How to Avoid GMOs When You’re on a Budget

Eat Local Grown
by Daisy Luther

avoid-gmos-budget-10-1408921889

What’s the most controversial topic at the grocery store these days?

It’s GMOs.

Should you consume them? Are they okay in moderation? Should you strictly avoid them at all times? And if so, how on earth can you manage to navigate the store without stepping into a genetically modified landmine? And if you really want to challenge yourself, how can you do that on a budget?

The anti-GMO movement is picking up steam, for a multitude of excellent reasons. My family is making continuous efforts to remove genetically modified products from our lives. If you want to learn how you can banish them too, read on!

Forget about GMO labeling.

First of all, let’s face some facts here.  Crony capitalism in America isn’t going to allow changes that would require the labeling of genetically modified ingredients in your food. While in a perfect world, a place that requires people selling healthfully grown organic foods to jump backwards through hoops and turn a cartwheel to be allowed to place a “certified organic label” on their items, Big Agri can blithely don hazmat suits to spray ever-increasing amounts of glyphosate on crops that have been genetically modified to withstand the poisons, with nary a word to consumers.

The reality is, Monsanto and their ilk have incredibly deep pockets. The Big Food companies that purchase vast amounts of GMO crops are also rolling in money. If you want to avoid GMOs, you can’t look to those who have a vested interest in selling them to protect you. You have to constantly educate yourself to beat them at their own game.

And their game, of course, is Monopoly.

If they refuse to label their products, we can refuse to buy them.  Money talks, and to large corporations it SHOUTS.  If their bottom line begins to dwindle because people refuse to consume their products, eventually they will have to make a change.

That’s exactly what happened with Dean Foods, actually. In 2009, Dean Foods switched their formula for their popular Silk Soymilk.  Instead of using organic soybeans, they began purchasing conventional soybeans. As we all know, nearly all of the soy grown in the United States is genetically modified – at last report it was over 94%.  So, more than likely, the soymilk that Dean Foods was putting out was GMO.  When outraged customers refused to purchase the product, Dean realized that they were losing money hand over fist, and they switched back to organic soy.

Victory: Team Anti-GMO.

So, you see, that’s how it works. In a free market where consumers have adequate information, their desires direct what is produced. The issue right now is that consumers do NOT have adequate information – at least not without a diligent search for it.

We can wish for labeling until the rBGH-free cows come home, but the battle will have to be fought without the aid of labels.

Avoiding GMOs is easier than you might think. And it can be done on a budget. Here’s how.

Learn to use the labels that DO exist.

Revised Seal copy

Although companies are no required to put warning labels on GMOs, companies can opt to boast when their products are GMO-free.

The Non-GMO Project is focused in the opposite direction of the activists that insist GMOs be labeled. They are working to label products that have been scrupulously tested and are verified NOT to contain genetically modified material.

(Here’s a list of  1,000 non-gmo foods)

The pretty little butterfly label is your best indication that the product in your hand doesn’t contain GMOs.   Through a third-party verification process, the products are tested and audited to maintain their standing.

The retailers who started the Non-GMO Project were motivated by a simple idea. They believed that consumers in North America should have access to clearly-labeled non-GMO food and products, now and in the future. That conviction continues to guide the Non-GMO Project, as North America’s only independent verification for products made according to best practices for GMO avoidance.

The verification seal indicates that the product bearing the seal has gone through our verification process. Our verification is an assurance that a product has been produced according to consensus-based best practices for GMO avoidance:

  • We require ongoing testing of all at-risk ingredients—any ingredient being grown commercially in GMO form must be tested prior to use in a verified product.
  • We use an Action Threshold of 0.9%. This is in alignment with laws in the European Union (where any product containing more than 0.9% GMO must be labeled). Absence of all GMOs is the target for all Non-GMO Project Standard compliant products. Continuous improvement practices toward achieving this goal must be part of the Participant’s quality management systems.
  • After the test, we require rigorous traceability and segregation practices to be followed in order to ensure ingredient integrity through to the finished product.
  • For low-risk ingredients, we conduct a thorough review of ingredient specification sheets to determine absence of GMO risk.
  • Verification is maintained through an annual audit, along with onsite inspections for high-risk products.

Other products sometimes say that they do not contain GMOs.  While this may be true, the Non-GMO Project Verified seal is earned through rigorous testing, and you can feel fairly confident that foods bearing this seal are free of genetically modified ingredients.

Another label to look for is USDA Certified Organic.

According to the USDA’s official blog, the inclusion of any type of GMOs is prohibited in an organic product.

The use of genetic engineering or genetically modified organisms (GMOs) is prohibited in organic products. This means an organic farmer can’t plant GMO seeds, an organic cow can’t eat GMO alfalfa or corn, and an organic soup producer can’t us any GMO ingredients. To meet USDA organic regulations, farmers and processors must show they aren’t using GMOs and that they are protecting their products from contact with prohibited substances, such as GMOs, from farm to table.

Sadly, it’s important to note that the USDA has relaxed their standards and “organic” now means 95% or more organic.

Learn about the likely suspects.

In the United States and Canada, two things shout “GMO” like no other: corn and soy. As of 2012, more than 94% of the soy and 88% of the corn in America was genetically modified.

The sad fact is, if you are buying anything processed at all, corn or soy is most likely to be an ingredient. And given the statistics above, it’s almost guaranteed that the corn or soy is GMO unless it’s otherwise noted. Both ingredients masquerade under many names. The lists below may seem overwhelming, but it’s important to see the number of aliases that allow these products to sneak into your food.

Here’s a sobering chart from the website Corn Allergens that shows many of the names under which corn lurks in your food.

