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Tuesday, February 17, 2015

NEWS FOR 2/16/2015 Monday February 16th 2015



MI5 is facing allegations it was complicit in the sexual abuse of children, the high court in Northern Ireland will hear on Tuesday.

Victims of the abuse are taking legal action to force a full independent inquiry with the power to compel witnesses to testify and the security service to hand over documents.

The case, in Belfast, is the first in court over the alleged cover-up of British state involvement at the Kincora children’s home in Northern Ireland in the 1970s. It is also the first of the recent sex abuse cases allegedly tying in the British state directly. Victims allege that the cover-up over Kincora has lasted decades.

(guardian, feb 15th)

By executive fiat, the Obama administration intends to eliminate one of the most common types of .223-caliber ammunition, used by the AR-15 and other general-purpose rifles.

Why? Ostensibly because a type of handgun developed in recent years is also capable of firing the so-called “armor-piercing” or “green-tipped” rounds traditionally fired only by rifles.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives announced on Feb. 14 a proposed ban on the manufacture, sale or importation of a popular form of ammunition used by thousands of law-abiding gun owners. Within hours of the announcement, the prices on the green-tipped .223-caliber rounds started skyrocketing.

The rule change affects the Gun Control Act of 1968 as amended by Congress in 1986. Under pressure from the law-enforcement lobby, Congress in 1986 inserted language into the law designed to prevent so-called “cop killer” bullets from being used by pistol-toting criminals.

The law was never intended in its original form to affect ammunition for rifles, as it was a given that rounds from any high-powered hunting rifle could penetrate the soft armor worn by officers.

“This is just another example of the Obama administration using executive authority to attack the rights of gun owners,” said Alan Gottlieb, founder and executive vice president of the Second Amendment Foundation. “Obama thinks he is ‘dictator in chief’ and can go around Congress to ban ammunition and punish legitimate gun owners. The Obama administration has doubled down on their war on gun owners.”

The Conservative Tribune said the move was an obvious political ploy.

“Obama is really stretching saying that M855 ammunition is an ‘armor piercing’ round being used in a handgun. The goal is obviously political… to ban common ammo to undermine the Second Amendment,” the Tribune said. “The White House knows that it can’t ban the firearms so going after the ammunition is the next best thing.”

(WND, feb 16th)

Bloomberg Blocks Footage Of His Calls For More Minority Gun Control
On February 7 2015 , I reported on a speech by Michael Bloomberg in which he suggested banning young minority males from gun ownership.

He made that suggestion during a February 5 speech at the Aspen Institute and has now asked the Institute not to release footage of the speech to the public.

    According to the Summit Daily, “Michael Bloomberg representatives have asked the Institute not to distribute footage of…[the] appearance…where the three-term New York City mayor made pointed comments concerning minorities and gun control.”

    Both the Institute and Grassroots TV, “the organization that filmed the event,” are honoring Bloomberg’s wishes and “will not broadcast the footage online or on television as planned.”

During the speech, Bloomberg talked about persons who are “male, minority, and between the ages of 15 and 25.” He claimed that “95 percent of all murders fall into this category,” so taking guns from them would not only reduce crime, but would also “keep them alive.”

He said “cities need to get guns out of [the]…hands” of young, male minorities for these reasons.

(Ammoland, feb 16th)

Geoengineering Is Changing Extratropical Cyclones Which Drive Most of The Earth’s Weather

NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory has found aerosol pollution is changing weather and climate

Intense geoengineering activity across the planet is influencing weather patterns globally to unprecedented levels. After studying one year of video on aerosols emission and transport, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory has found aerosol pollution is changing weather and climate around the planet and strengthening extratropical cyclones–a type of storm system that drives much of the world’s weather.

Scientists call airborne particles of any sort — human-produced or natural — aerosols. However, human-produced aerosals are now a top contributing source of pollution and a major concern, especially due to operations by international governments through military aircraft which pollute the sky almost daily to influence climate. The simplest effect of increasing aerosols is to increase clouds. To form clouds, airborne water vapor needs particles on which to condense. With more aerosols, there can be more or thicker clouds.

(Prevent Disease, feb 15th)

Sen. Sessions Releases Lengthy Timeline Of Obama Administration’s Dismantling Of Immigration Law

In a lengthy timeline released Monday, Sessions — the chairman of the Subcommittee on Immigration and the National Interest — lists every instance of the Obama administration ignoring, rewriting, delaying and breaking the nation’s immigration laws.

The timeline begins in January 2009 with the administration ending worksite enforcement actions and, 50 pages later, ends on February 13, 2015 with the House Judiciary Committee’s revelation that the administration included a “sneaky” avenue for illegal immigrants granted deferred status to be placed on a pathway to citizenship.


