December 31, 2009

Civil Liberties, Health Care, Food Policies

Breaking the Will of the People: the Real Purpose of Body Scanners

January 6, 2010 - The clamor to ramp up airport security with invasive naked body imaging scanners has nothing to do with ensuring the safety of travelers. Rather it is part of an ongoing incremental push to break the will of the people and encourage mass subservience and meek obedience.

Perhaps the most alarming aspect of the body scanner push is that people are willingly accepting it. As Bloomberg news reports today, “Passenger acceptance of airport body scanners has increased following the failed terrorist attack,” with 92% of passengers at Manchester airport in northern England now agreeing to pass through the machines in a voluntary trial, compared with 75 percent before the incident.

The same report indicates that around 90% of Muslims and Orthodox Jews were opting to use the scanners even prior to the Detroit incident rather than risking physical contact via pat downs and strip searches.

Travelers in Canada have indicated acceptance of the scanners, saying that they would “do anything for safety” and describing them as “a necessary evil.”

Meanwhile, nearly two-thirds of Germans favour airports using full-body scanners, despite claims that they are an invasion of personal privacy, a new poll has shown.

The will of the people is being systematically eroded and incrementally broken down. Airports are serving as reservations where the fundamental right to privacy must be left at the door...

Body Scans Force Public Trade-Off Between Privacy, Security

December 30, 2009

AP - As Ronak Ray hunted for his flight gate, he prepared for the prospect of a security guard peering through his clothes with a full body scanner. But Ray doesn't mind: what he gives up in privacy he gets back in security.
"I think it's necessary," said Ray, a 23-year-old graduate student who was at San Francisco International Airport to fly to India. "Our lives are far more important than how we're being searched."
Despite controversy surrounding the scans, Ray's position was typical of several travelers interviewed at various airports Wednesday by The Associated Press.

Airports in five other U.S. cities are also using full body scanners at specific checkpoints instead of metal detectors. In addition, the scanners are used at 13 other airports for random checks and so-called secondary screenings of passengers who set off detectors.

But many more air travelers may have to get used to the idea soon. The Transportation Security Administration has ordered 150 more full body scanners to be installed in airports throughout the country in early 2010, agency spokeswoman Suzanne Trevino said.

Dutch security officials have said they believe such scanners could have detected the explosive materials Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab of Nigeria is accused of trying to ignite aboard a Detroit-bound Northwest Airlines flight Christmas Day. Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport has 15 full body scanners, but none were used to scan Abdulmutallab when he boarded.

In Europe and the U.S., privacy concerns over the scanners' ability to see through clothing have kept them from widespread use.

The technology was first used about two years ago to make it easier for airport security to do body searches without making physical contact with passengers.

The idea of an electronic strip search did not bother Judy Yeager, 62, of Sarasota, Fla., as she prepared to depart Las Vegas. She stood in the full-body scanner Wednesday afternoon and held her arms up as a security official guided her through the gray closet-sized booth.

"If it's going to protect a whole airplane of people, who gives a flying you-know-what if they see my boob whatever," Yeager said. "That's the way I feel, honest to God."
George Hyde, of Birmingham, Ala., who was flying out of Salt Lake City with his wife, Patsy, on Wednesday after visiting their children and grandchildren in Park City, Utah.
"I'd rather be safe than be embarrassed," Hyde said. Neither he nor his wife had been through a body scanner before.

"We're very modest people but we'd be willing to go through that for security."
Trevino said the TSA has worked with privacy advocates and the scanners' manufacturers to develop software that blurs the faces and genital areas of passengers being scanned. In all cases, passengers are not required to be scanned by the machine but can opt for a full body pat-down instead.

At Salt Lake City International Airport, fewer than 1 percent of passengers subjected to the scanner chose the pat-down since the machine was installed in March, said Dwane Baird, a TSA spokesman in Salt Lake City. On Tuesday, some 1,900 people went through the scanner and just three chose not to, he said.

Critics of the scanners said the option to opt out was not enough.
"The question is should they be used indiscriminately on little children and grandmothers," said Republican U.S. Rep. Tom McClintock of California.
McClintock co-sponsored a bill approved by the House 310-118 in June prohibiting the use of full body scanners for primary screenings. The bill is pending in the Senate. He said the devices raised serious concerns regarding constitutional protections against unreasonable searches.
"There's no practical distinction between a full body scan and being pulled into a side room and being ordered to strip your clothing."
To further protect passenger privacy, security officers looking at the images are in a different part of the airport and are not allowed to take any recording devices into the room with them, Trevino said. The images captured by the scanners cannot be stored, transmitted or printed in any way.

But the TSA still has some public relations work ahead of it, judging by the reactions of passengers in Albuquerque, N.M., who were worried about what would happen to their images once they were scanned.
"Are they going to be recorded or do they just scan them and that's the end of them? How are these TSA people going to be using them? That's a real concern for me," said Courtney Best-Trujillo of Santa Fe, N.M., who was flying to Los Angeles on Wednesday.
The six airports where full body scanners are being used for what TSA calls "primary screenings" are: Albuquerque, N.M.; Las Vegas, Nev.; Miami, Fla.; San Francisco; Salt Lake City, Utah; and Tulsa, Okla.

The remainder of the machines are being used for secondary screenings in Atlanta, Ga.; Baltimore/Washington; Denver, Colo.; Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas; Indianapolis, Ind.; Jacksonville and Tampa, Fla.; Los Angeles; Phoenix, Ariz.; Raleigh-Durham, N.C.; Richmond, Va.; Ronald Reagan Washington National; and Detroit, Mich.

Though most passengers interviewed by The Associated Press felt security trumped other concerns, Bruna Martina, 48, a physician from the coast of Venezuela, said the scanners still made her feel uncomfortable.
"I think there has to be another way to control people, or to scan them, but not like this," she said as she headed back home after a vacation in Miami with her husband and two sons. She also does not think the scanners will thwart another attack.

"They'll find another way," Martina said. "There is always somebody cleverer than the rest."

Obama Gives INTERPOL Immunity to Operate at Will in the USA

December 28, 2009

Beaufort Observer - Last week, as the nation's attention was focused on the Senate's debate on health care reform, President Barack Obama signed an amendment to Executive Order 12425. It is only one paragraph long and few would pay much attention to what its effect is. But it has enormous implications.

Here's the background. Generally, foreign military and police organizations are restricted from operating in the United States without oversight by the CIA, FBI, Departments of Defense, State, Homeland Security or though some other arrangement that makes such operations subject to U. S. authority. In 1983, President Ronald Reagan signed Executive Order 12425 that allowed the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL) to operate in the United States but generally subject to the same laws that restrict CIA, FBI and other Federal, state and local law enforcement agencies. Specifically, INTERPOL agents were not immune from being prosecuted for violating American laws.

One of those laws is 42 U.S.C. § 1983, which prohibits law enforcement authorities from violating an American's constitutionally protected rights. Presumably, that does not apply to INTERPOL as a result of this Executive Order President Obama has just signed. The effect of Obama's amendment is to give them immunity from violating any American law.

Agents of INTERPOL will now presumably have the same protection that foreign diplomats have while in this country. It is that immunity that has been used by other countries to spy on the United States.

This arrangement, for example, now would make it possible for an American citizen being seized by INTERPOL agents and taken out of the country outside the reach of American courts and the rights they would enforce, most notably habeas corpus or the right for a judge to review a person's detention.

The extent to which INTERPOL would be exempt from American extradition laws now becomes questionable. Likewise, INTERPOL agents could seize property, including firearms, without search warrants and conduct other warrantless searches. They could break into homes and businesses to search and seize records without fear of prosecution, either criminally or civilly. In short, the powers that INTERPOL would have by being immune to U.S. law is virtually the same as martial law provides.

Moreover, INTERPOL's files and records are immune from U.S. court orders, including search warrants and civil subpoenas. And INTERPOL is protected from Freedom Of Information inquires from American media.

Many questions remain unanswered as a result of Obama's action. Some will contend that his order does not change the status quo because there are sufficient safe-guards extant in American law. But the order makes INTERPOL immune from prosecution under those laws so how efffective they would be against abuse by INTERPOL becomes a question.

So why would an American president grant such extensive powers to a foreign organization?

And foreign INTERPOL is. It is housed in Lyon, France and is governed by an Executive Committee elected by the 123 member nations though the General Assembly. But that group meets only once a year. The real power is exercised by thirteen members of the Executive Committee. It is headed by KHOO Boon Hui of Singapore. There is not an American on the Executive Committee.

As best we can determine President Obama's actions have not been reviewed by Congress and certainly have not been debated publically.

Here's one possible explanation for Obama's actions:

Maybe Glenn Beck will pick up on this. Our Elizabeth Sauls has already picked up on it. Click here to read Elizabeth's take on this.

