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Sun, 28 Nov 2021
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Eye 2

US: Are Drones Watching You?

drones
© n/a
Today, EFF filed suit against the Federal Aviation Administration seeking information on drone flights in the United States. The FAA is the sole entity within the federal government capable of authorizing domestic drone flights, and for too long now, it has failed to release specific and detailed information on who is authorized to fly drones within US borders.

Up until a few years ago, most Americans didn't know much about drones or unmanned aircraft. However, the U.S. military has been using drones in its various wars and conflicts around the world for more than 15 years, using the Predator drone for the first time in Bosnia in 1995, and the Global Hawk drone in Afghanistan in 2001. In the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, the US military has used several different types of drones to conduct surveillance for every major mission in the war.

In Libya, President Obama authorized the use of armed Predator drones, even though we were not technically at war with the country. And most recently in Yemen, the CIA used drones carrying Hellfire missiles to kill an American citizen, the cleric Anwar al-Awlaki. In all, almost one in every three U.S. warplanes is a drone, according to the Congressional Research Service. In 2005, the number was only 5%.

Now drones are also being used domestically for non-military purposes, raising significant privacy concerns. For example, this past December, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) purchased its ninth drone. It uses these drones inside the United States to patrol the U.S. borders - which most would argue is within its agency mandate - but it also uses them to aid state and local police for routine law enforcement purposes. In fact, the Los Angeles Times reported in December that CBP used one of its Predators to roust out cattle rustlers in North Dakota.

Eye 1

US: Homeland Security Watches Twitter, Social Media and Websites

A monitor displays an attacking team's progress
© Reuters/Jim Urquhart
A monitor displays an attacking team's progress during a drill at a Department of Homeland Security cyber security defense lab at the Idaho National Laboratory in Idaho Falls, Idaho, September 30, 2011.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security's command center routinely monitors dozens of popular websites, including Facebook, Twitter, Hulu, WikiLeaks and news and gossip sites including the Huffington Post and Drudge Report, according to a government document.

A "privacy compliance review" issued by DHS last November says that since at least June 2010, its national operations center has been operating a "Social Networking/Media Capability" which involves regular monitoring of "publicly available online forums, blogs, public websites and message boards."

The purpose of the monitoring, says the government document, is to "collect information used in providing situational awareness and establishing a common operating picture."

The document adds, using more plain language, that such monitoring is designed to help DHS and its numerous agencies, which include the U.S. Secret Service and Federal Emergency Management Agency, to manage government responses to such events as the 2010 earthquake and aftermath in Haiti and security and border control related to the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, British Columbia.

Bad Guys

US - Revolving Door: From Top Futures Regulator to Top Futures Lobbyist

Walter Lukken
© Bill Clark/Roll Call/Getty Images
Walter Lukken returns to the witness table before the start of the Senate Appropriations Committee Financial Services and General Government Subcommittee and Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee joint hearing.

While America focused on New Hampshire, a classic example of revolving-door politics took place in Washington, going almost completely unnoticed. It's a move that ranks up there with the hire of Louisiana congressman Billy Tauzin to head the pharmaceutical lobbying conglomerate PhRMA -- at a salary of over $2 million a year -- immediately after Tauzin helped ram through the Medicare Prescription Drug Bill, a huge handout to the pharmaceutical industry.

In this case, the hire involves Walter Lukken, who toward the end of the Bush years was the acting head of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. As the chief regulator of the commodities markets, it was Lukken's job to spot and combat speculative abuses and manipulations that might have led to artificial price hikes and other disruptions.

In 2008, the last full year of his tenure, Lukken presided over some of the worst chaos in the commodities markets in recent history, with major disruptions in the markets for food products like wheat, cotton, soybeans, and rice, and energy commodities like oil.

Most notoriously, 2008 saw a historic spike in the price of oil futures, an enormously destructive speculative bubble that peaked in July of that year at the lunatic high price of $146 per barrel (Goldman, Sachs at the height of the mania was telling investors oil might go to $200 a barrel).

Red Flag

Dear Americans, We Are Surrounded

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© occupydallas.wordpress.com
Occasionally in the past, I have received emails from readers asking me if it was time to leave America because of some new infringement on our rights.

In the past, I always responded to these emails by saying that it really depended on who the reader was. Anyone, I usually replied, who was in the securities-brokerage industry or the medical profession should start looking, because of how regulated those industries are. If on the other hand, a surfer dude just living for the next wave, would have little reason to be concerned.

Things have changed so dramatically in the last 6 to 12 months that I now believe you are being irresponsible ,no matter who you are, if you do not have a bagged packed and are ready to move at a moments notice.

It is not as though there is some new country, or land where the breeze blows lightly 365 days a year, and where there is no government intrusion into your life, but things could get so bad in the United States that many places may start to look like happy alternatives.

The United States is a very rich country with only minor government harassment at this time. For the most part, we all have smart phones, internet connections, wear fashionable clothes and eat decent food. I now believe this situation could change at anytime. Please note: I am not saying it will change but that it could, very quickly.

