Tag Archive: Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act


Saturday, June 8, 2013

CISPA Will Legalize PRISM Spy Program

Eric Blair
Activist Post

Give them an inch and they will take a mile. That is how power-hungry tyrants interpret any law.

The PATRIOT Act and the FISA court led to the blanket wiretapping of every American citizen and a PRISM lens into all Internet activity for the NSA.

Now we are supposed to trust this Peeping Tom government by giving them more authority for “cybersecurity” with the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA)?

As George W. Bush once eloquently said with his patented deer-in-the-headlights conviction “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me, you can’t get fooled again, see.”

Oh, I bet the American people will get fooled again. But it’s not their fault. When authority figures tell bald-faced lies to the public, most people instinctively want to believe them because the majority of people are honest and perceive others to be honest.

Obama won the presidency promising to overturn Bush’s draconian destruction of civil liberties in the name of fighting terror. The majority of Americans took Obama at his word and gave him the benefit of the doubt. Until now.
Reuters reports today that the NSA spying scandal may “complicate” Obama’s agenda for cybersecurity:

Renewed concerns about the spy agency’s domestic surveillance programs could also hamper efforts to give it a broader role in defending the country’s infrastructure, and put pressure on lawmakers to update laws protecting online privacy, say congressional aides and defense and security experts.

“They’re going to make it harder to do the work that is now going on,” said former chief Pentagon weapons buyer Mike Wynne, who also served as Air Force secretary from 2005 to 2008.

Wynne said growing unease about domestic surveillance could have a chilling effect on proposed cyber legislation that calls for greater information-sharing between government and industry.

But this is laughable. The U.S. government already has been illegally using the authority in CISPA prior to it being codified into law. At least everything Hitler did was “legal” before he did it.

PRISM reportedly forces Internet companies to hand over information to the NSA and FBI. Some even allow a backdoor to their servers. This program has been in place for several years according to reports.

Read Full Article Here

 

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HotHardware

PRISM: NSA Confirms It’s Spying, Using Secret Courts — But It’s All For Your Own Good

Saturday, June 08, 2013 – by Joel Hruska

There have been two major leaks this past week that we want to talk about. First, news that Verizon turns over all phone call metadata — the numbers called, dialed, and the duration of the phone call in question — to the NSA. Second, news that the NSA has agreements with major tech companies, including Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo, that require those companies to turn over information.

Every firm named in these slides has come out and said it does not reveal information about US citizens without an appropriate court order. The NSA has released a statement confirming this, saying: “It cannot be used to intentionally target any U.S. citizen, any other U.S. person, or anyone located within the United States.

“Activities authorized by Section 702 are subject to oversight by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, the Executive Branch, and Congress. They involve extensive procedures, specifically approved by the court, to ensure that only non-U.S. persons outside the U.S. are targeted, and that minimize the acquisition, retention and dissemination of incidentally acquired information about U.S. persons.”

This is true. It is also dangerously inaccurate. Let’s talk about why you should care about these policies and what the NSA is and isn’t saying. First, we’re going to hop back in history. Stick with me; it’s related. We’re hopping back to 1986 and the investigation into the loss of the space shuttle Challenger.

The Normalization of Deviance:

For those of you who don’t remember (or weren’t alive), the loss of the space shuttle Challenger in 1986 was caused by the disintegration of an O-ring seal inside the solid rocket booster (SRB). Without a proper seal, hot gas inside the booster penetrated the side of the rocket, leading to a catastrophic explosion. This was far from an unknown possibility; NASA found evidence of O-ring erosion on the second space shuttle mission ever flown, in 1981. The flaw was labeled “Criticality 1” meaning that a failure would destroy the Orbiter and kill the crew.

The night before the catastrophic launch, multiple engineers from Thiokol, the company that designed the flawed SRB system, called for NASA to push the launch back until the weather was warmer. The concern was that low temperatures would make it impossible for the O-ring to seal properly. NASA refused to delay and Thiokol withdrew the request. This, despite the fact that NASA’s own policies mandated against relying on a backup part in a “Criticality 1” incident.

What does this have to do with the NSA? More than you might think. In the wake of the Challenger’s loss, it became apparent that multiple warnings and safety protocols had been de-emphasized precisely because launches continued to go smoothly. Procedures that deviated from recognized safety margins and limits became the accepted norm.

That’s precisely what’s happening here. When the Patriot Act passed in 2001, it did not lead to the immediate formation of a police state. What it did do was create a framework in which virtually any intrusion into civil liberties could be justified in the name of stopping terrorism. In the intervening 12 years, the courts have steadily widened the rights and powers of various investigatory agencies.

Courts have upheld the government’s argument that you cannot sue the government for warrantless wiretapping unless you can prove you were affected, and then upheld the government’s right not to tell you if it put you under surveillance. Absent a complete cock-up (as happened with warrantless GPS tapping), you have no standing to bring a lawsuit. Now we know Verizon gives the government data on all phone calls, foreign and domestic. PRISM gives the government the right to spy on all US Internet traffic routing through major service providers.

 

Read Full Article Here

 

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Obama deflects criticism over NSA surveillance as Democrats sound alarm

Tech giants object to suggestions that they allowed government direct access to data while details of Prism program emerge

Barack Obama nsa

Obama said Friday privacy concerns also related to private corporations, which he said collect more data than the federal government. Photograph: Evan Vucci/AP

Barack Obama sought to stem the growing controversy over US surveillance program amid signs that a succession of revelations about federal spying on telephone and internet data is causing alarm in some sections of the Democratic party.

At the end of the first day of the his summit with the Chinese premier Xi Jinping in California, the president described disclosures about the National Security Agency’s access to telephone and internet data as “a very limited issue”.

