Bradley Manning denies 12 charges, “aiding the enemy.”


(ArsTechnica) – Private Bradley Manning has admitted he was the source of the massive stores of confidential information handed off to WikiLeaks, and he pleaded guilty to 10 charges including “possessing and wilfully communicating” all the sensitive information posted on WikiLeaks.

Manning denied 12 other charges, though, including the biggest one of all: “aiding the enemy.” He faces a life sentence if convicted on that count.

Manning will read out a 35-page statement later today describing why he leaked the information, according to The Guardian reporter Ed Pilkington. In another remarkable tweet from this morning, Pilkington reports that Manning actually tried to give his stores of information to The Washington Post and The New York Times but “failed to get through to them,” so he went to WikiLeaks.

Manning’s case now speeds toward a June 3 court-martial, which military judge Colonel Denise Lind has estimated could take 12 weeks. Col. Lind will hear the case herself; there will be no jury at Manning’s request. Manning has already been imprisoned for more than 1,000 days without a trial, a milestone that was marked by his supporters earlier this week.

As The Guardian notes, the information leaked by Manning included video of an Apache helicopter attack in Iraq, a large leak of US diplomatic cables, files on Guantanamo detainees, and a huge chunk of confidential “war logs” from Iraq and Afghanistan.

Michigan and Utah aim to strengthen and expand 2nd amendment gun rights


(CAV News) Michigan – Perhaps you live in a state (New York, California) that has proposed legislation that would weaken, possibly eliminate the rights of gun ownership or make life even more difficult by introducing laws that would add restrictions to gun ownership. In Michigan, the state is looking to do the exact opposite.

Preserving the sacred right of bearing arms is the target for lawmakers in Michigan.

                                        Detroit Free Press

• Exempt the state from federal gun regulations for weapons made in Michigan. Another bill would exempt Michigan entirely from “unconstitutional” federal firearms legislation.

• Allow anyone to carry a gun in a school. Another bill would allow school employees to carry weapons into schools.

• Exempt firearms registration and license information from the Freedom of Information Act.

• Eliminate firearms licensing databases in certain circumstances and prohibit firearms dealers from taking pictures of people who are buying and getting licensed for guns.

• Shift the responsibility for issuing concealed weapons permits from counties to the Michigan State Police.

• Include libraries in the facilities that can choose to be a gun-free zone, where people could not carry concealed weapons into the building.

Wyoming and Montana are other states that come to mind when it comes to protecting the right to  bear arms and the protection against a tyrant government, such as the one that is forming in front of  our very own eyes as I write this.

Utah is also joining the fold, and a lawmaker is proposing similar legislation threatening to arrest any gun grabbers from the Federal government.

                                                         Salt Lake Tribune

There are 22 states attempting to pass a variation on what Greene pitched with HB114. His measure would give local police authority to arrest federal agents attempting to take guns away from residents. It also would require the attorney general to provide a legal defense for federal agents who were caught up in an attempt to take firearms — a felony under Greene’s proposal. The legal analysis on HB114 — titled “Second Amendment Protection Act” — is that it would be in violation of the supremacy and commerce clauses of the Constitution.

The more states speak out, the more sheriffs and other local law enforcement officials speak out, this will put the Obama administration in a tough situation to enforce any gun grabbing legislation.

By: Derek Wood

Sources: Salt Lake Tribune, Detroit Free Press




Democrat pushing tax increase calls it “a gift that keeps on giving.”


(CAV News) New Hampshire – If there is one gift that does “keep on giving,” it would be the money that taxpayers entrust into the hands of the public servants.

When trying to sell a tax increase plan (which is selling snow to the New England region, don’t want it) you should probably leave out cute little humor bits such as “a gift that keeps on giving,” and lay off your past time rhetoric, because nobody cares if your daddy or your favorite uncle said “Don’t spend it all in one place.”

Heed this advice Democrat and New Hampshire representative, David Campbell.

Campbell sent out an email to key Democrats in the House Finance Committee  earlier this week, selling his big government panhandling plan. The plan: Raise the gas tax 15 cents per gallon. The plan: it would fix state roads and highways. The irony: why haven’t the gas taxes done so thus far?

As of January, New Hampshire residents when compared to the national average and neighboring states, actually pay less gas tax. According to, New Hampshire pays 38.0 cents per gallon. Compare that to the broke state of Maine (49.8) and taxationland of Massachusetts (nearly 42 cents per gallon).

The national average is 48 cents per gallon and I’m sure that residents would like to stay below that number and not hover above, Campbell.

Moreover, Campbell is trying to sell the public that this bill would pay for the roads and highways while this tax would increase the amount they would pay at the pumps, and once in place, the price of gas would be near or over $4 per gallon.

However, Campbell in his letter said that the bill would also fund other projects and agencies.

Of course, you see this is why it is the gift that keeps on giving. Like a true politician, who sells you the idea of what this tax would pay for, he leaves out what other purposes he would like to pay for with your money.

Union Leader

When his proposed four-step gas tax hike is fully phased in, Campbell wrote, it will generate $1.25 million annually for the Fish and Game Department, $658,000 annually for the general fund and $593,000 annually for the Department of Resources and Economic Development’s Bureau of Trails.

Silly politician, don’t you know that political emails are for everyone? Nothing is safe and private anymore, sir.

To nobody’s surprise, Republicans and one would think, New Hampshire, oppose this bill.


By: Derek Wood

Sources:, gas buddy, and Union Leader

US, EU may start training and equipping Syrian rebels


(RT)-The US and Europe may begin equipping the rebel Free Syrian Army (FSA) with vehicles, body armor, night vision gear and binoculars, as well as military training. The decision is expected after a key conference on Syria in Rome.

Until now, Western countries’ official support to the forces fighting against Syrian President Bashar Assad was limited to direct contact, logistical assistance and political backing.


Several top figures in the Obama administration, including former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and former CIA chief David Petraeus pushed for closer engagement with the Syrian rebels last year, which would likely include arming them.


The White House rejected the plan at the time, fearing that the arms would end up in the hands of Islamist forces like the Nursa Front group, which the US considers a terrorist organization. US officials said it was too difficult to fully vet the recipients of the proposed deliveries; that policy has now apparently changed.


The pending shift was hinted at on several occasions as new US Secretary of State John Kerry toured Europe recently. He pledged not to leave the Syrian opposition “dangling in the wind,” after meeting British Prime Minister David Cameron and Foreign Secretary William Hague. The new US policy will likely be voiced after an international conference of the ‘Friends of Syria’ in Rome on Thursday.


A delegation from the exiled Syrian National Coalition will be attending the Rome conference, despite earlier threats to boycott it. The group reversed course and agreed to attend after a series of phone calls to the coalition leader Mouaz Khatib from top US officials.


European advocates said the Free Syrian Army should be provided with large supplies of munitions, including military vehicles, body armor and night vision goggles, as well as tactical and strategic training. This position is privately supported by Britain, France, Germany and Italy, a European official told the Washington Post on condition of anonymity.


London and Paris have pushed to lift an EU embargo on arms trades to Syria. However, the ban was prolonged until at least May, as some nations in the 27-member union have refused to lift it.


British Foreign Secretary William Hague (R) and US Secretary of State John Kerry (L). (AFP Photo / Ben Stansall)

British Foreign Secretary William Hague (R) and US Secretary of State John Kerry (L). (AFP Photo / Ben Stansall)



The US appears more skeptical, and is reluctant to include body armor and training in the package, Washington sources told AP, though it would not oppose its European allies on the matter, sources said.


When asked Tuesday about the prospects for expanding US military support for the rebels, Kerry said he would not speculate on the outcome of the meeting with opposition leaders.


“We’re going to Rome to bring a group of nations together precisely to talk about this problem,” Kerry said. “I don’t want to get ahead of that meeting or ability to begin to think about exactly what will be a part of it.”


The Syrian opposition relies on arms smugglers from Turkey and Jordan, and raids on Syrian army depots, for weapons and ammunition; rebel groups with better financial standing and more ruthlessness end up with the best equipment. Most of the arms funneled to Syria went to hardline Islamists, according to a US assessment cited by the New York Time last October.


The Nusra Front, which is estimated to have some 5,000 fighters operating in Syria in small semi-independent groups, has to a large degree sidelined the relatively moderate Free Syrian Army. The groups remain at odds not only with the Assad government in Damascus, but also with each other, holding different visions for the future of Syria.


In an effort to boost the FSA and undermine the Nursa Front, Washington had Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries deliver arms to the FSA from Croatia, according to the New York Times. Rebels said that the shipment included anti-aircraft and armor-piercing weapons, mortars and rocket launchers.

Illegal immigrants being released from prison to save money on the eve of sequester


(RT)-Illegal immigrants are being released from US detention facilities ahead of looming federal budget cuts that would slash funding for the removal and detention of illegal aliens.

In an attempt to save money ahead of the automatic budget cuts, which are scheduled to take effect Friday, the detainees are being released in the US – even though they are facing the prospect of deportation.


For several days, Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has been opening their doors, sending off “low priority” detainees with little more than ankle bracelets and parole.


“All I can say is look, we’re doing our very best to minimize the impacts of sequester,” Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said in a press briefing Monday. “But there’s only so much I can do. I’m supposed to have 34,000 detention beds for immigration. How do I pay for those?”


The average daily cost of detaining an immigrant is $122 to $164 per detainee, the American Civil Liberties Union reports. In 2011, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) detained 429,000 immigrants, which is more than twice as much as the 202,000 that were detained in 2002. The National Immigration Forum estimates that it would cost the federal government only 30 cents to $14 per day to monitor a detainee on supervised release.


Illegal immigrants are often kept in prison-like conditions, with many of them reporting poor sanitation conditions, lack of medical services, and abusive treatment by detention personnel. Still, the government shovels out billions of dollars each year to house inmates using its 34,000 beds – money that could be saved if less immigrants were kept behind bars.


Earlier this month, DHS proposed a $5.65 billion budget for ICE. But the sequester has forced the agency to find alternate ways to keep track of illegals.


“In order to make the best use of our limited detention resources in the current fiscal climate and to manage our detention population under current congressionally mandated levels, ICE has directed field offices to review the detained population to ensure it is in line with available funding,” ICE spokeswoman Gillian Christensen said in a statement.


Christensen also confirmed that illegal immigrations are continuing to be deported at record levels and that cases against them will continue, even if they have been temporarily released. ICE claims that the Obama administration has expelled more immigrants than ever before and that the release of low-priority immigrants will only allow the agency to better focus on high-level offenders.


While advocacy groups largely applauded the decision to release low-priority illegal immigrants, they also expressed disappointment in the fact that it took looming budget cuts to force ICE to do so.


“The people being released today are people ICE could have released months – or in some cases, years – ago,” Mohammad Abdollahi, member of the Dreamer-led National Immigrant Youth Alliance, told the Huffington Post.


“It shouldn’t take a manufactured crisis in Washington to prompt our immigration agencies to actually take steps towards using government resources wisely or keeping families together,” Carolina Canizales of United We Dream told the New York Times.


But some opponents of the administration’s initiatives have condemned ICE for releasing illegal immigrants, concerned that the move is a political one made in support of letting more immigrants stay in the country.


One Republican aide who reviewed the DHS budget told the Washington Times than only about 5 percent of the ICE budget would be cut by the sequester and that savings could come from a cut in maintenance funds instead of releasing detainees.

“It is ludicrous for the administration to assert that the immediate release of thousands of already-apprehended illegal aliens and fugitives is the way to meet this target,” the aide said. “Clearly this is a political decision – not a financial one.”

EU-US trade deal: creating a new world order


(Euriactive)-The world order has changed in the course of the financial crisis and with it, enhanced the consolidation of a new arena of world politics in which superpowers somewhat urgently seem to hunt for new allies to rescue their well-being, says Gabriele Suder.

Gabriele Suder is Jean Monnet chair and professor of International & European Business at Skema Business School.

“Globalisation is out, regionalism is in! One could argue that we might need to thank the lasting economic crisis for at least a few sweeping developments on the global level: Amongst them, the awareness that the world is in no way as ‘flat’ as some contemporary thinkers made many believe.

Because resolution of crises may primarily originate from bi-and multilateral, often region-to-region forms of cooperation and free trade conditions that governments (and corporations) hope will stimulate economies.

For the past three years and more, we have seen an exceptionally dynamic trend towards more and more free trade negotiations and agreements. They install a political and economic multi-polarity already predicted ten years ago, right after 9/11.

Yet it is the financial crisis that has caused the main changes to the world arena that used to be perceived as an international order run by a few somewhat fading superpowers.

The world order has changed in the course of this crisis however and with it, enhanced the consolidation of a new arena of world politics in which superpowers somewhat urgently seem to hunt for new allies to rescue their well-being.

Driven by political and economic motivations, they are weaving a net of trade agreements. This net is increasingly perceived as a competitive race for political and economic first-mover advantages (intensified political cooperation; market access for trade and investment) that come with signing the best, most comprehensive or earliest agreement.

This is part of today’s driving force of geopolitical and geo-economic change. Hadn’t we already seen this ever so clearly in the race towards trade agreements with South Korea?

Now, after many long years of hesitation, both the EU and the USA have come to realise that their system of regionalising the world will work even better (they hope) if they themselves, mutually and reciprocally, open trade and unite forces further.

Spill-overs from trade agreements for sure stimulate business knowledge, cross-border trade and growth: an anti-dote for crisis. But close attention needs to be given to this multi-polarity. It goes hand-in-hand with a complexity that may cause rather tricky legal and economic overlaps.

Business may lose clarity and claim over-regulation through multiple deregulation (as ambiguous as this may appear) and, discouraged, won’t follow suit in the long term. The newer players of global governance could then start a power game of inclusion and exclusion of powers in future formal and informal integration.

