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Tag Archive: Occupy


Politics and Legislation

Outside View: Jobs. Obama and re-election

by Peter Morici
College Park, Md. (UPI)

Unemployment hangs stubbornly at more than 8 percent, yet, defying election history, U.S. President Barack Obama would handily win a second term if voters went to the polls today.

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney hasn’t capitalized on the stagnant economy because after sewing up the GOP nomination, he failed to move quickly on issues critical to key demographic groups and act on the challenger’s imperative to offer a better alternative to the president’s policies.

To win conservative primary voters, Romney rejected the Dream Act, which enjoyed bipartisan sponsorship in Congress and would permit young adults brought to America illegally as children to earn citizenship by completing two years of college or military service.

After securing the nomination, Romney failed to define a compromise position more acceptable to Hispanic voters and permitted Obama to pre-empt the issue by suspending deportation of those young adults. Obama enjoys an overwhelming lead among Hispanic voters.

Romney vows to repeal ObamaCare but is vague about what would replace it. The president’s healthcare reforms may be too expensive and encourage private firms to offshore jobs to escape costly coverage for employees; however, the law contains provisions popular among the elderly and with women — for example, much improved Medicare prescription drug coverage and coverage for children with chronic conditions.

No surprise! Obama leads Romney in Florida — a must-win state for any Republican candidate, along with Texas, given the Democrats’ lock on California and New York. And the president enjoys a significant lead among women in battleground states.

On the economy, Romney sounds like a broken record, repeating an annoying theme and undermining his appeal. Constantly harping Obama’s economic policies have failed, he asserts his business experience qualifies him to create millions of new American jobs.

Voters recognize Obama inherited a bigger mess than any president since FDR, managed to stabilize the economy and created more than 3.6 million jobs since the recovery began in October 2009.

At Bain Capital, Romney earned his fortune reorganizing troubled companies — often shutting facilities, outsourcing jobs and firing employees. Little in that history indicates he knows much about shaping public policies to encourage new industries, attract private investment, instigate innovation and generally help U.S. companies compete in global markets and bring jobs to America.

During the early days of his campaign, he talked a lot about the right things — dealing with unfair competition from China and developing domestic oil — but since, he has loaded up on Bush administration economic advisers and emphasized broader themes like deregulation and tax and spending cuts.

Read Full Article Here

 

 

Egypt top court freezes Morsi decree: judicial source

by Staff Writers
Cairo (AFP)

Egypt’s Supreme Constitutional Court on Tuesday froze a decree issued by President Mohamed Morsi reinstating the Islamist-led parliament, a judicial source said.

The decision is expected to raise tensions between Morsi, the top court and the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) which handed over power to the new president at the end of June.

“The court ordered the freeze of the president’s decree,” the source said.

On Sunday, just eight days after taking office, Morsi, a former member of the powerful Muslim Brotherhood, ordered the lower house to reconvene.

His move highlighted the power struggle between the president and the Supreme Constitutional Court which last month said certain articles in the law governing the parliament elections were invalid, annulling the lower house.

The judicial source added: “The court ordered that its previous ruling (invalidating the elections and annulling the lower house) be implemented.”

Read Full Article here

Obama’s executive order on communication violates US constitution: Analyst

Published on Jul 12, 2012 by

This edition of News Analysis reviews US President Obama’s move to issue a new executive order allowing the White House to control all private communications in case of emergencies.

Putin and the Future of Russia – Eric Draitser on GRTV

Published on Jul 12, 2012 by

Eric Draitser of StopImperialism.com joins us to discuss the geopolitical significance of the reelection of Vladimir Putin as Russian President. We talk about the differences between Putin and Medvedev, the future of Russian-American relations under Putin, and the future of Syria.

New York Police Department (NYPD) has attacked and brutalized OWS protesters near Zuccotti Park

Published on Jul 12, 2012 by

As the US presidential election draw near, the New York Police Department (NYPD) has attacked and brutalized OWS protesters near Zuccotti Park, not sparing journalists who were beaten and detained.

Press TV has conducted an interview with Giles Clarke, OWS Photographer from New York about the escalation in motivation by police to crackdown violently on unarmed peaceful protesters of the OWS movement and the systematic absence of coverage of OWS in US mainstream media as the US presidential election approaches.

Romania’s PM in Brussels to defend bid to oust president

Published on Jul 12, 2012 by

http://www.euronews.com/ Romania’s Prime Minister, Victor Ponta, has held talks with EU leaders in Brussels to explain his bid to oust President Triane Basescu.

Senior European officials remain deeply concerned over the political turmoil unfolding in Bucharest.

Promising to address those concerns Ponta said:
“I’ve committed myself to give answers on this either on Friday or on Monday, to once again offer reassurances that this political battle will not undermine the rule of law, the constitution and the stability of Romania’s governing institutions in terms of European standards.”

The visit to Brussels by Ponta follows Tuesday’s ruling by Romania’s Constitutional Court to uphold Basescu’s suspension last week.

It means a referendum to impeach the centre-right president will go ahead at the end of the month.

Basescu is accused of acting against the government and parliament by blocking Ponta’s policies.

Further political rallies are set to take place in Romania in the coming weeks to bolster support for Basescu, who could hang on to his job if the turnout in the referendum is less than fifty percent.

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Economy

Wells Fargo pays $175M to settle race discrimination probe

By msnbc.com staff and news services

The Justice Department says Wells Fargo & Co. will pay at least $175 million to settle accusations that it allegedly discriminated against qualified African-American and Hispanic borrowers in its mortgage lending from 2004 through 2009.

The settlement, which needs approval from a judge, would end the investigation into whether the fourth largest U.S. bank between 2004 and 2009 knowingly targeted minorities for risky mortgages that came with higher costs, according to documents filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

“The Department of Justice today filed the second largest fair lending settlement in the department’s history to resolve allegations that Wells Fargo Bank, the largest residential home mortgage originator in the United States, engaged in a pattern or practice of discrimination against qualified African-American and Hispanic borrowers in its mortgage lending from 2004 through 2009,” said a statement from the U.S. Department of Justice.

The settlement will provide $125 million in compensation for minority borrowers the DOJ said were steered into subprime mortgages, which usually carry higher fees. Wells Fargo will pay $50 million more in direct down payment assistance to borrowers in parts of the country where the DOJ identified large numbers of discrimination victims.

At a news conference, Deputy Attorney General James Cole said the government will ensure that borrowers hit hard by the housing crisis will have an opportunity to access homeownership.

Cole said the bank’s discriminatory lending practices resulted in more than 34,000 African-American and Hispanic borrowers in 36 states and the District of Columbia paying higher rates for loans solely because of the color of their skin.

Wells Fargo in May said it could face civil charges under laws that prohibit discrimination against minority homebuyers. At the time, the lender said in a securities filing it believed the charges should not be brought and said it was seeking to show the department that it is in compliance with fair lending laws.

The government investigation found that loans submitted to Wells Fargo by mortgage brokers had varied interest rates, fees, and costs based only on race and not correlated to the borrowers’ creditworthiness, according to the court document.

Wells Fargo noted in a statement that it has denied the claims.

“Wells Fargo is settling this matter solely for the purpose of avoiding contested litigation with the DOJ,” it said, “and to instead devote its resources to continuing to provide fair credit services and choices to eligible customers and important and meaningful assistance to borrowers in distressed U.S. real estate markets.”

Read Full Article Here

 

 

JPMorgan investors wait to hear about the ‘London Whale’s’ splash

Eduardo Munoz / REUTERS

Commuters are reflected in stone as they walk past the JP Morgan headquarters in New York.

By Roland Jones

When JPMorgan reports its quarterly results Friday morning, most investors will be eager to hear just one key piece of information: How much of a splash did the London Whale make for the bank?

In mid-May, the bank announced it had sustained a multibillion-dollar loss that originated in its London office because of a failed hedging strategy undertaken by Bruno Iksil, nicknamed “The London Whale” because of the size of the trading positions he took.

Since then, JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon has appeared on Capitol Hill to explain the massive loss, which the New York Times reports has grown from the $2 billion originally reported to about $5 billion.

“Investors want to understand what happened, who knew what and when,” Betsy Graseck, a managing director for Morgan Stanley, told CNBC Thursday.

Bank earnings don’t usually attract much attention outside the Wall Street community of analysts, traders and other financial industry observers. The JPMorgan report is likely to spur greater interest because of the massive trading loss, which has enraged public opinion and led to Dimon appearing on television and two Congressional panels to own up to his company’s mistakes.

Graseck said it will be important for Dimon, for investors and for the public to set the record straight on the trading loss. He needs to detail exactly how much of the disastrous trade has been “unwound” so the company can move ahead and avoid any future volatility in its stock price that may arise from uncertainly over deeper losses.

“The question is how much [of the trade] is left to go, and what is the volatility on what’s left,” Graseck said.

Investors and the public will want to hear details of how much money will be recovered from top executives at the bank involved in the botched trade.

When he appeared before lawmakers last month to explain his bank’s multi-billion dollar losses, Dimon said the trading debacle will lead to “clawbacks” — efforts to recover compensation paid to employees whose performance was later found to have harmed the company and shareholders.

Ina Drew, the former chief investment officer who oversaw the London office where the bank’s botched trade originated, is likely to see her pay curtailed, according to reports, and so is Iksil, according to a report in the U.K’s Telegraph newspaper.

Read Full Article here

 

‘Inept Congress’ and the stock market

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Stocks finish lower amid weak sentiment

By msnbc.com news services

Stocks closed Thursday’s choppy session lower, as diminished chances of monetary stimulus from major central banks prompted investors to shy away from risky assets.

The Dow Jones industrial average closed down 31 points, having lost over 100 points earlier in the day.

Market sentiment was weak, especially after the lack of any monetary easing by the Bank of Japan on Thursday, and few clues in the minutes from the Federal Reserve’s June policy meeting, released on Wednesday. The lack of policy moves suggested major central banks were still cautious about the need for further easing.

Technology shares have been among the worst performers recently, bogged down by profit warnings from companies such as Advanced Micro Devices Inc and Applied Materials Inc.

Read Full Article Here

 

 

California city to file for bankruptcy

Published on Jul 12, 2012 by

Investors in the U.S. appear to have shrugged off the news that the city of San Bernardino has voted to file for bankruptcy. This blue collar city fifty miles East of Los Angeles had already slashed salaries and cut twenty percent of its employees. San Bernardino still faced a 45 million dollar deficit when the city council called an emergency session and voted to file for bankruptcy. Al Jazeera’s Brian Rooney reports from San Bernadino.

Car makers’ dilemma: too many plants, too few buyers

Published on Jul 12, 2012 by

http://www.euronews.com/ Peugeot’s 8,000 job cuts and closure of a plant near Paris comes as cash strapped Europeans buy fewer new cars and the region’s manufacturers ponder what to do about their surplus of factories with too much capacity.

In addition, unemployment is highest among young people – under 25-year-olds – which means a lost generation of drivers.

In France deliveries of cars and light vans fell by 0.9 percent in June after a 17 percent plunge in May.

In the first half of the year Peugeot Citroen was hit hard with a 13 percent slump in deliveries.

Fellow French carmaker Renault’s sales slipped by 3.3 percent, while Germany’s Volkswagen increased its market share in France and overall sales rose 10.2 percent.

Analyst Brenda Kelly with CMC Markets blamed austerity: “You’re seeing the effect (of austerity measures) on the private sector at the moment, and of course, as the demand for these goods (cars) goes down, so there will be an effect on the employment levels. So you would expect to see unemployment in France rise somewhat over the next quarter or so.”

Around Europe carmakers say they need help from governments to reduce their overcapacity.

It is estimated more than a third of the region’s factories are not using enough of their capacity to be profitable so the industry expects more layoffs and plant closures.

Greek jobless hits record with worse predicted

Published on Jul 12, 2012 by

http://www.euronews.com/ Challenging Spain for the worst jobless total in Europe Greek unemployment has hit a record 22.5 percent of the workforce.

That was the figure for April, which was the latest available. Analysts said the country’s economy has worsened since then and unemployment will likely go higher.

Thirty-two year old Filia, an educated jewellery maker, has been out of a job for a year and has a 10-month-old daughter. ”It’s difficult. The parents help, I use my savings that I have put aside,” she said.

Michalis, 34, lost his job in Athens at a supermarket two years ago. He then went to France and found a job there, but was forced to return to Athens for family reasons and has not been able to find a job since his return a few months ago. ”There is always hope. But in Greece you see how things are, you cannot always save, save, save, that is why we want a united Europe, there has to be a social network, why don’t they go chase the people who spent all the money,” he said.

Bianca Tampouri, a translator, cannot find work, and her husband and 18-year-old daughter are also unemployed. “All my family we all have a problem, so yes I am concerned. About the future, our jobs, our lives, our psychology, you know dignity, everything,” she said.

But some Greeks are more optimistic; Nikos Govas, who was unemployed but opened a coffee shop, said: “If you want a job, you’ll find something. The problem here is everyone wants to work in a doctor’s office or as a civil servant. But it’s not like that. A rubbish collector or a CEO, they’re both jobs and bring in a wage.”

There could be some respite from jobs created by the summer tourism season, but even that is not guaranteed as visitors numbers and revenue were down earlier this year.

Strikes and violent anti-government protests have deterred tourists from visiting.

Tourism is a key sector which accounts for about one in five jobs in Greece.

 

 

Peugeot announces massive layoffs

Published on Jul 12, 2012 by

France’s largest carmaker, Peugeot Citroen, has announced it is cutting 8,000 jobs.

3,000 will go as a result of the closure of a car plant near Paris – the first to shut in France for 20 years.

It’s a blow for new President Francois Hollande’s jobs and growth agenda, as Simon McGregor-Wood reports from Paris.

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Wars and Rumors of War

By Christopher Torchia, The Associated Press July 11, 2012

ISTANBUL – The Syrian ambassador to Iraq has defected and is on his way to Turkey, the most senior diplomat to abandon President Bashar Assad during the 16-month-old uprising, a Syrian opposition figure said Wednesday.

Nawaf Fares, a former provincial governor, would be the second prominent Syrian to break with the regime in less than a week. Brig. Gen. Manaf Tlass, an Assad confidant and son of a former defence minister, fled Syria last week, buoying Western powers and anti-regime activists, who expressed hope that other high-ranking defections would follow.

Appointed to the Baghdad post four years ago, Fares was the first Syrian ambassador to Iraq in 26 years. Like Tlass, he is a member of the privileged Sunni elite in a regime dominated by Assad’s minority Alawite sect.

“It’s certain. Fares has defected. He declared his defection. … He’s moving toward Turkey,” said Khaled Khoja, a member of the opposition Syrian National Council who is based in Istanbul. Asked for details, Khoja said the information came from his own sources on the ground in Iraq.

There was no immediate confirmation from either Iraq or Syria. An operator who answered the phone at the Syrian Embassy in Baghdad said there was nobody at the embassy. When asked if the ambassador is currently in Iraq, the operator said he did not know.

White House spokesman Jay Carney said the U.S. had no confirmation of the defection as of Wednesday afternoon. But he said recent high-level defections from the Assad regime were “a welcome development.”

“That is an indication of the fact that support for Assad is crumbling,” Carney said.

State Department spokesman Patrick Ventrell said that if true, Fares would be the first senior diplomat from the regime to defect.

Iraqi government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh also said he could not confirm whether Fares had defected.

Thousands of soldiers, most of them low-level conscripts, have deserted and joined the rebels. But despite the latest high-profile defections, Assad’s regime has largely held together in the face of the uprising — particularly compared with the swift hemorrhaging of Moammar Gadhafi’s inner circle in Libya in 2011.

The conflict in Syria has defied every international attempt to bring peace. Although the Assad government’s crackdown has turned the Syrian president into an international pariah, he still has the support of strong allies such as Russia, Iran and China.

A prominent Syrian opposition leader said Wednesday during a visit to Moscow that Russia’s resistance to international intervention in the conflict was bringing misery and “suffering” to the violence-torn country.

Two Syrian opposition delegations visited Moscow this week, raising hopes that Russia could be pushed to accept the ouster of Assad. But Syrian National Council head Abdelbaset Sieda said he saw “no change” in Moscow’s stance after meeting with officials including Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

“The Syrian people are suffering because of Russia, because of the position it has taken, because of its veto in the U.N. Security Council,” Sieda said at a news conference. “The current regime uses Russian weapons against its own people.”

Activists estimate 17,000 people have been killed since the uprising began, and as the conflict continues, the rebellion appears to be getting more and more radicalized and violent, making any peaceful resolution or transfer of power a long-shot.

Read Full Article Here

 

 

Syrian Ambassador Defects, Encourages Followers

Published on Jul 12, 2012 by

Syrian ambassador to Iraq defects and encourages others to follow suit.

 

 

DR Congo rebels ‘advance on Goma’

Confusion and fear has gripped Goma as rebels near the main eastern city.

The government of the Democratic Republic of Congo has expressed alarm as rebel forces advance towards the country’s main eastern city of Goma.

Witnesses told the BBC that rebels of the M23 group were 40km (25 miles) from the city, near the Rwandan border.

They said rebels appeared to be taking towns and villages with ease, with government troops usually melting away.

The Congolese government and the UN say Rwanda is backing the rebels, a claim Rwanda denies.

DR Congo has accused its neighbour of wanting to keep it unstable so it can exploit its rich mineral wealth.

The Congolese government has called on the international community to condemn Rwanda.

On Sunday, rebels were reported to have seized the strategic town of Rutshuru, 70km north of Goma.

A senior official at a national conservation park speaking on Monday just 40km north of Goma, told the BBC that “the rebels are very much in control of this area”.

Flexing muscles

 

Troublesome neighbors

map
  • April-June 1994: Genocide of Tutsis in Rwanda
  • June 1994: Paul Kagame’s Tutsi rebels take power in Rwanda, Hutu fighters flee into Zaire (DR Congo)
  • Rwanda’s army enters eastern Zaire to pursue Hutu fighters
  • 1997: Laurent Kabila’s AFDL, backed by Rwanda, takes power in Kinshasa
  • 1998: Rwanda accuses Kabila of not acting against Hutu rebels and tries to topple him, sparking five years of conflict
  • 2003: War officially ends but Hutu and Tutsi militias continue to clash in eastern DR Congo
  • 2008: Tutsi-led CNDP rebels march on North Kivu capital, Goma – 250,000 people flee
  • 2009: Rwanda and DR Congo agree peace deal and CNDP integrated into Congolese army
  • 2012: Mutiny led by former CNDP leader Bosco “Terminator” Ntaganda

BBC international development correspondent Mark Doyle says it is not clear if the rebels intend to attack the city.

If they do, there will be a new and massive humanitarian crisis, he says.

However, the rebels may only be flexing their muscles to strengthen their negotiating position with the government, our correspondent adds.

The rebels – who took up arms in April – named themselves the M23 after a failed peace agreement signed on 23 March three years ago.

They are supporters of renegade Gen Bosco Ntaganda, who is wanted for war crimes by the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Gen Ntaganda is an ethnic Tutsi – like the majority of Rwanda’s leadership – and a recent UN report accused Rwanda of backing the rebels.

Kikaya Bin Karubi, the Congolese Ambassador to the UK, told the BBC: “The United Nations Group of Experts last week published a report that says clearly that the so-called M23 are using Rwandan soldiers – and that’s the United Nations talking, not us.”

Rwanda has vehemently denied the accusations.

The M23 rebels defected from the army amid pressure on the government to arrest Gen Ntaganda.

An estimated 200,000 people have fled their homes since April, with about 20,000 crossing the border to Uganda and Rwanda.

Eastern DR Congo has been plagued by years of fighting.

In 1994, more than a million Rwandan ethnic Hutus crossed the border following the genocide in which some 800,000 people – mostly Tutsis – were slaughtered.

Rwanda has twice invaded its much-larger neighbour, saying it was trying to take action against Hutu rebels based in DR Congo. Uganda also sent troops into DR Congo during the 1997-2003 conflict.

 

 

US warns China of ‘conflict’ if it doesn’t agree to maritime code

Published on Jul 12, 2012 by

US secretary of state Hillary Clinton has warned of more conflict in the South China Sea if China doesn’t agree to a maritime code of conduct.

