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Twelve facts about guns and mass shootings in the United States When we first collected much of this data, it was after the Aurora, Colo. shootings, and the air was thick with calls to avoid “politicizing” the tragedy. That is code, essentially, for “don’t talk about reforming our gun control laws.”
Let’s be clear: That is a form of politicization. When political actors construct a political argument that threatens political consequences if other political actors pursue a certain political outcome, that is, almost by definition, a politicization of the issue. It’s just a form of politicization favoring those who prefer the status quo to stricter gun control laws.
Since then, there have been more horrible, high-profile shootings. Jovan Belcher, a linebacker for the Kansas City Chiefs, took his girlfriend’s life and then his own. In Oregon, Jacob Tyler Roberts entered a mall holding a semi-automatic rifle and yelling “I am the shooter.” And, in Connecticut, at least 27 are dead — including 18 children — after a man opened fire at Sandy Hook Elementary School. (Washington Post)
Outrageous HSBC Settlement Proves the Drug War is a Joke If you've ever been arrested on a drug charge, if you've ever spent even a day in jail for having a stem of marijuana in your pocket or "drug paraphernalia" in your gym bag, Assistant Attorney General and longtime Bill Clinton pal Lanny Breuer has a message for you: Bite me.
Breuer this week signed off on a settlement deal with the British banking giant HSBC that is the ultimate insult to every ordinary person who's ever had his life altered by a narcotics charge. Despite the fact that HSBC admitted to laundering billions of dollars for Colombian and Mexican drug cartels (among others) and violating a host of important banking laws (from the Bank Secrecy Act to the Trading With the Enemy Act), Breuer and his Justice Department elected not to pursue criminal prosecutions of the bank, opting instead for a "record" financial settlement of $1.9 billion, which as one analyst noted is about five weeks of income for the bank.
The banks' laundering transactions were so brazen that the NSA probably could have spotted them from space. Breuer admitted that drug dealers would sometimes come to HSBC's Mexican branches and "deposit hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash, in a single day, into a single account, using boxes designed to fit the precise dimensions of the teller windows."
This bears repeating: in order to more efficiently move as much illegal money as possible into the "legitimate" banking institution HSBC, drug dealers specifically designed boxes to fit through the bank's teller windows. Tony Montana's henchmen marching dufflebags of cash into the fictional "American City Bank" in Miami was actually more subtle than what the cartels were doing when they washed their cash through one of Britain's most storied financial institutions. (Rolling Stone)
12/12/12 and the Myriad of Number Patterns in Dates Today as you are slogging through the tasks marked on your calendar, you might notice the date: 12/12/12. This will be the last date with the same number for day, month and last two digits of the year until New Year’s Day, 2101 (01/01/01)–89 years from now.
Many are celebrating the date with weddings (the truly hard core are start their ceremonies at 12:00 pm, presumably so that they’d be mid-vow at at 12:12), concerts–such as this benefit for victims of Superstorm Sandy–even mass meditations. The Astronomical Society of the Pacific, based in San Francisco, has actually declared 12/12/12 “Anti-Doomsday Day,” the antidote to purported Mayan prognostications that the world will end on 12/21/12. Belgian monks have released the holy grail of beers–Westvleteren 12–for public sale today. (Smithsonian)
More Than 30 Top U.S. Officials Guilty of War Crimes More than 30 top U.S. officials, including presidents G.W. Bush and Obama, are guilty of war crimes or crimes against peace and humanity “legally akin to those perpetrated by the former Nazi regime in Germany,” the distinguished American international law authority Francis Boyle charges.
U.S. officials involved in an “ongoing criminal conspiracy” in the Middle East and Africa who either participated in the commission of the crimes under their jurisdiction or failed to take action against them included both presidents since 2001 and their vice-presidents, the secretaries of State and Defense, the directors of the CIA and National Intelligence and the Pentagon’s Joint Chiefs of Staff and heads of the Central Command, among others, Boyle said.
“In international legal terms, the U.S. government itself should now be viewed as constituting an ongoing criminal conspiracy under international law,” Boyle said in an address Dec. 9th to the Puerto Rican Summit Conference on Human Rights at the University of the Sacred Heart in San Juan. Boyle is a Professor of International Law at the University of Illinois, Champaign, and the author of numerous books on the subject. (Scoop)
Fundraiser for the Families Involved in the Tragic Newtown, CT Shootings (NOTE THE DATE) On December 14th, 2012 the families of twenty elementary school students and six adults were tragically shaken by the hatred of one very disturbed young man. There was no way to have predicted the events that would unfold on Friday morning when gunman Adam Lanza decided to enter Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. Not long after he entered, police arrived on the scene to find twenty young children, and six adults who's lives had been taken.
