Wednesday, July 30, 2014

U.S., Europe hit Russia with new sanctions

Source: USA Today

President Obama and the European Union imposed new sanctions on Russia Tuesday that they said will further cripple its economy, hopefully forcing President Vladimir Putin to end his support of armed rebels in Ukraine and to seek peace.

While previous sanctions have focused on specific businesses and individuals, the new set is designed to hit major pillars of the Russian economy, including oil and gas supplies and technology, banking and finance, and arms sales. 
The new sanctions also come as the Obama administration accuses the Russians of violating a 1987 arms control treaty by testing new long-range missiles.

Friday, July 25, 2014

What if our democracy is a fraud?

Source: Washington Times

What if democracy as it has come to exist in America today is dangerous to personal freedom? What if our so-called democracy erodes the people’s understanding of natural rights and the reasons for government and, instead, turns political campaigns into beauty contests? What if American democracy allows the government to do anything it wants, as long as more people bother to show up at the voting booth to support the government than show up to say no?

Mystery Congressional Staffer Edits Wikipedia to Push Conspiracy Theories?

Wikipedia articles have been edited anonymously from the US House of Representatives. This and other articles imply that these edits are being made by one House staffer, but I don't believe it's possible to tell if many staffers are involved.

Source: Mediaite

... tried to claim Cubans were behind the attempt to discredit the Apollo 11 moon landing, but that they also edited posts about the following:

Bohemian Grove
The Freemason temple in Washington DC
“Lizard People” theorist David Icke
Lyndon LaRouche and his staffers
Alex Jones (who may be, according to this staffer, a Russian agent)
RT reporter Abby Martin (who is apparently “not a real journalist”)
The New World Information Communication Order

'Extreme solar storm' could have pulled the plug on Earth

Source: The Guardian

The date of 23 July 2012 could have been the day the lights went out, along with suddenly not-so-smart phones, computers, satellite transmissions, GPS navigation systems, televisions, radio broadcasts, hospital equipment, electric pumps and water supplies.
"If it had hit, we would still be picking up the pieces," said Daniel Baker, of the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics at the University of Colorado. "I have come away from our recent studies more convinced than ever that Earth and its inhabitants were incredibly fortunate that the 2012 eruption happened when it did. If the eruption had occurred only one week earlier, Earth would have been in the line of fire."
"In my view the July 2012 storm was in all respects at least as strong as the 1859 Carrington event," Baker said. "The only difference is, it missed."

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

POLITICO poll: Stay out of Ukraine, Middle East

Source: Politico
... Americans are profoundly wary of getting entangled overseas and seem to be skeptical of the value of projecting U.S. power on foreign conflicts.
In the big picture, two-thirds of respondents agreed with the statement that U.S. military actions should be “limited to direct threats to our national security.” Only 22 percent agreed with the statement that as a “moral leader,” the United States “has a responsibility to use its military to protect democracy around the globe.”
The POLITICO poll, designed by SocialSphere Inc. and conducted by the research firm GfK, tested 834 likely voters in competitive U.S. House and Senate races.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Desist Orders to Drone Pilots Are Bogus, Appeals Court Rules

Source: VICE Motherboard

... Texas Equusearch, a volunteer, nonprofit search-and-rescue ... the FAA sent the organization's drone pilot, Gene Robinson, a cease-and-desist email ... Three judges with the Washington DC Court of Appeals ruled that the FAA's email is a bogus order. 

"The email at issue is not a formal cease-and-desist letter representing the agency's final conclusion that an entity has violated the law," the judges wrote.
the FAA has never formally created any regulations banning the practice. Instead, it has relied on a few "policy statements" that the agency has suggested are legally enforceable in cease-and-desist letters like the one it sent to Texas Equusearch. 

Monday, July 14, 2014

Is the U.S. Fracking Boom a Bubble?

Source: Newsweek ... some wonder how long the shale revolution will last. Energy analysts like Arthur Berman, a Texas-based geologist and energy consultant, and David Hughes, a Canadian geoscientist, have suggested that the shale revolution may be just a bubble. ... ... a shale well has a limited lifespan of around seven or eight years. Its output plummets after the first three years, then deteriorates steadily thereafter. By contrast a conventional oil field produces crude at a level that wanes slowly over the course of decades. Saudi’s massive Ghawar field, for example, began production in 1951 and is still pumping out around 5 million barrels a day. ... Observers like Berman and Hughes believe the U.S. needs to prepare for a time when the shale tide starts to ebb. ...

