Category Archives: Hypocrisy

DiFi: On senatorial rich list, #9 with a bullet


The screen cap from Roll Call’s annual wealth tally is notable for two reasons: First, for noting that her personal wealth is likely dwarfed compared to that of her spouse, fellow plutocratic and University of California Regent Richard Blum [previously], and, second, because it neglects to mention that said spouse is getting even richer because his real estate company is selling off the country’s “surplus” post offices, many of them adorned with invaluable art from the New Deal era.

Click on the image to enlarge:

BLOG DiFi

And that UC Board of Regents is the same outfit that just voted hefty raises for campus brass at the same time UC Berkeley contemplates a $10,000+ annual tuition increase for journalism school students, advanced degree holders set to enter a craft where annual salaries average under $36,000. . .

EconoWatch: Whales, climate, fires, nukes


A relatively small collection today, starting with another sort of environmental woe from Newswise:

Living in a Disadvantaged Neighborhood Worsens Musculoskeletal Pain Outcomes After Trauma Exposure

Individuals living in disadvantaged neighborhoods have worse musculoskeletal pain outcomes over time after stressful events such as motor vehicle collision than individuals from higher socioeconomic status neighborhoods, even after accounting for individual characteristics such as age, sex, income, education, and employment status.

These were the findings of a multi-site research study led by Samuel McLean, MD, MPH, associate professor of anesthesiology and emergency medicine at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine. The results of the study were published online by the journal Pain.

“We all like to believe that we are immune to the circumstances of our environment,” said Dr. McLean. “These results suggest that when it comes to chronic musculoskeletal pain development after traumatic/stressful events, th

The Asahi Shimbun covers Japanese chutzpah:

Whale meat now on the menu at LDP’s headquarters

Ruling party advocates of whaling tucked into whale meat curry at a restaurant inside the party’s headquarters in Tokyo on Sept. 19 to thumb their noses at the International Whaling Commission.

The IWC on Sept. 18 adopted a resolution calling on Japan to postpone its resumption of “research” whaling in the Antarctic Ocean to 2016 or later.

The restaurant added whale curry to the menu at the request of Toshihiro Nikai, who heads the Liberal Democratic Party’s General Council. He is from Wakayama Prefecture, the cradle of Japan’s whaling industry.

From the Guardian, all hat, no cattle:

US will not commit to climate change aid for poor nations at UN summit

  • Rich countries pledged to find $100bn a year by 2020, but so far only Germany has made a significant contribution

Barack Obama will not be pledging any cash to a near-empty fund for poor countries at a United Nations summit on climate change next week, the UN special climate change envoy said on Friday.

The UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, has challenged the 125 world leaders attending the 23 September summit to make “bold pledges” to the fund, intended to help poor countries cope with climate change.

The UN has been pressing rich countries to come up with pledges of between $10bn and $15bn.

Agence France-Presse covers climate action in India:

Climate change rally held in India ahead of UN summit

Program notes:

Some 125 world leaders are expected to commit to action on climate change at a UN summit Tuesday called to inject momentum in struggling efforts to tackle global warming.

From the Los Angeles Times, Golden State aflame:

King fire burns more than 80,000 acres in Northern California

The massive King fire in Northern California has now burned more than 80,000 acres, according to CalFire.

The fire, in the forest east of Sacramento, has forced the evacuation of more than 2,800 people since it ignited last Saturday. It is now 10% contained.

More than 7,600 firefighters continue to battle nine major wildfires in California, most of them in the northern part of the state. But officials consider the King fire the most dangerous after it doubled in size overnight Wednesday to about 114 square miles, becoming California’s second largest wildfire this year in a matter of hours.

From the Guardian, Aussie ruling party arrogance [whale meat, anyone?]:

Green groups accused of trashing Queensland’s reputation overseas

  • State environment minister claims the main aim of conservation groups is to shut down Queensland’s resource industry

Queensland’s environment minister has accused conservation groups of “trashing” the state’s reputation overseas.

Andrew Powell, who is responsible for protecting Queensland’s natural assets, has gone to Paris for talks with Unesco over the status of the Great Barrier Reef.