Here at YouCaring.com our hearts and prayers go out to the families of Newtown who have experienced a loss due to this tragedy. No Parent should ever have to experience the pain of burying their own child, and no child's life is ever meant to be cut short. In memory of those who were taken, and to honor the families left behind we want to feature a fundraiser set up for the families effected by the shootings in Newtown, CT. (YouCaring.com)
A letter to the TEDx community on TEDx and bad science In light of a few suspect talks that have come out of the TEDx movement — some of which we at TED have taken action to remove, some being examined now — and this recent thread on Reddit [http://www.reddit.com/r/science/comments/1444lm/the_ted_name_is_being_dragged_through_the_mud_in/], we feel it is important to reach out to all TEDx organizers on the topic of bad science and pseudoscience.
Please know this above all:
It is your job, before any speaker is booked, to check them out, and to reject bad science, pseudoscience and health hoaxes.
Vetting your speakers is hard work, and can lead to uncomfortable moments. But as TEDx organizers, your audience’s trust is your top priority, over and above any other personal or business relationship that may have brought this speaker to your attention. It is not your audience’s job to figure out if a speaker is offering legitimate science or not. It is your job. - 2. Red flag topics
These are not “banned” topics by any means — but they are topics that tend to attract pseudo-scientists. If your speaker proposes a topic like this, use extra scrutiny. An expanding, depressing list follows:
Food science, including:
GMO food and anti-GMO foodists
Food as medicine, especially to treat a specific condition: Autism and ADHD, especially causes of and cures for autism (TEDx)
How Corruption Is Strangling U.S. Innovation If there's been one topic that has entirely dominated the post-election landscape, it's the fiscal cliff. Will taxes be raised? Which programs will be cut? Who will blink first in negotiations? For all the talk of the fiscal cliff, however, I believe the US is facing a much more serious problem, one that has simply not been talked about at all: corruption. But this isn't the overt, "bartering of government favors in return for private kickbacks" corruption. Instead, this type of corruption has actually been legalized. And it is strangling both US competitiveness, and the ability for US firms to innovate.
The corruption to which I am referring is the phenomenon of money in politics.
Lawrence Lessig's Republic, Lost, details many of the distortions that occur as a result of all the money sloshing around in the political system: how elected representatives are being forced to spend an ever-increasing amount of their time chasing donors for funds, for example, as opposed to chasing citizens for votes. Former congressman and CIA director Leon Panetta described it as "legalized bribery"; something which has just "become part of the culture of how this place operates." (Harvard Business Review)
Knocking Down a Steel Man: How to Argue Better "The beginning of thought is in disagreement – not only with others but also with ourselves." – Eric Hoffer
You know when someone makes an argument, and you know you can get away with making it seem like they made a much worse one, so you attack that argument for points? That’s strawmanning. Lots of us have done it, even though we shouldn’t. But what if we went one step beyond just not doing that? What if we went one better? Then we would be steelmanning, the art of addressing the best form of the other person’s argument, even if it’s not the one they presented. Mackenzie McHale, from the Newsroom, puts it on her list of Very Important Things for journalists (#2), and it would serve us well, too.
Text: Newsnight 2.0 Rules: 1. Is this information we need in the voting booth 2. Is this the best possible form of the argument? 3. Is the story in historical context?
Why should we do this? Three reasons: It makes us better rationalists, better arguers, and better people. (The Merely Real)
Obama's Pot Problem: Now that states have started legalizing recreational marijuana, will the president continue the government’s war on weed? When voters in Colorado and Washington state legalized recreational marijuana in November, they thought they were declaring a cease-fire in the War on Drugs. Thanks to ballot initiatives that passed by wide margins on Election Day, adults 21 or older in both states can now legally possess up to an ounce of marijuana. The new laws also compel Colorado and Washington to license private businesses to cultivate and sell pot, and to levy taxes on the proceeds. Together, the two states expect to reap some $600 million annually in marijuana revenues for schools, roads and other projects. The only losers, in fact, will be the Mexican drug lords, who currently supply as much as two-thirds of America's pot.
Drug reformers can scarcely believe their landslide victories at the polls. "People expected this day would come, but most didn't expect it to come this soon," says Norm Stamper, a former Seattle police chief who campaigned for legalization. "This is the beginning of the end of prohibition."
But the war over pot may be far from over. Legalization has set Colorado and Washington on a collision course with the Obama administration, which has shown no sign of backing down on its full-scale assault on pot growers and distributors. Although the president pledged to go easy on medical marijuana – now legal in 18 states – he has actually launched more raids on state-sanctioned pot dispensaries than George W. Bush, and has threatened to prosecute state officials who oversee medical marijuana as if they were drug lords. And while the administration has yet to issue a definitive response to the two new laws, the Justice Department was quick to signal that it has no plans to heed the will of voters. "Enforcement of the Controlled Substances Act," the department announced in November, "remains unchanged." (Rolling Stone)
GAO Report Shows Problems with TSA SPP Program Today, Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS), Ranking Member of the Committee on Homeland Security, released the below statement in response to a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report on the Transportation Security Administration's (TSA) Screening Partnership Program (SPP), a program in which airports can opt-out of having federalized screeners in favor of privatized ones. The report is entitled "Screening Partnership Program: TSA Should Issue More Guidance to Airports and Monitor Private versus Federal Screener Performance" (GAO-13-208). (US Congress)
Hacker finds McAfee through phone trail Weeks of international intrigue about the whereabouts of tech millionaire John McAfee ended Tuesday after the internet pioneer made an elementary digital mistake that highlighted the fraught relationship Americans have with what they once quaintly called "the telephone".
