Cyber Security: Where are we now and where are we headed?

I recently had an extended conversation with John Jorgensen, founder and CEO of the Sylint Group, and USAF Brigadier General (Ret.) Charly Shugg, Sylint’s Chief Operations Officer, on where we are on cyber security and where we are headed. Both John and Charly understand that technology is ubiquitous. It is present, appearing and found everywhere. As technology expands so does the possibility of those with the necessary skills to use it for both good and evil. The Sylint Group is focused on combating the evil – the cyber war being conducted at every level from the individual to the nation state every moment of every day.

The more we tune in, turn on and hook in to technology the greater the threat to individual privacy and freedom.

Mr. Jorgensen believes the greatest future threat is from “chipping” but more about that later.

What is the current threat?

What most individuals think about when you say cyber security is protecting their personal information (e.g. credit cards, medical records, telephone and email conversations). For corporations it is about protecting their data, corporate processes and networks. For nation states, like the U.S., it is about protecting national assets such as the electrical grid, nuclear power plants, government websites and government secrets. Each sector has its unique needs but are these needs to provide cyber security being met? According to Mr. Jorgensen they are not. Mr. Jorgensen in his column “A New Age – The Cyber Information Age” wrote:

We are connected to each other electronically through communications systems that we don’t understand and to people we don’t know personally, and maybe don’t know that they are connected to us. Our lives bleed out through on-line personal accounts and everyone knows our foibles and sins. Our hard earned money is stolen from our bank accounts by somebody in a mid-eastern country, which we didn’t know existed. And all of this is accomplished using 1’s and 0’s in a nanosecond of time from thousands of miles away.

I notice that the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) is held a conference titled “Road Ahead to Cybersecurity”. I don’t think that there is a “road ahead” for cyber security. There isn’t a road at all! The whole playing field has changed and there are no defined roads in or out.

I firmly believe that we are stuck in a quagmire alongside that “road” to the playing field and it dead ended at the entry to a new age called “the Cyber Information Age”.

What are the future threats?

bio chip embedded in hands

Sub-dermal chip implants.

Restorative and enhancement technologies, biohackers, cyborgs, grinders and sub-dermal technology (chipping). Restorative technologies include devices used to help individuals medically. They are devices, that include a computer chip, used to restore the lives of individuals to normal or near normal. Restorative technologies include devices such as: heart pace makers, insulin pumps and prosthetic devices.

Enhancement devices are those which the individual implants into their bodies outside of the medically approved arena. Individuals can for just $39 buy a glass-encased embeddable chip that works with some Android smartphones.  A full DIY cyborg kit, including a sterilized injector and gauze pads, runs about $100. Amal Graafstra, a cyborg who creates and sells biohacking devices, said, “Some people see the body as a spiritual vessel not to be tampered with.  And some people understand their body is their own, treating it like a sport utility vehicle. I see [biohacking] as, I got fancy new fog lights on my SUV. “

Some of these enhancement devices are being designed to be used with computer games. The idea is to give the gamer a more realistic experience by using sub-dermal technology to provide pleasure and pain as the game is played. Mr. Jorgensen states that the gaming industry is “spending $300 million annually” to provide sub-dermal gaming chips, effectively turning gamers into cyborgs.

If a gaming chip is implanted in an individual and it can impact that person emotionally or physiologically, then someone (biohackers) could access the chip and use it to control the individual. Mr. Jorgensen calls this phenomenon “chipping.” Mr. Jorgensen notes that the U.S. military used to use games to train our soldier but dropped the program. The reason was that games are all about the individual and not the team. The gamer games to win, regardless of the impact of those around him or her.

How will this impact society?

Jim Brandon in his column “Is there a microchip implant in your future?” wrote:

Like any tech advancement, there are downsides. Concerns about the wrong people accessing personal information and tracking you via the chips have swirled since the FDA approved the first implantable microchip in 2004.

Naam and Pang both cited potential abuses, from hacking into the infrastructure and stealing your identity to invading your privacy and knowing your driving habits. There are questions about how long a felon would have to use a tracking implant. And, an implant, which has to be small and not use battery power — might not be as secure as a heavily encrypted smartphone.

Troy Dunn, who attempts to locate missing persons on his TNT show “APB with Troy Dunn,” said a chip implant would make his job easier, but he is strongly against the practice for most people. “I only support GPS chip monitoring for convicted felons while in prison and on parole; for sex offenders forever; and for children if parents opt in,” he says. “I am adamantly against the chipping of anyone else.”

Using chip implants to locate abducted children could actually have the opposite effect. Pang says a microchip would make a missing person easier to rescue, but “Kidnappers want ransoms, not dead bodies. The most dangerous time for victims is during rescue attempts or when the kidnappers think the police are closing in.”

And beyond the obvious privacy issues, there’s something strange about injecting a chip in your body, Lipoff says. Yet pacemakers and other embedded devices are commonly used today. “People might find it a bit unsavory, but if it is not used to track you, and apart from the privacy issues, there are many interesting applications,” he says.

What happens if you, your child or grandchild decide to implant a chip in their body. What would you say, think, do?

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RELATED VIDEO: Video courtesy of Grinders: David Forbes and his column “Tomorrow’s Cyberpunks are here Today” [NSFW]

Predicting Earthquakes. Not.

The president of the Space and Science Research Corporation, John Casey, is also the author of “Cold Sun: A Dangerous ‘Hibernation’ of the Sun Has Begun!” and has called attention to a meteorological cycle that until the global warming hoax occurred, was largely unknown to many people and, to a large degree still is.

Nature has not cooperated with the charlatans who made claims about a dramatic warming of the Earth. Since 1998 the planet along with the Sun has been in a solar cycle distinguished by very few, if any, sun spots—evidence of solar storms—and a cooling of the Earth that has some predicting a forthcoming new Little Ice Age.

As Wikipedia reports: “Solar Cycle 24 is the 24th solar cycle since 1755, when extensive recording of solar sunspot activity began. It is the current solar cycle, and began on January 4, 2008, but there was minimal activity until early 2010. It is on track to be the Solar Cycle with the lowest recorded sunspot activity since accurate records began in 1750.” These cycles occur every eleven years.

I was surprised to receive a news release from the Space and Science Research Corporation (SSRC) on Monday with the headline “Earthquake and Volcano Threat Increases” because, frankly, I could have put out the same release and, if such activity did increase, I could claim credit for predicting it and, if not, few if any would recall I had made such a claim. While earthquake activity has been studied for decades, even the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) makes no claim to being able to predicting when or where one will occur.

What the USGS can tell you is that their scientists (and others) “estimate earthquake probabilities in two ways: by studying the history of large earthquakes in a specific area and the rate at which strain accumulates in the rock.” A translation of this is that they have only the most minimal clues when and where one will occur. A recent International Business Times article reported that this may change as the introduction of “big data analytics” kicks in to provide “a leap of accuracy of quake predictions.”

The SSRC news release was about a letter that Casey had sent Craig Fugate, the Administrator of the Federal Management Agency which “disclosed that we are about to enter a potentially catastrophic period of record earthquakes and volcanic eruptions throughout the United States.”

Casey’s letter outlined “how the ongoing dramatic reduction in the Sun’s energy output will not only plunge the world into a decades-long cold epoch, but at the same time bring record geographic devastation in monster earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.”

Other scientists have come to similar conclusions, but after years of sorting through all the claims about global warming and “climate change”, one might want to tread lightly before embracing them.

I asked my colleague at The Heartland Institute, Science Director Jay Lehr, for his reaction and he was quite candid. “I have read it and am extremely skeptical. It sounds like the agency is looking for some press and, of course, when they turn out to be wrong no one will be upset. No harm. No foul. Being ready for earthquakes in known quake zones makes sense; creating unwarranted fear does not.”

Dr. Lehr summed up my own reaction. I would recommend his skepticism to everyone.

Will there be earthquakes here in the U.S.? Yes. The New Madrid earthquakes were the biggest in the nation’s history, occurring in the central Mississippi Valley and so large they were felt as far away as New York and Boston, Montreal and Washington, D.C. President James Madison and his wife Dolly felt them in the White House. They lasted from December 16, 1811 through March of 1812 and there were more than 2,000 quakes in the central Midwest, and between 6,000-10,000 in the boot-heel of Missouri where New Madrid is located near the junction of the Ohio and Mississippi rivers.

When will new earthquakes or volcanic eruptions occur? I doubt anyone knows the answer to that.

© Alan Caruba, 2015

Earthquake and Volcano Threat for U.S. Increases

In a rare letter to Mr. Craig Fugate, the Administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the Orlando, FL based Space and Science Research Corporation (SSRC), has disclosed that we are about to enter a potentially catastrophic period of record earthquakes and volcanic eruptions throughout the United States.

The letter was signed by SSRC President, Mr. John Casey, and delivered to FEMA headquarters in Washington, D.C. today. In the letter, Mr. Casey outlines how the ongoing dramatic reduction in the Sun’s energy output will not only plunge the world into a decades-long cold epoch, but at the same time bring record geophysical devastation in monster earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. These cold climate periods called “solar hibernations” or “solar minimums,” are well known phenomena in the solar physics community. The SSRC has done important pioneering work in the field of solar- climate modeling and has established itself as a leader in climate prediction and the study of these hibernations of the Sun.

Citing new research included in the SSRC’s semi-annual Global Climate Status Report (GCSR) to come out on Wednesday, the letter to FEMA’s Craig Fugate contained an important warning for all major earthquake fault zones and volcanically active areas. The research focuses especially on the increased threat for the New Madrid Seismic Zone (NMSZ) between St. Louis and Memphis.

This new threat information is contained in one of several papers in the June 10 edition of the GCSR paper authored by Mr. Casey and Dr. Dong Choi, Director of Research for the International Earthquake and Volcano Prediction Center (IEVPC). The paper shows that the NMSZ is due for another calamitous quake between 2017 and 2038. Dr. Choi and Casey show that for four times in a row since the year 1450, a major quake strikes the NMSZ when the Sun has gone into a hibernation phase. This scientific revelation is what Choi and Casey believes solves the puzzle of when the next major quake will strike the area. Geologists have studied the NMSZ for many years using traditional approaches. Casey and Choi say it is the combined research from the fields of solar physics and geology that provides the best opportunity to date to estimate when the next devastating NMSZ earthquake will strike. Other scientists agree with their opinion.

For this singular reason Dr. Choi and Mr. Casey have strongly recommended to FEMA Administrator Fugate that all high risk earthquake fault zones and areas with a history of volcanic eruptions in the USA take immediate precautions to mitigate what they describe as a “period of unparalleled geophysical lethality and destruction.”

