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Tag Archive: Environmental


Environmental

 

Thawing permafrost may have led to extreme global warming events

 

by Staff Writers
Sheffield UK (SPX)

 


File image: thawing permafrost.

Scientists analysing prehistoric global warming say thawing permafrost released massive amounts of carbon stored in frozen soil of Polar Regions exacerbating climate change through increasing global temperatures and ocean acidification.

Although the amounts of carbon involved in the ancient soil-thaw scenarios was likely much greater than today, the implications of this ground-breaking study are that the long-term future of carbon deposits locked into frozen permafrost of Polar Regions are vulnerable to climate warming caused as humans emit the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide by burning fossil fuels for energy generation.

Researchers in centres across America, Italy and the University of Sheffield, analyzed a series of sudden, and extreme, global warming events – called hyper thermals – that occurred about 55 million years ago, linked to rising greenhouse gas concentrations and changes in Earth’s orbit, which led to a massive release of carbon into the atmosphere, ocean acidification, and a five degrees Celsius rise in global temperature within just a few thousand years.

It was previously thought that the source of carbon was in the ocean, in the form of frozen methane gas in ocean-floor sediments but now the experts believe the carbon released into the atmosphere millions of years ago came from the Polar Regions.

Professor David Beerling, of the University of Sheffield’s Department of Animal and Plant Sciences, said: “For the first time, we have linked these past global warming events with a climatically sensitive terrestrial carbon reservoir rather than a marine one. It shows that global warming can be amplified by carbon release from thawing permafrost.”

“The research suggests that carbon stored in permafrost stocks today in the Arctic region is vulnerable to warming. Warming causes permafrost thaw and decomposition of organic matter releasing more greenhouse gases back into the atmosphere.

“This feedback loop could accelerate future warming. It means we must arrest carbon dioxide emissions released by the combustion of fossil fuels if humanity wishes to avoid triggering these sorts of feedbacks in our modern world.”

The breakthrough was made through cross-disciplinary collaborations with climate and vegetation modellers, isotope geochemists and permafrost experts led by Rob DeConto at the University of Massachusetts, in collaboration with the University of Sheffield, Yale, the University of Colorado, Penn State, and the University of Urbino, Italy.

Rob DeConto added: “Similar dynamics are at play today. Global warming is degrading permafrost in the north Polar Regions, unlocking once-frozen carbon and methane and releasing it into the atmosphere. This will only exacerbate future warming in a positive feedback loop.”

The temperature of Earth’s atmosphere is a result of energy input from the sun minus what escapes back into space. Carbon dioxide in the atmosphere absorbs and traps heat that would otherwise return to space.

The global warming events were accompanied by a massive input of carbon to the atmosphere plus ocean acidification, and were characterized by a global temperature rise of about five degrees Celsius within a few thousand years.

Until now, scientists have been unable to account for the massive amounts of carbon required to cause such dramatic global warming events and Antarctica, which on today’s Earth is covered by kilometres of ice, has not been appreciated as an important player in such global carbon dynamics.

The research is published in the journal Nature.

 

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Cyber Space

 

Internet can help, not start, democracy

 

by Staff Writers
Columbus, Ohio (UPI)

 


disclaimer: image is for illustration purposes only

The use of the Internet to promote democracy is most effective in countries already enacting reforms to move in that direction, U.S. researchers say.

The common assumption that the Internet played a major role leading to democratic revolutions in the Arab world and elsewhere is likely an exaggeration, they said.

“Instead of the Internet promoting fundamental political change, it seems to reinforce political change in countries that already have at least some level of democratic freedoms,” researcher Erik Nisbet, a professor of communication at Ohio State University, said.

“Internet use is a less effective means to mobilize citizens for democracy in extremely authoritarian countries,” he said in an OSU release Wednesday.

Demand for democracy is highest in countries where more people are connected to the Internet, the researches said, and in countries where Internet users spend more time on the Web.

“Internet penetration in a country matters in terms of how much people want democratic reforms, but it is even more important that people are spending greater amounts of time on the Internet and that they are connected to other people in their community,” study co-author Elizabeth Stoycheff said.

The researchers analyzed data on 28 countries in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia that evaluated how much the citizens in each country demanded democracy and their frequency of Internet use.

Some countries have the right political and technological mix for the Internet to play a role in social and political change, the researchers said, but countries with highly authoritarian regimes are not likely to see democracy flourishing anytime soon regardless of use of the Internet.

“Our results suggest that the Internet can’t plant the seed of democracy in a country,” Nisbet said. “However, the Internet may help democracy flourish if it has already started to grow.”

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Survival / Sustainability

 

Useful lessons learned from the Great Depression

 

by M.D. Creekmore


This is a guest post and entry in our non-fiction writing contest  by MtWoman

(Note: the numbers in certain places are references to the links and info provided at the end.)

Recently, there was a discussion here on the SBlog (as I like to call it) about what knowledge and wisdom our parents and grandparents may have to share with us from their experiences during the depression. I decided to “interview” my father on the subject, using the specific questions that Hunker-Down and Bam-Bam proposed, and expanding from there using my own questions.

It was a very good experience for me. My father is a tough German man, and is seldom open to such things, especially because having to ‘think back’ reveals to him how his memory is failing. But I was gentle and patient and this time he opened up quite a bit. I learned a lot about him, other members of our family, and myself. Discussing my family of origin, and what their lives were like has given me a better understanding of how I am, and what life was like ‘back then’…and what I can do to ‘prep’ for my own future. I’ll share with you here what I found out.

First a little history:

It seems that my father, who was born in 1925, making him 4 years old when the market crashed at the start of the Depression, didn’t have a very hard time of it, really.

His parents were German immigrants, who had been “sponsored” (1) by some other family members to come to the US. In those days, immigrants had to be “sponsored” for a year, which meant someone vouched that you would not become a “burden to society” and they would cover your financial needs until a job was found. There were other requirements, like taking the “umlaut” (those two little dots over some letters) off your name if you had one, which my grandparents had to do. My grandfather came over first (1922), and my grandmother came a year later. They were married here in the US in 1924.

When my father was born and through his childhood, my grandfather worked, and my grandmother was a housewife. They had a small house in Minnesota (one of my most favorite places to go in the summer as a kid). It had a couple of bedrooms, a kitchen, a ‘sitting’ room, and – my favorite – a screened in front porch where I would sleep on a cot sometimes in the Summer, and watch the train go by on the tracks just across the street.

There was electricity in the house and running water and ‘flush’ toilets. They had an apple tree, a good garden, and a ‘cellar’…a space under the house with a hardened dirt floor. I remember there being bushel baskets of root vegetables down there and some jars on shelves. My grandfather had some barrels at the corners of the eaves of the garage which gathered rain water. Their house was 1-2 miles from downtown…..

 

Read The  Full Article Here

 

 

How much water is enough?

 

by M.D. Creekmore


This is a guest post by Tom Sciacca of CampingSurvival.com Yes .

If you like food as much as I do, it’s hard to imagine that our body can actually go weeks without food. It wouldn’t be fun, of course, but it can be done. But without water, our bodies can get into serious trouble quickly – just a matter of days before dehydration can set in. So why is it that many people keep lots of extra food stored in their houses, but neglect to store any water?

This subject came to mind recently when my cousin told me about having to endure a power outage with no drinkable water. Since power outages often impact water treatment facilities, tap water can be unsafe for drinking. The situation was made worse by the fact that her child had vomiting and diarrhea, which meant that there was an even greater need for drinking water, as well as water for cleaning, sanitation and hand washing.

For instance, a mixture of water and chlorine bleach would have greatly assisted in sanitizing around her child, helping to ensure that others didn’t also get sick. And obviously, you wouldn’t want to clean up after such a mess without being able to thoroughly wash your hands. (As a dad, I know that’s NOT fun!) Finally, water for food preparation is a supply you’ll need over and above what you plan to drink.

Now if you look at the conventional wisdom out on the internet, you’ll find guidelines such as the following:….

 

Read Full Article Here

 

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Activism

 

The Wonderful, Unpredictable Life of the Occupy Movement

 

By Arun Gupta, Truthout

Occupy Wall StreetOccupy Wall Street demonstration on March 15, 2012. (Photo: Sunset Parkerpix)

I met Nomi on a bus in Baltimore. She was from Wisconsin and had been involved with Occupy Wall Street. She was part of Occupy Judaism and fondly recalled the Yom Kippur services she attended at the Wall Street occupation with hundreds of other people. Nomi said that, for the first time, she and her friends felt like they could combine the religious and radical dimensions of Judaism. The conversation fell silent as the bus rolled along. Suddenly she turned to me and excitedly announced that she met her girlfriend at Liberty Plaza. I smiled and responded, “That’s why Occupy Wall Street matters.”

By enabling people to find fulfillment in all parts of their lives, whether romantic, spiritual, political or cultural, the Occupy movement is more than a movement. It is life-changing. People experience themselves as complete social beings, not just as angry, alienated protesters. Nomi said she was no longer involved in the movement, which I thought was more evidence of why the actual occupations were so important.

The emergence of every mass movement makes sense in hindsight, but no one could have predicted hundreds of occupations and thousands of groups would pop up across the United States just weeks after a ragged encampment secured a tenuous foothold on Wall Street last September. Sure, anger was boiling over prior to the takeover of Zuccotti Park in downtown Manhattan, but the occupation crystallized who is to blame for the economic crisis and who are the legitimate people. Anyone could walk into the public space, share their stories, find people with similar grievances and help build micro-societies. Occupy wasn’t just a rejection of Washington and Wall Street. It revealed the failings of liberals, unions and the left. New activists didn’t first have to master volumes of social and cultural theory, attend grueling anti-oppression workshops and learn how to pepper their comments with academic jargon before joining. Nor did the movement require consultants, focus groups or polling to occupy the center of American politics with a radical left message. And the form was not the same old rallies with canned chants, pre-printed protest signs and preaching to the choir.

It’s worth considering why Occupy Wall Street was such a smashing success last fall, as well as where it is headed. While the media lens has shifted away, Occupy has spawned a menagerie of energized movements and ambitious plans. Veteran organizer David Solnit, who is involved with Bay Area Occupy movements, sums up the current state: “The numbers showing up at GAs have dropped. Any movement has its mass mobilization and its in-between times. The organizing a lot of people are doing around housing and education are less visible but go much deeper. We need a better measuring tape than numbers and public space and whether it’s amplified through media owned by the 1 percent.”

Like plants that lay dormant for the winter conserving energy, many occupations are blossoming anew with ambitious plans now that it’s spring. Solnit says in San Francisco the movement is defending a dozen families in foreclosure, and is working toward a citywide moratorium on bank foreclosures and evictions. In Los Angeles, organizers say May Day plans include large-scale marches by immigrants and unions, rolling street blockades and even an attempt to disrupt the main airport. In New York and around the country, a campaign has been launched called “F the Banks” to force the government to dismantle Bank of America, which is still receiving taxpayer subsidies. In Chicago, after the G8 summit set for May was moved to Camp David because of fear of large-scale protests, activists are moving forward with large-scale demonstrations to coincidence with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) meeting the same month.

Challenging the status quo comes with costs. As the Occupy movement struggles to effect radical social change, it faces persistent police attacks and co-optation by Democratic Party forces from the outside and divisions over identity politics, militancy, localism and diffusion from the inside.

Read Full Article Here

 

 

Writer fled China to ‘publish book’ on dissident

by Staff Writers
Hong Kong (AFP) April 6, 2012

 

A Chinese dissident who wrote a book critical of the country’s leadership has said he fled into exile after being warned against publishing a biography of a jailed Nobel laureate.

Yu Jie, a writer who in 2010 published “Wen Jiabao: China’s Best Actor” despite threats of jail time, fled to Washington with his family in January after he was “subjected to torture” and faced restrictions on publishing.

In an interview aired Friday on Hong Kong broadcaster RTHK, Yu said that his decision to flee Beijing was also prompted by his urge to pursue a book project on fellow dissident Liu Xiaobo, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2010.

“The secret police told me I will be jailed if the book is published,” he said.

“(I fled)… to make sure the biography can be published overseas,” the 38-year-old told RTHK without saying when the book will be released.

He described the decision to flee as “painful” and said he believed he would not be able to return to Beijing within the next five years.

The writer said he had been warned against criticising the Communist Party or speaking out against China abroad.

Yu has previously said he came under tighter surveillance after Liu won the Nobel Prize.

He has also complained that he was forbidden from publishing or practicing his religion. He is a member of a Protestant church which is not authorised by the Chinese government.

Liu, 56, is the only Nobel Peace Prize winner in prison. He wrote a bold manifesto for democracy called Charter 08 and was jailed for 11 years for subversion on Christmas Day 2009.

Human rights groups frequently voice concern about Chinese dissidents who remain in the country including prominent rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng.

Gao, who has defended some of China’s most vulnerable people including Christians and coal miners, was detained in February 2009 and had been held largely incommunicado by authorities except for a brief release in March 2010.

Gao’s brother said last week that was allowed to meet with him in a remote jail for the first time in nearly two years, allaying fears for his well-being.

China rights couple hear trial verdict on Tuesday
Beijing (AFP) April 7, 2012 – The verdict in the trial of rights activists Ni Yulan and her husband will be announced on Tuesday, a year after the couple were detained amid growing unrest in China, their daughter said Saturday.

Ni and Dong Jiqin, who have long helped victims of government-backed land grabs, were detained in April last year as authorities rounded up scores of activists amid online calls for protests similar to those in the Arab world.

In a brief December trial they were charged with “picking quarrels, provoking trouble and willfully destroying private and public property” — charges lawyers and supporters say were trumped up to silence them.

“Our lawyer told me the verdict will be read by the Beijing Western District court on Tuesday morning,” daughter Dong Xuan, 27, told AFP.

“They are not guilty and should be released, but I fear that my mother will be sentenced to at least three years as a repeat offender. I am hoping that my father will be released for time served.”

The couple’s lawyer last visited them in February, she said. Ni, 51, remains ill and is suffering from fever, a swollen neck and has trouble speaking.

Ni spent much of the trial lying on a bed in the courtroom due to her poor health and needed a respirator to breathe.

The couple have provided legal assistance to numerous families around China who have been forcibly evicted from their homes in government-backed land requisitions, a major cause of unrest in China.

Their battle to oppose the land grabs began in 2001 after their courtyard home in central Beijing was requisitioned and marked for demolition.

Trained as a lawyer, Ni was sentenced to a year in jail in 2002 for “obstructing official business,” and for two years in 2008 for “harming public property” — charges brought against her as she tried to protect her home.

She was also disbarred in 2002.

In January, Dong Xuan was barred by police from leaving China to collect a 100,000-euro (131,000) human rights award for her mother in the Netherlands.

She says she remains under police surveillance.

Ni’s case has been championed by numerous Western governments, including the United States and the European Union, which sent representatives to meet with her during her brief period of freedom in 2010.

Related Links
China News from SinoDaily.com

 

 

Day 207: Live Coverage of the Occupy Movement

Josh Harkinson, Special Coverage:

As we enter Day 207 of the Occupy movements the protests have spread not only across the country but all over the globe. Thousands of activists have descended on Wall Street these past weeks as part of the #OccupyWallStreet protest organized by several action groups. What follows is a live video stream and live Twitter feed of this event….

Read Full Article Here

 

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Articles of Interest

 

Bald eagle in crosshairs of US fight over lead bullets

by Staff Writers
Boyce, Virginia (AFP) April 7, 2012

 

The bald eagle that came into wildlife rehabilitator Belinda Burwell’s care last month, just as the hunting season was coming to a close in North America, was a shadow of its former self.

The stiff and wobbly bird clung to life but showed distinct signs of lead poisoning, likely from scavenging the remains of big game left by hunters who killed their prey with lead bullets.

“She couldn’t walk, couldn’t fly,” said Burwell. “If she tried to move, she would fall over, she would stumble.”

Environmental groups say 20 million birds die worldwide each year from eating bits of lead in animal carcasses, because many US hunters use lead ammunition which leaves 3,000 tons of toxic fragments in gut piles and unclaimed kills.

The dangers of lead have been well known for decades, and steps have been taken to prevent human consumption by removing it from paint, gasoline, pipes, children’s jewelry and more.

A ban on hunters’ use of lead shot for killing waterfowl was passed in the United States in the early 1990s because birds were being poisoned by ingesting the pieces that fell into waterways and ponds.

But the question of whether to do the same for hunters on land has thrust the eagle, the national symbol of America, into a fresh political battle over gun rights and environmental protection.

On one side is the powerful US gun lobby, which disputes science on lead poisoning and insists that any measures to regulate lead ammunition would spell a ban on hunting in all its forms, infringe on gun rights and raise costs.

On the other is a dogged but weary wildlife protection movement that is pressing the Environmental Protection Agency to take steps to regulate the use of lead ammunition in order to protect birds and humans against lead poisoning.

Both have adopted the bald eagle as a symbol of their efforts, with the bird featuring on the cover of the Center for Biological Diversity’s petition to the EPA as well as on the web page of the National Rifle Association.

