Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Wednesday 11-30-11

It is all about them controlling you, when they don't have control, they get mad and upset, the first thing they do to try and bring you back into line is to scare you, then they will over regulate it.

More kids skip school shots in 8 states

More parents are opting out of school shots for their kids. In eight states now, more than 1 in 20 public school kindergartners aren't getting all the vaccines required for attendance, an Associated Press analysis found.

That growing trend among parents seeking vaccine exemptions has health officials worried about outbreaks of diseases that once were all but stamped out.

The AP analysis found more than half of states have seen at least a slight rise in the rate of exemptions over the past five years. States with the highest exemption rates are in the West and Upper Midwest.

Did not realise we were that close to the ban, a good reminder. They put stuff off for years so they don't have to be accountable

EDITORIAL: Time to stock up on light bulbs

Within four weeks, it will be a crime to manufacture a 100-watt version of Thomas A. Edison’s brilliant invention. Thanks to a Democratic Congress and the signature of President George W. Bush in 2007, anti-industrial zealots at the Energy Department received authority to blot out one of the greatest achievements of the industrial age. They’re coming for our light bulbs.

Know-it-all bureaucrats insist that foisting millions of mercury-laden fluorescent tubes on the public is going to be good for the planet. The public obviously does not agree. Voting with their wallets, people have overwhelming favored warm, nontoxic lighting options over their pale curlicue imitators. Beginning Jan. 1, Obama administration extremists will impose massive financial penalties on any company daring to produce a lighting product that fully satisfies ordinary Americans.

The Republican House hasn’t done enough to stop this. Rep. Michael C. Burgess, Texas Republican, added language to the Energy and Water Appropriations bill to prohibit the ban’s implementation. A Senate committee deleted this sensible amendment in September, and it’s been quite a while since Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has allowed an up-or-down vote on a funding bill.

“This was bad policy in 2007 and worse policy in 2011, especially considering Congress‘ awareness of the American people’s opposition,” Mr. Burgess told The Washington Times. “Harry Reid has literally removed Americans’ choice over what to put in their own homes. This issue is too important to our core values as Americans not to pursue.”

Unfortunately, the Republican leadership hasn’t made this a priority. Many in the GOP remain cowed by the fraudulent claim that these are just harmless “energy standards” and opposing them would be a crime against the environment. The reality is that this ban is yet another example of the sort of job-destroying regulations that enrich the administration’s friends at the expense of consumers. Specifically, the rules turn a 50-cent light bulb into a purchase of $3 or more.

Rampaging bureaucrats aren’t just satisfied with foisting inferior light bulbs on the public. The Energy Department uses the force of the federal government to redesign an entire suite of consumer products to meet their personal preferences. In nearly every case, their meddling makes things worse. Current regulations micromanage the function of ceiling fans, clothes washers, dehumidifiers, dishwashers, faucets, freezers, furnaces, heat pumps, lamps, pool heaters, power supplies, refrigerators, room air conditioners, shower heads, stoves, toilets and water heaters. Enough is enough.

All of this is entirely unnecessary. The public is more than capable of encouraging the development of efficient products. House Republicans need to force a repeal of the light-bulb ban into the final budget deal so people will know each time they throw a light switch that their representatives see their concerns.

Three Smart Things About Gun Silencers

1.They were once sold in hardware stores. The first commercially successful product was patented by MIT grad Hiram Percy Maxim in 1909. Marketed as a gentlemanly way to shoot, silencers were widely used in the 1920s and ’30s. One ad portrayed a well-dressed marksman firing at a target in his living room fireplace while a dog lounged at his feet.

2.Affectionately known as “cans,” silencers are metal cylinders lined with internal baffles that channel expanding gas from the gun blast into hollow chambers, reducing its velocity as it leaves the muzzle. This can cut noise by as much as 40 dB.

3.They’re legal in 39 states and fairly easy to buy. You have to pay a $200 tax, fill out some ATF paperwork, and wait a few months, but that’s about it. The $200 fee was instituted in 1934 to discourage the use of silencers, but it has never been adjusted for inflation and is now little deterrent for most people.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Tuesday 11-29-11

Will they tell us what we can think next?

EPA targets families that generate heat off the grid using traditional wood-burning stoves

Traditional wood-burning stoves are still one of the most cost-efficient, sustainable, and renewable sources of energy production that families can use to heat their homes. But the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is not a huge fan of them, as was evidenced by its recent decision to push those who use traditional models to convert to EPA-approved -- and oftentimes much more expensive -- alternative models.

Throughout history, civilizations have relied on the burning of wood to cook food, warm water, and heat places of dwelling. After all, trees are an abundant and renewable source of wood, which means that the costs associated with obtaining energy and heat from burning wood are minimal. This, of course, is why many cash-strapped folks today are turning to wood-burning stoves rather than their local utilities.

But the EPA is now expressing concern about the 80 percent-or-so of wood stove users that still rely on non-EPA approved models. Most of the wood stoves manufactured before 1990 do not contain the EPA's certification stamp of approval which, in the eyes of the agency, means they are an unnecessary contributor of excess environmental pollution.

This is debatable, of course, as EPA-approved models can still emit excess smoke just like the others, and may not necessarily provide any pollution-reducing benefits at all. Because of their altered designs, many of the new EPA-approved models do not work as well as the older models, either, especially when used in severely-cold weather (

Most wood-burning stove companies in the US actually went out of business shortly after the EPA established its original certification requirements for wood stoves back in the 1990s. Many of the companies simply could not develop a complying product that actually worked. Today, the EPA is once again revisiting these New Source Performance Standards (NSPS) guidelines in order to push even more people away from the old stoves.

At the same time, EPA spokeswoman Alison Davis recently tried to whitewash the agency's position against wood stoves by claiming that the EPA is "not in the business of telling people how to heat their homes." No, it is actually in the business of restricting the types of wood stoves manufacturers are allowed to produce and sell, which ultimately does tell people how to heat their homes by robbing them of their freedom of choice.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Monday 11-28-11

Small overdoses of Tylenol can be dangerous

If you take Tylenol, you need to know that taking even a little bit more than you're supposed to can have serious consequences.

British researchers say staggered overdoses of acetaminophen, the active ingredient in Tylenol, can be even more dangerous than overdoses taken all at once. That's because it's not always as obvious to doctors what happened, and people might wait longer to go to the hospital.

Acetaminophen can damage the liver when taken too often or in high doses, and the researchers say it's the leading cause of acute liver failure in North America and Europe.

The researchers defined an overdose as taking more than 4,000 milligrams a day in the week before a patient came into the hospital. That would be more than eight Extra Strength Tylenol pills in 24 hours.

If a patient took the dose all at once, he was more likely to get the prompt treatment needed, avoiding a liver transplant or death.

The limit -- 4,000 mg -- is the same one the National Institutes of Health recommends for adults in the U.S. It's also what Tylenol recommends in its directions.

Children should take even less, but the exact amount depends on the child's age, so check the medicine's label for directions or talk to your child's doctor.

The NIH recommendations also suggest talking to your doctor about taking the drug if you drink three or more alcoholic beverages in a day.

Ohio puts 200-pound third-grader in foster care

An Ohio third-grader who weighs more than 200 pounds has been taken from his family and placed into foster care after county social workers said his mother wasn't doing enough to control his weight.

The Plain Dealer reports ( ) that the Cleveland 8-year-old is considered severely obese and at risk for such diseases as diabetes and hypertension.

The case is the first state officials can recall of a child being put in foster care strictly for a weight-related issue.

Lawyers for the mother say the county overreached when authorities took the boy last week. They say the medical problems he is at risk for do not yet pose an imminent danger.

A spokeswoman says the county removed the child because caseworkers saw his mother's inability to reduce his weight as medical neglect.

The leader of a State has the responsibility to follow the laws of that State, he should follow the laws of the State he heads or not have run for office.

Death row inmate Gary Haugen now criticizes governor for giving him a reprieve

A condemned inmate who was scheduled to be executed next month is now slamming Gov. John Kitzhaber for giving him a reprieve, saying the governor didn't have the guts to carry out the execution.

Two-time murderer Gary Haugen had voluntarily given up his legal challenges, saying he wants to be executed in protest of a criminal justice system he views as broken. But Kitzhaber on Tuesday said he won't allow anyone to be executed while he is in office, calling Oregon's death penalty scheme "compromised and inequitable."

But in a telephone interview with the Statesman Journal on Friday, Haugen mocked Kitzhaber.

"I feel he's a paper cowboy," he said. "He couldn't pull the trigger."

Haugen's criticism reverses his earlier praise of Kitzhaber's decision during an interview with The Oregonian. He told the Portland newspaper that Kitzhaber cited some of the same criticism of the death penalty that Haugen has raised.

After further reflection, Haugen said he came to the conclusion that the governor "basically pulled a coward's move" by acting on his personal beliefs instead of carrying out the will of Oregon voters, who reinstated the death penalty in 1984.

The Oregonian’s continuing coverage of Gary Haugen, an Oregon death row prisoner, who wants to initiate the execution process.Haugen said he learned of the reprieve when he was summoned from an outdoor exercise break at the state penitentiary and allowed to read the governor's statement.

