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marmar

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Gender: Male
Hometown: Detroit, Michigan
Home country: Citizen of the world whose address is in the U.S.
Current location: Detroit, Michigan
Member since: Fri Oct 29, 2004, 12:18 AM
Number of posts: 66,344

Journal Archives

Why Wikimedia Just Might Win Its Lawsuit Over NSA Surveillance

(Truthdig) The National Security Agency and the Department of Justice are being sued by Wikimedia, the nonprofit organization that runs Wikipedia—the online encyclopedia whose articles can be written or edited by anyone.

Wikimedia claims that the U.S. government’s mass surveillance programs are threatening its ability to spread free, open and honest information and that the way the NSA collects data violates the First and Fourth Amendments to the Constitution. The organization is being represented by the American Civil Liberties Union and is joined in the suit by eight other plaintiffs, including the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International USA and The Nation.

The suit is specifically challenging the NSA’s use of “upstream surveillance,” which taps directly into the Internet’s backbone—the network of cables and routers that makes the Web possible—and intercepts all the traffic that goes across it.

Under the 2008 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, the agency only has the legal authority to gather data on foreign nationals residing outside the United States, but in reality, far more data is being collected on American citizens than on foreigners.

The NSA has made claims none of this data is technically “collected” until it’s been utilized in some way. ................(more)

http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/why_wikimedia_just_might_win_its_lawsuit_over_nsa_surveillance_20150327



Sorry, Monsanto: The Science Is on Our Side, Not Yours

Sorry, Monsanto: The Science Is on Our Side, Not Yours

Friday, 27 March 2015 10:41
By Katherine Paul, Organic Consumers Association | Op-Ed


A few weeks ago, I spoke by phone with Cathleen Enright, executive vice president of the Biotech Industry Organization (BIO). (Long story).

During the course of our conversation, when we touched on the subject of the science behind the debate over whether or not GMOs are "safe" (me arguing that there's no scientific consensus) Enright said, "Then you must not believe in climate change, either."

I glossed over that accusation, though it struck me as odd. And random. Until less than a week later, on March 9 (2015), an article appeared in the Guardian under this headline: "The anti-GM lobby appears to be taking a page out of the Climategate playbook."

That's when I realized what I should have known. Enright's comment wasn't random at all. It's just a new twist on an old talking point—from an industry on the verge of crumbling under the weight of an avalanche of new credible, scientific evidence exposing not only the dangers of GMO crops and the toxic chemicals used to grow them, but the extent to which both Monsanto and U.S. government agencies like the EPA, FDA and USDA have covered up those dangers. (Side note: Turns out the authors of the Guardian piece all have ties to, surprise, the biotech industry).

Here are just a few examples of the latest reports, articles and books exposing the dangers of GMOs, Big Ag's toxic chemicals and evidence of a decades-long cover-up to keep consumers in the dark.

New study: World Health Organization declares glyphosate a human carcinogen. The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) decision was reported in The Lancet Oncology, on Friday, March 20 (2015). Predictably, Monsanto went on the attack, demanding the study be retracted.

New study: Roundup causes antibiotic resistance in bacteria. In the first study of its kind, a research lead by a team from the University of Canterbury, New Zealand says that commonly used herbicides, including the world's most used herbicide Roundup, can cause bacteria to become resistant to antibiotics. Cause for concern? You bet, when nearly 2 million people die annually from antibiotic-resistant infections.

New article: "GMO Science Deniers: Monsanto and the USDA," points out what we all learned in third-grade science (but what Monsanto and the USDA refuse to acknowledge): That plants evolve to adapt to their environment, with the stronger ones winning out. Hence the fact that over time, Monsanto's Roundup Ready crops have bred a new generation of superweeds. Yet, incredibly, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) bought into Monsanto's anti-science claim that the continuous use of Roundup, over time, would not produce evolving Roundup-resistant weeds. Of course, that's exactly what's happened.

