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Thursday, February 26, 2015

NEWS FOR 2/25/2015 Wednesday February 25th 2015


Janet Yellen Is Freaking Out About ‘Audit The Fed’ – Here Are 100 Reasons Why She Should Be

I want to share with you some facts and figures that I have shared before, but they bear repeating.  Please share this list of 100 reasons why the Federal Reserve should be shut down with everyone that you know…

#1 We like to think that we have a government “of the people, by the people, for the people”, but the truth is that an unelected, unaccountable group of central planners has far more power over our economy than anyone else in our society does.

#2 The Federal Reserve is actually “independent” of the government.  In fact, the Federal Reserve has argued vehemently in federal court that it is “not an agency”of the federal government and therefore not subject to the Freedom of Information Act.

#3 The Federal Reserve openly admits that the 12 regional Federal Reserve banks are organized “much like private corporations“.

#4 The regional Federal Reserve banks issue shares of stock to the “member banks” that own them.

#5 100% of the shareholders of the Federal Reserve are private banks.  The U.S. government owns zero shares.

#6 The Federal Reserve is not an agency of the federal government, but it has been given power to regulate our banks and financial institutions.  This should not be happening.

#7 According to Article I, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution, the U.S. Congress is the one that is supposed to have the authority to “coin Money, regulate the Value thereof, and of foreign Coin, and fix the Standard of Weights and Measures”.  So why is the Federal Reserve doing it?

#8 If you look at a “U.S. dollar”, it actually says “Federal Reserve note” at the top.  In the financial world, a “note” is an instrument of debt.

#9 In 1963, President John F. Kennedy issued Executive Order 11110 which authorized the U.S. Treasury to issue “United States notes” which were created by the U.S. government directly and not by the Federal Reserve.  He was assassinated shortly thereafter.

#10 Many of the debt-free United States notes issued under President Kennedy are still in circulation today.

#11 The Federal Reserve determines what levels some of the most important interest rates in our system are going to be set at.  In a free market system, the free market would determine those interest rates.

#12 The Federal Reserve has become so powerful that it is now known as “the fourth branch of government“.

#13 The greatest period of economic growth in U.S. history was when there was no central bank.

#14 The Federal Reserve was designed to be a perpetual debt machine.  The bankers that designed it intended to trap the U.S. government in a perpetual debt spiral from which it could never possibly escape.  Since the Federal Reserve was established 100 years ago, the U.S. national debt has gotten more than 5000 times larger.

#15 A permanent federal income tax was established the exact same year that the Federal Reserve was created.  This was not a coincidence.  In order to pay for all of the government debt that the Federal Reserve would create, a federal income tax was necessary.  The whole idea was to transfer wealth from our pockets to the federal government and from the federal government to the bankers.

#16 The period prior to 1913 (when there was no income tax) was the greatest period of economic growth in U.S. history.

#17 Today, the U.S. tax code is about 13 miles long.

#18 From the time that the Federal Reserve was created until now, the U.S. dollar has lost 98 percent of its value.

#19 From the time that President Nixon took us off the gold standard until now, the U.S. dollar has lost 83 percent of its value.

#20 During the 100 years before the Federal Reserve was created, the U.S. economy rarely had any problems with inflation.  But since the Federal Reserve was established, the U.S. economy has experienced constant and never ending inflation.

#21 In the century before the Federal Reserve was created, the average annual rate of inflation was about half a percent.  In the century since the Federal Reserve was created, the average annual rate of inflation has been about 3.5 percent.

#22 The Federal Reserve has stripped the middle class of trillions of dollars of wealth through the hidden tax of inflation.

#23 The size of M1 has nearly doubled since 2008 thanks to the reckless money printing that the Federal Reserve has been doing.

#24 The Federal Reserve has been starting to behave like the Weimar Republic, and we all remember how that ended.

#25 The Federal Reserve has been consistently lying to us about the level of inflation in our economy.  If the inflation rate was still calculated the same way that it was back when Jimmy Carter was president, the official rate of inflation would be somewhere between 8 and 10 percent today.

#26 Since the Federal Reserve was created, there have been 18 distinct recessions or depressions: 1918, 1920, 1923, 1926, 1929, 1937, 1945, 1949, 1953, 1958, 1960, 1969, 1973, 1980, 1981, 1990, 2001, 2008.

#27 Within 20 years of the creation of the Federal Reserve, the U.S. economy was plunged into the Great Depression.

#28 The Federal Reserve created the conditions that caused the stock market crash of 1929, and even Ben Bernanke admits that the response by the Fed to that crisis made the Great Depression even worse than it should have been.

#29 The “easy money” policies of former Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan set the stage for the great financial crisis of 2008.

#30 Without the Federal Reserve, the “subprime mortgage meltdown” would probably never have happened.

#31 If you can believe it, there have been 10 different economic recessionssince 1950.  The Federal Reserve created the “dotcom bubble”, the Federal Reserve created the “housing bubble” and now it has created the largest bond bubble in the history of the planet.

#32 According to an official government report, the Federal Reserve made 16.1 trillion dollars in secret loans to the big banks during the last financial crisis.  The following is a list of loan recipients that was taken directly from page 131 of the report…

Citigroup – $2.513 trillion
Morgan Stanley – $2.041 trillion
Merrill Lynch – $1.949 trillion
Bank of America – $1.344 trillion
Barclays PLC – $868 billion
Bear Sterns – $853 billion
Goldman Sachs – $814 billion
Royal Bank of Scotland – $541 billion
JP Morgan Chase – $391 billion
Deutsche Bank – $354 billion
UBS – $287 billion
Credit Suisse – $262 billion
Lehman Brothers – $183 billion
Bank of Scotland – $181 billion
BNP Paribas – $175 billion
Wells Fargo – $159 billion
Dexia – $159 billion
Wachovia – $142 billion
Dresdner Bank – $135 billion
Societe Generale – $124 billion
“All Other Borrowers” – $2.639 trillion

#33 The Federal Reserve also paid those big banks $659.4 million in “fees” to help “administer” those secret loans.

#34 During the last financial crisis, big European banks were allowed to borrow an “unlimited” amount of money from the Federal Reserve at ultra-low interest rates.

#35 The “easy money” policies of Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke have created the largest financial bubble this nation has ever seen, and this has set the stage for the great financial crisis that we are rapidly approaching.

#36 Since late 2008, the size of the Federal Reserve balance sheet has grown from less than a trillion dollars to more than 4 trillion dollars.  This is complete and utter insanity.

#37 During the quantitative easing era, the value of the financial securities that the Fed has accumulated is greater than the total amount of publicly held debt that the U.S. government accumulated from the presidency of George Washington through the end of the presidency of Bill Clinton.

