Friday, August 31, 2012

The hole gets deeper . . .

AND THE D.E.A. JUST KEEPS ON DIGGING. The US Drug Enforcement Administration has grown from its creation by Nixon on July 1, 1973. According to Wiki,

DEA's headquarters is located in Arlington, Virginia across from the Pentagon. It maintains its own DEA Academy located on the United States Marine Corps base at Quantico, Virginia along with the FBI Academy. It maintains 21 domestic field divisions with 227 field offices and 86 foreign offices in 62 countries. With a budget exceeding 2.415 billion dollars, DEA employs over 10,800 people, including over 5,500 Special Agents.

That's one hell of a bureaucratic empire, employing a lot of people who have a stake in keeping things the way they are.

And that's the problem, because the War on Drugs just isn't working. Not only is it a failure, but it is causing incalculable damage to America, but also to the supplier countries.

HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH follows these abuses, noting that the Mexican government is unconcerned with the violation of its citizens' civil rights:
Through in-depth research in five of Mexico’s most violent states, Human Rights Watch found evidence that strongly suggests the participation of security forces in more than 170 cases of torture, 39 “disappearances,” and 24 extrajudicial killings since Calderón took office in December 2006.

“Instead of reducing violence, Mexico’s ‘war on drugs’ has resulted in a dramatic increase in killings, torture, and other appalling abuses by security forces, which only make the climate of lawlessness and fear worse in many parts of the country,” said José Miguel Vivanco, Americas director at Human Rights Watch.

No shit, Sherlock — it's getting really, really brutal, and there are no signs of the violence levelling-off, according to The New Statesman's article by Malcolm Beith, "Mexico's drug war: the battle without hope"

The horrors of Mexico’s drug war, which has raged since December 2006 and the start of President Felipe Calderón’s administration, know no bounds. More than 50,000 people have died in drug-related violence since, and there is no sign of the bloodshed diminishing. In 2006, shortly before Calderón deployed tens of thousands of soldiers to combat the violence, a group of armed thugs rolled five heads on to the dance floor of a nightclub in central Mexico as a warning; by 2007 and 2008, beheadings had become commonplace.

In 2009, a man nicknamed El Pozolero – “the stew-maker” – was arrested and confessed to dissolving the remains of more than 300 people in vats of caustic soda for a drug kingpin. Later that year, a man working for rivals of the powerful Sinaloa cartel was found; he had been beheaded and his face had been carved off and delicately stitched on to a football. Dozens of mass graves were discovered throughout the Latin American nation last year, many of them in Tamaulipas, a north-eastern state notorious for its hazy fug of lawlessness and for the terror tactics of Los Zetas, a group of former paramilitaries who now run their own drug trafficking syndicate.

Videos of some of the atrocities have been disseminated over the internet. In the most recent one, described above, members of the Sinaloa cartel are put to death.

El Pozolero — YIKES! Makes Jeffrey Dahmer look like an amateur. But the "stew-maker" is just one of a whole horde of monsters. You can find out more at El Blog del Narco, and the translation service of choice, if your Spanish is NFG.  The New Statesman opines that it pulls no punches: "Blog del Narco: madness, mutilation and murder in Mexico".

Twenty-eight thousand people have been killed since President Felipe Calderón launched his crackdown on the drug cartels in 2006. "Lost cities", such as Tijuana and Ciudad Juárez, are practically run by the leading drug cartels.

Here's the scary part: the Mexican cartels may be too big to take down. They are now part of the US financial system.

The Sinaloa cartel – led by Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán Loera, son of an opium farmer from the mountains in the north-western state of Sinaloa – has expanded in recent years to become the most powerful drug trafficking organisation in the world. 

The Sinaloa cartel produces its own marijuana, heroin and methamphetamine; it imports chemical precursors used to make methamphetamine from Asian nations such as India, Thailand and China. The authorities have spotted Sinaloa cartel operatives and scouts (conejos, or rabbits, in Spanish) on every continent; the Australian authorities believe the cartel is responsible for delivering as much as 500 kilogrammes of cocaine a month on to their shores.

In the spirit of globalisation, it is thought, El Chapo has bought properties in eastern Europe and throughout Latin America in an effort to launder his dirty money. In 2010 the US-based Wachovia Bank admitted to having handled $378bn for Mexican currency-exchange houses between 2004 and 2007, roughly $13bn of which was confirmed to belong to the Sinaloa cartel. (The US department of justice slapped sanctions of $160m on the bank for “wilfully failing to maintain an anti-money laundering programme”.)

378 BILLION DOLLARS! You can buy a lot of American politicians with that kind of money.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Shine the lights of freedom . . .

