Drone war is killing non-al-Qaeda leaders

Drones

Drones

Hypothetically, American drone bombings in Pakistan are supposed to be killing off al-Qaeda’s leadership. But in actuality, the strikes kill more people who aren’t in the terrorist group’s command structure.

Council on Foreign Relations fellow Micah Zenko dug up a 2011 assessment, from Pentagon official Michael Vickers, that there were “perhaps four important Qaeda leaders left in Pakistan, and 10 to 20 leaders over all in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia.” Zenko then compared that number to an average of several estimates of people killed in drone strikes:

Since Vickers’ estimate that there were two dozen al-Qaeda leaders left in 2011, more than two-hundred U.S. drone strikes have killed upwards of 1,200 people — apparently non-al-Qaeda leaders.

Zenko’s comparison makes a very clear point: unless Vickers’s estimate in 2011 was a dramatic lowball, it’s just wrong to say that the drone campaign is narrowly tailored to killing top al-Qaeda officials. It’s killing many more people than that, including hundreds of civilians and, recently, an American and Italian hostage. And even if American drones campaign took out top al-Qaeda officials in the process, it’s genuinely unclear how much that would damage the group.

Source: Vox.com

Bee Deaths Caused By EPA Approved Pesticide

U.S. Bee Deaths Caused By EPA Approved Pesticide:

 

U.S. Bee Deaths Caused By EPA Approved Pesticide

U.S. Bee Deaths Caused By EPA Approved Pesticide

 

The world honey bee population has plunged in recent years, worrying beekeepers and farmers who know how critical bee pollination is for many crops. A number of theories have popped up as to why the North American honey bee population has declined–electromagnetic radiation, malnutrition, and climate change have all been pinpointed. Now a leaked EPA document reveals that the agency allowed the widespread use of a bee-toxic pesticide, despite warnings from EPA scientists.

The document, which was leaked to a Colorado beekeeper, shows that the EPA has ignored warnings about the use of clothianidin, a pesticide produced by Bayer that mainly is used to pre-treat corn seeds. The pesticide scooped up $262 million in sales in 2009 by farmers, who also use the substance on canola, soy, sugar beets, sunflowers, and wheat, according to Grist.

The leaked document (PDF) was put out in response to Bayer’s request to approve use of the pesticide on
cotton and mustard. The document invalidates a prior Bayer study that justified the registration of clothianidin on the basis of its safety to honeybees:

Clothianidin’s major risk concern is to nontarget insects (that is, honey bees). Clothianidin is a neonicotinoid insecticide that is both persistent and systemic. Acute toxicity studies to honey bees show that clothianidin is highly toxic on both a contact and an oral basis. Although EFED does not conduct RQ based risk assessments on non-target insects, information from standard tests and field studies, as well as incident reports involving other neonicotinoids insecticides (e.g., imidacloprid) suggest the potential for long-term toxic risk to honey bees and other beneficial insects.

The entire 101-page memo is damning (and worth a read). But the opinion of EPA scientists apparently isn’t enough for the agency, which is allowing clothianidin to keep its registration…

Research Chimps to New Homes

U.S. Research Chimps Heading to New Homes:

U.S. Research Chimps Heading to New Homes

U.S. Research Chimps Heading to New Homes

Wayne Pacelle is the president and chief executive officer of The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS). This Op-Ed is adapted from a post on the blog A Humane Nation, where the content ran before appearing in LiveScience’s Expert Voices: Op-Ed & Insights.

Recently, the U.S. Senate gave final approval to a bill — backed by The HSUS and the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) — that provides millions of dollars in federal funding to help transfer chimpanzees from laboratories to sanctuaries. Passing this legislation was essential for NIH to act upon its plan to retire nearly 90 percent of government-owned chimpanzees.

A team of Republicans and Democrats from both the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate came together in an extraordinary show of support, including Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Ia.) chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Chairman, as well as Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), its ranking minority member; and Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.), chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), its ranking minority member.

Together, they passed legislation that will allow NIH the flexibility to proceed with using the funding, and give retired research chimpanzees the opportunity to live the remainder of their days in suitable sanctuaries.

The passage of this legislation, which was signed on Saturday by President Barack Obama, caps a remarkable series of successful initiatives executed by The HSUS and kick-started by an HSUS undercover investigation that broke on ABC News in March 2009. One of our brave investigators was hired by the largest primate laboratory, with the largest population of chimps, and found not only mistreatment, isolation and breeding of chimpanzees in violation of federal policy, but also long-term warehousing of chimps. Many of the chimps were not even being used in experiments. The question was: What’s the point of keeping them in these deficient environments, and breeding more of them, if so many are not even used?

The investigation added fuel to the effort to get chimps out of labs, and The HSUS helped spearhead the effort, working with federal lawmakers, leaders at NIH, and with the U.S. Department of the Interior during the last four years. The final passage of the Chimpanzee Health Improvement, Maintenance and Protection (CHIMP) Act amendments was a milestone on a set of achievements with the promise of new lives for these great apes and an end to decades of persecution.

The turning point came when an expert panel of scientists — called to examine the value of chimpanzee research after The HSUS’s allies in Congress requested the review — determined that the use of chimpanzees was “largely unnecessary.” The panel said chimps had been useful in certain areas in the past, but that there now are other ways available to gather insights and information.

Some months later, NIH director Francis Collins accepted the recommendations and announced, in dramatic fashion, that NIH would in fact retire the vast majority of its government-owned chimpanzees to sanctuaries.

Then, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, responding to a legal petition from The HSUS, the Jane Goodall Institute, and other groups, proposed that all chimps, including the captives, be listed as endangered — a more stringent standard of protection with consequences for people (including those at laboratories) who possess chimps.

As The HSUS and its allies gained ground in those areas, we realized that there was a limit on the amount of money in NIH’s budget for sanctuary support, as per the CHIMP Act, which The HSUS helped to pass 13 years ago.

