Saturday, July 27, 2013

We Cannot Know Who Are We Are At War With Because It's Classified

Source: ProPublica

At a hearing in May, Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., asked the Defense Department to provide him with a current list of Al Qaeda affiliates.

The Pentagon responded – but Levin’s office told ProPublica they aren’t allowed to share it “because elements that might be considered ‘associated forces’ can build credibility by being listed as such by the United States, we have classified the list. We cannot afford to inflate these organizations that rely on violent extremist ideology to strengthen their ranks.”

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Syrian rebels to start receiving US weapons amid anxiety from Congress

Apparently Gen. Martin Dempsey is wrong about how we've learned from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Source: Guardian

The top US military officer warned senators on Monday that taking military action to stop the bloodshed in Syria was likely to escalate quickly and result in "unintended consequences". Alluding to the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan, General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, said that once the US became embroiled militarily in the Syrian civil war, "deeper involvement is hard to avoid".

He said: "We have learned from the past 10 years, however, that it is not enough to simply alter the balance of military power without careful consideration of what is necessary in order to preserve a functioning state."

Armed Rebels Massacre Entire Population of Christian Village in Syria

Source: Assyrian International News Agency (AINA)

The armed rebels affiliated to the Free Syrian Army (FSA) raided the Christian-populated al-Duvair village in Reef (outskirts of) Homs near the border with Lebanon….and massacred all its civilian residents, including women and children.

See also this post on the Infowars blog for photos they claim were taken after the attacks.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Judge Challenges White House Claims on Authority in Drone Killings

Source: New York Times

A federal judge on Friday sharply and repeatedly challenged the Obama administration’s claim that courts have no power over targeted drone killings of American citizens overseas.

Judge Rosemary M. Collyer of the United States District Court here was hearing the government’s request to dismiss a lawsuit filed by relatives of three Americans killed in two drone strikes in Yemen in 2011.

“Are you saying that a U.S. citizen targeted by the United States in a foreign country has no constitutional rights?” she asked Brian Hauck, a deputy assistant attorney general. “How broadly are you asserting the right of the United States to target an American citizen? Where is the limit to this?”

She provided her own answer: “The limit is the courthouse door.”

Mr. Hauck acknowledged that Americans targeted overseas do have rights, but he said they could not be enforced in court either before or after the Americans were killed.

... But he argued, as Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. has in the past, that there are multiple “checks” inside the executive branch to make sure such killings are legally justified.

Judge Collyer did not buy it. “No, no, no,” she said. “The executive is not an effective check on the executive.”

Congress Expresses Anger Over NSA Surveillance Program

Source: Boston Globe

For the first time, NSA Deputy Director John C. Inglis disclosed that the agency sometimes conducts what is known as <b>three-hop analysis</b>. That means the government can look at the phone data of a suspected terrorist, plus the data of all of the contacts, then all of those people’s contacts, and all of those people’s contacts.
<p>
If the average person calls 40 unique people, three-hop analysis could allow the government to mine the records of 2.5 million Americans when investigating one suspected terrorist.
<p>
The government says it stores everybody’s phone records for five years.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Treasury Debt Has Been Exactly $16,699,396,000,000.00 for 56 Days

Source: CSN

According to the Daily Treasury Statement for July 12, which the U.S. Treasury released this afternoon, the federal debt that is currently subject to a legal limit of $16,699,421,095,673.60 has stood at exactly $16,699,396,000,000.00 for 56 straight days.

That means that for 56 straight days the federal debt has remained approximately $25 million below the legal limit.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Feds Banned From Def Con Due To PRISM

Source: Slashdot

Federal law-enforcement agents haven’t been exactly welcome at Black Hat, the security conference that approaches large-scale IT security from the cracker’s point of view.

This year they’re not welcome at all, at least at the larger Def Con conference that spawned Black Hat and is usually held in conjunction with it. The reason? The ever-growing scandal over revelations of NSA surveillance programs that allegedly capture data on millions of phone calls and emails by tens of millions of Americans.

The resulting hostility toward the NSA and other government intelligence or law-enforcement agencies could ruin the carefully non-confrontational atmosphere at the conferences.

Def Con and the feds who attend its “need some time apart,” according to a post from Def Con/Black Hat founder Jeff Moss, who is also known as Dark Tangent. “For over two decades Def Con has been an open nexus of hacker culture, a place where seasoned pros, hackers, academics and feds can meet, share ideas and party on neutral territory.”

...

“Here’s the thing,” wrote Errata Security’s Graham. “[Def Con is] not a fed convention but a hacker party. The feds don’t have a right to be there– the hackers do. If bad behaving hackers are going to stir up trouble with innocent feds, it’s still the feds who have to go.” Or not go, as the case may be.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Sarah Slamen Testimony on the Abortion Restrictions in Texas SB1

The Texas legislature is about to pass some of the most restrictive abortion laws as part of House Bill 2 (HB-2) which has become Senate Bill 1 (SB-1). If passed, SB-1 would criminalize abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy and shut down most abortion clinics in the state. On July 12 a young woman named Sarah Slamen signed up to testify during the public debate of SB-1 and I wanted to include the video and a transcript of her testimony on my blog as an example of how Texas women are fighting against this bill and how the Texas legislature treats constituents when they challenge their elected leaders.

Senator Jane Nelson: Sarah Slamen.

