”The federal government is sending each of us a $600 rebate. If we spend that money at Wal-Mart, the money goes to China. If we spend it on gasoline it goes to the Arabs. If we buy a computer it will go to India. If we purchase fruit and vegetables it will go to Mexico, Honduras and Guatemala. If we purchase a good car it will go to Germany. If we purchase useless crap it will go to Taiwan and none of it will help the American economy. The only way to keep that money here at home is to spend it on prostitutes and beer, since these are the only products still produced in US. I’ve been doing my part.”
Garlic is a pungent herb and one of nature’s best anti-biotics. Due to the powerful sulfur containing nutrients and immune stimulators within garlic, it is classified as a superfood herb. Consumption of garlic daily may be one of the best defense’s against infection and inflammatory based disease.
Garlic has been used by many cultures throughout the history of mankind as a medicinal tool. The Sumerians and other groups around the Mediterranean region had a great reverence for its ability to fight infection. An Egyptian writing dating back to 1500 BC discusses the use of garlic for over 22 common health challenges. These same Egyptians fed a heavy garlic diet to their slaves to increase their strength as they built the great pyramids.
Garlic grows all year around in mild climates and forms very hardy stalks. The strong smell repels most insects, rodents and other animals that would potentially be predators. The largest supplier of garlic is China while in the US the “garlic capital of the world” is found in California. Garlic is typically grown without the use of toxic chemicals and always tests out for very low levels of pesticides and herbicides.
The Israeli government has reportedly submitted a formal request for the US to agree to an additional $700 million in military funding, above and beyond the massive amount already allocated, to pay for the Iron Dome and Magic Wand missile defense systems.
This request is above and beyond the money the Pentagon was already seeking for Israel’s Iron Dome system, as the short range missiles, which were largely unsuccessful during the recent Gaza Strip attacks. The Israeli government wants to expand the number of batteries available.
The Iron Dome system was initially defunded by the Israeli military in 2010, when they decided it was not cost effective. The US immediately approved full funding for it. Now, the US is liable to be on the hook for the Magic Wand system as well.
Though official statements from the US have not been made on the new request, reports say that the US is likely to make the $700 million a de facto bribe, aimed at convincing Israel to delay its attack on Iran just a little longer.
Egypt is teetering on the edge of an economic crisis. Cast adrift in a deepening political quagmire over the past fourteen months, the economy has now reached a critical juncture, as the country faces the pressing challenge of financing a large budget deficit as rapidly dwindling foreign currency reserves threaten to crack apart an already fragile situation.
Yet, more than a year after the launch of a revolution driven in large part by economic grievances, the budgetary and fiscal proposals being considered to secure external financial assistance are geared more towards furthering Mubarak-era policies than to promoting social justice.
The state deficit for the fiscal year that ends in June is expected to exceed 140 billion Egyptian pounds ($24 billion), or 8.7 percent of expected economic output, according to the Finance Ministry. Meanwhile, the central bank’s foreign reserves have been shrinking by roughly $2 billion every month, precipitated by a sharp decline in tourism and foreign direct investment since the revolution began.
Over the past year, the government has used up more than $20 billion to prop up the local currency. In February, foreign reserves stood at $15.7 billion, enough for just three months of imports, and with it, the looming prospect of devaluation.
Egypt, like many developing countries, relies heavily on imports, including for staple items such as wheat. (Egypt is the world’s largest importer of wheat, relying on foreign supplies for about 60 percent of domestic consumption). A currency devaluation would increase import prices across the board, severely deepening the recession and prolonging any economic recovery.
World’s Largest Solar Plant, With Second Largest Ever Department of Energy Loan Guarantee, Files For Bankruptcy
Solyndra was just the appetizer. Earlier today, in what will come as a surprise only to members of the administration, the company which proudly held the rights to the world’s largest solar power project, the hilariously named Solar Trust of America (“STA”), filed for bankruptcy. And while one could say that the company’s epic collapse is more a function of alternative energy politics in Germany, where its 70% parent Solar Millennium AG filed for bankruptcy last December, what is relevant is that last April STA was the proud recipient of a $2.1 billion conditional loan from the Department of Energy, incidentally the second largest loan ever handed out by the DOE’s Stephen Chu. That amount was supposed to fund the expansion of the company’s 1000 MW Blythe Solar Power Project in Riverside, California. From the funding press release, “This project construction is expected to create over 1,000 direct jobs in Southern California, 7,500 indirect jobs in related industries throughout the United States, and more than 200 long-term operational jobs at the facility itself. It will play a key role in stimulating the American economy,” said Uwe T. Schmidt, Chairman and CEO of Solar Trust of America and Executive Chairman of project development subsidiary Solar Millennium, LLC.” Instead, what Solar Trust will do is create lots of billable hours for bankruptcy attorneys (at $1,000/hour), and a good old equity extraction for the $22 million DIP lender, which just happens to be NextEra Energy Resources, LLC, another “alternative energy” company which last year received a $935 million loan courtesy of the very same (and now $2.1 billion poorer) Department of Energy, which is also a subsidiary of public NextEra Energy (NEE), in the process ultimately resulting in yet another transfer of taxpayer cash to NEE’s private shareholders.
