Daily Archives: October 6, 2009

New York to fight terrorism with more street-corner cameras, license plate readers, and “weapons sensors”

NYPD Security

New York Police Department Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly, left, and New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg stand by during a news conference at the Lower Manhattan Security Coordination Center in New York on Sunday. Tina Fineberg / AP

Mayor Bloomberg moves to expand high-tech surveillance to midtown Manhattan. But civil liberties groups are concerned, and some security experts question its value.

Christian Science Monitor | Oct 6, 2009

By Ron Scherer

New York – On the heels of breaking up an alleged bomb terror plot, New York is planning to place high-tech security cameras, license plate readers, and “weapons sensors” in midtown Manhattan.

Office workers and tourists – and possible terrorists – will have cameras watching their every move as they visit Macy’s, shop for diamonds at Tiffany & Co., or gawk in Times Square. The apparatus, paid for by some $24 million in Department of Homeland Security funding, will expand a similar effort already underway in lower Manhattan where cameras focus on the Federal Reserve, the New York Stock Exchange, and the Brooklyn Bridge.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg, announcing the program Sunday, said the goal is to detect terrorism threats and deter pre-operational surveillance. Sensors will try to detect chemical, biological, and radiological threats.

But some terrorism experts have questioned whether a camera network will deter terrorists. They also say that sensors are known to give off “false positives.”

Meanwhile, civil rights organizations are concerned that the project will be another encroachment on civil liberties.

“The fear is [that] the NYPD without any oversight or public scrutiny is creating a massive surveillance system, when we don’t know if this is the best use of $125 million designed to keep us safe,” says Donna Lieberman, executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU). The NYCLU has filed two lawsuits to try to get more public information about the program.

In March, New York Police Department (NYPD) commissioner Raymond Kelly indicated in testimony before the City Council that 1,000 police officers are involved in anti-terrorism work daily, and that he hoped to add 500 more cameras to the 500 already installed.

But there did not appear to be any discussion at the hearing about whether the effort is worthwhile or what kind of civil rights safeguards might be needed.

“There are legitimate arguments on all sides here,” says Frank Cilluffo, head of George Washington University’s Homeland Security Policy Institute in Washington. “What I would like to see is a broader discussion that brings in the average citizen.”

Probably the largest use of security cameras is in London, which has put what it terms a “Ring of Steel” of thousands of security cameras all around the city. But some security experts question their effectiveness.

“They won’t stop any terrorist,” says Bruce Schneier, chief security technology officer at BT (formerly British Telecom) and a widely-published author on security. “None of them is going to look at a camera and say ‘I better go get a real job.’ ”

The only time cameras reduce crime is in parking lots and laundromats, Mr. Schneier says.

“It only makes sense if the tactics and targets are few, but there are billions of targets ranging from shopping malls to restaurants and dozens of tactics,” he adds.

However, Brian Jackson, associate director of the Homeland Security Research Program at the Rand Institute in Washington, says the cameras create “the possibility for prevention” of an attack. He says cameras add a level of concern for the terrorists.

“Surveillance is one ingredient that gives the terrorists more opportunities to make a mistake and be discovered,” says Mr. Jackson.

As for using sensors that detect biological and radiological weapons , Mr. Cilluffo says they often give off false positives or false negatives. “They tend to be only successful in events that can easily be contained like the State of the Union address or conventions,” he says. “Once they are in a more dynamic environment, I’m not sure where the science is on that.”

But the science of cameras is progressing fast, raising the possibility of even more “Big Brother”-like scenarios.

“Cameras are everywhere and you can see them,” says Schneier, “In ten years, you won’t even be able to see them.”

Science chief argued for population control to limit ‘global cooling’

Obama Science

Holdren warned of coming ice age

WorldNetDaily | Oct 6, 2009

By Jerome R. Corsi

What is clear from the record going back over nearly four decades is that White House science czar John Holdren is a climate alarmist, even if he can’t make up his mind whether the crisis is the Earth warming up or cooling down.

But long before Holdren was the global warming Cassandra he is today, he was a global cooling alarmist predicting a new ice age.

The only consistency seems to be that Holdren has always utilized climate hysteria to argue that government must mandate public policy measures to prevent imminent and otherwise unavoidable climate catastrophes.

In the 1970s, Holdren’s theme was that government-mandated population control was essential to prevent “eco-disasters” such as the foreseen coming new ice age; today Holdren urges immediate passage of the Obama administration’s proposed cap-and-trade legislation to control carbon emissions before it is too late to save the planet from global warming.

The new ice age Holdren predicted in the 1970s failed to materialize, just as WND has reported an increasing number of scientists are discounting claims mankind has significant influence on global climate.

Still, Holdren remains a climate alarmist, now with an important government policy position as science czar in the Obama White House.

WND has obtained a copy of a college textbook Holdren co-edited with Malthusian population alarmist Paul R. Ehrlich in 1971, entitled “Global Ecology,” now a rare out-of-print book that cost WND over $100 to buy on Amazon.