However in comments that appeared more emollient than his remarks earlier in the day, when he criticised “leaks” and “hype” in the media, Obama tried to deflect criticism, saying internet privacy posed “broad implications for our society”. He said privacy concerns also related to private corporations, which he said collect more data than the federal government.

Meanwhile America’s tech giants bristled at the suggestions they had allowed the government direct access to their systems, as suggested by a top secret document prepared by the National Security Agency and published by the Guardian and the Washington Post.

With their credibility about privacy issues in sharp focus, technology companies said to be involved in the program, known as Prism, issued remarkably similar statements. They said they did not allow the government “direct access” to their systems, denied knowledge of the Prism program, and called for greater transparency.

Mark Zuckerberg, the Facebook founder and CEO, said: “Facebook is not and has never been part of any program to give the US or any other government direct access to our servers.” Google and Facebook insisted that they only turned over data when they received a court order, and frequently challenged them.

But the New York Times reported on Saturday that major tech firms, including Google, Facebook and Microsoft, had co-operated with the NSA “at least a bit”.

It said that Facebook and Google – and possibly other companies – discussed with security officials the construction of secure portals, in some cases on the company’s servers, the article said. “Through these online rooms, the government would request data, companies would deposit it and the government would retrieve it,” the Times reported. Twitter is said to have declined to participate.

At the Sunnylands resort in California, Obama disputed the suggestion that recent disclosures had undermined his talks with premier Xi, saying US concerns over hacking alleged to be emanating from China, which the administration hoped to address at the summit, were distinct from the controversy surrounding NSA surveillance programs.

“I think it’s important … to distinguish between the deep concerns we have as a government around theft of intellectual property or hacking into systems that might disrupt those systems – whether it’s our financial systems, our critical infrastructure and so forth versus some of the issues that have been raised around NSA programs,” he said.

The president did not address the Guardian’s latest disclosure of a top-secret presidential order directing senior national security and intelligence officials to draw up a list of potential overseas targets for US cyber-attacks.

 

Read Full Article Here

 

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Environmental

Eight species of wild fish have been detected in aquaculture feed

by Staff Writers
Madrid, Spain (SPX) Apr 27, 2012


This image shows the aquaculture of salmon. Credit: Norsk Havbrukssenter.

Researchers from the University of Oviedo have for the first time analysed a DNA fragment from commercial feed for aquarium cichlids, aquaculture salmon and marine fish in aquariums. The results show that in order to manufacture this feed, eight species of high trophic level fish have been used, some of them coming directly from extractive fisheries.

Aquaculture initially came as an ecological initiative to reduce pressure from fishing and to cover human food needs. However, a problem has emerged: consumers prefer carnivore species, like salmon and cod that require tons of high quality protein for their quick, optimum development.

“If these proteins are obtained from extractive fisheries, aquaculture stops being an alternative to over-fishing and starts contributing to it, turning it into a risk for natural marine ecosystems” Alba Ardura, lead author of the study published in ‘Fisheries Research’ and researcher in the department of Functional Biology at the University of Oviedo told SINC.

The research team analysed a DNA fragment from commercial feed made for aquarium cichlids, aquaculture of salmon and marine fish in aquariums. After removing oil and fat from the feed, DNA sequences were obtained and compared with public databases to identify the species found.

From fish feed samples, supplied by manufacturers and bought in animal shops, researchers identified eight species of wild marine fish that were from high trophic levels in the food chain.

Industrial waste from processing and commercialisation for human consumption of Peruvian anchoveta (Engraulis ringens), European sprat (Sprattus sprattus), Pacific cod (Gadus macrocephalus), whiting (Merlangius merlangus), Atlantic herring (Clupea harengus), Pacific sandlance (Ammodytes personatus), jack mackerel (Trachurus symmetricus), and blue mackerel (Scomber australasicus), allow fish meal for aquaculture fish to be made.

Nonetheless, according to the researcher “some of the species found in this feed are commercialised fresh without being processed and they suspect that they came to the feed directly from extractive fisheries.” This is the case with herring and Pacific sandlance.

The research suggests that aquaculture is partly maintained by fisheries, and aquaculture fishes are fed by wild fish sold “whole” (without being processed) and fresh directly from fishing vessels.

Vegetable proteins, an alternative
“If species from extractive fishing are used to feed farm fish, aquaculture does not help minimise over-fishing” warns the expert who suggests “urgently” revising the composition of aquaculture feed to replace them with other proteins. The aim is to reduce the exploitation of natural fish populations.

Ardura proposes increasing efforts to gain high quality proteins from other sources, such as vegetable proteins, which supplement farmed fish’s nutritional needs. This way they will be able to “minimise the impact of aquaculture on wild populations.”

Ardura, A.; Horreo, J. L.; Hernandez, E.; Jardon, A.; Pola, I. G.; Martinez, J. L.; Garcia-Vazquez, E. “Forensic DNA analysis reveals use of high trophic level marine fish in commercial aquaculture fish meals” Fisheries Research 115: 115-120 DOI: 10.1016/j.fishres.2011.08.011 March 2012.

Related Links
FECYT – Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology
Water News – Science, Technology and Politics

 

Autumn advantage for invasive plants in eastern United States

by Staff Writers
Syracuse, NY (SPX) Apr 27, 2012


Fridley set up an experimental garden on SU’s South Campus that includes groups of native plants and their non-native cousins, such as Japanese honeysuckle (invader) and Canada honeysuckle (native), burning bush (invader) and bursting heart (native), and European buckthorn (invader) and Carolina buckthorn (native).

Much like the fabled tortoise and the hare, the competition between native and invasive plants growing in deciduous forests in the Eastern United States is all about how the plants cross the finish line in autumn.