That homely communication tool, wired into walls everywhere for the better part of a century, has become an untethered emailer, browser, banker, shopper, movie viewer, music player and - to an extent that few appreciate - digital spy of extraordinary power.
McAfee, 67, who founded the popular antivirus company that bears his name, has been wanted for questioning by police in Belize since a neighbour turned up dead of a gunshot wound near McAfee's beachside home on November 11. The troubled tech savant, insisting that he had no role in the shooting, went on the run and has been taunting police by blog, Twitter and occasional podcast. (The Sydney Morning Herald)
High-Speed Passenger Rail, Preliminary Assessment of California's Cost Estimates and Other Challenges, GAO-13-163T Based on an initial evaluation of the California High Speed Rail Authority's (Authority) cost estimates, GAO found that they exhibit certain strengths and weaknesses when compared to best practices in GAO's Cost Guide. Adherence with the Cost Guide reduces the risk of cost overruns and missed deadlines. GAO's preliminary evaluation indicates that the cost estimates are comprehensive in that they include major components of construction and operating costs. However, they are not based on a complete set of assumptions, such as how the Authority expects to adapt existing high-speed rail technology to the project in California. The cost estimates are accurate in that they are based on the most recent project scope, include an inflation adjustment, and contain few mathematical errors. And while the cost estimates' methodologies are generally documented, in some cases GAO was unable to trace the final cost estimate back to its source documentation and could not verify how certain cost components, such as stations and trains, were calculated. - "...insufficient evidence to draw any conclusions of improved performance under SPP (Screening Partnership Program) when compared to federal screening services." (Government Accountability Office)
Buford man killed by police officers identified Jose Antonio Hernandez-Gonzalez reportedly told police Tuesday night they would have to shoot him before he dropped his loaded .357 revolver.
#After a roughly six-minute standoff outside a Buford apartment complex Tuesday, 20-year-old Hernandez-Gonzalez pointed his gun at Gwinnett County police officers that had originally responded to North Alexander Street following a report of “several people smoking marijuana.” Four officers fired.
#Hernandez-Gonzalez, another gun and “several small baggies of marijuana” later found on his person, police said, was killed.
#“No shots were fired until that threat was directed at officers,” Gwinnett police spokesman Cpl. Jake Smith said.
(Gwinnett Daily Post)
Grandfather grieves teenage grandson killed by U.S. drone Two years ago, Nasser al-Awlaki wrote a letter to President Obama. His request was simple: Please do not kill my son.
He never got a response. Last September, his son, Anwar al-Awlaki, an American-born al Qaeda leader, was killed by a U.S. drone in a remote area of Northern Yemen. Two weeks later, his 16-year-old grandson, Anwar’s son, was also killed, in a separate U.S. strike hundreds of miles away.
“Anwar, it was expected, because he was … targeted,” Nasser al-Awlaki told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour in an exclusive interview on Wednesday. “But how in the world they will go and kill Abdulrahman, a small boy, a U.S. citizen, from Denver, Colorado?”
Nasser’s son, Anwar, was born in New Mexico in 1971 while he was studying for his master’s degree. The family moved back to Yemen, but Anwar returned to the U.S. for college, and became an imam in California. (American Civil Liberties Union)
Newly Released Drone Records Reveal Extensive Military Flights in US Today EFF posted several thousand pages of new drone license records and a new map that tracks the location of drone flights across the United States.
These records, received as a result of EFF’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), come from state and local law enforcement agencies, universities and—for the first time—three branches of the U.S. military: the Air Force, Marine Corps, and DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency).
Military Drone Flights in the United States
A160 Hummingbird DroneWhile the U.S. military doesn’t need an FAA license to fly drones over its own military bases (these are considered “restricted airspace”), it does need a license to fly in the national airspace (which is almost everywhere else in the US). And, as we’ve learned from these records, the Air Force and Marine Corps regularly fly both large and small drones in the national airspace all around the country. This is problematic, given a recent New York Times report that the Air Force’s drone operators sometimes practice surveillance missions by tracking civilian cars along the highway adjacent to the base. (Electronic Frontier Foundation)
First AZ medical marijuana dispensary opens More than two years after being approved by voters, the first legal medical marijuana dispensary in Arizona is now open for business.
Patients and caregivers showed up to pre-register for distribution at Southern Arizona Integrated Therapies on Sunday. (FOX)
Treating PTSD with Ecstasy: One story When Rachel Hope picked up the phone in 2005 to call Dr. Michael Mithoefer, she didn't have high hopes.
"I had very low expectations," said Hope, who suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder for years before investigating whether the drug Ecstasy might be able to free her from her torment. Her PTSD was traced to a period of sexual abuse as a child and a life-threatening car accident.