Unesco has given Australia until February to show that it is properly managing the reef. If it’s not satisfied the reef could be listed as a World Heritage site “in danger”.

On to Fukushimapocalypse Now!, sending the fox to guard the henhouse, via the Mainichi:

New regulator vows to secure independence of nuclear safety body

Satoru Tanaka, who became a commissioner of Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority on Friday, vowed to proceed with safety screenings of nuclear facilities with independence, brushing off criticism he has close ties with nuclear power companies.

Tanaka has come under fire for receiving payments and donations in the past from bodies including one linked to Tokyo Electric Power Co., the operator of the disaster-hit Fukushima Daiichi plant. Critics say the regulator’s fairness and independence could be compromised with his addition to the NRA decision-making panel.

A former chairman of the Atomic Energy Society of Japan, Tanaka said at a press conference he will do his job “on the basis of science and technology” and he will show that stance through “my language and behavior.”

NHK WORLD covers a setback:

Completion of nuclear fuel plant to be delayed

The operator of a spent nuclear fuel reprocessing plant in northeastern Japan is expected to postpone completion of the plant by about 18 months due to the ongoing government screening.

NHK learned that Japan Nuclear Fuel Limited is making final adjustments to a plan to delay completion from October to early 2016.

The plant in Rokkasho, Aomori Prefecture, has been undergoing screening by the Nuclear Regulation Authority since January. Regulators are trying to determine whether the facility meets new requirements for nuclear plants introduced after the 2011 disaster in Fukushima.

But regulators say they have not been able to conduct screening. They say documents submitted by the operator are insufficient.

From the Asahi Shimbun, a vote in opposition:

Tochigi town passes water-protection ordinance to block nuclear waste plans

A town in Tochigi Prefecture has found a novel way to block the construction of a final disposal site for radioactive waste from the 2011 Fukushima nuclear crisis by passing an ordinance that will protect its natural resources.

The ordinance, passed unanimously by the Shioya town assembly on Sept. 19, will protect an area that includes local springs, as well as mountain forest that was designated by the Environment Ministry as a candidate for the final disposal facility.

The ministry plans to use the site to store designated waste which contains more than 8,000 becquerels of radioactivity per kilogram.

From the Los Angeles Times, nuclear woes on this side of the Pacific:

Energy Dept. faces major hurdles to reopen New Mexico nuclear dump

The Energy Department has identified 7,000 steps needed to reopen its badly damaged nuclear waste dump in New Mexico, but cannot say how long it will take or how much it will cost.

The agency was expected to release a written recovery plan Thursday, but instead provided a few details about the plan, which awaits formal approval by the department.

Outside experts say that the dump will probably not reopen until well after the start of 2016 and that the cost of the accident will approach $1 billion.

Although they didn’t talk about the cost, Energy Department officials reiterated at a briefing in Carlsbad, N.M., on Thursday that there was “strong support” in Congress for putting up the unspecified amount of money required to restart the plant. A Senate aide declined a request by the Los Angeles Times earlier this month for details about the cost negotiations.

More from the Carlsbad Current-Argus:

LANL identifies second nuclear waste drum like container that was breached at WIPP

Los Alamos National Laboratory scientists have identified another nuclear waste drum similar to the drum that caused the February’s radiation leak at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant.

Terry Wallace Jr., the LANL WIPP recovery leader and principal associate director for global security, testified that the chemical reaction was likely caused by a discarded glovebox glove on Tuesday in front of the New Mexico Legislature’s Radioactive and Hazardous Materials Committee in Carlsbad.

Because scientists have not been able to re-create the chemical reaction, Wallace said he was unsure about the future of the second drum that currently sits underground in Panel 6 at WIPP.

From the Mainichi, ancient fallout heats up:

‘Missing’ documents reveal 1954 U.S. H-bomb test affected 556 more ships

Recently released government documents reveal that the crews of 556 Japanese ships were tested for radiation exposure in the wake of the United States’ 1954 hydrogen bomb tests around the Bikini Atoll — one of which irradiated the crew of the Daigo Fukuryumaru tuna boat from Shizuoka Prefecture.