  • Acetic acid
  • Alcohol
  • Alpha tocopherol
  • Artificial flavorings
  • Artificial sweeteners
  • Ascorbates
  • Ascorbic acid
  • Aspartame (Artificial sweetener)
  • Astaxanthin
  • Baking powder
  • Barley malt* (generally OK, but can be contaminated)
  • Bleached flour*
  • Blended sugar (sugaridextrose)
  • Brown sugar* (generally OK if no caramel color)
  • Calcium citrate
  • Calcium fumarate
  • Calcium gluconate
  • Calcium lactate
  • Calcium magnesium acetate (CMA)
  • Calcium stearate
  • Calcium stearoyl lactylate
  • Caramel and caramel color
  • Carbonmethylcellulose sodium
  • Cellulose microcrystalline
  • Cellulose, methyl
  • Cellulose, powdered
  • Cetearyl glucoside
  • Choline chloride
  • Citric acid*
  • Citrus cloud emulsion (CCS)
  • Coco glycerides (cocoglycerides)
  • Confectioner’s sugar
  • Corn alcohol, corn gluten
  • Corn extract
  • Corn flour
  • Corn oil, corn oil margarine
  • Corn starch
  • Corn sweetener, corn sugar
  • Corn syrup, corn syrup solids
  • Corn, popcorn, cornmeal
  • Cornstarch, cornflour
  • Crosscarmellose sodium
  • Crystalline dextrose
  • Crystalline fructose
  • Cyclodextrin
  • DATUM (a dough conditioner)
  • Decyl glucoside
  • Decyl polyglucose
  • Dextrin
  • Dextrose (also found in IV solutions)
  • Dextrose anything (such as monohydrate or anhydrous)
  • d-Gluconic acid
  • Distilled white vinegar
  • Drying agent
  • Erythorbic acid
  • Erythritol
  • Ethanol
  • Ethocel 20
  • Ethyl acetate
  • Ethyl alcohol
  • Ethyl lactate
  • Ethyl maltol
  • Ethylcellulose
  • Ethylene
  • Fibersol-2
  • Flavorings*
  • Food starch
  • Fructose*
  • Fruit juice concentrate*
  • Fumaric acid
  • Germ/germ meal
  • Gluconate
  • Gluconic acid
  • Glucono delta-lactone
  • Gluconolactone
  • Glucosamine
  • Glucose syrup* (also found in IV solutions)
  • Glucose*
  • Glutamate
  • Gluten
  • Gluten feed/meal
  • Glycerides
  • Glycerin*
  • Glycerol
  • Golden syrup
  • Grits
  • High fructose corn syrup
  • Hominy
  • Honey*
  • Hydrolyzed corn
  • Hydrolyzed corn protein
  • Hydrolyzed vegetable protein
  • Hydroxypropyl methylcellulose
  • Hydroxypropyl methylcellulose pthalate (HPMCP)
  • Inositol
  • Invert syrup or sugar
  • Iodized salt
  • Lactate
  • Lactic acid*
  • Lauryl glucoside
  • Lecithin
  • Linoleic acid
  • Lysine
  • Magnesium citrate
  • Magnesium fumarate
  • Magnesium stearate
  • Maize
  • Malic acid
  • Malonic acid
  • Malt syrup from corn
  • Malt, malt extract
  • Maltitol
  • Maltodextrin
  • Maltol
  • Maltose
  • Mannitol
  • Methyl glucose
  • Methyl glucoside
  • Methyl gluceth
  • Methylcellulose
  • Microcrystaline cellulose
  • Modified cellulose gum
  • Modified corn starch
  • Modified food starch
  • Molasses* (corn syrup may be present; know your product)
  • Mono- and di- glycerides
  • Monosodium glutamate
  • MSG
  • Natural flavorings*
  • Olestra/Olean
  • Polenta
  • Polydextrose
  • Polylactic acid (PLA)
  • Polysorbates* (e.g. Polysorbate 80)
  • Polyvinyl acetate
  • Potassium citrate
  • Potassium fumarate
  • Potassium gluconate
  • Powdered sugar
  • Pregelatinized starch
  • Propionic acid
  • Propylene glycol monostearate*
  • Propylene glycol*
  • Saccharin
  • Salt (iodized salt)
  • Semolina (unless from wheat)
  • Simethicone
  • Sodium carboxymethylcellulose
  • Sodium citrate
  • Sodium erythorbate
  • Sodium fumarate
  • Sodium lactate
  • Sodium starch glycolate
  • Sodium stearoyl fumarate
  • Sorbate
  • Sorbic acid
  • Sorbitan* (anything)
  • Sorbitol
  • Sorghum* (not all is bad; the syrup and/or grain CAN be mixed with corn)
  • Splenda (Artificial sweetener)
  • Starch (any kind that’s not specified)
  • Stearic acid
  • Stearoyls
  • Sucralose (Artificial sweetener)
  • Sucrose
  • Sugar* (not identified as cane or beet)
  • Threonine
  • Tocopherol (vitamin E)
  • Treacle (aka golden syrup)
  • Triethyl citrate
  • Unmodified starch
  • Vanilla, natural flavoring
  • Vanilla, pure or extract
  • Vanillin
  • Vegetable anything that’s not specific*
  • Vinegar, distilled white
  • Vinyl acetate
  • Vitamin C* and Vitamin E*
  • Vitamins*
  • Xanthan gum
  • Xylitol
  • Yeast*
  • Zea mays
  • Zein

Likewise, soy is another item that wears many hats and can be difficult to avoid. Here are some of the names under which soy could be hiding in your food. (List is from About.com)

  • Bean curd
  • Bean sprouts
  • Bulking agent
  • Edamame (fresh soybeans)
  • Guar gum
  • Gum arabic
  • Hydrolyzed plant protein (HPP) or hydrolyzed vegetable protein (HVP)
  • Hydrolyzed soy protein (HSP)
  • Kinako
  • Lecithin
  • Miso (fermented soybean paste)
  • Mixed tocopherols
  • Mono- and di-glycerides
  • MSG (monosodium glutamate)
  • Natto
  • Natural flavoring
  • Nimame
  • Okara
  • Shoyu
  • Soy (albumin, cheese, fiber, grits, milk, nuts, sprouts, yogurt, ice cream, pasta)
  • Soy lecithin
  • Soy protein (concentrate, hydrolyzed, isolate)
  • Soy sauce
  • Soya
  • Soybean (curds, granules)
  • Soybean oil
  • Stabilizer
  • Tamari
  • Tempeh
  • Teriyaki sauce
  • Textured vegetable protein (TVP)
  • Thickener
  • Tofu (dofu, kori-dofu)
  • Vegetable gum, starch, shortening, or oil
  • Vitamin E
  • Yuba

As you can see, it’s difficult to avoid potential GMOs if you eat anything that comes from a package.  Despite the fact that many people suffer from food allergies, these items are allowed to be included under names that make it difficult to discern what you’re actually getting.  Names like “thickener”, “natural flavoring”, and “drying agent” do not give the label reader much of a clue.

