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BUSTED: Twitter Caught Manipulating Tweets Of Former BlackRock Fund Manager Critical Of CIA, NSA


BUSTED: Twitter Caught Manipulating Tweets Of Former BlackRock Fund Manager Critical Of CIA, NSA

Posted: 23 Mar 2017 11:11 AM PDT

We Are Change

Article via Zero Hedge

Ed Dowd (@DowdEdward), former manager of BlackRock’s $15 billion Capital Appreciation Fund has a relatively small but influential Twitter following, ranging from Financial industry all-stars to prominent media personalities.

Since leaving BlackRock, Dowd has shifted gears – moving to Hawaii to launch his own equity fund from the luxury of his volcano-adjacent compound, while helping his wife develop a rapidly growing business of her own.

He’s also quite the subversive Twitter user – known for spotlighting MSM hypocrisy, roasting progressive politicians, and doling out sharp-witted rebukes of Ivory Tower overlords.

In early February, Dowd began noticing some odd behavior occurring with his Twitter account; throughout the day he would gain followers as he tweeted, while late at night followers were disappearing!

He began keeping track, and though it wasn’t happening every night, it penciled out to around half a percent of his followers each time it happened, effectively capping his audience.

Ed had questions; why was it almost always the same number of people? Who un-follows someone in the middle of the night?

Considering most of Dowd’s followers are in North America, the un-followers were likely asleep when it was happening. The logical conclusion was that Twitter had been actively pruning Ed’s audience to limit his growth on the platform – but keep reading, it gets better.

This isn’t the first time Twitter has throttled, censored, or banned conservatives who speak their mind. Documentarian, author, and noted Trump supporter Mike Cernovich (@cernovich) tweeted about his own fan base evaporating around the same time as Dowd began experiencing the un-follows:

Twitter censorship up, $TWTR stock goes down! https://t.co/zsndJGgPrR

— Mike Cernovich ?? (@Cernovich) February 9, 2017

Every day people are auto unfollowed. My real followe count closer to 1 million. pic.twitter.com/r38aSjtZDM

— Mike Cernovich ?? (@Cernovich) February 9, 2017

Others have noted the same phenomenon:

Twitter censorship! They’re deleting follows, not allowed over 20.5k. Images marked sensitive. They must have voted #Hillary

— Deplorable Tim ?? (@Timtravels007) March 19, 2017

In June of 2016, Twitter was accused of the same tactic against conservative pundit Milo Yiannopoulos (@Nero), shortly before he was was banned by the platform following a feud with SNL’s Leslie Jones in which Milo called her “Barely Literate.”

If u were following @Nero please check to see if you still are-@twitter censorship at work as many of his followers got switched to unfollow

— caren (@carengoodrich) June 15, 2016

Found another ‘unfollow’ that I DID NOT UNFOLLOW —> @Ayaan Nor would I have done. Added to list try to prevent #Twitter #Censorship antics

— sal (@tevet) June 18, 2016

And now it’s Retweets too!

After Ed Dowd noticed Twitter capping his follower count, he started paying closer attention to his tweets. Monday morning, Dowd made a decidedly subversive tweet pointing out that the NSA and CIA are “wiretapping” the entire country via continuously archived data collection – a story which Wired magazine broke in 2006 and gained tremendous clarity through the acts of whistleblower Edward Snowden.

When Dowd checked his twitter feed hours after sending the tweet, he saw that it had accumulated 13 Retweets and 38 Likes. Given the subject matter, he decided to take a screenshot. Lo and behold, upon reloading the tweet five minutes later, Dowd discovered that 11 retweets had mysteriously vanished!

Either eleven people decided to un-retweet Dowd within five minutes of each other, or Twitter decided to censor a tweet critical of the government by limiting it’s visibility. Thousands, possibly even hundreds of thousands of people connected to the eleven un-retweeted people were no longer able to see Dowd’s tweet.

About three hours later the tweet was up to 44 likes, and the retweets had climbed from 2 back to 12. Time for another screenshot…

A little over an hour later, Dowd’s tweet had once again been manipulated – dropping from 12 retweets to 6. Now it’s at 7.

Twitter suppression algos still un-retweeting your retweets.Notice my iPhone time at top of screenshots. 12 to 6 in about an hour. #nsa #cia pic.twitter.com/JipofpmwNN

— Ed (@DowdEdward) March 21, 2017

Outrageous!

While Twitter is a public company free to censor their own users, one wonders at what point the platform might be considered a public good, subject to the 1st amendment? After all, Social Media has become increasingly integral to human connectivity – not only serving to enhance casual communication, but also as an incredibly powerful tool which can reveal and disseminate truth on a massive scale.

For example, the sheer volume of the information made available in 2016 by Wikileaks was astounding. There was no table of contents – just raw emails. The symbiosis of investigative efforts between message boards like Reddit and 4chan would have just rattled around in their respective echo chambers were it not for Twitter and Facebook serving as lightning fast conduits for information to jump out of the “hive mind” and into the mainstream knowledgebase – “red pilling” any and all seeking the truth.

In short, the free flow of information is why Donald Trump is President – while the technocratic left have been decimated by their own inventions. This is why the MSM is fighting tooth and nail to brand and censor anything outside of the mainstream narrative as “fake news,” alongside Social Media platforms which continue to implement methods limiting the free speech of those who don’t Obey. For now, however, they have lost control.

Until and unless something is done to allow the free flow of information to thrive on platforms like Twitter, all we can do is try and shed light on the problem until it’s reflected in their share price and user base.