There was no similar restriction on funding for the housing of chimps in laboratories, so NIH was faced with the prospect of being forced to keep retired chimpanzees in barren lab cages rather than spend the money more efficiently on higher-welfare sanctuaries; this barrier not only threatened future retirement of chimpanzees, but funding for care of chimpanzees already retired at Chimp Haven in Louisiana, the national chimpanzee sanctuary.

Last week, the U.S. House of Representatives approved an amendment to the CHIMP Act that removed the barrier, and the Senate followed with swift, final approval. This decision came down to the wire — with sanctuary funding expected to run out quickly.

Meanwhile, The HSUS — thanks to its generous supporters — has donated more than $600,000 to chimp sanctuaries to support the movement of more chimps to those superior facilities.

All in all, it’s an incredible example of what The HSUS brings to the animal movement: an ability to work with executive agencies as diverse as NIH and the Interior Department, to move legislation in Congress at a time when that body is viewed as dysfunctional, and partnering with hands-on groups (in this case, chimp sanctuaries) that are the right resting place for the retired animals.

We extend our thanks to so many of our supporters, but especially so to Jon Stryker, Audrey Burnand and Jane Goodall. And we thank many lawmakers and other public officials, with a special shout-out to NIH director Francis Collins for his incredible leadership on the issue.

Also, hats off to the many HSUS staff members who worked tirelessly on the issue for years — from the undercover investigator, to our communications team, to our Animal Research Issues department, to federal affairs and the animal protection litigation unit.

This is a good move for taxpayers, but it’s also a reclaiming of society’s humanity and our kinship with the great apes. They deserve not just survival, but peace — and now we are making that dream come true.

U.S. Astronauts encounters Extraterrestrials and UFOs

U.S. Astronauts reveal encounters with apparent Extraterrestrials and UFOs:

   U.S. Astronauts reveal encounters with apparent Extraterrestrials and UFOs


U.S. Astronauts reveal encounters with apparent Extraterrestrials and UFOs

Rumors have persisted for years that the astronauts — nearly all of whom are military officers susceptible to being silenced under orders — may have seen something more on the Moon than rocks and dust. According to transcripts of the technical debriefing following the Apollo 11 mission, astronauts Armstrong, Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin and Michael Collins told of an encounter with a large cylindrical UFO even before reaching the Moon,” U.S. investigative journalist and researcher Jim Marrs documents Mr. Aldrin further officially presented his encounters with apparent Extraterrestrials on CNN’s Larry King Show. Jim Marrs further presents that Mr. Aldrin said, “The first unusual thing that we saw I guess was one day out or pretty close to the Moon. It had a sizable dimension to it”. Aldrin said the Apollo crew at first thought the object was the Saturn 4 booster rocket (S-IVB); but, he added, “We called the ground and were told the S-IVB was 6,000 miles away.” Mr. Aldrin described the UFO as a cylinder, while Armstrong said it was “really two rings” Two connected rings”. Collins also said it appeared to be a hollow, tumbling cylinder. He added, “It was a hollow cylinder. But then you could change the focus on the sextant and it would be replaced by this open-book shape. It was really weird.” Even more strange was the experience of Mr. Aldrin and Mr. Armstrong, after they reached the Moon. According to an Associated Press story of July 20, 1969 published in the San Bernardino Sun-Telegram, the astronauts sighted eerie lights inside a crater near the point on the Moon where their lunar lander was due to touch down the next day. On their first sweep around the Moon, Armstrong described a mysterious bright light on the inner wall of the crater Aristarchus, located north of their flight path. “It seems to have a slight amount of florescence to it. The area in the crater is quite bright,” he reported. “That area is definitely brighter than anything else I can see. There doesn’t appear to be any color involved in it. It looks like an eerie sight,” confirmed Aldrin. Two astronauts who appear to have broken ranks are Dr. Edgar Mitchell and Gordon Cooper. On The Oprah Winfrey Show on 19 July 1991, Mitchell hinted that all information regarding UFOs has not been released, saying, “I do believe that there is a lot more known about extraterrestrial investigation than is available to the public right now [and] has been for a long time… It’s a long, long story. It goes back to World War II when all of that happened, and is highly classified stuff.” On Dateline NBC in 1996, Mitchell was even more candid. “I have no firsthand experience, but I have had the opportunity to meet with people from three countries who in the course of their official duties claim to have had personal firsthand encounter experiences… with Extraterrestrials,” he said. Jim Marrs says that “Mitchell flatly stated that some advanced military craft use technology derived from alien spacecraft that have been collected by the U.S. Government.” Cooper, in a letter read during a 1978 meeting at the United Nations to discuss UFOs, stated, “…I believe that these extraterrestrial vehicles and their crews are visiting this planet form other planets, which are obviously a little more advanced than we are here on Earth.” Also that year, Mr. Cooper wrote a letter to the ambassador of the Mission of Grenada to the United Nations supporting a UN initiative to study UFOs. In his letter, Cooper stated that astronauts “are very reluctant even to discuss UFOs due to the great numbers of people who have indiscriminately sold fake stories and forged documents, abusing their names and reputations without hesitation. Those few astronauts who have continued to participate in the UFO field have had to do so very cautiously. There are several of us who do believe in UFOs and who have had occasion to see a UFO on the ground, or from an airplane.” Cooper’s mention of a “UFO on the ground. apparently was a reference to his own experience at Edwards Air Force Base on May 2, 1957. In 1993, Cooper gave this account of the incident: “I had a crew that was filming an installation of a precision landing system we were installing out on the dry lake bed, and they were there with stills and movies, and filmed the whole installation and they came running in to tell me that this UFO, a little saucer, had come down right over them, put down three gear, and landed about 50 yards from them, and as they proceeded to go on over to get a closer shot of it, it lifted up, put the gear in, and disappeared in a rapid rate of speed. “And so I had to follow my directions as a military… I had to look up the regulations on who I was to call to report this, which I did, and they ordered me to immediately have the film developed, put it in a pouch, and send them by the commanding general’s plane to Washington, which I did. And that was the last I’ve ever heard of the film.” It is interesting to note indicates Mr. Marrs that, “despite the continued protests that there is no government secrecy regarding UFOs, there is no public report on this incident. Although the event was listed in the Project Blue Book index, a full report and clear photos are suspiciously absent.” Yet Mr. Cooper, who reported the UFO landing, was selected as a Mercury astronaut only two years later. In a 1996 interview, Mr. Cooper said he discounts any conventional explanation for his experience. Asked his thoughts on UFOs, the astronaut said, “Well, I figured it was somebody coming from some distant place to visit us.” Steve Omar, another investigative journalist and researcher, indicates that J. Allen Hynek (who investigated U.F.O.s for the U.S. Air Force), Major Donald Keyhoe, Timothy Good (in his book Above Top Secret) suggest secrecy about UFOs and Extraterrestrials. One unquestionably absolute expert we may want to consult is Christopher Kraft, who was Director of the NASA tracking base in Houston during the Apollo Moon missions, when he revealed the following conversation “after” he left his work at NASA:

– ASTRONAUTS NElL ARMSTRONG and BUZZ ALDRIN speaking from the Moon: “Those are giant things. No, no, no …. this is not an optical illusion. No one is going to believe this!”

– MISSION CONTROL (HOUSTON CENTER): “What…what…what? What the hell is happening? What’s wrong with you?”

– ASTRONAUTS: “They’re here under the surface.”

– MISSION CONTROL: “What’s there? Emission interrupted… interference control calling Apollo II.”

– ASTRONAUTS: “We saw some visitors. They were there for awhile, observing the instruments.”

– MISSION CONTROL: ”Repeat your last information.”

– ASTRONAUTS: “I say that there were other spaceships. They’re lined up on the other side of the crater.”

– MISSION CONTROL: “Repeat…repeat!”

– ASTRONAUTS: “Let us sound this orbita ….. In 625 to 5… automatic relay connected… My hands are shaking so badly I can’t do anything. Film it? God, if these damned cameras have picked up anything… what then?”

– MISSION CONTROL: “Have you picked up anything?”

– ASTRONAUTS: “I didn’t have any film at hand. Three shots of the saucers or whatever they were that were ruining the film.”

– MISSION CONTROL: “Control, control here. Are you on your way? Is the uproar with the U.F.O.s. over?

– ASTRONAUTS: “They’ve landed there. There they are and they are watching us.”

– MISSION CONTROL: “The mirrors, the mirrors…have you set them up?”

> – ASTRONAUTS: “Yes, they’re in the right place. But whoever made those space ships surely can come tomorrow and remove them. Over and out.”

There is an unconfirmed report, also documented by Steve Omar, that when Buzz Aldrin opened the door after landing on the Moon, he immediately saw a transparent etherical being staring at him outside. Welcome to the Moon?? Allegedly, NASA Director Kraft added that there was a public and a secret private A.S.A. radio frequency between Moon and Mission Control and that the conversation above took place during a mysterious two minute interruption in public transmissions. To prove it is the truth, hundreds of independent CIVILIAN radio operators with powerful VHF equipment separately reported hearing the AME spaceship report from the Apollo moon-walkers!

“Soviet radio operators also picked it up and published it in Moscow. Another mysterious radio message from the Moon was broadcast on French public television only one time before it was censored AFTER it leaked out. That transmission appeared to be a mysterious clearly spoken ALIEN LANGUAGE,” further reports Steve Omar. The famous French historian and author Robbert Charroux published the transmission which has been suppressed in the U.S. It came from U.S. astronaut Worden who transmitted it to NASA, and expert linguists have been unable to translate the message.

Ultimate spy machine for the U.S. Government

Hard Drives in computers the Ultimate Spying Machine that can be used against you:

Hard Drives in computers the Ultimate Spying Machine that can be used against you

Hard Drives in computers the Ultimate Spying Machine that can be used against you

