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Wednesday, February 25, 2015

NEWS FOR 2/23/2015 Monday February 23rd 2015


Al Jazeera to Reveal Hundreds of Secret Intelligence Documents

Al Jazeera will begin publishing secret documents leaked from the world’s top intelligence agencies as part of “The Spy Cables” project, the media outlet said Monday.

According to a statement published on Al Jazeera website, the agency’s investigative unit, in collaboration with The Guardian, will reveal secret documents by South Africa’s State Security Agency (SSA) and the country’s secret correspondence with the US CIA, Britain’s MI6, Russia’s FSB, Israel’s Mossad and dozens of other secret services worldwide.

“They [the documents to be revealed] include the Israeli Mossad’s true assessment of Iran’s nuclear program, an assassination plot targeting an African Union leader and an MI6 operation to recruit a North Korean spy,” Al Jazeera said in a promo video posted on its website.

The papers will reveal cover-ups of abuses of power by intelligence agencies, as well as cases of “unethical actions, secret front companies and embarrassing failures,” the video added.

According to Al Jazeera, the documents to be revealed date from 2006 to December, 2014. Some of them will be edited to protect the identities of undercover agents.

Al Jazeera stressed that unlike the data on electronic intelligence, obtained by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, The Spy Cables focuses on human intelligence and will provide “an unprecedented insight” into the daily working lives of secret services.

(Sputnik, feb 23rd)

The overthrow of the legally elected government of Ukraine was “was not only supported by U.S. and EU governments — much of it was actually planned by them,” former congressman Dr. Ron Paul said.

In his weekly column posted Sunday, Dr. Paul blamed western interventionism for the death and destruction in Ukraine’s ongoing civil war.

“Looking back at the events that led to the overthrow it is clear that without foreign intervention Ukraine would not be in its current, seemingly hopeless situation,” he wrote. “By the end of 2013 [before the coup], Ukraine’s economy was in ruins. The government was desperate for an economic bailout and then-president Yanukovych first looked west to the U.S. and EU before deciding to accept an offer of help from Russia.”

That led to division within the country, but as Dr. Paul points out, if it wasn’t for western intervention, the problem may have solved itself eventually instead of escalating into a full-blown civil war.

“The protests at the end of 2013 grew more dramatic and violent and soon a steady stream of U.S. and EU politicians were openly participating, as protesters called for the overthrow of the Ukrainian government,” Dr. Paul added. “Senator John McCain made several visits to Kiev and even addressed the crowd to encourage them.”

“Imagine if a foreign leader like Putin or Assad came to Washington to encourage protesters to overthrow the Obama administration!”

The protests, which were funded by billionaire activist George Soros, ultimately led to the overthrow of the government and the installation of politicians handpicked by the U.S. State Department.

Soros, who actively influences the politics of Russia-linked countries through various front groups, admitted his involvement in Ukraine during an interview with CNN’s Fareed Zakaria.

“First on Ukraine, one of the things that many people recognized about you was that you during the revolutions of 1989 funded a lot of dissident activities, civil society groups in eastern Europe and Poland, the Czech Republic. Are you doing similar things in Ukraine?” Zakaria asked Soros.

“Well, I set up a foundation in Ukraine before Ukraine became independent of Russia, and the foundation has been functioning ever since and played an important part in events now,” Soros responded.

(infowars, feb 23rd)

Apparently, execs at Gemalto went to the same crisis management training program as the top execs at Lenovo. As you probably recall, last week The Intercept revealed that the NSA and GCHQ had hacked into the systems at Gemalto, the world’s largest maker of SIM cards for mobile phones, in order to get access to their encryption keys. This is a pretty massive security breach, allowing these intelligence agencies to decrypt calls that people thought were encrypted. But Gemalto insists its SIM cards are perfectly secure:

    “Initial conclusions already indicate that Gemalto SIM products (as well as banking cards, passports and other products and platforms) are secure and the Company doesn’t expect to endure a significant financial prejudice.”

This sounds an awful lot like Lenovo’s initial reaction to the reports about the Superfish/Komodia vulnerability it shoved onto many of its customers computers, saying (totally incorrectly):

    We have thoroughly investigated this technology and do not find any evidence to substantiate security concerns.

Lenovo, at least, pretty quickly changed its tune and admitted to it being a major problem. Of course, there are some differences here. With Lenovo, the company had made the choice to include Superfish — whereas the Gemalto hacking was done (obviously) without the company’s knowledge. You’d hope that the company would be much more upfront about the seriousness of the issue, rather than insisting that everything is just fine and dandy.

Of course, it’s that last phrase — about not having to “endure a significant financial prejudice” — that shows what’s really going on. Gemalto’s stock price took a huge hit, and the company is trying to assure investors that everything is okay — not necessarily its customers. See if you can tell when the news about this came out?

So now the question is, which is more important to Gemalto? Keeping its stock price up or its users secure?

