Sunday, April 27, 2014

FLAMING WATER: TEXAS HOMEOWNER TAKES ON A GAS COMPANY

Source: Al Jazeera America

Since Steve Lipsky found methane in his well, he's battled the company he blames for his flammable water

WEATHERFORD, Texas — Steve Lipsky, an entrepreneur and businessman, ... found methane contaminating his water well, he has waged a legal battle against the gas company Range Resources.

... methane levels in his well have risen to concentrations nearly three times higher than what’s considered explosive,

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Mysterious bio-duck sound attributed to the Antarctic minke whale (Balaenoptera bonaerensis

Source: Royal Society Biology Letters

For decades, the bio-duck sound has been recorded in the Southern Ocean, but the animal producing it has remained a mystery. Heard mainly during austral winter in the Southern Ocean, this ubiquitous sound has been recorded in Antarctic waters and contemporaneously off the Australian west coast. Here, we present conclusive evidence that the bio-duck sound is produced by Antarctic minke whales (Balaenoptera bonaerensis). We analysed data from multi-sensor acoustic recording tags that included intense bio-duck sounds as well as singular downsweeps that have previously been attributed to this species. This finding allows the interpretation of a wealth of long-term acoustic recordings for this previously acoustically concealed species, which will improve our understanding of the distribution, abundance and behaviour of Antarctic minke whales. This is critical information for a species that inhabits a difficult to access sea-ice environment that is changing rapidly in some regions and has been the subject of contentious lethal sampling efforts and ongoing international legal action.

How to Drink All Night Without Getting Drunk

Source: Esquire

Jim Koch knows beer. He also knows a beer trick that may change your life.

... co-founder and chairman of the Boston Beer Company, ... Jim Koch...
...
Joseph Owades was a flat-out genius. With a PhD in biochemistry ... and an early job in the fermentation sciences department at Fleischmann’s...
... Owades knew ... that active dry yeast has an enzyme in it called alcohol dehydrogenases (ADH) ... if you also have that enzyme in your stomach when the alcohol first hits it, the ADH will begin breaking it down before it gets into your bloodstream and, thus, your brain. 

“And it will mitigate – not eliminate – but mitigate the effects of alcohol!” Koch told me.

In his final years Owades even patented a product called Prequel, an all-natural pill similarly designed to limit drunkenness. No companies wanted to deal with the potential liabilities of the product, and Owades died in 2005 at the age of 86.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Sen. Harry Reid’s baseless ‘domestic terror’ accusations

Source: Washington Post  

Harry Reid did it again.

The Senate majority leader ... called Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy and his supporters “domestic terrorists.”
...
First, Reid is defending the Obama administration from the charge that it used excessive force to try to seize the land.
...
Second, Reid is defending his former staffer, Neil Kornze, who presided over this debacle as the newly installed head of the Bureau of Land Management.
...
Third, Reid is trying to discredit the critics of the federal government’s actions as extremists — and by extension all those who complain about the excesses of federal power. He wants to paint supporters of limited government as radicals so out of the mainstream that they are now even defending “domestic terrorists.”

But instead of painting conservatives as extremists, Reid is only painting Democrats as enemies of the Western way of life. ...

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Study: US is an oligarchy, not a democracy

Source: BBC

... Princeton University Prof Martin Gilens and Northwestern University Prof Benjamin I Page ... have conducted exhaustive research to try to present data-driven support for this conclusion. Here's how they explain it:

"Multivariate analysis indicates that economic elites and organised groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on US government policy, while average citizens and mass-based interest groups have little or no independent influence."

In English: the wealthy few move policy, while the average American has little power.

The two professors came to this conclusion after reviewing answers to 1,779 survey questions asked between 1981 and 2002 on public policy issues. They broke the responses down by income level, and then determined how often certain income levels and organised interest groups saw their policy preferences enacted.

"A proposed policy change with low support among economically elite Americans (one-out-of-five in favour) is adopted only about 18% of the time," they write, "while a proposed change with high support (four-out-of-five in favour) is adopted about 45% of the time."

On the other hand:

"When a majority of citizens disagrees with economic elites and/or with organised interests, they generally lose. Moreover, because of the strong status quo bias built into the US political system, even when fairly large majorities of Americans favour policy change, they generally do not get it."