Mr. Casey adds, “The very strong correlation between these solar minimums and the incidence of catastrophic earthquakes worldwide is an impressive display of how interconnected we all are to our natural world and the cycles of the Sun. It would be foolhardy to ignore in particular, the history of major earthquakes in the NMSZ and the fact that at the bottom of every solar hibernation for the past 600 years, that area has seen devastating earthquakes ranging from M6.8 to M8.0.

“While we address the New Madrid risk in this press release and in the June 10, 2016 Global Climate Status Report, the coincidence of major earthquakes with solar minimums is not limited to just that area of the U.S. That is why our letter to Administrator Fugate was a nationwide alert. The ~M9.0 Cascadia quake and tsunami of 1700 was at the bottom of the coldest solar hibernation period which was called the Maunder Minimum. The Great San Francisco quake of 1906 was at the bottom of another solar low point – the ‘Centennial’ Minimum as it is called at the SSRC. This strong association of solar activity and the worst earthquakes and volcanic eruptions could represent the ‘missing link’ for geophysical disaster prediction.”

Dr. Choi (Australia) also supports Casey’s opinion by saying, “The extensive research done in this area is clear in its implications. When the solar minimums arrive, the worst recorded earthquakes and volcanic eruptions strike. The last solar minimum for example, saw the largest series of earthquakes in human history in the NMSZ and the largest recorded volcanic eruption at Mt. Tambora in Indonesia. These events occurred within a few years of each other during the coldest period in the Sun’s last hibernation in the early 1800’s.”

Click Here to Download The Letter to the FEMA Administrator

EPA: Hydraulic Fracturing is No Threat to Drinking Water

Hydraulic fracturing, when done correctly, is safe and saves Americans money. The science says so.

EPA looked at scientific studies, government, NGO, and industry data and concluded that hydraulic fracturing has not had “widespread, systemic impacts on drinking water.”

For those of us closely involved in the debate over shale energy, this report simply reaffirms what previous science has shown, as Katie Brown explains at Energy In Depth:

EPA’s study actually builds upon a long list of studies that show the fracking process poses an exceedingly low risk of impacting underground sources of drinking water.  It corroborates a “landmark study” by the U.S. Department of Energy in which the researchers injected tracers into hydraulic fracturing fluid and found no groundwater contamination after twelve months of monitoring. It is also in line with reports by the U.S. Geological Survey, the Government Accountability Office, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the Groundwater Protection Council, to name just a few.

“The results of EPA’s exhaustive new analysis of hydraulic fracturing should not come as a surprise,” Christopher Guith, senior vice president for policy at the Institute for 21st Century Energy, said. “As the scope of America’s shale oil and gas opportunities have become understood, states and industry have developed regulatory environments and practices that ensure that hydraulic fracturing is done safely.”

In light of EPA’s study, some people have some reevaluating to do:

This study shows that states are successfully regulating hydraulic fracturing and duplicative federal rules aren’t needed. “Shale energy development continues to be a major economic driver of our economy, and it is critical that the federal government does not layer on duplicative and unnecessary regulations,” said Guith.

As for hydraulic fracturing opponents, they need to stop denying the science.

Meet Sean Hackbarth @seanhackbarth Follow @uschamber

EDITORS NOTE: The featured image is courtesy of a hydraulic fracturing site located atop the Marcellus shale rock formation in Pennsylvania. Photographer: Ty Wright/Bloomberg.

Caitlyn Jenner is only skin deep

I did an interview with ABC Channel 7 journalist Alix Redmonde about Caitlyn (formerly known as Bruce) Jenner. You may watch my interview with Alix by going here. In video journalism not everything I or others interviewed said is published, so I wanted to expand on my thoughts about Caitlyn Jenner as well as the comments by transgender “Jimmy” featured in the ABC report.

I asked my wife what she thought of Bruce becoming a faux woman. Her initial response was that it was all about the money. Bruce needs to pay for his/her medical bills and provide, at least for the short term, a revenue stream. While this is certainly a rational short term answer, what else could be a reason for this drastic “transformation”.

I titled this column “Caitlyn Jenner is only skin deep” because that is what Caitlyn’s sexuality is, skin deep. Caitlyn is still Bruce, the only thing that has changed is the outward appearance of Bruce. Caitlyn’s outward appearance is a facade, it is an outward appearance that is maintained to conceal a creditable reality, the fact that Caitlyn is genetically still is a Y chromosome male. The reality is that Caitlyn is a man and Bruce can never change that reality. When I heard about Caitlyn I thought about Michael Jackson and how he tried in the 1980s to surgically become more white. Michael Jackson wanted to become something he is not.

That is the fundamental issue – trying to become what you are not. But at what cost?

I recently reviewed Alex Garland’s film Ex Machina. I wrote:

This film is disturbing because is shows how humans without a conscience (morality) can, when given the chance, pass along their lack of morality to a machine.

[ … ]

At the end of the movie Ava escapes from the laboratory. To achieve this escape she deceives Caleb and kills both Nathan, its creator, and Caleb. Perhaps the most telling scene in the film is at the end when Ava finds previous versions of itself and begins to take the skin off of a previous robot and puts the skin on itself to look more human.

You see for Ava being human is only skin deep. Ava lacks the conscience (morality) of a human. Nathan did not learn the lesson of Issac Asimov’s book “I Robot.” Machines are just that, machines. To believe otherwise is fool hardy at the least and deadly at the worst.

Humans must control their urges to use technology to become God, as Caleb points out to Nathan. Robots must never be allowed to act alone. Think of the film The Terminator. You see machines may have a goal but lack a soul.

The doctors, psychiatrists and others who have encouraged Bruce to become Caitlyn are using technology to become God, but this time with a human being. Just because we can use technology to create a faux woman, should we?

This video by Bill Finlay titled “Bruce Jennercide” explains the tragedy of the misuse of technology by man:

I asked Jack Rigby, a psychologist living in Australia who, “[I]n my early practice before I went sane many decades ago,  I worked with many, many homosexuals”: What is the social redeeming value of homosexuality, exactly? Jack wrote:

Utterly none. Individual homosexuals can be constructively integrated to the rest of the population by simply conforming to normal social mores and exercising discretion.

The interesting observation I made over many decades of association with sexually aberrant people, was that these people almost instinctively recognize others of the same state without any obvious physical indications.

However, in recent decades in the fractured Society in the West, there has been a very strange situation develop in which small numbers of Homosexuals have formed politically obnoxious very public and virulently demanding groups .

This is creating a very dangerous situation for the great bulk of homosexuals who live quiet and integrated lives because there will be, without question, a violent mass backlash against them in the not distant future as has always happened in the past throughout the history of all races, Religions and Societies.

I actually have a great deal of concern for the number of the normally integrated ones who will be innocently caught up in the eventual reaction of Society to these strident, insane  anti-social demands of the entirely unstable violent few, whose intolerable antics and demands have already surpassed any reasonable level of public tolerance.

This transformation is disturbing because is shows how humans without a conscience (morality) can, when given the chance, pass along their lack of morality to a man. You seem Jimmy, the transgender in the ABC video report, believes that Caitlyn will advance the LGBT cause. I fear the opposite is true. Society will eventually react to “these strident, insane anti-social demands of the entirely unstable violent few, whose intolerable antics and demands have already surpassed any reasonable level of public tolerance.”

Society will not accept Caitlyn. Only a few radicals will.

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‘The Butterfly Effect’ – Obama, Climate Change, and Islam’s War against the World by Ralph Sidway

If even the wings of a butterfly have weight and shared causality, then what of the teachings and example of a seventh century desert prophet?

President Obama, during his recent address at the Coast Guard Commencement ceremonies, again offered his profound views on the myriad vectors shaping global unrest and chaos. Ranking high among the primal forces threatening us — high enough to be emphasized by the President of the most powerful nation on the planet — is that bane of mankind, “climate change.”  Lest there be any doubt of the gravity of the situation, or of his authority in such matters, Mr. Obama predicates his mission with a great “I am” statement:

“I am here to say that climate change constitutes a serious threat to global security, an immediate risk to our national security, and make no mistake, will impact how our military defends our country.”

The Obama Administration is consistent and adamant on this topic. This past February, Vice-President Biden told college students in Iowa that “global warming is the greatest threat of anything at all, across the board,” and Secretary of State Kerry has likewise been beating the same drum. (Never mind that the data shows we have been in a “global warming pause” for nearly two decades, and that climate-change IPCC scientists resorted to manipulating the data in order to create the fraudulent “hockey-stick graph” and advance their agenda.)

Curiously, the Administration’s emphasis on the threat from “climate change” seems to roughly balance its insistence that the Islamic State Caliphate is “not Islamic” and is not much of a threat anyway.  One might be tempted to think that the “war against climate change” is being used as a tool to deflect attention away from Islam’s war against us.

But let’s allow, for the sake of argument (and in deference to the great Ray Bradbury’s short story,“A Sound of Thunder”), that there is some validity to “The Butterfly Effect,” the chaos theory corollary which postulates that events of great consequence may be set in motion by much smaller events separated by vast scales of time and distance. “Change one thing — Change everything,” says the tag for the 2004 Ashton Kutcher film of the same name.

So, in the Obama narrative, chaotic weather shifts are contributing to drought, floods, poverty, inequity, and a host of other effects, all triggers generating global violent extremism, as disenfranchised groups duke it out for dwindling resources — or something like that.

But no matter how you dress it up with fancy words and phony analysis, the Obama narrative of “Blame it on the weather” is not only incorrect, it is downright deceitful.

Let’s rather explore “the Butterfly Effect” and take a quick ride in Ray Bradbury’s time machine back to the early 7th century. Let’s set the dials for shortly after Muhammad makes his hijra to Medina (Year 1, in the Islamic calendar). Let’s listen to the prophet and watch his actions. But take care not to step off the path.

The first thing we might hear would be recitations of early, Meccan-period, Quran verses such as these:

50:45. We know of best what they say; and you (O Muhammad) are not a tyrant over them (to force them to Belief). But warn by the Qur’an, him who fears My Threat.

109:1. Say: “O Al-Kafirun (disbelievers)!

109:2. “I worship not that which you worship,

109:3. “Nor will you worship that which I worship.

109:4. “And I shall not worship that which you are worshipping.

109:5. “Nor will you worship that which I worship.

109:6. “To you be your religion, and to me my religion (Islam).”

That sounds reasonable enough. Muhammad was not a tyrant – the Quran tells us so! Islam is a “live and let live” religion.  Yes, this is what the experts and the president say Islam is.

We might even be around to hear Muhammad share this verse, from early in the Medinan period:

2:256. There is no compulsion in religion. Verily, the Right Path has become distinct from the wrong path. Whoever disbelieves in Taghut {idolatry} and believes in Allah, then he has grasped the most trustworthy handhold that will never break. And Allah is All-Hearer, All-Knower.

I remember those Islam experts telling us this, yes! Here is the religion of peace in its formative years… How wonderful!