As Bloomberg notes: “The company joins Energy Conversion Devices Inc., a U.S. solar manufacturer that suspended production last year; LSP Energy LP, the owner of a natural-gas-fired power plant in Mississippi; Ener1 Inc., maker of lithium-ion batteries for plug-in electric cars; solar-panel maker Solyndra LLC; and energy storage company Beacon Power Corp. (BCONQ) in bankruptcy.”
The problem with the latest government attempts at snooping is that they are not concerned with the content of messages, but their existence. If you have found some suspected criminals or terrorists, then you will want to know who their friends are: the people they email or message most frequently. Each of these people can probably be identified by theirinternet protocol (IP) address: the number assigned by their ISP (internet service provider). Even an encrypted email will usually include the addresses of the sender and the recipient in its headers.
The general solution to privacy concerns is to use a non-UK “proxy server” to relay web pages, messages, anonymous email accounts and other content anonymously. Hackers who really want to hide their origins will use several proxy servers, including ones that are acting as proxies without their owner’s knowledge. Many websites publish lists of free proxy servers, which are updated continuously.
Of course, these servers may offer less privacy than your ISP, and some may be traps or “honeypots”. However, there are some trusted anonymous servers available either free or for modest payments.
Examples include hidemyass.com, anonymouse.org, Guardster, Proxify, IDzap and Megaproxy. Such servers usually have terms of service to prevent abusive or criminal behaviour. They will probably record your IP address and may report you if you breach them, so they’re not completely beyond government reach. However, they’re probably beyond government fishing expeditions.
There are also some really anonymous remailer services, which use networks such as Cypherpunk and Mixmaster to ensure privacy. The drawback is that if you send an email anonymously, the recipient cannot simply hit Reply. QuickSilver software for 32-bit Microsoft Windows makes it relatively simple to route an email through 45 or more remailers using Mixmaster. But like the Tor anonymous network, this kind of thing is mostly used by programmers and geeks.
There are simpler ways to send private and/or anonymous emails. For example, anonymouse.org offers a simple form for AnonEmail, as does the sendanonymousemail.net website. There’s also Mailinator, which provides free disposable email addresses, and Hushmail, which works like an ordinary email service but encrypts all your email.
For encrypted instant messaging, you could try BitWiseIM or ProjectSCIM (for Secure Cryptographic Instant Messenger). Facebook’s internal messaging is reasonably private because it’s not visible on the net, though it could be vulnerable to a court order.
In the end, the simplest way to increase your privacy and security is to restrict your internet use to sites and services that have SSL connections. These are already standard for banks and shopping sites, and are increasingly used for email and other purposes. You can recognise them by the s for secure in their https: addresses, and a padlock visible in the browser. The next step is to use the InPrivate, Incognito or Private Browsing feature of your web browser to use anonymous online services.
However, it’s worth trying proxy servers and services, if only to provide a nice illustration of the law of unintended consequences. In other words, government attempts to snoop can help to create an internet culture where snooping becomes impossible.
Afghanistan, often dismissed in the West as an impoverished and failed state, is sitting on $1 trillion of untapped minerals, according to new calculations from surveys conducted jointly by the Pentagon and the US Geological Survey.
The sheer size of the deposits – including copper, gold, iron and cobalt as well as vast amounts of lithium, a key component in batteries of Western lifestyle staples such as laptops and BlackBerrys – holds out the possibility that Afghanistan, ravaged by decades of conflict, might become one of the most important and lucrative centres of mining in the world.
President Hamid Karzai’s spokesman, Waheed Omar, said last night: “I think it’s very, very big news for the people of Afghanistan and we hope it will bring the Afghan people together for a cause that will benefit everyone.”
