Colorado farms planning for dry spell losing auction bids for water to fracking projects
Front Range farmers bidding for water to grow crops through the coming hot summer and possible drought face new competition from oil and gas drillers. At Colorado’s premier auction for unallocated water this spring, companies that provide water for hydraulic fracturing at well sites were top bidders on supplies once claimed exclusively by farmers. The prospect of tussling with energy industry giants over water leaves some farmers and environmentalists uneasy.
SOPA changes name to CISPA
Uploaded by RTAmerica on Apr 3, 2012
The latest attempt by Congress to try to regulate and control the Internet is no longer known as SOPA but CISPA: the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act. The SOPA-like bill would give companies the power to collect information on their subscribers and hand it over to the government and all they have to do is request it. Kendall Burman, senior national security fellow for the Center for Democracy and Technology, joins Liz Wahl to talk about what this means for online freedoms.
Data Mining You
How the Intelligence Community Is Creating a New American World
By Tom Engelhardt
I was out of the country only nine days, hardly a blink in time, but time enough, as it happened, for another small, airless room to be added to the American national security labyrinth. On March 22nd, Attorney General Eric Holder and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, Jr. signed off on new guidelines allowing the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC), a post-9/11 creation, to hold on to information about Americans in no way known to be connected to terrorism — about you and me, that is — for up to five years. (Its previous outer limit was 180 days.) This, Clapper claimed, “will enable NCTC to accomplish its mission more practically and effectively.”
Joseph K., that icon of single-lettered anonymity from Franz Kafka’s novel The Trial, would undoubtedly have felt right at home in Clapper’s Washington. George Orwell would surely have had a few pungent words to say about those anodyne words “practically and effectively,” not to speak of “mission.”
For most Americans, though, it was just life as we’ve known it since September 11, 2001, since we scared ourselves to death and accepted that just about anything goes, as long as it supposedly involves protecting us from terrorists. Basic information or misinformation, possibly about you, is to be stored away for five years — or until some other attorney general and director of national intelligence think it’s even more practical and effective to keep you on file for 10 years, 20 years, or until death do us part — and it hardly made a ripple.
If Americans were to hoist a flag designed for this moment, it might read “Tread on Me” and use that classic illustration of the boa constrictor swallowing an elephant from Saint-Exupéry’s The Little Prince. That, at least, would catch something of the absurdity of what the National Security Complex has decided to swallow of our American world.
Oh, and in those nine days abroad, a new word surfaced on my horizon, one just eerie and ugly enough for our new reality: yottabyte. Thank National Security Agency (NSA) expert James Bamford for that. He wrote a piece for Wired magazine on a super-secret, $2 billion, one-million-square-foot data center the NSA is building in Bluffdale, Utah. Focused on data mining and code-breaking and five times the size of the U.S. Capitol, it is expected to house information beyond compare, “including the complete contents of private emails, cell phone calls, and Google searches, as well as all sorts of personal data trails — parking receipts, travel itineraries, bookstore purchases, and other digital ‘pocket litter.’”
The NSA, adds Bamford, “has established listening posts throughout the nation to collect and sift through billions of email messages and phone calls, whether they originate within the country or overseas. It has created a supercomputer of almost unimaginable speed to look for patterns and unscramble codes. Finally, the agency has begun building a place to store all the trillions of words and thoughts and whispers captured in its electronic net.”
Which brings us to yottabyte — which is, Bamford assures us, equivalant to septillion bytes, a number “so large that no one has yet coined a term for the next higher magnitude.” The Utah center will be capable of storing a yottabyte or more of information (on your tax dollar).
Large as it is, that mega-project in Utah is just one of many sprouting like mushrooms in the sunless forest of the U.S. intelligence world. In cost, for example, it barely tops the $1.7 billion headquarters complex in Virginia that the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, with an estimated annual black budget of at least $5 billion, built for its 16,000 employees. Opened in 2011, it’s the third-largest federal building in the Washington area. (And I’ll bet you didn’t even know that your tax dollars paid for such an agency, no less its gleaming new headquarters.) Or what about the 33 post-9/11 building complexes for top-secret intelligence work that were under construction or had already been built when Washington Post reporters Dana Priest and William Arkin wrote their “Top Secret America” series back in 2010?
In these last years, while so many Americans were foreclosed upon or had their homes go “underwater” and the construction industry went to hell, the intelligence housing bubble just continued to grow. And there’s no sign that any of this seems abidingly strange to most Americans.
