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NY bomb attempt reignites security camera debate The thwarted Times Square car bombing has fueled the debate over security cameras and expensive surveillance for major cities, possibly providing a business opportunity to the security industry. - The bomb scare and quick capture of the suspect prompted U.S. Senator Charles Schumer of New York and others to ask for at least $30 million more in federal aid for video and security measures for New York City. That would be in addition to the $20 million in federal funding that has already been appropriated for 2010. (Reuters)
Chernobyl Death Toll: 4,000 or 1 Million? Last week, a few alternative and environmental news outlets drew attention to a newly published science book that put the cumulative death toll of the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear accident at more than a million—a story that had particular resonance on the 24th anniversary of the reactor meltdown, the book’s publication date. But the story did not bleed out into the mainstream media, and even the progressive website Alternet seemed suspicious, calling the 1 million estimate an “astounding allegation” in its headline.
The number is dramatically higher than the estimate of 4,000 deaths presented in a 2005 report by the International Atomic Energy Agency, the World Health Organization, and the United Nations Development Program—a figure that has often been criticized as being far too low and influenced by the IAEA’s pro-nuclear agenda. (UTNE Reader)
Netroots to Obama FCC: Inaction Is Not an Option Bloggers were joined by online advocacy groups including MoveOn, CredoAction, ColorofChange.org, SavetheInternet.com, Care2 and the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), which are urging the FCC chair not to abdicate his responsibility to stop corporations from picking and choosing how users access information over the Internet. (Huffington Post)
BP's Worsening Spill Crisis Undermines CEO's Reforms When Mr. Hayward took over BP's leadership from John Browne three years ago this week, the company was at one of the lowest points in its history: badly run, accident-prone and accused in the aftermath of a deadly explosion at its Texas City refinery of putting profits before safety. Mr. Hayward turned BP around, boosting production, cutting costs and significantly reducing on-the-job injuries. Last month, he was confident enough to talk of an irreversible "change of culture" at BP. (Wall Street Journal)
US Orders Blackout Over North Korean Torpedoing Of Gulf Of Mexico Oil Rig A grim report circulating in the Kremlin today written by Russia’s Northern Fleet is reporting that the United States has ordered a complete media blackout over North Korea’s torpedoing of the giant Deepwater Horizon oil platform owned by the World’s largest offshore drilling contractor Transocean that was built and financed by South Korea’s Hyundai Heavy Industries Co. Ltd., that has caused great loss of life, untold billions in economic damage to the South Korean economy, and an environmental catastrophe to the United States. (European Union Times)
Goldman shares plunge as feds open criminal probe The SEC brought civil fraud charges against Goldman and a trader in connection with the transactions in 2006 and 2007. The agency alleged the firm misled investors by failing to tell them the subprime mortgage securities had been chosen with help from a Goldman hedge fund client, Paulson & Co., that was betting the investments would fail. Goldman and the trader, Fabrice Tourre, have denied wrongdoing and said they will contest the allegations in court. (Associated Press)
It’s Now the ‘BP Spill’ In the last couple of days, the administration has shifted from calling the spill at a British Petroleum well the “Deepwater Horizon incident” to the BP spill. And President Barack Obama said again today that “BP is ultimately responsible under the law for paying the costs of response and cleanup operations.” (Wall Street Journal)
Possible Supreme Court pick had ties with Goldman Sachs Solicitor General Elena Kagan was a member of the Research Advisory Council of the Goldman Sachs Global Markets Institute, according to the financial disclosures she filed when President Obama appointed her last year to her current post. Kagan served on the Goldman panel from 2005 through 2008, when she was dean of Harvard Law School, and received a $10,000 stipend for her service in 2008, her disclosure forms show. (USA Today)
Goldman Donations to Obama Campaign Totaled Nearly $1 Million Obama received the money from employees and their family members, making Goldman Sachs second only to the University of California as his biggest single source for donors in 2007 and 2008, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. - Wall Street provided three of Obama’s seven biggest sources of contributors for his presidential bid. In 2007 and 2008, Goldman Sachs employees and family members gave him $994,795, Citigroup Inc. $701,290, and JPMorgan Chase & Co. $695,132. (Bloomberg)
Chomsky Warns of Risk of Fascism in America Noam Chomsky, the leading leftwing intellectual, warned last week that fascism may be coming to the United States.
