The Sh!t that should be on your local news, but isn't

The Sh!t that should be on your local news, but isn't


USA: Deploying Drones Near China

Posted: 10 Aug 2012 04:30 PM PDT

Antiwar - The Pentagon will begin flying surveillance drones off the coastlines of Japan, China and Taiwan, an agreement reached after talks between Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Japanese Defense Minister Satoshi Morimoto at the Pentagon on Sunday.

The unmanned aerial missions will focus on a Pacific island chain called the Diaoyutai Islands, which have become the focal point of a simmering territorial dispute between China and Japan. Even Sen. John McCain, one of the biggest hawks in Congress, called the deployment "unnecessarily provocative."

In keeping with the Obama administration's antagonistic military postures towards China, the US has backed various neighboring countries from Japan to the Philippines. And it's no surprise drones have taken a larger role in what the Pentagon plans to make a new military theater of Air-Sea Battle.


New war strategies called "Air-Sea Battle" reveal Washington's broader goals in the region and illustrate how a war with China – which the US apparently yearns for – would play out. "Stealthy American bombers and submarines would knock out China's long-range surveillance radar and precision missile systems located deep inside the country," reports theWashington Post.  "The initial 'blinding campaign' would be followed by a larger air and naval assault." 

The Obama administration has been ramping up the pressure on China with an increasingly antagonistic foreign policy. The so-called 'Asia pivot' is an aggressive policy that involves surging American military presence throughout the region – in the Philippines, Japan, Australia, Guam, South Korea, Singapore, etc. – in an unprovoked scheme to contain rising Chinese economic and military influence.
Chinese officials have not appreciated this unprovoked bellicosity. In May the Chinese Defense Ministry accused the Pentagon of hyping a Chinese military threat out of thin air. Others have said these Pentagon moves could start an arms race.

"If the U.S. military develops Air-Sea Battle to deal with the [People's Liberation Army], the PLA will be forced to develop anti-Air-Sea Battle," one officer, Col. Gaoyue Fan, said last year in a debate sponsored by the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a defense think tank.

recent report from the Center for Strategic International Studies predicted that next year "could see a shift in Chinese foreign policy based on the new leadership's judgment that it must respond to a US strategy that seeks to prevent China's reemergence as a great power."

"Signs of a potential harsh reaction are already detectable," the report said. "The US Asia pivot has triggered an outpouring of anti-American sentiment in China that will increase pressure on China's incoming leadership to stand up to the United States. Nationalistic voices are calling for military countermeasures to the bolstering of America's military posture in the region and the new US defense strategic guidelines."

Is There Fluoride In Your Food?

Posted: 10 Aug 2012 04:25 PM PDT

(NaturalNews) Most of the talk concerning fluoride exposure these days centers around the chemical's forced presence in many public water supplies, and how this is causing an epidemic of chronic health problems. But little do many people realize that fluoride exposure is also problematic throughout the food supply, including in fresh food crops that have been sprayed with pesticides and herbicides made from fluoride compounds.

Grape growers in particular have long used a chemical known as cryolite, which also goes by the trade name Kryocide, to deter leaf-eating and other types of pests. This fluoride-based chemical is used on all sorts of food crops, in fact, including on many different fruits and vegetables consumed by millions of people. And because insects have yet to build up a resistance to cryolite, despite its having been in use for at least 50 years, the chemical has become a staple pesticide for many growers.


Cryolite is very easily absorbed by the crops to which it is applied, which means that people who eat grapes, or who drink wine made from grapes that have been sprayed with cryolite, are inadvertently consuming untold amounts of toxic fluoride. It turns out that cryolite contains aluminofluoride ions that shed fluoride ions, which then pass through the blood-brain barrier and contaminate brain tissue.

Since fluoride chemicals are persistent and do not biodegrade, they often build up in soils where plants uptake them into their roots, stems, leaves, and even their fruit. This has clearly been observed in grapes, for instance, which often contain levels of fluoride far higher than the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) maximum contaminant level (MCL) for fluoride of four parts per million (ppm).

