U.S. Security Will Be Put at Risk With Future Water Shortages


Water shortages, polluted water and floods will increase the risk of instability in nations important to U.S. national security interests, according to a new U.S. intelligence community assessment released Thursday.

“During the next 10 years, many countries important to the United States will almost certainly experience water problems – shortages, poor water quality, or floods – that will contribute to the risk of instability and state failure and increase regional tensions,” the report from the office of the director of national intelligence states.


The assessment focused on seven key river basins located in the Middle East, Asia and Africa that are considered strategically important to the United States: the Indus, Jordan, Mekong, Nile, Tigris-Euphrates, Amu Darya and Brahmaputra basins.

The intelligence report indicates conflict between nations over water problems is unlikely in the next 10 years, but after that, water in shared basins will increasingly be used by some nations as leverage over their neighbors, the report says.

A senior U.S. intelligence official who briefed reporters on the report said, “It’s very difficult to be specific about where because it depends upon what individual states do and what actions are taken on water issues between states.”

The study also warns of the potential for water to be used as a weapon, “with more powerful upstream nations impeding or cutting off downstream flow.”

Water could also become a terrorist tool, according to the report. The U.S. official said that, “because terrorists are seeking more high visibility items to attack, in some cases we identified fragile water infrastructure that could potentially be a target for terrorism activity.” A likely target would be dams.

The official also said terrorist groups could take advantage of large movements of people displaced by water issues in vulnerable nations.

The report indicates water supplies will not keep up with the increasing demand posed by a growing world population.

Climate change will further aggravate the water problems in many areas, as will continued economic development, the report says.

“The lack of adequate water,” it says, “will be destabilizing factor in some countries because they do not have the financial resources or the technical ability to solve their internal water problems.”

Food markets are threatened by depletion of ground water in some agriculture areas of the world. Unless corrective steps are taken, food production will decline, increasing the stress on global markets, the report predicts.

The intelligence community assessed that by 2040, water shortages and pollution will harm the economic performance of important trading partners.

The study does not name specific countries, because it is based on a classified national intelligence estimate.

But the report indicates that increasing populations, industrial development and climate change in South Asia, the Middle East and North Africa will make it difficult for those regions to deal with water problems.

The report does say that improved water management and investment in water-related sectors, such as agriculture, hydroelectric power and water treatment, could compensate for increased demand over next 30 years.

Since agriculture uses nearly 70% of all ground water, the report states it has the most potential to provide relief if technological changes are implemented such as large-scale drip irrigation systems.

The intelligence study suggests developing countries are likely to turn to the United States to lead the effort to resolve water problems, because of its technological capabilities.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who was concerned about how global water problems could affect U.S. security interests over the next 30 years, requested the study on global water security. The National Intelligence Council prepared the assessment with contributions from 10 intelligence organizations.  

At a World Water Day event at the State Department on Thursday,  Clinton labeled the report “sobering,” and called on everyone to read it to “see how imperative clean water and access to water is to future peace, security, and prosperity, globally.” 

The Secretary also used the occasion to announce a new effort called the U.S. Water Partnership which bring together experts in the private sector and government to find system wide solutions to water problems.


John Wilkes Booth Bobblehead Dolls


GETTYSBURG, Pa. — Bobblehead dolls of the man who assassinated President Abraham Lincoln have been pulled from sale at the Gettysburg National Military Park visitors’ center bookstore.

The dolls of John Wilkes Booth with a handgun were removed from shelves on Saturday, a day after a reporter for Hanover’s The Evening Sun newspaper asked about them, officials said.

“On rare occasions, there’s an item that might cause concern, and obviously the bobbleheads appeared to be doing that,” Gettysburg Foundation spokeswoman Dru Anne Neil said Tuesday.

The Booth dolls, featuring big heads attached to the bodies by springs so they bobble, were available for only about a week before the park superintendent, the foundation president and the bookstore manager decided they shouldn’t be for sale, Neil said.

She declined to state the reason for the decision, and messages left Tuesday for the park and the company that operates the bookstore weren’t immediately returned.

The Booth dolls, which are about 7 inches tall and come in boxes that look like the inside of the theater where Lincoln was killed, sell online for about $20 each. They have proved to be popular, as more than 150 of the original run of 250 have been sold, and more are being made, Kansas City, Mo.-based manufacturer BobbleHead LLC said.

“There’s a market there,” sales manager Matt Powers said. “We like to let the customer decide if it’s a good item or not.”

Confederate sympathizer Booth shot and killed Lincoln at Ford’s Theatre in Washington in April 1865, as the Civil War was ending. He fled and was tracked into Virginia, where he was killed.

