Daily Archives: January 3, 2013

United States and New Zealand conducted secret tests of a “tsunami bomb” designed to destroy coastal cities

tsunami
Photo: ALAMY

telegraph.co.uk | Jan 1, 2013

By Jonathan Pearlman, Sydney

The tests were carried out in waters around New Caledonia and Auckland during the Second World War and showed that the weapon was feasible and a series of 10 large offshore blasts could potentially create a 33-foot tsunami capable of inundating a small city.

The top secret operation, code-named “Project Seal”, tested the doomsday device as a possible rival to the nuclear bomb. About 3,700 bombs were exploded during the tests, first in New Caledonia and later at Whangaparaoa Peninsula, near Auckland.

The plans came to light during research by a New Zealand author and film-maker, Ray Waru, who examined military files buried in the national archives.

“Presumably if the atomic bomb had not worked as well as it did, we might have been tsunami-ing people,” said Mr Waru.

“It was absolutely astonishing. First that anyone would come up with the idea of developing a weapon of mass destruction based on a tsunami … and also that New Zealand seems to have successfully developed it to the degree that it might have worked.” The project was launched in June 1944 after a US naval officer, E A Gibson, noticed that blasting operations to clear coral reefs around Pacific islands sometimes produced a large wave, raising the possibility of creating a “tsunami bomb”.

Mr Waru said the initial testing was positive but the project was eventually shelved in early 1945, though New Zealand authorities continued to produce reports on the experiments into the 1950s. Experts concluded that single explosions were not powerful enough and a successful tsunami bomb would require about 2 million kilograms of explosive arrayed in a line about five miles from shore.

“If you put it in a James Bond movie it would be viewed as fantasy but it was a real thing,” he said.

“I only came across it because they were still vetting the report, so there it was sitting on somebody’s desk [in the archives].”

Forty years after the joint testing, New Zealand faced a dramatic breakdown in its security ties with the US after it banned the entry of nuclear-armed ships from entering its territory during the 1980s. The dispute led to the US downgrading its relationship with New Zealand from an “ally” to a “friend”.

In his new book Secrets and Treasures, Mr Waru reveals other unusual findings from the archives including Defence Department records of thousands of UFO sightings by members of the public, military personnel and commercial pilots.

Some of the accounts of the moving lights in the sky include drawings of flying saucers, descriptions of aliens wearing “pharaoh masks” and alleged examples of extraterrestrial writing.

These Wild New DVRs Will Spy On Your Living Room With Cameras And Microphones

businessinsider.com | Dec 7, 2012

by Laura Stampler

small_all-seeing-eyeGoogle TV, Microsoft, Comcast, and now Verizon have all submitted patent applications to create televisions and DVRs that will watch you as you watch TV. 

Earlier this month, news came out that Verizon applied for a patent to create a DVR sometime in the future that has cameras and microphones that can see and hear what you’re doing and saying, while watching TV. Sounds, actions, food choices, and your ethnicity — all tracked by the DVR — will influence what you see in your commercial breaks.

According to the patent application, here are the ways you can be targeted:

  • If your DVR hears you getting frisky on the couch, it will input terms like “romance, love, cuddle” into the system and play “a commercial for a romantic getaway vacation, a commercial for a contraceptive, a commercial for flowers, a commercial including a trailer for an upcoming romantic comedy movie.”
  • “Additionally or alternatively, if detection facility 104 detects that a couple is arguing/fighting with each other, advertising facility 106 may select an advertisement associated marriage/relationship counseling.”
  • Your DVR will be able to know what kind of beer you’re drinking: “If detection facility 104 detects a particular object (e.g., a Budweiser can) within a user’s surroundings, advertising facility 106 may select an advertisement associated with the detected object (e.g., a Budweiser commercial).”
  • If you seem stressed, to be considerate the DVR will show you an ad for “aromatherapy candles.”

The DVR will also build a profile about you, picking up on your  “preferences, traits, tendencies.”

