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Wednesday, February 25, 2015

NEWS FOR 2/24/2015 Tuesday February 24th 2015


14 Signs That Most Americans Are Flat Broke And Totally Unprepared For The Coming Economic Crisis

#1 According to a survey that was just released, 24 percent of all Americans have more credit card debt than emergency savings.

#2 That same survey discovered that an additional 13 percent of all Americans do not have any credit card debt, but they do not have a single penny of emergency savings either.

#3 At this point, approximately 62 percent of all Americans are living paycheck to paycheck.

#4 Adults under the age of 35 in the United States currently have a savings rate ofnegative 2 percent.

#5 More than half of all students in U.S. public schools come from families that are poor enough to qualify for school lunch subsidies.

#6 A study that was conducted last year found that more than one out of every three adults in the United States has an unpaid debt that is “in collections“.

#7 One survey discovered that 52 percent of all Americans really cannot even financially afford the homes that they are living in right now.

#8 According to research conducted by Atif Mian of Princeton University and Amir Sufi of the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, 40 percent of Americans could not come up with $2000 right now without borrowing it.

#9 That same study found that 60 percent of Americans could not say yes to the following question…

    “Do you have 3 months emergency funds to cover expenses in case of sickness, job loss, economic downturn?”

#10 A different study discovered that less than one out of every four Americans has enough money stored away to cover six months of expenses.

#11 Today, the average American household is carrying a grand total of 203,163 dollars of debt.

#12 It is estimated that less than 10 percent of the entire U.S. population owns any gold or silver for investment purposes.

#13 48 percent of all Americans do not have any emergency supplies in their homes whatsoever.

#14 53 percent of all Americans do not even have a minimum three day supply of nonperishable food and water in their homes.

(Economic collapse blog, feb 24th)

J.P. Morgan to start charging big clients fees on some deposits

J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. is preparing to charge large institutional customers for some deposits, citing new rules that make holding money for the clients too costly, according to a memo reviewed by The Wall Street Journal and people familiar with the plan.

The largest U.S. bank by assets is aiming to reduce the affected deposits by billions of dollars, with a focus on bringing the number down this year, these people said. The move is the latest in a series of steps large global banks have been discussing in recent months to discourage certain deposits due to new regulations and low interest rates.

J.P. Morgan’s JPM, +0.53%  steps are among the most detailed and widespread. Specifics are likely to be unveiled Tuesday by J.P. Morgan executives at the bank’s annual strategy outlook with investors, these people said. Among other points, the bank is expected to stress alternatives customers affected by the deposit moves can use for their excess cash.

The plan won’t affect the bank’s retail customers, but some corporate clients and especially an array of financial firms, including hedge funds, private-equity firms and foreign banks, will feel the impact, according to the memo.

J.P. Morgan is making the moves because certain deposits are less profitable to handle than they used to be. New federal rules essentially penalize banks for holding deposits viewed as prone to fleeing during a crisis or a stressed environment.

(market watch, feb 24th)

U.S. Homeownership Rate Hits 20-Year Low

 The homeownership rate in the United States dropped to a 20-year low of 64.5 percent in 2014, according to new data released by the Census Bureau.

The homeownership rate is the percentage of households that own the home in which they live. “It is computed,” says the Census Bureau, “by dividing the number of households that are owners by the total number of occupied households."

The last time the annual homeownership rate was lower than 64.5 percent was in 1994, when it was 64.0%, according to Table 15 in the Census Bureau’s “Housing Vacancies and Homeownership” data.

(CNS news, feb 24th)

GLOBAL CONFLICTS________________

Islamic State militants have abducted at least 90 people from Assyrian Christian villages in northeastern Syria, a monitoring group tracking violence in Syria said on Tuesday.

The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said they carried out dawn raids on rural villages inhabited by the ancient Christian minority west of Hasaka, a city mainly held by the Kurds.

(Reuters, feb 24th)

Iraq Accuses Britain of Delivering Weapons to Islamic State

Iran’s FAR News Agency reports the Iraq Army has shot down two British planes delivering weapons to the Islamic State.

“The Iraqi Parliament’s National Security and Defense Committee has access to the photos of both planes that are British and have crashed while they were carrying weapons for the ISIL,” Head of the committee Hakem al-Zameli said, according to the Arabic-language information center of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq.

The incident was reported by foreign and alternative media but not mentioned by the establishment media in the U.S. Europe.

Hakem al-Zameli, a senior Iraqi legislator, added that the current government in Baghdad is receiving daily reports from security forces in al-Anbar province about flights airdropping weapons to ISIS.

He said the U.S. wants to promote chaos in Iraq and does this by supporting the Islamic State.

Other Iraqi lawmakers are complaining about the situation.

“We have discovered weapons made in the US, European countries and Israel from the areas liberated from ISIL’s control in Al-Baqdadi region,” the al-Ahad news website quoted the head of the al-Anbar Provincial Council Khalaf Tarmouz as saying.

Weapons made in Europe and Israel were also discovered in Ramadi, Tarmouz said.

“The US drops weapons for the ISIL on the excuse of not knowing about the whereabouts of the ISIL positions and it is trying to distort the reality with its allegations,” he said.

(Infowars, feb 24th)

Britain to send military advisers to Ukraine, announces Cameron

British military personnel are to be deployed to Ukraine for the first time in the next few weeks to provide advice and training to government troops, David Cameron announced before a committee of MPs.

The prime minister said Britain would be “the strongest pole in the tent”, and argued for tougher sanctions against Moscow if Russian-backed militias in eastern Ukraine failed to observe the provisions of a ceasefire agreement reached this month with the Ukrainian president, Petro Poroshenko.

(guardian, feb 24th)

Poroshenko Gets His Guns in UAE: Unlike Europe, Arabs Aren’t Afraid of WW3

UAE has blamed Russia for the fall in oil prices.

During his visit to Abu Dhabi, UAE on Tuesday, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko announced that he had signed a weapons deal with the Persian Gulf nation, without providing any more details.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko announced the signing of a deal on military and technical cooperation with the United Arab Emirates on Tuesday, during his visit to the IDEX-2015 Arms Expo in Abu Dhabi.

The president told reporters that he had signed a “very important memorandum about military and technical cooperation” with his UAE counterparts, without providing any more information on what the agreement will entail. The deal was struck between Ukrainian officials and UAE Crown Prince and Armed Forces Deputy Supreme Commander Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan

(Sputnik, feb 24th)

Saudis might help Israel attack Iran in exchange for progress in peace process

In private talks with European sources, the Saudis have expressed their willingness to cooperate with Israel on Iran, including use of Saudi air space by the IDF for a possible air strike, according to a report by Channel 2.

Cooperation with Saudi Arabia would not come free, however. According to the report, the Saudi officials said they would need to see progress between Israelis and Palestinians before having enough legitimacy to allow Israel to use their air space.

(JPost, feb 24th)

Iran opposition unveils 'secret' Tehran nuclear site

An exiled Iranian opposition group Tuesday accused Tehran of running a "secret" uranium enrichment site close to Tehran, which it said violated ongoing talks with global powers on a nuclear deal.

"Despite the Iranian regime's claims that all of its enrichment activities are transparent ... it has in fact been engaged in research and development with advanced centrifuges at a secret nuclear site called Lavizan-3," said Alireza Jafarzadeh, deputy director of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI).

He said the site was hidden in a military base in the northeastern suburbs of Tehran.

He presented to reporters a series of satellite images drawn from Google Maps which he said backed "this intelligence from highly placed sources within the Iranian regime as well as those involved in the nuclear weapons projects."

The Lavizan-3 site was apparently constructed between 2004 and 2008 and has underground labs connected by a tunnel.

"Since 2008, the Iranian regime has secretly engaged in research and uranium enrichment with advanced... centrifuge machines at this site," Jafarzadeh said.

The group had shared its information with the US administration, he added.

The existence of the site was "a clear violation" of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty as well as UN resolutions and an interim November 2013 deal struck with global powers gathered in the P5+1 group, he said.

Under the interim accord, Iran agreed not to allow "any new locations for enrichment" and to provide IAEA, the UN nuclear watchdog, all information about its nuclear facilities.

"It is absolutely senseless to continue the negotiations," added Jafarzadeh.

The NCRI is a political umbrella of five Iranian opposition groups, the largest of which is the People's Mujahedeen Organization of Iran, which was once banned in Europe and the United States as a terror group.

(AFP, feb 24th)

Message On Russian Missile Threatens to Blow Up Obama

The missile mock-up has the hammer and sickle on it, indicating this prop was created by the communists, not the Russian government. Communist parties are now considered alternative political parties in Russia, not the ruling party.

(Infowars, feb 24th)

New terror alert for France after 'at least' five drones are spotted flying above Paris landmarks including Eiffel Tower and the US embassy

-Unmanned aircraft were seen flying over tourist hotspots in French capital
-Appeared in 'at least' five locations in the city between midnight and 6am
-Security officials were unable to catch the operators of the drone aircraft
-Civilian drones are thought a serious security risk and are banned in Paris

(daily mail, feb 24th)

U.S. Military No Longer Able to Fight Two Wars at Same Time

The United States military does not currently have the ability to fight two major wars simultaneously, according to a new report, a significant reduction from the capacity enjoyed by defense officials for decades.