#38 Overall, the Federal Reserve now holds more than 32 percent of all 10 year equivalents.

#39 Quantitative easing creates financial bubbles, and when quantitative easing ends those bubbles tend to deflate rapidly.

#40 Most of the new money created by quantitative easing has ended up in the hands of the very wealthy.

#41 According to a prominent Federal Reserve insider, quantitative easing has been one giant “subsidy” for Wall Street banks.

#42 As one CNBC article stated, we are seeing absolutely rampant inflation in “stocks and bonds and art and Ferraris“.

#43 Donald Trump once made the following statement about quantitative easing: “People like me will benefit from this.”

#44 Most people have never heard about this, but a very interesting studyconducted for the Bank of England shows that quantitative easing actually increases the gap between the wealthy and the poor.

#45 The gap between the top one percent and the rest of the country is now the greatest that it has been since the 1920s.

#46 The mainstream media has sold quantitative easing to the American public as an “economic stimulus program”, but the truth is that the percentage of Americans that have a job has actually gone down since quantitative easing first began.

#47 The Federal Reserve is supposed to be able to guide the nation toward “full employment”, but the reality of the matter is that an all-time record 102 million working age Americans do not have a job right now.  That number has risen by about 27 million since the year 2000.

#48 For years, the projections of economic growth by the Federal Reserve haveconsistently overstated the strength of the U.S. economy.  But every single time, the mainstream media continues to report that these numbers are “reliable” even though all they actually represent is wishful thinking.

#49 The Federal Reserve system fuels the growth of government, and the growth of government fuels the growth of the Federal Reserve system.  Since 1970, federal spending has grown nearly 12 times as rapidly as median household income has.

#50 The Federal Reserve is supposed to look out for the health of all U.S. banks, but the truth is that they only seem to be concerned about the big ones.  In 1985, there were more than 18,000 banks in the United States.  Today, there are only6,891 left.

#51 The six largest banks in the United States (JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, Citigroup, Wells Fargo, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley) have collectively gotten37 percent larger over the past five years.

#52 The U.S. banking system has 14.4 trillion dollars in total assets.  The six largest banks now account for 67 percent of those assets and all of the other banks account for only 33 percent of those assets.

#53 The five largest banks now account for 42 percent of all loans in the United States.

#54 We were told that the purpose of quantitative easing is to help “stimulate the economy”, but today the Federal Reserve is actually paying the big banks not to lend out 1.8 trillion dollars in “excess reserves” that they have parked at the Fed.

#55 The Federal Reserve has allowed an absolutely gigantic derivatives bubble to inflate which could destroy our financial system at any moment.  Right now, four of the “too big to fail” banks each have total exposure to derivatives that is well in excess of 40 trillion dollars.

#56 The total exposure that Goldman Sachs has to derivatives contracts is more than 381 times greater than their total assets.

#57 Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke has a track record of failure that would make the Chicago Cubs look good.

#58 The secret November 1910 gathering at Jekyll Island, Georgia during which the plan for the Federal Reserve was hatched was attended by U.S. Senator Nelson W. Aldrich, Assistant Secretary of the Treasury Department A.P. Andrews and a whole host of representatives from the upper crust of the Wall Street banking establishment.

#59 The Federal Reserve was created by the big Wall Street banks and for the benefit of the big Wall Street banks.

#60 In 1913, Congress was promised that if the Federal Reserve Act was passed that it would eliminate the business cycle.

#61 There has never been a true comprehensive audit of the Federal Reserve since it was created back in 1913.

#62 The Federal Reserve system has been described as “the biggest Ponzi scheme in the history of the world“.

#63 The following comes directly from the Fed’s official mission statement: “To provide the nation with a safer, more flexible, and more stable monetary and financial system.”  Without a doubt, the Federal Reserve has failed in those tasks dramatically.

#64 The Fed decides what the target rate of inflation should be, what the target rate of unemployment should be and what the size of the money supply is going to be.  This is quite similar to the “central planning” that goes on in communist nations, but very few people in our government seem upset by this.

#65 A couple of years ago, Federal Reserve officials walked into one bank in Oklahoma and demanded that they take down all the Bible verses and all the Christmas buttons that the bank had been displaying.

#66 The Federal Reserve has taken some other very frightening steps in recent years.  For example, back in 2011 the Federal Reserve announced plans to identify “key bloggers” and to monitor “billions of conversations” about the Fed on Facebook, Twitter, forums and blogs.  Someone at the Fed will almost certainly end up reading this article.

#67 Thanks to this endless debt spiral that we are trapped in, a massive amount of money is transferred out of our pockets and into the pockets of the ultra-wealthy each year.  Incredibly, the U.S. government spent more than 415 billion dollarsjust on interest on the national debt in 2013.

#68 In January 2000, the average rate of interest on the government’s marketable debt was 6.620 percent.  If we got back to that level today, we would be paying more than a trillion dollars a year just in interest on the national debt and it would collapse our entire financial system.

#69 The American people are being killed by compound interest but most of them don’t even understand what it is.  Albert Einstein once made the following statement about compound interest…

    “Compound interest is the eighth wonder of the world. He who understands it, earns it … he who doesn’t … pays it.”

#70 Most Americans have absolutely no idea where money comes from.  The truth is that the Federal Reserve just creates it out of thin air.  The following is how I havepreviously described how money is normally created by the Fed in our system…

    When the U.S. government decides that it wants to spend another billion dollars that it does not have, it does not print up a billion dollars.

    Rather, the U.S. government creates a bunch of U.S. Treasury bonds (debt) and takes them over to the Federal Reserve.

    The Federal Reserve creates a billion dollars out of thin air and exchanges them for the U.S. Treasury bonds.

#71 What does the Federal Reserve do with those U.S. Treasury bonds?  They end up getting auctioned off to the highest bidder.  But this entire process actually creates more debt than it does money…

    The U.S. Treasury bonds that the Federal Reserve receives in exchange for the money it has created out of nothing are auctioned off through the Federal Reserve system.

    But wait.

    There is a problem.

    Because the U.S. government must pay interest on the Treasury bonds, the amount of debt that has been created by this transaction is greater than the amount of money that has been created.

    So where will the U.S. government get the money to pay that debt?

    Well, the theory is that we can get money to circulate through the economy really, really fast and tax it at a high enough rate that the government will be able to collect enough taxes to pay the debt.

    But that never actually happens, does it?

    And the creators of the Federal Reserve understood this as well.  They understood that the U.S. government would not have enough money to both run the government and service the national debt.  They knew that the U.S. government would have to keep borrowing even more money in an attempt to keep up with the game.