If nothing changes (or the problem gets worse) – we must either live with types of censorship Ed Dowd, Mike Cernovich, Milo, and countless others have been subject to – or leave for greener yet smaller pastures such as gab.ai in the hopes that as they will continue to remain tolerant of divergent opinions as they grow.


Content originally generated at iBankCoin.com
Follow on Twitter @ZeroPointNow

The post BUSTED: Twitter Caught Manipulating Tweets Of Former BlackRock Fund Manager Critical Of CIA, NSA appeared first on We Are Change.

Another Hoax: Israeli Man Arrested In Connection With Jewish School Bomb Threats

Posted: 23 Mar 2017 09:30 AM PDT

We Are Change

Israeli police have arrested a 19-year-old Israeli Jewish hacker as the primary suspect believed to be responsible for a string of bomb threats targeting Jewish community centers and schools across the U.S.

[RELATED: New Wave Of Bomb Threats Strike Several Jewish Schools, Community Centers]

According to authorities the unknown man was arrested in south Israel and was previously found unfit for the Israeli military.

“He’s the guy who was behind the JCC threats,” police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said, referring to the dozens of anonymous threats that have been called in to Jewish community centers in the U.S. over the past few months AP reported.

Rosenfeld added that the man used advanced equipment so he couldn’t be traced. “He didn’t use regular phone lines. He used different computer systems so he couldn’t be backtracked,” the police spokesman said.

Rosenfeld additionally stated that the arrested hacker was behind other threats including threatening a Delta Airlines flight from JFK airport New York in February which caused the plane to have to prematurely make an emergency landing.

The FBI confirmed the arrest in a statement but had no further comment.

FBI statement on the arrest in Israel in connection with threats to Jewish organizations. pic.twitter.com/FDQ00lZ08l

— FBI (@FBI) March 23, 2017

“Investigating hate crimes is a top priority for the FBI and we will continue to work to make sure all races and religions feel safe in their communities and in their places of worship,” the statement read. “At this time, we cannot provide additional information on the investigation.”

“Today’s arrest in Israel is the culmination of a large-scale investigation spanning multiple continents for hate crimes against Jewish communities across our country,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions said. “The Department of Justice is committed to protecting the civil rights of all Americans, and we will not tolerate the targeting of any community in this country on the basis of their religious beliefs.  I commend the FBI and Israeli National Police for their outstanding work on this case.”

According to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), there have been more than 150 bomb threats against Jewish community centers and day schools in 37 states and two Canadian provinces since Jan. 9.

U.S. authorities have also arrested a former journalist Juan Thompson for his role in allegedly threatening Jewish organizations. Thompson has been indicted in New York on one count of cyberstalking. It is not known if Thompson and the unnamed Israeli man were in communication with each other during the string of threats to Jewish centers or if the crime was a copycat crime.

[RELATED: Ex-Intercept Reporter Charged With Threatening Jewish Institutions to Vilify Ex-Girlfriend]

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UK Parliament Attacker Named As Khalid Masood Who Was Known To Police With Previous Convictions

Posted: 23 Mar 2017 09:21 AM PDT

We Are Change

MET Police have correctly named the suspect in yesterday’s terror attack in Westminster as 52-year-old Khalid Masood who was known to authorities for previous crimes unrelated to terrorism.

BREAKING: London police name Westminster attacker as Khalid Masood pic.twitter.com/QTU9PrT32z

— Reuters Top News (@Reuters) March 23, 2017

Yesterday the BBC channel 4 jumped the gun and incorrectly named the suspect as a “hate preacher” “Abu Izzadeen” that statement was then retracted after they found out that Izzadeen was in jail.

Today the Scotland Yard formally announced the man’s identity and noted, “there was no prior intelligence about his intent to mount a terrorist attack.”

Scotland Yard investigators also said that Masood had a number of different aliases that he used nd believed that he was born in Kent, but most recently lived in the West Midlands.

He also had a “range of previous convictions for assaults, including GBH, possession of offensive weapons and public order offenses,” a MET statement said.

His first conviction was in November 1983 for criminal damage, and his last conviction was in December 2003 for possession of a knife.

So far three out of the five victims killed by Masood have been named.

U.S. tourist Kurt Cochran, college worker Aysha Frade and police officer PC Keith Palmer were killed when the man used his vehicle as a battering ram and then proceeded to get out stabbing and injuring 30 others.

[RELATED: 5 Deaths Caused By Terrorist Attack At U.K. Parliament, 7 Arrested (Live Updates)]

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Terror Averted As Man Arrested After Trying to Run Over Pedestrians in Antwerp

Posted: 23 Mar 2017 08:51 AM PDT

We Are Change

A man has been arrested in the Belgian city of Antwerp, after reportedly trying to drive through a crowd of pedestrians. This comes only one day after the UK spent yesterday mourning the death of victims in a similar attack in London. It is unclear at this time if there are any connections between the two separate events.

BREAKING terror alert in #Antwerpen #Belgium suspicious car found with french plates bomb squad #Dovo has been called bomb & guns found pic.twitter.com/Viser68Due

— Europe 2424 (@europe2424) March 23, 2017

The Local Response

Belgian newspaper De Standaard claims this attempted attack was carried out by Mohamed R., a French national who was arrested immediately following the incident. The report continues to say that the man was driving at high speed and put pedestrians in danger several times. Thankfully, they were seemingly able to move out of the way.