The Heritage Foundation’s “2015 Index of U.S. Military Strength” concludes that the armed forces “would be ill-equipped to handle two, near-simultaneous major regional contingencies (MRC).” The two-MRC goal was largely attained during the Cold War, when U.S. forces engaged in a conflict every 15 to 20 years while maintaining ground forces in other regions to ensure stability and deter aggressors.

That strategy enables the U.S. military to defeat one adversary in a conflict while preventing another aggressor—seeking to take advantage of the United States’ preoccupation with the first conflict—from defeating it in a separate theater.

But this strategy is no longer feasible, according to the report.

(free beacon, feb 24th)


States predict inmates' future crimes with secretive surveys

 States are trying to reduce prison populations with secretive, new psychological assessments to predict which inmates will commit future crimes and who might be safe to release, despite serious problems and high-profile failures, an Associated Press investigation found.

These programs are part of a national, data-driven movement to drive down prison populations, reduce recidivism and save billions. They include questionnaires often with more than 100 questions about an offender's education, family, income, job status, history of moving, parents' arrest history — or whether he or she has a phone. A score is affixed to each answer and the result helps shape how the offender will be supervised in the system — or released from custody.

Used for crimes ranging from petty thievery to serial murders, these questionnaires come with their own set of risks, according to the AP's examination.

Many rely on criminals to tell the truth, and jurisdictions don't always check to make sure the answers are accurate. They are used inconsistently across the country, sometimes within the same jurisdiction. The same defendant might be scored differently in the same crime.

Supporters cite some research, such as a 1987 Rand Corp. study that said the surveys accurately can predict the likelihood of repeat offenses as much as 70 percent of the time if they are used correctly. But even the Rand study, one of the seminal pieces of research on the subject, was skeptical of the surveys' overall effectiveness. It's nearly impossible to measure the surveys' impact on recidivism because they are only part of broader efforts.

(AP, feb 24th)

Obama’s Extremism Summit Promoted Big Government Extremism

Few media reports or analysts focused on the fact that Obama’s extremism summit ended up promoting all sorts of anti-Constitution and Big Government extremism — much of it to be imposed at the international level, all of it under the guise of fighting nebulous notions of non-Islamic extremism. Officially dubbed the Summit on Countering Violent Extremism, last week’s gathering was an extravaganza for pushing radically increased government power, centralization of power at the federal and global levels, government propaganda, and numerous other extremist schemes. Some analysts even described Obama’s summit as a bizarre convergence of the extreme Left and extremist Islam to push common goals: Big Government, less liberty, more wealth redistribution, blurring the lines between church and state by having government “train” and fund “religious leaders,” and open attacks on traditional American ideals.

Statements made by Obama, Secretary of State John Kerry, and other senior U.S. officials support that view. In a “fact sheet” about the summit posted on the White House webpage, for example, the administration explains how it is working with “local communities” to counter extremism. But “local communities” in an unconstitutional “partnership” with the federal government will not be the only entities involved. Indeed, in the fact sheet, the White House makes clear yet again that the United Nations and emerging regional regimes will play a key role in the battle. At a UN summit last year, Obama called on the largely autocratic UN member regimes, many with links to terror and mass-murder, to return this year with steps to address “the underlying grievances and conflicts that feed extremism.” At the summit last week, the president added that, “if we’re serious about countering violent extremism, we have to get serious about confronting these economic grievances.”

(new american, feb 24th)

CIA Planning Major Expansion of Cyber-Espionage Capabilities

The CIA, usually known for its human-based intelligence gathering work, has announced plans to expand its cyber-espionage operations.

The changes will come as part of a restructuring effort after the agency decided that in the age of digital media, it’s traditional, human-centered approach to intelligence gathering is behind the times, US officials told the Washington Post.

“[CIA Director John] Brennan is trying to update the agency to make sure it is prepared to tackle the challenges in front of it,” said a U.S. official familiar with the plan told the Post, adding that “I just don’t think you can separate the digital world people operate in” from the CIA’s traditional methods.

Though it’s not confirmed, the agency may go so far as to create a new cyber directorate as part of a shift to break down barriers between its analysis and operations branches. However, CIA spokesman Dean Boyd said that “final decisions have not yet been made with respect to agency reorganization efforts.”

The fact that broad organizational changes were being considered for the agency first made headlines when a memo was partially made public in November 2014.

“I have become increasingly convinced that the time has come to take a fresh look at how we are organized as an agency and at whether our current structure, and ways of doing business, need adjustment,” read part of message from Brennan to CIA employees obtained by the Post at the time.

The CIA already has an Information Operations Center which conducts cyber-espionage, and which will be elevated under a cyber-expansion,  and an Open Source Center, which searches publicly available data like social media posts and online forums. The expansion, into what is normally considered the NSA’s territory will no doubt fuel debates on whether US intelligence agencies inefficiently duplicate espionage efforts, as the intelligence community grows unwieldy.

(Sputnik, feb 24th)

How regulators and legislators make it harder for you to use solar power

 When homeowners or businesses install solar panels, state laws ensure utility companies pay for unused electricity that is routed back into the power grid - a practice known as net metering.

Currently, 43 states and the District of Columbia have implemented net metering policies, some of which are more favorable than others, but all of which turn the power grid into a two-way street.

The cost of rooftop solar-powered electricity will be on par with prices for common fossil-fuel power generation in just two years, and the technology to produce it will only get cheaper, according to Deutsche Bank's leading solar industry analyst, Vishal Shah.

As Americans have warmed to solar power and its ability to reduce electricity bills, utilities are suffering revenue losses and have been seeking ways to recoup that money. Over the past several years, state utility commissions and legislatures have pursued policies that reduce the benefits of adopting distributed solar power systems for homeonwers and businesses.

(Computer world, feb 24th)

Obama vetoes Keystone XL pipeline bill

Defying the Republican-run Congress, President Barack Obama rejected a bill Tuesday to approve construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline, wielding his veto power for only the third time in his presidency.

Obama offered no indication of whether he'll eventually issue a permit for the pipeline, whose construction has become a flashpoint in the U.S. debate about environmental policy and climate change. Instead, Obama sought to reassert his authority to make the decision himself, rebuffing GOP lawmakers who will control both the House and Senate for the remainder of the president's term

(AP, feb 24th)


Ex-FCC Chief “Shocked” by Feds’ Attempt to Regulate Internet

Former FCC Chairman Michael Powell told CNBC today that he was shocked by the federal agency’s rush to regulate the Internet as a vote looms on a 332 page plan that remains secret.

“The order goes far beyond protecting net neutrality which was the original purpose and in fact introduces a new regulatory regime for the Internet,” said Powell, adding “I think it’s fair to say we are shocked.”

Powell downplayed concerns made by net neutrality advocates about ISPs blocking or throttling content, asserting, “They’ve never done any of the things that net neutrality purports to be protecting.”

“For three decades we’ve been retreating from this regulatory model in virtually every space of communication and we’re gonna now apply that regime to the most dynamic, innovative, free willing network in world history,” added Powell, explaining his shock at President Obama appearing in a YouTube video to direct the FCC to implement the new regulatory measures.

(Infowars, feb 24th)

F.C.C. Net Neutrality Rules Clear Hurdle as Republicans Concede to Obama

Senior Republicans conceded on Tuesday that the grueling fight with President Obama over the regulation of Internet service appears over, with the president and an army of Internet activists victorious.

The Federal Communications Commission is expected on Thursday to approve regulating Internet service like a public utility, prohibiting companies from paying for faster lanes on the Internet. While the two Democratic commissioners are negotiating over technical details, they are widely expected to side with the Democratic chairman, Tom Wheeler, against the two Republican commissioners.

And Republicans on Capitol Hill, who once criticized the plan as “Obamacare for the Internet,” now say they are unlikely to pass a legislative response that would undo perhaps the biggest policy shift since the Internet became a reality.

“We’re not going to get a signed bill that doesn’t have Democrats’ support,” said Senator John Thune, Republican of South Dakota and chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee. “This is an issue that needs to have bipartisan support.”

(NYT, feb 24th)

Eleventh-hour drama for net neutrality

A Democrat on the Federal Communications Commission wants to see changes that could narrow the scope of new net neutrality rules set for a vote on Thursday.

Mignon Clyburn, one of three Democrats on the FCC, has asked Chairman Tom Wheeler to roll back some of his provisions before the full commission votes on them, FCC officials said.

The request — which Wheeler has yet to respond to — puts the chairman in the awkward position of having to either roll back his proposals, or defend the tough rules and convince Clyburn to back down.

It’s an ironic spot for Wheeler, who for months was considered to be favoring weaker rules than those pushed for by his fellow Democrats, before he reversed himself and backed tougher restrictions on Internet service providers.

Clyburn’s objections complicate the highly anticipated vote and add an extra bit of drama to the already high tensions on the five-member commission. 

