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Archive for January 2011

Questions Raised About U.S. Firm’s Role in Egypt Internet Crackdown

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FreePress.net

Date: January 28, 2011
Contact: Jenn Ettinger, 202-265-1490 x 35

WASHINGTON — A U.S. company appears to have sold Egypt technology to monitor Internet and mobile phone traffic that is possibly being used by the ruling regime to crack down on communications as protests erupt throughout the country. Boeing-owned, California-based company Narus sold Telecom Egypt, the state-run Internet service provider, “real-time traffic intelligence” equipment, more commonly known as Deep Packet Inspection (DPI) technology. DPI is content-filtering technology that allows network managers to inspect, track and target content from Internet users and mobile phones as it passes through routers on the Web.

The company is also known for creating “NarusInsight,” a supercomputer system allegedly used by the National Security Agency and other entities to perform mass surveillance and monitoring of public and corporate Internet communications in real time.

Narus Vice President of Marketing Steve Bannerman said to Wired in 2006: “Anything that comes through (an Internet protocol network), we can record. We can reconstruct all of their e-mails along with attachments, see what web pages they clicked on, we can reconstruct their [Voice Over Internet Protocol] calls.”

Free Press Campaign Director Timothy Karr made the following statement:

“What we are seeing in Egypt is a frightening example of how the power of technology can be abused. Commercial operators trafficking in Deep Packet Inspection technology to violate Internet users’ privacy is bad enough; in government hands, that same invasion of privacy can quickly lead to stark human rights violations.

“Companies that profit from sales of this technology need to be held to a higher standard. The same technology U.S. and European companies want to use to monitor and monetize their customers’ online activities is being used by regimes in Iran, China, Burma and others for far more suspicious, and possibly brutal, purposes.

“The harm to democracy and the power to control the Internet are so disturbing that the threshold for the global trafficking in DPI must be set very high. That’s why, before DPI becomes more widely used around the world and at home, Congress must establish legitimate standards for preventing the use of such control and surveillance technologies as means to violate human rights.”

For more information, read Karr’s story at the Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/timothy-karr/one-us-corporations-role-_b_815281.html

USDA Decision On GE Alfalfa Leaves Door Open For Contamination, Rise Of Superweeds

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Update: see more links at end

Center For Food Safety January 27, 2011

ROGUE AGENCY CHOOSES “BUSINESS AS USUAL” OVER SOUND SCIENCE

CENTER ANNOUNCES IMMEDIATE LEGAL CHALLENGE TO USDA’S FLAWED ASSESSMENT

The Center for Food Safety criticized the announcement today by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) that it will once again allow unlimited, nation-wide commercial planting of Monsanto’s genetically-engineered (GE) Roundup Ready alfalfa, despite the many risks to organic and conventional farmers USDA acknowledged in its Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS).  On a call today with stakeholders, Secretary Vilsack reiterated the concerns surrounding purity and access to non-GE seed, yet the Agency’s decision still places the entire burden for preventing contamination on non-GE farmers, with no protections for food producers, consumers and exporters.

“We’re disappointed with USDA’s decision and we will be back in court representing the interest of farmers, preservation of the environment, and consumer choice” said Andrew Kimbrell, Executive Director for the Center for Food Safety. “USDA has become a rogue agency in its regulation of biotech crops and its decision to appease the few companies who seek to benefit from this technology comes despite increasing evidence that GE alfalfa will threaten the rights of farmers and consumers, as well as damage the environment.”

On Monday, the Center sent an open letter to Secretary Vilsack calling on USDA to base its decision on sound science and the interests of farmers, and to avoid rushing the process to meet the marketing timelines or sales targets of Monsanto, Forage Genetics or other entities.

CFS also addressed several key points that were not properly assessed in the FEIS, among them were: Read the rest of this entry »

GMO-Risk Scientist Wins Libel Case After Smear Campaign

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“Neutral”  attackers revealed to have financial interests in the industry.

Victory for Independent Science

World-famous independent scientist researching the risks of GMOs wins libel case against biotech association fronting a concerted campaign to discredit and victimise him

Dr. Mae-Wan Ho January 26, 2011 Institute of Science in Society

Gilles-Eric Séralini, professor of molecular biology at the University of Caen in France, and president of the scientific council for independent research on genetic engineering (CRIIGEN), is a leading researcher into the risks of GMOs. Not surprisingly, he and his team became the target a concerted campaign of vilification, which included Monsanto, EFSA (European Food Safety Authority) and scientific societies representing biotechnology in France: the French Association of Plant Biotechnology and the French High Counsel on Biotechnology (see [1] Defend Gilles-Eric Seralini and Transparency in GMO Risk Assessment! SiS 46).

