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Secret U.S. War Widens, Approval of GMO Beets Revoked, Police Use of GPS Tracking
Revealing News Articles
August 16, 2010

Dear friends,

Below are key excerpts of revealing news articles on the widening of secret U.S. warfare in more than a dozen countries, the revocation by a federal judge of the Department of Agriculture's approval of GMO beets for commercial cultivation, court battles over police use of GPS tracking devices for round-the-clock surveillance, and more. Each excerpt is taken verbatim from the major media website listed at the link provided. If any link fails to function, click here. The most important sentences are highlighted. By choosing to educate ourselves and to spread the word, we can and will build a brighter future.

With best wishes,
Tod Fletcher and Fred Burks for PEERS and WantToKnow.info


Secret U.S. War Widens on Two Continents
August 15, 2010, New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/15/world/15shadowwar.html

In roughly a dozen countries – from the deserts of North Africa, to the mountains of Pakistan, to former Soviet republics crippled by ethnic and religious strife – the United States has significantly increased military and intelligence operations, ... using robotic drones and commando teams, paying contractors to spy and training local operatives. The White House has intensified the Central Intelligence Agency's drone missile campaign in Pakistan, approved raids ... in Somalia and launched clandestine operations from Kenya. The administration has worked with European allies ... in North Africa, efforts that include a recent French strike in Algeria. And the Pentagon tapped a network of private contractors to gather intelligence ... in Pakistan. While the stealth war began in the Bush administration, it has expanded under President Obama, who rose to prominence in part for his early opposition to the invasion of Iraq. Virtually none of the newly aggressive steps undertaken by the United States government have been publicly acknowledged. In contrast with the troop buildup in Afghanistan, which came after months of robust debate, for example, the American military campaign in Yemen began without notice in December and has never been officially confirmed.

Note: For many revealing reports on the secret operations of the US military and intelligence services in its "global war on terrorism", click here.


Judge Revokes Approval of Modified Sugar Beets
August 14, 2010, New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/14/business/14sugar.html

A federal district court judge revoked the government's approval of genetically engineered sugar beets [on August 13], saying that the Agriculture Department had not adequately assessed the environmental consequences before approving them for commercial cultivation. The decision, by Judge Jeffrey S. White of Federal District Court in San Francisco, appears to effectively ban the planting of the genetically modified sugar beets, which make up about 95 percent of the crop, until the Agriculture Department prepares an environmental impact statement and approves the crop again, a process that might take a couple of years. Beets supply about half the nation's sugar, with the rest coming from sugar cane. Sugar beet growers sold the 2007-8 crop for about $1.335 billion, according to government data. The decision came in a lawsuit organized by the Center for Food Safety, a Washington advocacy group that opposes biotech crops. In his order ... the judge granted the plaintiffs' request to formally vacate the approval of the beets. That would bar farmers from growing them outside of a field trial. Andrew Kimbrell, executive director of the Center for Food Safety, said the ruling was another sign the Agriculture Department was not doing its job. "This is regulation by litigation," he said.

Note: For a highly-informative survey of the dangers of genetically-modified foods, click here.


Canola, Pushed by Genetics, Moves Into Uncharted Territories
August 10, 2010, New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/10/science/10canola.html

Genetically engineered versions of the canola plant are flourishing in the form of roadside weeds in North Dakota, scientists say, in one of the first instances of a genetically modified crop establishing itself in the wild. Critics of biotech crops have long warned that it is hard to keep genes – in this case, genes conferring resistance to common herbicides – from spreading with unwanted consequences. The roadside plants apparently start growing when seeds blow from fields or fall out of trucks carrying the crops to market. In the plains of Canada, where canola is widely grown, roadside biotech plants resistant to the herbicide Roundup have become a problem, said Alexis Knispel, who has just completed a doctoral dissertation on the subject at the University of Manitoba. Some farmers, she said, have had to return to plowing their fields to control weeds – a practice that contributes to soil erosion – because they can no longer use Roundup to control the stray canola plants. She also said the proliferation of roadside canola would make it difficult to keep organic canola free of genetically engineered material. The biotech canola has also been found growing in Japan, which does not even grow the crop, only imports it. Scientists have also reported that genetically engineered grass established itself in the wild in Oregon.

Note: For a highly-informative survey of the dangers of genetically-modified foods, click here.