A new study by a Syracuse University biologist has found that the leaves of invasive plants continue to function in the fall, long after their native cousins have hunkered down for the winter. The findings are counter to conventional wisdom, which held that plants living under the forest leafy canopy obtain most of their food via photosynthesis in the spring and early summer before the canopy blocks the amount of sunlight getting to the shrubs.

The study, “Extended leaf phenology and the autumn niche in deciduous forest invasions,” will be published online in Nature. “It’s a classic case of scientific serendipity,” says study author Jason Fridley, assistant professor of biology in SU’s College of Arts and Sciences.

“We set up the experiment to quantify the amount of photosynthesis happening in the spring when both groups of plants were thought to be most active. But we found it was all about the finish. This was totally off of everybody’s radar.”

Many of the plants growing naturally under the forest canopy in the eastern United States, including New York, Pennsylvania and New England, are closely related to those that have been imported for more than 100 years, primarily from Europe, China and Japan, for cultivation in home gardens. The imported plants have invaded the surrounding forests and thrived. Scientific research is focused on uncovering strategies the invaders use that make them so successful.

Fridley set up an experimental garden on SU’s South Campus that includes groups of native plants and their non-native cousins, such as Japanese honeysuckle (invader) and Canada honeysuckle (native), burning bush (invader) and bursting heart (native), and European buckthorn (invader) and Carolina buckthorn (native). His research team monitored the plants for three years, recording when the leaves burst, turned brown and dropped.

They also used devices to measure leaf chlorophyll and photosynthesis throughout the leaf growing and dying seasons.

The research team found little differences between the spring emergence of leaves in native and their non-native cousins, the timing of which for both groups varied in response to spring temperatures. They also found little differences in spring food production between the groups.

Most significantly, the researchers found that the invaders retained their leaves and continued to photosynthesize almost four weeks longer into the fall than their native cousins, which begin shutting down between late August and mid-September.

“The extended leaf activity we found in the invaders is rarely seen in native species that inhabit deciduous forests,” Fridley says. “However, the data don’t tell us whether this is the primary strategy invasive plants use to compete with native species.”

The plants in the study have had separate evolutionary histories since at least the Pleistocene Age (11,400 to 2 million years ago). Climate conditions over the North American continent were colder with more ice coverage than Asia, Fridley says. Native species responded to the shorter growing seasons by pulling nitrogen from their leaves to store in the stems, causing the leaves to turn brown and fall off.

“Invaders don’t appear to store as much nitrogen,” Fridley says. “Their leaves fall off with a higher nitrogen content. It may be that the invasive species are better suited a warming climate.”

Which begs the question of how the invaders gain back in the spring the nitrogen that falls to the forest floor in the fall. “One hypothesis,” Fridley says, “is that invaders evolved by depending on earthworms to decompose the leaves, making nitrogen available in the spring for the plants.” Native plants did not evolve with earthworms because native earthworms did not survive glaciation.

“Eurasian earthworms invaded North America at some point in the past,” Fridley says. “It’s conceivable that having co-evolved with earthworms, the invaders would devise a nutrient-use strategy that was not dependent on re-absorbing the nutrients from the leaves.”

The larger question for scientists is, how does an increase in the amount of nutrient-rich leaf litter affect the overall forest-floor ecosystem? “It’s possible the extended growing season of non-native shrubs in deciduous forests may be a major driver of human-induced ecosystem change in eastern North America that may rival climate change in its impact on forest processes,” Fridley says.

Related Links
Syracuse University
Farming Today – Suppliers and Technology

 

 

 

Dolphins are Mysteriously Dying Around the World

By Eddie Sage on 27 April 2012

 

Since January, dead dolphins have washed ashore in Peru, the death toll reaching a staggering 877. Scientists are still trying to explain the bizarre deaths, and their best prediction at the moment is that its due to a virus outbreak or acoustic trauma.

Environmental authorities are investigating the deaths of more than 800 dolphins that have washed up on the northern coast of Peru this year.

The dolphins may have died from an outbreak of Morbillivirus or Brucella bacteria, said Peruvian Deputy Environment Minister Gabriel Quijandria, according to Peru’s state-run Andina news agency. Speaking to CNN, he said he expects test results to be ready within the week.

“Right now, the most probable hypothesis is that it’s a virus outbreak,” he said.

Quijandria said Thursday that 877 dolphins have washed up in a 220-kilometer (137-mile) area from Punta Aguja to Lambayeque, in the north of the country.

More than 80% of those dolphins were found in an advanced state of decomposition, making it difficult to study their deaths, according to Andina.

Earlier last week, the Peruvian government put together a panel from different ministries to analyze a report by the Peruvian Sea Institute (IMARPE). Officials have been able to conclude that the dolphins’ deaths were not due to lack of food, interaction with fisheries, poisoning with pesticides, biotoxin poisoning or contamination by heavy metals.

“When you have something this large, my gut would tell me that there’s something traumatic that happened,” Sue Rocca, a marine biologist with the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society, told CNN. She floated a number of number of possibilities as to what could have killed the animals, including acoustic trauma, but concluded that investigators just don’t know yet. “More investigation needs to be done,” she said.

More then 200 Dolphins have beached themselves on Manila Bay, Philippines

 

Read Full Article Here

 
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Cyber Space

Cybersecurity bill passes despite concerns about personal data protection

By Deirdre Walsh

Ignoring a veto threat from the White House, the House passed legislation Thursday designed to protect communications networks from cyberattacks.

The vote was 248-168.

But even as the House bill moves forward, privacy concerns about granting government agencies access to personal information transmitted on the Internet could prove to be a major obstacle to any new cybersecurity law.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers, R-Michigan and a former FBI agent, said he spent the last year working on the bill because the national security risk to the United States posed by cyberattacks is one, “we are just not prepared to handle.”

