiped away names and other personal details. Using both the credit card and transaction information the researchers identified 90 percent of the individuals in the data set. This study blew away the notion that anonymizing data creates some semblance of privacy. Their research found that adding just a glimmer of information about a person from an outside source was enough to identify him or her in the trove of financial transactions they studied.

Correlation Attacks

This study substantiates privacy advocates concerns about “correlation Attacks.” The study points out that hacks of personal data became famous in 2014 when the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission released a data set of the times, routes, and cab fares for 173 million rides. Passenger names were not included. But armed with time-stamped photos of celebrities getting in and out of taxis—there are websites devoted to celebrity spotting—bloggers, after deciphering taxi driver medallion numbers, easily figured out which celebrities paid which fares. The MIT scientists were able to demonstrate how relatively simple it was for knowledgeable data crunchers to duplicate such personal data hacks, like the New York City Taxi hack.

Thanks to revelations about National Security Agency programs from Edward Snowden, the former NSA contractor who stole an estimated 1.7 million secret files, Congress, the courts, President Barack Obama and the public are wrestling with the question of how much information the government should be allowed to collect. How big does a pile of mundane data about ordinary citizens have to be before the people who are supposedly keeping us safe turn into an even BIGGER, Big Brother?

This and other important discussions about privacy has begun and some excellent resources are now available for people trying to get their arms around privacy’s changing looks.

The Future of Privacy – Pew Foundation

Privacy Experts’ Predictions

The Future of Privacy Forum

Protect Yourself In a Data-Driven World — Technology Safety -

What can you do? Here are some practical steps you can take: 



Is Artificial Intelligence Dangerous? That Depends…



As man-made robots get smarter, will they eventually outpace man?

Somewhere in the long list of topics that are relevant to astrobiology is the question of ‘intelligence.’ Is human-like, technological intelligence likely to be common across the universe? Are we merely an evolutionary blip, our intelligence consigning us to a dead-end in the fossil record? Or is intelligence something that the Entropy-Driven, complexity-producing, universe is inevitably going to converge on?

All good questions. An equally good question is whether we can replicate our own intelligence, or something similar, and whether or not that’s actually a good idea.

In recent months, once again, this topic has made it to the mass media. First there was Stephen Hawking, then Elon Musk, and most recently Bill Gates. All of these smart people have suggested that Artificial intelligence (AI) is something to be watched carefully, lest it develops to a point of existential threat.

Except it’s a little hard to find any details of what exactly that existential threat is perceived to be. Hawking has suggested that it might be the capacity of a strong AI to ‘evolve’ much, much faster than biological systems – ultimately gobbling up resources without a care for the likes of us. I think this is a fair conjecture. AI’s threat is not that it will be a sadistic megalomaniac (unless we deliberately, or carelessly make it that way) but that it will follow its own evolutionary imperative.

It’s tempting to suggest that a safeguard would be to build empathy into an AI.

But I think that fails in two ways. First, most humans have the capacity for empathy, yet we continue to be nasty, brutish, and brutal to ourselves and to pretty much every other living thing on the planet. The second failure point is that it’s not clear to me that true, strong, AI is something that we can engineer in a pure step-by-step way, we may need to allow it to come into being on its own.

What does that mean? Current efforts in areas such as computational ‘deep-learning‘ involve algorithms constructing their own probabilistic landscapes for sifting through vast amounts of information. The software is not necessarily hard-wired to ‘know’ the rules ahead of time, but rather to find the rules or to be amenable to being guided to the rules – for example in natural language processing. It’s incredible stuff, but it’s not clear that it is a path to AI that has equivalency to the way humans, or any sentient organisms, think. This has been hotly debated by the likes of Noam Chomsky (on the side of skepticism) and Peter Norvig (on the side of enthusiasm). At a deep level it is a face-off between science focused on underlying simplicity, and science that says nature may not swing that way at all.

aiAn alternative route to AI is one that I’ll propose here (and it’s not original). Perhaps the general conditions can be created from which intelligence can emerge. On the face of it this seems fairly ludicrous, like throwing a bunch of spare parts in a box and hoping for a new bicycle to appear. It’s certainly not a way to treat AI as a scientific study. But if intelligence is the emergent – evolutionary – property of the right sort of very, very complex systems, could it happen? Perhaps.

One engineering challenge is that it may take a system of the complexity of a human brain to sustain intelligence, but of course our brains co-evolved with our intelligence. So it’s a bit silly to imagine that you could sit down and design the perfect circumstances for a new type of intelligence to appear, because we don’t know exactly what those circumstances should be.

Except perhaps we are indeed setting up these conditions right now. Machine learning may be a just piece of the behavioral puzzle of AI, but what happens when it lives among the sprawl of the internet? The troves of big and small data, the apps, the algorithms that control data packet transport, the sensors – from GPS to thermostats and traffic monitors – the myriad pieces that talk to each other directly or indirectly.

This is an enormous construction site. Estimates suggest that in 2014 some 7.4 billion mobile devices were online. In terms of anything that can be online – the internet of ‘things’ (from toilets to factories) –  the present estimate is that there are about 15 billion active internet connections today (via a lovely service by Cisco). By 2020 there could be 50 billion.

If this were a disorganized mush of stuff, like the spare parts in a box, I think one would have little hope for anything interesting to happen. But it’s not a mush. It’s increasingly populated by algorithms whose very purpose is to find structures and correlations in this ocean – by employing tricks that are in part inspired by biological intelligence, or at least our impression of it. Code talks to code, data packets zip around seeking optimal routes, software talks to hardware, hardware talks to hardware. Superimposed on this ecosystem are human minds, human decision processes nursing and nurturing the ebb and flow of information. And increasingly, our interactions are themselves driving deep changes in the data ocean as analytics seek to ‘understand’ what we might look for next, as individuals or as a population.

Could something akin to a strong AI emerge from all of this? I don’t know, and neither does anyone else. But it is a situation that has not existed before in 4 billion years of life on this planet, which brings us back to the question of an AI threat.

man_robotIf this is how a strong AI occurs, the most immediate danger will simply be that a vast swathe of humanity now relies on the ecosystem of the internet. It’s not just how we communicate or find information, it’s how our food supplies are organized, how our pharmacists track our medicines, how our planes, trains, trucks, and cargo ships are scheduled, how our financial systems work. A strong AI emerging here could wreak havoc in the way that a small child can rearrange your sock drawer or chew on the cat’s tail.

As Hawking suggests, the ‘evolution’ of an AI could be rapid. In fact, it could emerge, evolve, and swamp the internet ecosystem in fractions of a second. That in turn raises an interesting possibility – would an emergent AI be so rapidly limited that it effectively stalls, unable to build the virtual connections and structures it needs for long term survival? While that might limit AI, it would be cold comfort for us.

Fermi ParadoxI can’t resist positing a connection to another grayish old problem – the Fermi Paradox. Perhaps the creation of AI is part of the Great Filter that kills off civilizations, but it also self-terminates, which is why even AI has apparently failed to spread across the galaxy during the past 13 billion years…





Artificial intelligence (AI)

Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence

Project Halo : History – Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence

Ai Research – Creating a new form of life

Paul Allen Hires Oren Etzioni for New Artificial Intelligence

How artificial intelligence may change our lives

Stephen Hawking warns A.I. threatens mankind

Facebook knows you better than your family

Innovators of Intelligence Look to Past –

Fearing Bombs That Can Pick Whom to Kill –

AI existential threat

A. van Boetzelaer (@ABoetzelaer) | Twitter

Let’s study AI before we ask it to cure poverty and disease: FL


Did dark matter kill the dinosaurs?



Dark matterEvery so often, the fossil record shows, ecological disasters wipe large numbers of species off the face of Earth. These mass extinctions occur roughly every 26 million to 30 million years—about the same interval at which our solar system passes through the plane of the Milky Way. Putting two and two together, some researchers have proposed that clouds of dust and gas in the galactic plane might disrupt the orbits of far-flung comets and trigger planet-smacking collisions. A new study suggests an additional culprit may lie behind those times of woe: dark matter.