While some in the media have gone crazy at the idea of a Big Brother-like device entering your living room, Verizon thinks that this is an overreaction. According to a statement sent to BI, “Articles focusing on what is a patent application were highly speculative. Verizon has a well-established track record of respecting its customers’ privacy and protecting their personal information. As a company that prizes innovation, Verizon takes pride in its innovators whose work is represented in our patents and patent applications, but such futuristic patent filings by innovators are routine.”

A source familiar with the Verizon patent process told Business Insider that given the other contenders, it’s very remote that Verizon would win the bid.

In fact, according to the patent’s transaction history, the application was given a non-final rejection days before the DVR was first reported on by Fierce Cable.

. . .
Verizon Filed Big Brother Patent, For Ads

United States Patent Application     
Methods and Systems for Presenting an Advertisement Associated with an Ambient Action of a User

Verizon Plays Big Brother by Watching You Watch TV

Verizon’s Big Brother Detection Zone: Cameras, microphones watch TV viewers and listen to their conversations

Verizon patents targeted advertising that watches TV viewers

The new patent describes how targeted ads can be sent to TV viewers based on information collected from infrared cameras, microphones and other devices that capture the conversations and moods of the people watching.

broadcastengineering.com | Dec 5, 2012

Called Verizon Detection Zone, the system would pick up conversations, people, objects and animals that are near a TV. For example, if the system determines that a couple is arguing, a service provider would be able to send an ad for marriage counseling to a TV or mobile device in the room. 

Some might see this as an invasion of their privacy, or yet another case of “Big Brother is watching,” but the capability to closely monitor personal conversations and send ads based on overheard keywords could hold enormous marketing potential.

Verizon has filed a patent application for targeting ads to TV viewers based on information collected from infrared cameras, microphones and other devices that would be able to detect the current conduct and mood of the people watching.

Called Verizon Detection Zone, the system would pick up conversations, people, objects and animals that are near a TV. For example, if the system determines that a couple is arguing, a service provider would be able to send an ad for marriage counseling to a TV or mobile device in the room.

Again, the privacy implications of the patent application are huge, and there is no indication that it would pass muster with television viewers or the government. No mention is made of user privacy in the patent application.

If the couple utters words that indicate they are cuddling, they would receive ads for “a romantic getaway vacation, a commercial for a contraceptive, a commercial for flowers” or commercials for romantic movies, Verizon said in the patent application.

Verizon’s application is titled “Methods and Systems for Presenting an Advertisement Associated with an Ambient Action of a User.”

Verizon proposes scanning conversations of viewers that are within a “detection zone” near their TV, including telephone conversations. “If detection facility detects one or more words spoken by a user (e.g., while talking to another user within the same room or on the telephone), advertising facility may utilize the one or more words spoken by the user to search for and/or select an advertisement associated with the one or more words,” Verizon said in the patent application.

The company said the sensors could also determine if a viewer is exercising, eating, laughing, singing or playing a musical instrument, and target ads to viewers based on their mood. It also could use sensors to determine what type of pets or inanimate objects are in the room.

“If detection facility detects that a user is playing with a dog, advertising facility may select an advertisement associated with dogs (e.g., a dog food commercial, a flea treatment commercial, etc.),” Verizon wrote.

Several types of sensors could be linked to the targeted advertising system, including 3-D imaging devices, thermographic cameras and microphones, according to the patent application.

Officials at Verizon declined to comment about the patent application, which was filed in May 2011. The U.S. Patent & Trademark Office published it last week.

What did I get for 16 trillion of debt? That’s the real question.

The Truth Clinic: What did I get for 16 trillion of debt? That’s the real question.

northdallasgazette.com | Jan 2, 2013

By James Breedlove

dollar-150x150The fiscal cliff deadline specter has dominated the media spotlight as Washington’s divided politicians dicker over higher taxes and spending cuts while simultaneously trying to convince a confused and disgruntled constituency that opponents on the other side are holding up the cliff saving life line.

