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Colbert storms Capitol Hill for migrant workers There's nothing funny about the issue of migrant farm labor -- unless Comedy Central's Stephen Colbert is discussing it.
Colbert, accompanied by a media swarm, sarcastically testified on Capitol Hill Friday about the conditions facing America's undocumented farm workers. The popular host of "The Colbert Report" told members of a House Judiciary subcommittee that he hoped to bring attention to the workers' hardships.
"I certainly hope that my star power can bump this hearing all the way up to C-SPAN 1," he joked. (CNN)
FCC order on airwaves is victory for tech giants The Federal Communications Commission on Thursday approved the use of unlicensed airwaves in what it hopes will be a new market for high-speed Internet connections for smartphones, tablets and computers.
The order, approved unanimously by the five-member commission, is a win for high-tech giants Dell, Microsoft and Google, which have lobbied for the use of the airwaves known as "white spaces." Those are parts of the broadcast spectrum that sit between television channels, and are valued as a potential home for amped-up versions of WiFi networks with longer ranges and stronger connections that can penetrate walls.
FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski touted the decision as part of his effort to significantly extend broadband connections in the United States. The order was introduced and passed under then-Chairman Kevin J. Martin two years ago but got hung up with a lawsuit brought by broadcasters, church ministers and Nashville's Dolly Parton, who argued that those airwaves could interfere with wireless microphones and nearby television channels. (Washington Post)
Military-Grade Malware Spurs Theories on New Cyberwar Threat Cybersecurity officials have discovered a widely disseminated piece of malicious software called Stuxnet, which they say establishes a new precedent in the sophistication and threat of cyberwarfare. It's unclear exactly what Stuxnet was designed to do, but officials say the software had embedded itself across computer systems at a number of power facilities and factories over the past year. It appeared to have the ability, if activated, to briefly wrest control of industrial components away from human operators. Analysts say it's possible this could destroy the targeted facility by causing explosions and fires. Wired's Kim Zetter explores the technical analysis and processes in-depth. It's unknown who created it, to what end, and what exactly Stuxnet would have done if it had not been discovered. But here's what we know and the implications. (The Atlantic)
Vacant TV wavelengths opened for broadband in US US regulators have paved the way for new high-speed web connection devices by releasing unused television frequencies for use by mobile broadband.
The decision, reached in a unanimous vote by the Federal Communications Commission, was hailed by the regulator as its first major release of unlicensed spectrum in 25 years. It will open the way for Google, Microsoft and start-ups to market devices that communicate using spectrum that had been left vacant as a buffer zone for broadcast TV stations. (Financial Times)
We ignore rise in drug abuse among kids By William J. Bennett, Alexandra Datig and Seth Leibsohn - Last week, the government released its National Survey on Drug Use and Health. It didn't make much of a news splash, but it should have -- and in years past, it would have.
When a serious war is taking place, officials throughout the administration hold press conferences and issue statements while print and televised media across the country report on it. Almost none of this happened, although the reasons for talking and reporting are greater than they have been in a very long time.
Here's the takeaway: Illicit drug abuse is seriously affecting our children, our schools, our workplaces and our society. And it is on the rise. In 2009, nearly 22 million Americans were regularly abusing illicit drugs: a rise of 1.5 million abusers of marijuana from 2008 and a rise of 2.3 million users from 2007, a rise of 205,000 abusers of Ecstasy from 2008, a rise of 188,000 abusers of methamphetamine from 2008 and a rise of 800,000 abusers of prescription drugs from 2008. (CNN)
Al-Qaeda likely to try small-scale attacks on U.S., officials say Al-Qaeda and its allies are likely to attempt small-scale, less sophisticated terrorist attacks in the United States, senior Obama administration officials said Wednesday, noting that it's extremely difficult to detect such threats in advance.
"Unlike large-scale, coordinated, catastrophic attacks, executing smaller-scale attacks requires less planning and fewer pre-operational steps," said Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, testifying before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. "Accordingly, there are fewer opportunities to detect such an attack before it occurs." (Washington Post)
Americans Vastly Underestimate Wealth Inequality, Support 'More Equal Distribution Of Wealth': Study Americans vastly underestimate the degree of wealth inequality in America, and we believe that the distribution should be far more equitable than it actually is, according to a new study.
