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Did market manipulation cause Wall Street ‘flash crash?’ The Securities and Exchange Commission is keeping a close eye on a stock market practice that may violate rules against market manipulation, the Wall Street Journal reported yesterday. The practice, called quote stuffing, happens when stock exchanges are flooded and, at times, clogged by huge numbers of buy and sell orders orders that are ultimately cancelled.
Regulators are trying to determine if traders are using rapid-fire computerized trading systems to cause the inundation by design, purposefully gumming up the exchanges and giving traders an information advantage on small price movements in stocks.
The Journal reported that the SEC is investigating whether quote stuffing may have been one of the causes of the May 6 flash crash, when the Dow briefly plunged 1,000 points in a matter of minutes.
To get an idea of the volume of quotes produced by high-speed, computerized trading, consider this: During the day of the flash crash, there were hundreds of times that a single stock had over 1,000 quotes from one exchange in a single second, according to Nanex, a ticker of quotes and trades. (The Raw Story)
Group Attacks Google Privacy, Schmidt with Times Square Ad Just in time for the holiday weekend, a California-based consumer group has purchased space on a Times Square jumbotron to display a video that attacks Google chief executive Eric Schmidt and his company's privacy policies.
The effort is part of Consumer Watchdog's "Don't Track Me" campaign, which is pushing Congress to pass legislation that would create a list of consumers who do not want Internet companies tracking their online activities – much like the "do not call" list bans unsolicited telemarketing calls.
"We're satirizing Schmidt in the most highly-trafficked public square in the nation to make the public aware of how out of touch Schmidt and Google are when it comes to our privacy rights," Jamie Court, president of Consumer Watchdog, said in a statement. (PC Mag)
I am happy that truth has come out: Pachauri Cleared of financial wrongdoing, R K Pachauri, who heads the Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change, is weighing reforms put forth by a UN-ordered probe.
You have emerged unscathed out of the accusations about your role as chairman of the IPCC... - Anything in the UN probe report you completely or partly disagree with?
They have talked about quantifying uncertainties. To some extent, we are doing that, though not perfectly. But the issue is that in some cases, you really don't have a quantitative base by which you can attach a probability or a level of uncertainty that defines things in quantitative terms. And there, let's not take away the importance of expert judgment. And that is something the report has missed or at least not pointed out. (Times of India)
Worries about US data on Iraqis: Privacy advocates, those scanned fear misuse if files shared Over the past seven years, US soldiers in Iraq have used sweeping wartime powers to collect fingerprints, iris scans, and even DNA from ordinary people and suspected insurgents, an effort that has helped the Pentagon amass one of the world’s most comprehensive databases of biometric information collected during a war.
As the war draws down, however, the collection of so much personal information has raised questions about how data gathered during wartime should be used during times of peace, and with whom that information should be shared. - Nearly 7 percent of Iraq’s 29 million people are cataloged — their names, facial scans, and often other details about them, such as whether they were considered a friend or foe. Now, US officials are debating about how much of the powerful data should be shared with Iraq and how much Iraq’s own troubled security forces should be encouraged to continue collecting information.
Some Iraqis fear that the transfer of data to their government could create a “hit list’’ of Iraqis who worked with the US military or a tool for settling ethnic or sectarian scores.
“Those people, they trusted the US government and worked with them,’’ said Naseer Nouri, 52, who helps run an organization to assist Iraqi refugees in adjusting to life in the United States. - Today, the Pentagon’s database, which is kept separate from the FBI files, contains information on some 4 million people from around the world, about 40 percent of whom are Iraqis. Officials would not divulge from where the rest of the information was gathered.