The records were released by the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare on Sept. 19 in accordance with the Access to Government Information Act, following a freedom-of-information request by a citizens group in Kochi Prefecture known as the Pacific Ocean Nuclear Disaster Assistance Center and other organizations.

According to representatives from the group and the health ministry, the national and local governments conducted the testing between March and December 1954 on fishing and cargo ship crews from a total of five Japanese ports that had been in waters affected by the U.S. nuclear test in the central Pacific.

And we close on an upbeat Latin note from Agence France-Presse:

New music with recycled instruments at Colombia fest

Program notes:

Jars, bottles, caps and even a pizza box, recovered from the trash, were the elements used by four musical groups at the “RSFEST2014 Sonorities Recycling Festival”, in Colombian city of Cali.

Why we call it Global Corporate U.


That would be the University of California as a system and the Berkeley campus as the nucleus, the same campus featured in a post earlier this week covering a proposed massive tuition hike for the college that teaches one of the poorest paid of the learned vocations.

A screencap of a post from from Romensko, the same journalism site featured in that earlier post:

BLOG Cal

UC Berkeley: Cashing in on the poorest paid


That would be journalists, folks who draw ever-declining wages.

First up, this screen cap from Romenesko:

BLOG Cal

Next, the headline from a reaction piece at Poynter MediaWire:

‘I believe I would major in English’: journalists decry Berkeley’s proposed 10k fee

Why that response? Consider this from Uncle Sam’s Bureau of Labor Statistics:

BLOG Journalism

EnviroWatch: Including a tragic Ebola update


Though we broke out Ebola coverage for today’s earlier EbolaWatch, we have one crucial update — a demonstration once again that racism, tinged with eugenics, lies at the heart of today’s Grand Old Party. [And there’s lot of environmental news, including a series of very serious alarms.]

First, via The Hill, the deplorable:

GOP cuts funding request to fight Ebola

House Republicans indicated Tuesday that they will provide less than half of the White House’s funding request to fight Ebola in the next government spending bill.

According to a source familiar with the negotiations, House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) agreed as of Tuesday morning to spend a total of $40 million to fight the epidemic in the 2015 spending bill.

This would include $25 million for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and $15 million for the Biological Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) to ramp up production of an experimental anti-Ebola drug, the source said.

The White House had asked for $88 million for Ebola in total, including $58 million for BARDA, which is involved in coordinating experimental treatments during public health emergencies.

On to that other outbreak we’ve been coverage, first with JapanToday:

81 dengue fever cases reported in 15 prefectures

The Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare said Tuesday that the number of reported dengue fever cases stood at 81 in 15 prefectures as of Tuesday morning.

The ministry is working with Tokyo metropolitan government health officials to spray insecticide in three parks in Tokyo, where the disease spread by mosquitoes, is believed to have originated, TV Asahi reported.

Since the weekend, parts of Yoyogi, Shinjuku Gyoen and Meijijingu Gaien parks have been closed to the public, resulting in the cancellation of many events.

Jiji Press notes a spread:

1st Dengue Case outside Tokyo Reported

A man in his 60s is believed to have been infected with dengue fever in Chiba, east of Tokyo, the first infection outside the capital since the first domestic case in nearly 70 years was reported last month, the health ministry said Tuesday.

This is the third infection confirmed outside Tokyo’s Yoyogi Park and surrounding areas, where most of the recent infections originated.

It remains unclear whether the man has come into contact with others infected with the virus. The National Institute of Infectious Diseases is now investigating.

And from the Mainichi, same disease, another continent, another notable development:

Brazil looks to introduce genetically modified mosquitoes to tackle dengue fever

While Japan is experiencing a domestic dengue fever outbreak for the first time in decades, the same virus claimed 603 lives in Brazil last year. The Brazilian government is implementing numerous efforts to prevent the mosquito-borne virus from spreading.

Last year, some 1.4 million people were infected with the dengue virus in Brazil. While the country had tried to eliminate dengue virus-carrying mosquitoes by spraying insecticide and informing residents about the disease, pest control could only be done in limited areas, and the effect was temporary.