(tech dirt, feb 23rd)

Hillary Clinton’s War on Women

Hillary Clinton portrays herself as a champion of women in the workforce, but women working for her in the U.S. Senate were paid 72 cents for each dollar paid to men, according to a Washington Free Beacon analysis of her Senate years’ salary data.

During those years, the median annual salary for a woman working in Clinton’s office was $15,708.38 less than the median salary for a man, according to the analysis of data compiled from official Senate expenditure reports.

The analysis compiled the annual salaries paid to staffers for an entire fiscal year of work from the years 2002 to 2008. Salaries of employees who were not part of Clinton’s office for a full fiscal year were not included. Because the Senate fiscal year extends from Oct. 1 to Sept. 30, Clinton’s first year in the Senate, which began on Jan. 3, 2001, was also not included in the analysis.

The salaries speak for themselves. The data shows that women in her office were paid 72 cents for every dollar paid to men.

(free beacon, feb 23rd)

NET NEUTRALITY____________

From Internet to Obamanet

BlackBerry and AT&T are already making moves that could exploit new ‘utility’ regulations.

The permissionless Internet, which allows anyone to introduce a website, app or device without government review, ends this week. On Thursday the three Democrats among the five commissioners on the Federal Communications Commission will vote to regulate the Internet under rules written for monopoly utilities.

No one, including the bullied FCC chairman, Tom Wheeler, thought the agency would go this far. The big politicization came when President Obama in November demanded that the supposedly independent FCC apply the agency’s most extreme regulation to the Internet. A recent page-one Wall Street Journal story headlined “Net Neutrality: How White House Thwarted FCC Chief” documented “an unusual, secretive effort inside the White House . . . acting as a parallel version of the FCC itself.”

(WSJ, feb 22nd)

Republican FCC Commissioners Ask Wheeler To Delay Net Neutrality Vote, Release Proposal

Three days before the Federal Communications Commission is scheduled to vote on the most significant Internet regulations in history, two commissioners are asking Chairman Tom Wheeler to delay the vote and release his proposal to the public.

“We respectfully request that FCC leadership immediately release the 332-page Internet regulation plan publicly and allow the American people a reasonable period of not less than 30 days to carefully study it,” Republican Commissioners Ajit Pai and Michael O’Rielly said in a statement Monday. “Then, after the commission reviews the specific input it receives from the American public and makes any modifications to the plan as appropriate, we could proceed to a final vote.”

(daily caller, feb 23rd)


CAIR Praises DHS Report on Domestic ‘Right Wing’ Extremists

Welcoming news that the Department of Homeland Security is circulating an intelligence assessment on the threat posed by “right-wing sovereign citizen extremist groups,” the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) says it’s now time for security agencies to release a report on violence against American Muslims and others of Middle Eastern or South Asian heritage.

The DHS report – which has not been publicly released – was leaked to CNN at a time when some U.S. Islamic groups are questioning the administration’s “countering violent extremism” (CVE) initiative. Some of those critics, who have called for a greater focus on non-Islam-related terror threats, declined to attend last week’s White House CVE summit as a result.

“We welcome this new intelligence assessment on the threat posed by domestic right-wing violent extremists,” CAIR said in a statement, citing aCNN news story on the subject.

“It is the government’s responsibility to address all forms of violent extremism – regardless of ideology – and in proportion to the criminal threat posed by those groups.”

(CNS, feb 23rd)

DHS report warns of domestic right-wing terror threat

A new Department of Homeland Security intelligence assessment circulated this month focuses on the threat of right-wing sovereign citizen extremist groups in the U.S. Some law enforcement groups say the threat is equal to, and occasionally greater than, the threat from Islamic extremist groups.

The Homeland Security report, produced in coordination with the FBI, counts 24 violent sovereign citizen-related attacks across the U.S. since 2010, CNN reported Friday.

These types of extremists believe that they can ignore laws because those laws attack their individual rights, even in routine daily instances like a traffic stop or being required to obey a court order, CNN reported Friday.

(washington post, feb 23rd)

‘No credible plot’: DHS distances itself from chief’s ‘mall terror threat’ warnings

The Department of Homeland Security has denied it is aware of any credible terrorist plots against shopping centers on US soil after their chief advised shoppers, particularly in the Mall of America, to be careful following threats from Somali extremists.

“We are not aware of any specific, credible plot against the Mall of America or any other domestic commercial shopping center,” Homeland Security Department spokeswoman Marsha Catron said in a statement. She noted, however, that federal agents have shared the information with local law enforcement and “private sector partners.”

Earlier on Sunday, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson spoke on CNN’s State of the Union about the threat made in a video attributed to Somalia’s Al-Shabaab radical group.

“Anytime a terrorist organization calls for an attack on a specific place, we’ve got to take that seriously,” he said, calling for caution by those visiting US malls, particularly one of the world’s largest – the Mall of America.

