Thursday, December 22, 2011

Breaking : Baghdad bomb attacks leave scores dead and hundreds injured


Oh yeah, the U.S. "won" the illegal war in Iraq; bombings and timing suggest CIA involvement, non-existent "Al-Queda" blamed to appease U.S. requirement for face saving "terrorists" to rampage in Iraq following bogus military "pullout"

Associated Press
12/21/2011

A wave of violence across Baghdad has killed at least 57 people and injured nearly 200 just days after American forces left the country.




    The blasts come after a political crisis between Iraq's Sunni and Shia factions erupted last weekend. The spat, which pits Iraq's Shia prime minister against the highest-ranking Sunni political leader, has raised fears that Iraq's sectarian wounds will be reopened as Iraq begins navigating its own political future without US military support.

Today's bombings death toll over 50 so far
Iraqi officials said at least 12 blasts went off early on Thursday morning in nine neighbourhoods around the city. The explosions ranged from sticky bombs attached to cars to roadside bombs and vehicles packed with explosives.

Most of the attacks appeared to hit Shia neighbourhoods, although some Sunni areas were also targeted.

The spokesman for the Iraqi health ministry put the death toll at 57 and said at least 167 people were also injured. He did not have a breakdown of where the dead and injured were killed.

    Earlier reports indicated that the worst of the violence occurred in al-Amal neighbourhood where seven people were killed in a blast that appeared to target rescuers and officials who arrived at the scene after a previous explosion. At least four people were killed in one western Baghdad neighbourhood when two roadside bombs exploded.

   All the information came from police and hospital officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to speak to the media.

Car bombing in central Baghdad today
In the south-western neighbourhood of Karrada, where one of the victims was killed, sirens could be heard as ambulances rushed to the scene and a large plume of smoke rose over the explosion site.



    "My baby was sleeping in her bed. Shards of glass have fallen on our heads. Her father hugged her and carried her. She is now scared in the next room," said one woman in western Baghdad who said her name was Um Hanin. "All countries are stable. Why don't we have security and stability?"

   While Baghdad and Iraq have become safer over the past few years, explosions like Thursday's are still commonplace. They come at a precarious time in Iraq's political history, just days after US troops pulled out of the country.

Car and motorcycle bomb today in Baghdad
The government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has accused the Sunni vice-president, Tariq al-Hashimi, of running a hit squad targeting government officials. Al-Maliki is also pushing for a vote of no confidence against another Sunni politician, the deputy prime minister, Saleh al-Mutlaq.

    Many Sunnis fear that this is part of a wider campaign to go after Sunni political figures in general and shore up Shia control across the country.

    There was no immediate claim of responsibility for Thursday's violence. But the co-ordinated nature of the assault and the fact that the attacks took place in numerous neighbourhoods suggest a planning capability only available to al-Qaida in Iraq.

Shiite leader Muqtada al-Sadr pissed off
Many of the neighbourhoods were also Shia areas, which are a favourite target of al-Qaida. The Sunni extremist group often targets Shias who they believe are not true Muslims.

 US military officials have said they are worried about a resurgence of al-Qaida after the American military leaves the country. If that happens, it could lead Shia militants to fight back and attack Sunni targets, sending Iraq back to the sectarian violence it experienced just a few years ago.




Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of The 5th Estate.

Images:  Google royalty free unless otherwise attributed.


This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc.  We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.





Cops say they are Ready for War


If the cops believe that they can take on the entire U.S. Marine Corps active duty and Veterans and survive - much less win - they are in for one hell of a surprise

Agencies
By Andrew Becker

Nestled amid plains so flat the locals joke you can watch your dog run away for miles, Fargo treasures its placid lifestyle, seldom pierced by the mayhem and violence common in other urban communities. North Dakota’s largest city has averaged fewer than two homicides a year since 2005, and there’s not been a single international terrorism prosecution in the last decade.

    But that hasn’t stopped authorities in Fargo and its surrounding county from going on an $8 million buying spree to arm police officers with the sort of gear once reserved only for soldiers fighting foreign wars.

    Every city squad car is equipped today with a military-style assault rifle, and officers can don Kevlar helmets able to withstand incoming fire from battlefield-grade ammunition. And for that epic confrontation—if it ever occurs—officers can now summon a new $256,643 armored truck, complete with a rotating turret. For now, though, the menacing truck is used mostly for training and appearances at the annual city picnic, where it’s been parked near the children’s bounce house.

NYPD pigs ready for action
“Most people are so fascinated by it, because nothing happens here,” says Carol Archbold, a Fargo resident and criminal justice professor at North Dakota State University. “There’s no terrorism here.”

Like Fargo, thousands of other local police departments nationwide have been amassing stockpiles of military-style equipment in the name of homeland security, aided by more than $34 billion in federal grants since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, a Daily Beast investigation conducted by the Center for Investigative Reporting has found.Interactive Map: States Spend Billions on Homeland Security

   The buying spree has transformed local police departments into small, army-like forces, and put intimidating equipment into the hands of civilian officers. And that is raising questions about whether the strategy has gone too far, creating a culture and capability that jeopardizes public safety and civil rights while creating an expensive false sense of security.

    “The argument for up-armoring is always based on the least likely of terrorist scenarios,” says Mark Randol, a former terrorism expert at the Congressional Research Service, the nonpartisan research arm of Congress. “Anyone can get a gun and shoot up stuff. No amount of SWAT equipment can stop that.”

Local police bristle at the suggestion that they’ve become “militarized,” arguing the upgrade in firepower and other equipment is necessary to combat criminals with more lethal capabilities. They point to the 1997 Los Angeles-area bank robbers who pinned police for hours with assault weapons, the gun-wielding student who perpetrated the Virginia Tech massacre in 2007, and the terrorists who waged a bloody rampage in Mumbai, India, that left 164 people dead and 300 wounded in 2008.


