Archive for February, 2012

Attorney General reviewing NYPD spying complaints


WASHINGTON — Months after receiving complaints about the New York Police Department’s surveillance of entire American Muslim neighborhoods, the Justice Department is just beginning a review to decide whether to investigate civil rights violations.

Attorney General Eric Holder told Congress the status of the review Tuesday.

The announcement bothered some Democrats, who said they were under the impression the Justice Department had been reviewing the matter since last late last year.

Documents obtained by The Associated Press show that the NYPD has built databases pinpointing where Muslims live, where they buy groceries, what Internet cafes they use and where they watch sports. Dozens of mosques and student groups have been infiltrated, and police have built detailed profiles of Moroccans, Egyptians, Albanians and other local ethnic groups. The NYPD surveillance extended outside New York City to neighboring New Jersey and Long Island and colleges across the Northeast.

Holder told Congress that police seeking to monitor activities by citizens “should only do so when there is a basis to believe that something inappropriate is occurring or potentially could occur.”

Holder responded under questioning by Rep. Mike Honda, D-Calif., who as an infant was sent with his parents to a Japanese internment camp during World War II and has compared that policy to the NYPD’s treatment of Muslims. The attorney general was on Capitol Hill to discuss the Justice Department’s federal budget.

Holder did not suggest that a Justice Department investigation of the NYPD was imminent. Over the last six months, the AP has revealed the inner workings of secret programs of the NYPD, built with help from the CIA, to monitor Muslims.

“I don’t know even if the program as it has been described in the news media was an appropriate way to proceed, was consistent with the way in which the federal government would have done these things,” said Holder, who was born in the Bronx and described New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly as a personal friend. “I simply just don’t know the answers to those questions at the beginning stages of this matter.”

That surprised Rep. Rush Holt, D-N.J., one of the first lawmakers to ask the Justice Department to scrutinize the NYPD’s operations.

“They very definitely gave me the sense that they were farther along in their investigation than just reviewing some mail,” Holt said.

Read Full Article Here

Wikileaks publishes millions of ‘Shadow CIA’s’ emails

by Gareth Morgan

Wikileaks has published the first batch of more than five million emails from US security publisher Stratfor, which were obtained after hackers affiliated with Anonymous broke into the intelligence group’s servers.

In announcing the publication, Wikileaks described Stratfor as “the shadow CIA” and said it would shed light on the group’s web of informers, pay-off structure and the payment laundering techniques it used for clients.

These clients are alleged to include Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, the US Department of Homeland Security and the US Defence Intelligence Agency.

Wikileaks said the hacked emails – which it has dubbed The Global Intelligence Files – included more than 4,000 mentioning Wikileaks and its founder, Julian Assange, along with ones that detail Statfor’s “attempts to subvert Wikilkeaks”.

Stratfor issued a statement attacking the publication of its internal emails. But it added that it would not attempt to validate whether the emails published by Wikileaks were genuine.

“Some of the emails may be forged or altered to include inaccuracies; some may be authentic. We will not validate either. Nor will we explain the thinking that went into them. Having had our property stolen, we will not be victimised twice by submitting to questioning about them,” it said.

Hackers affiliated with Anonymous breached Stratfor’s systems towards the back end of 2011.

Alongside the emails dating back to July 2004, the hackers were able to access details of the firms’ customers – including tens of thousands of credit card details.

The Global Intelligence Files represent the first significant release of leaked material from Wikileaks since its founder Assange became embroiled in an extradition battle with Norwegian authorities.

Should Central America Legalize Drugs?

Some regional leaders say it could bring peace and much-needed tax revenue, but both they and supporters of the drug war are missing the real problem.

Last week, the president of Guatemala joined former and current presidents of Colombia and Mexico in expressing interest in considering the regional legalization of the drug trade. The U.S. State Department immediately expressed its disfavor, but the question is out in the open now. The issue of whether to legalize drugs — and thus reject the U.S. model of “war” against drugs — threatens to consume the next Summit of the Americas, an April meeting of Western Hemisphere Heads of State in Colombia.

It is easy to see why. The drug war has been a disaster for the Latin American countries fighting it, especially Mexico, and Central Americans’ suspicion that legalization could be less painful and costly is reasonable. Whether or not legalization would in fact be a good thing for Central America, the situation is desperate enough that they must at least consider their options.

Since Mexico declared its own war against drugs and drug cartels in 2006, over 50,000 civilians, police, journalists, judges, and soldiers have died. Several cartel kingpins have been arrested or killed, but organized crime is as potent as ever, and there’s no indication of a significant drop in the volume of narcotics flowing into the United States. And the Mexican state is suffering mightily for its effort. Despite years of training and hundreds of millions of dollars in police and military modernization and professionalization, there are still episodes like Tuesday’s jail break in Nuevo Laredo, where prison officials appear to have helped Zetas cartel gunmen kill 44 inmates — all members of a rival cartel — and help 30 Zetas escape. It’s depressing.

