Reporting Suspicious Behavior: Homeland Security Buys 450 million Bullets


See something, say something. Suspicious behavior must be denounced immediately to the pertinent authorities. So let’s be patriotic and report what seems to be very concerning events associated with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

While White House officials, the Department of Justice, the FBI, the NRA and other organizations are out literally hunting people who legally buy and carry weapons ( second amendment right) sell raw milk, fresh organic vegetables and survival kits because such behaviors are seen as potential terrorist activities, the Department of Homeland Security has now invested tax payer money to acquire 450 million new bullets. It is however strange, when citizens legally approach vendors at gun fairs or stores to purchase a revolver or an automatic riffle with ammunition. This is seen as dangerous, because in the government’s opinion, people do not know and cannot protect themselves. The government must do that.

According to official documents, both the DHS and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), have purchased an indefinite number of deliveries of .40 caliber ammunition from one of their defense contractors called ATK. A press release issued by ATK itself, the company has won a contract from DHS and ICE to provide the ammunition during a period of five years. Specifications about the bullets reveal that the HST type ammunition offer “optimum penetration for terminal performance.”What this means, is that on impact, the bullet causes more damage on the target. Isn’t that suspicious?

Why would DHS want to overstock bullets during the same period of time when the global economy is thought to completely collapse? Even stranger is why would ICE receive any of these bullets if they will have no use for them. ICE makes sure that the country’s borders remain wide open with zero monitoring of drug and weapons trafficking — Fast & Furious smuggling program — while blaming the second amendment for the increase in violence on the streets of Mexico and the U.S.

But DHS’s suspicious behavior does not end there. According to Business Insider, the Department currently has an open bid for contractors that would like to provide riffle ammunition. “Listed on the federal business opportunities network, they’re looking for up to 175 million rounds of .223 caliber ammo to be exact. The .223 is almost exactly the same round used by NATO forces, the 5.56 x 45mm,” describes the report.

It looks like the U.S. government is preparing for an imminent invasion or perhaps intends to take as much ammunition from the street as possible. Or even better, it’s preparing for a massive citizen insurrection as the country collapses due to the corruption that descended on the United States for the past century, which has convinced many folks that it is time to get ready for the coming social unrest.

Other suspicious activity by the DHS includes partnerships with FEMA for the acquisition of thousands of plastic coffins, the use of unmanned drones to spy on citizens, the preparation and revamping of interment camps, the placement of gigantic monitors all over the United States, as in the movie 1984; and of course, the latest addition to its wide network of public oppression: the SAR Database, a virtual library of reports from citizens, who are encouraged to spy on each other and denounce any strange actions carried out by family members, work colleagues and their friends from across the street. According to a report by Network World, the nationwide database will help law enforcement “connect the dots” so they can easily find terrorists who are conspiring to carry out an attack.

The article says that the details of the reports issued through SAR will be overseen by the Justice Department. That is a good tactic for the government, because it means they will be able to filter out any information that may trample government’s work, such as shipping out weapons to the Sinaloa Cartel, shipping in heroin from Afghanistan, supporting or hiding money laundering activities by big international banks or kidnapping and torturing people who speak against its policies. But what do you know? Maybe, this new database will allow the government to finally get a hold of itself and end with economic terrorism which is being waged right now on the American people. Perhaps the FBI will be able to hunt down Wall Street speculators and CEOs from corporations that deceive investors by advising them to put their money into derivative products. How about putting an end to companies that hire illegal aliens who are then

Make no mistake, the Department of Homeland Security is into something.

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Buy Apple, Support Slavery


Unless you’ve been sleeping under a rock for the past decade or so, it may come as a surprise to learn that large technology corporations such as Apple use and abuse workers in third world nations where governments do not provide any protection for their labor force. A new chapter in the modern slavery book is being written this week as more proof of Apple’s slavery scheme is uncovered.

According to AFP, a recent audit conducted in the company’s factories reveals serious workplace abuses in China, where Apple products are built. Previous to this audit, Apple contractors have been accused of abusing factory workers in the Asian country. Apple officials have even confessed to knowing about the abuses for a long time, but did nothing about it. In the specific case of Foxconn, the largest manufacturer of electronics an computer components in the world, the long working dates combined with low wages caused many workers to threaten to commit suicide; many went through with the threat and jumped off the factory roof. Foxconn is the producer of components for Mac mini, iPod, iPad, and iPhone, as well as electronics for companies like Dell, HP, Playstation 2 and 3, Wii, Xbox, Motorola, Nokia, and the Amazon Kindle.