“This is the last unregulated, widespread distribution of toxic lead into the environment,” said Jeff Miller of the Center for Biological Diversity, which is seeking US federal rules to require non-toxic bullets in hunting and shooting sports.

— Gun-grabbers disguised as nature lovers —

“We know it is getting into the food chain. We also know that humans are eating it and there is no safe level of lead in the human body so it is most certainly a human health issue too.”

Miller said 150 groups in 40 states now support the petition, including hunters, scientists, American Indians, conservationists and veterinarians.

The EPA turned down a similar request for a ban on lead bullets in 2010, saying it did not have the authority to regulate ammunition. However, environmental advocates say the EPA does have the right to regulate components of ammunition.

More than a dozen countries in Europe have banned lead ammunition for hunting waterfowl and Norway, the Netherlands, Denmark and Sweden are among a handful of countries that have totally banned lead bullets.

Germany, Japan and Belgium have passed limited restrictions on their use.

The Peregrine Fund, a nonprofit group in Idaho, has posted online a host of peer-reviewed studies on the effects of lead on wildlife, with some figures showing as many as 10-15 percent of young eagles die each year from lead poisoning.

While the bald eagle is no longer a threatened population in the United States, it and other birds that scavenge like the endangered California Condors, vultures, herons and golden eagles, are among the species most at risk.

One study by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources showed how a lead ballistic tip bullet could fragment into an average of 141 pieces per carcass, reaching as far as 14 inches from the wound (35 cm), indicating a danger for humans who eat meat killed with lead bullets, too.

Pro-gun groups like the National Shooting and Sports Foundation say there is no “sound science” to support a ban.

“If wildlife management decisions become about preventing harm to individuals within a species and not about managing a species itself, then you have essentially made the argument to ban hunting,” said Lawrence Keane, senior vice president of the NSSF.

The NRA has urged Congress to “step in and ensure this restriction never happens,” asserting that the effort is being headed by “gun-grabbers… disguised as nature lovers.”

A House subcommittee in late February approved a bill that would prevent the EPA from taking action on the CBD’s petition, and some senators with ties to sportsmen’s groups are considering the same.

Rick Watson of the Peregrine Fund said switching to copper bullets costs the same as buying a box of premium lead ammunition, about $45 a box, while the cheapest lead ammo can be had for $15.

“Hunters historically and traditionally have been some of the best conservationists this country has had. And given accurate facts we believe the vast majority will choose to use lead-free ammunition because it protects the wildlife they so enjoy,” he said.

Matt Miller, an outdoor writer and hunter, said he switched to copper bullets years ago after learning of the dangers of lead, and is pleased with the results.

“It has not increased the cost of my hunting. The bottom line is if you know your rifle and you shoot it well, a big game hunting trip costs you one bullet.”

Burwell, who has been treating her eagle for three weeks and is ready to release her into the wild on Saturday, said she is not optimistic that the EPA will act.

“With the NRA pushing to prevent any type of regulation, the word on the wildlife side is it will never happen,” she said.

“It depends on who has the most money. Doesn’t it seem sometimes that that is who wins these things?”

Related Links
Darwin Today At TerraDaily.com

 

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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.]

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Environmental

 

Two years later: the oil is still here and so are we

Published on Apr 11, 2012 by

Two years ago the BP drilling disaster began, killing 11 workers and threatening an ecosystem and the unique communities which rely upon it. Musicians, GRN supporters and community members are reminding you that BP’s oil is still affecting the people and places of the Gulf. Despite this fact, neither BP nor DC have taken adequate steps to protect or restore this precious natural resource.

Take action today at http://healthygulf.org

Shot at and around Voodoo Experience 2011 by Greenhouse Collective. See their work at http://www.youtube.com/user/GreenHouseNOLA

Thanks to Portugal. the Man, Dr. John, Ani Difranco, Scott Fujita, Fishbone, Blind Pilot, Bonerama, Honey Island Swamp Band, Zack Smith, Fleur De Tease, Stanton Moore, Sheepdogs, Danny Phillips, John Taylor, Rosina Phillippe, John Michael Rouchel, Helen Gillet, Clint Maedgen, and all who took part.

 

 

The Folly of Big Agriculture:

Why Nature Always Wins

Large-scale industrial agriculture depends on engineering the land to ensure the absence of natural diversity. But as the recent emergence of herbicide-tolerant weeds on U.S. farms has shown, nature ultimately finds a way to subvert uniformity and assert itself.

 

by verlyn klinkenborg

 

In its short, shameless history, big agriculture has had only one big idea: uniformity. The obvious example is corn. The U.S. Department of Agriculture predicts that American farmers — big farmers — will plant 94 million acres of corn this year. That’s the equivalent of planting corn on every inch of Montana. To do that you’d have to make sure that every inch of Montana fell within corn-growing parameters. That would mean leveling the high spots, irrigating the dry spots, draining the wet spots, fertilizing the infertile spots, and so on. Corn is usually grown where the terrain is less rigorous than it is in Montana. But even in Iowa that has meant leveling, irrigating, draining, fertilizing, and, of course, spraying.

You can argue whether uniformity is the result of efficiency or vice versa. But let’s suppose that efficiency is merely the economic expression of uniformity. The point is this: When you see a Midwestern cornfield, you know you’re looking at nature with one idea superimposed upon it. This is far less confusing, less tangled in variation than the nature you find even in the roadside ditches beside a cornfield or in a last scrap of native prairie growing

Rather than change the earth to suit a crop, a reasonable agriculture would diversify crops to suit the earth.

in a graveyard or along an abandoned railroad right-of-way. Nature is puzzling. Corn is stupefying.

Humans have spent a lot of time trying to figure out what the big idea behind nature is. It’s hard to tell, because we live at nature’s pace and within the orb of human abstraction. We barely notice the large-scale differences from year to year, much less the minute ones. But if we could speed up time a little and become a lot more perceptive, we would see that nature’s big idea is to try out life wherever and however it can be tried, which means everywhere and anyhow. The result — over time and at this instant — is diversity, complexity, particularity, and inventiveness to an extent our minds are almost unfitted to conceive.

A reasonable agriculture would do its best to emulate nature. Rather than change the earth to suit a crop — which is what we do with corn and soybeans and a handful of other agricultural commodities — it would diversify its crops to suit the earth. This is not going to happen in big agriculture, because big agriculture is irrational. It’s where we expose — at unimaginable expense — our failure to grasp how nature works. It’s where uniformity is always defeated eventually by diversity and where big agriculture’s ideas of diversity are revealed to be as uniform as ever.

To a uniform crop like corn, farmers have been encouraged to apply a uniform herbicide to kill weeds. Modern corn is genetically engineered to not be killed by the herbicide in ubiquitous use. Mostly, that herbicide has been glyphosate, marketed under the Monsanto trade name Roundup. Farmers have sprayed and over-sprayed billions of gallons of Roundup thanks to an

To broad leaf weeds, Roundup is not the apocalypse. It is simply a modest, temporal challenge.

economic and moral premise: corn good, weeds bad. And yet you can’t help noticing that it has done nothing to stop the endless inventiveness of nature.

To broad leaf weeds and soil microorganisms, Roundup is not the apocalypse. It is simply a modest, temporal challenge, which is why, 15 years after genetically-engineered, Roundup-tolerant crops were widely introduced, it’s no longer working against spontaneous new generations of Roundup-tolerant weeds, especially in cotton fields. This is because research, in nature’s laboratory, never stops. It explores every possibility. It never lacks funding. It is never demoralized by failed experiments. It cannot be lobbied…..

 

 

Read Full Article Here

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Cyber Space

 

ACTA: The State of Play in the US

In the last few weeks, we’ve seen surprising and significant developments with the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) in both the US and the EU. As we’ve noted before, ACTA is a plurilateral agreement designed to broaden and extend existing intellectual property enforcement laws to the Internet. In both process and in substance, it is a deeply undemocratic initiative that has bypassed checks and balances of existing international IP norm-setting bodies, without any meaningful input from national parliaments, policymakers, or their citizens.

This is the first in a series of posts detailing the current state of play. Today, we’re reviewing recent U.S. developments and what we and others are doing to highlight the illegitimacy of this controversial agreement. In February, EFF submitted a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to the U.S. State Department, seeking a copy of the “Circular 175” memorandum for ACTA, and the accompanying Memorandum of Law – key documents regarding the constitutionality of ACTA.  The State Department is due to respond tomorrow.

The U.S. Trade Ambassador, Ronald Kirk, signed ACTA in October 2011 at a much-heralded ceremony in Tokyo. However, that does not necessarily mean that ACTA is a done deal in the U.S. Whether ACTA is now binding on the U.S. government, and whether Congress should have any role in reviewing ACTA, continue to be much-debated questions. Several U.S. Congressional representatives have recently taken action to highlight the unusually secretive process used to negotiate ACTA as compared to other IP agreements, and the particular efforts that were taken to evade normal Congressional review of the agreement.

Since 2008, the U.S. Trade Representative’s Office (USTR) has repeatedly stated that ACTA was negotiated as a “sole executive agreement” under the President’s power to conclude agreements regarding matters delegated to the President under Article II of the U.S. Constitution, and therefore does not need to be put before Congress for review and approval. That view has been criticized by leading U.S. Constitutional Law professors on several occasions (see here, here, and here, and our views).

As Senator Ron Wyden pointed out in his letter to the President last October, the question is not whether ACTA would or would not require changes to U.S. law (which is far from clear), but rather, whether the U.S. Executive Branch (of which the USTR is a part) has constitutional authority to negotiate and enter into an agreement dealing with issues  within the powers delegated exclusively to Congress under the Constitution, like the power to make new IP laws:

 “The statement by the USTR confuses the issue by conflating two separate stages of the process required for binding the U.S. to international agreements: entry and implementation. It may be possible for the U.S. to implement ACTA or any other trade agreement, once validly entered, without legislation if the agreement requires no change in U.S. law. But, regardless of whether the agreement requires changes in U.S. law, a point that is contested with respect to ACTA, the executive branch lacks constitutional authority to enter a binding international agreement covering issues delegated by the Constitution to Congress’ authority, absent congressional approval.”

This is more than just an academic question. If ACTA were characterized as a treaty, it would need approval of two-thirds of the Senate before it could be ratified. As Congressional Representative Darrell Issa stated on March 6, when he posted the text of ACTA on his KeepTheWebOpen platform for public comment, the decision to negotiate ACTA as a sole executive agreement can be seen as a power grab by the U.S. executive branch, to bypass Congress’ constitutional power over international commerce and intellectual property law.

Not satisfied with the response he received last year, in January, Senator Wyden asked the  State Department for its analysis of why the USTR’s negotiation of ACTA complies with US constitutional law. The Legal Advisor to the State Department, Howard Koh, responded to Senator Wyden on March 6. His letter implied that Congress had authorized the Executive to negotiate ACTA in response to the 2008 Prioritizing Resources and Organization for Intellectual Property Act. …

Read Full Article

 

 

Phone hacking scandal comes to U.S. as lawyer vows to take on Rupert Murdoch – but who were the celebrity targets?

Three lawsuits set to be filed on behalf of unidentified clients, but they are suspected to be David Beckham, a friend of Jude Law’s, and Princess Diana’s butler Paul Burrell

Three civil lawsuits are to be filed in the U.S. over alleged phone hacking by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp, the first time the scandal has reached the American courts.

Though the individuals at the center of the lawsuits have not been named, there is speculation that they are Princess Diana’s butler Paul Burrell, football star David Beckham, and someone who is friends with or works with the actor Jude Law.

Mark Lewis, the lawyer for the unnamed trio, did give hints which seem to match up with the suggested names.

Mr Lewis said that one of the alleged victims was connected to Princess Diana and the Royal household whilst a second is linked to the England football team. The third is described as a ‘Hollywood case’ as the person was in touch with a well-known celebrity which made him a target….

Read Full Article Here

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Survival / Sustainability

 

Prepper List : 10 Things To Do Now!

 

by M.D. Creekmore

 

No matter how much I beg, some of you, no doubt haven’t done anything to prepare (you know who you are). I don’t know what else to do. All I can do is give you the information, it’s up to you to act. No one can do it for you.

No doubt some of you are intimidated by my repeated suggestions of storing and using whole grains. If it doesn’t come from the supermarket shelf it’s strange and unfamiliar and you want no part of it. Fair enough.

But you still need to prepare. Here are ten things that you can do right now  that will make you better prepared than probably 90% of the population.

And everything is available at your local shopping center – so it’s easy. You can do all ten steps at once or divide each into a separate week and shopping trip. But you need to get it done as soon as possible.

Keep in mind that this is only a starting point and isn’t presented here as a completed list…..

 

Read Full Article and  See  List  Here

 

 

Top 14 Survival Downloads You Should Have

 

by M.D. Creekmore

 

Here are fourteen free PDF downloads that you might find useful – If you know of others please share with us in the comments below…

  1. It’s the End of the World As We Know It – and I Feel Fine – My free e-book covering, food storage, water, weapons etc. I put this together a few years ago and it received some great reviews, but I will admit it is in need of editing and reformatting. The book was a quick first draft without a lot of thought given to  spelling or grammar. Any volunteer editors?
  2. FM 21-76 US Army Survival Manual – How to find water, food, shelter, build a fire, first aid, navigation and other survival skills necessary to survive on your own in the wild. A must for any survival library.
  3. FM 4-25-11 First Aid – While I suggest everyone take a dedicated first-aid class under qualified instructors, this manual by the U.S. Army is a good start for anyone wanting to learn life saving first aid skills…..

 

See Complete  List Here

 

 

Seeds: How many do you need?

Bloody Butcher Corn-BLOG

Bloody Butcher Corn

As you are planning your garden, what to grow would be the first thing that comes to mind.  Then, of course, the area you have available, which leads to making a garden map.  With the map done, you know how much space you have for each crop.  Next is figuring out how many seeds you need.  If you are just starting out in gardening, the number of seeds in a packet are probably more than you need for the year.  However, as your garden grows and you are more interested in really growing a substantial part of your diet, exactly what to expect from a seed packet is important.

You probably already know that not every seed you have is going to germinate.  There is a minimum legal germination rate that the seed companies have to abide by.  Their seeds can be over that rate, but not under.  You can find the minimum legal germination rate in the Master Charts of How To Grow More Vegetables (HTGMV) by John Jeavons.  If you buy from reputable sources, most often the seeds are well over that rate.  In fact, some companies label the packages with the tested germination rate and when they tested it.  On the other hand, I have heard of companies combining old seed with their new batch, getting rid of the old seed and lowering the germination rate.   All they are concerned about is making sure it meets the minimum legal rate.  Being aware of what the minimum rate is helps you plan.  You might be using seed leftover from a previous year or seed that you have saved yourself.  Since seed loses viability over time, you might want to test the germination rate.  Information on how to do that is available many places, including my video Develop a Sustainable Vegetable Garden Plan.

 

Read Full Article Here

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Activism

Explosive: Monsanto ‘Knowingly Poisoned Workers’ Causing Devastating Birth Defects

Anthony Gucciardi
NaturalSociety

In a developing news piece just unleashed by a courthouse news wire, Monsanto is being brought to court by dozens of  Argentinean tobacco farmers who say that the biotech giant knowingly poisoned them with herbicides and pesticides and subsequently caused ”devastating birth defects” in their children. The farmers are now suing not only Monsanto on behalf of their children, but many big tobacco giants as well. The birth defects that the farmers say occurred as a result are many, and include cerebral palsy, down syndrome, psycho motor retardation, missing fingers, and blindness.

The farmers come from small family-owned farms in Misiones Province and sell their tobacco to many United States distributors. The family farmers say that major tobacco companies like the Philip Morris company asked them to use Monsanto’s herbicides and pesticides, assuring them that the products were safe. Through asserting that the toxic chemicals were safe, the farmers state in their claim that the tobacco companies ”wrongfully caused the parental and infant plaintiffs to be exposed to those chemicals and substances which they both knew, or should have known, would cause the infant offspring of the parental plaintiffs to be born with devastating birth defects.”

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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

 

Poland Announces Complete Ban on Monsanto’s Genetically Modified Maize

 

Anthony Gucciardi
NaturalSociety

 

Following the anti-Monsanto activism launched by nations like France and Hungary, Poland has announced that it will launch a complete ban on growing Monsanto’s genetically modified strain MON810. The announcement, made by Agriculture Minister Marek Sawicki, sets yet another international standard against Monsanto’s genetically modified creations. In addition to being linked to a plethora health ailments, Sawicki says that the pollen originating from this GM strain may actually be devastating the already dwindling bee population.

 

Read Full Article Here

 

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Cyber Space

 

Expect more online attacks, Anonymous hackers say

 

The hacking group Anonymous says it will launch online attacks every weekend, following claims it disrupted access to the Home Office website.

Anonymous Twitter messages warned of the attack on 4 April, and said: “Expect a DDoS (distributed denial-of-service) every Saturday on the UK Government sites.”

The Home Office site was inaccessible for several hours on Saturday night.

Officials say no sensitive information was lost, and it is now back to normal.

A distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack floods a web-server with so many requests that it can no longer respond to legitimate users.

