March 2012 -


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31
Mar 12

Baltimore Maryland Lottery Winner Tom Kreft Tricks Media Into Reporting He Won Mega Millions

(Thomas Dishaw) Tom Kreft an aspiring film producer tricks media into reporting that he won the Mega Millions jackpot.

Just a day short of April Fools day  Kreft plays one of the biggest media hoax of 2012. After hearing the winner was from Baltimore County Maryland, Kreft decided to put his Photoshop skills to work and create a winning ticket.tom kreft wins mega millions

First posting the story to Facebook  Kreft received feedback that  the story was a hoax. “They didn’t believe me so I put my picture with the ticket and the power of social media picked it up” Kreft explained. “A friend of a friend who knows an employee at  the Wall Street Journal put it on Twitter, after that it took off like wildfire. My parents were woken by a  reporter at 6 am wanting to talk to me.” said Kreft.

“This is just a further proof you should not trust Twitter as a reliable news source. 140 characters or less is not a news story” Kreft explained.  The London Guardian and The Miami Herald also reported Kreft as the winner.

 

 


30
Mar 12

Starbucks Admits To Using Beetle Extract In Popular Drink Coloring



(NaturalNews) For being a multinational corporate food and beverage giant, Starbucks has actually been among the most proactive in ridding its offerings of toxic additives and artificial colors, and switching to natural alternatives. But the company’s recent decision to change its Strawberries & Creme Frappuccino blended beverage formula has the vegan community in an uproar, as ground-up beetles now constitute part of the drink’s natural coloring components.

According to reports, Starbucks switched its formula back in January, replacing a formerly-vegan coloring agent with the beetle-derived agent. And a vegan Starbucks barista reportedly captured a photo of the beverage’s ingredients list recently, which is not posted on the Starbucks corporate website, and sent it toThisDishIsVegetarian.com, a vegan news blog devoted to animal rights issues.

You can view a picture of the Strawberries & Creme Frappuccino ingredients list at:http://www.thisdishisvegetarian.com

The ingredient in question is cochineal extract, which is made from the ground-up bodies of cochineal beetles. This primarily South American and Mexican insect naturally produces a substance known as carminic acid that can be extracted, mixed with either aluminum or calcium salts, and turned into carmine dye.


Even though carmine extract is technically considered to be natural, the U.S.Food and Drug Administration(FDA) ruled that the additive must be properly labeled on foods, a mandate that went into effect in early 2011. Prior to that ruling, cochineal extract and other bug-derived additives had to be labeled as either “artificial colors” or “color added,” according to theChicago Sun-Times.

 

Vegans have long enjoyed Strawberries & Creme Frappuccinos precisely because they have always contained only vegan ingredients, which is why there is currently a groundswell of customer backlash. Starbucks says it made the switch as part of ongoing efforts to make its food and beverages healthier, but in the process, it failed to properly disclose this information to the public.

Daelyn Fortney, co-founder ofThisDishIsVegetarian.com, is now pushing for Starbucks to revert back to vegan natural colorings like red beet, black carrots, or purple sweet potatoes, which are commonly used to create red colors in natural foods. Going one step further than this, Michael Jacobson, Executive Director of theCenter for Science in the Public Interest(CSPI), says Starbucks should just use strawberries to color its strawberry beverages.

Sources for this article include:

http://www.suntimes.com

http://www.cnn.com/video/?hpt=hp_c3

Source


30
Mar 12

Biden: “We Want To Create A Global Minimum Tax”

(Real Clear Politics)  ”For years, American manufacturers have faced one of the highest tax rates in the world. We want to reduce that by over 20%. We want to drop the rate, particularly, for high-tech manufacturers like you, Mr. President, even further than the 20%,” Vice President Joe Biden said at a manufacturing plant in Davenport, Iowa this week.

“We want to create (what’s called) a global minimum tax, because American taxpayers shouldn’t be providing a larger subsidy for investing abroad than investing at home,” Biden said at a campaign event.

Source


30
Mar 12

Canada Kills The Penny

(Ottawa)  There may still be pennies from heaven, but they won’t be coming from the mint much longer.

The humble one-cent piece is set to disappear from Canadian pockets, a victim of inflation.

Thursday’s federal budget said the Royal Canadian Mint will strike the last of the little coins this fall.

The budget says the cost of minting a penny has risen to 1.6 cents or $11 million a year. Its purchasing power has fallen to a 20th of its original value.

“Some Canadians consider the penny more of a nuisance than a useful coin,” the budget documents said.


And so the coin will go the way of the old 25-cent shinplaster.

“The penny is a currency without any currency in Canada,” Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said at a news conference.

It’s nothing but a nuisance for business, he added.

Pennies will still be legal tender, but as they slowly vanish from circulation, prices will have to be rounded up or down.

If the customer has the pennies, they can use them. Payments with debit or credit cards or cheques can also be to the penny. But if the customer is paying cash and doesn’t have the pennies, the total will go up or down to the nearest nickel. For example, $1.02 will become $1 and $1.03 will be $1.05.

The budget said experience in other countries that have dropped low-denomination coins suggests that rounding will be fair and there will be no impact on inflation.

As for those jars, boxes and bags of pennies sitting in countless drawers across the country, the government suggests people donate them to charities.

The penny has been under fire for years. New Democrat MP Pat Martin has introduced private member’s bills over the years to kill it.

The disappearing penny will likely have little economic impact, but it may require some cultural adjustments.

Penny candy? A relic of the past. The penny arcade? Already gone.

And some old adages will likely fade away, too.

What are people going to pinch?

Will thoughts now cost a nickel?

See a penny? Leave it.

Penny-wise? Just foolish.

Take care of the nickels and the dollars will take care of themselves?

A penny saved is … not much.

Source


30
Mar 12

Controversial Pesticide Linked To Bee Collapse

(Brandon Keim)  A controversial type of pesticide linked to declining global bee populations appears to scramble bees’ sense of direction, making it hard for them to find home. Starved of foragers and the pollen they carry, colonies produce fewer queens, and eventually collapse.

The phenomenon is described in two new studies published March 29 in Science. While they don’t conclusively explain global bee declines, which almost certainly involve a combination of factors, they establish neonicotinoids as a prime suspect.

“It’s pretty damning,” said David Goulson, a bee biologist at Scotland’s University of Stirling. “It’s clear evidence that they’re likely to be having an effect on both honeybees and bumblebees.”


 

Neonicotinoids emerged in the mid-1990s as a relatively less-toxic alternative to human-damaging pesticides. They soon became wildly popular, and were the fastest-growing class of pesticides in modern history. Their effects on non-pest insects, however, were unknown.

In the mid-2000s, beekeepers in the United States and elsewhere started to report sharp and inexplicable declines in honeybee populations. Researchers called the phenomenon colony collapse disorder. It was also found in bumblebees, and in some regions now threatens to extirpate bees altogether.

Many possible causes were suggested, from viruses and mites to industrial beekeeping practices and climate change. Pesticides, in particular neonicotinoids, also came under scrutiny.

Leaked internal reports by the Environmental Protection Agency showed that industry-run studies used to demonstrate some neonicotinoids’ environmental safety were shoddy and unreliable. Other researchers found signs that neonicotinoids, while they didn’t kill bees outright, affected their ability to learn and navigate.

 

‘Anything that makes bees even a little bit worse at navigating or learning could be a disaster.’

Those results came from laboratory situations, with no guarantee of real-world applicability, but they were troubling.