“I’m just old enough to have heard a number of Hitler’s speeches on the radio,” he said, “and I have a memory of the texture and the tone of the cheering mobs, and I have the dread sense of the dark clouds of fascism gathering” here at home.
Chomsky was speaking to more than 1,000 people at the Orpheum Theatre in Madison, Wisconsin, where he received the University of Wisconsin’s A.E. Havens Center’s award for lifetime contribution to critical scholarship. (The Progressive)
John Holdren, Obama's Science Czar, says: Forced abortions and mass sterilization needed to save the planet Direct quotes from John Holdren's Ecoscience - In a book Holdren co-authored in 1977, the man now firmly in control of science policy in this country wrote that: • Women could be forced to abort their pregnancies, whether they wanted to or not; • The population at large could be sterilized by infertility drugs intentionally put into the nation's drinking water or in food; • Single mothers and teen mothers should have their babies seized from them against their will and given away to other couples to raise; • People who "contribute to social deterioration" (i.e. undesirables) "can be required by law to exercise reproductive responsibility" -- in other words, be compelled to have abortions or be sterilized. • A transnational "Planetary Regime" should assume control of the global economy and also dictate the most intimate details of Americans' lives -- using an armed international police force. (Zombie Time)
SPECIAL REPORT. Obama and Emanuel: members of same gay bath house club in Chicago President Obama and his chief of staff Rahm Emanuel are
lifetime members of the same gay bath house in uptown Chicago,
according to informed sources in Chicago's gay community,
as well as veteran political sources in the city.
The bath house, Man's Country, caters to older white men
and it has been in business for some 30 years and is known as
one of uptown Chicago's "grand old bathhouses." WMR was told by
sources who are familiar with the bath house that it provides
lifetime memberships to paying customers and that the club's
computerized files, and pre-computer paper files, include
membership information for both Obama and Emanuel. However,
sources close to "Man's Country" believe the U.S. Secret Service
has purged the computer and filing cabinet files of the membership
data on Obama and Emanuel.
Members of Man's Country are also issued club identification cards.
WMR learned that Obama and Emanuel possessed the ID cards, which
were required for entry.
Obama began frequenting Man's Country in the mid-1990s, during the
time he transitioned from a lecturer at the University of Chicago
Law School to his election as an Illinois State Senator in 1996.
Emanuel, reportedly joined Man's Country after he left the Clinton
White House and moved back to Chicago in 1998, joining the
investment firm of Wasserstein Perella and maintaining his
membership during his 2002 campaign for the U.S. 5th District
House seat vacated by Rod Blagojevich, who was elected governor. (Wayne Madsen)
Dennis Kucinich and Ralph Nader: A Discussion on Healthcare, Politics and Reform Congressman Dennis Kucinich of Ohio announced on Wednesday he would switch his vote on the Democrat-led healthcare reform bill and support the legislation even though it does not create a public option. Kucinich’s decision came two days after he spoke with President Obama aboard Air Force One on their way to a rally in his district. In a Democracy Now! exclusive, we spend the hour with Kucinich and former presidential candidate Ralph Nader for an in-depth discussion on healthcare, the Obama administration, the Iraq war and more. (Democracy Now)
Obama's National Cybersecurity Initiative: Privacy and Civil liberties are Damned -- Puts NSA in the Driver's Seat On March 2, the Obama administration issued a sanitized version of the Comprehensive National Cybersecurity Initiative (CNCI), releasing portions that discussed intrusion detection systems on federal networks.
The announcement was made by former Microsoft executive Howard A. Schmidt, appointed cybersecurity coordinator by President Obama in December. The partial unveiling came during the RSA Security Conference in San Francisco, an annual industry conference for security professionals.
