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Letter to Bennie G. Thompson Chairman Committee on Homeland Security U.S. House of Representatives, from Gale D. Rossides, Acting Administrator of the TSA Thank you for your letter of January 21, 2010, regarding the privacy concerns that the Committee on Homeland Security has raised about the capability of Advanced Imaging Technology (AIT) to store, print, record, and export images.
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is committed to providing world class security while preserving privacy in our security programs. The AIT program meets this commitment through TSA's screening protocol that ensures complete anonymity for passengers undergoing AIT scans. TSA has not deviated from these operational protocols, which were first published in a Privacy Impact Assessment (PIA) in January 2008 before any devices in the AIT pilot went' into operation. That PIA, and every PIA update since, states, "[w]hile the equipment has the capability of collecting and storing an image, the image storage functions will be disabled by the manufacturer before the devices are placed in an airport and will not have the capability to be activated by operators." (Transportation Security Administration)
Airport `Naked Image' Scanners May Get Privacy Upgrades Holli Powell, a Phoenix medical- software consultant who flies every week, says she avoids getting into airport security lines that end at what she calls a humiliating full-body scanner.
“Those scanners, I feel, are above and beyond,” Powell, 35, said in an interview. They generate “nearly naked images.”
The concerns of travelers such as Powell, which led privacy advocates to sue the government, may soon be eased. L-3 Communications Holdings Inc. and OSI Systems Inc.’s Rapiscan, makers of the scanners for U.S. airports, are delivering software upgrades that show a generic figure rather than an actual image of a passenger’s body parts. The new display would mark sections of a person’s body that need to be checked. (Bloomberg)
Who Ignored the Facts About the Electric Car? by Dave Barthmuss. The film EV Confidential: Who Killed the Electric Car? showcased the intense passion for GM's out-of-production EV1 electric vehicle. I understand why. It was great technology for its day, a great concept and a great car. GM was and is proud to have brought the electric vehicle concept as far as it did and further than any other electric vehicle project attempted by any other automaker around the globe. Sadly, despite the substantial investment of money and the enthusiastic fervor of a relatively small number of EV1 drivers - including the filmmaker - the EV1 proved far from a viable commercial success.
But the story for GM does not end with the final credits on the movie. I've been the person who has spent the last few years answering the questions of why GM discontinued the program. Although I have not seen the movie or received an advanced DVD as others have from the film's producers, I can tell you that based on what I have heard there may be some information that the movie did not tell its viewers. The good news for electric car enthusiasts is that although the EV1 program did not continue, both the technology and the GM engineers who developed it did. In fact, the technology is very much alive, has been improved and carried forward into the next generation of low-emission and zero-emission vehicles that are either on the road, in development or just coming off the production line. (General Motors)
6 OPEC Nations Agree To Reduce Their Oil Prices Saudi Arabia said today that it and five other members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries had agreed to a reduction in the price of Saudi Light crude, which determines the price that other OPEC members charge for their oil. The Saudi Arabian oil minister, Sheik Ahmed Zaki Yamani, warned the other seven members of OPEC that if they did not accept the planned price cut -believed to be $4 a barrel - the six stood ready to slash prices further. If the OPEC nations, which produce about a third of the world's oil, fail to coordinate their prices, recent reductions by Britain, Norway and Nigeria could set off a price war, aggravating economic uncertainty and jeopardizing bank loans to the poorer oil exporters. (New York Times)
A road trip to the White House to reinstall Jimmy Carter's dream It’s been almost a generation since solar panels President Carter installed on the White House roof were removed during renovations. Now, a group of climate activists armed with one of the original panels are on a road trip to the White House to get President Obama to put them back up.
UPDATE, 9/11, from Bill McKibben: "I just walked out of a disappointing meeting with the White House: they refused to accept the Carter solar panel we came to Washington to deliver and said that they would continue their "deliberative process" to discuss putting solar panels back on the White House roof." - The panels, which were used to heat water for the White House staff eating area, were a symbol of a new solar strategy that Carter said was going to "move our nation toward true energy security and abundant, readily available energy supplies."
But in 1986, President Ronald Reagan took the solar panels down when the White House roof was being repaired. They were never reinstalled.
In 1990, the panels were retrieved from government storage and brought to the environmentally-minded Unity College about an hour southeast of Bangor, Maine. There, with help from Academy Award winning actress Glenn Close, the panels were refurbished and used to heat water in the cafeteria until 2005. (Boston Globe)
2003 State of the Union speech
Thank you very much.
Mr. Speaker, Vice President Cheney, Members of Congress, distinguished citizens, and fellow citizens: Every year, by law and by custom, we meet here to consider the state of the union. This year, we gather in this chamber deeply aware of decisive days that lie ahead.
