Saturday, April 30, 2016

Saturday 04-30-16

ICE releases 19,723 criminal illegals, 208 convicted of murder, 900 of sex crimes

The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency in 2015 decided not to deport but release 19,723 criminal illegal immigrants, including 208 convicted of murder, over 900 convicted of sex crimes and 12,307 of drunk driving, according to new government numbers.

Overall, those released into virtually every state and territory of America had a total of 64,197 convictions among them, for an average of 3.25 convictions each, according to an analysis by the Center for Immigration Studies. ICE also said that the group were convicted of 8,234 violent crimes.

Meanwhile, ICE said that it has also slashed the number of criminals arrested in local communities, according to the Center's Director of Policy Studies, Jessica M. Vaughan. "In 2015, ICE made 119,772 arrests, or just half the number of arrests made in 2013, 232,287," she said in her analysis that also included a map of the releases.

The reason: Under President Obama's immigration policy changes, many criminal immigrants are being ignored even though local police and sheriff have urged ICE to take control of criminals in their jails and deport them.

She said that the slash of arrests is why the number of releases by ICE is down. In 2014, 30,000 criminal illegals were released. 

The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on Thursday is holding a hearing on the issue of the releases. In a preview of the issues in the hearing, the committee said, "Each year, Immigration and Customs Enforcement releases tens of thousands of criminal aliens eligible for deportation. After release, many go on to commit additional crimes. With new restrictions on immigration enforcement through the president's executive actions, only narrow classes of removable aliens are priorities for arrest, questioning, detention, or removal. Therefore, millions of removable aliens will be able to remain in the country."

ICE for the first time explained why the illegals were released, with more than half ordered free by courts and in over 2,100 cases because their home countries didn't want them back.
The issue of released criminal illegal immigrants has erupted on the presidential campaign trail and in Congress, especially because several have gone on to commit further crimes, including murder. Republican front runner Donald Trump, for example, refers to the 2015 murder of Kate Steinle by a released criminal undocumented immigrant on a popular San Francisco pier.

It's a typical story, according to Vaughan, who wrote: "When ICE releases criminal aliens instead of deporting them, the chances are high that the aliens will re-offend. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, approximately 71 percent of violent offenders, 77 percent of drug offenders, and 82 percent of property offenders will be arrested for a new crime within five years of release from jail or prison. Drunk drivers are especially prone to offend repeatedly. According to an FBI statistic cited by Mothers Against Drunk Driving, the average drunk driver has driven drunk 80 times before ever being arrested."

Friday, April 29, 2016

Friday 04-29-16

CIA-Backed Artificial Intelligence Firm To Spy on Wall Street Traders

Swiss multinational bank, Credit Suisse, will collaborate with data analysis firm, Palantir, to launch a trader surveillance program. According to Bloomberg’s Jeffrey Voegeli, the joint venture, called Signac, aims to catch rogue Wall Streeters engaged in illegal trading. It comes in the wake of a number of trading scandals in recent years that have cost banks billions of dollars.
Palantir was co-founded by Peter Thiel and seed-funded by the CIA. The company was funded in part by In-Q-Tel Inc., the venture capital investment arm of the CIA that has a long, symbiotic history with startups, the NSA, the FBI, and DARPA. In fact, In-Q-Tel specifically funds tech start-ups “to advance ‘priority’ technologies of value” in the intelligence community. The group has ties to Donald Rumsfeld’s Total Information Awareness initiative and is believed by some to have worked closely with Google in its earliest years.
Palantir itself has lived in the shadows since its 2004 inception, working primarily to create a proprietary data mining system used by law enforcement agencies, finance firms, and security companies to isolate criminality. For example, Palantir’s software was used to analyze the troves of millions of documents related to the Bernie Madoff scandal.
Palantir has an extensive relationship with the U.S. government, and includes among its clients the CIA, DHS, NSA, FBI, the CDC, the Marine Corps, the Air Force, Special Operations Command, West Point, the Joint IED-defeat organization and Allies, the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board, and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
Another client is the Los Angeles Police Department. A leaked document from 2013 included a quote from Sergeant Peter Jackson, who said Palantir’s technology is allowing the LAPD to become more efficient.
The new trader surveillance co-venture comes at a time when Credit Suisse finds itself in dire straits. After adhering to a so-called Pursuit of Revenue “At All Costs” policy, the company now finds itself facing $90 billion of distressed debt and rampant illiquidity.
Now bank executives view the problem as stemming largely from rogue traders, and believe Signac will help them turn things around. Signac will use algorithmic artificial intelligence to monitor unauthorized trades.
It is perhaps worth noting that Signac will monitor internal transactions that harm Credit Suisse – not any of the myriad transgressions made by the financial industry at large, such as the kinds of predatory lending we saw prior to the Great Recession. We may have to wait for a larger, more aggressive artificial intelligence presence for that kind of oversight.


Gerald Celente – The Dream Is Dying As Americans Now Consume 80% Of Global Painkillers

Having made its mark and had its day, the USA is following a familiar path toward self-destruction taken by empires past, both famous and forgotten. Just as the 20th century, “The American Century,” faded into history, so too has the nation’s glory and prestige.
King World News - Paul Craig Roberts - The U.S. Economy Continues Its CollapseAn America In Decline
While politicians lie, the numbers don’t. On the economic front, according to The Pew Research Center, “Americans are less well-to-do now than at the start of the 21st century. For all income tiers, median incomes in 2014 were lower than in 2000. These reversals are the result of two recessions – the downturn in 2001 and the Great Recession of 2007-09 – and economic recoveries that have been too anemic to fully repair the damage.”

