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Ex-CIA chief: Strike on Iran seems more likely now A former CIA director says military action against Iran now seems more likely because no matter what the U.S. does diplomatically, Tehran keeps pushing ahead with its suspected nuclear program.
Michael Hayden, a CIA chief under President George W. Bush, says that during his tenure a strike was "way down the list" of options. But he tells CNN's "State of the Union" that such action now "seems inexorable." (Associated Press)
Letter to the EPA, signed by 21 senators including Jim Inhofe and Tom Coburn We write to convey our continued concerned regarding the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) latest actions in its review of the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) as required every five years under the Clean Air Act. The Second Draft Policy Assessment (PA) for Particulate Matter (PM) released on July 8, 2010 in the Federal Register, if approved, would establish the most stringent and unparalleled regulation of dust in our nation's history. - If approved, would establish the most stringent and unparalleled regulation of dust in our nation's history. - We respect efforts for a clean and healthy environment, but not at the expense of common sense. These identified levels will be extremely burdensome for farmers and livestock producers to attain. Whether its livestock kicking up dust, soybeans being combined on a dry day in the fall, or driving a car down the gravel road, dust is a naturally occurring event. (US Congress)
Oakland Okays Indoor Medical Marijuana Mega-Farms In a marathon session Tuesday night, the Oakland City Council Tuesday approved an historic plan for large-scale indoor marijuana farms, but only after hearing from a cavalcade of medical marijuana patients, growers, and dispensary operators intent on ensuring that small and medium-sized growers are not squeezed out. While the ordinance is aimed at medical marijuana, the council, which has endorsed the Proposition 19 tax and regulate cannabis initiative, clearly sees the potential for tax revenues and jobs under a perhaps not-so-distant marijuana legalization in California.
The council passed a proposal that will authorize city officials to issue permits for four indoor marijuana farms to supply the city's four allowed existing medical marijuana dispensaries. The ordinance sets no size limitations. Some would-be medical marijuana cultivation entrepreneurs have proposed growing operations as large as 100,000 square feet.
Applicants for the four permits would submit proposals to the city. Permit holders would have to pay a $211,000 annual fee, as well as any taxes imposed by the city. The city currently taxes dispensaries at 1.8% and has plans to increase that tax to 8%. The large-scale grows would have a similar tax burden. (Drug War Chronicle)
Tropical Storm Bonnie Forms, Heading for Florida and BP's Gulf Oil Spill Tropical Storm Bonnie has formed south of the Bahamas and is on a track to move across the southern tip of Florida and into the oil-fouled waters of the Gulf of Mexico, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said.
The storm has maximum sustained winds of 40 miles per hour (64 kilometers), and is expected to build strength as it bears down on the Florida Keys tomorrow, according to a special hurricane center advisory issued at 6:15 p.m. Miami time. (Bloomberg)
Virus Attacks Siemens Plant-Control Systems Computer hackers have designed a virus that targets industrial control systems built by German engineering giant Siemens AG, activating a kind of malicious software that analysts say represents a growing corporate-espionage threat.
The virus, dubbed Stuxnet, is spread by devices plugged into USB computer ports. It is programmed to try to steal data from computer systems that are used to monitor large automated plants built for anything from manufacturing to power generation to water treatment. Siemens is one of the world’s largest makers of such industrial automated systems, though it doesn’t break out its annual revenue from such sales. (Wall Street Journal)
Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act "An Act to promote the financial stability of the United States by improving accountability and transparency in the financial system, to end "too big to fail", to protect the American taxpayer by ending bailouts, to protect consumers from abusive financial services practices, and for other purposes." (Wikipedia)
Making the economy more just by Katrina vanden Heuvel - Congress has passed the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, but the task of transforming our economy into one of shared and sustainable prosperity has only just begun. Structural reform will come not through the sweep of a single piece of legislation but with new, innovative economic models that better reflect the democratic values of this country.
The good news is that some of these transformative ideas are already taking root. Here are five ways to build a more just economy that Americans are experimenting with across the country.
The answer is 'B'
Corporations are compelled to pursue a single objective: maximize profit. In fact, a company can be sued for following goals that veer from that statutory obligation.