You and I serve our country in a time of great consequence. During this session of Congress, we have the duty to reform domestic programs vital to our country and we have the opportunity to save millions of lives abroad from a terrible disease. We will work for a prosperity that is broadly shared and we will answer every danger and every enemy that threatens the American people. In all these days of promise and days of reckoning, we can be confident. In a whirlwind of change, and hope, and peril, our faith is sure, our resolve is firm, and our union is strong. - Our third goal is to promote energy independence for our country, while dramatically improving the environment. I have sent you a comprehensive energy plan to promote energy efficiency and conservation, to develop cleaner technology, and to produce more energy at home. I have sent you Clear Skies legislation that mandates a 70 percent cut in air pollution from power plants over the next 15 years. I have sent you a Healthy Forests Initiative, to help prevent the catastrophic fires that devastate communities, kill wildlife, and burn away millions of acres of treasured forest.
I urge you to pass these measures, for the good of both our environment and our economy. Even more, I ask you to take a crucial step, and protect our environment in ways that generations before us could not have imagined. In this century, the greatest environmental progress will come about, not through endless lawsuits or command and control regulations, but through technology and innovation. Tonight I am proposing 1.2 billion dollars in research funding so that America can lead the world in developing clean, hydrogen-powered automobiles. A simple chemical reaction between hydrogen and oxygen generates energy, which can be used to power a car -- producing only water, not exhaust fumes. With a new national commitment, our scientists and engineers will overcome obstacles to taking these cars from laboratory to showroom -- so that the first car driven by a child born today could be powered by hydrogen, and pollution-free. Join me in this important innovation -- to make our air significantly cleaner, and our country much less dependent on foreign sources of energy. Our fourth goal is to apply the compassion of America to the deepest problems of America. For so many in our country -- the homeless, the fatherless, the addicted -- the need is great. Yet there is power -- wonder-working power -- in the goodness, and idealism, and faith of the American people. (George W Bush)
State of California Air Resources Board -- STAFF REPORT: INITIAL STATEMENT OF RULEMAKING -- PROPOSED AMENDMENTS TO THE ZERO-EMISSION VEHICLE REQUIREMENTS FOR PASSENGER CARS AND LIGHT-DUTY TRUCKS The Low-Emission Vehicle (LEV) regulations, adopted by the California Air Resources Board (“ARB” or “Board”) in 1990, are a critical element of California’s plan to meet federal and state health-based ambient air quality standards. The zero- emission vehicle (ZEV) requirement is an integral part of the LEV program and is intended to secure increasing air quality benefits for California over the long-term. Under the ZEV regulation, beginning in 1998 two percent of the vehicles produced and delivered for sale in California by the seven largest auto manufacturers must be ZEVs. That percentage increases to five percent in 2001 and ten percent in 2003.
When the ZEV requirement was adopted the Board acknowledged that many ZEV-related issues, including questions regarding the cost of developing the technology necessary to produce ZEVs and the marketability of these new vehicles, would have to be addressed prior to the 1998 implementation date. The Board committed to biennial reviews of the LEV program, including the ZEV requirement, to provide a forum for answering these questions. Thus as the Board took this bold step forward, there was a clear recognition that it might be necessary to make interim course adjustments to find the best and surest track to the ultimate destination -- cleaner air for California.
The proposal in this report is the result of the third biennial review of the LEV program. In preparation for this review, the ARB held a series of public forums during 1995 to solicit comments on virtually all aspects of the ZEV requirement, and retained an independent panel of experts to report on the readiness of electric vehicle battery technology for the 1998 model year implementation.
Based on the results of the review process, the staff proposes amendments to the LEV regulations to eliminate the percentage ZEV requirements through the 2002 model year. This proposal is intended to preserve, not abandon the ZEV program. In fact several manufacturers have indicated that they will introduce ZEVs for sale in California by 1998. By suspending the percentage requirements for five years, staff seeks to capitalize on these efforts and ensure the successful launch of a sustainable ZEV market that will provide air quality benefits in California through 2010 and beyond. The current ten percent ZEV production requirement in the 2003 model year would remain unchanged. Staff has concluded that this action will not have a long- term adverse economic impact on California.
The staff further recommends the ARB enter into memoranda of agreement, or MOAs, with each of the seven major automakers subject to pre-2003 ZEV requirements. The MOAs formalize the automakers’ enforceable commitments to introduce low-emission vehicles nationwide in 2001, three years earlier than could be required under federal law. The emission reductions associated with this commitment will offset the emission reductions associated with the 1998-2002 ZEV requirements plus a premium, ensuring California’s commitments under the state implementation plan.
