Saturday, March 31, 2012

U.S. Education Reform and National Security

Source: Council on Foreign Relations

The United States' failure to educate its students leaves them unprepared to compete and threatens the country's ability to thrive in a global economy and maintain its leadership role, finds a new Council on Foreign Relations (CFR)–sponsored Independent Task Force report on U.S. Education Reform and National Security.

"Educational failure puts the United States' future economic prosperity, global position, and physical safety at risk," warns the Task Force. The country "will not be able to keep pace—much less lead—globally unless it moves to fix the problems it has allowed to fester for too long," argues the Task Force.

The U.S. students rank fourteenth in reading, twenty-fifth in math, and seventeenth in science compared to students in other industrialized countries. More than 25 percent of students fail to graduate from high school in four years; for African-American and Hispanic students, this number is approaching 40 percent. Only 22 percent of U.S. high school students met "college ready" standards in all of their core subjects; these figures are even lower for African-American and Hispanic students. The College Board reported that even among college-bound seniors, only 43 percent met college-ready standards, meaning that more college students need to take remedial courses.

"Human capital will determine power in the current century, and the failure to produce that capital will undermine America's security," the report states. "Large, undereducated swaths of the population damage the ability of the United States to physically defend itself, protect its secure information, conduct diplomacy, and grow its economy."

This is a Suspicious News Brief. Read more at the Council on Foreign Relations

Michigan pig ban will eliminate all heritage breeds

Source: NaturalNews

As many NaturalNews readers now know, the state of Michigan's Department of Natural Resources (DNR) recently issued a final ruling on its invasive species order (ISO) for swine that targets destructive "feral" species for elimination across the state. But what many people do not realize is that because of the careless way in which the order was created, all unconventional pig breeds, including heritage breeds raised by small-scale farms, are also lumped into this "feral" category as well.

This is a Suspicious News Brief. Read more at NaturalNews

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Tacocopter would deliver tacos via unmanned drone


Finally a great practical use for drones! Tacos delivered to your location. :)

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Supreme Court: Property Owners Can Challenge EPA

Source: NPR

The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled unanimously in favor of an Idaho couple who were prevented from building their dream home after the Environmental Protection Agency barred them from building on their land. The agency claimed the property was protected wetlands under the federal Clean Water Act.

The ruling gives property owners the right to challenge an EPA compliance order from the time it is issued, rather than waiting for the agency to begin enforcement actions.

Justice Samuel Alito wrote a separate opinion saying that it was "unthinkable" that in a nation that "values due process," the Sacketts and other property owners could not sue the EPA. He called the Clean Water Act "notoriously unclear" and urged Congress or the EPA to "provide a reasonably clear rule regarding the reach" of the law.

This is a Suspicious News Brief. Read more at NPR.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Ron Paul has the best chance in the General Election against Obama

Paul appears to be the only candidate that could possibly win against Obama in the general election.

Source: Public Policy Polling

In the latest poll Ron Paul and Rick Santorum both trail Obama by 3 points at 46-43 and 48-45 respectively. Paul is the strongest candidate with independents, tying Obama with them while the rest of the GOP field trails by 6-15 points.

This is a Suspicious News Brief. Read more at Public Policy Polling

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Big Banks Continue to Benefit From Never-Ending Stealth Bailouts

