Friday Night Fun and Culture: Townes Van Zandt

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Cosmetic surgery tourism on rise as satisfied customers spread the word

From The Guardian UK: http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2013/jun/21/cosmetic-surgery-tourism

Drawing on advice of former patients, Britons are travelling to Poland, Czech Republic and Tunisia for operations to enhance their looks or to help them feel ‘normal’

, health editor
The Guardian, Friday 21 June 2013

Laura had no ambition to be a supermodel. She wanted cosmetic surgery to make her feel normal. She had been 22 stone and morbidly obese, and lost about half her bodyweight after stomach stapling, dropping from a dress size 28 to 14. But it was no longer just her clothes that did not fit, it was also her skin.

“It was like wearing a sumo wrestler suit,” she said. “I felt like an old woman. It doesn’t do your confidence any good at all.”

Laura (not her real name) did not think it was appropriate to approach the NHS, so she turned to the internet, looking for clinics that would offer her a tummy tuck. She browsed websites and started to chat to people on Facebook. When she finally made her decision, it was to go to Wroclaw in Poland for the operation.

Laura is one of the growing band of cosmetic surgery tourists who fly to cities served by cheap airlines such as easyJet and Ryanair for operations at hospitals and clinics. They go to the Czech Republic and Tunisia, as well as Poland, paying about half the price they would have paid for private surgery in the UK, with flights and accommodation included.

Research from Leeds University, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council and due to be released next week, offers new insights into cosmetic surgery tourism. Professor Ruth Holliday and her team expected to find disaster stories and admit they were surprised.

Most of the patients they spoke to were satisfied with their surgery because they had changed something about their appearance that had troubled them for years. And they were administrators, nurses, hotel porters, hairdressers, students, police officers and teachers on modest incomes.

“I’m not trying to be some kind of supermodel. I’m just trying to feel normal, able to wear swimming costumes without people staring at my legs,” said Laura, 37, who has five children and works in the care industry. She has since had further surgery: a breast uplift and liposuction on her thighs.

Continue reading at:  http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2013/jun/21/cosmetic-surgery-tourism

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Hormonal Therapy For Transsexual Patients is Safe, Study

From Counsel and Heal:  http://www.counselheal.com/articles/5781/20130618/hormonal-therapy-transsexual-patients-safe-study.htm

Christine Hsu
Jun 18, 2013

A new study reveals that hormonal therapy for transsexual patients is safe and effective.

Some transsexual individuals feel they were born the wrong gender, so they undergo surgical and hormonal therapies to change their external characteristics to match their internal image of themselves. However, because hormonal therapy involves patients receiving large doses of male or female sex hormones, many people are concerned about its health effects.

The latest study presented at The Endocrine Society’s 95th Annual Meeting in San Francisco revealed that short-term hormonal therapy for transsexual individuals is effective and safe, with few side effects.

“Although transsexualism remains a rare diagnosis, the number of trans persons seeking hormonal or surgical treatment has drastically increased in recent years, making a detailed multicenter description on the effects of cross-sex hormonal treatment timely,” said study lead author Dr. Katrien Wierckx, an endocrinologist at Ghent University Hospital in Belgium.

“Our study gives valuable information about the effects of drastic changes in sex steroids on glucose and lipid metabolism, cardiovascular and bone health, so that we can inform our future clients, their families and other caregivers more accurately on the desired effects, side effects and adverse events of cross-sex hormonal treatment,” she added.

The study included 45 transsexual men and 42 transsexual women at four European centers in Ghent, Oslo, Amsterdam and Florence that specialize in transgender treatment.

All participants received treatment for 12 months. Male-to-female transsexuals received anti-androgen treatment in combination with a form of estrogen, which is the principal female sex hormone. Female-to-male transsexuals received a form of the male sex hormone testosterone.

Continue reading at:  http://www.counselheal.com/articles/5781/20130618/hormonal-therapy-transsexual-patients-safe-study.htm

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Op-ed: Flying While Trans

From The Advocate:  http://www.advocate.com/commentary/2013/06/18/op-ed-flying-while-trans

Getting through airport security isn’t easy, but it can be especially difficult when you’re transgender.

