Did antibiotics spur the sexual revolution?


 


 

(ArsTechnica) -The 1960s saw a wealth of changes in the US, from crime waves to shifts in political activism. But perhaps the most defining social trend in this era was a cultural revolution in which sex became more socially acceptable and “free love” became a mantra for young people across America.

One of the traditional explanations for the change in sexual behavior during this era was the development and increasing availability of the birth control pill; sex was less risky if it didn’t lead to pregnancy. But in the latest issue of Archives of Sexual Behavior, economist Andrew Francis argues that it was actually the decline in a different risk—syphilis—that was most important.

In the early 20th century, syphilis was a dangerous sexually transmitted disease without a particularly effective treatment. As of the mid-1940s, more than 600,000 Americans had recently contracted the disease, and the probability that a random sexual partner would have syphilis was more than 1 in 100. But in 1943, penicillin was found to be an effective treatment for syphilis. Infection and death rates from the disease fell sharply, reaching a low in 1957.

Francis’ hypothesis is that the sharply decreasing “cost” of syphilis helped spur changes in sexual behavior in the US over the next decade. The author proposes that the economic principles related to demand can also be used to explain behavior; in this example, when the costs associated with sex decrease, demand increases.

To test this theory, Francis carried out a series of regressions that compared the incidence of syphilis during this era to the rise in what he termed “risky non-traditional sex,” or extramarital sex that could put people at risk for STDs. Francis used three measures to estimate the trajectory of this type of sexual behavior for both whites and non-whites: the rate of gonorrhea infection, the percent of births to teen mothers, and the ratio of births by unmarried women compared to those by married women.

Between 1957 and 1975, the gonorrhea infection rate rose 300 percent, the percentage of both white and non-white teen mothers increased nearly 50 percent, and the extramarital birth rate jumped more than 200 percent.


These measures of risky sexual behavior coincided precisely with the collapse of the syphilis epidemic. All measures but one—the percentage of births to white teen mothers—were inversely related to the syphilis death rate. The availability of a syphilis treatment thus appears to be tightly linked to increases in “risky” sex.

However, the findings of the study hinge heavily on correlation and, as we all know, correlation does not necessarily imply causation. But the author did investigate alternative hypotheses and found that neither the advent of the birth control pill nor an increase in generally permissive attitudes coincided as precisely with changes in sexual behavior as did the change in syphilis rates.

Of course, many forces play a role in sexual behavior. Francis acknowledges that multiple factors—such as birth control, economic growth, and the inception of Playboy—probably contributed to the sexual revolution of the 1960s. However, the effective treatment of syphilis may have played a larger role in shaping modern sexual behavior than has previously been recognized.

Francis also notes that historical syphilis trends very closely mimic the AIDS epidemic of the last few decades. The rate of syphilis deaths in 1939 was nearly as high as the rate of AIDS deaths in 1995, and the two diseases accounted for roughly the same percentage of deaths in those years. Additionally, studies suggest that a similar increase in risky sexual behavior may have occurred after the development of an AIDS treatment plan, the “highly active antiretroviral therapy.”

The author’s conclusion: using economic principles to understand how the costs of syphilis, AIDS, and other sexually transmitted diseases affect behavior may improve decisions about health policy during future epidemics.

Archives of Sexual Behavior, 2013. DOI: 10.1007/s10508-012-0018-4 (About DOIs).

Department of Homeland Security Raids Gun Collector Who Didn’t Violate the Law


 

 

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(IntelHub) -New Mexico – The Department of Homeland Security has raided the home of a noted gun collector, confiscating hundreds of firearms for what they claim was possible violations of the law.

That’s right, the man didn’t actually violate any laws but that didn’t stop homeland security from raiding him and openly stealing his firearms.

Federal Homeland Security Investigation agents raided the home of Robert Adams, seizing 317 rifles and 548 handguns.

A report by local mainstream news outlet KRQE revealed the details of the raid:

Last week rifles lined the lawn of a northeast Albuquerque home that belonged to Robert Adams. Homeland Security Investigations was also busy loading hundreds of handguns into boxes.

It took federal agents days to log every weapon seized into evidence.

Four search warrants filed Thursday show the HSI investigators seized nearly 900 firearms from Adams’ home. There were 548 handguns and 317 rifles listed in the warrant return inventory.

They also searched his office that day taking 599 pistols and revolvers.

Adams has not been charged with any crimes although Homeland Security said the investigation is not over yet.

Neighbors described Adams as a gun collector and a possible licensed firearms dealer. For their part, Homeland Security admitted he had not broken any laws but that he is still being investigated for gun smuggling and tax evasion.

Doctors Kill 2,450% More Americans Than All Gun Related Deaths Combined


(Natural News) -Everyone agrees the Sandy Hook shooting was a tragedy. Lots of people subsequently exploited the deaths of those children to push a political agenda of disarming Americans by claiming “guns kill people.”

But compared to what? Swimming pools kill people. Horseback riding kills people. And yes, even childbirth kills people. (Does that mean we should criminalize getting pregnant?)

To make any sense of death statistics, we have to ask, “Compared to what?” Because if we compare deaths by firearms to other causes of death, the picture is very, very different from the doomsday fear mongering scenarios CNN and other gun control pushers have whipped up into a nationwide frenzy. In fact, as the following infographic shows, doctors kill 2,450% more Americans than all gun-related deaths combined.

Your doctor is FAR more likely to kill you than an armed criminal

It’s true: You are 64 times more likely to be killed by your doctor than by someone else wielding a gun. That’s because 19,766 of the total 31,940 gun deaths in the USA (in the year 2011) were suicides. So the actual number of deaths from other people shooting you is only 12,174.

Doctors, comparatively, kill 783,936 people each year, which is 64 times higher than 12,174. Doctors shoot you not with bullets, but with vaccines, chemotherapy and pharmaceuticals… all of which turn out to be FAR more deadly than guns.

This is especially amazing, given that there are just under 700,000 doctors in America, while there are roughly about 80 million gun owners in America.

How do 700,000 doctors manage to kill 783,936 people each year (that’s over one death per doctor), while 80 million gun owners kill only 31,940? Because owning a gun is orders of magnitude safer than “practicing” medicine!

Check out the following infographic, which can also be viewed in a higher resolution at:
www.naturalnews.com/Infographic-Firearms-vs-Doctors-Drugs.html

As the infographic explains, you are over three times more likely to be killed by a drug side effect than a firearm.

On the firearms side of things, you are almost twice as likely to be killed by YOURSELF than by someone else using a gun. But even this number can’t be blamed on guns themselves, because if people really want to commit suicide, they will find other ways to accomplish it (such as jumping off buildings or bridges).

Where is the call for “doctor control?”

Despite the statistical fact that you are overall 24.5 times more likely to be killed by your doctor than by a gun — and it’s actually far worse if you spend more time around doctors than you do gang members — there is absolutely no call in the media for “doctor control.”

There’s zero talk about making medications safer, or reducing the number of people who are medicated every day in America.

There’s no mention of the astonishing fact that surgical procedures do not need to be proven safe and effective before being tried on patients. Surgery in America is, in effect, a grand experiment often conducted with little or no scientific support.

There’s no discussion of the fact that psychiatric drugs promote violent shootings as we’ve seen over and over again across America.

Nope, the entire focus is on how BAD guns are, while the government simultaneously promotes how GOOD vaccines are! …and chemotherapy, surgery, pharmaceuticals and everything else that’s killing us en masse.

Every U.S. hospital is another Sandy Hook

Hundreds of people are killed every single day across U.S. hospitals from pharmaceutical side effects alone. On top of that, hospitals are killing people with superbug infections, fouled up surgeries, and failed heart stents, among other deadly problems.

Sandy Hook was the tragedy the government wanted you to see. But they didn’t want you to pay attention to all the deaths happening elsewhere — in far greater numbers — such as at hospitals and via pharmacies.

Because all those deaths overseen by doctors and pharmacists are making billions of dollars for the corrupt, criminally-run pharmaceutical industry and the for-profit, corporate-driven health care complex.

While Sandy Hook was mass murder, the U.S. health care system is practically a holocaust. In fact, the U.S. health care system has killed more people than Adolf Hitler – by far!

Spread the word: If we want to save lives, the most important place to start is at the doctors and drug companies. They are dealers of death who have been granted obscene monopolies by the FDA and state medical boards. Until their stranglehold on U.S. health care is finally broken, millions more innocent Americans will die at the hands of doctors, surgeons and pharmacists.

Virgina to advance an alternative currency plan in fear of major meltdown


 

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(NYUD) -Del. Bob Marshall did a little strategic name-dropping Thursday, and it had the desired effect.

For two years, the Prince William County Republican has been seeking a study of whether Virginia should adopt an alternative currency to replace the dollar in case the Federal Reserve System has a major meltdown.

His quest always ended in failure – until this year.

Presenting the latest version of his proposal (HJ590) to a subcommittee of the House Rules Committee, Marshall said his worry about a breakdown of the federal monetary system is no idle fear. There have been cyber attacks on banks, he said, and the Pentagon is preparing for economic warfare.

“My purpose is to have a Plan B,” he said, so Virginians would still be able to conduct commerce without using greenbacks.

Then he pulled out his trump card.

This year, he said, he has the support of Judy Shelton, an economist who happens to be a friend and neighbor of House Speaker William Howell, R-Stafford County, who chairs the Rules Committee. And the speaker himself has gotten behind the measure, Marshall added.

Then, with almost no discussion, the panel approved the bill on a 4-0 vote, advancing it to the full committee.

The cost of the study is capped at $22,560 – in greenbacks.

Woman Sues Police Over ‘Flash Grenade’ SWAT Raid


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(Infowars) -An Indiana woman falsely raided by a SWAT team is suing the city of Evansville and the police department after cops smashed down her door and threw flash grenades into her home in response to “threatening” Internet posts that she wasn’t even responsible for.

 

“Police came up empty-handed in a search for evidence about threatening Internet posts but only after damaging the house, handcuffing the woman and her granddaughter and seizing their computers, according to the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court at Evansville,” reports the Courier Press.

Police claim the raid, which occurred back in June, was justified due to Internet posts traced back to 68-year-old Louise Milan’s house which threatened to attack the police department, but the posts had been made by a suspected gang member who had hijacked Milan’s wi-fi connection because it was not password protected.

The lawsuit states that the actions of the officers “were done with malicious intent to cause severe mental and emotional distress to Milan.”

After smashing Milan’s window and her storm door, police threw two flash grenades into the home before ordering Milan and her daughter onto the floor at gunpoint. The two were handcuffed and paraded in front of their neighbors before police seized computers and a cellphone.

The police even ensured that a news camera crew was there to document the raid in order to “memorialize” the incident.

Alleged gang member Derrick Murray, who lived nearby, later admitted to a federal court that he had used his smartphone to hijack Milan’s wi-fi connection to make the threatening posts.

SWAT raids which turn out to target the wrong houses are a routine characteristic of America’s increasing decline into a police state.

– In October last year, police in Middletown, Delaware searching for a “person of interest” raided Steve and Jennifer Tuppeny’s house and held them at gunpoint before realizing they had the wrong house.

– In July 2010, a Minneapolis-St. Paul SWAT team raided the wrong house, shot the family dog and forced three children to sit next to the bleeding corpse of their beloved pet for over an hour.

– Police in Adams County, Colorado falsely raided the home of Jeff Fisher before shooting and killing his pet dog Ziggy when the animal attempted to run away.

– Lebanon, Tennessee resident John Adams was shot to death by cops as his wife was handcuffed in another room following another wrong house raid in September last year.

– A 12-year-old girl suffered second degree burns after police used flash grenades in executing a raid on a house in Billings, Montana last October over an alleged meth lab that never existed.

These are just a handful of cases from the last few years in what is turning into an epidemic of police abuse as a result of the failure to properly verify that such raids are targeting the right people.

How Television News Creates the Illusion of Knowledge


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(IntelHub) -In analyzing network coverage of the Sandy Hook murders, I had no intention of doing a series of articles on television news, but the opportunity to deconstruct the overall grand illusion was compelling.

 

A number of articles later, I want to discuss yet another sleight-of-hand trick. The myth of “coverage.”

It’s familiar to every viewer. Scott Pelley, in seamless fashion, might say, “Our top story tonight, the widening conflict in Syria. For the latest on the Assad government crackdown, our coverage begins with Clarissa Ward in Damascus…” .

Clarissa Ward has entered the country secretly, posing as a tourist. She carries a small camera. In interviews with rebels, she discovers that a) there is a conflict, b) people are being arrested c) there is a funeral for a person who was killed by government soldiers, d) defiance among the citizenry is growing.

In other words, she tells us almost nothing.

But CBS is imparting the impression that her report is important. After all, it’s not just anchor Scott Pelley in the studio. It’s a journalist in the field, up close and personal. It’s coverage.

Here are a few of the many things we don’t learn from either Pelley or Ward. Who is behind the rebellion in Syria? What is their real goal? What covert role is the US playing? Why are there al Qaeda personnel there?