Clinton was speaking in Cambodia, at the Asia Pacific’s leading security forum.

Territorial claims in the South China Sea have dominated the agenda.

But as Al Jazeera’s Steve Chao reports, the talks ended with little meaningful agreement.

Mosaic News : Bosniaks Hold Mass Funeral on 17th Anniversary of Srebrenica Massacre

Published on Jul 12, 2012 by

Bosniaks hold another mass funeral on 17th anniversary of Srebrenica massacre, Bahraini activists rally in solidarity with Saudi protestors, suicide attack targeting police academy kills 25 in Yemen, and more.

Today’s headlines in full:

Bosniaks hold another mass funeral on 17th anniversary of Srebrenica massacre
BBC Arabic, UK

Bahraini activists rally in solidarity with Saudi protestors
Al-Alam, Iran

Yemeni tribal leaders meet to discuss US intervention in Yemen
Press TV, Iran

Suicide attack targeting police academy kills 25 in Yemen
Press TV, Iran

Saudis hold funeral for slain protestor
Press TV, Iran

Bicycle bomb attack targets Pakistan space researchers; one dead
Press TV, Iran

Syrian opposition and Russia fail to bridge gap in Moscow
New TV, Lebanon

Egyptians call for referendums on parliament dissolution, constitutional declaration
Dubai TV, UAE

Israeli state prosecutors debate proceeding with Olmert charges in real estate scandal
IBA, Israel

Israel: Migron outpost appeal hearing delayed for two weeks
IBA, Israel

Freed Palestinian soccer player Sarsak returns to Gaza
Al Jazeera, Qatar

Image: A Bosnian Muslim man sits and cries near the coffin of his relative at Memorial Center in Potocari before a mass burial, near Srebrenica July 11, 2012: REUTERS/Dado Ruvic

Mosaic is a Peabody Award-winning daily compilation of television news reports from the Middle East, including Egypt, Lebanon, Israel, Syria, the Palestinian Authority, Iraq and Iran. Watch more Mosaic at http://www.linktv.org/mosaic

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Articles of Interest

Vatican excommunicates ‘illicit’ Chinese bishop

by Staff Writers
Vatican City (AFP)

The Vatican on Tuesday said it was excommunicating a Chinese bishop ordained last week by state-sanctioned Church authorities in northeast China without Pope Benedict XVI’s consent.

“The Reverend Joseph Yue Fusheng, ordained without pontifical mandate and hence illicitly, has automatically incurred the sanctions laid down by canon 1382 of the Code of Canon Law,” the Vatican said in a statement.

Under religious law, both the bishop ordained and the bishop celebrating the ceremony without papal consent are excommunicated, meaning that they can no longer receive the Eucharist or take an active part in the liturgy.

“Consequently the Holy See does not recognise him as bishop of the Apostolic Administration of Harbin, and he lacks the authority to govern the priests and the Catholic community in the Province of Heilongjiang,” it added.

Read Full Article Here

British Army steps in as London 2012 defense plan falls short

Published on Jul 12, 2012 by

With just 16 days before the Olympic Games kick off in London, there’s been a major hitch in the much-hyped security plans. Thousands of extra British soliders have had to be drafted in after a private firm failed to supply promised guards. The company’s been paid almost 300 million pounds – but hasn’t trained enough staff. RT’s Sara Firth has more.

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Environmental

 

 

A Last (Chemical) Gasp for Bees?

Shannan Stoll
Yes! Magazine

© Brian Wolfe
Colony collapse disorder threatens food crops valued at $15 billion a year. New research says farm chemicals put our food system at risk.

Newly published scientific evidence is bolstering calls for greater regulation of some of the world’s most widely used pesticides and genetically modified crops.

Earlier this year, three independent studies linked agricultural insecticides to colony collapse disorder, a phenomenon that leads honeybees to abandon their hives.

Beekeepers have reported alarming losses in their hives over the last six years. The USDA reports the loss in the United States was about 30 percent in the winter of 2010-2011.

Bees are crucial pollinators in the ecosystem. Their loss also impacts the estimated $15 billion worth of fruit and vegetable crops that are pollinated by bees in the United States.

The studies, conducted in the United States, France, and the United Kingdom, all pointed to neonicotinoids, a class of chemicals used widely in U.S. corn production, as likely contributors to colony collapse disorder. The findings challenged the EPA’s position – based on studies by Bayer CropScience, a major producer of the neonicotinoid clothianidin – that bees are only exposed to small, benign amounts of these insecticides.

The new studies found that bees are exposed to potentially lethal amounts of neonicotinoids in pollen and in dust churned up by farm equipment. They also found that exposure to neonicotinoids can reduce the number of queen bees and disorient worker bees.

An alliance of beekeepers and environmental groups filed a petition on March 21 asking the EPA to block the use of clothianidin in agricultural fields until the EPA conducts a sound scientific review of the chemicals.

Meanwhile, farm chemicals and the biotech industry have come under fire for the problem of pest resistance. Some weeds and bugs have become less susceptible or immune to the chemicals or biotechnology used to control them.

In March, national experts on corn pests published a letter to the EPA describing how rapidly rootworms are becoming resistant to the larvae-killing gene in Monsanto’s genetically engineered “Bt” corn. The letter warns that the EPA should move to regulate Bt corn – by requiring, for example, non-GM buffer zones – with “some sense of urgency.”

In a similarly alarming trend, Monsanto’s “Roundup Ready” soy and corn, which are genetically modified to tolerate the active ingredient in Roundup, are associated with the creation of “super weeds.” The widespread use of these crops has led farmers to vastly increased use of the herbicide, leading to the development of resistant weeds.

The agriculture industry has responded to Roundup’s failure by developing new crop varieties resistant to another pesticide/herbicide, 2,4-D. An ingredient of Agent Orange, 2,4-D is linked to birth defects, hormone disruption, and cancer. Last December, Dow AgroSciences LLC asked the U.S. Department of Agriculture to approve the new varieties for cultivation.

In response, the Pesticide Action Network, Union of Concerned Scientists, Center for Food Safety, and Food and Water Watch are gathering public comments for a petition to the USDA against Dow AgroSciences’ request.

ALEC Slips Exxon Fracking Loopholes into New Ohio Law

By Connor Gibson

Wake up and smell the frack fluid. But don’t ask what’s in it, at least not in Ohio, cause it’s still not your right to know.

Ohio is in the final stages of making an Exxon trojan horse on hydrofracking into state law, and it appears that the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) connected Exxon’s lawyers with co-sponsors of Ohio Senate Bill 315: at least 33 of the 45 Ohio legislators who co-sponsored SB 315 are ALEC members, and language from portions of the state Senate bill is similar to ALEC’s “Disclosure of Hydraulic Fracturing Fluid Composition Act.”

disclosure of fracking fluids? On behalf of ExxonMobil?

Frack fluids include unknown chemicals that gas drillers mix with sand and large amounts of water. The mixture is pumped underground at high pressure in order to retrieve gas and oil by fracturing shale formations. These are the chemicals that have caused widespread concern among residents near gas fracking operations; concerns echoed by doctors who don’t know how to treat patients harmed by exposure to chemicals that oil companies keep secret. Oil companies like XTO Energy, a subsidiary of ExxonMobil, the first company lined up to drill in Ohio’s Utica shale.

Concern over unconventional energy like gas fracking may be the reason by Ohio SB 315 also addresses clean energy standards and drilling regulations. While the new law will allow doctors to obtain disclosure of fracking chemicals, it places a gag order on them…meaning some chemicals aren’t disclosed to the public at all (Cleveland Plain Dealer). Instead, chemicals that subsidiaries of Big Oil use during fracking can remain exempt from public disclosure as “trade secrets,” mirroring language of ALEC’s model law.

What’s most suspicious is that seven of the ten Ohio Senators co-sponsoring SB 315 are ALEC members, as are 26 of the 35 co-sponsoring Representatives.*

Among the co-sponsors are Ohio Senate President Tom Niehaus and state Senator Troy Balderson. Senators Niehaus and Balderson are members of ALEC’s Energy, Environment and Agriculture task force, which approved the fracking “disclosure” bill internally sponsored by ExxonMobil, modeled after a Texas bill (see New York Times and ProPublica).**

Four of the co-sponsors of SB 315 attended ALEC’s meeting in Scottsdale, Ariz., although it is unclear which (if any) of them may have been inside the EEA task force meeting the day that the fracking chemical loophole bill was discussed and approved:***

  • Rep. Cheryl Grossman
  • Rep. Casey Kozlowski
  • Rep. Louis Terhar
  • Rep. Andrew Thompson

Some co-sponsors became ALEC members in the lead up to ALEC’s late 2011 meeting in Scottsdale, where the fracking disclosure loophole model bill was finalized by ALEC’s Energy, Environmental and Agriculture task force. Emails between representatives of ALEC, an Ohio state legislative aid and Time Warner Cable’s Ed Kozelek show that last-minute recruitment of new ALEC members before the Scottsdale meeting brought in three state legislators who ended out co-sponsoring SB 315 (PDF pp. 71-76): Rep. Lou Terhar, Rep. Brian Hill and Sen. Bob Peterson (who was appointed to the Ohio Senate in 2012).

Read Full Article here

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Cyber Space

 

 

Anonymous Claims Attack on Facebook

By John P. Mello Jr., PCWorld

The notorious hacker collective Anonymous is claiming responsibility for sporadic service failures around the world at Facebook on Thursday evening.

“Some users briefly experienced issues loading the site,” Facebook says in an e-mail statement about the outage. “The issues have since been resolved and everyone should now have access to Facebook. We apologize for any inconvenience.”

However, problems appeared to be lingering Friday morning. When I tried to access my Facebook account around 8 a.m. Eastern time, I could not access the website. The problem lasted about five minutes. When the site did come back online, I had to reenter my username and password to access it.

A website that tracks outages, downforeveryoneorjustme.com, reported Facebook down early Friday morning but service returned between 9 a.m. and 9:40 a.m. Eastern time. According to just-ping.com, packets were being lost Friday morning at Facebook locations in Stockholm, Shanghai, Copenhagen, Oslo, and Lisbon; checkpoints were unavailable in San Francisco and Moscow; and an unknown host message was generated in Beijing.

During the service disruptions Thursday, a tweet was posted to the YourAnonNews Twitter account suggesting the group may be behind the Facebook disruptions. “Oh yeah… RIP Facebook a new sound of tango down bitches,” the tweet said.

While acknowledging the service disruptions, Facebook has been mum on any role Anonymous may have had in the failures.

In March, Facebook experienced a number of outages in Europe. Those outages were attributed to DDoS attacks — a common tactic used by hacktivists — by Belgium’s Cyber Emergency Response Team (CERT). Facebook did not acknowledge any connection between the outages and Anonymous at the time.

Anonymous has threatened to bring down Facebook in the past. In August 2011, the erratic group threatened to “kill Facebook” on November 5. As that date approached, however, it shelved its plans for that attack.

Follow freelance technology writer John P. Mello Jr. and Today@PCWorld on Twitter.

 

 

 

Report: Obama Ordered Stuxnet Attacks on Iran

By Grant Gross, IDG News

U.S. President Barack Obama ordered the Stuxnet cyberattacks on Iran in an effort to slow the country’s development of a nuclear program, according to a report in The New York Times.

The Times, quoting anonymous sources, reported that, in the early days of his presidency, Obama accelerated attacks related to an effort begun by the George W. Bush administration. The Stuxnet worm, long rumored to have been developed by Israel or the U.S., escaped from Iranian computers in mid-2010 and compromised computers across the Internet.

Obama considered shutting down the cyberattacks after Stuxnet began compromising other computers, but decided to continue with the program, according to the Times. The Stuxnet worm came from a joint U.S. and Israeli effort to target the Iranian nuclear program, the Times said. The newspaper interviewed U.S., Israeli, and European officials currently and formerly involved with the cyberattack program, it said.

Two-Year-Old Mystery Worm

Stuxnet was discovered in July 2010, when a Belarus-based security company detected the worm on computers belonging to an Iranian client. The consensus of security experts at the time was that Stuxnet was built by a sophisticated attacker, likely a nation state, and was designed to destroy something big, such as an Iran’s Bushehr nuclear reactor. Security experts examining the worm when it was first discovered said that it placed its own code into systems installed with Siemens software, after detecting a certain type of Programmable Logic Controller (PLC) device.

A White House spokesman declined to comment on The New York Times story.

Obama raised concerns that the Stuxnet program, code-named Olympic Games, would embolden other countries, terrorists and hackers to use similar attacks, but concluded that the U.S. had no other options available against Iran, the Times story said.

The goal of the attacks was to gain access to the industrial computer controls in Iran’s Natanz nuclear plant, the story said. The U.S. National Security Agency and a secret Israeli cyberunit developed the Stuxnet worm, the story said.

Predictable — But Risky

The report that the U.S. and Israel were behind the Stuxnet attack didn’t surprise Snorre Fagerland, senior virus analyst with Norman, an IT security vendor in Lysaker, Norway. The Stuxnet worm was “orders of magnitude” more complex and sophisticated than previous cyberattacks, he said, and the creation of the malware would have needed significant resources.

It would have taken a team of 10 to 20 people to write Stuxnet, Fagerland said.

The report of U.S. involvement may lead to an increase in cyberattacks, with other countries stepping up their offensive cybercapabilities, Fagerland said. “It raises the stakes,” he said. “That will cause others to think, ‘They’re doing it, so why shouldn’t we?'”

While several other countries may have offensive cybercapabilities, they appear to be “less organized” than the team that put together Stuxnet, he added.

Grant Gross covers technology and telecom policy in the U.S. government for The IDG News Service. Follow Grant on Twitter at GrantGross. Grant’s e-mail address is grant_gross@idg.com.

This article originally posted on PCWorld.com at 7 a.m. Pacific Time June 1.

 

Online Services Try Harder to Protect User Data, Watchdog Says

By Loek Essers, IDG-News-Service:Amsterdam-Bureau

While some online services are stepping up their efforts to protect private user data from government requests, there is plenty room for improvement, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) said on Thursday. It is time for all companies that hold private user data to make public commitments to defend their users against government overreach, the foundation said.

The EFF measured the commitment of 18 U.S. companies hosting users’ personal data, including Amazon, Facebook, and Microsoft, to protect that data from U.S. government requests. It examined their privacy policies, terms of service, published law enforcement guides if available, and the track record of companies defending user privacy in courts.

The companies were awarded stars and half stars in four categories. The EFF investigated whether users were informed about government data demands, determined whether the companies were transparent about government data requests, whether they were willing to fight for user privacy in courts, and whether the companies were fighting to protect user privacy in the U.S. Congress.

The EFF said it was pleased that Facebook, Dropbox, and Twitter have stepped up their game since last year, when it published its first report on the topic. Twitter was awarded an extra star because it started fighting for user privacy rights in Congress, and showed more effort to fight for users rights in courts, EFF data showed. The microblog service now has 3.5 stars.

Facebook gained half a star for being more transparent about government requests, bringing its total up to 1.5 stars and Dropbox gained two stars for becoming transparent about government requests and telling users about data demands, bringing its total to three out of four stars.

Sonic.net, an ISP based in California, is the first company to receive a full gold star in each category, the EFF said.

Google maintained its position with two whole and two half stars.

Apple, Microsoft, and AT&T still have one star, for fighting for user privacy in Congress, while Comcast picked up its first star for protecting its users’ privacy in the courts, according to the EFF data.

Verizon, Myspace, and Skype failed to score a star in any of the categories.

“The overall poor showing of AT&T, Verizon and Comcast, who provide Internet connectivity to so many people, is especially troubling,” the foundation said.

The EFF added five new companies to the list this year including location based services Foursquare and Loopt. Foursquare was awarded zero stars and Loopt got one for defending privacy in Congress. “We’re hopeful that next year we’ll see more protections for users from location services providers like Loopt and Foursquare, since location information is so sensitive and increasingly sought by the government,” the EFF said.

By publishing the report, the EFF hopes to stimulate companies to improve transparency about what data flows to the government and to encourage the companies to stand for user privacy when it is possible to do so, the foundation said.

Loek covers all things tech for the IDG News Service. Follow him on Twitter at @loekessers or email tips and comments to loek_essers@idg.com.

 

 

 

America’s Spy State: How the Telecoms Sell Out Your Privacy

David Rosen
AlterNet
digital privacy graphic

© n/a

Your seemingly private information is a public commodity, subject to the dictates of the security state and market opportunists.

You need to know one simple truth: you have no privacy with regard to your electronic communications.

Nothing you do online, via a wireline telephone or over a wireless device is outside the reach of government security agencies and private corporations. Your ostensible personal communication — whether a phone call, an email, a search, visiting a website, a credit card purchase, a 140 character Tweet, a movie download or a Facebook friending — is a public commodity, subject to the dictates of the security state and market opportunists.

Corporate surveillance has begun to raise consumer, Congressional and regulatory concerns – a major case, Amnesty v. Clapper, is now before the Supreme Court. One can only wonder why it is not an issue in this year’s election?

Corporate spying takes a variety of forms. GPS tracking over a wireless device is widespread. Google’s efforts to commercialize its users’ keystrokes resulted in a $25,000 fine from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Potentially more consequential, a growing chorus of criticism over its recently introduced data-harvesting program seems to have contributed to a Federal Trade Commission (FTC) investigation of Google; the FTC retained Beth Wilkinson, a high-powered outside counsel, to oversee a possible anti-trust prosecution of the company. On March 1st, Google introduced a new program that collects user data from its 60 services. Google stores “cookies” (i.e., code that compiles a record of an individual’s web browsing history) on a growing number of communications devices, whether a home PC, tablet, smartphone and a growing number of TV sets. These cookies track every website a person visits or function s/he uses. As the New York Times wrote, “The case has the potential to be the biggest showdown between regulators and Silicon Valley since the government took on Microsoft 14 years ago.”

The surveillance state is a multi-headed hydra. Corporate spying is intimately linked to the surveillance state, an omnipresent system consisting of federal, state and local security agencies. This spying system is made up of many of the leading private telecommunications and Internet companies working closely with the Department of Justice (DoJ), NSA, FBI, DHS, FCC and still other entities. This increasingly integrated federal system is complemented by an ever-growing army of state and local police “intelligence” agencies. Individual entities work either on their own, together with others and/or with private companies, many that financially benefit from commercial data harvesting.

Jon Michaels, a law professor at UCLA, warned in an invaluable 2008 study: “[P]articipating corporations have been instrumental in enabling U.S. intelligence officials to conduct domestic surveillance and intelligence activities outside of the congressionally imposed framework of court orders and subpoenas, and also outside of the ambit of inter-branch oversight.” His warning rings louder in 2012.

All the President’s Spies: Private-Public Intelligence Partnerships in the War on Terror

The attacks of 9/11 provided the rationale for the institutionalization of the security state. Now, a decade later, the U.S. is in a perpetual state of war, fighting threats both foreign and domestic, thus providing the ongoing rationale for expanding surveillance.

The principle vehicle for this policing action is the National Security Letter (NSL), an administrative demand letter or subpoena requiring neither probable cause nor judicial oversight. In effect, an NSL overrides 4th Amendment guarantees safeguarding an American’s right from unreasonable search and seizure. Between 2000 and 2010 (excluding 2001 and 2002 for which no records are available), the FBI was issued 273,122 NSLs; in 2010, 24,287 letters were issued pertaining to 14,000 U.S. residents. (Nicholas Merrill received an NSL; his experience should be a warning to us all.)

Even more alarming, if a company, journalist, person or attorney receives an NSL, they are barred from informing anyone, including the press, about the order. And the NSL is but one of an expanding number of means employed by the surveillance state to spy on an ever-growing, in effect unknowable, number of Americans.

The policies of today’s security state were instituted by a Republican, George W. Bush, and continued with even-greater vigilance by a Democrat, Barack Obama. Whoever wins in November will, if the economic suffering persists and austerity further imposed, the security state will be extended, particularly to spy on alleged domestic “threats.”