The Home Office website became inaccessible around 21:00 BST on Saturday, and was patchy from 05:00 on Sunday.

It is not clear whether the protest was against email surveillance or extradition, but it could be both.

One message on Twitter said it was a protest against “draconian surveillance proposals”, but another claimed it was over extradition from the UK to the US.

One tweet claiming to be from Anonymous said: “You should not give UK citizens to foreign countries without evidence. If an offense happened in the UK, so should the trial.”

There were also claims on Twitter that the 10 Downing Street website had been targeted as part of the same protest…..

 

Read Full Article Here

 

 

LulzSec hacker pleads guilty

Cody Kretsinger, 24, faces jail after admitting in plea bargain to breaching Sony Pictures website and stealing names

 

Reuters
The Guardian,

 

LulzSec hacker Cody Kretsinger has pleaded guilty to charges of taking part in an extensive computer breach against Sony.

Kretsinger, 24, pleaded guilty in a California federal court to one count each of conspiracy and unauthorised impairment of a protected computer in a deal with prosecutors. LulzSec, an offshoot of the international hacking group Anonymous, has taken credit for hacking government and private sector websites.

“I joined LulzSec, your honor, at which point we gained access to the Sony Pictures website,” Kretsinger, who went by the hacking moniker “Recursion,” told the judge after entering his guilty plea.

Kretsinger testified that he gave the information he got from the Sony site to other members of LulzSec, who then posted it onto the group’s website and on Twitter…..

 

Read Full Article Here

 

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Survival / Sustainability

 

25 Must Know Skills For Surviving The Coming Nightmare

 

The following article was generously shared with the SHTFplan community by regular contributor ‘Be Informed’ and provides skills that will be essential for surviving any number of catastrophes that may befall us.

Many people nowadays are quite aware that the world they live in is going to the toilet. Aside from the geophysical part that “seems” to be going haywire and could be nothing other than the planet’s cycles, there are plenty of man made catastrophes that loom on the horizon. Never has the planet had as many people as now and the more people there are the more competition there is for resources. More countries seek nuclear devices than ever before and with advancements in technology this is a much easier process than anytime before. Biological and chemical weapons are also much easier to manufacture because of leaps of technology in regards to computers. Oil markets are much tighter because of the countries of China and India and their increasing need of energy to fuel their booming economies, and new finds of oil fields cannot keep up with the demand. The debacle of the world economies needs no introduction. In short, bad times, really bad times could and probably be coming to a neighborhood near you. Unless you and your family take quite seriously this possibility, if and when something extremely horrible happens, you could very well end up one of the large number of statistics…..

 

Read Full Article Here

 

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Activism

 

Day 203: Live Coverage of the Occupy Movement

 

Special Coverage: As we enter Day 203 of the Occupy movements the protests have spread not only across the country but all over the globe. Thousands of activists have descended on Wall Street these past weeks as part of the #OccupyWallStreet protest organized by several action groups. What follows is a live video stream and live Twitter feed of this event.

 

Read Full Article Here

 

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Psy – Ops

 

Pupils are recruited to spy on us during our lessons and schools are being ‘run like totalitarian regimes’, say teachers

 

By Sarah Harris

 

Pupils are being ‘actively recruited’ by schools to spy on their teachers in the classroom, a union has warned.

They are being used as ‘management tools’ to carry out covert – and even open – surveillance of members of staff, it was claimed.

Chris Keates, general secretary of the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers, condemned the practice as a ‘form of abuse’ of children.

She told the union’s annual conference in Birmingham on Saturday that ‘debilitating’ monitoring ‘erodes teachers’ self-esteem and gnaws away at their professional confidence’.

She said: ‘Children and teachers are diminished and abused by the use of pupils as management tools to carry out surveillance on their teachers.

 

Read Full Article Here

 

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Articles of Interest

Autism and Disappearing Bees: A Common Denominator?

 

By Brian Moench
Common Dreams

 

A few days ago the Salt Lake Tribune’s front page headline declared, “Highest rate in the nation, 1 in 32 Utah boys has autism.” This is a national public health emergency, whose epicenter is Utah, Gov. Herbert. A more obscure story on the same day read: “New pesticides linked to bee population collapse.” If you eat food, and hope to do so in the future, this is another national emergency, Pres. Obama. A common denominator may underlie both headlines.

A Stanford University study with 192 pairs of twins, with one twin autistic and one not, found that genetics accounts for 38% of the risk of autism, and environmental factors account for 62%.

Supporting an environmental/genetic tag team are other studies showing autistic children and their mothers have a high rate of a genetic deficiency in the production of glutathione, an anti-oxidant and the body’s primary means of detoxifying heavy metals. High levels of toxic metals in children are strongly correlated with the severity of autism. Low levels of glutathione, coupled with high production of another chemical, homocysteine, increase the chance of a mother having an autistic child to one in three. That autism is four times more common among boys than girls is likely related to a defect in the single male X chromosome contributing to anti-oxidant deficiency……

 

Read Full Article Here

 

Operation Midnight Climax : How the CIA Dosed S.F. Citizens with LSD

 

It’s been over 50 years, but Wayne Ritchie says he can still remember how it felt to be dosed with acid.

He was drinking bourbon and soda with other federal officers at a holiday party in 1957 at the U.S. Post Office Building on Seventh and Mission streets. They were cracking jokes and swapping stories when, suddenly, the room began to spin. The red and green lights on the Christmas tree in the corner spiraled wildly. Ritchie’s body temperature rose. His gaze fixed on the dizzying colors around him.

The deputy U.S. marshal excused himself and went upstairs to his office, where he sat down and drank a glass of water. He needed to compose himself. But instead he came unglued. Ritchie feared the other marshals didn’t want him around anymore. Then he obsessed about the probation officers across the hall and how they didn’t like him, either. Everyone was out to get him. Ritchie felt he had to escape.

He fled to his apartment and sought comfort from his live-in girlfriend. It didn’t go as planned. His girlfriend was there, but an argument erupted. She told him she was growing tired of San Francisco and wanted to return to New York City. Ritchie couldn’t handle the situation. Frantic, he ran away again, this time to the Vagabond Bar where he threw back more bourbon and sodas. From he hit a few more bars, further cranking up his buzz. As he drank his way back to Seventh and Mission, Ritchie concocted a plan that would change his life.

 

Read Full Article Here

 

 

Europe’s Austerity Program Spawns ‘Lost Generation’

 

Julio Godoy, News Report:

 

The German economy already suffered a slowdown of 0.2 percent during the last quarter of 2011. Given the OECD forecast, such figures suggest that even Germany, the last standing economic powerhouse in an otherwise lethargic continent, might have fallen into recession – experiencing a negative growth rate for two consecutive quarters. To confirm the crisis, the European Commission’s office for youth announced that youth unemployment across the continent went up to 5.5 million in January 2012, a 37.7 percent growth rate since the spring of 2008, at the beginning of the global financial crisis.

 

Read Full Article Here

 

 

[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

Monsanto’s Roundup Altering the Physical Shape of Amphibians

 

Mike Barrett, News Analysis:

 

While it wasn’t surprising to see morphological changes take part due to the naturally emitted chemicals from predators, it was rather shocking to find out that Roundup had the same effects — causing the tails of the tadpoles to grow in size. What’s more, the combination of the naturally emitted chemicals and Roundup caused the tadpoles’ tails to grow twice as large. Seeing as tadpoles alter body shape in order to properly survive in its environment, the forced changes from herbicides like Roundup can put the animals at a disadvantage.

 

Read Full Article Here

 

 

 

Environmental Groups Sue EPA Over Lack of Coal Ash Regulation

 

Emma Schwartz, News Report:

 

A 2009 investigation by the Center for Public Integrity revealed the havoc that coal ash has wreaked near ponds, landfills, and pits where it is dumped. Even the EPA has identified 63 “proven or potential damage cases” in 23 states where coal ash has tainted groundwater or otherwise harmed the environment. But critics say no meaningful federal regulations have been put in place.

 

Read Full Article Here

 

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Survival / Sustainability

 

Using Community Gardens to Grow Low-Income Communities Out of Food Deserts

 

Emily Apple, New Deal 2.0:

 

“More than 23 million Americans live in ‘food deserts’: areas with limited access to affordable and nutritious food, particularly ones composed of predominantly lower income neighborhoods and communities. Recognizing these problems, Daniel Bowman Simon … has now has moved on to helping low-income individuals and families access healthy foods through his organization SNAP Gardens. Simon encourages SNAP beneficiaries to ‘grow’ their benefits by utilizing a 1973 amendment to the Food Stamp Act that allows food stamp recipients to use their benefits to buy seeds.”

 

Read Full Article Here

 

 

The Hidden Food in Your Yard – You May Walk by It Every Day…

 

By Dr. Mercola

 

A major part of achieving optimal health is living in partnership with nature.

Growing your own food is a great way to rekindle this connection with nature.

But have you thought about eating plants that grow wild—perhaps in your own backyard?

Some “weeds” can be delicious if prepared properly, and they are absolutely free.

In an article published earlier this summer, Live Science collected some easy-to-identify healthful weeds, including:

Dandelion: The entire plant is edible, and the leaves contain vitamins A, C and K, along with calcium, iron, manganese, and potassium.
Purslane: Purslane tops the list of plants with omega-3 fats.
Lamb’s-quarters: Lamb’s-quarters are like spinach, except healthier, tastier and easier to grow.
Plantain: Not the better-known banana-like plant with the same name. It has a nutritional profile similar to dandelion.
Stinging Nettles: If you handle them so that you don’t get a painful rash from the tiny, acid-filled needles, these are delicious and nutritious cooked or prepared as a tea.

This is of course how our ancestors ate. They hunted and gathered, and ALL of it was wild. And by all accounts, they were far healthier than we are.

Of course, like anything else, identification and use of wild plants requires spending some time educating yourself, lest you eat something inedible or even poisonous. But with some attention to learning what to look for, you can avail yourself of some of the most highly nutritious, health-promoting plants for FREE—and have a lot of fun doing it. With the availability of the Internet, in addition to a number of excellent printed books and even wild-food foraging classes, this information is now easy to access.

So, grab your favorite weeding tool and a basket, and step outside to see what little gems you can find in your own backyard!

 

Read Full Article Here

 

 

 

 

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Whistle Blowers

 

‘Reluctant Spy’ indicted for leaking US secrets

 

A former CIA officer was indicted Thursday on charges of leaking secrets to journalists, including the name of a covert agent and the role of another CIA employee in classified operations.

John Kiriakou, who had previously revealed the CIA’s use of waterboarding of Al-Qaeda suspects, was charged in January with leaking secrets. The indictment allows the case to proceed to trial without an evidentiary hearing.

The indictment returned by a grand jury in Virginia charged Kiriakou with one count of violating the Intelligence Identities Protection Act and three counts of violating the Espionage Act.

The indictment also charged him with making false statements to the CIA in an unsuccessful attempt to trick the agency into allowing him to include classified information in his 2010 book, “The Reluctant Spy: My Secret Life in the CIA’s War on Terror.”

 

Read Full Article Here

 

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Activism

 

How to Succeed in Reoccupation Without Really Trying

 

Nathan Schneider, Op-Ed:

 

This is a new time; the movement and people’s perspectives on it are in a totally different place than they were last fall. Potential allies expect more from the movement, I’d say, and so they should. People I know who were wholeheartedly behind it a few months ago seem to think it’s over, or it should be. The encampments, which Occupiers know as well as anyone sometimes turned into rather unsafe spaces, lost much public support.

 

Read Full Article Here

 

 

 

Corrupt Canadian Banking System.mp4

 

Uploaded by facing42 on Apr 6, 2012

 

This is my daughter. She gave this speech at a business meeting in front of 600 people. Her eyes have been opened to a scam that is being perpetrated upon Canadians and the rest of the world.
I am the owner of this video. Feel free to use it freely without altering the content in a manner that would draw conclusions unintended by the speech but please redirect people back to the original post.

Please also see these great resources for more information and people who are trying their best to enact the necessary change in our country and the world:

http://www.ohcanadamovie.com/

 

 

 

 

More proof activism works: Kraft, Coca-Cola and Pepsi all say they will leave ALEC

 

By Madison Ruppert

 

For those who are unaware, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), is a corporate front group which enables corporate members to help craft “model” legislation which they then give to their allies in state legislatures to put forth as their own.

Essentially, it allows America’s largest corporations to ghostwrite legislation which is later proposed by legislators without the public ever knowing that ALEC had a hand in crafting the bill. They have been linked to many corporations with less-than-admirable intentions, one of the more troubling being Corrections Corporation of America.

A great resource to learn more about the corrupt and deplorable actions of ALEC is ALEC Exposed, a project of the Center for Media and Democracy. They expose ALEC corporations, politicians, state chairmen, who funds ALEC as well as a breakdown of all of the so-called “model bills” they create.

A coalition of citizen groups led by the group Color of Change have begun a campaign to pressure the corporations behind ALEC to quit the group and thus cease providing them with massive funding.

They are arguing that popular consumer corporations should not be backing legislation which, ultimately, is incredibly harmful to the communities which profit off of.

Furthermore, they are directly harming their shareholders and employees as well by damaging their communities as well.

The coalition, made up of Color of Change, Rebuild the Dream, Center for Media and Democracy and the Republic Report, along with private individuals, recently wrote to all 20 corporations sitting on ALEC’s board.

 

Read Full Article Here

 

 

 

Generation Waking Up: The Story of Our Generation

 

 

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Articles of Interest

 

These Are The Prices AT&T, Verizon and Sprint Charge For Cellphone Wiretaps

 

Andy Greenberg, Forbes Staff

 

If Americans aren’t disturbed by phone carriers’ practices of handing over cell phone users’ personal data to law enforcement en masse–in many cases without a warrant–we might at least be interested to learn just how much that service is costing us in tax dollars: often hundreds or thousands per individual snooped.

Earlier this week the American Civil Liberties Union revealed a trove of documents it had obtained through Freedom of Information Requests to more than 200 police departments around the country. They show a pattern of police tracking cell phone locations and gathering other data like call logs without warrants, using devices that impersonate cell towers to intercept cellular signals, and encouraging officers to refrain from speaking about cell-tracking technology to the public, all detailed in a New York Times story.

But at least one document also details the day-to-day business of telecoms’ handing over of data to law enforcement, including a breakdown of every major carrier’s fees for every sort of data request from targeted wiretaps to so-called “tower dumps” that provide information on every user of certain cell tower. The guide, as provided by the Tucson, Arizona police department to the ACLU, is dated July 2009, and the fees it lists may be somewhat outdated. But representatives I reached by email at Verizon and AT&T both declined to detail any changes to the numbers…..

 

Read Full Article Here

 

 

 

[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

Deadly Bacteria Lurk in Deepwater Horizon Tar Balls

 

Stephanie Pappas

 

….Analyses of these samples showed a surprisingly high number of total bacteria in the tar balls – between 5.1 million and 8.3 million colony-forming units per gram, much higher than in sand or seawater. Most alarmingly, V. vulnificus numbers in tar balls were 10 times that in nearby sand and 100 times higher than numbers in seawater samples.

The finding was surprising, Arias said, though it makes sense that bacteria would thrive in carbon-rich tar balls. It’s likely the V. vulnificus live off the byproducts of other carbon-eating bacteria in these oily chunks, she said…..

 

Read Full Article Here

 

 

 

 

Fertilizer use responsible for increase in nitrous oxide in atmosphere

 

Berkeley CA (SPX)

 

University of California, Berkeley, chemists have found a smoking gun proving that increased fertilizer use over the past 50 years is responsible for a dramatic rise in atmospheric nitrous oxide, which is a major greenhouse gas contributing to global climate change. Climate scientists have assumed that the cause of the increased nitrous oxide was nitrogen-based fertilizer, which stimulates …

 

Read Full Article Here

 

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Cyber Space

 

China shuts political websites in crackdown

 

Two Chinese political websites say they have been ordered by authorities to shut for a month for criticizing state leaders, the latest move in a broad government crackdown on the Internet.

Officials told the Mao Flag website, named after late leader Mao Zedong, and the Utopia website, also known for a leftist political stance, to close for “rectification”, the websites said in separate announcements.

Authorities said their postings had “maliciously attacked state leaders” and given “absurd views” about politics, according to statements posted on the websites.

Those statements, dated Friday, were later removed. The operators could not be reached for comment and content on the sites was unavailable.

The latest moves come after a surge in groundless online rumors in China, including about a coup led by security chief Zhou Yongkang, following the March dismissal of rising political star Bo Xilai.

Two other sites, China Elections and April Youth, also appeared to be shut on Friday for what the operators claimed was maintenance and staff holidays, they said in separate micro-blog postings…….

