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TBR News June 30, 2012

Jun 30 2012

The Voice of the White House

            Washington, D.C., June 30, 2012: “Now that the Supreme Court has validated Obama’s Health Care bill, we hear howl of animal rage from the far right in Congress. It is their determination to close down all aid programs, not tax their rich friends and do everything they can to stuff their pockets with lobbyist’s money and throw themselves at the feet of the rich and all-powerful bankers. These bankers have cut up and sold millions of home and business mortgages to foreigners and because of the structuring of these sales, are totally unable to locate the actual mortgage owners. What does this mean? It means that over 70 million Americans can never get clear title to their homes because if they pay the mortgages off or have to sell their homes to move, there is no way to gain a clear title to the home they have been paying on for years. The big banks not only do not know to whom they sold the mortgages, they do not care because they reason that when the crap hits the fan, they, like our President and most of Congress, will be long and very comfortably retired. In short, the American dream of owning a home is nothing but a Republican-engineered nightmare.”

Ireland dumps e-voting machines that American still uses

 

June 30, 2012

Irish TImes

 

In a final vote of no confidence, Ireland’s ill-fated e-voting machines are finally headed to the scrap heap.
            Minister for the Environment Phil Hogan said he was “glad to bring this sorry episode to a conclusion on behalf of the taxpayer”.
            “From the outset, this project was ill-conceived and poorly delivered by my political predecessors and as a result it has cost the taxpayer €55 million.
            Plans to roll out the machines on a national basis in the 2004 local and European elections were abandoned by the then minister for the environment, Martin Cullen, after a report from an independent commission raised issues about their reliability.

            Brad Blog – In this country, the U.S. wasted almost $4 billion (with a “b”), via the Help American Vote Act (HAVA) of 2002, on the very same type of worthless, unreliable, easily hacked machines that the Irish are smart enough to get rid of entirely…
            In Ireland’s case, after it was discovered almost immediately that these things were junk, not worthy of any public democracy, they shelved them and are now finally trashing them entirely. We have known them to be junk for nearly a decade.
            In our case, however we will still be using these same, oft-failed, easily-manipulated, secret vote counting pieces of crap across the entire nation, once again, to determine the results our 2012 Presidential election.

 

Living in Colorado’s red zone: ‘It’s a week to burn your house down’

Waldo Canyon fire’s destruction of hundreds of homes turns spotlight on growing number of people living in at-risk areas

June 30, 2012

by Suzanne Goldenberg in Colorado Springs

guardian.co.uk

 

Fire officials in Colorado Springs have long worried about the potential for an out-of-control wildfire within city limits. This week that scenario materialised, as the blaze that started in Waldo Canyon killed one person and gutted an estimated 347 homes, making it the most destructive wildfire in Colorado’s history.

It was the result, said fire officials, of two distinct trends: the rising number of wildfires in recent years, and the growing number of people living in high-risk fire zones.

“This is something we have been talking about for 21 years,” the city’s deputy fire chief, Tommy Smith, told reporters.

As of now, the focus shifts towards ensuring such a tragedy never happens again, Steve Cox, a former fire chief and adviser to the Colorado Springs mayor, said. “We want to change something in the equation so we don’t end up with the same thing that we have now.”

But it could require reversing a major demographic trend. Over the last 20 years, quarter of a million people have moved into Colorado’s red zones, areas seen as most at risk for wildfires.

More than 1.1 million Coloradans now live in red zones across the state, an investigation by the independent I-News Network found.

In some areas, such as those to the north and west of Colorado Springs that were hit hard by the fire, about 90% of homes are in red zones.

At the same time, wildfires are increasing across the west, because of a prolonged drought, due in part to climate change, and past land management practices.

Other states are experiencing a similar spike in fires in the red zone. More than 1,600 homes were lost to wildfires in Texas last year. California also has a record of heavy losses.

Now, some officials have warned, it could be Colorado’s turn. “When you look at the example of California and some of the wildfires they have had, Colorado Springs has got it right now,” said Cox.

Colorado now experiences about 2,500 fires a year, or about five times as many as 50 years ago, the investigation found.