Judges Divided Over Rising GPS Surveillance
August 14, 2010, New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/14/us/14gps.html

The growing use by the police of new technologies that make surveillance far easier and cheaper to conduct is raising difficult questions about the scope of constitutional privacy rights. The issue is whether the Fourth Amendment's protection against unreasonable searches covers a device that records a suspect's movements for weeks or months without any need for an officer to trail him. The GPS tracking dispute coincides with a burst of other technological tools that expand police monitoring abilities – including ... the widely discussed prospect of linking face-recognition computer programs to the proliferating number of surveillance cameras. Some legal scholars ... have called for a fundamental rethinking of how to apply Fourth Amendment privacy rights in the 21st century. Traditionally, courts have held that the Fourth Amendment does not cover the trailing of a suspect because people have no expectation of privacy for actions exposed to public view. On [August 12], five judges on the San Francisco appeals court dissented from a decision not to re-hear a ruling upholding the warrantless use of GPS trackers. Chief Judge Alex Kozinski characterized the tactic as "creepy and un-American" and contended that its capabilities handed "the government the power to track the movements of every one of us, every day of our lives."

Note: For lots more on threats to civil liberties and privacy, click here and here.


Greenland ice sheet faces 'tipping point in 10 years'
August 10, 2010, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2010/aug/10/greenland-ice-sheet-tipping-point

The entire ice mass of Greenland will disappear from the world map if temperatures rise by as little as 2C, with severe consequences for the rest of the world, a panel of scientists told Congress today. Greenland shed its largest chunk of ice in nearly half a century last week, and faces an even grimmer future, according to Richard Alley, a geosciences professor at Pennsylvania State University "Sometime in the next decade we may pass that tipping point which would put us warmer than temperatures that Greenland can survive," Alley told a briefing in Congress, adding that a rise in the range of 2C to 7C would mean the obliteration of Greenland's ice sheet. "What is going on in the Arctic now is the biggest and fastest thing that nature has ever done," he said. Greenland is losing ice mass at an increasing rate, dumping more icebergs into the ocean because of warming temperatures, he said. The stark warning was underlined by the momentous break-up of one of Greenland's largest glaciers last week, which set a 100 sq mile chunk of ice drifting into the North Strait between Greenland and Canada. The ice loss from the Petermann Glacier was the largest such event in nearly 50 years. Andreas Muenchow, professor of ocean science at the University of Delaware, who has been studying the Petermann glacier for several years, said he had been expecting such a break, although he did not anticipate its size.

Note: For key reports from reliable sources on global warming, click here.


Errant climate may be sign of breakdown, scientists say
August 13, 2010, Boston Globe/Associated Press
http://www.boston.com/news/science/articles/2010/08/13/errant_climate...

Floods, fires, melting ice, and feverish heat – from smoke-choked Moscow to water-soaked Iowa and the High Arctic, the planet seems to be having a midsummer breakdown. It is not just a portent of things to come, scientists say, but a sign of troubling climate change already under way. The weather-related cataclysms of July and August fit patterns predicted by climate scientists, the Geneva-based World Meteorological Organization says, although those scientists always shy from tying individual disasters directly to global warming. The specialists see an urgent need for better ways to forecast extreme events like Russia's heat wave and wildfires and the record deluge devastating Pakistan. "There is no time to waste,'' because societies must be equipped to deal with global warming, says British government climatologist Peter Stott. The UN's network of climate scientists, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, has long predicted that rising global temperatures would produce more frequent and intense heat waves and more intense rainfalls. In its latest assessment, in 2007, the Nobel Prize-winning panel went beyond that. It said these trends "have already been observed,'' in an increase in heat waves since 1950, for example. The World Meteorological Organization pointed out that this summer's events fit the international scientists' projections of "more frequent and more intense extreme weather events due to global warming.''

Note: For key reports from reliable sources on global warming, click here.