    The new weaponry and battle gear, they insist, helps save lives in the face of such threats. “I don’t see us as militarizing police; I see us as keeping abreast with society,” former Los Angeles Police chief William Bratton says. “And we are a gun-crazy society.”

     Adds Fargo Police Lt. Ross Renner, who commands the regional SWAT team: “It’s foolish to not be cognizant of the threats out there, whether it’s New York, Los Angeles, or Fargo. Our residents have the right to be protected. We don’t have everyday threats here when it comes to terrorism, but we are asked to be prepared.”

   The skepticism about the Homeland spending spree is less severe for Washington, D.C., Los Angeles and New York, which are presumed to be likelier targets. But questions persist about whether money was handed out elsewhere with any regard for risk assessment or need. And the gap in accounting for the decade-long spending spree is undeniable. The U.S. Homeland Security Department says it doesn’t closely track what’s been bought with its tax dollars or how the equipment is used. State and local governments don’t maintain uniform records either.

Coward Oakland, CA pigs torture homeless just for being alive
To assess the changes in law enforcement for The Daily Beast, the Center for Investigative Reporting conducted interviews and reviewed grant spending records obtained through open records requests in 41 states. The probe found stockpiles of weaponry and military-style protective equipment worthy of a defense contractor’s sales catalog.

    In Montgomery County, Texas, the sheriff’s department owns a $300,000 pilotless surveillance drone, like those used to hunt down al Qaeda terrorists in the remote tribal regions of Pakistan and Afghanistan. In Augusta, Maine, with fewer than 20,000 people and where an officer hasn’t died from gunfire in the line of duty in more than 125 years, police bought eight $1,500 tactical vests. Police in Des Moines, Iowa, bought two $180,000 bomb-disarming robots, while an Arizona sheriff is now the proud owner of a surplus Army tank.

    The flood of money opened to local police after 9/11, but slowed slightly in recent years. Still, the Department of Homeland Security awarded more than $2 billion in grants to local police in 2011, and President Obama’s 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act contributed an additional half-billion dollars.

Coward, little girl SWAT playing with new citizen repression toy
Law enforcement officials say the armored vehicles, assault weapons, and combat uniforms used by their officers provide a public safety benefit beyond their advertised capabilities, creating a sort of “shock and awe” experience they hope will encourage suspects to surrender more quickly.

    “The only time I hear the complaint of ‘God, you guys look scary’ is if the incident turns out to be nothing,” says West Hartford, Conn., Police Lt. Jeremy Clark, who organizes an annual SWAT competition.

    A grainy YouTube video from one of Clark’s recent competitions shows just how far the police transformation has come, displaying officers in battle fatigues, helmets, and multi-pocketed vests storming a hostile scene. One with a pistol strapped to his hip swings a battering ram into a door. A colleague lobs a flash-bang grenade into a field. Another officer, holding a pistol and wearing a rifle strapped to his back, peeks cautiously inside a bus.

   The images unfold to the pulsing, ominous soundtrack of a popular videogame, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. Though resembling soldiers in a far-flung war zone, the stars of this video are Massachusetts State Police troopers.

   The number of SWAT teams participating in Clark’s event doubled to 40 between 2004 and 2009 as Homeland’s police funding swelled. The competition provides real-life scenarios for training, and Clark believes it is essential, because he fears many SWAT teams are falling below the 16 hours of minimum monthly training recommended by the National Tactical Officers Association.

    “Luck is not for cops. Luck is for drunks and fools,” Clark said, explaining his devotion to training.

Killer pigs try to intimidate G-20 protesters
One beneficiary of Homeland’s largesse are military contractors, who have found a new market for their wares and sponsor training events like the one Clark oversees in Connecticut or a similar Urban Shield event held in California.

    Special ops supplier Blackhawk Industries, founded by a former Navy SEAL, was among several Urban Shield sponsors this year. Other sponsors for such training peddle wares like ThunderSledge breaching tools for smashing open locked or chained doors, Lenco Armored Vehicles bulletproof box trucks, and KDH Defense Systems’s body armor.

  “As criminal organizations are increasingly armed with military-style weapons, law enforcement operations require the same level of field-tested and combat-proven protection used by soldiers and Marines in Iraq, Afghanistan, and other high-risk locations,” boasts an Oshkosh Corp. brochure at a recent police seminar, where the company pitched its “tactical protector vehicle.”

    The trend shows no sign of abating. The homeland security market for state and local agencies is projected to reach $19.2 billion by 2014, up from an estimated $15.8 billion in fiscal 2009, according to the Homeland Security Research Corp.

NYPD pigs sexually assault Occupy Wall Street protester
The rise of equipment purchases has paralleled an apparent increase in local SWAT teams, but reliable numbers are hard to come by. The National Tactical Officers Association, which provides training and develops SWAT standards, says it currently has about 1,650 team memberships, up from 1,026 in 2000.

    Many of America’s newly armed officers are ex-military veterans from the front lines of Iraq and Afghanistan. Charles Ramsey, who was police chief in Washington, D.C., on 9/11, upgraded the weaponry when he moved to Philadelphia in 2008. Today, some 1,500 Philly beat cops are trained to use AR-15 assault rifles.

    “We have a lot of people here, like most departments, who are ex-military,” Ramsey says. “Some people are very much into guns and so forth. So it wasn’t hard to find volunteers.”

    Some real-life episodes, however, are sparking a debate about whether all that gear also creates a more militarized mind-set for local police that exceeds their mission or risks public safety.

    In one case, dozens of officers in combat-style gear raided a youth rave in Utah as a police helicopter buzzed overhead. An online video shows the battle-ready team wearing masks and brandishing rifles as they holler for the music to be shut off and pin partygoers to the ground.