Once the “land of opportunity,” the gap between the rich and poor in America is the widest among all the developed nations. A report by the University of Michigan illustrates the Gilded Age wealth inequality that now prevails. The median American household was 13.6 times poorer than an average household in the 95th percentile in 2003. By 2013, the average household in the 95th percentile (top 5 percent) was 24.2 times richer than the median household and 426.5 times richer than the average household in the 25th percentile.
KWN Celente I 4:27:2016
The American Dream Is Dying
As America’s economy declines, its society decays. With less than 5 percent of the world’s population, Americans consume 80 percent of the entire global supply of pain killers… a 300 percent increase since 1999. Suicides in the US have surged 24 percent from 1999 to 2014, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. Out of work, out of luck and deep in despair, the numbers add up to shorter lives. In a sharp reversal from earlier decades when successive generation’s living standards rose and so did their life expectancy… white Americans’ lifespan is now in decline.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Thursday 04-28-16

Reports: Drug Cartels Assisting ISIS Terrorists Into US
Mexican drug traffickers help Islamic ISIS terrorists stationed in Mexico cross into the United States to explore targets for future attacks, according to information forwarded to Judicial Watch by a high-ranking Homeland Security official in a border state. Among the jihadists that travel back and forth through the porous southern border is a Kuwaiti named Shaykh Mahmood Omar Khabir, an ISIS operative who lives in the Mexican state of Chihuahua not far from El Paso, Texas. Khabir trained hundreds of Al Qaeda fighters in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Yemen and has lived in Mexico for more than a year, according to information provided by Judicial Watch’s government source.
Now Khabir trains thousands of men—mostly Syrians and Yemenis—to fight in an ISIS base situated in the Mexico-U.S. border region near Ciudad Juárez, the intelligence gathered by JW’s source reveals. Staking out U.S. targets is not difficult and Khabir actually brags in an Italian newspaper article published last week that the border region is so open that he “could get in with a handful of men, and kill thousands of people in Texas or in Arizona in the space of a few hours.” Foreign Affairs Secretary Claudia Ruiz, Mexico’s top diplomat, says in the article that she doesn’t understand why the Obama administration and the U.S. media are “culpably neglecting this phenomenon,” adding that “this new wave of fundamentalism could have nasty surprises in store for the United States.”


This disturbing development appears on the Open Source Enterprise, the government database that collects and analyzes valuable material from worldwide print, broadcast and online media sources for the U.S. intelligence community. Only registered federal, state and local government employees can view information and analysis in the vast database and unauthorized access can lead to criminal charges. Updated data gathered on Khabir reveals he’s 52 years old and was ordered to leave Kuwait about a decade ago over his extremist positions. Khabir is currently on ISIS’s (also known as ISIL) payroll and operates a cell in an area of Mexico known as Anapra, according to the recently obtained information.
A year ago Judicial Watch reported on an ISIS camp in this exact area, just a few miles from El Paso. JW’s April 14, 2015 report identified Anapra as the location of the ISIS base, details that were provided to JW by sources that include a Mexican Army field grade officer and a Mexican Federal Police Inspector. Anapra is situated just west of Ciudad Juárez in the Mexican state of Chihuahua. At the time JW reported that another ISIS cell was established to the west of Ciudad Juárez, in Puerto Palomas to target the New Mexico towns of Columbus and Deming. Sources told JW that, during the course of a joint operation, Mexican Army and federal law enforcement officials discovered documents in Arabic and Urdu, as well as “plans” of Fort Bliss – the sprawling military installation that houses the US Army’s 1st Armored Division. Muslim prayer rugs were recovered with the documents during the operation.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Wednesday 04-27-16

Ron Paul Asks "What Did Fed Chairman Yellen Tell Obama?"

As we reported yesterday, following the meeting held between Obama and Yellen last Monday, one reader tried to get some additional information on what was exchanged between the two most important people in the world beyond the cursory White House statement which is reposted below:
The President and Chair Yellen met this afternoon in the Oval Office as part of an ongoing dialogue on the state of the economy. They discussed both the near and long-term growth outlook, the state of the labor market, inequality, and potential risks to the economy, both in the United States and globally. They also discussed the significant progress that has been made through the continued implementation of Wall Street Reform to strengthen our financial system and protect consumers.
Dissatisfied with the token boilerplate language, the reader requested the minutes from said meeting. The Fed's response: "we don't keep those."

It goes without saying that with both the White House and the Fed eager to prevent the disclosure of what was said leaking into the public arena, that it had to be quite important.