Many domestic wines, in fact, have levels of fluoride so high that they cannot be exported to Europe and other places where MCL thresholds for fluoride are lower than they are in the U.S. Elf Atochem North America, Inc., the chemical company responsible for producing Kryocide, actually put out an advisory for domestic grape growers a while back warning them not to use as much cryolite on grape crops intended for export, as the crop would not meet proper safety standards. (http://www.fluoridealert.org/kryocide.htm)

And yet the company encouraged these same growers to continue using high amounts of cryolite on grapes intended for domestic consumption, as U.S. standards are far more lenient. As a result, many domestic wines contain inordinate amounts of fluoride, some as high as six ppm or more, which greatly exceeds the EPA's MCL for fluoride -- and this is on top of fluoride exposure from other food sources, as well as routine exposure through the water supply. (http://www.organicconsumers.org/Toxic/flouride.cfm)

National organic standards permit use of fluoride on organic crops

Sadly, conventional crops are not the only ones subjected to fluoride chemicals. Even though many of the more than 150 fluoridated pesticides on the market today are prohibited for use on crops grown according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) established organic standards, the agency still allows the use of fluoride chemicals on organic crops.

According to research compiled by Dr. Paul Connett, Ph.D., a professor of chemistry at St. Lawrence University in New York, the USDA, when crafting its final guidance on National Organic Standards (NOS), ignored public concern about allowing the use of fluoride on organic crops. Despite all the evidence showing fluoride's dangers, and the fact that it is a synthetic chemical that has no place in organic agriculture, the USDA sided with the EPA in declaring that sodium fluoride is inert, or inactive.

"To call sodium fluoride an 'inert' is Orwellian and defies one of the NOS's stated principles: producers shall not use 'natural poisons such as arsenic or lead salts that have long-term effects and persist in the environment,'" wrote Dr. Connett and his wife Ellen in a published paper on the use of fluoride chemicals in agriculture.

"Sadly, the use of fluoride in organic farming could undermine the public's confidence and safety in organic food -- both here and abroad. This will become more obvious as the movement against fluoridation of public water picks up momentum worldwide. As it does, more and more people will be asking questions about fluoride levels in their food. Unlike the List of Inerts, fluoride levels in organic food cannot be hidden."

Avoiding California wines, grapes may limit your fluoride exposure

Because cryolite is primarily used just in California, sourcing wine and grapes from other states, or from outside the country, may help to limit your exposure to toxic fluorides. The Seattle Times, in a 2007 "Q&A" piece about wine explains how grapes grown in both Washington and Oregon, for instance, are not sprayed with cryolite, which means they will naturally contain lower levels of fluoride. (http://seattletimes.nwsource.com)

Similarly, wines made in other countries such as France, Germany, Italy, and Spain will also have lower levels of fluoride overall as the grapes used to make them are not treated with cryolite. And even though national organic standards technically allow the use of certain fluoride chemicals on organic crops, it does not appear that cryolite is one of them, as many fluoride-sensitive individuals have not had a problem drinking organic wines or eating organic grapes.

The worst grapes for fluoride, it turns out, appear to be conventional varieties grown in California. Non-organic wines from California tend to test the highest for fluoride content, and various anecdotal reports indicate that they are the most likely to elicit negative side effects among those with strong sensitivities to fluoride. (http://www.celluliteinvestigation.com/2011/11/fluoride-wine.html)

Your best bet is to stick with organic grapes and wines sourced from outside California, whenever possible, or to personally contact individual wineries and grape growers to inquire about whether or not they use cryolite, bone meal, and other high-fluoride treatments on their grapes. You can also inquire as to whether or not they regularly test for fluoride levels in their wines or grapes.

Sources for this article include:

http://www.fluoridealert.org/kryocide.htm

http://www.organicconsumers.org/Toxic/flouride.cfm

Blackwater Acted Under Orders Of US Governement

Posted: 10 Aug 2012 01:00 PM PDT

RT News - The US Department of Justice is letting a military contractor away with a fine despite it being charged with grave crimes. Scott Horton, contributing editor to Harper's Magazine, tells RT the US government has reasons to fear the firm going on trial.
­Academi, the group formerly known as Blackwater, must now fork out US$7.5 million to avoid criminal prosecution – an amount which is unlikely to do it any harm.


RT: What do you make of this deal?

