Daily Archives: November 15, 2012

Obama Hails Carbon Levy Tax to Cut U.S. Deficit, Seeks “Moral Authority”

bloomberg.com | Nov 7, 2012

By Mathew Carr

Barack Obama may consider introducing a tax on carbon emissions to help cut the U.S. budget deficit after winning a second term as president, according to HSBC Holdings Plc.

A tax starting at $20 a metric ton of carbon dioxide equivalent and rising at about 6 percent a year could raise $154 billion by 2021, Nick Robins, an analyst at the bank in London, said today in an e-mailed research note, citing Congressional Research Service estimates. “Applied to the Congressional Budget Office’s 2012 baseline, this would halve the fiscal deficit by 2022,” Robins said.

Hurricane Sandy sparked discussion on climate protection in the election after presidential candidates focused on other debates, HSBC said. A continued Republican majority in the U.S. House of Representatives means Obama’s scope for action will be limited, Robins said. Cap-and-trade legislation stalled in the U.S. Senate after narrowly passing the house in 2009.

North American discharges fell 1.3 percent last year amid slowing economic growth. In China, the world’s biggest emitter, greenhouse gases from fuel use rose more than 9 percent in 2011, according to BP Plc (BP/) statistics published on June 13.

Global warming stopped 16 years ago, reveals Met Office report quietly released… and here is the chart to prove it

“Cap-and-trade has been demonized” and Obama probably won’t seek to install such a program in his second term, Richard Sandor, founder of the world’s biggest carbon trading exchange in Europe, said today at the presentation in London of his book titled Good Derivatives.

New carbon trading programs in California, China and Brazil may encourage U.S. lawmakers to introduce greenhouse gas trading by about 2020, Sandor said.

‘Moral Authority’

“We’ve lost our moral authority in the U.S.,” he said. “You haven’t here in Europe.”

Prices in the European Union carbon market, the world’s biggest by traded volume, dropped to a four-year low in April on surging supply and flagging demand.

Obama and the U.S. Congress should consider a carbon tax to help meet the government’s looming need for revenue, according to the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions in Arlington, Virginia.

The tax would not necessarily add to the economy’s total tax burden, according to Elliot Diringer, executive vice president of the research group. Such a tax may free up space for reductions in company taxes that dissuade employment, for example, Diringer said in an interview from Arlington.

“We have lots of need for new revenue to address our challenges,” which include priorities for conservatives such as extending tax cuts, avoiding deep defense cuts, reducing the corporate tax rate, reforming tax territoriality, and deficit reduction, the group said today in an e-mailed statement.

“While Sandy’s lessons are still fresh, the president should be clear about the urgency of cutting carbon emissions and strengthening critical infrastructure to protect Americans against the rising costs of climate change,” the group said yesterday in a separate statement.

Winter expected to be colder than normal

Last week, I gave our area snowfall predictions for the upcoming winter. Snowfall totals in our region for November are likely to end up above normal as more snow is expected toward the end of the month.

spokesman.com | Nov 15, 2012

by Randy Mann

Here are general winter regional outlooks for the Pacific Northwest and southwestern Canada, Southern California and northern Mexico, and the northern Great Plains and the Midwest.

Pacific Northwest and southwestern Canada: As ocean temperatures have cooled in the south-central Pacific Ocean to a weak La Nada (in-between La Niña and El Niño) sea-surface temperature event, moisture has increased after a record dry summer.

It now appears that the upcoming winter will be a bit colder and wetter than normal as the storm track will be directed over this area. However, snowfall totals should not be all that high as some of the moisture will fall as rain.

Global warming stopped 16 years ago, reveals Met Office report quietly released… and here is the chart to prove it

The heaviest periods of rain and snow are likely during the middle and end of November, December, January, February and early March. Some of the coldest weather will be near the full moon cycles of December, January and February, especially in areas along the U.S./Canada border.

Southern California, northern Mexico and the Desert Southwest: This upcoming winter will likely have temperatures near normal, but precipitation will be slightly below normal as most of the storms will stay to the north.