Recently, the Brazilian government has focused on eliminating puddles of water where mosquitoes lay their eggs. Local governments have advised residents not to leave water in items such as empty cans, old tires and dishes under plant containers while fining home owners when mosquito larva are found on their premises.

From Environment News Service, another epidemic, one we created ourselves:

Poor European Air Quality Linked to Poor Adult Lung Health

Children who suffer poor lung health from breathing polluted air are not alone – so do adults.

In the first study of its kind, published Saturday, researchers from across Europe evaluated the correlation between air pollution and lung function in European adults and found that the harmful effects of breathing polluted air persist into adulthood.

The researchers used indicators of vehicle traffic in the area and modeled the exposure levels to different pollution measures, including nitrogen oxides (NO2 and NOx) and particulate matter (PM).

Their conclusions may seem obvious, but the study’s authors, Nicole Probst-Hensch and Martin Adam from the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute based in Basel, say their findings are “crucial” as they demonstrate that air pollution is having a negative effect, not only on children, as previously demonstrated, but also on adults.

Along the same lines, via the Guardian:

South Africa’s coal-fired power stations carry heavy health costs

In the settlement of Masakhane near the Duvha plant, residents wear masks to avoid breathing in the coal dust

South Africa’s dependence on coal to generate 85% of its electricity is taking a substantial toll on human health, according to environmental groups. A report from Greenpeace (pdf) in February estimates that up to 2,700 premature deaths are caused every year by emissions from the country’s 16 coal-fired power plants.

Greenpeace released the report in the wake of an application by Eskom, South Africa’s public power utility, to postpone compliance with new minimum emissions standards aimed at reducing the damaging health impacts of air pollution.

These new standards are particularly vital for the country’s north-eastern Mpumalanga province where 12 coal-fired power plants are clustered on the western high-altitude side of the Highveld. They pump out sulphur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide and particulate matter (PM) at levels often more than double the maximum recommended by the World Health Organisation (WHO). As a result, levels of air pollution in Mpumalanga’s Highveld are the highest in the country and among the highest in the world, according to news reports.

From BBC News, alarms shriek:

Greenhouse gas levels rising at fastest rate since 1984

A surge in atmospheric CO2 saw levels of greenhouse gases reach record levels in 2013, according to new figures.

Concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere between 2012 and 2013 grew at their fastest rate since 1984.

The World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) says that it highlights the need for a global climate treaty. But the UK’s energy secretary Ed Davey said that any such agreement might not contain legally binding emissions cuts, as has been previously envisaged.

Reuters covers a consequence:

Climate change increases possibility of megadrought in Southwestern U.S.

  • A new study finds an increased possibility of severe and long-term megadrought affecting Southwestern United States

The Southwestern United States could face a decade long drought according to a new study by Cornell, University of Arizona and U.S. Geological Survey researchers.

According to lead author and Cornell assistant professor of earth and atmospheric sciences Toby Ault, climate change is increasing the possibility of a “megadrought” – a drought that could last over thirty years.

The study is based on historical data of previous droughts and uses current changes in precipitation patterns caused by global warming to evaluate the risks of severe droughts in the near future.

MercoPress covers another:

Antarctica sea levels rising faster because of fresh water from melting glaciers, say researchers

  • Sea levels around Antarctica are rising faster than anywhere else in the southern ocean. The global average rise in ocean heights in the last 19 years has been 6cms, but the rise in seas around Antarctica is 2cms higher.

This seemingly counter-intuitive finding is certainly a consequence of melting ice in the Southern Ocean, but the connection with global warming is, for the moment, tenuous. The agency that is behind the rising sea levels is simply an excess of fresh water from melting glaciers – about 350 billion tons of it.

“Fresh water is less dense than salt water, and so in regions where an excess of fresh water has accumulated we expect a localized rise in sea level,” says Craig Rye, an oceanography researcher at of the University of Southampton in the UK, who, with colleagues, has published the findings in Nature Geoscience.

