Sunday, May 31, 2015

Sunday 05-31-15

'Ebola will return', veteran scientist warns

Paris (AFP) - Congolese expert Jean-Jacques Muyembe may be little known to the public, but he has been one of the world's top Ebola investigators since the first epidemic erupted in central Africa in 1976.
Now, amid a decline in a west African outbreak that has taken more than 11,000 lives, Muyembe warns that Ebola will strike again in the future and that the deadly virus poses "a threat to the whole world".
Muyembe studied medicine in Kinshasa and at the University of Leuven in Belgium. He returned home to the Democratic Republic of Congo -- then known as Zaire -- in 1976, when the northern village of Yambuku was struck by a mysterious disease.
"They said many people were dying, and the health ministry asked me to go investigate," Muyembe told AFP.
He initially thought it could be a case of typhoid fever but he decided to continue investigating until he got to the bottom of it.
"I drew blood, and had no protective gloves or clothing," Muyembe said.
Accompanied by a Belgian nun suffering from fever, he returned from Yambuku to Kinshasa.
It was her blood samples, shipped in a makeshift cooler to the Institute of Tropical Medicine in Antwerp, that enabled scientist Peter Piot to identify the worm-looking virus for the first time.
It was then named after the Ebola river, located near the area first hit by the epidemic.
"Then there was total silence until 1995," Muyembe said.
That year, he was summoned to Tikwit in the south of DR Congo where a bloody diarrhoea outbreak was decimating the population, including medical staff.
"I examined an Italian nun and saw signs that reminded me of the Yambuku incident," Muyembe said.
He discovered that contamination "had taken place in the operation room -- in other words, from the patient's blood".
Muyembe's discovery that the virus is transmitted through bodily fluids was a key find.
"From then on, we put in place strategies to fight against the disease, isolating patients, following up on people they had been in contact with, and mobilising communities," he said.
"These are strategies that the World Health Organization practises today."
Professor Muyembe's team then started testing serotherapy on patients.
"We drew blood from people recovering from Ebola, and injected it into eight sick patients. Seven of them survived, even though there was an 80 percent mortality rate," he said.
This type of treatment is now being studied for its potential.
- 'Ebola can strike anywhere' -
Even after decades fighting the deadly virus, Muyembe said he was "surprised" by the sheer size of the resurgence in Guinea in late 2013.
"We thought Ebola epidemics could be brought under control quickly," he said.
Previously, DR Congo had successfully put an end to seven epidemics.
"These countries (in west Africa) believed that Ebola was a central and eastern African problem. They weren't prepared," he added.
The epidemic has now ended in Liberia, and is declining in Sierra Leone.
But in Guinea, "new cases continue to appear", Muyembe said.
"We need to find the most recent cases, even if they are hidden deep in the forest, because if the disease becomes endemic, it would be terrible for the whole world," he warned.
"In 10 or 20 years' time, this epidemic will return, and we need to be prepared," he said.
"Ebola can strike anywhere, and we need to be vigilant. The United States and Europe must understand that Africa is their shield."
This year's winner of the prestigious Christophe Merieux award for researchers studying infectious diseases in developing countries, Muyembe sees the 500,000 euros ($550,000) in prize money as a "boost" to help him study Ebola reservoir hosts.
"Monkeys, bats, we aren't certain," he said.
Muyembe also sees the prize as a way to encourage young Africans studying abroad to return to work.
"I have made my career in DR Congo, despite all the conflicts my country has known," the researcher said.
"We must build up labs and research centres in Africa," he added, "so that when the danger arrives, we can stop it in time. This is the lesson we must learn from this epidemic."

10 Items to Always Buy in Large Quantities

Despite the obvious discounts that come from buying items in bulk, doing so is not always a smart move. That’s because purchasing too much, even of a good thing, can lead to waste and clutter. There are some cases, though, where buying a lot of something at once can actually be a good move for your wallet. Here are 10 items to buy in large quantities:
1. Toilet paper
Buying this essential paper product in bulk can be up to 50 percent cheaper than buying a few rolls at a time. So find a place to store some extra toilet paper (try under your bed if you run out of cupboard space in the bathroom) and save yourself a few bucks. Just make sure you always store it in the same place, so you know where it is and don’t buy even more when you’re already fully stocked.
2. Soap and shampoo
Buying these items in bulk saves a few cents an ounce on shampoo or per bar of soap. While this may not seem like very much, it adds up over time. Since you know from your washing habits how often you need to replenish your supplies — perhaps you go through one bottle per month — you can easily buy a few containers at once in advance to score the discount.
3. Office supplies
The next time you need office supplies such as pens, folders or staples, be sure to buy them in bulk. Doing so can save you up to 50 percent off the price you would have paid if you didn’t buy in bulk. Whether you compare prices online at big office supply stores or prefer to visit the grocery store or discount store in person and stroll through the aisles, you can usually get a better deal by stocking up on items you know you’ll need — and use.
4. Toothbrushes and toothpaste
If you practice good dental hygiene, and we hope you do, then you purchase new toothbrushes and toothpaste every few months (or at least you should). You could either buy two toothbrushes for $8 or six for $14. Similarly, you could buy a tube of toothpaste for $5 or get three for $10. If you’re buying for your whole family, then the available savings are even bigger.
5. Vitamins
Spending money in the name of health is always a good idea; be sure to read up on the latest recommendations to pick the vitamins that provide the biggest benefit. You can save a few cents per pill by buying in bulk. Again, this may not seem like much, but over time, the savings add up.
6. Pantry items
When it comes to buying food items that will not perish quickly, such as cereal, canned tuna or soft drinks, opt to buy in bulk. Doing so is typically 30 percent cheaper than just buying one box, can or drink at a time. Just be sure to stick with items that have a long shelf life to reduce the chance the items go to waste. Paper towels, cotton swabs and cereal are all among the most popular items purchased through Amazon Prime Pantry, which can offer lower prices than brick-and-mortar stores when multiple items are purchased at once.
7. Coffee
Whether you grind your own beans or use K-cups, purchasing coffee in bulk can significantly reduce the costs of your caffeine habit. Signing up for automatic delivery through a monthly delivery service also ensures you’re never out of your morning pick-me-up.
8. Diapers
If you have babies in the house, then you’re probably constantly buying diapers. Save yourself some cash by using Amazon Subscribe & Save or a similar service to keep yourself well-stocked while benefiting from discounts.
9. Batteries
You don’t want to notice you’re all out of batteries when the lights go out and you can’t find a working flashlight. Stock up on batteries by buying large packages of them to get the best deal and also make sure you don’t run out at key moments.
10. Detergent
Everyone does laundry, and there is no way to get around it. By spending a little more to get a huge tub of detergent instead of a smaller one, you can save up to 17 cents a load. So when it comes to laundry detergent, always reach for the larger container.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Saturday 05-30-15

