Saturday, August 17, 2013

Ripping Off Young America: The College-Loan Scandal

By 


On May 31st, president Barack Obama strolled into the bright sunlight of the Rose Garden, covered from head to toe in the slime and ooze of the Benghazi and IRS scandals. In a Karl Rove-ian masterstroke, he simply pretended they weren't there and changed the subject.

The topic? Student loans. Unless Congress took action soon, he warned, the relatively low 3.4 percent interest rates on key federal student loans would double. Obama knew the Republicans would make a scene over extending the subsidized loan program, and that he could corner them into looking like obstructionist meanies out to snatch the lollipop of higher education from America's youth. "We cannot price the middle class or folks who are willing to work hard to get into the middle class," he said sternly, "out of a college education."
Flash-forward through a few months of brinkmanship and name-calling, and not only is nobody talking about the IRS anymore, but the Republicans and Democrats are snuggled in bed together on the student-loan thing, having hatched a quick-fix plan on July 31st to peg interest rates to Treasury rates, ensuring the rate for undergrads would only rise to 3.86 percent for the coming year.
Though this was just the thinnest of temporary solutions – Congressional Budget Office projections predicted interest rates on undergraduate loans under the new plan would still rise as high as 7.25 percent within five years, while graduate loans could reach an even more ridiculous 8.8 percent – the jobholders on Capitol Hill couldn't stop congratulating themselves for their "rare" "feat" of bipartisan cooperation. "This proves Washington can work," clucked House Republican Luke Messer of Indiana, in a typically autoerotic assessment of the work done by Beltway pols like himself who were now freed up for their August vacations.
Not only had the president succeeded in moving the goal posts on his spring scandals, he'd teamed up with the Republicans to perpetuate a long-standing deception about the education issue: that the student-loan controversy is now entirely about interest rates and/or access to school loans.
Obama had already set himself up as a great champion of student rights by taking on banks and greedy lenders like Sallie Mae. Three years earlier, he'd scored what at the time looked like a major victory over the Republicans with a transformative plan to revamp the student-loan industry. The 2010 bill mostly eliminated private banks and lenders from the federal student-loan business. Henceforth, the government would lend college money directly to students, with no middlemen taking a cut. The president insisted the plan would eliminate waste and promised to pass the savings along to students in the form of more college and university loans, including $36 billion in new Pell grants over 10 years for low-income students. Republican senator and former Secretary of Education Lamar Alexander bashed the move as "another Washington takeover."
The thing is, none of it – not last month's deal, not Obama's 2010 reforms – mattered that much. No doubt, seeing rates double permanently would genuinely have sucked for many students, so it was nice to avoid that. And yes, it was theoretically beneficial when Obama took banks and middlemen out of the federal student-loan game. But the dirty secret of American higher education is that student-loan interest rates are almost irrelevant. It's not the cost of the loan that's the problem, it's the principal – the appallingly high tuition costs that have been soaring at two to three times the rate of inflation, an irrational upward trajectory eerily reminiscent of skyrocketing housing prices in the years before 2008.


How is this happening? It's complicated. But throw off the mystery and what you'll uncover is a shameful and oppressive outrage that for years now has been systematically perpetrated against a generation of young adults. For this story, I interviewed people who developed crippling mental and physical conditions, who considered suicide, who had to give up hope of having children, who were forced to leave the country, or who even entered a life of crime because of their student debts.
They all take responsibility for their own mistakes. They know they didn't arrive at gorgeous campuses for four golden years of boozing, balling and bong hits by way of anybody's cattle car. But they're angry, too, and they should be. Because the underlying cause of all that later-life distress and heartache – the reason they carry such crushing, life-alteringly huge college debt – is that our university-tuition system really is exploitative and unfair, designed primarily to benefit two major actors.
First in line are the colleges and universities, and the contractors who build their extravagant athletic complexes, hotel-like dormitories and God knows what other campus embellishments. For these little regional economic empires, the federal student-loan system is essentially a massive and ongoing government subsidy, once funded mostly by emotionally vulnerable parents, but now increasingly paid for in the form of federally backed loans to a political constituency – low- and middle-income students – that has virtually no lobby in Washington.
Next up is the government itself. While it's not commonly discussed on the Hill, the government actually stands to make an enormous profit on the president's new federal student-loan system, an estimated $184 billion over 10 years, a boondoggle paid for by hyperinflated tuition costs and fueled by a government-sponsored predatory-lending program that makes even the most ruthless private credit-card company seem like a "Save the Panda" charity. Why is this happening? The answer lies in a sociopathic marriage of private-sector greed and government force that will make you shake your head in wonder at the way modern America sucks blood out of its young.
In the early 2000s, a thirtysomething scientist named Alan Collinge seemed to be going places. He had graduated from USC in 1999 with a degree in aerospace engineering and landed a research job at Caltech. Then he made a mistake: He asked for a raise, didn't get it, lost his job and soon found himself underemployed and with no way to repay the roughly $38,000 in loans he'd taken out to get his degree.
Collinge's creditor, Sallie Mae, which originally had been a quasi-public institution but, in the late Nineties, had begun transforming into a wholly private lender, didn't answer his requests for a forbearance or a restructuring. So in 2001, he went into default. Soon enough, his original $38,000 loan had ballooned to more than $100,000 in debt, thanks to fees, penalties and accrued interest. He had a job as a military contractor, but he lost it when his employer ran a credit check on him. His whole life was now about his student debt.
Collinge became so upset that, while sitting on a buddy's couch in Tacoma, Washington, one night in 2005 and nursing a bottle of Jack Daniel's, he swore that he'd see Sallie Mae on 60 Minutes if it was the last thing he did. In what has to be a first in the history of drunken bullshitting, it actually happened. "Lo and behold, I ended up being featured on 60 Minutes within about a year," he says. In 2006, he got to tell his debt story to Lesley Stahl for a piece on Sallie Mae's draconian lending tactics that, curiously enough, Sallie Mae itself refused to be interviewed for.
From that point forward, Collinge – who founded the website StudentLoanJustice.org – became what he calls "a complaint box for the industry." He heard thousands of horror stories from people like himself, and over the course of many years began to wonder more and more about one particular recurring theme, what he calls "the really significant thing – the sticker price." Why was college so expensive?
Read more here: http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/ripping-off-young-america-the-college-loan-scandal-20130815#ixzz2cIKcLPdJ


