Wednesday, February 11, 2015
NEWS FOR 2/10/2015 Tuesday February 10th 2015
THE ELITE 1%____________________
Dominique Strauss-Kahn told a French court on Tuesday he did not know the women at "festive and playful" sex parties he attended were prostitutes, saying that would have been too risky given his then-role as head of the IMF.
(Reuters, feb 10th)
Are we on the verge of a major worldwide economic downturn? Well, if recent warnings from prominent bankers all over the world are to be believed, that may be precisely what we are facing in the months ahead. As you will read about below, the big banks are warning that the price of oil could soon drop as low as 20 dollars a barrel, that a Greek exit from the eurozone could push the EUR/USD down to 0.90, and that the global economy could shrink by more than 2 trillion dollars in 2015. Most of the time, very few people ever actually read the things that the big banks write for their clients. But in recent months, a lot of these bankers are issuing such ominous warnings that you would think that they have started to write for The Economic Collapse Blog. Of course we have seen this happen before. Just before the financial crisis of 2008, a lot of people at the big banks started to get spooked, and now we are beginning to see an atmosphere of fear spread on Wall Street once again. Nobody is quite sure what is going to happen next, but an increasing number of experts are starting to agree that it won’t be good.
(economic collapse blog, feb 10th)
Fed mobilizes against Rand Paul’s audit legislation
“This is about interfering with the making of monetary policy. I respect the gentleman from Kentucky, but he’s wrong,” said Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas President Richard Fisher on Fox Business Monday evening.
Fisher was one of several Fed officials to speak out Monday against Paul’s bill to have the Government Accountability Office audit the Fed’s monetary policy deliberations and report to Congress.
In a separate appearance on Fox Business, Philadelphia Fed President Charles Plosser said the Fed audit is “scary” because it would mean that “you are going to have political interference in the short term to try to influence and shape policy decisions” that should be left to the independent central bank.
(washington examiner, feb 10th)
CORRUPTION AND SCANDALS________________
More cities are trying to follow in the footsteps of D.C.-area jurisdictions to give non-citizens the right to vote in municipal elections.
Though many of these proposals have failed, the Washington Post notes that activists in Amherst, Massachusetts, Madison, Wisconsin, and Burlington, Vermont are also clamoring to give voting rights to non-citizens. In New York, as Breitbart News has noted, Mayor Bill de Blasio has said he would like to “continue the conversation” this year on giving voting rights to non-citizens.
Six Maryland jurisdictions and Chicago allow non-citizens to vote in some local elections.
(breitbart, feb 10th)]
Despite its importance, the broadcast news networks’ morning and evening shows dedicated only three minutes, 38 seconds of coverage to these potential regulations over the Internet since Obama’s announcement November 10, 2014 through February 9, 2015. Moreover, none of the stories included any critics of the plan. By way of contrast, the networks spent 67 minutes, 49 seconds covering the "Deflategate" scandal during less than one week in January, nearly 19 times more than net neutrality over a period of almost three months.
Phil Kerpen, President of American Commitment, told MRC Business, "There has been almost no coverage of the president strong-arming what is supposed to be an independent agency, or the highly questionable policy he has proposed that would reverse the past two decades of Internet policy and install a heavy-handed regulate-and-tax alternative."
When they did cover the issue, the networks were almost entirely uncritical in their reporting. On November 11, CBS's "This Morning" co-host Gayle King echoed the White House’s talking points, saying that Obama wanted the FCC "to adopt tough rules to protect a free and open internet."
Gayle said that "broadband service providers want to charge higher fees" for Internet access, which could "result in the blocking or slowing down of content for some." Yet, she failed to explain how the president’s proposal would improve this situation or describe the plan’s potential costs.
(newsbusters.org, feb 9th)
Farcical 9/11 “Trial” Halted Again As It Is Revealed Translator Is A CIA Torture Agent
The trial of five detainees accused of aiding the 9/11 plot has been delayed once again after two of them claimed that a translator they had been appointed as part of their defense team was a CIA agent who worked at a secret torture prison.
“The problem is I cannot trust him because he was working at the black site with the CIA, and we know him from there,” defendant Ramzi Bin Al-Shibh said the moment the hearing started on Monday, according to the Miami Herald.
Another of the defendants, Walid bin Attash, verified the identity of the CIA agent. His attorney told those gathered that bin Attash was “visibly shaken” on seeing the CIA operative.
“My client relayed to me this morning that there is somebody in this courtroom who was participating in his illegal torture,” attorney Cheryl Bormann told Army Col. James L. Pohl, who is overseeing the trial at Guantanamo Bay.
Bormann further told the court that the presence of the alleged CIA agent was either “the biggest coincidence ever” or “part of the pattern of the infiltration of defense teams” by the US Government.
(Infowars, feb 10th)
The Obama administration is refusing to publicly release more than 500 documents on the IRS’s targeting of Tea Party groups.
Twenty months after the IRS scandal broke, there are still many unanswered questions about who was spearheading the agency’s scrutiny of conservative-leaning organizations.
The Hill sought access to government documents that might provide a glimpse of the decision-making through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request.