Or, as the study's authors put it: "All demographic groups -- even those not usually associated with wealth redistribution such as Republicans and the wealthy -- desired a more equal distribution of wealth than the status quo."
The report (pdf) "Building a Better America -- One Wealth Quintile At A Time" by Dan Ariely of Duke University and Michael I. Norton of Harvard Business School (hat tip to Paul Kedrosky), shows that across ideological, economic and gender groups, Americans thought the richest 20 percent of our society controlled about 59 percent of the wealth, while the real number is closer to 84 percent. (Huffington Post)
Gay Rights Campaign Contributions Down in Contentious Year So far during the 2010 election cycle, people and political action committees associated with this special interest area have donated $744,040 to federal candidates, with 96 percent of funds going to Democrats. That’s compared to more than $2 million contributed to federal candidates during the 2006 congressional elections and $1.8 million contributed during the 2008 presidential election cycle. (OpenSecretsblog)
Genetically modified salmon can feed the world The debate over genetically engineered salmon should be put in the proper context: As the world's population grows at an accelerating pace, so does the consumption of seafood.
This is true not only because there are more mouths to feed, but also because as people become more aware of the health benefits associated with eating seafood, more are switching from meat to fish. To satisfy this demand, we have become very sophisticated fishers, with ever-growing fleets, factory fishing ships and very effective gear.
We efficiently hunt our own seafood in the wild; it seems natural to all of us, while we do not hunt for wild chicken, beef or pork. But fish is harvested at a rate that exceeds the fisheries' ability to replenish themselves. According to the UN Food and Agricultural Organization, more than 50 percent of the world's main fisheries stocks are fully exploited, while another 28 percent are over-exploited or depleted. - The public should not be scared by the term "genetic engineering." This powerful platform requires making only relatively minor and very targeted modifications to the animal genome, compared, for example, with selective breeding and domestication, where we manipulate many genes over generations without knowing exactly what is altered. We have all been eating selectively bred fish, chicken, beef and other animals for many years without thinking twice about it. - The AquAdvantage salmon is no different from conventional farmed salmon in its composition and health benefits, and the Food and Drug Administration has concluded that it is safe for people to eat. - Indeed, AquAdvantage salmon are sterile fish, and therefore unable to reproduce even if they escape. (CNN)
Military's Cyber Commander Swears: "No Role" in Civilian Networks If your business gets hacked, don’t bother calling the U.S. military’s new Cyber Command. Sure, the unit has some of the government’s top geeks — and is oh-so-conveniently co-located with the network infiltration experts at the National Security Agency. But Cyber Command is too busy trying to shore up the Pentagon’s digital defenses. Plus, they’re not even sure helping your company out would be legal, yet.
“Right now, we do not have a role,” new Cyber Command chief Gen. Keith Alexander tells reporters in a rare on-the-record interview. “Within the United States, I do not believe that’s where Cyber Command should or will operate.”
Changing that, Alexander adds, “is a decision the White House needs to make.”
Of course, it’s often hard to define where one national border begins and another ends on-line. The White House and Congress are both working on legal and policy re-writes which could alter where and how Cyber Command’s forces could wage information combat. Besides, Alexander already has forces that are operating domestically. He’s also the head of the NSA, which today works with American companies to secure their networks. (Wired)
This Year, Contractor Deaths Exceed Military Ones in Iraq and Afghanistan More private contractors than soldiers were killed in Iraq and Afghanistan in recent months, the first time in history that corporate casualties have outweighed military losses on America’s battlefields.
More than 250 civilians working under U.S. contracts died in the war zones between January and June 2010, according to a ProPublica analysis of the most recent data available from the U.S. Department of Labor, which tracks contractor deaths. In the same period, 235 soldiers died, according to Pentagon figures.
This milestone in the privatization of modern U.S. warfare reflects both the drawdown in military forces in Iraq and the central role of contractors in providing logistics support to local armies and police forces, contracting and military experts said. (ProPublica)
Bob Woodward book details Obama battles with advisers over exit plan for Afghan war President Obama urgently looked for a way out of the war in Afghanistan last year, repeatedly pressing his top military advisers for an exit plan that they never gave him, according to secret meeting notes and documents cited in a new book by journalist Bob Woodward.