High on steroids and amphetamines, Oakland pigs on rampage
And Arizona tactical officers this year sprayed the home of ex-Marine Jose Guerena with gunfire as he stood in a hallway with a rifle that he did not fire. He was hit 22 times and died. Police had targeted the man’s older brother in a narcotics-trafficking probe, but nothing illegal was found in the younger Guerena’s home, and no related arrests had been made months after the raid.

    In Maryland, officials finally began collecting data on tactical raids after police in 2008 burst into the home of a local mayor and killed his two dogs in a case in which the mayor’s home was used as a dropoff for drug deal. The mayor’s family had nothing to do with criminal activity.

    Such episodes and the sheer magnitude of the expenditures over the last decade raise legitimate questions about whether taxpayers have gotten their money’s worth and whether police might have assumed more might and capability than is necessary for civilian forces.

    “With local law enforcement, their mission is to solve crimes after they’ve happened, and to ensure that people’s constitutional rights are protected in the process,” says Jesselyn McCurdy, senior legislative counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union. “The military obviously has a mission where they are fighting an enemy. When you use military tactics in the context of law enforcement, the missions don’t match, and that’s when you see trouble with the overmilitarization of police.”

Coward SWAT pigs play on taxpayer paid-for supression car
The upgrading of local police nonetheless continues. Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio now claims to operate his own air armada of private pilots—dubbed Operation Desert Sky—to monitor illegal border crossings, and he recently added a full-size surplus Army tank. New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly boasted this fall he had a secret capability to shoot down an airliner if one threatened the city again. And the city of Ogden, Utah, is launching a 54-foot, remote-controlled “crime-fighting blimp” with a powerful surveillance camera.

    Back in Fargo, nearby corn and soybean farmer Tim Kozojed supports the local police but questions whether the Homeland grants have been spent wisely. ”I’m very reluctant to get anxious about a terrorist attack in North Dakota,” Kozojed, 31, said. “Why would they bother?”
 
Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of The 5th Estate.

Images:  Google royalty free unless otherwise attributed.


This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc.  We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.



Parody video: Grandma got indefinitely detained now


The pedophile criminals at TSA will be hunted down and prosecuted - or worse - following their demise

Agencies
12/21/2011

Arab-American comedian Remy Munasifi, who has lampooned everything from “Occupy Wall Street” to the debt ceiling debt, uploaded a video to YouTube on Monday that parodies the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and indefinite detention.

 The parody music video is based on the goofy Christmas tune “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer” by Randy Brooks.

“Grandma got indefinitely detained now, coming home to visit Christmas Eve,” the libertarian-leaning comedian sings.

    “You could say she had a right to counsel, but some folks in the Congress disagree.”

     Watch video, courtesy of ReasonTV, below:


Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of The 5th Estate.

Images:  Google royalty free unless otherwise attributed.


This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc.  We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.




WAYNE MADSEN : A Third-Rate Intelligence Agency for a Failing Super-Power: The CIA’s Global Demise


The CIA is nothing more than a criminal, murdering, poisoning, assassinating, drug dealing U.S. government and Obama tool that must be destroyed before it is too late; CIA hated, reviled around world

Strategic Culture Foundation
By Wayne Madsen
12/21/2011

Based on its recent string of failures, most notably those that have occurred under America’s top general-turned-spymaster David Petraeus, the CIA has become a third-tier intelligence agency that is trying to prop around the world up a failing, financially bankrupt, and over-extended super-power the United States.

     The CIA, started in 1947 with veterans of the war-time Office of Strategic Services (OSS) and military personnel, who were soon supplemented by economists and international relations graduates of America’s top Ivy League universities, is now attempting to promote itself as a “made-for-television” futuristic high-tech spy and covert warfare agency, operating intelligence-gathering and armed drones from over 60 bases around the world. All that is missing from the CIA’s over-inflated view of itself are the X-Men and Jason Bourne.

The CIA killed Ernesto Che Guevara
The record of the CIA speaks otherwise. The agency has become a bloated and ineffectual spy agency that is heavy on inflating intelligence reports while being responsible for major intelligence failures.

Recent major failures of the CIA in its drone operations in the Middle East and Africa have some congressional sources wondering what is afoot with the CIA. Under Petraeus's watch the CIA has experienced its worst foul ups since those that occurred when it failed to foresee the Iranian embassy hostage situation and the collapse of the Soviet Union.

     Petraeus's first major failure, Lebanon, involved Hezbollah's exposure of the CIA's agent network in the country. The CIA station chief, Daniel Patrick McFeely, has been outed as the CIA station chief at the U.S. embassy in the Awkar neighborhood of Beirut. Not only was Hezbollah able to out McFeely, who operates as "official cover" as part of the embassy staff, but they identified his predecessor, Louis Kahi.

CIA Doofus-in-Chief:  David Petraeus found good home at CIA
By conducting surveillance of meetings at Pizza Huts and Starbucks in Lebanon between CIA case officers and agents, Hezbollah -- and their Iranian allies -- were able to construct the CIA's network that included over 1000 top Lebanese politicians, academics, medical doctors, journalists, military personnel, and celebrities. Essentially, the CIA's network in Lebanon has been largely rolled up. According to Al Manar television, the code names of the agents, names like Nick, Jim, Youssef, Liza and Jonah, were also exposed.

The CIA's MK-ULTRA mind control program
The U.S. corporate media has refrained from publishing the names of the CIA station chiefs or the cover names of their Lebanese agents. In more and more cases, the U.S. media has run from its duty to report all the facts about intelligence-related matters, succumbing to either appeals or threats from spy agencies that they should not write about intelligence-related matters because of some nebulous and non-provable “threat” to national security.

     Almost simultaneous to the Lebanon roll up, Iran announced it discovered a network composed of at least 42 CIA agents operating within its territory, operatives that worked in nuclear and other scientific centers, the military, biotechnology, and various universities. Iran's chief prosecutor has already indicted fifteen of the 42 for espionage on behalf of the CIA.