More than 60 GMO crops that have been approved in the US are:

  • Corn (20 varieties)
  • Oilseed Rape/Canola (11 varieties)
  • Cotton (11 varieties)
  • Tomato (6 varieties)
  • Potato (4 varieties)
  • Soybean (3 varieties)
  • Sugar Beet (3 varieties)
  • Squash (2 varieties)
  • Cantaloupe
  • Rice
  • Flax
  • Raddicchio
  • Papaya
  • Alfalfa
  • Wheat

Fortunately, not all of these are currently on the market.  Currently corn, soybeans, cotton, canola, squash, and papaya are all sold commercially. (Source: Organic Consumers)

The best possible choices have no label at all.

Bluntly put, food manufacturers are out to deceive the consumer. They know that many people are trying to avoid GMOs, but they still want you to buy their products. This is why they are adamantly against labeling the products, although they like to say it’s because we, the mere mortal customers, just aren’t smart enough or educated enough to comprehend in our fuzzy little brains that GMOs are “safe”.  So, they opt not to disclose the inclusion of genetically modified ingredients.

If you shop at the grocery store, then I have to be honest – it’s nearly impossible to avoid GMOs. If every item you purchase is organic, then you can probably get through the checkout line unscathed. But these days, who can afford to push a cart full of organic grocery store food up to the register? I know that I certainly can’t.  Prices are sometimes triple that of a conventionally grown item. If you truly want to avoid GMOs – and by avoid I mean banish them from your dinner table and cupboards for good – you need to stop buying food with ingredients. You need to rethink where your food comes from.

Food shouldn’t contain ingredients. Food should BE ingredients.  What you purchase when doing your weekly food shopping should be the basis for delicious meals.  When you no longer eat things from packages that have long lists of ingredients in them, you will begin to free yourself from the ridiculous Monopoly game that you have been playing with Big Food.

Here are some examples:

Instead of buying a package of pasta and a jar of Alfredo sauce, make zucchini noodles and a homemade Alfredo primavera.

Instead of buying a box of flavored, sugar-y cereal for breakfast, have oatmeal (cooked from scratch – not the little packets) and top it with fruit and nuts.

Instead of a sandwich made from a loaf of processed bread and a deli meat, have a salad made from fresh greens and vegetables, and topped with a slice of chicken that you cooked yourself.

Instead of opening a can of tomato soup, puree some tomatoes and make your own soup. Top it with freshly chopped basil.

Instead of a breakfast sandwich with rubbery eggs on a processed English muffin, make a decadent omelet with farm fresh cheese and vegetables.

None of these meals takes a diploma from Le Cordon Bleu to make. None of these meals started their journey to your table at a factory farm and then on to a facility to be processed into a box on the grocery store shelf, either. They came straight from the garden or farm. Grab some farm-to-table cookbooks or vintage cookbooks, and you’ll find loads of recipes that are simple, fast, and filling.  (My favorites are The Nourished Kitchen and The Fanny Farmer Cookbook  from 1896.)  For more inspiration, think about what you like to eat, and then about how your grandmother would have made it.

It’s time to change your definition of food shopping.

It’s entirely possible for many of us to completely break up with the grocery store. I grow veggies in my backyard and I purchase what I can’t grow from farmers, farmer’s marketsCSAs, and the local co-op.  Specific staples like organic sugar and baking items come from online vendors. (I realize that these are the same items I could be purchasing at the grocery store, but I have made the personal choice to no longer do business with that industry. I try to buy direct from farms and small producers as much as possible.)

Don’t limit yourself to produce, either. Be sure to look for meat and dairy products from local vendors as well!  The organic free-range chicken that you get from your local farmer is well worth the additional price you’ll pay.  If you have a freezer, you can buy many types of meat in bulk (quarter of a cow, anyone?) I’m able to serve free range chicken, rabbit, and grass-fed beef to my family, even on a tight budget, by shopping direct from the farmers. There are few occupations where people work so hard for such a small amount of profit. Farming is a noble profession that doesn’t get the respect it deserves, and I like nothing better than giving my hard-earned dollars to people who give me true nourishment.

I can hear some of you saying, “That’s fine in the summer, but what am I supposed to eat in the winter, when there’s nothing local that is being harvested? I’ll have to go back to the grocery store.”

Not necessarily. It’s possible to skip the grocery stores (and the GMOs) even in the winter if you are prepared to do some food preservation when produce is at its peak. If you aren’t familiar with the lost arts, check out some websites, go to a class at your county extension office, or read a book. Canningdehydratingroot cellaring, and freezing can make your summer bounty last all through the year. I like to take extra effort when canning fruits and vegetables to make them special, so that we are excited to pop open a jar in the winter.  I add vanilla and spices to pears. I toss a little bit of garlic into the jar with green beans. Carrots have a dash of cinnamon and a dollop of honey. Jams are bursting with intense fruity flavor. Relishes, chutneys, and sauces await their invitations to the table, dressing up a wintery dish with a dash of summer. Jars of chewy dehydrated fruits are ready to go into lunchboxes, and dehydrated veggies add a burst of out-of-season nutrition to soups and sauces.

It’s amazing how far you can make a bushel of peaches extend if you use the “whole buffalo” – a family theory of food economics named by my youngest daughter that means we use every edible part of the item to help stretch our budget. We recently took 100 pounds of peaches (purchased for $1 a pound from an orchard down the road) and made 3 kinds of jam, 3 kinds of canned peaches, peach peel candy, peach liqueur, and peach iced tea. Only then, after getting every last drop of flavor and goodness out of those peaches, pit and all, did we cast the remnants onto the compost pile.

If you think you don’t have time to eschew the grocery store, with its convenient boxes and freezer aisle, reconsider. Fruits and vegetables are the original “fast food”.  Many of them can be consumed right after you pick them from the plant.

Challenge yourself to one week without groceries – you may find that the food is so much more delicious and satisfying that you don’t want to go back to the store!

Here are the top 10 things to remember when shopping for non-GMO foods.

Don’t buy into the malarkey that it’s impossible to avoid GMOs these days. It’s entirely possible when you stop playing by the rules laid out by Big Food!

