Nevertheless, the French embassy is now reporting that the 2nd wave of the H1N1 pandemic is happening as we speak and that seventy-nine (79) people have died in the last five (5) days from December 23, 2009 - December 28, 2009. You can read the original language website here or the translated version by clicking here.
Thursday, December 31, 2009
French Embassy Confirms Second H1N1 "Swine Flu" Pandemic Wave Has Begun in Ukraine (79 Deaths in 5 Days)
Nevertheless, the French embassy is now reporting that the 2nd wave of the H1N1 pandemic is happening as we speak and that seventy-nine (79) people have died in the last five (5) days from December 23, 2009 - December 28, 2009. You can read the original language website here or the translated version by clicking here.
Vladimir Putin Completes $14 Billion East Siberia-Pacific Ocean (ESPO) Oil Pipeline and Kozmino Port to Conquer Asian Energy Markets
Prime Minister Vladimir Putin pressed a button to get Siberian oil flowing into the first tanker for delivery to an Asian customer, in Hong Kong, from Russia’s Pacific coast. In addition to China, supplies will also target Japan and South Korea...
The Kozmino port, near Vladivostok, cost $2 billion to build and has the capacity to handle 300,000 barrels of crude per day (15 million tons per year), with oil quality comparable to that of Middle Eastern blends now dominating the market.
Transneft, the state pipeline monopoly, spent another $12 billion to lay the 2,694-kilometer ESPO pipeline through east Siberian wilderness to connect the area’s greenfields, being developed by oil majors Rosneft, TNK-BP and Surgutneftegaz, to the railway station of Skovorodino. The link has the capacity to carry 30 million tons a year.
Once again, I will ask, why is America not spending billions on infrastructure projects such as this Russian energy project?
Mandatory Bacterial Meningitis Menactra® Vaccinations Required for All Incoming College Dorm Students in Texas Starting January 1, 2010
Incoming college dorm residents will need an additional vaccine next month, thanks to a new Texas law. Without the shot, they cannot live in the dorm. KERA's Bill Zeeble reports.
Texas college students moving into dorms for the first time after January 1st will now need a vaccine against bacterial meningitis. June Brownlee, with the University of North Texas Student Health and Wellness Center says the bill has come up in past legislative sessions, and finally passed earlier this year.
The name of this vaccine is called Menactra® and the vaccine is manufactured by Sanofi Pasteur Inc. You can read the Menactra® package insert by clicking this sentence.
Source: KERA ; Sanofi Pasteur
U.S. military officials sent a medical team to a remote outpost in southern Afghanistan this week to take blood samples from members of an Army unit after a soldier in the unit died from an Ebola-like virus.
Dr. Jim Radike, an expert in internal medicine and infectious diseases at the Role 3 Trauma Hospital at Kandahar Air Field, told The Washington Times that Sgt. Robert David Gordon, 22, from River Falls, Ala., died Sept. 16 from what turned out to be Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever after he was bitten by a tick.
Source: Washington Times
Obama Administration Set to Offer Amnesty to Twelve Million (12,000,000) Illegal Immigrants Despite Opposition!
With the health-care battle still unfinished, the Obama administration has been laying plans to take up an issue that could prove even more divisive — a major overhaul of the nation's immigration system.
Senior White House aides privately have assured Latino activists that the president will back legislation next year to provide a path to citizenship for the estimated 12 million undocumented workers now living in the United States.
I am all for people, but I am not in favor of corrupt governments and corporations that take advantage of these people. Illegal immigration is just this type of issue. The mainstream media (which is a part of the government and corporations) makes it a racial issue that divides all people in this country. The below is from a Pulse Opinion Research, LLC poll on August 26, 2009:
Seventy-eight percent (78%) of likely voters were opposed to legalizing the status of the estimated 12 million illegal immigrants in the U.S. with only 19% supporting it. 88% of African-Americans were opposed to legalization.
Mexico has a corrupt government that oppresses the people. As a result, there are no opportunities for people in that country. Seeking other opportunities, these hard working people move North and are exploited by "coyotes" before they are even able to cross the border. Once here in the country, many immigrants are further exploited in jobs without regulation and off the books. There is really no need for this migration from Mexico, because Mexico has similar resources, minerals and energy sources to the United States.
Unfortunately, the corrupt government has access to Mexico's wealth and the people do not. Therefore if the corruption is removed, then Mexico would be able to provide economic opportunities for its people on levels where WE would be trying to emigrate to Mexico. In fact, a nice beach pad in Baja California sounds quite appealing right now or something on the Cortez Sea.
If we clean up both our corrupt government and the corrupt Mexican government, then the illegal immigration issue will no longer be an issue, because people will not want to leave their homelands and travel thousands of miles across the desert only to be exploited once they are here. However, as long as there are no opportunities in these homelands, people will continue trying to move elsewhere to provide for their respective families - and I do not blame them! I may have to emigrate somewhere else if the opportunities continue evaporating here in the States.
Source: ALIPAC ; Seattle Times
Image Source: David Dees
U.S. Postal Service To Deliver Drugs in the Event of a Biological Attack (Obama Executive Order 13527)
The White House Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
December 30, 2009
Executive Order -- Medical Countermeasures Following a Biological Attack
By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, it is hereby ordered as follows:
Section 1. Policy. It is the policy of the United States to plan and prepare for the timely provision of medical countermeasures to the American people in the event of a biological attack in the United States through a rapid Federal response in coordination with State, local, territorial, and tribal governments.
This policy would seek to: (1) mitigate illness and prevent death; (2) sustain critical infrastructure; and (3) complement and supplement State, local, territorial, and tribal government medical countermeasure distribution capacity.
Sec. 2. United States Postal Service Delivery of Medical Countermeasures.
(a) The U.S. Postal Service has the capacity for rapid residential delivery of medical countermeasures for self administration across all communities in the United States. The Federal Government shall pursue a national U.S. Postal Service medical countermeasures dispensing model to respond to a large-scale biological attack.
