Newly published scientific evidence is bolstering calls for greater regulation of some of the world’s most widely used pesticides and genetically modified crops.
Earlier this year, three independent studies linked agricultural insecticides to colony collapse disorder, a phenomenon that leads honeybees to abandon their hives.
Beekeepers have reported alarming losses in their hives over the last six years. The USDA reports the loss in the United States was about 30 percent in the winter of 2010-2011.
Bees are crucial pollinators in the ecosystem. Their loss also impacts the estimated $15 billion worth of fruit and vegetable crops that are pollinated by bees in the United States.
The studies, conducted in the United States, France, and the United Kingdom, all pointed to neonicotinoids, a class of chemicals used widely in U.S. corn production, as likely contributors to colony collapse disorder. The findings challenged the EPA’s position – based on studies by Bayer CropScience, a major producer of the neonicotinoid clothianidin – that bees are only exposed to small, benign amounts of these insecticides.
The new studies found that bees are exposed to potentially lethal amounts of neonicotinoids in pollen and in dust churned up by farm equipment. They also found that exposure to neonicotinoids can reduce the number of queen bees and disorient worker bees.
An alliance of beekeepers and environmental groups filed a petition on March 21 asking the EPA to block the use of clothianidin in agricultural fields until the EPA conducts a sound scientific review of the chemicals.
Meanwhile, farm chemicals and the biotech industry have come under fire for the problem of pest resistance. Some weeds and bugs have become less susceptible or immune to the chemicals or biotechnology used to control them.
In March, national experts on corn pests published a letter to the EPA describing how rapidly rootworms are becoming resistant to the larvae-killing gene in Monsanto’s genetically engineered “Bt” corn. The letter warns that the EPA should move to regulate Bt corn – by requiring, for example, non-GM buffer zones – with “some sense of urgency.”
In a similarly alarming trend, Monsanto’s “Roundup Ready” soy and corn, which are genetically modified to tolerate the active ingredient in Roundup, are associated with the creation of “super weeds.” The widespread use of these crops has led farmers to vastly increased use of the herbicide, leading to the development of resistant weeds.
The agriculture industry has responded to Roundup’s failure by developing new crop varieties resistant to another pesticide/herbicide, 2,4-D. An ingredient of Agent Orange, 2,4-D is linked to birth defects, hormone disruption, and cancer. Last December, Dow AgroSciences LLC asked the U.S. Department of Agriculture to approve the new varieties for cultivation.
In response, the Pesticide Action Network, Union of Concerned Scientists, Center for Food Safety, and Food and Water Watch are gathering public comments for a petition to the USDA against Dow AgroSciences’ request.
ALEC Slips Exxon Fracking Loopholes into New Ohio Law
By Connor Gibson
Wake up and smell the frack fluid. But don’t ask what’s in it, at least not in Ohio, cause it’s still not your right to know.
Ohio is in the final stages of making an Exxon trojan horse on hydrofracking into state law, and it appears that the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) connected Exxon’s lawyers with co-sponsors of Ohio Senate Bill 315: at least 33 of the 45 Ohio legislators who co-sponsored SB 315 are ALEC members, and language from portions of the state Senate bill is similar to ALEC’s “Disclosure of Hydraulic Fracturing Fluid Composition Act.”
…disclosure of fracking fluids? On behalf of ExxonMobil?
Frack fluids include unknown chemicals that gas drillers mix with sand and large amounts of water. The mixture is pumped underground at high pressure in order to retrieve gas and oil by fracturing shale formations. These are the chemicals that have caused widespread concern among residents near gas fracking operations; concerns echoed by doctors who don’t know how to treat patients harmed by exposure to chemicals that oil companies keep secret. Oil companies like XTO Energy, a subsidiary of ExxonMobil, the first company lined up to drill in Ohio’s Utica shale.
Concern over unconventional energy like gas fracking may be the reason by Ohio SB 315 also addresses clean energy standards and drilling regulations. While the new law will allow doctors to obtain disclosure of fracking chemicals, it places a gag order on them…meaning some chemicals aren’t disclosed to the public at all (Cleveland Plain Dealer). Instead, chemicals that subsidiaries of Big Oil use during fracking can remain exempt from public disclosure as “trade secrets,” mirroring language of ALEC’s model law.