(breitbart, Feb 16TH)

Obama bundlers slow to back Clinton super PACS
Only a tiny fraction of the fundraisers who helped President Obama secure a second term have made significant contributions to the committee backing a potential run by Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton, a USA TODAY analysis shows.

Of the 769 individuals and couples who raised money for Obama, just 54 people and firms have donated at least $5,000 to Ready for Hillary, the super PAC that has spent two years working to build grass-roots support for a Clinton campaign, according to the analysis.

(USA today, feb 13th)

In D.C., fears of chaos grow as legal pot nears

The District of Columbia could soon earn a new nickname: the Wild West of marijuana.

In 10 days, a voter-approved initiative to legalize marijuana will take effect, D.C. officials say. Residents and visitors old enough to drink a beer will be able to possess enough pot to roll 100 joints. They will be able to carry it, share it, smoke it and grow it.

But it’s entirely unclear how anyone will obtain it. Unlike the four states where voters have approved recreational pot use, the District government has been barred from establishing rules governing how marijuana will be sold. It was prohibited from doing so by Congress, which has jurisdiction over the city.

(washington post, feb 15th)

WAR ON TERROR__________

Pentagon Deploys Boots on the Ground for ISIS War

Stars and Stripes reports more than 4,000 Fort Carson soldiers with the 3rd Brigade Combat Team left Colorado for Kuwait last week.

The deployment reveals the Pentagon plans to use tanks and armored vehicles in the war against ISIS, the terrorist army it trained at a secret base in Jordan.

“The unit is Fort Carson’s heaviest force, armed with M1 tanks and Bradley fighting vehicles. Many of its soldiers are veterans of one or more of the brigade’s four combat tours in Iraq,” Stars and Stripes reports.

On Thursday, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, said U.S. troops will not see combat in Syria and Iraq.

“You have to get the Iraqis and ultimately the Syrian moderate opposition groups up so they can fight the fight on the ground,” she said. “There has to be a fight on the ground. You can’t do this by air. Everybody acknowledges that.”

In November, the last moderate rebel groups fighting against the al-Assad government surrendered to al-Nusra, the al-Qaeda spawned terror group aligned with the Islamic State.

In January 3,000 Free Syria Army fighters defected to ISIS.

(Infowars, feb 16th)

Egypt Strikes Back: Up to 50 ISIL Militants Reported Killed in Libya

According to state television Egyptian Air Force has killed between 40 and 50 Islamic State militants during airstrikes in Libya

(Sputnik, feb 16th)


By Standards Of Immigration Hawks, All 2016 GOP Contenders Support ‘Amnesty’

The immigration reform debate centers around many issues, but probably none is more explosive than what should be done about the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants currently residing in the United States. The loudest critics of comprehensive immigration reform in the Republican Party demand that there be no “amnesty,” which they define as any pathway to normalizing the immigration statuses of America’s illegal population, no matter whether those illegals would be forced to pay a financial penalty or even prevented from gaining citizenship.

Yet, despite the issue garnering so much ink, the reality is every major candidate supports an immigration policy that includes an “amnesty,” at least as defined by the GOP’s most ardent and vocal immigration hawks.

(daily caller, feb 16th)

GOP cools on Loretta Lynch

To be confirmed by the Senate, attorney general nominee Loretta Lynch only needs four Republicans to support her nomination. But it is unclear where those votes will come from.

Sen. Orrin Hatch (Utah) is the only Republican so far who has signaled his intention to vote for Lynch, though several others have spoken favorably about her.

But many Republicans are expressing concerns about Lynch's stance on immigration and what they suggest is a lack of “independence" from the White House.

Lynch’s confirmation was pushed back by two weeks Thursday amid “anonymous" objections from some Republicans. But Democrats say they are dragging their feet.

"What we’re trying to do is get an indication from her of the independence that she’s going to have from the White House,” Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) told The Hill.

"I think [Attorney General Eric] Holder is running the Justice Department like a wing of the White House,” he added. "That’s not right, and I want her to show us that she can be independent.”

Holder has had a testy relationship with Republicans at the best of times. The nomination of Lynch was initially seen as a move that had the potential to ease those tensions.

Lynch received a friendly reception from Republicans during her 8-hour confirmation hearing last month. And one GOP-friendly argument in her favor is that her confirmation would bring down the curtain on Holder’s tenure.

