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January 13, 2013
Obama Regime Orders Computer Genius Aaron Swartz Suicided
By:Sorcha Faal, and as reported to her Western Subscribers
A new Foreign Military Intelligence Main Directorate (GRU) report circulating in the Kremlin today is saying that one of the United States top computer geniuses, named Aaron Swartz (1986-2013) [photo 2nd left], was, ''in all probability,'' suicided by forces loyal to the Obama regime seeking to ''set an example'' for other dissident forces opposed to the American governments continued crackdown on leakers of US secrets.
According to this report, GRU intelligence analysts tracking the Obama ''death squads,'' that in the past fortnight have assassinated two prominent American gun support activists, indentified one of these VIPER teams ''operating'' in the Crown Heights, Brooklyn, section of New York City this past week where shortly afterwards Swartz was discovered dead of an apparent hanging.
Swartz, this report continues, fits the profile of computer dissidents long targeted by the US; which include Gary McKinnon[photo bottom left], the Scottish systems administrator and hacker who was accused by the US, in 2002, of perpetrating the ''biggest military computer hack of all time,'' but whose extradition to America was blocked by the UK, and US Army Private Bradley Manning, who stands accused of being the whistle blower behind what is called the WikiLeaks Scandal and whose confinement by the Obama regime prompted Juan E. Mendez, a United Nations Special Rapporteur on torture, to publish a report saying that Manning's detention conditions had been ''cruel, inhuman and degrading.''
The ''crimes'' Swartz was being accused of committing by the Obama regime, this report says, were wire fraud, computer fraud, unlawfully obtaining information from a protected computer, and recklessly damaging a protected computer, in relation to downloading roughly 4 million academic journal articles from JSTOR (short for Journal Storage) which is a digital library for American academics founded in 1995.
The ''reality,'' however, behind the crimes Swartz was accused of by the Obama regime, and which the US Department of Justice (DOJ) was seeking a 50 year prison sentence and $4 million fine for, according to GRU analysts in this report, was nothing more than this young computer genius putting a computer in a broom closet he neither sought to hide, nor did the owner of the computers he accessed, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) wish to prosecute him for.
To why Swartz was so feared by the Obama regime can be glimpsed in the writing about him by one of his closest mates, Cory Doctorow, the famous Canadian journalist and co-editor of the weblog Boing Boing, who wrote, ''Aaron had an unbeatable combination of political insight, technical skill, and intelligence about people and issues. I think he could have revolutionized American (and worldwide) politics. His legacy may still yet do so.''
Doctorow further noted in his article about Swartz, titled RIP, Aaron Swartz, that this young computer genius may have, also, been targeted by the Obama regime who have been furiously hunting for computer hackers linked in any way whatsoever to Manning.
Seemingly unbeknownst to the community of American computer experts mourning Swartz today is that his death, should it have, indeed, been orchestrated by the Obama regime as this GRU report suggests, under US law it is completely legal as their President has the right to assassinate anyone he so chooses, in any manner he chooses, all without either charges or trial.
In fact, in 2010, the Obama regime drafted a secret legal memorandum claiming that the President had the power to order the killing of an American citizen without a trial. Several US officials described this secret memo as a 50-page document drafted by the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel. This is the same government agency, the WSWS news service reports, that drafted the notorious ''torture memos'' during the Bush administration, justifying waterboarding and other abuses of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay and other US military and CIA-run prisons.
So frightening has the Obama regime become that the Bloomberg news service reported this past October (2012) that, ''Eric Holder, attorney general under President Barack Obama, has prosecuted more government officials for alleged leaks under the World War I-era Espionage Act than all his predecessors combined, including law-and-order Republicans John Mitchell, Edwin Meese and John Ashcroft.''
Even worse, and as reported by the Examiner news service, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi last month advocating giving Obama ''dictatorial powers'' and the highly influential American progressive political blog Daily Kos is now openly calling for a ''benevolent'' Obama dictatorship.
Falling on deaf ears, however, were President Putin's warnings to the American people in 2009 wherein he said the US should take a lesson from the pages of Russian history and not exercise ''excessive intervention in economic activity and blind faith in the state's omnipotence''.
''In the 20th century, the Soviet Union made the state's role absolute,'' Putin said during a speech at the opening ceremony of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. ''In the long run, this made the Soviet economy totally uncompetitive. This lesson cost us dearly. I am sure nobody wants to see it repeated.''
The death of Aaron Swartz, however, shows that once again these Americans, who continually fail to remember the past, are doomed to repeat it.
January 13, 2012 (C) EU and US all rights reserved. Permission to use this report in its entirety is granted under the condition it is linked back to its original source at WhatDoesItMean.Com. Freebase content licensed under CC-BY and GFDL.
[Ed. Note: Western governments and their intelligence services actively campaign against the information found in these reports so as not to alarm their citizens about the many catastrophic Earth changes and events to come, a stance that the Sisters of Sorcha Faal strongly disagrees with in believing that it is every human beings right to know the truth. Due to our missions conflicts with that of those governments, the responses of their 'agents' against us has been a longstanding misinformation/misdirection campaign designed to discredit and which is addressed in the report ''Who Is Sorcha Faal?''.]
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Sun, 13 Jan 2013 12:15
Aaron H. Swartz (November 8, 1986 '' January 11, 2013) was an American computer programmer, writer, archivist, political organizer, and Internet activist. Swartz co-authored the "RSS 1.0" specification of RSS, and built the Web site framework web.py and the architecture for the Open Library. He also built Infogami, a company that merged with Reddit in its early days, through which he became an equal owner of the merged company.[i]
Swartz also focused on sociology, civic awareness and activism. In 2010 he was a member of the Harvard University Center for Ethics. He cofounded the online group Demand Progress (best known for its campaign against SOPA) and later worked with US and international activist groups Rootstrikers and Avaaz.
On January 6, 2011, Swartz was arrested in connection with systematic downloading of academic journal articles from JSTOR, which became the subject of a federal investigation. On January 11, 2013, Swartz was found dead in his Brooklyn, New York apartment; it is reported that he had hanged himself.
Life and worksSwartz was born in Chicago, Illinois, the son of Susan and Robert Swartz. Swartz's family lived in Highland Park, Illinois. His father founded a software company, and from a young age Swartz was interested in computing, frequently studying computers, the Internet and Internet culture. When he was 13, Swartz was a winner of the ArsDigita Prize, a competition for young people who created "useful, educational, and collaborative" non-commercial Web sites. The prize included a trip to Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and meetings with Internet notables. At the age of 14 Swartz was collaborating with experts in networking standards as a member of the working group that authored the RSS 1.0 Specification. Writing in Yahoo! News, Virginia Heffernan said about Swartz, "he agitated without cease'--or compensation'--for the free-culture movement."
Infogami and RedditHe later attended Stanford University, but left after just one year. Instead he founded the software company Infogami, a startup that was funded by Y Combinator's first Summer Founders Program.
Through the Y Combinator program, Swartz started the wiki platform Infogami (later used to support the web.py and Open Library sites), but felt he needed co-founders to proceed. Y-Combinator organizers suggested that Infogami merge with Reddit, which it did in November 2005. While Reddit initially found it difficult to make money from the project, the site later gained in popularity, with millions of users visiting it each month. In late 2006, after months of negotiations, Reddit was sold to Cond(C)Net, owners of Wired magazine. Swartz moved with his company to San Francisco to work on Wired, but grew unhappy with the set-up and in January, 2007, he was asked to resign from his position. Swartz described himself as being ill and suffering from a constant depressed mood throughout 2007. In September, 2007, Swartz joined with Simon Carstensen and launched Jottit. In 2010''2011 he was a fellow at Harvard University's Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics.
Swartz was also the creator of the web.py Web application framework, and co-founded Demand Progress, a progressive advocacy group that organizes people via email and other media for "contacting Congress and other leaders, funding pressure tactics, and spreading the word" about targeted issues.
Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA)Swartz was significantly involved with a campaign to prevent the passing of the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) bill that sought to monitor the Internet for copyright violations. Following the defeat of the bill, Swartz was the keynote speaker at the F2C:Freedom to Connect 2012 event in Washington DC, US on May 21, 2012'--Swartz's speech was entitled "How we stopped SOPA" and he informed the audience:
It was really stopped by the people; the people themselves'--they killed the bill dead. So dead, that when members of Congress propose something now that even touches the Internet, they have to give a long speech beforehand about how it is definitely not like SOPA. So dead, that when you ask Congressional staffers about it, they groan and shake their heads, like it's all a bad dream they're trying really hard to forget. So dead, that it's kind of hard to believe this story; hard to remember how close it all came to actually passing. Hard to remember how this could have gone any other way. But it wasn't a dream or a nightmare'--it was all very real. And it will happen again; sure, it will have another name, and maybe a different excuse, and probably do its damage in a different way, but make no mistake, the enemies of the freedom to connect have not disappeared. The fire in those politician's eyes has not been put out. There are a lot of people, a lot of powerful people, who wanna clamp down on the Internet. And to be honest, there aren't a whole lot who have a vested interest in protecting it from all of that ... We won this fight because everyone made themselves the hero of their own story. Everyone took it as their job to save this crucial freedom ... the senators were right'--the Internet really is out of control!
Swartz also presented on this topic at an event organized by ThoughtWorks.
WikipediaSwartz volunteered as an editor at Wikipedia, and in 2006 ran for the Wikimedia Foundation's Board of Directors, but lost. Also in 2006 Swartz wrote an analysis of how Wikipedia articles are written concluding that the bulk of the actual content is coming from a large group of relatively inactive editors while a core group of volunteers helps to format and arrange contributions. The analysis was prompted by Jimmy Wales's view that a small community of volunteers writes the encyclopedia while many others contribute minor typo fixes, spelling error corrections, etc. Swartz analyzed Wikipedia edits and sought to apply a metric which counted the total number of characters added during an edit to measure the amount of content that was added (the details of Swartz's implementation are described briefly in a footnote linked to from the blog post).
ControversiesPACERIn 2009, he downloaded and publicly released approximately 20% of the PACER database of United States federal court documents managed by the Administrative Office of the United States Courts. He had accessed the system as part of a free trial of PACER at 17 libraries around the country, which was suspended "pending an evaluation" as a result of Swartz's actions. Those actions brought him under investigation by the FBI, but the case was closed two months later with no charges being filed.
JSTOROn July 19, 2011, Swartz was charged by U.S. Attorney for Massachusetts with wire fraud, computer fraud, unlawfully obtaining information from a protected computer, and recklessly damaging a protected computer, in relation to downloading roughly 4 million academic journal articles from JSTOR. According to the indictment against him, Swartz surreptitiously attached a laptop to MIT's computer network, which allowed him to "rapidly download an extraordinary volume of articles from JSTOR." Prosecutors in the case claim Swartz acted with the intention of making the papers available on P2P file-sharing sites.
Swartz surrendered to authorities, pleading not guilty on all accounts, and was released on US$100,000 unsecured bail. Prosecution of the case continued, with charges of wire fraud and computer fraud, carrying a potential prison term of up to 35 years and a fine of up to $1 million. After Swartz's arrest, JSTOR put out a statement saying it would not pursue civil litigation against him.
Despite JSTOR having dropped all civil charges, Assistant U.S. Attorneys Stephen P. Heymann and Scott L. Garland pursued the criminal case against Swartz under U.S. attorney Carmen M. Ortiz, who justified the charges by stating "stealing is stealing, whether you use a computer command or a crowbar, and whether you take documents, data or dollars." The case tested the reach of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, which was passed in 1984 to enhance the government's ability to prosecute hackers who accessed computers to steal information or to disrupt or destroy computer functionality.
