Behind The Woodshed Blogcaster – May 28, 2017.

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This Is So Simple

  • Virginia doctor believes he found cure for sepsis

    A critical-care physician at Eastern Virginia Medical School (EVMS) believes he found a simple, inexpensive cure for sepsis.

    Sepsis is a condition that leads to multiple organ failure. It is estimated that nearly 8 million people die each year from the disease.

    The breakthrough moment for Dr. Paul Marik, the Chief of Critical Care at EVMS, came in 2016.

    Dr. Marik was running the general intensive care unit at Sentara Norfolk General when a 48-year-old woman was admitted with a severe case of sepsis.

    “Her kidneys had failed, her lungs had failed, I just knew she was going to die,” said Dr. Marik.

    The available treatment options were running out.

    It just so happened that a few weeks earlier, Dr. Marik read about Vitamin C as a possible treatment for sepsis.

    Septic patients are said to have little or undetectable levels of  Vitamin C in their cells.

    Keeping in mind that Vitamin C and steroids work similarly, Dr. Marik asked his staff to combine the two and inject them into the patient intravenously.

    The results were unexpected.

    Within hours, the patient was reportedly recovering. Within two days, Dr. Marik gave her an ‘ok’ to leave the ICU.

    In the following days, two more patients, who were seemingly destined to die of sepsis, received this treatment. Twice more the patients recovered.

    The treatment became standard for Dr. Marik and his team began. Later, thiamine was added into the mix, as sick patients often are deficient in thiamine (thiamine helps cells absorb vitamin C).

    To validate the findings that many called ‘too good to be true’, Dr. Marik and his staff teamed up with scientists at Old Dominion University.

    The results: confirmed, according to Dr. John Catravas, the Interim Executive Director and Sentara Endowed Chair of the Frank Reidy Research Center for Bioelectrics at ODU.

    Next step: further research across a much larger patient population.


  • A Norfolk doctor found a treatment for sepsis. Now he’s trying to get the ICU world to listen.

    The patient was dying.

    Valerie Hobbs, 53, was in the throes of sepsis – an infection coursing through her veins that was causing her blood pressure to tank, her organs to fail and her breathing to flag.

    “When you have a person that young who’s going to die, you start thinking, ‘What else can we pull out of the bag?’ ” said Dr. Paul Marik, who was on duty that day in the intensive care unit of Sentara Norfolk General Hospital.

    In this case, he reached for Vitamin C.

    Marik, chief of pulmonary and critical care at Eastern Virginia Medical School, had recently read medical journal articles involving the vitamin, and decided to order IV infusions of it, along with hydrocortisone, a steroid, to reduce inflammation.

    Then, he went home.

    The next morning, Hobbs had improved so much she was removed from four different medications used to boost her blood pressure. Her kidney function was better. Her breathing eased.

    Three days later, she left the ICU.  He suggested changing the protocol for patients who arrived with sepsis. He also added another ingredient to the concoction: thiamine, which is Vitamin B.


  • Could vitamin C save lives in sepsis? These hospitals aren’t waiting for proof.

    After hundreds of trials failing to show benefit of drug treatments for sepsis, could a simple, cheap and effective treatment — high-dose vitamin C — be hiding in plain sight? A respected leader in critical care medicine thinks so, and his hospital system is all in.

    Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) is depleted during sepsis. That might be bad, because ascorbic acid helps maintain the integrity of the endothelium (i.e., the glycocalyx), and is a cofactor required for the production of catecholamines and cortisol: hormones needed for survival from shock.

    So why don’t we already rush to replace this vital nutrient in septic patients? Lots of endogenous substances are depleted in sepsis, but as most are markers of illness rather than contributors, replacing them may be useless or harmful (and in the case of activated protein C, expensive to boot). See also “The Normalization Fallacy.

    The Case for Vitamin C Treatment In Sepsis

    Vitamin C is believed generally safe at high doses, but can rarely cause acute renal failure through oxalate crystal deposition. Small studies have found high-dose IV vitamin C during critical illness safe and beneficial:

    • In Tanka et al (2000), among 37 patients with major burns, those randomized to receive infusion of vitamin C at high doses (e.g., 4-5 grams an hour) for 24 hours on admission required less fluid resuscitation and had fewer ventilator days than those who got usual care.
    • Fowler et al (2014) found less organ dysfunction among the 24 patients with severe sepsis randomized to vitamin C infusion vs placebo, with a significant dose-response (up to a maximum dose of ~3-5 grams IV every 6 hours). No safety issues in this Phase I trial.
    • Zabet et al (2016) randomized 24 post-surgical patients with septic shock to vitamin C infusion (~1.5-2.5 grams IV every 6 hours) or placebo; the vitamin-C treated patients had significantly lower mortality and need for vasopressors.

    The renowned Dr. Paul Marik et al will soon publish in Chest their own small before-and-after unblinded cohort study, born of an anecdote that should intrigue any intensivist: three patients with “fulminant sepsis … almost certainly destined to die” from shock and organ failure, infused with vitamin C and moderate dose hydrocortisone out of desperation. All three patients recovered quickly and left the ICU in days, “with no residual organ dysfunction”.

    Inspired by that experience, they went on to enroll and treat 47 septic patients with a cocktail of 1.5 g vitamin C IV every 6 hours, hydrocortisone 50 mg IV every 6 hours, and thiamine 200 mg IV every 12 hours (thiamine inhibits oxalate production and has potential benefits in septic shock). Controls were 47 patients matched in baseline characteristics.

    Hospital mortality was 4 of 47 (8.5%) in those treated with the cocktail, compared to 19 of 47 (40%) in those not.  Vasopressors were weaned off all cocktail-treated patients, usually in <24 hours (vs. 4 days for the controls). Renal function reportedly improved in all patients with acute kidney injury.