Well made it back safe, not service up there and I enjoyed the break  Here is a quick story I found very sad with all the colony collapse taking place you would think liberals would want to have more people with bees not making it harder, sad.  But nothing out of New York really surprises me.  But it boils down to they want control over what you do.

Village cites resident for having beehives without a permit

MONTEBELLO, N.Y. (AP) — A New York man is battling his village after he was issued citations for having beehives on his property.
Zev Oster says he keeps two beehives on his Rockland County property in Montebello to pollinate 50 blueberry bushes.
The 39-year-old man says he was ticketed for having the bees without a permit.
Mayor Jeff Oppenheim says the village doesn’t have an issue with the bees. He says Oster didn’t get a permit and went straight to construction.
Oster has created an online petition to let him keep the bees. He says he hopes to eventually plant 1,000 blueberry bushes on the property so residents can pick their own.
Oster is scheduled to address the violations in court on June 24.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Saturday 05-23-15

Drones are cool and have a lot of useful applications, and yes the cat is out of the box and you can not go back.  But they can be disastrous for you privacy also.

Exclusive: Brickell Key Woman Says Drone Spied On Her As She Breastfed

MIAMI (CBSMiami) — Imagine you’re in the privacy of your own home — possibly in a compromising position — and you turn around and  see a drone just a few feet from you. A Brickell Key woman says that’s what happened to her while she was breastfeeding her child earlier this week inside the family’s 12th floor condo.
Christina Alessi says she was sitting at her kitchen table breastfeeding her 15-month old daughter on Tuesday when she had a strange feeling.
“I was in a bit of a compromising position and I felt the feeling of someone staring at me and I looked up and there was a robot staring at me,” Alessi said.
She said it was a drone and she snapped a photo of it. She said it hovered just a few feet from her window for about 15 seconds, flew away and then returned. Alessi said she could see the lens on the drone.
“It was staring straight at me,” she said.
Alessi says her fear is that the drone recorded her.
“I could only assume that I was being recorded because there was a camera there,” she said. “This could be displayed again. I don’t know what purposes they could use it for. It seems like a pervert to me.”
She reported the drone to her building management but first she called her husband who wanted to exact some revenge.
“He says, ‘Well get a broom and swat that thing!’ she said. “I said, ‘I don’t know if it’s gonna come back’ but I got the broom handy.”
Alessi’s privacy concerns are real, says Michelle Richardson with the American Civil Liberties Union.
Richardson pointed to a new Florida law that will go into effect this summer — called the “Freedom from Unwarranted Surveillance Act” as a good first step towards regulating drones. Richardson said the law will impose civil penalties on drone users that capture images of unknowing people on private property where a person has a reasonable expectation of privacy.
“When you’re talking about looking into people’s homes and violating individual privacy, it’s an unchartered area,” Richardson said. “And we’re really doing this for the first time in Florida.”
Alessi hopes others hear her story and realize that no matter where you live or how high up there might be a high tech Peeping Tom keeping tabs on you.
“I think it’s scary,” she said. “I think it’s a little nerve-wracking that you can’t do what you want inside your house without knowing something is out there watching you do it.”
The federal government is aware of the privacy concerns. The Commerce Department is working on codes of conduct for drone users.
Also, there is legislation filed in Congress that would severely limit the use of the drones. The bill filed by Senator Edward Markey (D-Mass) would demand that anyone with a license to fly a drone disclose whether data will be collected by the drone and how that data will be used.

Common Core is nothing but garbage

Report: Common Core Lesson Plan Pushes Pro-Palestinian Agenda

A Massachusetts program for middle- and high-school students is coming under fire for its political bent and anti-Israel bias.

According to a report in the publication
The College Fix, the workshop teaches that Hamas and Fatah — which began as the Palestinian National Liberation Movement founded by Yasser Arafat — promote "more peaceful means than intifada"; that Hamas is a political party, not a terrorist group; that Fatah and Hamas are political parties equivalent to Likud and Labor in Israel; that the use of drones to stop terrorists are like high-tech suicide bombers who kill innocents; that Hamas and Jews have equal claim to Jerusalem; and that the Palestinians have equal claim to land where Israel exists today.

The lesson plan has been approved nationally for the Common Core curriculum, The College Fix reports.

The program, "Whose Jerusalem?" is offered through the nonprofit "Axis of Hope," which operates out of the Boston University Global Literary Institute, working with some 25 high schools in various states and three foreign schools, according to The College Fix.

And it is Common Core-approved, "despite its bias and serious flaws," charges Americans for Peace and Tolerance president Charles Jacobs, The College Fix says.

The workshop requires students to play the parts of Arab, Israeli, or American leaders negotiating a "best alternative to a negotiated agreement" for the division of Jerusalem.

Boston University instructor Carl Hobart, who created the program, insists the classes are
simple conflict resolution.

But Americans for Peace and Tolerance released a video April 23 aiming to show the
program's anti-Israel slant.

Story continues below video.

Hobart admitted to Al-Jazeera he hopes the exercises will lead students to "put pressure on our government to create a Palestinian state," The College Fix reports.

Jacobs is incensed, telling The College Fix: "At a time of growing anti-Semitism on U.S college campuses, it is very disturbing that both Boston University and Weston High School would permit or promote such biased educational materials in the classroom."