Residents are drawn to those areas, new neighbourhoods built in forested foothills like those that burnt in Colorado Springs, in large measure because of the rugged terrain.

Over the years, housing developments have climbed higher up the foothills west of Colorado Springs.

But the steep hills and the narrow canyons, which concentrate winds that can fan a fire, are a nightmare for firefighters.

Protecting homes in the red zone has grown increasingly expensive over the years – and it puts the lives of more firefighters at risk.

In Colorado Springs, as in other cities, fire officials have worked with home owners to try to cut down on those risks. The city banned cedar shingles, requiring new homes to be built with asphalt or tile roofs.

Homeowners were urged to clear their property of potential fuels, by spacing out trees or sweeping up pine needles that fall to the ground.

The city fire department carried out evacuation drills, including areas affected in the current fire. It set in place an early warning system – which by all accounts appeared to work in this week’s wildfires.

Even so, fire prevention in the danger zone is slow and difficult work. Getting people to re-adjust their idea of a dream house in the mountains surrounded by forests is an immense challenge – but some firefighters argue that it is crucial.

Cox was reluctant on Friday to touch on the issue of zoning laws, which would put stricter limits on putting houses in red-zone areas. But many fire experts believe that is what is required.

“I personally think if you are going to live in red zone areas you should have to have defensible space,” said Shane Wolfe, a firefighter who was involved in suppressing New Mexico’s wildfires last month. “That beautiful deck with all those trees – it is essentially just a week to burn your house down. You should have to take responsibility if you are going to live in those areas.”

 

Students hijack US drone in mid-air for $1,000 wager

June 30, 2012

Indian Express

 

On a dare, Texas college researchers hacked into and hijacked a drone of the US Homeland Security before the eyes of the officials operating it.
            Using a technique called ‘spoofing’ where a signal from hackers imitates the one sent to the drone’s on-board GPS, the Researchers managed to take control of a small but powerful drone in mid-air.
            The hostile takeover of the unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) owned by the college was done before the weary eyes of DHS officials, Fox News reported.
            During the experiment conducted at the University of Texas stadium, the small red drone soared into the sky following a clear set of commands entered into its computer.
            Shortly after, the aircraft veered to the side, making it obvious that it was no longer following its original orders. Then, the drone hurtled toward the ground as if given a self-destruct command and was saved in the last moment.
            And the hijacking was just for a USD 1,000 wager.
            But the incident has unnerved American Homeland security officials, as the spoofing has made it possible for anyone with a USD 1,000 and a plan to turn a harmless UAV into a missile and crash it into a building.
            The hijackers team led by Professor Todd Humphreys at Austin Radio-navigation Laboratory said his team for a few hundred dollars was able to build the most sophisticated spoofing system yet that tricked the drone into following a new set of commands.
            “Spoofing a GPS receiver on a UAV is just another way of hijacking a plane,” Humphreys said.
            The stadium display was not the first time government officials witnessed spoofing in action.
            Last Tuesday, officials from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and Department of Homeland Security watched as Humphreys’ team repeatedly hijacked a drone from a remote hilltop in the desert of the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico.
            The implications of the experiments are both far-reaching and unsettling since the government is currently considering plans that will allow local law enforcement agencies and other groups to employ scores of drones in US airspace.
            It is believed that a US drone was brought down in Iran last December when someone jammed its GPS system
            Drones have been widely used in Iraq, Afghanistan and Yemen to take out terror suspects. Domestically, the use of UAVs has been limited to southern border patrols.

            h ttp://www.indianexpress.com/news/students-hijack-us-drone-in-midair-for-1-000-wager/968701/0ss  

 

 

Casualty Lists- DoD

 

June 01, 2012

            The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.

            Staff Sgt. Roberto Loeza, 28, of El Paso, Texas, died May 25 in Charkh, Logar province, Afghanistan, when enemy forces attacked his unit with indirect fire.  He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 41st Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, Fort Bliss, Texas.

 

June 02, 2012

            The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Enduring Freedom. 

            Staff Sgt. Alexander G. Povilaitis, 47, of Dawsonville, Ga., died May 31, in Kandahar province, Afghanistan, of wounds sustained when the enemy attacked with an improvised explosive device. 