Some of Earth’s past mass extinctions have been caused by the impacts of extraterrestrial objects, such as the asteroid that struck near Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula and wiped out the dinosaurs about 66 million years ago. Others have occurred during extended periods of geological disruption that include region-smothering volcanic eruptions. Both kinds of catastrophes seem to occur on a cycle of about 30 million years, notes Michael Rampino, a geoscientist, Department of Biology at New York University. “It’s always been a mystery as to how extraterrestrial impacts could cause these long-lived geological effects,” he says. But invisible dark matter, he proposes, could trigger both extraterrestrial impacts and geological upheavals in one fell swoop.

Scientists still don’t know what dark matter is, but its gravitational pull on other objects in space shows that there’s a lot of it out there. Researchers estimate that in the plane of the galaxy, each square light-year contains about one solar mass of dark matter. Like the clouds of dust and gas that astronomers can see, clouds of dark matter may be perturbing the orbits of distant comets, causing them to fall into the inner solar system where they can strike Earth.

But those clouds could directly affect Earth as well, Rampino says. As the solar system passes through this purported haze of particles clogging the galactic plane, some get trapped by Earth’s gravity, Rampino suggests. These particles orbit Earth’s core and eventually fall to the center of the planet, where they interact with normal matter or one another, releasing energy that gets transformed into heat.

Dark matterIn the time it takes for the solar system to cross the galactic plane, interactions with dark matter could raise the temperature of Earth’s core by hundreds of degrees Celsius, Rampino reported online this week in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. Then, over millions of years, that heat could be carried to Earth’s surface via massive plumes of hot buoyant rock that, in turn, create volcanic hot spots or slowly rip apart continents—possibly altering global climate or making huge swaths of the planet so inhospitable that millions of species perish.

The idea that dark matter might cause both extraterrestrial impacts and geological upheavals “is intriguing,” says Dennis V. Kent , a geophysicist at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatoryin Palisades, New York. “One of those sources of environmental disruption might be tolerable,” he notes, but together they might pack a one-two punch that is too much for many ecosystems to bear. Indeed, he adds, some rather large impacts that weren’t accompanied by widespread geological devastation—such as an object that slammed into what is now the Chesapeake Bay nearly 35 million years ago, leaving a now-buried crater—don’t seem to have caused significant ecological damage.




Rampino, Michael R. | Department of Biology | New York …

Catastrophic Events and Mass Extinctions: Impacts and Beyo

Dennis V. Kent | Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory

The Milky Way Galaxy’s Spiral Arms and Ice-Age Epochs …

Treatise on Geophysics :: Content – Elsevier

CEH: Darwin Dethroned by Geologist

Science/AAAS | News

Continental T riassic-Jurassic boundary in central Pangea:



DNA Hard Drive Could Store Data For Millions Of Years



DNAInspired by fossilized bones, researchers say they’ve found a way to preserve data in the form of DNA encased in silica. The findings, published in journal Angewandte Chemie last week, could lead to a way of preserving digital information permanently, or for a few millennia.

Compared to ancient scrolls that have survived for thousands of years, the information written on servers and hard drives will last for a surprisingly short amount of time: 50 years or so. That’s why in the last few years, researchers have been eyeing DNA, nature’s storage medium. We already know that genetic material can store large volumes of information in a compact way, but attempts thus far have been thwarted by chemical degradation and mistakes in sequencing, resulting in errors and gaps in the encoded data once its retrieved.

The latest development in long-term, error-free DNA storage comes from an ETH Zurich team led by Robert Grass. “We know that if you just store it lying around, you lose information.” They turned to fossilized bones, which have housed genetic material for hundreds of thousands of years. “Similar to these bones, we wanted to protect the information-bearing DNA with a synthetic ‘fossil’ shell,” Grass says in a news release. They reasoned that they could shelter DNA segments with glass.

The team encoded Switzerland’s Federal Charter of 1291 and The Method of Mechanical Theorems by Archimedes in DNA (that’s about 83 kilobytes of data). Then they encapsulated the information-bearing DNA in 150-nanometer-wide silica spheres.

ArchimedesTo simulate data-destroying conditions over hundreds of years, they stored the DNA sheathed in glass at 60 to 70 degrees Celsius for up to a month. Afterwards, they used a fluoride solution to separate the DNA from the silica glass, and then they read the stored data using simple DNA sequencing techniques. When they compared that DNA with those stored on filter paper and Biopolymers (polymers produced by living organisms), they found that their glass shell was especially robust. If stored at minus 18 degrees Celsius, like the temperatures found at Svalbard Global Seed Vault, the information could survive over a million years, according to their calculations.

Additionally, to help keep errors low, the team also developed an algorithm to correct mistakes in the data. They based it on a technique called Reed-Solomon Codes, which is similar to those used in long-distance transmission of data—like radio communication with a spacecraft in orbit.

mow_register_photo_galleriesIf he could, Glass would save the documents in UNESCO’s Memory of the World Programme for millions of years. And Wikipedia too: “Many entries are described in detail, others less so,” he adds. “This probably provides a good overview of what our society knows, what occupies it and to what extent.”






Robust Chemical Preservation of Digital Information on DNA

Angewandte Chemie International Edition

Chemistry and Applied Biosciences | ETH Zurich

Data-storage | ETH Zurich

Harvard cracks DNA storage

Eye Tracking Is The Next Frontier Of Human-Computer Interaction


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Eye trackingEye tracking devices sound a lot more like expensive pieces of scientific research equipment than joysticks – yet if the latest announcements about the Assassin’s Creed game are anything to go by, eye tracking will become a commonplace feature of how we interact with computers, and games.

Eye trackers provide computers with a user’s gaze position in real time by tracking the position of their pupil. The trackers can either be worn directly on the user’s face, like glasses, or placed in front of them, such as beneath a computer monitor for example.

Modern eyetracking is based on high-speed cameras and graphics processors that measure infrared light reflected from the corneas of the eyes. Although it’s invisible to the human eye, the cameras can use infrared light to generate a gray-scale image in which the pupil is easily recognizable. From the position of the pupil in the image, the eye tracker’s software can work out where the user’s gaze is directed – whether that’s on a computer screen or looking out into the world.

But what’s the use? Well, our eyes can reveal a lot about a person’s intentions, thoughts and actions, as they are good indicators of what we’re interested in. In our interactions with others we often subconsciously pick up on cues that the eyes give away. So it’s possible to gather this unconscious information and use it in order to get a better understanding of what the user is thinking, their interests and habits, or to enhance the interaction between them and the computer they’re using.

Practical uses outside the lab

There are lots of useful applications. For example, in marketing and usability studies, eye trackers are commonly used to study the impact of an advertising campaign or the design of a website. For people who cannot use their arms or are completely paralysed, eye tracking can be used to operate a computer or speech synthesiser: eye-based applications allow them to move a mouse cursor and spell out sentences using only their eyes.

Other more futuristic-sounding applications have been explored, such as appliances that listen to your commands when you look at them: imagine speaking “on” and “off” commands to your lamp, your hi-fi system or your television, which until you looked at them had been in standby. Other examples include automatic scrolling when you have reached the bottom of a screen of text, or automatic pausing of a movie if you look away.

While there are uses for eye tracking in industry and among researchers, firms are now looking seriously at how to make them useful for the general public.

Eye-tracking technology knows your subconscious pizza desires

If you prefer to order your pizza without going through all the trouble of actually speaking, Pizza Hut has just the thing for you — “the world’s first subconscious menu.” You sit down, glance through the menu, and before you say anything or even make a conscious decision, the menu has figured out which toppings you’d like on your pizza and places your order. Pizza Hut recently began testing the technology in some of its UK restaurants.

This mind-reading menu fuses a tablet computer with an eyetracker. The eyetracker measures your eye movements while you scan through 20 toppings, and decides which of the 4,896 possible combinations you want by measuring the amount of time you spend looking at each one. The tablet lets the diners know what it thinks they want – and waits for conscious approval – before sending the order to the kitchen.

