Congress Passes Bill Which Grants “Unlimited Access to Communications of Every American”

By Paul Joseph Watson  December 11th, 2014.           Find Article Here:-

Congress Passes Bill Which Grants Unlimited Access to Communications of Every American NSA

According to Congressman Justin Amash, Congress just passed a bill which grants the government and law enforcement “unlimited access to the communications of every American”.

When the Michigan lawmaker discovered that the Intelligence Authorization Act for FY 2015 had been amended with a provision that authorizes “the acquisition, retention, and dissemination” of all communications data from U.S. citizens, he desperately attempted to organize a roll call vote on the bill.

However, the legislation was passed yesterday 325-100 via a voice vote, a green light for what Amash describes as “one of the most egregious sections of law I’ve encountered during my time as a representative”.

The bill allows the private communications of Americans to be scooped up without a court order and then transferred to law enforcement for criminal investigations.

The legislation effectively codifies and legalizes mass warrantless NSA surveillance on the American people, with barely a whimper of debate.

Read the full text of Congressman Amash’s letter below, which was sent out before the bill was passed.

*********************

Dear Colleague:

The intelligence reauthorization bill, which the House will vote on today, contains a troubling new provision that for the first time statutorily authorizes spying on U.S. citizens without legal process.

Last night, the Senate passed an amended version of the intelligence reauthorization bill with a new Sec. 309—one the House never has considered. Sec. 309 authorizes “the acquisition, retention, and dissemination” of nonpublic communications, including those to and from U.S. persons. The section contemplates that those private communications of Americans, obtained without a court order, may be transferred to domestic law enforcement for criminal investigations.

To be clear, Sec. 309 provides the first statutory authority for the acquisition, retention, and dissemination of U.S. persons’ private communications obtained without legal process such as a court order or a subpoena. The administration currently may conduct such surveillance under a claim of executive authority, such as E.O. 12333. However, Congress never has approved of using executive authority in that way to capture and use Americans’ private telephone records, electronic communications, or cloud data.

Supporters of Sec. 309 claim that the provision actually reins in the executive branch’s power to retain Americans’ private communications. It is true that Sec. 309 includes exceedingly weak limits on the executive’s retention of Americans’ communications. With many exceptions, the provision requires the executive to dispose of Americans’ communications within five years of acquiring them—although, as HPSCI admits, the executive branch already follows procedures along these lines.

In exchange for the data retention requirements that the executive already follows, Sec. 309 provides a novel statutory basis for the executive branch’s capture and use of Americans’ private communications. The Senate inserted the provision into the intelligence reauthorization bill late last night. That is no way for Congress to address the sensitive, private information of our constituents—especially when we are asked to expand our government’s surveillance powers.

I urge you to join me in voting “no” on H.R. 4681, the intelligence reauthorization bill, when it comes before the House today.

Justin Amash
Member of Congress

Categories: Government, Surveillance

Steve Bell on the Senate report on CIA torture – cartoon

Steve Bell 10.12.14

 

 

Categories: Cartoons

Study: Cellphone Use ‘Triples Brain Tumor Rates’.

By Mike Barrett  12th November 2014.           Find Article Here:-

cell phone

Did you ever wonder how a cell phone might affect your brain? When you think about it, the use of cell phones is massively experimental, as we had no idea what kind of negative effects they might have on people when they were first introduced. Well now, decades after heavy use of cell phones, a study shows that brain tumor rates nearly triple after 25 years of cell phone use.

The Swedish study, published in the journal Pathophysiology, found that the longer someone talked on their phone — in terms of hours and years — the more likely they were to develop glioma, a deadly form of brain cancer.

The study found that, overall, people who used wireless phones for more than a year were at 70% greater risk of brain cancer as compared to those who used wireless phones for a year or less. Those who used wireless phones for more than 25 years were at a 300% greater risk of brain cancer than those who used wireless phones for a year or less.

Dr. Gabriel Zada, a neurosurgeon at the University of Southern California’s Keck School of Medicine who wasn’t involved in the study, said that the study provides more evidence that cell phones and brain cancer may be linked.

Indeed, the Swedish study came to similar conclusions as many other studies – that cell phone use increases brain cancer risk. Another study examining how cell phones might fuel brain cancer followed nearly 800,000 middle-aged women for seven years. In that time, there were 51,680 invasive cancers and 1,261 cancers of the central nervous system. But when analyzing the data and looking at the women who reported using cell phones for over ten years, a 10% increase in meningioma risk was discovered.