CNCI's 2008 launch was shrouded in secrecy by the Bush administration. Authority for the program is derived from a classified order issued by President Bush. However, the contents of National Security Presidential Directive 54, also known as Homeland Security Presidential Directive 23 (NSPD 54/HSPD 23) have never been released for public scrutiny.
"Virtually everything about the initiative is highly classified," the Senate Armed Services Committee wrote in a 2008 report, "and most of the information that is not classified is categorized as 'For Official Use Only.'" (Global Research)
Details of “Einstein” Cyber Shield Disclosed by White House The Obama administration lifted the veil Tuesday on a highly-secretive set of policies to defend the U.S. from cyber attacks.
It was an open secret that the National Security Agency was bolstering a Homeland Security program to detect and respond to cyber attacks on government systems, but a summary of that program declassified Tuesday provides more details of NSA’s role in a Homeland program known as Einstein.
The current version of the program is widely seen as providing meager protection against attack, but a new version being built will be more robust–largely because it’s rooted in NSA technology. The program is designed to look for indicators of cyber attacks by digging into all Internet communications, including the contents of emails, according to the declassified summary.
Homeland Security will then strip out identifying information and pass along data on new threats to NSA. It will also use threat information from NSA to better identify emerging cyber attacks. (Wall Street Journal)
Poland Says “No” to H1N1 Vaccine Of the world’s 193 recognized sovereign states, only Poland refused the H1N1 vaccine because of safety fears and distrust of the pharmaceutical companies producing the injections. The decision by Prime Minister Donald Tusk and Health Minister Ewa Kopacz had broad public support, even though Poland has reported 145 deaths from H1N1 flu as of mid-January. Poles saw the vaccine rejection as a praiseworthy act of defiance against pharmaceutical manufacturers, a sentiment bolstered by a growing anti-vaccine movement.
“We are making this decision only in the interest of the Polish patient and the taxpayer,” Tusk said. “We will not take part because it’s not honest and it’s not safe for the patient.” The anti-vaccine movement claims that the H1N1 inoculation is untested or contains unsafe ingredients, such as the preservative thimerosal. The World Health Organization disagrees and points out that more than 150 million people in 40 nations have been vaccinated and suffered no abnormal or dangerous reactions. (Alter Group)
In Supreme Court Ruling on Campaign Finance, the Public Dissents Memo to the Supreme Court: President Obama isn’t the only one who’s annoyed.
Obama raised eyebrows at his State of the Union address last month by criticizing the high court’s ruling throwing out limits on corporate spending in political campaigns. Turns out he’s got company: Our latest ABC News/Washington Post poll finds that 80 percent of Americans likewise oppose the ruling, including 65 percent who “strongly” oppose it, an unusually high intensity of sentiment.
Seventy-two percent, moreover, support the idea of a legislative workaround to try to reinstate the limits the court lifted.
The bipartisan nature of these views is striking in these largely partisan times. The court’s ruling is opposed, respectively, by 76, 81 and 85 percent of Republicans, independents and Democrats; and by 73, 85 and 86 percent of conservatives, moderates and liberals. Majorities in all these groups, ranging from 58 to 73 percent, not only oppose the ruling but feel strongly about it. (ABC)
Obama Making Plans to Use Executive Power “We are reviewing a list of presidential executive orders and directives to get the job done across a front of issues,” said Rahm Emanuel, the White House chief of staff. - The use of executive authority during times of legislative inertia is hardly new; former Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush turned to such powers at various moments in their presidencies, and Mr. Emanuel was in the thick of carrying out the strategy during his days as a top official in the Clinton White House. (New York Times)
Lobbyists for cap and trade face daunting task The U.S. Senate's stalled climate bill is getting a last big push from an unlikely ally -- a group of energy companies who say a carbon market will help them get financing for the next generation of energy production. (Reuters)