Sarah Slamen: Thank you, Chair Committee, my name is Sarah Slamen. I am a constituent of Senator Whitmire. I’m here to testify against SB1 because I’m tired of Republican primary politics, misogyny and greed dominating the state I was born, raised and schooled in. And you know, I had some really eloquent remarks written out but you guys have just worn me down all day. With all this terrible science and glad-handing and to be frank I get to move to New York next month. So I don’t have to live in fear of you Texas legislators anymore and what you’re going to do to my education system, or my healthcare system, ‘cause I’m going to a state that doesn’t kill its own inmates. That’s how pro-life it is, up there. I will thank you, though, first. It was destiny that you would discriminate against us and try to force your way inside the bodies of Texas women. Thank you for finally working against women so publicly, and not in the shadows like you’re used to. Thank you for every single bad press conference with your bad information. Thank you for every hateful statement degrading women and girls to sex objects and brood mares and bald eagles and leather wallets like your eloquent pro-life supporters have done today. Thank you for being you, Texas legislature. You have radicalized hundreds of thousands of us. And no matter what you do for the next 22 days, women and their allies are coming for you.

Let’s start down the line: Senator Campbell you’re an ophthalmologist so I won’t be making you the expert on reproductive health. We can give you all the children with chlamydia and herpes in their eyes, since we don’t have Sex Ed in this state. And Senator Hegar, you are about as helpful ...

Senator Jane Nelson: [hammers gavel and speaks over Slamen] I will not allow ...

Sarah Slamen: ... Excuse me. This is my government ma'am. I will judge you!

Senator Nelson: [unintelligible - apparently chastising and trying to speak over Slamen]

Sarah Slamen: ... I will judge you ma’am! Is this counting against my time?

Senator Nelson: Yes, it is.

Sarah Slamen: ... the senator talking against me?

Senator Nelson: Yes it is.

Sarah Slamen: OK, well I will just go ahead and talk over her ...

Senator Nelson I will not allow you to disrespect ... [unintelligible trying to speak over Slamen]

Sarah Slamen: This is how big of a fraud I knew you are for being so proud of these proceedings all night. It’s a low bar that you hold yourself to that you simply allowed us to speak.
[State Trooper steps towards Slamen]
... and I will speak against an ophthalmologist who says ...
[Another State Trooper steps forward and the two troopers begin dragging her away from the microphone]
... Everyone on the internet can see what you’re doing right now. This is a farce! The Texas legislature is a bunch of liars who hate women. These men are paid off ...
[A third State Trooper helps drag Slamen away from the microphone]

Senator Jane Nelson: Our next witness is Gary Oldham.

Sarah Slamen: [Shouting louder and leaning forward so she can be heard while being dragged away from the microphone] ... so they can tell us what to do with the inside of our bodies ...

Thursday, July 11, 2013

With Surf Like Turf, Huge Algae Bloom Befouls China Coast

The algae blooms seem to be feeding on nutrients from fertilizer that is carried from farms into the sea.

Source: <a href="http://mobile.nytimes.com/2013/07/06/world/asia/huge-algae-bloom-afflicts-qingdao-china.html">New York Times</a>

BEIJING — In what has become an annual summer scourge, the coastal Chinese city of Qingdao has been hit by a near-record algae bloom that has left its popular beaches fouled with a green, stringy muck.
...
A group of researchers believe that the algae that washes up around Qingdao originates farther south in seaweed farms along the coast of Jiangsu Province. The farms grow porphyra, known as nori in Japanese cuisine, on large rafts in coastal waters. The rafts attract a kind of algae called Ulva prolifera, and when the farmers clean them off each spring they spread the algae out into the Yellow Sea, where it finds nutrients and warm conditions ideal for blooming.
...
While farmers have long grown seaweed along the Jiangsu coast, the rafts expanded much farther offshore starting in 2006, which may have contributed to the recent blooms, according to an article published by Dr. Keesing and his colleagues. The answer to curtailing the blooms may lie in disposing of the algae that clogs the nori rafts on land.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Syrian rebels may have used chemical weapon in Aleppo, says Russia

Jabhat al-Nusra is an al-Qaeda linked group who Obama and McCain want to provide with weapons, financial aid and/or military aid.

Source: <a href="http://m.guardiannews.com/world/2013/jul/09/syrian-rebels-chemical-weapon-russia">Guardian</a>

Russian scientific analysis indicates that a deadly projectile that hit a suburb of the Syrian city of Aleppo on 19 March contained the nerve agent sarin and was most likely fired by rebels, Russia's UN envoy said on Tuesday

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Growing Spirulina at Home

Source: <a href="http://www.algaeindustrymagazine.com/growing-spirulina-at-home/">Algae Industry Magazine</a>

Spirulina is in fact an extremophile, capable of growing in extremely alkaline water inhospitable to almost every other organism. Most other algae grow in essentially pH-neutral water, which supports the growth of a vast range of algae—including types that produce toxins—as well as doing nothing to inhibit the growth of other potentially harmful organisms such as bacteria. In my biofuel-algae work, we’re constantly fending off invasive species. It’s not just an academic concern. Since it is generally hard to control the growth of possibly harmful stuff (and although it’s fun, we think you should look at your culture under the microscope every day), this aspect of Spirulina cultivation is pretty key to growing pure and safe cultures on a DIY basis.