That's why Maryland State Sen. Jamie Raskin sponsored the Benefit Corporation legislation that was signed into law this spring. It gives businesses the option to register as a "B corporation," an entity legally obligated to maximize both shareholder value and advance a common public purpose such as cleaner air, open space or affordable housing. The B corporation's stated public goal is vigorously monitored by independent, third-party groups. It's a new business model with social consciousness in its DNA.
B corporation legislation has also been passed in Vermont, and it is being considered in New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Oregon, Washington and Colorado. (Washington Post)
Obama Is Preparing to Bomb Iran After about two and a half years during which the danger of war between the United States and Iran was at a relatively low level, this threat is now rapidly increasing. A pattern of political and diplomatic events, military deployments, and media chatter now indicates that Anglo-American ruling circles, acting through the troubled Obama administration, are currently gearing up for a campaign of bombing against Iran, combined with special forces incursions designed to stir up rebellions among the non-Persian nationalities of the Islamic Republic. Naturally, the probability of a new fake Gulf of Tonkin incident or false flag terror attack staged by the Anglo-American war party and attributed to Iran or its proxies is also growing rapidly. (Webster Tarpley)
Hearing: Halliburton warned BP 2 days before blast Halliburton Co. warned BP two days before the deadly Deepwater Horizon accident that it could have a severe problem with natural gas escaping from its Macondo well if it stuck with an existing well plan, according to an internal report that emerged in an investigative hearing Tuesday.
The April 18 report was sent to BP officials on land and on board the Deepwater Horizon and made recommendations about the cement job being used to secure pipe-like casing to the walls of the Macondo well.
A faulty cement job by Halliburton has been cited as a possible factor in the April 20 blowout that killed 11 workers, sank the Deepwater Horizon two days later and launched the worst U.S. oil spill.
The emergence of the report, however, suggests that BP may have ignored warning signs about potentially dangerous conditions in the well in the days leading up the accident. - Questions also arose in the hearing over whether BP should have stopped drilling the Macondo well weeks before the accident when it discovered leaks in the blowout preventer on the seafloor.
One of two control pods on the blowout preventer was leaking hydraulic fluid as of mid-March, but Sepulvado said the leaks did not affect the functioning of the blowout preventer, the last line of defense against loss of well control.
Federal offshore drilling regulations state that if control stations or pods on a blowout preventer don’t function properly, drilling operations should be suspended until they’re fixed. (Houston Chronicle)
Secretary Napolitano Announces Additional Recovery Act-Funded Advanced Imaging Technology Deployments Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano today announced the deployment of American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA)-funded advanced imaging technology (AIT) to 28 additional airports nationwide - strengthening security at airports throughout the nation while creating local jobs.
"As part of the Department’s ongoing efforts to* best protect the traveling public and detect terrorism threats, we continue to deploy state-of-the-art advanced imaging technology across the country," said Secretary Napolitano. "The rapid deployment of this critical technology, made possible by Recovery Act funds, will strengthen security at even more airports nationwide."
"The deployment of advanced imaging technology demonstrates TSA's ongoing commitment to stay ahead of evolving threats to aviation security and protect the traveling public," said TSA Administrator John Pistole. - ARRA, signed into law by President Obama on Feb. 17, 2009, committed more than $3 billion for homeland security projects through DHS and the General Services Administration (GSA). Of the $1 billion allocated to TSA for aviation security projects, $734 million is dedicated to screening checked baggage and $266 million is allocated for checkpoint explosives detection technologies. (Department of Homeland Security)
Bomb-making tips, hit list behind Blogetery closure More details are surfacing about why Blogetery.com, a blogging platform that claimed to service more than 70,000 blogs, was mysteriously booted from the Internet by its Web-hosting company.
The site was shut down after FBI agents informed executives of Burst.net, Blogetery's Web host, late on July 9 that links to al-Qaeda materials were found on Blogetery's servers, Joe Marr, chief technology officer for Burst.net, told CNET. Sources close to the investigation say that included in those materials were the names of American citizens targeted for assassination by al-Qaeda. Messages from Osama bin Laden and other leaders of the terrorist organization, as well as bomb-making tips, were also allegedly found on the server.
