Plant Breeders Release First ‘Open Source Seeds’

April 17th, 2014

Via: NPR:

A group of scientists and food activists is launching a Thursday to change the rules that govern seeds. They’re releasing 29 new varieties of crops under a new “open source pledge” that’s intended to safeguard the ability of farmers, gardeners and plant breeders to share those seeds freely.

It’s inspired by the example of open source software, which is freely available for anyone to use but cannot legally be converted into anyone’s proprietary product.

At an event on the campus of the University of Wisconsin, Madison, backers of the new Open Source Seed Initiative will pass out 29 new varieties of 14 different crops, including carrots, kale, broccoli and quinoa. Anyone receiving the seeds must pledge not to restrict their use by means of patents, licenses or any other kind of intellectual property. In fact, any future plant that’s derived from these open source seeds also has to remain freely available as well.

Irwin Goldman, a vegetable breeder at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, helped organize the campaign. It’s an attempt to restore the practice of open sharing that was the rule among plant breeders when he entered the profession more than 20 years ago.

Heroin a Growing Threat Across USA, Police Say

April 17th, 2014

In other news, Afghanistan Opium Harvest at Record High:

Afghan opium cultivation has reached a record level, with more than 200,000 hectares planted with the poppy for the first time, the United Nations says.

The UNODC report said the harvest was 36% up on last year, and if fully realised would outstrip global demand.

Most of the rise was in Helmand province, where British troops are preparing to withdraw.

One of the main reasons the UK sent troops to Helmand was to cut opium production.

Via: USA Today:

“This kind of sneaked up on us,” Holder said, referring to heroin’s resurgence after its former popularity in the ’50s and ’60s.

Blackwater Guards Finally to be Tried for Killing 14 Iraqi Civilians

April 16th, 2014

Via: AllGov:

One of the darkest episodes during the U.S. occupation of Iraq last decade is finally resulting in the prosecution of private American security guards who killed more than a dozen Iraqi civilians in a single incident.

The name Blackwater became famous after the 2007 event in which guards from the security firm’s Raven 23 unit opened fire in Baghdad’s Nisour Square on September 16. The shootings, which the Iraqi government said were unprovoked, killed 14 people and wounded 20 others.

The guards claimed they came under attack from insurgents while carrying out their duties for the State Department’s Diplomatic Security Service (DSS), which had hired the firm that has since undergone multiple name changes (Blackwater Worldwide, then Xe Services, now Academi).

Following the incident, DSS officials forced the Blackwater specialists to provide written statements of the shootings in exchange for full immunity from criminal prosecution. That decision by the State Department derailed the U.S. Department of Justice’s first attempt to prosecute the guards once they returned to the U.S.

A federal appeals court then reinstated the charges, saying the lower court had erred in dismissing the case.

The Justice Department last October filed new charges against four of the guards: Paul Slough, Evan Liberty, Dustin Heard, and Nicholas Slatten. The men face multiple counts of voluntary manslaughter, attempted manslaughter and firearms violations.

The presiding judge, U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth in Washington, DC, announced that the new trial will begin on June 11.

TurboTax Maker Linked to ‘Grassroots’ Campaign Against Free, Simple Tax Filing

April 16th, 2014

Via: ProPublica:

Intuit and its allies are continuing to work against proposals for what’s known as return-free filing.

America’s Coup Machine: Destroying Democracy Since 1953

April 16th, 2014

Via: AlterNet:

Soon after the 2004 U.S. coup to depose President Jean-Bertrand Aristide of Haiti, I heard Aristide’s lawyer Ira Kurzban speaking in Miami. He began his talk with a riddle: “Why has there never been a coup in Washington D.C.?” The answer: “Because there is no U.S. Embassy in Washington D.C.” This introduction was greeted with wild applause by a mostly Haitian-American audience who understood it only too well.

Ukraine’s former security chief, Aleksandr Yakimenko, has reported that the coup-plotters who overthrew the elected government in Ukraine, “basically lived in the (U.S.) Embassy. They were there every day.” We also know from a leaked Russian intercept that they were in close contact with Ambassador Pyatt and the senior U.S. official in charge of the coup, former Dick Cheney aide Victoria Nuland, officially the U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs. And we can assume that many of their days in the Embassy were spent in strategy and training sessions with their individual CIA case officers.

To place the coup in Ukraine in historical context, this is at least the 80th time the United States has organized a coup or a failed coup in a foreign country since 1953. That was when President Eisenhower discovered in Iran that the CIA could overthrow elected governments who refused to sacrifice the future of their people to Western commercial and geopolitical interests. Most U.S. coups have led to severe repression, disappearances, extrajudicial executions, torture, corruption, extreme poverty and inequality, and prolonged setbacks for the democratic aspirations of people in the countries affected. The plutocratic and ultra-conservative nature of the forces the U.S. has brought to power in Ukraine make it unlikely to be an exception.