Keep these things in mind when purchasing food:

  1. Stop looking for labels. Assume that if it isn’t labeled GMO-free, that it contains GMOs.

  2. Look for products that are USDA Certified Organic or Non-GMO Project Verified.

  3. Avoid all corn, soy, and canola that is not specifically labeled as non-GMO.

  4. Familiarize yourself with the abundant aliases for corn and soy.

  5. Buy ingredients, instead of food with ingredients.

  6. Cook from scratch.

  7. Stop shopping at the grocery store.

  8. Get to know your farmers personally.

  9. Preserve food while it’s in season.

  10. Don’t be wasteful. Use every single edible part to make your food dollars go further.

Do you have other ways of avoiding GMOs?  Please share them in the comments section.

Resources

GMO OMG

GMO Free Diet: How to stay healthy by identifying and avoiding dangerous foods

Genetic Roulette: The Gamble of Our Lives

GMO Food Poison Handbook: ‘Genetically-Modified’ Agriculture and Animals

Eat Local Grown

The Environmentally Friendly Drone That Could ‘Disappear’ on the Battlefield

Defense One
by Shirley Li

A researcher harvests a pure bacterial cellulose sheet.

Drones are, largely, military tools—hardened, efficient machines of war. They’re sturdy, not fuzzy. Strong, not brittle. And they should definitely not start breaking down upon impact.

But breaking down is exactly what the bio-drone is supposed to do. Created—or rather, grown—by a team of 15 students from Stanford University, Brown University, and Spelman College for the 2014 iGEM competition, the biodegradable drone is made mostly of fibrous mycelium, a root-like material found in fungi. The lightweight and sustainable substance is then coated with a sheet of sticky bacteria-grown cellulose, while the circuits inside the drone are printed using silver nanoparticle ink. 

These biodegradable parts together help the drone naturally decompose—a feature that struck me (and others) as useful for the military: If a drone doing surveillance or spying crashes, for example, it could decompose before an enemy could find it. But for all the military applications people sprang to, it turns out that this drone wasn’t designed with the military in mind. And making it work as a secretive, trace-free drone would be difficult.

For the biodegradable nature of the bio-drone to be useful to the military, the vehicle would need to decompose fairly quickly and leave little behind. According to Joseph Shih, a Stanford bioengineering lecturer and an advisor to the team, the current prototype would decompose slowly over a few months, though he says the team is working on developing an “active biodegradation system” that would make it do so in about four days.

The chassis (Stanford-Brown-Spelman iGEM 2014)

But focusing on the speed of decomposing is beside the point, Lynn Rothschild, the lead scientist in synthetic biology at NASA’s Ames Research Center and another team advisor, tells me, because that’s not what they designed it for. “It had nothing to do with military implications,” she says. “Once you say the word ‘drone,’ people do think of sinister connotations. But this is not why we’re doing this.”

Instead, the drones are meant to enter sensitive ecological areas, like coral reefs, to monitor and send back data without disrupting the ecosystem. The biodegradation, therefore, is for protecting the environment, not the drone—which means the team focused less on speeding up the decomposition, and more on building the drone out of the right materials.

Still, Rothschild says the team knew that creating a drone of any kind would raise red flags. In fact, she tells me one of her students approached her early on during the project to talk about the moral implications of building a device that could be used as a weapon.

That student, Jovita Byemerwa, says she had difficulty seeing drones having positive uses at first. “The topic of drones particularly concerned me,” she wrote in email, “because I viewed their main uses as being oppressive and inhumane to defenseless people and societies.”

Byemerwa’s concerns actually sparked another research project that the team worked on alongside the actual drone: studying the word drone, and its connotations. To do so, they conducted a survey of 117 people, asking respondents what they associated with the word “drone.”


Of the 115 people who answered the question, nearly 70 percent said they thought of military uses when thinking of drones. (Stanford-Brown-Spelman iGEM 2014)


Most, like Byemerwa, thought of the military. The team then followed up by gauging respondents’s views on civilian drones instead, asking them whether they thought such drones would help society:

Though most answered “yes,” more than 30 percent of the respondents said drones would “create chaos”—which is why, Byemerwa says, the team put their focus on creating a biological drone for the environment. “Science can be dangerous,” she tells me, “but when used for positive applications in society, it has a potential of making the world a better place.”

The stigma surrounding drones is also why, Rothschild says, further research into the public perception of drones is necessary. If people have a better grasp of how drones are used, the capabilities of scientific drones can then be applied harmlessly to military drones. For example, the team could eventually develop bio-drones attached with bags of enzymes that would release after a crash, helping them decompose within hours. Without the stigma, a drone like that would protect the ecosystem and assist the military without calling to mind that uneasy, “sinister” connotation associated with the technology. But until then, the biodegradable drone is a logical solution to minimizing the environmental impact of the vehicles—even if it remains easily associated with military uses.

Defense One

Justice Department Defends US Marshals’ Airborne Cell Tower Spoofers

InfoWars
by TIM CUSHING

Refuses to acknowledge program exists

celltower
Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

The Justice Department has been summoned to say a few words in defense of the US Marshals’ Cessna-mounted cell tower spoofers. And while it tried to leave a lot unsaid, it actually said quite a bit.

The Justice Department, without formally acknowledging the existence of the program, defended the legality of the operation by the U.S. Marshals Service, saying the agency doesn’t maintain a database of everyday Americans’ cellphones.

Because America’s criminal element is forever only moments away from permanently escaping the grasp of law enforcement, the DOJ has refused to confirm or deny the existence of technology everyone already knows exists — IMSI catchers and single-engine aircraft. The DOJ’s caginess is commendable. I’m sorry, I mean ridiculous. Here’s the same official further protecting and defending The Program That Dare Not Confirm Its Existence, using statements that indicate the program exposed by the Wall Street Journal not only exists, but functions pretty much as described.

A Justice Department official on Friday refused to confirm or deny the existence of such a program, because doing so would allow criminals to better evade law enforcement. But the official said it would be “utterly false’’ to conflate the law-enforcement program with the collection of bulk telephone records by the National Security Agency, a controversial program already being challenged in the courts and by some members of Congress.