            Povilaitis was assigned to 14th Engineer Battalion, 555th Engineer Brigade, Joint Base Lewis-McChord. 

 

June 02, 2012

            The Department of Defense announced today the death of two soldiers who were supporting Operation Enduring Freedom. 

            They died May 27, in Chak-E Wardak District, Afghanistan, when their unit was attacked by enemy forces. 

            Killed were: 

            Spc. Kedith L. Jacobs, 21, of Denver, Colo, and 

            Pfc. Leroy Deronde III, 22, Jersey City, New Jersey. 

            Spc. Jacobs was assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2nd Battalion, 5th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, Fort Bliss, Texas. 

            Pfc. Deronde was assigned to F Company, 125th Brigade Support Battalion attached to 2nd Battalion, 5th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, Fort Bliss, Texas. 

            For more information related to this release, media may contact the 1st Armored Division public affairs office at 915-744-8406 or 915-203-3769. 

            CORRECTION:  June, 2, 2012; no. 457-12:  The unit for Spc. Jacobs was corrected to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2nd Battalion, 5th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, Fort Bliss, Texas.  The unit for Pfc. Deronde was corrected to F Company, 125th Brigade Support Battalion attached to 2nd Battalion, 5th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, Fort Bliss, Texas.

 

June 04, 2012

            The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.

            Spc. Gerardo Campos, 23, of Miami, Fla., died June 2 in Maiwand, Afghanistan, when enemy forces attacked his unit with small arms fire.  He was assigned to the 4th Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment, 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash.

 

June 04, 2012

            The Department of Defense announced today the death of a Marine who was supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.

            Lance Cpl. Joshua E. Witsman, 23, of Covington, Ind., died May 30 while supporting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan.  He was assigned to 2nd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Pendleton, Calif.

            This incident is under investigation.

 

June 07, 2012

            The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.

            Pfc. Vincent J. Ellis, 22, of Tokyo, Japan, died June 4, in Landstuhl, Germany, from wounds suffered June 1, on Forward Operating Base Salerno, Afghanistan, when enemy forces attacked his unit with improvised explosive devices and small arms fire.  He was assigned to the 1st Squadron, 40th Cavalry Regiment, 4th Airborne Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska.

 

June 08, 2012

            The Department of Defense announced today the deaths of two soldiers who were supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.

            They died June 6, in Qarah Bagh, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when their helicopter crashed.  They were assigned to the 1st Squadron, 17th Cavalry Regiment, 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade, 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, N.C.

            Killed were:

            Capt. Scott P. Pace, 33, of Brawley, Calif., and

            1st Lt. Mathew G. Fazzari, 25, of Walla Walla, Wash.

             For more information media may contact the 82nd Airborne Division public affairs office at 910-432-0661/0662 or 910-813-3891.

            CORRECTION:  June 8, 2012 — Capt. Pace’s age, 33, is corrected from 39.

 

June 09, 2012

            The Department of Defense announced today the death of a Marine who was supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.

            Cpl. Anthony R. Servin, 22, of Moreno Valley, Calif., died June 8 while conducting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan. He was assigned to 2nd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Pendleton, Calif.

            This incident is under investigation.

 

June 09, 2012          

            The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.

            Pfc. Brandon D. Goodine, 20, of Luthersville, Ga., died June 7 in Maiwand, Afghanistan, of wounds sustained when enemy forces attacked his unit with an improvised explosive device.  He was assigned to the 4th Squadron, 73rd Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, N.C. 

 

June 09, 2012      

            The Department of Defense announced today the death of a sailor who was supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.

            Master Chief Petty Officer Richard J. Kessler Jr., 47, of Gulfport, Fla., was found deceased in his berthing compartment June 8 on board USS Enterprise (CVN 65).  He was assigned to Enterprise as a logistics specialist.  Enterprise is currently deployed to the Fifth Fleet area of responsibility conducting operations in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

 

June 12, 2012

            The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.

            Pfc. Nathan T. Davis, 20, Yucaipa, Calif., died June 9, in Tore Obeh, Afghanistan, of injuries suffered when his vehicle was attacked with an enemy improvised explosive device.