Warning the world was headed for a new ice age unless the government mandated urgent measures to control population, including the possibility of involuntary birth control measures such as forced sterilizations, Holdren predicted “ecocide” or the “destruction of all life on this planet” were a possible consequence of inaction.

In an essay contained in the textbook entitled “Overpopulation and the Potential for Ecocide,” Holden and Ehrlich predicted on pages 76-77 a “world cooling trend” they estimated at measuring “about 2 degrees Celsius in the world mean surface temperature over the past century.”

Holdren and Ehrlich attributed the cause of global cooling to “a reduced transparency of the atmosphere to incoming light as a result of urban air pollutions (smoke, aerosols), agriculture air pollution (dust), and volcanic oil.” (Parenthesis in original text.)

The authors worried “a mere 1 percent increase in low cloud cover would decrease the surface temperature by .8?C” and that “a decrease of 4?C would probably be sufficient to cause another ice age.”

Holdren and Ehrlich warned, “The effects of a new ice age on agriculture and the supportability of large populations scarcely need elaboration here.”

They continued: “Even more dramatic results are possible, however; for instance, a sudden outward slumping in the Antarctic ice cap, induced by added weight, could generate a tidal wave of proportions unprecedented in recorded history.”

The authors then predicted global cooling could “give way to global warming,” writing: “If man survives the comparatively short-term threat of making the planet too cold, there is every indication he is quite capable of making it too warm not long thereafter.”

Why? Because overpopulation would lead to increased energy consumption and energy consumption would produce more heat, the authors argued.

Holdren and Ehrlich explained, “The present rate of increase in energy use, if continued, will bring us in about a century to the point where our heat input could have drastic global consequences. Again, the exact form such consequences might take is unknown; the melting of the icecaps with a concomitant 150 foot increase in sea level might be one of them.”

Interestingly, Holdren predicted the “short-term” nature of a coming new ice age was not caused by increased population putting increased carbon dioxide greenhouse gas into the atmosphere, but simply because of the heat output of energy use itself.

As Zomblog commented, when first reporting on Holdren’s ice age prediction: “In other words, it’s not the greenhouse effect that will get us in the long run, but merely energy generation itself as a concept; even nuclear energy, which produces no greenhouse gases, is bad because it produces energy which inevitably becomes heat.”

Holdren and Ehrlich conclude their essay predictably, by calling for population control: “Simple arithmetic makes it plain that indefinite population growth in the finite space allotted to us is impossible.”

As the title of the essay suggests, among the possible costs of not controlling climate disaster caused by overpopulation is “ecocide,” or “the destruction of all life on this planet.”

In the first essay in the reader, entitled “Population and Panaceas,” Holdren and Ehrlich wrote on page 21 of the textbook: “But it cannot be emphasized enough that if the population control measures are not initiated immediately and effectively, all the technology man can bring to bear will not fend off the misery to come.”

And, again, on the same page: “We should ask, for example, how many vasectomies could be performed by a program funded with the $1.8 billion required to build a single agro-industrial complex, and what the relative impact on the problem would be in both the short and long terms.”

Later, on page 210 in the reader, reacting to a paper published in the textbook that considered involuntary fertility control including the use of a “fertility control agent” placed in the water supply by the government to limit births and compulsory sterilization of men with three or more living children, Holdren and Ehrlich say the political acceptability of such techniques is a relative moral judgment that might be justified if the alternatives involved “famine, war, epidemic, or the loss of habitability of this planet.”

But in recent years, Holdren has dropped his concern about a new ice age in deference to his alarmism over global warming.

Holdren, testifying to the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Technology July 30, warned of the following: “The air and the oceans are warming, mountain glaciers are disappearing, sea ice is shrinking, permafrost is thawing, the great land ice sheets on Greenland and Antarctica are showing signs of instability, and sea level is rising.”

His testimony continued to enumerate dire human consequences he foresaw if new public policy measures such as cap-and-trade were not enacted immediately.

“And the consequences for human well-being are already being felt: more heat waves, floods, droughts, and wildfires; tropical diseases reaching into the temperate zones; vast areas of forest destroyed by pest outbreaks linked to warming; alterations in patterns of rainfall on which agriculture depends; and coastal property increasingly at risk from the surging seas.”

Holdren’s believes human-produced carbon dioxide is the No. 1 culprit: “We know the primary cause of these perils beyond any reasonable doubt. It is the emission of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping pollutants from our factories, our vehicles, and our power plants, and from use of our land in ways that move carbon from soils and vegetation into the atmosphere in the form of CO2.”

He warned of the failure to act now.

“Devastating increases in the power of the strongest hurricanes, sharp drops in the productivity of farms and ocean fisheries, a dramatic acceleration of species extinctions, and inundation of low-lying areas by rising sea level are among the possible outcomes.”

