Pentagon seeks authority over training foreign militaries


Representative Duncan Hunter, the ranking Republican on the House Armed Services Committee, suggested that the military was being saddled with additional responsibilities because the State Department has been sluggish in responding to new needs. Hunter said “the need to train and equip foreign forces and to provide stabilization programs will remain necessary as we continue to fight the global war on terror.”

The Pentagon asked Congress Tuesday to give it permanent authority over training and equipping foreign militaries, in a shifting of roles from the State Department.

Both Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice sought Congressional approval for the change, as well as authorization for the Pentagon to spend 750 million dollars in 2009 in helping foreign militaries.

Gates told members of the House Armed Services Committee the foreign military assistance program is “a vital and enduring military requirement, irrespective of the capacity of other departments, and its authorities and funding mechanisms should reflect that reality.”

Some lawmakers said it raised questions about the military’s growing role in domains traditionally reserved for diplomats.

Read morePentagon seeks authority over training foreign militaries

Health Problem Linked To Chemical In Plastics

A chemical used in all kinds of plastic, including baby bottles and food containers, could be linked to a prostate and breast cancer, a preliminary government report has found.

The federal National Toxicology Program said yesterday that experiments on rats found precancerous prostate tumors, urinary system problems and early puberty when the animals were fed or injected with low doses of the chemical, bisphenol-A.

The latest draft significantly increased the chemical’s risk level from a bisphenol-A statement the government released last year.

“It’s an important step to have a federal agency acknowledge that it has concerns about bisphenol-A and breast cancer and prostate cancer,” said Pete Myers, chief scientist for Environmental Health Sciences, a nonprofit that raises awareness of chemical risks. “It’s a scary compound.”

Read moreHealth Problem Linked To Chemical In Plastics

Nuclear attack on D.C. a hypothetical disaster

A nuclear device detonated near the White House would kill roughly 100,000 people and flatten downtown federal buildings, while the radioactive plume from the explosion would likely spread toward the Capitol and into Southeast D.C., contaminating thousands more.

The blast from the 10-kiloton bomb – similar to the bomb dropped over Hiroshima during World War II – would kill up to one in 10 tourists visiting the Washington Monument and send shards of glass flying the length of the National Mall, in a scenario that has become increasingly likely to occur in a major U.S. city in recent years, panel members told a Senate committee yesterday.

“It’s inevitable,” said Cham E. Dallas, director of the Institute for Health Management and Mass Destruction Defense at the University of Georgia, who has charted the potential explosion’s effect in the District and testified before a hearing of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. “I think it’s wistful to think that it won’t happen by 20 years.”

(What is this article about? Preparing the people for what is coming. – The Infinite Unknown)

Read moreNuclear attack on D.C. a hypothetical disaster

New security camera can ‘see’ through clothes

LONDON, England (CNN) — New technology that can “see” through clothing and detect what’s underneath can now be used to scan crowds, making it a potentially effective tool to prevent terrorist attacks in public places.

The ThruVision T5000 camera picks up Terahertz rays, or T-rays, which are naturally emitted by all objects and can pass through fabric or even walls.

The camera can then image metallic and non-metallic objects hidden under clothing on still or moving subjects without revealing any body detail, according to its British manufacturer, ThruVision Limited.

While similar technology is being unveiled at airports around the world, the T5000 is designed to be used in large, open areas. With a range of 25 meters, the T5000 can screen people in public places, thus avoiding bottlenecks at border crossings or security checkpoints.

It also means people can be screened without knowing it.


The camera can see through people’s clothes from up to 25 meters away, detecting objects.

Read moreNew security camera can ‘see’ through clothes

Source: U.S. Strike on Iran Nearing

Contrary to some claims that the Bush administration will allow diplomacy to handle Iran’s nuclear weapons program, a leading member of America’s Jewish community tells Newsmax that a military strike is not only on the table – but likely.

“Israel is preparing for heavy casualties,” the source said, suggesting that although Israel will not take part in the strike, it is expecting to be the target of Iranian retribution.

“Look at Dick Cheney’s recent trip through the Middle East as preparation for the U.S. attack,” the source said.

Cheney’s hastily arranged 9-day visit to the region, which began on March 16, included stops in Israel, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Oman, Turkey, and the Palestinian territories.

Tensions in the region have been rising.

While Israel was conducting the largest homefront military exercises in its history last week, Israel’s National Infrastructure Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer warned Tehran about expected attacks on the Jewish state.

