Sunday, March 10, 2013

PNN - the Foreclosure Foresome 3/10/13

Guests

Renee Shaker      Author Confessions of a Reaganite

Ron Gillis


Susan Howai

Sylvia Landis 


Code Pink Media  - Medea Benjamin   produced by Journalist and Independent Producer Stephen Malagodi


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 Listen to the Show [Listen]

ForeClosure Resources

www.NakedCapitalism.com

www.rongillis4staterep75.com

www.stopbrowardforeclosures.blogspot.com/

MORE FORECLOSURE RESOURCES 
Bankers Destroyed Documents
Foreclosure Discrepancy Statistics
"And if that wasn’t bad enough, those figures came from a housing data firm, RealtyTrac, which reported Palm Beach County’s October 2012 foreclosure starts at 925 while the Palm Beach County Clerk of Court reports a much more larger figure, 1,418 new October 2012 foreclosures.  This is 493 or 35% more than what RealtyTrac is reporting and that’s just in Palm Beach County."
Reuters and robosigning continuing
Submission of fraudulent records at the county level continues-Reuters


Email: TampsforeclosureGal@gmail.com

 
Florida House Bill: 87 - Speeds Up Foreclosure
Senate Bill 1666 - Speeds Up Foreclosure

Oppose the Bill

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Events

Join US for COMMON SENSE at the SQUARE:  An event to raise awareness and explore ways to promote Common Sense Gun Legislation

Thursday, March 21, 2013 4:30-6:30pm

Sanborn Square  72 N. Federal Highway
Boca Raton, FL 33432

State Legislative Action Alert!!!
House Floor Vote Expected This Week On Precourt Bill HB 655

Last Week, the State Affairs Committee passed the Precourt bill HB 655on party lines. It will go to the Rules Committee on Tuesday, March 12. The Rules Committee sets the calendar for Floor votes. The Rules Committee has to give a 48 hour notice for a Floor vote to occur. If the Rules Committee sets the calendar for a Floor vote on the Precourt bill on Tuesday, a final House Floor could take place on Thursday, March 14. The Precourt bill strips the home rule of local governments by restricting county level ordinances like our Miami-Dade Living Wage Ordinance, Wage Theft Ordinance and Domestic Violence Ordinance as well as for future Ordinances like Earned Sick Days.
Please contact by phone and e-mail every House member of the Miami-Dade Legislative Delegation and tell them to VOTE NO on HB 655. Tell them that local governments should NOT be stripped of their right to provide economic security for Miami-Dade’s working families.
Frank Artiles (R) – HD 118 – 850-717-5118 Frank.artiles@myfloridahouse.gov
Michael Bileca (R) – HD-115 – 850-717-5115 Michael.bileca@myfloridahouse.gov
Daphne Campbell (D) – HD-108 – 8850-717-5108 Daphne.campbell@myfloridahouse.gov
Jose Felix Diaz (R) – HD -116 – 850-717-5116 Jose.diaz@myfloridahouse.gov
Eddy Gonzalez (R) – HD-111 – 850-717-5111 eddy.gonzalez@myfloridahouse.gov
Kionne McGhee (D) – HD-117 – 850-717-5117 Kionne.mcghee@myfloridahouse.gov
Jeanette Nunez (R) – HD- 119 – 850-717-5119 Jeanette.nunez@myfloridahouse.gov
Jose Oliva (R) – HD-110 – 850-717-5110 Jose.oliva@myfloridahouse.gov
Sharon Pritchett (D) – HD-102 – 850-717-5102 Sharon.pritchett@myfloridahouse.gov
Jose Javier Rodriguez (D) – HD-112 – 850-717-5112 Jose.rodriguez@myfloriahouse.gov
Cynthia Stafford (D) – HD-109 – 850-717-5112 Cynthia.stafford@myfloridahouse.gov
Carlos Trujillo (R) – HD-105 – 850-717-5105 Carlos.trujillo@myfloridahouse.gov
Barbara Watson (D) – HD-107 – 850-717-5107 Barbara.watson@myfloridahouse.gov


Kit Rafferty
Executive Director
South Florida Jobs with Justice
1671 NW 16th Terrace
Miami, FL 33125
Phone: 305.324.1107 Fax:305.324.1119
Cell: 305.987.5251

The next scheduled meeting of the Democratic Club of Saint Lucie County
will take place on March13
at 7pm in Kings Plaza's IBEW Union Local 627 hall, 7652 S US Highway One, just South of Prima Vista.  - DCSLC Regular Meeting Agenda - March 13, 2013


Monday March 11, 7:30-9 p.m. Public Lecture

Harry Targ, Professor of Political Science, Purdue University. The Empire in Disarray: Global Challenges to United States Power From Harry Truman to Barack Obama
The United States emerged from World War II as the "hegemonic" power in the international system. By virtue of its economic, political, and military strength, it fashioned a world based upon institutions which maximized opportunities for trade, investment, financial speculation, and economic development while maintaining military superiority. Over the subsequent sixty years, and responses to an increasingly resistant world, U.S. capacity to shape international relations has declined.
This presentation will briefly describe the "golden age" of United States power and the increasing resistance to it. It will concentrate on how the foreign policy of Barack Obama has responded to a more complicated world during his first term which can be characterized as wavering between an effort to restore U.S. hegemony versus "pragmatically" adjusting to the 21st century world of diversified power and influence. The current debate about drone warfare reflects this contradiction. Finally, the presentation will suggest ways in which the peace movement might encourage a more pragmatic foreign policy in the future.
Harry Targ received his Ph. D from Northwestern University in 1967 and has been teaching and writing at Purdue University ever since. His teaching and research interests include international political economy, foreign policy, Central America and the Caribbean, labor and politics, and U.S. and global social movements. He has published twelve books on foreign policy, Cuba and Central America, the impacts of plant closings, and collections of essays on international political economy, culture and politics, and American politics. His most recent book, Diary of a Heartland Radical (Changemaker, 2011) consists of a collection of over 100 blog essays from www.heartlandradical.blogspot.com.
He has been an activist in peace and justice organizations, the labor movement, and the Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism for many years.

Vizcaya Clubhouse
15150 Michelangelo Blvd
Delray Beach
Tell the gatekeeper that you're going to the Clubhouse program.

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Monday March 11, Tuesday March 12, Wednesday March 13  
Florida Atlantic University, Peace Studies Program

Public Lectures: Claude AnShin Thomas, Vietnam War veteran, Buddhist monk, international speaker, teacher, writer, and non-violent advocate.

Monday March 11, 4-5:30 p.m. FAU Jupiter, AD  119 (Auditorium)
At Hell's Gate: A Soldier's Journey from War to Peace

Tuesday, March 12, 7-9 p.m. FAU Boca, AL 189
The Roots of War, The Seeds of Peace
Public Lecture: Dr. Brian Shoup, Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science and Public Administration, Mississippi State University.

Wednesday, March 13, 6:30-8 p. m. FAU Boca Raton, PA 101
Democratization and State-Building in Post-Conflict Societies
FAU’s Peace Studies Program, established in 1999 within the Dorothy F. Schmidt College of Arts and Letters, has brought together students, faculty, and community members to explore pathways to peace and the process of peace-building. As an interdisciplinary program, Peace Studies draws from a broad range of fields: anthropology, literary studies, political science, communication, history, ethics, social work and more to offer an undergraduate certificate designed to complement a traditional major in any field. The FAU Peace Studies Program sponsors speakers specializing in peace-studies-related issues, free and open to the public thanks to the generosity of the Chastain-Johnson Fund and the Schmidt Family Foundation.
www.fau.edu/peacestudies

Facebook (Peace Studies and Peace Studies Student Association [PSSA])
Prof. Doug McGetchin, Director of FAU Peace Studies dmcgetch@fau.edu or 561-799-8226
ADA (Americans with Disability Act) Statement: If you need a reasonable accommodation to participate fully, please contact Prof. McGetchin by email (above), phone (above) or TTY Relay station 18009558770. Please make your needs known as soon as possible to allow time for effective accommodations, preferably by four business days prior to the event.

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Tuesday March 12, 7-9 p.m. Lecture, Discussion, Raised Voices
Harry Targ, Professor of Political Science, Purdue University.The Influence of Marxist Ideas on the Performance and Politics of Paul Robeson, Woody Guthrie, and Pete Seeger
Professor Targ has teaching and research interests in U.S. and international political economy, U.S. foreign policy, organized labor and class struggle, plant closings and unemployment, and U.S. foreign policy in Central America. He has authored International Relations in a World of Imperialism and Class Struggle; Strategy of an Empire in Decline: Cold War II; and co-authored Plant Closings: International Context and Social Costs. His book, Cuba and the United States: A New World Order? was published in 1992. A co-edited volume, Marxism Today, was published in 1996. Also, he has co-authored children's books on Guatemala and Honduras. More recently he has published Challenging Late Capitalism, Neoliberal Globalization and Militarism; and Diary of a Heartland Radical.

Then, join PinkSlip and Solidarity Singers in singing a couple of Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger songs that Targ references in his lecture.
HOSTED BY BOB & PATTY BENDER AND JOAN FRIEDENBERG & MARK SCHNEIDER
At the home of Joan Friedenberg and Mark Schneider
5165 Palazzo Place
Boynton Beach
In Tuscany Bay, off Military between Woolbright and Flavor Pict
RSVP (required for gate) by Sunday March 10th 561-752-0946
Light refreshments will be served.