But who cares? We have coverage. A key hole view. It’s wonderful. It’s exciting for two minutes. If we’re already brainwashed.

Coverage in television means you have the money, crew, resources, and stand-up reporters you can send out into the field. That’s all it means. It has nothing to do with information.

CNN made its reputation by coverage, from one end of the planet to the other. Yet, what did we really learn in all those years? We learned that, by straining to the point of hernia, a cable network could present news non-stop, 24/7.

The trick of coverage is the smooth transition from anchor in the studio to reporter in the field. The reporter is standing in front of something that vaguely resembles or represents what we imagine the locale contains. A large squat government building, a tower, a marketplace, a river, a skyline.

At some point during the meaningless report, the screen splits and we see both the anchor and the reporter. This yields the impression of two concerned professionals discussing something significant.

Then we’re back to the reporter in the field filling up the whole screen.

The anchor closes with a question or two.

“Denise, have you seen any tanks in the area?”

“No Wolf, not in the last hour. But we have reports from last night of shelling in the village.”

Well, isn’t this marvelous. Wolf is in Atlanta and Denise is in Patagonia. And they’re talking to each other in real time. Therefore, they must be on top of what’s going on.

“Denise, we understand medical help arrived a short time ago.”

“Yes, Wolf. Out in the desert, in tents, surgeons are performing emergency operations on the wounded.”

Well, what else is there to know? They’ve covered it.

In a twist on this performance, Denise might say, “Government officials are cautiously optimistic about repelling the invading force.” We cut to an interview conducted by Denise, in a hotel room, a few hours earlier.

She’s sitting across from a man in a suit. He’s the minister of information for the ruling party.

Denise: Is it true, Dr. Oobladee, that rebels groups in the suburbs have taken over several branch offices of the central bank?

Dr. Oob: We don’t believe that’s accurate. Our soldiers have been providing security for families in the area.

Denise: And their fortifications are secure?

Dr. Oob: They’ve trained for this mission, yes.

Cut back to Denise standing where she was standing before.

“Wolf, as the night wears on, we hear sporadic gunfire from the civic center. It’s a repeat of the last three evenings. The rebels are determined to make a stand and not give up further ground, in this war that enters its sixth month…”

Cut back to the studio in Atlanta.

“Thank you, Denise. We’ll take a break and be back in a minute to discuss the upcoming controversial film, Cold War in a Hat, starring George Clooney.”

We went from Atlanta to a street corner in the capital of Patagonia and then to a hotel room in the city, and then back to the street corner, then to Atlanta, off to a commercial, and then back to the studio for teasers on a new film. The technology and the technique are indeed impressive. The knowledge imparted is hovering at absolute zero, but it doesn’t matter. They have coverage.

It’s on the order of a magician sawing a woman in a box in half, after which the box is opened and found to be empty.

Coverage can also be simultaneous. In the middle of the screen is the anchor, head and shoulders, talking about the latest shooting.

In the upper left-hand corner is a little static scene of three police cars with flashing lights sitting near a strand of yellow tape across a front yard. At the bottom of the screen is a moving line of text recapping headlines of the hour. Coverage. Look at all that. They must know what they’re doing.

Then we have the bonanza of coverage, a story that deals cards to several reporters in the field at different locations. As always, the anchor retains control. He may have two or three reporters on screen at the same time after they individually file their thirty-second pieces.

There is a bit of crosstalk. The anchor mediates. The shipment of frozen food was tainted. Therefore, we have a reporter standing in front of FDA headquarters in Maryland, another reporter in front of the manufacturer’s home office in Indiana, and a third reporter outside a hospital emergency room in San Francisco, where a child is having his stomach pumped.

There is also a three-second clip of a lab in which workers in white coats and masks are moving around, and a clip of a moving assembly line which presumably has something to do with the production of the tainted product.

The whole story, as the network tells it, could be compressed down to 20 seconds, total. But they want coverage.

On election night, a network could simply show three or four newsmen sitting around in shirtsleeves smoking cigars and talking about the Jets for a few hours, after which one of them says, “Obama just won.”

But instead, we get the circus. A half-dozen stand-ups from various campaign headquarters, a numbers guru with a high-tech map as big as a movie screen pulling up counties in the studio, an anchor “bringing it all together,” and pundits weighing in with sage estimates. Team coverage. The “best in the business.”

 

I love hearing Wolf Blitzer utter that line. It makes me think of a guy selling expired cheese. But after all, he has a right to promote his people. He’s not just in a studio, he’s in The Situation Room. Where there is coverage.

The height of absurdity is achieved during a violent storm. A reporter has to be standing out in the rain and vicious wind, water seeping into his shoes, holding an umbrella in one hand and a mic in the other, looking for all the world like the umbrella is going to take him up into the sky.

The storm could be shot from inside a store at ground level, and the reporter could be sitting in a chair next to the cash register peering out through the window, but that wouldn’t really be coverage.

If you were to compare the anchor/reporter-in-the-field relationship of 40 years ago to today, you’d see a stark difference. In days of yore, it was exceedingly clunky and clumsy. It was one anchor and one reporter, but at least the man in the field was expected to have something to say. Now it’s all flash and intercutting. Now it’s the technique. The facile blending. The rapid interchange of image. It’s nothing made into something.

Segueways and blends are far more important than content. The newspeople are there merely to illustrate smoothness and transition. Brian Williams (NBC) is the champion operator for this mode. He is the doctor who can impart to you a diagnosis of a disease that doesn’t exist, but you don’t care. He’s a fine waiter in an expensive restaurant who will deliver three small items in the center of a very large plate and make you feel honored. He’s a golfer with such a fine swing you don’t care how many strokes he takes to get to the green. When he shifts to his man or woman in the field, you feel he’s conferring knighthood. Brian knows coverage.

There is a phenomenon that ought to be called minus-coverage coverage. Sandy Hook gave us wall-to-wall everything without exposing a single fact behind a fact. We saw nothing but Sandy Hook for two days on end, with stand-ups from every hand on deck, and yet we learned almost zero after the first few hours.

In the second Gulf War, we were bombarded with studio and field reports, but we saw no engagement or conflict that exposed both sides in simultaneous action against each other. Embedded reporters had to pledge the life of their first-born they wouldn’t break a rule laid down for journalists by the Army command.

Modern network coverage does one important thing. It establishes a standard by which other news is measured. For most viewers, if the news can’t display full technique, full smoothness, full effortless transition, it must be lacking in some important, though undefined, way.

Coverage is almost synonymous with transition. How the news moves from anchor to reporter(s) and back is Value. This is highly significant because it mirrors what a good hypnotist is able to do.

If he’s a real pro, he doesn’t just put someone in a trance and talk to him, he puts him under and then moves from one topic to another—without breaking the trance. This is a skill.

In fact, the hypnotist’s transitions are a vital aspect of the process itself. The patient feels the guidance as the scene changes before his eyes. The hypnotist (or news anchor) is presenting scene after scene and extending time without causing a jarring ripple in the still lake of consciousness.

Coverage.

Whatever a person learns in a trance state, while, for example, watching the news, functions somewhat differently from what he learns while he is awake. Trance learning tends to settle in as a lens, as a way of thereafter viewing the world. It doesn’t add content or knowledge so much as it produces a viewpoint that generates an attitude toward reality.

As in: THESE are the parameters of reality, but THOSE aren’t. I care THIS much, I don’t care THAT much. I care in THIS way, not in THAT way. I’m at THIS distance from what is happening, not at THAT distance.

To enhance this level of teaching, the major networks utilize technology and personnel in the direction of making each edition of the national news, every night, one seamless ribbon of flowing river, with straightaways, corners, turns, adjustments; never breaking, never ceasing until the last breath of the anchor and the closing music fadeout.

That’s coverage.

And the next challenge for them is the integration of commercials, so the viewer truly doesn’t register a shift of consciousness during those moments.

Some day, people will look back on the news of today and say, “How could they have altered the mood during commercials? That was ridiculous. They were really primitive, weren’t they? What were they they thinking? The whole idea is to have one uninterrupted experience.”

The blue hues in the news studio set will match up perfectly with the blues in the commercials. The sound and tone of the anchor’s voice will be mirrored by the narrator of the commercial. The pace of the commercial will match the pace of the news.

In fact, it’s already starting to happen. If you watch shows via a DVR, you might notice that fast-forwarding through commercials is a different experience these days. It used to be a cinch to stop the fast-forward when the show began again, because the colors and shapes of the commercials were so different from those of the show. But now, not so much.

The commercials are tuned more closely to the programs.

Some day, the meaning of network coverage will include commercials. The one unending stream will sustain the light trance of the viewer.

Major corporate advertisers will realize they don’t want to jolt the viewer out of the show; they want to leave him in the trance. In other words, corporations won’t be so concerned about competing against other corporations.

With these companies coming, more and more, under centralized ownership, under the control of big banks, the whole idea will be to tune the attitude of the viewer toward “corporate buying” in general.

Every huge corporation, allied with big government, will aim to condition the viewing audience to the State Oligarchy.

‘Government A Threat,’ Majority Of Americans And 3 Of 4 Conservative Republicans Tell Poll


 

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(HuffPost) -The percentage of Americans who see the government as a threat to their freedoms is at an 18-year high, according to a poll released Thursday by Pew Research, with the change fueled mostly by conservative Republicans.

Fifty-three percent of Americans now say that the federal government threatens their personal rights and freedoms — the first time a majority has agreed with that statement since Pew began polling on the question in 1995.

Mistrust of the government is also high, with nearly three-quarters of Americans saying they can trust the government to do the right thing only sometimes or never.


Conservative Republicans have grown increasingly likely to view government as a threat during President Obama’s time in office. Three-quarters now say the government is a threat, up from 62 percent in 2010. That sentiment increased to a lesser extent among Republicans as a whole. Democrats, 38 percent of whom see the government as a threat, showed relatively little change.

Conservative Republicans are now also more than three times as likely than Democrats to say that the government poses a major threat to their rights and freedoms.

Members of gun-owning households are more likely than non-gun owners to see the government as a threat, although the gap between the two has remained constant over the past three years.

While the view of the government as a threat is at a peak, unhappiness with the federal government is not unusual, according to Pew, with anger and frustration spiking among liberal Democrats during George W. Bush’s second term and more recently among conservative Republicans. Since 1997, the only time most people were basically content with the government came immediately after 9/11.

The Pew poll surveyed 1,502 adults between Jan. 9 and Jan. 13, using live telephone interviews. Respondents self-identified their political affiliations.

Do As We Say, Congress Says, Then Does What It Wants


(ProPublica) -When CBS News reported in 2011 [1] that members of Congress weren’t prohibited from insider trading, Congress moved swiftly.President Obama signed a law [2] banning it within six months of the broadcast.

But Congress is still exempt [3] from portions of a number of federal laws, including provisions that protect workers in the private sector but don’t apply to the legislative branch’s approximately 30,000 employees.

 

 

Here’s our rundown of measures Congress exempts itself from:

  • Whistleblower Protections: Congress passed the Whistleblower Protection Act in 1989, which protects workers in the executive branch from retaliation for reporting waste, mismanagement or lawbreaking. The Sarbanes-Oxley Act gives similar protections to private-sectors workers. But legislative-branch workers — a category that includes congressional staffers as well as employees of the Library of Congress, the Architect of the Capitol and other offices —don’t get the same protections.
  • Subpoenas for Health and Safety Probes: The Occupational Health and Safety Act empowers the U.S. Department of Labor to investigate health and safety violations in private-sector workplaces. If an employer doesn’t cooperate, the agency can subpoena the records it needs. The Office of Compliance, the independent agency that investigates such violations in the legislative branch, doesn’t have the power to issue those subpoenas.
  • Keeping Workplace Records: A number of workplace-rights laws — the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act and others — require employers to retain personnel records for a certain period of time. But as a recent report [4] on the congressional workplace notes, “Congress has exempted itself from all of these requirements.” Congress is also exempt from keeping records of injuries and illness the way private-sector employers are.
  • Prosecution for Retaliating Against Employees: If a private-sector employer retaliates against a worker for reporting health or safety hazards, the Department of Labor can investigate and, if necessary, sue the employer. Congress’ Office of Compliance doesn’t have that power — legislative-branch employees must file suit personally and pay their own legal fees.
  • Posting Notices of Workers’ Rights: Workplace-rights laws require employers to post notices of those rights, which often appear in office lunchrooms. Congress is exempt from this requirement, though this has little real-world impact. The Office of Compliance sends legislative employees the same information each year, formatted “in a manner suitable for posting.”
  • Anti-Discrimination and Anti-Retaliation Training: The No Fear Act requires agencies in the executive branch to provide such training to employees, but the legislative branch is exempt.
  • The Freedom of Information Act: The public can request information from federal agencies, but Congress, the federal courts and some parts of the Executive Office of the President are exempt.