     On November 26, a U.S. air strike killed 24 Pakistani military personnel on the Pakistani border with Afghanistan. The incident, which frayed already poor relations between the United States and Pakistan, resulted in the U.S. being expelled from the Shamsi airbase in Pakistan, one from which CIA drones were launched, with few successes and many failures, against "terror" targets in Pakistan's volatile mountainous frontier region bordering Afghanistan.

Pakistanis riot over CIA drone killings of 24 Pakistan soldiers
The debacle that resulted in the loss of the Shamsi drone base was followed by the biggest intelligence failure to date, the downing by accident or hostile action, including through possible electronic warfare “spoofing,” of an RQ-170 Sentinel stealth-enabled drone over Iran. President Barack Obama was under pressure to launch a commando raid on Iran to retrieve the state-of-the art technology drone or bomb it and its security detail once it was discovered to be in Iranian hands. Obama chose to ask the Iranian to return the drone to the United States, something Tehran has refused to do, without, at the very least, an official apology.

     Obama had on his hands a “Jimmy Carter moment” and his Republican opponents eagerly jumped on him for not sending in a commando team to retrieve the drone or order air strikes to destroy it. Obama left himself open to charges that he is a weak and ineffectual president because he allowed the RQ-170 to fall into the hands of not only the Iranians, but, as the rhetoric from his political enemies has alleged, the Russians and Chinese, as well. The right-wing claims that Russia or China, or both, will attempt to re-engineer the CIA’s expensive toy, what is known as the mysterious "Beast of Kandahar," in order to leap frog the United States in stealth drone technology by years.

     And just when Obama did not need any more bad news from his problematic CIA director, news came that an Air Force-operated MQ-9 Reaper drone on counter-terrorist and counter-piracy duty in the Indian Ocean crashed and burst into flames on landing at the international airport on Mahe island in the Seychelles. Most Air Force Reapers are remotely-piloted from Nellis Air Force Base in Las Vegas, Nevada.

CIA Death Squad Responsible For Dumping 35 ‘Dead Zetas’ On Veracruz Highway
     The CIA’s drone wars, which are supplemented by the U.S. Air Force’s own Global Hawk, Predator, and Reaper operations, are increasingly being seen around the world as America’s use of technology to commit the “joy stick and button” mass murder of people accused of being terrorists. In fact, the CIA and the Air Force have no idea who they are killing when its drones launch their deadly payloads. The building anger against the United States will continue to place the CIA’s professional and increasingly amateurish personnel in danger in conflict zones like Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Libya and in rear echelon support countries like Djibouti, Seychelles, Ethiopia, Oman, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Qatar, Kenya, Uganda, Burundi, and Saudi Arabia.

Victim of CIA Predator drone attack
The CIA’s political influence operations around the world are also being exposed every day. Run in tandem with international financier George Soros and his network of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and not-for-profit foundations, the CIA’s attempts to foment rebellions through “themed revolutions” and election engineering are becoming better understood, ironically through the media that Soros and the CIA champion the most – social networking. From the streets of Egypt and Syria, where the CIA’s and Soros’s involvement in artificially-created uprisings is no longer a secret, to Russia, Venezuela, Belarus, and China, where political intervention by the CIA and its team of Soros “do-gooders” is now being met with strong opposition, the cat is out of the bag.

     While the CIA has for decades enjoyed the luxury of hiding behind NGOs, missionaries, aid workers, and journalists, the Internet has allowed CIA influence networks to be exposed and its agents, shills, and dupes to be identified. Time magazine has named as its “Person on the Year” for 2011 the generic “protester.” However, as the CIA’s worldwide operations become further exposed, the “protester” lauded by Time will no longer be a paid provocateur working for the CIA or Soros – taking orders and money from Human Rights Watch and Global Witness -- but one who is genuinely protesting the interference and aggression of the United States. And that protester will be found not only in Cairo, Moscow, Caracas, and Beirut but in New York, Washington, DC, Chicago, Miami, and Los Angeles.
 
Wayne MADSEN (USA)

Investigative journalist, author and syndicated columnist. Has some twenty years experience in security issues. As a U.S. Naval Officer, he managed one of the first computer security programs for the U.S. Navy. 

He has been a frequent political and national security commentator on Fox News and has also appeared on ABC, NBC, CBS, PBS, CNN, BBC, Al Jazeera, and MS-NBC. He has been invited to testify as a witness before the US House of Representatives, the UN Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, and an terrorism investigation panel of the French government. A member of the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) and the National Press Club. Lives in Washington, D.C. 

How Anything You've EVER Said on the Internet Could be Seen by Employers as Feds approve firm that dishes dirt on applicants


The Internet is any intelligence agency or employer's dream; people grievously injure themselves by posting personal information on "Social Media"

Daily Mail
By Fiona Roberts
12/21/2011




  • Company keeps information on its records for SEVEN YEARS





  • Uses special software to track down applicants' online pseudonyms





  • Means social media postings will become regular part of job application process





  • Government rules company doesn't breach regulations 



  •  The Federal Trade Commission has approved a controversial firm which scours social media sites to check on job applicants.

        It means anything you've ever said in public on sites including Facebook, Twitter and even Craigslist could be seen by your would-be employer.

    One slip and you could be marked for life
    The Washington-based commission has ruled the firm, Social Intelligence Corporation, complies with the Fair Credit Reporting Act - even though it keeps the results of its searches on file for seven years.The company has defended its policy of keeping the searches on file, saying it's for compliance reasons only.

        It says the negative findings are not re-used if a new employer runs a check on an applicant.

        Its chief operating officer, Geoffrey Andrews, said: 'We are not... building a “database” on individuals that will be evaluated each time they apply for a job and potentially could be used adversely even if they have cleaned up their profiles.'