From New Europe, yet another:

Spain sees increased damage by forest fires in 2014

Forest fires in Spain burned a total of 39,410 hectares of land in the first eight months of 2014, the country’s Ministry of Agriculture, Food and the Environment said Monday.

The amount of damage to the nation’s forests has increased by 15 percent, compared to the 34,268 hectares burned down during the same period in 2013, data showed.

2014 has seen a 40.5 percent rise in the number of fires burning an area of over a hectare. This implies that fires have been able to both become established and to spread faster this year than in 2013.

And yet another, via the Guardian:

North America’s key birds facing extinction, study finds

  • 314 species, including the bald eagle and 10 state birds of US at risk from climate change

Half of North America’s bird species, from common backyard visitors like the Baltimore oriole and the rufous hummingbird to wilderness dwellers like the common loon and bald eagle, are under threat from climate change and many could go extinct, an exhaustive new study has found.

Seven years of research found climate change the biggest threat to North America’s bird species.

Some 314 species face dramatic declines in population, if present trends continue, with warming temperatures pushing the birds out of their traditional ranges. Ten states and Washington DC could lose their state birds.

And from RT, more anthropogenic environmental havoc:

Lake Baikal, world’s deepest body of freshwater, turning into swamp – ecologists

The world’s oldest and deepest body of freshwater, Lake Baikal, is turning into a swamp, Russian ecologists warn. They say that tons of liquid waste from tourist camps and water transport vehicles is being dumped into the UNESCO-protected lake.

One of the natural wonders and the pearl of Russia’s Siberia, Lake Baikal has recently been a source of alarming news, due to an increased number of alien water plants which have formed in the lake waterlogging it, ecologists said at a roundtable discussion recently held in the city of Irkutsk.

A recent scientific expedition discovered that 160 tons of liquid waste are produced every season in Baikal’s Chivyrkui Bay, said the head of Baikal Environmental Wave, one of Russia’s first environmental NGOs, according to SIA media outlet.

From BBC News, another tragedy:

Four Peruvian anti-logging activists murdered

Four Peruvian tribal leaders have been killed on their way to a meeting to discuss ways to stop illegal logging.

The men from the Ashaninka community were attempting to travel to Brazil when they were murdered. Campaigners say the men had received several death threats from illegal loggers, who are suspected of being behind the killings.

Correspondents say indigenous people have felt under increasing threat from deforestation in recent years.

An optimistic note from Business Insider:

The End Of Fracking Is Closer Than You Think

Canadian geologist David Hughes has some sober news for the Kool-Aid-drinking boosters of the United States’ newfound eminence in fossil fuel production: it’s going to go bust sooner rather than later.

Working with the Post Carbon Institute, a sustainability think-tank, Hughes meticulously analyzed industry data from 65,000 US shale oil and natural gas wells that use the much-ballyhooed extraction method of hydraulic fracturing, colloquially known as fracking. The process involves drilling horizontally as well as vertically, and then pumping a toxic cocktail of pressurized water, sand, and chemicals deep underground in order to break apart the rock formations that hold deposits of oil and gas.

Hughes found that the production rates at these wells decline, on average, 85 percent over three years. “Typically, in the first year there may be a 70 percent decline,” Hughes told VICE News. “Second year, maybe 40 percent; third year, 30 percent. So the decline rate is a hyperbolic curve. But nonetheless, by the time you get to three years, you’re talking 80 or 85 percent decline for most of these wells.”

But if you really want some to worry about, consider this from RT America:

Yellowstone supervolcano eruption to be a countrywide disaster

Program notes:

Although the odds are low for a major eruption happening anytime soon, a new study is once again raising fears over the Yellowstone supervolcano. A paper in the “Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems” journal lays out the suffering the US would undergo in a worst-case scenario disaster, predicting most major cities in the US being covered in layers of potentially deadly volcanic ash. RT’s Lindsay France takes a look at the study and breaks down its findings.

And for our final item, today’s lone Fukushimapocalypse Now! event, via the Guardian:

Fukushima fallout continues: now cleanup workers claim unpaid wages

  • Last month Tokyo Electric Power was ordered to pay $500,000 compensation, now workers sue for promised danger money

The legal net has started to tighten around the operator of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, as victims of the accident, and those responsible for clearing it up, take their grievances to the courts.