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Saturday March 16, 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m. All Peoples’ Diversity Day
Fourth Annual Diversity Festival, free of charge!
In 2060 European Americans will not be dominant in our society. It’s no longer just a nice thing to connect with people who are different; it’s a necessity if we are going to live in peace and harmony.
Why an arts festival? The arts touch people’s hearts. Starting at 11 am, dazzling performances of dance, music and social theater spanning the globe will commence on the stage at 15-minute intervals. Over forty interactive, merchandise and food booths will provide wonderful things to see and do for the whole family.
To sign-up for free 9:30 to 11:00 am kid’s craft workshop call 561 495-9818.
Pompey Park  (indoors)
1101 NW 2nd Street & NW 10th Avenue
Delray Beach
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Saturday March 16, 10 a.m. Deerfield Progressive Forum
Lynn Appleton, Professor of Sociology, FAU. Reagan-esque Revolution
Activities Center adjacent to LeClub at Deerfield Century Village East. Enter Century Village through the West Gate at West Drive (off Powerline between SW 10th St. and Hillsboro Blvd.). Tell the gatekeeper that you are attending the Forum. Take an immediate left after the gate and then another immediate left. Follow the road around until you come to a "T," then turn left into the parking lot. $5 donation requested.
954-428-1598
www.deerfieldprogressiveforum.org


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1. The Obama Administration’s Latest Anonymous Leaks Aim to Justify Drone Killings of US Citizens (Updated)

Journalists for the New York Times have published a story that purportedly provides an account of what ultimately led the United States government to target and kill Anwar al-Awlaki, a Muslim cleric who had been born in the US. It also provides some details on what happened when US citizen Samir Khan and Awlaki’s son, Abdulrahman al-Awlaki were killed. However, importantly, the story consists primarily of “anonymous assertions” by “current and former Obama administration officials.”
…In anonymous assertions to The New York Times, current and former Obama administration officials seek to justify the killings of three U.S. citizens even as the administration fights hard to prevent any transparency or accountability for those killings in court. This is the latest in a series of one-sided, selective disclosures that prevent meaningful public debate and legal or even political accountability for the government’s killing program, including its use against citizens…
Though the introduction claims the story “highlights the perils of a war conducted behind a classified veil, relying on missile strikes rarely acknowledged by the American government and complex legal justifications drafted for only a small group of officials to read,” the Times essentially provides a forum for government officials to explain their side of the story and defend the decisions that were made in the process of  killing an American without charge or trial.
It is insidious because, as the ACLU and CCR appropriately points out, “Government officials have made serious allegations against Anwar al-Awlaki, but allegations are not evidence, and the whole point of the Constitution’s due process clause is that a court must distinguish between the two. If the government has evidence that Al-Awlaki posed an imminent threat at the time it killed him, it should present that evidence to a court.”

Now, officials “anonymously assert that Samir Khan’s killing was unintended and that the killing of 16-year-old Abdulrahman al-Aulaqi was a mistake, even though in court filings the Obama administration refuses to acknowledge any role in those killings.  In court filings made just last week, the government in essence argued, wrongly, that it has the authority to kill these three Americans without ever having to justify its actions under the Constitution in any courtroom.”
The secrecy game being played by the Obama administration is a blatant abuse of power, and this story published by the Times only serves to further enable such game-playing.
Reporters write, “While the Constitution generally requires judicial process before the government may kill an American, the Supreme Court has held that in some contexts — like when the police, in order to protect innocent bystanders, ram a car to stop a high-speed chase — no prior permission from a judge is necessary; the lawyers concluded that the wartime threat posed by Mr. Awlaki qualified as such a context, and so his constitutional rights did not bar the government from killing him without a trial.”
The only problem is it should not be up to officials in the Executive Branch to decide when citizens do not deserve to enjoy the continued protection or privilege of constitutional rights. Courts are the only arena capable of determining a person no longer deserves judicial process. As such, the government should have to fully cooperate with a lawsuit filed by the ACLU and CCR that challenges the legality of the drone strike that killed Al-Awlaki and Khan, “as well as the separate strike that killed Al-Awlaki’s 16-year-old son, Abdulrahman, in Yemen in September and October 2011.” It should be required to prove these deaths were not wrongful before a person like a judge.
The story continues and describes Office of Legal Counsel lawyers working for the Justice Department who “grew uneasy.” [cont'd.]
Journalists for the New York Times have published a story that purportedly provides an account of what ultimately led the United States government to target and kill Anwar al-Awlaki, a Muslim cleric who had been born in the US. It also provides some details on what happened when US citizen Samir Khan and Awlaki’s son, Abdulrahman al-Awlaki were killed. However, importantly, the story consists primarily of “anonymous assertions” by “current and former Obama administration officials.”
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) have condemned the story:
…In anonymous assertions to The New York Times, current and former Obama administration officials seek to justify the killings of three U.S. citizens even as the administration fights hard to prevent any transparency or accountability for those killings in court. This is the latest in a series of one-sided, selective disclosures that prevent meaningful public debate and legal or even political accountability for the government’s killing program, including its use against citizens…
Though the introduction claims the story “highlights the perils of a war conducted behind a classified veil, relying on missile strikes rarely acknowledged by the American government and complex legal justifications drafted for only a small group of officials to read,” the Times essentially provides a forum for government officials to explain their side of the story and defend the decisions that were made in the process of  killing an American without charge or trial.
It is insidious because, as the ACLU and CCR appropriately points out, “Government officials have made serious allegations against Anwar al-Awlaki, but allegations are not evidence, and the whole point of the Constitution’s due process clause is that a court must distinguish between the two. If the government has evidence that Al-Awlaki posed an imminent threat at the time it killed him, it should present that evidence to a court.”
Now, officials “anonymously assert that Samir Khan’s killing was unintended and that the killing of 16-year-old Abdulrahman al-Aulaqi was a mistake, even though in court filings the Obama administration refuses to acknowledge any role in those killings.  In court filings made just last week, the government in essence argued, wrongly, that it has the authority to kill these three Americans without ever having to justify its actions under the Constitution in any courtroom.”
The secrecy game being played by the Obama administration is a blatant abuse of power, and this storypublished by the Times only serves to further enable such game-playing.
Reporters write, “While the Constitution generally requires judicial process before the government may kill an American, the Supreme Court has held that in some contexts — like when the police, in order to protect innocent bystanders, ram a car to stop a high-speed chase — no prior permission from a judge is necessary; the lawyers concluded that the wartime threat posed by Mr. Awlaki qualified as such a context, and so his constitutional rights did not bar the government from killing him without a trial.”
The only problem is it should not be up to officials in the Executive Branch to decide when citizens do not deserve to enjoy the continued protection or privilege of constitutional rights. Courts are the only arena capable of determining a person no longer deserves judicial process. As such, the government should have to fully cooperate with a lawsuit filed by the ACLU and CCR that challenges the legality of the drone strike that killed Al-Awlaki and Khan, “as well as the separate strike that killed Al-Awlaki’s 16-year-old son, Abdulrahman, in Yemen in September and October 2011.” It should be required to prove these deaths were not wrongful before a person like a judge.
The story continues and describes Office of Legal Counsel lawyers working for the Justice Department who “grew uneasy.”
…They told colleagues there were issues they had not adequately addressed, particularly after reading a legal blog that focused on a statute that bars Americans from killing other Americans overseas. In light of the gravity of the question and with more time, they began drafting a second, more comprehensive memo, expanding and refining their legal analysis and, in an unusual step, researching and citing dense thickets of intelligence reports supporting the premise that Mr. Awlaki was plotting attacks…
There is not much explanation for what makes it “unusual” to look at “intelligence reports” on Awlaki while putting together the legal justification for killing him, but one can imagine. Think about lawyers sitting around to craft the legal justification for going to war in Iraq (provided this happened) and contemplate how lawyers would feel pressured to give a favorable analysis that endorsed going to war if they saw the bogus or fabricated reports that Iraq’s Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. Obviously, viewing intelligence reports increases the likelihood the legal analysis produced is less sober and more in favor of whatever objective the administration wanted to achieve when it ordered up the analysis.

Then, there’s the part about how the reporters share how the two OLC lawyers—David Barron and Marty Lederman—”discovered a 1997 district court decision involving a woman who was charged with killing her child in Japan. A judge ruled that the terse overseas-killing law must be interpreted as incorporating the exceptions of its domestic-murder counterpart, writing, ‘Congress did not intend to criminalize justifiable or excusable killings.’”

It’s hard to follow this because it seems like there would be no justification for a mother killing her child. Apparently, they scoured all cases on unlawful killings and found that a judge had made this finding. They pulled it out to conclude, “When the government kills an enemy leader in war or national self-defense…the foreign-killing statute would not impede a strike.”
If that does not seem obscene, the reporters draw this conclusion, “They had not resorted to the Bush-style theories they had once denounced of sweeping presidential war powers to disregard Congressionally imposed limitations.”
How so? It seems pretty medieval of the president to be claiming the authority to kill US citizens without charge or trial if they are “wartime enemies” simply on the basis that some judge made a statement in a case where a mother murdered her child.
In any case, there is further manipulation. The ACLU has sought “disclosure of the legal memoranda written by the Department of Justice Office of Legal Counsel that provided justifications for the targeted killing of Al-Aulaqi, as well as records describing the factual basis for the killings of all three Americans, in a separate Freedom of Information Act lawsuit.” The Times fails to mention this case is ongoing.
The administration arguably used the newspaper back in June when officials spoke anonymously to the Times about the administration’s “kill list.” It has more or less regularly made statements to the press about drone programs—one controlled by the CIA, which the Obama administration refuses to acknowledge in court. (ProPublica documented with a graphic here.)
Leaks or unauthorized disclosures can be good and valuable to understanding national security policies but not when they are made in order to shield documents or records from being released to the public and not when they are made to undermine the pursuit of justice by families of victims of abuses of power.
When leaks occur in these instances, they function as propaganda—making it possible for presidential administration to continue to operate controversial programs in secret without any accountability for actions.
Update  
Marcy Wheeler deconstructs the Times‘ story. She writes, “Mark Mazzetti, Charlie Savage, and Scott Shane team up to provide the government’s best case — and at times, an irresponsibly credulous one — for the killing of Anwar al-Awlaki and the collateral deaths of Samir Khan and Abdulrahman al-Awlaki.” She highlights a WikiLeaks cable that is conveniently ignored.


