New York’s new, multi-agency surveillance program will collect data on public school students, starting from preschool to their entry into the workforce and potentially throughout their entire lives. Developed by the New York State Education Department, funded by the federal government and promoted by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the P-20 data collection program allows government entities to share and access records for every student in the state with the overall goal of monitoring individuals from childhood to death. “By working in collaboration with other state agencies, the New York State Education Dept. will be able to establish a P-20 data system without duplication of effort and cost,” a U.S. Dept. of Education web site states.
“It will allow NYSED and other agencies to link data without the need for agencies to unnecessarily add new regulations or seek legal policies to collect data out of their purview.” “In the end, it will provide a more robust state data system.” New York began development of the P-20 program as early as 2008 and has received over $40 million in federal and state grants since then, according to USA Today. The program was named P-20 to indicate the tracking of students from pre-kindergarten to around age 20 when they enter the workforce. “Data is painting a profile of a student that is richer and more valuable than ever before,” Jim Shelton, a U.S. Education Department official who previously worked for the Gates Foundation, said recently. More
Thieves broke into a small church in the mountains east of Rome over the weekend and stole a reliquary with the blood of the late Pope John Paul II. A custodian, Franca Corrieri, said she had discovered a broken window early on Sunday morning and had called the police. When they entered the small stone church they found the gold reliquary and a crucifix missing. John Paul, who died in 2005, loved the mountains in the Abruzzo region of Italy. He would sometimes slip away from the Vatican secretly to hike or ski there and pray in the church. Polish-born John Paul, who reigned for 27 years, is due to be made a saint of the Roman Catholic church in May, meaning the relic will become more noteworthy and valuable.
In 2011, John Paul’s former private secretary, Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, gave the local Abruzzo community some of the late pontiff’s blood as a token of the love he had felt for the mountainous area. It was put in a gold and glass circular case and kept in a niche of the small mountain church of San Pietro della Ienca, near the city of L’Aquila. Corrieri said on Monday the incident felt more like a kidnapping than a theft. “In a sense, a person has been stolen,” she said. She said she could not say if the intention of the thieves may have been to seek a ransom for the blood. Apart from the reliquary and a crucifix, nothing else was stolen from the isolated church, even though Corrieri said the thieves would probably have had time to take other objects during the night-time theft. Some of John Paul’s blood was saved after an assassination attempt that nearly killed him in St Peter’s Square on 13 May 1981. The Guardian
The National Security Agency and its UK counterpart GCHQ have been developing capabilities to take advantage of “leaky” smartphone apps, such as the wildly popular Angry Birds game, that transmit users’ private information across the internet, according to top secret documents. The data pouring onto communication networks from the new generation of iPhone and Android apps ranges from phone model and screen size to personal details such as age, gender and location. Some apps, the documents state, can share users’ most sensitive information such as sexual orientation – and one app recorded in the material even sends specific sexual preferences such as whether or not the user may be a swinger. Many smartphone owners will be unaware of the full extent this information is being shared across the internet, and even the most sophisticated would be unlikely to realise that all of it is available for the spy agencies to collect. Dozens of classified documents, provided to the Guardian by whistleblower Edward Snowden and reported in partnership with the New York Times and ProPublica, detail the NSA and GCHQ efforts to piggyback on this commercial data collection for their own purposes. Scooping up information the apps are sending about their users allows the agencies to collect large quantities of mobile phone data from their existing mass surveillance tools – such as cable taps, or from international mobile networks – rather than solely from hacking into individual mobile handsets. More
Popular Christian gospel singer Natalie Grant walked out of the Grammys after witnessing a series of performances that even the mainstream entertainment media admitted were occult in nature. Grant, who was nominated for two Grammys last night, tweeted her excitement upon arriving at the event but soon made it clear that she left early because what she witnessed conflicted with her Christian beliefs, stating, “We left the Grammy’s early. I’ve many thoughts, most of which are probably better left inside my head. But I’ll say this: I’ve never been more honored to sing about Jesus and for Jesus. And I’ve never been more sure of the path I’ve chosen.” Although she remained coy on the exact circumstances, Grant was probably referring to Katy Perry, who was surrounded by demons as she danced around an upside down broomstick before being encircled by fire during a performance of her song “Dark Horse”. Perry wore clothing bearing an illuminated Knights Templar cross. Even E! Online tweeted that Perry’s performance resembled “actual witchcraft”. Christian music website BreatheCast complained that Perry’s performance was “filled with satanic imagery and witchcraft.”