French President Francois had this to say, according to the Daily Mail:

“It seemed to involve a French national, with possibly a certain number of weapons in his boot – it’s up to the judges to make a statement on that – who was looking to kill or at the very least create a dramatic incident… Therefore we must continue to be on high alert and mobilize our forces”

After Belgian soldiers attempted to stop the vehicle, the driver attempted to escape. As De Standaard reports, a rapid response team quickly established a perimeter around the vehicle and were able to apprehend the suspect. There have been no reported injuries or deaths.

Police reportedly found weapons in his car, including several knives, a shotgun, and gas canister. Local police arrested the man around 11 AM local time, and it seems that they were able to respond to this situation could become much worse.

Belgian Prime Minister was reported to say “we remain vigilant. Our security services have done excellent work.” It seems like this situation is now under control, for now, thanks to the quick response by the Belgian police and rapid response teams.

This is a breaking story. If there are any new developments on this story, we will post them here on We Are Change.

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iSpy: Wikileaks New CIA “Dark Matter” #Vault7 Release Shows Agency Infected Apple

Posted: 23 Mar 2017 08:30 AM PDT

We Are Change

Wikileaks releases ‘Dark Matter’ the latest batch of documents in the #Vault7 series.

March 23rd, 2017  – Wikileaks has released CIA Vault7 “Dark Matter,” and the newest leak contains several documents of CIA projects that infect Apple Mac computer firmware. Developed by the CIA’s embedded Development Branch (EDB), these documents explain the techniques used by the CIA to gain ‘persistence’ on Apple Mac devices and iPhones. This means that the infection persists even if the operating system is reinstalled.

RELEASE: CIA #Vault7 “Sonic Screwdriver” https://t.co/pgnfeODXVB pic.twitter.com/18BcVdqkqd

— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) March 23, 2017

Sonic Screwdriver 

Included in these documents are projects such as “Sonic Screwdriver“, among others. Explained by the CIA, this project is a “mechanism for executing code on peripheral devices while a mac laptop or desktop is booting” allowing an attacker to boot its attack software, as an example, from a USB stick, “even when a firmware password is enabled”. The Sonic Screwdriver infector is stored on the modified firmware of an Apple Thunderbolt-to-Ethernet adapter.

Dark Sea Skies

DarkSeaSkies” is “an implant that persists in the EFI firmware of an Apple MacBook Air computer” and consists of “DarkMatter”, “SeaPea” and “NightSkies”, respectively EFI, kernel-space and user-space implants.

Triton, Dark Mallet, DerStake1.4

Documents included on the “Triton” MacOSX malware, it’s infector “Dark mallet” and it’s EFI-persistent version “DerStake” can also be found in this release. DerStake1.4 manual released today dates to 2013, other Vault 7 documents display that as of 2016 the CIA is continuing to rely on and update these systems. The production of DerStake2.0 is currently taking place.

NightSkies 1.2

The release also contains the manual for the CIA’s “NightSkies 1.2” a “beacon/loader/implant tool”, for the Apple iPhone. Note that NightSkies reached 1.2 by 2008 and is expressly designed to be physically installed onto factory restored phones.  The iPhone supply chain is targeted and has been infected by the CIA since 2008.

While in the custody of a target, CIA assets are sometimes used to physically infect systems. It is very likely that many CIA physical access attacks have infected the targeted organization’s supply chain by interdicting mail orders and other shipments. Meaning to open, infect and resend which then leaves the United States or otherwise.

The post iSpy: Wikileaks New CIA “Dark Matter” #Vault7 Release Shows Agency Infected Apple appeared first on We Are Change.

London Shut Down Camera Network One Year Prior to Terrorist Attack

Posted: 23 Mar 2017 12:46 AM PDT

We Are Change

In June of 2016, about three months after the Brussels bombings, the Westminster Council voted to scrap a camera network of over 75 different spots in central London area.

BBC reports that the reason cited for this was to save “£1.7m in upgrade costs.” Instead of using this money to upgrade the cameras, they thought they could instead spend that money on other crime-fighting measures.

This move was reportedly labeled a “huge, huge loss to police” by London police expert David Videcette. It also lessened the city’s ability to monitor the terrorist attack that occurred recently on March 22.

It is unclear whether or not the loss of cameras had an impact on the recent investigation of the events in London.

UK police expert David Videcette was considerably unhappy about the loss of these cameras, which his website says were recording 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, and kept for up to 31 days.

He also reportedly told Sputnik that:

“When we talk about CCTV, we mean fixed point systems that cover geographic locations. The police have databases of what cameras are situated where, who they belong to and how the images can be obtained if an incident has taken place nearby. After a crime has taken place, particularly more serious crime and terrorism, officers will wander around looking for cameras that may be of use and obtain their images,”

At 8.10am will be speaking live to @NickFerrariLBC about security when Westminster CCTV is switched off @LBC https://t.co/2AgsD9uXXO

— David Videcette (@DavidVidecette) June 9, 2016

The Independent reports that the disabled camera service contributed to 1,300 average arrests per year, and 600 criminal incidents. For just 75 cameras, this is pretty impressive.

Regardless, the system was officially canceled in September 2016 and hasn’t been back since.

But We Shouldn’t Jump to Conclusions Here

This is an amazing coincidence, no doubt. However, it is important to keep in mind that there were still other cameras on sight. One company named Transport for London claims to have over 177 cameras which they claim are for “showing what’s happening on London’s streets.”

The Daily Mail reports that there are also 20 different kinds of cameras which watch British motorists. They also claim that there are over 1,500 Highways Agency CCTV cameras alone monitoring England’s roads. There are also apparently 1,000 more cameras being used which have the power to “monitor a motorist’s whole journey on main roads across the country.”

