Monthly Archives: November 2013
This gets creepy and goes way beyond “surveillance.”
“The federal government is remotely activating the microphones and cameras in Android smartphones and Windows laptops, according to a report published by the Wall Street Journal.
Citing a “former US official,” the Journal says court documents reveal that that the FBI is using a variety of “hacking” tools to ramp up the scope of the surveillance of millions of Americans, keeping many unwittingly under the watchful eye of Washington.
When contacted by The New American, a media spokesperson for Google had no comment.
One of the Journal’s anonymous sources described a part of the FBI called the “Remote Operations Unit.” Agents in this specialized unit prefer, if possible, to install the remote control software by uploading to the target’s computer using a USB flash drive. When the g-men-come-hackers can’t get access to the target’s computer, they install the surveillance software over the Internet “using a document or link that loads software when the person clicks or views it.”
Readers should understand that it is not only possible for the federal government to listen to your conversations using the microphone in your Android smartphone and watch you while you…….., ……,……,….”Comments »
“One of the most powerful myths about Bitcoin — the encrypted, independent online currency that’s become a huge trend in recent months — is that Bitcoin is “secure.”
Bitcoin.org, the semi-official voice of the Bitcoin community, says “the whole system is protected by heavily peer-reviewed cryptographic algorithms like those used for online banking. No organization or individual can control Bitcoin, and the network remains secure even if not all of its users can be trusted.”
But Bitcoin is not secure.
There have been dozens of robberies of Bitcoin banks and exchanges, and millions of dollars have been lost.
To put that in perspective, if robbers were routinely walking into brick-and-mortar banks and taking millions of dollars, with zero consequences and no arrests, it would make huge headlines every day. The media would be on high alert for the next heist.
But on the Internet, Bitcoin thefts worth hundreds of thousands and millions of dollars happen on a weekly basis and no one cares….”Comments »
“Data reveal that billions of American taxpayer dollars continue to fund questionable or openly corrupt contractors in Afghanistan. The findings underscore the inability of the American military to filter suspicious contractors from the thousands who work with the United States on a regular basis to build bases and transport supplies.
The New York Times reported that American investigators uncovered data surrounding the Zurmat Material Testing Laboratory, affiliated with the Zurmat Group, an Afghan company that “investigators say was paid to do work at an American-controlled facility in November 2012, despite having been blacklisted two months before by one part of the military for providing bomb-making materials to insurgents.”
This was brought to the attention of Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel by the special inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction in a letter last week.
The New York Times wrote:
According to other documents and a review of internal Pentagon communications obtained by The Times, the United States Central Command, which oversees the war in Afghanistan, requested in 2012 that Zurmat and its subsidiaries, along with more than 40 other companies and individuals believed to have ties to insurgents, be “debarred” by the Army. This would formally ban them from doing work for any part of the United States government.
At the time, officials estimated that those contractors had collectively been awarded more than $150 million in work for the American-led coalition over a 10-year period.
Pentagon officials have reportedly refused to issue the bans, however, because they assert that they cannot present evidence against the companies and individuals since much of it qualifies as “classified intelligence.” Without being able to show the accused the necessary documents, debarment allegedly violates their right to due process…..”Comments »
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“In my last column I emphasized that it was important for American citizens to demand to know what the real agendas are behind the wars of choice by the Bush and Obama regimes. These are major long term wars each lasting two to three times as long as World War II. Forbes reports that one million US soldiers have been injured in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. RT reports that the cost of keeping each US soldier in Afghanistan has risen from $1.3 million per soldier to $2.1 million per soldier. Matthew J. Nasuti reports in the Kabul Press that it cost US taxpayers $50 million to kill one Taliban soldier. That means it cost $1 billion to kill 20 Taliban fighters. This is a war that can be won only at the cost of the total bankruptcy of the United States.
Joseph Stiglitz and Linda Bilmes have estimated that the current out-of-pocket and already incurred future costs of the Afghan and Iraq wars is at least $6 trillion.
In other words, it is the cost of these two wars that explain the explosion of the US public debt and the economic and political problems associated with this large debt.
What has America gained in return for $6 trillion and one million injured soldiers, many very severely?
In Iraq there is now an Islamist Shia regime allied with Iran in place of a secular Sunni regime that was an enemy of Iran, one as dictatorial as the other, presiding over war ruins, ongoing violence as high as during the attempted US occupation, and extraordinary birth defects from the toxic substances associated with the US invasion and occupation.
In Afghanistan there is an undefeated and apparently undefeatable Taliban and a revived drug trade that is flooding the Western world with drugs.