Taypayer Handouts and Ripoffs

Cash for Caulkers Could Seal $12,000 a Home

Under President's proposal, homeowners would be reimbursed for energy-efficient appliances and insulation.

December 9, 2009 - President Obama proposed a new program Tuesday that would reimburse homeowners for energy-efficient appliances and insulation, part of a broader plan to stimulate the economy.

The administration didn't provide immediate details, but said it would work with Congress on crafting legislation. Steve Nadel, director at the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, who's advising on the bill, said a homeowner could receive up to $12,000 in rebates.

The proposal is part of the President's larger spending plan, which also includes money for small businesses, renewable energy manufacturing, and infrastructure.

We know energy efficiency "creates jobs, saves money for families, and reduces the pollution that threatens our environment," Obama said.

"With additional resources, in areas like advanced manufacturing of wind turbines and solar panels, for instance, we can help turn good ideas into good private-sector jobs."
The program contains two parts: money for homeowners for efficiency projects, and money for companies in the renewable energy and efficiency space.

The plan will likely create a new program where private contractors conduct home energy audits, buy the necessary gear and install it, according to a staffer on the Senate Energy Committee and Nadel at the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy.

Big-ticket items like air conditioners, heating systems, washing machines, refrigerators, windows and insulation would likely be covered, Nadel said.

Based on earlier bills, consumers might be eligible for a 50% rebate on both the price of the equipment and the installation, up to $12,000, said Nadel. So far, there is no income restriction on who is eligible. That would mean a household could spend as much as $24,000 on upgrades and get half back.

Homes that take full advantage of the program could see their energy bills drop as much as 20%, he said. The program is expected to cost in the $10 billion range.

It's not clear how the home efficiency plan would be administered - the government may issue rebates to consumers directly, homeowners might get a tax credit, or the program could be run via state agencies.

If consumers have to spend a lot of money up front to get the credit, it could throw a wrench in the works, David Kreutzer, an energy analyst at the Heritage Foundation, told CNN.
"This will not be something that's attractive to people who are having trouble already making their budget payments month to month or week to week," he said.
To keep consumers from having to spend thousands of dollars before getting reimbursed, Nadel said, one idea is to have contractors or big box retailers pay part of the cost up front...

Obama's new spending plan also calls for renewable energy companies to get additional support. That could come in the form of loan guarantees - basically, money the government uses to secure loans for startups.

In the original stimulus bill passed earlier this year, $6 billion was earmarked for such loan guarantees. But then lawmakers took away $2 billion to fund Cash for Clunkers - the popular program that paid people to turn in their old cars.

The $4 billion from the original bill has funded about $40 billion in loans, said the staffer on the Senate Energy Committee. Meanwhile, firms are hoping for another $4 billion in loan guarantees, since they have another $40 billion worth of projects that need funding.

A bill on energy efficiency reimbursements already has supporters in the Senate.
"Not only will [such legislation] increase our energy security and transform our energy infrastructure to a modern, clean and efficient one," Senate Energy Committee Chairman Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M., wrote in a recent op-ed column in the Hill, a Capitol Hill newspaper. "But it also will position the United States to lead in the development of clean energy technologies."

'Cash for Clunker' Appliances Program Launching Next Year

December 30, 2009

AP - Next year may be to appliance buyers what 2009 was to car buyers: time for government rebates.

Modeled after the popular Cash for Clunkers program, which was intended to get cars with low gas mileage off the road, a federal appliance rebate program is launching in early 2010. It offers a boost to people buying energy-efficient clothes washers, refrigerators and other appliances — those that qualify for the federal "Energy Star" designation — and to manufacturers, whose sales fell 10 percent in 2008 and another 12 percent through mid-December this year.

The program has only $300 million, one-tenth as much money as Cash for Clunkers, or about $1 per U.S resident, so it could run out fast. States are receiving roughly the same amount per capita, with California getting the most at $35.2 million, but what's eligible varies by state.

Here's what to keep in mind as you decide whether to swap your washer for that supposedly whisper-quiet model or your old white refrigerator for a shapely stainless-steel number.

WHAT'S MY STATE OFFERING? For state by state information, visit the federal Web site and click on "state appliance rebate program" on the right.

California residents, for example, can get cash back on three types of appliances: $100 for washing machines, $75 for refrigerators, and $50 for room air conditioners. Wisconsin offers rebates on washers and fridges plus $200 for boilers or furnaces, $75 for central air conditioning or geothermal heat pumps, $50 for freezers, and $25 for dishwashers.

(Also in effect through Dec. 31, 2010, is a federal tax credit for 30 percent of the cost up to $1,500 on equipment for a primary residence.)

HOW DO I KNOW IT'S A DEAL? Joe McGuire, president of the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers, said buying Energy Star appliances can mean hearty power savings. But it's important to make sure you save enough in water and energy bills over time to justify paying for a new unit.
"A good example is a 10-year-old clothes washer," he said. "With Energy Star, you could reduce utility costs by $145 a year and save 5,000 gallons of water a year."
At that rate, a typical $500 to $700 dishwasher would pay for itself in four years. In larger households that use more power and water for laundry, the payoff can come much sooner.

It's probably not worth replacing appliances less than five to seven years old just because rebates are available, unless you plan to upgrade to a far more efficient model. That's because newer appliances are already more efficient. But switching from a top-loading to front-loading clothes washer could in itself cut water use enough to make a purchase worthwhile.

The older the appliance, the greater the possibility of saving money by buying a new one. McGuire says a 20-year-old refrigerator uses three times as much power as Energy Star-approved units made today, some of which run on less than 60 watts.
"You would save over $250 a year on an average 20-year-old refrigerator if you replaced it," McGuire said. "That's about $1,200 over five years. That is real savings to consumers."
The Department of Energy estimates Americans saved more than $19 billion on utilities last year using Energy Star products.

WHEN WILL IT END? Rebates will be available until February 2012 or the money's gone. And Jen Stutsman, a spokeswoman for the Department of Energy, expects the funds to run out fast.

Federal Employees Routinely Make Six Figure Salaries

December 11, 2009

Average pay $30,000 over private sector

USA TODAY - The number of federal workers earning six-figure salaries has exploded during the recession, according to a USA TODAY analysis of federal salary data.

Federal employees making salaries of $100,000 or more jumped from 14% to 19% of civil servants during the recession's first 18 months — and that's before overtime pay and bonuses are counted.

Federal workers are enjoying an extraordinary boom time — in pay and hiring — during a recession that has cost 7.3 million jobs in the private sector.

The highest-paid federal employees are doing best of all on salary increases. Defense Department civilian employees earning $150,000 or more increased from 1,868 in December 2007 to 10,100 in June 2009, the most recent figure available.

When the recession started, the Transportation Department had only one person earning a salary of $170,000 or more. Eighteen months later, 1,690 employees had salaries above $170,000.

The trend to six-figure salaries is occurring throughout the federal government, in agencies big and small, high-tech and low-tech. The primary cause: substantial pay raises and new salary rules.
"There's no way to justify this to the American people. It's ridiculous," says Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, a first-term lawmaker who is on the House's federal workforce subcommittee.
Jessica Klement, government affairs director for the Federal Managers Association, says the federal workforce is highly paid because the government employs skilled people such as scientists, physicians and lawyers. She says federal employees make 26% less than private workers for comparable jobs.

USA TODAY analyzed the Office of Personnel Management's database that tracks salaries of more than 2 million federal workers. Excluded from OPM's data: the White House, Congress, the Postal Service, intelligence agencies and uniformed military personnel.

The growth in six-figure salaries has pushed the average federal worker's pay to $71,206, compared with $40,331 in the private sector.

Key reasons for the boom in six-figure salaries:
  • Pay hikes. Then-president Bush recommended — and Congress approved — across-the-board raises of 3% in January 2008 and 3.9% in January 2009. President Obama has recommended 2% pay raises in January 2010, the smallest since 1975. Most federal workers also get longevity pay hikes — called steps — that average 1.5% per year.

  • New pay system. Congress created a new National Security Personnel System for the Defense Department to reward merit, in addition to the across-the-board increases. The merit raises, which started in January 2008, were larger than expected and rewarded high-ranking employees. In October, Congress voted to end the new pay scale by 2012.