Last week, Tokyo Electric Power (Tepco) said it would not contend a court ruling ordering it to pay almost $500,000 in compensation to the family of a woman who killed herself two months after being forced to flee her home near the plant.

That claim, which could pave the way for similar suits, has been followed by a unprecedented attempt by four Fukushima Daiichi workers to sue the utility for unpaid wages.

Quote of the day: Ebola and malign neglect


From Pulitzer-winning public health journalist Laurie Garrett, writing in Foreign Policy:

[T]he world largely ignored the unfolding epidemic, even as the sole major international responder, Doctors Without Borders (also known by its French acronym, MSF), pleaded for help and warned repeatedly that the virus was spreading out of control. The WHO was all but AWOL, its miniscule epidemic-response department slashed to smithereens by three years of budget cuts, monitoring the epidemic’s relentless growth but taking little real action.

The neglectful status of the WHO was, horribly, by design. Its governing body, the World Health Assembly (WHA), in which nearly every nation on Earth is a voting member, has declined to increase country WHO dues for more than a quarter-century. Worse, following the 2008 financial crisis, most of the extrabudgetary special support that the WHO relied upon — funds from rich countries that more than doubled the agency’s financing — disappeared as once-wealthy governments turned away from philanthropy while saving their fiscal skins. The WHO saw its revenues fall by more than $1 billion, and inflation-adjusted dues from member countries plummeted to pre-1990 levels. As Europe’s financial crisis worsened in 2010, speculators sold their euros in favor of Swiss francs, driving the value of that currency up 32 percent. Since the WHO receives its revenues in U.S. dollars, but makes its Swiss payroll and other payments in francs, the agency was forced to lay off 20 percent of its staff. And in 2011, the WHA began pressuring the Geneva-based WHO to decrease its infectious diseases work in favor of a radical increase in attention to noncommunicable ailments such as cancer and heart disease. The coup de grâce came with the 2012 WHA meeting, in which the nations of the world voted to chop the WHO’s crisis and epidemic funding by 50 percent, bottoming out this year at a mere $114 million.

Read the rest.

InSecurityWatch: War, spies, Apple hacks, zones


First, from the Dept. Of Haven’t We Seen this Headline Before, via Reuters:

Obama says key allies ready to join U.S. action in Iraq

Next, guess who might be one of those allies? Via BBC News:

Iran ‘backs US military contacts’ to fight Islamic State

Iran’s Supreme Leader has approved co-operation with the US as part of the fight against Islamic State (IS) in Iraq, sources have told BBC Persian.

Ayatollah Khamenei has authorised his top commander to co-ordinate military operations with the US, Iraqi and Kurdish forces, sources in Tehran say. Iran has traditionally opposed US involvement in Iraq, an Iranian ally.

However, Iran’s foreign ministry officially denied it would co-operate with the US against IS.

From the London Daily Mail, and, uh, gee, so why was Osama so hard to find, then?:

‘Isis are using Snowden leaks to evade US intelligence’: Former NSA boss warns terror group are exploiting massive breach of security

  • Chris Inglis, NSA deputy chief during leaks, says IS ‘clearly’ harder to find
  • Says they altered tactics, allowing them to operate away from gaze of U.S.
  • He says Snowden spill went ‘way beyond disclosing privacy concerns’
  • Leaks also cover NSA’s top-secret ‘means and methods’ of hunting enemies

Islamic State extremists have studied and exploited the leaks made by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden to operate under the radar of U.S. intelligence, a former agency chief has claimed.

Chris Inglis said militants in Iraq and Syria are ‘clearly’ harder to track down since the rogue agent made freely available a wealth of top-secret information about how the U.S. government hunts its enemies online.