(b) The Secretaries of Health and Human Services and Homeland Security, in coordination with the U.S. Postal Service, within 180 days of the date of this order, shall establish a national U.S. Postal Service medical countermeasures dispensing model for U.S. cities to respond to a large-scale biological attack, with anthrax as the primary threat consideration.
(c) In support of the national U.S. Postal Service model, the Secretaries of Homeland Security, Health and Human Services, and Defense, and the Attorney General, in coordination with the U.S. Postal Service, and in consultation with State and local public health, emergency management, and law enforcement officials, within 180 days of the date of this order, shall develop an accompanying plan for supplementing local law enforcement personnel, as necessary and appropriate, with local Federal law enforcement, as well as other appropriate personnel, to escort U.S. Postal workers delivering medical countermeasures.
Sec. 3. Federal Rapid Response.
(a) The Federal Government must develop the capacity to anticipate and immediately supplement the capabilities of affected jurisdictions to rapidly distribute medical countermeasures following a biological attack. Implementation of a Federal strategy to rapidly dispense medical countermeasures requires establishment of a Federal rapid response capability.
(b) The Secretaries of Homeland Security and Health and Human Services, in coordination with the Secretary of Defense, within 90 days of the date of this order, shall develop a concept of operations and establish requirements for a Federal rapid response to dispense medical countermeasures to an affected population following a large-scale biological attack.
Sec. 4. Continuity of Operations.
(a) The Federal Government must establish mechanisms for the provision of medical countermeasures to personnel performing missionessential functions to ensure that mission-essential functions of Federal agencies continue to be performed following a biological attack.
(b) The Secretaries of Health and Human Services and Homeland Security, within 180 days of the date of this order, shall develop a plan for the provision of medical countermeasures to ensure that mission-essential functions of executive branch departments and agencies continue to be performed following a large-scale biological attack.
Sec. 5. General Provisions.
(a) Nothing in this order shall be construed to impair or otherwise affect:
(i) authority granted by law to a department or agency, or the head thereof; or
(ii) functions of the Director of the Office of Management and Budget relating to budgetary, administrative, or legislative proposals.
(b) This order shall be implemented consistent with applicable law and subject to the availability of appropriations.
(c) This order is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity, by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.
THE WHITE HOUSE,
December 30, 2009.
Two Research Students Killed in Lab Fire at Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) Complex in Chembur Northeast Bombay
Two research students were burnt alive in a fire that broke out in a building housing a chemical laboratory inside the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) complex in Chembur in north-east Mumbai Tuesday afternoon, an official said. However, the main reactor was not threatened...
Police sources said that the fire may have erupted following a suspected chemical reaction that led to a blast in the laboratory housing analytical instruments.
Source: The Economic Times
Wednesday, December 30, 2009
Take a look at this picture of Macho B, who was the last remaining jaguar in the United States. Macho B was recently captured and fitted with an electronic tracking device. Macho B was dead soon thereafter. Was it the trap that killed Macho B when it snared his paw (see picture above)? Or was it the electronic tracking collar? Electronic devices have been previously known to adversely affect animal health.
The official press release from the Arizona Game and Fish Department is below.
Collared Arizona jaguar euthanized
Mar 2, 2009
A collared jaguar from southern Arizona that was recaptured today for medical intervention has been euthanized after veterinarians determined the cat was in severe and unrecoverable kidney failure.
The decision was made in consultations between the Arizona Game and Fish Department, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Phoenix Zoo.
The jaguar was brought to the Phoenix Zoo earlier today after a team from the department recaptured it. Zoo veterinarians conducted lab work and physical exams to evaluate the animal and discover the source of the cat’s deteriorating condition.
While early data indicated that the animal was doing well in the days following the capture and collaring, careful monitoring of recent data revealed a decreased level of activity over the weekend that warranted further investigation.
“This is an unfortunate and disappointing situation,” said Gary Hovatter, deputy director of the Arizona Gama and Fish Department. “We were looking forward to using the data acquired from Macho B to learn more about the species use of the borderland habitats in order to further conserve the species as a whole.”
Macho B was believed to be the oldest known jaguar in the wild. His age was estimated at two to three years old in photographs taken in 1996, making him 15-16 years old now. Previously the oldest known jaguar in the wild was 13 years old.
Kidney failure is a common ailment in older cats.
“It is a sad, but appropriate course of action to euthanize this animal given the hopelessly terminal nature of his condition,” said Steve Spangle, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Arizona field supervisor.
A necropsy will be performed to learn more about the jaguar’s condition and to possibly provide clues into how long the animal had been sick.
The jaguar’s initial capture was guided by protocols developed in case a jaguar was inadvertently captured in the course of other wildlife management activities. The plan, which was created in consultation with leading jaguar experts, includes a protocol for capture, sedation and handling.
It is a sad loss and what makes it even sadder is Macho B likely did not have to die. The Phoenix Zoo may have jumped the gun when it came to putting him to sleep!
Macho B may not have had chronic kidney failure after all.
Tissue samples from the last known wild jaguar in the United States showed no sign of kidney disease, the diagnosis Phoenix Zoo veterinarians made in deciding to euthanize him.
A pathologist at the UA's Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory, which reviewed the tissue samples, said authorities may have moved too fast to euthanize the animal early this month.
Source: AZStar.net; Arizona Game and Fish Department
Earth's North Magnetic Pole Is Moving Toward Russia at Forty (40) Miles a Year Due to Planetary Core Flux!
The magnetic north pole had moved little from the time scientists first located it in 1831. Then in 1904, the pole began shifting northeastward at a steady pace of about 9 miles (15 kilometers) a year.
In 1989 it sped up again, and in 2007 scientists confirmed that the pole is now galloping toward Siberia at 34 to 37 miles (55 to 60 kilometers) a year...
Scientists had long suspected that, since the molten core is constantly moving, changes in its magnetism might be affecting the surface location of magnetic north.
Source: National Geographic
by Christine Kim
Tuesday, December 29, 2009
ANCHORAGE, Alaska -- Officials say Alaska's unique location has put it on the forefront of emergency alerts.