Kitzhaber called Oregon's death penalty system "a perversion of justice," saying the state only executes people who volunteer. Since capital punishment was legalized 27 years ago, only two people have been executed. Both of them, like Haugen, waived their legal challenges.

Kitzhaber encouraged "all Oregonians to engage in the long overdue debate that this important issue deserves" and said he would ask lawmakers to consider potential reforms during the 2013 legislative session.

The 49-year-old inmate said he plans to ask lawyers about possible legal action to fight Kitzhaber's temporary reprieve, which lasts until the governor leaves office. A Marion County judge had twice signed a death warrant ordering Haugen's execution. The first was reversed when the state Supreme Court intervened; the second was overruled by Kitzhaber two weeks before the Dec. 6 execution.

"I'm going to have to get with some serious legal experts and figure out really if he can do this," Haugen said. "I think there's got to be some constitutional violations. Man, this is definitely cruel and unusual punishment. You don't bring a guy to the table twice and then just stop it."

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Sunday 11-27-11

What great testimony, i should be better then i am.

Tim Tebow responds to Jake Plummer's comments on his faith

A day after former Broncos QB Jake Plummer said in a radio interview that he wished the man currently taking the snaps in Denver, Tim Tebow, would curb his references to Jesus Christ and his faith, Tebow responded.QB Tim Tebow could have the Broncos in first place by the end of Week 12.

Asked about Plummer's remarks in an interview on ESPN's First Take, Tebow said:

"If you're married, and you have a wife, and you really love your wife, is it good enough to only say to your wife 'I love her' the day you get married? Or should you tell her every single day when you wake up and every opportunity?

"And that's how I feel about my relationship with Jesus Christ is that it is the most important thing in my life. So any time I get an opportunity to tell him that I love him or given an opportunity to shout him out on national TV, I'm gonna take that opportunity. And so I look at it as a relationship that I have with him that I want to give him the honor and glory anytime I have the opportunity. And then right after I give him the honor and glory, I always try to give my teammates the honor and glory.

"And that's how it works because Christ comes first in my life, and then my family, and then my teammates. I respect Jake's opinion, and I really appreciate his compliment of calling me a winner. But I feel like anytime I get the opportunity to give the Lord some praise, he is due for it."

Plummer had this to say Monday on XTRA Sports 910 in Phoenix:

"Tebow, regardless of whether I wish he'd just shut up after a game and go hug his teammates, I think he's a winner and I respect that about him. I think that when he accepts the fact that we know that he loves Jesus Christ, then I think I'll like him a little better. I don't hate him because of that, I just would rather not have to hear that every single time he takes a good snap or makes a good handoff.

"Like you know, I understand dude where you're coming from ... but he is a baller."

Asked by ESPN's Skip Bayless if God makes him a better football player, Tebow would only grant that his faith gives him peace and comfort on the field.

Before the interview began, Bayless blasted Broncos executive vice president of football operations John Elway for not supporting his young quarterback, who has gone 4-1 this season since being installed as the starter.

During a radio interview in Denver on Monday, Elway would not commit to Tebow as the team's long-term starter, saying: "When you look at our third-down numbers, those have to improve. ... The bottom line is we can't go 3-for-13 and win a world championship."

Elway was hired during the offseason to reverse the team's recent struggles and inherited Tebow, who was drafted by former coach Josh McDaniels. According to The Denver Post, Elway has been actively scouting quarterbacks in advance of the 2012 draft, including Baylor's Robert Griffin III and Oklahoma's Landry Jones.

Tebow declined to get caught up in any perceived slights from the organization, saying he remains thrilled by having the opportunity to start and play in the NFL.

Controversial “anti-Semitic” vodka billboard taken down in NYC

A billboard for Wodka vodka in NYC has been taken down and destroyed after complaints that the advertisement's message is anti-Semitic. The New York Times reported that the billboard featured a long-haired dog wearing a yarmulke and another dog wearing a Santa hat with the words, "Christmas quality, Hanukkah pricing," alongside the photo.

The backlash against the billboard was nearly instantaneous. Ron Meier, regional director of the Anti-Defamation League, called it "crude and offensive."

"To use the Jewish holiday in dealing with issues of money is clearly insensitive and inappropriate," Meier told the paper.

Brian Gordon, head of MMG, the advertising company behind the billboard, said the billboard's message was not intended to be offensive. "We thought people would perceive it as 'ha ha quirky.' But people perceived it as offensive, and because of that, we pulled it." Mr. Gordon, according to the Times, was "quick to point out" that he also is Jewish.

Wodka was quick to formally apologize as well, offering this explanation via its Twitter account:

"Although rarely serious, we apologize to anyone we may have offended through our holiday campaign and are removing our billboard immediately."

However, Gawker dug deeper into Wodka's Twitter account, quickly finding more questionable images:

[O]n the company Twitter you can find a picture of the "Jewish" dog posing with Jonathan Cheban in a different ad. There's also this sheep wearing a sombrero standing near a Wodka bottle, and a "black Russian"—a black man wearing one of those fuzzy Russian hats.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Saturday 11-26-11

This was sent to me as an email attachemnet from a friend, he asked me to give this some thought as we enter the third year of the presidents term, can America afford a 2nd term?

I guess this would fall under political junk, but i kind of believe her explaination

Russian newsreader fired after Obama middle finger insult

Online footage of the incident involving news anchor Tatyana Limanova went viral in both Russia and the West causing REN TV, her employer, huge embarrassment.

To broadcast bosses' horror, Ms Limanova was caught mechanically raising her left arm and showing the camera her raised middle finger after referencing US President Barack Obama.

REN TV, a privately owned channel controlled by associates of Vladimir Putin, the prime minister, said on Thursday it had decided to take her off air calling her actions "unacceptable" and "unprofessional".

"On 14 November during the 'News 24' programme the presenter Limanova made an unacceptable gesture that was a synonym for an offensive expression," it said in a statement.

The channel, which is broadcast to 120 million people, claimed the gesture was intended for her colleagues in the studio rather than for President Obama.

"It had no subtext and was not linked with the news that Limanova was reading at that moment," it said.

Nonetheless, it said it had been left with no choice but to fire her.

"A decision has been taken that T Limanova cannot and will not continue to work on the REN TV channel as a presenter," it said.

Sources close to the channel had previously tried to defuse the row by claiming that the newsreader had believed she was off camera at the time and merely providing a voice-over for a report. She had raised her middle finger as a jokey retort to studio technicians who had been trying to put her off her stride, they said.

No excuse on this one, some should be fired, it seems Russioan have more character the americans?

NBC apologizes to Bachmann for Fallon song choice

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - GOP Presidential candidate Michele Bachmann received an apology from an NBC executive after an off-color song was played during her appearance on Jimmy Fallon's "Late Night," her spokeswoman said late Wednesday.

The Minnesota congresswoman received a personal letter from NBC's vice president for late night programming, Doug Vaughan, a day after she appeared on the show. As Bachmann walked onstage, the show's band had played a snippet of a 1985 Fishbone song entitled "Lyin' Ass B----."

Vaughan wrote that the incident was "not only unfortunate but also unacceptable," Bachmann spokeswoman Alice Stewart told The Associated Press. She said Vaughn offered his sincerest apologies and said the band had been "severely reprimanded."

Fallon also apologized to Bachmann when they spoke earlier Wednesday, she said. He'd tweeted earlier, saying he was "so sorry about the intro mess."

"He was extremely nice and friendly and offered his apology, and she accepted it," Stewart said, adding that the comedian said he was unaware the band planned to play the song. "It's just unfortunate that someone had to do something so disrespectful."

Bachmann lashed out earlier Wednesday at NBC for not apologizing or taking immediate disciplinary action. In her first comments on the flap, Bachmann said on the Fox News Channel that the Fallon show band displayed sexism and bias by playing the song.

"This is clearly a form of bias on the part of the Hollywood entertainment elite," Bachmann said. She added, "This wouldn't be tolerated if this was Michelle Obama. It shouldn't be tolerated if it's a conservative woman either."

She went further on a national radio conservative radio show hosted by Michael Medved, calling the incident "inappropriate, outrageous and disrespectful."

On Fox, Bachmann expressed surprise that she's heard nothing from the TV network. She suggested that discipline for the show's band, The Roots, was in order. She said she believed Fallon's comments to be sincere.

One of Bachmann's congressional colleagues, New York Democrat Nita Lowey, had called on NBC to apologize for its "insulting and inappropriate" treatment of its guest.

An NBC spokeswoman didn't return a phone message from The Associated Press.

The Roots' bandleader, Ahmir "Questlove" Thompson, has said the song was a "tongue-in-cheek and spur-of-the-moment decision."

Bachmann, who is lagging in presidential polls, has spent the week promoting her new autobiography in national television interviews.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Friday 11-25-11

It is always about punishing or spying on the honest citizen and not about catching and punishing the criminal. I disagree completely with the last quote in the article.

License plate readers: A useful tool for police comes with privacy concerns

An armed robber burst into a Northeast Washington market, scuffled with the cashier, and then shot him and the clerk’s father, who also owned the store. The killer sped off in a silver Pontiac, but a witness was able to write down the license plate number.