As investigation on the March 22 attacks continues to develop, maybe we will start to notice other trends. For now, it seems that we shouldn’t say that there was any hidden motive for the first 75 cameras to be taken down.

If there is any strange connection to the 75 cameras being taken down, we will report it. So save the tinfoil hat for the next Bilderberg Conference coming this summer.

Except this time you can thank We Are Change for showing the world how sinister and secretive this conference really is, and that we don’t need to talk about it with our tinfoil hats on anymore.

The post London Shut Down Camera Network One Year Prior to Terrorist Attack appeared first on We Are Change.

Who Are The Sikh? Abby Martin Profiles The Forgotten Victims Of Bigoted Hate Crimes

Posted: 22 Mar 2017 09:48 PM PDT

We Are Change

People of the Sikh faith, commonly mistaken for both Muslims and Hindus, are frequent targets of bigoted hate crimes—in fact, the first victim of post-9/11 hate crimes was a Sikh man. In 2016, attacks against Muslims—and people perceived to be Muslims, in particular Sikhs—has reached an all-time high.

With 70% of Americans not able to properly identify the Sikh community, Abby Martin visits a place of worship to learn about their experience in the United States and who they are as a people.

Promoting respect and understanding of this religious and cultural tradition, The Empire Files profiles this minority community with a long and rich history in America, and explores the roots of anti-Sikh racism with Georgetown Professor and civil rights attorney Arjun Singh Sethi.

The post Who Are The Sikh? Abby Martin Profiles The Forgotten Victims Of Bigoted Hate Crimes appeared first on We Are Change.

5 Creepy Things Your ISP Could Do If Congress Repeals The FCC’s Privacy Protections

Posted: 22 Mar 2017 08:36 PM PDT

We Are Change

Article via EFF by Jeremy Gillula

Why are we so worried about Congress repealing the FCC’s privacy rules for ISPs? Because we’ve seen ISPs do some disturbing things in the past to invade their users’ privacy. Here are five examples of creepy practices that could make a resurgence if we don’t stop Congress now.

Take Action

Call Congress and help keep creepy ISP practices a thing of the past!

5. Selling your data to marketers

Which ISPs did it before? We don’t know—but they’re doing it as you read this!

It’s no secret that many ISPs think they’re sitting on a gold mine of user data that they want to sell to marketers. What some people don’t realize is that some are already doing it. (Unfortunately they’re getting away with this for now because the FCC’s rules haven’t gone into effect yet.)

According to Ad Age, SAP sells a service called Consumer Insights 365, which “ingests regularly updated data representing as many as 300 cellphone events per day for each of the 20 million to 25 million mobile subscribers.” What type of data does Consumer Insights 365 “ingest?” Again, according to Ad Age, “The service also combines data from telcos with other information, telling businesses whether shoppers are checking out competitor prices… It can tell them the age ranges and genders of people who visited a store location between 10 a.m. and noon, and link location and demographic data with shoppers’ web browsing history.” And who is selling SAP their customers’ data? Ad Age says “SAP won’t disclose the carriers providing this data.”

In other words, mobile broadband providers are too afraid to tell you, their customers, that they’re selling data about your location, demographics, and browsing history. Maybe that’s because it’s an incredibly creepy thing to do, and these ISPs don’t want to get caught red-handed.

And speaking of getting caught red-handed, that brings us to…

4. Hijacking your searches

Which ISPs did it before? Charter, Cogent, DirecPC, Frontier, Wide Open West (to name a few)

Back in 2011, several ISPs were caught red-handed working with a company called Paxfire to hijack  their customers’ search queries to Bing, Yahoo!, and Google. Here’s how it worked.

When you entered a search term in your browser’s search box or URL bar, your ISP directed that query to Paxfire instead of to an actual search engine. Paxfire then checked what you were searching for to see if it matched a list of companies that had paid them for more traffic. If your query matched one of these brands (e.g. you had typed in “apple”, “dell”, or “wsj”, to name a few) then Paxfire would send you directly to that company’s website instead of sending you to a search engine and showing you all the search results (which is what you’d normally expect). The company would then presumably give Paxfire some money, and Paxfire would presumably give your ISP some money.

In other words, ISPs were hijacking their customers’ search queries and redirecting them to a place customers hadn’t asked for, all while pocketing a little cash on the side. Oh, and the ISPs in question hadn’t bothered to tell their customers they’d be sending their search traffic to a third party that might record some of it.

It’s hard to believe we’re still on the subtle end of the creepy spectrum. But things are about to get a whole lot more in-your-face creepy, with…

3. Snooping through your traffic and inserting ads

Which ISPs did it before? AT&T, Charter, CMA

This is the biggest one people are worried about, and with good reason—ISPs have every incentive to snoop through your traffic, record what you’re browsing, and then inject ads into your traffic based on your browsing history.

Plenty of ISPs have done it before—AT&T did it on some of their paid wifi hotspots; Charter did it with its broadband customers; and a smaller ISP called CMA did the same.