    These are exciting preliminary findings, and a large randomized trial seems warranted, but a look at shows no studies of any size in progress testing vitamin C in sepsis. (There is one, n=170, testing vitamin C for acute lung injury, which is often due to sepsis.)

    Dr. Marik and the hospitals associated with Eastern Virginia Medical School aren’t letting that get in the way of following their own data and experience. The vitamin C-steroid-thiamine cocktail is now part of their standard therapy for patients with sepsis, often initiated in the emergency department.



Operation Shareholder Strike

  • Shareholder lawsuit: delightful weapon against drug companies

    The company is NewLink. The vaccine, or drug, depending on how it is defined, is called algenpantucel-L. A clinical trial of the drug recently failed to produce benefits in cancer patients, and the stock price of the company took a major dive.

    A shareholder in NewLink, Rickey Ely, decided to sue.

    His reasons are interesting, to say the least.

    Clinical trials of new drugs seeking FDA approval go through four phases. The lawsuit states that phase 2 produced no encouraging results, violated standard protocol (there was no control group), and yet the company hyped the outcome of phase 2, and launched phase 3 only a few months after starting phase 2. Phase 3 shouldn’t have been initiated at all.

    Owing to the company’s PR machine, shareholders were encouraged, but when phase 3 turned out to be a bust, the company’s stock price collapsed—thus punishing those shareholders.

    Not only that, the lawsuit charges, but during the PR hype about the drug’s promising outlook, some execs of the company actually sold their own personal shares—1,154,161 shares worth $39.9 million—turning a very nice profit for themselves, before the stock price crashed.

    A shareholder-lawsuit like this can be quite a strategy against drug companies (or any publicly held company). The shareholder, a part-owner of the company, is “working from the inside.” He’s “trying to protect the company from the harmful actions of its bosses.” Even if he only owns one share, he can sue.



Basic Necessities

  • Baking Soda Shortage?

    A cartel combined with absurd government regulations can look a lot like a doomed socialist state at times. In Venezuela, for example, there are shortages of food, toilet paper, medicines etc. Pretty standard stuff, Comrade.

    But in the U.S., how is it possible that the there’s a shortage of solutions of sodium bicarbonate?

    Key words from the article below: “The country’s two suppliers…”

    This isn’t a market system. What you have here is a Ministry of Baking Soda with two divisions. 

    Amid a national shortage of a critical medicine, US hospitals are hoarding vials, delaying surgeries, and turning away patients, The New York Times reports. The medicine in short supply: solutions of sodium bicarbonate—aka, baking soda.

    The simple drug is used in all sorts of treatments, from chemotherapies to those for organ failure. It can help correct the pH of blood and ease the pain of stitches. It is used in open-heart surgery, can help reverse poisonings, and is kept on emergency crash carts. But, however basic and life-saving, the drug has been in short supply since around February.

    The country’s two suppliers, Pfizer and Amphastar, ran low following an issue with one of Pfizer’s suppliers—the issue was undisclosed due to confidentiality agreements. Amphastar’s supplies took a hit with a spike in demand from desperate Pfizer customers. Both companies told the NYT that they don’t know when exactly supplies will be restored. They speculate that it will be no earlier than June or August.

    As hospitals and pharmacists struggle with the sodium bicarbonate shortage, experts note that it’s just the latest example of stocks of inexpensive, essential generic medicines hitting alarming lows. For example, there was a sodium bicarbonate scarcity in 2012 and a similarly alarming shortage of saline solution in 2014.

    Experts blame the shortages on a combination of factors, including problems getting raw materials, issues with aging facilities where many old drugs are manufactured, and consolidation in the industry that reduces the number of potential suppliers. There’s also the concern that because generic drugs are unlikely to drive profits, drug companies may not make necessary investments to maintain supplies.


  • Study Reveals Yet Another Reason to Limit Kids’ Screen Time
    Excessive TV watching may cause poor bone health later in life

    There is ample research which should give parents pause when considering whether to let the TV babysit their kids. One study even suggests that too much tube time can lead to poor bone health later on.

    I don’t like to bash TV. A decade ago, I worked with teen moms and their babies in a group-home setting, and nothing seemed to calm the little ones quite like Baby Einstein videos. Those videos also had a soothing effect on my nieces and nephews when they were babies.

    Baby Einstein videos are both colorful and educational, and they benefit adults, too, by helping them to not lose their minds.

    However, in excess, TV can be very harmful to children, both physically and psychologically. The evidence is overwhelming.

    Science says you can tell the difference between children who were regularly being read to in infancy and children who were entertained by a TV or some other form of electronic screen by how talkative they are.

    The interactive activity of reading to a child tends to produce “chattier” kids, whereas kids who are left to zone out in front of the boob tube don’t have as much to say. This is because children who are read to end up developing better language skills.

    Last year, a study presented at the Pediatric Academic Societies annual meeting revealed that kindergarten-age children who watched more than an hour of TV a day were 39% more likely to become overweight and 86% more likely to be obese by the time they entered 1st grade.

    Yet another study, published in 2013 by Public Health Englandshowed that British kids who spent most of their time in front of TVs and computer screens had more depression and anxiety, and limited social interaction and physical activity. [1]

    The latest study, known as the longitudinal Raine study, followed 2,900 prenatal clinic patients enrolled in utero by their mothers. Researchers checked the children at birth and then at 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 10, 14, 17, and 20 years of age.

    Complete data were provided on TV watching, bone mass, physical activity, serum 25-hydroxy vitamin D, dietary calcium intake, smoking habits, and alcohol consumption of 1,181 individuals in the 2,900 cohort.

    Parents reported their child’s TV-watching habits at ages 5, 8, and 10 years of age. The children self-reported at ages 14, 17, and 20.