* * *

21st century surveillance is a multi-headed hydra united by a string of 0s and 1s.

Some of this spying is banal. Two U.S. malls — Promenade Temecula in southern California and Short Pump Town Center in Richmond, VA – are tracking guests’ movements by monitoring the signals from their cell phones. Using a FootPath Technology’s application, the malls capture a guest’s phone’s unique identification number and follow a shopper’s path from store to store.

Some of this spying is sci-fi. According to a CNET report, the FBI has used an innovative means of electronic surveillance in criminal investigations. It remotely activates a mobile phone’s microphone and uses it to eavesdrop on a nearby conversation. The technique is known as a “roving bug” and was approved for use by top DoJ officials in a New York organized crime case.

And some of this spying is good-old business as usual. The ACLU uncovered a lucrative scheme involving the security state outsourcing data gathering to the major telecommunications companies. The documents provides detailed information on the practices of Alltel, AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, Sprint/Nextel, Microsoft/Skype, Vonage, U.S. Wireless, Comcast, Embarq and Cricket.

The major telcos charge hundreds of dollars per wireline telephone wiretap and charge extra for the tracking of voicemail, text messages, GPS locations and other services. Profiles of some of these activities and the fees charged follow:

  • AT&T – charges a $325 per wiretap activation fee, plus $5 per day for data and $10 for audio; it gets $150 for access to a target’s voicemail; it charges $75 per “tower dump” (these allow police to see the numbers of every user accessing a certain cell tower and charges are on a per hour basis, with a minimum of two hours); location tracking costs $100 to activate and then $25 a day.
  • Verizon — charges a $50 administrative fee plus $700 per month, per wiretap, per target; it charges $50 for access to text messages; it charges between $30 and $60 per hour for each cell tower dump; it doesn’t charge police in “emergency cases, nor do we charge law enforcement for historical location information in non-emergency cases.” The company insists that it doesn’t “make a profit from any of the data requests from law enforcement.”
  • T-Mobile – charges law enforcement a flat fee of $500 per target per wiretap; it charges $150 per cell tower dump per hour; and charges a much pricier $100 per day for location tracking.
  • Sprint/Nextel – charges $400 per wiretap per “market area” and per “technology” as well as a $10 per day fee, capped at $2,000; it also charges $120 for pictures or video, $60 for email, $60 for voice mail and $30 for text messages; it also charges $50 per tower dump and $30 per month per target for location tracking. The company says it doesn’t charge law enforcement for data requests in “exigent circumstances.” It adds: “Fees are charged to law enforcement in other circumstances such as court ordered requests and it’s important to note that any fee charged is for recovery of cost required to support these law enforcement requests 24/7.”

Equally revealing, the ACLU uncovered a DoJ chart detailing how long wireless companies retain personal data. Some of what it details follows:

  • AT&T — keeps data indefinitely per cell towers used by a phone call; text messages are kept for 5 to 7 years, although it claims no to retain the text message content; and ISP session and destination info is only retained per non-public ISPs for 72 hours and not retained if a public ISP is used.
  • Verizon — stores cell-site data for “1 rolling year”; holds onto text message detail for “1 rolling year” and actual text content for 3 to 5 days; it keeps ISP session information for 1 year but ISP browsing destination history information for 90 days.
  • T-Mobile — does not retain the message content, but hangs onto your text details for “pre-paid: 2 years; post-paid: 5 years”; it does not keep ISP browsing destination history information.
  • Sprint/Nextel — keep cell-site data for 18 to 24 months and stores ISP addresses and browsing history for 60 days.
  • Virgin Mobile (owned by Sprint) — keeps text detail for “60 to 90 days” and the text message content for 90 days; it claims that a search warrant is required with “text of text” request”; it does not keep ISP browsing destination history information.

Christopher Soghoian, a leading Internet security scholar, provides an invaluable overview of this situation in a recent talk he gave at TED X.

* * *

The ACLU, through Freedom of Information requests, secured documents revealing that more than 200 police departments around the country have been engaged in (often warrantless) surveillance activities. Local and state police regularly track cell phone locations. Perhaps more disturbing, local police brass often instructs their officers to not discuss cell-tracking technology with the public.

As the ACLU reminds all Americans: “Traditionally, the government should have to obtain a warrant based upon probable cause before tracking cell phones. That is what is necessary to protect Americans’ privacy, and it is also what is required under the Constitution.” Those days are quickly slipping away.

A sampling of how state and local police employ surveillance tools is revealing.

  • Arizona – localities have acquired cell surveillance tracking equipment to avoid the time and expense of working through the commercial carrier.
  • California — state prosecutors advised local police departments on ways to get carriers to “clone” a phone and download text messages while it is turned off.
  • Michigan – police are using “extraction devices” to download data from the cell phones of motorists that they pull over; extractions take place even if the motorists that are pulled over are not accused of doing anything wrong. In addition, a cell locator was used to find a stabbing victim who was in a basement hiding from his attacker.
  • Nevada, North Carolina and other states — police departments have gotten wireless carriers to track cellphone signals back to cell towers as part of nonemergency investigations.

Little Brother is watching you.

* * *

In 2004, Mark Klein, a recently retired AT&T technician, revealed that in 2003 the NSA built a secret room at the company’s San Francisco facility on Folsom Street. The facility’s purpose was to monitor and copy all phone calls, emails, web browsing and other Internet traffic to and from AT&T customers and provides the information to the NSA. This story exposed the deeply hidden secret about federal surveillance of ordinary Americans known as the warrantless wiretap.

The Patriot Act, a draconian, anti-terrorist piece of legislation hurriedly enacted on October 26, 2001, legitimized the use of warrantless surveillance by federal agencies on U.S. citizens who the government suspected of communicating with a hostile foreign national. The Act allows the FBI to obtain telecommunication, financial and credit records without a court order.

In the wake of the popular outrage over the revelations of AT&T-NSA spying, the Congress amended the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) in 2008 to retroactively grant U.S. companies immunity from being sued by their customers when they conduct warrantless wiretaps and provide the information to government agencies.

In a recent article in Wired, James Bamford described in detail the NSA’s new “Utah Data Center,” a massive complex that will serve as a global surveillance hub. In the article, Bamford cites a revelation from William Binney, a former NSA senior official and now a whistleblower, that the agency has intercepted “between 15 and 20 trillion” communications (or “transactions” in NSA-speak) over the last decade.

The federal government draws its authority to spy on citizen from a Prohibition-era Supreme Court decision, Olmstead vs. U.S. The Court found that federal wiretapping of the private telephone conversations of a bootlegger without a prior court warrant and the subsequently use of this information as evidence in court did not violate the defendant’s 4th or 5th Amendments protections.

The 1994 adoption of the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (CALEA) extended federal spying authority.

The Act requires telecommunications carriers to provide “back doors” so that law enforcement agencies and federal intelligence organizations can capture any domestic or international telephone conversations carried over their networks. In 2004, the FCC extended these provisions to apply to broadband networks. Thus, spying expanded from conventional telephone calls to Internet services (e.g., VoIP services like Vonage), peer-to-peer systems (e.g., Skype), caller-ID spoofing (i.e., false number posting) and phone-number portability.

The FBI began building its high-tech surveillance system, the Digital Collection System Network (DCSNet), in 1997. Documents obtained by the Electronic Freedom Foundation (EFF) reveal that DCSNet can execute near-instantaneous wiretaps on almost any telephone, cellphone and Internet communications device. It also connects FBI wiretapping facilities to switches controlled by wireline operators, VoIP companies and cellular providers.

DCSNet allows the FBI to monitor recorded phone calls and messages in real time, create master wiretap files, send digital recordings to translators, track the location of targets in real time using cell-tower information and stream intercepts to mobile surveillance vans. Sprint operates the system over a private, secure and self-contained backbone.

The FBI is now urging Internet companies not to oppose a new proposal that would further extend backdoor access to social-networking websites as well instant messaging and e-mail. It would apply spying requirements to Facebook, Twitter and Xbox Live, among many others. The new provisions would apply to encrypted VoIP software from European firms like the Lichtenstein-based Secfone, available on Android-OS devices.

* * *

The battle over what were once considered sacred Constitutional privacy provisions is heating up.

The Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) is making its way through Congress; House of Representatives passed it and the Senate is now considering it. Pres. Obama has come out in opposition, warning that he will veto it, insisting: “legislation should address core critical infrastructure vulnerabilities without sacrificing the fundamental values of privacy and civil liberties for our citizens.” As currently drafted, CISPA would undermine the Obama administration’s principal Internet proposal, Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights.

CISPA is conceived as supplanting all current privacy laws by ordering all telecoms, Internet service providers (ISPs) and applications companies to hand over all personal data to the NSA and other federal agencies. Civil liberties groups like the EFF warn that the proposed Act lacks meaningful due process or judicial oversight and will essentially end Constitutional protections against unreasonable electronic search and surveillance.

How this surveillance shell game plays out will likely depend on how the Supreme Court rules in Amnesty v. Clapper. The ACLU is representing a broad coalition of attorneys and human rights, labor, legal and media organizations to determine the limits to federal warrantless wiretapping under FISA.

In 2009, a New York judge dismissed the ACLU’s original suit on the grounds that its clients, including Amnesty International, couldn’t prove that their communications would be monitored under the new law. In 2011, a federal appeals court reversed the 2009 ruling and, in May 2012, the Obama administration asked the Supreme Court to re-impose the state’s right to warrantless wiretaps and other surveillance practices on the basis of national security.

It’s a flip-of-a-coin to prognosticate on how the Court will decide this case. Will it replay it sweeping, conservative Citizens United decision or will it follow the privacy protections extended in the recent Jones decision prohibited GPS tracking of an alleged drug dealer? Stay tuned.

Today’s spy-state recalls the World War I era “red scare,” marked by the roundup of immigrant anarchists and socialist and, in many cases, their deportation. Similarly, it resonates with the anti-communism of the post-World War II era, the age of J. Edgar Hoover, Joe McCarthy and Richard Nixon. Today’s politicians, both Democrat and Republican, know how to play the security card to appease popular fears during a period of profound economic restructuring.

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Survival / Sustainability

 

 

 

The Other Side of Gainful Unemployment

Nation Of Change

By Shannon Hayes

 

“Today, I will do one thing at a time.”

These are the words I’ve been saying to myself each morning lately as I leap from my bed. I mindlessly repeat them while working through when to teach homeschool lessons to my daughters, which emails I need to respond to, when I’m going to make soap, how much beeswax I need to rinse and render, when we’re going to photograph and upload our newest farm products to the online shopping cart, which websites need to be updated, whether I’m needed or not at the farm this day or this week, what spices I need to order for sausage making, whether I’ll find time this day to get the weeds out of the raspberries, if I’ve got enough change for this Saturday’s farmers’ market, when I’m going to get to the dairy farm up the road to pick up butter for making pate to sell, what needs to happen to complete the start up of our new yarn business, which essays and articles need to be written, how I’m going to steer my newest book into publication by September, which photographs still need to get taken for the insert, which presentations need to get written for the fall speaking season, whether or not the blueberry bushes need fertilizing, when I’m going to find the time to take the girls into the woods to gather ramps.

In short, as soon as I utter that morning promise, I begin the daily process of failing to honor it as I work myself into a frenzied whirlwind of activity. My life is unusual in that nearly every item on my to-do list is something that I love. But rather than being in-the-moment to enjoy these myriad pleasures, my brain rattles me into a frenzied state, where I am constantly distracted by what else I want to accomplish. Thus, even the act of perpetually doing things I love can leave me cranky, impatient, and difficult to be around.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, Bob and I are creative people, unable to fathom a life where we would do one thing for a living. For the last decade, we have managed to carve out a livelihood for ourselves that matched our eclectic interests and our passion to produce beautiful things in harmony with the earth. We call it gainful unemployment. One of my most important contributions to this adventure has been my ability to perpetually come up with new ideas and business schemes, ensuring that the income stream for our radical homemaking household was always diversified, and thus more secure. For the sake of writing this piece this morning, I sat down for the first time and wrote a list of each of our enterprises. We had 16 different ventures.

That makes for a pretty respectable livelihood for two adults who have decided to stay home full-time with their kids. My trouble is that my most important gift in managing a life like this—my ability to envision and implement new ideas while juggling existing responsibilities—is also my greatest burden. I have a brain that doesn’t rest. I lead a life that honors the rhythms of Mother Nature, but the frenetic pace in my head impedes my soul from resonating with her vibrations.

 

Read Full Article Here

 

 

Survival fishing techniques bank lines

by M.D. Creekmore (a.k.a Mr. Prepper)  

This guest series is by Zach of fishingreports.com.

Bank lines are a form of fishing similar to trot lines. For those that do not know about trot lines, they are a way to fish without being present watching the pole. Below is a diagram of what a bank line usually looks like.

pic of survival fishing line.To make a bank line, all you need is some heavy fishing line (I recommend 100+ lb. test), swivels, and hooks. You will also need two anchors, one on land and another for the water. The water anchor can be a rock or branch, make sure the anchor isn’t too small or too large—you will need to throw it out as far as you can in order for this setup to work well. There are many custom things that can be done to a trotline, but at bare minimum you only need line, knot-making skills, swivels, and hooks.

This article is my favorite for making a simple trotline. If you have the time and live in an area where fishing would be important in a survivalist situation, I suggest making an emergency trotline ahead of time. They take up very little space and weigh next to nothing, but can be a fair amount of labor upfront to get it correctly setup.

You need to know about bank lines because they are efficient! People commonly drop off these fishing rigs in the morning and pick them up at night or the next day, thus you can be off getting other things done while the trotlines do the fishing for you. Keep in mind, however, that depending on the presentation, many trot lines and bank lines end up getting stolen by other anglers. This is why I suggest a bank line rather than a trot line—keep the rig low profile.

Read Full Article here

 

 

 

How to care for an infected wound

by M.D. Creekmore (a.k.a Mr. Prepper) 

This guest post is by  Denise H  .

As citizens of TWAWKI, some of the hardest lessons we can learn is those to which we have limited exposure. To keep our families healthy and safe we have to be sure we can handle any crisis without the luxury of the “supports” we have at this present time. Our family has been displaced from our primary location and our primary medical provider for several months. It is necessary for us to call someone to stay, while we go receive regularly scheduled care. As a result, we have chosen to address much of our medical care by natural or homeopathic methods.

Our family has recently had several health challenges.

First, I had a sinus infection with associated ear aches. For the sinus infection, I used three toes of garlic crushed and consumed in 4 oz. of orange juice, 2 x a day for two days. For the ear ache, which came back two or three times… I did two things and both helped. I hummed for 60 min morning and night,( I learned this from a current show hosted by an M.D.) and second, I took a medium-sized toe of garlic peeled it, and cut off the root end. Placed it in my ear canal.(it felt cool) and l left it for an hour to an hour and a half.

Then, due to my having had a major gastric surgery, years ago, I am blessed with multiple gastric intolerances caused from enzyme imbalances. My symptoms range from gastric discomfort to intestinal twisting.(That requires a hospital!)..and to every thing in between. I will eat a food and it causes no problem, and the next time I partake, it leaves me deathly ill. At least, that’s how I was until I discovered the effects of a herb , everlasting, which causes my wild intestines to calm to a near normal routine. One ounce of the tea, every other day, made from the herb has stopped the effects of not having digestive enzymes in sufficient quantity for normal digestion.

Herbals are medicines and should be treated with due respect. Each person who uses them , should be able to know what they are using and what kind of desired effect they will produce. So, if you have gastric distresses, intolerances, enzyme imbalances, this might be one that you would desire to research.

Our family’s most recent challenge was a badly infected wound on my dh’s right foot– an injury he dismissed as nothing until, it swelled up several days later. Upon reflection, he remembered pulling out some dried sticks that had gotten caught in his sandals a little over a week earlier. He’d had little bleeding and did not realize he needed to be concerned.

I have chosen to make this as descriptive as possible with the goal of assisting anyone required to give wound care to gain a perspective on the difference in an infected wound and an inflamed one. Wounds heal in stages and one must be able to tell when the wound has progressed to the next level, requiring a change in care.

What we did worked, for we had the privilege of going to dh’s attending physician on day 11 of the treatment. He declared it infection free, and had us continue antibiotic cream for three more days. Then, just keep the wound clean and dry. Post TEOTWAWKI, I don’t believe we will have that luxury.

Late one evening, my dh comes up and says, ” ‘Tater, check my foot!” So I have him put it up, and I start the evaluation.

On his left foot I find, an oval blister, on the inner aspect of his second toe that is still closed. This intact blister is even and uniform in color, it has no hardness under the toe. I can’t see any foreign material in it and the redness, approx circumference of an inch, is confined to the 2nd. toe.

BUT, On his right foot I find a very angry-looking 2nd and 3rd toe. They are swelled, so much he can’t bend them. There is redness on top of the foot, extending almost an inch from the base of the two toes. There is a hard lump at the base of the third toe. and there is a huge oval blister, approx 3/4′ tall, and extends the entire swelled depth of the toe…and about 3/4″ long. It is ringed with multiple colors including purple, yellow.

I cleaned it, it appeared to have some foreign material in it. Dh said “open it!”. So I got out a sculpture needle, sterilized it, and proceeded. There was about 1/2 tsp.of foreign material, some debri and thin,blood tinged exudate, removed with the opening. To further clean the wound, I prepared a hot soak with 3 gallons water, as warm as he could tolerate, 1/2 cup epsom salt and 2-Tablespoons,(30cc)6% bleach. We soaked it for 30 min., then dried his feet.

Upon checking the condition of the wound I determined that it was still dirty. There was still some dead material and old blood in the wound. I could not see pink tissue in the bottom of the wound and it was angry and inflamed. So I determined the wound needed debridement (removal of dead material) and I prepared a debriedment paste with… 2 tablespoons granulated sugar, one tablespoon of honey and 1 tablespoon of betadyne.. I packed the wound with this and secured a sterile 2×2.

The other wound (on his Left foot) I protected with a 2×2 and antibiotic ointment. The next morning and evening we soaked both feet,using a fresh solution of epsom salt and bleach.. each time,noticing an improvement with reduction of redness and associated swelling.Then, reapplied the debridement paste.

On day 3, after the long soak, the wound was pink inside. The debriedment was complete. The swelling was down to a level that allowed him to move his toes. The redness was reduced to the toes only and no longer to the top of the foot The wound was still angry and there was a persistent red, hard area at the base of that third toe.

 

Read Full Article Here

 

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Activism

 

 

Occupy Buffalo convinces city to withdraw $45 million from JPMorgan

By Eric W. Dolan

JPMorgan sign via AFP

Buffalo City Comptroller Mark J.F. Schroeder announced on Thursday that the city would be pulling $45 million in funds from an account with JPMorgan Chase, following concerns raised by members of the Occupy Buffalo movement.

BuffaloNews.com reported that the Buffalo Sewer Authority funds will be deposited into a higher-yielding account with the local bank First Niagara. The new account will earn 0.30 percent interest. The account with JPMorgan had a 0.25 percent interest rate.

“Not only will the funds earn more interest with First Niagara, a major local employer headquartered in Buffalo, but it also sends a crystal clear message to JPMorgan Chase that the City of Buffalo is not happy with their business practices,” Schroeder said in a statement.

Members of the Occupy Buffalo movement and others had urged the Buffalo Common Council to withdrawal their funds from JPMorgan. The group of demonstrators have been critical of the major bank’s foreclosure practices.

“I commend the comptroller for seeking a solution to concerns raised by residents, while at the same time saving taxpayers’ money by doing business with a local bank,” said Council President Richard A. Fontana.

Source: Raw Story (http://s.tt/1d7xR)

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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

Mexican Farmers Block Monsanto Law to Privatize Plants and Seeds

By Occupy Monsanto

“The proposed modifications promote a privatizing model that uses patents and “Plant Breeders’ Rights” (PBR) to deprive farmers of the labor of centuries in developing seed.”