They conclude:

"Americans do enjoy many features central to democratic governance, such as regular elections, freedom of speech and association and a widespread (if still contested) franchise. But we believe that if policymaking is dominated by powerful business organisations and a small number of affluent Americans, then America's claims to being a democratic society are seriously threatened."

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

US land use and ownership disputes: From Shoshone to Bundy

Regardless of what you believe about these disputes, I strongly encourage peaceful resolution! We the People have rights in Article V to amend the Constitution. If indeed the Federal government is the problem as Cliven Bundy and his supporters claim then amendments should be adopted by a national convention assembled at the request of the legislatures of at least two-thirds (at present 34) of the states and ratified by state ratifying conventions in three-fourths (at present 38) of the states.

Below is a sampling of history to help you put things into context as you make your own decisions about who you support in these disputes.

Source: LA Times

The Western Shoshone ancestral lands ranged from the Snake River Valley in Idaho to Salt Lake Valley in Utah, across most of eastern and central Nevada, and into Death Valley and the Mojave Desert in California.

1946 The Indian Claims Commission determined that Western Shoshone lands had been taken through "gradual encroachment" during settlement of the West. It awarded $27 million to the tribe -- the 1872 value of the 24 million acres.

1985 Tribal members unwilling to relinquish their claim to the land took the case to the Supreme Court, where they lost.

2004 Western Shoshone Claims Distribution Act ... gave final approval to paying more than $145 million
... Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.)
"For years, members of the Western Shoshone tribe have been asking us to pass this legislation," Reid said in a statement. "Today, their efforts and hopes have become a reality ... and now the money can finally be distributed."

Source: U.S. News and World Report

Controversy between the West and the federal government is nothing new. The region has depended on, but resented, Washington involvement in its activities since the first settlers arrived more than 150 years ago. Problems, however, have intensified under Carter...

At the heart of the controversy is the land. The federal government owns more than half the land in the West, 700 million acres ...

"This vast federal holding means we are not our own landlords," says Colorado Governor Richard D. Lamm. "We cannot control our own destiny."

Adds Arizona State Senator Anne Lindeman of Phoenix: "Everybody thinks that the Sagebrush Rebellion is just for the benefit of cattlemen. The basic concern is that people here have nothing to say about the large hunks of federally owned and managed lands."

 The spark that ignited the revolt was the 1976 Federal Land Policy and Management Act, which says that public land must be kept in perpetual trust by the federal government. ...
... "We've been robbed blind for 100 years by mismanagement of federal lands," declares Huey Johnson, director of California's Resources Agency.

Source: University of Texas

Executive Order 12548 -- Grazing Fees
February 14, 1986

By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and laws of the United States of America, and in order to provide for establishment of appropriate fees for the grazing of domestic livestock on public rangelands, it is ordered as follows:

Section 1. Determination of Fees. The Secretaries of Agriculture and the Interior are directed to exercise their authority, to the extent permitted by law under the various statutes they administer, to establish fees for domestic livestock grazing on the public rangelands...

Ronald Reagan
The White House,
February 14, 1986

Source: Washington Post THE FIX blog
...
1989: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service lists the desert tortoise as an endangered species. A year later, its designation was changed to "threatened."

March 1993: The Washington Post publishes a story about the federal government's efforts to protect the desert tortoise in Nevada.
...
April 1995: ... a small bomb went off in the U.S. Forest Service office in Carson City, Nev.
...
1998: A federal judge issues a permanent injunction against Bundy, ordering him to remove his cattle from the federal lands. He lost an appeal to the San Francisco 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. He represented himself.

March 2002: Cliff Gardner is sentenced to a month in a Reno halfway house, along with a $5,000 fine and a year of probation. ... more than 50 states' rights protesters were in the courtroom with him.
... "This court has tried to intimidate the citizens of Nevada by attempting to make an example of Cliff Gardner," said Cliven Bundy, a Clark County rancher.