Scott Horton: The amount that's being paid is a real pittance. As these things go generally, this is an absolutely tiny sum. On the other hand, Blackwater is not completely out of the woods yet. What they got here is a deferred prosecution agreement – that is, they have time to persuade the Justice Department not to prosecute. The Justice Department gets an extension in the statute of limitations period to continue its investigation. But that being said, these sorts of agreements aren't entered into, unless the government thinks dismissal – that is non-prosecution – is a probable outcome. So obviously, Blackwater has got to be delighted with this.

RT: But there are some serious allegations we are talking about. Surely, they should be facing criminal prosecution at this stage, rather than just getting off with a fine.

SH: I think that's right. I think one thing that comes out of this is that we get a really deep view into the way Blackwater was conducting business around the world, and its provision of arms and sophisticated communications equipment to other governments and not-quite-governments. One thing that comes out of these papers is that a lot of this is being done in a very, very close relationship with the United States – remember, Blackwater is a principal contractor for the Department of State. It appears that in many of these dealings the Department of State in opening the door for Blackwater and helping Blackwater sell its services to other governments. This has to do with one of those governments where Blackwater didn't get approvals.

RT: So a trial would give away too many secrets US authorities don't want be known about?

SH: I think that's right. In fact, I think that was threatened by [the company's founder] Erik Prince at one point that, if there were a prosecution, things would come out that would be damaging to the US government. And I think we see from the settlement agreement, the papers behind it – there seems to be a lot of substance for that, because a lot of what Blackwater [Academi] is doing is under the auspices of the US government.

RT: The firm has a little over a year to convince the government its criminal activities are in the past, but with such a checkered history, can this contractor be trusted?

SH: I certainly don't think that. They've changed their name two times and they've changed some of the personnel in senior echelons, but the reputation does not seem to be materially changed. They are still more or less the cowboys of the industry operating on the edge. Although I think it's probably true that they have put in controls with respect to export licenses and tracking the movement of firearms, and things like that – they've probably done some routine regulatory things. But I'd suspect they are involved in an awful lot of business that they don't want to see come out, and that the US government probably also doesn't want to see the light of day.

RT: How have these military contractors affected the perception of the US around the world?

SH: It's been devastating. I think we can look at specific cases. Certainly in Iraq. Blackwater was kicked out of Iraq, and they were kicked out after the Nisoor Square incident, in which 19 Iraqis were murdered by Blackwater agents for no good reason. Blackwater said they came under fire – that was just untrue. There was a backfire in an automobile, and that turned into a massacre by Blackwater employees. Yet no one has been held to account by that. We have comparable incidents in many, many other countries.
So they are basically soldiers of fortune, out there for hire. And their operating principle seems to be "shoot first, ask questions later."

Stratfpr Emails Reveal Secret Widespread Surveillance System

Posted: 10 Aug 2012 12:56 PM PDT

RT News - Former senior intelligence officials have created a detailed surveillance system more accurate than modern facial recognition technology — and have installed it across the US 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. The employee roster at Arbaxas reads like a who's who of agents once with the Pentagon, CIA and other government entities according to their public LinkedIn profiles, and the corporation's ties are assumed to go deeper than even documented.


The details on Abraxas and, to an even greater extent TrapWire, are scarce, however, and not without reason. For a program touted as a tool to thwart terrorism and monitor activity meant to be under wraps, its understandable that Abraxas would want the program's public presence to be relatively limited. But thanks to last year's hack of the Strategic Forecasting intelligence agency, or Stratfor, all of that is quickly changing.
Hacktivists aligned with the loose-knit Anonymous collective took credit for hacking Stratfor on Christmas Eve, 2011, in turn collecting what they claimed to be more than five million emails from within the company. WikiLeaks began releasing those emails as the Global Intelligence Files (GIF) earlier this year and, of those, several discussing the implementing of TrapWire in public spaces across the country were circulated on the Web this week after security researcher Justin Ferguson brought attention to the matter. At the same time, however, WikiLeaks was relentlessly assaulted by a barrage of distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks, crippling the whistleblower site and its mirrors, significantly cutting short the number of people who would otherwise have unfettered access to the emails.