Sounds great for the indecisive pizza lover. But is there anything to this “subconscious menu” besides marketing gimmicks?

The science of eye-tracking

Tobii-eye-tracking-step-by-step-web-573 Eye Tracking Technology itself is real. Louis Émile Javal first used eyetracking to study reading in the late 19th century, and cognitive psychologists today rely on eyetracking to investigate basic processes like attention, perception, memory, and decision-making.

Eye movement and patterns – are studied to understand human behavior and to assess and diagnose injuries or diseases. You can, for example, perform hearing tests on infants or identify markers of diseases such as Alzheimer’s or autism at a very early stage. The study of Microsaccades is central in neurological research.

Eyetracking is also used as a tool for understanding topics ranging from dyslexia to distracted driving while texting. Cutting-edge cognitive neuroscience research even combines eyetracking with brain imaging to study the neural systems that underlie human thought.

Eyetrackers can show where on a face someone’s attention focuses. The red areas were looked at the most.

Eyetracking was once expensive and reserved for the well-funded science lab, but in the last couple of years the technology has become widely available. Today, good eyetracking systems can be had for less than a couple of hundred dollars.

Tobii – the same firm that brought us pizza ordering by mind control – recently launched a consumer-priced remote eye tracker, the Tobii EyeX (US$139) with the aim of encouraging games developers to build eye tracking support into their products. For comparison, research lab-grade eye trackers cost around US$20,000.

Another large eye tracking company, SensoMotoric Instruments (SMI), has announced a partnership with Sony to integrate eye-tracking into games for the PlayStation 4.

Interactivity at the cutting edge

There’s a lot of potential for eye tracking in video games. For example, in the popular first-person view (“3D shooter”) style of games, eye tracking can be used to automatically pan the screen to where the player is looking, replacing a task usually performed by the mouse. The eyes can be used to target weapons, too.

One of the most interesting applications is interaction with game characters. When using eye tracking video game characters can be made to react to the player’s gaze the same way a human would. Imagine entering a shop and letting your eyes rest on a sword you find interesting: the merchant could tell you directly about this item, making the interaction more real. Or a character might get upset if, instead of looking at him while he’s talking, your eyes rest on his wife. The eyes are very powerful means of nonverbal communication. Implementing human-like reactions in virtual characters could mean a whole new level of immersion.

Beyond games, there is another range of applications where eye tracking is becoming a hot topic: smart glasses. Because of its shape, a lot of people think Google Glass also tracks the eyes, but it doesn’t. But it wouldn’t be surprising to see the next generation of smart glasses including eye tracking capabilities. This could provide further ways of interacting with the head-up display projected onto the glasses, adding automatic scrolling and navigation that leaves the wearer’s hands free instead of having to use the manual control.




What is eye tracking? – Tobii

SMI Gaze & EYE Tracking Systems – SensoMotoric …

Tobii EyeX – experience eye tracking in apps or games

Tobii X1 Light Eye Tracker

History :: Eyetracking. Eye-tracking

Assassin’s Creed Rogue and Tobii Tech eye-tracking technology

EyeTracking Inc. – the eye tracking experts

EyeTracking Blog – iPhone 6 Eye Tracking and the FOVIO …

Technology | IFLScience

Eye-Tracking Heatmaps

Microsaccades: a neurophysiological analysis – UNIC, CNR

The Eye Tribe

An Immersive Virtual Reality Therapy Application for Iraq …

Eyetracking technology knows your subconscious

Oculus Rift – Virtual Reality Headset

The Global Silent Pandemic of Neurodevelopmental Toxicity


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toxinsLeading scientists identified a dozen chemicals as being responsible for widespread behavioral and cognitive problems. But the scope of the chemical dangers in our environment is likely even greater. Why children and the poor are most susceptible to neurotoxic exposure that may be costing the U.S. billions of dollars and immeasurable peace of mind.


This recently published article is by the prestigious journal – The Lancet Neurology. The title of the article is Neurobehavioural effects of developmental toxicity. The authors are the world-famous researchers Dr Philippe Grandjean MD and Philip J Landrigan MD., from the Harvard School of Public Health.

This information is extremely important, because currently disorders of neurobehavioral development affect 10 to 15% of all births. In addition, the rates of autism spectrum disorder and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder are increasing worldwide.

The authors quickly point out that the root causes of this global pandemic of neurodevelopmental disorders is not completely understood. Certainly we know that genetic factors play a part, but genetics alone cannot explain the recent increases in prevalence that we are seeing in these disorders. The authors estimate the genetic factors account for no more than 30 to 40% of all cases of Neurodevelopmental Disorders that we see.

This quickly leads to the conclusion that environmental exposures are part of the causation and that in some cases these environmental exposures do interact with genetic predispositions.

Neurodevelopmental Disorders

In Neurobehavioural effects of developmental toxicity, Grandjean and Landrigan propose a global prevention strategy to address the impact of developmental neurotoxicants and the increasing numbers of children with developmental disabilities including autism, ADHD and intellectual disabilities. As the article points out the authors had conducted an earlier systematic review and identified five industrial chemicals as developmental neurotoxicants with six additional developmental intoxicants identified since then:
Neurodevelopmental Disabilities, including autism, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, dyslexia, and other cognitive impairments, affect millions of children worldwide, and some diagnoses seem to be increasing in frequency.
Industrial chemicals that injure the developing brain are among the known causes for this rise in prevalence. In 2006, a systematic review was conducted and identified five industrial chemicals as developmental neurotoxicants:__– lead, methylmercury, Polychlorinated biphenyls, arsenic, and toluene.
Since 2006, epidemiological studies have documented six additional developmental neurotoxicantsmanganese, fluoride, chlorpyrifos, dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT), Tetrachloroethylene, and the Polybrominated Diphenyl Ethers (PBDEs). Even more neurotoxicants remain undiscovered.

toxins ‘Silent Pandemic of Neurodevelopmental’

Silent pandemic. When public health experts use that phrase—a relative and subjective one, to be deployed with discretion—they mean for it to echo.

The authors state that “Strong evidence exists that industrial chemicals widely disseminated in the environment are important contributors to what we have called the global silent pandemic of neurodevelopmental toxicity. The developing human brain is uniquely vulnerable to toxic chemical exposures and major windows of developmental vulnerability occur in utero and during infancy and in early childhood. During these sensitive lifestages, chemicals can cause permanent brain injury at low levels of exposure that would have little or no adverse effect in the adult.”

Lost IQ

The financial consequences of lost IQ points due to toxicity, and the resulting effect on the gross domestic product of the nation.

Forty-one million IQ points. That’s what Dr. David Bellinger determined Americans have collectively forfeited as a result of exposure to lead, mercury, and Organophosphorus Pesticides. In a 2012 paper published by the National Institutes of Health, Bellinger, a professor of neurology at Harvard Medical School, compared intelligence quotients among children whose mothers had been exposed to these neurotoxins while pregnant to those who had not. Bellinger calculates a total loss of 16.9 million IQ points due to exposure to organophosphates, the most common pesticides used in agriculture alone.

The chart below from the articles shows the number of IQ points lost due to certain exposures.

Because of this correlation between loss of cognitive skills caused by environmental toxins and a subsequent reduction in a child’s academic and economic attainments, calculations can be made about the financial costs involved. For example, in the United States, the annual cost of methylmercury toxicity is estimated at roughly $5 billion. In the European Union, methylmercury exposure is estimated to cause a loss of about 600,000 IQ points every year, corresponding to an annual economic loss of close to €10 billion.


Grandjean note that “subclinical decrements in brain function”—problems with thinking that aren’t quite a diagnosis in themselves—“are even more common than these neurobehavioral development disorders.”
The rigid adherence to a non evidence based belief that autism has to be caused by genetic influences, the “it’s gotta be genetic” paradigm is almost cult like in its persistence in the face of its repeated failure, despite overwhelming funding of genetic based autism research, to find any specific genetic causes of most autism disorders.