Here is the good news: even though the Swedish study mentioned above tripled the risk of developing glioma, the chances of someone being diagnosed with this type of brain tumor are extremely low. One study found that just more than 5 out of 100,000 Europeans (.005%) were diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor between 1995 and 2002. Tripling that rate puts the chances of developing glioma at .016%.

But even still, there are numerous ways cell phones could negatively affect your brain. So what can you do to prevent these potential negative effects? Whether you have the latest LTE technology or an old flip-phone, you can minimize your exposure to cell phone radiation by:

  • Seldom holding the phone up to your head. This can be accomplished by either using the speaker option or using headphones with a microphone attached.
  • Not sleeping with your phone next to you, and turning it off at night.
  • Shutting it off while not in use.
  • Look into, heavily research, and invest in radiation protection options for your phone.
  • Placing your phone in ‘airplane’ mode if you cannot turn it off entirely.
  • Informing everyone of the dangers of cellphone use.

Egyptian student arrested carrying copy of Nineteen Eighty-Four.

By   10th November 2014.                Find Article Here:-

Police accuse Cairo student of filming security forces without permission and say they are unaware of book’s significance.

George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four
George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four. 

Orwellian fiction and reality appeared to blur into one on Sunday when reports suggested that an Egyptian undergraduate had been arrested for possessing a copy of Nineteen Eighty-Four.

Al-Masry al-Youm, Egypt’s leading private broadsheet, said a student identified only as Mohamed T had been caught in possession of the book at Cairo University, where a year-long wave of anti-government protests has seen several students killed by police, dozens expelled and hundreds sent to jail.

Government critics have likened the country’s return to strongman rule to the book’s plot, and social media users pounced on the story on Sunday evening.

Doubt was cast on the report when police stressed their collective lack of affinity for the western literary canon. While Mohamed T had indeed been in possession of Nineteen Eighty-Four at the time of his arrest, police said, they were unaware of its literary significance, and had instead accused him of filming security forces without their permission.

“None of us knows anything about this novel in the first place,” Mahmoud Farouk, the local investigations chief, claimed to Mada Masr, a Cairo-based news website.

Some nevertheless joked that it was only a matter of time before possession of Nineteen Eighty-Four became a reason for arrest. The book could be seen as particularly subversive in an Egyptian context, given the obvious parallels between Nineteen Eighty-Four’s critique of authoritarianism and the criticisms Egypt’s dissidents make of their government.

In Egypt, the regime claims to have seized power to save democracy and says its authoritarianism will build a freer future – an argument Orwell pre-empted more than 65 years ago when he wrote that many regimes in history “pretended, perhaps they even believed, that they had seized power unwillingly and for a limited time, and that just around the corner there lay a paradise where human beings would be free and equal”.

Food Scientists: New GMO Potatoes ‘Extremely Worrisome’ .

By Anthony Gucciardi  11th November 2014.         Find Article Here:-

Scientists blast US for approving new GM creation
gmo-potatoes-safety

Would you eat the newly approved genetically modified potato now set for commercial planting in the US? Studies suggest that most would not (though you won’t even be told thanks to the lack of GMO labeling), and now major food scientists are speaking out over the reality that the Franken potato may come with ‘worrisome’ and unknown consequences.

Upon breaking the news of the first GM potato approved by the U.S. Agriculture Department to hit your dinner table, it was quite clear that the last thing the safety commission within the department seems to care about is public health. We already have a host of genetically modified crops contaminating the food supply, such as corn (over 98%) and soy (over 94%). And with this genetic manipulation of our crops, we also have a host of studies demonstrating that Monsanto’s GMOs and Roundup herbicide (an integral part of these ‘Roundup ready’ GMO crops) have been linked to:

Yet the US government still thinks it’s perfectly fine to leave Roundup-doused GMO crops unlabeled on the shelves of your local grocery stores, and even inside your child’s baby formula. It’s no wonder that scientists are now speaking out following the news. More and more, professionals in the medical and agricultural industry are beginning to take a stand against what has become the international issue of food contamination and manipulation — from Monsanto’s GMOs to the host of synthetic additives that we are consuming on a daily basis.