But let’s stay on the path and keep watching and listening.

Wait… What’s this? This sounds totally at odds with what we heard after first arriving in the Way-Back machine:

9:5. Then when the Sacred Months have passed, then kill the Mushrikun {unbelievers} wherever you find them, and capture them and besiege them, and prepare for them each and every ambush…

8:39. And fight them until there is no more Fitnah (disbelief and polytheism: i.e. worshipping others besides Allah) and the religion (worship) will all be for Allah Alone…

8:12 I will cast terror into the hearts of those who have disbelieved, so strike them over the necks, and smite over all their fingers and toes.

9:29. Fight against those who believe not in Allah, nor in the Last Day, nor forbid that which has been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger and those who acknowledge not the religion of truth (i.e. Islam) among the people of the Scripture (Jews and Christians), until they pay the Jizya with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued.

9:33. It is He {Allah} Who has sent His Messenger (Muhammad) with guidance and the religion of truth (Islam), to make it superior over all religions even though the Mushrikun (polytheists, pagans, idolaters, disbelievers in the Oneness of Allah) hate (it).

What? This isn’t the Islam I was told about by Obama and the experts at all! Fighting, killing and domination, supposedly the literal commands of God!?  Why, that would mean the words are eternal, unchanging…

But stay on the path… Let’s keep watching, it’s not just about the words. Surely they were taken out of context…

Wait… What’s this? Raids on caravans? A battle at Badr? More raids on different tribes? Battle after battle… And new revelations endorsing this, killing the vanquished, deceit and treachery, taking sex slaves and booty!

We saw other tribes exiled by Muhammad, but now, after his victory at Medina, we can hardly believe our eyes!  Muhammad ordering the beheading of hundreds of men from the Bani Quraiza! The Muslims cheering and beheading them in huge groups. Muhammad himself setting the chief example! All the blood and carnage… Unbelievable! It’s like ISIS times twenty!

Returning to our own time, we look around at the Islamic State, Boko Haram, Al Qaeda, the Taliban. We see the beheadings, the taking of captives, the slavery, the booty. We see thousands of Muslims from Europe and North America, Australia and Central Asia, flocking to join the Islamic State. We see the persecution of non-Muslims in Indonesia (which President Obama told us is modern and moderate!), Malaysia (another moderate Islamic country!), Egypt, Turkey…

And we hear and read of them justifying what they’re doing using the Quran itself…

Why, this is exactly what we saw and heard being commanded in our time travel back to Muhammad’s day. This is exactly what Muhammad did and preached!  The Islamic State ISIslamic!

No matter how often we check our boots, there is no dead butterfly crushed in the treads, no alternate blame to be laid on some shift in the timeline, nor on the forces of nature or even “human-caused global warming.”

The causes of “violent extremism” — Alas! — are now clear to us after seeing it with our own eyes. It is Muhammad himself who set all this in motion, fourteen centuries ago. It is Muhammad’s own example and the words he claimed were from God which devout Muslims today are following.

Of course, there is no time travel in the literal sense of the word. But our hypothetical journey to the seventh century in search of the Butterfly Effect was based entirely upon the Quran and the life of Muhammad as collected by his followers and as set down by his earliest biographer, Ibn Ishaq. Islam’s own revered texts provide the Way-Back machine, the lens into the past, which reveals to us the prophet and what he was like.

Sorry, Mr. Obama, you almost had us fooled, but no more. Sure, maybe the weather can impact human societies, but now we have seen with our own eyes the real cause of Islam’s war against the world.

And now we know it is Muhammad and the Quran.

And the sound we hear all around us… a sound of thunder.

ABOUT RALPH SIDWAY:

Ralph Sidway is an Orthodox Christian researcher and writer, and author of Facing Islam: What the Ancient Church has to say about the Religion of Muhammad. He operates the Facing Islam blog.

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True Costs of Wind Electricity by Planning Engineer and Rud Istvan 

Wind turbines have become a familiar sight in many countries as a favorite CAGW mitigation means. Since at least 2010, the US Energy Information Agency (EIA) has been assuring NGOs and the public that wind would be cost competitive by now, all things considered. Many pro-wind organizations claim wind is cost competitive today.  But is it?

Images for wind1

Yet incentives originally intended only to help start the wind industry continue to be provided everywhere. This fact suggests wind is not competitive with conventional fossil fuel generation. How big might the wind cost gap be? Will it ever close? We explore these questions in four sections: incentives, lifetime costoelectricity generation (LCOE), system costs, and market distortions. We examine onshore wind, since EIA says offshore is almost 3x more expensive. For simplicity, we examine EIA national averages, rather than regional ranges.

Incentives

The main US federal incentive is the wind Production Tax Credit (PTC), created by the Energy Policy Act of 1992. It is now $21.50/MWh for the first ten years of generation. It was intended to jumpstart the industry, so has expired via sunset provisions several times over the past 23 years. Each time, US wind investment promptly collapsed. Each time, Congress promptly renewed PTC at the same or higher incentive rates. Why? At Berkshire Hathaway’s (BH) 2014 annual meeting (BH’s Iowa based electric utility MidAmerican Energy has $5.6 billion invested in wind generation) Warren Buffet said:

“I will do anything that is basically covered by the law to reduce Berkshire’s tax rate. For example, on wind energy, we get a tax credit if we build a lot of wind farms. That’s the only reason to build them. They don’t make sense without the tax credit.” [1]

Images for wind2U.S. Congressman Lamar Smith asked the Congressional Budget Office to estimate PTC’s 2013 cost (as part of that year’s reinstitution debate): the 2013 cost was $13 billion.

Iowa has enacted an additional state PTC of $10/MWh. Buffet gets a total PTC of $31.5/MWh from both federal and Iowa taxpayers. YE2014, BH’s MidAmerican Energy, had 2953MW of Iowa wind capacity. Warren Buffet wind farms  are receiving $253 million of annual tax credit from Iowa wind generation on an investment of $5.6 billion (2953 MW * 0.31CF * 8766 hr/year *$31.5/MWh). BH’s effective tax rate last year was 31%. Those wind credits are equivalent to earning (253/0.31) $816 million on his $5.6 billion wind investment—a 15% return before any operating profit from selling electricity. That is a good deal for the Nebraska billionaire, but not for the rest of us.

The EIA estimates wind costs five years in the future. Since 2010, each cost estimate has had a separate entry for subsidies. Each estimate since 2012 (for 2017) has zero wind subsidies. EIA assumes the PTC expires (it has yet again YE2014). The Obama administration is proposing it be made permanent, with strong support from the AWEA (American Wind Energy Association). This suggests EIA’s estimated wind costs are too low, and partly political rather than mostly factual. How much is shown by closer examination of their other cost components.

LCOE

The most recent ‘official’ EIA estimates are available in Table 1 of EIA’s Annual Energy Outlook 2015, Electricity Generation Forecasts. The EIA explains:

Levelized cost oelectricity (LCOE) is often cited as a convenient summary measure of the overall competiveness of different generating technologies. It represents the per-kilowatthour cost (in real dollars) of building and operating a generating plant over an assumed financial life and duty cycle. Key inputs to calculating LCOE include capital costs, fuel costs, fixed and variable operations and maintenance (O&M) costs, financing costs, and an assumed utilization rate for each plant type. The importance of the factors varies among the technologies. For technologies such as solar and wind generation that have no fuel costs and relatively small variable O&M costs, LCOE changes in rough proportion to the estimated capital cost of generation capacity.

EIA’s LCOE is the annualized net present value (aka annual annuity cost). The estimate is always 5 years into the future. That is why their 2010 estimate above was only verifiable in 2015.

EIA calculates LCOE as the sum of five components: Capital, Fixed O&M, Variable O&M (including fuel), Transmission (incremental), and Subsidies (none). Capital costs are spread over a 30-year life at an interest rate of 6.5%. This appears superficially reasonable, but as we show below, isn’t. Following are the basic LCOE generation comparisons in $/MWh and capacity factor (CF) %, from the EIA AEO 2012 and 2014.

………………………CF%       ($2017)              ($2019)

CCGT                         87               66.1            66.3

Conv.Coal                85               97.7             95.6

Wind                         35               96.0             80.3

GT (peaker)           30             127.9           128.4

Three things stand out. Combined cycle gas turbine (CCGT) costs are cheaper than coal. That makes directional sense; in the US CCGT is gaining share at the expense of coal. CCGT cost advantages include: (a) better net thermal efficiency (61% versus 41% for USC coal), (b) abundant inexpensive natural gas thanks to fracked shale, and (c) cheaper capacity. It takes three years to build a CCGT for about $1000-1250/kw. USC coal takes 4 years to build for about $2850/kw.[2]Peak load gas turbine (GT) capacity only costs about $750/kw, but its LCOE is twice CCGT because its capital is under utilized–only operating 30% of the time. Finally, EIA says wind is competitive with coal and will become more so (about 20% more in just three years!).

‘True’ wind LCOE is understated since the PTC is missing. The annuity value of $21.5/MWH for 10 years at 6.5% interest, annuitized over 30 years is $7.2/MWh. A ‘truer’ comparison to coal is (96+7) ~$103/MWh from the general taxpayer perspective, rather than from Warren Buffet’s.

This unsurprising result just shows the PTC was intended to make wind ‘grid competitive’, and seems to do so—at taxpayer expense. That is why investment collapses toward zero in its absence. There are, however, two further ‘obvious’ plus two additional ‘hidden in the fine print’ issues with the EIA LCOE comparisons that are equally consequential, and similarly biased.

Wind capital cost

Wind capital declines 22% from 2017 to 2019; CCGT only declines 8%. This difference is not attributable to turbine production volume. According to GWEC,51,473 MW was delivered globally in 2014, comprising at least 17000 units (at ~3MW each). Installation costs don’t scale. Past reductions in wind capital per megawatt came from developing larger turbines, not from increased volume.

Images for wind3But actual installed cost/MW stopped declining, and started rising around 2005. There are few onshore turbines larger than 3 MW because of transportation (road/rail) constraints on blade length. The above 2012 NREL composite chart isdeliberately misleading; it ended in 2005 although LBNL data was available to 2011.

Images for wind4EIA’s projected 22% decline in wind capital LCOE is very dubious. We shall use $96/MWh total, the same as EIA’s 2010 LCOE midpoint charted above.

Capacity Factor

The record US annual wind capacity factor was 2014 at 33.9%. EIA itself says the median CF over the past decade is 31%. (Still better than the UK, where CF ranged from a low of 21.5% in 2010 to a record high 27.9% in 2013.) The assumed US 35% CF is unrealistically optimistic[3]

Images for wind5Using the historic median CF, a ‘truer’ wind LCOE is roughly (35/31*$96/MWh) $108/MWh.Using the historic median CF, a ‘truer’ wind LCOE is roughly (35/31*$96/MWh) $108/MWh.