And from The Intercept, some of what he was up to:

The U.S. Government’s Secret Plans to Spy for American Corporations

Throughout the last year, the U.S. government has repeatedly insisted that it does not engage in economic and industrial espionage, in an effort to distinguish its own spying from China’s infiltrations of Google, Nortel, and other corporate targets. So critical is this denial to the U.S. government that last August, an NSA spokesperson emailed The Washington Post to say (emphasis in original): “The department does ***not*** engage in economic espionage in any domain, including cyber.”

After that categorical statement to the Post, the NSA was caught spying on plainly financial targets such as the Brazilian oil giant Petrobras; economic summits; international credit card and banking systems; the EU antitrust commissioner investigating Google, Microsoft, and Intel; and the International Monetary Fund and World Bank. In response, the U.S. modified its denial to acknowledge that it does engage in economic spying, but unlike China, the spying is never done to benefit American corporations.

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, for instance, responded to the Petrobras revelations by claiming: “It is not a secret that the Intelligence Community collects information about economic and financial matters…. What we do not do, as we have said many times, is use our foreign intelligence capabilities to steal the trade secrets of foreign companies on behalf of—or give intelligence we collect to—U.S. companies to enhance their international competitiveness or increase their bottom line.”

But a secret 2009 report issued by Clapper’s own office explicitly contemplates doing exactly that. The document, the 2009 Quadrennial Intelligence Community Review—provided by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden—is a fascinating window into the mindset of America’s spies as they identify future threats to the U.S. and lay out the actions the U.S. intelligence community should take in response. It anticipates a series of potential scenarios the U.S. may face in 2025, from a “China/Russia/India/Iran centered bloc [that] challenges U.S. supremacy” to a world in which “identity-based groups supplant nation-states,” and games out how the U.S. intelligence community should operate in those alternative futures—the idea being to assess “the most challenging issues [the U.S.] could face beyond the standard planning cycle.”

From The Week, and along the same lines:

This is why you can’t trust the NSA. Ever.

New documents show the agency missing a massive number of violations. And that’s before it set up a new program with virtually no oversight.

The notion that the National Security Agency could police its own internet dragnet program with minimal oversight from a secret court has long drawn scoffs from observers. Now it appears that skepticism was completely justified, following the release of a bunch of documents on the program earlier this month by the office of Director of National Intelligence James Clapper (ODNI), which came in response to a Freedom of Information Act request filed by the Electronic Privacy Information Center.

Exhibit A is a comprehensive end-to-end report that the NSA conducted in late summer or early fall of 2009, which focused on the work the agency did in metadata collection and analysis to try and identify people emailing terrorist suspects.

The report described a number of violations that the NSA had cleaned up since the beginning of that year — including using automatic alerts that had not been authorized and giving the FBI and CIA direct access to a database of query results. It concluded the internet dragnet was in pretty good shape. “NSA has taken significant steps designed to eliminate the possibility of any future compliance issues,” the last line of the report read, “and to ensure that mechanisms are in place to detect and respond quickly if any were to occur.”

Motherboard debunks ornamental “reform”:

CISPA’s Clone Will Undermine NSA Reform, Civil Liberties Groups Warn

When Congress comes back from its five week vacation, the Senate will have to decide what to do with the NSA-reforming USA FREEDOM Act and the CISPA clone called CISA. In many ways, the two bills are directly opposing forces.

Passing USA FREEDOM would be a huge step forward in curbing NSA abuses; passing CISA would immediately undo all that progress, according to several dozen civil liberties groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union, Electronic Frontier Foundation, Free Press Action Fund, Center for Democracy and Technology, and TechFreedom.

“The Senate cannot seriously consider controversial information-sharing legislation such as CISA without first completing the pressing unfinished business of passing meaningful surveillance reform,” the groups wrote in a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Minority Reader Mitch McConnell, and senators on the Intelligence, Judiciary, and Homeland Security committees.

From the Guardian, domestic insecurity:

Arab-American activists chased and threatened with beheading in Brooklyn

  • Police allegedly took more than 45 minutes to respond
  • Man charged after NYPD deploys hate crime investigators

A drunken man chased two female Arab-American community organisers in Brooklyn, New York, threatening to behead them and throwing a large metal garbage can at them.