July 2009: The federal government is still fighting with local ranchers. They have signs posted all over the public land, stating that it is off-limits for grazing.
... Bundy says that his family has grazed here since the nineteenth century and that he doesn't recognize the authority of the federal government. He has threatened resistance if anyone enforces the court order to remove his cattle from the wilderness.

April 2012: The BLM plans to round up Bundy's cattle. After several threats, these plans are abandoned. The Center for Biological Diversity files an intent to sue against the BLM for canceling their plans.

May 2012: BLM files a complain in a federal Las Vegas court seeking an injunction against Bundy.

February 2013: After endless complaints from ranchers and hunters, Nevada Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval demands the resignation of Kenneth Mayer, director of the Nevada Department of Wildlife. One of Mayer's biggest projects was deciding whether to add another Nevada animal to the endangered species list, the sage grouse.
...
August 2013: A court order says Bundy has 45 days to remove his cattle from federal land.

October 2013: A federal district judge court tells Bundy not to "physically interfere with any seizure or impoundment operation."

March 15, 2014: After nearly 20 years, the Bureau of Land Management sends Bundy a letter informing him that they plan to impound his "trespass cattle," which have been roaming on 90 miles of federal land. BLM averages four livestock impoundments a year, usually involving a few dozen animals.

March 27, 2014 The BLM has closed off 322,000 acres of public land, and is preparing to collect Bundy's cattle. ... Bundy also says he has a virtual army of supporters from all over the country ready to protect him.
...
Clark County Commissioner Tom Collinsalso supports Bundy. "The U.S. government has perpetrated a bigger fraud on people over those tortoises than Al Capone did selling swampland in Miami."

April 1, 2014: ... BLM has set up two "First Amendment areas" in nearby Bunkerville.

April 2, 2014: Around 30 protesters line up outside the Livestock auction house to protest the sale of Bundy's cattle.
... Bundy's cousin, Terri Robertson. They've only met a few times, and only at meetings about the federal lands. "He's just in a world of his own. I don't think he's working on all four cylinders," Robertson said. Bundy retorts that his city slicker cousin doesn't know what she is talking about. "My cattle are the kind of cattle people look for at Whole Foods."

April 5, 2014: federal officials and cowboys start rounding up what they think are Cliven Bundy's hundreds of cows. The operation was going to cost $1 million, and reportedly last until May.
...[Bundy said,] "The tortoises eat the cow manure, too. It's filled with protein."

April 6, 2014: Cliven Bundy's 37-year-old son is arrested for "refusing to disperse" and resisting arrest. He was released the following day. ...
The Nevada Cattlemen's Association distances itself from protests over Bundy's cattle. "Nevada Cattlemen's Association does not feel it is in our best interest to interfere in the process of adjudication in this matter."

April 9, 2014: Two of Bundy's family members are injured in a confrontation with federal officials. One of them was Bundy's son, tasered after he kicked a police dog. "I'm almost getting mad enough to swear," Bundy says. "The one thing we're going to do is stay cool and we're gonna fight."

April 10, 2014: A protest camp has formed. There is a sign at the entrance that reads, "MILITA SIGHN IN."
... Jack Faught, Bundy's first cousin, drove his forest green 1929 Chevy truck from Mesquite loaded with water and Gatorade.

"It's not about the cows," he said. "It's about the freedom to make our own choices close to home."
...
One protester, a former Arizona sheriff named Richard Mack, told Fox News about the militia's plans if violence broke out in Bunkerville. "We were actually strategizing to put all the women up at the front. If they are going to start shooting, it's going to be women that are going to be televised all across the world getting shot by these rogue federal officers."
...
April 12, 2014: BLM decides not to enforce their court order: "Based on information about conditions on the ground, and in consultation with law enforcement, we have made a decision to conclude the cattle gather because of our serious concern about the safety of employees and members of the public."

The Bundy son who was tasered said, "We won the battle." He told another outlet, "The people have the power when they unite. The war has just begun."

April 14, 2014: BLM also pledges that this isn't done. A spokesperson for the bureau said this Sunday, "The door isn't closed. We'll figure out how to move forward with this."
...
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid tells a local news outlet, "It's not over. We can't have an American people that violate the law and then just walk away from it. So it's not over."