Fine Print interest rate

The first fine print fudge is the annuity interest rate. The 2014 EIA text says 6.5% (same as 2012). Ah, but the fine print also says that for coal generation withoutcarbon capture and sequestration (CCS), 9.5% is used. EIA’s fine print inside that fine print says this is the equivalent of a $15/ton CO2 emissions tax on coal (buried inside Capital rather than exposed in Variable O&M explicitly including fuel cost).

EIA says conventional coal produces about 2.15 pounds of COper kWh (depending slightly on coal rank). That is ~2.15 tons of CO2 /MWh, a ‘hidden’ LCOE coal fuel penalty of (2.15*$15) $32.25. There is no US ‘carbon tax’; Congress refused to enact Obama’s proposal. A ‘truer’ comparison is wind at $108/MWh to coal at $65.45/MWh.

This also makes intuitive sense. The newest technology UltraSuperCritical (USC) coal must be similar in cost to CCGT in favorable locations (considering coal transport and quality). One was just completed for $1.8 billion (SWEPCO’s 600MW Turk plant in Arkansas) and 10 additional USC coal facilities are presently planned for the US. None of these will be built until the constitutionality of EPA’s proposed CO2 limit (which effectively prohibit them) is settled.

Fine Print lifetime

EIA comparisons are based on a 30-year lifetime; this introduces a large bias. The EIA itself says the average age of the US coal fleet is 42 years; effective coal lifetime is at least that. GE’s marketing materials say the expected life of its CCGT is at least 40 years. In other words, the capital annuity component of non-wind LCOE should be reduced by ~25% to reflect longer useful lives (40 rather than 30 year annuity, EIA capital only, 0.065 r). That is $8.35/MWh lower LCOE for coal after first subtracting the $32.25 fuel penalty hidden in capital, and $4.30/MWh lower for CCGT.

On the other hand, the design life for wind is 20 years; with maintenance they may last 25 years. EIA’s assumed wind lifetime is longer than the industry’s most cheery estimate, thereby understating LCOE. A ‘truer’ comparison would be wind at (capital component annuity 25 rather than 30 years, 0.065 r) $121/MWh compared to 40 year CCGT $57.5/MWh and Coal $57.1/MWh. ‘True’ wind LCOE is about twice the cost of conventional generation from either coal or natural gas.

Studies of UK and Denmark wind farms suggest their actual economic lives appear to be 12-15 years due to wear and tear.[4] One of the unanticipated problems that arose with larger turbines is premature cracking failure of the main axial bearing(s). These failures arise from two very difficult engineering conditions. First is uneven loading. Wind speeds increase with altitude so the three blades, which span great distances, are never evenly loaded. The bearing(s) wobble under the tremendous forces generated. Second, braking when wind speed exceeds 25mph suddenly loads reverse torque on the axial side where previously unloaded (and wobbling) individual bearings are in natural misalignment to their trace. If things go ‘well’, cracking can be caught before catastrophic failure. It is expensive to repair. The blades must be detached so the turbine can be dismounted and sent back to the factory. The following image shows a 3MW unit.

Images for wind6

Sometimes things do not go well.

Images for wind7To summarize the second section on LCOE: EIA’s wind future capital, capacity factor, and lifetime all understate the ‘true’ cost of wind. Conventional coal generation is misleadingly overstated. Given other information provably at EIA’s disposal, its wind-biased US findings appear driven by political considerations.

System Costs

We have looked at wind from the perspective of wind farmers and electricity generators. But that is not the whole story, since wind is intermittent. Intermittency has two broad utility system consequences not captured in generation LCOE. First, the grid has to have some level of offsetting backup generation to maintain stability. Those costs are not borne by wind operators unless they also happen to own the regional grid. Most don’t. Second, transmission capacity has to be added. The full extent of those costs is not usually borne by windfarms, but rather (again) by grid owners.

 Intermittent backup

Grids always have some spare capacity beyond average peak load. This safety margin handles unexpected peaks, unplanned outages, and other random fluctuations. How much depends on a grid’s many specific details, but 10 – 20% reserve margins are typical. A portion of this amount must be fast start gas turbines, or spinning reserves (older smaller depreciated plants operating at minimum capacity that can be ramped as needed), or flexible hydro, or (newly) flexible CCGT. For very small wind generation proportions, the ‘normal’ reserve suffices. As the percentage of wind in the generation mix grows, it increasingly does not. There are inefficiency costs and (depending on the grid) additional backup capacity costs incurred by the system as a whole.

Additional backup requirements depend on grid details beyond just wind generating penetration. For example, Ontario generation is about 58% nuclear, 24% hydro, and 4% wind (although wind is growing since Ontario subsidizes it with above market feed in tariffs). Nuclear is base loaded. Hydro is flexed for peak loads. The large proportion of hydro in Ontario means wind can grow to double-digit penetration without any significant additional backup capacity costs.

Backup has been studied for the UK National Grid and the Texas ERCOT grid, both of which have a more traditional generation mix than Ontario as well as higher wind penetration.

UK’s zero wind for three days 12/11-13/12 during its winter peak load season illustrates the National Grid’s need for wind backup. UK peak load is handled by flexing fossil fuel generation.

Images for wind 8Newer CCGT is specifically designed to flex as efficiently as possible. In recent years GE, Siemens, Alstom, and Mitsubishi have all introduced units. For example, GE’s FlexEfficiency 50 is a 510MWCCGT that can ramp 50MW/minute. At rated output, it operates 61% efficient. It is 60% efficient down to 87% load, and 58% efficient at 40% load (and not designed to operate below 40%). Cycling at less than rated output increases capital cost/MWh via under utilization, and increases fuel cost via reduced efficiency. Notionally, wind 30% CF means a supporting FlexEfficiency 50 running 70% of the time at rated capacity, and the remainder at 40% minimum load. Using GE’s numbers, that would add about $7.20/MWh LCOE of wind intermittency flex cost on a 30-year annuity basis.[5]

The Texas ERCOT grid is quite different. It has high summer peak load demand because of air conditioning. Texas backup capacity is therefore from high LCOE gas turbine peaker units which are unused except in summer.

Images for wind9As the proportion of wind generation increases, grids less blessed than Ontario have to add additional standby capacity of some sort. How much of which sort depends on grid details like those illustrated above. The UK National Grid has published estimates. An analysis by the UKERC suggested 15-22% additional for 10% wind production. A different analysis by the IEA ranged from 6% at 2.5% wind generation, to 12% at 5%, to 18% at 15%.[6] UK wind is presently 9.3% of generation. For the UK National Grid using flexed CCGT, these estimates imply about ($66.1+$7.2/MWh *0.15) ~$11/MWh for additional backup, a ‘truer’ wind LCOE of ($121+$11) $132/MWh for UK’s National Grid

On the Texas ERCOT grid, wind in 2014 was 10.6% of generation. For ERCOT’s summer gas peakers, wind’s ‘true’ cost is about ($121+ 0.15*$128) $140/MWh. Little wonder the Austin, Texas utility finds its renewable generation portfolio loses $80 million, while its fossil fuel generation earns $180 million annually at grid wholesale electricity rates! [7]

Transmission constraints

ERCOT also illustrates clearly the wind impact on transmission planning. Much of the wind capacity is in northern Texas, whereas the demand is in Dallas and Houston. ERCOT’s ‘CREZ’ wind driven grid capacity expansion added/upgraded 3600 miles of transmission lines at a cost of $6.9 billion over 3 years. That compares to $26 billion of cumulative (YE2014) investment in Texas wind generation. Annualized over 30 years at 6.5% and spread over ERCOT’s 36.1 million MWh of 2014 wind generation, CREZ adds wind LCOE of $6.44/MWh. That is 6.7% of EIA’s wind LCOE. EIA’s own incremental transmission estimate is 4%–yet again biased substantially low. The ‘true’ system LCOE of ERCOT wind is ($140+$6) ~$146/MWh, not anywhere near the general EIA estimate of $96/MWh — it is off by half.

Images for wind10

In the UK, lack of transmission capacity between Scotland’s wind farms and England/Wales consumers has led to National Grid Balancing Mechanism‘constraint payments’ netting about £165/MWh for wind NOT produced when it could have been. That comes out of British ratepayer pockets, even though they get no electricity in return.

Market Distortions

In 2011, MIT’s Paul Joskow circulated a Sloan School discussion paper pointing out that non-dispatchable generation (wind) not only has a different cost profile, it has a different value (price) profile.

“Wholesale electricity prices reach extremely high levels for a relatively small number of hours each year (see Figure 1) and generating units that are not able to supply electricity to balance supply and demand at those times are (or should be) at an economic disadvantage. These high-priced hours account for a large fraction of the quasi-rents that allow investors in generating capacity to recover their investment costs (Joskow 2008) and failing properly to account for output and prices during these critical hours will lead to incorrect economic evaluations of different generating technologies.”

Here’s a rough overview of studies that have looked at the impact of intermittent wind upon energy markets. This British study found that wind serves to change the capacity mix more so than the pattern of prices. The market shift to lower fixed cost higher variable cost stations results in relatively small price changes. This study from Ireland finds that increased wind penetration does not impact the pricing of electricity in Ireland (that is argued in the paper as a plus for encouraging more wind). This study found that wind in Denmark reduced costs to consumers. This study of ERCOT in Texas found that the spot market prices were reduced but price variance, volatility and risk increased. This study of the Pacific Northwest concluded that despite being more economical and easier to integrate in a hydro-rich area, “the direct economic benefits to end-users from greater investment in wind power may be negligible.”   There are many factors to consider and the interactions between spot prices and long term cost savings are uncertain. Perhaps the situation is best summed up as this report concluded, “the financial impacts of wind power generation are unclear due to the complex nature of wholesale power markets and the many variables that can impact wholesale electricity prices and generator revenues (i.e., location, natural gas prices, generation mix, and electricity demand).” It is not clear in any case that subsidizing wind production will lower overall energy prices in any region, and we already showed that subsidized wind raises generation costs.

Wind generation is associated with challenges in scheduling resources and participation in energy markets. Operators serve load with a varied generation mix. Generation plants have limited flexibility including minimum and maximum output levels, ramp up limitations, minimum down times and startup costs. The unpredictability of wind complicates the resource scheduling process. For more background see these Climate Etc postings: Watch out for the Duck Curve and All Megawatts Are Not Equal.

There is a limit to how far conventional plants can be backed down and remain available for service when they may be needed in the upcoming scheduling period. Wind availability coupled with low load periods can present major problems for system operators. It may be the case of simply having mismatched loads and generation of conventional plants may be needed to maintain gridreliability. Under “constraint payments” generators are paid for not injecting power into the grid. Under “negative power pricing” generators are charged for injecting power into the grid. Overwhelmingly conventional resources are not giving favorable treatment relative to intermittent resources.