We don’t think this one requires much explaining for folks to understand just how privacy invasive this is. But if you need a reminder, we’re talking about the company that carries all your Internet traffic examining each packet in detail1 to build up a profile on you, which they can then use to inject even more ads into your browsing experience. (Or, even worse—they could hire a third-party company like NebuAd or Phorm to do all this for them.) That’s your ISP straight up spying on you to sell ads—and turning the creepiness factor up to eleven.2 And speaking of spying, we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention…

2. Pre-installing software on your phone and recording every URL you visit

Which ISPs did it before? AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile

When you buy a new Android phone, you probably expect it to come with some bloatware—apps installed by the manufacturer or carrier that you’re never going to use. You don’t expect it to come preinstalled with software that logs which apps you use and what websites you visit and sends data back to your ISP. But that’s exactly what was uncovered when security researcher and EFF client Trevor Eckhart did some digging into Carrier IQ, an application that came preinstalled on phones sold by AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile.

This is even creepier than number three on our list (watching your traffic and injecting ads), because at least with number three, your ISP can only see your unencrypted traffic. With Carrier IQ, your ISP could also see what encrypted (HTTPS) URLs you visit and record what apps you use.

Simply put, preinstalled software like Carrier IQ gives your ISP a window into everything you do on your phone. While mobile ISPs may have backed down on using Carrier IQ in the past (and the situation led to a class action lawsuit), you can bet that if the FCC’s privacy rules are rolled back there’ll be ISPs be eager to start something similar.

But none of these creepy practices holds a candle to the ultimate, creepiest thing ISPs want to do with your traffic, which is…

1. Injecting undetectable, undeletable tracking cookies in all of your HTTP traffic

Which ISPs did it before? AT&T, Verizon

The number one creepiest thing on our list of privacy-invasive practices comes courtesy of Verizon (and AT&T, which quickly killed a similar program after Verizon started getting blowback).

Back in 2014 Verizon Wireless decided that it was a good idea to insert supercookies into all of its mobile customers’ traffic. Yes, you read that right—it’s as if some Verizon exec thought “inserting tracking headers into all our customers’ traffic can’t have a down side, can it?” Oh, and, for far too long, they didn’t bother to explicitly tell their customers ahead of time.

But it gets worse. Initially, there was no way for customers to turn this “feature” off. It didn’t matter if you were browsing in Incognito or Private Browsing mode, using a tracker-blocker, or had enabled Do-Not-Track: Verizon ignored all this and inserted a unique identifier into all your unencrypted outbound traffic anyway. According to the FCC, it wasn’t until “two years after Verizon Wireless first began inserting UIDH, that the company updated its privacy policy to disclose its use of UIDH and began to offer consumers the opportunity to opt-out of the insertion of unique identifier headers into their Internet traffic.”

As a result, anyone—not just advertisers—could track you as you browsed the web. Even if you cleared your cookies, advertisers could use Verizon’s tracking header to resurrect them, which led to something called “zombie cookies.” If that doesn’t sound creepy, we don’t know what does.

As you can see, there’s a lot at stake in this fight. The FCC privacy rules congress is trying to kill would limit all of these creepy practices (and even ban some of them outright). So don’t forget to call your senators and representative right now—because if we don’t stop Congress from killing the FCC’s ISP privacy rules now, we may end up with a lot more than five creepy ISP practices in the future.

Take Action

Call Congress and help keep creepy ISP practices a thing of the past!


This article first appeared on EFF.org and was authored by Jeremy Gillula.

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Lead Poisoning In ‘Dozens Of California Communities’ Even Worse Than Flint, Michigan

Posted: 22 Mar 2017 08:19 PM PDT

We Are Change

Article via Zero Hedge

California, a state infamous for its environmental protections, including a $65 billion tunnel project being pushed by Governor Jerry Brown so as not to disrupt the habitat of a tiny, non-native fish species, may be facing a lead poisoning crisis more severe than Flint, Michigan.

According to blood test data obtained by Reuters, rates of childhood lead poisoning in several California cities surpass those measured in Flint, Michigan, with one Fresno locale showing rates nearly three times higher.

In fact, in Fresno’s downtown 93701 zip code, nearly 14% of children tested showed lead levels at or above 5 micrograms per deciliter of blood, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s current threshold for an elevated reading.  As the CDC noted, no level of lead exposure is safe, but children who test that high warrant an immediate public health response.

In all, per the map below, Reuters found at least 29 California neighborhoods where children had elevated lead tests at rates at least as high as in Flint.  “It’s a widespread problem and we have to get a better idea of where the sources of exposure are,” said California Assembly member Bill Quirk, who chairs the state legislature’s Committee on Environmental Safety and Toxic Materials.

And while elevated lead levels in children was found to be a fairly widespread issue across California, the poorer regions of the Central Valley where the majority of California’s crops are grown were found to be particularly at risk.

In all, Fresno County had nine zip code areas where high lead levels among children tested were at least as common as in Flint. The Reuters article in December documented nearly 3,000 locales nationwide with poisoning rates double those found in the Michigan city along the Flint River.

The city of Fresno battles high poverty rates and problems with substandard housing, both risk factors for lead exposure. Some locals are also concerned with drinking water, after unsafe levels of lead were detected in at least 120 Fresno homes last year.

Fresno County’s lead poisoning prevention program conducts outreach across the city, and a program health educator, Leticia Berber, says exposure remains too common.

Still, she expressed surprise at the area’s high rate. “We haven’t looked at it that way compared to Flint,” Berber said.

Of course, California’s Public Health Department attempted to downplay the results saying that comparisons between the state’s blood lead testing results and those from other states aren’t warranted. It said California tests children deemed most at risk for lead exposure, such as those enrolled in Medicaid or living in older housing.  “Testing of at-risk children, and not all children, skews California results to higher percentage of children tested showing lead exposure,” the state said.

But, as Reuters points out, testing that targets at-risk children is common across much of the country. 