 — Know Thy Enemy —
THE TRAPWIRE surveillance system has connected state and federal law enforcement agencies with a vast intelligence infrastructure, that is scary to contemplate.

RT is a Russian site that proclaims itself  to be operated by Autonomous Nonprofit Organization “TV-Novosti”, and it has a page worthy of attention, as it seems that somebody from Anonymous has figured out a cheap and easy way to de-fang TrapWire. As well, the RT page has links to other aspects of the TrapWire danger. And thanks to YouTube, we can see how to go about it. Maybe Tilleys will bring out anti-TrapWire hats, but until then, you'll have to brush up on your soldering skills.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Naval nightmare . . .

x 3 = 270,000 tons of diplomacy in a small place
IT SEEMS THAT we narrowly avoided a war off the coast of Iran back in 2007, thanks to the timely action by a top political adviser to the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet, Gwenyth Todd. According to Jeff Stein at The Washington Post, in an article, "Why was a Navy adviser stripped of her career?", the US Navy had at least one admiral that was out of control.
Three "Big Decks" and support hardware

According to Todd and another witness, (Vice Admiral) Cosgriff’s idea, presented in a series of staff meetings, was to sail three “big decks,” as aircraft carriers are known, through the Strait of Hormuz — to put a virtual armada, unannounced, on Iran’s doorstep. No advance notice, even to Saudi Arabia and other gulf allies. Not only that, they said, Cosgriff ordered his staff to keep the State Department in the dark, too.

To Todd, it was like something straight out of “Seven Days in May,” the 1964 political thriller about a right-wing U.S. military coup. A retired senior naval officer familiar with Cosgriff’s thinking said the deployment plan was not intended to be provocative.

Not intended to be provocative? Yeah, right.

Cosgriff — backed by a powerful friend and boss, U.S. Central Command (Centcom) chief Adm. William J. “Fox” Fallon — was itching to push the Iranians, Todd and other present and former Navy officials say.

“There was a feeling that the Navy was back on its heels in dealing with Iran,” according to a Navy official prohibited from commenting in the media. “There was an intention to be far more aggressive with the Iranians, and a diminished concern about keeping Washington in the loop.”
• • •
Todd feared that the Iranians would respond, possibly by launching fast-attack missile boats into the gulf or unleashing Hezbollah on Israel. Then anything could happen: a collision, a jittery exchange of gunfire — bad enough on its own, but also an incident that Washington hawks could seize on to justify an all-out response on Iran.

Preposterous? It had happened before, off North Vietnam in 1964. In the Tonkin Gulf incident, a Navy captain claimed a communist attack on his ship. President Lyndon Johnson swiftly ordered the bombing of North Vietnam, touching off a wider war that turned the country upside down and left more than 58,000 U.S. servicemen dead.

Don’t tell anybody? No way. Todd picked up the phone and called a friend in Foggy Bottom. She had to get this thing stopped.

Scary, when accountability disappears. Check out the whole sorry tale, and be very thankful  Gwenyth did what had to be done to keep the General Jack D. Rippers under control.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Torture and the little lost country

I haven't commented much on the revelation that our  because there is very little. It's a funny place one arrives at when the move beyond the emotionally intense sort of outrage that normally follows when one receives news like this. I am afraid that many of us have moved to a place where we feel very little. There's not much surprise in this stuff anymore.

The Canadian government now accepts torture. Officially. The Canadian government was more or less complicit in sending one of its own citizens to Syria, for torture. Syria, the leadership of which is now receiving condemnation from the world community for the  massacre of its own civilian population. This is what states that torture people do in the end. I wish there was a word for the mercenary sort of hypocrisy Canada is engaging in here.

I am heartened and surprised, however, by the overwhelming denouncement of this new Con 'policy' by CBC commenters, who too often have me questioning their sanity and humanity. Perhaps there's some life left in this country's people after all.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Financial freedom . . .

THE US GOVERNMENT AND BIG BUSINESS have tried their best to kill WikiLeaks by removing the ability of people to donate money to the cause. As you may know, the big credit card companies sided with the oligarchy that runs the US, and WikiLeaks found itself on a financial desert island.

WikiLeaks has faced an unprecedented global financial blockade by major finance companies including Mastercard, Visa and PayPal although there has been no legal accusation of any wrongdoing.

Well, thanks to the arrival of Bitcoin, it seems that WikiLeaks has found a financial channel beyond the reach of the US government and the financial fascists that control the wealth.

