Tag Archive: Wisconsin;

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Snowy owls fly south for the fall

Snowy owls, the big, white birds that nest in the Arctic and sometimes fly south in the fall and winter, have begun showing up in Wisconsin over the last week, captivating wildlife watchers and raising questions among scientists.

About 30 snowy sightings were reported through Wednesday in Wisconsin, according to Ryan Brady, a wildlife biologist with the Department of Natural Resources who oversees the Wisconsin eBird website.

The reports are earlier in the season and higher in number than any year on record.

“It’s unprecedented,” said Tom Erdman, curator of the Richter Museum of Natural History at UW-Green Bay who began conducting snowy owl research in Wisconsin in the late 1950s. “It’s causing us to ask ‘Why?”

The first snowy of the season was sighted Oct. 15 near Ashland in Bayfield County on Lake Superior. The next day one was seen in Crawford County in southwestern Wisconsin. On Tuesday lone snowies were reported in Kohler and Milwaukee.

And on Cat Island in Green Bay earlier this week, six snowies were seen at once, Erdman said.

Last year, the first snowy was reported in Wisconsin on Nov. 1. In 2013, the initial observation was Nov. 15.

In recent decades, the first snowies have typically appeared in Wisconsin in mid-November, Brady said.

“This year is completely taking people by surprise,” Brady said.

So far this fall, snowy owls have been reported in the western Great Lakes region, but none in the eastern U.S.


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Earth Watch Report  –  Extreme Weather

Storms take down a tree in Bohners Lake


Storms take down a tree in Bohners Lake

Current blog avatar FOX6Now.com


Flash Flood USA State of Wisconsin, Waukesha Damage level Details




Flash Flood in USA on Tuesday, 13 May, 2014 at 03:22 (03:22 AM) UTC.

It was raining so hard at some points Monday night that traffic was forced to slow down considerably on I-94 and other highways in Waukesha County. While there have been a few breaks in the rain throughout the evening, the heavy downpours did cause flash street flooding in the city of Waukesha along with high winds and lightning. “It’s been pretty crazy,” resident Jennifer Michaels told CBS 58 News. “Just the rain and everything and all the thunder and the flash flooding. Kind of concerned me a little bit. Luckily we don’t have any water in our basement, yet.” Residents say parts of the Fox River is over its banks near Moreland and Madison Streets near downtown Waukesha and some backyard flooding .



Flash floods from heavy rain

Tuesday, May 13, 2014 8:30 a.m. CDT
Heavy rain between Clintonville and Marion on July 25, 2012. (courtesy of FOX 11/Wayne Gauger)
Heavy rain between Clintonville and Marion on July 25, 2012. (courtesy of FOX 11/Wayne Gauger)

UNDATED (WSAU-Wheeler News) Up to four-inches of rain fell during a series of thunderstorms that lasted for ten hours yesterday in southeast Wisconsin. The National Weather Service reported flash floods in Brookfield and Wauwatosa — and in Waukesha, where the Fox River went over its banks and into some backyards.

Watertown had 60-mile-an-hour winds with numerous trees and power lines down.

Four-inches of rain fell near Fort Atkinson, and Pewaukee had one-and-a-third-inches in just one hour.

Racine had baseball-sized hail, and Beloit had tennis-ball-sized hail. A house in North Prairie was struck by lightning.


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BPEarthWatch BPEarthWatch


Published on Dec 27, 2013

Meteor Alert! Large Bolide Meteor Events Expected from 26DEC-12JAN2014
Links http://amsmeteors.org/fireball_event/… http://lunarmeteoritehunters.blogspot…





Security Camera Captures Possible Meteor Thursday Evening


Courtesy the City of North Liberty

NORTH LIBERTY, Iowa – People across the Midwest reported seeing a bright fireball streak across the sky Thursday evening … and it was caught on camera in North Liberty.

The fireball, a possible meteor, was spotted at about 5:40 p.m. Thursday. Reports indicated that it was seen across many Midwestern states, including Iowa, Illinois, Minnesota, Missouri, Wisconsin, Nebraska and South Dakota. 