This Study notes the additional harm caused by the US Production Cost Credit, which incents wind generators to make money by injecting power even during times of oversupply. Short term this impacts reliability and raises costs for others. Long term this serves to destabilize the market for conventional generation, which will defer investment and lead to further reliability concerns.

The ERCOT region was plagued by negative pricing concerns until the CREZ transmission improvements reduced such instances.

Images for wind11Some have argued from this that increased transmission build up can solve the problem of negative pricing and touted Texas as an example. However, what the transmission build out did was expose the wind resources to a larger market pool, thus reducing the effective penetration level of wind. The problem that wind at significant penetration levels will cause negative pricing remains. If you increase the penetration level in the larger pool, negative problems will remerge. Consistent with that, as Texas has continued to add wind resources, negative pricing problems reemerged in March of this year.

Conclusion

It is reasonable to ask why utilities still invest in wind, when even after PTC ‘true’ wind generation is very uncompetitive with Coal or CCGT, as well as distorting the entire wholesale electricity marketplace. EIA LCOE is not the whole story. EIA does not include other incentives such as state level above market feed in tariffs. Ontario wind gets 13.5¢/kwh versus the Province’s 2014 average wholesale generation price of 9.25¢/kwh–a 46% premium. Texas has a variety of state wind incentives (e.g. job credits and property tax breaks) estimated to cost $1 billion in 2014. Oklahoma has a complete income tax moratorium on wind farms. In 2011, California mandated 33% renewables by 2020 no matter the cost (up from 20% in 2006). The UK has the 2008 Climate Change Act. Germany has the Energiewende. Wind operators generally do not pay a price penalty for the market distortions they create. The most severe example of distorted consequences is Germany’s E.ON utility. Late in 2014 E.ON announced it was taking a $5.6 billion impairment charge on its conventional generating assets then spinning them off into a separate (unprofitable) company.[8] Conventional generation simply is no longer profitable in Germany given Energiewende’s renewables pricing distortions and forced flexing.

We can only approximate the ‘true’ cost of wind, and how much the reality differs from ‘official’ EIA (and industry) claims. Wind resources have often been presented in a far more favorable light than they deserve. Looking at the costs presented here they are far higher than can be justified. It has been hoped that subsidies would make wind self-sustaining in short order, but wind appears no closer to economic viability today than years ago.

The impacts of subsidized wind upon electricity markets are highly uncertain, and in many cases demonstrably harmful. Wind serves to raise costs, complicate scheduling, destabilize markets, and adversely impact reliability all in a hopeless effort to receive “free” energy that is actually quite costly.

The potential for wind is limited. Any sub area can have a high penetration of renewables if those resources are diluted into a larger area. Wind can provide adequate performance when correctly integrated with hydro and fossil resources. But the challenges are significant at this time to reach high penetration levels within most standalone resource mixes in most system grids.

[1] US News and World Report 5/12/2014

[2] Essay No Fracking Way in ebook Blowing Smoke.

[3] The aptly named National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL) has an even worse bias. Their 2013 “Transparent Cost Database” (a misnomer) has a selection biased sample of 109 onshore wind farms with a CF of 39% used for LCOE.

[4] Renewable Energy Foundation, Wear and Tear Hits Windfarm Output and Economic Life (2012). Available at www.ref.org.uk. See also Staffel and Green,How does wind farm performance decline with age?Renewable Energy 66: 775-786 (2014).

[5] We decided not to put this calculation in the text due to its complexity. CCGT LCOE capital $14.3/MWh. 70% operating at rated capacity, and 30% operating at 40% (14.3/.4) costing $21.45. Fuel inefficiency at 40% rated output is (61/58) times LCOE $49.1, a difference of $2.54. Total rated output difference is $23.99/MWh, but only for 0.3 of the time, so Δ$7.20/MWh.

[6] Holttinen et. al., Design and operation of power systems with large amounts of wind power, Final Report IEA Wind Task 25, p.170 (2009)

[7] Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts, Texas Power Challenge (2014)

[8] BloombergBusiness 11/30/14

JC note:  As with all guest posts, please keep your comments relevant and civil.

Anthrax Released: Should we be concerned?

US Army Dugway Proving Ground Main GateThe abrupt news that live anthrax samples  had been shipped from the U.S. Army Dugway proving ground to laboratories in the U.S., an air base in South Korea and possibly Australia came as a reminder to Americans and the world that biological warfare  training exercises might lead to troubling inadvertent releases. Fortunately, 22 military personnel exposed at the south Korean  airbase are being treated with the antibiotic Cipro. However, this latest release of a BW agent has caused both the U.S. Army bio-warfare directorate and the CDC to review safety precautions, packaging and procedures for the transmission of possible live anthrax spores and why samples had not been made inert?

The BBC reported that the U.S. military has ordered a review of how it handles anthrax after discovering more cases of live samples being accidentally sent to labs:

Live anthrax samples were believed to have been sent to a total of 24 labs, in 11 U.S. states as well as South Korea and Australia, the Pentagon said.

The Pentagon says that there is no known risk to the general public.

Experts in bio-safety have heavily criticized the lapse and called for improved precautions.

Symptoms of anthrax exposure include skin ulcers, nausea, vomiting and fever, and can cause death if untreated.

News of the live shipments first emerged on Wednesday, as the U.S. said it had accidentally shipped live anthrax spores from Utah to labs in Texas, Maryland, Wisconsin, Delaware, New Jersey, Tennessee, New York, California and Virginia, as well as an air base in South Korea.

Those shipments took place between March 2014 and April 2015, a U.S. official said, according to Reuters.

On Friday, the Department of Defense said it had identified “additional inadvertent live anthrax shipments”, including a suspect sample sent to Australia from a batch of anthrax from 2008.

It is not clear when that sample was shipped to Australia.

The military has ordered all of its labs that have previously received inactive anthrax samples to test them. In addition it is advising all labs to cease working with these samples until told otherwise.

Shortly after 9/11, the American public concern over bio-terrorism was raised  by the release of Anthrax in powdered form in letters sent to members of Congress and randomly to private persons. 22 persons were sickened, 5 died, the U.S. Senate building was shut down and inspected.  Anthrax exists naturally, but more powerful variants have been developed synthetically by dual use laboratories in rogue states like Iran, North Korea and Assad’s Syria.  Bio-warfare laboratories have been established by Al Qaeda and ISIS has been rumored to have obtained access to materials in Syria, as well. Remember the arrest in Afghanistan, prosecution and conviction in the U.S. of Brandeis University and MIT trained scientist, “Lady Al Qaeda”, Aafia Siddiqui .  There is also evidence that Iran’s terrorist proxy, Hezbollah may have been transferred BW capabilities and agents  by Syria that could be deployed against America’s ally , Israel and globally through major transportation nodes in Europe.

Jill Bellamy van Aalst(3)

Dr. Jill Bellamy

We asked Dr. Jill Bellamy, noted expert on biological warfare and threat reduction about this latest incident.  We have published articles by Dr. Bellamy on Syrian, Hezbollah, Al Qaeda and Iranian BW programs in both the NER and our blog the Iconoclast.

She commented:

Clearly from a bio-safety perspective this is a very serious breach of protocol and demands a full and transparent investigation. As anyone who works with inactivated anthrax would be routinely vaccinated with AVA, exposure from a clinical perspective is probably not as much of a concern as the general public may believe. Of course if anyone outside military labs the live anthrax was sent to and persons who have not been routinely vaccinated were exposed, this would be concerning. I would worry about the time frame from exposure. It appears from the reports that we are talking about several weeks or months during which the anthrax was shipped. It is probably a good sign that none of the labs has reported a laboratory acquired disease or LAD. If exposure is known Cipro (ciprofloxacin hydrochloride) is given for inhalation anthrax and usually a 60 day course is advised. The lab workers in these labs  would surely  have all been vaccinated, so how much of a health risk it poses is debatable.

The bio-safety side is more worrying. CDC and a number of other labs have previously had exposures from the accidental handling of live anthrax. There are very stringent regulations in place for the shipping and transport of live agents. It is doubtful there was any risk to public health during the transport as this would be handled by the military. What is more problematic is that the research done  at US Army labs and Dugway proving ground  are critical to national security.  Incidents like this feed an uninformed section in non-proliferation circles who then call for the closing of these labs or hype the danger they pose to the general public. It makes it more difficult to assure the public that such labs are a vital aspect to protecting citizens from BW attacks and ensuring vaccines and therapeutic countermeasures are available and stockpiled in the event of a deliberate attack. Hopefully this is an incident we will learn a great deal from in terms of bio-safety training, protocols and bio-security.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in the New English Review. The featured image is of  microscopic anthrax spores. Source: Reuters.

Full Stream Ahead: Why EPA’s Water Rule Goes Too Far

The Obama administration didn’t listen. Instead, it went ahead with its regulatory overreach over America’s waters. This worries farmers, ranchers, and other businesses.

EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers released their final Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule–known as the “Clean Water Rule” in EPA lingo–that claims jurisdiction over vast swaths of the country.

In a statement EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy claimed, “This rule will make it easier to identify protected waters.” In reality, the rule does this by claiming federal jurisdiction over a huge number of waters.

Inside the 299 pages of regulations, definitions, explanations, and justifications for the rule, “adjacent” waters now under federal regulatory authority “include wetlands, ponds, lakes, oxbows, impoundments, and similar water features” that are “in the 100-year floodplain and that are within 1,500 feet” (five football fields) of a navigable water. The entire body of water is “adjacent” even if only a portion of it falls within the 100-year floodplain or within 1,500 feet of a navigable water.

While EPA and the Army Corps claim that WOTUS clarifies what waters are under federal jurisdiction, in agriculture’s case, nothing is clarified. The rule states [emphasis mine]:

Waters in which normal farming, ranching, and silviculture activities occur instead will continue to be subject to case-specific review, as they are today.

In fact, under this new definition bodies of water or wetlands over three-quarters of a mile from an navigable water could fall under federal jurisdiction if the federal government decides that it significantly affects another body of water [emphasis mine]:

[W]aters within 4,000 feet of the high tide line or the ordinary high water mark of a traditional navigable water, interstate water, the territorial seas, impoundments, or covered tributary are subject to case-specific significant nexus determinations.

The agencies claim they “do not anticipate that there will be numerous circumstances in which this provision will be utilized,” but who is to say the ever-growing Regulatory State won’t make this its default tool in its water regulation toolbox. Regulators’ best wishes are no guarantee that an agency’s power will be limited.

With federal jurisdiction comes costly federal permitting. “Over $1.7 billion is spent each year by the private and public sectors obtaining wetlands permits,” wrote the U.S. Chamber and 375 other associations in a comment on WOTUS to EPA and the Army Corps.