Bitcoin is a distributed electronic cash protocol and a unit of currency. Bitcoin uses cryptographic technologies and a network of computing power to enable users to make and verify irreversible, instant online Bitcoin payments, without an obligation to trust and use centralized banking institutions and authorities.

Bitcoins do not have the backing of and do not represent any government-issued currency. Instead, Bitcoins are directly backed by the continued actions of the computing power within the Bitcoin network. It is the first of a new breed of cryptocurrencies that do not require a central authority.

According to Jon Matonis at Forbes, with an article, "WikiLeaks Bypasses Financial Blockade With Bitcoin", WikiLeaks may well survive to keep the spark of accountability alive:

People shouldn’t fear their government; government should fear its people. Publishers and journalists will not be intimidated nor silenced. Now entering day 626 of the financial blockade against WikiLeaks, Julian Assange sits in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London awaiting safe passage.

Following a massive release of secret U.S. diplomatic cables in November 2010, donations to WikiLeaks were blocked by Bank of America, VISA, MasterCard, PayPal and Western Union on December 7th, 2010.
Although private companies certainly have a right to select which transactions to process or not, the political environment produced less than a fair and objective decision. It was coordinated pressure exerted in a politicized climate by the U.S. government and it won’t be the last time that we see this type of pressure.

Fortunately, there is way around this and other financial blockades with a global payment method immune to political pressure and monetary censorship.

So, in spite of the fascists' best efforts, freedom of information still exists. Bitcoin may not be for everybody, but go visit their site and download their software, if you feel like making a middlefinger statement to the fascists.

Why gun-nuts are wrong

Here's a real live rebuttal to the often heard argument from the pro-gun crowd that allowing people to carry hand-guns will save lives in mass shootings. It seems that in the recent disgruntled worker shooting in New York City, all nine injured bystanders were injured by police bullets.

Police are trained tactical shooters yet they could not help injuring, luckily not killing, bystanders. Imagine how a bunch of Walter Mitty types and with their manly un/concealed carry permits and associated handcannons would fare in such a situation.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

White trash wonders . . .

NOBODY EVER WENT BROKE underestimating the taste of the American public — H. L. Mencken. Probably one of the most acerbic observations of the American Experience. And part of that attitude is a fascination with white trash "culture". Slate has a delightful article by  Michelle Dean, "Here Comes the Hillbilly, Again", which offers an overview of how this happens.

Alana “Honey Boo Boo Child” Thompson
and all the way down in McIntyre, Ga., there is a mother who feeds her child a Mountain-Dew-and-Red-Bull concoction before the 6-year-old gets onstage at beauty pageants. June Shannon, who stars with her daughter Alana “Honey Boo Boo Child” Thompson in TLC’s controversial hit Here Comes Honey Boo Boo, would have provoked a firestorm even if what she calls “go-go juice” were the only sin she was broadcasting all over Christendom. All that caffeine, pop-culture commentators everywhere clucked, and all that sugar.

Lost in the outrage is just how squarely “go-go juice” fits into America’s long tradition of “white trash” entertainment, which for decades has elevated characters like Honey Boo Boo into the nation’s objects of fun. The Pepsi Co. borrowed the Mountain Dew brand-name from slang for moonshine; in the 1960s, it was explicitly advertised as a “hillbilly” drink. The campaign’s entertaining TV ads, which you can watch on YouTube, were scored by twangy banjos and errant buckshot and plotted around a “stone-hearted gal” who will open her heart to you if you only take a swig.
Watching these old videos after an episode or two of Honey Boo Boo makes at least one thing clear: The hillbilly has regained the spotlight in American culture.

And that can be a sign of social stress:

As Anthony Harkins observes in Hillbilly: A Cultural History of an American Icon, one of the hillbilly’s signature moves is to peak, popularity-wise, just when Americans sense that things in general are headed south. Its first true zenith came in the depressed 1930s, a handmaiden to the birth of commercial country music. Another arrived in the turbulent 1960s, when The Beverly Hillbillies and Green Acres and Hee Haw were in their prime. (Those are hardly the only examples, of course: It also popped up in the Ma and Pa Kettle films of the 1940s and 1950s and Paul Webb’s 1930s Esquire cartoons about “The Mountain Boys,” among other places.)

Mountain-Dew-and-Red-Bull? That'll get you motorin', even if you ain't Honey Boo Boo Child. One of the appeals of hillbilly shows is that it makes the middle-class feel secure:

And hillbilly stereotypes have always made it easier for middle-class whites to presume that racism is the exclusive province of “that kind” of person. As Ta-Nehisi Coates has written, “It is comforting to think of racism as species of misanthropy, or akin to child molestation, thus exonerating all those who bear no real hatred in their heart. It’s much more troubling to think of it as it’s always been—a means of political organization and power distribution.”