The MOAs also formalize the manufacturers commitment to participate in a Technology Development Partnership. Under the MOAs the automakers will carry out demonstration projects designed to validate advanced technology batteries consistent with the recommendations of the battery panel and will continue funding of ZEV- related technology research and development. (California Air Resources Board)
Nissan R'nessa is a station wagon manufactured by Nissan from 1997 to 2001. According to Nissan, the name derives from "packaging renaissance for versatile, spacious comfort on wheels."
It was produced by Nissan from October 1997 to July 2001, and competed with the Toyota Opa and the Honda Avancier. Powering the 2WD models was the SR20DE engine, The X and G models with a 4WD specification were fitted with the KA24DE engine. The GT Turbo model came with the SR20DET engine and was AWD.
 Nissan Altra
The R'nessa was also equipped with a magnet neodymium 62 kW electric motor and run on lithium ion batteries manufactured by Sony and used for testing in California, and had a range of 230 km (140 mi) between a charging interval of 5 hours, and a charge-discharge cycle over 1,000 times. The batteries were installed beneath the floor.
The Nissan Altra was an electric car produced by Nissan Motors between 1998 and 2002. The Nissan Altra was introduced at the Los Angeles International Auto Show on 29 December 1997. Nissan described the Altra as a combination of a sedan, SUV, and minivan. It was mainly used as a fleet vehicle for companies such as electric utilities. Only about 200 vehicles were ever produced. It used the bodystyle of the Nissan R'nessa.
Technologically, the Altra was significant as being the first production electric vehicle to use a lithium-ion battery (li-ion) battery. Nissan called this a third-generation battery (after lead acid and nickel metal hydride) and chose li-ion primarily for its power density. It was managed by a passive system, ensuring the batteries never reach charge levels outside their recommended zones. The Altra had a permanent magnet synchronous motor, controlled by a 32-bit reduced instruction set computer computer processor. It had other more typical features, such as keyless entry, power mirrors and windows, a 4-wheel anti-lock braking system, and regenerative braking. According to Nissan, the Altra had a maximum range of 120 miles (190 km). The Environmental Protection Agency reported that the 2000 version had an adjusted mileage (miles per equivalent of a gasoline gallon) of 117 mpg-US (2.01 L/100 km; 141 mpg-imp) the city, and 130 mpg-US (1.8 L/100 km; 160 mpg-imp) on the highway. (Wikipedia)
Ford Ranger EV is a battery electric vehicle produced by Ford Motor Company. It was produced starting in the 1998 model year through 2002 and is no longer in production. It is built upon a light truck chassis used in the Ford Ranger. A few vehicles with lead-acid batteries were sold, but most units were leased for fleet use. A few persistent and interested private parties were able to obtain leases over a period of three to five years. All leases were terminated in 2003-04, and the vehicles were recalled. (Wikipedia)
Toyota RAV4 EV was an all-electric version of the popular RAV4 SUV produced by Toyota. It was leased from 1997 to 2003, and at the lessees request, many units were sold after the vehicle was discontinued. As of 2010 there are 800 units still in use. In July 2010 Toyota announced that is working together with Tesla Motors to develop a second generation RAV4 EV, and the companies expect the vehicle to be mass produced by 2012.
The first fleet version of the RAV4 EV became available on a limited basis in 1997. In 2001 it was possible for businesses, cities or utilities to lease one or two of these cars. Toyota then actually sold or leased 328 RAV4 EVs to the general public in 2003, at which time the program was terminated despite waiting lists of prospective customers.
The RAV4 EV closely resembles the regular internal combustion engine (ICE) version-without a tailpipe-and has a governed top speed of 78 mph (~126 km/h) with a range of 100 to 120 miles (160 to 190 km). The 95 amp-hour NiMH battery pack has a capacity of 27 kWh, charges inductively and has proven to be surprisingly durable. Some RAV4 EVs have achieved over 150,000 miles (240,000 km) on the original battery pack. It was also one of the few vehicles with a single speed automatic transmission at that time.