Follow us @ asheepnomore.net and facebook.com/asheepnomore

Fukushima apocalypse: Years of ‘duct tape fixes’ could result in ‘millions of deaths’



Damaged Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) number 1 daiichi nuclear power plant at Okuma town in Fukushima prefecture (AFP Photo)
Damaged Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) number 1 daiichi nuclear power plant at Okuma town in Fukushima prefecture (AFP Photo)
Fukushima operator TEPCO wants to extract 400 tons worth of spent fuel rods stored in a pool at the plant’s damaged Reactor No. 4. The removal would have to be done manually from the top store of the damaged building in the radiation-contaminated environment.Even the tiniest mistake during an operation to extract over 1,300 fuel rods at the crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant in Japan could lead to a series of cascading failures with an apocalyptic outcome, fallout researcher Christina Consolo told RT.
In the worst-case scenario, a mishandled rod may go critical, resulting in an above-ground meltdown releasing radioactive fallout with no way to stop it, said Consolo, who is the founder and host of Nuked Radio. But leaving the things as they are is not an option, because statistical risk of a similarly bad outcome increases every day, she said.
RT: How serious is the fuel rod situation compared to the danger of contaminated water build-up which we already know about?
Christina Consolo: Although fuel rod removal happens on a daily basis at the 430+ nuclear sites around the world, it is a very delicate procedure even under the best of circumstances. What makes fuel removal at Fukushima so dangerous and complex is that it will be attempted on a fuel pool whose integrity has been severely compromised. However, it must be attempted as Reactor 4 has the most significant problems structurally, and this pool is on the top floor of the building.
There are numerous other reasons that this will be a dangerous undertaking.
- The racks inside the pool that contain this fuel were damaged by the explosion in the early days of the accident. 
- Zirconium cladding which encased the rods burned when water levels dropped, but to what extent the rods have been damaged is not known, and probably won't be until removal is attempted. 
- Saltwater cooling has caused corrosion of the pool walls, and probably the fuel rods and racks. 
- The building is sinking. 
- The cranes that normally lift the fuel were destroyed. 
- Computer-guided removal will not be possible; everything will have to be done manually. 
- TEPCO cannot attempt this process without humans, which will manage this enormous task while being bombarded with radiation during the extraction and casking. 
- The process of removing each rod will have to be repeated over 1,300 times without incident. 
- Moving damaged nuclear fuel under such complex conditions could result in a criticality if the rods come into close proximity to one another, which would then set off a chain reaction that cannot be stopped.
What could potentially happen is the contents of the pool could burn and/or explode, and the entire structure sustain further damage or collapse. This chain reaction process could be self-sustaining and go on for a long time. This is the apocalyptic scenario in a nutshell.
The water build-up is an extraordinarily difficult problem in and of itself, and as anyone with a leaky basement knows, water always 'finds a way.’

'Trivial in light of other problems at Fukushima, water situation could culminate in the chain reaction scenario'

At Fukushima, they are dealing with massive amounts of groundwater that flow through the property, and the endless pouring that must be kept up 24/7/365 to keep things from getting worse. Recently there appears to be subsidence issues and liquefaction under the plant.
TEPCO has decided to pump the water out of these buildings. However, pumping water out of the buildings is only going to increase the flow rate and create more of these ground issues around the reactors. An enormous undertaking - but one that needs to be considered for long-term preservation of the integrity of the site - is channelling the water away, like a drain tile installed around the perimeter of a house with a leaky basement, but on an epic scale.
Without this effort, the soils will further deteriorate, structural shift will occur, and subsequently the contents of the pools will shift too. 
The damage to TEPCO's No.1 Fukushima nuclear power plant's third reactor building in the town of Okuma, Fubata district in Fukushima prefecture (AFP Photo)
The damage to TEPCO's No.1 Fukushima nuclear power plant's third reactor building in the town of Okuma, Fubata district in Fukushima prefecture (AFP Photo)