In the initial 45-minute conversation, Mithoefer determined that Hope didn't have other serious psychological problems. He agreed to fly her to South Carolina to take part in his study of the experimental therapy. There, she underwent more psychological testing and a physical exam. There were standard therapy sessions, so Mithoefer could understand Hope's past and her symptoms. Finally, she was ready.
Light streamed through the skylight as Hope lay back on a futon in Mithoefer's office, in the rear of a small bungalow. (CNN)
How A Former Big Bank Lawyer Taught His Old Bosses A $25 Billion Lesson Tom Cox is a lawyer who used to represent major banks. Now he's working to help Maine residents facing foreclosure keep their homes, and recently uncovered a massive fraud by five major mortgage lenders that led to a $25 billion dollar settlement to assist people driven into debt by shady business practices. Guess which job he found more satisfying?
Here We Go Again: Latest Draft Of White House Cybersecurity 'Executive Order' Is Leaked Back in September, we posted a leaked version of a draft for a cybersecurity executive order that the White House had been passing around, mainly to try to force Congress into passing a cybersecurity law. With the last ditch attempt by Senator Harry Reid to move that process forward failing, it took exactly a week for the White House to revise its draft exec order, and start passing it around on November 21st. And, today, that new draft leaked as well. You can see the full draft here or embedded below.
It's basically more of the same. It insists that there's a problem without providing any real evidence of that. Much of the order focuses on increasing information sharing among and between different government agencies. As expected, it's designed to encourage private companies, who are "owners and operators of critical infrastructure" to "participate, on a voluntary basis, in the Enhanced Cybersecurity initiative." This is part of what had people so concerned about the various bill proposals: whether or not companies would get broadly defined as "owners and operators of critical infrastructure" and then be forced or pressured into sharing private information, all in the name of "cybersecurity!" (Tech Dirt)
Project Longevity: Justice Department, Connecticut State Officials Target Gun Violence The Obama administration is taking a cautious step toward confronting the politically tricky subject of gun violence with an initiative focused on prevention due to be unveiled on Tuesday.
It will not be the gun control launch that some of President Barack Obama's supporters hoped for after Obama won a second four-year term in a Nov. 6 election.
Instead, U.S. Justice Department and Connecticut state officials will announce what one law enforcement official called a statewide approach that targets repeat criminals, creates alternatives for potential gang members and rallies neighborhoods against violence. (Reuters)
The 10 Things That Led to Legalized Marijuana in Colorado (by Rob Kampia) In the wake of our victory in Colorado -- where 54.8 percent of the voters passed Amendment 64, a constitutional amendment to regulate marijuana like alcohol -- good people are understandably clamoring to pass similar measures in their states.
Here is a listing of the ingredients of the recipe that led to the historic victory in Colorado on November 6.
1. Presidential Election: Given that no one had ever previously legalized marijuana in the history of the world, we assumed that the election in Colorado would be close -- win or lose. So we intentionally chose to place our initiative on the ballot during a presidential election, which always attracts a larger proportion of young voters, who are more supportive.
2. Inclusive Drafting Process: The team that drafted the initiative went out of its way to solicit feedback from key lawyers, medical-marijuana industry players, other organizational leaders, and unaffiliated activists. As a result, there was almost no infighting, which allowed us to build a strong coalition of support across the state.
3. Years of Groundwork: Officially, the Colorado campaign was two years long; unofficially, it was eight years long. In 2004, MPP's grants program helped launch two non-profit advocacy organizations in Colorado, SAFER and Sensible Colorado. The executive directors of these two organizations eventually became the co-proponents of Amendment 64. SAFER focused on educating the public about the fact that marijuana is less harmful than alcohol; it did so through citywide, marijuana-related ballot initiatives in Denver in 2005 and 2007, which each garnered support from a majority of Denver voters. In 2006, SAFER coordinated a statewide ballot initiative to legalize marijuana and generated substantial debate in Colorado (while garnering 41 percent of the vote). Meanwhile, Sensible Colorado helped expand access to medical marijuana for patients. Most significantly, in 2008, Sensible Colorado spearheaded a court challenge to expand the state's medical marijuana "caregiver" provision to allow for retail sales. All of this took planning and money. (The Huffington Post)
CEO Council Demands Cuts To Poor, Elderly While Reaping Billions In Government Contracts, Tax Breaks The corporate CEOs who have made a high-profile foray into deficit negotiations have themselves been substantially responsible for the size of the deficit they now want closed.
The companies represented by executives working with the Campaign To Fix The Debt have received trillions in federal war contracts, subsidies and bailouts, as well as specialized tax breaks and loopholes that virtually eliminate the companies' tax bills.
The CEOs are part of a campaign run by the Peter Peterson-backed Center for a Responsible Federal Budget, which plans to spend at least $30 million pushing for a deficit reduction deal in the lame-duck session and beyond.
During the past few days, CEOs belonging to what the campaign calls its CEO Fiscal Leadership Council -- most visibly, Goldman Sachs' Lloyd Blankfein and Honeywell's David Cote -- have barnstormed the media, making the case that the only way to cut the deficit is to severely scale back social safety-net programs -- Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security -- which would disproportionately impact the poor and the elderly. (The Huffington Post)
Online petitions seek to free Montana medical marijuana grower ~ Over 40,000 have signed Medical marijuana grower Chris Williams is seeking a new trial after being convicted in a federal drug and weapons case that carries the potential for a prison sentence of up to 92 years. He's appealing, but his supporters aren't waiting for the justice system.