The government, however, has interpreted the anti-hacking provisions to include activities such as violating a Web site's terms of service or a company's computer usage policy, a position a federal appeals court in April said means "millions of unsuspecting individuals would find that they are engaging in criminal conduct." The 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals, in limiting reach of the CFAA, said that violations of employee contract agreements and Web sites' terms of service were better left to civil lawsuits.
The rulings by the 9th Circuit cover the West, and not Massachusetts, meaning they are not binding in Swartz's prosecution. The Obama administration declined to appeal the ruling to the Supreme Court.
Swartz was found dead in his Crown Heights, Brooklyn, apartment on January 11, 2013. A spokeswoman for New York's Medical Examiner reported that he had hanged himself. At the time of his death, Swartz, if convicted, faced a maximum of $4 million in fines and more than 50 years in prison after the government increased the number of felony counts against him from 4 to 13.
The family and partner of Swartz created a memorial Web site on which they issued a statement, saying "He used his prodigious skills as a programmer and technologist not to enrich himself but to make the Internet and the world a fairer, better place." In reflecting on the conditions that brought about his suicide, Swartz's family notes that his suicide was "not simply a personal tragedy", but "the product of a criminal justice system rife with intimidation and prosecutorial overreach", with "decisions made by officials in the Massachusetts U.S. Attorney's office and at MIT [contributing] to his death." Swartz was eulogized by his friend and sometime attorney, Lawrence Lessig, calling his prosecution an abuse of proportionality and noting, "the question this government needs to answer is why it was so necessary that Aaron Swartz be labeled a 'felon.'"
Alex Stamos, CEO of Artemis Internet, is a computer forensics investigator employed by the Swartz legal defense as an expert witness. On January 12, 2012, he posted a summary of the expert testimony he was prepared to present in the JSTOR case, concluding "I know a criminal hack when I see it, and Aaron's downloading of journal articles from an unlocked closet is not an offense worth 35 years in jail."
See alsoPublicationsSwartz, Aaron (Jan''Feb 2002). "MusicBrainz: A Semantic Web Service". Intelligent Systems (IEEE) 17 (1): 76''77. doi:10.1109/5254.988466. ISSN 1541-1672.Swartz, Aaron; Hendler, James (October 2001), "The Semantic Web: A Network of Content for the Digital City", Proceedings of the Second Annual Digital Cities Workshop, Kyoto, JP: Blogspace, http://blogspace.com/rdf/SwartzHendler.Gruber, John; Swartz, Aaron (December 2004), Markdown definition, Daring fireball, http://daringfireball.net/projects/markdown/.^Swartz is regularly attributed as a co-founder of Reddit, but the title is the source of controversy. After the merger of Infogami and Reddit, Swartz was an equal owner of parent company Not a Bug, Inc. along with Reddit co-founders Steve Huffman and Alexis Ohanian. Swartz was referred to as "co-founder" in the press, by investor/advisor Paul Graham (who recommended the merger), and in early comments by Ohanian. By mid-2011, when Wired wrote a piece on Swartz's court case, Ohanian said he preferred to describe Swartz as a 'co-owner' rather than co-founder. Wired used the latter title, commenting: "For lack of an accurate term for someone who joins a company early '-- but after launch '-- and who gets paid largely in equity, we use the term co-founder in this story." 
References^Cai, Anne (January 12, 2013). "Aaron Swartz commits suicide". The Tech. Massachusetts Institute of Technology. http://tech.mit.edu/V132/N61/swartz.html. Retrieved January 12, 2013.^Kirschbaum, Connor (August 3, 2011). "Swartz indicted for JSTOR theft". The Tech. Massachusetts Institute of Technology. http://tech.mit.edu/V131/N30/swartz.html. Retrieved January 12, 2013.^"Police Log". The Tech. Massachusetts Institute of Technology. February 18, 2011. http://tech.mit.edu/V131/N6/polog.html. Retrieved January 12, 2013.^"Aaron Swartz, internet freedom activist, dies aged 26". BBC News Online. 2013-01-13. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-21001452. Retrieved 2013-01-13.^Owen Thomas (January 12, 2013). "Family Of Aaron Swartz Blames MIT, Prosecutors For His Death". Business Insider. http://www.businessinsider.com/statement-family-aaron-swartz-2013-1. Retrieved January 12, 2013.^John Schwartz (2013-01-13). "Internet Activist, a Creator of RSS, Is Dead at 26, Apparently a Suicide". The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/13/technology/aaron-swartz-internet-activist-dies-at-26.html. Retrieved 2013-01-13.^http://www.latimes.com/news/obituaries/la-me-0113-aaron-swartz-20130113,0,5232490.story^ abcdAaron, Swartz. "How to get a job like mine". Aaron Swartz: just the facts, sir. Jottit.com. https://aaronsw.jottit.com/howtoget. Retrieved January 12, 2013.^Heffernan, Virginia (2013-01-12). "Aaron Swartz, 1986-2013: a computer hacker who is now a political martyr". Yahoo! News. http://news.yahoo.com/what-we-learned-from-aaron-swartz-s-suicide-004332081.html. Retrieved 2013-01-13.^Singel, Ryan (September 13, 2005). "Stars Rise at Startup Summer Camp". Wired.com. Cond(C) Nast. http://www.wired.com/science/discoveries/news/2005/09/68710. Retrieved January 12, 2013.^ ab"Introduction", Infogami, archived from the original on 2007'Æ12'Æ24, http://web.archive.org/web/20071224194042/http://infogami.com/blog/introduction^"Passion for your users will come back: Alexis Ohanian, cofounder of Reddit". Startup stories. November 11, 2006. Archived from the original on August 8, 2007. http://web.archive.org/web/20070823200504/http://startupstories.com/2006/11/29/passion-for-your-users-will-come-back-alexis-ohanian-co-founder-of-reddit/.^ abcSingel, Ryan (July 19, 2011). "Feds Charge Activist as Hacker for Downloading Millions of Academic Articles". Wired. http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2011/07/swartz-arrest/. Retrieved January 12, 2013.^Lenssen, Philipp (2007). "A Chat with Aaron Swartz". Google Blogoscoped. Google Inc. Archived from the original on April 27, 2010. http://blogoscoped.com/archive/2007-05-07-n78.html. Retrieved May 11, 2010.^Aaron, Swartz. "Sick" (weblog). http://www.aaronsw.com/weblog/verysick. Retrieved January 12, 2013.^ abMatthews, Laura (July 19, 2011). "Who is Aaron Swartz, the JSTOR MIT Hacker?". International Business Times. International Business Times. http://www.ibtimes.com/who-aaron-swartz-jstor-mit-hacker-full-text-300177. Retrieved January 13, 2013.^Grehan, Rick (August 10, 2011). "Pillars of Python: Web.py Web framework". InfoWorld. IDG. http://www.infoworld.com/d/application-development/pillars-python-webpy-web-framework-169072?page=0,0&1357985258=. Retrieved January 12, 2013.^ abF2C2012 (22). "F2C2012: Aaron Swartz keynote - "How we stopped SOPA"" (Video upload). YouTube. Google, Inc. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fgh2dFngFsg. Retrieved 13 January 2013.^Joe Friendly (17). "Aaron Swartz: How We Stopped SOPA" (Video upload). YouTube. Google, Inc. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gl0vHBsapBc. Retrieved 13 January 2013.^ abAaron Swartz (September 4, 2006). "Who Writes Wikipedia? (Aaron Swartz's Raw Thought)". http://www.aaronsw.com/weblog/whowriteswikipedia. Retrieved January 12, 2013.^Blodget, Henry (January 3, 2009). "Who The Hell Writes Wikipedia, Anyway?". Business Insider. http://www.businessinsider.com/2009/1/who-the-hell-writes-wikipedia-anyway. Retrieved January 12, 2013.^Schwartz, John (February 12, 2009). "An Effort to Upgrade a Court Archive System to Free and Easy". The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/13/us/13records.html. Retrieved January 12, 2013.^ abSingel, Ryan (October 5, 2009). "FBI Investigated Coder for Liberating Paywalled Court Records". Wired (Cond(C) Nast). http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2009/10/swartz-fbi/. Retrieved January 12, 2013.^Bilton, Nick (July 19, 2011). "Internet Activist Charged in Data Theft". Boston: Bits Blog, The New York Times Company. http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/07/19/reddit-co-founder-charged-with-data-theft/. Retrieved July 19, 2011.^Lundin, Leigh (July 31, 2011). "The Thief Who Stole Knowledge". Computer Crimes. Criminal Brief. http://criminalbrief.com/?p=17625.^Lindsay, Jay (July 19, 2011). "Feds: Harvard fellow hacked millions of papers". Associated Press. http://news.yahoo.com/feds-harvard-fellow-hacked-millions-papers-203301454.html. Retrieved July 20, 2011.^ abcSchwartz, John (July 19, 2011). "Open-Access Advocate Arrested for Huge Download". The New York Times. Archived from the original on January 13, 2013. http://www.webcitation.org/6DdcRyTOx. Retrieved January 12, 2013.^District of Massachusetts. "United States v. Aaron Swartz". The Internet Archive/RECAP. 1:11-cr-10260. Archived from the original on December 18, 2012 (and ongoing). http://archive.org/download/gov.uscourts.mad.137971/gov.uscourts.mad.137971.docket.html. Retrieved January 3, 2013.^Sims, Nancy (October 2011). "Library licensing and criminal law: The Aaron Swartz case". College & Research Libraries News (Association of College and Research Libraries) 72 (9): 534''537. ISSN 0099-0086. http://crln.acrl.org/content/72/9/534.full. Retrieved January 13, 2013.^"US Government Ups Felony Count In JSTOR/Aaron Swartz Case From Four To Thirteen". Tech dirt. 2012'Æ9'Æ17. http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20120917/17393320412/us-government-ups-felony-count-jstoraaron-swartz-case-four-to-thirteen.shtml. Retrieved January 12, 2013.^"JSTOR Statement: Misuse Incident and Criminal Case". JSTOR. http://about.jstor.org/news/jstor-statement-misuse-incident-and-criminal-case. Retrieved January 12, 2013.^Superseding Indictment - United States of America v. Aaron Swartz, September 12, 2012, p. 17, http://www.wired.com/images_blogs/threatlevel/2012/09/swartzsuperseding.pdf^Poulsen, Kevin (January 12, 2013). "Aaron Swartz, Coder and Activist, Dead at 26". Archived from the original on January 13, 2013. http://www.webcitation.org/6DdbqKLaQ.^Carter, Zach; Grim, Ryan; Reilly, Ryan J. (January 12, 2013). "Aaron Swartz, Internet Pioneer, Found Dead Amid Prosecutor 'Bullying' In Unconventional Case". http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/12/aaron-swartz_n_2463726.html.^Kravets, David (September 18, 2012). "Feds Charge Activist with 13 Felonies for Rogue Downloading of Academic Articles". Wired. http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2012/09/aaron-swartz-felony/all/. Retrieved January 12, 2013.^Kravets, David (August 10, 2012). "DOJ Won't Ask Supreme Court to Review Hacking Case". Wired. http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2012/08/computer-fraud-supreme-court/. Retrieved January 12, 2013.^Wisloski, Jess. "Reddit Founder Dead in Crown Heights Home, Reports Say - DNAinfo.com New York". Dnainfo.com. http://www.dnainfo.com/new-york/20130112/crown-heights/reddit-founder-dead-crown-heights-home-reports-say. Retrieved January 13, 2013.^"Co-founder of Reddit Aaron Swartz found dead". News. CBS. http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-205_162-57563656/co-founder-of-reddit-aaron-swartz-found-dead/. Retrieved January 12, 2013.^ abLessig, Lawrence (January 12, 2013). "Prosecutor as bully". http://lessig.tumblr.com/post/40347463044/prosecutor-as-bully. Retrieved January 12, 2013.^Kravets, David (01.12.2013). "Internet activist Aaron Swartz commits suicide". Wired. http://news.cnet.com/8301-1023_3-57563642-93/internet-activist-aaron-swartz-commits-suicide/. Retrieved January 13, 2013.^"Remember Aaron Swartz". Tumblr. Archived from the original on January 13, 2013. http://www.webcitation.org/6DdbeYyVO. Retrieved January 12, 2013.^"The Truth about Aaron Swartz's "Crime''". Blog. Unhandled Exception. http://unhandled.com/2013/01/12/the-truth-about-aaron-swartzs-crime/. Retrieved January 12, 2013.^"...there was a third cofounder of Reddit, who was...", Today I learned..., Reddit, http://www.reddit.com/r/todayilearned/comments/d2njs/til_there_was_a_third_cofounder_of_reddit_who_was/c0x40yz^Ohanian, Alexis, Twitter, https://twitter.com/alexisohanian/status/93374221685755904^Ohanian, Alexis, +, Google, https://plus.google.com/+AlexisOhanian/posts/9NUWmu2c9pqExternal linksPersondataNameSwartz, Aaron H.Alternative namesSwartz, AaronShort descriptionUS computer programmer and writerDate of birth1986-11-08Place of birthChicago, Illinois, United StatesDate of death2013-01-11Place of deathNew York City, New York, United States
Sun, 13 Jan 2013 14:18
In his Friday morning news conference, National Rifle Association chief executive Wayne LaPierre floated the idea of a national registry of the mentally ill as one way to stem gun violence.