Any water that flows into those buildings also becomes highly radioactive, as it is likely coming into contact with melted fuel.
Without knowing the extent of the current liquefaction and its location, the location of the melted fuel, how long TEPCO has been pumping out water, or when the next earthquake will hit, it is impossible to predict how soon this could occur from the water problem/subsidence issue alone. But undoubtedly, pumping water out of the buildings is just encouraging the flow, and this water problem needs to be remedied and redirected as soon as possible.
RT: Given all the complications that could arise with extracting the fuel rods, which are the most serious, in your opinion?
CC: The most serious complication would be anything that leads to a nuclear chain reaction. And as outlined above, there are many different ways this could occur. In a fuel pool containing damaged rods and racks, it could potentially start up on its own at anytime. TEPCO has been incredibly lucky that this hasn't happened so far.

'One of the worst, but most important jobs anyone has ever had to do'

My second biggest concern would be the physical and mental fitness of the workers that will be in such close proximity to exposed fuel during this extraction process. They will be the ones guiding this operation, and will need to be in the highest state of alertness to have any chance at all of executing this plan manually and successfully. Many of their senses, most importantly eyesight, will be hindered by the apparatus that will need to be worn during their exposure, to prevent immediate death from lifting compromised fuel rods out of the pool and placing them in casks, or in the common spent fuel pool located a short distance away.
Think for a moment what that might be like through the eyes of one of these workers; it will be hot, uncomfortable, your senses shielded, and you would be filled with anxiety. You are standing on a building that is close to collapse. Even with the strongest protection possible, workers will have to be removed and replaced often. So you don't have the benefit of doing such a critical task and knowing and trusting your comrades, as they will frequently have to be replaced when their radiation dose limits are reached. If they exhibit physical or mental signs of radiation exposure, they will have be replaced more often.
The stricken Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) Fukushima daiichi No.1 nuclear power plant reactor number three (L) and four (R), with smoke rising from number three at Okuma town in Fukushima prefecture (AFP Photo)
The stricken Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) Fukushima daiichi No.1 nuclear power plant reactor number three (L) and four (R), with smoke rising from number three at Okuma town in Fukushima prefecture (AFP Photo)

It will be one of the worst, but most important jobs anyone has ever had to do. And even if executed flawlessly, there are still many things that could go wrong. 
RT: How do the potential consequences of failure to ensure safe extraction compare to other disasters of the sort – like Chernobyl, or the 2011 Fukushima meltdown?
CC: There really is no comparison. This will be an incredibly risky operation, in the presence of an enormous amount of nuclear material in close proximity. And as we have seen in the past, one seemingly innocuous failure at the site often translates into a series of cascading failures.

'The site has been propped up with duct tape and a kick-stand for over two years' 

Many of their 'fixes' are only temporary, as there are so many issues to address, and cost always seems to be an enormous factor in what gets implemented and what doesn't.
As a comparison: Chernobyl was one reactor, in a rural area, a quarter of the size of one of the reactors at Fukushima. There was no 'spent fuel pool' to worry about. Chernobyl was treated in-situ...meaning everything was pretty much left where it was while the effort to contain it was made (and very expeditiously I might add) not only above ground, but below ground.
At Fukushima, we have six top-floor pools all loaded with fuel that eventually will have to be removed, the most important being Reactor 4, although Reactor 3 is in pretty bad shape too. Spent fuel pools were never intended for long-term storage, they were only to assist short-term movement of fuel. Using them as a long-term storage pool is a huge mistake that has become an 'acceptable' practice and repeated at every reactor site worldwide. 
A destroyed building of TEPCO's Fukushima Daiichi (No. 1) atomic power plant at Okuma town in Fukushima prefecture (AFP Photo)
A destroyed building of TEPCO's Fukushima Daiichi (No. 1) atomic power plant at Okuma town in Fukushima prefecture (AFP Photo)

We have three 100-ton melted fuel blobs underground, but where exactly they are located, no one knows. Whatever 'barriers' TEPCO has put in place so far have failed. Efforts to decontaminate radioactive water have failed. Robots have failed. Camera equipment and temperature gauges...failed. Decontamination of surrounding cities has failed. 