In addition to sparing itself from complying with measures it has made mandatory for others, Congress is violating of some of the laws that do apply to it, according to a recent report [5] from the Office of Compliance. (The pint-sized agency, created by Congress in 1995, is responsible for enforcing a number of workplace-rights laws in the legislative branch.) The sidewalks surrounding the three House office buildings, the report noted, don’t comply [6] with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Neither do the restrooms in the House and Senate office buildings and the Library of Congress’ James Madison Building.

The Office of Compliance cites certain congressional exemptions as particularly problematic. The agency’s inability to subpoena information regarding some legislative workers’ complaints about health and safety often means the office must negotiate with congressional offices to gather the facts it needs.

“It can tie our hands sometimes,” said Barbara J. Sapin, the office’s executive director.

The Office of Compliance has urged Congress to apply the laws listed above to itself — except the Freedom of Information Act — with little result. Eleanor Holmes Norton, the non-voting delegate who represents the District of Columbia, introduced a bill [7] in 2011 to do this, but it died in committee.

The number of complaints [8] of discrimination and harassment filed by legislative-branch workers with the Office of Compliance has nearly doubled in the last two years, from 102 in the 2009 fiscal year [9] to 196 in the 2011 fiscal year [5]. Workers’ complaints about retaliation or intimidation have risen even more sharply, from 36 in fiscal year 2009 to 108 in fiscal year 2011.

Even so, Debra Katz, a Washington lawyer who specializes in workplace-rights law, said some Capitol Hill employees might be holding back from filing complaints. House and Senate staffers, she said, are often reluctant to speak up about harassment or discrimination for fear of jeopardizing their careers.

“People are very loath to burn bridges by filing a complaint or going to the Office of Compliance,” she said. “They don’t want to go forward with bringing a claim, even when it’s covered under the law.”

Meet the Contractors Turning America’s Police Into a Paramilitary Force


 

(AlterNet) -The national security state has an annual budget of around $1 trillion. Of that huge pile of money, large amounts go to private companies the federal government awards contracts to. Some, like Lockheed Martin or Boeing, are household names, but many of the contractors fly just under the public’s radar. What follows are three companies you should know about (because some of them can learn a lot about you with their spy technologies).

L3 Communications

L3 is everywhere. Those night-vision goggles the JSOC team in Zero Dark Thirty uses? That’s L3. The new machines that are replacing the naked scanners at the airport? That’s L3. Torture at Abu Ghraib? A former subsidiary of L3 was recently ordered to pay $5.28 million to 71 Iraqis who had been held in the awful prison.

Oh, and drones? L3 is on it. Reprieve, a UK-based human rights organization, earlier this month wrote on its Web site:

“L-3 Communications is one of the main subcontractors involved with production of the US’s lethal Predator since the inception of the programme. Predators are used by the CIA to kill ‘suspected militants’ and terrorise entire populations in Pakistan and Yemen. Drone strikes have escalated under the Obama administration and 2013 has already seen six strikes in the two countries.”

Unsurprisingly, L3 Communications is well connected beyond the national security community. Its chief financial officer recently spoke at Goldman Sachs, at what the financial titan hilariously refers to as a “fireside chat.”

L3 also supplies local law enforcement with its night-vision products and makes a license-plate recognition (LPR) device, a machine with disturbing implications. LPR can be mounted on cop cruisers or statically positioned at busy intersections and can run potentially thousands of license plates through law enforcement databases in a matter of hours. In some parts of the country LPR readers can track your location for miles. As the Wall Street Journal noted, surveillance of even “mundane” activities of people not accused of any crime is now “the default rather than the exception.”

L3 Communications embodies the totality of the national security and surveillance state. There is only minimal distinction between its military products and police products. Its night-vision line is sold to both military and law enforcement. Its participation in the drone program is now, as far as we know, limited to countries in the Middle East and North Africa. But in the words of the New York Times editorial board, “[i]t is not a question of whether drones will appear in the skies above the United States but how soon.” The NYT estimates the domestic drone market at $5 billion, likely a conservative estimate, and contractors will vie for that money in the public and private sphere. L3’s venture into airports, the border of where domestic policy meets foreign policy in the name of national security, is therefore significant both symbolically and materially.

In many ways, that is the most important story of the post-9/11 United States: the complete evaporation of the separation of foreign and domestic polices. Whether we’re talking about paramilitarized police, warrantless wiretapping, inhumane prison conditions, or drone surveillance, there exist few differences between a United States perpetually at war and a United States determined to police and imprison its people in unacceptable ways and at unacceptable rates.

Harris Corporation: Stingray “IMSI catcher”

Harris Corp. is a huge provider of national security and communications technology to federal and local law enforcement agencies. Though many people have never heard of it, Harris is a major player in the beltway National Security community. President and CEO William M. Brown was recently appointed to the National Security Telecommunications Advisory Committee, and in 2009 the Secret Service offered Harris a contract to train its agents in the use of Harris’ Stingray line. The Secret Service awarded the company additional contracts in 2012.

If you’ve heard of Harris at all, it’s likely been because its controversial Stingray product has been getting attention as an information-gathering tool with major privacy implications. The Stingray allows law enforcement to cast a kilometers’ wide digital net over an area to determine the location of a single cell phone signal – and in the process collect cell data on potentially hundreds of people who aren’t suspected of any crimes. EFF claims the device is a modern version of British soldiers canvassing the pre-Revolutionary colonies, searching people’s homes without probable cause – exactly what the Fourth Amendment was created to prevent. EFF describes the process this way:

“A Stingray works by masquerading as a cell phone tower—to which your mobile phone sends signals to every 7 to 15 seconds whether you are on a call or not— and tricks your phone into connecting to it. As a result, the government can figure out who, when and to where you are calling, the precise location of every device within the range, and with some devices, even capture the content of your conversations.”

According to the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC),the FBI has been using similar technology since 1995. But a recent federal case, United States v. Rigmaiden, has raised Fourth Amendment questions regarding whether law enforcement officials need to obtain a warrant before employing a Stingray. The judge in that case determined that the government hadn’t provided enough information about how the devices work, and ordered that the information collected in Rigmaiden couldn’t be used in court.

What’s especially troubling about Stingrays is that the government either won’t say, or doesn’t understand, how the technology works. The WSJ reported that the US Attorney making the requests “seemed to have trouble explaining the technology.”

And it’s not just the federal government that uses Stingrays. As Slate notes,referencing FOIA documents recently obtained by EPIC, “the feds have procedures in place for loaning electronic surveillance devices (like the Stingray) to state police. This suggests the technology may have been used in cases across the United States, in line with a stellar investigation by LA Weekly last year, which reported that state cops in California, Florida, Texas, and Arizona had obtained Stingrays.”

Harris has been tightlipped about the Rigmaiden case, but expect to be hearing a lot about Stingrays in the future.

BI2 Technologies

BI2 makes a fine pitch. Its iris-scanning technology can be made to sound very appealing. Iris scans are relatively non-invasive, there’s no touching involved so the likelihood of spreading disease is reduced, and as B12 states on its Web site, “there are no lasers, strong lights or any kind of harmful beams.” It also claims that iris scanning is “strictly opt-in,” and that a “user” (who in most cases would be better described as an “arrestee”) “must consciously elect to participate” in the scanning. (When I was arrested by the NYPD while covering a protest, the scan was voluntary — though the NYPD didn’t tell me that, a protester did. But if I refused to submit to it I could have been punished with an extra night in jail.)

Reuters reported that BI2’s iPhone-based iris scanner — called MORIS — is capable of taking an accurate scan from four feet away, “potentially without the person being aware of it.” MORIS has drawn harsh condemnation from the ACLU. The primary concern from privacy advocates is that law enforcement will deploy this technology in an overly broad way. ACLU senior policy analyst Jay Stanley told Reuters that he didn’t want the police “using them routinely on the general public, collecting biometric information on innocent people.”

MORIS isn’t just for irises; it also scans faces. In 2011, the Wall Street Journalreportedthat the sheriff’s office in Pinellas County, Florida, “uses digital cameras to take pictures of people, download the pictures to laptops, then use facial-recognition technologies to search for matching faces.” New database technology like Trapwire, a data mining system that analyzes “suspicious behavior” in purported attempts to predict terrorist behavior, makes face scanning potentially more worrisome. Trapwire uses at least “CCTV, license-plate readers, and open-source databases” as input sources, and although it doesn’t employ facial-recognition software, the incentives to combine these types of technology is clear.

Beginning in 2014, BI2 will manage a national iris-scan database for the FBI, called Next-Generation Identification (NGI).Lockheed Martin is also involved in building the database.Much of BI2’s iris data comes from inmates in 47 states, and despite BI2’s claims that iris scanning can’t be gamed, that is not the case. Experts showed last summer that the iris can be “reverse-engineered” to fool the scanners, which are generally thought to be more accurate than fingerprinting.

The usual suspects lamented in 2011 that iris scanning isn’t used at airports or borders, but security creep is difficult to combat, especially once “national security” is invoked. Just days ago it was reported that the FBI is teaming with the Department of Homeland Security to ramp up iris scanning at US borders. AlterNet has previously reported that the Department of Defense scans the irises of people arriving at and departing from Afghanistan.

The story of BI2 is important because the initial technology is superficially appealing. The company’s first projects were called the Child Project, designed to help locate missing children; and Senior Safety Net, developed to identify missing seniors suffering from Alzheimer’s. According to B12’s Web site, sheriffs’ departments in 47 states use the BI2 iris-scanning device and database, which makes it easy to mobilize support to facilitate the safe return of children and seniors.

While the desire to find missing children and seniors is perfectly legitimate, the collection of biometric data is a pandora’s box. Once it’s opened, it’s proven difficult if not impossible to limit.

Iranian Oops: US may have broken own sanctions by buying Tehran’s oil


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(RT) -There is a high probability that US sanctions against Iran have been violated by its own army. Part of the $1.55 billion in fuel the US bought from Turkmenistan for the Afghan army in the last five years may have originated in Iran.

A report by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) suggested that “despite actions taken by DOD to prevent the purchase of Iranian fuel with US funds, risks remain that US economic sanctions could [have been] violated” from 2007 to 2012.

Most of the fuel for domestic Afghan consumption comes from neighboring Iran. Because of the US sanctions on Tehran restricting the trade of Iranian oil and petroleum products, the ISAF has been required to abide by the regulations and buy petrol from eight Afghan-owned companies that deliver petroleum from Turkmenistan, which borders both Iran and Afghanistan.

The SIGAR report also acknowledged there are no plausible oversight mechanisms to make sure Iranian petroleum products are not included in future fuel purchases.

Turkmenistan is a major regional oil producer, which also trades for petroleum products made in Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Russia and Iran. Petrol vendors in Turkmenistan use flexible supply schemes, meaning that fuel of various origins could potentially be blended together.

In response to a draft of SIGAR report, the US Embassy in Kabul stated that “it is possible that if blending is taking place in Turkmenistan it could contain some Iranian fuel,” but refused to admit that fuel imported from Russia could also be blended with Iranian fuel prior to its import into Afghanistan.

All fuel imports carry a ‘verified Fuel Passport’ from the refinery, which provides information on the origin, quantity, quality, and specifications of the fuel,” the embassy explained.

“Suppliers are unlikely to blend Iranian fuel, or any other product, with other sourced fuel because of the potential that blending could cause product deviation from specification standards and potentially cause a rejection of the entire shipment,” the embassy said.

In 2012, the Pentagon reportedly spent over $800 million on imports from Turkmenistan, most likely for fuel purchases.

Iran escaping sanctions

Western sanctions have taken their toll on Iran: Tehran was formerly OPEC’s second-largest oil producer, exporting 2.2 million barrels of oil daily. The sanctions more than halved that figure, to 890,000 barrels of oil exported a day by September 2012.

The Iranian economy has lost billions of dollars in revenue, plunging to decades-low figures. The value of the national currency, the rial, has taken a kamikaze dive; the Iranian leadership, including incendiary President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, was forced to publicly admit the sanctions were having an effect.

But Tehran has quickly recovered from the US-EU sanctions imposed on its oil trade. By the end of last year, Iranian crude oil exports rose again to 1.4 million barrels per day. Most of the Iranian oil is sold to Asian countries such as China, India and Japan, where demand for energy is growing. The expansion of Iran’s tanker fleet also helped the Islamic Republic circumvent the sanctions.

The US believes that the most common trick Iran uses to dodge sanctions is ship-to-ship transfers (STS), in which large tankers leaving Iran’s ports offload Iranian oil to smaller vessels. Then, the Iranian oil is blended with that of another country to disguise it. After that, new shipping documents are issued, giving the blended oil shipment a new identity, Reuters reported.

The US has scrambled to enact countermeasures on the news that its sanctions are being skirted. Reuters reported on Thursday that the US State Department is planning to target companies that deliberately disguise Iranian oil shipments to evade Western sanctions.