Blood tests can’t determine the cause of a child’s exposure, but potential sources include crumbling old paint, contaminated soil, tainted drinking water or other lead hazards.

Meanwhile, elevated exposure levels were also found to be a problem in larger neighborhoods surrounding San Francisco and Los Angeles as well.

Lead exposure is common in other East Bay areas, including large parts of Oakland, and nearby Emeryville and Fremont, the new data shows.

In January, Oakland city council members introduced a resolution that would require property owners to obtain lead inspections and safety certifications before renting or selling houses and apartments built before 1978, when lead paint was banned.

Emeryville’s city council this month proposed an ordinance to require proof that contractors will adhere to Environmental Protection Agency standards – including safe lead paint removal practices – before they renovate older housing.

Emeryville Vice Mayor John Bauters said paint exposure isn’t the only risk. A long history of heavy industry in the East Bay also left contaminated soil in some areas.

In the Los Angeles area, the prevalence of high blood lead tests reached 5 percent or above in at least four zip codes during 2012.

Since August, a sampling of children tested from the Los Angeles neighborhoods of Westlake, Koreatown and Pico Union revealed about 5 percent with high lead results, said Jeff Sanchez, a public health specialist at Impact Assessment, which helps Los Angeles run its lead poisoning prevention program.

“The more you look,” Sanchez said, “the more you find.”

Perhaps it’s time to divert some of those funds allocated to protect endangered fish and bees to actually help the taxpayers of your state, Governor Brown.


This article first appeared on ZeroHedge.com and was authored by Tyler Durden.

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U.S. Airstrike Kills 33 Civilians Sheltering At Syrian School

Posted: 22 Mar 2017 08:17 PM PDT

We Are Change

US Confirms Strikes in ‘Vicinity,’ Says No Evidence They Hit School

Article via Antiwar

US forces were conducting an airdrop of Kurdish fighters around the Syrian town of al-Mansour, near the ISIS capital city of Raqqa, and carrying out heavy airstrikes to cover the drop. Among the airstrikes, one hit a school in the town which was being used to house civilians from the surrounding area displaced by the fighting. At least 33 civilians were killed.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said 33 dead had been recovered from the rubble so far, and that only two survivors had been recovered yet. Raqqa Is Being Slaughtered Silently, another NGO, reported the school sheltered around 50 displaced families, which might suggest the toll will continue to rise.

The Pentagon is, as always, evasive about the civilian casualties, confirming that they carried out multiple airstrikes in the immediate vicinity of the incident, but saying that there is “no evidence” that they hit a school in the course of that.

If confirmed, which seems probable, this would be the second US strike causing large civilian casualties in Syria in a week, with the previous attack further west in the village of al-Jineh destroying part of a mosque and killing at least 49 civilians, and according to some reports as many as 75.


This article first appeared on Antiwar.com and was authored Jason Ditz.

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Despite Russian Warning, Israel Pledges To Keep Bombing Syria

Posted: 22 Mar 2017 08:15 PM PDT

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Article via Geopolitics Alert by Jim Carey

Following a meeting between Vladimir Putin and the Israeli ambassador to Russia concerning Israel’s recent actions in Syria, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said his country will not change their policy on bombing Syrian army positions.

Tensions are high between Russia and Israel following several incursions into Syrian airspace by Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) jets that bombed Syrian army positions. These kind of operations from Israel are becoming increasingly common, but this week there was an increased need for someone to finally address the issue after the Syrian air defense forces claimed they shot down an Israeli jet in their airspace.

Although Israel denies these claims by the Syrian government, they do admit to operating in Syria despite their official position of neutrality in the Syrian conflict. Israel justifies these strikes by claiming that the primary targets are shipments of weapons they say are intended for Hezbollah.

Hezbollah is of course in Syria at the request of President Bashar al-Assad who they are assisting in his fight against the many jihadist groups throughout the country. Nobody denies that Hezbollah is hostile to Israel’s agenda and occupation of land in the Middle East but the excuse of Israel preemptively taking out weapons shipments they say will be turned on them has drawn skepticism since Hezbollah is using the majority of their fighting power and weaponry in Syria against jihadists.

This justification by Israel has been used several times to bomb ‘arms shipments’ that happen to be in the possession of the Syrian army. This resulted in Syria calling on the international community to take some action against Israel several times.

(CC BY 2.0) Flickr: thierry ehrmann

There was of course no action – or even condemnation – by any international body such as the United Nations. Since apparently nobody was going to do anything, Syria just dealt with these violations off international law as just another part of their multiple-front war. However, the latest bombings by Israel seemingly crossed some kind of line in the Syrian government’s opinion.

The bombing that finally triggered a response from Syria was near the ancient city of Palmyra, which Syrian troops just recently managed to reclaim from militants from the Islamic State (IS). The airstrike occurred just as Syrian troops were working to secure their newly obtained control of the historic city and making preparations to fend off possible counter attacks.

The Syrian government sees this attack as either very poorly timed or as a deliberate move by Israel to reverse this important gains made in the area around Palmyra by the military. Whatever the actual reasoning behind the bombing may be, this isn’t the first time Israel passed over or ignored terrorist positions in order to strike at Syrian forces in areas where crucial operations are taking place.

This is what triggered Syria to finally take actions against the Israeli operations. The attack on the Israeli jet brought the conflict between the two countries to a level where it finally had to be addressed.