#72 Of course the U.S. government could actually create money and spend it directly into the economy without the Federal Reserve being involved at all.  But then we wouldn’t be 17 trillion dollars in debt and that wouldn’t serve the interests of the bankers at all.

#73 The following is what Thomas Edison once had to say about our absolutely insane debt-based financial system…

    That is to say, under the old way any time we wish to add to the national wealth we are compelled to add to the national debt.

    Now, that is what Henry Ford wants to prevent. He thinks it is stupid, and so do I, that for the loan of $30,000,000 of their own money the people of the United States should be compelled to pay $66,000,000 — that is what it amounts to, with interest. People who will not turn a shovelful of dirt nor contribute a pound of material will collect more money from the United States than will the people who supply the material and do the work. That is the terrible thing about interest. In all our great bond issues the interest is always greater than the principal. All of the great public works cost more than twice the actual cost, on that account. Under the present system of doing business we simply add 120 to 150 per cent, to the stated cost.

    But here is the point: If our nation can issue a dollar bond, it can issue a dollar bill. The element that makes the bond good makes the bill good.

#74 The United States now has the largest national debt in the history of the world, and we are stealing roughly 100 million dollars from our children and our grandchildren every single hour of every single day in a desperate attempt to keep the debt spiral going.

#75 Thomas Jefferson once stated that if he could add just one more amendment to the U.S. Constitution it would be a ban on all government borrowing…

    I wish it were possible to obtain a single amendment to our Constitution. I would be willing to depend on that alone for the reduction of the administration of our government to the genuine principles of its Constitution; I mean an additional article, taking from the federal government the power of borrowing.

#76 At this moment, the U.S. national debt is sitting at$18,141,409,083,212.36.  If we had followed the advice of Thomas Jefferson, it would be sitting at zero.

#77 When the Federal Reserve was first established, the U.S. national debt was sitting at about 2.9 billion dollars.  On average, we have been adding more than that to the national debt every single day since Obama has been in the White House.

#78 We are on pace to accumulate more new debt under the 8 years of the Obama administration than we did under all of the other presidents in all of U.S. history combined.

#79 If all of the new debt that has been accumulated since John Boehner became Speaker of the House had been given directly to the American people instead, every household in America would have been able to buy a new truck.

#80 Between 2008 and 2012, U.S. government debt grew by 60.7 percent, but U.S. GDP only grew by a total of about 8.5 percent during that entire time period.

#81 Since 2007, the U.S. debt to GDP ratio has increased from 66.6 percent to101.6 percent.

#82 According to the U.S. Treasury, foreigners hold approximately 5.6 trillion dollars of our debt.

#83 The amount of U.S. government debt held by foreigners is about 5 times larger than it was just a decade ago.

#84 As I have written about previously, if the U.S. national debt was reduced to a stack of one dollar bills it would circle the earth at the equator 45 times.

#85 If Bill Gates gave every single penny of his entire fortune to the U.S. government, it would only cover the U.S. budget deficit for 15 days.

#86 Sometimes we forget just how much money a trillion dollars is.  If you were alive when Jesus Christ was born and you spent one million dollars every single day since that point, you still would not have spent one trillion dollars by now.

#87 If right this moment you went out and started spending one dollar every single second, it would take you more than 31,000 years to spend one trillion dollars.

#88 In addition to all of our debt, the U.S. government has also accumulated more than 200 trillion dollars in unfunded liabilities.  So where in the world will all of that money come from?

#89 The greatest damage that quantitative easing has been causing to our economy is the fact that it is destroying worldwide faith in the U.S. dollar and in U.S. debt.  If the rest of the world stops using our dollars and stops buying our debt, we are going to be in a massive amount of trouble.

#90 Over the past several years, the Federal Reserve has been monetizing a staggering amount of U.S. government debt even though Ben Bernanke once promised that he would never do this.

#91 China recently announced that they are going to quit stockpiling more U.S. dollars.  If the Federal Reserve was not recklessly printing money, this would probably not have happened.

#92 Most Americans have no idea that one of our most famous presidents was absolutely obsessed with getting rid of central banking in the United States.  The following is a February 1834 quote by President Andrew Jackson about the evils of central banking…

    I too have been a close observer of the doings of the Bank of the United States. I have had men watching you for a long time, and am convinced that you have used the funds of the bank to speculate in the breadstuffs of the country. When you won, you divided the profits amongst you, and when you lost, you charged it to the Bank. You tell me that if I take the deposits from the Bank and annul its charter I shall ruin ten thousand families. That may be true, gentlemen, but that is your sin! Should I let you go on, you will ruin fifty thousand families, and that would be my sin! You are a den of vipers and thieves. I have determined to rout you out and, by the Eternal,(bringing his fist down on the table) I will rout you out.

#93 There are plenty of possible alternative financial systems, but at this point all 187 nations that belong to the IMF have a central bank.  Are we supposed to believe that this is just some sort of a bizarre coincidence?

#94 The capstone of the global central banking system is an organization known as the Bank for International Settlements.  The following is how I described this organization in a previous article…

    An immensely powerful international organization that most people have never even heard of secretly controls the money supply of the entire globe.  It is called the Bank for International Settlements, and it is the central bank of central banks.  It is located in Basel, Switzerland, but it also has branches in Hong Kong and Mexico City.  It is essentially an unelected, unaccountable central bank of the world that has complete immunity from taxation and from national laws.  Even Wikipedia admits that “it is not accountable to any single national government.”  The Bank for International Settlements was used to launder money for the Nazis during World War II, but these days the main purpose of the BIS is to guide and direct the centrally-planned global financial system.  Today, 58 global central banks belong to the BIS, and it has far more power over how the U.S. economy (or any other economy for that matter) will perform over the course of the next year than any politician does.  Every two months, the central bankers of the world gather in Basel for another “Global Economy Meeting”.  During those meetings, decisions are made which affect every man, woman and child on the planet, and yet none of us have any say in what goes on.  The Bank for International Settlements is an organization that was founded by the global elite and it operates for the benefit of the global elite, and it is intended to be one of the key cornerstones of the emerging one world economic system.

#95 The borrower is the servant of the lender, and the Federal Reserve has turned all of us into debt slaves.

#96 Debt is a form of social control, and the global elite use all of this debt to dominate all the rest of us.  40 years ago, the total amount of debt in our system (all government debt, all business debt, all consumer debt, etc.) was sitting at about 2 trillion dollars.  Today, the grand total exceeds 56 trillion dollars.

#97 Unless something dramatic is done, our children and our grandchildren will be debt slaves for their entire lives as they service our debts and pay for our mistakes.

#98 Now that you know this information, you are responsible for doing something about it.

#99 Congress has the power to shut down the Federal Reserve any time that it would like.  But right now most of our politicians fully endorse the current system, and nothing is ever going to happen until the American people start demanding change.