Watch Video Here


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USGS - science for a changing world

Released: 10/23/2013 12:35:16 PM



Contact Information:
U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey
Office of Communications and Publishing
12201 Sunrise Valley Dr, MS 119
Reston, VA 20192Christine Custer 1-click interview
Phone: (608) 781-6247Marisa Lubeck 1-click interview
Phone: (303) 202-4765

Contamination from commercial products such as nonstick cookware and stain repellents could reduce the reproduction of tree swallows nesting in Minnesota and Wisconsin, according to a new U.S. Geological Survey study.

USGS scientists and partners found that tree swallow eggs exposed to elevated levels of these products, known as perfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs), were associated with a decreased chance of hatching. PFASs are common environmental contaminants that have been used in products such as water and stain repellents, nonstick cookware, surfactants such as detergents and wetting agents, and polymers (plastics). The report was recently published in Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology.

“Even though PFASs seem to be declining in the environment, hot spots still remain,” said Christine Custer, USGS Upper Midwest Environmental Sciences (UMESC) scientist and lead author of the study. “These high concentrations are localized, however, which fortunately reduces the potential for harm to swallow populations throughout Minnesota and Wisconsin.”

Between 2007 and 2011, scientists compared hatching rates among tree swallow nests located at eight different study locations with different PFAS-contamination levels and sources in Minnesota and Wisconsin, including Lake Johanna and Pigs Eye Lake in the Twin Cities metropolitan area—two areas known for PFAS contamination. They tested an egg sample from each studied nest for PFAS concentrations and compared those results to how well the rest of the eggs hatched.

The USGS-led study suggested that tree swallow hatching rates declined at high PFAS concentrations (as high as 150-200 nanograms per gram of wet weight), which are lower than the concentrations that have affected other bird species in laboratory studies. This difference may be due to behavioral effects or other factors not accounted for in the laboratory studies. It could also mean that tree swallows are especially sensitive to these toxins.

PFASs can enter the environment through contaminated groundwater and surface water runoff from plants that manufacture or use PFAS products, from household waste water that passes through treatment plans, and from airborne chemicals settling on the ground. The Mississippi River downstream of St. Paul, Minn., may have been contaminated by a landfill used to dispose of PFAS-filled waste products.

Because of global exposure to humans and wildlife, selected PFASs were phased out of production starting in 2000.

This study was led by the USGS in collaboration with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the State University of New York at Albany and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Copies of the report are available by contacting Christine Custer at ccuster@usgs.gov or (608) 781-6247.

For more information on this and other Mississippi River Basin and contaminant-related avian studies, please visit the USGS UMESC website.

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South Dakota’s cattle cataclysm: why isn’t this horror news?

South Dakota floor

A dead cow is lifted from flooding in the aftermath of winter storm Atlas in South Dakota. Photograph: Lacey Weiss

If you aren’t in the ag world, you most likely haven’t heard about the devastating loss that ranchers in western South Dakota are struggling with after being hit by winter storm Atlas.

For some reason the news stations aren’t covering this story. I don’t understand why they wouldn’t. This story has heartbreak, tragedy and even a convenient tie into the current government shutdown. Isn’t that what the news is all about these days?

But the news isn’t covering this story. Instead, it is spreading around on social media, and bloggers are writing from their ranches in South Dakota. Bloggers are trying to explain how the horrible happened. And now I am going to join them to tell you the part of the story that I know, and I am going to ask you to help these people, because if you are here reading this, I know you give a crap about these people.

Last weekend western South Dakota and parts of the surrounding states got their butts handed to them by Mother Nature. A blizzard isn’t unusual in South Dakota, the cattle are tough and can handle some snow. They have for hundreds of years.

Unlike on our dairy farm in Wisconsin, beef cattle don’t live in climate controlled barns. Beef cows and calves spend the majority of their lives out on pasture. They graze the grass in the spring, summer and fall and eat baled hay in the winter.

In winter these cows and calves grow fuzzy jackets that keep them warm and protect them from the snow and cold. The cows and calves live in special pastures in the winter. These pastures are smaller and closer to the ranch, and they have windbreaks for the cows to hide behind. They have worked for cows for hundred of years.

So what’s the big deal about this blizzard?


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Up To 100,000 Cows Killed In Early S.D. Blizzard

CBS Evening News CBS Evening News

Published on Oct 14, 2013

Livestock farmers in South Dakota are suffering after a record early blizzard that dumped four feet of snow and killed tens of thousands of cattle. The government shutdown has left ranchers unable to go to the government for help. Manuel Bojorquez reports.