''How can we possibly even guess how many, given our nation's refusal to create an active national database of the mentally ill?'' he asked.
Turns out, many states are ahead of him: 38 states require or authorize the use of certain mental health records for use in a firearm background check, according to the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, a San Francisco-based nonprofit that tracks state level gun legislation.
The Gun Control Act of 1968 prohibits gun sales to individuals who have been committed to a mental institution or ''adjudicated as a mental defective.''
''The federal law pretty much says that anyone who has been involuntarily committed or anyone who has been determined by a court to be a danger to themselves or others, those two categories are prohibited from possessing firearms,'' says Lindsay Nichols, an attorney with the Center to Prevent Gun Violence.
That prohibition stands today but is pretty difficult to enforce, partially due to the issue LaPierre mentioned: Reporting on mental health status is incomplete, with a hodgepodge of state laws that specify what information does, or does not, go into the federal background check system.
The issue came to a head after the Virginia Tech shooting in 2007. Shooter Seung-Hui Cho was, under federal law, ineligible to purchase a firearm after a Virginia judge had declared him to be a danger to himself. At that time, however, Virginia had no law requiring reporting of mental health records to the federal database. Cho's disqualifying diagnosis was never transmitted into the background check database.
Shortly after that shooting, Congress allocated additional funds for states that shared at least 90 percent of their mental health records with the federal government, which they could put toward their criminal justice programs.
A report from Mayors Against Illegal Guns found that, between August 2010 and October 2011, mental health records sent to the federal database increased by 35.4 percent.
Thirty states (including Virginia) now either authorize or require reporting mental health records to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, or NICS. Those are the states in dark red below. Another eight states, in lighter red, authorize or require reporting of mental health records to a separate, state-level database.
Each state law has a bit of a different flavor to it. Alabama, for example, only requires reporting of an involuntarily commitment if there is ''evidence that the person has a history of inappropriate use of firearms or poses a threat to use firearms inappropriately.'' In Hawaii, health-care providers and public health authorities are responsible for providing information in cases where the county police chief requests it. Illinois requires immediate reporting to the state police when a person has been adjudicated as a ''mental defective,'' as defined by federal regulations.
Creating a national database, Nichols says, would be a difficult task to pull off, and not just because of the ''nation's refusal'' that LaPierre cited.
The federal government does not have the constitutional authority to require state agencies to report data. The most it can do is offer funding '-- or withhold dollars '-- in an attempt to entice states to participate, just as they did with the law after the Virginia Tech shooting.
Many anti-gun advocates push for better mental health reporting, including Mayors Against Illegal Guns. It recommended in a November 2011 report that ''Congress should significantly increase both the federal funding available to assist record sharing and the penalties for states that do not comply, and tie them to far more ambitious reporting targets.''
Nichols too believes that better state tracking of mental health records, and stronger reporting to the federal government, would be a positive step for gun control.
''State legislators need to pay great attention to this,'' she says. ''They need to have the capacity to manage their own affairs and help enforce these prohibitions.''
Sun, 13 Jan 2013 02:58
WWN has learned that Hillary Clinton did not have a blood clot. She went into the hospital to have a facelift.
WWN has learned that Hillary Clinton did not have a blood clot. She went into the hospital to have a facelift.
Sources close to Bill Clinton's friends tell WWN that Hillary Rodham Clinton was not happy with her appearance in recent months. She is planning to run for President in 2016 and wants to look ''young and fresh'' again, so she went into the hospital to have a facelift.
Her hospitalization at Columbia Presbyterian the day after New Year's was shrouded in mystery '' with many rumors about her condition. It was announced that she had a blood clot after she fell, after she had a stomach virus. But according to her doctor at Columbia Presbyterian, Dr. Sal Bangaru, she wanted a full facelift, some liposuction and a long-desired nose job.
''All her surgeries went very, very well,'' said Dr. Bangaru. ''She will make a full recovery in two months and look fabulous when she testifies before Congress.''
President Obama encouraged Hillary to get a facelift. ''She was looking tired even when she wasn't and the President wanted her to get the procedure done. In fact, he paid for it'... Well, the taxpayers picked up the tab,'' said White House Press Secretary, Jay Carney.
When it comes to celebrities and public leaders like Secretary Clinton, the urge to speculate and pontificate is high '' but the high road is lined with respect and restraint.
Sources close to Hillary say that she was very pleased with how the surgery went and is now planning more plastic surgery. Joan Rivers is advising her.
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Sat, 12 Jan 2013 22:57
(Floyd And Mary Beth Brown) It's even worse than we previously thought.
A retired four-star admiral is now claiming that Barack Obama intentionally conspired with America's enemies to stage a bogus attack and the kidnapping of an American ambassador so he could ''negotiate'' the release of a ''hostage'' and bolster his mediocre approval ratings just prior to the election!
The Washington Examiner, quoting retired Four-Star Admiral James Lyons, writes: ''the attack on the American Consulate in Benghazi'... was the result of a bungled abduction attempt'.... the first stage of an international prisoner exchange'... that would have ensured the release of Omar Abdel Rahman, the 'Blind Sheik''...''
But something went horribly wrong with Obama's ''October Surprise.'' Although the Obama Administration intentionally gutted security at the consulate prior to the staged kidnapping, former Navy SEALs Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty disobeyed direct orders to stand down, saved American lives, single-handedly killed scores of attackers'...and the attackers, believing that Obama had betrayed them, tortured Ambassador Chris Stevens and dragged his body through the streets.
Some will say that Admiral Lyons' accusation is not a smoking gun. We agree; that's exactly why Congress must investigate Benghazi-gate.
Moreover, we firmly believe the problem with Admiral Lyons' assertion is that he is only scratching the surface; the full and complete truth may be much, much worse.
Benghazi-gate is not about a bogus YouTube video series of lies. It's not about the Obama Administration's foreign policy ineptitude. We are dealing with something much more sinister'... something potentially treasonous'... and the following questions, posed in an article in The New American, go to the heart of the matter:
1. ''What was the Obama administration's full role in helping violent Jihadists, self-styled al Qaeda terrorists, and Western-backed ''revolutionaries'' take over Libya in the first place?
2. Did that half-baked scheme to arm Jihadist leaders, who'... had previously fought U.S. troops in Iraq, contribute to the attack, as countless experts and officials have suggested?
3. What was actually going on at the compound in Benghazi, which, as the report states, was never a ''consulate'' despite establishment media claims?
4. Was Ambassador Stevens recruiting and arming Jihadists and terrorists to wage war on the Syrian regime after what Obama called the ''success'' in Libya, as a growing body of credible evidence suggests?
5. Why did the administration claim for so long that the attack was just a ''protest'' over a YouTube video gone awry, even when it knew definitively that was not the case?
6. Was the lack of security at the compound a political ploy to conceal the extent of the lawlessness and utter chaos left in the wake of Obama's unconstitutional ''regime change'' war on Libya, as even members of Congress have alleged?''
It's clear. Benghazi-Gate is only a small piece of a much larger operation, an attempt to conceal what The New American calls ''the Obama administration's full role in helping violent Jihadists and self-styled al Qaeda terrorists.''
Prior to the election Barack Obama continually told us that ''Osama bin-Laden is dead and GM is alive''; but the sad truth is that Osama bin-Laden's organization is alive and well, and the Obama Regime may be giving aid and comfort to this terrorist network.
And prior to the election, Fox News' Geraldo Rivera pontificated that Republicans shouldn't ''politicize'' Benghazi-gate. Swaggering onto the set of Fox and Friends, Rivera bloviated: ''I think we have to stop this politicizing.'' And Rivera issued the following veiled warning to Republicans: ''Do we want to try and influence the election with a tragedy that happened in North Africa?''
Ironic, isn't it? Barack Obama played politics with the lives of Americans; like Rivera, the media covered Obama's rear and threatened to accuse anyone and everyone who mentioned it of ''playing politics.''
Weak-willed Republicans apparently took Rivera's threat to heart as Rivera also said that Republican Senators John Barrasso, James Inhofe, and Bob Corker, who all sit on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, ''all agree that the supercharged atmosphere around the story '-- prudence dictates that these hearings be postponed until'' after the election.
Well, the election has come and gone. Congress now has no excuse. The American people needed the truth before the election; but now that Obama is back in the White House, real conservatives must demand answers.
The American people deserve to have those questions answered; and moreover, the American people deserve justice.
Sun, 13 Jan 2013 12:01
Retired Four-Star Admiral James ''Ace'' Lyons, one of the guests on ''Lou Dobbs Tonight'' this past Wednesday evening, suggests the attack on the American Consulate in Benghazi, Libya on September 11 was the result of a bungled abduction attempt.
Admiral Lyons, whose career in the United States (U.S.) Navy was capped by two years of service as the Commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet from 1985 to 1987, thinks this kidnapping was planned to be the first stage of an international prisoner exchange. This transfer of prisoners would have ensured the release of Omar Abdel Rahman, the ''Blind Sheik'' convicted of orchestrating the World Trade Center Bombing in 1993.
Lyons' analysis of the evidence led him to the failed kidnapping conclusion
Admiral James Lyons suggests the Obama administration intentionally lessened the levels of security at the consulate compound in Benghazi in the weeks leading up to the attack. This plan should have worked to reduce the possibility of resistance as the Ansar al-Sharia terrorist organization captured Chris Stevens, the American Ambassador to Libya.
According to information obtained by Fox News, Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty, both former U.S. Navy Seals, ignored orders to "stand down" and fought vigorously for hours in their attempt to defend the compound from the impending attack.
Ultimately, these armed assaults on the U.S. Consulate and CIA annex claimed the life of four Americans--Ambassador Chris Stevens, former U.S. Navy Seals Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty, and State Department information manager Sean Smith.
Failed kidnapping attempt theory proposed by Western Center for Journalism
In October 2012, the Western Center for Journalism released two separate articles suggesting the killing of Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans in the Benghazi attack was the result of a failed kidnapping attempt aborted by the complicit terrorists when they encountered the unexpected armed resistance at the U.S. Consulate.
