Sunday, April 29, 2012

Terrorist Plots Helped Along By The FBI

Of the 22 most frightening plans for attacks since 9/11 on American soil, at least 14 were developed in sting operations by the FBI. Others, like the Underwear Bomber, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab,  may have also been helped by US government agents.

When you take all of this information into consideration, you have to wonder if aspiring terrorists would ever act without being encouraged by law enforcement to do so. You should also ask yourself if the these sting operations might actually increase the threat of terrorism.

Source: New York Times

The United States has been narrowly saved from lethal terrorist plots in recent years -or so it has seemed. A would-be suicide bomber was intercepted on his way to the Capitol; a scheme to bomb synagogues and shoot Stinger missiles at military aircraft was developed by men in Newburgh, N.Y.; and a fanciful idea to fly explosive-laden model planes into the Pentagon and the Capitol was hatched in Massachusetts.

But all these dramas were facilitated by the F.B.I., whose undercover agents and informers posed as terrorists offering a dummy missile, fake C-4 explosives, a disarmed suicide vest and rudimentary training. Suspects naïvely played their parts until they were arrested.

Carefully orchestrated sting operations usually hold up in court. Defendants invariably claim entrapment and almost always lose, because the law requires that they show no predisposition to commit the crime, even when induced by government agents. To underscore their predisposition, many suspects are "warned about the seriousness of their plots and given opportunities to back out," said Dean Boyd, a Justice Department spokesman.

And that's the gray area. Who is susceptible? Anyone who plays along with the agents, apparently. Once the snare is set, law enforcement sees no choice. "Ignoring such threats is not an option," Mr. Boyd argued, "given the possibility that the suspect could act alone at any time or find someone else willing to help him."

Typically, the stings initially target suspects for pure speech -comments to an informer outside a mosque, angry postings on Web sites, e-mails with radicals overseas -then woo them into relationships with informers, who are often convicted felons working in exchange for leniency, or with F.B.I. agents posing as members of Al Qaeda or other groups. Some targets have previous involvement in more than idle talk, but others seem ambivalent, incompetent and adrift, like hapless wannabes looking for a cause that the informer or undercover agent skillfully helps them find.

Take the Stinger missile defendant James Cromitie, a low-level drug dealer with a criminal record that included no violence or hate crime, despite his rants against Jews. "He was searching for answers within his Islamic faith," said his lawyer, Clinton W. Calhoun III, who has appealed his conviction. "And this informant, I think, twisted that search in a really pretty awful way, sort of misdirected Cromitie in his search and turned him towards violence." It took 11 months of meandering discussion and a promise of $250,000 before an FBI informant could to lead Cromitie, with three co-conspirators he recruited, to plant fake bombs at two Riverdale synagogues.

"Only the government could have made a 'terrorist' out of Mr. Cromitie, whose buffoonery is positively Shakespearean in its scope " said Judge Colleen McMahon sentencing him to 25 years. She branded it a "fantasy terror operation" but called his attempt "beyond despicable" and rejected his claim of entrapment.

The judge's statement was unusual, but Mr. Cromitie's characteristics were not. His incompetence and ambivalence could be found among other aspiring terrorists whose grandiose plans were nurtured by law enforcement .They included men who wanted to attack fuel lines at Kennedy International Airport; destroy the Sears Tower (now Willis Tower) in Chicago; carry out a suicide bombing near Tampa Bay, Fla., and bomb subways in New York and Washington.

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

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Wireless Industry Opposes CA Bill That Requires a Warrant To Disclose Personal Data To Law Enforcement

Source: Techdirt

A bill is being considered in California that would require mobile operators to require a warrant before disclosing personal information. The bill also requires some basic reporting requirements for the companies, having them say how often info has been disclosed. Basically, the law asks that the mobile operators respect the 4th Amendment when dealing with law enforcement.

A wireless industry association called the CTIA is claiming that the law would be "confusing" for mobile operators if passed.

"... the wireless industry opposes SB 1434 as it could create greater confusion for wireless providers when responding to legitimate law enforcement requests"

The crux of the "confusion" apparently is that the definitions in the bill are somewhat broader than what the industry says is standard, and they're afraid that this means "It could place providers in the position of requiring warrants for all law enforcement requests."