The icing on these Bush and Obama “successes” are demands from around the world that Americans and former British PM Tony Blair be held accountable for their war crimes. Certainly, Washington’s reputation has plummeted as a result of these two wars. No governments anywhere are any longer sufficiently gullible as to believe anything that Washington says.
These are huge costs for wars for which we have no explanation.
The Bush/Obama regimes have come up with various cover stories: a “war on terror,”
“we have to kill them over there before they come over here,” “weapons of mass destruction,” revenge for 9/11, Osama bin Laden (who died of his illnesses in December 2001 as was widely reported at the time).
None of these explanations are viable. Neither the Taliban nor Saddam Hussein were engaged in terrorism in the US. As the weapons inspectors informed the Bush regime, there were no WMD in Iraq. Invading Muslim countries and slaughtering civilians is more likely to create terrorists than to suppress them. According to the official story, the 9/11 hijackers and Osama bin Laden were Saudi Arabians, not Afghans or Iraqis. Yet it wasn’t Saudi Arabia that was invaded.
Democracy and accountable government simply does not exist when the executive branch can take a country to wars in behalf of secret agendas operating behind cover stories that are transparent lies.
It is just as important to ask these same questions about the agenda of the US police state. Why have Bush and Obama removed the protection of law as a shield of the people and turned law into a weapon in the hands of the executive branch?….”Comments »
Hidden taxes are everywhere to pay for God knows what….
“Franklin Lakes, New Jersey (My9NJ) –
The Affordable Care Act or Obamacare seems to be in the headlines every day because of all of the problems surrounding the launch. And while most realize the law is funded in part by the individual mandate and penalty tax, it is also being funded in ways that are not discussed as much in the media.
Luxury real estate broker Ron Aioso says there is a tax that is rarely discussed that also helps fund Obamacare. It is a tax on high-income taxpayers when they sell their homes.
Franklin Lakes, N.J. was listed on Forbes.com in 2010 as one of “America’s Most Expensive ZIP Codes”, with a median home price of $1.3M.
Aioso says homeowners in a neighborhood like this could really be impacted by the Obamacare tax.
“Where we are today in a luxury area, you look and you see this home behind me, somebody like this is really affected,” he said.
If you are single with an adjusted gross income of $200,000 or file jointly with an income of $250,000 or more, you may be impacted. Once you sell your home, any profits over the first $500,000 are already subject to a capital gains tax. And now those profits will have an additional 3.8% tax to fund Obamacare…..”Comments »
Quantum physics proves that there IS an afterlife, claims scientist
- Robert Lanza claims the theory of biocentrism says death is an illusion
- He said life creates the universe, and not the other way round
- This means space and time don’t exist in the linear fashion we think it does
- He uses the famous double-split experiment to illustrate his point
- And if space and time aren’t linear, then death can’t exist in ‘any real sense’ either
Most scientists would probably say that the concept of an afterlife is either nonsense, or at the very least unprovable.
Yet one expert claims he has evidence to confirm an existence beyond the grave – and it lies in quantum physics.
Professor Robert Lanza claims the theory of biocentrism teaches that death as we know it is an illusion created by our consciousness.
‘We think life is just the activity of carbon and an admixture of molecules – we live a while and then rot into the ground,’ said the scientist on his website.
Lanza, from Wake Forest University School of Medicine in North Carolina, continued that as humans we believe in death because ‘we’ve been taught we die’, or more specifically, our consciousness associates life with bodies and we know that bodies die….”
“On November 13, WikiLeaks released to the Internet what appears to be a portion of the secretly negotiated draft version of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement.
Although the entire agreement reportedly runs over 1,000 pages and covers nearly every conceivable facet of commerce, the chapter leaked by the online whistleblower focuses on intellectual property rights (IPR). The publication of this section is widely considered a remarkable and timely coup, however, in light of the “decisive” meeting of the TPP chief negotiators that will take place from November 19-24 in Salt Lake City, Utah.
In a press release announcing its publication of this key section of the TPP agreement, WikiLeaks described the Intellectual Property provisions as “the most controversial chapter of the TPP.” This chapter deserves that designation because of its substantial effect on so many aspects of American trade and industry, including, as WikiLeaks points out, what would be irreparable harm to “medicines, publishers, internet services, civil liberties and biological patents.”
Other copyright and Internet freedom activists are responding in similar manner to the content of the WikiLeaks TPP revelation. A good number of commentators are pointing to the SOPA-like provisions contained in the IPR chapter now available to the public.
SOPA is an acronym for the controversial Stop Online Piracy Act, legislation that has failed repeatedly to pass in Congress. The name of the bill, like so many other inappropriately named federal follies (Affordable Care Act?), has nothing to do with the real intent: granting government control over the content and traffic on the Internet.
