Search & Filter Tips: Typing an exact match of Tag/Keywords into the Search bar will automatically
add the filter. Also, when looking for an exact headline, try "wrapping it with double-quotes."
Removing double-quotes and all words with any special characters might help too.
Standing Up for GMOs On 8 August 2013, vandals destroyed a Philippine “Golden Rice” field trial. Officials and staff of the Philippine Department of Agriculture that conduct rice tests for the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) and the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) had gathered for a peaceful dialogue. They were taken by surprise when protesters invaded the compound, overwhelmed police and village security, and trampled the rice. Billed as an uprising of farmers, the destruction was actually carried out by protesters trucked in overnight in a dozen jeepneys.
The global scientific community has condemned the wanton destruction of these field trials, gathering thousands of supporting signatures in a matter of days.* If ever there was a clear-cut cause for outrage, it is the concerted campaign by Greenpeace and other nongovernmental organizations, as well as by individuals, against Golden Rice. Golden Rice is a strain that is genetically modified by molecular techniques (and therefore labeled a genetically modified organism or GMO) to produce β-carotene, a precursor of vitamin A. Vitamin A is an essential component of the light-absorbing molecule rhodopsin in the eye. Severe vitamin A deficiency results in blindness, and half of the roughly half-million children who are blinded by it die within a year. Vitamin A deficiency also compromises immune system function, exacerbating many kinds of illnesses. It is a disease of poverty and poor diet, responsible for 1.9 to 2.8 million preventable deaths annually, mostly of children under 5 years old and women. (Science)
Why You Don't Actually 'F*cking Love Science' So, you think you love science? What does that mean to you, exactly?
For most people, I’m guessing it means something like this:
Or perhaps something like this:
Image: National Institutes of Health
That’s not what science is, though. That’s data, and like countless “Principal Investigators” of the science world (the professors who are named on research grants), you’re confusing data with science. This is what science is:
Working in the laboratory
Image: iStockphoto, LajosRepasi
Science is people. It’s a collective human endeavor, in which people make theories, test them based on observation and refine the theory when the tests disagree with it. Data, as seen in the beautiful pictures above, is just a side object that confirms the process is working. Science is the process and the people. Data is the residue.
I’m not making it sound very nice, am I, to love a "residue?" Good. There’s a reason for that.
See, the things people love, they go to bat for — their children, their medical care, their homes, their countries. They sacrifice time, energy, money and life to take care of these priorities. They campaign for the government to take care of these things. There are decently paid people, hired by the government, who enact programs related to these well-loved priorities.
Meanwhile, the average salary for a postdoctoral scholar, the workhorse of the academic science world, is about $40,000.
Meanwhile, the average salary for a postdoctoral scholar, the workhorse of the academic science world, is about $40,000. Why am I focusing on academic science? Because it doesn’t have a “profit motive.” Private industry pays far, far more. It’s not dependent on the government, which restricts what postdocs may be paid. In industry, an equivalent position pays about $115,000. That’s about what a person with five to 10 years in graduate school ought to be paid. (Mashable)
'Dabbing:' Dangerous New Drug Seized in Maryland -- "This is the crack of marijuana," one official quoted a user as saying of the concentrated butane hash oil. A drug that is gaining popularity on the West Coast is moving eastward and is expected to become more of a threat in Maryland, according to a state law enforcement official.
That drug, butane hash oil, is such a concentrated form of marijuana that users have been known to pass out while ingesting it, police said.
“It’s what’s described to me by one user, ‘This is the crack of marijuana,’” said Sgt Mike Conner, who works in the criminal enforcement division with the Maryland State Police. He said it is being seized in Maryland on state highways and through the mail system and "eventually it will come here" on a more widespread basis.
“It’s so potent. …. “It’s a popular way of people getting a very, very strong high,” he said.
He said police have discovered butane hash oil, also known as “dabbing,” “honey,” “amber,” “wax” or “ear wax,” being shipped through the postal system to addresses in Maryland, though he said he was unable to specify exact locations. He said drug dealers and users don't know how to extract the powerful oil from marijuana, so they buy it and have it shipped. (Towson Patch)
Climate Report Struggles With Temperature Quirks Scientists working on a landmark U.N. report on climate change are struggling over how to address a wrinkle in the meteorological data that has given ammunition to global-warming skeptics: The heating of Earth's surface appears to have slowed in the past 15 years even though greenhouse gas emissions keep rising.
For years, skeptics have touted what looks like a slowdown in surface warming since 1998 to cast doubt on the scientific consensus that humans are cooking the planet by burning coal, oil and natural gas.
Scientists and statisticians have dismissed the purported slowdown as a statistical mirage, arguing among other things that it reflects random climate fluctuations and an unusually hot year picked as the starting point for charting temperatures. They also say the data suggests the "missing" heat is simply settling — temporarily — in the ocean.
But as scientists study the issue, the notion of a slowdown has gained more mainstream attention, putting pressure on the authors of the new U.N. report to deal with it.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report is expected to assert that global warming is continuing. It is also expected to affirm with greater certainty than ever before the link between global warming and human activity. (Associated Press)
Confirmed: Navy Yard Shooter Was On Anti-Depressant Trazodone -- Drug linked to previous mass shooting despite Washington Post declaring it "safe" It has been confirmed that Navy Yard gunman Aaron Alexis was on the anti-depressant drug Trazodone, providing yet another example of a connection between psychiatric drugs and mass shootings.
In verifying that Alexis was prescribed Trazodone by the Veterans Affairs Office, the Washington Post published a brief article downplaying the danger of the drug, quoting Miami physician Gabriela Cora who stated (almost too eagerly), “Honestly, it’s a very safe drug to use.”
However, the drug has been linked to a number of murders, including one mass shooting.
Trazodone is sold under the brand names Desyrel, Oleptro, Beneficat, Deprax, Desirel, Molipaxin, Thombran, Trazorel, Trialodine, Trittico, and Mesyrel. Although not strictly a member of the SSRI class of antidepressants, it shares many of the same properties and also serves to increases the amount of serotonin in the brain.
Despite the Washington Post’s attempts to portray the drug as being safe, it is linked with a whole host of side-effects including suicidal tendencies, panic attacks, depersonalization and anger. Symptoms of Trazodone withdrawal include aggression and violent behavior. (Prison Planet)
Radios failed during Navy Yard attack, emergency responders say Radios for federal firefighters and police officers failed during Monday’s mass shooting at Washington’s Navy Yard, according to union representatives for first responders.
Union officials said police and firefighters resorted to using their cellphones and radios from D.C.’s emergency responders to communicate with each other during the attack.
Anthony Meely, chairman of the Fraternal Order of Police Naval District Washington (NDW) Labor Committee, said police officers who were first on the scene at the Navy Yard had trouble communicating with others in the force via their radios.