Article image

Progressive small farmer organizations in Mexico scored a victory over transnational corporations that seek to monopolize seed and food patents. When the corporations pushed their bill to modify the Federal Law on Plant Varieties through the Committee on Agriculture and Livestock of the Mexican Chamber of Deputies on March 14, organizations of farmers from across the country sounded the alarm. By organizing quickly, they joined together to pressure legislators and achieved an agreement with the legislative committee to remove the bill from the floor.

What’s at stake is free and open access to plant biodiversity in agriculture. The proposed modifications promote a privatizing model that uses patents and “Plant Breeders’ Rights” (PBR) to deprive farmers of the labor of centuries in developing seed. The small farmers who worked to create this foundation of modern agriculture never charged royalties for its use.

Although the current law, in effect since 1996, pays little heed to the rights of small farmers, the new law would be far worse. Present law tends to benefit private-sector plant breeders, allowing monopolies to obtain exclusive profits from the sale of seeds and other plant material for up to 15 years, or 18 in the case of perennial ornamental, forest, or orchard plants–even when the plants they used to develop the new varieties are in the public domain.

The legislative reform would extend exclusive rights from the sale of reproductive material to 25 years. Further, it seeks to restrict the rights of farmers to store or use for their own consumption any part of the harvest obtained from seeds or breeding material purchased from holders of PBRs.

The proposed law would also include genetically modified organisms (GMOs) among the plant varieties covered, converging with the so-called Monsanto Law (Law of Biosecurity and Genetically Modified Organisms). This is an absurd inclusion, since GMOs are created by introducing genetic material from non-plant species.

GMOs cannot be considered a distinct variety, because they do not result from the genetic variability that underlies natural selection. They are the result of manipulation through biotechnology that crosses the boundaries between species and realms. Another absurdity is the private appropriation of genetic information from live organisms, even those altered with genes of other species.

The proposed law would create a “Monsanto Police,” by giving the National Service for the Inspection and Certification of Seeds the authority to order and conduct inspection visits, demand information, investigate suspected administrative infractions, order and carry out measures to prevent or stop violations of PBR, and impose administrative sanctions, which are increased by the proposal. It would have a government agency promote PBRs held by individuals or corporations.

Holders of PBRs already gain exclusive rights to exploit plant varieties and material for their propagation. The bill under consideration would extend those rights over the products resulting from use of monopolized plant varieties so that, for example, a special license would have to be obtained to use the variety in foods for human consumption or industrial uses.

Read Full Article Here

Obama Leaves Monsanto in Charge of Ending Hunger in Africa

By Alexis Baden-Mayer, Esq., Political Director
Organic Consumers Association, May 23, 2012

At the Group of 8 (G8) meetings this past weekend, President Obama and the leaders of the rest of the world’s richest nations abandoned their governments’ previous commitments to donate $7.3 billion a year to end hunger in Africa, after disbursing only 58 percent of the total pledge of $22 billion and giving less than 6 percent in new money they pledged three years ago.

Instead, rich nations will leave the problem in the hands of the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition where private corporations will invest $3 billion over 10 years — Monsanto has committed $50 million — beginning in three countries, Tanzania, Ghana and Ethiopia. (Human-rights activists have questioned the inclusion of Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, noting that his authoritarian government has jailed dissidents and banned media access to hunger zones. The Committee to Protect Journalists said in a letter to President Obama that the Ethiopian government “routinely downplays the extent of the crisis by denying journalists access to sensitive areas and censoring independent news coverage.”)

The main U.S. spokesperson for the New Alliance is USAID administrator Rajiv Shah. OCA opposed Dr. Shah’s appointment because of his work for the Gates Foundation and his position as a board member of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), which actively promote expensive and unsustainable technologies like genetic engineering.

Ronnie Cummins, Director of the Organic Consumers Association, issued the following statement in response to the news:

“Study after study has shown that organic, agro-ecological farming practices on small diverse farms can boost yields in Africa and the developing world from 100-1000% over the yields of chemical-intensive or genetically engineered mono-crop farms. To help the world’s two billion small farmers and rural villagers survive and prosper we need to help them gain access, not to genetically engineered seeds and expensive chemical inputs; but rather access to land, water, and the tools and techniques of traditional, sustainable farming: non-patented open-pollinated seeds, crop rotation, natural compost production, beneficial insects, and access to local markets. Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) reduce crop yields, and increase pesticide use, even according to USDA statistics. Bill Gates, Monsanto, and Barack Obama may believe that genetic engineering and chemical-intensive agriculture are the tools to feed the world, but a look at the fatal harvest of modern agribusiness tells a different story. Not only can climate-friendly, healthy organic agriculture practices feed the world, but in fact organic farming is the only way we are going to be able to feed the world.”

OCA political director Alexis Baden-Mayer prepared the following notes for a talk she gave at the Occupy G8 People’s Summit, critiquing the New Alliance:

Contrary to the talking points of President Obama and the other leaders of the G8 nations, the problem of feeding the world isn’t about the need to produce more food, it’s about stopping the way wealthy countries are subsidizing their richest farmers, grabbing up the best land in Africa, speculating on food commodities in their financial markets, wasting food, diverting crop production to livestock feed and biofuels, and ratcheting up the costs of farming by encouraging the use of expensive and unsustainable GMO seeds, pesticides and fertilizers.

The world already produces more than 1 1/2 times enough food to feed everyone on the planet. That’s enough to feed 10 billion people, the population peak we expect by 2050.

70 percent of this food is produced by 3 billion small-scale food producers worldwide.

Nevertheless, 1 billion people on the planet are chronically hungry, and 70% are farmers.

If the G8 actually cared about ending hunger, they’d:

Stop Industrial-Scale Food Producers from Wasting the World’s Resources

35 percent of the food produced worldwide feeds meat and dairy animals. If humans switched to all-plant diets, all that agricultural land could produce 50 percent more human food, because feeding crops to animals that then become meat is a highly inefficient way to transfer plant energy to people.

10 percent of global vegetable oil is being diverted to biodiesel.

6 percent of global grain is being diverted to ethanol.

30 to 50 percent of food intended for human consumption in the world gets wasted.

Stop Wall Street from Gambling on Hunger, and End Speculation in the Food Markets

The share of the food market owned by speculators, uninvolved in the food production process, has risen from 12% in 1996 to 61% today. The 4 biggest grain buyers, including ADM, Bunge, Cargill and Louis and Dreyfus, dominate 75- 90% of the trade in grain worldwide generating profits in the realm of $2 to 3 billion a year.

Read Full Article Here

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Cyber Space

‘ACTA could turn honest citizens into criminals by mistake’

Published on May 31, 2012 by

The controversial ACTA anti-piracy agreement has been dealt a blow by the European Parliament. Three key committees have voted against the treaty, citing concerns over its legality. ACTA sparked Europe-wide protests, with activists saying online freedom of speech is being put at risk.

Rick Falkvinge from the Swedish Pirate Party says the treaty is confused at best.

FISA: US under total surveillance

Published on May 31, 2012 by

On Thursday, US lawmakers discussed whether or not the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act should be renewed. FISA gives government the power to monitor phone calls, emails and other forms of electronic communication. Critics believe that FISA can now be used to target citizens all in the name of homeland security. Andrew Blake, RT’s web producer, joins us with more on the controversial legislation and discusses other legislation such as CISPA, SOPA and PIPA.

MegaUpload case to be dismissed?

Published on May 31, 2012 by

One of the biggest copyright infringement cases in history just took a turn. MegaUpload’s founder Kim Dotcom has taken steps to throw out the case where his company allegedly got rich off of the piracy of copyrighted movies, music and media. The defense is now arguing that the website can be held accountable for its users. Liz Wahl has more.

WikLeaks Founder Assange Loses U.K. Extradition Appeal

The Vancouver Sun

Britain’s Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange can be extradited to Sweden, but put his deportation on hold to give his lawyers a final chance to reopen the case.

The court, which handed down its decision after an 18-month legal marathon, rejected Assange’s argument that the Swedish prosecutor who issued the arrest warrant over sex crime allegations was not entitled to do so.

Julian Assange

© unknown
Julian Assange

“The request for Mr Assange’s extradition has been lawfully made and his appeal against extradition is accordingly dismissed,” Supreme Court president Nicholas Phillips said as he delivered the ruling to a hushed courtroom.

The seven judges were split five to two but their majority ruling was that the prosecutor was a rightful judicial authority, and therefore allowed to issue the warrant for the Internet whistleblower.

But in a new twist, Assange’s lawyer Dinah Rose asked for 14 days to consider whether to apply to reopen the case, on the grounds that the judgment referred to material that was not mentioned during the last hearing in February.

The judge granted the request, which is highly unusual in the three-year history of the Supreme Court.

“With the agreement of the respondent, the required period for extradition shall not commence until 13th June 2012,” the Supreme Court said in a statement.

Assange, a 40-year-old Australian national, was not in the central London court for the judgment. One of his supporters, journalist John Pilger, said he was “stuck in traffic” with his mother, who flew in from Australia for the verdict.

The Swedish lawyer for the two women who accuse Assange of rape and sexual assault said he would be extradited eventually.

“The decision was what we expected . . . It’s unfortunate that it has been delayed further, but he will ultimately be extradited,” Claes Borgstroem told AFP.

Assange is at present wanted for questioning over the sex crime allegations, but Borgstroem said he expected an indictment perhaps within a month after he gets to Sweden.

Australia said it would closely monitor the case and added that consular officials were available to help him if he wished.

“The Australian government cannot interfere in the judicial processes of other governments but we will closely monitor the proceedings against Mr Assange in Sweden,” said a spokeswoman for Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs.

Assange, whose website enraged Washington by releasing a flood of state and military secrets, has been living under tight restrictions on his movement for 540 days, including wearing an ankle tag and reporting daily to police.

He has said he fears his extradition would eventually lead to his transfer to the United States, where U.S. soldier Bradley Manning is facing a court-martial over accusations that he handed documents to WikiLeaks.

Outside court, Assange’s principal lawyer Gareth Peirce confirmed that the extradition was stayed while his legal team considers whether to apply to reopen the case, although the judgment still stands.

The point in question is the interpretation of the Vienna Convention on the law of treaties, “which was never addressed in the hearing, one way or another, by either side,” Peirce added.

If Assange fails to have the case reopened in Britain, he still has the option of a last-ditch appeal to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.

The white-haired Assange does not deny that he had sex with two WikiLeaks volunteers in Sweden while attending a WikiLeaks seminar, but insists the sex was consensual and argues there are political motives behind the attempts to extradite him.

Assange’s mother Christine told Australian television ahead of the judgment: “It’s a 24-hour nightmare because we know he is not safe and the biggest governments in the world are gunning for him.”

The former computer hacker has been fighting deportation since his arrest in London in December 2010 on the European arrest warrant issued by Sweden.

The Supreme Court is his final avenue of appeal under British law, after two lower courts ruled he should be sent to Sweden for questioning.

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Survival / Sustainability

Permaculture with Jack Spirko Part 1 – 6

Introduction

Published on May 28, 2012 by

This is the first video in a long series on the basics of permaculture, during this series we will be covering the ethics, principals of design, earth works and more. In this video though I just want to explain why I am doing this series and how permaculture relates to modern survival thinking.

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Activism

New Face of Terror: FBI creates bogeyman out of Occupy

Published on May 29, 2012 by

From disorganized slackers to terrorists – the Occupy movement has seen its media image go from bad to worse over its nine months of existence. Protesters now even face accusations that they pose a threat not just to Corporate America, but to the country as a whole. But activists say it’s all just scaremongering to stifle the movement.

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Articles of Interest

Privacy Group Wants Google’s Driverless Cars Kept off the Road

By Sharon Gaudin, Computerworld

A privacy group is calling on the California Assembly to keep Google’s self-driving cars off the road.

Consumer Watchdog, a non-profit privacy group, sent an open letter to the Assembly today urging members to defeat a bill, SB 1289, that would allow Google’s self-driving cars on California’s roads unless the bill is amended to provide “adequate” privacy protection for the cars’ users.

The letter (download PDF) asks legislators to ban all data collection from Google’s autonomous cars.

“While we don’t propose to limit the ability of the cars to function by communicating as necessary with satellites and other devices, the collection and retention of data for marketing and other purposes should be banned,” wrote Jamie Court, president of Consumer Watchdog, and John Simpson, privacy project director. “Unless the bill is amended, once again society will be forced to play catch-up in dealing with the impact of the privacy invading aspects of a new technology.”

Google has been pushing ahead with its research into developing autonomous automobiles that can be sold commercially.

Earlier this month, the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles gave Google the state’s first license for driverless cars. It was also the first autonomous vehicle license ever issued in the United States, according to the Nevada DMV website.

“The cars have a number of sensors, such as cameras, lasers and radar, to monitor road conditions and improve the technology,” said Chris Gaither, a Google spokesman in an email to Computerworld. “For our testing purposes, the cars log data about their performance — how fast they’re going, where they are, where they detect obstacles, etc. — as well as data from the equipment on the car.”

Gaither noted that he could not say what, if any, data would continue to be collected from the cars once testing is over and they are being sold commercially. “It would be premature to speculate,” he added.

The letter was sent to Assembly Speaker John A. Perez, who has not replied to a request for comment.

According to Gaither, Google’s driverless cars have logged more than 200,000 miles so far.

Last month, Google executives went to Detroit looking for partners in the company’s efforts to develop the vehicles. Anthony Levandowski, head of Google’s self-driving car project, told an audience there that the company would like to get such cars on the road within the next decade.

A Google spokesman told Computerworld last month that the company has been reaching out to automakers but is keeping its options open.

Sharon Gaudin covers the Internet and Web 2.0, emerging technologies, and desktop and laptop chips for Computerworld. Follow Sharon on Twitter at @sgaudin, on Google+ or subscribe to Sharon’s RSS feed. Her email address is sgaudin@computerworld.com.

See more by Sharon Gaudin on Computerworld.com.

BYOD: Time to Adjust Your Privacy Expectations

By Tom Kaneshige, CIO

BYOD: Time to Adjust Your Privacy ExpectationsSome employees thought they were pretty sneaky downloading confidential data from corporate computers to thumb drives days before they turned in their resignations and bolted to a competitor.

More often than not, they didn’t get away with it. Armed with forensic computer analysis–namely, the USB port registry–managers confronted these employees during the exit interview.

What gives managers the right to pursue legal action or at least ask for those incriminating thumb drives back? The answer: a smorgasbord of protective polices with employees’ signatures on them, including the confidentiality non-disclosure policy, the ethics policy, the conflict of interest policy, the authorized use of computers policy.

“The BYOD fact pattern isn’t that dramatically different, and policies can be written to provide that type of protection for the employer,” says Brent Cossrow, partner at Fisher and Phillips, a law firm specializing in labor and employment law.

He adds: “Given the business interest that could be in jeopardy, there are employers who would take a look at how their computers were used in a certain time period. If a BYOD policy was written in a certain way, it could provide support for that examination.”

[Slideshow: 10 Coolest Tech Devices to Bring to Work]

Cossrow’s practice area is employee defection and trade secrets, and so he helps companies navigate the murky legal waters that BYOD, or bring-your-own-device, stirs up. An employee-owned BYOD smartphone or tablet blurs the line between personal and work use. Compared to the thumb drive, a BYOD can easily store trade secrets either locally on the device or via a cloud storage service.

At the center of the legal debate is an employee’s expectation of privacy. Cossrow says the smartest companies will craft a detailed, customized BYOD policy that works in harmony with existing protection policies. Among the more restrictive regimes, employees would have to sign away their expectation of privacy with a BYOD smartphone or tablet that’s being used in conjunction with corporate computers.

Without an expectation of privacy, employees should assume they have no privacy on their personally owned BYODs.

For employees, it may get even worse. “I think we’re going to see case law evolve over time with companies wanting to do more ambitious and extensive searches of personal data on those devices,” Cossrow says.

A Legal Precedent?

On the upside, BYOD employees have at least one legal precedent in their workplace privacy corner, Stengart v. Loving Care Agency.

In December 2007, Marina Stengart resigned from Loving Care Agency in New Jersey and sued for gender discrimination. Just before resigning, Stengart communicated with her attorney via a personal, password-protected Yahoo email account on a company computer.

This use case blends personal and work actions on a single device, a precursor to BYOD.

Loving Care Agency hired a computer forensics expert who burned a forensic image of the computer, which uncovered HTML screen shots of the personal emails. A trial judge ruled that the emails were not protected by attorney-client privilege because a policy stated that emails were company property.

Stengart and her attorney took the matter to the New Jersey Superior Court, and the appellate judge reversed the decision. The judge held that those personal communications were protected. A big win for employee privacy, right?

[Slideshow: 15 Ways iPad Goes to Work]

Many factors played in the reversal, such as Stengart’s sophistication of computers. While the employee handbook might state that an employee waives the expectation of privacy, this doesn’t mean that the employee has a knowledge of how HTML files are created and whether or not a password will protect access to those files.

The Stengart v. Loving Care Agency case, though, has a big flaw for BYOD employees: The reversal toward employee privacy rights was anchored in the attorney-client privilege.

“It’s not likely that the same quality of protection would be available for non-privilege communication under those facts,” Cossrow says. “How broadly will Stengart be used? We’re going to see different types of [BYOD] policies, and they’re going to be tested in court over time.”

The BYOD Policy

BYOD policies are subject to state and federal laws, which can vary depending on the type of industry a company serves.

As stated earlier, a BYOD policy should work in harmony with existing protection policies. BYOD policies can be written to provide some protection against certain risks and some policies allow companies to inspect the BYOD in an exit interview.

BYOD employees better know what they’re signing, which often entails giving up their expectations of privacy.

“The art to this BYOD employment practice is defining the ground rules on which these devices can be used,” Cossrow says.

“If the employer is saying that you do not have an expectation of privacy with a personal device that you use in conjunction with corporate systems, this lets the employee know the device could be subject to a search or a review.”

Tom Kaneshige covers Apple and Consumerization of IT for CIO.com. Follow Tom on Twitter @kaneshige. Follow everything from CIO.com on Twitter @CIOonline and on Facebook. Email Tom at tkaneshige@cio.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.]

Environmental

Genetic engineering: The world’s greatest scam?

Uploaded by on Sep 11, 2009

(French version — http://www.greenpeace.org/ogm)
Genetic engineering is a threat to food security, especially in a changing climate. The introduction of genetically manipulated organisms by choice or by accident grossly undermines sustainable agriculture and in so doing, severely limits the choice of food we can eat.

Once GE plants are released into the environment, they are out of control. If anything goes wrong – they are impossible to recall.

GE contamination threatens biodiversity respected as the global heritage of humankind, and one of our world’s fundamental keys to survival.

Time, place and how wood is used are factors in carbon emissions from deforestation

by Staff Writers
Davis CA (SPX)


File image.

A new study from the University of California, Davis, provides a deeper understanding of the complex global impacts of deforestation on greenhouse gas emissions. The study, published in the advance online edition of the journal Nature Climate Change, reports that the volume of greenhouse gas released when a forest is cleared depends on how the trees will be used and in which part of the world the trees are grown.

When trees are felled to create solid wood products, such as lumber for housing, that wood retains much of its carbon for decades, the researchers found. In contrast, when wood is used for bioenergy or turned into pulp for paper, nearly all of its carbon is released into the atmosphere. Carbon is a major contributor to greenhouse gases.

“We found that 30 years after a forest clearing, between 0 percent and 62 percent of carbon from that forest might remain in storage,” said lead author J. Mason Earles, a doctoral student with the UC Davis Institute of Transportation Studies. “Previous models generally assumed that it was all released immediately.”

The researchers analyzed how 169 countries use harvested forests. They learned that the temperate forests found in the United States, Canada and parts of Europe are cleared primarily for use in solid wood products, while the tropical forests of the Southern hemisphere are more often cleared for use in energy and paper production.

“Carbon stored in forests outside Europe, the USA and Canada, for example, in tropical climates such as Brazil and Indonesia, will be almost entirely lost shortly after clearance,” the study states.

The study’s findings have potential implications for biofuel incentives based on greenhouse gas emissions. For instance, if the United States decides to incentivize corn-based ethanol, less profitable crops, such as soybeans, may shift to other countries. And those countries might clear more forests to make way for the new crops. Where those countries are located and how the wood from those forests is used would affect how much carbon would be released into the atmosphere.