BY Brad Glemser
June 18 2013

Airport security can be nerve-racking and at times a downright nightmare for transgender travelers — as well as for many other people. Though the Transportation Security Administration is currently reviewing its screening methods, lots of transgender people like me have had our privacy taken away from us only to subsequently face harassment and discrimination from airport security staff.

My most horrific experience ironically took place on National Coming Out Day last year. I was flying through Miami, and after I went through a body scanner, the TSA officer wanted to pat down my chest. While doing so he felt my chest binder, which I wore every day and which the scanner had consistently detected under my clothes and flagged as an “anomaly.” I told him it was a back brace. Calling it a “binder” — something used specifically by transgender men — had often prompted extra thorough pat-downs by airport security. Calling it a back brace meant that I didn’t have to disclose my transgender identity to TSA officers and to other travelers standing nearby.

This time, though, calling it a back brace failed.

The security officer instructed me to disrobe and remove my binder so they could swab it for explosive traces and put it through the scanner. Knowing this would mean exposing myself in a humiliating and inappropriate way, I refused. After a heated discussion, the transportation security manager from the Department of Homeland Security was brought in to continue pressuring me. While waiting for him to arrive, I was surrounded by TSA officers who guarded my bags and watched over me.

When the manager arrived, he persisted in asking me to remove my binder and even threatened to arrest me if I did not acquiesce. The two men took me to a windowless screening room and closed the door behind them. For a moment I feared what they might do to me.

Thankfully, instead of completely disrobing, they agreed to lett me unbutton my shirt so they could swab underneath the binder to do an explosives test. This in itself was invasive enough. Afterward, I was forced to undergo another full, prison-style pat-down.

Many nontransgender people may not understand how deeply nerve-racking this is. It’s akin to being asked to get naked in public — a wholly invasive and unnecessary process in the name of airport “security.”

Continue reading at:  http://www.advocate.com/commentary/2013/06/18/op-ed-flying-while-trans

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Gender Justice League’s Trans* Pride Seattle Campaign Video!

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Violence Against Women Is A ‘Global Health Problem Of Epidemic Proportions,’ Says WHO

From Huffington Post:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/20/violence-against-women-who_n_3474120.html?ref=topbar

By Posted: 06/20/2013

About one in three women worldwide experience sexual or physical violence at least once in their lives, according to a World Health Organization report released Thursday.

Put together by the WHO in partnership with the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and the South African Medical Research Council, the report says 35 percent of women around the world are victims of sexual or physical violence, and that assault at the hands of an intimate partner is by far the most common form of such violence. In fact, a whopping 30 percent of women globally were found to be domestic violence victims.

“These findings send a powerful message that violence against women is a global health problem of epidemic proportions,” said Dr. Margaret Chan, director-general of WHO, in a statement. “We also see that the world’s health systems can and must do more for women who experience violence.”

The study found that 38 percent of all women who were murdered were killed by their intimate partners, and more than 40 percent of domestic violence victims were found to have suffered injuries from those incidents.

In addition, the study showed that women who experience violence at the hands of their intimate partners are more likely to suffer from depression, have alcohol use problems, unwanted pregnancies and abortions, as well as sexually transmitted infections, including HIV.

Citing the recent assault of celebrity chef Nigella Lawson by her husband, one of the report’s authors told Reuters that violence against women is truly a concern for everyone on the planet.

“This is an everyday reality for many, many women,” said the author, Charlotte Watts, a health policy expert at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine. “[I]t’s not just poor women, or women in a certain country. This really is a global issue.”

Continue reading at:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/20/violence-against-women-who_n_3474120.html?ref=topbar

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Why didn’t anyone help?

From Salon:  http://www.salon.com/2013/06/17/why_didnt_anyone_help_nigella/

When Nigella Lawson’s husband had his hand around her throat, how come no one stepped in?

If ever there were a woman who represented the ideal of homey perfection, it’d be Nigella Lawson. This, after all, is the woman who jokingly titled one of her cookbooks “How to Be a Domestic Goddess,” a woman whose television show “Nigella Bites” frequently ended with her triumphantly feeding an eager crowd (or just her two children).