In this context, Europe, against all odds, remains the most advanced form of regional integration in the world, with a vast historical and contemporary experience of good and bad practices.

This is good news in the crucial struggle for appropriate solutions for its on-going crisis (mainly caused by the divergence of opinions of its members in regard to the depth of integration).

The EU construct continues to serve as a model to many less stable regions in the world, for peace-keeping, outreach and neighbourhood policies – and thus, for the management of complexity.

With the European belief in economic and political integration, and the US focus on reclaiming global economic status, this free trade agreement has huge potential. It might, in itself, open yet another chapter of polarity in the future.”

Human Hormones Are Being Eclipsed By Synthetic Chemicals



by Sayer Ji

(Activist Post and Green Med Info) -A new study published in the Journal of Applied Toxicology has raised some disturbing possibilities regarding the dangers of common hormone-mimicking preservatives found in thousands of consumer products on the market today. [1]

Titled “Parabens detection in different zones of the human breast: consideration of source and implications of findings,” researchers discussed the role that parabens — a class of estrogen-mimicking chemicals widely used in drugs, foods and cosmetics — may have in breast cancer and childhood disease.

The report focused on the findings of The Genesis Breast Cancer Prevention Centre at the University Hospital of South Manchester NHS Foundation Trust published last month (March, 2012), which discovered five paraben esters in human breast tissue samples collected from 40 mastectomies from women with primary breast cancer. [2] The report revealed three things:

1) The ester form of parabens found within the breast tissue samples indicated a dermal route of exposure, as would occur through skin care products and underarm deodorants.

2) The paraben residues were found at concentrations up to 1 million times higher than the estrogen (estradiol) levels naturally found in human breast tissue.

3) Propylparaben was found in the highest concentration in the underarm area (axilla), where underarm deodorants are most used and breast cancer prevalence is at its highest.

While the World Health Organization considers the estrogenic properties of parabens to be a low toxicological risk due to it being 10,000-100,000 less potent than estradiol (E2), the 1 million-fold higher levels found within breast tissue sampled clearly indicate the magnitude of exposure more than compensates for the reduction in potency.

Also noted in the new study was a highly disturbing possibility: “For exposures in children, concern has already been raised that ‘the estrogenic burden’ of parabens and their metabolites in blood may exceed the action of endogenous estradiol in childhood and the safety margin for propylparaben is very low when comparing worst-case exposure’ (Boberg et al., 2010).”

In other words, synthetic hormones from chemicals like parabens may actually be eclipsing the activity of endogenously produced (natural) hormones in our children. Given that 99.1% of the US population’s urine samples (ages 6 or older) contain methylparaben, this issue has broad-ranging implications.

Presently, European regulations allow for the use of parabens in cosmetics at up to 0.4% by volume. The limits in the US are much less restricted. According to the FDA’s website: “The Cosmetic Ingredient Review (CIR) reviewed the safety of methylparaben, propylparaben, and butylparaben in 1984 and concluded they were safe for use in cosmetic products at levels up to 25%. Typically parabens are used at levels ranging from 0.01 to 0.3%.” Parabens are also FDA-approved for use as food preservatives.

Given the fact that modern-day toxicological risk assessments do not account for the adverse effects of chronic, low-dose exposures, nor the reality of synergistic toxicities, i.e. the reality that a chemical’s adverse effects may be amplified when present alongside other chemicals, this new research points to a disturbing possibility: commonly used preservatives may be contributing greatly to the burden of disease in exposed populations — especially infants and children, whose body burden is higher (lower body weight vs. chemical), susceptibility to chemically-induced genotoxicity higher (because their cells replicate more rapidly), and detoxification systems are less developed than adults.

It is becoming increasingly clear that in order to protect ourselves and especially our offspring from avoidable chemical exposures this country needs to implement the precautionary principle in its toxicological risk assessments: if there is indication that a chemical could do harm (based on cell and animal studies), it should be treated as if it actually does harm, and be regulated accordingly. Until then, we are effectively a living and breathing nation of guinea pigs.

For additional research on paraben toxicity visit our research page on the topic.

Notes: [1] Measurement of paraben concentrations in human breast tissue at serial locations across the breast from axilla to sternum. J Appl Toxicol. 2012 Mar ;32(3):219-32. Epub 2012 Jan 12. PMID:22237600 [2] Parabens detection in different zones of the human breast: consideration of source and implications of findings. J Appl Toxicol. 2012 May ;32(5):305-9. Epub 2012 Mar 7. PMID: 22408000

60 Lab Studies Now Confirm Cancer Link To A Vaccine You Probably Had As A Child


Dr. Maurice Hilleman made astounding revelations in an interview that was cut from The Health Century — the admission that Merck drug company vaccines had been injecting dangerous viruses into people worldwide.

Bear in mind that Dr. Hilleman was the developer of Merck’s vaccine program. He developed over three dozen vaccines, more than any other scientist in history. He was a member of the U.S. National Academy of Science, the Institute of Medicine, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the American Philosophical Society. Continue reading

SHOCKER: Big brother is forcing citizens to pay fines to fund DHS.


(MassPrivatel) -Nashville, TN – State lawmakers thought a 2011 bill allowing revocation of driver’s licenses for deadbeats who failed to pay criminal fines and court costs would reap millions in reinstatement fees.

A 2011 bill gave the Tennessee government the ability to revoke the license of anyone in the state who did not pay criminal fines and court costs. Lawmakers originally hoped the law would bring millions of dollars in reinstatement fees, money which would be directed to the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security. Only nine counties are complying with the law by notifying the state of violators, and so far the state had collected just $22,425.
Bill Gibbons, the Safety and Homeland Security Commissioner sent a letter to clerks in all ninety-five counties reminding them of the law earlier this month.

The Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security is asking for $7.6 million to boost its budget after a plan to raise the money thorough driver’s license fees fell far short of expectations.
A 2011 bill gave the state the ability to revoke the license of anyone in the state who did not pay criminal fines and court costs. Lawmakers originally thought the law would bring millions of dollars in reinstatement fees, but according to the Chattanooga Times only nine counties are complying with the law by notifying the state of violators. So far the state had collected just $22,425.
The legislation was proposed by Metro Nashville’s Criminal Court clerk’s office. In 2009 statistics showed The Timesnews reports that 328,000 residents committed a criminal offense which put them under the revocation proposal, and 75 percent did not pay their fines.
Statistics also estimated 25 percent of those residents would seek to reinstate their license. According to projections by legislative analysts, the bill would inject $6.1 million for the state and $6.4 million for local governments.
The shortfall has left a gaping hole in the department’s budget, Safety and Homeland Security Commissioner Bill Gibbons said last week.
“The department is requesting $7.6 million in supplemental funding for the current fiscal year in order to correct the overestimate of driver’s license reinstatement fees,” Gibbons told Senate Transportation Committee members.
The law requires county court clerks to notify the state of scofflaws who’ve gone at least a year without paying anything toward fines and costs. The department then revokes their licenses until they start to pay up.
Tennessee charges $65 for each license reinstatement plus an additional fee for the license.
Hamilton County Criminal Court Clerk Gwen Tidwell is among those participating. So are clerks in the three other largest counties — Davidson, Knox and Shelby.
A number of counties are “working on methods to provide notices electronically” to the state, Gibbons said.
This month, the commissioner fired off a letter to clerks in all 95 counties reminding them of the law. Part of Gov. Bill Haslam’s “public safety action plans,” the letter points out, calls for improving collections of fines and fees in criminal cases “as a way of holding convicted offenders accountable and increasing payment owed” to the state and counties.
Tidwell said she has one staffer doing the work to comply with the law, which she calls “a hassle.” “We have to fill out paperwork and then mail it in to them,” Tidwell said.
But in the last 30 days or so, she said, the Safety Department has set up a system so clerks can report electronically.
At the time the 2011 law passed, some lawmakers complained that it would be difficult to get many people to pay because the Legislature in recent years has increased fees and fines as an alternative to raising taxes.
The legislation was brought by Metro Nashville’s Criminal Court clerk’s office. The fiscal note accompanying the bill says that in 2009, 328,000 people had committed a criminal offense that put them under the driver’s license revocation proposal.
Of those, 75 percent, or 246,000, didn’t pay their fines. The fiscal note estimated that 25 percent, or 61,650, scofflaws would seek to reinstate their licenses. Legislative analysts projected the reinstatement fees would generate $4 million for the state, plus $900,000 or so from driver’s license fees. Average litigation taxes run about $500, with 16 percent going to state government. That would generate another $1.23 million. The total projected take was $6.1 million for the state and $6.4 million for local governments.

Binary Asteroid Didymos heading our way, but they’re going to intercept it!


(Investment Watch Blog) -A joint mission between Europe and the US is working on a project to slam a spacecraft into an asteroid in 2022, in a bid to prove that incoming objects from space can be knocked off path and stopped from colliding with earth.

The Joint European/US Asteroid impact and Deflection Assessment mission (AIDA) is preparing to intercept the asteroid Didymos in 2022, when it is about 6.5 million miles (11 million kilometers) from earth.


European Space Agency (ESA) Officials announced the plans in a press release on Friday.


“AIDA is not just an asteroid mission, it is also meant as a research platform open to all different mission users,” said Andrés Gálvez, ESA studies manager.

ESA’s proposed Asteroid Impact and Deflection Assessment mission now has a target: asteroid Didymos.

The recent Russian meteor and, on the same day, our planet’s close encounter with an even larger chunk of celestial debris underline the need for us to learn more about these high-speed space rocks.

Researchers say Stuxnet was deployed against Iran in 2007


Iranian soldiers stand guard on an anti-aircraft machine gun inside the Natanz uranium enrichment facility, 322km (200 miles) south of Iran's capital Tehran March 9, 2006. REUTERS/Raheb


SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – Researchers at Symantec Corp have uncovered a version of the Stuxnet computer virus that was used to attack Iran’s nuclear program in November 2007, two years earlier than previously thought.

Stuxnet, which is widely believed to have been developed by the United States and Israel, was discovered in 2010 after it was used to attack a uranium enrichment facility at Natanz, Iran. It was the first publicly known example of a virus being used to attack industrial machinery.

Symantec researchers said on Tuesday they have uncovered a piece of code, which they called “Stuxnet 0.5,” among the thousands of versions of the virus they recovered from infected machines.

They found evidence Stuxnet 0.5 was in development as early as 2005, when Iran was still setting up its uranium enrichment facility, and the virus was deployed in 2007, the same year the Natanz facility went online.

“It is really mind blowing that they were thinking about creating a project like that in 2005,” Symantec researcher Liam O’Murchu told Reuters.

Security experts who reviewed Symantec’s 18-page report on Stuxnet 0.5 said it showed the cyber weapon was already powerful enough to cripple output at Natanz as far back as six years ago.

“This attack could have damaged many centrifuges without destroying so many that the plant operator would have become suspicious,” said a report by the Institute for Science and International Security, which is led by former United Nations weapons inspector David Albright and closely monitors Iran’s nuclear program.


Although it is unclear what damage Stuxnet 0.5 might have caused, Symantec said it was designed to attack the Natanz facility by opening and closing valves that feed uranium hexafluoride gas into centrifuges, without the knowledge of the operators of the facility.

Previously dissected versions of Stuxnet are all believed to have been used to sabotage the enrichment process by changing the speeds of those gas-spinning centrifuges without the knowledge of their operators.

“The report provides even more concrete evidence that the United States has been activity trying to derail the Iranian nuclear program since it was restarted under President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s reign,” said John Bumgarner, an expert on cyber weapons who works as chief technology officer with the U.S. Cyber Consequences Unit.

The Natanz facility has been the subject of intense scrutiny by the United States, Israel and allies, who charge that Iran is trying to build a nuclear bomb.

The United States began building a complex cyber weapon during the George W. Bush administration to prevent Tehran from acquiring nuclear weapons, U.S. officials familiar with the program have told Reuters. The government has declined to comment on the reports and has launched investigations into leaks on its cyber programs.

Since Stuxnet’s discovery in 2010, security researchers have uncovered a handful of other sophisticated pieces of computer code they believe were developed in tandem to engage in espionage and warfare. These include Flame, Duqu and Gauss.

Stuxnet 0.5 was written using much of the same code as Flame, according to Symantec’s report, which was published at the RSA security conference in San Francisco, an event attended by more than 20,000 security professionals.

Symantec said it has now uncovered four versions of Stuxnet and there are likely others that have not been discovered yet. Researchers at Symantec and elsewhere are still trying to understand the full extent of the virus’s capabilities.

“This fills in some of the gaps,” said O’Murchu.

He said the researchers found no evidence to prove who was behind Stuxnet.

Later versions of Stuxnet, which manipulates industrial control software known as Step 7 from Siemens AG, used more sophisticated methods to infect computer systems, he said.

Siemens previously said it plugged the security holes that allowed Stuxnet to breach its software. A company spokesman had no immediate comment on Symantec’s latest research.

School allows student to wear his anti-gay shirt


(CAV News) Connecticut- The 17-year-old student Seth Groody, who wore a T-shirt that opposed homosexuality, will be allowed by the Wolcott public school system to wear shirts in the future expressing his views.

School officials today confirmed that they recognize the students freedom of speech (of course that is when a powerful organization lends its muscle in his defense) and freedom of expression.

The ACLU notified the school last year, after learning that the school forced Groody to remove his shirt or face expulsion.

His shirt had a slash going through a rainbow, which Groody designed himself. On the back of his shirt was a man and woman holding hands with the text, “Excessive Speech Day.”

He chose to wear the shirt on the day the school was holding the “Day Of Silence” event, which is held to bring awareness around the nation on bullying people because of their sexual orientation or preference.

The ACLU said the school violated his constitutional rights of freedom of speech and expression.

The school avoided court action by assuring the organization that it would allow the student to wear shirts expressing his opinion and views in the future.