Wheeler will need the votes of both Clyburn and Democratic Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel to pass the rules, since the two Republicans on the commission are expected to vote against anything he proposes. 

Clyburn’s changes would leave in place the central and most controversial component of Wheeler’s rules — the notion that broadband Internet service should be reclassified so that it can be treated as a telecommunications service under Title II of the Communications Act, similar to utilities like phone lines.

(the hill, feb 24th)

While the proposed regulations are mainly focused on whether companies like Comcast can block or slow Web sites, a small piece of the rules could give the government wider authority over television programming — and by extension, your TV experience. Here's how.

The FCC has a mission: To promote the rapid deployment of high-speed Internet. Under this mission, codified in Section 706 of the Communications Act, it's seen fit to knock down what it sees as barriers to the rollout of broadband. The FCC's net neutrality rules partly lean on this power. And it's also what the agency is using to try to knock down state laws that prevent cities from selling their own Internet service.

Now, some Washington lobbyists are beginning to argue that this mission doesn't just cover the Internet. Advocates for pay-TV providers are saying the FCC should use Section 706 to act more aggressively against the companies that produce TV content. Why? Because the pay-TV providers think the content producers are charging them too much for programming — and because programming costs eat into the budget for building, say, cable broadband, what hurts pay-TV providers could hurt the spread of broadband.

In short, if cable companies can convincingly argue that their costs of buying programming are effectively a barrier to broadband deployment, that's a case for federal intervention.

It's a complicated line of reasoning, so let's look at an example. Think of Google Fiber, which is trying to compete with large cable companies around the country. It has said that the biggest impediment to further network buildouts isn't the cost of infrastructure, or getting permission from cities to tear up streets. Instead, what holds Google back the most is having to pay programming networks for video content as part of the bundle it offers to consumers. Google Fiber has said that in some markets, it pays programmers twice what larger, more established cable companies pay for content.

So the pitch from pay-TV providers to the FCC is this: If you really care about broadband deployment, you should make it so we don't have to pay programmers quite so much — then we'll be able to funnel more money into rolling out high-speed Internet.

(washington post, feb 24th)

Obama's regs will make Internet slow as in Europe, warn FCC, FEC commissioners

As the Federal Communications Commission and Federal Election Commission toy with regulating aspects of the Internet, critics on those agencies are warning that speed and freedom of speech are in jeopardy.

In a joint column, Federal Communications Commission member Ajit Pai and Federal Election Commission member Lee Goodman, leveled the boom on the Obama-favored regulations, essentially charging that it will muck up the freedom the nation has come to expect from the Internet.

In one key passage of the column published in Politico, the duo wrote Monday that heavy-handed FCC regulations like those imposed in Europe will significantly slow down Internet speech.

“These Internet regulations will deter broadband deployment, depress network investment and slow broadband speeds. How do we know? Compare Europe, which has long had utility-style regulations, with the United States, which has embraced a light-touch regulatory model. Broadband speeds in the United States, both wired and wireless, are significantly faster than those in Europe. Broadband investment in the United States is several multiples that of Europe. And broadband’s reach is much wider in the United States, despite its much lower population density,” the two wrote.

(washington examiner, feb 23rd)

Net Neutrality: Silicon Valley’s Whiz Kids Are Stumped

The whiz kids of Silicon Valley are celebrating the GOP’s apparent collapse on Net Neutrality. The New York Times exults: “the little guys appear to have won.” It omits that the “little guys” are some of the richest people in America, and–by their own lights–the smartest. The odd thing is that the nerds who have an app for everything seem to be unable to explain what Net Neutrality actually is, and why we need it. Case in point: Tuesday’s epic failure by Tumblr CEO David Karp on CNBC.

Karp, who was brilliant enough to build a company that he sold to Yahoo for $1.1 billion, could not answer the most basic questions about Net Neutrality.

He could not explain why the government needs to regulate the Internet’s traffic to save it from the success that has enabled him, and others like him, to become wealthy beyond their wildest dreams.

He could not explain why a company like AT&T, which has invested in the infrastructure to make the Internet much faster and more accessible, should be barred from charging prices that would allow it to recoup its investment from those willing to pay.

Amidst the incoherent verbal muddle in which he entangled himself, Karp managed to offer two somewhat intelligible arguments: one, that consumer demand for faster Internet speeds would make up somehow for the fact that established companies would no longer build the infrastructure to carry the traffic; two, that those who disagreed with him were lying.

(breitbart, feb 24th)


With the Homeland Security Department set to shut down on Saturday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Tuesday offered Senate Democrats everything they wanted. And then, as with mice and cookies, they asked for some more.

 McConnell told reporters Tuesday that after two months of begging, he would finally agree to give Democrats a clean vote to fund DHS through the end of the fiscal year. The funding, based on an agreement between Democratic and Republican appropriators last year, would come with no strings attached.

"I've indicated to the Democratic leader that I'd be happy to have his cooperation to advance the consideration of a clean DHS bill which would carry us through till September 30th," McConnell said to press Tuesday.

Then, he would hold a vote Friday to defund President Obama's executive action on immigration, as a consolation prize for conservatives in the House and Senate who have pushed to tie the two issues together. That sequence would keep DHS open and could earn enough Democratic votes to pass the separate measure defunding the president's executive action.

(national journal, feb 24th)

McConnell Caves, But Reid Wants Full Surrender From Boehner As Well

Republican leadership in the Senate is fully caving to the demands of Democratic lawmakers calling for a so-called “clean” Department of Homeland Security funding bill that leaves President Obama’s executive amnesty intact, but Democrats are still balking at the plan.

“I’ve indicated to the Democratic leader that I’d be happy to have his cooperation to advance consideration of a clean DHS bill, which would carry us through September 30,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) told reporters Tuesday. “With Democratic cooperation on a position they have been advocating for the last two months, we could have that vote very quickly.”

“This is a total victory for the Obama position,” said a GOP senator unhappy with McConnell’s plan. “The House hasn’t passed it yet, so they might could come up with something. But that’s a grim prospect.”

But Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid balked at the offer, saying Democrats would continue to filibuster the bill until House Speaker John Boehner indicated he was willing to also pass it through the House.

“The problem is everybody, I’m waiting to hear from the Speaker. We have to make sure people understand the bicameral nature of this Congress that we serve in. So to have Sen. McConnell just pass the ball over to the House isn’t going to do the trick. I’m waiting to hear from the Speaker,” Reid said.

According to Reid, until he hears from Boehner, the issue remains “where we were.”

“We’re willing to debate anything they want dealing with immigration, after we fund homeland security,” Reid said.

In conjunction with the clean funding bill, McConnell said the Senate would also vote on stand-alone legislation block the Obama’s most recent executive amnesty, announced in November, which would provide legal status and work permits to nearly 5 million illegal immigrants and is currently under a court-issued injunction.

(Breitbart, feb 24th)

“Scare Tactics or Possible Threat?” Last Time Homeland Security Was Threatened with Budget Cuts, America Suffered a Terror Attack

Secretary of the Deparment of Homeland Security, Jeh Johnson, has admitted that there actually is no specific threat concerning malls anywhere in the nation, but yet the fear has been sown.

Nevertheless, there may be a threat to America.

Before dispelling that threat, Johnson was actually playing it up:

    Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson urged mall visitors to be careful and said he was “very concerned” about the threat.

Johnson said on CNN:

    “If anyone is planning to go to the Mall of America today, they’ve got to be particularly careful. And as the statement you read indicates, there will be enhanced security there that will be apparent… And it’s the environment we’re in, frankly. And it’s all the more reason why I need a budget.“

The last statement may be the most revealing… the politics over DHS’ budget is very much at play.

The real source of the threats may not be Somalis, but rather from those upset about budget cuts and the flow of big dollars to expensive counter-terrorism programs with an unproven track record.

The Homeland chief sharply warned:

    “To even contemplate a shutdown means contemplating cutting back on things that are vital to Homeland Security and causing terrible disruption with the American public right now,” Secretary Jeh Johnson warned.

    “A shutdown of the Department of Homeland Security in these times is frankly too bitter to contemplate, but we have to contemplate it,” Johnson said.

President Obama warned state governors at the National Governors Association– particularly those possibly bidding for the White House – against ‘playing politics with Homeland Security funding:

    “We can’t afford to play politics with our national security.”

    “They all work in your states,” Obama said of the 200,000 Homeland Security employees who would not receive paychecks if Congress fails to reach a deal to fund the department before Saturday.

    “These are folks that, if they don’t have a paycheck, are not going to be able to spend that money in your states. It will have a direct impact on your economy and it will have a direct impact on America’s national security because their hard work helps to keep us safe,”

    Republicans in Congress have voted to fund Homeland Security with legislation that guts the president’s executive actions that could allow millions of undocumented immigrants to stay in the country legally. Democrats in the Senate refuse to advance the bill, and a stalemate remains with just days to go before DHS runs out of funding.

Most of this is just budget drama, of course. Minor scare tactics.