What’s most suspicious is that seven of the ten Ohio Senators co-sponsoring SB 315 are ALEC members, as are 26 of the 35 co-sponsoring Representatives.*
Among the co-sponsors are Ohio Senate President Tom Niehaus and state Senator Troy Balderson. Senators Niehaus and Balderson are members of ALEC’s Energy, Environment and Agriculture task force, which approved the fracking “disclosure” bill internally sponsored by ExxonMobil, modeled after a Texas bill (see New York Times and ProPublica).**
Four of the co-sponsors of SB 315 attended ALEC’s meeting in Scottsdale, Ariz., although it is unclear which (if any) of them may have been inside the EEA task force meeting the day that the fracking chemical loophole bill was discussed and approved:***
- Rep. Cheryl Grossman
- Rep. Casey Kozlowski
- Rep. Louis Terhar
- Rep. Andrew Thompson
Some co-sponsors became ALEC members in the lead up to ALEC’s late 2011 meeting in Scottsdale, where the fracking disclosure loophole model bill was finalized by ALEC’s Energy, Environmental and Agriculture task force. Emails between representatives of ALEC, an Ohio state legislative aid and Time Warner Cable’s Ed Kozelek show that last-minute recruitment of new ALEC members before the Scottsdale meeting brought in three state legislators who ended out co-sponsoring SB 315 (PDF pp. 71-76): Rep. Lou Terhar, Rep. Brian Hill and Sen. Bob Peterson (who was appointed to the Ohio Senate in 2012).
The notorious hacker collective Anonymous is claiming responsibility for sporadic service failures around the world at Facebook on Thursday evening.
“Some users briefly experienced issues loading the site,” Facebook says in an e-mail statement about the outage. “The issues have since been resolved and everyone should now have access to Facebook. We apologize for any inconvenience.”
However, problems appeared to be lingering Friday morning. When I tried to access my Facebook account around 8 a.m. Eastern time, I could not access the website. The problem lasted about five minutes. When the site did come back online, I had to reenter my username and password to access it.
A website that tracks outages, downforeveryoneorjustme.com, reported Facebook down early Friday morning but service returned between 9 a.m. and 9:40 a.m. Eastern time. According to just-ping.com, packets were being lost Friday morning at Facebook locations in Stockholm, Shanghai, Copenhagen, Oslo, and Lisbon; checkpoints were unavailable in San Francisco and Moscow; and an unknown host message was generated in Beijing.
During the service disruptions Thursday, a tweet was posted to the YourAnonNews Twitter account suggesting the group may be behind the Facebook disruptions. “Oh yeah… RIP Facebook a new sound of tango down bitches,” the tweet said.
While acknowledging the service disruptions, Facebook has been mum on any role Anonymous may have had in the failures.
In March, Facebook experienced a number of outages in Europe. Those outages were attributed to DDoS attacks — a common tactic used by hacktivists — by Belgium’s Cyber Emergency Response Team (CERT). Facebook did not acknowledge any connection between the outages and Anonymous at the time.
Anonymous has threatened to bring down Facebook in the past. In August 2011, the erratic group threatened to “kill Facebook” on November 5. As that date approached, however, it shelved its plans for that attack.
U.S. President Barack Obama ordered the Stuxnet cyberattacks on Iran in an effort to slow the country’s development of a nuclear program, according to a report in The New York Times.
The Times, quoting anonymous sources, reported that, in the early days of his presidency, Obama accelerated attacks related to an effort begun by the George W. Bush administration. The Stuxnet worm, long rumored to have been developed by Israel or the U.S., escaped from Iranian computers in mid-2010 and compromised computers across the Internet.
Obama considered shutting down the cyberattacks after Stuxnet began compromising other computers, but decided to continue with the program, according to the Times. The Stuxnet worm came from a joint U.S. and Israeli effort to target the Iranian nuclear program, the Times said. The newspaper interviewed U.S., Israeli, and European officials currently and formerly involved with the cyberattack program, it said.
Two-Year-Old Mystery Worm
Stuxnet was discovered in July 2010, when a Belarus-based security company detected the worm on computers belonging to an Iranian client. The consensus of security experts at the time was that Stuxnet was built by a sophisticated attacker, likely a nation state, and was designed to destroy something big, such as an Iran’s Bushehr nuclear reactor. Security experts examining the worm when it was first discovered said that it placed its own code into systems installed with Siemens software, after detecting a certain type of Programmable Logic Controller (PLC) device.
A White House spokesman declined to comment on The New York Times story.
Obama raised concerns that the Stuxnet program, code-named Olympic Games, would embolden other countries, terrorists and hackers to use similar attacks, but concluded that the U.S. had no other options available against Iran, the Times story said.