'If and when the corium reaches the Tokyo aquifer, serious and expedient discussions will have to take place about evacuating 40 million people'

We have endless releases into the Pacific Ocean that will be ongoing for not only our lifetimes, but our children’s' lifetimes. We have 40 million people living in the Tokyo area nearby. We have continued releases from the underground corium that reminds us it is there occasionally with steam events and huge increases in radiation levels. Across the Pacific, we have at least two peer-reviewed scientific studies so far that have already provided evidence of increased mortality in North America, and thyroid problems in infants on the west coast states from our initial exposures.
We have increasing contamination of the food chain, through bioaccumulation and biomagnification. And a newly stated concern is the proximity of melted fuel in relation to the Tokyo aquifer that extends under the plant. If and when the corium reaches the Tokyo aquifer, serious and expedient discussions will have to take place about evacuating 40 million people from the greater metropolitan area. As impossible as this sounds, you cannot live in an area which does not have access to safe water.
The operation to begin removing fuel from such a severely damaged pool has never been attempted before. The rods are unwieldy and very heavy, each one weighing two-thirds of a ton. But it has to be done, unless there is some way to encase the entire building in concrete with the pool as it is. I don't know of anyone discussing that option, but it would seem much 'safer' than what they are about to attempt...but not without its own set of risks.
And all this collateral damage will continue for decades, if not centuries, even if things stay exactly the way they are now. But that is unlikely, as bad things happen like natural disasters and deterioration with time...earthquakes, subsidence, and corrosion, to name a few. Every day that goes by, the statistical risk increases for this apocalyptic scenario. No one can say or know how this will play out, except that millions of people will probably die even if things stay exactly as they are, and billions could die if things get any worse.
Workers spraying resin on the ground near the reactor buildings to protect the spread of radioactive substances at TEPCO's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant at Okuma town in Fukushima prefecture (AFP Photo)
Workers spraying resin on the ground near the reactor buildings to protect the spread of radioactive substances at TEPCO's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant at Okuma town in Fukushima prefecture (AFP Photo)

RT: Are the fuel rods in danger of falling victim to other factors, while the extraction process is ongoing? After all, it’s expected to take years before all 1,300+ rods are pulled out.
CC: Unfortunately yes, the fuel rods are in danger every day they remain in the pool. The more variables you add to this equation, and the more time that passes, the more risk you are exposed to. Each reactor and spent fuel pool has its own set of problems, and critical failure with any of them could ultimately have the end result of an above-ground, self-sustaining nuclear reaction. It will not be known if extraction of all the fuel will even be possible, as some of it may be severely damaged, until the attempt is made to remove it.
RT: Finally, what is the worst case scenario? What level of contamination are we looking at and how dire would the consequences be for the long-term health of the region?
CC: Extremely dire. This is a terrible answer to have to give, but the worst case scenario could play out in death to billions of people. A true apocalypse. Since we have been discussing Reactor 4, I'll stick to that problem in particular, but also understand that a weather event, power outage, earthquake, tsunami, cooling system failure, or explosion and fire in any way, shape, or form, at any location on the Fukushima site, could cascade into an event of that magnitude as well.

'Once the integrity of the pool is compromised that will lead to more criticalities'

At any time, following any of these possible events, or even all by itself, nuclear fuel in reactor 4's pool could become critical, mostly because it will heat up the pool to a point where water will burn off and the zirconium cladding will catch fire when it is exposed to air. This already happened at least once in this pool that we are aware of. It almost happened again recently after a rodent took out an electrical line and cooling was stopped for days.
Once the integrity of the pool is compromised that will likely lead to more criticalities, which then can spread to other fuel. The heat from this reaction would weaken the structure further, which could then collapse and the contents of the pool end up in a pile of rubble on the ground. This would release an enormous amount of radioactivity, which Arnie Gundersen has referred to as a “Gamma Shine Event” without precedence, and Dr. Christopher Busby has deemed an “Open-air super reactor spectacular.”
This would preclude anyone from not only being at Reactor 4, but at Reactors 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, the associated pools for each, and the common spent fuel pool. Humans could no longer monitor and continue cooling operations at any of the reactors and pools, thus putting the entire site at risk for a massive radioactive release.

'At least the northern half of Japan would be uninhabitable, and some researchers have argued that it already is'

Mathematically, it is almost impossible to quantify in terms of resulting contamination, and a separate math problem would need to be performed for every nuclear element contained within the fuel, and whether or not that fuel exploded, burned, fissioned, melted, or was doused with water to try to cool it off and poured into the ocean afterward.
Workers using a German-made pump to pump water from the spent fuel pool in Unit 4 at Fukushima No.1 (Dai-Ichi) nuclear power plant in the town of Okuma in Fukushima prefecture (AFP Photo)
Workers using a German-made pump to pump water from the spent fuel pool in Unit 4 at Fukushima No.1 (Dai-Ichi) nuclear power plant in the town of Okuma in Fukushima prefecture (AFP Photo)

Some researchers have even ventured to say that other nuke plants on the east coast of Honshu may need to be evacuated if levels get too high, which will lead to subsequent failures/fires and explosions at these plants as well. Just how profound the effect will be on down-winders in North America, or the entire northern hemisphere for that matter, will literally depend on where the wind blows and where the rain falls, the duration and extent of a nuclear fire or chain-reaction event, and whether or not that reaction becomes self-sustaining. At least the northern half of Japan would be uninhabitable, and some researchers have argued that it already is.
This is already happening to the nuclear fuel in the ground under the plant, but now it would be happening above ground as well. There is no example historically to draw from on a scale of this magnitude. Everything is theory. But anyone who says this can't happen is not being truthful, because nobody really knows how bad things could get.
The most disturbing part of all of this is that Fukushima has been this dangerous, and precarious, since the second week of March 2011. The ante will definitely be upped once the fuel removal starts.  

