Sep 022014

Source: The Long War Journal

While helping Iraqi forces to break the Islamic State’s siege of Amerli, the US Air Force supported a deadly Shia militia that is responsible for killing hundreds of US soldiers. The Shia militia, known as Asaib al Haq, or the League of the Righteous, has also captured and executed US soldiers and British citizens in the past.

Iraqi forces, supported by “paramilitary forces” such as the League of the Righteous, advanced on Amerli late last week and reached the town by Aug. 31, The Washington Post reported. By Sept. 1, the siege, which lasted for more than two months, was lifted.

Na’im al Aboudi, the spokesman for the League of the Righteous, confirmed that his group is operating in Amerli and in surrounding villages.

As of Aug. 31, the US military launched four airstrikes against Islamic State forces in Amerli, according to US Central Command, or CENTCOM.

Full article here

Article source:

Sep 022014

Source: Ars Technica

OAKLAND, CA—Documents released last week by the City of Oakland reveal that it is one of a handful of American jurisdictions attempting to upgrade an existing cellular surveillance system, commonly known as a stingray.

The Oakland Police Department, the nearby Fremont Police Department, and the Alameda County District Attorney jointly applied for a grant from the Department of Homeland Security to “obtain a state-of-the-art cell phone tracking system,” the records show.

Stingray is a trademark of its manufacturer, publicly traded defense contractor Harris Corporation, but “stingray” has also come to be used as a generic term for similar devices.

The cellular surveillance system’s upgrade, known as Hailstorm, is necessary. Existing stingray devices will no longer work in a few years as older phone networks get turned off.

Full article here 

Article source:

Sep 022014

Source: Mint Press


In this Feb. 4, 2014 file photo, a warning buoy sits on the dry, cracked bed of Lake Mendocino near Ukiah, Calif.

WASHINGTON — As large swathes of the western United States continue to wither under the effects of record-breaking drought, longstanding local concerns over water use are becoming increasingly contentious, adding to the national debate over corporate right and common good.

In recent weeks, a desert area of Southern California has seen focus suddenly turn toward a water-bottling plant owned by Nestle Waters North America, which has continued its operations despite the worsening water crisis. In an outraged action request in mid-August, the League of Conservation Voters, a prominent national lobby group, urged 50,000 of its members and consumers to petition the company on the issue.

“Nestle … is bottling California’s water, selling it, and profiting while the state suffers from a scorching, record-breaking drought,” the groups warned in a series of emails. “Friend, we are fuming. To date, Nestle has refused to acknowledge concerns about the water they are taking.”

California has been hit particularly hard this year — the third consecutive year of drought — and as of early August, state water supplies were at less than two-thirds capacity. Most of the state is currently experiencing “exceptional drought,” the most severe rating according to a federal scale. Several other states, from Oregon to Texas, are also experiencing moderate to exceptional drought conditions.

In response, California authorities have put in place a variety of policy and public relations measures, aiming to safeguard dwindling resources. As far back as January, Gov. Jerry Brown requested that the state’s residents voluntarily cut down their water use by a fifth, though this seemed to have only a middling effect.

Since then, authorities have placed hard caps on the amount of water users can go through each day, and there has been a crackdown on outdoor activities such as watering lawns, washing cars or cleaning sidewalks. Even the state’s lucrative and powerful agricultural sector has been forced to scale back its water use, in some places significantly, reportedly already leading to $1 billion in losses.

Nestle’s bottling operation, however, is located on Native American land, operating under a 25-year lease from the Morongo Band of Mission Indians near Cabazon, in the state’s arid south. Water from the area is bottled and sold under the brands Arrowhead and Pure Life, according to the local media investigation that broke the story in July. The article’s author, Ian James, pointed to federal data suggesting that water levels in the area have been going down by up to 4 feet a year over the past decade.


Private property or public trust?

In part because the Morongo are a sovereign nation, Nestle is not required to tell California authorities how much water its Cabazon bottling plant is extracting, nor does it need to confirm whether it is abiding by the state’s broader rationing strategy.

Still, the company says it is taking important conservation steps, telling MintPress that it is “committed to managing water supplies for long-term sustainability” and clarifying that some 80 percent of the water it bottles in California is sold in the state.

“Recognizing that no company, person or entity is immune from the effects of the drought, we have planned for and adapted our operations in light of the current situation,” Nestle Waters North America, which is based in Connecticut, said in response to a query to the Morongo Band.

“Our water use management program includes curtailing withdrawals depending on conditions at a spring site. Our monitoring shows that … there is no significant adverse impact on the any springs or surrounding groundwater levels related to the water we withdraw.”

In Southern California specifically, the company says, it can withdraw water from five springs, and its managers alternate which sources are used based on local conditions. Nestle also noted that the amount of water it withdraws in California makes up just 0.004 percent of the total water use throughout the state.