Initially, officers found that their radios were working. But as they ventured deeper into the building where the shooting took place, their equipment stopped functioning.
After the first shootout with the gunman, one officer found his radio’s battery was dead, while another officer could not receive a signal from his radio and was unable to call for help. That forced them to use an officer’s cellphone to call others outside the building, according to Meely. (The Hill)
Aaron Alexis Carved 'My ELF Weapon' on the Stock of his Shotgun -- Were ELF waves used to trigger Aaron Alexis to go on a rampage? Officials involved in the investigation of the Navy Yard shooting, have come forward with new insights on the weapon that was used in the shooting. Alexis had carved the words ‘My ELF weapon’ on his Remington 870-Express-Tactical shotgun. ELF stands for ‘extremely low frequency’, and usually refers to communications or weather.
For those who are familiar with this technology, it is well understood that this is used in programs such as H.A.A.R.P. It has also been reported by several government whistle blowers, and even political activists that they suspected a ‘ELF weapon’ was being used on them.
The report about the carvings is most interesting, because it seems to confirm the claim made by Alexis that 3 men were following him using an ELF weapon while he was in his hotel room. He even filed a report to the Newport, Rhode Island Police stating these claims. Aaron stated he had to change his hotel 3 different times because these people were using the microwave machine on him. (IntelliHub)
Navy Yard shooter was on Antidepressant Trazodone—How many more drug induced shootings until lawmakers wake up? It took less than 48 hours to learn that Washington Navy Yard shooter, Aaron Alexis, is another in a long line of psychiatric drug-induced perpetrators.
The New York Times has reported that while in Providence Rhode Island on August 23, 2013, and again, five days later, in Washington, D.C., Alexis had been prescribed Trazodone, an antidepressant that carries an FDA black box warning for suicide, and is documented to cause mania and violent behavior.
Now, twelve innocent people (plus the shooter) are dead at the Washington Navy Yard. Yes, these senseless deaths are sad, tragic, and incomprehensible. And it is time to point the finger at those who are responsible.
Because lawmakers, both at the state and federal level, refuse to address the enormous amount of information revealing the connection between violence and prescription psychiatric drugs, mass shootings, like the massacre which occurred at the Washington Navy Yard, will continue.
Despite 22 international drug regulatory warnings on psychiatric drugs citing effects of mania, hostility, violence and even homicidal ideation, and dozens of high profile shootings/killings tied to psychiatric drug use, there has yet to be a federal investigation on the link between psychiatric drugs and acts of senseless violence. (Citizens Commission on Human Rights International)
Navy Yard: Swat team 'stood down' at mass shooting scene One of the first teams of heavily armed police to respond to Monday's shooting in Washington DC was ordered to stand down by superiors, the BBC can reveal.
A tactical response team of the Capitol Police, a force that guards the US Capitol complex, was told to leave the scene by a supervisor instead of aiding municipal officers.
The Capitol Police department has launched a review into the matter.
Aaron Alexis, 34, killed 12 people at the Washington Navy Yard.
"I don't think it's a far stretch to say that some lives may have been saved if we were allowed to intervene," a Capitol Police source familiar with the incident told the BBC. (BBC)
Trazodone antidepressant, used by Aaron Alexis, described as 'very safe' Trazodone, the drug that officials say Navy Yard shooter Aaron Alexis was prescribed by Veterans Affairs, is a a generic antidepressant that is seldom used anymore to treat depression but is widely prescribed for insomnia, experts said.
“We use Trazodone to help people sleep,” said Gabriela Cora, a physician and longtime practicing psychiatrist in Miami. The drug is considered safer than many other widely prescribed sleep medicines because it doesn’t cause addiction and doesn’t require increased dosing over time, said Cora, a former researcher on mood and anxiety disorders at the National Institutes of Health. (Washington Post)
THE FUTURE OF EMPLOYMENT: HOW SUSCEPTIBLE ARE JOBS TO COMPUTERISATION? Abstract: We examine how susceptible jobs are to computerisation. To as-sess this, we begin by implementing a novel methodology to estimate the probability of computerisation for 702 detailed occupations, using a
Gaussian process classifier. Based on these estimates, we examine expected impacts of future computerisation on US labour market outcomes, with the primary objective of analysing the number of jobs at risk and the relationship between an occupation’s probability of computerisation, wages and educational attainment. According to our estimates, about 47 percent of total US employment is at risk. We further provide evidence that wages and educational attainment exhibit a strong negative relation-
ship with an occupation’s probability of computerisation. Keywords:Occupational Choice, Technological Change, Wage Inequality, Employment, Skill Demand (Oxford University)
USDA will not take action in case of GMO alfalfa contamination The detection of a small amount of genetically modified material in a Washington state farmer's non-GMO alfalfa crop constitutes a "commercial issue" only and does not warrant any government action, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said on Tuesday.
The Washington state farmer had complained in late August to state agricultural officials that his alfalfa hay had been rejected for export sale because of the presence of a genetically modified trait that makes the crop resistant to herbicide.
The event triggered a wave of concern from consumer and agricultural groups who have fought the government for nearly a decade to keep biotech alfalfa from contaminating conventional and organic supplies. (Reuters)
Aaron Alexis Had 'Secret Clearance,' Employer Says About Washington Navy Yard Suspect Aaron Alexis, the 34-year-old suspect in Monday's shooting rampage at the Washington Navy Yard, had "secret" clearance and was assigned to start working there as a civilian contractor with a military-issued ID card, his firm's chief executive told Reuters.
"He did have a secret clearance. And he did have a CAC (common access card)," said Thomas Hoshko, CEO of The Experts Inc, which was helping service the Navy Marine Corps Intranet as a subcontractor for HP Enterprise Services, part of Hewlett-Packard Co.
Alexis, of Forth Worth, Texas, is suspected of opening fire at the Naval Sea Systems Command building in the Washington Navy Yard in a shooting that left 13 people dead, including the shooter. (Reuters)
DHS internal report: Navy Yard shooting has 'no known connection to terrorism' “[Metropolitan Police are] responding to reports of shots fired at the Washington Navy Yard Base,” the DHS report reads. “The Base in [sic] on lockdown. It remains an active scene and the subject is not in custody. Multiple units responding including SWAT unit at this time. Subject allegedly has multiple weapons. 3 victims at this time. Shots were reported to be fired in Building 197, the cafeteria, on the base. Additional street closures include the 11th St Bridge and M Street are closed between 2nd and 4th Streets,SE. All outbound flights out of DCA are on hold by FAA as a result of this incident.” (The Daily Caller)
DNA Double Take From biology class to "C.S.I.," we are told again and again that our genome is at the heart of our identity. Read the sequences in the chromosomes of a single cell, and learn everything about a person’s genetic information — or, as 23andme, a prominent genetic testing company, says on its Web site, "The more you know about your DNA, the more you know about yourself."