#100 The design of the Federal Reserve system was flawed from the very beginning.  If something is not done very rapidly, it is inevitable that our entire financial system is going to suffer an absolutely nightmarish collapse.

(End of the american dream, feb 25th)

NET NEUTRALITY______________

Soros, Ford Foundation shovel $196 million to 'net neutrality' groups, staff to White House

George Soros and the Ford Foundation have lavished groups supporting the administration’s “net neutrality” agenda, donating $196 million and landing proponents on the White House staff, according to a new report.

And now, as the Federal Communications Commission nears approving a type of government control over the Internet, the groups are poised to declare victory in the years-long fight, according to the report from MRC Business, an arm of the conservative media watchdog, the Media Research Center.

“The Ford Foundation, which claims to be the second-largest private foundation in the U.S., and Open Society Foundations, founded by far-left billionaire George Soros, have given more than $196 million to pro-net neutrality groups between 2000 and 2013,” said the report, authored by Media Research Center’s Joseph Rossell, and provided to Secrets.

“These left-wing groups not only impacted the public debate and funded top liberal think tanks from the Center for American Progress to Free Press. They also have direct ties to the White House and regulatory agencies. At least five individuals from these groups have ascended to key positions at the White House and FCC,” said the report which included funding details to pro-net neutrality advocates.

(washington examiner, feb 25th)

FCC Chair Refuses to Testify before Congress ahead of Net Neutrality Vote

Two prominent House committee chairs are “deeply disappointed” in Federal Communications Commission chairman Tom Wheeler for refusing to testify before Congress as “the future of the Internet is at stake.” Wheeler’s refusal to go before the House Oversight Committee on Wednesday comes on the eve of the FCC’s vote on new Internet regulations pertaining to net neutrality. The committee’s chairman, Representative Jason Chaffetz (R., Utah), and Energy and Commerce Committee chairman Fred Upton (R., Mich.) criticized Wheeler and the administration for lacking transparency on the issue. “So long as the chairman continues to insist on secrecy, we will continue calling for more transparency and accountability at the commission,” Chaffetz and Upton said in a statement. “Chairman Wheeler and the FCC are not above Congress.” The vote on the new Internet regulations is scheduled for Thursday. The FCC’s two Republican commissioners have asked Wheeler to delay the vote to allow more time for review.

The changes would allow the commission to regulate the Internet like a public utility, setting new standards that require the provision of equal access to all online content.

(national review, feb 25th)

FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai: Net Neutrality is a "Solution That Won't Work to a Problem That Doesn't Exist"

Pai is an oustpoken opponent of expanding government control of the internet, including FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler's plan to regulate Internet Service Providers (ISPs) under the same Title II rules that are used to govern telephone-service providers as public utilities. Under current FCC regulations, ISPs are considered providers of "information services" and subject to essentially no federal regulation.

He is also sharply critical of President Barack Obama's very public push to influence policy at the FCC, which is technically an independent agency. Last year, it was widely believed that Wheeler, a former head of the National Cable & Telecommunications Association, would not push for Title II. Pai calls the president's actions—which included "creating a YouTube video of with very specific prescriptions as to what this agency should do"—unprecedented in his experience. Coupled with the fact that "the agency suddenly chang[ed]course from where it was to mimic the president’s plan," says Pai, "suggests that the independence of the agency has been compromised to some extent."

(, feb 25th)

Republicans Fear Net Neutrality Plan Could Lead to UN Internet Powers

The U.S. government's plan to enact strong net neutrality regulations could embolden authoritarian regimes like China and Russia to seize more power over the Internet through the United Nations, a key Senate Republican warned Wednesday.

Senate Commerce Committee Chairman John Thune of South Dakota argued that by claiming more authority over Internet access for net neutrality, the Federal Communications Commission will undermine the ability of the U.S. to push back against international plots to control the Internet and censor content.

Countries like Russia already have made it clear that they want the International Telecommunications Union or another United Nations body to have more power over the Internet, Thune said.

"It seems like reclassifying broadband, as the administration is doing, is losing a valuable argument," Thune said at his panel's hearing on Internet governance. "How do you prevent ITU involvement when you're pushing to reclassify the Internet under Title II of the Communications Act, and is everyone aware of that inherent contradiction?"

On Thursday, the FCC is set to vote on net neutrality regulations that would declare Internet access a "telecommunications service" under Title II. Advocates, including President Obama, argue that the move is the only way the FCC can enact rules that will hold up to legal challenges in court. The rules aim to prevent Internet providers from acting as "gatekeepers" and controlling what content users can access online.

(National journal, feb 25th)

Hillary Clinton Endorses FCC’s Title II Designation for the Internet

(Breitbart, feb 25th)


Edward Snowden’s Libertarian Moment: We “Will Remove From Governments The Ability To Interfere With [Our] Rights”

Via Mark Sletten comes this thread from yesterday’s Ask Me Anything session at Reddit that featured Edward Snowden, Oscar-winning documentarian Laura Poitras, and journalist Glenn Greenwald.

The question posed to Snowden:

    What’s the best way to make NSA spying an issue in the 2016 Presidential Election? It seems like while it was a big deal in 2013, ISIS and other events have put it on the back burner for now in the media and general public. What are your ideas for how to bring it back to the forefront?

His answer is well worth reading in full (below), but its essence is a full-throated defense of classical liberal and libertarian theorizing not just about the consent of the governed but the right to work around the government when it focuses on social order over legitimacy. And, as important, a recognition that this is what we at Reason and others call “the Libertarian Moment,” or a technologically empowered drive toward greater and greater control over more and more aspects of our lives. While the Libertarian Moment is enabled by technological innovations and generally increasing levels of wealth and education, it’s ultimately proceeds from a mind-set as much as anything else: We have the right to live peacefully any way we choose as long as we are not infringing on other people’s rights to do the same. Our politics and our laws should reflect this emphasis on pluralism, tolerance, and persuasion (as opposed to coercion) across social, economic, and intellectual spheres of activity.

As Snowden emphasizes, it’s not simply that governments (thankfully) fail at attempts for perfect surveillance and law enforcement. It’s that technologically empowered people are actively worked to route around government attempts to fence us in. 


(hit&run, feb 24th)

Citing encryption, FBI lobbying to keep phone metadata spying powers

The law that the Obama administration cites to allow bulk telephone metadata collection expires on June 1, and the FBI has already begun lobbying to keep Section 215 of the Patriot Act from expiring. Bad guys "going dark" using encryption, the FBI says, is one of the reasons why the government needs to collect the metadata of every phone call made to and from the United States.