“We needed to stop the Chinese government from stealing our stuff. We needed to stop the Russians from what they’re doing to our networks and people’s personal information data and resources,” Rogers said on the House floor on Thursday. “We needed to prepare for countries like

Iran and North Korea so that they don’t do something catastrophic to our networks here in America and cause us real harm to real people.”

The House bill, called the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act, was drafted by Rogers and the committee’s top Democrat, Maryland Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger.  It sets up a voluntary system for private companies to share information about any threats or attacks on their networks with U.S. national security agencies. It also gives some liability protections to those companies in return for cooperating with the government.

While the Obama administration and many congressional Democrats agree the United States needs to respond to cyberthreats, they and many outside civil liberties advocates say the House bill fails to sufficiently guard personal information.  They worry the new rules allowing Internet companies to share information with the National Security Agency could give unfettered access by the intelligence community to data about any individual surfing the Web or sending e-mail.

In its statement opposing the bill and promising a veto, the administration on Wednesday said, “Cybersecurity and privacy are not mutually exclusive.”

In a reference to the George Orwell book that described a society in which government was eavesdropping on its citizens, Rep Hank Johnson, D-Georgia, said during Thursday’s debate, “I know it’s 2012 but it still feels like 1984 in the House today.”

But House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, argued the administration’s insistence on specific standards and broader limitations on how much personal information can be shared goes too far.

“The White House believes the government ought to control the Internet; the government ought to set standards and the government ought to take care of everything that’s needed for cybersecurity. They’re in a camp all by themselves,” Boehner said

Read Full Article Here

 

 

CISPA Passes The House: What You Need to Know

By Ian Paul, PCWorld    Apr 27, 2012 7:39 AM

The U.S. House of Representatives passed the Cyber Information and Security Protection Act late Thursday despite concerns over user privacy, the specter of SOPA/PIPA, and a veto threat from the Obama administration. The idea behind CISPA is to empower the government and corporations to work together to better protect American infrastructure from foreign attacks. But many civil liberties groups say the bill is too broad and threatens user privacy.

The Center for Democracy and Technology said it is “disappointed that CISPA passed the House in such flawed form.” And the Electronic Frontier Foundation condemned the vote, saying it “would allow companies to bypass all existing privacy law to spy on communications and pass sensitive user data to the government.”

There’s little doubt that online security is a serious issue for large corporations. Recent reports of online security breaches have involved such high-profile targets as Google, security firm RSA, Verisign, and credit card processing company Global Payments. But whether CISPA is the right legislation to tackle those concerns is hotly debated.

So what is CISPA? Should you be concerned about this legislation? Here’s what you need to know.

What Does CISPA Do?

CISPA allows the government to share classified information about security threats with select American companies. These corporations can then use that information to better protect their infrastructure such as computer networks containing intellectual property and trade secrets. The bill also allows corporations to share information relating to cyber security with the authorities and protects those companies against privacy lawsuits. Critics say an Internet Service Provider would be free to share a customer’s private communications such as e-mail and instant messages without a court order if the information related to a cyber security concern.

CISPA allows this information to be used not only to protect against cyber attacks, but also to protect individuals from bodily harm, protect children from sexual exploitation, and for general American national security.

[RELATED: How To Encrypt Your E-Mail]

CISPA would shield companies from privacy-related lawsuits brought by customers. And corporations could share information relating to cyber security with each other without fear of the government bringing an antitrust suit against them.

 

Read Full Article Here

 

Which Facebook Apps Steal Your Data (and How to Stop Them)

Analysis: Wonder how much of your personal data Facebook apps like Cityville or Words With Friends are sucking down? PrivacyScore has the answer.

By Dan Tynan, ITworld    Apr 27, 2012 12:39 pm

The biggest privacy problem with Facebook isn’t Facebook itself, it’s Facebook’s apps. There are more than 500,000 games, puzzles, quizzes and other time wasters in the Facebook platform, many of which exist for the sole purpose of sucking data out of your account. Worse, these apps not only can access your information, they can also grab data from your friends’ profiles, depending on their privacy settings. Thank you, obnoxious Farmville fans.

Facebook establishes limits about what data apps can access and what they can do with it, but they don’t appear terribly motivated to enforce those rules. For example, in October 2010, ten popular Facebook apps were found to be slurping up user data in direct violation of Facebook’s own terms. In response, Facebook removed some of those apps on a Friday, then reinstated them on the following Monday.

Now you can take matters into your own hands and find out who the real data vampires are. PrivacyScore from PrivacyChoice is a Chrome plug in that rates how each app deals with your data on a scale from 0 to 100. It can also do the same for Web sites. You can view these scores on the Web, on Facebook or, if you’ve installed the Chrome extension, by clicking the PS icon in the browser bar when you install an app.

 

 

Read Full Article Here

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Survival / Sustainability

Swapping lawn for fruit: “because you can’t eat grass”

Uploaded by on Oct 9, 2009

Cloverdale, California resident Patty Silva Hicks talks about ripping out her front lawn to plant fruit trees, both to save water, as well as, money on organic fruit.
Original story here: http://faircompanies.com/videos/view/swapping-lawn-for-fruit-because-you-cant…
A follow up video 9 months later: http://faircompanies.com/videos/view/you-cant-eat-grass-an-edible-yard-9-mont…

 

You can’t eat grass: an edible yard, 9 months later

Uploaded by on Jun 30, 2010

Nine months after Patty Silva-Hicks tore out her front lawn to plant fruit trees and produce, she shows us how her garden grows. She’s eating her yard (cherries, plums, avocado and chard), but it’s also surprisingly attractive with touches like lettuce and pepper hedgerows. Original story from 2009: http://faircompanies.com/videos/view/swapping-lawn-for-fruit-because-you-cant…

 

 

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Activism

Anti-logging activist shot dead in Cambodian forest

by Staff Writers
Phnom Penh (AFP) April 26, 2012


Chhut Vuthy, president of the Natural Resource Conservation Group.