In Guatemala, the drug war looks even worse. The Guatemalan national budget for public security is $420 million and its military budget is $160 million. The value of the narcotics smuggled through Guatemala each year is in the range of $40 to 50 billion — about equal to the national GDP — and that does not include the money made from smuggling weapons, people, and other contraband. In just three years, it appears that the Sinaloa and the Zetas Mexican cartels have come to control as much as 40 percent of the country’s territory. They grow poppy, process cocaine and methamphetamines, and run training camps for their new recruits, who include members of Guatemala’s elite special forces unit.

Guatemala and other Central American states are understandable worried their drug wars will come to resemble Mexico’s, but with far fewer national resources to support the fight, much weaker police and military forces, and far less help from the United States. In 2011, the U.S. gave $180 million to Mexico for military and police assistance, but only $16 million to Guatemala and around $6 million each to Honduras and El Salvador.

So, naturally, the option of legalizing the drug trade, and thus avoiding a further drug war, sounds appealing. Though the Guatemalan government hasn’t presented any specific idea or plan, the conventional interpretation would be to legalize personal drug consumption as well as small batch sales and to tax them; to focus on drug use prevention and treatment, instead of criminalizing addicts; and then to focus security efforts against organized crime and violence, instead of constantly watching for, chasing, and interdicting drug shipments.

Supporters of drug legalization argue that it would do three things for Central America. First, it would create new tax revenues for countries that badly need them. Taxes on drugs could go to these countries’ under-resourced police forces and their prosecutorial, judicial, and penal systems. The U.S. State Department argues that legalizing drugs would do nothing to reduce organized criminal activity in money laundering, extortion, kidnapping, counterfeit goods, etc., but this overlooks the key issue of resources. Drug legalization would, if done right, mean more resources for the state to put toward anti-organized crime operations.

The second benefit, according to advocates, would be to reduce the value of drugs and therefore the resources of organized criminal groups, making them easier to fight. The third would be to reduce the violence associated with gangs and cartels fighting over the routes where they  operate. Belize, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras today suffer from the world’s highest homicide rates. The reduction of violent crime should be these governments’ top immediate objective.

Unfortunately, in Central America, legalization alone is not likely to achieve any of these things.

A drugs tax would be a good idea if Central American governments were actually equipped to collect them, which they’re not. Tax collection authorities and institutions are so weak that states already take in far less than they’re owed. Tax evasion, especially by bribing or threatening tax collectors, is already rampant and would likely be even more common if collectors try to approach the same cartels that are accustomed to murdering police. Also, proper drug legalization would require expensive new programs for addiction treatment and prevention campaigns. Legalizing drugs would require regional governments to take a strong role in policing the newly legal industry, collecting taxes, and caring for addicts. But regional governments can’t handle the tasks they already have in front of them.

Also, cartels make a lot of their money outside of drugs, through extortion, human trafficking, kidnapping, prostitution, and other criminal activities, many of which are violent. Just because the drugs component of their business might become legal doesn’t mean they would drop everything else.

In any case, the correlation between drug trafficking and violence is not as straightforward as most people think. Murder rates in Central America are highest in urban areas, where street crime and gangs pray on local residents and businesses, not along the trafficking routes, which are often controlled by a single cartel or its local partner. Even before the recent drug trafficking surge, homicide rates in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras were several times higher than in the rest of Latin America. In these communities, violence is about much more than just drugs. It’s about a lack of the rule of law, ubiquitous weapons and private security forces, lack of jobs or opportunities for much of the poor, and a legacy of brutal civil wars in the 1980s. Legalizing drugs alone would probably not do much to change the violence that has plagued these communities for decades.

Drugs are a major problem in Central America, but they are worsened by a much bigger problem, one that can’t be solved by legalizing marijuana, cocaine, or opium: the lack of public security. From the out-gunned police on the streets to the weak judges in the courts to the corrupt politicians, communities and countries struggle to maintain basic control over their own security. Ultimately, drug legalization — like the drug war it’s meant to solve — would succeed only if public security is fixed and would fail if it isn’t. That means better-trained and -equipped police, new campaign finance rules, faster and more independent courts, and even improved prisons. It means addressing not just the problems in the police and courts but the widespread poverty, malnourished children, and poor education systems. It means creating transparency in the public sector, curbing corruption, and breaking the long-standing links between organized crime and politics. Without these enormously difficult steps, neither drug legalization nor any drug war are likely to solve Central America’s problems.

