Navy cuts F-35 order nearly in half

Navy cuts F 35 order nearly in half Navy cuts F 35 order nearly in half

As the United States prepares plans to downsize its military, the Navy is set to order fewer Lockheed Martin Corp F-35 fighter jets than previously expected over the next five years.
Continue reading «Navy cuts F-35 order nearly in half»

Citing an unnamed defense official, Reuters reported that beginning in the 2015 fiscal year, the Navy will request the purchase of 36 F-35C fighter jets, which are designed to land on aircraft carriers. That’s nearly half as many as the 69 originally projected.

The Air Force, meanwhile, is postponing its own request for four F-35A jets for one year. Beginning in 2016, however, it remains on track to move forward with its purchases as planned, an arrangement that will see the Air Force purchase about 238 jets total.

The Marine Corps stands out as the sole player committed to its original plan, still expected to request 69 F-35B jets over five years. These are scheduled to be combat ready and in use by mid-2015.

According to Pentagon Comptroller Robert Hale, the move to purchase fewer jets does not indicate that the military is underwhelmed with the jet’s performance capability, but rather it was based primarily on budgetary considerations. Defense officials told Reuters that the plan is still to purchase a total of 2,443 F-35s over the next few years.

As RT has reported in the past, however, the F-35 project has suffered from some significant obstacles, notably price. The fleet of 2,443 fighter jets is expected to cost $392 billion, a 68 percent increase over original projections from back in 2001. According to the Washington Post, this has led the military to cut back on the number of planes it first expected to purchase by more than 400. Additionally, the Post noted statements by the Pentagon’s chief tester, who in January said the jet “wasn’t sufficiently reliable in training flights last year.”

Other performance and manufacturing setbacks have also hobbled the program as it unfolded. Last year, a Pentagon report found issues with the jet’s internal software, while leaked budget review documents suggested some within the government would consider cancelling the project.

Still, the military has continued to reiterate its confidence in the program’s ultimate success.

“The basic design of the F-35 is sound, and test results underscore our confidence in the ultimate performance that the United States and its international partners and allies value so highly,” Air Force Lieutenant General Chris Bogdan, who heads the F-35 project, said last year. “Of course, we recognize risks still exist in the program, but they are understood and manageable.”

The decision to purchase fewer jets also comes amid reports that Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is planning an overhaul of the US armed forces in order to fulfill President Obama’s goals of scaling back overseas military operations while remaining capable of waging war when necessary. Under Hagel’s proposal, US troop levels would fall somewhere between 440,000 and 450,000, the lowest level scene since World War II.

According to Reuters, the sequester could also come back to affect the F-35 project. Just last week, Hagel said that if Congress does not revoke or somehow deal with the automatic cuts scheduled for the 2016 fiscal year even fewer jets may be bought.

Source: RT

7 OBAMACARE NUMBERS THAT HAVE DEMOCRATS PANICKING

7 OBAMACARE NUMBERS THAT HAVE DEMOCRATS PANICKING 7 OBAMACARE NUMBERS THAT HAVE DEMOCRATS PANICKINGAs the seemingly endless deluge of negative Obamacare developments continue to mount up, the National Journal’s “Hotline” reported on Thursday that “disapproval of the health care law” has “put Democrats on the defensive” heading into the November midterm elections.

Continue reading «7 OBAMACARE NUMBERS THAT HAVE DEMOCRATS PANICKING»

Here are seven Obamacare figures that have Democratic insiders sweating.

1.  56% of uninsured Americans do not like Obamacare.

The Kaiser Family Foundation’s recent polling data reveal that 56% of uninsured Americans–the very people whom Obamacare purports to help–do not like Obamacare.

 

2.  According to the Obama administration’s own figures, Obamacare will spike premiums on 11 million small business employees.

A new report from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services concluded that two-thirds of small businesses that offer health insurance will pay higher premiums due to Obamacare. That, reports the Washington Post, means 11 million workers can expect their premiums to jump because of Obamacare. Worse for Democrats, because many employers renewed their pre-Obamacare health plans before the end of 2013, many of these rate spikes will be timed to hit beginning in the second part of 2014 right before the November 4 midterm elections.

 

3.  The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) says Obamacare will kill 2.5 million jobs over the next 10 years.