Holdren’s current concerns about global warming led him to contribute data for charts used in Vice President Al Gore’s 2006 Oscar-winning documentary “An Inconvenient Truth.”

Gore’s movie does not entertain the possibility that instead of global warming, the Earth might instead experience a new ice age.

Did Autism Rates Double?

A New Survey of Parents Leaves More Questions About Autism Than Answers

ABC | Oct 5, 2009

By LAUREN COX and SARAH SARGENTI

Parents are reporting cases of autism at double the rate of the last U.S. government survey in 2003, prompting calls for more research and spawning doubts about the true number of children affected.

Researchers estimate that now 1.1 percent, or 1 in 91 children, were told they had a disorder on the autism spectrum, according to a parent survey on the health of more than 78,000 children included in the National Survey of Children’s Health. The last survey, conducted in 2003, estimated just 0.57 percent of children had autism.

But whether a change in diagnosis criteria or some factor in the children’s environment, or a combination of the two, led to the jump in reported cases remains unclear.

“This [survey] means that there are a whole lot of families struggling with this and not enough resources,” said Rita Sheffler, a mother of a child with autism and a member of the National Autism Association. “We need more funding and research and need it right away. If children don’t receive appropriate treatments [at a young age], there aren’t enough facilities for adults and society is not prepared if they do not find meaningful treatments.”

Although many doctors are fighting for research dollars to investigate autism, specialists do not necessarily trust the numbers as an official estimate, especially because the survey wasn’t set up to confirm or explore each time a parent reported an autism diagnosis.

“This should not be the ‘official’ estimate,” said Dr. Max Wiznitzer, a pediatric neurologist at University Hospitals in Cleveland.

“While the authors state that the survey results [and previous surveys] are similar to results of reviews of records, both have a limitation — the assumption that the parent report and the records accurately reflect the diagnosis,” he said

Some of the reporting seemed to match to well-documented statistics, such as the fact that boys were four times more likely to be diagnosed with autism than girls in the survey, a commonly known gender difference in the autism community.

However, the high rate of recovery from autism reported by the parents raised the suspicions of doctors.

Full Story

U.S. autism rates ‘shocking’: Advocate

canada.com | Oct 6, 2009

“Shocking” new autism data released in the U.S. on Monday sent reverberations across the border and renewed calls for Canadian government agencies to get a grip on autism rates in this country.

The U.S. data found the prevalence of autism spectrum disorder has continued to increase, and now affects one per cent of children in the U.S., according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.

The CDC said it went public with the findings, because they were similar to those published Monday by the Boston-based medical journal Pediatrics, which found that ASD affected one in 91 children — including 1 in 58 boys — in the U.S.

“These data affirm that a concerted and substantial national response is warranted,” said the CDC in a statement.

The published Pediatrics study, done by the Health Resources and Services Administration, surveyed by telephone 78,000 parents with children aged three to 17.

Suzanne Lanthier, of Autism Speaks Canada, said the U.S. data were “shocking” and should motivate Canadian health authorities to focus their energies on dealing with autism.

“We need to start paying attention to that, and putting significant resources into finding out why this is happening,” said Lanthier.

Lanthier said Canada does not have similar national data on domestic autism rates.

Autism advocacy groups in Canada have relied on the previous 1-in-150 rate released by the CDC in 2007, said Lanthier.

“Given what we have seen, there is no reason to believe that Canadian rates would be significantly different from the U.S.,” said Lanthier.

Canadian studies have pegged child ASD rates in Canada at between one in 147 and one in 165.

ASD is a group of developmental disabilities that cause social, communication and behavioural problems. The disabilities include autistic disorder, Asperger’s syndrome and pervasive developmental disorder.

The cause of autism is still a matter of debate.

American Police Force modifies name, changes logo to “ease tensions”

American Private Police Force new logo

montanasnewsstation.com | Oct 5, 2009

In the latest twist of events, the American Police Force has modified its name on its website.

Formerly seen as “American Police Force,” visitors to the website will now read, “American Private Police Force.”

According to the company’s spokeswoman, Becky Shay, the company’s official name has always been “American Private Police Force Organization.”

“That’s how it’s incorporated in California,” explains Shay.

Shay also says “APF” has become the common acronym for the company because it’s shorter and easier.

But, the modified name isn’t the only change on the site’s homepage.  The site now boasts a new crest in blue with a touch of red and features a double-headed eagle.

APPF has received criticism for displaying a similar crest, which was yellow and red.  Critics say the old crest looked like the Serbian Coat of Arms.

Shay says Captain Michael Hilton, the face of the California-based company, redesigned the website because there are many positive and negative political affiliations to the old crest.

“It was the quickest way to ease tensions they’re under right now,” Shay explains.

Official documents say that Hilton is a naturalized citizen from Montenegro and that’s where he drew his inspiration for APPF’s crest.

APPF is in negotiation to take over the empty Two Rivers Detention Center in Hardin.

Two Rivers Authority is meeting Monday afternoon to finalize the contract.