In Washington, Pentagon spokesman Colonel David Lapan, told reporters that the economic value of the deposits may be even higher. “There’s … an indication that even the £1 trn figure underestimates what the true potential might be,” he said.
According to a Pentagon memo, seen by The New York Times, Afghanistan could become the “Saudi Arabia of lithium”, with one location in Ghazni province showing the potential to compete with Bolivia, which, until now, held half the known world reserves.
Parween, the opium farmer in Badakhsan province, who supported her ageing husband. Haji Barat, the opium merchant in the provincial capital of Fayzabad, who built a health clinic with 50 beds with his profits. Images one does not expect from war-torn Afghanistan, a country that makes headlines now only when Qur’ans are burned or another massacre takes place.
The stories of Opium Nation, a new book about Afghanistan by Fariba Nawa, an Afghan American who was born in Herat but grew up in northern California after her family fled the Soviets, offer a rare and contradictory glimpse into the drug trade that is the economic life blood of Afghanistan. This is the actual narrative that the media and politicians should be grappling with.
The author takes the reader on a seven-year journey through many provinces, in her search for the story behind Darya, a 12-year-old opium bride, who was sold by her father to pay off a debt. As Nawa nears her goal of following the young girl-turned-woman whom she meets in the opening pages, she starts to understand the complexities of the drug trade.
There is an ongoing and unusual trend that is steadily becoming more recognized by the public. Why are girls going into puberty at such young ages? Furthermore, what are the causes and implications of this strange new trend?
Girls as young as 7 are now beginning to undergo body changes that their mothers hadn’t experienced until years later. At this rate, by the time that they’ll be taught about puberty in the school curriculum, they will have already finished it. This trend is so puzzling, and yet slowly is becoming considered an inevitable “new norm” rather than being highlighted as an aggravated health condition.
Toxic BPA is featured in the vast majority of plastics used commercially today. This chemical has the property of mimicking estrogen when leeched into the body. The delicate hormonal balance in the developing human body is being offset by the introduction of BPA and other chemicals into an average child’s life. Nearly out of the womb, children who are given plastic toys, pacifiers or bottles all come under the influence of this hormone disruption incredibly early.
In girls, this disturbance accelerates their growth rate, setting off puberty at much younger ages. In boys, this can retard their growth and stop them from reaching full maturity altogether. The damage also carries into adulthood, causing a number of health problems associated with hormonal imbalance including breast cancer. The average person has looked at this recent phenomenon and dismissed it due to the lack of information, combined with the incredible subtlety with which the chemical culprits have been woven into daily life.
BPA appears in the majority of plastics used today. Most containers and plastic bags contain the substance. Even dollar bills and toilet paper contain it. It has also been discreetly worked into the food supply in numerous ways. Most bottled water, often being subjected to extreme temperatures, has an increased concentration of BPA in the contents of the water.
A majority of canned products also contain BPA, used as lining for the insides of cans. Any microwaved food in a container or bag also becomes contaminated, due to the high temperatures causing the chemical to leach into the food during preparation. Another notable culprit is the presence of soy foods and products in a diet. Soy is pushed as a health food, but is often highly genetically modified. In addition, it contains large amounts of estrogen.
President Saakashvili said during a meeting with a group of EURONEST Parliamentary Assembly in Tbilisi that Russia’s planned military drills Kazkaz-2012 this fall has been timed deliberately to coincide with parliamentary elections in Georgia.
“All these efforts [Russia’s] are aimed at discrediting the elections on the one hand to intimidate Georgians through use of force and on the other hand to bribe Georgian voters with money from the very same country,” Saakashvili added.
The comments came in response to Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin recent statements that accused Georgia of illegal armed formations close to the administrative border with breakaway region of Abkhazia.
The forthcoming parliamentary elections in Georgia play an important role in the prospects of the country’s aspirations to join NATO.
President Saakashvili has also called for public opinion surveys in order not to let various elements, hired with foreign money, manipulate public opinion on the Election Day.
Despite the fact that it long since disappeared from major news headlines, an editorial in one of Japan’s leading newspapers warns that the Fukushima crisis is still at a critical stage and that the Japanese government has drawn up contingency plans for the potential evacuation of Greater Tokyo’s 39 million residents.