Friday, May 22, 2015

Friday 05-22-15

HOLD ONTO YOUR HATS–”CHANGE” IS COMING:  The White House has released “The National Security Implications of a Changing Climate,” a PR/battle plan for President Obama’s fundamental transformation of America.  Obama will use this document as the basis for remarks he will give to the Coast Guard Academy’s commencement.  A summary:
With climate change, certain types of extreme weather events and their impacts, including extreme heat, heavy downpours, floods, and droughts, have become more frequent and/or intense. In addition, warming is causing sea level to rise and glaciers and Arctic sea ice to melt. These and other aspects of climate change are disrupting people’s lives and damaging certain sectors of the economy. The national security implications of climate change impacts are far reaching, as they may exacerbate existing stressors, contributing to poverty, environmental degradation, and political instability, providing enabling environments for terrorist activity abroad.
Too bad the NOAA report, “Explaining Extremes of 2013 From a Climate Perspective,” debunked this whole climate-change-causes-extreme-weather claim. But again, global warming climate change isn’t really a battle about science; it’s a political wealth redistribution scheme disguised as science.
UPDATE:  House Homeland Security Committee Chair Michael McCaul (R-TX) says “Incredibly, the President’s proposed budget allocates more money for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to combat global warming than to counter violent extremism.”

NSA Planned to Hijack Google App Store to Hack Smartphones

The National Security Agency and its closest allies planned to hijack data links to Google and Samsung app stores to infect smartphones with spyware, a top-secret document reveals.
The surveillance project was launched by a joint electronic eavesdropping unit called the Network Tradecraft Advancement Team, which includes spies from each of the countries in the “Five Eyes” alliance — the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, New Zealand and Australia.
The top-secret document, obtained from NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, was published Wednesday by CBC News in collaboration with The Intercept. The document outlines a series of tactics that the NSA and its counterparts in the Five Eyes were working on during workshops held in Australia and Canada between November 2011 and February 2012.
The main purpose of the workshops was to find new ways to exploit smartphone technology for surveillance. The agencies used the Internet spying system XKEYSCORE to identify smartphone traffic flowing across Internet cables and then to track down smartphone connections to app marketplace servers operated by Samsung and Google. (Google declined to comment for this story. Samsung said it would not be commenting “at this time.”)
As part of a pilot project codenamed IRRITANT HORN, the agencies were developing a method to hack and hijack phone users’ connections to app stores so that they would be able to send malicious “implants” to targeted devices. The implants could then be used to collect data from the phones without their users noticing.
Previous disclosures from the Snowden files have shown agencies in the Five Eyes alliance designed spyware for iPhones and Android smartphones, enabling them to infect targeted phones and grab emails, texts, web history, call records, videos, photos and other files stored on them. But methods used by the agencies to get the spyware onto phones in the first place have remained unclear.
The newly published document shows how the agencies wanted to “exploit” app store servers  using them to launch so-called “man-in-the-middle” attacks to infect phones with the implants. A man-in-the-middle attack is a technique in which hackers place themselves between computers as they are communicating with each other; it is a tactic sometimes used by criminal hackers to defraud people. In this instance, the method would have allowed the surveillance agencies to modify the content of data packets passing between targeted smartphones and the app servers while an app was being downloaded or updated, inserting spyware that would be covertly sent to the phones.

But the agencies wanted to do more than just use app stores as a launching pad to infect phones with spyware. They were also keen to find ways to hijack them as a way of sending “selective misinformation to the targets’ handsets” as part of so-called “effects” operations that are used to spread propaganda or confuse adversaries. Moreover, the agencies wanted to gain access to companies’ app store servers so they could secretly use them for “harvesting” information about phone users.
The project was motivated in part by concerns about the possibility of “another Arab Spring,” which was sparked in Tunisia in December 2010 and later spread to countries across the Middle East and North Africa. Western governments and intelligence agencies were largely blindsided by those events, and the document detailing IRRITANT HORN suggests the spies wanted to be prepared to launch surveillance operations in the event of more unrest.
The agencies were particularly interested in the African region, focusing on Senegal, Sudan and the Congo. But the app stores targeted were located in a range of countries, including a Google app store server located in France and other companies’ app download servers in Cuba, Morocco, Switzerland, Bahamas, the Netherlands and Russia. (At the time, the Google app store was called the “Android Market”; it is now named Google Play.)
Another major outcome of the secret workshops was the agencies’ discovery of privacy vulnerabilities in UC Browser, a popular app used to browse the Internet across Asia, particularly in China and India. Though UC Browser is not well-known in Western countries, its massive Asian user base, a reported half billion people, means it is one of the most popular mobile Internet browsers in the world.
According to the top-secret document, the agencies discovered that the UC Browser app was leaking a gold mine of identifying information about its users’ phones. Some of the leaking information apparently helped the agencies uncover a communication channel linked to a foreign military unit believed to be plotting “covert activities” in Western countries. The discovery was celebrated by the spies as an “opportunity where potentially none may have existed before.”
Citizen Lab, a human rights and technology research group based at the University of Toronto, analyzed the Android version of the UC Browser app for CBC News and said it identified “major security and privacy issues” in its English and Chinese editions. The Citizen Lab researchers have authored their own detailed technical report outlining the many ways the app has been leaking data, including some users’ search queries, SIM card numbers and unique device IDs that can be used to track people.
Citizen Lab alerted UC Browser to the security gaps in mid-April; the company says it has now fixed them by rolling out an update for the app. A spokesperson for UC Browser’s parent company, Chinese e-commerce giant the Alibaba Group, told CBC News in a statement that it took security “very seriously and we do everything possible to protect our users.” The spokesperson added that the company had found “no evidence that any user information has been taken” — though it is not likely that surveillance of the leaking data would have been detectable.
The case strikes at the heart of a debate about whether spy agencies are putting ordinary people at risk by secretly exploiting security flaws in popular software instead of reporting them so that they can be fixed.
According to Citizen Lab Director Ron Deibert, the UC Browser vulnerability not only exposed millions of the app’s users to surveillance carried out by any number of governments — but it could also have been exploited by criminal hackers to harvest personal data.
“Of course, the security agencies don’t [disclose the information],” Deibert said. “Instead, they harbor the vulnerability. They essentially weaponize it.” Taking advantage of weaknesses in apps like UC Browser “may make sense from a very narrow national security mindset,” Deibert added, “but it’s at the expense of the privacy and security of hundreds of millions of users worldwide.”
The revelations are the latest to highlight tactics adopted by the Five Eyes agencies in their efforts to hack computers and exploit software vulnerabilities for surveillance. Last year, The Intercept reported that the NSA has worked with its partners to dramatically increase the scope of its hacking attacks and use of “implants” to infect computers. In some cases, the agency was shown to have masqueraded as a Facebook server in order to hack into computers.
The Intercept and CBC News contacted each of the Five Eyes agencies for comment on this story, but none would answer questions on record about any of the specific details.
A spokesperson for Canada’s Communications Security Establishment said that the agency was “mandated to collect foreign signals intelligence to protect Canada and Canadians from a variety of threats to our national security, including terrorism,” adding that it “does not direct its foreign signals intelligence activities at Canadians or anywhere in Canada.”
British agency Government Communications Headquarters said that its work was “carried out in accordance with a strict legal and policy framework, which ensures that our activities are authorised, necessary and proportionate.”
Australia’s Signals Directorate said it was “long-standing practice” not to discuss intelligence matters and would not comment further.
New Zealand’s Government Communications Security Bureau said that it has “a foreign intelligence mandate” and that everything it does is “explicitly authorised and subject to independent oversight.”
The NSA had not responded to repeated requests for comment at time of publication.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Thursday 05-21-15