            Davis was assigned to the 1st Battalion (Airborne), 501st Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division, Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska.

 

June 12, 2012

            The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.

            Spc. Bryant J. Luxmore, 25, New Windsor, Ill., died June 10, in Panjwai, Afghanistan, of injuries suffered when he encountered enemy, small arms fire.

            Luxmore was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 64th Armor Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, Fort Stewart, Ga.

 

June 14, 2012

            The Department of Defense announced today the death of a Marine who was supporting Operation Enduring Freedom. 

            Cpl. Taylor J. Baune, 21, of Andover, Minn., died June 13 while conducting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan.  He was assigned to 1st Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Twentynine Palms, Calif. 

 

June 14, 2012

            The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Enduring Freedom. 

            Sgt. 1st Class Barett W. McNabb, 33, of Chino Valley, Ariz., died June 12, in Khakrez, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when he was attacked by an enemy improvised explosive device. 

            McNabb was assigned to the 562nd Engineer Company, 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash. 

 

June 17, 2012

            The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Enduring Freedom. 

            Sgt. Nicholas C. Fredsti, 30, of San Diego, Calif., died June 15, in Spedar, Afghanistan, when insurgents attacked his unit with small arms fire.  He was assigned to 1st Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, N.C. 

 

June 17, 2012

 

            The Department of Defense announced today the death of two soldiers who were supporting Operation Enduring Freedom. 

            They died in Panjwa`l, Kandahar province, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when insurgents attacked their unit with an improvised explosive device.  They were assigned to the 18th Engineer Company, 1st Battalion, 37th Field Artillery Regiment, 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash. 

            Killed were: 

            Sgt. Joseph M. Lilly, 25, of Flint, Mich., who died June 14, and 

            Spc. Trevor A. Pinnick, 20, of Lawrenceville, Ill., who died June 12. 

 

June 19, 2012         

            The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Enduring Freedom. 

            Pfc. Jarrod A. Lallier, 20, of Spokane, Wash., died June 18 in Zharay, Kandahar province, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when individuals in Afghan Police uniforms turned their weapons against his unit.  He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, N.C. 

            For more information the media may contact the 82nd Airborne Division public affairs office at 910-432-0661 or 910-813-3891. 

CORRECTION:  June 19, 2012; Information corrected from “enemy forces attacked his unit with small arms fire and grenades” to “individuals in Afghan Police uniforms turned their weapons against his unit.” 

 

June 21, 2012

            The Department of Defense announced today the death of three soldiers who were supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.

            They died June 20, in Khowst province, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when enemy forces attacked their unit with small arms fire and an improvised explosive device.  They were assigned to the 133rd Military Police Company, 51st Military Police Battalion, Florence, S.C.

            Killed were:

            1st Lt. Ryan D. Rawl, 30, Lexington, S.C.,

            Sgt. 1st Class Matthew B. Thomas, 30, Travelers Rest, S.C., and

            Spc. John D. Meador II, 36, Columbia, S.C.

 

 

June 22, 2012

            The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.

            Sgt. Jose Rodriguez, 22, of Gustine, Calif., died June 19, in Kandahar province, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered from enemy, small arms fire. Rodriquez was assigned to the 4th Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment, 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash

 

 June 23, 2012

            The Department of Defense announced today the death of a Marine who was supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.

             Lance Cpl. Eugene C. Mills III, 21, of Laurel, Md., died June 22 while conducting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan. He was assigned to 1st Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Lejeune, N.C.

 

June 25, 2012 

            The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Enduring Freedom. 

            Maj. Paul C. Voelke, 36, of Monroe, N.Y., died Jun. 22 in Mazar E. Sharif, Afghanistan.  He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 30th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, Fort Stewart, Ga. 

 

 

June 25, 2012

            The Department of Defense announced today the death of a Marine who was supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.

            Pfc. Steven P. Stevens II, 23, of Tallahassee, Fla., died June 22 while conducting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan.  He was assigned to 1st Combat Engineer Battalion, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Pendleton, Calif.

 

June 25, 2012

            The Department of Defense announced today the death of a Marine who was supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.