The state will be the first to test a live National Emergency Message Code.
It's not surprising that Alaska will be the first state to test this code, it was the first to test the live tsunami alert system, and now will be the first to try this nation-wide alert.
In any emergency situation the goal is to alert the public as quickly and as efficiently as possible.
Recent public service announcements warn viewers and listeners of an emergency code test that will hit airwaves at 10 a.m. on Jan. 6.
It's an exercise to see if, during a real national emergency, the word will reach the public.
"This particular test is going to use the real code if there was a national-level emergency and the president needed to talk to the American public. It's going to use the actual code that would be used during a national emergency," said Bryan Fisher, Chief of Operations at the Alaska Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management.
The Emergency Action Notification Code can only be activated by the president. It's never been tested before and officials say Alaska is the ideal location.
"If we can make the system work here, it will work anywhere. Alaska is really a natural test bed with our distances and our geographic limitations and the communication system up here. If we can prove that it works up here, it should work anywhere else in the country," Fisher said.
Several FEMA and national homeland security officials will come to Alaska to monitor the exercise that will operate out of Alaska's homeland security center.
The real alert will broadcast the president's voice on an audio track through radio and TV, but the test audio will first come to a local radio station, KFQD, and will be distributed to relay points across the state.
"When it comes to a connection or an activation from Washington, DC, the system has no limit so they're going to double-check and make sure everything will function differently," said Dennis Bookey with the state emergency communications.
"With the environment we're in today with homeland security and the terrorist threat there is a potential that the president could use the system to alert the public of a terrorist threat," Fisher said.
After the emergency code is tested officials will make changes and adjustments accordingly so that our nation and state will be prepared.
Alaska Homeland Security says after the test in Alaska, the aim is to do one nation-wide sometime next year.
A Web site will go live on Jan. 6 so the public can log in to give feedback after the test is broadcast. The site will not be active until then.
More commonly found in beauty products such as skin creams, squalene can be used to make an adjuvant, a compound that boosts the body's immune response.
The World Health Organization recommends adjuvant-based vaccines, because they allow drug makers to create doses that use less of the active component, increasing available supplies.
Olive oil, wheat germ oil, and rice bran oil also naturally contain squalene, albeit in smaller amounts. But for now squalene is primarily harvested from sharks caught by commercial fishers, especially deepwater species.
Source: National Geographic
Tuesday, December 29, 2009
Penn State University Hit in Cyberattack That Potentially Compromised 30,000 Social Security Numbers!
The Social Security numbers of about 30,000 people became vulnerable after malicious software attacked Penn State University computers some time before Dec. 23, school officials said Tuesday...
The school is trying to determine whose Social Security numbers were exposed, Mountz said. She could not say whether they belonged to faculty, staff, alumni or others.
The breaches involved 7,758 records in the Eberly College of Science, 6,827 records in the College of Health and Human Development, and about 15,000 records from a Penn State branch campus.
Is it China that is doing all of this damage? Who knows, but Colonel Gary McAlum testified before Congress that our country's cyber capabilities are woefully behind China's cyber capabilities.
Source: Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
Enter full body scanners like something out of "Total Recall" that will soon be rolled out in ten (10) airports in the United States of America. If the powers-that-be were trying limit my airline travel capabilities, then they should consider the mission accomplished, because I will not be flying under these circumstances. I thought I had an explicit right to travel in the Constitution, but after researching the issue, I realize that I do not (though the Court says the right to travel is firmly established and repeatedly recognized).
The hi-tech machines are being installed in ten US airports and take just seconds to scan plane passengers.
They are designed to replace the physical pat-downs that is currently widespread in airports.
A random selection of plane travellers in Washington, New York's Kennedy, Los Angeles and other key hubs will be shut in glass booths while a three-dimensional image is made of their body beneath their clothes.
The booths close around the passenger and emit "millimetre waves" that go through cloth to identify metal, plastics, ceramics, chemical materials and explosives, according to the Transport Safety Authority (TSA).
While it allows the security screeners - looking at the images in a separate room - to clearly see the passenger's sexual organs as well as other details of their bodies, the passenger's face is blurred, TSA said.
Source: The Sun
Monday, December 28, 2009
Navajo Wind Farm Set for Big Boquillas Ranch, Arizona & Will Produce 85 Megawatts (First Wind Farm Owned by Native American Tribe)
The Navajo Nation has announced plans to break ground on a $200 million wind farm late in 2010 on ranch lands about 80 miles west of Flagstaff...
The Navajo Nation, Foresight Wind Energy and Edison Mission Energy propose to build a 48-turbine array by December 2011, and to sell the electricity produced from the wind farm in Arizona.
The wind farm is proposed for the Big Boquillas Ranch, which stretches from the very windy Aubrey Cliffs northwest of Seligman to an area west of Valle and south of the Grand Canyon.
If operating at about the same efficiency as the proposed Dry Lake wind farm near Winslow, the 85-megawatt wind farm would generate enough electricity to power more than 20,200 homes when operating at full capacity.
Source: AZ Daily Sun
Dec 21, 2009 (CIDRAP News) – Egypt's health ministry has confirmed an H5N1 avian influenza infection in a 21-year-old woman, the country's third case since late September, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported today.
The woman, from El Tanta district of Gharbia governorate, in northern Egypt, got sick with a fever and cough on Dec 15 and was admitted to the hospital the same day, where she was treated with oseltamivir (Tamiflu). She is in stable condition, the WHO reported. She is listed as Egypt's 90th WHO-confirmed H5N1 case, of which 27 have been fatal.
An investigation into the source of her infection revealed that the woman had close contact with dead poultry and had helped slaughter sick birds.
Egypt's Central Public Laboratories, one of the WHO's national collaborating centers, confirmed the case.
The country so far has recorded more H5N1 cases in 2009 than any other. Of 52 cases reported internationally, 38 were from Egypt. Of those Egyptians who were infected, only four died.