"Admittedly, a lot on my side have felt that they would like to get a new attorney general there, because they’re not very happy with the current one,” said Hatch, “and this is one way that can happen. “

Other Republicans such as Grassley and Sen. Jeff Flake (Ariz.) have indicated they are impressed with Lynch’s qualifications as a federal prosecutor, a role in which she enjoyed a reputation for being tough but fair on crime.

(The hill, feb 16th)

US Senate Armed Services Chairman John McCain has said that the United States has been training young Syrians in order to topple President Bashar al-Assad.

"training Syrians to fight against President Assad," McCain says " restrain [the president] in our authorization of him taking military action, I think frankly, is unconstitutional..."

(press tv, feb 16th)

U.S. GOVERNMENT_____________________

C.I.A. Is Said to Have Bought and Destroyed Iraqi Chemical Weapons

The Central Intelligence Agency, working with American troops during the occupation of Iraq, repeatedly purchased nerve-agent rockets from a secretive Iraqi seller, part of a previously undisclosed effort to ensure that old chemical weapons remaining in Iraq did not fall into the hands of terrorists or militant groups, according to current and former American officials.

The extraordinary arms purchase plan, known as Operation Avarice, began in 2005 and continued into 2006, and the American military deemed it a nonproliferation success. It led to the United States’ acquiring and destroying at least 400 Borak rockets, one of the internationally condemned chemical weapons that Saddam Hussein’s Baathist government manufactured in the 1980s but that were not accounted for by United Nations inspections mandated after the 1991 Persian Gulf war.

The effort was run out of the C.I.A. station in Baghdad in collaboration with the Army’s 203rd Military Intelligence Battalion and teams of chemical-defense and explosive ordnance disposal troops, officials and veterans of the units said. Many rockets were in poor condition and some were empty or held a nonlethal liquid, the officials said. But others contained the nerve agent sarin, which analysis showed to be purer than the intelligence community had expected given the age of the stock.

A New York Times investigation published in October found that the military had recovered thousands of old chemical warheads and shells in Iraq and that Americans and Iraqis had been wounded by them, but the government kept much of this information secret, from the public and troops alike.

(NYT, feb 16)

The US National Security Agency has figured out how to hide spying software deep within hard drives made by Western Digital, Seagate, Toshiba and other top manufacturers, giving the agency the means to eavesdrop on the majority of the world’s computers, according to cyber researchers and former operatives.

That long-sought and closely guarded ability was part of a cluster of spying programs discovered by Kaspersky Lab, the Moscow-based security software maker that has exposed a series of Western cyberespionage operations.

Kaspersky said it found personal computers in 30 countries infected with one or more of the spying programs, with the most infections seen in Iran, followed by Russia, Pakistan, Afghanistan, China, Mali, Syria, Yemen and Algeria. The targets included government and military institutions, telecommunication companies, banks, energy companies, nuclear researchers, media, and Islamic activists, Kaspersky said.

(Stuff, feb 16th)

Are Spy Agencies Funding Weather Weapon Research?

Professor said the US had used weather in a hostile way in the 1960s

However concerns have been raised as to who would control the climate altering technologies.

During a debate on geoengineering to combat climate change, a leading climate scientist spoke of his concerns that the intelligence services are funding the research to find out if the new technologies could be used as potential weapons.

Professor Alan Robock from Rutgers University in New Jersey told the American Association for the Advancement of Science conference in San Jose that he felt ‘scared’ when an organisation claiming to represent the CIA asked him about the possibility of weaponised weather.

Professor Robock said: “I got a phone call from two men who said we work as consultants for the CIA and we’d like to know if some other country was controlling our climate, would we know about it?

“I told them, that we probably would because if you put enough material in the atmosphere to reflect sunlight we would be able to detect it and see the equipment that was putting it up there.

Robock says the research on geoengineering must be open and international to avoid it “being used for hostile purposes”.

(sputnik, feb 16th)

Democrats seek relief from health law penalties

The official sign-up season for President Barack Obama's health care law may be over, but leading congressional Democrats say millions of Americans facing new tax penalties deserve a second chance.

Three senior House members told The Associated Press that they plan to strongly urge the administration to grant a special sign-up opportunity for uninsured taxpayers who will be facing fines under the law for the first time this year.

The three are Michigan's Sander Levin, the ranking Democrat on the Ways and Means Committee, and Democratic Reps. Jim McDermott of Washington, and Lloyd Doggett of Texas. All worked to help steer Obama's law through rancorous congressional debates from 2009-2010.

The lawmakers say they are concerned that many of their constituents will find out about the penalties after it's already too late for them to sign up for coverage, since open enrollment ended Sunday.

That means they could wind up uninsured for another year, only to owe substantially higher fines in 2016. The fines are collected through the income tax system.