Viewers also expressed their shock at the occult overtones of the show. However, Grant could also have been offended by the mass gay wedding ceremony which took place during a performance by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis. Not to be outdone, Beyonce and Jay-Z attempted to up the ante by performing a risqué duet which provoked fury from parents who complained that the spectacle was too explicit for children. Jay-Z’s acceptance speech, during which he said, “I would like to thank God… a little,” also prompted claims that the rapper was invoking the Illuminati. The International Business Times reacted by claiming that Perry, Beyonce and Jay-Z’s antics were merely an example of the Grammys, “trolling Illuminati conspiracy theorists.” Watch analysis of how the Grammys were yet another ceremony to the entertainment industry’s occult leanings below via Mark Dice. Katy Perry’s best efforts at summoning Beelzebub appear at the end.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani is willing to play a mediator’s role in resolving difficult issues between the two Koreas, a South Korean official now visiting Iran said Monday. The Iranian leader made the remarks during his meeting with South Korean Assembly Speaker Kang Chang-hee in Tehran on Monday, according to Kang’s spokesman Bae Sung-rye. Kang is the first South Korean Assembly speaker to visit Iran since the two countries established diplomatic ties in 1962. The spokesman said Rouhani told Kang at his office in Tehran that his government can play a mediator’s role in order to solve difficult problems between South and North Korea. Rouhani also said that Iran will fulfill its promises made with Western countries to resolve its nuclear problems, while calling on South Korean firms to make greater inroads into Iran, according to Bae. Yonhap News
This time, the Federal Reserve has created a truly global problem. A big chunk of the trillions of dollars that it pumped into the financial system over the past several years has flowed into emerging markets. But now that the Fed has decided to begin “the taper”, investors see it as a sign to pull the “hot money” out of emerging markets as rapidly as possible. This is causing currencies to collapse and interest rates to soar all over the planet. Argentina, Turkey, South Africa, Ukraine, Chile, Indonesia, Venezuela, India, Brazil, Taiwan and Malaysia are just some of the emerging markets that have been hit hard so far. In fact, last week emerging market currencies experienced the biggest decline that we have seen since the financial crisis of 2008. And all of this chaos in emerging markets is seriously spooking Wall Street as well. The Dow has fallen nearly 500 points over the last two trading sessions alone. If the Federal Reserve opts to taper even more in the coming days, this currency crisis could rapidly turn into a complete and total currency collapse. More
Websites, electronic filing and public record access systems for much of the federal judiciary were attacked Friday afternoon, leaving lawyers hard-pressed to meet deadlines and officials scrambling to restore service. The so-called denial of service attacks affected bankruptcy, district and appeals courts all across the U.S. for at least a few hours. The Supreme Court’s site remained up. But with most lawyers, judges and clerks filing and reviewing records electronically, the outages essentially shut down much of the federal judiciary. Public users of the courts’ electronic system for reviewing records were greeted with an error message, “Server not found.” Charles Hall, a spokesman for the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, said in a phone interview that the attack began at 3:22 p.m. By about 7 p.m., the electronic systems for reviewing court records appeared to working again. And several court websites that were down could be accessed. Mr. Hall said the source of the attack remains under investigation. And he said court officials had not comment on any groups claiming responsibility on social media. The Washington Times
American intelligence and security agencies are not currently capable of detecting when foreign nations are building nuclear weapons or ramping up their existing programs, according to a newly released Pentagon report that faults a range of U.S. agencies. “The nation is not yet organized or fully equipped” to detect clandestine nuclear activities across the globe, and in most cases “current solutions are either inadequate, or more often, do not exist,” according to the report, which was compiled over three years by the Pentagon’s Defense Science Board. More nations than ever are pursuing nuclear arms. However, the United States does not have the mechanisms to detect and track these programs, according to the report. Moreover, U.S. intelligence agencies are not doing enough to rectify the issue, according to the report, which called for a full-scale revamp in how agencies approach the issue of nuclear detection. The United States “lacks a cohesive, long term, international engagement plan aimed at building cooperation and transparency,” the report warns. America’s inability to detect rogue nuclear programs could be particularly problematic in the case of Iran, which has built many clandestine and underground nuclear facilities. The U.S. has a history of being caught flat-footed when it comes to detecting foreign nuclear programs. More
By the middle of 2014, the prospect of altering DNA to produce a genetically-modified human could move from science fiction to science reality. At some point between now and July, the UK parliament is likely to vote on whether a new form of in vitro fertilization (IVF)—involving DNA from three parents—becomes legally available to couples. If it passes, the law would be the first to allow pre-birth human-DNA modification, and another door to the future will open. The procedure focuses on replacing mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) as a means of avoiding particular cell mutations. Mitochondria are the power plants of human cells that convert energy from food into what our cells need to function, and they carry their own DNA apart from the nuclear DNA in our chromosomes where most of our genetic information is stored. Only the mother passes on mtDNA to the child, and it occasionally contains mutations that can lead to serious problems.