Robert Anderson, the FBI’s chief of the Criminal, Cyber, Response, and Services Branch, told reporters during a roundtable discussion Tuesday that the Patriot Act is necessary because encrypted communications are becoming more commonplace in the wake of the Edward Snowden disclosures.

"In the last two to three years, that whole ‘going dark’ thing went from a crawl to a flat-out sprint because the technology is changing so rapidly," Anderson said.

Joseph Demarest, assistant director of the FBI's Cyber Division, told reporters that if Section 215 expires, "Obviously it’s going to impact what we do as an organization and certainly on cyber."

The comments, especially as they relate to encryption, are part of a growing chorus of calls—from as high as President Barack Obama—that the government needs Silicon Valley's assistance for backdoors into encrypted tech products like the iPhone.

(ARS technica, feb 25th), the official website of world's largest PC maker has been hacked.

At the time of writing, users visiting website saw a teenager's slideshow and hacker also added song "Breaking Free" from High School Musical movie to the page background.

It appears that Lizard Squad hacking group is responsible for the cyber attack against Lenovo and it could be in retaliation to the Superfish malware incident.

It was revealed earlier this week that Lenovo had been pre-installing controversial 'Superfish' adware to its laptops which compromised the computer's encryption certificates to quietly include more ads on Google search.

(the hacker news, feb 25th)


3D printing: Australian researchers create jet engine, breakthrough captures attention of Airbus and Boeing

Australian researchers have created the world's first 3D-printed jet engine in a manufacturing breakthrough that engineers expect will lead to cheaper, lighter and more fuel-efficient jets.

The partnership between Monash University and spin-out company Amaero Engineering has captured the attention of Airbus, Boeing and defence contractor Raytheon.

The breakthrough opens the door for engineers to make and test parts in days instead of months.

"[In the past you had to] melt, mould, carve and turn to get the final product," said Professor Ian Smith, Monash University's vice-provost for research.

"This way we can very quickly get a final product, so the advantages of this technology are, firstly, for rapid prototyping and making a large number of prototypes quickly.

"Secondly, for being able to make bespoke parts that you wouldn't be able to with classic engineering technologies."

(ABC AU, feb 25th)

Computers have beaten humans at chess and "Jeopardy!," and now they can master old Atari games such as "Space Invaders" or "Breakout" without knowing anything about their rules or strategies.

Playing Atari 2600 games from the 1980s may seem a bit "Back to the Future," but researchers with Google's DeepMind project say they have taken a small but crucial step toward a general learning machine that can mimic the way human brains learn from new experience.

Unlike the Watson and Deep Blue computers that beat "Jeopardy!" and chess champions with intensive programming specific to those games, the Deep-Q Network built its winning strategies from keystrokes up, through trial and error and constant reprocessing of feedback to find winning strategies.

“The ultimate goal is to build smart, general-purpose [learning] machines. We’re many decades off from doing that," said artificial intelligence researcher Demis Hassabis, coauthor of the study published online Wednesday in the journal Nature. "But I do think this is the first significant rung of the ladder that we’re on."

The Deep-Q Network computer, developed by the London-based Google DeepMind, played 49 old-school Atari games, scoring "at or better than human level," on 29 of them, according to the study.

The algorithm approach, based loosely on the architecture of human neural networks, could eventually be applied to any complex and multidimensional task requiring a series of decisions, according to the researchers.

The algorithms employed in this type of machine learning depart strongly from approaches that rely on a computer's ability to weigh stunning amounts of inputs and outcomes and choose programmed models to "explain" the data. Those approaches, known as supervised learning, required artful tailoring of algorithms around specific problems, such as a chess game.

The computer instead relies on random exploration of keystrokes bolstered by human-like reinforcement learning, where a reward essentially takes the place of such supervision.

(LA times, feb 25th)

Mind-Controlled Drone Scientists Work On Groundbreaking Flight

A company has successfully flown a mind controlled drone, a step that its scientists say will lead to passenger carrying airplanes steered only by pilots’ brains.

In a rather stunning demonstration yesterday, Portuguese business Tekever fitted a special cap to a pilot to measure his brain activity, allowing him to steer a drone through a mission in the sky using his thoughts alone.

The company’s eventual target for the drone technology is applying it to pilots flying private and commercial aircraft using their minds alone, but it acknowledges there is a lot of work ahead.

For yesterday’s test demonstration, in order to steer the drone, pilot Nuno Loureiro focused entirely on simple thoughts within set formats, which he learned during extensive training. This means the drone received clear signals, from his brain waves, that it could process quickly.

(Forbes, feb 25th)

3 Austrian men first to get mind-controlled bionic hands after amputation

Three Austrians have replaced injured hands with bionic ones that they can control using nerves and muscles transplanted into their arms from their legs.

The three men are the first to undergo what doctors refer to as "bionic reconstruction," which includes a voluntary amputation, the transplantation of nerves and muscles and learning to use faint signals from them to command the hand.

Previously, people with bionic hands have primarily controlled them with manual settings.

(AP, feb 25th)

First full body transplant is two years away, surgeon claims

Doctor plans to graft a living person’s head on to a donor body using procedures he believes will soon be ready

Sergio Canavero, a doctor in Turin, Italy, has drawn up plans to graft a living person’s head on to a donor body and claims the procedures needed to carry out the operation are not far off.

Canavero hopes to assemble a team to explore the radical surgery in a project he is due to launch at a meeting for neurological surgeons in Maryland this June.

He has claimed for years that medical science has advanced to the point that a full body transplant is plausible, but the proposal has caused raised eyebrows, horror and profound disbelief in other surgeons.

The Italian doctor, who recently published a broad outline of how the surgery could be performed, told New Scientist magazine that he wanted to use body transplants to prolong the lives of people affected by terminal diseases.

“If society doesn’t want it, I won’t do it. But if people don’t want it, in the US or Europe, that doesn’t mean it won’t be done somewhere else,” he said. “I’m trying to go about this the right way, but before going to the moon, you want to make sure people will follow you.”

(guardian, feb 25th)


Obama’s Amnesty “Town hall” Closed To Public, Will Feature Handpicked Illegals Asking Questions

The Miami Herald reports that the event, scheduled to take place at the Miami campus of Florida International University, is not being sponsored by the University, and is in fact closed to the public for all intents and purposes.

Indeed, the facilities are being privately rented out to the real organisations behind the event, MSNBC and Telemundo. Both media organisations are staunch supporters of the amnesty program and have relentlessly pumped out one-sided programming promoting it.

“Though billed as a “town hall,” tickets for the private event were distributed by organizers and not made publicly available.” The Herald notes.

“Telemundo and MSNBC rented the public Graham Center facility at FIU’s main campus for about $39,000, according to a copy of the contract.” the report continues.