Source: Washington's Blog Open-Ended Bailouts Are Continuing We’ve previously documented the fact that bailouts of the big banks are continued in stealth mode up to the present day. True, the banks claim they’ve repaid the Tarp bailout funds … but nearly half of the banks “repaid” such bailout funds by borrowing from other government bailout funds (and the rest could only repay money by fudging their accounting and using stealth bailouts which are are a little harder to detect). Indeed, the government has decided on perpetual bailouts for the too big to fail banks. Some of the ongoing stealth bailouts include:
  • Obama’s erroneously-labelled “jobs” act
  • The mortgage settlement
  • Interest rate swaps
  • The Transaction Account Guarantee program, an extension of FDIC insurance coverage to all transaction balances
And the fed is going easy on the big banks in many other ways as well. But the biggest ongoing bailouts include interest rate spreads, interest on excess reserves and other constant streams of bailout revenue. *** The TARP bailout is peanuts compared to the numerous other bailouts the government has given to the giant banks [and even the numerous rounds of quantitative easing are a drop in the bucket compared to stealth bailout programs]. And I’m not referring to the $23 trillion in bailouts, loans, guarantees and other publicy-disclosed programs that the special inspector general for the TARP program mentions. I’m talking about more covert types of bailouts. Like what?
  • Mortgages and Housing
  • Derivatives
  • Foreign Bailouts
  • Toxic Assets and Accounting Shenanigans
  • Fraud As a Business Model
  • Settling Prosecutions For Pennies on the Dollar
  • Guaranteeing a Fat Spread on Interest Rates
Someone must be getting bailed out, right? Why yes, say critics of the giant banks. They charge that Monday’s rally-stoking mortgage-putback deal between Bank of America (BAC) and Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac is nothing more than a backdoor bailout of the nation’s largest lender. Freddie got a $1.28 billion payment out of BofA in exchange for relinquishing fraud claims on $117 billion worth of outstanding loans. “How Freddie can justify this decision to settle ‘all outstanding and potential’ claims before any of the private-label putback lawsuits have been resolved is beyond comprehension,” says Rebel Cole, a real estate and finance professor at DePaul University in Chicago. “This smells to high heaven and they should be called out.” According to Bloomberg, BofA’s Jerry Dubrowski said: “Our agreements with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are a necessary step toward the ultimate recovery of the housing market.” “This is a gift” from the government to the bank, said Christopher Whalen of Institutional Risk Analytics. “We’re all paying for this because it will show up in the losses from Fannie and Freddie,” he said. “The trading profits of the Street is just another way of measuring the subsidy the Fed is giving to the banks. It’s a transfer from savers to banks.” Congresswoman Waters said, "I’m concerned that the settlement between Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and Bank of America over misrepresentations in the mortgages BofA originated may amount to a backdoor bailout that props up the bank at the expense of taxpayers. Given the strong repurchase rights built into Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac’s contracts with banks, and the recent court setback for Bank of America in similar litigation with a private insurer, I’m fearful that this settlement may have been both premature and a giveaway. The fact that Bank of America’s stock surged after this deal was announced only serves to fuel my suspicion that this settlement was merely a slap on the wrist that sets a bad example for other negotiations in the future." The Federal Reserve helped lenders by holding short-term borrowing costs near zero, giving them a chance to profit by carrying even 10-year government notes that yielded an average of 3.70 percent last quarter. The latest quarterly reports from the big Wall Street banks revealed a startling fact: None of the big four banks had a single day in the quarter in which they lost money trading. For the 63 straight trading days in Q1, in other words, Goldman Sachs (GS), JP Morgan (JPM), Bank of America (BAC), and Citigroup (C) made money trading for their own accounts. Trading, of course, is supposed to be a risky business: You win some, you lose some. But these days, trading isn’t risky at all. In fact, it’s safer than walking down the street. Why? Because the US government is lending money to the big banks at near-zero interest rates. And the banks are then turning around and lending that money back to the US government at 3%-4% interest rates, making 3%+ on the spread. What’s more, the banks are leveraging this trade, borrowing at least $10 for every $1 of equity capital they have, to increase the size of their bets. Which means the banks can turn relatively small amounts of equity into huge profits–by borrowing from the taxpayer and then lending back to the taxpayer. This is a Suspicious News Brief. Read more at Washington's Blog.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Feeding The Homeless BANNED In Major Cities All Over America

Source: Economic Collapse

This is just another example that shows that our country is being taken over by control freaks. There seems to be this idea out there that it is the job of the government to take care of everyone and that nobody else should even try. But do we really want to have a nation where you have to get the permission of the government before you do good to your fellow man?

It isn't as if the government has "rescued" these homeless people. Homeless shelters all over the nation are turning people away each night because they have no more room. There are many homeless people that are lucky just to make it through each night alive during the winter. Sometimes a well-timed sandwich or a cup of warm soup can make a world of difference for a homeless person.