2. DELAYED CLEANUP

Two years after the triple calamities of earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster ravaged Japan's northeastern Pacific coast, debris containing asbestos, lead, PCBs - and perhaps most worrying - radioactive waste due to the crippled Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear plant looms as a threat for the region.
So far, disposal of debris from the disasters is turning out to have been anything but clean. Workers often lacking property oversight, training or proper equipment have dumped contaminated waste with scant regard for regulations or safety, as organised crime has infiltrated the cleanup process.
Researchers are only beginning to analyze environmental samples for potential health implications from the various toxins swirled in the petri dish of the disaster zone - including dioxins, benzene, cadmium and organic waste-related,  said Shoji F Nakayama of the government-affiliated National Institute for Environmental Studies.
Apart from some inflammatory reactions to some substances in the dust and debris, the longer-term health risks remain unclear, he said.
The mountains of rubble and piles of smashed cars and scooters scattered along the coast only hint at the scale of the debris removed so far from coastlines and river valleys stripped bare by the tsunami.
To clear, sort and process the rubble - and a vastly larger amount of radiation-contaminated soil and other debris near the nuclear plant in Fukushima, the government is relying on big construction companies whose multi-layer subcontracting systems are infiltrated by criminal gangs, or yakuza.
In January, police arrested a senior member of Japan's second-largest yakuza group, Sumiyoshi Kai, on suspicion of illegally dispatching three contract workers to Date, a city in Fukushima struggling with relatively high radioactive contamination, through another construction company and pocketing one-third of their pay.
He told interrogators he came up with the plot to ''make money out of clean-up projects'' because the daily pay for such government projects, at 15,000-17,000 yen, was far higher than for other construction jobs, said police spokesman Hiraku Hasumi.
Gangsters have long been involved in industrial waste handling, and police say they suspect gangsters are systematically targeting reconstruction projects, swindling money from low-interest lending schemes for disaster-hit residents and illegally mobilizing construction and clean-up workers.

Meanwhile, workers complain of docked pay, unpaid hazard allowances - which should be 10,000 yen, a day - and of inadequate safety equipment and training for handling the hazardous waste they are clearing from towns, shores and forests after meltdowns of three nuclear plant reactor cores at Fukushima Dai-Ichi released radiation into the surrounding air, soil and ocean.
''We are only part of a widespread problem,'' said a 56-year-old cleanup worker, who asked to be identified only by his last name, Nakamura, out of fear of retaliation.
''Everyone, from bureaucrats to construction giants to tattooed gangsters, is trying to prey on decontamination projects. And the government is looking the other way.''
During a recent visit to Naraha, a deserted town of 8,000 that is now a weedy no-man's land within the 20-kilometre  restricted zone around the crippled nuclear plant, workers wearing regular work clothes and surgical masks were scraping away topsoil, chopping tree branches and washing down roofs.
''They told me only how to cut grass, but nothing about radiation,'' said Munenori Kagaya, 59, who worked in the nearby town of Tomioka, which is off-limits due to high radiation.
Naraha's mayor, Yukiei Matsumoto, said that early on, he and other local officials were worried over improper handling of the 1.5 trillion yen cleanup, but refrained from raising the issue, until public allegations of dozens of instances of mishandling of radioactive waste prompted an investigation by the Environment Ministry, which is handling decontamination of the 11 worst-affected towns and villages.
''I want them to remind them again what the cleanup is for,'' Matsumoto said in an interview. ''Its purpose is to improve the environment so that people can safely return to live here. It's not just to meet a deadline and get it over with.''
The ministry said it found only five questionable cases, though it acknowledged a need for better oversight.
Another probe, by the Health, Labour and Welfare Ministry found rampant labour violations - inadequate education and protection from radiation exposure, a lack of medical checks and unpaid salaries and hazard pay - at nearly half the cleanup operations in Fukushima.
About half of the 242 contractors involved were reprimanded for violations, the ministry said.
An Environment Ministry official in charge of decontamination said the government has little choice but to rely on big contractors, and to give them enough leeway to get the work done.
''We have to admit that only the major construction companies have the technology and manpower to do such large-scale government projects,'' said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, citing the sensitivity of the issue.
''If cleanup projects are overseen too strictly, it will most likely cause further delays and labor shortages.''
Minoru Hara, deputy manager at a temporary waste storage site in Naraha, defended the 3,000 workers doing the work - the only people allowed to stay in the town.
''Most of the cleanup workers are working sincerely and hard,'' Hara said. ''They are doing a good job of washing down houses and cleaning up gardens. Such criticism is really unfair, and bad for morale.''
Labour shortages, lax oversight and massive amounts of funds budgeted for the clean-up are a recipe for cheating. And plenty of money is at stake: the cleanup of a 20-kilometre segment of an expressway whose worst contamination exceeds allowable radiation limits by 10 times will cost 2.1 billion yen, said Yoshinari Yoshida, an Environment Ministry official.
''While decontamination is a must, the government is bearing the burden. We have to consider the cost factor,'' said deputy Environment Minister Shinji Inoue as he watched workers pressure wash the road's surface, a process Yoshida said was expected to reduce contamination by half.
The cleanup is bound to overrun its budget by several times, as delays deepen due to a lack of long-term storage options as opposition among local residents in many areas hardens.
It will leave Fukushima, whose huge farm and fisheries industry has been walloped by radiation fears, with 31 million tons of nuclear waste or more.
Around Naraha, huge temporary dumps of radioactive waste, many football fields in size and stacked two huge bags deep, are scattered around the disaster zone
The cleanups extend beyond Fukushima, to Iwate in the north and Chiba, which neighbours Tokyo, in the south.
And the concerns are not limited to radiation.
A walk through areas in Miyagi and Iwate that already were cleared of debris finds plenty of toxic detritus, such as batteries from cell phones, electrical wiring, plastic piping and gas canisters.
Japan has the technology to safely burn up most toxins at very high temperatures, with minimal emissions of PCBs, mercury and other poisons.
But mounds of wood chips in a seaside processing area near Kesennuma were emitting smoke into the air one recent winter afternoon, possibly from spontaneous combustion.
Workers at that site had high-grade gas masks, an improvement from the early days, when many working in the disaster zone had only surgical masks, at most, to protect them from contaminated dust and smoke.
Overall, how well the debris and contaminants are being handled depends largely on the location.
Sendai, the biggest city in the region, sorted debris as it was collected and sealed the surfaces of areas used to store debris for processing to protect the groundwater, thanks to technical advice from its sister-city Kyoto, home to many experts who advised the government in its cleanup of the 1995 earthquake in the Kobe-Osaka area that killed more than 6,400 people.
But Ishinomaki, a city of more than 160,000, collected its debris first and is only gradually sorting and processing it, said the US-educated Nakayama, who worked for the US Environmental Protection Agency before returning to Japan.
''There were no technical experts there for the waste management side,'' he said.
''They did some good work with chemical monitoring but in total, risk assessment, risk management, unfortunately they did not have that expertise.''
Ultimately, just as they are choosing to live with contamination from chemicals and other toxins, the authorities may have to reconsider their determination to completely clean up the radiation, given the effort's cost and limited effectiveness, experts say.
Regarding the nuclear accident, ''there has been so much emphasis on decontamination that no other options were considered,'' said Hiroshi Suzuki, a professor emeritus at Tohoku University in Sendai and chairman of the Fukushima Prefectural Reconstruction Committee.
Some places, such as playgrounds, obviously must be cleaned up.
But others, such as forests, should just be left alone, since gathering or burning radioactive materials concentrates them - the opposite of what is needed since the more diluted they are, the better.
To a certain extent, policy is being dictated by politics, said Suzuki. Before the accident, residents believed they were completely safe, he said.
''The authorities want to be able to tell them once again that the area is safe. To do this they need to return it to the state that it was in before the accident.'' Naraha resident Yoshimasa Murakami, a 79-year-old farmer, said he has low expectations.
A month after the government started cleaning his spacious home he has not seen a major decrease in radiation, he said while sitting on a balcony overlooking his traditional Japanese garden.
He set a dosimeter on the grass. It measured radiation nearly five times the target level and almost the same as the 1.09 microsieverts per hour found when officials surveyed it in December.
Murakami had come to the house for the day.
He, his wife and daughter now live 50 kilometres away in Koriyama city. He visits a few times a week to keep an eye on the cleanup workers.
At nearly 80, Murakami says he doesn't mind about the radiation, but his wife does.
And if he returns, his other relatives and grandchildren will be afraid to visit.
''Then, what's the point?'' he said. ''I don't think decontamination is going to work,'' Murakami said.
''The nuclear crisis is not fully over, and you never know, something still can go wrong.''


