Congress Planning To Debate CISPA Behind Closed Doors; No Public Scrutiny Allowed


(TechDirt) -We’ve been hearing for a while that when the planned markup occurs next week for CISPA, that the House Intelligence Committee is intending to hold a closed markup, basically hiding the discussion and the possible amendments from the public. There is no good reason for this. The Intelligence Committee will claim, of course, that it needs to do this so that confidential information can be discussed in debating the markup, but that’s hogwash. There are numerous concerns with the bill that can and should be addressed publicly. If there are key concerns about classified info getting out, that’s easy enough to avoid, since so much that CISPA touches on has nothing to do with classified info — and whatever comes up can be dealt with appropriately.

The truth is that this is yet another way to try to hide from the public on this issue. Congress doesn’t want an open discussion on the many problems with CISPA, so it does what it does best: try to hide things away and rush them through when (hopefully) not enough people are looking. It makes you wonder just what CISPA’s supporters are so worried about. Congress is supposed to work for the public, not hide things away from the public. This isn’t a situation where they’re discussing classified info or plans — but merely a bill focused on information sharing between the government and private companies. Any markup on CISPA needs to be public.

US law says no ‘oil’ spilled in Arkansas, exempting Exxon from cleanup dues

(RT) -The central Arkansas spill caused by Exxon’s aging Pegasus pipeline has reportedly unleashed 10,000 barrels of Canadian heavy crude – but a technicality says it’s not oil, letting the energy giant off the hook from paying into a national cleanup fund.

Legally speaking, diluted bitumen like the heavy crude that’s overrun Mayflower, Arkansas, is not classified as ‘oil’. And it’s that very distinction that exempts Exxon from contributing to the government’s oil spillage cleanup fund.

ExxonMobil has already confirmed that the compromised pipeline was transporting “low-quality Wabasca Heavy crude” from Canada’s Alberta region. That particular form of crude contains large quantities of bitumen – a “thick, sticky, black semi-solid form of petroleum which is transported in a diluted form (dilbit) as it makes its way from Canada to US refineries,” explains Oil Change International, which has brought attention on the strange legal exemption.

Companies that transport oil are required to pay $.08 per barrel into the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund. The cash is used by the US government to respond to oil spills. But there’s a catch – Exxon is exempt from paying into the fund, because its pipelines aren’t considered to be carrying “conventional oil.” However, it’s that very fund that is responsible for cleaning up at least part of Exxon’s mess.

“Exxon, like all companies shipping toxic tar sands, doesn’t have to pay into the fund that will cover most of the clean up costs for the pipeline’s inevitable spills,” Oil Change International claimed on Tuesday.

RT has contacted Exxon regarding just how much of the cleanup will be paid for by the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund, and is currently waiting for a reply.

Spilled crude oil is seen in a drainage ditch near Starlite Road in Mayflower, Arkansas March 31, 2013 (Reuters / Jacob Slaton)

Spilled crude oil is seen in a drainage ditch near Starlite Road in Mayflower, Arkansas March 31, 2013 (Reuters / Jacob Slaton)

The strange exemption of heavy bitumen crude from classification as oil dates back to a time when the extraction of tar sands on a large scale was thought improbable with technology available at the time. However, while oil companies developed the means to transform Canadian tar sands into a booming energy sector, the legal definition of oil remained the same.

Money from that same fund has already helped to clean up another spill caused by a ruptured pipeline. In 2010, more than 1 million barrels of diluted bitumen (crude oil) were spilled into the Kalamazoo River. To make matters worse, unlike conventional crude oil, bitumen heavy crude sinks. The ensuing environmental impact has made that Michigan spill the most expensive in US history, as toxic substances seeped into the surrounding soil.

There is also the fear that bitumen heavy crude could be more corrosive to pipelines than conventional crude. Lorne Stockman, research director at Oil Change International, told ThinkProgress that it’s past time for the law to be changed:

The question is why we should continue this exemption given that it’s clear tar sands oil is more likely to spill because it’s more corrosive… and more and more tar sand is coming into the US.”

For its part the oil industry disputes the claim, and has produced scientific impact research that does not reflect higher corrosion by transporting bitumen heavy crude.

Judge Allen Dodson of Arkansas’ Faulkner County seemed to reflect the concerns of those impacted by the latest spill of heavy bitumen crude, saying: “Crude oil is crude oil. None of it is real good to touch.”

Cost of Food Stamp Fraud More Than Doubles In Three Years


(CNSnews) – In 2012, a U.S. Department of Agriculture official said that food stamp fraud totals $750 million each year – a number that more than doubles the cost of trafficking reported in a 2006- 2008 USDA study.

Kevin Concannon, U.S. Department of Agriculture undersecretary for food, nutrition and consumer services, told the Huffington Post last year that food stamp fraud totals around $750 million each year.

The $750 million number is more than double the amount in total dollars of fraud detected annually in a 2006-2008 study on trafficking – a type of fraud that involves selling Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits to food retailers for cents on the dollar.

“This is $750 million that isn’t being used to provide food to individuals and families and that issue isn’t lost on us. We want to maintain the confidence of American taxpayers because everyone is challenged in this economy – the payers as well as the folks who are benefiting from the program,” Concannon said. reached out to the USDA to verify this number. A spokesperson stated via email, “In 2011, program costs totaled $75.7 billion. Using the most recent data on trafficking available, USDA estimated that trafficking would be 1 percent of $75 billion, or approximately $750 million.”

This number is $420 million more per year than a report released in March of 2011 that wrote on fraud within the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) from 2006-2008.

“Trafficking diverted an estimated $330 million annually from SNAP benefits – or about one cent of each SNAP dollar – between 2006 and 2008. About 8.2 percent of all stores trafficked,” states the Extent of Trafficking in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (2006-2008).

That’s an increase from $330 million annually in 2008 to $750 million in 2011. The “USDA doesn’t tolerate fraud which is why we are aggressively strengthening our anti-fraud policies and tactics,” said the USDA, noting the rate of fraud is at 1 percent of total expenditures. previously reported that in January 2009 there were 31,939,110 Americans receiving food stamps.  As of November 2012, there were 47,692,896Americans enrolled, an increase of 49.3 percent.

CO2 myth busted: Why we need more carbon dioxide to grow food and forests


(NaturalNews) If you talk to the global warming crowd, carbon dioxide — CO2 — is the enemy of mankind. Any and all creation of CO2 is bad for the planet, we’re told, and its production must be strictly limited in order to save the world.

But what if that wasn’t true? What if CO2 were actually a planet-saving nutrient that could multiply food production rates and feed the world more nutritious, healthy plants?

CO2 is a vital nutrient for food crops

As it turns out, CO2 is desperately needed by food crops, and right now there is a severe shortage of CO2 on the planet compared to what would be optimum for plants. Greenhouse operators are actually buying carbon dioxide and injecting it into their greenhouses in order to maximize plant growth.

The science on this is irrefutable. As just one example, the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food says:

CO2 increases productivity through improved plant growth and vigour. Some ways in which productivity is increased by CO2 include earlier flowering, higher fruit yields, reduced bud abortion in roses, improved stem strength and flower size. Growers should regard CO2 as a nutrient.

If you want to understand why CO2 is an essential nutrient for food crop growth, check out this informative slide show. It explains that “CO2 may be repidly depleted during crop production” daylight hours, because the plants pull all the CO2 out of the air and use it in photosynthesis.

The CO2 found in modern-day atmosphere is 340ppm. But food crops would grow far faster if the concentration of CO2 were closer to 1000ppm, or roughly 300% higher than current levels. In fact, most greenhouse plant production causes a “CO2 depletion” to happen, shutting down photosynthesis and limiting food production. As the “Carbon Dioxide in Greenhouses” fact sheet explains:

Ambient CO2 level in outside air is about 340 ppm by volume. All plants grow well at this level but as CO2 levels are raised by 1,000 ppm photosynthesis increases proportionately resulting in more sugars and carbohydrates available for plant growth. Any actively growing crop in a tightly clad greenhouse with little or no ventilation can readily reduce the CO2 level during the day to as low as 200 ppm.

Thus, greenhouse plants are “running out” of CO2. They are starving for it. And when you add it to food crops, you get higher yields, improved taste, shorter flowering times, enhanced pest resistance and other benefits.

Why we should pump carbon dioxide into greenhouses

This brings up an obvious answer for what to do with all the CO2 produced by power plants, office buildings and even fitness centers where people exhale vast quantities of CO2. The answer is to build adjacent greenhouses and pump the CO2 into the greenhouses.

Every coal-fired power plant, in other words, should have a vast array of greenhouses surrounding it. Most of what you see emitted from power plant smokestacks is water vapor and CO2, both essential nutrients for rapid growth of food crops. By diverting carbon dioxide and water into greenhouses, the problem of emissions is instantly solved because the plants update the CO2 and use it for photosynthesis, thus “sequestering” the CO2 while rapidly growing food crops. It also happens to produce oxygen as a “waste product” which can be released into the atmosphere, (slightly) upping the oxygen level of the air we breathe.

This is a brilliant solution because humans want to live on a world with low CO2 that supports frozen ice caps in order to keep ocean water levels low, but they want to eat a volume of food that requires high CO2 for production. The answer is to concentrate CO2 into greenhouses where food production is multiplied by CO2 nutrition.

I’ll bet you’ve never heard Al Gore talk about CO2 as “nutrition.” He declares it a pollutant and wants to tax you for producing it. But CO2 is actually a key nutritive gas for food crops. Without carbon dioxide, we would all have starved to death by now.

Shutting down power plants to destroy America’s power infrastructure

The U.S. government’s solution to power plant emissions, however, is to just shut down coal-fired power plants, causing rolling blackouts across the USA, especially during hot summer days. The EPA has forced hundreds of power plants to shut down across the USA, achieving a loss of power infrastructure that vastly exceeds what would even be possible by an enemy invasion of high-altitude warplanes dropping bombs.

The EPA, under the excuse of “saving the planet,” is destroying America’s power infrastructure and leading our nation into a third-world scenario where power availability is dicey and unsustained. It seems to be just one part of the overall plan to gut America’s economy, offshore millions of jobs, put everybody on welfare and destroy small businesses.

But what if we harnessed coal-fired power plants instead of shutting them down? What if we used them as “CO2 generators” that fed CO2 into vast greenhouse operations that produced organic, high-growth foods that could feed the nation? Coal-fired power plants can produce both electricity and food nutrition at the same time.

Better yet, if you combine this concept with aquaponics, you get simultaneous production of plants and fish while using no soil, no GMOs and one-tenth the water of conventional agriculture.

See, the solutions to all our problems already exist. The only reason we are suffering as a nation is because political puppets try to brainwash us into believing complete falsehoods like, “carbon dioxide is a dangerous pollutant” or “the people don’t need healthy foods; they need medications and vaccines.” When societies believe falsehoods, they crumble and collapse.

That’s where America is headed, of course. And it’s all being accelerated by deceptive bureaucrats who want to convince you that growing real food is bad and we should all be punished for exhaling carbon dioxide, an essential nutrient for food crops. Carbon dioxide is not the enemy it’s been made out to be. It’s actually plant nutrition that helps regrow rainforests, food crops and wetlands. In fact, higher CO2 levels in the atmosphere would make the planet more lush and abundant in terms of plant life, forests, trees and food crops.

Are They Nuts!? IMF Proposes $1.40 a Gallon Gas Tax on US Drivers




(TheDailySheeple)The national average for a gallon of gasoline is currently at $3.65. On top of that sky-high price, the International Monetary Fund has now proposed that the U.S. should impose a tax of $1.40 per gallon in order to pay for social programs around the world and help the environment.

Neil Cavuto discussed this proposal with FBN’s Charles Payne, who said sometimes you hear things and you just have to ask, “Are you nuts!?”




Communists Stand in Defiance of Bill of Rights

( The communist insurgents within the United States continue their push to disarm we American nationals, even to the point of presenting poll numbers which have been proven to be false via their own previous admissions.  Captain Mark Kelly, the husband of ex-Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, was making the rounds over the weekend, spouting his sedition while trying to present himself as some kind of American hero.

Let’s look at this logically and ask the question. Does the government grant the people their rights?  Was the Bill of Rights written by the government to outline the privileges they were to bestow upon us, said privileges of course to be revoked, altered, or regulated at the government’s whim?

This is the position the government would like to establish.  It is however absolutely a fiction.  This government did not grant us our rights, as all power within this nation resides in the people.  We granted the government limited power, which they have distorted.  Our rights are inalienable, they cannot be removed as we are born with them and they stay with us until our deaths.

The 2nd Article to the Bill of Rights states in part: “The right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”  This is an absolute statement and there is no way it can be misconstrued.

Infringe is defined as: “Act so as to limit or undermine; encroach on”, therefore any government action that alters, in the smallest degree, any American nationals right to arm, as he or she sees fit, is by definition an infringement and is not law, but rather an act of sedition.

The infringements that have been levied upon our Bill of Rights are too numerous to count.  These infringements have in fact brought us to the precipice of slavery.  The only thing standing in the way of a complete takeover of the people by the government is our possession of our firearms which have not yet been made a part of the infringements.

This is not just about our 2nd Article right.  This is about our freedom and liberty,  A person who is governed by another person is not free.  This is why our Republic emphasizes self governess of, by, and for the individual.

Mark Kelly spouted the lie that 92% of the American people support universalbackground checks, which can only be accomplished through universal registration.  Again, this is a lie, but even if it were not, it would not matter.  If 99.999% supported it, no one of us can alter the rights of another.

Our employees in the government are forbidden by law to advocate in any way to alter our Bill of Rights. The 1934 Gun Control Act was and is an infringement, and tell me how bold would these actors within this police state be in attacking our homes, if we still had our machine guns and hand grenades?  The 1968 Gun Control Act was and is an infringement, as the 2nd Article to the Bill of Rights does not say “the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed except for those who are felons. “

These communists are parasites of the lowest degree and have sleazed their way into our lives in taking our kindness for weakness, said kindness fostered in reality via stupidity as the most feared threat to our safety is an armed government wielding tyranny over an unarmed population.

These present infringements have been put forth for no other reason than to segment another portion of our population to be without their inalienable rights.  And with the new mental health aspect, hell you do not even have to be accused of harming anyone.  Now, instead of being dispossessed of our rights via conviction, which again is unconstitutional, we are to be disarmed for what could happen: an ‘if’ or a ‘maybe’.