NBC News

Shutdown worsens historic blizzard that killed tens of thousands of South Dakota cattle


Rapid City and many other parts of South Dakota recorded record snowfall totals for the entire month of October in just three days over the weekend.

An unusually early and enormous snowstorm over the weekend caught South Dakota ranchers and farmers unprepared, killing tens of thousands of cattle and ravaging the state’s $7 billion industry — an industry left without assistance because of the federal government shutdown.

As many as 75,000 cattle have perished since the storm slammed the western part of the state Thursday through Saturday with snowfall that set records for the entire month of October in just three days, state and industry officials said.

Across the state, snow totals averaged 30 inches, with some isolated areas recording almost 5 feet, The Weather Channel reported.

The South Dakota Stock Growers Association estimated that 15 percent to 20 percent of all cattle were killed in some parts of the state. Some ranchers reported that they lost half or more of their herds.

The storm was accompanied by hurricane-force wind gusts, especially Friday night, which drove some herds seeking shelter miles from their ranches. A trail of carcasses left a gruesome sight, said Martha Wierzbicki, emergency management director for Butte County, in the northwestern corner of the state.

Parts of South Dakota are in cleanup mode after a strong winter storm pounded some areas. Kirsten Swanson of NBC station KNBN reports.

“They’re in the fence line, laying alongside the roads,” Wierzbicki told The Rapid City Journal. “It’s really sickening.”

Ranchers have no one to ask for help or reimbursement. That’s because Congress has yet to pass a new farm bill, which subsidizes agricultural producers.

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Midwest hot, dry spell brings back drought worries

In this Aug. 28, 2013, photo drought-stressed corn grows on a farm near Oregon, Mo. A growing season that began unusually wet and cold in the Midwest is finishing hot and dry, renewing worries of drought and the impact it may have on crops according to the weekly U.S. Drought Monitor report released Thursday, Aug. 29, 2013, by the University of Nebraska at Lincoln. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)


Associated Press

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — A growing season that began unusually wet and cold in the Midwest is finishing hot and dry, renewing worries of drought and its impact on crops.

Temperatures soared to records in recent days in parts of the region, reaching nearly 100 degrees in some areas. The heat wave struck many farm states — from the Dakotas to Wisconsin, down through Missouri — that have seen too little rain this growing season.

“It’s about the worst case scenario we could have with these high temperatures and the lack of water with soil moisture declining,” said Roger Elmore, an agronomy professor at Iowa State University.

A wet, cool spring delayed planting and slowed crop growth — but it also replenished soil moisture in many crop producing states, causing some of last year’s widespread drought to retreat. The rain stopped in July in many of those states, however, and as the soil dried out, the heat set in and stressed corn and soybean crops.

The southeast Iowa city of Burlington, which is surrounded by corn fields, had its wettest spring on record at 19.23 inches of precipitation, nearly 8 inches above normal. Yet it’s now on track to have its driest summer on record, with only 3.86 inches so far, 8.41 inches below normal.

Wayne Humphries farms about 1,000 acres about 45 miles north of Burlington at Columbus Junction. He grows corn and soybeans and raises hogs.

He said he delayed planting by about 30 days because of wet fields and now is watching the lower leaves of cornstalks turn brown from lack of moisture. He hasn’t seen a measurable rain for 30 days.

Soybean plants are suffering too as seeds are developing in the pods.

“I have solace in the fact that we did everything we could and we did it to the best of our ability and now whatever happens, happens,” he said. “It’s sort of a philosophical moment.”

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Expanding U.S. Drought, Excessive Heat Hurt Iowa Corn, Soy Crops

High heat and little rain during the past week led to an unusual, quick expansion of drought conditions in Iowa and Illinois, damaging crops in the biggest U.S. corn- and soybean-growing states.

About 25 percent of Iowa had a moderate drought on Aug. 27, up from 7.9 percent a week earlier, while Illinois jumped to 20 percent from none, the U.S. Drought Monitor said yesterday in a report. Parts of Iowa received less than 25 percent of normal rain during the past 60 days, and much of Illinois got less than half of normal since June 30, data from the High Plains Regional Climate Center show.