Source: Hartford Courant

Written by: Derek Wood

Citizens Awareness Vanguard on Facebook:


Maine lawmaker on domestic drones: “If I saw one of those things flying over my house I’d shoot it down.”


(CAV News) – Add Maine to the list of states debating the use of domestic drones and the concerns that “fly with it.”

As reported on our page nearly a month ago, the ACLU and other Maine lawmakers are at least trying to get out and ahead to protect Maine residents against the technology and its invasive capabilities.

Senator and Democrat John Patrick is proposing bill that would place restrictions on the use of domestic drones.

According to Rob Poindexter of WABI TV 5, Patrick’s bill would:

* Regulates unmanned aerial vehicles, including their acquisition and lawful operation by law enforcement agencies in collecting, disclosing and receiving information and the retention of information collected.

* For the permitted operation of an unmanned aerial vehicle, the bill requires the consent of the subject person, a warrant or court order, an emergency situation that threatens life or serious bodily injury or an emergency enforcement situation that threatens national security or convinces conspiratorial criminal conduct requiring immediate operation of the vehicle before a warrant can be obtained.

* The bill also allows delayed service of a warrant or court order informing the subject person until after the warrant’s or order’s issuance if necessary for avoiding certain adverse results.

*The bill provides for a private right of action or enforcement by the Attorney General for a violation and disallows the use of any information collected in violation as evidence in a hearing or court of law.

* The bill requires the Attorney General to report certain information concerning the use of unmanned aerial vehicles to the Legislature and the Administrative Office of the Courts and for law enforcement agencies and the Attorney General to post certain information on their publicly accessible websites.

Maine’s branch of the ACLU supports Patrick’s bill.

Other attending the hearing weren’t fond of the idea of these Orwellian devices flying around all so freely.

“If I saw one of those things flying over my house I’d shoot it down,” said Representative Wayne Mitchell.

Those comments were similar to those made by Judge Andrew Napolitano when he said, “The first American patriot that shoots down one of these  drones that comes too close to his children in his backyard will be an American hero.”

Other states such as Virginia and Washington got the ball rolling for other states in the union to take a close look at the intrusive use of UAV’s.

Washington, is in the early stages of tough drone laws.

Virginia, placed a two-year moratorium on the use of drones and Charlottesville Virginia become the first city in the union to pass anti drone legislation.

Texas and Minnesota are also working on their drone legislation to assure citizens of their privacy and protect them against unreasonable searches or seizures.

For the story on Maine’s hearing:

Thanks to Rob Poindexter for sharing the story with me.

Soures: WABI, Before It’s News, US News, RT, Unexplainable Net

Written by: Derek Wood

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U.S. sicker than rest of developed world—nutrition industry speaks out

(New Hope 360) A new report released last month found that Americans are unhealthier than 16 other developed countries.

The report, which was compiled by the National Research Council and the Institutes of Medicine, found that, despite the fact that Americans spend the most money per year on healthcare, we’re not healthier or living longer than other countries.

Several factors contribute to U.S. debility, such as a large uninsured population, high consumption of calories, high drug abuse, less use of seatbelts, high levels of poverty, high reliance on cars and low physical activity. No single factor explains the overall status of American health.

Of the health areas studied, Americans ranked worse than other countries in nine categories, including, among others, drug abuse, heart disease, obesity and diabetes, and lung disease.

The study found that U.S. men live the shortest lives of all 16 countries at 76 years, and U.S. women ranked second-to-last at just under 81 years. Americans are more likely to die younger because of illnesses like obesity and heart disease.

“I don’t think most parents know that, on average, infants, children, and adolescents in the U.S. die younger and have greater rates of illness and injury than youth in other countries,” said Dr. Steven Woolf, chair of the panel and of the department of family medicine at Virginia Commonwealth University, according to NBC News.

But there is a silver lining. Americans who live to the age of 75 are expected to live longer than those in the other countries. Not to mention people in the U.S. control blood pressure and cholesterol better and have a lower death rate from cancer.

Does industry have the answer?

The nutrition industry is concerned with the results of this study because of its implications for the world of consumer health and the industry’s interest in improving the well-being and health of the country.

Industry experts Mark LeDoux, chairman and CEO at Natural Alternative International, Inc.; Steve Mister, president and CEO of the Council for Responsible Nutrition; and Robert Craven, CEO of FoodState, commented on the findings of this study.

LeDoux: It’s ‘sick care’ not ‘healthcare’

Mark LeDoux, chairman and CEO, Natural AlternativesInternational: The first obvious issue that arises from this report is that the “healthcare” system in America is a misnomer. We don’t provide healthcare, we provide sick care. Many of the commondiseases that lead to our mortality rates being high are directly linked to what we affectionately call “high-risk behaviors.”

If we look at food choices in the family from an early age, we see that convenience plays a role in generating unhealthy choices. Getting a frozen dinner and plopping oneself in front of the television while eating retards the development of proper social family time. When children go off to public school, they are often fed by institutional food service programs that are big on quantity, but not necessarily up on freshness or quality. It never ceases to amaze me that people will order 1,200 calories of fat laden foods at fast food restaurants, and then order a super sized diet soft drink, thinking that simply by ordering a diet beverage they are somehow redeeming the poor choices of food that accompany the beverage. Unfortunately, when it comes to healthcare in America we have seen the enemy, and he looks an awful lot like us.

Supplements can and should play a vital role in securing appropriate nutrient densities in our tissues and organ systems, but failure to be mobile leads to a whole set of other negative consequences. Gluttony leads to obesity, and that condition takes a toll on overall health—putting undue burdens on the ‘sick care’ system in America to hopefully alleviate the symptoms of self-wrought misery. It would seem self-evident that Americans may be the most overfed and undernourished people in the developed world.

Mister: We can deliberately defy unhealthy culture

Steve Mister, president and CEO, Council for Responsible Nutrition: This report is certainly troubling. At the same time, maybe it illuminates some opportunities for potential growth in the U.S. supplement marketplace. As the researchers noted, it’s not any one factor, but rather a whole collection of health-related behaviors that contributes to the U.S.’s health score.

As individuals we all need to be more conscious of the small daily behaviors that collectively contribute to a longer, more healthy life—everything from easing up on the accelerator, to taking a daily jog, to passing on the second piece of chocolate cake. When we think about health as a constellation of lifestyle choices rather than “I need to lower my cholesterol orI need to lose weight,” we can start to understand how all these things work together. Our bodies are not a collection of unconnected parts, they are integrated holistic systems all working together. So what we eat, the supplements we take, the exercise we get, all impact our entire bodies and life outlook—not just our blood pressure, or just our mood or just our alertness, but everything. Supplements are just one of those behaviors, but because they are easily incorporated into a daily regimen, they can be a daily reminder to do other healthy things too.

Daily supplement regimens have direct effects on health, but just the act of taking a supplement can also serve as a reminder to engage in other healthy behaviors. It gives us a feeling of autonomy and empowerment over our health which in turns makes us more conscious of our health and more invested in protecting it. Marketers ofsupplements could move the needle toward a healthier U.S. if they rebrand the routine of taking supplements as a brave, deliberate act of defying the unhealthy culture around us.

Craven: Let’s lead by example

Robert Craven, CEO, Food State (MegaFood): Like Mark, I am convinced that new legislation will do very little – although I was in favor of the super-size soft drink ban in NYC. I got into a Facebook fight on this one as some of my friends started saying that this was taking away “freedom” and “liberty” and I made the point that if your liberty and freedom starts costing me money it ceases to be your freedom. But I digress.

I believe our industry has a real opportunity to take a leadership position here—not from a legislative perspective, but from one that is much more aspirational. What if our industry was the healthiest industry in the nation? What if we could prove it? What if our industry did more for turning around disease directly—meaning we had more of an impact than any doctor or legislator or health insurer ever could? What if we could prove we were healthier with real data? I think this would do more for our positive stature in the world than anything else we could ever do. It’s walking all the talk.

What if the leaders in our industry got together and did nothing else but decide that all of our employees would be healthy? Has anyone ever taken a count of how many people that would represent (employees of natural and supplement companies and their families)? Has to be in the millions…

If we did nothing else but decide that we (our industry) were going to set an example by being healthy, that as CEOs we were going to lead the charge and set the example—being healthy ourselves; creating systems and support that truly promoted health within our own companies; leading the conversation with other CEOs in our communities; ringing the bell for wellness right where we live—wouldn’t this one act, if we had enough great companies on board and bought into the vision, do more for solving the U.S. health crisis than any other act? Especially given that our employees and customers are the most willing participants.

I can’t think of any other answer. In the end, there may not be enough of us out there to ultimately solve the problem—regardless, as for me and my company, we are going to try.

Bloomberg’s ban prohibits 2-liter soda with your pizza and some nightclub mixers


 (NYPost)Take a big gulp, New York: Hizzoner is about to give you a pop.

Nanny Bloomberg unleashes his ban on large sodas on March 12 — and there are some nasty surprises lurking for hardworking families.

Say goodbye to that 2-liter bottle of Coke with your pizza delivery, pitchers of soft drinks at your kid’s birthday party and some bottle-service mixers at your favorite nightclub.

They’d violate Mayor Bloomberg’s new rules, which prohibit eateries from serving or selling sugary drinks in containers larger than 16 ounces.

Bloomberg’s soda smackdown follows his attacks on salt, sugar, trans fat, smoking and even baby formula.

LESS SODA, MORE DOUGH: If you order a pizza, you cannot get a large bottle of soda delivered with it. Already, Domino’s locations across the city are doing away with 1 and 2 liter bottles of soda, deliveryman Philippe Daniba says. They’ll sell smaller bottles instead — costing you more money and increasing plastic waste.

Angel Chevrestt
LESS SODA, MORE DOUGH: If you order a pizza, you cannot get a large bottle of soda delivered with it. Already, Domino’s locations across the city are doing away with 1 and 2 liter bottles of soda, deliveryman Philippe Daniba says. They’ll sell smaller bottles instead — costing you more money and increasing plastic waste.


The city Health Department last week began sending brochures to businesses that would be affected by the latest ban, including restaurants, bars and any “food service” establishment subject to letter grades.

And merchants were shocked to see the broad sweep of the new rules.

“It’s not fair. If you’re gonna tell me what to do, it’s no good,” said Steve DiMaggio of Caruso’s in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn. “It’s gonna cost a lot more.”

And consumers, especially families, will soon see how the rules will affect their wallets — forcing them to pay higher unit prices for smaller bottles.

Typically, a pizzeria charges $3 for a 2-liter bottle of Coke. But under the ban, customers would have to buy six 12-ounce cans at a total cost of $7.50 to get an equivalent amount of soda.

“I really feel bad for the customers,” said Lupe Balbuena of World Pie in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn.

Domino’s on First Avenue and 74th Street on the Upper East Side is doing away with its most popular drink sizes: the 20-ounce and 2-liter bottles.

“We’re getting in 16-ounce bottles — and that’s all we’re going to sell,” a worker said.

He said the smaller bottles will generate more revenue for the restaurant but cost consumers more.

It will also trash more plastic into the environment.

Deliveryman Philippe Daniba said he had brought countless 2-liter bottles of soda to customers over his 19 years at the restaurant. The ban, he said, “doesn’t make sense.”

Industry-group officials agreed.

“It’s ludicrous,” said Robert Bookman, a lawyer for the New York City Hospitality Alliance. “It’s a sealed bottle of soda you can buy in the supermarket. Why can’t they deliver what you can get in the supermarket?”

Families will get pinched at kid-friendly party places, which will have to chuck their plastic pitchers because most hold 60 ounces — even though such containers are clearly intended for more than one person.

Changes will be made at the Frames bowling alley in Times Square, where 26-ounce pitchers are served at kids’ parties, said manager Ayman Kamel.

“We’re going to try to get creative,” he said, noting drinks with 100 percent juice are exempt from the ban.

“We’re figuring out a way to have freshly squeezed juice for the birthday parties. We might have to raise the price about a dollar or so.”

Dallas BBQ at 1265 Third Ave. will retire its 60-ounce pitchers and 20-ounce glasses, manager Daisy Reyes said.

“We have to buy new glasses,” she said. “We’re in the process.”

And if you’re looking for a night of bottle service at a Manhattan hot spot, be warned: Spending $300 on a bottle of vodka no longer entitles you to a full complement of mixers.

Astrid Stawiarz

If you get bottle service at a city nightclub or restaurant, you cannot also get a carafe of cranberry juice like the one hostess Maggie is serving up here at Le Souk Harem in the West Village. Tonic water and other beverages are also limited, even though they are only used as mixers.


The carafes in which mixers are typically served hold 32 ounces, and the most common mixers — sodas, cranberry juice and tonic water — will be limited. Only water and 100 percent juice will be unlimited.

“Oh, my God. Seriously?” said Lamia Sunti, owner of the swanky West Village club Le Souk Harem. “It’s not like one person is going to be drinking the whole carafe. It’s silly.”

The rules are hard to unravel.

Alcoholic drinks and diet sodas are not subject to the ban, nor are fruit smoothies if they don’t have added sweetener, or coffee drinks and milkshakes if made with 50 percent milk.

But what about drinks with small amounts of added sugar? Vendors must determine if the beverages have more than 3.125 calories per ounce.

But they should double-check their math: Violations cost $200 each.

DOJ Admits It Had To Put Aaron Swartz In Jail To Save Face Over The Arrest


(Tech Dirt) -As the Congressional investigation into the DOJ’s prosecution of Aaron Swartz has continued, apparently a DOJ representative has admitted that part of the reason it insisted on having Swartz plead guilty to a felony and go to jail, no matter what, was that it feared the public backlash for the original arrest if they couldn’t then show a felony conviction and jailtime. According to a Huffington Post article, quoting various sources:

Some congressional staffers left the briefing with the impression that prosecutors believed they needed to convict Swartz of a felony that would put him in jail for a short sentence in order to justify bringing the charges in the first place, according to two aides with knowledge of the briefing.