3. Afghan leader alleges US & Taliban are colluding


KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — Afghan President Hamid Karzai on Sunday accused the Taliban and the U.S. of working in concert to convince Afghans that violence will worsen if most foreign troops leave — an allegation the top American commander in Afghanistan rejected as "categorically false."
Karzai said two suicide bombings that killed 19 people on Saturday — one outside the Afghan Defense Ministry and the other near a police checkpoint in eastern Khost province — show the insurgent group is conducting attacks to demonstrate that international forces will still be needed to keep the peace after their current combat mission ends in 2014.
"The explosions in Kabul and Khost yesterday showed that they are at the service of America and at the service of this phrase: 2014. They are trying to frighten us into thinking that if the foreigners are not in Afghanistan, we would be facing these sorts of incidents," he said during a nationally televised speech about the state of Afghan women.
Karzai is known for making incendiary comments in his public speeches, a tactic that is often attributed to him trying to appeal to Taliban sympathizers or to gain leverage when he feels his international allies are ignoring his country's sovereignty. In previous speeches, he has threatened to join the Taliban and called his NATO allies occupiers who want to plunder Afghanistan's resources.
U.S. and NATO forces commander Gen. Joseph Dunford said Karzai had never expressed such views to him, but said it was understandable that tensions would arise as the coalition balances the need to complete its mission and the Afghans' move to exercise more sovereignty.
"We have fought too hard over the past 12 years, we have shed too much blood over the last 12 years, to ever think that violence or instability would be to our advantage," Dunford said.
The Karzai government's latest comments and actions come during U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel's first visit to Afghanistan since becoming the Pentagon chief, a trip made in part to meet with Karzai. Hours after Karzai's speech, their joint news conference was canceled by officials citing security concerns, though officials said the two men still planned to meet privately.
The two men had plenty of contentious issues to discuss. The Afghan and U.S. government are negotiating a security pact for the long-term presence of American forces in Afghanistan — the difficulty illustrated when a deal to transfer a U.S. prison outside of Kabul to Afghan authority on Saturday fell through at the last moment.
U.S. and Afghan officials are also at odds over a Karzai demand that U.S. special operations forces withdraw from a province neighboring Kabul by Monday over allegations they participated in torture and extrajudicial killing — charges U.S. officials deny. As the deadline approached, Dunford told reporters he spoke to Karzai about the issue on Saturday and told him the U.S. is working on a plan to hand over security in the Wardak region to Afghan forces. He would not directly say whether the commandos will stay in Wardak when the deadline to leave comes on Monday.
Karzai raised another difficult issue when he denounced the alleged seizure of a university student Saturday by Afghan forces his aide said were working for the CIA. It was unclear why the student was detained.
Presidential spokesman Aimal Faizi said in an interview with The Associated Press that the CIA freed the student after Karzai's staff intervened, but that Karzai wants the alleged Afghan raiders arrested. The president issued a decree on Sunday banning all international forces and the Afghans working with them from entering universities and schools without Afghan government permission.
The CIA declined to comment. NATO spokesman Lt. Col. Les Carroll said that no NATO forces "harassed a university student" as described by the President's office.
In the incident at the Kandahar university Saturday, presidential spokesman Faizi said the raiders fired shots as they grabbed student Abdul Qayoum, and blindfolded him before taking him for interrogation at a CIA post that Taliban leader Mullah Omar once used as a home.
The CIA has trained an Afghan counterterrorist force several thousand strong, known as the Counterterrorism Pursuit Team, which works mostly in insurgent strongholds in southern and eastern Afghanistan. U.S. officials say they work in concert with the Afghan intelligence service, but Karzai frequently complains he lacks oversight over their operations.
Karzai said in his speech that any foreign powers that want to keep troops in Afghanistan need to do so under conditions set forward by Afghanistan.
"We will tell them where we need them, and under which conditions. They must respect our laws. They must respect the national sovereignty of our country and must respect all our customs," Karzai said.
Karzai offered no proof of coordination, but said the Taliban and the United States were in "daily negotiations" in various foreign countries and noted that the United States has said that it no longer considers the insurgent group its enemy. The U.S. continues to fight against the Taliban and other militant groups, but has expressed its backing for formal peace talks with the Taliban to find a political resolution to the war.
Karzai said he did not believe the Taliban's claim that they launched Saturday's attacks to show they are still a potent force fighting the United States. "Yesterday's explosions, which the Taliban claimed, show that in reality they are saying they want the presence of foreigners in Afghanistan," Karzai said.
____
Associated Press writers Lolita C. Baldor and Heidi Vogt contributed to this report from Kabul.

4. Fukushima Two Years Later

Global symposium in NYC addresses mounting medical and ecological consequences, critiques WHO report
Press conference highlights radiation exposures of U.S. military personnel and lawsuit against plant owners
March 11-12 – New York Academy of Medicine
NEW YORK, March 5, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Two years after the March 11, 2011 triple meltdowns at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear complex, important new research and new information is emerging about continuing biomedical and ecological impacts in Japan and worldwide. This information was largely omitted from the methodology of a recent World Health Organization report on Fukushima.  But a unique public symposium, "The Medical and Ecological Consequences of the Fukushima Nuclear Accident,"   March 11-12 at the New York Academy of Medicine will explore it, and draw its implications for the public's health and safety in Japan, the U.S. and globally. A project of The Helen Caldicott Foundation, the symposium is co-sponsored by Physicians for Social Responsibility.
Press conference: 1:00 pm Monday, March 11 there will be a press conference at the symposium with U.S. Navy Quartermasters (retired) Maurice Enis and Jaime Plym .  They suffered radiation exposure and health damage while serving aboard the USS Ronald Reagan during a Fukushima aid and rescue mission. 150 mission participants are reported to have developed tumors, tremors, internal bleeding, hair loss and other health problems they attribute to radiation exposure.  Enis and Plym will discuss the lawsuit they joined against Fukushima nuclear plant owner TEPCO for misleading U.S. officials about the extent of radiation released.
Symposium:  9:00 am on March 11 the symposium opens with special videotaped messages from Naoto Kan, Japan's Prime Minister during the Fukushima crisis, and Hiroaki  Koide, Master of Nuclear Engineering and Radiation Safety and Control Specialist at Kyoto University Research Reactor Institute (KURRI). Then an international group of leading experts including Dr. Ken Buesseler, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute; Dr. Hisako Sakiyama of the Japanese Diet's Fukushima Accident Independent Investigative Commission; Dr. Alexey Yablokov, Russian Academy of Sciences and many others will present and participate in panels (the full list of presenters is here). 
In addition to reassessing Fukushima's impacts, it will also critique the recent WHO report claiming fallout from the disaster increased cancer risks only minimally. "The Fukushima crisis is far from insignificant; it's a globally important public health issue," said symposium organizer Dr. Helen Caldicott.  "The WHO report ignores critical data and sends the wrong message to the public.  Increased incidence of thyroid abnormalities in children in the Fukushima Prefecture may be an early indicator of eventual increased incidence of thyroid cancers. Plumes of radioactivity from Fukushima are migrating in the Pacific towards the U.S. West Coast."
The symposium takes place March 11 – 12 at the New York Academy of Medicine, at Fifth Ave and 103rd St (enter on 103rd St), beginning 9am March 11.  Journalists and bloggers are invited to attend and cover free of charge. Please RSVP to the media contacts listed below.
Media Contacts:
Josh Baran, jcbaran@gmail.com 917-797-1799 
Stephen Kent, skent@kentcom.com 914-589-5988

5. GE Mandatory Labeling Laws Introduced in Florida
Genetically engineered foods have been a concern of many for quite some time now. For years, it was more an issue for vegetarians, environmentalists, pseudo-hippies, and ethically concerned chefs than for the general population. Not anymore. The presence -- and subsequent failure -- of Proposition 37 on California's ballot in November brought the labeling debate into the mainstream. Now individuals ranging from soccer moms to celebrities are airing concerns over GE foods. And they're finally being heard.

In Florida, a state not traditionally known for progressive political agendas, Rep. Michelle Rehwinkel-Vasilinda and Sen. Maria Lorts Sachs have introduced mandatory labeling bills that will be considered over the next few months.

See Also:
- Frankenfish Salmon Swims Closer to Your Plate
- Anti-Frankenfood Group Lobbies State Senator Sobel on Genetically-Modified Food; Holds "GE-Free Cook-off" This Saturday
- Keep Your Frankenfood Outta My Publix (Or at Least Label It, Please)

The bills, HB 1233 and S 1728, will require labeling for all foods that contain more than 1 percent GE ingredients, if passed. This would include plants that have been altered with alien genetic material to create genetic combinations that do not occur naturally. Most processed food will fall under these labeling laws, as they usually contain byproducts of GE corn, soy, or cotton.

According to the executive director of Food & Water Watch, Wenonah Hauter, "Labeling GE foods is not a novel idea. The European Union specifically addresses the new properties and risks of biotech crops, requiring all food, animal feed, and processed products with GE content to bear labels. In fact, the EU is among nearly 50 developed countries that require the GE products they import from the U.S. to be labeled. Furthermore, a 2012 Mellman Group Study showed that 91 percent of U.S. voters favored having the U.S. Food and Drug Administration require labels on GE foods and ingredients."

During the November election, the opposition to California's Prop. 37 -- namely major agribusinesses like Monsanto -- outspent the "Yes on 37" campaign 5-to-1. If you look at the numbers, that's hardly a competition. The bill, which started off with a 2-to-1 lead in some polls, ended being defeated 53 percent to 47 percent. With bills coming to the floor in Florida, we're going to bet you a strong opposition will start coming out of the woodwork.

We're going to hope that proponents of Florida's mandatory labeling laws learned from California's failure. Agribusinesses in California were able to strike fear into the population by arguing rising food costs. Would the costs have actually risen? Did the cost of margarine rise when the trans-fat mandatory labeling laws went into effect back in 2006? We haven't heard any complaints. Well, aside from the processed-food industry.

We would like to see a cogent argument from mandatory labeling supporters highlighting overarching health and environmental effects of GE foods. Although there have been no studies published on human health consequences resulting from intake of GE-foods -- for studies to be considered valid, they must be performed over the span of two generations -- there have been startling results discovered from long-term studies on rats. In the peer-reviewed journal Food and Chemical Toxicology, the study examined the health effects of rats fed a diet of NK603 Maize (the Roundup-resistant corn developed by Monsanto) over their two-year lifespan. It concluded that rats fed the NK603 Maize had a higher incidence of cancers and tumors and shorter lifespans than the control rats. Seventy percent of the female rats and 50 percent of male rats died prematurely, contrasted to 20 percent for female and 30 percent male in the control. No, we're not comparing human DNA to that of rats, but we do believe in red flags.