Earles said the study provides new information that could help inform climate models of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the leading international body for the assessment of climate change.

“This is just one of the pieces that fit into this land-use issue,” said Earles. Land use is a driving factor of climate change. “We hope it will give climate models some concrete data on emissions factors they can use.”

In addition to Earles, the study, “Timing of carbon emissions from global forest clearance,” was co-authored by Sonia Yeh, a research scientist with the UC Davis Institute of Transportation Studies, and Kenneth E. Skog of the USDA Forest Service.

The study was funded by the California Air Resources Board and the David and Lucile Packard Foundation.

Related Links
University of California – Davis
Forestry News – Global and Local News, Science and Application

Nearly one-tenth of hemisphere’s mammals unlikely to outrun climate change

by Staff Writers
Seattle WA (SPX)


The percentage of mammal species unable to keep pace with climate change in the Americas range from zero and low (blue) to a high of nearly 40 percent (light orange). Credit: U of Washington.

A safe haven could be out of reach for 9 percent of the Western Hemisphere’s mammals, and as much as 40 percent in certain regions, because the animals just won’t move swiftly enough to outpace climate change. For the past decade scientists have outlined new areas suitable for mammals likely to be displaced as climate change first makes their current habitat inhospitable, then unlivable.

For the first time a new study considers whether mammals will actually be able to move to those new areas before they are overrun by climate change.

Carrie Schloss, University of Washington research analyst in environmental and forest sciences, is lead author of the paper out online the week of May 14 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

“We underestimate the vulnerability of mammals to climate change when we look at projections of areas with suitable climate but we don’t also include the ability of mammals to move, or disperse, to the new areas,” Schloss said.

Indeed, more than half of the species scientists have in the past projected could expand their ranges in the face of climate change will, instead, see their ranges contract because the animals won’t be able to expand into new areas fast enough, said co-author Josh Lawler, UW associate professor of environmental and forest sciences.

In particular, many of the hemisphere’s species of primates – including tamarins, spider monkeys, marmosets and howler monkeys, some of which are already considered threatened or endangered – will be hard-pressed to outpace climate change, as are the group of species that includes shrews and moles. Winners of the climate change race are likely to come from carnivores like coyotes and wolves, the group that includes deer and caribou, and one that includes armadillos and anteaters.

The analysis looked at 493 mammals in the Western Hemisphere ranging from a moose that weighs 1,800 pounds to a shrew that weighs less than a dime. Only climate change was considered and not other factors that cause animals to disperse, such as competition from other species.

To determine how quickly species must move to new ranges to outpace climate change, UW researchers used previous work by Lawler that reveals areas with climates needed by each species, along with how fast climate change might occur based on 10 global climate models and a mid-high greenhouse gas emission scenario developed by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

The UW researchers coupled how swiftly a species is able to disperse across the landscape with how often its members make such a move. In this case, the scientists assumed animals dispersed once a generation.

It’s understandable, for example, that a mouse might not get too far because of its size. But if there are many generations born each a year, then that mouse is on the move regularly compared to a mammal that stays several years with its parents in one place before being old enough to reproduce and strike out for new territory.

Western Hemisphere primates, for example, take several years before they are sexually mature. That contributes to their low-dispersal rate and is one reason they look especially vulnerable to climate change, Schloss said. Another reason is that the territory with suitable climate is expected to shrink and so to reach the new areas animals in the tropics must generally go farther than in mountainous regions, where animals can more quickly move to a different elevation and a climate that suits them.

Those factors mean that nearly all the hemisphere’s primates will experience severe reductions in their ranges, Schloss said, on average about 75 percent. At the same time species with high dispersal rates that face slower-paced climate change are expected to expand their ranges.

“Our figures are a fairly conservative – even optimistic – view of what could happen because our approach assumes that animals always go in the direction needed to avoid climate change and at the maximum rate possible for them,” Lawler said.

The researchers were also conservative, he said, in taking into account human-made obstacles such as cities and crop lands that animals encounter. For the overall analysis they used a previously developed formula of “average human influence” that highlights regions where animals are likely to encounter intense human development. It doesn’t take into account transit time if animals must go completely around human-dominated landscapes.

“I think it’s important to point out that in the past when climates have changed – between glacial and interglacial periods when species ranges contracted and expanded – the landscape wasn’t covered with agricultural fields, four-lane highways and parking lots, so species could move much more freely across the landscape,” Lawler said.

“Conservation planners could help some species keep pace with climate change by focusing on connectivity – on linking together areas that could serve as pathways to new territories, particularly where animals will encounter human-land development,” Schloss said.

“For species unable to keep pace, reducing non-climate-related stressors could help make populations more resilient, but ultimately reducing emissions, and therefore reducing the pace of climate change, may be the only certain method to make sure species are able to keep pace with climate change.”

The third co-author of the paper is Tristan Nunez, now at University of California, Berkeley. Both Schloss and Nunez worked with Lawler while earning their master’s degrees. Lawler did this work with support from the UW School of Environmental and Forest Sciences using, in part, models he previously developed with funding from the Nature Conservancy and the Cedar Tree Foundation.

Related Links
University of Washington
Darwin Today At TerraDaily.com

One Quarter Of Grouper Species Being Fished To Extinction

by Staff Writers
San Francisco CA (SPX)


Groupers are among the highest priced market reef species (estimated to be a multi-billion dollar per year industry), are highly regarded for the quality of their flesh, and are often among the first reef fishes to be overexploited.

Groupers, a family of fishes often found in coral reefs and prized for their quality of flesh, are facing critical threats to their survival. As part of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Species Survival Commission, a team of scientists has spent the past ten years assessing the status of 163 grouper species worldwide.

They report that 20 species (12%) are at risk of extinction if current overfishing trends continue, and an additional 22 species (13%) are Near Threatened. These findings were published online on April 28 in the journal Fish and Fisheries.

“Fish are one of the last animal resources commercially harvested from the wild by humans, and groupers are among the most desirable fishes,” said Dr. Luiz Rocha, Curator of Ichthyology at the California Academy of Sciences, and one of the paper’s authors.

“Unfortunately, the false perception that marine resources are infinite is still common in our society, and in order to preserve groupers and other marine resources we need to reverse this old mentality.”

The team estimates that at least 90,000,000 groupers were captured in 2009. This represents more than 275,000 metric tonnes of fish, an increase of 25% from 1999, and 1600% greater than 1950 figures. The Caribbean Sea, coastal Brazil, and Southeast Asia are home to a disproportionately high number of the 20 Threatened grouper species. (A species is considered “Threatened” if it is Critically Endangered, Endangered, or Vulnerable under IUCN criteria.)

Groupers are among the highest priced market reef species (estimated to be a multi-billion dollar per year industry), are highly regarded for the quality of their flesh, and are often among the first reef fishes to be overexploited. Their disappearance from coral reefs could upset the ecological balance of these threatened ecosystems, since they are ubiquitous predators and may play a large role in controlling the abundance of animals farther down the food chain.

Unfortunately, groupers take many years (typically 5-10) to become sexually mature, making them vulnerable for a relatively long time before they can reproduce and replenish their populations.

In addition, fisheries have exploited their natural behavior of gathering in great numbers during the breeding season. The scientists also conclude that grouper farming (mariculture) has not mitigated overfishing in the wild.

Although the prognosis is poor for the restoration and successful conservation of Threatened grouper species, the authors do recommend some courses of action, including optimizing the size and location of Marine Protected Areas, minimum size limits for individual fish, quotas on the amount of catch, limits on the number of fishers, and seasonal protection during the breeding season.

However, the scientists stress that “community awareness and acceptance, and effective enforcement are paramount” for successful implementation, as well as “action at the consumer end of the supply chain by empowering customers to make better seafood choices.”

These findings are posted online here.

Related Links
California Academy of Sciences
Darwin Today At TerraDaily.com

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Cyber Space

Debut of Cut-Rate Mobile Plan Marred by Alleged Malicious Attack

The launch of a cut-rate unlimited $39-a-month mobile plan offered by upstart Voyager Mobile was marred Tuesday by what the company claims is “a malicious network attack to its primary website.”

By Daniel Ionescu, PCWorld

The launch of a cut-rate unlimited $39-a-month mobile plan offered by upstart Voyager Mobile was marred Tuesday by what the company claims is “a malicious network attack to its primary website.” The company now says it’s postponing the launch of its budget plan until an unspecified date.

The company had generated buzz for its low prices. Voyager Mobile had planned to offer a contract-free $19 per month that included unlimited calls and texts. A second plan included a $39 plan that included unlimited calls, text and 3G/4G data. Voyager Mobile had planned to piggyback its service on Sprint’s network and operate as a mobile virtual network operator (MNVO).

Voyager Mobile would also resell some of the most popular Android smartphones on Sprint such as the Motorola Photon 4G, Samsung Galaxy Epic 4G Touch, and some yet-unnamed Windows Phone 7 devices, USB dongles and mobile hotspots. The company was meant to unveil its website on Tuesday at 6AM ET.

Voyager Posted a note to its website: “Due to the network outage, Voyager Mobile is postponing its launch to a time and date in the very near future. Our goal of low cost wireless service for all will not be undermined and we strive to continue the voyage for a better wireless world.”

Voyager declined to comment when asked about the alleged attack. It’s also unclear why any group or individual would target this company.

US Postal Service Won’t Fly iPads, iPhones, MacBooks out of Country

By Karen Haslam, macworld.co.uk

From 16 May it will not be possible to ship iPads, iPhones or laptops overseas from the US using the United States Postal Service (USPS).

USPS believes that lithium batteries – which feature in devices including the iPad, iPhone, MacBooks, and other smartphones, laptops, and tablets – pose too great of a risk to be shipped overseas. An amendment to the company’s documentation states: “lithium batteries are not permitted in international mail.”

The USPS will still allow these products to be shipped within the US. UPS and FedEx will continue to ship such items overseas, however.

The revised Mailings of Lithium Batteries document states: “Primary lithium metal or lithium alloy (nonrechargeable) cells and batteries or secondary lithium-ion cells and batteries (rechargeable) are prohibited when mailed internationally or to and from an APO, FPO, or DPO location”.

USPS will lift the restriction in January 2013, however. The document explains: “On 1 January 2013, customers will be able to mail specific quantities of lithium batteries internationally (including to and from an APO, FPO, or DPO location) when the batteries are properly installed in the personal electronic devices they are intended to operate.”

The January 2013 modification is due to changes in international standards that USPS is aware of following discussion with the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and the Universal Postal Union (UPU). “International standards have recently been the subject of discussion by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and the Universal Postal Union (UPU),” states USPS in its documentation.

Apple is reported to have opposed stricter regulations restricting lithium-battery shipments by air.

The reason for regulations regarding the transportation of lithium-batteries by air is that they can spontaneously combust. The UN rules, which will become effective on 1 January 2013, state that pilots must be notified when lithium batteries are on a flight, shipments should be labelled as hazardous materials, and employees should have training in handling such cargo.

There have been several plane crashes directly attributed to exploding lithium batteries in the last few years, according to reports.

Facebook Users Don’t Trust Site on Privacy Issues

By Ian Paul, PCWorld

Facebook Users Don't Trust Site on Privacy IssuesFacebook lays claim to more than 900 million members across the globe and may have a massive initial public offering in the coming days, but a new poll says users have trust issues with the social networking site. More than half of those surveyed, 59 percent, said they had little to no trust that Facebook would keep their information private, according to an AP-CNBC poll. The study also found that 54 percent of the survey’s 1,004 respondents would not “feel safe at all” purchasing goods and services through the world’s largest social network.

The news that Facebook users do not trust the company to keep their information private is hardly surprising given the social network’s shady past with privacy-related issues. Concerns over privacy changes involving new products such as Beacon, frictionless sharing, Instant Personalization, and Places always make headlines. And seemingly never-ending changes to Facebook’s terms of service and privacy policy allow users to think twice about trusting Facebook.

Despite Facebook’s privacy challenges, however, the social network keeps on growing, and users continue to share their most personal information with a company they reportedly don’t trust. Facebook in July 2010 claimed 500 million users and in the less than two years since the social network has nearly doubled its user base. And despite Facebook’s privacy woes, it is still one of the most popular sites for sharing photos with an average of more than 300 million images uploaded daily for the three months ending March 31, according to the company.

Facebook Users Don't Trust Site on Privacy IssuesDespite Facebook’s privacy trust problems, the finding that Facebook is not trusted when it comes to online purchases is a little surprising. To purchase items on Facebook you need to buy Facebook credits, which are only available through Facebook itself. Users can then use these credits to buy virtual items in popular games such as Zynga’s Farmville, rent movies, and, perhaps coming soon, self-promote your own posts.

Facebook does have to contend with malicious software stealing user credentials and clickjacking scams, but the company is also pretty active when it comes to security (sometimes too much so). Facebook has also offered secure SSL encryption since 2011. Some users may be wary about Facebook now, but I wonder if that will change as more services start using Facebook credits.

Connect with Ian Paul (@ianpaul) on Twitter and Google+, and with Today@PCWorld on Twitter for the latest tech news andanalysis.

Apple E-Book Lawsuit: Steve Jobs Swayed Publisher, Complaint Alleges

By John P. Mello Jr., PCWorld

Apple E-Book Lawsuit: Steve Jobs Swayed Publisher, Complaint AllegesApple cofounder Steve Jobs got directly involved in an alleged conspiracy to fix e-book prices after a publisher balked at participating in the scheme, according to a court document filed by 31 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.

The document, an amended complaint to an antitrust lawsuit by the states and others against Penguin, Macmillan and Apple, was filed in a New York federal district court. A similar lawsuit against the publishers and Apple has been filed by the Department of Justice.

According to the complaint, when one of the conspiring publishers dragged its feet on entering the e-book pricing deal with Apple, Jobs was enlisted to sell high-ranking officials in the publisher’s parent company on the wisdom of the proposed pricing scheme.

“As I see it,” Jobs wrote, the publisher had the following choices:

1. Throw in with Apple and see if we can all make a go of this to create a real mainstream ebooks market at $12.99 and $14.99.

2. Keep going with Amazon at $9.99. You will make a bit more money in the short term, but in the medium term Amazon will tell you they will be paying you 70% of $9.99. They have shareholders too.

3. Hold back your books from Amazon. Without a way for customers to buy your ebooks, they will steal them. This will be the start of piracy and once started, there will be no stopping it. Trust me, I’ve seen this happen with my own eyes.

“Maybe I’m missing something, but I don’t see any other alternatives. Do You?” he wrote.

Within three days of the letter, the amended complaint noted, the foot-dragging conspiring publisher and its co-conspirators agreed on an “agency” e-book pricing scheme and signed an agency deal with Apple.

In their complaint, the states and others allege that Apple joined publishers Hachette, HarperCollins, Macmillan, Penguin and Simon & Schuster in a price-fixing conspiracy and facilitated their scheme to increase e-book prices.

Apple facilitated the alleged conspiracy, the states argue, by bringing the publishers into agreement with one another on how to go about increasing e-book prices.

The publishers’ plan was carried out in two steps, the complaint explained. First, the existing wholesale model for selling books — where retailers decided the price consumers paid for e-books — would be replaced with an agency model in which the publishers controlled the price consumers paid for an e-book. Second, retail e-book prices would be increased.

As a result of the alleged conspiracy, Apple and the publishers “agreed to eliminate e-book retail price competition between Apple and Amazon and other outlets.

Rather than hinder competition, Apple claims its deal with the publishers fostered competition. “The launch of the iBookstore in 2010 fostered innovation and competition, breaking Amazon’s monopolistic grip on the publishing industry,” it said in a statement issued after the Justice Department filed its lawsuit against the company.

“Just as we have allowed developers to set prices on the App Store, publishers set prices on the iBookstore,” it added.

However, there’s evidence that the deal Apple cut with the publishers to sell e-books wasn’t as common as the high-tech firm would like the public to believe.

Apple E-Book Lawsuit: Steve Jobs Swayed Publisher, Complaint AllegesThat agreement contains something called a “most-favored nation” clause. Typically, those clauses are included in contracts to protect a buyer from wholesale price fluctuations.

Apple’s most-favored nation clause was different, according to the Justice Department. “[I]nstead of [a clause] designed to protect Apple’s ability to compete, this [clause] was designed to protect Apple from having to compete on price at all, while still maintaining Apple’s 30 percent margin,” the Justice Department said in its complaint against Apple and the publishers.

Follow freelance technology writer John P. Mello Jr. and Today@PCWorld on Twitter.

LightSquared Declares Bankruptcy After GPS Worries Sank Its Mobile Dream

By Stephen Lawson, IDG News

LightSquared, the startup that planned a nationwide wholesale mobile network only to be shot down by regulators because of GPS interference concerns, is declaring bankruptcy.

The move came after lengthy negotiations with lenders and does not shut down the company’s only commercial operation, a satellite-based mobile service. The bankruptcy is expected to give Philip Falcone, the hedge-fund chief who built LightSquared out of two satellite acquisitions, several months of control over how the company addresses its troubles.

LightSquared wanted to run an LTE mobile broadband network using frequencies next to those used by GPS, which historically had been reserved for satellite service. Part of the promise of LightSquared was the prospect of a wholesale-only provider of LTE capacity to both large and small mobile operators, potentially making the high-speed mobile business in the U.S. more competitive.

However, in February, the FCC said it would kill LightSquared’s planned network because it would interfere with GPS receivers. As a result, LightSquared’s main asset, its spectrum, has little value unless the company can reach another deal with the agency that would give it other spectrum to work with.

Documents detailing the bankruptcy are expected to be released later Monday.

Stephen Lawson covers mobile, storage and networking technologies for The IDG News Service. Follow Stephen on Twitter at @sdlawsonmedia. Stephen’s e-mail address is stephen_lawson@idg.com

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Survival / Sustainability

Three Things Every Newbie Survivalist Should Have

by M.D. Creekmore  

It’s a question I hear a lot from new preppers: “what should I buy first and where do I start?”

And while there are a lot of different answers depending on individual situations and needs, usually my recommendation to those starting out, is to start a food storage program, buy a good water filter and a dual purpose firearm for foraging and protection.

Food Storage Program

Let’s face it most people aren’t familiar with basic foods such as hard red wheat, whole corn, soybeans etc, nor are they conversant with their preparation. So I suggest, beginning survivors start out with foods they are familiar with.

Most canned foods off the grocers shelf have a shelf life of three to five years, make a list of everything your family eats for a week, then buy 10 cases of every non-perishable item on the list.

Even though canned foods have a limited shelf life you’re going to rotate so you’ll always have a fresh supply.

Say you start out with ten cases of chili. Mark each case from 1 to 10. You start with case number 1, when you finish eating it, buy another case and mark it as case number 11. Start on case number 2, when done buy another case and mark it as case number 12 and so on.

Read Full Article Here

Solar Cookers  How to make  your  own and how to use it

CooKit

CooKit.jpg

Panel solar cookers are the first solar cookers that are truly affordable to the world’s neediest. In 1994, a volunteer group of engineers and solar cooks associated with Solar Cookers International developed and produced the CooKit, based on a design by French scientist Roger Bernard. Elegant and deceptively simple looking, it is an affordable, effective and convenient solar cooker. With a few hours of sunshine, the CooKitmakes tasty meals for 5-6 people at gentle temperatures, cooking food and preserving nutrients without burning or drying out. Larger families use two or more cookers.

The CooKit is made of cardboard and foil shaped to reflect maximum sunlight onto a black cooking pot that converts sunlight into thermal (heat) energy. A heat-resistant bag (or similar tranparent cover) surrounds the pot, acting like a greenhouse by allowing sunlight to hit the pot and preventing heat from escaping. It weighs half a kilogram and folds to the size of a big book for easy transport.

The CooKit folds to be about the size of a large notebook when not in use.

CooKits are now produced independently in 25 countries from a wide variety of materials at a cost of $3 – $7 US. Note that you can either build your own CooKit using the plans below or you can order a pre-built Cookit from Solar Cookers International. Your purchase helps support SCI’s work around the world.