Teacher’s aide fired for refusing to hand over Facebook password
Kimberly Hester, a grade school teacher’s aide in Michigan, was fired for refusing to hand over her Facebook password to her supervisors. Hester posted a picture of a co-workers’ shoes and pants bunched around her ankles on Facebook in April 2011 with the caption, “Thinking of you.” She posted the picture in jest, but a parent [nutjob] who’s on her Facebook friend list saw the image and reported it to Frank Squires Elementary where Hester was employed, prompting the investigation. Teachers have gotten in trouble for Facebook status messages before, but in Hester’s case, it’s her refusal to hand over her password that actually got her fired.
Camera that can ‘see’ radiation will assess danger levels at stricken Fukushima nuclear reactor
‘Super-wide Angle Compton Camera’ developed for X-ray observation satellite, ASTRO-H
Scan comes as radiation detected 370 miles from plant
By Ted Thornhill
There are still dangerously high radiation levels at Japan’s crippled Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear reactor – but now the plant’s owner is able to see the normally invisible threat.
The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) has created a prototype ‘Super-wide Angle Compton Camera’ capable of creating images of gamma ray-emitting radioactive particles.
This equipment is based on the gamma ray-observing sensor technology to be added to the agency’s next X-ray observation satellite, ASTRO-H.
It is expected to be able to create visual images of radioactive particles that have collected at high altitudes such as building roofs where it is difficult to conduct measurements with existing equipment.
It can also detect particles that have widely dispersed on the ground and residential houses.
Last month JAXA, the Japan Atomic Energy Agency and the plant’s owner, the Tokyo Electric Power Company conducted a successful field test of the camera at the Kusano area of Iitate village in Fukushima Prefecture.
US Mercenary “Took Part” in Gaddafi Killing; Sent to Assist Syrian opposition
By: Yazan al-Saadi
US government officials requested that an American private security firm contact Syrian opposition figures in Turkey to see “how they can help in regime change,” the CEO of one of these firms told Stratfor in a company email obtained by WikiLeaks and Al-Akhbar.
James F. Smith, former director of Blackwater, is currently the Chief Executive of SCG International, a private security firm with experience in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya. In what appears to be his first email to Stratfor, Smith stated that his “background is CIA” and his company is comprised of “former DOD [Department of Defense], CIA and former law enforcement personnel.”
“We provide services for those same groups in the form of training, security and information collection,” he explained to Stratfor. (doc-id 5441475)
In a 13 December 2011 email to Stratfor’s VP for counter-terrorism Fred Burton, which Burton shared with Stratfor’s briefers, Smith claimed that “[he] and Walid Phares were getting air cover from Congresswoman [Sue] Myrick to engage Syrian opposition in Turkey (non-MB and non-Qatari) on a fact finding mission for Congress.”
Walid Phares, named by the source as part of the “fact finding team,” is a Lebanese-American citizen and currently co-chairs Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s Middle East advisory group.
In a profile of Walid Phares published in Salon, As’ad AbuKhalil details Phares’ history with right-wing militias during the Lebanese civil war.
Sue Myrick, who allegedly was providing “air cover” for the “fact finding team”, is a Republican Congresswoman from North Carolina who has a track record of extremist pro-zionist and anti-Islamic views.
These include leading the charge against Dubai Ports World’s attempt to buy major American ports in 2006 – labeling the Islamic Society of North America as a group of “radical jihadists” – and demanding that former President Jimmy Carter’s citizenship be revoked for daring to meet with Hamas leaders in 2008.
Currently, Myrick is a member of the United States House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, a congressional committee charged with overseeing the American intelligence community, and is also involved with the Department of Defense and the US military.
In his email, the “true mission” for the “fact finding” team, Smith told Burton, was how “they can help in regime change.”……..
When Bankers Rule the World
How we can call out the myths, restructure the banking system, shut down the con game, and take back America.
by David Korten
The tell-all defection of Greg Smith, a former Goldman Sachs executive, provided an insider’s view of the moral corruption of the Wall Street banks that control of much of America’s economy and politics. Smith confirms what insightful observers have known for years: the business purpose of Wall Street bankers is to maximize their personal financial take without regard to the consequences for others.
Wall Street’s World of Illusion
Why has the public for so long tolerated Wall Street’s reckless abuses of power and accepted the resulting devastation? The answer lies in a cultural trance induced by deceptive language and misleading indicators backed by flawed economic theory and accounting sleight-of-hand. To shatter the trance we need to recognize that the deception that Wall Street promotes through its well-funded PR machine rests on three false premises.
We best fulfill our individual moral obligation to society by maximizing our personal financial gain.
Money is wealth and making money increases the wealth of the society.
