Category Archives: Science & technology

Obama admin’s 35-yr lease of Port Canaveral to Middle East company with Russian ties endangers U.S. national security

Port Canaveral in Brevard County, Florida, is one of the busiest cargo and cruise ports in the world, with fuel accounting for 75% of the cargo in 2011. It is also a naval port adjacent to the U.S. strategic ballistic missile nuclear submarine base, as well as close to U.S. Air Force facilities and NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. As such, Port Canaveral is critical to America’s national security.

Americans recently learned of how our national security was compromised by the Obama administration’s and then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s approval of the Uranium One deal that gave Russia 20% of our uranium reserves.

In an op/ed for The Washington Times on Nov. 23, 2017, retired U.S. Navy admiral and commander in chief of the U.S. Pacific Fleet James A. Lyons alerts us to another security compromise by the Obama administration — the 35-year lease of Port Canaveral with no security review to the Middle East company Gulftainer, which Admiral Lyons calls a “serious security compromise” to both the Port and its adjacent military infrastructure.

Gulftainer is co-owned by the Iraqi Jafar family and the emir of Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates. Gulftainer is also connected to the Russian-controlled Rostec firm that owns 100% of Rosoboronexport, the exporter of Russia’s Club-K container cruise missile system. The system looks like a typical commercial shipping container, which means it can be transported around the United States carrying missiles that can be remotely activated by satellite.

According to Jerome Corsi, in a World Net Daily article, the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) — which should have reviewed the Port Canaveral lease — was bypassed by President Obama’s Treasury secretary, Jack Lew, who previously was Bill Clinton’s chief of staff.

Obama and Treasury Secretary Jack Lew (right). That loopy-loop squiggle is Lew’s signature.

Adm. Lyons writes:

Mr. Lew’s decision may have been further enabled by Aimen Nabi Mir, his designated staff chairman for CFIUS (2009-14). Mr. Mir is the son of a Pakistani immigrant from Kashmir who has ties to the Pakistani Intelligence Service. Mr. Mir himself served twice as the head of the Islamic Society of North America’s (ISNA) youth wing.

It will be recalled, ISNA not only is a Muslim Brotherhood front group, but was listed by the Department of Justice as an unindicted co-conspirator in the 2008 Holy Land Foundation Hamas terror funding trial. It was during Mr. Mir’s CFIUS tenure that both the Gulftainer deal and the Uranium One deal were allowed to slip through.

Gulftainer is co-owned by Hamid Jafar and his brother Jafar Dhia Jofa, Saddam Hussein’s nuclear weapon mastermind and the emir of Sharjah. By way of character reference, Mr. Jafar was on U.S. Central Command’s hit list and could be engaged at any time as a legitimate military target during Operation Iraqi Freedom. Working for Saddam Hussein and in close collaboration with the Russians, Mr. Jafar’s succeeded in designing the “Beach Ball,” a miniaturized nuclear warhead that can fit on the Club-K cruise missile.

A model of North Korea’s miniaturized nuclear weapon appears very similar to Mr. Jafar’s Beach Ball and was seen in a 2017 photo with Kim Jong-un.

The fact that the Iraqi Jafar family is in a joint venture with Russia’s Rostec should have raised red flags all over the place, but that was not going to be allowed to happen. You have to ask, what were the FBI and our intelligence agencies doing? Were they complicit in behind-the-scenes negotiations for the lease?

Russia’s Club-K container cruise missile launch system looks like a normal intermodal commercial container. It can be loaded with four Sizzler cruise missiles or four Switchblade cruise missiles. These missiles can carry biological, chemical, electromagnetic pulse, conventional or nuclear warheads.

Since the Club-K container looks like a typical commercial shipping container, it can be shipped around the country by train, semi-trucks and riverine boat. More troubling yet is the fact that it can then be activated remotely by satellite.

As Roger Aronoff stated in a Jan. 5, 2017 article, approval of the 35-year lease to Gulftainer is a clear case of malfeasance and comes at the expense of our national security and American safety. The Center for Security Policy paper by Alan Jones and Mary Fanning shows that Gulftainer’s parent company, the Crescent Group, is also connected to Iraq’s illicit nuclear weapons program under Saddam Hussein.

Additionally, Hamid Jafar is founder and chairman of the Crescent Group, the parent firm of which Port Canaveral’s Gulftainer USA is a subsidiary. His brother, Jafar, Saddam Hussein’s nuclear scientist, is the CFO of Crescent’s URUK Engineering and Contracting subsidiary.