Also, an unnamed US official said that the US authorities are “increasingly aware of this STS issue,” and that companies involved in covert deals for Iranian oil will be punished. Sanctions violators could be prohibited from trading with the US companies, for example.

NASA knew Columbia crew would die but chose not to tell them


 
 

 

Shuttle Columbia crew in 2003 via Wikipedia

 
 

(Raw Story) -A NASA flight director has revealed that personnel on the ground knew in 2003 that the Space Shuttle Columbia would not survive re-entry, but chose not to inform the vessel’s crew. According to an ABC News report from Thursday, when faced with the choice of letting the astronauts die trying to come home or leaving them to orbit until their air ran out, high-ranking NASA officials chose to let the Columbia crew die in ignorance of what was to befall them.

Wayne Hale, who became a Space Shuttle program manager in the years after the Columbia disaster, wrote on his blog Thursday about the meeting among ground personnel at Johnson Space Center as they grappled with the decision. Video of Columbia’s takeoff showed a briefcase-sized chunk of foam breaking off an engine and colliding with the shuttle’s wing, gouging a hole in the shield designed to protect the craft from the furious heat generated as it crossed from the vacuum of space into the atmosphere.

When it became clear that the orbiter was seriously damaged and likely wouldn’t survive re-entry, Flight Director Jon Harpold said to Hale and others at the meeting, “You know, there is nothing we can do about damage to the TPS (Thermal Protection System). If it has been damaged it’s probably better not to know. I think the crew would rather not know. Don’t you think it would be better for them to have a happy successful flight and die unexpectedly during entry than to stay on orbit, knowing that there was nothing to be done, until the air ran out?”

 

On Feb. 3, 2003, engineers and managers watched helplessly as the vehicle broke up into a trail of fireballs in the upper atmosphere, killing all 7 astronauts on board. The crew was made up of five men and two women, David Brown, Rick Husband, Laurel Clark, Kalpana Chawla, Michael Anderson, William McCool and Ilan Ramon.

The surviving children of the astronauts will take part in a commemorative ceremony to be held on the 10th anniversary of the accident on Friday.
Raw Story (http://s.tt/1zfxs)

Shocking Internal Report: Massachusetts paid out $30 million in food stamps to those not eligible


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(CAV News) – A report sure to anger U.S. taxpayers, who continue to handout money to their states and federal government, as if they are a blank checking account, found a staggering $30 million of their taxpaying dollars wasted in food stamps for people in Massachusetts, who aren’t even eligible.

How does this happen? Well one, you have someone very inept or corrupt that’s in charge of the process. Two, anything involving the government usually ends up in a managerial mess.

See you later Daniel J Curry, who was forced to resign as the head for the Department of Transitional Assistance, after an embarrassing report was released to a major newspaper this week.

Reports circulating to the Boston Herald, showed that the mismanagement was so bad that the state couldn’t even account for 47,000 cases they were shelling out food stamps benefits for.

                                     BOSTON HERALD:

The Herald reported early last month that 19,000 voter registration mailings to welfare recipients came back as undeliverable because the state couldn’t confirm their residencies.

That number was based on welfare department estimates. But after staffers hand-counted boxes of returned mail, they discovered the actual number is more than 47,000.

That means thousands of people receiving electronic benefits may have moved out-of-state or out of the country — or they may have died or gone to prison.

So taxpayers could very well be squandering their money on people who are six feet deep, behind bars, or living in another country.

On top of all of this, the welfare agency also had to admit that since 2010, they overpaid recipients by almost $28 million! Yikes.

The Secretary of Health and Human Services, John Polanowicz (Pictured Below)  said that the state of Massachusetts is working with the USDA (who actually funds this program) to work out a solution.

BI1E8968.JPG

By: Derek Wood

Source: Boston Herald

School Board To Add Armed Guards In Newtown Elementary Schools


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(CAV News) – The board of education in Newtown Connecticut has voted to request additional funding to add armed resource officers to their four elementary schools, according to reports.

Responding to the requests of parents in the community, the school board will meet with state and local officials today to secure funding for full-time resource officers to the school.

                          (WVIT)

“Our parents are demanding of us that things are made safe and secure and certain measures are put in place,” said Chairwoman Debbie Leidlein. “So we’re being very thoughtful.”

Sandy Hook elementary has staffed the school with Newtown police officers since the shooting on December 14, 2012. If officials approve the budget, the officers, who would be stationed at the schools, would be Newtown police officers.

After the massacre, the NRA advocated for schools to hire armed police officers or guards.

“After what happened in our community, I just think we should go over and above and provide a shining example for the rest of the world and protect our kids,” said resident Donna Lorenz.

By: Derek Wood

Sources: NECN, WVIT, Hartford Courant, The Hill.

At Least 2 Dead in Terror Attack on US Embassy in Turkey


 

us embassy

(TheDailySheeple) -A suicide bomber has detonated an explosive at the American Embassy in Ankara, Turkey. One guard and the bomber have been confirmed dead. The number of injuries is not yet disclosed.

According to Sky News:

The bomber’s device went off as he was going though an X-ray machine at a security gatehouse, Sky sources said.

The embassy is on red alert and staff have gone into shelters, sources added.

Several other people were reportedly hurt in the attack in the city of Ankara.

An Associated Press journalist reported seeing a body in the street in front of a side entrance of the embassy.

A Reuters witness reported seeing one wounded person being lifted into an ambulance.

No one has claimed responsibility for the attack at this time, but the area is rife with militants. According to a report on the Huffington Post website:

Kurdish rebels and Islamic militants are active in Turkey. Kurdish rebels, who are fighting for autonomy in the Kurdish-dominated southeast, have dramatically stepped up attacks in Turkey over the last year.

As well, homegrown Islamic militants tied to al-Qaida have carried out suicide bombings in Istanbul, killing 58, in 2003. The targets were the British consulate, a British bank and two synagogues.

In 2008, an attack blamed on al-Qaida-affiliated militants outside the U.S. Consulate in Istanbul left three assailants and three policemen dead.

Turkey Us Embassy Attack

Hundreds Show Up At Statehouse To Show Support For Second Amendment


 

 

 

 

 

(Union Leader) – Hundreds of people gathered outside the Statehouse on Thursday for a rally promoting the Second Amendment and the right to bear arms.

Members of the crowd withstood a brisk wind while cheering and holding signs as speakers lashed out against efforts to tighten restrictions on firearms. Several references were made to a “line drawn in granite,” which anyone wanting to take New Hampshire guns would have to cross.

Signs included phrases like “No gun law is good gun law” and “Gun control isn’t about guns. It’s about control.” There were also several “Don’t Tread on Me” flags scattered among the crowd and several people emphasized their stance by bringing weapons, some with rifles, some handguns and some with both.

“I have a concealed weapons permit. It’s an open carry state. It’s my right to do so,” said Mark Clark, who was carrying his Smith & Wesson M&P 15 rifle over his right shoulder and had a Glock handgun holstered on his left hip. “It’s just my way of saying I’m proud of what I have and I will defend what I have.”

Garrett Lear, “The Patriot Pastor” led off the rally dressed head to toe in clothing circa 1775, including a reproduction musket strapped over his shoulder.

“We have guarantees in our Bill of Rights, not government grants,” Lear said. “The founders recognized the right to keep and bear arms as an inalienable right of self defense to be protected by government rather than infringed or abridged by it.”

Granite State Patriot and Rochester 912 Project organized the rally, which was the latest since the debate over gun control has grown in the wake of the Dec. 14 school shooting murders in Newtown, Conn. President Barack Obama is pushing for tighter firearms regulation, including background checks for all guns, reinstating the assault-weapon ban and limiting the amount of ammunition magazines can hold.

Clark, a 54-year-old from Twin Mountain, said the nation already has sufficient gun regulation. The problem, he said, is the existing laws aren’t being enforced properly and the country needs to do more when it comes to treating the mentally ill.

“Taking guns away or registering guns or limiting what I can own is not going to have the impact on crime,” he said. “I follow the rules. I keep my guns locked up. I keep my ammunition separate. I do have a concealed weapons permit. I’m not doing anything wrong. I’m not the problem and why should I be penalized?”

Over 1000 Green Berets Sign Letter Supporting Second Amendment


berets

Propaganda Matrix – by Paul Joseph Watson  -Over 1000 Green Berets have signed a letter re-asserting their oath to support and defend the Constitution by protecting the second amendment rights of American citizens.

The letter, which originally featured at ProfessionalSoldiers.com, was written by “current or former Army Reserve, National Guard, and active duty US Army Special Forces soldiers.”

It highlights the fact that the Constitution was drafted primarily as a means of protecting citizens against “governmental tyranny and/or oppression,” further citing the words of Supreme Court Justice Joseph Story, who outlined the purpose of the second amendment when he stated, “The right of the citizens to keep and bear arms has justly been considered, as the palladium of the liberties of a republic; since it offers a strong moral check against the usurpation and arbitrary power of rulers; and will generally, even if these are successful in the first instance, enable the people to resist and triumph over them.”

“Throughout history, disarming the populace has always preceded tyrants’ accession of power. Hitler, Stalin, and Mao all disarmed their citizens prior to installing their murderous regimes,” states the letter. “At the beginning of our own nation’s revolution, one of the first moves made by the British government was an attempt to disarm our citizens. When our Founding Fathers ensured that the 2nd Amendment was made a part of our Constitution, they were not just wasting ink. They were acting to ensure our present security was never forcibly endangered by tyrants, foreign or domestic.”

The legal precedent of the right to keep and bear arms which includes weapons “in common use” by the military is also documented, as is the definition of the term “militia,” which as Court Justice Scalia ruled in 2008, “comprised all males physically capable of acting in concert for the common defense.”

Tackling numerous sacred cows brought up by gun control advocates, the letter points out that the 1994 Federal Assault Weapons Ban was completely useless in preventing mass shootings because instead of using high capacity magazines, shooters like Columbine killer Eric Harris simply bought more 10 round magazines and changed them more often.

The letter also documents how, despite its draconian gun ban in 1996, gun crime in the United Kingdom has continually increased, whereas firearm related homicides in the United States decreased by 9 per cent five years after the expiration of the Assault Weapons Ban.

At the end of the letter, eight steps are recommended to reduce gun violence while still maintaining the sanctity of the second amendment, including a repeal of the Gun-Free School Zones Act of 1990, which allows shooters to carry out their massacres unimpeded by responsible gun owners.

Stricter border controls to tackle the flow of illegal firearms from Mexico are also advocated, as is the return of firearm safety programs to schools. The letter also discourages the proliferation of violence in movies and video games, citing recent scientific studies which draw a correlation between desensitization to violence and aggressive behavior in young people and adults.

Amidst the Obama administration’s effort to curtail the second amendment through both executive orders and legislation, numerous top law enforcement officials from across the country have gone public to assert that they will not follow federal orders to confiscate firearms.

Last week,Gilberton, Pennsylvania Police Chief Mark Kessler promised not to enforce unconstitutional laws that eviscerate second amendment rights.

“I will take my uniform off and I will stand with freedom before I stand with tyrannical thugs,” he stated.

Read the full letter signed by the Green Berets below.

Homeland Security has advice for confronting mass murders: scissors


 

WASHINGTON — Is your workplace getting shot up by a crazed gunman?

No problem — just grab a pair of scissors and fight back!

That’s some of the helpful advice in a new instructional video from the Department of Homeland Security that was posted on the agency’s Web site just a month after the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut.

 

“If you are caught out in the open and cannot conceal yourself or take cover, you might consider trying to overpower the shooter with whatever means are available,” says the narrator in the video, which shows an office worker pulling scissors out of a desk drawer.

The video, titled “Options for Consideration,” also advises that people who get caught in an “active shooter” situation should run away, hide under a desk or take cover out of the line of fire.

The nearly four-minute-long video opens with chilling scenes from the 2007 Virginia Tech massacre, the 2009 mass shooting at Fort Hood in Texas, and the 2011 attempted assassination of Gabrielle Giffords.

But the video quickly shifts to hokey footage of office workers scampering under desks, crouching in corners and racing into closets to hide from a rampaging gunman on the loose.

“To protect your hiding place, lock the door if you can. Block the door with heavy furniture,” recommends the male narrator, speaking in measured, authoritative tones.

Other survival strategies promoted in the video include hiding “behind large items such as cabinets or desks. Remain quiet. Silence your cellphone or pager. Even the vibration setting can give away a hiding position.”

Richard Feldman, president of the Independent Firearm Owners Association, said he has a better option for consideration than a pair of scissors when confronting an armed mass murderer — a legal firearm.

“That’s why I prefer a gun, and I usually do carry a gun when it is lawful to do so,” said Feldman. “Clearly, you use whatever you can” to fight for your life, he said.

So if scissors are all you’ve got, grab them by all means.

The video is part of the Obama administration’s ongoing campaign to reduce firearm violence in the wake of the horrific mass murder last month of 20 children and six teachers in Newtown, Conn., said a Homeland Security official.