Rpt-Iran to accept payment in gold from trading partners

TEHRAN, Feb 28 (Reuters) – Iran will take payment from

its trading partners in gold instead of dollars, the Iranian

state news agency IRNA quoted the central bank governor as

saying on Tuesday.

Iranian financial institutions have been hit by sanctions

imposed by the United States and the European Union in an effort

to force Tehran to halt its nuclear program.

Significant difficulties in making dollar payments to

Iranian banks have forced Iran’s trading partners to look for

alternative ways to settle transactions, including direct barter


“In its trade transactions with other countries, Iran does

not limit itself to the U.S. dollar, and the country can pay

using its own currency,” central bank governor Mahmoud Bahmani

was quoted as saying. “If a country should so choose, it can pay

in gold and we would accept that without any reservation.”

The sanctions include a phased ban on importing oil from

Iran, which EU member states are to implement by July.

China and India, two of the largest consumers of Iranian

oil, have said they will continue imports, but Japan and Korea

have announced cuts to quotas following pressure from the United

States. As a result the value of Iran’s rial has plummeted,

pushing the price of goods sharply higher across the country.

Western countries believe Tehran is trying to establish a

nuclear weapons capability, and the United States and Israel

have not ruled out military action against it. The Islamic

Republic says its nuclear ambitions are peaceful and that it

will hit back if targeted.

(Reporting by Hashem Kalantari; Writing by Marcus George;

Editing by Tim Pearce)

More bad news: U.S. water bills to triple


First high gas prices, now water. A shocking new report about the nation’s crumbling drinking water system says that Americans should expect their bills to double or triple to cover repairs just to keep their faucets pouring. That means adding up to $900 a year more for water, nearly equal the amount of the newly extended payroll tax cut.

Fixing and expanding underground drinking water systems will cost over $1 trillion in the next 25 years and users will get socked with the bill, according to the American Water Works Association.

As with most infrastructure investments, spending heavily now means less costs down the road. But with little appetite in the country for even trickling taxes now, a delayed and more expensive fix is almost guaranteed. The association figures that spending to fix leaky water systems will double from roughly $13 billion a year today to $30 billion annually by 2040.

“Because pipe assets last a long time, water systems that were built in the later part of the 19th century and throughout much of the 20th century have, for the most part, never experienced the need for pipe replacement on a large scale,” said the report provided to Washington Secrets. “The dawn of an era in which the assets will need to be replaced puts growing stress on communities that will continue to increase for decades to come.”

What kind of stress? Families can expect to pay at least $300-$550 more for water in taxes and fees just to keep their current systems operating. Add growth and improved systems, and that bill jumps to $900 for a family of three, said the report.

Currently, Americans pay about $400 a month in water taxes and fees.

The Intel Hub
By Tony Muga
February 27, 2012

According to several stunning editorials by authors Lucas W. Hixon and Joy Thompson on the website, evidence obtained through an FOIA request reveals a ‘cover-up’ by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in an effort to conceal the severity of the meltdowns in Fukushima, Japan.

The FOIA request was initiated by the Friends of the Earth (FOE), the Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR), and the Nuclear Information and Resource Center (NIRS) in March of 2011. Physicians for Social Responsibility explains the purpose of the request on

“On March 16, 2011, NRC Commissioner Gregory B Jaczko told Congress that he was recommending the 50-mile evacuation radius.

The scope of the recommended evacuation is highly unusual and suggestive of extraordinarily high radiation levels in excess of those reported to the public in Japan and the U.S., …In the U.S., nuclear reactor licensees and local governments are only asked to provide for evacuation out to 10 miles. As concerns grow about food and water contamination in Japan, the three groups…are seeking to determine the answer to this key question: What made Jaczko exceed the limits of his own agency’s regulations by five times?”

Interestingly enough, and surely by coincidence, the Qur’an burnings in Afghanistan have taken place just as the analysis of these documents, and the documents themselves are being made public.

It should be no surprise that the corporate controlled mainstream media is ignoring this blockbuster revelation instead of exposing it and demanding an investigation.

In a January 18th and February 19th article analysis of NRC emails and transcripts of phone conversations, dated just days after the accident, reveals the nature of the cover-up:

1. Containment: “By Sunday March 13th, Elliot Brenner, sent out an e-mail to upper NRC counterparts clearly narrating the sequence of events. ‘While we know more than what these (press releases) say, we’re sticking to this story for now.’ writes Breener, during the weekend he labled [labeled] ‘very hectic’.”

In regards to not fully utilizing twitter: “The NRC was using their blog and the updates provided by the American Nuclear Society as the main modes of communication with the public.