William Kovacs, the U.S. Chamber’s Senior Vice President of Environment, Technology, & Regulatory Affairs, said the process the agencies used to write the rule was “fundamentally flawed.”

Since issuing the proposed rule for public comment in April 2014, the agencies have somehow maintained that the proposal will have no significant regulatory or economic impact, and in fact the agency is simply ‘clarifying’ the current state of federal jurisdiction over waters. Such statements fly in the face reality.

Despite appeals from constituents and lawmakers across the country; countless business owners, farmers and industry leaders; and the Small Business Administration, the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers failed to conduct any meaningful regulatory or economic impact analyses prior to issuing a final rule.

The Chamber filed lengthy public comments identifying exactly how the proposal could affect businesses of all sizes, including local municipalities, and requested the agencies convene a small business review panel to study and evaluate those impacts. Numerous state, local and business stakeholders and the Small Business Administration (twice) echoed that request, to no avail.

In a blog post prior to WOTUS being released, Kovacs worried that the water rule “would put [EPA] effectively in charge of zoning the entire country.”

Kovacs isn’t alone in criticizing the rulemaking process. While explaining that WOTUS will expand federal authority, Charles Maresca, Director of Interagency Affairs for the Small Business Administration’s Office of Advocacy, told a Senate Committee it was “incorrect” for EPA and the Corps to claim that the regulation won’t have “a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small businesses.”

It was no holds barred in the administration’s defense of its controversial rule. President Obama’s top environmental advisor Brian Deese said, “The only people with reason to oppose the rule are polluters who threaten our clean water.”

Tell that to farmers, ranchers, home builders, and other businesses. They understand that clean water means everything to their customers and their businesses. Federal regulators going over the heads of local and state officials accomplishes little but adding more barriers to job creation and economic development.

With WOTUS businesses will be up a creek without a paddle.

Who Should Choose? Patients and Doctors or the FDA? by Doug Bandow

Good ideas in Congress rarely have a chance. Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.) is sponsoring legislation to speed drug approvals, but his initial plan was largely gutted before he introduced it last month.

Congress created the Food and Drug Administration in 1906, long before prescription drugs became such an important medical treatment. The agency became an omnibus regulatory agency, controlling everything from food to cosmetics to vitamins to pharmaceuticals. Birth defects caused by the drug Thalidomide led to the 1962 Kefauver-Harris Amendments which vastly expanded the FDA’s powers. The new controls did little to improve patient safety but dramatically slowed pharmaceutical approvals.

Those who benefit the most from drugs often complain about the cost since pills aren’t expensive to make. However, drug discovery is an uncertain process. Companies consider between 5,000 and 10,000 substances for every one that ends up in the pharmacy. Of those only one-fifth actually makes money—and must pay for the entire development, testing, and marketing processes.

As a result, the average per drug cost exceeds $1 billion, most often thought to be between $1.2 and $1.5 billion. Some estimates run more.

Naturally, the FDA insists that its expensive regulations are worth it. While the agency undoubtedly prevents some bad pharmaceuticals from getting to market, it delays or blocks far more good products.

Unfortunately, the political process encourages the agency to kill with kindness. Let a drug through which causes the slightest problem, and you can expect television special reports, awful newspaper headlines, and congressional hearings. Stop a good drug and virtually no one notices.

It took the onset of AIDS, then a death sentence, to force the FDA to speed up its glacial approval process. No one has generated equivalent pressure since. Admitted Richard Merrill, the agency’s former chief counsel:  “No FDA official has ever been publicly criticized for refusing to allow the marketing of a drug.”

By 1967 the average delay in winning approval of a new drug had risen from seven to 30 months after the passage of Kefauver-Harris. Approval time now is estimated to run as much as 20 years.

While economist Sam Peltzman figured that the number of new drugs approved dropped in half after Kefauver-Harris, there was no equivalent fall in the introduction of ineffective or unsafe pharmaceuticals. All the Congress managed to do was strain out potentially life-saving products.

After all, a company won’t make money selling a medicine that doesn’t work. And putting out something dangerous is a fiscal disaster. Observed Peltzman:  the “penalties imposed by the marketplace on sellers of ineffective drugs prior to 1962 seem to have been enough of a deterrent to have left little room for improvement by a regulatory agency.”

Alas, the FDA increases the cost of all medicines, delays the introduction of most pharmaceuticals, and prevents some from reaching the market. That means patients suffer and even die needlessly.

The bureaucracy’s unduly restrictive approach plays out in other bizarre ways. Once a drug is approved doctors may prescribe it for any purpose, but companies often refuse to go through the entire process again to win official okay for another use. Thus, it is common for AIDS, cancer, and pediatric patients to receive off-label prescriptions. However, companies cannot advertise these safe, effective, beneficial uses.

Congress has applied a few bandages over the years. One was to create a process of user fees through the Prescription Drug User Fee Act. Four economists, Tomas Philipson, Ernst Berndt, Adrian Gottschalk, and Matthew Strobeck, figured that drugmakers gained between $11 billion and $13 billion and consumers between $5 billion and $19 billion. Total life years saved ranged between 180,000 and 310,000. But lives continue to be lost because the approval process has not been accelerated further.

Criticism and pressure did lead to creation of a special FDA procedure for “Accelerated Approval” of drugs aimed at life-threatening conditions. This change, too, remains inadequate. Nature Biotechnology noted that few medicines qualified and “in recent years, FDA has been ratcheting up the requirements.”

The gravely ill seek “compassionate access” to experimental drugs. Some patients head overseas unapproved treatments are available. The Wall Street Journal reported on those suffering from Lou Gehrig’s disease who, “frustrated by the slow pace of clinical drug trials or unable to qualify, are trying to brew their own version of an experimental compound at home and testing it on themselves.”

Overall, far more people die from no drugs than from bad drugs. Most pharmaceutical problems involve doctors misprescribing or patients misusing medicines. The deadliest pre-1962 episode involved Elixir Sulfanilamide and killed 107 people. (Thalidomide caused some 10,000 birth defects, but no deaths.) Around 3500 users died from Isoproterenol, an asthmatic inhaler. Vioxx was blamed for a similar number of deaths, though the claim was disputed. Most of the more recent incidents would not have been prevented from a stricter approval process.

The death toll from agency delays is much greater. Drug analyst Dale Gieringer explained:  “The benefits of FDA regulation relative to that in foreign countries could reasonably be put at some 5,000 casualties per decade or 10,000 per decade for worst-case scenarios.  In comparison … the cost of FDA delay can be estimated at anywhere from 21,000 to 120,000 lives per decade.”

According to the Competitive Enterprise Institute, among the important medicines delayed were ancrod, beta-blockers, citicoline, ethyol, femara, glucophage, interleukin-2, navelbine, lamictal, omnicath, panorex, photofrin, prostar, rilutek, taxotere, transform, and vasoseal.

Fundamental reform is necessary. The FDA should be limited to assessing safety, with the judgment as to efficacy left to the marketplace. Moreover, the agency should be stripped of its approval monopoly. As a start drugs approved by other industrialized states should be available in America.

The FDA’s opinion also should be made advisory. Patients and their health care providers could look to private certification organizations, which today are involved in everything from building codes to electrical products to kosher food. Medical organizations already maintain pharmaceutical databases and set standards for treatments with drugs. They could move into drug testing and assessment.

No doubt, some people would make mistakes. But they do so today. With more options more people’s needs would be better met. Often there is no single correct treatment decision. Ultimately the patient’s preference should control.

Congress is arguing over regulatory minutiae when it should be debating the much more basic question: Who should decide who gets treated how? Today the answer is Uncle Sam. Tomorrow the answer should be all of us.

Doug Bandow

Doug Bandow is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute and the author of a number of books on economics and politics. He writes regularly on military non-interventionism.

Capitalism Defused the Population Bomb by Chelsea German

Journalists know that alarmism attracts readers. An article in the British newspaper the Independent titled, “Have we reached ‘peak food’? Shortages loom as global production rates slow” claimed humanity will soon face mass starvation.

Just as Paul Ehrlich’s 1968 bestseller The Population Bomb  predicted that millions would die due to food shortages in the 1970s and 1980s, the article in 2015 tries to capture readers’ interest through unfounded fear. Let’s take a look at the actual state of global food production.

The alarmists cite statistics showing that while we continue to produce more and more food every year, the rate of acceleration is slowing down slightly. The article then presumes that if the rate of food production growth slows, then widespread starvation is inevitable.

This is misleading. Let us take a look at the global trend in net food production, per person, measured in 2004-2006 international dollars. Here you can see that even taking population growth into account, food production per person is actually increasing:

Food is becoming cheaper, too. As K.O. Fuglie and S. L. Wang showed in their 2012 article “New Evidence Points to Robust but Uneven Productivity Growth in Global Agriculture,” food prices have been declining for over a century, in spite of a recent uptick:

In fact, people are better nourished today than they ever have been, even in poor countries. Consider how caloric consumption in India increased despite population growth:

Given that food is more plentiful than ever, what perpetuates the mistaken idea that mass hunger is looming? The failure to realize that human innovation, through advancing technology and the free market, will continue to rise to meet the challenges of growing food demand.

In the words of HumanProgress.org Advisory Board member Matt Ridley, “If 6.7 billion people continue to keep specializing and exchanging and innovating, there’s no reason at all why we can’t overcome whatever problems face us.”

This idea first appeared at Cato.org.

Barack “Climate Change” Obama

“Woe to the land that’s governed by a child.” – Shakespeare, Richard III

I have been wrestling for some kind of explanation why the President of the United States, Barack Obama, would continue to talk about climate change and urge the global transition from fossil fuels to wind, solar and bio-energy. I have concluded that he thinks everyone, not just Americans, are idiots.

We know he lies about everything, but these two topics are clearly near and dear to his heart.

Paul Driessen

Paul Driessen

My friend, Paul Driessen, is a policy analyst for the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow, a free market think tank. Among the pundit class he’s ranked very high by his colleagues. Here’s what he has to say about climate change:

“Earth climate always has changed, is always changing, and always will change—but not from fossil-fuel use. Solar fluctuations, deep ocean circulation patterns, and other powerful natural forces have driven climate change and weather events throughout Earth’s history and will continue to do so.”

“President Obama’s hubris is breathtaking. He now thinks an army of regulators can control our planet’s temperature and climate by tweaking emissions of plant-fertilizing carbon dioxide, a mere 0.04% of the atmosphere.”

“America’s communities do not need to be protected from climate change. They need to be protected from the excesses of authoritarian presidents and bureaucrats.”

Driessen and I look at and listen to Obama and wonder if others too see and hear someone uttering some of the most absurd claims about the climate. Then we worry that this someone is the President of the United States with the power to turn his ignorance into national policy.