Fukushima’s reactor number 4, which holds 75% as much nuclear fuel as the entire Chernobyl complex did prior to its meltdown, 460 tons in total, is at risk of collapse. With the roof of the complex blown away, if the storage pool for the spent fuel, which is housed on the 3rd and 4th floors of the building, were to fracture then the nuclear fuel would overheat and explode, spreading radioactive fallout over a wide area.
Both the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) and French nuclear energy company Areva have warned that reactor number 4 is the “weakest link” out of the entire Fukushima complex. The Tokyo Electric Power Company has resisted calls to bury the spent fuel rods in concrete, citing the cost, but an editorial in Japan’s Mainichi Daily News quotes government insiders who warn that the potential collapse of the reactor is “a grave concern.”
he NBC network has apologized after it was revealed that they doctored a 911 call made by George Zimmerman the night he killed Trayvon Martin that some say depicts him as racist. In apologizing, NBC calls the gaffe a production error.
NBC came under fire after it was made clear that the network edited the February 26 phone call that George Zimmerman, the neighborhood watch member and confessed killer of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, placed with Sanford, Florida police. When NBC broadcast a recording of the phone call recently on their Today morning program, the network spliced Zimmerman’s statements to the emergency dispatcher, which has some saying the mainstream media did it on purpose as to peg the shooter as racist.
When Zimmerman called the cops to report Martin as a suspicious person while the teenager walked to his father’s home in a gated Florida community, the watchman told authorities, “This guy looks like he’s up to no good. Or he’s on drugs or something. It’s raining and he’s just walking around, looking about.”
The dispatcher responded by asking, “OK, and this guy – is he black, white or Hispanic?”
Zimmerman replied, “He looks black.”
When NBC aired the dialogue, however, the network neglected to take the conversation into its full context. Instead, the quote from Zimmerman that aired was an abbreviated account that did not take into consideration the 911 operator’s questioning. On the Today segment, NBC reported Zimmerman to only have said, “This guy looks like he’s up to no good. He looks black.”
As it became evident that NBC snipped the clip for broadcast, the company came under scrutiny for going out of their way to portray Zimmerman as racist. In finally apologizing, the network says they are sorry for the mistake but does not own up to the incident. Instead, rather, NBC described the glitch as a production error and offers little insight into how the mistake actually made it to broadcast.
A Craigslist ad apparently posted by the Transportation Security Administration in search of employees for Ann Arbor airport brags about the federal agency’s mission to create an “imperious” security team. The word “imperious” means “domineering in a haughty manner; dictatorial; overbearing.”
You’d think the posting was a joke if not for the fact that this perfectly describes the TSA’s role and how its employees behave on a routine basis.
As the Jalopnik blog points out, the ad was only posted in the Ann Arbor section, suggesting it is not a prank. The posting is poorly written, but that’s to be expected from a federal employee.
Imperious, domineering, dictatorial and overbearing are all very apt terms to describe the TSA, as isGoogle’s definition of the word ‘imperious’ – “assuming authority without justification.” Synonyms for ‘imperious’ include “tyrannical, despotic, arrogant,” – which are also perfectly illustrative of the federal agency.
Recent behavior on behalf of TSA agents has also been very “imperious” in nature. From prostitution rings, to drunkenly firing guns, to trashing hotel rooms, these are just examples from the past week.
As we have previously highlighted, TSA agents think their blue uniform and rent-a-cop badge bestows on them some kind of imperious, deity-like authority.
An Infowars.com reader from Colorado writes to tell us the Cherry Creek Public School district in western Arapahoe County is forcing students to watch Kony 2012. According to the father of a student attending school in the district, students were instructed to write “a letter to Senator Mark Udall in support of Invisible Children’s effort to capture Joseph Kony.”
“This is incredibly disturbing that this assignment’s goal was to force students into some level of political activism in support of a potentially violent conflict (war). Schools are not to be utilized for any activist purposes or those viewpoints forced upon the students outside of the will of the parents,” the father writes.
“I plan on consulting a lawyer to find out if there is any legal action I can take against the school district.”
The Invisible Children project used viral video as a delivery vehicle for Africom propaganda. It faced a landslide of criticism within hours of the video’s release on YouTube. The criticism was so intense that the film’s director, Jason Russell, experienced a mental breakdown. He was hospitalized after he was found running through streets in his underwear, screaming incoherently and banging his fists on the pavement, according to The Telegraph.