2. Selective distribution of information: “David McIntyre also works in the NRC on public affairs, and spent much of his time creating carefully crafted e-mails that constantly downplayed the disaster, and any relationship that might be made to the safety status of US nuclear stations.

On March 14th, McIntyre received an email [from] Molly McCrea, a reporter for CBS inquired about the status of a law that Senator Markey had authored that would distribute KI (potassium iodide) to those living within a certain distance from a nuclear power plant, and whether or not it was being followed. She asked whether or not the pills had been distributed, and why the NRC had been reported to be discouraging the distribution.

McIntyre replied vaguely alluding to the fact that the NRC was not solely responsible, but that it was a ‘US Government decision, not just the NRC but HHS [Health and Human services] and others.’ It is true that the NRC has worked hard against the burden of purchasing, storing, and maintaining a fresh supply of KI for those populations closest to nuclear reactors.

In 2009, the NRC actually canceled it’s policy on KI distribution, stating that it was unnecessary, as it did not protect against all radionuclides that could be potentially released, would cause undue stress on the community, and would delay critical response time by adding more duties to local, state and federal staff.”

3. Deception: “It appears that McIntyre used his own personal discretion on which information to release to specific reporters or news services. On March 14th, he received an e-mail from Molly McCrea again, this time asking if the United States was possibly sending KI to Japan, or had sent KI to Japan to help out, if he could confirm, and if not who should she contact.

McIntyre replied ‘We have not been asked to provide KI’. He further explained, ‘We understand the Japanese authorities have included KI as part of their protective action guidelines, which would indicate they have some stockpiles.’

The reply email was sent on Tuesday March 15th, 2011 at 4:07:00 PM. At 4:10:00 PM, only 3 minutes later, McIntyre rushed a quick note to Matthew Wald, a long-time reporter for the New York Times who has written on nuclear energy for years, with the subject line-’KI Info’ stating, ‘Matt-I’m told we distributed approximately 11 million pills. Dave.’”

4. Hiding knowledge of a radioactive plume bound for the West Coast, USA: Referring to a series of e-mails from David Lew as ‘documents 3,4 and 5′ : Thompson writes:

“Yet another caution to limit information given to the public and a heads-up to ‘Expect the public/media focus to turn toward domestic in the next day or so.’ IOW, by the afternoon of March 12 the NRC was in full ass-covering mode for the U.S. nuclear industry.”

Excellent quotes from these e-mails are provided, quotes that show officials were aware of the radioactive plume headed for North America. Why was there no emergency broadcast warning?

Interaction with DHS and federal agencies, including plume plot, possible exposure models, and monitoring of west coast.”

This information can only lead to one conclusion, stated perfectly by Thompson: “FEMA standing down, don’t expect the plume to hit the west coast that weekend. NRC thinks unit 2 ‘shut down safely.’ [Heh. The direct cite above indicates clearly federal agencies – FEMA, DHS, DOE, EPA – were very much aware that contamination from Fukushima would travel as a plume and that there would be fallout when it reached the U.S. mainland…”

In ‘document 6‘, an ‘Internal email’ from one William Ostendorff, and in reference to a 3:30PM conference call, there is another admission of knowledge of the plume, “4. Keep interacting with DHS on potential plume plots and modeling capability, etc…”.

5. Cover -up: Evidence of an effort to prepare for the inevitable pesky public inquiry can also be found in the internal email of Mr. Ostendorff:“Further develop Q&A as the attention will start to turn to US plants and our level of preparedness/protection from seismic and floods.”

But as Hixon points out, the directives for information control were given the day of the accident indicated in a bulletin from the ‘Operations Center’ dated March 11th at 3:04 PM:

“This is the ‘NOT A DRILL’ notice pictured above the squiggle. It sets the tone for information control with instructions specific to dealing with the international press.

In the first paragraph it identifies where employees may direct the press in order to access the ‘official’ press releases from NRC, and urges any NRC employees who ARE contacted by the media to inform the NRC Office of Public Affairs immediately.”

6. At the highest levels: There is plenty of evidence the White House knew everything and played a ‘lead’ part. In the Osendorff email he clearly states that “NRC posture to hold White House lead for U.S. response, NRC to be support only so as not to focus media attention on NRC-”.

Again, in a March 12th, 12:52 PM email from David Lew, we see White House involvement: “NRC remains in the monitoring mode. Chairman attended a meeting with White House. Marty Virgilio participated by VTC.” (video teleconferencing)

Later that afternoon another email from Mr. Lew states that there is a “Deputies Meeting at the White House with significant focus on the nuclear event.”

There is little doubt now that the radioactive plume had an effect on American citizens but keep in mind that people were not falling over dead in the street in numbers and the ‘plume’ is an invisible one so unless one had warning, there was virtually no way of detecting its presence.