We must stand firm in our defiance of universal background check registration and let these communists know that not only are they going to cease and desist in their attempt at further infringement, but we demand that all past infringements be removed as a precursor to their trials for sedition.

God bless the Republic, death to the international corporate mafia, we shall prevail.

The Anger Phase Of Humanity Is Coming

Mandatory Gun Insurance

It took “conservative” Republicans to trot out mandatory and market-based health insurance in the same mouthful. insurance 1Don’t ever forget to thank them for this.

Well, it’s time for the next step: Mandatory guninsurance –  also “market based” and “incentivized,” of course.

Here it comes, directly from one of the insurance Mafia’s chief consiglieries, Robert Hartwig. He is president of something called the Insurance Information Institute – which is an outfit funded by the insurance Mafia for the purpose of spewing propaganda favorable to the insurance Mafia and to wheedle for more laws that extort fresh “customers” for the insurance Mafia:

Mandatory gun insurance, he says, would “. . . (cover) individuals whose person or property was in some way injured or damaged as a result of the use of a firearm.”

What Hartwig avoids mentioning is the guns that will be pointed at gun owners who decline to be “covered.”

But why would anyone decline such a valuable “service”?insurance shyster

Perhaps so that they can afford to keep the gun. Or even buy one in the first place.

And here we come to the true object of this enterprise: To make the legal ownership of guns progressively more expensive, so that within a period of years, very few people except the affluent elites (and eventually, perhaps not even they) will be able to legally own guns. No registration – or confiscation (as such) will be needed. The public – most of it – will be disarmed via being priced out of the “market” using “incentives” provided by the insurance 3

Or they will be criminalized – by the government – for not having bought the required insurance. Exactly as has been done already to car owners who fail to purchase the required insurance. And will soon be done to people who fail to purchase the required health insurance.

It’s quite brilliant, really.

The Mafia would “reward” gun owners who own fewer guns – and levy surcharges upon those who own “too many” guns – or guns deemed “too powerful” or “excessive,” such as those of a certain caliber, or which have magazines that hold “too many” bullets. Conceal carry? Higher risk – you pay more.

It will work in exactly in the same way that the insurance Mafia has made owning powerful cars and motorcycles – especially more than one – financially untenable for most average people. Gun owners who do not keep their guns stored unloaded and /or locked up – and therefore, largely useless for home defense –  will be surcharged into penury. And just as the insurance Mafia is already pushing hard for in-car monitors for drivers, so also will the insurance Mafia push for random checks or in-home monitoring for gun owners – to “make sure” the guns are “kept safe.” Either accept these terms and conditions – or give up your guns.

Or, become an outlaw – subject to potentially years in prison if they ever find out you failed to comply.

Every gun owner will be strongly “incentivized” to become a good little Clover – to do as he is told.

And most will.

Bet your bippie that Obamacare – brought to you by these same “conservative” Republicans – never forget that – will tie into this. Already, doctors are asking probing questions of their patients: Do you own a gun? The patient is Catch-22′d either way. If he says yes, the doctor – now in cahoots with the government and the insurance Mafia – will jot that information down on the patient’s files – files that are no longer private. Files that are going to be read with great interest by the government – and the insurance Mafia (which amounts to the same thing) because your “health care” is now a matter of public concern – and must be “incentivized” with “market-based” nudges – you know, orders enforced at gunpoint (the guns owned by not-you, of course).

Or, the patient lies and says 4

Now he’s probably committed some sort of actionable offense – one must always tell the truth to the government – even though the government rarely retruns the favor and is never obliged to. The patient who fibs to Uncle – his eternal in loco parentis – must live in perpetual fear of Uncle  discovering his fibbing.

Much worse – for the patient – he tells the doctor to piss off and mind his own goddamn business. Patient is belligerent and paranoid; potentially dangerous. Immediate e-mail to Homeland Security. Cue the thug scrum. (This is no exaggeration, by the way. It has already happened to several people. Their doctors narced them out to the insurance Mafia’s enforcers – you know, the police – and “for their safety,” these people’s guns were physically taken away despite their having done nothing to anyone – much less committed any crime. See here and here and here, for openers.)

Don’t just bet your bippie. Bet your ass this is coming.

Efforts are currently under way to get mandatory gun insurance laws passed in the following states: California, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, Pennsylvania and Maryland. But the real push will come from Washington – from deep within the reticulated colon of tyranny, soon to issue forth its predictable product.

This is their strategy – and I expect it’s going to work. Because for it not to work, there would have to be a successful challenge of the idea of forcing people to buy insurance, period. Put another way, if it is wrong – or even merely unconstitutional – to force people to buy insurance in order to legally own a gun (even in their own homes) then it must also be wrong to force people to buy health insurance to “cover” their ownselves. Or their cars, for that matter. To be compelled to buy any insurance at all – except in cases of property not yet fully paid for, in which case one has the free choice to not buy the property – or to wait until one has the means to do so outright, without taking a 5 The very idea of mandatory insuranceitself must be thrown in the woods.

Do you expect that to happen? The system hasalready decreed it’s just fine – ethically peachy and legal – to literally threaten to cage people at gunpoint for failing to purchase a health insurance policy. And a car policy. What makes you think they will stop at that?

I don’t think they will stop.

The basic idea behind mandatory car and health insurance has been accepted by most people – to say nothing of the courts. And that is the real problem. If you have to buy car insurance because you might cause damage to someone else’s property (even if you never actually do) then surely you should also be required to cough up for a gun insurance policy. If you have an obligation – enforceable at gunpoint – to hand over money to the health insurance Mafia for “coverage” because you might get sick and might impose “costs on society” – then surely you have the same obligation when it comes to owning a gun.


Who will argue the principled opposite? That it is better to accept that when it comes to any given thing,some people may (indeed will) occasionally behave irresponsibly – and accept the consequences of this (and hold only them responsible for their actions) as the price of living in a free society – than it is to chase the unicorn of a risk-free society and along the way, treat everyone as presumptively irresponsible? To put a finer point on it: To punish the responsible  – the innocent – based upon the actions of the irresponsible and the guilty – in an ever-speeding-up vortex of dumbing-down and its inevitable corollary, the clamping down on whatever freedom of action remains.  A world in which nothingyou do or might do isn’t someone else’s business. And theirs, yours. Everyone a prisoner of everyone else – and hating one another for it.

Hell on earth, 6

We are well on our way there.

Jefferson characterized the either-or this way:Malo periculosam libertatem quam quietam servitutem. That is: Better freedom with danger than slavery with safety. And even the sage of Monticello  made the error of accepting the premise that slavery can buy safety; it can’t – it never has. Ask the Soviet-era Ukrainian kulaks how “safe” they were under Stalin’s “protection.” Or on a smaller scale,  the 77 victims of  Anders Behring Breivik, all of them living in a legally disarmed, “safe” society that proved to be anything but “safe” for them.

So, here’s our choice.

Either people take a principled stand – and forget the utilitarian arguments – or they will accept what’s coming. They must reject not just the idea of being compelled to purchase gun insurance in order to be “allowed” to own a gun, they must question the whole filthy juggernaut that’s steaming along behind it. The very idea of mandatory any insurance.

It’s as simple – and as complicated – as that.

Government, if it has any ethical justification at all, exists solely to protect the rights of the individual. It is an assault on the rights of the individual to deprive him of his rights before he has done something to justify it. That he – that “someone” – might behave irresponsibly is thin gruel, inadequate to override the fact that he hasn’t yet. Any government that abuses any person’s rights – that punishes any person pre-emptively for things he hasn’t done but which someone “might” – is itself abusive and no longer legitimate.

Our rights are sacred – but we’ve forgotten. Most of all, we have forgotten that there has to be a damn good reason to forcibly deprive any human being of any of them.

Doing so because some other person did something –  or might do something (and thus, “you might, too”) – is an absolute outrage.

And to accept it, a degradation.

Will you accept it?

Throw it in the Woods? 


More @

It Will Not End Well: Europe’s Economic Crisis Is Now Worse Than The Great Depression While The European Union Is Splits Into Two, And Europe Suffered Three Disasters In Just The Last Month!


Stunning: Europe’s Economic Crisis Is Now Worse Than The Great Depression [CHART]

From Paul Krugman: The trajectory of Europe’s real GDP per capita today vs. its real GDP per capita back during The Great Depression. No commentary necessary.


032913krugman4 blog480

Paul Krugman



Europe Suffered Three Disasters In Just The Last Month

Europe should be really happy that March is over. It was a disastrous month.


There were three main stories; all of them bad.

Italy can’t form a government. Italy’s parliamentary election took place at the end of February, and it was immediately clear that no single party won enough seats in both houses of Parliament to be able to form a government. Center-left candidate Pier Luigi Bersani had the best shot of establishing a coalition, but he was unable to come to any deals with Berlusconi’s party, and he was unable to pick away any support from Beppe Grillo’s Five-Star party, and bring them over to his side.

That all came to a head at the end of this past week. The ball has now been thrown into the court of Italian President Napolitano (a separate position than PM, who serves a seven-year term, and whose job it is to facilitate the establishment of a government). Another election this year looks very likely.

Since the February election, there have been polls in Italy showing strength for Berlusconi and Beppe Grillo, so if there were another election there’s a good shot that the winner would be someone who doesn’t have the same inclination to play nice with the rest of the Eurozone.

Cyprus. This was a fiasco on so many levels.

Run for the Hills‘ Now, I’m Doing It: Jim Rogers – CNBC

The EU/IMF raiding bank accounts in Cyprus to bail out the country’s financial system sets a dangerous precedent and investors should “run for the hills” said investor Jim Rogers, chairman of Rogers Holdings, on “Squawk on the Street”Thursday.

Rogers said that with Cyprus, politicians are saying that this is a special case and urging people not to worry, but that is exactly why investors should be concerned.

“What more do you need to know? Please, you better hurry, you better run for the hills. I’m doing it anyway,” Rogers said. “I want to make sure that I don’t get trapped. Think of all the poor souls that just thought they had a simple bank account. Now they find out that they are making a ‘contribution’ to the stability of Cyprus. The gall of these politicians.”




The Euro Is Destroying Europe By Ripping It In Two

A key part of Lucke’s argument is that the euro must be sacrificed to save the greater European project (the European Union), as the status quo is tearing apart the continent.



This line from Lucke is critical:

We think that the euro currently splits the European Union into two parts – a segment of an economically unsuccessful southern part, and a more northern, or more central, European part, which currently seems to benefit from the misery of the southern European countries, because all of the capital flows back from southern Europe to Germany, and the Netherlands, and other stable countries, where it helps us to do cheap investment, but which is at the expense of those southern European countries, and which certainly is the cause for envious sentiment and angry sentiment in the southern European countries, so that the political tensions within the European Union actually rise.



Spain’s Banking Crisis

Recall that Bankia is the large Spanish bank that was partially nationalized’ in 2012, and that received 18 billion euros in new equity funds at the end of 2012. At that time Bankia shares fell by 25% to 41 euro cents (41/100 of one euro). At that same time Bankia said it expected to report a 19 billion euro loss for 2012. See my January 3 commentary titled Spain: Bankia and its parent! where I said “My assumption with respect to Bankia and other large Spanish banks is that ‘we have yet to hear the worst of it”.

On Monday, following a ‘forced revaluation’ by Regulators to 1 euro cent (1/100th of one euro) announced after the financial markets closed on March 22, Bankia shares closed at just under 15 euro cents (15/100 of one euro), down over 40% on the day. That ‘forced revaluation’ is said to have been a ‘condition’ of Bankia receiving a further capital injection of 10.7 billion euros from European rescue funds in circumstances where in February Bankia reported a 19.2 billion euro loss (as had been expected) for 2012. Standard & Poor’s is reported as having lowered Bankia’s rating by one notch to BB-.

In February Bankia reported that it expected a quick return to profitability following a ‘clean-up’ of its balance sheet.

Bankia strikes me as needing to be on every trader and investors radar screen going forward, given its size and what I think has to be its possible impact (positive or negative) on Spain, the eurozone, and perhaps the banks and banking systems of both Spain and other countries – the latter pursuant to possible contagion issues.

In other Spanish bank news, yesterday afternoon Banco CEISS, BMN and Caja 3, three comparatively small Spanish banks reported 2.5 billion euros, 3.7 billion euros, and 1.0 billion euros losses respectively for their latest fiscal years. These losses were all driven by previously unrecognized real estate exposure losses, or in the case of BMN writedowns on property holdings.


The Cyprus Debacle Proves The Eurozone Is Dangerous And Must End

The punishment regime imposed on Cyprus is a trick against everybody involved in this squalid saga, against the Cypriot people and the German people, against savers and creditors. All are being deceived.

It is not a bail-out. There is no debt relief for the state of Cyprus. The Diktat will push the island’s debt ratio to 120pc in short order, with a high risk of an economic death spiral, a la Grecque.

Capital controls have shattered the monetary unity of EMU. A Cypriot euro is no longer a core euro. We wait to hear the first stories of shops across Europe refusing to accept euro notes issued by Cyprus, with a G in the serial number.

The curbs are draconian. There will be a forced rollover of debt. Cheques may not be cashed. Basic cross-border trade is severely curtailed. Credit card use abroad will be limited to €5,000 (£4,200) a month. “We wonder how such capital controls could eventually be lifted with no obvious cure of the underlying problem,” said Credit Suisse….


5 of 10 Top Economies in the World Drop the Dollar

Activist Post

The U.S Dollar is quickly losing its status as the world reserve currency. Five of the top ten economies in the world, plus a few others, no longer use the dollar as an intermediary currency for trade. This trend poses a huge risk to the dollar and the United States along with it.

ZeroHedge points out today that Australia, the world’s 12th-ranked economy, has now joined a growing list of nations that have agreed to bypass the dollar in bilateral trade with China. China, ranked 2nd behind the U.S., also has similar agreements with Japan (3rd), Brazil (6th), India (9th), and Russia (10th).

Although unilateral agreements have been in place for some time between China and the countries listed above, last week the BRICs (Brazil, Russia, India & China) agreed to set up a development bank to compete with the IMF, indicating it’s gearing up to compete in a post-dollar world.

Additionally, Brazil, who agreed in principle to drop the dollar with bilateral trade with China some time ago, just made it official with $30 billion in annual currency swaps which will facilitate around 50% of all trade between them.