But Marr said a Burst.net employee erred in telling Blogetery's operator and members of the media that the FBI had ordered it to terminate Blogetery's service. He said Burst.net did that on its own. (CNet News)
Report: Israel convinces Obama to plan for Iran strike According to a report in Time magazine Israel has managed to convince Washington to put the option of a military strike against Iran's nuclear facilities back on the table.
Israel has long argued that all of the international sanctions against Iran are pointless unless Western powers are prepared to back them up with the threat of force.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been pressing that point since US President Barack Obama pushed through a new package of sanctions at the UN Security Council last month. (Israel Today)
Former BP worker speaks out This young man worked for BP clean up for about a month in late June, 2010. He asked to remain anonymous for fear of prosecution. First-hand witness to beach sharks trying to breath. (James C Fox)
The Middle Class in America Is Radically Shrinking. Here Are the Stats to Prove it The 22 statistics detailed here prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that the middle class is being systematically wiped out of existence in America.
The rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer at a staggering rate. Once upon a time, the United States had the largest and most prosperous middle class in the history of the world, but now that is changing at a blinding pace.
So why are we witnessing such fundamental changes? Well, the globalism and "free trade" that our politicians and business leaders insisted would be so good for us have had some rather nasty side effects. It turns out that they didn't tell us that the "global economy" would mean that middle class American workers would eventually have to directly compete for jobs with people on the other side of the world where there is no minimum wage and very few regulations. The big global corporations have greatly benefited by exploiting third world labor pools over the last several decades, but middle class American workers have increasingly found things to be very tough.
Here are the statistics to prove it... (Business Insider)
NAACP Resolution Calls on Tea Party to Repudiate 'Racist Elements' in Movement The NAACP adopted a resolution Tuesday condemning "racist elements" in the Tea Party movement and calling on the movement's leaders to repudiate bigotry, despite claims from Tea Partiers that the measure is just a political ploy.
The nation's leading civil rights group took up the language at its annual convention in Kansas City, Mo. The resolution initially said the NAACP would "repudiate the racism of the Tea Parties" and stand against the movement's attempt to "push our country back to the pre-civil rights era," though the wording was amended to downplay criticism of all Tea Partiers while asking them to repudiate bigots in their own ranks. (Fox)
Hacking the Electric Grid? You and What Army? Grid-hacking is back in the news, with the unveiling of “Perfect Citizen,” the National Security Agency’s creepily named effort to protect the networks of electrical companies and nuclear power plants.
People have claimed in the past to be able to turn off the internet, there are reports of foreign penetrations into government systems, “proof” of foreign interest in attacking U.S. critical infrastructure based on studies, and concerns about adversary capabilities based on allegations of successful critical infrastructure attacks. Which begs the question: If it’s so easy to turn off the lights using your laptop, how come it doesn’t happen more often?
The fact of the matter is that it isn’t easy to do any of these things. Your average power grid or drinking-water system isn’t analogous to a PC or even to a corporate network. The complexity of such systems, and the use of proprietary operating systems and applications that are not readily available for study by your average hacker, make the development of exploits for any uncovered vulnerabilities much more difficult than using Metasploit.
To start, these systems are rarely connected directly to the public internet. And that makes gaining access to grid-controlling networks a challenge for all but the most dedicated, motivated and skilled — nation-states, in other words. - The fact of the matter is that it isn’t easy to do any of these things. Your average power grid or drinking-water system isn’t analogous to a PC or even to a corporate network. The complexity of such systems, and the use of proprietary operating systems and applications that are not readily available for study by your average hacker, make the development of exploits for any uncovered vulnerabilities much more difficult than using Metasploit.
To start, these systems are rarely connected directly to the public internet. And that makes gaining access to grid-controlling networks a challenge for all but the most dedicated, motivated and skilled — nation-states, in other words. (Wired)
Obama faces growing credibility crisis Robert Gibbs, Barack Obama’s chief spokesman, got into hot water this week for daring to speak the truth – that the Democrats could lose control of the House of Representatives in November. But it could be even worse than that.