But what everyone should know, is that last time Congress tried to undermine the budget of Homeland Security, bad things happened.

Remember the sequestration?

Then Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano issued warnings that furloughs and sequestration of funds to her department would increase wait times at the airport, reduce cargo inspection at ports and cut border patrol staff.

As Infowars reported, Napolitano even issued ‘veiled threats’ that the budget cuts could leave America vulnerable to a terror attack in February 2013:

    Homeland Security chief Janet Napolitano issued veiled threats, claiming that automatic budget cuts, known as sequestration, could trigger new terror attacks by reducing operations funds and delaying processing times ahead of March 1, when cuts begin.

    “I’m not here to scare people; I’m here to inform and let people begin to plan,” Napolitano stated. “I don’t think we can maintain the same level of security at all places around the country with sequester compared to without sequester.”

By April 12 – one week before the Boston Marathon bombing – DHS was still under threat of budget cuts, and issued this written testimony to Congress, titled:

    “The Impact of Sequestration on Homeland Security: Scare Tactics or Possible Threat?”

The testimony concluded:

    Hurricane Sandy, recent threats surrounding aviation and the continued threat of homegrown terrorism demonstrate how we must remain vigilant and prepared. Threats from terrorism and response and recovery efforts associated with natural disasters will not diminish because of budget cuts to DHS.

    Even in this current fiscal climate, we do not have the luxury of making significant reductions to our capabilities without placing our Nation at risk. Rather, we must continue to prepare for, respond to, and recover from evolving threats and disasters – and we require sufficient resources to sustain and adapt our capabilities accordingly.

One can take this at face value and assume that reduced funding makes it easier for the terrorists to attack. Or, one can read between the lines and see the scare tactics that the federal government is willing to embrace to secure funding from Congress and support from a terrified public.

Either way, the threat is real, and that is why we are seeing publicized threats to America’s shopping malls – despite the officially admitted absence of a ‘credible threat.’

It is worth pointing out that Homeland Security and the controversial TSA passenger screening program have never caught a terrorist. They have never stopped a credible attack before it has occurred.

Despite massive funding and much of the nation’s attention, the only attacks that have been thwarted inside the United States have been sting operations set-up and literally organized by the FBI – where suspects where approached, and armed with plans, weapons and cash – and then stopped before they could be carried out.

(SHTFplan, feb 24th)

Terror threat to Mall of America could result in huge gun rights victory

The terrorist threat against the nation’s largest shopping mall over the weekend has led one state lawmaker to announce plans to challenge the Mall of America’s policy prohibiting patrons from carrying firearms inside.

State Rep. Tony Cornish, the Republican chairman of the Minnesota House of Representative Public Safety Committee, told WCCO in Minnesota on Sunday that the threat by the North African terrorist group al-Shabab showed the mall’s policy is misguided.

“This is completely ridiculous. The complete opposite of what they should be doing,” Cornish said. “If we’re threatened with an attack, the last thing you want to do is disarm citizens.”

The mall currently bans all patrons from carrying firearms inside on the grounds that it’s private property. Under Cornish’s proposal, firearms would be allowed in public areas of the mall, while individual stores would have the option of prohibiting guns if they chose.

(Bizpac review, feb 24th)

IMMIGRATION AND BORDERS___________________

Secret TSA Program Quizzes Travelers Returning to U.S.

Federal agency interviews Americans abroad before allowing them to fly home

Activist Jonathan Corbett has lifted the lid on a chilling and hitherto secret TSA program which mandates that airlines operating outside of the U.S. conduct invasive security interviews of travelers before allowing them to return to America.

Corbett uncovered the program after he was asked a number of personal questions before being allowed to board an American Airlines flight from London Heathrow to New York in December, including why he was traveling and how long he had been away. Corbett initially refused to answer before a second agent made it clear that he would be stranded if he didn’t comply. After Corbett answered the questions, a security sticker was placed on his passport indicating he had completed the interview.

The procedure is very similar to the TSA’s domestic SPOT program, which was slammed as a $900 million dollar waste of money by a Government Accountability Office investigation in 2013 after it failed to identify a single terrorist.

Corbett wrote to American Airlines, who told him that the program was under the control of the DHS/TSA and that details were unavailable due to being under a “Sensitive Security Information” (SSI) designation.

When Corbett asked the TSA what would happen if a traveler declined to take part in the interview, the TSA’s Office of Global Strategies Communications Desk responded, “If a passenger declines the security interview, American Airlines will deny the passenger boarding.”

“The airline and government is admitting here that there is a program to interview travelers as a condition of flying. I had never heard of such a thing before,” writes Corbett, noting that an extensive Google search turns up no public statements from the TSA about the program’s existence.

“U.S. citizens have the right to re-enter their home country. We also have the right to remain silent when interacting with government officials. The TSA has secretly tried to trick us into picking only one of those two rights,” states Corbett, asserting that the program is “an unconstitutional violation of our Fifth Amendment rights.”

Corbett has filed two simultaneous lawsuits to ascertain why the TSA is forcing airlines to hire interrogators to operate outside international gates and is demanding a jury trial, asserting that the program is a violation of 5th amendment rights because it coerces travelers to comply.

(Infowars, feb 24th)

Leaked E-mail: Border Patrol Instructed to Curtail Deportation Proceedings

President Obama claimed his executive amnesty would “stem the flow of illegal crossings and speed the return of those who do crossover.” But internal e-mails obtained by National Review Online reveal that his administration has taken steps to ensure the opposite outcome, ordering Border Patrol agents to curtail the initiation of deportation proceedings and to screen the illegal border crossers they detail for eligibility under the president’s deferred-action programs instead. 

Before a federal judge last week halted the president’s executive amnesty program, the Border Patrol issued new guidance to agents that would eliminate the likelihood of deportation for thousands of illegal immigrants that will encounter by Border Patrol. Border Patrol division chief Kelly C. Good e-mailed agents last month to tell them they should issue far fewer “Notices to Appear,” or NTA, in immigration court for deportation proceedings. Notices to Appear are the charging documents issued by the Department of Homeland Security, of which the Border Patrol is a part, to commence deportation proceedings. “Under the Executive Action, there will be limited instances where we will issue an NTA,” Good wrote. The result: a likely dramatic drop in the number of illegal immigrants deported from the country. 

Border Patrol training documents obtained by NRO and published last month by Breitbart indicate that Border Patrol are now instructed to proactively determine whether the illegal immigrants they detain qualify for the deferred action programs authorized by Obama’s executive orders – that is, broadly speaking, whether they are parents of legal residents. The training materials distributed direct agents to “proactively identify detained and newly encountered individuals who may qualify” for the president’s programs and to refer them to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

 As NRO previously reported, the federal judge’s injunction prevents Border Patrol agents from considering the president’s programs when processing individuals. But Border Patrol is still adhering to DHS secretary Jeh Johnson’s border enforcement guidelines that accompanied the president’s executive actions. So, while the president is saying one thing, his bureaucracy is doing another.

(National review, feb 24th)

Muslim Immigration Poses Serious National Security Threat

The threat Muslim immigrants pose to homeland security was not addressed during the White House's three-day summit on terrorism.

Instead, Vice President Joe Biden assured Muslim groups gathered during one session that the "wave" of Muslim immigration is "not going to stop." Wave? More like a tsunami.

Between 2010 and 2013, the Obama administration imported almost 300,000 new immigrants from Muslim nations — more immigrants than the U.S. let in from Central America and Mexico combined over that period. This is a sea change in immigration flows, and it threatens national security.

Many of the recent Muslim immigrants are from terrorist hot spots like Iraq, where the Islamic State operates. From 2010-2013, Obama ushered in 41,094 Iraqi nationals from there.

Now the State Department says it will quadruple the number of refugees brought here from Syria, where IS is headquartered. The U.S. will admit as many as 2,000 Syrian nationals by the end of fiscal year 2015, up from 525 since fiscal 2011.

Yes, the number of displaced people inside war-torn Syria and Iraq, an estimated 3 million refugees, rivals the most in Mideast history. But rolling out the welcome mat for them in the middle of a mushrooming war on Muslim terrorism is dangerously shortsighted.

Top U.S. counterterror officials say terrorists could easily slip into the country from Iraq and Syria, in spite of promised screening procedures for such refugees.

"It's clearly a population of concern," National Counterterrorism Center Director Nicholas Rasmussen testified this week.

House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Mike McCaul called the new policy "a federally sanctioned welcome party to potential terrorists."

That's no stretch. If just a fraction of the 300,000 new Muslim immigrants already here follow in the footsteps of the Franco-Algerian brothers who recently terrorized Paris, we could be facing chronic terror in our cities.

(Investors, feb 19th) (sorry for being 5 days late)

Hispanics Could Account for 40% of U.S. Job Growth by 2020

The U.S. Hispanic population will account for 40% of employment growth over the next five years and more than 75% from 2020 to 2034, according to a new study.

That’s around 11 million jobs out of 14 million new positions across the economy.