This is a Suspicious News Brief. Read more at the Economic Collapse blog.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

A Fleet Of Pirate Bay Aerial Server Drones? Why Not?

This is probably just a crazy fantacy at this point, but it's interesting to ponder a future when "cloud computing" might become a little more literal.

Source: TechCrunch

A slightly cryptic announcement by the Pirate Bay yesterday has the Internet speculating whether the site might have accidentally posted their April Fools joke early. “We’re going to experiment with sending out some small drones that will float some kilometers up in the air.”

We’re just starting so we haven’t figured everything out yet. But we can’t limit ourselves to hosting things just on land anymore. These Low Orbit Server Stations (LOSS) are just the first attempt. With modern radio transmitters we can get over 100Mbps per node up to 50km away. For the proxy system we’re building, that’s more than enough.

This is a Suspicious News Brief. Read more at TechCrunch

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Is Red Meat - Or Unnatural Meat - Killing Us?

Source: Washington's Blog

Harvard Medical School found that 1 in 10 premature deaths is caused by eating red meat. The study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine followed more than 100,000 people for around 28 years asking them periodically about their diet and lifestyle.
It was found that for every serving of red meat – equivalent to 3 ounces (85 grams) – eaten each day there was an 18 per cent increased risk of dying from heart disease and a 10 per cent increased risk of dying from cancer.
But how much of the problem isn’t red meat … but the fact that what we’re eating isn’t what our grandparents wouldn’t even recognize as meat at all? For all of human history – until the last couple of decades – people ate beef from cows (or buffalo or bison) which grazed on grass. Their meat was high in good Omega 3 fats.

Today, on the other hand, beef is laden with saturated fat and almost entirely lacking healthy fats like Omega 3s, because the cows are force-fed food which makes them sick. Specifically, instead of their natural menu – grass – they are force-fed corn, which makes them sick. Because their diet makes them ill, they are given massive amounts of antibiotics.  Even with the antibiotics, the diet and living conditions would kill them pretty quickly if they aren’t slaughtered.
They are also given estrogen to fatten them up. And they are fed parts of other animals, which can give them mad cow disease.

This is a Suspicious News Brief. Read more at Washington's Blog

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Open Letter To CFTC From A Whistleblower At JPMorgan Chase

Source: The Economic Collapse Blog

I wish to remain anonymous as of now as fear of termination mounts from what I am about to reveal. Robert Gottlieb is not my real name; however he is a trader that is involved in a lawsuit for manipulative trading while working with JPMorgan Chase. He was acquired during our Bear Stearns acquisition and is known to be the notorious person shorting in the silver future market from his trading space, along with Blythe Masters, his IB Global boss. However, with that said, we are manipulating the silver futures market and playing a smaller (but still massively manipulative) role in manipulating the gold futures market. <b>We have a little over a 25% (give or take a percentage) position in the short market for silver futures</b> and by your definition this denotes a larger position than for speculative purposes or for hedging and is beyond the line of manipulation.

This is a Suspicious News Brief. Read more at The Economic Collapse Blog

Friday, March 16, 2012

The NSA Is Building the Country's Biggest Spy Center

Source: Wired | Threat Level

For the first time since Watergate and the other scandals of the Nixon administration—the NSA has turned its surveillance apparatus on the US and its citizens. It has established listening posts throughout the nation to collect and sift through billions of email messages and phone calls, whether they originate within the country or overseas.

This is a Suspicious News Brief. Read more at Wired | Threat Level

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Issa Won’t Investigate Heartland Due To Koch Brothers Support

Source: Republic Report

Issa’s bizarre declaration that he would not investigate Heartland because of its Koch Industries funding seems to suggest that he is running defense for the company, which has given him thousands in campaign contributions.

This is a Suspicious News Brief. Read more at Republic Report

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

New theory: CO2 makes you fat

Source: ScienceNordic

Both fat and thin people taking part in studies over a 22-year period had put on weight –and the increase was proportionately the same.