Quite frankly, it's fucking common sense. NK603 is a seed that had been developed to tolerate dousings of chemical weed killer. Late last year, we spoke to pharmacist and biochemist Dr. Rober Fishman of Post Haste Pharmacy in Hollywood. According to Fishman, all animals (including humans) have DNA receptors that are replenished through nutrients -- i.e., food. The genes in foods that have been genetically modified -- including hybrids and less evil incarnations -- have been changed and do not appropriately fit into gene receptors. These foods do not provide the same sort of benefits as foods that have not been tampered with, whole foods. If a hybrid tomato is considered to be a subpar form of nutrition, what do you think is the case with gene structure of a plant that is meant to outlive toxic dousings of chemicals?

According to Rehwinkel-Vasilinda, "Politically speaking, if legislators would know the imperative nature of the facts, the passion of the people supporting it, and the diversity of people who are lobbying for this bill to pass, there must be something to it. This is not just one political interest or lifestyle interest. If we want to get this bill a hearing, we need a lot of press, a lot of citizens bugging their local representatives, and I need more co-sponsors. Although, already Rep. Mark Pafford has signed on as a co-sponsor."

Although there is a long way to go in terms of getting this bill to the floor, there is a chance. Call your local representative or senator if you want to see GE labeling on your food.

6. Kyodo: High concentration of Fukushima radioactive substances found in land animals — Frog with 6,700 Bq/kg outside evacuation zone
High concentration of radioactive cesium found in land animals
TOKYO, March 2, Kyodo
A high concentration of radioactive cesium has been found in a range of land animals and insects in areas around the site of the Fukushima nuclear plant accident, providing a clue to a mechanism of radioactivity accumulation in the food chain, a study showed Saturday.
According to a survey by the Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology and Hokkaido University, over 6,700 becquerels per kilogram of cesium 137 was detected in a frog captured in Nihonmatsu, Fukushima Prefecture, some 40 kilometers west of the crippled nuclear plant.


The finding suggests animals positioned relatively high in the food chain tend to accumulate more radioactive materials, the research team said.

7.Fukushima cleanup workers break silence: Ordered to dump ‘debris’ into river — Gov’t “appeared not to believe him”

 Asahi Shimbun, March 1, 2013: CROOKED CLEANUP: Workers break silence to allege boss ordered corner-cutting [...] Three laborers involved in radioactive cleanup around the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant have alleged that a supervisor told them to dump debris in a river [...] At a news conference in the Diet building on Feb. 28, the men said a foreman ordered them to discard fallen branches and leaves into a river in an upland forest in Tamura, Fukushima Prefecture, in November 2012.  [...] this is the first time that decontamination workers have publicly come forward. [...] The third man, in his 40s, said he related what had happened to officials at the Environment Ministry. He spoke to them for more than an hour, he said, but they appeared not to believe him. [...]

8. Hanford Tanks are Leaking
OLYMPIA –As most of official Olympia repeatedly hit the “refresh” button Thursday morning on their computers to catch the state Supremes’ decision on tax supermajorities as soon as possible, a handful of legislators got a briefing on something with the potential for far more impact to the state.
Jane Hedges of the state Department of Ecology explained the intricacies of nuclear waste tanks at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation, doing her best to calm the uproar over recent news that six of the supposedly stable tanks are, in fact, leaking.
Trying to explain most things at Hanford to laypersons can be a Herculean task. . .
To read the rest of this item, or to comment, go inside the blog.

…once you get past the standard line that there’s tons of really bad stuff down there from all those nukes we made for the Cold War but, thankfully, haven’t had to use. So Hedges brought it down to a level that even legislators and reporters could understand.
First of all, the tanks are big. The largest are the size of a basketball court with a 75-foot wall around it. Inside the tanks are a “stew of different materials” that form a radioactive sludge, from which the liquid was supposed to have been pumped out years ago.
The sludge is about the consistency of peanut butter, Hedges said, but sometimes the interstitial liquid raises to the top. The what? Think organic peanut butter, she said. When it sits too long, it gets that oil layer on the top.
 Of the 177 tanks, 149 only have a single wall, or shell, and 67 of those were “suspected leakers”, but the rest were thought to be secure. Thought to be is a relative term, because in a container that big, a drop of even a fraction of an inch can represent many gallons of waste. You can’t just drop a giant dipstick into the tank.
As Hedges explained, there’s no easy way to get an extremely accurate measurement because lowering cameras or instruments into the tanks isn’t practical. The stuff inside melts the instruments, and eats rubber and plastic. The methods they do have showed some minor fluctuations that could have been anomalies until further testing showed that six supposedly secure tanks are leaking as much as 1,000 gallons of radioactive liquid a year.
Getting the liquid out of the tanks is a problem. First, there’s no good place to put it right now, because the more secure double-shelled tanks are also pretty full. Second, there’s the danger of triggering evaporation of the liquid, which would cause a tank to heat up and create a deflagration.
“In our common words, a ‘Boom,’” Hedges said. Hanford was responsible for making things that could create the world’s biggest booms, but a boom in a tank is to be greatly avoided.
As chairman of the Senate Energy Committee, Sen. Doug Ericksen, R-Ferndale, got to ask the question that most people’s minds were forming: Is there a safety threat?
“There is no threat to anyone at this time,” Hedges said. The leaking tanks are between 200 and 300 feet above groundwater, at least five miles from the Columbia River. They’re leaking below ground, so there’s no immediate danger to workers or the nearby communities, and a system to pump contaminated water out and clean it.
Long-term, though, the state needs the feds to get the radioactive waste into a more permanent solution, she said.

9. The Japanese Lied and are Lying

Steven Starr, Director of the Clinical Laboratory Science Program at the University of Missouri/Senior Scientist at Physicians for Social Responsibility: The Japanese basically lied about what happened with the reactors for months. They said they were trying to prevent a meltdown, when in fact they knew within the first couple of days Reactors 1, 2, and 3 at Fukushima Daiichi had melted down, and they actually melted through the steel containment vessels.
So there was a worst case scenario that they were trying to hide, they even knew that at that time enormous amounts of radiation were released over Japan and some of it even went over Tokyo [...]
The melted core cracked the containment vessel, there really is no containment. So as soon as they pump the water in it leaks out again.

10. Everything We Know About What Data Brokers Know About You
Data companies are scooping up enormous amounts of information about almost every American. They sell information about whether you're pregnant or divorced or trying to lose weight, about how rich you are and what kinds of cars you have.
Regulators and some in Congress have been taking a closer look at these so-called data brokers — and are beginning to push the companies to give consumers more information and control over what happens to their data.

But many people still don't even know that data brokers exist.
Here's a look at what we know about the consumer data industry.
How much do these companies know about individual people?
They start with the basics, like names, addresses and contact information, and add on demographics, like age, race, occupation and "education level," according to consumer data firm Acxiom's overview of its various categories.
But that's just the beginning: The companies collect lists of people experiencing "life-event triggers" like getting married, buying a home, sending a kid to college — or even getting divorced.
Credit reporting giant Experian has a separate marketing services division, which sells lists of "names of expectant parents and families with newborns" that are "updated weekly."
The companies also collect data about your hobbies and many of the purchases you make. Want to buy a list of people who read romance novels? Epsilon can sell you that, as well as a list of people who donate to international aid charities.
A subsidiary of credit reporting company Equifax even collects detailed salary and paystub information for roughly 38 percent of employed Americans, as NBC news reported. As part of handling employee verification requests, the company gets the information directly from employers.
Equifax said in a statement that the information is only sold to customers "who have been verified through a detailed credentialing process." It added that if a mortgage company or other lender wants to access information about your salary, they must obtain your permission to do so.
Of course, data companies typically don't have all of this information on any one person. As Acxiom notes in its overview, "No individual record ever contains all the possible data." And some of the data these companies sell is really just a guess about your background or preferences, based on the characteristics of your neighborhood, or other people in a similar age or demographic group.
Where are they getting all this info?
The stores where you shop sell it to them.
Datalogix, for instance, which collects information from store loyalty cards, says it has information on more than $1 trillion in consumer spending "across 1400+ leading brands." It doesn't say which ones. (Datalogix did not respond to our requests for comment.)
Data companies usually refuse to say exactly what companies sell them information, citing competitive reasons. And retailers also don't make it easy for you to find out whether they're selling your information.
But thanks to California's "Shine the Light" law, researchers at U.C. Berkeley were able to get a small glimpse of how companies sell or share your data. The study recruited volunteers to ask more than 80 companies how the volunteers' information was being shared.
Only two companies actually responded with details about how volunteers' information had been shared. Upscale furniture store Restoration Hardware said that it had sent "your name, address and what you purchased" to seven other companies, including a data "cooperative" that allows retailers to pool data about customer transactions, and another company that later became part of Datalogix. (Restoration Hardware hasn't responded to our request for comment.)
Walt Disney also responded and described sharing even more information: not just a person's name and address and what they purchased, but their age, occupation, and the number, age and gender of their children. It listed companies that received data, among them companies owned by Disney, like ABC and ESPN, as well as others, including Honda, HarperCollins Publishing, Almay cosmetics, and yogurt company Dannon.
But Disney spokeswoman Zenia Mucha said that Disney's letter, sent in 2007, "wasn't clear" about how the data was actually shared with different companies on the list. Outside companies like Honda only received personal information as part of a contest, sweepstakes, or other joint promotion that they had done with Disney, Mucha said. The data was shared "for the fulfillment of that contest prize, not for their own marketing purposes."
Where else do data brokers get information about me?
Government records and other publicly available information, including some sources that may surprise you. Your state Department of Motor Vehicles, for instance, may sell personal information — like your name, address, and the type of vehicles you own — to data companies, although only for certain permitted purposes, including identify verification.
Public voting records, which include information about your party registration and how often you vote, can also be bought and sold for commercial purposes in some states.
Are there limits to the kinds of data these companies can buy and sell?
Yes, certain kinds of sensitive data are protected — but much of your information can be bought and sold without any input from you.
Federal law protects the confidentiality of your medical records and your conversations with your doctor. There are also strict rules regarding the sale of information used to determine your credit-worthiness, or your eligibility for employment, insurance and housing. For instance, consumers have the right to view and correct their own credit reports, and potential employers have to ask for your consent before they buy a credit report about you.
Other than certain kinds of protected data — including medical records and data used for credit reports — consumers have no legal right to control or even monitor how information about them is bought and sold. As the FTC notes, "There are no current laws requiring data brokers to maintain the privacy of consumer data unless they use that data for credit, employment, insurance, housing, or other similar purposes."