Making money is the proper purpose of the individual enterprise and is the proper measure of prosperity and economic performance.
Wall Street aggressively promotes these fallacies as guiding moral principles. Their embrace by Wall Street insiders helps to explain how they are able to reward themselves with obscene bonuses for their successful use of deception, fraud, speculation, and usury to steal wealth they have had no part in creating and yet still believe, as Goldman CEO Lloyd Blankfein famously proclaimed, that they are “doing God’s work.”
The devastation created by Wall Street’s failure affirms three truths that are the foundation on which millions of people are at work building a New Economy:
Our individual and collective well-being depends on acting with concern for the well-being of others. We all do better when we look out for one another.
Money is not wealth. It is just numbers. Sacrificing the health and happiness of billions of people to grow numbers on computer hard drives to improve one’s score on the Forbes Magazine list of the world’s richest people is immoral. Managing a society’s economy to facilitate this immoral competition at the expense of people and nature is an act of collective insanity.
The proper purpose of the economy and the enterprises that comprise it is to provide good jobs and quality goods and services beneficial to the health and happiness of people, community and nature. A modest financial profit is essential to a firm’s viability, but is not its proper purpose.
The critical distinction between making money and creating wealth is the key to seeing through Wall Street’s illusions……
David Korten (livingeconomiesforum.org) is the author of Agenda for a New Economy, The Great Turning: From Empire to Earth Community, and the international best seller When Corporations Rule the World. He is board chair of YES! Magazine, co-chair of the New Economy Working Group, and a founding board member of the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies.
Eyes on the Prize: MLK’s Lessons for Occupy
At the time of his death, Martin Luther King, Jr. was planning a campaign around economic injustice—including a mass encampment of poor people in Washington, D.C.
by Valerie Schloredt
When he was assassinated in April, 1968, Martin Luther King, Jr. had just begun “The Poor People’s Campaign.” This focus on economic injustice, which included plans for a mass encampment of poor people in Washington, D.C., was remarkably similar to that of today’s Occupy movement. The connection is clear to present-day activists Kazu Haga and Jonathan Lewis, who are promoting King’s philosophy of nonviolence to Occupy groups, both for moral guidance and practical strategy.
Both studied “Kingian” nonviolence with Dr. Barnard Lafayette, a civil rights organizer and an associate of King’s in the 1960s. “Kingian nonviolence,” or nonviolence as it was defined by King, is the focus of a training program Lafayette developed with David Jehnsen to institutionalize King’s philosophy at all levels of society. The training’s pay-it-forward ethos encourages participants to spread the word by becoming Kingian nonviolence trainers themselves.
Lewis and Haga have been carrying their own training forward by teaching nonviolence strategies in jails, community groups, and to groups of at-risk youth. They were also involved with Occupy Oakland, where they organized Kingian nonviolence workshops in response to concerns over confrontations between police and protesters. Haga and Lewis spoke to YES! Magazine about the relevance of King’s nonviolence to embattled communities, and the Occupy movement.
Valerie Schloredt: Your work is based on the philosophy of Martin Luther King, Jr., and the civil rights movement. I can’t imagine any better legacy for movements in the United States. Sometimes it seems that King is praised, without a meaningful understanding of his beliefs.
Kingian nonviolence workshop, photo courtesy Kazu Haga
Kazu Haga at the Seattle Kingian nonviolence workshop. March 2012
Photo courtesy Kazu Haga
Kazu Haga: We do him, and ourselves, a disservice by not looking into that. Everything he said is so applicable today.
Jonathan Lewis: In his last speech, down in Memphis, he talks about taking your money out of the corporate banks, and into smaller banks.
Haga: We forget about how much of a radical he was. He called America “the greatest purveyor of violence in the world,” and he was calling for an encampment in Washington, D.C. to shut down the city. We forget all that.
Schloredt: It seems very appropriate to be talking about King’s nonviolence right now, when there is great concern over the police response to the case of Trayvon Martin. You work with young people in communities that don’t always get fair treatment by law enforcement. How do you relate King’s nonviolence to that sort of injustice?
Lewis: One thing that Dr. Lafayette tells us about the [civil rights] movement is that it was always about the future. The struggles, the sacrifices, the actions—they aren’t to benefit the present population as much as to prevent future populations from having to deal with the same type of suffering that we’re going through.
Society right now takes out aggression on people. Blaming the folks for their behavior, and whatever it is that’s happening in the world. In contrast, we try to put our compassion towards the people, and we put our aggression towards the conditions. It sounds corny. When I first got started, “keep your eyes on the prize” didn’t mean much to me. But it really is all about that.