US forces started collecting fingerprints in Iraq during the 2003 invasion, as part of interrogations of agents of Saddam Hussein’s regime. The US military also helped computerize Iraq’s fingerprint files from Hussein’s era. US soldiers reportedly collected fingerprints and DNA samples from 80,000 detainees in their custody. (It is not clear how those samples have been used.) (Boston Globe)
Most prisoners come from few neighborhoods ‘Incarceration hot spots’ inculcate a vicious brand of hopelessness - Crime rates have dropped in the United States over the past 15 years, yet prison populations have soared. The U.S. incarceration rate now exceeds that of other industrialized nations by five times or more, with almost 2.3 million people behind bars and another 5 million on parole or probation.
A major reason for this apparent paradox has gone largely ignored, according to Harvard University sociologist Robert Sampson. Certain disadvantaged sections of cities have acted as incarceration hot spots in the midst of a general downturn in crime, Sampson reported at a press conference August 16 at the American Sociological Association’s annual meeting.
Ballooning incarceration rates in these poor, predominantly black neighborhoods, especially among young men, create a sense of collective cynicism and fatalism that fuels further misconduct and imprisonment, Sampson said. He and sociology graduate student Charles Loeffler of Harvard describe their findings, based on surveys and crime-data analyses of Chicago neighborhoods, in the summer Daedalus. That issue contains research and essays inspired by an American Academy of Arts and Sciences task force on mass incarceration.
“Mass incarceration in the United States has a deep local concentration in relatively few disadvantaged communities,” Sampson asserted. (Science News)
Feds admit storing checkpoint body scan images For the last few years, federal agencies have defended body scanning by insisting that all images will be discarded as soon as they're viewed. The Transportation Security Administration claimed last summer, for instance, that "scanned images cannot be stored or recorded."
Now it turns out that some police agencies are storing the controversial images after all. The U.S. Marshals Service admitted this week that it had surreptitiously saved tens of thousands of images recorded with a millimeter wave system at the security checkpoint of a single Florida courthouse.
This follows an earlier disclosure (PDF) by the TSA that it requires all airport body scanners it purchases to be able to store and transmit images for "testing, training, and evaluation purposes." The agency says, however, that those capabilities are not normally activated when the devices are installed at airports.
Body scanners penetrate clothing to provide a highly detailed image so accurate that critics have likened it to a virtual strip search. Technologies vary, with millimeter wave systems capturing fuzzier images, and backscatter X-ray machines able to show precise anatomical detail. The U.S. government likes the idea because body scanners can detect concealed weapons better than traditional magnetometers. (CNet News)
U.S. says UAE BlackBerry ban sets dangerous precedent The United States said it was disappointed that the United Arab Emirates planned to cut off key BlackBerry services, noting that the Gulf nation was setting a dangerous precedent in limiting freedom of information.
"We are committed to promoting the free flow of information," said State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley. "We think it's integral to an innovative economy."
The UAE said over the weekend that it would suspend Research In Motion's BlackBerry Messenger, email and Web browser services from October 11 until the government could get access to encrypted messages.
Crowley said the United States was seeking additional information from the UAE about its security concerns, but urged the country to allow BlackBerry services to aid the free flow of information.
"It's about what we think is an important element of democracy, human rights and freedom of information and the flow of information in the 21st century," Crowley said, adding that the United States makes the same argument to Iran and China. (Reuters)
United Arab Emirates to block key features on BlackBerrys Citing national security concerns, the United Arab Emirates said Sunday that it will block key features on BlackBerry smartphones because the devices operate beyond the government's ability to monitor. An official in neighboring Saudi Arabia indicated that it will follow suit.
The decision could prevent hundreds of thousands of users in the UAE from accessing e-mail and the Web on their devices starting Oct. 11, putting the Middle Eastern federation's reputation as a business-friendly commercial and tourism hub at risk.
BlackBerry transmissions are encrypted and routed overseas, and the measure could be motivated in part by government fears that the messaging system might be exploited by terrorists or other criminals who cannot be monitored by local authorities.