Contrary to pretty much every projection until now, Democratic control of the Senate is also starting to coming into question. While Mr Obama’s approval ratings have continued to fall, and now hover at dangerously close to 40 per cent according an ABC-Washington Post poll published on Tuesday, the fate of his former colleagues in the Senate looks even worse. - “The bottom line here is that Americans don’t believe in President Obama’s leadership,” says Rob Shapiro, another former Clinton official and a supporter of Mr Obama. “He has to find some way between now and November of demonstrating that he is a leader who can command confidence and, short of a 9/11 event or an Oklahoma City bombing, I can’t think of how he could do that.”
In private, informal advisors to Mr Obama are almost as negative. According to one, the US public’s loss of confidence in Mr Obama’s leadership is a factor above and beyond their dissatisfaction over the state of the real economy, which continues to slow as last year’s $787bn stimulus starts to run dry. The adviser, who asked to remain anonymous, said the public did not know what Mr Obama really believed. Examples include his lukewarm support last year for a public option in the healthcare bill and his equally lukewarm support today for a Senate bill that would extend unemployment insurance and aid state governments to keep teachers in their jobs. (Financial Times)
Charles S. Robb and Charles Wald: U.S. must be prepared to attack Iran When President Barack Obama signed into law tough, new legislative sanctions against Iran last week, he capped a month of new measures against that country’s nuclear program. Earlier in June, the Obama administration achieved a new round of U.N. Security Council sanctions, and the European Union declared plans to adopt additional sanctions in July. This activity, the culmination of months of negotiations, is welcome. Absent a broader and more robust strategy, however, sanctions alone will prove inadequate to halt Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons. (Madison)
UNCLASSIFIED REPORT ON THE PRESIDENT'S SURVEILLANCE PROGRAM
In the weeks following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the President authorized the National Security Agency (NSA) to conduct a classified program to detect and prevent further attacks in the United States. As part of the NSA's classified program, several different intelligence activities were authorized in Presidential Authorizations, and the details of these activities changed over time. The program was reauthorized by the President approximately every 45 days, with certain modifications. Collectively, the activities carried out under these Authorizations are referred to as the "President's Surveillance Program" or "PSP."l
One of the activities authorized as part of the PSP was the interception of the content of communications into and out of the United States where there was a reasonable basis to conclude that one party to the communication was a member of al-Qa'ida or related terrorist organizations. This aspect of the PSP was publicly acknowledged and described by the President, the Attorney General, and other Administration officials beginning in December 2005 following a series of articles published in The New York Times. The Attorney General subsequently publicly acknowledged the fact that other intelligence activities were also authorized under the same Presidential Authorization, but the details of those activities remain classified. (Offices of Inspectors General of the Department of Defense, Department of Justice, Central Intelligence Agency, National Security Agency, Office of the Director of National Intelligence)
Peter Power admits simultaneous drill The President of Visor Management admits his company was running a simulation for a major London corporation that postulated bombs going off at the exact same time in the exact same places as the bombs actually went off on July 7, 2005. (ITV News)
Dubai Rejects Full-Body Scanners Because They 'Contradict Islam' Dubai airports will not use hi-tech full-body scanners because they "contradict Islam" and violate passengers' privacy, according to reports — even though the scanners can detect terrorist threats like those posed by the Christmas Day bomber.
Neither of Dubai's two airports will use the scanners "out of respect for the privacy of individuals and their personal freedom," the head of airport security for the emirate told Al-Bayan daily, AFP reported.