Pesticides in Produce“So you recommend that pregnant women eat organic produce?” I asked Dr Philippe Grandjean, a Danish-born researcher who travels around the world studying delayed effects of chemical exposure on children.

“That’s what I advise people who ask me, yes. It’s the best way of preventing exposure to pesticides.” Grandjean estimates that there are about 45 organophosphate pesticides on the market, and “most have the potential to damage a developing nervous system.”

Landrigan had issued that same warning, unprompted, when I spoke to him. “I advise pregnant women to try to eat organic because it reduces their exposure by 80 or 90 percent,” he told me. “These are the chemicals I really worry about in terms of American kids, the organophosphate pesticides like chlorpyrifos.”

For decades, chlorpyrifos, marketed by Dow Chemical beginning in 1965, was the most widely used insect killer in American homes. Then, in 1995, Dow was fined $732,000 by the EPA for concealing more than 200 reports of poisoning related to chlorpyrifos. It paid the fine and, in 2000, withdrew chlorpyrifos from household products. Today, chlorpyrifos is classified as “very highly toxic” to birds and freshwater fish, and “moderately toxic” to mammals, but it is still used widely in agriculture on food and non-food crops, in greenhouses and plant nurseries, on wood products and golf courses.

These chemicals aren’t something that anyone would categorically consider safe. They are poison.

Landrigan has the credentials of some superhero vigilante Doctor America: a Harvard-educated pediatrician, a decorated retired captain of the U.S. Naval Reserve, and a leading physician-advocate for children’s health as it relates to the environment. After September 11, he made news when he testified before Congress in disagreement with the EPA’s assessment that asbestos particles stirred into clouds of debris were too small to pose any real threat. Landrigan cited research from mining townships (including Asbestos, Quebec) and argued that even the smallest airborne asbestos fibers could penetrate deeply into a child’s lungs.

Chlorpyrifos is just one of 12 toxic chemicals Landrigan and Grandjean say are having grim effects on fetal brain development.

Only now they describe twice the danger: The number of chemicals that they deemed to be developmental neurotoxins had doubled over the past seven years. Six had become 12. Their sense of urgency now approached panic.

This dozen is meant to illuminate something bigger: a broken system that allows industrial chemicals to be used without any significant testing for safety.

toxinsThe greater concern lies in what we’re exposed to and don’t yet know to be toxic. Federal health officials, prominent academics, and even many leaders in the chemical industry agree that the U.S. chemical safety testing system is in dire need of modernization. Yet parties on various sides cannot agree on the specifics of how to change the system, and two bills to modernize testing requirements are languishing in Congress. Landrigan and Grandjean’s real message is big, and it involves billion-dollar corporations and Capitol Hill, but it begins and ends with the human brain in its earliest, most vulnerable stages.

“Our very great concern,” Grandjean and Landrigan wrote,“is that children worldwide are being exposed to unrecognized toxic chemicals that are silently eroding intelligence, disrupting behaviors, truncating future achievements and damaging societies.”

To control the pandemic of developmental neurotoxicity, we propose a global prevention strategy. Untested chemicals should not be presumed to be safe to brain development, and chemicals in existing use and all new chemicals must therefore be tested for developmental neurotoxicity. To coordinate these efforts and to accelerate translation of science into prevention, we propose the urgent formation of a new international clearinghouse.

Grandjean compares the problem to climate change. “We don’t have the luxury to sit back and wait until science figures out what’s really going on, what the mechanisms are, what the doses are, and that sort of thing. We’ve seen with lead and mercury and other poisons that it takes decades. And during that time we are essentially exposing the next generation to exactly the kind of chemicals that we want to protect them from.”


We must act now and take seriously the harmful effects of neurotoxicants. We must begin to develop a rational, serious global strategy to deal with their harmful impact on generations of children to come.


Grandjean compares the problem to climate change. “We don’t have the luxury to sit back and wait until science figures out what’s really going on, what the mechanisms are, what the doses are, and that sort of thing. We’ve seen with lead and mercury and other poisons that it takes decades. And during that time we are essentially exposing the next generation to exactly the kind of chemicals that we want to protect them from.”

We must act now and take seriously the harmful effects of neurotoxicants. We must begin to develop a rational, serious global strategy to deal with their harmful impact on generations of children to come.


How Toxins Destroy Brains

About a quarter of your body’s metabolism goes toward operating and maintaining your brain. In order to process even basic information, billions of chemical signals are constantly being carried between neurons. The undertaking is so onerous that even though your brain is not moving (like, say, the powerful muscles in your legs), it uses around 10 times more calories per pound than the rest of you.

Most of that industrious brain and its 86 billion neurons were created in a matter of months. During the first few weeks of gestation, when your mother knew you only as morning sickness and you were a layer of cells huddled in one corner of her uterus, those cells lined up, formed a groove, and then closed to form a tube. One end of that tube eventually became your tiny spinal cord. The rest expanded to form the beginnings of your brain.

For a brain to develop properly, neurons must move to precise places in a precise sequence. They do so under the direction of hormones and chemical neurotransmitters like acetylcholine. The process is an intricate, fast-paced dance on a very tiny scale. Each nerve cell is about one hundredth of a millimeter wide, so it has to travel its own width 25,000 times just to move an inch—which some neurons in the cortex must. At any point, that cell can be knocked off course. Some of the neurotoxins Grandjean and Landrigan discuss have the potential to disrupt this journey, in a slight or serious fashion.

By the third trimester, the surface of the brain begins folding itself into wrinkled peaks and valleys, the gyri and sulci that make a brain look like a brain. Specific areas of that cortex learn to process specific aspects of sensation, movement, and thought, and that starts in the uterus. As Grandjean explains this process in his 2013 book Only One Chance, “Usage promotes function and structure, as the connectivity of the brain cells is shaped by responses to environmental stimuli.” That is, the fetal brain starts having experiences that form the basis for learning and memory. The nature-nurture duality begins at conception.

By age two, almost all of the billions of brain cells that you will ever have are in their places. Except in the hippocampus and one or two other tiny regions, the brain does not grow new brain cells throughout your life. When brain cells die, they are gone. So its initial months of formation, when the brain is most vulnerable, are critical. “During these sensitive life stages,” Grandjean and Landrigan write, exposure “can cause permanent brain injury.”

Federal health officials are aware of this risk. The National Institutes of Health, as Landrigan puts it, “finally woke up in the late 1990s to the fact that children are much more sensitive and vulnerable to chemicals than adults are.” Over the past decade, the federal government has invested substantially more money in looking at just how pregnant women and children have been affected by industrial chemicals. The EPA has awarded millions of dollars in related research grants, and the NIH started funding a network of what it calls Centers for Children’s Environmental Health and Disease Prevention Research. There is one at Mount Sinai and another at Harvard (the respective homes of Landrigan and Grandjean), and there are others at Columbia, UC Berkeley, and elsewhere.

Those centers have established strong research programs called prospective birth-cohort studies. Scientists enroll pregnant female subjects and carefully record objective measures of environmental exposure, using things like blood samples, urine samples, and maybe even dust and air samples from their homes. After the babies are born, the researchers follow up with them at various points in their childhoods. These studies are expensive and take a long time, but they’re incomparably good at connecting prenatal exposures with lost IQ points, shortened attention span, or emergence of ADHD.


At Columbia, for instance, the children’s center is investigating whether children exposed in the womb to BPA and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs)—byproducts from burning fossil fuels—are more likely to develop learning and behavior disorders than children not exposed. They have also shown that high prenatal exposure to air pollutants like PAHs are associated with attention problems, anxiety, and depression at ages 5 to 7 years. It was this center, together with the UC Berkeley and Mount Sinai children’s centers, that first identified the detrimental impact of chlorpyrifos on IQ and brain development. The researchers even used MRI testing to show that these chemicals appear to change children’s brain structure, causing thinning of the cortex. Other children’s centers are looking at the extent to which these and other chemicals—including arsenic from well water, brominated flame retardants, and the anti-corrosion agent manganese—are to blame for a range of possible neurologic disorders.

