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Archive for December, 2011|Monthly archive page

Iran announces long-range missile test amid Strait of Hormuz row with U.S.

In Americas, World News on December 30, 2011 at 5:50 pm

By Haaretz

Amid a verbal row with the United States over blocking the Strait of Hormuz, a vital oil shipping route, Iran proclaimed on Friday that it will start testing long range missiles in the Persian Gulf.

“On Saturday morning the Iranian navy will test several of its long-range missiles in the Persian Gulf,” navy deputy commander Admiral Mahmoud Moussavi told Fars news agency.

The testing of the missiles is part of ongoing navy maneuvers in the Persian Gulf and, according to Moussavi, the main and final phase is preparing the navy for confronting the enemy in a warlike situation.

The maneuver has been overshadowed by a verbal row between Iran and the US over an Iranian threat to close the Strait of Hormuz in the Persian Gulf, through which 40 per cent of the world’s ship-borne crude is passed.

The spark for the row was a Tuesday remark by Iranian Vice President Mohammd-Reza Rahimi that, “if Western countries sanctioned Iranian oil, then Iran would not allow one drop of oil to cross the Strait of Hormuz.”

Following his remarks, Iranian navy commander Admiral Habibollah Sayari said, although there was…

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Big Brother is watching you shop

In Big Brother, World News on December 30, 2011 at 5:49 pm

By Bloomberg

On the Web, every click and jiggle of the mouse helps e-tailers customize sites and maximize the likelihood of a purchase. Brick-and-mortar stores have long wanted to track consumers in a similar fashion, but following atoms is a lot harder than following bits. For the most part, they’ve been forced to rely on consumer surveys, says Herb Sorensen, an adviser at market research firm TNS Retail & Shopper (WPPGY) in London. “The problem with survey research is the consumer can say one thing and do another.”

To get a better understanding of their customers in real time, mall operators are monitoring shoppers’ behavior with devices that track mobile-phone signals, while retailers including Montblanc (CFRUY), T-Mobile (DTEGF), andFamily Dollar Stores (FDO) are finding new uses for old tools such as in-store security cameras. The goal is to divine which variables affect a purchase, then act with Web-like nimbleness to deploy more salespeople, alter displays, or put out red blouses instead of blue. Until recently, “stores have been a black hole,” says Alexei Agratchev, chief executive officer of consultancy RetailNext. “People were convinced something was true and spending tens of millions based on that” without evidence to…

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US aircraft carrier ‘spotted’ in Iran wargames zone

In Americas, World News on December 30, 2011 at 5:47 pm

By YNews

A US aircraft carrier entered a zone near the Strait of Hormuz being used by the Iranian navy for wargames, an Iranian official said Thursday amid rising tensions over the key oil-transit channel.

“A US aircraft carrier was spotted inside the maneuver zone… by a navy reconnaissance aircraft,” Commodore Mahmoud Mousavi, the spokesman for the Iranian exercises, told the official IRNA news agency.

The Iranian aircraft took video and photos of the US vessel, he added.

The US aircraft carrier was believed to the USS John C. Stennis, one of the US navy’s biggest warships.

US officials announced Wednesday that the ship and its accompanying battle group moved through the Strait of Hormuz, a narrow stretch at the entrance to the Gulf that is the world’s most important choke point for oil shipments.

After warnings from the Iranian government and navy this week that Iran could close the strait if threatened by further Western sanctions, the US Defense Department Iran, which is already subject to several rounds of sanctions over its nuclear program, has repeatedly said it could target the Strait…

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2012: What’s in Store…

In World News on December 27, 2011 at 7:35 am

By RT

The Private Global Power Elite embedded in major governments is dead set on imposing World Government on us sooner rather than later. Let’s look at 12 mega-processes – veritable “Triggers” – that we infer they are using to achieve their goals.

All roads lead to World Government.  This should come as no surprise.  London’s Financial Times openly articulated this view in an article by their chief foreign affairs commentator, Gideon Rachman, published on 8 December 2009, whose title said it all: “And Now for a World Government.” These goals are echoed by the Trilateral Commission, CFR and Bilderberg insiders – even by the Vatican.