But scientists are discovering that — to a surprising degree — we contain genetic multitudes. Not long ago, researchers had thought it was rare for the cells in a single healthy person to differ genetically in a significant way. But scientists are finding that it’s quite common for an individual to have multiple genomes. Some people, for example, have groups of cells with mutations that are not found in the rest of the body. Some have genomes that came from other people.
"There have been whispers in the matrix about this for years, even decades, but only in a very hypothetical sense," said Alexander Urban, a geneticist at Stanford University. Even three years ago, suggesting that there was widespread genetic variation in a single body would have been met with skepticism, he said. "You would have just run against the wall." (New York Times)
IPCC models getting mushy In the next five years, the global warming paradigm may fall apart if the models prove worthless
There has been a lot of talk lately about the upcoming Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, and whether it will take into account the lack of warming since the 1990s. Everything you need to know about the dilemma the IPCC faces is summed up in one remarkable graph.
IPCCThe above graphic is Figure 1.4 from Chapter 1 of a draft of the Fifth Assessment Report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The initials at the top represent the First Assessment Report (FAR) in 1990, the Second (SAR) in 1995. Shaded banks show range of predictions from each of the four climate models used for all four reports since 1990. That last report, AR4, was issued in 2007. Model runs after 1992 were tuned to track temporary cooling due to the 1991 Mount Pinatubo eruption in The Philippines. The black squares, show with uncertainty bars, measure the observed average surface temperatures over the same interval. The range of model runs is syndicated by the vertical bars. The light grey area above and below is not part of the model prediction range. The final version of the new IPCC report, AR5, will be issued later this month. (Financial Post)
IPCC models getting mushy In the next five years, the global warming paradigm may fall apart if the models prove worthless
There has been a lot of talk lately about the upcoming Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, and whether it will take into account the lack of warming since the 1990s. Everything you need to know about the dilemma the IPCC faces is summed up in one remarkable graph. The figure nearby is from the draft version that underwent expert review last winter. It compares climate model simulations of the global average temperature to observations over the post-1990 interval. During this time atmospheric carbon dioxide rose by 12%, from 355 parts per million (ppm) to 396 ppm. The IPCC graph shows that climate models predicted temperatures should have responded by rising somewhere between about 0.2 and 0.9 degrees C over the same period. But the actual temperature change was only about 0.1 degrees, and was within the margin of error around zero. In other words, models significantly over-predicted the warming effect of CO2 emissions for the past 22 years.
Chapter 9 of the IPCC draft also shows that overestimation of warming was observed on even longer time scales in data collected by weather satellites and weather balloons over the tropics. Because of its dominant role in planetary energy and precipitation patterns, models have to get the tropical region right if they are credibly to simulate the global climate system. Based on all climate models used by the IPCC, this region of the atmosphere (specifically the tropical mid-troposphere) should exhibit the most rapid greenhouse warming anywhere. Yet most data sets show virtually no temperature change for over 30 years. (Financial Post)
Former NSA and CIA director says terrorists love using Gmail Former NSA and CIA director Michael Hayden stood on the pulpit of a church across from the White House on Sunday and declared Gmail the preferred online service of terrorists. As part of an adult education forum at St. John’s Episcopal Church, Hayden gave a wide ranging speech on "the tension between security and liberty."
During the speech, he specifically defended Section 702 of the Foreign Surveillance Intelligence Act (FISA), which provides the legal basis for the PRISM program. In doing so, Hayden claimed "Gmail is the preferred Internet service provider of terrorists worldwide," presumably meaning online service rather than the actual provider of Internet service. He added: "I don't think you're going to see that in a Google commercial, but it's free, it's ubiquitous, so of course it is." - At one point, Hayden expressed a distaste for online anonymity, saying "The problem I have with the Internet is that it's anonymous." But he noted, there is a struggle over that issue even inside government. The issue came to a head during the Arab Spring movement when the State Department was funding technology to protect the anonymity of activists so governments could not track down or repress their voices.
"We have a very difficult time with this," Hayden said. He then asked, "is our vision of the World Wide Web the global digital commons -- at this point you should see butterflies flying here and soft background meadow-like music -- or a global free fire zone?" Given that Hayden also compared the Internet to the wild west and Somalia, Hayden clearly leans toward the "global free fire zone" vision of the Internet. (Washington Post)
Withdrawing Consent Means More Than It May Seem Withdrawing consent to the state means more than this innocuous phrase may suggest.
To withdraw consent is far-reaching. It means a divorce from the state insofar as this is possible. It means having no loyalty to the state, seeing the state as fundamentally unfair and a source of continual injustices, being unwilling to help the state in any way, assuming and feeling no responsibility for the state’s actions, and seeing the state as hostile to peace and society. It means not participating in its rituals and having no appreciation of its symbols or myths. It means a psychological divorce from feeling positive about or approving of its victories. It means working toward the state’s opposite, that is, living together in freedom, friendship, comity and peace, i.e., in society. It means no longer thinking of oneself as a citizen, and not believing that as a citizen one has obligations toward the state or other citizens.
Withdrawing consent from the state means not looking upon oneself as owning the state or influencing its activities or doing a sort of duty for the state. It means viewing the state as a nuisance. It means abandoning all forms of patriotism directed at the state and adherence to its symbols, parades, flags, pledges, songs, anthems and monuments. It means no veneration of any political figure, past, present or future. It means no veneration of the Constitution. It means as much as possible avoiding all interactions with government. (Lew Rockwell)
World's top climate scientists confess: Global warming is just QUARTER what we thought -- and computers got the effects of greenhouse gases wrong Leaked report reveals the world has warmed at quarter the rate claimed by IPCC in 2007 -- Scientists accept their computers may have exaggerated - A leaked copy of the world’s most authoritative climate study reveals scientific forecasts of imminent doom were drastically wrong.
The Mail on Sunday has obtained the final draft of a report to be published later this month by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the ultimate watchdog whose massive, six-yearly ‘assessments’ are accepted by environmentalists, politicians and experts as the gospel of climate science.
They are cited worldwide to justify swingeing fossil fuel taxes and subsidies for ‘renewable’ energy.
Yet the leaked report makes the extraordinary concession that over the past 15 years, recorded world temperatures have increased at only a quarter of the rate of IPCC claimed when it published its last assessment in 2007.
Back then, it said observed warming over the 15 years from 1990-2005 had taken place at a rate of 0.2C per decade, and it predicted this would continue for the following 20 years, on the basis of forecasts made by computer climate models.
But the new report says the observed warming over the more recent 15 years to 2012 was just 0.05C per decade - below almost all computer predictions.