A prominent Cambodian activist was fatally shot in a remote forest Thursday while documenting illegal logging in a clash that also killed a military police officer, authorities said.

Chhut Vuthy, president of the Natural Resource Conservation Group, was escorting two female reporters from a Cambodian newspaper when a dispute erupted, said Kheng Tito, spokesman for the national military police.

“There was a shooting incident when there was a clash between military police on duty to protect the forest and an environmental team, leading to the deaths of activist Chhut Vuthy and a military police official,” he told AFP.

Vuthy, 43, and one military police officer received gun shot wounds in the incident in a forest in southwestern Koh Kong province and died shortly afterwards in hospital.

Koh Kong provincial military police chief, Thong Narong, confirmed the deaths but details of the incident remain unclear and officials were unable to say how the dispute escalated and who had fired the shots.

Vuthy, who received military police training, was known to carry arms, activists told AFP.

Kheng Tito said the two reporters from the English-language Cambodia Daily, one Cambodian and one Ukrainian, would be questioned.

Kevin Doyle, the paper’s editor-in-chief, confirmed to AFP that both women were unharmed but said he was unable to give further details of the incident at this stage.

A military police source in the province said the row appeared to have erupted when the officer tried to confiscate a camera memory stick from the team.

“Vuthy was a long-time activist on forestry issues,” said Ou Virak, president of the Cambodian Centre for Human Rights. “He was a very brave man.”

Land disputes, including forced evictions and protests against illegal logging, have been on the rise in recent years in Cambodia and have become increasingly violent although they rarely result in deaths.

Over the last six months local human rights group Licadho documented five shooting incidents involving land activists, causing 19 injuries, though the last death was in April 2010.

Environmental groups and human rights campaigners have long accused the Cambodian government of selling off land to the highest bidder.

Related Links
Forestry News – Global and Local News, Science and Application

 

 

On May Day, Expect Scores of Rallies, Marches, Creative Actions

A strike, if it actually happens on May 1 or thereafter, may not look like one ever has before.
 

Photo Credit: occupymay1st.org

An Occupy Wall Street organizer I know — one of the original ones, from the planning meetings before the occupation began last September 17 — has a striking banner atop his Facebook Timeline. It’s from the History Channel series Life After People, an artist’s rendition of a cityscape after which all the humans in it somehow disappear. It’s quiet, and still, with trees growing out from the sides of crumbling towers.

To say that this image has anything to do with the movement’s plans for May 1, which the person who posted it is involved in making, might cause both paranoid-style right-wing radio hosts and the most anarcho- of primitivists to froth a bit at the mouth. And so they should. Ever since the idea of working toward May Day started catching on in Occupy Wall Street last January, it has been infused with the impulse of creating the vision of a radically different kind of city.

The visionary impulse, however, has also mixed with things more mundane. Over the course of the May Day planning process in New York, in at least two meetings each week, OWS organizers have been patiently patching together an historic joint rally and march with labor unions, immigrants’ rights groups and community organizations, many of which were invited to participate in the planning process since the beginning.

Read Full Article Here

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[In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit, for research and/or educational purposes. This constitutes ‘FAIR USE’ of any such copyrighted material.]

Environmental

Eyeless Shrimp and Fish With Tumors: The Horrific Consequences of BP’s Spill

Despite mounting environmental and health consequences, not to mention the death of 11 workers, no executives have received jail time.
April 18, 2012  |

Marine Photo Bank / Flickr Creative Commons
Photo Credit: Marine Photo Bank / Flickr Creative Commons

Almost two full years after the BP oil spill, a panel of experts gathered at the 17th annual Tulane Environmental Law Summit, to present the continuing impacts of the BP Oil Spill. That spill began with the April 20th, 2010 explosion of the Deepwater Horizon drilling unit used by BP 40 miles off the Louisiana coast. Eleven men lost their lives. The resulting spill of oil into the Gulf of Mexico stands as the largest oil spill in U.S. history and the second largest environmental disaster in this country to date besides the nearly decade-long Dust Bowl of the 1930s. Scientists at the summit presented recent photographs of shrimp with no eyes and fish with cancerous tumors born long after the gulf was declared “safe” for fishing.

Read Full Article Here

Monsanto taking over global agriculture

Published on Apr 18, 2012 by

Monsanto has been on a mission to control US agriculture. With the help of politicians and regulation agencies, the biotechnology company has been putting many farmers out of business. Many critics of the company believe it is the right of the people to know if they are consuming genetically-modified food. Jeffrey Smith, author of Seeds of Deception, joins us with more on the Monsanto.

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Cyber Space

CISPA gets a rewrite but still threatens Americans’ privacy

Foes of controversial legislation rally before expected vote next week, with scant success so far: latest draft still allows Internet companies to share customer data and communications with the National Security Agency.

by

New revisions to a proposed federal cybersecurity law still would permit Internet companies to hand over confidential customer records and communications to the National Security Agency.

A recent torrent of criticism prompted the politicians behind the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act to circulate a revised version (PDF) of CISPA this evening before an expected floor vote next week. But the authors made only relatively minor tweaks.

The legislation remains so broad that the NSA could vacuum up “all sorts of sensitive information like Internet use information and the contents of e-mails,” ACLU legislative counsel Michelle Richardson told CNET.

CISPA is experiencing a milder form of the same kind of Internet backlash that doomed the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and Protect IP early this year.