Police figured out the name of the suspect very quickly. But locating and arresting him took a little-known investigative tool: a vast system that tracks the comings and goings of anyone driving around the District.

Scores of cameras across the city capture 1,800 images a minute and download the information into a rapidly expanding archive that can pinpoint people’s movements all over town.

Police entered the suspect’s license plate number into that database and learned that the Pontiac was on a street in Southeast. Police soon arrested Christian Taylor, who had been staying at a friend’s home, and charged him with two counts of first-degree murder. His trial is set for January.

More than 250 cameras in the District and its suburbs scan license plates in real time, helping police pinpoint stolen cars and fleeing killers. But the program quietly has expanded beyond what anyone had imagined even a few years ago.

With virtually no public debate, police agencies have begun storing the information from the cameras, building databases that document the travels of millions of vehicles.

Nowhere is that more prevalent than in the District, which has more than one plate-reader per square mile, the highest concentration in the nation. Police in the Washington suburbs have dozens of them as well, and local agencies plan to add many more in coming months, creating a comprehensive dragnet that will include all the approaches into the District.

“It never stops,” said Capt. Kevin Reardon, who runs Arlington County’s plate reader program. “It just gobbles up tag information. One of the big questions is, what do we do with the information?”

Police departments are grappling with how long to store the information and how to balance privacy concerns against the value the data provide to investigators. The data are kept for three years in the District, two years in Alexandria, a year in Prince George’s County and a Maryland state database, and about a month in many other suburban areas.

“That’s quite a large database of innocent people’s comings and goings,” said Jay Stanley, senior policy analyst for the American Civil Liberties Union’s technology and liberty program. “The government has no business collecting that kind of information on people without a warrant.”

But police say the tag readers can give them a critical jump on a child abductor, information about when a vehicle left — or entered — a crime scene, and the ability to quickly identify a suspected terrorist’s vehicle as it speeds down the highway, perhaps to an intended target.

Having the technology during the Washington area sniper shootings in 2002 might have stopped the attacks sooner, detectives said, because police could have checked whether any particular car was showing up at each of the shooting sites.

“It’s a perfect example of how they’d be useful,” said Lt. T.J. Rogers, who is responsible for the 26 tag readers maintained by the Fairfax County police. “We see a lot of potential in it.”

The plate readers are different from red-light or speed cameras, which issue traffic tickets and are tools for deterrence and enforcement. The readers are an investigative tool, capturing a picture of every license plate that passes by and instantly analyzing them against a database filled with cars wanted by police.

Police can also plug any license plate number into the database and, as long as it passed a camera, determine where that vehicle has been and when. Detectives also can enter a be-on-the-lookout into the database, and the moment that license plate passes a detector, they get an alert.

It’s that precision and the growing ubiquity of the technology that has libertarians worried. In Northern Virginia recently, a man reported his wife missing, prompting police to enter her plate number into the system.

They got a hit at an apartment complex, and when they got there, officers spotted her car and a note on her windshield that said, in essence, “Don’t tow, I’m visiting apartment 3C.” Officers knocked on the door of that apartment, and she came out of the bedroom. They advised her to call her husband.

A new tool in the arsenal

Even though they are relatively new, the tag readers, which cost about $20,000 each, are now as widely used as other high-tech tools police employ to prevent and solve crimes, including surveillance cameras, gunshot recognition sensors and mobile finger­print scanners.

License plate readers can capture numbers across four lanes of traffic on cars zooming up to 150 mph.

“The new technology makes our job a lot easier and the bad guys’ job a lot harder,” said D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier.

The technology first was used by the postal service to sort letters. Units consist of two cameras — one that snaps digital photographs and another that uses an optical infrared sensor to decipher the numbers and letters. The camera captures a color image of the vehicle while the sensor “reads” the license plate and transfers the data to a computer.

When stored over time, the collected data can be used instantaneously or can help with complex analysis, such as whether a car appears to have been followed by another car or if cars are traveling in a convoy.

Police also have begun using them as a tool to prevent crime. By positioning them in nightclub parking lots, for example, police can collect information about who is there. If members of rival gangs appear at a club, police can send patrol cars there to squelch any flare-ups before they turn violent. After a crime, police can gather a list of potential witnesses in seconds.

“It’s such a valuable tool, it’s hard not to jump on it and explore all the things it can do for law enforcement,” said Kevin Davis, assistant chief of police in Prince George’s County.

The readers have been used across the country for several years, but the program is far more sophisticated in the Washington region. The District has 73 readers; 38 of them sit stationary and the rest are attached to police cars. D.C. officials say every police car will have one some day.

The District’s license plate cameras gather more than a million data points a month, and officers make an average of an arrest a day directly from the plate readers, said Tom Wilkins, executive director of the D.C. police department’s intelligence fusion division, which oversees the plate reader program. Between June and September, police found 51 stolen cars using the technology.

Police do not publicly disclose the locations of the readers. And while D.C. law requires that the footage on crime surveillance cameras be deleted after 10 days unless there’s an investigative reason to keep it, there are no laws governing how or when Washington area police can use the tag reader technology. The only rule is that it be used for law enforcement purposes.

“That’s typical with any emerging technology,” Wilkins said. “Even though it’s a tool we’ve had for five years, as it becomes more apparent and widely used and more relied upon, people will begin to scrutinize it.”

Legal concerns

Such scrutiny is happening now at the U.S. Supreme Court with a related technology: GPS surveillance. At issue is whether police can track an individual vehicle with an attached GPS device.

Orin Kerr, a law professor at George Washington University who has been closely watching the Supreme Court case, said the license plate technology probably would pass constitutional muster because there is no reasonable expectation of privacy on public streets.

But, Kerr said, the technology’s silent expansion has allowed the government to know things it couldn’t possibly know before and that the use of such massive amounts of data needs safeguards.

“It’s big brother, and the question is, is it big brother we want, or big brother that we don’t want?” Kerr said. “This technology could be used for good and it could be used for bad. I think we need a conversation about whether and how this technology is used. Who gets the information and when? How long before the information is deleted? All those questions need scrutiny.”

Should someone access the database for something other than a criminal investigation, they could track people doing legal but private things. Having a comprehensive database could mean government access to information about who attended a political event, visited a medical clinic, or went to Alcoholics Anonymous or Planned Parenthood.

Maryland and Virginia police departments are expanding their tag reader programs and by the end of the year expect to have every major entry and exit point to the District covered.

“We’re putting fixed sites up in the capital area,” said Sgt. Julio Valcarcel, who runs the Maryland State Police’s program, which now has 19 mobile units and one fixed unit along a major highway, capturing roughly 27 million reads per year. “Several sites are going online over the winter.”

Some jurisdictions store the information in a large networked database; others retain it only in the memory of each individual reader’s computer, then delete it after several weeks as new data overwrite it.

A George Mason University study last year found that 37 percent of large police agencies in the United States now use license plate reader technology and that a significant number of other agencies planned to have it by the end of 2011. But the survey found that fewer than 30 percent of the agencies using the tool had researched any legal implications.

There also has been scant legal precedent. In Takoma Park, police have two tag readers that they have been using for two years. Police Chief Ronald A. Ricucci said he was amazed at how quickly the units could find stolen cars. When his department first got them, he looked around at other departments to see what kind of rules and regulations they had.

“There wasn’t much,” Ricucci said. “A lot of people were using them and didn’t have policies on them yet.”

Finding stolen cars faster

The technology first came to the Washington region in 2004 as a pilot program. During an early test, members of the Washington Area Vehicle Enforcement Unit recovered eight cars, found 12 stolen license plates and made three arrests in a single shift. Prince George’s police bought several units to help combat the county’s crippling car theft and carjacking problem. It worked.

“We recover cars very quickly now. In previous times that was not the case,” said Prince George’s Capt. Edward Davey, who is in charge of the county’s program. “Before, they’d be dumped on the side of the road somewhere for a while.”

Now Prince George’s has 45 units and is likely to get more soon.

“The more we use them, the more we realize there’s a whole lot more on the investigative end of them,” Davey said. “We are starting to evolve. Investigators are starting to realize how to use them.”

Arlington police cars equipped with the readers regularly drive through the parking garage at the Pentagon City mall looking for stolen cars, checking hundreds of them in a matter of minutes as they cruise up and down the aisles. In Prince William County, where there are 12 mobile readers, the units have been used to locate missing people and recover stolen cars.

Unlike in the District, in most suburban jurisdictions, the units are only attached to police cars on patrol, and there aren’t enough of them to create a comprehensive net.

Virginia State Police have 42 units for the entire state, most of them focused on Northern Virginia, Richmond and the Tidewater area, and as of now have no fixed locations. There is also no central database, so each unit collects information on its own and compares it against a daily download of wanted vehicles from the FBI and the state.

But the state police are looking into fixed locations that could capture as many as 100 times more vehicles, 24 hours a day, with the potential to blanket the interstates.

“Now, we’re not getting everything — we’re fishing,” said Sgt. Robert Alessi, a 23-year veteran who runs the state police’s program. “Fixed cameras will help us use a net instead of one fishing pole with one line in the water waiting to get a nibble.”