By creating disincentives to work, the CBO says Obamacare will result in a “decline in the number of full-time equivalent workers of about 2.0 million in 2017, rising to about 2.5 million in 2024.”

 

4.  Obamacare will cost taxpayers between $1.8 and $2.6 trillion over the next decade. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has reported that Obamacare will cost American taxpayers $1.798 trillion. The Senate GOP Budget Committee says those figures are based on overly optimistic economic assumptions and scores the real cost at $2.6 trillion.

 

5.  According to the New York Times, 800,000 Obamacare enrollees failed to pay their first premium.

Even as the Obama administration attempts to put a happy face on its low four million enrollees—a figure far removed from its seven million goal–the New York Times says at least 20% of all the people who applied for Obamacare never paid their first month’s premium, thereby rendering them still uninsured.

 

6.  Just 11% of Obamacare customers were previously uninsured.

The purported purpose of Obamacare was to increase health care coverage of uninsured Americans. However, as the Wall Street Journal reported, a McKinsey & Co. study last month found that “only 11% of consumers who bought new coverage under the law were previously uninsured.”

 

7.  Obama reassured Americans at least 36 times that if they liked their health care plan, they could keep their health care plan.

President Barack Obama’s now-infamous promise, “If you like your plan, you can keep your plan” was named Politifact’s “Lie of the Year.” Obama stated the claim at least 36 times, and several Democrats running in tight races parroted the president’s comments before millions of Americans saw their health insurance plans canceled due to Obamacare. Political ads have already begun hitting voters showcasing Democratic candidates repeating Obama’s ill-fated promise.

Source: Breitbart.com

Anti-fluoride activists put pressure on Austin City Council not to renew contract

Austin Fluoride Activists Anti fluoride activists put pressure on Austin City Council not to renew contract

On February 27, the Austin City Council addressed agenda item no. 19, an action to authorize and award an extending million-dollar contract with Mosaic Crop Nutrition, LLC, the city’s hydrofluorosilicic acid supplier.
Continue reading «Anti-fluoride activists put pressure on Austin City Council not to renew contract»

The Fla.-based company commends itself for being the world’s leading supplier of “potash,” an alkaline potassium compound, and phosphate, which is mined from nearly 2,000 acres of Mosaic-owned land in central Fla. The silicofluorides used to fluoridate the water are unprocessed industrial byproducts of the phosphate fertilizer industry.

The City of Austin, like many cities across the nation, spends millions of dollars on contracts with companies like Mosaic to fluoridate, or pollute, the region’s water supply based on a few inconclusive studies alleging that it protects children’s teeth from cavities. Not only is fluoride unnecessary to prevent tooth decay, but it’s been known to cause fluorosis in children, a condition that changes the appearance of tooth enamel, leaving permanent white stains.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recognizes this condition; however, the agency justifies this side effect by referring to it as a “cosmetic” effect and not an adverse health effect.

The harmful consequences of fluoride became even more prominent after a recently released study conducted by Harvard University and published in July 2012 in Environmental Health Perspectives, a U.S. National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences journal, showed “children in high fluoride areas had significantly lower IQs than those who lived in low fluoride areas.”

Mosaic’s very own material safety data sheet reveals the horrendous dangers associated with flourosilicic acid, including being “[c]orrosive to the skin, eyes and mucous membranes through direct contact, inhalation or ingestion,” and it can cause “burns, which may not be immediately apparent.” Contact with the eye can instigate severe irritation, burns and permanent damage, and overexposure to fluoride can result in death.

Harvard’s recent study regarding the dangers of fluoride was so convincing that the EPA altered their recommended fluoride levels, lowering them from 1.2 to 0.7 ppm.

Several anti-fluoride organizations, including Healthy H2O AustinFluoride Free Austin, and Texans for Accountable Government (TAG) stood united before the Austin City Council arguing against medicating the water supply with a “one size fits all” dose.

Rae-Nadler Olenick, former Public Affairs Specialist for the School of Engineering at the University of Texas, has spent the last six years dedicated to fighting water fluoridation. In 2008, after branching off from TAG, she began leading the organization Fluoride Free Austin. Fellow activist Linda Green joined her in the fight a few months later.