Not surprisingly, there is a Clinton connection to the Crescent Group. Majid Jafar, brother of the head of the Crescent Group and Mr. Jafar’s nephew, co-chairs with Bill Clinton the Business Backs Education Campaign, which was launched in 2014, the same year that the UAE made its first donation to the Clinton Foundation. The campaign is funded by the Varkey GEMs Foundation, which paid Bill Clinton $5.6 million to serve as honorary chairman. He didn’t even have to give a speech.

The bottom line is that we don’t know how many Club-K missile containers have been or might one day be shipped through Port Canaveral. Even one could cause incalculable damage. In view of the seriousness of the threat, however, and the fact that the 35-year lease was never subjected to a security review, it must be immediately suspended and eventually canceled.

The port’s container facilities must be returned to full U.S. control. Further, we must devise a system that is able to identify these missile containers and neutralize them. We must also investigate how Mr. Aimen Nabi Mir was able to obtain a security clearance and whether he is still at the Treasury Department.

The House Armed Services Committee’s Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities will review the 35 year lease of the Port Canaveral Cargo Container Terminal. The Subcommittee’s recommendation is expected by March 2018, at which time the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) will review the lease and make a recommendation to President Trump who, it is hoped, will cancel the lease.

H/t John Molloy, Chairman of the National Vietnam and Gulf War Veterans Coalition.

~Eowyn

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Bioethicist opinion: Science proves kids are bad for earth; morality suggests we stop having them

travis rieder

Travis and his child in his Twitter profile picture

The author of this opinion piece, Travis Rieder, PhD, is the Assistant Director for Education Initiatives, Director of the Master of Bioethics degree program and Research Scholar at the Berman Institute of Bioethics. He is also a Faculty Affiliate at the Center for Public Health Advocacy within the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health.

From NBC News: A startling and honestly distressing view is beginning to receive serious consideration in both academic and popular discussions of climate change ethics. According to this view, having a child is a major contributor to climate change. The logical takeaway here is that everyone on Earth ought to consider having fewer children.

Although culturally controversial, the scientific half of this position is fairly well-established. Several years ago, scientists showed that having a child, especially for the world’s wealthy, is one of the worst things you can do for the environment. That data was recycled this past summer in a paper showing that none of the activities most likely to reduce individuals’ carbon footprints are widely discussed.

The second, moral aspect of the view — that perhaps we ought to have fewer children — is also being taken seriously in many circles. Indeed, I have written widely on the topic myself.

But scientific evidence and moral theorizing aside, this is a complicated question with plenty of opponents. In what follows, I will address some of the challenges to this idea. Because while I recognize that this is an uncomfortable discussion, I believe that the seriousness of climate change justifies uncomfortable conversations. In this case, that means that we need to stop pretending the decision to have children doesn’t have environmental and ethical consequences.

The argument that having a child adds to one’s carbon footprint depends on the view that each of us has a personal carbon ledger for which we are responsible. Furthermore, some amount of an offspring’s emissions count towards the parents’ ledger.

Most environmentalists accept this sort of ledger view when it comes to recycling, driving, and flying, but support begins to decrease when applied to family planning. The opposition is typified by Vox writer David Roberts, who argues that “such an accounting scheme is utterly impractical” because it seems to entail that one is never responsible for one’s own emissions. Because “we don’t want to double-count,” as Roberts says, this means parents are really only responsible for their kids’ emissions.

The flaw in this objection is the plausible-sounding caveat: “we don’t want to double-count.” Because why wouldn’t we want to double-count? If moral responsibility added up mathematically, then double-counting would be a serious problem. But I think it’s clear that we should not accept a mathematical model of responsibility.

Consider a different case: If I release a murderer from prison, knowing full well that he intends to kill innocent people, then I bear some responsibility for those deaths — even though the killer is also fully responsible. My having released him doesn’t make him less responsible (he did it!). But his doing it doesn’t eliminate my responsibility either.

Something similar is true, I think, when it comes to having children: Once my daughter is an autonomous agent, she will be responsible for her emissions. But that doesn’t negate my responsibility. Moral responsibility simply isn’t mathematical.

If you buy this view of responsibility, you might eventually admit that having many children is wrong, or at least morally suspect, for standard environmental reasons: Having a child imposes high emissions on the world, while the parents get the benefit. So like with any high-cost luxury, we should limit our indulgence.

Read the rest of this opinion here.

DCG

Gov. Moonbeam: “World needs brainwashing on climate change”

jerry brown

ManBearPig approved.

From Sacramento Bee: Gov. Jerry Brown challenged the world’s religious leaders to further engage as he minimized the negative effects of President Donald Trump on meeting the climate-change challenge.