This year is the first time ordinary Americans will experience the complicated interactions between the health care law and taxes. Based on congressional analysis, tax preparation giant H&R Block says roughly 4 million uninsured people will pay penalties.

(AP, feb 16th)

VA ‘I CARE’ slogan slammed by veterans, employees as mockery of reform

The embattled Veterans Affairs Department, now ranked by a government watchdog as among the most troubled federal agencies, is reminding employees in a memo why they should care about their work.

The document circulating among employees is titled the “I CARE Quick Reference” sheet, and it spells out the desired core values of the VA: integrity, commitment, advocacy, respect and excellence. The memo says the VA is “a model of unrivaled excellence due to employees who are empowered, trusted by their leaders, and respected for their competence and dedication.”

But after a year in which VA officials were accused of keeping secret waiting lists and concealing delayed care for veterans, some agency employees and veterans are questioning the “I CARE” program as a cosmetic effort that will do little to improve services.

“Management has made a mockery of it,” said one VA employee, who asked not to be named for fear of retaliation.

The head of a veterans group said veterans and active-duty service members are still waiting for “real, meaningful change” in the VA’s quality and promptness of health care services.

“Adopting a catchy acronym and circulating a checklist is not enough,” said Pete Hegseth, CEO of Concerned Veterans for America. “It’s easy to put on an ‘I CARE’ pin, but it doesn’t matter unless you actually demonstrate that care through your actions and the results you deliver. That’s what veterans, military members and their families are looking for: real results, not a slogan.”

(washington times, feb 15th)

Federal judge halts Obama's amnesty orders

Boehner says ruling should clear path for Homeland Security funding

A federal judge in Texas on Monday granted a temporary injunction halting President Obama’s executive-order driven amnesty program.

The ruling from U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen ordered the government not to proceed with any portion of the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents, DAPA.

(WND, feb 16th)

POLICE STATE__________________

Two Chicago police officers are suing the city after they were outed for blowing the whistle on corruption. Now they’re also getting death threats for being “rats.”

Officers Shannon Spalding and Daniel Echeverria were involved in a 2012 investigation that led to charges against two officers accused of stealing proceeds from drug dealers. However, the department pulled the plug on the investigation before several suspected officers were investigated.

However, Spalding and Echeverria’s role in the undercover sting was intentionally leaked within the department, they said. That led to rampant harassment by other officers and ostracism within the force. That led the two to file a legal complaint.

Another officer, 20-year department veteran Janet Hanna has corroborated the harassment after they were assigned to her fugitive apprehension unit. She has testified that her bosses told officers they were to refuse any requests from Spalding and Echeverria for backup, setting up the possibility of a reenactment of a scene in Serpico where whistleblower Frank Serpico — played by Al Pacino — is shot by a dealer after his colleagues refuse to provide support.

Spalding was told that she had better wear a bulletproof vest or she might end up going home “in a casket.”

“It’s no secret that if you go against the code of silence, and you report corruption, it will ruin your career,” Spalding told a local Chicago news station

(Sputnik, feb 16th)

In rare move, local cops reveal details to judges on “stingray” use

One of the largest local police departments in the American South has revised its surveillance applications to judges, making its judicial requests to use cell-site simulators much more explicit for the first time.

According to the Charlotte Observer, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department (CMPD) in North Carolina has “revised court papers that judges review before granting officers permission to track phones, in an effort to ‘improve the effectiveness of the process and provide greater transparency.’"

The CMPD did not immediately respond to Ars’ request for comment and a copy of the new applications.

These devices, commonly known as "stingrays," can 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. Earlier this month, Ars reported on how the FBI is actively trying to “prevent disclosure” of how these devices are used in local jurisdictions across America.

The Observer added in its Sunday report:

    The agency would not provide examples of the new documents, but said the applications more clearly describe investigative tactics, including cellphone tracking.

    CMPD says it now includes definitions for each type of equipment officers deploy in its applications to judges. Documents also provide more information in each case about the legal grounds for an officer to make an arrest or search a property.

“Certainly the degree of transparency, this is very, very unique and it’s a pleasure to see,” Chris Soghoian, a privacy researcher at the American Civil Liberties Union and an expert on stingrays, told Ars. “It’s huge. It’s great that they’ve moved in this direction, but this isn’t happening in every town in America. In most parts of America, judges still don’t know what they’re being asked to authorize. In most parts of the country, police are keeping courts in the dark, in some cases intentionally. In most parts of the country, most courts don't have enough information to do their job.”