Macro-managing planet Earth is no easy matter. It requires strategic and tactical planning by a vast think-tank network allied to major elite universities whereby armies of academics, operators, lobbyists, media players and government officers interface, all abundantly financed by the global corporate and banking superstructure.

They do this holistically, knowing that they operate on different stages moving at very different speeds:

  • Financial Triggers move at lightning speed thanks to electronic information technology that can make or break markets, currencies and entire countries in just hours or days;
  • Economic Triggers move slower: manufacturing cars, aircraft, food, clothes, building plants and houses takes months;
  • Political Triggers tied to the “democratic system” put politicians in power for several years;
  • Cultural Triggers require entire generations to implement; this is where PsyWar has reached unprecedented “heights”.

Risk-managing this whole process takes into account the many pitfalls and surprises in store.  So each plan in every field counts, with…

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Monsanto’s GMO corn linked to organ failure

In Tech, World News on December 27, 2011 at 7:34 am

By Huffington Post

In a study released by the International Journal of Biological Sciences, analyzing the effects of genetically modified foods on mammalian health, researchers found that agricultural giant Monsanto’s GM corn is linked to organ damage in rats.

According to the study, which was summarized by Rady Ananda at Food Freedom, “Three varieties of Monsanto’s GM corn – Mon 863, insecticide-producing Mon 810, and Roundup® herbicide-absorbing NK 603 – were approved for consumption by US, European and several other national food safety authorities.”

Monsanto gathered its own crude statistical data after conducting a 90-day study, even though chronic problems can rarely be found after 90 days, and concluded that the corn was safe for consumption. The stamp of approval may have been premature, however.

In the conclusion of the IJBS study, researchers wrote:

“Effects were mostly concentrated in kidney and liver function, the two major diet detoxification organs, but in detail differed with each GM type. In addition, some effects on heart, adrenal, spleen and blood cells were also frequently noted. As there normally exists sex differences in liver and kidney metabolism, the highly statistically significant disturbances in the function of these organs, seen between male and female rats, cannot be dismissed as biologically insignificant as has been proposed by others. We therefore conclude that our data strongly suggests that these GM maize varieties induce a state of hepatorenal toxicity….These substances have never before been an integral part of the human or animal diet and therefore their health consequences for those who consume them, especially over long time periods are currently unknown.”

Monsanto has immediately responded to the study, stating that the research is “based on faulty analytical methods and reasoning and do not call into question the safety findings for these products.”

The IJBS study’s author Gilles-Eric Séralini responded to the Monsanto statement on…

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Two thirds of U.S. foreign aid is really military aid

In Americas, World News on December 27, 2011 at 7:27 am

By AllGov

When some Americans complain that foreign aid is wasting taxpayer money abroad that could be put to better use at home, they may not realize that today’s version of foreign aid isn’t what it used to be. Call it the Pentagon-zation of U.S. foreign assistance.

Until a few years ago, the State Department was the leading U.S. government agency when it came to doling out foreign aid. But beginning in the second term of George W. Bush’s presidency, and continuing through the Obama administration, the Department of Defense has surpassed the State Department in supporting foreign initiatives, most of which have been military oriented.

For the past two years, the Pentagon has been given $10 billion more than the State Department for foreign aid projects. With $17 billion, Defense officials plan for the coming year to invest in foreign military and police training, counter-drug assistance, counterterrorism activities and infrastructure projects, among other programs.

Among the expenditures included in the recently passed 2012 National Defense Authorization Act are $1.1 billion to the government of Pakistan for alleged counterinsurgency efforts and $415 million for two programs known euphemistically as the Combatant Commander Initiative Fund and the Commander Emergency Response Fund. Translated into everyday English, this means cash that can be handed out by U.S. commanders.

Gordon Adams of the Stimson Center told iWatch News that by shifting foreign aid to military…

Vladimir Putin calls John McCain ‘nuts’ in outspoken attack

In Americas, World News on December 17, 2011 at 12:17 am

By Alex Spillius

The Russian prime minister called the former presidential candidate “nuts” in response to Twitter comment about Russia’s parliamentary elections that drew allegations of fraud and triggered large protests.