 

“Bees’ ability to navigate is very important. When they leave their nest, they fly miles to gather food. Anything that makes them even a little bit worse at navigating or learning could be a disaster in those circumstances,” said Goulson. “The research suggested effects on their learning ability, but it was all done in confined situations. What we and the French group did is something more natural.”

In the first study, led by biologist Mickaël Henry of INRA, a French agricultural research institute, free-roaming honeybees were tagged with RFID chips that allowed researchers to track their movements. When dosed with a neonicotinoid, bees were more than twice as likely as non-dosed controls to die outside their hives. They seemed to get lost.

When the researchers added their results to computer simulations of honeybee dynamics, the model populations crashed.

Penn State entomologist James Frazier, who was not involved in the study, called it “the best study to date” on neonicotinoids’ real-world effects on foraging.”

The result dovetailed with the findings of Goulson’s group, who exposed developing bumblebees to varying neonicotinoid levels and set them loose to forage in an enclosed field. Measured after six weeks of growth, pesticide-dosed colonies were stunted, weighing about 10 percent less and producing 85 percent fewer queens.

“Nests have annual cycles. They start with a single queen, and the nest grows through the season. If it doesn’t get big enough, it doesn’t have the resources to pour into rearing queens,” Goulson said. “The French study shows that exposure to neonicotinoids make honeybees less likely to find their nest. That’s likely the mechanism that led to our nests growing more slowly.”

However, biologist Jerry Bromenshenk of the University of Montana was critical of the results. Goulson’s results were interesting but the researchers weren’t careful enough in verifying the doses given to their bees, and Henry’s group administered an unrealistically high dose, said Bromenshenk.

The latter’s dosing “is not what I would consider to be a field-relevant, low dose,” wrote Bromenshenk in an email, citing another recent study that used RFIDs to track bees given what he considers a more realistic dose. “At truly field representative, sublethal doses — no effect,” Bromenshenk wrote.

A comparison of bee queen production in colonies treated (middle, right) and untreated (left) with a neonicotinoid pesticide. Image: Whitehorn et al./Science

Both Goulson and Mace Vaughn, pollinator program director at the Xerces Society, an invertebrate conservation group, said neonicotinoids won’t be the only cause of colony collapse disorder.

“If it was as simple as that, the answer would have been discovered a long time ago,” said Goulson. “I’m sure it’s a combination of things. I’m sure that disease is a part of it, and maybe the two interact.” He noted a study in which honeybees exposed to neonicotinoids were especially vulnerable to a common bee parasite. Another study found that neonicotinoids dramatically increase the toxicity of fungicides.

Vaughn raised the issue of industrial-scale beekeeping practices, which have also been linked to bee declines. “We’ve potentially created a situation where behavioral impacts, compounded with a lack of genetic diversity and the food they eat, results in something like colony collapse disorder,” he said.

“My only caution is that farmers use neonicotinoids for a reason,” said Goulson. “If they were banned, farmers would have to use something else. The question is, what would that be? Would it be better? Would it also have harmful effects?”

While it’s unlikely that neonicotinoids will be banned outright in the United States, where they’re now used on more than 100 million crop acres and an unknown area of home gardens and urban vegetation, Vaughn said they could be used differently.

“I would call for a ban on their use without a demonstrated pest threat. If you have corn rootworm, and need to address that, then use neonicotinoid-coated seeds,” he said. “But if it’s a vague threat that you haven’t identified, you shouldn’t be using them. Maybe it makes you a few bucks, and certainly makes the seed companies a lot of money, but it’s potentially killing bees across the country.”

Heather Pilatic of the Pesticide Action Network recommended a return to pest management strategies used widely through the 1990s, when the rise of pesticide-treated seeds and genetically modified crops allowed farmers to change their growing strategies.

“When you plant the same crop, year after year, you’re creating the conditions for a pest infestation,” Pilatic said. “In the mid-1990s, we were doing a really good job of pest management with corn in particular. With the introduction of treated seeds, and in particular of genetically engineered corn, it all unraveled. But we know how to do it. We were doing it 20 years ago.”

Penn State’s Frazier said that the Environmental Protection Agency, which recently received a 1.25 million-signature-strong petition to ban neonicotinoids, is slowly becoming better at risk assessment, though the agency is still heavily influenced by chemical companies and opaque in its workings.

The fundamental problem isn’t neonicotinoids, but our society’s relationship to chemicals, said Frazier. “We’re making ourselves the guinea pigs,” he said. “I don’t think that’s what a rational society should be doing.”

Source


30
Mar 12

Department Of Homeland Security Is Buying 450 Million Rounds Of Bullets

(Eloise Lee)  The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and its Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) office is getting an “indefinite delivery” of an “indefinite quantity” of .40 caliber ammunition from defense contractor ATK.

U.S. agents will receive a maximum of 450 million rounds over five years, according to a press release on the deal.


The high performance HST bullets are designed for law enforcement and ATK says they offer “optimum penetration for terminal performance.”

This refers to the the bullet’s hollow-point tip that passes through barriers and expands for a bigger impact without the rest of the bullet getting warped out of shape: “this bullet holds its jacket in the toughest conditions.”

We’ve also learned that the Department has an open bid for a stockpile of rifle ammo. Listed on the federal business opportunities network, they’re looking for up to 175 million rounds of .223 caliber ammo to be exact. The .223 is almost exactly the same round used by NATO forces, the 5.56 x 45mm.

The deadline for earlier this month was extended because the right contractor just hadn’t come along.

Looks like the Department of Homeland Security means business.

Source


29
Mar 12

Displaced C.I.A. Spy Uses Twitter To Blast Agency

(Eli Lake0)  The Twitter feed belonging to Lynnae Williams at first glance looks like most Twitter feeds. There are tweets about what she is reading (“Uncle Tom’s Cabin,” “Madame Bovary”); tweets about politics (leans towards the Occupy movement); and tweets about food (tuna casserole, carrot-cake muffins).

But on closer inspection, the feed features something rare for Twitter and even the Internet: detailed disclosures about the CIA. On Tuesday for example, Williams tweeted, “The #Farm is #CIA’s training center near #Williamsburg, Virginia. I think it’s the Kisevalter Center or something.”

In other tweets, Williams, who in 2009 spent nearly four months training to be a CIA spy, details her own experiences with CIA case officers, psychiatrists and the special security division of the agency that serves as the CIA’s police force. In short, Lynnae Williams since late February has been disclosing details of her brief CIA career in 140 characters or less.


 

I caught up with the 35-year-old would-be spy on Wednesday at the Washington mission for the Palestine Liberation Organization. She was interviewing for a job there in government and press relations. “The interview went well,” she said, even though “I don’t have substantial knowledge in the area. I don’t speak the language.” Williams, who does speak Japanese, added, “I don’t know enough about the [Arab-Israeli] conflict, but I hope they resolve it.”

Williams says she began tweeting because she wanted an outlet to tell the world about her disputes with the CIA and what she calls a pattern of corruption at the agency. She also publishes a blog called CIA corrupt. “I wanted to start the Twitter account with my blog to get out my message,” she says.

A spokesman for the CIA declined to comment for this story. Another U.S. intelligence officer, who was not authorized to speak to the press, told The Daily Beast that the agency is aware of the Twitter feed and that Williams is a hot topic on classified social networking, such as the classified intelligence community version of Facebook known as A-Space. Williams has disclosed her official medical records on her blog and other personal documents related to her time in the intelligence community.