The Hill asked for 2013 emails and other correspondence between the IRS and the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA). The request specifically sought emails from former IRS official Lois Lerner and Treasury officials, including Secretary Jack Lew, while the inspector general was working on its explosive May 2013 report that the IRS used “inappropriate criteria” to review the political activities of tax-exempt groups.
TIGTA opted not to release any of the 512 documents covered by the request, citing various exemptions in the law. The Hill recently appealed the FOIA decision, but TIGTA denied the appeal. TIGTA also declined to comment for this article.
(the hill, feb 10th)
At Grammys, Obama Promotes ‘Partnership’ With Soros-Funded Group
President pushes campaign sponsored by White House and Center for American Progress
CBS gave 1 minute, 12 seconds at the music awards to play a pre-recorded video with President Barack Obama, during which he promoted the “It’s On Us” campaign against sexual violence.
The White House website noted that the campaign is done in “partnership” with the far-left Center for American Progress (CAP), a group funded by liberal donors George Soros, Jonathan Soros, and Tom Steyer. The White House billed the effort as an attempt “to root out sexual violence wherever it exists,” in a fact sheet released Sept. 19, 2014. Nowhere in the PSA did Obama mention that the campaign was also sponsored by CAP.
Obama urged viewers to “join our campaign to stop this violence” by visiting the campaign’s website and signing a petition. He asked the artists at the Grammys to enlist the support of their fans as well.
As the parent organization of Think Progress, CAP has provided a platform for far-left voices that are often echoed by larger, more prominent media outlets. The Huffington Post called CAP “the mothership” for “Obama’s 2012 Campaign Cavalry,” a moniker which CAP proudly accepted in its 2013 annual report.
Liberal billionaire George Soros has given CAP $10,117,186 since 2000.
(Media Research Center, feb 10th)
Jeb Bush’s eye-popping event: $100k per ticket
ormer Florida Gov. Jeb Bush will raise money on Wall Street on Wednesday at an eye-popping $100,000 per-ticket Park Avenue event hosted by private equity mogul Henry Kravis and his wife.
The price of admission to the event, which will raise funds for Bush’s “Right to Rise” super PAC, surprised even Wall Street veterans used to high-dollar fundraisers.
The event comes as Bush continues a shock and awe approach to early 2016 fundraising that people close to the campaign say could eventually see the former governor reach a total of between $50 million and $100 million between the super PAC, a traditional political action committee and an eventual presidential campaign.
Bush spokeswoman Kristy Campbell declined to comment on the price of the Kravis fundraiser, the second event the private equity titan has held for Bush.
“We don’t detail info on private finance events,” she said in an email. But two people familiar with the event confirmed the $100,000 amount.
“I shook my head when I heard the number,” one senior Wall Street executive who is not attending the event said on Tuesday. Another said the event would likely draw a significant crowd and would put Bush well on a path to raise over $50 million for the super PAC alone.
(Politico, feb 10th)
Media Matters Founder Resigns From Hillary PAC
David Brock on Monday abruptly resigned from the board of the super PAC Priorities USA Action, revealing rifts that threaten the big-money juggernaut being built to support Hillary Clinton’s expected presidential campaign.
In a resignation letter obtained by POLITICO, Brock, a close Clinton ally, accused Priorities officials of planting “an orchestrated political hit job” against his own pro-Clinton groups, American Bridge and Media Matters.
Those groups — along with another pro-Clinton group, the super PAC Ready for Hillary — had their fundraising practices called into question last week by a New York Times report. It pointed out that veteran Democratic fundraiser Mary Pat Bonner got a 12.5 percent commission on funds she raised for Brock’s groups and a smaller percentage commission on cash she raised for Ready for Hillary.
(Politico, feb 10th)
The ABC7 I-Team reveals the mobile technology that hackers can use to steal credit and debit numbers from you while you're in public. The cards at risk are enabled with radio technology that allows you to "wave and pay."
It may be convenient, but there are also remote tools that thieves can use to steal information from those cards. The I-Team tested a device that can "secretly swipe" while you are standing in line to pay, on an escalator, or in a crowded spot.
The equipment is easily found online but only works on cards with this wireless symbol or cards enabled with "Radio Frequency ID" , "Near Field Communications", "Blink" or "Paypass" technology. As you can see, the device only has to get within 6 inches of the card. Shoppers found it unsettling.
"I don't know what to say, I am speechless," said Kay Bragg, a shopper.
"I'm shocked," said shopper Susan Sherman. " I think that's how some people picked up my debit card number."
And we did it again, attaching the equipment to a laptop.
"From a distance away, I can still read your card right through the wallet," Bryan said. "I have all of your numbers."
Spokespeople representing the Near Field Communications System and MasterCard say that the 3-digit code on the back of the card is usually needed for purchases, and that code can't be read by the device.
But other fraud experts tell the I-Team that there are other devices which can put card numbers and expiration dates on another "dummy" card which can be used at stores without that 3-digit code, and that some internet and phone transactions may not require it.
"So you don't have to worry about having the CVV or other pieces of information," Bryan said.
Then we used it on my CTA Ventra card, which can also be activated as a debit card. Our security expert accessed my account number and expiration date.