The odd thing is this little tidbit comes at the very, very end of a longer article, most of which focuses on the DOJ telling Congressional staffers that part of the reason they went after Swartz with such zeal was because of his infamous Guerilla Open Access Manifesto. That might explain why they were so eager to arrest him, but it seems like the much bigger deal, considering all the concern about prosecutor discretion, that after they arrested him, they then didn’t want to look bad, which is why they continued to demand jailtime and felony convictions.

Many people have assumed all along that the Manifesto played a big role in the case — and the Manifesto has certainly been a lightening rod concerning Swartz’s activities. If you read the actual “manifesto” it’s not quite as extreme as some make it out to be — with much of it talking about taking stuff that is public domain, but still hidden behind walls, and making that available again. The controversial bit really is this paragraph, which starts out with legal activities, but gets much more ambiguous at the end:

We need to take information, wherever it is stored, make our copies and share them with the world. We need to take stuff that’s out of copyright and add it to the archive. We need to buy secret databases and put them on the Web. We need to download scientific journals and upload them to file sharing networks. We need to fight for Guerilla Open Access.

Note that initially he’s talking about stuff that is out of copyright. When he’s talking about databases, note that he talks about buying them for the sake of putting them online, not infringing on the works. It’s just that bit about scientific journals. And, yes, if those works are covered by copyright, there’s likely infringement there, but it’s not entirely clear. Especially in an age where many professors post up free copies of their research any way, and where it looks like we’re moving to an age where more and more research is open access anyway. In that context, is what he said really so bad?

Apparently the DOJ thought it was a reason to throw the book at Swartz, even if he hadn’t actually made any such works available.

The “Manifesto,” Justice Department representatives told congressional staffers, demonstrated Swartz’s malicious intent in downloading documents on a massive scale.

Some may agree with that, but it seems like a jump towards “thoughtcrime” since he hadn’t actually made any move towards making the JSTOR data available. It’s possible that he planned to only make the public domain works (of which there are many) available. It’s also possible he planned to leak the whole thing. But, really, you would think that there should be a bit more evidence of that before prosecutors throw the book at him.

More importantly, it suggests that Swartz was arrested and prosecuted for expressing his opinion on how to solve a particular problem. You may or may not agree with it, but I thought the US was supposed to be a place where we were free to express ideas. There’s even some famous part of our Constitution about that…

Criticize a Judge (or Anyone Else), Go to Jail?

Daniel Brewington

(Examiner) -Daniel Brewington was not happy with the way that Dearborn County, Indiana, Judge James D. Humphrey handled his divorce case, during which he lost custody of his children, and he explained why at length in various strongly worded online commentaries. Largely as a result of those posts, Brewington is serving a two-year sentence at the Putnamville Correctional Facility for intimidation, attempted obstruction of justice, and perjury. The punishment Brewington received for condemning Humphrey’s actions has attracted criticism from a wide range of First Amendment advocates, including UCLA law professor Eugene Volokh, conservative lawyer James Bopp, a former executive director of the Indiana Civil Liberties Union, the Indiana Association of Scholars, The Indianapolis Star, and the James Madison Center for Free Speech. In an amicus brief filed the week before last, they urge the Indiana Supreme Court to overturn Brewington’s conviction for intimidating Humphrey, arguing that the provision under which he was convicted, as interpreted by a state appeals court, threatens constitutionally protected speech about the official acts of public officials.

Dearborn County Sheriff's DepartmentDearborn County Sheriff’s DepartmentThe intimidation charge related to Brewington’s comments about Humphrey, which was treated as a felony because it involved a judicial officer, was based on the allegation that he “communicated to another person a threat with the intent that the other person be placed in fear of retaliation for a prior lawful act.” The threat in this case was that Brewington would “expose the person threatened to hatred, contempt, disgrace, or ridicule.” Upholding Brewington’s conviction on this count, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled last month that “the truthfulness of the threatened disclosure is not necessarily relevant to prosecution because the harm, placing a victim in fear, occurs whether the publicized conduct is true or false.” It added that some of Brewington’s statements about Humphrey were demonstrably false. “Over the course of at least a year,” the court said, “Brewington repeatedly called Judge Humphrey a ‘child abuser.’…Brewington also called Judge Humphrey ‘corrupt’…and accused him of engaging in ‘unethical/illegal behavior.'”

It is not clear to me that, as the appeals court claimed, Brewington’s comments “went well beyond hyperbole and were capable of being proven true or false.” As Brewington explained, he believed Humphrey’s custody decision, which was coupled with restrictions on Brewington’s visitation rights, was tantamount to child abuse. That claim and the accusations of “corrupt” or “unethical” behavior seem like expressions of opinion to me. In any case, the appeals court made it clear that for purposes of the intimidation charge it did not matter whether what Brewington said was true. It rejected Brewington’s argument that his speech was protected by the First Amendment, saying “the conduct that is criminalized here, communicating a threat to a victim to place the victim in fear of retaliation for a prior lawful act, necessarily falls outside the realm of protected criticism of government decisions due to the requirement of criminal intent”—i.e., an intent to “place the victim in fear.” As Volokh points out in the amicus brief, this reading of the law suggests that prosecution would be appropriate in situations like these:

1. a columnist’s writing, “Legislator A’s vote on issue B is ridiculous, and I intend to ridicule him until his constituents view him with contempt”;

2. an advocacy group’s picketing a store with signs saying, “The store owner’s decision to stock product C is disgraceful, and we hope our speech will expose the owner to disgrace and ostracism”;

3. a politician’s saying, “The incumbent’s decision D is so foolish that, once I publicize it, the incumbent will be the laughingstock of the state.”

Under the appeals court’s interpretation of the statute, all that’s necessary for a conviction is an explicit or implied threat of speech aimed at portraying the “victim” in a negative light. It is not hard to see why Volokh concludes that the appeals court’s decision “endangers the free speech rights of journalists, policy advocates, politicians, and ordinary citizens.”

California Grabs $96.4 Million in First Round of Online Sales Tax Collection



(DailyTech) -This amount is strictly for the September-December 2012 quarter

Some U.S. states — like California — are starting to see new revenue from sales tax on internet purchases from the likes of Amazon.

The California Board of Equalization said it made $96.4 million in sales tax on internet commerce from September-December 2012, which is the first full quarter that the state started collecting. This is good news for the California Department of Finance, which has a forecast budget goal of $107 million in new e-taxes for the fiscal year starting July 1, 2012.

While these numbers look great for the state of California, they’re a bit off from the estimates provided by a 2009 University of Tennessee study that said California would make $1.9 billion in 2012 revenue if it collected online sales tax. It also said states would miss out on $11.4 billion in 2012 revenue nationwide if they failed to collect online sales tax.

As of right now, Amazon collects sales tax in nine states (including California) and will collect in seven more over the next year.

Georgia is one the most recent to collect online sales tax. Amazon started collecting sales tax in Texas in July 2012, and California and Pennsylvania in September 2012.

Amazon has been fighting states that force it to collect sales tax for years (except in Kansas, Kentucky, New York, North Dakota and Washington). The e-tailer fled many states that attempted to force tax collection on the company, such as California and Illinois. But between states looking for ways to offset large financial deficits and brick-and-mortar stores like Best Buy complaining about Amazon being unfair competition, the issue swelled.

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos said many times that his company would agree to collect taxes if there were some sort of federal legislation.

But eventually, Amazon finally broke down and started collecting sales tax in certain states, which allowed it to build more distribution centers within those states. For instance, Amazon announced that it would collect sales tax in New Jersey last May so that two Amazon distribution centers could be built. This led to faster shipping for customers, such as Amazon’s same-day delivery program, making it more competitive than ever.

But earlier this month, Amazon and challenged a New York law passed in 2008, which forces companies with affiliates within the state to collect sales tax. However, Amazon said this law is unconstitutional because a 1992 Supreme Court decision said retailers that don’t have a nexus of operation in a state does not need to collect sales tax. While New York said that websites with purchase buttons for Amazon as well as other national retailers are local solicitors because they receive fees for doing so, Amazon said argued that web referrals are less like solicitors or a local sales force and are more like advertising.

GAO: Asia’s power plants destroying U.S. waters, endangering children

(Washington Examiner) -Chinese and other Asian coal-fired electricity plants belching dangerous mercury-laced smoke are mostly to blame for mercury warnings now in every U.S. state and covering the total fish populations of 25 states, according to a startling new federal audit.

Just as alarming: Despite herculean efforts in many states to slash emissions of two acid rain producing pollutants, nitrogen oxides and sulfur dioxide, many lakes, bays and streams along the Appalachian and Pacific Coast ranges and Great Lakes can’t meet federal guidelines because of pollution floating in from Canada, Mexico and nearby states.

An exhaustive new Government Accountability Office audit of Environmental Protection Agency water programs laid out the worrisome findings while presenting a vexing policy issue: They want the EPA to do more to stop pollution, but how can EPA stop foreign pollution from fouling American waters?

 The easiest to handle and the area the Obama administration is focused most on is air pollution from U.S. power plants and cars. The GAO found success in some states like New York, which has cut in-state emissions 90 percent in the last two decades. The result: New York still can’t meet regulations because 87 percent of the acid rain-producing pollutants are floating in “mostly from the Southeast, and Midwest United States and Canada.”

The GAO said Chesapeake Bay suffers from a similar problem of pollutants flowing in from states that don’t neighbor the watershed.

While acid rain pollutants spoil waters, mercury ingested by fish can harm humans, especially children, when eaten. But, said GAO, the U.S. effort is being thwarted by Asian industrial plants. GAO said that 67 percent of human-cause mercury emissions come from Asia, while only 8 percent are from North America.

A GAO map of the nation showing mercury warnings for fish shows a continuous red line from the Maine-Canada border to the Texas-Mexico line. Citing an EPA report, the GAO said that in 2010, “all 50 states reported mercury-related fish consumption advisories, and 25 states reported statewide freshwater advisories. Additionally, Alaska, Hawaii, all of the Gulf states, and most of the East Coast states, reported statewide coastal advisories.”

The administration is currently negotiating mercury levels with international partners.

DOJ Memo: Gun Control Ineffective Without Forced Buybacks


(Breitbart) -A leaked internal memo from the National Institute of Justice–the research, development, and evaluation agency of the U.S. Department of Justice–shows that none of Obama’s gun proposals will work without registration and forced buybacks amounting to confiscation of Americans’ guns.

The memo illustrates this by showing why high capacity magazine bans, gun buybacks, and “assault weapons” bans have failed to work in the past.

For example, according to the memo, the high capacity magazine bans that were in place from 1994-2004 had little impact because the bans contained too many exemptions. The memo says one of the key errors was that “the 1994 ban exempted magazines made before 1994 so that the importation of large capacity magazines manufactured before 1994 continued [throughout] the ban.”

Moreover, the memo points out that while the price of the magazines rose sharply, it was not driven up far enough to make them “unaffordable.”

According to the memo, for a high capacity magazine ban to succeed Obama needs to ban not only the manufacture and sale of said magazines, but also the importation and possession. There also must be a federal buyback of all high capacity magazines already in circulation to ensure private owners haven’t held on to any covered by the ban.

Regarding gun buybacks, the memo says they have also been ineffective “as generally implemented.” Because such buybacks have been voluntary, they have been “too small,” have resulted in the surrender of guns that are rarely used in crime, and have removed guns that are easily replaceable.

The memo intimates that the corrective for such ineffective buybacks are non-voluntary buybacks that are targeted at the kinds of weapons used in crime.

Lastly, the memo says the first “assault weapons” ban failed to work for many of the same reasons magazine bans and gun buybacks failed to work–there was simply too much wiggle room for gun owners. Moreover, the memo says that because “assault weapons” are used in such a low percentage of crimes, the only way a ban can be effective is if it eliminates every “assault weapon” in the country.

According to the memo, the only way to fix it is to couple a ban with “a gun buyback and no exemptions.”

Sessions: Healthcare law will add $6.2 trillion to deficit over 75 years


(The Hill) -The Senate Budget Committee’s top Republican said a new government report shows that President Obama’s healthcare law will add $6.2 trillion to the deficit over the next 75 years.

“The big taxes increases in the bill come nowhere close to covering the bill’s spending. … The big-government crowd in Washington manipulated the numbers to get the financial score they wanted, to get their bill passed and to increase their power and influence.”

The GAO will release its report later Tuesday, according to Sessions’s staff. The senator requested the study from GAO.

Republicans have argued since the law’s passage that it will prove a major liability for the federal budget.

The Obama administration, meanwhile, cites estimates from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) that the law will reduce the deficit.

Repealing the Affordable Care Act would increase deficit spending by $230 billion, the CBO wrote in January 2011.

Testimony: DHS No Longer Uses Control of Border as Measure of Border Patrol


Janet Napolitano 


( – The U.S. Department of Homeland Security no longer uses control of the actual border as a measure of how well the Border Patrol is doing its job, according to written testimony released today by the Government Accountability Office.

The GAO said that by the end of fiscal 2010, the Border Patrol had been able secure “operational control” of only 44 percent of the U.S.-Mexico border. Then, with 56 percent of the border not under “operation control,” DHS simply stopped using “operational control” as a measure of the Border Patrol’s performance.

Since then, DHS has counted the number of illegal border crossers the Border Patrol apprehends, and used this count as an “interim” measure of whether the Border Patrol is accomplishing its mission.

According to GAO, this “interim” measure limits DHS’s accountability and Congress’s ability to conduct oversight of the department.

“At the end of fiscal year 2010, DHS reported achieving varying levels of operational control of 873 (44 percent) of the nearly 2,000 southwest border miles,” Rebecca Gambler, the GAO’s director of Homeland Security and Justice Issues told the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on the Border.