They've taken his cause to the Internet, in the form of online petitions filed with the White House, with SignOn.org, and with Care2.com. Together, they’ve gathered close to 40,000 signatures nationwide.
"The sentence shocks the conscience," said Chris Lindsey, a former business partner of Williams who is awaiting sentencing after pleading guilty to a federal drug conspiracy charge. Williams rejected a similar plea agreement.
"Look at (former Penn State assistant football coach) Jerry Sandusky," Lindsey said. "For 45 counts of child sexual abuse, he gets 30 years. Chris Williams is going to get three times that for being a medical marijuana provider. It doesn’t make any logical sense." (Helena Independent Record)
Gaza ceasefire holds but mistrust runs deep A ceasefire between Israel and Hamas held firm on Thursday with scenes of joy among the ruins in Gaza over what Palestinians hailed as a victory, and both sides saying their fingers were still on the trigger.
In the sudden calm, Palestinians who had been under Israeli bombs for eight days poured into Gaza streets for a celebratory rally, walking past wrecked houses and government buildings.
But as a precaution, schools stayed closed in southern Israel, where nerves were jangled by warning sirens - a false alarm, the army said - after a constant rain of rockets during the most serious Israeli-Palestinian fighting in four years.
Israel had launched its strikes last week with a declared aim of ending rocket attacks on its territory from Gaza, ruled by the Islamist militant group Hamas, which denies Israel's right to exist. Hamas had responded with more rockets. (Reuters)
Why should I be allowed to marry? I chose to be gay Our writer says that there's something to good-old English bigotry after all: being gay is a way of choosing strife instead of choosing life - and he should know - I remember the exact moment I chose to be gay. I was sitting at home contemplating my predictable life of automatic acceptance and uncomplicated social assimilation and procreation and I thought, ‘How dull.’ I whipped out my Manchester United biro from my Pamela Anderson pencil case and started brainstorming ways to inject some adversity into my future.
I thought about tattooing my face with satanic imagery or becoming a single mother on a forgotten council estate but I just didn’t have the qualifications. Clearly, I had the wrong approach! So I started sketching out a list of my tastes, traits and talents. Maybe that might point me in the right direction? I enjoyed the arts. I liked dressing up. I got erections when I thought about naked men. By cross-referencing these details with a number of different lifestyle choices, I came up with two options. I could either be a gay man or a Catholic priest. It was a tricky decision but in the end, I settled for option 1. (The Independent)
Sacramento City Council outlaws outdoor cultivation of medicinal pot in Sacramento neighborhoods Following a statewide trend, the Sacramento City Council passed an ordinance Tuesday night outlawing the outdoor cultivation of medicinal marijuana in residential neighborhoods.
After nearly an hour of testimony, the council followed through on a vote last month signaling its intent to join Elk Grove and other cities around California that are placing tighter restrictions on marijuana cultivation. The council voted 6-2 to enact the ban.
Councilwoman Sandy Sheedy, the chief proponent of the ban, said outdoor cultivation had led to crime and fear in her northern Sacramento district.
"I think that people have a right to a quality of life," she said.
Councilman Kevin McCarty added, "The current situation is not working in our neighborhoods."
But Councilmen Steve Cohn and Jay Schenirer – who voted against the ordinance – urged the council to delay adopting the law until it was more thoroughly vetted. (Sacramento Bee)
Dutch put pot in class with heroin Strong strains of marijuana will be designated Class A drugs in the Netherlands, the same category as heroin and cocaine, a minister said.
Justice Minister Ivo Opstelten told the Dutch Parliament "hard drugs have no place in the coffee shops," DutchNews.nl reported Tuesday.
Opstelten said under the plan coffee shops in the Netherlands will only be allowed to sell cannabis with a THC level of less than 15 percent.
He did not say when the new restriction will go into effect but coffee shop owners are already expressing opposition.
Mark Josemans, a spokesman for the Maastrict owners association, said the change will move sales to the streets. (United Press International)
Senate bill rewrite lets feds read your e-mail without warrants Proposed law scheduled for a vote next week originally increased Americans' e-mail privacy. Then law enforcement complained. Now it increases government access to e-mail and other digital files. - A Senate proposal touted as protecting Americans' e-mail privacy has been quietly rewritten, giving government agencies more surveillance power than they possess under current law, CNET has learned.
Patrick Leahy, the influential Democratic chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, has dramatically reshaped his legislation in response to law enforcement concerns, according to three individuals who have been negotiating with Leahy's staff over the changes. A vote on his bill, which now authorizes warrantless access to Americans' e-mail, is scheduled for next week. (CNet News)
The US-Israeli Attack on Gaza The Western media in chorus has described the Israeli attack on Gaza as an ad hoc IDF-led counterterrorism operation, launched on the grounds of “self defense” in response to Palestinian rocket attacks on Israel.
