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5000 days at war this century

5,000 days of war: Any time, anywhere, all the time
By Airman Kai White and Airman First Class Ryan Conroy, 1st Special Operations Wing Public Affairs, 24th Special Operations Wing / Published June 26, 2015

Hurlburt Field, Fla --
It’s been 5,000 days of struggle, rugged landscapes, blood and sweat.

It’s been 5,000 days of exhaustion, injuries, and long separations from family, friends and home.

On June 27, the 17th Special Tactics Squadron will mark 5,000 days of unremitting war.

Their 5,000-day epoch began in October 2001, one month after the terror attacks on 9/11, when the 17th STS deployed to Southwest Asia with the U.S. Army Rangers. Since then, the squadron has been continuously deployed for almost 14 years in support of operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom

“I’ve seen an extreme dedication to the mission,” said Chief Master Sgt. Troy Lundquist, 17th STS Senior Enlisted Manager. “Our focus has constantly been downrange and working to accomplish the mission to the best of our ability.”


This forever war has to end. For everyone's sake.

N.C. Church Takes a Defiant Stand—With Solar Panels

In a rare state that does not allow third-party electricity generation, a Greensboro church bucks Duke Energy and state law to embrace clean energy.

By Zahra Hirji, InsideClimate News

A jovial ribbon-cutting ceremony at a small red brick church in Greensboro, the third-largest city in North Carolina, was something of a masquerade. It was really a bold stance for environmental justice.

The solar panels gleaming on the roof of Faith Community Church are meant to generate power—and controversy—because they defy a state law prohibiting anyone besides major utility companies from selling electricity. It's not an outright ban on consumer solar panels, but it's close. And it's backed by the energy giant Duke Energy.

The church in partnership with a local environmental social justice group, the North Carolina Waste Awareness and Reduction Network, NC WARN, wants to change that.

"This giant monopoly...should not be entitled to the energy from the sun, which God has given to all of us," said Rev. Nelson Johnson, senior pastor at the Greensboro church. Johnson, a North Carolina native, is known across the state for decades of work on social and economic justice issues.



Brilliant cartoons perfectly illustrate exactly what sexual consent means in everyday terms


New Horizons Update: Methane Detected; New Images of Pluto and Charon

Yes, there is methane on Pluto, and, no, it doesn’t come from cows. The infrared spectrometer on NASA’s Pluto-bound New Horizons spacecraft has detected frozen methane on Pluto’s surface; Earth-based astronomers first observed the chemical compound on Pluto in 1976.

“We already knew there was methane on Pluto, but these are our first detections,” said Will Grundy, the New Horizons Surface Composition team leader with the Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona. “Soon we will know if there are differences in the presence of methane ice from one part of Pluto to another.”

Methane (chemical formula CH4) is an odorless, colorless gas that is present underground and in the atmosphere on Earth. On Pluto, methane may be primordial, inherited from the solar nebula from which the solar system formed 4.5 billion years ago. Methane was originally detected on Pluto’s surface by a team of ground-based astronomers led by New Horizons team member Dale Cruikshank, of NASA’s Ames Research Center, Mountain View, California.


This time-lapse approach movie was made from images from the Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) camera aboard New Horizons spacecraft taken between May 28 and June 25, 2015. During that time the spacecraft distance to Pluto decreased almost threefold, from about 35 million miles to 14 million miles (56 million kilometers to 22 million kilometers). The images show Pluto and its largest moon, Charon, growing in apparent size as New Horizons closes in. As it rotates, Pluto displays a strongly contrasting surface dominated by a bright northern hemisphere, with a discontinuous band of darker material running along the equator. Charon has a dark polar region, and there are indications of brightness variations at lower latitudes.



Carry on: FISA court authorizes bulk phone records collection for another 6 months

from the 'six-months-same-as-Patriot-Act'-civil-liberties-fire-sale! dept
"The more things change, the more everything is just Smith v. Maryland (1979)."

Or so the FISA Court notes in its latest order authorizing the continued collection of bulk phone records under… well, not Section 215, which expired, but under a "non-hyper-literal evil genie" reading of the contradictory forces temporarily in play thanks to the passage of the USA Freedom Act.

"Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose," well, at least for 180 days. This application presents the question whether the recently-enacted USA FREEDOM Act, in amending Title V of FISA, 2 ended the bulk collection of telephone metadata. The short answer is yes. But in doing so, Congress deliberately carved out a 180-day period following the date of enactment in which such collection was specifically authorized. For this reason, the Court approves the application in this case.

The order notes that there was much more to consider in this renewal application. It nods to the expiration of Section 215 on May 31st and its brief return to its pre-Patriot Act form for roughly 24 hours before the passage of USA Freedom pushed the expiration date up until 2019. It notes the legal challenges brought against the bulk collection by Ken Cuccinelli and FreedomWorks, as well as the stipulations added to the collection by the surveillance reform bill.

The order denies Cuccinelli/Freedomworks' request to shut down the bulk collection entirely but does grant their request to serve as amicus curiae -- a new position provided for by the USA Freedom Act. This, however, is limited solely to motions already presented to the court by FreedomWorks and Center for National Security Studies. And the FISA Court finds the opposition to the government's claim of 180 days' worth of uninterrupted, unaltered bulk collections to be lacking in merit. The culprit is (partially) the USA Freedom Act itself.



Leaked: What's in Obama's trade deal

Is the White House going to bat for Big Pharma worldwide?


A recent draft of the Trans-Pacific Partnership free-trade deal would give U.S. pharmaceutical firms unprecedented protections against competition from cheaper generic drugs, possibly transcending the patent protections in U.S. law.

POLITICO has obtained a draft copy of TPP’s intellectual property chapter as it stood on May 11, at the start of the latest negotiating round in Guam. While U.S. trade officials would not confirm the authenticity of the document, they downplayed its importance, emphasizing that the terms of the deal are likely to change significantly as the talks enter their final stages. Those terms are still secret, but the public will get to see them once the twelve TPP nations reach a final agreement and President Obama seeks congressional approval.

Still, the draft chapter will provide ammunition for critics who have warned that TPP’s protections for pharmaceutical companies could dump trillions of dollars of additional health care costs on patients, businesses and governments around the Pacific Rim. The highly technical 90-page document, cluttered with objections from other TPP nations, shows that U.S. negotiators have fought aggressively and, at least until Guam, successfully on behalf of Big Pharma.

The draft text includes provisions that could make it extremely tough for generics to challenge brand-name pharmaceuticals abroad. Those provisions could also help block copycats from selling cheaper versions of the expensive cutting-edge drugs known as “biologics” inside the U.S., restricting treatment for American patients while jacking up Medicare and Medicaid costs for American taxpayers.

“There’s very little distance between what Pharma wants and what the U.S. is demanding,” said Rohat Malpini, director of policy for Doctors Without Borders.



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