    Participants who consistently watched 14 hours of TV per week were found to have lower bone mineral content than those who watched less TV, even after researchers adjusted for physical activity, height, body mass, calcium intake, vitamin D levels, alcohol, and smoking, all at age 20. [2]


    The authors wrote:

    “Since attainment of optimal peak bone mass is protective against osteoporosis later in life, reducing sedentary time in children may have long-term skeletal benefits.” [2]


  • Smartphone Addiction Tightens Its Global Grip

    How long is it since you last used your phone? Chances are, you’re using it right now to view this post. Analysts from Statista’s Digital Market Outlook have revealed that the amount of time we’re spending with our smartphones online has increased substantially over the last few years.

    Infographic: Smartphone Addiction Tightens Its Global Grip | Statista

    You will find more statistics at Statista

    The term ‘smartphone addiction’ is by now pretty well-established (you can take a test here to see if you might be a sufferer). As our infographic shows, across the world, this addiction seems to be tightening its grip. Of the countries surveyed, smartphone owners in Brazil spend by far the most amount of time online. The average user in 2016 spent close to 5 hours per day surfing – more than twice as long as in 2012.

    Perhaps this explains the collapse of global worker productivity, as we detailed previously, adjusting for the WWII anomaly (which tells us that GDP is not a good measure of a country’s prosperity) US productivity growth peaked in 1972 – incidentally the year after Nixon took the US off gold.

    The productivity decline witnessed ever since is unprecedented. Despite the short lived boom of the 1990s US productivity growth only average 1.2 per cent from 1975 up to today. If we isolate the last 15 years US productivity growth is on par with what an agrarian slave economy was able to achieve 200 years ago.

    The Answer to the economic dilemma of our time is simple then – “Put The Smartphone Down”…


The Terrorists Are Who?


  • A new GOP bill would make it virtually impossible to sue the police(race soldiers)…

    Keeping with the Trump administration’s law-and-order rhetoric, Republicans in the House and Senate recently introduced a bill they’re calling the Back the Blue Act of 2017. The Senate bill was introduced by John Cornyn (R-Tex.), and is co-sponsored by 15 senators, all Republicans. The identical House bill was introduced by Ted Poe (R-Tex.), and includes five co-sponsors, also all Republicans. The bill would create new federal crimes, impose federal police over the will of local officials and voters and shield police officers from virtually any civil liability, even in cases of egregious misconduct.

    Let’s look first at the new federal crimes. The bill would create new federal crimes for killing, attempting to kill or conspiring to kill a state or local law enforcement officer who works for a police agency that receives federal funding. Because nearly all police agencies receive some sort of federal funding, including most local sheriff’s departments and town police, the bill basically makes it a federal crime to kill, attempt to kill or conspire to kill any police officer (as well as any judge or first responder). The bill would also allow for the federal death penalty in such cases, and it would impose limits on the ability of defendants to file habeas petitions in federal court after they’ve exhausted their appeals.

    The legislation would make also it a federal crime to assault any law enforcement officer (again, using the hook of federal funding). An assault resulting in bodily harm would bring a federal mandatory minimum of between two and 10 years in prison, depending on the severity of any injuries to the officer, plus an additional 20-year mandatory minimum if a dangerous weapon was used “during and in relation to the assault.” An assault not resulting in bodily harm would carry a sentence of up to a year in prison.

    A federal prosecutor might also pursue federal charges against someone like Henry Magee, the Texas man who was cleared by a grand jury after killing a police officer during a marijuana raid on his home. Magee said he didn’t know the raiding officers were cops, and fired his gun in self-defense. Or against Ray Rosas, who was acquitted by a jury after shooting at three police officers who raided his home in search of drugs.

    In fact, the bill explicitly authorizes federal prosecutions in cases in which “the verdict or sentence obtained pursuant to State charges left demonstratively unvindicated the Federal interest in eradicating bias-motivated violence” or “a prosecution by the United States is in the public interest and necessary to secure substantial justice.” Which is to say that the bill leaves such decisions wholly up to the discretion of federal prosecutors, regardless of the will of the officials or public at the state and local level. In Philadelphia, longtime civil rights attorney Larry Krasner just overwhelmingly won the Democratic primary for DA, and is heavily favored to win the general election.

    The bill also uses the word kill, not murder, or a phrase like “feloniously kill” or “intentionally kill.” That’s likely the result of sloppy drafting, but at least in theory, it could allow federal prosecutors to bring charges when someone unintentionally causes the death of a police officer, such as in a car accident, or due to some other act of negligence.But perhaps the most disturbing part of the bill is the new restrictions it puts on suing police officers for constitutional violations. As we’ve discussed here several times before, it’s already extremely difficult to even get in front of a jury with a claim against law enforcement, much less win an award. Police officers are protected by qualified immunity, which requires you to show that not only were your rights violated but also a reasonable police officer should have known that the actions in question were a violation of the Constitution. Under this bill, even if you can show all of that, if the police can show that the violation and resulting injuries were “incurred in the course of, or as a result of, or . . . related to, conduct by the injured party that, more likely than not, constituted a felony or a crime of violence . . . (including any deprivation in the course of arrest or apprehension for, or the investigation, prosecution, or adjudication of, such an offense),” then the officers are liable only for out-of-pocket expenses. What’s more, the bill would bar plaintiffs from recovering attorneys fees in such cases.

    This means that if the police raid your home with a search warrant for pot and shoot you dead, even if your family can show that the shooting was unlawful, the police would be liable only for something like funeral expenses if they could show that “more likely than not,” you had sold some pot, or at some point possessed a large enough quantity of the drug to merit a felony charge. In some jurisdictions, merely resisting arrest is a felony. In theory, this could mean that under a scenario in which the police falsely arrest you, you resist, and they then severely beat you, if they could show that the beating was the result of your resisting, not the false arrest, you could be barred from suing for anything other than the cost of treating your injuries. If the resisting charge could be filed as an assault, that’s already a felony in most jurisdictions, and even where it isn’t, under this bill it would become a federal felony.