CooKits complement other cooking methods needed at night and on cloudy days. Coming about twenty years after the first efforts to replace open fires with improved cooking stoves, the CooKit uses no fuel at all. The CooKit is both user-friendly and environmentally friendly. Families can save scarce, expensive fuel for when they cannot solar cook and when economically capable, add other, higher cost cooking improvements such as modern biomass, smoke hoods, biogas, or liquefied petroleum gas. A single CooKit of normal dimensions (see below) is not able to cook a pot of food large enough to feed a large family. To cook larger amounts of food a box-style cooker may be a better choice.

Solar Cooker Diagram (English)

Solar Oven detailed instruction PDF (English)

For other languages  please  see the  site,  they  have  many  languages  available

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Activism

Occupy organic vegetable gardens – Rebirth of the Victory garden

By JB Bardot, 
(NaturalNews) During World Wars I and II, private citizens were encouraged to plant Victory gardens in an effort to support the war effort and take the strain off the food industry, providing more food for citizens living at home. Little gardens popped up all over the country and they were called Victory gardens because people envisioned a victorious end to strife, sadness and hardship. Victory gardens in the U.S. produced a staggering 40% of the food supply. The Victory garden campaign resulted…

FILE – In this Friday, June 17, 2011 file image made from video released by Change.org, a Saudi Arabian woman drives a car as part of a campaign to defy Saudi Arabia’s ban on women driving, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. (AP Photo/Change.org, File)

OSLO — In May 2011, Manal al-Sharif did something revolutionary: She drove a car.

In most societies this would be far from noteworthy, but in Saudi Arabia, where women are prohibited from getting behind the wheel, it was an act of extraordinary courage. The protest, which she put on YouTube, landed al-Sharif in jail for nine days. It also made her an international figure. In the last year, she has been named one of the “Top 100 Global Thinkers” by Foreign Policy magazine and one of Time magazine’s “100 most influential people of 2012.”

And last week, the 32-year old Saudi was one of three people awarded the first annual Václav Havel Prize for Creative Dissent at the Oslo Freedom Forum.

To attend the conference in Norway, al-Sharif says she was pressured out of her job at the Saudi oil company Aramco. Considering she is a working-class single mother, it couldn’t have been an easy decision to continue her human rights fight in the face of such economic pressures. But, as al-Sharif told The Daily Caller, “if you stand up for your beliefs, there is a price to pay.”

“They pressured me a lot and it was like too much to take,” she said, explaining that while she was not explicitly fired, she was increasingly marginalized at the company for her activism, leading to her exit after coming into conflict again with her bosses over attending the conference.

After first stating that she didn’t “want to talk about” the pressure she has suffered under since her Rosa Parks-like act of defiance, she conceded that the Saudi government does “pressure you a lot, whether directly or indirectly.”

“So they can cause a lot of trouble,” she went on. “They scandalize you, they smear you … they spread all these rumors about you … But it’s up to you how to deal with that pressure. The more pressure it is, the more attacks I get, the more impact I know that I’m making.”

Environmentalist group laud Supreme Court move to look into country’s GMO approval system

A recent move by the Supreme Court stop commercial production of genetically-modified Bt eggplant in the Philippines was welcomed by a group of environmentalists and concerned individuals

    • By Gilbert P. Felongco, Correspondent

Manila: A recent move by the Supreme Court stop commercial production of genetically-modified Bt eggplant in the Philippines was welcomed by a group of environmentalists and concerned individuals.Greanpeace said the Supreme Court decision to grant a Writ of Kalikasan in favour of stopping Bt eggplant field trials in the country while further studies are being conducted is a step forward in the fight against so-called “Frankenstein” food that harm not only the human body but the environment as well.

Many independent scientific studies provide clear evidence that GMOs such as Bt eggplant, as well as Bt corn, can negatively impact the liver, kidneys or blood when ingested”

               Greenpeace

“Greenpeace believes the granting of the Writ of Kalikasan to be a recognition of the threats that GMOs pose to human health and the environment. We welcome this as a positive development: GMOs and GMO field trials clearly violate every Filipino’s constitutional right to a balanced and healthful ecology, and their invasion into our fields and our diets must be stopped,” said Daniel Ocampo, Sustainable Agriculture Campaigner, Greenpeace Southeast Asia.

The Writ of Kalikasan (Nature) is a legal remedy designed for the protection of one’s constitutional right to a healthy environment.

In the same breath, Greenpeace called for greater scrutiny of the country’s GMO approval system as it welcomed the Supreme Court decision to stop field trials of the genetically-modified organism (GMO) Bt eggplant in the Philippines.“The Supreme Court has given hope to Filipinos as its decision now puts into the spotlight the country’s flawed GMO approval system which has never rejected any GMO application, allowing dangerous GMO crops to be eaten and planted by Filipinos. This is an outrage and such a regulatory system which clearly disregards public good must be scrapped,” he added.

According to Greenpeace, there are serious uncertainties regarding the safety and long-term impacts of GMOs.

“Many independent scientific studies provide clear evidence that GMOs such as Bt eggplant, as well as Bt corn, can negatively impact the liver, kidneys or blood when ingested,” the group said.

Last April 26, petitioners led by Leo Avila of Davao City Agriculturist Office, Atty. Maria Paz Luna, former Senator Orlando Mercado and Greenpeace Southeast Asia Executive Director Von Hernandez filed a petition asking the Supreme Court to issue a Writ of Kalikasan against GMO field trials.

The petition seeks to immediately stop the field trials of Bt eggplant. It also puts into question the flawed government regulatory process for approving GMOs and ensuring the safety of GMOs first on health and environmental grounds before they are released into the open.

Despite the scientific doubt that surrounds GMO food crops, the Philippines has never rejected any GMO application, approving, since 2002, a total of 67 GMOs for importation, consumption and propagation.

Most of these GMOs are approved as food for Filipinos.
While other countries are taking the precautionary approach to GMOs, Greenpeace said the Philippine Department of Agriculture has done exactly the opposite.

Walker’s World: Europe’s voters revolt

by Martin Walker
Munich, Germany (UPI)

The anti-austerity revolt of European voters continued Sunday when electors in a key German province gave Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats just 28 percent of the vote, the party’s lowest perentage since 1948.

This is a grim time to be in office in Europe. Voters have turned out governments in Britain, Ireland, Portugal, Italy, Spain, France and Greece. And while Merkel remains in office at the national level and remains personally popular, her own coalition with Bavaria’s Christian Social party is fraying badly.

How much of Sunday’s vote was against the austerity that Merkel is forcing upon Europe and how much a reaction against the way Germany continues reluctantly to bail out the bankrupt European partners is an open question. Either way, it means voters are losing trust in Merkel’s economic stewardship, even though Germany has recovered more strongly from the crisis than any other European economy.

Sunday’s vote also reflected the ongoing crisis of the traditional two-party system, with smaller German parties continuing to take votes from the big two — Merkel’s Christian Democrats and the moderate-left Social Democrats. The Greens got 12 percent, the centrist Free Democrats recovered to 8 percent and the bizarre new Pirate Party, committed to Internet freedom and votes for teenagers, repeated its earlier success in Berlin.

All this took place as Greece slid further down the slope toward what the markets are calling “Grexit,” a Greek exit from the euro, which many fear would trigger Europe’s biggest crisis since World War II. After their chaotic elections and inability to form a coalition government, it isn’t easy to see how Greece musters the political will to make the budget cuts and suffer the economic pain required to remain inside the euro.

But if Greece goes, it is also not easy to see how to prevent the contagion spreading to Portugal, Spain and even Italy as depositors take their euros from their own national banks and deposit them in safer German banks, rather than see savings eroded by devaluation.

The dirty secret here is that on close examination Germany’s economic situation, despite its strong manufacturing sector and massive export trade, isn’t nearly as strong as it looks.

Germany’s Market Economy Foundation reports that in addition to the official national debt of roughly $2.6 trillion, there are $5.9 trillion in future benefit promises to retirees, the sick and people requiring nursing care. These are commitments that aren’t documented in official budgets nor has any provision been made to finance them. When these commitments are included, Germany’s real debt isn’t the “official” 80 percent of gross domestic product but 276 percent.

Moreover, the disguised way in which Germany has continued to bail out the weaker Europeans is becoming a serious public issue. This is done through the “Target2” system of the European Central Bank, where the debits and credits of the various eurozone members are held.

There has been a sharp jump in the Bundesbank’s Target2 claims within the European Central Bank’s internal payment network from $706 billion in February to $795 billion in March. Bundesbank claims have risen six-fold since 2008. Bundesbank chief Jens Weidmann is demanding collateral from weaker states for Target2 transfers.

These German credits, equivalent to $800 billion, are balanced by debts of Greek, Irish, Portuguese, Spanish and Italian central banks of almost $850 billion. So long as the German central bank doesn’t demand its money, it is in effect bankrolling the other European partners. And since this is done between central banks, there has been no parliamentary authorization for this hidden bailout.

“The euro-system is near explosion,” said Professor Hans-Werner Sinn, head of Germany’s IFO Institute, addressing Austria’s Economics Academy on April 19. “This enormous international credit should have been subjected to the parliaments of Europe.”

He may well be right. But the voters seem intent on throwing the parliaments of Europe into disarray or into coalitions that are either unworkable or impotent to take the decisive action required.

This might not be so alarming, were it not that even bigger political challenges lie in wait for Europe. Its social contract and generous welfare state is becoming steadily less sustainable as the society ages. More and more people are qualifying for pensions and expensive elderly healthcare while fewer and fewer young people are coming into the labor market and when they do there are few jobs for them.

If things look grim for Europe’s incumbent politician now, they will soon look even worse as they are forced to push through new laws raising the retirement age, curbing pension and welfare payments and raising taxes.

Related Links
Democracy in the 21st century 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.]

Politics and Legislation

The Goldwater Institute Suing Obama’s Agenda 21 Scheme: Blocking Water To Tombstone, Arizona USA!

April 29, 2012 by Volubrjotr

TOMBSTONE

Almost one year later, the legendary town of Tombstone, Arizona is no closer to beginning the repair of waterlines destroyed as a result of widespread forest fires and mudslides. Unearthing pipelines from as much as twelve feet of mud and boulders, and repairing aqueducts destroyed in the Monument Fire of 2011, ought to be daunting enough for a town of 1,500. But, throw in the bureaucratic nightmare of the US Forest Service and it becomes an all but impossible task.

As if to further prove Jeffrey Tucker’s argument that “the [modern] state works to reverse progress in every possible way,” the feds have declared that any work to repair the pipelines will have to be done using equipment straight out of the 19th Century. According to The Goldwater Institute, which has sued the US Forest Service on behalf of Tombstone, the city was told it would have to use “horses and hand tools to remove boulders the size of Volkswagens.”

The town currently relies on ground wells to survive, but there is an insufficient supply to protect the town in the event of more disasters. City manager George Barnes said their present situation “doesn’t allow for a building fire, a well-pump failure; it doesn’t allow for much of anything.”

Read Full Article Here

 

 

U.S. seeks to modernize NATO, deepen partnerships

By Agence France-Presse
Th

natotroops.afp

CHICAGO — The United States will push to modernize NATO, deepen alliance partnerships and hammer out details of the Afghanistan withdrawal at an upcoming summit, White House officials said Thursday.

“The alliance needs to be more deployable and more adaptable and we’re taking those lessons learned from Afghanistan and integrating them into our planning going forward,” said Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall, the National Security Council’s director of European affairs.

NATO is pursuing a number of “smart defense” initiatives that will ensure that in an era of constrained military budgets, the transatlantic military alliance acts as a “force multiplier” that avoids “duplication or wasted expenditure,” she said.

Read Full Article Here

 

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Economy

Romney Advises Broke, About-to-be-Unemployed College Students: “Just Borrow Money From Your Parents!”

…….Think I’m exaggerating? The Mittster’s latest Richie Rich moment from the campaign trail has him regaling an audience of economically anxious college students with some swell advice on how to succeed in business: just be like his “friend” sandwich shop entrepreneur Jimmy John, and get your parents to bankroll the costs of a start-up! Hey, that sounds easy — why didn’t I think of that?!

Here’s Mittens:

This kind of divisiveness, this attack of success, is very different than what we’ve seen in our country’s history. We’ve always encouraged young people: Take a shot, go for it, take a risk, get the education, borrow money if you have to from your parents, start a business……

 

Read Full Article Here

 

Republicans Want to Axe Food Stamps to Preserve Exorbitant Military Budget

 For the Republicans’ constant trumpeting of saving the economy in public, they have proven time and again that’s exactly the opposite of what they want to do. The latest: the GOP would like to save the disproportionate defense spending by… cutting food stamps. No, America, they do not care about your well being, or whether all of us can afford to eat. The Huffington Post:

In a memo sent to members Wednesday instructing them how to write their reconciliation bill, Republicans picked a number of targets, including extracting $80 billion from federal workers and $44 billion from health care. In all, it identifies $78 billion to cut in 2013, and details around $300 billion over 10 years.

Read Full Article Here

 

Gulf Coast Waters Closed to Shrimping

State officials in Alabama have taken action, and other states need to take action to keep dangerous seafood from the Gulf off the dinner tables of Americans.

The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources acted this week to close waters along the Gulf Coast to shrimping due to widespread reports from scientists and fishermen of deformed seafood and drastic fall-offs in populations two years after the BP oil spill. [‘Official’ reason is now reported to be smaller than average shrimp.]

All waters in the Mississippi Sound and Mobile Bay, and some areas of Bon Secour, Wolf Bay and Little Lagoon were closed to shrimpers. Reports of grossly deformed seafood all along the Gulf from Louisiana to the Florida panhandle have been logged with increasing urgency, but Alabama is the first state to actually close waters to the seafood industry.

Read Full Article Here

 

 

The Bailout Of The US Postal Service Begins: Cost To Taxpayers – $110,000 Per Union Vote “Saved Or Gained”

Submitted by Tyler Durden

A week ago, when reading between the lines of what had heretofore been considered an inevitable USPS episode of austerity in which hundreds of thousands of labor union workers would lose their jobs but in the process would streamline a thoroughly outdated and inefficient US Postal Office bureaucracy, we asked if a US Postal Service bailout was imminent, focusing on the following: “Enter Ron Bloom, Lazard, and the very same crew that ended up getting a taxpayer funded bailout for GM. From the WSJ: “The Postal Service’s proposal to close thousands of post offices and cut back on the number of days that mail is delivered “won’t workand would accelerate the agency’s decline, according to the six-page report by Ron Bloom, President Barack Obama’s former auto czar, and investment bank Lazard Ltd., LAZ who were hired by the union in October.” That’s right: after all the huffing and puffing about “sacrifice” and austerity, the labor union took one long look at the only option… and asked what other option is there.” The other option, it turns out courtesy of news from AP, is the first of many incremental bail outs of the US Postal Office, better known in pre-election circles as hundreds of thousands of unionized votes up for the taking, and which could be bought for the low low price of $11 billion in taxpayer money, or $110,000 per vote! And so the latest bailout of yet another terminally inefficient and outdated government entity begins.

 From AP:

The Senate offered a lifeline to the nearly bankrupt U.S. Postal Service on Wednesday, voting to give the struggling agency an $11 billion cash infusion while delaying controversial decisions on closing post offices and ending Saturday delivery.

By a 62-37 vote, senators approved a measure which had divided mostly along rural-urban lines. Over the past several weeks, the bill was modified more than a dozen times, adding new restrictions on closings and cuts to service that rural-state senators said would hurt their communities the most.

The issue now goes to the House, which has yet to consider a separate version of the bill.

“The Postal Service is an iconic American institution that still delivers 500 million pieces of mail a day and sustains 8 million jobs,” said Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., a bill co-sponsor. “This legislation will change the USPS so it can stay alive throughout the 21st century.”

One would think that the USPS workers would be delighted as a result… One would be wrong. This is merely the beginning:

The mail agency, however, criticized the measure, saying it fell far short in stemming financial losses. Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe said if the bill became law, he would have to return to Congress in a few years to get emergency help.

“It is totally inappropriate in these economic times to keep unneeded facilities open. There is simply not enough mail in our system today,” the Postal Service’s board of governors said in a statement. “It is also inappropriate to delay the implementation of five-day delivery.”

Read Full Article Here

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Wars and Rumors of War

Humanitarian Crisis Continues in Gaza

Published on Apr 28, 2012 by

Dr. Mads Gilbert: The siege of Gaza continues to make life unbearable

Bio

Dr. Mads Gilbert is a Norwegian Physician long known for his studies on children and infants in time of war. Dr. Gilbert co-founded NORWAC, a Norwegian-Palestinian humanitarian aid organization. He worked in an underground Palestinian refugee camp hospital in Beirut during the 1982 Israeli invasion and bombardment of Lebanon and again in Beirut during the Summer 2006 Israeli war against Lebanon. He was one of only a small handful of westerners in Gaza during the Israeli attack from Dec. 27th 2008 to January 18th, 2009. After the attack, he testified as an expert witnesses at subsequent Human Rights Committee Sessions held at the United Nations in Geneva.

Watch full multipart Humanitarian Crisis Continues in Gaza

 

Syria, Waco, Occupy, and Los Angeles

By Tony Cartalucci
BlacklistedNews.com

Syria, Waco, Occupy, and Los Angeles OccupyWallStreetPoliceBrutality

Image: While the UN demands that Syria not only allow admittedly armed terrorists to roam freely through its cities, but that they also capitulate to their demands, the West has driven peaceful “Occupy” protesters from the streets of their cities by force. One wonders what events would have followed if protesters being sprayed and beaten in the streets pulled out assault rifles and fired on police. Would Washington withdraw security forces and entertain their demands?

….

April 27, 2012 – While the West demands Syria pull its security forces from cities where roving bands of terrorists are on record committing widespread atrocities including the kidnapping, torture, and murder of civilians, as documented by the West’s own Human Rights Watch report, “Syria: Armed Opposition Groups Committing Abuses,” it has denied its own citizens the right to even peacefully assemble at “Occupy” protests to address their grievances back home. Syria’s government has been threatened continuously by the West to begin a process of political “transition,” or more accurately, to submit to Western-backed regime change, in the face of armed militants, while the West itself maintains a strict policy of non-negotiation with terrorist demands.

Syria, Waco, Occupy, and Los Angeles WacoDestruction

Image: Homs, Syria? No, this is Waco, Texas after a combination of military and federal security forces raided, burned down, and killed nearly every man, woman, and child in this sprawling complex located on private property. The US will kill its own citizens with weapons of war just for breaking their laws, mentioning nothing of what they would do should Americans take to the streets and carry out a campaign of terror while demanding the government step down.

….

As the West conjures up a myriad of excuses to sweep prolonged “Occupy” protests off the streets of their biggest cities, they insist that the Syrians not only tolerate an armed “occupation,” but capitulate immediately to their demands. But one must wonder just what any given Western nation would do if protesters demanded the nation’s leadership to stand down, and did so through armed violence.

Read Full Article Here

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Articles of Interest

Metro faces  Public Backlash Over Counter-Terror initiative

After  Metro made a big deal about  bringing TSA to area  bus stops, dozens  of angry citizens  came to  tell Metro …. Keep TSA Away!
http://cdn.abclocal.go.com/static/flash/embeddedPlayer/swf/otvEmLoader.swf?version=fw1000&station=ktrk&section=&mediaId=8637687&cdnRoot=http://cdn.abclocal.go.com&webRoot=http://abclocal.go.com&configPath=/util/&site=

CBS – Milwaukee Red Cross Told To Prep For Chicago Evacuation During NATO Summit

Chicago Evacuation During NATO Summit

CHICAGO (CBS) – Is there a secret plan to evacuate some residents of Chicago in the event of major trouble during the NATO summit next month? CBS 2 has uncovered some evidence that there is. It comes from the Milwaukee area branch of the American Red Cross.

CBS 2 News has obtained a copy of a Red Cross e-mail sent to volunteers in the Milwaukee area.

It said the NATO summit “may create unrest or another national security incident. The American Red Cross in southeastern Wisconsin has been asked to place a number of shelters on standby in the event of evacuation of Chicago.”