This attach was triggered by the team’s recent thorough re-analysis of data submitted by Monsanto to obtain commercial approval in Europe for three GM maize lines, MON 863, MON 810, NK603, on which EFSA had given a favourable opinion.  In a published paper, the team concluded that the data “highlight signs of hepatorenal toxicity, possibly due to the new pesticides specific to each GM corn. In addition, unintended direct or indirect metabolic consequences of the genetic modification cannot be excluded.”

Séralini and his colleagues received massive support from scientists and civil society. But Séralini decided to sue for libel; he believed the researchers Claude Allegre, Axel Kahn, and Marc Fellous were behind the defamation and intimidation campaign in France and that is why he pursued Fellous, who chairs the French Association of Plant Biotechnologies (AFBV), in the courts. Séralini argued that the campaign had damaged his reputation, reducing his opportunities for work and his chances of getting funding for his research [2].

Read the rest of this entry »

FEMA is up to something big: buying massive food/fuel supplies

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Is It Strange That FEMA Wants to Buy 140 Million Packaged Meals

with a Shelf Life of Only 36 Months for a Specific Disaster Scenario?

They sure seem convinced there will be a big disaster here soon. How much do you think 140 million MRE’s will cost?

Spotted by cryptogon January 23rd, 2011:

I’m sure that there are plenty of reasons why this isn’t weird, but I’ll just make a note of it in case Coincidence strikes.

Via: Federal Business Opportunities:

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) procures and stores pre-packaged commercial meals to support readiness capability for immediate distribution to disaster survivors routinely. The purpose of this Request for Information is to identify sources of supply for meals in support of disaster relief efforts based on a catastrophic disaster event within the New Madrid Fault System for a survivor population of 7M to be utilized for the sustainment of life during a 10-day period of operations. FEMA is considering the following specifications (14M meals per day):

– Serving Size – 12 ounce (entree not to exceed 480 calorie count);
– Maximum calories – 1200 and/or 1165 per meal;
– Protein parameters – 29g-37g kit;
– Trans Fat – 0;
– Saturated Fat – 13 grams (9 calories per gram);
– Total Fat – 47 grams (less than 10% calories);
– Maximum sodium – 800-930 mg;

Requested Menus to include snacks (i.e. fruit mix, candy, chocolate/peanut butter squeezers, drink mix, condiments, and utensils). All meals/kits must have 36 months of remaining shelf life upon delivery. Packaging should be environmentally friendly.

Now the government wants @ 1.3 Million gallons of fuel in addition to the 14M Blankets, Meals, and Body bags in adjacent states:

The Government has a presolicitation notice out for 24-thousand gallons of gasoline and 135,000 gallons of diesel in each state for NC, SC, GA, FL, AL, MS, TX, and LA. That’s 1.272 million gallons they’re looking for. Vendors will be required to maintain readiness capability and deliver within 24 hours notice and provide mobile refueling in the event of a disaster to and within a 300 mile radius of mobilization areas.

Update:

03/01/11   Largest earthquake in 35 years hits Arkansas

Written by laudyms

January 25, 2011 at 10:17 am

Ban Neonicotinoid Pesticides to Save the Honeybee

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Fresh evidence links neonicotinoid pesticides to death of the honeybees and spurs calls for banning the pesticides

Dr. Mae-Wan Ho January 24, 2011                Institute of Science in Society

Increase vulnerability to infection at minute doses

The honeybee’s vulnerability to infection is increased by the presence of imidacloprid, even at the most microscopic doses. This new research result by Dr Jeffrey Pettis and his team at the US Department of Agriculture’s Bee Research Laboratory has remained unpublished for nearly two years, according to an ‘exclusive’ report in UK’s newspaper, The Independent [1]. Increased disease infection happened even when the levels of the insecticide were so tiny that they could not be detected in the bees that the researchers had dosed.

The neonicotinoid insecticides, introduced since the early 1990s, are increasingly used on crops in the US, Britain and around the world. Bayer, the German chemicals giant that developed the insecticides insists that they are safe for bees if used properly, but they have already been widely linked to bee losses. Imidacloprid was Bayer’s top-selling insecticide in 2009, earning the company £510 m.