Besides those agreements with China, some of these nations have made other similar agreements with each other. India and Japan began swapping $15 billion in each other’s currency in 2011 to handle their bilateral trade. And the sanctions against Iran haven’t stopped them from trading oil with China, Russia, and India in anything but the dollar.

Here’s how the current reign of the US dollar compares to previous world reserve currency:


It appears that the dollar is certainly nearing the end of its reign, which could lead to severe economic hardship for the United States.

Dave Hodges writes:

The United States’ good economic fortune is due solely to the fact that world must use the dollar, the Petrodollar if you will, in order to make their nation’s individual oil purchases; this provides the only source of backing for the U.S. dollar that the Federal Reserve requires in order to somewhat sustain our back-breaking debt that the banker-occupied United States government has passed along to the American taxpayer in the form of bailouts.

And Marin Katusa of Casey Research writes:

If the US dollar loses its position as the global reserve currency, the consequences for America are dire. A major portion of the dollar’s valuation stems from its lock on the oil industry – if that monopoly fades, so too will the value of the dollar. Such a major transition in global fiat currency relationships will bode well for some currencies and not so well for others, and the outcomes will be challenging to predict. But there is one outcome that we foresee with certainty: Gold will rise. Uncertainty around paper money always bodes well for gold, and these are uncertain days indeed.

America’s imperialism, combined with its ultra-fiat status of unending debt creation, appears to have created a final downward spiral that has caused many of the top economies to abandon a sinking ship. It might not be too much longer before the rest follow suit. Now might be a great time to consider diversifying into other currencies, and even digital currencies, to mitigate growing losses in the U.S. dollar.

British tour operator in North Korea warned to stay away, ‘outbreak of war hours away’

March 30, 2013 – NORTH KOREA – The order came after US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said Washington would not be cowed by Pyongyang’s bellicose threats and stood ready to respond to “any eventuality.” Mr. Kim directed his rocket units on standby at an overnight emergency meeting with top army commanders, hours after nuclear-capable US B-2 stealth bombers were deployed in ongoing US joint military drills with South Korea. In the event of any “reckless” US provocation, North Korean forces should “mercilessly strike the US mainland … military bases in the Pacific, including Hawaii and Guam, and those in South Korea,” he was quoted as saying by the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA). While North Korea has no proven ability to conduct such strikes, Mr. Kim said: “The time has come to settle accounts with the US imperialists.” Meanwhile, Dylan Harris, director of Lupine Travel, which specializes in holidays to unusual places like Iran, Chernobyl and Siberia, received an email on Friday morning. It said US stealth bomber flights over the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DRPK) had made the situation “critical with the outbreak of war probably only hours away.” It was not clear who the email was from. –Telegraph
War with N. Korea would be ugly in opening hours: Prominent North Korean analysts, citing what they see as increasingly troubling signs coming from the dictatorial regime, have voiced concerns that its new young leader, Kim Jong-un, could do something ill-advised and even start a war with the US. On Friday North Korea renewed what the U.S. has condemned as its ‘bellicose rhetoric’, saying Kim had ordered the nation’s missile forces to prepare to strike the United States and South Korea. According to the Christian Science Monitor, in response to the prospect of North Korea following through on this and other marginally less dire threats, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said that the US military “will unequivocally defend, and is unequivocally committed to the alliance with, South Korea.” Some former US Special Operations Forces and longtime Korea defense analysts have their own thoughts on what an ‘unequivocal’ US military response could look like. That includes how US troops would be deployed in the event of a lethal first strike on US and allied military forces by North Korea – precisely the sort of move Kim has been threatening to make. Patrick Cronin, senior director of the Asia-Pacific Security Program at the Center for a New American Security, said that should Kim choose to do “something even more outlandish,” the US military and South Korean response would be more dire. Retired Brig. General Russell Howard, former commander of the 1st Special Forces Group, which has an Asia focus, said that should Kim decide to begin firing them, he says, “in the first few hours of the conflict, it would be pretty ugly.” At the same time, North Korea could begin “swarming” its sizable contingent of 600,000 Special Operations commandos, Howard added, now the director of the Terrorism, Research, and Education Program at the Monterey Institute of International Studies, the report added. –Zee News

Do not use Safety Deposit Boxes


According to in-house memos now circulating, the DHS has issued orders to banks across America which announce to them that “under the Patriot Act” the DHS has the absolute right to seize, without any warrant whatsoever, any and all customer bank accounts, to make “periodic and unannounced” visits to any bank to open and inspect the contents of “selected safe deposit boxes.”

Further, the DHS “shall, at the discretion of the agent supervising the search, remove, photograph or seize as evidence” any of the following items “bar gold, gold coins, firearms of any kind unless manufactured prior to 1878, documents such as passports or foreign bank account records, pornography or any material that, in the opinion of the agent, shall be deemed of to be of a contraband nature.”

DHS memos also state that banks are informed that any bank employee, on any level, that releases “improper” “classified DHS Security information” to any member of the public, to include the customers whose boxes have been clandestinely opened and inspected and “any other party, to include members of the media” and further “that the posting of any such information on the internet will be grounds for the immediate termination of the said employee or employees and their prosecution under the Patriot Act.” Safety deposit box holders and depositors are not given advanced notice when failed banks shut their doors.

If people have their emergency money in a safe deposit box or an account in a bank that closes, they will not be allowed into the bank to get it out. They can knock on the door and beg to get in but the sheriff’s department or whoever is handling the closure will simply say “no” because they are just following orders.

Deposit box and account holders are not warned of the hazards of banking when they sign up. It is not until they need to get their cash or valuables out in a hurry that they find themselves in trouble.

Rules governing access to safe deposit boxes and money held in accounts are written into the charter of each bank. The charter is the statement of policy under which the bank is allowed by the government to do business. These rules are subject to change at any time by faceless bureaucrats who are answerable to no one. They can be changed without notice, without the agreement of the people, and against their will. People can complain but no one will care because this is small potatoes compared to the complaints that will be voiced when the executive order that governs national emergencies is enforced.

That order allows the suspension of habeas corpus and all rights guaranteed under the Bill of Rights.

A look at the fine print of the contract signed when a safety deposit box is opened reveals that in essence the signer has given to the bank whatever property he has put into that deposit box. When times are good people will be allowed open access to their safe deposit box and the property that is in it. This also applies to their bank accounts.

But when times get really bad, many may find that the funds they have placed on deposit and the property they thought was secured in the safe deposit box now belong to the bank, not to them. Although this was probably not explained to them when they signed their signature card, this is what they were agreeing to.

During the Great Depression in the early 1930’s people thought that many banks were going to fail. They were afraid they would lose their money so they went in mass to take it out, in what is known as a run on the banks. The government closed the banks to protect them from angry depositors who wanted their money back. Throughout history, governments have acted to protect the interests of banks and the wealthy people who own them, not the interests of depositors or box holders.

In a time of emergency, people will have no recourse if access to their safe deposit box and bank accounts is denied. If they are keeping money in a bank that would be needed in an emergency or in a time when credit is no longer free flowing, they may not be able to get it out of the bank. The emergency may occur at night or on a weekend or holiday when the bank is closed.

The solution is to take emergency cash or valuables out of the safe deposit box or bank account and secure them somewhere else, like in a home safe. An even better idea may be to close the safe deposit box account completely, letting someone else entertain the illusion of safety.

Americans have learned a few things since the Great Depression. They now have the FDIC to liquidate any failed banks.

The FDIC promises to set up a series of dates and times when safe deposit box renters can access their boxes by appointment to remove their property and surrender their keys. The FDIC also promises to mail bank customers an announcement of the dates for such events and include a question and answer page that addresses safe deposit box access.

The people have the FDIC to give them back the money they had on deposit that they were unable to get out of any failed bank that carries FDIC insurance. Sheila Bair, head of the FDIC, promises that depositor`s money will be available in 24 hours or less. But people should remember that the FDIC is just another bureaucracy, and it`s probably best not to rely on a bureaucracy in an emergency.




Note: We’ve been asked to site sources for this article but we did not write it, the source in which it came from is at the top. Also see this,

The Global Elite Plan To Raid Your Bank Account


(Economic Collapse) -Don’t be surprised when the global elite confiscate money from your bank account one day.

They are already very clearly telling you that they are going to do it.

Dutch Finance Minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem is the president of the Eurogroup – an organization of eurozone finance ministers that was instrumental in putting together the Cyprus “deal” – and he has said publicly that what has just happened in Cyprus will serve as a blueprint for future bank bailouts.

What that means is that when the chips are down, they are going to come after YOUR money. So why should anyone put a large amount of money in the bank at this point? Perhaps you can make one or two percent on your money if you shop around for a really good deal, but there is also a chance that 40 percent (or more) of your money will be confiscated if the bank fails. And considering the fact that there are vast numbers of banks all over the United States and Europe that are teetering on the verge of insolvency, why would anyone want to take such a risk?

What the global elite have done is that they have messed around with the fundamental trust that people have in the banking system. In order for any financial system to work, people must have faith in the safety and security of that financial system. People put their money in the bank because they think that it will be safe there. If you take away that feeling of safety, you jeopardize the entire system.

So exactly how did the big banks in Cyprus get into so much trouble? Well, they have been doing exactly what hundreds of other large banks all over the U.S. and Europe have been doing. They have been gambling with our money. In particular, the big banks in Cyprus made huge bets on Greek sovereign debt which ended up failing.

But what happened in Cyprus is just the tip of the iceberg. All over the planet major financial institutions are being incredibly reckless with client money. They are leveraged to the hilt and they have transformed the global financial system into a gigantic casino.

If they win on their bets, they become fabulously wealthy.

If they lose on their bets, they know that the politicians won’t let the banks fail. They know that they will get bailed out one way or another.

And who pays?

We do.

Either our tax dollars are used to fund a government-sponsored bailout, or as we have just witnessed in Cyprus, money is directly confiscated from our bank accounts.

And then the game begins again.

People need to understand that the precedent that has just been set in Cyprus is a game changer.

The next time that a major bank fails in Greece or Italy or Spain (or in the United States for that matter), the precedent that has been set in Cyprus will be looked to as a “template” for how to handle the situation.

Eurogroup president Jeroen Dijsselbloem has even publicly admitted that what just happened in Cyprus will serve as a model for future bank bailouts. Just check out what he said a few days ago

“If there is a risk in a bank, our first question should be ‘Okay, what are you in the bank going to do about that? What can you do to recapitalise yourself?’. If the bank can’t do it, then we’ll talk to the shareholders and the bondholders, we’ll ask them to contribute in recapitalising the bank, and if necessary the uninsured deposit holders”

Dijsselbloem insists that this will cause people “to think about the risks” before they put their money somewhere…

“It will force all financial institutions, as well as investors, to think about the risks they are taking on because they will now have to realise that it may also hurt them. The risks might come towards them.”

Well, as depositors in Cyprus just found out, there is a risk that you could lose 40 percent (and that is the best case scenario) of your money if you put it in the bank.

Why would anyone want to take that risk – especially in a nation that is already experiencing very serious financial troubles such as Greece, Italy or Spain?

As if that was not enough, Dijsselbloem later went in front of the Dutch parliament and publicly defended a wealth tax like the one that was just imposed in Cyprus.

Dijsselbloem is being widely criticized, and rightfully so. But at least he is being more honest that many other politicians. His predecessor as the head of the Eurogroup, Jean-Claude Juncker, once said that “you have to lie” to the people in order to keep the financial markets calm…

Mr. Dijsselbloem’s style contrasts with that of his predecessor, Jean-Claude Juncker, Luxembourg’s prime minister, who spoke in a low mumble at news conferences and was expert at sidestepping questions. Mr. Juncker once even advocated lying as a way to prevent financial markets from panicking—as they did Monday after Mr. Dijsselbloem’s comments.

“When it becomes serious, you have to lie,” Mr. Juncker said in April 2011. “If you have pre-indicated possible decisions, you are feeding speculation in the financial markets.”

But Dijsselbloem is certainly not the only one among the global elite that is admitting what is coming next. Just check out what Joerg Kraemer, the chief economist at Commerzbank, recently told Handelsblatt about what he believes should be done in Italy…

“A tax rate of 15 percent on financial assets would probably be enough to push the Italian government debt to below the critical level of 100 percent of gross domestic product”


And as I wrote about the other day, the Finance Minister of New Zealand is proposing that bank account holders in his nation should be required to “take a haircut” if any banks in his nation fail.

They are telling us what they plan to do.

They are telling us that they plan to raid all of our bank accounts when the global financial system fails.

And calling it a “haircut” does not change the fact of what it really is. The truth is that when they confiscate money from our bank accounts it is outright theft. Just check out what the Daily Mail had to say about the situation in Cyprus…

People who rob old ladies in the street, or hold up security vans, are branded as thieves. Yet when Germany presides over a heist of billions of pounds from private savers’ Cyprus bank accounts, to ‘save the euro’ for the hundredth time, this is claimed as high statesmanship.

It is nothing of the sort. The deal to secure a €10 billion German bailout of the bankrupt Mediterranean island is one of the nastiest and most immoral political acts of modern times.

It has struck fear into the hearts of hundreds of millions of European citizens, because it establishes a dire precedent.

And when you cause paralysis in the banking system, a once thriving economy can freeze up almost overnight. The following is an excerpt from a report from someone that is actually living over in Cyprus…

As it stands now, nowhere in Cyprus accepts credit or debit cards anymore for fear of not being paid, it is CASH ONLY. Businesses have stopped functioning because they cannot pay employees OR pay for the stock they receive because the banks are closed. If the banks remain closed, the economy will be destroyed and STOP COMPLETELY. Looting, robberies and theft are already on the rise. If the banks open now, there will be a massive run on the bank, and the banks will FAIL loosing all of its deposits, also causing an economic crash. TONIGHT there are demonstrations at most street corners and especially at the parliament building (just 2 miles from me).

Many are thinking that the ECB and EU are allowing Cyprus to fail as a test ground for new financial standards.

Just wanted all you guys to know the real story of whats going on here. Prayers are appreciated (although this is very interesting to watch) many of my local friends have lots of money in the banks.

Would similar things happen in the United States if there was a major banking crisis someday?

That is something to think about.

In any event, the problems in the rest of Europe continue to get even worse…

-The stock market in Greece is crashing. It is down by more than 10 percent over the past two days.