On Wednesday, an administrator for the WikiLeaks Twitter account wrote that the site suspected that the motivation for the attacks could be that particularly sensitive Stratfor emails were about to be exposed. A hacker group called AntiLeaks soon after took credit for the assaults on WikiLeaks and mirrors of their content, equating the offensive as a protest against editor Julian Assange, "the head of a new breed of terrorist." As those Stratfor files on TrapWire make their rounds online, though, talk of terrorism is only just beginning.

Mr. Ferguson and others have mirrored what are believed to be most recently-released Global Intelligence Files on external sites, but the original documents uploaded to WikiLeaks have been at times unavailable this week due to the continuing DDoS attacks. Late Thursday and early Friday this week, the GIF mirrors continues to go offline due to what is presumably more DDoS assaults. Australian activist Asher Wolf wrote on Twitter that the DDoS attacks flooding the servers of WikiLeaks supporter sites were reported to be dropping upwards of 40 gigabytes of traffic per second. On Friday, WikiLeaks tweeted that their own site was sustaining attacks of 10 GB/second, adding, "Whoever is running it controls thousands of machines or is able to simulate them."

According to a press release (pdf) dated June 6, 2012, TrapWire is "designed to provide a simple yet powerful means of collecting and recording suspicious activity reports." A system of interconnected nodes spot anything considered suspect and then input it into the system to be "analyzed and compared with data entered from other areas within a network for the purpose of identifying patterns of behavior that are indicative of pre-attack planning."

In a 2009 email included in the Anonymous leak, Stratfor Vice President for Intelligence Fred Burton is alleged to write, "TrapWire is a technology solution predicated upon behavior patterns in red zones to identify surveillance. It helps you connect the dots over time and distance." Burton formerly served with the US Diplomatic Security Service, and Abraxas' staff includes other security experts with experience in and out of the Armed Forces.

What is believed to be a partnering agreement included in the Stratfor files from August 13, 2009 indicates that they signed a contract with Abraxas to provide them with analysis and reports of their TrapWire system (pdf).
"Suspicious activity reports from all facilities on the TrapWire network are aggregated in a central database and run through a rules engine that searches for patterns indicative of terrorist surveillance operations and other attack preparations," Crime and Justice International magazine explains in a 2006 article on the program, one of the few publically circulated on the Abraxas product (pdf). "Any patterns detected – links among individuals, vehicles or activities – will be reported back to each affected facility. This information can also be shared with law enforcement organizations, enabling them to begin investigations into the suspected surveillance cell."

In a 2005 interview with The Entrepreneur Center, Abraxas founder Richard "Hollis" Helms said his signature product "can collect information about people and vehicles that is more accurate than facial recognition, draw patterns, and do threat assessments of areas that may be under observation from terrorists." He calls it "a proprietary technology designed to protect critical national infrastructure from a terrorist attack by detecting the pre-attack activities of the terrorist and enabling law enforcement to investigate and engage the terrorist long before an attack is executed," and that, "The beauty of it is that we can protect an infinite number of facilities just as efficiently as we can one and we push information out to local law authorities automatically."

An internal email from early 2011 included in the Global Intelligence Files has Stratfor's Burton allegedly saying the program can be used to "[walk] back and track the suspects from the get go w/facial recognition software."

Since its inception, TrapWire has been implemented in most major American cities at selected high value targets (HVTs) and has appeared abroad as well. The iWatch monitoring system adopted by the Los Angeles Police Department (pdf) works in conjunction with TrapWire, as does the District of Columbia and the "See Something, Say Something" program conducted by law enforcement in New York City, which had 500 surveillance cameras linked to the system in 2010. Private properties including Las Vegas, Nevada casinos have subscribed to the system. The State of Texas reportedly spent half a million dollars with an additional annual licensing fee of $150,000 to employ TrapWire, and the Pentagon and other military facilities have allegedly signed on as well.

In one email from 2010 leaked by Anonymous, Stratfor's Fred Burton allegedly writes, "God Bless America. Now they have EVERY major HVT in CONUS, the UK, Canada, Vegas, Los Angeles, NYC as clients." Files on USASpending.gov reveal that the US Department of Homeland Security and Department of Defense together awarded Abraxas and TrapWire more than one million dollars in only the past eleven months.