In an article reporting on the leak of the IPR chapter, Internet freedom and fair copyright advocate TorrentFreak points out the SOPA similarities in the TPP intellectual property chapter:
Burcu Kilic, an intellectual property lawyer with Public Citizen, says that some of the proposals in the text evoke memories of the controversial SOPA legislation in the United States.
“The WikiLeaks text also features Hollywood and recording industry inspired proposals — think about the SOPA debacle — to limit Internet freedom and access to educational materials, to force Internet providers to act as copyright enforcers and to cut off people’s Internet access,” Kilic says.
Popular online tech magazine The Verge recognized the potential harm, as well:
Critics have wasted no time in attacking the treaty, with IP reform group Knowledge Ecology International calling it “bad for access to knowledge, bad for access to medicine, and profoundly bad for innovation.” Many of the criticisms focus on the treaty’s “enforcement” section, which includes language that critics say mirrors similar provisions from America’s controversial SOPA and ACTA bills. That includes provisions that would extend copyright to temporary copies of media, and others that place the burden of enforcement specifically on local ISPs, which critics say would further establish ISPs as a de facto copyright police. Other provisions would increase the software controls on consumer hardware. “The anti-circumvention provisions seem to cement the worst parts of the anti-phone-unlocking law that we saw this summer,” says Matt Wood, policy director at Free Press. “We can’t change the US law if we’re locked into these international agreements.”
The piece by The Verge references another failed legislative effort to seize control of the Internet, a bill that would abolish Internet freedom and intellectual property rights: the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA). ACTA-like provisions appear in the leaked TPP chapter.
This section of the draft agreement launches another attack on U.S. sovereignty through the mandate that member nations enact regulations requiring Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to privately enforce copyright protection laws.
These private companies — many of which are very small — would be forced to take upon themselves the responsibility of patrolling for and punishing any violation of the copyright laws by their subscribers.
Current U.S. law — specifically the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) — would be supplanted by TPP Article 16.3. This provision in the TPP draft document paves the way for a new copyright enforcement scheme that extends far beyond the limits currently imposed by DMCA. In fact, it contains mandates more expansive than even those contained in ACTA.
ACTA is widely regarded as a threat to Internet freedom, as well as to the legislative power of the Congress. If ACTA is a threat, then TPP is an all-out frontal assault.
Regardless of the flaws of the DMCA, it is U.S. law and should not be subject to de facto repeal by the work of a body of internationalists who are not accountable to citizens of the United States.
Apart from the issues of sovereignty, putting such pressure on service providers is a threat not only to the owners of these small businesses, but also to Internet freedom as well.
It is the good work of these ISPs that has created the Internet we know today. Were it not for the typically low-cost access these companies provide, the pool of readily accessible viewpoints, opinions, and news resources would be significantly shallower.
In a post-TPP world, ISPs would be forced to raise prices dramatically in order to cover the increase in their own overhead brought on by the requirement that they monitor and manage the websites they host.
Alternatively, there would undoubtedly be a large number of ISPs who would not only want to avoid the administrative burden of being forced into the role of Internet cop, but who would also rightly regard the risks of providing Internet access as outweighing the benefits.
A story published by the Electronic Frontier Foundation accurately describes the potential problems and predicts the future of the Internet should the United States agree to enter the TPP:
Private ISP enforcement of copyright poses a serious threat to free speech on the Internet, because it makes offering open platforms for user-generated content economically untenable. For example, on an ad-supported site, the costs of reviewing each post will generally exceed the pennies of revenue one might get from ads. Even obvious fair uses could become too risky to host, leading to an Internet with only cautious and conservative content.
As any news organization that maintains a Web presence knows, in the posting of news items, time is of the essence….”Comments »
“Janet Yellen says the economy has regained ground lost to the deepest recession since the 1930s. But she says unemployment remains too high at 7.3 percent and notes that the Fed is still trying to accelerate the economy’s recovery.
In testimony prepared for her confirmation hearing Thursday, Yellen said the economy is still performing far below its potential. And she pointed out that inflation is running below the Fed’s 2 percent target.
“For these reasons, the Federal Reserve is using its monetary policy tools to promote a more robust recovery,” Yellen said in her testimony. “I believe that supporting the recovery today is the surest path to returning to a more normal approach to monetary policy.”
She said unemployment is “still too high, reflecting a labor market and economy performing far short of their potential.”
Yellen offered no hints that she would deviate from the low-interest rate campaign of the outgoing chairman, Ben Bernake….”Comments »
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“President Obama has been accused of crimes against humanity in a new complaint submitted to the International Criminal Court, based in the Hague.