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

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Department of Labor Proposes New Child Labor Laws on Farms

Source: The Daily Caller

The Department of Labor is poised to put the finishing touches on a rule that would apply child-labor laws to children working on family farms, prohibiting them from performing a list of jobs on their own families’ land.

Under the rules, children under 18 could no longer work “in the storing, marketing and transporting of farm product raw materials.”
“Prohibited places of employment,” a Department press release read, “would include country grain elevators, grain bins, silos, feed lots, stockyards, livestock exchanges and livestock auctions.”

This is a Suspicious News Brief. Read more at The Daily Caller

See also, the DOL request for public comment.

Update 26 Apr 2012:

The U.S. Department of Labor today issued the following statement regarding the withdrawal of a proposed rule dealing with children who work in agricultural vocations:

"The Obama administration is firmly committed to promoting family farmers and respecting the rural way of life, especially the role that parents and other family members play in passing those traditions down through the generations. The Obama administration is also deeply committed to listening and responding to what Americans across the country have to say about proposed rules and regulations.

"As a result, the Department of Labor is announcing today the withdrawal of the proposed rule dealing with children under the age of 16 who work in agricultural vocations.

"The decision to withdraw this rule –including provisions to define the 'parental exemption' –was made in response to thousands of comments expressing concerns about the effect of the proposed rules on small family-owned farms. To be clear, this regulation will not be pursued for the duration of the Obama administration.

"Instead, the Departments of Labor and Agriculture will work with rural stakeholders –such as the American Farm Bureau Federation, the National Farmers Union, the Future Farmers of America, and 4-H –to develop an educational program to reduce accidents to young workers and promote safer agricultural working practices."

Monday, April 23, 2012

Fix income inequality with $10 million loans for everyone!

Sheila Bair is a former chairman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. and a regular contributor to Fortune Magazine and she has an excellent proposal that could solve all of our financial problems.  She suggests that each American household should be allowed to borrow $10 million from the Fed at zero interest.

Source: The Washington Post

For several years now, the Fed has been making money available to the financial sector at near-zero interest rates. Big banks and hedge funds, among others, have taken this cheap money and invested it in securities with high yields. This type of profit-making, called the “carry trade,” has been enormously profitable for them.

So why not let everyone participate?

This proposal won’t cost taxpayers anything because the Fed is just going to print the money. All we need is about $1,200 trillion, or $10 million for 120 million households. We will all cross our hearts and promise to pay the money back in full after 10 years so the Fed won’t lose any dough.

Because we will be making money in basically the same way as hedge fund managers, we should have to pay only 15 percent in taxes, just like they do. And since we will be earning money through investments, not work, we won’t have to pay Social Security taxes or Medicare premiums. That means no more money will go into these programs, but so what? No one will need them anymore, with all the cash we’ll be raking in thanks to our cheap loans from the Fed.

This is a Suspicious News Brief. Read more at The Washington Post.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Why Are We Drugging Our Soldiers

Source: New York Times

Data provided by Tricare Management Activity, the arm of the Department of Defense that manages health care services for the military, reveals that the number of Ritalin and Adderall prescriptions written for active-duty service members increased by nearly 1,000 percent in five years, to 32,000 from 3,000.

A recent medical study implies that soldiers exposed to elevated norepinephrine levels from taking stimulants like Ritalin and Adderall are also at risk of relapse when re-exposed to the initial stressor. And because the treatment of PTSD involves unlearning fear responses, soldiers exposed to stimulants during trauma could well be more resistant to treatment.

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

Saturday, April 21, 2012

IBM to reduce US employee head count by 78% to grow EPS to $20

Source: I, Cringely

IBM’s internal plan to grow earnings-per-share (EPS) to $20 by 2015 by reducing US employee head count by 78 percent.