            Lance Cpl. Hunter D. Hogan, 21, of Norman, Ind., died June 23 while conducting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan.  He was assigned to 1st Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Lejeune, N.C.

 

 

 

June 26, 2012

            The Department of Defense announced today the death of a Marine who was supporting Operation Enduring Freedom. 

            Lance Cpl. Niall W. Coti-Sears, 23, of Arlington, Va., died June 23 while conducting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan.  He was assigned to 1st Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Twentynine Palms, Calif. 

            For more information media may contact the Twentynine Palms Public Affairs Office at 760-830-6213. 

Correction: June 28, 2012 — Lance Cpl. Coti-Sears’ last name has been corrected from Cotisears to Coti-Sears

 

June 27, 2012

The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.

            Staff Sgt. Matthew J. Leach, 29, of Ferndale, Mich., died June 26, in Kandahar, Afghanistan.  He was assigned to the 1/334th Regiment, 1st Brigade, 104th Training Division (Leader Training), Fraser, Mich

 

June 29, 2012

            The Department of Defense announced today the deaths of two soldiers who were supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.

            They died June 27, in Maidan Shahr, Wardak province, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when enemy forces attacked their vehicle with an improvised explosive device.

            Killed were:

            1st Lt. Stephen C. Prasnicki, 24, of Lexington, Va., assigned to 4th Battalion, 319th Airborne Field Artillery Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team, Warner Barracks, Bamberg, Germany, and

            Sgt. James L. Skalberg Jr., 25, of Cullman, Ala., assigned to 4th Battalion, 1st Field Artillery Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, Fort Bliss, Texas.

 

 

Nan Levinson, Moral Injury and American War

 

June 28, 2012.

by Nan Levinson ,

TomDispatch.

 

“It’s a day of picnics and patriotic parades, a night of concerts and fireworks, and a reason to fly the American flag.”  That, at least, is how the federal government describes July 4th on its official website, USA.gov.  “Independence Day,” it tells us, “honors the birthday of the United States of America and the adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776.”

As you may recall, however foggily, from grammar school social studies classes, that document struck a decidedly anti-military tone, castigating America’s then-ruler for having:

“kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

“He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.

“He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

“For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us.”

Today, of course, America’s rulers have saddled the country with a large standing army, created an exceptionally powerful military establishment largely divorced from civilian life, created secret laws and enforced abridgments of basic civil liberties while quartering among us, at military bases all over America, large bodies of troops.

Given these developments, it’s hardly surprising that, over the years, the signing of this country’s foundational document as it was launching its anti-colonial War of Independence has somehow been wrapped in “warrior” values that go with the neo-colonial wars we have been fighting in distant lands.  In fact, Independence Day has become prime-time for military recruiting.  The Navy’s high-flying Blue Angels, for example, are taking their aerial acrobatics to the skies above Boston Harbor as part of this July 4th’s festivities.  Meanwhile, the “Golden Knights,” the Army’s trick parachute team, will dramatically descend on celebrations in St. Louis.  It’s military à go-go all day long.

With so many martial myths afoot, the time seems ripe for a candid discussion of the troops we’re so often called upon to “support” on July 4th and every other day of the year.  In her first piece for TomDispatch, journalist Nan Levinson examines the veterans of our post-9/11 wars, their “sacred wounds,” “moral injuries,” and just what America’s uniformed sons and daughters have experienced during the last decade of far-flung occupations.  With new military interventions blossoming all the time, the subjects she raises ought to be at the forefront of American minds.  If U.S. troops find themselves morally injured, shouldn’t we ask: Who put them in the position to suffer such wounds in the first place? Nick Turse

 

Death toll rises as storms lash eastern US amid scorching heat

More than 3m people in eastern US without power, and states of emergency declared in Ohio, Virginia and West Virginia

June 30. 2012-

by Matt Williams in New York

guardian.co.uk

 

 

The death toll arising from vicious storms that lashed the eastern US climbed to double digits Saturday as millions of people were left without power in sweltering conditions.

With temperatures expected to reach triple figures in Washington DC and surrounding areas on Saturday, about 3.4 million people remained without electricity – and access to air-conditioning – after power lines were wiped out by strong winds and falling branches.