Besides the batteries, controller and motor, the remaining systems in the RAV4 EV are comparable to the gas-powered RAV4, such as power brakes, power steering, air conditioning, tire wear and suspension components except for the power sources involved. The power brakes use an electric pump to provide vacuum instead of deriving vacuum from the engine manifold while the power steering and air conditioning systems use electric motors instead of mechanical energy delivered by fan belts. The passenger compartment heater is electrical. (Wikipedia)
Ford TH!NK The Ford TH!NK was a line of electric vehicles produced by the TH!NK Mobility, then an enterprise of Ford Motor Company. The short-lived line included four models: the TH!NK Neighbor and the TH!NK City, small electric automobiles, and the TH!NK Bike Traveler and the TH!NK Bike Fun, electric-powered motorized bicycle. The TH!NK line suffered from recalls and poor sales and was cancelled in 2002. Ford sold its stock, and the resulting company, Think Global, continues to produce electric cars in Norway. (Wikipedia)
Honda EV Plus was the first battery electric vehicle from a major automaker with non-lead acid batteries. Roughly 340 EV Plus models were produced and released. The EV Plus was taken out of production in 1999 when Honda announced the release of its first hybrid electric vehicle, the Honda Insight. The EV Plus was made to meet California Air Resources Board requirements for zero-emission vehicles, the same as General Motors' new EV1. It served as a test bed for the pancake-style motor, electronic control unit, power control unit and NiMh battery later used in Honda hybrids and developed further in the first FCX Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles made from returned EV PLUS chassis.
The EV Plus featured on-board conductive charging with the Avcon connector, passive battery balancing, regenerative braking and deceleration, AC/heat-pump climate control, HID headlights, 4 seats, and electrically heated windshield. Units deployed in cold climates also had oil-fired heaters for faster cabin heating and passenger comfort. As with virtually all vehicles, range was affected by driving style: rapid acceleration, high speeds, and fast stops lowered the range significantly. EPA rated at 125 miles (240 km), careful driving would give it a range of just over 100 miles (160 km). The EV Plus came with a 12 V battery for running normal 12 volt accessories and lighting. (Wikipedia)
Who Killed the Electric Car? s a 2006 documentary film that explores the creation, limited commercialization, and subsequent destruction of the battery electric vehicle in the United States, specifically the General Motors EV1 of the mid 1990s. The film explores the roles of automobile manufacturers, the oil industry, the US government, the Californian government, batteries, hydrogen vehicles, and consumers in limiting the development and adoption of this technology.
It was released on DVD to the home video market on November 14, 2006 by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.
During an interview with CBS News, director Chris Paine announced that he would be making a sequel: Who Saved the Electric Car?, later renamed Revenge of the Electric Car. (Wikipedia)
General Motors EV1 was an electric car produced and leased by the General Motors Corporation from 1996 to 1999. It was the first mass-produced and purpose-designed electric vehicle of the modern era from a major automaker, and the first GM car designed to be an electric vehicle from the outset. The decision to mass-produce an electric car came after GM received a favorable reception for its 1990 Impact electric concept car, upon which the design of the EV1 drew heavily. Inspired partly by the Impact's perceived potential for success, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) subsequently passed a mandate that made the production and sale of zero-emission vehicles a requirement for the seven major automakers selling cars in the United States to continue to market their vehicles in California. The EV1 was made available through limited lease-only agreements, initially to residents of the cities of Los Angeles, California and Phoenix and Tucson, Arizona. EV1 lessees were officially participants in a "real-world engineering evaluation" and market study into the feasibility of producing and marketing a commuter electric vehicle in select U.S. markets undertaken by GM's Advanced Technology Vehicles group. The cars were not available for purchase, and could be serviced only at designated Saturn dealerships. Within a year of the EV1's release, leasing programs were also launched in San Francisco and Sacramento, California, along with a limited program in the state of Georgia.
While customer reaction to the EV1 was positive, GM believed that electric cars occupied an unprofitable niche of the automobile market as they were only able to lease 800 units in face of production costs of US$1 billion over four years. An alliance of the major automakers litigated the CARB regulation in court, resulting in a slackening of the ZEV stipulation, permitting the companies to produce super-low-emissions vehicles, natural gas vehicles, and hybrid cars in place of pure electrics. The EV1 program was subsequently discontinued in 2002, and all cars on the road were repossessed. Lessees were not given the option to purchase their cars from GM, which cited parts, service, and liability regulations. The majority of the repossessed EV1s were crushed, and the rest delivered to museums and educational institutes with their electric powertrains deactivated, under the agreement that the cars were not to be reactivated and driven on the road.
The EV1's discontinuation remains controversial, with electric car enthusiasts, environmental interest groups and former EV1 lessees accusing GM of self-sabotaging its electric car program to avoid potential losses in spare parts sales (sales forced by government regulations), while also blaming the oil industry for conspiring to keep electric cars off the road. (Wikipedia)
The California Zero-Emission Vehicle Mandate: A Study of the Policy Process, 1990-2004 The Zero-Emission Vehicle (ZEV) mandate, one of the most daring environmental policies related to transportation, was implemented in September, 1990, by the California Air Resources Board (CARB). It originally required that, starting in 1998, 2% of the in- state new light duty vehicle sales of major automakers had no emissions of criteria pollutants. The required ZEV percentage would be increased to 5% in 2001 and to 10% in 2003. CARB organized biennial reviews of the programs, to elicit stakeholder participation and monitor the evolution of the program. Through this review schedule, the program underwent several revisions resulting from intense policy debates.