According to a article based on research printed in the Journal of Health Services , Internist and Toxicologist Janette Sherman, MD insists we have paid a heavy toll from the fallout: 

“Based on our continuing research, the actual death count here (USA) may be as high as 18,000, with influenza and pneumonia, which were up five-fold in the period in question as a cause of death. Deaths are seen across all ages, but we continue to find that infants are hardest hit because their tissues are rapidly multiplying, they have undeveloped immune systems, and the doses of radioisotopes are proportionally greater than for adults.”

It seems that the fundamental problem with what Americans are experiencing is not just radioactive fallout but Fascism, the merging of the corporate and the state.

In a fascist state, there is little or no responsible action from the corporations for there is little or no promotion of accountability from the state. The corporations, for all intents and purposes, control the state.

And when the time has come that corporate profits outweigh human safety, has not also the time come, as Americans, to ask ourselves: do we, as a society, even value human life as we once did and if we do what IS the worth of a life?

Perhaps for once, it should NOT be determined in terms of a dollar amount.

Additional Reading: There are over a 1,000 pages of FOIA documents that are being analyzed post haste in an effort to reveal the truth about the Fukushima accident and what authorities did or did not do following the meltdowns to protect U.S. citizens.

The 186 page NRC transcript of conference calls: Lot’s of redacting but on page 153 (lines 24 and 25) and page 154 (lines 1-8) of the document Chairman Jaczco is told by Jack Grob that:

“They asked for monitoring, both land-based and air-based monitoring. The DOE Radiological Assistance Program teams are on the ground in Japan, and they’ll be providing that monitoring. We have already established a relationship with the Department of Energy, and will get that information in real time, and that will be a huge benefit.”

Talking Points Memo: NRC talking points as of March 17th, 2011 0600 EDT. Shows radiation plume was headed for the US.

395 pages of NRC Emails and more reveal the inner workings of the cover-up. Includes the emails quoted above.

Report on ‘An Unexpected Mortality Increase In The United States Follows Arrival Of The Radioactive Plume From Fukushima: Is T

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

**Three things can’t be hidden:
coughing, poverty, and love.**
Yiddish proverb

This morning –

Yesterday –
2/28/12 –

Moderate quake jolts east Iran, 6 hurt – A magnitude 5.4 quake hit a sparsely populated area at 10 pm on Monday. It damaged buildings, roads, and water canals as well as the nearby dam in the town of Ravar, some 750 kilometers southeast of the capital Tehran. A magnitude 4.6 quake hit late on Tuesday and a 4.7 hit early today.

‘Devil’s chain reaction’ was feared after 2011 Japan quake – Recovery workers at Japan’s crippled Fukushima nuclear plant still fear for the future, one year after the country’s worst ever nuclear accident. The Former Japanese Prime Minister ordered workers to stay at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant after the massive earthquake and tsunami on March 11 last year as fears mounted of a “devil’s chain reaction” that would force tens of millions of people to flee Tokyo, a new investigative report shows. About three days after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, his staff began referring to a worst case scenario that could threaten Japan’s existence as a nation. That was when fears mounted that thousands of spent fuel rods stored at a damaged reactor would melt and spew radiation after a hydrogen explosion at an adjacent reactor building. Japan’s then top government spokesman said that at the height of tension he feared a “devil’s chain reaction” in which the Fukushima Daiichi plant and the nearby Fukushima Daini facility, as well as the Tokai nuclear plant, spiralled out of control, putting the capital at risk.
He stepped down last September as he came under fire for his handling of the crisis, including flying over the plant by helicopter the morning after the disasters hit – a move some critics said contributed to a delay in the operator’s response. He was haunted by the spectre of a crisis spiralling out of control and forcing the evacuation of the Tokyo greater metropolitan area, 240km away and home to some 35 million people.
After the quake and tsunami struck, three reactors melted down and radiation spewed widely through eastern Japan, forcing tens of thousands of residents to evacuate from near the plant. Plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co, known as Tepco, managed to avert the worst scenario by pumping water, much of it from the sea, into Daiichi’s damaged reactors and spent fuel pools. The reactors were stabilised by December.
A year after the disaster, however, Fukushima Daiichi still resembles a vast wasteland. High radiation levels hamper a cleanup that is expected to take decades. The damaged 40-metre-high No.2 reactor building stands like a bird’s nest of twisted steel beams. A Tepco official who accompanied foreign media to the plant on Tuesday said metal debris was being painstakingly removed by giant cranes and pincers as radiation doses were too high for workers. Another challenge is keeping a new cooling system, built from a myriad of technologies and prone to breaking down, running without major glitches. “An earthquake or tsunami like the ones seen a year ago could be a source of trouble for these (cooling) systems. But we are currently reinforcing the spent fuel pool and making the sea walls higher against tsunamis. A series of back up systems is also being put in place in case one fails.”
Confused media reports at the time of the accident said Tepco had threatened to withdraw workers from the plant, but that Kan ordered them to keep staff on-site. “Now Tepco is saying there was no request for a complete pullout, that it only asked for a partial withdrawal. The truth may never come out, but as a result, 50 Tepco staff stayed behind and … the worst case scenario was averted.” How many of those who stayed were volunteers is a mystery. “An order was likely given for full-time employees to stay behind. We may eventually find out who volunteered to stay, but the impression from our investigation is that they are under strict orders to remain silent.”