So they don't sell information about my health?
Actually, they do.
Data companies can capture information about your "interests" in certain health conditions based on what you buy — or what you search for online. Datalogix has lists of people classified as "allergy sufferers" and "dieters." Acxiom sells data on whether an individual has an "online search propensity" for a certain "ailment or prescription."
Consumer data is also beginning to be used to evaluate whether you're making healthy choices.
One health insurance company recently bought data on more than three million people's consumer purchases in order to flag health-related actions, like purchasing plus-sized clothing, the Wall Street Journal reported. (The company bought purchasing information for current plan members, not as part of screening people for potential coverage.)
Spokeswoman Michelle Douglas said that Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina would use the data to target free programming offers to their customers.
Douglas suggested that it might be more valuable for companies to use consumer data "to determine ways to help me improve my health" rather than "to buy my data to send me pre-paid credit card applications or catalogs full of stuff they want me to buy."
Do companies collect information about my social media profiles and what I do online?
Yes.
As we highlighted last year, some data companies record — and then resell — all kinds of information you post online, including your screen names, website addresses, interests, hometown and professional history, and how many friends or followers you have.
Acxiom said it collects information about which social media sites individual people use, and "whether they are a heavy or a light user," but that they do not collect information about "individual postings" or your "lists of friends."
More traditional consumer data can also be connected with information about what you do online. Datalogix, the company that collects loyalty card data, has partnered with Facebook to track whether Facebook users who see ads for certain products actually end up buying them at local stores, as the Financial Times reported last year.
Is there a way to find out exactly what these data companies know about me?
Not really.
You have the right to review and correct your credit report. But with marketing data, there's often no way to know exactly what information is attached to your name — or whether it's accurate.
Most companies offer, at best, a partial picture.
While Acxiom lets consumers review some of the information the company sells about them, New York Times reporter Natasha Singer discovered this summer that only a sliver of information is shared, including whether you have a prison record or bankruptcy filings.
When Singer finally received her report, all it included was a record of her residential addresses.
Some companies do offer more access. A spokeswoman for Epsilon said it allows consumers to review "high level information" about their data — like whether or not you're listed as making a purchase in the "home furnishings" category. (Requests to review this information cost $5 and can only be made by postal mail.)
RapLeaf, a company that advertises that it has "real-time data" on 80 percent of U.S. email addresses, says that it gives customers "total control over the data we have on you," and allows them to review and edit the categories (like "estimated household income" and "Likely Political Contributor to Republicans") that RapLeaf has connected with their email addresses.
How do I know when someone has purchased data about me?
Most of the time, you don't.
When you're checking out at a store and a cashier asks you for your Zip code, the store isn't just getting that single piece of information. Acxiom and other data companies offer services that allow stores to use your Zip code and the name on your credit card to pinpoint your home address — without asking you for it directly.
Is there any way to stop the companies from collecting and sharing information about me?
Yes, but it would require a whole lot of work.
Many data brokers offer consumers the chance to "opt out" of being included in their databases, or at least from receiving advertising enabled by that company. Rapleaf, for instance, has a "Permanent opt-out" that "deletes information associated with your email address from the Rapleaf database."
But to actually opt-out effectively, you need to know about all the different data brokers and where to find their opt-outs. Most consumers, of course, don't have that information.
In their privacy report last year, the FTC suggested that data brokers should create a centralized website that would make it easier for consumers to learn about the existence of these companies and their rights regarding the data they collect.
How many people do these companies have information on? Basically everyone in the U.S. and many beyond it. Acxiom, recently profiled by the New York Times, says it has information on 500 million people worldwide, including "nearly every U.S. consumer."
After the 9/11 attacks, CNN reported, Acxiom was able to locate 11 of the 19 hijackers in its database.  How is all of this data actually used? Mostly to sell you stuff. Companies want to buy lists of people who might be interested in what they're selling — and also want to learn more about their current customers.  They also sell their information for other purposes, including identity verification, fraud prevention and background checks. If new privacy laws are passed, will they include the right to see what data these companies have collected about me?
Unlikely.
In a report on privacy last year, the Federal Trade Commission recommended that Congress pass legislation "that would provide consumers with access to information about them held by a data broker." President Barack Obama has also proposed a Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights that would give consumers the right to access and correct certain information about them.
But this probably won't include access to marketing data, which the Federal Trade Commission considers less sensitive than data used for credit reports or identity verification.
In terms of marketing data, "we think at the very least consumers should have access to the general categories of data the companies have about consumers," said Maneesha Mithal of the FTC's Division of Privacy and Identity Protection.

Data companies have also pushed back against the idea of opening up marketing profiles for individual consumers' inspection.
Even if there were errors in your marketing data profile, "the worst thing that could happen is that you get an advertising offer that isn't relevant to you," said Rachel Thomas, the vice president of government affairs at the Direct Marketing Association.
"The fraud and security risks that you run by opening up those files is higher than any potential harm that could happen to the consumer," Thomas said.

11. Japan's cleanup of radiation, other toxins from tsunami & nuclear fiasco anything but clean
NARAHA, Japan - Two years after the triple calamities of earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster ravaged Japan's northeastern Pacific coast, debris containing asbestos, lead, PCBs — and perhaps most worrying — radioactive waste due to the crippled Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear plant looms as a threat for the region.
So far, disposal of debris from the disasters is turning out to have been anything but clean. Workers often lacking property oversight, training or proper equipment have dumped contaminated waste with scant regard for regulations or safety, as organized crime has infiltrated the cleanup process.
Researchers are only beginning to analyze environmental samples for potential health implications from the various toxins swirled in the petri dish of the disaster zone — including dioxins, benzene, cadmium and organic waste-related, said Shoji F. Nakayama of the government-affiliated National Institute for Environmental Studies.
Apart from some inflammatory reactions to some substances in the dust and debris, the longer-term health risks remain unclear, he said.
The mountains of rubble and piles of smashed cars and scooters scattered along the coast only hint at the scale of the debris removed so far from coastlines and river valleys stripped bare by the tsunami. To clear, sort and process the rubble — and a vastly larger amount of radiation-contaminated soil and other debris near the nuclear plant in Fukushima, the government is relying on big construction companies whose multi-layer subcontracting systems are infiltrated by criminal gangs, or yakuza.
In January, police arrested a senior member of Japan's second-largest yakuza group, Sumiyoshi Kai, on suspicion of illegally dispatching three contract workers to Date, a city in Fukushima struggling with relatively high radioactive contamination, through another construction company and pocketing one-third of their pay.
He told interrogators he came up with the plot to "make money out of clean-up projects" because the daily pay for such government projects, at 15,000-17,000 yen ($160-$180), was far higher than for other construction jobs, said police spokesman Hiraku Hasumi.
Gangsters have long been involved in industrial waste handling, and police say they suspect gangsters are systematically targeting reconstruction projects, swindling money from low-interest lending schemes for disaster-hit residents and illegally mobilizing construction and clean-up workers.
Meanwhile, workers complain of docked pay, unpaid hazard allowances — which should be 10,000 yen, or $110, a day — and of inadequate safety equipment and training for handling the hazardous waste they are clearing from towns, shores and forests after meltdowns of three nuclear plant reactor cores at Fukushima Dai-Ichi released radiation into the surrounding air, soil and ocean.
"We are only part of a widespread problem," said a 56-year-old cleanup worker, who asked to be identified only by his last name, Nakamura, out of fear of retaliation. "Everyone, from bureaucrats to construction giants to tattooed gangsters, is trying to prey on decontamination projects. And the government is looking the other way."
During a recent visit to Naraha, a deserted town of 8,000 that is now a weedy no-man's land within the 20-kilometre (12-mile) restricted zone around the crippled nuclear plant, workers wearing regular work clothes and surgical masks were scraping away topsoil, chopping tree branches and washing down roofs.
"They told me only how to cut grass, but nothing about radiation," said Munenori Kagaya, 59, who worked in the nearby town of Tomioka, which is off-limits due to high radiation.
Naraha's mayor, Yukiei Matsumoto, said that early on, he and other local officials were worried over improper handling of the 1.5 trillion yen ($16 billion) cleanup, but refrained from raising the issue, until public allegations of dozens of instances of mishandling of radioactive waste prompted an investigation by the Environment Ministry, which is handling decontamination of the 11 worst-affected towns and villages.
"I want them to remind them again what the cleanup is for," Matsumoto said in an interview. "Its purpose is to improve the environment so that people can safely return to live here. It's not just to meet a deadline and get it over with."
The ministry said it found only five questionable cases, though it acknowledged a need for better oversight. Another probe, by the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry found rampant labour violations — inadequate education and protection from radiation exposure, a lack of medical checks and unpaid salaries and hazard pay — at nearly half the cleanup operations in Fukushima.
About half of the 242 contractors involved were reprimanded for violations, the ministry said.
An Environment Ministry official in charge of decontamination said the government has little choice but to rely on big contractors, and to give them enough leeway to get the work done.
"We have to admit that only the major construction companies have the technology and manpower to do such large-scale government projects," said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, citing the sensitivity of the issue. "If cleanup projects are overseen too strictly, it will most likely cause further delays and labour shortages."