“In fiscal year 2011, citing a need to establish new goals and measures that reflect a more quantitative methodology and an evolving vision for border control, DHS transitioned to using the number of apprehensions on the southwest border as an interim goal and measure,” Gambler said. “As GAO previously testified, this interim measure, which reports on program activity levels and not program results, limits DHS and congressional oversight and accountability.”

Starting in 2004, Congress provided the Border Patrol with a significant increase in resources, which until 2010 were focused on actually securing the physical border of the United States.

“For example, from fiscal years 2004 through 2011, the number of Border Patrol agents on the southwest border nearly doubled, from about 9,500 to about 18,500; and DHS reported that since fiscal year 2006, about $4.4 billion has been invested in southwest border technology and infrastructure,” Gambler testified. “Through fiscal year 2010, these resources were used to support DHS’s goal to achieve “operational control” of the nation’s borders by reducing cross-border illegal activity.”

The Border Patrol reported that it has “operational control” of a mile of border when it could not only detect illegal border crossers there but actually interdict them when they crossed.

“The extent of operational control—also referred to as effective control—was defined as the number of border miles where Border Patrol had the capability to detect, respond to, and interdict cross-border illegal activity,” Gambler testified.

In its most recent strategic plan, the Obama Administration indicated that it intended to begin focusing resources on “mitigating risk” from illegal penetration of the U.S. border rather than increasing the security of the border itself.

“In May 2012, Border Patrol issued the 2012-2016 Border Patrol Strategic Plan (2012-2016 Strategic Plan), stating that the buildup of its resource base and the operations conducted over the past two decades would enable the Border Patrol to focus on mitigating risk rather than increasing resources to secure the border,” Gambler testified.

The GAO said that the administration pointed to its “evolving vision for border” as explanation of why it needed a new “interim” measure as it work to develop an all-new measure.

“Citing a need to establish a new border security goal and measure that reflect a more quantitative methodology as well as the department’s evolving vision for border control, DHS established the interim performance goal and measure of the number of apprehensions between the land border ports of entry until a new border control goal and measure could be developed,” GAO said.

But GAO concluded that the interim measure of counting the illegal border crossers the Border Patrol actually apprehended was not a good measure of the agencies effectiveness.

“We previously testified that the interim goal and measure of number of apprehensions on the southwest border between ports of entry provides information on activity levels, but it does not inform program results or resource identification and allocation decisions, and therefore until new goals and measures are developed, DHS and Congress could experience reduced oversight and DHS accountability,” Gambler testified. “Further, studies commissioned by CBP have documented that the number of apprehensions bears little relationship to effectiveness because agency officials do not compare these numbers with the amount of cross-border illegal activity.”

JP Morgan to cut 4,000 jobs

(Business Insider) -JPMorgan Chase is holding its investor day in Manhattan today.

The bank’s CEO Jamie Dimon is slated to speak and open up for Q&A this early afternoon.

In the Firm Overview JPMorgan released, the bank said it expects to have expense reduction of $1 billion and about 4,000 in job cuts.

Check it out:


jp morgan layoffs

Foodstamps for Pets down the road?

(Before It’s News) -When man falls on hard times, what’s his best friend to do?

A new donation-based program called Pet Food Stamps aims to provide food stamps for pets of low-income families and for food stamp recipients who otherwise could not afford to feed their pets, reported ABC affiliate KVIA in Las Cruces, N.M.

Based in New York, the program is open to anyone in the United States. More than 45,000 pets have already been signed up in the past two weeks, according to the program’s founder and executive director Marc Okon. Once need and income is verified, the families will receive pet food each month from pet food retailer Pet Food Direct for a six-month period.

“We’re not looking for government funding at this point,” Okon told “Should the government be willing to provide assistance further down the line, we will look into it.”

The only way to apply for the program is through an online application, but Okon said applications would be accepted through mail once the program moved to its new office.

Okon said the program’s nonprofit status was still pending. MOREHERE

Ron Paul says government is preparing for civil unrest

(Digital Journal) -The “Champion of Liberty” himself has admitted that the government is fully aware of the potential for civil unrest in the United States and is even preparing for it.
In an interview on The Alex Jones Show on Monday, February 25, 2013, former Congressman and 2008 and 2012 Republican presidential hopeful Ron Paul commented on the “domestic arms race” and the government’s obvious preparation for civil unrest by suggesting that “[the government] does not know that in two months from now there’s riots in the streets, but they know that there could be.” Paul went on to explain that he does not believe the government necessarily believes that civil unrest in America is a certainty but that the elites at all levels of power are making preparations in order to retain their power. He also said “I would expect that the people in charge know that there’s trouble ahead and they’re laying their plans to react in any way they think necessary.”


When asked about the potential for civil war following a gun confiscation attempt, the 12-term Congressman explained that while the government is not necessarily planning to ban guns for the sole purpose of sparking a civil war, it would definitely be a possibility. He believes that the gun control advocates believe in government, as opposed the people, owning guns as a philosophy. “Whether that is exactly what they want it’s hard to say,” said Congressman Paul “but I know one thing; they don’t want the people to have the guns.” Paul finally said, with Alex Jones’ agreement, that he doesn’t believe the American people will willingly give up their guns.

Supreme Court Whores refuse to allow Americans the right to challenge FISA


(IntelHub) -The United States Supreme Court will not let Americans challenge a provision in a foreign intelligence law that lets the federal government secretly eavesdrop on the intimate communications of millions of Americans.

On Tuesday, the top justices in the US said the country’s highest court will not hear a case in which Amnesty International and a slew of co-plaintiffs have contested a provision of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978, or FISA, that lets the National Security Agency silently monitor emails and phone calls.

Under the FISA Amendments Act of 2008 (FAA), the NSA is allowed to conduct electronic surveillance on any US citizen as long as they are suspected of conversing with any person located outside of the United States.

That provision was scheduled to expire at the end of 2012, but Congress voted to re-up the bill and it was put back on the books for another five years.

Along with human rights workers and journalists, Amnesty International first challenged the FAA on the day it went into effect, arguing that the powers provided to the NSA under the FISA amendments likely puts the plaintiffs and perhaps millions of other Americans at risk of surveillance.

Now years later, though, they are finally being told that they cannot challenge the law that, while meant to collect foreign intelligence, puts every person in the country at risk of being watched.

“Under the FAA, the government can target anyone — human rights researchers, academics, attorneys, political activists, journalists — simply because they are foreigners outside the United States, and in the course of its surveillance it can collect Americans’ communications with those individuals,” the American Civil Liberties Union wrote on behalf of the plaintiffs in a legal brief filed last year with the court.

Amnesty, et al have been pursuing an injunction against the NSA in their lawsuit, which names former NSA-Chief James Clapper is a co-defendant. Because the plaintiffs cannot prove that they’ve actually been targeted under the FAA, however, the case is been stalled endlessly.


In last year’s filing, the ACLU acknowledged that an appeals court panel agreed in 2011 that “plaintiffs have good reason to believe that their communications, in particular, will fall within the scope of the broad surveillance that they can assume the government will conduct,” and the full body of US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit later refused the government’s attempts to have them reconsider.

“But instead of allowing the case to be heard on the merits, the Obama administration asked the Supreme Court to review the case,” the ACLU’s Ateqah Khaki, wrote. “Our brief urges the Court to affirm the appeals court’s decision.”

On Tuesday, however, the Supreme Court dismissed the claims that the plaintiffs were being watched under the FAA. Amnesty and others had argued that the presumed surveillance they were subjected to has caused them to go out of their way to maintain working relationships with clients, forcing them to travel abroad to communicate without the fear of being monitored.

In the suit, the plaintiffs have said that because they communicate “with people the Government ‘believes or believed to be associated with terrorist organizations,’ ‘people located in geographic areas that are a special focus’ of the Government’s counterterrorism or diplomatic efforts, and activists who oppose governments that are supported by the United States Government,” they’ve undertaken “costly and burdensome measures” to protect the confidentiality of sensitive communications.

“This theory of future injury is too speculative,” Justice Samuel Alito said in announcing the 5-4 decision, calling it “hypothetical future harm.”

“In sum, respondents’ speculative chain of possibilities does not establish that injury based on potential future surveillance,” the court ruled. “[R]espondents’ self-inflicted injuries are not fairly traceable to the Government’s purported activities under [the FAA] and their subjective fear of surveillance does not give rise to standing.”

Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Antonin Scalia, Anthony Kennedy and Clarence Thomas joined Alito in the ruling. Justices Stephen Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan all dissented.

Army refuses to drop charges against Bradley Manning


(RT) -Bradley Manning will remain in military prison awaiting his eventual trial after an Army judge refused again a request to dismiss charges against the alleged whistleblower.

The military judge presiding over the case of Army Private first class Bradley Manning denied a motion entered by attorneys for the accused WikiLeaks source which would have dismissed charges against him due to the absence of a speedy trial.

Manning, 25, recently celebrated his one-thousandth day in military custody. From Ft. Meade, Maryland on Tuesday morning, however, Col. Denise Lind said that nearly three years of delays didn’t constitute a violation of the speedy trial statute provided under the United States Rules for Military Commissions.

Under RMC 707, the court had 120 days to get the case against Pfc Manning off the ground. But although the accused has yet to be formally tried, the judge said that Army prosecutors were able to start pre-trial matters well before the deadline, with the arraignment occurring after only three months — taking into consideration, of course, delays that Lind considered excusable by the court.

Nathan Fuller of the Bradley Manning Support Network reports from the courthouse that the judge ruled that delays in the case in 2011 caused by the government weren’t grounds to dismiss the charges since the Original Classification Authorities delegated to complete lengthy classification reviews in the case were permissible.

Lind found those delays “reasonable” and the prosecution of Pfc Manning “diligent,” the Guardian’s Ed Pilkington reports from Ft. Meade. On the other hand, he says, attorneys for the defendant called the ruling “shameful.”

Private Manning was arrested in May 2010 and accused of leaking sensitive documents to the whistleblower website WikiLeaks. His formal court-martial is currently scheduled to begin in June, more than three years after he was first detained by the US military.

Last year, Manning’s attorney lost a bid to dismiss the charges against him based off of the egregious treatment the soldier endured while detained in a brig at Quantico Military Base in Northern Virginia. Col. Lind credited Manning with 112 days off of whatever sentence is handed out if he’s convicted when he’s brought to trial later this year. Manning himself is expected to testify for only the second time later this week when he enters a plea deal: in lieu of charges that could put him in prison for life, Pfc Manning intends to plead guilty to lesser charges.

“Pfc Manning is attempting to accept responsibility for offenses that are encapsulated within, or are a subset of, the charged offenses,” his attorney David Coombs said last year.

Compulsive liar jailed after 11 false rape claims in decade



(Telegraph) -Elizabeth Jones, 22, admitted she lied about the latest rape allegation because she “did not like” the man she accused of attacking her, Southampton Crown Court was told.

Her latest victim, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was arrested and questioned for nine hours before being released without charge.

After a judge jailed her for 16 months, it emerged today that she made her first complaint in 2004 aged just 13 before alleging other men had attacked her over the next nine years.

In 2009 she was given a ten month detention and training order for a similar offence.

Between 2005 and 2007 she had made eight other allegations, which police investigated, but she was never charged.

In the latest incident, Hampshire Police launched an investigation after Jones, from Southampton, Hants, urged an unidentified friend to report she had been assaulted.

She later went to the police station for a medical examination and repeated the false allegation.

Jennie Rickman, prosecuting, told the court that a man was arrested but he denied the rape allegation.

Detectives later viewed CCTV covering part of the house in which Jones claimed to have been attacked, which did not support her story as it showed she was not forcibly taken there.

“There is a history of her making false allegations of this nature and this is the 11th incident,” she said.

“Police had to take her allegation seriously and carried out an appropriate investigation.

“She was later arrested and accepted she had lied about being raped – she said she did it because she did not like him.”

Jones admitted one count of attempting to pervert the course of justice.

Jailing her for 16 months, Judge Derwin Hope said her offences had caused a “terrible emotional experience” to her alledged attacker.

But he also said it struck at the heart of the criminal justice system.

Megan Topliss, defending, said her client had endured a disturbed childhood and had been left traumatised after being taken into care.

Jones immediately accepted she had lied when approached by the police and pleaded guilty at the earliest opportunity, she added.


Bradley Manning court to rule on claims of ‘shameful’ delay in trial

Bradley Manning

Bradley Manning marked his 1,000th day in detention without trial last weekend. Photograph: Brendan Smialowski/Getty

(Guardian) -The military court that is handling the prosecution of the WikiLeaks source Bradley Manning is likely to rule this week on whether the drawn-out nature of his court martial is in breach of his rights to a prompt trial.

The latest Bradley Manning pre-trial hearing at Fort Meade in Maryland that starts on Tuesday will focus on a “speedy trial” motion brought by the defence. It argues that the legal build-up to his eventual court martial has been so agonisingly slow that the defendant’s basic rights have been violated.

Last weekend, Manning, who was arrested in May 2010 at the US army base outside Baghdad where he was working as an intelligence analyst, entered his 1,000th day in detention without trial. The moment was marked by scores of demonstrations around the world.

Military personnel are afforded similar protection against excessive delays before trial as are civilians. Under Article 10 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, the US government is required to use “reasonable diligence” in proceeding to trial for anyone held in pre-trial confinement.

But in legal argument to the court prepared by Manning’s main lawyer, David Coombs, the government is accused of deliberately dragging its feet.

“The government’s behavior is nothing short of shameful,” Coombs writes. He points out that it took 530 days to elicit classification reviews of sensitive material from different government departments.

“These classification reviews were not Tolstoy novels – they were generally documents that spanned three or four pages. Under no stretch of the imagination can a 530 day lag in completing a three or four page classification review be characterized as reasonably diligent,” the defence lawyer wrote, adding: “530 days spent languishing in a brig is a very long time.”