Impressive as all this research investment is, the larger question remains: Why are we looking at these hazards now—instead of before we introduced these chemicals into the world?

The Insidious Rise of Lead

The problem with toxic substances is that their effects can be insidious. Take the example of lead—a chemical that lingered in gasoline, house paints, and children’s toys for decades before scientists realized the true extent of the damage.

In 1921, General Motors began adding tetraethyl lead to gasoline. Lead gave gasoline a higher octane rating, which meant it could handle more compression without combusting. In practical terms, that meant more powerful engines, faster warplanes, and better industrial transport. The Ethyl Corporation that produced leaded gasoline was a joint venture between GM, Standard Oil, and DuPont. One of its executives, Frank Howard, called leaded gasoline “an apparent gift of God,” even as the plant where tetraethyl lead was synthesized became known as “the Houses of Butterflies,” because it was not uncommon for workers to experience hallucinations of insects on their skin.

Americans in the 1950s and ’60s were still widely exposed to unregulated leaded gasoline and paint, as well as piping, batteries, cosmetics, ceramics, and glass. Around that time, studies began to reveal the widespread existence of “subclinical” lead poisoning—damage that was not severe enough to meet diagnostic criteria for a neurologic disease, but would prevent the child from ever achieving optimal intellectual functioning. By 1969, microbiologist and Pulitzer-Prize-winning writer René Dubos said that the problem of lead exposure was “so well-defined, so neatly packaged, with both causes and cures known, that if we don’t eliminate this social crime, our society deserves all the disasters that have been forecast for it.”

By the mid 1970s, the average U.S. preschool child had 15 micrograms of lead per deciliter of blood. Eighty-eight percent of children had a level exceeding 10 μg/dL—which is twice what the CDC currently considers toxic. Among poor black children, the average level was markedly higher: 23 μg/dL.

Instead of making sweeping policy changes, experts largely accused low-income parents—especially mothers—of inadequate supervision and fostering pathological behaviors that led children to eat paint. With parental ineptitude to blame, and poor, minority children bearing the brunt of the problem, a systematic approach to eliminating lead was a low national priority. Bellinger recounted this in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, writing that children were essentially sentinels, used to identify the presence of lead hazards. “As long as the ranks of the lead poisoned consisted primarily of the children of politically and economically disenfranchised parents,” he wrote, “it was hard to interest politicians in the problem. Little political capital could be accumulated by tackling the problem.”

Finally in 1975, the EPA required a gradual phasing of lead out of gasoline. Two years later, the Consumer Product Safety Commission said that residential paint could contain no more than 0.06 percent lead.

Meanwhile there is still disagreement as to what constitutes a safe level of lead exposure—and if there even is such a thing. As more and more evidence came out over the years showing that low levels are in fact toxic to developing brains, the CDC incrementally lowered that threshold—from 60 micrograms per deciliter of blood in 1970 to 40 in 1971, 30 in 1975, 25 in 1985, 10 in 1991, and finally to just five in 2012.

By 2009 the average lead concentration in the blood Americans was about 1.2 μg/dL for young children—just 8 percent what it was in 1980. But Bellinger notes that even this relatively low level is still “substantially elevated from an evolutionary perspective”—many times higher than before our ancestors “began to disturb the natural distribution of lead in the earth’s crust.”

“Are the blood lead levels of contemporary humans generally below the threshold of toxicity?” Bellinger wrote. “Let us hope so, but the conclusion that they are is based more on faith than on evidence.”

The Toothless Law and the New Test

It’s surprising to learn how little evidence there is for the safety of chemicals all around us, in our walls and furniture, in our water and air. Many consumers assume there is a rigorous testing process before a new chemical is allowed to be a part of a consumer product. Or at least some process.

“We still don’t have any kind of decent law on the books that requires that chemicals be tested for safety before they come to market,” Landrigan said.

The law we do have is the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA, pronounced toss-ka among those in the know). Passed in 1976 under President Gerald Ford, it is still today the primary U.S. law regulating chemicals used in everyday products. On its face intended to protect people and the environment from dangerous chemical exposure, it is widely acknowledged to have fallen short of its magnanimous goal. It only requires testing for a small percentage of chemicals, those deemed an “unreasonable risk.”

“It’s just an obsolete, toothless, broken piece of legislation,” said Landrigan. “For example, in the early 1990s, EPA was unable to ban asbestos under TSCA.” This was after the National Toxicology Program had classified asbestos as a known cancer-causing agent, and the World Health Organization had called for a global ban. The EPA did briefly succeed in banning asbestos in the U.S. in 1989, but a court of appeals overturned the ban in 1991. Asbestos is still used in consumer products in the U.S., including building materials like shingles and pipe wrap, and auto parts like brake pads.

Landrigan also calls it “a particularly egregious lapse” that when TSCA was enacted, the 62,000 chemicals already on the market were grandfathered in, such that no toxicity testing was required of them. These chemicals were, as Landrigan puts it, “simply presumed safe” and allowed to remain in commerce until a substantial health concern came to public attention.

20,000 new chemicals have entered the market

In the nearly 40 years since the law’s passage, more than 20,000 new chemicals have entered the market. “Only five have been removed,” Landrigan says. He notes that the CDC has picked up measurable levels of hundreds of these chemicals in the blood and urine of “virtually all Americans.” Yet, unlike food and drugs, they enter commerce largely untested.


Landrigan and Grandjean’s purpose in declaring a silent pandemic was less about the 12 named substances and more about using them as cautionary tales. They named in their list a few chemicals that still appear be imminent threats.

“Fluoride is very much a two-edged sword,” Landrigan said. Flouride is widely used to prevent dental cavities and aid skeletal growth. At higher levels, though, it causes tooth and bone lesions. The epidemiologic studies cited by Grandjean and Landrigan, imply that high fluoride exposure has negative effects on brain growth.“Are the exposure levels comparable to what we have in our drinking water and toothpaste?” I asked.“No, they’re probably higher,” Landrigan said. “In some places, there are naturally high levels of fluoride in the groundwater, which picks it up because it’s water-soluble.”He’s more concerned about flame-retardants—a group of compounds known aspolybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs). These chemicals came into vogue after their predecessors, calledPCBs (polychlorinatedbiphenyl ethers), were banned in 1979. By the time it became clear thatPCBs caused cancer—and a variety of other adverse health effects on the immune, reproductive, nervous, and endocrine systems—they’d been put into hundreds of industrial and commercial uses like plastics and rubber products. So manufacturers switched toPBDEs and advertised PCB-free products, assuming—or, at least, implying—that PBDEs wouldn’t cause problems of their own.“California, at the urging of the chemical industry several years ago, put the highest standard in the world on the levels of PBDEs that needed to be included in them,” Landrigan explained. “The result is that people in California have the highest levels of brominated flame retardants in their bodies.”The state finally banned PDBEs in 2006, after studies from Columbia showed high quantities of the compound in women’s breast milk and linked it to IQ losses and shortening of attention span. Between 2008 and 2012,PDBE levels in the blood of California residents decreased by two-thirds.Landrigan and Grandjean argue that stronger chemical safety legislation could have made all of this backpedaling damage control unnecessary. They don’t expect every chemical to go through long-term, randomized control studies prior to its release. Rather, they want to see industrial chemicals screened through a simple cell-based test. If that test were to come out positive—if the cells in the petri dish showed any kind of toxic reaction—then the chemical would be tested further.A next step from there might be an animal testing model. The drawbacks there,Grandjean told me, are that “those programs are expensive, they take time, you have to kill hundreds and thousands of mice and rats.” However, he adds, “if a company has developed a very useful substance, and it turns out to be toxic to nerve cells in petri dishes, then maybe animal testing is the next step.”“I don’t think that that should necessarily be a requirement,” Grandjean said. “But I can see if a company has developed a very useful substance, and it turns out to be toxic to nerve cells in petri dishes, then maybe that is the next step.”