Another good reason the home school
Middle School Teacher Let Students Have Sex In Classroom
GEORGIA — A Dekalb County school teacher, Champion Theme Middle, was arrested for allowing students to have sex in his classroom closet. This, after a mother told police of the allegations.
“I was in a state of disbelief when I read all these messages,” the mother told WSB-TV, referring to texts between her 14-year-old son and Quinton Wright, a math teacher and coach at Champion Theme Middle School in Stone Mountain. “Basically, he’s allowing the students to have sex in a storage room of his classroom.” The boy’s mother asked to remain anonymous.
The mother said she looked at her 14-year-old son’s phone and discovered a shocking exchange of text messages last Thursday between him and Quinton Wright, a math teacher and coach at Champion Theme Middle School in Stone Mountain.
“Ight, I’m going to bring my lab top to cut some of the noise back there,” reads one message allegedly sent by Wright.
“Ight,” the student responds.

“I ain’t got no condoms…Yall can’t be long,” reads Wright’s response.
“I’ll give u to money for it tomorrow can u get me a 3 pack of Trojan enz,” replies the student.
From CBS-Atlanta: “He told my son you can have it from 7:30 to like 8:30,” the mother said, reading more text messages to WSB. “’Did you tell the girl what’s going to happen? That she cannot tell anybody?’ Basically, don’t tell anyone I’m allowing you to use my room.”
The mother said the “sickening” and “disheartening” incident caused her to pull her eighth grade son from school Friday and contact the principal and police to file a complaint. The Dekalb County school system removed Wright from the classroom. She said she’s had her suspicions about the teacher for some time now.
“He called me when the kids are at their eighth-grade prom and asked if he could come over and take pictures with the boys before the prom, and I said no,” she said.
Boy Scouts of America bans water gun fights; ‘pointing a firearm’ is not kind
The Boy Scouts of America, an organization with semi-military origins, has put out approved activities for its members, and water gun fights are strictly prohibited.
A blog for the organization’s leaders said May 6 that pointing simulated firearms at people is not allowed.
“Why the rule? A Scouter once told me this explanation I liked quite a bit: A Scout is kind. What part of pointing a firearm [simulated or otherwise] at someone is kind?” said Bryan Wendell on the scouting website.

The rule is clarified in the Boy Scouts of America National Shooting Manual, which says “For water balloons, use small, biodegradable balloons, and fill them no larger than a ping pong ball. […] Water guns and rubber band guns must only be used to shoot at targets, and eye protection must be worn.”
The manual includes a lengthy list of other prohibited items — boomerangs, crossbows, potato guns, spear guns and throwing stars. Scouts also may not use “marshmallow shooters that require placing a straw or similar device in the mouth.”
Boy Scouts salute as they recite the pledge of allegiance during the ... more >
The Scouting movement began in the early 20th century Britain under the tutelage of Lt. Gen. Robert Baden-Powell, who wrote the first “Scouting for Boys” manual.
Baden-Powell learned from his military experiences in India and southern Africa that young soldiers often lacked outdoor-survival skills. He also cited the Mafeking Cadet Corps, a group of adolescent and pre-adolescent boys that he used to great success during the Second Boer War siege of that town. The boys eagerly took on such essential military duties as couriers and intelligence, freeing older soldiers for more-demanding tasks.
Numerous critical journalists and bloggers noted that Scouting when they were boys included such activities as bottle rockets, wooden sword fights and Midnight Football, which a Gawker author described as “a sort of combat rugby played in blackout conditions on a hard tile floor.”
Negative feedback flowed into the comments section of the blog, complaining of political correctness, of “turning boys into a bunch of wusses,” and of an out-of-touch national leadership.
“This makes BSA look ridiculous and has little if any impact on safety,” said Gary Holeiwnski.
“Sometimes I just have to laugh out loud at how idiotic some things in our society have become. We can’t squirt each other with water guns because it is a ‘simulated’ gun. I can’t believe BSA is so worried about the PC police that it has a policy like this,” added commenter Gary USMC.
“Yes, let’s carry every policy to the absurd extreme. That will certainly help scouts shed that geeky image,” added another commenter.
The Boy Scouts of America National Shooting Manual guidelines are to be followed by anyone involved with Cub Scouting, Boy Scouting, Venturing, Sea Scouting, or shooting sports committees, the document adds.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Wendsday 05-20-15

Getting ready to take a week off, might do some blogging not sure, but please check back occasionally.