'The mainstream media, world governments, nuclear agencies, health organizations, weather reporters, and the health care industry has completely ignored three ongoing triple meltdowns that have never been contained'

An obvious attempt to downplay this disaster and its consequences have been repeated over and over again from 'experts' in the nuclear industry that also have a vested interest in their industry remaining intact. And, there has been a lot of misleading information released by TEPCO, which an hour or two of reading by a diligent reporter would have uncovered, in particular the definition of 'cold shutdown.’
Over 300 mainstream news outlets worldwide ran the erroneous 'cold shutdown' story repeatedly, which couldn't be further from the truth…[it was] yet another lie that was spun by TEPCO to placate the public, and perpetuated endlessly by the media and nuclear lobby.
Unfortunately, TEPCO waited until a severe emergency arose to finally report how bad things really are with this latest groundwater issue...if we are even being told the truth. Historically, everything TEPCO says always turns out to be much worse than they initially admit.

'Unfortunately there is no one better qualified to deal with this than the Russians, despite their own shortcomings'

I think the best chance of success is…that experts around the world drop everything they are doing to work on this problem, and have Russia either lead the containment effort or consult with them closely. They have the most experience, they have decades of data. They took their accident seriously and made a Herculean effort to contain it.
Of course we also know the Chernobyl accident was wrought with deception and lies as well, and some of that continues to this day, especially in terms of the ongoing health effects of children in the region, and monstrous birth defects. Unfortunately there is no one better qualified to deal with this than the Russians, despite their own shortcomings. Gorbachev tried to make up for his part in the cover-up of Chernobyl by opening orphanages throughout the region to deal with the affected children.
Underwater silt fence with orange floats being set in the sea near the drain of TEPCO's Fukushima nuclear power plant at Okuma town in Fukushima prefecture (AFP Photo)
Underwater silt fence with orange floats being set in the sea near the drain of TEPCO's Fukushima nuclear power plant at Okuma town in Fukushima prefecture (AFP Photo)


But as far as Fukushima goes, the only thing that matters now is if world leaders and experts join forces to help fix this situation. Regardless of what agendas they are trying to protect or hide, how much it will cost, the effect on Japan or the world’s economy, or what political chains this will yank.
The nuclear industry needs to come clean. If this leads to every reactor in the world being shut down, so be it. If the world governments truly care about their people and this planet, this is what needs to be done.
Renowned theoretical physicist Michio Kaku stated in an interview a few weeks after the initial accident that “TEPCO is literally hanging on by their fingernails.” They still are, and always have been. The Japanese have proven time and time again they are not capable of handling this disaster. Now we are entrusting them to execute the most dangerous fuel removal in history.
We are extremely lucky that this apocalyptic scenario hasn't happened yet, considering the state of Reactor 4. But for many, it is already too late. The initial explosions and spent fuel pool fires may have already sealed the fate of millions of people. Time will tell. Anyone who tells you otherwise is not being honest, because there is just no way to know.

FEMA Preparing For The Worst In Region 3- Why? (Video)

Wake Up America – by Susan Duclos



Well this is pretty creepy. According to a notice sent by Senator Sheldon R. Songstad, Ret. ofSouth Dakota State and published, with a video, which will be shown below, titled “Emergency Fema Region 3 Alert!!!,” the government obviously believes something big is coming.   
Region three includes, DC, DE, MD, PA, VA, WV.
The preparations listed include; Nine-week training course for UN Peacekeepers in CONUS to learn Urban Warfare, English, and US weapons systems beginning 4th week of July for 386,000 troops to be completed by October 1st;
$11 million in antibiotics to be delivered to FEMA region III by October 1st ordered by CDC;
FEMA purchase orders for over $14.2 million for MREs and heater meals to be delivered to Region III by October 1st;
FEMA purchase orders for 22 million pouches of emergency water to be delivered to region III by October 1st;
FEMA purchase orders for $13.6 million for MREs and heater meals to be delivered to Austin by October 1st;
2800 MRAPs must be delivered to DHS by October 1st;
(VIDEO) URGENT!!! POSSIBLE EMERGENCY ALERT FOR FEMA REGION III