Green, a United Airlines employee, spoke before the Austin City Council, opening her speech with a quote by Ghandi: “There is sufficiency in the world for man’s need but not for man’s greed.”

Her opposition to water fluoridation included both a health and financial concern. Aside from the city’s half-million-dollar contract with the supplier, tax dollars are expended on distributing the chemical and also on maintenance and repairs. Green condemned the city for not monitoring public health in order to, at the very minimum, study the effects of fluoride; instead, the council relies on dated and arguably inconclusive research from the 1950s.

Ronnie Reeferseed, a well-known Austin activist, spoke vehemently against the fluoridation measure, insisting the public is “funding their own poisoning.”

He called the practice “psychopathic” on the city council’s part.

Austin Fluoride Activists 2 Anti fluoride activists put pressure on Austin City Council not to renew contract

Healthy H20 Austin, an organization created last year following a hunger strike carried out by two activists, Nicholas Lucier, 27, and Jason Needham, 25, made their presence known in front of the Austin City Council on Thursday.

After five years of presentations to the Austin City Council on fluoride dangers, Lucier felt the “natural progression of civil disobedience” would be to protest through a hunger strike.

Lucier, a student majoring in Government, and Needham, an established musician, orchestrated the hunger strike after Needham dreamt of his teeth falling out and awoke with a clear vision. Needham’s vision turned into a 14-day hunger strike that aimed at gaining the Austin City Council’s attention in order to bring the city’s water fluoridation to a halt.

We’re here to “[l]et Austin City Council know if they approve this, they’re going to be held accountable for their actions,” said Lucier.

“If they cannot uphold the oath of office, then they should not have taken it,” said Lucier.

Healthy H20 and their supporters put the city council on notice Thursday after the conference room roared with applause following the speeches of several group members.

Still, the city council members looked more lackadaisical than ever, and slightly annoyed while hearing the anti-fluoride arguments. This reaction is most likely based on strong political ties and under-the-table relationships that, if violated, would put them out of a job, or worse.

Some speculate the council’s blatant reluctance to discontinue their contract with Mosaic is based on grants the city receives from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Despite the ruckus made by activists and concerned citizens, the Austin City Council voted unanimously to renew the contract 7-0.

However, Mayor Lee Leffingwell could be facing a possible lawsuit after he violated city code and federal law by limiting the speaking time on an agenda item from a legally protected hour and a half, to 45 minutes, cutting 15 people out of speaking time.

Healthy H2O plans to readdress the issue next November when the council members are replaced.

“This isn’t going to be a whitewash of the previous administration come November, we are definitely going to look into criminal charges, and we’re going to hold them accountable for the negligence they held in office,” said Lucier.

Sources:

http://www.ipni.net

http://fluoridealert.org

http://www.mosaicco.com

http://austintx.swagit.com

http://www.mosaicco.com

Largest single personal data hack ever? 360mn stolen account credentials found online

Largest single personal data hack ever 360mn stolen account credentials found online Largest single personal data hack ever? 360mn stolen account credentials found online

A cyber security firm has reported a “mind boggling” cache of stolen credentials which has been put up for sale on online black markets. A total of 360 million accounts were affected in a series of hacks, one of which seems to be the biggest in history.
Continue reading «Largest single personal data hack ever? 360mn stolen account credentials found online»

Alex Holden, chief information security officer of Hold Security LLC, said that the firm had uncovered the data over the past three weeks.

He said that 360 million personal account records were obtained in separate attacks, but one single attack seems to have obtained some 105 million records which could make it the biggest single data breach to date, Reuters reports. “The sheer volume is overwhelming,” said Holden in a statement on Tuesday.

“These mind boggling figures are not meant to scare you and they are a product of multiple breaches which we are independently investigating. This is a call to action,” he added.

Hold Security said that as well as 360 million credentials, hackers were also selling 1.25 billion email addresses, which may be of interest to spammers.

The huge treasure trove of personal details includes user names, which are most often email addresses, and passwords, which in most cases are unencrypted.

Hold Security uncovered a similar breach in October last year, but the tens of millions of records had encrypted passwords, which made them much more difficult for hackers to use.