Five brilliant ways to hide something in plain sight

You want to keep a spare key or some emergency cash hidden around the house or in your pocket. But by this point, I'd say most robbers know to check under the mat or inside that fake ceramic turtle. Watch this video to learn five really smart ways to hide something in plain sight.

Well it is about time, might be too late to shut the barn door, maybe some will stop on their own now.

Obama restricts police military gear, says it can alienate

President Barack Obama ended long-running federal transfers of some combat-style gear to local law enforcement on Monday in an attempt to ease tensions between police and minority communities, saying equipment made for the battlefield should not be a tool of American criminal justice.
Grenade launchers, bayonets, tracked armored vehicles, weaponized aircraft and vehicles, firearms and ammunition of .50-caliber or higher will no longer be provided to state and local police agencies by the federal government under Obama's order.
"We've seen how militarized gear can sometimes give people a feeling like there's an occupying force, as opposed to a force that's part of the community that's protecting them and serving them," Obama said, nine months after an outcry over the use of riot gear and armored vehicles by police confronting protesters in Ferguson, Missouri.
"It can alienate and intimidate local residents and send the wrong message," he said.
Obama made his announcement in Camden, New Jersey, where he praised efforts by the police department to improve their relationship with a poor community struggling with violence.
With police under increased scrutiny over highly publicized deaths of black suspects nationwide, Obama also unveiled the final report of a task force he created to help build confidence between police and minority communities. And he issued a broader appeal for Americans to address racial disparities and the needs of poor communities before they erupt into disorder.
He also reiterated his call for overhauling sentencing practices for nonviolent drug crimes.
"We can't ask the police to be the ones to solve the problem when there are no able-bodied men in the community or kids are growing up without intact households," he said.
In Camden, Obama visited the police Real-Time Tactical Operational Intelligence Center and watched live video displays of city neighborhoods being monitored by officers. He also stopped by a community center where he met with young people and local police officers.
Ahead of his Camden remarks, Obama stopped briefly in nearby Philadelphia to praise its police and fire officials for their quick response to last week's deadly Amtrak wreck.
In addition to the prohibitions in his order, Obama also is placing a longer list of military equipment under tighter control, including wheeled armored vehicles like Humvees, manned aircraft, drones, specialized firearms, explosives, battering rams and riot batons, helmets and shields. Starting in October, police will have to get approval from their city council, mayor or some other local governing body to obtain such equipment, provide a persuasive explanation of why it is needed and have more training and data collection on its use.
Programs that transfer surplus military-style equipment from the Pentagon and other federal agencies have been around for decades, but Congress increased spending to help departments acquire the gear in the wake of the 9/11 terror attacks.
The issue of police militarization rose to prominence last year after a white police officer in Ferguson fatally shot unarmed black 18-year-old Michael Brown, sparking protests. Critics questioned why police in full body armor with armored trucks responded to dispel demonstrators, and Obama seemed to sympathize when ordering a review of the programs that provide the equipment.
"There is a big difference between our military and our local law enforcement and we don't want those lines blurred," Obama said in August.
The review, published in December, showed five federal agencies spent $18 billion on programs that provided equipment, including 92,442 small arms, 44,275 night-vision devices, 5,235 Humvees, 617 mine-resistant vehicles and 616 aircraft. At the time, the White House defended the programs as proving to be useful in many cases, such as the response to the Boston Marathon bombing. Instead of repealing the programs, Obama issued an executive order that required federal agencies that run the programs to consult with law enforcement and civil rights and civil liberties organizations to recommend changes that make sure they are accountable and transparent.
The report from the 21st Century Policing task force has a long list of recommendations to improve trust in police, including encouraging more transparency about interactions with the public. The White House said 21 police agencies nationwide, including Camden and Philadelphia, have agreed to start putting out never-before released data on citizen interactions, like use of force, stops, citations and officer-involved shootings. The administration also is launching an online toolkit to encourage the use of body cameras to record police interactions. And the Justice Department is giving $163 million in grants to incentivize police departments to adopt the report's recommendations.

Sacramento, California, Mayor Kevin Johnson, the president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, praised Obama's actions, saying they "show how serious he is about doing this now and doing this right."