“An Iranian attack will prompt a severe reaction from Israel, which will destroy the Iranian nation,” he said.

He predicted that in a future war, “hundreds of missiles will rain on Israel,” but added that Iran “is definitely aware of our strength.”

Read moreSource: U.S. Strike on Iran Nearing

China executes 9 people a week, says Amnesty

China is executing at least nine prisoners a week and sentencing a further 35 to death, according to Amnesty International.

In a report published today, the human rights group says that while China tries to keep the figures a state secret, the country put to death at least 470 people last year, making it the world’s most prolific executioner,

At least 1,252 people were executed in 24 different countries last year, while 3,347 were sentenced to death in 51 countries. Amnesty adds that some 27,500 people are now on death row around the world.

Second to China was Iran with 317 executions, followed by Saudi Arabia on 143, Pakistan on 135 and the United States on 42.

Read moreChina executes 9 people a week, says Amnesty

Military Releases High Casualty Figures

Department Of Defense’s Latest Numbers: 31,590 Troops Wounded On Battle Field

The Department of Defense has released its latest American military casualty numbers for those who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the figures reveal non-fatal casualties that go well beyond the more than 4,000 U.S. troops who have died so far.

As of April 5, a total of 36,082 members of the U.S. military have been wounded in action and killed in Iraq, since the beginning of the war in March 2003, and in Afghanistan, where the war there began in October 2001. The 36,082 number breaks down to 4,492 deaths and 31,590 wounded. According to the same DoD “casualty” counts, an additional 38,631 U.S. military personnel have also been removed from the battlefields in Iraq and Afghanistan for “non-hostile-related medical air transports.”

“That’s a tremendous number,” said Paul Sullivan, the executive director of the advocate group Veterans for Common Sense, who believes these latest figures paint a more realistic picture of the true cost of the Iraq and Afghan wars. He is concerned troop casualties, including those who have been wounded, killed and medically transported, is now nearing 75,000.

Read moreMilitary Releases High Casualty Figures

U.S. Foreclosures Jump 57% as Homeowners Walk Away

April 15 (Bloomberg) — U.S. foreclosure filings jumped 57 percent and bank repossessions more than doubled in March from a year earlier as adjustable mortgages increased and more owners lost their homes to lenders.

More than 234,000 properties were in some stage of foreclosure, or one in every 538 U.S. households, Irvine, California-based RealtyTrac Inc., a seller of default data, said today in a statement. Nevada, California and Florida had the highest foreclosure rates. Filings rose 5 percent from February.

About $460 billion of adjustable-rate loans are scheduled to reset this year, according to New York-based analysts at Citigroup Inc. Auction notices rose 32 percent from a year ago, a sign that more defaulting homeowners are “simply walking away and deeding their properties back to the foreclosing lender” rather than letting the home be auctioned, RealtyTrac Chief Executive Officer James Saccacio said in the statement.

Read moreU.S. Foreclosures Jump 57% as Homeowners Walk Away

Your Internet provider is watching you

Fine print reveals that you have fewer rights than you might realize


The Comcast case is a rare example of the government getting into the ISP contract nitty-gritty. “There really should be an onus on the regulators to see this kind of thing is done correctly,” said Bob Williams, who deals with telecom and media issues at Consumers Union.

NEW YORK – What’s scary, funny and boring at the same time? It could be a bad horror movie. Or it could be the fine print on your Internet service provider’s contract.

Those documents you agree to — usually without reading — ostensibly allow your ISP to watch how you use the Internet, read your e-mail or keep you from visiting sites it deems inappropriate. Some reserve the right to block traffic and, for any reason, cut off a service that many users now find essential.

The Associated Press reviewed the “Acceptable Use Policies” and “Terms of Service” of the nation’s 10 largest ISPs — in all, 117 pages of contracts that leave few rights for subscribers.

“The network is asserting almost complete control of the users’ ability to use their network as a gateway to the Internet,” said Marvin Ammori, general counsel of Free Press, a Washington-based consumer advocacy group. “They become gatekeepers rather than gateways.”

Read moreYour Internet provider is watching you

Enhanced Tracking Technology May Propel Adoption of RFID

A Los Angeles start-up says it has developed a way to dramatically expand the range of a popular wireless tracking technology, opening up many new applications for low-cost identification tags.

Closely held Mojix Inc. says its enhancements to a technology known as RFID — for radio frequency identification — sharply reduce the cost of setting up wireless networks that can cover entire warehouses, stores, distribution centers and yards where heavy equipment is stored.