So it came as stunning news Sunday when the Mirror’s People page published a series of photographs showing the British food writer and television personality apparently being choked by her husband, Charles Saatchi, during a recent lunch at Scott’s restaurant in London. In the series of photographs, the man’s hand is seen extended across a table and around Lawson’s throat. As the Mirror sensationally describes it, “At first he used only his left hand, then both. At one stage he tweaked her nose then pushed both hands in her face. Twice Nigella jerked her head backwards as if in fear.” Strangely, soon after, she reportedly kissed him on the cheek. Another photo shows her apparently crying and visibly upset, leaving the restaurant. Police are now investigating the incident but have not launched a formal investigation.

Saatchi, a renowned advertising executive and art dealer, has insisted the photographs don’t tell the true story. In a conversation with the Evening Standard, he says, “About a week ago, we were sitting outside a restaurant having an intense debate about the children, and I held Nigella’s neck repeatedly while attempting to emphasize my point. There was no grip, it was a playful tiff. The pictures are horrific but give a far more drastic and violent impression of what took place. Nigella’s tears were because we both hate arguing, not because she had been hurt. We had made up by the time we were home. The paparazzi were congregated outside our house after the story broke yesterday morning, so I told Nigella to take the kids off till the dust settled.” Hint: If you can acknowledge that you were having an “intense” argument and that during it you put your hands around a woman’s throat “to make a point,” there’s going to be a whole lot of serious question as to how “playful” your actions were, sir. Next time you’re looking for “emphasis,” try it a little further away from an artery. The 53-year-old Lawson, meanwhile, has only confirmed via a spokesman that she and her two children by her late first husband John Diamond have moved out of their London home, with no further comment. Her rep told Us this week, “We will not be commenting on the images.”

Continue reading at:  http://www.salon.com/2013/06/17/why_didnt_anyone_help_nigella/

See Also:

The Guardian UK: Nigella Lawson: from domestic goddess to the face of domestic violence

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The GOP’s latest abortion ban push is staggeringly stupid

From The Guardian UK:  http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/jun/18/house-republican-abortion-bill-ban-twenty-weeks?INTCMP=SRCH

The white male-dominated Republican party is still living in the stone age on social issues. It just goes from bad to worse


guardian.co.uk, Tuesday 18 June 2013

It’s a truism verging on dogma that history favors steady progress toward equal rights for gays. The last election cycle saw incredible gains for marriage equality and representation for gays and lesbians in government. There is a movement in the Republican party to at least stop fighting the issue, and at least a recognition that they cannot hope to grow the party as long as young voters associate opposition to marriage equality with a general stance of intolerance and bigotry.

Funny how attitudes haven’t shifted in the same way when it comes to women and, especially, anything to do with sex. Why are debates about reproductive rights mired in Neanderthal attitudes, demonstrably fanciful notions about biology (“legitimate rape”), and pro-life activists stubbornly resistant to even basic attempts at reasonable compromise?

Indeed, many of the most extreme anti-choice measures passed in state legislatures (and, as of this week, potentially the US Congress) stand on weak constitutional grounds; “fetal heartbeat” laws create a whole new standard of fetal viability and legal experts predict costly and ultimately pointless court battles defending them. Many mainstream anti-abortion groups even shy away from supporting these unprecedented decisions: neither National Right to Life, nor Americans United for Life, nor the Roman Catholic Church have campaigned for them.

Yet, conservatives continue to march out parades of white men to spout aggressively ignorant arguments that alienate even audiences inclined to be sympathetic to their point of view. This week’s curiosity is Texas Congressman Michael Burgess who claims to have witnessed 15 week-old fetuses masturbating. In the last election cycle, Republicans lost ground with suburban white women, and women in general, and polls suggest that antipathy stemmed almost entirely from the impression that conservatives were coming for their birth control. In 12 swing states in 2012, a plurality of women named abortion as their top electoral priority.