This dissertation research is concerned with the study of the policy process over the ZEV mandate, from its conception, through its inception, and the biennial reviews, until 2004. The study is structured as three core chapters. The first chapter studies the origin of the ZEV mandate, trying to understand the conditions that favored and the factors that resulted in its implementation. To guide the study in this chapter, I use the Multiple Streams theoretical framework. The second chapter presents an empirical study of the policy process during the biennial reviews. This study aims at understanding the dynamics of policy change and coalition stability, identifying the policy dimensions that dominated the debate over time. I use the Advocacy Coalition Framework to frame the study in this chapter theoretically. The third core chapter presents a theoretical study of the strategic policy behavior of the main actors in the policy process. I develop a game- theoretical model of an environmental regulator (CARB) that needs to set emission standards in the presence of multiple industry players (automakers), who in turn need to
decide on their level of compliance in the presence of a competitor. The model presented improves over previous published work in the subject.
The results of these studies yield numerous conclusions with both theoretical and practical implications. I find that Multiple Streams is useful to understand the origin of the ZEV mandate, while I identify and/or confirm arguments by other scholars about significant limitations in the framework. Through the analysis of the public testimonies given by stakeholders at the biennial reviews, I identify the policy areas of major concern at different points in time along the policy process. I also identify the policy positions of each stakeholder and obtain estimates of the groups of stakeholders with similar policy beliefs (belief coalitions.) I find that these belief coalitions show some stability over time, though less than what was found by previous studies. One of the major conclusions from the model of strategic behavior is that the competitiveness of the auto industry tends to preclude collusion. The regulator may use this industry competitiveness to its advantage and achieve higher social benefits. (University of California)
Smog Season Ends With 41 Stage 1 Alerts--a Low Total
Environment: Mild summer contributes to cleaner air. Numbers have dropped 47% since 1988. - Tying 1990 for the cleanest skies on record, Southern California's smog season ends today with 41 smog alerts--continuing a decade-long trend of slow, steady improvement in the nation's most polluted area.
Much of the decline in 1992 is a testimonial to the summer's mild weather, especially in June and early July. Many of the Stage 1 health alerts for ozone in the Los Angeles Basin were congregated during an unusual bout of summery conditions in late April. (Los Angeles Times)
Electric Car 1890s to 1900s: Early history Before the pre-eminence of internal combustion engines, electric automobiles held many speed and distance records. Among the most notable of these records was the breaking of the 100 km/h (62 mph) speed barrier, by Camille Jenatzy on April 29, 1899 in his 'rocket-shaped' vehicle Jamais Contente, which reached a top speed of 105.88 km/h (65.79 mph). Before the 1920s, electric automobiles were competing with petroleum-fueled cars for urban use of a quality service car.
In 1897, electric vehicles found their first commercial application in the U.S. as a fleet of electrical New York City taxis, built by the Electric Carriage and Wagon Company of Philadelphia. Electric cars were produced in the US by Anthony Electric, Baker, Columbia, Anderson, Edison [disambiguation needed], Studebaker, Riker, Milburn, and others during the early 20th century.
The low range of electric cars meant they could not make use of the new highways to travel between cities
Despite their relatively slow speed, electric vehicles had a number of advantages over their early-1900s competitors. They did not have the vibration, smell, and noise associated with gasoline cars. They did not require gear changes, which for gasoline cars was the most difficult part of driving. Electric cars found popularity among well-heeled customers who used them as city cars, where their limited range proved to be even less of a disadvantage. The cars were also preferred because they did not require a manual effort to start, as did gasoline cars which featured a hand crank to start the engine. Electric cars were often marketed as suitable vehicles for women drivers due to this ease of operation.
In 1911, the New York Times stated that the electric car has long been recognized as "ideal" because it was cleaner, quieter and much more economical than gasoline-powered cars. Reporting this in 2010, the Washington Post commented that "the same unreliability of electric car batteries that flummoxed Thomas Edison persists today."
Acceptance of electric cars was initially hampered by a lack of power infrastructure, but by 1912, many homes were wired for electricity, enabling a surge in the popularity of the cars. At the turn of the century, 40 percent of American automobiles were powered by steam, 38 percent by electricity, and 22 percent by gasoline. 33,842 electric cars were registered in the United States, and the United States of America became the country where electric cars had gained the most acceptance. Sales of electric cars peaked in 1912.