Landrigan and Grandjean both mentioned something they called Tox21, the Toxicology in the Twenty-First Century program program, which is laying groundwork for a new kind of accelerated, large-scale testing. “TSCA reform really falls under EPA’s jurisdiction,” Landrigan said. “At the NIH and National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, though, that’s where the latest research on this is.”

When I heard that this Tox21 program is teaching a very large yellow robot to do large-scale rapid chemical testing, I had to learn more. Dr. Linda Birnbaum is the director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and the National Toxicology Program in North Carolina’s Research Triangle. Birnbaum oversees federal funding for research to discover how the environment influences health and disease, including Tox21.

“If you want to do the full battery of current tests that we have on a chemical, you’re looking at least five years and about $5 million,” Birnbaum told me. “We’re not going to be able to do that on large numbers of chemicals.” The robot is being trained to scan thousands of chemicals at a time and recognize threats inexpensively and quickly—before people get sick. It’s also using alternative testing models—looking at not just isolated cells, but also simple organisms like the roundworm C. elegans or zebrafish—to answer certain basic questions.

The Tox21 to begin screening system at the NIH Chemical Genomics Center in Rockville, Maryland. This robot is part of a program that is refining a process to test industrial chemicals for safety quickly and efficiently. It places chemicals on plates with more than 1,500 wells that contain different types of human or rodent cells. (NIH)The program is also looking at how a single chemical might affecta wide range of people. “We’re looking at 1,000 different human genomes from nine different ethnic groups on five continents,”Birnbaum told me.Like Landrigan,Birnbaum raised the specter of the tens of thousands of chemicals grandfathered in 1976 that underwent no testing, as well as the commonly cited data that less than 20 percent of the 80,000 chemicals in commerce have had any testing at all. She spoke wistfully of the European Union’s chemical testing protocol, a modelGrandjean had told me was “very reasonable.” It’s called REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorization, and Restriction of Chemicals), and it involves a tiered approach to regulation: If a compound is produced in small amounts, only some cursory information is required. If greater amounts are produced or imported, the EU requires more in-depth testing, such as animal experiments and two-generation studies.“We’ve learned a heck of a lot in the last 30 to 40 years about the safety of chemicals and what can cause problems,” Birnbaum said, “and it would be really nice if our regulations required us to use some of the newer science to answer the questions of safety.”



Dr. Philippe Grandjean, MD, Philip J. Landrigan, MD. Neurobehavioural effects of developmental toxicity. The Lancet Neurology, Volume 13, Issue 3, Pages 330-338, March 2014. doi: 10.1016/S1474-4422(13)70278-3.


Making A Killing With Cancer


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The cancer industry is probably the most prosperous business in the United States. In 2014, there will be an estimated 1,665,540 new cancer cases diagnosed and 585,720 cancer deaths in the US. $6 billion of tax-payer funds are cycled through various federal agencies for cancer research, such as the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The NCI states that the medical costs of cancer care are $125 billion, with a projected 39 percent increase to $173 billion by 2020.
Is it any wonder that cancer society’s worldwide put a far greater financial initiative on chemotherapy and radiation research than disease prevention techniques? Preventing disease doesn’t make money, but treating disease certainly does.
This story may raise your blood pressure, along with some troubling questions about our government’s ability to manage a medical bureaucracy.

Cancer Doctor Admits Prescribing Unnecessary Chemotherapy

cancer industryImagine receiving a diagnosis of cancer and then having to go through chemotherapy or other intensive treatments. Then imagine finding out that you never had cancer in the first place and that your doctor—whom you trusted implicitly—merely used you in his scheme to fraudulently bill the federal Medicare program and private insurance companies for hundreds of millions of dollars.

That’s exactly what happened to patients of Dr. Farid Fata, a Detroit-area hematologist and oncologist. And it was not only cancer diagnoses. Some patients were told, wrongly, that they had other conditions which required expensive intravenous therapies, medications, and diagnostic testsall of which jeopardized their health and well-being.

Fata case came to light in the summer of 2013, when allegations against him came to the attention of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Michigan and the Medicare Fraud Strike Force from the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Criminal Division.

After an investigation by the FBI, Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Inspector General, and the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigations—and just before his trial was scheduled to begin—Fata admitted in court one year ago to intentionally and wrongfully diagnosing healthy people with cancer. Fata admitted to giving them chemotherapy drugs for the purpose of making a profit.

Fata also pled guilty to 13 health care fraud crimes against his patients, as well as one count of conspiracy to receive kickbacks and two counts of money laundering.

cancerWere his patients shocked? You bet they were. Who would ever suspect a Doctor of faking a diagnosis to collect money. It’s unconscionable. Yet it happens with cancer and almost every disease that medical doctors can generate income through kickbacks and commissions based on the volume of patients treated with specific pharmaceuticals. Like anything people are used as a commodity.

“Many of these unscrupulous Physicians are like businessmen without a conscience. The only difference is they have your health and trust in their hands–a very dangerous combination when money is involved,” said Dr. Sayed Mohammed, a retired Oncologist who admits seeing the trend more than a decade ago.

“I knew that it was medically unnecessary.,” Fata said on of his surprise guilty plea, which included rattling off the names of numerous drugs he prescribed for his patients over the years.

The government says Fata ran the scheme from 2009 to the present, through his medical businesses, including Michigan Hematology Oncology Centers, with offices in Clarkston, Bloomfield Hills, Lapeer, Sterling Heights, Troy and Oak Park.

According to the government, Fata had a patient load of 1,200 people and received $62 million from Medicare; he billed for more than $150 million.

Fata’s plea to the health care fraud charges, kickback conspiracy, and money laundering was the culmination of an intensive and extensive investigation. Some of the conduct he admitted to in his guilty plea included:

  • Administering unnecessary chemotherapy infusions;
  • Administering unnecessary iron infusions;
  • Administering unnecessary human growth factors;
  • Ordering unnecessary cancer tests;
  • Accepting kickbacks to refer patients for home health care services; and
  • Promoting his cancer test fraud scheme with money laundered from his infusion fraud scheme.

At his upcoming sentencing, Fata faces up to 175 years in prison on the charges he pled guilty to.

U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade said she plans to seek life in prison for Fata, calling his case is “the most egregious” health care fraud case her office has seen. She said Fata not only bilked the government — which is typical in such cases — but he also harmed patients.

Lying with Statistics

Prostate cancer is another great example which doctors falsely give prognoses about without giving patients the facts. A prostate (PSA) blood test looks for prostate-specific antigen, a protein produced by the prostate gland. High levels are supposedly associated with prostate cancer. The problem is that the association isn’t always correct, and when it is, the prostate cancer isn’t necessarily deadly.The Prostate Cancer – UCSF Medical Center confirms that only about 3 percent of all men die from prostate cancer. The PSA test usually leads to overdiagnosis — biopsies and treatment in which the side effects are impotence and incontinence.

Repeated biopsies may spread cancer cells into the track formed by the needle, or by spilling cancerous cells directly into the bloodstream or lymphatic system. More than 90% of Doctors who encourage cancer treatment for prostate cancer will generate a commission from each treatment the patient receives. It proves risky and often deadly in the long run for most people who don’t understand how to take care of their health and are persuaded by false statistics.

Dozens of excellent large studies have been done on men who have had cancer discovered in their prostate with a biopsy. In over 97% of the cases this cancer either never spreads outside of the gland to cause harm or the patient dies of something else long before any evidence of cancer spreading outside of the prostate occurs. In that 3% where cancer is aggressive and harms the patient, it has already spread beyond the limits of surgical resection long before discovery; thus, these men are not helped by surgery either.

After at least seven years of post-college graduate medical education on the emotional, mental, and physical condition of the human being, you would expect a physician to be a powerhouse of goodwill for his or her patients. Unfortunately, too many doctors fail to keep the welfare of their customers at the forefront, as their main concern. The needs to boost their own egos, self-preservation, and the quest for more money often result in inappropriate care and harm to the patient.

cancerMost women are often told that hysterectomies lead to many different cures for cancer and other ailments. This is misrepresenting the truth. The research done so far has demonstrated no improvement in survival regardless of the aggressiveness of many of these unnecessary treatments.