As that distribution of power becomes more and more unequal, it’s no surprise to see the hillbilly here again—on Here Comes Honey Boo Boo, on Jersey Shore, on MTV’s 16 & Pregnant and Teen Mom franchises. These shows reassure us that our struggle is worth it, all economic evidence to the contrary—if only because we would never belly-flop into the mud on cable television. Here Comes Honey Boo Boo casts this socio-economic divide in especially sharp relief, since the show is rooted partly in beauty pageant culture, which, in its own idiosyncratic way, indulges the American belief that you can work and spend your way to greatness.

And those pageants are serious, with false teeth for teething contestants, known as "Dental Flippers". And somehow, you just know that Stevie loves hillbilly TV.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Nasty roots . . .

Karl Brandt, Nuremburg, 1948
THE GOP-MENGELE CONNECTION. Really. You see, Todd Akin's megaton gaffe prompted some people to ask where this wizard had gotten the idea in the first place:

So Where DID Akin Get That ‘Legitimate Rape’ Idea?. Turns out, it's from an early 70's study now discredited that used Nazi death camp research. Such lovely people, these Republicans.


Was Ex Nanook written by the PMO?

I'm serious. Could they come up with a more apt demonstration of Conservative policy proclivities?

Prime Minister Stephen Harper observed a military training operation in Hudson Bay today for a scenario involving Canadian Forces intercepting an ecotourism boat carrying migrants who are attempting to enter Canada illegally.
First, throw in ecotourism to highlight the dire security threat that the ecologically minded represent to Canada.

Second, make a linkage between environmentalists terraists and the refugees boat-people "migrants who are attempting to enter Canada illegally" through Hudson Bay(!).

And voila! We have justification for a tactical exercise by the CFRCMPCBSACCG and a big fat photo-op for Airshow and his boss where they can wax on about the glorious defence of Canada from ecotourism operators and poor people.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Bumper stickers . . .

VERACITY STEW has a whole whack of similar delights. Enjoy.
H/T — the regina mom

Careers in aviation . . .

A drug package can still be seen attached to
the bottom of this downed cartel ultralight plane. 
Photo: ChuckHolton/Flickr
THE WAR ON DRUGS continues its catastrophic process of destroying lives and cultures and consensus. The demand for mood-improving substances in the US is insatiable, as the 99% cope with their financial predicaments, so the Mexican cartels are always looking for new ways to service the demand.

Uncle Sugar has spent large to try to create an all-seeing, all-knowing electronic sensing system to stop these drugs coming north of the Mexican border, with the result that new approaches are necessary, as security tightens to Area 51-level rigor.

So, what to do, if you're in the biz? Ultralight aircraft. They're cheap, relatively easy to fly, almost invisible to radar, and they can carry 100-200 pounds of stuff. According to the LA Times article by Richard Marosi, "Ultralight aircraft now ferrying drugs across U.S.-Mexico border", Mexican organized crime groups are using ultralight aircraft to drop marijuana bundles in agricultural fields and desert scrub across the U.S. border. The incursions are hard to detect and are on the upswing.

Mexican organized crime groups, increasingly stymied by stepped-up enforcement on land, have dug tunnels and captained boats to get drugs across the U.S.-Mexico border. Now they are taking to the skies, using ultralight aircraft that resemble motorized hang gliders to drop marijuana bundles in agricultural fields and desert scrub across the Southwest border.

What began with a few flights in Arizona in 2008 is now common from Texas to California's Imperial Valley and, mostly recently, San Diego, where at least two ultralights suspected of carrying drugs have been detected flying over Interstate 8, according to U.S. border authorities.

The battle continues. According to WIRED, Uncle Sugar just spent another 100 million dollars on the latest surveillance tech to try to stop the ultralights. Robert Beckhusen's article, "Feds Drop $100 Million to Spot Flying, Homebrew Cocaine Mules" declares that, 

Stopping drug smugglers on the ground is one thing. You can build a fence, send more Border Patrol agents and put up more cameras. But it’s a whole other thing to stop Mexico’s cartels from using tiny planes that are nearly impossible to catch.

That’s why the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is spending $100 million on new sensors that can detect ultralight aircraft. The giant contract — awarded to New York defense company SRCTec earlier this month — comes as the cartels have been using more of the planes to elude Border Patrol agents. The cartels also seem to have become pretty good at it. The Air Force has chased them with jets, and the Border Patrol has pursued them with Black Hawk helicopters.