On October 20, Kris Zane published the center's initial article ''Muslim Brotherhood Behind Benghazi Attack with Link to Obama.'' Zane suggests the ''Innocence of Muslims'' video was nothing more than a scapegoat the Obama administration utilized to distract the public from the incriminating information being gathered from the investigations into the attack at Benghazi, Libya.
Within 24 hours of the incident, ground intelligence had already linked the assault on the compound to Mohammed Morsi, the Muslim Brotherhood president of Egypt. Therefore, the Obama administration had already determined by September 12 the online video had absolutely nothing to do with the armed assault on the American Consulate and CIA annex.
Later in the article, Zane cites an anonymous source from inside the White House that explained the Benghazi debacle had been constructed in order to deliver an ''October surprise for Obama.'' The administration's plan was to abduct Ambassador Stevens to ensure the release of Abdel Rahman would be more ''palatable to the American people.''
By winning the release of Stevens, Obama would have boosted his mediocre approval ratings just in time for Election Day, and Mohammed Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood could have secured the freedom of their beloved ''Blind Sheik.''
On October 23, news networks received and released emails confirming that all vital intelligence agencies had been informed of the severity of the attack within two hours of the confrontation. These same communications had also been forwarded to the White House Situation Room.
On October 25, Kris Zane published his second article on the incident ''Obama Linked to Benghazi Attack.'' This submission also included a video detailing the facts and research Zane had gathered to support his conclusion that this botched abduction attempt was the real reason behind the deadly Benghazi attack.
Judge Mukasey links Obama to release of sheik
Almost a month before the Western Center for Journalism shared its conclusions in regards to the Benghazi attack, the Wall Street Journal had published an article on September 24, 2012 from Judge Michael Mukasey entitled ''Will Obama Free the Blind Sheik?''
In his submission, Mukasey questioned the wisdom of releasing this ''poisonously influential Islamic Cleric'' Omar Abdel Rahman back to his homeland. Upon Rahman's release to Egypt, Judge Mukasey concluded the sheik would incite additional domestic and international acts of terror against Americans.
Judge Mukasey, who presided over Abdel Rahman's trial in 1995, had sentenced the sheik to life in prison upon his conviction for the 1993 World Trade Center Bombing, numerous plots to destroy other landmarks in New York City, and conspiring to assassinate Hosni Mubarak, the President of Egypt.
According to Mukasey, Rahman's ''legacy'' as an ''totemic figure'' for Islamic militants originated in 1981, when his "pronouncements" were used by Egyptian soldiers to justify their assassination of Egyptian President Anwar Sadat.
Mukasey informs his readers of the June 2012 meeting at the White House when Hani Nour Eldin urged that Abdel Rahman be transferred to Egypt. Questions immediately arose as to how Eldin, who had just completed an 11 year sentence for terrorism charges and was also a professed member of a designated terrorist organization, could have even been granted a visa to enter the U.S., much less secure a visit to the White House.
After an adamant series of interrogations from Congress, Homeland Security official Nelson Peacock admitted that while the issuance of Eldin's visa failed to raise ''warning flags,'' regulations would have required him to receive ''waiver from someone in authority'' for admittance to the U.S.
Sources suggest Clinton's documents confirm orders for additional security
Well-renowned writer Ed Klein appeared as a guest on The Blaze TV's ''Wilkow!'' on October 24 to discuss the existence of documents confirming Clinton ordered additional security for the compound in Benghazi, Libya prior to the attack on September 11 2012.
Host Andrew Wilkow spoke with Klein, who reported ''legal counsel'' for the Clintons had informed him of Bill and Hillary's numerous heated discussions in recent weeks regarding the release of these papers.
Ed Klein insisted these communications written by Hillary Clinton had ordered additional security to be provided in Benghazi, and Obama blatantly refused her request. These documents could be used to further support the rampant suspicions Obama had ulterior motives for leaving the American outpost virtually unguarded from outside aggressors.
Bill Clinton tried to convince Hillary to go forward with her written requests so she would be exonerated from any wrong-doing in the attack. Hillary refused to disclose the orders for additional security out of fear she would be labeled as a "betrayer" of the Democratic Party. This "betrayal" would have eliminated her chance to run for president in 2016.
It is worth noting that within days of Obama's reelection, Hillary Clinton resigned from her cabinet position as Secretary of State. This resignation infers there is truth to the widely reported rumors that the relationship between the Clintons and Obama has always been "tense at best."
Congress and the media question timing of General Petraeus' resignation
Further confounding analysts trying to determine what really happened in Benghazi on the night of September 11 are the recent revelations about General David Petraeus' affair with his Biographer Paula Broadwell.
General Petraeus publicly stated this affair with his biographer was the reason he submitted his resignation. News of this sex scandal surfaced less than a week after Election Day, when a slim majority of American voters had re-elected Barack Obama as President of the United States.
Reports indicate the FBI initiated an investigation over the summer regarding General Petraeus' extramarital affair and the potential related threats to national security. However, the agency never alerted Congress of the potential compromise of confidential information.
The Obama administration has also insisted it was never notified by the FBI of the pending investigation prior to the election. However, many critics now conclude the White House intentionally delayed the announcement of Petraeus' resignation to avoid any impact on Obama's reelection bid.
Tracking down the truths behind the Benghazi attack will take time and tenacity
The circumstantial evidence increasingly supports the various sources currently suggesting the attacks on the U.S. Consulate and CIA annex in Benghazi, Libya was in fact an aborted abduction attempt resulting in the murder of four Americans. However, tracking down the truth will take time and tenacity for all of the investigators involved in the hunt for honest answers.
Voters can play a pivotal role in ensuring the actual account of events will be released by repeatedly contacting local and national media sources, as well as their elected congressional representatives. It is imperative the American electorate demand honesty, transparency, and accountability in the investigation of the attack that lead the death of four Americans in Benghazi, Libya.
Sat, 12 Jan 2013 22:53
Paul Krugman hardest hit.
The Treasury Department will not mint a trillion-dollar platinum coin to get around the debt ceiling. If they did, the Federal Reserve would not accept it.
That's the bottom line of the statement that Anthony Coley, a spokesman for the Treasury Department, gave me today. ''Neither the Treasury Department nor the Federal Reserve believes that the law can or should be used to facilitate the production of platinum coins for the purpose of avoiding an increase in the debt limit,'' he said.
HT: Zero Hedge
Sat, 12 Jan 2013 22:36
(Haitian Prime Minister Laurent Lamorthe, Haitian President Michel Martelly, UN special envoy to Haiti former US president Bill Clinton and Haitian First Lady Sophia Martelly observe a minute of silence on January 12, 2013 in Titanyin, 14km from Port-au-Prince, at a communal grave for a memorial ceremony in honor of the victims of the January 12, 2010 earthquake in Haiti. Three years after a massive earthquake ravaged Haiti, Martelly said the country was slowly rebuilding, despite the ongoing day-to-day misery of many survivors. An estimated 250,000 people were killed in the earthquake. Hundreds of thousands are still living rough in squalid makeshift camps, and they now face rampant crime, a cholera outbreak and the occasional hurricane. (Photo by Thony Belizaire/AFP))
Former U.S. President Bill Clinton flew to Haiti on Saturday to join the country's president, Michel Martelly, at an official commemoration of the third anniversary of the earthquake that decimated the capital and killed more than 250,000 people.
The simple, wreath-laying memorial was held at a mass burial site on a barren hillside on the outskirts of Haiti's capital, Port-au-Prince, where neither Clinton, the U.N.'s Special Envoy for Haiti, nor Martelly made speeches.
''Today we're here so that we don't forget, and to do better,'' Haiti's Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe told reporters. ''We were heavily hit, that's true. But we're standing strong to rebuild our country.''
Earlier on Saturday, Haiti's government marked the occasion with a purposefully low-key ceremony on the grounds of the razed national palace in downtown Port-au-Prince. In a short address, Martelly paid homage to the memories of those who perished, and to the courage of those who survived.
''A little more lonely, a little more vulnerable,'' said Martelly. ''I express to you my compassion.''
He addressed international donors and aid organisations, thanking them and promising that the ongoing reconstruction effort would be closely evaluated to avoid waste and corruption. ''I understand your concern,'' he said.
Martelly also announced the launch of a new building code to saying that another tragedy like that of 2010 would never happen again.
Clinton was to meet privately with Martelly and Lamothe later in the day.
This year's anniversary is a marked change from the hours-long commemoration the government organized in the last two years, including live musical performances, a series of prayers from Haiti's spiritual leaders, press conferences and a tree-planting ceremony.
In 2011, a major concert outside the palace filled the streets with dancing.
Unlike other years, this third anniversary of the quake was not declared a national holiday. All the same, many businesses chose to shut their doors for the day, and the normally bustling streets were noticeably quieter.
Three years after the earthquake struck reconstruction has been painfully slow, and barely half of the $5 billion pledged by donors has been delivered.
More than 350,000 displaced earthquake victims are still living in camps, many under the threat of eviction, with little relief in sight of most. Only about 6,000 permanent houses have been built since the earthquake.
But there are some visible signs of progress beginning to emerge. An estimated 80 per cent of the rubble left by collapsed buildings has been removed, and some long-term development projects in Haiti's north were inaugurated in recent months, including a $300 million industrial park in Caracol and an expansion of Cap Haitien's airport to accommodate international carriers.
More than 80 new schools have been built by the Jamaica-based cellphone company, Digicel, and a modern teaching hospital, built by the charity Partners In Health, was inaugurated in the central Haiti town of Mirebalais.
Clinton is due to visit a housing project for displaced earthquake victims and an agricultural and technical training center run by Mission of Hope, an evangelical group, on Saturday.
Sat, 12 Jan 2013 13:54
11 January 2013Last updated at20:43 ETBy Lucy RodgersBBC NewsThree years on from Haiti's devastating earthquake, the country's UN special envoy has revealed little official aid money has gone to the country's government and organisations. Why is the funding bypassing Haitians?
After the Earth shook beneath Haiti's capital Port-au-Prince in the late afternoon of 12 January 2010, the epic scale of the destruction soon became clear.
Many of the country's poorly-constructed buildings had simply disintegrated, leaving 200,000 people dead and more than two million without homes.
These scenes of human suffering prompted many of us to dig deep into our pockets and vast sums of money were raised by the UN, international charities and other non-governmental organisations. Public bodies pledged even more.
'Costly temporary clinics'Some $9bn (£5.6bn) of international assistance was given - $3bn from private individuals and companies and $6bn from governments and global institutions (known as bilateral and multilateral donors), according to the Office of the Special Envoy for Haiti (OSE).
But what the OSE and others have been asking is why less than 10% of the $6bn from public donors has gone to the Haitian government and why less than 1% was given to local organisations.
"Public institutions were often and usually inadvertently sidelined by well-meaning organisations that rushed in to provide emergency services," says Deputy Special Envoy Dr Paul Farmer in the OSE report. "Many set up costly temporary clinics while the public sector institutions did not and do not have enough funds to pay the salaries of its doctors and nurses."
"Our experience in Haiti has reminded us that when it comes to aid dollars, how and where we spend them is often as important as how much we spend," he concludes.
The report suggests that concerns about corruption and weak institutions meant international donors were reluctant to channel money through Haiti's organisations.
'Government support needed'But its authors suggest that instead of sidelining the country's government, donors should have done more to support it to take the lead.
The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Society in Haiti says the report's conclusions should be welcomed.
"It is good that we are finally discussing this. The government needs to have more control of more resources," says Alex Claudon, the charity's Haiti representative. But he explains that things are improving.
"You can actually see it. The government is really leading. We have seen this during the hurricane season with Hurricane Sandy. The national system is doing its best to lead the international response."
Continue reading the main storyIt is always important to put these things into context to remember what happened three years ago in Port-au-Prince. There was total destruction and then there was cholera''
End QuoteAlex ClaudonInternational Red CrossThe United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) agrees that national leadership is getting stronger.