How improtant? Here is Ron Paul with his own take on the question of:
"What Did Fed Chairman Yellen Tell Obama?
 Last week, President Obama and Vice President Biden held a hastily arranged secret meeting with Federal Reserve Chairman Janet Yellen. According to the one paragraph statement released by the White House following the meeting, Yellen, Obama, and Biden simply “exchanged notes” about the economy and the progress of financial reform. Because the meeting was held behind closed doors, the American people have no way of knowing what else the three might have discussed.
Yellen’s secret meeting at the White House followed an emergency secret Federal Reserve Board meeting. The Fed then held another secret meeting to discuss bank reform. These secret meetings come on the heels of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta’s estimate that first quarter GDP growth was .01 percent, dangerously close to the official definition of recession.
Thus the real reason for all these secret meetings could be a panic that the Fed’s eight year explosion of money creation has not just failed to revive the economy, but is about to cause another major market meltdown.
Establishment politicians and economists find the Fed’s failures puzzling. According to the Keynesian paradigm that still dominates the thinking of most policymakers, the Fed’s money creation should have produced such robust growth that today the Fed would be raising interest rates to prevent the economy from “overheating.”
The Fed’s response to its failures is to find new ways to pump money into the economy. Hence the Fed is actually considering implementing “negative interest rates.” Negative interest rates are a hidden tax on savings. Negative interest rates may create the short-term illusion of growth, but, by discouraging savings, they will cause tremendous long-term economic damage.
Even as Yellen admits that the Fed "has not taken negative interest rates off the table," she and other Fed officials are still promising to raise rates this year. The Federal Reserve needs to promise future rate increases in order to stop nervous investors from fleeing US markets and challenging the dollar’s reserve currency status.
The Fed can only keep the wolves at bay with promises of future rate increases for so long before its polices cause a major dollar crisis. However, raising rates could also cause major economic problems. Higher interest rates will hurt the millions of Americans struggling with student loan, credit card, and other forms of debt. Already over 40 percent of Americans who owe student loan debt are defaulting on their payments. If Federal Reserve policies increase the burden of student loan debt, the number of defaults will dramatically increase leading to a bursting of the student loan bubble.
By increasing the federal government's cost of borrowing, an interest rate increase will also make it harder for the federal government to manage its debt. Increased costs of debt financing will place increased burden on the American people and could be the last straw that finally pushes the federal government into a Greek-style financial crisis.
The no-win situation the Fed finds itself in is a sign that we are reaching the inevitable collapse of the fiat currency system. Unless immediate steps are taken to manage the transition, this collapse could usher in an economic catastrophe dwarfing the Great Depression. Therefore, those of us who know the truth must redouble our efforts to spread the ideas of liberty.
If we are successful we may be able to force Congress to properly manage the transition by cutting spending in all areas and auditing, then ending, the Federal Reserve. We may also be able to ensure the current crisis ends not just the Fed but the entire welfare-warfare state.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Tuesday 04-26-16

Common sense

Bright flash of light marks incredible moment life begins when sperm meets egg

Human life begins in bright flash of light as a sperm meets an egg, scientists have shown for the first time, after capturing the astonishing ‘fireworks’ on film.
An explosion of tiny sparks erupts from the egg at the exact moment of conception.
Scientists had seen the phenomenon occur in other animals but it is the first time is has been also shown to happen in humans.
Not only is it an incredible spectacle, highlighting the very moment that a new life begins, the size of the flash can be used to determine the quality of the fertilised egg.
Researchers from Northwestern University, in Chicago, noticed that some of the eggs burn brighter than others, showing that they are more likely to produce a healthy baby.
Eggs flash as they meet sperm enzyme, capturing the moment that life begins
Eggs flash as they meet sperm enzyme, capturing the moment that life begins Credit: NORTHWESTERN UNIVERSITY 
The discovery could help fertility doctors pick the best fertilised eggs to transfer during in vitro fertilisation (IVF).
“It was remarkable,” said Professor Teresa Woodruff, one of the study’s two senior authors and an expert in ovarian biology at Northwestern.
“We discovered the zinc spark just five years ago in the mouse, and to see the zinc radiate out in a burst from each human egg was breathtaking.
“This means if you can look at the zinc spark at the time of fertilization, you will know immediately which eggs are the good ones to transfer in in vitro fertilization.
“It’s a way of sorting egg quality in a way we’ve never been able to assess before. “All of biology starts at the time of fertilization, yet we know next to nothing about the events that occur in the human.”
A fluorescent flash captures the moment that sperm enzyme enters the egg
A fluorescent flash captures the moment that sperm enzyme enters the egg Credit: Northwestern University 
Currently around 50 per cent of fertilised eggs do not develop properly and experts believe that faulty genetic code could be responsible.
Some clinics take videos of the egg developing to try pick up problems early, while others check for genetic mutations, but that is an invasive procedure which can damage the tiny egg. Often it is just down to a clinician decided which eggs look the healthiest.
But the new findings could give and extra indication that an egg is flourishing. A video of nine human eggs coming into contact with sperm enzyme showed two flashed much brighter than the rest.
“This is an important discovery because it may give us a non-invasive and easily visible way to assess the health of an egg and eventually an embryo before implantation,” said co-author Dr Eve Feinberg, who took care of the patients who provided eggs for the basic science study and collaborated with the research team. 
“There are no tools currently available that tell us if it’s a good quality egg. Often we don’t know whether the egg or embryo is truly viable until we see if a pregnancy ensues.
“That’s the reason this is so transformative. If we have the ability up front to see what is a good egg and what’s not, it will help us know which embryo to transfer, avoid a lot of heartache and achieve pregnancy much more quickly.”
The top right and bottom left egg flashed brighter showing they were healthier 
The top right and bottom left egg flashed brighter showing they were healthier  Credit: Northwestern University 
The bright flash occurs because when sperm enters and egg it triggers calcium to increase which releases zinc from the egg. As the zinc shoots out, it binds to small molecules which emit a fluorescence which can be picked up my camera microscopes.
Over the last six years this team has shown that zinc controls the decision to grow and change into a completely new genetic organism.
In the experiment, scientists use sperm enzyme rather than actual sperm to show what happens at the moment of conception.
“These fluorescence microscopy studies establish that the zinc spark occurs in human egg biology, and that can be observed outside of the cell,” said Professor Tom O’Halloran, a co-senior author. 
In a companion paper published in Scientific Reports on March 18, a zinc spark is shown at the precise time a sperm enters a mouse egg.
This discovery was made by Zhang, a postdoctoral fellow at Northwestern.  Little is known about the events that occur at the time of fertilization, because it is difficult to capture the precise time of sperm entry.
The study will be published April 26 in Scientific Reports.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Monday 04-25-16

Does this really surprise anyone at all.