Obama’s support for Egypt’s recently deposed Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated governing party forms the basis of the complaint filed against him by a group of Egyptian lawyers.
“Obama cooperated, incited, and assisted the armed elements of the Muslim Brotherhood in the commission of crimes against humanity in the period from 3/7/2013-8/18/2013, in the Arab Republic of Egypt,” according to the complaint, which was reported on by Egypt’s El Watan newspaper.
Deposed Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohamed Morsi is on trial in Cairo for alleged incitement to violence and murder. After a tense opening day in court this past Monday, the trial has been adjourned until January. Morsi was removed in a July 3 military coup.
To his credit, Morsi has pulled the classic move of not retaining defense counsel because he doesn’t recognize the legitimacy of the court — which is totally what we would do if we ever got tried in one of these things….”Comments »
“As the end of 2013 approaches, so does President Obama’s deadline for approving the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).
The TPP is a direct and deadly attack on sovereignty and representative government masquerading as a Pacific Rim trade pact.
Currently, there are 12 countries negotiating in secret to create this regional trade agreement that some have called NAFTA on steroids. The number of participants could rise to a baker’s dozen should China be welcomed on board by the United States (President Obama has signaled that he would recognize the Chinese communist government’s partnership in the bloc).
President Obama’s fascination with intertwining the economic welfare of the United States with China is perhaps one reason a recent commentator called the TPP “another disaster from a proven liar.”
Writing in an op-ed for the Washington Times, Judson Phillips lists several of the principal criticisms of the TPP:
Barack Obama is asking for fast track authority for the Trans Pacific Partnership. Consider that to be another version of “you have to pass this to see what is in it.” With fast track authority, there will be no hearings on this treaty. It will be negotiated then sent to the Senate for a simple up or down vote. The Senate will not be able to provide advice and consent because they cannot offer amendments under fast track.
Less than one fifth of the Trans Pacific Partnership deals with trade. The remainder of the treaty governs a myriad of things, including regulating the price of medicines. A few months ago, a mix of conservative and liberal groups stopped the “Stop Online Piracy Act” or SOPA. Most of the provisions of SOPA are included in the Trans Pacific Partnership.
Under the proposals of the TPP, American sovereignty would be eroded. American courts would be inferior to foreign trade courts and disputes between American citizens and foreign corporations would not be litigated in American courts but in these trade tribunals.
The TPP is guilty of each of those charges, and the evidence is overwhelming.
Perhaps the most disturbing aspect of all the roster of frightening things about the TPP is the secrecy surrounding the details of the agreement.
A few federal lawmakers have tried in vain to bring into the light the frightening compromises being made by our trade representatives at the TPP negotiations.
Zach Carter of the online Huffington Post reported that Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee’s Subcommittee on International Trade, Customs and Global Competitiveness, was stonewalled by the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) when he attempted to see any of the draft documents related to the governance of the TPP.
In response to this rebuff, Wyden proposed a measure in the Senate that would force transparency on the process, and that was enough to convince the USTR to grant the senator a peek at the documents, though his staff was not permitted to peruse them.
Wyden spokeswoman Jennifer Hoelzer told the Huffington Post that such accommodations were “better than nothing” but not ideal in light of the well-known fact that on Capitol Hill the real work of drafting and evaluating legislation is performed by the representatives’ staff members who are often experts in particular areas of domestic and foreign policy.
“I would point out how insulting it is for them to argue that members of Congress are to personally go over to USTR to view the trade documents,” Hoelzer said. “An advisor at Halliburton or the MPAA is given a password that allows him or her to go on the USTR website and view the TPP agreement anytime he or she wants.”
It is instructive that a duly elected senator of the United States has to beg and plead and threaten legislation in order to see the TPP trade agreement negotiations, but corporate interests are given a password by the USTR that grants them full, unrestricted access to those same documents.
U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) issued a statement criticizing the Obama administration for the lack of oversight into an agreement with devastating potential:
After more than a decade of broken promises from NAFTA, CAFTA, and normalized trade relations with China, we can now add a credibility deficit to the trade deficits we’ve seen. The leaked documents surfacing today only underscore the secrecy surrounding TPP negotiations and confirm worst suspicions about the direction trade negotiations are heading. It’s telling that it is easier for the CEO of a major corporation to access information about the negotiations than the American people’s elected representatives.
The negotiations must involve more transparency and bring more voices to the table.
Apart from the secrecy, a few drafts of key provisions of the TPP have been leaked to the Internet. One thing all the leaks reveal is that large corporations would be allowed to assume powers that constitutionally belong to Congress and to the states.