You can be a newbie to computers or a advanced IT Expert, Technician or even a hacker but many don’t even realize that their computers are already an ultimate spy machine for the U.S. Government, State Governments and their forensics departments (SBI, FBI, CIA, Private Intelligence Agencies). Who needs to plant bugs or GPS tracking devices when you have the suspects hard drives from their computer by using a search and seizure raid on just something as simple as being accused of a computer crime or even downloading illegal material whether it’s true or not. Even after the Virginia Tech Shooting and other major criminal incidents, the police or FBI or even the SBI always talk about wanting to come for the suspects computer equipment and hard drives to send to forensics to investigate their entire life history through the usage of the computer with the hard drive used for data storage. It’s all there!!! Hard Drives are basically a High Density magnetic medium using tiny bits to encode and decode information, for simpler terms it is like writing files and reading files from a computer unit. Every hard drive doesn’t give you access to it’s full memory but holds off a fraction that is not user accessible which also likely holds data on our digital activities. In addition the hard drives use a form of magnetic to where no matter how many overwrites you use on a hard drive to coverup confidential and sensitive, embarrassing, or even material that you don’t want the world to know you have whatever the reason may be, the data can still be recovered at a forensics lab or even some expensive Data recovery company that is hell bent on obtaining personal information knowing they can blackmail people for profits. Well whats the problem, what do you have to hide? It does sound like it is over the top paranoid in this article but the experts such as Peter Gutmann admit that hard drives that are wiped with certain methods can always have it’s Data recovered using certain magnetic analyzing technology. All the police have to do is claim you committed a “computer crime” and they will have the legal ability to use forensic recovery units to find all your lifes history, any embarrassing photos and videos you taken with your boyfriend or girlfriend and yes that also includes cell phones so any horny young teenage guy or girl could become the next bust for child pornography, top secret and confidential legal attorney/client documents and that also includes top secret government and military documents, and even your entire web history and can even move on to what organizations you belong to and chatter with. The question is why does the government want us all to have computers, to spy on us and keep tabs on our entire Internet and computer history. Since people stupidly chat on Twitter and Facebook about all the things they do such as cooking to partying, all their activities are being archived and cataloged to each individual and since most profiles are public anybody can archive your information to use against you later on. It is even discovered through attending a autism meeting that many autistic people including children accidentally get into pornography when the parents installed no filter and end up getting caught on pornography charges (Laws prohibiting people under the age of 18 and in some cases the age of 21 from viewing adult pornography) which are very hard to drop in court which means juvenile prison. More teenagers and children to be brought up and raised under the Juvenile Prison Industrial Complex!!!! Whoever thought people can be arrested over what we do privately with their boyfriends and girlfriends and in some cases looking at a few digital photos is all it takes to go to the slammer whether there is a harmful intent or not. That is why it is a popular method of setting somebody up and that is setting somebody up for child pornography charges because it is nearly impossible to get out of them and ruins their life and reputation. All of our activities whether it is posting photos of your family on Flickr, emails you receive and send, whatever documents and other files you create, being involved with non-mainstream religions whatever your beliefs are, being involved with hack tools, being involved with file-sharing or even downloading warez material, and any other digital activity ever conducted is all stored on the hard drive and impossible to completely erase by normal conventional erasing software. First method that can be used by the forensics team is simple software and MFT Data recovery tools to find all the files both deleted under the MFT and even data that is lost due to MFT corruption by seeking out the file type signature, every file type ever made has a distinct signature or header that identifies the file type, and recovering the data based on the signature. Second method that forensic technicians use is Magnetic Force Microscopy (MFM) and even Scanning Probe Microscopy (SPM) or even Magnetic Tunneling Microscopy (STM). No matter what method of recovery, magnetic recovery is the far worst privacy invasion since the leaks of classified government documents via Wikileaks. Peter Gutmann, the same Computer Science expert that created the Gutmann erasing method (35 passes overwrite) that is used in almost every hard drive erasing software not limited to Active@ Killdisk erasing tool, conducted a study and whitepaper titled “Secure Deletion of Data from Magnetic and Solid-State Memory” (PDF) which concluded that “it is effectively impossible to sanitize storage locations by simple overwriting them, no matter how many overwrite passes are made or what data patterns are written. However by using the relatively simple methods presented in this paper the task of an attacker can be made significantly more difficult, if not prohibitively expensive.” Of course with the SBI and FBI fueled with the need to be champions of justice they will spend lots of money to recover the erased data no matter how expensive it is since they can just take more and more tax payers money through the IRS thugs. Reminds me of that movie “No Way Out!” where a Pentagon high-up had a photo taken I think with some Russian spy and the photo was ruined but the Pentagon had a forensics method of restoring the photograph as evidence then used to prosecute him for possible espionage. I even heard that when the authorities take computers by a court order, they say that they can find anything on it, time stamps, your life history, all of your life ever on a computer, can be examined by the State Bureau of Investigation or even the Federal Bureau of Investigation via their crime labs. They can even plant material on the hard drive since it is pretty easy to manipulate the timestamps, hack somebodies password protected or even public Wifi, mix somebodies DNA with a rape and/or murder victim sample for analysis which the charges can only be thrown out with a very good alibi or getting the forensics expert to admit to setting somebody up which will never happen of course, and internet histories can be fabricated by altering the hex data and even with computer virtualization technologies such as VMWare and other tools. Heck look what they did to Brandon Raub for the crime of making 9/11 inside job and other political statements on his Facebook profile. People saying anything that possibly sounds like some threat against the US President warrants a secret service visit and could maybe even a hard drive seizure if they desire it. People should be concerned at the fact that hard drives, RAM Cards, and other memory storage devices were on purposely created to not only store your data but to also violate your privacy with a backdoor that can allow deleted and even erased (DOD, Russian Ghost, Gutmann, One Pass Zeros, One Pass Random, other erasing methods) data to be recovered and accessible. If that is not apart of a major spying surveillance system being set-up then what is? Windows saves all file accesses and program histories with MRU, and possible other file access histories of files opened up. Every web page visited whether encrypted or not saves information which piles up overtime when not deleted which can be impossible to get rid of without overwriting it in the exact same data spot with conventional files to overcome the MFM’s ability to recover data erased by conventional hard drive erasing procedures. The solution really is to be careful on anything you do in your computer and cell phone, be careful when your political because somebody from forensics can set you up for computer crimes or even of murder, and when erasing be aware that you have to copy all your normal everyday files into the hard drive after erasure for a best chance at destroying any chance of recovery of what data you were hoping to erase if that is even possible. Be aware that when your hard drive stores your personal information even after deletion and erasure then it is meant to keep your computer history stored for any police or government agency to look at will especially under the Patriot Act. Even when you delete you are not deleting the data but just a MFT reference to the file along with the timestamps. Of course when you erase with any pattern all the forensic has to do is figure out what erasing pattern you used and then start the recovering process through magnetic imaging of the drive disk platters. If anything when you first buy a computer your better off first-hand encrypting the entire hard drive with TrueCrypt’s System/Partition Encryption and use a very complex password so that on every bootup you can use a operating system that is more secure and when data is deleted or even erased it will be impossible to recover since MFM usually relies on unencrypted RAW Data and even if they tried to break the password to use forensics to find the deleted/erased file, it was erased on the encryption side which means just the encrypted data changes a bit and since that happens it didn’t disappear on the outside using a normal overwrite procedure so it is no doubt that having your entire operating system and hard drive encrypted would be the best practice to data security. As for your autistic children please for goodness sake use a filter software to block all forms of pornography so that your child doesn’t get caught then forced to go through hell just for getting a little too curious. As for any teenagers you raise in your family, please keep tabs on their cell phone so if they take any photos of themselves you can delete them to prevent your son and daughter from ending up on a sex offender registry. As for the average computer user this article serves as a warning to all of you that anything you do on your computer can be accessed and data profiles and histories are set up on everybody especially with Facebook and Twitter.