Facebook said Tuesday that it has filed a countersuit against Yahoo, claiming that Yahoo violates Facebook patents that relate to photo-sharing, the news feed, tagging digital media and other Web elements that build in social features in Web sites.
In a statement, Facebook general counsel Ted Ullyot said that the case is in response to Yahoo’s decision to sue Facebook in March.
“From the outset, we said we would defend ourselves vigorously against Yahoo’s lawsuit, and today we filed our answer as well as counter-claims against Yahoo for infringing ten of Facebook’s patents,” Ullyot said in a statement. “While we are asserting patent claims of our own, we do so in response to Yahoo’s short-sighted decision to attack one of its partners and prioritize litigation over innovation.”
In an e-mailed statement, Yahoo said, ‘We have only just received Facebook’s answer and counterclaims, but on their face we believe they are without merit and nothing more than a cynical attempt to distract from the weakness of its defense. As we have made clear from the outset, the unauthorized use of our patented technology is unacceptable and must be resolved appropriately. Other leading companies license these technologies, and Facebook must do the same or change the way it operates. We have proposed that Facebook join us in discussions to resolve the matter, but our overtures have been rejected. As a result, we are prepared to continue to seek redress through the courts.”
The wife of Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney had a blind trust invested in the Goldman Sachs’ sex trafficking fund, it emerged today.
According to an August 2011 financial disclosure report by the Romneys, Ann Romney’s blind trust had an investment valued between $15,001 and $50,000 in Goldman’s GS Capital Partners III.
Reuters reported that while there is no suggestion the Romneys knew about the investment, the disclosure highlights the difficulty for politicians and their families when they invest in blind trusts that are supposed to protect them from conflicts of interest and ethical questions.
Yemeni Revolution Salvation Front spokesman, Sultan al-Samei, told Al-Alam news channel on Tuesday that the US is seeking to strengthen its military presence in Yemen under the pretext of al-Qaeda in the south of the country while the real reason is gaining control of Yemen’s oil.
”Under the pretext of combating al-Qaeda, America seeks to strengthen its military presence in Yemen and break up the country to gain control of its oil sources,” al-Samei said adding that the terrorists groups operating in Yemen and other countries are US elements paving the way for the direct intervention of Washington in the internal affairs of other countries.
Al-Samei’s remarks came days after Yemeni Foreign Minister Abu Baker al-Qirbi confirmed that US marines were deployed in the Yemeni capital, claiming that the American forces were in Sana’a to protect the US Embassy.
Al-Samei also said that al-Qaeda-affiliated groups operating in southern Yemen are linked to the regime of toppled dictator Ali Abdullah Saleh.
”The rebel groups associated with al-Qaeda terrorist network that killed 23 Yemeni soldiers south of the country a few days ago, are linked to Ali Abdullah Saleh’s regime,” al-Samei added.
Yemen’s Revolution Salvation Front spokesman also said that the country is still being controlled and ruled by Saleh and that the so-called unity government headed by Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi is nothing but a political game.
Saleh’s General People’s Congress (GPC) party has17 ministers in the new 34-member cabinet and his relatives control security services.
Saleh, who ruled Yemen for 33 years, stepped down in February under a US-backed power transfer deal in return for immunity.
His deputy, UK-trained field marshal Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi, replaced him on February 25 following a single-candidate presidential election backed by the United States and Saudi Arabia. Hadi will serve for an interim two-year period as stipulated by the power transfer deal.
It has been revealed that indeed Invisible Children has been working with USAID, a US government agency that helps lay the groundwork for what could best be described as a modern-day imperial administrative network. It is now also revealed that Invisible Children attended the 2010 US State Department and Fortune 500 sponsored Alliance for Youth Movements (AYM) summit in London.
AYM (also called Movements.org) it was reported, played a central role in preparing armies of US State Department funded, trained, and equipped activists to carry out the so-called “Arab Spring” years in advance. Much like KONY 2012, the Arab Spring took many by surprise and in the wave of confusion, entire nations were upturned and US proxy regimes installed. Tunisiaand Libya are now full fledged client states of Wall Street and London, while the fates of nations like Egypt and Syria still hang in the balance.
Unlike the “Arab Spring” however, the KONY 2012 scam has collapsed almost as fast as it first swept the globe. And as it falls, it is taking with it the credibility of all who participated in it and promoted it, including the deceitful International Criminal Court (ICC) and its chief prosecutorLuis Moreno-Ocampo, as well as Hollywood and the corporate-media who did all in their power to lie, manipulate and make fools out of millions once more in the pursuit of perpetuating the imperial ambitions of Wall Street and London.