The 31-page ‘summary for policymakers’ is based on a more technical 2,000-page analysis which will be issued at the same time. It also surprisingly reveals: IPCC scientists accept their forecast computers may have exaggerated the effect of increased carbon emissions on world temperatures – and not taken enough notice of natural variability. (UK Daily Mail)
Tri-City hockey crowds to be taped for U.S. security research Hockey fans at the season opener of the Tri-City Americans will have a chance to help the U.S. Department of Homeland Security improve its facial recognition capabilities.
Video will be taped by Pacific Northwest National Laboratory at the Sept. 21 game in a portion of the Toyota Center in Kennewick.
It is planned to be used by the U.S. government to test the capabilities of facial recognition software that is available or in the prototype stage.
Eventually, state-of-the-art facial recognition technologies could be used to identify terrorists and criminals in public areas, according to the national lab in Richland. The Department of Homeland Security’s Science and Technology Directorate works to make technology available to agencies ranging from local police offices to the U.S. Border Patrol, Transportation Security Administration and Immigration and Customs Enforcement. (Tri-City Herald)
A Plea for Caution From Russia -- What Putin Has to Say to Americans About Syria RECENT events surrounding Syria have prompted me to speak directly to the American people and their political leaders. It is important to do so at a time of insufficient communication between our societies.
Relations between us have passed through different stages. We stood against each other during the cold war. But we were also allies once, and defeated the Nazis together. The universal international organization — the United Nations — was then established to prevent such devastation from ever happening again.
The United Nations’ founders understood that decisions affecting war and peace should happen only by consensus, and with America’s consent the veto by Security Council permanent members was enshrined in the United Nations Charter. The profound wisdom of this has underpinned the stability of international relations for decades.
No one wants the United Nations to suffer the fate of the League of Nations, which collapsed because it lacked real leverage. This is possible if influential countries bypass the United Nations and take military action without Security Council authorization.
The potential strike by the United States against Syria, despite strong opposition from many countries and major political and religious leaders, including the pope, will result in more innocent victims and escalation, potentially spreading the conflict far beyond Syria’s borders. A strike would increase violence and unleash a new wave of terrorism. It could undermine multilateral efforts to resolve the Iranian nuclear problem and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and further destabilize the Middle East and North Africa. It could throw the entire system of international law and order out of balance. (New York Times)
Group Of Engineers Believe Controlled Detonations Took Down World Trade Center There's been a growing movement led by some architects and engineers to take a second look at the collapse of the New York City skyscrapers in the attacks on September 11th 2001.
"Architects and Engineers for 911 Truth" focuses primarily on Building 7 of the World Trade Center. Not many people know that a third building fell on 9-11. Tony Szambotti is a mechanical engineer from Blackwood, New Jersey. He says the 47 story skyscraper was not hit by a plane…yet collapsed into its own footprint at 5:20 in the afternoon.
"It's in absolute freefall. There’s no resistance to it for the first 2.25 seconds and then it slows down a little bit," Szambotti said. "The actual measurements are somewhere around 6.6 to 7 seconds for that 610 foot building to collapse completely to the ground." (CBS)
House Republicans Push To Include Monsanto Protection Act In New Spending Bill House Republicans will include an extension of the so-called Monsanto Protection Act in the spending bill designed to avert a government shutdown, according to text of the legislation released Wednesday by House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers (R-Ky.).
The Monsanto measure was originally enacted into law in March by being slipped into the previous spending resolution, which is now set to expire.
Since its quiet passage, the Monsanto Protection Act has become a target of intense opposition. Monsanto is a global seed and herbicide company that specializes in genetically modified crops. The law effectively prevents judges from placing injunctions on genetically modified seeds even if they are deemed unsafe. Monsanto has argued that it is unfair to single out the company in the nickname for the law, which is officially known as the Farmer Assurance Provision, when other major agribusiness players also support it.
Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) has waged a campaign against the measure and told HuffPost he plans to fight its reenactment.
"The proposed House continuing resolution includes an extension of the Monsanto Protection Act, a secret rider slipped into a must-pass spending bill earlier this year," Merkley said. "I will fight the House's efforts to extend this special interest loophole that nullifies court orders that are protecting farmers, the environment, and public health."
Colin O’Neil, a lobbyist for the Center for Food Safety, said in a statement, "It is extremely disappointing to see the damaging 'Monsanto Protection Act' policy rider extended in the House spending bill. Hundreds of thousands of Americans called their elected officials to voice their frustration and disappointment over the inclusion of the 'Monsanto Protection Act' this past spring. Its inclusion is a slap in the face to the American public and our justice system." (Huffington Post)
U.N. rights team aims to probe chemical weapons in Syria: del Ponte U.N. human rights investigators hope to get into Syria soon to try to find out who carried out apparent chemical attacks and other war crimes, Carla del Ponte, of the U.N. commission of inquiry on Syria, said on Monday.
Del Ponte gave no time frame for a visit but said that the team was in touch with U.N. chemical weapons inspectors and awaited their findings from the scene of an August 21 poison gas attack. She said the rights team's work would continue whether or not the United States carried out mooted punitive military strikes against the Syrian government over the attack.
"We are in touch with Syrian authorities to enter and we are on the right track," she told the Swiss Press Club in Geneva.
U.N. human rights officials declined to comment on how any air strike might affect a possible visit, but stressed the need for conditions to be right for the team to conduct their work.
The commission's confidential list of suspected Syrian war criminals was "getting longer", she said, but gave no details.
Del Ponte said Syria had sent a "positive signal" by letting U.N. chemical arms inspectors go to Damascus to collect samples in suburbs allegedly attacked with toxic substances on August 21, which are now being analyzed in European laboratories. The arms inspectors were not mandated to apportion blame for the attack.
That would be the job of the human rights investigators, said del Ponte, a former U.N. war crimes prosecutor. The Geneva-based team has more than 20 experts, some of them specialists in military and ballistics issues. (Reuters)
U.S. Attorneys Say Marijuana Memo Won't Affect Their Anti-Pot Work In my Forbes column last week, I cited reasons to doubt the Justice Department's newfound respect for state marijuana laws—in particular, its fork-tongued record on medical marijuana. Tom Angell of Marijuana Majority notes several recent comments from U.S. attorneys that reinforce the case for skepticism. The gist of their reaction to Deputy Attorney General James Cole's August 29 memo, which was widely interpreted as a green light for legalization in Colorado and Washington, is that they plan to proceed pretty much as before. Here is what a spokeswoman for Melinda Haag, the U.S. attorney for the Northern District of California, had to say (emphasis added here and later):
The office is evaluating the new guidelines and for the most part it appears that the cases that have been brought in this district are already in compliance with the guidelines. Therefore, we do not expect a significant change.