Gettysburg was the site of a July 1863 Civil War battle in which the Union Army repelled a Confederate invasion of the North under Gen. Robert E. Lee. The battle is often considered the turning point of the war.


Contingency Plans in Wyoming for the Complete Economic or Political Collapse of the Unites States


The Wyoming House of Representatives on Tuesday narrowly voted down legislation to launch a study into what the state should do in the event of a complete economic or political collapse in the United States.

House Bill 85 was rejected 30-27 in a final House vote, as opponents said the task force wasn’t needed and that the bill’s message had already been delivered thanks to significant national media coverage of the legislation in recent days.

The bill would have created a state-run government continuity task force, which would study and prepare Wyoming for potential catastrophes, from disruptions in food and energy supplies to a complete meltdown of the federal government.

The task force also would have looked at the feasibility of Wyoming issuing its own alternative currency, if needed. The original legislation asked for $32,000 to fund the task force; the Joint Appropriations Committee subsequently halved that.

The bill’s sponsor, state Rep. David Miller, R-Riverton, said he didn’t anticipate any major crises hitting America anytime soon. But with the national debt exceeding $15 trillion and protest movements growing around the country, Miller said Wyoming — which has a comparatively good economy and sound state finances — needs to make sure it’s protected should any unexpected emergency hit the U.S.

The bill received prominent media coverage around the state and the nation, especially after lawmakers tacked on a facetious amendment instructing the task force to examine conditions under which Wyoming would need to implement its own military draft, raise a standing army, and acquire strike aircraft and an aircraft carrier.

Many legislative supporters of HB85 said that they were caught off-guard by the amendment, and that several supporters didn’t realize what was going on until the amendment had passed. They stripped the amendment out of the bill on Monday.

Before Tuesday’s vote, Miller said he was optimistic the bill would pass the House. But after the legislation was rejected, Miller said the only things he was surprised about were that the bill made it as far as it did and the overwhelming show of support he’s seen for the proposal, both inside and outside Wyoming.

“I think the political class here in Cheyenne has a little myopic view of the world in relation of what government can do to people,” Miller said, when asked why he believed the bill failed. “I think people should wake up that there’s a lot more people out there concerned about this issue than they realize.”

State Rep. Jeb Steward, R-Encampment, said he voted against the bill Tuesday because he has an aversion to forming more government task forces — especially ones that he thinks aren’t needed.

“To me, they didn’t make a good case for the purpose or need of it,” he said. “It’s just not a priority for me at any price.”

House Speaker Ed Buchanan, R-Torrington, said he voted “no” on the final vote because he believed the proposal had achieved its goal: bringing attention to the serious issue of the mounting national debt.

“We sent the message, and it was received,” Buchanan said. “We had a little fun with it, tongue-in-cheek. But that’s what got the attention. That’s what that made sure the message was received.”

Miller said Tuesday he wasn’t yet sure whether he or another legislator would try again next session to get the task force passed.

Read more: http://trib.com/news/state-and-regional/govt-and-politics/end-time-for-wyoming-doomsday-bill/article_6c8f9ede-8c62-5025-a1c7-a9c37a8f0820.html#ixzz1nmuYUn1M

Thanks to Dr. Stricker for bringing this to the attention of the It’s Interesting community.

FBI Ordered to Turn Off Thousands of GPS Tracking Devices



The Supreme Court’s recent ruling overturning the warrantless use of GPS tracking devices has caused a “sea change” inside the U.S. Justice Department, according to FBI General Counsel Andrew Weissmann.

Mr. Weissmann, speaking at a University of San Francisco conference called “Big Brother in the 21st Century” on Friday, said that the court ruling prompted the FBI to turn off about 3,000 GPS tracking devices that were in use.

These devices were often stuck underneath cars to track the movements of the car owners. In U.S. v. Jones, the Supreme Court ruled that using a device to track a car owner without a search warrant violated the law.

After the ruling, the FBI had a problem collecting the devices that it had turned off, Mr. Weissmann said. In some cases, he said, the FBI sought court orders to obtain permission to turn the devices on briefly – only in order to locate and retrieve them.

Mr. Weissmann said that the FBI is now working to develop new guidelines for the use of GPS devices. He said the agency is also working on guidelines to cover the broader implications of the court decision beyond GPS devices.

For instance, he said, agency is now “wrestling” with the legality of whether agents can lift up the lid of a trash can without committing trespass. The majority opinion in U.S. v. Jones held that the agents had trespassed when placing the GPS device on a car without warrant.

He said the agency is also considering the implications of the concurring justices – whose arguments were largely based on the idea that a person has a reasonable expectation of privacy in the totality of their movements, even if those movements are in public.