  • Pay caps eased. Many top civil servants are prohibited from making more than an agency's leader. But if Congress lifts the boss' salary, others get raises, too. When the Federal Aviation Administration chief's salary rose, nearly 1,700 employees' had their salaries lifted above $170,000, too.
"Freedom and initiative are being replaced by ever higher taxation, regulation and centralization of power in Washington. Our economy is now stagnant and our standard of living is declining. Each year government takes a bigger share of our earnings, employs more and more of our people, enacts more rules that strangle our economy, and controls more and more of our lives. In the enjoyment of plenty, have Americans lost the memory of freedom? When citizens are willing to sacrifice their liberty for security, they will have neither liberty nor security and will soon find themselves living under tyranny." - Ellen Sauerbrey, The Spark That Has Triggered Rebellion, American Thinker, September 13, 2009

"Fiscal spending is running wild, and our president predicts a budget deficit of $9 trillion dollars over the next ten years. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) says spending has to be cut 8% permanently over the next several years. In July alone, federal spending rose 26%, as revenues fell 6%. Corporate tax receipts fell 58%, as individual revenues fell 21%. The official economic contraction is the worst since the great depression. Can you imagine what it really is? 9.4% unemployment is front-page news, but you didn’t hear about the 4.7% loss in salaries and wages of 4.7% for the 12 months ended in June. There are more government employees now than all those employed in manufacturing and construction. How is it that state employees now make 40% more than the average income in non-governmental jobs? What a perversion of government. It is no wonder that the US poverty rate is higher than in Mexico and Turkey." - Bob Chapman,
Fairy Tales of Recovery, Reality of More Failures, The International Forecaster, September 3, 2009

"The real Obama agenda is to influence Americans in such a way that society becomes dependent on the government to care for them. For health care, this means, pass anything, knowing that once it has passed, the dependency and complacency of American citizens will ensure it cannot be reversed... Introducing horrendous legislation to increase American dependency not only feeds into liberal ideology, but also expands the liberal voting base. For example, millions of Americans currently rely on Medicare, Social Security, and other government handouts for health care and economic support... Now, instead of striving to become doctors or business leaders, many of our youth have come to rely on and expect the government to care for them. Not only do they hear liberal propaganda on the news and in the classroom, millions have now witnessed and experienced it in their own homes. Cash for Clunkers, extended unemployment, and government bailouts constantly reinforce to Americans that Uncle Sam will pick up the bill... President Obama knows that once health care is expanded, no legislator in the future will be able to reverse this reckless program. Americans will become too complacent to object and eventually dependency will set in. Even President Clinton recently declared that no bill needs to be perfect, it just needs to be passed. In other words, the goal is not good legislation; it is to foster American dependency forever at the expense of American Liberty and economic freedom... The examples of American dependency are becoming endless... Not only will America tax itself into economic poverty, but it will continue to foster dependency in the third world. Americans will become increasingly accustomed to government intervention until politicians control every aspect of your life... America continues to follow this same road to destruction. Despite being the leader in business innovation, economic prosperity, and health care, Americans are duped into accepting tyranny on a daily basis. - Paul Murdock, Where Has the Future Gone?, Campaign for Liberty, November 24, 2009

Those that have prospered from our economic demise have been the politburo-like corporate stockholders of our government officials. In addition, as Main Street plunges into despair, more and more federal bureaucrats are making six figures. In fact, it was recently revealed that the average federal employee now makes $30,000 more than private sector employees. Only in a communist system does the government class prosper while the rest of us wait in bread lines. Now these same bureaucrats are contemplating further bailouts for their corporate banking buddies. Since the initial Bush bailouts and their expansion under President Obama, have come some even more dire threats to our freedom. If we fail to rise to defeat these threats, I am afraid that we will see the pendulum become affixed permanently in the direction of dominion and slavery. - Adam Murdock, You Americans are so Gullible!,, December 13, 2009

RFID, GPS Technology and Electronic Surveillance

“Smart Cards” to Track Brit Bus Passengers

Passengers could carry electronic tags to use buses and trains under plans being examined by the Government.

December 26, 2009

Telegraph - Sophisticated technology would not only consign the paper ticket to history, but would also make redundant touch-in-touch-out cards, such as the Oyster used in London.

Instead passengers would board buses and trains equipped with readers capable of monitoring their journey from the tags and charging them the correct fare automatically.

Research into what is known as "Be in be out" technology was commissioned by the Department for Transport and published earlier this month.

The work has been carried out alongside the consultation into "smart ticketing" which was launched earlier in the year.
"It will make using public transport much faster,' said Jeremy Acklam one of the authors of the research. "The technology would reduce boarding time on buses," he added.
It could also allow train operators to get rid of the existing cumbersome system of electronic gates, which have to admit passengers onto the platform individually. Instead it would work on the assumption that the majority of travellers are intending to pay their fare. In the case of a station, the gates would only shut if somebody tries to board without a tag. On a bus, the technology would mean that the driver could demand payment if somebody tries to walk past a reader without the electronic tag.

The electronic tag could be fitted as a chip on a plastic card - which would remain in the passenger's pocket - or be embedded into a mobile phone.

The chip would take payment from a passenger's individual account which, if it works on the same basis as the Oyster system in London, would have to be kept in credit.

The use of what is known as automatic payment is growing. Westminster and Southampton councils are both planning to introduce "wave and go" technology for parking, with motorists touching a new generation of credit and debit card against a reader on the meter.

Richard Hebditch of the Campaign for Better Transport, welcomed the proposals, but sounded a note of caution.
"It would offer a lot of benefits and cut operating costs. But we should not get hung up on the technology; there needs to be a good transport product to sell."

Lost Couple Can't Blame GPS, Air Force Says

December 30, 2009 - The U.S. Air Force wants to set the record straight: Neither aging GPS satellites nor a weak GPS signal were responsible for an elderly couple getting stranded in the woods for several days after following directions in their GPS-enabled SUV.

On Christmas day, John Rhoads, 65, and his wife, Starry Bush-Rhoads, 67, drove their vehicle down a remote road in eastern Oregon, where it became stuck in 1-1/2 feet of snow. The couple was stranded for three days before authorities located them using a faint signal emitted by the couple's GPS-enabled phone.

Some news reports of the couple's adventure were accompanied by headlines such as "GPS Strands Couple and Then Saves Them: Aging Satellites?"

On Tuesday, the Air Force Space Command (AFSPC), which operates the suite of satellites that make up the GPS system, used Twitter to clear up the misconception.

Writing under the Twitter username @AFSpace, AFSPC said:
"While we do not want to speculate on what caused the couple to get stuck in the snow; the cause was not due to the GPS signal."
AFSPC spokesperson Toni Tones said the current GPS constellation is the most capable in the history of the program.
"Since the inception of us putting it up in 1995, it has exceeded our performance requirements, and we are very proud to offer this service to the general public," Tones told LiveScience.
Tones declined to speculate about why the Rhoads were stranded, but expressed confidence that it wasn't due to the satellites.
"All I can say is that the signals that are coming down are very strong and healthy," she said, "so I would have to defer those kinds of questions to [manufacturers] such as Garmin and others that are providing the GPS devices."
That's because even though AFSPC operates the GPS satellites that emit the signal that consumer GPS devices use, they do not create or update the maps that run on the devices, and they are not involved in calculating the routes between destinations.

Tones added that the GPS constellation is designed to be redundant: There are 30 GPS currently in space, but only 24 of them are active at any one time.

The remainder serve as backups in case one of the other satellites malfunctions or if one of them is being upgraded, which happens every few months.
"In the event that one of our satellites fails, we can immediately have another one up to have the full coverage that we need," Tones said.
GPS Inaccurate During Space Storms
Deep Space Objects Guide Earth's GPS System
Top Ten Disruptive Technologies

Super Big Brother Cameras with Thermal Imaging Recognize Faces, License Plates and Give Orders to Citizens

December 16, 2009 - CCTV cameras that have the potential to talk to passersby have gone live across Hounslow – but Big Brother will not be speaking just yet. Instead, the cameras, which can be fitted with technology to recognise faces and give people a ticking off through speakers, will remain silent as they keep a watchful eye on about 200 hot spots in the borough.

The new community safety system launched on Monday in Isleworth, enabling Hounslow Council and the police to monitor thousands of people from a lone control room. It is staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Specially trained operators will have full control over the cameras, and police will be able to take over if an incident occurs that they need to keep tabs on.

In the future, the cameras could be installed with thermal imaging technology to help search for suspects and missing people, and a gadget to match faces and number plates against the police database, as well as speakers.

However, a council spokesman stressed:
“The option is there, but it is not something we are looking at at the minute.”
The control room is one of the first steps in a scheme to roll out more CCTV across the borough.

Camera locations are set by agencies including the council, police, and fire service.

Council leader, Councillor Peter Thompson, said:
“People consistently tell us they want more CCTV to make them feel safer on the borough’s streets.

“But we don’t just want to put in more cameras for the sake of it; they have to be put where they’re needed, and those that are already in place need to work better.

“People assume that just because there is a camera, the police can see what’s going on, but that isn’t the case at all. Different organisations have different cameras, and in the past these haven’t been shared as well as they could.”
Councillor Paul Fisher, lead member for community safety at the council, said the council’s £1.8m investment will also allow camera sharing with Transport for London.