That is pretty telling, since Haag's crackdown on medical marijuana dispensaries has been one of the most aggressive in the country, featuring the closure of city-supported outlets in San Francisco and a forfeiture action aimed at shutting down Oakland's Harborside Health Center, the state's largest dispensary. In a February 2011 letter to Oakland's city attorney, Haag declared, "We will enforce the [Controlled Substances Act] vigorously against individuals and organizations that participate in unlawful manufacturing and distribution activity involving marijuana, even if such activities are permitted under state law." (Reason)
Science confirms: Politics wrecks your ability to do math Everybody knows that our political views can sometimes get in the way of thinking clearly. But perhaps we don’t realize how bad the problem actually is. According to a new psychology paper, our political passions can even undermine our very basic reasoning skills. More specifically, the study finds that people who are otherwise very good at math may totally flunk a problem that they would otherwise probably be able to solve, simply because giving the right answer goes against their political beliefs.
The study, by Yale law professor Dan Kahan and his colleagues, has an ingenious design. At the outset, 1,111 study participants were asked about their political views and also asked a series of questions designed to gauge their “numeracy,” that is, their mathematical reasoning ability. Participants were then asked to solve a fairly difficult problem that involved interpreting the results of a (fake) scientific study. But here was the trick: While the fake study data that they were supposed to assess remained the same, sometimes the study was described as measuring the effectiveness of a “new cream for treating skin rashes.” But in other cases, the study was described as involving the effectiveness of “a law banning private citizens from carrying concealed handguns in public.”
The result? Survey respondents performed wildly differently on what was in essence the same basic problem, simply depending upon whether they had been told that it involved guns or whether they had been told that it involved a new skin cream. What’s more, it turns out that highly numerate liberals and conservatives were even more – not less — susceptible to letting politics skew their reasoning than were those with less mathematical ability. (grist)
Obama administration had restrictions on NSA reversed in 2011 The Obama administration secretly won permission from a surveillance court in 2011 to reverse restrictions on the National Security Agency’s use of intercepted phone calls and e-mails, permitting the agency to search deliberately for Americans’ communications in its massive databases, according to interviews with government officials and recently declassified material.
In addition, the court extended the length of time that the NSA is allowed to retain intercepted U.S. communications from five years to six years — and more under special circumstances, according to the documents, which include a recently released 2011 opinion by U.S. District Judge John D. Bates, then chief judge of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.
What had not been previously acknowledged is that the court in 2008 imposed an explicit ban — at the government’s request — on those kinds of searches, that officials in 2011 got the court to lift the bar and that the search authority has been used.
Together the permission to search and to keep data longer expanded the NSA’s authority in significant ways without public debate or any specific authority from Congress. The administration’s assurances rely on legalistic definitions of the term “target” that can be at odds with ordinary English usage. The enlarged authority is part of a fundamental shift in the government’s approach to surveillance: collecting first, and protecting Americans’ privacy later. (Washington Post)
Kerry portrait of Syria rebels at odds with intelligence reports Secretary of State John Kerry's public assertions that moderate Syrian opposition groups are growing in influence appear to be at odds with estimates by U.S. and European intelligence sources and nongovernmental experts, who say Islamic extremists remain by far the fiercest and best-organized rebel elements.
At congressional hearings this week, while making the case for President Barack Obama's plan for limited military action in Syria, Kerry asserted that the armed opposition to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad "has increasingly become more defined by its moderation, more defined by the breadth of its membership, and more defined by its adherence to some, you know, democratic process and to an all-inclusive, minority-protecting constitution.
"And the opposition is getting stronger by the day," Kerry told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Tuesday. (Reuters)
The US government has betrayed the internet. We need to take it back The NSA has undermined a fundamental social contract. We engineers built the internet -- and now we have to fix it - Government and industry have betrayed the internet, and us.
By subverting the internet at every level to make it a vast, multi-layered and robust surveillance platform, the NSA has undermined a fundamental social contract. The companies that build and manage our internet infrastructure, the companies that create and sell us our hardware and software, or the companies that host our data: we can no longer trust them to be ethical internet stewards.
This is not the internet the world needs, or the internet its creators envisioned. We need to take it back.
And by we, I mean the engineering community.
Yes, this is primarily a political problem, a policy matter that requires political intervention.
But this is also an engineering problem, and there are several things engineers can – and should – do.
One, we should expose. If you do not have a security clearance, and if you have not received a National Security Letter, you are not bound by a federal confidentially requirements or a gag order. If you have been contacted by the NSA to subvert a product or protocol, you need to come forward with your story. Your employer obligations don't cover illegal or unethical activity. If you work with classified data and are truly brave, expose what you know. We need whistleblowers. (London Guardian)
Fukushima: From Bad to Worse Bad news emerged from the stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Japan’s northeast this week as TEPCO—-the Tokyo Electric Power Company that owns and operates the plant—-admitted discovering four areas of high radiation near the storage tanks where radioactive water is being held. Although two of the hotspots had already been known, the latest results found that the radiation readings were 18 times higher than previously measured. Headlines in numerous mainstream publications have asserted this is an 1800% jump in radiation at the site, but in fact it may be much worse. The equipment that was used to test the hotspots previously was only capable of measuring up to 100 mSv/hour of radiation, and consequently registered the radioactive areas as being 100 mSv/hr. When equipment was brought in capable of reading up to 10,000 mSv/hour, it was discovered that the areas were actually emitting 1800 mSv/hour of radiation, a dose large enough to kill an exposed human in four hours. It has since risen to a record 2200 mSv/hour. Japanese law limits radiation exposure for nuclear workers to 50 mSv/year.
This is only the latest setback for the plant. Since May, levels of radioactive tritium in the seawater surrounding Fukushima have been steadily rising, reaching their highest readings yet in mid-August. Then late last month TEPCO admitted that a storage tank had leaked 300 tons of water that was emitting an unprecedented 80 million Becquerels of radiation per litre, compared to the norm of 150 Bq. Although the Japanese Nuclear Regulatory Authority originally classified the leak a “Level One” or “anomalous” event on the International Nuclear Event Scale, they were forced to immediately raise that to “Level Three” or “serious radiation incident” when the scale of the leak became apparent. (Corbett Report)
Ted Cruz: U.S. not 'Al Qaeda's air force' Sen. Ted Cruz called President Barack Obama’s efforts to authorize military intervention in Syria a public relations move, saying the U.S. military shouldn’t be “Al Qaeda’s air force.”
The Texas Republican said Tuesday on TheBlaze that while he’s glad the president listened to calls from him and others to bring the issue to Congress, America shouldn’t get involved and risk helping terrorists in the rebel forces.