"The scanners will be replaced with other inspection systems that preserve travelers' privacy," said Dubai police's Brigadier Pilot Ahmad Mohammad Bin Thani, the AFP reported. (Fox)
Oil/Water samples from Gulf...VERY TOXIC Oil and water samples were taken from both the Shores of Grand Isle and from 20 miles out. The preliminary analysis was done at an academic analytical chemistry laboratory. Looking for the likely pollutants from the deep water Horizon Oil spill. It was focused on the detection of benzene and propylene glycol. Benzene and other highly toxic contaminants were very low however the concentration of propylene glycol was between 360 and 440 parts per million. Just 25 parts per million is know to kill most fish and propylene glycol is just one of many ingredients found in Corexit. In short, the Gulf is being poisoned by BP's usage of the dispersants even after the EPA asked them to stop back in May. We are willing to provide ANY respected/known laboratory these samples or provide them with more. This is very serious to all people and marine life in and around the Gulf. (James C Fox)
Web blocks remain one year on for China's Uighurs For Ruzmammat, the Internet is a crucial way of keeping in touch with his Uighur friends in China's Xinjiang region -- a lifeline that was denied to him for 10 months following deadly ethnic riots.
Authorities cut off the web in Xinjiang in the aftermath of violence that erupted a year ago in the regional capital Urumqi between mainly Muslim Uighurs and majority Han Chinese, leaving nearly 200 dead and 1,700 injured. (Agence France-Presse)
Canadian Civil Liberties Group Mulls Lawsuit as Details of Mass Arrests, Unprecedented Powers at G2O Come to Light Riot-police-peace The Canadian Civil Liberties Association says it is looking into suing the Toronto police department following mass arrests at the G20 summit last week. It is now estimated that 1,000 people, including many journalists, were arrested. On Thursday, protest rallies were held in Toronto, Montreal and Winnipeg against the brutal police crackdown. Civil liberties advocates are also up in arms after it emerged that the Toronto police were secretly given new and unprecedented powers of arrest in the lead-up to the G20. We hear from David Vassey, the first person arrested under a new law in Toronto that allowed police to detain anyone near the site of the G20 summit if they failed to identify themselves. (Democracy Now)
Uncle Sam Wants You to Have an Online ID As our daily interactions and transactions have become increasingly “wired,” we have yet to see any truly comprehensive attempts at securing online identities.
Our complex system of usernames and passwords is astoundingly outdated and increasingly prone to security breaches and theft. Yet, so far it has been mostly up to the individual to protect himself against various forms of identity fraud—with larger corporations taking relatively little responsibility.
But this could change in a big way. Right now the federal government is proposing a new system being referred to as the “Identity Ecosystem”—which was highlighted in the recently-released draft paper, “National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace” [NSTIC]. - The bottom line here is that the White House’s proposal depends on businesses voluntarily agreeing to turn the current e-commerce system upside down, incur massive new costs and collaborate with competitors – a dim possibility, to say the least.
Although the White House should be applauded for this idea, it is doubtful that such a voluntary approach is likely to win over the big companies who will end up footing the bill or passing it on to consumers.
The private industry has been trying to enact this type of online assurance model for some time now, and with little success. It is far more likely that the White House will have to work with Congress to legislate this type of a reform. (FOX)
Booz Allen snares $700M FAA NextGen contract: Contractor will assist in transition to new air traffic system Booz Allen Hamilton will assist the Federal Aviation Administration in implementing its Next Generation Air Transportation System under a 10-year contract that has a potential value of more than $700 million.
The contract will support FAA’s evolution to NextGen, which is part of the agency’s efforts to improve safety and bring greater efficiencies to the nation’s airspace system, a June 30 Booz Allen announcement stated.
The contract, which covers NextGen and the current National Airspace System (NAS) infrastructure, calls for a broad range of systems engineering, investment and business case analysis. The contractor also will provide planning, forecasting and business, financial and information management support services. (Washington Technology)
Prices rise as New Zealand passes emissions trading scheme Petrol and power prices have risen sharply in New Zealand after the government introduced a controversial emissions trading scheme. - The government has pressed ahead with plans to slash the nation's carbon output, despite widespread opposition and New Zealand's larger neighbour Australia shelving its own scheme.
Motorists were hit by a 3c (1.4p) rise in the price of a litre of petrol overnight, while householders face a 5 per cent increase in gas and electricity prices.
- Under the scheme, to be fully phased in over several years, companies trade carbon credits known as New Zealand Units (NZUs).
Industries that are net creators of carbon must buy the units from the government or from sellers whose businesses absorb carbon, such as those that plant trees.