Closer to gliders than complete planes; ultralight planes are small, cheap and their engines are relatively quiet. They move slowly, but are flown low to blend in with the southwest border’s rugged and hilly terrain, which the smugglers use to hide from radar. The last available data on ultralight incursions is from 2011, when the CBP detected 223 flights, double from two years prior. It stands to reason the real number is much higher, owing to the diminutive aircraft’s sneakiness.

However, the problem still remains, because the drugs get dropped, collected and people get happy and conservative America can go on pretending that the War On Drugs is working, until sometime in 2013, when it seems likely that a number of central-south American countries are going to publicly renounce their participation.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Even paranoids have enemies . . .

ONE AND A HALF BILLION ROUNDS OF AMMO — and more — have been acquired by various domestic US Government agencies.

That's enough ammo to shoot every American 5 times. Really. According to The Daily Caller's article by Major General Jerry Curry, USA (Ret.), "Who Does The Government Intend To Shoot?", US government agencies of all kinds are in on it:

The Social Security Administration (SSA) confirms that it is purchasing 174 thousand rounds of hollow point bullets to be delivered to 41 locations in major cities across the U.S.
• • •
If this were only a one time order of ammunition, it could easily be dismissed. But there is a pattern here. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has ordered 46,000 rounds of hollow point ammunition.
 • • •
In the war in Iraq, our military forces expended approximately 70 million rounds per year. In March DHS ordered 750 million rounds of hollow point ammunition. It then turned around and ordered an additional 750 million rounds of miscellaneous bullets including some that are capable of penetrating walls. This is enough ammunition to empty five rounds into the body of every living American citizen. Is this something we and the Congress should be concerned about?

NOAA? Go figure. Scary stuff, indeed. And it causes one to ponder why. According to George Washington, at ZEROHEDGE, there are covert players at work: a secret government.

This may sound like a conspiracy theory … But remember that Senator Daniel Inouye said in 1987:
There exists a shadowy Government with its own Air Force, its own Navy, its own fundraising mechanism, and the ability to pursue its own ideas of national interest, free from all checks and balances, and free from the law itself.

For the past decade, we’ve seen the rise of a secret, unaccountable U.S. military force … Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) is an unwieldy private army at the command of the President, and him only. And they conduct military and spy missions all over the world, never receiving formal congressional approval ….

More about JSOC later.
H/T — Helmut, thank-you, sir.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Seduced by the Dark Side

I owned a book by Ferguson once. His Colossus volume about American power I picked up after a recommendation from very likable but a right leaning prof. Interesting read at the time. I ended up leaving it on a bookcase somewhere.
The Oxford and Harvard historian Niall Ferguson's spectacular thundering in is making the rounds. See LFR for a good summary with links. Bascially, the professor wrote an anti-Obama hack piece a cover for Newsweek filled with highly questionable analyses and quote butchering.

I always find it sad to watch any professional or artisan sellout and sacrifice their ethics and morals to a particular cause. Such a waste of potential. Academics by virtue of their employment must not be an exception, but it seems to be the case with the conservative leaning variety.

In Canada, Barry Cooper and Tom Flanagan come to mind. Both are trained scholars who presumably understand rigour and the need for sound reasoning or evidence when making claims. Maybe they once had elegance. Yet both write and speak in uncritical inflamatory drivel. A couple of years ago I watched two full professor economists reduce themselves to shouting at the panel audience about Hitler and Stalin when they were challenged with idea that economic growth is unsustaintable. Funny how there's an economic element to it as well: Free markets are go and privilege rests with those who preach it.

Anyway, maybe something will happen to this Harvard Brit in love with the GOP. Likely not. Massive public humiliation has little impact on behind ivory walls.

An anthem for our time . . .

RAY AND DAVE tell it like it is: Low Budget. Full lyrics at the YouTube page.

Cheap is small and not too steep
But best of all cheap is cheap
Circumstance has forced my hand
To be a cut price person in a low budget land
Times are hard but we'll all survive
I just got to learn to economize

I'm on a low budget
I'm on a low budget
I'm not cheap, you understand
I'm just a cut price person in a low budget land

Sunday, August 19, 2012

The Party is not pleased . . .

THIS IS AWKWARD: THE POLITICS OF A CHINESE ORGY, is a New Yorker post by Evan Osnos. OMG, there's a movie in it somewhere.

“NAKED GUY IS NOT OUR PARTY CHIEF: LOCAL AUTHORITY” was the headline in the Global Times after the Communist Party committee in Lujiang county declared a case of mistaken identity.

American Spring . . .