“In October 2013, Hold Security identified the biggest ever public disclosure of 153 million stolen credentials from Adobe Systems Inc. One month later we identified another large breach of 42 million credentials from Cupid Media,”
 Hold Security said in statement.

Largest single personal data hack ever 360mn stolen account credentials found online 2 Largest single personal data hack ever? 360mn stolen account credentials found online

 

Holden said he believes that in many cases the latest theft has yet to be publically reported and that the companies that have been attacked are unaware of it. He added that he will notify the companies concerned as soon as his staff has identified them.

“We have staff working around the clock to identify the victims,”
 he said.

However, he did say that the email addresses in question are from major providers such as AOL Inc, Google Inc, Yahoo Inc, and Microsoft Corp, as well as “almost all” Fortune 500 companies and nonprofit organizations.

Heather Bearfield, who runs cybersecurity for an accounting firm Marcum LLP, told Reuters that while she had no information about Hold Security’s findings, she believed that it was quite plausible as hackers can do more with stolen credentials than they can with stolen credit cards, as people often use the same login and password for many different accounts.

“They can get access to your actual bank account. That is huge. That is not necessarily recoverable funds,”she said.

The latest revelation by Hold Security comes just months after the US retailer Target announced that 110 million of their customers had their data stolen by hackers. Target and the credit and debit card companies concerned said that consumers do not bear much risk as funds are rapidly refunded in fraud losses.

Source: RT

Limit surveillance to ‘terrorist communication,’ says outgoing NSA boss

Limit surveillance to ‘terrorist communication’ says outgoing NSA boss Limit surveillance to ‘terrorist communication,’ says outgoing NSA boss

General Keith Alexander, the soon-to-be departed chief of the NSA, admitted Thursday in front of a congressional committee that the massive intelligence agency may be open to extracting less, or more targeted metadata from communication companies.
Continue reading «Limit surveillance to ‘terrorist communication,’ says outgoing NSA boss»

Classified documents leaked last summer by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden revealed that the intelligence agency currently compels at least three major telephone providers – Verizon, Sprint, and AT&T – to turn over call information on millions of Americans. Among that information, known as metadata, is the duration of the call, the time the call was made, who the phone call was to, and where it originated.

Snowden disclosed a trove of secret information about US intelligence activity to the press, but the collection of phone metadata has been perhaps the most controversial, in part because of its sheer breadth.

Senator Carl Levin (D-MI) was among those hoping to find more when, at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing, he asked Alexander how the metadata is collected and stored.

Chairman, I think there are three options that you put on the table,” Alexander replied. “You mentioned the government holding it, the ISPs holding it. I think there is yet another option where we look at what data you actually need and only get that data.

Can we come up with a capability that just gets those that are predicated on a terrorist communication? I think you have those three options that I’ve put on the table,” he continued. “Those are three of the ones that I think need to be clearly discussed and the merits from both sides, they have pros and cons on the agility that you would have with the program.”

Alexander was referring to possible reforms to the NSA set forth by US intelligence and law enforcement leaders earlier this week. US President Obama, who has said he is open to reforming the surveillance programs after public scrutiny, tasked the attorney general and other administration officials to propose theories on how the phone metadata collection program could remain in use.

The most radical proposal, according to anonymous sources who spoke to the Wall Street Journal, would be to entirely abandon the collection of telephony metadata. Officials are also considering turning that vast datalog over to a government agency other than the NSA – either the FBI or Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, perhaps.

Alexander’s testimony seemed to indicate that the scenario the administration is taking most seriously is leaving the trove metadata with the phone company, with the NSA only forcing the company to handover information about numbers thought to be involved in a web of terrorism.

It’s impossible to guess exactly what Alexander’s intentions are, though, because of the general’s reputation as a surveillance hawk. One unnamed intelligence source told the Washington Post in 2013 that Alexander organized the mass collection of Iraqi telecommunication information as a measure against terror attacks on US troops there. That official implied that Alexander had brought the same approach stateside.

Rather than look for a single needle in the haystack, [Alexander’s] approach was, ‘Let’s collect the whole haystack,’” he said. “Collect it all, tag it, store it…And whatever it is you want, you go searching for it.”

Alexander, the public face of the NSA, has kept that stance even in the face of public pressure and questions from lawmakers. He said in October that the NSA could scale back the eavesdropping on foreign leaders, but that the indiscriminate interception should continue, even if the data is turned over to a third party.

