Incurable Disease Threatens U.S. Citrus Crop


Marc Lallanilla, LiveScience

Florida’s $9 billion orange crop, the largest in the world after Brazil’s, may not survive an incurable disease that threatens to wipe out citrus groves throughout the United States.

The disease, known as “citrus greening” or huanglongbing, is caused by a bacterium, Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus. The bacteria are spread from tree to tree by a tiny insect called the Asian citrus psyllid, The New York Times reports.

A tree affected by citrus greening may not show symptoms for years. Eventually, however, the leaves turn yellow and fall, while the tree’s fruit fails to mature, falling to the ground prematurely before the tree slowly dies.

University of California

Trees infected by citrus greening have yellowing leaves and bitter, discolored fruit.

“We have got a real big problem,” Vic Story, a lifelong Florida citrus grower, told The Times. “It’s definitely the biggest threat in my lifetime, and I’m 68. This is a tree killer.”

There is no known cure for citrus greening (which also affects grapefruit, lemons and other citrus crops), despite the best efforts of numerous research labs. The Candidatus bacteria is so devastating to citrus crops that it was classified as a bioterror weapon in 2003, The New Yorker reports.

A Global Blight

Though the Sunshine State is now the most critically affected — all 32 of Florida’s citrus-growing counties have reported the disease — the blight has also been found in California, Arizona, Texas and other states. China, Mexico and Brazil are also grappling with infestations.

And it keeps coming: Between 1985 and 2003, officials intercepted 170 cases of Asian citrus psyllids entering U.S. ports on plant material, according to a report from the University of California, Davis, Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources.

“The industry that made Florida, that is synonymous with Florida, that is a staple on every American breakfast table, is totally threatened,” Sen. Bill Nelson of Florida told The Times. “If we don’t find a cure, it will eliminate the citrus industry.”

An Industry Under Assault

Citrus greening isn’t the only problem threatening the state’s citrus industry, which employs more than 75,000 people. Rainfall in Florida this year has been 40 percent to 70 percent below the average of the past 30 years, Bloomberg reports.

Hurricanes, canker disease (another bacterial infection of citrus fruits), hard freezes and the vagaries of the international orange market, which Brazil dominates, have also battered Florida’s citrus industry.

Agricultural economists have taken note of the toll exacted by citrus greening and other threats to Florida’s most iconic crop. In April, the U.S. Department of Agriculture cut Florida’s orange crop forecast for the fifth straight month; in October 2012, the department had estimated 154 million boxes, but now expects the state to produce about 11 percent less, or roughly 138 million boxes.

Researchers Fight Back

The industry isn’t giving up easily, however. In the past six years, citrus growers have spent $60 million to establish a research center seeking to eradicate citrus greening, according to

Florida lawmakers have also approved an $8 million fund for research into the condition, while Washington State University has begun a $9-million, five-year project to develop genetically modified psyllids that cannot transmit citrus greening.

Even Coca-Cola is fighting back: The company, which owns Minute Maid, has announced plans to invest $2 billion to plant 25,000 acres of new Florida orange groves.

Coca-Cola’s investment is “a real morale boost to the industry and a sign they have confidence we will find a cure for greening,” Adam Putnam, Florida’s agriculture commissioner, told The Times.


top of page ^

Why a government-orchestrated distraction event is highly likely to occur in the next 7 days

False Flag-O-Meter reaches the red zone

Torn American Flag

Mike Adams
May 12, 2013

This is a short but urgent warning: A false flag event, an act of war, a bombing or some other headlines-grabbing orchestrated event is very likely to occur in the next seven days precisely because the Obama administration is under intense fire right now and needs a quick distraction. In stage magic, it’s called the “art of misdirection.” In politics, it’s called the “Clinton method.”

This is exactly what Bill Clinton did over and over again during his administration: Any time he was about to be raked over the coals for some political scandal, he would simply order the bombing of another “terrorist factory” somewhere around the globe. Magically, the Clinton News Network (CNN) would shift coverage to this heroic act of “national defense” and stop asking questions about his scandal back at home. That would give the Clinton administration enough time to intimidate, threaten or murder whoever might have been involved. (Vince Foster, remember?)

Right now, Hilary Clinton and President Obama are facing the possible downfall of their political careers over the Benghazi cover-up. Thanks to recent testimony, we now know that the Obama administration actually ordered the stand-down of U.S. military forces, directly causing the death of a U.S. ambassador as well as those in the embassy who attempted to save his life.

This is a scandal many times more explosive than Watergate. As the Benghazi investigation unfolds, it may very well end up in the forced resignation of Obama himself.