The Rules for Courts Martial (RCM) 707 states that under normal circumstances the accused should be brought to trial within 120 days of charges having been brought. With the start of the court martial now pencilled in for 3 June – more than three years after Manning was arrested – the defence is calling for all charges against him to be thrown out because of the breach of his rights.

The prosecution has argued that the material under discussion – the hundreds of thousands of diplomatic cables and other confidential state documents that Manning has effectively admitted passing to WikiLeaks – is so sensitive and potentially damaging to national security that the legal process has been by necessity slower to advance than usual. The government has also pointed out that some of the delays in the trial process have come as a result of defence requests.

It will fall to the military judge, Colonel Denise Lind, to decide which side of the argument holds sway. She could agree with the government and dismiss the defence motion out of hand; or she could side with the defence and dismiss the charges, even theoretically allowing Manning to walk free, though few close observers expect such a dramatic outcome to happen.

Argo wins Oscar in Hollywood’s dirty anti-Iran game: Analysts

(Press TV) -The granting of the Best Picture Oscar to the Iranophobic movie Argo has long been foreseeable as the Machiavellian maneuvering of Hollywood propaganda harbors a much more elaborate imperialistic scheme, political analysts say.

“I put my money on this film to win the Best Picture Oscar (even though there is nothing remotely “best” about it) especially if Obama can pull off winning the Presidential election,” wrote cultural critic Kim Nicolini in an article published in October 2012.

“Argo, above all else, is a piece of conservative liberal propaganda created by Hollywood to support the Obama administration’s conservative liberal politics as we move toward the Presidential election,” she said before Obama was re-elected for the second term.

“It also primes the war wheels for an American-supported Israeli attack on Iran, so that Leftists can feel okay about the war when they cast their vote for Obama in November (2012),” the critic pointed out.

At the 85th edition of Academy Awards at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, California, on Sunday, Michelle Obama, the US First Lady, announced Argo as winner of the Best Picture Oscar, live from the White House.

The thriller directed by US filmmaker Ben Affleck is loosely based on the allegedly historical account by former CIA agent Tony Mendez about the rescue of six American diplomats during the takeover of the US Embassy in Tehran after Iran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution.

The revolutionary Iranian university students who took over the US Embassy believed that the embassy had turned into a den of espionage which aimed to overthrow the nascent Islamic Republic establishment.

Argo only tells the rescue operation of the six Americans from the Canadian Embassy in Iran, with no mentioning of the 53 Americans who spent 444 days in the US Embassy.

Nicolini lashed out at Argo for completely neglecting to provide the Iranian’s side of the story, noting, “The film is a sanitized version of the events.”

She argued that “there is nothing authentic about the film’s manipulation of historical events,” and described the movie as “pure political propaganda.”

“Given the vast number of people who have died in the Middle East (Americans, Iranians, Iraqis, Afghanis, etc.), why should we give so much attention to 6 white American diplomats who were saved by Hollywood and the CIA? What about all the other people from so many cultural demographics who have and are continuing to be massacred, murdered and tortured daily?” the critic questioned.

One of the most disputed aspect of Argo’s version of events has to do with Canada’s role in the escape, as the film is considered to be a very inaccurate dramatization of a purported joint CIA-Canadian secret operation.

Former Canadian Ambassador to Iran Ken Taylor has heavily criticized the movie, saying, “The amusing side is the script writer (Chris Terrio) in Hollywood had no idea what he’s talking about.”

He said Argo downplays the actual extent of the Canadian involvement which was considerable.

Taylor criticized Argo for incorporating a myriad of creative liberties that included the “black and white” portrayal of Iranian people and fabricated scenes, adding that Argo “characterizes people in a way that isn’t quite right.”

The former Canadian envoy argued that Argo didn’t portray “a more conventional side,” and “a more hospitable side” of the Iranian society as well, an “intent that they were looking for some degree of justice.”

Political analysts say Argo unmasks the elaborate US scheme to employ every medium in its propaganda apparatus to incite Iranophobia across the globe.

“Argo is an arrant instance of Hollywoodism. In point of fact, it is yet another attempt to foment Iranophobia not only in the USA but across the world as well,” Iranian academic Dr. Ismail Salami wrote in an article on Press TV website in November 2012.

“In recent years, Iranophobia has come to encompass a wider scope of media including cinema which is incontestably capable of exercising a more powerful effect on manipulating the audience,” he said.

The analyst also lashed out at Argo’s director for portraying a “stereotyped and caricatured view” of the Iranian society and noted that Affleck has consciously sought to ridicule “the very customs and traditions” of Iran.

In an interview with Press TV, top Iranian official Masoumeh Ebtekar who was a spokeswoman of the students who took over the US Embassy in 1979, says she initially thought that the film would be a balanced representation of events, but after seeing the film, she says it does not tell the story of the takeover as it actually happened.

“The group who took over the American Embassy were a group of young, very orderly and quite calm men and women … The scenes that you see in Argo are totally incorrect,” Ebtekar said.

Iranian film critic Masoud Foroutan told Press TV that Argo was “politically-motivated,” noting, “The making of the film from the technical aspect is ok but the story is not authentic. The story is custom-made and you could see where it would end up. The film was a politically-motivated one.”

On the 19th of January 1981, the Algiers Accords was signed by the United States and Iran which secured the release of the American diplomats. A day later, the 53 Americans were released in Tehran and minutes later former US President Ronald Reagan was sworn into office.

Meanwhile, political observers contend that the US has always sought to keep the Algiers Accords hidden from the general public and it comes as no surprise as Argo makes no mention of the accords either.

Afghans give U.S special forces the boot citing torture

(IBI Times) The Afghan government Sunday ordered all U.S. special forces to leave a province after reports from local officials that the elite force is behind several cases of Afghan civilians being tortured or disappeared.

The decision seems to have caught the coalition and U.S. Forces Afghanistan, a separate command, by surprise, the Associated Press reported.

Officials in Maidan Wardak, a province that borders Kabul on the west and where security has deteriorated over the past year, had presented evidence to President Hamid Karzai and other officials alleging that nine people had disappeared after being seized by U.S. special forces in raids on their homes, the Guardian reported.

U.S. special forces were also accused of the death of a university student whose tortured remains were found days after he went missing.

“People have been complaining about U.S. special forces units torturing and killing people in that province, and nine individuals were taken from their homes recently and they have just disappeared and no one knows where they have gone,” said Aimal Faizi, spokesman for Karzai.

Officials made the decision at a meeting Sunday morning chaired by Karzai, Faizi said, but the government has known of the allegations for months.

Karzai’s office gave no additional details and didn’t specify the identities of the Afghans working alongside the U.S. forces. And the Wardak province chief of police told The Los Angeles Times that he had no evidence to back up the claims.

The announcement comes days after NATO defense ministers said they had made progress planning a military assistance mission in Afghanistan after the alliance’s combat role expires at the end of 2014.

A draft proposal discussed last week in Brussels for possible NATO operations in Afghanistan after 2014 envisions a force of up to 9,500 American troops and up to 6,000 more from other coalition nations, according to alliance officials, who stressed that no final decisions had been made, the AP reported. Other NATO officials said the combined American and allied force would be smaller, falling in a range of 8,000 to 12,000 troops.

The Taliban have staged many attacks against coalition forces in Maidan Wardak. In August 2011, insurgents shot down a Chinook helicopter, killing 30 American troops, mostly elite Navy SEALs, in Wardak. The crash was the single deadliest loss for U.S. forces in the war.

Afghan forces have taken the lead in many special operations, especially so-called night raids.

“Those Afghans in these armed groups who are working with the U.S. special forces, the defense minister asked for an explanation of who they are,” Faizi said. “Those individuals should be handed over to the Afghan side so that we can further investigate.”

The NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Kabul said it was aware of the order, but declined to provide further information. It was also unable to confirm the number of U.S. special forces currently in Maidan Wardak.

“We take allegations of misconduct seriously and go to great lengths to determine the facts surrounding them, but until we’ve had a chance to talk to senior government of Afghanistan officials, we’re not in a position to comment further,” a spokesman said.

“These individuals in the U.S. special forces, who are behind these crimes like murdering and torturing people and harassing people, this is in itself an elemental factor in the deteriorating security situation” in the province, Faizi said.

Afghanistan’s own elite commando forces, including the 1st, 2nd and 6th Special Operations Kandak, also operate in Maidan Wardak, often working alongside the Americans. Faizi said that association was making enemies for the government.

Sunday’s decision comes as Afghan forces face mounting pressure to show they are fit to fully inherit Afghanistan’s security from their foreign backers in 2014. Tensions between Karzai’s government and the alliance also hit a new low last week after he condemned a NATO airstrike that killed nine civilians. He then issued a decree banning Afghan security forces from calling in NATO airstrikes.

Faizi said security in Maidan Wardak, and nearby Logar province, which also borders Pakistan, has been of particular concern to the Afghan government because of heightened violence and Taliban activity there.

Maidan Wardak currently hosts mainly U.S. troops. A brigade of 3,000 to 4,000 Afghan soldiers is also deployed in the province, according to ISAF.

Meanwhile, Taliban suicide bombers attacked several Afghan military installations in Kabul and eastern Afghanistan Sunday.


WH Told Gibbs Not to Acknowledge Drone Program: ‘You’re Not Even to Discuss That It Exists’

Gibbs( – Former White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said before he became spokesman for the Obama administration he was told to “not even acknowledge the drone program…you’re not even to discuss that it exists.”

The administration’s drone program has come under scrutiny since a confidential Justice Department memo — leaked earlier this month — detailed the basis for drone strikes against alleged al-Qaeda operatives, including U.S. citizens.

In an appearance on MSNBC’s “Up with Chris Hayes” on Sunday, Gibbs was asked if he believes the White House has been “sufficiently forthcoming” about its drone-strike program.



“Well, I think you’ve seen recently the president discuss the need and desire to be more forthcoming,” Gibbs said. “I certainly think there are aspects of that program that are and will remain highly sensitive and very secret.”

“But let me give you an example here Chris,” Gibbs said. “When I went through the process of becoming press secretary, one of the things, one of the first things they told me was, ‘You’re not even to acknowledge the drone program. You’re not even to discuss that it exists.’”

“So I would get a question like that—literally I couldn’t tell you what Major [Garrett] asked, because once I figured out it was about the drone program I realized I’m not supposed to talk about it,” Gibbs said.

“But here’s what’s inherently crazy about that proposition,” he added. “You’re being asked a question based on reporting of a program that exists. So you’re the official government spokesperson acting as if the entire program—pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.”

Gibbs said denying the drone program, as he was told to do, “undermines people’s confidence” in government.

“I think in many ways, and I think what the president has seen–and I have not talked to him about this, so I want to be careful, this is my opinion,” he said. “But I think what the President has seen is, is our denial of the existence of the program when it’s obviously happening, undermines people’s confidence overall in the decisions that their government makes.”

The Justice Department memo, released by NBC News on Feb. 4, reveals that American citizens can be the target of a drone strike if an “informed, high-level” official of the U.S. government determines they have “recently” been involved in “activities” posing a threat of violent attack, though the terms remain undefined.

Ron Paul – “There is one group of Americans I do believe should be disarmed: federal agents”


(Ron Paul) -While I oppose most gun control proposals, there is one group of Americans I do believe should be disarmed: federal agents. The use of force by federal agents to enforce unjust and unconstitutional laws is one of the major, albeit overlooked, threats to liberty. Too often Americans are victimized by government force simply for engaging in commercial transactions disproved of by Congress and the federal bureaucracy.

For example, the offices of Rawesome Foods in Venice, California, have been repeatedly raided by armed federal and state agents, and Rawesome’s founder, 65-year old James Stewart, has been imprisoned. What heinous crime justified this action? Rawesome sold unpasteurized (raw) milk and cheese to willing customers – in a state where raw milk is legal! You cannot even drink milk from a cow without a federal permit!

This is hardly the only case of federal agents using force against those who would dare meet consumer demand for raw milk. In 2011 armed agents of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) raided the business of Pennsylvanian Amish farmer Dan Allgyer. Federal agents wasted a whole year and who knows how many millions of our tax dollars posing as customers in order to stop Allgyer from selling his raw milk to willing customers.

The use of force against individuals making choices not approved of by the political elite does not just stop with raw milk. The Natural News website has documented numerous accounts of federal persecution, including armed raids, of health food stores and alternative medical practitioners.

Watch Out for Google Glasses


NEW YORK (TheStreet) — By the end of this year, our society will undergo a most peculiar form of societal change — and it will involve a lot of strife and conflict. The cause? Google(GOOG_) Glasses.

Google Glasses will impact societal behavior from the moment they arrive. As soon as you see them, you’re aware that you might be filmed. People don’t like being filmed.

Yes, every smartphone can record you and take pictures. But you know when this is happening. It isn’t a constant feeling that everyone around you is filming you from every angle. You see them when they do it.

Google Glasses are different. More than just photos and filming, what happens to this data?

Let’s say that I’m standing behind the counter at a businessestablishment — bank, fast-food restaurant, airline check-in counter, whatever. My Google Glasses might display the social security number, the general rap sheet, social media appearances, and so on, of the person in front of me.

Perhaps that’s a good thing. Some people will think it’s creepy, though. Can you imagine the bar scene when people start wearing Google Glasses? Within a second or two, you will have all available information about the person in front of you. Some of that information may not be so flattering.

Public places will have to come up with new policies. Hotels, airports, restaurants, gyms and schools will want some say in whether you are allowed to wear these Google Glasses on their premises. You can just hear the panic buttons after the first pictures from people cheating in school or filming in the locker room are released on YouTube. Conflicts about are certain to get very ugly.

Other dimensions immediately appear. What if future versions of Google Glasses are very difficult to detect in terms of looking different from regular glasses?

