Interesting & Important News & Analysis, November 5, 2019

Serial Arsonist Arrested in Georgia After Setting Three Fires

Houston-Area Residents Get Encroachment Letters as Flood Control Projects Proceed

U.S. Safety Board: No Alert System at Texas Petrochemical Facility Damaged by Fire

The tank began to release the naphtha product, but employees didn’t know it was coming out and no alarms were activated because the “tank farm was not equipped with a fixed gas detection system,” the report said.

Board member Rick Engler said he hopes that part of the investigation includes reviewing the efforts that were made to accurately monitor for benzene and other toxic emissions during the fire.

This article gives solid reasons why Libra isn’t needed anyway.

Will Libra Be Stillborn?

If it offers anonymity to its users, Libra will become a platform for tax evasion, money laundering, and terrorist finance. If, on the other hand, its privacy protections are lax, Libra will give Facebook access to users’ most intimate financial details.

The Browder/Magnitsky hoax is part of the same thread as Russiagate and Ukrainegate. All of it is a continuation of insane US-neocon-imperial ambitions.

Neocons call peace a syndrome.

They are the syndrome.

London Times Runs Fake Browder Opinion Piece

This is disturbing.

Wake-Up Call for Organic Advocates: Synbio Poses Greater Threat than Old-School GMOs

Regulators have abandoned all oversight. Synbio tools and techniques are available to anyone, anywhere, at relatively low cost. Currently hundreds of botanicals are being grown in gene-edited ferments and sold as authentic ingredients. They are cheaper now, but only until agriculture production is put out of business—then the price gouging begins.

New Lawsuit Alleges Ben & Jerry’s Deceives Consumers About Farming Practices

Ben & Jerry’s does have a “Caring Dairy” program that pays about 65 farms a premium if they follow certain farming and labor practices, including cover cropping, reducing pesticide use, and raising workers wages. But that milk is then blended with milk from several hundred conventional farms, which Ehlers calls factory farms that have polluted Lake Champlain.

When history looks back upon our time, it will be concluded that we lived in an anti-precautionary principle era: a very foolish, greedy era.

We Have No Reason to Believe 5G Is Safe

“Numerous recent scientific publications have shown that EMF affects living organisms at levels well below most international and national guidelines. Effects include increased cancer risk, cellular stress, increase in harmful free radicals, genetic damages, structural and functional changes of the reproductive system, learning and memory deficits, neurological disorders, and negative impacts on general well-being in humans. Damage goes well beyond the human race, as there is growing evidence of harmful effects to both plant and animal life.”

The scientists who signed this appeal arguably constitute the majority of experts on the effects of nonionizing radiation. They have published more than 2,000 papers and letters on EMF in professional journals.

Scotland restores its peatlands to keep carbon in the ground

Often overlooked as critical carbon sinks, peatlands store at least twice as much carbon as forests.

Liking or not liking or even hating Donald Trump has zero to do with it. We must operate on facts and only facts, substantiated facts.

Debunking some of the Ukraine scandal myths about Biden and election interference

U.S. ethics rules require all government officials to avoid even the appearance of a conflict of interest in taking official actions. Ethics experts I talked with say Biden should have recused himself from the Shokin matter once he learned about the Burisma investigation to avoid the appearance issue.

Of course that’s correct. I knew Joe Biden was dead wrong when it came out he had done what he did: when he said it himself that he got the investigator fired. Even Hunter Biden questioned his father’s wisdom on it.

Things are looking really, really bad for Joe Biden. Is Joe Biden really saying that he did not know “Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin authorized a court-ordered seizure of Zlochevsky’s home and other valuables” just before Joe started demanding Shokin be fired? If he didn’t ask about how active Shokin was in carrying out the investigation, that’s ineptitude at best. What level of diligence did Joe Biden use before threatening to withhold billions of dollars? If Joe was informed of Shokin’s authorization of the seizures, it goes beyond the mere appearance of a conflict of interest to outright lying.

Hunter Biden’s Ukraine gas firm pressed Obama administration to end corruption allegations, memos show

By early 2016 the Ukrainian investigation had advanced enough that then-Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin authorized a court-ordered seizure of Zlochevsky’s home and other valuables, including a luxury car. That seizure occurred on Feb. 2, 2016, according to published reports in Ukraine.