Homeland Security has operated an active-shooter preparedness-training program for years, and the “Options for Consideration” video was in production prior to the Dec. 14 shooting in Newtown.

The video was released to coincide with President Obama’s sweeping proposals to curb gun violence in America, said the official.

Obama’s most controversial proposals include a ban on military-style assault rifles and high-capacity ammo clips, as well as expanded background checks for firearm purchases.

Security consultant Andrew Scott called the information in the video “adequate.”

He conceded that Homeland Security was correct in recommending that people use scissors to attack a gunman but only in a “last, worst-case scenario.”

“Just the suggestion [to fight back] is a positive move,” said Scott, a former SWAT commander in North Miami Beach. “You don’t want to be sheep for the slaughter.”

But if you do arm yourself with shears, the narrator warns you to drop them when cops arrive.

“Put down any items. Immediately raise your hands,” is the closing advice.

Center for American Progress’ Christie Hefner: Climate change a factor in Chicago’s murder rate


 
 
 

(DailyCaller) -On Wednesday’s broadcast of MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” the Center for American Progress’ Christie Hefner said that Chicago’s sky-high murder rate could be blamed — at least in part — on climate change.

“Yes, last year we hit a record number of murders from guns [in Chicago],” Hefner, the former chairwoman and chief executive officer of Playboy Enterprises, said. “And this year we are already outpacing last year’s numbers. Now, there are contributing factors that are not under anybody’s control and may seem odd, but it is factually true. One of them is actually the weather. There is a dramatic increase in gun violence when it is warmer. And we are having this climate change effect that is driving that.”

The average high temperature July, the hottest month in both Chicago and the much-safer New York City, is the same for both cities at 84 degrees Fahrenheit. Scarborough took a moment to sardonically thank Hefner for that statement on behalf of conservative bloggers.

“Christie, can I just stop you and say conservative bloggers across America, thank you for saying that climate change is responsible for the rising murder rates in Chicago,” Scarborough said. “You have just made a lot of people in their basements of their mothers’ homes very happy.”

Hefner denied that was exactly what she said, but just wanted to point out the correlation.

“I don’t believe that’s exactly what I said,” Hefner said. “I said there are a number of contributing factors and a correlation with heat waves and gun violence. But, what I was going to say is, yes from my understanding from talking to people in the city is there has been a different approach to policing since Mayor Emanuel was elected. And there is a theory — but back to the point of we need to get facts — there is a theory that that is demonstrably less effective, and that’s being reexamined right now.”

Police constable, 28, ‘gave three-year-old girl a sexually transmitted disease when he abused her’


 (DailyMail) -A police officer allegedly gave a three-year-old girl a sexually transmitted disease when he abused her, a court has today heard.

PC James Williams, who was based at Trinity Road police station, in Bristol, is accused of assaulting the toddler in a house in the city and passing on chlamydia to her.

On the first day of evidence at his trial today a jury heard the allegations against the 28-year-old came to light when the little girl complained that she was sore when she went to the toilet.

 
PC James Williams, of Bristol, is accused of assaulting a three year old and giving her a sexually transmitted diseasePC James Williams, of Bristol, is accused of assaulting a three year old and giving her a sexually transmitted disease

 

 
James Williams leaving court today. On the first day of evidence at his trial today a jury heard the allegations against the 28-year-old came to light when the little girl complained that she was sore when she went to the toiletJames Williams leaving court today. On the first day of evidence at his trial today a jury heard the allegations against the 28-year-old came to light when the little girl complained that she was sore when she went to the toilet

When her mother asked why, she said Williams had ‘hurt’ her and indicated how with her hands.

She also claimed Williams had exposed himself to her, the court heard.

While staying with her father the following day, the youngster repeated some of the claims to him.

Williams, who is suspended from duties as a response officer for Avon and Somerset police, denies sexual assault by penetration on a child under 13.

The girl’s mother shook as she recounted what her daughter told her had happened.

As she stood in the witness box at Bournemouth Crown Court she said the first time she took her daughter to the doctor, she did not tell him what the three-year-old was claiming.

The youngster, whose anonymity is protected by law, was diagnosed with a water infection.

But she was taken back to the GP several days later where the allegations were explained.

She was then admitted to Bristol Children’s Hospital for a full examination where tests revealed she had chlamydia, a disease usually transmitted sexually, which can cause infertility.

Her mother said: ‘I know chlamydia can cause problems for older ladies with them having children and that was one of my worst fears.’

 
The jury heard the girl's infection was treated with medicine. But then two years later, tests revealed she had the infection again, having had no contact with Williams since the allegations first surfacedThe jury heard the girl’s infection was treated with medicine. But then two years later, tests revealed she had the infection again, having had no contact with Williams since the allegations first surfaced

Prosecuting, Kerry Barker said Williams and others who had come into contact with the girl around that time were all tested for the disease.

Mr Barker said: ‘He (Williams) agreed voluntarily to undertake tests for chlamydia and those tests showed he too had chlamydia, and it was the same strain.’

Williams was privately confronted about the allegations by the family, with the girl – now five – in the same room.

Witnesses told the jury that when asked who had touched her, she pointed at him and said that he had.

When asked again she repeated the response, but when asked for a third time she replied: ‘It’s a secret.’

The court heard from several witnesses at that ‘tense’ meeting who said Williams did not deny the allegations at the time.

The girl’s mother told the jury: ‘James didn’t really react.’

During the alleged victim’s first year in nursery school, staff catalogued ‘concerning’ and ‘sexualised’ behaviour towards other children.

After counselling sessions, her behaviour became more normal but she is still ‘very cuddly’ towards other children, her mother said.

The jury heard the girl’s infection was treated with medicine. But then two years later her symptoms returned.

Tests revealed she had the infection again, having had no contact with Williams since the allegations first surfaced.

The case continues.

California Democrats Announce 9 Gun Control Bill


 

gun bills

 

(KEIM) -AB 48 (Asm. Nancy Skinner, D- Berkeley) Requires reporting of ammunition sales, requires licensing of ammunition dealers, and establishes other controls on ammunition sales similar to current controls on firearms sales. “When we have safeguards in place for purchasing guns, why is it so much easier to buy bullets–the very thing that makes a gun deadly?” Assemblymember Skinner asked. “It is easier today to buy bullets than to buy alcohol, cigarettes or some cold medicines.”

AB 169 (Asm. Roger Dickinson, D-Sacramento) People exempted from restrictions on purchasing guns designated as unsafe by the California Department of Justice would be prohibited from selling or transferring ownership of those guns to anyone who is not also exempt. “AB 169 will keep non-rostered, unsafe handguns out of the hands of people who don’t have a legitimate and lawful reason to own them. By limiting the guns available for sale we can further protect our families and our communities from gun violence,” said Assemblymember Dickinson.

AB 170 (Asm. Steven Bradford, D-Gardena) – Current law allows individuals and organizations, including corporations and other associations, to be issued permits for assault weapons and machine guns. AB 170 closes this loophole by limiting the issuance of permits for these weapons to individuals only. “This is a responsible measure to ensure that we know who is in possession of these powerful, military-grade weapons,” Assemblymember Bradford said.” In the same way that we prohibit sharing driver licenses, we should not allow dangerous weapons to be passed from hand to hand within an organization. One person, one permit just makes sense.”

AB 174 (Asm. Rob Bonta, D-Oakland)) – Would begin the conversation on ending the grandfathering of existing weapons which are now illegal to purchase but are still legal to possess. “State laws on the books currently restrict the purchase and sale of assault weapons and large capacity magazines, but almost all laws only apply on a going forward basis and exempted weapons remain on our streets,” Bonta said. “With AB 174 we will closely examine this loophole and do what’s right for the children and people of California.”

AB 187 (Asm. Bonta) Would place a tax on the sale of ammunition in California with proceeds going to a high crime prevention fund that would be used in targeted jurisdictions suffering from high rates of violent crime. “In communities like Oakland and Stockton, parents are afraid to let their children play outside while gun violence ravages the streets,” Assemblymember Bonta said. “We must take swift action to get these communities the resources they need, and in AB 187 I propose to do so through a tax on ammunition.”

EXPECTED TO BE INTRODUCED SOON:

Trafficking (Asm. Luis A. Alejo, D-Salinas) – Would prohibit those individuals involved in gun or ammunition trafficking from possessing firearms or ammunition for 10 years. “If you’ve been convicted of illegally selling or buying firearms or ammunition, you should lose your right to own a gun for 10 years. Individuals can earn back that right by showing a history of respecting the law. It’s just common sense.”

Gun Safety (Asm. Ammiano, D-San Francisco) Would tighten gun safety laws currently in place to protect children. Adds a safe storage requirement when a person prohibited from gun possession is living in the home. Would also allow the Department of Justice to extend waiting period when necessary for background checks. “These two simple measures are common sense extensions of laws already in place,” Ammiano said.

Ammunition Tax (Asm. Dickinson) – Would place a $0.05 tax on the sale of ammunition, and dedicate the proceeds to an existing program to screen young children (grades 1- 3) for mild to moderate mental illness, and intervene with strategies to address their problems. “Screening young children for signs of mental illness and addressing any issues early on is the key to a healthier and more productive adult life. A limited tax on ammunition is a small price to pay for better mental healthcare for children in our state,” said Dickinson.

Pension Fund Divestment (Asm. Dickinson) – Would require CalPERS and CalSTRS to divest any existing pension fund investments from companies that manufacture, sell, distribute or market firearms or ammunition. It would also prohibit future investments in such companies. “Companies who manufacture, sell, distribute or market firearms and ammunition have no business receiving investment funds from the State of California it’s just common sense. There are plenty of other worthy investment options,” said Dickinson.

North Korea ‘under martial law’


 

North Korea has been placed under martial law and Kim Jong-un has told his front-line troops to “be ready for a war,” according to South Korean media reports.

A woman walks by a board which reads

A woman walks by a board which reads ‘Forward to Final Victory under Leadership of Great Party’ (L) and another reads reads ‘Let’s firmly arm ourselves with the patriotism of Kim Jong Il,’ in Changgwang Street, Pothonggang District of Pyongyang, North Korea Photo: AP
 

 

 

(Telegraph) -In an emergency meeting of his top defence and security officials on Saturday, the North Korean leader issued a series of orders that included the conclusion of preparations for a new nuclear test, the Joongang Daily reported.

North Korean state media has also reported that Kim ordered his officials to take “effective, high-profile state measures.”

While it has been anticipated that Pyongyang will go ahead with what will be the regime’s third nuclear test, in spite of international pressure to refrain from doing so, analysts had predicted that the blast would be timed to coincide with the birthday on February 16 of Kim Jong-il, the former leader who died in late 2011, or the inauguration of the new government in South Korea nine days later.

The reports now suggest that the demonstration of North Korea’s nuclear prowess is more imminent.

In March 1993, North Korea placed the nation under martial law shortly before it announced it was withdrawing from the Treaty in the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. The regime also ordered its troops to be ready for war.

Pyongyang’s preparations have been corroborated by South Korean government officials and sources in Beijing, with surveillance images suggesting that the mouth of the shaft has been sealed in readiness for the test at the Pyunggye-ri site.

North Korea conducted its first nuclear test in October 2006 and carried out a second underground detonation in May 2009.

This latest test is in direct response to international criticism of its launch of a rocket in December that Pyongyang claimed was for peaceful purposes. The United Nations Security Council concluded unanimously that it was a test-firing of an intercontinental ballistic missile.

Lee Myung-bak, the president of South Korea, ordered the military to be ready to make a “strong response” to any provocation from North Korea.

 

 

Iranian immigrant suffering ‘delusional disorder’ begs judge to be allowed to continue hunger strike even if it kills him


  

 
 

 
 

(Independent)A hunger striking Iranian man begged a High Court judge this afternoon to let him continue his fast even if it results in his eventual death.

The 50-year-old man, a former doctor who cannot be named for legal reasons, stopped taking food and liquid in protest at the UK Border Agency’s refusal to return his passport after his asylum application failed.

Psychiatrists say the man has a “delusional disorder” which has affected his capacity to use rational free will to fast to death and his treating doctors want the court to allow them to force feed him. An interim order has been in place since early December allowing him to be forcibly fed and hydrated but they want the order to be permanent until and if he regains capacity.

The man insists, however, that his protest is a deliberate decision he has made using rational free will.

In an emotional plea to the Court of Protection today he called on Mr Justice Baker to stop doctors from force feeding him.

Speaking through a Farsi translator he described how wanted to leave Britain but had been in limbo ever since his asylum application had been refused.

“I am currently living like a prisoner in this country,” he said. “I don’t have permission to leave this country, nor do I have permission to stay. If you place yourselves in my shoes, in the position of somone who is not allowed to leave this country, nor study or live a normal life, how would you react?”

He later added: “I have decided to go on with my hunger strike regardless of the consequences.”

Asked by Mr Justice Baker whether he recognised that those consequences “will be that you will die” the man replied: “Under no circumstances do I wish to die. I wish to study, to live a normal life. However if I am to live like a prisoner I will continue my hunger strike.”