The American dream is dead

Debt is drowning the American Dream, U.S. borrowing and spending is at a crisis point:

Debt is drowning the American Dream

Debt is drowning the American Dream

U.S. government debt currently totals around $16 trillion. The Treasury estimates that this debt will rise to around $20 trillion by 2015, over 100% of America’s Gross Domestic Product. That’s not counting other current and contingent commitments not explicitly included in the debt figures — government support for Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae (known as government-sponsored enterprises) of over US$5 trillion and unfunded obligations of over $65 trillion for programs such as Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. State governments and municipalities have additional debt of around $3 trillion. As Pimco’s Bill Gross wryly observed: “What a good country or a good squirrel should be doing is stashing away nuts for the winter. The United States is not only not saving nuts, it’s eating the ones left over from the last winter.” U.S. public finances have deteriorated significantly in recent years. In 2001, the Congressional Budget Office forecast average annual surpluses of approximately $850 billion from 2009–2012, allowing Washington to pay off everything it owed. The surpluses never came. The federal government has run large annual budget deficits of around $1 trillion in recent years. The major drivers of this reversal of fortune include: tax revenue declines due to recessions; tax cuts; increased defense spending; non-defense spending; higher interest costs and the 2009 stimulus package. Despite growing concern about the sustainability of its debt levels, demand for Treasury securities from investors and other governments has continued. Domestic investment, primarily from banks, which are not lending but parking cash in government securities, has been strong. Foreign investors continue to seek U.S. bonds as a “safe haven” — driven by fears about the European debt crisis. Rates also remain low, allowing the U.S. to keep its interest bill manageable despite increases in debt levels. The government’s average interest rate on new borrowing is around 1%, with one-month Treasury bills paying 0.1% per year and 10-year Treasury notes yielding around 1.7%. The Fed’s’ successive quantitative easing programs have been pivotal in allowing the government to increase its debt levels. Around 70% of government bonds have been purchased by the Federal Reserve, as part of successive rounds of quantitative easing. The strategy has helped keep rates low, enabling the government to service its debt. Clearly, this current position is not sustainable. Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke told the House Financial Services Committee that the U.S. faces a debt crisis: “It’s not something that is 10 years away. It affects the markets currently…It is possible that the bond market will become worried about the sustainability [of deficits over $1 trillion] and we may find ourselves facing higher interest rates even today.” Unless the underlying debt levels and budget deficits are dealt with, the ability of the U.S. to finance itself will deteriorate. The Treasury must issue large amounts of debt almost continuously — weekly auctions regularly clock in at $50-$70 billion — amounts unimaginable just a few years ago. The solution lies in bringing budget deficits down, through spending cuts, tax increases or a mixture of approaches. From any angle, the task is Herculean. Government revenues would need to increase by 20%-30% — or spending would need to be cut by a similar amount

 

U.S. Scientist Trapped in China

 

U.S. Scientist Trapped in China, and He’s Not the Only One, U.S. Says:

U.S. Scientist Trapped in China, and He's Not the Only One, U.S. Says:

U.S. Scientist Trapped in China, and He’s Not the Only One, U.S. Says:

In the year-plus since he was released from jail, scientist Hu Zhicheng has been free, free to drive from his Shanghai apartment to his office two hours away, free to get acupuncture treatment for chronic back pain, free except to leave China and rejoin his family in America. Twice Hu went to airports to board flights out of China only to be turned back by border control officers. A China-born U.S. citizen and award-winning inventor of emission control systems for autos, Hu has written to the police who investigated him for infringing commercial secrets and met with the prosecutors who dropped the charges for lack of evidence. Yet he has not been allowed to leave — nor told why. “My priority is to go home and be with my family,” said Hu, slight, soft-spoken and reserved. “I know how much they have suffered.” Writ large, Hu’s case shows the pitfalls that Chinese who study and work in the West face when they return to apply their entrepreneurial zeal to the booming China market. Trade disputes that would be civil suits in the West become criminal cases in China. Chinese companies often cultivate influence with local officials and thus may rally law enforcement and a malleable legal system to their side when deals go awry. In Hu’s case, he and his wife believe that the company which accused him of secrets theft persuaded authorities to keep the travel ban in place. In China, sometimes punishment goes on even when the law says stop. Police in the eastern port of Tianjin where the dispute occurred said its case against Hu was closed long ago. The city’s prosecutors office did not answer