"And the last four is 7995," Bryan said.
A CTA spokesperson said that the numbers can't be used to ride the transit system, and also pointed out that the gadget can't get your 3 digit debit card code on the back. And they said that a Ventra card "has the same industry-standard security protections that millions of credit and debit bank cards across the country (have) to prevent fraud."
To fight back, you can buy special wallets and even cheap sleeves that block the radio frequency. You can also use foil.
(ABC chicago, feb 9th)
The British government has somewhat spilled the beans on their intelligence activities, with the Home Office publishing a set of draft guidelines into hacking and bugging undertaken by security services.
The draft report, Equipment Interference draft code of practice, details the guidelines that the UK’s security and intelligence agencies follow when operating both in Britain and abroad.
The release of the report is seen as an interesting move by UK authorities, with the British government rarely disclosing information in regards to what actions and guidelines its intelligence agencies follow, let alone admitting that such actions take place.
Guidelines detailed in the report include proper rules and procedures for “electronic interference” (hacking) of phones, PCs, laptops and routers, while it also mentions that the UK intercepts and bugs various gadgets that it wants to spy on, similar to practices undertaken by the National Security Agency (NSA) in the United States.
Additionally, the report also deals with when hacking warrants can be issued, what needs to be done when an innocent person is spied on, and also provides guidelines on who information should be shared with, and how it should eventually be stored or destroyed.
James Brokenshire, minister for Immigration and Security, said that the government was trying to be as “open as it can” in providing hacking guidelines, without releasing secret information.
(Sputnik, feb 10th)
Report: White House Preparing Military Response If Diplomacy With Russia Fails
The world is now on the cusp of total war. This is the claim made by former Assistant Secretary of the Treasury Paul Craig Roberts in arecent editorial. And though doom predictions are quite popular given what’s going on in the world as of late, to disregard Roberts’ assessment as fear-mongering or hype would be short-sighted and dangerous. No, this time is not different, and if political leaders around the world, especially in the United States, Russia and Europe, don’t come to an agreement on the future of Ukraine then it is only a matter of time before we eventually cross the line into a scenario from which there is no return – for all we know, we may have already crossed it at this point.
While the American media has generally ignored the broader implications of what’s happening in Ukraine, often dismissing it as Europe’s problem and one that has no long-term ramifications for the U.S., the fact is that the United States is directly involved in not only the political machinations behind the scenes of Ukraine’s new government, but military operations as evidenced by recent videos showing armed American-English speaking personnel on the ground during the recent artillery shelling of the city of Mariupol.
(shtfplan, feb 10th)
Russia Warns U.S. Arming Ukraine Will Be Considered an Act of War. Russia will respond in Ukraine and elsewhere if Obama arms Kiev regime
On Monday Obama said the United States is considering sending armaments and lethal aid to the regime in Ukraine. Obama had previously opposed sending arms.
“It is true that if in fact diplomacy fails, what I’ve asked my team to do is look at all options,” Obama said. “The possibility of lethal defensive weapons is one of those options that’s being examined.”
Obama made this comment as German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande push a peace plan to resolve the crisis. Merkel and Hollande met with Putin and Ukrainian leaders last week and announced a summit to be held in Minsk on Wednesday.
As Obama vacillates and a bipartisan group in Congress demand the U.S. arm the Kiev regime under the terms of the Budapest Memorandum, the Russians warn military aid to Ukraine will result in “all-out-war.”
Alexei Pushkov, a leading Russian MP and an ally of President Vladimir Putin, told the European Parliament the delivery of arms to Ukraine is the first step in what will become larger participation in the conflict by the United States. He said sending armaments was one of the first steps in U.S. involvement in Vietnam.
“First they sent weapons, then they sent military advisers, then troops to protect military advisers, then troops to fight the Vietnamese.”
He warned the United States against following “an extremely dangerous path” and characterized U.S. Republican Senator John McCain as “trigger-happy.”
Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Tuesday the plan to arm the regime in Kiev is “aimed at destabilizing the situation in Ukraine.”
Evgeny Buzhinsky, a military expert at the Moscow-based PIR Center and a former lieutenant general in the Russian Army, told The Moscow Times “Russia would reasonably consider the U.S. to be a direct participant in the conflict” if it sends arms and will act accordingly.
Buzhinsky added that Russia would not only up the stakes in eastern Ukraine, but will “also respond asymmetrically against Washington or its allies on other fronts.”
“Moscow will not just sit by calmly and see what happens, it will counteract,” said Maxim Shepovalenko, an analyst at the Moscow-based Center for the Analysis of Strategy and Technology. “It would become tit-for-tat.”
Additionally, the Russians would consider U.S. arms shipments to Ukraine a violation of international law.
“If the U.S., following a request from the Ukrainian government, starts supplying weapons to Kiev, it will violate a number of international documents,” said Vitaly Churkin, Russia’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations. “The U.S. has repeatedly chosen a graded approach to rules of international law.”
(Infowars, feb 10th)
Did Europe just fold?