The same day that the Zlochevsky seizure was announced in Ukraine, Hunter Biden used his Twitter account to start following Deputy Secretary of State Tony Blinken, a longtime national security adviser to Vice President Joe Biden who was promoted to the No. 2 job at State under Secretary John Kerry.

The Feb. 4, 2016 Twitter notification from Hunter Biden to Blinken was captured by State email servers and turned over to me as part of the FOIA release.

Within a few weeks of Tramontano’s overture to Novelli and of Archer’s overture to Kerry, Vice President Joe Biden took a stunning action, one that has enveloped his 2020 campaign for president in controversy.

By his own admission in a 2018 speech, Joe Biden used the threat of withholding $1 billion in U.S. aid to strong-arm Ukraine into firing Shokin, a prosecutor that he and his office knew was investigating Burisma.

I don’t think an impeachment and removal effort that’s based mainly upon Trump’s phone call to Zelensky should fly. Trump was well within his official authority in asking Zelensky to investigate. If the Democrats want the US Senate to remove Trump, they’ll have to come up with real crimes on Trump’s part.

Meanwhile, it is more and more apparent to people that the Russia-collusion narrative was based upon a pack of lies and that the Mueller investigation was an illegally constituted fishing expedition.

I wouldn’t like any of it any better if it were a Democrat sitting in the oval office.

Trump hasn’t done himself any favors by passing judgment on Joe Biden either. It’s not smart to get out in front of any legal investigation unless the evidence is prima facie. Trump’s done what Hillary Clinton did toward Trump, something Trump railed against.

“Renee Parsons has been a member of the ACLU’s Florida State Board of Directors and president of the ACLU Treasure Coast Chapter. She has been an elected public official in Colorado, an environmental lobbyist with Friends of the Earth and staff member of the US House of Representatives in Washington DC.”

From Russiagate to Ukrainegate: An Impeachment Inquiry

As CIA Director, Brennan made no secret of his efforts to nail the Trump Administration. In the summer of 2016, he formed an inter-agency taskforce to investigate what was being reported as Russian collusion within the Trump campaign. He boasted to Rachel Maddow that he brought NSA and FBI officials together with the CIA to ‘connect the dots.”

With the addition of James Clapper’s DNI, three reports were released: October, 2016, December, 2016 and January, 2017 all disseminating the Russian-Trump collusion theory which the Mueller Report later found to be unproven.

Since 1947 when the CIA was first authorized by President Harry Truman who belatedly regretted his approval, the agency has been operating as if they report to no one and that they never owe the public or Congress any explanation of their behaviour or activity or how they spend the money.

Since those days it has been a weak-minded Congress, intimidated and/or compromised Members who have allowed intel to run their own show as if they are immune to the Constitution and the Rule of Law. Since 1947, there has been no functioning Congress willing to provide true accountability or meaningful oversight on the intel community.

General election news latest: Jeremy Corbyn hits back at Donald Trump for saying he would be ‘so bad’ for country as PM

Are Democrats complaining that Donald Trump is interfering in the UK general election? I haven’t heard any of them doing so. Maybe they have while the MSM has ignored it because, well, “socialism,” not that Jeremy Corbyn isn’t a mixed-economy capitalist (at least publicly).

EU condemns new burst of [illegal] Israeli settlement approvals

Iraqi protesters attack Iran consulate in Karbala

More than 15 years after the U.S.-led invasion that overthrew Saddam Hussein, Baghdad and other cities still see frequent power cuts, the tap water is undrinkable and public infrastructure is crumbling. Few Iraqis have seen any benefit from the country’s oil wealth, despite it being an OPEC member with the fourth largest proven reserves in the world.

So, since Saddam Hussein had absolutely nothing to do with 9/11, why did we invade and overthrow him? Why have the people in the US who deliberately lied that Iraq had WMD not been tried for war crimes?

False reporting by Reuters:

Bolivia protests enter third week as Morales faces ultimatum

Morales won the vote with just over a 10-point lead, which gave him an outright win, but the victory was marred by a near 24-hour halt to the count, which when resumed showed a sharp and unexplained shift in favor of Morales.

It is well known by those who followed the election that the “shift in favor of Morales” was due to voting returns coming in from areas that heavily favored him. To call it “unexplained” is false reporting. Reuters does not want Evo Morales to be the President again. Reuters never wanted Morales to be President in the first place. Reuters is neocon. Neocons hate Evo because Evo doesn’t cave to neocon-imperial dictates.