questions about the case, nor did the company, Hysci (Tianjin) Specialty Materials Co. Both said the senior officials knowledgeable about the affair were away. With no apparent charges or investigation pending, lawyers said Hu should be free to go abroad under Chinese law. For Hu, it has been a nearly three-year ordeal, from the 17 months spent in a 20-to-30-inmate group cell in a Tianjin jail to an equally lengthy time since his release. “Even though technically he’s not a prisoner any more, he still is. The prison is a little bigger,” said a U.S. diplomat familiar with the case. The separation and uncertainty have taken a toll on him and his family. His wife has battled insomnia and left needed repairs to their Los Angeles area home go undone while she frets. Their daughter wrote her college admissions test essay on her father’s troubles. Now a student at University of California, Berkeley, she visited him in Shanghai last July — the only family member to see him — and launched an Internet petition to bring him home. His son, 13 when they last met, is growing up without him. “I haven’t seen him in three years. Then he was up to my chest,” the 49-year-old Hu said holding his hand mid-sternum. “Now he’s about six feet tall,” he said, removing his wire-rimmed glasses and turning his head to cry during a recent interview with The Associated Press in a Beijing coffee shop. A few reports about Hu’s situation have surfaced in Chinese-language media. Since his release, he and wife Hong Li refused repeated requests for interviews, hoping that quiet lobbying of Chinese and U.S. officials would bring him home. Their frustration growing, Hu agreed to be interviewed, providing the fullest account of his predicament. “My life is miserable. What do they want from me?” said Hu. The U.S. Embassy in Beijing said it has asked China’s foreign ministry and a phalanx of Tianjin politicians and agencies for help and the reasons for Hu’s travel ban to no result. There are other cases like Hu’s, the embassy said, without specifying how many. An acclaimed inventor of catalysts — chemical agents that speed up or slow reactions — for automobile catalytic converters, Hu has nine U.S. patents to his name and dozens more in Europe and elsewhere. He spent 20 years abroad doing research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and working for multinationals such as Engelhard Corp. in New Jersey. Among his breakthroughs: a catalyst that gives sports utility vehicles pollution controls comparable to sedans. He left that in 2004 to return to his native China along with his family and grab opportunities in a rocketing Chinese auto market that was short of experienced innovators. “It was really quite simple. In the U.S. the air quality is generally good — blue skies. In China you rarely see blue skies. So cleaning up the pollution would be much more effective, much more meaningful,” said Hu. His wife, Hong Li, holds a doctorate in mechanical engineering and set up a company to supply materials for catalytic converters to Wuxi Weifu Environmental Catalysts Co., a local company near Shanghai trying to build top-grade equipment to supplant foreign imports. In 2006, when a noncompete agreement with Engelhard lapsed, Hu became chief scientist, and later president, for Wuxi Weifu. Soon the dispute surfaced with Hysci (Tianjin) Specialty Materials Co., which had ties to Hu and Li. Hysci was a supplier to Engelhard, recommended by a team Hu led to China in 2000, and its chairman Zhou Jun was a university classmate of Li’s. Hysci accused Hu of pilfering a process to make a zirconium catalyst and providing that information to Li’s company, a competitor, according to an open letter to Tianjin authorities that she posted on Sina Corporation’s popular Internet portal in March 2010. By late 2007, signs of trouble grew. Tianjin police repeatedly showed up at Hu’s offices in Wuxi 600 miles (1,000 kilometers) to the south. A legal adviser warned him that the accusations may lead to criminal charges. He moved his family back to Los Angeles. “I saw the risks,” Hu said. “The police kept coming. When my colleagues saw the police, they got scared.” Hu and Li say Hysci’s business had fizzled and was losing customers while chairman Zhou squabbled with chief executive Dou Shuhua, a farmer-turned-entrepreneur and well-connected politically in Tianjin. A bank account belonging to Li’s business remains frozen by Tianjin police, and she has not returned to China. While Hu waited in detention, Tianjin’s No. 2 Intermediate Court batted the case back to investigators for more evidence before approving prosecutors’ request to withdraw the case on April 29, 2010. Ten days later, escorted by two U.S. Embassy officials, Hu made his first aborted trip to the airport. “The border police in Beijing airport said ‘Contact the Tianjin police detectives in charge of your case,'” Hu recounted. The scene was repeated three months later, though without the U.S. officials, when he went to board a Hong Kong-bound flight in Wuxi, he said. Left in limbo, Hu has been consumed with trying to find out why he cannot leave and with seeking treatment for a herniated disc in his spine, a problem that arose soon after he left jail. He feels outmatched by a well-connected local company, having lived outside China for so long and having failed to cultivate the contacts Chinese prize for smoothing business. “I’m used to the U.S. and following the laws,” Hu said. “Clearly China is a different place.”