Back in January, The New York Times published an article regarding the abuses committed in China against factory workers who in addition to working endless hours everyday, had to put up with unsafe working conditions. An explosion in one factory caused the death of 2 workers with dozens suffering serious injuries. “… the workers assembling iPhones, iPads and other devices often labor in harsh conditions, according to employees inside those plants, worker advocates and documents published by companies themselves. Problems are as varied as onerous work environments and serious — sometimes deadly — safety problems,” reported the NYT.

“We’ve known about labor abuses in some factories for four years, and they’re still going on. Why? Because the system works for us. Suppliers would change everything tomorrow if Apple told them they didn’t have another choice,” said an Apple executive back in January. Former Apple CEO, Steve Jobs, preaches this kind of philosophy in his book, which has been read by millions of people around the world. He himself would squeeze every drop of sweat from many of his workers, which was one of the reasons why Jobs left apple before returning to take the company from the technological shadow to one of the richest in the world. But that success, as we have learned, is based on the abuse of hundreds of laborers who live, work and die in factories where Apple products are made. In several factories, workers usually accumulate between 76 and 80 hours before taking a rest. This is the limit established by Chinese labor laws. In other cases, people worked for a week in a row, before having a 24 hour break.

“The Fair Labor Association gave Apple’s largest supplier the equivalent of a full-body scan through 3,000 staff hours investigating three of its factories and surveying more than 35,000 workers,” revealed FLA president Auret van Heerden. “Apple and its supplier Foxconn have agreed to our prescriptions, and we will verify progress and report publicly.” Aside from this audit, Apple and its partners seem to have the lack of laws and working rights as its best allies to force workers into modern slavery camps. According to the report presented by the FLA, the abuses do not stop at long working periods. The audit also revealed dangerous working conditions which directly threaten the health and well being of the laborers.

For the most part, Apple and its contractors have operated off the hook, with no monitoring that ensures fair conditions and wages for workers or basic safety conditions. Up until last January, Foxconn had ignored requests to improve working conditions at its factory in China. According to FLA’s van Heerden, if Foxconn respected its commitments, at least 1.2 million employees’ lives would be improved as the company would establish a new set of standards for factories in China. Any protection for the workers have been limited to rhetoric, as in the case of China’s future Premier, who simply suggested that Chinese workers should be treated more humanly, as supposed to requesting immediate action to end modern slavery practices.

In the past, Li Keqiang has said that corporations “should pay more attention to caring for workers.” The Vice Premier’s passivity resembles how little China cares for its people, who are often treated by the governing Communist Party as a little less than animals, especially when it comes to individual and labor rights. While middle-class and wealthy consumers enjoy the benefits and perks of owning Apple products around the world, slave workers continue to be overworked and underpaid by Apple and Foxconn.

The Fair Labor Association also conducted and overview of Apple contracted factories in Taiwan, where companies like Quanta and Pegatron also produce Apple products. While he was Apple’s CEO, Steve Jobs defended the current working conditions at factories in China. “You go in this place and it’s a factory but, my gosh, they’ve got restaurants and movie theatres and hospitals and swimming pools. For a factory, it’s pretty nice,” he said during an interview. “It’s not a sweatshop.”

“The work at Foxconn’s Shenzhen plant can be repetitive, exhausting, and alienating—like manufacturing jobs anywhere in the world,” reported Tony Law for Wired Magazine in February 2011. His in-depth report told “the wonders” of Foxconn’s labor camps, where workers had everything from counseling to dormitories. According to Low’s report, a Chinese newspaper reporter saw first hand what working for Foxconn is all about. ” … tales of hopelessness and voluntary overtime affidavits.” Up until April 2011, at least 17 workers had committed suicide at that factory alone. While people in the United States and Europe talk and worry about the dangers of finger strains that teenagers face in light of the heavy use of iPads and iPods, in Asia factory workers die or are worked to death to provide Americans and Europeans with the opportunity to screw up their articulations.