 

Lynnae Williams
Lynnae Williams. , Eli Lake

 

 

Williams’s main grievance with the agency revolves around her termination. Williams says that as a trainee in the agency’s national clandestine service, she was sent to Dominion Hospital, a public mental-health facility in northern Virginia. Williams referred to the hospital in the interview and her Twitter feed as the CIA’s “psychological prison.” She said the place had white walls and inedible food, and that doctors there urged her to take Risperdal, a drug commonly prescribed to schizophrenics and Lithium, a drug prescribed to manic depressives.

Williams says she refused and eventually her parents drove up from Atlanta and discharged her. “They wanted to keep me for observation,” she said. “It’s not a nice place, it’s dilapidated. It’s called a hospital, but it’s a prison, you can’t get out unless they let you out.”

All told, by Williams’s account, she spent one night at Dominion Hospital in 2009 and then another five days in the hospital’s outpatient program.

Williams say she first applied to work at the CIA in 2006, while she was earning her masters degree at the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service. She landed a job instead at the Defense Intelligence Agency as an analyst. At first, Williams says, she worked on counter-terrorism projects, then on studies of China’s leadership. In 2007, she says, she was shipped out to a clandestine facility in Iraq, where she worked as an Arabian Peninsula analyst.

In July 2009, Williams says she was transferred to the CIA’s national clandestine service training program, where she took the “field tradecraft course.” Williams says her life changed permanently on Oct. 27, 2009 when a colleague reported her to CIA security for what she says was “bizarre and inappropriate behavior,” such as looking on classified computers for information about herself and telling colleagues that she was being followed.  She had a meeting with a CIA psychiatrist that day, who ordered her to take a medical exam, with urine samples, and inquired about her self-acknowledged attention deficit disorder. “She asked me about my family’s mental health history,” Williams says of the CIA psychiatrist. “My aunt has schizophrenia, I did not tell her that.” Later that evening, Williams had an auto accident and says she was cited by Washington, D.C. police for leaving the scene. After that, Williams says, the CIA ordered her to Dominion Hospital.

Since her time there, Williams has been fighting a largely losing battle with the agency. In 2010, she says, her security clearance was suspended and the agency stopped paying her salary. She is pursuing legal redress against the CIA for wrongful termination, but her odds don’t look good. On Wednesday, Williams posted on Twitter a response from the American Civil Liberties Union declining to take up her case.

Mark Zaid, a national security attorney who regularly represents intelligence officers in legal actions against the U.S. intelligence community, said, “Based on the current state of the law, unfortunately the judiciary will not adjudicate adverse clearance decisions, no matter how abusive, incorrect or absurd they may have been.”

Zaid says that medical issues at the CIA can at times “be used as weapons,” adding “I have had CIA clients sent to alcohol and drug treatment. The agency has spent thousands of dollars for people to get treatment and then they fire them, which doesn’t make any sense to me.”

Without a security clearance, Williams will not likely be able to find employment with intelligence contractors, as many retired intelligence officers do. Nonetheless, she says she will continue to apply for jobs in foreign affairs. She also intends to continue tweeting. “I did not think of myself as a whistle blower.” But on further reflection, Williams acknowledges, “I suppose it would be an appropriate term.”

Source


29
Mar 12

‘KillZimmerman’ Twitter Advocates Violence Against Martin’s Killer

(David Martosko)  On March 24 a “KillZimmerman” Twitter account began publishing calls for violence against George Zimmerman, the self-appointed neighborhood watch captain who shot and killed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin on Feb. 26.

Five days later, the account is still on its crusade to avenge Martin.

The sender’s initial tweets made his or her aims clear: “No Justice No Peace!!!!!!!!!! #KILLZIMMERMAN #KILLZIMMERMAN #KILLZIMMERMAN,” they read.

The account’s image is a photo of gun-sight crosshairs superimposed on Zimmerman’s picture.

“This Page Is 4 Da Ppl Who Believe Zimmerman Should Be Shot Dead In The Street,” the Twitter account’s description reads, “The Same Way TRAYVON Was. No Justice No Peace.”

In response to one tweeted complaint on March 24 that the account “is advocating murder,” the account holder replied: “we should just all get up and #killzimmerman ourselves; fuck the system. #AintNoJustice”

“I Think They Should Shoot Zimmerman Dead In His Head Jail Ain’t Enough,” read another message the same day.

“Don’t get me wrong I would be happy if he go to jail,” another tweet read, “but I rather see a bitch shoot him in his fuckin face.”

On March 27, the account tweeted: “Leave All The Violence Shit To Us Coz If They Don’t Put Em In Jail We Gone Get His Ass.”

“We don’t comment on specific users or the status of accounts for privacy reasons,” Twitter spokesperson Rachael Horwitz told The Daily Caller. She did not indicate whether Twitter intends to take action to suspend the account, but provided TheDC with a Web address where users can report “an abusive user.”


It’s clear from the account’s tweets on Wednesday that some Twitter users are taking advantage of that option.

“All these racist motherfuckers tryin to get me deleted like I did something wrong,” one tweet read. “Bitch zimmerman killed #TRAYVON he the one wrong.”

Calls for violence directed at Trayvon Martin’s killer are not restricted to Twitter alone.

The New Black Panther Party has issued a “dead or alive” bounty for Zimmerman’s capture. Its value was originally $10,000. On Wednesday that amount was increased dramatically — to $1 million.

On Facebook, groups named “I want George Zimmerman dead,” “Kill George Zimmerman bitch azz,” “Kill Zimmerman” and “Kill George Zimmerman” have appeared, some with approximately 100 members.

The “Kill Zimmerman” Twitter profile had 162 followers at 1 p.m. EDT Thursday, a number likely to increase because The Drudge Report posted a link to the page.

George Zimmerman remains in hiding from vigilante threats. Absent a fringe element calling for retaliatory violence, the vast majority of Martin’s supporters seek only Zimmerman’s arrest and prosecution

Source


29
Mar 12

Police Can Hack Your Phone In 2 Minutes

(Andy Greenberg)  Set your iPhone to require a four-digit passcode, and it may keep your private information safe from the prying eyes of the taxi driver whose cab you forget it in. But if law enforcement is determined to see the data you’ve stored on your smartphone, those four digits will slow down the process of accessing it by less than two minutes.

Here’s a video posted last week by Micro Systemation, a Stockholm, Sweden-based firm that sells law enforcement and military customers the tools to access the devices of criminal suspects or military detainees and siphon off their personal information.

As the video shows, a Micro Systemation application the firm calls XRY can quickly crack an iOS or Android phone’s passcode, dump its data to a PC, decrypt it, and display information like the user’s GPS location, files, call logs, contacts, messages, even a log of its keystrokes.

Mike Dickinson, the firm’s marketing director and the voice in the videos, says that the company sells products capable of accessing passcode-protected iOS and Android devices in over 60 countries. It supplies 98% of the U.K.’s police departments, for instance, as well as many American police departments and the FBI. Its largest single customer is the U.S. military.  ”When people aren’t wearing uniforms, looking at mobile phones to identify people is quite helpful,” Dickinson says by way of explanation.


With smartphone adoption rocketing around the world, Dickinson says Micro Systemation’s “business is booming.” The small company has grown close to 25% in revenue year-over-year, earned $18 million in revenue in 2010 up from $12 million the year before, and doubled its employees since 2009.

“It’s a massive boom industry, the growth in evidence from mobile phones,” says Dickinson. “After twenty years or so, people understand they shouldn’t do naughty things on their personal computers, but they still don’t understand that about phones. From an evidential point of view, it’s of tremendous value.”