-The stock markets in Italy and Spain are experiencing huge declines as well. Banking stocks are being hit particularly hard.

-The Bank of Spain says that the Spanish economy will sink even deeper into recession this year.

-The latest numbers from the Spanish government show that Spain’s debt problem is rapidly getting worse

“The central government’s interest bill surged 15 percent last year to 26 billion euros, while tax receipts slumped 21 percent. The cost of servicing debt represented 30 percent of the taxes collected at the end of December, up from 20 percent a year earlier.”

-The euro took quite a tumble on Thursday and the euro will likely continue to decline steadily in the weeks and months to come.

For a very long time I have been warning that the next major wave of the economic collapse is going to originate in Europe.

Hopefully people are starting to see what I am talking about.

As this point, the major banks in Europe are leveraged about 26 to 1, and that is close to the kind of leverage that Lehman Brothers had when it finally collapsed. As a whole, European banks are drowning in debt, they are taking risks that are almost incomprehensible and now faith in those banks has been greatly undermined by what has happened in Cyprus.

Anyone that cannot see a crisis coming in Europe simply does not understand the financial world. A moment of reckoning is rapidly approaching for Europe. The following is from a recent article by Graham Summers

At the end of the day, the reason Europe hasn’t been fixed is because CAPITAL SIMPLY ISN’T THERE. Europe and its alleged backstops are out of money. This includes Germany, the ECB and the mega-bailout funds such as the ESM.

Germany has already committed to bailouts that equal 5% of its GDP. The single largest transfer payment ever made by one country to another was the Marshall Plan in which the US transferred an amount equal to 5% of its GDP. Germany WILL NOT exceed this. So don’t count on more money from Germany.

The ECB is chock full of garbage debts which have been pledged as collateral for loans. If anyone of significance defaults in Europe, the ECB is insolvent. Sure it can print more money, but once the BIG collateral call hits, money printing is useless because the amount of money the ECB would have to print would implode the system.

And then of course there are the mega bailout funds such as the ESM. The only problem here is that Spain and Italy make up 30% of the ESM’s supposed “funding.” That’s right, nearly one third of the mega-bailout fund’s capital will come from countries that are bankrupt themselves.

What could go wrong?

Right now, close to half of all money that is on deposit at banks in Europe is uninsured. As people move that uninsured money out of the banks, the amount of money that will be required to “fix the banks” will go up even higher.

It would be wise to try to avoid the big banks at this point – especially those with very large exposure to derivatives. Any financial institution that uses customer money to make reckless bets is not to be trusted.

If you can find a small local bank or credit union to do business with you will probably be better off.

And don’t think that this kind of thing can never happen in the United States.

One of the key players that was pushing the idea of a “wealth tax” in Cyprus was the IMF. And everyone knows that the IMF is heavily dominated by the United States. In fact, the headquarters of the IMF is located right in the heart of Washington D.C. not too far from the White House. When I worked in D.C. I would walk by the IMF headquarters quite a bit.

So if the United States thought that confiscating money from bank accounts was a great idea in Cyprus, why wouldn’t they implement such a thing here under similar circumstances?

The global elite are telling us what they plan to do, and the game has dramatically changed.

Move your money while you still can.

Unfortunately, it is already too late for the people of Cyprus.



( It’s a big week in the fight for “marriage equality,” which is what most gay activists want us to call gay marriage. Today the Supreme Court heard arguments for and against Proposition 8, the California ballot initiative that struck down the state’s law to allow Ellen DeGeneres and Portia De Rossi the right to marry each other, just as Britney Spears got hitched to some guy in a drunken haze one night so many years ago. Tomorrow the court will hear arguments about the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act, the 1996 federal law signed by Bill Clinton that defines marriage as being between a man and a woman. Right now, gay activism needs all the help it can get. But do you know what’s not helping? Changing your Facebook profile picture to a silly red-and-pink equal sign.

In more sad news for gay Americans waiting to have all the rights that go along with marriage and not just the ridiculously ornate parties and rituals, it looks like the court won’t issue a sweeping ruling to allow gay marriage in all 50 states. That means gay men and lesbians who call this country home will continue to be second-class citizens. Sorry to break it to everyone, but changing your little avatar isn’t doing anything to change that.

Yes, the show of support is heartwarming. It’s nice to see so many people who want their gay friends to be spoiled brides just like all their straight friends, but you’re not doing anything. This is just another form of passive activism that isn’t advancing the cause. Do you know what would be helpful? Actually picking up a sign, heading down to the Supreme Court, and joining the throngs of protesters. Do you know what would be useful? Instead of just downloading an image and clicking a few buttons, going to the website of a gay rights organization (or any gay organization for that matter) and giving them some money so they can fight for gay civil rights on your behalf. Do you know what would really matter? If you had done this back when Prop 8 was being voted on and had actively lobbied everyone you know in California to vote the right way so this thing didn’t have to go to the Supreme Court in the first place.

Basically, it’s the equivalent of wearing green on St. Patrick’s Day (which is only useful in identifying which drunks to avoid on the sidewalk). And this is not the right time or place for the show of support. There are only nine people, the Supreme Court Justices, who matter today or tomorrow, and their lifetime appointments mean that they’re above being prejudiced by the masses. They’re probably not even allowed on Facebook. Why don’t you hold your burst of activity for something that really matters, when the public actually has some say in what happens?

Now you’re just sitting there at your desk thinking that something you did on social media is freeing the oppressed. It might, in some small way, but if you really want to make progress, you have to work hard. If visibility is what you’re aiming for, why not write a letter (hell, even an email) to your senator and let him or her know that you want marriage rights for everyone. Why don’t you call up your conservative grandmother or that girl you went to high school with who only posts Bible quotes on her timeline or anyone who would deny gay people their rights and tell them, personally, what you think about that. You know, do some actual work—something hard and annoying and perhaps intensely uncomfortable.

The worst thing is that all the red and pink is making everyone on my Facebook feed completely indistinguishable from the rest. I know some might think this is a good thing—that all those equal signs create an indivisible mass of support behind this issue. But what it’s really doing is turning gays into a completely innocuous monolith, which is something the gay civil rights movement has been trying to do since the fight for gay marriage began. It is trying to make us into a nameless, faceless Borg-thing that is simple and clean and lovely enough to be deigned worthy of its rights.

No one is going to give you anything for nothing, and all the Facebook statuses in the world won’t change that. We have to go out and take it. We have to be individuals with names and voices and faces and tell the people out there in the world, outside our circles of friends, how important it is to treat gay people like humans and not silly little hairdressers who can give you a killer makeover on reality TV.

Naturally the gays are starting to get creative with the formula—I’ve seen Paula Deen riding atop two sticks of pink butter and gay couples putting the red equal sign over their wedding picture. There is even one with Divine from Pink Flamingos pointing a gun out of the screen with the pink and red in the background. While it’s an affecting image (and wonderfully more militant than the normal, vanilla gay rights-activism symbols), I can’t help but think how much John Waters would hate this whole thing: everyone trying to be the same, trying to be just like our straight brothers and sisters. The queer has been demolished, our edges completely sanded away in a plea for acceptance we haven’t even been granted.

Frank Kameny, photo via

This also reminds me of Frank Kameny, the late, great gay activist who initiated the first protests at the White House back in the 60s. He insisted that everyone who marched be dressed in their nicest suits so that they all looked the same, like respectable members of the community and not the degenerates everyone thought they were. Kameny and his radical activists were arrested for their beliefs. Simply showing their faces at the protest made them vulnerable to violence, being fired from their jobs, or, God forbid, arrested for sodomy. What they were doing was highly dangerous. What all the lemmings with the Facebook activism avatar are doing is easier than wearing a Livestrong bracelet or all those stupid NOH8 portraits with tape over the subjects’ mouths. At least you had to pay for the bracelet! At least there was some money going to help someone.

But no, all we can be bothered to do now is change our profile for a few days as if, like everyone in the theater clapping to revive Tinker Bell, it’s going to do some good. It’s not. The only way to create change is by being like Kameny and putting something on the line. Let’s all protest so hard we get arrested and then post our mug shots on our walls. That’s the kind of disturbance that will get us some real results.

Senate Passes Monsanto Protection Act Granting Monsanto Power Over US Govt


(Natural Society) -In the typical slippery nature of Monsanto’s legislation-based actions, the biotech giant is now virtually guaranteed the ability to recklessly plant experimental GM crops without having to worry about the United States government and its subsequent courts. The Monsanto Protection Act buried deep within the budget resolution has passed the Senate, and now nothing short of a presidential veto will put an end to the ruling.

In case you’re not familiar, the Monsanto Protection Act is the name given to what’s known as a legislative rider that was inserted into the Senate Continuing Resolution spending bill. Using the deceptive title of Farmer Assurance Provision, Sec. 735 of this bill actually grants Monsanto the immunity from federal courts pending the review of any GM crop that is thought to be dangerous. Under the section, courts would be helpless to stop Monsanto from continuing to plant GM crops that are thought even by the US government to be a danger to health or the environment.

Senate Passes Monsanto Protection Act Despite Outcry

It is a lobbyist-created recurring nuisance that has been squashed in previous legislation thanks to outcry from not only grassroots but major organizations. Last time we saw The Center for Food Safety, the National Family Farm Coalition, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the Sierra Club, and the Union of Concerned Scientists all come out against the Monsanto Protection Act from the 2012 Farm Bill.

This time, there was a swift resistance I thought might be enough, however sadly the Senate acted so quickly on this and almost entirely ignored the issue that it has now passed despite thousands of fans signing the old petition I linked to in my previous articles on the subject. The old petition by Food Democracy Now detailed the effects of the bill:

“If approved, the Monsanto Protection Act would force the USDA to allow continued planting of any GMO crop under court review, essentially giving backdoor approval for any new genetically engineered crops that could be potentially harmful to human health or the environment.”


That said, now a new petition exists telling Obama to veto the bill. The reality is that the bill is actually seen as a positive one by most politicians, which is where Monsanto lobbyists were so deceptive and slippery as to throw in their rider (the actual Monsanto Protection Act into the bill). This makes it very unappealing to veto the bill, but also we must remember that Obama actually promised to immediately label GMOs back in 2007 when running for President.

Ushering In a New Era of Activism

The simple fact is that this bill will likely not be vetoed by Obama, and instead Monsanto will get what they wanted. That said, this ushers in an entirely new era of activism. Monsanto has decided to push the envelope in a way that is unprecedented, fighting the US federal courts. I expected to see almost immediate legal action taken that will certainly hit the headlines, leading to even more people to become aware of what’s really going on with this company and therefore their dinner.

Sometimes in order to truly have an intellectual revolution on a subject, the people need to see exactly what they are facing. With the truly blatant and downright arrogant Monsanto Protection Act, it’s now clearer than ever.


Conventional Doctors Now Standing Against ADHD “Study Drugs”



(Activist Post) -ADHD* is a way to describe a group of symptoms resulting from impaired uptake of dopamine to the pre-frontal cortex of the brain. How much of that is genetic or lifestyle is debatable. In 20 years, there has been a 20 percent increase in diagnoses.

But non-ADHD kids trying to make it through the rigors of study are increasingly given ADHD meds to give them a mental boost. A new report from the American Academy of Neurology declares that the increasing use of ADHD drugs – often termed ‘study drugs’ – on healthy kids is unjustifiable. Whether it be parent requests, doctors over-prescribing, young people taking them without prescriptions, or substance abuse. Their study abstract stated:

Neurodevelopmental issues include the importance of evolving personal authenticity during childhood and adolescence, the emergence of individual decision-making capacities, and the process of developing autonomy. 


Rand Paul: Don’t Jail People for Non-Violent Drug Crimes


(Breitbart) -Sen. Rand Paul, speaking on Fox News Sunday, said today that although he is against legalizing drugs, he doesn’t think people should be incarcerated for non-violent drug crimes. Paul stated:

I don’t want to encourage people to do (drugs). I think even marijuana’s a bad thing to do. I think it takes away your incentive to work and show up and do the things that you should be doing. But I also don’t want to put people in jail who make a mistake. There are a lot of young people who do this and then later on in their twenties they grow up and get married, they quit doing things like this.

Paul pointed out that both Barack Obama and George W. Bush admitted using drugs: “Look, the last two presidents could conceivably have been put in jail for their drug use. Look what would have happened. It would have ruined their lives. They got lucky, but a lot of poor kids, particularly in the inner city, don’t get lucky. They don’t have good attorneys. They go to jail for these things, and I think it’s a big mistake.”

6 billion people have cellphones, only 4.5 billion have toilets

(Digital Journal) -A UN report says six of the world’s seven billion people have mobile phones but only 4.5 billion have toilets. In response to the statistics the UN has issued a call “to change a situation in which more people worldwide have mobile phones than toilets.”
At a press conference held on Thursday in which he announced the report, the UN Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson, said that the UN has launched a global effort to improve sanitation for 2.5 billion people who do not have toilets, 1.1 billion of whom defecate in the open, some making calls on their cellphones while relieving themselves under bridges and on refuse dumps. As Slate comments: “That phenomenon is easily visible in Indonesia, for example, where it is common to see people who live in metal roofed shacks without bathrooms surfing Facebook on their smartphones or feature phones.”


NPR notes that the Hindustan Times reported Wednesday that in India’s state of Maharashtra about 70 percent of the state’s 100 million people have cellphones, and 60 percent have televisions in their homes, but nearly half of families still don’t have a toilet.


Eliasson said: “I am determined to energize action that will lead to results. I am calling on all actors – government, civil society, business and international organizations – to commit to measurable action and to mobilize the resources to rapidly increase access to basic sanitation.”


Eliasson described the situation as a “silent disaster” that reflects the wide income disparities in the world. He said: “I am determined to energize action that will lead to results. I am calling on all actors – government, civil society, business and international organizations – to commit to measurable action and to mobilize the resources to rapidly increase access to basic sanitation.”


He continued: “Let’s face it—this is a problem that people do not like to talk about. But it goes to the heart of ensuring good health, a clean environment and fundamental human dignity for billions of people.”


The announcement follows the initiation in August 2012 of the Bill Gates Foundation program to “reinvent the toilet” as part of effort to reduce the number of people who do not have access to sanitary waste disposal facilities.