This is a Suspicious News Brief. Read more at I, Cringely

Planetary Resources to bring a 500-ton asteroid to Earth by 2025

Source: ars technica

According to MIT's Technology Review, a new firm backed by several deep-pocketed investors will announce itself Tuesday at the Museum of Flight in Seattle. The firm calls itself Planetary Resources, and the people involved include Charles Simonyi of Microsoft, Sergey Brin and Larry Page of Google, James Cameron, Ross Perot Jr., and Peter Diamandis, founder of the X-Prize Foundation. With this much money involved, the eyeballs of space geeks everywhere are now expectantly coming to bear on Seattle.

This is a Suspicious News Brief. Read more at ars technica

'Huge' water resource exists under Africa

Source: BBC News

Now scientists have for the first time been able to carry out a continent-wide analysis of the water that is hidden under the surface in aquifers. Scientists say the notoriously dry continent of Africa is sitting on a vast reservoir of groundwater. They argue that the total volume of water in aquifers underground is 100 times the amount found on the surface.The team have produced the most detailed map yet of the scale and potential of this hidden resource.

"Where there's greatest ground water storage is in northern Africa, in the large sedimentary basins, in Libya, Algeria and Chad. The amount of storage in those basins is equivalent to 75m thickness of water across that area - it's a huge amount."

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

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Source: Associated Press

To the world's military leaders, the debate over climate change is long over. They are preparing for a new kind of Cold War in the Arctic, anticipating that rising temperatures there will open up a treasure trove of resources, long-dreamed-of sea lanes and a slew of potential conflicts.

By Arctic standards, the region is already buzzing with military activity, and experts believe that will increase significantly in the years ahead.

Last month, Norway wrapped up one of the largest Arctic maneuvers ever - Exercise Cold Response - with 16,300 troops from 14 countries training on the ice for everything from high intensity warfare to terror threats. Attesting to the harsh conditions, five Norwegian troops were killed when their C-130 Hercules aircraft crashed near the summit of Kebnekaise, Sweden's highest mountain.

The U.S., Canada and Denmark held major exercises two months ago, and in an unprecedented move, the military chiefs of the eight main Arctic powers - Canada, the U.S., Russia, Iceland, Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Finland - gathered at a Canadian military base last week to specifically discuss regional security issues.

None of this means a shooting war is likely at the North Pole any time soon. But as the number of workers and ships increases in the High North to exploit oil and gas reserves, so will the need for policing, border patrols and - if push comes to shove - military muscle to enforce rival claims.

The U.S. Geological Survey estimates that 13 percent of the world's undiscovered oil and 30 percent of its untapped natural gas is in the Arctic. Shipping lanes could be regularly open across the Arctic by 2030 as rising temperatures continue to melt the sea ice, according to a National Research Council analysis commissioned by the U.S. Navy last year.

This is a Suspicious News Brief. Read more from the Associated Press.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Tax time pushes some Americans to renounce their U.S. citizenship

Source: Reuters

The United States is one of the only countries to tax its citizens on income earned while they're living abroad. And just as Americans stateside must file tax returns each April an estimated 6.3 million U.S. citizens living abroad brace for what they describe as an even tougher process of reporting their income and foreign accounts to the IRS.

For those wishing to legally escape the filing requirements, the only way is to formally renounce their U.S. citizenship. Last year, IRS records show that at least 1,788 people did, and that's likely an underestimate.

This is a Suspicious News Brief. Read more at Reuters

Michigan's Department of Natural Resources raids ranches and orders farmer to kill pigs

Source: Natural News

Michigan's Department of Natural Resources (DNR) masterminded armed raids on two ranches in that state, all with the intention of shooting and killing traditional livestock and arresting ranchers as felons. This is part of Michigan's new "Invasive Species Order" which maliciously and unlawfully targets traditional pig livestock as an invasive species, based entirely on their hair color and other physical traits.

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

Sunday, April 15, 2012

How The President Of Iceland Had The Balls To Stand Up To Britain

Source: Business Insider

For Ólafur, president of Iceland, the crisis of 2008 was personal. The sudden collapse was a painful reminder that Iceland was a small, isolated place.

Now, of course, most headlines we see about Iceland seem positive. Iceland is repaying its IMF loans early, unemployment is down, and growth is above average. The streets of Reykjavik seem calm and happy.

Other countries, of course, haven't been so lucky. The crisis remains front page news in Greece, Italy and Spain —countries that followed a very different response from Iceland's.