Frustrated with his military commanders for consistently offering only options that required significantly more troops, Obama finally crafted his own strategy, dictating a classified six-page "terms sheet" that sought to limit U.S. involvement, Woodward reports in "Obama's Wars," to be released on Monday. - Woodward's book portrays Obama and the White House as barraged by warnings about the threat of terrorist attacks on U.S. soil and confronted with the difficulty in preventing them. During an interview with Woodward in July, the president said, "We can absorb a terrorist attack. We'll do everything we can to prevent it, but even a 9/11, even the biggest attack ever . . . we absorbed it and we are stronger." (Washington Post)
Building a Better America: One Wealth Quintile at a Time by Michael I Norton of Harvard Business School and Dan Ariely of Duke University - Disagreements about the optimal level of wealth inequality underlie policy debates
ranging from taxation to welfare. We attempt to insert the desires of “regular” Americans into these debates, by asking a nationally representative online panel to estimate the current distribution of wealth in the United States and to “build a better America” by constructing distributions with their ideal level of inequality. First, respondents dramatically underestimated the current level of wealth inequality. Second, respondents constructed ideal wealth distributions that were far more equitable than even their erroneously low estimates of the actual distribution. Most important from a policy perspective, we observed a surprising level of consensus: All demographic groups – even those not usually associated with wealth redistribution such as Republicans and the wealthy – desired a more equal distribution of wealth than the status quo. - Most scholars agree that wealth inequality in the United States is at historic highs, with some estimates suggesting that the top 1% of Americans hold nearly 50% of the wealth, topping even the levels seen just before the Great Depression in the 1920’s. - These results demonstrate two clear messages. First, respondents vastly underestimated the actual level of wealth inequality in the United States, believing that the wealthiest quintile held about 59% of the wealth when the actual number is closer to 84%. More interesting, respondents constructed ideal wealth distributions that were far more equitable than even their erroneously low estimates of the actual distribution, reporting a desire for the top quintile to own just 32% of the wealth. These desires for more equal distributions of wealth took the form of moving money from the top quintile to the bottom three quintiles, while leaving the second quintile unchanged, evidencing a greater concern for the less fortunate than the more fortunate. - Overall, these results demonstrate two primary messages. First, a large nationally representative sample of Americans seem to prefer to live in a country more like Sweden than like the United States. Americans also construct ideal distributions that are far more equal than they estimated the United States to be. – estimates which themselves were far more equal than the actual level of inequality. Second, across groups from different sides of the political spectrum, there was much more consensus than disagreement about this desire for a more equal distribution of wealth, suggesting that Americans may possess a commonly held “normative” standard for the distribution of wealth despite the many disagreements about policies that affect that distribution, such as taxation and welfare. We hasten to add, however, that our use of “normative” is in a descriptive sense -- reflecting the fact that Americans agree on the ideal distribution -- but not necessarily in a prescriptive sense. While some evidence suggests that economic inequality is associated with decreased well-being and health, creating a society with the precise level of inequality that our respondents report as ideal may not be optimal from an economic or public policy perspective. (Michael I Norton and Dan Ariely)
Colbert Grills Eric Schmidt On Privacy, 'Don't Be Evil' Motto (VIDEO) Google CEO Eric Schmidt went head-to-head with Stephen Colbert yesterday evening to discuss everything from data-mining to China to Schmidt's "joke" about privacy.
Colbert grilled Schmidt about Google's search algorithm, and what information the company collects about its users.
"It's true that we see your searches, but then we forget them after while," Schmidt explained (he later told Colbert he would "encourage" him to erase his browser history).
"And I'm supposed to trust you on that?" Colbert probed, asking later, "You wouldn't call that data mining?" Not surprisingly, Schmidt answered with firm, "We actually don't do data mining." (Huffington Post)
United States Could 'Absorb' Another Terror Attack, Obama Says in Woodward Book President Obama, after being warned repeatedly by his advisers about the threat of another terror attack on U.S. soil, said in an interview two months ago that the United States could "absorb" another strike.