States of emergency were declared in Ohio, Virginia and West Virginia, as forecasters predicted more thunderstorms and continued heat throughout Saturday.

So far, weather conditions have been blamed for 10 deaths – six in Virginia, two in New Jersey one in Ohio and another in Maryland. In parts of Washington, residents needing assistance were urged to phone non-emergency numbers or travel directly to fire or police stations after 911 response centres were left without electricity.

Authorities also urged some homeowners to start conserving water amid concern over the effect of outages on sewage stations.

Blackouts were reported from Indiana to New Jersey on Saturday, with the bulk of the service interruptions concentrated on the capital.

On Friday, temperatures in DC reached 104F – topping a record of 101 set in 1934. Although marginally cooler on Saturday, many were still left sweating as the mercury ticked up into triple digits.

More than 20 elderly residents at an apartment home in Indianapolis were evacuated when the facility lost power due to a downed tree.

Most were taken to a Red Cross facility to spend the night, while others who depend on oxygen assistance were given other accommodation, the fire department said.

Winds of up to 70mph also led to travel chaos as the storm battered an area spanning a number of states. On Interstate 75, near Findlay, Ohio, three tractor trailers overturned leading to lengthy tailbacks.

The nine deaths so far reported in relation to the storm were all thought to be the result of falling trees.

Amongst those killed was a 90-year-old woman who died when a tree slammed into her home as she slept.

Others had a lucky escape amid flying debris and swinging electricity cables.

A park police officer was injured by an uprooted tree in the northern Virginia county, and an 18-year-old man was struck by a power line. He was in stable condition after receiving CPR, authorities said.

West Virginia governor Earl Ray Tomblin declared a state of emergency after more than 500,000 customers in 27 counties were left without electricity.

At least four utility poles fell on a road in Columbus, Ohio, making it too dangerous for people in four cars to get out, police said. One person was taken to a hospital.

Early Saturday, Pepco was reporting 406,000 outages in the District of Columbia and Montgomery and Prince George’s counties, Maryland.

“We have more than half our system down,” said Pepco spokeswoman Myra Oppel. “This is definitely going to be a multi-day outage.”

For many, the main concern was how to keep cool without home air-conditioners

Those who could afford it flocked to hotels to escape their hot, powerless homes. Others planned to spend the day at places like shopping malls in an effort to get out of the midday sun.

Jose Amaya, 41, of Germantown, Maryland, was one of millions without power on Saturday.

He said his wife and two daughters planned to go the mall to stay cool, and joked that the outage was going to cost him because they would be shopping. His wife, who works for a hotel chain, also planned to get the family a room to stay.

Robert Clements, 28, said he showered by flashlight on Friday night after power went out at his home in Fairfax, Virginia. Officers at the apartment complex where he lives said power wouldn’t be back on for at least two days.

Clements’ fiance, 27-year-old Ann Marie Tropiano, said she tried to go to the pool, but it was closed because there was no electricity so the pumps weren’t working. She figured the electricity would eventually come back on, but she awoke to find her thermostat reading 81F and slowly climbing. Closing the blinds and curtains didn’t help.

“It feels like an oven,” she said. “It is hot.”

‘Heat… Fire… Disaster’: What Climate Change Looks Like

Western US fires are being driven by extreme temperatures, which are consistent with IPCC projections

June 29, 2012

Common Dreams staff

 

“What we’re seeing is a window into what global warming really looks like,” said Princeton University climate scientist Michael Oppenheimer, referring to raging wildfires in the US west, in a press briefing on Thursday. “It looks like heat, it looks like fires, it looks like this kind of environmental disaster… This provides vivid images of what we can expect to see more of in the future.”

Oppenheimer, speaking alongside other scientists, argued that shorters winters with less snow, coupled with earlier Springs, and extreme summer heat — all contributors for the fires burning in Colorado, Wyoming, and New Mexico — were also conditions that he and his colleagues at the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) predicted would result from carbon-induced climate change.