U.S. Waterboarding Evidence Shows Widespread Torture

 

U.S. Waterboarding Evidence Shows More Widespread Torture, Says Human Rights Watch:

 U.S. Waterboarding Evidence Shows More Widespread Torture, Says Human Rights Watch


U.S. Waterboarding Evidence Shows More Widespread Torture, Says Human Rights Watch

Human Rights Watch said it has uncovered evidence of a wider use of waterboarding than previously acknowledged by the CIA, in a report Thursday detailing brutal treatment of detainees at U.S.-run lockups abroad after the 9/11 attacks. The accounts by two former Libyan detainees who said they underwent simulated drowning emerge only days after the Justice Department closed its investigation of the CIA’s use of severe interrogation methods. Investigators said they could not prove any agents crossed the lines authorized by the Bush administration in the “war on terror” program of detention and rendition. Any new instances of waterboarding, however, would go beyond the three that the CIA has said were authorized. The 154-page report features interviews by the New York-based group with 14 Libyan dissident exiles. They describe systematic abuses while they were held in U.S.-led detention centers in Afghanistan – some as long as two years – or in U.S.-led interrogations in Pakistan, Morocco, Thailand, Sudan and elsewhere before the Americans handed them over to Libya. The report also paints a more complete picture of Washington’s close cooperation with the regime of Libya’s former dictator Moammar Gadhafi. Islamist opponents of Gadhafi detained by the U.S. were handed over to Libya with only thin “diplomatic assurances” they would be properly treated, and several of them were subsequently tortured, Human Rights Watch said. “Not only did the U.S. deliver (Gadhafi) his enemies on a silver platter, but it seems the CIA tortured many of them first, said Laura Pitter, counterterrorism adviser at Human Rights Watch and author of the report. “The scope of the Bush administration abuse appears far broader than previously acknowledged,” she said.  Asked about the new waterboarding claim, CIA spokeswoman Jennifer Youngblood said the agency “has been on the record that there are three substantiated cases” of its use. She said she could not comment on the specific allegations but noted the Justice Department’s decision not to prosecute after it “exhaustively reviewed the treatment of more than 100 detainees in the post-9/11 period – including allegations involving unauthorized interrogation techniques.” Former President George W. Bush, his Vice President Dick Cheney and the CIA have said that waterboarding was used only on three senior al-Qaida suspects at secret CIA black sites in Thailand and Poland – Khaled Sheikh Mohammed, Aby Zubayda and Abd al-Rahman al-Nashiri, all currently being held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The technique involves pouring water on a hooded detainee’s nose and mouth until he feels he is drowning. Rights groups and some Obama administration officials say waterboarding and other severe techniques authorized by the CIA constitute torture, while Bush administration officials argue they do not. The Obama administration has ordered a halt to waterboarding and many of the harsh techniques. The 14 Libyans interviewed by Human Rights Watch were swept up in the American hunt for Islamic militants and al-Qaida figures around the world after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. They were mostly members of the anti-Gadhafi Libyan Islamic Fighting Group who fled in the 1980s and 1990s to Pakistan, Afghanistan and African countries. The group ran training camps in Afghanistan at the same time al-Qaida was based there but it largely shunned Osama bin Laden and his campaign against the United States, focusing instead on fighting Gadhafi. Ironically, the U.S. turned around and helped the Libyan opposition overthrow Gadhafi in 2011. Now several of the 14 former detainees hold positions in the new Libyan government. The accounts of simulated drowning came from Mohammed al-Shoroeiya and Khaled al-Sharif, who also described a gamut of abuses they went through – all reflecting the methods known to have been authorized by the CIA. The two were seized in Pakistan in April 2003 and taken to U.S.-run prisons in Afghanistan, where al-Shoroeiya was held for 16 months and al-Sharif for two years before they were handed over to Libya. In Afghanistan, they were shackled in cells for months in variety of positions, often naked in almost total darkness with music blaring continuously, left to defecate and urinate on themselves. For example, al-Sharif spent three weeks seated on the ground with his ankles and wrists chained to a ring in the cell’s wall, forcing him to keep his arms and legs elevated. He said he was taken out of his shackles once a day for a half-hour to eat. For the first three months, they were not allowed to bathe. “We looked like monsters,” al-Shoroeiya said. Al-Shoroeiya described being locked naked for a day and a half in a tall, tight, half-meter-wide (1 1/2-foot-wide) chamber with his hands chained above his head, with no food as Western music blasted loudly from speakers next to his ears the entire time. At another point, he was stuffed into a box resembling a footlocker, about 1 meter by 1 meter (3 feet by 3 feet), and kept there for more than an hour as interrogators prodded him with long, thin objects through holes in the side of the box. Both he and Sharif said they were repeatedly taken to a room where they were slammed against a wooden wall and punched in the abdomen. Al-Shoroeiya said one female American interrogator told him, “Now you are under the custody of the United States of America. In this place there will be no human rights. Since September 11, we have forgotten about something called human rights,” according to the report. Al-Shoroeiya described being waterboarded, though he did not use the term. He said he was put in a hood and strapped upside down on a wooden board. Freezing water was poured over his nose and mouth until he felt he was suffocating. During several half-hour interrogation sessions, they would waterboard him multiple times, asking him questions in between while a doctor monitored his body temperature. “They wouldn’t stop until they got some sort of answer from me,” he told HRW. Al-Sharif described a similar technique. Instead of being strapped to a board, he was put on a plastic sheet with guards holding up the edges, while freezing water was poured over him, including onto his hooded face directly over his mouth and nose. “I felt as if I were suffocating,” he told HRW. “I spent three months getting interrogated heavily … and they gave me a different kind of torture every day. Sometimes they used water, sometimes not.” Others of the 14 former detainees, including three held in the same U.S.-led prisons in Afghanistan, described similar treatment as al-Shoroeiya and al-Sharif, though not simulated drowning. One of them, Majid Mokhtar Sasy al-Maghrebi, said he nearly went insane in isolation after months being shackled naked in dark, freezing cells with music blaring, pounding his head against the wall and screaming, “I want to die, why don’t you just kill me?” Another, detained in Mauritania, said that during interrogations by a foreigner he believed was American, his wife was brought to the detention center; his captors showed him his wife through a peephole and threatened to rape her if he did not cooperate. Human Rights Watch said the U.S. failed in its post-9/11 campaign to distinguish between Islamists targeting the United States and those who “may simply have been engaged in armed opposition against their own repressive regimes. “This failure risked aligning the United States with brutal dictators,” the report said. Eight of those interviewed were handed over to Libya in 2004 – the same year then-British Prime Minister Tony Blair made a public rapprochement with Gadhafi and Anglo-Dutch oil giant Shell signed a major exploration deal off the Libyan coast, the HRW report noted. The remaining six were transferred to Libya over the two following years. All were jailed by Gadhafi’s regime, most freed only after his fall. Most said they were not physically tortured – perhaps a result of Gadhafi’s attempts to mend fences with the West – but were kept in solitary confinement for long periods. Several, however, told HRW they were beaten and tortured, including being given electrical shocks. The report also calls into question Libyan claims that one figure handed over by the Americans, Ibn el-Sheikh al-Libi, committed suicide in a Libyan prison. Al-Libi was held in U.S. secret prisons for years and gave information under torture by the Egyptians that the Bush administration used to justify the 2003 invasion of Iraq but was later discredited. After his handover, Libyan authorities said he hanged himself in his cell. But HRW researchers said they were shown photos of his body that showed signs of torture. Messages to Libya from the CIA and British intelligence among the Tripoli Documents published by HRW indicated the United States and Britain were eager to help Libya obtain several senior LIFG figures, including its co-founders, Abdel-Hakim Belhaj and Sami al-Saadi. Belhaj and his then-pregnant wife were detained by Malaysia in 2004 with the help of British intelligence and then handed over to the CIA in Thailand, where he told HRW he was stripped and beaten. They were then taken to Libya, where Belhaj was imprisoned. After Belhaj arrived in Libya, a message believed to be from the then-head of counterterrorism at British intelligence congratulates the Libyan intelligence chief. Britain’s help “was the least we could do for you and for Libya to demonstrate the remarkable relationship we have built,” he wrote.