“If they’ve done something wrong,” he adds.

 

XRY works much like the jailbreak hacks that allow users to remove the installation restrictions on their devices, Dickinson says, though he wouldn’t say much about the exact security vulnerability that XRY exploits to gain access to the iPhone. He claims that the company doesn’t use backdoor vulnerabilities in the devices created by the manufacturer, but rather seeks out security flaws in the phone’s software just as jailbreakers do, one reason why half the company’s 75 employees are devoted to research and development. “Every week a new phone comes out with a different operating sytems and we have to reverse engineer them,” he says. “We’re constantly chasing the market.”

After bypassing the iPhone’s security restrictions to run its code on the phone, the tool “brute forces” the phone’s password, guessing every possible combination of numbers to find the correct code, as Dickinson describes it. In the video above, the process takes seconds. (Although admittedly, the phone’s example passcode is “0000″, about the most easily-guessed password possible.)

Dicksinson acknowledges that users who set longer passcodes for devices can in fact make the devices far tougher to crack. “The more complex the password, the longer and harder it’s going to be to access the phone,” he says. “In some cases, it takes so long to brute force that it’s not worth doing it.” That may have been the situation, for instance, in one recent case involving the phone of Dante Dears, a paroled convict accused of running a prostitution ring known as “Pimping Hoes Daily” from his Android phone; The FBI, apparently unable or unwilling to crack the phone, asked Google to help in accessing it.

Continue

 


29
Mar 12

Scientists Suggest That Eating Placenta Is Good For You

(Jamie Condliffe)  The entire animal kingdom does it, but most humans become squeamish and pull their faces at the very notion. But now, scientists are suggesting that mothers—and perhaps even fathers—would benefit from eating parts of the placenta following child birth. Yum.


A team of researchers from the University at Buffalo has been studying afterbirth ingestion in other species to work out why they do it—and why it might be beneficial for humans. They point out that eating the placenta provokes an increase in mother-child interaction, promotes hormone release that stimulates caring instincts, attenuates pain—in both sexes— and even increases the possibilities for future fertilization.

Mark Kristal, one of researchers, intends to conduct a full-blown trial to investigate the positive effects of eating afterbirth. Don’t worry, though—the results might mean we can get around the need to eat the stuff. “The outcome of such a quest need not be an exhortation for women to eat afterbirth, but for scientists to isolate and identify the molecule or molecules that produce the beneficial effect and use it to design pharmacological tools,” Kristal explained to EurekAlert!.

Source


29
Mar 12

Leaving Your Apartment To Take Out The Trash May Get You Arrested In N.Y.

(Andrew Jones)  The New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) filed a lawsuit against the New York City Police Department (NYPD) Wednesday, alleging that in addition to stopping primarily black and Latino residents in public spaces as part of the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk program, officers are illegally searching people in private buildings.

According to a press release, the NYCLU filed the lawsuit on behalf of residents whose buildings are apart of “Operation Clean Halls,” an agreement by the NYPD and a landlord that grants officers permission to patrol inside a building at any time.


NYCLU Executive Director Donna Lieberman cited how minorities have been largely affected by the NYPD’s program.

“Operation Clean Halls has placed hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers, mostly black and Latino, under siege in their own homes,” Lieberman said. “For residents of Clean Halls buildings, taking the garbage out or checking the mail can result in being thrown against the wall and humiliated by police.”

“Untold numbers of people have been wrongly arrested for trespassing because they had the audacity to leave their apartments without IDs or visit friends and family who live in Clean Halls buildings. This aggressive assault on people’s constitutional rights must be stopped.”

The NYCLU is seeking an injunction that would require the NYPD to stop asking people for their ID’s in the Clean Halls building, as well as to stop arresting people for trespassing without establishing whether or not the person is authorized to be there.

The NYPD’s “Operation Clean Halls” has been in effect in some form since 1991 and is currently used in thousands of buildings across the city, including at least 3,895 buildings in Manhattan.

Between 2006 to 2010, the NYPD made 329,446 stops on suspicion of trespassing, representing more than 12 percent of all stops.

Source


29
Mar 12

George Zimmerman, Son Of A Retired Judge, Has 3 Closed Arrests

(Rolling Out)That’s the question that’s being asked now that more information on Trayvon Martin’s 28-year-old killer is being revealed. Robert Zimmerman, a former Orange County magistrate judge, recently wrote a letter to The Orlando Sentinel defending his son, who’s been dragged through the mud for shooting the unarmed 17-year-old last month. In the letter, the senior Zimmerman asks people not to jump to conclusions and insists that his son didn’t follow the young boy home as he walked through their gated community.


“He would be the last to discriminate for any reason whatsoever. The media portrayal of George as a racist could not be further from the truth. At no time did George follow or confront Mr. Martin. When the true details of the event became public, and I hope that will be soon, everyone should be outraged by the treatment of George Zimmerman in the media,” wrote Robert Zimmerman.

Now more info is being dug up on his “victimized” son through public records and revealing his checkered past.

According to a records search on George, he was previously arrested for domestic violence, resisting an officer without violence and most shockingly, resisting an officer with violence — a  felony charge that surely could have landed him in prison.

All three of those arrests, however, were mysteriously closed with no semblance of charges for the Florida resident.

Source 


28
Mar 12

FBI Taught Agents They Could Bend Or Suspend The Law

(Spencer Ackerman)  The FBI taught its agents that they could sometimes “bend or suspend the law” in their hunt for terrorists and criminals. Other FBI instructional material, discovered during a months-long review of FBI counterterrorism training, warned agents against shaking hands with “Asians” and said Arabs were prone to “Jekyll & Hyde temper tantrums.”

These are just some of the disturbing results of the FBI’s six-month review into how the Bureau trained its counterterrorism agents. That review, now complete, did not result in a single disciplinary action for any instructor. Nor did it mandate the retraining of any FBI agent exposed to what the Bureau concedes was inappropriate material. Nor did it look at any intelligence reports that might have been influenced by the training. All that has a powerful senator saying that the review represents a “failure to adequately address” the problem.


“This is not an effective way to protect the United States,” Sen. Richard Durbin, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee overseeing the FBI, tells Danger Room about the inappropriate FBI counterterrorism training. “It’s stunning that these things could be said to members of our FBI in training. It will not make them more effective in their work and won’t make America safer.”

At the least, Durbin adds, “those responsible for some of the worst parts of this should be reassigned. I want FBI agents who were exposed to some of these comments to at least have a chance to be spoken to and given valid, positive information that can help them.”

One FBI PowerPoint — disclosed in a letter Durbin sent to FBI Director Robert Mueller on Tuesday (.PDF) and shared with Danger Room — stated: “Under certain circumstances, the FBI has the ability to bend or suspend the law to impinge on the freedom of others.” An incredulous Durbin told Danger Room, “Time and time again when that is done, it has not made us safer.” Like other excerpts from FBI documents Danger Room reviewed for this story, it was not dated and did not include additional context explaining what those “circumstances” might be.

FBI spokesman Christopher Allen did not dispute the documents’ authenticity. He said he would not share the full documents with Danger Room, and was “unable to provide” additional information about their context, including any indication of how many FBI agents were exposed to them.