Eliasson told the press conference that the problem of access to toilets must be tackled for the UN to achieve its goal of cutting by half by the end of 2015 the proportion of the world’s people without access to sanitation and eliminating by 2025 the practice of open defecation. He noted that out of all the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) to end poverty set in 2000, the UN has made the slowest progress with the goal of improving sanitation for the world’s poor.


UN figures estimate that 1.8 billion people gained access to improved sanitation since 1990 and that the MDG target to halve the proportion of people without access to improved sources of water has been met. The organization, however, estimates that about 1.1 billion people or 15 percent of the world’s population continue to defecate in the open.


According to UN public health experts the practice of open defecation is a major cause of diarrhea that causes the death of more than 750,000 children under the age of five every year. Eliasson said that 22 countries account for more than 80 percent of the world’s incidence of open defecation. He listed the countries: Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Cambodia, Ethiopia, Kenya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan, Sierra Leone, Zambia, Afghanistan, Burkina Faso, Chad, Congo, Niger, Sudan and South Sudan.


UN figures indicate that India alone accounts for 60 per cent of the number of people in the world who practice open defecation. The number of people who use mobile phones in India increased from 45 million in 2002 to 1 billion in 2012. However, only about 30 percent of Indians have proper sanitation.


The Daily Mail reports that the UN lists ten countries with the highest number of people living without proper sanitation:


India – 626 million people without proper sanitation – but 893 million mobile phones. India accounts for 60 per cent of the number of people practicing open defecation around the globe.


Indonesia – 63 million people do not have a toilet but there are 250 million mobile phones.


Pakistan – 40 million people practicing open defecation. But 111 million mobile phones.


Ethiopia – 38 million people without a toilet but 14 million have mobile phones.


Nigeria – 34 million people without proper sanitation – but there are 95 million mobile phones.


Sudan – 19 million people practice open defecation – but there are 25 million mobile phones.


Nepal – 15 million people without sanitation but 13 million mobile phones.


China – 14 million people practice open defecation but 986 million mobile phones


Niger – 12 million people without proper sanitation but 4.8 million mobile phones


Burkina Faso – 9.7 million people without proper sanitation but 7.7 million mobiles


However, the reason why more of the world’s poor can afford to buy and maintain mobile phones is that they have become very cheap, even while governments continue to neglect public investment in sanitation. But as public planners note, the problem is not providing flush toilets for everybody but providing water to flush the toilets. Many with flush toilets in their homes in Nigerian cities abandon the facility when they become unusable due to lack of water supply.


In contrast to the prohibitive costs of acquiring and maintaining a toilet connected to a waste-water system, a brand new Nokia 1280 costs only about $15 in Nigeria and a secondhand one costs far less. The Daily Mail reports that Nokia now has its biggest factory in the world in Chennai, India where cheap phones that locals can afford to buy are produced.


However, with the information that countries where open defecation is practiced have the highest numbers of under-five child deaths, high levels of under-nutrition, poverty, and large wealth disparities, the emphasis on providing phones for the world’s poor may reflect the profit-making priorities of private companies rather than actual needs, though it has been argued convincingly that increasing interconnectivity in the modern world has made cellphones an essential commodity even for the world’s poor.


The Deputy Executive Director of the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), Martin Mogwanja, said: “We strongly support this effort to increase the focus on sanitation. We can reduce the cases of diarrhea in children under five by a third simply by expanding the access of communities to sanitation and eliminating open defecation.” He emphasized that “diarrhea is the second largest killer of children under five in the developing world and this is caused largely by poor sanitation and inadequate hygiene.”


The UN estimated that poor sanitation costs up to 7.2 percent of GDP of poor countries and impacts adversely on economic growth.


According to Slate, UN figures indicate that poor sanitation costs India $53.8 billion a year, while Nigeria loses $3 billion annually.

Read more:

John Lennon’s Bloodied Glasses Used In Plea On Gun Violence





(NPR) -Yoko Ono, the widow of slain Beatle John Lennon, has weighed in on the issue of gun control by tweeting a photo of the blood-spattered eyeglasses worn by the legendary musician when he was fatally shot by a deranged fan more than three decades ago.

Her tweet, on the 44th anniversary of the couple’s marriage:

“Over 1,057,000 people have been killed by guns in the USA since John Lennon was shot and killed on 8 Dec 1980.”

In a series of follow-up tweets:

“31,537 people are killed by guns in the USA every year. We are turning this beautiful country into war zone.”

“Together, let’s bring back America, the green land of peace.”

“The death of a loved one is a hollowing experience. After 33 years our son Sean and I still miss him.”

The image of Lennon’s bloodied spectacles, with New York’s Central Park in the background, was also the cover photo of Ono’s 1981 album Season of Glass.

The comments from the 80-year-old visual artist, musician and political activist came just a day after a hotly debated assault weapons ban was officially dropped from Senate gun control legislation prompted by the Newtown, Conn., school shooting.

Texas takes step toward secession with Rick Perry’s plan to hoard gold



Texas Governor Rick Perry (R) points off into the distance. Photo: Flickr user Robert Scoble, creative commons licensed.


(Raw Story) -Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) and freshman state Rep. Giovanni Capriglione have a plan to create a “Fort Knox of Texas” so that the state can start hoarding gold.

Giovanni has filed a bill to establish a Texas Bullion Depository to store the $1 billion worth of gold bars that are owned by University of Texas Investment Management Co. (UTIMCO), which are currently being housed by the U.S. Federal Reserve.

Speaking to conservative radio host Glenn Beck on Tuesday, Perry said that lawmakers were in the process of “bringing gold that belongs to the state of Texas back into the state.” Beck has been a longtime paid spokesperson for the precious metal seller Goldline, which agreed to refund up to $4.5 million to former customers last year after being sued for marking up gold more than 50 percent.


“If we own it, I will suggest to you that that’s not someone else’s determination whether we can take possession of it back or not,” Perry told Beck.

Former Rep. Ron Paul on Thursday explained to The Texas Tribune that the gold would be safer in the hands of Texans.

“If you think gold is a hedge, or a protection, you always want it as close to the individual and the entity as possible,” Paul said. “Texas is better served if it knows exactly where the gold is rather than depending on the security of the Federal Reserve.”

For his part, Capriglione said that he had gotten the idea while attending a tea party rally with Perry in Tarrant County earlier this year.

“Something on the scorecards of a lot of these businesses in deciding whether they want to come to Texas is stability and gold as being one of those items,” Capriglione insisted. “I think it’s been in his consciousness for a while in trying to get some sort of depository in the state of Texas.”

“We don’t want just the certificates. We want our gold. And if you’re the state of Texas, you should be able to get your gold.”


Tangent Capital Partners senior managing director Jim Rickards speculated to Yahoo Finance on Thursday that creating a “Fort Knox of Texas” could be a step in Texas creating its own currency and eventually moving to secede.

“This bill contains a provision that says to the federal government that you, the federal government, purport to confiscate this Texas gold, we, the state of Texas, consider that to be null and void,” Rickards pointed out. “And under the 10th Amendment of the United States Constitution, they have that power.”

Earlier this year, more than 100,000 people signed a petition on the White House website calling on President Barack Obama’s administration to allow the state to secede.

White House Office of Public Engagement Director Jon Carson responded by noting that the Supreme Court in 1869 that states do not have a right to secede.

Carson noted that the Founding Fathers established a Constitution and “enshrined in that document the right to change our national government through the power of the ballot — a right that generations of Americans have fought to secure for all. But they did not provide a right to walk away from it.”

In a 2009 interview, Perry had joked that Texas was “thinking about” becoming an independent republic, but he dismissed the call to secede last year.

OECD report: China’s economy will overtake US economy by 2016


(PressTV) -China’s economy, which has experienced a declining rate of growth for three years, is accelerating and will surpass the United States as the world’s largest economy by 2016, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).


The Paris-based organization of 34 global economies said Friday that China can average 8 percent growth during the current decade, after accounting for price differences. The forecast is contingent on Beijing’s ability to continue implementing certain economic, financial and regulatory reforms.


“Those forecasts definitely look bullish, even a bit higher than average market expectations,” Win Thin, global head of emerging-markets strategy at Brown Brothers Harriman & Co. in New York, told Bloomberg News. “There is no major risk in the Chinese economy.”


China’s growth slowed to 7.8 percent in 2012, marking its lowest level in more than a decade. However, the organization predicts that China’s economy will rebound to 8.5 percent growth in this year and 8.9 percent the following year. That prediction is well ahead of Beijing’s more conservative target of 7 percent average growth by 2015.


“This is the one country that always lowballs their growth” the OECD’s Angel Gurria told the Financial Times.


China’s current GDP is officially $8.25 trillion, though it’s estimated to be much greater when adjusted for purchasing parity, making $12.38 trillion more accurate, which is third in the world behind the EU ($15.70 trillion) and the U.S. ($15.66 trillion), according to the International Monetary Fund.


Per capita GDP for China is $9,100, which ranks the nation at a dramatically different 118th place in the world. The U.S. is ranked 12th in the world in terms of per capita GDP at $49,800.


OECD’s 2016 projection is significant because the IMF estimates that China will overtake the U.S. by 2017, when the U.S. GDP will be $19.70 trillion compared with China’s $20.33 trillion.


The OECD’s survey of China found that its middle class and wealthy segments are growing so fast that consumption has been a bigger driver of growth since 2011 than investment has.


However, the report also identifies major risks China faces as its economy balloons, including a weakened global economy, rising inflation, financial instability, income inequality, an aging population and restrictive policies controlling urbanization. International Business Times






International analysts widely expect China’s economy, given its high growth rates, to overtake the U.S. in terms of gross domestic product, or total size, some time in the first half of this century; though differ on exact timing and criteria. The Telegraph


A U.S. intelligence report said in December that China’s economy is likely to surpass the United States in less than two decades while Asia will overtake North America and Europe combined in global power by 2030. Reuters


China will overtake the United States economically within six years, according to a January finding from the Nation’s Health Report issued by the Chinese Academy of Sciences, the Global Times said.


In just five years, China has surpassed the United States as a trading partner for much of the world, including U.S. allies such as South Korea and Australia, according to an Associated Press analysis of trade data. AP


As recently as 2006, the U.S. was the larger trading partner for 127 countries, versus just 70 for China. By 2011, the two had clearly traded places: 124 countries for China, 76 for the U.S. AP


Yes, we can close schools: Rahm Emanuel’s cash crisis in Chicago



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Maria Llanos watches on as her daughter hugs a friend at the soon-to-close Lafayette School in Chicago
(Independent) -More than 10 per cent of Chicago’s elementary schools are facing closure under plans to tackle the city’s $1bn education budget deficit – the largest mass shutdown of public schools in the United States in recent memory.

School officials have announced plans to close 53 elementary schools and a high school. In all, 61 school buildings will be shut down by the beginning of the next academic year in August, the country’s third-largest public school district has said.

The announcement sparked national horror yesterday as the sorry state of the city’s finances, which are well known locally, was highlighted to the country. Chicago isn’t alone. Other cities, including Detroit, which is now facing the possibility of what could be the largest municipal bankruptcy in US history, and Philadelphia, have resorted to shutting undersubscribed schools to save money. Chicago has closed scores of school buildings over the past decade.

The city’s problems – though less severe than elsewhere in the US – have similar root causes to those in places such as Detroit: burdensome pension liabilities accumulated in the boom times and falling birth rates have become too much to bear in the post-financial crisis world. With the national and regional economy still struggling, the money coming in to city coffers cannot keep up with Chicago’s commitments.

But the size of the closures announced have sparked concern, particularly as the institutions in question are primarily attended by African-American and Hispanic students, and are situated in low-income neighbourhoods. Officials led by Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, however, say there are too many vacant seats in the city’s public school system.

The Chicago Teachers Union thinks otherwise, with its President Karen Lewis labelling the closures an “abomination.”

“This is cowardly and it is the ultimate bullying job. Our mayor should be ashamed of himself,” she told the Associated Press.

The closures will mean that many children will have to venture into neighbourhoods other than their own to attend classes, which is causing concern among parents given the high frequency of violent crime in certain parts of the city. Irene Robinson, 48, said six of her grandchildren attend the soon-to-be-closed Anthony Overton Elementary in the Bronzeville area. She said news of shutdown was “like a death in the family.”

“It’s that sad,” she told the Chicago Tribune. “What’s gonna happen to these kids? Kids are being killed right now. They [sic] innocent. Why put them in harm’s way? It’s sad. It’s scary. It’s outrageous.”

The head of the school district, Barbara Byrd-Bennett, defended the move, saying the system as its currently organised is not in the best interests of students.

“Every child in every neighbourhood in Chicago deserves access to a high quality education that prepares them to succeed in life, but for too long children in certain parts of Chicago have been cheated out of the resources they need to succeed because they are in under utilised, under-resourced schools,” she said. “As a former teacher and a principal, I’ve lived through school closings and I know that this will not be easy, but I also know that in the end this will benefit our children.”

On the slide: Mayor goes skiing

Much of the public anger at the school closures was today directed at Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, a former chief of staff for President Barack Obama, who was on a skiing holiday with his family when the announcement was made.

“I find it extremely cowardly for the mayor’s administration to announce these actions while he is vacationing out of town,” Karen Lewis, the President of the Chicago Teachers Union, said. “They are also making this announcement days before… spring break.”

Mr Emanuel came to power in 2011 on a wave of support from black communities, but recent opinion polls have indicated that the issue of school closures – which affects mainly black and Hispanic pupils – has contributed to his sliding approval ratings – and because his children attend private school.

Chicago lawyer and education activist Matter Farmer joked on Twitter: “Asked, while skiing in Utah, about closing 50 CPS schools, Mayor Emanuel said he is offering thousands of kids the chance to head downhill.”

Salad is more dangerous than beefburgers, leading food expert warns


Packaged salad

(Telegraph) -Certain types of bacteria found in the pre-cut salad bags can be almost impossible to kill, Professor Hugh Pennington said, unless the leaves are irradiated – a process the public would oppose.

His claim follows a Health Protection Agency investigation into an outbreak of salad-linked Cryptosporidium infections that affected around 300 people in England and Scotland in May.

In the analysis of the exposure to different salad vegetables a significant statistical association was found between infection and the consumption of pre-cut spinach.

When specific retailers were included in the analysis, the strongest association with infection was found to be with consumption of ready to eat pre-cut mixed salad leaves from a major supermarket chain.