Such networks can be used to quickly locate goods and track their movements without having to be close to a scanning device. Networks with similar capabilities today typically require sophisticated RFID tags that cost anywhere from around $4 to more than $1,000 each, said John Fontanella, an analyst at AMR Research. Mojix says its hardware uses simpler tags that cost as little as 10 cents each.

Read moreEnhanced Tracking Technology
May Propel Adoption of RFID

Feds Not Addressing Drugs In Water

A White House task force that was supposed to devise a federal plan to research the issue of pharmaceuticals in drinking water has missed its deadline and failed to produce mandated reports and recommendations for coordination among numerous federal agencies, according to documents obtained by The Associated Press.

More than 70 pages of the task force’s documents, including e-mails and weekly reports, were released under the Freedom of Information Act as a Senate subcommittee prepares to convene a hearing Tuesday prompted by an AP investigation about trace concentrations of drugs in America’s drinking water.

Read moreFeds Not Addressing Drugs In Water

Aboriginal children ‘injected with leprosy’

ABORIGINAL children were injected with leprosy treatments in a medical testing program that used members of the Stolen Generation as guinea pigs, a Senate Committee has heard.

Greens Senator Bob Brown said he was “shocked and alarmed” by the claims, heard today by the Senate legal and constitutional committee’s inquiry into a Stolen Generation Compensation Bill 2008.

On the first day of hearings in Darwin today, Kathleen Mills from the Stolen Generations Alliance said the public did not know the full extent of what happened to some children.

And efforts to obtain records that support the claims, such as that children were injected with serums to gauge their reaction to the medication, had been hampered, she said.

“These are the things that have not been spoken about,” Ms Mills told the inquiry.

“As well as being taken away, they were used … there are a lot of things that Australia does not know about.”

Outside the inquiry, Ms Mills said her uncle had been a medical orderly at the Kahlin Compound in Darwin.

She said he told her that children were used as “guinea pigs” for leprosy treatments.

“He said it made our people very, very ill … the treatment almost killed them,” she said.

Read moreAboriginal children ‘injected with leprosy’

Crude oil at new high just under $114; gas also at a record

NEW YORK (AP) — Crude oil prices rose to within a penny of $114 a barrel Tuesday, setting a new record as concerns mounted about global supplies. U.S. retail gasoline and diesel prices also struck new highs.Traders honed in on a report by the International Energy Agency that said Russian oil production dropped this year for the first time in a decade. The report raised concerns about whether the key oil-producing nation will have enough supply to help feed growing global demand.

“In an emotionally driven market like we’ve got now, it just doesn’t take much in the way of a headline to prompt a psychological response,” said Jim Ritterbusch, president of Ritterbusch & Associates in Galena, Ill.

Read moreCrude oil at new high just under $114; gas also at a record

IMF alert on starvation and civil unrest


“Children will be suffering from malnutrition” … a UN peacekeeper with locals in Port-au-Prince,
where hunger-provoked protests and looting have left six dead. Photo: AP

THE poorest countries face starvation and civil unrest if global food prices keep rising, says the head of the International Monetary Fund, Dominique Strauss-Kahn.

Hundreds of thousands of people would starve, he said in Washington. “Children will be suffering from malnutrition, with consequences for all their lives.”

He predicted that rising food prices would push up the cost of imports for poor countries, leading to trade imbalances that might also affect developed nations.

“It is not only a humanitarian question,” he said.

Global food prices have risen sharply in recent months, driven by rising demand, poor weather and an increase in the area of land used to grow crops for biofuels.

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation says 37 countries face food crisis. The president of the World Bank, Robert Zoellick, urged members on Sunday to provide $US500 million ($540 million) by May 1 to help alleviate the problem.

Read moreIMF alert on starvation and civil unrest

Jim Rogers: China’s Economic Advance is All But Unstoppable

“The only thing that worries me permanently about the China story is water.

I’ve been around the world twice. I’ve seen many cities, societies, [and] nations that disappeared because the water disappeared. China has a huge water problem. In Northern China, they’re running out of water. They know this and they’re working on it, big time. But if they don’t solve it, or if they don’t solve it in time, then China – as you put it – has failed.

By the way, Northern India has the same problem, only worse. Many places have it now. Water is becoming a huge problem worldwide. The same is true in the Southwestern United States. You know, you may have Arizona going to war with California. Some sections of Nevada, Colorado …they’re desperate there.