Japan Government quake panel cut tsunami warning from report prior to March 11 – The science ministry’s earthquake research panel omitted a warning from a report, eight days before the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami, that a massive tsunami could hit northeastern Japan “at any moment”, despite having earlier planned to include it. The Earthquake Research Committee had presented the report eight days before the March 11 disaster to an unofficial meeting among the ministry, Tokyo Electric Power Co. and two other utilities but ended up not publicizing it. Committee members decided to delete the warning as they viewed it “inappropriate to use the same expression” as that used to describe an expected major earthquake in the Tokai region, central Japan, which was regarded “more imminent.” Reference to the possible quake in the Pacific off eastern Japan was further weakened at the request of power utilities at the March 3 meeting.
Comprising more than a dozen members, mostly academics, the panel was compiling the report as part of a review of its long-term evaluation on the frequency of big quakes in the region ranging from the Sanriku coast in northeastern Japan to the Boso Peninsula in Chiba Prefecture. The draft report had a new article entitled “from the sea off Miyagi Prefecture to the sea off Fukushima Prefecture” and said a temblor that entails a gigantic tsunami could occur at any moment based on recent research that such tsunami hit the coast four times over the past 2,500 years.But after some membeers argued that such an expression could be linked with the projected Tokai quake, which was said to be 87 percent likely to occur within 30 years, it was weakened to simply noting that a major quake could occur off the Pacific coastline in eastern Japan. References to research having found tsunami-caused sediment at a rate of every 450 to 800 years, and that 500 years had passed since the latest major quake were also deleted. After the March 2011 disaster, the committee under the Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry estimated that the quake, if it were predictable beforehand, was 10 to 20 percent likely to occur within 30 years as of March 11 last year. (photos)

In the Indian Ocean –
Tropical cyclone 14s (Irina) was located approximately 270 nm northwest of Antananarivo, Madagascar. Is now intensifying over the Mozambique Channel. Forecasts expect it to move across The Channel and into Mozambique, north of Maputo.


Extreme Weather in Western China Continues – Natural calamities are taking a toll on provinces in western China. In the north, people suffer from severe snowstorms, while southwestern areas are coping with prolonged drought. Cold weather continues to plague the northwestern Xinjiang region of China. Over $900,000 of damage was reported. Barns, houses, and livestock have all fallen victim to the freezing temperatures.
Meanwhile in the southwestern Yunnan province, some villagers haven’t seen rain since last November. Over six million people are affected by the drought. “It’s very difficult for our village. If the drought goes on for another two days, we’ll have to fetch water from three kilometers (1.86 miles) away and carry it back on our cattle. There’s nothing we can do. We don’t have a pump to transport water.” State media announced on Wednesday that $19 million has been set aside to assist the areas worst hit by the drought. (video)


Volcanic Activity

Mexico Popocatepetl volcano rumbles with 16 low intensity emissions – alert level, Phase 2, yellow

by The Extinction Protocol

February 28, 2012MEXICO (Notimex) – The National Center for Disaster Prevention (Cenapred) reported that in the last 24 hours, the Popocatepetl volcano registered 16 emissions of low intensity, accompanied by emissions of water vapor, ash, and gas. The body of the Interior Ministry said in a statement that the largest emissions occurred yesterday at 14:50 and 17:12 hours during the night glow was observed on the volcano, while the rest of the monitoring parameters remain approximately unchanged. He said, at the time of the report, a slight emission of water vapor and gas was flashing from the volcano. The volcanic alert remains in Phase 2 yellow. The Ministry said there were moderate exhalations, some with ash emissions, sporadic bursts of low to moderate probability of emission of incandescent fragments within walking distance of the crater and incandescent light in the observable crater overnight. The Cenapred explained that a security parameter remains in a 12 kilometer radius of the volcano, so staying in that area is not permitted and controlled traffic is maintained between Santiago and San Pedro Nexapa Xalitzintla via Paso de Cortes. He called the Civil Protection authorities to maintain preventive procedures, according to their operational plans and to keep people alert to the official information that is released. –Yucatan  translated