After the crisis, the country held a full judicial investigation, and went against "the prevailing economic orthodoxies of the American, European and IMF model." Ólafur says that he likes to think that the IMF learned more from Iceland during this time than vice versa.

A key example of this approach is Iceland's refusal to pump money into failed banks. The decision was controversial at the time, but now looks increasingly wise. "I have never understood the argument —why a private bank or financial fund is somehow better for the well being and future of the economy than the industrial sector, the IT sector, the creative sector, or the manufacturing sector".

He says Iceland's lesson is that "If you want your economy to excel in the 21st century [...] a big banking sector, even a very successful banking sector, is bad news." "You could even argue that the bigger the banking sector is, the worse the news is for your economy," he adds, later blaming the huge growth of Iceland's banking sector on the prevailing European banking philosophy and incompetent rating agencies.

This is a Suspicious News Brief. Read more at Business Insider

Friday, April 13, 2012

Life on Mars Found by NASA's Viking Mission?

Source: National Geographic

New analysis suggests robots discovered microbes in 1976.

A fresh look at NASA data suggests that a robotic mission uncovered microbial life on Mars—more than 30 years ago.

In 1976 NASA sent two space probes, Vikings 1 and 2, to Mars to determine whether life exists on the red planet. The probes carried three experiments specially designed for the task, one of which was called the Labeled Release (LR) apparatus.

The LR experiment worked by scooping up a bit of Martian soil and mixing it with a drop of water that contained nutrients and radioactive carbon atoms.

In his previous work, Miller noticed that the LR experiment's radiation measurements varied with the time of day on Mars.

"If you look closely, you could see that the [radioactive-gas measurement] was going up during the day and coming down at night. ... The oscillations had a period of 24.66 hours just about on the nose," Miller said. "That is basically a circadian rhythm, and we think circadian rhythms are a good signal for life."

This is a Suspicious News Brief. Read more at National Geographic

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Judge orders FDA to withdraw approval for antibiotics in livestock

Source: Reuters

NEW YORK (Reuters) -

A lawsuit was filed in May by environmental and public-health groups including The Natural Resources Defense Council, Center for Science in the Public Interest and the Union of Concerned Scientists in the Manhattan federal court in May.

The plaintiffs argued that using common antibiotics in livestock feed has contributed to the rapid growth of antibiotic-resistant bacteria in both animals and humans. Antibiotic-resistant infections cost Americans more than $20 billion each year, the plaintiffs said, citing a 2009 study from the Alliance for the Prudent Use of Antibiotics and Cook County Hospital.

A federal judge on Thursday ordered regulators to start proceedings to withdraw approval for the use of common antibiotics in animal feed, citing concerns that overuse is endangering human health by creating antibiotic-resistant "superbugs".

The case is Natural Resources Defense Council et al. v. FDA, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, no. 11-3562.

This is a Suspicious News Brief. Read more at Reuters

Monday, April 9, 2012

'War on drugs' has failed, say Latin American leaders

Source: The Guardian

A historic meeting of Latin America's leaders, to be attended by Barack Obama, will hear serving heads of state admit that the war on drugs has been a failure and that alternatives to prohibition must now be found.

The Summit of the Americas, to be held in Cartagena, Colombia is being seen by foreign policy experts as a watershed moment in the redrafting of global drugs policy in favour of a more nuanced and liberalised approach.

Otto Pérez Molina, the president of Guatemala, who as former head of his country's military intelligence service experienced the power of drug cartels at close hand, is pushing his fellow Latin American leaders to use the summit to endorse a new regional security plan that would see an end to prohibition. In the Observer, Pérez Molina writes: "The prohibition paradigm that inspires mainstream global drug policy today is based on a false premise: that global drug markets can be eradicated."

Pérez Molina concedes that moving beyond prohibition is problematic. "To suggest liberalisation – allowing consumption, production and trafficking of drugs without any restriction whatsoever – would be, in my opinion, profoundly irresponsible. Even more, it is an absurd proposition. If we accept regulations for alcoholic drinks and tobacco consumption and production, why should we allow drugs to be consumed and produced without any restrictions?"