“Of the approximately 160,000 pages of training material reviewed, less than one percent contained factually inaccurate or imprecise information or used stereotypes,” Allen told Danger Room. “But mistakes were made, and we are correcting those mistakes. Through this review process, we recognized that we lacked a centralized process to ensure all training materials were reviewed and validated. We are addressing that gap so this does not happen again.”

 

The FBI’s counterterrorism training review was prompted by a Danger Room series revealing the Bureau taught agents that “mainstream” Muslims were “violent“; that Islam made its followers want to commit “genocide“; and that an FBI intelligence analyst compared Islam to the Death Star from Star Wars. The review led the bureau to remove hundreds of pages of documents from its training course.

On Friday, the FBI announced the results of its internal review. After six months of internal inquiry, it released a statement instructing that “training would conform to constitutional principles” and “emphasize the protection of civil rights and civil liberties.” Written materials “must be reviewed carefully by supervisory-level personnel possessing an appropriate level of understanding of relevant topics.”

No one who prepared any of the “factually inaccurate or imprecise” instructional material faced disciplinary action. “All FBI employees who prepared inaccurate, imprecise, or stereotyped materials were interviewed,” Allen said. “It was made clear to them what was wrong with the materials and why they were not acceptable for FBI training.”

That’s left Sen. Durbin dissatisfied.

On Tuesday, Durbin wrote to FBI Director Mueller objecting to the FBI’s plans not to disclose the results of the inquiry; not to discipline those responsible for the offending documents; to exclude “FBI intelligence analyses of Islam and American Muslims” from the inquiry’s purview; and not to retrain agents who were exposed to the shoddy instructional material.

“If the FBI does not identify agents who received inaccurate information and take steps to retrain them, there is a real risk that agents will be operating on false assumptions about Arab Americans and American Muslims,” Durbin wrote to Mueller. “This could harm counterterrorism efforts by leading FBI agents to target individuals based on their religion or ethnicity, rather than suspicion of wrongdoing.”

A sample of that possibly harmful training comes from a document on “Establishing Relationships,” which instructed: “Never attempt to shake hands with an Asian. Never stare at an Asian. Never try to speak to an Arab female prior to approaching the Arab male first.”

Another document, titled “Control and Temper,” contrasted the “Western Mind” with that of the “Arab World.” The “Western” mind possessed an “even keel” and “outbursts” of emotion were “exceptional.” In the “Arab World,” by contrast, “Outburst and Loss of Control [is] Expected.” A bullet point below asked, “What’s wrong with frequent Jekyll & Hyde temper tantrums?”

Many U.S. Muslims have been under government surveillance since 9/11, even without suspicion of a crime. The FBI has created “geo-maps” of where Muslims around the U.S. congregate and do business, untethered to specific criminal investigations. The New York Police Department has performed similar surveillance on Muslim communities in New York City, as an extensive Associated Press inquiry has revealed.

Durbin said he wants to give Mueller, with whom he has a “positive working relationship,” a chance to respond to his letter before taking any further steps with the Judiciary Committee to compel additional FBI action. But he expressed surprise that the FBI could have taught its agents that “bending or suspending” the law was sometimes acceptable.

“I cannot imagine that was actually said,” Durbin said, adding that the FBI provided him no context as to what circumstances might justify acting outside the law. “It creates a license for activity that could on its face be illegal, and certainly inconsistent with our values.”

Source


28
Mar 12

7 Things The Obama Administration May Soon Require Everyone To Purchase

(Mike Adams)  The U.S. Supreme Court is hearing arguments this week about Obama’s health care law, which has been challenged by twenty-six states. The crux of the legal arguments center around whether the federal government can mandate private citizens to purchase a product or service they may not even want or need. (I don’t buy health insurance, for example, because I prefer to invest in healthy eating and superfoods.)

If the Supreme Court upholds the constitutionality of Obamacare, it would mean a limitless expansion of federal government authority to dictate to Americans what they must buy — and then to financially penalize Americans who don’t buy those products or services. This is precisely the model for Obamacare, which financially punishes those who fail to buy private health insurance by fining them through the IRS.


I began to wonder: What else might the government force Americans to buy if they are granted this absurd new power by the Supreme Court? I’m sure there all sorts of things the government would want to push for its selected business buddies who profit from Obama’s new consumption mandates. So here are ten more things the Obama administration may soon require people to purchase (or else!).

#1) A Chevy Volt

Since nobody is voluntarily buying Chevy Volts, for the good of the auto industry we must all be forced to buy them! That will keep Detroit in business and create jobs for the economy. Keep America strong!

Chevy dealers will be staffed with military personnel toting M4 rifles, and those rifles will be pointed at customers to make sure they “comply” with Obama’s new economic program. Those who refuse to buy a Chevy Volt will be punished by being forced to buy a Chevy pickup.

#2) Annual flu shots

With so many people figuring out that flu shots are total medical quackery and are intentionally laced with mercury preservatives, it’s no wonder most people don’t want to buy them anymore.

Without public demand for vaccines, the vaccine industry might collapse! And that would be terrible for the fat cat CEOs who run those companies and also sit on the boards of all the other global elite corporations. The answer? Mandate annual flu shots for every person, every year! Get your flu shot, or we’ll throw you in prison and jab you there!

#3) Terrorism insurance

What? You don’t own terrorism insurance? Then how will you keep your family safe with all the countless terrorism attacks happening every day?

Coming soon: Obama’s buddies will set up a whole new insurance scam called “terrorism insurance,” and they’ll use false flag terror attacks to remind people why they need to keep buying insurance policies. All Americans will be forced into buying these terrorism insurance policies, and those who don’t will be called anti-American traitors.

What? You don’t have terrorism insurance? You must be one of those anti-government nuts who also owns gold. Yeah, that’s a sure sign of being a terrorist yourself.

#4) Pink slime

Given that nobody in the country wants to buy pink slime anymore — that’s the new term for “mechanically separated meat” that has suddenly become widely known across the ‘net (http://www.naturalnews.com/035255_pink_slime_USDA_school_lunches.html) — the government may simply force everybody to buy it!

Yep, every month you’ll have your “pink slime quota” that you must meat — er, I mean meet — by purchasing pink slime at the grocery store, filling out twelve pages of documentation describing your purchase, then mailing it off to Washington with proof your purchase to a whole new federal department called “Food Usability for All” or just “F U All” for short.

#5) Air tickets

Given that the TSA has utterly destroyed the U.S. travel economy with its illegal, perverted “hands down your pants” search and seizure protocol, Obama must mandate that everybody buy one air ticket a month, whether you need it or not.

Supporting the travel industry is patriotic, didn’t you know? And if you refuse to buy an air ticket each month, you’ll be visited by TSA agents in your own home who will conduct a crotch-and-anus search of your entire family in lieu of you actually showing up at the airport for the search. This will be called a “pre-search” for the travel you’re supposed to be taking. You can never be too safe in the war on terror, right? Now bend over…

#6) A gun – but you have to carry it into Mexico and sell it to a drug gang member

This might be called the “Eric Holder” program: Every American will be required to buy a firearm at a gun shop in a state bordering Mexico, then walk that gun across the border and deposit it into the hands of the Mexican drug gangs.

Oh, wait… that program already exists. It’s called “Fast & Furious” or “Operation Gunwalker,” and it was dreamed up by Attorney General Eric Holder to cause gun violence by having ATF operatives buy guns in America and sell them to Mexican drug gangs. (http://www.naturalnews.com/032934_ATF_illegal_firearms.html)

#7) Obama Water – with electrolytes!

Coming soon: Obama Water! It’s got electrolytes! And if you drink it, you’ll get free rent for the rest of your life.