The comment was included in the new book by journalist Bob Woodward, "Obama's Wars," excerpts of which were reported by The Washington Post and The New York Times.
The book depicts the contentious debate the Obama administration endured to craft a new strategy in Afghanistan. According to the Post, Obama spent the bulk of the exhaustive sessions pressing for an exit strategy and resisting efforts to prolong and escalate the war.
Despite warnings of another attack, he suggested the United States could weather a new strike.
"We can absorb a terrorist attack. We'll do everything we can to prevent it, but even a 9/11, even the biggest attack ever . . . we absorbed it and we are stronger," Obama reportedly said. (Fox)
EXCLUSIVE-Cyber bill would give U.S. emergency powers * Tech companies skeptical of costs, requirements
* Senate majority leader pushing cybersecurity proposal
* Cybersecurity expert says bill is "pretty vanilla stuff" - Proposed cybersecurity legislation circulating on Capitol Hill would give the president the power to declare an emergency in the case of big online attacks and force some businesses to beef up their cyber defenses and submit to scrutiny.
The draft bill, a copy of which was obtained by Reuters, allows the president to declare an emergency if there is an imminent threat to the U.S. electrical grid or other critical infrastructure such as the water supply or financial network because of a cyber attack.
Industries, companies or portions of companies could be temporarily shut down, or be required to take other steps to address threats.
The emergency declaration would last for 30 days, unless the president renews it. It cannot last more than 90 days without action from Congress.
The draft is a combination of two cybersecurity bills which were merged into one at the urging of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. "It (the draft bill) is something that we hope to be able to pass before the end of the year, if we can," Reid spokeswoman Regan Lachapelle told Reuters. (Reuters)
Flu shot may prevent heart attack: study Getting a seasonal flu shot may not only prevent influenza — it may also stop some people from having a heart attack, new research suggests.
In a study of almost 79,000 patients at 379 family practices in England and Wales, researchers found annual flu vaccinations were associated with a significant drop in the rate of a first heart attack.
"Flu vaccination is obviously given to prevent flu and complications of flu where you may need hospitalization," said lead author Dr. Niroshan Siriwardena, a family practitioner and a researcher at the University of Lincoln. - And although the study points to a link between the flu shot reducing heart attacks, Siriwardena cautioned the findings do not prove cause and effect.
"Our study and others suggest that there might be benefit in people who haven't already got heart disease, but who are just at high risk of heart disease," he said. (The Canadian Press)
Was Stuxnet Built to Attack Iran's Nuclear Program? A highly sophisticated computer worm that has spread through Iran, Indonesia and India was built to destroy operations at one target: possibly Iran's Bushehr nuclear reactor.
That's the emerging consensus of security experts who have examined the Stuxnet worm. In recent weeks, they've broken the cryptographic code behind the software and taken a look at how the worm operates in test environments. Researchers studying the worm all agree that Stuxnet was built by a very sophisticated and capable attacker -- possibly a nation state -- and it was designed to destroy something big.
Though it was first developed more than a year ago, Stuxnet was discovered in July 2010, when a Belarus-based security company discovered the worm on computers belonging to an Iranian client. Since then it has been the subject of ongoing study by security researchers who say they've never seen anything like it before. Now, after months of private speculation, some of the researchers who know Stuxnet best say that it may have been built to sabotage Iran's nukes. (PC World)
‘Proven’ deceptive or clueless on activist spying, PA official ‘hides’ Four days after Pittsburgh paper posts 'State's homeland security chief goes in hiding' story, ex-Army colonel still MIA - The head of Pennsylvania's Office of Homeland Security said last week that his office was not involved in the tracking of peaceful political activists and has reportedly "gone into hiding" now that his statement has been contradicted.
Recently publicized documents show that an intelligence company hired by the state's Homeland Security office monitored the Tea Party, Students for a Democratic Society, anti-drilling groups, and other activist groups. (The Raw Story)
Bill Would Give Justice Department Power to Shutter Piracy Sites Worldwide Lawmakers introduced legislation Monday that would let the Justice Department seek U.S. court orders against piracy websites anywhere in the world, and shut them down through the sites’ domain registration.