According to a chapter spokesperson, the evacuation plan is not theirs alone.

“Our direction has come from the City of Chicago and the Secret Service,” she said.

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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.]

Politics and Legislation

The Hill: Obama shifts healthcare defense

By Sam Baker

The Obama administration has shifted its legal arguments as it prepares to defend the president’s healthcare law before the Supreme Court.

http://thehill.com/blogs/healthwatch/health-reform-implementation/216361-obama-shifts-healthcare-defense

The Hill: Republican bill would enroll seniors in same health plans as lawmakers

By Julian Pecquet

A group of Senate Republicans has introduced legislation that would end traditional Medicare and sign seniors up for the same private healthcare plans received by members of Congress.

http://thehill.com/blogs/healthwatch/medicare/216303-gop-medicare-bill-would-enroll-seniors-into-lawmakers-plans

Washington elites queue up to see nine justices on hot seat

By Janet Adamy and Jess Bravin

The hottest ticket in the capital is for a spot inside the Supreme Court to watch three days of arguments challenging the 2010 health-care law that begin here a week from Monday.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702303863404577283631472580966.html?mod=ITP_AHED

Tape A Cop, Face A Felony Charge

Well, now the news is that in Chicago the police will continue to
enforce, arrest, and prosecute citizens under this law as long as
it remains on the books.

Coming to Chicago in May is an upcoming NATO summit and it is
expected to bring with it huge numbers felonious camera carrying
members of the public, and you can bet the police will have their
own cameras trained on them.

Supreme Court rules out television cameras for healthcare arguments

By Sam Baker

The Supreme Court on Friday rejected calls to allow television cameras into its chambers during arguments over President Obama’s healthcare law.??

The court said it would release same-day audio recordings of the arguments, scheduled for March 26-28. It cited the “extraordinary public interest” in the case, which could lead to President Obama’s signature domestic achievement being struck down in the midst of the campaign season.

http://thehill.com/blogs/healthwatch/legal-challenges/216447-supreme-court-no-cameras-in-healthcare-case

GOP Super PAC Men Seek to Overturn Donation Limits

Michael Beckel, News Report:

McCutcheon is a 44-year-old general contractor in Alabama. He’s the owner, founder and president of Coalmont Electrical Development. He’s a member of the Republican Party who admits he may have a bit of a libertarian streak. And he’s also the treasurer of a super PAC called the “Conservative Action Fund.” That’s a group that spent more than $43,000 opposing House Financial Services Committee Chairman Spencer Bachus (R-Ala.) in Tuesday’s GOP primary in Alabama, although it has mostly targeted Democrats with its attacks.

http://www.nationofchange.org/gop-super-pac-men-seek-overturn-donation-limits-1331907498

Democratic Senators Issue Strong Warning About Use of the Patriot Act

For more than two years, a handful of Democrats on the Senate intelligence committee have warned that the government is secretly interpreting its surveillance powers under the Patriot Act in a way that would be alarming if the public – or even others in Congress – knew about it. On Thursday, two of those senators – Ron Wyden of Oregon and Mark Udall of Colorado – went further. They said a top-secret intelligence operation that is based on that secret legal theory is not as crucial to national security as executive branch officials have maintained. The senators, who also said that Americans would be “stunned” to know what the government thought the Patriot Act allowed it to do, made their remarks in a letter to Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. after a Justice Department official last month told a judge that disclosing anything about the program “could be expected to cause exceptionally grave damage to the national security of the United States.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/16/us/politics/democratic-senators-warn-about-use-of-patriot-act.html?_r=1

Economy

UK could lose coveted AAA rating, warns Fitch

Britain’s hopes of retaining its prized triple-A credit rating were dealt a blow last night after Fitch said the country was more likely than not to be downgraded.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/economics/9144551/UK-could-lose-coveted-AAA-rating-warns-Fitch.html

The Global Economy is Now More Vulnerable to Oil Prices than Ever

This paper examines the impact of oil price changes on global economic growth. Unlike some recent studies, this paper finds that oil price rises have had significant negative impacts on world economic growth. A time-series analysis of the data from 1971 to 2010 finds that an increase in real oil price by 10 dollars is associated with a reduction of world economic growth rate by between 0.4 and 1% in the following year. As oil prices approach historical highs, the global economy may be vulnerable to another oil price shock.

http://oilprice.com/Energy/Oil-Prices/The-Global-Economy-is-Now-More-Vulnerable-to-Oil-Prices-than-Ever.html

Gold “Vulnerable” as U.S. Treasury Bond Market Sell-Off Worsens

The WHOLESALE-MARKET gold price twice rose within a few cents of $1650 per ounce in London Thursday morning, adding 0.9% from yesterday’s fresh 8-week low as industrial commodities ticked lower again.

The price of silver bullion rallied 2.3% to $32.40 per ounce, but remained over 5% down for the week so far, being “very much influenced” by the gold price according to one Swiss precious-metals dealer.

http://www.marketoracle.co.uk/Article33621.html

Europe’s Economic Crisis: Portugal, Ireland, Spain, Italy and Belgium Following Greece

It isn’t over until it is over. Of course, we are referring to Europe and its version of 1984. We find it profound that the bankers, politicians and bureaucrats of Europe can do what they have done with a straight face. Investor had a haircut shoved down their throats and the ECB, the European Central Bank and the IMF were exempt.

http://www.marketoracle.co.uk/Article33614.html

Retail sales suggest consumers shrugging off gas prices

Dave Prokupek doesn’t like the high price of gasoline either. But business is good enough at Smashburger that the chain where Prokupek is CEO opened its 150th restaurant Wednesday, and plans to open up to 75 this year, even though eating out is theoretically the first thing gas-strapped consumers would trim.

http://www.usatoday.com/money/economy/story/2012-03-14/gas-prices-consumer-spending/53536216/1

S&P 500 ends best week since December with quiet day

NEW YORK (Reuters) – The S&P 500 closed out its best week in three months with a slim gain on Friday as investors continued to propel equities near four-year highs.

http://finance.yahoo.com/news/p-ends-over-1-400-024934926.html;_ylt=ApQL0mCH094ssRZYbqrtjyiiuYdG;_ylu=X3oDMTQzcjhzN29wBG1pdANGaW5hbmNlIEZQIEp1bWJvdHJvbiBMaXRlBHBrZwM4NmU2MDcwOC1mNmVhLTNkMDUtYWUzZC0yMjI0OWUzZjI0MjIEcG9zAzEEc2VjA2p1bWJvdHJvbgR2ZXIDZTc4ODAwZDAtNmYxMi0xMWUxLTk2NmItNzIxM2Q2ZDI2ZmJl;_ylg=X3oDMTFvdnRqYzJoBGludGwDdXMEbGFuZwNlbi11cwRwc3RhaWQDBHBzdGNhdANob21lBHB0A3NlY3Rpb25zBHRlc3QD;_ylv=3

Jobless claims fall, manufacturing holds up

WASHINGTON/NEW YORK (Reuters) – Economic growth showed signs of becoming more self-sustaining as the number of Americans claiming new jobless benefits fell back to a four-year low last week and manufacturing activity in the Northeast picked up this month.

http://finance.yahoo.com/news/jobless-claims-fall-manufacturing-holds-025406890.html;_ylt=AvsoQHMJwEqo4vsQWGfhQHqiuYdG;_ylu=X3oDMTQ0NWxhc2xjBG1pdANGaW5hbmNlIEZQIFRvcCBTdG9yeSBSaWdodARwa2cDYTFkNjVjNjktNjY3Ny0zY2RmLTg4MzQtYjdkODNjY2NkZTQ0BHBvcwMxBHNlYwN0b3Bfc3RvcnkEdmVyAzk4YWNmOGMwLTZmMTMtMTFlMS1iNWZmLWZmOTYwOTBjZDY4OA–;_ylg=X3oDMTFvdnRqYzJoBGludGwDdXMEbGFuZwNlbi11cwRwc3RhaWQDBHBzdGNhdANob21lBHB0A3NlY3Rpb25zBHRlc3QD;_ylv=3

Secret “Occult Economy” Coming Out of the Shadows?

During December 2011 and January 2012, I wrote two articles dealing with the announcement of two different lawsuits being filed in U.S. District Courts regarding astronomical amounts of money in the forms of U.S. Bonds, Federal Reserve Notes, foreign government-issued bonds, and other financial instruments.

http://www.activistpost.com/2012/03/secret-occult-economy-coming-out-of.html

Appropriators warn legislative agencies of further funding cuts

By Debbie Siegelbaum

Members of the Senate Appropriations subcommittee on The Legislative Branch are warning congressional agencies that the current atmosphere of economic austerity will likely not abate any time soon.

http://thehill.com/homenews/senate/216321-senate-appropriators-warn-legislative-agencies-of-further-funding-cuts

CBO finds Obama budget adds $3.5T to deficits

By Erik Wasson

President Obama’s 2013 budget would add $3.5 trillion to annual deficits through 2022, according to a new estimate from the Congressional Budget Office.

It also would raise the deficit next year by $365 billion, according to the non-partisan office.

The CBO estimate is in sharp contrast to the White House claims last month that the Obama budget would reduce deficits by $3.2 trillion over the next decade.?

http://thehill.com/blogs/on-the-money/budget/216397-obama-budget-adds-35-trillion-in-deficits-cbo-finds

Fourth straight monthly fall in FDI

Foreign direct investment (FDI) shrank in February from a year earlier, the fourth straight fall, while investment from Europe witnessed a sharp decline, according to the Ministry of Commerce.

Experts were not optimistic about the inflow of foreign investment into China as the European debt crisis continues and domestic economic growth slows down.

http://usa.chinadaily.com.cn/business/2012-03/16/content_14847086.htm

The View From Muppetland

Veena Trehan, Op-Ed:

Banks relentless search for profits has racked up immense “collateral damage”. Investment banks have injured individuals and institutions of every stripe. Institutions include the country Greece whose books Goldman cooked; Jefferson County, Alabama, and many European cities devastated by risky derivatives; colleges like the University of Virginia and Harvard who have held cut-rate sales on private equity; and pension funds and others who sued for fraudulent trades.

http://www.nationofchange.org/view-muppetland-1331903343

Four Whistleblowers Who Sounded the Alarm on Banks’ Mortgage Shenanigans

Cora Currier, News Analysis:

“Buried in the sweeping mortgage settlement with banks, for which final documents were filed this week, are five whistleblower cases that shed light on the litany of foreclosure abuses by the banks. According to one suit, Bank of America allegedly passed bad loans on to the Federal Housing Administration. According to another, the bank allegedly denied qualified homeowners access to HAMP, the government’s loan modification program.”

http://www.nationofchange.org/four-whistleblowers-who-sounded-alarm-banks-mortgage-shenanigans-1331912410

Wars and Rumors of War

Azerbaijan arrests 22 of their own citizens for allegedly being Iranian spies

The Azerbaijani government has announced the arrest of 22 of their own citizens who they claim are Iranian spies.

The tensions between Iran and neighboring Azerbaijan have only increased over recent months and this latest announcement is, without a doubt, not going to make anything less heated.

http://www.blacklistednews.com/Azerbaijan_arrests_22_of_their_own_citizens_for_allegedly_being_Iranian_spies/18467/0/38/38/Y/M.html

GOP senator dismisses ‘CliffsNotes’ explanation for killing citizens abroad

By Jordy Yager

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) on Thursday demanded that the White House hand over documents that detail the administration’s legal case for killing U.S. citizens abroad who are believed to be terrorist threats.

http://thehill.com/blogs/defcon-hill/policy-and-strategy/216263-gop-senator-dismisses-holders-cliffs-notes-explanation-for-killing-citizens-abroad

Obama: Window for diplomacy in Iran shrinking

US President says administration will do “everything we can” for diplomatic solution, but urges Tehran to negotiate.

http://www.jpost.com/IranianThreat/News/Article.aspx?id=261878

U.K’s Cameron: No justification for Israeli attack on Iran

In interview to NBC’s Brian Williams, British Prime Minister says Iran could maintain a civilian nuclear project if it did away with the military aspects of its program.

http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/u-k-s-cameron-no-justification-for-israeli-attack-on-iran-1.419068

US admits Israel is arming and training terrorist groups to create terrorism

Uploaded by 91177info on Feb 9, 2012

So much for this War on Terror! It is actually War OF Terror. This is proof THEY are creating terror directly and indirectly. This was shown live on US television !!

Deadly attacks on Iranian nuclear scientists are being carried out by an Iranian dissident group that is financed, trained and armed by Israel’s secret service, U.S. officials tell NBC News, confirming charges leveled by Iran’s leaders.
The group, the People’s Mujahedin of Iran, has long been designated as a terrorist group by the United States, accused of killing American servicemen and contractors in the 1970s and supporting the takeover of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran before breaking with the Iranian mullahs in 1980.

The attacks, which have  U.S. Embassy in Tehran since 2007 and may have destroyed a missile research and development site, have been carried out in dramatic fashion, with motorcycle-borne assailants often attaching small magnetic bombs to the exterior of the victims’ cars.

U.S. officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the Obama administration is aware of the assassination campaign but has no direct involvement.

Currency Wars: Iran’s banks to be blocked from global banking system

Swift, the body that handles global banking transactions, says it will cut Iran’s banks out of the system on Saturday to enforce sanctions.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-17390456

78 Percent of Americans Oppose Invading Syria

Strong Opposition Also Seen to Arming Rebels

http://news.antiwar.com/2012/03/15/78-percent-of-americans-oppose-invading-syria/

Environmental

Proposed UN Environmental Constitution For The World Would Establish An Incredibly Repressive System Of Global Governance

Most people have no idea that the United Nations has been drafting an environmental constitution for the world that is intended to supersede all existing national laws. This document has a working title of “Draft International Covenant on Environment and Development” and you can read the entire thing right here. Work on this proposed world environmental constitution has been going on since 1995, and the fourth edition was issued to UN member states on September 22nd, 2010. This document is intended to become a permanent binding treaty and it would establish an incredibly repressive system of global governance.

http://endoftheamericandream.com/archives/proposed-un-environmental-constitution-for-the-world-would-establish-an-incredibly-repressive-system-of-global-governance

Activism

Occupy-Monsanto to Wear Bio-Hazmat Suits as They Protest a Genetically Modified Congress

News Report: The GCU will arrive at the metro station wearing bio-hazmat suits to assess whether Members of Congress and their staff have been victims of genetic crimes. The GCU will hold a banner that reads, “Congress is Genetically Modified,” as they circulate on Capitol Hill sidewalks. This day of action is part of a larger international call to ‘Occupy Monsanto’ taking place all over the globe including Spain, Africa, New Zealand, Australia, Canada, and at least 28 cities throughout the US.

http://www.nationofchange.org/occupy-monsanto-wear-bio-hazmat-suits-they-protest-genetically-modified-congress-1331912438

The American Spring: A Time for Occupy to Blossom

Kevin Zeese, News Report:

The weekend of March 31st and April 1st includes a two day “Bail Out America” direct action training organized by the Backbone Campaign which will provide information on strategies and tactics and developing creative actions that advance the causes of Occupy.

http://www.nationofchange.org/american-spring-time-occupy-blossom-1331906460

Cyber Space

House Dems demand meeting with Apple over privacy policy for iPhone, iPad apps

By Brendan Sasso

Two prominent House Democrats demanded a briefing with Apple over its privacy policies for mobile device applications in a letter to CEO Tim Cook on Thursday.

http://thehill.com/blogs/hillicon-valley/technology/216299-house-democrats-demand-meeting-with-apple-over-privacy

LulzSec-linked STRATFOR hacker appears in court

The Chicago-based hacker who took credit for a devastating computer attack on intelligence company Stratfor made his first appearance in a New York federal courtroom, after his March 5 arrest. Hammond, 27, faces federal charges of conspiracy to commit computer hacking, computer hacking and access device fraud… Hammond chuckled when his attorney, Liz Fink, asked a prosecutor if today was the Ides of March and said, “Et tu Brutus?” a possible reference to the betrayal Hammond might have felt at learning he and other hackers were undone by LulzSec leader-turned government informant [traitor] Hector Xavier Monsegur, known online as “Sabu.” Monsegur’s FBI handler was present but declined to comment after the proceeding.

http://www.foxnews.com/us/2012/03/15/lulzsec-linked-hacker-who-threatened-to-burn-white-house-appears-in-court/

Radiation

4 more steam tubes fail in tests at troubled San Onofre nuclear plant’s Unit 3 reactor

Four more tubes that carry radioactive water at a Southern California nuclear power plant failed pressure tests, prompting new safety concerns, officials disclosed Friday. The four tubes in a massive steam generator failed Thursday in the Unit 3 reactor at the San Onofre coastal plant in northern San Diego County, Southern California Edison said. Three other tubes failed earlier tests, the company said Wednesday, bringing the total to seven.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/4-more-steam-tubes-fail-in-tests-at-troubled-southern-calif-nuclear-plant-unit-3-reactor/2012/03/16/gIQAhcoHGS_story.html

Heavy tube wear a mystery at Calif. nuclear

Forty-five days after a radioactive water leak prompted a Southern California utility to shut down a nuclear reactor, investigators Friday sought to pinpoint why tubing in the plant eroded at an alarming rate while the prospect of an extended repair job raised questions about summertime power supply. Tests on massive steam generators at the troubled Unit 3 reactor at the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station, which was shut down as a precaution after the leak on Jan. 31, revealed seven alloy tubes that carry radioactive water are in danger of rupturing under high pressure. Traces of radiation escaped during the January leak.

http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/03/16/2697689/4-more-tubes-fail-in-tests-at.html

UK nuclear sites at risk of flooding, report shows

As many as 12 of Britain’s 19 civil nuclear sites are at risk of flooding and coastal erosion because of climate change global warming, according to an unpublished government analysis obtained by the Guardian. Nine of the sites have been assessed by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) as being vulnerable now, while others are in danger from rising sea levels and storms in the future. The sites include all of the eight proposed for new nuclear power stations around the coast, as well as numerous radioactive waste stores, operating reactors and defunct nuclear facilities.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2012/mar/07/uk-nuclear-risk-flooding

Misc

The Obama Flag: Who Decided That It Was Okay To Replace The Stars On The American Flag With The Face Of Barack Obama?

Democrat Party headquarters in Lake County, Florida has been flying an American flag with a face of Barack Obama on it. Yes, you read that correctly. The “Obama flag” features a huge picture of the face of Barack Obama in the area where the stars are usually located. To many Americans today, the American flag may be “just a piece of cloth”, but when I was young I was taught that one must never desecrate the American flag. The American flag is our highest national symbol. Millions of Americans have fought and died defending freedom and liberty under that banner. To see a photo of Barack Obama plastered on it is an absolute disgrace. Sadly, there are lots of these flags floating around. In fact, you can buy them online for $12.95. Down in Florida, the chairwoman of the Lake County Democratic Party took down the “Obama flag” after a group of veterans protested, but she also said that she is not promising that she will not put it back up and that she is going to consult an attorney about all of this.

Needless to say, a lot of veterans had steam coming out of their ears when they heard about the Obama flag. Korean war veteran Don Van Beck said that he was absolutely furious when he saw what they had done to the American flag….

http://endoftheamericandream.com/archives/the-obama-flag-who-decided-that-it-was-okay-to-replace-the-stars-on-the-american-flag-with-the-face-of-barack-obama

GRIME WAVE

It’s a dirty job: Police nationwide take on soaring Tide detergent theft

Law enforcement officials across the country are puzzled over a crime wave targeting an unlikely item: Tide laundry detergent.