No one’s conflating the feds’ airborne ‘Stingray’ with the NSA’s ongoing bulk phone records collections. All people have done is note that surveillance technology of this sort has the ability to collect (and store) millions of unrelated phone records in a very short period of time.

Furthermore, the unnamed official would like us to remember that this program [WHICH MAY NOT EXIST I DON’T EVEN KNOW] is completely legal [PROBABLY TWICE AS LEGAL AS THE NSA’S PHONE THING IF THIS IS HAPPENING WHICH IT MAY NOT BE].

The official didn’t address the issue of how much data, if any, is held on the dirtboxes by law-enforcement officials but said the agency doesn’t maintain any databases of general public cellphone information and said any activity is legal and “subject to court approval.’’

Other officials — also unnamed — have stepped up (sort of… in a spineless, anonymous way) to let critics know that the program that has never been officially acknowledged is pretty good at catching bad guys.

The program’s defenders say it has been an effective way of catching fugitives, including drug suspects and suspected killers…

Like the following notorious criminals:

…but they declined to provide specific examples in which it was used.

Probably because it may or may not exist, etc.

Officials familiar with the program noted that it was “minimally intrusive,” while simultaneously having an effective range that covers “most of the US population.” It may not be the NSA’s bulk records program, but it’s not exactly in any danger of being championed by civil liberties advocates.

Here are a few government officials who aren’t familiar with the implausibly denied program.

“We were not aware of this activity,’’ said Kim Hart, a spokeswoman for the FCC, which licenses and regulates cell-service providers.

Another IMSI catcher and another FCC denial. It appears that staying ahead of criminals also means withholding information (or directly lying to) regulatory agencies — which is probably not that big of a deal when you’ve spent years lying to judges.

And you can add legislators to the long list of those whose first exposure to the US Marshals’ “dirtboxes” came via the Wall Street Journal. Senators Edward Markey and Al Franken have both offered statements expressing their concerns about law enforcement’s willingness to sacrifice the public’s privacy for investigative efficiency.

The DOJ official who claimed this program is “subject to court approval” is being either blithely disingenuous or wholly dishonest. If this investigative technology had ever been approved by our nation’s courts, we would have heard of it long before now. This dearth of information indicates that the Marshals’ use of airborne IMSI catchers has been withheld the same way the use of its earthbound version has been over the past several years.

Via TechDirt

Secret Justice Dept. Interceptor Flights Scoop Up Cell Data From U.S. Cities

The Daily Sheeple

cessna-justice-dept

Remember when President Obama told Jay Leno (and the world) with a smiling face that “there is no spying on Americans”? Not only was that untrue, but it is now clear that it was blatantly false on so very many levels.

The cell phone interceptor scandal has now become scales worse, with revelations that the Justice Dept. has been scooping Americans’ data in major cities across the nation with secret flights by the tens of thousands, continuously. And that’s without them admitting how far this has gone. Yikes.

As if the state of the surveillance society wasn’t bad enough, this has come to light, via Fox News:

The Justice Department is scooping up data from thousands of cellphones through fake communications towers deployed on airplanes, a high-tech hunt for criminal suspects that is snagging large number of innocent Americans, according to people familiar with the operations.

The U.S. Marshals Service program, which became fully functional around 2007, operates Cessna aircraft from at least five metropolitan-area airports, with a flying range covering most of the U.S. population, according to people familiar with the program.

Planes are equipped with devices—some known as “dirtboxes” to law-enforcement officials because of the initials of the Boeing Co. unit that produces them—which mimic cell towers of large telecommunications firms and trick cellphones into reporting their unique registration information.

The technology in the two-foot-square device enables investigators to scoop data from tens of thousands of cellphones in a single flight, collecting their identifying information and general location, these people said.


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That just follows the series of revelations concerning secretive on-the-ground interceptors – known as Sting Ray – that also mimic cell phone towers and force devices to share data with police departments, the FBI and/or various other unknown entities (perhaps foreign governments, the NSA or private firms?).

According to the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC):

A StingRay is a device that can triangulate the source of a cellular signal by acting “like a fake cell phone tower” and measuring the signal strength of an identified device from several locations. With StingRays and other similar “cell site simulator” technologies, Government investigators and private individuals can locate, interfere with, and even intercept communications from cell phones and other wireless devices. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”) has used such cell site simulator technology to track and locate phones and users since at least 1995.

As Melissa Melton previously wrote:

According to the Associated Press, the Obama Administration has been actively advising police departments to refuse disclosure about certain cell phone surveillance technologies, including the widely used “StingRay” device, even in routine state records requests.

Instead, police are bypassing company assistance and collecting unique information on suspects, persons of interests, and – as the AP reports – they can even “sweep up basic cellphone data from entire neighborhoods,” all without any court orders or oversight.

The Edward Snowden leaks proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that the NSA has zero regard for the privacy of Americans.

Now, it is also crystal clear that the Justice Department and FBI (and perhaps likely most assuredly other law enforcement agencies) have no regard, either. Not for Americans. Not for privacy. Not for the law. Not for due process. And certainly not for the constitutional republic they were ostensibly created to serve.

In these troubled times, it is at least good to know that former NSA chief Gen. Keith Alexander has found a lucrative gig advising Wall Street on cybersecurity using NSA data and employees who are also simultaneously top NSA officials.

No conflict of interest, no breach of duty to see here. Move along.

Gulp. Sigh.

The Daily Sheeple

First School Installs $100K Shooting Detection System: “Alerts of Gunfire Within 1 Second, Near Zero False Alerts”

SHTFplan
by Mac Slavo

Introducing: the first school installation of a Shooting Detection System, brought to you by DARPA (the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) and its affiliated contractors.

This $100,000 detection system alerts authorities automatically to gunfire with the aim of cutting response time, but it can’t stop bullets or save lives – at least not in any direct sense:

Authorities fired tester blanks Tuesday in the Methuen, Mass. school, which authorities did not name for security reasons, to demonstrate the Guardian Active Shooter Detection System, which alerts police of gunfire within one second, according to Reuters. Police officers and Democratic congresswoman Niki Tsongas attended the demonstration, but students were not present, as schools were closed for Veteran’s Day.