Egypt's latest case confirmation raises the global H5N1 tally to 447 cases, of which 263 have been fatal.
USDA approves first swine vaccine.
Published: Dec 24, 2009 by FarmProgress
Pfizer Animal Health said its swine influenza vaccine, a killed virus vaccine developed and made at its plant in Lincoln, Neb., has been approved by USDA for vaccination of healthy swine, including pregnant sows and gilts, three weeks of age or older against subtype H1N1. Pfizer becomes the first U.S. biologics manufacturer to receive a USDA conditional license for this new vaccine. Because the product license is conditional, efficacy and/or potency of this product have not been fully demonstrated.
Pfizer says the new vaccine is a freeze-dried preparation and requires a 2-millileter dose and a booster after three weeks. Pfizer said it has built an adequate inventory of this new vaccine to ensure supply in pork-producing states. Local use of the new pH1N1 vaccine requires the approval of state veterinarians and Pfizer said it is working to achieve state-by-state approvals.
Steve Sornsen, director of veterinary services for Pfizer Animal Health, said serologic studies showed an increase in antibody titers against the pandemic H1N1 strain. Pfizer advised its producers to consult their veterinarian on the use of this new conditionally-licensed vaccine, as well as continue to follow American Association of Swine Veterinarians and National Pork Producers Council recommendations for routine flu preventive measures.
Did President Obama Surrender America's Sovereignty to INTERPOL with His Amended Executive Order 12425?
At ThreatsWatch.org, Steve Schippert and Clyde Middleton have dug up the bizarre and unsettling issuance of an executive order recently signed by President Barack Obama. Executive Order — Amending Executive Order 12425, signed December 16 and released a day later, grants the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL) rights on American soil that place it beyond the reach of our own law enforcement agencies, such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
Schippert and Middleton note that Obama’s order removes protections placed upon INTERPOL by President Reagan in 1983. Obama’s order gives the group the authority to avoid Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests — which means this foreign law enforcement organization can operate free of an important safeguard against governmental abuse. “Property and assets,” including the organization’s records, cannot be searched or seized. Their physical locations and records are now immune from U.S. legal or investigative authorities.
In 1983, President Ronald Reagan signed Executive Order 12425 called "International Criminal Police Organizations," which is a very appropriate name. The law allowed INTERPOL to operate within the United States of America. The full text of Reagan's original Order is:
By virtue of the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and statutes of the United States, including Section 1 of the International Organizations Immunities Act (59 Stat. 669, 22 U.S.C. 288), it is hereby ordered that the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL), in which the United States participates pursuant to 22 U.S.C. 263a, is hereby designated as a public international organization entitled to enjoy the privileges, exemptions and immunities conferred by the International Organizations Immunities Act; except those provided by Section 2(c), the portions of Section 2(d) and Section 3 relating to customs duties and federal internal-revenue importation taxes, Section 4, Section 5, and Section 6 of that Act. This designation is not intended to abridge in any respect the privileges, exemptions or immunities which such organization may have acquired or may acquire by international agreement or by Congressional action.
Please note that Reagan limited the privileges, exemptions and immunities conferred to INTERPOL by the International Organizations Immunities Act. The full text of those privileges, exemptions and immunities is listed below. However, President Obama has amended Reagan's Order and removed all these limitations. The full text of Obama's Amended Executive Order 12425 is in the below press release:
The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
December 17, 2009
Executive Order -- Amending Executive Order 12425
- - - - - - -
AMENDING EXECUTIVE ORDER 12425 DESIGNATING INTERPOL AS A PUBLIC INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATION ENTITLED TO ENJOY CERTAIN PRIVILEGES, EXEMPTIONS, AND IMMUNITIES
By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, including section 1 of the International Organizations Immunities Act (22 U.S.C. 288), and in order to extend the appropriate privileges, exemptions, and immunities to the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL), it is hereby ordered that Executive Order 12425 of June 16, 1983, as amended, is further amended by deleting from the first sentence the words "except those provided by Section 2(c), Section 3, Section 4, Section 5, and Section 6 of that Act" and the semicolon that immediately precedes them.
THE WHITE HOUSE,
December 16, 2009.
Obama's Executive Order removes the restrictions defined in Section 2(c), Section 3, Section 4, Section 5, and Section 6 of the International Organizations Immunities Act (59 Stat. 669.) and removes those restrictions. The full text of those Sections is listed below.
International organizations shall enjoy the status, immunities, exemptions, and privileges set forth in this section, as follows:
(c) Property and assets of international organizations, wherever located and by whomsoever held, shall be immune from search, unless such immunity be expressly waived, and from confiscation. The archives of international organizations shall be inviolable.
(d) Insofar as concerns customs duties and internal-revenue taxes imposed upon or by reason of importation, and the procedures in connection therewith; the registration of foreign agents;
Pursuant to regulations prescribed by the Commissioner of Customs with the approval of the Secretary of the Treasury, the baggage and effects of alien officers and employees of international organizations, or of aliens designated by foreign governments to serve as their representatives in or to such organizations, or of the families, suites, and servants of such officers, employees, or representatives shall be admitted (when imported in connection with the arrival of the owner) free of customs duties and free of internal-revenue taxes imposed upon or by reason of importation.