 

Read Full Article Here

 

New Brit law allows big brother to spy on all online communication

 

By J. D. Heyes,

 

(NaturalNews) Remember, remember the fifth of November… So goes the opening line of a poem attributed to Englishman Guy Fawkes, a 17th century revolutionary who attempted to blow up the Parliament building on Nov. 5, 1605. The incident became known as the Gunpowder Plot, and Fawkes was caught, tortured and executed for the crime of treason. The premise of his actions was pure, if extreme: Fawkes believed he was working to throw off tyranny in an England that was increasingly being ruled by an iron…

 

Read Full Article Here

 
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Survival / Sustainability

Week 1 of 52: Short Term Emergency Food Supply (List 1)

 

FEMA suggests that each family have a 2 week supply of food and water for their home. Starting a food supply does not have to be a budget breaker. By slowly accumulating emergency supplies, you will not feel the financial “burn” compared to having to pay for everything up front. Therefore, keeping in mind what type of emergencies that you are planning for, if there are any family members with medical needs, how long you want your food supply to last, and so on, will help you make the best choice for your family.

Taking time to read the nutritional information on the back of the food source and knowing other considerations, will help a person make the best choices for their needs. If a person needs to use their stashed food supply, having foods high in vitamins, nutrients, and proteins will provide their body with what it needs for needed energy and mental clarity…..

 

Read Full Article Here

 

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Articles of Interest

 

DHS Preparing For Civil War In The US?

 

Uploaded by alexhiggins732 on Apr 7, 2012

See background links below.

Recent massive ammo purchases by US domestic agencies, Obama’s Executive Order to prepare for martial law and recent anti-protests laws all point to one thing.

The US Department of Homeland Security and the Immigrations and Customs Enforcement Office have placed a massive order for ammunition. The two departments are asking for 450 million rounds of bullets to be delivered in a time-frame of five years. The contractor, Alliant Techsystems, was awarded the contract and will produce .40 caliber high-performance bullets to the agencies. The order has many wondering why would DHS and ICE need so many bullets. David Seaman, journalist and host of the DL Show, helps us answer why the order was placed.

But that is only the start. See the following links for a more complete picture.

http://blog.alexanderhiggins.com/2012/03/18/prepare-martial-law-executive-ord…
Prepare For Martial Law! Executive Order Issued By Obama

http://blog.alexanderhiggins.com/2012/03/16/dhs-order-450-million-rounds-40-c…
Why Did The DHS Just Order 450 Million Rounds of .40 Caliber Ammunition?

http://blog.alexanderhiggins.com/2012/03/22/feds-buying-surplus-ammo-ordering…
Feds Buying Up All Surplus Ammo, Ordering Stores To Cease Sales?

http://blog.alexanderhiggins.com/2012/04/04/usda-fish-wildlife-order-massive-…
The USDA and US Fish and Wildlife Order Massive Amounts Of Ammo

http://blog.alexanderhiggins.com/2012/03/23/ruger-stops-accepting-firearms-or…
Ruger Stops Accepting Firearms Orders Citing Backlog Of 1 Million Orders In Q1

Coming To An Occupy Near You — The Military’s New Microwave Heat Ray Gun
http://blog.alexanderhiggins.com/2012/03/14/coming-occupy-militarys-microwave…

http://blog.alexanderhiggins.com/2011/07/24/pentagon-deploying-20000-troops-u…
Pentagon Deploying 20,000 Troops Within The United States To Prepare For Civil Unrest In Event Of Economic Collapse

http://blog.alexanderhiggins.com/2011/08/11/martial-law-corporate-media-hints…
Martial Law: Corporate Media Hints At Military Plans To Take On The American People During Domestic Civil Unrest

http://blog.alexanderhiggins.com/2011/12/06/analyst-mobilizing-army-occupy-ec…
US Army Preparing To Crush #OccupyWallStreet

http://blog.alexanderhiggins.com/2012/02/29/house-passes-trespass-bill-protes…
House Passes “Trespass Bill” That Makes Protests Illegal

 

 

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Collapse Then Crackdown …

 

 

 

 

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Festo – AirJelly

 

http://www.festo.com/cms/en_corp/9771.htm – Gently floating through the air
The first indoor flying object with peristaltic propulsion. Based on the recoil principle, eight tentacles powered by an electric drive let the jellyfish float through the air.

 

 

 

 

[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

 

 

Mexican plan for Gulf deep water wells sparks new worries

 

Tim Johnson

 

MEXICO CITY — Two years after the worst offshore oil spill in U.S. history, Mexico’s state oil company is about to test its hand at drilling at extraordinary depths in the Gulf of Mexico.

If all goes as planned, Petroleos de Mexico, known as Pemex, will deploy two state-of-the-art drilling platforms in May to an area just south of the maritime boundary with the United States. One rig will sink a well in 9,514 feet of water, while another will drill in 8,316 feet of water, then deeper into the substrata.

Pemex has no experience drilling at such depths. Mexico’s oil regulator is sounding alarm bells, saying the huge state oil concern is unprepared for a serious deep water accident or spill. Critics say the company has sharply cut corners on insurance, remiss over potential sky-high liability.

Mexico’s plans come two years after the Deepwater Horizon catastrophe, the worst oil spill in U.S. history. On April 20, 2010, a semi-submersible rig that the British oil firm BP had contracted to drill a well known as Macondo exploded off the Louisiana coast, killing 11 workers and spewing 4.9 million barrels of oil in the nearly three months it took engineers to stop the spill.

BP has said the tab for the spill — including government fines, cleanup costs and compensation — could climb to $42 billion for the company and its contractors.

Pemex’s plans to sink even deeper offshore wells underscore Mexico’s pressing need to maintain sagging oil production — exports pay for one-third of government operating expenses — along with oil companies’ desire to leverage technology and drill at ever more challenging depths.

Carlos A. Morales, the chief of the Pemex exploration and production arm, which employs 50,000 people, voiced confidence that his company has to the ability to sink wells in ultra-deep water.

“Pemex is ready to undertake the challenge and to do it safely,” Morales said in an interview in his 41st-floor office at Pemex headquarters in this capital city.

“You have to bear one thing in mind,” he said. “Pemex is the biggest operator in the Gulf — including everyone — both in production and in the number of rigs we operate. We are operating more than 80 rigs offshore”.

 

Read Full Article Here:

 

Millions of Pounds of Toxic Poison to Flood US Farmland

 

By Cassandra Anderson

 

The EPA announced that it has completed the first part of its study on dioxin, after more than 25 years of stonewalling.

Dioxin is the most caustic man-made chemical known. Dioxin is a general term for hundreds of chemicals that are produced in industrial processes that use chlorine and burning. Disturbingly, it has a half-life of 100+ years when it is leached into soil or embedded in water systems. Dioxin was the most harmful component in Agent Orange (the recipe for Agent Orange is 2,4-D and 2,4,5-T herbicides).

The EPA says that air emissions of dioxin have decreased by 90% since the 1980’s, but dioxin is dangerous at any level. The study appears to omit any analysis of dioxin transmission in water and land. The danger is growing because Dow AgroScience has received preliminary USDA approval for its 2,4-D herbicide resistant GMO corn. This means that dioxin contaminated 2,4-D herbicide will drench US farm land and pollute water supplies if the crops are widely planted.

EPA Dioxin Assessment Report

The EPA’s press release on dioxin’s health effects trumpeted the lie that current exposure rates “don’t pose significant health risks”. But the EPA does admit that there is a cancer risk, although they are not releasing their study on cancer at this time. Perhaps the delay is due to the fact that 95% of Americans have measurable levels of dioxin in their bodies.

The EPA’s claim that current levels are not a health risk is contradicted by another webpage on the EPA’s own site says that dioxin accumulates over a lifetime, persists for years, is likely to lead to an increased risk of cancer, and that the current exposure levels are “uncomfortably” close to levels that can cause “subtle” non-cancer effects. These so-called subtle effects may include birth defects, reproductive problems and immuno suppression.

There were 500,000 victims of birth defects in Viet Nam that can hardly be considered subtle. Dioxin is bad at any level especially since it accumulates in the body.

Humans are exposed to dioxin primarily through food sources. The EPA’s press release fails to mention that people who eat animal based foods like meat, dairy and eggs will continually increase their dioxin levels.

If dioxin is so safe, why does the Veterans Administration make automatic payments for a wide range of claims that include several types of cancers and leukemia, liver disease, heart disease, Parkinson’s disease and diabetes? American taxpayers are footing the bill for veterans’ Agent Orange dioxin injuries that are estimated to cost $42 billion over the next 10 years! Monsanto and Dow, the top 2 Agent Orange producers, should pay for all damages — not taxpayers.

While the EPA’s press release does acknowledge “certain industrial activities” as a cause of dioxin pollution, they omit any reference to chemical herbicides and pesticides. The EPA doesn’t mention that herbicide 2,4-D (half of the Agent Orange recipe) is the seventh largest source of dioxin in the US. Dow Chemical is the biggest 2,4-D manufacturer, and Dow is also listed as the #2 and #3 biggest industrial dioxin dumper in the US. Herbicide 2,4-D is polluting groundwater.

Shocking EPA Omission

The most disturbing omission by the EPA is its complete lack of oversight of a specific type of dioxin, 2,7-DCDD, that is one of the most potent kinds of dioxin. It is reported that DCDD is an inevitable by-product of 2,4-D herbicide manufacturing. The EPA doesn’t even regulate or monitor DCDD!

Therefore, the EPA’s report is incomplete and the true levels of dioxin are unknown.

 

Read Full Article Here

 

***********************************************************************************************

 

Survival / Sustainability

 

Soccer Mom Prepares for the Unexpected

 

Uploaded by peakmoment

 

 

Peak Moment 203: “I have a ball preserving food with my friends!” And at the same time Kathy Harrison is making sure her kids can eat if storms knock out power or roads. The author of “Just in Case: How to Be Self Sufficient when The Unexpected Happens” gives practical tips on storing food without getting overwhelmed. She looks at dehydrating, canning, and root cellaring; finding and preserving local food, and buying food at discount. For Kathy, preparedness is an empowering, community activity.
++++Because of viewers like you, this show is free to the world on YouTube. Lend your support or subscribe to our email newsletter at http://www.peakmoment.tv

 

 

Container Gardening With Vegetables and Herbs

 

April/May 2012

By Barbara Pleasant
Container Gardening

These are among the best food crops for container gardening: artichoke, arugula, bok choy, celery, chard, cucumber, eggplant, garlic, lettuce, onion, pepper, snap bean, pea, tomato and most herbs. Look for compact varieties that will grow best in a confined space.

The most personal way to forge a connection with delicious food crops — from arugula to tomatoes — is to grow them up close in containers. Special methods are needed to produce high-quality food crops in containers, because most vegetables and herbs grow best when planted in the ground. Stable soil temperatures and constant access to water, nutrients and microscopic soil allies give in-ground crops a clear advantage.

But if growing edibles in the ground is not an option due to a lack of backyard space, destructive pets or homeowner association rules, then growing some crops in containers on your porch, patio or fire escape may be the solution. Also, if you have problems with your site or soil that prevent in-ground gardening, then container gardening may allow you to avoid some of these problems:

• Shade from buildings and trees can be minimized by moving container-grown vegetables to your sunniest spots, which change with the seasons.

• Soil pH barriers can be overcome by using custom soil mixes to grow plants that need more or less acidic soil conditions than are common in your area. For example, containers are a good way to grow acid-loving strawberries or potatoes if your soil is naturally neutral or alkaline.

• Protection from soil borne pests, from nematodes to voles, and greatly reduced weed problems are natural benefits of container gardening. Where soil borne diseases such as tomato Fusarium are common, containers are an easy way to grow lovely ‘Yellow Pear’ tomatoes and other susceptible varieties.

• Contaminated soil from toxic lead in old paint, termite pesticides applied to your home’s foundation, chemicals that have leached from treated wood, and other hazards, should not be a problem as long as you use good quality soil mix. (These concerns are especially relevant on urban and reclaimed lots.)

Then there’s the convenience factor. Although my vegetable garden is right in my backyard, I want containers of sweet peppers, parsley, cherry tomatoes and basil within steps of my kitchen door. If you live in an apartment or condo with no yard, you can still have a summer’s worth of veggies right at your fingertips.

One big difference between in-ground and container-grown vegetables is root temperature. In summer, warm daytime temperatures will cause plant roots in containers to warm up by 15 degrees Fahrenheit or more (this never happens 4 inches below ground). And dark containers accumulate solar heat, which intensifies this effect. Warm roots can be your enemy or your friend, depending on the season and the crop. Eggplant, peppers, tomatoes and okra love warm roots, while onions and celery (a surprisingly successful container plant) need cooler feet. You can’t control the weather, but you can minimize soil temperature swings by using the largest containers possible and choosing light-colored containers when appropriate.

The plants discussed here are easy to grow in containers in most climates, but many other vegetables make challenging container crops. If you’re a new gardener, stick with the container-grown vegetables listed below at first to build on your skills. Remember, plants grown in containers will be totally dependent on you for water, feeding and adequate accommodations for their roots. By midsummer, herbs and vegetables in containers may need water twice a day and liquid fertilizer twice a week. Think of container gardening as an intensive form of the food gardener’s art…..

 

Read Full Article Here

 

************************************************************************************************

 

Psy – Ops

 

This Is Your Brain on the Department of Defense

The Department of Defense has long had its eyes on emerging neuroscience technologies. Should we be worried?

 

By Azeen Ghorayshi

 

April 04, 2012 “Information Clearing House” — Science and the military have historically made creepy bedfellows, with military curiosity about neuroscience leading the pack. Yet it’s no secret that since the early 1950s, the US military has had a vested interest in harnessing cutting-edge developments in neuroscience to get a leg up on national defense (a la well-publicized failures like Project MK-ULTRA [1]). In 2011, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the Pentagon’s research arm credited with, among other things, spearheading the invention of the internet [2], had a budget of over $240 million [3] devoted to cognitive neuroscience research alone. From brain-scan-based lie detection to memory-erasure pills, some of the technologies are, at first glance, simply the stuff of sci-fi. But an essay published in the March issue of PLoS Biology [3] tells a cautionary tale of high-tech neuroscience developments on the horizon that “could be deployed before sufficiently validated.”
The two authors, Michael Tennison and Jonathan Moreno, are no strangers to the broader implications of science; both are bioethicists, and Moreno, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, has been a part of multiple government advisory bodies, including President Obama’s bioethics commission. “They see me as an honest broker,” says Moreno. “I worry about the ethical questions behind a lot of these technologies, I’m left-leaning, but I’m no pacifist—I have kids, and I think we do have to worry about national security.”

A lot gets said about scientific research that’s so-called “dual-use [4],” e.g., its potential for good is matched or outmatched by its potential to do harm. Case in point: the recent H5N1 hubbub [5], where Dutch and American scientists made a potentially dangerous airborne strain of the already-dangerous bird flu virus, but only in the interest of “preventing a pandemic [6].” Similarly, Moreno runs through recent developments in neuroscience, connecting them to their well-funded, though still highly speculative, DOD research goals—as well as the knotty legal and ethical questions these experimental technologies suggest. “Neuroscientists haven’t had the atom bomb moment that Einstein and Oppenheimer had, they haven’t even had the bird flu moment; but that time is fast-approaching,” Moreno says. Here are some of the top neuroscience developments that Moreno, and DOD, is keeping an eye on—and why he thinks we should care.

 

Read Full Article Here

 

************************************************************************************************

 

Articles of Interest

 

Shady Companies With Ties to Israel Wiretap the U.S. for the NSA

 

By James Bamford

 

Army General Keith Alexander, the director of the NSA, is having a busy year — hopping around the country, cutting ribbons at secret bases and bringing to life the agency’s greatly expanded eavesdropping network.

In January he dedicated the new $358 million CAPT Joseph J. Rochefort Building at NSA Hawaii, and in March he unveiled the 604,000-square-foot John Whitelaw Building at NSA Georgia.

Designed to house about 4,000 earphone-clad intercept operators, analysts and other specialists, many of them employed by private contractors, it will have a 2,800-square-foot fitness center open 24/7, 47 conference rooms and VTCs, and “22 caves,” according to an NSA brochure from the event. No television news cameras were allowed within two miles of the ceremony.

Overseas, Menwith Hill, the NSA’s giant satellite listening post in Yorkshire, England that sports 33 giant dome-covered eavesdropping dishes, is also undergoing a multimillion-dollar expansion, with $68 million alone being spent on a generator plant to provide power for new supercomputers. And the number of people employed on the base, many of them employees of Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman, is due to increase from 1,800 to 2,500 in 2015, according to a study done in Britain. Closer to home, in May, Fort Meade will close its 27-hole golf course to make room for a massive $2 billion, 1.8-million-square-foot expansion of the NSA’s headquarters, including a cyber command complex and a new supercomputer center expected to cost nearly $1 billion.

 

Read Full article Here

 

 

Monsanto’s Top Corporate Secrets Exposed

 

This is an unbelievable resource on the power that Monsanto holds over the world and everything in it. An unprecedented look its web of power over you and me. An absolute gem of a resource I bring to you via its author Kelly Dericks whom I applaud to no end for her dedication and bravery in making this interactive map. spread the word!!

 

Read Full Article Here

 

Invisible Empire A New World Order Defined Full

 

 

 

[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

Mexican plan for Gulf deepwater wells sparks new worries

Tim Johnson

MEXICO CITY — Two years after the worst offshore oil spill in U.S. history, Mexico’s state oil company is about to test its hand at drilling at extraordinary depths in the Gulf of Mexico.