The goal of the attacks was to gain access to the industrial computer controls in Iran’s Natanz nuclear plant, the story said. The U.S. National Security Agency and a secret Israeli cyberunit developed the Stuxnet worm, the story said.
Predictable — But Risky
The report that the U.S. and Israel were behind the Stuxnet attack didn’t surprise Snorre Fagerland, senior virus analyst with Norman, an IT security vendor in Lysaker, Norway. The Stuxnet worm was “orders of magnitude” more complex and sophisticated than previous cyberattacks, he said, and the creation of the malware would have needed significant resources.
It would have taken a team of 10 to 20 people to write Stuxnet, Fagerland said.
The report of U.S. involvement may lead to an increase in cyberattacks, with other countries stepping up their offensive cybercapabilities, Fagerland said. “It raises the stakes,” he said. “That will cause others to think, ‘They’re doing it, so why shouldn’t we?’”
While several other countries may have offensive cybercapabilities, they appear to be “less organized” than the team that put together Stuxnet, he added.
Grant Gross covers technology and telecom policy in the U.S. government for The IDG News Service. Follow Grant on Twitter at GrantGross. Grant’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article originally posted on PCWorld.com at 7 a.m. Pacific Time June 1.
By Loek Essers, IDG-News-Service:Amsterdam-Bureau
While some online services are stepping up their efforts to protect private user data from government requests, there is plenty room for improvement, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) said on Thursday. It is time for all companies that hold private user data to make public commitments to defend their users against government overreach, the foundation said.
The EFF measured the commitment of 18 U.S. companies hosting users’ personal data, including Amazon, Facebook, and Microsoft, to protect that data from U.S. government requests. It examined their privacy policies, terms of service, published law enforcement guides if available, and the track record of companies defending user privacy in courts.
The companies were awarded stars and half stars in four categories. The EFF investigated whether users were informed about government data demands, determined whether the companies were transparent about government data requests, whether they were willing to fight for user privacy in courts, and whether the companies were fighting to protect user privacy in the U.S. Congress.
The EFF said it was pleased that Facebook, Dropbox, and Twitter have stepped up their game since last year, when it published its first report on the topic. Twitter was awarded an extra star because it started fighting for user privacy rights in Congress, and showed more effort to fight for users rights in courts, EFF data showed. The microblog service now has 3.5 stars.
Facebook gained half a star for being more transparent about government requests, bringing its total up to 1.5 stars and Dropbox gained two stars for becoming transparent about government requests and telling users about data demands, bringing its total to three out of four stars.
Sonic.net, an ISP based in California, is the first company to receive a full gold star in each category, the EFF said.
Google maintained its position with two whole and two half stars.
Apple, Microsoft, and AT&T still have one star, for fighting for user privacy in Congress, while Comcast picked up its first star for protecting its users’ privacy in the courts, according to the EFF data.
Verizon, Myspace, and Skype failed to score a star in any of the categories.
“The overall poor showing of AT&T, Verizon and Comcast, who provide Internet connectivity to so many people, is especially troubling,” the foundation said.
The EFF added five new companies to the list this year including location based services Foursquare and Loopt. Foursquare was awarded zero stars and Loopt got one for defending privacy in Congress. “We’re hopeful that next year we’ll see more protections for users from location services providers like Loopt and Foursquare, since location information is so sensitive and increasingly sought by the government,” the EFF said.
By publishing the report, the EFF hopes to stimulate companies to improve transparency about what data flows to the government and to encourage the companies to stand for user privacy when it is possible to do so, the foundation said.
Loek covers all things tech for the IDG News Service. Follow him on Twitter at @loekessers or email tips and comments to email@example.com.
Your seemingly private information is a public commodity, subject to the dictates of the security state and market opportunists.
You need to know one simple truth: you have no privacy with regard to your electronic communications.
Nothing you do online, via a wireline telephone or over a wireless device is outside the reach of government security agencies and private corporations. Your ostensible personal communication — whether a phone call, an email, a search, visiting a website, a credit card purchase, a 140 character Tweet, a movie download or a Facebook friending — is a public commodity, subject to the dictates of the security state and market opportunists.
Corporate surveillance has begun to raise consumer, Congressional and regulatory concerns – a major case, Amnesty v. Clapper, is now before the Supreme Court. One can only wonder why it is not an issue in this year’s election?