“We certainly don’t have a dog in the fight,” Cruz said, calling it a civil war in Syria. “We should be focused on defending the United States of America. That’s why young men and women sign up to join the military, not to, as you know, serve as Al Qaeda’s air force.” (Politico)
Forget the NSA; AT&T Helps DEA Collect even more Phone Call Details As the Edward Snowden controversy has revealed, the National Security Agency (NSA) has been collecting enormous volumes of data regarding Americans’ communications. But it is another federal agency, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), which has managed to access a trove of phone call information that reveals more details to government agents than what the NSA has gathered.
With help from AT&T, the DEA has spent the past six years secretly and routinely accessing the company’s database containing decades of records of Americans’ phone calls, The New York Times reported.
Known as the Hemisphere Project, the government has paid AT&T to place its employees in drug-fighting units around the U.S., helping DEA agents and local police by supplying them with the phone data from as far back as 1987. (AllGov)
Motivated Numeracy and Enlightened Self-Government Dan M. Kahan, Yale University, Law School; Harvard University, Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics -- Ellen Peters, Ohio State University, Psychology Department; Decision Research; University of Oregon -- Erica Cantrell Dawson, Cornell University -- Paul Slovic, Decision Research; University of Oregon, Department of Psychology -
Why does public conflict over societal risks persist in the face of compelling and widely accessible scientific evidence? We conducted an experiment to probe two alternative answers: the “Science Comprehension Thesis” (SCT), which identifies defects in the public’s knowledge and reasoning capacities as the source of such controversies; and the “Identity-protective Cognition Thesis” (ICT) which treats cultural conflict as disabling the faculties that members of the public use to make sense of decision-relevant science. In our experiment, we presented subjects with a difficult problem that turned on their ability to draw valid causal inferences from empirical data. As expected, subjects highest in Numeracy — a measure of the ability and disposition to make use of quantitative information — did substantially better than less numerate ones when the data were presented as results from a study of a new skin-rash treatment. Also as expected, subjects’ responses became politically polarized — and even less accurate — when the same data were presented as results from the study of a gun-control ban. But contrary to the prediction of SCT, such polarization did not abate among subjects highest in Numeracy; instead, it increased. This outcome supported ICT, which predicted that more Numerate subjects would use their quantitative-reasoning capacity selectively to conform their interpretation of the data to the result most consistent with their political outlooks. We discuss the theoretical and practical significance of these findings. (Social Science Research Network)
EXCLUSIVE: Syrians In Ghouta Claim Saudi-Supplied Rebels Behind Chemical Attack -- Rebels and local residents in Ghouta accuse Saudi Prince Bandar bin Sultan of providing chemical weapons to an al-Qaida linked rebel group. Dale Gavlak assisted in the research and writing process of this article, but was not on the ground in Syria. Reporter Yahya Ababneh, with whom the report was written in collaboration, was the correspondent on the ground in Ghouta who spoke directly with the rebels, their family members, victims of the chemical weapons attacks and local residents.
Gavlak is a MintPress News Middle East correspondent who has been freelancing for the AP as a Amman, Jordan correspondent for nearly a decade. This report is not an Associated Press article; rather it is exclusive to MintPress News.
Ghouta, Syria — As the machinery for a U.S.-led military intervention in Syria gathers pace following last week’s chemical weapons attack, the U.S. and its allies may be targeting the wrong culprit.
Interviews with people in Damascus and Ghouta, a suburb of the Syrian capital, where the humanitarian agency Doctors Without Borders said at least 355 people had died last week from what it believed to be a neurotoxic agent, appear to indicate as much.
The U.S., Britain, and France as well as the Arab League have accused the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for carrying out the chemical weapons attack, which mainly targeted civilians. U.S. warships are stationed in the Mediterranean Sea to launch military strikes against Syria in punishment for carrying out a massive chemical weapons attack. The U.S. and others are not interested in examining any contrary evidence, with U.S Secretary of State John Kerry saying Monday that Assad’s guilt was “a judgment … already clear to the world.” (Mint Press News)
The rush to judgment on Syria is a catastrophic and deadly error -- Britain and America show contempt for the lessons of the past in pressing for action It is more than 10 years since Parliament last voted on whether or not to go to war. This was on March 18 2003, when a stirring speech by Tony Blair convinced many sceptical MPs of the case for military action against Iraq.
But Mr Blair’s claim that Britain possessed “extensive, detailed and authoritative” evidence concerning Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction turned out to be nonsense, and we invaded the country on the back of a false prospectus. The consequences were terrible: countless Iraqis were killed in the civil war that followed, along with 179 British soldiers.
The similarities with today’s Commons vote are haunting. The Prime Minister is contemplating an attack on Iraq’s near neighbour Syria, also ruled by a Baathist regime. At the heart of the issue are allegations about weapons of mass destruction. Once again, Britain finds herself in alliance with the United States, and without the authority of the United Nations.
Many of the same voices are cheering us on. Most zealous of all is Tony Blair, while Alastair Campbell, the New Labour propagandist who spread the stories about WMD in Iraq, said yesterday that it would be “irresponsible and incredibly dangerous” not to intervene in Syria. (London Telegraph)
The Program (video) It took me a few days to work up the nerve to phone William Binney. As someone already a “target” of the United States government, I found it difficult not to worry about the chain of unintended consequences I might unleash by calling Mr. Binney, a 32-year veteran of the National Security Agency turned whistle-blower. He picked up. I nervously explained I was a documentary filmmaker and wanted to speak to him. To my surprise he replied: “I’m tired of my government harassing me and violating the Constitution. Yes, I’ll talk to you.”
Two weeks later, driving past the headquarters of the N.S.A. in Maryland, outside Washington, Mr. Binney described details about Stellar Wind, the N.S.A.’s top-secret domestic spying program begun after 9/11, which was so controversial that it nearly caused top Justice Department officials to resign in protest, in 2004.
“The decision must have been made in September 2001,” Mr. Binney told me and the cinematographer Kirsten Johnson. “That’s when the equipment started coming in.” In this Op-Doc, Mr. Binney explains how the program he created for foreign intelligence gathering was turned inward on this country. He resigned over this in 2001 and began speaking out publicly in the last year. He is among a group of N.S.A. whistle-blowers, including Thomas A. Drake, who have each risked everything — their freedom, livelihoods and personal relationships — to warn Americans about the dangers of N.S.A. domestic spying. (New York Times)
Exclusive: NSA Using Copyright Claims To Crush Free Speech? Can a government agency block criticism by claiming copyright infringement? Sounds a bit ridiculous but it is happening. The NSA is effectively stopping one small business owner from criticism, claiming that by using its name he has infringed on their copyright.
Can they do that?
This is a Reality Check you won’t see anywhere else.
This is a story I had a hard time believing until I looked into it for myself. Here is the backstory.
Dan McCall is the owner of a company that makes snarky t-shirts. The company is called Liberty Maniacs. Liberty Maniacs carry a number of t-shirts dealing with lack of privacy and the growing police state. They sell on a site called www.Zazzle.com
None of it has been a problem—until Liberty Maniacs released a shirt called “The NSA.”