He added:
“As the new system has a wireless element, it means it will be easier to deploy portable cameras to help tackle environmental crimes like fly-tipping and graffiti, which can have a massive negative impact on an area.”

December 30, 2009

Robotics, Transhumanism and Mind Control

The Future of Brain-Controlled Devices

December 30, 2009

CNN - In the shimmering fantasy realm of the hit movie Avatar a paraplegic Marine leaves his wheelchair behind and finds his feet in a new virtual world thanks to "the link," a sophisticated chamber that connects his brain to a surrogate alien, via computer.

This type of interface is a classic tool in gee-whiz science fiction. But the hard science behind it is even more wow-inducing.

Researchers are already using brain-computer interfaces to aid the disabled, treat diseases like Parkinson's and Alzheimer's, and provide therapy for depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. Work is under way on devices that may eventually let you communicate with friends telepathically, give you superhuman hearing and vision or even let you download data directly into your brain, a la "The Matrix."

Researchers are practically giddy over the prospects.
"We don't know what the limits are yet," says Melody Moore Jackson, director of Georgia Tech University's BrainLab.
Adds Emory University neuroscience professor Michael Crutcher, "Anything can happen."

At the root of all this technology is the 3-pound generator we all carry in our head. It produces electricity at the microvolt level. But the signals are strong enough to move robots, wheelchairs and prosthetic limbs -- with the help of an external processor.

Harnessing that power "opens up a whole new paradigm for us as human beings," says neuroscientist Rajesh Rao of the University of Washington.

Brain-computer interfaces (BCI) come in two varieties. Noninvasive techniques use electrodes placed on the scalp to measure electrical activity. Invasive procedures implant electrodes directly into the brain. In both cases, the devices interact with a computer to produce a wide variety of applications, ranging from medical breakthroughs and military-tech advances to futuristic video games and toys.

Much of the research focuses on neuroprosthetics, which offer a way for the brain to compensate for injuries and illness. Jackson helped develop an intelligent wheelchair called the Aware Chair, which can be guided by neural activity.

She is also working on communication programs for people who have been paralyzed by strokes or spinal-cord injuries. Implanted electrodes allow "locked in" patients to spell out messages by manipulating a computer cursor with their thoughts alone.

Rao is tapping into that same concept to help paralyzed people manipulate robots to fetch items or move things around the house. With cameras to provide visual feedback, the patients and robots don't even need to be in the same room, or the same city. Rao says the technology "frees the mind from the constraints of the body."

Cochlear implants are the most common neuroprosthetic. They help the brain interpret sounds and are sometimes called "bionic ears" for the deaf. Other researchers are looking for similar ways to help blind people see. Neurobiologist Ed Boyden of MIT says miniature optical devices can be implanted to convert photoreceptors into workable cameras for the brain.

None of this comes cheap. Most research is funded by deep pockets such as the National Institutes of Health, the defense department and NASA.

But every breakthrough brings the most advanced BCI technologies closer to the mass market. Jackson says she foresees a day when people with disabilities can spend a few hundred dollars instead of $20,000 on a workable system.

Mainstreaming the technology raises some troubling issues for Crutcher, who teaches a course at Emory in neuro-ethics. He fears that expensive eye and ear implants could produce a computer-enhanced elite.
"If only the rich can afford it, it puts everyone else at a disadvantage," says Crutcher, who believes many aspects of BCI are ripe for abuse. Just the idea of mucking about with a person's brain "raises questions about safety and efficacy," he says.
One of the more controversial uses under development is telepathy. It would require at least two people to be implanted with electrodes that send and receive signals back and forth.

DARPA, the Pentagon's technology research division, is currently working on an initiative called "Silent Talk," which would let soldiers on secret missions communicate with their thoughts alone. This stealth component is attractive, but naysayers fear that such soldiers could become manipulated for evil means.

Telepathy implants won't replace Facebook and Twitter anytime soon, but that possibility is problematic as well.
"You can imagine communicating with your friends through the devices, and that opens up a lot of ethical issues," Rao says.
Would you want your friends and family to know everything you are thinking? Would little white lies become obsolete?

These questions of morality and liability are not a huge factor for the toy makers and video game developers who are already bringing the most basic BCI technology to consumers.

Games like Mindflex and the Star Wars Force Trainer use headsets with simple electrodes to monitor levels of concentration and relaxation. The signals trigger a fan that can move a ball up or down, depending on how hard you're thinking. Jackson calls it a "fascinating application of a very sophisticated technology in a very cheap package."

The headsets used in both games were designed by the California company Neurosky. Its corporate partners are working on games that help Alzheimer's patients improve memory techniques, teach concentration skills to kids with ADHD and let stressed- out CEOs work on relaxing.

Software entrepreneurs and executives are streaming into Boyden's neuro-ventures class at MIT, looking for ways to capitalize on the array of potential uses for brain-computer interfaces.

Some ventures are already up and running. NeuroVigil in California is working on iBrain, designed, in part, to help provide instant feedback to drivers who start falling asleep at the wheel. Eos Neuroscience is developing light-sensitive protein-based sensors that can treat blindness.

Numerous companies are developing video games based on direct brain-computer interfacing. Neurosky sells a wireless headset that connects to any computer for a series of brain-training games. NeuroBoy lets you set targets on fire just by concentrating on them. Relax, and your character levitates. Another application lets you see a colorful visualization of your brain-wave activity.

Boyden expects to see many more such products hitting shelves sooner rather than later. He says the possibilities are endless if just a "fraction of the business leaders" taking his class start "bringing the technology into the world."

Jackson, of Georgia Tech, agrees:
"Nothing is out of the realm of possibility."

Google and NASA Back New School for Futurists

Google and Nasa are launching a Singularity University in the Bay Area headed by Ray Kurzweil, author of The Age of Spiritual Machines and The Singularity is Near, to focus on how to accelerate technology development.

February 5, 2009

WhatIsSingularity - Google and NASA are throwing their weight behind a new school for futurists in Silicon Valley to prepare scientists for an era when machines become cleverer than people. The new institution, known as “Singularity University,” is to be headed by Ray Kurzweil (an American inventor who plans to live forever), whose predictions about the exponential pace of technological change have made him a controversial figure in technology circles.

Google and Nasa’s backing demonstrates the growing mainstream acceptance of Mr Kurzweil’s views, which include a claim that before the middle of this century artificial intelligence will outstrip human beings, ushering in a new era of civilisation.

To be housed at Nasa’s Ames Research Center, a stone’s-throw from the Googleplex, the Singularity University will offer courses on biotechnology, nano-technology and artificial intelligence.

The so-called “singularity” is a theorised period of rapid technological progress in the near future. Mr Kurzweil, an American inventor, popularised the term in his 2005 book “The Singularity is Near”.

Proponents say that during the singularity, machines will be able to improve themselves using artificial intelligence and that smarter-than-human computers will solve problems including energy scarcity, climate change and hunger.

Yet many critics call the singularity dangerous. Some worry that a malicious artificial intelligence might annihilate the human race.

Mr Kurzweil said the university was launching now because many technologies were approaching a moment of radical advancement.
“We’re getting to the steep part of the curve,” said Mr Kurzweil. “It’s not just electronics and computers. It’s any technology where we can measure the information content, like genetics.”
The school is backed by Larry Page, Google co-founder, and Peter Diamandis, chief executive of X-Prize, an organisation which provides grants to support technological change.
“We are anchoring the university in what is in the lab today, with an understanding of what’s in the realm of possibility in the future,” said Mr Diamandis, who will be vice-chancellor. “The day before something is truly a breakthrough, it’s a crazy idea.”
Despite its title, the school will not be an accredited university. Instead, it will be modelled on the International Space University in Strasbourg, France, the interdisciplinary, multi-cultural school that Mr Diamandis helped establish in 1987.

The Collapse of the U.S. Economy

Midnight in the Food-Stamp Economy

December 30, 2009

Reuters - At 11 p.m. on the last day of the month, shoppers flock to the nearest Walmart. They load their carts with food and household items and wait for the midnight hour. That's when food stamp credits are loaded on their electronic benefits transfer cards.
"Once the clock strikes midnight and EBT cards are charged, you can see our results start to tick up," says Tom Schoewe, Wal-Mart Stores Inc's chief financial officer.
As food stamps become an increasingly common currency in a struggling U.S. economy, they are dictating changes in how even the biggest retailers do business.

From Costco to Wal-Mart, store chains are rethinking years of strategy as they watch prized customers lose jobs and turn to this benefit, the stigma of which is disappearing not just in society, but in corporate America.

Besides staffing up for the spike in shoppers on the first day of the month, retailers are adjusting when and what they stock, updating point-of-sale systems to accept food stamps and shifting expansion plans to focus on lower-income shoppers.