Advocacy groups, including the American Library Association, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and the libertarian-leaning TechFreedom, launched a “Stop Cyber Spying” campaign today — complete with a write-your-congresscritter-via-Twitter app — and the bill has now drawn the ire of Anonymous. A letter (PDF) sent today by more than two dozen organizations, including the Republican Liberty Caucus, urges a “no” vote on CISPA, and more than 669,000 people have signed an anti-CISPA Web petition.

Read Full Article Here

Anonymous downs Home Office site for second time

By , ZDNet UK

NEWS

Anonymous has brought down the Home Office website for the second time, even though the department had prior warning of the hacking collective’s campaign of weekend attacks.

Anonymous logo

Hackers connected to Anonymous brought down the Home Office website for the second time in a matter of days. Image credit: Anonymous

A flood of traffic sent to Homeoffice.gov.uk led to intermittent outages on Saturday, but did not compromise internal systems, the government department said on Monday.

“The site was temporarily unavailable,” a Home Office spokeswoman told ZDNet UK. “The site was targeted by a distributed denial-of-service attack, and was flooded by the volume of traffic.”

Last weekend, the Anonymous group launched its Operation Trial at Home (OpTrialatHome) campaign to protest the extradition treaty the UK has with the US. NASA hacker Gary McKinnon, TVShack website operator Stephen O’Dwyer and Christopher Tappin have been affected by the treaty, which critics see as unbalanced.

Those attacks took down the websites run by the prime minister’s office and the Ministry of Justice, as well as the Home Office. Anonymous activists were successful for a second time in a matter of days because they varied their attack, the Home Office said in a statement on Monday.

“DDoS attacks are a difficult problem to tackle,” the government department said. “The threat environment is changing constantly, with hacktivists using different tools and techniques to frustrate existing defences.”

One of the hacktivists behind the UK Anonymous 2012 Twitter feed declined to tell ZDNet UK which attack tools the group had used at the weekend.

Read Full Article Here

April 18, 2012 | By Katitza Rodriguez

The Impending Cybersecurity Power Grab – It’s not just for the United States

EFF, OpenMedia.ca, CIPPIC and a number of civil society organizations have declared this to be ‘Stop Cyber Spying Week’ in protest of several controversial U.S. cybersecurity legislative proposals, including the bill currently before Congress and the Senate called CISPA, the Cyber Intelligence Sharing & Protection Act of 2011. While ‘Stop Cyber Spying Week’ is focused on U.S. initiatives, Canadians should be concerned as well as the adoption of a privacy-invasive U.S. cybersecurity strategy is likely to have serious implications for Canadian civil liberties. For this reason, Canadian civil society groups have joined the protest. In general, Canadians would do well to remain vigilant.

Using the guise of ‘cybersecurity’, CISPA aims to mobilize Internet intermediaries to institute a sweeping, privacy-invasive, voluntary information-sharing regime with few safeguards. The U.S. cybersecurity strategy, embodied in CISPA and other legislative proposals, also seeks to empower Internet companies to deploy ill-defined ‘countermeasures’ in order to combat these threats. Use of these powers is purportedly limited to situations addressing ‘cybersecurity’ threats, yet this term is so loosely defined that it can encompass almost anything – even, potentially, to investigate potential breaches of intellectual property rights!

The cornerstone of the privacy-invasive CISPA component is the establishment of private-public partnerships for information sharing. This creates a two-tiered regime that, on the one hand, facilitates the collection of personal Internet data by private Internet companies as well as the sharing of that information with the government and, on the other, allows government agencies to share information with private companies.

Read Full Article Here

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Survival / Sustainability

completed soapIf you have never made your own soap before, this the first of a two-part lesson.It is soap making for the total beginner. I have been making soap for years and recently decided to try to develop a recipe for a reliable batch of soap using ingredients I can easily obtain, instead of ordering exotic oils by mail.I am guessing this would make it easier for other people who are curious about making soap but don’t know how to begin.

Traditionally, people used a combination of wood ash and lard to make soap. The Soap Factory has an interesting account of the history and chemistry of soap making and the traditional methods of rendering fat and obtaining potash from wood ash.  I applaud the homesteader who chooses to make soap using materials at hand and traditional methods.  Those of us who want to make things easier need to purchase their materials. In place of wood ash we can easily find lye at any hardware store.  The oils are more difficult.  Many homemade soap recipes use coconut oil, palm oil and olive oil as the base ingredients. Soap made from these oils is nice and hard, it lathers well and it is soothing to the skin. The problem for me is that it is not that easy to find hydrogenated (solid at room temperature) coconut oil and palm oil where I live. When I am going to make a large quantity of soap, like many batches for holiday gifts, I don’t mind ordering oils by the mail from Columbus Foods.  They have a  “Soaper’s Choice area of their website with just about any exotic oil you could want in quantities as small as 7 pounds.  For smaller and one-time batches, this is not practical.  You can’t store oil for long periods of time because it gets rancid, especially in my very hot (in the summer) Chicago home. I thought maybe other people have avoided making soap due to the difficulty of obtaining supplies. Also, some people do not want to use palm oil because of  environmental concerns.  I decided to develop a very simple and basic soap recipe for the beginner using supplies you can buy easily.   We still want to make a batch of soap that is hard, produces lather and is gentle to the skin, but we are going to use oils that you can find at the grocery store and pharmacy.

For Part 1 of this soap making tutorial you will gather all of your materials. Next week you can combine them into a batch of soap.

Read Full Article  Here

Last week you gathered your materials and supplies. This week you can finally make your soap!