Job growth among the Hispanic population is particularly notable given that the growth of the non-Hispanic working age population is set to slow to near zero as the number of new non-Hispanic workers will barely match the drop from retiring baby boomers, according to the study from IHS Global Insight, an economic forecasting firm.

The forecast sees Hispanic labor-force growth set to accelerate by an average 2.6% over the next 20 years, even as the labor force will grow by 0.6% for the country as a whole from 2020 to 2034.

The result is that the Hispanic share of U.S. employment will increase to 23% over the next two decades, from 16% last year, according to the study by James Gillula, managing director at IHS.

(WSJ, feb 24th)


More than 4.5 MILLION Americans with Obamacare subsidies will have to pay back an average of $530 – and they're all poor or middle-class taxpayers

A majority of Americans who received government subsidies to help pay for their Obamacare insurance policies will have to give some of that money back when they file their tax returns, according to research published Tuesday by the tax preparation firm H&R Block.

Those taxpayers will owe about $530 each, on average, amounting to a 17 per cent decrease in the typical tax refund.

The Department of Health and Human Services announced on Feb. 9 that nearly 6.5 million people who live in the 37 states covered by its website would qualify for abn Obamacare tax credit this year since htey can't afford to pay the full price for medical insurance.

That means nationwide more than 4.5 million will see part of their April 15 refunds shaved away, according to a Daily Mail Online analysis.

(Daily mail, feb 24th)

Dems run away from Obamacare penalty they imposed

The Democrats who wrote and passed the Affordable Care Act were sure of two things: The law had to include a mandate requiring every American to purchase health insurance, and it had to have an enforcement mechanism to make the mandate work. Enforcement has always been at the heart of Obamacare.

Now, though, enforcement time has come, and some Democrats are shying away from the coercive measures they themselves wrote into law.

The Internal Revenue Service is the enforcement arm of Obamacare, and with tax forms due April 15, Americans who did not purchase coverage and who have not received one of the many exemptions already offered by the administration are discovering they will have to pay a substantial fine. For a household with, say, no kids and two earners making $35,000 a piece, the fine will be $500, paid at tax time.

That's already a fact. What is particularly worrisome to Democrats now is that, as those taxpayers discover the penalty they owe, they will already be racking up a new, higher penalty for 2015. This year, the fine for not obeying Obamacare's edict is $325 per adult, or two percent of income above the filing threshold, whichever is higher. So that couple making $35,000 a year each will have to pay $1,000.

There's another problem. The administration's enrollment period just ended on February 15. So if people haven't signed up for Obamacare already, they'll be stuck paying the higher penalty for 2015.

(washington examier, feb 24th)

POLICE STATE___________________

FBI, Cops Raid Republic of Texas Meeting, Fingerprint Members, Seize Cellphones, Computers

The Bryan Police Department, the Brazos County Sheriff’s Office, the Kerr County Sheriff’s Office, Agents of the Texas District Attorney, the Texas Rangers and the FBI raided a congressional meeting for the Republic of Texas held in Bryan, Texas.

More than 20 police and agents prevented the members from leaving, seized their cellphones, recording equipment, computers and fingerprinted them.

The raid was in response to to legal summons sent by Republic of Texas members to a Kerr County judge and bank employee. The organization demanded the judge and bank employee appear before Republic of Texas court held at the Veterans and Foreign Wars building in Bryan on the day the police raided the meeting.

State and federal officials say the chief justice of the international Common Law Court for the Republic of Texas had issued writs of quo warranto, mandamus and a subpoena not recognized by county, state and federal governments.

“You can’t just let people go around filing false documents to judges trying to make them appear in front of courts that aren’t even real courts,” Kerr County sheriff Rusty Hierholzer told the Houston Chronicle.

The group believes the state of Texas was illegally annexed by the federal government and Texas remains an independent nation under occupation.

Police told the newspaper they did not want a repeat of a 1997 week-long standoff between the group and police.

(Infowars, feb 24th)

Cupcake Cop Pepper-Sprays Grandmother In the Face, Dislocates Her Shoulder

78-Year-Old Was Attempting To Give Treats To Grandchildren

A grandmother in Fresno, California was left with several fractured bones and a dislocated shoulder after being attacked by a police officer for the crime of trying to deliver cupcakes to her grandchildren.

78-year-old Mary Poole was attempting to give the treats to the children while they were at Kastner Intermediate School. Poole opted to do this because their parents are currently embroiled in divorce and custody proceedings.

“I hadn’t seen my granddaughters for some time and I wanted to see them, and so I baked some cupcakes and bought some cookies for my granddaughters’ classroom,” Poole told reporters with a local ABC affiliate.

However, the gesture was not welcomed by the Clovis Unified police officer, who falsely claimed that Poole was not allowed to see the children due to a court order.

As Poole began to leave the school grounds, she decided to call her son to explain the situation. Clearly aggravated by Poole’s refusal to accept his false claims, the cop became violent, grabbing the grandmother and pepper spraying her in the face as she struggled to break free.

“He wouldn’t listen to anything I had to say, period. Every time I tried telling him anything…I mean, I was even telling him, ‘I’m 78 years old,’ before he grabbed me. He sprayed me with mace twice,” Poole said.

Poole stands at under 5 feet and about 110 pounds, hardly a match for any police officer.

“I was very frightened, and I told him to call the police and he said, ‘I am the police. He jerked me out of my car with my left arm with such great force, and then threw me onto the pavement. From there he dragged me by my left arm up to the school grounds,” she added.

Poole’s injuries at the hands of the cop equated to more than $180,000 in medical bills. She has filed a lawsuit alleging police brutality and elderly abuse.

“The amount of force it took to inflict these injuries is testament to what happened that day,” said Mark Coleman, Poole’s attorney.

(Infowars, feb 24th)

The Chicago police department operates an off-the-books interrogation compound, rendering Americans unable to be found by family or attorneys while locked inside what lawyers say is the domestic equivalent of a CIA black site.

The facility, a nondescript warehouse on Chicago’s west side known as Homan Square, has long been the scene of secretive work by special police units. Interviews with local attorneys and one protester who spent the better part of a day shackled in Homan Square describe operations that deny access to basic constitutional rights.

Alleged police practices at Homan Square, according to those familiar with the facility who spoke out to the Guardian after its investigation into Chicago police abuse, include:

    -Keeping arrestees out of official booking databases.
    -Beating by police, resulting in head wounds.
    -Shackling for prolonged periods.
    -Denying attorneys access to the “secure” facility.
    -Holding people without legal counsel for between 12 and 24 hours, including people as young as 15.

(guardian, feb 24th)

Sheriff’s Deputy Spearheads Program to Aid Local Homeless

According to KREM News, Deputy Randy Watts began developing the idea after encountering a homeless man found sleeping below a building last month.

“One of the instances I had a transient that was sleeping underneath a closed business,” Watts said. “So someone called in a suspicious person. We contact that person, there’s no law enforcement action necessary so then we turn to what can we do to help him.”

Following the incident, Watts headed down to the Union Gospel Mission and devised a way to provide the homeless with much needed items while on patrol.

With bags full of hand warmers, socks, toothbrushes and water, Watts began handing out the “transient assistance kits” on a daily basis.

“I pass two or three out a night,” Watts said. “It feels good as an officer to be able to help.”

The Union Gospel Mission stated that Watts’ program has yielded enormous success since the pair partnered less than one month ago.

“He has been just absolutely phenomenal as far as spearheading this…” an employee said.

In an effort to battle misinformation, Watts also includes important facts on the role of local shelters inside each kit.

“It’s been really great,” Watts said. “There’s a lot of miscommunication or misinterpretation that the transients have about the warming shelters… about the services offered in Spokane.”

Similar actions by officers such as Watts seldom receive recognition as they are often ignored or overshadowed by instances of police corruption.

(Infowars, feb 24th)

MISCELLANEOUS NEWS____________________

FedEx Refuses to Ship Revolutionary Gun Making Tool

International shipping company FedEx stands accused of refusing to ship a small business owner’s gun-related product, in what the entrepreneur claims is an underhanded attack on gun rights, individual liberty and the Second Amendment.

Dark Wallet innovator and 3D printed gun inventor Cody Wilson says FedEx’s refusal to ship his company’s latest product, the Ghost Gunner, has left him with no way to fulfill paying customers’ orders, effectively putting him out of business.

FedEx’s refusal is bizarre because the Ghost Gunner isn’t a gun. It’s a machine.

“It’s like a computer controlled mill, but it’s small, it’s affordable, it sits on your desktop,” described Wilson to Infowars. “And, notably, it can capably manufacture an AR-15 lower receiver from 80 percent manufacture.”

Wilson says FedEx’s move is purely political, and accuses the global courier of colluding with the federal government to take him out of business and ostensibly prevent the spread of firearms.

“My assertion here is that FedEx is trying to hide behind color of law,” Wilson argues. “Really they’re more interested in the political implications of my device than its legality. They don’t like the idea; they’re uncomfortable with the idea that people could have such easy access to guns, and will perform by extension what Eric Holder and the administration cannot do.”

After weeks of stalling, Wilson’s company, Defense Distributed, was ultimately denied service.