“Greenlighting” a pre-planned operation

To avoid that from happening, Clinton, Obama and all the other globalist minions in Washington D.C. are trying to figure out what false flag scheme they have ready to go right now. They desperately need to pull the trigger on something: a bombing, a mass shooting, a hundred dead kids bleeding out on public sidewalks or something that can distract the media (and the public) from asking too many questions on Benghazi.

Hence the red zone of the False Flag-O-Meter. It’s now sitting in very dangerous territory, and the worse the scrutiny gets over Benghazi or the recent revelations that the IRS targeted conservative groups and Jews for punitive scrutiny during the 2012 elections, the more likely a false flag event becomes.

Just so you understand real history here, false flags are the primary way governments affect sweeping policy changes. They are acts of political theater played out for the purpose of causing enough real mayhem and carnage — and blaming the right culprits — so that the public will demand government action. This plays right into the hands of government which incessantly wants to concentrate power and destroy civil liberties. Every crisis that unfolds allows it to move one step closer to its goal of dictatorial police state control.

Watch for a major event in the next 7 days

Understanding this, there is a high probability of a false flag event occurring within the next seven days: A staged terror attack on a U.S. embassy, a shooting on U.S. soil, a bombing of a government building, someone blowing up a bridge… anything to get the attention off Benghazi-gate.

FBI agents are no doubt scurrying across the country right this very minute, taking inventory of all their pre-planned terror plots and trying to determine which one they can make “real” at short notice. The FBI, in case you didn’t know, openly plots and carries out terror attacks all across the USA in order to show that it’s “stopping terrorism.” This has been confirmed by the New York Times, which rarely admits anything true about terror plots.

Whatever it is, this false flag event needs to be visually and emotionally shocking. So expect children to be sacrificed as part of it. Nothing grabs headlines on CNN faster than the blood of children, and that’s what Hilary Clinton needs right now more than anything else: a powerful, revolting distraction from her own abject criminality.

And believe me, these people would order a thousand children killed if it was necessary to save their political careers. Have no illusions about the kind of power-addicted monsters who are running the U.S. government today. There is nothing they won’t do to weasel out of being caught in a devastating lie.

I hope I’m totally wrong about this prediction, but just in case you may want to be extra vigilant for the next week or so, and if something does happen, don’t believe the White House narrative which is almost 100% guaranteed to be complete fiction.


top of page ^

FBI’s Latest Proposal for a Wiretap-Ready Internet Should Be Trashed

photo: Matt Blaze / Flickr


The FBI has some strange ideas about how to “update” federal surveillance laws: They’re calling for legislation to penalize online services that provide users with too much security.

I’m not kidding. The proposal was revealed in The Washington Post last week — and a couple days ago, a front-page story in The New York Times reported the Obama administration is preparing to back it.

Why? Federal law enforcement agencies like the FBI have long feared their wiretap capabilities would begin “going dark” as criminals and terrorists — along with ordinary citizens — shift from telephone networks, which are required to be wiretap-ready under the 1994 Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (CALEA), to the dizzying array of online communications platforms available today.

The FBI’s statutory cure against ‘going dark’ would surely be worse than the disease.

While it’s not yet clear how dire the going-dark scenario really is, the statutory “cure” proposed by the FBI — with fines starting at $25,000 a day for companies that aren’t wiretap capable — would surely be worse than the disease.

The FBI’s misguided proposal would impose costly burdens on thousands of companies (and threaten to entirely kill those whose business model centers on providing highly secure encrypted communications), while making cloud solutions less attractive to businesses and users. It would aid totalitarian governments eager to spy on their citizens while distorting business decisions about software design. Perhaps worst of all, it would treat millions of law-abiding users with legitimate security needs as presumed criminals — while doing little to hamper actual criminals.

It Stifles Innovation

The FBI’s plan would effectively make an entire category of emerging secure platforms — such as the encrypted voice app Silent Circle or the Dropbox-like cloud storage service Spider Oak — illegal overnight. Such services protect user confidentiality by ensuring that not even the company’s employees can access sensitive data; only the end users retain the encryption keys needed to unlock their content.

This is hugely attractive for users who might otherwise be wary about relying on cloud services — whether they’re businesses negotiating multi-million dollar mergers, lawyers and therapists handling confidential documents, activists in authoritarian states, or just couples looking to back up their newborn photos.

But if the FBI gets its way, companies won’t be able to adopt that “end to end” encryption model, or offer their users the security it provides. A wiretap interface is essentially an intentional security vulnerability, as network engineer Susan Landau points out — which means requiring companies to be wiretap-capable is also mandating them to design less secure services.