First, I’d like to remind you about safety. This is a project that uses a very dangerous material. Lye is sold in the drain cleaner department with lots of other nasty chemicals because it heats up to a very high temperature when it gets wet and literally burns through the stuff clogging your pipes.  You do not want to get it on your body or in your mouth or eyes.  You should plan on wearing gloves and eye protection when you are around the lye and make sure it is not anywhere where a child or pet can get near it.  Store the unused lye in a safe spot with other dangerous household chemicals.  You will only be using a few tablespoons of lye for this recipe. While caution needs to be exercised you will not have a giant cauldron of boiling lye to work with.  This is another reason why this is a good batch for the beginner.

Step 1

Measure the oils. Use a small lightweight bowl to measure each oil and add it to the cooking pot. (This should be a no-stick or stainless steel pot.) Measure and pour each oil separately.  If you are not sure how high your scale goes, divide the olive oil into two.  Each time you put the empty bowl on the scale make sure to clear the scale so that it starts at zero before you add anything. Wipe the bowl clean between oils. Measure 13 ounces of corn oil, 23 ounces of olive oil, and 2 sticks of cocoa butter (2 ounces total.) Slice up the cocoa butter first for quicker melting. Put the pan containing the oil on the stove to wait for the next step.

Step 2 lye

Following the safety guidelines, take one empty glass jar and put it on the scale and carefully weigh out 4.8 ounces of lye. You should have newspaper under the scale that you can gather up and throw away when you are done, in case any grains pop out of the jar. In another glass jar pour in 12 liquid ounces of water. Let the water sit until it is room temperature. When it is ready, pour the lye into the water and stir it in using a rubber spatula. Never pour the water into the lye. The lye goes into the water. Protect yourself from the fumes. This is the most dangerous part of the soap making process, when the lye water will quickly heat up to a very high temperature. Stir until the lye is dissolved and plan to revisit the lye water periodically to make sure everything is dissolved. Put it somewhere safe to cool down. If lye gets on you, quickly wash it off. It will sting slightly if it gets on your skin but can blind you if it gets in your eyes.

 Read Full Article Here

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Activism

13 Arrests as Occupy New Haven Camp Closes

The protesters, believed to live in one of the last Occupy encampments in New England, have been in a legal battle with the city.

Wednesday, Apr 18, 2012
13 Arrests as Occupy New Haven Camp Closes
Audrey Washington, NBC Connecticut

New Haven police have made at least six arrests.

Thirteen Occupy New Haven protesters were arrested as police moved them from their camp on the New Haven Green on Wednesday morning.

The city began cleaning up the green on Wednesday afternoon and officials estimate that the cost for cleanup will be $25,000, while the city expects the whole cost associated with the protest will be around $145,000 in taxpayer money.

The city also plans to assess the property to ensure that the trees are healthy because they have not been properly watered.

The deadline for the protesters to leave was 8 a.m. after the group lost its appeal in federal court in New York on Tuesday.

Occupy signs were gone and most of the tents were down before that.

Read Full Article Here

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[In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit, for research and/or educational purposes. This constitutes ‘FAIR USE’ of any such copyrighted material.]

Environmental

Is rainfall a greater threat to China’s agriculture than warming?

by Staff Writers
London, UK (SPX) Apr 05, 2012


File image courtesy AFP.

New research into the impact of climate change on Chinese cereal crops has found rainfall has a greater impact than rising temperature. The research, published in the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture found that while maize is sensitive to warming increases in temperature from 1980 onwards correlated with both higher and lower yields of rice and wheat.

The study was carried by Dr. Tianyi Zhang, from the Institute of Atmospheric Physics, and Dr. Yao Huang, from the Institute of Botany, both at the Chinese Academy of Sciences. The paper is part of a special collection of free articles on the links between climate change, agriculture and the function of plants.

“China has experienced significant climate change over the last century”, said Zhang. “The annual mean air temperature increased by 1.1 degrees C from 1951 to 2001, rainfall in Western China increased by up to 15% per decade and decreased in the North.”

“Projections from climate models predict that mean temperature could rise by 2.3-3.3 degrees C by 2050 while rainfall could increase by 5-7%,” said Huang. “This could have a major impact on China’s agriculture which accounts for 7% of the world’s arable land but feeds about 22% of the global population.”

The authors turned to China’s provincial agricultural statistics and compared the data to climate information from the China Meteorological Administration. They focused their analysis on China’s main cereal crops, rice, which is grown throughout China, as well as wheat and maize, which are mainly grown in the North.

The results show a significant warming trend in China from 1980 to 2008 and that maize is particularly sensitive to warming. However, they also found that rising temperature collated with both higher and lower wheat and rice yields, refuting the thoughts that warming often results in a decline in harvests.

“Of the three cereal crops, further analysis suggested that reduction in yields with higher temperature is accompanied by lower rainfall, which mainly occurred in northern parts of China,” said Zhang. “This suggests it was potentially droughts, relative to warming, that more affected harvest yields in the current climate.”

“It is often claimed that the rising temperature causes a decrease in the yields of Chinese cereal crops, yet our results show that warming had no significant harmful effect on cereal yields especially for rice and wheat at a national scale from 1980 to 2008,” concluded Zhang and Huang. “However, warming may still plays an indirect role, like the exacerbated drought conditions caused by the rising temperatures.”

Iran starts $1-bn project to bring water to desert

by Staff Writers
Tehran (AFP) April 16, 2012

Iran on Monday officially launched a $1-billion first phase of an ambitious project to pump water from the Caspian Sea to a city in its vast and expanding central desert, state media reported.

The initial phase will see a desalination plant and pipes built over the next two years to supply water to the desert city of Semnan, population 200,000, according to officials.

“The desert is growing… therefore we need to control its growth,” President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said in a speech in the northern city of Sari, near the Caspian shore.