The judge reminded the man, who says he fled political persecution in Iran, that it was not in the Court of Protection’s power to decide whether or not he remained in the country. The judge added that the UK Border Agency showed no sign of being moved to return his passport because of his hunger strike. But the man has nonetheless vowed to continue his protest.

Earlier this week, three treating clinicians testified that the man, who is being treated at a hospital in the South East of England, “lacked capacity” to decide whether it was a good idea to go on hunger strike and called on the judge to approve the continued administration of nutrition and hydration.

As the former doctor took the stand today he was questioned by a barrister representing the Official Solicitor, the government appointed official who represents in the Court of Protection those who have lost the capacity to make decisions for themselves. It is the Official Solicitors job to make sure that they protect the “best interests” of incapacitated people – which can range from those in a coma to more complicated patients where capacity is variable because of, for example, learning difficulties or mental health issues.

Much of the questioning centred around what the Official Solicitor’s representative described as the “unusual claims” the Iranian man has made about his persecution in Iran and what he believes to be the continued surveillance by Iranian intelligence agents since leaving the country.

His doctors previously testified that the man’s psychiatric disorders often took on a persecutory tone with delusions of grandeur. In a will he wrote during one period of hunger striking last year he alleged that his home and car in Iran had been bugged by Iranian security forces; that an attempt to apply for a credit card was stymied by intelligence agents; that Iranian students in Cambridge pressured him to return to Iran and see the country’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and that Iranian agents had tried to poison his food on two occasions while he lived in South London.

Under questioning, the man said that while he believed his home and car had been bugged back in Iran, he may have “misunderstood” the other events because he was under “intense pressure at the time”. He thanked his treating clinicians for the care they had shown him over the past five months but said he believed their diagnoses that he suffered from a delusional disorder were wrong.

Mr Justice Baker has called for further written submission from lawyers and said he would hand down a reserved judgement as soon as possible.

Unemployment claims rise as fragile US jobs market takes hit


 

US unemployment jobs fair

Claims above 400,000 signal a deteriorating jobs market. Photograph: Mike Groll/AP

(Guardian) -The number of people filing their first claim for unemployment benefits in the US has risen by more than forecasters expected.

Initial jobless claims increased by 38,000 to a seasonally adjusted 368,000 in the week ended January 26, the Labor Department said Thursday. The rise was the largest since early November, when claims spiked in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.

The rise was higher than the 365,000 figure forecast by economists, but the jobs market still appears to be slowly recovering. Claims above 400,000 signal a deteriorating jobs market. The latest weekly figures come ahead of Friday’s monthly non-farm figures, which give a far more comprehensive picture of the US jobs market.

On Wednesday, the Commerce Department said the US economy went into reverse in the last quarter of 2012, the first decline since the recession of 2009. The fall was driven by deep cuts in government spending, including a 22.2% cut in defense expenditure, the largest since the end of the Vietnam war.

The US’s gross domestic product shrank 0.1% in the final months of 2013 as businesses cut back on inventories and Washington argued over the fiscal cliff.

Investors will be watching carefully on Friday to see how the contraction plays out in the still weak jobs market. More cuts to government spending are expected in March as the US attempts to tackle its budget problems.

Economists are predicting the US to have added 150-170,000 new jobs in January. The US added 155,000 in December.

Earlier this week, payroll processor ADP and forecaster Moody’s said the private sector added 192,000 new jobs in January, higher than expected. But the latest weekly figures and the GDP report suggest government cuts may affect the larger picture.

Dan Greenhaus, the chief global strategist at BTIG, said the latest weekly figures were in the “normal range” given the weak but positive growth in the jobs market.

“Over time, job growth and GDP tell the same story. The economy is in recovery; it’s not growing much, although it’s better than the GDP report would suggest. We are adding jobs, just not at the levels we are used to,” he said.

County prosecutor shot dead in Texas


 

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(PressTV) -An assistant district attorney was shot and killed Thursday morning near the North Texas county courthouse where he worked, and authorities said they were searching for two suspects.

 

The shooting occurred just before 9 a.m. outside a building across from the main Kaufman County courthouse about 33 miles southeast of Dallas. Officials didn’t immediately indicate any motive for the shooting.

 

The courthouse was initially locked down, but that has since been lifted, county spokeswoman Pat Laney said. The name of the prosecutor was not immediately announced, pending notification of family.

 

Local law enforcement officials decried the shooting as an attack on the criminal justice system.

 

“This is the next level (of crime),” Kaufman County Sheriff David Byrnes said Thursday at a news conference.

 

Kaufman Police Chief Chris Aulbaugh said the shooting would have a major impact on the town and the county.

 

“Any loss of life, especially someone out there protecting the community, would have that effect,” he said.

 

Calls to the district attorney’s office Thursday were not immediately returned. AP

Poorest Americans could be fined under Obamacare


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(RT) -About 500 000 children would be left without insurance and the poorest Americans could be fined under President Obama’s new health care law because of a loophole that the administration and Congress failed to fix.

Lawmakers passed the Affordable Care Act in 2010 without taking care of a loophole that would make it impossible for low-income families to purchase health care for their themselves or their children. Under the health care law, anyone who fails to acquire insurance will be forced to pay a heavy tax penalty – including those who can’t afford their employer’s insurance plans.

To downplay the severity of the loophole, the administration is calling it a “glitch” and claiming that it was initially unable to address it because of the way Congress wrote the law. Now, two years after the law was voted on, the affordability loophole is posing a significant problem in wake of many of the provisions’ 2014 implementation.

The Obama administration initially planned to offer financial assistance to families to buy private health insurance if they cannot afford their employers’ options – but Congress did not include text for the financial assistance program in the Affordable Care Act.

Under the law, anyone who remains uninsured will be forced to pay heavy fines – including those who can’t afford their employer’s insurance plans. And the IRS on Wednesday refused to exempt such individuals from the fines.

Employer-sponsored health care plans are on the rise, but some families that are unable to afford the coverage offered by their job could be left uninsured when “Obamacare” goes into effect. In the legislation, affordable coverage is defined as costing no more than 9.5 percent of family income. But low-income workers might be unable to pay for the care offered by their employer – especially if it exceeds the affordability margin. Health insurance coverage also costs more if a worker has a family to cover, making it difficult for low-income families to also insure their children.

An average workplace plan costs about $5,600 per individual worker and about $15,700 for a family, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. Paying three times as much might not be an option for those with insufficient incomes, thereby prompting them to leave their children uninsured.

Bruce Lesley, president of First Focus, told AP that close to 500,000 children could be left without insurance because of the loophole. Many families will not be able to afford coverage unless their employers help them pay for the premiums – which not all employers do.

In order to solve the problem, Congress would need to amend the health care law, since a significant measure is missing from the text and the IRS failed to exempt Americans who are poor and uninsured from financial penalties.

“They are bound by the law and cannot extend further than what the law provides,” Neil Trautwein, vice president of the National Retail Federation, told AP.

But Republicans are already starkly opposed to “Obamacare” and would be unlikely to add new measures it, thereby leaving the Obama administration – and the people his law would cover – stuck in the mud.

The loophole would significantly burden low-income families, making the Affordable Care Act not so affordable for everyone. But unlike a “glitch”, which is usually a short-lived fault, this gap might simply thrust hundreds of thousands of Americans further into poverty.

The Most Feared Syrian Rebel Group Is Once Again Undermining The Revolution


 

 
 
 

 

(Business Insider) -When members of Jabhat al-Nusra — the Syrian opposition’s best fighting force — took control of the town of Mayadin in eastern Syria, they immediately commandeered the grain silos and the nearby al-Ward oil and gas field. 

Now, according the Reuters, the band of al-Qaeda in Iraq-affiliated rebels give children free loaves of bread if they attend hardline Islamic teachings and sell oil to local Syrian government authorities.

Residents of Mayadin, a town of 54,000 close to the Iraqi border, said Nusra has been transporting crude oil in large tankers 28 miles north to Deir al-Zor, where the government still has a presence.

And local authorities in Deir al-Zor are so strapped that they’ll buy oil off the group that their president considers terrorists.

The contradictory reality in Mayadin exemplifies Nusra as a whole:

• They are allied with the secular Free Syrian Army but want to establish a seventh-century style Islamic Caliphate.

• They execute highly effective suicide attacks against the regime but also battle other rebel groups.

• Some of its more than 5,000 members are leading on the front lines while others are hoarding resources (read: power) in remote places like Mayadin.

It’s clear at this point that the opposition needs Nusra if they’re going to topple the regime. The rub is that the group may be hijacking a rebellion initially driven by “the love of a freedom [and] the love of a country” to “establish a crueler regime than the tyranny under Assad.”

Neverthless, the bottom line is that al-Nusra becomes stronger as the 22-month conflict drags on and will be a force to reckoned with when it ends.

“The civil war in Syria is a gift from the sky for al-Nusra; they are coasting off its energy,”Noman Benotman, the lead author of a report analyzing their rise, told CNN.

Israel Using Deadly ‘Less-Lethal’ Crowd Control Weapons ‘Unlawfully’


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JERUSALEM, Jan 31 2013 (IPS) – The Israeli army is systematically using crowd control weapons and live ammunition unlawfully against Palestinians in the West Bank, signaling a widespread breach of military regulations and an alarming culture of impunity, a leading Israeli human rights group has warned.

At least ten Palestinians have been killed by the Israeli army’s use of crowd control weapons in so-called “disturbance of the peace” situations in the West Bank since 2005, Israeli group Btselem stated in a new report, titled ‘Israel’s Use of Crowd Control Weapons in the West Bank’.

Additionally, Israeli soldiers killed 46 Palestinians with live ammunition in the same time period.

“Members of the security forces make almost routine use of these weapons in unlawful, dangerous ways, and the relevant Israeli authorities do too little to prevent the recurrence of this conduct,” the report found.

When used properly, Israel’s crowd-control weapons – which include tear gas, stun grenades, rubber-coated steel bullets, water cannons, foul-smelling liquid called ‘The Skunk’, and more – are meant to disperse crowds. The way the Israeli army uses these weapons today, however, can make them deadly, Btselem said.

“The authorities must ensure that the troops on the ground obey the open-fire regulations and use crowd control weapons within the parameters that keep them non-lethal. It follows that every soldier, officer, or police officer violating these rules must be prosecuted,” the report stated.

In an e-mail to IPS, the Israeli army spokesperson’s office disputed Btselem’s findings as “biased”, and stated that the incidents outlined in the report “are exceptions to IDF policy, rather than the rule.”

“The IDF does everything in its power to ensure that the use of riot dispersal means is done in accordance with the Rules of Engagement, minimising collateral damage and maintaining stability and security in the region,” the spokesperson’s unit stated.

Still, since the beginning of 2013 alone, at least five Palestinian youths were killed by live ammunition fired by the Israeli military in the West Bank.

Seventeen-year-old Samir Awad was killed after sustaining four bullet shots near the separation fence in Budrus village on Jan. 15. The Israeli army said Awad was trying to enter Israel illegally when he was shot.

On Jan. 23, 22-year-old Palestinian student Lubna al-Hanash was shot and killed on a main road near Al Aroub refugee camp, in the southern West Bank. The Israeli army said soldiers only fired after Molotov cocktails and rocks were thrown at them.

United Nations humanitarian coordinator James Rawley released a statement on Jan. 30 highlighting his concern at the Israeli army’s use of live fire in the West Bank, which has killed eight Palestinians since mid-November, and urged “maximum restraint in order to avoid further civilian casualties.

“Using live ammunition against civilians may constitute excessive use of force and any such occurrences should be investigated in a timely, thorough, independent and impartial manner. Individuals found responsible must be held accountable,” Rawley stated.

Palestinians have engaged in non-violent civil disobedience against Israel’s policies of occupation and colonisation for decades. Weekly, non-violent demonstrations have taken place in several West Bank villages since 2005.

A handful of Palestinians have been killed, and dozens more have been seriously injured by Israeli soldiers attempting to quell these protests and through the army’s inappropriate use of crowd control weapons.

In April 2009, Bassem Abu Rahmah was killed in the Palestinian village of Bil’in after being hit in the chest by an Israeli army-fired extended range tear gas grenade. Abu Rahmah’s sister, Jawaher, was killed in January 2011 after inhaling massive amounts of tear gas during another protest in the village.

Twenty-eight-year-old Mustafa Tamimi, from the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh, was also killed in December 2011, when a tear gas canister struck his head. The Btselem report stated that despite photographic evidence proving a soldier fired the tear gas canister directly at Tamimi, the Israeli army continues to deny this direct-firing practice.

“The IDF carefully investigates complaints that are tendered, instigating military police investigations when necessary, as per the policy determined by the Supreme Court and in line with the IDF’s ethical code,” the army spokesperson’s unit told IPS.

According to Israeli human rights group Yesh Din, however, only 3.5 percent of complaints received by the Military Police Criminal Investigations Unit of crimes committed by Israeli soldiers against Palestinians and their property in the West Bank lead to indictments.