Corporate spying takes a variety of forms. GPS tracking over a wireless device is widespread. Google’s efforts to commercialize its users’ keystrokes resulted in a $25,000 fine from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Potentially more consequential, a growing chorus of criticism over its recently introduced data-harvesting program seems to have contributed to a Federal Trade Commission (FTC) investigation of Google; the FTC retained Beth Wilkinson, a high-powered outside counsel, to oversee a possible anti-trust prosecution of the company. On March 1st, Google introduced a new program that collects user data from its 60 services. Google stores “cookies” (i.e., code that compiles a record of an individual’s web browsing history) on a growing number of communications devices, whether a home PC, tablet, smartphone and a growing number of TV sets. These cookies track every website a person visits or function s/he uses. As the New York Times wrote, “The case has the potential to be the biggest showdown between regulators and Silicon Valley since the government took on Microsoft 14 years ago.”
The surveillance state is a multi-headed hydra. Corporate spying is intimately linked to the surveillance state, an omnipresent system consisting of federal, state and local security agencies. This spying system is made up of many of the leading private telecommunications and Internet companies working closely with the Department of Justice (DoJ), NSA, FBI, DHS, FCC and still other entities. This increasingly integrated federal system is complemented by an ever-growing army of state and local police “intelligence” agencies. Individual entities work either on their own, together with others and/or with private companies, many that financially benefit from commercial data harvesting.
Jon Michaels, a law professor at UCLA, warned in an invaluable 2008 study: “[P]articipating corporations have been instrumental in enabling U.S. intelligence officials to conduct domestic surveillance and intelligence activities outside of the congressionally imposed framework of court orders and subpoenas, and also outside of the ambit of inter-branch oversight.” His warning rings louder in 2012.
All the President’s Spies: Private-Public Intelligence Partnerships in the War on Terror
The attacks of 9/11 provided the rationale for the institutionalization of the security state. Now, a decade later, the U.S. is in a perpetual state of war, fighting threats both foreign and domestic, thus providing the ongoing rationale for expanding surveillance.
The principle vehicle for this policing action is the National Security Letter (NSL), an administrative demand letter or subpoena requiring neither probable cause nor judicial oversight. In effect, an NSL overrides 4th Amendment guarantees safeguarding an American’s right from unreasonable search and seizure. Between 2000 and 2010 (excluding 2001 and 2002 for which no records are available), the FBI was issued 273,122 NSLs; in 2010, 24,287 letters were issued pertaining to 14,000 U.S. residents. (Nicholas Merrill received an NSL; his experience should be a warning to us all.)
Even more alarming, if a company, journalist, person or attorney receives an NSL, they are barred from informing anyone, including the press, about the order. And the NSL is but one of an expanding number of means employed by the surveillance state to spy on an ever-growing, in effect unknowable, number of Americans.
The policies of today’s security state were instituted by a Republican, George W. Bush, and continued with even-greater vigilance by a Democrat, Barack Obama. Whoever wins in November will, if the economic suffering persists and austerity further imposed, the security state will be extended, particularly to spy on alleged domestic “threats.”
* * *
21st century surveillance is a multi-headed hydra united by a string of 0s and 1s.
Some of this spying is banal. Two U.S. malls — Promenade Temecula in southern California and Short Pump Town Center in Richmond, VA – are tracking guests’ movements by monitoring the signals from their cell phones. Using a FootPath Technology’s application, the malls capture a guest’s phone’s unique identification number and follow a shopper’s path from store to store.
Some of this spying is sci-fi. According to a CNET report, the FBI has used an innovative means of electronic surveillance in criminal investigations. It remotely activates a mobile phone’s microphone and uses it to eavesdrop on a nearby conversation. The technique is known as a “roving bug” and was approved for use by top DoJ officials in a New York organized crime case.
And some of this spying is good-old business as usual. The ACLU uncovered a lucrative scheme involving the security state outsourcing data gathering to the major telecommunications companies. The documents provides detailed information on the practices of Alltel, AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, Sprint/Nextel, Microsoft/Skype, Vonage, U.S. Wireless, Comcast, Embarq and Cricket.
The major telcos charge hundreds of dollars per wireline telephone wiretap and charge extra for the tracking of voicemail, text messages, GPS locations and other services. Profiles of some of these activities and the fees charged follow:
- AT&T – charges a $325 per wiretap activation fee, plus $5 per day for data and $10 for audio; it gets $150 for access to a target’s voicemail; it charges $75 per “tower dump” (these allow police to see the numbers of every user accessing a certain cell tower and charges are on a per hour basis, with a minimum of two hours); location tracking costs $100 to activate and then $25 a day.
- Verizon — charges a $50 administrative fee plus $700 per month, per wiretap, per target; it charges $50 for access to text messages; it charges between $30 and $60 per hour for each cell tower dump; it doesn’t charge police in “emergency cases, nor do we charge law enforcement for historical location information in non-emergency cases.” The company insists that it doesn’t “make a profit from any of the data requests from law enforcement.”