New book: Altered Genes, Twisted Truth: How the Venture to Genetically Engineer Our Food Has Subverted Science, Corrupted Government, and Systematically Deceived the Public, exposes how the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) disregarded the warnings of its own scientists in order to foster the biotech industry's agenda. According to author Steven Druker, the FDA broke U.S. food safety laws when the agency made a blanket presumption that GE foods qualified to be categorized "Generally Recognized as Safe" (GRAS). And they did it in order to push GMOs into the market with no pre-market safety testing.
......................(more)

http://truth-out.org/opinion/item/29899-sorry-monsanto-the-science-is-on-our-side-not-yours



TPP so bad even the US congress is shocked


TPP so bad even the US congress is shocked
By Unconventional Economist in Global Macroat 11:52 am on March 27, 2015

By Leith van Onselen


More worrying details have emerged about the the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) – the US-led regional trade pact between 12 nations (including Australia) – with the New York Times revealing that members of the US Congress have been viewing the secretive document and are disgusted by its contents:

Members of Congress have been reviewing the secret document in secure reading rooms, but this is the first disclosure to the public since an early version leaked in 2012.

“This is really troubling,” said Senator Charles E. Schumer of New York, the Senate’s No. 3 Democrat. “It seems to indicate that savvy, deep-pocketed foreign conglomerates could challenge a broad range of laws we pass at every level of government, such as made-in-America laws or anti-tobacco laws. I think people on both sides of the aisle will have trouble with this”…

“U.S.T.R. will say the U.S. has never lost a case, but you’re going to see a lot more challenges in the future,” said Senator Sherrod Brown, Democrat of Ohio. “There’s a huge pot of gold at the end of the rainbow for these companies”…

Senator Brown contended that the overall accord, not just the investment provisions, was troubling. “This continues the great American tradition of corporations writing trade agreements, sharing them with almost nobody, so often at the expense of consumers, public health and workers,” he said…

Critics say the text’s definition of an investment is so broad that it could open enormous avenues of legal challenge.


The article is, of course, referring to the TPP’s Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) clause, which according to an earlier leaked draft from Wikileaks, would give authority to major corporations to challenge laws made by governments in the national interest in international courts of arbitration, effectively limiting Governments’ ability to form public policy. ............(more)

http://www.macrobusiness.com.au/2015/03/tpp-bad-even-us-congress-shocked/




New York: 7 Train to West Side Will Open at Some Point


When we last checked in with the #7 extension to the far west side of Manhattan, it was supposed to open for revenue service during the second quarter of this year — meaning April to June.

But that seems increasingly unlikely. On Monday, MTA executive Anthony D'Amico updated board members on the $2.4 billion project.

"It is very likely that the opening of the station will not occur until several weeks following the second quarter of 2015," said D'Amico.

One problem: installation of the Ethernet (computer network) system, which affected escalators, elevators, fire alarms, fans and traction power. Until that is resolved, testing for the fire alarms and communication systems can't be completed. .............(more)

http://www.wnyc.org/story/7-train-extension-delayed/




Washington DC: Metro's First 7000-Series Train to Debut April 14





The date is set, Metro customers, and your new ride will soon be here.

Metro has announced that the system’s first 7000-series train will enter passenger service April 14, on the Blue Line.

The introduction of the first new train will be the most significant milestone to date for a project that has spanned nearly five years from approval and funding, through design and engineering, to testing and certification.

The first train in regular passenger service with eight 7000 series cars will depart from Franconia-Springfield shortly after 7 a.m. on April 14. The Blue Line serves five of Metro’s six jurisdictions: Fairfax County, the city of Alexandria, Arlington County, the District of Columbia and Prince George’s County. ..............(more)

http://www.masstransitmag.com/press_release/12058918/metros-first-7000-series-train-to-debut-april-14




The Madness of Funding the Pentagon to “Cover the Globe”


from TomDispatch:


Military Strategy? Who Needs It?
The Madness of Funding the Pentagon to “Cover the Globe”

By William D. Hartung


President Obama and Senator John McCain, who have clashed on almost every conceivable issue, do agree on one thing: the Pentagon needs more money. Obama wants to raise the Pentagon’s budget for fiscal year 2016 by $35 billion more than the caps that exist under current law allow. McCain wants to see Obama his $35 billion and raise him $17 billion more. Last week, the House and Senate Budget Committees attempted to meet Obama’s demands by pressing to pour tens of billions of additional dollars into the uncapped supplemental war budget.