“The State of Israel is not meeting its obligation to protect the civilian population living in the area it occupied through the proper and effective investigation of suspicions of criminal offences committed by soldiers,” Yesh Din found. (END)

Wal Mart limits sales of ammunition to three boxes per person, per day.


Wal-Mart Ammunition Limit: Terms To Limit Sales Of Ammunition To Three Boxes Per Customer Per Day [PHOTO]
 

(IBITimes) -The Bentonville, Ark., retailer is limiting sales of ammunition to three boxes per customer, per day, due to limited supplies, a local news outlet said.

“In order to take care of as many customers as possible, starting Thursday, Jan. 24, all ammunition sales were limited to three boxes per customer, per day as supply is limited at this time,” spokeswoman Ashley Hardie told the City Wire.

 

Reports indicated that sales of guns and ammunition have risen across the United States since the Dec. 14 shooting at a Newtown, Conn., elementary school. The incident has also fueled a heated debate over gun ownership, in which a senate hearing has been held to discuss to issue.

Data released on Monday by the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System showed that nine of the top 10 days for firearms checks from Nov. 30, 1998, to Jan. 27, 2013, including Dec. 14, 2012, occurred since Adam Lanza killed 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School and then shot and killed himself. Lanza also killed his mother before the school massacre.

Wal-Mart, the largest U.S. gun seller, suggested to the Arkansas news outlet that the retailer is seeking to strike the right balance between serving hunters and sportsmen and ensuring that it sells firearms responsibly.

“Over the years we have been very purposeful about striking the right balance between serving hunters and sportsmen and ensuring that we sell firearms responsibly. In fact, we became a charter member of Mayor Bloomberg’s coalition against illegal guns and adopted the 10-point code established by the Responsible Firearms Retailer Partnership that goes beyond what the law requires,” Wal-Mart spokesman David Tovar said ahead of the meeting in Washington. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is a strong gun control advocate.

Hardie said that the purchase limit will stay in place until the retailer is able to resolve the shortage.

In 2011, Wal-Mart brought guns back to many of its U.S. stores after pulling them in 2006 from all but 1,300 locations as the retailer reduced products and store clutter. Hand guns and rifles like the ones used in Newtown are available for purchase at most Walmart locations that sell guns and ammunition.

Colorado students Pledge of Allegiance in Arabic sparks outrage


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(Digital Journal) -Members of a student club at a Colorado high school have sparked widespread outrage after reciting the Pledge of Allegiance in Arabic.
 
Members of the Cultural Arms Club (CAC) at Rocky Mountain High School in Fort Collins, whose motto is “destroy the barriers, embrace the cultures,” decided to recite the pledge in Arabic, replacing the words “one nation under God” with “one nation under Allah.”

 

That didn’t sit very well with many Americans, especially once Fox News caught wind of the story. Principal Tom Lopez told Fox he’s received a barrage of angry e-mails and phone calls from upset parents. Lopez said he’s getting “worn down” by the outrage and “hate” from the naysayers. He’s even been called a traitor and accused of “pushing a Muslim Brotherhood agenda to push Islam into the school,” he said.

 

“I’ve been shocked with prejudicial statements that have been made,” Lopez continued. “I’ve been shocked with the lack of seeking understanding. There’s definitely fear and suspicion expressed in these people’s minds. There’s some hate.”

 

“They claim they are outraged that this is blaspheming a real major tenet of our patriotism– which in their mind the Pledge of Allegiance is only in English,” he said of his critics.

 

But the students who recited the pledge in Arabic strongly deny there’s anything un-American about what they did.

 

“No matter what language it’s said in, pledging your allegiance to the United States is the same in every language,” sophomore CAC member Skyler Bowden told 9 News.

 

Supporters point out that Arab Christians use the word “Allah” when speaking of the same God that any other Christian worships.

 

“[Allah] is not necessarily specific to Islam and Muslims,” Ibrahim Hooper of the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) told Fox News.

 

“How on earth is it un-American to recite the Pledge of Allegiance in another language,” Hooper asked. “It doesn’t make sense unless the people complaining are anti-Muslim or anti-Middle Eastern bigots.”

 

Still, some locals openly expressed their disapproval of the students’ translation.

 

“As a veteran and a friend of a man killed defending these children in their little games they like to play with our pledge, I’m offended,” Chris Wells told the Daily Coloradoan. “There are things that we don’t mess with– among them are the pledge and our anthem.”

 

But the Pledge of Allegiance has been “messed with”– the words “under God” were only added in 1954.

 

The Rocky Mountain High CAC is no stranger to controversy. The club raised eyebrows and ire last year when it recited the Pledge of Allegiance over the school’s public address system in Spanish and French. They also plan on doing the same in sign language, Korean and possibly even Chinese.

 

“When they pledge allegiance to the United States, that’s exactly what they’re saying,” Principal Lopez told CAIR TV. “They’re just using another language as their vehicle.”

Paul Krugman Answers Paul Ryan on Debt Crisis: We Can Print Money


Paul KrugmanLiberal economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman (AP Photo)

(CNSNews.com) – Responding to House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan’s warning that if the federal government continues to run annual $1 trillion deficits we will eventually face a debt crisis, liberal economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman said Wednesday that that is not a legitimate worry because the U.S. government can always print money and weaken the buying power of the dollar.

Weakening the dollar, Krugman said, would be a good thing.

“The United States is a country that has its own currency–can’t run out of cash because we print the money. If you even try to think what would happen–suppose that investors get down on the United States. Even so, that would weaken the dollar, not send interest rates soaring, and that would be good. That would help our exports,” Krugman said on C-SPAN’s “Newsmakers.”

Krugman was asked whether he thought the U.S. was “in danger of a collapse, a stall, a crisis.”

“No, there’s a whole bunch of reasons why that’s not true. First of all … that trillion dollar deficit is overwhelmingly the result of a depressed economy, and when the economy’s depressed, it’s good to run a deficit. You don’t want the government to try and balance its budget right now,” Krugman said.

C-SPAN showed a video of former GOP vice presidential candidate Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), speaking at the National Review Institute in Washington, D.C., on dangers of debt.

“We spend a trillion dollars more than we take in each year. We can’t keep that up. If we stay on this path, we will run the risk of a debt crisis. What is that? That’s a moment where our finances collapse, our economy stalls. We will have to convince the country to change course,” Ryan said.

“The story Ryan is trying to tell just doesn’t actually make sense. There are no historical counterparts to the story he claims we’re at risk of, and of course, Ryan himself desperately, desperately is concerned about the deficit but won’t accept one penny in additional revenue to deal with it,” said Krugman, winner of the Nobel prize in economics and author of “End This Depression Now.”

“All he really wants is to cut spending. If it comes to making any sacrifice on what he cares about, which is taxes, he’s not willing to make that sacrifice,” added Krugman.

U.S. Spent $424,062 on Project Working With Muslim Scholars to Stop HIV Among Prostitutes, Gays, Drug Users in Syria


 

muslim(AP Photo)

 

(CNSNews.com) — The National Institutes of Health (NIH) gave $424,062 in tax dollars to researchers who worked with Muslim scholars to develop strategies to prevent HIV infection among prostitutes, homosexuals, and IV-drug users in Aleppo, Syria. The project was not completed because of the outbreak of the rebellion in Syria.

“I’m very disappointed we weren’t able to carry out this project as far as we had hoped, but sometimes things happen and that’s the way it is,” Professor David Seal of Tulane University, the principal researcher, told CNSNews.com. “It’s unfortunate, but human safety comes first.”

The NIH disbursed the $424,062 for the project in fiscal years 2010 and 2011.

According to the description of the project posted online by the NIH, the first aim of the project was: “To identify HIV/STI risk and preventive behaviors, mediators, and moderators that will need to be addressed in a subsequent prevention intervention aimed at groups at high-risk for HIV/STI infection and transmission, including people living with HIV, people seeking STI-related services, female commercial sex workers, men who have sex with men, and injection drug users.”

Professor Seal told CNSNews.com, “Phase one was the provider interviews, with practitioners, people that provided HIV and sexually transmitted infection service. And then phase two was actually interviewing people who were seeking treatment or services related to sexually transmitted infections and/or who were HIV positive.”

Phase three, he said, “would’ve been the interviews with the sex workers, [men who have sex with men], injection drug users, as well as the pilot team of the quantitative survey.”

 

needleHypodermic needle. (AP)

 

Researchers worked with a “Community Advisory Board” comprised of Syrian health providers and Islamic scholars to assess interview questions, obtain community feedback and recruit individuals to participate in the study, according to the description.

“The support of local Religious Scholars and health care delivery systems will enhance our capacity to successfully implement evidence-based public health HIV/STI risk reduction intervention programs,” according to the project’s description.

However, research on the project had to stop in June 2012 because of the civil unrest and ongoing violence that has been taking place in Syria since early 2011. The research team left Aleppo for safety reasons.

Since March 2011, Syria has been enveloped in an uprising against the regime of Bashar al-Assad.

The researchers never received the opportunity to interview persons of at-risk groups, but were able to interview Syrian health providers who dealt with HIV patients, as well as those seeking treatment for HIV.

Seal said it was “really exciting” to work on a project that focused on HIV prevention in an area where there was not an outbreak, making it possible to “preemptively” implement prevention strategies.

“For me, it was really exciting to try do something preemptively instead of so much of our work where it’s already too late, the epidemic is already occurring,” he said.

The project’s funding was administered by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), but the majority of funds ($412,201) came from the NIH Office of the Director (OD.) During FY 2010, the NIH gave $230,332 from the OD and $1 from the National Institute of Mental Health.

According to the CIA World Factbook, seventy-four percent of the Syrian population are Sunni Muslims; 16 belong to other Islamic sects such as Alawite and Druze, and 10 percent are Christians.

US taxpayers are set to lose $27 billion from financial bailout: Report


American taxpayers are expected to lose USD 27 billion from the 2008 financial bailout.

 
American taxpayers are expected to lose USD 27 billion from the 2008 financial bailout.
 
 
 
(PressTV)American taxpayers are expected to lose USD 27 billion from the 2008 financial bailout, as a report reveals further losses attributed to the US Treasury Department.

US taxpayers can expect to lose even more than the estimated USD 22 billion made in the fall last year, due to increased losses for the Treasury Department on sales of shares in bailed-out companies, according to a report released on Wednesday by the special inspector general for the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP).

The report said taxpayers could lose USD 5.5 billion specifically on Ally Financial – formerly called GMAC under a partnership with General Motors – in losses based on unsafe mortgages given right before the financial crisis. Ally owes USD 14.6 billion of the USD 17.2 billion in assistance it received.

The US government would also need to sell all General Motors shares it holds at USD 71.86 per share, more than double the current price of USD 28. GM still owes USD 21.6 billion of the USD 49.5 billion bailout it received.

“Taxpayers saved GMAC, and they should not be put in the position of needing to save the company again,” said Special Inspector General Christy Romero, adding that both Ally and General Motors owe more than half of the USD 67.3 billion still owed to taxpayers by companies that were bailed out during the financial crisis.

The government watchdog went on to reveal fraud related to TARP during investigations that subsequently led to criminal charges against 119 people, including 82 senior company executives.

This comes as Romero accused the Treasury Department for providing “excessive” pay for executives tied to the bailed-out corporations rescued from the financial crisis including General Motors, Ally Financial and AIG – the largest bailout recipient at USD 182 billion.

After the 2008 financial crisis, Congress authorized USD 700 billion for the bailout of some of America’s largest companies. About USD 413 billion was eventually issued.

US Establishes Drone Base in Niger, Targets Regional Militia


 

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President Barack Obama

 
(GhannaMMA) -The United States of America is planning to establish a drone base in Niger, a country sandwiched between Nigeria and Mali, two nations that have been under attack from Islamic militants.

The drone base, according to a report in last Sunday’s edition of the New York Times, will give the US military command increased unmanned surveillance missions on the activities of Boko Haram and other extremist groups in West Africa that are affiliated to Al Qaeda and other sectarian groups.

With the establishment of the drone base, the use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), which has proved successful in Afghanistan and Pakistan, the goal is to limit risks involved with the use of humans and as well improve intelligence gathering around the desert belt connecting North and West African.
The report of the planned establishment of the drone base in Niger came on the heels of international efforts to rout out Islamic insurgents from Mali.

Nigeria, which is part of the international military coalition in Mali, has so far expended $32 million on its military expedition in the Sahelian nation, just as it has so far deployed 776 troops in the war-torn country.

More troops, to make up the 1,200 contingent Nigeria is contributing to the peace efforts, are expected to leave for Mali next week, THISDAY has learnt.

In order to sustain the peace efforts in Mali, a donors’ conference was held yesterday in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to raise funds for the military expedition during which global donors pledged the donation of $455.53 million.