As of September, a record of more than 37 million people were enrolled for the government benefit, federal officials told Reuters, an increase of nearly 35 percent since the U.S. slid into recession at the end of 2007.

An estimated one in eight Americans depends on the benefit to buy food. With the nation's unemployment in double digits, more people are expected to enroll. By some government estimates, up to 16 million people who are not receiving food stamps today could qualify.

What's more, unemployed Americans are finding that it takes longer and longer to get work. This suggests that food stamps will play a bigger role over the next few years, not just for people, but for stores in need of customers, according to interviews with retail executives, economists, federal and state officials and benefit recipients.

"It is a very important and increasingly important source of revenue for the ... supermarkets and stores that have been approved across the country to process those benefits," Kevin Concannon, U.S. undersecretary of agriculture, said in an interview this month.
Stores have little choice but to respond. And they are.

In the fiscal year that ended in September, 193,753 U.S. retailers accepted food stamps, 17 percent more than the same period two years earlier.
"For some chains... it's 10 to 12 percent of their revenues," Concannon said. "Depending on how poor the area may be, it may even be higher."
Tellingly, electronic benefits transfer (EBT) transactions processed by retailers jumped 53 percent this year on a same-store sales basis on Black Friday, the kickoff to the U.S. holiday shopping season, payments processor First Data told Reuters.

EBT includes food stamps and other government benefits like temporary cash assistance for needy families and food assistance for new and expecting mothers...

Most food stamp recipients subsist on earnings below the poverty line -- roughly $22,000 annually for a family of four -- and many new users are from the ranks of the working poor...

Eighty-five percent of food stamp benefits are redeemed at grocery and warehouse stores, and the program means serious business for such retailers.

Nearly $55 billion in food stamps may be redeemed this year, up from about $37 billion in 2008 and $31 billion in 2007, according to The Nilson Report.

The USDA expects to have more than $64 billion to spend on food stamp benefits in fiscal 2010, including nearly $6 billion in anticipated stimulus money, up 14 percent from fiscal 2009...

Technology is one reason the food-stamp stigma is fading. While recipients once announced their status by pulling out bulky coupon books at the checkout counter, today's users are far less noticeable. Benefits from the food stamp program, now known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and other types of government financial assistance are loaded onto EBT cards that can be swiped to make a payment, just like a debit or credit card.

According to J.P. Morgan which administers EBT programs for more than 20 states, 85 percent of food stamps are depleted within the first three days they are available...

There are currently 1.25 million households receiving food stamp benefits in California, and 1.22 million households in Texas, according to the USDA. As of 2007, the latest year of available data, only half of eligible individuals in those states were enrolled to receive the benefits.

Many Californians are intimidated by the application process or do not realize they are eligible, keeping food stamp usage far below where it should be, said Alameda County Community Food Bank spokesman Brian Higgins.

Calls to his food bank, across the bay from San Francisco, for emergency food help have surged.
"In our first 13 years, we only went over 1,500 (phone calls) in one month twice," he said. "We've gone over 3,000 (phone calls) for the fourth month in a row and the numbers are going up."
The food bank, which runs a food stamp outreach program, tells callers that they might qualify for the benefit...

U.S. Congress Raises Debt Ceiling to USD 12.4 Trillion

December 25, 2009

Zee News - The Senate voted Thursday to raise the ceiling on the government debt to $12.4 trillion, a massive increase over the current limit and a political problem that President Barack Obama has promised to address next year.

The Senate’s rare Christmas Eve vote, 60-39, follows House passage last week and raises the debt ceiling by $290 billion. The vote split mainly down party lines, with Democrats voting to raise the limit and Republicans voting against doing so. There was one defection on each side, by senators whose seats will be on the ballot next year: GOP Sen. George Voinovich of Ohio and Democratic Sen. Evan Bayh of Indiana.

The bill permits the Treasury Department to issue enough bonds to fund the government’s operations and programs until mid-February. The Senate will vote again on the issue January 20...

Unemployment Funds Going ‘Absolutely Broke’

40 state programs to be emptied by the jobless tsunami within two years

December 22, 2009

Washington Post - The recession's jobless toll is draining unemployment-compensation funds so fast that according to federal projections, 40 state programs will go broke within two years and need $90 billion in loans to keep issuing the benefit checks.

The shortfalls are putting pressure on governments to either raise taxes or shrink the aid payments.

Debates over the state benefit programs have erupted in South Carolina, Nevada, Kansas, Vermont and Indiana. And the budget gaps are expected to spread and become more acute in the coming year, compelling legislators in many states to reconsider their operations.

Currently, 25 states have run out of unemployment money and have borrowed $24 billion from the federal government to cover the gaps. By 2011, according to Department of Labor estimates, 40 state funds will have been emptied by the jobless tsunami.


The Indiana legislation protected the aid checks, Niezgodski said, but it came after a give-and-take this spring in which Gov. Mitchell E. Daniels Jr. (R) said the state had been providing "Rolls-Royce benefits" and several thousand union workers countered by protesting proposed cuts at the state capitol. In January, the legislature is slated to consider a bill to delay the proposed tax increases intended to refill the fund.

In Nevada, Gov. Jim Gibbons (R) and legislators have feuded over the unemployment program, which is $85 million in debt to the federal government, with Gibbons accusing the legislature of "callous disregard" for not setting a tax rate.

And last week, a state task force in Kentucky recommended cutting benefits about 9 percent and imposing a week's delay in their payment. The average benefit check there is about $309 a week. The task force also proposed raising taxes.

Two choices

State unemployment-compensation funds are separated from general budgets, so when there is a shortfall, only two primary solutions are typically considered -- either cut the benefit or raise the payroll tax.

Industry and business groups often lobby against raising the payroll tax on employers, while unions and other worker groups protest benefit cuts.

Nationally, the average tax is about 0.6 percent of payroll; the average weekly check is about $300.

Not prepared

The troubles the state programs face can be traced to a failure during the economic boom to properly prepare for a downturn, experts said.

Unemployment benefits are funded by the payroll tax on employers that is collected at a rate that is supposed to keep the funds solvent. Firms that fire lots of people are supposed to pay higher rates. The federal government pays for administrative costs, and in a recession, it pays for the extension of unemployment benefits beyond 26 weeks. But over the years, the drive to minimize state taxes on employers has reduced the funds to unsustainable levels...

In Virginia, the unemployment program has borrowed $89 million from the federal government, while Maryland has not borrowed, according to the federal data.

Wayne Vroman, an expert in unemployment insurance at the Urban Institute, said that entering the recession, state programs were on average funded at only one-third the level they should have been, according to generally accepted funding guidelines.

"If you fund a program adequately, you don't need to come to these kinds of difficult decisions," he said.

Before the recession, he said, the funding guidelines "were rarely honored."

While the amount of the states' loans from the federal government is expected to grow rapidly, it is not expected to add to the federal debt.
"In the past, the federal government has always gotten its money back," Vroman said.
Struggling to fill the gap

In the meantime, however, more states are struggling to fill the gap. West Virginia imposed a freeze on benefit levels this year, and legislators in South Carolina are considering one.

"We've obviously got problems with the fund," said South Carolina House Majority Leader Kenny Bingham (R), blaming the trouble in part on the state's unemployment rate of more than 12 percent.
The state owes about $654 million to the federal government for unemployment payments.
"We're not trying to cut benefits," he said. But "if you jack rates up, those business that are struggling to hang on, you make things more difficult."

Federal Workers Owe More Than $3 Billion in Back Taxes

December 15, 2009

AP - Federal workers owed the government more than $3 billion in back income taxes in 2008, just as federal tax revenues started to suffer from the recession.

More than 276,000 federal employees and retirees owed back income taxes as of Sept. 30, 2008, according to data from the Internal Revenue Service. The $3.04 billion owed was up from $2.7 billion owed by federal employees and retirees in 2007.

Among cabinet agencies, the Department of Housing and Urban Development had the highest delinquency rate, at just over 4 percent. The Treasury Department, which includes the IRS, had the lowest delinquency rate, at 0.98 percent.

Overall, the 9.7 million federal workers included in the data had a delinquency rate of about 2.9 percent.
"It's not right for a few to shirk their obligations, and it's especially offensive that these tax delinquencies come from federal employees and contractors," said Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, the top Republican on the Senate Finance Committee.
The IRS doesn't provide a comparable delinquency rate for income taxes paid by the public. The nation's overall compliance rate, which includes taxes paid by small businesses and corporations, has hovered around 85 percent for decades, according to IRS statistics.

Most residents who owe back income taxes file returns but cannot pay the full amount at tax time, said IRS spokesman Anthony Burke. Others have their tax bills increased through audits and cannot pay the higher bill.