After a wet May and June delayed planting, the U.S. Department of Agriculture cut its soybean-crop forecast by 4.8 percent on Aug. 12 and reduced its corn estimate for a third straight month. July was the 20th coldest in 119 years in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan and Iowa, National Weather Service data show. Soybean futures are up 17 percent from an 18-month low on Aug. 7 on forecasts for dry weather, and corn rose 7.5 percent from a 35-month low on Aug. 13.

“The heat and drought are speeding crop development and reducing yield potential daily,” Roger Elmore, an agronomist at Iowa State University in Ames, said in a telephone interview. “We are skipping over critical stages of development that probably can’t recover even if temperatures cool and a little rain falls.”

While the crops need hot weather to develop, temperatures that approached 100 degrees Fahrenheit (38 Celsius) from Nebraska to Indiana in the past five days can cut corn yields at least 3 percent a day while reducing the number of seeds and seed weight in soybeans, Elmore said.

Yield Loss

Cool weather during the first 19 days of August masked the stress that the dry spell was causing to crops over most of the Midwest, Planalytics Inc. said in a report yesterday. The epicenter of the crop damage is in Iowa, based on the vegetative growth index that the forecaster constructs biweekly from satellite images.

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Published on Aug 19, 2013

http://www.democracynow.org – More than 200 people have been arrested at “Solidarity Sing Along,” an ongoing protest at the Wisconsin state capitol against Republican Gov. Scott Walker. On Thursday, Matthew Rothschild, editor and publisher of The Progressive magazine, was detained while covering one of the protests. Rothschild was charged with misdemeanor obstruction and resisting arrest after photographing the arrests of other demonstrators singing in the rotunda.


This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: We end today’s show in Madison, Wisconsin, with Matt Rothschild, editor and publisher of The Progressive magazine. He was arrested Thursday when covering a protest at the Wisconsin Capitol against Governor Scott Walker. Matt Rothschild was arrested on a misdemeanor obstruction and resisting arrest charge and released on $300 bail after photographing the arrests of other demonstrators singing in the rotunda. He wrote about the experience in an article called “[Governor Scott] Walker’s Cop Nabs Me for Being a Reporter.” Matthew Rothschild joins us now via Democracy Now! video stream.

What happened, Matt?

MATTHEW ROTHSCHILD: Hi, Amy. Thanks for having me on.

Well, it was kind of crazy on Thursday. It’s been crazy in Madison for two-and-a-half years now, and it got crazier in the last three weeks because Scott Walker’s Capitol cops have started to crack down on these Solidarity Singers. The Solidarity Singers have been singing in the Capitol—they should be in the Guinness Book of World Records. They’ve been there for two-and-a-half years now, every day, Monday through Friday. Fridays, they go outside. On Thursday, they were inside, and I was there. I’ve been covering them over the last two-and-a-half years. And over the last three weeks, I’ve been down there six or seven times.

So, I went there with my reporter’s pad and my—you know, my iPhone, doing what we do as reporters. I was taking pictures of people with interesting signs and then taking quotes from the people who were carrying those signs. And then the cops came in and started to arrest one of these Raging Grannies, elderly women who have been active around the country singing protest songs at demonstrations. And one of these Raging Grannies, I happen to know. Her name is Bonnie Block. So, whenever the police are arresting people, I get out my iPhone and take pictures. I was doing that, and then they were moving Bonnie Block out down a hallway toward an elevator—this is in the Capitol, a public space—and I was following them down there, and I was taking pictures. And they said, “You can’t come here.” And I said, “Well, you know, I’m a reporter. I’m with The Progressive magazine.” They said, “No, you can’t come here.” I said, “I’m with the press. I have a right to be here.”

Read Full Transcript Here

Solidarity Singers arrests while singing continues-August 7, 2013

Scott Walkerwatch

Published on Aug 7, 2013

As the Solidarity Singers continue to stand up against the Scott Walker regime with risking to sing in the Capitol Rotunda in Madison, Wisconsin and getting arrested, handcuffed and photographed, the new “policy” is to arrest even those American citizens who are only photographing the event. Featured is a Veterans For Peace veteran being arrested and taking down his flag. Pol Pot would be proud.