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Tuesday 05-19-15

Surveillance Without Borders

Right after Islamist militants attacked Charlie Hebdo and a kosher grocery in January, leaving 17 people dead, we swore we would not fall into the surveillance trap. The few voices in France clamoring for a security overhaul were drowned out by the “we are not afraid” slogans of crowds rallying in defense of free speech. Journalists, lawyers and politicians reminded everyone of the excesses of America’s Patriot Act. This was not the road France would take.
Yet four months later, on May 5, the lower house of Parliament passed a bill giving the nation’s intelligence services sweeping surveillance powers, including the massive collection and analysis of metadata. Next month the bill will go to the Senate, and the measure’s sponsors are confident it will become law by July.
Meanwhile, across the Atlantic, key provisions of the Patriot Act are set to expire by June 1. But the mood is already shifting: On Wednesday, the House approved a bill changing the Patriot Act to prohibit the government’s mass collection of Americans’ phone records. This follows a May 7 ruling by a federal appeals court in New York that the National Security Agency’s collection of such data is illegal. These steps come just two years after Edward J. Snowden revealed the giant secret surveillance program to the world.
"I’m under surveillance" was the slogan at a protest in Paris against the proposed law. Credit Charles Platiau/Reuters
The irony of the new French mind-set has not been lost on some U.S. liberals, while hawks have seized on the French bill to try to bolster their case for continued mass surveillance. But when American right-wing commentators praise the French, we know something’s fishy.
So, is France having its Big Brother moment? Not so fast. There are major differences between the broad legislation rushed through Congress after 9/11 and this text. This is not a legislature declaring a global war on terror, or allowing for the indefinite detention of aliens believed to be potential terrorists. It is not voting on an anti-terrorism bill, but on a long overdue legal framework for the activities of the intelligence services. Strangely enough, as a parliamentary report noted in 2014, France is “the only Western democracy without a legal framework for its intelligence services, exposing its agents to a legal vacuum, and posing potential threats to the fundamental liberties of its citizens.”
And this bill has been in the works for two years. The government took advantage of the terrorist attacks in January to invoke a procedure to accelerate the process by limiting both houses of Parliament to a single reading of the measure. Real debate on the issue has instead taken place outside of the legislature.
It has been a fierce and public debate. The bill’s opponents — civil liberties groups, environmental parties, the data protection agency and tech companies — criticize it for allowing “mass surveillance” without sufficient safeguards. To counter that argument, the independent committee in charge of overseeing data collection has been enlarged from nine to 13 members, concessions have been made to the tech sector, an amendment protecting whistle-blowers in the intelligence agencies has been added, and President Fran├žois Hollande has promised to ask the constitutional court to review the law once it has been passed. In turn, critics have hinted that they may appeal to the European Court of Human Rights, which has a strong record of protection of privacy.
The bill does have its weaknesses: its scope, which goes far beyond terrorist activities; the lack of proper judiciary control; the speed with which it is being rushed into law; the lack of any mention of a crucial encryption tool that has been used secretly since 2007; and the automated algorithms used to select suspicious patterns. All of these elements raise serious issues. One doesn’t need to know Orwell’s “1984” by heart nor to watch the film “Minority Report” over and over to sense the dangers.
So, given what we have learned since Mr. Snowden fled his country, how can a European democracy legalize surveillance on this scale?
France has a long history of Islamist terrorism going back to 1986 and 1995; it did not wait until 2001 to develop its own police and judiciary response, which was heavy-handed enough to spare the country from new deadly attacks until 2012. Intelligence gathering was part of this response. “I guess the French credit the police and the courts for protecting them from a number of dangers,” Pierre de Bousquet, then head of the domestic intelligence service, told me in an interview in 2005. Mr. de Bousquet claimed that, thanks to these actions, planned attacks on the soccer World Cup in Paris in 1998, on the Christmas market in Strasbourg in 2000 and again in Paris in 2003 had been prevented. He was already concerned by the new face of homegrown jihadism: “Younger, rougher, more radicalized.” Five young French jihadists had died fighting in Iraq, he noted.
Early this month, the official number of French jihadists killed in Syria and Iraq passed 100. The government estimates that about 1,000 French radical Islamists have joined the battle in Syria and Iraq. This was not a factor when the Patriot Act was passed in America. It is now a painful issue within our societies.
The French sociologist Didier Bigo says that electronic surveillance is a way of dealing with terrorism without having to address the political problems of the banlieues and of Western intervention in the Middle East. “Technological intelligence is a depoliticization tool,” he told the newsmagazine L’Obs.
France is also a country that does not shy away from the use of force abroad and loves to parade its armed forces on Bastille Day. Mr. Hollande was the first European leader to forgive President Obama after the Snowden revelations, on a visit to Washington in February 2014. He has also kept silent about the latest snooping scandal, after revelations last month that the N.S.A. had been spying on French officials and Airbus Industries, courtesy of the B.N.D., Germany’s intelligence service.
Welcome to the murky new world of surveillance without borders. Chancellor Angela Merkel’s world where “friends don’t spy on each other” now sounds so 20th-century; in today’s world “friends do spy on each other’s friends.” Citizens have grown so accustomed to giving away big data for private use that governments using metadata to protect them from terrorists may not seem so wrong after all. Technological prowess makes the line between privacy and security ever more unclear, and the job of checks and balances ever more complex — something Edward Snowden, about to start his third year somewhere in Moscow, knows all too well.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Monday 05-18-15

Exclusive: Sysco sees U.S. bird flu hurting egg supply up to 18 months

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Food distributor Sysco Corp said on Friday that a record U.S. outbreak of avian flu would limit its supply of eggs and chickens that lay them for nine to 18 months, based on information provided to the company by its suppliers.
Sysco is the biggest U.S. food distributor, whose clients include restaurants, hotels and hospitals. The company is discussing options with its customers, including creating alternative menu items during the period, a Sysco spokesman said in an email.
It is too soon to tell whether the supply squeeze will have a material impact on financial results, spokesman Charley Wilson said. Eggs represent a small portion of the company's dairy products segment, which accounted for 11 percent of revenue in 2014.
The U.S. poultry and egg industry is grappling with the country's biggest outbreak on record of avian influenza, which has proven highly infectious and deadly for poultry. Governors in Nebraska, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Iowa have declared a state of emergency, and the outbreak has shown few signs of waning.
Earlier this week, Cargill Inc [CARG.UL] said it has implemented increased biosecurity measures at its facilities receiving liquid egg tankers and shell eggs from impacted states and that it is working with egg suppliers to ensure they are employing measures to prevent spread of the flu.
Meanwhile, on Thursday, Post Holdings Inc, calling the flu a "force majeure event," said it now estimates that 25 percent of its egg supply has been affected. Sysco is a major customer for Post's Michael Foods business, which sells egg products, according to filings.
Stifel Nicolaus analyst Christopher Growe expects Post's previous estimate of a $20 million financial impact in 2015 to at least double, according to a research note.
Growe said that Post's contracts require the company to go to the open market and to third parties to replace the lost supply at high prices. "We believe that by declaring force majeure, the company will be able to either pass higher prices onto customers or be relieved from the mandatory supply requirements," he wrote.