The Internal Revenue Code is hereby amended as follows:
(a) Effective with respect to taxable years beginning after December 31, 1943, section 116 (c), relating to the exclusion from gross income of income of foreign governments, is amended to read as follows:
``(C) INCOME OF FOREIGN GOVERNMENTS AND OF INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATIONS.—The income of foreign governments or international organizations received from investments in the United States in stocks, bonds, or other domestic securities, owned by such foreign governments or by international organizations, or from interest on deposits in banks in the United States of moneys belonging to such foreign governments or international organizations, or from any other source within the United States.´´
(b) Effective with respect to taxable years beginning after December 31, 1943, section 116 (h) (1), relating to the exclusion from gross income of amounts paid employees of foreign governments, is amended to read as follows:
``(1) RULE FOR EXCLUSION.—Wages, fees, or salary of any employee of a foreign government or of an international organization or of the Commonwealth of the Philippines (including a consular or other officer, or a nondiplomatic representative), received as compensation for official services to such government, international organization, or such Commonwealth—
``(A) If such employee is not a citizen of the United States, or is a citizen of the Commonwealth of the Philippines (whether or not a citizen of the United States); and
``(B) If, in the case of an employee of a foreign government or of the Commonwealth of the Philippines, the services are of a character similar to those performed by employees of the Government of the United States in foreign countries or in the Commonwealth of the Philippines, as the case may be; and
``(C) If, in the case of an employee of a foreign government or the Commonwealth of the Philippines, the foreign government or the Commonwealth grants an equivalent exemption to employees of the Government of the United States performing similar services in such foreign country or such Commonwealth, as the case may be.´´
(c) Effective January 1, 1946, section 1426 (b), defining the term ‘‘employment’’ for the purposes of the Federal Insurance Contributions Act, is amended (1) by striking out the word ‘‘or’’ at the end of paragraph (14), (2) by striking out the period at the end of paragraph (15) and inserting in lieu thereof a semicolon and the word ‘‘or’’, and (3) by inserting at the end of the subsection the following new paragraph:
``(16) Service performed in the employ of an international organization.´´
(d) Effective January 1, 1946, section 1607 (c) defining the term ‘‘employment’’ for the purposes of the Federal Unemploment Tax Act, is amended (1) by striking out the word ‘‘or’’ at the end of paragraph (14), (2) by striking out the period at the end of paragraph (15) and inserting in lieu thereof a semicolon and the word ‘‘or’’, and (3) by inserting at the end of the subsection the following new paragraph:
``(16) Service performed in the employ of an international organization.´´
(e) Section 1621 (a) (5), relating to the definition of ‘‘wages’’ for the purpose of collection of income tax at the source, is amended by inserting after the words ‘‘foreign government’’ the words ‘‘or an international organization’’.
(f) Section 3466 (a), relating to exemption from communications taxes is amended by inserting immediately after the words ‘‘the District of Columbia’’ a comma and the words ‘‘or an international organization’’.
(g) Section 3469 (f) (1), relating to exemption from the tax on transportation of persons, is amended by inserting immediately after the words ‘‘the District of Columbia’’ a comma and the words ‘‘or an international organization’’.
(h) Section 3475 (b) (1), relating to exemption from the tax on transportation of property, is amended by inserting immediately after the words ‘‘the District of Columbia’’ a comma and the words ‘‘or an international organization’’.
(i) Section 3797 (a), relating to definitions, is amended by adding at the end thereof a new paragraph as follows:
``(18) INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATION.—The term ‘international organization’ means a public international organization entitled to enjoy privileges, exemptions, and immunities as an international organization under the International Organizations Immunities Act.´´
(a) Effective January 1, 1946, section 209 (b) of the Social Security Act, defining the term ‘‘employment’’ for the purposes of title II of the Act, is amended (1) by striking out the word ‘‘or’’ at the end paragraph (14), (2) by striking out the period at the end of paragraph (15) and inserting in lieu thereof a seinicolon and the word ‘‘or’’, and (3) by inserting at the end of the subsection the following new paragraph:
``(16) Service performed in the employ of an international organization entitled to enjoy privileges, exemptions, and immunities as an international organization under the International Organizations Immunities Act.´´
(b) No tax shall be collected under title VIII or IX of the Social Security Act or under the Federal Insurance Contributions Act or the Federal Unemployment Tax Act, with respect to services rendered prior to January 1, 1946, which are described in paragraph (16) of sections 1426 (b) and 1607 (c) of the Internal Revenue Code, as amended, and any such tax heretofore collected (including penalty and interest with respect thereto, if any) shall be refunded in accordance with the provisions of law applicable in the case of erroneous or illegal collection of the tax. No interest shall be allowed or paid on the amount of any such refund. No payment shall be made under title II of the Social Security Act with respect to services rendered prior to January 1, 1946, which are described in paragraph (16) of section 209 (b) of such Act, as amended.
International organizations shall be exempt from all property taxes imposed by, or under the authority of, any Act of Congress, including such Acts as are applicable solely to the District of Columbia or the Territories.
Newport couple witnesses to airliner attack
By Danielle Portteus , last modified December 26. 2009 11:22PM
A Newport couple had a Christmas they never will forget.
Kurt and Lori Haskell sat seven rows behind a 23-year-old Nigerian man on Northwest Airlines Flight 253 from Amsterdam who now has been charged with trying to destroy the plane in what is believed to be an attempted act of terrorism.
The Haskells were coming home from a safari vacation in Uganda and were on layover in Amsterdam on Christmas. While sitting on the floor waiting to board, Mr. Haskell said he noticed something unusual.
An Indian man who "looked wealthy and was dressed in a nice suit" approached the ticket counter with a young man.
"They looked like an odd couple because the Indian man was dressed so nice and the person, who I thought was a teen, was a scraggly dressed black guy," Mr. Haskell said. "... The Indian man said he needed to get (the Nigerian man) on the plane, but he had no passport."
Mr. Haskell, 38, said the Indian man told the woman at the ticket counter that "the man was from Sudan and that it was typical (to let him on the plane without a passport)."
The young man was sent down the hall to talk with a manager. A few minutes later, passengers boarded the plane bound for Detroit Metropolitan Airport.
The flight was "nice and smooth" until shortly before landing. Mr. Haskell said the pilot made an announcement for the passengers to prepare for landing. About 10 minutes later, a second announcement was made directed at the flight attendants.
"Within a few seconds, I heard one stewardesses say that something smelled like smoke," Mr. Haskell said. "I looked up from my seat and saw the smoke coming from row 20."
The Haskells were sitting in seats H and J in row 27, seven rows back from the fire. Once he saw the smoke, Mr. Haskell unbuckled his beat and took a few steps forward.
"I saw the flames shooting up and saw the wall was on fire," he said. "I thought we were going to die."