“This latest statement from Al-Shabaab reflects the new phase we’ve evolved to in the global terrorist threat, in that you have groups such as Al-Shabaab and ISIL publicly calling for independent actors in their homelands to carry out attacks,” Johnson said.

Al-Shabaab was responsible for the deadly 2013 attack on a Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi, Kenya, which resulted in over 60 civilian deaths and sparked fears of similar attacks being carried out around the world.

This weekend, the group released a video calling for more “Westgate-style” attacks in the West against “American or Jewish shopping centers.”

(Russia today, feb 23rd)

FBI Staged Mock Mall Attacks After Kenya Siege

DHS chief warns shoppers on threat, while pleading for funding

(CNN, feb 23rd)

Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson went on the Sunday talk shows to demand that Republicans fund the Department of Homeland Security without blocking money for President Obama's executive amnesty plan.

But he prefaced his you-better-fund-my-department pitch by warning that an al Qaeda-linked terror group, Al-Shabaab, is publicly calling for attacks on shopping malls in the United States, specifically the Mall of America in Minneapolis.

"I would say that, if anyone is planning to go to the Mall of America today, they have got to be particularly careful. And, as the statement you read indicates, there will be enhanced security there that will be apparent to people who are there," Johnson told CNN's "State of the Union" with Gloria Borger.

But on at least two of the Sunday morning shows, Johnson steered the hosts to the topic he wanted to talk about -- Republicans using a DHS funding bill to block President Obama's immigration policy, which goes beyond the scope of current law.

(CNS news, feb 23rd)

Obama’s DHS Spent Nearly $150M on Office Furniture and Makeovers

DHS funding has been increased each year under Obama administration

Funding for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS)—which is due to expire at the end of this week unless an agreement in Washington is reached—has continued to rise under President Barack Obama. His administration claims the agency’s increased funding is necessary to protect the homeland, but records show that the DHS has continued to increase its spending on furniture and office makeovers as its budget has been increased.

A review of records on the official government spending website by the Washington Free Beacon shows the agency has spent nearly $150 million on office furniture and makeovers since Obama took office. Those fiscal years for which he has been responsible and whose budgets have been enacted are FY2010 through 2014.

(free beacon, feb 23rd)

ISLAMIC STATE_______________

The terrifying rise of ISIS: Map that shows how terror group's tentacles now reach from Algeria to Afghanistan

    -Reach of ISIS now spans Middle East and northern Africa, with only the Mediterranean sea separating from Europe
    -Terrorist groups around the world now pledging allegiance to Islamic State as groups seize destabilised countries
    -Experts say ISIS' control in Libya could create potential 'disaster scenario' and coalition airstrikes are fueling the militants' manipulative propaganda
    -ISIS has 31,500 loyal fighters according to CIA but estimates place this far higher at around 200,000 militants 

(daily mail, feb 23rd)

Private donors from Gulf Oil States Helping to Bankroll Salaries of Up to 100,000 ISIS Fighters

Islamic State is still receiving significant financial support from Arab sympathisers outside Iraq and Syria, enabling it to expand its war effort, says a senior Kurdish official.

The US has being trying to stop such private donors in the Gulf oil states sending to Islamic State (Isis) funds that help pay the salaries of fighters who may number well over 100,000.

Fuad Hussein, the chief of staff of the Kurdish President, Massoud Barzani, told The Independent on Sunday: “There is sympathy for Da’esh [the Arabic acronym for IS, also known as Isis] in many Arab countries and this has translated into money – and that is a disaster.”  He pointed out that until recently financial aid was being given more or less openly by Gulf states to the opposition in Syria – but by now most of these rebel groups have been absorbed into IS and Jabhat al-Nusra, the al-Qaeda affiliate, so it is they “who now have the money and the weapons”.

Mr Hussein would not identify the states from which the funding for IS comes today, but implied that they were the same Gulf oil states that financed Sunni Arab rebels in Iraq and Syria in the past.

Dr Mahmoud Othman, a veteran member of the Iraqi Kurdish leadership who recently retired from the Iraqi parliament, said there was a misunderstanding as to why Gulf countries paid off IS. It is not only that donors are supporters of IS, but that the movement “gets money from the Arab countries because they are afraid of it”, he says. “Gulf countries give money to Da’esh so that it promises not to carry out operations on their territory.”

Iraqi leaders in Baghdad privately express similar suspicions that IS –  with a territory the size of Great Britain and a population of six million fighting a war on multiple fronts, from Aleppo to the Iranian border – could not be financially self-sufficient, given the calls on its limited resources.

(Counterpunch, feb 23rd)

Congress to Obama Admin: U.S. Billions Are ‘Enabling’ Terror Regimes in Qatar

Qatar funding, providing refuge to terror groups and allies

Congress is warning that billions of dollars in U.S. arms sales to Qatar could be enabling the Arab country’s support for leading terrorist organizations and allies, according to a letter to the administration being circulated on Capitol Hill.