Live forever? Maybe, by uploading your brain

Uploading your brain to a computer is closer to becoming a reality.
"Taking a mind and offloading it to software is consistent with physics, and it's something that I think will be done in this century," said Martine Rothblatt, founder of Sirius Satellite Radio and CEO of United Therapeutics, during an interview at eMerge Americas on Monday. (Tweet This)
Rothblatt said she shares the beliefs of computer scientist Ray Kurzweil that technology advancements will ultimately enable human being to live forever. And one of the first stages in this process could include preserving a human's brain in software to keep them alive after the body has died.
Rothblatt's company United Therapeutics does work in transplanting organs, and she said her experience in the field has helped shape her views on the matter.
"I think it was not a very big stretch for me to ask myself: 'What if you transplanted their minds into software? Would they be able to stay alive in the software while perhaps technology continued to advance?'" she said. "And just like we regenerate lungs and we regenerate hearts, perhaps, ultimately, people can regenerate brain tissue so their minds can rewritten into brain tissue."
While uploading a human brain is obviously not yet a reality, pieces of a person's habit and mannerism can be captured and stored by collecting data from their digital life, she said.
Rothblatt said she has created a nonprofit where people can store their "mind files," which are basically records of a person's digital life, including Facebook, Google and other social media posts.
"All of these things are kept in a mind file and so in the future when software does catch up with Kurzweil's predictions, all of their thoughts and memories will be there [for that use]," Rothblatt added.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Sunday 05-17-15

By mistake, really?  The mistake was trying to hide it.  Oh you have a bridge to sell me also, well that would be more believable.

Former NSA official: Secret phone records grab a mistake

The decision to keep secret the National Security Agency's collection of American calling records was a strategic blunder that set the stage for Edward Snowden's unauthorized disclosures and ultimately harmed U.S. national security, the agency's former inspector general told NSA employees in blunt remarks Friday.
"You now live in a glass house," Joel Brenner, NSA inspector general from 2002 to 2006, said in a speech marking the 40th anniversary of the congressional hearings into the intelligence scandals of the Watergate era. "How could anyone think the bulk collection program would remain secret?"
It's not that there no longer can be national security secrets, said Brenner, a lawyer who retired in 2009 after serving as the top U.S. counterintelligence official. But "the idea that the broad rules governing your activities -not specific operations, but the broad rules-can be kept secret is a delusion. And they should not be kept secret."
Snowden, a former NSA systems administrator, has said he decided to leak thousands of top secret documents to journalists because of what he viewed as deception by Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, when he denied to Congress in 2013 that the U.S. was collecting records on millions of Americans. But Snowden went on to reveal programs that had nothing to do with domestic surveillance, but rather involved NSA's foreign intelligence gathering operations.
Clapper and other officials have said they wished the government had been more transparent about the NSA program that since 2002 has collected and stored records of nearly all American landline phone calls for use in counterterrorism investigations, but none put it as starkly as Brenner did. Congress is now debating whether to end the program before the Patriot Act provisions allowing it expire on June 1.
"If you disagree with me on this, do your own damage assessment," Brenner said, according to text of his remarks that he provided. "In the wake of Snowden, our country has lost control of the geopolitical narrative; our companies have lost more than $100 billion in business and counting."
Intelligence collection "has surely suffered," he said, as has NSA morale. And "the damage from the Snowden leaks to American foreign intelligence operations, to American prestige, and to American power ... has unquestionably been vastly greater" than if the George W. Bush administration had gone to Congress in 2002 to seek legislation authorizing the collection of U.S. phone records.
The Bush administration didn't want to do that for political reasons, Brenner said, and neither did the Obama administration.
Instead, both presidents relied on a classified interpretation of the Patriot Act by a secret intelligence court. And the NSA collected the records secretly.
When Snowden revealed the program in 2013, "the argument that the agency was operating under `secret law' had legs with the public, much of which is allergic to bulk collection and doubts its value," Brenner said.
The criticism over the Snowden revelations has been hard for career intelligence professionals to swallow, Brenner said, given that there has been no evidence of the sort of abuses that were uncovered by Sen. Frank Church and Rep. Otis Pike 40 years ago.
Much of the Snowden leaks simply showed "how extremely good NSA really is at its business," Brenner said. And "there hasn't been even a whiff of intelligence abuse for political purposes," he said. "This was the only intelligence scandal in history involving practices approved by Congress and the federal courts and the president."
By contrast, he said, the NSA's Project Minaret, exposed by the Church Committee, eavesdropped without warrants on 1,650 Americans who were considered political targets, including two senators, many critics of the Vietnam War, prominent journalists, and the boxer Muhammad Ali.
"Everyone associated with these various programs thought that he was a patriot acting in the national interest," Brenner said "Which is precisely why subjective notions of patriotism and national security are insufficient guides for people and agencies that claim to operate under law in a democratic republic."

Hope he can sell the tee shirts, because the rest of what he trying to sell is starting to stink.  Hope he recovers and lives a long life.

Texas Teen Says He Saw Jesus Before Being Revived

Doctors can’t seem to explain it, but one Texas family is sure it was the hand of God that brought their son back to life.
17-year-old Zack Clements is a strong, healthy and outgoing high school athlete. He goes to school and plays football at Victory Life Academy in Brownwood, Texas.
It was there last week the teen suddenly collapsed while running in P.E. class.
He was rushed to the hospital where doctors worked to revive him.
According to Clements, “they said I was without a heart beat for 20 minutes.”
When doctors finally got a pulse, Clements was airlifted to Cook Children’s Hospital in Fort Worth.  He would wake up there in the intensive care unit days later.
His recovery has been hard to believe, but even more amazing is the story he tells of what he saw when his heart stopped beating.
“When I was out those 20 minutes, I saw a man who had long ruffled hair and kind of a thick beard, and it didn’t take me long to realize that that was Jesus,” he said.
He described what the family is convinced was a miracle.

“I went up to him and he put his hand on my shoulder and he told me everything would be alright and not to worry.”
His father Billy Clements says he know it’s a difficult story for many people to accept, however for him and his family, it’s the only thing that makes sense.
“For him to wake up and tell us something he experienced like that. It’s just you can’t explain it. It’s not humanly possible to explain it,” said Billy Clements.
The teen’s mother, Teresa Clements says although it may be a medical mystery to doctors, she has accepted that her son coming back to life was a result of divine intervention.
“I’m just glad he decided to let me have my baby back,” said Teresa Clements.
As for the Zack, he plans on going back to school in Brownwood as soon as he is given the all clear at Cook Children’s Hospital.  He expects that to happen in the next few days.
The family is hoping to raise money for Zack’s medical bills.  To make a donation click here.  They are also raising money by selling T-shirts.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Saturday 05-16-15

Now it comes here, I wonder where they got the idea and how much it was criticized by our government for doing now, the same people are doing it.