Report: Children of refugees get more federal benefits than poor U.S. kids

America loves kids, but Uncle Sam has a favorite: children of refugees.

Among recipients of food stamps, welfare cash and Social Security payments, refugee children receive more in taxpayer-funded aid than children of citizens, according to a new report on federal spending from the pro-immigration Migration Policy Institute.

For example, 30 percent of refugee children live in households that received food stamps from 2009-13. Among American children, the number was 27 percent, said the report titled, "Young Children of Refugees in the United States: Integration Successes and Challenges."

Some 8 percent received cash welfare, compared with 6 percent of U.S. citizen households. And 5 percent of children of refugees were part of Social Security's Supplemental Security Income program, compared with 4 percent of U.S. children.

The reason? The report said that aid is typically higher to refugees because they arrive poor, a situation likely to hit hard when an estimated 20,000 Syrian refugees arrive in the U.S. before the end of the year.

Just a taste of things to come, can McDonalds still sell the same hamburger for the same price in one city that has a 10 dollar minimum wage and in another city where it is 15 an hour.  Should they charge more in one city then the other or just spread the loss around to everyone equally?

UC Berkeley Touts $15 Minimum Wage Law, Then Fires Hundreds Of Workers After It Passes

labor Markets: Hundreds of employees at the University of California at Berkeley are getting schooled in basic economics, as the $15 minimum wage just cost them their jobs. Too bad liberal elites “fighting for $15” don’t get it.
A week after California Gov. Jerry Brown signed the state’s $15 minimum wage boost into law, UC Berkeley Chancellor Nicholas Dirks sent a memo to employees announcing that 500 jobs were getting cut.
Coincidence? Not really.
Last year, University of California President Janet Napolitano announced plans to boost its minimum wage to $15 at the start of next school year, independent of the state law. Since UC Berkeley was already in financial trouble — it ran a $109 million deficit last year and is projecting a deficit of $150 million this year — number crunchers there had to have factored in the higher mandated wage when making their layoff decisions.
Those workers might want to have a chat with the folks at UC Berkeley’s Center for Labor Research, who just days before Brown signed the wage-hike bill released a study touting the minimum wage as a boon to low-income household breadwinners.
After that report came out, Ken Jacobs, chairman of the UC Berkeley center, told the Los Angeles Times, “This is a very big deal for low-wage workers in California, for their families and for their children.”
It is a big deal, as well, to those soon to be out of work UC Berkeley workers.
But why is anyone surprised about jobs cuts following a wage hike? It’s one of the most basic laws of economics. Any high school kid taking Econ 101 can explain it:  If you raise the price of something, demand goes down.
Keep in mind, too, that a $15 minimum wage is more than twice the federal minimum wage today. And it would set the wage floor higher than it’s ever been. On an inflation-adjusted basis, the minimum wage peaked in 1968 at just over $10 an hour.
Even the liberal Mother Jones admits that a $15 minimum is “terra incognita” and “might not be entirely benign.”
What’s surprising, then, is that unions, liberals and others pushing the minimum wage hike have managed to convince the public that this law somehow doesn’t apply to the labor market, and so succeeded in getting $15 laws in California, New York and Seattle. You can bet that either Bernie Sanders or Hillary Clinton will push $15 at the national level if either is elected.
Berkeley employees whose jobs are on the chopping block might want to educate these leaders about the perils of this idea.

Thursday 05-25-16

This copy-paste of the first three paragraphs of a stunning item in the Portland Oregon Tribune is to emphasize it's an actual article from a real news source.

Here's what we have. In Portland's public schools, kids will be taught only the theory of man-made global warming. Contrary materials shall be removed. We can safely assume this will be policed, all of which reveals 'man-made global warming' isn't as compelling as they'd have us believe. Think of it. Intentional ignorance, structured and enforced. Mandatory induction into something called "climate justice activism". In an American school system. In the 21st Century. Every bust of Galileo just shed a tear.
The Resolution cited in the article is two pages of cloying drivel that challenges gastric continence. It offers this reason to "get rid of textbooks or other materials that cast doubt on whether climate change is occurring and that the activity of human beings is responsible":
All Portland Public Schools students should develop confidence and passion when it comes to making a positive difference in society, and come to see themselves as activists and leaders for social and environmental justice—especially through seeing the diversity of people around the world who are fighting the root causes of climate change; and it is vital that students reflect on local impacts of the climate crisis, and recognize how their own communities and lives are implicated.
Get rid of textbooks that "cast doubt"? Recruit kids into the cause? What kind of outfit is this? Wait. We've seen this before. It ended badly. Ah yes, here it is:

1933. Germany. Book burning

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Saturday 04-23-16

Water and Power: China Eyes Offshore Expansion Via Floating Nuclear Plant

China is pushing ahead with its construction of a first-ever floating nuclear power platform, which is expected to add to Beijing's ever-increasing clout in the South China Sea, according to the Chinese newspaper Global Times.
The construction of China's first maritime nuclear power platform in the South China Sea is due to be completed by 2018 and be put into operation by 2019, the Chinese newspaper Global Times reported.
The newspaper quoted analysts as saying that such a platform could boost the efficiency of China's ongoing construction work on islands in the South China Sea considerably.
In a recent interview with the Global Times, Liu Zhengguo, head of the general office of the China Shipbuilding Industry Corporation (CSIC) which is responsible for designing and assembling the platforms, said that the CSIS is "pushing forward with the work."
"The development of nuclear power platforms is a burgeoning trend. The exact number of plants to be built [by the CSIC] depends on market demand.  Judging by various factors … the demand is pretty strong," he said without elaborating.
Earlier this month, it was reported that China plans to construct at least 20 maritime nuclear power platforms "in the future."
According to the Global Times, the platforms "will play an important role in China's long-term South China Sea strategy."
The newspaper cited Li Jie, a Beijing-based naval expert, as saying that the platforms will add to reliable power supplies for lighthouses, rescue and relief equipment as well as airports and harbors on the South China Sea islands.
"Given the long distance between the Nansha Islands and the Chinese mainland and the changing weather conditions, transporting fuel could be an issue, which is why developing the maritime nuclear power platform is of great significance," he said.
Sun Qin, board chairman of the China National Nuclear Corporation, said last month that the country will start the construction of a floating nuclear power station by the end of this year.
According to him, the facility, which is designed to power offshore oil and gas drilling as well as island development and remote areas, is set to be put into operation in 2019.
Right now, there are 30 nuclear power generating units in operation in China, with another 24 units under construction, all on land, media reports said.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Friday 04-22-16

Fears of the apocalypse after 'huge fireball' turns sky blood red

Mystery surrounds why the night sky above El Salvador was transformed into bright red blanket earlier this week.
Witnesses across the town of Chalchuapa feared a meteorite was approaching.
The staggering photos were shared by El Salvador news site El Blog.
It claims people leaving the Horem-Ebenezer church saw a “giant red ball” in the sky that was visible for a matter for seconds before disappearing.
It’s claimed the mystery “fire ball” left the sky with a tinted glow.
Red sky above Chalchuapa YOUTUBE/EL BLOG
BLOOD RED: This sky shocked thousands living in Chalchuapa

Reporter Gabe Hash said: "According to the information received, several people were going out of a religious service at the Horem-Ebenezer church when they saw a gian red ball in the sky which last just seconds and disappeared, leaving the skies tinted with a red colour.
"Sometimes after the passge of the firet rail in the atmosphere, it left a trail of dust for sometime."

Child brides sometimes tolerated in Nordic asylum centers despite bans

Some child brides are living with older husbands in asylum centers in Scandinavia, triggering a furor about lapses in protection for girls in nations that ban child marriage.
Authorities have in some cases let girls stay with their partners, believing it is less traumatic for them than forced separation after fleeing wars in nations such as Afghanistan or Syria.
Some girls have also passed themselves off as adults.
Both these issues have caused unease in Scandinavia, where critics say that the authorities risk complicity in child abuse.
Of 31,000 asylum seekers who arrived in Norway in the past year or so, 10 of those aged under 16 -- the minimum local age for sex or marriage -- were married and four had children, the Norwegian Directorate of Immigration (UDI) said.
Of the 10 "some live in adult asylum centers, some in their own rooms and some with their partners," it said in emailed replies to Reuters questions.
"Minors seeking asylum are in a difficult situation where they have left their homeland, family and friends, and the partner they have traveled with can be the only person they know and trust in Norway," said Heidi Vibeke Pedersen, a senior UDI official.
A subsequent tightening of rules means such couples arriving now are separated, she said, and child protection authorities were reviewing all cases from 2015.
Some child protection agencies say any bride aged under 18 should be placed in a special center for children.
"To place them with their partner in facilities rigged for adults is not acceptable," said Camilla Kayed, of the Ombudsman for Children Norway, an official watchdog for children's rights.

She said there were no clear European rules for separating child brides and that Oslo had "unfortunately not ratified" conventions by the Council of Europe mapping out ways to prevent sexual exploitation and abuse.
And similar problems have occurred elsewhere.
In February, Danish Integration Minister Inger Stojberg said that she would "stop housing child brides in asylum centers" after a review found dozens of cases of girls living with older men.

Couples younger than 18 would not be allowed to live together without "exceptional reasons", said Sarah Andersen, spokeswoman for the Integration Ministry.
"There will never be exceptions in cases where one side is below the age of 15," she said.
In Denmark, 15 is the minimum age for sex and for marrying with a special permit. Denmark took in 20,000 asylum seekers last year.
In January, after reports by Swedish Radio, authorities said that at least 70 girls under 18 were married in asylum centers run by municipalities including Stockholm and Malmo.
"This is worrying," Sweden's Ombudsman for Children Fredrik Malmberg wrote in a blog, urging better child protection.