A male flight attendant put out the flames. Fear took over as passengers realized the situation they just had faced.
"People were yelling ‘terrorist’ and ‘fire’," Mr. Haskell said. "The flight attendants, who are usually calm, were screaming, and it was scary."
That was when Mr. Haskell noticed the man who started the fire was the same man who he saw at the Amsterdam ticket counter.
The suspect quickly was moved to the first-class section of the plane, and the Haskells did not see him afterward. The man, since identified as Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, was handcuffed and taken into custody when the plane landed.
The pilot announced there would be an emergency landing and the plane picked up speed, Mr. Haskell said, hitting the ground about five minutes after the ordeal.
Once grounded, the passengers were left on board for about 20 minutes before being escorted inside the airport to customs, where they were kept for about six hours without the ability to contact family.
"It was sad and disorganized," Mr. Haskell said. "They didn’t seem to be prepared."
A bomb-sniffing dog was sent in to check the bags, and something was detected in another passenger’s carry-on bag, Mr. Haskell said.
"I can’t believe they let us stand by him for almost an hour," he said.
The security in Amsterdam was similar to the United States, Mr. Haskell said, but he still is baffled how a person without a passport would be allowed to board a plane.
"I’m concerned that someone with a one-way ticket, no passport and no luggage could just get on a flight," he said.
The Christmas Day events did not sink in with the couple until Saturday.
"I don’t think what happened really sank in until this morning," Mr. Haskell said Saturday. "He was a terrorist with a sophisticated bomb."
"We were in shock," Mrs. Haskell, 32, added. "The first thing I thought of was my mom. She is always worried when I fly."
The incident will not deter the couple from flying again. The avid travelers take four to five vacations a year.
"I think we will stay in the United States for a while," Mr. Haskell said.
"We are definitely not flying through Amsterdam anytime soon," Mrs. Haskell said. "But I’m looking on the positive side. This is a one in a million chance that it happened."
The Haskells are both attorneys with Haskell Law Firm in Taylor. Mrs. Haskell is a member of the Jefferson Schools Board of Education.
Sunday, December 27, 2009
Layoffs are a fact of life in this economy, but there are humane ways to do it. Then there's the Arrow Trucking Arrow Trucking method.
The Tulsa, Okla., trucking company stopped payment on the gas cards of its drivers, leaving some of them stranded Tuesday around the United States, miles from home. No explanation on the website. No one at the company answering phones.
Source: ABC News
Saturday, December 26, 2009
NASA aircraft flies California Post-Burn imaging mission
from Public Affairs
NASA-Dryden Flight Research Center
12/2/2009 - EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- NASA's remotely piloted Predator B, named Ikhana, aircraft equipped with an infrared imaging sensor recently conducted post-burn assessments of two Southern California wildfire sites, the Piute Fire in Kern County and the Station Fire in the Angeles National Forest. The unmanned aircraft completed a seven-hour imaging flight Nov. 19 from NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center on Edwards Air Force Base, Calif.
The Station Fire imaging flight tracks were flown in the national airspace system though close coordination with the Federal Aviation Administration.
The Autonomous Modular Scanner, developed by NASA's Ames Research Center at Moffett Field, Calif., was carried in a pod under the aircraft's wing. The scanner operates like a digital camera with specialized filters to detect light energy at visible, infrared and thermal wavelengths.
The scanner operated with a new photo mosaic capability at the request of the U.S. Forest Service. A photo mosaic provides ease of interpretation for the end user, which in the case of an active wildfire is the fire incident commander.
Traveling to the northwest of NASA Dryden and Edwards, the aircraft flew several data collection paths over the area burned by the month-long Piute Fire in Kern County that grew to 37,026 acres before it was contained in July 2008. The burn area is located in the Sequoia National Forest and on Bureau of Land Management public land near Lake Isabella.
Ikhana then traveled southeast to fly image collection lines over the arson-caused Station Fire. It burned more than 160,000 acres in the Angeles National Forest northeast of Los Angeles after being ignited on Aug. 26, 2009. The scanner collected images that will indicate the severity of devastation within the fire area. Another use of the images is for the U.S. Forest Service's Burned Area Emergency Rehabilitation, or BAER.
The Forest Service uses BAER to reduce further damage to land made unstable by fires, rather than replace what is burned. The BAER data are derived using multi-spectral data available from the Autonomous Modular Scanner on the aircraft. The processes can be changed mid-mission to enable improved collection of critical information, either in mapping active fires or assessing post-burn severity.
The post-burn images collected by the scanner were transmitted through a communications satellite to NASA Ames, where the images were superimposed over Google Earth and Microsoft Virtual Earth maps to better visualize the locations. The images then were made available to the Forest Service for initial assessment of the damage caused by the fires and rehabilitation required.
Ikhana carried the Autonomous Modular Scanner for Western States Fire Mission flights in 2007 and 2008, imaging wildfires from south of the U.S. border with Canada to near the Mexican border. Critical information about the location, size and terrain around the fires was sent to commanders in the field in as little as 10 minutes. This fall Ikhana was poised to fly a 2009 Western States Fire Mission should NASA have received a request for support from emergency service organizations.
NASA provided the funding for this flight, in partnership with the U.S. Army.
FLASHBACK: U.S. Forest Service Law Enforcement Program Fielding Unmanned Drone Fleet to Hover Above Forests
Contact: Kirsten Stade (202) 265-7337
Washington, DC — The U.S. Forest Service has purchased pilot-less aircraft to provide day and night photo reconnaissance for its law enforcement program, according to agency records released today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). The two “unmanned aerial vehicles,” or drones, may represent the beginnings of wider conversion of military robotic technology for civilian uses.
The two “Sky Seers” were obtained by the Forest Service on December 10, 2007 at a cost of $100,000 from Chang Industries, Inc. of La Verne, California. The package includes one “day version” and one “night version” of the drone, together with a “Pan/tilt thermal camera” to record heat signatures at night.