Beyond the technology’s ability to track suspects and non-criminals alike, it has expanded beyond police work. Tax collectors in Arlington bought their own units and use the readers to help collect money owed to the county. Chesterfield County, in Virginia, uses a reader it purchased to collect millions of dollars in delinquent car taxes each year, comparing the cars on the road against the tax rolls.

Police across the region say that they are careful with the information and that they are entrusted with many pieces of sensitive information about citizens, including arrest records and Social Security numbers.

“If you’re not doing anything wrong, you’re not driving a stolen car, you’re not committing a crime,” Alessi said, “then you don’t have anything to worry about.”

Malls Track Shoppers with Cell Phone Surveillance Systems

Attention holiday shoppers: your cell phone may be tracked this year.

Starting on Black Friday and running through New Year’s Day, two U.S. malls — Promenade Temecula in southern California and Short Pump Town Center in Richmond, Va. — will track guests’ movements by monitoring the signals from their cell phones.

While the data that’s collected is anonymous, it can follow shoppers’ paths from store to store.

The goal is for stores to answer questions like: How many Nordstrom shoppers also stop at Starbucks? How long do most customers linger in Victoria’s Secret? Are there unpopular spots in the mall that aren’t being visited?

While U.S. malls have long tracked how crowds move throughout their stores, this is the first time they’ve used cell phones.

But obtaining that information comes with privacy concerns.

The management company of both malls, Forest City Commercial Management, says personal data is not being tracked.

“We won’t be looking at singular shoppers,” said Stephanie Shriver-Engdahl, vice president of digital strategy for Forest City. “The system monitors patterns of movement. We can see, like migrating birds, where people are going to.”

Still, the company is preemptively notifying customers by hanging small signs around the shopping centers. Consumers can opt out by turning off their phones.

The tracking system, called FootPath Technology, works through a series of antennas positioned throughout the shopping center that capture the unique identification number assigned to each phone (similar to a computer’s IP address), and tracks its movement throughout the stores.

Surveillance Company Says It Sent Fake iTunes, Flash Updates

Gamma International UK Ltd. touts its ability to send a “fake iTunes update” that can infect computers with surveillance software, according to one of the company’s marketing videos.

The Wall Street Journal unveiled on Saturday the “Surveillance Catalog” – an online database containing highlights from surveillance industry marketing documents. The documents show dozens of companies making and selling everything from “massive intercept” gear that can gather all Internet communications in a country to “hacking” tools that allow governments to break into people’s computers.

Gamma was one of three companies marketing their skill at the kind of techniques usually used in “black hat hacking,” the type of intrusion used by criminals trying to steal people’s financial details.

All of the hacking companies say they sell their tools to law enforcement and governments to help them track down criminals. People in this new industry say their tools are necessary because terrorists and criminals are communicating online and hiding behind encryption and other techniques.

Perhaps the most extensive marketing materials came from Gamma’s FinFisher brand, which says it works by “sending fake software updates for popular software,” from Apple, Adobe and others. The FinFisher documentation included brochures in several languages, as well as videos touting the tools.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thursday 11-24-11

Howard came home from work to find his wife crying.

"What's the matter?" he asked,

"I don't know what to do" she said, "Because we were eating in, I made a
special dinner but the dog ate it."

"Don't worry," he said " I'll get us another dog."

The True Story of Thanksgiving

RUSH: It's time for the traditional true story of Thanksgiving, as written by me in my second best seller of 2.5 million copies in hardback: See, I Told You So. "Chapter 6, Dead White Guys, or What the History Books Never Told You: The True Story of Thanksgiving -- The story of the Pilgrims begins in the early part of the seventeenth century ... The Church of England under King James I was persecuting anyone and everyone who did not recognize its absolute civil and spiritual authority. Those who challenged ecclesiastical authority and those who believed strongly in freedom of worship were hunted down, imprisoned, and sometimes executed for their beliefs. A group of separatists first fled to Holland and established a community.

"After eleven years, about forty of them agreed to make a perilous journey to the New World, where they would certainly face hardships, but could live and worship God according to the dictates of their own consciences. On August 1, 1620, the Mayflower set sail. It carried a total of 102 passengers, including forty Pilgrims led by William Bradford. On the journey, Bradford set up an agreement, a contract, that established just and equal laws for all members of the new community, irrespective of their religious beliefs. Where did the revolutionary ideas expressed in the Mayflower Compact come from? From the Bible. The Pilgrims were a people completely steeped in the lessons of the Old and New Testaments. They looked to the ancient Israelites for their example.

"And, because of the biblical precedents set forth in Scripture, they never doubted that their experiment would work. But this was no pleasure cruise, friends. The journey to the New World was a long and arduous one. And when the Pilgrims landed in New England in November, they found, according to Bradford's detailed journal, a cold, barren, desolate wilderness. There were no friends to greet them, he wrote. There were no houses to shelter them. There were no inns where they could refresh themselves. And the sacrifice they had made for freedom was just beginning. During the first winter, half the Pilgrims – including Bradford's own wife – died of either starvation, sickness or exposure. When spring finally came, Indians taught the settlers how to plant corn, fish for cod and skin beavers for coats.

"Life improved for the Pilgrims, but they did not yet prosper! This is important to understand because this is where modern American history lessons often end. Thanksgiving is actually explained in some textbooks as a holiday for which the Pilgrims gave thanks to the Indians for saving their lives, rather than as a devout expression of gratitude grounded in the tradition of both the Old and New Testaments. Here is the part that has been omitted: The original contract the Pilgrims had entered into with their merchant-sponsors in London called for everything they produced to go into a common store, and each member of the community was entitled to one common share. All of the land they cleared and the houses they built belonged to the community as well. They were going to distribute it equally. All of the land they cleared and the houses they built belonged to the community as well.

"Nobody owned anything. They just had a share in it. It was a commune, folks. It was the forerunner to the communes we saw in the '60s and '70s out in California – and it was complete with organic vegetables, by the way." There's no question they were organic vegetables. "Bradford, who had become the new governor of the colony, recognized that this form of collectivism was as costly and destructive to the Pilgrims as that first harsh winter, which had taken so many lives. He decided to take bold action. Bradford assigned a plot of land to each family to work and manage, thus turning loose the power of the marketplace. That's right. Long before Karl Marx was even born, the Pilgrims had discovered and experimented with what could only be described as socialism. And what happened? It didn't work!" They nearly starved!

"It never has worked! What Bradford and his community found was that the most creative and industrious people had no incentive to work any harder than anyone else, unless they could utilize the power of personal motivation! But while most of the rest of the world has been experimenting with socialism for well over a hundred years – trying to refine it, perfect it, and re-invent it – the Pilgrims decided early on to scrap it permanently. What Bradford wrote about this social experiment should be in every schoolchild's history lesson. If it were, we might prevent much needless suffering in the future," such as that we're enduring now. "'The experience that we had in this common course and condition...'" this is Bradford. "'The experience that we had in this common course and condition tried sundry years...that by taking away property, and bringing community into a common wealth, would make them happy and flourishing – as if they were wiser than God,' Bradford wrote.

"'For this community [so far as it was] was found to breed much confusion and discontent, and retard much employment that would have been to their benefit and comfort. For young men that were most able and fit for labor and service did repine that they should spend their time and strength to work for other men's wives and children without any recompense,'" without being paid for it, "'that was thought injustice.' Why should you work for other people when you can't work for yourself?" That's what he was saying. " The Pilgrims found that people could not be expected to do their best work without incentive. So what did Bradford's community try next? They unharnessed the power of good old free enterprise by invoking the undergirding capitalistic principle of private property.

"Every family was assigned its own plot of land to work and permitted to market its own crops and products. And what was the result? 'This had very good success,' wrote Bradford, 'for it made all hands industrious, so as much more corn was planted than otherwise would have been.' ... Is it possible that supply-side economics could have existed before the 1980s? Yes. Read the story of Joseph and Pharaoh in Genesis 41. Following Joseph's suggestion (Gen 41:34), Pharaoh reduced the tax on Egyptians to 20% during the 'seven years of plenty' and the 'Earth brought forth in heaps.' (Gen. 41:47) In no time, the Pilgrims found they had more food than they could eat themselves.

"Now, this is where it gets really good, folks, if you're laboring under the misconception that I was, as I was taught in school. So they set up trading posts and exchanged goods with the Indians. The profits allowed them to pay off their debts to the merchants in London. And the success and prosperity of the Plymouth settlement attracted more Europeans and began what came to be known as the 'Great Puritan Migration.' But this story stops when the Indians taught the newly arrived suffering-in-socialism Pilgrims how to plant corn and fish for cod. That's where the original Thanksgiving story stops, and the story basically doesn't even begin there. The real story of Thanksgiving is William Bradford giving thanks to God for the guidance and the inspiration to set up a thriving colony. The bounty was shared with the Indians." They did sit down" and they did have free-range turkey and organic vegetables, "but it was not the Indians who saved the day. It was capitalism and Scripture which saved the day," as acknowledged by George Washington in his first Thanksgiving Proclamation in 1789.