"We know that children fleeing are very vulnerable both for human trafficking and to become targets of forced marriage."
In Sweden, the lowest age for sex is 15 and marriage 18.
PLAN, a non-governmental organization which helps children in developing nations, believes there are 15 million child marriages every year and says developed nations should never approve.
"If the girl is aged under 16, the minimum age for sexual intercourse in Norway, the child bride refugee should be separated from her husband even if they have children together and even if they say they want to stay together," said Kjell Erik Oie, head of PLAN Norway.
Poor parents in developing nations sometimes marry off their daughters when times get hard to reduce food and other bills.
In the north Norwegian county of Finnmark, authorities are investigating circumstances surrounding a Syrian girl, now aged 16 who already has one child and is pregnant again, police lawyer Jens Herstad said.
"We still have to hear the husband's account," he said.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Thursday 04-21-16

Court troubled by surveillance excesses at FBI, NSA

In a just-released court opinion, a federal court judge overseeing government surveillance programs said he was "extremely concerned" about a series of incidents in which the Federal Bureau of Investigation and National Security Agency deviated from court-approved limits on their snooping activities.
Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court Judge Thomas Hogan sharply criticized the two agencies over the episodes, referred to by intelligence gatherers as "compliance incidents." He also raised concerns that the government had taken years to bring the NSA-related issues to the court's attention and he said that delay might have run afoul of the government's duty of candor to the court.
"The court was extremely concerned about NSA's failure to comply with its minimization procedures—and potentially" a provision in federal law, Hogan wrote. The NSA violations appeared to involve preserving surveillance data in its systems beyond the two or five years after which it was supposed to be deleted.
"Perhaps more disappointing than the NSA's failure to purge this information for more than four years, was the Government's failure to convey to the Court explicitly during that time that the NSA was continuing to retain this information," the judge wrote in the Nov. 6, 2015, opinion made public Tuesday.
In a statement, the Office of Director of National Intelligence said officials did not mean to be misleading. "The Government has informed the Court that there was no intent to leave the FISC with a misimpression or misunderstanding, and it has acknowledged that its prior representations could have been clearer," the statement posted on ODNI's Tumblr site said.
The NSA said in some cases it needed the data to prevent future incidents where data was accidentally collected without legal authority, like when a surveillance target enters the U.S. (At that point, officials are supposed to seek a more specific court order to continue the surveillance.) However, that wasn't the case with all of the old data NSA was hanging onto.
The FBI's troubles involved failing to use the required procedures when conducting surveillance of suspects overseas who are facing criminal charges in U.S. courts. In order to preserve attorney-client privilege, the FBI is supposed to have such surveillance reviewed by a "taint team" that can excise any legal communications, but that was not happening in all cases, the FBI reported.
Hogan said the FBI revealed some such incidents in 2014, but the number was redacted from the opinion made public Tuesday. "The government generally attributed those instances to individual failures or confusion, rather than a 'systematic issue,' " Hogan wrote. However, more incidents occurred from mid-2014 and through 2015, although again the precise number was not released. In some instances, FBI agents believed, incorrectly, that they didn't need to set up a review team if the indictment was under seal or outside the U.S.
"The Court was extremely concerned about these additional incidents of non-compliance," wrote Hogan, who also serves as a federal district court judge in Washington. He was appointed by President Ronald Reagan.
At a closed hearing last October, the FBI detailed some procedures set up to remedy the problem, including additional training and a system to remind agents when such reviews are needed. Hogan said he was "satisfied" that the FBI was "taking appropriate measures" to address the issue. However, he said he "strongly encourages" the government to find any other such mistakes and he said he wanted a briefing on those efforts earlier this year.
The FBI declined to comment, and spokespeople for the NSA did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the court ruling.

Federal Researchers Build Massive Online Database of Genomic Data

A new online portal would let scientists access vast amounts of genomic data from patients involved in heart, lung, blood and sleep research studies.
The hub, called GenPort, is supposed to help researchers look into the results of several studies at once, tracking individuals in different trials who might share the same characteristics, known as “synthetic cohorts.”
The Health and Human Services Department is currently looking for small businesses who can help build that hub, so even researchers without informatics or genomics training can make “practical use” of data from cohort studies other scientists have already conducted.
GenPort’s software and tools will be “open source, transportable, and freely shared,” according to the HHS posting.
The cloud-based resource also aims to let researchers visualize and analyze that data.
HHS’ National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute is also working on a Whole Genome Sequencing effort that would sequence genetic data from about 20,000 people in heart, lung, blood and sleep studies, who will be the basis for the GenPort cohorts, according to an earlier posting on FedBizOpps.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Wednesday 04-20-16