Breast cancer screenings also result in an increase in breast cancer mortality and fail to address prevention. Despite no evidence ever having supported any recommendations made for regular periodic screening and mammography at any age, malicious recommendations from the Society of Breast Imaging (SBI) and the American College of Radiology (ACR) on breast cancer screening are now suggesting that breast cancer screening should begin at age 40 and earlier in high-risk patients. Published in the Journal of the American College of Radiology (JACR), the recommendations released by the SBI and ACR state that the average patient should begin annual breast cancer screening at age 40. They also target women in their 30s if they are considered “high risk” as they stated.

The rate of advanced breast cancer for U.S. women 25 to 39 years old nearly doubled from 1976 to 2009, a difference too great to be a matter of chance and more about diagnoses.

A disturbing study published in the New England Journal of Medicine is bringing mainstream attention to the fact that mammography has caused far more harm than good in the millions of women who have employed it over the past 30 years as their primary strategy in the fight against breast cancer.

It always has been and always will be about the money. It is not time to recognize the trend?

Chemotherapy Does Not Heal The Body–It Slowly Destroys It

Chemotherapy boosts cancer growth and long-term mortality rates. Most chemotherapy patients either die or are plagued with illness within 10-15 years after treatment. It destroys their immune system, increases neuro-cognitive decline, disrupts endocrine functioning and causes organ and metabolic toxicities. Patients basically live in a permanent state of disease until their death. The cancer industry marginalizes safe and effective cures while promoting their patented, expensive, and toxic remedies whose risks far exceed any benefit. This is what they do best, and they do it because it makes money, plain and simple.

The reason a 5-year relative survival rate is the standard used to assess mortality rates is due to most cancer patients going downhill after this period. It’s exceptionally bad for business and the cancer industry knows it. They could never show the public the true 97 Percent statistical failure rate in treating long-term metastatic cancers. If they did publish the long-term statistics for all cancers administered cytotoxic chemotherapy, that is 10+ years and produced the objective data on rigorous evaluations including the cost-effectiveness, impact on the immune system, quality of life, morbidity and mortality, it would be very clear to the world that chemotherapy makes little to no contribution to cancer survival at all. No such study has ever been conducted by independent investigators in the history of chemotherapy. The only studies available come from industry funded institutions and scientists and none of them have ever inclusively quantified the above variables.

Why? Money, greed and profits run the cancer industry–nothing else. The cancer establishment must retreat from the truth to treat cancer because there will never be any profit for them in in eradicating the disease. There is no governing body in the world that protects consumers from being subjected to these toxic therapies or even known carcinogens in our foods our environment, because that too, will prevent the profits from rolling in. It’s a business of mammoth proportions and must be treated as such.

CancerFuckChemoTryCannabinoidsThe most powerful anti-carcinogenic plants in the world such as cannabis must be demonized and be made illegal because they are so effective at killing cancer cells without side effects. Cannabinoids are so efficient at treating disease, that the U.S. Government patented them in 2003. (U.S. Patent 6630507)

If a “magic bullet” were used FIRST by orthodox medicine, meaning the cut/burn/slash/poison treatments were avoided, a 90% true cure rate would be easy to achieve. But the fact is that the leaders in the medical community have absolutely no interest in finding a “magic bullet.” A “magic bullet” would cost the drug companies hundreds of billions of dollars, and patients would have less hospitalization and less doctor visits, etc.

You might ask your oncologist why your chances of survival are only 3% (ignoring all of their statistical gibberish such as “5-year survival rates” and deceptive terms like “remission” and “response”), when your chance of survival would be over greatly improved if they used something like DMSO Potentiation Therapy (DPT).

Dr. Farid Fata is only a consequence of the system. Like him there are thousands of legally practicing Doctors and oncologists in the United States and abroad who are guilty of the same crimes, but because they fly below the radar, they are never caught.

Chemotherapy Does NOT Work 97% of The Time and Kills 97% of The Time

In the Cancer Journal for the Clinician:

“Pending the publication of suitable trials, clinicians must be guided by existing data in the context of a fundamental principle of medicine, “Primum non nocere.” (First do no harm). ”

And yet, conventional cancer treatments can in no way, shape or form ever be considered harmless.

“…as a chemist trained to interpret data, it is incomprehensible to me that physicians can ignore the clear evidence that chemotherapy does much, much more harm than good.” Alan C. Nixon, PhD, former president of the American Chemical Society.

As we continue playing this charade of making the public believe that poisons treat cancer, people will continue to die, and Doctors will continue to make money up to the day of their patient’s death. Every once in a while, we may catch a few (of the many) like Dr. Fata, who self-destruct due to their own greed. We will claim they are outlaws, banish them and tarnish their reputations based on a perception that a healthy person should never be unnecessarily subjected to chemotherapy for money. So we can harshly judge and legally prosecute the Doctor who falsely prescribes poison to a healthy person for money, but we proudly accept the Doctor who prescribes poison to an unhealthy person for money. I find that truly mind blowing.




FBI — Egregious Case of Health Care Fraud

Michigan cancer doctor Farid Fata pleads guilty to 16 counts ..

U.S. v. Dr. Farid Fata Court Docket 13-CR-20600

(For a Copy of the Victims Impact Statement, Please Click here.)

(For a Copy of the Order, Please Click Here)

(For a copy of the order denying defendant’s motion for change of venue, please CLICK HERE.)

(For a copy of the Court of Appeals order, click here)

Whistleblower Discloses Doctor Accused of Medicare …

Why is the success rate of chemotherapy very low? And is it …

The Cancer Industry is Too Prosperous to Allow a Cure

Putting Sick Care Propaganda Into Perspective — Art Of …

Ex-Amgen drug researcher calls out questionable cancer …

A 95.5 Billion Dollar Industry …

Making a Profit from Offering Ineffective Therapies to Cancer ..

Scholarly articles for Doctors fraudulently diagnosing healthy patients with cancer

Cancer: A $124.6 Billion Dollar Industry

Why Medicine Won’t Allow Cancer to Be Cured | True Activist

The truth about chemotherapy and the cancer industry …

Scholarly articles for DMSO Potentiation Therapy

97 Percent of The Time, Chemotherapy Does Not Work And …

Yet another cancer doctor admits fabricating false positives …

The politics of cancer

Dr. Alan C. Nixon |

Cancer Business & the Profit-Oriented Cancer …


Medicare Fraud: A $60 Billion Crime

Is There Really a Conspiracy to Suppress Cancer Cures?

Prevent – Aiming Towards Better Health


Congress Raids Ancestral Native American Lands With Defense Bill


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rio tinto

The Apache Leap area

The U.S. Senate passed a measure authorizing the nation’s defense programs and along with it managed to give lands sacred to Native Americans to a foreign company that owns a uranium mine with Iran.

The $585 billion National Defense Authorization Act of 2015 is one of the must-pass pieces of legislation that Congress moves every year. But like they did in attaching extraneous riders to the must-pass government funding bill, lawmakers used the defense bill as a vehicle to pass a massive public lands package.

Mining a massive copper deposit

Through the Southeast Arizona Land Exchange and Conservation Act, the exchange transfers 2,400 acres of Sacred Apache land in the Tonto National Forest into Resolution Copper’s “ownership.” Simultaneously, this Australian-English mining firm, Rio Tinto, transfers about 5,300 acres of “privately-held land to the government.”

The Iran connection comes from a uranium mine in Namibia, in which Tehran has owned a 15 percent stake since the days of the shah.

Rio Tinto, which removed Iran’s two members of the mine board in 2012, has argued that Iran gets no benefit from the property, that there is no active partnership, and that it has discussed the issue with the U.S. State Department to “ensure that no sanctions against Iran are violated.”

A State Department spokesperson confirmed that officials had discussed the site, but declined to say that they could assure there were no violations of sanctions.