“Despite my submitting all the legal work I’d done, all the clear memorandum and stating how the law was obvious, that this was just a tool that people could use to make their guns, which is constitutionally protected activity – they said because people can use my machine to make firearms, they would not ship my machine, they would not offer me any rate at all, they do not want my business.”

The creator of the Wiki Weapon claims to also be a financial victim of Operation Choke Point, the US Justice Department-led effort to curtail the activities of certain businesses by “choking off” access to third party payment processors and other lenders.

“What we’re finding is a constellation, or a closed loop of businesses and government working together to agree by consensus that there’s only certain ways you’re gonna be able to get the gun,” Wilson says. “And they will not admit the possibility that you can constitutionally make these things for yourself without surveillance, or without commercial or ATF intervention.”

80 percent AR-15 lower receivers are legal and can easily be obtained, but require mills like Wilson’s for completion. Many gun owners prefer incomplete lowers because they don’t require registration or serialization, making them a target for the state.

(Infowars, feb 24th)

For years, critics of “Agenda 21″ have seen it as an evil, ranging from bad policy to an erosion of national sovereignty to a harbinger of one-world totalitarian government, grounded in radical principles of environmentalism and socialism.

On Monday, Montana’s House Judiciary Committee entered the debate, endorsing a bill resisting Agenda 21 — disregarding testimony describing the issue as a conspiracy theory tied to Montana’s anti-government militia movement.

House Bill 583, sponsored by MT Rep. Randall Pinocci (R-Sun River) passed the committee on an 11-10 vote.

MT Rep. Stephanie Hess (R-Havre) joined the panel’s nine Democrats to oppose the bill.

(KXLF, feb 24th)

Japanese robot bear nurses soon to care for rapidly ageing population

Robotic nurses with cute bear faces developed by Japanese engineers could soon be the future carers of the nation's growing elderly population.

Japanese research institute Riken developed the Robear to support healthcare workers, with enough power to lift frail patients from bed and support unstable patients on their feet.

The Robear is based on an earlier model called RIBA, which was introduced in 2011. The upgraded Robear is about 90 kilograms lighter than its predecessor, capable of more subtle movements and sports an even cuter look.

"The polar cub-like look is aimed at radiating an atmosphere of strength, geniality and cleanliness at the same time," research leader Toshiharu Mukai said.

"We voted for this design among options presented by our designer. We hope to commercialise the robot in the not too distant future."
High-tech funerals in Japan

High-tech "skyscraper graveyards" are one of the ways Japan's booming funeral industry is responding to the nation's rapidly ageing population.

A historically low birth rate and ever-increasing life expectancy means Japan's population of elderly people is growing, while the pool of youngsters to look after them is shrinking.

Japan's declining population puts it on course to lose half its workforce by 2060, and possibly its status as an economic superpower.

(ABC, feb 24th)

An Islamic court in Saudi Arabia has sentenced a man to death for renouncing his Muslim faith, the English-language daily Saudi Gazette reported on Tuesday.

The man, in his 20s, posted an online video ripping up a copy of Islam’s holy book, the Koran, and hitting it with a shoe, the newspaper reported.

Saudi Arabia, the United States’ top Arab ally and birthplace of Islam, follows the strict Wahhabi Sunni Muslim school and gives the clergy control over its justice system.

Under the Wahhabi interpretation of Sharia Islamic law, apostasy demands the death penalty, as do some other religious offences like sorcery, while blasphemy and criticism of senior Muslim clerics have incurred jail terms and corporal punishment.

(telegraph, feb 24th)

Eric Garner’s daughter on Al Sharpton: ‘He’s all about the money’

Al Sharpton is all about the Benjamins, a daughter of police chokehold victim Eric Garner claims in a bombshell videotape.

Erica Snipes tees off on the reverend as interested primarily in money during a secretly recorded conversation by controversial conservative activist James O’Keefe’s group, Project Veritas.

One of O’Keefe’s investigators poses as a Garner supporter with a hidden camera during a protest last month at the St. George Ferry Terminal on Staten Island.

“You think Al Sharpton is kind of like a crook in a sense?” the investigator is heard asking Garner’s oldest daughter.

“He’s about this,” Snipes replies, rubbing her fingers together.

“He’s about money with you?” the undercover asks.

“Yeah,” Snipes responds.

Snipes, 24, also complained that the Staten Island director of Sharpton’s National Action Network, Cynthia Davis, scolded her for handing out street fliers about her father’s case that did not include NAN’s logo.

“She started attacking me. ‘Oh, I see that you got this flier out, how come you didn’t add the logo?’ ’’ Snipes said.

The undercover then asks, “They want their logo on your fliers?”

“Instead of me, he wants his face in front,” Snipes says, referring to Sharpton

“But it’s not about them, it’s about your dad,” the undercover says.

“Exactly,” Snipes responds.

“Al Sharpton paid for the funeral. She’s trying to make me feel like I owe them,” she adds.

In an interview with The Post on Monday night, Snipes denied that she had accused Sharpton of being a money-grubber.

“No, I didn’t say that I think Al Sharpton is all about the money,” she said.

‘Al Sharpton paid for the funeral. [NAN Director Cynthia Davis is] trying to make me feel like I owe them.’- Erica Snipes

But she stood by her criticism of Davis, the NAN director, who she claimed tried to block her from attending a protest at the Staten Island Museum against mass incarceration.

Sharpton on Monday night accused Project Veritas of “exploiting” Snipes and a dispute within the Garner family.

“They’re splicing and dicing stuff together. It was a distortion. Erica is a sincere victim. She was not trying to infer anything with me,” Sharpton said of the secret recording.

Sharpton said the premise of the criticism is flat wrong. He said NAN helps families, including paying for funerals, and does not take money from them. He said Snipes’ sister, Emerald, now works for NAN.

Moreover, he said, NAN organizes rallies after receiving legal permits from the city and therefore requests that its logo be put on fliers for events it sponsors.

In the video, Sharpton is also criticized by leaders and supporters involved in the Michael Brown police shooting case in Ferguson, Mo., and the Trayvon Martin shooting in Florida, according to the Project Veritas videotapes.

Jean Petrus, a Brooklyn businessman who attended a recent Trayvon Martin Foundation fundraiser in Florida, is also seen criticizing Sharpton in the secretly taped video.

“He knows how to make money and get money. They’re shakedown guys to me. You know, let’s call it what it is, they’re shakedown,” he says in the video.

Petrus told The Post on Monday night that he never consented to an interview and considers himself a “friend of Sharpton.”

“It was an entrapment situation,” Petrus said. “It’s really underhanded.”

(NY Post, feb 24th)

BP can be fined as much as $4,300 per barrel of oil lost in the Gulf of Mexico during the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster, a federal judge ruled.

The figure is based on the Environmental Protection Agency’s 2010 calculation of how much $3,000, the maximum payment authorized under the Clean Water Act when it was established in 1990, would be worth today.

U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier noted in his ruling last week that BP disagreed with the $4,300 figure, not because it thought the EPA’s calculations were incorrect, but on the grounds the EPA lacks authority to calculate inflation.

(courthouse news, feb 24th)

Illinois schools mull seizing students’ social media passwords

An Illinois law approved in 2014 gives school officials the ability to demand social media passwords from students, but principals and others charged with taking action to protect students don’t seem inclined to use their new authority unless absolutely necessary.

The law is intended to give school leaders another avenue to investigate and crack down on bullying, but Plainfield School District 202 spokesman Tom Hernandez told the district hasn’t had problems dealing with students’ social media activity in the past.

“We’ve had those kind of situations and we have responded in that regard and we’ve had kids suspended and even expelled on things that have happened on social media,” Hernandez said. “That’s not new.”

Brian Schwartz, associate director and legal counsel for the Illinois Principals Association, told the news site he doesn’t believe school officials should seek students’ social media passwords because it would be an invasion of privacy, in most circumstances.

(, feb 24th)

Sharks, apex predator of the Gulf, are dying by the millions

Glenn Parsons, a biologist and shark expert from the University of Mississippi, will speak at the Houston Museum of Natural Science on Wednesday evening about sharks in the Gulf of Mexico, and how they’re threatened. I recently caught up with Parsons to speak about his work trying to save the embattled apex predators. Here’s an edited version of that discussion.

How many species of sharks are there in the Gulf? In shallow in-shore waters there are about 20 species commonly encountered, but if you include all of the really deep ocean sharks 2-3 miles down, there are a great number more, as many as 150 species. It changes all the time because new species are being described. In all the world’s oceans there are 440 species of sharks.

Are populations holding steady? Sharks have declined. Many of them have declined by 90 percent over the past 30 or 40 years. Some of them are not, we’ve seen increases in some. But many of the larger oceanic sharks have declined in the Gulf and the Atlantic.

(, feb 24th)

Reddit, Google purging nude photos, other sexually explicit content from their services

Social-networking and news site Reddit says it will remove photos, videos and links with explicit content if the person in the image hasn't given permission for it to be posted. Google Inc., the Internet's most powerful company, is going to ban most nude photos and video from publicly accessible sites on its popular Blogger service.