Sanders calls his ‘Medicare for All’ funding plan ‘more progressive’ than Warren’s, and he’s right about that.

Sanders said he believes Warren’s plan might have a “very negative impact” on job creation because of funds it could take from employers, called an “employer Medicare contribution.”

“I think that that would probably have a very negative impact on creating those jobs, or providing wages, increased wages and benefits for those workers,” Sanders told ABC. “So I think we have a better way, which is a 7.5% payroll tax, which is far more I think progressive, because it’ll not impact employers of low wage workers but hit significantly employers of upper income people.”

He gave an example of someone paying $20,000 in “a tax called a premium for the insurance companies” now having to pay a $10,000 government tax instead.

“You’re $10,000 to the good, you would ask me where do I sign up for that?” Sanders said at the time.

I actually agree with the article. It would be far wiser for states to get the federal government to subsidize tenants, developers, and landlords. It’s either that or we provide government housing. We have to do something. It would be unconscionable to leaves things as they are: so many homeless people and others living in substandard housing.

A Two-Tier Apartment Market in the US

Dumbing down due to greed:

This next article is awful. It’s all about putting money above everything else. It’s all about putting money for the richest (who, unlike the rest, made more money by “opening” China) above everything else.

William Watson: How trading with thuggish China helped the U.S.

This one completely ignores all the other reasons states and regions have ups and downs. Consider California. That state has been suffering fires like crazy. Now they are facing blackouts to try to prevent the fires. Why is CA facing such circumstances?

It’s facing them exactly due to what the article’s author complains about: regulations. CA and the rest of the nation and world doesn’t have enough regulations on carbon burning. Therefore, CA’s fire situation is greatly magnified by global warming. Shifting companies around in such situations is really shifting deck chairs on the Titanic.

Truly, libertarian-capitalist never, ever have the right economic answers. Whenever their ideas are adopted, things get much worse in the aggregate. All they can ever do is cherry pick in a fatally flawed attempt to obscure the plague of their greed.

As companies flee blue cities, middle class workers are hurt

Watch what (highly progressive) public banking does for California. Libertarians will see it as the end of their world. It may be.

North Dakota Unveils New Mapping Tool for Flood Risks

An inside look at WP-VCD, today’s largest WordPress hacking operation

… if it’s a shared hosting environment, the malware also spreads to the underlying server, infecting other sites hosted on the same system — effectively penalizing users who invested in their site’s security, only to be outdone by a bumbling webmaster next door.

… because WP-VCD exploits the human factor (users looking to install commercial themes without paying), there’s no amount of patching or firewalls that can prevent WP-VCD infections.

Installing pirated content in 2019 is definitely a security no-no, and should never be done, regardless if it’s a desktop app or a WordPress theme.

Chrome in the zero-day crosshairs

Sextortion scammers are hijacking blogs – and victims are paying up

Frightening new tactic lets hackers steal texts on a large scale

According to cybersecurity company FireEye, a state-sponsored Chinese hacking group [how do they know?] is stealing SMS text messages in a big way. They are infecting devices with malware known as MESSAGETAP and using it to steal messages from high-ranking military officials and government agencies.

Trio of Web Registrars Disclose 22 Million Accounts Breached and two of its brands, Network Solutions and, published identical breach notices, noting “that a third party gained unauthorized access to a limited number of our computer systems.” The incident was discovered on Oct. 16.

In January, FireEye described new DNS hijacking campaigns. The attackers are believed to “have a nexus to Iran,” FireEye wrote.

What makes them say that? What evidence do they have? Why isn’t it included in the article? I’m always suspicious of anyone claiming to know where a hacking attempt originated. It’s way too easy to pretend to be coming from a particular country.

Flood Risk Heightened for California’s Mojave River Dam

… water could flow over the top and erode the dam.

That could threaten Apple Valley, Hesperia, Victorville, Barstow and even the tiny town of Baker, more than 140 miles (225.3 kilometers) downstream.

… “all it takes is one event … one Katrina, one Hurricane Harvey,” Vera said. “These storms are happening more and more, so this is our way of looking toward the future.”

Beware the undelivered e-mail phishing scam