Minoru Hara, deputy manager at a temporary waste storage site in Naraha, defended the 3,000 workers doing the work — the only people allowed to stay in the town.
"Most of the cleanup workers are working sincerely and hard," Hara said. "They are doing a good job of washing down houses and cleaning up gardens. Such criticism is really unfair, and bad for morale."
Labour shortages, lax oversight and massive amounts of funds budgeted for the clean-up are a recipe for cheating. And plenty of money is at stake: the cleanup of a 20-kilometre (12-mile) segment of an expressway whose worst contamination exceeds allowable radiation limits by 10 times will cost 2.1 billion yen ($22.5 billion), said Yoshinari Yoshida, an Environment Ministry official.
"While decontamination is a must, the government is bearing the burden. We have to consider the cost factor," said deputy Environment Minister Shinji Inoue as he watched workers pressure wash the road's surface, a process Yoshida said was expected to reduce contamination by half.
The cleanup is bound to overrun its budget by several times, as delays deepen due to a lack of long-term storage options as opposition among local residents in many areas hardens. It will leave Fukushima, whose huge farm and fisheries industry has been walloped by radiation fears, with 31 million tons of nuclear waste or more. Around Naraha, huge temporary dumps of radioactive waste, many football fields in size and stacked two huge bags deep, are scattered around the disaster zone
The cleanups extend beyond Fukushima, to Iwate in the north and Chiba, which neighbours Tokyo, in the south. And the concerns are not limited to radiation. A walk through areas in Miyagi and Iwate that already were cleared of debris finds plenty of toxic detritus, such as batteries from cellphones, electrical wiring, plastic piping and gas canisters.
Japan has the technology to safely burn up most toxins at very high temperatures, with minimal emissions of PCBs, mercury and other poisons. But mounds of wood chips in a seaside processing area near Kesennuma were emitting smoke into the air one recent winter afternoon, possibly from spontaneous combustion.
Workers at that site had high-grade gas masks, an improvement from the early days, when many working in the disaster zone had only surgical masks, at most, to protect them from contaminated dust and smoke.
Overall, how well the debris and contaminants are being handled depends largely on the location.
Sendai, the biggest city in the region, sorted debris as it was collected and sealed the surfaces of areas used to store debris for processing to protect the groundwater, thanks to technical advice from its sister-city Kyoto, home to many experts who advised the government in its cleanup of the 1995 earthquake in the Kobe-Osaka area that killed more than 6,400 people.
But Ishinomaki, a city of more than 160,000, collected its debris first and is only gradually sorting and processing it, said the U.S.-educated Nakayama, who worked for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency before returning to Japan.
"There were no technical experts there for the waste management side," he said. "They did some good work with chemical monitoring but in total, risk assessment, risk management, unfortunately they did not have that expertise."
Ultimately, just as they are choosing to live with contamination from chemicals and other toxins, the authorities may have to reconsider their determination to completely clean up the radiation, given the effort's cost and limited effectiveness, experts say.
Regarding the nuclear accident, "there has been so much emphasis on decontamination that no other options were considered," said Hiroshi Suzuki, a professor emeritus at Tohoku University in Sendai and chairman of the Fukushima Prefectural Reconstruction Committee.
Some places, such as playgrounds, obviously must be cleaned up. But others, such as forests, should just be left alone, since gathering or burning radioactive materials concentrates them — the opposite of what is needed since the more diluted they are, the better.
To a certain extent, policy is being dictated by politics, said Suzuki.
Before the accident, residents believed they were completely safe, he said. "The authorities want to be able to tell them once again that the area is safe. To do this they need to return it to the state that it was in before the accident."
Naraha resident Yoshimasa Murakami, a 79-year-old farmer, said he has low expectations.
A month after the government started cleaning his spacious home he has not seen a major decrease in radiation, he said while sitting on a balcony overlooking his traditional Japanese garden.
He set a dosimeter on the grass. It measured radiation nearly five times the target level and almost the same as the 1.09 microsieverts per hour found when officials surveyed it in December.
Murakami had come to the house for the day. He, his wife and daughter now live 50 kilometres (30 miles) away in Koriyama city.
He visits a few times a week to keep an eye on the cleanup workers. At nearly 80, Murakami says he doesn't mind about the radiation, but his wife does. And if he returns, his other relatives and grandchildren will be afraid to visit.
"Then, what's the point?" he said.
"I don't think decontamination is going to work," Murakami said. "The nuclear crisis is not fully over, and you never know, something still can go wrong."

12. Pentagon's new massive expansion of 'cyber-security' unit is about everything except defense Cyber-threats are the new pretext to justify expansion of power and profit for the public-private National Security State

Glenn Greenwald
As the US government depicts the Defense Department as shrinking due to budgetary constraints, the Washington Post this morning announces "a major expansion of [the Pentagon's] cybersecurity force over the next several years, increasing its size more than fivefold." Specifically, says the New York Times this morning, "the expansion would increase the Defense Department's Cyber Command by more than 4,000 people, up from the current 900." The Post describes this expansion as "part of an effort to turn an organization that has focused largely on defensive measures into the equivalent of an Internet-era fighting force." This Cyber Command Unit operates under the command of Gen. Keith Alexander, who also happens to be the head of the National Security Agency, the highly secretive government network that spies on the communications of foreign nationals - and American citizens.
The Pentagon's rhetorical justification for this expansion is deeply misleading. Beyond that, these activities pose a wide array of serious threats to internet freedom, privacy, and international law that, as usual, will be conducted with full-scale secrecy and with little to no oversight and accountability. And, as always, there is a small army of private-sector corporations who will benefit most from this expansion.

Disguising aggression as "defense"
Let's begin with the way this so-called "cyber-security" expansion has been marketed. It is part of a sustained campaign which, quite typically, relies on blatant fear-mongering.

In March, 2010, the Washington Post published an amazing Op-Ed by Adm. Michael McConnell, Bush's former Director of National Intelligence and a past and current executive with Booz Allen, a firm representing numerous corporate contractors which profit enormously each time the government expands its "cyber-security" activities. McConnell's career over the last two decades - both at Booz, Allen and inside the government - has been devoted to accelerating the merger between the government and private sector in all intelligence, surveillance and national security matters (it was he who led the successful campaign to retroactively immunize the telecom giants for their participation in the illegal NSA domestic spying program). Privatizing government cyber-spying and cyber-warfare is his primary focus now.

McConnell's Op-Ed was as alarmist and hysterical as possible. Claiming that "the United States is fighting a cyber-war today, and we are losing", it warned that "chaos would result" from an enemy cyber-attack on US financial systems and that "our power grids, air and ground transportation, telecommunications, and water-filtration systems are in jeopardy as well." Based on these threats, McConnell advocated that "we" - meaning "the government and the private sector" - "need to develop an early-warning system to monitor cyberspace" and that "we need to reengineer the Internet to make attribution, geolocation, intelligence analysis and impact assessment - who did it, from where, why and what was the result - more manageable." As Wired's Ryan Singel wrote: "He's talking about changing the internet to make everything anyone does on the net traceable and geo-located so the National Security Agency can pinpoint users and their computers for retaliation."

The same week the Post published McConnell's extraordinary Op-Ed, the Obama White House issued its own fear-mongering decree on cyber-threats, depicting the US as a vulnerable victim to cyber-aggression. It began with this sentence: "President Obama has identified cybersecurity as one of the most serious economic and national security challenges we face as a nation, but one that we as a government or as a country are not adequately prepared to counter." It announced that "the Executive Branch was directed to work closely with all key players in US cybersecurity, including state and local governments and the private sector" and to "strengthen public/private partnerships", and specifically announced Obama's intent to "to implement the recommendations of the Cyberspace Policy Review built on the Comprehensive National Cybersecurity Initiative (CNCI) launched by President George W. Bush."

Since then, the fear-mongering rhetoric from government officials has relentlessly intensified, all devoted to scaring citizens into believing that the US is at serious risk of cataclysmic cyber-attacks from "aggressors". This all culminated when Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, last October, warned of what he called a "cyber-Pearl Harbor". This "would cause physical destruction and the loss of life, an attack that would paralyze and shock the nation and create a profound new sense of vulnerability." Identifying China, Iran, and terrorist groups, he outlined a parade of horribles scarier than anything since Condoleezza Rice's 2002 Iraqi "mushroom cloud":

"An aggressor nation or extremist group could use these kinds of cyber tools to gain control of critical switches. They could derail passenger trains, or even more dangerous, derail passenger trains loaded with lethal chemicals. They could contaminate the water supply in major cities, or shut down the power grid across large parts of the country."

As usual, though, reality is exactly the opposite. This massive new expenditure of money is not primarily devoted to defending against cyber-aggressors. The US itself is the world's leading cyber-aggressor. A major purpose of this expansion is to strengthen the US's ability to destroy other nations with cyber-attacks. Indeed, even the Post report notes that a major component of this new expansion is to "conduct offensive computer operations against foreign adversaries".