Qatar, long one of America’s top Arab military allies in the Middle East, has been funding and providing refuge to an increasing number of terrorist groups and allies in recent years, including most recently the Islamic State (IS).

The United States sends billions of dollars and arms to Qatar to keep it as a strategic regional ally.

Congress’ concern about Qatar’s support for the terror group comes ahead of a high-profile meeting between the country’s ruling emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al Thani, and President Barack Obama at the White House on Tuesday.

The letter, which is being circulated Rep. Doug Lamborn (R., Colo.), a member of the House Armed Services Committee, calls out Qatar for being “the world’s safe haven for terrorist groups and militia leaders.” It urges U.S. officials to “reassess and reevaluate” America’s multi-billion dollar military alliance with the country.

The sharp focus on Qatar, a key military ally that receives billions in arms from the United States, come as the country faces increased scrutiny over an uptick in support for radical jihadist groups plotting against the West.

The lawmakers say the billions in U.S. assistance to Qatar could be enabling terror regimes there to thrive.

“America’s military footprint in Qatar may be enabling the Al Thani regime to offer up its territory as a fundraising center for terrorists around the region,” states the letter addressed to newly installed Defense Secretary Ashton Carter, according to an advance copy obtained by the Washington Free Beacon. “The past few years have seen Qatar grow into a major hub for terrorist operatives and terrorism finance.”

Qatar claims to support America’s campaign against Islamic State (IS) terrorists, yet does little to help the cause, the lawmakers say.

“The Qatari government turns a blind eye to terrorist fundraising for al Qaeda and the Islamic State by U.S.-designated persons within its borders,” the letter states.

(Free beacon, feb 23rd)

Saudi Newspaper Claims Islamic State May Get Libya’s Chemical Weapons

More than a year ago The New York Times reported the last of Col. Muammar al-Qaddafi’s chemical arms had been destroyed.

Last February it was claimed all Libyan chemical weapons were destroyed.

The U.S. and Libya “used a transportable oven technology to destroy hundreds of bombs and artillery rounds filled with deadly mustard agent, which American officials had feared could fall into the hands of terrorists,” the newspaper reported on February 2, 2014.

The effort was conducted with funding provided by the Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction program with help from the Pentagon’s Defense Threat Reduction Agency and the Parsons Corporation, a construction company that wasted millions of U.S. tax dollars in Iraq.

Now that the U.S. trained and Gulf Emirate funded Islamic State threatens to take over Libya in the wake of the U.S. invasion of the north African nation, the London-based Arabic newspaper Asharq Alawsat says chemical weapons remain in Libya and are in danger of falling into the hands of the Islamic State.

Asharq Alawsat is a media asset controlled by the Saudi royal family.

“Extremist militias in Libya have taken over stashes of chemical weapons which belonged to the late ruler Muammar Gaddafi, sources in the country,” The Times of Israel reports.

“The sources expressed concern that the non-conventional weaponry, which included mustard gas and sarin gas, could find its way into the hands of Islamic State fighters.”

The claim contradicts what officials said and the Times reported last February.

“The disposal of the last of Libya’s chemical weapons closes a chapter that Colonel Qaddafi began in early 2004, when his government turned over a vast cache of nuclear technology and chemical stockpiles to the United States, Britain and international nuclear inspectors,” the Times added.

(infowars, feb 23rd)

Why are girls flocking to ISIS?

An alarming number of young Western women are defying their families — and all logic — to join the ISIS barbarians.

As many as 550 of the estimated 3,000 Westerners who have traveled to Syria and Iraq to join the Islamic terrorists are female, according to the Institute for Strategic Dialogue, a London think tank.

It’s the sick siren song of the caliphate that appears to have taken hold of three British schoolgirls, who lied to their East London families last week and casually slipped out of the country on a flight bound for Turkey, believed to be a stopover for those heading to Syria, and ISIS.

The terrified families of Shamima Begum, 15, Kadiza Sultana, 16, and another 15-year-old friend, students at Bethnal Green Academy who are all believed to be Muslims, made an impassioned plea to their wayward daughters on Saturday.

(nypost, feb 22nd)

POLICE STATE_____________

Silicon Valley Cops Want To Use ‘Stingray’ Cell Phone Surveillance Technology For Investigations

But county officials in Santa Clara, California, which includes much of Silicon Valley, are nervous the public doesn’t know enough about the technology, which would be paid for by a grant from the Department of Homeland Security.

Santa Clara County Supervisor Joe Simitian complained that the sheriff’s office is pressuring country officials to vote on authorizing use of the Stingray Tuesday, only days after the county was informed about the proposal’s existence. The urgency comes as a federal grant for $500,000 from the Department of Homeland Security is set to expire, though Simitian told the Contra Costa Times the offer has been on the table for nearly a year. He’s now calling for more input from the public on Stingrays, a suitcase-sized machine that, by mimicking a cell tower signal, is capable of sweeping up information on every cell phone that connects to it.