The Republic Not Kept


  • Explosive Revelation of Obama Administration Illegal Surveillance of Americans

    During the Obama years, the National Security Agency intentionally and routinely intercepted and reviewed communications of American citizens in violation of the Constitution and of court-ordered guidelines implemented pursuant to federal law.

    The unlawful surveillance appears to have been a massive abuse of the government’s foreign-intelligence-collection authority, carried out for the purpose of monitoring the communications of Americans in the United States. While aware that it was going on for an extensive period of time, the administration failed to disclose its unlawful surveillance of Americans until late October 2016, when the administration was winding down and the NSA needed to meet a court deadline in order to renew various surveillance authorities under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).

    The administration’s stonewalling about the scope of the violation induced an exasperated Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to accuse the NSA of “an institutional lack of candor” in connection with what the court described as “a very serious Fourth Amendment issue.” (The court is the federal tribunal created in 1978 by FISA; it is often referred to as a “secret court” because proceedings before it are classified and ex parte — meaning only the Justice Department appears before the court.)

    The FISA-court opinion is now public, available here. The unlawful surveillance was first exposed in a report at Circa by John Solomon and Sara Carter, who have also gotten access to internal, classified reports. The story was also covered extensively Wednesday evening by James Rosen and Bret Baier on Fox News’s Special Report.

    According to the internal reports reviewed by Solomon and Carter, the illegal surveillance may involve more than 5 percent of NSA searches of databases derived from what is called “upstream” collection of Internet communications.

    As the FISA court explains, upstream collection refers to the interception of communications “as they transit the facilities of an Internet backbone carrier.” These are the data routes between computer networks. The routes are hosted by government, academic, commercial, and similar high-capacity network centers, and they facilitate the global, international exchange of Internet traffic. Upstream collection from the Internet’s “backbone,” which accounts for about 9 percent of the NSA’s collection haul (a massive amount of communications), is distinguished from interception of communications from more familiar Internet service providers.

    Upstream collection is a vital tool for gathering intelligence against foreign threats to the United States. It is, of course, on foreign intelligence targets — non-U.S. persons situated outside the U.S. — that the NSA and CIA are supposed to focus. Foreign agents operating inside the U.S. are mainly the purview of the FBI, which conducts surveillance of their communications through warrants from the FISA court — individualized warrants based on probable cause that a specific person is acting as an agent of a foreign power.

    The NSA conducts vacuum intelligence-collection under a different section of FISA — section 702. It is inevitable that these section 702 surveillance authorities will incidentally intercept the communications of Americans inside the United States if those Americans are communicating with the foreign target. This does not raise serious Fourth Amendment concerns; after all, non-targeted Americans are intercepted all the time in traditional criminal wiretaps because they call, or are called by, the target. But FISA surveillance is more controversial than criminal surveillance because the government does not have to show probable cause of a crime — and when the targets are foreigners outside the U.S., the government does not have to make any showing; it may target if it has a legitimate foreign-intelligence purpose, which is really not much of a hurdle at all.

  • Obama intel agency secretly conducted illegal searches on Americans for years

    The National Security Agency under former President Barack Obama routinely violated American privacy protections while scouring through overseas intercepts and failed to disclose the extent of the problems until the final days before Donald Trump was elected president last fall, according to once top-secret documents that chronicle some of the most serious constitutional abuses to date by the U.S. intelligence community.  

    More than 5 percent, or one out of every 20 searches seeking upstream Internet data on Americans inside the NSA’s so-called Section 702 database violated the safeguards Obama and his intelligence chiefs vowed to follow in 2011, according to one classified internal report reviewed by Circa.

    The Obama administration self-disclosed the problems at a closed-door hearing Oct. 26 before the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court that set off alarm. Trump was elected less than two weeks later.  The normally supportive court censured administration officials, saying the failure to disclose the extent of the violations earlier amounted to an “institutional lack of candor” and that the improper searches constituted a “very serious Fourth Amendment issue,” according to a recently unsealed court document dated April 26, 2017.
    The admitted violations undercut one of the primary defenses that the intelligence community and Obama officials have used in recent weeks to justify their snooping into incidental NSA intercepts about Americans.

Public-Private Mercenaries

  • Leaked Documents Reveal Counterterrorism Tactics Used at Standing Rock to “Defeat Pipeline Insurgencies”

    A shadowy international mercenary and security firm known as TigerSwan targeted the movement opposed to the Dakota Access Pipeline with military-style counterterrorism measures, collaborating closely with police in at least five states, according to internal documents obtained by The Intercept. The documents provide the first detailed picture of how TigerSwan, which originated as a U.S. military and State Department contractor helping to execute the global war on terror, worked at the behest of its client Energy Transfer Partners, the company building the Dakota Access Pipeline, to respond to the indigenous-led movement that sought to stop the project.

    Internal TigerSwan communications describe the movement as “an ideologically driven insurgency with a strong religious component” and compare the anti-pipeline water protectors to jihadist fighters. One report, dated February 27, 2017, states that since the movement “generally followed the jihadist insurgency model while active, we can expect the individuals who fought for and supported it to follow a post-insurgency model after its collapse.” Drawing comparisons with post-Soviet Afghanistan, the report warns, “While we can expect to see the continued spread of the anti-DAPL diaspora … aggressive intelligence preparation of the battlefield and active coordination between intelligence and security elements are now a proven method of defeating pipeline insurgencies.”

    More than 100 internal documents leaked to The Intercept by a TigerSwan contractor, as well as a set of over 1,000 documents obtained via public records requests, reveal that TigerSwan spearheaded a multifaceted private security operation characterized by sweeping and invasive surveillance of protesters.

