February 20th, 2012
By: Ethan A. Huff
The mainstream media appears to be priming the public consciousness once again for the inevitable release of a highly-deadly pathogen in the very near future. A recent Reuters report explains that many of the world’s biosafety level-3 (BSL-3) and biosafety level-4 (BSL-4) laboratories, which house some of the deadliest pathogens in existence, may not be as safe and secure as people think they are because federal regulations technically require nothing more than a single locked door at such facilities as a security measure.
According to the report, some labs voluntarily employ rigorous safety and security measures, including the Galveston National Laboratory in Texas, which is a highly-protected complex with at least eight levels of secured entry, closed-circuit video monitoring, and negative air flow and dedicated exhaust systems to prevent the accidental release of deadly pathogens. But many other such labs do not have this same tight level of a security, as federal law does not regulate the safety protocols used by private research labs.
“Galveston’s strict security underlines a little-known fact about hundreds of labs working with bacteria and viruses that could make the 1918-19 Spanish flue epidemic — when as many as 40 million people died — seem like a summer cold,” says the report. “Many of the precautions it takes are not required by law.”
Will the militarized H5N1 avian flu strain be ‘accidentally’ released from an unsecured BSL facility?
The report conveniently comes just a few months after it was first announced that scientists in Europe had deliberately created a weaponized H5N1 avian bird flu strain capable of spreading between humans (http://www.naturalnews.com/034228_bioterrorism_flu_strain.html). And since that announcement, there has been a lot of chatter about whether or not the results of this creation should be published in scientific journals, and what the likelihood is that this vicious strain will someday get released into the wild where it could kill off populations around the world at pandemic levels.
The stage is being set, in other words, for the “accidental” release of one of these pathogens at some point in the future, upon which there will be a host of scapegoats to blame. And since all this private research being conducted on deadly viral and bacterial strains at private BSL-3 and BSL-4 labs around the world is apparently not much of a security concern to the federal government, it appears that it is only a matter of time before something catastrophic occurs.
There are also few specifics on the types of research that must be conducted in BSL-4 labs versus BSL-3 labs, which means that the deadly new H5N1 mutant strain can technically be conducted at either, even though BSL-3 labs are intended for less-serious bacterial and viral strains. This is highly concerning because, according to a 2009 Government Accountability Office (GAO) report, there were 400 accidents at BSL-3 labs just in the U.S. alone that year.
For The Full Story Go To Natural News
February 17th, 2012
New York Times
By: John H. Cushman Jr. and Robert Pear
With members of both parties expressing distaste at some of the particulars, Congress on Friday voted to extend payroll tax cuts and unemployment benefits and sent the legislation to President Obama, ending a contentious political and policy fight.
The vote in the House was 293 to 132 with Democrats, who are in the minority, carrying the proposal over the top with the acquiescence of almost as many Republicans. The Senate followed within minutes and approved the measure on a vote of 60 to 36.
“One hundred sixty million Americans,” said Senator Max Baucus, the Montana Democrat who, as chairman of the Finance Committee, led negotiations over the measure with the House. “That’s the number of Americans who are helped by this bill.”
President Obama has said he will sign the bill as soon as Congress passed it, with lawmakers seeking to wrap up the legislation before leaving on the Washington’s Birthday break.
A compromise allowing the extension of the tax holiday for the rest of the year came together quickly this week, as Republicans decided it was not politically viable to resist in an election year. It avoided an abrupt increase in payroll taxes that would have taken effect March 1, returning them to the level of 2010. The taxes are withheld from the paychecks of most wage earners and finance the Social Security system.
The legislation also temporarily avoids cuts in payments to doctors under federal health insurance programs.
In the negotiations, which took place during a two-month temporary extension of a popular tax break that had been in place throughout 2011, Republicans gave up on their demands that the tax cuts be paid for. But they won provisions that would pay for the other spending increases in the bill by making cuts in other federal programs involving health care and government pensions.
According to the Congressional Budget Office, the package will increase the budget deficit by $119.5 billion over the next five years, but by a bit less over the longer haul as some of the spending reductions and new revenues are fully realized.
Republicans who said they supported the deal said they had won several important concessions during the talks, like imposing new conditions and limits on unemployment compensation and making a significant cut in the preventive-health spending called for in the health care overhaul that Democrats pushed through Congress in 2010.