However, analysts and activists also see it as an attempt to more tightly control the flow of information in the conservative country, a U.S. ally that is home to the Persian Gulf business capital Dubai and the oil-rich emirate of Abu Dhabi. (Washington Post)
Flu jab linked to fits in under fives: officials GPs have been told not to use a particular flu jab on 110,000 children under five after it was linked with a tenfold increase in fits, it can be revealed. - Doctors should stock alternative vaccines for under fives who are due to have the seasonal flu vaccine this winter, a letter from the head of immunisation at the Department of Health has said.
The action is being taken as rate of convulsions caused by high fever among children in Australia given the jab was ten times higher than normal.
Up to one in 100 children given the jab, made in Australia by CSL and marketed in the UK by Pfizer, suffered febrile convulsions in the following hours and days.
It is not known what is causing the problem and no other flu vaccines have been linked to an increased risk of fits. Adults given the vaccine do not appear to have been affected.
Children under five are only routinely vaccinated against seasonal flu if they are in designated 'risk groups' because they have chronic asthma, have been admitted to hospital with a respiratory infection previously or have other long-term conditions which means they would be particularly badly affected if they caught flu.
9/11 responders aid bill nears vote in House The House is nearing a vote on a bill that would pay billions of dollars to people exposed to toxic World Trade Center dust in the Sept. 11 attacks.
The House on Wednesday is expected to take up the measure, sponsored by New York Democrat Carolyn Maloney, to provide health care for more of the 9/11 first responders and others sickened by toxins emanating from the ruins of the World Trade Center. (Associated Press)
House GOP leaders: 9/11 first responders aid bill 'a massive new entitlement program' House Republican leadership is advising its members to vote against a bipartisan bill that would, among other things, bolster medical support to Sept. 11 victims.
The James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act of 2009, sponsored by Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.), would provide medical monitoring to those exposed to toxins at ground zero, bolster treatment at specialized centers for those afflicted by toxins on Sept. 11 and reopen a compensation fund to provide for the economic loss of victims.
And it’s all paid for by closing a tax loophole on foreign companies with U.S. subsidiaries, Democrats said.
But according to Republicans, it’s a job-killing growth of government that would create a new entitlement and waste taxpayer dollars. (Politico)
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)
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)
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)
Senators introduce bill that would allow US to disconnect the Internet en. Joe Lieberman (I-CT), along with one Republican and Democratic senator, introduced a bill late last week that would allow the President to effectively disconnect the internet by emergency decree.
The Protecting Cyberspace as a National Asset Act would allow the President to disconnect Internet networks and force private websites to comply with broad cybersecurity measures.
Future US presidents would have their Internet "kill switch" powers renewed indefinitely.
The bill was introduced by Lieberman, Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) and Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE). A parallel bill was drafted last year by Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) and Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME) which would allow the federal government to unilaterally "order the disconnection" of certain websites. (The Raw Story)
We Are Change Austria's Natascha Koch: Forced Psychotherapy Yesterday, as we have learned this afternoon, Swiss-Austrian blogger Natascha Koch was lured to the local police station under false pretenses and then carried off to the Sigmund Freud Psychiatry Clinic in Graz where she is now being held prisoner without any consent. - She was advised not to deal with „such things“, and that even research about Jan van Helsing would be taboo. She was told that she had major perception problems and was offered pharmaceutical drugs on multiple occasions.
NATASCHA KOCH NEEDS OUR HELP!
We ask our fellow freedom lovers who are located around Graz to become ACTIVE and DEMAND HER IMMEDIATE RELEASE!
Natascha Koch is currently held on Station P22, Room 11 against her will! The repressive actions against her were initiated by a woman named Dr. Beisser. We ask all Austrians who stand up FOR freedom of expression and AGAINST forced psychotherapy to inform the press and television stations!!! (We Are Change)
Tucker Trumps Trilats Trilateral Commission (TC) members, angry over their failure to establish a world government and the economic crisis they generated, called for war with Iran when they gathered behind closed doors here in Dublin, Ireland May 7-10.