- T-Mobile – charges law enforcement a flat fee of $500 per target per wiretap; it charges $150 per cell tower dump per hour; and charges a much pricier $100 per day for location tracking.
- Sprint/Nextel – charges $400 per wiretap per “market area” and per “technology” as well as a $10 per day fee, capped at $2,000; it also charges $120 for pictures or video, $60 for email, $60 for voice mail and $30 for text messages; it also charges $50 per tower dump and $30 per month per target for location tracking. The company says it doesn’t charge law enforcement for data requests in “exigent circumstances.” It adds: “Fees are charged to law enforcement in other circumstances such as court ordered requests and it’s important to note that any fee charged is for recovery of cost required to support these law enforcement requests 24/7.”
Equally revealing, the ACLU uncovered a DoJ chart detailing how long wireless companies retain personal data. Some of what it details follows:
- AT&T — keeps data indefinitely per cell towers used by a phone call; text messages are kept for 5 to 7 years, although it claims no to retain the text message content; and ISP session and destination info is only retained per non-public ISPs for 72 hours and not retained if a public ISP is used.
- Verizon — stores cell-site data for “1 rolling year”; holds onto text message detail for “1 rolling year” and actual text content for 3 to 5 days; it keeps ISP session information for 1 year but ISP browsing destination history information for 90 days.
- T-Mobile — does not retain the message content, but hangs onto your text details for “pre-paid: 2 years; post-paid: 5 years”; it does not keep ISP browsing destination history information.
- Sprint/Nextel — keep cell-site data for 18 to 24 months and stores ISP addresses and browsing history for 60 days.
- Virgin Mobile (owned by Sprint) — keeps text detail for “60 to 90 days” and the text message content for 90 days; it claims that a search warrant is required with “text of text” request”; it does not keep ISP browsing destination history information.
Christopher Soghoian, a leading Internet security scholar, provides an invaluable overview of this situation in a recent talk he gave at TED X.
* * *
The ACLU, through Freedom of Information requests, secured documents revealing that more than 200 police departments around the country have been engaged in (often warrantless) surveillance activities. Local and state police regularly track cell phone locations. Perhaps more disturbing, local police brass often instructs their officers to not discuss cell-tracking technology with the public.
As the ACLU reminds all Americans: “Traditionally, the government should have to obtain a warrant based upon probable cause before tracking cell phones. That is what is necessary to protect Americans’ privacy, and it is also what is required under the Constitution.” Those days are quickly slipping away.
A sampling of how state and local police employ surveillance tools is revealing.
- Arizona – localities have acquired cell surveillance tracking equipment to avoid the time and expense of working through the commercial carrier.
- California — state prosecutors advised local police departments on ways to get carriers to “clone” a phone and download text messages while it is turned off.
- Michigan – police are using “extraction devices” to download data from the cell phones of motorists that they pull over; extractions take place even if the motorists that are pulled over are not accused of doing anything wrong. In addition, a cell locator was used to find a stabbing victim who was in a basement hiding from his attacker.
- Nevada, North Carolina and other states — police departments have gotten wireless carriers to track cellphone signals back to cell towers as part of nonemergency investigations.
* * *
In 2004, Mark Klein, a recently retired AT&T technician, revealed that in 2003 the NSA built a secret room at the company’s San Francisco facility on Folsom Street. The facility’s purpose was to monitor and copy all phone calls, emails, web browsing and other Internet traffic to and from AT&T customers and provides the information to the NSA. This story exposed the deeply hidden secret about federal surveillance of ordinary Americans known as the warrantless wiretap.
The Patriot Act, a draconian, anti-terrorist piece of legislation hurriedly enacted on October 26, 2001, legitimized the use of warrantless surveillance by federal agencies on U.S. citizens who the government suspected of communicating with a hostile foreign national. The Act allows the FBI to obtain telecommunication, financial and credit records without a court order.
In the wake of the popular outrage over the revelations of AT&T-NSA spying, the Congress amended the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) in 2008 to retroactively grant U.S. companies immunity from being sued by their customers when they conduct warrantless wiretaps and provide the information to government agencies.
In a recent article in Wired, James Bamford described in detail the NSA’s new “Utah Data Center,” a massive complex that will serve as a global surveillance hub. In the article, Bamford cites a revelation from William Binney, a former NSA senior official and now a whistleblower, that the agency has intercepted “between 15 and 20 trillion” communications (or “transactions” in NSA-speak) over the last decade.
