Jonathan Turley talked about his recent Washington Post piece looking at the issues of surveillance and privacy and U.S. citizens' loss of privacy protections. He responded to telephone calls and electronic communications. Source
Wednesday, December 21, 2011
A man-made virus that could wipe out half humanity has been deemed a terrorist threat. And while the scientists behind the Frankenstein-flu hoped their research would help find a cure, critics fear they have developed the ultimate bio-weapon. When virologist Ron Fouchier and his team of scientists first "mutated the hell out of” the H5N1 bird flu virus and presented their findings this past September, fear spread like contagion across the Internet. But it is not just panic-prone bloggers who are up in arms about the latest virus. Microbiologist and US National Science Advisory Board (NSABB) chair Paul Keim did not mince his words when describing the potentially deadly bug.
The H5N1 virus
Despite the widespread panic, the Dutch team who engineered the deadly strain at the Erasmus Medical Center in Rotterdam still hope to publish their findings in the American Journal of Science.
However, sensing the imminent threat of making the results of their investigation public, the NSABB reviewed the paper to determine whether it should ever see the light of day.
One senior scientific advisor to the US Government also expressed his grave concerns.
“The fear is that if you create something this deadly and it goes into a global pandemic, the mortality and cost to the world could be massive. The worst-case scenario here is worse than anything you can imagine,” the Daily Mail cites.
With the US government calling on the researchers not to publish the details in scientific journals, The National Institutes of Health, which funded the research, said Tuesday that while researchers are making changes, it's important for the overall findings to be published, the Associated Press reports.
Fouchier for his part, while admitting one could not manufacture a more lethal virus, also remains adamant that his research should be published to empower the scientific community to react appropriately.
While the H5N1 bird flu strain was so vicious it killed over half of all people infected with it, humanity’s saving grace was that it did not readily pass between people.
However, the one aspect of the disease that protected the world from an all-out pandemic went out the window when researchers altered the H5N1 bird flu strain so that it could be transmitted through the air.
Many critics say the decision to practically weaponize an already deadly virus borders on the criminal.
Andrew Bosworth, the author of Biotech Empire, says publication of the research would be in direct contravention of the Biological Weapons Convention of 1972.
Writing to the Chair of the US National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity (NSABB), Bosworth argued if an ordinary citizen had concocted this virus “in a garage,” he “would be subject to a 15-year prison sentence.”
He went on to say it is ludicrous to claim that publishing details of the virus would enable scientists to find a cure.
“This argument assumes that the most recent H5N1 strain is a threat to human populations, and it is not (unless we make it so). The strain in question never existed in nature; instead, it mutated across 10 generations in a laboratory setting, among a population of ferrets,” Multipolarfuture reports.
Bosworth further asserted that “publishing details of this manufactured virus would green-light the concoction of ever-more deadly pathogens for fame and profit.”
The new strain has five mutations as compared to the original, which had one. While all five individual strains were naturally occurring, they were never found in a single microorganism.
Although pathogens naturally evolve, their evolution rarely moves along such a concertedly deadly path. The new virus is just as contagious as the flu – which kills tens of thousands of people each year – but would be vastly more deadly if released.
The man-made killer bug is currently being stored in a basement somewhere at the Rotterdam medical university, though without the benefit of armed guards.
It would now appear the heated debate over whether or not to publish the research regarding the world’s most potentially potent super-flu is a Catch-22. By creating the virus, the only way to prevent a potential outbreak on a previously unknown scale is to increase the risk that it might occur. Source
That's Moscow’s reaction to a report by human rights groups which claims dozens were killed in air strikes – despite the alliance saying its operation was almost flawless.
After the NATO-backed rebels overran Gaddafi’s home town of Sirte, staring death in the face became an everyday experience for residents of the loyalist stronghold. Local men, young and old, were captured by the winners, who delivered a summary verdict – the Colonel’s countrymen were labeled “Gaddafi dogs” – with the associated deadly consequences. Scenes of rebels executing loyalists played out all across Libya for months as the rebels, assisted by Western powers, sought to liberate the country. Urban legends about the Colonel’s sadistic tendencies grew more outlandish by the day, justifying any sort of treatment for his perceived loyalists. “In some places the violence is quite bad,” says Fred Abrahams of Human Rights Watch. “The town we looked at was Towerga and the militias from the neighboring town of Misrata are terrorizing the people of Towerga. They accuse them of having fought for Gaddafi and having committed atrocities in his name,” he reveals.