So once in every year we throng
Upon a day apart,
To praise the Lord with feast and song
In thankfulness of heart.
~Arthur Guiterman, The First Thanksgiving

What we're really talking about is a wonderful
day set aside on the fourth Thursday of November when no one diets. I mean, why
else would they call it Thanksgiving? ~Erma Bombeck, "No One Diets on
Thanksgiving," 26 November 1981

Thou hast
given so much to me,
Give one thing more, - a grateful heart;
thankful when it pleaseth me,
As if Thy blessings had spare days,
such a heart whose pulse may be Thy praise.
~George Herbert

Where's the salt? Hidden in your Thanksgiving menu

No need for a salt shaker on the Thanksgiving table: Unless you really cooked from scratch, there's lots of sodium already hidden in the menu.

Stealth sodium can do a number on your blood pressure. Americans eat way too much salt, and most of it comes inside common processed foods and restaurant meals.

The traditional Thanksgiving fixings show how easy sodium can sneak into the foods you'd least expect. Yes, raw turkey is naturally low in sodium. But sometimes a turkey or turkey breast is injected with salt water to plump it, adding a hefty dose of sodium before it even reaches the store _ something you'd have to read the fine print to discover.

From the stuffing mix to the green bean casserole to even pumpkin pie, a lot of people can reach their daily sodium allotment or more in that one big meal unless the cook employs some tricks.

"For Thanksgiving or any meal, the more you can cook from scratch and have some control over the sodium that's going in, the better," says the American Dietetic Association's Bethany Thayer, a registered dietitian at the Henry Ford Health System in Detroit.

The Food and Drug Administration this month opened deliberations on how to cut enough salt in processed foods for average shoppers to have a good shot at meeting new dietary guidelines. The idea: If sodium levels gradually drop in the overall food supply, it will ease the nation's epidemic of high blood pressure _ and our salt-riddled taste buds will have time to adjust to the new flavor.

"Reducing sodium is important for nearly everyone," Dr. Robin Ikeda of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention told the FDA hearing.

The question is how to make that happen. The prestigious Institute of Medicine and several public health advocates are urging the FDA to order gradual rollbacks, setting different sodium levels for different kinds of foods, a step the government has been reluctant to take.

Food makers want a voluntary approach and say they're reworking their recipes, some as part of a campaign launched by New York City to cut salt consumption by at least 20 percent over five years.

It will take different strategies to remove salt from different foods _ and some may need to be a sneak operation, Kraft Foods Vice President Richard Black told the FDA meeting. Ritz crackers labeled low-sodium were a bust until the box was changed to say "Hint of Salt" and those exact same crackers started selling, he said.

In other foods, salt acts as a preservative with a variety of functions. Kraft sells cheese with somewhat less sodium in Britain than in the U.S. Americans melt a lot of cheese and lower-sodium cheese doesn't melt as well, Black said.

In the U.S., the average person consumes about 3,400 milligrams of sodium a day. The nation's new dietary guidelines say no one should eat more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium _ about what's in a teaspoon of salt _ and half the population should eat even less, just 1,500 milligrams. The smaller limit is for anyone who's in their 50s or older, African-Americans of any age, and anyone suffering from high blood pressure, diabetes or chronic kidney disease.

Why? One in three U.S. adults has high blood pressure, a leading cause of heart attacks, strokes and kidney failure. Being overweight and inactive raises blood pressure, too, but the weight of scientific evidence shows sodium is a big culprit.

People want to eat heart-healthy, but Wal-Mart shoppers spend about 19 minutes buying groceries, added Tres Bailey of Wal-Mart Stores Inc., which told its vendors to start cutting sodium.

That's not a lot of time for label-reading to find hidden sodium, especially in foods where it's unexpected _ like salad dressings that can harbor more than 130 milligrams per tablespoon.

Depending on your choices, Thanksgiving dinner alone can pass 2,000 milligrams: About 600 per serving from stuffing mix, another 270 from gravy. The salt water-added turkey can bring another 320, double that if you saved time and bought it fully-cooked. Use canned beans in the green bean casserole and add another 350. A small dinner roll adds 130. A piece of pumpkin pie could bring as much as 350.

How to cut back? Thayer, the dietitian, has some tips for Thanksgiving and beyond:

_All bread contains sodium, but starting with a homemade cornbread for stuffing could help cut a few hundred milligrams.

_Use low-sodium broth for the gravy, and choose low-sodium soups whenever possible.

_Try onion, garlic and a variety of other herbs in place of salt. Lemon and other citrus also can stand in for salt in some foods.

_Check your spice bottles. Combination products, such as those labeled poultry seasoning, can contain salt.

_Fresh or frozen vegetables have little if any sodium, unless you choose the frozen kind with an added sauce.

_People tend to heavily salt mashed potatoes while sweet potatoes, even dressed up as a souffle, contain very little sodium.

Going suddenly low-salt can startle your palate, "but it adjusts much quicker than I think most people realize," Thayer says.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Wednesday 11-23-11

I know this should be obvious, but maybe to some it is not

How The CIA Monitors The Internet

The CIA recently revealed that it has set up an "Open Source Center" that trolls the Internet for useful information. For several years after September 11, 2001 the CIA was urged to do this. They invited people who ran open source analysis web sites (like StrategyPage) down to Langley to explain how this was done. And the message most of these visiting lecturers gave was basically the same; the information is out there, you just have to go take it and use it.
It was also pointed out that there are already marketing and BI (Business Intelligence, or corporate espionage) operations using what the CIA eventually built for their Open Source Center; software to gather all this information, filter and organize it, and then turn it over to analysts to be sorted out, or, in many cases, translated more accurately. That last bit was necessary because machine translation software can automatically translate all those tweets and postings so that stuff can be identified and put in a data base. But in order to get really useful (to the CIA) intelligence, you need skilled linguists and analysts to double check, and also find out if the selecting and sorting software needs to be tweaked (it often does).

This massive, real-time combing of social media and open (to anyone) message traffic has yielded a much more accurate and timely analysis of political, religious, cultural and military trends worldwide. It has also made the deployment of agents and other scarce resources (reconnaissance and electronic eavesdropping satellites, aircraft and ships) more effective.

The impetus for the Open Source Center actually came from within the CIA, but it was the post September 11, 2001 urgency, and obvious examples of civilian organizations using open source material, that got the CIA brass (and sufficient cash) on board. Once the Open Source Center began to show results (that happened quickly), it was easier to admit that this sort of thing had been going on for a long time. From the beginning, the CIA depended a lot on simply reading (and clipping) foreign newspapers, plus having agents wander about in foreign nations and report on what was being heard on "the street." But this is more time consuming and collects less data than the Open Source Center. Moreover, by having all this open source data in a database, it is possible to use widely available (or custom made) analysis software to extract all sorts of useful, but not initially obvious, information.

The Open Source Center still uses agents on the spot, collecting what "the street" is saying. But now these reports get into a database, where they undergo further analysis, and comparison to what the "Internet street" is saying. Often these two "streets" are not saying the same thing, which is also valuable information. In many parts of the world, only a small portion of the population is on the Internet. With the proliferation of cell phones that can access the Internet, this is changing. But you have to track this in order to know what these different branches are going.

It is happening more and more

Flash Mob Shoplifts at Silver Spring 7-Eleven

About 50 people simultaneously shoplifted from a Silver Spring, Md., 7-Eleven Saturday night.

Officers arriving at the store in the 12200 block of Tech Road after 11:20 p.m. saw several people gathered in surrounding parking lots and on side streets, police said. They began to disperse when police arrived.

The shoplifters -- described as teens and young adults -- took items including snacks and drinks, police said

Police stopped a group of six people ages 16-18 near Tech Road and Broadbirch Drive. Each had items from the 7-Eleven but no receipts, police said.

Detectives are investigating whether the shoplifters had attended a birthday party in the area, police said.

In August, a flash mob of dozens of young people entered a 7-Eleven in Germantown and took items without paying, police said.

Flash mob crime in the county has prompted lawmakers to consider teen loitering legislation and a teen curfew.

It is not that they settled for anything

Feds fail to get conviction on homemade zip gun, settle for ammo charge

MOBILE, Alabama — Law enforcement officials were not quite sure what to make of the homemade gun that was in Richard Douglas Durham’s bag when Alabama State Troopers pulled him over in May on his way to a motorcycle club meeting in Mobile.

It had a handle wrapped in leather straps protruding from the front of a leather glove and a cylindrical, metal tube coming out the other side. It had no trigger.

Baldwin County prosecutors first charged the 44-year-old Brewton man with possession of a sawed-off shotgun. Authorities also charged him with possession of brass knuckles, but that didn’t apply, either, since Durham did not have them concealed on his body.

Eventually, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives took the case to federal prosecutors in Mobile. ATF agents found 2 possible violations related to the gun: possession of an unregistered “destructive device” and possession of a firearm without a serial number.

But prosecutors failed to convince the jury that the defendant knew the bore was too big or did not have a serial number.

In fact, Assistant Federal Defender Fred Tiemann argued at his client’s federal trial in Mobile last week, Durham did not even know he had a gun. The cylindrical tube was concealed in the glove and closed off with electrical tape when the defendant received it, Tiemann said.