When THISDAY made enquiries Tuesday from the Minister of State for Defence, Mrs. Olusola Obada, how the plan by the US to establish the drone base in Niger would affect Nigeria’s security, especially the fight against Boko Haram terror, she said on the phone that government was reviewing the situation.

“I will make consultations and get across to you,” she added.
When contacted some hours later, she directed all enquiries to the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), Admiral Ola Sa’ad Ibrahim and Defence Headquarters for more information on the issue.

According to some military sources, who spoke with THISDAY on the issue, the plan has “been in the pipeline by the US African Command (USAFRICOM), especially to monitor the activities of Boko Haram and their growing links with international terrorist organisations like the Al Qaeda in the Maghreb (AQIM).

“However, it is like they are taking the decision seriously owing to the ongoing development in Mali, with Niger already providing a base for both Nigeria and other foreign troops.”

Another military source, who disclosed that the US already has a base in Niger, added that the drone base is also expected to provide intelligence and assist the French mission and war efforts in Northern Mali.

“It is part of the war efforts in Mali, which provides for both short and long-term measures as you are aware that the US already had some existing secret base in Niger,” the source said.

When he visited Nigeria last month, the Commander, USAFRICOM, Gen Carter Ham, had at the Nigerian Defence College (NDC) expressed concern over the increasing connectivity and collaboration between the network of Al-Qaeda affiliates and adherents in Africa, including the Boko Haram sect.

Ham while speaking on areas of common interests and challenges between Nigeria and US, explained that since the Al-Qaeda core has been significantly weakened, the group has simply mutated into various affiliate organisations, especially in the Middle East and Africa that are increasingly coordinating resources and intelligence to carry out their terrorist acts.

He had explained that the Al-Qaeda networks and affiliates, including Boko Haram, were changing in ways that increase threats to individual African states and regional stability, as well as to the US and international security interests.

THISDAY was also informed that Niger is strategic for the US, Nigeria and Africa’s fight against terrorism as it is a gateway between the North, West, East and Central Africa, with Nigeria’s porous northern border being of great concern.

In Addis Ababa Tuesday, President Goodluck Jonathan at a fundraiser for the military expedition in Mali, restated Nigeria’s commitment to the success of the exercise, stressing that this had informed the Federal Government’s commitment of human and material resources in the bid to recapture the country from the Islamic militants.

Jonathan, speaking at the end of the 20th Ordinary Session of the African Union (AU) Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, said Nigeria has so far expended $32 million on its military expedition in Mali.
The money, he added, was spent on troops’ deployment and logistics support for the contingent.

At the fundraiser, global donors pledged the donation of $455.53 million, exceeding by far the previous target of $50 million set by the AU.

Jonathan explained that besides the $32 million that Nigeria had spent on troops deployment and logistics, the Federal Government would spend an additional $5 million to assist the war-torn country.

He added that the extra $5 million was in response to demands for more donations.

Expressing Nigeria’s commitment to the international effort to restore normalcy in Mali, the president also stated that his administration had
re-constructed and refurbished some health facilities in Malian defence barracks, a project which he said cost Nigeria $5.5 million under the Security Sector Reform (SSR) intervention.

He said Nigeria as part of the international initiative being undertaken by the AU, ECOWAS, the European Union (EU) and the United Nations (UN), aimed at mobilising adequate financial resources in support of the Malian Defence and Security Forces (MDSF) as well as AFISMA, would not shirk its responsibility towards the global efforts to rout out the Islamic insurgents from Mali.
He said: “The collaboration between these four organisations on this initiative is a clear demonstration of international solidarity, sympathy and cooperation required for a definitive resolution of the Malian crisis which has serious international consequences.

“Specifically, Nigeria has commenced the deployment of 900 combat soldiers and 300 air force personnel to Mali as part of AFISMA. Nigeria has so far provided about $32 million for the immediate deployment and logistic support for the troops.

“Prior to this, Nigeria dispatched relief and humanitarian relief and supplies amounting to US$2 million and Nigeria has undertaken the re-construction and refurbishment of a number of clinics in the military barracks of some of the Malian Defence and Security Forces, as part of the Security Sector Reform (SSR) intervention to the tune of US$5.5 million.”

Recalling his efforts as a co-mediator in the crisis since October 2012, he said that the antidote to the crisis is the implementation of the ECOWAS road map for the resolution of the crisis.

“For this reason, the pledge (of $5million) I make today (yesterday) is a further expression of our commitment to a worthy international effort,” he said.

He urged the conference to use the funds so raised not only for defence and security matters, but also for the provision of necessary humanitarian support.

The president pointed out that the situation in Mali called for cooperation, sacrifice and action on the part of strategic partners, the countries of the sub-region, Africa and indeed the entire international community.

Chairman of the AU and Prime Minister of Ethiopia, Hailemariam Desalegn, said in his remarks that the funds pledged at the conference could assist to mobilise the necessary resources to maintain the gains of the military expedition and re-energise the political process in Mali.

So far, Nigeria has deployed 776 troops in Mali and more members of the contingent that will make up the 1,200 troops Nigeria has pledged are expected to leave for Mali next week.

The first batch of the Nigerian contingent, comprising members of the Nigerian Air Force and Army, left Nigeria on January 17 via Port Harcourt and Kaduna under the aegis of the Africa-led International Mission in Mali (AFISMA) spearheaded by ECOWAS.

However, THISDAY learnt that Nigerian troops have not been embedded with the French troops that were already in the country fighting with Malian soldiers to chase away the insurgents.

A defence ministry source further revealed that not all members of ECOWAS had deployed their troops in Mali.

‘US can spy on Cloud documents’


 


iol scitech dec 31 cloud computing pic(IOL) – All personal information stored by British internet users on major “cloud” computing services including Google Drive can be spied upon routinely without their knowledge by US authorities under newly-approved legislation, it can be disclosed.

Cloud computing has exploded in recent years as a flexible, cheap way for individuals, companies and government bodies to remotely store documents and data. According to some estimates, 35 per cent of UK firms use some sort of cloud system – with Google Drive, Apple iCloud and Amazon Cloud Drive the major players.

But it has now emerged that all documents uploaded on to cloud systems based in the US or falling under Washington’s jurisdiction can be accessed and analysed without a warrant by American security agencies.

The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, known as FISA, allows US government agencies open access to any electronic information stored by non-American citizens by US-based companies. Quietly introduced during the dying days of President George W Bush’s administration in 2008, it was renewed over Christmas 2012.

But only now are privacy campaigners and legal experts waking up to the extent of the intrustion. Caspar Bowden, who was chief privacy adviser to Microsoft Europe for nine years until 2011, said: “What this legislation means is that the US has been able to mine any foreign data in US Clouds since 2008, and nobody noticed.”

Significantly, bodies such as the National Security Agency, the FBI and the CIA can gain access to any information that potentially concerns US foreign policy for purely political reasons – with no need for any suspicion that national security is at stake – meaning that religious groups, campaigning organisations and journalists could be targeted.

The information can be intercepted and stored in bulk as it enters the US via undersea cables crossing the Atlantic Ocean.

Mr Bowden, who now works as an independent advocate for privacy rights and co-authored a report for the European Parliament warning of the threat to clouds posed by FISA, criticised the UK Information Commissioner’s Office for giving free rein to the US authorities.

The body which polices data protection laws in the UK effectively ruled that companies were right to pass information over to foreign government requests as the disclosure was made “in accordance with a legal requirement”, such as FISA.

Mr Bowden said: “Every time we make a bridge of trust, or commit an indiscretion, using a social network or webmail, think how a foreign country could use that information for its own purposes to influence policy and politics. Drafts of documents prepared online, who is in contact with each other, all of this can be captured and analysed using data-mining algorithms much more advanced than those offered by public search engines.”

His report, being considered by the EU in a review of its electronic privacy directive, cautioned that the threat of “heavy-calibre mass-surveillance fire-power aimed at the cloud” was greater than that posed by cyber-crime.

Gordon Nardell QC, a British barrister who specialises in data protection, said he was “shocked” by the powers outlined in the highly-controversial amendments to FISA. He said: “What’s different about this is that it’s a power in the US authorities to insist on real-time collection of information by any data processer within US jurisdiction. The US authorities basically grab everything that is going in and out.”

Sophie in’t Veld, a Dutch MEP who serves as vice chair of the European Parliament’s civil liberties committee, warned that European authorities must act as soon as possible.

She said:”Let’s turn this around and imagine this is not the United States having unlimited access to our data but the government of Mr Putin or the Chinese government – would we still wonder if it’s an urgent issue? Nobody would ask that question.”

Eric King of pressure group Privacy International, said: “Allowing mass surveillance, unwarranted and unaccountable, is terrifying.”

Isabella Sankey, Director of Policy for Liberty, said: “US surveillance ambitions know no bounds. The chilling US Foreign Intelligence Service Act treats all non-US citizens as enemy suspects.”

Last night, Google said: “It is possible for the US government (and European governments) to access certain types of data via their law enforcement agencies. We think this kind of access to data merits serious discussion and more transparency.”

Amazon and Apple were yet to comment last night. – The Independent

THE CLOUD: HOW IT WORKS

1 Individuals create their own files, such as written documents, contact lists or spreadsheets on a computer or smartphone

2 These files are uploaded via the internet to a Cloud service, storing the file remotely on computer servers – often thousands of miles away

3 Users are then able to access or download their files anywhere in the world on any device connected to the internet

All non-American nationals are vulnerable to having their files legally tapped into or monitored by US authorities without a warrant under the FISA legislation

STUDY: Husbands Who Do the Household Chores Have Less Sex


 
A man lights a gas stove on January 6, 2009. Husbands who spend more time doing traditionally female chores -- such as cooking, cleaning, and shopping -- reported having less sex than those who do more masculine tasks, according to a study in the American Sociological Review.

A man lights a gas stove on January 6, 2009. Husbands who spend more time doing traditionally female chores — such as cooking, cleaning, and shopping — reported having less sex than those who do more masculine tasks, according to a study in the American Sociological Review.

AFP – The road to hell is paved with good intentions, as they say: the more housework married men do, the less sex they have, according to a new study published Wednesday.

Husbands who spend more time doing traditionally female chores — such as cooking, cleaning, and shopping — reported having less sex than those who do more masculine tasks, said the study in the American Sociological Review.

“Our findings suggest the importance of socialized gender roles for sexual frequency in heterosexual marriage,” said lead author Sabino Kornrich, of the Center for Advanced Studies at the Juan March Institute in Madrid.

“Couples in which men participate more in housework typically done by women report having sex less frequently. Similarly, couples in which men participate more in traditionally masculine tasks — such as yard work, paying bills, and auto maintenance — report higher sexual frequency.”

His study, “Egalitarianism, Housework, and Sexual Frequency in Marriage,” looks at straight married couples in the United States, and was based on data from the National Survey of Families and Households.

The study was co-authored by University of Washington sociologist Julie Brines and doctoral candidate Katrina Leupp.

Men in the study reported having had sex an average of 5.2 times in the month prior to the survey, while women reported 5.6.

But both men and women in couples with more traditional household labor divisions said they had more sex.

US could attack Syria with chemical weapons, reveals an E-mail leak


 

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(Dailybhaskar)- Through an e-mail which has now surfaced in the public domain, White House’s plans of attacking Syria with chemical weapons has come to light. A report that came out Monday highlighted the exchange of e-mails where two senior officials talked about future plan against Syria.
 
Washington had approved the policy discussed according to which Qatar would financially aid the rebellious army.
 
US President Barack Obama had made it clear to Syrian President Bashar-al-Assad that it would not tolerate Syria’s use of chemical weapons against its own people.
 
 
According to reports, the e-mail was hacked by a hacker in Malaysia. US has refused a comment on this matter.

NYPD cops handcuff and interrogate boy, 7, over missing $5, family claims


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(Fox) -This kid was no killer — but some callous Bronx cops sure treated him like one.

Instead of earning himself a simple trip to the principal’s office, a terrified 7-year-old boy was hauled out of class, handcuffed like a hardened criminal and “interrogated” by police for a grueling 10 hours — all over a playground dispute involving $5, his family is charging.

“My son was crying, ‘Mommy, it wasn’t me! Mommy, it wasn’t me!’ I never imagined the cops could do that to a child. We’re traumatized,” Wilson Reyes’ distraught mom, Frances Mendez told The Post last night.

“Imagine how I felt seeing my son in handcuffs!’’ she said. “It was horrible. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing.”

The bizarre overreaction by cops came after the child had been accused of swiping $5 from another student after school.

The money, which was supposed to be used for a school trip that never happened, had fallen on the ground in front of Wilson and two other boys, and one of them scooped it up.

Wilson was falsely accused of taking it, and he scuffled with one of the kids.

Officers showed up at PS X114 on Dec. 4 at about 10:20 a.m., and handcuffed and held Wilson in a room there for four hours. They then hauled him off to the 44th Precinct station house for another six hours of interrogation and verbal abuse, according to a $250 million claim against the city and the NYPD.

The boy protested his innocence, to no avail.