What happens when you walk into an establishment today wielding a video camera in the faces of the staff? In a restaurant, a bank lobby, or a gym? You will be asked to turn that thing off, and if you don’t obey quickly, you will be escorted from the premises.

Google Glasses will make all social/public interaction highly awkward. You’re on YouTube everywhere you go. A few short months after their introduction, Google Glasses could already be so widespread that you will be on camera once you stick your nose out your front door.

Privacy lawyers, saddle up!

The Google Glasses data captured in the form of pictures and videos will not only be used by the person wearing the glasses. The person capturing the images may want to “auto-tag” these media with the identities of the people in the picture/video.

Some people prefer to stay off the grid. They pay cash, they drive a car without GPS, they don’t have a cell phone, and they’re not members of online social networks. They have been able to stay out of most publicly available databases.

Once a meaningful percentage of people start walking down the street wearing Google Glasses, not so much. There will be no place to hide — unless the government legislates Google Glasses, or private establishments decide to ban them.

What about Google itself?

Google Glasses will be the critical ingredient in the personal information arms race of the (soon to arrive) future. If other people wear them, why shouldn’t I? I predict that everyone with means will rush to obtain them, especially as the price falls from $1,500 to $1,000 to $500 and eventually below, over the first two years.

If Google succeeds in bringing these kinds of glasses to market before key competitors, most notably Apple(AAPL_), but also Microsoft(MSFT_), the advantage could prove to be decisive. Google already has a 70% smartphone market share with Android, so it’s pretty much already there, but don’t forget the Microsoft’s market share in the PC business was close to 95% until only a few short years ago.

Seeing as Google is likely to engineer some sort of tie-in between the Glasses and Android smartphones, the Glasses should be a tremendous boon for Android. Anyone looking at their iPhone would have to seriously consider switching.

Google Glasses may cause societal chaos, but they will be great for Google’s finances.

50 Signs That The U.S. Health Care System Is A Gigantic Money Making Scam


(Economic Collapse) -The U.S. health care system is a giant money making scam that is designed to drain as much money as possible out of all of us before we die.

In the United States today, the health care industry is completely dominated by government bureaucrats, health insurance companies and pharmaceutical corporations.

The pharmaceutical corporations spend billions of dollars to convince all of us to become dependent on their legal drugs, the health insurance companies make billions of dollars by providing as little health care as possible, and they both spend millions of dollars to make sure that our politicians in Washington D.C. keep the gravy train rolling. Meanwhile, large numbers of doctors are going broke and patients are not getting the care that they need. At this point, our health care system is a complete and total disaster.

Health care costs continue to go up rapidly, the level of care that we are receiving continues to go down, and every move that our politicians make just seems to make all of our health care problems even worse. In America today, a single trip to the emergency room can easily cost you $100,000, and if you happen to get cancer you could end up with medical bills in excess of a million dollars.

Even if you do have health insurance, there are usually limits on your coverage, and the truth is that just a single major illness is often enough to push most American families into bankruptcy. At the same time, hospital administrators, pharmaceutical corporations and health insurance company executives are absolutely swimming in huge mountains of cash. Unfortunately, this gigantic money making scam has become so large that it threatens to collapse both the U.S. health care system and the entire U.S. economy.

The following are 50 signs that the U.S. health care system is a massive money making scam that is about to collapse…

#1 Medical bills have become so ridiculously large that virtually nobody can afford them. Just check out the following short excerpt from a recent Time Magazine article. One man in California that had been diagnosed with cancer ran up nearly a million dollars in hospital bills before he died…

By the time Steven D. died at his home in Northern California the following November, he had lived for an additional 11 months. And Alice had collected bills totaling $902,452. The family’s first bill — for $348,000 — which arrived when Steven got home from the Seton Medical Center in Daly City, Calif., was full of all the usual chargemaster profit grabs: $18 each for 88 diabetes-test strips that Amazon sells in boxes of 50 for $27.85; $24 each for 19 niacin pills that are sold in drugstores for about a nickel apiece. There were also four boxes of sterile gauze pads for $77 each. None of that was considered part of what was provided in return for Seton’s facility charge for the intensive-care unit for two days at $13,225 a day, 12 days in the critical unit at $7,315 a day and one day in a standard room (all of which totaled $120,116 over 15 days). There was also $20,886 for CT scans and $24,251 for lab work.

#2 This year the American people will spend approximately 2.8 trillion dollars on health care, and it is being projected that Americans will spend 4.5 trillion dollars on health care in 2019.

#3 The United States spends more on health care than Japan, Germany, France, China, the U.K., Italy, Canada, Brazil, Spain and Australia combined.

#4 If the U.S. health care system was a country, it would be the 6th largest economy on the entire planet.

#5 Back in 1960, an average of $147 was spent per person on health care in the United States. By 2009, that number had skyrocketed to$8,086.

#6 Why does it cost so much to stay in a hospital today? It just does not make sense. Just check out these numbers

In 1942, Christ Hospital, NJ charged $7 per day for a maternity room. Today it’s $1,360.

#7 Approximately 60 percent of all personal bankruptcies in the United States are related to medical bills.

#8 One study discovered that approximately 41 percent of all working age Americans either have medical bill problems or are currently paying off medical debt.

#9 The U.S. health care industry has spent more than 5 billion dollarson lobbying our politicians in Washington D.C. since 1998.

#10 According to the Association of American Medical Colleges, the U.S. is currently experiencing a shortage of at least 13,000 doctors. Unfortunately, that shortage is expected to grow to 130,000 doctorsover the next 10 years.

#11 The state of Florida is already dealing with a very serious shortage of doctors

Brace yourself for longer lines at the doctor’s office.

Whether you’re employed and insured, elderly and on Medicare, or poor and covered by Medicaid, the Florida Medical Association says there’s a growing shortage of doctors — especially specialists — available to provide you with medical care.

And if the Florida Legislature goes along with Gov. Rick Scott’s recommendation to offer Medicaid coverage to an additional 1 million Floridians — part of the Affordable Care Act that takes effect next January — the FMA says that shortage will only get worse.

#12 At this point, approximately 40 percent of all doctors in the United States are 55 years of age or older.

#13 In America today, many hospital executives make absolutely ridiculous amounts of money

In December, when the New York Times ran a story about how a deficit deal might threaten hospital payments, Steven Safyer, chief executive of Montefiore Medical Center, a large nonprofit hospital system in the Bronx, complained, “There is no such thing as a cut to a provider that isn’t a cut to a beneficiary … This is not crying wolf.”

Actually, Safyer seems to be crying wolf to the tune of about $196.8 million, according to the hospital’s latest publicly available tax return. That was his hospital’s operating profit, according to its 2010 return. With $2.586 billion in revenue — of which 99.4% came from patient bills and 0.6% from fundraising events and other charitable contributions — Safyer’s business is more than six times as large as that of the Bronx’s most famous enterprise, the New York Yankees. Surely, without cutting services to beneficiaries, Safyer could cut what have to be some of the Bronx’s better non-Yankee salaries: his own, which was $4,065,000, or those of his chief financial officer ($3,243,000), his executive vice president ($2,220,000) or the head of his dental department ($1,798,000).

#14 Health insurance administration expenses account for 8 percent of all health care costs in the United States each year. In Finland, health insurance administration expenses account for just 2 percent of all health care costs each year.

#15 If you can believe it, the U.S. ambulance industry makes more money each year than the movie industry does.

#16 All over America, people are reporting huge health insurance premium increases thanks to Obamacare. The following example is from a recent article by Robert Wenzel

A California small businessman tells me that he switched healthcare insurance carriers in 2012. The monthly premium for him and his wife was about $400, but when he received his first bill in January of this year it was for $1,200. He hasn’t been to a doctor in years, his wife has only gone for minor care.

Apparently there is some clause in the Affordable Healthcare Act that results in health insurance firms using a new method to calculate premiums. Those who have health insurance plans that have been in effect since at least 2010 are grandfathered under the old calculation method, but insurance carriers are using a new formula for new plans.

#17 Blue Shield of California has announced that it wants to raise health insurance premiums by up to 20 percent this year in an effort to keep up with rising health costs.

#18 Aetna’s CEO says that health insurance premiums for many Americans will double when the major provisions of Obamacare go into effect in 2014.

#19 Close to 10 percent of all U.S. employers plan to drop health coverage completely when the major provisions of Obamacare go into effect in 2014.

#20 According to a survey conducted by the Doctor Patient Medical Association, 83 percent of all doctors in the United States have considered leaving the profession because of Obamacare.

#21 Approximately 16,000 new IRS agents will be hired to help oversee the implementation of Obamacare, and the Obama administration has given the IRS 500 million extra dollars ”outside the normal appropriations process” to help the IRS with their new duties.

#22 During 2013, Americans will spend more than 280 billion dollarson prescription drugs.

#23 Prescription drugs cost about 50% more in the United States than they do in other countries.

#24 In the United States today, prescription painkillers kill more Americans than heroin and cocaine combined.

#25 Nearly half of all Americans now use prescription drugs on a regular basis according to the CDC. Not only that, the CDC also says that approximately one-third of all Americans use two or more pharmaceutical drugs on a regular basis, and more than ten percent of all Americans use five or more pharmaceutical drugs on a regular basis.

#26 The percentage of women taking antidepressants in America is higher than in any other country in the world.

#27 In 2010, the average teen in the U.S. was taking 1.2 central nervous system drugs. Those are the kinds of drugs which treat conditions such as ADHD and depression.

#28 Children in the United States are three times more likely to be prescribed antidepressants as children in Europe are.

#29 There were more than two dozen pharmaceutical companiesthat made over a billion dollars in profits during 2008.

#30 According to the CDC, approximately three quarters of a million people a year are rushed to emergency rooms in the United States because of adverse reactions to pharmaceutical drugs.

#31 According to a report by Health Care for America Now, America’s five biggest for-profit health insurance companies ended 2009 with a combined profit of $12.2 billion.

#32 The top executives at the five largest for-profit health insurance companies in the United States combined to bring in nearly $200 million in total compensation for 2009.

#33 The chairman of Aetna, the third largest health insurance company in the United States, brought in a staggering $68.7 million during 2010. Ron Williams exercised stock options that were worth approximately $50.3 million and he raked in an additional $18.4 million in wages and other forms of compensation. The funny thing is that he left the company and didn’t even work the entire year.

#34 It turns out that the financial assistance that Barack Obama promised would be provided for those with “pre-existing conditions” under Obamacare is already being shut down because of a lack of funding…

Tens of thousands of Americans who cannot get health insurance because of preexisting medical problems will be blocked from a program designed to help them because funding is running low.

Obama administration officials said Friday that the state-based “high-risk pools” set up under the 2010 health-care law will be closed to new applicants as soon as Saturday and no later than March 2, depending on the state.

#35 In America today, you are 64 times more likely to be killed by a doctor than you are by a gun.

#36 People living in the United States are three times more likely to have diabetes than people living in the United Kingdom.

#37 Today, people living in Puerto Rico have a greater life expectancy than people living in the United States do.

#38 According to OECD statistics, Americans are twice as obese as Canadians are.

#39 Greece has twice as many hospital beds per person as the United States does.

#40 The state of California now ranks dead last out of all 50 states in the number of emergency rooms per million people.

#41 According to a doctor interviewed by Fox News, “a gunshot wound to the head, chest or abdomen” will cost $13,000 at his hospital the moment the victim comes in the door, and then there will be significant additional charges depending on how bad the wound is.

#42 It has been estimated that hospitals overcharge Americans by about 10 billion dollars every single year.

#43 One trained medical billing advocate says that over 90 percent of the medical bills that she has audited contain “gross overcharges“.

#44 It is not uncommon for insurance companies to get hospitals to knock their bills down by up to 95 percent, but if you are uninsured or you don’t know how the system works then you are out of luck.

#45 According to a study conducted by Deloitte Consulting, a whopping875,000 Americans were “medical tourists” in 2010.

#46 Today, there are more than 56 million Americans on Medicaid, and it is being projected that Obamacare will add 16 million more Americans to the Medicaid rolls.

#47 Back in 1965, only one out of every 50 Americans was on Medicaid. Today, one out of every 6 Americans is on Medicaid.

#48 Today, there are more than 50 million Americans on Medicare, and that number is projected to grow to 73.2 million in 2025.

#49 When Medicare was first established by Congress, it was estimated that it would cost the federal government $12 billion a year by the time 1990 rolled around. Instead, it cost the federal government $110 billionin 1990, and it will cost the federal government close to $600 billion this year.

#50 Even if you do have health insurance, that is no guarantee that medical bills will not bankrupt you. Just check out what a recent Time Magazine article says happened to one unfortunate couple from Ohio that actually did have health insurance…

When Sean Recchi, a 42-year-old from Lancaster, Ohio, was told last March that he had non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, his wife Stephanie knew she had to get him to MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. Stephanie’s father had been treated there 10 years earlier, and she and her family credited the doctors and nurses at MD Anderson with extending his life by at least eight years.

Because Stephanie and her husband had recently started their own small technology business, they were unable to buy comprehensive health insurance. For $469 a month, or about 20% of their income, they had been able to get only a policy that covered just $2,000 per day of any hospital costs. “We don’t take that kind of discount insurance,” said the woman at MD Anderson when Stephanie called to make an appointment for Sean.

Stephanie was then told by a billing clerk that the estimated cost of Sean’s visit — just to be examined for six days so a treatment plan could be devised — would be $48,900, due in advance.

By the way, that hospital down in Houston made a profit of 531 million dollars in one recent year.

So what can be done about all of this?

Well, the truth is that the status quo is a complete and total disaster, and every “solution” being promoted by politicians from both major political parties would only make things worse.

In the end, the U.S. health care system needs to be rebuilt from the ground up, but we all know that is not going to happen.