“Together these findings suggest that one or more types of salad vegetables could have been contaminated,” said the HPA.

Professor Pennington said the case also followed on from several in the USA where they are “very worried” about “washed and ready-to-eat” bagged salad.

Last year produce giant Dole issued a recall on its American Blend bagged salad in 10 states in those two regions, after the Tennessee Department of Health found listeria bacteria in one sample.

Demand for salad has boomed because of healthily eating campaigns. But salad is considered one of the products most likely to cause food-related illness – largely because greens are grown directly in the soil, and some pathogens can only be killed by heat or strong detergents, not just water.

Professor Pennington said: “It is generally safer to eat a burger than the salad that goes with it.

“Despite the recent horsemeat and other scandals, the meat can be traced and through a rigorous process that checks for its quality etc.

“That does not exist to the same rigour for salad. You can only make vegetables safe by cooking and you can`t obviously do that with salad.

“You could irradiate it – but that would be a `no, no` with the public. You just can`t be absolutely sure that the bagged salad you are buying – which has been put through a chemical wash to kill the bugs, is actually free of them.

“These bugs are very good at clinging on to salad and the risk from cryptosporidium, salmonella and listeria is very real.

“I would advise people to thoroughly wash salad even when it says it has been washed and is ready to eat.”

Bagged salad on sale in supermarkets is often sourced from the same suppliers for most leaf types, often with common production lines packing product for several retailers at the same time.

Professor Pennington also pointed out that a bean sprout farm in northern Germany was identified as the most likely source of many of the infections in the E. coli outbreak that left 22 people dead in 2011.

The farm, located in Uelzen, south of Hamburg, was the epicentre of the outbreak that has also made more than 2,000 people ill.

Professor Pennington, emeritus professor of bacteriology at the University of Aberdeen, said the biggest E.coli outbreak happened in Japan in 1996 and involved radish sprouts.

“My understanding is that this farm in Germany was an organic one and there are more risks with organic food. For example organic chicken has more bugs than non-organic because they spend longer in the field and have wild bird droppings on them etc.

“Vegetables are fine and safe if they are cooked in the traditional British way of boiling them to death. The only danger comes when you eat them raw.

“Sometimes the spouts are contaminated to start with and they can get contaminated when spouting in the steaming process.

“At the end of the day the responsibility falls on the people who produce food. But much of our vegetables are now grown in countries who do not necessarily have the same hygiene standards.

“At the end of the day there has to be trust who is in supplying you with your food. The consumer has no way of knowing how the food has been produced. The consumer is not in a position to know all that has gone on.”

Professor Pennington headed the investigation into the E.coli outbreak in Wishaw which claimed the lives of 20 elderly people in 1996.


US and UK public reject stronger military support for Syrian rebels

Syrian rebel, Aleppo 16/3/13

A Syrian rebel behind a makeshift barricade during clashes in Aleppo. The UK sends armoured vehicles and body armour to the rebels but the public oppose going further. Photograph: JM Lopez/AFP/Getty Images

(Guardian) -Americans and Britons are deeply sceptical about the idea of arming Syria‘s rebels and the possibility of sending western troops into the country, according to a bilateral poll.

Despite the escalating civil war, growing casualty figures and a rising tide of refugees flooding out of Syria, there is little appetite for more robust action than the current approach of providing “non-lethal support” to the rebels, the YouGov poll found.

There have been increasing demands on Capitol Hill to arm the opponents of the Assad regime or intervene more directly, and this week Barack Obama toughened his own rhetoric amid contested claims about Damascus using chemical weapons. But the new binational survey – produced for YouGov-Cambridge, the polling company’s academic thinktank – finds US voters opposed to the idea of supplying munitions by a 29-point margin: 45% against to 16% in favour.

Identical questions were posed in Britain, where David Cameron has, with the French president, François Hollande, recently tried and failed to persuade the EU to lift its arms embargo. But the British public emerges as even more strongly against: 57% oppose arming the rebels and 16% are in favour.

In both the UK and the US, opposition to arming the rebels is marked on the right as well as the left of the political spectrum: 52% of American Republicans and 63% of British Conservatives are against supplying arms.

Any thought of sending western troops into Syria would also be badly received – especially in the UK. By a 32-point margin (55%-23%) Britons reject the idea of sending in UK and allied troops to protect civilians. The anti-intervention lead rises to 59 points (68%-9%) if the aim were “overthrowing President Bashar al-Assad”.

In the US too, proposals to put boots on the ground would run up against public opinion. Americans lean 33%-27% against sending in troops “to protect civilians”, and are more decisively against directly enforcing regime change, splitting 42%-16% against. Although more Republicans (22%) than Democrats (14%) would be prepared to support the latter, the partisan difference are not as great might have expected given the continuing divisions over the war to topple Saddam Hussein.

Syria_interventions.png Syria_interventions.png
A decade on from the invasion of 2003, YouGov reaffirms the verdict of other pollsters and finds a rough two-to-one (53%-27%) balance of Britons saying that the war launched by George Bush and Tony Blair was wrong rather than right.

US opinion is more evenly divided, with those who believe the war was right holding a slim 41%-38% edge. And whereas in Britain, opposition is consistent across supporters of different parties, in the US the political divide is stark. Democrats judge the war a mistake by a 53%-23% margin, but Republicans remain even more convinced that it was right, splitting 72% to 12% in favour.

While no political faction in either Britain or the US is comparably belligerent in connection with Syria, the mood is not isolationist either. There are strong majorities in favour of the official policy on both sides of the Atlantic, of providing the rebels with “non-lethal support”.

In the US the Obama administration has concentrated on softer support, such as food and medical supplies, but the question’s wording also referred to “armoured vehicles and body armour”, the sort of harder-edged interpretation of “non-lethal” supplies being emphasised by London.

Even with the proposition put in these terms, Americans split 45%-24% in favour of providing the supplies, a 21-point margin. In Britain, the 57%-22% pro-intervention majority on this count is even more emphatic, at 35 points.

For pro-intervention hawks, such as Senator John McCain in the US and increasingly Cameron himself in Britain, there is another encouraging finding. Respondents on both sides of the Atlantic are in favour of “enforcing a no-fly zone over Syria so the Syrian air force cannot attack rebels or civilians”. In the UK that proposition wins public support by a 43-point margin, with 61% in favour and 18% against. In the US there is a 50% to 18% majority behind the same proposition.

If these results point to mixed public attitudes to Syria, YouGov-Cambridge’s detailed analysis on the legacy of Iraq also defies easy characterisation.

Britons are disinclined to believe the conflict made the world a safer place – only 14% say so, as against 38% who judge it has made the world more dangerous and 40% who say it made little difference. They are likewise disinclined to believe the invasion made the lives of ordinary Iraqis better (only 24% think so), and by 71% to 12% they also believe Iraq will remain “permanently unstable” as opposed to becoming a “peaceful democracy”. Americans are somewhat more sanguine on all these counts, in line with their less hostile overall verdict on the war, but in the United States, too, a clear majority of 56% believes Iraq is set for permanent instability.

When memories of Saddam Hussein are invoked, however, the picture changes: by 41% to 21% Britons judge that despite the suffering of war Iraqis would have been even worse off under the rule of Saddam, and in the US opinion leans the same way, by 46% to 17%. These final results seem out of kilter with the UK’s anti-war sentiment in particular. It could be that some respondents are reasoning that while Iraqi life would have been worse under Saddam he might by now have been brought down by other means – or it could be that people give different answers to similar questions phrased in different ways.

YouGov-Cambridge surveyed 1,684 British adults online on 10 and 11 March and a further 1,962 on 13 and 14 March, and 1,022 American adults online from 12 to 14 March. The figures have been weighted and are representative of British and American adults aged 18 or over

White House to argue for GPS tracking without a warrant


(RT) -Lawyers for the Obama administration will argue next week that US authorities are not required to obtain a search warrant before attaching a GPS device to an individual’s car in order to keep tabs on them.

The case, set to be heard on Tuesday by the 3rd US Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia, comes over a year after a US Supreme Court decision failed to convince the Department of Justice that warrantless GPS tracking is an infringement on Americans’ Constitutional rights.

This case is the government’s primary hope that it does not need a judge’s approval to attach a GPS device to a car,” Catherine Crump, a lawyer with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) told Wired magazine.

In January 2012 the Supreme Court overruled an Obama administration assertion that police should be permitted to affix a GPS device to a personal vehicle without a search warrant. Questions were left, however, when the Court declined to answer whether that type of search was unreasonable and when justices could not reach a consensus on how police would need to monitor a suspect before requesting a warrant.

We hold that the government’s installation of a GPS device on a target’s vehicle, and its use of that device to monitor the vehicle’s movement, constitutes a ‘search,’” Justice Antonin Scalia wrote for the five-justice majority last January.

Scalia stipulated in the opinion that a warrant was not always necessary, but failed to mention any specific examples of when this would be the case.

Now prosecutors are honing on Scalia’s exact language, arguing that the Supreme Court’s decision only specifies that the installation of a GPS constitutes a search, while the tracking that follows does not. The government argues that the Supreme Court has given police near free reign in allowing for search warrant exceptions.

Searches of students, individuals on probation and border crossings are among the proposed exceptions.

The argument resurfaced after Philadelphia brothers Harry, Michael and Mark Katzin were indicted for a string of late-night pharmacy burglaries in 2010. Suspicious of the Dodge Caravan they thought was used in the robberies, investigators monitored the vehicle with a GPS device for 48 hours and were able to trace the brothers’ involvement.

Arguing in US v. Katzin, government prosecutors claimed that a law requiring them to seek a warrant would seriously impede investigations of terrorist suspects.

Requiring a warrant and probable cause before officers may attach a GPS device to a vehicle, which is inherently mobile and may no longer be at the location observed when the warrant is obtained, would seriously impede the government’s ability to investigate drug trafficking, terrorism and other crimes,” authorities said in court.

Law enforcement officers could not use GPS devices to gather information to establish probable cause, which is often the most productive use of such devices. Thus, the balancing of law enforcement interests with the minimally intrusive nature of GPS installation and monitoring makes clear that a showing of reasonable suspicion suffices to permit use of a ‘slap-on’ device like that used in this case.”

While the ACLU accused the government of prosecutorial overreach in the case, it praised a new bill – the so-called ‘GPS Act’ – that would require law enforcement to get a warrant in order to access an individual’s GPS tracking history, whether it be from a vehicle device or a cell phone provider. The bill, which would not affect emergency services but would require police to prove probable cause, was reintroduced into Congress by Senators Ron Wyden (D-OR), Mike Kirk (R-IL) and Representative Jason Chaffetz (R-UT).

In a statement, Wyden decried the government’s blind eye to police overreach.

GPS technology has evolved into a useful commercial and law enforcement tool – but the rules for the use of that tool have not evolved with it,” he said. “The GPS Act provides law enforcement with a clear mandate for when to obtain a warrant for the geolocation information of an American…It protects the privacy and civil liberty of any American using a GPS-enabled device.”

Energy drinks ‘could trigger cardiac arrest’

(Digital Journal) – Researchers from the University of the Pacific are claiming that energy drinks, which often contain large amounts of caffeine and other stimulants such as taurine can raise blood pressure, leading a person to face cardiac arrest.
The doctors said the evidence they found that energy drinks raise blood pressure was both “concerning and convincing,” The Telegraph reports. Specifically, they found the drinks raised systolic blood pressure by 3.15 points.


“More studies are needed to assess the impact on heart rhythm, Sachin Shah, the lead author of the study said. He warned that patients with high blood pressure or long QT syndrome should use caution when consuming energy drinks.


With the new research, shares of Monster Beverage Corp (MNST.O) have fallen by as much as much as 8%. The company’s shares were trading down at $48.71 after the bell Thursday. They closed at $50.35 on Nasdaq.


Earlier this month, the company said its medical investigators found no connection between its product and the death of a teenage girl in Maryland, Reuters reports.


The girl’s parents sued Monster last year.


Last year, the energy drink company was cited in five different deaths.


Regarding this week’s research, Dr. Ian Riddick, director of preventive cardiology at the David Grant Medical Centre at Travis Air Force Base in California, said that “QT prolongation is associated with life threatening arrhythmias,” The Telegraph reports.


“The finding that energy drinks could prolong the QT (heart’s electrical cycle) in light of the reports of sudden cardiac health, warrants further investigation,” he said.


The research was presented at a conference run by the American Heart Association.


According to Reuters and The Telegraph both Monster and Red Bull UK were not available for comment.

Twenty Lies About The Iraq War


(BlackListedNews) -Falsehoods ranging from exaggeration to plain untruth were used to make the case for war. More lies are being used in the aftermath.

1 Iraq was responsible for the 11 September attacks

A supposed meeting in Prague between Mohammed Atta, leader of the 11 September hijackers, and an Iraqi intelligence official was the main basis for this claim, but Czech intelligence later conceded that the Iraqi’s contact could not have been Atta. This did not stop the constant stream of assertions that Iraq was involved in 9/11, which was so successful that at one stage opinion polls showed that two-thirds of Americans believed the hand of Saddam Hussein was behind the attacks. Almost as many believed Iraqi hijackers were aboard the crashed airliners; in fact there were none.

2 Iraq and al-Qa’ida were working together

Persistent claims by US and British leaders that Saddam and Osama bin Laden were in league with each other were contradicted by a leaked British Defence Intelligence Staff report, which said there were no current links between them. Mr Bin Laden’s “aims are in ideological conflict with present-day Iraq”, it added.

Another strand to the claims was that al-Qa’ida members were being sheltered in Iraq, and had set up a poisons training camp. When US troops reached the camp, they found no chemical or biological traces.

3 Iraq was seeking uranium from Africa for a “reconstituted” nuclear weapons programme

The head of the CIA has now admitted that documents purporting to show that Iraq tried to import uranium from Niger in west Africa were forged, and that the claim should never have been in President Bush’s State of the Union address. Britain sticks by the claim, insisting it has “separate intelligence”. The Foreign Office conceded last week that this information is now “under review”.

4 Iraq was trying to import aluminium tubes to develop nuclear weapons

The US persistently alleged that Baghdad tried to buy high-strength aluminum tubes whose only use could be in gas centrifuges, needed to enrich uranium for nuclear weapons. Equally persistently, the International Atomic Energy Agency said the tubes were being used for artillery rockets. The head of the IAEA, Mohamed El Baradei, told the UN Security Council in January that the tubes were not even suitable for centrifuges.