The bipartisan legislation, dubbed the Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act, (.pdf) amounts to the Holy Grail of intellectual-property enforcement. The recording industry and movie studios have been clamoring for such a capability since the George W. Bush administration. If passed, the Justice Department could ask a federal court for an injunction that would order a U.S. domain registrar or registry to stop resolving an infringing site’s domain name, so that visitors to PirateBay.org, for example, would get an error message.
“In today’s global economy the internet has become the glue of international commerce –- connecting consumers with a wide array of products and services worldwide,” said Sen. Orin Hatch (R-Utah) in a statement announcing the bill. “But it’s also become a tool for online thieves to sell counterfeit and pirated goods, making hundreds of millions of dollars off of stolen American intellectual property.” (Wired)
Congress Only Growing Less Popular With Americans Public approval of Congress remains in short supply in September, with 18% of Americans now approving of the job it is doing, similar to the 19% approving in August. Congress' approval rating has not been above 20% since May, and has not surpassed 30% since September 2009. (Gallup)
Global ‘internet treaty’ proposed: Deal would enshrine in law the founding principles of open standards and net neutrality, and protect the web from political interference. The proposal was presented at the Internet Governance Forum in Lithuania last week, and outlined 12 “principles of internet governance”, including a commitment from countries to sustain the technological foundations that underpin the web’s infrastructure.
The draft law has been likened to the Space Treaty, signed in 1967, which stated that space exploration should be carried out for the benefit of all nations, and guaranteed “free access to all areas of celestial bodies”.
Under the proposed terms of the law, there would be cross-border co-operation between countries to identify and address security vulnerability and protect the network from possible cyber attacks or cyber terrorism.
It would also uphold rights to freedom of expression and association, and the principle of net neutrality, in which all internet traffic is treated equally across the network. (London Telegraph)
GMAC Halts All Foreclosures In 23 States On Heels Of Florida Judge Finding JPM Committed Court Fraud In Mortgage Misappropriation As we pointed out last week, a certain judge in Florida set quite a precedent when he found that JPM, as servicer for a Fannie mortgage, had committed court fraud by foreclosing while not in possession of the actual mortgage. We then concluded that "The implications for the REO and foreclosures track for banks could be dire as a result of this ruling, as this could severely impact the ongoing attempt by banks to hide as much excess inventory in their books in the quietest way possible." Not a week has passed since, and we are already proven right. Today, Bloomberg discloses that GMAC Mortgage, a unit of the affectionately renamed Ally Bank, has halted all foreclosures in 23 states, including Florida, Connecticut and New York. (Zero Hedge)
'Stasi spies' on the motorways: Big Brother fears as motorists are urged to inform on each other Police are asking motorists to spy on each other for examples of poor driving in an alarming new extension of the 'Big Brother' state.
Drivers are told to be on the look out for inconsiderate driving or anybody making 'excessive noise' with their car.
Detailed reports - which critics warn could easily be malicious accusations against neighbours - are submitted to the police, who log extensive details on a huge computer database.
The details are also checked against DVLA databases and the Police National Computer. (UK Daily Mail)
FDA rules won't require labeling of genetically modified salmon As the Food and Drug Administration considers whether to approve genetically modified salmon, one thing seems certain: Shoppers staring at fillets in the seafood department will find it tough to pick out the conventional fish from the one created with genes from another species.
Despite a growing public demand for more information about how food is produced, that won't happen with the salmon because of idiosyncracies embedded in federal regulations.
The FDA says it cannot require a label on the genetically modified food once it determines that the altered fish is not "materially" different from other salmon - something agency scientists have said is true. - The agency warned the dairy industry in 1994 that it could not use "Hormone Free" labeling on milk from cows that are not given engineered hormones, because all milk contains some hormones.
It has sent a flurry of enforcement letters to food makers, including B&G Foods, which was told it could not use the phrase "GMO-free" on its Polaner All Fruit strawberry spread label because GMO refers to genetically modified organisms and strawberries are produce, not organisms.
It told the maker of Spectrum Canola Oil that it could not use a label that included a red circle with a line through it and the words "GMO," saying the symbol suggested that there was something wrong with genetically engineered food. - Ever since the FDA approved the first genetically altered material for use in food in 1992, when Monsanto developed a synthetic hormone injected into cows to increase milk production, the agency has held that it cannot require food producers to label products as genetically engineered.