“We are aware of the mine in question and have discussed relevant compliance issues with the company,” the spokesperson said.

The official also declined to say if, as might be expected, Iran would be able to benefit from the mine if Secretary of State John Kerry is successful in negotiations to limit the regime’s nuclear aspirations, and sanctions are lifted. “We are not going to speculate on any hypotheticals,” the official said. A Rio Tinto official also declined to speculate, but noted that under the current sanctions and Namibian law, it’s impossible to buy out Iran’s share or sever the tie.

Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) mounted a bid to strip the entire lands package from the bill, but secured only 18 votes in his favor.

It’s not only people concerned about any benefit Iran might get who were worried about giving American forest land to a foreign firm that has such a connection.

Apache Grounds Seized by Congress

Apache Grounds Seized by CongressNative Americans, particularly the Apache tribe in the area, say digging a massive mine under their ancestral lands will destroy sacred ceremonial and burial grounds.

Rio Tinto says it will work closely with the tribes to “ensure their concerns are heard,” and will work with the U.S. Forest Service to protect the environment.

The measure was added into the NDAA largely thanks to the efforts of Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who, along with fellow Arizona Republican Sen. Jeff Flake, sees the project as an “economic boon” that will create supposedly 3,700 jobs over several decades. The question is, who will be getting those jobs?

Flake acknowledged that the deal never would have passed on its own, even as he “lamented the process that got it through the Senate.”

“It’s never good to see big packages with so many things in them — that’s what we want to get away from,” Flake said. “But it’s been very difficult to move individual pieces of legislation over the last few years.”

In this case, the addition of the Arizona swap and the other land measures were never discussed in public, and were added during secret negotiations between the House and Senate Armed Services Committee. The deal was never publicly revealed until the House started work on passing the entire defense bill last Dec.

Why is this important?

Federal land should not be given away — especially land that was preserved on behalf of Native Americans who maintain burial and ceremonial grounds in the area. The land in question also contains a site known as the Apache Leap, where trapped Apaches once jumped to their deaths rather than being killed or captured in an attack by settlers. Additionally Rio Tinto as a holder of hard-rock mining rights pay no royalties to the federal government, as they do with oil leases. And if the bulk of the copper winds up being shipped to China, the world’s top consumer of the metal there would be very little benefit to American taxpayers.

obama signing RioTintoRio Tinto, though subsidiary Resolution Copper, will take possession of the land a year later. Although the land will then be private property and federal environmental reviews will no longer be enforceable, the company said in a statement after the measure passed that it would abide by such reviews. It also pledged to be “a good neighbor:”

Resolution Copper Mining is pleased that the Southeast Arizona Land Exchange and Conservation Act passed the House of Representatives and the Senate with strong bipartisan support. Passage of the legislation means that Resolution Copper can move forward with the development of this world-class ore body which will create “approximately” 3,700 jobs, generate over $60 billion in economic impact and result in almost $20 billion in state and federal tax payments,” said project director Andrew Taplin. (See the actual details below in the “Related” section below).

“There is much more work to be done before commercial mining can begin and Resolution Copper looks forward to working with all stakeholders as we continue to progress through the regulatory review process toward responsible development and operation of a world-class copper mine that will safely produce over 25 percent of the current annual demand for copper in the United States.”

Signed into law by Obama, Resolution Copper land swap  will focus on the comprehensive environmental and regulatory review under National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), where there will be “broad public consultation” (NOT!), government-to-government consultation with Arizona Native American tribes and a comprehensive valuation appraisal of the copper deposit as required by Congress.

Resolution Copper plans to work to expand existing partnerships and create new ones with neighboring communities and Native American Tribes. The company will “endeavor” to hire locally and regionally “whenever possible.

The heart of the legislation is the exchange of 2,400 acres of federally owned land above the copper deposit for 5,300 acres of land owned by Resolution Copper composed of valuable recreational, conservation and culturally significant land throughout Arizona.




Public review. What “Public Review?

According to text of the Southeast Arizona Land Exchange and Conservation Act:

Before consummating the land exchange under this Act, the Secretary shall make the appraisals of the land to be exchanged (or a summary thereof) available for public review. (In fact, this has NOT been made public “BEFORE” consummating the land exchange under this Act).

Who gets what?

Equal value land exchange

The value of the Federal land and non-Federal land to be exchanged under this Act shall be equal or shall be equalized in accordance with this subsection.

Surplus of Federal land value

If the final appraised value of the Federal land exceeds the value of the non-Federal land, Resolution Copper shall—

convey additional non-Federal land in the State to the Secretary or the Secretary of the Interior, consistent with the requirements of this Act and subject to the approval of the applicable Secretary;

make a cash payment to the United States; or use a combination of the methods described in clauses (i) and (ii), as agreed to by Resolution Copper, the Secretary, and the Secretary of the Interior.

Amount of payment

(B) The Secretary may accept a payment in excess of 25 percent of the total value of the land or interests conveyed, notwithstanding section 206(b) of the Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976 (43 U.S.C. 1716(b) ).

Disposition and use of proceeds
(C) Any amounts received by the United States under this subparagraph shall be deposited in the fund established under Public Law 90–171 (commonly known as the Sisk Act ; 16 U.S.C. 484a ) and shall be made available, in such amounts as are provided in advance in appropriation Acts, to the Secretary for the acquisition of land for addition to the National Forest System.

Surplus of non-Federal land

If the final appraised value of the non-Federal land exceeds the value of the Federal land—

(A) the United States shall not make a payment to Resolution Copper to equalize the value; and
(B) the surplus value of the non-Federal land shall be considered to be a “donation” by Resolution Copper to the United States.
(Did you catch that? Here are the specifics:
If the value of the federal lands are determined to be higher than the Resolution Copper lands, the company will make up the difference, “either through a payment to the United States Treasury or donation of additional lands” subject to the approval of the Secretary of Agriculture or Secretary of Interior as appropriate.)

Conveyance and management of non-Federal land

On receipt of title to the Federal land, Resolution Copper shall simultaneously convey—

to the Secretary, all right, title, and interest that the Secretary determines to be acceptable

In addition - the approximately 3,050 acres of land located in Pinal County, Arizona, identified as Lands to DOI as generally depicted on the map entitled Southeast Arizona Land Exchange and Conservation Act of 2013–Non-Federal Parcel–Lower San Pedro River.

State Law Unaffected

Nothing in this section modifies, expands, diminishes, amends, or otherwise affects any State law relating to the imposition, application, timing, or collection of a
State excise or severance tax.
Use of Funds
(1) Separate fund.–All funds paid to the United States under this section shall be deposited in a special fund established in the Treasury and shall be available, in such amounts as are provided in advance in appropriation Acts, to the Secretary and the Secretary of the Interior only for the purposes authorized by paragraph 2.
(2) Authorized useAmounts in the special fund established pursuant to paragraph (1) shall be used for maintenance, repair, and rehabilitation projects for Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management assets.

Boundary revision

On the acquisition of land by the Secretary under this Act, “the boundaries of the national forest shall be modified” to reflect the inclusion of the acquired land.

Rights of Resolution Copper

Nothing in this Act shall interfere with, limit, or otherwise impair, the unpatented mining claims or rights currently held by Resolution Copper on the Federal land, nor in any way change, diminish, qualify, or otherwise impact Resolution Copper’s rights and ability to conduct activities on the Federal land under such unpatented mining claims and the general mining laws of the United States, including the permitting or authorization of such activities.

Miscellaneous provisions

Revocation of orders

Any public land order that withdraws the Federal land from appropriation or disposal under a public land law shall be revoked to the extent necessary to permit “disposal of the land.”


On the date of enactment of this Act, if the Federal land or any Federal interest in the non-Federal land to be exchanged under section 4 is not withdrawn or segregated from entry and appropriation under a public land law (including mining and mineral leasing laws and the Geothermal Steam Act of 1970 (30 U.S.C. 1001 et seq.)), the land or interest shall be withdrawn, without further action required by the Secretary concerned, from entry and appropriation.



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