So tickets were never publicly available, yet remarkable numbers of illegal immigrants have managed to get their hands on them.

(Infowars, feb 25th)

Obama Holds Closed-Door Meeting With 'Immigration Advocacy Leaders'

President Obama is holding a closed-door White House meeting with "immigration advocacy leaders" this morning, the White House announced. Later today the president will hold an immigration townhall in Miami, which will be broadcast on MSNBC.

"In the morning, the President will meet with immigration advocacy leaders to provide an update on the Administration’s immigration accountability executive actions. This meeting in the Roosevelt Room is closed press," the White House schedule reads.

It is unclear who will be in attendance at the private meeting.

The meeting comes amid a fight between the White House and Congress about Department of Homeland Security funding -- and whether the executive amnesty he signed last year should receive federal money to support the action.

(weekly standard, feb 25th)

Amnesty Beneficiaries Could Claim More Than $35K In Tax Benefits In First Year

Illegal immigrants who are able to obtain Social Security Numbers and work permits as a result of President Obama’s executive amnesty could claim tens of thousands of dollars in back tax benefits, a new Congressional Research Service memo obtained first by Breitbart News reveals.

The report comes following the Internal Revenue Service’s confirmation that once illegal immigrants are granted Social Security Numbers — as a result of Obama’s executive actions — they will be able to file back tax returns and obtain up to four years of tax benefits, including the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and the Child Tax Credit (CTC).

(breitbart, feb 25th)

HHS Confirms Unaccompanied Illegal Alien Children in U.S. Will Have Access to Abortion

(CNS, feb 24th)

POLICE STATE_______________

Cop Who Illegally Kidnapped and Beat Down Syndrome Man Says He Would Do It Again if He Could

On Tuesday, we reported that the police had admitted that San Diego Sheriff’s Deputy Jeffrey Guy broke the law when he assaulted 22-year-old Antonio Martinez, who doctors say, has the mental capacity of a 7-year-old.

On Wednesday, a shocking new report from ABC 10 News has uncovered that Guy also has a history of using force with another agency. Not only did this cop say he would assault an innocent man with down syndrome again if the opportunity arises, but an investigation revealed that he has a history of excessive force.

Also, the department has not been complying with a California law requiring police to undergo training on how to proceed with the mentally disabled.

(Free thought project, feb 25th)

Exclusive: FBI Tries to Flip Open Carry Activist After Arrest at Political Rally

An open carry activist and military veteran speaking exclusively with Infowars says federal agents told him to “be quiet” for a year or face federal charges after being arrested by Department of Homeland Security agents at a political rally in Spokane, Washington.

The activist, Anthony Bosworth, was participating in the “Our State, Our Rights” rally near the city’s federal courthouse when members of multiple federal agencies approached and began demanding identification.

While inquiring on the alleged need to provide ID, Bosworth was accused of being in violation of federal gun laws according to a DHS agent on scene.

“It’s against federal law,” the agent claimed. “18 U.S. C 930 says it’s illegal.”

Bosworth, correctly citing the law’s wordage, asserted that the restriction only applied to the inside of federal buildings.

“On federal property,” the DHS agent argued. “You’re on federal property.”

18 U.S. Code 930 in fact never once uses the words “on federal property,” but instead repeatedly refers to the possession of a firearm inside a federally-run building.

    (a) Except as provided in subsection (d), whoever knowingly possesses or causes to be present a firearm or other dangerous weapon in a Federal facility (other than a Federal court facility), or attempts to do so, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 1 year, or both.

After being confronted by a U.S. Marshall, Bosworth was arrested while attempting to locate the end of the federal property line.

“You’re not protesting. You’re violating the law,” the Marshall said.

According to Bosworth, who spoke with Infowars following his release, the same U.S. Marshall later attempted to coerce him into ceasing all political activity while in custody.

Bosworth stated that after receiving a citation, the Marshall said that he could likely avoid federal charges and prison time if he was “quiet for a year.”

“He basically said, ‘Between me and you some friendly advice, if you be quiet for a year there is a good chance this will all go away. Just some friendly advice,’” Bosworth recalled.

(Infowars, feb 25th)

Report: UK Cops Drew Tasers On Over 430 Kids In 2013

Officers fired on youths between 10 and 17-years-old 37 times

(Infowars, feb 25th)

Watch policeman perform EXORCISM on 'drunk' suspect before arresting him

Stunning footage shows the religious cop shouting "Unleash his body, Jesus. Out in the name of Jesus" as stunned passers-by look on

(mirror, feb 25th)

GLOBAL CONFLICTS_______________

How the Military Will Fight ISIS on the Dark Web

The Dark Web is not so much a place as it is a method of achieving a level of anonymity online. It refers to web sites that mask the IP addresses of the servers on which they reside, making it impossible to know who or what is behind the site or sites. They don’t show up on search engines like Google so, unless you know exactly how to reach them, they’re effectively invisible. Activists and dissidents in countries like China and Iran use the Dark Web to get around state surveillance; journalists use it to reach sources and whistleblowers rely on it to spread the word about institutional abuse or malpractices. New evidence suggests that the Islamic State, or ISIS, or at least ISIS supporting groups, are seeking the Dark Web’s anonymity for operations beyond simple propaganda. Thus yet another challenge for law enforcement and the military: to track users on the Dark Web in a way that’s effective against ISIS but that doesn’t violate privacy.

Adm. Michael Rogers, commander of U.S. Cyber Command and director of the National Security Agency, speaking at the Cybersecurity for a New America Event on Monday in Washington said that groups like ISIS raising money on the Dark Web was “clearly a concern. It’s something that we’re paying attention to.” Without addressing explicitly how the NSA, goes about the task of paying attention, he added simply: “We spend a lot of time tracking people that can’t be found.”

A new report from the Chertoff Group illustrates some of the ways that the national security community will be keeping tabs on those who have taken steps to make themselves untraceable online.

First, while the Dark Web is incredibly valuable as a tool for dissident action, it also has some real dark spots. Ido Wulkan, the senior analyst at S2T, a Singapore-based technology company that develops Dark Web harvesting technologies, recently revealed to Israeli newspaper Haaretz that his company has found a number of websites raising funds for ISIS through bitcoin donations.

(Defense One, feb 25th)

Iran hangs Obama in effigy even as it negotiates nuclear deal with US

Just weeks before Secretary of State John Kerry held new nuclear talks with Iran’s foreign minister in Geneva, Iranians were hanging Kerry's boss in effigy at a huge Tehran-sponsored rally marking the Islamic Revolution’s 36th anniversary, an event that critics say underscores the absurdity of the ongoing diplomatic effort.