A March 12, 2007 purchase request from the Forest Service Law Enforcement & Investigations (LE&I) program states it “has been monitoring and evaluating UAVs [unmanned aerial vehicles] intermittently since 1997, when their use was considered in support of Operation Linebacker, a border enforcement initiative.” While this “Sole Source Request” details desired equipment specifications, the Forest Service could produce no documents spelling out what they want to use drones for or why pilot-less craft are preferred, in response to a Freedom of Information Act request from PEER.
The drones purchase took place shortly after Forest Service LE&I spent $600,000 buying tasers for its entire enforcement staff, without any guidelines or training program. The tasers are still sitting in storage cartons. After PEER revealed the taser fiasco, LE&I staff told PEER about the drones and suggested a records request in order to validate staff concerns that the purchase –
- Has little practical law enforcement application in the national forests and reflects a “boys with toys” mentality among LE&I leadership;
- May also sit in storage because LE&I lacks qualified personnel to operate the drones. Although the purchase package includes training, LE&I notes that new Federal Aviation Administration rules “could make it more difficult to obtain Certificates of Authorization to fly the UAVs”; and
- Is a low priority when the Forest Service is cutting back on the number of Special Agents and law enforcement officers. Forest Service law enforcement force levels have shrunk by more than one-third over the past 15 years. LE&I is holding more than 200 positions vacant, even as President Bush is proposing further cuts in the next fiscal year.
“As with tasers, a cash-starved Forest Service is buying glitzy hardware with zero justification as to why this is a good use of tax dollars,” stated PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch. “Why stop at drones? Are they going to buy Robo-Rangers next?”
In contrast to LE&I, Forest Service Fire Management is making a relatively modest investment in drones as a possible tool to aid fighting wildland fires. In 2005, the agency’s fire program spent $10,560 on a Cyber Bug drone to begin developing greater command and control capacity in fast-moving fires.
Unlike fire uses, law enforcement application of aerial monitoring raises privacy issues for forest visitors who may not realize that they are being watched, photographed and cybercast from an elevation of 7,000 feet by a drone. The Sky Seers can hover for more than one hour and have quiet electric motors.
“The use of spy technology in the domestic U.S. should not be undertaken lightly,” Ruch added. “Before the Forest Service deploys eyes in the sky, the agency should write some basic rules to prevent abuse.”
Today, the Chief of the Forest Service appears before two U.S. Senate committees to justify its budget request for the coming fiscal year.
Friday, December 25, 2009
12/25/09 16:22 Sheen Arrested on Domestic Violence Charges (this link will probably be dead when the Pitkin alert site is updated)
ASPEN, CO - 12/25/2009 – On Friday, December 25, 2009 at 8:34AM the Aspen Pitkin County Communications Center received a 911 call regarding a domestic violence situation at 320 West Hallam Street, Aspen, Colorado. Officers from the Aspen Police Department responded immediately to the scene and upon arrival investigated the incident. Officer Rick Magnuson placed Carlos Irwin Estevez , also known as Charlie Sheen, 44, of Encino, California under arrest for Second Degree Assault, a class four felony, Menacing, a class five felony and Criminal Mischief, a class one misdemeanor. All charges are coupled with a domestic violence component. Mr. Sheen is being held with no bond.
Aspen Ambulance responded to the scene, the victim did not require transport to the hospital.
Sheen will be held in the Pitkin County Jail until his court appearance at the Pitkin County Courthouse. The date has not been set. During the court appearance Mr. Sheen will be advised of conditions of any bond and pre-trial release. Colorado mandates a protection order between arrestees for domestic violence and their victims.
The Aspen Police Department anticipates providing an update on Saturday, December 26, 2009 with any additional information available. Please sign up for press release updates at www.pitkinalert.com. Select Local Press Release group and add your cell phone or email account for notification. For media questions, please contact the Aspen Police Department at (970) 920-5400 to speak with Community Relations Specialist Stephanie Dasaro.
Thursday, December 24, 2009
However, when there is a real environmental issue, the government is either silent on the issue or actually promotes the environmentally damaging issue. Case in point, the government is urging farmers to use a chalky waste product from coal-fired power plants on their fields and crops. What? Did I just write that accurately? A waste product on the fields where we grow our foods? Man, I have heard it all.
The federal government is encouraging farmers to spread a chalky waste from coal-fired power plants on their fields to loosen and fertilize soil even as it considers regulating coal wastes for the first time.
The material is produced by power plant "scrubbers" that remove acid rain causing sulfur dioxide from plant emissions. A synthetic form of the mineral gypsum, it also contains mercury, arsenic, lead and other heavy metals.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says those toxic metals occur in only tiny amounts that pose no threat to crops, surface water or humans. But some environmentalists say too little is known about how the material affects crops, and ultimately human health, for the government to suggest that farmers use it on their land.
"Basically this is a leap into the unknown," said Jeff Ruch, executive director of Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility. "This stuff has materials in it that we're trying to prevent entering the environment from coal-fired power plants and then to turn around and smear it across ag lands raises some real questions."
Source: San Francisco Chronicle
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
Officials have confirmed a 13-year-old male mixed-breed dog has tested positive for H1N1. This marks the first case of a dog in the United States contracting swine flu.
On December 13th, 2009, the dog was taken to the Katonah Bedford Veterinarian Center in Bedford Hills, N.Y. with a variety of symptoms. According to reports, the dog was lethargic, was not eating, had a dry cough, fever and had breathing difficulties. Because the dog’s owner previously tested positive for H1N1, the dog was tested. The test was sent to the lab at Iowa State University Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratories for confirmation.
An unmanned aircraft the military uses for carrying cargo and dropping leaflets in war zones has earned the attention of the Kansas National Guard.
Designated the CQ-10A SnowGoose by its Canadian manufacturer, the unmanned aerial vehicle is undergoing several days of testing at the Smoky Hill Weapons Range outside Salina. Smoky Hill also is the home of the Guard's Great Plains Joint Training Center.