Proposed as early as 1896 in order to overcome the lack of recharging infrastructure, a exchangeable battery service was first put into practice by Hartford Electric Light Company for electric trucks. The vehicle owner purchased the vehicle from General Electric Company (GVC) without a battery and the electricity was purchased from Hartford Electric through an exchangeable battery. The owner paid a variable per-mile charge and a monthly service fee to cover maintenance and storage of the truck. The service was provided between 1910 to 1924 and during that period covered more than 6 million miles. Beginning in 1917 a similar service was operated in Chicago for owners of Milburn Light Electric cars who also could buy the vehicle without the batteries. (Wikipedia)
Random Pat-Downs Turn PATCO Into Police State: Commuters' clothing, pockets, bags and vehicles to be randomly searched Commuters who ride PATCO trains between southern New Jersey and Philadelphia should expect random searches of their clothing, pockets, bags and vehicles on their morning trip to work.
Twelve Transportation Security Administration screeners, armed with an explosive-sniffing K-9, checked 663 commuter bags randomly selected from the morning rush at the Lindenwold station Tuesday.
"It was chaotic," Kevin Greczyn, an accountant from Magnolia who commutes to Philadelphia daily, told the Courier Post. "Nobody was sure what was happening, whether it was safe to get on the train, or whether we were carrying something we shouldn't be.” (NBC)
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)
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)
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)
Extremist Web Sites Are Using U.S. Hosts: Ease and Anonymity Draw Taliban, al-Qaeda On March 25, a Taliban Web site claiming to be the voice of the "Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan" boasted of a deadly new attack on coalition forces in that country. Four soldiers were killed in an ambush, the site claimed, and the "mujahideen took the weapons and ammunition as booty."
Most remarkable about the message was how it was delivered. The words were the Taliban's, but they were flashed around the globe by an American-owned firm located in a leafy corner of downtown Houston.
The Texas company, a Web-hosting outfit called ThePlanet, says it simply rented cyberspace to the group and had no clue about its Taliban connections. For more than a year, the militant group used the site to rally its followers and keep a running tally of suicide bombings, rocket attacks and raids against U.S. and allied troops. The cost of the service: roughly $70 a month, payable by credit card. (Washington Post)
Al-Qaida Web site was hosted in Phoenix A Web site used by al-Qaida to recruit car bombers, encourage war on the West and provide a forum for Islamic militants went online from Phoenix this week.
The site, a well-known and popular forum for Islamic terrorists and their sympathizers, was the first to report the death of senior al-Qaida leader Abu Laith al-Libi in Pakistan this week.
The north Phoenix company hosting the site took it down Wednesday, just hours after being contacted by The Arizona Republic.
The Web site, www.ek-is.org, facilitates discussions on weapons, explosives and propaganda and often serves as a question-and-answer center for terrorists, a review of the Web site shows.
Bob Cichon, president of Phoenix-based CrystalTech Web Hosting Inc., said he was unaware of the site's content when his company posted it earlier this week. He said his company, which hosts thousands of Web sites, has no association with extremists or terrorists.
(The Arizona Republic)
Al Qaeda websites present growing threat, FBI's Mueller warns Al Qaeda, once limited to areas surrounding Afghanistan, may be using the Internet to recruit and radicalize, FBI Director Robert Mueller testified Wednesday before a House Appropriations subcommittee. - The United States faces an expanding array of Al Qaeda-related threats that extend far beyond the lawless regions of southwest Asia and into the US itself via radical Islamist websites, FBI Director Robert Mueller told a House Appropriations subcommittee on Wednesday.
“For those in the intelligence community there has been a shift in the degree of concern about affiliates of Al Qaeda growing in strength and presenting a much enhanced threat to the United States,” the Federal Bureau of Investigation director said. (Christian Science Monitor)
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)
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)
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)
Pentagon says military response to cyber attack possible The Pentagon would consider a military response in the case of a cyber attack against the United States, a US defense official said on Wednesday.
Asked about the possibility of using military force after a cyber assault, James Miller, undersecretary of defense for policy, said: "Yes, we need to think about the potential for responses that are not limited to the cyber domain."
But he said it remained unclear what constituted an act of war in cyberspace.
"Those are legal questions that we are attempting to address," Miller said at a conference in Washington, adding that "there are certainly a lot of grey areas in this field." (Agence France-Presse)
Cyber Attacks Test Pentagon, Allies and Foes Cyber espionage has surged against governments and companies around the world in the past year, and cyber attacks have become a staple of conflict among states.
U.S. military and civilian networks are probed thousands of times a day, and the systems of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization headquarters are attacked at least 100 times a day, according to Anders Fogh Rasmussen, NATO's secretary-general. "It's no exaggeration to say that cyber attacks have become a new form of permanent, low-level warfare," he said.