Men (especially Republican men) seem befuddled (or in denial) by women’s intractability on the issue. Speaking at the Faith and Freedom Coalition conference last weekend, American Values president Gary Bauer insisted, “The social issues we believe in are more popular than the Republican economic agenda.” At best, they assume arguments about abortion to be a “distraction” from the obvious top priority, the economy. This week, moderate Republican congressman Charlie Dent of Pennsylvania expressed exasperation with the House leadership’s decision to bring to the floor a bill a federal ban on abortions 20 weeks after conception:

Continue reading at:  http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/jun/18/house-republican-abortion-bill-ban-twenty-weeks?INTCMP=SRCH

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Chris Simcox, Co-Founder Of Minuteman Border Patrol Group, Arrested On Child Sex Charges

From Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/19/chris-simcox-minuteman-arrested_n_3469474.html

Reuters
Posted: 06/19/2013

By David Schwartz

PHOENIX, June 19 (Reuters) – The co-founder of the Minutemen civilian border patrol group that for several years watched for unauthorized immigrants crossing to Arizona from Mexico, was arrested on Wednesday on suspicion of molesting three young girls.

Chris Simcox, 52, who co-founded the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps in 2005, was booked into a Maricopa County jail in connection with the molestation of three girls under the age of 10, said Sergeant Tommy Thompson, a Phoenix police spokesman.

Detectives with the department’s Family Investigations Bureau developed “probable cause” that Simcox had sexual conduct with the girls during the past several months, Thompson said. No other details were immediately available.

Simcox has denied the allegations to police. It was not known if he had an attorney.

He faces two counts each of child molestation and sexual conduct with a minor, and one count of attempted child molestation.

A former kindergarten teacher from California, Simcox co-founded the border watch group to highlight what he said was the government’s failure to secure the porous southwest border with Mexico.

Complete article at:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/19/chris-simcox-minuteman-arrested_n_3469474.html

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Is the Rise of Filthy Gonzo Porn Actually Dangerous, Or Are People Overreacting?

From Alternet:  http://www.alternet.org/sex-amp-relationships/gonzo-porn

The ubiquity of dirty, violent porn has many people worried. But is it just the same old moral panic?

By David Rosen
June 7, 2013

Pornography is ubiquitous in America. Estimates as to its market size are all over the map, but most analysts agree it’s a $10 billion-plus enterprise. More troubling for some is the concern that the new digital technologies, particularly the Internet and mobile devices, have extended access (especially to young people) while expanding the scope of the pornographic “imagination,” depicting once-illicit sex practices as acceptable, the new normal. 

These twin tendencies of modern pornography—greater reach and more explicit depiction—distinguish technology’s impact on the erotic imagination since the first porn photographs were introduced in the 1840s. With each new medium of pornographic representation, more people have access to more porn sources and to the depiction of more explicit (especially once-unacceptable) sex practices.

Today, this development is expressed in the growing split between “erotic” and “gonzo” porn. Conventional “erotic” porn seeks to mirror the Hollywood storytelling style, with recognizable plotlines, characters and sex serving a “romantic” end. Conventional porn runs the full gamut, from vanilla to S&M and everything in between, but reinforces conventional patriarchal heterosexuality.

Something seems to have happened with the introduction of “gonzo” porn. The traditional boundaries of the acceptable depiction were pushed to a new limit. This porn involves sexual performance in which the male actor violates or appears to harm the female performer, depicting sex acts that no actual woman would want to engage in. Some say the genre was launched in 1989 with the release of John Stagliano’s series, The Adventures of Buttman.

For some critics, gonzo porn symbolizes and reinforces the violence women face everyday, whether in their sexual lives or in their real lives. Krystal Fleischman wrote a strong critique of gonzo porn imagery she saw on two websites that drew her attention. The narratives on one site, she wrote, all showed “very rough anal and vaginal sex, and name calling.” At another gonzo site, Fleischman wrote that, “The woman in this film was heavily degraded by her male partner; she was gagged so violently and frequently throughout the film that her eyes were welling up with tears and she almost vomited a few times. The male actor would violently slap the woman in the face whenever she gagged.”

A chorus of academic researchers, journalists and commentators are raising concern about both the ease of porn availability, especially to teenagers, and the apparent increasing appeal of gonzo or extreme porn. Many point to a body of research linking porn viewing to all manner of criminal and other violent behavior, including rape, pedophilia and murder.