Outside experts, too, have cast doubt on the impact that Nestle’s bottling operations are having — or even could have — on California’s overall groundwater reserves. Nonetheless, in conditions of extreme and prolonged drought, the debate around the issue highlights the notable lack of policy options that government authorities, at any level, have to intervene.

“We’re in a very bad drought right now and it’s time to really manage our public water resources wisely — and Nestle’s operations are really antithetical to good public water management,” Adam Scow, California director for Food Water Watch, a watchdog group, told MintPress.

“Yet, the state has no specific policy on water bottling. Here we are in the middle of this drought and no one even knows how much water the company’s taking at that plant or other plants,” he continued.

Two years ago, state legislators did pass legislation that would have required water companies to report how much water they were bottling, but that bill was vetoed by then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. Likewise, attempts to have the state’s water authority oversee a comprehensive mapping and analysis of the state’s water resources — to many, a seemingly straightforward step — are again being held up.

Scow said the broader problem underpinning this lack of legislative progress is the fact that California doesn’t formally view water as a resource in the public trust. As a result, it’s one of the very few states lacking comprehensive groundwater regulations.

“Water is pretty much treated as private property, which is crazy and grossly irresponsible,” he said.

“This is due to industry opposition, largely from corporate agriculture, which is the big groundwater sucker in California. Most likely, the fear is that if the public knew how much groundwater there is, there would be some limitations on how much water they could take.”


Lack of policy levers

Meanwhile, the current drought affecting much of the American West could continue for years, or worsen in the future due to a changing climate. Last week, researchers at Cornell Universitywarned that the chances of a decade-long drought in the Southwest are as high as 50 percent, and that the chances of a 30-year “megadrought” are likewise anywhere from 20 to 50 percent.

“This will be worse than anything seen during the last 2,000 years and would pose unprecedented challenges to water resources in the region,” Toby Ault, a Cornell assistant professor and lead author of a new paper on the issue, said in astatement.


“With ongoing climate change, this is a glimpse of things to come,” he added. “It’s a preview of our future.”

Of course, the prospect of climate change-related drought only increases the likelihood that, in the future, water will likely need to be brought from places of relative abundance and moved to places of relative need. Such a dynamic highlights the likely strengthened role of private companies such as Nestle, but also underscores the need for stringent and forward-looking safeguards.

So far, however, there have been relatively few local, state or national policies to deal explicitly with such concerns.

“Unfortunately, bottled water corporations continuing to bottle at high levels even in times of drought is not unprecedented,” Erin Diaz, a campaign director with Corporate Accountability International, a watchdog group, told MintPress. “In fact, there is a clear track record of these companies continuing to extract water at times of drought.”

Two prominent cases took place during a region-wide drought a half-decade ago. In 2007 in Atlanta, for instance, even as city officials were rationing water and cancelling festivals, Diaz said Coca-Cola continued to bottle in the area at its normal rate. During the same time and even through the following year, PepsiCo likewise continued its bottling operations in North Carolina.

Diaz said there are few options for authorities in such cases.

“I’m not aware of any policy levers,” she said. “Even from our side, in the past we’ve mainly called directly on the corporations to cease their bottling or to meet the same restrictions as are being asked of the public.”

Still, Diaz said that throughout much of the country the idea of maintaining water infrastructure and ensuring access as a public trust remains strong. Nonetheless, she expressed concern that, in the U.S. and internationally, water companies are actively working against this idea.

“Since their inception, bottled water corporations have used marketing to try to change the way that we think about water — not as a human right but rather as a commodity that can be bought and sold,” she said.

Yet, communities that have been negatively impacted by this dynamic have repeatedly found ways to safeguard their local resources. For instance, the small town of Wacissa, Florida, was able to reject a plan by Nestle to use water from a local river by passing an ordinance requiring the backing of a majority of its city council before any future water-bottling plan can be approved. Another community, in Michigan, was able to use a legal injunction to limit the amount of water a company was able to bottle from the area.

“The strength of public water systems is their very clear mandate to provide water as a public trust and ensure equal access in a democratically accountable fashion,” Diaz said. “That’s what’s fundamentally different from a bottling corporation coming in and using that resource for profit.”

Article source:

Sep 022014

Source: CNBC

Argentina’s lengthy debt saga returned to the spotlight last week, with its second default in only 12 years triggering George Soros and other investors to sue Bank of New York Mellon for withholding interest payments.

This came after Argentina refused to comply with a U.S. legal ruling ordering it to repay $1.3 billion to creditors, triggering a selective default. Moody’s Investors Service downgraded its outlook for the country’s debt to “negative” at the end of July and confirmed its long-term credit rating at “Caa1″—meaning it views Argentine debt as a highly risky investment at the precarious end of the “junk bond” spectrum.