The units can be traded internationally with other countries implementing a similar scheme under the Kyoto Protocol. (London Telegraph)
Obama movie debuts in Indonesia A film about US President Barack Obama's childhood days in Indonesia made its debut in Jakarta on Wednesday, promising a very different perspective on the man in the White House.
"Obama Anak Menteng" or "Obama the Menteng Kid", is set in the upscale Jakarta neighbourhood of Menteng, where Obama lived from 1967 to 1971 with his mother and Indonesian stepfather.
Co-director Damien Dematra said it showed the US president in a light that Americans might find strange. - A scene showing Obama, who is a Christian, praying like a Muslim was dropped as it was deemed "too political", Dematra said.
"He was just imitating other kids when they were praying but it didn't mean he wanted to be Muslim. That scene wasn't even shot because I didn't want people to take it out of context and use it against him," he said.
Based on his interviews with Obama's surviving neighbours and friends in the Indonesian capital, Dematra claims the film is "60 percent fact and 40 percent fiction". (Agence France-Presse)
Study links bee decline to cell phones A new study has suggested that cell phone radiation may be contributing to declines in bee populations in some areas of the world.
Bee populations dropped 17 percent in the UK last year, according to the British Bee Association, and nearly 30 percent in the United States says the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Parasitic mites called varroa, agricultural pesticides and the effects of climate change have all been implicated in what has been dubbed "colony collapse disorder" (CCD).
But researchers in India believe cell phones could also be to blame for some of the losses.
In a study at Panjab University in Chandigarh, northern India, researchers fitted cell phones to a hive and powered them up for two fifteen-minute periods each day.
After three months, they found the bees stopped producing honey, egg production by the queen bee halved, and the size of the hive dramatically reduced. (CNN)
When Capitalism Meets Cannabis One of the odder experiments in the recent history of American capitalism is unfolding in the Rockies: the country’s first attempt at fully regulating, licensing and taxing a for-profit marijuana trade, The New York Times’s David Segal writes in a lengthy look at the developing industry. - More than 80,000 people here now have medical marijuana certificates, which are essentially prescriptions, and for months new enrollees have signed up at a rate of roughly 1,000 a day.
As supply met demand, politicians decided that a body of regulations was overdue. The state’s Department of Revenue has spent months conceiving rules for this new industry, ending the reefer-madness phase here in favor of buzz-killing specifics about cultivation, distribution, storage and every other part of the business. (New York Times)
The Coming Gulf Coast Firestorm: How the BP oil catastrophe could destroy a major U.S. city It's hurricane season in the Atlantic, and that means Mother Nature could be whipping up fierce storms and sending them charging into the Gulf Coast any day now. In a normal hurricane season, that's bad enough all by itself... remember Katrina? But now there's something even more worrisome in the recipe: There's oil in the water. - Besides, as any chemist will tell you, the various petrochemicals found in crude oil evaporate even without a storm picking them up! Oil, in other words, does evaporate into the air. Or, more accurately, some of the lighter chemicals in crude oil evaporate even at temperatures of around 100 degrees (F). Those are Gulf Coast temperatures. - Now, these lighter chemicals that more easily evaporate also happen to have lower flash points, meaning they catch on fire more easily and at lower temperatures than other elements in the oil. The flash point for gasoline, for example, is much lower than diesel fuel. That's because gasoline is "more flammable" and is a lighter fuel than diesel. (Natural News)
Burned girl a symbol of Roma hate and hope Natalka Kudrikova is a bright-eyed, three-year-old girl recovering from the severe burns she suffered when far-right extremists threw a Molotov cocktail into her home. - According to the prosecutor, the attack was planned for the 120th anniversary of Adolf Hitler's birth. Court experts confirmed swastikas and other Nazi memorabilia were found in the defendants' homes. (CNN)
Cybersecurity Act of 2010 Passes Senate Committee This year's version of the Cybersecurity Act was approved by the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs after amending it to limit the president's authority in the event of a cyber emergency, reported The Hill.