Does this surprise anyone, really

Big Science is broken

Science is broken.
That's the thesis of a must-read article in First Things magazine, in which William A. Wilson accumulates evidence that a lot of published research is false. But that's not even the worst part.
Advocates of the existing scientific research paradigm usually smugly declare that while some published conclusions are surely false, the scientific method has "self-correcting mechanisms" that ensure that, eventually, the truth will prevail. Unfortunately for all of us, Wilson makes a convincing argument that those self-correcting mechanisms are broken.
For starters, there's a "replication crisis" in science. This is particularly true in the field of experimental psychology, where far too many prestigious psychology studies simply can't be reliably replicated. But it's not just psychology. In 2011, the pharmaceutical company Bayer looked at 67 blockbuster drug discovery research findings published in prestigious journals, and found that three-fourths of them weren't right. Another study of cancer research found that only 11 percent of preclinical cancer research could be reproduced. Even in physics, supposedly the hardest and most reliable of all sciences, Wilson points out that "two of the most vaunted physics results of the past few years — the announced discovery of both cosmic inflation and gravitational waves at the BICEP2 experiment in Antarctica, and the supposed discovery of superluminal neutrinos at the Swiss-Italian border — have now been retracted, with far less fanfare than when they were first published."
What explains this? In some cases, human error. Much of the research world exploded in rage and mockery when it was found out that a highly popularized finding by the economists Ken Rogoff and Carmen Reinhardt linking higher public debt to lower growth was due to an Excel error. Steven Levitt, of Freakonomics fame, largely built his career on a paper arguing that abortion led to lower crime rates 20 years later because the aborted babies were disproportionately future criminals. Two economists went through the painstaking work of recoding Levitt's statistical analysis — and found a basic arithmetic error.
Then there is outright fraud. In a 2011 survey of 2,000 research psychologists, over half admitted to selectively reporting those experiments that gave the result they were after. The survey also concluded that around 10 percent of research psychologists have engaged in outright falsification of data, and more than half have engaged in "less brazen but still fraudulent behavior such as reporting that a result was statistically significant when it was not, or deciding between two different data analysis techniques after looking at the results of each and choosing the more favorable."
Then there's everything in between human error and outright fraud: rounding out numbers the way that looks better, checking a result less thoroughly when it comes out the way you like, and so forth.
Still, shouldn't the mechanism of independent checking and peer review mean the wheat, eventually, will be sorted from the chaff?
Well, maybe not. There's actually good reason to believe the exact opposite is happening.
The peer review process doesn't work. Most observers of science guffaw at the so-called "Sokal affair," where a physicist named Alan Sokal submitted a gibberish paper to an obscure social studies journal, which accepted it. Less famous is a similar hoodwinking of the very prestigious British Medical Journal, to which a paper with eight major errors was submitted. Not a single one of the 221 scientists who reviewed the paper caught all the errors in it, and only 30 percent of reviewers recommended that the paper be rejected. Amazingly, the reviewers who were warned that they were in a study and that the paper might have problems with it found no more flaws than the ones who were in the dark.
This is serious. In the preclinical cancer study mentioned above, the authors note that "some non-reproducible preclinical papers had spawned an entire field, with hundreds of secondary publications that expanded on elements of the original observation, but did not actually seek to confirm or falsify its fundamental basis."
This gets into the question of the sociology of science. It's a familiar bromide that "science advances one funeral at a time." The greatest scientific pioneers were mavericks and weirdos. Most valuable scientific work is done by youngsters. Older scientists are more likely to be invested, both emotionally and from a career and prestige perspective, in the regnant paradigm, even though the spirit of science is the challenge of regnant paradigms.

Why, then, is our scientific process so structured as to reward the old and the prestigious? Government funding bodies and peer review bodies are inevitably staffed by the most hallowed (read: out of touch) practitioners in the field. The tenure process ensures that in order to further their careers, the youngest scientists in a given department must kowtow to their elders' theories or run a significant professional risk. Peer review isn't any good at keeping flawed studies out of major papers, but it can be deadly efficient at silencing heretical views.
All of this suggests that the current system isn't just showing cracks, but is actually broken, and in need of major reform. There is very good reason to believe that much scientific research published today is false, there is no good way to sort the wheat from the chaff, and, most importantly, that the way the system is designed ensures that this will continue being the case.
As Wilson writes:
Even if self-correction does occur and theories move strictly along a lifecycle from less to more accurate, what if the unremitting flood of new, mostly false, results pours in faster? Too fast for the sclerotic, compromised truth-discerning mechanisms of science to operate? The result could be a growing body of true theories completely overwhelmed by an ever-larger thicket of baseless theories, such that the proportion of true scientific beliefs shrinks even while the absolute number of them continues to rise. Borges' Library of Babel contained every true book that could ever be written, but it was useless because it also contained every false book, and both true and false were lost within an ocean of nonsense. [First Things]
This is a big problem, one that can't be solved with a column. But the first step is admitting you have a problem.
Science, at heart an enterprise for mavericks, has become an enterprise for careerists. It's time to flip the career track for science on its head. Instead of waiting until someone's best years are behind her to award her academic freedom and prestige, abolish the PhD and grant fellowships to the best 22-year-olds, giving them the biggest budgets and the most freedoms for the first five or 10 years of their careers. Then, with only few exceptions, shift them away from research to teaching or some other harmless activity. Only then can we begin to fix Big Science.

Report shows 77.5 million people will not pay tax

By on April 18, 2016
(TRUNEWS) Tax day is here, and many Americans are scrambling to get their paperwork filed. But 77.5 million people have nothing to worry about- because they will not have to pay.
According to data from the Tax Policy Center, 45 percent of Americans will not owe federal tax because they have no income.
The non-partisan research group also reports the top 1 percent of taxpayers pay a higher rate than any other group, and their taxes are about seven times higher than those in the bottom 50 percent.
The bottom 40 percent usually get money from the government.
A general view of the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) building in Washington May 27, 2015. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
People who earn six figures or more paid 79.5 percent of the individual income taxes in 2014.  They contributed four-fifths of the total amount collected, but only 16 percent of the number of returns sent to the IRS, according to the Washington Free Beacon.
“Liberals say that high earners pay a high share of taxes only because they have high incomes,” explains Chris Edwards, a tax policy expert at the Cato Institute. “But high earners also pay much higher tax rates than everyone else. For example, Congressional Budget Office data show that the average federal income tax rate for the top fifth of households is 14 percent, but the average rate for the middle fifth is only 2 percent.”

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Tuesday 04-19-16

Yellow fever outbreak in Angola is 'threat to entire world'

An outbreak of yellow fever in Angola in which hundreds have already died could be "a threat to the entire world", the World Health Organisation has warned.

Cases of the mosquito-borne virus were first reported in Angola's capital Luanda in December. The disease has now spread to 16 of the country's 18 provinces. 