The end of December and much of January will provide the best chances for measurable precipitation in this region. Also, it’s possible that very frigid temperatures will move into Southern California’s citrus and vegetable production areas in early to mid-January.

The prairie provinces of Canada, the northern U.S. Great Plains and the Midwest corn and soybean belt: For much of the winter, temperatures should be slightly below normal levels with above normal precipitation. This would likely mean above normal snowfalls for this region.

The best chance for heavy snows across this zone would be toward the end of November, the last week in December and the last week in February or early March. Additional moisture is likely toward the middle of those months, but some of it may fall as rain rather than snow. The last week of January may be very cold across this area.

BP agrees to pay largest criminal fine in US history in $4.5bn Gulf oil spill deal


BP’s deal with the US government and the SEC limits the company’s exposure to further criminal charges and penalties. Photograph: KPA/Zuma/Rex Features

Oil giant will pay $4.5bn to US authorities and agrees to plead guilty to 11 felony counts of misconduct over fatal rig explosion

guardian.co.uk | Nov 15, 2012

by Suzanne Goldenberg and Dominic Rushe

BP has agreed to pay the largest criminal fine in US history – $4.5bn – to resolve all criminal charges arising from the fatal oil rig explosion and catastrophic oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

The company said on Thursday that it had agreed to pay $4bn to the US government over five years, and $525m to the Securities and Exchange Commission. That money will be paid over three years.

The criminal settlement does not settle all of the claims against BP for the April 2010 blowout of the Deepwater Horizon, and the subsequent oil spill.

The oil giant is not yet off the hook for environmental damage to the Gulf of Mexico, and could face billions in restoration costs to waters, coastline and marine life.

But Thursday’s deal does limit BP’s exposure to further criminal charges and penalties, and frees the company to focus on resolving those other civil claims.

The fine is the largest criminal penalty in US history, easily outstripping the previous record of $1.2bn levied by the Justice Department against drug giant Pfizer over fraudulent marketing practices.

In addition to the fines, the oil company agreed to plead guilty to 11 felony counts of misconduct or neglect of ships’ officers, arising from the deaths aboard the Deepwater Horizon when the rig exploded and sank.

It also agreed to single misdemeanour counts under the Clean Water Act and the Migratory Bird Act and one felony count of obstruction of Congress.

The settlement remains subject to US federal court approval.

“All of us at BP deeply regret the tragic loss of life caused by the Deepwater Horizon accident as well as the impact of the spill on the Gulf coast region,” BP’s chief executive, Bob Dudley, said in a statement.

“We apologise for our role in the accident, and as today’s resolution with the US government further reflects, we have accepted responsibility for our actions.”

The company’s chairman, Carl-Henric Svanberg, said BP believed the settlement was in the company’s best interests.

“We believe this resolution is in the best interest of BP and its shareholders,” he said in the statement. “It removes two significant legal risks and allows us to vigorously defend the company against the remaining civil claims.”

In London the company’s shares, which had stopped trading before the news of the fine broke, closed down a fraction of a penny at 425.4p. So far, the company has set aside $38.1bn to settle claims and fines related to the disaster.

The Justice Department is expected to issue a statement on the settlement later on Thursday. It was expected that a number of BP executives and managers, including those working on the rig the night of the explosion, would be charged.

All but one of the 14 criminal charges announced on Thursday relate to the night of the explosion aboard the Deepwater Horizon, and are based on the negligent misinterpretation of the negative pressure tests performed on the well.

A number of the investigations into the disaster have homed in on the final hours before the rig explosion, when engineers tried and abandoned different plans to finish off the well.

The final criminal count arises from statements BP officials made to a closed session of Congress about how much oil was gushing from its stricken well. The company is accused of deliberately underestimating the flow-rate – which experts say compromised efforts to cap the well.

It was not immediately clear how BP’s plea would affect its operations in the Gulf. The oil company remains one of the major players in deepwater drilling in the Gulf of Mexico.