Democratic lobbyists giving cold shoulder to Obama super-PAC

‘Not for Pub’: US drew up secret Assange charges – Stratfor leak

Homeland Security Dept. Pays General Dynamics to Scour Internet for Criticism of its Policies

US ‘ties North Korea food aid to nuclear progress’

Obama using Espionage Act to ‘silence and prosecute federal workers’ – NYT

US tax dollars at work: War games: Tel Aviv missile drill,7340,L-4195662,00.html

McCain Charges White House With Israel Leaks

Sen. John McCain charges that the Obama administration is intentionally undermining Israel in its standoff with Iran.


S&P Declares Greece in Default

Venezuela to Keep Syria Fuel Exports, Deepen Ties With China

Irish leaving in droves to work abroad:  More people will leave Ireland to find work abroad, than at any time since the 1980s

Durable goods orders drop by most in 3 years:  U.S. businesses slashed spending on machinery and equipment in January after a tax break expired, pushing orders for long-lasting manufacturing goods down by the largest amount in three years

Democratic leaders intensify blame on Wall Street for rising oil prices

20 Signs That Dust Bowl Conditions Will Soon Return To The Heartland Of America

Dow crosses 13,000, first time since crisis

HSBC could face US criminal charges and ‘significant’ fines over ‘money-laundering’

HSBC has admitted for the first time it may face criminal charges that could see it hit with “significant” penalties stemming from a US investigation into alleged money-laundering by Britain’s biggest bank.

America 1950 vs. America 2012

Iran’s crude oil price exceeds $124 in Asian markets

Wars And Rumors Of Wars

Israel Won’t Warn U.S. Before Strike On Iran: AP Source

Britain leads dash to explore for oil in war-torn Somalia:  Government offers humanitarian aid and security assistance in the hope of a stake in country’s future energy industry

NATO airstrike kills four Afghan civilians –The victims were reportedly bombed twice while herding sheep in the snow.


Anonymous hackers: Police arrest 25 in four countries

Uploaded by on Feb 26, 2012 | The producer of Stupid in America, John Stossel, broadcasts another outstanding documentary “Illegal Everything” which shows how nearly everything is (or may soon be) illegal – including lemonade stands, raw milk, drugs, fast food, prostitution, recording police, and more.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

**To love is to suffer. To avoid suffering one must not love.
But then one suffers from not loving.
Therefore to love is to suffer, not to love is to suffer.
To suffer is to suffer. To be happy is to love.
To be happy then is to suffer.
But suffering makes one unhappy.
Therefore, to be unhappy one must love,
or love to suffer,
or suffer from too much happiness.
I hope you’re getting this down.**
Woody Allen

This morning –

Yesterday –
2/27/12 –

Russia – People evacuated from quake epicenter in Siberia. The powerful earthquake hit Tuva, a region in Siberia, on Sunday. The magnitude was 6 to 7 points, but no casualties have been reported. The quake was felt in some other Siberian regions as well.
After the quake, 550 facilities in Tuva have been found potentially dangerous, including houses in the area where the quake was most powerful. People were being evacuated from the most dangerous houses and placed in shelters. The personnel of Sayano-Shushenskaya hydropower plant in Tuva stopped the power-producing aggregate immediately after the first shocks were felt. 40 minutes after, the aggregate was launched again. Underground shocks are still continuing in Tuva.

No current tropical storms.

Thailand – Northern provinces warned of tropical storm. The Meteorological Department Monday warned people living in lower northern provinces and northeastern provinces to brace themselves for a possible tropical storm. The department said a moderate high pressure area has covered the upper Thailand and the the South China Sea, and its influence could cause a tropical storm Monday or Tuesday. The high pressure area will also cause the temperature in the North and Northeast to drop by two degrees.


Australia – Perth has recorded its second hottest summer on record, its HOTTEST SUMMER IN 34 YEARS and its WETTEST SUMMER IN 12 YEARS. The last time temperatures were so consistently high in Perth was in 1978 and the last time the city had so much rain was in 2000. The heat was mostly due to RECORD WARM surface temperatures in the Indian Ocean. “Our overall average was 25.5C, still 0.6 degrees below the 1978 record mark of 26.C.”
Perth’s summer rainfall of 118.2mm was nearly four times above the average of 31.3mm, and more than double the 48mm received last summer. “This was primarily due to a wet December when two separate thunderstorm events produced heavy falls across the area.” Heading into autumn, Perth was expected to have above average temperatures, but below average rainfall, particularly over the southwest districts, with close to average totals over most other parts of the state.