The copied email alert, in full, below:
Emergency Fema Region 3 Alert!!!
FEMA Region III: DC, DE, MD, PA, VA, WV
Sent: Tuesday, August 13, 2013 6:43 AM
Subject: National update from Sheldon: Senator Sheldon R. Songstad, Ret. of South Dakota State
A few nights ago Donald Trump was with Greta on Fox News. He told her something BIG was going to happen, most likely starting the first week of October. He could say NOTHING ELSE at this time.
HERE IS WHAT WHAT THE SENATORS NATIONAL PREPAREDNESS RESEARCH TURNED UP…
FEMA purchase orders for over $14.2 million for MREs and heater meals to be delivered to Region III by October 1st.
FEMA purchase orders for 22 million pouches of emergency water to be delivered to region III by October 1st.
FEMA purchase orders for $13.6 million for MREs and heater meals to be delivered to Austin by October 1st.
Nine-week training course for UN Peacekeepers in CONUS to learn Urban Warfare, English, and US weapons systems beginning 4th week of July for 386,000 troops to be completed by October 1st.
$11 million in antibiotics to be delivered to FEMA region III by October 1st ordered by CDC.
World Health Organization held second emergency meeting in its history to discuss MERS Coronavirus. Determined a vaccine MUST be in place by October 1st.
2800 MRAPs must be delivered to DHS by October 1st.
No leave will be allowed for US military from September 28th thru November 5th. NORCOMM yearly training for civil unrest suspended until September 27th. To be performed in northeast coastal areas.
Date for release of QE3 report moved to October 16th.
All DHS agents MUST qualify with sidearm, shotgun and AR 15 by September 28th. No mention of yearly less lethal qualification.
Sporadic testing of GPS and Communications satellites is coordinated for the first time with a testing date of September 29th.
POTUS mandates to FEMA and DHS concerning support for metropolitan communities dealing with the extreme climate change MUST be complete by October 1st. These mandates were issued during the last three weeks.
Over 300 school systems in the US have determined they need three-day kits for each school AND three-day kits for each student to take with them. All deliveries are scheduled for the month of September.
All National Guard units will complete riot control and disaster assistance training during this years annual two week training. All units MUST have their training complete by September 30th.
Daily testing of the Emergency Broadcast System to begin on September 25th and run thru October 2nd.
Eastern-based Coast Guard units to perform massive group training, usually performed in the Gulf, in the Virginia and Delaware areas. This is a 10-day training mission to begin September 26th.
“GOD, PLEASE HELP AMERICA”
Sheldon R. Songstad
Senator Retired: South Dakota State

Follow us @ asheepnomore.net and facebook.com/asheepnomore

The Collapse of World Trade Center 1: Madrid Windsor Building Exposes a Fundamental Flaw


The Windsor Building was of a similar truss design to the twin towers, the fire started 11 stories from the top of the building, and it burned at temperatures of 800ºC for more than 18 hours [AFP]. The core of the building did not fail.

The fire in WTC 1 is reported to have burned at 800ºC and was located roughly 17 stories from the top of the building meaning the inner core supported only 6 additional floors of weight above the fire zone in comparison to the Windsor Building. WTC 1 collapsed after only 85 minutes, reportedly through core failure.

Don't you find this odd?

Let's take a look at the cores of the buildings.
Windsor Building Core:
WTC 1 Core:
See
It is obvious that the core of WTC 1 was far more robust than the Windsor Building's core - this is to be expected since the building was 110 storeys high.

The core was designed to support the entire weight of the buildings several times over. Far more than a mere "service core", it comprised of 47 steel box columns tied together at each floor by steel plates, similar to the 52" deep spandrel plates that tied the perimeter columns together. The largest of these core columns were 18"x36", with steel walls 4" thick near the base and tapering in thickness toward the top, and was anchored directly to the bedrock.

Okay, the core of WTC 1 was solid, but an airliner flew directly fly into it. Could this be the reason for the quick collapse?

The aluminum wings and the planes' fuselage would have been almost instantly shredded into pieces the size of an adult's fist, said Tomasz Wierzbicki, director of the impact and crashworthiness laboratory at M.I.T. Engines and other heavy parts continued to the core, but by working out the amount of energy involved, Dr. Wierzbicki and a student, Liang Xue, determined that at most half the inner columns could have been broken or severely mangled. [New York Times]

The above indicates that at least 50% of WTC 1's core was intact after Flight 11 hit the building, and the fact that the building remained standing proves the intact core columns could support the weight of floors above the impact level without problems.

This leaves a quandary because we are told that the 800ºC temperatures which the Windsor Building's core columns withstood for 18 hours wrecked the intact core columns of WTC 1 in only 85 minutes.

Okay, let's assume that some of WTC 1's remaining core columns of were damaged by the plane impact, maybe this could account for the quick collapse of the building. Well, this might be plausible if an 800ºC fire burned at the airliner impact level, but these temperatures did not exist inside WTC 1.

When you add to the above the mysterious demise of the building's core you have to conclude that either a fundamental flaw existed in WTC 1's inner core construction, or a fundamental flaw exists in the official explanation of the building's collapse.

"The building was designed to have a fully loaded 707 crash into it, that was the largest plane at the time. I believe that the building could probably sustain multiple impacts of jet liners because this structure is like the mosquito netting on your screen door - this intense grid - and the plane is just a pencil puncturing that screen netting. It really does nothing to the screen netting."

See also:


THINK!