The bill, sponsored by Sens. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), and Tom Carper (D-Del.), is an update to a bill from last year that was also worked on by Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-West Virginia) and Senator Olympia Snowe (R-Maine). At that time, people were concerned about reports that it would give the President a "kill switch" to shut down the Internet, though the technical details of exactly how a single switch could shut down the Internet were not specified.
"Giving government, especially the president, unprecedented control over America's trunk line of information, over electronic free speech and over business activities simply invites suspicions about whether it would be used politically to frighten people at election time—as did the color-code alerts—and to trample on constitutional rights like the Patriot Act did," wrote the Idaho Mountain Express, noting that Lieberman said he had modeled that aspect of the bill on governmental rights in Communist China. (Daniweb)
Genetically Altered Salmon Get Closer to the Table The Food and Drug Administration is seriously considering whether to approve the first genetically engineered animal that people would eat — salmon that can grow at twice the normal rate. The developer of the salmon has been trying to get approval for a decade. But the company now seems to have submitted most or all of the data the F.D.A. needs to analyze whether the salmon are safe to eat, nutritionally equivalent to other salmon and safe for the environment, according to government and biotechnology industry officials. A public meeting to discuss the salmon may be held as early as this fall.
Some consumer and environmental groups are likely to raise objections to approval. Even within the F.D.A., there has been a debate about whether the salmon should be labeled as genetically engineered (genetically engineered crops are not labeled).
The salmon’s approval would help open a path for companies and academic scientists developing other genetically engineered animals, like cattle resistant to mad cow disease or pigs that could supply healthier bacon. Next in line behind the salmon for possible approval would probably be the “enviropig,” developed at a Canadian university, which has less phosphorus pollution in its manure.
The salmon was developed by a company called AquaBounty Technologies and would be raised in fish farms. It is an Atlantic salmon that contains a growth hormone gene from a Chinook salmon as well as a genetic on-switch from the ocean pout, a distant relative of the salmon. - Virtually all Atlantic salmon now comes from fish farms, not the wild.
The F.D.A. must also decide on the environmental risks from the salmon. Some experts have speculated that fast-growing fish could out-compete wild fish for food or mates.
Mr. Stotish said the salmon would be grown only in inland tanks or other contained facilities, not in ocean pens where they might escape into the wild. And the fish would all be female and sterile, making it impossible for them to mate.
The F.D.A. is expected to hold a public meeting of an advisory committee before deciding whether to approve the salmon. Typically at such advisory committee meetings, much of the data in support of the drug application is made public and there is some time allotted for public comment.
But Gregory Jaffe, biotechnology project director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, said such meetings often do not give the public enough time to analyze the data. (New York Times)
Obama 'Internet kill switch' plan approved by US Senate panel: President could get power to turn off Internet A US Senate committee has approved a wide-ranging cybersecurity bill that some critics have suggested would give the US president the authority to shut down parts of the Internet during a cyberattack.
Senator Joe Lieberman and other bill sponsors have refuted the charges that the Protecting Cyberspace as a National Asset Act gives the president an Internet "kill switch." Instead, the bill puts limits on the powers the president already has to cause "the closing of any facility or stations for wire communication" in a time of war, as described in the Communications Act of 1934, they said in a breakdown of the bill published on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee website. (Tech World)
Obama internet 'kill switch' bill approved The US senators pushing a controversial new bill that some fear would give President Barack Obama the powers to seize control of and even shut down the internet have rejected claims it would give Obama a net "kill switch".
The bill, titled Protecting Cyberspace as a National Asset Act, has been unanimously approved by the US Homeland Security committee and will be put to a vote on the Senate floor shortly.
Lobby groups and academics quickly rounded on the bill, which seeks to grant the President broad emergency powers over the internet in times of national emergency.
Any internet firms and providers must "immediately comply with any emergency measure or action developed" by a new section of the US Department of Homeland Security, dubbed the "National Centre for Cybersecurity and Communications". (Sydney Morning Herald)
Bond Hatch Introduce Cyber Security Bill - U.S. Senators Kit Bond (R-MO) and Orrin Hatch (R-UT) today introduced legislation to protect our nation from the silent threat that could devastate our country--cyber attacks.