In the intervening years, the use of genetically engineered crops has skyrocketed; 93 percent of this year's soybean crop is genetically engineered, according to the U.S. Agriculture Department. (Washington Post)
It's a swine mess: Government set to force OAPs to have pig vaccine with flu jab MILLIONS of people will be given a secret swine flu jab by health bosses this winter.
The H1N1 vaccine will be mixed into the regular flu jab for OAPs, pregnant women and others at high risk.
While millions refused to take the jab during last winter's pandemic, this time they will have no choice if they want to be protected against normal flu.
The Government was left with more than 30million swine flu vaccines after the pandemic fizzled out in 2010. (New of the World)
FDA won’t allow food to be labeled free of genetic modification: report 'Extra labeling only confuses the consumer,' biotech spokesman says - That the Food and Drug Administration is opposed to labeling foods that are genetically modified is no surprise anymore, but a report in the Washington Post indicates the FDA won't even allow food producers to label their foods as being free of genetic modification.
In reporting that the FDA will likely not require the labeling of genetically modified salmon if it approves the food product for consumption, the Post's Lyndsey Layton notes that the federal agency "won't let conventional food makers trumpet the fact that their products don't contain genetically modified ingredients." (The Raw Story)
How marijuana became legal: Medical marijuana is giving activists a chance to show how a legitimized pot business can work. Is the end of prohibition upon us? When Irvin Rosenfeld, 56, picks me up at the Fort Lauderdale airport, his SUV reeks of marijuana. The vice president for sales at a local brokerage firm, Rosenfeld has been smoking 10 to 12 marijuana cigarettes a day for 38 years, he says.
That's probably unusual in itself, but what makes Rosenfeld exceptional is that for the past 27 years, he has been copping his weed directly from the United States government.
Every 25 days Rosenfeld goes to a pharmacy and picks up a tin of 300 federally grown and rolled cigarettes that have been sent there for him by the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA), acting with approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
Rosenfeld smokes the marijuana to relieve chronic pain and muscle spasms caused by a rare bone disease. When he was 10, doctors discovered that his skeleton was riddled with more than 200 tumors, due to a condition known as multiple congenital cartilaginous exostosis. Despite seven operations, he still lives with scores of tumors in his bones. (CNN)
Quakers, anti-war rallies on alert list Taxpayer-funded bulletins listed meetings of Tea Partiers, Quakers and Pittsburgh anti-war activists as potential security threats.
A year's worth of bulletins released Friday by the governor's office shows the Institute of Terrorism Research and Response warned state Homeland Security officials about events as far away as the Sinai and as easy to predict as looking at a calendar.
The reports ignited controversy earlier this week when opponents of Marcellus gas drilling learned that gas companies had received the "Pennsylvania Intelligence Bulletin" listing their planned participation in public hearings as part of a warning about potential terrorist threats to public infrastructure. (Pittsburg Tribune-Review)
CDC allegedly falsifies reports--ignoring up to 3,587 Miscarriages from H1N1 Vaccine A shocking report from the National Coalition of Organized Women (NCOW) presented data from two different sources demonstrating that the 2009/10 H1N1 vaccines contributed to an estimated 1,588 miscarriages and stillbirths. A corrected estimate may be as high as 3,587 cases. NCOW also highlights the disturbing fact that the CDC failed to inform their vaccine providers of the incoming data of the reports of suspected H1N1 vaccine related fetal demise.
NCOW collected the data from pregnant women (age 17-45 years) that occurred after they were administered a 2009 A-H1N1 flu vaccine. The raw data is available on the website.
Using the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS), including updates through July 11, 2010 as a second ascertainment source, capture-recapture statistical methods* were used to estimate the true number of miscarriages and stillbirths following A-H1N1 flu vaccination in the U.S. Typically, even so-called "complete" studies conducted by the CDC have been shown to miss from 10% to 90% of the actual cases because of under-reporting. (National Coalition of Organized Women)
Europeans Push Global Tax to Fund Poverty-Reduction, Climate Change Causes A group of 60 nations will meet next week at the United Nations to push for a tax on foreign currency transactions as a way to generate revenue to meet global poverty-reduction goals, including “climate change” mitigation.