5 Iraq still had vast stocks of chemical and biological weapons from the first Gulf War

Iraq possessed enough dangerous substances to kill the whole world, it was alleged more than once. It had pilotless aircraft which could be smuggled into the US and used to spray chemical and biological toxins. Experts pointed out that apart from mustard gas, Iraq never had the technology to produce materials with a shelf-life of 12 years, the time between the two wars. All such agents would have deteriorated to the point of uselessness years ago.

6 Iraq retained up to 20 missiles which could carry chemical or biological warheads, with a range which would threaten British forces in Cyprus

Apart from the fact that there has been no sign of these missiles since the invasion, Britain downplayed the risk of there being any such weapons in Iraq once the fighting began. It was also revealed that chemical protection equipment was removed from British bases in Cyprus last year, indicating that the Government did not take its own claims seriously.

7 Saddam Hussein had the wherewithal to develop smallpox

This allegation was made by the Secretary of State, Colin Powell, in his address to the UN Security Council in February. The following month the UN said there was nothing to support it.

8 US and British claims were supported by the inspectors

According to Jack Straw, chief UN weapons inspector Hans Blix “pointed out” that Iraq had 10,000 litres of anthrax. Tony Blair said Iraq’s chemical, biological and “indeed the nuclear weapons programme” had been well documented by the UN. Mr Blix’s reply? “This is not the same as saying there are weapons of mass destruction,” he said last September. “If I had solid evidence that Iraq retained weapons of mass destruction or were constructing such weapons, I would take it to the Security Council.” In May this year he added: “I am obviously very interested in the question of whether or not there were weapons of mass destruction, and I am beginning to suspect there possibly were not.”

9 Previous weapons inspections had failed

Tony Blair told this newspaper in March that the UN had “tried unsuccessfully for 12 years to get Saddam to disarm peacefully”. But in 1999 a Security Council panel concluded: “Although important elements still have to be resolved, the bulk of Iraq’s proscribed weapons programmes has been eliminated.” Mr Blair also claimed UN inspectors “found no trace at all of Saddam’s offensive biological weapons programme” until his son-in-law defected. In fact the UN got the regime to admit to its biological weapons programme more than a month before the defection.

10 Iraq was obstructing the inspectors

Britain’s February “dodgy dossier” claimed inspectors’ escorts were “trained to start long arguments” with other Iraqi officials while evidence was being hidden, and inspectors’ journeys were monitored and notified ahead to remove surprise. Dr Blix said in February that the UN had conducted more than 400 inspections, all without notice, covering more than 300 sites. “We note that access to sites has so far been without problems,” he said. : “In no case have we seen convincing evidence that the Iraqi side knew that the inspectors were coming.”

11 Iraq could deploy its weapons of mass destruction in 45 minutes

This now-notorious claim was based on a single source, said to be a serving Iraqi military officer. This individual has not been produced since the war, but in any case Tony Blair contradicted the claim in April. He said Iraq had begun to conceal its weapons in May 2002, which meant that they could not have been used within 45 minutes.

12 The “dodgy dossier”

Mr Blair told the Commons in February, when the dossier was issued: “We issued further intelligence over the weekend about the infrastructure of concealment. It is obviously difficult when we publish intelligence reports.” It soon emerged that most of it was cribbed without attribution from three articles on the internet. Last month Alastair Campbell took responsibility for the plagiarism committed by his staff, but stood by the dossier’s accuracy, even though it confused two Iraqi intelligence organisations, and said one moved to new headquarters in 1990, two years before it was created.

13 War would be easy

Public fears of war in the US and Britain were assuaged by assurances that oppressed Iraqis would welcome the invading forces; that “demolishing Saddam Hussein’s military power and liberating Iraq would be a cakewalk”, in the words of Kenneth Adelman, a senior Pentagon official in two previous Republican administrations. Resistance was patchy, but stiffer than expected, mainly from irregular forces fighting in civilian clothes. “This wasn’t the enemy we war-gamed against,” one general complained.

14 Umm Qasr

The fall of Iraq’s southernmost city and only port was announced several times before Anglo-American forces gained full control – by Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, among others, and by Admiral Michael Boyce, chief of Britain’s defence staff. “Umm Qasr has been overwhelmed by the US Marines and is now in coalition hands,” the Admiral announced, somewhat prematurely.

15 Basra rebellion

Claims that the Shia Muslim population of Basra, Iraq’s second city, had risen against their oppressors were repeated for days, long after it became clear to those there that this was little more than wishful thinking. The defeat of a supposed breakout by Iraqi armour was also announced by military spokesman in no position to know the truth.

16 The “rescue” of Private Jessica Lynch

Private Jessica Lynch’s “rescue” from a hospital in Nasiriya by American special forces was presented as the major “feel-good” story of the war. She was said to have fired back at Iraqi troops until her ammunition ran out, and was taken to hospital suffering bullet and stab wounds. It has since emerged that all her injuries were sustained in a vehicle crash, which left her incapable of firing any shot. Local medical staff had tried to return her to the Americans after Iraqi forces pulled out of the hospital, but the doctors had to turn back when US troops opened fire on them. The special forces encountered no resistance, but made sure the whole episode was filmed.

17 Troops would face chemical and biological weapons

As US forces approached Baghdad, there was a rash of reports that they would cross a “red line”, within which Republican Guard units were authorised to use chemical weapons. But Lieutenant General James Conway, the leading US marine general in Iraq, conceded afterwards that intelligence reports that chemical weapons had been deployed around Baghdad before the war were wrong.

“It was a surprise to me … that we have not uncovered weapons … in some of the forward dispersal sites,” he said. “We’ve been to virtually every ammunition supply point between the Kuwaiti border and Baghdad, but they’re simply not there. We were simply wrong. Whether or not we’re wrong at the national level, I think still very much remains to be seen.”

18 Interrogation of scientists would yield the location of WMD

“I have got absolutely no doubt that those weapons are there … once we have the co-operation of the scientists and the experts, I have got no doubt that we will find them,” Tony Blair said in April. Numerous similar assurances were issued by other leading figures, who said interrogations would provide the WMD discoveries that searches had failed to supply. But almost all Iraq’s leading scientists are in custody, and claims that lingering fears of Saddam Hussein are stilling their tongues are beginning to wear thin.

19 Iraq’s oil money would go to Iraqis

Tony Blair complained in Parliament that “people falsely claim that we want to seize” Iraq’s oil revenues, adding that they should be put in a trust fund for the Iraqi people administered through the UN. Britain should seek a Security Council resolution that would affirm “the use of all oil revenues for the benefit of the Iraqi people”.

Instead Britain co-sponsored a Security Council resolution that gave the US and UK control over Iraq’s oil revenues. There is no UN-administered trust fund.

Far from “all oil revenues” being used for the Iraqi people, the resolution continues to make deductions from Iraq’s oil earnings to pay in compensation for the invasion of Kuwait in 1990.

20 WMD were found

After repeated false sightings, both Tony Blair and George Bush proclaimed on 30 May that two trailers found in Iraq were mobile biological laboratories. “We have already found two trailers, both of which we believe were used for the production of biological weapons,” said Mr Blair. Mr Bush went further: “Those who say we haven’t found the banned manufacturing devices or banned weapons – they’re wrong. We found them.” It is now almost certain that the vehicles were for the production of hydrogen for weather balloons, just as the Iraqis claimed – and that they were exported by Britain.

DHS to Scan Private Sector Business Emails


(Off Grid Survial) – The Department of Homeland Security announced it will be expanded it’s email spying program to include American citizens.

Under the flag of cyber security, NBC is reporting DHS is in the process of expanding its “cybersecurity program” to scan Internet traffic and emails from U.S. private, civilian-run infrastructure. As part of the program, DHS will now scan most emails sent from private sector employees who work in industries like banking, utilities and transportation.

The program is being sold as a precautionary measure to protect the county from cyber attacks, but like everything DHS does I believe this is just one more example of a government agency that has grown out of control.

The program was put in place through an executive order on cybersecurity that was signed by President Obama last month. Yet again, our liberty is attacked without even a vote in congress; sadly even that probably wouldn’t have stopped it, since most of these spineless politicians seem hell bent on shredding the Constituion.

Obama administration skirts the law by making DHS the middleman

To get around privacy laws, The Department of Homeland Security will gather the private data and then pass it off to a small group of private companies for analysis. By using these private companies, DHS makes it harder for the public to fight back in court, since many of these companies routinely collect private data as part of their standard business practices.

While cyber attacks are a very real threat, a threat that we talk about a lot, I don’t believe setting up a survaliance program to spy on Americans is the answer to the problem, especially when most of these attacks are being conducted by foreign governments.

Western New York State residents baffled by mysterious ‘boom noises’




(TheDailySheeple) – It was about midnight on a night last week when Randy Smith took his dog outside and for the third time this year, heard the mysterious booms. “Three times in a row I heard it,” Smith said. “It sounds as loud as a sonic boom. Maybe louder.

As soon as it goes off, the dog starts growling and gets startled.” Smith and his father, Laverne Smith, live at 748 Lewiston Rd. (Route 77) and have been hearing the booms for nearly two years now. They cannot pinpoint the source of the noise.

“You can’t tell what direction it’s coming from,” Laverne Smith, 76, said. “The last good weather we had I was out near the shed and heard it.”

Last year they heard the booms about 10 times, sometimes during the day and sometimes at night. “It seems to be just around here,” Randy Smith said. “I asked my sister who lives in Alabama Center and she hasn’t heard it.” It is a phenomena that has sparked curiosity throughout the country for several years now.

The booms, however, have grown more frequent. In December, people in Rhode Island, Alabama, Georgia, Texas, and Oklahoma reported hearing unusual booms and explosions. Newspaper reports revealed no unusual seismic activity in those regions, and all the noises have yet to be explained.

In January, hundreds of people in northern Utah called emergency dispatchers reporting booms and shaking of the earth. The cause remains a mystery, though the Air Force said it had done training exercises, dropping bombs in the desert. Locally, 911 dispatchers in Chautauqua County were inundated with calls on Jan. 13, all reporting hearing a loud boom that shook houses.

Police eventually determined the noise came from a 20-year-old man using an explosive called Tannerite, a legal compound that when struck with a bullet explodes. A few days later, on Jan. 16, residents in Gorham, Ontario County, reported a series of booms.

“It was just a loud, explosion-like sound,” Janet Koller told the Canandaigua Messenger Post. “We saw nothing. It was dark by then. It was hard to even tell what direction it came from. It shook the house.”

Ontario County sheriff’s officials said several people called to report the still unexplained booms. Booms also were reported in Le Roy. Former Daily News editor Ben Beagle said he was in his living room about 9 p.m. March 9 when he heard “some booms.”

“I thought it was just neighbors, maybe shutting doors or something. Then, about 9:09 p.m., a series of boom-boom-booms that I thought must be thunder.”

He checked the weather radar and all was clear, he said. Genesee County Senior Dispatcher Gary Diegelman said the county’s 911 system did not receive any reports of booms. He offered a few possible explanations for booms, at least those heard during the day.

Diegelman said the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms often uses stone quarries in Le Roy and Alabama for training and detonating explosives. “We’ve had them coming in the past few years and they probably make a good-sized blast,” he said. “At night, it’s possible its propane cannons they use on farms to scare away animals.”

Those, however, are usually heard during the spring and early summer when crops are planted are in various stages of growth. Three farmers contacted this week reported they do not use propane cannons and weren’t aware of any local farmers that do, at least at this time of year.

So what’s going on? Dr. Mark Castner, director of Braun-Ruddick Seismograph Station at Canisius College, told WIVB-TV in Buffalo that booms can be associated with an earthquake, quarry blasts, building implosions or sonic booms. Seismographic records reported no unusual activity, however, and officials at Niagara Falls Air Reserve have had no aircraft flying in the area during the times of the reported booms.

The Smiths live near National Fuel’s Empire Pipeline for natural gas. Could that be an explanation? No, says spokeswoman Karen Merkel. “I checked and we have no issues with the pipeline, we’re not doing any testing and we have no reported leaks,” she said. “We have nothing going on but we do want to be aware of it.” The Smiths have no idea what causes the booms around their house

Virginia government prosecutes homeowner with criminal charges for backyard chickens that produce organic eggs


(Natural News) -An ongoing debate over the rights of homeowners to raise and keep their own chickens may soon gain an audience in the Virgina Supreme Court.

Attorneys at the Rutherford Institute have filed a Petition for Appeal on behalf of Virginia Beach resident Tracy Gugal-Okroy, who faces criminal charges related to zoning ordinance violations for keeping chickens in her backyard.

The organization, a nationally active group which is dedicated to upholding constitutional and property rights, is urging the court to protect local residents against what it referred to in a statement posted online as “onerous regulations that render otherwise law-abiding individuals as criminals simply for attempting to grow or raise their own food in a sustainable manner.”

Gugal-Okroy’s friendly flock has grown to 22 since 2011, when she purchased her first dozen baby chicks from a local farm. Each one is a family pet, she says, and her family has named them all. In addition to the enjoyment of their beloved companionship, Gugal-Okroy’s family has come to reap additional benefits from looking after the chickens — namely, the continual production of fresh, organic eggs, a steady supply of sustainable garden compost and fertilizer the chicken’s manure provides, and even natural pest elimination as the chickens feed on mosquitoes and other bugs. The chickens are quiet and well-protected from predators, keeping either to their coop or fenced-in quarters. And all are there with blessings from Gugal-Okroy’s neighbors, with whom she had consulted beforehand.

But her neighborly courtesy doesn’t mean much to local officials in the City of Virginia Beach. A January 2012 notice from the city inspector alerted Gugal-Okroy that by keeping her chickens on her property, she may be in violation of a local zoning ordinance referring to “agricultural and horticultural uses” within residential districts, and excepting “poultry.” Despite her subsequent appellate fight, which included multiple letters of support from neighbors, the City’s Zoning Board of Appeals maintained that chickens were not allowed in the city. A later subsequent to the circuit court also ended poorly for Gugal-Okroy, when in an October 2012 ruling, the court upheld the zoning board’s decision, finding that Gugal-Okroy had, in fact, violated the zoning ordinance. By that time, Gugal-Okroy had also received a summons charging her with violating the city’s ordinance, which included a possible fine of up to $1,000.