AMERICAN SPRING is a blog created by Paul Ellison, a concerned American, which itemizes most of the nefarious activity that Uncle Sugar is up to.

Whether you are a donkey or an elephant, when the music stops and we look around, all of us see the same truth.

They are not working for us. They are working against us.

Fact: Together, they have passed the NDAA, allowing for the indefinite detention of Americans. It has legalized the use of propaganda against us, in order to hide what they have done and what they are doing.

Fact: Together, they have passed HR 347, which makes gathering together in protest a felony offense. It enables an ever more aggressive paramilitary police force to arrest those who dissent openly.

Fact: Together, they cash checks from Wall Street criminals, and allow them to go unpunished for crimes that have brought our nation to the brink of financial ruin.

Fact: Together, they continue to fund a never-ending war machine that has brought both drones and a totalitarian surveillance state to our shores.

Fact: Together, they have sold our country out to their corporate benefactors, while laughing all the way to the bank.

Fact: Together, they have enabled the most invasive surveillance state this side of Orwell.

Fact: Together, they have made sure there will be no dissent.

Fact: Together, they have turned our Congress, our judiciary, our Presidency, into a joke.

Fact: Together, they are profiting from this.

We do not have a political problem, we have a systemic one.

We do not have a political problem, we have a systemic one.  And the system is getting more complex, as covert activities center on "social media" as the way to win hearts and influence minds. That's the view of Project PM, a wiki on the major players. 

The purpose of Project PM's wiki is to provide a centralized, actionable data set regarding the intelligence contracting industry, the PR industry's interface with totalitarian regimes, the mushrooming infosec/"cybersecurity" industry, and other issues constituting threats to human rights, civic transparency, individual privacy, and the health of democratic institutions.

Their areas of interest give an idea of how pervasive the fascist effort is: Romas/COIN,  Endgame Systems, Cubic Corporation, Booz Allen Hamilton, Archimedes Global, In-Q-Tel, TASC, Northrop Grumman, Mantech, SAIC, C5i, Raytheon

It's hard to decide what's the most dangerous to our democracy, when there's items like Operation Earnest Voice. Operation Earnest Voice (OEV) is an ironically-titled program run by CENTCOM which is known to make use of Persona Management software. Persona management entails the use of software by which to facilitate the use of multiple fake online personas, or "sockpuppets," generally for the use of propaganda, disinformation, or as a surveillance method by which to discover details of a human target via social interactions. 
H/T — Daniel, merci.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Putin prevails . . .

PUTIN PREVAILS . . . for now. Great picture. Here's a couple of posters, too.

Caveat emptor . . .

— 5-chloro-2-(2,4-dichlorophenoxy)phenol —

CHECK THE LABELS on your household cleaning stuff, as well as toiletries like toothpaste, for Triclosan, because evidence is showing that it's nasty, dangerous stuff — and it's everywhere, it seems. According to Disinformation, new reports from front-line outfits like University of California-Davis and Johns Hopkins, among others show cause for concern:

“Triclosan is found in virtually everyone’s home and is pervasive in the environment,” said Isaac Pessah, professor and chair of the Department of Molecular Biosciences in the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine and principal investigator of the study. “These findings provide strong evidence that the chemical is of concern to both human and environmental health.”

Triclosan is commonly found in antibacterial personal-care products such as hand soaps as well as deodorants, mouthwashes, toothpaste, bedding, clothes, carpets, toys and trash bags. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in 1998 estimated that more than 1 million pounds of triclosan are produced annually in the United States, and that the chemical is detectable in waterways and aquatic organisms ranging from algae to fish to dolphins, as well as in human urine, blood and breast milk.

And according to the LA Times, Triclosan may not do that great a job:

Concerns about triclosan aren't new. According to a statement released by UC Davis, Pessah's team has previously linked the chemical to problems with reproductive hormones and brain activity. In a 2010 article from the Los Angeles Times, writer Jill U Adams reviewed the case against the chemical.  One big problem, she wrote, is that antibacterial soaps that contain triclosan don't do any better killing germs on your hands than plain old soap and water. 

To me, the scariest part is that it is an ingredient in toothpaste . . .

The UC Davis research team has previously linked triclosan to other potentially harmful health effects, including disruption of reproductive hormone activity and of cell signaling in the brain.
The team also found that triclosan impairs heart and skeletal muscle contractility in living animals. Anesthetized mice had up to a 25-percent reduction in heart function measures within 20 minutes of exposure to the chemical.

“The effects of triclosan on cardiac function were really dramatic,” said Nipavan Chiamvimonvat, professor of cardiovascular medicine at UC Davis and a study co-author. “Although triclosan is not regulated as a drug, this compound acts like a potent cardiac depressant in our models.”