Or should I just call it the Obama Kool-Aid?

Either way, the government will make you buy it, and you can bet it will be “enhanced” with government-approved fluoride chemicals. But they can’t actually make you drink it, so flushing always remains an option for getting rid of the stuff.

Tyrants versus entrepreneurs

The difference between tyrants and entrepreneurs is that tyrants always FORCE you to buy things, while entrepreneurs leave it up to you and your free choice.

At the same time tyrants force you to buy their products and services even if you don’t want them, they alsocriminalizeyou buying things they don’t want you to have — such as raw milk, Chinese Medicine herbs or medical marijuana.

So instead of respecting freedom and the free market, the oppressive system of economic dictatorship being practiced by governments everywhere is designed to deny people their free choice and force them to purchase monopoly-priced products that the people don’t even want.

This is how national economies are destroyed. Once government starts telling you what you can and can’t buy, the whole economy becomes distorted at first, and then paralyzed soon thereafter. That’s when governments historically bring in yet more insane economic policies such as price control which almost immediately result in a wipeout of available supplies (store shelves stripped bare).

The bottom line truth in all this is that centrally-planned economies always — ALWAYS — fail! No government, no matter how compassionate or well-meaning, can replace the individual economic decisions and behavior of hundreds of millions of people. That’s why protecting liberty is the only proper role of government. By protecting liberty (and free choice), the government allows the People to make their own decisions about products and services. Government intervention only interferes with good decision making, causing both economic loss andresentmentamong the population.

No one wants to be forced to buy something, especially if that something is supporting the drugs-and-surgery medical industry (which is heavily populated with quacks, criminals, corrupt scientists and fabricated data).

I repeat here that I will REFUSE to buy health insurance mandated by Obama or any other president. No politician has any right to tell me what I can and cannot buy as a free citizen in a (supposedly) free country. And any decision the U.S. Supreme Court renders that stands in gross violation of the Constitution and its Bill of Rights is automatically null and void from the outset. You cannot legislate against natural, God-given rights, and no government has any right whatsoever to force you to buy something you do not wish to buy.

Source


27
Mar 12

Cash Mobs Gather To Splurge In Locally Owned Stores

(Reuters)  Flash mobs have been blamed as a factor in looting during urban riots. But now a group of online activists is harnessing social media like Twitter and Facebook to get consumers to spend at locally owned stores in cities around the world in so-called Cash Mobs.

At the first International Cash Mob day on Saturday, wallet- toting activists gathered in as many as 200 mobs in the United States and Europe, with the aim of spending at least $20 a piece in locally owned businesses, according to the concept’s founder, Cleveland lawyer Andrew Samtoy.


“It’s my baby but I’m not a helicopter parent,” Samtoy told a crowd of more than 100 people gathered Saturday at Nature’s Bin, a grocery store that specializes in local and organic food, in Lakewood, an inner ring suburb of Cleveland.

The 32-year-old dreamed up the Cash Mob idea last year after spending time in Britain during summer riots that unleashed looting in cities including London, Manchester and Birmingham. His first Cash Mob, in Cleveland last November, brought around 40 shoppers packing in to the Visible Voice book shop, on a welcome spree in which each of them spent on average $40 within an hour-and-a-half. “We are kind of slow in November so I wasn’t going to turn it down,” said the independent book store’s owner, Dave Ferrante, who estimated he made about eight times his normal take on that day.

Continue


27
Mar 12

Justice Roberts: Can The Government Make You Buy A Cell Phone?

(Byron Tau)  Opponents of the individual mandate provision of President Obama’s health care law contend that if the government can force you to buy health insurance, its powers of compulsion are virtually unlimited. Chief Justice John Roberts wonders what else Washington can force citizens to buy in this exchange:


 

CHIEF JUSTICE ROBERTS: Well, the same, it seems to me, would be true say for the market in emergency services: police, fire, ambulance, roadside assistance, whatever. You don’t know when you’re going to need it; you’re not sure that you will. But the same is true for health care. You don’t know if you’re going to need a heart transplant or if you ever will. So there is a market there. To — in some extent, we all participate in it. So can the government require you to buy a cell phone because that would facilitate responding when you need emergency services? You can just dial 911 no matter where you are?

GENERAL VERRILLI: No, Mr. Chief Justice. think that’s different. It’s — We — I don’t think we think of that as a market. This is a market. This is market regulation. And in addition, you have a situation in this market not only where people enter involuntarily as to when they enter and won’t be able to control what they need when they enter but when they –

CHIEF JUSTICE ROBERTS: It seems to me that’s the same as in my hypothetical. You don’t know when you’re going to need police assistance. You can’t predict the extent to emergency response that you’ll need. But when you do, and the government provides it.

Source


27
Mar 12

Money Moves 5 Doomsayers Are Making Now

(Market Watch)  They are sentries at the stock market’s wall of worry, warning investors to prepare for another epic crash for debt-laden economies.

Yet with U.S. equity markets on a tear since early October, hitting levels not touched in several years, most of Wall Street isn’t seeing much cause for alarm.

But investors should be very afraid, the doomsayers caution.

“Hold cash, and keep it safe,” said Robert Prechter, head of market forecasting firm Elliott Wave International. “There will be another buying opportunity, probably about four years from now.”

Spain is the worry, not Portugal

Markets have been preoccupied with Portugal, but the real linchpin to the success of the euro project in the short term is Spain. Vincent Cignarella explains why on Markets Hub. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)

Instead, increasingly optimistic buyers have pushed the Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA -0.03%  above 13,000; the Nasdaq Composite Index COMP +0.28% over 3,000, and the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index SPX +0.01%  past 1,400.


The gains extend beyond stocks. GoldGCJ2 -0.04% may be off its September 2011 high of $1,907 an ounce, but is still in the respectable mid $1,600s, and oilCLK2 +0.03%  remains above $100 a barrel. Meanwhile, yields on both the 10-year Treasury note 10_YEAR -2.58% and the 30-year bond 30_YEAR -1.08%  are around a percentage point lower from a year ago, boosting bond values.

Also, the greenback is rising. The U.S. Dollar Index DXY +0.13% , a measure of the dollar against six other major currencies, is up sharply over the past 12 months.

It’s enough to make a confirmed pessimist downright gloomy.

After all, what’s a doomsayer to do when it seems everything — even Europe — is rallying? Do you stand your ground in cash, or join the crowd and closely eye the exit?

Party like it’s 2007

Of the five prominent market skeptics interviewed for this article, four are reluctantly going along for the ride. The consensus among this group is that the rally is not sustainable — just another big party before an even bigger hangover. They see stock prices as being artificially inflated by Federal Reserve policies of quantitative easing and low interest rates, and that to put out the fires in Europe, the European Central Bank has gotten in on the act.

But, these strategists say, while these monetary drugs are palliative to markets, they require bigger doses for progressively dwindling results and will eventually fail.

Also, they believe the market’s valuation is stretched beyond what the fundamentals justify. Government policies are encouraging leveraged institutional investors and hedge funds to go long on stocks, they maintain, while cash-flush companies buy back outstanding shares from cash-strapped individual investors.

Individual investors, not incidentally, are engulfed by debt, the doomsayers point out. As they see it, consumers struggling to unwind debt are getting squeezed by higher food and energy costs. Accordingly, they’ll have even less disposable income to sustain corporate profits, the pessimists say. And one outcome these forecasters can all agree on is that the stage is being set for a big, ugly global stock-market crash.