So it’s not just China – but water’s the main thing that worries me about China.”

(As I said: In ten years the glaciers in the Himalaya region will be gone and 50% of the worlds population will have not enough or no water at all. The governments know this and they won’t sit & wait and do nothing about it. There will be World Water Wars.
And if China where to lose a million soldiers in a war so what. To them their soldiers have the same worth than to the US their soldiers in Iraq: They are considered as canon fodder.
If you think that this is wrong than I recommend the movie “NO End In Sight” (2007) as a first eye-opener.
Please read the whole article. – The Infinite Unknown)

Read moreJim Rogers: China’s Economic Advance is All But Unstoppable

Colony Collapse Disorder – a Moment for Reflection?

honey-bee-9808

Our previous posts on the mysterious bee disappearances (here, here, and here) have been a very interesting exercise. We’ve had great feedback from farmers, amateur and professional beekeepers, scientists, and dozens of other interested/concerned observers. In the meantime, accumulating reports tell us that the problem is not constrained to the U.S. alone – but that, to one degree or another, empty hives are becoming common in Germany, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Greece, Switzerland, Poland, and now possibly the UK. Canada, so far, seems unsure if they have the problem, or not. We’ve now also had unconfirmed reports from Brazil.

Personally, I believe situations like this are an opportune moment for reflection – a time to humbly consider a few realities, and perhaps learn a few lessons. Of significance to me is the fact that scientists haven’t got this figured out as yet. It begs the question – which is easier, when dealing with the infinitely complex interactions of nature: 1) predicting specific consequences to our ‘tinkering’ before they occur, or 2) understanding how something happened after-the-fact? I would have thought the latter was the easiest – you know the old saying, “hindsight is a wonderful thing”. Looking back at the results, following the trail of clues, is a lot less challenging than postulating over what could happen. Or, to put it into a framework that might be better understood – if Sherlock Holmes, expert in crime scene deductions, were to turn his attention to predicting crimes rather than solving them, how would he have fared? Short of the kind of psychic predictive skills seen in Minority Report-type science fiction movies, I don’t expect he’d fare so well.

What am I on about, you ask? Simply this – too many people hand scientists the keys to the car, as it were, and bid them take it wherever their employer wishes. Our governments do this, and too many either encourage it, or stand by and let it happen. When the PR departments that front these scientists portray a glorious new world where man manages to, with perfect and meticulous coordination, juggle all the intricacies of the natural world in one hand, whilst cashing in on it and providing world peace and equality with the other – we believe it. Yet, how can we have so much confidence in their ability to read the future, when they are unable to decipher the past and present – a task that should be a damned sight simpler, no?

As Australians are benefiting from an export boom in bees to the U.S., and while the best recommendations from the groups that have been tasked with finding solutions to these problems are to advise which chemicals to use and which not to (PDF), I will list some of the possible causes for the present pollination crisis below (I call it a pollination crisis here, rather than a honeybee crisis, because there are other pollinators that would be lending us a hand – if we hadn’t driven them into exile):

Read moreColony Collapse Disorder – a Moment for Reflection?

Vaccination: Pushing Gardasil

Another profit center for pharma

Gardasil is an immunization against a “disease” that often has no symptoms and usually resolves itself.

Marketers of the vaccine imply it helps prevent cervical cancer. This is scientifically false. Furthermore, cervical cancer is already substantially on the decline.

What is true is that if you introduce Gardasil into a person who already has HPV you dramatically increase their odds of developing pre-cancerous cell behavior.

So why are the marketers of this vaccine working with crooked politicians to make Gardasil injections mandatory for young girls?

It’s garbage science and bogus public health all in pursuit of the almighty dollar.

Administration Set to Use New Spy Program in U.S.

The Bush administration said yesterday that it plans to start using the nation’s most advanced spy technology for domestic purposes soon, rebuffing challenges by House Democrats over the idea’s legal authority.

Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said his department will activate his department’s new domestic satellite surveillance office in stages, starting as soon as possible with traditional scientific and homeland security activities — such as tracking hurricane damage, monitoring climate change and creating terrain maps.

Sophisticated overhead sensor data will be used for law enforcement once privacy and civil rights concerns are resolved, he said. The department has previously said the program will not intercept communications.

Read moreAdministration Set to Use New Spy Program in U.S.