Thursday, August 16, 2012

World History . . .

WORLD HISTORY WITH THE POPE, according to, a site with a rather caustic viewpoint about Imaginary Buddies, proclaiming itself to be "Your last stop before eternal enlightenment".  Do check out the site, as it has some interesting stuff for your perusal, like "Muslims Protesting An Atheism Convention", "Dutch Roman Catholic Church ‘castrated at least 10 boys’" and "Nepalese woman accused of witchcraft and burned alive".

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

CDS search

Something fishy here. You'd think that the replacement for the Chief of the Defence Staff, the functional uniformed head Canada's military (GG and the Queen aside) would be secured well in advance of retirement of the present individual. Not so, it seems (emphasis mine).
It appears the same process is being used this time, but the process is now said to be much more under the control of the prime minister and his senior bureaucrats.
"This is the prime minister's CDS," the source said. "It's clear that he has to be very comfortable with the person who is in the job."

I wonder...did shortlisted candidates fail some Conservative political loyalty test in their interviews or subsequent review by Harper and his holy-warriors? If Harper has his hands in there, he wants a yes-man, that much would be clear.

But it must be hard to find one of those after ten years of useless war and stunts like having your combat mission extended without warning, troops used as photo-ops, Airshow (!), veterans medical records being used against them, torture and Afghan prisoners, failed kit deliveries and replacements, and whatever other nastinesss that hasn't surfaced in public. I mean, who would actually want the job of serving what is increasingly becoming a one party petro=war-state?

The problem of course if any of the above is true, is what happens to the Canadian Forces if the Harperites eventually find their yes-man.

Editing the truth . . .

ENBRIDGE IS LYING, according to SumOfUs. Looking at the picture, it sure seems like it. As SumOfUs says,

If a tar sands pipeline and supertankers project looks too dangerous, what do you do? If you’re Enbridge, you delete islands off of public videos and maps to convince the public the project is less dangerous than it really is.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Airshow's says something or the other..

Doesn't matter what he says. We don't believe him or his air force anymore.

On the shooting down of MiGs

OK, CBC, control yourself. What you show is footage of a Syrian fast jet likely be downed by Free Syrian groundfire. Downing a fast moving fighter aircraft with light weapons or a heavy machine gun is a tricky business but it can be done either by skill or luck. There is absolutely nothing in the facts as they are reported to suggest that the down of the aircraft
would mark a major leap forward in their military capabilities as well as a big blow to the regime, which started using its air force intensively in the civil war over the past weeks.
If they do it two or three times, then you've got something. Once is unsurprising and probably expected, especially given the low altitude and volume of fire being thrown up at it.

Big Brother IS watching . . .

ACCORDING TO WIKILEAKS, the organs of state security have started wiring all the CCTV surveillance cameras in areas of interest. So says David Seaman at BUSINESS INSIDER, in his article, "WIKILEAKS: Surveillance Cameras Around The Country Are Being Used In A Huge Spy Network".

"Former senior intelligence officials have created a detailed surveillance system more accurate than modern facial recognition technology—and have installed it across the U.S. under the radar of most Americans, according to emails hacked by Anonymous.

Every few seconds, data picked up at surveillance points in major cities and landmarks across the United States are recorded digitally on the spot, then encrypted and instantaneously delivered to a fortified central database center at an undisclosed location to be aggregated with other intelligence. It’s part of a program called TrapWire and it's the brainchild of the
Abraxas, a Northern Virginia company staffed with elite from America’s intelligence community.

What to do? My advice is, "sheep, look up". What do you see? CCTV cameras? Take a roll of electrical tape or even some PostIt notes and cover the lens. That way, it's useless, but you have not destroyed property, and Candid Camera is thwarted. Then there's disguises, and useful items like reversible coats and hats and all that Lon Chaney stuff. Nothing like a good gorilla mask to keep 'em wondering who it is that enjoys target practice on CCTV cameras . . . high-quality .177 air pistols are so delightfully accurate, and they're not firearms.

Now, what are the chances that Big Vickie's Gestapo is either already part of this, or is about to put Canada under Big Brother's surveillance?

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Generational thinking . . .

GENERATIONAL THINKING: making plans that will involve the participation of four or five or more generations. It's a headspace that's completely foreign to the Harper smash-and-grab mutilation of our landscape and society. To Stevie, sustainability means how long can he get away with it.