The first phase would see water for drinking, irrigation and industrial use taken from the Caspian, treated to rid it of salt, and pumped to Semnan, 150 kilometres (90 miles) away to the south.

The first desalination plant to be built would have a capacity of 200 million cubic metres per year, or 548 million litres a day, according to Energy Minister Majid Namjou.

Khatam al-Anbiya group, the industrial arm of Iran’s powerful military Revolutionary Guards which has interests in key economic sectors, is handling work on the project.

Later, two other phases are planned that would pump more water into desert areas from the Caspian Sea and from the Gulf, the media said.

Iran has operated several other desalination plants for decades for other regions.

Such seawater treatment facilities are also in use in other wealthy and arid Middle East countries, including the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Israel, to augment scarce water supplies.

Related Links
Water News – Science, Technology and Politics

OSCE to help Albania destroy communist-era chemicals


Tirana (AFP) April 17, 2012 – The Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) has signed a deal with Albania to help destroy communist-era chemicals often stored in bad conditions, Tirana said Tuesday.

Under the agreement the OSCE will help Albania’s defence ministry to safely dispose of some 80 tonnes of chemical products kept in army depots.

The project is largely financed by the Czech Republic and Turkey but the OSCE is looking for additional donors, the ministry said.

Albania, which joined NATO in 2009, has also committed itself to destroying some 40,000 tonnes of surplus and out-dated ammunition by next year.

In 2008 a blast in a communist-era ammunition disposal facility in Gerdec killed 26 people and wounded 302. Since the explosion the OSCE presence in Albania stepped up its efforts to help Tirana to dispose of surplus ammunition and dangerous toxic chemicals.

Related Links
Our Polluted World and Cleaning It Up

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Cyber Space

CISPA Monitoring Bill: Changes Proposed, but Unlikely to Pacify Critics

By Jared Newman, PCWorld    Apr 17, 2012 8:49 AM

CISPA Monitoring Bill: Changes Proposed, but Unlikely to Pacify CriticsLawmakers are proposing changes to the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act, or CISPA, that would help prevent the government and businesses from running amok with personal data.

CISPA is an amendment to the National Security Act of 1947 that would allow the U.S. government and businesses to more easily share information about cyberattacks. The government would be able to share what it knows about security threats with businesses, including Web services such as Facebook. Those businesses would be able to share their own information with the government, though doing so would not be mandatory.

(RELATED: Just the Facts on CISPA)

Critics, such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation and American Civil Liberties Union, have argued that the bill’s broad language opens the door for censorship — for instance, by defining intellectual property theft as a type of cyberattack — and doesn’t put any limits on the sharing of personal data. Also, the bill supersedes any other privacy laws, and information sharing would be exempt from the Freedom of Information Act.

Read Full Article Here

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Survival / Sustainability

 

Long term food storage part 1

Long term food storage part 2

Long term food storage part 3


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Activism

The Landscape of May Day in New York

By Nathan Schneider

An Occupy Wall Street organizer I know — one of the original ones, from the planning meetings before the occupation began last September 17 — has a striking banner atop his Facebook Timeline. It’s from the History Channel series Life After People, an artist’s rendition of a cityscape after which all the humans in it somehow disappear. It’s quiet, and still, with trees growing out from the sides of crumbling towers.

To say that this image has anything to do with the movement’s plans for May 1, which the person who posted it is involved in making, might cause both paranoid-style right-wing radio hosts and the most anarcho- of primitivists to froth a bit at the mouth. And so they should. Ever since the idea of working toward May Day started catching on in Occupy Wall Street last January, it has been infused with the impulse of creating the vision of a radically different kind of city.

The visionary impulse, however, has also mixed with things more mundane. Over the course of the May Day planning process in New York, in at least two meetings each week, OWS organizers have been patiently patching together an historic joint rally and march with labor unions, immigrants’ rights groups and community organizations, many of which were invited to participate in the planning process since the beginning.

The members of this tenuous coalition, however, have refused to demand the impossible together — which is to say, a general strike. Instead, the coalition speaks of “a day without the 99%” and the slogan, “Legalize, Unionize, Organize.” But at just about every other opportunity, people from OWS have been echoing the call for a general strike on May Day, which originated from Occupy Los Angeles’ General Assembly in December. During the April 4 press conference announcing the New York coalition’s plans, the OWS representative avoided saying those words, but after his speech he stripped down to an undershirt with “general strike” scrawled on it in red.

Read Full Article Here

Farmers defend their right to grow food: Appeal filed in family farmers vs. Monsanto case

By Ethan A. Huff, April 15 2012
(NaturalNews) The plaintiffs in a case seeking protection from Monsanto’s predatory patent lawsuits have filed a Notice of Appeal challenging the case’s recent dismissal by Judge Naomi Buchwald of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. The Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association (OSGATA) and dozens of other food freedom advocacy groups and family farmers originally filed the suit on behalf of small growers everywhere in order to defend them against Monsanto’s crusade of…

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Articles of Interest

NaturalNews exclusive: Michigan government unleashes armed raids on small pig farmers, forces farmer to shoot all his own pigs

By Mike Adams, April 16 2012
(NaturalNews) NaturalNews can now confirm that the Michigan Department of Natural Resources has, in total violation of the Fourth Amendment, conducted two armed raids on pig farmers in that state, one in Kalkaska County at Fife Lake and another in Cheboygan County. Staging raids involving six vehicles and ten armed men, DNA conducted unconstitutional, illegal and arguably criminal armed raids on these two farms with the intent of shooting all the farmers’ pigs under a bizarre new “Invasive Species…

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[In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit, for research and/or educational purposes. This constitutes ‘FAIR USE’ of any such copyrighted material.]