Continue reading at:  http://www.alternet.org/sex-amp-relationships/gonzo-porn

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Conservative says women in military make up rape stories for money

From Feministing:  http://feministing.com/2013/06/18/conservative-says-women-in-military-make-up-rape-stories-for-money/

By Katie
June 18, 2013

Those of us concerned about the sexual assault epidemic ravaging the military can all the chill out, thanks to some really awesome news: women who join the military are pathological freaks who make up stories about being raped out of spite, for money or for attention. This, at least, is the opinion of esteemed (by fellow homophobic-racist- misogynists) “journalist” John Derbyshire. If that name sounds familiar, you’re either a FHRM (fellow homophobic-racist-misogynist) or you remember when Derbyshire urged white parents to follow his lead and have that really important, life-saving talk with their children about the birds and the bees the blacks. He advised his own children to, among other racist tricks, “(10a) Avoid concentrations of blacks not all known to you personally,” “(10b) Stay out of heavily black neighborhoods,” “If planning a trip to a beach or amusement park at some date, find out whether it is likely to be swamped with blacks on that date.” This got him fired from The National Review.

Luckily for him, and us, Taki’s Magazine, which describes itself as “a Libertarian webzine” and calls itself by the affectionate nickname “Takimag,” welcomed Drebyshire with open arms and he joined the ranks of FHRM columnists like Pat Buchanan. In an article for his cleverly named “Derbtown” column, called “The Sexual Harassment Panic” (I love it already), “the Derb” (if you will, and I hope you will) explains that he’s just here to help: “My work here aims to be constructive: to apprise the US military of some true facts that might assist them in pushing back against the USC tsunami.” He then lays out his points with the same organization and clarity he did in his article on the blacks. I paraphrase but also include his original language to demonstrate the importance of his argument, the precision of his language, and the shocking fact that I’m not exaggerating or distorting his screed. But perhaps my greatest motivation for pasting screenshots instead of linking to the article is this plea that appears when I copy and paste the text:

Continue reading at:  http://feministing.com/2013/06/18/conservative-says-women-in-military-make-up-rape-stories-for-money/

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Protests Sweep Brazil

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Clear Evidence That Corporate America Wants the Govt. to Treat Protesters as ‘Terrorists’

From Alternet:  http://www.alternet.org/corporate-accountability-and-workplace/corporations-think-protesters-are-terrorists

Major company behind the Keystone XL pipeline wants American police to treat people sitting in trees like Mohammad Atta.

By Thom Hartmann
June 20, 2013

Corporations are trying to use the PATRIOT Act in ways that have nothing to do with Osama Bin Laden because the PATRIOT Act gives transnational corporations the power to snuff out the activism of all those who oppose them.

Terrorism, as it is commonly considered, is the use of violence against civilians to achieve any number of political ends: the destruction of the federal government, the overturning of Roe V. Wade, the restoration of a Caliphate. If you try to kill people – or succeed in killing people for a political purpose – you’re a terrorist. If you blow up the Alfred P. Murrow Federal Building and kill 168 civilians, like Timothy McVeigh, you’ve committed an act of terrorism.

Seems pretty self-explanatory – right? Not according to TransCanada Corp., the Canadian owned energy conglomerate that is the backer of the Keystone XL pipeline extension. A new set of documents obtained by the group Bold Nebraska shows that this foreign corporation is encouraging American law enforcement agencies to treat anti-pipeline protestors like terrorists. Yes, terrorists.

The documents, which Bold Nebraska got a hold of through a FOIA request, were part of a briefing given to Nebraska law enforcement agents about the “emerging threat” of groups like Tar Sands Blockade and Rainforest Action.

And what are the “terrorist” activities that TransCanada is so concerned about? They include things like monkey-wrenching, tree-sitting, and tying yourself to a construction vehicle with a device called a “dragon-lock.”

If this seems familiar, it should, because what groups like Tar Sands Blockade are engaging in is classic civil disobedience. This is not terrorism, but this foreign corporation TransCanada wants American law enforcement agents to start looking at it like it is. By far the most damning document obtained by Bold Nebraska urges Nebraska authorities to consider using “State or Federal Anti-Terrorism laws prohibiting sabotage or terroristic acts against critical infrastructures.” In other words, TransCanada thinks American police should treat the blocking of construction vehicles just like the blowing up of a bus in downtown Washington, D.C.