Profits of doom
July 29, 2010, Times Higher Education (a Times of London publication)
http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/story.asp?sectioncode=26&storycode=412726

Climate change is serious business - in more ways than one. Capitalist 'bootleggers' have co-opted the environmental [movement] to fulfil their raison d'etre - making money. Thanks to the 'greenwash', the solutions could be worse than the problems. Sitting on the board of [a] virtuous-sounding group - the Alliance for Climate Protection (ACP) - is one of the world's most famous green champions, Al Gore. Alongside him sits Theodore Roosevelt IV. Theodore the Fourth is a ... managing director of Barclays Capital. Consider another environmental-economics powerhouse, Generation Investment Management (GIM). Gore founded it ... with the aid of David Blood - chief executive of Goldman Sachs Asset Management from 1999 to 2003. It is economics, not environmentalism, that has driven the search for ethically superior energy from "clean" sources derived from previously sacrosanct areas of wilderness, the exploitation of which has suddenly been legitimised, perhaps as new "energy farms" or for "biofuels". Likewise, previously off-limits coastal areas have been designated as not only suitable but also positively benign sites on which to drill for oil and gas. After all, the long-term interest - one might say the fuel - propelling countries is money. "Greenwash" is the term environmentalists use to describe businesses that present themselves as green although their practices are not.

Note: For lots more on corporate corruption from major media sources, click here.


Bye-Bye Batteries: Radio Waves as a Low-Power Source
July 18, 2010, New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/18/business/18novel.html

Matt Reynolds, an assistant professor in the electrical and computer engineering department at Duke University, wears other hats, too – including that of co-founder of two companies. These days, his interest is in a real hat now in prototype: a hard hat with a tiny microprocessor and beeper that sound a warning when dangerous equipment is nearby on a construction site. What's unusual, however, is that the hat's beeper and microprocessor work without batteries. They use so little power that they can harvest all they need from radio waves in the air. The waves come from wireless network transmitters on backhoes and bulldozers, installed to keep track of their locations. The microprocessor monitors the strength and direction of the radio signal from the construction equipment to determine if the hat's wearer is too close. Dr. Reynolds designed this low-power hat, called the SmartHat, with Jochen Teizer, an assistant professor in the school of civil and environmental engineering at Georgia Tech. They are among several people devising devices and systems that consume so little power that it can be drawn from ambient radio waves, reducing or even eliminating the need for batteries. Their work has been funded in part by the National Science Foundation.

Note: For exciting reports on new energy developments, click here.


Computers to translate world's 'lost' languages after program deciphers ancient text
July 27, 2010, The Daily Mail (One of the UK's largest-circulation newspapers)
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-1296214/Computer-program-translates-ancient-language...

Scientists have used a computer program to decipher a written language that is more than three thousand years old. The program automatically translated the ancient written language of Ugaritic within just a few hours. Ugaritic was last used around 1200 B.C. in western Syria and consists of dots on clay tablets. It was first discovered in 1920 but was not deciphered until 1932. Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology told the program that the language was related to ... Hebrew. Through repeated analysis, the program linked letters and words to map nearly all Ugaritic symbols to their Hebrew equivalents in a matter of hours. The system looks for commonly used symbols in the two languages and gradually refines its mapping of the alphabet until it can go no further. The Ugaritic alphabet has 30 letters, and the system correctly mapped 29 of them to their Hebrew counterparts. Of the words that the two languages shared the program was able to correctly identify 60 per cent of them. Science professor Regina Barzilay, who was leading the research, said: 'Traditionally, decipherment has been viewed as a sort of scholarly detective game, and computers weren't thought to be of much use. Our aim is to bring to bear the full power of modern machine learning and statistics to this problem.' Scientists hope the breakthrough could help them decipher the few ancient languages that they have been unable to translate so far.


But Will It Make You Happy?
August 8, 2010, New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/08/business/08consume.html

A two-bedroom apartment. Two cars. Enough wedding china to serve two dozen people. Yet Tammy Strobel wasn't happy. Working as a project manager with an investment management firm in Davis, Calif., and making about $40,000 a year, she was, as she put it, caught in the "work-spend treadmill." So one day she stepped off. Inspired by books and blog entries about living simply, Ms. Strobel and her husband, Logan Smith, both 31, began donating some of their belongings to charity. Emboldened by a Web site that challenges consumers to live with just 100 personal items, Ms. Strobel winnowed down her wardrobe and toiletries to precisely that number. Today, three years after Ms. Strobel and Mr. Smith began downsizing, they live in Portland, Ore., in a spare, 400-square-foot studio with a nice-sized kitchen. She owns four plates, three pairs of shoes and two pots. With Mr. Smith in his final weeks of school, Ms. Strobel's income of about $24,000 a year covers their bills. "The idea that you need to go bigger to be happy is false," she says. "I really believe that the acquisition of material goods doesn't bring about happiness. Give away some of your stuff," she advises. "See how it feels."


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