According to “Heat Waves and Climate Change,” a new report from Climate Communication, a nonprofit science outreach group which, along with Climate Nexus, coordinated the conference call with Oppenheimer and others, the “remarkable run of record-shattering heat waves in recent years, from the Russian heat wave of 2010 that set forests ablaze to the historic heat wave in Texas in 2011 and the “Summer in March” in the U.S. Midwest in 2012 all typify the ongoing trend driven by climate change

            The stage was set for these fires when winter snowpack was lighter than usual, said Dr. Steven Running, a forest ecologist at the University of Montana, reports Reuters. Mountain snows melted an average of two weeks earlier than normal this year, Running said. “That just sets us up for a longer, dryer summer. Then all you need is an ignition source and wind.”

“Now we have a lot of dead trees to burn … it’s not even July yet,” he said. Trying to stop such blazes driven by high winds is a bit like to trying to stop a hurricane, Running said: “There is nothing to stop that kind of holocaust.”

Since 1950 the number of heat waves worldwide has increased, and heat waves have become longer, according to the new report. In the most recent years, it continues, “the global area hit by extremely unusual hot summertime temperatures has increased 50-fold. Over the contiguous United States, new record high temperatures over the past decade have consistently outnumbered new record lows by a ratio of 2:1. In 2012, the ratio for the year through June 18 stands at more than 9:1. Though this ratio is not expected to remain at that level for the rest of the year, it illustrates how unusual 2012 has been, and how these types of extremes are becoming more likely.”

Dr. Running, quoted by the New York Times,  said that with human-induced climate change, extreme events will become ever more prevalent.

“We’re just upping the odds that wildfire activity is going to accelerate every year with the warming trends we see,” he said.

 

 

UNESCO grants funding, Heritage status to Bethlehem

June 29, 2012

by Liza Dobkina

Reuters

 

 

ST PETERSBURG, Russia, June 29 (Reuters) – UNESCO granted endangered World Heritage status and funding for repairs to the site revered by Christians as Jesus’s birthplace in the West Bank city of Bethlehem, despite objections from the United States and Israel.

Thirteen of the 21 members of the World Heritage Committee voted in favour of the move at a meeting on Friday in St. Petersburg, Russia. The decision was met by a standing ovation. Six members voted against and two abstained.

The 4th century Church of the Nativity, built over a grotto where Christian tradition says Jesus was born, needs repairs but the Palestinian Authority, which exercises limited self-rule in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, is short of funds.

The Authority’s request covered part of the Pilgrimage Route, the path which tradition says Joseph and Mary took into the city in their trek from Nazareth some 2,000 years ago.

Palestinians had pointed to what they described as the dangers of Israeli occupation and cited in particular Israel’s 2002 siege of the Church of the Nativity where militants took sanctuary during a Palestinian uprising.

Violence has fallen dramatically in recent years and more than 2 million people now visit the church every year.

Independent experts sent by UNESCO to examine the church recommended turning down the request, saying that while the church roof needed patching up the shrine could not be considered “to have been severely damaged or to be under imminent threat”.

 

PALESTINIAN STATEHOOD

 

Friday’s meeting was attended by the Palestinian foreign minister, and the Palestinian Authority has viewed its entry into UNESCO as a strategic milestone ahead of the broader international recognition it seeks for future statehood.

“This gives hope and confidence to our people in the inevitable victory of our just cause,” said Prime Minister Salam Fayyad in a statement following the decision.

“It increases their determination to continue efforts at deepening readiness for the establishment of an independent State of Palestine, with its capital in East Jerusalem within the 1967 borders,” Fayyad said.

Israel has questioned the need for Bethlehem to be registered as an endangered site and sees Palestinian moves at UNESCO and other U.N. bodies as efforts to embarrass Israel on the world stage.

“This is proof that UNESCO is motivated by political and not cultural considerations,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said in a statement following the decision. “Instead of taking steps to promote peace, the Palestinians are acting unilaterally, which makes peace more distant.”

The U.S. ambassador to UNESCO, David Killion, said he was “profoundly disappointed by the decision”.

The Palestinian government plans to register about 20 more sites with UNESCO, including the ancient city of Jericho and the archaeological site of Sebastia, and has dismissed Israel’s accusations.

“Our goal is to preserve and safeguard these sites in spite of the threat from Israeli occupation,” Hanan Ashrawi, head of the Palestine Liberation Organization’s Department of Culture and Information, told Reuters.