Continue reading at:  http://www.alternet.org/corporate-accountability-and-workplace/corporations-think-protesters-are-terrorists

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Trust me: Political Spying + Computers = Big Brother

From Common Dreams:  http://www.commondreams.org/view/2013/06/19-0

by Jeff Cohen

I know the issue of political spying – and not just because my lawful, nonviolent activism got me spied on by local, state and federal “intelligence” agencies (whose spy files on me were unearthed through successful lawsuits and partly successful Freedom of Information requests). I also spent a dozen years as a journalist, researcher and ACLU lawyer investigating the spies.

There are four basic truths of political spying worth remembering in light of NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden’s disclosures about phone record and Internet surveillance. These truths were obvious before computerized spying – e.g. when the FBI’s massive 1960s spy program led to harassment and violence against civil rights and antiwar activists – and are more obvious, and perhaps more dangerous, now that digitized information on millions of us can be so easily vacuumed up.

  1. False “facts” and assumptions CIRCULATE WILDLY.
  2. Political spying RARELY STAYS ON TARGET; they tend to wander.
  3. Political “intelligence” is often the OPPOSITE OF ACTUAL INTELLIGENCE.
  4. Big Brother has flourished under BOTH PARTIES.

False Facts Gone Wild

As a teenager in Detroit, I borrowed my dad’s car to attend totally lawful gatherings sponsored by groups like People Against Racism (PAR) and Vietnam Veterans Against the War (VVAW) – while agents of the Michigan State Police “Red Squad” hid outside and diligently recorded license plate numbers. Stacking false assumption upon false assumption, the bumbling spies linked my dad – a non-political businessman – to revolutionary communists. It was totally bogus as to him and me. Meet Sol Cohen, subversive file No. 358-552-619.

We received Sol Cohen’s file in 1983 thanks to a successful First Amendment suit revealing that the “intelligence” unit had accumulated files on 38,000 Michigan residents – including progressive politicians, consumer activists, union leaders – with not one indicted for a crime. (This wasteful surveillance occurred while Detroit’s violent crime rate was soaring.)

Continue reading at:  http://www.commondreams.org/view/2013/06/19-0

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Indefinite Surveillance: Say Hello to the National Defense Authorization Act of 2014

From Truth Out:  http://truth-out.org/news/item/17070-indefinite-surveillance-say-hello-to-the-national-defense-authorization-act-of-2014

By Stephen Benavides
Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Passed in 1978, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) set the groundwork for surveillance, collection, and analysis of intelligence gathered from foreign powers and agents of foreign powers, up to and including any individual residing within the U.S., who were suspected of involvement in potential terrorist activity. On October 26, 2001, a little over a month after 9/11, President George W. Bush signed the USA Patriot Act into law. Two provisions, Sec. 206, permitting government to obtain secret court orders allowing roving wiretaps without requiring identification of the person, organization, or facility to be surveyed, and Sec. 215 authorizing government to access and obtain “any tangible thing” relevant to a terrorist investigation, transformed foreign intelligence into domestic intelligence.

NDAA 2014 builds on the powers granted by both the Patriot Act and FISA by allowing unrestricted analysis and research of captured records pertaining to any organization or individual “now or once hostile to the United States”. Under the Patriot Act, the ability to obtain “any tangible thing” eliminated any expectation of privacy. Under NDAA 2014 Sec. 1061(g)(1), an overly vague definition of captured records enhances government power and guarantees indefinite surveillance.

On May 22, 2013 the Subcommittee on Intelligence, Emerging Threats and Capabilities, one of several Armed Services Committees, met to discuss the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2014. The main subject of the hearing was Sec. 1061, otherwise known as Enhancement of Capacity of the United States Government to Analyze Captured Records. This enhancement provision of NDAA 2014 would effectively create a new intelligence agency, one with the authority to analyze information gained under the Patriot Act, FISA, and known spying programs such as PRISM.

Sec. 1061(a) authorizes the Secretary of Defense to “establish a center to be known as the ‘Conflict Records Research Center'” (Center). The main purpose of the center, according to the bill text, is to create a “digital research database,” one with the capability to “translate” and facilitate research on “records captured from countries, organizations and individuals, now or once hostile to the United States.” The authorization also says the Center will conduct research and analysis to “increase the understanding of factors related to international relations, counterterrorism and conventional and unconventional warfare, and ultimately, enhance national security.”