So, six young men were placed in special climate rooms, where some of them were exposed to increased amounts of CO2. After seven hours, the men were allowed to eat as much as they liked.

The men with the greater amount of CO2 in their blood ate six percent more food than the men who had been in climate rooms with a normal amount of CO2.

This discovery made it possible to develop a precise hypothesis for how CO2 makes us fatter: We breathe more CO2, which makes our blood more acidic; this affects our brain, so we want to eat more.

This is a Suspicious News Brief. Read more at ScienceNordic

Pensions All Over America Are Being Savagely Cut

Source: The Economic Collapse Blog

According to Northwestern University Professor John Rauh, the latest estimate of the total amount of unfunded pension and healthcare obligations for state and local governments across the United States is 4.4 trillion dollars. America is continually becoming a poorer nation and all of that money is simply not going to magically materialize somehow. So where is that 4.4 trillion dollars going to come from? Well, either pension benefits are going to have to be cut a lot more all over America or taxes will need to be raised dramatically. Either way, we are all going to feel the pain of these broken promises.

This is a Suspicious News Brief. Read more at The Economic Collapse Blog

Cyborg snails, cockroaches and beetles

Source: Nature News & Comment

A team of researchers at Clarkson University in Potsdam, New York, have implanted tiny biofuel cells that extract electrical power from the glucose and oxygen in snails’ blood. Munching mainly on carrots, the cyborg snails live for around half a year and generate electricity whenever their implanted electrodes are hooked up to an external circuit.

Snails are just one of several living creatures to have been ‘electrified’ like this. Biofuel cells have also been implanted into live cockroaches and beetles. All of these efforts are aimed at helping to create insect (or snail) cyborgs, a concept that has attracted funding from the US Department of Defense.

This is a Suspicious News Brief. Read more at Nature News & Comment

Why I Am Leaving Goldman Sachs

Source: New York Times

Greg Smith is resigning today as a Goldman Sachs executive director and head of the firm's United States equity derivatives business in Europe, the Middle East and Africa.
Today, many of these leaders display a Goldman Sachs culture quotient of exactly zero percent. I attend derivatives sales meetings where not one single minute is spent asking questions about how we can help clients. It's purely about how we can make the most possible money off of them. ... It makes me ill how callously people talk about ripping their clients off.

Over the last 12 months I have seen five different managing directors refer to their own clients as "muppets," sometimes over internal e-mail. Even after the S.E.C., Fabulous Fab, Abacus, God's work, Carl Levin, Vampire Squids? No humility? I mean, come on. Integrity? It is eroding.

This is a Suspicious News Brief. Read more at the New York Times

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Canada too dangerous for former vice-president

Source: Attawa Citizen

Former U.S. vice-president Dick Cheney has cancelled an April appearance in Toronto because "He felt that in Canada the risk of violent protest was simply too high."

This is a Suspicious News Brief. Read more at the Attawa Citizen

Monday, March 12, 2012

Excerpting a few sentences and linking to articles is a fair use

Source: Electronic Frontier Foundation

Judge Roger Hunt’s judgment confirms that an online forum is not liable for its users’ posts, even if it was not protected by the safe harbors of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act’s notice and takedown provisions. The decision also clarifies that a common practice on the Internet –excerpting a few sentences and linking to interesting articles elsewhere –is a fair use, not an infringement of copyright.

This is a Suspicious News Brief. Read more at the Electronic Frontier Foundation

Scientists warn EPA on Monsanto corn rootworm

Source: Rueters

22 academic corn experts sent a letter dated March 5 to the Environmental Protection Agency telling regulators they are worried about long-term corn production prospects because Monsanto's rootworm-protected products are losing their effectiveness.

Monsanto has said the problem is small and has said the products continue to provide corn farmers with "strong protection against this damaging pest."