The image looks like the NSA logo but has a motto that is clearly a pun—“Peeping while you are sleeping”—followed by the phrase “The NSA, the only part of government that actually listens.” (Ben Swann)
Why Are American Health Care Costs So High? In which John discusses the complicated reasons why the United States spends so much more on health care than any other country in the world, and along the way reveals some surprising information, including that Americans spend more of their tax dollars on public health care than people in Canada, the UK, or Australia. Who's at fault? Insurance companies? Drug companies? Malpractice lawyers? Hospitals? Or is it more complicated than a simple blame game? (Hint: It's that one.)
For a much more thorough examination of health care expenses in America, I recommend this series at The Incidental Economist: http://theincidentaleconomist.com/wor...
The Commonwealth Fund's Study of Health Care Prices in the US: http://www.commonwealthfund.org/~/med...
Some of the stats in this video also come from this New York Times story: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/02/hea...
This is the first part in what will be a periodic series on health care costs and reforms leading up to the introduction of the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare, in 2014. (Vlog Brothers)
The Real Neuroscience of Creativity So yea, you know how the left brain is really realistic, analytical, practical, organized, and logical, and the right brain is so darn creative, passionate, sensual, tasteful, colorful, vivid, and poetic?
Thoughtful cognitive neuroscientists such as Anna Abraham, Mark Beeman, Adam Bristol, Kalina Christoff, Andreas Fink, Jeremy Gray, Adam Green, Rex Jung, John Kounios, Hikaru Takeuchi, Oshin Vartanian, Darya Zabelina and others are on the forefront of investigating what actually happens in the brain during the creative process. And their findings are overturning conventional notions surrounding the neuroscience of creativity.
The latest findings from the real neuroscience of creativity suggest that the right brain/left brain distinction is not the right one when it comes to understanding how creativity is implemented in the brain.* Creativity does not involve a single brain region or single side of the brain.
Instead, the entire creative process– from preparation to incubation to illumination to verification– consists of many interacting cognitive processes and emotions. Depending on the stage of the creative process, and what you’re actually attempting to create, different brain regions are recruited to handle the task. (Scientific American)
keywords: Adam Bristol, Adam Green, Andreas Fink, Anna Abraham, Darya Zabelina, Health Care, Hikaru Takeuchi, Jeremy Gray, John Kounios, Kalina Christoff, Mark Beeman, Oshin Vartanian, Rex Jung, United States
NSA broke privacy rules thousands of times per year, audit finds The National Security Agency has broken privacy rules or overstepped its legal authority thousands of times each year since Congress granted the agency broad new powers in 2008, according to an internal audit and other top-secret documents.
Most of the infractions involve unauthorized surveillance of Americans or foreign intelligence targets in the United States, both of which are restricted by statute and executive order. They range from significant violations of law to typographical errors that resulted in unintended interception of U.S. e-mails and telephone calls.
The documents, provided earlier this summer to The Washington Post by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, include a level of detail and analysis that is not routinely shared with Congress or the special court that oversees surveillance. In one of the documents, agency personnel are instructed to remove details and substitute more generic language in reports to the Justice Department and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.
In one instance, the NSA decided that it need not report the unintended surveillance of Americans. A notable example in 2008 was the interception of a “large number” of calls placed from Washington when a programming error confused the U.S. area code 202 for 20, the international dialing code for Egypt, according to a “quality assurance” review that was not distributed to the NSA’s oversight staff. (Washington Post)
Taken -- Under civil forfeiture, Americans who haven’t been charged with wrongdoing can be stripped of their cash, cars, and even homes. Is that all we’re losing? On a bright Thursday afternoon in 2007, Jennifer Boatright, a waitress at a Houston bar-and-grill, drove with her two young sons and her boyfriend, Ron Henderson, on U.S. 59 toward Linden, Henderson’s home town, near the Texas-Louisiana border. They made the trip every April, at the first signs of spring, to walk the local wildflower trails and spend time with Henderson’s father. This year, they’d decided to buy a used car in Linden, which had plenty for sale, and so they bundled their cash savings in their car’s center console. Just after dusk, they passed a sign that read “Welcome to Tenaha: A little town with BIG Potential!”
They pulled into a mini-mart for snacks. When they returned to the highway ten minutes later, Boatright, a honey-blond “Texas redneck from Lubbock,” by her own reckoning, and Henderson, who is Latino, noticed something strange. The same police car that their eleven-year-old had admired in the mini-mart parking lot was trailing them. Near the city limits, a tall, bull-shouldered officer named Barry Washington pulled them over.
He asked if Henderson knew that he’d been driving in the left lane for more than half a mile without passing.
No, Henderson replied. He said he’d moved into the left lane so that the police car could make its way onto the highway.
Were there any drugs in the car? When Henderson and Boatright said no, the officer asked if he and his partner could search the car.
The officers found the couple’s cash and a marbled-glass pipe that Boatright said was a gift for her sister-in-law, and escorted them across town to the police station. In a corner there, two tables were heaped with jewelry, DVD players, cell phones, and the like. According to the police report, Boatright and Henderson fit the profile of drug couriers: they were driving from Houston, “a known point for distribution of illegal narcotics,” to Linden, “a known place to receive illegal narcotics.” The report describes their children as possible decoys, meant to distract police as the couple breezed down the road, smoking marijuana. (None was found in the car, although Washington claimed to have smelled it.)
The county’s district attorney, a fifty-seven-year-old woman with feathered Charlie’s Angels hair named Lynda K. Russell, arrived an hour later. Russell, who moonlighted locally as a country singer, told Henderson and Boatright that they had two options. They could face felony charges for “money laundering” and “child endangerment,” in which case they would go to jail and their children would be handed over to foster care. Or they could sign over their cash to the city of Tenaha, and get back on the road. “No criminal charges shall be filed,” a waiver she drafted read, “and our children shall not be turned over to CPS,” or Child Protective Services. (The New Yorker)
Why I changed my mind on weed Over the last year, I have been working on a new documentary called "Weed." The title "Weed" may sound cavalier, but the content is not.
I traveled around the world to interview medical leaders, experts, growers and patients. I spoke candidly to them, asking tough questions. What I found was stunning.
Long before I began this project, I had steadily reviewed the scientific literature on medical marijuana from the United States and thought it was fairly unimpressive. Reading these papers five years ago, it was hard to make a case for medicinal marijuana. I even wrote about this in a TIME magazine article, back in 2009, titled "Why I would Vote No on Pot."
Well, I am here to apologize.
I apologize because I didn't look hard enough, until now. I didn't look far enough. I didn't review papers from smaller labs in other countries doing some remarkable research, and I was too dismissive of the loud chorus of legitimate patients whose symptoms improved on cannabis.