The federal government draws its authority to spy on citizen from a Prohibition-era Supreme Court decision, Olmstead vs. U.S. The Court found that federal wiretapping of the private telephone conversations of a bootlegger without a prior court warrant and the subsequently use of this information as evidence in court did not violate the defendant’s 4th or 5th Amendments protections.
The 1994 adoption of the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (CALEA) extended federal spying authority.
The Act requires telecommunications carriers to provide “back doors” so that law enforcement agencies and federal intelligence organizations can capture any domestic or international telephone conversations carried over their networks. In 2004, the FCC extended these provisions to apply to broadband networks. Thus, spying expanded from conventional telephone calls to Internet services (e.g., VoIP services like Vonage), peer-to-peer systems (e.g., Skype), caller-ID spoofing (i.e., false number posting) and phone-number portability.
The FBI began building its high-tech surveillance system, the Digital Collection System Network (DCSNet), in 1997. Documents obtained by the Electronic Freedom Foundation (EFF) reveal that DCSNet can execute near-instantaneous wiretaps on almost any telephone, cellphone and Internet communications device. It also connects FBI wiretapping facilities to switches controlled by wireline operators, VoIP companies and cellular providers.
DCSNet allows the FBI to monitor recorded phone calls and messages in real time, create master wiretap files, send digital recordings to translators, track the location of targets in real time using cell-tower information and stream intercepts to mobile surveillance vans. Sprint operates the system over a private, secure and self-contained backbone.
The FBI is now urging Internet companies not to oppose a new proposal that would further extend backdoor access to social-networking websites as well instant messaging and e-mail. It would apply spying requirements to Facebook, Twitter and Xbox Live, among many others. The new provisions would apply to encrypted VoIP software from European firms like the Lichtenstein-based Secfone, available on Android-OS devices.
* * *
The battle over what were once considered sacred Constitutional privacy provisions is heating up.
The Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) is making its way through Congress; House of Representatives passed it and the Senate is now considering it. Pres. Obama has come out in opposition, warning that he will veto it, insisting: “legislation should address core critical infrastructure vulnerabilities without sacrificing the fundamental values of privacy and civil liberties for our citizens.” As currently drafted, CISPA would undermine the Obama administration’s principal Internet proposal, Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights.
CISPA is conceived as supplanting all current privacy laws by ordering all telecoms, Internet service providers (ISPs) and applications companies to hand over all personal data to the NSA and other federal agencies. Civil liberties groups like the EFF warn that the proposed Act lacks meaningful due process or judicial oversight and will essentially end Constitutional protections against unreasonable electronic search and surveillance.
How this surveillance shell game plays out will likely depend on how the Supreme Court rules in Amnesty v. Clapper. The ACLU is representing a broad coalition of attorneys and human rights, labor, legal and media organizations to determine the limits to federal warrantless wiretapping under FISA.
In 2009, a New York judge dismissed the ACLU’s original suit on the grounds that its clients, including Amnesty International, couldn’t prove that their communications would be monitored under the new law. In 2011, a federal appeals court reversed the 2009 ruling and, in May 2012, the Obama administration asked the Supreme Court to re-impose the state’s right to warrantless wiretaps and other surveillance practices on the basis of national security.
It’s a flip-of-a-coin to prognosticate on how the Court will decide this case. Will it replay it sweeping, conservative Citizens United decision or will it follow the privacy protections extended in the recent Jones decision prohibited GPS tracking of an alleged drug dealer? Stay tuned.
Today’s spy-state recalls the World War I era “red scare,” marked by the roundup of immigrant anarchists and socialist and, in many cases, their deportation. Similarly, it resonates with the anti-communism of the post-World War II era, the age of J. Edgar Hoover, Joe McCarthy and Richard Nixon. Today’s politicians, both Democrat and Republican, know how to play the security card to appease popular fears during a period of profound economic restructuring.
Survival / Sustainability
The Other Side of Gainful Unemployment
Nation Of Change
By Shannon Hayes
“Today, I will do one thing at a time.”
These are the words I’ve been saying to myself each morning lately as I leap from my bed. I mindlessly repeat them while working through when to teach homeschool lessons to my daughters, which emails I need to respond to, when I’m going to make soap, how much beeswax I need to rinse and render, when we’re going to photograph and upload our newest farm products to the online shopping cart, which websites need to be updated, whether I’m needed or not at the farm this day or this week, what spices I need to order for sausage making, whether I’ll find time this day to get the weeds out of the raspberries, if I’ve got enough change for this Saturday’s farmers’ market, when I’m going to get to the dairy farm up the road to pick up butter for making pate to sell, what needs to happen to complete the start up of our new yarn business, which essays and articles need to be written, how I’m going to steer my newest book into publication by September, which photographs still need to get taken for the insert, which presentations need to get written for the fall speaking season, whether or not the blueberry bushes need fertilizing, when I’m going to find the time to take the girls into the woods to gather ramps.