That comes with a potentially large economic downside — and not just to cloud companies: If cloud providers can’t promise iron-clad confidentiality, corporations may well keep operating their own outdated systems, even though shifting to a secure cloud solution would be more efficient and less expensive.

It’s Tech-Ignorant

Typically, the FBI is claiming that they just want internet platforms to be subject to the same requirements as phone networks (which are familiarly accessible to them under CALEA).

But as a group of renowned computer scientists point out in an important new paper, “Going Bright: Wiretapping without Weakening Communications Infrastructure,” this misleading analogy ignores key differences between the architectures of these networks.

For one, online platforms are altered and updated far more frequently than phone networks — and there are a hell of a lot more online services than there are phone carriers. That means an interception mandate imposes a greater burden on a larger number of much smaller firms.

It also means that as platforms evolve, the code firms deploy to provide wiretap functionality is bound to have vulnerabilities. This provides hackers with ample incentive to simultaneously compromise an entire user base — and the sweetly ironic prospect of doing so through a law enforcement interface would be irresistible to them.

More fundamentally, the internet is a decentralized packet-switched network that operates very differently from a centrally-switched phone network — and many types of online communication follow the same design principle. For example, video-chat services like Skype rely on a peer-to-peer design that doesn’t require a centralized hub to route calls. Because it doesn’t depend on a single company’s servers to handle all the traffic, this architecture makes the service resilient and allows it to scale more easily — as well as more difficult for repressive regimes to block.

But the lack of a central hub also makes peer-to-peer communications inherently trickier to intercept. And threatening hefty fines for companies that can’t reliably provide access to user communications could easily deter companies from choosing the approach, even when it makes the most sense on economic or engineering grounds.

Instead of being decided by what’s best for the vast majority of users, communications architectures would be determined by what makes things easiest for law enforcement – essentially trading off the costs of the rare and tiny fraction of users who might be criminals with the the benefits of the many.

That’s utterly at odds with the spirit of permissionless innovation that has made the internet such a spectacular engine of economic and cultural growth.

Instead of being decided by what’s best for the vast majority of users, communications architectures would be determined by what makes things easiest for law enforcement to wiretap.

And Ironically, It Won’t Really Protect Us

But if slowing innovation and weakening security is the price of catching terrorists and child pornographers, isn’t it a price worth paying?

Not if it doesn’t work.

Once it’s clear that online companies can’t promise true security, the most sophisticated and dangerous criminals will simply implement their own client-side encryption. DIY encryption may be too difficult or inconvenient for ordinary users, who benefit from services that take the hassle out of security — but the criminals the FBI is most interested in will doubtless find it worth the extra trouble.

As security researcher Matt Blaze and Susan Landau noted here in Wired, criminals, rival nation states, and rogue hackers routinely seek out and exploit vulnerabilities in our computers and networks … much faster than we can fix them. We don’t need to add wiretapping interfaces as new and “particularly juicy” targets to this cybersecurity landscape.

What we need to do is urge the FBI to find other ways to gather the evidence it needs — approaches that don’t indiscriminately compromise user security and online innovation. Instead of looking to Congress to add new vulnerabilities, the Bureau could focus on becoming better hackers of existing systems (for example, by exploiting bugs as backdoors).

In short, the FBI proposal is all cost for little to no benefit. The Obama administration needs to dump this ill-conceived scheme on the trash heap where it belongs.


top of page ^

Eyewitness: Authorities Announced “Drill” Before Boston Explosions

UM coach “thought it was odd” bomb sniffing dogs were at start and finish lines

Image: Twitter

Paul Joseph Watson
April 15, 2013

An eyewitness to the two explosions at the Boston Marathon today said that a “drill” was repeatedly announced before the bombs exploded and that he “thought it was odd” bomb sniffing dogs were in place before the blast.

University of Mobile’s Cross Country Coach Ali Stevenson told Local 15 News, “They kept making announcements on the loud speaker that it was just a drill and there was nothing to worry about. “It seemed like there was some sort of threat, but they kept telling us it was just a drill.”

The news station also reports that Stevenson “thought it was odd there were bomb sniffing dogs at the start and finish lines.”

Stevenson then describes hearing the explosions as he ran away from the scene, having just completed the marathon.

If this report is accurate, it clearly suggests there could have been some degree of prior knowledge of the bombing, which killed two people and injured at least 23.

The fact that the explosions were preceded and overlapped by a”drill” of an almost identical nature mirrors other major terror attacks, such as the 7/7 bombings in London.

It is important to emphasize that the New York Times recently reported that most of the recent domestic terror plots in the United States “were facilitated by the F.B.I.,” suggesting that today’s incident in Boston may have been part of such an operation.