War plans were revealed by Mikhail Slobodovsici, a chief adviser to the Russian leadership, when he strolled off the grounds of the Four Seasons resort, where TC had hunkered down behind armed guards and locked doors. He thought he was talking to a TC colleague when speaking with Alan Keenan, who operates the web site WeAreChange.org.
“We are deciding the future of the world,” Slobodovsici said. “We need a world government,” he said, but, referring to Iran, said “we need to get rid of them.”
Clearly, it was a TC war call. Many of the TC’s billionaires and millionaires are heavily invested in manufacturing, and wars produce huge profits. (American Free Press)
Cyberwar Cassandras Get $400 Million in Conflict Cash Coincidences sure are funny things. Booz Allen Hamilton — the defense contractor that’s become synonymous with the idea that the U.S. is getting its ass kicked in an ongoing cyberwar — has racked up more than $400 million worth of deals in the past six weeks to help the Defense Department fight that digital conflict. Strange how that worked out, huh?
Everyone in the Pentagon from Defense Secretary Bob Gates on down says that the military needs to cut its reliance on outside contractors. But few firms are as well-connected as Booz Allen, the one-time management consultancy that today pulls in more than $2.7 billion in government work. And few firms sound the alarm as loudly about a crisis that they’re in the business of fixing. Back in February, for instance, former National Security Agency director and Booz Allen Hamilton executive vice president Mike McConnell declared that “the United States is fighting a cyber-war today, and we are losing.” The White House’s information security czar is one of many experts who calls such rhetoric overheated, at best. That hasn’t stopped Booz Allen from pocketing hundreds of millions of dollars from Washington to wage those battles. (Wired)
Matthews: Obama Needs to 'Nationalize' Oil Industry! On Monday's Hardball a visibly angry Matthews demanded Obama go after BP: "Why doesn't the President go in there, nationalize an industry and get the job done for the people?" and pointed out that in China they would have a much harsher response to BP: "They execute people for this. Major industrial leaders that commit crimes like this." Matthews even took aim at the entire capitalist system, as over video of the oil slick, he sarcastically mocked: "Everybody says 'Capitalism is great. Unbridled free enterprise is great.' Look at it! This is great, isn't it?!" (News Busters)
Earth 'entering new age of geological time' The Earth has entered a new age of geological time – the epoch of new man, scientists claim. -
A new working group of experts has now been established to gather all the evidence which would support recognising it as the successor to the current Holocene epoch.
It will consider changes human activities have brought to Earth’s biodiversity and rock structure as well as the impact of factors including pollution and mineral extraction.
- They conclude: “The Anthropocene represents a new phase in the history of both humankind and of the Earth, when natural forces and human forces became intertwined, so that the fate of one determines the fate of the other. Geologically, this is a remarkable episode in the history of this planet.”
Dr Jan Zalasiewicz, of the University of Leicester, co-author of the paper, added: “It is suggested that we are in the train of producing a catastrophic mass extinction to rival the five previous great losses of species and organisms in Earth’s geological past.” (London Telegraph)
UN report: World's biggest cities merging into 'mega-regions' Trend towards 'endless cities' could significantly affect population and wealth in the next 50 years - The largest of these, says the report - launched today at the World Urban Forum in Rio de Janeiro - is the Hong Kong-Shenhzen-Guangzhou region in China, home to about 120 million people. Other mega-regions have formed in Japan and Brazil and are developing in India, west Africa and elsewhere.
The trend helped the world pass a tipping point in the last year, with more than half the world's people now living in cities.
The UN said that urbanisation is now "unstoppable". Anna Tibaijuka, outgoing director of UN-Habitat, said: "Just over half the world now lives in cities but by 2050, over 70% of the world will be urban dwellers. By then, only 14% of people in rich countries will live outside cities, and 33% in poor countries."