This is a Suspicious News Brief. Read more at The Guardian.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Middle America Is Experiencing a Massive Increase in 3.0+ Earthquakes

Source: The Atlantic

A new United States Geological Survey study has found that middle America between Alabama and Montana is experiencing an "unprecedented" and "almost certainly manmade" increase in earthquakes of 3.0 magnitude or greater. In 2011, there were 134 events of that size. That's six times more than were normally seen during the 20th century.

While the changes in the area's seismicity began in 2001, the trend has really accelerated since 2009, the geologists note. That happens to coincide with increased oil and gas production using new extraction techniques in some parts of the area.

This is a Suspicious News Brief. Read more at The Atlantic

Swine flu vaccines cause 17-fold increase in narcolepsy

Source: Natural News

A new review published in the journal Public Library of Science ONE confirms that Pandemrix, a swine flu vaccine produced by drug giant GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), is responsible for causing an up to 1700 percent increase in narcolepsy among children and teenagers under 17 years of age.

Compiled data has revealed that between 2002 and 2009, the narcolepsy rate among children under age 17 was 0.31 per 100,000. But in 2010, that number jumped to 5.3 per 100,000, which represents a 17-fold increase.

Children not vaccinated with Pandemrix were found to have a 1300 percent less risk of developing narcolepsy compared to children who were vaccinated with Pandemrix.

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

Swine flu vaccines cause 17-fold increase in narcolepsy

Source: Natural News

A new review published in the journal Public Library of Science ONE confirms that Pandemrix, a swine flu vaccine produced by drug giant GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), is responsible for causing an up to 1700 percent increase in narcolepsy among children and teenagers under 17 years of age.

Compiled data has revealed that between 2002 and 2009, the narcolepsy rate among children under age 17 was 0.31 per 100,000. But in 2010, that number jumped to 5.3 per 100,000, which represents a 17-fold increase.

Children not vaccinated with Pandemrix were found to have a 1300 percent less risk of developing narcolepsy compared to children who were vaccinated with Pandemrix.

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

Fukushima Daiichi Site: Cesium-137 is 85 times greater than at Chernobyl Accident