BP said it was not aware of any government actions to suspend or curtail its activities in the Gulf, as a result of the settlement.

The settlement could also clear the way for the justice department to come to a plea deal with BP’s partners on the doomed well: Transocean, which owned the rig, and Halliburton, which cemented the well.

Texas bill would ban TSA from performing pat downs in the state

examiner.com | Nov 14, 2012

By Ryan Keller

Texas Rep. David Simpson (R-Longview) on Monday prefiled House Bill 80 for voting on in the state legislature. The bill, also known as the Texas Travel Freedom Act, would make it illegal for agents of the TSA to perform pat down procedures at airports.

According to the Tenth Amendment Center, the bill “would make it a criminal act to intentionally touch ‘the anus, breast, buttocks, or sexual organ of the other person, including touching through clothing,’ without probable cause in the process of determining whether to grant someone access to a public venue or means of public transportation.”

There is also extra protection for minors under the bill:

A public servant acting under color of his office or employment commits an offense if he…removes a child younger than 18 years of age from the physical custody or control of a parent or guardian of the child or a person standing in the stead of a parent or guardian of the child.

Early last year, the state of Texas attempted to pass legislation that would have done the same thing as Simpson’s bill. HB 1937 had passed the state House and was on its way to the Senate when the federal government stepped in to make sure that the state submitted.

U.S. attorney John E. Murphy sent a letter to the state threatening to shut down the Texas airline industry:

If HR [sic] 1937 were enacted, the federal government would likely seek an emergency stay of the statute. Unless or until such a stay were granted, TSA would likely be required to cancel any flight or series of flights for which it could not ensure the safety of passengers and crew.

This was followed by a night of intense debate within the Texas House of Representatives, which resulted in HB 1937 co-sponsor Dan Patrick (R-Houston) pulling the bill.

“I will pull HB 1937 down, but I will stand for Liberty in the state of Texas,” Patrick commented, adding that the possibility that the TSA “could close down all the airports in Texas” was a “heavy handed threat” by the federal government.

Perhaps Texas will have more luck this time around, as it seems more people are starting to embrace the idea of states’ rights, with more than half of the states petitioning President Obama to allow them to secede from the Union, with some citing the TSA as a reason for their grievances.

Naked Body-Image Machines Questioned by TSA, Congress

sfgate.com | Nov 15, 2012

by Jeff Plungis

Nov. 15 (Bloomberg) — OSI Systems Inc.’s Rapiscan unit, one of two suppliers of passenger-scanning machines in U.S. airports, may have falsified tests of software intended to stop the machines from recording graphic images of travelers, a U.S. lawmaker said.

The company “may have attempted to defraud the government by knowingly manipulating an operational test,” Representative Mike Rogers, chairman of the House Transportation Security Subcommittee, said in a letter to Transportation Security Administration chief John Pistole Nov. 13. Rogers said his committee received a tip about the faked tests.

“At no time did Rapiscan falsify test data or any information related to this technology or the test,” Peter Kant, an executive vice president with the company, said in an interview yesterday.

While Rogers’ letter doesn’t identify the company, his spokesman, Shea Snider, confirmed in an e-mail that he was referring to Rapiscan.

OSI fell $18.81, or 24.7 percent, to $57.48 at 12:11 p.m., the biggest intraday decline since December 2000. More than 2.2 million shares had changed hands, about 20 times the three-month daily average. Earlier, shares fell as much as 27 percent.

‘Incredibly Serious’

If wrongdoing is proven, Rapiscan could face fines, prison terms and a ban on government contracting, said Dan Gordon, former head of federal procurement for President Barack Obama’s administration.

“Fake test results are incredibly serious,” said Gordon, now a dean at George Washington University Law School in Washington. “Every false statement is a criminal act, sending someone in that company to jail.”

TSA relied on a third-party vendor rather than Rapiscan to verify the technology, so the agency may be attempting to find a scapegoat for a poorly managed program, Rogers said at a hearing today.