Representative Renee Ellmers, Republican of North Carolina, called that cut “the most dramatic blow to Obamacare yet.”
But she said the overall deal was “a very important breakthrough and shows that we can come together and compromise.”
Democrats, some of whom sharply condemned the deal, saw things differently. Even those who voted for the bill, which the White House supported and Democrats considered a major act of economic stimulus to propel the recovery forward, said many of its provisions were misguided.
Two Democratic leaders, Representatives Steny H. Hoyer and Chris Van Hollen, both of whose Maryland districts contain thousands of federal employees, denounced cuts in future pension benefits for government employees, which were used to pay for the extension of unemployment benefits. They would have preferred tax increases on the wealthy, or on corporations, or closing loopholes like the one that lets fund managers treat their income as lightly-taxed “carried interest.”
“Nobody else in this bill, not a millionaire, not a billionaire, not a carried-interest beneficiary, not an oil company, nobody in this bill other than federal employees is asked to pay,” fumed Mr. Hoyer, the Democratic whip, confident that his denunciation of the bill would not endanger its passage.
“It’s time to stop scapegoating federal employees,” Mr. Van Hollen said.
Under the bill, the government would save $15 billion over 10 years by reducing its contribution to federal employee pensions and requiring new workers to contribute more.
But ultimately, the Democrats pronounced themselves satisfied.
“On balance, I come down in favor of supporting what the president asked us to do,” said Representative Nancy Pelosi, the minority leader.
In the Senate, there is considerable support for the bill in both parties, but just enough opposition to stop its passage from being a sure thing until the last moment.
The Congressional Budget Office said the provisions of the bill, taken together, would increase the federal budget deficit by $101 billion this year and by a total of $89 billion from 2012 to 2022. One provision, continuing the payroll tax cut for the next 10 months, will cost $93 billion, the budget office said.
Representative Dave Camp, Republican of Michigan and chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, said the bill “prevents a tax increase for working Americans and makes the most significant reforms to federal unemployment programs since they were created in the 1930s.”
In addition, Mr. Camp said, the bill “ensures that seniors continue to have access to their doctors.”
Representative Sander M. Levin of Michigan, the senior Democrat on the committee, said the bill “will provide a boost to the economy” and create jobs.
“Unemployment insurance — people spend it,” Mr. Levin said. “That’s good for their subsistence. It’s good for the economy.”
For The Full Report Go To New York Times
February 17th, 2012
By: Aaron Smith
The healthcare company McNeil is recalling more than half a million bottles of Infants’ Tylenol because of consumer complaints about the difficulties of using the dosing system.
McNeil is recalling about 574,000 bottles after receiving a “small number” of complaints regarding the so-called “dosing syringe” of the orally-administered over-the-counter painkiller. The company said that in some cases the “flow restrictor was pushed into the bottle when inserting the syringe.”
The recall applies to one-ounce bottles of grape-flavored Infants’ Tylenol Oral Suspension.
The company said there have been “no adverse events” from the problem and that “the risk of series adverse medical event is remote.”
The company said that consumers can continue to use the product, despite the voluntary recall, so long as the flow restrictor remains in place at the top of the bottle.
McNeil, a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson (JNJ, Fortune 500), has had numerous recalls in the recent past, especially with Tylenol.
The U.S. government took over three Tylenol plants last year for failure to comply with federally-mandated manufacturing procedures.
Click Here For The Full Report From CNN
February 16, 2012
By Nicholas West
“State and Federal governments are so afraid of the people that they will do anything to keep track on what we’re doing. How bout instead you leave us alone? Just a thought.” –KTRN
ICE announced in February, 2011 that it would begin using biometric identification as a key component of an information-sharing nexus with 58 California counties meant to identify aliens who are booked for crimes by local police. However, a Freedom of Information Act request by several justice organizations revealed a program involving extensive Homeland Security coordination to expand the Secure Communities biometrics program to include even law-abiding American citizens.
The progression of Secure Communities has been warp speed, as 27 states have implemented its procedures. Minnesota is the latest to add itself in full compliance with the mandatory federal biometric ID program.
However, a pattern of deception by the federal government from the onset, as well as ignoring the growing criticism, is making it clear that rather than being a specific initiative to deport known criminals, Secure Communities is looking more and more like a sweeping move toward a Big Brother total surveillance grid.