I would love to give this hornet’s nest to someone else, to say: ‘You get stung by this.’ But don’t drop it, because that’s our country, and if you drop it, the chance of that a terrorist attack gets through increases,” he said.

Previous reports indicated that the outgoing Alexander would relinquish his position as director by March or April 2014. Administration sources insisted that plans for his departure had been in the works before the Snowden leak, but the agency has been dogged by question and criticism for more than six months.

The true tragedy in all this is the way the press has articulated [the NSA] as the villains when what they are doing is protecting the country and [doing] what we have asked them to do,” Alexander said.

Source: RT

26 top American corporations paid no federal income tax from ’08 to ’12 – report

26 top American corporations paid no federal income tax from ’08 to ’12 – report 26 top American corporations paid no federal income tax from ’08 to ’12 – report

Twenty-six of the most powerful American corporations – such as Boeing, General Electric, and Verizon – paid no federal income tax from 2008 to 2012, according to a new report detailing how Fortune 500 companies exploit tax breaks and loopholes.
Continue reading «26 top American corporations paid no federal income tax from ’08 to ’12 – report»

The report, conducted by public advocacy group Citizens for Tax Justice (CTJ), focuses on the 288 companies in the Fortune 500 that registered consistent profit every year from 2008 to 2012. Those 288 profitable corporations paid an “effective federal income tax rate of just 19.4 percent over the five-year period — far less than the statutory 35 percent tax rate,” CTJ states.

One-third, or 93, of the analyzed companies paid an effective tax rate below 10 percent in that timespan, CTJ found.

Defenders of low corporate taxes call the US federal statutory rate of 35 percent one of the highest companies face in any nation. But the report signals how the most formidable corporate entities in the US take advantage of tax breaks, loopholes, and accounting schemes to keep their effective rates down.

“Tax subsidies for the 288 companies over the five years totaled a staggering $364 billion, including $56 billion in 2008, $70 billion in 2009, $80 billion in 2010, $87 billion in 2011, and $70 billion in 2012,” CTJ states. “These amounts are the difference between what the companies would have paid if their tax bills equaled 35 percent of their profits and what they actually paid.”

Just 25 of the 288 companies kept tax breaks of $174 billion out of the $364 billion total. Wells Fargo received the largest amount of tax subsidies – $21.6 billion – in the five-year period. The banking giant was joined in the top ten on that list by the likes of AT&T, ExxonMobil, J.P Morgan Chase, and Wal-Mart.

26 top American corporations paid no federal income tax from ’08 to ’12 – report 2 26 top American corporations paid no federal income tax from ’08 to ’12 – report

 

About 1 in 11 of the 288 companies paid a zero percent effective federal income tax rate in the five years considered. Pepco Holdings – which supplies utility services to Delaware, the District of Columbia, Maryland, and parts of New Jersey – paid a cumulative five-year effective rate of -33 percent, the lowest of any company in that period.

In fact, utilities came out particularly well among other industries.

26 top American corporations paid no federal income tax from ’08 to ’12 – report 3 26 top American corporations paid no federal income tax from ’08 to ’12 – report

 

“The sectors with the lowest effective corporate tax rates over the five-year period were utilities (2.9 percent), industrial machinery (4.3 percent), telecommunications (9.8 percent), oil, gas and pipelines (14.4 percent), transportation (16.4 percent), aerospace and defense (16.7 percent) and financial (18.8 percent),”CTJ reported.

CTJ said the companies are allowed to pay such low federal rates based on factors that include offshore tax sheltering, accelerated asset depreciation based on continued investment, stock options, and industry-specific tax breaks.

“Of those corporations in our sample with significant offshore profits, two thirds paid higher corporate tax rates to foreign governments where they operate than they paid in the U.S. on their U.S. profits,” according to CTJ.

The non-profit group says this lax taxation climate among the most powerful US corporations comes amid an aggressive push by lobby and trade groups on Capitol Hill “to reduce the federal corporate income tax rate, based on the claim that our corporate tax is uncompetitively high compared to other developed nations.”