Mr McCain’s tweet read: “Dear Vlad, The Arab Spring is coming to a neighbourhood near you.”

Mr Putin turned stony faced when asked about the tweet on his annual televised phone-in.

“Mr McCain fought in Vietnam. I think that he has enough blood of peaceful citizens on his hands. It must be impossible for him to live without these disgusting scenes anymore.

“Mr McCain was captured and they kept him not just in prison, but in a pit for several years,” he said. “Anyone [in his place] would go nuts.”

Referring to Col Gaddafi’s capture and killing, he said: “Who did this? Drones, including American ones. They attacked his column. Then using the radio – through the special forces, who should not have been there – they brought in the so-called opposition and fighters, and killed him without court or investigation.”

The Pentagon immediately dismissed the charge as “ludicrous”.

“The assertion that US special operations forces were involved in the killing of Colonel Gaddafi is ludicrous,” spokesman Capt John Kirby told AFP as of US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta visited…

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‘Man of Mass Destruction’? RT challenges Iraq War architect

In Americas, World News on December 17, 2011 at 12:13 am

By RT

As the day draws closer for the US to withdraw its troops from Iraq, many question how Iraq will fare on its own. RT spoke to one of the chief architects of this campaign, who shared his views on the justifications and failings behind the invasion. ¬A former assistant to the US Secretary of Defense under President Ronald Reagan and a chairman of the Defense Policy Board under George W. Bush, Richard Perle is considered one of the most controversial figures in US politics.

Hidden industry dupes social media users

In Big Brother on December 17, 2011 at 12:11 am

By Tom Simonite

Paying people to influence discussions in social media is big business in China and the U.S.

A trawl of Chinese crowdsourcing websites—where people can earn a few pennies for small jobs such as labeling images—has uncovered a multimillion-dollar industry that pays hundreds of thousands of people to distort interactions in social networks and to post spam.

The report’s authors, at the University of California, Santa Barbara, also found evidence that crowdsourcing sites in the U.S. are similarly dominated by ethically questionable jobs. They conclude that the rapid growth of this way of making money will make paid shills a serious security problem for websites and those who use them around the world. A paper describing their results is available on the Arxiv pre-print server.

Ben Zhao, an associate professor of computer science at UCSB (and a TR35 winner in 2006), started looking into the largely uncharted crowdsourcing industry in China after working closely with RenRen, a social network that is sometimes called the “Facebook of China,” to track malicious activity on the site. Zhao was intrigued to see a lot of relatively sophisticated attempts to send spam and promote brands by users that appeared to be working with specific agendas.

When he and colleagues investigated the source of that activity, the team was surprised by what it found, says Zhao: “Evil crowdsourcing on a very large scale.” Influencing public opinion with fake “grassroots” activity is known as astroturfing, leading Zhao to coin the term “crowdturfing,” since it is done via large crowdsourcing sites.

The researchers discovered that a large amount of the suspect activity in China originated from two crowdsourcing sites: Zhubajie, the largest in China, and Sandaha. There, people are openly offered the equivalent…

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Clinton: Biological attacks ‘are serious security challenge’

In Americas on December 8, 2011 at 10:43 pm

By The Raw Story

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton sought on Wednesday to rally international efforts against the threat of a biological attack, saying the warning signs were “too serious to ignore”.

Clinton spoke at a meeting on the Biological Weapons Convention, a decades-old ban on bio-weapons currently under review at a three-week conference in Geneva.

“I am here today because we view the risk of a bio-weapons attack as both a serious national security challenge and a foreign policy priority,” Clinton said.

“In an age when people and diseases cross borders with growing ease, bio-weapons are a transnational threat.

“We can only protect against them with transnational action.”

Scientific advances may have made it possible to prevent and cure more diseases but they have also made it easier for terrorists to develop biological weapons, Clinton warned.

“Even as it becomes easier to develop these weapons, it remains extremely difficult to detect them, because almost any biological research can serve dual purposes.

“The same equipment and technical knowledge used for legitimate research to save lives can also be used to manufacture deadly diseases.”

The most high-profile delegate at the review meeting, Clinton said halting the spread of weapons of mass destruction was a “top goal” of…

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