“It wasn’t a typical firearm. It wasn’t an obvious firearm. It had never been fired,” Tiemann said in an interview. “I’d never seen a homemade gun before. I’d never had a client charged with a homemade gun before.”

Investigators said the weapon, known by the slang term “zip gun,” resembles other firearms put together in basements and garages using readily available materials. It was fully functional, according to ATF lab tests. Pushing the handle would trigger the fire mechanism and launch pellets from a shotgun shell through the tube.

“I’ve seen them over the years, but not too often,” said Mike Messinger, the resident agent in charge of the ATF in Mobile. “I haven’t seen one constructed like that.”

Troopers pulled Durham’s motorcycle over on May 16 on Interstate 65 in Baldwin County as he was on his way to a meeting of the Pistoleros. Tiemann said an acquaintance gave Durham the device.

“He didn’t fool with it, so he didn’t know what it was,” Tiemann said.

The man who gave Durham the weapon was never charged. Investigators said that they tried but failed to locate him.

Tiemann said his client believes that the man who gave him the gun set him up. The trooper denied that, testifying that he pulled the motorcycle over after Durham failed to signal a lane change. Finding the gun and ammo was just a coincidence, he testified.

Because of a 1993 conviction for receiving stolen property, Durham can’t legally have a gun. But that law requires prosecutors to prove the gun was manufactured elsewhere and crossed state lines to establish federal jurisdiction, and investigators could not determine where the homemade gun was made, leaving them to pursue the registration and serial number charges.

Although the jury failed to reach a unanimous verdict on those counts, Durham was not in the clear. Prosecutors did get a conviction on a third charge: possession of ammunition by a convicted felon. Testimony indicated that troopers found 2 shells from a 12-gauge shotgun in Durham’s bag and another shell inside one of the fingers of the glove.

U.S. District Judge Kristi DuBose will sentence Durham in March; he faces about 3 years in prison under advisory guidelines.

Obama issues 5 pardons, 1 prison commutation

President Barack Obama on Monday pardoned five people convicted of charges ranging from intent to distribute marijuana to running an illegal gambling business.

And he issued his first commutation, ordering the release of a woman next month after serving 10 years on a 22-year sentence for cocaine distribution.

The actions mark Obama's third set of pardons. He pardoned eight people earlier this year, and issued nine pardons in December 2010.

None of those pardoned was well-known, as was the case with the president's previous orders. The cases date back to 1984, when Martin Kaprelian of Park Ridge, Ill., was sentenced to nine years in prison for conspiracy to transport stolen property in interstate commerce, and other related charges.

Obama commuted the 2001 prison sentence of Eugenia Marie Jennings of Alton, Ill. Jennings was convicted in 2001 for distributing cocaine, and sentenced to 22 years in prison. The president ordered her to be released next month, but kept intact her eight years of supervised release.

Others who received pardons:

_ Lesley Claywood Berry Jr. of Loretto, Ky., sentenced in 1988 to three years in prison for conspiracy to manufacture and distribute marijuana.

_ Dennis George Bulin of Wesley Chapel, Fla., sentenced in 1987 to five years of probation and a $20,000 fine for conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute in excess of 1,000 pounds of marijuana.

_ Ricky Dale Collett of Annville, Ky., sentenced in 2002 to one year of probation for aiding and abetting in the manufacture of 61 marijuana plants.

_ Thomas Paul Ledford of Jonesborough, Tenn., sentenced in 1995 to one year of probation for conducting and directing an illegal gambling business.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Tuesday 11-22-11

This really sould not surpise anyone, does it?

Chicken jerky treats linked to mystery illnesses, deaths in dogs

Chicken jerky treats may be to blame for dozens of new reports of mysterious illnesses and some deaths in dogs, prompting a renewed warning for pet owners by the Food and Drug Administration.

At least 70 dogs have been sickened so far this year after reportedly eating chicken jerky products imported from China, FDA officials said. That’s up from 54 reports of illness in 2010. Some of the dogs have died, according to the anecdotal reports from pet owners and veterinarians.

FDA officials say they have not been able to find a cause for the illnesses. Extensive chemical and microbiological testing has failed to turn up a specific contaminant and officials did not identify a specific brand of treats. They note that the reports of illness have not conclusively been tied to chicken jerky products, also sold as chicken tenders, chicken strips or chicken treats.

The new warning follows previous FDA cautions about chicken jerky treats in 2007 and 2008. But after a high of 156 reports of illness in 2007, the number of complaints dropped. Now, it's rising again.

Dog owners and vets are reporting that animals may be stricken with a range of illnesses within days or hours of eating chicken jerky, including kidney failure and Fanconi syndrome, a condition characterized by low glucose.

Symptoms may include decreased appetite, decreased activity, vomiting, diarrhea, increased water consumption and increased urination. If dogs show any of these signs, stop feeding the animal the chicken jerky products, FDA officials said. If signs are severe or persist for more than 24 hours, seek veterinary help.

Most dogs have recovered, officials said.

Illnesses can be reported to the FDA’s Pet Food Complaint site.

Sounds like something out of George Orwells book, and something we did

Egypt’s Secret Police Renames Itself “Homeland Security”

Egypt’s infamous state security apparatus, notorious for spying on political activists and torturing dissidents, has renamed itself “homeland security,” presumably in homage to its American namesake, which has also been used as a tool of political repression.

As part of the re-branding of dictatorship in Egypt, the same security force implicated in the imprisonment and torture of anti-Mubarak activists is busy reorganizing itself while maintaining intimidation and spying campaigns targeted against parliamentary candidates by bugging phone calls and harassing prominent critics of the ruling military regime’s bloody crackdown on protesters.

“After some initial moves to purge the security forces, attempts at systemic reform were halted, say analysts and political observers. Under the auspices of the Ministry of Interior, the 100,000-strong state security service has been renamed homeland security and personnel moved around,” the Financial Times reports today (emphasis mine).

Should we be concerned that a dictatorship which refuses to bow to the will of the people and allow democratic elections to proceed while engaging in savage attacks on demonstrators is re-naming itself after America’s foremost post-9/11 federal agency?

Like the Egyptian secret police, the Department of Homeland Security has reinvented its role to serve as a tool of political repression in recent years. Under the Federal Protective Service (FPS), the DHS tracks the political activities of peaceful advocacy groups. The FPS was seen arresting photographers in Portland last week during an OWS rally. In 2004, the FPS arrested a veteran for the crime of complaining to his local VA office in Des Moines.

It wouldn’t be the first time that tormentors of pro-democracy protesters in Egypt have looked to America for inspiration in an effort to lend their brutal brand of authoritarianism a veneer of legitimacy.

As Washington’s Blog noted earlier today, Egyptian authorities are justifying their brutal crackdown against protesters, with dozens killed over the last few days, by pointing to how U.S. law enforcement bodies are taking a “firm stance” against Occupy Wall Street protesters.

One example of this “firm stance” became a viral You Tube hit over the weekend, with video footage showing police at the the University of California pepper-spraying demonstrators directly in the face and throat.

As we reported earlier, the brutal crackdown on behalf of Egyptian authorities has registered barely a whimper of complaint from normally reliable ‘humanitarian crusaders’ like Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, presumably because their administration has been a vehement supporter of Egypt’s not-so-transitional ruling military junta with billions of dollars in aid, most of which has gone directly to the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF).

Monday, November 21, 2011

Monday 11-21-11

Foreign hackers targeted U.S. water plant in apparent malicious cyber attack, expert says
By Ellen Nakashima

Foreign hackers caused a pump at an Illinois water plant to fail last week, according to a preliminary state report. Experts said the cyber-attack, if confirmed, would be the first known to have damaged one of the systems that supply Americans with water, electricity and other essentials of modern life.

Companies and government agencies that rely on the Internet have for years been routine targets of hackers, but most incidents have resulted from attempts to steal information or interrupt the functioning of Web sites. The incident in Springfield, Ill., would mark a departure because it apparently caused physical destruction.

Federal officials confirmed that the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security were investigating damage to the water plant but cautioned against concluding that it was necessarily a cyber-attack before all the facts could be learned. “At this time there is no credible corroborated data that indicates a risk to critical infrastructure entities or a threat to public safety,” said DHS spokesman Peter Boogaard.

News of the incident became public after Joe Weiss, an industry security expert, obtained a report dated Nov. 10 and collected by an Illinois state intelligence center that monitors security threats. The original source of the information was unknown and impossible to immediately verify.

The report, which Weiss read to The Washington Post, describes how a series of minor glitches with a water pump gradually escalated to the point where the pump motor was being turned on and off frequently. It soon burned out, according to the report.

The report blamed the damage on the actions of somebody using a computer registered to an Internet address in Russia. “It is believed that hackers had acquired unauthorized access to the software company’s database” and used this information to penetrate the control system for the water pump.

Experts cautioned that it is difficult to trace the origin of a cyber-attack, and that false addresses often are used to confuse investigations. Yet they also agreed that the incident was a major new development in cyber-security.