        One of the reports, released to Forbes magazine, flagged an applicant for 'demonstrating potentially violent behaviour' because he'd posted a photograph of him holding a gun on his Facebook account.

        Another was flagged for 'illegal activity' after putting an advert on Craigslist searching for the drug Oxycontin.

        So far the company says it has found 'negative' online postings in up to 20 per cent of applicants it's been asked to investigate.

        Social Intelligence Corp. was founded a year ago, and soon afterwards the Federal Trade Commission began investigating over fears it could be in breach of the Fair Credit Reporting Act.

        But the government has now dropped its inquiry, ruling the company is within the rules as long as it lets applicants know whether they failed to get a job as a result of the report.

        It also changed the wording on it permission form - which all applicants must sign before the checks are carried out - to make sure they know exactly what will be checked during the review.

        Social Intelligence Corp says its reports are fairer than if employers simply Google candidates.

        The reports only take into account 'job-threatening' characteristics - such as criminal activity - and does not include personal information, such as sexuality or religion, which an employee legally cannot see.

        Applicants can also dispute the report's findings, and the offending record will be deleted if it is found to be incorrect.

    Mr Andrews told Forbes: 'I like to think we are providing a service not just by screening for employers, but in helping to protect job applicants by creating a standard process for online background checks and a service that presents them with reports on negative material.'

        But the government has now dropped its inquiry, ruling the company is within the rules as long as it lets applicants know whether they failed to get a job as a result of the report.

        It also changed the wording on it permission form - which all applicants must sign before the checks are carried out - to make sure they know exactly what will be checked during the review.

        Social Intelligence Corp says its reports are fairer than if employers simply Google candidates.

        The reports only take into account 'job-threatening' characteristics - such as criminal activity - and does not include personal information, such as sexuality or religion, which an employee legally cannot see.

        Applicants can also dispute the report's findings, and the offending record will be deleted if it is found to be incorrect.

        Mr Andrews told Forbes: 'I like to think we are providing a service not just by screening for employers, but in helping to protect job applicants by creating a standard process for online background checks and a service that presents them with reports on negative material.'
    Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of The 5th Estate.

    Images:  Google royalty free unless otherwise attributed.


    This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc.  We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.



     

    U.S. Held 'Losing The Battle' Against IEDs In Afghanistan


    Taliban at least as good as Viet Cong at guerrilla warfare

    World News
    By Sherwood Ross
    12/20/2011

    Even though it has spent at least $60 billion to destroy them, the Pentagon is losing the battle to combat the Improvised Explosive Devices(IEDs), which have accounted for two out of every three U.S. casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan. This won't stop the Pentagon, though, from spending another $10.1 billion on them next year as it struggles to reduce the human toll the IEDs are taking in its longest-ever war.

    Marines fight Viet Cong during TET, Vietnam
    While 10 to 15 percent of the IEDs that go off maim or kill U.S. soldiers, "The statistical likelihood of (an enemy) being killed or hurt while planting a bomb was close to zero", writes Andrew Cockburn in the November issue of Harper's magazine. By May, 2007, he reported, some 70,000 IEDs were planted in Iraq alone.

    "Assembled from cooking pots, mobile phones, flashlight batteries, farm fertilizer, and other commonplace items, these home-made weapons have altered the course of the Iraqi and Afghan wars," Cockburn writes. "They are also as far removed from our industrial approach to warfare as it is possible to be."

      According to Wikipedia, "In 2009, there were 7,228 IED attacks in Afghanistan, a 120 percent increase over 2008, and a record for the war."

        Last year, "IED attacks in Afghanistan wounded 3,366 U.S. soldiers, which is nearly 60 percent of the total IED-wounded since the start of the war...Insurgents planted 14,661 IEDs in 2010, a 62 percent increase over the previous year," Wikipedia said.

        "As a general rule, we find about 50 percent of the IEDs before they go off," General Michael Oates told Cockburn. The other 50 percent do detonate but of this group one-third do no harm because they were set incorrectly or were not sufficiently lethal or failed to pierce the protective gear of the troops, Oates continued. But, "Somewhere between 10 and 15 percent kill or harm our soldiers or our equipment, and that number's been very stubborn since about 2004."

    No respect:  U.S. soldiers inside Mosque in Afghanistan
    Military analyst Rex Rivolo said the human networks employed making, planting and triggering the IEDs provide jobs for 15,000 workers so that it "counts as a definite growth sector." IED-planters earn about $15 per job. Rivolo said the best way to inhibit their deployment was to operate low-flying light aircraft over areas where IEDs might be planted.

       "When Rivolo oversaw a test-exercise in Jordan in 2005 that clearly demonstrated the effectiveness of the light-aircraft approach, all copies of the resulting report were recalled and destroyed," Cockburn wrote. Rivolo told him, "It was too cheap for their taste." Rivolo headed research at the Counter-IED Operations Integration Center in Baghdad.

        A concurring view comes from Franklin Spinney, a former Pentagon analyst, who said that those who come up with simple responses to nullify the IED impact "are the antithesis of the techno-war that keeps the money flowing. The American military has sold the idea that complex technologies coupled to step-by-step analytical procedures can negate all the uncertainties and surprises of combat to solve any problem in war."

        A big part of the U.S. response money has been plowed into sophisticated surveillance systems. The Air Force and the Army are hard at work building blimps costing $211 million and $517 million, respectively, that can hover 20,000 feet or higher for a week at a time that will spy over large areas to detect IED planters.

    Afghan civilian IED victim
    Those who plant IEDs are regarded as High Value Targets, or HVTs, and their eradication is "the ultimate objective of our entire counter-IED strategy," Cockburn writes. Yet, when HVT bomb-planters are killed, attacks within three miles of their strikes increase by an average of 20 percent, he writes.