Source: Ambassador Akio Matsumura Japan’s former Ambassador to Switzerland, Mr. Mitsuhei Murata, was invited to speak at the Public Hearing of the Budgetary Committee of the House of Councilors on March 22, 2012, on the Fukushima nuclear power plants accident. Before the Committee, Ambassador Murata strongly stated that if the crippled building of reactor unit 4—with 1,535 fuel rods in the spent fuel pool 100 feet (30 meters) above the ground—collapses, not only will it cause a shutdown of all six reactors but will also affect the common spent fuel pool containing 6,375 fuel rods, located some 50 meters from reactor 4. In both cases the radioactive rods are not protected by a containment vessel; dangerously, they are open to the air. This would certainly cause a global catastrophe like we have never before experienced. He stressed that the responsibility of Japan to the rest of the world is immeasurable. Such a catastrophe would affect us all for centuries. Ambassador Murata informed us that the total numbers of the spent fuel rods at the Fukushima Daiichi site excluding the rods in the pressure vessel is 11,421 (396+615+566+1,535+994+940+6375). I asked top spent-fuel pools expert Mr. Robert Alvarez, former Senior Policy Adviser to the Secretary and Deputy Assistant Secretary for National Security and the Environment at the U.S. Department of Energy, for an explanation of the potential impact of the 11,421 rods. I received an astounding response from Mr. Alvarez [updated 4/5/12]: In recent times, more information about the spent fuel situation at the Fukushima-Dai-Ichi site has become known.  It is my understanding that of the 1,532 spent fuel assemblies in reactor No. 304 assemblies are fresh and unirradiated. This then leaves 1,231 irradiated spent fuel rods in pool No. 4, which contain roughly 37 million curies (~1.4E+18 Becquerel) of long-lived radioactivity.  The No. 4 pool is about 100 feet above ground, is structurally damaged and is exposed to the open elements. If an earthquake or other event were to cause this pool to drain this could result in a catastrophic radiological fire involving nearly 10 times the amount of Cs-137 released by the Chernobyl accident. The infrastructure to safely remove this material was destroyed as it was at the other three reactors.  Spent reactor fuel cannot be simply lifted into the air by a crane as if it were routine cargo.  In order to prevent severe radiation exposures, fires and possible explosions, it must be transferred at all times in water and heavily shielded structures into dry casks. As this has never been done before, the removal of the spent fuel from the pools at the damaged Fukushima-Dai-Ichi reactors will require a major and time-consuming re-construction effort and will be charting in unknown waters. Despite the enormous destruction cased at the Da–Ichi site, dry casks holding a smaller amount of spent fuel  appear to be unscathed. Based on U.S. Energy Department data, assuming a total of 11,138 spent fuel assemblies are being stored at the Dai-Ichi site, nearly all, which is in pools. They contain roughly 336 million curies (~1.2 E+19 Bq) of long-lived radioactivity. About 134 million curies is Cesium-137 — roughly 85 times the amount of Cs-137 released at the Chernobyl accident as estimated by the U.S. National Council on Radiation Protection (NCRP). The total spent reactor fuel inventory at the Fukushima-Daichi site contains nearly half of  the total amount of Cs-137 estimated by the NCRP to have been released by all atmospheric nuclear weapons testing, Chernobyl, and world-wide reprocessing plants (~270 million curies or ~9.9 E+18 Becquerel). It is important for the public to understand that reactors that have been operating for decades, such as those at the Fukushima-Dai-Ichi site have generated some of the largest concentrations of radioactivity on the planet. Many of our readers might find it difficult to appreciate the actual meaning of the figure, yet we can grasp what 85 times more Cesium-137 than the Chernobyl would mean. It would destroy the world environment and our civilization. This is not rocket science, nor does it connect to the pugilistic debate over nuclear power plants. This is an issue of human survival. There was a Nuclear Security Summit Conference in Seoul on March 26 and 27, and Ambassador Murata and I made a concerted effort to find someone to inform the participants from 54 nations of the potential global catastrophe of reactor unit 4. We asked several participants to share the idea of an Independent Assessment team comprised of a broad group of international experts to deal with this urgent issue. I would like to introduce Ambassador Murata’s letter to the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to convey this urgent message and also his letter to Japan’s Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda for Japanese readers. He emphasized in the statement that we should bring human wisdom to tackle this unprecedented challenge. It seems to us that the Nuclear Security Summit was focused on the North Korea nuclear issue and on the issue of common security from a terrorist attack. Our appeal on the need for the independent assessment at Reactor 4 was regarded as less urgent. We predicted this outcome in light of the nature of the Summit. I suppose most participants fully understood the potential disaster which will affect their countries. Nevertheless, they decided not to raise the delicate issue, perhaps in order to not ruffle their diplomatic relationship with Japan. I was moved by Ambassador Murata’s courage in pressing this issue in Japan. I know how difficult it is for a former career diplomat to do this, especially in my country.  Current and former government officials might be similarly restricted in the scope of their actions, as Ambassador Murata is, but it is their responsibility to take a stand for the benefit of our descendants for centuries to come—to pass on a world safer than our ancestors passed us. If Japanese government leaders do not recognize the risk their nation faces, how could the rest of us be persuaded of the looming disaster? And if the rest of us do not acknowledge the catastrophe we collectively face, who will be the one to act?  
Tokyo, March 25, 2012 Dear Secretary-General, Honorable Ban Ki-moon, I wish to express my heartfelt gratitude for your considerate letter dated 2 March, 2012. Your moral support for a United Nations Ethics Summit will remain a constant source of encouragement for my activities. Please allow me to pay a tribute to your great contribution to strengthen nuclear safety and security. The current Nuclear Summit in Seoul is no doubt greatly benefiting from the high-level meeting you convened last September. I was asked to make a statement at the public hearing of the Budgetary Committee of the House of Councilors on March 23. I raised the crucial problem. of N0.4 reactor of Fukushima containing1535 fuel rods. It could be fatally damaged by continuing aftershocks. Moreover, 50 meters away from it exists a common cooling pool for 6 reactors containing 6375 fuel rods! It is no exaggeration to say that the fate of Japan and the whole world depends on NO.4 reactor. This is confirmed by most reliable experts like Dr. Arnie Gundersen or Dr. Fumiaki Koide. Please allow me to inform you of an initiative being taken by a former UN official who is endeavoring to have the Nuclear Security Summit take up the crucial problem. of N0.4 reactor of Fukushima. He is pursuing the establishment of an independent assessment team. I think his efforts are very significant, because it is indispensable to draw the attention of world leaders to this vital issue. I am cooperating with him, writing to some of my Korean acquaintances that this issue deserves the personal attention of President Lee Myung-bak. I have written today to Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda. I asked him to consider taking the initiative of mobilizing human wisdom on the widest scope to cope with the Fukushima reactor No.4 problem, fully taking into account the above-mentioned “independent assessment team”. The world has been made so fragile and vulnerable. The role of the United Nations is increasingly vital. I wish you the best of luck in your noble mission. Please accept, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, the assurances of my highest consideration.                                                                       Mitsuhei Murata Former Japanese Ambassador to Switzerland and Senegal Executive Director, the Japan Society for Global System and Ethics 
This is a Suspicious News Brief. Read more at Ambassador Akio Matsumura's web site.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Bart Ehrman - Did Jesus Exist?