Rory Reid: Rancher Cliven Bundy "Should Be Prosecuted"

Source: KSVN-TV via realclearpolitics.com

RORY REID, SON OF SEN. HARRY REID: We believe in a country in which we are subject to laws and you can’t just ignore the laws we don’t like. I think clearly if state and local prosecutors look at this more closely, they’re going to find that he broke the law and he should be prosecuted.

###

REID: He is not a victim and he’s not a hero. He’s been using that he doesn’t own for over 20 years and he didn’t pay. He broke the law. There are hundreds of ranchers throughout Nevada that conduct their profession honorably. There’s thousands of them throughout the country and when they have a dispute with the BLM they try to work it out. (source: KSVN-TV)

Monday, April 14, 2014

More Evidence that Ocean Acidification Turns Fish Into Bait

Source: Motherboard.VICE.com

Between the acidic reef and the normal reef, species abundance, richness, and composition seemed to be unchanged. "The fish are metabolically the same between the control reef and the CO2 reef," Dixson says. "At this point, we have only seen effects on their behavior." What's more, acidic reefs tend to be safer places for fish, with fewer concentrations of predators in the first place. So, there's a possibility the projected acidification could be a wash, at least in terms of fish mortality. 

The Great Decoupling: How the West is Engineering its Own Downfall

Source: Corbett Report

...the BRICS association that economists were wringing their hands over in previous years as a major threat to American-led western economic neoliberalism? It was actually created by Goldman Sachs, an outgrowth of a research paper that was convincing enough that it actually caused the four nations (of the then-”BRIC” grouping) to start a political process that made the paper into reality.

Bundy: “The citizens of America” got my cattle back

Source: CBS News

Bureau of Land Management Chief Neil Kornze announced an abrupt halt to the weeklong roundup just hours before the release.

"Based on information about conditions on the ground and in consultation with law enforcement, we have made a decision to conclude the cattle gather because of our serious concerns about the safety of employees and members of the public," Kornze said in a statement.

Hundreds of states' rights protesters, including militia members, showed up at corrals outside Mesquite to demand the animals' return to rancher Cliven Bundy. Some protesters were armed with handguns and rifles at the corrals and at an earlier nearby rally.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Collins manages to insult Utahns with comments on Bundy roundup

...Darin Bushman, a Piute County, Utah, commissioner, called [Clark County Nevada Commissioner] Tom Collins about the Bureau of Land Management roundup of Bundy’s cattle in the Gold Butte area, about 80 miles northeast of Las Vegas. The cattle are being seized after Bundy failed to pay grazing fees over 20 years. When the conversation ended, Bushman posted on Facebook that Collins said Utahns are “inbred bastards” and if they come to Clark County to support Bundy they “better have funeral plans.” Collins also told Bushman that they should mind their “own (expletive) business.”

Collins’ statement draws scrutiny

Source: Las Vegas Sun

Update: The Las Vegas Sun Appears to have taken down their report of this incident. You may be able to view a Google cache version here.

Commissioner Tom Collins’ profanity-laced statement last week to supporters of embattled rancher Cliven Bundy have landed him in hot water.
During a phone call with a county commissioner from Utah, Collins warned that any Utahns coming with guns to help Bundy “better have funeral plans.” Collins also referred to Utahns as inbred and used several expletives, according to a Facebook post made by Darin Bushman, the commissioner from Piute County.
Collins has tried to clarify the remarks, saying that he was only trying to discourage violence by telling armed Bundy supporters to stay away.
But his efforts haven’t been enough to quell the controversy.
Although Collins’ behavior is not listed on the agenda, Commission Chair Steve Sisolak plans to lead a discussion about the decorum of board members. It's not clear whether Collins will face any sort of formal reprimand.

PhoneSat 2.5 is scheduled to launch on the next SpaceX commercial cargo flight to the International Space Station.  

The SpaceX-3 mission should hopefully launch tomorrow (Monday, April 14) and will deploy the latest SmallSat. PhoneSat 2.5 is built from mostly consumer off the shelf products such as the Samsung Galaxy S platform smartphone and Android OS that provides most of the satellite control systems.