If all goes as planned, Petroleos de Mexico, known as Pemex, will deploy two state-of-the-art drilling platforms in May to an area just south of the maritime boundary with the United States. One rig will sink a well in 9,514 feet of water, while another will drill in 8,316 feet of water, then deeper into the substrata.

Pemex has no experience drilling at such depths. Mexico’s oil regulator is sounding alarm bells, saying the huge state oil concern is unprepared for a serious deepwater accident or spill. Critics say the company has sharply cut corners on insurance, remiss over potential sky-high liability.

Mexico’s plans come two years after the Deepwater Horizon catastrophe, the worst oil spill in U.S. history. On April 20, 2010, a semi-submersible rig that the British oil firm BP had contracted to drill a well known as Macondo exploded off the Louisiana coast, killing 11 workers and spewing 4.9 million barrels of oil in the nearly three months it took engineers to stop the spill.

BP has said the tab for the spill — including government fines, cleanup costs and compensation — could climb to $42 billion for the company and its contractors.

Pemex’s plans to sink even deeper offshore wells underscore Mexico’s pressing need to maintain sagging oil production — exports pay for one-third of government operating expenses — along with oil companies’ desire to leverage technology and drill at ever more challenging depths.

Carlos A. Morales, the chief of the Pemex exploration and production arm, which employs 50,000 people, voiced confidence that his company has to the ability to sink wells in ultra-deep water.

“Pemex is ready to undertake the challenge and to do it safely,” Morales said in an interview in his 41st-floor office at Pemex headquarters in this capital city.

“You have to bear one thing in mind,” he said. “Pemex is the biggest operator in the Gulf — including everyone — both in production and in the number of rigs we operate. We are operating more than 80 rigs offshore.”…..

Read Full Article Here:

Millions of Pounds of Toxic Poison to Flood US Farmland

By Cassandra Anderson

The EPA announced that it has completed the first part of its study on dioxin, after more than 25 years of stonewalling.

Dioxin is the most caustic man-made chemical known. Dioxin is a general term for hundreds of chemicals that are produced in industrial processes that use chlorine and burning. Disturbingly, it has a half-life of 100+ years when it is leached into soil or embedded in water systems. Dioxin was the most harmful component in Agent Orange (the recipe for Agent Orange is 2,4-D and 2,4,5-T herbicides).

The EPA says that air emissions of dioxin have decreased by 90% since the 1980’s, but dioxin is dangerous at any level. The study appears to omit any analysis of dioxin transmission in water and land. The danger is growing because Dow AgroScience has received preliminary USDA approval for its 2,4-D herbicide resistant GMO corn. This means that dioxin contaminated 2,4-D herbicide will drench US farm land and pollute water supplies if the crops are widely planted.

EPA Dioxin Assessment Report

The EPA’s press release on dioxin’s health effects trumpeted the lie that current exposure rates “don’t pose significant health risks”. But the EPA does admit that there is a cancer risk, although they are not releasing their study on cancer at this time. Perhaps the delay is due to the fact that 95% of Americans have measurable levels of dioxin in their bodies.

The EPA’s claim that current levels are not a health risk is contradicted by another webpage on the EPA’s own site says that dioxin accumulates over a lifetime, persists for years, is likely to lead to an increased risk of cancer, and that the current exposure levels are “uncomfortably” close to levels that can cause “subtle” non-cancer effects. These so-called subtle effects may include birth defects, reproductive problems and immuno-suppression.

There were 500,000 victims of birth defects in Vietnam that can hardly be considered subtle. Dioxin is bad at any level especially since it accumulates in the body.

Humans are exposed to dioxin primarily through food sources. The EPA’s press release fails to mention that people who eat animal based foods like meat, dairy and eggs will continually increase their dioxin levels.

If dioxin is so safe, why does the Veterans Administration make automatic payments for a wide range of claims that include several types of cancers and leukemia, liver disease, heart disease, Parkinson’s disease and diabetes? American taxpayers are footing the bill for veterans’ Agent Orange dioxin injuries that are estimated to cost $42 billion over the next 10 years! Monsanto and Dow, the top 2 Agent Orange producers, should pay for all damages — not taxpayers.

While the EPA’s press release does acknowledge “certain industrial activities” as a cause of dioxin pollution, they omit any reference to chemical herbicides and pesticides. The EPA doesn’t mention that herbicide 2,4-D (half of the Agent Orange recipe) is the seventh largest source of dioxin in the US. Dow Chemical is the biggest 2,4-D manufacturer, and Dow is also listed as the #2 and #3 biggest industrial dioxin dumper in the US. Herbicide 2,4-D is polluting groundwater.

Shocking EPA Omission

The most disturbing omission by the EPA is its complete lack of oversight of a specific type of dioxin, 2,7-DCDD, that is one of the most potent kinds of dioxin. It is reported that DCDD is an inevitable by-product of 2,4-D herbicide manufacturing. The EPA doesn’t even regulate or monitor DCDD!

Therefore, the EPA’s report is incomplete and the true levels of dioxin are unknown.

Read Full Article Here

************************************************************************************************

Cyber Space

DHS Looks to Spy on Video Game Consoles in Search of Pedophiles, Terrorists

Tiffany Kaiser

The government is more concerned with the platforms rather than the games themselves, mainly because newer systems like Xbox 360, Wii and PlayStation 3 allow users to communicate with one another via messaging and chat systems

Gamers may want to be careful about what they say when jumping onto their consoles for an innocent bout of slaying dragons or killing zombies — the government will be watching.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the U.S. Navy have launched a new research initiative that will explore ways of allowing the government to hack into gaming consoles like the Xbox 360, Wii, or PlayStation 3 to obtain information on gamers.

In 2008, a project called “Gaming Systems Monitoring and Analysis Project” was executed when law enforcement became worried about pedophiles using game consoles to talk to children. Later, law enforcement authorities went to DHS’ Science and Technology Directorate in search of help on an instrument that could observe game console data. DHS then went to the Naval Postgraduate School (NPS) to find Simson Garfinkel, a NPS computer science professor, to offer a contract to a company that could conduct the research and offer a product.

The U.S. Navy ended up recently awarding the $177,237 contract to Obscure Technologies, which is a computer forensics company based in San Francisco, California. Obscure Technologies will be expected to create new hardware and software capable of extracting data from video game consoles. DHS wants to be able to extract data from both new and used games systems bought on the secondary market as well.

Read Full Article Here

************************************************************************************************

Psy – Ops

This Is Your Brain on the Department of Defense

The Department of Defense has long had its eyes on emerging neuroscience technologies. Should we be worried?

By Azeen Ghorayshi

April 04, 2012 “Information Clearing House” — Science and the military have historically made creepy bedfellows, with military curiosity about neuroscience leading the pack. Yet it’s no secret that since the early 1950s, the US military has had a vested interest in harnessing cutting-edge developments in neuroscience to get a leg up on national defense (a la well-publicized failures like Project MK-ULTRA [1]). In 2011, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the Pentagon’s research arm credited with, among other things, spearheading the invention of the internet [2], had a budget of over $240 million [3] devoted to cognitive neuroscience research alone. From brain-scan-based lie detection to memory-erasure pills, some of the technologies are, at first glance, simply the stuff of sci-fi. But an essay published in the March issue of PLoS Biology [3] tells a cautionary tale of high-tech neuroscience developments on the horizon that “could be deployed before sufficiently validated.”
The two authors, Michael Tennison and Jonathan Moreno, are no strangers to the broader implications of science; both are bioethicists, and Moreno, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, has been a part of multiple government advisory bodies, including President Obama’s bioethics commission. “They see me as an honest broker,” says Moreno. “I worry about the ethical questions behind a lot of these technologies, I’m left-leaning, but I’m no pacifist—I have kids, and I think we do have to worry about national security.”

A lot gets said about scientific research that’s so-called “dual-use [4],” e.g., its potential for good is matched or outmatched by its potential to do harm. Case in point: the recent H5N1 hubbub [5], where Dutch and American scientists made a potentially dangerous airborne strain of the already-dangerous bird flu virus, but only in the interest of “preventing a pandemic [6].” Similarly, Moreno runs through recent developments in neuroscience, connecting them to their well-funded, though still highly speculative, DoD research goals—as well as the knotty legal and ethical questions these experimental technologies suggest. “Neuroscientists haven’t had the atom bomb moment that Einstein and Oppenheimer had, they haven’t even had the bird flu moment; but that time is fast-approaching,” Moreno says. Here are some of the top neuroscience developments that Moreno, and DoD, is keeping an eye on—and why he thinks we should care.

Read Full Article Here

************************************************************************************************

Articles of Interest

Shady Companies With Ties to Israel Wiretap the U.S. for the NSA

By James Bamford

Army General Keith Alexander, the director of the NSA, is having a busy year — hopping around the country, cutting ribbons at secret bases and bringing to life the agency’s greatly expanded eavesdropping network.

In January he dedicated the new $358 million CAPT Joseph J. Rochefort Building at NSA Hawaii, and in March he unveiled the 604,000-square-foot John Whitelaw Building at NSA Georgia.

Designed to house about 4,000 earphone-clad intercept operators, analysts and other specialists, many of them employed by private contractors, it will have a 2,800-square-foot fitness center open 24/7, 47 conference rooms and VTCs, and “22 caves,” according to an NSA brochure from the event. No television news cameras were allowed within two miles of the ceremony.

Overseas, Menwith Hill, the NSA’s giant satellite listening post in Yorkshire, England that sports 33 giant dome-covered eavesdropping dishes, is also undergoing a multi-million-dollar expansion, with $68 million alone being spent on a generator plant to provide power for new supercomputers. And the number of people employed on the base, many of them employees of Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman, is due to increase from 1,800 to 2,500 in 2015, according to a study done in Britain. Closer to home, in May, Fort Meade will close its 27-hole golf course to make room for a massive $2 billion, 1.8-million-square-foot expansion of the NSA’s headquarters, including a cybercommand complex and a new supercomputer center expected to cost nearly $1 billion.

Read Full article Here

Monsanto’s Top Corporate Secrets Exposed

This is an unbelieveable resource on the power that Monsanto holds over the world and everything in it. An unprecedented look its web of power over you and me. An absolute gem of a resource I bring to you via its author Kelly Dericks whom I applaud to no end for her dedication and bravery in making this interactive map. spread the word!!

Read Full Article Here

Invisible Empire A New World Order Defined Full

[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

Monsanto’s GMO Seeds Contributing to Farmer Suicides Every 30 Minutes

 

By Anthony Gucciardi
BlacklistedNews.com

 

In what has been called the single largest wave of recorded suicides in human history, Indian farmers are now killing themselves in record numbers. It has been extensively reported, even in mainstream news, but nothing has been done about the issue. The cause? Monsanto’s cost-inflated and ineffective seeds have been driving farmers to suicide, and is considered to be one of the largest — if not the largest — cause of the quarter of a million farmer suicides over the past 16 years.

According to the most recent figures (provided by the New York University School of Law), 17,638 Indian farmers committed suicide in 2009 — about one death every 30 minutes. In 2008, the Daily Mail labeled the continual and disturbing suicide spree as ‘The GM (genetically modified) Genocide’. Due to failing harvests and inflated prices that bankrupt the poor farmers, struggling Indian farmers began to kill themselves. Oftentimes, they would commit the act by drinking the very same insecticide that Monsanto supplied them with — a gruesome testament to the extent in which Monsanto has wrecked the lives of independent and traditional farmers.

 

Read Full Article Here

 

************************************************************************************************************

 

Cyber Space

 

SOPA, PIPA, CISPA, ACTA: 354 companies that Supported SOPA!

 

Uploaded by GetThisThingCrunk on Jan 20, 2012

National Football League (NFL)
World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE)
Nike, Inc
National Basketball Association (NBA)
The Walt Disney Company
CBS Corporation
NBC Universal
Viacom
Adidas America
Wal-Mart
Juicy Couture
Burberry
Ultimate Fighting Championships (UFC)
Motion Picture Association of America, Inc. (MPAA)
Universal Music Group
Beachbody, LLC
Bose Corporation
Coach
Comcast Corporation
Country Music Association
Dolby Laboratories, Inc.
Dolce & Gabbana USA, INC.
Dollar General Corporation
Electronic Arts, Inc.
Fender Musical Instrument Company
Ford Motor Company
Gibson Guitar Corp.
Graphic Artists Guild
Greeting Card Association (GCA)
Harley-Davidson Motor Company
HarperCollins Publishers
Johnson & Johnson
kate spade
Linda Olsen Photography
Liz Claiborne, Inc
L’Oréal USA
New Balance Athletic Shoe, Inc.
News Corporation
NHL Enterprises, L.P.
Nintendo of America Inc.
PGA of America
Philip Morris International
Ralph Lauren Corporation
Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA)
Reebok International Ltd.
Revlon
Rite Aid
Rolex Watch USA Inc.
Rosetta Stone Inc.
Sony Electronics Inc.
Sony Music Entertainment
Sony Pictures Entertainment
Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association
The McGraw-Hill Companies
The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA)
The Timberland Company
Tiffany & Co.
Time Warner Inc.
Toshiba America Business Solutions, Inc.
U.S. Chamber of Commerce
Virtual Chip Exchange USA, Inc.
Warner Music Group
Winestem Company
Xerox Corporation
Zippo Manufacturing Company
Zumba Fitness, LLC
1-800 Contacts, Inc.
1-800-PetMeds
3M Company
American Mental Health Counselors Association
American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP)
Applied DNA Sciences
Association of American Publishers (AAP)
AstraZeneca plc
Australian Medical Council
Broadcast Music, Inc. (BMI)
C. F. Martin & Co., Inc.
Caterpillar Inc.
Not a complete list, also look up ACTA

 

 

 

SOPA/PIPA, Internet 2 and The Trojan Horse of Control 1/3

 

Uploaded by TheAlexJonesChannel on Jan 18, 2012

SOPA/PIPA Battle Rages: Tell Congress We Will Not Accept Censorship
Kurt Nimmo
http://www.infowars.com/
http://www.prisonplanet.tv/
January 18, 2012

The underhanded effort to fundamentally alter the internet under the guise of protecting the copyrights of Hollywood and its transnational “entertainment” corporations was delivered a distinct set-back a few days ago when Congress retreated on its full-steam ahead effort to ram SOPA down our throats.

Faced with massive outrage and a political backlash, the Obama administration threatened a veto of the SOPA legislation and in response Congress shelved it.

Equally important is the battle to defeat PIPA, the Protect IP Act, which will soon be up for a vote. Congress needs to be told it must reject this legislation as well.

Even though the shelving of SOPA appears to be a victory, we cannot trust the government to not reintroduce the bill after sprucing it up as a kinder and gentler effort to rob of us our ability to freely disseminate information and speak our minds on the internet without fear of the censor’s truncheon crashing down. After all, in 2010 the government shut down 73,000 web sites under the cover of fighting copyright infringement.

We must continue to let our “representatives” in Congress know that in no uncertain terms will we accept any modification of the internet at the behest of large corporations and the globalists who intend by hook or by crook to neuter the only free communication medium left to the people.

Use the links below to contact Congress now and speak your mind:

Congress:
http://www.contactingthecongress.org/
http://writerep.house.gov/writerep/welcome.shtml

Senate:
http://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm

STOP AMERICAN CENSORSHIP:
http://americancensorship.org/

Read the bills in full here:

SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act):
http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bill.xpd?bill=h112-3261

PIPA (Protect IP Act):
http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bill.xpd?bill=s112-968

CONGRESS:
http://www.youtube.com/user/househub

SENATE:
http://www.youtube.com/user/senatehub

YOU are the resistance.

 

 

CISPA: Nightmare Cybersecurity Bill

 

Uploaded by TheAlyonaShow on Apr 3, 2012

CISPA, or the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protect Act, also known as HR 3523 is a cybersecurity House bill that’s already gained over 100 sponsors and is perhaps the worst of them all. It would allow companies to collect and monitor private communications and share them with the government, and anyone else. So is it really as scary as it sounds? EFF’s Trevor Timm explains.

 

 

How to hide emails from government snooping

 

Despite coalition proposals to monitor public email, there remain numerous free or low-cost methods to keep messages private

 

By Jack Schofield, The Guardian

 

You already know how to keep messages private: you just encrypt the contents using a password. But although this kind of technology has been freely available to PC users since Phil Zimmermann launched PGP (Pretty Good Privacy) in 1991, hardly anyone uses it. The benefits of email and online messaging are that they are fast and relatively frictionless – you don’t need to address an envelope, find a stamp, walk to a post box and so on – and encryption becomes an annoyance.

The problem with the latest government attempts at snooping is that they are not concerned with the content of messages, but their existence. If you have found some suspected criminals or terrorists, then you will want to know who their friends are: the people they email or message most frequently. Each of these people can probably be identified by their internet protocol (IP) address: the number assigned by their ISP (internet service provider). Even an encrypted email will usually include the addresses of the sender and the recipient in its headers.