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Earth Watch Report  –  Biological Hazards

20.07.2013 Biological Hazard USA MultiStates, [States of Texas, Iowa, Nebraska, Illinois, Kansas and Wisconsin] Damage level Details

Biological Hazard in USA on Saturday, 20 July, 2013 at 14:56 (02:56 PM) UTC.

The tally of Cyclospora infections in the Midwest and Texas reached at least 235 today, an increase of more than 50 in the past 2 days, but the source of contamination and whether the two regional outbreaks are related remained a mystery. Iowa, the hardest-hit state, reported 109 cases today, 22 more than it had 2 days ago, while Nebraska cited 63 cases, which includes 9 in the past 2 days. Iowa has had at least six hospitalizations, and Nebraska has had three, but no state has reported any deaths. The Texas case tally rose to 56 today, from 48 yesterday, said Christine Mann, a spokeswoman for the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS). She said the 56 cases reported within the past week represent the state’s total so far this year. “It is too soon to tell if any of the cases are connected to a multistate outbreak in Nebraska and Iowa, but we are looking into it,” Mann said. Wisconsin officials reported four cases today, two more than at midweek, and said they are believed to be part of the same outbreak. That compares with just five cases in the state from 2008 through 2012, the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) said in a statement. Earlier this week, Illinois and Kansas reported two and one cases, respectively, but one of those was thought to be related to overseas travel.

Iowa and Nebraska officials have said they suspect that vegetables grown somewhere else are the source of the contamination, but no breaks in the investigation were reported today. “Fresh vegetables appear to be the cause of this outbreak,” Leah Bucco-White of the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services told CIDRAP News today. “Our investigators are working hard to pinpoint the exact source. We know locally grown produce is not part of this outbreak.” Earlier in the week, Iowa and Nebraska officials said those who were infected got sick in mid to late June, and on that basis, they thought that all the contaminated food was likely to have been consumed or discarded already. Bucco-White said today, “End of June is still where we are with symptom onset. We’re waiting for interview results on some of the recently reported cases.” In the Wisconsin press release, State Health Officer Henry Anderson, MD, urged people to seek treatment if they have prolonged diarrhea. “Because Cyclospora can cause a prolonged illness and the disease is treatable with sulfa drugs, we want people to know that they should contact their doctor if they experience a gastrointestinal illness with watery diarrhea that lasts more than 2 or 3 days,” he said. Because cyclosporiasis is relatively rare and requires special testing, doctors usually don’t test for it, he added. He also commented that the illness usually resolves on its own, but it can last a long time, with relapses that may persist for weeks to months.

Previous cyclosporiasis outbreaks in the United States have been mostly associated with imported produce or overseas travel. The first big multistate cyclosporiasis outbreak in the United States occurred in 1996 and was traced to raspberries imported from Guatemala. It involved 1,465 probable and confirmed cases in 20 states, the nation’s capital, and two Canadian provinces, according to a 1997 report in the New England Journal of Medicine. In a 2011 report, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said 1,110 sporadic (not outbreak-related) cyclosporiasis cases were reported from 1996 to 2008. A third of the patients had traveled abroad in the 2 weeks before they fell ill, many of them to Mexico, Guatemala, or Peru, said the CDC in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR).

Craig Hedberg, PhD, a foodborne disease expert at the University of Minnesota’s School of Public Health, said that in view of the history of cyclosporiasis outbreaks in the United States, it’s natural for outbreak investigators to look to imported foods. “The primary reason for discounting local production sources is that previous outbreaks of Cyclospora infection have been associated with imported products, and the natural reservoir and route of contamination has generally not been known,” he commented by e-mail. “Thus, there isn’t a real precedent for locally sourced produce as the likely source of an outbreak in this area. That alone shouldn’t be a basis for ruling it out, but there may not be a lot of locally sourced produce in this market during this time frame anyway. “This is a relatively large outbreak, and if they are getting good food histories and following up to identify potentially common distribution pathways, it seems they should have a good chance to pin down the source,” Hedberg added. “This may come too late to prevent cases in this outbreak, but learning where this came from could help us prevent the next outbreak from happening. This is an important reason for continuing the investigation, even if it looks like the outbreak is over.” He also said it appears that the current outbreak does not include many event-related case clusters, unlike the big 1996 outbreak. That, plus state officials’ comments about vegetables as a possible source, suggests a fresh produce item that has been distributed through multiple outlets, he added. “The distribution of cases in Iowa and Nebraska suggests a common distributor, and if the cases in Texas are related, that may help triangulate on specific distribution pathways or products,” Hedberg commented.