Sunday, July 13, 2014

The ultimate goal of the NSA is total population control

Source: The Guardian

William Binney is one of the highest-level whistleblowers to ever emerge from the NSA. 
On 5 July he spoke at a conference in London organised by the Centre for Investigative Journalism and revealed the extent of the surveillance programs unleashed by the Bush and Obama administrations.
“At least 80% of fibre-optic cables globally go via the US”, Binney said. “This is no accident and allows the US to view all communication coming in. At least 80% of all audio calls, not just metadata, are recorded and stored in the US. The NSA lies about what it stores.”
“The ultimate goal of the NSA is total population control”, Binney said, “but I’m a little optimistic with some recent Supreme Court decisions, such as law enforcement mostly now needing a warrant before searching a smartphone.”

Maher Blasts ‘Useless Obama Hacks without a Shred of Intellectual Honesty’

Source: Mediaite

Bill Maher went after the left over NSA spying on Friday night; specifically, liberals who have refused to criticize surveillance under President Obama as opposed to, you know, when George Bush did it. Maher said, “If this was happening under Bush, liberals would be apoplectic. I’m sorry, but liberals are just sometimes useless Obama hacks without a shred of intellectual honesty.”

Congresswoman Donna Edwards jumped in to make clear she’s very apoplectic, saying Congress needs to set more limits on the NSA’s dragnet and arguing for more privacy advocates who can take on the government in the name of individual liberties.

Ron Suskind added that for years, the government kept sneering at critics and asking where their proof is, and so the one great thing Snowden did was provide the proof.

Watch the video.

Drivers Get Screwed Over Constantly in America

Source: VICE

... fundamentally corrupt traffic enforcement regimes across the US ... threaten the privacy of virtually every driver on the road. Most anyone with even limited driving experience can attest, with at least a half-dozen personal anecdotes, to the absurdity of police traffic enforcement tactics. This perception of unfairness ultimately feeds into the broad-based cynicism toward and alienation from government that modern (especially young) Americans frequently exhibit.
Traffic stops may generally be initiated for any reason at any time, regardless of whether the suspect has committed any ticketable moving violations.
... for many, penalties incurred for vehicular offenses have a ruinous financial impact. Aggressive traffic enforcement tactics inevitably bear down disparately on the poor and marginal ...
As municipalities across the country struggle with continual budget shortfalls, jacking up fines is a tempting way for local officials plug the gaps.

Friday, July 11, 2014

But wait — there’s more! The NSA scandal goes even deeper says Edward Snowden


We now know that the government has failed effectively to refute the Snowden claims that it has collected and maintained for future access massive amounts of personal materials about nearly all people in America since 2009. This includes the metadata and content of nearly every telephone call, email and text message made, sent or received in the U.S., as well as nearly every credit-card bill, utility bill and monthly bank statement of nearly every person in the U.S.

This was accomplished through the issuance of general warrants by FISA court judges. General warrants do not particularly describe the place to be searched or the person or thing to be seized as the Constitution requires. General warrants authorize the bearer to use the power of government to search wherever he wishes. The use by British troops of general warrants was a principal motivation for the American Revolution, and the very purpose and literal wording of the Fourth Amendment was to outlaw and prohibit them.
How could that happen? It happened because the FISA court meets in secret, where the NSA has no opposition and the court has no transparency. This volatile mix has resulted in that court’s granting well over 99 percent of NSA applications, including the “hop” rule implicated in the scrutiny of innocent Americans. In NSA-speak, a hop is a jump from one telephone conversation to another using a common phone.

UK rushes law to retain telephone and Internet records

Source: AL Jazeera

Cameron said that without the emergency law, it would be harder to defend against pedophiles, gangsters and terrorists.
The European Court of Justice ruled in April that a European Union directive requiring companies to store communications data for up to two years was too broad and a threat to privacy rights.
Prime Minister David Cameron said Thursday that without the emergency law governments would be less able to protect the country from pedophiles, gangsters and terrorists.
"Sometimes, in the dangerous world in which we live, we need our security services to listen to someone's phone and read their emails to identify and disrupt a terrorist plot," Cameron told reporters. "As prime minister, I know of examples where doing this has stopped a terrorist attack."
The European court was concerned about the lack of restrictions on how, why and when the metadata could be used. It asked for a directive with more specificity on what type of crimes could be covered and how long the material would be retained.
Shami Chakrabarti, director of the human rights organization Liberty, expressed doubt that there was really critical need for Cameron's measures now.