Last year, UNESCO granted the Palestinians full membership, a decision seen at the time as a boost to their bid, since largely stalled, to win United Nations recognition of its statehood in the absence of peace talks with Israel.

Israel and the United States, which later cut off its $80 million annual funding of UNESCO, condemned the decision, saying peace negotiations – which collapsed in 2010 – were the only path to a Palestinian state. (Additional reporting by Noah Browning and Ari Rabinovitch, Writing by Gleb Bryanski; Editing by Tim Pearce)

 

‘Obama Truth Team’ Orders GoDaddy To Shut Down Website

Information deemed “maliciously harmful to government”

June 26, 2012

by Paul Joseph Watson
 Infowars.com

 

A political website that contained stinging criticism of the Obama administration and its handling of the Fast and Furious scandal was ordered to be shut down by the Obama campaign’s ‘Truth Team’, according to private investigator Douglas Hagmann, who was told by ISP GoDaddy his site contained information that was “maliciously harmful to individuals in the government.”

Hagmann, CEO of Hagmann Investigative Services, Inc., a private investigative agency serving a roster of Fortune 500 clients, was given 48 hours by GoDaddy to find a new home for his website before it was deleted.

Hagmann was told the reason for the shut down was because the website featured “morally objectionable” material. After GoDaddy refused to identify the complainant, only saying that it was not “any official government agency,” further investigation by Hagmann revealed that the order came from a group tied to Obama campaign headquarters.

Speaking with the chief investigator in the GoDaddy Abuse division, Hagmann discovered, “Ultimately it was found that the complaint originated ostensibly with a group associated with the campaign to re-elect Barack Hussein Obama.”

Turning to his contacts within government, Hagmann then spoke with another source who confirmed that the ‘Obama Truth Team’ was responsible for the shut down order.

“I’m laying this right on the doorstep of the Obama Truth Team,” said Hagmann.

The ‘Obama Truth Team’ is an outreach of the Obama 2012 re-election campaign that urges supporters to “help fight back against the attacks on President Obama and his record” by reporting supposed misrepresentations and lies. However, as ABC News reported, the ‘Truth Team’ has mischaracterized legitimate criticism as smears in an effort to chill dissent against Obama. It has also been caught fibbing on a number of other occasions.

The same methods of intimidation were also very much in force during the 2008 campaign season. Under the guise of the ‘Obama Truth Squad’, influential public figures in Missouri including St. Louis County Circuit Attorney Bob McCulloch, St. Louis City Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce, and Jefferson County Sheriff Glenn Boyer, promised to “respond quickly, forcefully, and aggressively” to “lies” about Obama.

As ABC News highlighted, this helped to create a chilling atmosphere in which “Missourians might be afraid of being prosecuted for criticizing Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill.”

This is by no means the first time political websites have been shut down on a whim with no due process after official pressure is brought to bear on ISPs.

In December 2010 Amazon responded to pressure by Sen. Joe Lieberman and the Department of Homeland Security by axing the Wikileaks website from its servers.

GoDaddy itself is not renowned for its support for free speech. The company lost 37,000 accounts last year over its initial failure to oppose the controversial Stop Online Privacy Act (SOPA).

Despite the fact that his son was getting married on the same weekend, Hagmann was eventually able to move his website – HomelandSecurityus.com – to another server before it was deleted by GoDaddy.

“It took an incredible number of man hours and it was a tedious (and costly) process, but I have successfully moved my site out of reach,” Hagmann told us.

Hagmann noted that his story from last month about a DHS inside source warning of coming mass civil unrest, which went viral on the Internet, was one of the primary reasons behind the effort to shut down his website.

Hagmann is now warning that any independent website which forcefully dissents against the Obama administration could be targeted next.

“I respectfully ask that you spread the word – that the Obama “Truth Team” is out in full force, scouring any U.S. based web sites of any size or influence (yet small enough to be pushed around) that contains any information deemed “objectionable” to the Obama re-election campaign. Perhaps it’s already too late. Regardless, people need to wake up now and listen to what we’ve been saying. There might not be a tomorrow,” Hagmann told us in an email.

 

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