    As policing continues to be militarized and state legislatures around the country pass laws criminalizing protest, the fact that a private security firm retained by a Fortune 500 oil and gas company coordinated its efforts with local, state, and federal law enforcement to undermine the protest movement has profoundly anti-democratic implications. The leaked materials not only highlight TigerSwan’s militaristic approach to protecting its client’s interests but also the company’s profit-driven imperative to portray the nonviolent water protector movement as unpredictable and menacing enough to justify the continued need for extraordinary security measures. Energy Transfer Partners has continued to retain TigerSwan long after most of the anti-pipeline campers left North Dakota, and the most recent TigerSwan reports emphasize the threat of growing activism around other pipeline projects across the country.

    The leaked documents include situation reports prepared by TigerSwan operatives in North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa, Illinois, and Texas between September 2016 and May 2017, and delivered to Energy Transfer Partners. They offer a daily snapshot of the security firm’s activities, including detailed summaries of the previous day’s surveillance targeting pipeline opponents, intelligence on upcoming protests, and information harvested from social media. The documents also provide extensive evidence of aerial surveillance and radio eavesdropping, as well as infiltration of camps and activist circles.


Controlling “Terrain” You Haunt

  • Feds admit they used secret anti-terror mass surveillance tool to catch an undocumented waiter

    Rudy Carcamo-Carranza was an undocumented restaurant worker in Michigan wanted for a DUI and a hit-and-run; the FBI and ICE used IMSI catchers — powerful, secretive cellphone tracking tools that the agencies bill as a kind of superweapon in the war on terror — to catch him and put him up for deportation.

    The existence of IMSI catchers was a closely kept secret for a long time — feds even raided a local police force to steal their arrest records to prevent the existence of the devices from being revealed in court — and their advocates have consistently said the secrecy was warranted because the tools were only used to fight the most serious crimes, and general knowledge of the tools’ existence could compromise national security..


  • A New Financial System is Being Born

    If Bitcoin blew you away when you first discovered it, and continues to do so to this day, Spiral Dynamics can help explain why. Bitcoin was an expression in the physical world of the newly emergent leading-edge integral level consciousness. It drew lessons from history and attempted to take the best of orange and green worldviews and incorporate them into an entirely new form of money. We see the clear presence of free markets and individualism, as well as the intentional separation of the system from dominator hierarchies (bureaucratic government meddling), which had corrupted all money before it. Its greenness is evident in the fact that by design no individual or company controls the network. Global, decentralized, revolutionary technology. This is perhaps the perfect example of integral consciousness operating on our planet at this time from an economics standpoint, and why it has captured the imagination of so many, while at the same time being violently rejected by so many others.

    From February’s post: Why Increased Consciousness is the Only Path Forward

    Although I had heard about it much earlier, I didn’t truly start investigating Bitcoin until the summer of 2012. The more I learned the more my mind was blown away, and for a while I couldn’t think about anything else. What truly solidified its real world usefulness to me was when I discovered it had been used by Wikileaks to accept payments in the midst of a financial services blockade against the renegade publisher. This realization inspired my first Bitcoin related post in August 2012 titled, Bitcoin: A Way to Fight Back Against the Financial Terrorists? 

    In that piece, I linked to a Forbes article that detailed the revolutionary events taking place. We learned:

    Following a massive release of secret U.S. diplomatic cables in November 2010, donations to WikiLeaks were blocked by Bank of America, VISA, MasterCard, PayPal and Western Union on December 7th, 2010. Although private companies certainly have a right to select which transactions to process or not, the political environment produced less than a fair and objective decision. It was coordinated pressure exerted in a politicized climate by the U.S. government and it won’t be the last time that we see this type of pressure.

    Fortunately, there is way around this and other financial blockades with a global payment method immune to political pressure and monetary censorship.

    On its public bitcoin address, Wikileaks has taken in over $32,000 equivalent in more than 1,100 separate bitcoin donations throughout the blockade (1BTC = $10.00). But these amounts may be significantly higher, because it does not even include the individually-generated bitcoin addresses that WikiLeaks provides for donors upon request.

    I knew right then and there that Bitcoin had the potential to change the world. My passion for Bitcoin was always framed by my ten years working in the financial industry. Many of us who lived through the 2008 crisis knew the financial system was dead. We knew it was corrupt, archaic and terminal, so many of us began bracing for what might come next. We did what we thought made sense at the time, which included buying precious metals like gold and silver given their historic track record of protecting wealth in periods of paradigm-shifting financial disruption. Others took more extreme measures to protect themselves from the end of the financial system, but a small group forward thinking geeks decided to do something much better. They decided to build an alternative.

    Thus, Bitcoin was born and early adopters in the field of technology immediately began to build on top of it. As soon as I realized what was happening much of the “doom and gloom” that had enveloped my thinking began to lift. I now knew that even if the financial system crashed and burned tomorrow, the early stages of a new and far more honest financial system were already in place. The emergence of Bitcoin literally changed my life for the better as it allowed me to emerge from a cave of gloom and become optimistic about our long-term future. While I knew the path would be long and hard since the current entrenched interests wouldn’t give up without a fight, I could see a very bright light at the end of the tunnel, and the continued development in this space has been extraordinary to watch ever since.

    The global financial system as it stands is completely archaic and corrupt. It enriches the wrong types of people for the wrong sort of behavior, and is entirely extractive and parasitic by design.  If there’s sector in the economy that needs a total redesign and reboot for the sake of humanity, it’s the financial system.


  • US Law Enforcement Have Spent Hundreds of Thousands on Bitcoin Tracking Tools

    Private firms continue to fill in the gaps for digital investigators.