But senior country director Sophie De Caen says it is important to remember that Haiti - a country already suffering historical political instability and widespread poverty - was seriously damaged by the 2010 disaster. Many government workers lost their lives.
"You had a very weak government right after the earthquake in part because of the decimation of civil servants," she explains.
The priority now is building up the capacity of government to lead, she says, and she too cites the state response to Hurricanes Isaac and Sandy in 2012 as an example of how the country is moving forward.
"This was a major success for the government to lead on these initiatives," she says. "Our preference is always to have government leadership, but there is still a way to go, because you have to have the systems in place and this takes time."
But most still accept, despite the billions of pounds of aid, progress in Haiti has been slow.
Some 358,000 people remain in temporary accommodation with little access to sanitation, health care and education, according to Oxfam.
And the Canadian government, frustrated with progress, recently announced it was reviewing its aid contributions.
But those working to improve conditions say it is easy to forget the dire conditions Haiti was facing in January 2010.
"It is always important to put these things into context to remember what happened three years ago in Port-au-Prince. There was total destruction and then there was cholera," explains the Red Cross's Alex Claudon.
However, those working to improve conditions in Haiti, insist progress is being made.
Rising school attendanceSome 80% of the 10 million cubic metres of debris has been cleared - and some of it even used to reconstruct homes and footpaths.
A number of temporary camps have been closed and the Haitian government has helped more than 53,000 people move back into their neighbourhoods, through cash grants, rental subsidies, and investment in services.
While a significant number of people do remain in camps, it is not just about getting people out of tents and into houses, says the UNDP's Sophie De Caen.
"You need to ensure they are getting back to neighbourhoods that are safe and that have access to basic services, she explains.
"You also need the support at the community level and time to rebuild the houses."
But there are other reasons to be hopeful, she adds. Rising school attendance, environmental progress - such as tree-planting and river bank strengthening - are all welcome improvements.
However, for the Red Cross's Alex Claudon, there will be one important sign of success come the fourth anniversary of the quake.
"Our biggest hope is that there won't be anyone living in a camp by next year," he says.
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Sun, 13 Jan 2013 11:52
Duplex explosion33.045928-96.988251View larger map
LEWISVILLE '-- A lot of debris remains on the site where Friday's gas explosion leveled a duplex in Lewisville.
There is a pyramid of splintered wood, with debris sprinkled on nearby trees and even the roofs of neighboring homes.
One resident who said her name was "Lori" was too distraught to speak with us on camera, but said she was looking for anything to salvage on Saturday.
Ron Batts, president of Christian Community Action, which owns the damaged properties, took us to an adjacent home.
"You can see the force of the blast blew the windows out and blew things through the house,'' Batts said.
The damaged homes sit 50 feet from the blast site. Another resident, Cathy Greer, just came by to grab what she could and carry it away in bags.
Greer was lucky '-- she left her home an hour before the explosion. She watched it on TV after friends called asking if she was OK.
"The picture they were showing... I immediately recognized it," Greer said. "It was horrible."
But not everybody was so fortunate. A man neighbors call "Scott" was inside the duplex that exploded. As of Saturday night, a hat he always wore sat among the rubble.
''He's extremely critical, so we're monitoring it closely,'' Batts said.
The Lewisville fire chief told News 8 Scott was notified about the gas leak, which happened when a utility company drilled a hole that punctured the line Friday morning.
Scott was not ordered to evacuate because his home was upwind from the leak.
After witnessing the damage for himself, State Rep. Ron Simmons (R-Lewisville) called on utility companies and government officials to learn from what happened on Friday.
"We need to check our protocols, and we need to check our procedures to make sure that they do not need to be evaluated, and changed, and improved upon," he said.
Two firefighters were hurt in the blast, but they are now okay.
Utility crews continued work to secure the gas line on Saturday night. Neighboring residents whose homes weren't damaged cannot return for a few days, because the scene has yet to be cleared and the power is still out.
Those residents are staying in nearby hotels.
If you'd like to help the families that have been displaced, visit the Christian Community Action website to donate or volunteer.
Sun, 13 Jan 2013 02:42
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The U.S. Department of Homeland Security is advising people to temporarily disable the Java software on their computers to avoid potential hacking attacks.
The recommendation came in an advisory issued late Thursday, following up on concerns raised by computer security experts.
Experts believe hackers have found a flaw in Java's coding that creates an opening for criminal activity and other high-tech mischief.
Java is a widely used technical language that allows computer programmers to write a wide variety of Internet applications and other software programs that can run on just about any computer's operating system.
Oracle Corp. bought Java as part of a $7.3 billion acquisition of the software's creator, Sun Microsystems, in 2010.
Oracle, which is based in Redwood Shores, Calif., had no immediate comment late Friday.
Thu, 10 Jan 2013 14:25
The credibility of one of Europe's benchmark interest rates is fraying, as an increasing number of banks abandons the panel that sets it.
In the past four business days, three European banks have said they will stop providing data to help set the euro interbank offered rate, or Euribor, which serves as the basis for interest rates of trillions of euros worth of loans and other financial contracts. The latest on Wednesday was Austria's Raiffeisen Bank International AG (RBI.VI, RAIFY). Another Austrian lender, Erste Group Bank AG (EBS.VI, EBKDY), said it is reviewing its options.
Like its more-prominent cousin Libor--the London interbank offered rate--Euribor already is reeling from exposures about the attempts of contributing banks to rig them. Barclays PLC (BARC.LN, BCS) and UBS AG (UBSN.VX, UBS) admitted last year that employees tried to manipulate the rate. The European Union is nearing completion of an investigation into potential collusive activity by banks in the setting of Euribor.
"I am very concerned with the situation, absolutely, this is a serious situation," said Cedric Quemener, director of Euribor-EBF, after Raiffeisen Bank became latest bank to give up its Euribor-setting role.
"Euribor needs to be reformed and quickly--banks leaving set a bad example for other contributing banks," Mr. Quemener said in an interview. "If we have more banks leaving, we may have no more Euribor."
Euribor was set up by the European Banking Federation in 1999 to establish a new interbank reference rate within what is now a 17-country currency union. In addition to serving as a benchmark for trillions of euros in savings and loans, it is also an input into the European Central Bank's monetary-policy decisions. Many mortgages across Europe track this, rather than the ECB benchmark rate.
But as the European Union investigates whether banks have colluded to set the rate at levels to suit them, banks are peeling away. Each denies that this is the reason for their departure, pointing instead to shifting internal priorities and what they describe as a shrinking in the bank-to-bank lending market.
Erste Group Bank said Tuesday it is also reviewing its options for its membership, pending audits by Austrian regulators. Last Friday, Bayerische Landesbank and Rabobank both pulled out. The latest departures leave 39 banks on the panel, from a peak of 44 in 2012. Citigroup Inc. (C) and Germany's DekaBank Group withdrew from the Euribor panel in 2012.
Mr. Quemener said banks "normally" have to give around 10 days' notice before they stop quoting rates. "As of this moment there are no other banks looking to leave the Euribor panel," he said.
The departures chip away at one of Euribor's supposed strengths: the number of banks in its contributing panel, which helps to guard against the possibility of rate manipulation. Libor, by contrast, is based on submissions from a smaller group of 18 banks.
"It's the trend and the speed of these departures [from Euribor] that's the concern," noted Peter Osler, head of interest-rate strategy at brokerage Marex Spectron, adding that if banks continue to leave, Euribor "will be seen as less representative."
Forcing banks to post Euribor rates would be a first; right now, banks voluntarily submit levels at which they believe a theoretical "prime bank" could borrow in various currencies and at various maturities. That is different to the Libor methodology, as banks on that panel post rates at which they think they can borrow, rather than rates for a theoretical bank.
Regardless of whether banks help to shape the Euribor rate, all are heavily exposed to it. Raiffeisen's parent bank, Raiffeisen Zentralbank Oesterreich, for example, is one of the biggest mortgage lenders in Austria, where home loan rates are often tied to Euribor.
"Lending remains naturally a core business for us," a spokeswoman for Raiffeisen said Tuesday. "Only interbank business is declining," she added.
Erste Group Bank, meanwhile, said it is considering its position on the panel. It plans to make a decision after an audit by local Austrian regulators as a consequence of the rate-setting scandal is complete and to also weigh expectations of European regulators and the EU Commission in its decision.
A collapse of confidence across the euro zone, both in the creditworthiness of banks and of the states that are home to them, has decimated activity in the interbank market, where banks borrow and lend large volumes of short-term funds to each other on margins as thin as one or two hundredths of a percentage point. The ECB's latest survey of the euro-zone's money market said aggregate turnover in the unsecured lending market, which Euribor tracks, was down 36% on the year in the second quarter of 2012. Much of what remains is concentrated in very short-term contracts of up to one month.
--Nicole Lundeen and Tommy Stubbington contributed to this article.
Write to Nick Cawley at firstname.lastname@example.org
Copyright (C) 2013 Dow Jones Newswires
Fri, 11 Jan 2013 10:50
Bad, bad, bad, bad, bad idea!
The UK could start arming Syrian rebels, Foreign Secretary William Hague has warned MPs.
Speaking during a statement on the latest situation in Syria on 10 January 2013, Mr Hague said he would ask the European Union to lift its arms embargo to the country.
This would pave the way for the government to start arming the Syrian rebels fighting President Bashar al-Assad's regime, although Mr Hague said the UK would focus its efforts only on moderate political forces.
He told MPs: ''Clearly the best outcome for the Syrian people would be a diplomatic breakthrough, bringing an end to the bloodshed and establishing a new Syrian government able to restore stability.
Thu, 10 Jan 2013 22:55
One Hundred Twelfth Congress
Begun and held at the City of Washington on Tuesday,
the third day of January, two thousand and twelve
To authorize the Attorney General to award grants for States to implement DNA arrestee collection processes.
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,
SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.
This Act may be cited as the 'Katie Sepich Enhanced DNA Collection Act of 2012'.
For purposes of this Act:
(1) DNA ARRESTEE COLLECTION PROCESS- The term 'DNA arrestee collection process' means, with respect to a State, a process under which the State provides for the collection, for purposes of inclusion in the index described in section 210304(a) of the DNA Identification Act of 1994 (42 U.S.C. 14132(a)) (in this Act referred to as the 'National DNA Index System'), of DNA profiles or DNA data from the following individuals who are at least 18 years of age:
(A) Individuals who are arrested for or charged with a criminal offense under State law that consists of a homicide.
(B) Individuals who are arrested for or charged with a criminal offense under State law that has an element involving a sexual act or sexual contact with another and that is punishable by imprisonment for more than 1 year.
(C) Individuals who are arrested for or charged with a criminal offense under State law that has an element of kidnaping or abduction and that is punishable by imprisonment for more than 1 year.
(D) Individuals who are arrested for or charged with a criminal offense under State law that consists of burglary punishable by imprisonment for more than 1 year.
(E) Individuals who are arrested for or charged with a criminal offense under State law that consists of aggravated assault punishable by imprisonment for more than 1 year.
(2) STATE- The term 'State' means any State of the United States, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, American Samoa, Guam, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.
SEC. 3. GRANTS TO STATES TO IMPLEMENT DNA ARRESTEE COLLECTION PROCESSES.
(a) In General- The Attorney General shall, subject to amounts made available pursuant to section 5, carry out a grant program for the purpose of assisting States with the costs associated with the implementation of DNA arrestee collection processes.
(1) IN GENERAL- To be eligible to receive a grant under this section, in addition to any other requirements specified by the Attorney General, a State shall submit to the Attorney General an application that demonstrates that it has statutory authorization for the implementation of a DNA arrestee collection process.