Attorneys at the Rutherford Institute are now hoping they can help to shift momentum in Gugal-Okroy’s favor. In their petition to the Virginia Supreme Court, they challenge the lower court’s interpretation of the ordinance, arguing that restrictions pertaining to keeping fowl or “poultry” within the city do not apply to animals raised as companions and pets. Nonetheless, the case does carry potentially serious implications for individuals who prefer to raise their own wholesome food.

“Burdensome rules, regulations and inspection requirements — many of which are indecipherable except to lawyers and bureaucrats — now impede the ability of health-conscious individuals and small farmers to raise and produce their own food free of corporate contaminants,” said John W. Whitehead, president of The Rutherford Institute. “This case speaks to a growing problem in America today, namely, the over-criminalization and over-regulation of a process that once was at the heart of America’s self-sufficiency – the ability to cultivate one’s own food, locally and sustainably.”

Health Ranger offers advice for raising chickens at home

Whether in an act of civil disobedience, to stand in solidarity with Gugal-Okroy, or simply to play a more active role in nurturing a sustainable environment, see the link below for tips and best practices from Health Ranger Mike Adams on raising your own chickens at home.

Ambassador: US providing $114 million in aid to Syrian rebels




(Theuglytruth and TheHill) – The Obama administration is providing the Syrian opposition with $114 million in aid, more than previously revealed, to help topple Bashar Assad, U.S. Ambassador Robert Ford told Congress on Wednesday.

Ford briefed House appropriators in a closed-door hearing following Secretary of State John Kerry’s announcement last month that America would provide $60 million in direct food and medicine assistance to the Syrian Opposition Coalition. The aid, Ford said, is in addition to $54 million in communications gear and other aid already offered to “disparate Syrian opposition groups across the country to build a network of ethnically and religiously diverse civilian activists.”

“Preserving national unity and laying the foundation for a free Syria that respects the rights of all its citizens is essential if we are to secure a Syria that helps rather than threatens stability in the heart of the Middle East,” Ford told the committee, according to his opening statement, which was obtained by The Hill. “Collapse and fragmentation of the Syrian state or its takeover by extremists would worsen the risks associated with chemical weapons security, terrorist bases, and new refugee flows inundating neighboring states. Those outcomes would directly threaten our interests.”

He said the State Department would create a small grants initiative the Syrian Opposition Council would use to help local councils meet the needs of their citizens, including “supporting the work of these new governing institutions and helping them undertake service delivery projects for their communities.” And the U.S. Agency for International Development will create two programs designed to have “immediate impact”: One to provide short-term assistance for urgent needs, such as fuel, heaters, and nutritional and educational supplies for children; the other, to support strategic, longer-term needs such as repairing schools, local power, and sanitation.

“The membership is very concerned and the ambassador was very straightforward in what he had to say,” said Rep. Kay Granger (R-Texas), the chairwoman of the Appropriations subcommittee on foreign operations. “A lot of questions, there aren’t answers to yet because we don’t know the end-game.”

Rep. Charlie Dent (R-Pa.) said he pressed for answers about the White House’s decision to override last summer’s recommendations from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta to arm the rebels.

“Those are the concerns I had,” he said.

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), who represents a number of Syrian-Americans, has pressed the Department of Homeland Security to grant emergency temporary visas to the nearly nearly six thousand Syrian nationals with approved immigrant petitions.

“We’re trying to be as aggressive as we can without taking the risk that the assistance we give could be used against us down the road,” he said. “We continue to probe on the best way to assist the opposition.”

15,000 police for Obama’s visit to Israel



(TheUglyTruth) -This week, Israeli police focused primarily US president’s upcoming visit; vacations cancelled, ‘general rehearsal’ planned for Monday

ed note–for the record, so that no one can say that the discussion never took place, let us consider the words of former Mossad agent Victor Ostrovsky concerning Israel’s plan to assassinate then-US President George Herbert Walker Bush at the Madrid peace conference in 1991–

‘Since the Mossad had all the security arrangements in hand, it would not be a problem bringing the killers as close as they wanted to President Bush and then staging his assassination. In the ensuing confusion, the Mossad people would kill the ‘perpetrators,’ scoring yet another victory for the Mossad. With the assassins dead, it would be difficult to discover where the ‘security breach’ had been, except that several countries involved in the conference, such as Syria, were regarded as countries that assisted terrorists.’


Around 15,000 police will participate in efforts to secure US President Barak Obama throughout his visit next week. Israeli police will go into operational activity level, cancelling vacations and days off.

Over 5,000 officers will be involved in protecting the presidential entourage, which includes more than 600 people. In Jerusalem, there will be 3,000 active officers.

“We are preparing for even the gravest possibility and are not relying only on intelligence. We are taking into account every scenario that could develop,” said head of operations, Brigadier General Nissim Mor. “We are talking about a very complicated operation.”

Police are preparing for different scenarios ranging from an attempt to hurt the president, to the possibility of developments in the north or the south. There are also arrangements being made with the Palestinian Authority and at the beginning of next week police will launch a campaign to track down Palestinians residing illegally in Israel.

Mor said that activists of Peace Now and haredi groups intend to hold demonstrations throughout the visit. “The police will allow demonstrations as long as they are within legal limits,” Mor said.

Security personnel will be stationed at Ben Gurion Airport, as well as at the other locations Obama is scheduled to visit. Each of these locations will have a high ranking officer with operations and special forces soldiers at his disposal. Special police forces will accompany the nearly 60-vehicle presidential motorcade.

As part of the preparations, case scenarios will be played out on Friday with American security officials. The police will open a special center on Sunday that will provide information to the public regarding the Obama visit.

On Monday, a ‘general rehearsal’ will be held for all forces participating in the operation. Police Commissioner Yohanan Danino and senior police staff will all be involved.

Protesters battle cops in Brooklyn


(NYDailyNews) -Protesters enraged over the fatal shooting of a teenager by police poured into Brooklyn streets for a third straight night Wednesday, pitching bricks, bottles and garbage in furious clashes with cops.

 At least 46 demonstrators were arrested along Church Ave. in East Flatbush. Police struggled to control a hostile crowd that broke away from a planned peaceful vigil for Kimani (Kiki) Gray, 16, killed by police on Saturday night.


Sam Costanza/New York Daily News

Police push protesters back on Church Ave. in East Flatbush.

Gray’s sister Mahnefeh was among those arrested. A police officer suffered a gash in the face when a tossed brick hit him, NYPD spokesman Paul Browne said, and a window was smashed in an inspector’s car.




Kimani Gray is shown in this undated photo released on Sunday, March 10, 2013, in New York. Gray was shot and killed by New York City police officers in Brooklyn, when he allegedly pointed a .38 caliber revolver at them. Both officers fired, striking Gray. He was taken to Kings County Hospital, where he was pronounced DOA.

“They didn’t have to kill him,” Makaeo Williams, 18, said as police on motorcycles tracked alongside him. “I’m feeling mad inside. I’m angry. That’s why I’m out here.”

Many in the community contest police allegations that Gray pointed a gun at cops when he was shot during a confrontation with two plainclothes officers on E. 52nd St. Saturday night. Those suspicions on the street intensified Wednesday when an autopsy report revealed Gray was hit by seven bullets — three to the back.


Sam Costanza/New York Daily News

A pregnant protester who was knocked to the ground gets help from other protesters.

It was not clear in what order the shots struck the teen or whether he had his back to the police when they opened fire .



Sam Costanza/New York Daily News

Protesters taunt cops on Church Ave.

A witness told the Daily News Tuesday that the youth did not have a gun in his hand. But a police spokesman said the witness told detectives she couldn’t see the incident clearly “from the angle I was at.”

A woman who identified herself as Gray’s cousin told news outlets Wednesday that the teen was carrying a gun for a friend and was trying to alert cops that he had a weapon when he was shot. A loaded .38-caliber revolver was recovered at the scene.


Todd Maisel/New York Daily News

Tishana King said she witnessed the shooting of Kimani Gray from her third floor window and she says she saw no gun.

The trouble Wednesday night began soon after more than 200 people set off from the vigil site at Church Ave. and E. 55th St. around 8:30 p.m.



Ellis Washington

Photo of crime scene.

Dozens chanted “NYPD, KKK, how many kids did you kill today” as they marched west on Church Ave. toward the 67th Precinct stationhouse.

But things quickly got out of hand as some protesters tried to climb on police motorcycles. Men and women were pepper-sprayed and thrown to the ground and handcuffed.


Ellis Washington

The spot where Kimani Gray was killed by NYPD. Councilman Jumaane Williams has locked horns with Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly over the incident.

“I’m scared for everything, myself, my store, my workers,” said Salm Sami, 45, who owns the Deli, Grill & Grocery at Church and New York Aves. “This is three days of this.”

The protesters eventually backtracked to the vigil site where the parents of Ramarley Graham — an unarmed teenager fatally shot by police in the Bronx last year — were waiting. “It never seems to end,” said Frank Graham, Ramarley’s father. “The community has a right to be angry.”

But City Councilman Jumaane Williams, a frequent NYPD critic, blasted outsiders who he said escalated tensions. “Please stay the HELL out of our community will only agitate our kids,” Williams fumed on Twitter. “It’s dangerous and counterproductive.” ”

With Thomas Tracy, Joe Kemp and Rocco Parascandola

Planned Parenthood Suing to Perform Webcam Abortions

(Infowars) -After Wisconsin amended a law last year to ban the practice of “webcam abortions,” Planned Parenthood sued the state in federal court and lost. Now the organization has refiled that suit in another bid to overturn the law.

Wisconsin has joined Arizona, Nebraska, Kansas and South Dakota in banning the practice. Five other states are in the process of passing similar laws requiring a doctor to be physically present to examine a woman before she can terminate her pregnancy.

So what exactly takes place during a webcam abortion?

During this process, which Planned Parenthood refers to as “telemedicine” or “telehealth”, a woman merely chats with a doctor over the Internet. If the physician is satisfied by this conversation and a glance at her medical records, he presses a button at his location, and a drawer pops open in the patient’s room, giving her access to abortion-inducing drugs including RU-486.



Not only does this process further dehumanize an already dehumanizing act, but the distance between doctor and patient can sometimes be hundreds of miles, potentially leaving these women without direct access to the abortionist should she have complications.

Although pill-induced abortions have been touted as a natural alternative and “like a miscarriage,” they have been shown to be incredibly painful and dangerous. In fact, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released a report in 2011 regarding the thousands of adverse reactions, blood transfusions and even deaths that have been linked to RU-486.

Beyond that, more and more in our postmodern society we see humans being removed from the act of killing. Just like our nation’s unconstitutional drone wars that remotely slay thousands of innocent women and children halfway around the world at the push of a button, webcam abortions require even less human contact to kill an unborn child.

Webcam abortions are a big revenue generator for Planned Parenthood, as they require little upgrade in equipment and even less staff to perform them at more locations. The organization averaged one abortion every 94 seconds last year, ending the lives of 333,964 babies. Having received $542.4 million dollars in federal funding, Planned Parenthood’s assets now sit at over a billion dollars.

That figure will surely rise unless more states outlaw the dangerous, dehumanizing practice of webcam abortions.

Man faces five years in prison for releasing balloons on beach as a romantic gesture


(NaturalNews) We’ve seen it in the movies and perhaps even witnessed it in person, but most of us never realized it was an offense punishable with lots of prison time.

When Anthony Brasfield released a dozen heart-shaped balloons into the sky over Dania Beach, Fla., for his his sweetheart, all he wanted was to create the perfect atmosphere of romance. What he created instead was a court date.

According to the Sun-Sentinel newspaper, Brasfield’s act of love was witnessed by a Florida Highway Patrol trooper. What he saw was not an act of love but a felony.

Massive jail time for – balloons?

The 40-year-old Brasfield was with his girlfriend, Shaquina Baxter, in the parking lot of a Motel 6 on Dania Beach Boulevard when he released the 12 shiny, red and silver mylar balloons into the sky and watched them float away in the Sunday morning breeze.

But the trooper saw nothing more than probable cause for a crime against the environment. Apparently, lawmakers in the Sunshine State think it’s appropriate to treat what should have been, at most, simple littering (to which courts would have issued a fine, maybe?), into a major crime against Mother Nature. As if Florida jails weren’t full enough.

The trooper arrested Brasfield and charged him with polluting to harm humans, animals, plants and everything else living under the Florida Air and Water Pollution Control Act.

“Endangered marine turtle species and birds, such as wood storks and brown pelicans, seek refuge in John U. Lloyd State Park, about 1.5 miles east of the motel,” said the paper.

As you might imagine, the law is rarely used. According to the Sun-Sentinel, just 21 arrests were made under the environmental statute between 2008 and 2012.

What is amazing, however, is the severity of the crime – it is a third-degree felony that is punishable by up to five years in prison. Just as one example, in other parts of the country, people who intentionally or actively work to harm the environment get about the same jail time. (

Granted, it was a violation of the law, but…

It’s too early to tell if a Florida court will actually sentence Brasfield to that much time but the fact that someone could be thrown in prison for five years for such a low-level environmental crime is difficult to fathom, especially given what seems to be an obvious fact: That Brasfield was not purposefully demonstrating malice or contempt for the law.

And while ignorance of the law is no excuse, we have a little provision of superseding law in American known as the Eight Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which forbids “cruel and unusual punishment.”

Environmental preservation is important, of course, but there are real criminals committing real crimes in America that have dramatically more far-reaching and harmful effects on society than do individuals releasing balloons as a gesture of romance. Shouldn’t we save our harshest punishment for the really serious environmental polluters?

A nun, a senior citizen, and a poll worker- busted


(CAV News) – If the headline sounds like a bad bar joke, that’s because it nearly is one. Instead, all three are being charged with voter/voting fraud.

Prosecutors in Ohio’s Hamiliton County allege that a poll worker of at least fourteen years is being charged for voting twice for herself, and several other times for relatives in various elections.


Poll worker, Melowese Richardson, could face up to 12 years in prison if convicted of illegal voting.

Russell Glossop, 75, is being charged with filing an absentee ballot on behalf of his deceased wife. I guess that would be considered an absentee ballot, literally. If he is convicted he faces up to 18 months in prison.

And finally our beloved Sister Marguerite Kloos, could face 18 months in prison for casting a ballot on behalf of a dead nun. She pleaded guilty and will cooperate.