Just this week, US House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R) introduced a tax reform proposal that would lower the maximum federal effective tax rate to 25 percent. Though, tellingly, this aspect of the plan – among other attempts at bipartisan consensus in the proposal – renders it no chance of even getting a hearing in the Republican-dominated House during a mid-term election year, when such a conciliatory offering can be used as a cudgel against disapproving conservatives.

26 top American corporations paid no federal income tax from ’08 to ’12 – report 4 26 top American corporations paid no federal income tax from ’08 to ’12 – report

 

Companies have already disputed CTJ’s report, saying that the study only looks at federal income taxes while ignoring other tax burdens they face, such as on the state and local level. In addition, the companies say low effective rates are part of congressional attempts to offer tax relief to corporate America in order to create larger economic opportunity.

To reverse low corporate federal tax rates, CTJ recommends Congress end corporations’ ability to“defer” taxes on offshore profits; limit use of executive stock options that reduce taxes by “generating phantom ‘costs’” the companies don’t really incur; end accelerated depreciation opportunities; restore the corporate Alternative Minimum Tax; and strengthen corporate income and tax disclosure regulations.

“These findings refute the prevailing view inside the Washington, D.C. Beltway that America’s corporate income tax is more burdensome than the corporate income taxes levied by other countries, and that this purported (but false) excess burden somehow makes the U.S. ‘uncompetitive,’” CTJ concluded.

Source: RT

Tokyo’s Mt Gox bitcoin exchange files for bankruptcy amid missing currency

bitkoin bankruptcy japan exchange Tokyos Mt Gox bitcoin exchange files for bankruptcy amid missing currency

Mt Gox, once the world’s largest bitcoin exchange, filed for bankruptcy in a Tokyo district court on Friday, the company’s lawyer citing ‘outstanding debts of $63.2 million, after mysteriously going offline on Monday.
Continue reading «Tokyo’s Mt Gox bitcoin exchange files for bankruptcy amid missing currency»

Investors may have lost all of their virtual coins, as the exchange’s computer system was exposed to fraudulent transactions and technical failures.

A leaked internal Mt Gox “crisis strategy” document suggesting that the exchange site had been hacked and hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of the cryptocurrency stolen began to circulate online.

Technical glitches in February forced the trading platform to halt deposits, causing the already volatile crypto-currency to plunge 20 percent. On Friday it was listed at $565.07 on Winkdex, a New York-based bitcoin value index.

Mt Gox once claimed to host nearly 80 percent of all bitcoin transactions worldwide, and was the primary source cited for bitcoin prices.

Tokyos Mt Gox bitcoin exchange files for bankruptcy amid missing currency 2 Tokyos Mt Gox bitcoin exchange files for bankruptcy amid missing currency

 

After it the site crashed on Monday, the value of Bitcoin fell to $440, a 3-month low after the currency reached highs above $1000 at the end of November.

On Monday, Mark Karpeles, the chief executive of the now defunct exchange, resigned Mt Gox from the board of the Bitcoin Foundation ‘effective immediately’. Karpeles remained mum after the site went offline, but on Friday told a press conference that Mt Gox wants to file a criminal probe into the hacking.

Tokyos Mt Gox bitcoin exchange files for bankruptcy amid missing currency 3 Tokyos Mt Gox bitcoin exchange files for bankruptcy amid missing currency

 

Bitcoin, an alternative to traditional currencies, isn’t backed by any official government or central bank, which makes recovering losses difficult.

Central banks across the globe have begun to crackdown on the cryptocurrency, instructing financial institutions not to accept bitcoins because they have no legal status or monetary-backing, like state-backed currencies.

Source: RT

New Mexico nuclear plant workers exposed to radiation

New Mexico nuclear plant workers exposed to radiation 2 New Mexico nuclear plant workers exposed to radiation

Positive results for radiation exposure were found in 13 workers following a leak at the United States’ first underground nuclear waste repository near Carlsbad, New Mexico, an Associated Press report stated.
Continue reading «New Mexico nuclear plant workers exposed to radiation»

Officials said that all employees were checked for external contamination before they left the Waste Isolation Pilot Project (WIPP) facility the day the leak occurred, but that biological samples were also taken to test for the possibility that they were breathing in radioactive particles.