It remains to be seen how the media and the Obama administration will exploit this incident depending who gets the blame, but Rahm Emanuel’s “never let a serious crisis go to waste” advisory is sure to be in play.

More on this story as it develops…..

Paul Joseph Watson is the editor and writer for and Prison He is the author of Order Out Of Chaos. Watson is also a host for Infowars Nightly News.

This article was posted: Monday, April 15, 2013 at 4:22 pm


top of page ^

Why newspapers need to hire more Christians

For starters, it would help rebut conservative concerns about media bias

Maybe more journalists ought to bring their Bible to work. Or at least read it at home.

Maybe more journalists ought to bring their Bible to work. Or at least read it at home.


ByMatt K. Lewis April 12, 2013

In what has to be one of the most compelling obituaries of the year, The New York Times recently reported on the death of former Times reporter McCandlish Phillips. 

Phillips was responsible for one of the Grey Lady’s most famous stories — about a high-ranking Ku Klux Klan leader who also happened to be Jewish. But that was only one small chapter in Phillips’ long life and career.

As the Times also noted:

An evangelical Christian, he kept a Bible on his desk and led prayer meetings for like-minded colleagues (there were none when he joined the paper, he noted ruefully) in a conference room off the newsroom.

He refrained from smoking, drinking, cursing and gambling, each of which had been refined to a high, exuberant art in the Times newsroom — the last of these to such a degree that at midcentury the newspaper employed two bookmakers-in-residence, nominally on the payroll as news clerks. [New York Times]

Conservatives have long lamented our East Coast secular media, charging that its worldview bias (even more than its overt political bias) skews America’s information supply. Too often, Christians feel like they’re cast as the type of fringe characters one might associate with the bar scene from Star Wars. (And remember, 77 percent of Americans identify as Christians.)

This longstanding lack of diversity in the newsroom is confirmed by the Times McCandlish Phillips obituary, which noted that “there were [no other evangelical Christians working at the Times] when he joined the paper.”

That was unfortunate. Media outlets who want to understand America should at least have a few journalists hanging around who share — or at least, aren’t hostile to — the Christian faith.

And, in fairness, many do. For example, The Washington Post employs E.J. Dionne and (my former editor) Melinda Henneberger — both of whom are liberals well versed in faith. They write eloquently on religious topics.

I asked Henneberger about her faith in her work. Here’s what she said:

No one has ever said anything about it in any newsroom I’ve ever worked in — well, except for Maureen Dowd once walking by my desk, catching a glimpse of me wearing my grandmother’s extremely large cross, which her grandmother had worn on the boat to America, and saying, “Oh my God, even Madonna doesn’t wear those anymore.”

Anyway, no one ever would say a word at the Post, I don’t think; there are plenty of other believers of all kinds there, and they seem to value diversity of experience and opinion along with every other kind, which I really appreciate. 

I’ll tell you what’s a trip, though: Being Catholic at the center of the secular universe, Harvard, where I’m doing a fellowship this semester at the Kennedy School’s Shorenstein Center. The topic has come up more than it would have otherwise because of the conclave, but what people always say is, “But you’re lapsed, right?” At a dinner recently, the hostess followed that up with, “But you’re pro-choice, RIGHT?” Thought for a minute there I might not get dinner… 

The Post also features syndicated columnists like Michael Gerson. And, of course, there is the terrific young New York Times conservative columnist Ross Douthat, who also authored the book Bad Religion: How we became a nation of heretics.

Why does this matter? This sort of diversity isn’t just important because of the creeping worldview bias, but also in terms of selection bias. For example, writing in USA Today, liberal commentator Kirsten Powers, who recently spoke with Jonathan Merritt about her faith, begins her latest column thusly:

Infant beheadings. Severed baby feet in jars. A child screaming after it was delivered alive during an abortion procedure. Haven’t heard about these sickening accusations?

It’s not your fault. Since the murder trial of Pennsylvania abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell began March 18, there has been precious little coverage of the case that should be on every news show and front page. [USA Today]

As Powers notes, this story should be garnering more media attention, but it isn’t.

Powers’ faith no doubt informs her journalism, probably making it more likely that she will cover stories about abortion and human trafficking that some of her colleagues might not be as likely to explore.

I’ll close with something The Huffington Post‘s senior political reporter Jon Ward recently told me: “[M]y identity is not based in how many bylines I have. It’s not based on how many times I’ve been on television or how many people see my face or know about me. Of course, writers are driven by ego. Of course, George Orwell said that. My identity, though, is, I’m a sinner saved by grace. That’s my identity.”


top of page ^