(ARS technica, feb 16th)

A cop who has been fired and now faces third-degree assault charges after brutally paralyzing a 74 year old man has received support from an online campaign that has already raised over $3000.

In a bizarre turn of events, an Indiegogo campaign has been set up by pro-police supporters for Officer Eric Parker of Madison, Alabama.

(Infowars, feb 16th)

A lawsuit was filed, and charges have been dropped after dash cam video was released showing St. Louis cops turning off their cameras prior to further assaulting an 18-year-old man.

In a prime example of why police are lobbying to make their camera footage secret, St. Louis cops were caught coordinating the turning-off of their cameras during an arrest.

Officers who were following up on a report of shots fired pulled over Cortez Bufford at 10:00 pm on April 10, 2014. The video, released by Buford’s lawyer, Joel Schwartz, shows city officers pull Bufford from a car, kick him repeatedly and shock him with a taser.

Officers Nathaniel Burkemper and Michael Binz were the officers who originally pulled over Buford and his passenger. According to Burkemper’s report, both men in the Taurus raised their hands when asked.

(Free thought project, feb 16th)

A Minnesota man was released from jail this week after spending close to three months in custody for possession of vitamins.

The man, 31-year-old Joseph Burrell, was arrested last November after police claimed that a vitamin powder found in his vehicle was actually illegal amphetamines.

Charged with two counts of felony drug possession, Burrell was incarcerated on $250,000 bail while the substance awaited final testing at the state crime lab.

“I told the judge I couldn’t plead guilty to something I knew wasn’t a drug,” Burrell told the Mankato Free Press. “They set my bail at $250,000 for vitamins.”

After spending weeks behind bars, Burrell was quietly released only days before his trial. Man Released after Months in Jail for Possession of Vitamins

“I had been sitting in the jail since November with my bail set at $250,000,” Burrell said. “Then, two days before trial, they dropped the charges and let me go.”

Lab analysis corroborated Burrell’s claims after the powder did in fact turn out to be mere vitamins, not speed, as officers had claimed.

Even more concerning, Burrell stated that police waited more than a month to send the evidence to the crime lab after his arrest.

Similarly, the crime lab also waited one month after testing the substance to return it back to prosecutors.

As deplorable as Burrell’s situation is, many have not fared as favorably.

A multi-year investigation into the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s crime lab by the Department of Justice uncovered rampant tampering of evidence.

(Infowars, feb 16th)

In a situation reminiscent of the Shaneen Allen case, a 72-year-old retired school teacher in New Jersey faces a 10-year felony sentence (a likely life sentence) and the jeopardization of his pension for possession of an unloaded 300-year-old flintlock pistol.

Gordon Van Gilder taught school for 34 years and is a collector of 18th-century memorabilia. He acquired an antique flintlock pistol from that era and had it unloaded and wrapped in a cloth in his glove compartment when he was pulled over for an alleged minor traffic violation.

Van Gilder consented to a requested search of his vehicle.

“When asked by the officer if there was anything in the car the officer should be worried about,” wrote Andrew Branca on Legal Insurrection, “Van Gilder informed him about the flintlock in the glove box. Although not arrested that day, the next morning several patrol cars woke him at his home and placed him under arrest.”

New Jersey has some of the strictest gun laws in the nation, and it classifies antique firearms the same way it classifies regular guns. Attorney Evan Nappen, who specializes in gun law cases, said despite the antique nature of the flintlock pistol, Van Gilder is “facing the same draconian penalty as if he had a .44 magnum loaded on his person … There’s no distinction.”

(WND, feb 16th)

NEW COLD WAR______________

On February 16, Brussels sanctioned 19 more Russian and Donbas officials. Its blacklist totals 151 individuals, as well as 37 Russian companies and other entities. Sanctions are war by other means.

Imposing new sanctions shows Brussels wants confrontation, not conflict resolution.

Russia’s NATO representative, Alexander Grushko, calls relations with the Alliance “close to the freezing point.”

“(W)e…have (no) illusions regarding the dangers that might be caused by NATO,” he said. (It) found a new meaning of life. (It’s) play(ing) out against us, against Russia.”

Three top Russian military officials were added. Including Deputy Defense Minister Anatoly Antonov, First Deputy Defense Minister, General Arkady Bakhin, and General Staff Operation Directorate head Lt. General Andrey Kartapolov.

Two additional lower House State Duma members were sanctioned, as well as Moscow Communist Party head Valery Rashkin and singer Iosif Kobzon.

Fourteen others are Donbas government and military officials. Eight rebel self-defense battalions and the Novorossiya movement were sanctioned.

Measures imposed include freezing assets held in European Union countries an an EU-wide travel ban.