"We are told this is a pedophile and jihadi 'emergency', but the court judgment they seek to ignore was handed down over three months ago and this isn't snooping on suspects but on everyone," she said. "We are promised greater scrutiny and debate but not until 2016, as it seems that all three party leaders have done a deal in private. No privacy for us and no scrutiny for them."

US drone flights hit technical & military turbulence

Source: Russia Today

Presently, air traffic controllers, who guide hundreds of aircraft across US airspace each day, are not equipped to work with unmanned aircraft. At the same, no standards have been put in place to train ‘pilots’ of the vehicles. 
The FAA forecasts there will be around 7,500 active Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) hovering above US skies in five years, with over $89 billion invested in drone technologies worldwide over the next decade. Drones range from radio-controlled model airplanes to those with the wingspan of a commercial airliner. 

Marine Corps tests massive new amphibious assault vehicle

Source: Russia Today

​The Marine Corps is testing a new amphibious landing vehicle which dwarfs its current hydrofoil lander and will be able to land multiple battle tanks at once.

The UHAC looks to be significantly different ... huge runners made up of low pressure captive air cells contained within foam casings. ... should also be able to move across difficult terrains, including marshes, mud flats, and even sea walls up to 10 feet high. ... speed to 20 knots –

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Dennis Kucinich on America's Dangerous, Anti-Democratic Path

Source: Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity

What has happened is that under the guise of security, our government has annihilated each individual American's sphere of privacy. I warned of this when, as a member of Congress, I led opposition to the Patriot Act as well as opposing FISA legislation.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

It is time for the Supreme Court to STFU

Regarding the Hobby Lobby case, federal Judge Richard George Kopf told the five male Catholic Supreme Court Justices to STFU.

Source: Hercules and the umpire via Disinformation

... The decision looks misogynistic because the majority were all men. It looks partisan because all were appointed by a Republican. The decision looks religiously motivated because each member of the majority belongs to the Catholic church, and that religious organization is opposed to contraception.

... this term and several past terms have proven that the Court is now causing more harm (division) to our democracy than good by deciding hot button cases that the Court has the power to avoid. As the kids say, it is time for the Court to stfu.***

The NSA Is Targeting Users of Privacy Services, Leaked Code Shows

Source: Wired Threat Level

If you use Tor or any of a number of other privacy services online or even visit their web sites to read about the services, there’s a good chance your IP address has been collected and stored by the NSA, according to top-secret source code for a program the NSA uses to conduct internet surveillance.

There’s also a good chance you’ve been tagged for simply reading news articles about these services published by Wired and other sites.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

In NSA-intercepted data, those not targeted far outnumber the foreigners who are

Source: Washington Post via Glenn Greenwald

Ordinary Internet users, American and non-American alike, far outnumber legally targeted foreigners in the communications intercepted by the National Security Agency from U.S. digital networks, according to a four-month investigation by The Washington Post.
Nine of 10 account holders found in a large cache of intercepted conversations, which former NSA contractor Edward Snowden provided in full to The Post, were not the intended surveillance targets but were caught in a net the agency had cast for somebody else.
Many of them were Americans. Nearly half of the surveillance files, a strikingly high proportion, contained names, e-mail addresses or other details that the NSA marked as belonging to U.S. citizens or residents. 
The surveillance files highlight a policy dilemma that has been aired only abstractly in public.
Many other files, described as useless by the analysts but nonetheless retained, have a startlingly intimate, even voyeuristic quality. 
The cache Snowden provided came from domestic NSA operations under the broad authority granted by Congress in 2008 with amendments to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Controversial US scientist creates deadly new flu strain for pandemic research

Source: The Independent

Yoshihiro Kawaoka of the University of Wisconsin-Madison has genetically manipulated the 2009 strain of pandemic flu in order for it to “escape” the control of the immune system’s neutralising antibodies, effectively making the human population defenceless against its reemergence.