    The blockchain can be pretty overwhelming, with criminals moving their funds through a string of addresses before finally cashing them out. Presumably to deal with that issue, several US law enforcement agencies, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) have all paid for software from bitcoin tracking company Chainalysis according to public records, with one purchase order being signed just this month.

    The news highlights the increasing relevance of private firms in digital investigations; many agencies also pay contractors to provide intelligence regarding criminal activities on the dark web.

    “Chainalysis protects the junction between finance and the decentralized internet,” the company’s website reads. In short, Chainalysis’ platform allows a user a bird’s-eye view of the blockchain, including transactions between specific bitcoin exchanges, such as Bitstamp, and other entities, including dark web marketplaces.

    “We serve everyone who has an interest in managing risk and compliance in digital currencies,” Chainalysis co-founder Jonathan Levin told Motherboard in an email. That includes everyone from large financial institutions, to small bitcoin businesses, to law enforcement customers, according to Levin.

    “However we do not make them or our revenues public,” Levin added.

    Since August 2015, the FBI has spent over $330,000 on Chainalysis products, according to procurement records. The most recent payment of around $150,000 took place this February. In a 2015 video, Levin claimed Chainalysis cracked several cybercrime cases, including high profile ones concerning the Silk Road.


  • Google Is About to Start Tracking Your Offline Behavior, Too

    It’s no secret that Google already monitors its users’ online shopping activity, but now it will follow them out of their homes and keep a close eye on every interaction they make. The tech giant announced a new system to track users’ in-store credit card purchases Tuesday in a statement published on the company’s official blog.

    Google rolled out the new tool at Google Marketing Next, an annual event geared toward advertisers where the company unveils its newest innovations in marketing. “Store sales management” works by pulling data from Google’s third-party partnerships, which capture approximately 70% of credit card transactions in the United States. The system then streamlines user information in order to generate reports automatically sent to merchants who opt in. The reports will measure the effectiveness of online advertisements by matching in-store transactions back to Google ads.

    According to the Associated Press:

    Google says its computers rely primarily on log-in information, such as email addresses, to identify the people clicking on ads. It then matches that data with other identifying information compiled by merchants and the issuers of credit and debit cards to figure out when digital ads contribute to an offline purchase.”

    This is ultimately an upgraded version of Google’s “store visits measurement,” which was rolled out in 2014 and updated in March 2017. This tool utilizes deep learning technology to analyze vast amounts of user data, including email addresses, ad clicks, browser and location history, and user surveys.

    Miro Copic, a marketing professor at San Diego State University, told the Associated Press that “the privacy implications of this are pretty massive, so Google needs to tread very carefully.”


  • Twitter Suspends WND For Seth Rich Story

    A couple of days ago, WND ran a story entitled “Bombshell: Donna Brazile Warned Off Private Eye On Seth Rich Murder.”  The story was sourced back to on-the-record quotes provided by Detective Rod Wheeler who was hired by the Rich family shortly after their son’s suspicious murder in July 2016.  Among other things, Wheeler said that it was former Democratic National Committee interim chairwoman Donna Brazile who allegedly called police and the Rich family and demanded to know why a private investigator was “snooping” into Rich’s death.

    “The high-ranking DNC official that called the police after I inquired about Rich’s case was Donna Brazile,” veteran homicide detective Rod Wheeler told WND. “Why shouldn’t I reveal who it was?”

    To promote the story, WND sent the following tweet:


    Unfortunately, Twitter seemed to take issue with the story and sent a message to WND demanding that they “Delete Tweet.”

    When they refused, a follow-up message from Twitter informed WND that their account had been effectively frozen.

    “We have determined that you have violated the Twitter Rules, so we’ve temporarily limited some of your account features.  While in this state, you can still browse Twitter, but you’re limited to only sending Direct Messages to your followers – no Tweets, Retweets, or likes.”

    Of course, Twitter refused to highlight which of their rules (which can be found here) had been violated when asked by WND.


Hacking Your Big Data Life

  • Beware! Subtitle Files Can Hack Your Computer While You’re Enjoying Movies

    Do you watch movies with subtitles?
    Just last night, I wanted to watch a French movie, so I searched for English subtitles and downloaded it to my computer.
    Though that film was excellent, this morning a new research from Checkpoint scared me.
    I was unaware that a little subtitle file could hand over full control of my computer to hackers, while I was enjoying the movie.
    Yes, you heard that right.
    A team of researchers at Check Point has discovered vulnerabilities in four of the most popular media player applications, which can be exploited by hackers to hijack “any type of device via vulnerabilities; whether it is a PC, a smart TV, or a mobile device” with malicious codes inserted into the subtitle files.
    “We have now discovered malicious subtitles could be created and delivered to millions of devices automatically, bypassing security software and giving the attacker full control of the infected device and the data it holds,” he added.
    These four vulnerable media players (mentioned below) have been downloaded more than 220 million times:
    VLC — Popular VideoLAN Media Player
    Kodi (XBMC) — Open-Source Media Software
    Popcorn Time — Software to watch Movies and TV shows instantly
    Stremio — Video Streaming App for Videos, Movies, TV series and TV channels
    The vulnerabilities reside in the way various media players process subtitle files and if exploited successfully, could put hundreds of millions of users at risk of getting hacked.


  • Newly Found Malware Uses 7 NSA Hacking Tools, Where WannaCry Uses 2

    Last week, we warned you about multiple hacking groups exploiting leaked NSA hacking tools, but almost all of them were making use of only two tools: EternalBlue and DoublePulsar.

    Now, Miroslav Stampar, a security researcher who created famous ‘sqlmap’ tool and now a member of the Croatian Government CERT, has discovered a new network worm, dubbed EternalRocks, which is more dangerous than WannaCry and has no kill-switch in it.

    Unlike WannaCry, EternalRocks seems to be designed to function secretly in order to ensure that it remains undetectable on the affected system.