North country residents have mixed views on U.S. border patrol checkpoints

North country residents have mixed views — and strong opinions — about the value of traffic checkpoints routinely set up by U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents assigned to monitor the American side of the U.S.-Canadian border.
Based on random interviews, several said they believe border checkpoints are necessary to keep illicit drugs, illegal immigrants and other unlawful activities out of the country.
However, many also said they’re concerned that too many law enforcement officials — including border patrol agents — unlawfully stretch their authority by using aggressive tactics when interrogating law-abiding citizens traveling in their own country.
Last week, Jessica A. Cooke, 21, Ogdensburg, was pulled over at a border checkpoint in Waddington by border patrol agents who wanted to search her car’s trunk. During an altercation that followed, Ms. Cooke allegedly was subdued with a stun gun.
The incident, which was captured on a cellphone video taken by Ms. Cooke, has prompted a spirited debate on social media sites. Ms. Cooke, a SUNY Canton criminal justice major who graduated Saturday, claims she was wrongfully assaulted and has threatened to file a lawsuit.
Several people said they believed both parties deserve some blame for the altercation: Ms. Cooke for provoking agents with an uncooperative attitude and the agents for using excessive force to restrain her.
Here’s a sampling of opinions of area residents and visitors:
William C. Hill, Edwards, said he has driven through checkpoints on several occasions and never had a problem. Usually, agents ask drivers where they’re from and where they’re going. Occasionally, they ask drivers to pull over for further questioning or to inspect their vehicle.
“I’m all for border patrol checks. Look at the drugs seized weekly by these that would otherwise go right onto the streets,” Mr. Hill said in an email. “If you have nothing to hide, why be a jerk? Just cooperate.”
Heather M. Wells, 29, Ogdensburg, said she and her husband pass through checkpoints occasionally on Route 37 when they’re heading to the St. Regis Mohawk Reservation to purchase cigarettes.
“I think we’re close to a border so we should have checkpoints,” Mrs. Wells said. “If you don’t give them a reason to stop you, they won’t.”
In Watertown, Antonio F. Gigliotti said he does not consider road checkpoints set up by the Border Patrol to be cause for concern.
“They don’t bother me,” he said.
Mr. Gigliotti said he has traveled through checkpoints before without an issue. He said since he does not have anything to hide, he never feels worried when he passes through one.
Tonya Fulmore, Watertown, agreed. She said road checkpoints are necessary to keep our border secure.
“I think if they are protecting the border, they have every right to be there,” she said.
William R. Wagstaff Jr., Massena, said he believes border patrol agents at times abuse their power by asking to inspect vehicles without having reasonable suspicion that a crime has been committed.
“This woman had every right to refuse to open her trunk,” Mr. Wagstaff said in an email. “I have refused several times to let them search me and put their K-9 in my vehicle.”
Mr. Wagstaff said he filed a complaint with the Department of Homeland Security in Washington, D.C., and received a letter of apology. He also filed a complaint with border patrol officials in Swanton, Vt.
“Now I don’t get harassed anymore,” he said.
A 26-year-old SUNY Canton student who asked that his name be withheld said he has personally experienced aggressive questioning by border patrol agents in Buffalo where he resides. He believes he was targeted because he is a black man who was traveling to Grand Island, a predominately white community.
“Protection is definitely needed, but it’s wrong when that authority gets abused,” he said. “They (border patrol agents) have a role to play, but it must be contained in that role.”
Referring to Ms. Cooke’s situation, he said, “Her tone was a little abrasive, but they shouldn’t have put their hands on her. She wasn’t a threat to them or anyone around her.”
Edward B. Foote, 21, Canton, said he felt border patrol checkpoints were necessary to catch people with illegal drugs.
“They (border patrol) probably push the limits sometimes, but I’ve never had that experience,” Mr. Foote said.
John Woodard Jr., Massena, said he believed the patrol officer in question in Ms. Cooke’s case went overboard with his behavior.
“I think it was a little too excessive, actually,” Mr. Woodard said. “I think they’ve got a lot of stipulations for you to get across the border. People that have just minor felonies can’t even go across the border.”
Tim Drew, an Arizona resident who was interviewed in Massena, said while he has had limited experience dealing with border patrol on the U.S.-Canada line, he said he is familiar with border issues on the border with Mexico.
“Federal law enforcement has a job to do and sometimes even following procedures, sometimes innocent people do get injured. But there are procedures and things of that nature to fix those kinds of things,” Mr. Drew said. “I mean it’s regrettable, but when you enforce procedures in light of the recent security situations, innocent people do sometimes get hurt and it’s unfortunate, but I don’t find it to be wrong.”

Even if you don't like turkey you should be concerned.

Nebraska Has Ordered a State of Emergency Over Bird Flu

Over 33 million birds in 16 states have now been affected by the pathogen
Governor Pete Ricketts ordered a state of emergency Thursday after Nebraska’s Department of Agriculture confirmed the highly contagious H5N2 avian flu virus had infected a second farm.
The declaration opens up emergency funding in the hopes it can help contain the pathogen that now threatens what is, according to local officials, a $1.1 billion poultry industry in Nebraska.
“While not a human health threat, the discovery of avian influenza is a serious situation for our poultry sector, and I want to provide responders with access to all appropriate tools to address it,” said Ricketts in a statement.
The proclamation follows similar actions taken in Wisconsin, Minnesota and Iowa. More than 33 million birds in 16 states have now been affected by the outbreak, which originated in a small backyard flock in Oregon.
The outbreak has hit Americans’ pocketbooks as, the Associated Press reports, the price of large eggs in the Midwest rose by 17% since mid-April and other price increases are being seen in turkey, boneless breast meat and mixing eggs.
The declaration opens up emergency funding in the hopes it can help contain the pathogen that now threatens what is, according to local officials, a $1.1 billion poultry industry in Nebraska.

“While not a human health threat, the discovery of avian influenza is a serious situation for our poultry sector, and I want to provide responders with access to all appropriate tools to address it,” said Ricketts in a statement.

(you can read the rest at)