       According to Rivolo, the reason is "our principal strategy in Iraq is counterproductive and needs to be evaluated." The slain HVTs were almost always replaced at once, usually within 24 hours and, Rivolo said, "The new guy is going to work harder."

        If the strategy is counter-productive, a cynic may well wonder if the goal in Afghanistan isn't so much to win----as to spend.

    Sherwood Ross, who worked formerly as a columnist for major dailies and wire services, writes on current affairs and runs a public relations firm "for good causes." Reach him at sherwoodross10@gmail.com 

    Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of The 5th Estate.

    Images:  Google royalty free unless otherwise attributed.


    This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc.  We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.






    When your criminal past isn't yours

    These fly-by-night information operations, including credit reporters don't have Americans' permission to access, copy and re-transmit ANY personal data; they are criminal enterprises in league with corporations, CIA

    Associated Press
    By Jordan Robertson
    12/21/2011

    SAN FRANCISCO (AP) --

    A clerical error landed Kathleen Casey on the streets.

        Out of work two years, her unemployment benefits exhausted, in danger of losing her apartment, Casey applied for a job in the pharmacy of a Boston drugstore. She was offered $11 an hour. All she had to do was pass a background check. 

    Employers now using credit reports, Facebook
     It turned up a 14-count criminal indictment. Kathleen Casey had been charged with larceny in a scam against an elderly man and woman that involved forged checks and fake credit cards.

    There was one technicality: The company that ran the background check, First Advantage, had the wrong woman. The rap sheet belonged to Kathleen A. Casey, who lived in another town nearby and was 18 years younger.

        Kathleen Ann Casey, would-be pharmacy technician, was clean.

        "It knocked my legs out from under me," she says.

        The business of background checks is booming. Employers spend at least $2 billion a year to look into the pasts of their prospective employees. They want to make sure they're not hiring a thief, or worse.

      But it is a system weakened by the conversion to digital files and compromised by the welter of private companies that profit by amassing public records and selling them to employers. These flaws have devastating consequences.

        It is a system in which the most sensitive information from people's pasts is bought and sold as a commodity.

        A system in which computers scrape the public files of court systems around the country to retrieve personal data. But a system in which what they retrieve isn't checked for errors that would be obvious to human eyes.

       A system that can damage reputations and, in a time of precious few job opportunities, rob honest workers of a chance at a new start. And a system that can leave the Kathleen Caseys of the world — the innocent ones — living in a car.

        Those are the results of an investigation by The Associated Press that included a review of thousands of pages of court filings and interviews with dozens of court officials, data providers, lawyers, victims and regulators.

        "It's an entirely new frontier," says Leonard Bennett, a Virginia lawyer who has represented hundreds of plaintiffs alleging they were the victims of inaccurate background checks. "They're making it up as they go along."

    Landlords now look at credit reports on prospective tenants
    Two decades ago, if a county wanted to update someone's criminal record, a clerk had to put a piece of paper in a file. And if you wanted to read about someone's criminal past, you had to walk into a courthouse and thumb through it. Today, half the courts in the United States put criminal records on their public websites.

        Digitization was supposed to make criminal records easier to access and easier to update. To protect privacy, laws were passed requiring courts to redact some information, such as birth dates and Social Security numbers, before they put records online. But digitization perpetuates errors.

        "There's very little human judgment," says Sharon Dietrich, an attorney with Community Legal Services in Philadelphia, a law firm focused on poorer clients. Dietrich represents victims of inaccurate background checks. "They don't seem to have much incentive to get it right."

        Dietrich says her firm fields about twice as many complaints about inaccurate background checks as it did five years ago.

       The mix-ups can start with a mistake entered into the logs of a law enforcement agency or a court file. The biggest culprits, though, are companies that compile databases using public information.

        In some instances, their automated formulas misinterpret the information provided them. Other times, as Casey discovered, records wind up assigned to the wrong people with a common name.

        Another common problem: When a government agency erases a criminal conviction after a designated period of good behavior, many of the commercial databases don't perform the updates required to purge offenses that have been wiped out from public record.

        It hasn't helped that dozens of databases are now run by mom-and-pop businesses with limited resources to monitor the accuracy of the records. 

    Debt is not illegal in U.S. - unless you are poor, middle class
    The industry of providing background checks has been growing to meet the rising demand for the service. In the 1990s, about half of employers said they checked backgrounds. In the decade since Sept. 11, that figure has grown to more than 90 percent, according to the Society for Human Resource Management.

        To take advantage of the growing number of businesses willing to pay for background checks, hundreds of companies have dispatched computer programs to scour the Internet for free court data.

          But those data do not always tell the full story.

        Gina Marie Haynes had just moved from Philadelphia to Texas with her boyfriend in August 2010 and lined up a job managing apartments. A background check found fraud charges, and Haynes lost the offer.

        A year earlier, she had bought a Saab, and the day she drove it off the lot, smoke started pouring from the hood. The dealer charged $291.48 for repairs. When Haynes refused to pay, the dealer filed fraud charges.

        Haynes relented and paid after six months. Anyone looking at Haynes' physical file at the courthouse in Montgomery County, Pa., would have seen that the fraud charge had been removed. But it was still listed in the limited information on the court's website.

        The website has since been updated, but Haynes, 40, has no idea how many companies downloaded the outdated data. She has spent hours calling background check companies to see whether she is in their databases. Getting the information removed and corrected from so many different databases can be a daunting mission. Even if it's right in one place, it can be wrong in another database unknown to an individual until a prospective employer requests information from it. By then, the damage is done.

        "I want my life back," Haynes says.

        Haynes has since found work, but she says that is only because her latest employer didn't run a background check.

        Hard data on errors in background checks are not public. Most leading background check companies contacted by the AP would not disclose how many of their records need to be corrected each year.

        A recent class-action settlement with one major database company, HireRight Solutions Inc., provides a glimpse at the magnitude of the problems. 