State Duma Foreign Affairs Committee chairman Aleksey Pushkov said new sanctions are “contrary to the (letter and spirit) of Minsk. (They) will not solve anything, but will complicate political dialogue.”

Russia’s Foreign Ministry said new sanctions defy common sense. Moscow vows an “appropriate” response. Brussels shamelessly accommodates Washington and Kiev’s “party of war.”

Moscow’s EU representative, Vladimir Chizhov, said extending sanctions and adding new ones “will not only give a signal to Russian public opinion and force Russia to return to our own sanctions list, but will dissuade both sides of the conflict from the active implementation of the provisions of the Minsk documents.”

It shows no matter what efforts Russia makes toward resolving Ukraine’s conflict, it will continue being targeted unfairly.

Energy giant Roseneft CEO Igor Sechin said “(i)n the longterm, sanctions against Russia endanger Europe’s security of supply.”

Losers on both sides are assured. Spain’s Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo said “(s)anctions have had a heavy cost for us all.”

“The EU so far lost 21 billion euros. In Spain, we have been badly hit in terms of agriculture and tourism.

Czech President Milos Zeman called for lifting sanctions. Saying “I long for solid trade and economic relations between the Czech Republic and Russia, which shouldn’t be hampered by sanctions.”

“Esspecially if those sanctions are useless.” Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras rhetorically opposes sanctions while approving their renewal. At the same time, he wants things resolved diplomatically, adding:

“The difficult way of talks is always favorable to the easy way of sanctions, which leads to a dead end.”

Dark forces in America, EU countries and Ukraine want war continued, not ended. Huge geopolitical issues are at stake.

Key is targeting Russia for regime change. Washington’s longstanding goal is eliminating a major rival, controlling its vast land mass, balkanizing it for easier control, plundering its resources and exploiting its people.

(Stephen Lendman, feb 16th)

Head of the Russian National Centre for Reducing Nuclear Threat announced that Russian aviation inspectors will conduct two observation flights over the territory of the United States and one over the territory of Italy.

Russian aviation inspectors will conduct two observation flights over the territory of the United States and one over the territory of Italy in February under the Treaty on Open Skies, the head of the Russian National Centre for Reducing Nuclear Threat Sergei Ryzhkov has said.

It will be the second, third and fourth Russian observation flights over the territories of the treaty signatory states in 2015. Earlier in February, a group of Russian inspectors have conducted an observation flight over Greece.

According to Ryzhkov, the flights over the US are to be conducted from February 16 to February 28 from US air force bases McConnell and Wright-Patterson. The maximum range of the flights will reach 4,800 (2,980 miles) and 4,900 kilometres (3,040 miles) respectively.

The flight over Italy is scheduled to take place from February 16 to February 20. The Russian Antonov An-30 aircraft will take off from Ciampino, Rome. The flight will be carried out at a maximum range of 2015 kilometres (1,250 miles).

The Treaty on Open Skies was signed in 1992 in Helsinki and currently applies to 34 countries, including most of NATO member states, Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, Georgia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Sweden and Finland. The treaty establishes a regime of unarmed aerial observation flights over the entire territory of its participants.

(Sputnik, feb 16th)

Ukraine now a ‘crisis for Russia and West’, says ex-MI6 boss
The conflict in Ukraine is now part of a much bigger crisis between Russia and the West, MI6′s former head has said. Sir John Sawers warned the crisis was no longer about just Ukraine, saying it was “much bigger and more dangerous.” Any attempt by Western countries to arm Ukraine could lead to an escalation on the ground and even cyber attacks by Russia against the West, he warned.

(BBC, feb 16th)

Move over, Kim Jong Un. Russia and its leader, Vladimir Putin, are now the No. 1 villains in the eyes of Americans, according to a recent Gallup poll.

Only 2 percent of Americans saw Russia as a threat just two years ago, but now it has unseated both China and North Korea as the top enemy of the United States amid increasing political tension in the past year and a half.

Based on a poll conducted Feb. 8-11, 18 percent of Americans saw Russia as the country’s top threat in 2015, followed by North Korea (15 percent), China (12 percent) and Iran (9 percent). More than 800 people across all 50 states were sampled.

(washington times, feb 16th)

MAINSTREAM AND SOCIAL MEDIA_____________________

It didn’t take long for conservatives to hijack an #ILoveObama hashtag that began trending on Twitter last night, with many pointing out that such fawning idolatry was more reminiscent of a cult than political activism.

Liberals announced their intention to “Twitter bomb” the hashtag beginning at 8pm eastern last night, with leftists vowing to “show their love and appreciation for President Obama”.

