The US Senate is poised to pass the USA Freedom Act now that major surveillance powers vested in the USA Patriot Act have expired. The House-passed bill, representing a slightly less intrusive spying law, will come to a vote on Tuesday. ….
The USA Freedom Act would move the responsibility of holding phone records to private companies. Intelligence agencies like the NSA would then ask the companies for specific data on an individual allegedly connected to a terror group or foreign nation.
The Act also requires heightened transparency measures associated with government data searches, and it would allow tech companies to be more forthcoming regarding how many times they are tapped for data by government agencies. The bill also offers more access to case opinions made by judges of the secretive Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which has oversight over surveillance of suspects overseas.
Many in opposition to the Patriot Act say the USA Freedom Act is not a meaningful check on government spying capabilities. A leading critic of government surveillance in the US House, Rep.Justin Amash (R-Mich.) described the Freedom Act as a “step in the wrong direction by specifically authorizing such collection in violation of the Fourth Amendment.”
Others have pointed out that the USA Freedom Act will not address other surveillance powers the government can employ. Should the Senate approve the reform bill, “it’ll be suspicionless spying as usual until the next big surveillance provision, section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act sunsets at the end of 2017,”said Jennifer Granick, director of Civil Liberties at the Stanford Center for Internet and Society.
Edward Snowden revealed the government uses Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act to authorize digital surveillance on foreign persons, which, tech experts say has involved exploiting security weaknesses on behalf of the government and, as a result, secretly undermining the protocols meant to protect online activity.
“Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act conceals some of the worst mass surveillance operations,” he said recently. “In basic terms, the government here prefers to ignore that the 4th Amendment prohibits not just the unwarranted search of private records, but also the initial seizure of them as well. I suspect that’s likely to haunt not only them, but all of us as well.”
Snowden also pointed to Executive Order 12333, signed by President Ronald Reagan in 1981, which requires government agencies to comply with data requests made by the CIA. He said the order, which has been used to justify the collection of unencrypted material, is a “skeleton in the closet,” but that changing it will be difficult “because the White House argues these operations are simply above the law and cannot be regulated by congress or the courts.”
Several civil liberties advocates are strictly opposing the USA Freedom Act because it does not go far enough in curbing unchecked surveillance.
“The sacrifices made by the USA FREEDOM Act of 2015 are unacceptable,” wrote several groups and intelligence community whistleblowers in a letter urging a vote against the reform bill.
“The modest changes within this bill, in turn, fail to reform mass surveillance, of Americans and others, conducted under Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act of 2008 and Executive Order 12333. Given intelligence agencies’ eagerness to subvert any attempts by Congress to rein in massive surveillance programs by changing the legal authorities under which they operate, the modest, proposed changes are no reform at all.”
Just thirty short years ago, 1 in 10,000 children were diagnosed with autism in the United States. The latest statistics show 1 in 50 children now have autism. Dr. Stephanie Seneff, a researcher at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), believes we could be looking at half the children in America as autistic within the next ten years.
What is at the root of this disturbing trend? It cannot be genetic because genes do not mutate that rapidly, asserts Dr. Joseph Mercola. Instead, he feels there can be no doubt the skyrocketing rate has an environmental cause. Dr. Seneff agrees. And she’s convinced that she has found the culprit.
Connecting the dots
For the last 30 years, Dr. Seneff has been fascinated with the potential reasons behind autism after a close friend had a son who was diagnosed. Having conducted research at MIT for decades, she has an undergraduate degree in biology and a minor in food and nutrition. Over the the years, Dr. Seneff’s research has provided pioneering insights into the vital importance of sulfur for health. She’s also discovered that glyphosate (the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup Ready) severely affects how sulfur is utilized within the body.
“[W]e show how interference with CYP enzymes acts synergistically with disruption of the biosynthesis of aromatic amino acids by gut bacteria, as well as impairment in serum sulfate transport,” the study authors note.
“Consequences are most of the diseases and conditions associated with a Western diet, which include gastrointestinal disorders, obesity, diabetes, heart disease, depression, autism, infertility, cancer and Alzheimer’s disease. … [T]he recent alarming increase in all of these health issues can be traced back to a combination of gut dysbiosis, impaired sulfate transport, and suppression of the activity of the various members of the cytochrome P450 (CYP) family of enzymes.”
Dr. Seneff established two central issues in autism that are related to glyphosate exposure:
- Disrupted sulfur metabolism / sulfur and sulfate deficiency. Autistic children have about 1/3 of sulfur levels compared to an average child.
- Gut dysbiosis — the imbalance of gut bacteria, inflammation, leaky gut and food allergies.
The party line of Monsanto is that Roundup is absolutely harmless to animals and people because it uses the shikimate pathway (which is absent from animals and humans) to kill weeds. Be that as it may, the minor detail Monsanto chose to omit is that the shikimate pathway IS found in bacteria. And these microbes within the body outnumber the cells in the human body by a ratio of 10 to 1.
“Glyphosate causes extreme disruption of the microbe’s function and lifecycle. What’s worse, glyphosate preferentially affects beneficial bacteria, allowing pathogens to overgrow and take over. At that point, your body also has to contend with the toxins produced by the pathogens. Once the chronic inflammation sets in, you’re well on your way toward chronic and potentially debilitating disease,” said Dr. Mercola.
In short, glyphosate damages beneficial bacteria in the gut, allowing for harmful bacteria to flourish, which in turn, begin pumping out their own poisons. These toxins damage the gut lining and encourage leaky gut syndrome. At this point, the toxins are able to seep into the blood stream and migrate to various areas of the body, including the brain. The effect? Inflammation goes into high gear, thereby triggering autoimmune disease and food sensitivities — including gluten intolerance and celiac disease.
To make matters worse, certain microbes breakdown glyphosate into the toxic byproduct of ammonia, causing brain inflammation and subsequent developmental delays. Children with autism are shown to have remarkably higher levels of ammonia than the general population.
Another damaging substance associated with genetically modified foods is formaldehyde, which in humans devastates DNA and encourages cancer. Genetically modified corn, for example, exceeds safe maximum levels of formaldehyde established in animal tests — by a factor of 200…