The development of mega-regions is regarded as generally positive, said the report's co-author Eduardo Lopez Moreno: "They [mega-regions], rather than countries, are now driving wealth." - In a sample survey of world cities, the UN found the most unequal were in South Africa. Johannesburg was the least equal in the world, only marginally ahead of East London, Bloemfontein, and Pretoria.
Latin American, Asian and African cities were generally more equal, but mainly because they were uniformly poor, with a high level of slums and little sanitation. Some of the most the most egalitarian cities were found to be Dhaka and Chittagong in Bangladesh.
The US emerged as one of the most unequal societies with cities like New York, Chicago and Washington less equal than places like Brazzaville in Congo-Brazzaville, Managua in Nicaragua and Davao City in the Phillippines. (London Guardian)
Drudge Report accused of serving malware, again For the second time in less than six months, visitors to the Drudge Report say they got malware in addition to the Web site's usual sensational headlines.
Matt Drudge denied that his site was infecting visitors, however it's likely that the malware is coming from ads delivered by a third-party ad network and not the site itself.
"I can personally vouch for disinfecting my mom's desktop yesterday after visiting this Web page, even taking a screenshot after beginning remedial steps to address the attempted infection," a CNET reader wrote in an e-mail early on Tuesday. "I'm an IT professional in South Carolina so I know and understand the technology involved."
The screenshot the reader provided to CNET shows a pop-up warning the viewer that the system is infected with malware and looks like a typical fake antivirus warning that criminals use to scare people into paying for software they don't need.
The reader, who asked to remain anonymous, said he did not know exactly where on the site his mother had clicked before the fake warning appeared. (CNet News)
Sen. Inhofe: Basis for Senate's Ban on Drudge Report Was Bogus, We Encourage People to Visit Drudge Sen. Jim Inhofe (R.-Okla.) said there was no evidence that the Drudge Report had been responsible for viruses appearing on Senate computers and said he was encouraging people to read the Drudge Report. - “We would encourage people to continue to use Drudge. That’s a great source,” Sen. Jim Inhofe (R.-Okla.) told CNSNews.com Tuesday after his staff on the Environment and Public Works Committee received an email informing them that the Senate Sergeant at Arms believed the Drudge Report and whitepages.com had been responsible for infecting Senate computers with viruses and advising Senate personnel not to visit the Web sites.
When CNSNews.com asked Inhofe if there was any evidence that a virus had gotten into Senate computers as a result of people visiting Drudge, Inhofe said: “None, whatsoever.” Inhofe is the ranking Republican member of the Environment and Public Works Committee. (CNS News)
A Guide to the 9/11 Whistleblowers When losing a discussion on the facts of 9/11, a so-called 9/11 "debunker" will often rely on an old canard to "prove" that 9/11 could not have been an inside job: "So many people want their quarter hour of fame that even the Men in Black couldn't squelch the squealers from spilling the beans," write self-satisfied defenders of the government story. According to the logic of this argument, if there are no 9/11 whistleblowers then 9/11 was not an inside job.
So what if there are 9/11 whistleblowers? What if these whistleblowers come from every level of government and private industry, individuals who have even had their cases vindicated by internal government reports? As you are about to see, there are numerous such whistleblowers and each one is a thorn in the side of those who want to pretend that the 9/11 Commission represents the sum total of knowledge on the 9/11 attacks.
That is precisely why these whistleblowers are not lauded by legislators or trumpeted by the media, but actively suppressed by government officials and the corporate media alike. These courageous insiders have been sidelined, gagged, hounded from their positions and ignored to the point where their stories are virtually unknown among the general public. And that is exactly why it is vital for the alternative media to make these stories known by bypassing the filters and control of the establishment media. (Corbett Report)
Airway Injury Plaguing 9/11 First Responders New research suggests that airway injuries account for the asthma that has afflicted many New York City Fire Department rescue workers who were exposed to dust from the World Trade Center collapse.
The dust appears to be causing symptoms similar to those seen in decades past in miners exposed to toxins, said Dr. Michael D. Weiden, a New York City fire department medical officer and lead author of the new study on the lung problems of the 9/11 rescue workers.