In short, as soon as I utter that morning promise, I begin the daily process of failing to honor it as I work myself into a frenzied whirlwind of activity. My life is unusual in that nearly every item on my to-do list is something that I love. But rather than being in-the-moment to enjoy these myriad pleasures, my brain rattles me into a frenzied state, where I am constantly distracted by what else I want to accomplish. Thus, even the act of perpetually doing things I love can leave me cranky, impatient, and difficult to be around.
As I mentioned in an earlier post, Bob and I are creative people, unable to fathom a life where we would do one thing for a living. For the last decade, we have managed to carve out a livelihood for ourselves that matched our eclectic interests and our passion to produce beautiful things in harmony with the earth. We call it gainful unemployment. One of my most important contributions to this adventure has been my ability to perpetually come up with new ideas and business schemes, ensuring that the income stream for our radical homemaking household was always diversified, and thus more secure. For the sake of writing this piece this morning, I sat down for the first time and wrote a list of each of our enterprises. We had 16 different ventures.
That makes for a pretty respectable livelihood for two adults who have decided to stay home full-time with their kids. My trouble is that my most important gift in managing a life like this—my ability to envision and implement new ideas while juggling existing responsibilities—is also my greatest burden. I have a brain that doesn’t rest. I lead a life that honors the rhythms of Mother Nature, but the frenetic pace in my head impedes my soul from resonating with her vibrations.
Survival fishing techniques bank lines
by M.D. Creekmore (a.k.a Mr. Prepper)
This guest series is by Zach of fishingreports.com.
Bank lines are a form of fishing similar to trot lines. For those that do not know about trot lines, they are a way to fish without being present watching the pole. Below is a diagram of what a bank line usually looks like.
To make a bank line, all you need is some heavy fishing line (I recommend 100+ lb. test), swivels, and hooks. You will also need two anchors, one on land and another for the water. The water anchor can be a rock or branch, make sure the anchor isn’t too small or too large—you will need to throw it out as far as you can in order for this setup to work well. There are many custom things that can be done to a trotline, but at bare minimum you only need line, knot-making skills, swivels, and hooks.
This article is my favorite for making a simple trotline. If you have the time and live in an area where fishing would be important in a survivalist situation, I suggest making an emergency trotline ahead of time. They take up very little space and weigh next to nothing, but can be a fair amount of labor upfront to get it correctly setup.
You need to know about bank lines because they are efficient! People commonly drop off these fishing rigs in the morning and pick them up at night or the next day, thus you can be off getting other things done while the trotlines do the fishing for you. Keep in mind, however, that depending on the presentation, many trot lines and bank lines end up getting stolen by other anglers. This is why I suggest a bank line rather than a trot line—keep the rig low profile.
How to care for an infected wound
by M.D. Creekmore (a.k.a Mr. Prepper)
This guest post is by Denise H .
As citizens of TWAWKI, some of the hardest lessons we can learn is those to which we have limited exposure. To keep our families healthy and safe we have to be sure we can handle any crisis without the luxury of the “supports” we have at this present time. Our family has been displaced from our primary location and our primary medical provider for several months. It is necessary for us to call someone to stay, while we go receive regularly scheduled care. As a result, we have chosen to address much of our medical care by natural or homeopathic methods.
Our family has recently had several health challenges.
First, I had a sinus infection with associated ear aches. For the sinus infection, I used three toes of garlic crushed and consumed in 4 oz. of orange juice, 2 x a day for two days. For the ear ache, which came back two or three times… I did two things and both helped. I hummed for 60 min morning and night,( I learned this from a current show hosted by an M.D.) and second, I took a medium-sized toe of garlic peeled it, and cut off the root end. Placed it in my ear canal.(it felt cool) and l left it for an hour to an hour and a half.
Then, due to my having had a major gastric surgery, years ago, I am blessed with multiple gastric intolerances caused from enzyme imbalances. My symptoms range from gastric discomfort to intestinal twisting.(That requires a hospital!)..and to every thing in between. I will eat a food and it causes no problem, and the next time I partake, it leaves me deathly ill. At least, that’s how I was until I discovered the effects of a herb , everlasting, which causes my wild intestines to calm to a near normal routine. One ounce of the tea, every other day, made from the herb has stopped the effects of not having digestive enzymes in sufficient quantity for normal digestion.