The Alabama Republican, who has oversight of TSA operations, said the agency first said it was moving Rapiscan machines to smaller airports, then couldn’t produce a list of airports. The agency is moving 91 units worth $14 million to a warehouse instead of redeploying them, Rogers said.

“It appears we not only have a technology problem, but a significant transparency problem on our hands,” Rogers said.

Show-Cause Letter

The TSA intends to keep the machines in a warehouse until the privacy-protection software works, John Sanders, assistant administrator for the agency’s office of security capabilities, said at the hearing.

Sanders said the agency doesn’t have evidence that tests on the backscatter machines were manipulated.

“At this point we don’t know what has occurred,” Sanders said. “We are in contact with the vendor. We are working with them to get to the bottom of it.”

Kant said Rapiscan received a so-called show-cause letter from the TSA on Nov. 9 seeking detailed information about the testing of technology used in the machines.

Rapiscan became aware of an issue related to software under development months ago and promptly notified the TSA, Kant said. The company is fully cooperating with the agency’s investigation, which doesn’t relate to software that detects anomalies on passengers’ bodies, Kant said. Passenger safety was never affected, he said.

Show-cause letters are sent when the government believes a contractor isn’t complying with terms, said Gordon, the former federal procurement administrator. It’s a last chance for the company to demonstrate it hasn’t violated the contract, he said.

Underwear Bomber

Show-cause letters are rare because most contractors try hard to meet the government’s requirements, Gordon said. Companies that default on contracts may have a difficult time winning business again from that agency or other parts of the government, he said.

The TSA accelerated the use of advanced scanners in 2010, following the Dec. 25, 2009, attempt by Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab to blow up a Northwest Airlines flight by igniting explosives in his underpants. Almost immediately, privacy advocates complained that the machines produced almost-naked images of travelers.

The agency, in response, asked Rapiscan and its other vendor of the advanced scanners, L-3 Communications Holdings Inc., to write software that would replace the explicit depiction of passengers’ bodies with generic images that indicate where a weapon might be. L-3 has been able to develop such software. Rapiscan hasn’t.

Machines Moved

The TSA recently said it was relocating Rapiscan machines, which use backscatter radiation to detect objects under a passenger’s clothes, from seven larger, busier airports to smaller ones.

The change related to extra time it takes for passengers to be scanned with the backscatter machines, not over any doubts about whether the technology works, Pistole told reporters at a news conference in Washington Nov. 13. Backscatter machines require staff in a separate room to look at the images and radio back to an officer at the checkpoint if extra screening is needed, he said.

TSA believes backscatter technology is still effective in finding non-metallic objects, Pistole said.

“We originally went with two companies to help drive competition and try to get to the next level of detection with the best possible performance,” Pistole said. “We’re still committed to doing that.”

TSA has contracted for increasing levels of detection and other efficiency and privacy enhancements, David Castelveter, an agency spokesman, said in a statement yesterday.

“We fully expect our vendors to deliver on their commitments, and are working with them to that end within the federal contracting process,” Castelveter said.

Mind controlled android robot: Interactive Digital Human group, working towards robotic “re-embodiment”

Mind controlled android robot

Published on Nov 12, 2012 by Diginfonews

Mind controlled android robot – Researchers at the CNRS-AIST Joint Robotics Laboratory and the CNRS-LIRMM Interactive Digital Human group, working towards robotic re-embodiment

http://www.diginfo.tv/v/12-0199-d-en.php

DigInfo TV

BCI Controlled Humanoid Robot

Controlled Opposition: How the Occupy, Tea Party movements end up doing the bidding of the global elite


Slobodan Milošević’s downfall was in part down to a ‘regime change’ manual from a Boston thinktank. Photograph: Srdjan Suki/EPA

History shows us it is easy for ‘grassroots’ campaigns to become co-opted by the very interests they are fighting against

guardian.co.uk | Nov 15, 2011

by Patrick Henningsen

A 21st-century grassroots movement faces many pitfalls. This was as true back in 1968 as it is today. It could be infiltrated by law enforcement and intelligence agencies, or co-opted by a major party. As the state continues to creep further into our lives, activists can expect that it will use all its resources – not just the violent reaction seen in New York overnight, but also its agents, informants and surveillance packages – in its effort to monitor both sides of any serious social debate. Even bleaker, however, is the possibility that the movement was actually planned and launched by the very establishment activists thought they were waging a battle against in the first place. The larger the movement, the more interested a major party becomes in absorbing it into either the left or the right side of the current two-party paradigm.