“You usually think people get an injury and they heal,” he said. “In this case, they continued to have symptoms and present for medical attention for a long time after a relatively brief exposure. It shows that the irritation caused ongoing inflammation which affected the airways of these people.”
Experts estimate that as many as 40,000 people breathed noxious pollution, including dust, in the wake of the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001. Protective masks weren’t always immediately available for first responders. (Health.com)
Details of “Einstein” Cyber Shield Disclosed by White House The Obama administration lifted the veil Tuesday on a highly-secretive set of policies to defend the U.S. from cyber attacks.
It was an open secret that the National Security Agency was bolstering a Homeland Security program to detect and respond to cyber attacks on government systems, but a summary of that program declassified Tuesday provides more details of NSA’s role in a Homeland program known as Einstein.
The current version of the program is widely seen as providing meager protection against attack, but a new version being built will be more robust–largely because it’s rooted in NSA technology. The program is designed to look for indicators of cyber attacks by digging into all Internet communications, including the contents of emails, according to the declassified summary.
Homeland Security will then strip out identifying information and pass along data on new threats to NSA. It will also use threat information from NSA to better identify emerging cyber attacks. (Wall Street Journal)
Mainstream Media Questions Inaccuracies in 9/11 Story: The Washington Times publishes story questioning official account. The mainstream press is showing interest in a taboo, however glaring subject; the inconsistencies in the Bush White House 9/11 account.
As The Washington Times reports today, "A lingering technical question about the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks still haunts some, and it has political implications: How did 200,000 tons of steel disintegrate and drop in 11 seconds? A thousand architects and engineers want to know, and are calling on Congress to order a new investigation into the destruction of the Twin Towers and Building 7 at the World Trade Center."
The problems with the official federal stories are endless and according to some of the world's top minds, the suggested account is impossible.
When we first began to write about these seemingly pressing questions, our Web Designer Matt Lintz caught the U.S. Air Force attempting to hack into Salem-News.com.
One person who has never let the matter fade away is Richard Gage. He's a San Francisco architect and founder of the nonprofit Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth.
Gage told The Washington Times, "In order to bring down this kind of mass in such a short period of time, the material must have been artificially, exploded outwards."
The federal government wants you to believe that fires brought the buildings to the ground, yet in all recorded history, no fire has ever toppled a skyscraper. They burn to the framework but they don't fall down. (Salem News)
Poland Says “No” to H1N1 Vaccine Of the world’s 193 recognized sovereign states, only Poland refused the H1N1 vaccine because of safety fears and distrust of the pharmaceutical companies producing the injections. The decision by Prime Minister Donald Tusk and Health Minister Ewa Kopacz had broad public support, even though Poland has reported 145 deaths from H1N1 flu as of mid-January. Poles saw the vaccine rejection as a praiseworthy act of defiance against pharmaceutical manufacturers, a sentiment bolstered by a growing anti-vaccine movement.
“We are making this decision only in the interest of the Polish patient and the taxpayer,” Tusk said. “We will not take part because it’s not honest and it’s not safe for the patient.” The anti-vaccine movement claims that the H1N1 inoculation is untested or contains unsafe ingredients, such as the preservative thimerosal. The World Health Organization disagrees and points out that more than 150 million people in 40 nations have been vaccinated and suffered no abnormal or dangerous reactions. (Alter Group)
Opinion: Deep Oil, Deep Power and Deep Pockets Is oil running out or not and is Peak Oil a true phenomenon? In this article I examine the dubious reasons for the promotion of The Peak Oil myth and the interplay between power, profit and money. - Evidence for the Russia Oil Formation Theory also abounds. Off the coast of New Orleans -- in the South Eugene oil fields is an example. Several of these wells -- in 300 ft of water -- were found to be refilling themselves with oil. Further investigation showed that they were refilling from below and not from the sides or above. (Digital Journal)
And now for Amazongate The IPCC also made false predictions on the Amazon rain forests, referenced to a non peer-reviewed paper produced by an advocacy group working with the WWF. This time though, the claim made is not even supported by the report and seems to be a complete fabrication. - Thus, the IPCC is relying for its assertions that "up to 40% of the Amazonian forests could react drastically to even a slight reduction in precipitation" on a free-lance journalist/activist and a specialist in policy and analysis relating to forest fires in Australia, Asia and South Africa. At least, though, Andy Rowell need not fear being misquoted by a journalist. He is a journalist.