This is a Suspicious News Brief. Read more at Rueters

Sunday, March 11, 2012

H.CON.RES.107 Impeach Obama for offensive military force without authorization of Congress

Source: Library of Congress

Rep Walter B. Jones, Jr. introduced H.CON.RES.107 expressing the sense of Congress that the use of offensive military force by a President without prior and clear authorization of an Act of Congress constitutes an impeachable high crime and misdemeanor under Article II, section 4 of the Constitution.

Status: Referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary.

This is a Suspicious News Brief. Read more at the Library of Congress.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Blast it or paint it: Asteroid to threaten Earth in 2013

Maybe the Myans were only off by a couple of months. Or maybe the people will panic on Dec 21 in anticipation. :)

Source: Russia Today

The asteroid, known as DA14, is estimated to pass by our planet on February 15 2013 at a distance of under 27,000 km (16,700 miles). This is closer than the geosynchronous orbit of some satellites.

This is a Suspicious News Brief. Read more at Russia Today

FBI wouldn’t exclude extrajudicial killings in the US

Source Russia Today

Barack Obama ordered the killing of three American citizens overseas last year. Alleged terrorist Anwar al-Awlaki and two other US-born citizens were executed in a drone strike last year in Yemen.

United States Attorney General Eric Holder recently explained how the president can order the assassination of US citizens abroad. Holder insisted that the details the president acted on were "sufficient under the Constitution for the United States to use lethal force against a US citizen abroad.” But did his rationalization justify executions within the US? Apparently, the FBI wouldn’t exclude it.

Responding to a congressional inquiry this week on the rationale of assassinating Americans, Federal Bureau of Investigation Director Robert Mueller affirmed that he himself isn’t too clear on the what Holder explained.

This is a Suspicious News Brief. Read more at Russia Today

Vets feel abandoned after secret drug experiments

Here is another sad story about veterans who were used as guinea pigs in dangerous experiments and are now suffering the consequences without help from the government.

Source: CNN

A military facility in Edgewood Maryland tested potentially lethal gases, narcotics and LSD on animals and humans. Veterans who became Army guinea pigs for secret drug and chemical experiments are suing the Department of Veteran Affairs, the CIA and the Defense Department. In addition to medical benefits, the lawsuit is asking that the Defense Department and VA find all Edgewood veterans and provide them with details of the chemicals they received and their possible health effects.

The government has reached very few of the 7,000 or so Edgewood veterans, and the VA has turned down almost all Edgewood-related health claims. Court documents show that the Veterans Benefits Administration rejected 84 of 86 health claims related to chemical or biological exposure.

18-year-old Tim Josephs enlisted in the Army fresh out of high school --at the height of the Vietnam War. "I really felt a duty to my country to go and serve," he said. "Things were different back then. You believed in your government. And you just wouldn't think they would give you something that would harm you intentionally." Josephs was diagnosed in his 50s with Parkinson's disease, which he says forced him to retire early from his job as a realtor. His doctor says he suffered two small strokes, and he blames his experiences at Edgewood for the strokes and the Parkinson's.Josephs requires medications at a cost of $2,000 a month, which he was paying for out of pocket.

Wray Forrest also participating in the program at Edgewood in 1973. Forrest spent decades fighting post traumatic stress disorder, which he said the VA had linked to his time at Edgewood. Forrest, a heavy smoker most of his life, was diagnosed with skin cancer in 2009 and died in 2010. His doctor said some of Forrest's health problems could have been caused by chemicals used at Edgewood.

Bill Blazinski was drafted into the Army and also spent two months at Edgewood in 1968. In one test, he said, electrodes were attached to him and "electrical charges ran through his body, causing pain like pinpricks," according to the plaintiff's' lawsuit against the VA. Blazinski, now 64, was diagnosed with chronic lymphocytic leukemia and ulcerative colitis in 2008. He applied for VA disability benefits, but was denied, according to the plaintiffs' lawsuit.

Drafted by the Army in 1968 at age 20, Frank Rochelle also was at Edgewood for two months. During one drug test, Rochelle said, he thought that his freckles were bugs under his skin. He used a razor to try to cut them out, injuring himself. Later, Rochelle was deployed to fight in the Vietnam War. "I have breathing problems," said Rochelle, now age 63. "I still have problems getting around, getting along with people, nervousness and sleep apnea." Rochelle's "medical problems have worsened and his health has deteriorated," and he is "no longer able to work the job that he held for over 28 years."