That’s why, according to both a decent understanding of the issue and food scientists alike, we are about to face yet another wave of biological attack under the new GM potato commercialization. Here’s what Doug Gurian-Sherman, Ph.D., director of sustainable agriculture and senior scientist at the Center for Food Safety (CFS), had to say on the issue:

“We simply don’t know enough about RNA interference technology to determine whether GE crops developed with it are safe for people and the environment.  If this is an attempt to give crop biotechnology a more benign face, all it has really done is expose the inadequacies of the U.S. regulation of GE crops.  These approvals are riddled with holes and are extremely worrisome… We need answers to these questions before these potatoes are commercialized”

Gurian-Sherman’s statements were further expanded upon by Elizabeth Kucinich, policy director at CFS:

“In light of the obesity crisis, there has been an important national push to discourage children and adults from eating large quantities of fried foods like french fries or chips. In creating the false illusion that fried potatoes are now healthy, the Simplot potato sends the absolute opposite message… Claims of health benefits by USDA and Simplot are short sighted, misleading, and in the light of the science, could actually be potentially dangerous.”

The time is now to share this information with friends, family, strangers, activists, and the apathetic. As we approach the latest ‘genetic time bomb’ sitting within our fields, experts are warning that the time is now to get serious about regaining our food supply through legislation and the spreading of key news.

Save the Children staff furious over ‘global legacy’ award for Tony Blair.

By   25th November 2014.        Find Article Here:-

Internal letter signed by almost 200 staff members says award is ‘morally reprehensible’ and endangers STC’s credibility globally.

Tony Blair at the Save the Children Illumination Gala in New York City
Tony Blair at the Save the Children Illumination Gala in New York City. 

 

The charity Save the Children faces a backlash from staff after it presented Tony Blair with a “global legacy award” in New York last week – despite privately acknowledging that he is a controversial and divisive figure.

Amid widespread criticism on social media, many of the charity’s staff have complained that the presentation of the award has discredited Save the Children (STC). An internal letter, which gathered almost 200 signatures – including senior regional staff – in the first six hours of dissemination, said the award was not only “morally reprehensible, but also endangers our credibility globally”, and called for it to be withdrawn.

It said that staff wished to distance themselves from the award and demanded a review of the charity’s decision-making process.

“We consider this award inappropriate and a betrayal to Save the Children’s founding principles and values. Management staff in the region were not communicated with nor consulted about the award and were caught by surprise with this decision,” it said.

The move has also raised questions about Save the Children’s (STC) integrity and independence because of close links between the former British prime minister and key figures at the charity’s helm.

Its UK chief executive, Justin Forsyth, was a special adviser to Blair for three years, and Jonathan Powell, Blair’s former chief of staff, is currently on the board of STC.

Blair was presented with the award by the US arm of the charity at a glittering “Illumination Gala” at the Plaza Hotel in New York on 19 November, in recognition of his “leadership on international development”.

The charity cited two G8 summits hosted by Blair during his premiership which focused on debt relief for poor countries. At the Gleneagles summit in 2005, world leaders pledged to “Make Poverty History”.

Forsyth, who was appointed chief executive of STC in 2010, previously worked for Blair, focusing on global poverty. In an introduction to his blog on STC’s website, Forsyth writes: “In 2004, I was recruited to No 10 by Tony Blair, where I led efforts on poverty and climate change and was one of the driving forces behind the Make Poverty History campaign.”

Accepting the award at the New York gala, Blair said: “From the beginning of humankind there has been brutality, conflict, intrigue, the destructive obsession with a narrow self-interest. But throughout all human history, never has been extinguished that relentless, unquenchable desire to do good. To act not only in self-interest and sometimes to even to act in defiance of it.” Protesters swiftly took to social media, led by MP and anti-war campaigner George Galloway, who tweeted: “Following the grotesque award to child-killer @TheBlairDoc Tony Blair by Save the Children all right thinking people should withdraw support.” He also demanded STC rescind the award.

Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch, tweeted a picture of Blair with the words: “As this man defends any dictator who’ll pay him, @SaveTheChildrenUK inexplicably gives him award.” Roth later corrected this to STC US.

An online petition calling for STC to revoke the award said many saw Blair “as the cause of the deaths of countless children in the Middle East”. It had gathered more than 81,000 signatures by 1pm on Tuesday.

According to an email sent last week by Krista Armstrong, the charity’s global media manager, to senior colleagues, STC has received a “high volume of complaints and negative reactions regarding the award”.