    However, Stampar learned of EternalRocks after it infected his SMB honeypot.

    The NSA exploits used by EternalRocks, which Stampar called “DoomsDayWorm” on Twitter, includes:

    1. EternalBlue — SMBv1 exploit tool
    2. EternalRomance — SMBv1 exploit tool
    3. EternalChampion — SMBv2 exploit tool
    4. EternalSynergy — SMBv3 exploit tool
    5. SMBTouch — SMB reconnaissance tool
    6. ArchTouch — SMB reconnaissance tool
    7. DoublePulsar — Backdoor Trojan



  • Greek Authorities To Launch Mass Confiscation Of Safe Deposit Boxes, Securities, Homes In Tax-Evasion Crackdown

    Last week, the Greek parliament once again approved more austerity to unlock withheld Greek bailout funds in Brussels: a symbolic move, which has little impact without any actual follow through, like for example, actually imposing austerity. And while Greeks have been very good in the former (i.e. promises), they have been severely lacking in the latter (i.e. delivery).

    That may be changing. According to Kathimerini, Greek Finance Ministry inspectors are about to start seeking out the owners of all local undeclared properties, while the law will be amended to allow for financial products and the content of safe deposit boxes to be confiscated electronically. The plan for the identification of taxpayers who have “forgotten” to declare their properties to the tax authorities is expected to be ready by year-end, according to the timetable of the Independent Authority for Public Revenue.

    What follows then will be a wholesale confiscation by the government of any asset whose source, origins and funding can not be explained.


Occupying Protections

  • Justice Department Announces the National Blue Alert Network

    The Justice Department, along with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and Department of Homeland Security (DHS), today announced the nationwide rollout of the National Blue Alert Network, including newly developed deliverables and federal interagency cooperation to enhance the safety and support of America’s law enforcement officers. Under implementation by the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS Office), the National Blue Alert Network promotes rapid dissemination of information to law enforcement, the media and the public about violent offenders who have killed, seriously injured or pose an imminent threat to law enforcement, or when an officer is missing in connection with official duties.

    Named in honor of two fallen New York City Police Department (NYPD) officers who were ambushed in December 2014, the Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu National Blue Alert Act was signed into law in May 2015. The COPS Office was selected to implement the Act in September 2016 and has partnered with other federal agencies, including the FCC and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), to establish enhanced communications systems, guidelines and resources.

    “This network provides the means of quickly identifying, pursuing and capturing violent offenders who have hurt, killed or pose an imminent danger to law enforcement,” said Attorney General Jeff Sessions. “This National Police Week, we are proud to show our support for our nation’s brave police officers, and to work with our federal partners to keep them safe.”

    “The men and women of law enforcement put their lives on the line to protect and serve the public,” said Acting Associate Attorney General Jesse Panuccio. “The Department of Justice is committed to supporting law enforcement, and the National Blue Alert Network will provide this country with the necessary framework for rapid response to help save lives and apprehend criminals who would attack those who bravely protect public safety.”

    Blue Alerts are operationally similar to AMBER Alerts and can be broadcast on television, radio, and sent to cellphones and other wireless devices. Like AMBER Alerts, which are designed to quickly provide information about missing children to the public, Blue Alerts provide details about possible assailants, including physical descriptions, vehicle information and other identifying characteristics.


  • Good Cop Exposes ‘1 Ticket Per Hour’ Quota Scam After Being Fired for Refusing to Enforce It

    Dibble Oklahoma reserve police officer Richard Searcy says he was fired for not writing enough tickets. He posted to his Facebook of his devotion to his job, and knowledge of his profession;

    For the town of dibble citizens. I have been a police officer for 12 years i know my job.

    Complaining about his department’s one contact per hour mandatory quota (contact meaning ticket or otherwise warning to the public);

     I also know that sometimes you dont have any contacts on your shift or very few and other days you are very busy.

    Searcy says his problems started in April when he was written up for not writing enough tickets during one four-hour period on April 15 (mandatory one contact per hour):

    On april 15th i went on duty at 8am at 12noon i was with a comunity service worker till 330pm. I was called on a pursuit at around 332pm .
    The police chief brian murrel writes me up on april 21st for not having any contacts in that 4 hours.

    Searcy objected to being written up and told reporters that he signed the reprimand “under protest” writing, “I will not make up reasons to stop vehicles.” He described his frustration with his police chief Brian:

    Brian wants the police officers to have one stop every hour worked. I told him i would not make up reasons to stop vehicles. This comment made him mad or upset. So the next shift i worked he called me in to discuss the letter of reprimand. I told him that sometimes you just dont have anything to stop vehicles for. And that there is more to a officers job than just stopping vehicles.

    Addressing his part-time status on the police force, and his desire to serve his hometown full-time, Searcy wrote that the town’s police budget depends a lot on generating revenue from ticket writing:

    For the last year and four months i was just employed part time. Brian told me ” how can i justify putting you on full time untill the number of citations you write goes up.” I guess they expect a lot of the towns income to be from citations. I guess to be full time officer in the town of dibble you have to write a lot of citations.


  • Texas Judge Placed on Leave After Officials Discover She’s Not a US Citizen

    A municipal court judge in South Texas has been placed on unpaid leave after officials discovered she was not a US citizen.

    Judge Young Min Burkett was given a 90-day leave to obtain her citizenship, Corpus Christi Mayor Pro-Tem Lucy Rubio told the Corpus Christi Caller-Times.

    Burkett never attempted to misrepresent her origins or deceive the city, according to Rubio, but the city also never asked about her citizenship during the qualification process. The the matter is being reviewed by city attorneys who have determined Burkett’s past rulings were lawful and will therefore stay intact, she said.

    The employment documents Burkett completed only ask whether the applicant is eligible to be employed legally in the state.