Instead, our politicians and the health care industry will just find additional ways to extract money from all of us, and the level of care that we all get will continue to decline.

If you don’t believe this, just check out what Paul Krugman of the New York Times had to say recently

We’re going to need more revenue…Surely it will require some sort of middle class taxes as well.. We won’t be able to pay for the kind of government the society will want without some increase in taxes… on the middle class, maybe a value added tax…And we’re also going to have to make decisions about health care, doc pay for health care that has no demonstrated medical benefits . So the snarky version…which I shouldn’t even say because it will get me in trouble is death panels and sales taxes is how we do this.

Others are urging us to become more like Europe.

But do we really want what they have in the UK?…

Sick children are being discharged from NHS hospitals to die at home or in hospices on controversial ‘death pathways’.

Until now, end of life regime the Liverpool Care Pathway was thought to have involved only elderly and terminally-ill adults.

But the Mail can reveal the practice of withdrawing food and fluid by tube is being used on young patients as well as severely disabled newborn babies.

One doctor has admitted starving and dehydrating ten babies to death in the neonatal unit of one hospital alone.

Writing in a leading medical journal, the physician revealed the process can take an average of ten days during which a baby becomes ‘smaller and shrunken’.

In the end, my philosophy is just to avoid the U.S. health care system as much as possible. Most doctors are just trained to do two things – prescribe drugs and cut you open. In an emergency situation where you are about to die, those may be your best options, but otherwise I would just as soon avoid the gigantic money making scam that the U.S. health care industry has become.

But just don’t take my word for it. The following is some very sound advice from Dr. Robert S. Dotson

Avoid contact with the existing health care system as far as possible. Yes, emergencies arise that require the help of physicians, but by and large one can learn to care for one’s own minor issues. Though it is flawed, the internet has been an information leveler for the masses and permits each person to be his or her own physician to a large degree. Take advantage of it! Educate yourself about your own body and learn to fuel and maintain it as you would an expensive auto or a pet poodle. One does not need a medical degree to:

1. avoid excessive use of tobacco or alcohol or, for that matter, caffeine;
2. avoid poisons like fluoride, aspartame, high fructose corn syrup, and addictive drugs (legal or illicit);
3. avoid unnecessary and potentially lethal imaging studies (TSA’s radiation pornbooths, excessive mammography, repetitive CT scans – exposure to all significantly increases cancer risk);
4. avoid excessive cell phone use and exposure to other forms of EMR pollution where possible (the NSA is recording everything you say and text anyway);
5. avoid daily fast food use and abuse (remember: pink slime and silicone) ;
6. avoid untested GM foods (do you really want to become “Roundup Ready?”):
7. avoid most vaccinations and pharmaceutical agents promoted by the establishment;
8. avoid risky behaviors (and, we do not need a bunch of Nanny State bureaucrats to define and police these);
9. exercise moderately;
10. get plenty of sleep;
11. drink plenty of good quality water (buy a decent water filter to remove fluoride, chloride, and heavy metals);
12. wear protective gear at work and play where appropriate (helmets, eye-shields, knee and elbow pads, etc.):
13. seek out locally-grown, whole, organic foods and support your local food producers;
14. take appropriate nutritional supplements (multi-vitamins, Vitamin C, Vitamin D3);
15. switch off the TV and the mainstream media it represents;
16. educate yourself while you can;

And, lastly…


Doing these simple, common-sense things will add healthy years to a person’s life and help one avoid most medical encounters during his or her allotted time on earth.

So what do you think?

Do you believe that the U.S. health care system is a gigantic money making scam that is about to collapse?

Editorial: Does Maine need to water down alcohol sales time limits?


State law now allows licensees in Maine to sell liquor “from 6 a.m. on any day until 1 a.m. the following day.” Liquor sales also are prohibited until 9 a.m. Sunday. Two proposals before the Legislature would alter the time limits for alcohol sales.

(Bangor Daily News) -A century ago, liquor — not geography or the economy — split the state into “two Maines.”

Temperance advocates like Stroudwater resident Lillian Stevens, who in 1913 decried the “home-destroying, heart-breaking curse of liquor traffic,” fought to maintain the “dry Maine” first established in 1851.

“Wet Maine” proponents at the time urged repeal of a state constitutional amendment that prohibited the sale of alcoholic beverages in Maine, in part because the ban was ineffective and impossible to enforce.

“Dry Maine” prevailed until 1934, when the United States repealed the national prohibition on liquor sales. Since then, liquor sales have become an important revenue source for state government, and Maine lawmakers have shaken and stirred the state’s liquor laws, incrementally expanding the time frames in which merlot and Millers can be sold.

State law now allows licensees in Maine to sell liquor “from 6 a.m. on any day until 1 a.m. the following day.” Liquor sales also are prohibited until 9 a.m. Sunday. The law allows certain exceptions related to New Year’s Eve revelry; there are slightly different rules for the times alcohol can be consumed on premises.

Two proposals before the Legislature would alter the time limits for alcohol sales again. LD 15, sponsored by Rep. Paul Gilbert, D-Jay, would allow sales to start at 5 a.m. seven days a week. LD 216, sponsored by Rep. Barry Hobbins, D-Saco, would simply allow earlier liquor sales on a Sunday if St. Patrick’s Day falls on Sunday, as is the case this year.

It’s ironic that the Legislature would pass LD 216 on an emergency basis “for the preservation of the public peace, health and safety,” so the bill could take effect immediately and allow Mainers to honor a saint on a Sunday by imbibing stout, whiskey or other libation before 9 a.m. But that irony shouldn’t stop Hobbins’ bill, and LD 15, from passing.

Both measures came in response to constituents’ requests, drew scant opposition and would help support businesses, albeit in a small way. But the proposals also call into question the drip-drip-drip approach to amending Maine’s liquor laws. What is the reasoning behind forbidding convenience stores and liquor stores from selling alcohol in the early morning hours?

The Community Preventive Services Task Force — an independent body of public health and prevention experts whose members are appointed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — reviewed existing research in 2009 and found some evidence that limiting the days or times alcohol can be sold prevents excessive alcohol consumption and related harms. But none of the studies were completed in the U.S.; there was considerable variation across different sites; and they all focused on businesses that sold alcohol to be consumed on-site — bars, not convenience stores.

There doesn’t appear to be any convincing reason why people should be prohibited from purchasing alcohol from their convenience store at 3 a.m., for example, but not 6 a.m. Instead of Maine banning the sale of alcoholic beverages for a few hours in the middle of each night, then revising state law to reflect changing work patterns — or in response to “emergencies” such as when St. Patrick’s Day falls on a Sunday — why not remove all state restrictions on the times when alcohol can be sold at a store?

Gilbert said he introduced the bill at the request of a constituent who owns a convenience store whose customers include mill workers with shifts that end at 5 a.m. The same arguments in support of Gilbert’s bill would apply if shifts ended two hours earlier, and Gilbert said he would not object to an amendment allowing liquor sales any time.

Unless someone in Maine can demonstrate that the state’s residents are safer because they can’t buy alcoholic beverages between 1 a.m. and 6 a.m. — or 5 a.m., if LD 15 passes — it’s time to toss away the last vestiges of Prohibition.

Oregon Drafts Invasive Gun Control Law




(Breitbart) -Oregon is the latest state to draft legislation that puts major restrictions on the 2nd Amendment. House Bill 3200’s summary states the “crime of unlawful possession or transfer of assault weapon or large capacity magazine” is punishable “by maximum penalty of 10 years’ imprisonment, $250,000 fine, or both.”



The entire first part of the bill tries to define an assault weapon. The definition will hinge upon one or more of the items in a list of cosmetic additions. Some examples include, “a shroud attached to the barrel, or that partially or completely encircles the barrel, allowing the bearer to hold the firearm with the non trigger hand without being burned, but excluding a slide that encloses the barrel.” Somehow that cosmetic addition makes a gun an assault weapon.



There has been much chatter about governments confiscating guns, and this law would give the Oregon government that power. Typically, such a law is not retroactive, but this one is applicable to those legally in possession of such “assault” weapons.



Any person who, prior to the effective date of this law, was legally in possession of an assault weapon or large capacity magazine shall, within 120 days after the effective date of this 2013 Act, without being subject to prosecution:

(a) Remove the assault weapon or large capacity magazine from the state;

(b) Sell the assault weapon or large capacity magazine to a firearms dealer licensed under 18 U.S.C. 923 for lawful sale or transfer under subsection (2) of this section;

(c) Surrender the assault weapon or large capacity magazine to a law enforcement agency for destruction;

(d) Render the assault weapon permanently inoperable; or

(e) If eligible, register the assault weapon or large capacity magazine as provided in section (4) of this 2013 Act.


That section four (4) is scarier than the previous section. If a citizen wants to register the gun, they need to agree to some eyebrow-raising conditions. These include the following:

(4) A person may not register more than one assault weapon and three large capacity magazines under this section. Additional assault weapons and large capacity magazines must be disposed of in the manner specified in section (3) of this 2013 Act.

(b) Submit to a criminal background check conducted by the department to confirm that the person is not a prohibited possessor under ORS 166.250.

(5) A registered owner of an assault weapon or large capacity magazine is required to:


(a) Securely store the assault weapon or large capacity magazine pursuant to rules and regulations adopted by the department;

(b) Allow an inspector from the department to inspect the storage of assault weapons and large capacity magazines to ensure compliance with this subsection;

But the law violates another amendment. By Oregon’s logic, in order to keep your 2nd Amendment rights, you must give up your 4th Amendment rights. If a citizen wants to have guns in his house, he has to agree to forfeit his right to privacy and allow an “inspector” into his house.

It appears Oregon is giving reason for citizens to cling to their guns and their right to privacy. The question is which state is next?

FBI employees, entrusted with stopping computer crimes, commit them too

(ArsTechnica) -Though FBI agents are held to a high standard of conduct, some fall short—far short. Take, for instance, an incident in 2007 when an FBI employee “drove past a felony traffic stop, yelled ‘Rodney King’ out his car window and momentarily lost control of his vehicle, swerving into the oncoming lane and almost striking a police officer,” according an account of an internal FBI investigation. (When cops pulled him over, the employee claimed he had yelled, “Geeze Louise.”)

Thanks to the FBI’s Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR), which rounds up accounts of these infractions and distributes the cautionary tales to employees each quarter, we get glimpses of the seedier side of life inside the agency. CNN has obtained a recent set of these memos (after obtaining earlier ones last year) that show employees sexting, breaking e-readers, viewing pornography in the office, improperly accessing databases, and even shoplifting “two ties from a local retailer.”

Given the FBI’s size, the number of such infractions is quite low, and the OPR investigations are encouraging. Still, they serve as a reminder of the need to watch the watchers. Here are some of the most intriguing technology-related offenses from FBI personnel over the last five years.

  • “During argument with spouse, Employee broke spouse’s e-reader in half and pointed unloaded gun at dog’s head while dog was sitting in spouse’s lap.” The OPR report notes that the use of a handgun was “an extraordinarily serious escalation” of the situation.
  • “Employee had a recording device in supervisor’s office. In addition, without authorization, Employee made copies of supervisor’s negative comments about Employee that Employee located by conducting an unauthorized search of the supervisor’s office and briefcase.” The employee in question then turned this information over to a lawyer and lied about the whole thing during an internal investigation. The employee was subsequently dismissed.
  • “Employee destroyed or hid electronic surveillance (ELSUR) evidence instead of properly processing it. An enormous backlog of unprocessed evidentiary material accumulated over several years. When questioned about it, Employee repeatedly lied to supervisors and hid/destroyed the unprocessed tapes.” The mishandling “negatively impacted investigations” and led to the employee’s dismissal.
  • “An employee failed to properly identify and secure materials on a thumb drive related to a child pornography investigation. As a result, the material was inadvertently viewed by other FBI employees.”
  • “An employee used FBI equipment to view pornographic movies in the office while sexually satisfying himself. In aggravation, the employee was a supervisor.”

Database dives

An entire class of bad behavior concerns unauthorized usage of the FBI’s vast databases. In a January 2013 internal e-mail, OPR said it had found only one recent case where an employee “made unauthorized use of FBI database to search for information about friends and coworkers”; that person was suspended for five days.

This is pretty tame stuff compared to past infractions. In late 2007, for instance, an employee was found to have “conducted more than 1,500 unauthorized FBI database searches” and to have shared some of that material with people outside the agency.

In early 2008, an FBI employee “searched FBI databases for information on public celebrities the employee thought were ‘hot.’ The employee also conducted NCIC searches on two employees’ boyfriends and shared the results with those employees.”

In late 2010, an employee was found to have “misused government database [sic] to conduct name checks on to friends who were foreign nationals employed as exotic dancers. Employee also failed to report his contact with foreign nationals and brought the two friends into FBI space after hours without proper authorization.” And lest you think the employee was some intern who may not have known the rules, the report notes that the employee had already served a suspension for misusing a government database and was currently “in a leadership position at the time of this offense.”

Smart phones, dumb people

Smartphones have created a new series of opportunities for humans to do stupid things involving naked bodies and cameras, and FBI employees are not immune to the siren song of sexting.

“Employee e-mailed nude photograph of herself to ex-boyfriend’s wife,” says the report on one of the oddest incidents. “Ex-boyfriend and wife reported the incident to the local police. Employee failed to cease contact with ex-boyfriend and wife after twice being ordered to do so by supervisor and Chief Security Officer.” The sexting employee was “suffering from depression related to break-up” and was suspended for 10 days.

Another employee used a personal cell phone “to send nude photographs of self to several other employees. In aggravation, Employee’s conduct created office gossip and negatively impacted office operations.” Indeed, the pictures were enough to affect “the daily activities of several squads.”

Finally, one employee used a government BlackBerry to send sexually explicit messages to another employee and did so repeatedly, intentionally, and “during work hours.”