Melting Arctic link to cold, snowy UK winters – This winter brought snow as far south as Greece. The progressive shrinking of Arctic sea ice is bringing colder, snowier winters to the UK and other areas of Europe, North America and China, a study shows. As global temperatures have risen, the area of Arctic Ocean covered by ice in summer and autumn has been falling. A US/China-based team says this affects the jet stream and brings cold, snowy weather. Whether conditions will get colder still as ice melts further is unclear.
There was a marked deterioration in ice cover between the summers of 2006 and 2007, which still holds the record for the lowest extent on record; and it has not recovered since. The current winter is roughly tracking the graph of 2007.
The new study is not the first to propose a causal relationship between low Arctic ice in autumn and Europe’s winter weather. But it has gone further than others in assessing the strength of the link. “For the past four winters, for much of the northern US, east Asia and Europe, we had this persistent above-normal snow cover. We don’t see a predictive relationship with any of the other factors that have been proposed, such as El Nino; but for sea ice, we do see a predictive relationship.” If less of the ocean is ice-covered in autumn, it releases more heat, warming the atmosphere. This reduces the air temperature difference between the Arctic and latitudes further south, over the Atlantic Ocean. In turn, this reduces the strength of the northern jet stream, which usually brings milder, wetter weather to Europe from the west. It is these “blocking” conditions that keep the UK and the other affected regions supplied with cold air. The researchers also found that the extra evaporation from the Arctic Ocean makes the air more humid, with some of the additional water content falling out as snow. “Declining Arctic sea ice can drive easterly winds and produce colder winters over Europe.”
Small, natural changes in the Sun’s output can also affect winter weather. And the declining Arctic ice cover is just one of several factors that could increase blocking. “This is no bigger than the solar effect or the El Nino effect. But they vary, whereas Arctic ice is on a pretty consistent downward trend.” The picture is further complicated by the involvement of the Arctic Oscillation, a natural variation of air pressure that also changes northern weather. The oscillation is not understood well enough to predict – and even if it were, any pattern it has may be changing due to escalating greenhouse gas concentrations. Nevertheless, the research suggests that on average, winters in the UK and the rest of the affected region will be colder in years to come than they have been in recent decades.
Various computer simulations have generated a range of dates by which the Arctic might be completely ice-free in summer and autumn, ranging from 2016 to about 2060. A few years ago, one projection even showed 2013 was possible, though this now appears unlikely. “It’s possible that future winters will be colder and snowier, but there are some uncertainties.” The team’s next research project is to feed Arctic ice projections and the mechanisms they have deciphered into various computer models of climate, and see whether they do forecast a growing winter chill.


Bird flu, pig flu, now bat flu – FOR THE FIRST TIME, scientists have found evidence of flu in bats, reporting a NEVER-BEFORE-SEEN VIRUS whose risk to humans is unclear. The surprising discovery of genetic fragments of a flu virus is the first well-documented report of it in the winged mammals. So far, scientists haven’t been able to grow it, and it’s not clear if – or how well – it spreads.
Flu bugs are common in humans, birds and pigs and have even been seen in dogs, horses, seals and whales, among others. About five years ago, Russian virologists claimed finding flu in bats, but they never offered evidence. “Most people are fairly convinced we had already discovered flu in all the possible” animals, said a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention scientist who co-authored the new study. Scientists suspect that some bats caught flu centuries ago and that the virus mutated within the bat population into this new variety. Scientists haven’t even been able to grow the new virus in chicken eggs or in human cell culture, as they do with more conventional flu strains.
But it still could pose a threat to humans. For example, if it mingled with more common forms of influenza, it could swap genes and mutate into something more dangerous, a scenario at the heart of the global flu epidemic movie Contagion. Guatemala is where scientists stumbled upon the new virus. It was in the intestines of little yellow-shouldered bats. These bats eat fruit and insects but don’t bite people. Yet it’s possible they could leave the virus on produce and a human could get infected by taking a bite. It’s conceivable some people were infected with the virus in the past. Now that scientists know what it looks like, they are looking for it in other bats as well as humans and other animals.
At least one expert said CDC researchers need to do more to establish they’ve actually found a flu virus. Technically, what the CDC officials found was genetic material of a flu virus. They used a lab technique to find genes for the virus and amplify it. All they found was a segment of genetic material, said a bird disease researcher. What they should do is draw blood from more bats, try to infect other bats and take other steps to establish that the virus is spreading among the animals. “In my mind, if you can’t grow the virus, how do you know that the virus is there?” Work is going on to try to infect healthy bats, but there are other viruses that were discovered by genetic sequencing but are hard to grow in a lab, including hepatitis C.