“From a law enforcement perspective, even though its not technically holding, we have to anticipate how it’s going to go down the road,” Mr. Weissmann said.

Thanks to Kebmodee for bringing this to the attention of the It’s Interesting community:  http://kebmodee.blogspot.com/

Here is a story about one student who found an FBI tracking device on his car:  http://azstarnet.com/article_92f22dac-9869-5399-a7d2-5f51977fb3cb.html

ACLU Lawsuit Against Obama Administration Over Assassination of American Citizens


The ACLU Wednesday filed a lawsuit against various agencies of the Obama administration — the Justice and Defense Departments and the CIA — over their refusal to disclose any information about the assassination of American citizens. In October, the ACLU filed a FOIA request demanding disclosure of the most basic information about the CIA’s killing of 3 American citizens in Yemen: Anwar Awlaki and Samir Khan, killed by missiles fired by a U.S. drone in September, and Awlaki’s 16-year-old son, Abdulrahman, killed by another drone attack two weeks later.

The ACLU’s FOIA request sought merely to learn the legal and factual basis for these killings — meaning: tell us what legal theories you’ve adopted to secretly target U.S. citizens for execution, and what factual basis did you have to launch these specific strikes? The DOJ and CIA responded not only by refusing to provide any of this information, but refused even to confirm if any of the requested documents exist; in other words, as the ACLU put it yesterday, “these agencies are saying the targeted killing program is so secret that they can’t even acknowledge that it exists.” That refusal is what prompted Wednesday’s lawsuit (in December, the New York Times also sued the Obama administration after it failed to produce DOJ legal memoranda “justifying” the assassination program in response to a FOIA request from reporters Charlie Savage and Scott Shane, but the ACLU’s lawsuit seeks disclosure of both the legal and factual bases for these executions).

Thanks to Kebmodee for bringing this to the attention of the It’s Interesting community:  http://kebmodee.blogspot.com/2012/02/aclu-sues-obama-administration-over.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+Kebmodee+%28kebmodee%29

read more here:  http://www.salon.com/2012/02/02/aclu_sues_obama_administration_over_assassination_secrecy/singleton/

Colbert super PAC rakes in $1 million


Stephen Colbert’s super PAC is working with some serious cash.

Americans For A Better Tomorrow, Tomorrow reported Tuesday that it has raised $1,023,121, according to a document filed with the Federal Election Commission.

An addendum to the disclosure contained language from Colbert that is not usually included in FEC reports.

“Yeah! How you like me now, F.E.C? I’m rolling seven digits deep! I got 99 problems but a non-connected independent-expenditure only committee ain’t one!” Colbert said.

The primary disclosure form, which runs through Dec. 31, lists donations of $825,475, which means Colbert raised almost $200,000 in the month of January alone.

In a statement posted to the super PAC’s website, Colbert said the money had been raised “in full accordance with the law.”

“It’s the way our founding fathers would have wanted it, if they had founded corporations instead of just a country,” Colbert said.

Most donations to the super PAC were under $250, but disclosure forms list some interesting donors who chose to give more. (Campaign finance the Stephen Colbert way.)

A $500 donation from Gavin Newsom, the Lieutenant Governor of California, is listed. His office confirmed the donation to CNNMoney.

And an actor named Bradley Whitford gave $250. It could not be immediately confirmed that the West Wing star did in fact donate.

A Rolling Stones tribute band called the Sticky Fingers Band gave $400. The band bills itself as “the greatest rock and roll tribute band in the world” on its website.

Colbert has spent the better part of a year using his show on Comedy Central to take viewers on a tour of the opaque world of campaign finance law. (Where the money is: A campaign spending primer.)

Armed with the ability to accept unlimited sums of money from corporations, unions, associations and individuals, Colbert’s super PAC has set about doing what other super PACs do: spending unlimited sums to overtly advocate for or against political candidates.

Americans for a Better Tomorrow, Tomorrow ran ads in advance of the Iowa straw poll touting the candidacy of “Rick Parry.”

And while Colbert hit the campaign trail in South Carolina, the super PAC ran ads that referred to Mitt Romney as “Mitt the ripper.”

“If Mitt Romney really believes corporations are people,” the ad said, “then Mitt Romney is a serial killer.”

In one episode, Colbert enlists his lawyer, Trevor Potter, to create a tax-exempt 501(c)(4) so that he can obtain secret donations in a “completely transparent” way.

“Can I take this (c)(4) money and donate it to my super PAC?” Colbert asked after signing paperwork that registered the shell corporation in Delaware. “You can,” Potter said.

The camera then cuts to Colbert, whose face displayed a look of total shock. “Wait,” Colbert said. “What is the difference between that and money laundering?”