“The Trump factor is very small, very small indeed,” in comparison to the commitments taking place around the world, Brown said to a burst of applause Saturday at an event organized by the Vatican’s Pontifical Academy of Sciences. “That’s nothing to cheer about, because if it was only Trump that was a problem, we’d have it solved. But that’s not our only problem.

The problem … is us. It’s our whole way of life. It’s our comfort … It’s the greed. It’s the indulgence. It’s the pattern. And it’s the inertia.”

Brown, who arrived Friday for nearly two weeks of climate talks across Europe, said the path to transformational change must include the mass mobilization of the religious and theological sphere, but also the prophetic sphere.

“The power here is prophecy. The power here is faith, and that’s what this organization is supposed to be about. So, let’s be about it and combine with the technical and the scientific and the political.

To slow the devastation of climate change, society cannot rely only on science and technology and must begin to accept the need for more transformational approaches, Brown said. He spoke for more than 40 minutes, punctuating his remarks and answers to attending scientists to reflect on his own experiences.

Brown’s first brush with the concept of transformation came when he entered the Jesuit seminary in the 1950s before the Second Vatican Council. He spoke Latin, meditated, underwent self-discipline, mortified himself.

“We tried real hard, and I can tell I did not achieve perfection. I was not transformed. In fact some of my bad habits, which I will not reveal, are the same as they were … when I came into Jesuit seminary when Pius XII was pope.

Brown acknowledged that achieving transformation will not be easy, citing his recent visit to the Eastern Economic Forum in Russia, where world leaders gathered for discussions about trade with scant mention of climate effects.

“At the highest circles, people still don’t get it,” he said. “It’s not just a light rinse” that’s required. “We need a total, I might say ‘brain washing.’

“We need to wash our brains out and see a very different kind of world.”

Read the rest of the story here.

DCG

Hollyweird hypocrite: Private jet flyer/owner Harrison Ford goes after Trump team’s environmental policies

harrison ford

Harrison Ford boarding a private jet.

Never let your Trump Derangement Syndrome get in the way of your private and hypocritcal hobbies.

Harrison Ford is a pilot. A rich one. He can afford his own fleet of airplanes and fly them whenever he wants.

According to a 2015 Daily Mail article, Ford has a long range jet, a Citation Sovereign, a turboprop aircraft capable of operating on unimproved airstrips; and a de Havilland DHC-2 Beaver single engine bush plane. He also has a 1929 Waco Taperwing open-top biplane, an Aviat Husky, which is a two-seat fabric-covered bush plane, and a Bell 407 helicopter (a total of seven aircraft).

He also has about a dozen motorcycles including several BMWs, a couple of Harleys, Hondas and a Triumph. He has vintage cars too including a rare 1955 forest green convertible Jaguar XK 140 worth about $150,000.

In true DiCaprio fashion, the carbon-emitting hypocrite lectures us on Trump whilst ignoring his own carbon footprint.

From Hollywood Reporter: Harrison Ford got political on Thursday night at 3Labs in Culver City when he was honored by Conservation International, a non-profit environmental group he has been involved with for 26 years.

“We face an unprecedented moment in this country. Today’s greatest threat is not climate change, not pollution, not flood or fire,” Ford said during his acceptance speech of the Founders’ Award. “It’s that we’ve got people in charge of important shit who don’t believe in science.” 

He went on to criticize those politicians who let “political or economic self-interest denigrate or belittle sound scientific understanding of the causes and effects of human pressure on the environment.” 

Ford serves as executive vice chair of Conservation International, which celebrated its 30th anniversary at the event. The group aims to protect nature and specifically focused on a ‘No Forests, No Future’ theme at the gala, highlighting the Amazon rainforest and its importance in addressing climate change.

“I’m here tonight for one reason: I care deeply for the natural world. It’s not about me, it’s not about me at all, it’s about this other world we’re going to leave behind,” the actor said. “If we don’t stop the destruction of nature, nothing else will matter. Jobs won’t matter, our economies won’t matter, our freedoms and ethics won’t matter, our children’s education and potential won’t matter, peace, prosperity. If we end the ability of a healthy natural world to sustain humanity nothing else will matter, simply said.”

Ford has been deeply involved in the environmental cause for several decades, meeting with lawmakers, businesses and communities to discuss how to improve conservation policy and practices.

“Other than my family, doing this work has been the most important thing of my life,” he said. “Nature doesn’t need people, people need nature.” 

Red the rest of the story here.

Hyprocite.

DCG

New Amazon service gives contractors a key to your house for deliveries

trust

What could possibly go wrong?

I don’t care what kind of cameras and recordings you have. No responsible gun owner would let a complete stranger into their home while no one is there. No way, no how.