Notably, in both statements announcing the hemispheric enlargement of the trade bloc, former U.S. Trade Representative Kirk places the approval of “domestic stakeholders” (read: large corporations) on a level with that of Congress. It is precisely this exalting of big business, as well as the as-yet-impenetrable wall of secrecy surrounding the drafting of the TPP treaty, that has troubled many of the people’s representatives in Congress.
Although the treaty negotiations are being kept under a thick veil of secrecy, a draft document leaked to the Internet discloses that as part of its membership in the TPP, the United States would agree to exempt foreign corporations from our laws and regulations, placing the resolution of any disputes as to the applicability of those matters to foreign business in the hands of an international arbitration tribunal overseen by the secretary-general of the United Nations.
The leaked information also confirms the fears of many who from the beginning have opposed the entry of the United States into this trade agreement. The alarms sounded by several groups on the Left and the Right warning of the wholesale damage that the TPP could cause to commerce, copyrights, and the Constitution now seem vindicated.
An organization actively protecting the sovereignty of the United States is Americans for Limited Government (ALG). In June 2012, ALG released a statement drawing attention to critical provisions of the leaked TPP agreement, as well as ably pointing out some of the most noxious aspects of the proposed agreement…”Comments »
“Andrew Huszar, who managed the beginning of the Federal Reserve’s bond-buying program in 2009 and 2010, has two things to say.
First, “I’m sorry, America,” he writes in The Wall Street Journal.
Second, the program is a failure.
“The central bank continues to spin QE [quantitative easing] as a tool for helping Main Street,” says Huszar, now a senior fellow at Rutgers Business School. “But I’ve come to recognize the program for what it really is: the greatest backdoor Wall Street bailout of all time.”
QE has turned into the largest financial market intervention by any central bank in history, he says. And all the Fed has to show for this is a modest addition to economic growth.
“QE isn’t really working, unless you’re Wall Street,” he adds. Thanks to government subsidies, banks have seen their share prices as a whole triple since March 2009.
“As for the rest of America, good luck,” Huszar quips…..”Comments »
This would eventually force a single payer system….no?
“During testimony this past week on Capitol Hill, Health and Human Services Secretary dropped a bombshell. Being grilled about Barack Obama’s lie regarding people being able to keep their insurance plans and doctors, Sebelius also said that with the grandfathering process comes certain caveats, which means that the existing plans would have to meet the new standards or they would be cancelled. She then went on to say, “Employer based grandfathered plans will have the same caveats.”
Barack Obama has tried to pull a fast one and snuck in a two letter word into his lie, “if.” “What we said was: You could keep it if it hasn’t changed since the law passed,” Obama said.
He immediately moved from that lie to another one, saying “The bottom line is we are making the insurance market better for everybody.”
obamacare_13509No, they are not. They are attempting to move to a single payer system and this fiasco is the stepping stone to that goal. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) told us that.
Obama has been lying all along…”
“For years star investor Jim Rogers, chairman of Rogers Holdings, has been ripping the Federal Reserve and other central banks for their massive easing programs. He sees no reason to feel differently now.
“This is absolute insanity, what’s going on,” he told Reuters TV.
“It’s not just the Fed, it’s central banking. This is the first time in recorded history that all major central banks are printing a lot of money trying to debase their currencies. The world’s floating around on a huge artificial sea of liquidity.”
The European Central Bank cut its benchmark interest rate to a record low Thursday.
And what’s the end game?
Eventually, Rogers asserts, “it’s going to dry up. And when it dries up, we’re all going to pay the price for this madness.”
He doesn’t expect the Fed to taper its quantitative easing anytime soon. The central bank is buying $85 billion of Treasurys and mortgage-backed securities a month.
“Mr. Bernanke’s certainly not going to do it. He wants to get out while he can before it all falls apart,” Rogers said. Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke’s term ends Jan. 31. President Barack Obama has nominated Fed Vice Chair Janet Yellen to replace him.
“Mrs. Yellen undoubtedly will not do anything at first because she knows – I hope she knows – that this is going to cause problems when they stop producing so much money,” Rogers said.
“So I would suspect they will go home for a while—maybe [until] 2015.”
And what’s going to happen when the Fed finally shifts policy? “The markets are going to react and react pretty badly, and then they’ll probably loosen up again,” Rogers said.
“These are not very smart people. They’re government bureaucrats, and they think like government bureaucrats.”
So what should investors focus on next year?
“All you have to do is watch the central banks of the world, because if they’re all going to continue to print money, then a lot of it’s going to wind up in financial markets,” Rogers said. “That’s the most important thing that’s going on in the world right now.”
Rogers has been bullish on China for years and remains that way….”Comments »