(2) NON-SUPPLANTING FUNDS- An application submitted under paragraph (1) by a State shall include assurances that the amounts received under the grant under this section shall be used to supplement, not supplant, State funds that would otherwise be available for the purpose described in subsection (a).
(3) OTHER REQUIREMENTS- The Attorney General shall require a State seeking a grant under this section to document how such State will use the grant to meet expenses associated with a State's implementation or planned implementation of a DNA arrestee collection process.
(c) Grant Allocation-
(1) IN GENERAL- The amount available to a State under this section shall be based on the projected costs that will be incurred by the State to implement a DNA arrestee collection process. Subject to paragraph (2), the Attorney General shall retain discretion to determine the amount of each such grant awarded to an eligible State.
(2) MAXIMUM GRANT ALLOCATION- In the case of a State seeking a grant under this section with respect to the implementation of a DNA arrestee collection process, such State shall be eligible for a grant under this section that is equal to no more than 100 percent of the first year costs to the State of implementing such process.
(d) Grant Conditions- As a condition of receiving a grant under this section, a State shall have a procedure in place to--
(1) provide written notification of expungement provisions and instructions for requesting expungement to all persons who submit a DNA profile or DNA data for inclusion in the index;
(2) provide the eligibility criteria for expungement and instructions for requesting expungement on an appropriate public Web site; and
(3) make a determination on all expungement requests not later than 90 days after receipt and provide a written response of the determination to the requesting party.
SEC. 4. EXPUNGEMENT OF PROFILES.
The expungement requirements under section 210304(d) of the DNA Identification Act of 1994 (42 U.S.C. 14132(d)) shall apply to any DNA profile or DNA data collected pursuant to this Act for purposes of inclusion in the National DNA Index System.
SEC. 5. OFFSET OF FUNDS APPROPRIATED.
Any funds appropriated to carry out this Act, not to exceed $10,000,000 for each of fiscal years 2013 through 2015, shall be derived from amounts appropriated pursuant to subsection (j) of section 2 of the DNA Analysis Backlog Elimination Act of 2000 (42 U.S.C. 14135) in each such fiscal year for grants under such section.
SEC. 6. CONFORMING AMENDMENT TO THE DEBBIE SMITH DNA BACKLOG GRANT PROGRAM.
Section 2(a) of the DNA Analysis Backlog Elimination Act of 2000 (42 U.S.C. 14135(a)) is amended by adding at the end the following new paragraph:
'(6) To implement a DNA arrestee collection process consistent with the Katie Sepich Enhanced DNA Collection Act of 2012.'.
Speaker of the House of Representatives.
Vice President of the United States and
President of the Senate.
Sun, 13 Jan 2013 13:26
Star of the taxpayer-funded video game HERadventure. (From Inside Spelman)A new video game featuring a black alien female superhero delivered to Earth to fight global warming is about to hit the market thanks to a $100,000 grant from the Obama administration.
The National Endowment for the Arts is funding the Spelman College of Atlanta, Ga.'s multi-episode game called "HERadventure." In the grant announcement made last year, the NEA said the story "focuses on a young female superhero sent to Earth to save her own planet from devastation because of climate changes caused by social issues impacting women and girls."
The game is set to debut on March 8 on International Women's Day.
The college's digital newspaper described the project this way: "What would happen if the societal issues affecting women put other planets at risk? Well, of course, HER, a black female superhero, would swoop in with a plan to save the universe. HER is central to HERadventure, a science fiction-based, multimedia platform project that interweaves virtual worlds, digital and social media to create a gaming and storytelling experience. HERadventure not only entertains but tackles social issues that permeate the daily reality of many women."
While the grant was hit by a lawmaker when it was made, it just came to our attention when the watchdog site Speak With Authority called it wasteful.
"The description defies parody. $100,000 of taxpayer money is going to help develop a video game about a female alien sent to earth to rescue her own planet," said the site, which added: "Mark your calendars for March 8th. We paid $100,000 for it. We might as well see if we got our money's worth."
Sat, 12 Jan 2013 22:57
Swearing to uphold the Constitution on bibles, including one used for Lincoln's swearing-in. The sacrilege and narcissism is almost too much.
(CNN) -What do the 16th president, a civil rights leader, and Michelle Obama's grandmother have in common? Their Bibles will be used in the second inauguration of President Barack Obama.
The Presidential Inaugural Committee made the announcement on Thursday that Obama will take the oath of office on the Robinson family Bible on Sunday and on the Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King Jr. Bibles on Monday.
The 20th Amendment designated Jan. 20 as Inauguration Day. But traditionally, when inauguration falls on a Sunday, the president takes the oath privately on Jan. 20 and in a public ceremony on Jan. 21.
''President Obama is honored to use these Bibles at the swearing-in ceremonies,'' said Steve Kerrigan, President and CEO of the Presidential Inaugural Committee. ''On the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington and 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, this historic moment is a reflection of the extraordinary progress we've made as a nation.''
Sun, 13 Jan 2013 13:20
Northern Ireland First Minister Peter Robinson says the political process is "the only way forward"
The Northern Ireland First Minister Peter Robinson has said the political process is the only way forward following another night of violence in Belfast.
Twenty-nine police officers were injured in rioting after a loyalist protest over the union flag.
Officers fired six baton rounds and used water cannon during the 40th day of street protests.
Mr Robinson said politicians had not given up on a "shared society".
"We took some difficult decisions, some might say historic decisions to build a shared society in Northern Ireland," he told the BBC's Andrew Marr Show on Sunday.
"I think it is important to tell the wider community in Northern Ireland and our friends in the rest of the United Kingdom that we are not giving up on that.
"We are very much of the view that we are determined that we build the kind of society where everybody can have a peaceful and stable existence."
Mr Robinson and the Northern Ireland Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness are due to meet with the British and Irish governments this week.
He said they would make it "very clear" to the governments the condemnation that existed in the wider Northern Ireland community for the violence.
At least 1000 people gathered outside Belfast City Hall at lunchtime on Sunday to protest against the violence.
The latest violence began around 14:30 GMT on Saturday, when loyalists and nationalists clashed at a sectarian interface in the east of the city.
Demonstrators were passing the nationalist Short Strand area - after a 1,000-strong protest outside Belfast City Hall against the council's decision to restrict the flying of the Union flag - when the violence began.
The police said the "vast majority" of demonstrators broke away from an agreed return route on their way back from the protest.
Bricks, stones and missiles were thrown at police and four officers were taken to hospital with injuries - two were later discharged.
A car was later set on fire at the junction of Castlereagh Street and Templemore Avenue.
The violence subsided in the early evening but after 21:00 GMT it erupted as loyalists attacked police again at Castlereagh Street. Police used water cannon on rioters to push them away from the interface with the Short Strand.
The BBC's Chris Page: "This dispute is proving very difficult to resolve"
PSNI Chief Constable Matt Baggott said officers had used "exceptional courage" to bring the situation under control.
Mr Baggott said: "This was a difficult operation dealing with a large number of people determined to cause disorder and violence.
"My colleagues brought the situation under control with exceptional courage and professionalism. I know the vast majority of people will be grateful for their efforts.
"Police will continue to engage with all those committed to finding a solution to these issues."
Speaking to the BBC on Sunday, Alliance Party leader Naomi Long said her party had no regrets over the decision to vote as they did over the flags issue in Belfast City Council.
She said NI had to move from being a divided society to a shared one.
"The damage we are doing to Northern Ireland's international reputation is immense," she said.
"The damage which is being done to individual people's lives and livelihoods is long term. We need to move forward. Unionists talking among themselves is not where a shared solution lies."
Loyalist street demonstrations have been taking place for almost six weeks, since Belfast City Council voted to change its longstanding union flag policy on 3 December.
The council, which now has a nationalist majority, voted to fly the flag at Belfast City Hall on a number of designated days, rather than every day of the year.
The majority of the street demonstrations have passed without incident, but some have resulted in serious rioting.
Sun, 13 Jan 2013 13:14
French troops board a transport plane in N'Djamena, Chad, bound for Mali. Photograph: Handout/REUTERS
Troops from Mali's neighbours are expected to join hundreds of French soldiers in the battle to push back Islamist extremists holding Mali's north, a fight that in its first two days has left at least 11 civilians dead, including three children who threw themselves into a river and drowned trying to avoid the bombs.
Niger, Burkina Faso, Senegal and Nigeria agreed on Saturday to send soldiers, a day after France authorised air strikes, dispatching fighter jets from neighbouring Chad and bombing rebel positions north of Mopti, the last Malian government-controlled town in the north.
State television announced that the African troops, including up to 500 each from Burkina Faso and Niger, are expected to start arriving on Sunday. Britain has offered the use of its transport planes to help bring in the soldiers.
The African soldiers will work alongside French special forces, including a contingent that arrived on Saturday in Bamako to secure the capital against retaliatory attacks by the al-Qaida-linked rebel groups occupying Mali's north. National television broadcast footage of the French troops walking single-file out of the Bamako airport on Saturday, weapons strapped to their bodies. Some carried them like skis, against their shoulder.
The French defence minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian, said on Sunday that France now has more than 400 troops in Bamako, mainly to ensure the safety of French citizens and also to send a signal to the extremists.
"We will strengthen our operation depending on the situation," he said on a political talk show with itele and Europe 1 radio. Le Drian said that Rafale fighter jets will be part of the operation and that technical support will be arriving soon.
He said that France has international support and "the Americans seconded us" with intelligence and logistical support, though he did not elaborate.
Storage hangars and "sensitive sites" were among targets destroyed so far and the Islamists lost a "significant number" in the fighting, Le Drian said. "The intervention is still in progress and we will continue" as long as needed.
The military operation began on Friday, after the fall of Konna on Thursday to the rebel groups. Konna is only 30 miles north of the government's line of control, which begins at Mopti, home to the largest concentration of Malian troops in the country.
The UNhad cautioned that a military intervention needed to be properly planned, and outlined a step-by-step process that diplomats said would delay the operation until at least September of this year.
However, the rebels' decision to push south, and the swift fall of Konna, changed everything. After an appeal for help from Mali's president, the French president, Fran¤ois Hollande, sent in Mirage jets and combat helicopters, pounding rebel convoys and destroying a militant base. Footage of the jets showed the triangle-shaped aircrafts screaming across the sky over northern Mali. Le Monde reported that the jets dropped at least two, 250kg (550lb) bombs on militant targets.
The human toll has not yet been calculated, but a communique read on state television late Saturday said that at least 11 Malians were killed in Konna.
Sory Diakite, the mayor of Konna, says the dead included children who drowned after they threw themselves into a river in an effort to escape the bombs.
"Others were killed inside their courtyards, or outside their homes. People were trying to flee to find refuge. Some drowned in the river. At least three children threw themselves in the river. They were trying to swim to the other side. And there has been significant infrastructure damage," said the mayor, who fled the town with his family and is now in Bamako.
Human rights groups have warned that any military intervention will exact a humanitarian price. Mali, and the international community, found itself in a Catch-22 because every passing week that any intervention was delayed allowed the rebels to dig in and prepare for war. The rebels occupied Mali's northern half, an area larger than Afghanistan, amid the chaos after a coup in Mali's capital last March.
With no clear leader at the head of the country, Mali's military simply gave up when the rebels arrived, retreating hundreds of miles to the south without a fight. In the nine months since then, the extremists have imposed an austere and severe form of Islam '' those who disobey their rules are beaten with whips and camel switches. Public amputations of the hands of thieves have become a regular spectacle.
They have also used their nine-month siege of the north to dig in, creating elaborate defences, including tunnels and ramparts using construction equipment abandoned by fleeing construction crews.
As well as civilians, a French pilot was killed after Islamists downed his combat helicopter, a sign perhaps of how dangerous the terrain has become even for trained, special forces.