Five shades of gray

1. Peter Schiff

Peter Schiff, chief executive of Euro Pacific Capital, said the worst investment now is bonds, because it’s the one asset that hasn’t been crushed. The second-worst option is cash, because the Fed insists that inflation is not a threat, he said.

Peter Schiff

Schiff is known for having called the 2007 financial crisis, and has been a vocal critic of artificially low interest rates set by the Fed.

Among stocks, Schiff said he’s focusing on multinationals and exporters, areas that have some insulation to a U.S. economy that he believes is heading for a crisis.

Earlier in the month, Euro Pacific’s asset management arm launched its EP Strategic U.S. Equity Fund EPUSX +1.00% , which focuses on U.S. businesses that stand to benefit from increasing sales in overseas markets.

Schiff said the Fed can be in denial about inflation for only so long, and eventually will have to raise interest rates.

“They’ll keep [rates] low until the market forces them,” Schiff said. “It’s like trying to hide it when you’re pregnant, you can only do it for so long.”

He added: “If we get to 2014 and we don’t have a crisis, the Fed will keep rates low but at some point it won’t matter because we won’t have any money because we’ll be paying $30 for a carton of milk.”

2. Harry Dent Jr.

Harry Dent Jr., who heads research and forecasting firm HS Dent, said the recovery in the economy and markets is “artificial” in that it’s being fueled by quantitative easing measures in the U.S. and Europe.

Harry Dent

Dent notes that asset classes are rising in tandem, when normally stocks and bonds have an inverse relationship. If the economy is indeed recovering, then it shouldn’t require the Fed’s help, he said.

In fact, Dent contended, the Fed isn’t about to take the economy off life-support because that would put some $42 trillion in private U.S. debt at risk.

Dent uses demographics to inform his economic and market forecasts. He’s known for a prediction in the 1980s that Japan’s economic slowdown would last more than a decade, based on population trends, and cautions that the U.S. is setting itself up for a similar economic malaise.

Aging baby boomers are no longer fueling U.S. economic growth, he said, and younger generations can’t keep the momentum going.

“The government and most economists are in denial when the largest generation is spending less and paying down their debt,” Dent said.

If you have to be in the stock market, Dent suggests hedging stocks with the CBOE Volatility Index VIX +7.08% . The best way to play a bubble is to realize it’s a bubble and be ready to get out quickly, he said.

For the U.S. market, Dent said he expects a near-term selloff followed by a summertime rally due to another round of quantitative easing that could last until the presidential election. After that, Dent sees a market peak in 2013 or 2014 and then another crash.

3. A. Gary Shilling

Economic consultant A. Gary Shilling said stocks are vulnerable because the U.S. consumer is worn out, and that puts businesses, and the broader economy, on a weak footing.

A. Gary Shilling

Shilling has long predicted that Fed measures to stimulate the economy will fall short and believes that the global economy is in a long period of deleveraging marked by anemic growth.

“If the consumer pulls back, there’s nothing else in the economy that can sustain growth, and if the consumer retrenches we have a recession,” Shilling said.

Corporate profits are not driving earnings and stocks, Shilling said — corporate cutbacks are. Indeed, he added, U.S. businesses are in a tricky spot where they can no longer rely on cost cutting to boost the bottom line.

“U.S. businesses have been doing this since 2000 and you’ve had consumers willing to borrow to support it, but that’s not the case anymore,” he said. “We no longer have a cushion of people willing to borrow to support corporate profits.”

Now, businesses need to hire more people to increase productivity, he said. The only problem with that is that hiring slices into profits.

For stock investors, Shilling recommends a focus on companies that pay a high dividend, particularly in utilities and consumer staples. He also favors North American energy stocks with natural-gas pipeline assets.

Outside of equities, Shilling likes long-term Treasurys for their potential appreciation rather than yield, and the U.S. dollar against the euro and the yen.

4. Charles Biderman

Charles Biderman, who heads TrimTabs Investment Research, said he’s bullish on stocks given that the Fed’s cheap money is levitating prices. But, he added, at some point stocks are going to drop.

Charles Biderman

Biderman, who approaches stock prices as a function of liquidity instead of fundamental value, expects the U.S. market to slow considerably in the second half of the year, and that the Fed will try to stimulate investment with QE3.

A day will come, Biderman said, when the Fed will pull the plug on cheap money. Then he sees the Dow tumbling to financial crisis lows in the 6,000 range. For clues, watch what companies are doing with their cash, he said.

“If buybacks slow,” he said, “that would be the time to start getting out.”

Biderman manages the AdvisorShares TrimTabs Float Shrink ETF TTFS +0.92% . The top five holdings in the $8.3 million fund include mattress maker Tempur-Pedic International Inc. TPX -0.40% , industrial adhesive and coating maker Nordson Corp. NDSN +0.80% , motor home and bus manufacturer Thor Industries Inc. THO +2.75% , Home Depot Inc. HD +0.14% , and hotel chain Wyndham Worldwide Corp. WYN +0.86% . By sector, the ETF is overweight on consumer cyclical, health-care and technology stocks.

5. Robert Prechter

Robert Prechter

Elliot Wave’s Prechter is the most bearish of the five strategists. He said investors should shun every asset class that’s popular now, including stocks, commodities, precious metals and bonds.

Prechter maintains there are parallels between today’s U.S. economy and the Great Depression. This time, a deflationary spiral threatens the nation’s health.

As for stocks, Prechter said individual investors are tapped out and that most of the market activity is driven by institutional investors. The market’s rebound since 2009, he said, is a classic bear market rally.

He added: “When investors are afraid again, and when stocks are cheap again, that will be the time to buy.”


27
Mar 12

8,131,012 Is The Most Terrifying U.S. Patent Ever Issued

(John Galt)  Imagine that one day some poor sucker was acting weird because he appeared that he had too much to drink and stumbled into a city square with his briefcase in tow. In reality he was just lost and exhausted.

Imagine a computer that observes this individual via a security camera monitoring system used Artificial Intelligence to acquire and observe him.


Imagine the computer uploading photographs to the NSA database, receiving information back profiling the individual and because he was a CCW owner, the computer determined using it’s programming that this person was a threat.

Imagine the computer contacting Federal or local authorities and issuing a terror alert to apprehend this person and automatically notifying other computer security systems in the city that he is a pending threat.

Imagine the individual being picked up without cause beyond a computer alert and detained without due process under the Patriot Act.

Don’t imagine it, the above scenario is real and could happen tomorrow.

One week ago, the head of the National Security Agency strongly denied theWired magazine story by James Bamford titled “The NSA Is Building the Country’s Biggest Spy Center (Watch What You Say)“. The video of this denial is below courtesy of Wired and was designed specifically to allay the fears of an American public which is not used to the idea of having their every movement tracked and every word spoken recorded.

The shock effect of the original story and impact beyond the alternative news circuit and blogosphere lasted all of three days. However, a recent patent was issued to Behavioral Recognition Systems (BRS Labs), Number 8,131,012, should send a larger chill down your spine when tied to the massive database being constructed for the NSA. Imagine a world where security cameras record your movements and because a computer program using Artificial Intelligence is able to determine that an individual’s appearance or actions within a monitored section and law enforcement is notified because that individual appeared in a location that a computer determined was irregular.

That technology exists now and is being actively sold and deployed.