Argentina is, nonetheless, only one of several countries whose shaky finances leave them on the brink of being unable to repay their obligations. Moody’s currently rates 10 other countries’ debt as equally or even more risky than that of Argentina. These span the globe, from nearby by Venezuela and Ecuador to Pakistan and Greece.

Read more

Article source:

Sep 012014

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli have launched the construction of the first part of Gazprom’s Power of Siberia pipeline – which will deliver 4 trillion cubic meters of gas to China over 30 years.

Sep 012014
Blog: http://www.suspicious0bserverscollect…
Major Warnings/Alerts:
S0 Notes on Solar Shutdown:…
IPCC History:…

Donate memberships for others:

Today’s Featured Links:

Original music by NEMES1S [Get NEMES1S Music!]


Earth WindMap:…
Global Maps:…
NDBC Buoys:
HurricaneZone Satellite Images:…
NOAA Environmental Visualization Laboratory:
Satellite Maps:…
Forecast Maps:…
TORCON:… [Tornado Forecast for the day]
GOES Satellites:
Severe Weather Threats:…
Canada Weather Office Satellite Composites:…
Temperature Delta:…

SOHO Solar Wind:
Planetary Orbital Diagram – Ceres1 JPL:…
GOES Xray:…
Gamma Ray Bursts:
BARTOL Cosmic Rays:…
NOAA Sunspot Classifications:…
GONG Magnetic Maps:…

MISC Links:
JAPAN Radiation Map:
RSOE: [That cool alert map I use]

Sep 012014

John Williams of is forecasting a possible dollar sell-off by the end of 2014. Williams predicts this will trigger the beginning of hyperinflation. Are we on track for this prediction? Williams contends, “Everything the Fed has been doing to pump this extraordinary amount of liquidity into the system, since the panic of 2008, has been aimed at propping up the banks. . . . The banks are still in trouble. From here on in, it’s going to get worse, and as it does, the Fed is going to have to pump more liquidity into the system. . . . They will use the poor economy as a political shield. As the economy turns down . . . the Fed has to do more, and all these factors will come together in a great confluence, and that will give us selling pressure in the U.S. dollar. With this selling pressure, there will be upside pressure on commodity prices, and that will be the early trigger for hyperinflation.”

On the issue of bank bail-ins, will they happen? Williams says, “Nope, the Fed’s basic mandate is to keep the banking system afloat. I can’t envision a Fed that would want to see people losing their money because of what it does to the banking system. The problem with depositors bailing out the banks is that it encourages bank runs. It’s the run on the banks that the central banks have to avoid. . . . I doubt they would take actions that would trigger a big run on the banks.” So, instead, Williams says the Fed will just keep printing money to keep the banks afloat.

Sep 012014

Zero Hedge

Over the weekend, insolvent, debt-dependent Europe thought long and hard how to best punish Russia and moments ago reached yet another milestone in deep projective thought: as Reuters reports, Europeans could be barred from buying new Russian government bonds “under a package of extra sanctions over Moscow’s military role in Ukraine that European Union ambassadors were to start discussing on Monday, three EU sources said.” This will be in addition to the ban on the debt funding of most Russian corporations. So as Europe’s 7-day ultimatum for the Kremlin to “de-escalate” counts down, Putin has a choice: continue operating under a budget surplus and ignore Europe’s latest and most amusing hollow threat which is merely a projection of Europe’s biggest fears, or spend himself into oblivion as Europe has done over the past decade and become a vassal state of the Frankfurt central bank.. Somehow we doubt Putin will lose too much sleep over this latest “escalation”…

Read More

Sep 012014

Zero Hedge

Unless they are tilting at windmills, the rhetoric this morning from Ukraine’s defense minister is the strongest and most actionable yet. Via his Facebook page, Valeriy Galetey accused Russia of “open aggression,” and explained that:


Earlier in the morning, US Senator Bob Menendez said he has “no doubt Russia has invaded Ukraine,” and following Ukraine requests for assistance from Europe and US, NATO responded by noting a reaction force or 3-5,000 can be ready in 48 hours.

Read More

Sep 012014

Zero Hedge

The violent protests that raged yesterday have turned deadly as clashes between riot police and anti-government protesters left 3 dead and at least 470 injured according to The WSJ. The military, who are acting as mediators between PM Sharif and opposition leader Imran Khan have warned both sides that they neither support the others view or sanction further use of violence to suppress crowds. Mr. Khan exclaimed to the people, “if you want to be free, if you want to have a real democracy, the time has come;” as another protester noted “the police were brutal, but that is good because whenever blood is shed in a movement, it turns into a revolution.” Meanwhile, the so-called “soft-coup” as WaPo refers to it continues to harden (threatening $3bn of US aid) as Prime Minister Sharif is left with fewer and fewer options.

Read More