News of the widespread and largely secretive installation of TrapWire comes amidst a federal witch-hunt to crack down on leaks escaping Washington and at attempt to prosecute whistleblowers. Thomas Drake, a former agent with the NSA, has recently spoken openly about the government's Trailblazer Project that was used to monitor private communication, and was charged under the Espionage Act for coming forth. Separately, former NSA tech director William Binney and others once with the agency have made claims in recent weeks that the feds have dossiers on every American, an allegation NSA Chief Keith Alexander dismissed during a speech at Def-Con last month in Vegas.

Whitehouse Refuses To Abide To Ban Of Indefinite Defention Of Americans

Posted: 10 Aug 2012 12:52 PM PDT

RT News - Not only is the White House fighting in court for the power to jail Americans indefinitely without trial, but the Obama administration is refusing to tell a federal judge if they've abided by an injunction that prohibits them from such.

Attorneys for the White House have been in-and-out of court in Manhattan this week to argue that the indefinite detention provisions of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2012, or NDAA, are necessary for the safety and security of the nation. When President Barack Obama signed the bill on December 31, he granted the government the power to put any American away in jail over even suspected terrorist ties, but federal court Judge Katherine Forrest ruled in May that this particular part of the NDAA, Section 1021, failed to "pass constitutional muster" and ordered a temporary injunction.


On Monday, White House attorneys asked for an appeal for that injunction so that they'd be once more legally permitted to indefinitely detain anyone over mere accusations. When specifically asked to answer whether or not they've adhered by Judge Forrest's injunction so far, though, administration attorneys refused to cooperate with the questioning.

Activist and reporter Tangerine Bolen is a plaintiff in the case against the NDAA, and in an op-ed published Thursday in the Daily Cloudt, she writes that the federal attorneys asking for an appeal have declined to reveal whether or not they've cooperated with the judge's May 2012 injunction. If the government has arrested anyone over alleged "belligerent ties" since Judge Forrest ordered a temporary stay, the government could be in contempt of court.

"Obama's attorneys refused to assure the court, when questioned, that the NDAA's section 1021 – the provision that permits reporters and others who have not committed crimes to be detained without trial – has not been applied by the US government anywhere in the world after Judge Forrest's injunction," Tangerine tells Daily Cloudt. "In other words, they were telling a US federal judge that they could not, or would not, state whether Obama's government had complied with the legal injunction that she had laid down before them."

In its original form, the NDAA allows the military hold anyone accused of having "substantially supported" al-Qaeda, the Taliban or "associated forces" until "the end of hostilities" and indefinitely imprison anyone who commits a "belligerent act" against the United States, yet fails to explicitly define what is constituted as such. In her injunction, Judge Forrest said, "In the face of what could be indeterminate military detention, due process requires more."

"An individual could run the risk of substantially supporting or directly supporting an associated force without even being aware that he or she was doing so," the judge ruled.
Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Chris Hedges is also a plaintiff in the case and along with Tangerine warns that his own investigative work could be construed by the government to put him away in prison for life.
"I have had dinner more times than I can count with people whom this country brands as terrorists," Hedges wrote earlier this year, "but that does not make me one."

Carl Mayer, an attorney representing the plaintiffs in the case, told RT that he expected the White House to appeal the judge's injunction, but that he considered it a lost cause.
"[W]e are suggesting that it may not be in their best interest because there are so many people from all sides of the political spectrum opposed to this law that they ought to just say, 'We're not going to appeal,'" Mayer said.

Mayer stated that, because of the injunction, "The NDAA cannot be used to pick up Americans in a proverbial black van or in any other way that the administration might decide to try to get people into the military justice system. It means that the government is foreclosed now from engaging in this type of action against the civil liberties of Americans." Now, however, the White House wants the power to be once more restored.

Outside of federal court on Thursday, Hedges appeared pleased, Courthouse News reports.
"It didn't appear to me by the end that [the government] had any argument to stand on," Hedges said. "The judge eviscerated them."

Even with the injunction still standing, though, the government has yet to admit if it's adhering to Judge Forrest's ruling.