The technology, which boasts “near zero false alerts,” was developed by Massachusetts-based Shooter Detection Systems, in partnership with Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), a U.S. government’s military technology development arm. The company also worked with a major defense contractor that has deployed thousands of similar gunshot detection systems to war zones. Source

Moreover:

Shooter Detection Systems’ CEO Christian Connors said the system was the first of its kind in the country, and that the company was talking to the federal government about its wider use. The system costs $50,000 to $100,000 for a school of Methuen’s size, Connors said.

The system consists of an outdoor acoustic system and 50 to 60 smoke-detector-size sensors installed in hallways and classrooms, he said. It also uses infrared cameras to detect muzzle flashes, he said.

First in the nation, the Methuen, Massachusetts school that tested the DARPA detection system is essentially demonstrating it for other schools across the country to buy it, too. But the biggest factor is not a rise in school shootings, but the fear surrounding the high profile cases.

There were about 45 school-associated violent deaths (not just by guns) at elementary and secondary schools each year between the 1992 and 2010 school years, according to the report. In other words, Fox said, the number of gun deaths documented by Everytown over the past year and a half are not out of the ordinary. [Emphasis added. Source.]

Fear (not truth) is a big, big seller.

And fear’s best answer now goes for $100k. The media has sold the idea that schools are more dangerous and shootings more common, but it just isn’t true. Techdirt makes the case clear:

Congratulations, America. A defense contractor tried to sell you on the idea that our schools are war zones and you bit like a musky on a minnow. The manufacturer’s website, along with most of the accompanying news articles, are filled with statistics all about how school and mass shootings are on the rise.

Obviously this serves as evidence that such shooter detection systems are needed. That way, the $100k per school systems can alert authorities when these increasingly common shootings occur. The most common figure you’ll hear from these contractors and in the news is the same one authorities used in buying this detection system: there have been 88 school shootings in America since the Sandy Hook tragedy in 2012.

The claim comes from Everytown.org, an organization dedicated to gun control and safety. And if that statistic sounds shocking to you, there’s a very good reason for that: it’s complete bullshit.

Ultimately, the system does have the power to, well, alert authorities, but so does the ordinary telephone, the cell phone, text device and etc.

While it’s definitely true that every second counts for anyone under attack, reporting time from bystanders in school shootings has not been the major debilitating factor; by the numbers, police and SWAT response time has been. The simple truth is that the authorities CAN’T be relied upon to save you.

Delayed response time accounts for a big part of the problem, even with the best intentions. Here are just two examples of why response, not reporting, has caused more loss of life:

• In the 1999 Columbine Massacre shooting, SWAT teams arrived on scene a reported 1 hour and 15 minutes after the first report, with the mass media arriving before SWAT did. It took another 4 hours before police officially found the two dead suspects, who reportedly took their own lives.

• In the 2007 Virginia Tech shooting, both the university and police authorities were heavily criticized, even through official channels. Lawsuits were filed over the delayed response in both informing students/faculty of the emergency situation and in stopping the shooter. The morning began with the murder of two people in a dormitory at 7:15 am, police response by 7:24 am; university officials weren’t alerted until 7:57 am, and no action was taken by university officials until the conclusion of an 8:25 am meeting discussing how to alert students. Ultimately, an email – criticized as “vague” – was sent to students and faculty at 9:26 am, about 15 minutes before the killer began his mass murder spree in a university hall. Police reportedly responded to this second shooting within 3 minutes, but took another 5 to enter the building, which was obstructed by a chained door, allowing the killer to take more victims.

Also at issue is the fact that the widely-used statistics on school shootings – which claim that 74 school shootings have occurred since Sandy Hook in December 2012 – are bogus and deceptive.

Issued by Everytown for Gun Safety, the gun control group founded by billionaire former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the statistic starts with the 10 or so school shootings (the intentional mass murder Columbine/Sandy Hook kind) that have occurred in the timeframe which fit the popular notion, where a shooter enters a school and takes out targets.

Then, that statistic deceptively piles on other crimes and incidents which fit – at best – only by technicality:

• 39 incidents of common crime, including robberies, that occurred on/near schools (one example was an early-morning robbery that occurred on a street that cuts through a university’s property)
• 16 cases that happened outside of school hours with individuals completely unaffiliated with the schools (i.e. not teachers, students, facility, parents or employees)
• 6 suicides (one, for example, took place after hours in a vehicle in a school parking lot)
• 3 accidental discharges

While all of these are tragedies, and all of these crimes are undesirable in society, it is intellectually dishonest to classify them as school shootings, yet that is deliberately what has been done by the gun control crowd to stoke fear and anger over the issue of firearms. Techdirt argues:

Look, that’s 10 too many, of course, and every instance of gun-related death at a school is a tragedy in its own right, but that stupid, wrong, idiotic 74 shootings statistic (before it was 88 school shootings) was pitched to concerned parents, school officials, and politicians by both a company that has insane amounts of money to gain and a complicit, sensationalistic and lazy mass media and nobody is bothering to tell people that these are lies. If the company is pitching an increase in school shootings as a primary reason for spending six figures per school on their product, what happens when I show you that school shootings are not on the rise?

gun-free-zone

At the end of the day, many people are well aware of the absurdity in schools. Gun free zones have disarmed the very figures within schools (be it a principal, teacher, coach, school officer or even janitor) who could be responsibly packing heat and in position to respond on scene to these worst case scenarios.

But given the insanity of gun free zones, there are a few things to know and be prepared for should a shooting or other disaster strike:

Self defense training: is essential for anyone interested in their own safety and freedom. Weapons handling and concealed carry is only one component of it. Martial arts training would be a potentially game changing factor, but situational training experience in dealing with a survival crisis of any kind would also be helpful.

Situational awareness & mental preparedness: As Daisy Luther pointed out, in a crisis situation, denial can be deadly.” The psychological reaction to a potentially deadly situation cycles through phases of denial, delay, diagnosis, acceptance, consideration and (finally) action.

Your job is cut to the chase as quickly as possible, size up the situation and hopefully apply previous training when taking swift action. Creative and spontaneous answers are perfectly fine; the elements surprise and distraction can aid basic fight or flight response.