While reports acknowledge that president Obama, in the wake of the November 6 elections, had granted a “Green Light” to Tel Aviv, the central issue does not pertain to Washington’s support but rather to the direct involvement of the US government and military in the planning and implementation of the attack on Gaza.
There is evidence that Operation “Pillar of Cloud” was implemented in close liaison with Washington in the context of the broader process of allied military planning. Senior US military officials were on location in Israel working with their IDF counterparts in the days leading up to the attack.
Operation “Pillar of Cloud” was launched on the 14th of November, exactly one week after the US presidential elections. It was slated to be launched irrespective of the outcome of the US elections. The first action was the targeted assassination of the leader of Hamas’ military wing Ahmed Jabari. The operation has since evolved towards a generalized bombing campaign and ground invasion involving the announced deployment of some 75,000 Israeli troops. (Global Research)
A 'Party Drug' May Help the Brain Cope With Trauma Hundreds of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans with post-traumatic stress have recently contacted a husband-and-wife team who work in suburban South Carolina to seek help. Many are desperate, pleading for treatment and willing to travel to get it.
The soldiers have no interest in traditional talking cures or prescription drugs that have given them little relief. They are lining up to try an alternative: MDMA, better known as Ecstasy, a party drug that surfaced in the 1980s and ’90s that can induce pulses of euphoria and a radiating affection. Government regulators criminalized the drug in 1985, placing it on a list of prohibited substances that includes heroin and LSD. But in recent years, regulators have licensed a small number of labs to produce MDMA for research purposes.
“I feel survivor’s guilt, both for coming back from Iraq alive and now for having had a chance to do this therapy,” said Anthony, a 25-year-old living near Charleston, S.C., who asked that his last name not be used because of the stigma of taking the drug. “I’m a different person because of it.”
In a paper posted online Tuesday by the Journal of Psychopharmacology, Michael and Ann Mithoefer, the husband-and-wife team offering the treatment — which combines psychotherapy with a dose of MDMA — write that they found 15 of 21 people who recovered from severe post-traumatic stress in the therapy in the early 2000s reported minor to virtually no symptoms today. Many said they have received other kinds of therapy since then, but not with MDMA. (New York Times)
SGI Twitter Heat Map: Supercomputer Shows Where Angriest Tweeters Live Twitter may be full of jibber-jabber, but that doesn't mean this social networking site can't give us a little insight about what the world is thinking.
Silicon Graphics International, or SGI, has partnered with researchers from the University of Illinois to scan international tweets in a project dubbed the Global Twitter Heartbeat. By using SGI's UV 2000 Big Brain supercomputer, the researchers created real-time heat maps of positive and negative sentiments expressed via Twitter. (The Huffington Post)
Colorado & Washington Legalize Marijuana ... Dear Attorney General Holder and Administrator Leonhart:
We are writing to urge federal law enforcement to consider carefully the recent decisions by the people of Colorado and Washington to legalize small amounts of marijuana for personal use by adults. Under the new laws, each state will establish a comprehensive regulatory scheme governing the production, sale and personal use of marijuana. We believe that it would be a mistake for the federal government to focus enforcement action on individuals whose actions are in compliance with state law.
We are concerned that the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) continue to threaten individuals and businesses acting within the scope of their states’ laws on the medicinal use of marijuana despite formal guidance on exercising prosecutorial discretion. These actions contradict assurances made by DOJ in 2009 that the Department would not prioritize criminal charges against those who act in compliance with state law. It is also a poor use of limited federal resources. We hope your agencies will not take a similar approach with regard to individuals and businesses who comply with Colorado’s and Washington’s new laws, each of which were approved with overwhelming public support. (US Congress)
Marijuana: Mike Coffman, Amendment 64 opponent, to back federal exemption bill Update below: Representative Mike Coffman, a Republican, is announcing today his support of legislation that would exempt Colorado from federal marijuana policy. It's a noteworthy move from Coffman, who is against the legalization of marijuana but respects Colorado's ballot process and the support Amendment 64 received last week, when voters chose to legalize small amounts of pot for adult use.
As we noted earlier this week, Democratic representatives Diana DeGette, Ed Perlmutter and Jared Polis have been drafting legislation that would make Colorado exempt from policies at the federal level, at which marijuana remains illegal. (Denver Westword)
Barney Frank, Ron Paul Urge Obama To Respect Colorado, Washington Marijuana Laws Reps. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) and Ron Paul (R-Texas) are urging President Barack Obama to "respect the wishes of voters in Colorado and Washington" who voted to legalize marijuana.
"We have sponsored legislation at the federal level to remove criminal penalties for the use of marijuana because of our belief in individual freedom," Frank and Paul wrote in a letter to Obama. "We recognize that this has not yet become national policy, but we believe there are many strong reasons for your administration to allow the states of Colorado and Washington to set the policies they believe appropriate in this regard, without the federal government overriding the choices made by the voters of these states."