After FLA released its report about the lousy working conditions and long working days people who make Apple products deal with in Asia, the company’s stock price only suffered a minor loss and stayed at $608.18 per share. Most likely, Apple customers were too busy feeling trendy and straining their fingers to notice that their loyalty to Apple directly sustains modern slavery in the world.

Why is it that technological advancement must always have these sort of strings attached? It has been the same for decades.

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Luis Miranda is the founder and editor of The Real Agenda. For more of his stories, subscribe to our article feed. You can also follow him on Twitter and Facebook. Email article ideas and insights through the Contact page.

Autism up 78% in Last Decade


The number of children with autism in the United States continues to rise, according to a new report released Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The latest data estimate that 1 in 88 American children has some form of autism spectrum disorder. That’s a 78% increase compared to a decade ago, according to the report.

Since 2000, the CDC has based its autism estimates on surveillance reports from its Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network. Every two years, researchers count how many 8-year-olds have autism in about a dozen communities across the nation. (The number of sites ranges from six to 14 over the years, depending on the available funding in a given year.)

In 2000 and 2002, the autism estimate was about 1 in 150 children. Two years later 1 in 125 8-year-olds had autism. In 2006, the number was 1 in 110, and the newest data — from 2008 — suggests 1 in 88 children have autism.

Read the CDC report (PDF)

Boys with autism continue to outnumber girls 5-to-1, according to the CDC report. It estimates that 1 in 54 boys in the United States have autism.

Mark Roithmayr, president of the advocacy group Autism Speaks, says more children are being diagnosed with autism because of “better diagnosis, broader diagnosis, better awareness, and roughly 50% of ‘We don’t know.’”

He said the numbers show there is an epidemic of autism in the United States.

Early recognition of signs of autism — a neurodevelopment disorder that leads to impaired language, communication and social skills — is vital because it can lead to early intervention, says Dr. Gary Goldstein, an autism specialist and president of the Kennedy Krieger Institute in Baltimore.

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BRICS Denounce Currency Manipulation


In the power shift the world is experiencing today, both the rich nations and the supposed emerging economies are making sure they appear as cohesive groups with common goals. While the Anglo-Saxon bloc has governed over the world for well over a century, the emerging new powers in the underdeveloped regions of the planet are betting on public unity to exercise pressure over the current rulers.

While the dominant European nations and the United States hide behind bailouts to avoid facing the debacle of the banker-sponsored debt crisis, the BRICS want to show the world that there is another way to do things that may be more beneficial for all. Although the birth of the BRICS, a group composed by China, Brazil, Russia, South Africa and India seemed to be a good initiative to bring about economic and perhaps even political balance in the power struggle now occurring, the truth is that the BRICS are an example of what the Anglo-Saxon Empire was 200 years ago: A bunch of wannabe leaders who cannot find significant common ground to create and exercise policies that improve their people’s standard of living, but who do take time to show off their newly acquired insignificant medals.

It is easy to see why the BRICS are simply more of the same. In the latest communique issued by the group, it member countries criticize the United States and Europe for their manipulation of the Dollar and the Euro currencies. This criticism is well founded, but aren’t China and Brazil doing the same thing? They are. China artificially manipulates its currency to keep its value low and with that benefit by keeping the cost of exporting its goods low. Brazil on the other hand, also resorts to currency manipulation to keep the Real at about 1.75 Reais per dollar. Recently, business leaders in Brazil have been lobbying the government led by Dilma Rousseff to further devalue the Real in order for them to be more competitive in the international market. The idea according to these business leaders, is to take the Real to at least 1.85 per dollar, which would allow them to reduce the cost of exporting their products to the European and American markets as well as not having to pay better wages to its workers. In other words, the Brazilian industry is asking the government to tax its people by devaluing the Real, which will increase inflation.

In a previous statement, some members of the BRICS talked about their reservations to denounce currency manipulation because China, one of the most influential members of the group, also engages in such behavior. It was only after China learned about the position of the other member-states and understood that the official communique was meant to criticize Europe and the United States that the document was made public. “Brazil will push for its large emerging-market peers including China to denounce what it sees as unfair monetary policies by Europe and the United States, raising the stakes in a global confrontation over economic imbalances,” reported Reuters on Wednesday. On Thursday, representatives of some of the most influential multinational corporations that operate in Brazil, met with the Secretary of Commerce in the capital city of Brasilia, Brazil to request that the government manipulated the Real in order for those companies to gain an advantage on foreign competitors and international markets.