• Alternative Self Defense Tools: If guns are forbidden by law, it may not be wise or practical to break that law. But you may still be able to carry (depending on the location and its applicable regulations) other forms of self defense, including several identified by TheArmsGuide.com:

Pepper Spray, stun guns, or tasers
Knives
Tactical Handcuffs(if an assailant can be confined or detained by surprise, the killing will stop)
Tactical Flashlights
Tactical Pen (Easily Concealed)
Self-Defense Keychain

Most of these require some serious training to be effective, and many of these may still fall short of the threat of a trained gunman. However, if flight is not an option, you may have little alternative but to try. Use your best judgement in any situation.

gun-free-zone

SHTFplan

Can Vaccines Cause Autism, Cancer, Other Deadly Diseases? What Does That Mean About Ebola Vaccine?

Washington’s Blog
by Carl Herman

I’ve reviewed two of Ken’s books:

  • Cancer Vortex provides similar powerful history of the medical oligarchs who block medically and legally proven cancer cures in order to protect industry profits in the annual billions (here, here, here, here).

Ken’s following article on vaccines is reprinted with his permission. I’ve also reprinted Medical industry profits pre-empt healthcare.

If the US .01% will engage in actions that war and poverty-murder millions every year, harm billions every year, and bankster-loot trillions every year, year-after-year, the following information is important to thoughtfully consider. Ken’s article:

“I have no hesitation in stating that in my judgment the most frequent disposing condition for cancerous development is infused into the blood by vaccination and re-vaccination.” – Dennis Turnbull, MD, cancer researcher.

“Vaccines have to be considered the bargain basement technology for the 20th Century.” – Dr Maurice Hilleman, Leading Vaccine Developer  

“The only safe vaccine is a vaccine that is never used.” – James R. Shannon of the National Institutes of Health

The US healthcare industry is run by a Medical Cartel encompassing Federal regulators and giant Pharmaceutical companies posting sales in excess of half a trillion dollars. Vaccines comprise a major portion of this cash flow as does Cancer Therapy. Both are vital to the gross profitability and expansion of the Cartel regardless of how many people are actually cured.

Recent warnings about the resurgence of Ebola in West Africa suggest it may become a worldwide pandemic, possibly leading to mandatory vaccinations. Already, new vaccines are being rushed into production to deal with this new strain. Although Ebola has been studied since its origin in the Congo in 1976, it appears this new strain is more virulent and deadly. Already, quarantines are planned in the US despite only one death so far. And the media is amping up the fear factor with accounts of massive orders for Bio-hazard suits and body bags.

Healthy skepticism is required here: Why did the CDC patent this virus? Could Ebola be a Bio-weapon engineered by the NIH and CDC (see video on  Weaponized Ebola)? If an Ebola epidemic strikes the US, what are the personal risks in taking an Ebola vaccine? Will FEMA camps be used to quarantine large numbers of Ebola victims? Will an Ebola epidemic be a pretext for martial law?

History shows a number of diseases treated with vaccines:

Cowpox vaccine was developed and used in England in the 19th century against the scourge of Smallpox. But as the use of the vaccine spread, smallpox epidemics worsened with over 44,000 dying in 1872. Eventually, after many years of compulsory vaccination, the vaccine was banned in England in 1948.

After Japan initiated compulsory smallpox vaccination in 1892, there were over 165,000 cases of smallpox resulting in almost 30,000 deaths.

The Spanish Flu epidemic, ravaging the US and Europe towards the end of World War I was attributed to compulsory vaccination of US servicemen. As the flu spread, an estimated 20 million people died. Whereas, most of those who survived, had refused to take the vaccine.

The Polio Virus has been around for centuries. Yet the virus seldom caused paralysis until the late 1800’s. In fact, 95 percent of polio cases occur without symptoms, just a mild fever. But in less than one percent of the victims, the virus penetrates the blood-brain barrier to cause paralysis and death. As the fear of a polio epidemic in the US spread in the 1950’s, polio vaccines were rushed to market and vaccination became compulsory.

Dr Maurice Hilleman, one of the most renowned vaccine developers in the world with over three dozen vaccines to his credit headed Merck’s vaccine program. On examining the injectable Salk polio vaccine and the oral Sabine vaccine, he isolated the SV40 Simian Live Virus from both and discovered that most polio vaccines given to the public were contaminated with cancer causing viruses.

As expected, the government kept these revelations secret, warning neither doctors nor the public while the vaccines continued to be administered for decades. SV40 was so virulent that it became a popular tool for cancer researchers to rapidly transform healthy animal cells into tumor cells. In fact, from 1955 to 1963 up to 98 million children and adults in the United States were exposed to SV40 Simian Live virus, a known carcinogen, due to contaminated polio vaccines.

In the March 1977 issue of Science, Jonas and Darrell Salk made the startling revelation that, “Live virus vaccines against influenza or poliomyelitis may in each instance produce the disease it is intended to prevent….” This should make every thinking person pause and consider whether vaccines do more harm than good.

On January 26, 1988, the Washington Post featured a story about polio from a national conference that concluded that all new cases of polio have come from the vaccine itself. None of the original ‘wild type’ polio virus has caused a single case of polio in the United States since 1979.  The program should have been discontinued long before but it wasn’t, due to collusion between Big Pharma and government regulators, known as the Medical Cartel as exposed  in the book ‘Cancer Vortex’.

Another stark example of promoting a new vaccine, occurred during the hypothetical Swine Flu epidemic during Gerald Ford’s presidency. Even though there was not a single case of this type of flu in the country, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) sponsored a national vaccination campaign to prevent the spread of this new potentially dangerous variation of the flu.

Soon after the campaign was underway, many people started feeling the toxic effects of the vaccine. As claims of paralysis multiplied, the total damages against the drug companies amounted to $1.3 billion.  To divert attention from the real cause, the drug producers renamed the new epidemic ‘Guillain Barre Syndrome’.

Bird flu predominately found in Asia is a viral infection from birds which has so far infrequently infected humans. The human strains are designated H5N1 and H7N9 and the greatest risk factor is close contact with sick birds and chickens. The symptoms are typical of the flu, except that as many as 60% of humans infected may die from serious complications.

Children especially at risk: Vaccines harm millions of children every year in terms of autism, mental retardation, learning disabilities, suppressed immune function and SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). Especially affected are babies under 12 months, which haven’t had a chance to fully develop an immune system and yet are exposed to a sequence of vaccinations their bodies are not prepared for.