“I really don’t think 15 minutes’ worth of conversation on Tuesday is going to be enough,” Simitian told the local newspaper. “I’m a little disappointed if they’re trying to hurry this up because the grant is going to expire. It would have been nice to have been told about this a year ago.”

The DHS has made it possible for law enforcement agencies of various sizes throughout the country to purchase and use Stingray technology while attracting little notice from the public. Stingrays, once only used for terrorism investigations, make it possible for police looking for a single cell phone to collect location data, text messages, billing information, phone call metadata and other sensitive information about potentially thousands of phones in the same area. Federal and local police are often required to sign nondisclosure agreements with Stingray manufacturers in order to obtain them, much to the chagrin of the American Civil Liberties Union, Electronic Frontier Foundation and other privacy advocates.

(IB times, feb 23rd)

The case against Tadrae McKenzie looked like an easy win for prosecutors. He and two buddies robbed a small-time pot dealer of $130 worth of weed using BB guns. Under Florida law, that was robbery with a deadly weapon, with a sentence of at least four years in prison.

But before trial, his defense team detected investigators’ use of a secret surveillance tool, one that raises significant privacy concerns. In an unprecedented move, a state judge ordered the police to show the device — a cell-tower simulator sometimes called a StingRay — to the attorneys.

Rather than show the equipment, the state offered McKenzie a plea bargain.

Today, 20-year-old McKenzie is serving six months’ probation ­after pleading guilty to a second-degree misdemeanor. He got, as one civil liberties advocate said, the deal of the century. (The other two defendants also pleaded guilty and were sentenced to two years’ probation.)

McKenzie’s case is emblematic of the growing, but hidden, use by local law enforcement of a sophisticated surveillance technology borrowed from the national security world. It shows how a gag order imposed by the FBI — on grounds that discussing the device’s operation would compromise its effectiveness — has left judges, the public and criminal defendants in the dark on how the tool works.

(washington post, feb 22nd)

Shock Video: Police Tase Elderly Man With His Hands Up

Victim offering no resistance gets blasted with 50,000 volts

The clip, which was filmed by a family on their way to Key West, shows cops yelling at people inside the vehicle before the elderly man exits the passenger side of the car with his hands up.

“Oh he’s just an old man!” remarks one of the eyewitnesses.

The cop grabs the man’s arm and orders him to get down on the ground. Seconds later, a second officer shouts, “Let him go,” before unleashing 50,000 volts of electricity via his taser gun, despite the fact that the man had his hands up and was clearly being compliant.

The man collapses to the ground while screaming in agony. He appears to be unable to break his own fall.

“They tasered him! Is he alive?” asked the shocked onlooker, before commenting, “Oh God he’s all limp”.

(Infowars, feb 23rd)

Cell phone video captured at a Florida bus station reveals the shocking treatment a man received from a Broward county law enforcement officer.

According to the video’s author, the man, identified as Bruce Laclair, was sleeping on a bench when Officer Victor Ramirez began demanding he leave the property.

While being escorted off the premises, Laclair started heading towards a bathroom, prompting Ramirez to immediately shove him to the ground.

“Relax!” the officer ludicrously states after the man’s face hits the brick walkway.

Laclair can be seen lightly moving the officer away as he attempts to regain his composure just seconds before Ramirez brutally slaps him across the face.

“I’m not f*cking around with you!” Ramirez says. “Don’t f*cking touch me!”

The remainder of the video includes endless claims by Ramirez that Laclair’s initial profanity somehow justified his violent behavior.

Laclair, who appears intoxicated, could have been affected by a recent hospital visit according to eyewitness reports.

“The guy had a hospital bracelet on,” a witness said. “He didn’t fight him at all.”

The Fort Lauderdale Police Department has reportedly suspended the officer with pay and opened an investigation into the incident according to Local 10 News.

(Infowars, feb 23rd)

Prosecutor: No charges for Officers who Tased Man with Autism

Man was on the ground "crying for his mother" before being shocked

A prosecutor says police officers in Greenville were justified when they shocked a 34-year-old man with autism after he ran away as they investigated a report of gunshots.

Solicitor Walt Wilkins said at a news conference Friday that Tario Anderson was walking at 11:50 p.m. Christmas Eve when officers who heard gunshots seconds before shined a spotlight on him to question him.

Wilkins says Anderson putting his hands in his pocket and running was enough reason for the officers to detain him. Witnesses say Anderson was on the ground crying for his mother after he was shocked with a Taser and handcuffed.

(AP, feb 23rd)

VIDEO FOOTAGE from a 7-Eleven appears to show Brandon Tate-Brown driving with his lights on shortly before he was stopped by Philadelphia police Dec. 15 for allegedly driving with his lights off - an encounter during which Tate-Brown was fatally shot by cops.