Sun, 13 Jan 2013 13:07
Hundreds of small farmers and advocates for organic seed growers gathered outside the White House Thursday, calling on President Obama and other lawmakers to come to their aid as they continue their fight against Monsanto, one of the world's largest, most powerful'--and to them sinister'--industrial agriculture corporations.
(Image: Ecowatch.org)The farmers and citizens assembled demanded the end of Monsanto's "campaign of intimidation against America's family farmers" and their relentless push for GMO (or genetically engineered-GE) crops. The rally followed a court hearing earlier in the day in the ongoing and landmark Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association et al. v. Monsanto case, in which OSGATA and other plaintiffs sued the biotech firm for its continual and aggressive harassment of organic farmers and independent seed growers.
"Family farmers need and deserve the right to farm. We have a right to grow good food and good seed for our families and our communities without the threat of trespass and intimidation," Jim Gerritsen, an organic potato farmer from Maine and President of OSGATA, the lead plaintiff in the lawsuit, told the enthusiastic crowd.
Since 1997,Monsanto has sued, or brought to court, more than 844 family farms over "patent infringement" after their GMO seeds spread to nearby farms. The legal battles are more than most small farmers can battle, and Monsanto's size and financial muscle make it nearly impossible for individual farmers to fight back. Many are forced to settle and submit to Monsanto sanctions.
"We need Court protection so that our families will be able to carry on our farming tradition and help keep America strong," said Gerritsen.
Those that gathered called for President Obama to fulfill his promise to support the labeling of all GMO products, and also halt pending approval of GE salmon until independent long-term safety tests can be conducted.
"America's farmers deserve to be protected from unwanted contamination of their crops and the continued harassment by biotech seed giant Monsanto," said Dave Murphy, founder and executive director of Food Democracy Now!, a grassroots farmer advocacy group and plaintiff in the case.
Additionally, he said, "our current regulatory structure here in the U.S. has failed America's farmers and consumers. The Obama administration needs to do the right thing to protect our farmers and make sure that new GE crops go through rigorous safety tests," said Murphy. "It's time that President Obama live up to his campaign promise to Iowa farmers in 2007 and label genetically engineered foods. It's the least that he could do."
And the St. Louis Post-Dispatchreports:
The protest suggested an uptick in efforts to demand labeling, which was defeated in a California ballot initiative in November. Creve Coeur-based Monsanto spent at least $8 million in an industry-wide effort to sink the California proposition.
Vermont state Sen. David Zuckerman said at the rally that he is leading an effort in his state seeking legislation requiring labeling of genetically modified food.
Organic farmers, who are pressing a lawsuit against Monsanto, often complain that their products are threatened by wind-blown pollen from genetically altered crops.
"We want and demand the right of clean seed not contaminated by a massive biotech company that's in it for the profit," Carol Koury, who operates Sow True Seeds in Asheville, N.C., said at the rally.
Complete background on the OSGATA et al v. Monsanto lawsuit is available here.
Sun, 13 Jan 2013 14:28
Published: 12 Jan 13 10:42 CET | Print version| Double click on a word to get a translationOnline: http://www.thelocal.se/45574/20130112/
Products by Nestl(C), Semper, Hipp and EnaGo contain lead, arsenic and cadmium, according to Swedish research company Testfakta, which has tested 14 kinds of porridges.
Two years ago Swedish researchers warned of high levels of heavy metals in porridge products for children.According to Testfakta they still contain traces of poisonous substances.
In the case of one product, just three portions a day would be enough to reach lead levels that could affect a child's brain development, according to Testfakta, which cited studies that suggest a link between lower IQ rates and high consumption of lead.
But the National Food Agency (Livsmedelsverket) told concerned parents that the levels of lead, arsenic and cadmium found in the 14 tested products were not high enough to involve any acute risks.
They would only be harmful to a person's health if consumed beyond childhood and for the rest of one's life, according to the National Food Agency.
"Some of the products contain unsuitably high levels [of heavy metals]," said Lars Barreg´rd, professor of environmental health and chief physician at the Sahlgrenska University Hospital in Gothenburg.
Barreg´rd said he was particularly concerned about lead levels in EnaGo's dairy-free vÛlling cereal drink and dairy-free apple porridge.
A child weighing eight kilos would need to eat just three portions of EnaGo porridge per day to reach the maximum level recommended by the European Food Safety Authority.
EnaGo CEO Kristina Kallur was surprised to learn that the company's products contain more heavy metals than the other ones tested by Testfakta.
"We perform regular checks to ensure that we follow all the guidelines, but now we have to continue searching for alternative raw materials. It is an immense challenge to find ingredients that are both free from heavy metals and work from an allergy point of view."
Emma Halldin Ankarberg, a toxicologist at the National Food Agency, was not surprised by the new findings since previous studies have generated similar results.
"But I don't think it's OK. We should not have these kinds of substances in children's foods. The levels must go down," said Halldin Ankarberg.
The National Food Agency is conducting its own research into heavy metals in foods. It pointed out that it is impossible to completely remove harmful substances from food products since they occur naturally in water and earth absorbed by plants.
Parents are recommended to give their children a varied diet, using different brands and products.
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Sun, 13 Jan 2013 14:23
New crime prediction software being rolled out in the nation's capital should reduce not only the murder rate, but the rate of many other crimes as well.
Developed by Richard Berk, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania, the software is already used in Baltimore and Philadelphia to predict which individuals on probation or parole are most likely to murder and to be murdered.
In his latest version, the one being implemented in D.C., Berk goes even further, identifying the individuals most likely to commit crimes other than murder.
If the software proves successful, it could influence sentencing recommendations and bail amounts.
"When a person goes on probation or parole they are supervised by an officer. The question that officer has to answer is 'what level of supervision do you provide?'" said Berk.
It used to be that parole officers used the person's criminal record, and their good judgment, to determine that level.
"This research replaces those seat-of-the-pants calculations," he said.
Technology Helps Determine Level of Supervision Needed for People on Probation or ParoleMurders, despite their frequent appearance on cop dramas and the evening news, are rare crimes. On average there is one murder for every 100,000 people. Even among high-risk groups the murder rate is one in 100. Trying to predict such a rare event is very difficult, so difficult that many researchers deemed it impossible.
"It's like trying to find the needle in the haystack," said Berk.
New advances in computer technology, however, can sift through that haystack more quickly and more accurately than ever.
Beginning several years ago, the researchers assembled a dataset of more than 60,000 various crimes, including homicides. Using an algorithm they developed, they found a subset of people much more likely to commit homicide when paroled or probated. Instead of finding one murderer in 100, the UPenn researchers could identify eight future murderers out of 100.
Berk's software examines roughly two dozen variables, from criminal record to geographic location. The type of crime, and more importantly, the age at which that crime was committed, were two of the most predictive variables.
Technology Doesn't Predict Future Crimes"People assume that if someone murdered then they will murder in the future," said Berk. "But what really matters is what that person did as a young individual. If they committed armed robbery at age 14 that's a good predictor. If they committed the same crime at age 30, that doesn't predict very much."
Baltimore and Philadelphia are already using Berk's software to help determine how much supervision parolees should have. Washington, D.C. is now set to use the algorithm to help determine lesser crimes as well. If those tests go well, Berk says the program could help set bail amounts and suggest sentencing recommendations.
Predicting future crimes does sound, well, futuristic, said Berk. Even his students at the University of Pennsylvania compare his research to the Tom Cruise movie "Minority Report."
Nevertheless, he said, "We aren't anywhere near being able to do that."
Scientifically, Berk's results are "very impressive," said Shawn Bushway, a professor of criminal justice at the State University of New York at Albany who is familiar with Berk's research.
Predicting rare events like murder, even among high-risk individuals, is extremely difficult, said Bushway, and Berk is doing a better job of it than anyone else.
But Berk's scientific answer leaves policymakers with difficult questions, said Bushway. By labeling one group of people as high risk, and monitoring them with increased vigilance, there should be fewer murders, which the potential victims should be happy about.
It also means that those high-risk individuals will be monitored more aggressively. For inmate rights advocates, that is tantamount to harassment, "punishing people who, most likely, will not commit a crime in the future," said Bushway.
"It comes down to a question of whether you would rather make these errors or those errors," said Bushway.
Sun, 13 Jan 2013 12:23
(C) TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/GETTY IMAGESMary Ann Werner from New York is given a flu shot by Medical Assistant Klarisa Feliciano at the medical offices of Yaffe Ruden & Associates in New York on Jan. 10, 2013.
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has declared a state public health emergency in response to the severe flu season and has issued an executive order allowing pharmacists to give flu vaccines to those between six month and 18 years of age, in addition to those who are older.The order suspends for the next 30 days the section of State Education Law that limits pharmacists to administering immunizations only to those ages 18 and older.
So far this season, 19,128 cases of influenza have been reported in New York, more than four times the total of 4,404 positive laboratory tests that were reported all of last the 2111-2012 season. As of Jan. 5, the New York state Department of Health received reports of 2,884 patients hospitalized with laboratory-confirmed influenza, compared to 1,169 total hospitalizations in 2011. To date, two children in New York State and eighteen children across the United States and have died as a result of this year's seasonal influenza.
"We are experiencing the worst flu season since at least 2009, and influenza activity in New York State is widespread, with cases reported in all 57 counties and all five boroughs of New York City," Cuomo said. "Therefore, I have directed my Administration, the State Health Department and others to marshal all needed resources to address this public health emergency and remove all barriers to ensure that all New Yorkers - children and adults alike - have access to critically needed flu vaccines."
New Yorkers can find a local vaccine provider by visiting http://flushot.healthmap.org/ and entering their zip code. New Yorkers without internet access can call 1-800-522-5006 or through TTY access at 1-800-655-1789 to find a nearby provider.
For additional information about influenza, including statewide surveillance, visit the State Health Department website.
Sun, 13 Jan 2013 12:29
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Sun, 13 Jan 2013 14:57
Gambling addiction was caused by Parkinson's medication: courtSaturday 12 January 2013
A man from Rotterdam who became a gambling addict after taking drugs to control Parkinson's disease may be entitled to compensation, a Dutch court has ruled.
The addiction to gambling led to the 69-year-old man from Rotterdam losing his wife and job and was caused by the medication, judges in Utrecht said.
The man, who took part in trials of the drug Permax at the end of the 1990s, blames the medicine for his behaviour and is attempting to claim 'Â452,000 in damages from its maker Eli Lilly.
The court said there are no indications the man had a tendency towards gambling or any other compulsive disorder prior to taking Permax. In order to reduce the desire to gamble, he reduced his intake of the drug 'demonstrating a causal effect', the court said in its ruling.
Gambling was included on the list of possible side effects of the drug in the Netherlands in 2006, following the intervention of the Dutch medicine regulation body.
This was a year after the manufacturer first told doctors pathological gambling and libido increase had been reported by a few users and several years before official warnings were issued in other countries.
If it can be proven that Eli Lilly knew of this side effect earlier, the man will be entitled to compensation, the court said. Gambling addiction has ruined the man's life and therefore 'not mentioning these serious side effects was an injustice to him,' the ruling said.
Eli Lilly is appealing against the decision. It says there is no proof of a causal link between Permax and gambling addiction. In addition, the company says, there was no scientific evidence that gambling could be a side effect prior to 2005.
There have been class action suits against Eli Lilly because Permax's side effects in the US, Canada and Australia. Permax has since been withdrawn from sale, apparently for other problems.
The case was heard in December but has only now become public.
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Sun, 13 Jan 2013 02:32
Documents on Merck's website show they paid WebMD millions to show pro-vaccine information.
Have you ever wondered how some websites come to promote vaccines? Well, here's the answer: Pharmaceutical companies pay enormous amounts of money for websites to promote vaccines.