What will this new avalanche of cash be used for? A major ground war in Iraq? Bombing the Assad regime in Syria? A permanent troop presence in Afghanistan? More likely, the bulk of the funds will be wielded simply to take pressure off the Pentagon’s base budget so it can continue to pay for staggeringly expensive projects like the F-35 combat aircraft and a new generation of ballistic missile submarines. Whether the enthusiastic budgeteers in the end succeed in this particular maneuver to create a massive Pentagon slush fund, the effort represents a troubling development for anyone who thinks that Pentagon spending is already out of hand.

Mind you, such funds would be added not just to a Pentagon budget already running at half-a-trillion dollars annually, but to the actual national security budget, which is undoubtedly close to twice that. It includes items like work on nuclear weapons tucked away at the Department of Energy, that Pentagon supplementary war budget, the black budget of the Intelligence Community, and war-related expenditures in the budgets of the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Homeland Security.

Despite the jaw-dropping resources available to the national security state, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chair General Martin Dempsey recently claimed that, without significant additional infusions of cash, the U.S. military won’t be able to “execute the strategy” with which it has been tasked. As it happens, Dempsey’s remark unintentionally points the way to a dramatically different approach to what’s still called “defense spending.” Instead of seeking yet more of it, perhaps it’s time for the Pentagon to abandon its costly and counterproductive military strategy of “covering the globe.”

A Cold War Strategy for the Twenty-First Century

Even to begin discussing this subject means asking the obvious question: Does the U.S. military have a strategy worthy of the name? As President Dwight D. Eisenhower put it in his farewell address in 1961, defense requires a “balance between cost and hoped for advantage” and “between the clearly necessary and the comfortably desirable.” Eisenhower conveniently omitted a third category: things that shouldn’t have been done in the first place -- on his watch, for instance, the CIA’s coups in Iran and Guatemala that overthrew democratic governments or, in our century, the Bush administration’s invasion and occupation of Iraq. But Eisenhower’s underlying point holds. Strategy involves making choices. Bottom line: current U.S. strategy fails this test abysmally. ..................(more)

http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/175973/tomgram%3A_william_hartung%2C_your_money_at_war_everywhere/#more




What China’s ‘new normal’ means for commodities


HONG KONG (MarketWatch) — China’s “new normal” economy might suggest merely impressive growth, rather than the magical growth of recent decades. But for natural commodities and large swathes of the world economy, things may never be the same again.

In a new report, Citi argues that global economic growth is now undergoing a fundamental transition, with a shift away from the prevailing model of China as the world’s factory. In the previous decade, China hollowed out industry from just about every corner of the globe as it became the dominant manufacturer of everything from Apple AAPL, +0.70% iPhones to sneakers and furniture. At the same time, it also became the primary driver of global commodity demand, supporting a multiyear commodity super cycle.

But now, as commodities across the board continue to make fresh multiyear lows, it is clear this boom is over. Analysts are now grappling with the wider implications as the price declines stretch from weeks to months, forecasting an upheaval in industry structures, trade flows and commodity markets.

China’s weakening commodity demand looks to be structural and permanent. While recent strength in the U.S. dollar DXY, +0.29% may have contributed to global commodity weakness, the slowdown in China is the dominant factor. This is not just a cyclical pause but an act of considered government policy to finally rebalance the Chinese economy, which even eight years ago then-premier Wen Jiabao described as “unstable, unbalanced, uncoordinated and unsustainable.”