Biohazard name: Cyclospora Outbreak
Biohazard level: 2/4 Medium
Biohazard desc.: Bacteria and viruses that cause only mild disease to humans, or are difficult to contract via aerosol in a lab setting, such as hepatitis A, B, and C, influenza A, Lyme disease, salmonella, mumps, measles, scrapie, dengue fever, and HIV. “Routine diagnostic work with clinical specimens can be done safely at Biosafety Level 2, using Biosafety Level 2 practices and procedures. Research work (including co-cultivation, virus replication studies, or manipulations involving concentrated virus) can be done in a BSL-2 (P2) facility, using BSL-3 practices and procedures. Virus production activities, including virus concentrations, require a BSL-3 (P3) facility and use of BSL-3 practices and procedures”, see Recommended Biosafety Levels for Infectious Agents.
Symptoms: Cyclosporiasis is an intestinal illness caused by the microscopic parasite Cyclospora cayetanensis. People can become infected with Cyclospora by consuming food or water contaminated with the parasite. People living or traveling in countries where cyclosporiasis is endemic may be at increased risk for infection.
Status: confirmed

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The Mob and the Multitude

The NSA Comes Recruiting

Some students and I had an exchange with NSA recruiters today. The audio and a rough transcript below.

The NSA came to recruit at a language program at the University of Wisconsin where I am spending my summer learning a language. Two recruiters, a redhead who looked more like a middle-aged 2013 NSA flyer copymother (listed as “NSA_F” below) and a portly, balding man (“NSA_M”), began to go through slides explaining the NSA and its work.

I had intended to go simply to hear how the NSA is recruiting at a moment when it’s facing severe challenges, what with the Edward Snowden and all. Dismayingly, however, a local high school teacher had thought it was good to bring 5 of his students to the session. They were smartly dressed, some of them even wearing ties as if there might be a job interview, young faces in a classroom of graduate students. They sat across from me at the roundtable. It was really their presence that goaded me–and I think a couple of other students–into an interaction with the recruiters.

Roughly half an hour into the session, the exchange below began. I began by asking them how they understood the term “adversary” since the surveillance seems to be far beyond those the American state classifies as enemies, and their understanding of that ties into the recruiters’ earlier statement that “the globe is our playground.” I ended up asking them whether being a liar was a qualification for the NSA because:

The NSA’s instrumental understanding of language as well as its claustrophobic social world was readily apparent. One of the recruiters discussed how they tend to socialize after work, dressing up in costumes and getting drunk (referenced below). I can imagine that also exerts a lot of social pressure and works as a kind of social closure from which it would be difficult to escape. The last thing I want to point out –once again– their defense seems to be that it’s legal. What is legal is  not just.

Someone else happened to record it on an iPhone, hence the audio quality. It’s been edited mainly to cut garbled audio or audio that wouldn’t have made sense  and  edit out questions and comments from people who didn’t explicitly say it was ok to post their audio.You’ll hear the sound drop out for a second to mark the cuts.

Rough Transcript

Me: You said earlier that the two tasks that you do: one is tracking down the communications of your adversaries and the other is protecting the communications of officials. So, do you consider Germany and the countries the US has been spying on to be adversaries or are you, right now, not speaking the truth?

Me: I mean do you consider European countries, etc, adversaries or are you, right now, not telling us the truth and lying when you say that actually you simply track – you keep focusing on that, but clearly the NSA is doing a lot more than that, as we know, so I’m just asking for a clarification.

NSA_F: I’m focusing on what our foreign intelligence requires of [garbled] so, I mean you know, You can define adversary as enemy and clearly, Germany is not our enemy but would we have foreign
national interest from an intelligence perspective on what’s going on across the globe. Yeah, we do. That’s our requirements that come to us as an intelligence community organization from the policymakers, from the military, from whoever –our global so–

Me: So adversary –adversaries you actually mean anybody and everybody. There’s nobody then by your definition that is not an adversary. Is that correct?

NSA_F: That is not correct.

Me: Who is not an adversary?