“This is a big deal,” said Weiss. “It was tracked to Russia. It has been in the system for at least two to three months. It has caused damage. We don’t know how many other utilities are currently compromised.”

Dave Marcus, director of security research for McAfee Labs, said that the computers that control critical systems in the United States are vulnerable to attacks that come through the Internet, and few operators of these systems know how to detect or defeat these threats. “So many are ill-prepared for cyber-attacks,” Marcus said.

The Illinois report said that hackers broke into a software company’s database and retrieved user names and passwords of control systems that run water plant computer equipment. Using that data, they were able to hack into the plant in Illinois, Weiss said.

Senior U.S. officials have recently raised warnings about the risk of destructive cyber-attacks on critical infrastructure. One of the few documented cases of such an attack resulted from a virus, Stuxnet, that caused centrifuges in an Iranian uranium enrichment facility to spin out of control last year. Many computer security experts have speculated that Stuxnet was created by Israel — perhaps with U.S. help — as a way to check Iran’s nuclear program.

Police: 2 Georgia Caregivers Waterboard 89-Year-Old Woman

JONESBORO, Ga. (CBS Atlanta) – Police charge two caregivers at a Jonesboro facility with waterboarding an 89-year-old woman.

Clayton County police said Jermeller Steed and Cicely Reed held down Anna Foley after an argument that started over ice cream.

They’re said to have allegedly held down Foley in a locked shower room, flooding her face with the hand-hold shower nozzle in 2008.

According to WGCL-TV, Foley was undergoing treatment at the facility for dementia. A co-worker witnessed the event and blew the whistle.

The technique slowly drowns subjects by blocking the air passages with flowing water while the subject is immobilized.

The Obama administration banned waterboarding suspected terrorists in January 2009, classifying it as torture.

Neither Steed nor Reed currently work at the elderly care facility.

Police: Fake doc injected cement in woman's rear

MIAMI (AP) - A woman who wanted to work at a nightclub started searching for someone who could perform plastic surgery at a cheap price to give her a curvier body. Police say what she found was a woman posing as a doctor who filled her buttocks with cement, mineral oil and flat-tire sealant.

The suspect _ who police say was born a man and identifies as a woman _ apparently performed the surgery on herself, and investigators say she may have victimized others. Oneal Ron Morris, 30, was arrested Friday after a year on the lam and has been charged with practicing medicine without a license with serious bodily injury.

Police photos show Morris as a small-framed woman with bee-stung pouty lips, arched eyebrows, oversized hoop earrings _ and a large backside. She was released from jail on bond. A phone listing for Morris could not be found, and it's unclear if she has an attorney.

Miami Gardens Police Sgt. Bill Bamford said Sunday that Morris bounced from house to house for a year, driving a black Mercedes and staying out of investigators' sight "like a ghost." An officer drove by one of those possible houses nearly every day on his way to work and saw the car outside on Friday, and he arrested Morris soon after.

The victim, who is not being named due to medical privacy laws, paid $700 for a series of injections in May 2010. She was referred to Morris by a friend.

Morris injected some type of tube in several sites around her bottom, pumping it full of a toxic concoction. Morris reassured the woman when the pain became too intense, police said.

Bamford said Morris told the woman, "`Oh don't worry, you'll be fine. We just keep injecting you with the stuff and it all works itself out.'"

Bamford said the victim was reluctant to come forward. She quickly went to two South Florida hospitals due to severe abdominal pain and infected sores on her buttocks accompanied by flu-like symptoms. But she left each time, too embarrassed to tell doctors what she'd done.

Her mother eventually took her to a hospital on Florida's west coast, where alarmed doctors pressed her for information. They alerted the Department of Health.

"The doctors knew no licensed physician in his right mind would ever do this," Bamford said.

The victim is still recovering from the surgery and says it's too painful to work. She also has racked up numerous medical bills.

Authorities believe there are other victims who may be too embarrassed to come forward.

"(Morris) was readily introduced to our victim as someone who could help improve her shape, so we believe (she's) done this to other people," Bamford said.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Sunday 11-20-11

Factory Worker Fired For Refusing to Wear “666″ Sticker

A Georgia factory worker claims in a federal lawsuit that he was fired after he refused to wear a 666 sticker he feared would doom him to eternal damnation.

Billy E. Hyatt claims he was fired from Pliant Corp., a plastics factory in northern Georgia near Dalton, after he refused to wear a sticker proclaiming that his factory had been accident-free for 666 days. That number is considered the "mark of the beast" in the Bible's Book of Revelation describing the apocalypse.

Hyatt, who said he's a devout Christian, had worked for the north Georgia plastics company since June 2007 and like other employees wore stickers each day that proclaimed how long the factory had gone without an accident.

But he grew nervous in early 2009 as the number of accident-free days crept into the 600s. As the company's safety calendar approached day 666, Hyatt said he approached a manager and explained that wearing it would force him "to accept the mark of the beast and to be condemned to hell." He said the manager assured him he wouldn't have to wear the number.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Friday 11-18-11

I was always worried about Australia and it being taking over by China, maybe the US is doing something to try to stop that, who knows.

Obama visit: Australia agrees US Marine deployment plan

Julia Gillard and Barack Obama announce details of the new military arrangement

She said about 250 US Marines would arrive next year, eventually being built up to 2,500 personnel.

The deployment is being seen as a move to counter China's growing influence.

But Mr Obama said the US was "stepping up its commitment to the entire Asia-Pacific", not excluding China.

"The main message that I've said, not only publicly but also privately to China, is that with their rise comes increased responsibility," he said.

"It is important for them to play by the rules of the road."

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Liu Weimin questioned whether the move was in keeping with the region's peaceful development.

Long a close ally of Washington, Australia is set to take on a growing strategic importance for the US as Mr Obama seeks to pivot America's foreign policy away from the wider Middle East towards the Asia-Pacific region as a whole.

Australia approaches China with a degree of ambivalence. Beijing is Australia's biggest trading partner. But China's growing military reach is seen as at least a potential threat for the future.

In his speech to parliament Mr Obama will set out his vision of a new Pacific century. A subsequent trip to Darwin on Australia's north coast will symbolise the enhanced military relationship between the two countries.

It is an attempt to offset Chinese influence and to ensure that Beijing's "soft power" remains just that and does not spill over into military assertiveness.
"It may not be quite appropriate to intensify and expand military alliances and may not be in the interest of countries within this region," he was quoted as saying by AFP news agency.

The Global Times, a newspaper produced by the Communist Party-controlled People's Daily group, has been much more bellicose, says the BBC's Damian Grammaticas in Beijing.

An editorial warned it was "certain" that if "Australia uses its military bases to help the US harm Chinese interests, then Australia itself will be caught in the crossfire".

Luo Yuan, a senior officer at the People's Liberation Army's Academy of Military Sciences told the paper that while neither the US or China wanted to start a war, "if China's core interests such as its sovereignty, national security and unity are intruded on, a military conflict will be unavoidable".

Alliance honoured

The US president flew into Canberra from this weekend's Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation (Apec) forum in Honolulu.

The visit comes as the two countries mark a 60-year security alliance.

Ms Gillard said about 250 Marines would be deployed on a rotational basis in northern Australia from next year.

"Australia will welcome deployments of a company-size rotation of 200 to 250 Marines in the Northern Territory for around six months at a time," she said.

"Over a number of years we intend to build on this relationship in a staged way to a full force of around 2,500 personnel, that is a full Marine air-ground task force."

Analysts said the deployment was the biggest in Australia since World War II.

Mr Obama said the deployment would allow the US to "meet the demands of a lot of partners in the region" in terms of training, exercises and "security architecture".

Later in his visit the US leader is due to visit a memorial in Darwin to honour US and Australian soldiers killed during World War II.

Mr Obama has twice cancelled visits to Australia in the past - in March 2010 as he worked to pass healthcare reform legislation and then in June the same year amid the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

After his stop in Darwin, Mr Obama flies to Indonesia for a summit of Asian leaders.

5 simple changes to help you save money

WASHINGTON -- If you're looking to save some money this time of year, look no further. You can do it by making five simple changes.

Yahoo! Finance put together a list of five products and services you might be able to live without. If you can, it could save you about $1,500 a year.

Here's what you can do to save a few bucks:

Skip those lottery tickets.

Yahoo reports Americans spent $58 billion last year on lottery tickets. That's about $200 per American. Instead, it recommends tossing $5 a week into a retirement account of your choice. It says over 30 years with 6 percent interest, you could squirrel away $9,000.

Forget that extended warranty from retailers.

Tod Marks, senior editor for Consumer Reports, calls them "a sucker's bet." He says you're betting a product will break at a very specific time and the timing rarely works out. He says store warranties typically cover stove ranges for three years when studies show only one in five ranges breaks during that period. Most analysts will tell you extended warranties are a waste of money.

Rethink your unlimited cell phone plan.

Yahoo suggests tracking your usage to see if you can drop down one payment bracket on your plan. That alone could save you $240 a year. Of course if you utilize unlimited texts and calls, you'll want to stick with the plan.

Skip buying cleaning supplies.

Consider making your own. You can make your own glass cleaner for example using white vinegar, rubbing alcohol and water.