Since most of Israel’s longtime regional adversaries are tied up actually fighting terrorists across Syria and Iraq, the need to address these incidents – as well as Israel’s threat to destroy Syrian air defenses – fell on Syria’s biggest ally, Russia. Russia also had troops in the vicinity of where the latest Israeli bombs were dropped.

Russia is possibly the best equipped country allied with Assad to deal with Israel since the two countries maintain diplomatic relations and Putin just recently met with Netanyahu. This relationship made the meeting between the Kremlin and Israel’s ambassador possible and more likely to be conducted respectfully.

There are few details of the meeting between Russian and Israeli officials but from what has been reported it seems Israel is sticking by their claim that they’re targeting Hezbollah. It’s unclear if there was anything resolved during the meeting in Moscow, Vladimir Putin publicly warned Israel that Russia would retaliate if they continued to violate Syrian airspace and endanger Russian forces.

Israel did not initially respond to this threat until today when Netanyahu directly addresses Putin’s vague threat. Netanyahu told reporters today that the ultimatum by Russia would not change Israel’s policy concerning operations in Syria.

Netanyahu pointed out that there is a level of cooperation between Israel and Russia in coordinating bombings in Syria but it doesn’t include disclosing targets beforehand due to concerns over “the security of their pilots.” This approach of course fails to account for the safety of Russian troops in Syria who, as stated above, have had several close calls with Israeli bombs.

It’s unclear how Russia will respond to Netanyahu’s dismissal of their concerns, but it is obvious that this will put Putin in a tough spot. Putin doesn’t usually find himself in no-win situations and rarely backs down to intimidation so any future operations by Israel in Syria (and Russia’s reaction) will need to watched closely.


This article first appeared on GeopoliticsAlert.com and was authored by Jim Carey.

The post Despite Russian Warning, Israel Pledges To Keep Bombing Syria appeared first on We Are Change.

VIDEO: Here Are The Questions That Need To Be Asked After London

Posted: 22 Mar 2017 06:35 PM PDT

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In this video, we cover the breaking news of the latest events in London with a heavy skepticism of government and media.

We raise some important questions about how the media portrayed today’s events and if you agree please share this video and overall message.


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House Intelligence Chairman: Trump’s Transition Team Were Under Surveillance

Posted: 22 Mar 2017 05:27 PM PDT

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BREAKING: U.S. House Intelligence Committee confirms U.S. spies intercepted Trump team communications “on numerous occasions” #Vault7

Posted by Wikileaks on Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Members of Donald Trump’s transition team, including President Trump himself, were under U.S. government surveillance following November’s election and may have had their communications “incidentally collected,” House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes has stated.

Nunes said the monitoring appeared to be done legally as a result of what’s called “incidental collection,” but he added that he was “alarmed” because the data collected was not related to the FBI’s investigation into Russia’s meddling in the election and was widely distributed across the intelligence community.

Nunes noted that he did not know whether the “incidental collection” happened at Trump Tower, and could not definitively say whether Trump’s communications were directly collected.

“I have seen intelligence reports that clearly show that the president-elect and his team were, I guess, at least monitored,” Nunes told reporters. “It looks to me like it was all legally collected, but it was essentially a lot of information on the president-elect and his transition team and what they were doing.”

Nunes further added that he is heading to the White House later today to brief President Trump on what has been learned, which Nunes said came from “sources who thought that we should know it.” He also expressed that he would try to get more information by Friday from the FBI, CIA and NSA.

What’s known as incidental collection occurs when a person inside the United States communicates with a foreign target of U.S. surveillance. In most cases, the identities of U.S. citizens are supposed to be kept secret but can be “unmasked” by intelligence officials if deemed necessary.

Press Secretary Sean Spicer during a press conference said that he was concerned about Trump transition team members being unmasked.

“An American citizen who’s caught up in a surveillance has, by rule of law, has their name protected,” Spicer said. “The idea that individuals’ names were unmasked and let known suggests — raises serious questions. Why was that name unmasked, what was the intention of doing that?”

This comes amid the denial by Democrats that Obama surveilled Trump tower and the suspension of Fox News’ legal analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano for claiming that Obama used the GCHQ to tap Trump and his associates.

[RELATED: Tomi Lahren and Judge Napolitano Both Suspended From Their Publications]

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Social Democrat Steinmeier Sworn In As German President

Posted: 22 Mar 2017 03:20 PM PDT

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Frank-Walter Steinmeier has been officially inaugurated as Germany’s 12th president.

Leading Social Democrat Frank-Walter Steinmeier was elected as Germany’s 12th president on February 12th, 2017. After Joachim Gauck had declined to take a 2nd term due to his age of 77 years. News.au  reports that Steinmeier took the oath of office at a joint session of both houses of parliament. He later gave his inaugural speech on Wednesday. Steinmeier was previously replaced in his post as foreign minister by Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel earlier this year.

During his tenure as foreign minister, Steinmeier was particularly critical of President Donald Trump’s campaign. Being a proponent of a transatlantic partnership, adding it: “is strong only if it is cherished on both sides.”

“We have never experienced such polarization in American domestic politics, and no one, not even [U.S. President Donald] Trump himself, can deny that Trump played a part in it too.”

Steinmeier claims to be taken back over President Trump’s alleged lack of understanding of the importance of trade stating: “Until a few days ago I could never have imagined that a French president and Chinese president would have to instruct their new American colleague about the advantages of an open world and free trade.”

Steinmeier is sure to have a greater degree of influence as the prospective future president. He will likely become a keen adviser to Chancellor Merkel, who shares a common distaste for President Trump’s dismissal of any transatlantic agreements. Before the election, Steinmeier called the now President of the United States a “hate preacher” and that Trump’s presidency marked “the end of the old world order.”