More than 100 countries are currently trying to break into U.S. networks, defense officials say. China and Russia are home to the greatest concentration of attacks.
The Pentagon's Cyber Command is scheduled to be up and running next month, but much of the rest of the U.S. government is lagging behind, debating the responsibilities of different agencies, cyber-security experts say. The White House is considering whether the Pentagon needs more authority to help fend off cyber attacks within the U.S. (Wall Street Journal)
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)
Carper: 2008 Cyber Attack Underscores U.S. Vulnerabilities A key member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee said Thursday that the recent revelation that the U.S. military was the victim of a major cyber attack in 2008 underscores the need to better secure all federal government and civilian computer systems.
The comments from Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., a senior member of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, comes a day after Deputy Defense Secretary William Lynn III revealed details from the 2008 attack in an article published online Wednesday in Foreign Affairs magazine. In the article, Lynn confirmed that the U.S. military was the victim of "the most significant breach of U.S. military computers ever" in 2008 when an infected USB drive was inserted into a U.S. military laptop at a Middle East base.
"This latest revelation underscores the scary reality of how vulnerable we really are to cyber criminals, terrorists, and nation-states seeking to use technology to steal from us or do us harm," Carper said. (National Journal)
Internet2 home page About: Internet2 is the foremost U.S. advanced networking consortium. Led by the research and education community since 1996, Internet2 promotes the missions of its members by providing both leading-edge network capabilities and unique partnership opportunities that together facilitate the development, deployment and use of revolutionary Internet technologies.
By bringing research and academia together with technology leaders from industry, government and the international community, Internet2 promotes collaboration and innovation that has a fundamental impact on the future of the Internet. (Internet2)
Beware of Governments Trumpeting Terror Threats Fans of the movie Men in Black will be smirking quietly at the European terror plot story currently circulating.
According to reports attributed to security forces, al Qaeda affiliated groups have been planning Mumbai-style commando attacks in western Europe - and only strikes using unmanned U.S. drones in the lawless tribal areas of Pakistan have derailed those attacks by targeting the terror cells which have been planning them. The Mumbai attacks, organized by a terror group in Pakistan, killed more than 170 people in 2008. (CBS)
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)
Google's Deep CIA Connections The western media is currently full of articles on Google's 'threat to quit China' over internet censorship issues, and the company's 'suspicion' that the Chinese government was behind attempts to 'break-in' to several Google email accounts used by 'Chinese dissidents'.
However, the media has almost completely failed to report that Google's surface concern over 'human rights' in China is belied by its their deep involvement with some of the worst human rights abuses on the planet:
Google is, in fact, is a key participant in U.S. military and CIA intelligence operations involving torture; subversion of foreign governments; illegal wars of aggression; and military occupations of countries which have never attacked the U.S. and which have cost hundreds of thousands of lives in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, and elsewhere. (Pravda)
Watchdog group wants federal investigation of Google Street View flap A prominent civil liberties watchdog has added its voice to those calling for a federal investigation of Google following the company's recent admission of privacy violations related to its "Street View" product.
The nonprofit Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) sent a letter to Federal Communications Commission chairman Julius Genachowski last week requesting an investigation of privacy issues arising from "Street View," which provides "360 degree street level imagery" of U.S. cities.
"The company routinely and secretly downloaded user communications data and the company routinely and secretly mapped private communication hotspots. Moreover, they said not a word about the Wi-Fi data collection during the three-year privacy debate over Street View," wrote Marc Rotenberg, executive director of EPIC. "This is why the FCC must undertake an investigation." (The Hill)
Gwyneth Paltrow, Elisabeth Murdoch heart Barack Another name on the host committee? Former Washingtonian Julia Moffett. Moffett, daugther of former congressman Toby Moffett, rings a bell to D.C.'ers as remember the NYT story from 2002 about the Markle Foundation, where she used to work? (Politico)
Rupert Murdoch Loves Hillary Clinton: Conservative Media Mogul To Host Fundraiser For Liberal N.Y. Senator To call them a political odd couple would be a rash understatement.
Conservative media mogul Rupert Murdoch will host a fundraiser for liberal New York Sen. Hillary Clinton, the Financial Times reports.
The mating ritual of the unlikely allies has been under way for months. Clinton set political tongues to wagging last month by attending a Washington party celebrating the 10th anniversary of Fox News, the cable news channel owned by Murdoch.
The Financial Times quoted one unnamed source as describing the Clinton-Murdoch connection in this way: "They have a respectful and cordial relationship. He has respect for the work she has done on behalf of New York. I wouldn't say it was illustrative of a close ongoing relationship. It is not like they are dining out together." (CBS)
Murdoch fund-raiser for Clinton creates buzz: Outrage, confusion in political circles over media mogul’s decision Media mogul Rupert Murdoch, whose Fox News Channel and other conservative news outlets have been skewering Hillary Rodham Clinton for years, will host a summer fund-raiser for the senator, mystifying some observers and enraging others.