But then, it appears, it is not another journalist that either need fear, but the IPCC. The assertions attributed to them, that "up to 40% of the Amazonian forests could react drastically to even a slight reduction in precipitation" is nowhere to be found in their report. - In all, then, the IPCC claim is a fabrication, unsupported even by the reference it gives, which it should not in any event have used as it is not a primary source. The significance of this cannot be understated. (EUReferendum)
FARC’s Cocaine Sales to Mexico Cartels Prove Too Rich to Subdue Mexican drug cartels are getting cocaine from Colombia’s biggest guerrilla group in a deal that increases the security threat to both nations, according to a document captured by Colombian military intelligence and to a government official in that country.
The agreement was discussed in a meeting between a leader of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, Raul Reyes, and an agent of a Mexican cartel at Reyes’s jungle hideout in mid- 2007, according to a letter Reyes wrote to other guerrilla commanders that was obtained by Bloomberg News.
The pact to bypass middlemen has given Reyes’s group, known as the FARC, an opportunity to double its profit by selling directly to the Mexican cartel, said the government official, who spoke on condition of anonymity. The FARC earned at least $1 billion and maybe several times that amount in the past year, according to officials familiar with the group. The arrangement has strengthened the cartels at a time when they are under pressure from an offensive ordered by Mexican President Felipe Calderon, the Colombian official said. (Bloomberg)
Source: Terror suspect's father tried to warn authorities The father -- identified by a family source as Umaru Abdul Mutallab -- contacted the U.S. Embassy "a few weeks ago" saying his son, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, had "become radicalized," the senior administration official, who is familiar with the case, told CNN. - Abdulmutallab was granted a multiple-year, multiple-entry tourist visa at the U.S. Embassy in London in June 2008, the administration official said. He was a student in London at the time, and there was "no derogatory information that would have prevented him from getting a visa," the official said. (CNN)
What Is Living and What Is Dead in Social Democracy? The twentieth-century narrative of the progressive state rested precariously upon the conceit that “we”—reformers, socialists, radicals—had History on our side: that our projects, in the words of the late Bernard Williams, were “being cheered on by the universe.”3 Today, we have no such reassuring story to tell. We have just survived a century of doctrines purporting with alarming confidence to say what the state should do and to remind individuals—forcibly if necessary—that the state knows what is good for them. We cannot return to all that. So if we are to “think the state” once more, we had better begin with a sense of its limits. (New York Review of Books)
The world's first cocaine bar Route 36 has turned La Paz, Bolivia into a hotspot for drug tourism, tempting backpackers from all over the world - "Tonight we have two types of cocaine; normal for 100 Bolivianos a gram, and strong cocaine for 150 [Bolivianos] a gram." The waiter has just finished taking our drink order of two rum-and-Cokes here in La Paz, Bolivia, and as everybody in this bar knows, he is now offering the main course. The bottled water is on the house.
The waiter arrives at the table, lowers the tray and places an empty black CD case in the middle of the table. Next to the CD case are two straws and two little black packets. He is so casual he might as well be delivering a sandwich and fries. And he has seen it all. "We had some Australians; they stayed here for four days. They would take turns sleeping and the only time they left was to go to the ATM," says Roberto, who has worked at Route 36 (in its various locations) for the last six months. Behind the bar, he goes back to casually slicing straws into neat 8cm lengths.