Source: NASA
 
In addition to the large memory, fast processors, GPS receivers, gyroscope and magnetometer sensors and high-resolution cameras commonly found in smartphones, the PhoneSat 2.5 also houses a low-cost commercial attitude determination and control system that contains reaction wheels that by slowing down or speeding up, can rotate the satellite. Engineers hope to determine if this control system can orient PhoneSat in space, a critical capability for satellites that may need to point towards a specific object of scientific interest like an asteroid, star or features on Earth. The missions also gather further information about the orbital lifespan of the smartphone components.
 
"By advancing the price performance of nanosatellites using consumer electronics, we can make some of the more radical ideas become economically viable," said Jasper Wolfe, PhoneSat Control System lead at NASA Ames.

NATO pics 'show Russia buildup' near Ukraine

Source: CNN

The photos of tanks, artillery battalions, and infantry brigades near Novocherkassk -- just 50 kilometers from the Ukrainian border -- show Russia's preparation for a potential invasion, says Igor Sutyagin, a research fellow for Russian studies at RUSI, a defense and security think tank.
...
Sutyagin says the recent build-up of these jets in what appear to be sparsely resourced air fields doesn't make much sense from a strategic standpoint.

"The planes seem to be more about parade than about preparation," he says. "Firstly, they're designed to fly hundreds of kilometers anyway, so moving them another 90 kilometers closer to the border won't make much difference."

He added: "If the Russians do not have installations to service the planes, or utilize weapons storages, and if they're far from their permanent bases where their rear-support units are concentrated, they cannot be operationally effective for an invasion."

In pictures: Russian military build-up near Ukraine

Source: BBC

Nato's decision to release over 20 satellite images and associated maps of the Russian military build-up on Ukraine's eastern frontier is a signal of the concern among the alliance's commanders that a Russian military option against Ukraine is very much on the table, the BBC's diplomatic correspondent Jonathan Marcus reports.

An unnamed Russian military official responded to the release of the images by saying that the satellite photos were actually taken in 2013.

Nato, however, rejects the Russian allegations out of hand.

It says: "The dates of the images released by Shape were collected by the Digital Globe satellite 'Constellation' between late March and early April 2014. The images are unclassified and are commercially available in Digital Globe's public archive. Shape did not alter or edit the images in any way prior to release."

Saturday, April 12, 2014

I Have No Idea How I Ended Up in That Stupid Geocentrism Documentary

Source: Slate

By Lawrence Krauss

The Earth goes around the sun. This is not up for debate.

... The best thing we can all do when faced by nonsense like that, or equivalent silliness promoted by biblical fundamentalists who claim that science supports a literal interpretation of the Bible, is to ignore it in public forums, and not shine any light on the authors of this trash. As far as this particular film is concerned, one might hope that it has high production value that cost the producers a lot of money. Then, when no one beyond the three people in the country who may somehow have missed the last 500 years of science and history during their education watches the film, we can hope that the whole misbegotten enterprise will bankrupt the production company, or at least severely cramp its style.

Police Officers Warned About Civilian Camera Encounters

Source: KTVT CBS DFW

Dallas Police Association President Ron Pinkston wants citizens to stop taping because he worries someone will get hurt. “It’s creating a major officer safety issue,” he said. “We don’t know who it is pulling behind us. We don’t know they’re there to videotape, they might be part of… if that guy has has just done a kidnapping they could be part of the kidnapping. You don’t know.”

NSA Said to Exploit Heartbleed Bug for Intelligence for Years

Source: Bloomberg

The U.S. National Security Agency knew for at least two years about a flaw in the way that many websites send sensitive information, now dubbed the Heartbleed bug, and regularly used it to gather critical intelligence, two people familiar with the matter said

CIA’s use of harsh interrogation went beyond legal authority,

Source: McClatchy

A still-secret Senate Intelligence Committee report calls into question the legal foundation of the CIA’s use of waterboarding and other harsh interrogation techniques on suspected terrorists, a finding that challenges the key defense on which the agency and the Bush administration relied in arguing that the methods didn’t constitute torture.
...
The 6,300-page report is the culmination of a four-year, $40 million investigation into the detention and interrogation program by the Democrat-led committee. A final draft was approved in December 2012, but it has undergone revisions. The panel voted 11-3 on April 3 to send the report’s 480-page executive summary, the findings and conclusions to the executive branch for declassification prior to public release.