Follow us @ asheepnomore.net and facebookcom/asheepnomore


Should online jokes be criminal?

posted by CharlesB in IN THE NEWS


BBC News wonders why a Canadian woman can have a Texas teen jailed because she doesn't like him.
A $500,000 bail?
Petition to Free Jailed League of Legends Player Reaches 100,000 Sigs
http://www.escapistmagazine.com/news/view/125833-Petition-to-Free-Jailed...
"According to his lawyer, Carter has been assaulted multiple times by other inmates and is thus now being held in solitary confinement; he's also fallen into a depression and is now under suicide watch. He rejected a plea bargain offer of eight years in prison, and so on April 10 was indicted on charges of making terroristic threats "with the intent to cause impairment or interruption of communications, public transportation, public water, gas or public supply or other public service" and to "place the public or a substantial group of the public in fear of serious bodily injury."--Andy Chalk | 9 July 2013
Justin Carter case: Should online jokes be criminal?
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-23188875
When A Teen's 'Sarcastic' Facebook Message Goes Terribly Wrong
http://www.businessinsider.com/teen-justin-carter-faces-trial-and-jail-f...
Kid imprisoned for 5 months, assaulted, and currently held in solitary confinement on suicide watch, Now facing 8 more years in prison all just for a joke he made on facebook.
http://www.reddit.com/r/news/comments/1hzrb4/kid_imprisoned_for_5_months...
"In February, Justin Carter, then 18, was engaged in a Facebook dispute with someone from his online gaming community. The gamer called Carter mentally disturbed on a public wall, and Carter, with withering sarcasm and a teenager's poor judgment, wrote back:
I think Ima shoot up a kindergarten
And watch the blood of the innocent rain down
And eat the beating heart of one of them.
Carter and his lawyer insist the statement was a joke - albeit one in poor taste. But it's hard to read sarcasm over the internet.
Soon a Texas law enforcement agency received an anonymous tip from Canada. Carter's home was searched and he was arrested. Now, he's been sitting in jail for almost five months, unable to pay the $500,000 (£334,470) bond required for his release."
--By Kate Dailey, BBC News
"Justin Carter is being reported by his dad to have
"concussions, black eyes, moved four times...for his own protection.
This is worth contemplating and thinking more about: being behind bars
in America is a serious thing with serious consequences, and it's
horrible to be used as a quick general interest problem-solving tool.
Especially so for victimless crimes."
--Brian Doherty
Father: Teen Jailed For Facebook Comment Beaten Up Behind Bars
http://m.npr.org/news/U.S./198129617
‘Concussions, Black Eyes…Put in Solitary Confinement, Nude, for Days’:
TX Teen Jailed for Facebook Comment Reportedly Suffering Behind Bars,
on Suicide Watch
http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2013/07/03/concussions-black-eyes-put-in...
Teen jailed since February for making online comment about 'shooting
up a school full of kids' is on suicide watch because faces eight
YEARS in prison even though he says it was just a joke
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2356244/Justin-Carter-Father-say...

Friday, August 16, 2013

WHY IS BARRETT BROWN FACING 100 YEARS IN PRISON?


By Patrick McGuire


It was announced on Wednesday morning that Barrett Brown, a man who became a very public talking head for AnonOps (the brain trust that is arguably the cortex of the hacktivist group Anonymous, even though there technically isn’t one) is facing up to 100 years in jail for three separate indictments. Two of the indictments—the threatening of an FBI officer in a YouTube video and the concealing of evidence—do not seem worthy of such a harsh sentence, consideringa man in Houston recieved only 42 months for threatening to blow up an FBI building, and a former dentist got 18 months for threatening to kill an FBI agent. The third, however, pertains to Barrett Brown's pasting of a link in an Anonymous IRC chat room to a document full of credit card numbers and their authentication codes that was stolen from the security company Stratfor, in the midst of a hack that released over five million internal emails. Those emails were published to Wikileaks. Some writers have rightfully raised their concerns about the legalities behind sharing a link that points to stolen material (which is why I have not linked to those five million emails) and whether or not that should be an indictable offense. However, Barrett’s work and research into Stratfor tells a much more complicated and disturbing story than a pile of stolen Visa cards.

Video of Barrett Brown being arrested
Barrett Brown Busted: In the middle of a TinyChat, the FBI walk in and arrest the Anonymous hacker/journalist/fameball. The real action starts at about 1:31 for the impatient. 