This is a Suspicious News Brief. Read more at CNN

Friday, March 9, 2012

Holder: US can legally kill Americans in terror groups

Source: U.S. News

Eric Holder said the Fifth Amendment provides that no one can be "deprived of life" without due process of law, but that due process doesn't necessarily come from a court. "Due process and judicial process are not one and the same, particularly when it comes to national security. The Constitution guarantees due process, not judicial process," the attorney general said.

Holder said a U.S. citizen can legally be targeted in a foreign country if that person is "a senior leader of al-Qaida or associated forces," and is actively involved in planning to kill Americans. Killing would be justified if the person poses an imminent threat of a violent attack against the U.S. and cannot easily be captured.

This is a Suspicious News Brief. Read more at U.S. News

Can you pass on your downloads after you die?

Source: Which? Conversation

To be determined...

This is a Suspicious News Brief. Read more at Which? Conversation

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Panetta: International Mandate Trumps Congressional Authorization for Wars


Regarding the legal basis for a potential war with Syria, Panetta repeatedly referred to seeking an international mandate, saying that the administration’s goal was “international permission” for such a war, and that Congress would be “informed” once that was obtained.

This is a Suspicious News Brief.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Report: Chance of a Catastrophic Solar Storm Over the Next Decade Is 1 in 8


According to a recent study published by Space Weather: The International Journal of Research and Applications,  we have roughly a 12% chance of getting hit with a solar storm so powerful that it could take down the national power grid and yield catastrophic consequences for the general population.

The 1859 Carrington Event caused telegraph stations to catch on fire and their networks experienced major outages and magnetic observatories recorded disturbances in the Earth’s field that were literally off the scale.

In today’s electrically dependent modern world, a similar scale solar storm could have catastrophic consequences. During a geomagnetic storm in 1989, for instance, Canada’s Hydro-Quebec power grid collapsed within 90 seconds, leaving millions without power for up to nine hours.

The worst case scenario has been outlined by the Center for Security Policy, which suggests that an EMP, or a solar storm that results in similar magnetic discharge across the United States, could potentially leave 90% of Americans dead within the first year:

<b>“Within a year of that attack, nine out of 10 Americans would be dead, because we can’t support a population of the present size in urban centers and the like without electricity,”</b> said Frank Gaffney, president of the Center for Security Policy. “And that is exactly what I believe the Iranians are working towards.”

This is a Suspicious News Brief.

What if TSA's scanners are less effective than metal detectors?

What if the new body scanners are less effective than the metal detectors they replaced?  A man who filed a lawsuit against the TSA for 4th Amendment invasion of privacy has posted a video explaining how he got metal objects through the new scanners.

Source: TSA Out of Our Pants! Blog

The scanners are now effectively worthless, as anyone can beat them with virtually no effort. The TSA has been provided this video in advance of it being made public to give them an opportunity to turn off the scanners and revert to the metal detectors. I personally believe they now have no choice but to turn them off.

My legal battle against the TSA’s nude body scanner and pat-down molestation program continues in court, soon with a petition to the U.S. Supreme Court.

This is a Suspicious News Brief. Read more at the TSA Out of Our Pants! Blog

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Eavesdropping Antennas Can Steal Your Smart Phone's Secrets

Source: Technology Review

The processors in smart phones and tablets leak radio signals that expose the encryption keys used to protect sensitive data. At the RSA computer security conference last week, Gary Kenworthy of Cryptography Research held up an iPod Touch on stage and looked over to a TV antenna three meters away. The signal picked up by the antenna, routed through an amplifier and computer software, revealed the secret key being used by an app running on the device to encrypt data. An attacker with access to this key could use it to perfectly impersonate the device he stole it from—to access e-mail on a company server, for example.

This is a Suspicious News Brief. Read more at Technology Review.