Secure Communities is part of the Next Generation Identification program that has been rolled out to supplant the current fingerprint database known as IAFIS. Full biometrics are added to fingerprint information, including: palm scans, voice imprints, iris scans, facial recognition, and other body signatures that form an identity dossier of every individual. Once established, the dossier can be analyzed and communicated in real time between local law enforcement and federal agencies to theoretically deport “illegal and dangerous immigrants.”
Concerns have been raised by privacy rights advocates and Constitutionalists alike. The biometric dossier is compiled on anyone caught within its web; it then becomes the property of law enforcement agencies even if your biometrics (and DNA) are picked up as latent imprints at a crime scene. This makes everyday movements part of a tracking grid that can be cross-referenced beyond the court of law, potentially leading to false suspicions, interrogations, and arrests.
ICE is already under investigation for misrepresenting its intentions; and the wider role of the FBI, and its push to make mandatory what could have been voluntary, only furthers the suspicion that forcing states to obey federal mandate has intentions that far surpass documenting and deporting illegal and dangerous individuals.
According to Bridget Kessler of the Cardozo Law School Immigration Justice Clinic, one of the organizations that applied through FOIA to review documents outlining the FBI’s role in the implementation of Secure Communities:
January 11, 2012
By Cindy Galli
Montana farmers have filed a class action suit against former New Jersey governor Jon Corzine, charging that the failed financial firm run by Corzine stole millions from their accounts to pay off its spiraling debts, and that Corzine’s “single-minded obsession” with making MF Global a big player on Wall Street led to the firm’s collapse.
MF Global’s clients included 38,000 wheat farmers, cattle ranchers and others who “hedged” their crop prices by placing millions in MF Global accounts. Those accounts were supposed to be “segregated and secure,” according to the federal suit, meaning MF Global could not draw on those funds.
The lawsuit, filed on behalf of all 38,000 customers, alleges that when MF Global made a series of bad investments — notably in European debt — it began “siphoning funds withdrawn from segregated client accounts” to cover its debts.
“This is a suit by the real victims of MF Global,” said plaintiff’s attorney Mark Baker of the law firm Anderson, Baker & Swanson. “The missing funds were not investments in MF Global, or loans to MF Global, but rather the customer’s own money as collateral to guaranty their contracts. They were not to be used by others – let alone their own broker – to speculate on risky and exotic securities.”
October 24, 2011
By MATTHEW MOSK and BRIAN ROSS
With the approval of the Obama administration, an electric car company that received a $529 million federal government loan guarantee is assembling its first line of cars in Finland, saying it could not find a facility in the United States capable of doing the work.
Vice President Joseph Biden heralded the Energy Department’s $529 million loan to the start-up electric car company called Fisker as a bright new path to thousands of American manufacturing jobs. But two years after the loan was announced, the company’s manufacturing jobs are still limited to the assembly of the flashy electric Fisker Karma sports car in Finland.
“There was no contract manufacturer in the U.S. that could actually produce our vehicle,” the car company’s founder and namesake told ABC News. “They don’t exist here.”
Henrik Fisker said the U.S. money has been spent on engineering and design work that stayed in the U.S., not on the 500 manufacturing jobs that went to a rural Finnish firm, Valmet Automotive.
“We’re not in the business of failing; we’re in the business of winning. So we make the right decision for the business,” Fisker said. “That’s why we went to Finland.”
The loan to Fisker is part of a $1 billion bet the Energy Department has made in two politically connected California-based electric carmakers producing sporty — and pricey — cutting-edge autos. Fisker Automotive, backed by a powerhouse venture capital firm whose partners include former Vice President Al Gore, predicts it will eventually be churning out tens of thousands of electric sports sedans at the shuttered GM factory it bought in Delaware. And Tesla Motors, whose prime backers include PayPal mogul Elon Musk and Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin, says it will do the same in a massive facility tooling up in Silicon Valley.
An investigation by ABC News and the Center for Public Integrity’s iWatch News found that the DOE’s bet carries risks for taxpayers, has raised concern among industry observers and government auditors, and adds to questions about the way billions of dollars in loans for smart cars and green energy companies have been awarded. Fisker is more than a year behind rolling out its $97,000 luxury vehicle bankrolled in part with DOE money. While more are promised soon, just 40 of its Karma cars (below) have been manufactured and only two delivered to customers’ driveways, including one to movie star Leonardo DiCaprio. Tesla’s SEC filings reveal the start-up has lost money every quarter. And while its federal funding is intended to help it mass produce a new $57,400 Model S sedan, the company has no experience in a project so vast.