(philly, feb 23rd)


Texas governor claims ‘more than 20,000' illegal immigrants have crossed his border with Mexico since January 1

(daily mail, feb 23rd)

Dozens of cities across America are organizing “welcoming committees” to help illegals “adjust to life here in the United States.”

The cities are partnering with a group called “Welcoming America” which helps illegals find employment and housing while “helping people who were born in this country understand and appreciate their new neighbors.”

On Monday, the group worked with the Austin, Texas, Commission on Immigrant Affairs to organize a “Welcoming City Summit” with speeches on “executive action and the future potential of immigration reform” and “career pathways for new Americans.”

“The purpose of the Austin Welcoming City Summit is to convene community stakeholders to network, explore the ‘Welcoming City’ concept as it exists nationwide, learn about recognized best practices in immigrant integration and inform Austin’s own Welcoming City vision,” the summit’s registration page states.

“Welcoming America” touts itself as “grassroots” but is in fact supported by President Obama, the United Nations, the Clinton Global Initiative, the Carnegie Foundation and the German Marshall Fund.

(infowars, feb 23rd)

An Oregon Democrat believes that the fight for amnesty for illegal immigrants is the “civil rights battle” for millennials that will decide who controls the the country for the next three decades.

“Immigration reform is probably the biggest issue of the 21st century,” Rep. Kurt Schrader (D-OR) reportedly said at an “Immigration Day Action” event this weekend. “It will decide who is in charge of this country for the next 20 or 30 years.”

According to the Portland Tribune, Schrader made his remarks at an event that was sponsored by Causa, a prominent Oregon pro-amnesty group, and he compared today’s amnesty fight to the civil and voting rights movements in the 1960s, saying the amnesty movement is “the civil rights battle for the younger generation.”

“They, too, had a different background — different ethnicity, different race — and yet they had rights to participate in this country of ours that had been denied them,” he reportedly told the gathering at Chemeketa Community College. “This is what is at stake now for a lot of you and your families. I feel a kinship and a need to support all people who had an opportunity to come to this great country.”

As Breitbart News has emphasized, though, “the civil rights movement of the 1960s was about ensuring that black Americans received all of the rights they were due as citizens of the United States while today’s pro-amnesty movement is about demanding full rights for non-citizens who entered the country illegally.”

(breitbart, feb 23rd)

U.S. AND WORLD ECONOMY__________________

Existing Home Sales Plunge

With homebuilder sentiment slipping, blamed on the weather (despite improvement in the Northeast), Architecture billings down, and lumber prices down, it should not be totally surprising that existing home sales collapsed in January, which they just did tumbling -4.9% against expectations of -1.8% to a worse than expected 4.82 million SAAR (4.95 expected). This was the biggest January drop since 2010, and is the lowest existing home sales since April.

Oh – and before the talking heads blame the weather – the biggest drop in home sales was in The West (with its warm, dry, sunny home-buying climate). Considering that existing home sales most recent peak in 2014 failed to take out the previous government-sponsored peak in 2013 and remains 30% or more below the 2005 peak, and claims that the housing recovery is in tact are greatly exaggerated.

Lower highs and the weakest sales since April 2014

(zero hedge, feb 23rd)

Survey Finds Many Americans ‘on the Edge of Financial Disaster’

As the economy improves, more Americans are borrowing money to pay for purchases.

Thirty-seven percent have credit card debt that equals or is greater than their emergency savings, says a survey released today by

“These numbers mean that three out of every eight Americans are teetering on the edge of financial disaster,” says Bankrate’s Greg McBride.

The average credit card debt for U.S. households is more than $15,000, according to the Federal Reserve.

“From a purely financial standpoint, it makes more sense to pay down that high interest rate” before you start to save, says Kelley Long, member of the American Institute of CPAs.

Borrowing money with a credit card is usually very expensive.

“If you are over your head in debt, you might want to consider a balanced transfer card, but you need to have pretty good credit to qualify for the best offers,” says credit card writer Beverly Harzog, author of “The Debt Escape Plan.” A balanced transfer card “would give you an opportunity to pay off your debt while paying zero interest on that.”

(ABC news, feb 23rd)

Water thefts on the rise in drought-stricken California

As California's drought drags on, officials are cracking down on thieves who wrench open fire hydrants and ignore or tamper with meters to access one of the state's precious commodities - water.

In some cases, wells dry up and scofflaws start stealing water from hydrants. In other cases, trucks in need of water for dust control and construction tap hydrants without using meters that charge them. Sometimes people just help themselves to water from natural resources.

California is entering the fourth year of drought, with 41 percent of the state in the sharpest category of water shortages, according to the U.S. government's Drought Monitor. So far this year, the state has received as little as one-fourth of normal snowpack, which much of California depends on for year-round water supplies.