The Guardian Launches Small-Run Newspaper in U.S. — Stories Picked by Machine

April 16th, 2014

Via: Venture Beat:

The Guardian is bringing automated content-curation to U.S. newsstands using some tried and true technology: the print newspaper.

The U.K.-based newspaper will launch a monthly print edition in the U.S. on Wednesday dubbed #Open001, filled with stories selected by a proprietary algorithm.

The Guardian has already tested the waters with roboticcally compiled print editions in London. The company launched a weekly “Good Long Read” print edition last December, using its algorithm to cherry-pick long reads from the Guardian’s online content based on how well they did on social networks, favoring those that got a high number of Facebook shares, tweets, and comments.

Related: U.S. Lost 30% of its Paid Journalists in 6 Years

FBI Plans to Have 52 Million Photos in its NGI Face Recognition Database by Next Year

April 16th, 2014

Via: EFF:

New documents released by the FBI show that the Bureau is well on its way toward its goal of a fully operational face recognition database by this summer.

EFF received these records in response to our Freedom of Information Act lawsuit for information on Next Generation Identification (NGI)—the FBI’s massive biometric database that may hold records on as much as one third of the U.S. population. The facial recognition component of this database poses real threats to privacy for all Americans.

What is NGI?

NGI builds on the FBI’s legacy fingerprint database—which already contains well over 100 million individual records—and has been designed to include multiple forms of biometric data, including palm prints and iris scans in addition to fingerprints and face recognition data. NGI combines all these forms of data in each individual’s file, linking them to personal and biographic data like name, home address, ID number, immigration status, age, race, etc. This immense database is shared with other federal agencies and with the approximately 18,000 tribal, state and local law enforcement agencies across the United States.

The records we received show that the face recognition component of NGI may include as many as 52 million face images by 2015. By 2012, NGI already contained 13.6 million images representing between 7 and 8 million individuals, and by the middle of 2013, the size of the database increased to 16 million images. The new records reveal that the database will be capable of processing 55,000 direct photo enrollments daily and of conducting tens of thousands of searches every day.

Young Children Experiencing Developmental Problems Related to Use of Mobile Devices

April 15th, 2014

Via: Telegraph:

Rising numbers of infants lack the motor skills needed to play with building blocks because of an “addiction” to tablet computers and smartphones, according to teachers.

Many children aged just three or four can “swipe a screen” but have little or no dexterity in their fingers after spending hours glued to iPads, it was claimed.

Members of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers also warned how some older children were unable to complete traditional pen and paper exams because their memory had been eroded by overexposure to screen-based technology.

Florida: Coast Guard in Miami Beach Unloads Bales of Cocaine with a Street Value of About $350 Million

April 15th, 2014

The 80-pound bricks, which were seized in two separate cases in Southwestern Caribbean waters, were handed over to federal agents and will be destroyed. *wink*

Ah well, at least they didn’t need U.S. Air Force transports this time.

Via: Miami Herald:

Wearing protective gloves and masks, members of the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Legare carried 127 bales of cocaine – with a street value of about $350 million – off the ship and into a waiting trailer Tuesday.

The 80-pound bricks, which were seized in two separate cases in Southwestern Caribbean waters, were handed over to federal agents and will be destroyed. The drugs are worth about $110 million wholesale.

“We can safely assume that these drugs probably would have ended up here,” said U.S. Coast Guard Lt. Junior Grade Meaghan Gies, who handles the drug program for District 7.

Gies and other Coast Guard members stood at the Miami Beach base Tuesday morning waiting for the Virgina-based ship’s arrival.

“Between the two, this is probably the biggest offload we have had in a year,” she said as she spotted the vessel making its way to the port.

Michael C. Ruppert Has Committed Suicide

April 15th, 2014

“I’m tired. I’m ready to die.”

Apocalypse, Man: Michael C. Ruppert on World’s End

Via: CollapseNet:

I have been informed that MCR has committed suicide. I am devastated, and very, very sad…

We’ll report more as information becomes available.


MCR was my friend, my client (I was his attorney) and business partner in CollapseNet. We will gather and report THE FACTS about MCR’s death, and nothing else. On my honor, the truth of MCR’s death WILL BE TOLD, and his memory will be honored.

Media inquiries should come right here, to me, via

Rest In Peace Mike. I am so sorry that you are gone. You fought the greatest of fights, you opened thousands of eyes and you have earned your place in history, and in our hearts.

Much more to come…

Wesley T. Miller

Research Credit: LoneWolf

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