According to Reuters, Brazil accuses rich nations of using policies to cause a “monetary tsunami” by adopting policies that spread benefits such as low interest rates and bond-buying programs. These policies, according to the report, were designed to stimulate the troubled U.S. and European economies. This is the official explanation, however, the real goal is to cause a massive debt hole from which the global economy cannot come out of. Banking leaders in Europe and the United States are letting the debt crisis collapse in a progressive and incremental way to a point where the artificially created liquidity will not be able to bail nations out. So-called emerging markets like Brazil, are directly or indirectly absorbing the new monies being put out by the banks and large investors — in many cases as loans or investments in infrastructure — in order to hook developing countries into deeper debt and terminate them once their power grab process is completed. This is not reported in the local media or talked about by mainline economists, who believe that the investment is coming in as a result of some magical attraction that the country has, or perhaps because Brazil is governed by a woman, or because the people here are friendly. The few economists who do know about the real intentions the bankers and large investors have in mind do not have the guts to talk about it.

Publicly, the BRICS seem to be led by Brazil, whose Trade and Industry Minister, Fernando Pimentel, believes that although their complaints about currency manipulation and other protectionist policies will not convince powerful countries to stop such policies, it will somehow allow them adopt other protectionist policies they’ve previously denounced including raising tariffs and implement changes in trade and commercial policies at supranational unelected bodies like the World Trade Organization.

A few years ago, when Brazil magically became the target of massive investment no one in this country complained about it, or about currency manipulation or protectionism of any kind. But after the country began to feel the effects of the current global depression, apologists started talk about the external reasons why the country’s economy was tanking. Although Brazil has overtaken the UK as the world’s 6th largest economy, internally the results of such achievement are nowhere to be seen here in Brazil. In fact, Brazilian companies as well as international corporations that operate here are not even close to embracing open markets and free trade — not even among themselves. Instead, they are envisioning future protectionist measures to save themselves from decision made by Europe and the United States. Brazil and Argentina are carrying out a trade war that limits the free flow of products and services. Companies are having to trade smaller amounts of goods in order to get paid smaller amounts of money so that the central banks do not hold payments due to the large volume of the transactions.

“Brazil has blamed the global liquidity glut for making its currency one of the world’s most overvalued. As local industries struggle, its economy grew only 2.7 percent in 2011, below its BRICS peers and down from a blistering 7.5 percent in 2010,” reports Reuters. Meanwhile, Brazilian officials do not recognize that it is their incapacity to govern which caused their industry’s growth to slow down. The country suffers with one of the largest schemes of corruption in the world which results in inefficient production, skyrocketing taxes,  and poor infrastructure which makes Brazil one of the most difficult and expensive places to do do business.

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Luis Miranda is the founder and editor of The Real Agenda. For more of his stories, subscribe to our article feed. You can also follow him on Twitter and Facebook. Email article ideas and insights through the Contact page.

Science research called ‘dysfunctional’

UPI | MARCH 28, 2012

The increasing number of retractions in scientific journals is a symptom of dysfunction in the world of biomedical research, a scientist told a U.S. committee.

Ferric Fang, editor-in-chief of the journal Infection and Immunity, and Arturo Casadevall, editor-in -chief of mBio, both organs of the American Society for Microbiology, appeared Tuesday before a committee of the National Academy of Sciences.

“Incentives have evolved over the decades to encourage some behaviors that are detrimental to good science,” Fang told a meeting of the Committee of Science, Technology and Law of the NAS.

In the past decade, the number of retraction notices for scientific journals has increased more than ten-fold while the number of journals articles published has only increased by 44 percent, the committee heard.

Some retractions are due to simple error but many are a result of misconduct, including falsification of data and plagiarism, a release from the American Society for Microbiology said.

Driving the problem is an economic incentive system that has created a hypercompetitive environment that encourages poor scientific practices, including misconduct, Fang and Casadevall said.

Too many researchers are competing for too little funding, creating a survival-of-the-fittest, winner-take-all environment where researchers increasingly feel pressure to publish, especially in high-prestige journals, they said.

“The surest ticket to getting a grant or job is getting published in a high profile journal,” Fang said. “This is an unhealthy belief that can lead a scientist to engage in sensationalism and sometimes even dishonest behavior to salvage their career.”

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