Theft of Tide detergent has become so rampant that authorities from New York to Oregon are keeping tabs on the soap spree, and some cities are setting up special task forces to stop it. And retailers like CVS are taking special security precautions to lock down the liquid.

http://www.thedaily.com/page/2012/03/12/031212-news-tide-theft-1-4/

McCain sees another Solyndra in Navy biofuels spending

By Carlo Munoz

The Navy’s push to develop biofuels to run its fleet of planes and warships could devolve into a “Solyndra situation” for the Pentagon, a top Republican senator said today.

http://thehill.com/blogs/defcon-hill/army/216261-mccain-warns-navy-biofuels-plan-could-become-another-solyndra

Department of Agriculture to offer beef without ‘pink slime’ to schools

By Mike Lillis

Facing increasing pressure over its embrace of “pink slime,” the Obama administration announced Thursday that it will offer schools ground beef absent the controversial product.

http://thehill.com/blogs/hillicon-valley/technology/216299-house-democrats-demand-meeting-with-apple-over-privacy

Norway Military Plane Lost During Exercise
C-130 presumed crashed; 5 missing

AP) – A Norwegian military transport plane with five people on board went missing today during an exercise and was feared to have crashed in northern Sweden, officials said. The C-130 was heading from Evenes in northern Norway to the Swedish city of Kiruna where it was supposed to pick up personnel. Air traffic controllers lost contact with the plane when it was about 50 miles west of Kiruna, a Norwegian military spokesman said.

http://www.newser.com/story/141930/norway-military-plane-lost-during-exercise.html

Lawyer wants WikiLeaks case dropped

A lawyer for an army private accused of leaking hundreds of thousands of pages of classified information has asked a military judge to dismiss the charges, arguing the government bungled the handover of documents to the defence. The request came during a pre-trial hearing for Private Bradley Manning at a military courtroom at Fort Meade, Maryland. Manning’s lawyer, David Coombs, asked that charges against his client be dismissed because the government has “hopelessly” messed up the document turnover in the nearly two years Manning has been held.

http://www.theage.com.au/world/lawyer-wants-wikileaks-case-dropped-20120316-1vaky.html

State Dept. moves to fire author of book critical of Iraq reconstruction effort

Peter Van Buren, a foreign service officer who wrote an unflattering book about his year leading two reconstruction [sic] teams in Iraq, was stripped of his security clearance, banned from State Department headquarters for a time and transferred to a telework job that consists of copying Internet addresses into a file. Now the State Department is moving to fire him based on eight charges, ranging from linking on his blog to documents on the whistleblowing site WikiLeaks to disclosing classified information. Van Buren called the termination notice he received Friday the coup de grace in a series of blows he received since his book, “We Meant Well: How I Helped Lose the Battle for the Hearts and Minds of the Iraqi People” was published last fall.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/federal-eye/post/state-dept-moves-to-fire-peter-van-buren-author-of-book-critical-of-iraq-reconstruction-effort/2012/01/31/gIQAiXNSCS_blog.html

CIA Chief: We’ll Spy on You Through Your Dishwasher

More and more personal and household devices are connecting to the internet, from your television to your car navigation systems to your light switches. CIA Director David Petraeus cannot wait to spy on you through them. Earlier this month, Petraeus mused about the emergence of an “Internet of Things” – that is, wired devices – at a summit for In-Q-Tel, the CIA’s venture capital firm. “‘Transformational’ is an overused word, but I do believe it properly applies to these technologies,” Petraeus enthused, “particularly to their effect on clandestine tradecraft.” All those new online devices are a treasure trove of data if you’re a “person of interest” to the spy community.

http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2012/03/petraeus-tv-remote/

HAZMAT situation: ‘Non-emergency significant event’ declared at Los Alamos –DP Road open after HAZMAT situation on Los Alamos property

With sirens blaring, emergency management vehicles raced down DP Road Wednesday, responding to a Hazmat situation at Enclosure 12 in TA-21. For two hours, DP Road was closed as the LANL Hazmat team, Los Alamos Fire and Police Department and FEMA assessed the situation. Most of DP Road was reopened around 1:45 p.m. as LAPD decreased its perimeter. Capt. Randy Foster said the initial call came into dispatch at 11:53 a.m. The road was closed east of 272 DP Road until the all-clear from the LANL Hazmat teams came in Wednesday evening. The situation has been categorized as a “non-emergency significant event” by the laboratory… Police said a voluntary evacuation was taking place on DP Road. Police said for those who are working on DP Road to remain inside if they chose to stay. Businesses along DP Road still were waiting for an all-clear signal as of 7:30 p.m. An automated 911 call was received at the Los Alamos Monitor at 1:05 p.m. advising all people on DP Road to shelter in place until the all-clear signal is sounded.

http://www.legitgov.org/HAZMAT-situation-Non-emergency-significant-event-declared-Los-Alamos

Whistleblower details unreported mercury spill at Hill AFB

A whistleblower’s claim that a 2007 spill of more than 60 pounds of mercury was not properly reported or cleaned up at this military base, where more than 24,000 military personnel and civilians work and live, has prompted a federal criminal investigation. The Utah Department of Environmental Quality has backed that claim, concluding after an investigation in September and October that the base violated permits because it failed to report the spill and cleanup, improperly stored the cleaned-up material, improperly labeled storage containers that were also not in good condition and failed to inspect containers storing the hazardous waste.

http://www.ksl.com/?nid=960&sid=19583627http://www.ksl.com/?nid=960&sid=19583627&title=whistleblower-details-unreported-mercury-spill-at-hill-afb

The NSA Is Building the Country’s Biggest Spy Center (Watch What You Say)

The spring air in the small, sand-dusted town has a soft haze to it, and clumps of green-gray sagebrush rustle in the breeze. Bluffdale sits in a bowl-shaped valley in the shadow of Utah’s Wasatch Range to the east and the Oquirrh Mountains to the west. It’s the heart of Mormon country, where religious pioneers first arrived more than 160 years ago. They came to escape the rest of the world, to understand the mysterious words sent down from their god as revealed on buried golden plates, and to practice what has become known as “the principle,” marriage to multiple wives.

http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2012/03/ff_nsadatacenter/all/1

‘Media – West proxy to fuel Syria conflict’

Uploaded by RussiaToday on Mar 14, 2012

Syria’s turmoil has been laid bare on our TV screens for more than a year, but some networks are being accused of affecting rather than reflecting the conflict. Maria Finoshina reports now, on how there’s more to the coverage on the Qatari-owned Al Jazeera TV channel, than meets the eye.

Politics and  Legislation

Mosaic News – 03/05/12: Palestinian Woman Hana Shalabi Continues Administrative Detention Protest

Obama Runs From Occupy Protesters! Moving G8 Summit From Chicago To Camp David

Chris Hedges, Truthdig Op-Ed: “We are, and have long been, the primary engine for radicalism in the Middle East. The greatest favor we can do for democracy activists in Iran, as well as in Iraq, Afghanistan, the Gulf and the states that dot North Africa, is to withdraw our troops from the region and begin to speak to Iranians and the rest of the Muslim world in the civilized language of diplomacy, respect and mutual interests.”
Nomi Prins, Op-Ed: “All these dots and lines project a gamed world, where it is not sweat or merit that propels people forward, but connections and power and pedigree. That’s why there’s an Occupy Movement. As I wrote on behalf of the compelling book, ‘The economic elite vs. the People,’ ‘Occupy Wall Street has coalesced across towns, cities, and countries.”

Justifying ‘justice’: When it’s OK for US to kill own citizens

Henry A. Giroux | The Scorched-Earth Politics of America’s Four Fundamentalisms
Henry A. Giroux, Truthout: “Americans seem confident in the mythical notion that the United States is a free nation dedicated to reproducing the principles of equality, justice and democracy. What has been ignored in this delusional view is the growing rise of an expanded national security state since 2001 and an attack on individual rights that suggests that the United States has more in common with authoritarian regimes like China and Cuba ‘than anyone may like to admit.'”

Obama blasts GOP candidates for ‘beating the drums of war’ on Iran

By Jonathan Easley – 03/06/12 01:52 PM ET

President Obama shot back at his Republican critics over accusations he has shown a lack of resolve in protecting Israel from a potentially nuclear-armed Iran, condemning their “bluster” in “beating the drums of war.”

“Those folks don’t have a lot of responsibilities,” Obama said at his first press conference since October 2011. “They’re not commander-in-chief. When I see the casualness with which some of these candidates talk about war, I’m reminded of the decisions I have to make in sending these men and women into war.”

http://thehill.com/homenews/administration/214439-obama-rips-gop-field-for-beating-the-drums-of-war-over-iran

The Hill: Holder: Clear authority to kill US citizens

By Jordy Yager
Attorney General Eric Holder on Monday said the Obama administration has the “clear authority” to kill U.S. citizens overseas who are believed to be a terrorist threat.

http://thehill.com/homenews/administration/214295-holder-clear-authority-to-kill-citizens

The Hill: Export-Import Bank splits Republicans

by Erik Wasson
A battle over reauthorizing the U.S. Export-Import Bank (Ex-Im) is pitting conservative groups against big business and could lead to an insurrection against GOP leaders in the House this month.

http://thehill.com/blogs/on-the-money/banking-financial-institutions/214289-export-import-bank-splits-conservatives-big-business

The Wall Street Journal: Wisconsin recall realigns campaign spending

By Alicia Mundy
Unions and conservative groups have turned the state’s battle over labor rights into a national, multimillion-dollar war that will reverberate through the presidential and congressional races this fall.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204571404577255743288370690.html?mod=ITP_pageone_2

Economy

The Best Reason for the Very Rich to be Paying A Lot More in Taxes

Paul Buchheit , Op-Ed: “The super-rich like to believe their own initiative and creativity have been the primary drivers of growth in technology and science and business and medicine. Some innovative business leaders deserve credit for putting the pieces together on specific initiatives. But the pieces themselves were put together over many years by thousands of less conspicuous people.”

http://www.nationofchange.org/best-reason-very-rich-be-paying-lot-more-taxes-1331052108

American Airlines Union President Sees Future Without Pensions

Josh Eidelson, In These Times: “Weeks after American Airlines’ parent company AMR submitted a bankruptcy proposal to its three unions, labor and management say time is running out to reach negotiated settlements. Any unions that don’t reach deals with AMR may have their new contract terms, and the number of layoffs, set directly by a bankruptcy judge.”

http://www.truth-out.org/american-airlines-union-president-sees-future-without-pensions/1331043965

Stocks Log Biggest Drop in 2012 on Greek Woes

Stocks closed sharply lower Tuesday, with the Dow posting its first triple-digit decline in 2012, fueled by fears over a Greek default and amid economic growth concerns.

http://www.cnbc.com/id/46639583

Failure of Greek debt deal could cost $1.3 trillion

http://www.latimes.com/business/money/la-fi-mo-greek-deal-20120306,0,5073903.story

Wars  and  Rumors  of War

Three Blind Mice?

Uploaded by on Mar 6, 2012

Senators John McCain, Joseph Lieberman and Lindsey Graham are just about as close as anyone in the U.S. Senate. They travel together, make joint media appearances and seem to sing the same song in their appeals to the American people. That song often revolves around the need for more war.

US Mercenaries admit they are Mercenaries in Syria 06-03-12

Huge death toll doubles in Yemen ‘slaughter’

http://www.cnn.com/2012/03/06/world/meast/yemen-violence/index.html

Fresh Iran nuclear talks agreed with world powers – EU

Six major world powers and Iran are to hold fresh talks on Tehran’s nuclear program, the EU has said.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-17274364

Obama Says Military Force is Option to Keep Iran From Getting Nuclear Weapons

Lesley Clark, News Report: “Israel is afraid that Iran — which says its nuclear program is for domestic reasons — could reach what the Israeli Defense Minister calls a ‘zone of immunity’ where Israel would be unable to take out Iran’s nuclear program. Obama argued there is time for diplomacy, ‘backed by pressure,’ to work — a call that met with little applause.”

http://www.nationofchange.org/obama-says-military-force-option-keep-iran-getting-nuclear-weapons-1331052228

John McCain Calls for US-led Strike Against Syria

Michael A. Memoli, News Report: “Republican Sen. John McCain said the United States should lead a military air assault on government forces in Syria, arguing the Obama administration’s continued efforts at diplomacy and sanctions against the Assad regime is “starting to look more like a hope than strategy.”

http://www.nationofchange.org/john-mccain-calls-us-led-strike-against-syria-1331053300

Netanyahu Tells Obama Israel May Attack Iran Alone if Necessary

Lesley Clark and Jonathan S. Landay, McClatchy Newspapers: “Highlighting their different views of the threat posed by Iran’s nuclear program, President Barack Obama insisted Monday that diplomacy still has time to halt the effort, while Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reasserted Israel’s right to take unilateral military action, saying the Jewish state must remain ‘the master of its fate.'”

http://www.truth-out.org/netanyahu-tells-obama-israel-may-attack-iran-alone-if-necessary/1331048376

Monsanto

Monsanto’s Roundup Shown to be Ravaging Butterfly Population

Mike Barrett, News Report: A 2011 study published in the journal Insect Conservation and Diversity found that increasing acreage of genetically modified Roundup Ready corn and soybeans is heavily contributing to the decline in monarch butterfly populations within North America. Milkweed, a plant butterflies rely on for habitat and food, is being destroyed by the heavy use of glyphosate-based pesticides and Roundup Ready crops. Over the past 17 years, the monarch butterfly population in central Mexico has declined, reaching an all-time low in 2009-2010.

http://www.nationofchange.org/monsanto-s-roundup-shown-be-ravaging-butterfly-population-1331055035

Environmental

The True Cost of Tar Sands

Joe Romm, Video Report: “What does environmental devastation actually look like? At TEDxVictoria, photographer Garth Lenz shares shocking photos of the Alberta Tar Sands mining project — and the beautiful (and vital) ecosystems under threat. This powerful talk is for anyone who thinks the tar sands are just another source of oil — and that the only source of greenhouse gases from the tar sands come from burning gas and oil.”

http://www.nationofchange.org/must-see-video-true-cost-tar-sands-1331054083

Way Beyond Greenwashing: Have Corporations Captured “Big Conservation”?

Tuesday 6 March 2012
by: Jonathan Latham , Dollars and Sense | Report
“Imagine an international mega-deal. The global organic food industry agrees to support international agribusiness in clearing as much tropical rainforest as they want for farming. In return, agribusiness agrees to farm the now-deforested land using organic methods, and the organic industry encourages its supporters to buy the resulting timber and food under the newly devised ‘Rainforest Plus’ label. There would surely be an international outcry.”

Japan’s Illegal Environmental Impact Assessment of the Henoko Base

Sakurai Kunitoshi, The Asia-Pacific Journal – Japan Focus: “Before dawn on December 28, 2011, with the end of the year looming, the Okinawa Defense Bureau (ODB) delivered a load of cardboard boxes to the office of the Okinawa Prefectural Government. The boxes contained copies of the environmental impact statement (EIS) for a base in the Henoko district of Nago that is planned as the replacement for the US Marines Corps Air Station Futenma.”

Imperial Valley Residents Must Fight for Right to Breathe Clean Air

David Bacon, New America Media: “Today, the land surrounding the two towns is farmed in huge tracts of hundreds of acres. To make the desert productive, ranchers not only built the world’s largest irrigation canal, but also developed farming methods dependent on chemical fertilizers and strong pesticides. Even with the recent advance of some large-scale organic operations, it’s still common to drive a local highway and see a small airplane called a cropduster make circular swoops and passes over the green crops.”

One Year After Fukushima – Defining and Classifying a Disaster

One Year After Fukushima – Defining and Classifying a Disaster
This is the first in a series of articles dedicated to preserve the facts revealed about the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster. This coming week will mark the first anniversary of Fukushima’s multiple meltdown nuclear disaster. There is little data on how badly contaminated the now-abandoned area of forced evacuation is in the 20-kilometer (12-mile) zone around the Fukushima plant.http://theintelhub.com/2012/03/05/one-year-after-fukushima-defining-and-classifying-a-disaster/

Misc

Alleged LulzSec hackers held in international swoop

Published on Mar 6, 2012 by

http://www.euronews.com/ Leading members of the computer hacking group LulzSec have reportedly been arrested in the US.

Irish police say they are also holding a man in connection with the investigation.

Court documents in New York hacktivist are said to show that the group’s suspected leader, Hector Xavier Monsegur who is nicknamed Sabu, was charged last year with conspiracy in computer hacking and had pleaded guilty.

There are reports that he had been cooperating with police for a while.

He is said to have been an influential member of three hacking organizations, involved in high profile attacks on major firms including online payment companies.

Court papers say Sabu formed LulzSec last May, and operated by identifying weaknesses in potential victims’ computer systems.

LulzSec is a spin-off of the loosely organised activist group Anonymous.

Some alleged associates of the collective are already facing charges in other countries such as Britain.

Bust Reveals Government Runs Hacking Groups

Bust Reveals Government Runs Hacking GroupsCURATOR: BARRACUDA. The establishment media has characterized the leader of LulzSec ratting out his hacktivist comrades as betrayal, but the incident reveals something far more sinister – government is responsible for creating and…

http://beforeitsnews.com/story/1857/374/NL/Bust_Reveals_Government_Runs_Hacking_Groups.html

Govt. agencies, colleges demand applicants’ Facebook passwords

By Bob Sullivan

If you think privacy settings on your Facebook and Twitter accounts guarantee future employers or schools can’t see your private posts, guess again.

http://redtape.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2012/03/06/10585353-govt-agencies-colleges-demand-applicants-facebook-passwords

Troops Used For Crowd Control At Texas Kite Festival

Uniformed troops from the Texas State Guard were used for the purposes of crowd control during the Zilker Kite Festival in Austin this past weekend, with video showing the troops ordering parents and children to board school buses at the end of the event.

Disturbing footage of the troops controlling the movement of attendees was filmed by Infowars reporters, in addition to a police helicopter circling above. However, the website of the Zilker Kite Festival attempted to downplay the Guard’s involvement as if it was completely normal.

http://theintelhub.com/2012/03/06/troops-used-for-crowd-control-at-texas-kite-festival/

Politics  and  Legislation

Will Greece Be Ruled by the Bankers – or Its People?

http://www.truth-out.org/will-greece-be-ruled-bankers-or-its-people/1330717929

The Often Forgotten Downside to Accepting Corporate Contributions

http://www.nationofchange.org/often-forgotten-downside-accepting-corporate-contributions-1330879141

Economy

Towards a Creditor State – One in Seven Americans Pursued by Debt Collectors

http://www.truth-out.org/towards-creditor-state-one-seven-americans-pursued-debt-collectors/1330796809

On the News With Thom Hartmann: Time to Cut the Oil Barons Off, and More

http://www.truth-out.org/news-thom-hartmann-time-cut-oil-barons/1330708440

Gazprom ‘mulls joining Israel’s gas boom’

Gazprom, Russia’s biggest energy conglomerate, is reported looking to work with Israel on the Jewish state’s vast offshore natural gas reserves.

Senior RBA men face fresh scrutiny over bribe scandal

Chicago Residents Win Closure of Two Coal Power Plants After Health Ailments Spark Campaign

Environmental

How “Drill, Baby, Drill” and “Yes We Can” Got Married

http://www.truth-out.org/how-drill-baby-drill-and-yes-we-can-got-married/1330791118

Genetically Modified Food Labeling Initiative Gains Momentum

http://www.nationofchange.org/genetically-modified-food-labeling-initiative-gains-momentum-1330877516

BP Settlement Leaves Most Complex Claims Unresolved

http://www.nationofchange.org/bp-settlement-leaves-most-complex-claims-unresolved-1330871305

Protesters Occupying Monsanto Corp. Arrested

http://www.nationofchange.org/protesters-occupying-monsanto-corp-arrested-1330870187

 Wars and Rumors of Wars

Israel’s Assassins and Tehran’s Killers

http://www.truth-out.org/israels-assassins-and-tehrans-killers/1330713278

New Map Shows Location of Nation’s Most Toxic Industrial Boilers

http://www.truth-out.org/new-map-shows-location-nations-most-toxic-industrial-boilers/1330714223

Obama says he has ‘Israel’s back,’ urges patience on Iran sanctions

By Amie Parnes – 03/04/12 12:31 PM ET

North Korea Has Allegedly Tested Nuclear Warheads For Iran

Submitted by Tyler Durden on 03/04/2012 00:19 -0500

Misc

NGOs: The Missionaries of Empire

http://globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=29595

Hackers Elect Futurama’s Bender to the Washington DC School Board

http://www.pcworld.com/article/251187/hackers_elect_futuramas_bender_to_the_washington_dc_school_board.html