It’s obvious by looking at the most recent posts on Barrett Brown’s blog that while he is highly interested in Stratfor, it wasn’t the credit card information that motivated him. When those five million emails leaked, a product called TrapWire, which was created by a company called Abraxas, was revealed to the public at large. And it caused a media shitstorm. In 2005, the founder of Abraxas and former head of the CIA’s European division, Richard Helms, described TrapWire as software that is installed inside of surveillance camera systems that is, “more accurate than facial recognition” with the ability to “draw patterns, and do threat assessments of areas that may be under observation from terrorists.” As Russia Today reported, one of the leaked emails, allegedly written by Stratfor’s VP of Intelligence, Fred Burton, stated that TrapWire was at “high-value targets” in “the UK, Canada, Vegas, Los Angeles, NYC.
Now, the TrapWire software has largely been dismissed as, nothing to “freak out” over and that hopefully is the case. However, far beyond what the surveillance software itself can or can’t do, the revelation that TrapWire exists has caused a chain reaction of discoveries that have seemingly revealed a mob of very powerful cybersecurity firms.
Barrett Brown was doing some very serious investigating into a company called Cubic from San Diego, that was alleged to own TrapWire as a subsidiary of their firm. This is an allegation that they officially denied. However, these tax filings from 2010 that Barrett uncovered clearly state that Cubic had in fact merged with Abraxas Corporation. If you click through and take a look, you can see that Richard Helms’s name is right there on the top of the first page.
Alongside Abraxas and Cubic on those tax filings is another company called Ntrepid. According to Florida State’s records of corporations, Richard Helms is the director of that company. In 2011, Barrett’s work helped lead the Guardian to their report that Ntrepid won a $2.76 million-dollar contract from Centcom (U.S. Central Command), to create “online persona management” software, also known as “sockpuppetry.” To break it down in plain English, online persona management was created to populate social networks with a bunch of fake and believable social media personas to “influence internet conversations and spread pro-American propaganda.”
Ntrepid also has a product they call Tartan, that’s detailed in this internal presentation hosted by the Wall Street Journal. In Ntrepid’s own parlance, they describe Tartan as a program that can “Analyze illicit organizations and less structured social networks by identifying: Ranks of influence within human networks… [and can] end the use of [online] aliases.” Clearly they are looking to dismantle the smoke and mirrors that groups like Anonymous maintain, by hanging out in chatrooms where they do not need to identify themselves officially, with many private communications happening at once. This creates a difficult to penetrate den, where people can easily hide online. Evidently, Ntrepid is seeking to pull all of that apart with Tartan.

In another document on Ntrepid letterhead, titled “Tartan Influence Model: Anarchist Groups,” Tartan is positioned as a software tool that can help combat domestic protestors who operate in “an amorphous network of anarchist and protest groups” and suggests that these groups are prone to violence. They name Occupy Wall Street and Occupy D.C. as part of the problem, and have “built Occupy networks through online communication with anarchists.” By identifying the threat of anarchistic, supposedly violent protestors, Tartan sells its services by saying their software “identifies the hidden relationships among organizers of seemingly unrelated movements… To mitigate the ability of anarchists to incite violence… Law enforcement must identify the complex network of relationships among anarchist leaders.” So, beyond taking apart movements that exist solely online, Tartan is looking to come out and crush real world protest movements as well.
A lot of this information and the connections between it all would not be easy to figure out were it not for Barrett Brown. For one, Barrett started ProjectPM, a wiki that is completely dedicated to piecing together all of this information about surveillance companies in the United States. He even got on the phone with a representative at Cubic to tell them that their company was full of liars and that they do in fact own TrapWire. Without Barrett Brown, tons of this research would likely have gone unearthed. Besides a few journalists, not many people have been looking into this information. The one other group that does is called Telecomix, the guys who are famous for supplying dial-up internet lines to areas of the world with oppressive dictatorships, and who I interviewed about the Gaza conflict here. They operate the Bluecabinet Wiki, and they worked very closely with Barrett Brown to uncover more information about the network of cybersecurity firms.
I talked to one of the volunteers at Telecomix, who strongly believes in the work that Barrett did to connect all of these very confusing dots: “I haven't seen reporters really taking a hard look at what Barrett Brown, the investigative journalist, was researching and where it leads to. His discovery that TrapWire = Abraxas and that there is CIA involvement is very important.  Do you know in Berlin right now a game was started to destroy surveillance cameras in public places? Barrett apparently was reading through the emails of HBGary and Stratfor, linking the data to the specific surveillance companies and contractors… It is an extremely time consuming task.”
Barrett Brown was not a hacker. He did not infiltrate any systems, nor did he appear to know how to do anything of the sort (he did try to take down the Mexican drug cartels in 2011, but that is a whole other story). Barrett was an investigative journalist who has been published in theGuardianVanity FairHuffington Post, and Business Week. He closely (perhaps too closely) aligned himself with Anonymous, and dug into some very serious, complicated, and high-level issues pertaining to the future of America’s cyberwar conquests. In light of recent news that the Pentagon wants 4,000 new “hackers for cyber command,” it’s clear that the US’ infrastructure for private cyber defense companies is only growing, and their motives are oftentimes confusing and frightening.
Clearly there is so much more to the Stratfor leak than a bunch of credit card numbers—and the truth behind it all, along with Barrett Brown’s possible century-long jail sentence—is a scary prospect for journalists, privacy advocates, and internet activists alike. As Barrett Brown himself said regarding the leak of Stratfor emails and the credit card numbers within them that some hackers from Anonymous used to donate money to charities: “Much of the media has focused on the fact that some participants in the attack chose to use obtained customer credit card numbers to make donations to charitable causes. Although this aspect of the operation is indeed newsworthy, and, like all things, should be scrutinized and criticized as necessary, the original purpose and ultimate consequence of the operation has been largely ignored.”
Follow Patrick on Twitter: @patrickmcguire