$12 Million a Day Wasted in Our Wars


 A nonpartisan panel reporting to Congress says the United States is wasting $12 million a day among contracts issued in support of American efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The Commission on Wartime Contracting spent the past three years documenting whether American funding went where it was supposed to. The findings show misdirected money has totaled between $31 billion and $60 billion, and that both the government and the contractors are to blame for fraud and waste.

Commissioner Katherine Schinasi told reporters at a news conference Wednesday that the numbers don’t seem to have an impact on people concerned about spending.

To make it easier to grasp the magnitude of the problem, Schinasi said, “we’ve broken it down to $12 million a day.”



Gadhafi Graffiti Now Appearing in Libya

In all his years in power, Moammar Gadhafi has never been portrayed as anything but regal in paintings and statues scattered throughout Libya. Until now.

Six months into Libya’s war, some artists in rebel strongholds are arming themselves with fresh paint.

“Everybody supports the revolution in some way,” says Mohammed Zamoul, formerly a bulldozer driver. “Some people fight, I use the brush.”

His caricatures of Gadhafi sucking on his country’s oil reserves, pinned down by a rebel flag and being launched out of Libya on a bomb — are everywhere around his hometown of Rujban in the country’s western mountains.

Several miles away in the rebel-controlled city of Zintan, Masoud Baji is also using art as weapon. He was a calligrapher before the uprising began in Libya last February. Now, he revels in his new career.

Each of his paintings, he says, expresses Gadhafi’s persecution of the Libyan people.

One portrays Gadhafi as a vampire sucking the wealth of the people.

“He has not left anything for them, he kept us illiterate, without education,” Baji says. “He kept everything for himself.”

Some of the paintings are humorous. Some make strong political commentary. All are new in a nation where freedom of expression was an unknown under Gadhafi.

“Now we can express ourselves freely, thank god,” Baji says. “The chains have been lifted. Everyone can express themselves. Even a simple painting about the tyrant, now we can paint. Before the revolution we could not do that, he would arrest and in some cases kill us.”


San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) Shuts Down Wireless Data to Stop Protest.

BART’s shut-off of subterranean cell phone service in its downtown San Francisco stations may have prevented a protest Thursday, but it sparked accusations Friday that the action stifled free speech and smacked of the kind of government intrusion employed by Middle East dictators.

“All over the world, people are using mobile devices to protest oppressive regimes, and governments are shutting down cell phone towers and the Internet to stop them,” said Michael Risher, a staff attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California. “It’s outrageous that in San Francisco, BART is doing the same thing.”

BART officials acknowledged Friday afternoon that they had switched off the transit system’s underground cell phone network, which runs from Balboa Park Station through the Transbay Tube, from 4 to 7 p.m. Thursday to prevent protesters from coordinating plans to stop trains.

A cluster of groups under the “No Justice, No BART” banner said on websites that they planned to protest the fatal July 3 shooting of a knife-wielding man, Charles Blair Hill, by BART police. Protesters briefly shut down the Civic Center, Powell Street and 16th Street Mission stations July 11. Trains ran through the stations without stopping.

“Organizers planning to disrupt BART service stated they would use mobile devices to coordinate their disruptive activities and communicate about the location and number of BART Police,” the transit agency said. “A civil disturbance during commute times at busy downtown San Francisco stations could lead to platform overcrowding and unsafe conditions for BART customers, employees and demonstrators.”

Contrary to some speculative reports, BART did not jam wireless signals or ask cell phone providers to shut down towers near stations. BART owns and controls the wireless network strung through its subways, and BART police ordered it switched off, after receiving permission from BART interim General Manager Sherwood Wakeman, former general counsel for the transit district.

Benson Fairow, BART’s deputy police chief, said he decided to switch off the service out of concern that protesters on station platforms could clash with commuters, create panicked surges of passengers, and put themselves or others in the way of speeding trains or the high-voltage third rails.

“It was a recipe for disaster,” he said. “The fact that they started to conspire to commit illegal actions on the station platform was our concern. I asked myself: If my wife, mother or daughter was on that platform, would I want them to be in that situation?”

Civil libertarians questioned the constitutionality of BART’s decision and predicted legal action, or at least serious investigation by the Federal Communications Commission.
Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2011/08/12/BAEU1KMS8U.DTL#ixzz1Uxu0YPTW

Federal Workers More Likely To Die Than Lose Their Job


Federal employees’ job security is so great that workers in many agencies are more likely to die of natural causes than get laid off or fired, a USA TODAY analysis finds.

Death — rather than poor performance, misconduct or layoffs — is the primary threat to job security at the Environmental Protection Agency, the Small Business Administration, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Office of Management and Budget and a dozen other federal operations.