The U.S. and Iran are trying to reach a final nuclear agreement by a March 31 deadline against a backdrop of ongoing anti-American hatred in the Islamic republic. Photos posted by the Middle East Media Research Institute this week show Iranians marching in front of a display depicting President Obama hanging from a gallows and carrying signs of Kerry, portrayed as a devious fox.

Hundreds of thousands of Iranians took part in the Feb. 11 Revolution Day, which commemorates the 1979 overthrow of the U.S.-assisted Shah of Iran. The Iranians, as they have in past, chanted, “Death to America” and “Death to Israel.” They also burned and trampled an American flag.

(Fox news, feb 25th)

Iran has begun a major three-day naval drill in Persian Gulf in which more than 20 new missiles will be test fired.

The war games, dubbed Great Prophet 9, kicked off today, with the mock sinking of US Nimitz-class aircraft carrier in the Strait of Hormuz.

Four “Nasr” cruise missiles targeted a real-size model of the warship with a length of more than 333 metres. Several other ballistic missiles and assault speed-boats have also taken part in the operation.

Real Admiral Ali Fadavi, the Navy Commander of Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC), has said more than 20 missiles including underwater drones will be unveiled during the exercises. Ground-to-sea and ground-to-ground ballistic missiles are also being tested.

(IB times, feb 25th)

Voters wary of promises in Britain's unpredictable election

Posters are being printed and slogans are being polished as Britain's politicians battle it out in the most unpredictable national election in decades. One top election analyst has dubbed it "the lottery election."

Voters, though, don't seem very excited about who gets the prize.

"There's nobody who can run a country. They all lie to us," said Victor Loach, a fishmonger selling his wares in the cobbled central square of Atherstone, 100 miles (160 kilometers) northwest of London. "And why do they shout at each other like children?"

It's a common refrain. Opinion polls suggest voters are lukewarm about both Prime Minister David Cameron's Conservatives, seeking a second term, and Ed Miliband's opposition Labour Party.

So who is going to win the May 7 vote?

"The simple answer is nobody," said Leighton Vaughan Williams, director of the Political Forecasting Unit at Nottingham Business School. "It's very, very unlikely indeed that any party will get a majority.

"Indeed, it's very, very unlikely that any two parties can put together a majority after the election."

Britain's electoral landscape has become a patchwork of parties, including Scottish and Welsh nationalists, Greens and anti-Europeans. Any of them could end up holding the balance of power in Parliament.

It's a radical change after decades in which Britain's electoral system usually delivered either Conservative or Labour majorities in the House of Commons. Not anymore. Support for the two big parties has plummeted,


(AP, feb 25th)

Protests heat up in already tense Venezuela following teen's death

The killing of a 14-year-old boy by a policeman during an anti-government protest is raising already high tensions in Venezuela amid a crackdown on the opposition and crippling economic problems.

Protesters hurling rocks clashed with police backed by armored vehicles late into the night, and the country was braced for further demonstrations Wednesday after the student, identified as Kluiverth Roa, was shot in the head and killed during a confrontation in San Cristobal, the capital of a restive western state.

Police officer Javier Mora Ortiz, 23, confessed to firing on the boy with plastic ammunition, officials said.

A photo and video of the student lying in a pool of blood, his backpack hanging over his shoulder, as a man frantically tries to staunch the bleeding and others scream and clutch their heads in horror rocketed around social media. Mourners were gathering in San Cristobal for the funeral, expected Wednesday afternoon.

Ruling party officials, including President Nicolas Maduro, condemned the killing with rare speed and forcefulness.

But as Maduro spoke, many residents of the university town near the Colombian border leaned out their windows to bang pots and pans in a cacophonous protest that lasted two hours. Shops closed their doors and public transportation halted as protesters set up flaming barricades on main thoroughfares.

Buses began running again Wednesday morning, but schools remained closed.

In Caracas, small groups gathered Wednesday to protest the killings. Teacher Carolina Castro was among dozens of government critics who held signs outside the diplomatic mission of the Vatican beseeching Pope Francis intervene.

"It hurts me that they're killing our students," said Castro, who wore a homemade necklace with a photo of the 14 year-old. "How many more Venezuelans have to be murdered before there is a reaction?"

Maduro said in a nationally televised address that masked protesters used rocks to attack police who sought to quell the demonstration. He called on young people to resist instigating such confrontations, but also condemned the killing.

(Latino fox news, feb 25th)


China submarines outnumber U.S. fleet: U.S. admiral

 China is building some "fairly amazing submarines" and now has more diesel- and nuclear-powered vessels than the United States, a top U.S. Navy admiral told U.S. lawmakers on Wednesday, although he said their quality was inferior.

Vice Admiral Joseph Mulloy, deputy chief of naval operations for capabilities and resources, told the House Armed Services Committee's seapower subcommittee that China was also expanding the geographic areas of operation for its submarines, and their length of deployment.

For instance, China had carried out three deployments in the Indian Ocean, and had kept vessels out at sea for 95 days, Mulloy said.

"We know they are out experimenting and looking at operating and clearly want to be in this world of advanced submarines," Mulloy told the committee.

U.S. military officials in recent months have grown increasingly vocal about China's military buildup and launched a major push to ensure that U.S. military technology stays ahead of rapid advances by China and Russia.

(Reuters, feb 25th)

Exclusive: China drops leading technology brands for state purchases

China has dropped some of the world's leading technology brands from its approved state purchase lists, while approving thousands more locally made products, in what some say is a response to revelations of widespread Western cybersurveillance.

Others put the shift down to a protectionist impulse to shield China's domestic technology industry from competition.

Chief casualty is U.S. network equipment maker Cisco Systems Inc (CSCO.O), which in 2012 counted 60 products on the Central Government Procurement Center's (CGPC) list, but by late 2014 had none, a Reuters analysis of official data shows.

Smartphone and PC maker Apple Inc (AAPL.O) has also been dropped over the period, along with Intel Corp's (INTC.O) security software firm McAfee and network and server software firm Citrix Systems (CTXS.O).

The number of products on the list, which covers regular spending by central ministries, jumped by more than 2,000 in two years to just under 5,000, but the increase is almost entirely due to local makers.

(Reuters, feb 25th)

Five Pieces Of Indisputable Evidence Of Forced Organ Harvesting Of Falun Gong Practitioners In China

1. Sharp increase of number of organ transplantscoincides with onset of persecution of Falun Gong (Falun Dafa).

2. A marked number of Falun Gong practitionersgo missing at the same time that there is a rapid increase in the number of organ transplantsin China.

3. China’s lack of transparency regarding the source of organs for transplantation. Organ transplants in China are performedwithout revealing the identity of the donor.