Instead, I lumped them with the high-visibility malingerers, just looking to get high. I mistakenly believed the Drug Enforcement Agency listed marijuana as a schedule 1 substance because of sound scientific proof. Surely, they must have quality reasoning as to why marijuana is in the category of the most dangerous drugs that have "no accepted medicinal use and a high potential for abuse." (CNN)
Exclusive: IRS manual detailed DEA's use of hidden intel evidence Details of a U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration program that feeds tips to federal agents and then instructs them to alter the investigative trail were published in a manual used by agents of the Internal Revenue Service for two years.
The practice of recreating the investigative trail, highly criticized by former prosecutors and defense lawyers after Reuters reported it this week, is now under review by the Justice Department. Two high-profile Republicans have also raised questions about the procedure.
A 350-word entry in the Internal Revenue Manual instructed agents of the U.S. tax agency to omit any reference to tips supplied by the DEA's Special Operations Division, especially from affidavits, court proceedings or investigative files. The entry was published and posted online in 2005 and 2006, and was removed in early 2007. The IRS is among two dozen arms of the government working with the Special Operations Division, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the National Security Agency and the Central Intelligence Agency.
An IRS spokesman had no comment on the entry or on why it was removed from the manual. Reuters recovered the previous editions from the archives of the Westlaw legal database, which is owned by Thomson Reuters Corp, the parent of this news agency. (Reuters)
Trail of U.S. Criminal Investigations Altered to Cover up DEA Unit’s Role as Data Source From a constitutional rights perspective, the latest revelation about the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is even more troubling than what’s been reported on National Security Agency (NSA) activities, according to legal experts.
An investigation by Reuters found a secretive DEA unit known as the Special Operations Division (SOD) has been helping state and local law enforcement with drug busts by providing information collected from intelligence intercepts, wiretaps, informants and a “massive database of telephone records.”
That database, known as DICE, contains roughly a billion records and is accessed by about 10,000 law enforcement agents across the nation. SOD’s wiretap data usually comes from foreign governments, U.S. intelligence agencies or court-authorized domestic telephone surveillance.
But the disturbing part is the DEA requires police who receive the agency’s help to cover up the fact that they were given the tips—and not even tell defense lawyers, prosecutors and judges that their investigations began with the DEA. (AllGov)
Administration says it's serious about privacy, defends NSA programs The Obama administration says it takes privacy criticisms over its surveillance programs seriously while defending them to Congress and the U.S. public.
Obama met Thursday with a bipartisan group of lawmakers -- both critics and supporters -- to discuss surveillance activities of the National Security Agency. Also, NSA Director Gen. Keith Alexander was on Capitol Hill to answer House lawmakers' questions in a classified briefing before the August recess, The Hill reported.
"Today's meeting was constructive and the President committed that he and his team would continue to work closely with the Congress on these matters in the weeks and months ahead," the White House said in a statement.
"We will continue to work through the August recess on proposals to improve transparency and strengthen privacy protections to further build the confidence of the American public in our nation's counterterrorism programs," the lawmakers said in a joint statement. (United Press International)
New York woman visited by police after researching pressure cookers online -- Long Island resident said her web search history and 'trying to learn how to cook lentils' prompted a visit from authorities but police say search was prompted by tipoff A New York woman says her family's interest in the purchase of pressure cookers and backpacks led to a home visit by six police investigators demanding information about her job, her husband's ancestry and the preparation of quinoa.
Michele Catalano, who lives in Long Island, New York, said her web searches for pressure cookers, her husband's hunt for backpacks and her "news junkie" son's craving for information on the Boston bombings had combined somewhere in the internet ether to create a "perfect storm of terrorism profiling".
Members of what she described as a "joint terrorism task force" descended on Catalano's home on Wednesday.
Catalano was at work, but her husband was sitting in the living room as the police arrived. She retold the experience in a post on Medium.com on Thursday. She attributed the raid largely to her hunt for a pressure cooker, an item used devastatingly, allegedly by the two Tsarnaev brothers, in Boston, but also used by millions across the country to prepare vegetables while retaining most of their nutrients.
The story later took on a different complexion when police finally explained that the investigation was prompted by searches a family member had made for pressure cooker bombs and backpacks made at his former workplace. The former employer, believing the searches to be suspicious, alerted police. Catalano said the family member was her husband. (London Guardian)
UN narcotics body warns Uruguay over marijuana bill The International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) says it is concerned by the approval by Uruguayan MPs of a bill which would legalise marijuana.
The INCB says the law would "be in complete contravention to the provisions of the international drug treaties to which Uruguay is party".
Under the new law, the state would assume control of growing and selling cannabis to registered users.
The bill still needs to be passed by Uruguay's senate before becoming law.
The INCB is an independent body of experts established by the United Nations to monitor countries' compliance with international drug treaties. (BBC)
D.C. records its first legal pot deal in at least 75 years The 15-year struggle to legalize medical marijuana in the District ended like this: A 51-year-old Northwest resident entered a North Capitol Street rowhouse Monday evening and emerged 90 minutes later with slightly less than a half-ounce of street-legal, high-grade, D.C.-grown cannabis.
Shortly before 6 p.m., Alonzo walked into the high-security sales room of the Capital City Care dispensary with two store employees to consummate the city’s first legal marijuana deal in at least 75 years. He purchased about $250 worth of three strains of cannabis.
“It’s a beautiful natural product that is from rain, sun and soil,” Alonzo said, wearing a dark T-shirt with a green logo of a cannabis leaf over a medical cross. “Mother Nature doesn’t make mistakes.” (Washington Post)
My Life in Circles: Why Metadata is Incredibly Intimate One of the most disingenuous arguments in the aftermath of the NSA spying revelations is that the American people shouldn't be concerned about the government hoovering up its sensitive information because it's only metadata--or a fancy way of saying data about the data.
"This is just metadata," Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein assured the American people, referring to the NSA's bulk collection of Americans call records. "There is no content involved." President Obama and his national security officials have made similar assurances.
Feel better? You shouldn't and here's why.
A tool developed by MIT Media Lab proves how intrusive the collection and analysis of metadata is over time, especially for those who are overly reliant on email as their main method of communication. Dubbed "Immersion," the tool analyzes the metadata--From, To, Cc and Timestamp fields-- from a volunteer's Gmail account and visualizes it. (American Civil Liberties Union)
FAIR USE NOTICE:
This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically
authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance
understanding of criminal justice, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and
social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material
as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107,
the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in
receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information go to:
If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own
that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.
A bibliography for the alternative media. This site is a completely free research tool used to collect and organize as much important documentation as possible,
largely mainstream sources referenced by alternative media and interesting films.
Please collaborate by suggesting related document links here...