Frank and Paul presented the new marijuana laws as a sort of challenge to "those who disagree with us," noting opponents "should welcome the opportunity to put their theories to a test." (The Huffington Post)
Israel launches war on Gaza terror: Operation Pillar of Cloud Israel on Wednesday evening suddenly launched a major aerial campaign against terrorist targets across the Gaza Strip under the banner of "Operation Pillar of Cloud."
The action comes after days of incessant terrorist rocket fire against the residents of southern Israel. Israel's leaders mulled what response to take, but by Wednesday it appeared that there would be no serious military retaliation.
Defense Minister Ehud Barak said the primarily target of Operation Pillar of Defense is the stockpile of medium and long-range missiles that Gaza terrorists had accumulated in recent years. By late evening Wednesday, Barak said most of those missiles had been destroyed. (Israel Today)
Obama signs secret directive to help thwart cyberattacks President Obama has signed a secret directive that effectively enables the military to act more aggressively to thwart cyberattacks on the nation’s web of government and private computer networks.
Presidential Policy Directive 20 establishes a broad and strict set of standards to guide the operations of federal agencies in confronting threats in cyberspace, according to several U.S. officials who have seen the classified document and are not authorized to speak on the record. The president signed it in mid-October.
The new directive is the most extensive White House effort to date to wrestle with what constitutes an “offensive” and a “defensive” action in the rapidly evolving world of cyberwar and cyberterrorism, where an attack can be launched in milliseconds by unknown assailants utilizing a circuitous route. For the first time, the directive explicitly makes a distinction between network defense and cyber-operations to guide officials charged with making often-rapid decisions when confronted with threats. (Washington Post)
7% Think U.S. Is Winning War on Drugs Americans overwhelmingly believe the war on drugs is a failure, but there’s little support for spending more on it to win.
Only seven percent (7%) of American Adults think the United States is winning the war on drugs, according to a new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey. Eighty-two percent (82%) say the country is not winning the fight against illegal drugs. Twelve percent (12%) are not sure. (Rasmussen)
Antidepressants -- nation's top prescription It's up for debate whether Americans are more depressed than they were 20 years ago, but according to the National Center for Health Statistics, we're certainly taking more antidepressant medications. Researchers compared data from 1988-94 with data from 2005-08 and found that the rate of antidepressant use increased nearly 400 percent. The data also show that patients are staying on the drugs for years, and that the prescriptions are especially common among middle-aged women. Source: 1.usa.gov/rpFWAo
Antidepressant ranking among prescription drugs among U.S. adults up to age 44. Antidepressants are the most common prescription medication for Americans age 18-44, and the third most common drug across all ages. (San Francisco Chronicle)
California cap and trade: Climate-change bidding begins -- State's initial auction of emission credits is set for Wednesday despite suit California is soon to launch a bold attempt at climate-change reversal: a cap-and-trade program allowing businesses to buy and sell credits for emission of the most notorious greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide.
The first auction of carbon credits is scheduled for Wednesday – despite a lawsuit filed Tuesday by the California Chamber of Commerce that seeks a court ruling to invalidate such auctions.
The program itself is set to begin Jan. 1.
Some 360 manufacturers, utilities and other businesses are expected to take part, representing nearly 600 facilities across the state.
The cap-and-trade market is part of the state's controversial 2006 climate-change law, AB32, which also includes low-carbon fuel standards and promotion of renewable energy projects. (OC Register)
Global warming talk heats up, revisits carbon tax Climate change is suddenly a hot topic again. The issue is resurfacing in talks about a once radical idea: a possible carbon tax.
On Tuesday, a conservative think tank held discussions about it while a more liberal think tank released a paper on it. And the Congressional Budget Office issued a 19-page report on the different ways to make a carbon tax less burdensome on lower income people.
A carbon tax works by making people pay more for using fossil fuels like coal, oil, and gas that produce heat-trapping carbon dioxide.
The idea was considered so radical that in 2009, when President Barack Obama tried to pass a bill on global warming, that he instead opted for the more moderate approach of capping power plant emissions and trading credits that allowed utilities to pollute more. That idea, after passing the House, stalled in the Senate in 2010 and has been considered dead since. (Associated Press)
A 'wait-and-see' approach to marijuana laws It is encouraging that the Justice Department is not immediately challenging Washington state and Colorado’s marijuana legalization laws [“Marijuana legality elicits confusion,” news, Nov. 10]. The best course is a “wait-and-see” approach.
The nation can now observe two different experiments in state marijuana control — if the Justice Department cooperates. But if it fights these states the way it has fought state medical marijuana laws for 16 years, it will delay the learning of potential regulatory and social techniques to control marijuana use, production and distribution. (Washington Post)
IDF and U.S. Army launch four Patriot missiles as part of mass joint drill
The drill, considered the largest ever carried out by the two countries, will be conducted over the course of three weeks, and will simulate an extensive Mideast war with U.S. intervention. - The Israel Defense Forces and the U.S. Army launched four Patriot missiles into the Mediterranean Sea on Monday, as part of a joint military exercise conducted by the two countries.
The missiles were launched from the Palmachim Air Force base in central Israel, near the cities of Rishon Letzion and Yavne.
