I Spy QWERTY, Big Oil’s Super Bowl Blitz & A Sucker Deal: Jan. 30, 2015

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New Cyber-Spying Discovery Points to NSA and the “Five Eyes” by Curt Hopkins
There’s a tantalizing new clue that the U.S. and its “Five Eyes” allies built a sophisticated cyber-espionage system used to hack enemies and allies alike. The discovery comes from a harmless-sounding program called QWERTY, found in NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden’s files.  

WHO

Conservative Scold Ken Starr Got a Billionaire Pedophile Off
The Daily Beast examines the role played by former independent counsel and Clinton nemesis Judge Kenneth Starr in the defense of billionaire pederast Jeffrey Epstein. Starr, a “legendary moral ninny,” helped Epstein’s legal team “negotiate a sweetheart plea deal” on charges he violated “scores of underage girls for years.” Here’s the punchline: Epstein is a long-time benefactor of Bill Clinton, whose name turns up in the flight logs from Epstein’s private jet. Lawyer Alan Dershowitz, who’s fighting his own battle against sex crime allegations, also flew aboard the Lolita Express. He said he hired Starr in part because he “had experience in investigating sex investigations.”

Oil Lobby Launches Super Bowl Ad Blitz
Are you ready for some football?! How about some oil industry lobbying? The American Petroleum Institute, the oil and gas industry’s trade association, will be “dropping $100,000 for a 30-second D.C. spot during halftime.” That’s API’s biggest ad buy in a while. It’s also been peppering the D.C. market with pro-pipeline ads “touting Keystone’s bipartisan support and potential for job growth.” The Super Bowl ad is a rah-rah, sis-boom-bah cheer for fracking. We’re Number One! We’re Number One!

WHAT

New Scorecard Data Shows Economic Recovery Bypassing Million of American Households
On the eve of disappointing GDP numbers, the Corporation for Enterprise Development issued a new scorecard showing that “millions of Americans are seeing little evidence of economic recovery.” Among the indicators:

  • A majority of households have sub-prime credit scores
  • Nearly half of all households use all of their income, go into debt or dip into savings to meet annual expenses
  • Median housing prices were about three times higher than median incomes

Exporting Financial Instability
The American Prospect looks at the Trans Pacific Partnership trade deal being negotiated by the White House—mostly beyond public scrutiny. In the State of the Union, President Obama asked Congress to grant him authority to close the deal. His administration says it will create 650,000 new U.S. jobs, a claim The Washington Postgave “Four Pinocchios.” The Prospect sees the deal as an opportunity for big banks and financial players to wreak the sort of havoc on emerging economies that they have on America. (We came to a similar conclusion about an equally secretive but much bigger U.S.-EU trade deal now being negotiated.)

WHY

Study: Most People Think Scientists Are Full Of It
The “anti-science” streak in American politics and culture isn’t just about a religious objection to evolution. A new Pew Research poll shows that the public vastly disagrees with the scientific consensus on these three statements: Genetically modified foods and pesticides are safe to eat, humans caused climate change, and animal research is necessary. And the gaps are staggering. What’s even more fascinating? The numbers show that throwing scientific consensus out the window is a bipartisan affair when it comes to pet issues.

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