The US Department of Energy and the Nuclear Waste Partnership, which manages the plant’s daily operations, are expected to hold a press conference on Thursday to discuss the test results.

“It is important to note that these are initial sample results,” the DOE and Nuclear Waste Partnership said in a joint statement. “These employees, both federal and contractor, will be asked to provide additional samples in order to fully determine the extent of any exposure.”

According to CNN, Nuclear Waste Partnership (NWP) spokesman Donavan Mager said the number of people exposed to radiation could not be confirmed due to the privacy rule under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. He did say the test results suggest exposure to the synthetic, radioactive metal americium.

The preliminary test results come just days after more airborne radiation was detected in the area surrounding the plant. Earlier this month, WIPP officials noticed a sharp rise in radiation levels, which they connected to a leak inside one of its underground tunnels. The plant is one of three deep nuclear repositories around the globe, storing nuclear waste 600 meters below the earth’s surface.

Since the WIPP’s creation in 1999, this is the first time it has been known to release any radioactive material. Officials told the AP that it may take weeks to learn what caused the leak. Even before this incident, a salt truck caught fire in a separate part of the facility, but that is believed to be unrelated.

Despite the record levels of radiation detected around the area, the DOE stated the readings fall “well below” the standards outlined by the Environmental Protection Agency, and that they do not pose a public or environmental threat.

New Mexico nuclear plant workers exposed to radiation New Mexico nuclear plant workers exposed to radiation

On Monday, the DOE’s Joe Franco and the NWP’s Farok Sharif held a community meeting to ease public fear over the situation. In response to a question from a local resident, Franco said, “there is no risk from this event that would be a hazard to you or your children.”

Regardless, the AP noted that Senator Tom Udall (D-N.M.) will ask the EPA to send portable air monitors to Carlsbad as a precaution.

“The health and safety of the Carlsbad community and WIPP personnel are my top priority,” he said.

Source: RT

GCHQ and NSA intercepted Yahoo users’ private photographs

GCHQ and NSA intercepted Yahoo users private photographs GCHQ and NSA intercepted Yahoo users private photographs

British and American surveillance agencies teamed up to develop a system that collected millions of images from the webcams of unsuspecting and innocent internet users, new leaked documents reveal.
Continue reading «GCHQ and NSA intercepted Yahoo users’ private photographs»

This “Optic Nerve” program — administered by the UK’s GCHQ with the assistance of the National Security Agency — routinely intercepted and stored those webcam images in secret starting in 2008, according to documents disclosed by former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden and published by The Guardian on Thursday.

The program indiscriminately collected millions of images from people who used Yahoo’s webcam chat function, the Guardian’s Spencer Ackerman and James Ball reported, “including substantial quantities of sexually explicit communications.”

According to the journalists, the GCHQ relied on Optic Nerve to experiment with facial recognition programing to monitor existing targets and search for new persons of interest.

But the GCHQ didn’t stop at targeting solely suspected terrorists, the report continues, and instead collected intelligence by seemingly anyone unfortunate enough to log-in to Yahoo’s webcam chat feature, at least between 2008 and 2012.

“Yahoo webcam is known to be used by GCHQ targets,” reads a portion of the classified documentation published by the paper.

The GCHQ did not limit their surveillance to just those target, however. According to the leaked Snowden document, 1.8 million Yahoo users had their webcam images collected by the agency during just a six-month span shortly after Optic Nerve was first rolled out.

When reached for comment by the British paper, a representative for Yahoo said the GCHQ program as explained demonstrates a “whole new level of violation of our users’ privacy.”

Elsewhere in the leaked documentation, GCHQ agents admitted that a large portion of the imagery collected contained “undesirable nudity.”

“Unfortunately … it would appear that a surprising number of people use webcam conversations to show intimate parts of their body to the other person,” one internal document cited by The Guardian reads.“Also, the fact that the Yahoo software allows more than one person to view a webcam stream without necessarily sending a reciprocal stream means that it appears sometimes to be used for broadcasting pornography.”

And although the program was carried out by British spies, Ackerman and Ball acknowledged that millions of Americans may have had their own likeness — clothed or not — captured in the process.

“GCHQ does not have the technical means to make sure no images of UK or US citizens are collected and stored by the system, and there are no restrictions under UK law to prevent Americans’ images being accessed by British analysts without an individual warrant,” they wrote.