Herbals are medicines and should be treated with due respect. Each person who uses them , should be able to know what they are using and what kind of desired effect they will produce. So, if you have gastric distresses, intolerances, enzyme imbalances, this might be one that you would desire to research.
Our family’s most recent challenge was a badly infected wound on my dh’s right foot– an injury he dismissed as nothing until, it swelled up several days later. Upon reflection, he remembered pulling out some dried sticks that had gotten caught in his sandals a little over a week earlier. He’d had little bleeding and did not realize he needed to be concerned.
I have chosen to make this as descriptive as possible with the goal of assisting anyone required to give wound care to gain a perspective on the difference in an infected wound and an inflamed one. Wounds heal in stages and one must be able to tell when the wound has progressed to the next level, requiring a change in care.
What we did worked, for we had the privilege of going to dh’s attending physician on day 11 of the treatment. He declared it infection free, and had us continue antibiotic cream for three more days. Then, just keep the wound clean and dry. Post TEOTWAWKI, I don’t believe we will have that luxury.
Late one evening, my dh comes up and says, ” ‘Tater, check my foot!” So I have him put it up, and I start the evaluation.
On his left foot I find, an oval blister, on the inner aspect of his second toe that is still closed. This intact blister is even and uniform in color, it has no hardness under the toe. I can’t see any foreign material in it and the redness, approx circumference of an inch, is confined to the 2nd. toe.
BUT, On his right foot I find a very angry-looking 2nd and 3rd toe. They are swelled, so much he can’t bend them. There is redness on top of the foot, extending almost an inch from the base of the two toes. There is a hard lump at the base of the third toe. and there is a huge oval blister, approx 3/4′ tall, and extends the entire swelled depth of the toe…and about 3/4″ long. It is ringed with multiple colors including purple, yellow.
I cleaned it, it appeared to have some foreign material in it. Dh said “open it!”. So I got out a sculpture needle, sterilized it, and proceeded. There was about 1/2 tsp.of foreign material, some debri and thin,blood tinged exudate, removed with the opening. To further clean the wound, I prepared a hot soak with 3 gallons water, as warm as he could tolerate, 1/2 cup epsom salt and 2-Tablespoons,(30cc)6% bleach. We soaked it for 30 min., then dried his feet.
Upon checking the condition of the wound I determined that it was still dirty. There was still some dead material and old blood in the wound. I could not see pink tissue in the bottom of the wound and it was angry and inflamed. So I determined the wound needed debridement (removal of dead material) and I prepared a debriedment paste with… 2 tablespoons granulated sugar, one tablespoon of honey and 1 tablespoon of betadyne.. I packed the wound with this and secured a sterile 2×2.
The other wound (on his Left foot) I protected with a 2×2 and antibiotic ointment. The next morning and evening we soaked both feet,using a fresh solution of epsom salt and bleach.. each time,noticing an improvement with reduction of redness and associated swelling.Then, reapplied the debridement paste.
On day 3, after the long soak, the wound was pink inside. The debriedment was complete. The swelling was down to a level that allowed him to move his toes. The redness was reduced to the toes only and no longer to the top of the foot The wound was still angry and there was a persistent red, hard area at the base of that third toe.
Occupy Buffalo convinces city to withdraw $45 million from JPMorgan
By Eric W. Dolan
Buffalo City Comptroller Mark J.F. Schroeder announced on Thursday that the city would be pulling $45 million in funds from an account with JPMorgan Chase, following concerns raised by members of the Occupy Buffalo movement.
BuffaloNews.com reported that the Buffalo Sewer Authority funds will be deposited into a higher-yielding account with the local bank First Niagara. The new account will earn 0.30 percent interest. The account with JPMorgan had a 0.25 percent interest rate.
“Not only will the funds earn more interest with First Niagara, a major local employer headquartered in Buffalo, but it also sends a crystal clear message to JPMorgan Chase that the City of Buffalo is not happy with their business practices,” Schroeder said in a statement.
Members of the Occupy Buffalo movement and others had urged the Buffalo Common Council to withdrawal their funds from JPMorgan. The group of demonstrators have been critical of the major bank’s foreclosure practices.
“I commend the comptroller for seeking a solution to concerns raised by residents, while at the same time saving taxpayers’ money by doing business with a local bank,” said Council President Richard A. Fontana.
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