The campaign was promoted by Unite Blue, a “progressive community” that draws together Twitter users who support the Democratic Party.

Conservatives immediately drew attention to the cult of personality attitude being promoted by liberals.

(Infowars, feb 16th)

New York Times corrects Scott Walker column

In hindsight, perhaps the headline “Scott Walker Needs An Eraser” wasn’t the best idea.

In a recent column about the Wisconsin governor, a conservative Republican, New York Times columnist Gail Collins wrote that Walker had cut state aid to education, causing teacher layoffs in 2010. But Walker didn’t take office until 2011.


Collins wrote that Walker’s recent speech in Iowa was all about “waging war on public employee unions, particularly the ones for teachers.” She cited the case of a Claudia Felske, who took issue with Walker’s characterization of the layoffs.

Walker told reporters last week in London that Felske, who was named one of the state’s teachers of the year in 2010, is making a “petty distinction.”

(Politico, feb 16th)


Time is running out for ethicists to tackle very real robot quandries

By its nature, the Open Roboethics Initiative is easy to dismiss — until you read anything they’ve published. As we head toward a self-driving future in which virtually all of us will spend some portion of the day with our lives in the hands of a piece of autonomous software, it ought to be clear that robot morality is anything but academic. Should your car kill the child on the street, or the one in your passenger seat? Even if we can master such calculus and make it morally simple, we will do so only in time to watch a flood of household robots enter the market and create a host of much more vexing problems. There’s nothing frivolous about it — robot ethics is the most important philosophical issue of our time.

(extreme tech, feb 16th)

The world's first drone circus is coming to Amsterdam

An airshow consisting entirely of drones will make its world premiere at the Amsterdam Arena sometime in the near future.

(Cnet, feb 15th)

AT&T charges $29 more for gigabit fiber that doesn’t watch your Web browsing

(ARS technica, feb 16th)

Nano-Manufacturing Makes Steel 10 Times Stronger: A new way to produce metals could have wide-ranging effects

(technology review, feb 16th)


What’s the best way to squash your competition? Buy them out. Applegate Farms, LLC really has no good reason to sell out to a GMO-supporting mega-corporation. They’ve been worth millions for years, and have gained success in the organic food industry like few others. But money talks, and the organic meat seller is in negotiations with industrial food giant Hormel Foods Corp. to become part of its conglomerate.

The sell-out is being described by Reuters, and is reportedly worth between $600 million and $1 billion, but both parties declined to comment since the matter is confidential.
Hormel swallowing up Applegate Farms isn’t the only pro-GMO company using cut-throat tactics and big money to get rid of competition. The sale of Applegate Farms comes amid a slew of merger activity for meat companies.

Recent high-profile deals also include:

    -Hershey Co’s acquisition of jerky company Krave

    -Post Holdings Inc’s $2.5 billion acquisition of food processing company Michael Foods

    -Tyson Foods Inc’s $8.6 billion acquisition of packaged meats producer Hillshire Brands

If you want organic chicken tenders, non-GMO sausages, lunch meats, or other healthier meat choices, you won’t find them in the Applegate Farms brand much longer.

Hormel is among companies like Monsanto, ConAgra, Kellogg, Smuckers, Coca-Cola, and Pepsi-Co who are trying to block your right to know what is in your food. They contributed heavily through the Grocery Manufacturer’s Association (GMA) to defeat Prop 37 in California which would have given people the right to know if genetically modified ingredients were in food.

This $1.2 trillion dollar industry can easily swallow even successful million-dollar companies like Applegate Farms – that is until we stop buying their products. Who really knows what is in SPAM, one of Hormel’s best-selling products? Hormel is also a notorious union buster and treat the animals used for their products poorly.

(natural society, feb 16th)

Americans Sign Petition to Add “Soylent Green” to Michelle Obama School Lunch Menu

The famous line comes from the 1973 film Soylent Green starring Charlton Heston. The plot revolves around a dystopian future in which an oppressed population is forced to survive on rations of processed human flesh.

Although generally considered to be one of Heston’s best movies, San Diego beachgoers are seemingly unaware of its contribution to the sci-fi genre. ‘Man on the street’ specialist Mark Dice collected innumerable signatures to add soylent green to school lunches by telling people it was “for the children”.

“It’s a healthy all natural non-GMO food to help with the kids, help build them up nice and strong,” Dice tells one man as he signs the petition.

Another woman signs the petition while remarking that she was a “fat kid,” to which Dice responds that soylent green will help “reduce the childhood obesity problem that we’re facing today”.

“A lot of these kids are complaining about the new healthy standards….the soylent green is all natural, it’s high in protein,” Dice tells another woman as she signs her name.