Opinion: Deep Oil, Deep Power and Deep Pockets Is oil running out or not and is Peak Oil a true phenomenon? In this article I examine the dubious reasons for the promotion of The Peak Oil myth and the interplay between power, profit and money. - Evidence for the Russia Oil Formation Theory also abounds. Off the coast of New Orleans -- in the South Eugene oil fields is an example. Several of these wells -- in 300 ft of water -- were found to be refilling themselves with oil. Further investigation showed that they were refilling from below and not from the sides or above. (Digital Journal)
MSP airport security: Whole-body scanners are likely, but not everyone's on board Congressional hearings continued Wednesday into a dramatic overhaul of the nation's airport security system, which could see the metal detectors at airports across the country replaced by far more costly whole-body imaging scanners designed to see below clothing and which many say would have stopped the attempted Christmas Day underwear bomber before he stepped onto a plane (Minn Post)
A "Balanced Approach" to Drug Control? Despite trumpeting a "balanced and comprehensive drug strategy," President Obama's White House Drug Czar's office announced this week that it is continuing the nearly two-to-one budget disparity that heavily favors spending on law enforcement and punishment over public health strategies like treatment and prevention. (Law Enforcement Against Prohibition)
Intel chief: Al-Qaida likely to attempt attack National Intelligence Director Dennis Blair said with changes made since the Dec. 25 attack, U.S. intelligence would he able to identify and stop someone like the Detroit bomber before he got on the plane. But he warned a more careful and skilled would-be terrorist might not be detected. (Comcast)
Obama grows the drug war, with enforcement a clear priority The budget places America's drug war spending at $15.5 billion for fiscal year 2011; an increase of 3.5 percent over FY 2010. That figure reflects a 5.2 percent increase in overall enforcement funding, growing from $9.7 billion in FY 2010 to $9.9 billion in FY 2011. Addiction treatment and preventative measures, however, are budgeted at $5.6 billion for FY 2011, an increase from $5.2 billion in FY 2010. (The Raw Story)
Geithner: 'I had no role' in an AIG cover up Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner told lawmakers Wednesday that he had no involvement in an apparent attempt by government regulators to withhold crucial information about AIG's bailout from the public.
"I had no role in making decisions regarding what to disclose," Geithner testified at a hearing held by the House Oversight Committee Wednesday.
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AIG payouts: Who got what
Counterparties that got more than $1 billion from the government and AIG.
AIG counterparty Total payment
Societe Generale $16.5 billion
Goldman Sachs $14 billion
Deutsche Bank $8.5 billion
Merrill Lynch $6.2 billion
Calyon $4.3 billion
UBS $3.8 billion
Deutsche Zentral Genossenschaftsbank $1.8 billion
Barclays $1.5 billion
Bank of Montreal $1.4 billion
Royal Bank of Scotland $1.1 billion
Wachovia $1 billion
Source:Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program.
New York Fed officials instructed AIG (AIG, Fortune 500) not to disclose more than a dozen controversial transactions to the Securities and Exchange Commission in November 2008. At the time, Geithner was the president of the New York Fed, but he said he had recused himself from the day-to-day operations at that time because of his nomination to be Treasury secretary.
At least two lawmakers weren't buying Geithner's denial. - "Why shouldn't we ask for your resignation?" Mica asked Geithner. "We're not getting the whole story, we're getting the blame story. You're either incompetent on the job or you knew what was taking place and you tried to conceal it, and I think that's grounds for your review."
Geithner angrily responded to Mica, "You don't know me very well."
He then more calmly said, "That is your right to have that opinion. I have served my country as carefully and ably as I can."
AIG's bailout has incited furor among lawmakers and the public, as the troubled insurer has come to symbolize the corporate greed, risky behavior and lack of regulation that many believe caused the Great Recession.
The issue at hand on Wednesday was one of the bailout's most contentious: a decision by the New York Fed to pay counterparties 100 cents on the dollar for the underlying assets that AIG has insured through so-called credit default swap agreements.
As a result, $62.1 billion of taxpayer and AIG funds were essentially funneled to 16 banks that were counterparties to AIG insurance contracts. - Due to many New York Fed employees' ties to Wall Street investment banks -- including Geithner -- many lawmakers and members of the public have implied that the regulator's decisions may have been made for personal gain.
"I think your commitment to Goldman Sachs trumped your commitment to the American people," said Rep. Steven Lynch, D-Mass. (CNN)
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