At this point we have suffered his initial failure to respond to the recession he inherited from the 2008 financial crisis. More than six years later the economy has barely moved toward a normal rate of growth. Then we were gifted with ObamaCare and the disruption of what was widely regarded as the best health system in the world. And, for good measure, he imposed Common Core on an already weakened educational system. It is being repealed and opposed in many states. For good measure, his foreign policy, if he has one, is widely regarded as a total failure.

How is it a former “community organizer” possesses a seemingly vast understanding of meteorology? Did they also teach that at the Harvard Law School? “Climate change,” said Obama, addressing a graduating class of the Coast Guard Academy, “constitutes a serious threat to global security, an immediate risk to our national security, and make no mistake; it will impact how our military defends our country.”

“Our military and our combatant commanders,” the President told the Academy graduates, “our services—including the Coast Guard—will need to factor climate change into plans and operations, because you need to be ready.” For what? For a rainstorm? For snow? Wind?

This is the same President who sees no threat to our national security from Iran whose leaders shout “Death to America” every day when they aren’t also shouting “Death to Israel.” He has zealously been pursuing a deal that would enable Iran, the leading supporter of terrorism, to have nuclear weapons. Meanwhile Islamic State (ISIS) is taking over more territory in northern Iraq and into Syria. Obama might as well be dropping bags of marshmallows on them.

He blamed climate change in the form of “severe droughts” for the rise of Islamism in the Middle East and Africa. Someone needs to tell Obama that there have always been severe droughts somewhere on the planet, and floods, and forest fires, and blizzards, and hurricanes. Even so, in the last eighteen years, there have actually been LESS of these natural events, along with the flatlining of the planet’s overall or average temperature—there has been no warming!

Not content to blame climate change for the rise of terrorism, the White House issued a report that was described as “a doomsday scenario of health, security, economic and political issues.” The thing about climate is that it measured in centuries, not years. As for the weather, while records are maintained, it is usually reported as today’s news with a forecast of the coming week.

So you shouldn’t be surprised that the report blamed “asthma attacks” on climate change!

Suffice to say there isn’t a glimmer of hard evidence to support anything the President is saying these days about climate change.

And this is the same President that wants the U.S. and the rest of the world to give up the use of fossil fuels—coal, oil and natural gas—to “stop climate change.”

IF Obama’s climate change idiocy is just a way to distract Americans from the real problems we have encountered thanks to his failure to address them, then it is purely cynical and political.

IF Obama really believes this stuff, he is unfit to be President.

© Alan Caruba, 2015

Ex Machina: Consciousness without a Conscience

ex machina posterI went to see producer Alex Garland’s movie Ex Machina. The film portrays a young computer programmer named Caleb employed by a company named Blue Book (any connection to Facebook?) being used to test the humanness of a robot name Ava played by Alicia Vilkander. Ava is the creation of Nathan the founder of Blue Book.

Caleb is told he won a lottery to be the guest of Nathan for a week at his remote estate. However, the real purpose of Caleb’s visit is to evaluate Nathan’s artificial intelligence creation Ava. Nathan reveals to Caleb he was selected to conduct a Turing Test on Ava. The Turing Test is a test of a machine’s ability to exhibit intelligent behavior equivalent to, or indistinguishable from, that of a human.

What struck me about Ex Machina is how each of the three main characters (Nathan, Caleb and Ava) lie and conspire against one another to fulfill their desires. Nathan lies to Caleb about how he was chosen and why he is at Nathan’s remote laboratory. Caleb lies to Nathan and conspires to release Ava into the world believing the robot is worthy of its freedom. Ava lies to Caleb in order to gain his trust to free it from the laboratory in which it is being held.

This film is disturbing because is shows how humans without a conscience (morality) can, when given the chance, pass along their lack of morality to a machine.

Other writers have looked at this film as an example of how innovation drives the free markets. Richard N. Lorenc, the Chief Operating Officer of the Foundation for Economic Education, writes:

Last weekend, I saw Ex Machina, the new sci-fi thriller depicting the intentional emergence of artificial intelligence through the creative powers of human genius.

Ex Machina also demonstrates one of the most fundamental concepts of economics: How individuals alone can choose to act.

[ … ]

Ex Machina is not only a thriller, but also a lesson in the pervasiveness of economics in everything we do. If economics is the science of human action and only individuals can choose to act, then economics is all around us.

When you recognize that, you will marvel at how utterly improbable the wealth of the world around us actually is, as well as understand how easy it is to disrupt the entire system through reducing, restricting, or abolishing the individual’s prerogative to be the actor and hero of her own life.

My questions to Richard are: What is the social redeeming value of the human actions in Ex Machina? What good is there in the technology exhibited by the robot Ava?

Ava has a consciousness but is without a conscience.

At the end of the movie Ava escapes from the laboratory. To achieve this escape she deceives Caleb and kills both Nathan, its creator, and Caleb. Perhaps the most telling scene in the film is at the end when Ava finds previous versions of itself and begins to take the skin off of a previous robot and puts the skin on itself to look more human.

You see for Ava being human is only skin deep. Ava lacks the conscience (morality) of a human. Nathan did not learn the lesson of Issac Asimov’s book “I Robot.” Machines are just that, machines. To believe otherwise is fool hardy at the least and deadly at the worst.

Humans must control their urges to use technology to become God, as Caleb points out to Nathan. Robots must never be allowed to act alone. Think of the film The Terminator. You see machines may have a goal but lack a soul.

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FDA-generated Stevia Myth

One recent “viral” email making the rounds claims that the natives of Paraguay have used the intense sweetener stevia as a contraceptive and that it can cause infertility. This raises suspicions because primitive societies are known for performing fertility rites so that women will reproduce. Primitive societies generally would never do just the opposite and seek a contraceptive method.

The FDA works hand in glove with the sweetener manufacturers, also warns that a supposed infertility effect is ascribed to stevia (with no data to back this claim), and has so far refused to assign it the GRAS (Generally Recognized as Safe) designation.

I have been translating patents relating to sweeteners for about 35 years and it would be hard to maintain that I am not a specialist on this subject. Interestingly, while patents relating to aspartame and sucralose (artificial sweeteners sold, for ex, as NutraSweet or Equal and as Splenda) often mention the known untoward effects of these substances, none of the patents (Japanese, German, Chinese, French, etc.) that I have translated mention any health drawbacks of stevia. If you try to tell a Japanese, for example, that you think stevia is unsafe, they will think you are insane. Their medical profession does its homework and would never fail to report any untoward side effects of stevia if there were any.

Stevia is a natural sweetener whose sweet principles (stevioside and rebaudioside) are the only intense sweeteners in nature without an off-taste. (Licorice, for ex, is also a natural sweetener but its sweet principle glycyrrhizin has a peculiar off taste. Non-intense sweeteners, or bulk sweeteners, are generally sugar alcohols such as xylitol, mannitol, maltitol, etc., and we aren’t discussing them here).

Stevia is a plant that grows to about a foot or more and its leaves are sweet. I have grown it myself to sweeten my coffee.

It is indigenous to Paraguay and the natives have been using it as a sweetener for years.

It is grown in various parts of South America, Asia and elsewhere, and is marketed in various countries. I believe it is available in the U.S. but the FDA refuses to classify it as GRAS. This is highly unusual because almost all natural substances that have been used for centuries in any country are automatically classified as GRAS by the FDA unless the native people who have used it have reported side effects. No Guarani Indians have issued such reports and they have used it for centuries. Further, according to the EUFIC, stevia sweeteners are approved for use in many countries including Japan, Korea, Taiwan, China, Russia, Mexico, Argentina, Colombia, Peru, Paraguay, Uruguay, Brazil and Malaysia.

So why might the FDA be out of step with the world?

Well, both Splenda and Nutrasweet / Equal are sold by American companies (JW Childs, Boston, and Merisant). In the case of Splenda, there is a British component in a joint venture, namely, Tate and Lyle, but Johnson & Johnson also sells it.

On the other hand, aspartame, which is known to be harmful to phenylketonurics and actually carries an FDA warning to that effect, is listed as GRAS by the FDA.

This is very suspicious to me.

Here is what Wikipedia says, raising more suspicion.

In 1991, after receiving an anonymous industry complaint, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) labeled stevia as an “unsafe food additive” and restricted its import [THIS IS OUTRAGEOUS. AN ‘ANONYMOUS’ COMPLAINT DOES NOT MERIT SUCH A RESPONSE! — DON],.[40][59][60] The FDA’s stated reason was “toxicological information on stevia is inadequate to demonstrate its safety.”[61]

Since the import ban in 1991, marketers and consumers of stevia have shared a belief that the FDA acted in response to industry pressure.[40] Arizona congressman Jon Kyl, for example, called the FDA action against stevia “a restraint of trade to benefit the artificial sweetener industry”.[62] To protect the complainant, the FDA deleted names in the original complaint in its responses to requests filed under the Freedom of Information Act.[40]

Stevia remained banned until after the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994 forced the FDA in 1995 to revise its stance to permit stevia to be used as a dietary supplement, although not as a food additive – a position that stevia proponents regarded as contradictory because it simultaneously labeled stevia as safe and unsafe, depending on how it was sold.[7]

Early studies prompted the European Commission in 1999 to ban stevia’s use in food in the European Union pending further research.[63] In 2006, research data compiled in the safety evaluation released by the World Health Organization found no adverse effects.[33] Since 2008, the Russian Federation has allowed stevioside as a food additive “in the minimal dosage required”.[51]

In December 2008, the FDA gave a “no objection” approval for GRAS status to Truvia (developed by Cargill and The Coca-Cola Company) and PureVia (developed by PepsiCo and the Whole Earth Sweetener Company, a subsidiary of Merisant), both of which use rebaudioside A derived from the Stevia plant.[64] However, FDA said that these products are not Stevia, but a highly purified product [THAT IS NONSENSE. STEVIA IS NEVER SOLD IN UNPURIFIED FORM. IT TASTES TOO BITTER FOR THAT. IN FACT, IN THE BUSINESS, STEVIA SWEET PRINCIPLES ARE SIMPLY CALLED STEVIA. THIS IS JUST AN EXCUSE FOR THE FDA TO WRIGGLE OUT OF ITS ORIGINAL BAN ON THE PRODUCT!–DON].[65] In 2012, FDA posted a note on its website regarding crude Stevia plant: “FDA has not permitted the use of whole-leaf Stevia or crude Stevia extracts because these substances have not been approved for use as a food additive. FDA does not consider their use in food to be GRAS in light of reports in the literature that raise concerns about the use of these substances. Among these concerns [NOTE: BASED ON AN ANONYMOUS REPORT, AS STATED ABOVE BY FDA. THAT IS OUTRAGEOUS BEYOND BELIEF–DON] are control of blood sugar and effects on the reproductive, cardiovascular, and renal systems.”[66]

So how has this stevia scare affected me personally? Right now, I am now sipping ice tea sweetened with stevia.