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that if no agreement is reached the US would enter a recession in 2013 with gross domestic product (GDP) shrinking by about half a percent for the year. Unemployment would rise from current levels of just under 8 percent to a little over 9 percent, and the economy would create about 2.5 million fewer jobs than previously predicted. With a few exceptions, all government agencies would be cut between 8 and 10 percent. An average household earning $50,000 per year would pay approximately $2,000 more in taxes in 2013.

I felt myself getting a bit anxious and panicky with January 1, 2013 just hours away after hearing President Obama warn that a failure to act would be a “politically self-inflicted wound to our economy” that we can ill afford.

While having my morning coffee it suddenly occurred to me that I might be running scared with the herd; the vision of a spooked bison stampede came to mind as the animals galloped full speed toward a real cliff and toppled over unable to stop because of the crushing force of the animals at the rear.

How does an issue of this magnitude (Trillions) and importance to the country (potential recession) get bogged down in petty politics or any other special interest priority? The so called experts drone on about out of control spending, unfair taxes, an unregulated Federal reserve and a do-nothing congress.

Fine, but I’m a simple person. I worked hard. Went to college on the G.I. bill. Pursued a career that permitted me to raise a family and live a modest middle class life. Did not mind paying taxes. Now when I should be able to enjoy the fruits of my labor in retirement it feels like my middle class is being sucked away by forces with strange names like fiscal cliff, inflation, and debt default.

More importantly since the current cliff fiasco is directly connected to the 16 Trillion dollars of debt that America has accumulated I wondered how has the 16 Trillion dollars of debt benefitted me? It seems that as a taxpayer I am somehow currently responsible for $142,000 of debt that nobody asked me did I want.

Perhaps understanding how this massive financial obligation came into being might shed some light on why the fiscal cliff has become so terrifying.

Unlike the constitutions of most states, the United States Constitution does not require the Congress to pass a balanced budget, one in which the projected government income from taxes, fees, and other revenues equals proposed expenditures. Except for a short period during the presidency of Andrew Jackson the United States federal government has always been in debt.

However, there was one key difference in monetary control between those early days and now. From the ratification of the Constitution in 1789 until 1971, the gold standard was the main constraint on Federal spending and thus, the main control on the US national debt. It took the United States almost 200 years to create the first 1 trillion dollars in non-gold backed paper currency. And the government managed its finances, had budget surpluses and only occasional glitches. But due to rampant deficit spending it only took 41 years to create the next next15 trillion. There are two major players in this game of extraordinary deficit spending; each benefitting from what amounts to an endless supply of money.

First, the Federal Reserve, as the central bank of the US Government, can print money that is exchanged for US debt. The Federal reserve trades newly printed US dollars for Treasury Bills (US bonds) floated by the government. As holders of the debt the Fed can collect the interest on bonds that they purchased with dollars that they simply printed. While they pay profits to the government they are guaranteed a dividend for being the Fed. Nice work if you can get it.

Second, the Congress is a willing co-conspirator in this burgeoning US National Debt crisis, even though they lament otherwise. Congress passed the bill creating the Fed in 1913. Congress sets the debt ceiling ever higher and higher. Congress approves all the spending bills. Finally, it is Congress that has refused to pass a budget since April 2009 – opting instead to use the emergency mode of operating by funding government in stop gap months instead of on a fiscal year. More spending can be kept out of public view using the emergency mode.

The fiscal cliff is not some unexpected crisis that suddenly showed up in Washington. Washington has been building this cliff for years by embracing a patchwork philosophy of minimally addressing fiscal problems with short term solutions and stealth bookkeeping that made future spending look lower than actual. Kicking the can down the road eventually lead to the recent bailouts and the infamous sequester which introduced America to the bipartisan super committee; the group of seasoned congressmen whose primary mission was to find budget cuts that would offset the debt ceiling increase authorized under duress in 2011.

