Loss of Privacy

Keeping you informed on recent losses to privacy and civil rights worldwide.

Browsing Posts in Science

After years of ignoring their illegal immigration problems, the EU has finally decided to copy America’s border security measures by fingerprinting all entries and exits from all visitors to the EU.

The measures would ensure more secure borders and prevent visitors from illegally entering Europe, or overstaying the three-month stay given to tourists and EU visa holders, Franco Frattini said.

And how does the EU propose to do this?  At best, they can state that a person has overstayed their visit.  Good luck actually finding the person.

“The electronic register should include viable biometric identifiers,” Frattini told reporters during two-day talks of EU justice and interior ministers. He said visitors overstaying their welcome were “the No. 1″ cause of illegal immigration.

Uh, duh?!  What a great insight.  Illegals come from people overstaying their welcome.    Also, by requiring biometrics, the database they store them in will not be guaranteed safe and a country could circumvent their own laws by asking the EU for a copy of their database.

In reality, what this plan is, is a clear cut case of retaliation against the United States for its actions against EU allies.  It is also frightening in its possible privacy violations.

Such a data system, modeled after one adopted by the U.S., would store 19 pieces of sensitive passenger data for 13 years, including e-mail addresses, telephone numbers and payment details of flight tickets.

Nice.  More databases.  Less security.  More harassment.  On the upside, maybe I’ll get some entertaining telemarketing calls from The Netherlands now.

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Military researchers are researching ways to develop a weapon that will identify and harness the scent of fear.

The military has backed a study on the “Identification and Isolation of Human Alarm Pheromones,” which “focused on the Preliminary Identification of Steroids of Interest in Human Fear Sweat.” The so-called “skydiving protocol” was the researchers’ method of choice.

Pheromones are chemicals released by animals as signals to their own kind: for sex, for territorial marking, and more. They’re often detected in the olfactory membranes. But there’s more to pheromones than attraction. Many animals have an alarm pheromone which is used to signal danger; aphids, for example, use it to cause their fellow lice to flee.

Yay!  The military thinks of us as the equivalent of lice.  The military is probably going down the same road as their previous gay bomb.  They should probably stick with more effective means of fear weapons, such as spreading rumors and false information to make their enemies afraid.

If they manage to get this to work, it could backfire.  Those who suffer from PTSD could flip out and and go berserk.  It could even trigger normal people to go ape shit instead of just fleeing, like they want.  People who are in an intense state of fear do some very crazy and unpredictable things.  Do you really want to mess with people who might snap over something that they can’t control in a situation they didn’t even create?

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As a US taxpayer, you are helping to subsidize the use of genetically modified seeds.  Monsanto, who some believe is the devil incarnate in a corporation, and the Department of Agriculture have an arrangement that gives farmers a break on their federal crop insurance premiums if they use Monsanto seeds.

The deal was made possible when Congress agreed to give farmers a break on federal crop insurance if they planted crops that resist pests and produce higher yields, making them less vulnerable to crop failures, and U.S. taxpayers less vulnerable to large insurance payouts. That, the seeds do.

But environmentalists and green food advocates have long argued that genetically modified seeds may be dangerous in ways both subtle and obvious. Subtle, in that plants can hybridize, introducing human-injected genes (“genetic drift”) into natural ecosystems with unknown consequences. Obvious, in that farmers using herbicide-resistant crops can spray more pesticides, increasing the use of the toxic substances (though the use of crops that grow their own pesticides would reduce the need to spray).

Of course, none of the GM food gets checked by the FDA because the FDA allows it to fall under the “it’s generally safe” category.  So, you get to subsidize GM food that you probably don’t want but have no knowledge as to whether the food you buy is GM or not.  The local farmer is nearly forced into using Monsanto seed because his neighbors all use it, yielding higher results.

The farmer gets the “benefit” of lower insurance premiums and the joys of having to purchase new seed each year from Monsanto as all the seeds are designed to not reproduce.  Monsanto profits and gives a little back to the gleeful politicians in Washington that helped them get to the monopoly that they are today.  Don’t you just love America?

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Far too many Americans depend on their local grocer to obtain the food they need to survive.  Everyone also wants that food to be cheap and easily obtainable.  Enter Monsanto.  They own many of the corporate farms where most of the food is grown and shipped to the local grocer and they’re genetically modifying it to save costs.

Factory farms produce food that is designed to keep for long periods. Therefore factory growers identified varieties of plants that can be harvested green and ripen later. Monsanto has genetically engineered many of the foods used by factory growers to augment their profits and allow them to own what was once viewed as the property of God. Monsanto wants to own the DNA of the food you eat, making the seeds you buy sterile. They have taken steps in court and law to give them ownership through the twisted ideas of privatization, which is really an ongoing corporatization of everything we need to live.

The seeds sold by Monsanto are not designed for your health. Corporations are not held accountable for the long range impact of what they sell.

There is no accountability from Monsanto as to whether or not the food they are selling you is actually healthy enough to eat.  You consume unknown pesticides, genetically designed for the genetically modified Monsanto seeds, yet, you believe that corn or wheat is good for you.

It’s also odd that, after thousands of years, farmers can no longer keep back a small percentage of their crop for seed for next year.  Why?  Because Monsanto has developed terminator seeds that are sterile and cannot be used again.  The small farmer is now forced to purchase seed from Monsanto and pay a fee to be able to use said seed.  And don’t even think of not being sued if there’s some cross-pollinization happening.

If you want to know more, you should educated yourself, starting with a viewing of The Corporation, followed by The Future of Food and finish up with Monsanto, Patent for a Pig.  You can also read about the effects of genetically modified food and read what author Michael Chrichton has to say about patenting life.  If you do have a private garden, have a look at FEDCO.  Maybe the Svalbard Global Seed Vault can save us, that is, unless Monsanto hasn’t patented it yet.

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Gordon Brown and Alistair Darling have tried to convince the British public that, had the 25 million records recently lost been protected with biometric ID cards, the information contained within would have somehow been protected.

The letter points out that this is based on three suppositions – that the entire UK population can be enrolled on the database; that no one can forge biometric information; and finally that every ID check would include checks against biometric information on the national database.

Several leading academics felt compelled to write the Home Office to explain how ridiculous this claim is.

Even if, in this fairy-tale land, it came to pass that (a) (b) and (c) were true after all (which we consider most unlikely), the proposed roll-out of the National Identity Scheme would mean that this level of ‘protection’ would not – on the Home Office’s own highly optimistic projections – be extended to the entire population before the end of the next decade (i.e. 2020) at the earliest.

They also pointed out that, if so much information were to be cataloged in one place, it would be even more valuable to thieves and more likely a target by crooks.

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