Spearheaded by European Union countries, the so-called “innovative financing” proposal envisages a tax of 0.005 percent (five cents per $1,000), which experts estimate could produce more than $30 billion a year worldwide for priority causes. (CNS News)
An alternative to the new wave of ecofascism By liberating humanity from the compulsion to consume, climate catastrophe can be averted without recourse to authoritarianism - It is time to acknowledge that mainstream environmentalism has failed to prevent climate catastrophe. Its refusal to call for an immediate consumption reduction has backfired and its demise has opened the way for a wave of fascist environmentalists who reject democratic freedom.
One well-known example of the authoritarian turn in environmentalism is James Lovelock, the first scientist to discover the presence of ozone-depleting chlorofluorocarbons in the atmosphere. Earlier this year he told the Guardian that democracies are incapable of adequately addressing climate change. "I have a feeling," Lovelock said, "that climate change may be an issue as severe as a war. It may be necessary to put democracy on hold for a while." His words may be disturbing, but other ecologists have gone much further.
Take for example Pentti Linkola, a Finnish fisherman and ecological philosopher. Whereas Lovelock puts his faith in advanced technology, Linkola proposes a turn to fascistic primitivism. Their only point of agreement is on the need to suspend democracy. Linkola has built an environmentalist following by calling for an authoritarian, ecological regime that ruthlessly suppresses consumers. (London Guardian)
U.S. Nuclear Weapons Have Been Compromised by Unidentified Aerial Objects Ex-military men say unknown intruders have monitored and even tampered with American nuclear missiles. Group to call on U.S. Government to reveal the facts - Witness testimony from more than 120 former or retired military personnel points to an ongoing and alarming intervention by unidentified aerial objects at nuclear weapons sites, as recently as 2003. In some cases, several nuclear missiles simultaneously and inexplicably malfunctioned while a disc-shaped object silently hovered nearby. Six former U.S. Air Force officers and one former enlisted man will break their silence about these events at the National Press Club and urge the government to publicly confirm their reality.
One of them, ICBM launch officer Captain Robert Salas, was on duty during one missile disruption incident at Malmstrom Air Force Base and was ordered to never discuss it. Another participant, retired Col. Charles Halt, observed a disc-shaped object directing beams of light down into the RAF Bentwaters airbase in England and heard on the radio that they landed in the nuclear weapons storage area. Both men will provide stunning details about these events, and reveal how the U.S. military responded. (Reuters)
Congress Mulls Stiff Crypto Laws The encryption wars have begun.
For nearly a decade, privacy mavens have been worrying that a terrorist attack could prompt Congress to ban communications-scrambling products that frustrate both police wiretaps and U.S. intelligence agencies.
Tuesday's catastrophe, which shed more blood on American soil than any event since the Civil War, appears to have started that process.
Some politicians and defense hawks are warning that extremists such as Osama bin Laden, who U.S. officials say is a crypto-aficionado and the top suspect in Tuesday's attacks, enjoy unfettered access to privacy-protecting software and hardware that render their communications unintelligible to eavesdroppers.
In a floor speech on Thursday, Sen. Judd Gregg (R-New Hampshire) called for a global prohibition on encryption products without backdoors for government surveillance. (Wired)
Homeland Security to test iris scanners The Homeland Security Department plans to test futuristic iris scan technology that stores digital images of people's eyes in a database and is considered a quicker alternative to fingerprints.
The department will run a two-week test in October of commercially sold iris scanners at a Border Patrol station in McAllen, Texas, where they will be used on illegal immigrants, said Arun Vemury, program manager at the department's Science and Technology branch.
"The test will help us determine how viable this is for potential (department) use in the future," Vemury said.
Iris scanners are little used, but a new generation of cameras that capture images from 6 feet away instead of a few inches has sparked interest from government agencies and financial firms, said Patrick Grother, a National Institute of Standards and Technology computer scientist. The technology also has sparked objections from the American Civil Liberties Union. (USA Today)
County Sues Farmer, Cites Too Many Crops DeKalb County is suing a local farmer for growing too many vegetables, but he said he will fight the charges in the ongoing battle neighbors call “Cabbagegate.”