The email acknowledged that Blair “is a hugely controversial and divisive figure in many parts of the world” and listed a number of questions that had been raised by STC staff, soliciting possible responses from her colleagues.

The first question was: “Why would Save the Children chose (sic) to provide one of its most prestigious award – ‘a global legacy award’ to a man accused of being a war criminal?”

In response, Eileen Burke, STC’s director of media and communications in the US, circulated “a line” explaining Blair was selected for the award for debt relief work and the Make Poverty History campaign.

“Otherwise we are not in a position to respond to some of the geopolitical questions below,” she wrote in a separate email.

In a statement, STC stressed that the award was given by the US arm of the charity, not by STC UK or Forsyth. It said the award was presented because of Blair’s work as prime minister on Africa and poverty.

In response to a question about the scale of internal anger and opposition, STC added: “In a global organisation like ours of thousands of people, our staff have strong views on a whole range of issues and people and we respect that diversity of views.”

A spokeswoman for Blair said the former prime minister was “deeply honoured and moved to receive the award in recognition of his work”. Asked about the wisdom of accepting an award from an organisation with two former Downing St employees within its leadership, Blair’s office pointed out that the award was made by STC US.

Since propelling Britain into the US-led war in Iraq in 2003, in the face of fierce opposition in parliament and among the public, Blair has regularly been accused of war crimes. He is expected to be strongly criticised in the report of the government-appointed Chilcot inquiry into the Iraq war, which is due to be published next year.

On the day he stepped down as prime minister in 2007, Blair took up the post of special envoy to the Middle East Quartet, which mediates between Israel and the Palestinians. Palestinians and their supporters have frequently charged that, rather than a neutral interlocutor, Blair is strongly pro-Israel.

Three years ago Tony Blair Associates, the former prime minister’s consultancy firm, signed a multimillion-pound deal to advise the autocratic president of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbeyev. Blair and his companies also have lucrative consultancy contracts with Kuwait, the UAE and Colombia.

Other areas of Blair’s post-Downing St work include African governance, faith, sport and climate change.

Powell did not respond to Guardian requests for comment on Blair’s award and his role as a board member of STC.

Forsyth’s salary at the Save the Children came under scrutiny last year when it was disclosed that he was paid £163,000 a year, including more than £22,000 in performance-related pay. He has since taken a pay cut to £140,000.

Categories: Protest Tags: ,

Ad-Blocker Ghostery Actually Helps Advertisers, If You “Support” It.

Alan Henry  19th June 2013.          Find Article Here:-

If you’ve read our features on how to protect your privacy and stop everyone from tracking you on the web, you’ve heard us mention Ghostery. It’s a solid privacy tool, but Mashable reports that you should stay away from its opt-in “GhostRank” feature, which sells data on the ads you block to the ad companies themselves.

Ghostery is owned by Evidon, a company that collects and provides data to advertising companies. It has a feature called GhostRank that you can check to “support” them. The problem is, Ghostery blocks sites from gathering personal information on you—but Ghostrank will take note the ads you encounter and which ones you block, and sends that information back to advertisers so they can better formulate their ads to avoid being blocked. The data is anonymous, and Ghostery still does everything it promises to do to protect your privacy.

You could argue this is a good thing, and that it’ll help advertisers create better, less intrusive ads. The other argument is that GhostRank is a tool to build a better mousetrap, as it were—unblockable ads and better tracking cookies. That’s not lost on privacy advocates:

A major source of business for Evidon is selling data that helps ad companies ensure their compliance with AdChoices, a self-regulatory program supposed to help people opt out of targeted ads. Some experts say AdChoices is confusing to consumers, and it has been criticized by U.S. and EU policymakers. “Evidon has a financial incentive to encourage the program’s adoption and discourage alternatives like Do Not Track and cookie blocking as well as to maintain positive relationships with intrusive advertising companies,” says Jonathan Mayer, a Stanford grad student and privacy advocate active in efforts to develop a standard “Do Not Track” feature for web browsers.

Update: Adam DeMartino, of Ghostery, reached out to offer his side of the story. He says:

The data we collect in GhostRank doesn’t contain any information about the actual ads that were seen by panel members. Rather, we simply report on the technologies that are used to deliver those ads, the performance characteristics of the URLs those technologies were seen on, and if the user blocked that particular technology company. GhostRank can’t see the actual ads or anything about the criteria that were used to target them.

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