Especially incensed are liberal activists, who for months have decried what they see as a shift to a right on Clinton’s part as the Democrat contemplates a run for president in 2008. They are stunned that she is associating with a man viewed as a cornerstone of the “vast right-wing conspiracy,” a term Clinton herself employed. (Associated Press)
EcoSnoop A Mission for Change -
EcoSnoop's mission is to help our communities heighten awareness of opportunities to be more green, save energy, eco hypocrisy, and even fill pot holes. Leveraging the power of the community, EcoSnoops use their an iPhone to capture clear pictures of a problem and post these pictures on a community website so that building owners and others can take action. Have you ever.....
Seen lights left on in a building, late at night, for no good purpose?
Noticed a door that never closes properly, wasting heat or air conditioning?
Observed a truck unnecessarily idling at a loading dock?
Been bothered by a broken sprinkler in a city park running non stop?
Complained about street lights left on all day?
Wanted a pot hole filled?
EcoSnoop lets you help solve these problems. EcoSnoop is a photo driven "Trouble Ticket" system, letting you identify a problem while leveraging the community to find a fix. The EcoSnoop website is a tool for awareness and understanding efficency. By using the EcoSnoop iPhone application, the user becomes an important link in the chain of many helping to discover and mediate waste (energy, pollution, etc.) in government buildings and our community.
EcoSnoop is Not Big Brother -
EcoSnoop is not about picking sides in the environmental or climate change debate. EcoSnoop frankely has no idea if man made CO2 is the source of climate change. EcoSnoop helps identify opportunities for making improvements that help companies and communities reduce cost, waste and inefficiency. McKinsey Consulting has identified Energy Efficiency as the best and cheapest form of energy. Energy Efficiency often pays back quickly, putting cash into our pockets. Just as many people did not know what to use a personal computer for in the early 80's, so to do many people not realize how much energy can be saved in their daily life.
For those that fell strongly that climate change is man made, EcoSnoop offers the least costly method for reducing carbon emission - Energy Efficiency. For those that believe dependence on foreign sources of energy puts a nations security at risk, EcoSnoop offers the least costly method for reducing dependency on foreign sources - Energy Efficiency.
Don't use EcoSnoop to tattle on your neighbor, thats a dumb and offensive idea. We will remove any EcoSnoop content that appears to personally address an individuals behavior or focuses explicitly on a residence. (EcoSnoop)
Snap Scouts: Crowd Sourcing Crime Prevention
Want to earn tons of cool badges and prizes while competing with you friends to see who can be the best American? Download the SnapScouts app for your Android phone (iPhone app coming soon) and get started patrolling your neighborhood.
It's up to you to keep America safe! If you see something suspicious, Snap it! If you see someone who doesn't belong, Snap it! Not sure if someone or something is suspicious? Snap it anyway!
Play with your friends and family to see who can get the best prizes. Join the SnapScouts today! - SnapScout Features:
* Colorful interface and sounds makes reporting a potential crime fun and easy!
* Submit reports anonymously to stay safe and secure!
* Help law enforcement collect evidence in real-time!
* Collect a variety of awards and badges to compare with friends!
* Makes civic duty and community fun!
* Coming soon: Multi-crime tagging to catch more crimes at once!
Third Party Rising by Thomas Friedman - A friend in the U.S. military sent me an e-mail last week with a quote from the historian Lewis Mumford’s book, “The Condition of Man,” about the development of civilization. Mumford was describing Rome’s decline: “Everyone aimed at security: no one accepted responsibility. What was plainly lacking, long before the barbarian invasions had done their work, long before economic dislocations became serious, was an inner go. Rome’s life was now an imitation of life: a mere holding on. Security was the watchword — as if life knew any other stability than through constant change, or any form of security except through a constant willingness to take risks.”
It was one of those history passages that echo so loudly in the present that it sends a shiver down my spine — way, way too close for comfort.
I’ve just spent a week in Silicon Valley, talking with technologists from Apple, Twitter, LinkedIn, Intel, Cisco and SRI and can definitively report that this region has not lost its “inner go.” But in talks here and elsewhere I continue to be astounded by the level of disgust with Washington, D.C., and our two-party system — so much so that I am ready to hazard a prediction: Barring a transformation of the Democratic and Republican Parties, there is going to be a serious third party candidate in 2012, with a serious political movement behind him or her — one definitely big enough to impact the election’s outcome. (New York Times)
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)
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)
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