The crackdown marks a shift in attitude for two services that have traditionally been freewheeling forums where users could literally let it all hang out. The lax approach has opened the door for nude and sexually explicit photos and video to be posted on Reddit and Blogger, even if the subjects featured in the images intended them to remain private.

Until now, Reddit has had a hands-off approach to privacy, largely allowing its 160 million users to police their own forums within certain guidelines such as no child pornography or spam. The change comes about six months after hackers obtained nude photos of Jennifer Lawrence and other celebrities and posted them to social media sites including Reddit and Twitter.

Without specifically calling out Reddit or Twitter, Lawrence lashed out at the sites that permitted nude photos to be posted of her. She likened the unauthorized use of photos of her body as a "sex crime."

A Tuesday posting signed by Reddit interim CEO Ellen Pao and other company executives said the shift is an effort to help grow the site "for the next 10 years and beyond." Effective March 10, Reddit will prohibit any photograph, video or digital image of a person who is nude or engaged in a sexual act if the subject hasn't given permission for it to be used. Anyone who wants an image of themselves removed from the site can email

(winnipeg free press, feb 24th)

Bill O'Reilly tapes fail to back up claims of 'combat zone' reporting

CBS footage from 1982 contains nothing to support description of protesters in Buenos Aires being killed but O’Reilly says ‘I told it exactly the way it was’

Bill O’Reilly has declared himself vindicated by newly unearthed footage of a 1982 riot in Argentina, despite the archive tapes failing to support his disputed claims that he reported from a war zone massacre as a young correspondent.

The Fox News anchor showed excerpts of clips that had been released by CBS earlier on Monday at his request and claimed they backed up his descriptions of the peril he faced when reporting from the country at the end of the Falklands war.

“As I reported accurately, the violence was horrific,” O’Reilly told viewers of the O’Reilly Factor on Monday night. “In my reporting I told it exactly the way it was”.

O’Reilly has been accused by Mother Jones magazine of inflating his role in covering the Falklands war as a correspondent for CBS News. While O’Reilly has frequently claimed that he reported on the war from a “combat zone”, he in fact remained in Buenos Aires, the Argentinian capital, which was 1,200 miles away from the conflict.

O’Reilly risked intensifying the controversy on Monday by threatening a female reporter who interviewed him about the dispute. According to the New York Times, he told its reporter Emily Steel that if he did not approve of her resulting article “I’m coming after you with everything I have,” adding: “You can take it as a threat.”

The 65-year-old anchor – who earlier dismissed the Mother Jones article as “total bullshit”, “disgusting”, “defamation” and “a piece of garbage” – had promised that the archive tapes would comprehensively disprove the charges against him.

Yet the four clips released by CBS did not back up O’Reilly’s repeated claims in recent years that Argentinian forces had mown down protesters with live ammunition, and that O’Reilly himself had seen several demonstrators being shot and killed.

The narrator of a CBS special report broadcast on the night of 15 June 1982, correspondent Eric Engberg, said police at the protests had used guns “that shot teargas and plastic bullets” and that witnesses had reported “some serious injuries”.

The following morning, Charles Gomez told CBS Morning News viewers that Argentinian forces had used “teargas guns and shotguns firing plastic bullets” in response to demonstrators “pelting officers with coins and garbage”. Gomez noted that “an unknown number of demonstrators were injured”.

In a discussion following the excerpts on Monday night, O’Reilly suggested that his claims of fatalities had been based on “local reportage” from the time, and that he continued to “believe” that people had been killed.

However during a televised 2008 interview he described witnessing killings. “The Argentine troops shoot the people down in the street. They’re shooting them down. It’s not like rubber bullets or gas, people are dying alright,” O’Reilly told interviewer Marvin Kalb. Claiming that his crew had actually filmed the fatal shootings, he added: “It’s unbelievable, I mean people are just falling, ‘bing, bing, bing, bing’.”

The footage released on Monday also did not confirm an alleged incident that O’Reilly has recounted several times in recent years involving him and a CBS cameraman, Roberto Moreno. O’Reilly has said that after Moreno was left bleeding from an ear when trampled by protesters, O’Reilly dragged him to safety in a doorway.

Dan Rather, the CBS anchor, told viewers of the evening news bulletin on 15 June 1982 that “some television crew members were knocked to the ground” without elaborating. Rather’s correspondent, Bob Schieffer, said in his subsequent package that a Canadian TV crew had its car kicked and rocked, and an ABC camera team’s car was smashed with stones. Yet no mention was made of an incident involving a CBS crew.

Several of O’Reilly’s colleagues from the time have said they recall no such injury to one of the team. “He has displayed a willingness to twist the truth in a way that seeks to invent a battlefield that did not exist,” Engberg said of O’Reilly in a Facebook post. “He also ought to be ashamed of himself.”

The Guardian reported earlier on Monday that O’Reilly has told different versions of an encounter at gunpoint that he claims to have experienced after the injured cameraman incident – one involving a single armed soldier and the other several Argentinian troops.

O’Reilly also said on his syndicated radio show at least a decade ago that “people were shooting at me” while he reported in the field from south and central America – a claim that he appears not to have repeated in recent years.

(guardian, feb 24th)


Marijuana Becomes Legal in D.C. Thursday at Midnight -- Unless Congress Steps In

A law to legalize marijuana in the District will go into effect at 12:01 a.m. Thursday, unless Congress steps in at the last minute.

As a result, D.C. police officers will begin carrying business card-sized summaries of the new rules, which were publicly explained Tuesday and will be part of a public education campaign.

    Q&A: What's Legal, What's Not With Pot in D.C.?

The law -- which was approved by voters last fall -- will permit possession of small amounts of marijuana by those ages 21 or older, with consumption allowed only in private homes and space. The card includes the following points:

    -Those ages 21 or older can possess up to two ounces of marijuana, grow up to six cannabis plants at home (with no more than three mature), or give away up to one ounce of marijuana to someone else (who also must be at least 21 years old).

    -Those younger than 21 cannot possess any amount of marijuana. Any such marijuana can be seized by an officer.

    -You can be arrested if you smoke or consume marijuana in public, have more than 2 ounces, or sell any amount of marijuana.

    -Those who drive while impaired or under the influence of marijuana will be prosecuted.

    -Under federal law, federal law enforcement officers may arrest anyone in the District for possession of any amount of marijuana, specifically on any federal property.

The last point is an important one. Because the District includes both D.C. land and federal land, it's important to note that the new law is only a local one. The new law doesn't apply to possession on federal parkland, such as the National Mall, Rock Creek Park and traffic circles patrolled by U.S. Park Police.

(NBC washington, feb 24th)

Smoking, growing and owning small amounts of marijuana became legal in Alaska on Tuesday, as a growing decriminalization movement reached the United States’ wild northwest frontier.

The Republican-leaning state, which narrowly passed the measure in November, followed Colorado and Washington states in allowing recreational use, reflecting a rapidly shifting legal landscape for the drug, which remains illegal under federal law.

Anyone aged 21 or older can now possess up to an ounce of marijuana in Alaska and can grow up to six marijuana plants, three of which can be flowering.

Smoking in public and buying and selling the drug remains illegal — though private exchanges are allowed if money is not involved.

President Barack Obama’s Justice Department has cautiously allowed the experiments to proceed, saying it would look to prosecute a narrower range of marijuana-related crimes, such as sales to children.

(Reuters, feb 24th)

Cannabis oil to be sold in Missouri legally

For the first time in nearly 80 years cannabis will be grown legally in Missouri.

Last July Governor Nixon signed into law the Missouri Medical Marijuana bill and this week licenses were granted by the Missouri Department of Agriculture to two non profits to grow cannabis plants for hemp extract.

The hemp extract law is extremely narrow. It allows people with severe, persistent epileptic seizures to use oil derived from cannabis plants as a medical treatment.

In an application process that took months, two non profits were chosen to grow the hemp. They must follow strict guild lines set up by the Missouri Health and Agriculture Departments.

Production is expected to begin in the summer and should be available by the fall.

The Missouri Health Department estimates about a thousand people will apply to use the treatment.

Although the treatment hasn`t undergone many clinical trials, many parents testified at state house and senate hearings last year, saying that using CBD oil has dramatically reduced the amount of seizures their children have. Like this little girl Charlotte who went from dozens of seizures a day to one a week.

With other broader medical marijuana bills being introduced in Jefferson City, Show Me Cannabis believes this could change the stigma associated with marijuana.

At Beleaf company that will grown cannabis in St. Peter’s they expect to initially employ 15 to 18 people.

Both company’s production will be allowed to dispense the oil at 3 different locations. Beleaf says they will likely dispense the oil in St. Louis, Columbia and the Kansas City area out of doctor’s offices.

(Fox2now, feb 24th)


Record US Farmers Switching to Non-GMO Crops in 2015

This is the rising sentiment among farmers of the US as a confluence of factors urges them to become pro-organic. From falling GMO grain prices to a rising tide of public distrust of genetically modified ingredients, failing GMO traits, higher GMO seed prices, and the premium prices that people willingly pay for quality food over toxic junk, the conventional farmer is changing his tune when it comes to Big Ag practices.