“Not enough kids are eating Michelle Obama’s soylent green for the lunch program, so we’re just gonna support serving soylent green,” Dice tells another man who responds, “I’m in with the program!”

“The Republicans are trying to defund it and some of the schools are actually not going along with the program,” Dice tells another couple, adding, “We just want to make sure all the kids get their soylent green and get healthy.”

(Infowars, feb 16th)

PHOTOS: Bugs invade ‘healthy’ Michelle O lunches

“When they serve us pizza, sometimes it’s not reheated all the way and you can see the frozen pieces in the dough,” Martinez says. “It’s the same thing with the taco meat. And they serve us ices instead of juice,” referring to the liquids still being frozen.

“There’s not much taste to them,” another student, Justin Minaya, says of the sweet potato fries.

“The chicken looks too greasy. It’s just frozen food that’s been reheated. It’s not appetizing.”

For these students, it usually means a free school meal or going hungry. More often, they’re choosing the latter.

“What they are provided with is unappetizing and unsatisfying,” Sarah Camiscoli, a teacher at the school, says. “There is much more effort [on the DOE’s part] put into thinking about fine tuning the logistics of state exams rather than the logistics of nutritional needs of students on free lunch.”

As more fresh fruits and vegetables are being introduced into school lunches, students are reporting that they’re finding more unintended protein in the items.

(EAG news, feb 16th)

Meditation booms as people seek a way to slow down

One hundred fifty people sat in the big meeting room, hands on laps, eyes closed, feet flat on the floor.

"Bring your attention to this moment," Janice Marturano instructed. "Be open to sensations of warmth or coolness, sensations of fullness from breakfast, or perhaps hunger." Minutes later, the meditation ended with the traditional strikes of little hand cymbals.

Buddhists? Old hippies? New Agers?

Nope. The room was full of hospital executives and managers in lab coats and scrubs, jeans and sports coats at Long Beach Memorial Medical Center. And the teacher was Marturano, once a top executive at General Mills.

The founder of the Institute for Mindful Leadership, Marturano is about as far from woo-woo as the spectrum allows — and a sign that meditation has snaked its way into every sector of our lives. The hospital employees were learning a practice shared by millions these days: college students, parents and prisoners; soldiers, the overweight and the lovelorn; the Seattle Seahawks, public school kids and members of Congress; Oprah, Chopra and Arianna.

And perhaps you. What? You're not meditating?

Meditation, primarily a 2,500-year-old form called mindfulness meditation that emphasizes paying attention to the present moment, has gone viral.

(LA times, feb 16th)

A concerned citizen has launched a popular petition on the official White House website seeking a moratorium on legislation that may force Americans to obtain vaccinations.

The all-inclusive petition entitled, “Prohibit Any Laws Mandating the Force and Requirement of Vaccinations of Any Kind,” appeared on the “We the People” site earlier this month, and has already managed to garner some 34 thousand signatures.

“No human being should be FORCED to be vaccinated against their will and/or personal/religious beliefs,” reads the petition’s text.

“I petition against making vaccinations of any kind mandatory. This includes forcing children to be vaccinated to attend public schools, activities, and daycare centers. This also includes adults working in the public or private sector.”

(Infowars, feb 16th)

While most U.S. public schools start sex education in the fifth grade, sex education will be coming to Chicago kindergartners within two years as part of an overhaul of the Chicago public schools sexual health program.

The new policy, which the Chicago Board of Education passed Wednesday, mandates that a set amount of time be spent on sex education in every grade, beginning in kindergarten. Chicago has the third-largest public school system in the country, with 431,000 students.

“It is important that we provide students of all ages with accurate and appropriate information so they can make healthy choices in regards to their social interactions, behaviors and relationships,” Barbara Byrd-Bennett, the CEO of the Chicago Public School System, said in a statement. “By implementing a new sexual health education policy, we will be helping them to build a foundation of knowledge that can guide them not just in the preadolescent and adolescent years, but throughout their lives.”

Under the new policy, the youngest students – the kindergartners — will learn the basics about anatomy, reproduction, healthy relationships and personal safety. Through the third grade, the sex-ed lessons will focus on the family, feelings and appropriate and inappropriate touching. In the fourth grade, students will start learning about puberty, and HIV. Discussions will emphasize that the virus cannot be transmitted through everyday contact such as shaking hands or sharing food.

From the fifth through the 12th grade, the emphasis will be on reproduction, the transmission and prevention of HIV/AIDS, and other sexually-transmitted diseases, bullying and contraception, including abstinence

(Barricuda brigade, feb 16th)

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