Moments ago Bloomberg blasted a headline which has to be validated by other members of the European Commission as well as Merkel and the other Germans (and may well be refuted, considering this is Europe), which said that:
So did Greece just win the first round of its stand off with Brussels? It remains to be confirmed, but congratulations to Greece if indeed it caused Merkel and the ECB to fold.
B What emerged as the biggest point of leverage overnight was the following threat reported hours ago by Reuters, citing the Greek defense minister Kammenos, who essentially threatened to go to Russia and/or China if Europe decline to cooperate. Per Reuters:
Greek Defence Minister Panos Kammenos said that if Greece failed to get a new debt agreement with the euro zone, it could always look elsewhere for help.
“What we want is a deal. But if there is no deal – hopefully (there will be) – and if we see that Germany remains rigid and wants to blow apart Europe, then we have the obligation to go to Plan B. Plan B is to get funding from another source,” he told Greek television show that ran in to early Tuesday. “It could the United States at best, it could be Russia, it could be China or other countries,” he said.
(zero hedge, feb 10th)
Less than twelve hours after receiving notice of the European Central Bank to cut funding to Greek banks, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras answered vehemently in a post that seems directed at Mario Draghi but also to all those that put sticks on wheels: “Greece will no longer accept more orders, especially orders received by email,” he asserted from the Greek Parliament in the first session of the SYRIZA parliamentary group.
The Greek Prime Minister has insisted that he will “put an end once and for all” to the austerity policies of the EU and negotiate a new agreement for Greece.“It is time to move on, not only in Greece but in Europe,” proclaimed the Greek president. In Athens, before the deputies of SYRIZA and after a tour of several European capitals, Tsipras said his government will not back down on its promises and that voters will not be fooled again: “Everyone can be sure that this Government will do what it says.“Tsipras has given a strong speech applauded by all his fellow ‘soldiers’. “Greece is no longer the unfortunate pal that listens to do its homework. Greece has its own voice,” Tsipras defended.The Greek president remains optimistic regarding the negotiations with European partners on debt and the rescue. “In one week we won allies who had not joined during the last five years of crisis,” he added.
The ECB announced last night that it will no longer accept Greek government debt as collateral, which de facto means cutting funding for the country and pressing for a new rescue.
The governing body led by Mario Draghi has made the financing option lines more expensive and restrictive. These liquidity has been used by three major Greek banks.
After the ECB decision, the number of investors rejecting Greek debt has soared. The interest given to Greek sovereign securities increased Thursday morning, with 10-year bonds and, above all, two-year bonds being the most affected.
European shares have started to decline, especially Madrid and Milan with a fall of around 0.6% in the Ibex.
Given the financial turmoil, the Greek prime minister has tried to dispel bad omens on the Greek economy: “We guarantee a stop to austerity, but also the country’s future in Europe, we ensure that deposits in Greek banks are fully guaranteed“, said Tsipras.
(Sleuth Journal, feb 10th)
The REAL Greek Negotiations: Situation Is “Berserk”, “There Is No Plan”, “Greeks Digging Own Graves”
Forget any conciliation: what is going on behind the scenes a day ahead of the Eurogroup meeting is nothing short of disaster.
“The Greeks are digging their own graves,” warns one EU official, according to MNI, with another exclaiming the Greek plan as “hopeless” and added “how can you have a plan when you make no payment obligation till the autumn and then you probably scrap that.” Simply put, speaking on condition of anonymity, an EU official described the situation as “berserk” adding “there is no plan.”
As MNI reports, EU officials are “infuriated” by ‘wildly misleading’ Greek claims…
The carefully orchestrated dance between the new Greek government and its European creditors appeared to crack Tuesday, with top Brussels officials infuriated by what they see as wildly misleading claims coming from Athens.
A senior European official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, described the situation as “berserk” and said, “there is no plan.”
“The Greeks are digging their own graves,” the EU official said.
At the start of the Tuesday, Greece floated its latest funding plan via press leaks, including to the Kathimerini newspaper, proposing a bridge financing programme that would lead to a “new deal” with creditors from September onwards.
There were reportedly four parts to the new deal: 30% of the existing memorandum with the Troika will be cancelled and replaced with 10 new reforms agreed with the OECD; Greece’s primary surplus target would be cut from 3% of GDP this year to 1.49%; Greek debt would be reduced via an already announced swap plan; and the “humanitarian crisis” would be alleviated via policies announced by Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras Sunday.
The first official described the plan as “hopeless” and added “how can you have a plan when you make no payment obligation till the autumn and then you probably scrap that.”
(zero hedge, feb 10th)
Hawaiian Independence Movement Attracts Chinese Interest
China has suggested arming Hawaii’s independence activists in retaliation for U.S. arms sales to Taiwan and recently threatened to challenge American sovereignty by making legal claims to the Pacific islands as its territory.
Chinese threats to back several groups of Hawaiian independence activists who want to restore the islands’ constitutional monarchy, ousted in a U.S.-backed coup over a century ago, has raised concerns that military facilities on the strategic central Pacific archipelago are threatened at a time when the Obama administration is engaged in a major shift toward Asia as part of its military and diplomatic rebalance.