Asked to comment on the findings, CIA spokesman Dean Boyd said: “Given the report remains classified, we are unable to comment. As we have stated previously, the CIA, in consultation with other agencies, will carry out an expeditious classification review of those portions of the final SSCI report submitted to the executive branch for review.”

Friday, April 11, 2014

LAPD officers tampered with in-car recording equipment, records show

Source: LA Times via Crime Library

An inspection by Los Angeles Police Department investigators found about half of the estimated 80 cars in one South L.A. patrol division were missing antennas, which help capture what officers say in the field. The antennas in at least 10 more cars in nearby divisions had also been removed.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Stanford scientists discover a novel way to make ethanol without corn or other plants

Source: Stanford University

"We have discovered the first metal catalyst that can produce appreciable amounts of ethanol from carbon monoxide at room temperature and pressure – a notoriously difficult electrochemical reaction," said Matthew Kanan, an assistant professor of chemistry at Stanford and coauthor of the Nature study

Democrat Busts Darrell Issa for Behaving Exactly Like Richard Nixon

Source: Politics USA

In an opening statement, Ranking Member Democrat Sander Levin (D-MI) called Darrell Issa (R-CA) out for violating a provision put into place after Nixon used taxpayer information for political purposes. In other words, Issa is doing what he accused Obama of doing.

As Issa tries to get the DOJ to launch a criminal investigation into IRS “whistleblower” Lois Lerner, Levin pointed out that there is no reason for Issa to make public tax information to which the DOJ has access. The only reason for this move is political retribution.
...
"Mr. Chairman.
You have hand selected information that you believe proves your case from the about 700,000 documents provided during this investigation. You have given Members 24 hours to look at it. And, you have not provided them the necessary authority to look at any other documents, beyond what is included in the notebooks, so that members could reach a conclusion on their own."

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Should Soldiers Be Armed At Military Posts?

Source: NPR

For John Lott, Wednesday's mass shooting at Fort Hood was a test of personal beliefs that struck uncomfortably close to home.

His son is serving at Fort Hood and was close enough to the activity to hear shots and screaming.
...
"Even though my son just got back from a tour of duty in Afghanistan, where he had his gun with him all the time, he isn't able to have his gun with him on the base," Lott says. "We somehow don't trust people to carry a gun on base here."

Lott is not alone in this debate. With the third mass shooting at a military facility in five years, some members of Congress want to re-examine the policies that leave soldiers unarmed on base.

One-time hostage of Iranian militants urges denial of visa to new Iran envoy involved in siege

Source: Fox News
...
Iran wants to send Hamid Aboutalebi to New York as its new U.N. ambassador. He may be a 56-year-old veteran diplomat, but it turns out that Aboutalebi was apparently a member of the hard-line Muslim student group that in 1979 took over the U.S. embassy in Tehran for 444 days and held American diplomats hostage.
...
He was 22 years old at the time. Since then, he has served extensively in the foreign service in a variety of high-profile posts. He was Iran’s Ambassador to Australia, Belgium, Italy, and the European Union. He has also been the political director general of the Foreign Ministry.

"For the past 15 years, I have been an ambassador to many Western countries that are very close to the U.S., from Europe to Australia, and have always been dealing with the West," Aboutalebi told the website Khabar Online. "Even in 1994 when I traveled to the US as a member of our country's delegation at the U.N. General Assembly for a while, no questions [about my past] ever come up."

Senate Report Exposes Torture and Misrepresentations By CIA Officials . . . But Recommends No Prosecution

Source: Ron Paul Institute
...
The Senate found a pattern of misinformation knowingly released by the CIA to convince the public that its torture program yielded valuable intelligence — and new forms of torture that have never been previously confirmed. What is most striking however is what is not in the report: a recommendation for criminal prosecution. Indeed, consistent with its past approach to intelligence abuses, the Committee does not recommend any action be taken against a single CIA official.