The general solution to privacy concerns is to use a non-UK “proxy server” to relay web pages, messages, anonymous email accounts and other content anonymously. Hackers who really want to hide their origins will use several proxy servers, including ones that are acting as proxies without their owner’s knowledge. Many websites publish lists of free proxy servers, which are updated continuously.

Of course, these servers may offer less privacy than your ISP, and some may be traps or “honeypots”. However, there are some trusted anonymous servers available either free or for modest payments.

Examples include hidemyass.com, anonymouse.org, Guardster, Proxify, IDzap and Megaproxy. Such servers usually have terms of service to prevent abusive or criminal behaviour. They will probably record your IP address and may report you if you breach them, so they’re not completely beyond government reach. However, they’re probably beyond government fishing expeditions…..

 

Read Full Article Here

 

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Activism

 

Raw Video: Calif. Students Pepper-sprayed

 

Published by AssociatedPress

 

Campus police pepper-sprayed as many as 30 demonstrators after Santa Monica College students angry over a plan to offer high-priced courses tried to push their way into a trustees meeting, authorities said.

 

 

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Articles of Interest

Families to lose average £511 a year in tax credits cull, warns Labour

 

Ed Balls accuses George Osborne of giving with one hand and taking more away with the other in budget changes

 

Families with children stand to lose an average of £511 a year on what is being described as black Friday, according to figures compiled for Labour by the Institute for Fiscal Studies.

In what is likely to be a key battleground in the local elections, the Treasury said the figures were partial and chose to highlight the impact of the lifting of the personal allowances for most basic rate taxpayers.

The Labour analysis follows George Osborne’s budget last month and is on top of tax increases already introduced, such as last year’s VAT rise which is costing a family with children an average of £450 a year. The figures include the impact of raising the personal allowance.

Labour said more than 850,000 families on modest and middle incomes would lose all their child tax credit, worth about £545 a year. Up to 212,000 working couples earning less than £17,000 a year will lose all of their working tax credit – worth up to £3,870 a year – if they cannot increase their working hours. It is the first time the IFS has put these calculations in cash terms.

According to Labour, a couple with two children on the minimum wage will be better off quitting their jobs if they cannot work at least 19 hours a week. Ed Balls, the shadow chancellor, accused the government of giving with one hand and taking much more away with the other.

Balls said: “For all the government’s talk about increasing the personal allowance, these independent figures show that, while they may be giving one with one hand, they are taking much more away with the other hand. That is why families with children will be an average of £511 a year worse off from tomorrow.”

 

Read Full Article Here

 

 

 

Even Congress Wants To Know What The NSA Is Doing With This $2 Billion Utah Spy Center

 

Robert Johnson

 

Maybe you’ve heard of it and maybe you haven’t, but in Bluffdale, Utah alongside one of the largest polygamist sects in America, the NSA is building a one-million-square-foot data collection center — five times the size of the U.S. capital.

Despite immense secrecy, and construction workers with Top Secret clearances, news of the project made it to the pages of Wired last month. Intelligence authority James Bamford wrote that the center is part of President Bush’s “total information awareness” program that was killed by Congress in 2003 in response to public outrage over its potential for invading Americans privacy.

One senior intelligence official formerly involved with the project told Bamford “this is more than just a data center,” that it’s a code breaking megalopolis the likes of which the world has never seen.

Several years ago the NSA made a major leap in breaking complex encryptions used in everything from “financial information, stock transactions, business deals, foreign military and diplomatic secrets, legal documents, confidential personal communications.”

The official concluded by saying “Everybody’s a target; everybody with communication is a target.”

The story caused such a stir that the NSA’s chief General Keith Alexander was called before Congress last week to testify about the project and categorically denied the facility will be used to spy on American citizens.

“The NSA does not have the ability to do that in the United States,” Alexander told Georgia Rep. Hank Johnson. “We’re not authorized to do that, nor do we have the equipment in the United States to collect that kind of information.”

NSA public information officer Vanee’ Vines backed up Alexander in an email saying: “What it will be is a state-of-the-art facility designed to support the Intelligence Community’s efforts to further strengthen and protect the nation.”

Update: The NSA does not spy on Americans, they hire it out to the Israelis…..

 

Read Full Article Here

 

 

 

Americans brace for next foreclosure wave

 

By Nick Carey

 

GARFIELD HEIGHTS, Ohio

 

(Reuters) – Half a decade into the deepest U.S. housing crisis since the 1930s, many Americans are hoping the crisis is finally nearing its end. House sales are picking up across most of the country, the plunge in prices is slowing and attempts by lenders to claim back properties from struggling borrowers dropped by more than a third in 2011, hitting a four-year low.

But a painful part two of the slump looks set to unfold: Many more U.S. homeowners face the prospect of losing their homes this year as banks pick up the pace of foreclosures.

“We are right back where we were two years ago. I would put money on 2012 being a bigger year for foreclosures than 2010,” said Mark Seifert, executive director of Empowering & Strengthening Ohio’s People (ESOP), a counseling group with 10 offices in Ohio.

“Last year was an anomaly, and not in a good way,” he said.

In 2011, the “robo-signing” scandal, in which foreclosure documents were signed without properly reviewing individual cases, prompted banks to hold back on new foreclosures pending a settlement.

Five major banks eventually struck that settlement with 49 U.S. states in February. Signs are growing the pace of foreclosures is picking up again, something housing experts predict will again weigh on home prices before any sustained recovery can occur.

Mortgage servicing provider Lender Processing Services reported in early March that U.S. foreclosure starts jumped 28 percent in January.

 

Read Full Article Here

 

 

 

[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

 

Colorado farms planning for dry spell losing auction bids for water to fracking projects

Front Range farmers bidding for water to grow crops through the coming hot summer and possible drought face new competition from oil and gas drillers. At Colorado’s premier auction for unallocated water this spring, companies that provide water for hydraulic fracturing at well sites were top bidders on supplies once claimed exclusively by farmers. The prospect of tussling with energy industry giants over water leaves some farmers and environmentalists uneasy.

Read Full Article Here

 

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Cyber Space

SOPA changes name to CISPA

Uploaded by RTAmerica on Apr 3, 2012

The latest attempt by Congress to try to regulate and control the Internet is no longer known as SOPA but CISPA: the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act. The SOPA-like bill would give companies the power to collect information on their subscribers and hand it over to the government and all they have to do is request it. Kendall Burman, senior national security fellow for the Center for Democracy and Technology, joins Liz Wahl to talk about what this means for online freedoms.

 

Data Mining You

How the Intelligence Community Is Creating a New American World

By Tom Engelhardt

I was out of the country only nine days, hardly a blink in time, but time enough, as it happened, for another small, airless room to be added to the American national security labyrinth. On March 22nd, Attorney General Eric Holder and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, Jr. signed off on new guidelines allowing the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC), a post-9/11 creation, to hold on to information about Americans in no way known to be connected to terrorism — about you and me, that is — for up to five years. (Its previous outer limit was 180 days.) This, Clapper claimed, “will enable NCTC to accomplish its mission more practically and effectively.”

Joseph K., that icon of single-lettered anonymity from Franz Kafka’s novel The Trial, would undoubtedly have felt right at home in Clapper’s Washington. George Orwell would surely have had a few pungent words to say about those anodyne words “practically and effectively,” not to speak of “mission.”

For most Americans, though, it was just life as we’ve known it since September 11, 2001, since we scared ourselves to death and accepted that just about anything goes, as long as it supposedly involves protecting us from terrorists. Basic information or misinformation, possibly about you, is to be stored away for five years — or until some other attorney general and director of national intelligence think it’s even more practical and effective to keep you on file for 10 years, 20 years, or until death do us part — and it hardly made a ripple.

If Americans were to hoist a flag designed for this moment, it might read “Tread on Me” and use that classic illustration of the boa constrictor swallowing an elephant from Saint-Exupéry’s The Little Prince. That, at least, would catch something of the absurdity of what the National Security Complex has decided to swallow of our American world.

Oh, and in those nine days abroad, a new word surfaced on my horizon, one just eerie and ugly enough for our new reality: yottabyte. Thank National Security Agency (NSA) expert James Bamford for that. He wrote a piece for Wired magazine on a super-secret, $2 billion, one-million-square-foot data center the NSA is building in Bluffdale, Utah. Focused on data mining and code-breaking and five times the size of the U.S. Capitol, it is expected to house information beyond compare, “including the complete contents of private emails, cell phone calls, and Google searches, as well as all sorts of personal data trails — parking receipts, travel itineraries, bookstore purchases, and other digital ‘pocket litter.’”

The NSA, adds Bamford, “has established listening posts throughout the nation to collect and sift through billions of email messages and phone calls, whether they originate within the country or overseas. It has created a supercomputer of almost unimaginable speed to look for patterns and unscramble codes. Finally, the agency has begun building a place to store all the trillions of words and thoughts and whispers captured in its electronic net.”

Which brings us to yottabyte — which is, Bamford assures us, equivalant to septillion bytes, a number “so large that no one has yet coined a term for the next higher magnitude.” The Utah center will be capable of storing a yottabyte or more of information (on your tax dollar).

Large as it is, that mega-project in Utah is just one of many sprouting like mushrooms in the sunless forest of the U.S. intelligence world. In cost, for example, it barely tops the $1.7 billion headquarters complex in Virginia that the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, with an estimated annual black budget of at least $5 billion, built for its 16,000 employees. Opened in 2011, it’s the third-largest federal building in the Washington area. (And I’ll bet you didn’t even know that your tax dollars paid for such an agency, no less its gleaming new headquarters.) Or what about the 33 post-9/11 building complexes for top-secret intelligence work that were under construction or had already been built when Washington Post reporters Dana Priest and William Arkin wrote their “Top Secret America” series back in 2010?

In these last years, while so many Americans were foreclosed upon or had their homes go “underwater” and the construction industry went to hell, the intelligence housing bubble just continued to grow. And there’s no sign that any of this seems abidingly strange to most Americans.

Read Full Article  Here

 

 

Teacher’s aide fired for refusing to hand over Facebook password

By Tecca

Kimberly Hester, a grade school teacher’s aide in Michigan, was fired for refusing to hand over her Facebook password to her supervisors. Hester posted a picture of a co-workers’ shoes and pants bunched around her ankles on Facebook in April 2011 with the caption, “Thinking of you.” She posted the picture in jest, but a parent [nutjob] who’s on her Facebook friend list saw the image and reported it to Frank Squires Elementary where Hester was employed, prompting the investigation. Teachers have gotten in trouble for Facebook status messages before, but in Hester’s case, it’s her refusal to hand over her password that actually got her fired.

Read Full Article Here

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Radiation

 

Camera that can ‘see’ radiation will assess danger levels at stricken Fukushima nuclear reactor

‘Super-wide Angle Compton Camera’ developed for X-ray observation satellite, ASTRO-H
Scan comes as radiation detected 370 miles from plant

By Ted Thornhill

There are still dangerously high radiation levels at Japan’s crippled Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear reactor – but now the plant’s owner is able to see the normally invisible threat.

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) has created a prototype ‘Super-wide Angle Compton Camera’ capable of creating images of gamma ray-emitting radioactive particles.

This equipment is based on the gamma ray-observing sensor technology to be added to the agency’s next X-ray observation satellite, ASTRO-H.

It is expected to be able to create visual images of radioactive particles that have collected at high altitudes such as building roofs where it is difficult to conduct measurements with existing equipment.

It can also detect particles that have widely dispersed on the ground and residential houses.

Last month JAXA, the Japan Atomic Energy Agency and the plant’s owner, the Tokyo Electric Power Company conducted a successful field test of the camera at the Kusano area of Iitate village in Fukushima Prefecture.

Read Full Article Here

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Whistle Blowers

 

US Mercenary “Took Part” in Gaddafi Killing; Sent to Assist Syrian opposition

 

By: Yazan al-Saadi

 

US government officials requested that an American private security firm contact Syrian opposition figures in Turkey to see “how they can help in regime change,” the CEO of one of these firms told Stratfor in a company email obtained by WikiLeaks and Al-Akhbar.

James F. Smith, former director of Blackwater, is currently the Chief Executive of SCG International, a private security firm with experience in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya. In what appears to be his first email to Stratfor, Smith stated that his “background is CIA” and his company is comprised of “former DOD [Department of Defense], CIA and former law enforcement personnel.”

“We provide services for those same groups in the form of training, security and information collection,” he explained to Stratfor. (doc-id 5441475)

In a 13 December 2011 email to Stratfor’s VP for counter-terrorism Fred Burton, which Burton shared with Stratfor’s briefers, Smith claimed that “[he] and Walid Phares were getting air cover from Congresswoman [Sue] Myrick to engage Syrian opposition in Turkey (non-MB and non-Qatari) on a fact finding mission for Congress.”

Walid Phares, named by the source as part of the “fact finding team,” is a Lebanese-American citizen and currently co-chairs Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s Middle East advisory group.

In a profile of Walid Phares published in Salon, As’ad AbuKhalil details Phares’ history with right-wing militias during the Lebanese civil war.

Sue Myrick, who allegedly was providing “air cover” for the “fact finding team”, is a Republican Congresswoman from North Carolina who has a track record of extremist pro-zionist and anti-Islamic views.

These include leading the charge against Dubai Ports World’s attempt to buy major American ports in 2006 – labeling the Islamic Society of North America as a group of “radical jihadists” – and demanding that former President Jimmy Carter’s citizenship be revoked for daring to meet with Hamas leaders in 2008.

Currently, Myrick is a member of the United States House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, a congressional committee charged with overseeing the American intelligence community, and is also involved with the Department of Defense and the US military.

In his email, the “true mission” for the “fact finding” team, Smith told Burton, was how “they can help in regime change.”……..

Read Full Article Here

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Activism

 

When Bankers Rule the World

How we can call out the myths, restructure the banking system, shut down the con game, and take back America.

 

by David Korten

 

The tell-all defection of Greg Smith, a former Goldman Sachs executive, provided an insider’s view of the moral corruption of the Wall Street banks that control of much of America’s economy and politics. Smith confirms what insightful observers have known for years: the business purpose of Wall Street bankers is to maximize their personal financial take without regard to the consequences for others.
Wall Street’s World of Illusion

Why has the public for so long tolerated Wall Street’s reckless abuses of power and accepted the resulting devastation? The answer lies in a cultural trance induced by deceptive language and misleading indicators backed by flawed economic theory and accounting sleight-of-hand. To shatter the trance we need to recognize that the deception that Wall Street promotes through its well-funded PR machine rests on three false premises.

We best fulfill our individual moral obligation to society by maximizing our personal financial gain.
Money is wealth and making money increases the wealth of the society.
Making money is the proper purpose of the individual enterprise and is the proper measure of prosperity and economic performance.

Wall Street aggressively promotes these fallacies as guiding moral principles. Their embrace by Wall Street insiders helps to explain how they are able to reward themselves with obscene bonuses for their successful use of deception, fraud, speculation, and usury to steal wealth they have had no part in creating and yet still believe, as Goldman CEO Lloyd Blankfein famously proclaimed, that they are “doing God’s work.”

The devastation created by Wall Street’s failure affirms three truths that are the foundation on which millions of people are at work building a New Economy:

Our individual and collective well-being depends on acting with concern for the well-being of others. We all do better when we look out for one another.
Money is not wealth. It is just numbers. Sacrificing the health and happiness of billions of people to grow numbers on computer hard drives to improve one’s score on the Forbes Magazine list of the world’s richest people is immoral. Managing a society’s economy to facilitate this immoral competition at the expense of people and nature is an act of collective insanity.
The proper purpose of the economy and the enterprises that comprise it is to provide good jobs and quality goods and services beneficial to the health and happiness of people, community and nature. A modest financial profit is essential to a firm’s viability, but is not its proper purpose.

The critical distinction between making money and creating wealth is the key to seeing through Wall Street’s illusions……

David Korten (livingeconomiesforum.org) is the author of Agenda for a New Economy, The Great Turning: From Empire to Earth Community, and the international best seller When Corporations Rule the World. He is board chair of YES! Magazine, co-chair of the New Economy Working Group, and a founding board member of the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies.

Read Full Article Here

 

 

Eyes on the Prize: MLK’s Lessons for Occupy

 

At the time of his death, Martin Luther King, Jr. was planning a campaign around economic injustice—including a mass encampment of poor people in Washington, D.C.

 

by Valerie Schloredt

 

When he was assassinated in April, 1968, Martin Luther King, Jr. had just begun “The Poor People’s Campaign.” This focus on economic injustice, which included plans for a mass encampment of poor people in Washington, D.C., was remarkably similar to that of today’s Occupy movement. The connection is clear to present-day activists Kazu Haga and Jonathan Lewis, who are promoting King’s philosophy of nonviolence to Occupy groups, both for moral guidance and practical strategy.

Both studied “Kingian” nonviolence with Dr. Barnard Lafayette, a civil rights organizer and an associate of King’s in the 1960s. “Kingian nonviolence,” or nonviolence as it was defined by King, is the focus of a training program Lafayette developed with David Jehnsen to institutionalize King’s philosophy at all levels of society. The training’s pay-it-forward ethos encourages participants to spread the word by becoming Kingian nonviolence trainers themselves.