(Free beacon, feb 10th)
Obama’s War Authorization Limits Ground Forces
Administration would be free to expand the war to other countries
President Barack Obama will soon give Congress his proposal for a new authorization for the use of military force against Islamic State fighters, and it will place strict limits on the types of U.S. ground forces that can be deployed, according to congressional sources.
Almost six months after the president began using force against the Islamic State advance in Iraq and then in Syria, the White House is ready to ask Congress for formal permission to continue the effort. Until now, the administration has maintained it has enough authority to wage war through the 2001 AUMF on al-Qaeda, the 2002 AUMF regarding Iraq and Article II of the Constitution. But under pressure from Capitol Hill, the White House has now completed the text of a new authorization and could send it to lawmakers as early as Wednesday.
If enacted, the president’s AUMF could effectively constrain the next president from waging a ground war against the Islamic State group until at least 2018. Aides warned that the White House may tweak the final details before releasing the document publicly.
In advance of the release, top White House and State Department officials have been briefing lawmakers and Congressional staffers about their proposed legislation. Two senior Congressional aides relayed the details to me.
The president’s AUMF for the fight against Islamic State would restrict the use of ground troops through a prohibition on “enduring offensive ground operations,” but provide several exemptions. First, all existing ground troops, including the 3,000 U.S. military personnel now on the ground in Iraq, would be explicitly excluded from the restrictions. After that, the president would be allowed to deploy new military personnel in several specific roles: advisers, special operations forces, Joint Terminal Attack Controllers to assist U.S. air strikes and Combat Search and Rescue personnel.
(bloomgberg, feb 10th)
U.S. AND WORLD ECONOMY______________
Exactly where are those job openings? Except for State and Local Goverment jobs, they’re mostly in the low pay service sectors. 61% of the job openings were in sectors that pay the lowest wages in the US economy.
These sectors also had the largest year to year percentage gains. The next largest sector was Manufacturing at 6% of the total. No other employment group had more than 4% of the jobs total.
Maybe that’s why new hires in December hit an all time record low as a percentage of job openings since the JOLTS survey began in 2000.
Let’s delve into how Bloomberg reported the story. First, there weren’t 5 million job openings. That number is made up via the spurious method of extrapolating annualized fictitious monthly seasonally adjusted data. If the monthly data is off, which it always is, just multiply the error by 12. That way you can make the annualized number even more spectacular.
The number of actual job openings was 4.43 million per the BLS. It was the biggest December on record so there really was no need to exaggerate.
(wall street examiner, feb 10th)
More robots coming to U.S. factories
Manufacturers will significantly accelerate their use of robots in U.S. factories over the next decade as they become cheaper and perform more tasks, constraining payroll growth, according to a study out Tuesday.
The development is expected to dramatically boost productivity and slow the long-standing migration of factories across the globe to take advantage of low-cost labor, says the Boston Consulting Group report.
"Advanced robotics are changing the calculus of manufacturing," says Harold Sirkin, a senior partner at the management consulting firm.
A handful of nations, including the U.S. and China, are poised to reap the biggest benefits of the automation wave.
About 1.2 million additional advanced robots are expected to be deployed in the U.S. by 2025, BCG says. Four industries will lead the shift — computer and electronics products; electrical equipment and appliances; transportation; and machinery — largely because more of their tasks can be automated and they deliver the biggest cost savings.
About 10% of all manufacturing functions are automated, a share that will rise to nearly 25% in a decade as robotic vision sensors and gripping systems improve, BCG says.
(usa today, feb 9th)
Food Stamp Beneficiaries Exceed 46,000,000 for 39 Straight Months
he number of beneficiaries on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), also known as food stamps, has topped 46,000,000 for 39 straight months, according to data released by the Department of Agriculture (USDA).
In November 2014, the latest month reported, there were 46,271,508 Americans on food stamps. Food stamp recipients have exceeded 46 million since September 2011.
(CNS news, feb 9th)
US Charges Iowa Widow Over How She Deposited Husband's Cash
An Iowa widow is charged with a crime and had nearly $19,000 seized from her bank after depositing her late husband's legally earned money in a way that evaded federal reporting requirements.
Janet Malone, 68, of Dubuque, is facing civil and criminal proceedings under a law intended to help investigators track large sums of cash tied to criminal activity such as drug trafficking and terrorism. But some members of Congress and libertarian groups have complained that the IRS and federal prosecutors are unfairly using it against ordinary people who deposit lawfully obtained money in increments below $10,000.
At issue is a law requiring banks to report deposits of more than $10,000 cash to the federal government. Anyone who breaks deposits into increments below that level to avoid the requirement is committing a crime known as "structuring" — whether their money is legal or not.
The IRS has increasingly used civil forfeiture proceedings to seize money from individuals and small businesses suspected of structuring violations, according to a review by the Institute for Justice, a libertarian group. The agency seized $242 million in 2,500 cases from 2005 to 2012 — a third of which arose from nothing more than cash transactions under $10,000. Nearly half was returned after owners challenged the action, often a year later.
(AP, feb 10th)
llegal immigrants squeeze school budgets
Washington-area schools are facing budget crises as a result of an influx of immigrant students, according to a recent report.