Yet that super committee failed to super anything, shackled by allegiance to party dogma, and disbanded leaving the draconian sequester hatchet looming over an already shell shocked public.

Now the day of reckoning is at hand and it appears that the spineless congress of the past will remain spineless as they find it now difficult to even kick the can.

What have I and millions of Americans gotten for 16 Trillion of debt? A dollar that is now worth 7 cents compared to its worth in 1980 and continuing to decrease in value as the Fed prints more fiat dollars to support increasing national debt. That is why my middle class life style is slipping away.

Senate ‘cliff’ deal pushes national debt to $20 trillion by 2017

Update: The House has passed the Senate “fiscal cliff” bill.

dailycaller.com | Jan 1, 2013

obamaThe “fiscal cliff” deficit-reduction deal approved by the White House and Senate will leave taxpayers with a national debt of almost $20 trillion by the end of 2016.

The increase to the debt was downplayed in the White House’s “victory” statement, which claimed that “together with a strengthening economy these [fiscal cliff] steps will bring down the deficit as a share of the economy over the next five years.”

His statement claimed credit for reducing the 10-year deficit by $2.3 trillion.

A March 2012 “baseline” report by the Congressional Budget Office, which assumed that the Bush tax cuts would expire and that deep cuts in military and domestic spending would be preserved, predicted the debt would rise by $2.9 trillion from 2013 to 2022 because of annual deficit spending.

The cliff deal passed by the Senate would increase the 10-year baseline deficit of $2.9 trillion by $4 trillion, says the CBO in a report released Tuesday. That’s a nearly $7 trillion increase in debt by 2022.

The deal would increase the deficits during Obama’s second term by $1.7 trillion, in addition to the $1.7 trillion deficit already projected by the CBO, creating a four-year deficit of $3.4 trillion.

That $3.4 trillion in new debt by 2017 would increase the current federal debt from $16.4 trillion to almost $20 trillion in January 2017.

That’s an debt increase of almost $10 trillion during Obama’s two terms. The higher deficits would be primarily due to the extension of lower tax rates, known as the Bush-era rates, for individuals making under $400,000 and couples making under $450,000.

Because of the federal government’s huge debt, Wall Street analysts say Obama’s $4 trillion target he set in 2011 “grand bargain” talks should have been a minimal goal.

Interest rates are now at historical low levels because the U.S. and European economies are stalled.

But Wall Street analysts say interest-rates could spike if world economies improve or if they worry that U.S. politicians and taxpayers are unable or unwilling to pay the interest payments.

If interest rates reach five percent, taxpayers’ annual interest-costs would reach $1 trillion per year, or one third of the federal government’ 2012 tax revenues.

That annual cost would force Congress to imposed painful spending cuts or new taxes that would cripple future growth.

Obama’s claim of a $2.3 trillion fiscal cliff trim was achieved by adding $620 billion in new fiscal cliff taxes to the GOP-imposed 2011 and 2012 spending cuts worth $1.7 trillion.

If fully implemented, the $2.3 trillion trim leaves the expected 10-year deficit at roughly $7 trillion. That amounts to roughly $25,000 for every one of the nation’s working-age population of roughly 240 million.

When added to the current debt of $16.4 trillion, the per-worker debt would rise to roughly $80,000 per person by 2017.

Obama’s claimed $2.3 reduction in the 10-year debt is small largely because he GOP opposes his push to grow the size and reach of the federal government.

For example, during the fiscal cliff talks, Obama has pushed to preserve costly spending programs, including subsidies to universities and to wind-energy programs. Overall, the deal includes $15 billion in new spending on Obama’s favored programs.

The Jan. 1 deal even canceled a portion of planned “sequestration” spending-cut, set in 2011. The cancellation eliminated $24 billion in planned spending cuts, leaving only $485 billion in spending cuts throughout 2013.