The statistics on federal employees do not include those who are on payment plans. The IRS doesn't publicize the data, but makes it available upon request. The data was first reported by Washington radio station WTOP.

The recession has put a big dent in federal tax receipts. Individual income tax receipts for the fiscal year that ended in September were down about 20 percent from the year before.

Climate Bills and a Green Economy

Global Warming is Just Another Scam

December 25, 2009

Daily Herald - A letter by Sandra Kaptain of the League of Women Voters in the Daily Herald includes several outrageous statements about "global warming," in urging that we "go green."

In the '70s, comparable claims were made about a coming Ice Age. The proposed solution was the same -- authorize proponents to "regulate," i.e., tax us, because industrial activity was alleged to be the cause. That idea fell flat, so 10 or 15 years ago they came up with "global warming."

Professor Frederick Seitz, past president of the National Academy of Sciences, was skeptical. He and Edward Teller, famous for his work in several areas of science, endorsed an independent study of the subject. A white paper resulted, describing scientific evidence for at least six 1,500-year cycles of warming and cooling.

In the first half of the last millennium, the last "warm" period, Vikings farmed on Greenland. Neither that "warm" period nor any of the prior ones was man's doing. There was more arable land, larger harvests, more food and larger incomes. Coastal cities, such as London and Tokyo, did not flood. Mankind was better off. Climatologists call that period the "medieval climate optimum." Over several centuries following, average temperatures declined as much as three 3 degrees.

The petition project documents all this and more. If you visit, you will find a good deal of data, developed by scientists without an ax to grind, the white paper and a petition opposing the global warming idea.

Sandra Kaptain and the League of Women Voters would do well to cut their losses and stop participating in the "global warming" scam.

Save the Planet! Eat Your Pet!

December 26, 2009

American Thinker - The Financial Times reported that "Carbon prices plunged yesterday in the aftermath of the Copenhagen conference on climate change, dealing a blow to the credibility of the European Union's carbon-trading scheme."

An indulgence for a ton of carbon closed at €12.41, while "prices of more than €40 a tonne are required to stimulate investment in new low-carbon technologies." Oh no! This is-this is "bearish for the market and bearish for the world."

So where's a global warmist to turn now? Well, Robert and Brenda Vale are training their sights on Fido and the other family pets. See their new book, Time to Eat the Dog, the Real Guide to Sustainable Living. And how, you might ask, do the Vales sustain themselves? By teaching sustainable living at Victoria University of Wellington.

A medium-size dog had a carbon footprint about twice the size of the Land Cruiser, while a cat's carbon footprint was about equal to a small Volkswagen ... Two hamsters had the footprint of a plasma television, while a goldfish was comparable to a pair of cell phones.
The leftward alarmists are truly antilife. Books like the Vales' are warming us up for new policy initiatives. After all, we must do something! It's getting so warm in here! What can we expect from Copenhagen II, when limos will again be imported from Germany to ferry the concerned, green diplomats from one banquet to the next? Will I have to swallow my goldfish if I wish to get a permit to purchase a couple cell phones? Fry up the hamsters in order to apply for permission to buy a TV?

How about a Bowsers for Clunkers program? I roast the canines on a spit in the front yard in order to buy a lottery ticket which grants the privilege to bid on a Government Motors green machine.

Now there's a clunker.

Gordon Brown Calls for New Group to Police Global Environment Issues

December 21, 2009

The Times - A new global body dedicated to environmental stewardship is needed to prevent a repeat of the deadlock which undermined the Copenhagen climate change summit, Gordon Brown will say tomorrow.

The UN’s consensual method of negotiation, which requires all 192 countries to reach agreement, needs to be reformed to ensure that the will of the majority prevails, he feels.

The Prime Minister will say:
Never again should we face the deadlock that threatened to pull down those talks. Never again should we let a global deal to move towards a greener future be held to ransom by only a handful of countries. One of the frustrations for me was the lack of a global body with the sole responsibility for environmental stewardship.

“I believe that in 2010 we will need to look at reforming our international institutions to meet the common challenges we face as a global community.”
The summit failed to produce a political agreement among all the countries. Delegates instead passed a motion on Saturday “taking note” of an accord drawn up the night before by five countries: the US, China, India, Brazil and South Africa.

Despite being the first world leader to join the summit, Mr Brown was excluded from the key meeting where the compromise was decided.

Ed Miliband, the Climate Change Secretary, admitted today that the results of the Copenhagen conference were “disappointing” because of the absence of agreement on emissions targets or a deadline for turning the accord into a legally binding treaty...

Final Copenhagen Text Includes Global Transaction Tax

Obama set to bypass Congress and approve massive transfer of wealth to World Government

December 18, 2009

Prison - The final Copenhagen draft agreement which was hammered out in the early hours of Friday morning includes provisions for a global tax on financial transactions that will be paid directly to the World Bank, as President Obama prepares to bypass Congress by approving a massive transfer of wealth from America into globalist hands.

As Lord Monckton, Alex Jones and others warned, the notion that the globalists would achieve nothing at Copenhagen has likely been a ruse all along. The elite look set to ram through the lion’s share of their agenda, which would include a massive global government tax at a cost of at least $3,000 a year for American families already laboring under a devastating recession, double digit unemployment and a reduction in living standards.

Hillary Clinton arrived yesterday to rally global leaders around a resolution and Barack Obama is set to be portrayed as the savior of the world by rescuing what was pitched all along as a conference doomed to fail.

“The summit “hangs in the balance,” said Obama this morning. “We are running out of time. The time for talk is over. It is better for us to act than to talk. The question is whether we move forward together or split apart.”
The final agreement may not force countries to meet CO2 emission targets, but it will grease the skids for the biggest tax hike in human history, a fact that establishment media outlets have completely failed to emphasize.

Monckton told the Alex Jones Show last week that the initial secretive draft version of the Copenhagen agreement represented a global government power grab on an “unimaginable scale,” and mandated the creation of 700 new bureaucracies as well as a colossal raft of new taxes including two percent levies on both GDP and every international financial transaction.

Monckton said that the new world government outlined in the treaty would be handed powers to “tax the American economy to the extent of two percent GDP, to impose a further tax of two percent on every financial transaction… and to close down effectively the economies of the west, transfer your jobs to third world countries.”

As the leak of the Danish text outlined, such taxes, earmarked as “climate financing,” will go straight into the coffers of the IMF and the World Bank. These funds will be used to bankroll the imposition of global governance that UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon promised would be achieved at Copenhagen.

According to the latest news out of Copenhagen, the taxes that were included in the initial text are still in the final agreement which is set to be passed later today or in the early hours of Saturday morning.

The Sydney Morning Herald reports that the final text “proposes a range of innovative mechanisms for raising the money, ranging from a tax on air and sea transports fuels to a tax on financial transfers.”

This would form part of an initial commitment of $US10 billion a year from 2010 to 2012, climbing to $US50 billion annually by 2015 and $US100 billion by 2020, although these figures will inevitably increase if the UN ramps up its climate fearmongering as it has done at each successive climate conference since the Rio Earth Summit in 1992.

The treaty outlines:

“Penalties or fines for non-compliance” in developed countries, and the creation of an international police force to “enforce its will by imposing unlimited financial penalties on any countries whose performance under this treaty they don’t like,” Monckton told the Alex Jones Show, saying that it amounted to a total global government takeover on an “unimaginable scale.”

“We’re looking at a grab for absolute power and absolute financial control worldwide by the UN and its associated bureaucracies and 700 new bureaucratic bodies,” said Monckton, adding that if the agreement was signed by Obama, the U.S. would be losing its freedom to a “sinister dictatorship” being formed under the contrived pretext of global warming.

FACTBOX: Main points of the Copenhagen Accord
FACTBOX: Which leaders didn't make it to Copenhagen?

Internet Censorship

UK House of Lords Follow China and Australia, Propose Internet Censorship Bill

December 16, 2009 - As China, Iran, and Australia initiate draconian efforts to shut down the internet as an alternative news source, the House of Lords in the United Kingdom is mulling a similar attempt to block dissenting voices. The so-called Digital Economy Bill, essentially ignored by the media, would allow the Secretary of State to “a technical obligation on internet service providers” at the whim of the government.

Francis Davey, who offers legal advice to technology and media firms in computer and internet law, notes on his blog that a provision under consideration by the House of Lords — specifically clause 11 of the proposed legislation — would provide the means to block “undesirable” web pages such as WikiLeaks and other whistle-blower sites. The clause would also allow the government to block peer-to-peer networks.

The previous clause defines “technical obligation” as follows: A “technical obligation,” in relation to an internet service provider, is an obligation for the provider to take a technical measure against particular subscribers to its service. A “technical measure” is a measure that — (a) limits the speed or other capacity of the service provided to a subscriber; (b) prevents a subscriber from using the service to gain access to particular material, or limits such use; (c) suspends the service provided to a subscriber; or (d) limits the service provided to a subscriber in another way.