Ron Paul Questions, General Petraeus Avoids Answering

Ron Paul lays out some tough questions, and only asks for an immediate response to one of them. The question was whether President Bush could bomb Iran without the approval of Congress. However, Petraeus avoids answering, even though surely a Four-Star General should know whether it is legal to bomb a country without the approval of Congress or not.

Inflation hits consumers worldwide

(AXcess News) – Gas pumps in the United States tell the same story as rice prices in Thailand: Inflation is a global phenomenon this year.

Oil hit a record $112 per barrel this week, and a United Nations official warned of continued pressure on food prices, which by one index are up 45 percent in the past year.

The challenges are worst in developing nations, where raw materials account for a larger share of consumer spending. But another factor – the sagging value of the US dollar – means that imports cost more in America and other nations that peg their currencies to the dollar.

Still, regardless of this currency phenomenon, several broad forces are pushing prices up.

After years of strong global economic growth, prices of oil, grains, and some metals have spiked. Investors are adding fuel to that fire by buying up hard assets like commodities, which are viewed as a hedge against inflation.

More fundamentally, many nations have been relatively loose in the creation of money supply. For all the news about interest-rate cuts by the Federal Reserve, this trend goes well beyond US shores.

Read moreInflation hits consumers worldwide

‘Bin brother’ keeps watchful eye on Aussie rubbish

Tens of thousands of Australian households will have their rubbish and recycling monitored by tracking devices placed in their dustbins in a move dubbed by the media as “Bin Brother”.

Officials on Monday confirmed that 78,000 new council-issued bins in the eastern suburbs of Sydney have been fitted with small radio frequency tags, which allow for data collection.

Each bin will transmit a unique identification code to the rubbish truck which weighs and empties it each week, allowing officials to identify how much waste is produced at each address.

Read more‘Bin brother’ keeps watchful eye on Aussie rubbish

The Government Is Trying to Wrap Its Mind Around Yours

Imagine a world of streets lined with video cameras that alert authorities to any suspicious activity. A world where police officers can read the minds of potential criminals and arrest them before they commit any crimes. A world in which a suspect who lies under questioning gets nabbed immediately because his brain has given him away.

Though that may sound a lot like the plot of the 2002 movie “Minority Report,” starring Tom Cruise and based on a Philip K. Dick novel, I’m not talking about science fiction here; it turns out we’re not so far away from that world. But does it sound like a very safe place, or a very scary one?

It’s a question I think we should be asking as the federal government invests millions of dollars in emerging technology aimed at detecting and decoding brain activity. And though government funding focuses on military uses for these new gizmos, they can and do end up in the hands of civilian law enforcement and in commercial applications. As spending continues and neurotechnology advances, that imagined world is no longer the stuff of science fiction or futuristic movies, and we postpone at our peril confronting the ethical and legal dilemmas it poses for a society that values not just personal safety but civil liberty as well.

Consider Cernium Corp.’s “Perceptrak” video surveillance and monitoring system, recently installed by Johns Hopkins University, among others. This technology grew out of a project funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency — the central research and development organization for the Department of Defense — to develop intelligent video analytics systems. Unlike simple video cameras monitored by security guards, Perceptrak integrates video cameras with an intelligent computer video. It uses algorithms to analyze streaming video and detect suspicious activities, such as people loitering in a secure area, a group converging or someone leaving a package unattended. Since installing Perceptrak, Johns Hopkins has reported a 25 percent reduction in crime.

But that’s only the beginning. Police may soon be able to monitor suspicious brain activity from a distance as well. New neurotechnology soon may be able to detect a person who is particularly nervous, in possession of guilty knowledge or, in the more distant future, to detect a person thinking, “Only one hour until the bomb explodes.” Today, the science of detecting and decoding brain activity is in its infancy. But various government agencies are funding the development of technology to detect brain activity remotely and are hoping to eventually decode what someone is thinking. Scientists, however, wildly disagree about the accuracy of brain imaging technology, what brain activity may mean and especially whether brain activity can be detected from afar.

Yet as the experts argue about the scientific limitations of remote brain detection, this chilling science fiction may already be a reality. In 2002, the Electronic Privacy Information Center reported that NASA was developing brain monitoring devices for airports and was seeking to use noninvasive sensors in passenger gates to collect the electronic signals emitted by passengers’ brains. Scientists scoffed at the reports, arguing that to do what NASA was proposing required that an electroencephalogram (EEG) be physically attached to the scalp.

Read moreThe Government Is Trying to Wrap Its Mind Around Yours