According to the journal Nature, an estimated 1 in 5,000-10,000 people carry mtDNA with mutations leading to blindness, diabetes, dementia, epilepsy and several other impairments (the equivalent of 1,000 – 4,000 children born each year in the U.S.). Some of the mutations lead to fatal diseases, like Leigh Syndrome, a rare neurological disorder that emerges in infancy and progressively destroys the ability to think and move. By combining normal mitochondrial DNA from a donor with the nucleus from a prospective mother’s egg, the newborn is theoretically free from mutations that would eventually lead to one or more of these disorders. While never tried in humans (human cell research on mtDNA has so far been confined to the lab), researchers have successfully tested the procedure in rhesus monkeys. More
Strange things have been happening amid this winter’s especially cold weather, and this week an Arctic snowy owl was spotted sitting on a green awning in downtown Washington, D.C. The Washington Post reported the birds, which mostly live in the treeless tundra of the Arctic, recently been seen in Revere Beach, Mass., near Jacksonville, Fla., in the Great Lakes region, in Arkansas and in the Dakotas. The paper said some are wondering whether the unusual occurrence in the nation’s capital was some kind of omen. Regardless, a pastor told WND that if people are seeking an omen, or sign, they should just check out the timing of the highly unusual four blood moons over the next two years, including a “super blood moon eclipse.” The last time the same sequence happened was in 1967 and 1968, when Israel recaptured Jerusalem in the Six-Day War. Before that, it was in the 1940s, when Israel was born. It didn’t happen the 1800s, not in the 1700s. Not even in the 1600s. It did take place in the 1400s, in 1493 and 1494, when the Jews were expelled from Spain. “Four total lunar eclipses happening the next two years herald possible war in the Middle East as well as global economic collapse,” Pastor Mark Biltz of El Shaddai Ministries told WND in an email. He that historically, these types of solar eclipses have been signs, foretelling important events such as the destruction of the Temple of Jerusalem.