There is intense scrutiny of the decisions made by the Department of Energy as it invests billions of taxpayer dollars in alternative energy. The questions come in the wake of the administration’s failed $535 million investment in solar panel maker Solyndra. The company’s collapse, bankruptcy and raid by FBI agents generated a litany of questions about how the Energy Department doles out billions in highly sought after green energy seed money.
A key question, experts and investigators say, is whether another Solyndra is in the offing.
In interviews, executives with Tesla and Fisker said comparisons to Solyndra are unfounded. Each said the government’s investments will ultimately pay off by supporting a fleet of electric cars that will ease the nation’s dependence on fuel and benefit the environment.
“It’s absolutely a worthwhile risk,” said Diarmuid O’Connell, vice president of corporate and business development for Tesla Motors. “I absolutely believe it was a good bet for American taxpayers.” Tesla has said its mass production of the sedan will ultimately lead to profitability.
Henrik Fisker, the renowned auto designer who founded the car company that carries his name, said his company holds tremendous promise and has accumulated $600 million in private financing.
October 19, 2011
By Paul Steinhauser
Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul is proposing to cut $1 trillion from the federal budget in his first year in office and eliminate five cabinet level federal departments, if elected president.
The longtime congressman from Texas unveiled his proposals Monday as part his “Plan to Restore America,” which also pledges to balance the budget over three years, and slashes regulations and taxes.
“A lot of people will say, well, cutting a trillion dollars in one year, that sounds radical. But I have been under the assumption that the radicals have been in charge way too long,” Paul told a receptive audience at a campaign event at the Venetian Hotel and Sands Expo and Convention Center, site of Tuesday’s CNN Western Republican presidential debate.
Paul proposed eliminating the departments of Energy, Housing and Urban Development, Commerce, Interior, and Education, as well as abolishing the Transportation Security Administration and returning responsibility for security to private property owners. Paul also called for reducing the federal workforce by 10%, slashing Congressional pay and perks, and curb what he called excessive federal travel.
“In many of the departments that we cut, there are some important places there that we just don’t close down. Many of those important parts of each of those departments will be held in another department. So nobody gets laid off immediately, they get laid off through attrition,” Paul said.
Paul’s proposals also call for abolishing corporate subsidies, stopping foreign aid, ending foreign wars, and returning most other spending to 2006 levels. In an interview on CNN’s “The Situation Room”, Paul told anchor Wolf Blitzer that he will cut $200 billion from military spending in his first year, if elected, and “over a period of time, drastically lower.”
“I don’t cut anything from defense. I cut from the military. There’s a big difference,” added Paul. “We need a stronger national defense, not a weaker one. Just spending money doesn’t necessarily help us.”
Paul is also pledging that, if elected, he would take a salary of $39,336, approximately equal to the median personal income of the American worker. Paul is proposing to lower the corporate tax rate to 15%, extend all Bush-era tax cuts, abolish the so-called “death tax,” and end taxes on personal savings.
According to his plan, Paul would also repeal two major pieces of legislation passed under Pres. Barack Obama, the president’s health care reform law, known by Republicans as “ObamaCare,” and the Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform law.
Paul, who’s making his third bid for the White House, places third or fourth in most recent national polling in the race for the Republican presidential nomination.
Today, Kevin explains where your tax dollars are really going and why simple tips like, cleaning your desk can lead to a healthier life.
Take Trudeau on the Go! Click here to download this show to your iPod, mp3 player, or PC through iTunes!
Today, Kevin explains where your tax dollars are really going and why simple tips like, cleaning your desk can lead to a healthier life.
Take Trudeau on the Go! Click here to download this show to your iPod, mp3 player, or PC through iTunes!
September 10, 2010
The New York Times
By: Charlie Savage
A federal appeals court on Wednesday ruled that former prisoners of the C.I.A. could not sue over their alleged torture in overseas prisons because such a lawsuit might expose secret government information.
The sharply divided ruling was a major victory for the Obama administration’s efforts to advance a sweeping view of executive secrecy powers. It strengthens the White House’s hand as it has pushed an array of assertive counterterrorism policies, while raising an opportunity for the Supreme Court to rule for the first time in decades on the scope of the president’s power to restrict litigation that could reveal state secrets.