Father Martin McVeigh was giving a talk to 26 parents and one 8-year-old kid when computer disaster struck. He connected his USB drive into a PC to start his Powerpoint presentation and, instead of the word of God, a hardcore gay porn slideshow started—thanks to Windows’ autoplay.
Some parents—who were there to hear McVeigh talk about First Communion—were angry. Others were in shock. Just like McVeigh. He was so embarrassed that, according to witnesses, unplugged the USB drive and walked out of the room without uttering a single word. Later he declared to the press:
I don’t know how it happened but I know what happened. There are people making innuendoes who weren’t even there but in this day and age these stories grow.
Well, Father, I think there’s little space for innuendo after showing gay porn in church. McVeigh, however, claims there is an explanation for all this.
The Archdiocese of Armagh, where the parish belongs, called the police and gave them the USB stick for inspection. The police told them there was no crime in gay porn and the drive didn’t contain any pedophilia. It was just normal gay porn.
According to The Ulster Herald, “an emergency meeting was held in the parish last night.” You know, because gay priests are such a rareevent that emergency meetings need to be held with the utmost urgency, so everyone can slam someone who mistakenly made his sexual preferences public. Embarrassment is not enough! To the fire with him.
With banks making record profits and the people frustrated by low interest rates on deposits and lack of lending, a nation’s leader is speaking out: “Let me be frank. Our banks earn profit too easily. Why? Because a small number of large banks have a monopoly.”
Those comments came not from President Obama, Tim Geithner, Ben Bernanke or any other U.S. policymaker; instead, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao made them during a broadcast on China’s state-run National Radio.
Obviously there are differences between the banking systems in the U.S. and China, where the biggest banks really do have a monopoly, as prescribed by the state.
The United States has issued charges against Khaled Sheikh Mohammed, the self-proclaimed mastermind of the 9/11 attacks, setting the stage for what has been dubbed the “trial of the century”.
“The charges allege that the five accused are responsible for the planning and execution of the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, in New York and Washington DC, and Shanksville, Pa., resulting in the killing of 2,976 people,” the Defense Department said in a statement.
“The convening authority referred the case to a capital military commission, meaning that, if convicted, the five accused could be sentenced to death.”
… “Yale,” Woodward said. “He sent the one-page papers that these bright students had written and asked that I’d talk to the class on a speakerphone afterward. So I got them on a Sunday, and I came as close as I ever have to having an aneurysm, because the students wrote that, ‘Oh, you would just use the Internet and you’d go to “Nixon’s secret fund” and it would be there.’ ”
… “That somehow the Internet was a magic lantern that lit up all events,” Woodward said. “And they went on to say the political environment would be so different that Nixon wouldn’t be believed, and bloggers and tweeters would be in a lather and Nixon would resign in a week or two weeks after Watergate.”
… “I have attempted to apply some corrective information to them,” Woodward continued, “but the basic point is: The truth of what goes on is not on the Internet. [The Internet] can supplement. It can help advance. But the truth resides with people. Human sources.”
Two controversial research projects with the H5N1 bird flu virus haven’t produced a killer bug but have generated useful information, two researchers told scientists and bioethicists gathered here to talk about the benefits and pitfalls of manipulating deadly pathogens.
“We can use this information to understand what’s happening in nature,” Yoshihiro Kawaoka of the University of Wisconsin told the group, which is meeting to discuss experiments on the much-feared flu strain that has infected 600 people, killing more than half of them, since 2003. He said his work is already shedding light on outbreaks in Egypt, the country with the second-largest number of H5N1 cases over that period.
… Normally, bird flu is hard for people to catch. It requires close contact with sick birds and almost never passes from person to person. The ease of transmission is mostly determined by the structure of one protein, hemagglutinin. Kawaoka wanted to find out what mutations in that protein’s gene might make the virus more contagious in people.
He put a bird flu hemagglutinin gene into the 2009 pandemic “swine flu” virus and by various methods induced four mutations in it. The final bug was easily passed between ferrets, unlike viruses containing a “wild” bird flu hemagglutinin gene. But the engineered virus didn’t kill the animals and didn’t even make them as sick as the swine flu virus. The infections were also easily stopped with the drug Tamiflu.