Fig trees, broccoli and cabbages are among the many greens that line the soil on Steve Miller’s more than two acres in Clarkston, who said he has spent fifteen years growing crops to give away and sell at local farmers markets. (WSBTV)
Cybersecurity bill on list for passage this year Capitol Hill staffers have made progress stitching together cybersecurity proposals into a huge bill, aides said, with Senate leadership putting it on their short list for passage this year.
But stiff industry opposition and partisan tensions still make it unlikely comprehensive legislation will pass in 2010.
The legislation would require companies who sell the government USD 80 billion in hardware and software each year to bake in a certain level of security -- a potentially expensive prospect.
Senate Majority Harry Reid has put the measure on his list of top-priority bills to get through the Senate this year, the sources said.
The bill is a priority because leaps in technology have increased industrial productivity, but also left businesses and the US government vulnerable to foreign spies, such as the 2008 breach of US military computers using a single compromised thumb drive and identity thieves who have stolen untold numbers of consumer credit card numbers. (Reuters)
Family to Receive $1.5M+ in First-Ever Vaccine-Autism Court Award The first court award in a vaccine-autism claim is a big one. CBS News has learned the family of Hannah Poling will receive more than $1.5 million dollars for her life care; lost earnings; and pain and suffering for the first year alone.
In addition to the first year, the family will receive more than $500,000 per year to pay for Hannah's care. Those familiar with the case believe the compensation could easily amount to $20 million over the child's lifetime.
Hannah was described as normal, happy and precocious in her first 18 months.
Then, in July 2000, she was vaccinated against nine diseases in one doctor's visit: measles, mumps, rubella, polio, varicella, diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus, and Haemophilus influenzae. (CBS)
Nine Years After 9/11, Few See Terrorism as Top U.S. Problem: One percent see it as the top problem today, down from 46% in 2001 Nine years after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, 1% of Americans mention terrorism as the most important problem facing the country, down from 46% just after the attacks.Just before the attacks, in a Gallup poll conducted Sept. 7-10, 2001, less than one-half of 1% of Americans mentioned terrorism as the nation's most important problem. One month later, in October 2001, 46% named terrorism, the highest in Gallup's history.
From that point on, terrorism slowly faded as a response to this question. At the one-year anniversary of the attacks, in September 2002, 19% of Americans mentioned terrorism as the country's top problem, already eclipsed by the economy at the top of the list. By the five-year anniversary of the attacks in September 2006, 11% of Americans mentioned terrorism. Terrorism continued to drop from that point, albeit with an uptick to 8% mentions in January of this year, reflecting the widespread news coverage of the "Christmas Day bomber" who allegedly attempted to detonate explosives on a Northwest Airlines plane headed for Detroit. - Despite the drop in top-of-mind mentions of terrorism, Americans still say it is an important issue when they are reminded of it. Gallup recently asked Americans to rate the importance of a number of issues to their vote in this year's midterm elections, and 75% rated terrorism as an extremely or very important issue. Still, Americans rated economic issues such as the economy, jobs, and federal spending, as well as corruption in government and healthcare, even higher. They rated terrorism as more important than immigration, Afghanistan, and the environment.
The Sept. 11 attacks took place during the Republican Bush administration, which soon thereafter launched a "war on terrorism." Republicans have consistently been given more credit than Democrats for handling terrorism over the years since; in an August USA Today/Gallup poll, 55% of Americans say the Republicans in Congress are better able to handle the issue of terrorism, while 31% choose the Democrats. (Gallup)
San Bruno fire residents tell how it started - They all thought it was an airplane.
Freddy Tobar was upstairs in his kitchen getting ready to feed his Chihuahua Chiquita, when he heard popping sounds from under the ground and felt the house shaking.
He looked outside and saw his backyard crumble into the earth. Trees disintegrated into flames.
His first thought was to run outside, but the door was already melting. He pushed through, burned his hands and with his dog in one arm, ran outside with his cell phone and called his wife, Nora Orozco-Tobar. (San Francisco Chronicle)
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