So far, thousands of people are suspected to have been infected with the disease and 238 people have died, WHO has reported

"The evolution of the situation in Angola is concerning and needs to be closely monitored," it stated in a report. 
People travelling from Angola have already exported the virus to China, Kenya and the Democratic Republic of Congo, where at least 21 people are reported to have died. 
The trend has sparked concerns among the WHO, which fears the virus is at risk of spreading further because of the large international communities living in Angola that regularly travels to neighbouring countries. 

Countries where there are Aedes mosquitos, carriers of the yellow fever virus, are particularly at risk. Areas where there have been previous outbreaks of Dengue, Chikungunya or Zika virus would also be fertile grounds for the disease to spread. 

WHO has called for "an urgent need to strengthen the quality of the response in Angola" and increase the control of travellers' immunisation status, when coming from areas affected by the virus. 
Together with UNICEF, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), WHO is monitoring the situation in Angola and a situation of emergency has been declared. 

No travel or trade restrictions to Angola have yet been advised.

Poll: Americans angry with federal government, happy at home

Graphic shows results of AP-GfK poll on attitudes toward government; 2c x 3 inches; 96.3 mm x 76 mm;

CHICAGO (AP) — All that talk of an angry America?

An Associated Press-GfK poll finds that most Americans are happy with their friends and family, feel good about their finances and are more or less content at work. It’s government, particularly the federal government, that’s making them see red.

Almost 8 in 10 Americans say they’re dissatisfied or angry with the way the federal government is working, while about the same proportion say they’re satisfied or enthusiastic about their personal lives. Republicans are far more likely to be angry — half of GOP voters, compared with about one-quarter of Democrats or independents — and those Republicans are much more supportive of Donald Trump, the front-runner for the party’s presidential nomination.

Still, anger isn’t so much driven by political ideology as it is by an overall disdain for a political system that doesn’t seem to be working, voters said in follow-up interviews. They’re upset with both parties, as well as career politicians and Washington insiders who, those surveyed said, don’t put their constituents’ interests first.

“There are too many lobbyists and people who are not really working for the people anymore. They’re working to line their own pockets,” said 37-year-old Greg Boire of Belding, Michigan, who works as a bank customer service representative and voted for Trump in that state’s Republican primary. “It happens on both sides. … It’s just the whole government in general.”

John Santoro of San Jose, California, a 58-year-old market development manager for a company that makes semiconductor-related products, said he’s doing well financially but is angry about a lack of progress to lower the country’s debt.

He mostly blames President Barack Obama, but “politicians on both sides of the aisle are to blame because they just can’t get anything done. They just fundraise and get contributions from special interests.”

The AP-GfK poll showed that angry Republicans such as Boire and Santoro were much more likely than those who are just dissatisfied to have a favorable view of Trump, by 62 percent to 42 percent. Fifty-eight percent of dissatisfied Republicans, but just 36 percent of angry ones, have an unfavorable opinion of Trump.

Both men say they do support Trump — to a point. They believe he could shake up Washington, but worry about his rhetoric and lack of campaign organization.

Boire said he’s impressed that Trump is spending his own money and that what he says “is his opinion and not that of the lobbyists.” But Boire would be satisfied if the more politically experienced Texas Sen. Ted Cruz won the nomination because Trump “does not have the filter to shut off” negative comments.

Santoro said he might vote for Cruz in the California primary if Trump doesn’t “cinch things up” and run a more professional campaign.

Even so, Trump has harnessed anger toward the federal government to win many die-hard supporters, like 58-year-old Debra Waterson of Petoskey, Michigan. She supported Obama in 2008 and former Gov. Mitt Romney, R-Mass., four years ago.

She’s upset that the gun lobby has a strong influence in Washington and that the Senate won’t vote on Obama’s nominee for Supreme Court. But she’s even angrier about the economy and foreign trade deals, so she voted for Trump in the Republican primary.

“Up here in northern Michigan, there is so much unemployment and so many can’t afford to eat or buy medicine,” said Waterson, who said her family is getting by.

In the Democratic race against Hillary Clinton, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders also has drawn support of voters who say they’re fed up with the federal government.

Retired Miami postal worker Kenneth Olinsky, a Sanders supporter, said he’s angry at Republicans in Congress for being “obstructionist” on legislation that could help working-class or low-income families.

“They haven’t done anything for the people as much as they’ve done for the wealthy and for businesses,” said Olinsky, 61. “There is a definite class system in this country; it’s the haves against the have nots.”

In the poll, people were slightly more likely to describe the economy as good than they were in February, 45 percent to 41 percent. Despite the current uptick, 54 percent describe the economy as poor.

Still, two-thirds or more of Democrats and Republicans say they’re at least satisfied with their personal and family relationships, financial situations, careers, and work-life balance. Independents lag behind on each of those measures, but are still more likely than not to be satisfied with each.

But the vast majority of Americans — 71 percent — still think the country is headed in the wrong direction. Nearly half of Democrats, but less than 1 in 10 Republicans, think the country is headed in the right direction.

Christopher Ashby, 32, a stay-at-home dad in Albemarle, North Carolina, who describes himself as a very conservative Republican and firm Trump supporter, said he is angry about government handouts for people and corporations and the influence of lobbyists and special-interest groups.

“For everyone in politics at this moment, it’s a career, and nobody is in this career to help the little person,” said Ashby. “We need a complete whitewash of the system (because) politics should … be something you do because you love helping the people.”


The AP-GfK Poll of 1,076 adults was conducted online March 31-April 4, using a sample drawn from GfK’s probability-based KnowledgePanel, which is designed to be representative of the U.S. population. The margin of sampling error for all respondents is plus or minus 3.3 percentage points.