Since the 2005-06 school year, the percent of students enrolled in English proficiency classes has increased by an average of nearly 70 percent across seven school districts in the D.C. metro area, according to a report by the advocacy group, Federation for American Immigration Reform, which promotes tighter border security, an end to illegal immigration and reduced levels of legal immigration.
Those classes cost an average of about one quarter of each district’s budget, and the chunk is getting larger as new students, many of them illegal immigrants or children of illegal immigrants, enroll in English-as-a-second-language classes.
“Education programs are being cut,” said the report’s author, Eric Ruark. “We’re not saying that [English proficiency classes] are the cause, but it’s certainly taking money away from them.”
(washington examiner, feb 10th)
If you’ve ever filed a public records request with your local police department to learn more about how cell-site simulators are used in your community—chances are good that the FBI knows about it. And the FBI will attempt to “prevent disclosure” of such information.
Not only can these devices, commonly known as "stingrays," be used to determine a phone’s location, but they can also intercept calls and text messages. During the act of locating a phone, stingrays also sweep up information about nearby phones. Last fall, Ars reported on how a handful of cities across America are currently upgrading to new hardware that can target 4G LTE phones.
The newest revelation about the FBI comes from a June 2012 letter written by the law enforcement agency to the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension. It was first acquired and published by the Minneapolis Star Tribune in December 2014—similar language likely exists between the FBI and other local authorities that use stingrays.
(ARS technica, feb 10th)
TSA Demands Internal Passport for Domestic Travel
Over the Christmas season, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) quietly announced that America was walking down that path. By 2016, all domestic air travel will require either a traditional passport or a federally-compliant ID card called “Real ID.” State driver’s licenses will no longer allow Americans access to domestic flights, as they do now. Real ID will constitute an internal passport. (The drop-date date is commonly reported as January.)
An internal passport refers to an identity document that people must produce to move from place to place within national borders. It allows a government to monitor the movement of its own people and to control that movement by granting or denying ID. In the past, governments have used internal passports to isolate ‘undesirables’, to regulate economic opportunities, to reap personal data, to intimidate and command obedience, and to segregate categories of people (like Jews) for political purposes. It allows a government to bind anyone it chooses to his or her place of birth.
The upcoming Real ID requirement targets only air travel. But that’s how it begins – with airports.
After people became numb to years of ID demands, questioning and searches at airports, those tactics spread to train stations and subways. Then highway check-points were established in areas that lay within 100 miles from an “external boundary,” including coasts. U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents now have the authority to stop a traveller if they have “reasonable suspicion” of an immigration violation or other crime. Although the agents do not currently have authority to demand ID from American citizens, they often do so.
(safe haven, feb 10th)
After a 17-year-old shot three people at the Monroeville Mall, CBL and Associates, the mall owner, said it will card and eject unaccompanied minors from the mall on Fridays and Saturdays after 6 p.m. beginning on Feb. 27.
“We’ve examined a lot of our incidences over the past year and found that a lot of the problems that have occurred have been a result of unsupervised youth,” Stacey Keating, CBL’s corporate marketing specialist, told KDKA money editor Jon Delano on Monday.
“They’ve instituted this in about 25 of their malls, and it’s a very successful policy,” noted Monroeville mayor Gregory Erosenko who supports this Youth Escort Policy. “We’re certainly going to put our arms around it.”
Implementing this will require security guards to check anyone who looks under 18.
“Security officers are going to be prepared to ask for identification if a person’s age cannot be easily determined and they appear to be under the age of 18,” added Keating.
The carding may occur at mall entrances or within the mall — with minors required to have a parent, grandparent, aunt or uncle, or guardian with them.
Older siblings don’t count, and it’s one adult for every three children.
(CBS pittsburgh, feb 9th)
A new robot designed for the US Army by Google fits the criteria of a 2008 Pentagon request for the development of a system which could detect and track “non-cooperative” humans in “pursuit/evasion scenarios”.
Spot is the latest military robot developed by Boston Dynamics, which was bought by Google last year. The robot is far more agile than its larger predecessor, Big Dog, and can run around at high speed both outside and indoors.
Video footage of the new robot shows its ability to recover from being kicked, even on icy surfaces.
The fact that Spot can operate indoors is somewhat ominous given a 2008 Pentagon request for contractors to build, “A software and sensor package to enable a team of robots to search for and detect human presence in an indoor environment.”
The proposal called for the development of robots, “to search for and detect a non-cooperative human subject” during “pursuit/evasion scenarios,” directing that they have the ability to “intelligently and autonomously search”.
The New Scientist’s Paul Marks responded to the story by asking, “How long before we see packs of droids hunting down pesky demonstrators with paralysing weapons? Or could the packs even be lethally armed?”
Steve Wright, an expert on police and military technologies from Leeds Metropolitan University, also warned that such robots would eventually be armed.
(Infowars, feb 10th)
Video: Cops Attack Man For Trying To Record Altercation
Police Chief insinuates the phone could have been a weapon
he disturbing trend of police cracking down on the use of cell phones to record their actions continues with a report out of New Jersey, where a man was jumped on and attacked by several officers for attempting to film an altercation.