Beijing now effectively has no other option but to steer a new course due to environmental damage, industrial overcapacity and dangerously high corporate debt levels caused by the excessive investment that went before. And there can be little doubt this will mean lower growth. .........................(more)

http://www.marketwatch.com/story/what-chinas-new-normal-means-for-commodities-2015-03-22




What China’s ‘new normal’ means for commodities


HONG KONG (MarketWatch) — China’s “new normal” economy might suggest merely impressive growth, rather than the magical growth of recent decades. But for natural commodities and large swathes of the world economy, things may never be the same again.

In a new report, Citi argues that global economic growth is now undergoing a fundamental transition, with a shift away from the prevailing model of China as the world’s factory. In the previous decade, China hollowed out industry from just about every corner of the globe as it became the dominant manufacturer of everything from Apple AAPL, +0.70% iPhones to sneakers and furniture. At the same time, it also became the primary driver of global commodity demand, supporting a multiyear commodity super cycle.

But now, as commodities across the board continue to make fresh multiyear lows, it is clear this boom is over. Analysts are now grappling with the wider implications as the price declines stretch from weeks to months, forecasting an upheaval in industry structures, trade flows and commodity markets.

China’s weakening commodity demand looks to be structural and permanent. While recent strength in the U.S. dollar DXY, +0.29% may have contributed to global commodity weakness, the slowdown in China is the dominant factor. This is not just a cyclical pause but an act of considered government policy to finally rebalance the Chinese economy, which even eight years ago then-premier Wen Jiabao described as “unstable, unbalanced, uncoordinated and unsustainable.”

Beijing now effectively has no other option but to steer a new course due to environmental damage, industrial overcapacity and dangerously high corporate debt levels caused by the excessive investment that went before. And there can be little doubt this will mean lower growth. .........................(more)

http://www.marketwatch.com/story/what-chinas-new-normal-means-for-commodities-2015-03-22




The Fed’s ‘repression’ has cost savers $470 billion, Swiss Re argues


WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) — Artificially low interest rates have cost U.S. savers $470 billion, according to a report released Thursday.

The report, from reinsurer Swiss Re SSREY, -1.94% SREN, +0.16% , argues against current high levels of so-called financial repression.

Swiss Re came up with the $470 billion number by looking at rates from 2008 to 2013. The insurer argues that if the Fed had followed a policy based on the Taylor Rule — a mechanistic way of determining interest rates that some congressional Republicans advocate — the Fed funds target would have been 1.7 percentage points higher on average.

That in turn would have boosted interest income by an average of $14,000 for the wealthiest 1%, and $160 for the bottom 90%.

The report concedes that there are obvious beneficiaries of lower rates too, through lower mortgage rates, higher house prices and a rising stock market. The boost to household wealth from house prices was an estimated $1 trillion and from the stock market was an estimated $9 trillion — dwarfing, then, the $470 billion hit on savings.

The report points out, however, that since the rich are more likely to own stocks, and have pricier homes, this has aggravated inequality. .................(more)

http://www.marketwatch.com/story/financial-repression-has-cost-savers-470-billion-swiss-re-argues-2015-03-26




Report: DEA Agents Allegedly Hosted Cartel-Funded 'Sex Parties' With Prostitutes


WASHINGTON -- Drug Enforcement Administration agents stationed abroad attended "sex parties" that were allegedly funded with money from drug cartels, according to a Justice Department report released Thursday.

The report, from the DOJ's Office of the Inspector General, discloses that seven DEA agents had admitted to attending parties with prostitutes, and that they had been suspended for between two and 10 days as a result. The report focuses on the handling of allegations of sexual harassment and misconduct at several federal law enforcement agencies under the Justice Department's umbrella.

"Although some of the DEA agents participating in these parties denied it, the information in the case file suggested they should have known the prostitutes in attendance were paid with cartel funds," the report states.

The Inspector General officials who compiled the report said they were "particularly troubled" by allegations about the "sex parties" taking place "over a period of several years" while the agents were stationed in an overseas office. ..............(more)

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/03/26/dea-sex-parties_n_6947132.html?ncid=fcbklnkushpmg00000013




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