“Two happened right in a row at the time of destruction of the temple in 70 A.D. and on feast days,” he said. “Around eight months before the Temple was destroyed we find on 10/18/69 there was a partial lunar eclipse on the Feast of Sukkot. A total solar eclipse followed this on Nisan 1-3/30/70, the beginning of the religious year. Two weeks later there was a penumbral lunar eclipse on Passover on 4/14/70. An annular solar eclipse followed this on Rosh Hashanah on 9/23/70. Then another penumbral lunar eclipse on Sukkot on 10/8/70,” he explained. Biltz said that what makes the coming events startling is the fact they will happen on the Feast of Passover and the Feast of Tabernacles in consecutive years. “This has happened only eight times over the last 2,000 years!” Biltz said. “And the last two times these occurred on the Jewish holidays there was a war in the Middle East regarding the nation of Israel. These are patterns and historical facts that cannot be disregarded. The Jewish Talmud records that total lunar eclipses are indicators or omens for the nation of Israel.” More
The Sochi Winter Olympics have opened up a new front of distrust between the United States and Russia, with tensions simmering over security preparations amid fears the games could be targeted by extremist militants. Analysts say the former Cold War rivals are unlikely to risk a full-blown confrontation over security in Sochi, the first Olympics held on Russian soil since the US-boycotted 1980 Moscow Games. Nevertheless, some experts say the failure of the United States and Russia to engage fully over a range of issues could ultimately compromise security at the Olympics. Micah Zenko, an expert on national security at the Council on Foreign Relations think tank, argued that the “safety and security of everyone attending the Winter Olympics is being put at further unnecessary risk because of the reciprocal distrust between Russia and US counterterrorism and intelligence agencies.” The White House has expressed “concern” about an uptick in reported threats by violent extemists relating to the Sochi Games. Security fears have been exacerbated by two suicide bombings in the southern city of Volgograd last month — Russia’s deadliest in three years — that killed 34 people. More
North Korea ruler Kim Jong-un has reportedly ordered that all blood relatives of his executed uncle be put to death, continuing an apparent purge of all he sees as threats to his reign. South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency, citing multiple sources, reported Sunday that “extensive executions” of relatives of Jang Song-thaek had been carried out. ”All relatives of Jang have been put to death, including even children,” one source told Yonhap. Among those reported dead were Jang’s sister Jang Kye-sun, her husband and Pyongyang’s ambassador to Cuba, Jon Yong-jin, and the North Korean ambassador to Malaysia, Jang Yong-chol, a nephew of Jang, as well as his two sons.
In addition, Yonhap reported that the sons, daughters, and grandchildren of Jang’s two brothers were executed as well. Jang Song-theak, an uncle of Kim Jong-un by marriage, held some of the most powerful positions in North Korea before he was arrested and put to death on December 12 of last year on charges of contemplating a military coup to overthrow the young dictator. It was not immediately clear how many people related to Jang have been executed, nor was it immediately clear when the deaths took place. However, Yonhap reported that the ambassadors had been recalled to Pyongyang in early December and it is believed that their executions took place shortly after Jang’s. More
Markets are moving today with stocks tumbling 1% early in the U.S. trading session. Global markets went into risk-off mode overnight following the release of disappointing flash manufacturing Purchasing Managers Index survey data, which suggested that Chinese manufacturing may unexpectedly contract this month. ”We expect more soft data prints ahead, as the impact of slowing credit growth seeps through to the real economy,” said Societe Generale’s China economist Wei Yao. S&P 500 futures took an even sharper turn lower around 8:40 AM ET. Stocks have seen further selling since the 9:30 opening bell and the index is now down 0.9% on the day, trading at 1828. The Dow Jones Industrial Average has broken through to its lowest level of the year today.
Right now, it’s down 1.0%, trading around 16,210. 10-year U.S. Treasury futures and gold, meanwhile, are showing strength — up 0.5% and 2.0%, respectively (gold at $1264 an ounce). The dollar is down sharply against both the euro and the yen, and currency markets around the world are staging big moves. The yield on the 10-year note is now 2.80%, the lowest it’s been in the year to date. Today’s price action has erased two days of moderate losses in the Treasury complex. The charts below are, from left to right across the top, the S&P 500 index, the dollar-yen exchange rate, and the euro-dollar exchange rate. Across the bottom from left to right are gold, 10-year U.S. Treasury futures, and September 2016 eurodollar futures. This morning we’ve had a number of economic data releases, including weekly jobless claims figures. The numbers, out at 8:30 AM ET, were better than expected, but they still gave a lift to gold and Treasuries. More
Asian stock markets tumbled Monday as investors factored in the possibility of slowing growth in China and a further reduction in U.S. central bank stimulus. The global sell-off that is roiling world markets was triggered by preliminary results Thursday of a survey showing that China’s manufacturing would contract in January. Investors are also awaiting a two-day meeting by the U.S. Federal Reserve starting Tuesday, where officials are widely expected to reduce their monthly bond buying by another $10 billion to $65 billion. Turmoil in individual emerging markets such as Argentina, where the peso dropped 16 percent over two days last week, is also spooking investors. Japan’s Nikkei 225 sank 2.6 percent to 14,993.89 as investors sought out havens such as the Japanese yen, causing it to rise against the dollar which is negative for export stocks.