Even if profit is the cornerstone on which this change is based, it is still telling. After all, experts project over $35 billion in sales for organic, non-GMO foods in 2015, and as GMO corn, soy and other GM grain prices rise, along with the costs to grow them (associated with more pesticide and herbicide use to control super weeds, for example) farmers are looking past the GMO propaganda which promised higher yields and more cash for farmers who grew their poison crops.

(natural society, feb 24th)

Britain's House of Lords approves conception of three-person babies

Clinics in UK will be able to apply for licenses from this autumn after MPs approved new rules earlier this month

(the guardian, feb 24th)

UK Study Finds Fluoridated Water May Cause Depression, Weight Gain

“I think it is concerning for people living in those areas,” says study's author

A study conducted by English researchers has noted a correlation between areas that consume fluoridated water and an increased incidence of hypothyroidism, which can lead to symptoms like fatigue, depression and weight gain.

Researchers at the University of Kent in Canterbury are urging public health authorities to halt the practice of adding fluoride to municipal drinking water supplies after finding “that water fluoridation above a certain level is linked to 30% higher than expected rate of underactive thyroid.”

The thyroid gland secretes hormones that help the body regulate metabolism, heart rate, blood pressure and body temperature.

The researchers’ findings “could mean that up to 15,000 people are suffering needlessly from thyroid problems,” reports The Telegraph.

Scientists considered fluoride levels in different areas with data provided by the Drinking Water Inspectorate and compared it with the prevalence of underactive hypothyroidism as diagnosed by doctors in England between 2012 and 2013.

They also looked at the trend in two cities, West Midlands, where fluoride is currently added to the water, and Greater Manchester, which does not fluoridate its water supplies.

“After taking account of influential factors, such as gender and age, both of which are linked to increased risk of hypothyroidism, they found an association between rates of the condition and levels of fluoride in the drinking water,” a report regarding the study published by the University of Kent reads. “In areas with fluoride levels above 0.7mg/l, they found higher than expected rates of hypothyroidism than in areas with levels below this dilution.”

While acknowledging that the team’s research was “observational,” the author of the study, Professor Stephen Peckham, issued a recommendation urging health authorities to consider reducing public fluoride exposure.

“I think it is concerning for people living in those areas,” Peckham said. “Underactive thyroid is a particularly nasty thing to have and it can lead to other long term health problems. I do think councils need to think again about putting fluoride in the water. There are far safer ways to improve dental health.”

Professor Peckham also recommended to “stop those reliant on ingested fluoride and switch to topical fluoride-based and non-fluoride-based interventions.”

Public health authorities were quick to attack the science behind the findings, claiming that years of fluoride-tainted water ingestion proved it to be safe.

“The totality of evidence, accumulated over decades of research, tells us that water fluoridation is a safe and effective public health measure, and shows no association with reduced thyroid function,” an official with Public Health England said in response to the study.

Last year, Public Health England urged the whole of England to mass fluoridate their water supplies claiming it was a “safe and effective” way to increase public health.

However, other studies have found fluoride, listed by the EPA as a “Chemical with Substantial Evidence of Developmental Neurotoxicity,” to have detrimental effects.

A Harvard research study, for example, showed “children in high fluoride areas had significantly lower IQ than those who lived in low fluoride areas.”

Another Harvard study, covered by the London Observer in 2005, also found that “Fluoride in tap water can cause bone cancer in boys,” and that “boys exposed to fluoride between the ages of five and 10 will suffer an increased rate of osteosarcoma – bone cancer – between the ages of 10 and 19.”

A study published by General Dentistry researchers found that “Excessive fluoride consumption during the first 2 years of life is associated with an increased risk of dental fluorosis.” Researchers tested 360 baby food samples and found that “All foods tested had detectable amounts of fluoride.”

A 2006 Chinese study also found fluoride in drinking water “can cause damage to liver and kidney functions in children.

(Infowars, feb 24th)

A new study carried out by the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future (CLF) has found that millions Americans who consume soda every day are putting themselves at risk of developing cancer as a result of an ingredient contained in many soft drinks.

4-Methylimidazole, commonly known as 4-MEI, is a coloring used by soft drink makers to give their beverages that distinctive dark hue. It can be found in many popular soft drinks, including Pepsi, Coca-Cola and Diet Cola.

However, 4-MEI is a carcinogen that has been found to increase rates of malignant tumors when fed to mice and rats in laboratory studies. Despite this research, the FDA has not restricted its use as a caramel coloring agent in food and drinks.

Sampling 110 brands of soda and soft drinks, the Johns Hopkins researchers found levels of 4-MEI ranging from 9.5 micrograms per liter to 963 micrograms per liter, with diet colas generally having higher concentrations.

The study found that the majority of the beverages sampled contained potentially harmful levels of 4-MEI.

“Soft drink consumers are being exposed to an avoidable and unnecessary cancer risk from an ingredient that is being added to these beverages simply for aesthetic purposes,” said senior author Keeve Nachman, PhD. “This unnecessary exposure poses a threat to public health and raises questions about the continued use of caramel coloring in soda.”

The study concludes that, “Federal regulation of 4-MEI in caramel color may be appropriate”.

Consumer Reports notes that the study is “another reason to cut back on soda, warning that 4-MEI is also, “found in a wide variety of foods, including bread and other baked goods, dark sauces such as soy or barbecue, pancake syrup, and soups.”

“This new analysis underscores our belief that people consume significant amounts of soda that unnecessarily elevate their risk of cancer over the course of a lifetime,” asserted Urvashi Rangan, PhD, adding that the federal government should follow California’s example of setting a threshold for 4-MEI exposure. In the golden state, sodas need to be sold with a cancer warning label if they exceed the 29 ug per day limit.

Previous studies have found levels of 4-MEI that reach almost 700 ug per liter in cola soft drinks, up to 2000 ug per liter in coffee, and up to 28,000 ug/liter in dark beer.

(Infowars, feb 24th)

75% of Air and Rain Samples Contain Monsanto’s Round Up

A new study proves just how invasive Monsanto’s best selling chemicals are, revealing how herbicide toxins are appearing in 75% of rain and air samples.

Take a deep breath. Thanks to the massive use of herbicides across the planet, you likely just inhaled a dose of Monsanto’s best-selling herbicide, Round Up – at least according to the latest US Geological Survey published in the journal Enviromental Toxicology and Chemistry.

The chemical ingredient used in Round Up, known as glyphosate, as well as other ‘inert’ toxic chemicals, were found in over 75% of the air and rain samples tested from Mississippi in 2007 – a large river that cuts through the middle of the US, and is the basin in which hundreds of farms’ runoff drains.

An evaluation of numerous pesticides currently used were measured through water and air samples collected from 1995 to 2007 during growing season along the Mississippi Delta agricultural region. If 75% of samples containing Round Up isn’t shocking enough, there’s more:

    Round Up chemicals were prevalent, but so were 37 other toxic compounds – all present in both rain and air samples.

    Glyphosate was found in 86% of air samples, and 77% of rain samples.

    Seven compounds in 1995 and five in 2007 were detected in more than 50% of both air and rain samples. Atrazine, metolachlor, and propanil were detected in more than 50% of the air and rain samples in both years.

The report states that 2 million kilograms of glyphosate were applied statewide in 2007, or 55% of the total herbicide flux for that year (~129 μg/m2), leading them to state the high prevalence of glyphosate in air and water “was not surprising.”

What is surprising is that these results are not becoming widely distributed until 2015.

This estimate, if correct, reveals that there has been an ~ 18 fold increase in glyphosate concentrations in air and water samples in only 12 years (1995-2007), and likely more since the samples were taken.

This means that our bodies have been under fire with biotech toxins, not just in the food we eat, but in the air we breathe, and the water we drink, for more than a decade.

The longer the period of exposure we are subjected to, you can bet the more diseases will crop up.

These toxins have cumulative and synergistic effects with other toxicants with incalculably complex results that produce far more harm together than glyphosate alone (i.e. synergistic toxicity).

(Natural Society, feb 24th)

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

A daily pill that can dramatically cut a person’s risk of contracting HIV must be made available through the NHS “as soon as possible”, campaigners have said.

Results of a major UK trial of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) have been described as “extremely exciting” and a “game-changer” by leading specialists.

The Proud study found that PrEP cut the risk of HIV infection among gay men considered to be at high risk by an unprecedented 86 per cent.

Despite major advances in the fight against HIV/Aids in recent decades, the infection rate among men who have sex with men remains stubbornly high in the UK, and the results of the trial have led to calls for PrEP to be offered free by the NHS.

The study was funded by government agencies, the Medical Research Council and Public Health England, and a senior panel of NHS experts is already considering how PrEP could be introduced.

With evidence of its effectiveness now established, it will have to consider whether the pills, which will cost £423 per month for each patient, will be cost-effective, and what the criteria should be for accessing them.

(Indepedent, feb 24th)

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