    Armed with FCRA, The People fight back
    The settlement, which received tentative approval from a federal judge in Virginia last month, requires HireRight to pay $28.4 million to settle allegations that it didn't properly notify people about background checks and didn't properly respond to complaints about inaccurate files. After covering attorney fees of up to $9.4 million, the fund will be dispersed among nearly 700,000 people for alleged violations that occurred from 2004 to 2010. Individual payments will range from $15 to $20,000.

        In an effort to prevent bad information from being spread, some courts are trying to block the computer programs that background check companies deploy to scrape data off court websites. The programs not only can misrepresent the official court record but can also hog network resources, bringing websites to a halt.

        Virginia, Arizona and New Mexico have installed security software to block automated programs from getting to their courts' sites. New Mexico's site was once slowed so much by automated data-mining programs that it took minutes for anyone else to complete a basic search. Since New Mexico blocked the data miners, it now takes seconds.

        In the digital age, some states have seen an opportunity to cash in by selling their data to companies. Arizona charges $3,000 per year for a bundle of discs containing all its criminal files. The data includes personal identifiers that aren't on the website, including driver's license numbers and partial Social Security numbers.

       Other states, exasperated by mounting errors in the data, have stopped offering wholesale subscriptions to their records.

        North Carolina, a pioneer in marketing electronic criminal records, made $4 million selling the data last year. But officials discovered that some background check companies were refusing to fix errors pointed out by the state or to update stale information.

        State officials say some companies paid $5,105 for the database but refused to pay a mandatory $370 monthly fee for daily updates to the files — or they would pay the fee but fail to run the update. The updates provided critical fixes, such as correcting misspelled names or deleting expunged cases.

        North Carolina, which has been among the most aggressive in ferreting out errors in its customers' files, stopped selling its criminal records in bulk. It has moved to a system of selling records one at a time. By switching to a more methodical approach, North Carolina hopes to eliminate the sloppy record-keeping practices that has emerged as more companies have been allowed to vacuum up massive amounts of data in a single sweep.

        Virginia ended its subscription program. To get full court files now, you have to go to the courthouse in person. You can get abstracts online, but they lack Social Security numbers and birth dates, and are basically useless for a serious search.

        North Carolina told the AP that taxpayers have been "absorbing the expense and ill will generated by the members of the commercial data industry who continue to provide bad information while falsely attributing it to our courts' records."

        North Carolina identified some companies misusing the records, but other culprits have gone undetected because the data was resold multiple times. 

    No such thing as a "good" or legal "data provider"
    Some of the biggest data providers were accused of perpetuating errors. North Carolina revoke the licenses of CoreLogic SafeRent, Thomson West, CourtTrax and five others for repeatedly disseminating bad information or failing to download updates.

    Thomson West says it was punished for two instances of failing to delete outdated criminal records in a timely manner. Such instances are "extremely rare" and led to improvements in Thomson West's computer systems, the company said.

        CoreLogic says its accuracy standards meet the law, and it seemed to blame North Carolina, saying that the state's actions "directly contributed to the conditions which resulted in the alleged contract violations," but it would not elaborate. CourtTrax did not respond to requests for comment.

        Other background check companies say the errors aren't always their fault.

        LexisNexis, a major provider of background checks and criminal data, said in a statement that any errors in its records "stem from inaccuracies in original source material — typically public records such as courthouse documents."

        But other problems have arisen with the shift to digital criminal records. Even technical glitches can cause mistakes.

        Companies that run background checks sometimes blame weather. Ann Lane says her investigations firm, Carolina Investigative Research, in North Carolina, has endured hurricanes and ice storms that knocked out power to her computers and took them out of sync with court computers.

        While computers are offline, critical updates to files can be missed. That can cause one person's records to fall into another person's file, Lane says. She says glitches show up in her database at least once a year.

        Lane says she double-checks the physical court filings, a step she says many other companies do not take. She calls her competitors' actions shortsighted.

        "A lot of these database companies think it's 'ka-ching ka-ching ka-ching,'" she says.

        Data providers defend their accuracy. LexisNexis does more than 12 million background checks a year. It is one of the world's biggest data providers, with more than 22 billion public records on its own computers.

        It says fewer than 1 percent of its background checks are disputed. That still amounts to 120,000 people — more than the population of Topeka, Kansas.

    Americans now hostage to illegal credit reports
     But there are problems with those assertions. People rarely know when they are victims of data errors. Employers are required by law to tell job applicants when they've been rejected because of negative information in a background check. But many do not.

    Even the vaunted FBI criminal records database has problems. The FBI database has information on sentencings and other case results for only half its arrest records. Many people in the database have been cleared of charges. The Justice Department says the records are incomplete because states are inconsistent in reporting the conclusions of their cases. The FBI restricts access to its records, locking out the commercial database providers that regularly buy information from state and county government agencies.

        Data providers are regulated by the Federal Trade Commission and required by federal law to have "reasonable procedures" to keep accurate records. Few cases are filed against them, though, mostly because building a case is difficult.

        A series of breaches in the mid-2000s put the spotlight on data providers' accuracy and security. The fallout was supposed to put the industry on a path to reform, and many companies tightened security. But the latest problems show that some accuracy practices are broken.

        The industry says it polices itself and believes the approach is working. Mike Cool, a vice president with Acxiom Corp., a data wholesaler, praised an accreditation system developed by an industry group, the National Association of Professional Background Screeners. Fear of litigation keeps the number of errors in check, he says.

        "The system works well if everyone stays compliant," Cool says.

        But when the system breaks down, it does so spectacularly.

       Dennis Teague was disappointed when he was rejected for a job at the Wisconsin state fair. He was horrified to learn why: A background check showed a 13-page rap sheet loaded with gun and drug crimes and lengthy prison lockups. But it wasn't his record. A cousin had apparently given Teague's name as his own during an arrest.