(AP, feb 23rd)

Greece’s Leaders Face a Revolt at Home as They Try to Appease Creditors

 Greek leaders scrambled on Sunday to come up with a list of proposed changes to the nation’s austerity program that would be acceptable to their creditors by a Monday deadline, even as they faced a revolt by members of their own radical-left party, angered that the government had bent to demands by Brussels.

An 11th-hour deal reached on Friday by Greece and eurozone finance ministers did nothing immediately to reduce the obligations Greece must fulfill to keep a lifeline of cash coming and avoid insolvency for the heavily indebted government.

The sole concession to Athens was to allow it to propose changes to the requirements agreed to with creditors by the previous Greek governments, in effect allowing Athens to change the shape of its obligations, not reduce them.

While the government of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras hailed the chance to propose its own overhauls as a victory, the deal represented a steep climb down for his Syriza party, which had vowed to get rid of the current bailout program.

(NYT, feb 22nd)

Most loyal readers of my Frank Talk blog know that China, along with India, leads the world in gold demand. This Chinese New Year is no exception. Official “Year of the Ram” gold coins sold out days ago, and since the beginning of January, withdrawals from the Shanghai Gold Exchange have grown to over 315 tonnes, exceeding the 300 tonnes of newly-mined gold around the globe during the same period.

China, in other words, is consuming more gold than the world is producing.

(forbes, feb 23rd)


Snow is on the ground in at least 48 of 50 U.S. states, according to three separate national snow cover maps.

Florida has no snow on the ground according to all of the maps, of that we can be sure. But the three maps I looked at don’t agree on the other snow-free state: It could be South Carolina, it could be Louisiana or possibly Mississippi. Anybody in those three states see snow?

But regardless of whether those three states have snow on the ground now, some snow is forecast to fall this week on all of them. Florida will remain the lone holdout, as no snow is predicted there.

(USA today, feb 23rd)

Coldest Months On Record: February 2015 Could Be Among Top 5

February 2015 could be one for the record books in terms of cold weather. Accuweather’s Dean DeVore says the coldest month ever was in January 1977, with an average temperature of just under 13 degrees, and we’ve got a shot at breaking that record.

“I’m doing some calculations but I think we are on track here to have the coldest month ever in Detroit, the way things are looking,” said DeVore. “And it’s going to be brutally cold here today.”

(CBS detroit, feb 23rd)

Ann Arbor breaks record low temperature set in 1900

Ann Arbor woke up to a new record low temperature Monday morning.

At 7 a.m., the temperature in Ann Arbor was minus 7, said University of Michigan weather observer Dennis Kahlbaum. It was still falling at that point, but that was already low enough to break the previous record low of minus 5 for Feb. 23 set on this date in 1900.

With the wind chill, the temperature felt a good bit colder than that. A wind chill advisory issued by the National Weather Service was in effect until noon. Wind chill values could reach between minus 15 to minus 20, according to the advisory.

In these conditions, frostbite is possible within 30 minutes of exposure and hypothermia poses a risk as well.

(mlive, feb 23rd)

The temperature dropped to -5 degrees early Monday at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport, setting a new record low for the date.

The previous record low was -4 degrees, set in 1873. The last time the temperature fell below zero on Feb. 23 was in 1889, when it dropped to -3, according to data from the National Climatic Data Center and National Weather Service.

The temperature has dropped to a record-low level in Cleveland three times in the past five days. It dropped to -4 degrees Thursday, tying a record established in 1936.

The temperature fell to -17 degrees Friday, shattering the previous record of -4 set in 1968. It was the coldest day in Cleveland since the all-time record low of -20 set in January 1994, the National Weather Service said.

It was also the fourth-coldest day in the city's history.

(Cleveland, feb 23rd)


Children may be born with parents of the same sex following a breakthrough which scientists believe paves the way for “two dad” families.

Researchers from Cambridge University and Israel’s Weizmann Institute of Science say they have shown for the first time that human egg and sperm cells can be made from stem cells in the skin of two adults. It raises the possibility a baby could be “manufactured” in a dish, The Sunday Times reported.

Any such technique would help infertile couples but will also raise serious ethical questions. Details of the research, funded by the Wellcome Trust, were published in the journal Cell. “We have succeeded in the first and most important step of this process, which is to show we can make these very early human stem cells in a dish,” Azim Surani, professor of physiology and reproduction, said.

(indepedent, feb 23rd)

State Rep Jokes about Brain Damaging Vaccines

Legislator laughs at vaccine damage before supporting legislation to remove parental rights

A Washington state representative joked about brain damaging vaccines last week shortly before voting to support legislation that would dismantle vaccine exemptions for children.

Republican Norm Johnson, a member of the Health Care and Wellness Committee, made the joke as he attempted to explain why parents should not have total control over what is put in their children’s bodies.

“I’ll be voting yes. I may be the only R that votes yes…” Johnson said.