Continue reading at:  http://truth-out.org/news/item/17070-indefinite-surveillance-say-hello-to-the-national-defense-authorization-act-of-2014

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Oil spill…Every Plant & Tree Died

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Greenland’s Great Melt Is Pinned on Climate Change

From Truth Dig:  http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/greenlands_great_melt_is_pinned_on_climate_change_20130619/

By Tim Radford, Climate News Network
Jun 19, 2013

LONDON—First: the story so far. For a few days in July 2012, almost 97% of the surface of Greenland began suddenly to thaw. This was a melt on an unprecedented scale.

Greenland carries a burden of three million cubic kilometres of ice and even in the summer, most of it stays frozen, partly because of the island’s high latitude and partly because ice reflects sunlight, and tends normally to serve as its own insulator.

The event was so unusual, and so unexpected, and on such a scale that nobody seriously suggested that the dramatic conversion of snow to slush was direct evidence of climate change because of human-induced global warming.

Soot, smoke and heat

At first, climatologists were inclined to see the thaw as a consequence of the record-breaking heat waves and forest fires that afflicted North America last summer: snow could have been darkened by columns of soot and smoke from forest fires, just enough to start absorbing the sunlight, some reasoned.

Then in April a team at the University of Wisconsin-Madison suggested that freak cloud behaviour over Greenland at the time might have caused the melting. Clouds normally block sunlight and keep the terrain below them cool.

But these clouds could have been thin enough to let solar radiation through, but thick enough to trap the consequential infra-red radiation from the ground, and raise the local temperature levels.

Continue reading at:  http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/greenlands_great_melt_is_pinned_on_climate_change_20130619/

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Study of Siberian cave reveals permafrost could thaw within decades

From Raw Story:  http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2013/06/19/study-of-siberian-cave-reveals-permafrost-could-thaw-within-decades/

By Agence France-Presse
Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Areas of permafrost could start to thaw within decades, freeing long-stored greenhouse gases to the atmosphere, according to a study released on Wednesday that measured ancient stalagmites in a Siberian cave.

Continuous permafrost — land that is frozen all year round — starts to thaw when temperatures rise around 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels, its authors said.

Earth has already warmed by around 0.8 C (1.4 F) since the start of the Industrial Revolution in the mid-18th century, and on current trends, the threshold could be reached “within 10-30 years,” they said.

“An urgent global effort (in) reducing emissions of greenhouse gases is required,” they warned.

A team led by Gideon Henderson at Oxford University’s Department of Earth Sciences looked at speleothems — stalagmites and stalactites — at Ledyanaya Lenskya cave near Lensk, eastern Siberia.

Speleothems grow when water from the surface seeps through the roof of the cave.

Caves themselves are usually at about the same temperature as the mean average air temperature at the surface.

Continue reading at:  http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2013/06/19/study-of-siberian-cave-reveals-permafrost-could-thaw-within-decades/

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Climate Change-Poverty Link Highlighted In World Bank Report

From Huffington Post:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/19/climate-change-poverty-link_n_3463748.html

Associated Press
06/19/13

STOCKHOLM — The World Bank says it will increasingly view its efforts to help developing countries fight poverty through a “climate lens.”

In a report released Wednesday, the international lending institution warned that heat waves, rising seas, more severe storms and other impacts of climate change will trap millions of people in poverty.

As a result, the Washington-based bank said it is stepping up support for efforts to curb climate change and to help the world adapt to it.

“Urgent action is needed to not only reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but also to help countries prepare for a world of dramatic climate change and weather extremes,” World Bank President Jim Yong Kim said in a statement.

Already by the 2030s, 40 percent of the land used to grow maize in sub-Saharan Africa will be unable to sustain that crop because of droughts and heat, the report said. Also by that time, sea level rise coupled with more intense cyclones could inundate much of Thailand’s capital, Bangkok, it said.

“At the World Bank Group, we are concerned that unless the world takes bold action now, a disastrously warming planet threatens to put prosperity out of reach of millions and roll back decades of development,” Kim said. “In response we are stepping up our mitigation, adaptation, and disaster risk management work, and will increasingly look at all our business through a `climate lens.'”

In a conference call, bank Vice President Rachel Kyte said the World Bank doubled its lending aimed at adaptation efforts to $4.6 billion in 2012.

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