“As you can see blocking wikileaks is simply a matter of applying a technical measure against all subscribers of any ISP,” writes Davey. “Surely something must limit this power you ask? It seems not.”
A few of the Lords, however, believe this sort of obtrusive government intervention is “overly permissive” and they have proposed language modifying the bill.

The Digital Economy Bill is under consideration at the same time Australia is implementing a wide-ranging internet filter.

“Under the Chinese-style system, Internet service providers (ISPs) in the country would be legally obliged to filter out banned material,” reports Fox News.
Australian communication minister Stephen Conroy said the government would be the final arbiter on what sites would be blacklisted under “refused classification.”

On December 16, it was reported by the Financial Times that China has imposed additional restrictions on the internet. People registering a domain name in China will have to present a company seal and a business license, the China Internet Network Information Center, a government-backed body, said in a statement on Monday.
“Officials said the measure was part of a campaign to rein in pornographic content, but bloggers and internet activists interpreted it as a broader attempt to enforce internet censorship more heavily,” writes Kathrin Hille.
On December 6, China indicted dissident Liu Xiaobo for subversion of state power for posting essays on his blog about human rights and calls for democratic reform in the country. Liu Xiaobo faces 15 years in prison.

The European Union, Finland, Denmark, Germany and other countries in Europe have proposed blocking or limiting access to the internet. The European Union’s Justice and Security Commissioner Franco Frattini called last September for ISPs to block access to sites hosting information about bomb-making, and the UK’s former Home Secretary Jacqui Smith said in January that she wanted action taken against sites that encouraged terrorism, including social networking sites, according IT World.

A free and open internet is enemy number one for government around the world. Alternative news sites such as Infowars and Prison Planet stand in the way of implementing world government currently being formulated in Copenhagen and the New World Order’s control grid.

WikiLeaks and Cryptome have leaked numerous documents revealing government corruption and malfeasance. In early 2008, WikiLeaks was forcibly censored at ex-parte and its name deleted from a Californian domain registrar after the transparency website posted a document detailing a money laundering case in the Cayman Islands.

Earlier this month Cryptome received a takedown order under the DMCA (an international copyright treaty) after the site posted 17-page guide describing Yahoo’s data retention policies and the surveillance capabilities it provides law enforcement.

Australian Government to Introduce Controversial Internet Filter

December 14, 2009

Associated Press - Australia plans to introduce an Internet filtering system to block obscene and crime-linked Web sites despite concerns it will curtail freedoms and won't completely work.

Adopting a mandatory screening system would make Australia one of the strictest Internet regulators among the world's democracies. Authoritarian regimes commonly impose controls. China drew international criticism earlier this year with plans to install filtering software on all PCs sold in the country.

The government said Tuesday it will introduce legislation next year for the filter system to help protect Australians, especially children, from harmful material on the Internet. Critics say it will not prevent determined users from sharing such content, and could lead to unwarranted censorship by overzealous officials.

Communication Minister Stephen Conroy said the government would be transparent in compiling its blacklist of Web sites, but did not give details.

Conroy said the Australian filter was among a number of new measures aimed at strengthening online protection for families. It aims to block material such as child pornography, bestiality, rape and other sexual violence, along with detailed instructions about committing crimes or using illicit drugs.

Such material is already banned from publication on Australian sites, but the government currently has no control over it being accessed on servers overseas.

Conroy conceded it may not be completely successful.
"The government has always maintained there is no silver bullet solution to cyber-safety," he said in a statement. But, "it is important that all Australians, particularly young children, are protected from this material."
Critics say illegal material such as child pornography is often traded on peer-to-peer networks or chats, which would not be covered by the filter.
"The government knows this plan will not help Australian kids, nor will it aid in the policing of prohibited material," said Colin Jacobs, vice chairman of Electronic Frontiers Australia, a nonprofit group that seeks to promote online freedoms.

"Given the problems in maintaining a secret blacklist and deciding what goes on it, we're at a loss to explain the minister's enthusiasm for this proposal," Jacobs said in an online posting.

The group is concerned the blacklist of sites to be blocked by the filter and the reasons for doing so would be kept secret, opening the possibility that legitimate sites might be censored.

Conroy's announcement coincided with the release of a report on a monthslong trial that found Internet service providers were able to block a list of more than 1,300 sites selected by the government without significantly hampering download speeds...

Jacobs said smaller Internet service providers would likely struggle to pay the costs of imposing the new filters. Conroy said the government would help providers implement the filters, without going into details.

The filter would not likely not be in place before early in 2011.

Countries such as Egypt and Iran impose strict Internet controls, and bloggers have been imprisoned. China has a pervasive filtering system.

Controls in democracies that value free speech are less strict, though Internet providers have at times blocked or taken down content deemed to be offensive.

Canada, Sweden and Britain have filters, but they are voluntary. In the United States, Pennsylvania briefly imposed requirements for service providers to block child pornography sites, but a federal court struck down the law because the filters also blocked legitimate sites.

Stealth Treaty Seeks Strict Controls Over Internet

December 2, 2009

On the Commons - A sweeping international treaty to regulate how knowledge and creativity may flow on the Internet is now being negotiated. Haven’t heard of it? Funny thing, that’s exactly what the backers of the treaty want. The film, music, publishing and information industries don’t want a public debate about the issues or an open debate in Congress. So they have been working hand-in-glove with the U.S. Trade Representative to move U.S. policymaking offshore and throw a dark cloak of secrecy around everything. The next stop: draconian penalties for anyone who is accused of violating copyright law.

Details about the treaty are murky. But the latest draft, according to a leak summarized on the Boing Boing website, would require:

That Internet Service Providers (ISPs) have to proactively police copyright on user-contributed material. This means that it will be impossible to run a service like Flickr or YouTube or Blogger, since hiring enough lawyers to ensure that the mountain of material uploaded every second isn’t infringing will exceed any hope of profitability.

That ISPs have to cut off the Internet access of accused copyright infringers or face liability. This means that your entire family could be denied to the internet — and hence to civic participation, health information, education, communications, and their means of earning a living — if one member is accused of copyright infringement, without access to a trial or counsel.

That the whole world must adopt US-style “notice-and-takedown” rules that require ISPs to remove any material that is accused — again, without evidence or trial — of infringing copyright. This has proved a disaster in the U.S. and other countries, where it provides an easy means of censoring material, just by accusing it of infringing copyright.
Mandatory prohibitions on breaking DRM [Digital Rights Management systems], even if doing so for a lawful purpose (e.g., to make a work available to disabled people; for archival preservation; because you own the copyrighted work that is locked up with DRM).

Who would have guessed that such nasty stuff was embedded in a treaty called the “Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA)”? That title was presumably meant to reassure people that it’s a non-controversial measure. But fighting counterfeits seems to be just the cover story. The real goal is to win a backdoor expansion of copyright law, much stronger enforcement powers and greater corporate control of the Internet — all without having to go through that pesky process known as democracy.

If the first subterfuge was the misleading title, the second subterfuge was to call ACTA a “trade agreement” rather than a multilateral intellectual property treaty. A trade agreement can be implemented by the Executive Branch on its own, and does not require congressional approval. An intellectual property treaty would require a congressional vote...

Beyond the misleading title and backdoor legal maneuvers is Very Deep Secrecy. Or more accurately, selective Very Deep Secrecy. Key Washington insiders and corporate players have been granted full access to the draft treaty — but we the little people have been excluded. Wanna read the draft? You can’t. The official rationale is that such disclosures would jeopardize national security. Seriously...

Government Corruption and Treason

Foiled Terrorist Bombing in Detroit: An Excuse to Expand the Bogus War On Terror

December 26, 2009

Infowars - The explosion of what witnesses describe as a firecracker on Northwest Airlines Flight 253 from Amsterdam to Detroit on Christmas arrives at an opportune time for the Obama administration. The alleged perpetrator, Umar Farouk Abdul Mutallab, like shoe bomber Richard Reid before him, appears to be an incompetent patsy. Mutallab told investigators he was on a mission from al-Qaeda and he got the explosive materials for the botched attack in Yemen.

Yemen is a new front in the war against the manufactured enemy al-Qaeda. Not only is the United States providing assisstance to the Yemeni government to bomb supposed al-Qaeda bases in the southern part of the country, but Saudi Arabia conducted airstrikes against targets in the north.

Mohamed al-Anisi, the Yemeni national security chief, told told the Saudi Arabian newspaper Okaz that his forces were cooperating with Washington on attacks and accused Iran of aiding Houthi Shiite rebels. Earlier this week, a Saudi Ministry of Defense official said 73 Saudis were killed fighting the Houthi rebels, according to Deutsche Presse-Agentur.