        What galled Teague was that the police knew the cousin's true identity. It was even written on the background check. Yet below Teague's name, there was an unmistakable message, in bold letters: "Convicted Felon." 

    FTC must be held accountable for credit reporting oversight
    Teague sued Wisconsin's Department of Justice, which furnished the data and prepared the report. He blamed a faulty algorithm that the state uses to match people to crimes in its electronic database of criminal records. The state says it was appropriate to include the cousin's record, because that kind of information is useful to employers the same way it is useful to law enforcement.

        Teague argued that the computers should have been programmed to keep the records separate.

        "I feel powerless," he says. "I feel like I have the worst luck ever. It's basically like I'm being punished for living right."

       One of Teague's lawyers, Jeff Myer of Legal Action of Wisconsin, an advocacy law firm for poorer clients, says the state is protecting the sale of its lucrative databases.

       "It's a big moneymaker, and that's what it's all about," Myer says. "The convenience of online information is so seductive that the record-keepers have stopped thinking about its inaccuracy. As valuable as I find public information that's available over the Internet, I don't think people have a full appreciation of the dark side."

        In court papers, Wisconsin defended its inclusion of Teague's name in its database because his cousin has used it as an alias.

        "We've already refuted Mr. Teague's claims in our court documents," said Dana Brueck, a spokeswoman for Wisconsin's Department of Justice. "We're not going to quibble with him in the press."

        A Wisconsin state judge plans to issue his decision in Teague's case by March 11.

        The number of people pulling physical court files for background checks is shrinking as more courts put information online. With fewer people to control quality, accuracy suffers. 

    "Social Media" not worth privacy risk
     Some states are pushing ahead with electronic records programs anyway.

    Arizona says it hasn't had problems with companies failing to implement updates.

    Others are more cautious. New Mexico had considered selling its data in bulk but decided against it because officials felt they didn't have an effective way to enforce updates.

        Meanwhile, the victims of data inaccuracies try to build careers with flawed reputations.

        Kathleen Casey scraped by on temporary work until she settled her lawsuit against First Advantage, the background check company. It corrected her record. But the bad data has come up in background checks conducted by other companies.

        She has found work, but she says the experience has left her scarred.

        "It's like Jurassic Park. They come at you from all angles, and God knows what's going to jump out of a tree at you or attack you from the front or from the side," she says. "This could rear its ugly head again — and what am I going to do then?"

    Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of The 5th Estate.

    Images:  Google royalty free unless otherwise attributed.


    This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc.  We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.







    -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    ANDREW KREIG: EXPERTS REJECT FIRE AS CAUSE FOR 9/11 WTC COLLAPSES

    The real truth on 9/11 slowly continues to bleed out

     photo
    Technical experts are mounting major challenges to official U.S. government accounts of how three World Trade Center skyscrapers collapsed in near-freefall after the 9/11 attacks 15 years ago.

    Many researchers are focusing especially on the little-known collapse of

    READ MORE >>

    -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    The Geopolitics Of The United States, Part 1: The Inevitable Empire

    The Empire and the inevitable fall of the Obama criminal regime

     photo
    STRATFOR Editor’s Note: This installment on the United States, presented in two parts, is the 16th in a series of STRATFOR monographs on the geopolitics of countries influential in world affairs.

    Like nearly all of the peoples of North and South America, most Americans are not originally from the territory that became the United States.

    READ MORE >>

    -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Geopolitics Of The United States Part 2: American Identity And The Threats of Tomorrow

    A look back at 2011 predictions for the future in order to put events of today into perspective

     photo capitalism_zpsah78uy5p.jpg
    We have already discussed in the first part of this analysis how the American geography dooms whoever controls the territory to being a global power, but there are a number of other outcomes that shape what that power will be like. The first and most critical is the impact of that geography on the American mindset.

    READ MORE >>

    -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


    By Robert S. Finnegan

    This e-mail outlines and confirms the acts of espionage against Indonesia and Indonesians by Akiko Makino and the others involved both in Kobe University and in AI Lab at University of Airlangga, Surabaya; Bahasa Indonesia original follows English translation...

    READ MORE >>

    -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    UPDATED 01/07/2015 : New Analysis Challenges Tamiflu Efficacy; Hong Kong Corona Virus Outbreak

    UPDATED 01/07/2015 : FOX NEWS CORPORATE PHARMA SHILL MEGAN KELLY AND FOX NEWS QUACK DOCTOR NOW PUSHING TAMIFLU FOR PREGNANT WOMEN AND CHILDREN;

     photo TAMIFLU_small_zpssojx6okt.jpg
    THE 5TH ESTATE UNEQUIVOCALLY WARNS THE PUBLIC NOT TO TAKE OR GIVE THIS PROVEN DANGEROUS, INEFFECTIVE DRUG TO ANYONE

    Obama criminals now resulting to biowarfare in quest to destroy Chinese and ASEAN economy; "novel virus substrain" points directly to a Kawaoka / Fouchier / Ernala-Ginting Kobe lab virus weaponized and genetically altered to specifically target and infect the Asian population: Ribavirin...

    READ MORE >>

    -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


     photo WHO02_zpsplmhtlpr.jpg
    The 5th Estate has just purchased a library on H5N1 "Novel" virus pandemics, there are dozens of PDF and Exel documents we feel will assist you in saving lives following intentional releases of the H5N1 and now MERS viruses; we will begin by printing those that appear to be extremely relevant here: H5N1 Kobe-Kawaoka-Ernala series continues soon with more "Smoking Gun" e-mails from Teridah Ernala to The 5th Estate . . .

    READ MORE >>

    -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


    By Robert S. Finnegan

    On October 12, 2002 the Indonesian island of Bali experienced a terrorist attack that rocked the world. It was unquestionably well-coordinated and executed, the largest in the country's history.

    READ MORE >>