Avoid using plastic bags.

Skip the daily plastic bags at the grocery store and individual sandwich plastic bags for lunches. Instead, spend a little more on reusable bags and eliminate waste. Or, you can pack certain food

Non-users of Facebook tracked by social network

As Facebook has grown, so has the amount of personal data it collects, including information about people who have not chosen to join the social network.

For the first time, Facebook explained how it tracks both users and non-users in a series of phone and email exchanges with USA TODAY.

When a Facebook user visits a page, two different kinds of tracking cookies are placed in the user's browser -- a "session cookie" and a "browser cookie."

Non-Facebook members and Facebook users who are logged off receive the browser cookie.

When Facebook users are logged on, the session cookie records the websites they visit, along with their names, email addresses, list of friends and preferences as indicated by the "like" buttons they have clicked in the past.

The online habits of those who did not join Facebook - as well as Facebook users not signed into their accounts - are tracked by the browser cookie, but they are identified by number, not by name.

Both cookies log IP addresses, screen resolutions, operating systems and record which browser (Mozilla-Firefox, Internet Explorer, Google, etc.) a person is using. That information is kept for 90 days.

Facebook says it uses tracking data from these cookies to enhance both security and its users' experiences, but does not yet use tracking data to target ads to specific people.

Privacy advocates say that when used creatively such data collection can be dangerous.

In Los Angeles, ABC-TV consumer reporter Ric Romero found that a man's insurance benefits were canceled after an investigator saw a picture of him sitting on a beach, drinking a beer. The picture was on Facebook.

Insurance investigators told Romero that honest people have nothing to fear. But the man whose benefits were denied had to hire an attorney and take his case to a labor board in order to prove his injury was not fraudulent.

Facebook is getting pressure from government agencies here and abroad.

Facebook has been haggling with the Federal Trade Commission over privacy, and The Wall Street Journal reports the social network is nearing a settlement with federal regulators that would require it to get the approval of a user before making changes that expose his profile and activities to a wider audience.

The settlement also would require Facebook to undergo independent privacy audits for the next 20 years.

Saturday 11-19-11

Congressional report slams TSA as bloated, ineffective

The Transportation Security Administration is plagued by significant problems, a congressional report said Wednesday on the 10th anniversary of Congress creating the agency.

According to the report "A Decade Later: A Call for TSA Reform," the problems include:

A bloated bureaucracy with 65,000 workers.
An ineffective agency with 25,000 security breaches in the last decade.
A buyer of inadequate technology, including 500 advanced-imaging technology machines that are "easily thwarted."
"Unfortunately, TSA has lost its way," Rep. John Mica, R-Fla., chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, said during a Wednesday news conference at Reagan National Airport near Washington.

"It is time for reform," he added.

While Mica has become a vocal critic of the agency, others have been more supportive.

A U.S. Travel Association survey released Wednesday found that two-thirds of the 604 respondents were "somewhat" or "very" satisfied with TSA's overall performance for security, while only one in eight were dissatisfied. But nearly nine out of 10 thought it still takes too long to get through security.

In a hearing last week, Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., chairman of the Senate transportation committee, called it "remarkable" that there hasn't been a successful attack on the country's transportation network in the last decade. Rockefeller commended TSA Administrator John Pistole, a former FBI official, as "the ideal person" for the job.

But Mica's report recommended:

Elevating the TSA administrator's authority.
Revising the luggage screening program with private competition.
Reducing the number of TSA staffers.
"The agency as a whole has been a colossal disappointment," said Rep. Paul Brown, R-Ga., who is chairman of a subcommittee on oversight.

EU bans 'naked' airport security scanners after cancer fears
X-ray body scanners at airports have been banned by Brussels amid fears they could cause cancer.

The devices, widely criticised because they make passengers who go through them appear naked, emit low doses of radiation.

The EU has now told member states not to install them until a scientific assessment of the risks has been carried out.

Manchester airport, which has 16 of the £80,000 machines and bars anyone refusing a scan from boarding a flight, has been told it can continue using them for another year.

However, no new machines will be allowed to ‘protect citizens’ health and safety’.

The body scanners were introduced in a security crackdown after incidents such as the attempted ‘underwear bomb’ plot in 2009.

They were used at Heathrow but scrapped amid complaints about invasion of privacy. They have also been tested in Germany, France, Italy, Finland and Holland but will be completely banned in April if experts rule they are dangerous.

Research suggests up to 100 US airline passengers a year could get cancer from the scanners.

Britain, which argues the scans are a ‘proportionate response to a very real terrorist threat’, could be hit with a fine from the European courts if it ignores the ban.

The Health Protection Agency said: ‘The radiation dose from an examination of two or three scans is less than that received from two minutes flying at cruising altitude.’

Glad i don't live in Canada, but it will come here soon, nobody had thought about it here yet.

Toronto school bans 'hard balls'

Citing safety concerns, an east-end Toronto school is banning students from playing with soccer balls, footballs, volleyballs or tennis balls in the schoolyard.

A letter issued on Monday, stated that students at Earl Beatty Jr. and Sr. Public School are not allowed to bring or play with any kind of hard ball.

"Any balls brought will be confiscated and may be retrieved by parents from the office," the statement said. "The only kind of ball allowed will be nerf balls or sponge balls."

The decision was made after a parent complained to school about being hit in the head by a soccer ball.

Principal Alicia Fernandez told CTV Toronto that some of the younger children are afraid to play in the schoolyard because it area too small and they were often being hit by the hard balls.

"It is a school issue of safety. I am the principal, I care for the kids' safety and I have that decision making right," Fernandez said on Wednesday.

The letter had also mentioned that the school had some serious incidents where students, staff or parents were hit, or nearly hit, by a hard ball on school property.

Obama Pushing Shooters Off Public Lands

Gun owners who have historically been able to use public lands for target practice would be barred from potentially millions of acres under new rules drafted by the Interior Department, the first major move by the Obama administration to impose limits on firearms.

Officials say the administration is concerned about the potential clash between gun owners and encroaching urban populations who like to use same land for hiking and dog walking.

"It's not so much a safety issue. It's a social conflict issue," said Frank Jenks, a natural resource specialist with Interior's Bureau of Land Management, which oversees 245 million acres. He adds that urbanites "freak out" when they hear shooting on public lands. [Read about the subpoena issued as a result of Operation Fast and Furious.]

If the draft policy is finally approved, some public access to Bureau lands to hunters would also be limited, potentially reducing areas deer, elk, and bear hunters can use in the West.

Conservationists and hunting groups, however, are mounting a fight. One elite group of conservationists that advises Interior and Agriculture is already pushing BLM to junk the regulations, claiming that shooters are being held to a much higher safety standard than other users of public lands, such as ATV riders.

"They are just trying to make it so difficult for recreational shooters," said Gary Kania, vice president of the Congressional Sportsmen's Foundation. His group is one of several, including the National Wildlife Foundation, Cabela's and Ducks Unlimited, on the Wildlife and Hunting Heritage Conservation Council fighting the new rules. During a two-day meeting ending this afternoon, they are drafting their own changes to the BLM rules.

"What we probably are going to be looking forward to is a reversal," said Kania. Asked about how to handle people who freak out when they hear shots on public lands, Kania said, "I don't know how to quanitify 'freaking out,'" and noted that he's seen people panicing when fly fishing in float tubes but nobody wants to ban then from rivers.

BLM actually invited the fight, seeking the council's comments. But officials suggested to Whispers that no changes are being planned to the draft regulations.

Over five pages, the draft BLM regulations raise concerns about how shooting can cause a "public disturbance." They also raise worries about how shooting and shooters can hurt plants and litter public lands.

This is the key paragraph foes say could lead to shooters being kicked off public lands:

"When the authorized officer determines that a site or area on BLM-managed lands used on a regular basis for recreational shooting is creating public disturbance, or is creating risk to other persons on public lands; is contributing to the defacement, removal or destruction of natural features, native plants, cultural resources, historic structures or government and/or private property; is facilitating or creating a condition of littering, refuse accumulation and abandoned personal property is violating existing use restrictions, closure and restriction orders, or supplementary rules notices, and reasonable attempts to reduce or eliminate the violations by the BLM have been unsuccessful, the authorized officer will close the affected area to recreational shooting." [Check out new Debate Club about whether Congress needs to overhaul gun trafficking laws.]

Squeezing out shooters, says the draft policy, is needed because, "As the West has become more populated, recreational shooters now often find themselves in conflict with other public lands users, and the BLM is frequently called on to mediate these conflicts."

At yesterday's meeting at Interior, the council balked at the BLM draft regulations, adding that the Obama administration was not being fair to shooters on the issue of safety.

In a draft retort to BLM, the council said other users of public land aren't required to be as safe as shooters. They note that shooters have a much lower injury rate than others, like ATV users. "The policy fails to recognize that recreational shooting has one of the lowest incidences of death and injury compared to virtually any other outdoor recreational activity. The policy is prejudicial and discriminatory to target shooters as compared to other recreationists," said the council's draft response, expected to be finalized today.

What's more, the group charged that the BLM is acting in a contradictory fashion, encouraging the shooting sports while limiting shooting areas.