"It's ugly, but it's very functional," said Chuck Jarnot, a former Army helicopter pilot who is working as a consultant for Mist Mobility Integrated Systems Technology Inc. The Canadian firm has sold 40 of the aircraft to the U.S. military and they are being used in Iraq and Afghanistan. The SnowGoose is the world's first unmanned cargo aircraft.
Maj. Gen. Tod Bunting, Kansas adjutant general and Guard commander, invited MMIST to bring the SnowGoose to Kansas and use the Smoky Hill air space for further development and testing. It also let Guard leaders consider how it could be integrated into a variety of military uses.
"We see a lot of potential for it in Homeland Security," said Lt. Col. J.J. Jordan, Great Plains training officer.
The SnowGoose can be used to carry communications equipment over disaster areas, and speakers can be attached and used to broadcast messages to areas without communications, Jordan said. It also can be used to re-establish cell phone networks in a devastated area.
The aircraft can transport up to 600 pounds of cargo and stay in the air for about 20 hours. Its cargo boxes are like a "chest of drawers," Jarnot said. The cargo can be dropped from the air with a parachute or delivered after the aircraft lands.
The SnowGoose has been used to resupply small Special Forces teams in remote areas. Using it for such drops is safer for the soldiers, and it removes the risk of flying in a helicopter.
Shots have been fired, hostages have been taken and the man has threatened to blow up the building. There have been no hostage demands to date.
An armed man took five people hostage Wednesday at a post office in a small, rural town, officials said.
Shots were fired, but there were no reports of injuries. Police cordoned off a three-block area, and Virginia State Police sent in a SWAT team and a bomb technician.
Scotland Yard has warned businesses in London to expect a Mumbai-style attack on the capital.
In a briefing in the City of London 12 days ago, a senior detective from SO15, the Metropolitan police counter-terrorism command, said: “Mumbai is coming to London.”
The detective said companies should anticipate a shooting and hostage-taking raid “involving a small number of gunmen with handguns and improvised explosive devices”.
Someone better call Union Jack!
Source: Times Online
Image Source: Daily P.O.P.
AstraZeneca's MedImmune Recalls Nearly Five Million (5,000,000) Doses of H1N1 "Swine Flu" Nasal Spray Vaccine
Maryland-based MedImmune is recalling nearly 5 million doses of H1N1 flu vaccine because the nasal spray appears to lose strength over time, federal health officials announced Tuesday.
The vaccine recall is the second this month caused by declining potency and comes as public health officials urge millions of Americans to get vaccinated against H1N1.
The action affects more than 4.6 million doses, but the vast majority have already been used, according to the Food and Drug Administration. Agency officials said the vaccine was strong enough when it was distributed in October and November.
You can read the MedImmune's nasal spray vaccine package insert by clicking this sentence.
Source: Local Tech Wire
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
World Health Organization Qualifies Celtura®, Focetria® & Fluvirin Vaccines for Use in World's Developing Nations
- First prequalification from WHO for multiple influenza A(H1N1) 2009 vaccines from a single company: Celtura® and Focetria®, both with the Novartis adjuvant MF59®, as well as unadjuvanted A(H1N1) vaccine from the Fluvirin® platform
- WHO prequalification of two MF59 adjuvanted vaccines highlights Novartis adjuvant’s antigen sparing potential as means to enhance global supply of pandemic vaccines
- More than 80 million doses of Novartis influenza A(H1N1) vaccine shipped to 21 countries around the world
WHO prequalification facilitates purchasing through UN agencies and thus enhances access for developing world countries to Novartis A(H1N1) 2009 vaccines that meet unified standards of quality and safety. Novartis has worked closely with WHO under WHO’s expedited procedure for evaluating pandemic influenza A(H1N1) 2009 vaccines to ensure rapid prequalification of its A(H1N1) 2009 influenza vaccines.
With WHO prequalification for all three of our A(H1N1) 2009 vaccines, we have expanded our commitment to contribute to the prevention of A(H1N1) 2009 influenza in all countries around the world,” said Andrin Oswald, CEO of Novartis Vaccines and Diagnostics.
Prequalification of the adjuvanted vaccines is an important milestone to increase vaccine supply due to the proven antigen and dose sparing potential of the MF59 adjuvant. It is the only oil-in-water adjuvant supported by more than 12 years of post-marketing safety data that includes commercial distribution of more than 45 million doses. The adjuvant has also been studied in randomized clinical trials and observational studies involving 124,000 individuals including children, adults, and elderly; and was first licensed in the seasonal influenza vaccine Fluad® in Italy in 1997. Fluad is currently licensed in Europe for use in individuals 65 years of age and older.
Novartis recognizes the public health need for better access to medicines and vaccines in developing countries. Novartis is working closely with developing countries and international health agencies to find sustainable solutions for effective distribution of essential medicines for diseases such as malaria, meningitis, tuberculosis and leprosy.
Celtura is an innovative adjuvanted, cell culture-based, inactivated subunit influenza vaccine indicated for active immunization of persons six months of age and older against influenza disease caused by the novel pandemic A(H1N1) 2009 influenza virus. Celtura was approved for use in both Germany and Switzerland in November 2009, and Novartis is also seeking approval in a number of other countries.
Focetria is an adjuvanted, egg-based, inactivated subunit influenza vaccine indicated for active immunization of persons six months of age and older against influenza disease caused by the novel pandemic A(H1N1) 2009 influenza virus. Focetria was approved by the European Union on September 29, 2009, for use in all 27 member states of the European Union, plus, by extension, in Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein through the European Economic Area (EEA) Agreement. It is also licensed in a variety of other countries including Turkey, Switzerland, Tunisia and Croatia.
About Novartis A(H1N1) vaccine from the Fluvirin® platform
This vaccine is an unadjuvanted, egg-based, inactivated subunit influenza vaccine indicated for active immunization of persons four years of age and older against influenza disease caused by the novel pandemic A(H1N1) 2009 influenza virus. The vaccine was approved for use in the US by the US Food and Drug Administration on September 15, 2009.