    City Councilman Rudy Garza Jr. said Wednesday that Burkett is in fact eligible for lawful employment as she is a permanent resident.

    Garza told the Caller Times, “The error was a city error and we don’t feel Judge Burkett was insincere or did anything in her application or interview that led to any dishonesty on her part.”

    The South Korean native’s husband, Nathan, wrote a message explaining that his wife had a been a permanent resident since 2007, saying, “The job posting specified only the ability to work in the US … She has never made a representation that she is a citizen.”

    He added, “We’re going to do whatever the city needs us to do to get her back on the bench … She loves [being a municipal court judge].”

    According to her resume, Burkett graduated from Texas Tech University School of Law in 2005, became licensed to practice law in 2007 and worked as a Nueces County prosecutor beginning in 2008.

    The Texas Board of Law examiners note that attorneys in the state are not required to be US citizens, as people who are “lawfully admitted for permanent residence,” can practice law as well.


Obstructing The Plunder

  • Mississippi became the latest state to tighten its civil forfeiture laws

    Mississippi became the latest state to tighten its civil forfeiture laws when Gov. Phil Bryant signed a bill on Monday that will require warrants for police to seize property. Through civil forfeiture, law enforcement agencies do not need to file criminal charges, or even secure a criminal conviction, to permanently confiscate cash, cars and other forms of personal property.

    Under the newly signed bill, HB 812, whenever an agency seizes property, it must obtain a seizure warrant from a circuit or county court within three business days of the seizure. Agencies that do not procure a warrant with that timeframe cannot forfeit the property and must return it to its owner. In addition, agencies now will have to request prosecutors file for forfeiture within 30 days of a seizure.

    Most importantly, HB 812 implements new transparency requirements to track seizure and forfeiture activity. For the first time, Mississippi agencies will now have to record a description of the seized property, its estimated value, its final deposition, as well as if anyone attempted to contest the forfeiture. Those records will then be uploaded to a public, searchable website, which will be created and maintained by the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics. Agencies that do not comply with the new reporting requirements will not receive state or federal grants.

    “HB 812 will hopefully inform the public about how often law enforcement seizes and forfeits property,” Lee McGrath, Senior Legislative Counsel at the Institute for Justice (IJ) said in a statement.

    “Equally important, the bill will produce data on which state legislators may rely to make additional reforms to a civil process that has come under widespread criticism, including from U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas,” McGrath added.


  • Federal court allows lawsuit on recording police to proceed

    In a major win for free speech and police accountability, a Massachusetts federal court has ruled in favor of two ACLU clients who seek to exercise their constitutional right to record the police in secret.

    The lawsuit, Martin v. Evans, was brought on behalf of civil rights activists Eric Martin and René Pérez against Suffolk County DA Dan Conley and BPD Commissioner William Evans. Our clients assert that the Massachusetts wiretap statute violates their First Amendment right to record police officers in the public performance of their duties because it prohibits their ability to do so secretly. Filed in June 2016, the suit asks a Boston federal court to issue declaratory and injunctive relief barring the defendants from arresting or prosecuting individuals under the state’s wiretap statute for recording police officers in secret.

    Both Commissioner Evans and District Attorney Conley filed motions to dismiss our lawsuit, alleging, among other things, that Martin and Pérez lacked standing, and that their First Amendment claims fell short. On March 13, 2017, federal Judge Patti Saris denied these motions and allowed our lawsuit to proceed to the merits.

    Judge Saris’ ruling is important for two key reasons. First, it means our clients will be able to argue and obtain a decision on a hugely important question: Does the Massachusetts wiretap statute (known as “Section 99”) unconstitutionally prohibit their ability to secretly exercise their First Amendment right to record police officers in the public performance of their duties? Second, Judge Saris’ ruling confirms that local government actors can be held liable for enforcing unconstitutional state laws when they have affirmatively and consciously taken steps to do so.

    The First Amendment issues are pretty simple. In 2011, the First Circuit ruled in a separate ACLU case (Glik v. Cunniffe) that we have a First Amendment right to record police officers in the public performance of their duties. The court’s ruling was based on long-standing precedent holding that the production and collection, not just the dissemination, of information is protected by the First Amendment. As long as the videographer doesn’t interfere with police activity, they are free to record, the First Circuit ruled. Importantly, the Glik decision did not limit that constitutional right to openly recording the police.


Voluntary Commercial Abuses

  • Michigan Woman Locked Up Over Suspended License Gives Birth on Jail Floor

    A Michigan woman was forced to deliver her baby on a dirty jailhouse floor, after being stopped for driving with a suspended license.

    It was Jessica Preston’s first offense, and she was eight-months pregnant, but the judge ordered a $10,000 cash bond, which she could not afford, so she was ordered to stay locked up until her court appearance five days later.

    Preston was imprisoned in the Macomb County Jail for her driving offense, when she went into labor. She approached the medical staff three times, asserting that she was about to have the baby, but was not believed.

    “I didn’t get to cut the cord,” Thomas Chastain, the baby’s father, told Click on Detroit. “(I) didn’t get to hold him.”

    The baby, Elijha, was born prematurely, and weighed under five pounds, making the situation and filthy conditions even more dangerous.

    “They didn’t believe her,” Linda Preston, Jessica’s mother, told WDIV-TV. “They just left her lay there. They didn’t care.



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  • The people know that they have created this farce and financed it with their own taxes (consent), but they would rather knuckle under than be the hypocrite. Factor VI – Cattle Those who will not use their brains are no better off than those who have no brains, and so this mindless school of jelly-fish, father, mother, son, and daughter, become useful beasts of burden or trainers of the same.
  • Mr. Rothschild’s Energy Discovery
    What Mr. Rothschild [2] had discovered was the basic principle of power, influence, and control over people as applied to economics. That principle is “when you assume the appearance of power, people soon give it to you.”

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