Surveillance means safety. This is the argument wherever and whenever governments seek new powers to monitor their citizens. Proposed legislation in the UK to enable police and intelligence services to access emails, Skype calls and Facebook messages is another such example. It is also another case of the unnecessary and dangerous expansion of state power, in collaboration with companies, into our online – and offline – lives.
The UK government has said that without a warrant it could only get “who, when and where” forms of data – times, dates, numbers and addresses of communications – not the content of emails, chat messages or Skype calls. The latter would still require a warrant, according to the government. Some critics are sceptical, and rightly so.
You can find just about anything at the annual homeland security expo: X-ray machines, infrared cameras, a police cruiser with heat-sensing capability, a hovering “gyroplane” — and a GPS device that can spy on your spouse.
The salesman for Blackline GPS Corp., maker of “professional grade covert tracking” equipment, explained that his devices, in the shape of a legal envelope ($700) or an electric razor ($300), can be tucked behind seat cushions, under floor mats or into backpacks.
“We’re getting more requests from husbands and wives,” he explained. “I’ve seen guys throw it in their wives’ car and cover it with a hat. It keeps honest people honest.”
That, in one convenient package, is what has become of the homeland security effort. What began as a well-intentioned campaign to harden targets and protect the nation from terrorists has metastasized into a sprawling and diffuse enterprise that has little to do with terrorists and a lot to do with government and employers spying on the citizenry — and citizens spying on each other.
A Russian navy destroyer will dock at the Syrian port of Tartus in the coming days after setting out on a planned mission to the region, agencies quoted military officials as saying Monday.
The Smetlivy guided-missile destroyer sailed for the Mediterranean from its Black Sea base of Sevastopol over the weekend and will shortly arrive at the Russian-leased port in Syria, state news agency and other reports said.
The ship will take on new supplies of food and water before conducting planned exercises near Syria’s coast, navy officials said.
“This will be a purely technical port call that is conducted by almost all Russian navy ships conducting exercises in the Mediterranean,” a senior source in the Russian navy told Interfax.
A female Russian agent got “close enough” to a sitting U.S. cabinet member that the FBI felt they had to swoop in and arrest the lot — but it wasn’t the famous femme fatale Anna Chapman, federal officials said today.
Chapman, the seductive 20-something SoHo spy, was named by a British newspaper Monday as the reason the FBI decided to finally round up the Russian ring, which had long been under surveillance, in 2010. The paper cited an interview conducted by the British broadcasting network the BBC with the FBI’s counter-intelligence head Frank Figliuzzi.
… But Figliuzzi never named the Russian agent in question, even if the BBC ran images of Chapman — as well as shots of a look-a-like – during the interview, and now the FBI says he wasn’t talking about her at all. Instead, Justice Department officials told ABC News Figliuzzi was referring to another of the arrested spies, Cynthia Murphy.
According to court documents relating to the spies’ arrest, Murphy had been in contact with a fundraiser and “personal friend” of Hillary Clinton, who took the office of Secretary of State in January 2009. The fundraiser, Alan Patricof, said in a statement in 2010 had retained Murphy’s financial services firm more than two years before, had met with her a few times and spoke with her on the phone frequently. Patricof said they “never” spoke about politics, the government or world affairs.
The actions of Friends of Syria group of states jeopardize realization of the UN peace plan for Syria, undermining international efforts to end violence in the country, Russian FM Sergey Lavrov said.
“Everybody backed [Kofi] Annan’s [peace] plan,” he noted. “Then all of a sudden another meeting of the Friends of Syria group makes decisions, urging [the Syrian] opposition to refuse negotiations and arm, promising new sanctions [against Syria].”
Lavrov stressed this undermines actions to stop violence in the country that the Friends of Syria want to deal with the Syrian opposition only, making the deadlock irresolvable.
While the UN tries to solve the Syrian situation peacefully, the Friends of Syria summit announced plans that threaten to make the UN’s effort in vain. The US has announced it is going to spend $12 million on the Syrian opposition, twice as much as it promised before.
The Gulf States of Saudi Arabia and Qatar expressed readiness to pay salaries to the armed opposition members, making them look more like an army of mercenaries than opposition activists.
Earlier, these two countries spoke in favor of arming the Syrian opposition so as it can “defend” itself against the regular army of Syria.
The Friends of Syria summit also recognized the opposition Turkey-based Syrian National Council as the only legitimate representative of the Syrian people – without actually taking the people’s opinion into account.