From Matt Day at the Seattle Times: Amazon’s retail empire was built on taking items from a website listing to a consumer’s front door. A pair of new products now aims to drop those boxes safely inside the home, a major test of how much people trust the online retail giant. 

The company Wednesday introduced Amazon Key, a program for Amazon Prime members that, when linked to an internet-connected door lock, grants entry to delivery people or other authorized folks. The service, paired with a new Amazon-built security camera called Cloud Cam, records deliveries, beaming live or recorded video to a smartphone app.

The bundle aims to eliminate the issue of packages being stolen from a doorstep and follows a similar delivery experiment that Amazon rival Wal-Mart announced last month.

It’s also the latest example of Amazon’s tactic of stitching together its services in a way that’s convenient for customers, and, ideally, makes people more likely to try other Amazon products. The company’s Alexa voice-activated speaker, for instance, can tell jokes and read the news, but it’s also geared toward getting people to place orders on Amazon’s retail site, or stream music through paid Amazon services.

Similarly, Amazon Key could create an incentive to browse Amazon’s marketplace of home service providers, some of whom, Amazon says, in the coming months will be able to seamlessly gain entry to the home when the resident isn’t there. Cloud Cam users are encouraged to enter Alexa’s world, too, with the capability to display live footage on Amazon Echo Show devices using voice commands. And the in-home delivery concept requires a $99-a-year Prime subscription.

Bundles that include Cloud Cam and a compatible smart lock start at $250. Amazon Key will launch in 37 cities and surrounding areas, including Seattle and the Eastside, starting Nov. 8.

Once the kit is installed, customers can select an in-home delivery option at checkout. Amazon will send a notification when a package is about to be delivered, giving customers the options to cancel in-home delivery and ask for the package to be left outside, to watch the in-home delivery take place live, or to view a recording later.

The program is a test of consumers’ trust in Amazon and the contractors the company will direct to deliver packages. On Twitter after Wednesday’s announcement, skeptics were out in force, worrying about lost petsstolen items, and strangers who could access their homes.

“I think people are going to have a really hard time getting over this idea of just randomly letting someone inside your house,” said Ben Bajarin, a principal analyst with technology researcher Creative Strategies. “But if anybody is willing to do that, it’s Amazon customers, and specifically Amazon Prime customers who order a lot of stuff.” 

The new service doesn’t give Amazon personnel blanket permission to unlock the front door, the company says. Visits have to be paired with specific orders. The company says Amazon Key generates a one-time authorization code that, after Amazon verifies the driver is at the right place at the appointed time, unlocks a door for a few minutes.

Amazon says Key’s delivery workers will be employed by companies that contract with Amazon Logistics, rather than the U.S. Postal Service, FedEx and UPS  who deliver the bulk of Amazon’s products. (The contracting program is also separate from Amazon Flex, the program for independent drivers who deliver packages in their spare time).

The program’s contractors, Amazon says, are required to conduct background checks for their employees.

Besides granting similar home access to cleaners, dog walkers and other service providers plugged into Amazon’s home services marketplace down the road, people can program the Key system to allow in selected friends and family as well.

Charlie Tritschler, an Amazon vice president whose team oversaw the development of the Cloud Cam, said the company had built security and privacy measures into the system. “Amazon is typically in the top three companies that people trust,” he said. “We’ve worked very hard to protect that.”

Tritschler said the program began when an Amazon transportation team working on improving “literally that last foot” of delivery targeted in-home access. A camera was a necessity, they found. “What we heard from [early testers] was that they really wanted to feel secure,” he said.

Hardware teams got involved, developing the Cloud Cam to bundle with the service. Eventually, someone had the idea to market and sell the device as a separate product.

Sold separately, Cloud Cam costs $120 and includes storage of the most recent 24 hours of clips. Paid subscriptions open the option to review the past week or month of clips and link more cameras together. Those plans range from $7 a month to $20 a month.

The camera features two-way audio, giving viewers the option to talk to people on the other end of the video connection, or, say, yell at a dog to get off the couch. It also comes with night-vision and motion-sensing capability that can trigger smartphone alerts when activity is detected.

Videos captured by Amazon’s camera are encrypted when they are transmitted and stored in Amazon Web Services servers. They are deleted at regular intervals specified by the user (people can also manually delete videos).

Customer videos will be used to train Amazon’s algorithms to better recognize the difference between people, animals and shadows for motion alerts, but only if the customer opts in, Tritschler said.

DCG

Gwyneth Paltrow’s brand Goop wins award for “worst pseudoscience”

paltrow

Shocker, not: A demorat who is full of garbage and lies. Par for the course in Hollyweird.