Valerie Schloredt wrote this article for YES! Magazine, a national, nonprofit media organization that fuses powerful ideas with practical actions. Valerie is associate editor at YES!
Survival / Sustainability
Just In Time: When the Trucks Stop, America Will Stop (With Immediate and Catastrophic Consequences)
Most Americans take for granted the intricate systems that make it possible for us to engage in seemingly mundane day to day tasks like filling up our gas tanks, loading up our shopping carts at the local grocery store, obtaining necessary medications, and even pouring ourselves a clean glass of water. When we wake up each morning we just expect that all of these things will work today the same way they worked yesterday. Very few have considered the complexity involved in the underlying infrastructure that keeps goods, services and commerce in America flowing. Fewer still have ever spent the time to contemplate the fragility of these systems or the consequences on food, water, health care, the financial system, and the economy if they are interrupted.
A report prepared for legislators and business leaders by the American Trucking Associations highlights just how critical our just-in-time inventory and delivery systems are, and assesses the impact on the general population in the event of an emergency or incident of national significance that disrupts the truck transportation systems which are responsible for carrying some ten billion tons of commodities and supplies across the United States each year.
A shut down of truck operations as a result of elevated threat levels, terrorist attacks, or pandemics would, according to the report, have “a swift and devastating impact on the food, healthcare, transportation, waste removal, retail, manufacturing, and financial sectors.”
So too would events such as an EMP attack or a coordinated cyber-attack that could shut down global positioning systems and the computers responsible for inventory control. Another potential scenario that is more likely now than ever before is liquidity problems within the financial system stemming from currency crisis or hyperinflation. All of our just-in-time delivery systems are built upon the unhindered transfer of money and credit, but when credit flow becomes restricted or money becomes worthless, no one will be able to pay for their goods. Likewise, no one will trust the credit worthiness of anyone else. This is exactly the scenario playing out in Greece right now and the consequences on the health care industry in that country have left many without life saving drugs. When there’s no money, no one will be transporting anything.
The effects of a transportation shutdown for any reason would be immediate (in some cases, within hours) and absolutely catastrophic.
Excerpted from the American Truckers Associations report
Significant shortages will occur in as little as three days, especially for perishable items following a national emergency and a ban on truck traffic.
Consumer fear and panic will exacerbate shortages. News of a truck stoppage—whether on the local level, state or regional level, or nationwide—will spur hoarding and drastic increases in consumer purchases of essential goods. Shortages will materialize quickly and could lead to civil unrest. (We’re seeing this in the UK right now)
Rethinking Water: Greywater Guerrillas Workshop
Uploaded by RyanIsHungry on Mar 14, 2008
We had the privilege of attending a very hands on greywater workshop courtesy of The Greywater Guerrillas, a local Bay Area crew of experts who are passionate about teaching folks to use their water (twice) wisely. Greywater is water that has been used once in your home and only contains a little soap, dirt (from laundry or skin) or kitchen particles like food or grease. Unlike blackwater, which is water that has touched excrement, like toilet water, greywater is safe to use in watering your garden. As Laura Allen, co-editor of the book Dam Nation: Dispatches from the Water Underground, and our amazing instructor points out in this video: You don’t want to put the greywater onto the part of the plant that you’re going to eat…if you get the water going into the ground, there are no more health risks than would be [if you are] going out and eating dirt from your garden. So you want to get the greywater into the ground soaking down to irrigate the roots of your plants.
We were able to do just this in home owner Tara Hui’s backyard. We replaced her kitchen sink pipe with a 3 way valve giving her the choice to send her sink water back to the sewer or out to the greywater system of pipes and mulch basins surrounding four fruit trees. The system was relatively simple and inexpensive. Total price was $200 for all new pipes which included a $60 top of the line 3 way valve, a bunch of 2 way splitters and under a hundred feet of piping. If you live close to a salvage yard or are savvy on Freecycle or Craigslist you can get these materials for way cheaper or even free.
Laura touches on some of the legality of systems like this: California has a greywater code so greywater theoretically is legal…some states have no code so greywater is not legal. In California, you have the potential to do greywater…that said, the code that’s written down for greywater is very, very wasteful, it’s very bad, most people don’t follow it. In California most people have unpermitted systems which are…technically illegal, just as building anything unpermitted is technically illegal.
There are a few states, like Arizona, that encourage safe and resourceful greywater systems like the one we built here. So find out what your state allows before cutting into your pipes. But if you’re like these Californians and your state codes are no good, you’ll want to find some greywater experts to consult and keep in touch with to help change the codes for better.
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