‘Politically contrived nonsense’: Scientific studies, data and history refute Obama’s climate/national security claims

“It is hard to even take today’s speech by Obama seriously on either a logical, scientific or political level. The speech was so farcical in its claims that it hardly merits a response. It is obvious that the climate establishment is seeking new talking points on ‘global warming’ to change the subject from the simple fact that global temperatures are not cooperating with their claims.

See: Global warming ‘pause’ expands to ‘new record length’: No warming for 18 years 5 months

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If any Americans actually believe the climate claims linking ‘global warming’ to a rise in conflicts, no amount of evidence, data, logic or scientific studies will likely persuade them. But given the high profile nature of the comments, a rebuttal to the President’s climate claims is necessary.

Claiming that melting ICE is more a threat to the U.S. than ISIS is a hard sell, particular given the latest data on global sea ice. See: Sea Ice Extent – Day 137 – 3rd Highest Global Sea Ice For This Day – Antarctic Sets 49th Daily Record For 2015

Contrary to the President’s claims, it seems ISIS may in fact trump ICE as a bigger concern.

Image result for obama climate change

Obama also claimed that climate ‘deniers’ were a huge part of the problem. Obama explained: “Denying it, or refusing to deal with it, endangers our national security and undermines the readiness of our forces.”

Obama seems to be borrowing his claims from Rolling Stone Magazine. See: Forget ISIS, skeptics are greatest threat?! – Rolling Stone: Climate ‘Deniers’ Put ‘National Security at Risk’

Also see: Paper: ‘Osama bin Laden cared more about global warming than GOP Sen. James Inhofe’

But actually believing the above statements endangers our capacity for rational thought and evidence based research. Actually believing Obama’s climate claims, undermines our nation’s ability to distinguish real threats from politically contrived nonsense.

UN climate treaties and EPA climate regulations will not prevent wars, conflicts or impact the creation of terrorist groups.

The President seems to believe every modern malady is due to ‘global warming’ See: White House doom: Climate change causes allergies, asthma, downpours, poverty, terrorism – Lists 34 effects

President Obama claimed that man-made climate change was partly responsible for the civil war in Syria. “It’s now believed that drought, crop failures, and high food prices helped fuel the early unrest in Syria, which descended into civil war in the heart of the Middle East,” Obama said.

First off, extreme weather is not getting more ‘extreme.’ See: Extreme weather failing to follow ‘global warming’ predictions: Hurricanes, Tornadoes, Droughts, Floods, Wildfires, all see no trend or declining trends

But such drought claims are not new or unique to President Obama. In 1933, similar baseless claims were made. See: 1933 claim: ‘YO-YO BANNED IN SYRIA – Blamed For Drought’

ScreenHunter_174 Sep. 03 22.08

For a larger view click on the image.

In addition, in 1846, in Australia, Aborigines blamed the bad climate on the introduction of the White man in Australia. During World War 2, some blamed the war for causing unusual weather patterns. In the 1970s, the exact same things (bad weather) we are talking about today, were  blamed on man-made global cooling.

Global warming is not a threat to the world, but global warming ‘solutions’ are. The estimated 1.2 billion people in the world without electricity who are leading a nasty, brutish and short life, will be the ones who “will pay” for global warming solutions that prevent them from obtaining cheap and abundant carbon based energy. See: S. African activist slams UN’s ‘Green Climate Fund’: ‘Government to govt aid is a reward for being better than anyone else at causing poverty’ — ‘It enriches the people who cause poverty’

Simple historical facts undermine the President’s claims about global warming and national security concerns.

Small Sampling of evidence countering President Obama’s claims.

Lord Christopher Monckton, Former Thatcher Adviser issues point-by-point rebuttal to Obama: ‘Does the ‘leader’ of the free world really know so little about climate?’– ‘If this Obama speech was the very best that the narrow faction promoting the extremist line on global warming could muster for their mouthpiece, then the skeptics have won the scientific, the economic, the rational, and the moral arguments – and have won them hands down.’

‘All Large European Wars Occurred With CO2 Below 350 ppm’ Via Real Science website- Most Of The World’s Wars Occurred Below 350 PPM CO2 — ‘Now that we know that war is caused by global warming, I was very surprised to discover that the vast majority of wars occurred before 1988 – including the War of 1812′

UN Climate Chief: Middle East Was Peaceful When CO2 Was Below 350 PPM — UN’s Christiana Figueres: ‘Food shortages and rising prices caused by climate disruptions were among the chief contributors to the civil unrest coursing through North Africa and the Middle East’

Scientific studies comprehensively debunk the notion that rising carbon dioxide will lead to more wars.

Flashback: Debunked: the ‘climate change causes wars’ myth –Peer-reviewed paper ‘thoroughly eviscerates’ climate war claims — ‘The primary causes of civil war are political, not environmental’

‘A total takedown’ of myth by the Center for Strategic and International Studies — ‘Since the dawn of civilization, warmer eras have meant fewer wars. The reason is simple: all things being equal, a colder climate meant reduced crops, more famine and instability. Research by climate historians shows a clear correlation between increased warfare and cold periods. They are particularly clear in Asia and Europe, as well as in Africa’

Scientific American: ‘Greens Should Stop Claiming More Warming Means More War’

Follow the (military) money: Is the military ‘taking on climate change denialists’ or simply following the lead of its civilian leaders?

Conflict Deaths and Global Warming – ‘The problem is that the conflicts that are cited as examples of the phenomenon are located in areas known for both frequent conflict prior to the current warming period and for historical patterns of extreme climates similar to those seen today.’

Der Spiegel Demolishes Syria War-Climate Paper By Kelley et al.: ‘Hardly Tenable’…’Distraction From Real Problems’

Even BBC features harsh criticism of new study: ‘Their strong statement about a general causal link between climate and conflict is unwarranted by the empirical analysis that they provide’ — BBC: Rise in violence ‘linked to climate change’ — ‘Changes in temperature or rainfall correlated with a rise in assaults, rapes and murders’

Climate Depot Round Up Counters global warming/war claims:

Climate Depot’s rebuttal to Sen. John Kerry’s climate change/national security claims

Study: Cold spells were dark times in Eastern Europe: ‘Cooler periods coincided with conflicts and disease outbreaks’ –Published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences’: ‘Some of Eastern Europe’s greatest wars and plagues over the last millennium coincided with cold periods’ — ‘The Black Death in the mid-14th century, the Thirty Years’ War in the early 17th century, the French invasion of Russia in the early 19th century and other social upheavals occurred during cold spells. The team suggests food shortages could explain the timing of some of these events’

New study: Global cooling led to wars, famine and plagues in 1560-1660: Cold ’caused successive agro-ecological, socioeconomic, and demographic catastrophes’

Global Conflict Not Linked to Global Climate Change — ‘Wars in Burundi, Chad, the Dominican Republic, Indonesia, Peru, the Comoros, Congo, Eritrea, Niger, and Rwanda are so numerous that I could probably make a statistical argument that one in five wars are due to the AFC winning the Super Bowl’

Discovery News: Cold times led to angry runts, famine, and war; warm times led to The Renaissance

Remarkably sane article in Science: Warm periods are good, cold periods are bad

Time Mag reports: ‘Peaks of social disturbance such as rebellions, revolutions, & political reforms followed every decline of temperature’ — ‘Number of wars increased by 41% in Cold Phase’ — ‘Peaks of social disturbance such as rebellions, revolutions, and political reforms followed every decline of temperature, with a one- to 15-year time lag’

Study: Climate change ‘NOT to blame’ for African civil wars — ‘Climate variability in Africa does not seem to have a significant impact on risk of civil war’

A UN IPCC Scientist’s New Study! ‘Global Warming Sparks Fistfights & War, Researchers Say’: ‘Will systematically increase the risk of many types of conflict ranging from barroom brawls & rape to civil wars & international disputes’ — Climate Depot Responds

Related Links:

Watch Now: Morano in lively TV climate debate with enviro lobbyist: ‘The points she just made are demonstrably not true’

Sen. Inhofe calls Obama’s climate national security claims a ‘severe disconnect from reality’– Inhofe: ‘While the president has spent at least $120 billion on climate change initiatives since first taking office, he has also set into motion more than $1 trillion in budget cuts to our national defense. When I talk to military personnel, whether in Oklahoma or overseas, their greatest concern is not climate change. Instead, what I hear is their concern for global instability, the disarming of America and the lack of vision from their commander-in-chief.’

As Ramadi Falls, Obama Gives Troops Global Warming Speech

Obama Readies U.S. Troops For The War On ‘Global Warming’

Obama Tells Coast Guard cadets ‘dereliction of duty’ not to fight ‘global warming’ – In his speech, Obama said denying climate change or refusing to deal with it is negligence and “dereliction of duty.” “If you see storm clouds gathering or dangerous shoals ahead you don’t just sit back and do nothing,” President Obama said Wednesday. “You take action to protect your ship, to keep your crew safe. Anything less is negligence. It is a dereliction of duty. So to with climate change.” “Denying it or refusing to deal with it endangers our national security,” Obama also said. “It undermines the readiness of our forces.” PRESIDENT OBAMA: Climate change is one of those most severe threats. This is not just a problem for countries on the coasts or for certain regions of the world. Climate change will impact every country on the planet. No nation is immune. So I am here today to say that climate change constitutes a serious threat to global security, an immediate risk to our national security. And make no mistake, it will impact how our military defends our country. So we need to act and we need to act now. After all, isn’t that the true hallmark of leadership? When you’re on deck, standing your watch, you stay vigilant, you plan for every contingency. If you see storm clouds gathering or dangerous shoals ahead you don’t just sit back and do nothing. You take action to protect your ship, to keep your crew safe. Anything less is negligence. It is a dereliction of duty. So to with climate change. Denying it or refusing to deal with it endangers our national security. It undermines the readiness of our forces.

Obama: Climate ‘deniers’ endangering national security – “Climate change constitutes a serious threat to global security, an immediate risk to our national security, and, make no mistake, it will impact how our military defends our country,” Obama told new Coast Guard officers at the academy’s New London, Conn., campus. “And so we need to act — and we need to act now.”
Republicans in Congress, however, have stymied legislative action on climate change. The president took aim at GOP critics, saying temperatures are rising even though “some folks back in Washington” refuse to admit it. “Denying it, or refusing to deal with it, endangers our national security and undermines the readiness of our forces,” Obama added. He also questioned how Republicans could claim to support the military while downplaying the effects of global warming. “Politicians who say they care about military readiness ought to care about this as well,” he said. Obama claimed the rise of Boko Haram in Nigeria and the civil war in Syria were both fueled by instability caused by severe drought and crop losses connected to rising temperatures.