By a 6-to-5 vote, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit dismissed a lawsuit against Jeppesen Dataplan Inc., a Boeing subsidiary accused of arranging flights for the Central Intelligence Agency to transfer prisoners to other countries for imprisonment and interrogation. The American Civil Liberties Union filed the case on behalf of five former prisoners who say they were tortured in captivity — and that Jeppesen was complicit in that alleged abuse.
Judge Raymond C. Fisher described the case, which reversed an earlier decision, as presenting “a painful conflict between human rights and national security.” But, he said, the majority had “reluctantly” concluded that the lawsuit represented “a rare case” in which the government’s need to protect state secrets trumped the plaintiffs’ need to have a day in court.
While the alleged abuses occurred during the Bush administration, the ruling added a chapter to the Obama administration’s aggressive national security policies.
Its counterterrorism programs have in some ways departed from the expectations of change fostered by President Obama’s campaign rhetoric, which was often sharply critical of former President George W. Bush’s approach.
Among other policies, the Obama national security team has also authorized the C.I.A. to try to kill a United States citizen suspected of terrorism ties, blocked efforts by detainees in Afghanistan to bring habeas corpus lawsuits challenging the basis for their imprisonment without trial, and continued the C.I.A.’s so-called extraordinary rendition program of prisoner transfers — though the administration has forbidden torture and says it seeks assurances from other countries that detainees will not be mistreated.
The A.C.L.U. vowed to appeal the Jeppesen Dataplan case to the Supreme Court, which would present the Roberts court with a fresh opportunity to weigh in on a high-profile test of the scope and limits of presidential power in counterterrorism matters.
It has been more than 50 years since the Supreme Court issued a major ruling on the state-secrets privilege, a judicially created doctrine that the government has increasingly used to win dismissals of lawsuits related to national security, shielding its actions from judicial review. In 2007, the Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal of a similar rendition and torture ruling by the federal appeals court in Richmond, Va.
The current case turns on whether the executive can invoke the state-secrets privilege to shut down entire lawsuits, or whether that power should be limited to withholding particular pieces of secret information. In April 2009, a three-judge panel on the Ninth Circuit adopted the narrower view, ruling that the lawsuit as a whole should proceed.
But the Obama administration appealed to the full San Francisco-based appeals court. A group of 11 of its judges reheard the case, and a narrow majority endorsed the broader view of executive secrecy powers. They concluded that the lawsuit must be dismissed without a trial — even one that would seek to rely only on public information.
“This case requires us to address the difficult balance the state secrets doctrine strikes between fundamental principles of our liberty, including justice, transparency, accountability and national security,” Judge Fisher wrote. “Although as judges we strive to honor all of these principles, there are times when exceptional circumstances create an irreconcilable conflict between them.”
Ben Wizner, a senior A.C.L.U. lawyer who argued the case before the appeals court, said the group was disappointed in the ruling.
“To this date, not a single victim of the Bush administration’s torture program has had his day in court,” Mr. Wizner said. “That makes this a sad day not only for the torture survivors who are seeking justice in this case, but for all Americans who care about the rule of law and our nation’s reputation in the world. If this decision stands, the United States will have closed its courts to torture victims while providing complete immunity to their torturers.”
Some plaintiffs in the case said they were tortured by C.I.A. interrogators at an agency “black site” prison in Afghanistan, while others said they were tortured by Egypt and Morocco after the C.I.A. handed them off to foreign security services.
The lead plaintiff is Binyam Mohamed, an Ethiopian citizen and legal resident of Britain who was arrested in Pakistan in 2002. He claimed he was turned over to the C.I.A., which flew him to Morocco and handed him off to its security service.
Moroccan interrogators, he said, held him for 18 months and subjected him to an array of tortures, including cutting his penis with a scalpel and then pouring a hot, stinging liquid on the open wounds.
Mr. Mohamed was later transferred back to the C.I.A., which he said flew him to its secret prison in Afghanistan. There, he said, he was held in continuous darkness, fed sparsely and subjected to loud noise — like the recorded screams of women and children — 24 hours a day.
He was later transferred again to the military prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, where he was held for an additional five years. He was released and returned to Britain in early 2009 and is now free.