Lewis and Haga have been carrying their own training forward by teaching nonviolence strategies in jails, community groups, and to groups of at-risk youth. They were also involved with Occupy Oakland, where they organized Kingian nonviolence workshops in response to concerns over confrontations between police and protesters. Haga and Lewis spoke to YES! Magazine about the relevance of King’s nonviolence to embattled communities, and the Occupy movement.

Valerie Schloredt: Your work is based on the philosophy of Martin Luther King, Jr., and the civil rights movement. I can’t imagine any better legacy for movements in the United States. Sometimes it seems that King is praised, without a meaningful understanding of his beliefs.

Kingian nonviolence workshop, photo courtesy Kazu Haga

Kazu Haga at the Seattle Kingian nonviolence workshop. March 2012

Photo courtesy Kazu Haga

Kazu Haga: We do him, and ourselves, a disservice by not looking into that. Everything he said is so applicable today.

Jonathan Lewis: In his last speech, down in Memphis, he talks about taking your money out of the corporate banks, and into smaller banks.

Haga: We forget about how much of a radical he was. He called America “the greatest purveyor of violence in the world,” and he was calling for an encampment in Washington, D.C. to shut down the city. We forget all that.

Schloredt: It seems very appropriate to be talking about King’s nonviolence right now, when there is great concern over the police response to the case of Trayvon Martin. You work with young people in communities that don’t always get fair treatment by law enforcement. How do you relate King’s nonviolence to that sort of injustice?

Lewis: One thing that Dr. Lafayette tells us about the [civil rights] movement is that it was always about the future. The struggles, the sacrifices, the actions—they aren’t to benefit the present population as much as to prevent future populations from having to deal with the same type of suffering that we’re going through.

Society right now takes out aggression on people. Blaming the folks for their behavior, and whatever it is that’s happening in the world. In contrast, we try to put our compassion towards the people, and we put our aggression towards the conditions. It sounds corny. When I first got started, “keep your eyes on the prize” didn’t mean much to me. But it really is all about that.

Valerie Schloredt wrote this article for YES! Magazine, a national, nonprofit media organization that fuses powerful ideas with practical actions. Valerie is associate editor at YES!

Read Full Article Here

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Survival  / Sustainability

 

Just In Time: When the Trucks Stop, America Will Stop (With Immediate and Catastrophic Consequences)

Most Americans take for granted the intricate systems that make it possible for us to engage in seemingly mundane day to day tasks like filling up our gas tanks, loading up our shopping carts at the local grocery store, obtaining necessary medications, and even pouring ourselves a clean glass of water. When we wake up each morning we just expect that all of these things will work today the same way they worked yesterday. Very few have considered the complexity involved in the underlying infrastructure that keeps goods, services and commerce in America flowing. Fewer still have ever spent the time to contemplate the fragility of these systems or the consequences on food, water, health care, the financial system, and the economy if they are interrupted.

A report prepared for legislators and business leaders by the American Trucking Associations highlights just how critical our just-in-time inventory and delivery systems are, and assesses the impact on the general population in the event of an emergency or incident of national significance that disrupts the truck transportation systems which are responsible for carrying some ten billion tons of commodities and supplies across the United States each year.

A shut down of truck operations as a result of elevated threat levels, terrorist attacks, or pandemics would, according to the report, have “a swift and devastating impact on the food, healthcare, transportation, waste removal, retail, manufacturing, and financial sectors.”

So too would events such as an EMP attack or a coordinated cyber-attack that could shut down global positioning systems and the computers responsible for inventory control. Another potential scenario that is more likely now than ever before is liquidity problems within the financial system stemming from currency crisis or hyperinflation. All of our just-in-time delivery systems are built upon the unhindered transfer of money and credit, but when credit flow becomes restricted or money becomes worthless, no one will be able to pay for their goods. Likewise, no one will trust the credit worthiness of anyone else. This is exactly the scenario playing out in Greece right now and the consequences on the health care industry in that country have left many without life saving drugs. When there’s no money, no one will be transporting anything.

The effects of a transportation shutdown for any reason would be immediate (in some cases, within hours) and absolutely catastrophic.

Excerpted from the American Truckers Associations report

Food

Significant shortages will occur in as little as three days, especially for perishable items following a national emergency and a ban on truck traffic.
Consumer fear and panic will exacerbate shortages. News of a truck stoppage—whether on the local level, state or regional level, or nationwide—will spur hoarding and drastic increases in consumer purchases of essential goods. Shortages will materialize quickly and could lead to civil unrest. (We’re seeing this in the UK right now)

Read Full Article Here

Rethinking Water: Greywater Guerrillas Workshop

Uploaded by on Mar 14, 2008

We had the privilege of attending a very hands on greywater workshop courtesy of The Greywater Guerrillas, a local Bay Area crew of experts who are passionate about teaching folks to use their water (twice) wisely. Greywater is water that has been used once in your home and only contains a little soap, dirt (from laundry or skin) or kitchen particles like food or grease. Unlike blackwater, which is water that has touched excrement, like toilet water, greywater is safe to use in watering your garden. As Laura Allen, co-editor of the book Dam Nation: Dispatches from the Water Underground, and our amazing instructor points out in this video: You don’t want to put the greywater onto the part of the plant that you’re going to eat…if you get the water going into the ground, there are no more health risks than would be [if you are] going out and eating dirt from your garden. So you want to get the greywater into the ground soaking down to irrigate the roots of your plants.

We were able to do just this in home owner Tara Hui’s backyard. We replaced her kitchen sink pipe with a 3 way valve giving her the choice to send her sink water back to the sewer or out to the greywater system of pipes and mulch basins surrounding four fruit trees. The system was relatively simple and inexpensive. Total price was $200 for all new pipes which included a $60 top of the line 3 way valve, a bunch of 2 way splitters and under a hundred feet of piping. If you live close to a salvage yard or are savvy on Freecycle or Craigslist you can get these materials for way cheaper or even free.

Laura touches on some of the legality of systems like this: California has a greywater code so greywater theoretically is legal…some states have no code so greywater is not legal. In California, you have the potential to do greywater…that said, the code that’s written down for greywater is very, very wasteful, it’s very bad, most people don’t follow it. In California most people have unpermitted systems which are…technically illegal, just as building anything unpermitted is technically illegal.

There are a few states, like Arizona, that encourage safe and resourceful greywater systems like the one we built here. So find out what your state allows before cutting into your pipes. But if you’re like these Californians and your state codes are no good, you’ll want to find some greywater experts to consult and keep in touch with to help change the codes for better.

 

 

[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

Oily substance at North Sea gas leak rig: Greenpeace

By Jonathan Nackstrand (AFP)

ON BOARD THE KOENIGIN JULIANA — An oily sheen has spread around a stricken North Sea gas rig, Greenpeace activists on a ship nearby said Monday, but Total insisted it was formed by gas condensate.

Greenpeace’s Koenigin Juliana research ship arrived on Monday at the edge of an exclusion zone around the abandoned Elgin platform owned by Total, 150 miles (240 kilometres) off Aberdeen in eastern Scotland.

The French energy giant insists there has been little environmental impact since the gas began leaking from the platform on March 25.

But Christian Bussau, a marine expert from Greenpeace who is on board the ship, said a multi-coloured sheen around the platform was spreading and the group was taking air and water samples.

He said he believed the substance to be oil, though he admitted Greenpeace would not be able to analyse its samples until the ship returned to its base in Germany.

“This is a really big accident,” Bussau said from the Koenigin Juliana, which is about three nautical miles from the platform. “Total must immediately start to close the leak, or the pollution won’t stop.”

It says the sheen is caused by gas condensate, or gas that has turned to vapour.

“The light condensate poses no significant threat to seabirds or other wildlife,” a Total spokeswoman told AFP.

Read Full Article Here

UPDATE 2-Total’s battle to plug gas leak hit by rough seas

By Karolin Schaps and Muriel Boselli

LONDON/PARIS, April 2 (Reuters) – Total faced rough seas and heavy winds on Monday as the oil and gas company prepared to send men and machines to battle a leak at its Elgin platform in the North Sea that has spewed gas into the air for over a week.

The French company, which is spending $1 million per day on efforts to plug the leak, plans to move drilling rigs from two nearby fields, fly staff to the platform if it is deemed safe and send two underwater inspection vehicles to check where best to drill relief wells, Total said on Monday.

“Both (inspection) vessels are currently awaiting optimum sea conditions before they can be deployed,” Total said, raising concerns that relief operations will be delayed as Met Office forecasts showed even stronger wind levels for Monday afternoon.

The company is expected to fly its own staff to the platform within the next few days, industry sources told Reuters.

Read Full Article Here

L.A. Rain Radiation Over Five Times Normal

A whopping 506% above normal,

Uploaded by EnviroReporter on Mar 31, 2012

An imperfect storm swept into Southern California on, perhaps appropriately enough, April Fools weekend creating the conditions that tested EnviroReporter.com’s scientific hypothesis that radioactive “buckyballs” and other fission radionuclides from the triple Fukushima Japan meltdowns are already impacting the region. Sure enough, a rain composed primarily of sea mist formed over a choppy ocean with high winds tested higher than any other Los Angeles Basin rain since Radiation Station Santa Monica began fallout radiation tests March 15, 2011, four days after the unabated meltdowns began. The rain, not impacted by so-called “natural” radon progeny, came in at a whopping 506% above normal, more than high enough to qualify as a hazardous material situation for the California Highway Patrol. This is the hottest L.A. rain detected with our Inspector Alert nuclear radiation monitor in the over 1,500 radiation tests we’ve taken since last year’s Ides of March.

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Cyber Space

Arizona Legislature Passes Sweeping Electronic Speech Censorship Bill

By Charles Brownstein

Yesterday, the Arizona legislature passed Arizona House Bill 2549, which would update the state’s telephone harassment law to apply to the Internet and other electronic communications. The bill is sweepingly broad, and would make it a crime to communicate via electronic means speech that is intended to “annoy,” “offend,” “harass” or “terrify,” as well as certain sexual speech. Because the bill is not limited to one-to-one communications, H.B. 2549 would apply to the Internet as a whole, thus criminalizing all manner of writing, cartoons, and other protected material the state finds offensive or annoying. The Bill is currently on Governor Jan Brewer’s desk awaiting her decision on whether to veto or sign the bill.

Media Coalition, a trade association protecting the First Amendment rights of content industries, whose membership includes CBLDF, has been active in opposing the bill. On March 14, Media Coalition sent a memo to the Senate Rules Committee regarding constitutional infirmities in H.B. 2549. Yesterday they sent a letter to Governor Brewer urging her to veto the bill.

That letter outlines the constitutional deficiencies in the bill:……

Read Full Article Here

Harper government monitoring online chats about politics
Correcting what it calls ‘misinformation’

Sheila Scott

OTTAWA (NEWS1130) – The Harper government has been monitoring political messages online, and even correcting what it considers misinformation. One local expert says the government is taking things too far.

Under the pilot program the Harper government paid a media company $75,000 to monitor and respond to online postings about the east coast seal hunt.

UBC Computer Science professor and President of the BC Freedom of Information and Privacy Association, Richard Rosenberg, says it seems unnecessary for the government to be going this far……

Read Full Article Here

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Activism

Class War and the College Crisis: The “Crisis of Democracy” and the Attack on Education

The following is the first part of a series of articles, “Class War and the College Crisis.”

By: Andrew Gavin Marshall

Today, we are witnessing an emerging massive global revolt, led primarily be the educated and unemployed youth of the world, against the institutionalized and established powers which seek to deprive them of a future worth living. In Chile over the past year, a massive student movement and strike has become a powerful force in the country against the increasingly privatized educational system (serving as a model for the rest of the world) with the support of the vast majority of the population; in Quebec, Canada, a student strike has brought hundreds of thousands of youth into the streets to protest against the doubling of tuition fees; students and others are on strike in Spain against austerity measures; protests led by or with heavy participation of the youth in the U.K., Greece, Portugal, France, and in the United States (such as with the Occupy Movement) are developing and growing, struggling against austerity measures, overt corruption by the capitalist class, and government collusion with bankers and corporations. Students and youth led the uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt last year which led to the overthrow of the dictators which had ruled those nations for decades.

All around the world, increasingly, the youth are taking to the streets, protesting, agitating, and striking against the abuses of power, the failures of government, the excesses of greed, plundering and poverty. The educated youth in particular are playing an active role, a role which will be increasing dramatically over the coming year and years. The educated youth are graduating into a jobless market with immense debt and few opportunities. Now, just as several decades ago, the youth are turning back to activism. What happened in the intervening period to derail the activism that had been so widespread in the 1960s? How did our educational system get to its present state? What do these implications have for the present and future?

The “Crisis of Democracy”

In the period between the 1950s and the 1970s, the Western world, and especially the United States, experienced a massive wave of resistance, rebellion, protest, activism and direct action by entire sectors of the general population which had for decades, if not centuries, been largely oppressed and ignored by the institutional power structure of society. The Civil Rights movement in the United States, the rise of the New Left – radical and activist – in both Europe and North America, as elsewhere, anti-war activism, largely spurred against the Vietnam War, Liberation Theology in Latin America (and the Philippines), the environmental movement, feminist movement, gay rights movements, and all sorts of other activist and mobilized movements of youth and large sectors of society were organizing and actively agitating for change, reform, or even revolution. The more power resisted their demands, the more the movements became radicalized. The slower power acted, the faster people reacted. The effect, essentially, was that these movements sought to, and in many cases did, empower vast populations who had otherwise been oppressed and ignored, and they generally awakened the mass of society to such injustices as racism, war, and repression.

For the general population, these movements were an enlightening, civilizing, and hopeful phase in our modern history. For elites, they were terrifying. Thus, in the early 1970s there was a discussion taking place among the intellectual elite, most especially in the United States, on what became known as the “Crisis of Democracy.” In 1973, the Trilateral Commission was formed by banker and global oligarch David Rockefeller, and intellectual elitist Zbigniew Brzezinski. The Trilateral Commission brings together elites from North America, Western Europe, and Japan (now including several states in East Asia), from the realms of politics, finance, economics, corporations, international organizations, NGOs, academia, military, intelligence, media, and foreign policy circles. It acts as a major international think tank, designed to coordinate and establish consensus among the dominant imperial powers of the world.

In 1975, the Trilateral Commission issued a major report entitled, “The Crisis of Democracy,” in which the authors lamented against the “democratic surge” of the 1960s and the “overload” this imposed upon the institutions of authority. Samuel Huntington, a political scientist and one of the principal authors of the report, wrote that the 1960s saw a surge in democracy in America, with an upswing in citizen participation, often “in the form of marches, demonstrations, protest movements, and ‘cause’ organizations.” Further, “the 1960s also saw a reassertion of the primacy of equality as a goal in social, economic, and political life.” Of course, for Huntington and the Trilateral Commission, which was founded by Huntington’s friend, Zbigniew Brzezinski, and banker David Rockefeller, the idea of “equality as a goal in social, economic, and political life” is a terrible and frightening prospect. Huntington analyzed how as part of this “democratic surge,” statistics showed that throughout the 1960s and into the early 1970s, there was a dramatic increase in the percentage of people who felt the United States was spending too much on defense (from 18% in 1960 to 52% in 1969, largely due to the Vietnam War).[1]

Huntington wrote that the “essence of the democratic surge of the 1960s was a general challenge to existing systems of authority, public and private,” and further: “People no longer felt the same compulsion to obey those whom they had previously considered superior to themselves in age, rank, status, expertise, character, or talents.” He explained that in the 1960s, “hierarchy, expertise, and wealth” had come “under heavy attack.” The use of language here is important, in framing power and wealth as “under attack” which implied that those who were “attacking” were the aggressors, as opposed to the fact that these populations (such as black Americans) had in fact been under attack from power and wealth for centuries, and were just then beginning to fight back. Thus, the self defense of people against power and wealth is referred to as an “attack.” Huntington stated that the three key issues which were central to the increased political participation in the 1960s were:

social issues, such as use of drugs, civil liberties, and the role of women; racial issues, involving integration, busing, government aid to minority groups, and urban riots; military issues, involving primarily, of course, the war in Vietnam but also the draft, military spending, military aid programs, and the role of the military-industrial complex more generally.[2]

Huntington presented these issues, essentially, as the “crisis of democracy,” in that they increased distrust with the government and authority, that they led to social and ideological polarization, and ultimately, to a “decline in the authority, status, influence, and effectiveness of the presidency.” Huntington concluded that many problems of governance in the United States stem from an “excess of democracy,” and that, “the effective operation of a democratic political system usually requires some measure of apathy and noninvolvement on the part of some individuals and groups.” Huntington explained that society has always had “marginal groups” which do not participate in politics, and while acknowledging that the existence of “marginality on the part of some groups is inherently undemocratic,” it has also “enabled democracy to function effectively.” Huntington identifies “the blacks” as one such group that had become politically active, posing a “danger of overloading the political system with demands.” Of course, this implies directly an elitist version of “democracy” in which the state retains the democratic aesthetic (voting, separation of powers, rule of law) but remains exclusively in the hands of the wealthy power elite. Huntington, in his conclusion, stated that the vulnerability of democracy – the ‘crisis of democracy’ – comes “from the internal dynamics of democracy itself in a highly educated, mobilized, and participant society,” and that what is needed is “a more balanced existence” in which there are “desirable limits to the indefinite extension of political democracy.”[3] In other words, what is needed is less democracy and more authority.