“After the failed Christmas Day and Times Square attacks, every American is aware of the threat from a terrorist with a bomb, which could take out a city block or bring down an airplane, but there is a silent threat that could devastate our entire nation--cyber attacks,” said Bond, the Vice Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee. “Our enemies won’t wait for us to do our homework, solve our turf battles, or modernize our laws before using our networks as a deadly weapon; in fact, the attacks have already started. We don’t have another day to waste, and our bill is the best solution to address this threat.” - The legislation Bond and Hatch introduced today, the National Cyber Infrastructure Protection Act of 2010, will put our nation on the right path to securing our networks. The bill is based on three principles: first, Congress must set lanes in the road to protect our nation’s cyber security, but leave flexibility for the private sector and Government to adapt to changing threats. Next, there must be one person who has real authority to coordinate our cyber security efforts across the federal government. The Bond-Hatch bill puts an end to the current authority gap and designates a Senate-confirmed individual, who is accountable to both Congress and the American people and reports directly to the President, to coordinate these efforts. Learning from past Congressional failures, the Senators’ bill gives the new Cyber Director the clout needed to do the job, including clear input into cyber budgets across all federal agencies.
Third, the Bond-Hatch bill creates a voluntary, public-private partnership, the Cyber Defense Alliance, to facilitate the flow of information about cyber threats and the latest technologies between the private sector and government. The Senators pointed out that since the private sector is often on the front lines of cyber attacks, encouraging their sharing of information with the government—and the government’s sharing of information with them—will make all our networks more secure. (Kit Bond)
DISCLOSE Act: House Passes Major Campaign Finance Legislation The final vote was 219 to 206 in favor of the DISCLOSE Act, with only two Republicans -- Rep. Mike Castle (R-Del.) and Joseph Cao (R-La.) -- crossing party lines. The bill would provide tough new disclosure rules for groups that invest in the election process. In addition to forcing all 501c4 groups to stand by the ads they sponsor during elections (with the CEO of the organization literally forced to appear in the spot), the law would also require groups that met certain criteria to reveal who was funding their election activity.
The latter provision sparked intense pushback from a host of business groups, led by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. House Democratic leadership had granted an exemption from that particular element of disclosure for the NRA. But after fierce objection to the carve out, the bill's author, Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), expanded the loophole to include other organizations as well.
The legislation was pulled from consideration late last week when passage became uncertain. House leadership made impassioned pleas to their colleagues on Thursday morning (see below) before heading to the floor this afternoon to finally vote. (Huffington Post)
Senate Homeland Security Committee approves cybersecurity legislation The Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs approved a comprehensive cybersecurity bill on Thursday after amending it to limit the president's authority in the event of a cyber emergency.
The bill, co-sponsored by Sens. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Tom Carper (D-Del.) would make the Department of Homeland Security responsible for protecting civilian networks in the government and private sector. The bill will now head to the full Senate for a vote, where it will likely be merged with other competing pieces of cybersecurity legislation.
"These cyber attacks are increasingly more sophisticated, more persistent and more successful," Carper said. "In short -- the status quo is simply not enough."
The original bill gave the president indefinite emergency authority to shut down private sector or government networks in the event of a cyber attack capable of causing massive damage or loss of life. An amendment passed Thursday limits that authority further, requiring the president to get Congressional approval after controlling a network for 120 days. (The Hill)
Storm clouds in the Caribbean Chances that a stormy region in the Caribbean will get organized and strengthen to tropical storm force appear to be growing today. The National Hurricane Center gives the weather in the region a 40 percent chance of becoming a tropical cyclone in the next two days, up from near zero a few days ago.
For now, it's still a rather disorganized patch of thunderstorms affecting portions of Hispaniola, Jamaica and Cuba, as well as the Cayman Islands. But ...
"Upper-level winds are expected to become more conducive for deverlopment of this system as it moves westward or west-northwestward around 10 mph over the next couple of days," the NHC said. "There is a medium chance (40 percent) of this system becoming a tropoical cyclone during the next 48 hours." (Baltimore Sun)
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