The explanation of the precursor to this was demonstrated by BRS Labs’ Isight system as explained in the video below:

The new patent, per an article (click here to read in full) in Government Security News, is described as:

The results of this work — the patented AlSight Behavioral Recognition System — accepts video streams from standard cameras, detects and tracks subjects, characterizes their appearances and properties, classifies them, learns the patterns of behavior they exhibit, remembers those patterns, recognizes behaviors that deviate from those patterns and alerts the user about those events in real time.

“These advancements would not have been possible ten or fifteen years ago because science didn’t adequately understand how the human brain models and manipulates data, and there wasn’t enough computer power to get the job done,” said Dr. Wesley Cobb, chief science officer at BRS Labs. “Now, computers are exponentially faster and we have been successful in developing a method and system for analyzing and learning behavior based on acquired streams of video frames. This was an extremely difficult technical problem to solve, and to our knowledge, no other company has been able to approximate or duplicate what we have done.”

U.S. Patent Number 8,131,012, issued to BRS Labs earlier this month, covers the invention of using artificial intelligence learning modules to recognize behavior patterns in a video stream to identify objects and events that are unusual.

Thus not only are objects and characteristic changes detected, but human behavior and activities are now interpreted by a computer using Artificial Intelligence to determine the threat level and notifying either a monitoring station or authorities if necessary. Obviously this system will be widely deployed by the Federal Government and private industry working for the defense industry initially, but as affordability is achieved via mass production and upgraded versions of the software are issued. What is terrifying is the idea that the U.S. is following in the footsteps of the United Kingdom and ultimately the defunct German Democratic Republic as a nation which spends more times observing its citizens to control their freedoms rather than to protect them.

Source


27
Mar 12

U.S.Trial Program Would Spy on Internet Users To Prevent Animal Abuse

(Stephen C. Webster)  The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) offered an unusual contract (PDF) this month, soliciting bids from private software developers for a trial program that would scour the Internet for detailed information on all animal sales, potential animal welfare abuses and other unlawful economic activities relating to animals within the U.S.

In other words, the U.S. government is preparing to spend taxpayer money to spy on Americans’ Internet use, so that it can better protect animals and ensure their handlers have paid for all the proper licenses.

The program, according to a contract publicly available on FedBizOpps.gov, would see a third party developer creating a system that scours forums, websites, usenet groups, social media — and even live chat rooms — for any information relating to sales of pets, exotic animals, animals used for exhibit, teaching, testing or other experimentation, and, particularly, any and all potentially unlicensed hose shows or auctions.

The contract was offered as a six month pilot project, and it’s not clear how much money the USDA is prepared to put up for it. They also specify: “THE SCAN SHALL BE VIA INTERNET WEB TECHNOLOGY SEARCH ENGINE TOOLS, NOT A HUMAN BEING” — although humans would still have to rifle through the information collected by whatever software is created.


It specifies the realms of its search as: “Global Domain Registrations; World Wide Web; Social Networking Web sites; Web logs (Blogs); IRC/Chat conversations; Message Boards; Public email groups and discussion forums; Usenet Data; Auctions – eBay.com and Yahoo.com Auctions.”

The USDA also appears to acknowledge at least some budgetary restraint on the project, noting that travel costs will not be covered for any contractor. Contractors will also be required to create a web-based login system for USDA employees to monitor animal rights abuses online, and compile bi-weekly reports about aggregated information.

“The report shall provide search results of US Domestic Sites where regulated animals or activities are listed by U.S. companies who are selling to US customers, and shall include any information, if available, on U.S. individuals or businesses that are purchasing these animals,” the contract stipulates.

Information on people buying and selling animals is to include names and addresses, domain registration details, the person’s Internet service provider, and even their Internet protocol (IP) address, it adds.

complicated criteria set out by the Federal Acquisition Institute stipulates that most data about the program be kept on-hand up to a year. Some information, like expense records, policies, practices, account histories and other records collected by or supporting the program, is to be saved for three to four years.

The program appears to be authorized under two specific laws: the Animal Welfare Actand the Horse Protection Act, which requires the USDA to regulate sales of “warm blood” animals and register organizations that sell or use horses. Circuses, ranches and horse auctions are most frequently targeted by regulators operating under these laws, and the Internet surveillance program appears to be a direct extension of those efforts.

“We’re glad to see that USDA is initiating a system to observe those on the Internet who conduct activities that fall under the Animal Welfare Act and Horse Protection Act,” Tracie Letterman, director of regulatory affairs for The Humane Society, told Raw Story. “With the widespread use of the Internet, it is a critical tool for the agency to catch those operating illegally or who may be harming animals protected by the law.”

Several other groups, including Friends of Animals, The Electronic Privacy Information Center, The Club for Growth and Americans for Tax Reform, had no comment on this report.

Update: While the USDA did not respond to a request for comment on this report at press time, a spokesman emailed the following passage shortly after this story’s publication:

“USDA needed an efficient way to identify individuals who are engaged in regulated activities related to the Animal Welfare Act and the Horse Protection Act. The Internet sales search engine will be an efficient way of accomplishing this task. This contract will allow USDA to identify individuals who are using the Internet to engage in the following activities: 1) selling animals that are to be used as pets; and 2) selling horses at horse shows, sales, exhibitions and auctions. During the initial six months of the contract, the vendor will monitor these sales, and then USDA will evaluate the services provided and proceed accordingly.”

The spokesman added that the program would primarily focus on people who are selling animals, and that it would be limited to information already available in the public realm.

Read the whole contract, below…

####

USDA to spy on Internet for animal rights abuses

Source


27
Mar 12

Made from Genetically Modified Bacteria Waste, Aspartame Risks Public Health

(Andre Evans)  Aspartame is one of the most used artificial sweeteners in the food supply today. It also happens to be one of the most dangerous. Aspartame is used in thousands of products as a substitute to sugar, though consumers would actually be better off eating regular sugar. Specifically, the toxic substance is often found in diet soft drinks and various candies. You should also be aware that aspartame is even present in a number of lesser-known conventional products as well.

Millions either knowingly or unknowingly consume aspartame on a daily basis. However, if the public was aware of the various dangers aspartame poses to individual health, they would stop — or would they?


Aspartame is an addictive substance. Most people who consume diet sodas regularly soon develop a craving for it. This is because of aspartame’s addictive quality. Soon after consuming the ingredient on a normal basis, many people find themselves unable to kick the habit.

This is concerning due to the fact that aspartame has been linked to a number of diseases, can impair the immune system, and is even known to cause cancer. Aspartame has even been found to create tumors in lab rats. One study showed that of 48 rats experimented on, up to 67 percent of all female rats developed tumors roughly the size of golf balls or larger. This is glaringly in contrast to the perceived nature of what a ‘sugar free alternative’ would entail, which is generally thought to be a ‘healthy’ substitute to sugar.

Aspartame works as an excitotoxin, stimulating a response in cells to simulate the effects of sweetness without actually being sweet. Over exertion of these cells leads to the various health conditions that currently wreak havoc on the public.

Excitotoxins have been found to stimulate cancer growth and metastasis. Aspartame, essentially, feeds cancer cells. If this weren’t enough to convince you to drop the diet soda habit, the process by which aspartame is made involves a highly toxic and volatile and genetically engineered form of bacteria waste — hardly something that would be considered safe by a reasonable standard.

And yet, the ‘safe and reasonable’ FDA has approved aspartame for use. Knowing the gamut of health risks that aspartame is responsible for, and knowing the history of FDA approved products, your health becomes your own responsibility. Being aware of its presence in over 6,000 products and counting is essential.

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