Afghan Elections for Another Fake Regime

Source: Ron Paul Institute

The largest, most popular party in Afghanistan, Taliban, and its smaller ally, Hisbi-Islami, have been excluded as “terrorists” from the current and past elections. They are boycotting the vote, rightly claiming it will be rigged and run by the western powers and their local collaborators. We see this same pattern of faux democracy across the Mideast.

If an open vote was held today, Taliban would probably win. Americans have no problem it seems working with Afghan Communists, war criminals, and drug kingpins. In fact, under American rule, opium, morphine and heroin production in Afghanistan has surged to all-time record highs. This is called “nation-building.”

Saturday, April 5, 2014

US human rights record chastised in UN report

Source: The Guardian

UN human rights committee raises concerns over torture, drone strikes, the death penalty and NSA data collection

The UN committee also criticised Barack Obama for failing to keep his promise to close Guantánamo Bay.
...
The report was delivered by the UN's human rights committee in an assessment of how the US is complying with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights [ICCPR], which has been in force since the mid 1970s.

Hospitals Don't Trust Google's Servers Enough to Use Glass

Source: Motherboard.vice.com

... the first "systematic evaluation of Google Glass in the healthcare environment,” which were just published in the International Journal of Surgery.
...
The study’s lead author and Glass-wearer, Oliver Muensterer, told me via email that, “We were going to wear them in the OR, and then have the other institution [in Germany] proctor or telementor the person doing so. However, our risk management office didn't allow us to have any connection to the internet while we were taking pictures of patients, and neither did their ethics board.”

But Google Glass’s design means it pretty much has to sync up with the cloud.
....
“We avoided such a breach by temporarily deactivating the internet connection as well as downloading and deleting all patient data from Glass before the automatic synchronization could take place,” study stated.

"Bureaucrats and regulators have not kept up with the pace of technology, so the almost universal answer from institutions is that these activities are not allowed."

... “Recent political events have revealed that government agencies use mass surveillance tactics and have the capability to break into even the most heavily secured networks, including the mobile phones of allied heads of state,” the study stated.

... The Electronic Privacy Information Center's website outlines why this is problematic: “All of the data captured by Glass, including photos, videos, audio, location data, and other sensitive personal information, is stored on Google's cloud servers. Google will possess the data and may analyze it to develop profiles of individuals.”

EPIC points out that this wouldn’t be out of character for Mountain View. “Google currently scans the contents of emails of its Gmail users in order to target advertising, so it is foreseeable that it could do the same with Glass data.”

Friday, April 4, 2014

US secretly created 'Cuban Twitter' to stir unrest and undermine government

Source: The Guardian

USAid started ZunZuneo, a social network built on texts, in hope it could be used to organize 'smart mobs' to trigger Cuban spring.

The program's legality is unclear: US law requires that any covert action by a federal agency must have a presidential authorization. Officials at USAid would not say who had approved the program or whether the White House was aware of it.

USAid spokesman Matt Herrick said the agency is proud of its Cuba programs and noted that congressional investigators reviewed them last year and found them to be consistent with US law.

"USAid is a development agency, not an intelligence agency, and we work all over the world to help people exercise their fundamental rights and freedoms, and give them access to tools to improve their lives and connect with the outside world," he said.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Split the NSA in Two, Says Security Firm Embroiled in NSA Scandal

The moral of this story is don't cooperate with the NSA.

Source: Wired Threat Level

RSA Security CEO, Art Coviello said the NSA’s dual activities — securing systems and breaking them — has undermined trust and made it difficult for companies to know, when working with the spy agency, which side and which agenda may take precedence.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

NSA Blows Its Own Top Secret Program in Order to Propagandize

Source: The Intercept

... As part of its efforts to persuade news organizations not to publish newsworthy stories from Snowden materials, [NSA] representatives constantly say the same thing: If you publish what we’re doing, it will endanger lives, including NSA personnel, by making people angry about what we’re doing in their countries and want to attack us.

But whenever it suits the agency to do so–meaning when it wants to propagandize on its own behalf–the NSA casually discloses even its most top secret activities in the very countries where such retaliation is most likely. Anonymous ex-officials boasted to the Washington Post  in detail about the role the agency plays in helping kill people by drones. The Post dutifully headlined its story: “NSA Growth Fueled by Need to Target Terrorists.”