Link to colony collapse of the honeybee

Neonicotinoids have attracted growing controversy since their introduction by Bayer in the 1990s, and have been blamed by some beekeepers and environmental campaigners as a potential cause of Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), first observed in the US in 2006, in which bees disappear from hives en mass (see [2] Mystery of Disappearing Honeybees, SiS 34). Prof. Joe Cummins at ISIS was among the first to link neonicotinoid insecticides to CCD ([3] Requiem for the Honeybee , SiS 34); which had led to swift action on the part of the German Government in banning the pesticides ([4] Emergency Pesticide Ban for Saving the Honeybee, SiS 39).

Between 20 and 40 per cent of American hives have been affected, and CCD has since been observed in several other countries from France to Taiwan, though it has not yet been detected in Britain [1], where the area of cropland treated with neonicotinoids has gone from 0 in 1993 to more than 2.5 m acres in 2008.

Neonicotinoids bans

The chemicals have been banned already in France, Germany and Italy. In Britain, the Co-op has banned their use in farms from which it sources fruit and vegetables, but the British Government has refused to ban or suspend them.

Buglife director, Matt Shardlow, commented on the Pettis study: “This new research from America confirms that at very, very low concentrations neonicotinoid chemicals can make a honeybee vulnerable to fatal disease. If these pesticides are causing large numbers of honeybees, bumblebees, solitary bees, hoverflies and moths to get sick and die from diseases they would otherwise have survived, then neonicotinoid chemicals could be the main cause of both colony collapse disorder and the loss of wild pollinator populations.

“The weight of evidence against neonicotinoids is becoming irresistible – Government should act now to ban the risky uses of these toxins.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Olbermann Departs, as Media Consolidate Further

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01/22/2011 by Juan Cole Informed Comment

People are blaming the abrupt departure of Keith Olbermann from MSNBC on that company’s merger with Comcast and Olbermann’s loss of the protection and patronage of Jeff Zucker, the former head of NBC programming. MSNBC says that the issue has nothing to do with Comcast.

It seems Olbermann is too extreme for US television. But Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity, now they are mainstream. What universe could that proposition be true in? That of cranky old white billionaires. And television news is owned by them. Not by you.

Whether Comcast is the villain of the piece directly, things like the Comcast merger with MSNBC are responsible for there being very few voices on American television (and despite the proliferation of channels) like Olbermann’s. And for there being relatively little news on the “news” programs. Time Warner, General Electric and Comcast (partners in NBC), Viacom, Disney, and Rupert Murdoch’s Newscorp own almost all television news. In other words, six big corporations determine what you will hear about the world if you get your news from television. There are fewer and fewer t.v. news outlets that do not belong to one of these six, a process called media consolidation.

For reasons of profit-seeking, when Disney acquired ABC, it looted the company’s news divisions. Profits are not to be had in hard news, but rather in tabloid news. It used to be that human interest stories would be ‘dessert,’ but they have become the main meal.

Ironically,former NBC anchor Tom Brokaw was one of Olbermann’s biggest critics, afraid that the latter’s flamboyant and polarizing style would tarnish the reputation of regular NBC newsmen for objectivity.

What Brokaw seems not to have noticed is that NBC and MSNBC did, like most television news, a miserable job of covering the Iraq issue in 2002-2003–mainly buying White House propaganda. The powerful bias toward the point of view of the rich and powerful and well-connected in Washington demonstrated by all the major tv news outlets in 2002-2003 makes Olbermann look like a staid centrist.

Senator Al Franken, a former NBC employee, fulminated against the Comcast/ MSNBC merger:

But the FCC has passed it.

We’ll miss Keith. But it isn’t about him. It is about the ever-narrowing character of public comment in the US, about the few having most of everything. It is about media consolidation.

See also:

Who Owns The Media? The 6 Monolithic Corporations That Control Almost Everything We Watch, Hear And Read

And:

Why I’m glad Keith Olbermann is gone

By Niall Stanage:    “The smugness, the narcissism, the never-ending parade of yes-man guests: Goodnight and good riddance!”

Written by laudyms

January 23, 2011 at 9:26 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Ron Paul & Ralph Nader: A Libertarian-Progressive Alliance?

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01/19/2011

Ron Paul and Ralph Nader joined Judge Andrew Napolitano on Freedom Watch to discuss the possibility of fighting the establishment through a libertarian-progressive alliance.