A key part of Steinmeiers’ inaugural speech was to urge Turkey’s President Erdogan to ease tensions between their countries. After, Erdogan’s Nazi-regime commented towards the German government: “Do not cut the ties to those people who want partnership with Turkey! Respect the rule of law and the freedom of media and journalists! And release Deniz Yucel.”

Despite his views, Steinmeier is favourable among the German public. A great deal of people in Germany have seen the 61-year-old politician as the icon of German diplomacy and foreign policy. He previously served as head of the Chancellery under former Chancellor Gerhard Schröder. He also served as a parliamentary party leader while the SPD was in the opposition.

Spokesmen of the CDU’s conservative Bavarian sister party have also praised the new president. Ilse Aigner, a member of the CSU and also Germany’s minister for food, agriculture and consumer protection, noted Steinmeier to be a memorable and efficient candidate for the president’s office. Furthermore, leading EU parliamentarian for the CSU, Manfred Weber, stated that he expects Steinmeier will give consistency in his tenure as president, adding: “Germany needs strong leadership, especially in the current situation.”

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CIA Declassified Document: A Torture Manual?

Posted: 22 Mar 2017 03:18 PM PDT

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A request filed by Jeffrey Kaye through the Freedom of Information Act resulted in a 128 page declassified document.

It illustrates that the CIA not only has a long history of engaging in torture and interrogation tactics.

They also guide others to become the best interrogator possible. NSA archives also contain this document which states interrogations harnessed foreign intelligence during the Cold War era:

The pages go on to describe how an interrogation is best carried out, from beginning to end. Details include information on when to inflict pain, how to threaten, and properly incarcerate your prisoner.

All of this was highly illegal at the time. The document makes no effort to hide the fact that what they were doing was against the law. Kubark, a pseudonym for the CIA described the illegality of their practices in the text below:

The fact that the CIA had no legal authority to conduct these interrogations, it didn’t stop them from being carried out. In fact, there was a system set in place for a prospective interrogation to become approved. (#3 is blank on the released document):

The Qualifications of Being a Successful Interrogator

Sympathy is one of the leading qualifications to torture somebody. This paragraph goes on to describe the “four qualifications of chief importance” to becoming an interrogator: “(1) enough operation training and experience to permit quick recognition of leads; (2) real familiarity with the language to be used; (3) extensive background knowledge about the interrogatee’s native country (and intelligence service, if employed by one); and (4) a genuine understanding of the source as a person.” The document goes on with more detail:

CIA agents that were among the first to take part in an interrogation were assigned to “guard duty” and “supplementary tasks”. Before taking on the role as a lead interrogator they were required to “view the process closely before taking charge.”

The 9 Personality Types of Prospective Interrogation Victims

The CIA interrogation manual also lists prospective interrogatees into 9 possible personality types. Much focus has been placed on labeling individuals into a personality type before figuring out how to interrogate them.

The nine personality types are the orderly-obstinate character, the optimistic character, the greedy demanding character, the anxious self-centered character, the guilt-ridden character, the character wrecked by success, the schizoid or strange character, the exception, and the average or normal character.

One of these personality types, “the guilt-ridden character” is specifically mentioned as someone who should be “punished” in order to force cooperation.

Another one of these personality types, “The greedy, demanding character” was listed as someone who may commit suicide as a result of the interrogation:

The Setting of a CIA Interrogation

The document below shows how to properly set up an interrogation room and the interrogation itself. Showing that a lot of thought and practice methods were applied. Described in the document is one method of torturing victims by forcing them to stand for lengthy periods of time:

The document then goes on to say that a “Do Not Disturb” sign or something similar should be considered for use. That telephones should be unplugged. Recording and photography devices should also be concealed and turned on somewhere in the room.

Other Interrogation Tactics Described in the Document

Described below are tactics learned by CIA agents. To get an interrogatee to talk without resorting to coercive measures. The agents would implement conversational and manipulative techniques. These methods of “homeostatic derangement” pain, narcosis and sleep loss were the physical aspects of the interrogation.

Pain

Notably the CIA considered the threat of pain is more prudent than the act of torture itself. On pages 90-91 it states, “the threat to inflict pain, for example, can trigger fears more damaging than the immediate sensation of pain… whereas the materialization of the fear, the infliction of some form of punishment, is likely to come as a relief.”

In other words, the CIA document claims that many people have a higher tolerance for pain than they imagine. That any sort of violent act will immediately help them realize the pain is not that bad. They should hold out. As a result, psychological and conversational manipulation were considered effective means of interrogation.

However, this is not to say that pain is never used as a tactic. If pain is never used, they wouldn’t have listed so many reasons why it should be avoided:

Hypnosis

The information on page 95 suggests hypnosis is a serious technique.  Psychologists, psychiatrists or M.D’s where the professions of choice as it “it can produce irreversible psychological damage.” This isn’t to say that it was never used.

Narcosis

Individuals interrogated by CIA agents were also put under the influence of drugs. Described on page 100, is to cause “psychotic manifestations such as hallucinations, illusions, delusions, or disorientation.” Before we can take a guess as to what this substance or substances are, the document is quick to shoot down an opportunity to name them for us:

Conclusions

Before ending with a set of sources and an index. The document concludes by giving us a basic rundown on the coercive interrogation tactics. These conclusions touch upon many of the methods described above, such as pain, hypnosis, and narcosis, along with others.

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