'A' for Angela: GCHQ and NSA Targeted Private German Companies and Merkel
By Laura Poitras, Marcel Rosenbach and Holger Stark
Merkel was an NSA target. But so too were private companies in Germany. DPA
Merkel was an NSA target. But so too were private companies in Germany.
Documents show that Britain's GCHQ intelligence service infiltrated German Internet firms and America's NSA obtained a court order to spy on Germany and collected information about the chancellor in a special database. Is it time for the country to open a formal espionage investigation?
The headquarters of Stellar, a company based in the town of Hürth near Cologne, are visible from a distance. Seventy-five white antennas dominate the landscape. The biggest are 16 meters (52 feet) tall and kept in place by steel anchors. It is an impressive sight and serves as a popular backdrop for scenes in TV shows, including the German action series "Cobra 11."
Stellar operates a satellite ground station in Hürth, a so-called "teleport." Its services are used by companies and institutions; Stellar's customers include Internet providers, telecommunications companies and even a few governments. "The world is our market," is the high-tech company's slogan.
Using their ground stations and leased capacities from satellites, firms like Stellar -- or competitors like Cetel in the nearby village of Ruppichteroth or IABG, which is headquartered in Ottobrunn near Munich -- can provide Internet and telephone services in even the most remote areas. They provide communications links to places like oil drilling platforms, diamond mines, refugee camps and foreign outposts of multinational corporations and international organizations.
Super high-speed Internet connections are required at the ground stations in Germany in order to ensure the highest levels of service possible. Most are connected to major European Internet backbones that offer particularly high bandwidth.
Probing German Internet Traffic
The service they offer isn't just attractive to customers who want to improve their connectivity. It is also of interest to Britain's GCHQ intelligence service, which has targeted the German companies. Top secret documents from the archive of NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden viewed by SPIEGEL show that the British spies surveilled employees of several German companies, and have also infiltrated their networks. One top-secret GCHQ paper claims the agency sought "development of in-depth knowledge of key satellite IP service providers in Germany."
Stop the 'barbaric slaughter' of British songbirds in Cyprus
By Nick Meo and Nick Craven
24 March 2014
Prince Charles has demanded urgent action to stop the annual ‘barbaric slaughter’ of half a million migrating songbirds at a British Army base in Cyprus.
The creatures, familiar to millions of British gardens, often suffer for hours after being illegally snared in nets or on glue-coated sticks, before being killed and served up as a delicacy in Greek restaurants for £65 a plate.
In a private letter seen by The Mail on Sunday, the Prince has taken the highly unusual step of writing to the most senior Army commander in Cyprus, as well as to the island’s president, condemning the ‘industrial scale killing’. Charles claims that it is big business, run by ‘serious organised criminals’.
The killing fields are centred on the British Sovereign Base Area (SBA) of Dhekelia, on Cyprus’s southern coast, close to the tourist hot-spot of Ayia Napa. British soldiers train on firing ranges there before serving in Afghanistan.
Trappers place their lures at night. Early the next morning, they return for their grisly harvest, ripping the terrified birds from the fine-mesh ‘mist’ nets or glue-covered branches, often leaving the entangled feet behind, then killing them with a cocktail stick or a penknife to the throat. Many will be used in the dish Ambelopoulia, in which the boiled or fried birds are eaten whole, save for the beak. Cypriots regards the meal as ‘natural viagra’.
Trapping takes place during the autumn and spring migrations, and the illicit and sickening trade is worth £12 million a year. In his letter, Prince Charles writes: ‘Disturbingly, autumn mist-netting levels are now much higher on this British soil than in the Republic of Cyprus, with mist netting in the SBAs estimated to have increased 180 per cent since 2002.’
The trapping, made illegal in 1974, is sophisticated and large-scale. On land within the 50 square mile Dhekelia enclave, tenant farmers have planted acre upon acre of non-native acacia bushes to attract the passing birds as they look for insects.
Birds like this Golden Oriole and many others familiar to millions of British gardens, often suffer for hours after being illegally snared in nets or on glue-coated sticks, before being killed and served up as a delicacy in Greek restaurants for £65 a plate
Europe's economic crisis is getting worse not better, says Caritas report
by Helena Smith
Thursday, 27 March 2014
The Caritas report says that as a result of economic measures Greece's political scene has become increasingly toxic.
Photograph: Nicolas Koutsokostas/ Nicolas Koutsokostas/Demotix/Corbis
Far from being over Europe's economic crisis is getting worse with disturbing levels of poverty and deprivation being noted among children and youth, says a report compiled by the Catholic charity Caritas.
The survey, conducted over the course of the past year, not only challenges the official discourse – that Europe is on the mend – but documents a dramatic rise of a class of new poor in the seven EU countries worst hit by the policies of austerity.
"We in Brussels keep hearing that the economic crisis is over," Thorfinnur Omarsson, a spokesman for Caritas Europa said in Athens where the network of Catholic relief organisations released the report. "These findings not only doubt that the crisis is over but show it is the poor who are paying for a crisis they did not cause."
The 114-page inquiry into the human cost of the crisis focuses on Greece, Cyprus, Ireland, Italy, Portugal, Romania and Spain. In all of these countries, it claims, there is deepening inequality with growing numbers suffering from poverty and social exclusion. In Ireland – depicted as the poster child for austerity – income inequality soared between 2009 and 2010 with the top 20% earning five times more than the bottom 20%
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