Aaron Bland says he was walking down a main road in Atlantic City with a co-worker, minding his own business, when a police officer pulled up beside them in a vehicle and ordered the pair to stop and answer some questions.
Bland says he politely refused and continued walking down the street, prompting officer Juliann Schewenger to jump out of the vehicle and get in Bland’s face. The cop told Bland that he looked like a suspect and demanded some ID.
Bland then began to fear for his well being and took out his phone to begin recording. The scene that followed looked like this:
(Infowars, feb 10th)
Cop Points Gun at 14-yo Boy Playing on Balcony, ‘Accidentally’ Pulls Trigger, Shoots Him
A Baltimore County police officer shot a 14-year-old boy Monday night while moonlighting as an apartment complex security guard.
Police said two security guards were working off-duty at the Woodridge apartment complex who were investigating reports of people inside apartments that were under construction.
The officer who shot the teen told police that he saw someone come out on a balcony. He said he was pointing his weapon at the balcony, and it simply went off.
The officer “was pointing the weapon in the direction of the balcony” when “his weapon discharged accidentally,” the department said in a statement.
(free thought project, feb 10th)
In 1948, the first widely used vaccine was introduced; it was made by killing the pertussis bacterium with an antiseptic and injecting it into the body. The whole-cell vaccine, as it came to be called, was loaded with several thousand proteins, including toxins, that fired up the immune system and clamped down on the disease.
In the decades that followed, whooping cough deaths and cases dropped dramatically. But the vaccine also caused side effects, including pain at the injection site, fevers and persistent crying in some children, and in rare cases seizures.
The 1982 NBC News documentary "DPT: Vaccine Roulette" went further, claiming the pertussis vaccine could cause permanent brain damage, said Paul Offit, director of the Vaccine Education Center and a professor of pediatrics in the division of infectious diseases at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.
Another claim was by Klein who was the lead author of a 2013 study in the journal Pediatrics comparing the effectiveness of the older and newer vaccines in a 2010-'11 pertussis outbreak in California. It showed that teenagers who got four doses of the newer vaccine were nearly six times more likely to get pertussis than teens who got four doses of the older vaccine.
In 2012, Darr was driving along a country road when she began coughing so violently that she passed out.
"I knew I needed to pull over," said Darr, 44, who lives in Pittsville. "I woke up in the woods."
She said she suffered a broken rib and some contusions, and had to climb out the back door because the car was in trees.
She had to stop driving for nearly two months until her coughing went away. Darr, who was working as a substitute teacher at the time, contracted whooping cough at her school even though she had been vaccinated as a child.
She has since gotten an adult booster shot.
"There is a tendency to think of vaccines as essentially making us bulletproof against the pathogen," Rohani said. A person can get whooping cough as a child, then get it again as an adult.
Even those, like Camille Petersons, who still get whooping cough after being vaccinated are much more likely to have a milder case than if they had not been vaccinated at all, said James Cherry, a pediatric infectious disease expert at the UCLA School of Medicine.
That may have been what happened to 5-year-old Annie Matkom last November.
She was taken to the doctor on a Saturday and the next day the family was called. Though she had received all of her vaccinations, she tested positive for pertussis, her mother said, admitting, "I was shocked."
Both Annie and her family had to go on a five-day course of antibiotics so they would not spread the illness.
"I really don't know how or why she got it," her mother said.
(Journal Sentinel, jan 31st)
9 MIN VIDEO REPORT:
Can a measles outbreak START with a twice vaccinated person?
If a person develops measles from an MMR vaccine, can it be transmitted to others?
The pharmaceutical industry, and the media it owns, pretend those aren’t possible and scapegoat the unvaccinated as the threat.
But little known outbreaks tell us otherwise.
Whistleblowers in the industry reveal there is a deliberate effort to overstate the effectiveness of the vaccines, while the safety risks are downplayed.
Are the pharmaceutical industry, the media and the government telling you the truth about risk percentages or are they only concerned about profits?
(Infowars, feb 10th)
81 Percent of Dollar Store Products Tested Contain Chemicals Linked To Learning Disabilities, Cancer and Serious Illnesses
164 dollar store products contained at least one hazardous chemical above levels of concern
(prevent disease, feb 10th)
Power napping really IS good for you: A 30-minute snooze can repair the damage caused by a lack of sleep, study finds
-Naps help relieve stress and bolster the immune system, study finds
-Scientists hope findings will help shift workers and insomnia sufferers
-Sleep deprivation increases risk of obesity, diabetes and depression
-New research found 30-minute nap helps repair damage of too little sleep
(daily mail, feb 10th)
Town Posts Signs Warning Criminals: ‘This Is Not A Gun Free Zone’
Pennsylvania town wants criminals to know residents pack heat
A community in Pennsylvania is hoping an investment in road signs will pay off by deterring criminal activity.
Conoy Township officials approved signs warning would-be criminals, “This Is Not A Gun Free Zone,” to be placed along roads leading into the community.
The township, with a population of about 3,300 people, appropriated $500 to purchase 16 roadside signs that both welcome visitors and warn crooks they’re entering a pro-gun zone.