Whistle

Monsanto's GMO Corn Approved Despite 45,000 Public Comments in Opposition

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© Activist Post
As previously reported, while people were de-stressing and enjoying their much needed time off during the holidays, the United States Department of Agriculture announced its approval of Monsanto's 'drought tolerant' genetically engineered corn.

The decision to give the green light to Monsanto regarding their GE corn didn't seem too difficult for the Obama Administration, despite receiving nearly 45,000 public comments voicing opposition and only 23 comments in favor since comments opened.

Prepare to see this new GE corn unleashed into the environment as well as the American food supply.

Bad Guys

Guantanamo Bay 10th Anniversary: Obama's Detention Law Could Fill Prison Obama Tried To Close

Camp America-Guantanamo
© Getty
President Barack Obama failed two years ago to close the infamous Guantanamo Bay prison, and with Wednesday marking the 10th anniversary of its creation, debate is raging over whether a law he signed will ensure it will stay open for decades to come, jailing even United States citizens.

Tucked into the National Defense Authorization Act of 2012, which Obama signed on New Year's Eve, are provisions that appear to allow indefinite military detention of American terrorism suspects, and to require it of suspected foreign enemies.

The Obama administration insists the law merely codifies existing standards, but its strong supporters and vehement opponents are sure it does much more, legally enshrining for the first time in 60 years the authority to hold citizens without trial.

"We're no longer in the box of having to read Miranda rights to terrorists who come to America to try to kill us," said Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), an author of the bill who praised its passage on his website earlier this month.

Star of David

Mosque Defaced, 3 Cars Torched in West Bank

Israeli police say a mosque has been defaced with Hebrew graffiti and three cars have been torched in a Palestinian village in the West Bank.

Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said Wednesday that vandals painted "price tag" and "Gal Arye Yosef" overnight on a wall of the mosque in the village of Dir Istiyya.

"Price tag" refers to a practice by Jewish extremists of accosting Palestinian property - and more recently, Israeli military bases - in retaliation for Israeli government action against settlers.

Gal Arye Yosef is the name of a small, unauthorized settlement outpost that Israeli security forces demolished on Tuesday.

Attention

US Fires 1st Drone in Pakistan in 6 Weeks; 4 Dead

US Drone
© unknown
The U.S. carried out its first drone strike into Pakistan since errant November airstrikes by U.S. forces killed two dozen Pakistani troops along the Afghan border. The latest missile attack killed four militants, three of them Arabs, according to Pakistani intelligence officials.

The drone strike took place Tuesday near Miran Shah in North Waziristan, an al-Qaida and Taliban stronghold that has been pounded by the U.S. since the drone program began in earnest in 2009. The intelligence officials didn't give their names because they were not authorized to speak to the media.

Relations with Pakistan plummeted after the Nov. 26 airstrikes prompted Islamabad to shut down vital supply routes into Afghanistan and force the U.S. to vacate Shamsi Air Base in southwestern Baluchistan province. The U.S. used the base to service drones that targeted militants in the tribal regions close to Afghanistan.

American officials say there had been no promise by Washington that drone operations would be avoided since the deadly airstrikes, but that the lull was part of a broad effort to tamp down tensions with Pakistan. While there has long been some level of agreement by Pakistan over the drone attacks, their scope and frequency has been a source of friction between the two countries.

Bomb

Bomb Blast Kills Nuclear Scientist in Iran; Israel Accused

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© The Associated Press
The bomb was reportedly attached with magnets to the car
An Iranian nuclear scientist was killed by a bomb placed on his car by a motorcyclist in Tehran on Wednesday, and a city official blamed Israel for the attack, similar to attacks on nuclear scientists just over a year ago.

Fars news agency identified the victim as Mostafa Ahmadi-Roshan, a 32-year-old graduate of an oil industry university. It said he had supervised a department at Iran's Natanz uranium enrichment facility. Iran's atomic energy organization said it would issue a statement shortly.

"The bomb was a magnetic one and the same as the ones previously used for the assassination of the scientists, and the work of the Zionists (Israelis)," Fars quoted Deputy Tehran Governor Safarali Baratloo as saying.

Witnesses told Reuters they had seen two people on the motorbike fix the bomb to the car. As well as the person killed in the car, a pedestrian was also killed. Another person in the car was gravely injured, they said.

Light Sabers

China Warns U.S. to be "Careful" in Military Refocus

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© unknown
China's Ministry of Defence warned the United States on Monday to be "careful in its words and actions" after announcing a defence rethink that stresses responding to China's rise by shoring up U.S. alliances and bases across Asia.

The statement from the ministry spokesman Geng Yansheng was Beijing's fullest reaction so far to the new U.S. strategy unveiled last week. It echoed the mix of wariness and outward restraint that has marked China's response to the Obama administration's "pivot" to Asia since late last year.

"We have noted that the United States issued this guide to its defence strategy, and we will closely observe the impact that U.S. military strategic adjustment has on the Asia-Pacific region and on global security developments," Geng said in a statement issued on the ministry's website (www.mod.gov.cn).

"The accusations leveled at China by the U.S. side in this document are totally baseless," said Geng.

"We hope that the United States will flow with the tide of the era, and deal with China and the Chinese military in an objective and rational way, will be careful in its words and actions, and do more that is beneficial to the development of relations between the two countries and their militaries."