Anyway snotr is a site with an inspiring video, "The Living Bridge", situated in Mehgalaya, a tribal kingdom in Assam, jammed between Bangladesh and Bhutan. It's monsoon central, there, and building bridges requires creativity, with no construction tools or equipment or materials or money.

Thursday, August 09, 2012

Stevie's drones . . .

THINGS ARE HEATING UP, and the Arctic is turning, well, slushy — and Vladimir Putin is getting all excited about creating more vodka outlets. Actually, they're going to be bases for "combined arms": army navy airforce. According to an article in WIRED by Robert Beckhusen, "Russia and Canada Gear Up for Arctic Non-War", 

On Monday, Russian Security Council chief Nikolai Patrushev said Russia is planning to build a string of new naval bases in the Arctic. The bases are intended to be “key double-purpose sites” for warships “in remote areas of the Arctic Seas.”
— Russkies —

Still, Russia wants to catch up on the Arctic front. In late June, Russian President Vladimir Putin took up the Arctic boosterism while overseeing the construction of another Borei-class nuclear submarine, of which Russia plans to have eight by 2020. ”Obviously, the Navy is an instrument to protect national economic interests, including in such regions as Arctic where some of the world’s richest biological resources, mineral resources are concentrated,” Putin said.

Well, Stevie's paying some kind of attention, as the article proclaims

— Stevie Drone —
Canada is also getting in on the binge. On Monday, Canada’s military was revealed to be planning a billion-dollar drone buy. The drones — intended to be armed — are reportedly focused (but not exclusively) on protecting Canada’s claims to the Arctic. The drones were last peddled by Canada’s Department of National Defence during the Libya war. With that war over, the looming Arctic war has moved in to fill the gap.

What those drones will be doing out there is anyone’s guess. Canada is also building new ships, and we shouldn’t forget about our neighbor’s plans to build stealth snowmobiles in case of an invasion of the tundra.

Check out the article and the links within it. Trust Stevie to pick a drone that was never designed for Arctic conditions. And stealth snowmobiles, go figure.

Monday, August 06, 2012

Better and better . . .

THE OGALLALA AQUIFER might be the show-stopper for Keystone XL, according to the Washington Post's article "Keystone XL pipeline may threaten aquifer that irrigates much of the central U.S.", part of their series, "Keystone:Down the Line". There seems to be a clear and present danger, according to Jane Kleeb, who is an activist in Nebraska:

If the pipeline should spring a leak where it touches the aquifer or even above it, Kleeb and other opponents say, oil could quickly seep into and through the porous, sandy soil. The Ogallala, Kleeb said last year in a television interview, is a very fragile ecosystem, literally made of sand. . . . To have a pipeline crossing that region is just mind-boggling.

Stevie ain't gonna like this . . .

Saturday, August 04, 2012

Testing the future . . .

WE USED TO HAVE 23 skidoo; now, we have 23andMe. According to Susan Young at MIT's Technology Review, "Personal Genetics Company Seeks Regulatory Approval"

23andMe, in which Google has invested $6.5 million, offers a genome analysis test directly to consumers, who can use the product to explore their genetic risk for everything from curly hair to Alzheimer's disease. Although the company isn't disclosing which particular tests it is seeking regulatory approval for, Ashley Gould, vice president for corporate development and chief legal officer, says the tests are medically relevant and examine genetic variants with disease connections that are well supported by scientific research. The company is already working on a second submission, and plans to eventually seek approval for some 100 of its 240 tests.
240 tests. One of 'em's for Neanderthal percentage, even. And genetic science is still in its infancy. We could have this be of  incredible benefit, or we could wind up with Gattaca — or much, much worse, like the "Genetic Slavery" that exists in David Weber's "Honorverse", some 3,000 years from now.  The future sure looks like interesting times, don't it?

Stevie and his gargoyles . . .


Friday, August 03, 2012

Things are getting tougher . . .

EVEN PLANTS ARE GETTING TOUGHER these days, thanks to Monsanto and others in the genetic modification business, and this is causing problems for farmers who grow the mutants. According to Chris Taylor at AUTOBLOG, "GMO crops so tough that farmers are turning to Kevlar tractor tires".

Mark Newhall of Farm Show Magazine tells American Public Media's Marketplace that after the stalks are cut during harvest, the leftover stubs are like "having a field of little spears."

So instead of tractor tires lasting the usual five to six years, they're getting chewed up after just one or two years. One tractor tire can cost thousands of dollars, and some tractors have as many as eight tires.

Or more, on the really big tractors and combines. Maybe Monsanto will get into the tire business with RoundUp brand tires? . . . . and you are not allowed to put them on another tractor or save any of the treads unless you first sign an agreement and pay royalties . . .