The two militaries will carry out further similar launches as part of the drill, simulating the interception of aircraft or missiles penetrating Israeli air space. The ongoing drill is considered the largest joint exercise ever carried out by the two countries.
The drill is meant to simulate an extensive war in the Middle East that would require the United States to intervene and provide Israel with further defense to intercept missiles. (Haaretz)
Spain suspends house evictions for two years -- Spanish banks are suspending evictions for the next two years for the most vulnerable people. An estimated 350,000 families have been evicted from their homes since Spain's property market crashed in 2008.
It comes three days after Amaia Egana, who was 53, died after jumping from her fourth floor apartment in northern Spain, just before she was due to be evicted.
Her death has inflamed public anger at banks, accused of being heartless.
Another man in the city of Granada, whose house was also due to be repossessed, apparently committed suicide last month.
Spain's Finance Minister, Luis De Guindos, said it was important to find a bipartisan solution to the problem. (BBC)
Where FEMA fails, Occupy Sandy delivers storm relief The Occupy Wall Street movement, nearly forgotten after a brief but global flourish a year ago, has found a new mission delivering emergency aid to Sandy-stricken residents of New York and New Jersey.
In what is arguably the movement's finest hour, hundreds of grassroots volunteers came together and went to work in the immediate aftermath of Sandy's fury, coordinating relief efforts and delivering supplies to desperate residents even as the official government response to the disaster lagged woefully behind.
The day after Sandy blew through the tri-state area, Occupiers established an operational base in St. Jacobi Church in Brooklyn. Using their renowned social media savvy and relying upon the fierce determination of volunteers, Occupy Sandy began collecting donations by the truckload and distributing them among some of the storm's neediest victims.
Canned and cooked food, water, medicine, clothing, shoes, blankets, tools, flashlights, batteries, pet food, construction materials and other essentials have been handed out in large quantities. (Digital Journal)
White House website deluged with secession petitions from 20 states How would Old Glory look with 30 stars instead of 50? As far-fetched as it may sound, the White House might soon be forced by its own rules to examine the question.
On Nov.7, the day after President Barack Obama was re-elected, the White House’s website received a petition asking the administration to allow Louisiana to secede.
If 25,000 people sign the petition by Dec. 7, it will “require a response” from the Obama administration, according to published rules of the White House’s online “We the People” program. (The Daily Caller)
How to Cut Prison Costs Thanks in part to the federal Second Chance Act of 2008, states are finding creative ways to cut prison costs — now more than $52 billion a year nationwide — by making sure that people who are released from prison actually stay out.
The act, aimed at helping states and localities reduce recidivism, encourages changes like those that have already taken place in Kansas, Texas and Oregon. The states have expanded community-based drug treatment programs, improved postprison supervision and retooled parole systems that once shunted people back to jail not for actual crimes but for technical violations that are more cheaply and effectively dealt with through community-based sanctions like house arrest or mandatory drug treatment. (New York Times)
Washington counties drop marijuana misdemeanor possession cases in light of vote The prosecutor's offices for two Washington counties -- including the one that contains Seattle -- announced today they will dismiss 175 misdemeanor marijuana possession charges, days after the state's voters legalized the drug.
The dropped cases all involve arrests of individuals age 21 and older for possessing one ounce or less of marijuana.
Washington state voters passed Initiative 502 on Tuesday, thus legalizing and regulating the production, possession, and distribution of cannabis for people ages 21 and older.
The initiative is set to take effect December 6, though King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg decided to act before then. (CNN)
U.S. drone strike kills 3 al-Qaida militants near Yemeni capital A U.S. drone strike targeted a group of al-Qaida militants on the outskirts of the Yemeni capital Sanaa on Wednesday night, killing at least three terrorists, government officials said.
"Three terrorists, including local al-Qaida commander Adnan al- Qathi who is wanted for bombing the U.S. embassy in Sanaa in late 2008, were confirmed killed Wednesday night in a Yemeni-U.S. joint airstrike operation which targeted the militants' vehicle near Sayyan village outside the capital Sanaa," a local security official told Xinhua by phone. He declined to provide further details.
An official from Al-Daylami Air Force Base in Sanaa confirmed the airstrike on Wednesday night in a remote area about 40 km southeast of Sanaa, but said "the raid was not carried out by any Yemeni warplane." (Xinhuanet)
Dow Jones Industrial Average Celebrates "Four More Years" With Biggest Drop In A Year It seems like only last night everyone was celebrating more hope, if not much change. Now comes the hangover. The Dow Jones intraday drop is now 2.23% (and rising), greater than the biggest drop so far in 2012 record on June 1. The last time the market plunged as much: literally one year ago, or November 9, 2011. Sadly, it appears that one can't have their Dow Jones Industrial Average and redistribute it too.
And if the surge in vol the last time we had moves of this magnitude is any indication, we can solmenly say that the world's most overrated job for the next 2 months (and 4 years) will be the Chief Redemption Officer, at any hedge fund.
and the S&P futures are at a critical level...below Draghi's Elbow... (Zero Hedge)
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