The influence is subtle for the unsuspecting parent '' especially on popular websites such as WebMD.
According to documents located on Merck's website, at least $3,592,850 dollars was paid to Medscape LLC, a subsidiary of WebMD Health, from 2008 through 2012. If you factor in other cancer programs promoted on WebMD by Merck, the total figure comes to $3,982,850. The amount is likely higher as one of the documents on the website is unavailable. 
Last year I wrote about doctors getting paid over $18,810,495.52 by Merck to promote their vaccines. You might notice a common theme: pharmaceutical companies pay huge sums of money to buy influence. WebMD is no exception. 
Until recently, the actual amounts have been anyone's guess '' and I think you will agree that 3.5 million dollars is a significant amount.
WHAT DID MERCK'S MONEY BUY?If we take a look at the WebMD website, you will notice a web page called Lifetime of Vaccines. It is sponsored by Merck. 
Waiting for you is a video message by Julie Gerberding, former head of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). She promotes the reasons why we should get vaccinated. Before you listen to her message, you should know she lobbied to get the dangerous Gardasil vaccine (also a Merck product) onto the vaccine schedule. She is also the current president of the Vaccine Division at Merck Pharmaceuticals.
Other sections of the website downplay any adverse reactions to vaccines or what is in the vaccines. For example, Merck softens the list of toxic ingredients in vaccines, listing only aluminum, mercury/thimerosal, antibiotics and formaldehyde, attributing to each a single sentence description. 
Not only do they downplay the toxicity of the ingredients, they also forget to mention the many other vaccine ingredients. What do I mean?
For starters, a very small sample of vaccine ingredients includes:
Aluminum Hydroxide (Heavy Metal)Egg ProteinFormaldehydeBovine Calf SerumThimerosal (Heavy Metal)Calf SkinAborted Fetal Tissue (Human Diploid Tissue)Monkey Kidney TissueMouse BrainBeing an informed parent includes knowing exactly what substances the doctor injects into your child! Click on the link now to get the larger list of vaccine ingredients. 
I should point out the amount of money WebMD was paid is just a small piece of the total pie that Merck and other pharmaceutical companies have funded to websites to promote vaccines. The Physician Payment Sunshine Act (PPSA) and other legislation now requires pharmaceutical companies to make this information available to the public by 2013.
CONCLUSIONThe pharmaceutical company pockets run deep. When analyzed, you can see how much influence their money can buy.
Parents want strong children and honest answers. Do you really think Merck invested all of this money to educate you about vaccines or to sell their product? I will leave you to be the judge of that important question.
Lastly, as new documents become available, my hope is that parents will start to see how Big Pharma runs their operations: spending their cash to buy influence. Maybe vaccine safety does have a price tag.
Amounts Paid to MedScape, LLC (1)Company
Program / Project Description
Medscape, LLCMedscape/ Nemours Children Hospital: Rotavirus Lecture154,0009/17/2008Medscape, LLCMedscape Spotlight, Case and Clinical Recap: Vaccines300,0003/16/2009Medscape, LLCOncology: Web Program60,0003/10/2009Medscape, LLCWeb Program and Publication: Rotavirus135,0007/1/2009Medscape, LLCRoundtable Web Program35,0007/1/2009Medscape, LLCWeb Program: Pediatric Immunization219,4508/18/2010Medscape, LLCWeb Program: Pediatric Immunization202,0008/18/2010Medscape, LLCWeb Program: Rotavirus187,0009/28/2010Medscape, LLCAdult Immunization Web Program235,000.005/2/2011Medscape, LLCRotavirus Web Program220,000.005/2/2011Medscape, LLCAdult Immunization Web Program180,000.005/2/2011Medscape, LLCOncology Web Program80,000.005/2/2011Medscape, LLCOncology Web Program150,000.005/2/2011Medscape, LLCRotavirus Web Program203,000.005/18/2011Medscape, LLCRotavirus Web Program147,000.006/14/2011Medscape, LLC2011 ASH Multiple Myeloma Web Programs100,000.007/13/2011Medscape, LLC2011 AAP HPV Symposium368,900.0010/28/2011Medscape, LLCRotavirus Web Programs174,000.003/5/2012Medscape, LLCAdult Immunization Web Program201,000.004/30/2012Medscape, LLCAdult Immunization Web Program201,000.004/30/2012Medscape, LLCImmunization Web Program254,500.004/30/2012Medscape, LLCRotavirus Web Programs176,000.005/30/2012TOTAL$3,982,850.00
Jeffry John Aufderheide is the father of a child injured as a result of vaccination. As editor of VacTruth.com, he promotes well-educated health professionals, informed consent, and full disclosure and accountability of adverse reactions to vaccines.
Sun, 13 Jan 2013 14:30
Earlier this week, teen pop star Justin Bieber became the the latest star captured in compromising images, purportedly smoking pot.
But the Stratford, Ont., singer isn't alone in the spotlight: today, an increasing number of young celebrities '-- especially fellow performers like Rihanna and Lady Gaga to Lana del Ray '-- are openly flaunting their association with marijuana.
While pot possession was once a potential career-breaker, there's been a pro-cannabis cultural shift in recent years.
Zulekha Nathoo explores the public reaction to this phenomenon.
Sun, 13 Jan 2013 14:20
Sun, 13 Jan 2013 02:53
Savile used his celebrity to "hide in plain sight" and targeted the vulnerable, police sayHe is accused of offenses across 40 years while working as a BBC presenterPolice say 73% of his victims were children; 214 crimes are recorded, including rapesProsecutors say police could have done more to investigate Savile in his lifetimeLondon (CNN) -- Britain's late TV presenter and radio host Jimmy Savile sexually abused hundreds of people and carried out more than 30 rapes, police said Friday, as they unveiled a report exposing "vast, predatory and opportunistic" abuses across six decades.
Nearly three-quarters of his victims were children, the report said, with the youngest only 8 years old. Most but not all were female.
Read more: Victim tells of abuse at hands of Savile
Since the inquiry was launched three months ago, about 600 people have come forward to provide information, 450 relating to Savile, London's Metropolitan Police said.
From this, 214 crimes have been recorded, including 34 of rape or penetration, across the country.
The life of Jimmy Savile
The life of Jimmy Savile
The life of Jimmy Savile
The life of Jimmy Savile
The life of Jimmy Savile
The life of Jimmy Savile
The life of Jimmy Savile
The life of Jimmy Savile
The life of Jimmy Savile
The life of Jimmy Savile
The life of Jimmy Savile
The life of Jimmy Savile
The life of Jimmy Savile
The life of Jimmy Savile
The life of Jimmy Savile
The earliest claim against Savile, who was still a household name when he died in 2011, dates from 1955 and the latest from 2009, when he was in his 80s.
Savile used his celebrity to "hide in plain sight" as he opportunistically preyed on the children and young people with whom he came into contact as he presented BBC children's show "Jim'll Fix It" and music show "Top of the Pops," the report said.
Dozens of offenses on BBC premises have been reported across a 40-year span between 1965 and 2006 -- the last at the final recording of "Top of the Pops."
Who was Jimmy Savile?
Fifty allegations against Savile relate to hospital premises, including hospices, the report said. Another 14 relate to schools, including a reform school he visited regularly between 1970 and 1978.
The scale of his abuse is believed to be unprecedented in the UK, it said.
The report by London's Metropolitan Police and a child protection charity, the NSPCC, titled "Giving Victims a Voice," brings to a close a sordid chapter.
Police set up Operation Yewtree to investigate sexual abuse claims after a documentary by broadcaster ITV in October unleashed a flood of allegations against the star, who before that was seen as an eccentric but charismatic man who raised millions of pounds for charity.
Read more: How celebrity child sex scandal has rocked the BBC
The investigation had three strands: one involving complaints against Savile alone, another termed "Savile and others" and a third involving only others. The publication of the report ends the first strand of the inquiry.
However, investigations continue into allegations made against the other suspects, some linked to Savile and others not. A number of arrests have been made.
"It paints a stark picture emphasizing the tragic consequences of when vulnerability and power collide," Commander Peter Spindler, of the Metropolitan Police, said of the report.
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"Savile's offending footprint was vast, predatory and opportunistic. He cannot face justice today but we hope this report gives some comfort to his hundreds of victims, they have been listened to and taken seriously. We must use the learning from these shocking events to prevent other children and vulnerable adults being abused in the future. They will get a voice."
The BBC, whose reputation has been tainted by the affair, said it would continue to work with police to investigate the claims.
"The police report into Jimmy Savile contains shocking revelations," a statement said. "As we have made clear, the BBC is appalled that some of the offences were committed on its premises. We would like to restate our sincere apology to the victims of these crimes."
The BBC set up three inquiries of its own amid questions about how Savile's abuses went undetected for so long. One is looking at the culture and practices within the BBC and another at its handling of past sexual harassment claims.
The third, which reported on the broadcaster's decision to drop a program investigating allegations Savile in late 2011, slammed senior management as "completely incapable" of dealing with the crisis that erupted.
The BBC's botched handling of the affair forced the director general, George Entwistle, to resign.
The UK Department of Health, which is conducting its own investigation into the access Savile had to hospitals and other institutions, said the police report "highlights the shocking scale of offending by Jimmy Savile over five decades and shows the need to learn lessons from his crimes."
With the police review concluded, civil claims are likely to be brought as some victims seek compensation for the abuse they suffered at Savile's hands. About 73% of them were younger than 18 when they were targeted.
Four-fifths of the victims were girls and women, the report said. The majority of the victims were between the ages of 13 and 16 at the time of the abuse, and the oldest was 47.
Of the 34 reported offenses of rape or penetration, 26 victims were female and eight were male, police said.
"There is no clear evidence of Savile operating within a paedophile ring although whether he was part of an informal network is part of the continuing investigation," the report added.
Most of the alleged offenses were committed around the city of Leeds, where Savile lived, and in London, where he worked.
The peak of offending reported to police was between 1966 and 1976, when Savile was between 40 and 50 years old.
Separately, a review by the Crown Prosecution Service was critical of the decision by two police forces not to file charges against Savile after investigating four separate allegations of sexual abuse.
In 2007 and 2008 Surrey Police investigated three complaints that he had engaged in sexual behavior with young girls. During the same period, Sussex Police investigated a complaint by a young woman.
Alison Levitt, chief legal adviser to the Director of Public Prosecutions, said police were too cautious in their approach and should have asked more questions to push inquiries forward.
The alleged victims and their accounts were treated "with a degree of caution which was neither justified nor required," she said.
"Having spoken to the victims I have been driven to conclude that had the police and prosecutors taken a different approach a prosecution might have been possible."
Peter Watt, director of child protection advice for the NSPCC, said the scale of Savile's abuse "simply beggared belief."
But, he added, one positive is that nearly 800 additional children have been protected from abuse because the publicity around the Savile case has encouraged people to call the charity's helpline.
For many, it's the first time they've spoken out about abuse, he said.
"We are optimistic that this signals a watershed moment for child protection in this country. We must seize the opportunity if we are to make a lasting change," he said.
The report's authors acknowledge that it is too late to act on the claims against Savile, but they say the investigation met "the need for hundreds of victims to have official recognition of the serious crimes they have suffered and to know they have been taken seriously."
Millions of Britons who grew up watching Savile on TV's "Top of the Pops" and "Jim'll Fix It" were shocked by the fall from grace of an entertainer who'd been awarded knighthoods by Queen Elizabeth II and the late Pope John Paul II for his charitable work.
Savile died in October 2011 at age 84, soon after being treated in a hospital for pneumonia. His death was followed by a series of glowing tributes, including BBC specials.
CNN's Jonathan Wald and Alexander Felton contributed to this report.