The sudden emergence of America’s Tea Party movement in 2007 is a good example. Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul, its inventor, used it as a springboard to highlight libertarian and constitutional issues during his 2008 campaign. Soon after, it was co-opted by key political and media influencers from the US right wing, associating itself less with a libertarian manifesto, and more with emerging figures within the Republican establishment. Now it is has morphed into nothing more than a block of voters whom the Republican party can rely to strike a deal with during an election cycle.

Arguably, the Occupy Wall Street movement has already drifted into the shadow of the Democratic party – with a number of Democratic establishment figures from the top down endorsing it. The Democrats’ own media fundraising and media machine, Move On, has visibly adopted the cause. Like the Tea Party before it, the Occupy block would swing a close election during a national two-party race, functioning as a pressure-release valve for any issue too radical for the traditional platform.

Alongside this is the threat of being infiltrated. Scores of declassified documents, along with accounts from veteran activists, will reveal many stories of members who were actually undercover police, FBI or M15. In the worst cases of infiltration, undercover agents have acted as provocateurs. Such incidents normally serve to radicalise a movement, thus demonising it in the eyes of society and effectively lessening its wider political appeal.

Although the global Occupy movement has branched out in an open-source way, many of its participants and spectators might be completely unaware of who actually launched it. Upon investigation, what one finds is a daisy chain of non-profit foundations, all tied together by hundreds of millions per year in operational funding. The original call for Occupy Wall Street came from non-profit international media foundation Adbusters. Like many non-profits, Adbusters receives its funding and operating capital from other behind-the-scenes organisations. According to research conducted by watchdog Activistcash, Adbusters takes a significant portion of its money from the Tides Foundation, an organisation partnered with one of Wall Street billionaire oligarch George Soros’s foundations, the Open Society Institute [see footnote].

Although mostly hidden from the public eye, all major foundations and professional thinktanks undertake research and host training seminars, which are used to influence certain public and foreign policies, and thus, must have a political agenda. Theirs is the venue of choice for activities that cannot officially be conducted on the government clock.

Freedom House is another of Soros’s Open Society partners. It supports the Centre for Applied Nonviolent Action and Strategies (Canvas), an organisation started by Serbians Ivan Marovic and Srdja Popovic. After playing a pivotal role in the CIA-backed deposing of Serbia’s Slobodan Milosevic, the western media hailed Marovic as a democratic genius, but it came out later that his programme came out of an elite Boston thinktank’s “regime change” manual, From Dictatorship to Democracy, written by Harvard professor Gene Sharp. Sharp’s book is a bible of the colour revolutions – a “regime change for dummies”. His Albert Einstein Institution has received funds from the National Endowment for Democracy and the Open Society Foundations, and his work serves as a template for western-backed opposition leaders in soft coups all around the world.

There are also reports of Canvas activity during the early days of Occupy Wall Street, including a video of Marovic himself addressing the general assembly. Currently, Canvas are touting their recent role in working with Egyptian and Tunisian protesters from as early as 2009, teaching skills that helped bring down their presidents and spark regional revolt.

When the dust settles and it’s all said and done, millions of Occupy participants may very well be given a sober lesson under the heading of “controlled opposition”. In the end, the Occupy movement could easily end up doing the bidding of the very elite globalist powers that they were demonstrating against to begin with. To avoid such an outcome, it’s important for a movement to have a good knowledge of history and the levers of power in the 21st century.