Earlier this week al-Qaeda exploited an anti-government rally in Sanna.

“Al Qaeda militants made a rare public appearance in restive south Yemen on Monday, telling an anti-government rally that the group’s war was with the United States and not the Yemeni army, residents said,” Reuters reported on December 23. “The West and Saudi Arabia fear al Qaeda will take advantage of the Yemeni government’s focus on a Shi’ite rebellion in the north and rising secessionist sentiment in the south to spread its operations to the kingdom, the world’s top oil exporter.”
An explosion during the demonstration killed three people.

The Yemeni government raids killed 23 children and 17 women, not al-Qaeda, according to a report filed by AlJazeera.

The failed bombing of Flight 253 provides an excuse to expand the GWOT into Africa.

“The alleged bomber’s nationality and his apparent origination in Nigeria raised immediate questions about airport security in Africa’s most populous country, where corruption, organized crime and crumbling infrastructure have long hobbled an otherwise oil-rich government,” reports The Wall Street Journal. “The alleged attempted bombing of a Detroit-bound jet by a Nigerian national Friday raises new concern over possible extremist Islamic activity in Nigeria and West Africa, a corner of Africa where al Qaeda so far hasn’t put down significant roots.”
Ethiopian and U.S. intervention in Somalia was justified to the international public under the pretext of fighting terrorism and al-Qaeda...

Bombshell Eyewitness Revelations: Confirmed FBI Cover-Up of Flight 253 Attack

December 29, 2009

Infowars - On The Alex Jones Show today, Detroit attorney Kurt Haskell dropped bombshell revelations concerning his eyewitness experience of the Flight 253 attack and how the FBI detained a second man after dogs detected a bomb in his luggage. The FBI has not only ignored Haskell’s story, but they have launched a cover-up by refusing to even acknowledge the existence of another man who filmed the entire flight, including the aborted attack, as well as the well-dressed man who aided the bomber to board the plane even though he had no passport and was on a terror watch list...

Health Care Industry Mobilizing State Legislatures to Ratify Constitutional Amendments That Would Repeal Health Care Reform Measures

To pay for government-run healthcare for all, lawmakers will have to carry through on hundreds of billions of dollars in planned cuts to insurance companies and doctors, hospitals, and others who treat Medicare patients. Nearly everyone would have to obtain coverage in four or five years. Bills in Congress propose increasing the Medicare tax, now 1.45 percent, by 0.9 percentage points and charging a 40 percent excise tax on most high-end expensive insurance policies (Democrats see the excise tax as a burden on the middle class, and prefer a 5.4 percent income tax surcharge) as other ways of covering the cost of nationalized healthcare.

Health Care Industry Coordinating Effort to Opt States Out of Health Care Reform

December 29, 2009

Think Progress - As Congress prepares to pass the final health care reform legislation early next year, health care lobbyists are mobilizing legislatures in approximately 14 states to ratify constitutional amendments that would repeal all or parts of the new measure.

“The states where the amendment has been introduced are also places where the health care industry has spent heavily on political contributions,” the New York Times notes:

Over the last six years, health care interests have spent $394 million on contributions in states around the country; about $73 million of that went to those 14 states. Of that, health insurance companies spent $18.2 million.

Overall, at least 21 states have indicated a desire to opt out of federal health care reform or block fundamental features of the reform bill, including mandatory health coverage. While Arizona, is the only state legislature to place an opt-out measure on the 2010 ballot, a significant number of gubernatorial and state legislature candidates across the country have also said that they are strongly “leaning towards” opting out of reform.

Lawmakers in Wyoming, New Mexico, Montana, Kansas, Texas, Pennsylvania, Utah, Virginia, Arizona, Alabama, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio, West Virginia, Louisiana, Alaska, Minnesota, North Dakota, Georgia Illinois and repeal health care reform, (they are more likely to picked up by the American Legislative Exchange Council [ALEC], a business-friendly conservative group that coordinates activity among statehouses.” As the New York Times points out:

“Five of the 24 members of its ‘free enterprise board’ are executives of drug companies and its health care ‘task force’ is overseen in part by a four-member panel composed of government-relations officials for the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association of insurers, the medical company Johnson & Johnson and the drug makers Bayer and Hoffmann-La Roche.”
Earlier this month, Lee Fang reported that Joan Gardner, executive director of state services with the BCBS Association’s Office of Policy and Representation and a member of ALEC’s ‘task force’ “played a pivotal role in crafting this anti-health reform states’ rights initiative.”

Health Care Bill Clears Last Senate Hurdle Before Passage

December 23, 2009

AP – Democrats pushed sweeping health care legislation to the brink of Senate passage Wednesday, crushing a year-end Republican filibuster against President Barack Obama's call to remake the nation's health care system.

The 60-39 vote marked the third time in as many days Democrats have posted a supermajority needed to advance the legislation. Final passage, set for about dawn on Thursday, was a certainty, and will clear the way for talks with the House on a final compromise. Those negotiations likely will stretch into February.

The Senate has met for 24 consecutive days to debate the legislation, the second-longest such stretch in history, and Democrats held a celebratory press conference.
"We stand at on the doorstep of history," said Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada, who painstakingly pieced together the bill — and the now-controversial deals with wavering lawmakers that made its passage possible.
The measure would extend coverage to an estimated 31 million who lack it, while banning the insurance industry from denying benefits or charging higher premiums on the basis of pre-existing medical conditions. The Congressional Budget Office predicts the bill will reduce deficits by $130 billion over the next 10 years, an estimate that assumes lawmakers carry through on hundreds of billions of dollars in planned cuts to insurance companies and doctors, hospitals and others who treat Medicare patients.

Obama has also said he wants legislation that slows the rate of growth in medical spending nationwide, but the CBO said it has not determined whether that is the case with the bill.

Unlike the House, the Senate measure omits a government-run insurance option, which liberals favored to apply pressure on private insurers but Democratic moderates opposed as an unwarranted federal intrusion into the health care system.

In an interview with PBS, Obama signaled he will sign a bill even if it lacks the provision...

1:19 AM: Senate Dems Win Key 60-40 Vote on Health Care

December 21, 2009

McClatchy Newspapers - The Senate early Monday voted 60 to 40 to cut off extended debate on the Democratic-authored health care overhaul bill, the first major step toward passing the measure later this week.

The vote, which saw all 58 Democrats and two independents vote to end the latest debate while all 40 Republicans opposed the maneuver, ended at 1:19 a.m. and capped a day of debate that turned partisan and often angry.
“If the people who wrote this bill were proud of it, they wouldn’t be forcing this vote in the dead of night,” Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said as he made a final post-midnight plea to derail the $871 billion bill. “The final product is a mess -- and so is the process that’s brought us here to vote on a bill that the American people overwhelmingly oppose.”
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, countered:
"This is not about politics. It's about people. It's about life and death in America."
The vote, the first of three planned this week aimed at cutting off different debates, found Democrats marching united and determined toward anticipated passage of historic health care legislation late Wednesday or Thursday. If that happens, the Senate bill will have to be reconciled with the version the House of Representatives passed last month.

Most of the talk on Capitol Hill Sunday centered on the difficult clashes ahead over abortion, taxes and the public option.

Resolving those differences will be up to a conference or negotiating committee, which is expected to be dominated by senior lawmakers from both Houses close to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.

White House officials are expected to be close to the talks; Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, Budget Director Peter Orszag and top health care adviser Nancy-Ann DeParle have all been frequent visitors to the Capitol in recent weeks to discuss strategy.

Many major points in both bills are roughly the same. Insurers would be barred from denying coverage because of pre-existing conditions. Nearly everyone would have to obtain coverage in four or five years. New exchanges, or marketplaces, would be created to help consumers shop for policies.

But there are sharp divisions over abortion, taxes and the public option...

Taxes also loom as a vexing issue. The Senate bill raises money by increasing the Medicare tax, now 1.45 percent, by 0.9 percentage points on individuals with wages of more than $200,000 and couples earning over $250,000. It also would impose a 40 percent excise tax on most high-end expensive insurance policies.

Many House Democrats, as well as some labor union officials, see the excise tax as a burden on the middle class, and prefer a 5.4 percent income tax surcharge, starting in 2011, on individuals with adjusted gross incomes of more than $500,000 and joint filers making more than $1 million.

What once seemed to be the biggest fight, though, the public option, may be cooling.

The House version would create a government-run plan to compete with the private sector, an idea the White House, Democratic leaders and liberals have all sought. And while that idea has strong Senate Democratic support, it lacks the backing of a handful of party moderates --enough to deny Reid the 60 votes he would need to cut off extended debate.

As a result, the version now before the Senate would allow national, privately run plans, at least one of which must be nonprofit, to be supervised by the federal Office of Personnel Management...