From MSN: The “wellness” brand Goop, which is spearheaded by Hollywood actress Gwyneth Paltrow, has received a not-so-prestigious award from The Skeptic Magazine.

The Goop brand was the recipient of the inaugural “Rusty Razor” award for being the “best” promoter of the worst pseudoscientific content, according to Gizmodo UK.

This comes as Goop has appeared in its share of headlines in 2017 — namely for promoting rather avant-garde wellness techniques, to say it lightly.

For one, as Gizmodo UK points out, Goop endorsed the practice of placing jade eggs in the female nether regions. They also touched upon “bio frequency healing” stickers which were condemned by NASA.

The Rusty Razor award came as part of Skeptic Magazine’s “Ockham Awards” celebrating scientific and skeptical activism, Gizmodo UK writes.

Goop was reportedly invited to pick up its award, which was distributed at the QED Conference in Manchester, England. A Goop representative did not attend.

Skeptic’s Managing Editor Deborah Hyde said that the staff was surprised at how many nominations Goop received, labeling it a “popular win.”

According to Gizmodo UK, she said that with different issues affecting health today, “it’s a shame that many people prefer to contemplate their yonis than engage with evidence-based reality.”

DCG

Proggies enraged: House passes 20-week abortion ban, with Trump White House support

baby at 20 weeks

A baby at 20 weeks, from BabyCenter.com:

“Your baby weighs about 10 1/2 ounces now. He’s also around 6 1/2 inches long from head to bottom and about 10 inches from head to heel – about the length of a large banana. Your baby is swallowing more these days, which is good practice for his digestive system. He’s also producing meconium, a black, sticky by-product of digestion. This gooey substance will accumulate in his bowels, and you’ll see it in his first soiled diaper. “

From TheBump.com:

Your 20-week fetus now has working taste buds. He or she is gulping down several ounces of amniotic fluid each day—that’s significantly more than before. If you haven’t already had your mid-pregnancy ultrasound, you will very soon, since this prenatal test happens between weeks 18 and 22. This is a detailed 20-week ultrasound—you’ll see parts of baby you might not have dreamed possible, including the chambers of his or her heart, the kidneys, and the brain hemispheres. The technician will also likely be able to tell you baby’s gender, so let them know if you want to find out if you’re having a boy or a girl.”

But, but…reproductive rights!!!!!

From Fox News: The Republican-controlled House on Tuesday approved a bill that would ban abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy — a measure backed by the Trump White House but still facing long odds in the Senate. The measure passed 237 to 189.

“So often we get caught up in the policies of this issue and we forget that these are babies, for goodness sake,” Alabama Republican Rep. Martha Roby said in a speech on the House floor. “They feel pain and we need to protect them.”

The measure faced strong opposition from abortion-rights lawmakers.

“When abortion is banned, it does not go away,” Oregon Democratic Rep. Suzanne Bonamici said on the floor before the vote. “It drives women to unsafe back alleys and to dangerous self-induced abortion.”

The White House said Monday that it “strongly supports” the efforts to “secure critical pro-life protections” and that the bill provides children with the “stronger protections” they deserve.

“The bill, if enacted into law, would help to facilitate the culture of life to which our Nation aspires,” the White House also said in a statement. “Additionally, the bill would promote a science-based approach to unborn life, as recent advancements have revealed that the physical structures necessary to experience pain are developed within 20 weeks of fertilization.”

The measure, if enacted into law, would allow the procedure after 20 weeks in cases of rape, incest or to save the life of the mother and would not penalize women. However, it would criminalize other abortions after 20 weeks and punish abortion providers with a maximum five-year jail sentence.

The landmark 1973 Supreme Court case Roe v. Wade protects women’s right to have an abortion. However, more than a dozen states now ban them after 20 weeks.

“It’s science: unborn babies feel pain by at least 20 weeks. Late, dismemberment abortions are too extreme for America. #TheyFeelPain,” bill sponsor Rep. Trent Franks, R-Ariz., tweeted ahead of the vote Monday.

Franks’ bill enjoyed the support of fellow conservatives in the GOP conference and from the influential Susan B. Anthony List pro-life group.

However, the bill needs the unlikely support of at least eight Democrats to pass in the narrowly GOP-controlled Senate.

South Carolina GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham has companion legislation that could be introduced as early as Tuesday, a congressional source told Fox News.

Senate Democrats rejected a similar House bill in 2015.

“20 week abortion bans are: unpopular, unconstitutional, part of the agenda to ban ALL abortion,” tweeted Planned Parenthood.

DCG