NSA_F: Well, ok. I can answer your questions but the reality is—

Me: No, I’m just trying to get a clarification because you told us what the two nodes of your work are but it’s not clear to me what that encompasses and you’re being fairly unclear at the moment. Apparently it’s somebody who’s not just an enemy. It’s something broader than that. And yet, it doesn’t seem to encompass everyone.

NSA_M: So for us, umm, our business is apolitical. Ok. We do not generate the intelligence requirements. They are levied on us so, if there is a requirement for foreign intelligence concerning this issue or this region or whatever then that is. If you wanna use the word adversary, you ca– we

This is not a tampon.

This is not a tampon.

might use the word ‘target.’ That is what we are going after. That is the intelligence target that we are going after because we were given that requirement. Whether that’s adversary in a global war on terrorism sense or adversary in terms of national security interests or whatever – that’s for policymakers, I guess to make that determination. We respond to the requirements we are given, if that helps. And there’s a separation. As language analysts, we work on the SIG INT side of the house. We don’t really work on the information assurance (?) side of the house. That’s the guy setting up, protecting our communications.

Me: I’m just surprised that for language analysts, you’re incredibly imprecise with your language. And it just doesn’t seem to be clear. So, adversary is basically what any of your so-called “customers” as you call them –which is also a strange term to use for a government agency– decide if anybody wants, any part of the government wants something about some country, suddenly they are now internally considered or termed an ‘adversary.’ That’s what you seem to be saying.


NSA_M: I’m saying you can think about it using that term. 

NSA_F: But the reality is it’s our government’s interest in what a foreign government or foreign country is doing.

Me: Right. So adversary can be anyone.

NSA_M: As long as they levy their requirement on us thru the right vehicle that exists for this and that it is defined in terms of a foreign intelligence requirement, there’s a national framework of foreign intelligence – what’s it called?

NSA_F: nipa

NSA_M: the national prioritization of intelligence framework or whatever that determines these are the issues that we are interested in, these are how they are prioritized.

Me: Your slide said adversary. It might be a bit better to say “target” but it’s not just a word game. The problem is these countries are fairly –I think Afghanistan is probably not shocked to realize they’re on the list. I think Germany seems to be quite shocked at what has been going on. This is not just a word game and you understand that as well as I do. So, it’s very strange that you’re selling yourself here in one particular fashion when it’s absolutely not true.


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Proposal was approved by Wisconsin Legislature’s budgeting committee

Wisconsin veterans groups are sharply criticizing a move by lawmakers to curtail and strip disabled veterans of property tax credit benefits.

The state provides a refundable income tax credit for the property taxes paid on principal dwellings by veterans who are 100% disabled and their surviving spouses. Spouses of veterans killed in Iraq and Afghanistan also receive the credit if they don’t remarry.

Last week the Joint Finance Committee voted to limit the amount of property taxes to be reimbursed to $2,500 a year. The committee also created a means test phase-out, so that if the income of 100% disabled veterans exceeds a certain amount, they will be dropped from the property tax credit program. This also would apply to their surviving spouses and spouses of Wisconsin service members killed in action.

Disabled American Veterans state legislative director Al Labelle called the committee’s action appalling.

“Apparently some committee members feel the sacrifices made by severely wounded, injured and ill veterans are just another budget item,” Labelle said.

Mike “Gunner” Furgal, a Marine who served in Vietnam, doesn’t qualify for the benefit, but he knows veterans who do, including an Afghan veteran suffering from a traumatic brain injury. The committee’s action will be a big topic at this week’s state VFW convention in Green Bay.

“I think it’s a shame when we have a budget surplus that they’re balancing the budget on the back of veterans,” said Furgal, legislative chairman for the Wisconsin VFW. “That’s really a slap in the face of veterans.”

In the fiscal year that ends June 30, the cost to the state for the property tax credit is $17.7 million. The program began as part of the 2005-’07 state budget.

Rep. Dale Kooyenga (R-Brookfield) pointed out that there are plenty of veterans programs, ranging from job training to education benefits, in the next biennial state budget. Lawmakers decided to put a $2,500 cap on the disabled veteran property tax credit and limit eligibility based on income, Kooyenga said, to make it more fair.

“Does it make sense to have a credit that could apply to a millionaire? You could have a million-dollar house but 100% of your property taxes would be paid by the state,” said Kooyenga, a CPA and Army Reservist who served in Iraq.

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