U.S. troop suicide one a day in 2012

 

Suicides among U.S. troops averaging one a day in 2012:

Suicides among U.S. troops averaging one a day in 2012

Suicides among U.S. troops averaging one a day in 2012

Suicides are surging among America’s troops, averaging nearly one a day this year — the fastest pace in the nation’s decade of war. The 154 suicides for active-duty troops in the first 155 days of the year far outdistance the U.S. forces killed in action in Afghanistan — about 50% more — according to Pentagon statistics obtained by the Associated Press. The numbers reflect a military burdened with wartime demands from Iraq and Afghanistan that have taken a greater toll than foreseen a decade ago. The military also is struggling with increased sexual assaults, alcohol abuse, domestic violence and other misbehavior. Because suicides had leveled off in 2010 and 2011, this year’s upswing has caught some officials by surprise. The reasons for the increase are not fully understood. Among explanations, studies have pointed to combat exposure, post-traumatic stress, misuse of prescription medications and personal financial problems. Army data suggest soldiers with multiple combat tours are at greater risk of committing suicide, although a substantial proportion of Army suicides are committed by soldiers who never deployed. The unpopular war in Afghanistan is winding down with the last combat troops scheduled to leave at the end of 2014. But this year has seen record numbers of soldiers being killed by Afghan troops, and there also have been several scandals involving U.S. troop misconduct. The 2012 active-duty suicide total of 154 through June 3 compares to 130 in the same period last year, an 18% increase. And it’s more than the 136.2 suicides that the Pentagon had projected for this period based on the trend from 2001-2011. This year’s January-May total is up 25% from two years ago, and it is 16% ahead of the pace for 2009, which ended with the highest yearly total thus far. Suicide totals have exceeded U.S. combat deaths in Afghanistan in earlier periods, including for the full years 2008 and 2009. The suicide pattern varies over the course of a year, but in each of the past five years the trend through May was a reliable predictor for the full year, according to a chart based on figures provided by the Armed Forces Medical Examiner. The numbers are rising among the 1.4 million active-duty military personnel despite years of effort to encourage troops to seek help with mental health problems. Many in the military believe that going for help is seen as a sign of weakness and thus a potential threat to advancement. Kim Ruocco, widow of Marine Maj. John Ruocco, a helicopter pilot who hanged himself in 2005 between Iraq deployments, said he was unable to bring himself to go for help. “He was so afraid of how people would view him once he went for help,” she said in an interview at her home in suburban Boston. “He thought that people would think he was weak, that people would think he was just trying to get out of redeploying or trying to get out of service, or that he just couldn’t hack it — when, in reality, he was sick. He had suffered injury in combat and he had also suffered from depression and let it go untreated for years. And because of that, he’s dead today.” Ruocco is currently director of suicide prevention programs for the military support organization Tragedy Assistance Programs, or TAPS. She joined the group after her husband’s suicide, and she organized its first program focused on support for families of suicide victims. Jackie Garrick, head of a newly established Defense Suicide Prevention Office at the Pentagon, said in an interview Thursday that the suicide numbers this year are troubling. “We are very concerned at this point that we are seeing a high number of suicides at a point in time where we were expecting to see a lower number of suicides,” she said, adding that the weak U.S. economy may be confounding preventive efforts even as the pace of military deployments eases. Garrick said experts are still struggling to understand suicidal behavior. “What makes one person become suicidal and another not is truly an unknown,” she said. Dr. Stephen N. Xenakis, a retired Army brigadier general and a practicing psychiatrist, said the suicides reflect the level of tension as the U.S. eases out of Afghanistan though violence continues. “It’s a sign in general of the stress the Army has been under over the 10 years of war,” he said in an interview. “We’ve seen before that these signs show up even more dramatically when the fighting seems to go down and the Army is returning to garrison.” But Xenakis said he worries that many senior military officers do not grasp the nature of the suicide problem. A glaring example of that became public when a senior Army general recently told soldiers considering suicide to “act like an adult.” Maj. Gen. Dana Pittard, commander of the 1st Armored Division, last month retracted — but did not apologize for — a statement in his Army blog in January. He had written, “I have now come to the conclusion that suicide is an absolutely selfish act.” He also wrote, “”I am personally fed up with soldiers who are choosing to take their own lives so that others can clean up their mess. Be an adult, act like an adult, and deal with your real-life problems like the rest of us.” He did also counsel soldiers to seek help. His remarks drew a public rebuke from the Army, which has the highest number of suicides and called his assertions “clearly wrong.” Last week the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, said he disagrees with Pittard “in the strongest possible terms.” The military services have set up confidential telephone hotlines, placed more mental health specialists on the battlefield, added training in stress management, invested more in research on mental health risk and taken other measures. The Marines established a counseling service dubbed “DStress line,” a toll-free number that troubled Marines can call anonymously. They also can use a Marine website to chat online anonymously with a counselor. The Marines arguably have had the most success recently in lowering their suicide numbers, which are up slightly this year but are roughly in line with levels of the past four years. The Army’s numbers also are up slightly. The Air Force has seen a spike, to 32 through June 3 compared to 23 at the same point last year. The Navy is slightly above its 10-year trend line but down a bit from 2011. As part of its prevention strategy, the Navy has published a list of “truths” about suicide. “Most suicidal people are not psychotic or insane,” it says. “They might be upset, grief-stricken, depressed or despairing.” In a report published in January, the Army said the true impact of its prevention programs is unknown. “What is known is that all Army populations … are under increased stress after a decade of war,” it said, adding that if not for prevention efforts the Army’s suicide totals might have been as much as four times as high. Marine Sgt. Maj. Bryan Battaglia, the senior enlisted adviser to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, recently issued a video message to all military members in which he noted that suicides “are sadly on the rise.” “From private to general, we shoulder an obligation to look and listen for signs and we stand ready to intervene and assist our follow service member or battle buddy in time of need,” Battaglia said. The suicide numbers began surging in 2006. They soared in 2009 and then leveled off before climbing again this year. The statistics include only active-duty troops, not veterans who returned to civilian life after fighting in Iraq or Afghanistan. Nor does the Pentagon’s tally include non-mobilized National Guard or Reserve members. The renewed surge in suicides has caught the attention of Defense Secretary Leon Panetta. Last month he sent an internal memo to the Pentagon’s top civilian and military leaders in which he called suicide “one of the most complex and urgent problems” facing the Defense Department, according to a copy provided to the AP. Panetta touched on one of the most sensitive aspects of the problem: the stigma associated seeking help for mental distress. This is particularly acute in the military. “We must continue to fight to eliminate the stigma from those with post-traumatic stress and other mental health issues,” Panetta wrote, adding that commanders “cannot tolerate any actions that belittle, haze, humiliate or ostracize any individual, especially those who require or are responsibly seeking professional services.”