Struggling to remember a fellow legislators name, Johnson sarcastically stated the his sudden memory loss must be the result of vaccination-induced brain damage.

“I destroyed my brain when I was vaccinated,” he said as fellow legislators burst into laughter.

The comment quickly made waves through the community, prompting a courageous response from a local resident named Daniel who was negatively affected by vaccines.

“I got sick from vaccines. I have inflammation in my brain and immune system damage,” the young man said. “I don’t think you understand how terrible it is to be sick from vaccines.”

The bill, which passed out of committee, removes a parent’s ability to exempt school-age children from vaccinations over personal and philosophical reasons.

Despite the insensitive comments from Johnson, the federal government is responsible for noting such damages under the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS), a program which receives as many as 20,000 reports every year.

(Infowars, feb 23rd)

MISCELLANEOUS NEWS____________________

Elon Musk uses Iron Man-inspired holographic 3-D user interface to print a rocket part

After Elon Musk announced plans to post a video of himself using a holographic computer interface inspired by the one Tony Stark uses in the film Iron Man, it looks like the Tesla CEO and inventor has delivered. In the video, which you can see after the jump, Musk shows a rocket part with hand gestures and then prints it using titanium.

The video shows Musk rotating a 3D object on screen using just one hand, zooming in and out and manipulating the view using a Leap Motion controller – a device that turns gestures into digital commands. He then demonstrates a cool-looking technological innovation featured in Iron Man that manipulates a freestanding glass projection using the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset. The demonstration ends with 3D printing the part with titanium.

Although the video doesn’t seem to show a new object being designed using the 3D hologram technology, it is exciting to see the sci-fi movie technology being brought to reality. It could be the beginning of a technological revolution that could make holograms an everyday experience.

(inhabitat, feb 22nd)

Drones overhead in L.A.’s Valley are tracking mobile devices’ locations

It was only a matter of time before drones started monitoring signals from mobile devices.

Since early February, several small drones flying around the San Fernando Valley in Los Angeles have been determining mobile devices’ locations from Wi-Fi and cellular transmission signals.

They are part of an experiment by Singapore-based location marketing firm Adnear, which has offices around the world. The firm told me that, to its knowledge, this is the first time an adtech company has employed drones to collect wireless data.

The capture does not involve conversations or personally identifiable information, according to director of marketing and research Smriti Kataria. It uses signal strength, cell tower triangulation, and other indicators to determine where the device is, and that information is then used to map the user’s travel patterns.

(venture beat, feb 23rd)

Many reporters have contentious relationships with sources and with the government, but James Risen is in a class of his own. The veteran New York Times national-security reporter has scored some notable scoops the authorities didn’t want him to—most notably about a failed CIA sabotage operation on Iran’s nuclear program. When Risen got the story the first time, the government convinced The Times to quash it for national-security reasons. (He eventually published it in a book).

The CIA thought it knew who leaked the info, and it subpoenaed Risen to reveal his source. Demanding this of a journalist is technically legal, but is highly unusual and often frowned-upon. Risen refused to divulge the source and said he’d go to jail instead, setting up a long showdown with the Justice Department. Ultimately, Risen won. Under pressure, Attorney General Eric Holder vowed, ambiguously, “As long as I’m attorney general, no reporter who is doing his job is going to go to jail.” Risen testified, refusing to name his source, and the Justice Department still managed to convict Jeffrey Sterling for leaking. Everyone else lived happily ever after.

Or not. Risen has launched a one-man crusade against Holder and the Obama administration. Risen escalated that this week with a series of angry tweets replying to a speech Holder gave the National Press Club, in which the reporter blasted the current White House as the greatest enemy of press freedom in a generation and accused the attorney general of shredding the First Amendment.

Critics called it a rant; Risen said it was merely a fact-check. That divided response shows the dangers for reporters debating press freedom. It’s the one area that can turn otherwise impartial journalists into fierce advocates. While many in the media see that as an essential risk, it is no doubt a risk. It’s also unclear whether the public is on the press’ side, and how it might react to that advocacy.

(the atlantic, feb 23rd)

Video: People Will Sign Anything You Ask Them To If You Wear An Obama T-Shirt

Armed only with a clipboard, a pen and an Obama T-shirt, activist Mark Dice succeeded in getting Americans to sign a petition without even telling them what it was for or why he was asking for their support.

Dice regularly highlights how brainwashed many Americans are by asking them to sign ridiculous phony petitions. This time, however, he garnered many signatures without even bothering to explain what it was the people were signing.

(Infowars, feb 23rd)

US slavery simulation game draws criticism for making oppression ‘fun’

Some experts in slavery and race relations also said they were in favor of the game

A computer game simulating the experiences of a US slave girl in the 19th Century has sparked outrage across the country. Critics believe the game doesn’t depict the true brutality of slavery and students should look to other resources to learn about it.

(russia today, feb 23rd)

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