The town reportedly took into consideration results of a Justice Department study, compiled by Gun Owners of America, showing that “3/5 of felons polled agreed that ‘a criminal is not going to mess around with a victim he knows is armed with a gun.’”
Additionally, “74% of felons polled agreed that ‘one reason burglars avoid houses when people are at home is that they fear being shot during the crime,” and “57% of felons polled agreed that ‘criminals are more worried about meeting an armed victim than they are about running into the police.’”
Of course, the effectiveness of touting a town’s pro-gun laws is best exemplified by the town of Kennesaw, Georgia, where the crime rate virtually ceased after a 1982 law required every household to possess a firearm.
(infowars, feb 10th)
Open carry gun advocates join rally outside Oregon Capitol
Several demonstrators carrying semi-automatic rifles joined a rally outside the Oregon Capitol Monday organized by opponents of legislation they say would limit their constitutional rights.
The Heirs of Patrick Henry, Northwest organized the rally and urged activists to lobby legislators afterwards.
“We’re just trying to send a message to the Legislative assembly that we won’t tolerate any encroachment on our liberties,” said Casey Runyan, an organizer with the group.
In advance of the rally, the Oregon State Police set up checkpoints at the entrance to screen people for weapons upon entering the Capitol. Large signs outside reminded demonstrators that only people with concealed handgun licenses can carry firearms into the Capitol.
(Oregon Live, feb 10th)
100 ancient 'sex cult' sites found in Israel: Mysterious 8,000 year old stone circles filled with phallic carvings discovered in mountains
-Sites in the Eilat mountains contain phallic stone structures
-Contained stone circles with phallic carvings pointing to the centre
-Researchers believe hundreds more sites may exist in the region
(daily mail, feb 10th)
New research by the website Quartz goes some way to confirming a three-year-old study that showed people in south-east Asia were more likely to claim to be Facebook-users than internet-users.
That research from Helani Galpaya in Thailand, the Philippines, Indonesia and Burma, saw her then boss at the LIRNEasia thinktank remark: “It seemed that in their minds, the internet did not exist; only Facebook.”
(Indepedent, feb 10th)
Hitachi High Technologies, a subsidiary of ovens-to-trains conglomerate Hitachi, says its new happiness measuring device will let bosses know if they run a happy office -- or if their employees are secretly bored at work.
The company has developed a credit-card size wearable device loaded with sensors that determine where the wearer is and whether he or she is sitting, standing, typing or nodding.
It also records who is talking to whom and for how long, among other activities.
The data is then sent back to a base unit, which calculates the happiness of the group as a whole by comparing the patterns of activity with pre-determined patterns from groups who report being... well, happy.
(hindu stan times, feb 10th)
While politicians are focused on all the foreigners who want to become Americans, perhaps they should consider all the Americans who are becoming foreigners.
According to the latest data from the Treasury Department, spotted by Andrew Mitchel at the International Tax Blog, a record 3,415 Americans renounced their citizenship in 2014. That was up from the 2,999 in 2013 and more than triple the number for 2012.
(CNBC, feb 10th)
Pacific Typhoon Higos has formed in the tropical West Pacific. What makes this storm unusual is that it has formed at the least likely time of year, climatologically speaking.
North Pacific typhoons have formed in all calendar months, but a Japanese analysis of the dates they form suggests that Feb. 11 is the least likely date. This date can be considered the beginning (or end) of the typhoon season.
So, Typhoon Higos might be considered the latest north Pacific typhoon on record. Or maybe it’s the earliest (there was a Feb. 15, 1965 typhoon that had been considered the earliest). It all depends upon when you decide the start/end date of typhoon season is.
One thing for sure is that a typhoon in mid-February is rare, indeed. According to this historical list going back 65 years, no typhoons have ever formed during the week of 8-14 February.
(DR roy spencer, feb 10th)
Record Snow Blankets Massachusetts; New Storm Expected to Hit Thursday
Six feet of snow in the last month and counting.
Bostonians have had it up to their eyeballs with the winter of 2015.
“I can’t believe this is my neighborhood. It’s wild,” Amy McHugh of Weymouth, Massachusetts, told CNN affiliate WCVB-TV. “I keep telling the kids, ‘You’re going to be telling your kids about this.’ It’s unimaginable.”
Not only unimaginable, but record-setting.
“It’s only been 14 days, and we’ve gotten 70 to 80 inches of snow around the commonwealth,” Gov. Charlie Baker said. “This is pretty much unprecedented.
(KTLA, feb 10th)
The school where snow is BANNED: Primary banned pupils from going outside and closed blinds so they couldn't watch it fall
-Teachers ordered eight and nine-year-olds inside when it began snowing
-Message on school website said staff took decision for 'safety' reasons
-Angry parents said children were barred from even touching snow
(Daily mail, feb 9th)
Jenner Speculation Comes at Key Time for Transgender Rights
Whether or not Olympic legend Bruce Jenner becomes its new champion, the transgender-rights movement is making remarkable strides on many fronts — ranging from mass-media visibility to legal protections.
(ABC news, feb 10th)