But Vanee Vines, a spokesperson for the NSA, told the Guardian that the US spy agency “does not ask its foreign partners to undertake any intelligence activity that the US government would be legally prohibited from undertaking itself.”

“A key part of the protections that apply to both US persons and citizens of other countries is the mandate that information be in support of a valid foreign intelligence requirement, and comply with US Attorney General-approved procedures to protect privacy rights. Those procedures govern the acquisition, use, and retention of information about US persons,” Vines said.

In an op-ed published in The Guardian also on Thursday, acclaimed security expert and cryptographer Bruce Schneier said even safeguards in place to prevent these images being viewed by any GCHQ staffer should be questioned.

“[I]s it really okay for a computer to monitor you online, and for that data collection and analysis only to count as a potential privacy invasion when a person sees it? I say it’s not, and the latest Snowden leaks only make more clear how important this distinction is,” he wrote.

Source: RT

Florida woman forced to use city utilities instead of private solar panels, rainwater

Florida woman forced to use city utilities instead of private solar panels rainwater Florida woman forced to use city utilities instead of private solar panels, rainwater

A Cape Coral, Florida woman living “off the grid” was ordered last week by a magistrate to hook up to utilities to comply with city codes or risk eviction from her home.
Continue reading «Florida woman forced to use city utilities instead of private solar panels, rainwater»

Special Magistrate Harold S. Eskin ruled Thursday that Robin Speronis violated city codes by refusing to connect to the Cape Coral’s water system. Eskin ordered Speronis to pay for water service, adding that her sewer access would be capped until she did, The News-Press reported.

“I am in compliance,” Speronis told the News-Press. “I’m in compliance of living … you may have to hook-up, but you don’t have to use it. Well, what’s the point?”

In addition, her alternative source of energy must be approved by the city, Eskin ruled. The city contends that using rainwater and solar energy violates the International Property Maintenance Code, which is used in many US and Canadian communities. It “states that properties are unsafe to live in if they do not have electricity and running water,” according to Off The Grid News, though Speronis has both electricity and water.

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Eskin also pointed out that several liens were placed on her home given Speronis had used drains but without paying water bills.

“This resident provided testimony at the code compliance hearing that she has been living in the home for the past year and using the city’s wastewater system without paying for the service,” said Connie Barron, a spokeswoman for Cape Coral.

Yet the Magistrate said the city abused its authority by not giving Speronis proper notice of the supposed violations. Speronis was given an eviction notice in November.

City spokeswoman Barron said the sewer would have been capped sooner, but the city decided to wait for the code hearing. The city had actually overlooked Speronis’ setup until she did an interview with a local television station regarding her living arrangements.

Eskin did admit, though, that the city’s code may be obsolete.

“Reasonableness and code requirements don’t always go hand-in-hand … given societal and technical changes (that) requires review of code ordinances,” said Eskin, who actually dropped two of three counts against Speronis.

Speronis’ attorney posited that there’s a conflict in the city’s code, given Speronis has been ordered to hook up to the water system despite city officials’ admittance that she does not have to use it.

“It was a mental fistfight,” Speronis’ attorney Todd Allen said of Eskin’s review of the case. “There’s an inherent conflict in the code.”

For her part, Speronis said she does not intend to hook up to the city’s water system, vowing to appeal the Magistrate’s ruling.

“I know how to live off the grid completely and in a sanitary way,” Speronis said in response to the city’s action, according to The News-Press. “That’s what seven months living in the woods taught me. I do have an alternative toilet from my days of living in the woods.”

The Cape Coral resident said she will dispose of waste just as dog owners do for pets. She also plans to collect wastewater in containers for use in her garden.

Speronis already collects rainwater for bathing and other uses, all while generating electricity with solar panels.

“What happens in the courtroom is much less important than touching people’s hearts and minds,” she told Off The Grid News. “I think that we are continuing to be successful in doing just that and I am so pleased — there is hope! [Friday] morning, as I took my two hour walk, there was a young man, unknown to me, who drove by me, tooted his horn and said, ‘Robin, congratulations on your victory yesterday, keep up the fight and God bless you.’ That is beautiful.”

Source: RT

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