La Paz, Bolivia, at 3,900m above sea level – an altitude where even two flights of stairs makes your heart race like a hummingbird – is home to the most celebrated bar in all of South America: Route 36, the world's first cocaine lounge. I sit back to take in the scene – table after table of chatty young backpackers, many of whom are taking a gap year, awaiting a new job or simply escaping the northern hemisphere for the delights of South America, which, for many it seems, include cocaine. (London Guardian)
Debate on energy, climate bill to begin next week -- At a summit on energy and climate policy at MIT, Obama administration leaders John Holdren and Carol Browner make the case for clean energy investments. Congressional hearings will begin next Tuesday on an energy and climate bill that backers say will spur innovation in clean energy technologies and use the marketplace to put a price on carbon dioxide emissions.
One of the bill's sponsors, Massachusetts Democrat Rep. Edward Markey, hosted a forum on clean energy policy and climate change at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology on Monday where he announced the planned hearings.
Two influential figures in the Obama administration--Carol Browner, assistant to the president for energy and climate change, and John Holdren, the director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy--also delivered speeches at the event, arguing for a sustained commitment to green technologies for economic and environmental reasons. - Large-scale geoengineering projects designed to cool the Earth could "conceivably" be done, John Holdren said, repeating an assertion he first made last week. (CNet News)
Obama looks at climate engineering Holdren, a 65-year-old physicist, is far from alone in taking geoengineering more seriously. The National Academy of Science is making climate tinkering the subject of its first workshop in its new multidiscipline climate challenges program. The British parliament has also discussed the idea. - But Holdren noted that shooting particles into the air—making an artificial volcano as one Nobel laureate has suggested—could have grave side effects and would not completely solve all the problems from soaring greenhouse gas emissions. So such actions could not be taken lightly, he said. (Associated Press)
How the Nation's Only State-Owned Bank Became the Envy of Wall Street The Bank of North Dakota is the only state-owned bank in America—what Republicans might call an idiosyncratic bastion of socialism. It also earned a record profit last year even as its private-sector corollaries lost billions. To be sure, it owes some of its unusual success to North Dakota’s well-insulated economy, which is heavy on agricultural staples and light on housing speculation. But that hasn’t stopped out-of-state politicos from beating a path to chilly Bismarck in search of advice. Could opening state-owned banks across America get us out of the financial crisis? It certainly might help, says Ellen Brown, author of the book, Web of Debt, who writes that the Bank of North Dakota, with its $4 billion under management, has avoided the credit freeze by “creating its own credit, leading the nation in establishing state economic sovereignty.” Mother Jones spoke with the Bank of North Dakota’s president, Eric Hardmeyer. - MJ: Would states with your model have any new tools to get out of the credit crisis?
EH: Let me put it to you another way and tell you another thing that we do. We also provide a dividend back to the state. Probably this year we’ll make somewhere north of $60 million, and we will turn over about half of our profits back to the state general fund. And so over the last 10, 12 years, we’ve turned back a third of a billion dollars just to the general fund to offset taxes or to aid in funding public sector types of needs.
MJ: Not bad for a state with a population of 600,000.
EH: Right. And here’s another thing: Back in 2001, 2002, when we went through the dot com bust, all the states suffered some sort of budget shortfall, including the state of North Dakota. At that time our budget shortfall was fairly insignificant--$40 some million. And so it was quite easy to overcome that. The governor just simply said alright, we’re going to turn back 1 percent of all general fund agencies, and the Bank of North Dakota, you will declare another dividend to make up the balance. And so we did that. Our capital was in a fine position to go ahead and do that. So in some cases we’ve acted as a rainy day fund.
MJ: And now the current downturn seems to have bypassed you.
EH: The State of North Dakota does not have any funding issues at all. We in fact are dealing with the largest surplus we’ve ever had. So our concern is how do we spend it wisely and make sure we save it for the future. (Mother Jones)
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