4. Incredibly short average waiting periods of only one to two weeks, compared to waiting periods ranging from two to three years in other countries, coincided with the beginning of the persecution of Falun Gong in China (July 1999).

5. Admission of the regime’s representative and the testimony of witnesses.

(sleuth journal, feb 25th)


Congressional Republicans are making a last-ditch effort to stop the District of Columbia from decriminalizing private recreational use of marijuana from going into effect Thursday, threatening the mayor and her staff with fines and jail time.

In a letter [PDF] sent late Tuesday to DC’s newly-inaugurated Democrat mayor, Muriel Bowser, Reps. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) and Mark Meadows (R-NC) warned the District government that enacting Initiative 71 would be “contrary to law.” The two representatives, majority members of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, also demanded the District turn over extensive documentation on any employees involved with the Initiative by March 10, with the implicit threat of fines and jail time for violating federal law.

(Russia Today, feb 25th)


Vatican Seeks to Quell Mexican Anger Over Pope's Drug Remark

Francis made the reference in an email over the weekend to an Argentine friend and lawmaker, Gustavo Vera, who is involved in combating the drug trade. He published the pope's email on the website of his Alameda Foundation.

In the email, Francis wrote: "Hopefully we are in time to avoid Mexicanization."

The Mexican government formally complained about the remark during a meeting with the Holy See's ambassador to Mexico and in a note of protest, saying the government was committed to battling drug cartels and that there was no benefit to "stigmatizing Mexico."

(abc news, feb 25th)

Video of the Day – Watch as Florida Parents are Treated Like Children for Questioning School Curriculum

In order to give you some background on the issue, see the Letter to the Editor he wrote to the Naples Daily News on 1/28 to say what he was prevented from saying at the 1/20 School Board Workshop. Letter reprinted below:

    I examined seventh-grade “Civics in Practice” and it contained numerous factual inaccuracies. For example, on Page 100 it states, “The Constitution can be changed in two ways; formally by Amendment, and informally by Government.” This notion of dictatorship is enhanced by eighth-grade textbook “United States History,” which states on Page 185, “The President issues Executive Orders. These commands have the power of law.”

    While some called us book-burning Nazis, Page 274 of “Civics in Practice” states, “Citizens must be alert to propaganda” and glittering generalities is a “type of propaganda which often uses words such as freedom and patriotism.” This world government indoctrination is augmented on Page 425, where a geographical map of North America eliminates the United States, and places our great nation in nine new “cultural nations.”

    For pointing this out, one public speaker at the School Board textbook workshop called us “narrow-minded, racist Bible-thumpers.”

    Thank you, Superintendent Patton.

The author has assured me that there is absolutely zero racist or religious angle to any of his concerns, and that this is being shamelessly injected into the argument due to an inability to debate the actual concerns.

(liberty blitzkreig, feb 25th)

Condom vending machines introduced to prisons in California

A controversial new law has been introduced in California requiring all prisons in the state to install condom vending machines. The new legislation stipulates that within the next five years California must start distributing condoms in around three dozen state prisons.

(Indepedent, feb 25th)

Boston Tops 100 Inches Of Snow In Record-Setting Winter

Overnight snow showers brought the season total to 101.8 inches. That’s less than 6 inches shy of the all-time record of 107.6 inches set in the winter of 1995-96.

Boston has smashed several snowfall records, including snowiest February and snowiest all-time month, as one snowstorm after another pummeled New England.

It’s also been one of the coldest months ever, breaking the record in Boston for most sub-freezing days ever seen in February

(CBS boston, feb 25th)

Trump says he is serious about 2016 bid, is hiring staff and delaying TV gig

(Washington post, feb 25th)


Johnson & Johnson Loses Trial Over Risperdal And Male Breasts

In a setback to Johnson & Johnson, a Philadelphia jury decided the health care giant must pay $2.5 million in damages for failing to warn that its Risperdal antipsychotic could cause gynecomastia, which is abnormal development of breasts in males. The lawsuit was brought by the family of an autistic boy who took the drug in 2002 and later developed size 46 DD breasts, according to a lawyer for the family.

The case has drawn attention for a few reasons. For one, this was the first lawsuit claiming J&J hid the risks of gynecomastia to go to trial after a handful of cases were settled in recent years. The trial also served as a reminder that J&J paid $2.2 billion two years ago to resolve criminal and civil allegations of illegally marketing Risperdal to children and the elderly.

Moreover, former FDA commissioner David Kessler served as a paid expert witness for the family and testified that J&J knew about the risks associated with Risperdal, but failed to disclose the data showing the extent to which youngsters may develop gynecomastia. In a report prepared for a 2012 case that was settled, Kessler wrote that J&J’s Janssen unit, which marketed the drug, had violated the law.

(WSJ, feb 25th)

Rio de Janeiro's state environmental agency says it is investigating a fish die-off that has left thousands of carcasses floating in waters where sailing events are to be held when Brazil hosts next year's Olympics.

The dead twaite shad, small whitish gray fish, were discovered Tuesday by inspectors conducting routine water testing in Rio's sewage- and trash-filled Guanabara Bay. The agency was conducting tests to determine the cause of the die-off, with results expected in a week, it said in a statement Tuesday.

The discovery of the fish, which were washing up on the coastline outside Rio's international airport and about 12 kilometers (7.5 miles) from the starting point for the 2016 Olympic sailing events, comes amid a visit by International Olympic Committee inspectors, in Rio to check up on the city's progress in preparing for the games.

It also follows upbeat comments by Rio Governor Luiz Fernando Pezao, who said the city was working to meet its pledge to treat 80 percent of the sewage in the sprawling urban area that rings the bay. While the lion's share of area sewage long has long flowed, raw, into the bay, Pezao said 49 percent of the area's sewage was now being treated. Still, he acknowledged that Rio is unlikely to meet its goal of 80 percent treatment.

(AP, feb 25th)

A west Indian city has banned most public gatherings in an attempt to halt the spread of swine flu, which has claimed at least 926 lives nationwide in 11 weeks.

Officials prohibited gatherings of five or more people in Ahmedabad, the capital of Gujarat state, starting Wednesday. Marriages and funerals are exempt from the ban, but participants will need to wear protective masks, officials said.

The law invoked for the ban is generally used to maintain law and order, not health, and officials said they would be flexible in interpreting which public events would be prohibited.

Among the thousands in Gujarat testing positive for H1N1, the virus which causes swine flu, were its assembly speaker and state health minister.

The Health Ministry said most of the more than 16,000 cases reported nationwide since mid-December were in the states of Gujarat, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Telangana and Madhya Pradesh.

(AP, feb 25th)


Navy Proves Flu Shot Causes Flu

(Rob Dew, infowars, feb 25th)

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