A prison in Tripoli where Muammar Gaddafi was said to have held his political opponents, with no access to lawyers and no chance of a fair trial, has become a landmark of the liberated capital. But while the prison’s new guards spare no details in narrating Gaddafi’s ferocities, fear and hatred still reside in its neighborhood. Abu Salim is an impoverished district in the south of Tripoli where Muammar Gaddafi had a strong support base prior to his ouster from the capital. The district also lent its name to the Abu Salim prison, notorious for its mistreatment and arbitrary killing of inmates. Today, the prisoners are long gone, and Gaddafi is dead. Yet the human rights violations in Abu Salim continue. Men from the neighborhood are still vanishing without trace, and their families are too frightened to even speak of their disappearance.
One of the few places in Libya where families of alleged Gaddafi supporters can turn to for help is an NGO formed by Mohammad Miloud Benhammed earlier this year to investigate the fate of those who disappeared in Gaddafi’s prisons. He is now primarily dealing with people who have gone missing under Libya’s new leadership. “It’s usually mothers who come here, and at first they are scared to tell me that their son or husband was with the Gaddafi forces. They usually say he was a civilian caught in the crossfire. But I tell them that I don’t care which side he was on. All I need is accurate information so that we can start searching,” the head of Mitiga Missing People group told RT.
Mohammad and his friends have been taking photos of unidentified bodies which are being regularly discovered across Libya. These snapshots have become the relatives’ most realistic hope of finding closure. But even after sifting through them, many manage to retain hope. “I hope he’s in Tunisia. Maybe he’s in a hospital. Maybe he’s lost his memory or has no way of contacting us,” said Evyed Farhatn, whose brother disappeared on the frontlines of Bani Walid. Those pursuing the long search for disappeared relatives say hope dies last. In this shattered country, hope remains alive even if many much-loved family members do not. Source
Angelo: Book up and contact your government representatives. It's your right to protest! As Zero Hedge put it "One thing is certain: when the people voluntarily give up on democracy, out of sheer laziness or any other reason, the historical outcomes are always all too tragic." Source
With demonstrators suspecting governmental assistance in the crackdowns clobbering Occupy Wall Street encampments, the CIA is trying to distance itself from divulging any incriminating evidence regarding their role in the raids.
The Partnership for Civil Justice (PCJF), a Washington DC-based civil rights group, filed a Freedom of Information Act request last month to see what role, if any, the CIA has had in the brutal raids of OWS encampments that have left thousands jailed and droves of demonstrators beaten, in some instances ending up in intensive care. Now after reviewing the request to publically release any information, the Agency is scoffing at the PCJF, who in turn is calling this “a classic case of CIA-double speak” used to hide its involvement.
Any CIA involvement in the crackdowns would break not just departmental code but national legislation. As a result, even if there was involvement, the Agency won’t investigate it because any leads could yield the revelation of (surprise!) wrongdoing within the CIA.
Specifically, Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, executive director of the PCJF, asked the agency to disclose “any documents or information pertaining to Federal coordination of, or advice or consultation regarding, the police response to the Occupy movement, protests or encampments.”
In their response, CIA Information and Privacy Coordinate Susan Viscuso tells the PCFJ that the mission of the CIA is“primarily concerned with foreign intelligence — not domestic — matters.” She goes to cite that National Security Act prohibits the Agency from policing or conducting domestic law enforcement, and therefore, their system is not configured as to allow the CIA to “search reasonably calculated to lead to responsive records.”
“Therefore,” writes Viscuso, “we must decline to process your request.”
"The CIA is apparently asserting that because its involvement in law enforcement's crackdown of the Occupy movement would be barred by law, it is not possible for the CIA to conduct an effective search for information responsive to our inquiry into its role in the operation," responds Verheyden-Hilliard. “In other words,” she continues,“because the actions would be illegal, they would also be off the books.”
That doesn’t mean, of course, that there was no involvement. Instead, rather, the CIA is refusing to dive into their seedy annals of creepiness to let the world know that they couldn’t break their own code of conduct.
Last month the website Truthout sent a FOIA request to the Department of Homeland Security regarding their own involvement, following up a request from October inquiring about any role the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) had in the crackdown. On November, FBI FOIA Chief David Hardy said that, “based on the information [Truthout] provided, we conducted a search of the Central Records System” and “were unable to identify main file records responsive to the FOIA.” Truthout followed up the response by citing a 2009 study from George Washington University’s National Security Archive that revealed that the FBI gave a “no records” response to more half of the FOIA requests it received in 2008.
“The FBI knowingly uses a search process that doesn’t find relevant records,” Archive director Tom Blanton said in the study.
The Partnership for Civil Justice Fund says that they are asking the CIA to reconsider their request and has threatened legal action if they will not comply. Additionally, they have filed similar requests with the Department of Justice, Homeland Security Department, National Park Service and FBI. Source