It is the US - not Iran, Russia or "terror" groups - which already is the first nation (in partnership with Israel) to aggressively deploy a highly sophisticated and extremely dangerous cyber-attack. Last June, the New York Times' David Sanger reported what most of the world had already suspected: "From his first months in office, President Obama secretly ordered increasingly sophisticated attacks on the computer systems that run Iran's main nuclear enrichment facilities, significantly expanding America's first sustained use of cyberweapons." In fact, Obama "decided to accelerate the attacks . . . even after an element of the program accidentally became public in the summer of 2010 because of a programming error that allowed it to escape Iran's Natanz plant and sent it around the world on the Internet." According to the Sanger's report, Obama himself understood the significance of the US decision to be the first to use serious and aggressive cyber-warfare:

"Mr. Obama, according to participants in the many Situation Room meetings on Olympic Games, was acutely aware that with every attack he was pushing the United States into new territory, much as his predecessors had with the first use of atomic weapons in the 1940s, of intercontinental missiles in the 1950s and of drones in the past decade. He repeatedly expressed concerns that any American acknowledgment that it was using cyberweapons - even under the most careful and limited circumstances - could enable other countries, terrorists or hackers to justify their own attacks."
The US isn't the vulnerable victim of cyber-attacks. It's the leading perpetrator of those attacks. As Columbia Professor and cyber expert Misha Glenny wrote in the NYT last June: Obama's cyber-attack on Iran "marked a significant and dangerous turning point in the gradual militarization of the Internet."


Indeed, exactly as Obama knew would happen, revelations that it was the US which became the first country to use cyber-warfare against a sovereign country - just as it was the first to use the atomic bomb and then drones - would make it impossible for it to claim with any credibility (except among its own media and foreign policy community) that it was in a defensive posture when it came to cyber-warfare. As Professor Glenny wrote: "by introducing such pernicious viruses as Stuxnet and Flame, America has severely undermined its moral and political credibility." That's why, as the Post reported yesterday, the DOJ is engaged in such a frantic and invasive effort to root out Sanger's source: because it reveals the obvious truth that the US is the leading aggressor in the world when it comes to cyber-weapons.

This significant expansion under the Orwellian rubric of "cyber-security" is thus a perfect microcosm of US military spending generally. It's all justified under by the claim that the US must defend itself from threats from Bad, Aggressive Actors, when the reality is the exact opposite: the new program is devoted to ensuring that the US remains the primary offensive threat to the rest of the world. It's the same way the US develops offensive biological weapons under the guise of developing defenses against such weapons (such as the 2001 anthrax that the US government itself says came from a US Army lab). It's how the US government generally convinces its citizens that it is a peaceful victim of aggression by others when the reality is that the US builds more weapons, sells more arms and bombs more countries than virtually the rest of the world combined.
Threats to privacy and internet freedom

Beyond the aggressive threat to other nations posed by the Pentagon's "cyber-security" programs, there is the profound threat to privacy, internet freedom, and the ability to communicate freely for US citizens and foreign nationals alike. The US government has long viewed these "cyber-security" programs as a means of monitoring and controlling the internet and disseminating propaganda. The fact that this is all being done under the auspices of the NSA and the Pentagon means, by definition, that there will be no transparency and no meaningful oversight.
Back in 2003, the Rumsfeld Pentagon prepared a secret report entitled "Information Operations (IO) Roadmap", which laid the foundation for this new cyber-warfare expansion. The Pentagon's self-described objective was "transforming IO into a core military competency on par with air, ground, maritime and special operations". In other words, its key objective was to ensure military control over internet-based communications:

It further identified superiority in cyber-attack capabilities as a vital military goal in PSYOPs (Psychological Operations) and "information-centric fights":

And it set forth the urgency of dominating the "IO battlespace" not only during wartime but also in peacetime:

As a 2006 BBC report on this Pentagon document noted: "Perhaps the most startling aspect of the roadmap is its acknowledgement that information put out as part of the military's psychological operations, or Psyops, is finding its way onto the computer and television screens of ordinary Americans." And while the report paid lip service to the need to create "boundaries" for these new IO military activities, "they don't seem to explain how." Regarding the report's plan to "provide maximum control of the entire electromagnetic spectrum", the BBC noted: "Consider that for a moment. The US military seeks the capability to knock out every telephone, every networked computer, every radar system on the planet."
Since then, there have been countless reports of the exploitation by the US national security state to destroy privacy and undermine internet freedom. In November, the LA Times described programs that "teach students how to spy in cyberspace, the latest frontier in espionage." They "also are taught to write computer viruses, hack digital networks, crack passwords, plant listening devices and mine data from broken cellphones and flash drives." The program, needless to say, "has funneled most of its graduates to the CIA and the Pentagon's National Security Agency, which conducts America's digital spying. Other graduates have taken positions with the FBI, NASA and the Department of Homeland Security."

In 2010, Lawrence E. Strickling, Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Communications and Information, gave a speech explicitly announcing that the US intends to abandon its policy of "leaving the Internet alone". Noting that this "has been the nation's Internet policy since the Internet was first commercialized in the mid-1990s", he decreed: "This was the right policy for the United States in the early stages of the Internet, and the right message to send to the rest of the world. But that was then and this is now."

The documented power of the US government to monitor and surveil internet communications is already unfathomably massive. Recall that the Washington Post's 2010 "Top Secret America" series noted that: "Every day, collection systems at the National Security Agency intercept and store 1.7 billion e-mails, phone calls and other types of communications." And the Obama administration has formally demanded that it have access to any and all forms of internet communication.
It is hard to overstate the danger to privacy and internet freedom from a massive expansion of the National Security State's efforts to exploit and control the internet. As Wired's Singel wrote back in 2010:

"Make no mistake, the military industrial complex now has its eye on the internet. Generals want to train crack squads of hackers and have wet dreams of cyberwarfare. Never shy of extending its power, the military industrial complex wants to turn the internet into yet another venue for an arms race".

Wildly exaggerated cyber-threats are the pretext for this control, the "mushroom cloud" and the Tonkin Gulf fiction of cyber-warfare. As Singel aptly put it: "the only war going on is one for the soul of the internet." That's the vital context for understanding this massive expansion of Pentagon and NSA consolidated control over cyber programs.
Bonanza for private contractors

As always, it is not just political power but also private-sector profit driving this expansion. As military contracts for conventional war-fighting are modestly reduced, something needs to replace it, and these large-scale "cyber-security" contracts are more than adequate. Virtually every cyber-security program from the government is carried out in conjunction with its "private-sector partners", who receive large transfers of public funds for this work.

Two weeks ago, Business Week reported that "Lockheed Martin Corp., AT&T Inc., and CenturyLink Inc. are the first companies to sign up for a US program giving them classified information on cyber threats that they can package as security services for sale to other companies." This is part of a government effort "to create a market based on classified US information about cyber threats." In May, it was announced that "the Pentagon is expanding and making permanent a trial program that teams the government with Internet service providers to protect defense firms' computer networks against data theft by foreign adversaries" - all as "part of a larger effort to broaden the sharing of classified and unclassified cyberthreat data between the government and industry."
Indeed, there is a large organization of defense and intelligence contractors devoted to one goal: expanding the private-public merger for national security and intelligence functions. This organization - the Intelligence and National Security Alliance (INSA) - was formerly headed by Adm. McConnell, and describes itself as a "collaboration by leaders from throughout the US Intelligence Community" which "combines the experience of senior leaders from government, the private sector, and academia."

As I detailed back in 2010, one of its primary goals is to scare the nation about supposed cyber-threats in order to justify massive new expenditures for the private-sector intelligence industry on cyber-security measures and vastly expanded control over the internet. Indeed, in his 2010 Op-Ed, Adm. McConnell expressly acknowledged that the growing privatization of internet cyber-security programs "will muddy the waters between the traditional roles of the government and the private sector." At the very same time McConnell published this Op-Ed, the INSA website featured a report entitled "Addressing Cyber Security Through Public-Private Partnership." It featured a genuinely creepy graphic showing the inter-connectedness between government institutions (such as Congress and regulatory agencies), the Surveillance State, private intelligence corporations, and the Internet:
Private-sector profit is now inextricably linked with the fear-mongering campaign over cyber-threats. At one INSA conference in 2009 - entitled "Cyber Deterrence Conference" - government officials and intelligence industry executives gathered together to stress that "government and private sector actors should emphasize collaboration and partnership through the creation of a model that assigns specific roles and responsibilities."
As intelligence contractor expert Tim Shorrock told Democracy Now when McConnell - then at Booz Allen - was first nominated to be DNI:

Well, the NSA, the National Security Agency, is really sort of the lead agency in terms of outsourcing . . . . Booz Allen is one of about, you know, ten large corporations that play a very major role in American intelligence. Every time you hear about intelligence watching North Korea or tapping al-Qaeda phones, something like that, you can bet that corporations like these are very heavily involved. And Booz Allen is one of the largest of these contractors. I estimate that about 50% of our $45 billion intelligence budget goes to private sector contractors like Booz Allen.
This public-private merger for intelligence and surveillance functions not only vests these industries with large-scale profits at public expense, but also the accompanying power that was traditionally reserved for government. And unlike government agencies, which are at least subjected in theory to some minimal regulatory oversight, these private-sector actors have virtually none, even as their surveillance and intelligence functions rapidly increase.
What Dwight Eisenhower called the military-industrial complex has been feeding itself on fear campaigns since it was born. A never-ending carousel of Menacing Enemies - Communists, Terrorists, Latin American Tyrants, Saddam's chemical weapons, Iranian mullahs - has sustained it, and Cyber-Threats are but the latest.
Like all of these wildly exaggerated cartoon menaces, there is some degree of threat posed by cyber-attacks. But, as Singel described, all of this can be managed with greater security systems for public and private computer networks - just as some modest security measures are sufficient to deal with the terrorist threat.

This new massive expansion has little to do with any actual cyber-threat - just as the invasion of Iraq and global assassination program have little to do with actual terrorist threats. It is instead all about strengthening the US's offensive cyber-war capabilities, consolidating control over the internet, and ensuring further transfers of massive public wealth to private industry continue unabated. In other words, it perfectly follows the template used by the public-private US National Security State over the last six decades to entrench and enrich itself based on pure pretext.

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