The Physicians’ Desk Reference (PDR) states that vaccinations may contain mercury, aluminum, formaldehyde, SV40 virus, bovine serums, latex, neomycin and other known carcinogens and allergens. Many of these toxins are injected into the bloodstream of babies as young as one day old. In fact, no long term testing for efficacy or safety for any vaccination has ever been done. Essentially, Big Pharma is using our babies as their own guinea pigs.

New Jersey mandates that by 6 months of age a child will receive 45 shots, by 19 months 64 shots and by 6 years a total of 74 shots. Anyone who thinks that the accumulation of toxic elements within these vaccines will not do serious damage to the nascent immune systems of these babies and young children is criminally negligent.

It is now recognized that vaccines cause autism and other forms of neurological damage in 1 out of 150 children and occasionally death. Claims are settled thru an Injury Compensation Program and not in Federal courts to prevent shocking the nation.

Other unnecessary vaccines such as HPV Gardasil and Hepatitus B are now proposed to be given to children on a routine basis, yet no government studies have been done to prove they are safe or even necessary.

Various toxic elements within vaccines such as the SV40 virus, formaldehyde (formalin), mercury (thimerosal) and aluminum can become time bombs remaining dormant in the body for years until they suddenly activate, causing life threatening diseases.

In the US, vaccines are promoted as the solution for all infectious diseases by such Federal agencies as the CDC, the US Public Health Service and the FDA. Under the strong influence of the Medical Cartel, they act together to promote compulsory vaccination. Americans need to be aware of the ‘revolving door’ among federal agents rotating from government regulatory positions to Big Pharma management and vice versa. Hopefully, as public awareness grows, citizens will demand an end to this collusion on compulsory vaccination as they realize health is an individual responsibility, not a government mandate.

The fact that vaccines have been proven to do more harm than good, explains why Big Pharma and their regulatory lackeys continue to promote them. After all, the Medical Cartel is determined to maintain its level of grotesque profitability for the foreseeable future as the level of degenerative disease in America grows. And they will continue with orthodox cancer therapy (slash, burn, poison) to ensure greater profitability for another century; that is, until people realize they have better options for non-toxic natural cures.

Putting all this into perspective, it becomes evident that one of the primary causes for the rapid rise in cancer affecting our generation is due to excessive and unnecessary vaccinations given in our youth. And now with the dramatic increase in risky vaccines given to babies and young children, future generations will likely endure even greater suffering from cancer and other degenerative diseases.

**

“Cancer Vortex” by Kenneth Anton is currently available as a Kindle eBook and Paperback at Amazon.com. The Paperback is also available thru Ingram worldwide distribution.

Please send comments or questions to support@cancervortex.com

Washington’s Blog

Police Departments Petition Feds for Advanced Cell Phone Interceptors

InfoWars
by MIKAEL THALEN

Law enforcement groups throughout Bay Area seek “Hailstorm” device to intercept latest cell phones

Multiple police departments across California’s Bay Area are looking to upgrade their Stingray cell phone interceptors to an even more advanced model.

IMSI catchers, portable devices commonly referred to as Stingrays, trick 2G cell phones into sharing their information by mimicking a cell tower. Limited by their ability to only intercept older model phones, law enforcement groups are petitioning the federal government for half a million dollars in grant money in order to purchase the “Hailstorm,” a device capable of siphoning data from phones utilizing the 4G LTE network.

According to heavily redacted documents obtained by San Francisco’s CBS affiliate, several police departments have not only worked to hide their use of Stingrays, but have attempted to cloak their desire to upgrade their systems as well.

Officers in the San Jose Police Department were found to be labeling their IMSI catcher as “surveillance technology equipment,” while the Alameda County District Attorney’s office and the Fremont Police Department quietly worked to acquire Hailstorms through federal grants.

“The Hailstorm is the latest in the line of mobile phone tracking tools that Harris Corp. is offering authorities,” noted Ars Technica. “However, few details about it have trickled into the public domain.”

Unsurprisingly, Oakland police refused to provide public records regarding their cell phone interceptor altogether, citing an “exemption” given to them by the device’s manufacturer, a common tactic used by departments all across the country.

Replying to questions from CBS, representatives with the Alameda County DA’s office released the following statement:

The electronic surveillance technology we are seeking to acquire is an important tool to use for the safety and protection of the public. This technology can be used to prevent or respond to a terrorist attack. It can be used to track and apprehend serious and violent criminals and fugitives from justice. It can help to locate and recover missing persons and kidnapping victims. It may also be used in search and rescue operations to help locate missing or trapped victims of a natural disaster or terrorist attack. The use of this technology would speed the ability of rescue workers to locate injured victims quickly and to speed up the administration of life-saving medical intervention. The technology allows Law Enforcement and Public Safety Officers to use up-to-date technology to promote public safety and law enforcement well into the future. It is important to remember that this technology would not be used without court authorization.

Despite the DA’s claims, countless law enforcement groups using the exact same talking points have been found to be intercepting thousands of innocent cell users’ data for the most trivial of investigations.

Documents acquired through a public records request in Tacoma, Washington this year revealed that the city’s police department used their Stingray device in one instance to hunt down a missing city laptop. Shortly before the documents went public, Tacoma police asserted that the device was only used for criminal cases regarding homicide, rape, robbery, kidnapping and narcotics trafficking.

Famed NSA whistleblower Kirk Wiebe, who spoke exclusively with Infowars, decried the dangerous and unwarranted use of cell phone interceptors.

“These devices feed the mentality of the Police State, not unlike that experienced under the Nazis (Germany) and Stasi (East Germany),” Wiebe said. “Law enforcement is using this information to investigate and prosecute people without warrants – that is unconstitutional.  At the national level, the same thing is happening.”

Although federal agencies have gone as far as instructing law enforcement groups to deceive judges in order to keep these devices under wraps, more and more information continues to surface with each passing day.

Just this week it was learned that a secret Department of Justice program used planes outfitted with cell phone interceptors to harvest Americans’ cell data from the sky.

Earlier this month multiple departments in Idaho refused to comment after a local civil liberties advocate detected the characteristics of an active IMSI catcher in one of the state’s largest cities.

Mobile security experts traveling through Washington D.C. last month detected signs of at least 17 IMSI catchers as well.

InfoWars

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