Source: NPR - KERA

As you celebrate Good Friday and Easter, I suggest that you spend 50 minutes listening to this interview with Bart Ehrman. Bart Ehrman is a Professor of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill and he spoke with our local NPR affiliate about his new book “Did Jesus Exist?: The Historical Argument for Jesus of Nazareth”. Ehrman addresses the Christ myth theory and explains why most historians agree that Jesus did exist and he also explains why there is limited historical evidence to prove that Jesus existed. I was surprised to hear that there are only two authors from Palestine during the first century. Historians estimate that 97% of people were illiterate during Jesus' life. The Romans were not detailed record keepers, and that's probably why there are no records of his birth, life and death other than the New Testament.

Most Scholars and historians agree that Jesus was a first century Palestinian Jew who was a preacher who spent most of his time in the cities around the Sea of Galilee, and went to Jerusalem to celebrate Passover where he was turned over to Roman authorities and that Pontius Pilate ordered him to be crucified. Ehrman explains why there are no surviving written accounts from anybody who witnessed Jesus' ministry first-hand and why the stories about Jesus were passed on by oral tradition for many years after Jesus' death. The stories were passed on by word of mouth and the stories changed gradually until literate authors recorded the stories. Scribes then copied and translated the stories for centuries until they were finally included in the Bible we have today.



This is a Suspicious News Brief. Listen to the interview at NPR - KERA

You may also enjoy another NPR interview with Bart Ehrman about his book "Jesus Interrupted":

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Americans brace for next foreclosure wave

Now that the biggest banks have reached a settlement for their robo-signing crimes, they can catch-up on all of the foreclosures they would have done if they hadn't gotten caught breaking the laws.

Source: Reuters

Zillow expects the resurgence in foreclosures this year, combined with excess inventory of unsold, bank-owned homes will contribute to a 3.7 percent national decline in prices before the market hits bottom in 2013 and stays there until 2016.

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

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Doctoral student's solar reactor may produce hydrogen from sunlight

Source: University of Delaware

Erik Koepf, a doctoral candidate in mechanical engineering, has designed a novel reactor that employs highly concentrated sunlight and zinc oxide powder to produce solar hydrogen, a truly clean, sustainable fuel with zero emissions.

This is a Suspicious News Brief. Read more at University of Delaware

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Stop Backdoor Bribery, Disclose Your Job Negotiations With K Street

Source: Republic Report

In some cases, a Senator or Representative will slip language into a bill or write an earmark that benefits a special interest, and when they leave Congress, a big paycheck is waiting for them from the very same company. While the process of public officials going to work for lobbying firms is often called the “revolving door,” we think this issue deserves more emphasis and urgency. With members of Congress secretly manipulating the laws we must all live under, and then receiving lavish rewards, so they can live lavish lifestyles, we call that Backdoor Bribery.

Republic Report sent a letter to 36 retiring members of Congress and their responses are being tracked.

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