The Trilateral Commission later explained its views of the “threat” to democracy and thus, the way the system ‘should’ function:

In most of the Trilateral countries [Western Europe, North America, Japan] in the past decade there has been a decline in the confidence and trust which the people have in government… Authority has been challenged not only in government, but in trade unions, business enterprises, schools and universities, professional associations, churches, and civic groups. In the past, those institutions which have played the major role in the indoctrination of the young in their rights and obligations as members of society have been the family, the church, the school, and the army. The effectiveness of all these institutions as a means of socialization has declined severely.(emphasis added)[4]

The “excess of democracy” which this entailed created a supposed “surge of demands” upon the government, just at a time when the government’s authority was being undermined. The Trilateral Commission further sent rampant shivers through the intellectual elite community by discussing the perceived threat of “value-oriented intellectuals” who dare to “assert their disgust with the corruption, materialism, and inefficiency of democracy and with the subservience of democratic government to ‘monopoly capitalism’.” For the members and constituents (elites) of the Trilateral Commission, they did not hold back on the assessment of such a threat, stating that, “this development constitutes a challenge to democratic government which is, potentially at least, as serious as those posed in the past by the aristocratic cliques, fascist movements, and communist parties.”[5] This is a very typical elitist use of rhetoric in which when identifying any perceived threat to elite interests, they are portrayed in near-apocalyptic terms. The implication, therefore, is that intellectuals who challenge authority are presented as much of a threat to democracy as Hitler and fascism were.

The Trilateral Commission report explained – through economic reasoning – how increased democracy is simply unsustainable. The “democratic surge” gave disadvantaged groups new rights and made them politically active (such as blacks), and this resulted in increased demands upon the very system whose legitimacy had been weakened. A terrible scenario for elites! The report explained that as voting decreased throughout the 1960s and into the 1970s, active political participation on campuses increased, minority groups were demanding rights (how dare they!), and not only were they demanding basic human rights, but also “opportunities, positions, rewards, and privileges, which they had not considered themselves entitled to before.” That is, unlike the rich, who have considered themselves entitled to everything, always, and forever. Thus, government spending on social welfare and education increased, explained the report: “By the early 1970s Americans were progressively demanding and receiving more benefits from their government and yet having less confidence in their government than they had a decade before.” Most people would refer to that as the achievement of democracy, but for the Trilateral “intellectuals” it was an “excess of democracy,” and indeed, a threat.[6]

Samuel Huntington, naturally, assumed that the decline of confidence in the government was irrational, and had nothing to do with the Vietnam War, police and state repression of protest movements, the Watergate Scandal or other obvious crimes. No, for Huntington, the decline in confidence is tied magically to the “increased expectations” of the population, or, as Jay Peterzell explained in his critique of the report, “the root cause of public disillusionment is consistently traced to unrealistic expectations encouraged by government spending.” Huntington justified this absurd myth on his skewed analysis of the “defense shift” and “welfare shift.” The “defense shift,” which took place in the 1950s, described a period in which 36% of the increase in government spending went to defense (i.e., the military-industrial complex), whereas welfare declined as a proportion of the budget. Then came the “welfare shift” of the 1960s, in which between 1960 and 1971, only a paltry 15% of the increase in spending went to the military-industrial complex, while 84% of the increase went to domestic programs. Thus, for Huntington, the “welfare shift” basically destroyed America and ruined democracy.[7]

In reality, however, Jay Peterzell broke down the numbers to explain the “shifts” in a larger and more rational context. While it was true that the percentages increased and decreased as Huntington displayed them, they were, after all, a percentage of the “increase” in spending, not the overall percentage of spending itself. So, when one looks at the overall government spending in 1950, 1960, and 1972, the percentage on “defense” was 44, to 53, to 37. In those same years, spending on welfare amounted to 4%, 3% and 6%. Thus, between 1960 and 1972, the amount of spending on defense decreased from 53-37% of the total spending of government. In the same years, spending on welfare increased from 3-6% of the total government expenditure. When viewing it as a percentage of the overall, it can hardly be legitimate to claim that the meager increase to 6% of government expenditures for welfare was anywhere near as “threatening” to democracy as was the 37% spent on the military-industrial complex.[8]

So naturally, as a result of such terrifying statistics, the intellectual elite and their financial overlords had to impose more authority and less democracy. It was not simply the Trilateral Commission advocating for such “restraints” upon democracy, but this was a major discussion in elite academic circles in the 1970s. In Britain, this discussion emerged on the “governability thesis” – or the “overload” thesis – of democracy. Samuel Brittan’s “The Economic Contradictions of Democracy” in 1975, explained that, “The temptation to encourage fake expectations among the electorate becomes overwhelming to politicians. The opposition parties are bound to promise to do better and the government party must join in the auction.” Essentially, it was a repetition of the Trilateral thesis that too many promises create too many demands, which then create too much stress for the system, and it would inevitably collapse. Anthony King echoed this in his piece, “Overload: Problems of Governing in the 1970s,” and King explained that governing was becoming “harder” because “at one and the same time, the range of problems that government is expected to deal with has vastly increased and its capacity to deal with problems, even many of the ones it had before, has decreased.” The Italian political scientist Giovanni Sartori asked the question, “Will Democracy Kill Democracy?”

We are pursuing targets which are out of proportion, unduly isolated and pursued blindly, and that are, therefore, in the process of creating… a wholly unmanageable and ominous overload… We are beginning to realize in the prosperous democracies that we are living above our means. But we are equally and more grievously living above and beyond our intelligence, above the understanding of what we are doing.[9]

King explained that, “Political scientists have traditionally been concerned to improve the performance of government.” An obvious mistake, concluded King, who suggested that, “Perhaps over the next few years they should be concerned more with how the number of tasks that government has come to be expected to perform can be reduced.” The “remedy” for all this “overload” of democratic societies was to, first, bring “an end to the politics of ‘promising’,” and second, “attempt to reduce the expectations of voters and consumers” on the political process.[10]

The “threat” of educated youth was especially pronounced. In 1978, the Management Development Institute (a major business school in India) released a report in which it stated:

perhaps the most pernicious trend over the next decade is the growing gap between an increasingly well educated labor force and the number of job openings which can utilize its skills and qualifications… The potential for frustration, alienation and disruption resulting from the disparity between educational attainment and the appropriate job content cannot be overemphasized.[11]

In these commentaries, we are dealing with two diametrically opposed definitions of democracy: popular and elitist. Popular democracy is government of, by, and for the people; elitist democracy is government of, by, and for the rich (but with the outward aesthetic of democracies), channeling popular participation into voting instead of decision-making or active participation. Popular democracy implies the people participating directly in the decisions and functions and maintenance of the ‘nation’ (though not necessarily the State); whereas elitist democracy implies passive participation of the population so much as to allow them to feel as if they play an important role in the direction of society, while the elites control all the important levers and institutions of power which direct and benefit from the actions of the state. These differing definitions are important because when reading reports written and issued by elite interests (such as the Trilateral Commission report), it changes the substance and meaning of the report itself. For example, take the case of Samuel Huntington lamenting at the threat posed to democracy by popular participation: from the logic of popular democracy, this is an absurd statement that doesn’t make sense; from the logic of elitist democracy, the statement is accurate and profoundly important. Elites understand this differentiation, so too must the public.

The Powell Memo: Protecting the Plutocracy

While elites were lamenting over the surge in democracy, particularly in the 1960s, they were not simply complaining about an “excess of democracy” but were actively planning on reducing it. Four years prior to the Trilateral Commission report, in 1971, the infamous and secret ‘Powell Memo’ was issued, written by a corporate lawyer and tobacco company board member, Lewis F. Powell, Jr. (whom President Nixon nominated to the Supreme Court two months later), which was addressed to the Chairman of the Education Committee of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, representing American business interests.

Powell stipulated that “the American economic system is under broad attack,” and that, “the assault on the enterprise system is broadly based and consistently pursued… gaining momentum and converts.” While the ‘sources’ of the ‘attack’ were identified as broad, they included the usual crowd of critics, Communists, the New Left, and “other revolutionaries who would destroy the entire system, both political and economic.” Adding to this was that these “extremists” were increasingly “more welcomed and encouraged by other elements of society, than ever before in our history.” The real “threat,” however, was the “voices joining the chorus of criticism [which] come from perfectly respectable elements of society: from the college campus, the pulpit, the media, the intellectual and literary journals, the arts and sciences, and from politicians.” While acknowledging that in these very sectors, those who speak out against the ‘system’ are still a minority, Powell noted, “these are often the most articulate, the most vocal, the most prolific in their writing and speaking.”[12]

Powell discussed the “paradox” of how the business leaders appear to be participating – or simply tolerating – the attacks on the “free enterprise system,” whether by providing a voice through the media which they own, or through universities, despite the fact that “[t]he boards of trustees of our universities overwhelmingly are composed of men and women who are leaders in the system.” Powell lamented the conclusions of reports indicating that colleges were graduating students who “despise the American political and economic system,” and thus, who would be inclined to move into power and create change, or outright challenge the system head on. This marked an “intellectual warfare” being waged against the system, according to Powell, who then quoted economist Milton Friedman of the University of Chicago (and the ‘father’ of neoliberalism), who stated:

It [is] crystal clear that the foundations of our free society are under wide-ranging and powerful attack – not by Communists or any other conspiracy but by misguided individuals parroting one another and unwittingly serving ends they would never intentionally promote.[13]

Powell even specifically identified Ralph Nader as a “threat” to American business. Powell further deplored the changes and “attack” being made through the courts and legal system, which began targeting corporate tax breaks and loop holes, with the media supporting such initiatives since they help “the poor.” Powell of course referred to the notion of helping “the poor” at the expense of the rich, and the framing of the debate as such, as “political demagoguery or economic illiteracy,” and that the identification of class politics – the rich versus the poor – “is the cheapest and most dangerous kind of politics.” The response from the business world to this “broad attack,” Powell sadly reported, was “appeasement, ineptitude and ignoring the problem.” Powell did, however, explain in sympathy to the ‘ineptitude’ of the corporate and financial elites that, “it must be recognized that businessmen have not been trained or equipped to conduct guerilla warfare with those who propagandize against the system.”[14]

While the “tradition role” of business leaders has been to make profits, “create jobs,” to “improve the standard of living,” and of course, “generally to be good citizens,” they have unfortunately shown “little skill in effective intellectual and philosophical debate.” Thus, stated Powell, businessmen must first “recognize that the ultimate issue may be survival – survival of what we call the free enterprise system, and all that this means for the strength and prosperity of America and the freedom of our people.” As such, “top [corporate] management must be equally concerned with protecting and preserving the system itself,” instead of just focused on profits. Corporations, Powell acknowledged, were long involved in “public relations” and “governmental affairs” (read: propaganda and public policy), however, the ‘counter-attack’ must be more wide-ranging:

But independent and uncoordinated activity by individual corporations, as important as this is, will not be sufficient. Strength lies in organization, in careful long-range planning and implementation, in consistency of action over an indefinite period of years, in the scale of financing available only through joint effort, and in the political power available only through united action and national organizations.[15]

While the ‘assault’ against the system developed over several decades, Powell elaborated, “there is reason to believe that the campus [university/education] is the single most dynamic source,” as “social science faculties usually include members who are unsympathetic to the enterprise system.” These academics, explained Powell, “need not be in the majority,” as they “are often personally attractive and magnetic; they are stimulating teachers, and their controversy attracts student following; they are prolific writers and lecturers; they author many of the textbooks, and they exert enormous influence – far out of proportion to their numbers – on their colleagues and in the academic world.” Such a situation is, naturally, horrific and deplorable! Imagine that, having magnetic, stimulating and prolific teachers, what horror and despair for the world that would surely bring!

In purporting that political scientists, economists, sociologists and many historians “tend to be liberally oriented,” Powell suggested that “the need for liberal thought is essential to a balanced viewpoint,” but that the ‘balance’ does not exist, with “few [faculty] members being conservatives or [of] moderate persuasion… and being less articulate and aggressive than their crusading colleagues.” Terrified of the prospects of these potentially revolutionary youths entering into positions of power, Powell stated that when they do, “for the most part they quickly discover the fallacies of what they have been taught,” which is, in other words, to say that they quickly become socialized to the structures, hierarchies and institutions of power which demand conformity and subservience to elite interests. However, there were still many who could emerge in “positions of influence where they mold public opinion and often shape governmental action.” Thus, recommended Powell, the Chamber of Commerce should make the “priority task of business” and its related organizations “to address the campus origin of this hostility.” As academic freedom was held as sacrosanct in American society, “It would be fatal to attack this as a principle,” which of course implies that it is to be attacked indirectly. Instead, it would be more effective to use the rhetoric of “academic freedom” itself against the principle of academic freedom, using terms like “openness,” “fairness,” and “balance” as points of critique which would yield “a great opportunity for constructive action.”[16]

Thus, an organization such as the Chamber of Commerce should, recommended Powell, “consider establishing a staff of highly qualified scholars in the social sciences who do believe in the system… [including] several of national reputation whose authorship would be widely respected – even when disagreed with.” The Chamber should also create “a staff of speakers of the highest competency” which “might include the scholars,” and establish a ‘Speaker’s Bureau’ which would “include the ablest and most effective advocates form the top echelons of American business.” This staff of scholars, which Powell emphasized, should be referred to as “independent scholars,” should then engage in a continuing program of evaluating “social science textbooks, especially in economics, political science and sociology.” The objective of this would “be oriented toward restoring the balance essential to genuine academic freedom,” meaning, of course, implanting ideological indoctrination and propaganda from the business world, which Powell described as the “assurance of fair and factual treatment of our system of government and our enterprise system, its accomplishments, its basic relationship to individual rights and freedoms, and comparisons with the systems of socialism, fascism and communism.” Powell lamented that the “civil rights movement insist[ed] on re-writing many of the textbooks in our universities and schools,” and “labor unions likewise insist[ed] that textbooks be fair to the viewpoints of organized labor.” Thus, Powell contended, in the business world attempting to re-write textbooks and education, this process “should be regarded as an aid to genuine academic freedom and not as an intrusion upon it.”[17]

Further, Powell suggested that the business community promote speakers on campuses and lecture tours “who appeared in support of the American system of government and business.” While explaining that student groups and faculty would not likely be willing to give the podium over to the Chamber of Commerce or business leaders to espouse their ideology, the Chamber must “aggressively insist” on being heard, demanding “equal time,” as this would be an effective strategy because “university administrators and the great majority of student groups and committees would not welcome being put in the position publicly of refusing a forum to diverse views.” The two main ingredients for this program, Powell explained, was first, “to have attractive, articulate and well-informed speakers,” and second, “to exert whatever degree of pressure – publicly and privately – may be necessary to assure opportunities to speak.” The objective, Powell wrote, “always must be to inform and enlighten, and not merely to propagandize.”[18]

The biggest problem on campuses, however, was the need to “balance” faculties, meaning simply that the business world must work to implant spokespeople and apologists for the economic and financial elite into the faculties. The need to “correct” this imbalance, wrote Powell, “is indeed a long-range and difficult project,” which “should be undertaken as a part of an overall program,” including the application of pressure “for faculty balance upon university administrators and boards of trustees.” Powell acknowledged that such an effort is a delicate and potentially dangerous process, requiring “careful thought,” as “improper pressure would be counterproductive.” Focusing on the rhetoric of balance, fairness, and ‘truth’ would create a method “difficult to resist, if properly presented to the board of trustees.” Of course, the whole counter-attack of the business world should not simply be addressed to university education, but, as Powell suggested, also “tailored to the high schools.”[19]……

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Psy – Ops

Neighbors Spying on You? New Program Spreading Across the US Takes Neighborhood Watch to Scary New Level

Suspicious Activity Reporting asks citizens to keep an eye out on their neighbors — but the results could be terrible.

Crime in Los Angeles is a gritty enterprise, and donning an LAPD badge has historically involved getting your hands dirty. Long before the New York Police Department was spying on Muslim students, the LAPD was running a large-scale domestic spy operation in the 1970s and ’80s, snooping on and infiltrating more than 200 political, labor and civic organizations including the office of then Mayor Tom Bradley. Today, the LAPD isn’t quite so aggressive, but it still employs a directive titled Special Order 1, which permits police officers to deem what is “suspicious” and then act on it.

SO 1 enables LAPD officers to file Suspicious Activity Reports on observed behaviors or activities. Where things get murky, however, is how SAR guidelines categorize constitutionally protected, non-criminal and commonplace activities such as using binoculars, snapping photographs and taking notes as indicators of terrorism-related activity. The SARs are coupled with the LAPD’s iWatch program, a campaign the police pioneered to encourage regular citizens to report “suspicious” activity, including “a person wearing clothes that are too big or too hot for the weather,” or things that just plain old don’t “look right.”

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