Despite two separate 911 calls, the New York police department took more than 45 minutes to respond. The department sent top hate crime investigators after one of the women, a prominent activist, told her story at an NYPD community relations meeting that happened soon after the incident on Wednesday.

Linda Sarsour, executive director of the Arab American Association of New York, said she initially found the man leaning against the wall near her social services agency.

More of the same from Salon:

“I wish someone would pull a Ferguson on them”: Louisiana cop resigns for racist texts

  • 15-year veteran Michael Elsbury wrote, “I enjoy arresting those thugs with their saggy pants”

Glenn Beck was right–the events in Ferguson really have brought out the best in people. Let’s take, for example, a police officer from Baton Rouge who resigned on Thursday after a local news channel reported that he had sent a series of violently racist text messages, including one in which he said he wished his fellow officers would “pull a Ferguson” on a “bunch of monkeys.”

The police officer in question is 15-year veteran of the force Michael Elsbury who resigned after the texts were shown to his superiors. In another text, he wrote, “I wish someone would pull a Ferguson on them and take them out. I hate looking at those African monkeys at work… I enjoy arresting those thugs with their saggy pants.”

From the Department of Don’t They Hate ISIS Because They Force People to Swear Allegiance to their Religion?, via Al Jazeera America:

Air Force spurns atheist airman for refusing religious oath, group says

  • Serviceman at Creech Air Force Base in Nevada alleges he was denied reenlistment for refusing to say ‘so help me God’

An airman stationed at Creech Air Force Base in Indian Springs, Nevada, was prohibited from reenlisting in the U.S. military last month for omitting the words “so help me God” from a service oath he was required to recite, and for refusing to sign the oath containing the same words on his enlistment form, according to the American Humanist Association (AHA).

In a letter of complaint sent to the Air Force’s inspector general on Tuesday, Appignani Humanist Legal Center, the AHA’s legal wing, said the soldier – who is an atheist – “was told that his options were to say ‘so help me God’ or to leave the Air Force.’”

The AHA, which describes itself as “advocating values and equality for humanists, atheists, and freethinkers,” characterized the ultimatum as a civil-rights violation and demanded the Air Force correct the matter.

And from Britain’s Western Daily Press, a real security threat to the working class:

Robots help deliver meals for patients at Bristol’s new £430million super Southmead Hospital

This is the incredible fleet of robots helping to provide food for almost 1,000 patients at a new £430 million super hospital.

Southmead Hospital in Bristol has deployed a fleet of 12 automatic guided vehicles to deliver meals to its 950 patients.

The droids, which start work at 10.15 every morning, are capable of opening doors, operating lifts and picking up food without any human assistance. They transfer chilled dishes to kitchens scattered around the hospital, where they are heated and then served to patients.

Another security threat to millions of Americans where secrecy is the name of the game, via Bloomberg News:

Secret Network Connects Harvard Money to Payday Loans

Alex Slusky was under pressure to put the money in his private-equity fund to work.

The San Francisco technology financier had raised $1.2 billion in 2007 to buy and turn around struggling software companies. By 2012, investors including Harvard University were upset that about half the money hadn’t been used, according to three people with direct knowledge of the situation.

Three Americans on the Caribbean island of St. Croix presented a solution. They had built a network of payday-lending websites, using corporations set up in Belize and the Virgin Islands that obscured their involvement and circumvented U.S. usury laws, according to four former employees of their company, Cane Bay Partners VI LLLP. The sites Cane Bay runs make millions of dollars a month in small loans to desperate people, charging more than 600 percent interest a year, said the ex-employees, who asked not to be identified for fear of retaliation.

From The Verge:

Competition heats up to sell drones to the average consumer

After jump, Canadian arctic drone tests, militia identity theft, the IRS memory hole expands, iCloud blames celebrities for hacks, hackers crack OSX, retail invites hacks, Chinese hackers loot the country’s rich and a lawsuit embarrasses, Google Glass-detector coming soon, an Indo/Aussie uranium deal, Australia goes postal, Indo/Pakistani tensions, Japan pushes for the Trans-Pacific Partnership and takes control over media content, and that sex slave issue just won’t go away. . . Continue reading